“Oh, my bonny one, my bonny one, that is just it! I know that you know, but someday someone else won’t know, and if I don’t teach you now just what the bit means the poor mouth may pay the penalty. It may anyway, in spite of all I can do, but I’ll do my best to make it an easy lesson. Oh why, why will people pull and tug as they do on a horse’s mouth when there is nothing in this world so sensitive, or that should be so lightly handled. So be patient, Shashai. We only use it because we must, dear. Now, right, turn!” And with the words she pressed her right knee against the colt, at the same time drawing gently upon the right rein. Shashai turned because he had always done so at the words and the pressure, accepting the bit’s superfluous hint like the gentleman he was.
“Open the gate, Bud. We’ll go for a spin,” ordered Peggy as she swung around the paddock.
“Won’t yo’ jump, missie?” asked Bud eagerly. The delight of his life was to see his young mistress take a fence.
“Not this time,” answered Peggy over her shoulder. Bud opened the gate as they came around again and as Peggy cried: “Four bells, Shashai,” the colt sprang through, Tzaritza and Roy joining in with a happy bark and neigh.
All so simply, so easily done by love’s gentle rule.
“Stand there, little girl. Why, why—how has it come about! When did you do it? I went away nine months ago leaving a little girl in Mammy Lucy’s and Harrison’s charge and I have returned to find a young lady. Peggy, baby, what have you done with my little girl?”
Commander Stewart stood in the big living-room of Severndale, his hand upon Peggy’s shoulder as he held her at arm’s length to look at her in puzzled surprise. He had just experienced one of those startling revelations which often arouse parents to the fact that their children have stolen a march upon them, and sprung into very pleasing young men or women while they themselves have been in an unobserving somnolent state. It is invariably a shock and one which few parents escape.
Peggy laughed, colored a rosy pink but obeyed, a little thrill of innocent triumph passing over her, for Daddy Neil’s eyes held something more than surprise, and Peggy’s feminine soul detected the underlying pride and admiration.
“By the great god Neptune, you’ve taken a rise out of me this time, child. How old are you, anyway!”
“As though you didn’t know perfectly well, you tease,” laughed Peggy, turning swiftly and nestling in his arms. The arms held her closely and the sun-tanned cheek rested upon her dark, silky hair. The eyes were singularly soft and held a suggestion of moisture. It did not seem so very long ago to Daddy Neil since Peggy’s beautiful mother had been in that very room with him nestling in his arms in that same confiding little manner.