FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS AND THEIR FRIENDS
FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS AND THEIR FRIENDS
AUTHOR OF "FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS ABROAD" "A LITTLE MAID OF CONCORD TOWN"
"SALLY MRS. TUBBS" ETC.
Illustrated by Eugenie M. Wireman
[Illustration: "What are you doing Phronsie sitting down in the middle
of the stairs?"--(See page 46.)]
To my daughter Margaret
who to her friends embodies
"Polly Pepper" in her
girlhood I dedicate most
lovingly this book.
There were so many interesting friends of the Five Little Peppers
whose lives were only the faintest of outlines in the series ending
when Phronsie was grown up that a volume devoted to this outer
circle has been written to meet the persistent demand.
Herein the author records many happenings that long ago Ben and Polly
Joel and David told her. And even Phronsie whispered some of it
confidentially into the listening ear. "Tell about Rachel please"
she begged; and Margaret Sidney promised to write it all down some
And that day seems to have arrived in which it all should be recorded
and the promise fulfilled. For the Five Little Peppers loved their
friends very dearly and were loyal and true to them. And hand in
hand the circle widening ever they lived and loved as this history
I. A FIVE-O'CLOCK TEA
III. CLEM FORSYTHE
IV. MISS TAYLOR'S WORKING BEE
V. "SHE'S MY LITTLE GIRL"
VI. GRANDMA BASCOM
VII. THE DISAPPOINTMENT
VIII. THE GARDEN PARTY
IX. THE TEN-DOLLAR BILL
X. TROUBLE FOR JOEL
XII. DOINGS AT THE PARSONAGE
XIII. "SHE'S GOING TO STAY HERE FOREVER"
XIV. "CAN'T GO" SAID JOEL
XV. UP IN ALEXIA'S PRETTY ROOM
XVI. THE ACCIDENT
XVII. JOEL'S ADVENTURE
XVIII. THE COMFORT COMMITTEE
XIX. JOEL'S NEW FRIEND
XX. THE COOKING CLUB
XXI. OF MANY THINGS IN GENERAL
XXII. RACHEL'S VISIT TO MISS PARROTT
XXIII. THE OLD PARROTT HOMESTEAD
XXIV. RACHEL'S FUTURE
XXV. JACK PARISH
XXVI. MR. HAMILTON DYCE A TRUE FRIEND
XXVII. A PIECE OF GOOD NEWS
XXVIII. THE LITTLE STONE CUPBOARD
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING PHRONSIE SITTING DOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STAIRS?"
"BUT THIS IS TEN DOLLARS" SAID JOEL
"ON LARRY" SAID MISS TAYLOR GENTLY BENDING OVER HIM
"YES SIR" CALLED JOEL BACK FROM THE ALCOVE
THE UNLUCKY OAR WAS SEIZED BY THE TRIUMPHANT CREW
"I USED TO PLAY WITH IT" SHE SAID SOFTLY
HE STOOD IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LITTLE SHOP
A FIVE-O'CLOCK TEA
"I wish" said Phronsie slowly "that you'd come in little girl."
"Can't." The girl at the gate peered through the iron railings pressing
her nose quite flat to give the sharp restless black eyes the best
"Please do" begged Phronsie coming up quite close; "I very much wish you
"Can't" repeated the girl on the outside. "Cop won't let me."
"Who?" asked Phronsie much puzzled and beginning to look frightened.
"Perlice." The girl nodded briefly taking her face away from the iron
railings enough to accomplish that ceremony. Then she plastered her nose up
against its support again and stared at Phronsie with all her might.
"Oh" said Phronsie with a little laugh that chased away her fright"
there isn't any big policeman here. This is Grandpapa's garden."
"'Tain't it's the perliceman's; everything's the perliceman's"
contradicted the girl snapping one set of grimy fingers defiantly.
"Oh no" said Phronsie softly but very decidedly "this is my dear
Grandpapa's home and the big policeman can't get in here ever."
"Oh you ninny!" The girl staring at her through the railings stopped a
minute to laugh covering both hands over her mouth to smother the sound.
"The perlice can go everywheres they want to. I guess some of 'em's in
heaven now spyin' round."
Phronsie dropped the doll she was carrying close to her bosom to
concentrate all her gaze up toward the sky in wide-eyed amazement that
allowed her no opportunity to carry on the conversation.
"An' I couldn't no more get into this 'ere garden than I could into
heaven" the girl on the outside said at last to bring back the blue eyes
to earth "so don't you think it you. But oh my don't I wish I could
There was so much longing in the voice that Phronsie brought her gaze down
from the policemen in their heavenly work to the eyes staring at her. And
she clasped her hands together tightly and hurried up to lay her face
against the big iron gate and close to that of the girl.
"He won't hurt you the big policeman won't" she whispered softly. "I'll
take hold of your hand and tell him how it is if he gets in. Come."
"Can't" the girl was going to say but her gaze rested upon the doll lying
on the grass where it fell from Phronsie's hand. "Lawks! may I just have
one good squint at that?" she burst out.
"You may hold it" said Phronsie bobbing her head till her yellow hair
fell over her flushed cheeks.
The gate flew open suddenly nearly overthrowing her; and the girl mostly
all legs and arms dashed through picking up the doll to squeeze it to her
neck so tightly that Phronsie rushed up quite alarmed.
"Oh don't" she cried "you'll frighten her. I'll tell her how it is and
then she'll like you."
"I'll make her like me" said the girl with savage thrusts at the doll
and kissing it all over.
"Oh my ain't you sweet!" and she cuddled it fiercely in her scrawny neck
her tangled black hair falling around its face.
"Oh dear!" wailed Phronsie standing quite still "she's my child and
she's dreadfully frightened. Oh please little girl don't do so."
"She's been your child forever and I've never had a child." The girl
raised her black head to look sternly at Phronsie. "I'll give her back; but
she's mine now."
"Haven't you ever had a child?" asked Phronsie suddenly two or three
tears trailing off her round cheeks to drop in the grass and she drew a
long breath and winked very fast to keep the others back.
"Not a smitch of one" declared the other girl decidedly "an' I'm a-goin'
to hold this one and pretend I'm its mother."
Phronsie drew a long breath and drew slowly near.
"You may" she said at last.
The new mother didn't hear being hungrily engaged in smoothing her child's
cheeks against her own dirty ones first one side of the face and then the
other and twitching down the dainty pink gown gone awry during the
hugging process and alternately scolding and patting the little figure.
This done she administered a smart slap plunged over to the nearest tree
and set the doll with a thud on the grass to rest against its trunk.
"Sit up like a lady" she commanded.
"Oh don't!" cried Phronsie quite horror-stricken and running over on
distressed feet. "She's my child" she gasped.
"No she's mine an' I'm teachin' her manners. I ain't through pretendin'
yet" said the girl. She put out a long arm and held Phronsie back.
"But you struck her." Phronsie lifted a pale face and her blue eyes
flashed very much as Polly's brown ones did on occasion.
The new mother whirled around and stared at her.
"Why I had to just the same as you're licked when you're bad" she said
"What's 'licked'?" asked Phronsie overcome with curiosity yet keeping her
eyes on her child bolt upright against the tree.
"Why whipped" said the girl "just the same as you are when you're bad."
Phronsie drew a long breath.
"I've never been whipped" she said slowly.
"Oh my Lord!" The girl tumbled down to the grass and rolled over and over
coming up suddenly to sit straight wipe her tangled black hair out of her
eyes and stare at Phronsie. "Well you are a reg'lar freak you are" was
all she could say.
"What's a 'freak'?" asked Phronsie actually turning her back on her child
to give all her attention to this absorbing conversation with its most
"It's--oh Jumbo!" and over she flopped again to roll and laugh. "Well
there!" and she jumped to her feet so quickly she nearly overthrew
Phronsie who had drawn closer unable to miss a bit of this very strange
proceeding. "Now I'm through pretending an' I haven't got any child an'
you may have her back." She wrung her grimy hands together and turned her
back on the object of so much attention. "Take her quick; she's yours."
Phronsie hurried over to the doll sitting up in pink loveliness against
the tree knelt down on the grass and patted her with gentle hand and
smoothed down her curls. A curious sound broke in upon her work and she
looked up and listened. "I must go back" she whispered to her child and
in a minute she was running around the figure of the girl to stare into
"Ow--get out!" cried the girl crossly and she whirled off pulling up her
ragged dress to her face.
"I thought I heard you cry" said Phronsie in a troubled voice and
following her in distress.
"Phoo!" cried the girl snapping her fingers in derision and spinning
around on the tips of her toes "'twas the cat."
"No" said Phronsie decidedly and shaking her head "it couldn't be the
cat because she doesn't hardly ever cry and besides she isn't here"--and
she looked all around--"don't you see she isn't?"
"Well then 'twas that bird" said the girl pointing up to a high branch.
"Ain't you green not to think of him!"
"I don't _think_ it was the bird" said Phronsie slowly and peering
up anxiously "and he doesn't cry again so I 'most know he couldn't have
"Well he will if you wait long enough" said the girl defiantly.
"Chee chee chee" sang the bird with delicious little trills and
shaking them out so fast his small throat seemed about to burst with its
"There you see he couldn't cry" began Phronsie in a burst of delight;"
you see little girl" and she hopped up and down in glee.
"He's got the 'sterics an' he'll cry next like enough" said the girl.
"What's 'the 'sterics'?" asked Phronsie coming out of her glee and
drawing nearer. "Oh I see some tears" and she looked soberly up into the
thin dirty face and forgot all about her question.
"No you don't either." The girl twitched away angrily. "There ain't never
no tears you could see on me; 'twas the cat or the bird. Ain't you green
though! You're green as that grass there" and she spun round and round
snapping her fingers all the while.
Phronsie stood quite still and regarded her sorrowfully.
"Don't you believe I cried!" screamed the girl dashing up to her to snap
her fingers in Phronsie's face; "say you don't this minute."
"But I think you did" said Phronsie. "Oh. I'm very sure you did and you
may hold my child again if you only won't cry any more" and she clasped
her hands tightly together. The other girl started and ran toward the big
"Oh don't!" Phronsie called after her and ran to overtake the flying
feet. "Please stay with me. I like you; don't go."
The girl threw her head back as if something hurt her throat then leaned
her face against the iron railings and stuck her fingers in her ears.
"Don't! lemme alone! go 'way can't you!" She wriggled off from Phronsie's
fingers. "I'll lick you if you don't lemme be!"
"I wish you'd play with me" said Phronsie having hard work to keep out of
the way of the flapping shoes all down at the heel "and you may have
Clorinda for your very own child as long as you stay--you may really."
"Ow! see here!" Up came the girl's face and with a defiant sweep of her
grimy hands she brushed both cheeks. "Do you mean that honest true black
"Yes" said Phronsie very much relieved to see the effect of her
invitation "I do mean it little girl. Come and I'll tell Clorinda all
how it is."
"I'm goin' outside to walk up and down a bit. Bring on your doll."
"But you must come here" said Phronsie moving off slowly backward over
the grass. "Come little girl"--holding out her hand.
"Now I know you didn't mean it" said the girl scornfully. "You wouldn't
let me touch that nasty old doll of yours again for nothin' you wouldn't"
she shrilled at her.
"Oh yes I would" declared Phronsie in great distress; "see I'm going
to get her now" and she turned around and hurried over the grass to pick
Clorinda off from her resting-place and run back. "There see little
girl" she cried breathlessly thrusting the doll into the dirty hands;
"take her now and we'll go and play."
For answer the girl clutched the doll and sped wildly off through the
"Oh!" cried Phronsie running after with pink cheeks and outstretched arms
"give me back my child; stop little girl."
But there wras no stop to the long thin figure flying down the path on the
other side of the tall hedge. It was a back passage and few pedestrians
used the path; in fact there were none on it this afternoon so the
children had it all to themselves. And on they went Phronsie with but one
thought--to rescue her child from the depths of woe such as being carried
off by a strange mother would produce--blindly plunging after.
At last the girl with the doll stopped suddenly flung herself up against a
stone fence and drew a long breath.
"Well what you goin' to do about it?" she cried defiantly clutching the
doll with a savage grip.
Phronsie too far gone for words sank panting down to the curbstone to
watch her with wild eyes.
"You said I might take her" the girl blurted out. "I hain't took nothin'
but what you give me. I want to play with her to my home. You come with me
and then you can take her back with you."
"I can't" said Phronsie in a faint little voice. Her cheeks were very
red and she wiped her hot face on her white apron. "You must give me
Clorinda and I must go home" and she held out a shaking hand.
But the girl danced off and Phronsie without a thought beyond the rescue
of her child stumbled on after her scarcely seeing one step before her
for the tears that despite all her efforts now began to stream down her
At last in trying to turn out for a baker's boy with a big basket she
caught her foot and fell a tired little heap flat in a mud puddle in the
middle of the brick pavement.
"My eye!" cried the baker's boy lifting her up. "Here you girl your
sister's fell ker-squash!"
At this the flying girl in front whirled suddenly and came running back
and took in the situation at once.
"Come on you lazy thing you!" she exclaimed; then she burst into a laugh.
"Oh how you look!"
"Give me back--" panted Phronsie rubbing away the tears with her muddy
hands regardless of her splashed clothes and dirty shoes.
"Keep still can't you?" cried the girl gripping her arm as two or three
pedestrians paused to stare at the two. "Come on sister" and she seized
Phronsie's hand and bore her off. But on turning the corner she stopped
abruptly and still holding the doll closely she dropped to one knee and
wiped off the tears from the muddy little cheeks with a not ungentle hand.
"You've got to be my sister" she said in a gush "else the hoodlums will
tear you from neck to heels." And seizing Phronsie's hand again she bore
her off dodging between rows of dwellings that if her companion could
have seen would have certainly proved to be quite novel. But Phronsie was
by this time quite beyond noticing any of the details of her journey and
after turning a corner or two she was hauled up several flights of rickety
steps strange to say without the usual accompaniment of staring eyes and
comments of the various neighbors in the locality.
"There!" The girl still clutching the doll flung wide the rickety door.
"My ain't I glad to get here though!" and she drew a long breath
releasing Phronsie's hand who immediately slid to the floor in a collapsed
little heap. "Well this is my home--ain't it pretty though!"
Phronsie thus called on for a reply tried very hard to answer but the
words wouldn't come.
"You needn't try" said the girl slamming the door "'tain't likely you
can praise it enough" and she broke out into a hard sarcastic laugh
which shrilled its way out of the one window whose broken glass was
adorned with nondescript fillings.
"See here now you're all beat out" she exclaimed suddenly; then rushing
across the room she dragged up a broken chair and jammed it against the
door. "There now we're by ourselves an' you can rest."
"I must go home" said Phronsie faintly and holding up her tired arms.
"Give me my child; I must go home."