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The Money Moon(Chapter29)

2006-08-28 23:19

  Chapter XXIX. Of the moon's message to Small Porges, and how he told it to Bellew——in a whisper

  Bellew walked on at a good pace with his back turned resolutely towards the House of Dapplemere, and thus, as he swung into that narrow, grassy lane that wound away between trees, he was much surprised to hear a distant hail. Facing sharp about he espied a diminutive figure whose small legs trotted very fast, and whose small fist waved a weather-beaten cap.

  Bellew's first impulse was to turn, and run. But Bellew rarely acted on impulse; therefore, he set down the bulging portmanteau, seated himself upon it, and taking out pipe and tobacco, waited for his pursuer to come up.

  "Oh Uncle Porges!" panted a voice, "you did walk so awful fast, an' I called, an' called, but you never heard. An' now, please,——where are you going?"

  "Going," said Bellew, searching through his pockets for a match, "going, my Porges, why——er——for a stroll, to be sure,——just a walk before breakfast, you know."

  "But then——why have you brought your bag?"

  "Bag!" repeated Bellew, stooping down to look at it, "why——so——I have!"

  "Please——why?" persisted Small Porges, suddenly anxious. "Why did you——bring it?"

  "Well, I expect it was to——er——to bear me company. But how is it you are out so very early, my Porges?"

  "Why, I couldn't sleep, last night, you know, 'cause I kept on thinking, and thinking 'bout the fortune. So I got up——in the middle of the night, an' dressed myself, an' sat in the big chair by the window, an' looked at the Money Moon. An' I stared at it, an' stared at it till a wonderful thing happened,——an' what do you s'pose?"

  "I don't know."

  "Well,——all at once, while I stared up at it, the moon changed itself into a great, big face; but I didn't mind a bit, 'cause it was a very nice sort of face,——rather like a gnome's face, only without the beard, you know. An' while I looked at it, it talked to me, an' it told me a lot of things,——an' that's how I know that you are——going away, 'cause you are, you know,——aren't you?"

  "Why, my Porges," said Bellew, fumbling with his pipe, "why Shipmate, I——since you ask me——I am."

  "Yes, I was 'fraid the moon was right," said Small Porges, and turned away. But Bellew had seen the stricken look in his eyes, therefore he took Small Porges in the circle of his big arm, and holding him thus, explained to him how that in this great world each of us must walk his appointed way, and that there must, and always will be, partings, but that also there must and always shall be, meetings:

  "And so, my Porges, if we have to say 'Good-bye' now,——the sooner we shall meet again,——some day——somewhere."

  But Small Porges only sighed, and shook his head in hopeless dejection.

  "Does——she——know you're going,——I mean my Auntie Anthea?"

  "Oh yes, she knows, Porges."

  "Then I s'pose that's why she was crying so, in the night——"

  "Crying?"

  "Yes;——she's cried an awful lot lately, hasn't she? Last night,——when I woke up, you know, an' couldn't sleep, I went into her room, an' she was crying——with her face hidden in the pillow, an' her hair all about her——"

  "Crying!"

  "Yes; an' she said she wished she was dead. So then, a course, I tried to comfort her, you know. An' she said 'I'm a dreadful failure, Georgy dear, with the farm, an' everything else. I've tried to be a father and mother to you, an' I've failed in that too,——so now, I'm going to give you a real father,'——an' she told me she was going to marry——Mr. Cassilis. But I said 'No'——'cause I'd 'ranged for her to marry you an' live happy ever after. But she got awful angry again an' said she'd never marry you if you were the last man in the world——'cause she 'spised you so——"

  "And that would seem to——settle it!" nodded Bellew gloomily, "so it's 'Good-bye' my Porges! We may as well shake hands now, and get it over," and Bellew rose from the portmanteau, and sighing, held out his hand.

  "Oh!——but wait a minute!" cried Small Porges eagerly, "I haven't told you what the Moon said to me, last night——"

  "Ah!——to be sure, we were forgetting that!" said Bellew with an absent look, and a trifle wearily.

  "Why then——please sit down again, so I can speak into your ear, 'cause what the Moon told me to tell you was a secret, you know."

  So, perforce, Bellew re-seated himself upon his portmanteau, and drawing Small Porges close, bent his head down to the anxious little face; and so, Small Porges told him exactly what the Moon had said. And the Moon's message, (whatever it was), seemed to be very short, and concise, (as all really important messages should be); but these few words had a wondrous, and magical effect upon George Bellew. For a moment he stared wide-eyed at Small Porges like one awaking from a dream, then the gloom vanished from his brow, and he sprang to his feet. And, being upon his feet, he smote his clenched fist down into the palm of his hand with a resounding smack.

  "By heaven!" he exclaimed, and took a turn to and fro across the width of the lane, and seeing Small Porges watching him, caught him suddenly up in his arms, and hugged him.

  "And the moon will be at the full, tonight!" said he. Thereafter he sat him down upon his portmanteau again, with Small Porges upon his knee, and they talked confidentially together with their heads very close together and in muffled tones.

  When, at last, Bellew rose, his eyes were bright and eager, and his square chin, prominent, and grimly resolute.

  "So——you quite understand, my Porges?"

  "Yes, yes——Oh I understand!"

  "Where the little bridge spans the brook,——the trees are thicker, there."

  "Aye aye, Captain!"

  "Then——fare thee well, Shipmate! Goodbye, my Porges,——and remember!"

  So they clasped hands, very solemnly, Big Porges, and Small Porges, and turned each his appointed way, the one up, the other down, the lane. But lo! as they went Small Porges' tears were banished quite; and Bellew strode upon his way, his head held high, his shoulders squared, like one in whom Hope has been newborn.

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