dear!' she said. 'I am afraid it is my fault. I saw the dear boy looking up at the parrot next door when I came in from my stroll round to the pillar-box with a letter, and he told me he was one of Mrs. Lesley's little sons, and then we got talking. But I had no idea his mamma would be alarmed. I am afraid it has been much more than a few minutes. I am sorry.'
It was impossible to say anything to trouble the poor old lady: she looked as if she were going to cry.
'It will be all right now,' said Clement. 'Mamma will be so delighted to see him safe and sound. But we had better hurry home. Come along, Peterkin.'
But nothing would make Peterkin forget his good manners. He tugged off his sailor cap again, which he had just put on, and held out his hand, for the second or third time, I daresay, as he and his old lady had evidently been hobnobbing over their leave-takings for some minutes before we made our appearance.
'Good-bye!' he said; 'and thank you very much. And I'll ask