“Peggy of the Cove,” Friend, Oct. 1998, 16
I’d always been proud to live in Peggy’s Cove. Then she came. Each evening I stood in my backyard among the jumbled boulders and lapping seawater, watching the fishing boats come home. “How’s our own Peggy today?” the fishermen called as they unloaded their baskets of lobsters. “Waiting for your dad, aye?”
Then the other Peggy arrived. I knew something was up when Mom came bustling in, grinning as if Dad had caught a record lobster. “You know that lady from Saskatchewan who bought the gift shop?” she exclaimed. “She has a daughter your age named Peggy!”
“Peg—!” My swallow felt as long as a giraffe’s.
“You should get acquainted. What fun it will be to have a pair of Peggys in town!”
“Peggy’s Cove isn’t big enough for two Peggys,” I muttered.
Still, I walked into the gift shop a few minutes later and found the new owner bending over a box of Peggy’s Cove sweatshirts. She looked up. “Oh, you must be the other Peggy I’ve been hearing about.”
“I’m the Peggy,” I replied.
As if on cue, the owner’s daughter emerged from the back room, carrying a box of Peggy’s Cove stationery. I grimaced. Wasn’t it bad enough having another Peggy in town? Did she have to be beautiful as well?
She smiled sweetly at me with perfect white teeth. “I’m glad to meet you,” she said. “I wasn’t sure if there would be anyone my age here. I’ve never lived in such a small town.”
“Well, you and your mother might push the population past eighty. That’s almost too big for me.”
“You wouldn’t want it to get too big,” she agreed. “It’s such a beautiful place.” She flipped her long black hair toward the window. “The ocean is really spectacular.”
“Oh, it isn’t usually this nice,” I said, flipping my stiff brown hair that hardly moved. “Often it’s terribly foggy and cold.”
She laughed. “Probably not as cold as Saskatchewan. Have you lived here all your life?”
“All my life.”
Her deep blue eyes opened wide with interest. “Have you ever been lobster fishing?”
My dull, sort-of-brown eyes narrowed in contempt. “Of course. My father’s a lobster fisherman.”
“Wow! I’ve never even seen a lobster.”
How revolting! I thought. How could anybody even think about moving to Peggy’s Cove to sell Peggy’s Cove sweatshirts and stationery and knickknacks and never have seen a lobster?
That afternoon I took some plain white stationery and sat on the massive granite rocks between the lighthouse and the cove. The thrashing Atlantic Ocean groaned with me. “The most awful thing has happened,” I wrote to my best friend, Melissa, who had moved to New Brunswick. I told her the whole sad story, then added, “P.S. The next thing I know, she’ll be taking your place next to me in the church choir.”
On the outside of the envelope I quickly scrawled Melissa’s address and my return address—Peggy, Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia. That was all I needed.
I mailed the letter inside the lighthouse. The redheaded lighthouse—that’s what I call it because of its red top and white body—is no longer an operating lighthouse. In the summer it serves as the Peggy’s Cove Post Office.
On Sunday I was walking to the little white church on the hill, when the other Peggy and her mother drove by, smiling and waving. “Here comes my next choir partner,” I grumbled. But she never showed up. I guess our church isn’t good enough for her, I thought.
When I saw her washing the gift shop window the next day, I tried to sidle past without being seen.
“Peggy,” she called, “I saw my first lobster the other day. They’re interesting creatures, aren’t they?”
“I suppose. I didn’t see you in church.”
“Our church is in Halifax. But it must be nice to walk. Our Primary’s going to have an activity day here at the cove sometime. You’re welcome to come.”
“It’s like a children’s Sunday School.”
“Oh.” Another strange thing from Saskatchewan. “Our church is having its own picnic soon.”
“Sounds fun,” she said. “I’d love to come. When is it?”
“I’m not sure,” I hedged. “I’d better go. There’s a letter I need to mail.”
The lighthouse was crowded with tourists when I walked in. The postmistress glanced up quickly. “Oh, Peggy, there’s a package for you.”
I leaped across the granite rocks toward home. My birthday present from Melissa, at last! I was passing Dad’s dory before I noticed the front of the package. The handwriting didn’t look like Melissa’s. Suddenly I prickled in a cold shiver. It wasn’t to me! It was addressed to the other Peggy. I stiffened in hot anger. How dare another Peggy get mail at the Peggy’s Cove Post Office! Why hadn’t Melissa sent me a present?
I crawled into Dad’s dory and moped. Peggy of Saskatchewan didn’t deserve to get mail here. She had no right to even live in Peggy’s Cove. Suddenly I opened the latch of a lobster pot and stashed the package inside. I would give it to her when I was good and ready. Or maybe I wouldn’t give it to her at all. She would never miss it.
The next night at dinner, Dad announced, “I’ve decided to do something different tomorrow for the last day of lobster season. That new Peggy down at the gift shop has never had a chance to go lobstering.” He looked at me. “She’s a cute little thing, aye?”
I shoved more potatoes into my mouth. “I’ve never noticed.”
“Well, anyway, I thought I’d take both of you out with me.”
I almost choked on my potatoes. “I doubt that she’d want to go.”
When the other Peggy arrived at the boat early the next morning, her usual cheery “hi” sounded a bit shaky. Her eyes darted nervously. She’s not used to being around smelly lobster bait, I thought smugly.
But suddenly she was fumbling with her small red backpack. “I need to give you something. I opened it by accident and thought it was so beautiful that I almost kept it for myself.”
She withdrew a small package. I grabbed it. Inside was a beautiful necklace. “I was right!” I said triumphantly. “Melissa wouldn’t forget my birthday.”
“I’m sorry,” she said, hunching her shoulders and looking down. “I should have given it to you sooner.”
By the time the boat had chugged out of the cove, she seemed her usual self again. She was asking Dad a stream of questions. I was more nervous than a lobster in a seafood restaurant.
“See that string of purple and white buoys?” Dad shouted above the wind. “Those are mine. They have my own color pattern to mark where I’ve dropped my lobster pots. We’ll haul up the line and see how many lobsters we’ve caught. Then we’ll rebait the traps with herring and drop them again.”
“Sounds like fun,” Peggy said.
“It’s a lot of work,” I shouted, pacing the deck.
“Two lobsters in this pot,” Dad called, winding up the line on a pulley.
The other Peggy wasn’t a bit squeamish about handling the lobsters. In fact, she seemed to enjoy it. “Look at how many we’re getting!” she shouted.
Dad was hauling up another pot. “No lobsters in this one. Looks like the trap’s broken up pretty badly.” He quickly found another pot to replace it. Opening the wooden trap door to hang the bait bag, he stopped short. “What’s this?” he exclaimed.
Peggy peered curiously inside the pot. “It looks like a package. Oh, my, it’s my package.” She grabbed it out of the pot. “This is what I’ve been waiting for to give Mom on her birthday. How did it …”
I turned. “I’m sorry. I got it by mistake. I was going to give it to you.”
“Lobster pot and all?” Dad asked sternly. He was giving me his “we have some serious talking to do” look while she ripped open the package.
I stared over her shoulder. “A hymnbook?”
“Yes,” she said. “Mom loves to sing, and there’s one song in here she’s always asking me to sing to her.”
As Dad dropped another lobster pot overboard, the other Peggy began to sing:
“‘I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear …’”*
Sounds like something those Saskatchewan people would make up, I thought, trying hard not to like it. But the truth was, I did.
She looked up at me. “Do you sing, Peggy?”
“Well, yes. In the church choir.”
“You must have a beautiful voice,” she said. “Will you sing it with me?”
I shook my head. “I don’t think so.” But I was already humming the tune under my breath.
As it turned out, we not only sang the song while Dad lobstered, but we sang it for our church picnic, her Primary Activity Day, and several church and community functions in neighboring coves. We even sang it at the lobster festival. We were billed as the Peggys of Peggy’s Cove. I rather liked the sound of it.
She’s going to teach me more of her songs.