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The Golden Road Lucy Maud Montgomery

We Visit Peg Bowen

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Peg's voice rose almost to a shriek. We were dreadfully frightened, for we knew there were times when she was quite crazy and we feared one of her "spells" was coming on her. But with a swift movement she turned the man's coat she wore up over her shoulders and head like a hood, completely hiding her face. Then she crouched forward, elbows on knees, and relapsed into silence. None of us dared speak or move. We sat thus for half an hour. Then Peg jumped up and said briskly in her usual tone,

"Well, I guess yez are all sleepy and ready for bed. You girls can sleep in my bed over there, and I'll take the sofy. Yez can put the cat off if yez like, though he won't hurt yez. You boys can go downstairs. There's a big pile of straw there that'll do yez for a bed, if yez put your coats on. I'll light yez down, but I ain't going to leave yez a light for fear yez'd set fire to the place."

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Saying good-night to the girls, who looked as if they thought their last hour was come, we went to the lower room. It was quite empty, save for a pile of fire wood and another of clean straw. Casting a stealthy glance around, ere Peg withdrew the light, I was relieved to see that there were no skulls in sight. We four boys snuggled down in the straw. We did not expect to sleep, but we were very tired and before we knew it our eyes were shut, to open no more till morning. The poor girls were not so fortunate. They always averred they never closed an eye. Four things prevented them from sleeping. In the first place Peg snored loudly; in the second place the fitful gleams of firelight kept flickering over the skull for half the night and making gruesome effects on it; in the third place Peg's pillows and bedclothes smelled rankly of tobacco smoke; and in the fourth place they were afraid the rat Peg had spoken of might come out to make their acquaintance. Indeed, they were sure they heard him skirmishing about several times.

When we wakened in the morning the storm was over and a young morning was looking through rosy eyelids across a white world. The little clearing around Peg's cabin was heaped with dazzling drifts, and we boys fell to and shovelled out a road to her well. She gave us breakfast--stiff oatmeal porridge without milk, and a boiled egg apiece. Cecily could NOT eat her porridge; she declared she had such a bad cold that she had no appetite; a cold she certainly had; the rest of us choked our messes down and after we had done so Peg asked us if we had noticed a soapy taste.

"The soap fell into the porridge while I was making it," she said. "But,"--smacking her lips,--"I'm going to make yez an Irish stew for dinner. It'll be fine."

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The Golden Road
Lucy Maud Montgomery

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