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Title:SecretHistoryRevealedByLadyPeggyO'Malley
Author:C.N.WilliamsonandA.M.Williamson
Illustrator:ClarenceRowe
ReleaseDate:September17,2006[EBook#19304]
Language:English

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SecretHistoryRevealedbyLady

PeggyO'Malley


ByC.N.&A.M.WILLIAMSON
AUTHOROF"TheLightningConductorDiscoversAmerica,""A
SoldieroftheLegion,""LadyBettyAcrosstheWater,"Etc.
WithFrontispieceinColorsByCLARENCEROWE
A.L.BURTCOMPANY
PublishersNewYork
Publishedbyarrangementswith
DOUBLEDAY,PAGEandCOMPANY
Copyright,1915,by
C.N.&A.M.WILLIAMSON
Allrightsreserved,includingthatoftranslationintoforeignlanguages,
includingtheScandinavian

"AsIkickeditaway,oneoftheslippersflewoffandseemed
spitefullytofollowthecoat."


CONTENTS
CHAPTERI
CHAPTERII
CHAPTERIII
CHAPTERIV
CHAPTERV
CHAPTERVI
CHAPTERVII
CHAPTERVIII
CHAPTERIX
CHAPTERX
CHAPTERXI
CHAPTERXII
CHAPTERXIII
CHAPTERXIV
CHAPTERXV
CHAPTERXVI
CHAPTERXVII
CHAPTERXVIII
CHAPTERXIX


CHAPTERXX
CHAPTERXXI
CHAPTERXXII
CHAPTERXXIII
CHAPTERXXIV
CHAPTERXXV


CHAPTERI
If I didn't tell this, nobody else ever would; certainly not Diana, nor Major
Vandyke—stilllessEaglehimself—ImeanCaptainEaglestonMarch;andthey
andIaretheonlyoneswhoknow,exceptafewsuchpeopleaspresidentsand
secretaries of war and generals, who never tell anything even under torture.
Besides,thereistheunofficialpart.Withoutthat,thedramawouldbelikeaplay
in three acts, with the first and third acts chopped off. The presidents and
secretariesofwarandgeneralsknownothingabouttheunofficialpart.
It'sstrangehowthebiggestthingsoflifegrowoutofthetiniestones.Thereis
theoldsimileoftheacornandtheoak,forinstance.Butoakstakealongtimeto
grow,andeverybodyconcernedinoakcultureiscalmlyexpectingthemtodoit.
Imagineanacornexplodingtoletoutanoakhugeenoughtoshadowtheworld!
If, two years ago, when I was sixteen, I hadn't wanted money to buy a white
frockwithrosesonit,whichIsawinSelfridge'swindow,asecretcrisisbetween
the United States and Mexico would have been avoided; and the career of a
splendidsoldierwouldnothavebeenbroken.
OnemonthbeforeImetthewhitedress,DianaandFatherandIhadcomefrom
home—that's Ballyconal—to see what good we could do with a season in
London;goodforDiana,Imean,andIputherbeforeFatherbecausehedoesso
himself. Every one else he puts far, far behind, like the beasts following Noah
into the Ark. Not that I'm sure, without looking them up, that they did follow
Noah.ButifithadbeenFather,hewouldhavearrangeditinthatway,toescape
seeingtheiruglyfacesorsmellingthosewhowerenotnicetosmell.
IsupposeIshouldhavebeenleftatBallyconal,withnothingtodobutstudymy
beloved French and Spanish, my sole accomplishments; only Father had
contrivedtolettheplace,throughtheNewYorkHerald,toanAmericanfamily
who, poor dears, snapped it up by cable from the description in the
advertisement of "a wonderful XII Century Castle." Besides, Diana couldn't
affordamaid.Andthat'swhyIwastakentoAmericaafterward.Icandohair
beautifully. So, when one thinks back, Fate had begun to weave a web long
beforethemakingofthatwhitedress.Noneofthosetremendousthingswould
havehappenedtochange heavenknowshowmanylives,ifIhadn'tbeenborn


with the knack of a hairdresser, inherited perhaps from some bourgeoise
ancestressofmineonMother'sside.
When theAmericanfamilyfound out whatBallyconalwasreally like, andthe
twelfth-century rats had crept out from the hinterland of the old wainscoting
("rich in ancient oak," the advertisement stated), to scamper over its faces by
night, and door knobs had come off in its hands by day, or torn carpets had
tripped it upandsprained its ankles,it saidbadwords aboutdeceitful,stoneybrokeIrishearls,andfledattheendofafortnight,havingpaidfortwomonthsin
advanceattherateofthirty-fiveguineasaweek.Fatherhadbeensadlysurethat
theAmericanswoulddothatverything,sohehadcountedongettingonlythe
advancemoneyandnomore.Thismeantcheaplodgingsforus,whichspoiled
Diana'schancesfromthestart,asshetoldFathertheminuteshesawthehouse.
It was in a fairly good neighbourhood, and the address looked fashionable on
paper; but man, and especially girl, may not live on neighbourhood and paper
alone,evenifthelattercanbepepperedwithcoronets.
Idon'tknowwhatcurseormildewcollectsonpoorIrishearls,butitsimplygoes
nowheretobeoneinLondon;andthentherewasthehandicapofFather'stwo
quaintmarriages.Diana'smotherwasamusic-hall"artiste"(isn'tthattheword?)
without any money except what she earned, and also—I heard a woman say
once, when she thought Little Pitcher's ears were engaged elsewhere—without
any"h's"exceptinthewrongplaces.
Mymother,thepoordarling,musthavebeenjustasunsuitableinherway.She
was a French chocolate heiress, whom Father married to mend the family
fortunes,whenDianawasfive;butsomeoneshortlyaftersprangonthemarket
abetterchocolatethanherpeoplemade,soshewasafailure,too,andnoteven
beautiful like Diana's mother. Luckily for her, she died when I was born; but
neithershenorthe"artiste"canhavehelpedFathermuch,withthesmartfriends
ofhisyoungdayswhenhewasoneofthebest-lookingbachelorsintown.
Diana was considered beautiful, but "the image of her mother," by those
inconvenient creatures who run around the world remembering other people's
pasts;andthoughsheandFatherwereinvitedtolotsofbigcrushes,theyweren't
asked to any of the charming intimate things which Diana says are the right
backgroundforadébutante.ThiswenttoDi'sheartandFather'sliver,andmade
thembothdreadfullyhardtogetonwith.Cinderellawasn'tinitwithme,except
that when they were beastly, I was beastly back again; a relief to which
Cinderellaprobablydidn'ttreatherself,beingafairy-storyheroine,stuffedwith


virtuesasasultanacakeisstuffedwithplums.
ThedayIaskedFatherforthewhitefrockwithrosesonitinSelfridge'swindow,
hewassodisagreeablethatIwenttomyroomandslammedthedoorandkicked
achair.ItwastruethatIdidnotneedthedress,becauseIneverwentanywhere
andwasonlyaflapper(it'salmostmoreunpleasanttobecalledaflapperthana
"mouthtofeed");still,therealpleasureofhavingathingiswhenyoudon'tneed
it,butjustwantit.Thefartherawayfrommethatgownseemedtorecede,the
more I longed for it; and when Father told me not to nag or be a little idiot, I
determinedthatsomehoworother,byhookorcrook,thefrockshouldhangon
mywallbehindthechintzcurtainwhichcallsitselfawardrobe.
Themorningoftherefusal,FatherandDiwerestartingofftobeawayallthat
day and night. They were asked to a ridiculous house party given by a rich,
suburbanPicklefamilyatEpsomfortheDerby,andDihadbeengrumblingthat
itwasexactlythesortofinvitationtheywouldget:foronenightandtheDerby,
insteadofAscot.However,itwasthetimeofthemonthforamoon,andquite
decentyoungmenhadbeenenticed;soDiwasn'tsoverysorryforherselfafter
all. Her nickname at home in Ireland, "Diana the Huntress," had been already
imported, free of duty, to England, by a discarded flirtée; but I don't think she
minded, it sounded so dashing, even if it was only grasping. She went off
moderatelyhappy;andIwasleftwithtwenty-fourhoursonmyhandstodecide
bywhathook,orwhatcrook,IcouldpossiblyannexthedresswhichIfelthad
beenbornforme.
AtlastIthoughtofawaythatmightdo.Mypoorlittlechocolatemothermadea
will the day before she died, when I was a week old, leaving everything she
possessed to me. Of course her money was all gone, because she had been
married for two years to Father, and Himself is a very expensive man. But he
hadn'tspentherjewelsyet,norherweddingveil,norafewotherpiecesoflace.
Sincethenhe'swheedledmostofthejewelleryoutofme,buttheweddingveilI
mean to keep always, and a Point d'Alençon scarf and some handkerchiefs he
has probably forgotten. I had forgotten them, too, but when I was racking my
brain how to get the Selfridge dress, the remembrance tumbled down off its
dustylittleshelf.
The legacies were at the bottom of my trunk, because it was simpler to bring
them away from Ballyconal, than find a stowaway place that the American
family wouldn't need for its belongings. The veil nothing would have induced
me to part with; but the scarf was so old, I felt sure it must have come to my


mother from a succession of chocolate or perhaps soap or sardine
grandmammas,andIhadn'tmuchsentimentaboutit.Ihadnopreciseideawhat
thelaceoughttobeworth,butIfanciedPointd'Alençonmustbevaluable,andI
thought I ought to get more than enough by selling it to buy the white dress,
whichcostsevenguineas.
Taxying through Wardour Street with Di, I had often noticed an antique shop
appropriately crusted with the grime of centuries, all but the polished window,
wherelaceandchinaandbitsofoldsilverweredisplayed.Itseemedtomethata
person intelligent enough to combine odds and ends with such fetching effect
oughttobethemantoappreciatemygreat—orgreatgreat-grandmother'sscarf.I
didn't run to taxis when alone, and would as soon have got into one of those
appalling motor buses as leap on to the back of a mad elephant that had
berserkeredoutoftheZoo.Consequently,Ihadtowalk.Itwasanuntidy,badly
dustedday,withahotwind;andIrealized,whenIcaughtsightofmyselfina
convex mirror in the curiosity-shop window, that I looked rather like a small
femaleeditionofStrumpelpeter.
There was a bell on the door which, like a shrill, disparaging leit motif,
announcedme,andmademesuddenlyself-conscious.Ithadn'toccurredtome
before that there was anything to be ashamed of or frightened about in my
errand. I'd vaguely pictured the shopman as a dear old Dickensy thing who
wouldtakeafussyinterestinmeandmyscarf,andwhowould,withafatherly
manner, press upon me a handful of sovereigns or a banknote. But as the bell
jangled,oneofthemostrepulsivemenIeversawlookedtowardthedoor.There
wasanothermanintheplace,talkingtothefirstcreature,andhelookedup,too.
Noteventheblindestbat,however,couldhavemistakenhimforashopkeeper,
andhisbeingthereputnotonlyadifferentcomplexiononthebusiness,buton
me.Ifeltmineturningbrightpink,insteadoftheusualcreamthataccompanies
thechocolate-colouredhairandeyeswithwhichIadvertisetheindustryofmy
Frenchancestors.
TheshopmanstaredatmewithasulkylookexactlylikethatofNebuchadnezzar,
ourboarpigfromYorkshire,whichtookaprizeforitsnoseorsomething.This
personmighthavewonaprizeforhisnosealso,ifanofferhadbeengoingfor
largeones.Therestofhisface,olivegreenandfat,wasintheperspectiveofthis
nose,justasthelesserproportionsofhisbody,suchaschestandlegs,werein
theperspectiveofhis—waist.TheshopwasmuchsmallerthanIhadexpected
from the window—a place you might have swung a cat in without giving it
concussionofthebrain,butnotalion;andthemen—thefatproprietorandhis


long,leancustomer,andtwosuitsofdeformed-lookingarmour,seemedalmost
to fill it. I've heard an actor talk about a theatre being so tiny he was "on the
audience";andthesetwowereontheirs,theaudiencebeingme.Iwassocloseto
the fat one that I could see the crumbs on the folds of his waistcoat, like food
stored on cupboard shelves. I took such a dislike to him that I felt inclined to
bounce out as quickly as I had bounced in, but the door had banged
mechanically behind me, as if to stop the bell at any cost. The shop smelt of
mothpowder,oldleather,mustypaper,andhairoil.
"Well,mylittlegirl,whatdoyouwant?"inquiredNebuchadnezzar,withthekind
oflispthatturnsaratintoayat.
Littlegirl,indeed!Tobecalleda"littlegirl"byathinglikethat,andaskedwhat
I wanted in that second-hand Hebrew tone, made me boil for half a second.
Then, suddenly, I saw that it was funny, and I almost giggled as I imagined
myselfhaughtilyexplainingthatIhadreachedtheageofsixteen,tosaynothing
of being the daughter of two or three hundred earls. I didn't care a tuppenny
anythingwhetherhemistookmefornineorninety;butIdidbegintofeelthatit
wouldn'tbepleasantunrollingmytissue-paperparcelandbargainingformoney
undertheeyesandearsoftheotherman.
Theywereveryniceeyesandears.AlreadyI'dhadtimetonoticethat;foreven
in these days, when men aren't supposed to be as indispensable to females as
they were in Edwardian or Victorian and earlier ages, I don't think it's entirely
obsoleteforagirltolearnmoreaboutaman'slooksinthreesecondsthanshe
picksupaboutanotherwoman'sfrockintwo.
Thismanwasn'twhatmostgirlsofsixteenwouldcallyoung;butIamdifferent
frommostgirlsbecauseI'vealwayshadtobeasortoflawuntomyself,inorder
nottobecomeafamilyfootstool.I'vehadtomakeupmymindabouteverything
orriskmybraindegeneratingintoabathsponge;andoneofthethingsImadeit
upaboutearlywasthatIdidn'tlikeboysornuts.Thecustomerinthecuriosity
shop, to whom the proprietor was showing perfect ducks of Chelsea lambs
plastered against green Chelsea bushes, was, maybe, twenty-eight or thirty, a
greatageforawoman,butnotsobadforaman;andIwishedtogoodnesshe
would buy or not buy a lamb and go forth about other business. However, I
couldn'tindefinitelydelayansweringthatquestionaddressedto"littlegirl."
"Iwanttoshowyouapoint-lacescarf,"Isnapped.Nebuchadnezzar'sunderstudy
squeezedhimselfoutfrombehindthecounter,andlumberedasteportwonearer


me, moving not straight ahead, but from side to side, as tables do for
spiritualists.
"We don't mend lace here, if that's what you've come for, my child," he
patronizedme.
"Itdoesn'tneedtobemended,"saidI."It'sbeautifullace.It'stobesold."
"Oa—oh,"heexplodedwithacockneydrawl,andarudelookcomingintohis
eyeswhichhe'dkeptoutwhiletherewashopethatthedusty,blown-aboutlittle
thingmightturnintoacustomer."Well!Let'ssee!ButI'vegotmoreoldlaceon
handnowthanIknowwhattodowith."
AsIunrolledlayersoftissuepaperwhichseemedtorustleloudlyoutofsheer
spite,Iwasconsciousthatthecustomerhadsaunteredawayasfaraspossible,
andwasgazingatsomeoldprintsonthewallwhichgavehimanexcusetoturn
hisbacktous.Ithoughtthissweetlytactfulofhim.
Nebuchadnezzar(overtheshophecallshimselfFranks,thesortofnoncommittal
name a Jacobs or Wolfstein likes to hide under) almost snatched the lace from
myhandsasIopenedthepackage,shookoutitsfolds,helditclosetohiseyes,
pawed it, and sniffed. "Humph!" he grunted ungraciously. "Same old thing as
usual.IfI'vegotoneof'em,I'vegotadozen.Whatdidyouexpecttoaskforit?"
"Tenpounds,"Iannounced,asboldasoneofthoselionsthatcouldnotbeswung
inhisshop.
"Tenpounds!"Idon'tknowwhetherthesoundhemadewasmeantforasnortor
alaugh."Tengrandmothers!"
"Yes,"saidI,flaringupasifhe'dstruckamatchonme."That'sjustit!Tenofmy
grandmothers have worn this scarf since it was made, and I want a pound for
eachofthem."
Therewasasmallfunnynoisebehindme,likeastaunchedgiggle,andIglanced
over my shoulder at the customer, but his back looked most calm and
inoffensive.
"You'll have to take it out in wanting, I'm afraid, my girl," returned the
shopkeeper."Icanofferyouthirtybob,nomoreandnoless.That'sallthething's
worthtome."


Itriedtopullthescarfoutofhishands,buthedidn'tseemreadytogiveitup.
"It'sworthagreatdealmoretome,"Isaid."I'llcarryitawaysomewhereelse,
wheretheyknowaboutoldlace."
"Myword!You'reapertyoungpieceforyoursize!"remarkedthehorribleman;
andthoughIcouldhaveboxedhisears(whichstoodoutexactlylikethehandles
onanurn),Ifeltmyowntingle,becauseitwastrue,whathesaid:Iwasapert
young piece. Holding my own at home, and lots of other things in life (for
sixteenyearsoflifeseemfearfullylongifthey'reallyou'vegotbehindyou),had
mademepert,andIdidn'tlovemyselfforit,anymorethanaporcupinecanbe
really fond of his own quills. I couldn't bear, somehow, that the man with the
niceeyesshouldbehearingmecalleda"pertpiece,"andthinkingmeone.Quite
a smart repartee came into my head, but a heavy feeling in my heart kept me
from putting it into words; and Nebuchadnezzar went grunting on: "I know as
muchaboutoldlaceasanymaninthisstreet,ifnotintown.That'swhyIdon't
offermore."
"Givemebackmyscarf,please,"wasmyonlyanswer,inquiteasmallvoice.
Stillheheldontothelace."Lookhere,miss,"saidheinachangedtone,"how
didyoucometogetholdofthisbitofproperty,anyhow?Folksain'tinthehabit
ofsendingtheirchildrenouttodisposeo'theirvaluables.HowcanItellthatyou
ain'tnickedthisoffyourmotheroryouraunt,orsomeotherdamewhodoesn't
knowyou'reout?IfIwasdoin'mydooty,Ishouldn'twonderifIoughtn'ttocall
inthepolice!"
"You horrid, horrid person," I flung at him. "You're trying to frighten me—to
blackmail me—into selling you my lace for thirty shillings, when maybe it's
worthtwentytimesthat.Butifanyonecallsthepolice,itwillbeme,togiveyou
inchargefor—forintimidation."
AlmostbeforeIhadtimetobeproudofthewordwhenI'dcontrivedtogetitout,
thecustomerhaddetachedhimselffromtheprintsandintervened.
"Ibegyourpardonforinterfering,"hesaid(tome,nottoNebuchadnezzar),"but
I can't help wondering"—and he smiled a perfectly disarming smile—"if you
aren'tratheryoungtobeabusinesswomanonyourownaccount.Willyoulet
meseethelace?"
Of course the shopkeeper gave it up to him instantly, shamefaced at realizing
thathiscustomer,insteadofadmiringhissmartmethods,wasenteringthelists


againsthim.
While my champion (I felt sure somehow that he was my champion at heart)
took the scarf in his hands, and began trying to look wise over it, I had about
forty-nine seconds in which to look at him. Even at first glance I had thought
himnice,butnowIdecidedthathewasthenicestmanIhadeverseen.Notthe
handsomest; I don't mean that, for our county in Ireland is celebrated for its
handsomemen,bothhighandlow.AlsoI'dseenseveralDreamssincewecame
toLondon:but—well,justthenicest.
Becauseitwasthemiddleoftheseasonandhewasintweeds,Ifanciedthathe
didn'tgoinforbeing"smart."I'dlearnedenoughalreadyaboutLondonwaysto
understandasmuchasthat.ButallthesameIthoughtthathehadtheairofa
soldier. And he had such a contradictory sort of face that it interested me
immensely,wonderingwhatthecontradictionsmeant.
He had taken off his hat when I came into the shop (I'd noticed that, and had
beenpleased),andnowIsawthattheupperpartofhisforeheadwasverywhite
andtherestofhisfaceverytanned,asifhiscomplexionhadslippeddown.He
hadalmoststraw-colouredhair,whichseemedlighterthanitwasbecauseofhis
sunburnedskin;andhiseyebrowsandtheeyelashes(loweredwhilehegazedat
my lace) were two or three shades darker. They were long, arched brows that
gavealookofdreamyromancetotheupperpartofhisface,butthelowerpart
wasextremelydetermined,perhapsevenobstinate.Itjumpedintomyheadthata
woman—even a fascinator like Diana—would never be able to make him
changehismindaboutthings,ordothingshedidn'twishtodo.Thatwasoneof
thecontradictions,andthenosewasanother.ItwasratheraRomansortofnose,
and looked aggressive, as if it would be searching about for forlorn hopes to
fight for; anyhow, as if it must fight at all costs. Then, contradicting the nose,
wasthemouth(forhewasclean-shavenasallyoungmenoughttobe,andnot
leavetoomuchtoourimagination),amouthsomehowlikeaboy's,affectionate
andkindandgay,thoughfarfrombeingweak.Ididn'tknowwhattomakeof
himatall,and,ofcourse,Ilikedhimthebetterforthat.
"I think this is mighty fine lace," he pronounced, when he had studied it long
enoughtoshowoffasaconnoisseur;andallofasuddenIrealizedthathewas
anAmerican.DianahadcollectedtwoAmericanfriendswhoofteninvitedherto
theSavoy,andI'dheardthem,andnooneelse,say"mightyfine.""Areyousure
youwanttogetridofit?"


I thought he was a dear to put it like that, as if I could have no real need for
money,buthadsuchaglutoflacescarvesathomethatImustridmyselfofa
fewsuperfluousones.Ashespokehewaslookingstraightatmewiththekind
eyes I had noticed first of all—gray and yellow and brown mixed up together
intohazel.Isupposeitmusthavebeensomequalityinthatlookwhichmademe
decideinstantlytotellhimeverything.I'dhavesufferedthetortureoftheboot
(anyhow, for a minute or two) before I would have explained myself to
Nebuchadnezzar.
"I'msureIdowanttosell,ifIcangetasmuchastenpoundsforthething,"I
answered."Nothinglessthansevenguineaswouldbeofanyusetome.There's
somethingwhichcostssevenguineas—athingI'mdyingtobuy.Mymotherleft
thisscarftome,aswellassomeotherlaceIwouldn'tsellfortheworld.Butit's
quitemineandIcandoasIlikewithit."
"Letmesee!Tenpoundsisfiftydollars,isn'tit?"themanreflectedoutaloud.
"Idon'tknow,"Icaughthimup,"anythingaboutAmericanmoneyorAmerica."
Hesmiledatmeagain.PerhapsIhadhopedhewould.
"That'stoobad!Yououghttocomeoveronoursideandlearn."
"I'd love to, especially to the parts where I could show off my French and
Spanish.ButI'msureIshallnevergetthechancetocrossthesea."Iwasthree
thousandmilesfromdreamingthenofallthethingsthatweretocomeoutofthis
littleaffairofthescarfandthedresswhichhadtemptedmetoputmylaceonthe
market.
"Well," he went on, going back from me to my property. "I'll buy this pretty
thingfortenpoundsifyouliketosellittome;buthonestly,Iwarnyouthatfor
allIknowitmaybeworthalotmore."
"I'llbeperfectlysatisfiedwithtenpounds,"Isaid."ButIdon'twishyoutobuy
justoutofkindness,whenI'malmostsureyoudon'treallywantto."
"ButIdo,"heassuredme."Icameintothisplacetocarryoutacommissionfor
anauntofmineinAmerica.Shewroteandaskedmetofindhersomethingina
curiosity shop in England that she could give for a wedding present to a girl
who'swildaboutantiques.Anoldfriendofoursisgoingtotaketheparcelback
with her when she sails to-morrow; smuggle it, maybe, but that's not my
business. I thought of a miniature on ivory, but I haven't taken a big fancy to


anythingI'veseensofar.Ilikeyourlacebetter,anditcostsjustthemoneymy
aunttoldmetospend.Sothereyouare."
"Andthere'sthelace,"Iadded,laughing."It'syours.Thankyouverymuch."
"It'sformetothankyou,"saidhe."I'mawfullyafraidI'mgettingthebestofthe
bargain,though.Wouldn'tyourathergosomewherefirstandconsultanexpert?"
"No, indeed," said I. "Maybe the expert would tell us the lace was worth only
fivepounds,notten.WhatI'minahurrytodoistodashtoSelfridge's,andbuy
thedressIwantbeforesomebeastofagirlgetsitbeforeme.Oh,horror!Maybe
she'stherealready!"
"Theworstofitis,"saidmynewfriend—Ifelthewasthat—"Ihaven'tgotthe
tenpoundsonme.ImeanttohaveanythingImightdecidetobuysenthomeand
paidforatmyhotel."
"Can'tIgowithyoutoyourhotel,andyougivemethemoneythere?"Iwanted
toknow."Yousee,I'minsuchahurryaboutthedress."
He glanced at me with a funny look in his eyes, and somehow I read what it
meant.Hehadn'tcalledmea"littlegirl,"andhadbehavedasrespectfullyasifI
wereahundred;butIcouldseethathethoughtmeabouttwelveorthirteen;and
nowhewassayingtohimself:"Noharmcartingachildlikethataboutwithouta
chaperon."
ThiswasthefirsttimeI'deverbeengladthatIhadsacrificedmyselfforDi,and
come to London in my old frocks up to the tops of my boots, and my hair
hanging in two tails down to my waist. Of course, if any one were caddish or
cattishenoughtolookherupinthebook,itcouldbefoundoutataglancethat
LadyDianaO'Malleywastwenty-three;butevenifapersonisacadoracat,he
(orshe)isoftentoolazytogothroughthedullpagesofDebrettorBurke;and
besides, there is seldom one of the books handy. Therefore, Di had a sporting
chanceofbeingtakenforeighteen,thesweetconventionalageofadébutanteon
her presentation. Every one did know, however, that Father had married twice,
and that there must be a difference of five or six years between Diana and the
chocolate child. Accordingly, if I could be induced to look thirteen at most, it
wouldbeuseful.Asforme,Ihadn'tcaredparticularly.IknewIshouldn'tgetany
grown-upfuninLondon,whethermyhairwereinatailoratwist,orwhether
mydresseswereshortorlong.SometimesIhadbeensorryforbeginninginthat
way,butnowIsawthatvirtuewasgoingtoberewarded.


"Allright,"saidmyfriend."Maybeitwillbethebestarrangement."Andweleft
Nebuchadnezzar looking as the dog in the fable must have looked, when he
snappedatthereflectedbitofmeatinthewaterandlostthebitinhismouth.
Ataxiwaspassing,andstoppedattheflourishofacane.IjumpedinbeforeI
couldbehelped.Themanfollowed;andthoughIwaslookingforwardonlytoa
little fun, my very first adventure in London "on my own," the chauffeur was
speeding us along a road that didn't stop at the Waldorf Hotel: it was a road
whichwouldcarryusbothonandon,towardablazingbonfireofwildpassion
andromance.


CHAPTERII
Thefirstthingwedidwhenwewereinthetaxicabwastointroduceourselvesto
eachother.ItoldhimthatIwasMargueriteO'Malley,butthat,asIwasn'tabit
likeamargueriteorevenacommonorgardendaisy,I'ddegeneratedintoPeggy.
I didn't drag in anything about my family tree; it seemed unnecessary. He told
me that he was Eagleston March, but that he had degenerated into "Eagle." I
thoughtthisnicknamesuitedhisaquilinenose,hisbrillianteyes,andthateager,
alertlookhehadofbeingaliveineverynerveandfibre.Hetoldme,too,thathe
wasacaptainintheAmericanarmy,overinEnglandforthefirsttimeonleave;
but before he got so far, I knew very well who he was, for I'd read about him
daysagoinFather'sTimes.
"Why,you'rethefirstAmericanwho'sloopedtheloopatHendon!"Icriedout.
"Youinventedsomestabilitythingorothertoputonamonoplane."
Helaughed."Somestabilitythingorother'saneatdescription.Butyou'reright.
I'mtheAmericanfellowthattheloophaslooped."
"NowIknow,"saidI,"whyyou'renotattheDerbyto-day.Horsesattheirfastest
mustseemslowtoaflyingman."
"This time you're not right," he corrected me. "I'm not at the Derby because it
isn'tmuchfunseeingaracewhenyoudon'tknowanythingaboutthehorses,and
haven'tapaltogowith."
"But you must have lots of pals," I thought out aloud. "Every one adores the
airmen."
"Dothey?Ihaven'tnoticedit."
"Then you can't be conceited. Perhaps American men aren't. I never knew one
before,exceptinbusiness."
"Good heavens! So you really are a business woman, as well as a linguist,
apparently.Atwhatagedidyoubegin?"
"Whatagedoyoutakemefornow?"Ihedged.


"Abouttwelveorthirteen,Isuppose,thoughI'mnojudgeofgirls'ages,whether
they'relittleorbig."
"I'm over twelve," I confessed, and went on hastily to change the dangerous
subject."ButIreallydidhavebusinesswithanAmerican.Itwasinletters.My
father made me write them, though they were signed with his name. He hates
writing letters. I'm so thankful your name isn't Trowbridge. I hope you aren't
relatedtoanyTrowbridges?"
"Notone.Butwhy?"
"Oh,because,ifyouwere,youmightwanttothrowmetothewolves—Imean
underthemotorbuses.We'vedonetheTrowbridgesofChicagoafearfulwrong.
WeletthemourplaceinIreland,whilewecametoLondontoenjoyourselves."
Helaughedaloud,thatverynice,younglaughofhis,whichmademefeelmore
athomewithhimthanwithpeopleI'dknownallmylife."Youreallyareaquaint
little woman," he said. "Now I come to think of it, I do know some people in
ChicagonamedTrowbridge."
"Oh, well," said I, "if you must throw me out of anything, do it out of your
monoplane.Itwouldbesomuchmoredistinguishedthanoutofameretaxi.And
atleast,Ishouldhaveflownfirst!Foryouwouldhavetotakemeupbeforeyou
coulddashmedown.Andsomydreamwouldhavecometrue."
"Isityourdreamtofly?"heasked,interested.
"Waking and sleeping," said I. "Ever since I was a tiny child, my very best
dreamhasbeenthatIwasflying.Eventodreamitasleepisperfectlywonderful
and thrilling, worth being born for, just to feel. What must it be when you're
actuallyawake?"
"Youareanenthusiast,"saidCaptainMarch."You'vegotitinyourblood.What
apityyou'renotaboy.Youcouldbea'flyingman'yourself."
"Well,it'ssomethingtoknowone,"saidI."Why,I'dgivemyhand—theleftone
—or anyhow, a finger of it—for just an hour in the air. A toe would be too
cheap."
"I'dtakeyouuplikeashot,ifyourpeoplewouldletyougo,"saidhe.
Igaspedwithjoy."Oh,wouldyou?"Iexclaimed."Reallyandtruly,Ididn'tmean


tohint!Butitwouldbeheaventogo!"
"NotinmyGoldenEagle,"helaughed,"forI'dguaranteetobringyousafeand
sound back to earth again, this side of heaven. I can take up one passenger,
though I haven't yet, since I came out here. I haven't met anybody, till now, I
particularlycaredtoask,andwhowouldparticularlyhavecaredtogo."
"Andyouwouldcaretotakeme?Howkindofyou!"
"Kindtomyself.ItoldyouIhadn'tanypalsinEngland.Youseemtobethestuff
they'remadeof.You'dbea'mascot,'I'msure.Butyourpeople——"
"People? I haven't any. At least, a governess I once had said you couldn't call
two, 'people.' They must be spoken of as 'persons.' I have only persons who
belongtome—justFatherandagrown-upsister—ahalf-sister.Theylikeeach
other so much that they haven't room to care about me. If the Golden Eagle
tippedmeout,andsmashedmeasflatasapaperdoll,theywouldn'tshedatear."
"Poorlittlechild!Butmaybeyou'remistaken.Maybeyouarenotconceited!"
"Yes,Iam!That'swhyInoticewhenI'mnotloved.Oh,dotakemeup.Takeme
upto-day!I'mallaloneintheworld.My'persons'havegonetotheDerby,and
arestayingallnightatEpsomwithafat,richfamily.I'mlefttothemercyofthe
landladyinourlodgings.I'llevengiveupthedressatSelfridge'stogowithyou.
That'smorethansacrificingatoe!"
But he had stopped laughing. Instead he had turned quite grave. "I couldn't
possibly do it," he said. "I'm awfully sorry to refuse. If you were older, you'd
understandthatitwouldn'tbetherightthingforastrangemananda'foreigner,'
to kidnap a little girl and fly off with her into space. Supposing I had an
accident? I'm sure I shouldn't—but just supposing. I should never be able to
forgive myself. Don't despair though. If you can manage to introduce me as a
respectablesortofchaptoyourfather,andhegiveshispermission——"
"ButhowdidIgettoknowyou?"Igroaned."Ishallhavetofib."
"No,youwon't,"hesaidquickly."Irefusetobefibbedabout.Youmustthinkof
someotherway."
"I'm afraid," I said dolefully, "you agree with that hateful curiosity man about
me!"


"Agreewithhim?Idon'tunderstand."
"ThatI'mapertminxorsomething.That'swhathecalledme—orapertpiece.
It'sallthesamething.AndIamit.Idon'tmindtellingfibs.I'vetoldlots."
"Youpoorlittlething!"exclaimedCaptainMarchinapityingtone,butwiththe
kindofpitytheproudestpersonwouldn'tresent,becauseitreallycamefromhis
heart."Youseemtohavehadtofightyourownbattles.Maybeyourmotherdied
whenyouwereveryyoung?"
"WhenIwasaweekyoung,"Isaid,andsuddenlyIfeltmyselfchokedup.
"Thatexplains thetelling offibs,yousee,andsayingyoudon'tmind—though
I'msureyoudo,whenyoustoptothinkofit;becausethesortofgirlwhocanbe
agoodpaltoamanjustcan'ttellfibs,anymorethanthemancan—ifhe'sworth
beingapalto."
Twoboilinghottearsrandownmyface,oneoneachcheek.Icouldn'tanswer.I
onlylookedupathim,feelingalleyes.
"WhatabeastIam!"heexclaimed."I'vemadeyoucry!"
"It's I who am the beast," I managed to gasp out, because I saw he was badly
distressedaboutme,andwhathehaddone."I'mcryingbecauseI'malittlebeast.
ButI'dlikenottobe."
"You'renot.You'realittlesoldier.Willyouforgiveme?Ididn'tmeantopreach."
"Youdidn'tpreach.Iexpectyou'dtalklikethattoarealsoldier—oneofthose
you'recaptainof.Well,I'llpretendI'moneofthosesoldiers,andthatyou'remy
captain."
AsIspoke,thetaxiwasdrawingupinfrontofhishotel;butIwentstraighton
withmyplay,andgavehimamilitarysalute."Thankyou,Captain,"saidI,"for
taking an interest. I shan't forget. No more fibs! I'll work for my corporal's
stripe!"
"Good child!"hebeamedon me,lookingyoungandhappyagain."I'llgetyou
the stripe. I have it ready for you upstairs. I'll bring it down when I bring the
moneyforthelacescarf.Wouldyouratherwaitinthetaxi,orwillyoucomeinto
theladies'parlourinthehotel?"
Ithought"parlour"alovelyword,andveryFrench,thoughIsupposeditmight


beAmerican,too.Itwasquiteanadventuregoingintoanhotel.
My captain (already I'd begun to think of him as that, since he'd called me a
soldier) paid the chauffeur and led me to a big drawing-room where several
womensat,soprettilydressedandsotrimthattheymademefeelshabbyinmy
brownhollandfrockandmyblown-abouthair.Iwonderedwhathehadmeantby
saying he would bring me a "corporal's stripe," and whether he had meant
anythingatall,exceptapassingjoke.Somehow,Ifeltthathehadhadadefinite
idea,butIdidn'tdreamitwouldbeanythinghalfsofascinatingasitturnedout.
Hewasnotgonemorethanfiveorsixminutes,andwhenheappearedagainhe
drew up a chair in front of me, deliberately turning his back to the other
occupantsoftheroom,sothattheycouldnotseewhatwasgoingon.Thenhe
mademeholdoutmyhands(Iwasashamedofmyuntidygloves)andreceivein
them ten golden sovereigns, which he counted as they dropped into my open
palms.
"I hope you'll never regret bartering away your great-great-grandmother's
beautiful lace for this pittance," said he. "And now for the corporal's stripe, if
you'regoingtoenlistinmyregiment."
"Iam,"Icried."I'veenlistedinitalready."
"Here, then," and he took from his coat pocket a little crumpled-up ball of
something black and gold, evidently thrust in with haste. "This is one of the
chevronsIworeonmysleevewhenIwasmadecorporalofcadetsatWestPoint,
eleven years ago this very month. You'll laugh, I guess, when I tell you why I
broughtthethingwithmeoverhere.Ikeptit,outofasortof—ofsentiment,or
sentimentalitymaybe,becauseIwassodashedproudwhenIgotit.Ithoughtit
marked an epoch in my life; that it was a token of success. Well, when I was
comingovertoyoursideofthewater,totryouttheGoldenEagleamongallthe
Englishflyers,Iwassillyenoughtothinkifshedidanygood,I'dstickthispoor
oldstripeonhersomewhere,forauldlangsyne.NowI'drathergiveittoyou,
littlesoldier."
IthinkitwasatthatminuteIbegantoworshiphim.Iworshippedhimasachild
worships, and as a woman worships, too; except that, perhaps, when a woman
letsherselfgowithafloodofloveforaman,sheunconsciouslyexpectssome
return.I'msureIdidn'texpectanything.Thatwouldhavebeentooridiculous!
IfeltratherguiltyaboutdeprivingtheGoldenEagleofhermaster'strophy,but


afterall,agirlismoreappreciativethanamonoplane;andbesides,itwouldhave
hurt Captain March's feelings in that mood of his, if I'd refused. I had a
convictionthatacorporal'sstripe,givenasarewardandanincentive,wouldbe
tomeatalisman.IdecidedthatI'dkeepitinaplacewhereIcouldrushtolook
atitwheneverIneededencouragementtogoonbeingasoldier.IfIwantedto
sneakmyselfoutoftroublewithafib,orbesnappishtoFatherorcattishtoDi,
orsay"damn,"orbangadoorinarage,itseemedtomethatIshouldonlyhave
tothinkofthatlittletriangleofblackclothandgiltbraidtobesuddenlyasgood
asgold,allthewaythroughtomyheart.
Maybe I showed some of these thoughts in my eyes when I thanked Captain
March(Disaysmyeyestellallmysecrets),forhewasnicerthanever,inthe
chivalrous,almosttenderwaysomemenhavewithgirl-children.Hesaidhewas
justaslonelyasIwas,orworse,becausehehadn'tasoulwhobelongedtohim
inEngland,andwoulditbequiteproperandallrightforanoldsoldierlikehim
toinvitealittlegirllikemetolunch?
Of course I said yes—yes, it would be entirely proper and perfectly splendid,
though they might have forgotten to put anything of the sort into books of
etiquette.Bythattimeitwashalf-pasttwelve,onlyafewminuteslefttodashto
Selfridge's and rescue the dress (if it wasn't already lost) before luncheon, so
CaptainMarchofferedtowhiskmeuptotheshopinataxi.Hepromised,ifthe
gown were gone, that he'd help me choose another. But it wasn't gone; which
showedthat,asI'dfeltinmybones,itreallyhadbeenbornforme.
"Why,it'sapartydress,isn'tit?"mycaptaininnocentlywantedtoknow."And
isn'titabittoooldforyou?"
"Icanhaveitmadeshorter,"Isaid."Andifitisalittletoooldformeitdoesn't
matter,becauseI'mneverinvitedtoanyparties.Ishan'tbeforyears,ifever.I
shan't come out like my sister Di, I shall just slowly leak out, with nobody
noticing.Itisn'tthatIexpecttowearthisfrock.It'sthejoyofhavingitwhichis
soimportant."
"Girls begin to be queer evidently, even when they're children," said he. "But
that doesn't make them less interesting. I know of an invitation to a party you
couldhave,though,ifyouwantedit.ThewifeofourAmericanambassadoris
giving a ball to-morrow night. I know her a little. She'd be awfully pleased to
sendyourpeoplecardsfortheshow,ifIaskedher.Orperhapsthey'vehadcards
already?"


Ishookmyhead."I'msuretheyhaven't.Areyougoing?"
"Yes,I'veaccepted."
"IknowDianawouldloveit.I'lltellheraboutyou—andaboutto-day,forshe
can't be cross with me if it ends in an invitation. And you'd be her firstflying
man."
Even as I spoke I had a misgiving. It came like a cramp in the heart. Di's
nickname seemed to whisper itself in my ear: "Diana the Huntress—Diana the
Huntress!"Ididn'twanthertoshootherarrowthroughthisman'sheart,because
—well—justbecause.Buttheywouldhavetomeetifhewerenottobelostto
me,sinceherefusedtobeapartnerinfibs.TheideaseemedexactlythechanceI
had been looking for; and if the invitation came through me, provided I were
includedbytheambassadress,Ididn'tseehowDiandFathercouldleavemeout.
"Allright,youshallhavethecard,Icanpromisethat!"mycaptainsaidcheerily.
"But,"Ihaggled,"willtheambassadressaska—alittlegirllikeme,whoisn'tout
yet?"
"Ofcourseshewill.I'llseetothat.Whyshouldn'talittlegirlgoforonce?Here
isonepartnerforher."
Todanceinthewhitedress,withhim!Thethingmustbetoogoodtobetrue.Yet
itreallydidseemasifitmightcometrue.
Heletmeselecttheplaceforluncheon,andIchosetheZoo.HesaidIcouldn't
havechosenbetter.Itwasn'taverygrandmeal,butitwasthehappiestI'dever
had.CaptainMarchtoldmethingsaboutAmerica,andaeroplanes,thoughvery
littleabouthimself—exceptthathewasstationedatabeautifulplaceinArizona,
called Fort Alvarado, close to the springs of the same name, where girls came
andhad"thetimeoftheirlives."Afterwardwewanderedaboutandmadeloveto
theZooanimals,andatlastsawthemfed.Whenthelionsandtigershadfinished
their glorious roaring, which seemed to bring the desert and the jungle near, it
wasalmostfiveo'clock,sowehadteaatthecrescent-shapedteahouse,infront
of the Mappin Terraces. I lingered over my strawberries as long as I decently
could,because,thoughIsearchedhardforit,thereseemedtobenoboredlook
on Captain March's face. When I did reluctantly say, "I suppose I'd better go
home?"heactuallyhadtheairofbeingsorry.
"It'sbeenthenicestdayIeverlivedin,"Itoldhim.


"I'veenjoyedeveryminuteofit,too,"saidhe."Whatapitywecan'tpolishitoff
withadinnerandthetheatre.Lookhere,ifyou'dlikeit,MissPeggy,IguessI
cangetthatoldladyItoldyouof,who'ssailingto-morrowandwilltakethelace
scarf,togowithusaschaperon.Whatdoyousay?"
What could I say? Being a child, it didn't matter showing the wildest delight.
Therearesomeadvantagesinbeingachild.
HetookmehometoourlodgingsinChapelStreet(whichcheaplygaveusthe
addressofMayfair)andthenIhadtobreakittohimthatIwasn'taMiss.
"Goodgracious!"heexclaimed,whenIbeganwiththosewords."Childrendon't
marryinyourcountryatthirteen,dothey?"
Iexplainedthat,becausemyfatherhappenedtobeanearl,hisdaughtershada
courtesy title; and when he looked a little shocked, as if he were wondering
whether he had been indiscreet, I nodded toward the house, as our taxicab
stopped before the insignificant green door. "You see by where we live how
unimportantweare!"Iexcusedmyselfinsuchapleadingvoicethathelaughed.
Thenheflashedawaytomakearrangementsfortheevening—ourevening!
The landlady had a telephone, and presently I got the message which Captain
March had told me to expect. Mrs. Jewitt had consented to dine and go to the
theatre.WouldIliketheSavoy,andtosee"Milestones"afterward?AndwasI
surethisbusinesswouldn'tgetmeintotroubleto-morrow?
If it had sent me into penal servitude for life, I shouldn't have hesitated; but I
repliedthatmysisterwouldforgivemeforthesakeoftheAmericanEmbassy
ball.IknewDicouldbecountedon,intheexceptionalcircumstances,nottotell
Father;butIdidn'tmentionthatdetailtoCaptainMarch.Iwasafraidhemight
thinkthecorporal'sstripehadbeenill-bestowed,butonemustdrawthestraight
lineoftruthsomewhere!


CHAPTERIII
NextmorningwhenDicameback,Itoldherwhatwasnecessarytotell,andnot
abitmore.IexplainedhowIhadmetCaptainEaglestonMarch,andhowwehad
spent the day and the heavenly evening. But first, I let her open the invitation
which had just come by hand from the American Embassy (she opens all
Father'sletters,exceptthosethathavearepulsivelyprivatelook),andwhenshe
began,"Iwonderhowonearth——,"Iwasabletoworkmystoryinneatly,as
anexplanation.
Dilistenedtotheend,withoutinterruptingmeonceexceptbyopeninghereyes
verywide,andnowandthenraisinghereyebrows,orgivingventtoexpressive
sighs.IsawthatshewasthinkinghardasIwenton,andIknewwhatshewas
thinking:abouttheneedofforgivingmebecauseofthenewinterestinlifemy
naughtinesshadbroughther.
When I had finished up the tale with our dinner at the Savoy, and seeing
"Milestones,"andthenontopofall,havingsupperwithMrs.JewittandCaptain
Marchataterriblyrespectablebutfascinatingnightclubofwhichhehadbeen
madeamember,Dianadidn'tscold.ShesaidthatCaptainMarchbeinganofficer
and a flying man made all the difference, but she hoped I would not have put
myselfintosuchapositionwithanyothersortofman,whetherhemistookme
forachildornot.Evenasitwas,shewouldn'tdaretellFatherthehistoryofmy
day: but, as they had made several American acquaintances lately, she could
easilyaccountfortheEmbassyinvitation.
"We'll go, of course, won't we?" I catechized her, knowing that her word with
Fatherwasprettywelllaw.
"Yes,we'llgo,"sheanswered."I'llwriteanacceptanceandsenditbyhand."
IwassoenchantedatthisthatIdasheduptomyroomandbeganshorteningthe
newdress.IhadmentioneditvaguelytoDi,butitwastheonepartofmystory
inwhichshetooknointerest.Isawhowthekeennessdiedoutofherbeautiful
sea-blue eyes, and how her soul retired comfortably behind them, to think of
somethingelse,justasyouseepeoplewalkawayfromwindowsthroughwhich
they've been looking out, leaving them emptily blank. As she didn't care what
littlePeggywore,littlePeggydecidedtogiveherasurpriseatthelastmoment.


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