Pixie OShaughnessy

Mrs George de Horne Vaizey
Pixie O'Shaughnessy
by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey
Pixie O'Shaughnessy was at once the joy and terror of the school. It had
been a quiet, well-conducted seminary before her time, or it seemed so,
at least, looking back after the arrival of the wild Irish tornado, before
whose pranks the mild mischief of the Englishers was as water unto
wine. Pixie was entered in the school-lists as "Patricia Monica de Vere
O'Shaughnessy," but no one ever addressed her by such a title, not even
her home-people, by whom the name was considered at once as a
tragedy and a joke of the purest water.
Mrs O'Shaughnessy had held stern ideas about fanciful names for her
children, on which subject she had often waxed eloquent to her friends.
"What," she would ask, "could be more trying to a large and bouncing
young woman than to find herself saddled for life with the title of `Ivy,'
or for a poor anaemic creature to pose as `Ruby' before a derisive
world?" She christened her own first daughter Bridget, and the second
Joan, and the three boys respectively Jack, Miles, and Patrick,
resolutely waving aside suggestions of more poetic names even when
they touched her fancy, or appealed to her imagination. Better err on
the safe side, and safeguard oneself from the risk of having a brood of
plain, awkward children masquerading through life under names which
made them a laughing-stock to their companions.
So she argued; but as the years passed by, it became apparent that her
children had too much respect for the traditions of the race to appear an
any such unattractive guise. "The O'Shaughnessys were always

beautiful," quoth the Major, tossing his own handsome head with the
air of supreme self-satisfaction which was his leading characteristic,
"and it's not my children that are going to break the rule," and certain it
is that one might have travelled far and wide before finding another
family to equal the one at Knock Castle in point of appearance. The
boys were fine upstanding fellows with dark eyes and aquiline features;
Bridgie was a dainty, fair-haired little lady; while Joan, (Esmeralda for
short, as her brothers had it), had reached such a climax of beauty that
strangers gasped with delight, and the hardest heart softened before her
baby smile. Well might Mrs O'Shaughnessy waver in her decision; well
might she suppose that she was safe in relaxing her principles
sufficiently to bestow upon baby number six a name more appropriate
to prospective beauty and charm. The most sensible people have the
most serious relapses, and once having given rein to her imagination
nothing less than three names would satisfy her--and those three the
high-sounding Patricia Monica de Vere.
She was an ugly baby. Well, but babies often were ugly. That counted
for nothing. It was really a bad sign if an infant were conspicuously
pretty. She had no nose to speak of, and a mouth of enormous
proportions. What of that? Babies' noses always were small, and the
mouth would not grow in proportion to the rest of the features. In a few
months she would no doubt be as charming as her sisters had been
before her; but, alas! Pixie disappointed that expectation, as she was
fated to disappoint most expectations during her life. Her nose refused
to grow bigger, her mouth to grow smaller, her small twinkling eyes
disdained the lashes which were so marked a feature in the faces of her
sisters, and her hair was thin and straight, and refused to grow beyond
her neck, whereas Bridgie and Esmeralda had curling manes so long
that, as their nurse proudly pointed out to other nurses, they could sit on
them, the darlints! and that to spare.
There was no disguising the fact that she was an extraordinarily plain
child, and as the years passed by she grew ever plainer and plainer, and
showed less possibility of improvement. The same contrariety of fate
which made Bridget look like Patricia, made Patricia look like Bridget,
and Mrs O'Shaughnessy often thought regretfully of her broken

principle. "Indeed it's a judgment on me!" she would cry; but always as
she said the words she hugged her baby to her breast, and showered
kisses on the dear, ugly little face, wondering in her heart if she had
ever loved a child so much before, or if any of Pixie's beautiful sisters
and brothers had had such strange, fascinating little ways. At the age
when most infants are content to blink, she smiled accurately and with
intent; when three months old she would look up from her pillow with
a twinkling glance, as who would say, "Such an adventure as I've had
with these cot curtains! You wait a few months until I can
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