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Title: Miss Pat at Artemis Lodge
Author: Ginther, Pemberton
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Miss Pat at Artemis Lodge" ***

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MISS PAT AT ARTEMIS LODGE

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THE "MISS PAT" SERIES

Nine Volumes

Miss Pat and Her Sisters
Miss Pat at School
Miss Pat in the Old World
Miss Pat and Company, Limited
Miss Pat's Holidays at Greycroft
Miss Pat at Artemis Lodge
Miss Pat's Problem
Miss Pat in Buenos Ayres
Miss Pat's Career

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[Illustration: "TANCREDI SAYS ROSAMOND IS GOING INTO OPERA AS SOON AS
SHE IS DONE WITH HER."]

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MISS PAT AT ARTEMIS LODGE

By
PEMBERTON GINTHER

Frontispiece By
THE AUTHOR

PHILADELPHIA
THE JOHN C. WINSTON COMPANY
PUBLISHERS

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Copyright, 1917, by
The John C. Winston Co.

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To Carolyn, a True Friend

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CONTENTS

CHAPTER                                                     PAGE

      I. Miss Pat Arrives                                      9
     II. Bruce's Surprise Party                               24
    III. The Tea-room at Artemis Lodge                        40
     IV. Tancredi's Two Pupils                                57
      V. Rosamond Insists                                     69
     VI. Patricia Makes Another Friend                        84
    VII. A Dinner For Two                                    102
   VIII. Patricia Receives an Invitation                     116
     IX. Rosamond's Friend                                   130
      X. Miss Pat Plays Nurse                                143
     XI. The Reward of the Faithful                          158
    XII. Patricia Moves                                      172
   XIII. The Turning Point                                   186
    XIV. Constance's Other Side                              201
     XV. Patricia Decides To Make the Best of It             215
    XVI. The Door Opens Again                                227

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CHAPTER I

MISS PAT ARRIVES


"The train's in, Elinor, and she'll be here in a jiffy. Bruce said he'd
get a taxi, so as not to lose a minute. Do come and watch that corner
while I keep my eyes on this one," said Judith, in a sudden flurry.

She was standing with her nose pressed against the cool glass of the
studio window, staring eagerly out across the wintry square and scanning
the opposite streets with intent gaze, and even when she gestured
urgently to her older sister, her eyes never left the busy outdoor
scene.

"I wish the studio wasn't so high up in the air that we can't possibly
see the door," she regretted. "I'd so love to see her as she gets
out--Miss Pat always makes me feel sort of thrilly and excited when I
see her hopping out of a carriage or coming up the walk. Something nice
usually happens when she rushes in, all laughing and sparkly, doesn't
it, Elinor?" she ended, cuddling up against the tall, slender figure
which had joined her at the deep casement.

Elinor smiled and patted her pale hair. "I think, chick, that the best
thing that happens when Miss Pat comes in is--just Miss Pat herself."

Judith nodded, with her searching eyes on the crowded streets below.
"That must be it," she agreed thoughtfully. "I didn't think of it just
that way, but I guess you're right. She's so--so--pleasant that she
makes the stupid little things that happen seem like big eventful-ish
doings. At Greycroft this winter things seemed terribly exciting, and
now, when I look back at them, they really weren't so very wonderful."

"It's the spirit, my dearest Judy, that puts the sparkle into life,"
said Elinor absently, with her flexible artist hands straying idly over
the pale mass of her little sister's straight heavy locks. "Many girls
lead vastly more interesting and exciting lives than our dear Miss Pat,
but they have dull spirits, and so we don't notice them; while we're all
bursting with enthusiasm over every little thing she happens to be
doing. It's her gay, glad spirit that wins our interest, bless her
heart."

Judith nodded again. "I know," she said conclusively. "When Miriam and
she went into the chicken business no one got awfully excited over
Miriam's part of it, while they were all trying to help Miss Pat make a
success of it. And when we were fixing up the Social House, even old Mr.
Peberdy woke up when she scolded him. It's queer, isn't it, how she
makes you feel? She----"

A rap-a-tap-tap on the knocker sounded sharply and then, before either
Judith or Elinor could move, the door was flung open and Patricia,
followed by Bruce and Mrs. Spicer, rushed breathlessly in.

"Oh, you darlings!" she cried, hugging them both at once. "Oh, how
heavenly it is to be here, and how adorable you look! Judy, that's a
simply perfect green in that frock, and, Norn, you're lovelier than ever
in that queer faded yellow. The studio looks stunning. Oh, I'm so
excited that I don't know what I'm doing! To think of actually being
here at last!" And she flung down her hat on the long divan and,
crumpling her bright hair between both pink palms, she stepped back and
faced the group in the middle of the studio with laughing lips and wet
eyes.

Elinor, Judith and Bruce, with Mrs. Spicer in their midst, smiled back
at her, but did not speak, each feeling, somehow, that this was Miss
Pat's moment for utterance. On the brink of her new life--that life she
had so ardently longed and planned and worked for--she had become for
the moment the first figure in the scene. Tomorrow she would be gone
into the ranks of that great army which is building up the beautiful
world for others less gifted to live in, but today she was the center of
her little world.

"To think, Judy and Elinor and Bruce and Mrs. Jinny-Nat, that I'm here,
_here_, all ready to begin too with my music. One little day and then
I'll be a real singing student. Why, it takes my breath away--" And she
paused with a catch in her voice that threatened tears.

This was too much for the calm and practical Judith. "But you've been
simply crazy to be here, Miss Pat," she cried reprovingly. "You've
toiled and moiled on chickens and sculpture and candy and boarders and
everything just to be able at last to be a real singer. I don't see what
there is to be a cry-baby about now."

Patricia's merry peal rang out wholesomely and she caught Judith by her
slim shoulders and gave her a playful shake.

"It takes Ju to show up our little mistakes, doesn't it, Mrs. Nat?" she
cried gayly. "Thank you, Judy, for them kind words. I won't be a
cry-baby again; I promise you that. Come, Norn, tell us what you and
Bruce have been up to while we've been wandering toward the sunny South
this last two weeks. Is your stained glass window done, Norn, and has
Marty been behaving as well as ever? Oh, there's such a lot to talk
about, it's hard to know where to begin."

Mrs. Spicer laid aside her wraps and drew a deep chair to the fire. "I
move we get thawed out while we gabble," she proposed, with her deep,
husky chuckle. "I'm so frozen that it'll take a week of Sundays to shed
my icicles. This zero weather isn't particularly inspiring after the
balmy breezes of the Gulf Stream."

"Oh, do let's stay in for tea and go without any real dinner, Elinor,"
begged Patricia, impulsively. "Bruce said we were to take dinner at the
Ritz as a special treat, but I'd ever so much rather stay home for this
one night, if you don't mind."

Elinor looked inquiringly at her husband, who nodded and disappeared
into the adjoining room, and then she smiled at Mrs. Spicer and nodded
reassuringly at Judith, whose rather troubled expression did not escape
the quick eyes of her impetuous sister.

"Will it disappoint you, Judy?" she asked with slightly dampened ardor.
"I never thought of your being set on it----"

Judith waved her aside with a gesture of calm benignity. "I should
hope," she said magnificently, "that I could do without _food_ as well
as any of you." And she seated herself on the stool beside Mrs. Spicer
with an air of having settled the matter.

Patricia could not resist a ripple of merriment at her imposing manner.
"Squelched again," she laughed, trying vainly to look humble and
repentant. "Elinor, you really oughtn't to let Judy sacrifice herself
like this. She----"

Elinor sank into another wide chair at the opposite side of the hearth.
"We're only too glad to stay indoors this bitterly cold weather," she
replied easily. "Judith was just wishing before you came that we could
have a cosy supper here, but we all thought it would be more festive to
celebrate in some more lively spot than the old studio. We didn't have
any tea for you this afternoon because we wanted you to enjoy the dinner
all the more."

Patricia still looked rather uncertainly at Judith, whose dignified
manner was as impassive as ever. "Sure you don't mind, Ju?" she asked,
solicitous as ever for her small sister's happiness. "Mrs. Nat will soon
be thawed out, and----"

Judith drew herself up with beautiful composure. "Patricia Louise
Kendall, you will never be a great artist if your mind is so set on your
food," she said severely. "Do stop talking about dinners, and tell us
what you've seen down there among the alligators and palm trees."

Patricia flung out two protesting palms. "Ask Sinbad, otherwise Mrs.
Nathaniel Spicer," she retorted gayly, relieved by Judith's evident
sincerity, "I'm no earthly good on descriptive pieces, as you very well
know; and she can spin yarns that would make Robinson Crusoe sound like
a Cook excursion. I'll roll up here alongside of Elinor and censor her
reports when they get too highly colored."

Mrs. Spicer chuckled, rubbed her frosty fingers before the leaping blaze
and then plunged into the story of their fortnight's journey southward
with Miriam Halden, whom they had left with her mother in New Orleans,
looking forward, in spite of crutches, to the festivities of her
friends' coming-out parties.

Elinor and Judith asked a great many questions and Patricia threw in a
word or two occasionally, but for the most part she was silent, reveling
in the cosy warmth of the big room, with its easels and casts and
canvases and all the other familiar delightful implements of the
painter's craft.

As Mrs. Spicer finished and Patricia was beginning to bubble over with
eager questions about friends and acquaintances, Bruce came back into
the room, and, lighting a cigar, flung himself into the vacant lounging
chair at the other side of the hearth. He was smiling and Patricia knew
his expression meant something agreeable.

"What is it, Bruce?" she asked eagerly. "I know you've something up your
sleeve. Is it a surprise? Does Elinor know? Is anyone coming?"

Bruce pretended to be absorbed in his cigar and said not a word.

The others looked expectantly at him, and Judith, catching the
infection, slipped over to him and taking him gently by the ears,
turned his head directly toward them.

"You may as well tell us, Mr. Bruce," she urged firmly. "We haven't any
time to waste this evening on conundrums, you know."

Elinor suddenly seemed enlightened. "Oh, I think I know--" she began,
when Bruce interrupted her.

"No, you don't know it all," he announced loudly, as if fearful that the
news might come from some other source. "You may know that I was going
to order dinner served here in the studio, and you might guess that it
was to be a very festive one, but you couldn't possibly foresee who was
to share the humble board with us, no, not if you guessed a hundred
years."

"Pooh, I'm sure I could do it in one little hour if I tried," laughed
Patricia. "We don't know such a horde of people that it would take long
to run over every name we know."

"Oh, don't try, please don't!" cried Judith in alarm, lest valuable time
be lost. "Tell us, Bruce, do, Mrs. Nat hates to haggle over news."

There was a merry outcry at this transparent plea and then Bruce, with a
pretense of reluctance, gave in.

"We're going to have dinner here in the studio with real waiters, Judy,
and a bunch of flowers for each lady--don't interrupt, please, till I've
done. A bunch of violets for you and Elinor and Mrs. Spicer and the
happy song-bird there, and also for Miss Margaret Howes and Mrs. Hiram
Todd."

There was such a chorus of questions that Bruce held up his hands in
protest.

"Give me time, and I'll confess all," he entreated. "Don't be too hard
on a poor solitary man-body. Remember, you're four to one, and be easy.
I had asked the Todds for a surprise to you all, and today I met Miss
Howes on the street--just back in town and honing for a sight of old
friends, and I nailed her on the spot. Fortunately I could get them all
on the phone and they one and all bubbled with joy at the prospect of a
quiet little dinner in the shelter of our roof-tree. Margaret Howes is
sick of hotel life and Mrs. Todd isn't quite acclimated to it yet."

Mrs. Spicer shook her head. "We didn't even know there was a Mrs.
Hiram," she said with a chuckle. "When did it happen?"

"The very day after you left," replied Elinor. "They went to
Washington--Hiram had some more business there--and Marian had the time
of her life. She looks like a different girl, too. She's taken Hiram in
hand already, and he is beginning to seem like other people. She told me
the day we called on them here that she had given all of Hiram's wedding
outfit to the Salvation Army, and she meant to fit him out right here in
New York."

Patricia puckered her brow. "I thought Hiram was very well as he was,"
she said doubtfully. "He was the sort that couldn't be much changed, and
it seems silly to deck him out----"

Bruce interrupted her. "That isn't the idea, my dear Pat," he explained,
smiling. "Marian says Hiram has too much brains to look like a scarecrow
for ignorant people to look down on, so she's making him fit, merely to
enlighten them as to his merit."

Patricia was silenced, though not yet convinced. She turned to the
subject of Margaret Howes with eager interest, asking all sorts of
questions as to her progress in painting and her appearance and her life
of the past year, to none of which Bruce would answer a word, even
though urged by Elinor.

"Wait and find out for yourselves," he said teasingly. "It would take
off the bloom if I recounted all."

Elinor rose to lead the way to the rooms where they would dress. "I
don't believe he knows a single thing," she said emphatically. "Margaret
isn't a chatterbox and it was too bitterly cold on the streets today for
any lengthy confidences. Come along and get into your festive togs--we
don't want to miss a single minute, and dinner is very early tonight."

As Patricia followed the others out she bent gratefully over Bruce's
chair. Her large gray eyes were shining in the rosy firelight and her
face was sweetly serious.

"You're awfully good to me, Bruce," she said in a low tone. "I don't
deserve it one scrap--but I'll try all the harder to be worth while some
day."

Bruce looked up with his nicest smile and laid his strong hand over hers
on his chair-arm.

"You're very much worth while now--to me, Patsy dear," he said with
genuine affection. "I'm not looking ahead to those future days. Who
knows whether the success, when it comes, will make you nearer to us, or
will take you far away----"

She broke in eagerly with her hand pressed on her quickly beating heart.
"Oh, Bruce," she said with a little tinge of fear in her tone. "I'm
sometimes so afraid of that--losing you all in the work and hurry that
is coming to me. But you'll help me, won't you? You'll keep me
remembering how much we've always despised conceited, stuck-up people? I
may be a failure after all, but if I'm not, if I'm the tiniest bit of a
success and you see me getting selfish and horrid, you'll try to remind
me, won't you?"

Bruce smiled reassuringly up at her flushed face. "Rely on me to
puncture your balloon if it's needed, Miss Pat," he said in a tone that
was very comforting, and, as she dropped a light kiss on his dark,
waving hair, he added more soberly, "It's a mighty hard thing for a
singer to be unselfish and generous, I warn you, my dear. It's going to
be a struggle sometimes, though I don't doubt for an instant that you'll
win out with flying colors."

Patricia's gayety was surging back in a happy flood, and she
straightened up with a little rippling laugh, casting all her shadowy
fears behind her.

"Just you wait till I sing my first concert, Mr. Bruce Hayden," she
challenged, "and then tell me I'm a conceited goose, if you dare. I
wagger as Hannah Ann says, I'll be the same stupid, silly thing I am
now." And nodding brightly at him, she danced after the others, humming
a gay little tune as she went.



CHAPTER II

BRUCE'S SURPRISE PARTY


Although Patricia would have been very well entertained with a quiet tea
all to themselves in the studio, since there was so much to be talked
over, so many plans to be made and such hopes to be indulged in,
nevertheless she was obliged to confess that she had never had a jollier
time in her life than at the dinner that night.

While they were dressing, the table was laid and some tall palms placed
in the corners of the room just where they made the best effect, and
when they came into the studio again the whole scene was of the most
restive sort. Flowers on the tables and candles twinkling everywhere,
the tapestries and screens of the shadowy backgrounds, the gleam of
copper and brass, all mingled in a delightful whole which would have
been hard to equal by any hotel, however well appointed.

Judith gave an exclamation of pleasure as she stood on the threshold.

"Why, it's the very nicest place in the world to celebrate in!" she said
warmly. "You ought to be an awfully great singer, Miss Pat, when you're
starting off with such lovely doings."

Patricia screwed up her face into a mocking protest and had opened her
lips, when the sound of the elevator made them start eagerly to the
door.

Margaret Howes knocked before they could fling it open, but they had her
inside and were hugging her and shaking hands recklessly ere Bruce could
hurry out to see who had knocked.

Margaret, in a long cloak and with her dark hair crowned with a simple
wreath of ivy leaves, was looking more charming than ever, and although
she was fain to linger a moment to take in the beautified studio, they
hurried her off to Elinor's room, where Mrs. Spicer was waiting to hook
the last reluctant hook in Elinor's filmy gown.

There was another shower of excited embraces, questions and comments
rained down and it was only the arrival of the Hiram Todd's that saved
Margaret from pouring out all her store of information about herself in
one reckless flood and thereby wasting half of the entertainment for the
dinner table.

Mrs. Hiram Todd fully justified Elinor's approbation, for in the
incredibly short time since she had left Rockham and gone with the lanky
Hiram to the national capital, she had shed the slightly rustic manner
of her former days and had become, in appearance at least, a
well-dressed, attractive, sensible looking girl such as you may see in
the comfortable homes of the large cities.

But although Patricia was surprised at the change which Marian had
effected in her own manners and garments in the brief fortnight of
married life, her astonishment grew as she gazed on Hiram.

No one, seeing the happy Hiram for the first time, could have believed
that a few short months ago he had been the lank and ungrammatical
individual whose gift of a patent rocker struck consternation to the
members of the House Committee on that fateful donation night at the
Social House when the ninety-nine wooden chairs had been presented by
the guests of the evening. The memory of that trying moment, the picture
of his later efforts in pursuit of grammar under her own tuition, faded
from Patricia's mind as she looked at him. She recalled only the
successful geologist, the man of science whose collection had gained him
recognition in high places, and she held out her hand with cordial
sincerity.

"How splendidly you're looking, Hiram," she said, almost with admiration
in her tone. "City life must agree with you tremendously----"

Bruce's chuckle halted her speech, but Hiram nodded heartily.

"That's about the size of it," he said with one of his grins. "But it
took a smarter one than me--_I_ to get at it. I was in town a lot since
Mr. Hayden got me in touch with the big guns at the capital, and I
didn't turn a hair, as far as clothes was concerned. My, my, what a
dummy I was. But the minute Marian landed in the dining-room of the
hotel, she knew what was what. She's just built me all over on stylish
lines, you see," he ended with simple candor that was very pleasant to
hear. "And the funny part of it is that I don't feel foolish in them,
either. I like this striped white vest a heap better'n the plain ones,
and I'm dinged if I ain't amazing comfortable in this stiff, starchy
dress shirt."

Marian had the good sense to enjoy Hiram's frankness and she smiled on
him affectionately. "We're both glad we came to town," she said with a
glance at her own fluffy net dress, "but we'll be glad, too, to get back
to the folks again. Town's plenty of fun, but it takes one's ambition.
Hiram's simply lost without the woods and hills and I'm going to be
pretty well satisfied with Rockham, once I get back."

Margaret Howes took a great fancy to both of them, and she plied Hiram
with many questions as to his geological pursuits, bringing out all the
best in him, while Marian, pleased with the respect this pretty,
intelligent girl showed to her husband, glowed and beamed on her,
growing entirely at ease and even loquacious under the stimulating
warmth of Margaret's interest. By the time that dinner was served they
were all in the most friendly humor possible and ready to enjoy the
least excuse for laughter.

Another pleasant surprise came as they were settling themselves at the
table. The elevator clanged its downward flight and a moment after the
door flung open to admit Patricia's twin Ted, with his chum Tom Hughes,
both very much delighted to find such a merry company and fully equipped
with appetites to do justice to the feast.

Bruce received them with something like contrition in his cheerful face.
"Great Scott, I forgot you two!" he gasped, wringing their hands with
great cordiality. "Hope you haven't been wandering about in this frosty
burg too long?"

Tom shook himself out of his overcoat with a silent grin, but Ted was
not so considerate.

"See here, Elinor," he complained, turning to his sister at the head of
the table. "That husband of yours needs a lecture. He made a date with
us fellows over a week ago and we've been tracking him in vain for
nearly an hour. He never peeped a note about having the dinner here. I
thought it was to be at the Ritz and we've been hanging about there for
a dog's age. What do you think of it?"

Patricia broke in before Bruce or Elinor could reply. "Don't waste time
mourning over the dark past, Ted Kendall," she said severely. "Come sit
down here between Margaret Howes and me, and let Margaret see how nicely
you can behave since you've grown up enough to have evening clothes. She
hasn't seen you since you were a little boy at Elinor's wedding, you
know."

There was a laugh at this, as the ceremony mentioned had taken place in
a June not so very long ago, and while Bruce tried hard to trump up
excuses for having forgotten to telephone to his young brother-in-law,
the two boys settled themselves at the table at the hastily arranged
places provided for them, and the dinner began amidst great gayety.

When the fish had been disposed of Ted leaned forward to catch Elinor's
eye. "Have you broken the news to the future prima donna?" he asked
with interest. "I saw Merton today--you know his sister is living at
Venusburg now--and he said it was a dandy place. Receptions every week.
Tea-room on the premises. Art mongers and singers and a few chaperones
that know their business----"

Patricia broke in with puzzled wonder: "What are you talking about,
Ted?" she demanded. "What has Elinor to do with tea-rooms and the like?"

Ted looked surprised in his turn. "Haven't they told you yet?" he
inquired doubtfully. "Perhaps I oughtn't to have----"

Elinor hastened to reassure him. "It's all right, Ted dear," she said.
"We hadn't told Miss Pat because we thought she mightn't like it and we
wanted her to have this one evening without a flaw. But she has to know
tomorrow, so she may as well hear it now."

Patricia's heart sank as Elinor turned to her, and her first words were
not encouraging.

"I know how you love to be with us all," she said, hesitating for the
best words, "but Madame Milano has written that she wants you to agree
absolutely to her suggestions as to your studies and----"

Patricia flushed suddenly. "Well, if it means that I have to go away all
by myself and never have any real family times, like we've just begun to
have after all these years," she declared hotly, "I simply won't do it,
no matter what comes of it."

There was a little pause in the animated talk at the other end of the
table where Bruce and Marian Todd were discussing architecture with Tom
Hughes, and Bruce bent an anxious glance at his rebellious
sister-in-law.

"Humph, listen to that, will you?" said Ted, appealing to Margaret. "She
isn't a bit grateful--not she. She turns down a real thorough-going
opera singer without a spasm. Time was when she groveled--fairly
groveled--at Milano's lightest suggestion. At Leeuwarden, for
instance----"

Patricia had caught the look in Bruce's eye and she flung her petulance
from her with her usual energy.

"Never mind preaching any more, St. Francis-Edward-David
Carson-Kendall, I'll be good," she said lightly. "Tell me the worst,
Elinor, so that I may have it over. I always did think I'd like to
expire among lights and flowers."

It was an effort to put her own feelings to one side, but she had her
reward in Bruce's look and in Elinor's sigh of relief, and she instantly
determined to put up with whatever Milano decreed with as joyful a
spirit as she could summon.

"It really isn't so very dreadful. Many girls would love it," explained
Elinor. "You are to study with Madame Milano's friend, Madame Tancredi,
and to live at the new students' club, Artemis Lodge----"

"I thought Ted called it something else," began Patricia puzzled.

Ted laughed. "That's the name the fellows have for it," he explained in
a hasty aside.

Elinor went gently on with the rules. "And you are to come home on
Sunday evenings," she said brightly, "and to be very particular about
your diet and physical exercises. I think that's all."

Patricia, in spite or her good resolves, could not repress a sigh at the
program which was so very different from that she had planned for
herself. Afternoons at the studio, morning chats with Elinor, music
lessons for the aspiring Marty, who was to be put to school as soon as
she came from Rockham, and a host of other idle, pleasant doings had
been in her catalogue.

"I suppose it will be very nice," she said in a half-hearted manner that
showed her feelings as clearly as any words could have. "Have you seen
the place, Elinor?"

Elinor had not, but Margaret Howes had stopped there before settling in
her new studio apartment, and she declared it as delightful as one could
wish. Ted and Tom added their hopeful prophecy that she'd find a dandy
bunch of girls there, and even Judith put in a word for Patricia's
future abode by saying in her most conclusive fashion:

"I suppose they'll be fearfully nice to you there, since they will all
know that Madame Milano made you come there. You're always so very
lucky, Miss Pat. Everybody makes things so easy for you."

Patricia gave a gurgle of amusement at Judith's grown-up air. Her
soaring spirits began to color the picture of Artemis Lodge with
brighter hue and she saw that it really was fortunate to have the
interest of a prominent and popular opera singer as an introduction to
the world of musical endeavor.

"That's true enough, Judith-Minerva, my dear," she retorted gayly. "I'll
try to live up to the great Milano's recommendation. But if I fail, I'll
get my literary sister, the authoress of----"

Here Judith, for some reason unknown to Patricia, looked so very hurt
and agitated that she dropped her teasing manner and said with genuine
satisfaction, "I'm awfully glad that you pointed out what a card Madame
Milano's introduction will be, Judy. They'll put up with me for her sake
and I'll have a good time, even if it is in borrowed plumage."

Judith, however, was not going to allow that her admired Miss Pat needed
any other recommendation than her own pleasant self, and she defended
Patricia so stoutly against this statement that Ted declared he was
green with jealousy and began a counter-charge of neglect of his
talents, which moved Judith to swift retort and afforded great diversion
to their end of the table.

The talk hung on the charms of Artemis Lodge, and then slipped to the
changes which had come into each of their lives since their last
meeting. Margaret Howes confessed to being at work on a large decorative
scheme for a woman's club, although she would not divulge the
whereabouts of the club nor the length of her stay in the metropolis.
Elinor showed the photograph of her finished cartoon for the stained
glass window she had been at work on before and during the holidays,
while Bruce promised a view of his partly finished panel for the
Historical Society. Hiram Todd sketched lightly the prospects which were
opening to him in additional work in Washington. Ted and Tom had little
to add to their openly avowed intentions to capture honors in the same
course, each declaring that the other stood little show beside himself.
Judith was very quiet and, as the youngest, was not pressed for any
definite account of her aims and accomplishments, and though Patricia
knew well that her silence covered great determinations, the memory of
her agitated manner when she had spoken jestingly of her literary
ambitions kept her from further open questioning.

The intimate hospitality of the studio made a good setting for their gay
sociability and the dinner progressed without any more drags on the
wheels of its merry-making. Mrs. Nat told funny stories, and the boys
gave impromptu imitations of classmates and professors; Margaret Howes
sparkled with quaint tales of the remote mountain village where she had
been spending the summer. Elinor's gentle wit flashed; and Bruce's ready
laughter followed every one of his own clever jokes, while Patricia and
Marian made their mark as an appreciative audience, enjoying everything
that was meant for humor and applauding even the feeblest joke.
Altogether it was a great success as a celebration and a happy augury of
the future into which it ushered the expectant Patricia.

The guests were slow to leave and if it had not been necessary for Ted
and Tom to make a certain train in order to get back to college at the
required time, while Hiram was also due at a midnight conference of
geologists at his hotel, they might have gone on with the merriment long
after the last waiter had disappeared and the violets were fading.

"I simply hate to go," confessed Margaret Howes as she stood waiting for
her taxi after the rest had departed. "I've had a gorgeous time and I am
sorry to leave you. Remember you are to meet me in the tea-room at
Artemis Lodge at four-fifteen tomorrow to look over the ground before
Miss Pat plunges in. Wait for me in the corner near the door. I'll be on
time--if I can."

After the elevator had clanged its way down with Bruce and Margaret,
Patricia turned with a passionate gesture to the others.

"Oh, my dears, to think it has really begun!" she cried as though just
realizing the great fact. "Oh, Mrs. Nat, and Judy, and Elinor, you
dear, adorable angels, I'm so happy I don't know what to do."

Elinor and Judith were blowing out the guttering candles, and Mrs. Nat
was hastily rearranging the disordered furniture, but they each stopped
to smile sympathetically at her, and Judith reached out an eager hand.

"Just think of tomorrow, Miss Pat," she said, shaken out of her
composure for once. "Oh, jiminy! Losh keep us all! What fun that's going
to be!"



CHAPTER III

THE TEA-ROOM AT ARTEMIS LODGE


Patricia spent the next morning in a whirl of pleasantly conflicting
emotions, and, while she was posing in the studio for a rapid sketch by
Elinor, her head was humming with a perfect hive of delightful thoughts.

Bruce was off for the day on business, Judith was, of course, at school,
and so the three, Mrs. Nat, Elinor and Patricia, had the place to
themselves. And how they did chatter!

Patricia heard over and over again every particular of the interview
Elinor and Bruce had with the prima donna on their last flying visit to
New York; they discussed the possibilities of getting an attractive room
at Artemis Lodge at the very moderate price Patricia could afford; they
made plans for the welfare of Marty Sneath, who was to arrive and take
up her duties as studio-girl the next day; and, in spite of the fact
that it was only two short weeks since the travelers had left the north,
Patricia insisted on minute inquiries about everyone she knew.

But always, at the end of every other subject, they returned to the
great matter in hand--Patricia's enrolment as a singing student under
Madame Tancredi and her establishment at Artemis Lodge.

"I'm scared stiff at the thought of paying such a fortune for the
lessons," Patricia said ruefully. "Think of spending all that money for
one little half hour! And three lessons a week, too. Don't you think I
might do with less, Norn? I can make it up with practicing, you know."

Elinor shook her head and Mrs. Spicer counseled briskly, "Better stick
tight to rules, my dear. This Madame knows her business, it seems, and
if your operatic friend, says three, it must be as she commands. Thank
goodness, she didn't tell you to spend every afternoon there."

"Well, then, the only thing for me to do is to get a very cheap room,"
said Patricia decisively. "For I am just determined not to be sponging
on you and Bruce if I can help it."

Elinor was about to protest, but Mrs. Spicer with nods and head-shakes
signaled her to desist.

"That's the way to talk," she said heartily. "You'll enjoy every scrap
of progress that you make. We've got to pay for everything in this life
one way or another and it saves a lot trouble to begin square."

"Oh, I'm so glad you see it," cried Patricia. "I simply couldn't take
money for mere _indulgences_, even though I might for real hard study. I
can be just as happy in a little room as a big one, and I'll have this
lovely place to come to when I'm hankering after space, anyway."

It was settled, after a careful consultation of the little book which
Patricia called her "Incomings and Outgoings" that, since the lessons
took almost every cent of the modest income which Ted generously
insisted on sharing with his two younger sisters for the winter months,
Patricia was to accept the rent of her room at Artemis Lodge as a gift
from Bruce and Elinor and to keep the remnant of her own money for
current expenses.

"I'll be a perfect miser and that will help me to stay at home and
practice all the more," laughed Patricia as she settled down to the
posing again. "I do hope Artemis Lodge isn't a very top-lofty place,
with lots of maids to tip and a hundred ways of grabbing at my little
pile."

"You'll find out all its pitfalls _after_ you get there," said Mrs. Nat
with a grimness born of experience. "Don't look for too much. It isn't
human nature to be perfect. Besides, it ain't religious. If this good
old earth of ours was just one little mite better none of us would be
hankering so very specially after heaven."

Patricia tossed the suggestion of drawbacks to Artemis Lodge behind her
with a gay gesture, and if the clock had not struck at that minute would
have entered a strong protest. At the signal of release, however, she
flung off the drapery in which Elinor had posed her, and flew to the
window.

"The sun's out again, and it's come to stay!" she cried, peering down at
the streets with eager interest. "Oh, isn't it too jolly for words to
be really going to get my room and all! I'm so excited I simply can't
wait for the time to come."

But of course she did wait and with the very best grace in the world.
For she helped Elinor pack a box of warm half-worn clothing for the
worthless Sneaths in Rockham, and made some necessary repairs in her own
slightly travel-worn clothes.

"I want to be as fresh as possible, without being too wealthy looking,"
she said with a smile as she laid out her newest blouse and brushed her
hat with great nicety when the hour for getting ready for the tea-party
had arrived.

Judith had come in and was hurrying through her toilet at an unusual
rate of speed, but she paused and critically surveyed her sister with
her head first on one side and then on the other.

"You may as well give up trying to look like the deserving poor, Miss
Pat," she said emphatically. "You'll always be sort of _rich-ish_
looking, not real luxuriant, you know, but--but--" She hesitated for
just the right phrase. "Well, anyone would know you used a bath-brush
and took care of your hair," she ended lamely.

Patricia bubbled with mirth. "What a left-handed compliment, Judy. Is
that the best you can do for me? I'm glad I appear clean, anyway."

Judith began to fasten her frock, undisturbed. "You know perfectly well,
Miss Pat, that you're quite good-looking--not so lovely as Elinor, but
heaps prettier than Miriam or--or--me," she ended rather forlornly.

Patricia had come to understand the longing after beauty which was in
the depths of her small sister's secret heart and was quick to offer
balm.

"Look at us," she said, pulling Judith to the mirror beside her. "'Fess
up now Miss, that you are quite as fascinating as your elderly relative.
You forget that you've been growing and changing a lot since I've been
away."

Judith gazed at the reflection in the glass which showed her as a
slender childish figure with a lengthening mop of pale, ashy hair and a
face of delicate intensity. She really had not changed at all in
Patricia's short absence, but the different surroundings made both girls
view her with other eyes, and she seemed to have taken on new height and
color.

"I'm growing!" cried Judith rapturously, turning from the mirror to rush
into Elinor's room with the glorious news. "Oh, Elinor, I'm nearly up to
Miss Pat's ear-tip now."

Patricia heard Elinor's laughing comments with a smile of satisfaction
curving her pink lips. She knew that Judith did not measure a fraction
of an inch more than when she left Rockham, but she was glad that the
images in the glass had cheered the critical Judith, whose lamentations
about her size and coloring were always loudest when she faced a
looking-glass.

It was only a very little thing, this incident of cheering Judith, but
it warmed Patricia's already glowing heart and added the final drop to
her cup of happiness, and she started off on their expedition to the
Artemis tea-room with such a radiant face that Judith commented on it.

"Miss Pat," she whispered with a warning nudge as they fell behind the
other two in the crowded pavement, "you ought to take a tuck in your
smile. Everybody will be looking at us if you go along grinning like
that."

But Patricia only smiled the more at this and Judith gave her up in
despair of making any impression on her abounding good humor.

"She's perfectly dreadful, Mrs. Nat," she confided as she slipped to her
old friend's side, leaving Patricia to Elinor for the rest of the walk.
"She doesn't care a bit about how she looks. Lots of people turned to
stare at us."

Mrs. Spicer nodded approval of Patricia's reckless course. "Don't you
fret, my dear," she soothed Judith. "Miss Pat is worth looking at any
time and folks like to see a real happy person once in a while. Land
knows why we're all so afraid to show our joyful side to the world. Let
her alone. Good times don't last too long for any of us."

Judith meditated on this bit of wisdom and she watched Patricia closely
when they reached the street where the house was located. There was no
clouding of the bright face, however, at the sight of the substantial
graystone building, and Judith drew a sigh of relief that Patricia's
happy hour was lengthened by so much.

"Isn't it a perfect duck of a place?" said Patricia as they stood at the
wide entrance door. "It's just like some of the old houses I saw in
Belgium last summer--only fresher and newer, of course."

"Margaret said it was modeled after an old French house," said Elinor,
reaching for the shiny brass knob at the side of the green door. "The
people who planned it wanted to get what they called 'artistic
atmosphere' and a suitable setting for the budding geniuses within
doors."

"And they hit the nail on the head, _smack_," agreed Mrs. Nat as the
door swung open and a glimpse of a wide, paved inner courtyard made an
interesting background for the respectable, stout elderly woman who,
like the concierge abroad, guarded the entrance.

They were ushered across the courtyard--Patricia all the while gaping
shamelessly about at the four house-walls that formed the square about
the courtyard--and went up a red-carpeted, stone stair to the first
floor of the house, where they followed their affable guide through a
succession of passages, coming at last into a huge room at the door of
which she left them.

There was a murmur of well-modulated voices, a hum of light chatter, and
as they paused on the threshold for a moment, the sound of a couple of
notes struck carelessly on a piano made Patricia's cheeks glow.

"Isn't it a stunning big room?" she said in an undertone to Elinor, who
nodded appreciatively as she led the way into the nearest corner where a
comfortable divan and a couple of chairs stood invitingly empty.

The room was filled with girls of varying ages, with a scattering of
guests, and although it was as yet too early for tea, the place was
alive with chatting groups, some of whom had secured little tables
against future needs. The tea-table was at one end of the room, and the
big brass samovar was already sending out encouraging clouds of steamy
vapor. The girl behind the urn attracted Patricia's immediate attention.

"Look, Norn," she said in eager interest. "Isn't that Doris Leighton at
the tea-table? It's enough like her to be her twin, if it isn't
herself."

Elinor's surprise was quite as great as Patricia's on recognizing beyond
a doubt the fair hair and attractive figure which had so won Patricia's
admiration on her first visit to the art school many months ago. Doris
it was beyond a doubt, and grown more charming than ever, as they
quickly found on making themselves-known to her.

"I'm staying here for the winter," she explained to them while her hands
were busy with the tea-things. "I get my room free for attending to the
tea-table, and I am doing social secretary work in the mornings. I've
been intending to hunt you up, ever since I came back to town but I've
been so busy I could hardly see."

Patricia, in spite of her knowledge of Doris' brave struggle since the
loss of their money, could not help contrasting the present capable
Doris with the beauty of the class at the Academy whose severest task
had been to clean her big palette or wash her soiled paint brushes.

"That month at Greycroft while you were abroad set me up completely,"
Doris went on with an earnestness that was good to see. "I'll never
forget your kindness to me and mother, Elinor, and if there is ever
anything I can do to show how I feel, you must let me do it."

It was on the tip of Patricia's tongue to suggest that she give them
some hints of the inner workings of Artemis Lodge, but at that moment
Margaret Howes came in, and there was all the exclaiming and wondering
over the coincidence of Doris' presence to be gone over again, until the
arrival of a maid with a basket of hot buns put an end to their talk
with the tea-mistress.

Margaret led the way back to their corner. "It's great luck that Doris
should be here," she said with an exultant note in her voice. "She can
do a lot for you, Miss Pat, by way of avoiding the rocks among the
shoals. She'll know more about the real inside workings of these fair
damsels than you can find out all at once for yourself. And I advise you
to get her opinion of anyone you fancy, before you tie too closely to
them."

This was considered a good plan by all, and they intended to seek Doris
after her duties were over and put some leading questions to her. While
the tea was still circulating and they were deep in discussing the
various sorts of girls surrounding their corner, Doris came over to them
with a word of regret for her early flitting.

"It's my short hour today, and I have a lesson in domestic science to
give over in Brooklyn. I'm late, too," she said, pulling into her gloves
with nervous haste and glancing at the window near their corner. "Send
me your address, Elinor, and we'll have a real meeting some day soon.
Good-bye, Mrs. Nat. Good-bye, Judy, Don't forget to make Elinor hunt me
up, Miss Pat. Mercy, there goes my car now," and she fled precipitately.

Margaret Howes looked after her with approval in spite of her own
disappointed hopes. "Don't tell me that it isn't good for some people
to be poor," she said impressively. "Doris Leighton proves that beyond a
doubt. Did she tell you anything about Miss Ardsley, the new
directress?" she asked in a changed tone.

Elinor shook her head. "We were too much surprised to keep our wits, I
am afraid," she confessed. "We really ought to see her now--it's getting
late and Mrs. Spicer wants to make that six-ten train."

Margaret rose and made her way to another part of the room, where she
seemed to be making inquiries, for a girl in a faded green linen dress
nodded and then went out, returning quickly.

Margaret came back smiling. "Miss Ardsley is in today," she said, "and
will see us in a short while."

Patricia's color rose and she held her hands together under the cover of
her muff. The anxious moment seemed an age to her, and although the
green-robed girl had assured Margaret that the lady was on the way to
meet them, she was positive that it was at least half an hour until the
slim, silk-clad form of the directress of Artemis Lodge stood smiling
gently before them.

She was of that age between youth and middle age which shows at the same
time gray hairs among the dark braids and pink cheeks where the wrinkles
are beginning to hide. She wore a sober, well-cut gown and her few
ornaments were of the choicest kind. Her hands were soft and long and
somewhat faded, though carefully tended and of good shape.

Patricia on the first swift glance did not feel particularly drawn to
her, but after the introductions had been made by Margaret Howes, and
they were seated again, she began to revise her first hasty judgment.

Miss Ardsley was graciousness itself, and even the mention of Madame
Milano's name did not seem to heighten her original cordiality, but she
had disappointment for Patricia's high hopes in her accounts of the
popularity of Artemis Lodge.

"I assure you, my dear Mrs. Hayden, we have not a single empty room,"
she said with graceful regret. "Every apartment in the Lodge is filled
at present, and unless someone should leave, I do not see how we can
hope to have the pleasure of Miss Kendall's being with us."

Mrs. Spicer, always practical and to the point, demanded if there were
any prospect of a removal.

Miss Ardsley feared not, since the Lodge was so deservedly popular. "And
with the very best families, I assure you," she said with an earnestness
which Patricia wondered at. "We have two young millionairesses with us
now, and the social tone of the establishment is higher than ever this
year."

It was plain that the magic names of Hayden and Milano could do nothing
in this case, and Patricia gave up hope, plunging into a dark region of
despair from which it took a hard struggle on her part to emerge
sufficiently to smile her farewells to Miss Ardsley and make her way out
with the others with an appearance at least of cheerful indifference.

On the way back she was very silent and neither Elinor nor Judith
attempted to comfort her, but when they had reached the station and Mrs.
Spicer had bought her ticket and Bruce had appeared in the nick of time
with luggage checks and other necessities of travel, her face cleared
and she turned to her old friend with more of her usual happy air.

"I'm not going to give up just for one little disappointment, Mrs. Nat,"
she whispered as she clung to her in farewell. "I'll get into Artemis
Lodge and I'll have a splendid time there, in spite of everything."

Mrs. Nat patted her cheek approvingly. "Certain sure you will, my dear,"
she responded heartily. "Something's bound to happen, once you make your
mind up to it."

Patricia watched the train pull out of the big smoky shed, with a real
hope growing in her heart.

"Something's bound to happen," she repeated determinedly, and she took
Judith's arm and skipped a couple of steps along the dim platform, much
to that young lady's horror.

"It's simply bound to happen, Judy," she said out loud, but to Judith's
puzzled questions she would give no answer save a little confident
laugh.



CHAPTER IV

TANCREDI'S TWO PUPILS


And something did actually happen. It was in the most unexpected way and
it came from a quarter that caused Patricia to believe in modern
miracles.

She had gone with some quaking to her appointment with Madame Tancredi,
and she was waiting alone in the anteroom--Elinor having left her for
some necessary shopping until the lesson should be over--when the maid
ushered in a girl in sumptuous street clothes, carrying a music roll of
extravagant design.

Patricia loved pretty clothes and pretty people, and the girl was
undeniably pretty in a dark, tropical way. She moved with graceful,
gliding steps and her face under the wide drooping velvet hat looked
amiable as well as comely.

Patricia wanted to speak to her, but was uncertain as to the propriety
of the act. The girl solved her difficulty, however, by choosing a
chair near Patricia's, and, settling easily in it with an accustomed air
of being agreeable, smiled pleasantly and spoke in a most melodious
voice.

"Are you the new pupil?" she asked, apparently less from curiosity than
a desire to break the silence. "I have heard that Madame was expecting
someone recommended by Milano, but since she didn't tell me any more
than just that much, I may be mistaken."

Patricia eagerly assured her that she was indeed the expected student,
adding a rather anxious question as to the manner of instructor she was
to have in Madame Tancredi.

The girl laughed a tinkling laugh which showed her faultless little
white teeth and waved her hand in quite the foreign manner.

"Tancredi is very well as teachers go," she said with an indifference
that seemed superhuman to the quivering Patricia, who immediately set
her up in her mind as authority on matters musical.

"I've never studied before," she confessed, with a tinge of confusion.
"I am afraid Madame will find me awfully stupid."

The girl looked at her with a lightening of her amiable, indifferent
air. "Are you really so very young as all that?" she asked in some
surprise. "You look very childish in this dim light, but I thought you
must be old enough to have studied somewhere before this. Tancredi
doesn't usually take rank amateurs."

Patrica felt very small indeed before this calm criticism, but she
confessed bravely, though with flushing cheeks. "I am past seventeen,"
she said resolutely. "And I've been waiting six months to begin study."

And then at the encouraging look on the other's face she rushed into a
rather jumbled account of her aspirations, her trials and lastly her
disappointment of yesterday in being refused admittance at Artemis Lodge
on the score of lack of room.

The girl listened closely, and Patricia thought she nodded approval at
the names of Bruce Hayden and Greycroft, and showed a keener interest
when Milano's visit to Rockham was hastily mentioned. She made few
comments, however, and when the gong rang, rose to go into the studio
with graceful alacrity.

At the threshold she paused to say, "If you are here when I come out, I
should like to see you again," and then with a return of her amiable,
indifferent air, she passed into the inner sanctum, leaving the
impulsive Patricia worshiping at her shrine.

Some sounds of liquid melody found their way out through the heavy
doors, and helped to make the tedious half hour pass like magic.
Patricia was thankful she had made a mistake in the time and had arrived
so much too soon, since it gave her the opportunity of having even this
small glimpse into the world of music before she ventured into it
herself.

The girl came out, and her expression was heightened into positive
radiance. Evidently her lesson had been a good one and she had been
praised.

Coming over to where Patricia still sat, she stood for a moment looking
down on her. Then she smiled her slow smile and held out her hand.

"I am Rosamond Merton," she said, "and I know that you are Patricia
Kendall. I am living at the Lodge while I study with Madame. I have
three rooms there. Will you come and stay with me for a month?"

Patricia gasped. "Why--" she began in some confusion. "Oh, you're awful
kind, but--but--you don't know me at all."

Rosamond Merton smiled again, but did not withdraw her hand. "Which
means that you don't know me," she replied, not at all affronted. "Ask
Tancredi who I am, and--if you are still in doubt, come to see me at the
Lodge. I like you, Miss Patricia Kendall, and I mean that you shall like
me."

Patricia was so overcome by these magnanimous words that she shook hands
with great heartiness, promising to visit Miss Merton and vowing
appreciation of her kindness.

"Though I can't come and stay with you, you know," she said as she rose
in response to the gong which was now summoning her. "I'm simply crazy
to stay at Artemis Lodge, but I couldn't sponge on a perfectly
absolutely strange girl." Then fearing that this might sound
ungracious, she added hastily, "Though there isn't anyone I'd like to
visit better than you."

The frank admiration in her tone pleased the girl and she took up her
muff and gloves with a gratified air. "I warn you that I am hard to
discourage when I've set my mind on a thing," she said lightly as she
turned to go. "You will come to see me this afternoon, I am sure."

She was gone before Patricia could reply and since the door into the
studio was opening softly, there was no other course for Madame Milano's
protégé than to walk as calmly as she might straight into the fiery
furnace, leaving all thoughts of Rosamond Merton behind her.

Tancredi proved a rather good-natured portly woman with a taste for
exaggerated garments which suggested the operatic stage. She met
Patricia on the threshold, and patted her shoulder kindly as she led her
into the large bare apartment.

"So, so. You are a very young one," she said with a strong foreign
accent, yet with great kindness. "Milano did not prepare me for this.
Sit there, little one, while I look thee over."

She pushed Patricia to the piano bench, and settled herself on the
opposite settee by the music stand, and though her scrutiny was
amazingly thorough, Patricia was surprised to find that it did not
disconcert her in the least. Madame Tancredi was the exact opposite of
her friend Milano in all save the kindly spirit of the true artist. She
was stout and heavy, where Milano was swift and graceful; she was
frankness itself where Milano was cryptic; and, finally, she was the
owner of a very lively curiosity.

Patricia feared lest her precious half hour go by in catechism, and was
beginning to feel a bit downcast over the length and variety of the
questions put to her by the smiling Tancredi, when suddenly, with a
jingle of her chatelaines and bangles, she rose and beckoned to a
screened corner where, unnoticed by Patricia, a dark-haired young woman
had been copying music.

"The Heather Song, Marçon," she said briefly. "This young lady requests
the Heather Song."

As a matter of fact, Patricia had done no more than to confess with
reluctance that she had tried it by herself at Greycroft, strumming the
accompaniment with careless fingers. She heard, with a sort of dismay,
the dashing introduction rendered faultlessly by the competent Marçon,
and she stood beside the shining grand piano in no very pleasant frame
of mind.

Her throat grew dryer with every moment and when it was her time to
burst into the rippling, tender song, she heard a trembling little
voice, which she could hardly recognize for her own, stumble faintly
into the melody.

It was too much for her tried nerves. She broke down utterly, turning
away from the piano with a sob, and, flinging out her hands in a
despairing gesture, cried out that she could not sing, that she never
should be able to sing and that she might as well go.

Tancredi was too much used to the emotions of the geniuses and
near-geniuses, whose temperamental outbreaks she had learned by heart,
not to understand what was the matter.

Waving the composed Marçon out of her room, she pushed Patricia to the
stool with no very gentle hand. "There now, my little one. Sing for me
in your own way," she commanded. "Rome was not builded in one day. You
are too much excited--and you so young," she ended with a softening of
pity in her rich tones.

Somehow that accusation of youthfulness was the spur that drove Patricia
to victory. Raising her head with a toss of determination, she ran her
hands over the keys first lightly and then with growing certainty of
herself, while, unseen by her, Tancredi nodded and smiled to herself in
high good humor.

The song bubbled out in Patricia's best notes, rippling in silver waves
through a golden atmosphere of pure melody. She sang it to the end and
then sat mutely on the bench, with her anxieties returning slowly as the
silence grew.

When she could bear it no longer she turned a pale face to where
Tancredi sat staring into space.

"S--shall I try it again?" she faltered uncertainly.

Tancredi shook her head silently. "That will be enough of songs for the
present, my treasure," she said, in a strange tone, of which Patricia
could make nothing.

Presently she rose and walked the length of the apartment with something
very like triumph on her heavy face, at which the puzzled Patricia
wondered all the more, though she waited docilely enough on her stool in
front of the great shining piano.

After a few turns, Tancredi came suddenly to her where she sat and took
her chin in her warm, soft padded fingers, staring sharply into her face
as though to read her whole being at a glance. Decidedly, she was a
woman of unusual moods, for she stooped and kissed the anxious, girlish
face, first on one cheek and then on the other.

"There, my little one, we are friends now," she said, releasing her,
"and you shall sometimes sing for me some of those songs when it is
needed to cheer your heart. But otherwise you shall not sing--no, not
for the king himself should he ask it."

Patricia's hopes went down with a flop! Was she being told that she
could not study? Had the end come so swiftly? She had a hard time not
to cry out with the pain of this horrible fear, and the kind eyes of the
experienced Tancredi caught her despairing look.

"Ah, no. It is not that you shall not sing at all," she said hurriedly.
"It is only that you shall sing the exercises only as yet. We must walk
ere we may run. Come, let us see about the breathing now," and she stood
erect and vigorous, motioning Patricia to face her and follow her every
movement.

Patricia came out from that interview so bewildered yet so happy that
she forgot completely about questioning the teacher as to Rosamond
Merton. Elinor, who was waiting for her in the anteroom, saw her shining
face before she spoke, and knew that all had gone well with her.

"Dear Miss Pat," she said softly, slipping her arm into Patricia's as
they went out of the wide front door. "So it has all come out well, and
you are really going to be a singer some day! How glad I am that you
have passed this first test."

Patricia was still slightly puzzled, though more confident than she had
been before Tancredi had begun her instructions.

"I've had a mighty lucky day, Norn," she said with real thankfulness.
"I've been put down on the books as a regular pupil at Tancredi's,
and--oh, I forgot all about it--I've had a sort of a chance to go into
Artemis Lodge, though of course I couldn't take it."

Elinor agreed with her after hearing the incident. "Though it is
certainly very sweet of her to be so generous," she said thoughtfully.
"Rosamond Merton, you say her name is. We'll have to ask Doris Leighton
about her."

But, as it happened, they did not have time to put any questions to
Doris Leighton. Rosamond Merton was not the sort of girl who cares to
postpone interesting events. Miss Pat had piqued her fancy and she took
a very determined course to gain her point.

Bruce handed Elinor a note when they reached the studio.

"Messenger boy brought it ten minutes ago," he explained. "Said it was
urgent, but as I didn't know where to find you, I had to leave it till
you came in."



CHAPTER V

ROSAMOND INSISTS


"What is it, Norn?" asked Patricia rather anxiously.

She eyed the note with an unspoken fear that it might be a message from
her new instructor canceling her enrolment, though Elinor's face did not
show any consternation as she swiftly ran her eye over the brief sheet.

"Of all things!" she murmured with an amused smile, and then read more
carefully, breaking into a ripple of laughter as she finished.

"You certainly have charmed this Rosamond Merton, Miss Pat," she said
with a fond look at the amazed Patricia. "Listen to this."

Patricia's look of amazement grew as Elinor read. Rosamond Merton
invited them to tea with her in her rooms that afternoon, very prettily
insisting that the small sister whose name she thought was Julia, might
make one of the party, since it was to be merely a cosy cup of tea to
better acquaintance.

"I must say she writes very agreeably," commented Elinor, scanning the
lines critically.

"That's just what she is--agreeable," declared Patricia, nodding at the
word. "She seems as though she would never take the trouble to be cross
with anyone. And she's very pretty."

"That settles it," laughed Elinor. "No matter what must be set aside for
it, I see that we must take tea with Rosamond Merton. We must look her
over, Judy, and see if we can let our Miss Pat fall in love with her, as
I perceive she is on the brink of doing."

Judith's anxious look made Patricia laugh. "Don't be afraid I'll make a
silly of myself like I did over Miss Warner and Doris Leighton," she
said lightly. "I'm done with that sort of thing ages and ages ago."

Elinor was deeply interested in this new adventure, and after a late
luncheon and a hasty half hour of breathing practice for Patricia, they
got into their afternoon clothes and went to Artemis Lodge again.

"How familiar it looks today," said Patricia as they rang the shining
brass bell. "Isn't it queer how soon you get used to places? I feel
quite like an old inmate already."

"That's always the way with me, too," agreed Judith. "I felt as though
I'd always lived on that corner near the Dam, just because we spent an
half hour there on each of those two mornings we were in Amsterdam."

The opening of the door put an end to their chat and they followed the
respectable woman through the courtyard again, feeling quite at home
with its quaint quadrangle.

They did not wind their way through any intricate passages, however, for
Rosamond Merton's rooms were near the main entrance at the head of a
little flight of winding stairs, very easy of access from the courtyard
and quite remote from the various offices and salons.

She opened the door immediately on their knock, and there was such a
pretty warmth of welcome in her tranquil manner that Elinor was won at
once, though Judith, who prided herself on her discrimination, did not
completely thaw out until the visit was nearly over.

The rooms, three in number, were furnished with a simple elegance that
appealed strongly to them all, and the undemonstrative manner with which
Rosamond Merton pursued her purpose gave her persistence a charm that
robbed it of all crudity.

"You see, Mrs. Hayden," she said, after tea had been served and they
were chatting comfortably before a small fire in the pleasant sitting
room, "I am really quite selfish in wishing your sister to come with me
for a while--as long as she will, in fact. I am very much alone here,
being the only Tancredi pupil in the house, and I have more room than I
need. I can't possibly use more than two of this suite, one for my
bedroom and the other for a sitting-room. So the small room there is
practically going to waste."

"Do you have to keep it?" asked Elinor, "I should think Miss Ardsley
would be glad to have it----"

"But it belongs with this suite," urged Rosamond quietly. "It has no
door except into these other rooms."

This was so evident a reason for her being burdened with an unnecessary
room that Elinor fell silent for a little space while the others moved
to the other side of the room to look over some fine photographs of the
old French chateaux. Presently her face cleared and she went over to the
table where they were busy with the views.

"Why wouldn't you consent to Patricia having the little room until there
is a vacancy?" she inquired with a tinge of hesitation. "She could pay
you the rent----"

Rosamond Merton broke in with such a decided negation that Patricia gave
up hope, but Elinor persisted gently.

"Really, you know, Miss Pat couldn't possibly come under any other
conditions," she said with sweet finality. "We are very anxious for her
to be here, of course, since Madame Milano urged it; but if you feel
that you can't have her under such circumstances, there's nothing for
it but to wait till someone leaves and she can get a room from Miss
Ardsley."

Rosamond Merton was silent for a long minute, and then she suddenly
smiled her slow smile.

"Since you speak so very positively," she said with a graceful gesture
of resignation, "there is nothing more for me to do than to give in. I
will rent the room----"

"At the rate which they charge you," Elinor gently insisted.

"At the regular Artemis Lodge rates," agreed Rosamond Merton with a
little helpless laugh. "She shall have it entirely to herself as long as
she wants it, and I promise never to intrude unless I'm asked."

This considerate speech so moved Patricia that she burst out with a
grateful offer to obliterate herself part of the time so that her
generous hostess might not feel the loss of the room; but a nudge from
Judith's rather angular elbow curtailed her gratitude, and she allowed
Elinor to voice her thanks, while she tried to catch Judith's eye and
understand the meaning of the prod. Judith turned to the photographs
again and was not to be understood so quickly.

It was decided that the furniture should remain in the little room,
Patricia merely adding her own desk, and that she should retain it until
another room might be secured from Miss Ardsley. Patricia was to move in
the next day and, most alluring of all, Rosamond Merton told her that
she should have regular hours of use of the fine grand piano which stood
in the sitting-room, thereby taking a great load off Patricia's excited
mind.

"I've been wondering how I was to get a piano in that little scrap of a
place," she confessed, "and I didn't see how it could be done, unless I
slept on it at nights and practiced by day. A bed and a piano both
simply couldn't be crammed in."

They parted in great good humor and Patricia felt that she was treading
on air as she went down the winding stair to the courtyard.

"This certainly is my lucky day," she said exultantly, as the gate
closed behind them. "Here I am, a pupil of Tancredi and a member of the
illustrious band of inmates of Artemis Lodge--all at one fell swoop.
Elinor, you've made me tremendously happy by sticking to the point like
you did. I'd never have got the room if it hadn't been for your hanging
on so."

"I tell you what it is, Miss Pat," said Judith with sudden decision in
her tone. "You need somebody to take care of you. If Elinor hadn't
insisted on paying, you'd have lost that room, and if I hadn't stopped
you after you did get it, you'd have thrown away most of the good of it
by making yourself a perfect door-mat."

Patricia gazed with astonishment at this amazing young sister of hers.
"A door-mat?" she repeated blankly. "A door mat?"

"For Miss Merton to walk in upon as often as she liked," retorted Judith
with calm finality. "She's a very encroaching sort of person, Miss Pat.
I can see that. And you want to be sure you are going to be real friends
with her before you let her get too chummy with you."

Patricia burst into a merry peal and even Elinor rippled with amusement
at this way of looking at the matter.

"'Chummy' isn't exactly the word that fits Miss Merton, Ju," she said
gayly. "It sounds suspiciously like unimposing me, rather than the
elegant young lady of the three-room apartment. The only thing I'm
afraid of is that she'll get tired of her bargain before the week is
out. I may be an awful nuisance with my scales and strummings."

Then Judith was scandalized in earnest. The idea of anyone finding Miss
Pat a nuisance was beyond her powers of thought, and she could not even
find words to express her scorn of such an impossible state of things.

Patricia rippled again at the sniff of disgust which Judith made so
prodigious. "Never mind, Judy-pudy, you shall come and look me over
every once in a while and see that I am being well treated. Miss Merton
may be a perfect monster, after all."

Judith was not to be won to speech by any such bald nonsense, and
stalked homeward in thoughtful silence, hardly seeming to hear the gay
chat of the other two in regard to what Miss Pat should or should not
take with her to Artemis Lodge.

At the door of their own apartment Patricia stood quite still with a
rather blank expression.

"We forgot all about asking Doris Leighton," she said. "How perfectly
stupid of us."

Elinor had her key in the door and she flung it open on an unlighted
interior as she spoke.

"Very stupid indeed, my dear," she admitted cheerfully, "but it's too
late to remedy it now. Besides, I don't see how you'd have got a room in
Artemis Lodge in any other way."

"And that was the most important thing, after all," agreed Patricia,
stumbling over a stool in the dimness. "Mercy! What's that?"

The small figure which rose at their approach gave a familiar chuckling
laugh and before it could speak, Judith exclaimed, "Marty Sneath, all by
herself, too!"

And Marty Sneath it proved to be, ahead of her schedule by nearly
twenty-four hours and very much pleased with the chance to be installed
in her new quarters that much sooner than had been planned.

After the lights were turned on and they had all commented encouragingly
on the improvement in Marty's dress and appearance, she gave them an
enlivening account of all that had happened in the village since their
departure, particularly dwelling on the changes in the modest home of
the Sneath family since Danny's removal to the far-away school where Mr.
Long had sent him.

"I tell you it ain't like it used to be," she said with a shake of her
elfish head and a twinkle in her brilliant eyes. "Clara's got real well
and Pop's swore off, and there ain't no lively times like there used to
be. Of course," she prophesied cheerfully, "Pop'll fall off in about a
week--he ain't one to stick to water long, you know. Then I bet there'll
be some scrimmages. He's dead set on Clara goin' for service and she
wants to be a typewriter. And they're both awful set. But it won't be
nothin' without Danny. It's awful flat at home now."

It was rather hard to sympathize with this peculiar point of view, so
they kept to the safer side by asking about Danny, whether he liked the
school, how he was getting on, and what Mr. Long said about him now.

Marty's reports were very satisfactory. Danny was doing finely and Mr.
Long was delighted with his experiment. "He's as braggity about him as
if he'd made our Danny up out of his head," she said with a tinge of
ruffled family pride. "He better look out, though, 'fore he crows too
loud. Our Danny is mighty cute and maybe he's only fooling them
teachers. He ain't no lamb, you know," she ended with an earnestness
that made Patricia uncomfortable for her former favorite.

"He's never had half a chance to want to be good," defended Patricia
warmly. "I've always believed he was better than he behaved."

This seemed to be too deep for Marty, and she turned the subject by
producing a letter from the pocket of her neat blue dress.

"Mrs. Spicer sent this," she said, handing it to Patricia. "She gave me
a whole dollar, too, to spend just as I liked. My, but I felt grand
comin' down on that train with a whole dollar in my purse. I kept holt
on it all the way. I've read about pickpockets, and I ain't forgot
Danny's ways this soon, neither."

Patricia could not deny that Danny must have been a liberal education in
that sort of sleight of hand, but the letter saved her the painful
confession. While Elinor took Marty to her room and Judith explained the
uses of the various conveniences, push buttons and the like, Patricia
devoured the scribbled note.

"Oh, Norn, listen to this," she cried, following the others into
Elinor's room. "Mrs. Nat met a house-party who were going down to Mr.
Long's on the train last night and she was telling them about taking tea
at Artemis Lodge, and Miss Chapin, the senator's daughter Mr. Long is so
devoted to, told her she had a cousin there, who was studying with
Tancredi, and she hoped we'd meet and be friends. Her name--think of
it--her name is Rosamond Merton!"

Elinor looked pleased. "It doesn't really enlighten us much as to her,"
she said. "But it's rather nice to locate her even in that remote way."

Judith tossed her pale mane in quite her old superior manner. "How
childish you are, Elinor," she commented. "Cousins aren't much alike.
Miss Warner wasn't a scrap like Mr. Bingham. Patricia will have to find
out everything for herself--everything that Doris Leighton can't tell
her."

"Pooh, I shan't bother Doris now," said Patricia easily. "I'm in for a
while at least, and it would seem like spying to ask questions. I'm too
thankful to be in Artemis Lodge to be so awfully finicky."

Judith tossed her head again.

"Oh, well, you never are very sensible, Miss Pat," she returned loftily.
"You never see beyond a pretty face. It takes others to watch over you."

The ripples which greeted this somber speech did not seem to be wholly
distasteful to her, though she hid her exact state of mind by taking
Marty off to exhibit the studio to her and to explain the mysteries of
oil cups and brush pots.

Patricia looked lovingly after her. "Judy's up to some of her old
tricks, Norn," she hazarded. "I shouldn't be surprised if she set up a
regular detective agency around my new friend and made a whole set of
new thrilling tales about her."



CHAPTER VI

PATRICIA MAKES ANOTHER FRIEND


"Isn't it really lovely and cozy?"

Patricia was seated on the side of her narrow bed and Elinor occupied
the one easy chair by the casement window.

The little room had been transformed into a perfect bower by Elinor's
good taste and Patricia's eager fingers. The small iron bed was hidden
by a canopy of frilly lace and a coverlet of transparent, delicate mull
with an underslip of blue. The dresser, improvised from a chiffonier,
had a quaint mirror from Bruce's studio, with two silver candlesticks,
to serve Patricia for all purposes of dressing. A small reliable table
held a golden-shaded brass student lamp, a gift from Elinor, who knew
how Miss Pat disliked the white, cold light of the electric bulbs. Some
magazines, a tiny bookshelf, and a dainty tea-tray peeping from the
under shelf of the reliable table, gave an air of great coziness to the
whole.

Elinor looked about with much satisfaction. "Yes, it's dear," she
admitted. "I don't think Miss Merton will be disappointed in her new
room-mate when she sees this. It's a pity she isn't here to see it when
it's absolutely crisp."

"It seems queer that she should have gone out to Rockham with her cousin
to stay at Red Top, doesn't it?" said Patricia. "It's awfully nice,
though, for we shall have so much more to talk about now. I felt rather
stupid with her at first, when I met her at Madame's last week. She
seemed so grown-up that I hardly knew how to get along with her--much
less live in the same rooms with her."

"You didn't show any shyness that I could discover," smiled Elinor. "I'm
sure you'll get on famously with her now that you're installed. I wish I
didn't have to go," she added, rising reluctantly. "But I promised Bruce
to go to the Salimagundi show with him and he'll be waiting for me if I
don't fly."

Patricia went as far as the green entrance door with her and kissed her
warmly.

"I begin to feel like a pilgrim and a stranger," she laughed. "To be in
town and not be with you and Bruce seems too queer for words."

"You'll have splendid times as soon as you get acquainted," said Elinor
brightly. "I envy you the fun you're going to have among all these
attractive girls. Good-bye once again. Bring Doris over to supper with
you on Sunday if she is back by then. Be sure to take good care of
yourself and have a good time."

Patricia watched her till she turned the corner, and then she closed the
door and went slowly across the wide paved courtyard and up the little
private stair, smiling to herself.

As she closed the door of the sitting-room behind her, she could not
resist a prance of joy. "I'm here!" she told herself rapturously. "Oh,
how glorious it is to have really started in earnest!"

She practiced her breathing exercises and tried a few three-note vocal
exercises, and was delighted that her voice seemed clearer than it had
ever sounded to her.

"It must be because I am so happy," she told herself. "I wish I had a
lesson this afternoon. I hate to wait till the morning."

After she had sung as long as she dared, she practiced some
accompaniments till her fingers tired, and then she took up a magazine
and read a couple of stories, becoming so absorbed in the last one that
she hardly heard a clock below striking loudly, though some sense of its
strident tones made her start from her chair in dismay lest she should
have missed the tea-hour.

"How stupid of me--" she began, glancing at her plain little
wrist-watch. Her face fell as she looked unbelievingly at the hands
pointing to three o'clock.

"It must be run down," she said, frowning and holding the watch to her
ear. "No, it's going. It must be slow."

A glance at the big clock in the tower opposite her bedroom window
convinced her that her watch was to be taken seriously. There was nearly
an hour and a half before she might venture down into the tea-room and
make such acquaintances as she could without the aid of Doris Leighton
or Rosamond Merton.

"I wish I hadn't been so particular about that mending," she thought
ruefully. "It was a shameful waste of time to do it at the studio. I was
so particular to have everything done up to the last notch that there
isn't a single letter to write, or button to sew on, or--or--anything. I
simply can't sit down like a tame tabby this first exciting afternoon,
when all sorts of wonderful things may be going to happen to me after
while."

She sighed over the prospect of being bottled up for such an
interminable period and regretted that Milano's orders were so strict in
regard to her intercourse with her family.

"It's a perfect shame that I can't go home every day," she thought
suddenly, rather pitying herself for the privations she was suffering.
"I am going to miss them terribly and I shouldn't wonder if I'd get
rather hard-hearted and self-centered, living this way just for myself."

She never thought of seeking Miss Ardsley, although that lady had given
her the most cordial invitation to visit her in her own rooms any time
that she wished, particularly insisting on her bringing Mrs. Bruce
Hayden in to call at any time she might be in the building. Somehow, the
atmosphere of Miss Ardsley's luxuriant rooms had rather stifled Patricia
on her one admission to them when she went with Elinor and Rosamond
Merton to make the necessary arrangements for procuring the little room.

"If Doris Leighton hadn't gone off for a week just as we got that first
glimpse of her," she mourned, fussing about the trifles on the dainty
dresser. "Or if I only knew someone to say a word to. It seems like a
week since I heard a human voice. I'd go out and take a walk if----"

Rap-a-tap! Someone was using the diminutive knocker on the sitting-room
door.

Patricia flew to open it, and a dark, medium-sized girl in a shabby
bronze velveteen frock stood on the threshold, looking very much
surprised indeed.

"Is Miss Merton in?" she asked, looking beyond Patricia into the vacant
rooms.

Patricia was sorry to have to confess that Miss Merton was away for the
rest of the week. She hoped the girl might come in notwithstanding, but
she turned to go without much ceremony and was half-way across the hall
when she suddenly paused and came back to where Patricia lingered on the
the sill.

"Are you the new girl?" she asked with surprising directness. "Pupil of
Tancredi?"

Patricia answered eagerly that she was very new and that she had taken
two lessons from the noted teacher.

The other girl turned and walked into the room, selecting an easy chair
and seating herself with every appearance of meaning to stay.

Patricia was delighted.

"I'm so glad you came," she said with great cordiality, seating herself
near the other and beaming on her. "I haven't seen a soul since one
o'clock and I was beginning to petrify."

"First day?" inquired the girl laconically.

On Patricia admitting it was not only her first day, but first
afternoon, having parted from her sister only after a light and early
lunch in her own room, the newcomer nodded.

"H--h'm. It gets you, doesn't it? The first time you're stranded on a
lonely shore certainly makes home look good," she said thoughtfully.
"Funny thing is, that no matter how dressy the shore happens to be," she
threw a glance about the luxuriant room, "it's just as lonely--the first
time. Ever been away from home before?"

Patricia explained that she had never had a real home till nearly two
years ago, but that she had never been entirely separated from both her
sisters and friends until now.

"Plenty of nice girls here," the girl acknowledged. "But you have to
pick out your own sort for yourself. Have you known Merton long?"

Patricia recognized the art student in the use of the last name, and she
said eagerly, "I hardly know her at all. You aren't studying with
Tancredi, are you?"

As she expected, the girl laughed a quick negative. "Not me," she
returned, ungrammatical and emphatic. "I can't croak a note and my
fingers never would make melody if I tried till I were a hundred. I'm
doing the other side--paint and the like."

"I knew it!" cried Patricia, much pleased by her own perception. "I was
sure I smelled paint when you came in. Have you a studio, or are you
studying at one of the schools?"

"Both," answered the other, briskly. "I have a sort of studio across the
hall here, and I am going to night life at the only school in New York.
How did you recognize the hall-marks? I thought you were vocal and
Tancredi?"

Patricia told her that she had spent some months at the Academy in
another city, and that both her sister and brother-in-law were artists,
and though she had just started in as a music student, she was much more
familiar with the fraternity than with the song birds.

"I see," said the girl. "You must be worth while, even though you are
located in these fluffy apartments with the ultra Merton. I think I
shall become better acquainted. What's your name?"

Patricia was much diverted by this direct address. "I am Patricia
Kendall," she returned with equal candor. "I like your looks, too, and
I'm quite willing to be as chummy as you like."

"H--h'm," said the girl again. "Don't bank on me. Merton isn't in my
class, and if you're her chum, I'll have to decline anything more than
mere acquaintance."

Patricia began a hasty explanation of her presence in the luxurious
rooms, but the girl waved her words aside with abrupt good humor. "You
may not know her well," she insisted, smiling a pleasant wide smile.
"But you simply must be some sort of a bob or she wouldn't take to you.
Merton is not a wasteful child."

Patricia understood that the girl was entirely in earnest, and the idea
that she was committed to an exclusive and perhaps unpopular set among
the democracy of talent at Artemis Lodge rather chilled her.

"You are a friend of hers yourself," she accused with a trace of
indignation. "You wouldn't be coming in here to see her if you
weren't."

"Oh, am I, indeed?" grinned the girl. "Don't jump at conclusions at that
reckless rate, Miss Patricia Kendall. I'm merely connected with the
ultra Merton by means of a piece of canvas and some paint tubes. In
other words, I'm at work on a panel of peacocks and goldy sunbeams for
her music room at home, and am only tolerated because I can draw little
birdies with pretty eyes in their tails better than anyone who happens
to be here now."

Patricia forgot Miss Merton in her sudden interest. "Oh, are you doing
some panels for her?" she asked, leaning forward with shining eyes. "You
must be awfully clever. Will you let me see them? I want to tell Bruce
all about them, if I may."

Her interest seemed to please the girl. She rose abruptly and held out
her hand. "Shake on good fellowship," she said heartily, and Patricia
accepted the queer invitation with great good will.

"Come along over," invited the girl, jerking her head toward the
opposite side of the hall. "Everything's in a mess, but you won't mind.
You'll have to put up with that sort of things if we're to be friends."

"Indeed, I'll love it!" said Patricia enthusiastically. It was very good
to be taken into fellowship so informally. "Bruce and Elinor mess up
their studios terribly and I used to trail clay all over the place when
I had the modeling mania."

The girl threw open the door of a large bare, well-lighted room, that
somehow managed, in spite of rather poor furniture and much disorder, to
look attractive and inviting; and Patricia saw on a huge easel a tall
canvas with beautiful, gorgeous peacocks strutting proudly against a
background of ruddy gold.

"How stunning!" she cried with such conviction that the girl smiled and
then grew serious. "How wonderful! How can you do it, when you're so
young? Where did you learn to make such lovely things?"

"My father was an artist and he taught me when I was a little tad,"
replied the girl in a subdued tone which made the sympathetic
Patricia's heart warm toward her.

"Was he--" began Patricia, hesitating.

"He was Henry Fellows. He died three years ago," said the girl quietly,
and as though closing the subject, she added, "My name is Constance. I
am nearly twenty years old, though I look younger." And then in a
changed tone she added, "Tell me who this Bruce and Elinor are. I ought
to know them if they aren't the rankest newcomers."

Patricia was gratified at the expression which Bruce's name brought to
the clear hazel eyes.

"You're a fortunate piece," commented Constance Fellows, with a
familiarity which was not too intimate. "Tancredi and Bruce Hayden and a
real family of your own--not to mention being a chum of Rosamond
Merton."

Patricia thought she caught a flavor of sarcasm in the last name, but
instantly decided that it was her own suspicious nature that suggested
the thought. She was beginning to like Constance Fellows in a sincere
and unaffected way that could not be compared with the ardent admiration
she had felt for Miss Merton, and, as she always attributed the best
motives to those she liked, she felt quite ashamed of her ungenerous
thought.

The hall clock sounded again, this time heard clearly through the open
door, and Patricia was astonished to find that the tea-hour had arrived
without her knowing it.

"Am I all right to go down just as I am?" she inquired rather anxiously
of her new friend. "Ought I put on a hat or something?"

"Put on anything you please. Take a parasol or a pair of galoshes if you
feel that your system craves them," replied Constance calmly. "I am going
just as I am. We girls who are in the house usually are glad to sneak in
without prinking."

Patricia giggled. "Lead me down," she commanded briskly. "I'm perfectly
crazy to see what's what and who's who. I was going to find out all
about the various girls from Doris Leighton, but I'm sure you'll do very
well in her place."

"I call that a real compliment," declared Constance with evident
sincerity. "Leighton is the squarest damsel in the whole troupe and she
isn't spoiled by her beauty either."

They found the tea-room filled as on the other day, and Patricia, thanks
to Constance Fellows' kindness, found herself one of a gay group near
the piano, as much at home among the chattering girls as though she had
known them for weeks.

"I tell you what it is, Avis Coulter," Constance was saying to a very
plain, angular girl with large spectacles when the tea was almost over,
"we've got to show this budding genius a little friendly attention, or
she'll get homesick and mopey before the resplendent Merton returns to
coddle her. What are you going to do to liven her dragging days?"

The spectacled girl rubbed her nose thoughtfully. "I've tickets for a
concert at Carnegie Hall tomorrow afternoon," she hazarded doubtfully.

"And I have a perfectly good studio party at my cousin Emily's," said
another girl.

"And I'm going to have a spread in my room tomorrow night," volunteered
a third member of the party.

Constance Fellows nodded approval. "That sounds very well to me," she
said. "I accept for Miss P. Kendall and myself. Who's to bring the
chaperone for these festivities?"

Avis Coulter, on the score of the concert being in the afternoon,
declared that it was all stuff to think of such a thing, while Marie
Jones said that her cousin Emily was chaperone enough for an army of
buds, and Ethel Walters sniffed at the idea of a chaperone for a spread
in one's very own room, under the roof with Miss Ardsley and the
dependable Miss Tatten, the house-keeper, whom Patricia had not yet
seen.

Constance would have none of their reasoning, however, and insisted that
one of the older students at Artemis Lodge be in charge of all the
festivities shown Patricia in the interval of Miss Merton's absence.

"I am responsible for her," she said firmly, "and I am not going to
present her to Merton with the slightest social blot upon her dazzling
whiteness. Chaperoned she must and shall be, or she doesn't budge a
step."

Patricia was very much amused and surprised to see that Constance had
her way. Instead of rebelling, as she had expected, the girls gave in at
once, showing as much meekness in fulfilling the wishes of this decided
young person as though it were she and not they that was granting the
favors.

Patricia went back to her room cheered and exhilarated, and found the
brief time before the dinner hour all too short for the necessary amount
of practicing she had portioned off for herself.

Dinner in the gay little restaurant with its decorated walls and
sociable small tables was a far more enjoyable affair than she had
thought it could be when she had looked forward to it in her lonely
interval, and after another half hour of chat by the fire-side in the
library she went to her room highly delighted with her first day at
Artemis Lodge.

Stopping at the public telephone in the hall--she decided not to use the
one in Miss Merton's sitting-room until the owner was at home
again--she called up Elinor and gave her a brief report.

"I'm having a perfectly lovely time," she told her. "And as Doris isn't
coming back till next week, I am going to bring someone who has been
very nice to me home to supper on Sunday, in her place. I know you'll
like her, and," here she laughed a little, "tell Judy she isn't at all
pretty."



CHAPTER VII

A DINNER FOR TWO


Rosamond Merton came home unexpectedly to find Patricia grown very much
at home indeed during the four days of her absence.

She opened the door of the sitting-room, after a light tap of the tiny
brass knocker, to find Patricia rising from the piano-stool with pleased
expectation in her face, an expression which rapidly became one of
joyful surprise. Rosamond was so much prettier than Patricia had been
picturing her that she fairly beamed as she came to greet her.

"How lovely of you to come back so soon," she said with such warmth that
Rosamond Merton felt glad that she had been compelled to cut her visit
short.

"It's lovely to be welcomed home," she returned, beginning to pull off
her gloves. "I always dreaded the empty rooms after I had been away.
Have you been quite comfortable? I left so hurriedly that I hadn't time
to arrange for your arrival."

Patricia assured her that she was absolutely in clover, and she showed
her the little bedroom as a proof, exhibiting the easy chair, the cosy
table and all her other small comforts with a great deal of pride.

Rosamond was genuinely interested in all the contrivances which had been
installed for Patricia's well-being and she showed so much of what
Patricia called "human" feeling that she won the last citadel in that
young lady's affections.

"Do you know I was dreadfully afraid of you that day at Tancredi's?" she
confessed when they were once more in the sitting-room by the fire.

Rosamond had laid aside her traveling dress and slipped on a soft
fur-trimmed crepe lounging robe with her feet in embroidered satin
mules, and the impressionable Patricia was feasting her eyes on her. She
was used to beauty--and beauty of a much higher class--in her own sister
Elinor, and every day her mirror reflected quite as attractive features
as those of her new companion, but the extreme luxury with which
Rosamond indulged her fancy in the matter of clothing was a revelation
to her.

She looked at the shimmering cloudy-blue folds of the robe, at the soft
dark edges of fur with their under-ruffles of pink chiffon, at the lace
and ribbons of the petticoat which showed where the robe fell away, and
she forgot they were merely outer trappings, to be bought from any
department store or private shop. They seemed part of a superior charm
belonging exclusively to Rosamond Merton, and Patricia sighed as she saw
in the mirror over the mantel-shelf the image of a fluffy-haired girl in
an unpretentious blouse.

"I wonder that she can put up with me," she thought ruefully, smoothing
down the folds of her simple corduroy skirt. "She must be very
kind-hearted indeed. I wish that I might do something to show how I feel
about it."

As Rosamond chatted on, telling of her visit to Red Top and describing
the house party with a good deal of cleverness, Patricia became so
interested that she forgot her grateful intentions in listening to the
gossip which her new friend retailed so sparklingly. She laughed over
the description of the model poultry farm and chaffed Rosamond quite
freely on her lack of technical terms; she smiled a little uneasily over
the dinner party at the rectory, feeling a bit guilty that she should
find matter for mirth in the precise and dainty entertainment offered
impartially by the gentle rector and his ladylike maiden sisters; and
she was frankly disturbed by the careless fashion of treating the attack
of measles which had disbanded the house party a week earlier than
planned.

"Of course, you weren't in any danger," she said, more to herself than
to Rosamond. "Measles aren't much to be afraid of, anyway, unless one is
a perfect Methuselah. I think it was hard on Mr. Long to have his nice
party broken up after all his planning, just because a lot of grown-ups
got scared about _measles_. If I were the girl he's in love with, I'd
stayed and helped nurse Danny, instead of running away from the place."

Rosamond laughed her indolent laugh. "And been quarantined for three
weeks out there in the desolate country," she mocked. "My cousin isn't
that heroic sort, even if she were devoted to a man. She doesn't care
two pins for your Mr. Long, and I fancy he knows it by this time."

"Not care for him?" cried Patricia in amazement. "Why in the world did
she and her mother come to see him then? I thought they were engaged."

Rosamond shook her head slowly and emphatically. "Not at all," she said
calmly. "She thought she might like him well enough last fall, but he
has developed such queer tastes recently--burying himself on that
ridiculous chicken-farm and taking up with stupid little boys who
develop measles when they run away from school to visit their
benefactor, that she really has had quite enough of him without marrying
him."

Patricia was silent, puckering her brows over the problem of unrewarded
virtue, while Rosamond Merton watched her with something like a twinkle
in her long eyes.

"It seems pretty hard that Mr. Long has to lose his happiness just
because he's done right and been kind," she said finally, with a little
sigh at the topsy-turvy ways of this wilful world. "He's saving Danny
Sneath from growing up a horrid worthless man like his father--that's
plain from Danny coming back on the sly to see him--and he's doing
splendidly with Red Top, and yet he doesn't get what he wants."

"He shouldn't want what he can't get then," smiled Rosamond, indulgent
as far as Patricia was concerned. "Don't worry your pretty head about
such stupid things--men always get over disappointments like that. He'll
probably be in love with the next girl who happens to look at him twice.
Tell me how you've been putting in the time since I ran off so
unceremoniously. Have you been fearfully homesick?"

Patricia abandoned Mr. Long and his deserts reluctantly. "He ought to be
happy and I am sure he will," she insisted warmly. "People always get
paid back in the same coin they use." A sudden memory of her own debt
made her add, more shyly, "You ought to believe in that--after all the
kindness you've shown me. And I do want you to know that I'm going to
pay you back just a tiny bit some day. I don't know how, but I'm going
to do it."

Rosamond's slow smile answered her fully, and she plunged into an eager
account of the way in which she had been taken into the inner circles of
Artemis Lodge and made to feel so entirely at home. "They've been
wonderfully nice to me," she said gayly. "I've had a splendid time each
day, and my lessons have gone beautifully, too. I haven't had a single
dull moment. I'm so grateful to you for taking me in."

The little cloud which had slightly dimmed Rosamond's smile faded at
these words and left her face serene. "We will have better times yet,"
she promised as she rose to glance at the clock in the tower across the
housetops. "Let's begin by having dinner upstairs here by ourselves.
I'll phone down to the office at once. Isn't it stupid to have to call
up Tatten every time one wants a tray in one's room? They take great
care of us here," and she shrugged her shoulders gracefully.

Patricia feared that the expense of such select dining might be too much
for her small store of funds and she was determined not to sail under
false colors with this luxuriant companion.

"It would be jolly enough, but how about the cost?" she asked frankly.
"I can't stand many extras, you know. I'm rather poor as far as cash is
concerned."

Miss Merton paused with her hand on the receiver. "You surely didn't
think I was intending you to pay for my treat," she said in such a
gently grieved tone that Patricia became most uncomfortable.

"It's sweet of you to ask me," she said with a good deal of courage.
"And I can't be horrid enough to refuse this first time, but I do want
you to understand that I can't spend money like you do. I'm not really
stingy, as you may think--I'm only trying to be careful. I'm so afraid
of being selfish."

Her speech was rather unintelligible to Rosamond, who could not know of
Bruce's compact with Patricia, but she smiled pleasantly and took down
the receiver.

"I don't think you could be stingy or selfish or anything that wasn't
sweet," she said and then proceeded to announce to Miss Tatten that Miss
Kendall and she were dining in their own rooms that evening, and would
she please see that dinner was sent up promptly at six-thirty, adding a
list of dishes that seemed to the anxious Patricia recklessly expensive.

The dinner was great fun, however, and Patricia felt very pleasantly
luxurious as she slipped into her new kimono, a poor affair indeed
compared to the fur and crepe robe, and lounged before the fire
listening to Rosamond's accounts of the travels and studies which had
filled her life.

"You must have been almost everywhere," she murmured admiringly. "You
have seen such a lot--for a girl. I'm only two years younger, but I've
never been to Niagara Falls, nor Hot Springs, nor the Tower of
London----"

A ripple of laughter broke in on her confession. "What a delicious
jumble!" cried Rosamond, springing up to adjust a lock that had fallen.
"One can't tell which is the place of confinement and which the
playground. For Heaven's sake, though, don't _complain_ that you've
never seen Niagara Falls, no self-respecting person nowadays is willing
to confess that such a place even exists. It went out of date with the
bridal bonnet and the what-not."

Patricia laughed, but this troubled her, and later on she recurred to it
while they were beginning on their salad.

"Why shouldn't one see all the wonderful places and things in the
world?" she asked. "I should think Niagara Falls was quite as important
as those snippy little falls at that camp in the Adirondacks that you
said were so much admired."

Rosamond laid down her fork and looked at her very carefully. "Are you
actually in earnest?" she inquired with a polite repression of any hint
of a smile. "My dear Miss Patricia Kendall, you forget that the most
exclusive families have their camps near that snippy falls, while only
the cheap tourist makes the pilgrimage to Niagara."

Patricia was obstinate. "I don't see what that has to do with it. The
falls were there before the exclusive families were thought of, and
it's a wonderful, wonderful falls. It seems rather stupid to me to
ignore such a big thing in nature," she insisted with flushing cheeks.

Rosamond waved the argument away. "Never mind the falls, large or
small," she said, with unruffled amiability. "Tell me some more about
yourself and your doings."

Patricia was won instantly. She was to learn later on in her friendship
with Rosamond Merton that this was one of her readiest answers to
argument, particularly when she was not faring so well as she would
like. As yet, however, she had not learned the skilled defences which
Rosamond kept for her protection against better logic than her own, and
she responded with her usual impetuous generosity.

"I've told you almost everything," she said brightly. "I'd rather hear
about you. It's twice as exciting as my humdrum accounts of myself. Tell
me about your studio at home. Is it so gorgeous as the peacock panels
that Constance Fellows is doing for you?"

"It's hardly gorgeous, but it's rather good." Rosamond's interest was
plainly forced. "Constance is getting on with them, is she? I must see
them in the morning. How do you like her? I suppose you have heard that
she is very eccentric. She refused to live in a perfect palace with an
aunt of hers, merely because the aunt objected to her going to life
class. Fancy her giving up such a life for a mere trifle."

"She didn't feel that it was a trifle, I suppose," replied Patricia
lightly. She did not sympathize with Rosamond's view of the matter, but
she had learned in this short hour to steer her bark away from the
shoals.

"I think she showed very little judgment," said Rosamond, selecting a
bonbon with care. "She should have lived peaceably with her aunt and had
her own models in her own studio, and she'd have been comfortable and
the aunt would have been happy. There is always a way of doing as one
wishes if one will only take the trouble to look it up."

Patricia hid her uneasy feelings as best she could, but her face was
never hard to read, and Rosamond shook her head at her with the slow
smile curving her red lips.

"You think me a monster of deceit," she accused. "Your big eyes are
quite horrified at such shallow cunning. Don't worry, my dear Miss
Kendall. I'm not half so bad as you think me."

Patricia flushed. "I know you are far above any such mean doings," she
said stoutly, "but I wish you wouldn't talk that way. It makes me
feel--but I'm not going to be such a goose as to preach. Do go on about
the yachting trip. You were in the middle of it when dinner came in."

Rosamond, always graceful, responded readily enough, and the evening
sped rapidly. Patricia had enjoyed herself tremendously, as she very
truthfully told her hostess when she said good-night and shut herself
into her own snug little room, and she looked forward to the morrow with
Rosamond Merton with a thrill of pleasure.

She could not help wondering, though, as she shook out the kinks and
tangles of her bright hair, why she had not told about the Sunday
evening supper in the studio, nor the spread in Ethel Walters' room.

"I must be getting terribly secret and crafty," she thought with some
surprise. "I suppose that's the effect of being thrown with so many
strangers all at once."

She did not realize that it was Rosamond Merton's slow smile that had
held her confidences back and if anyone had told her so, she would have
denied it most emphatically.

Ethel Walters' spread had consisted of crackers and sardines, with
olives and oranges and walnut bars for side dishes. The studio supper,
though beautifully correct in most details, had Constance Fellows and a
very shabby yet delightfully entertaining friend of hers, as chief
guests. And how was anyone to know what Rosamond Merton might think of
such swift intimacies?



CHAPTER VIII

PATRICIA RECEIVES AN INVITATION


The next few weeks sped pleasantly for Patricia.

Rosamond Merton was an ideal room-mate. She never intruded on Patricia's
privacy, nor withdrew unsociably when Patricia felt inclined for chat.
She allowed Patricia to make her own hours for use of the fine piano in
her sitting-room and was patient under the many changes which the
despotic Tancredi inflicted on the submissive Patricia, shifting her own
practicing with such delicate tact that her fellow student scarcely
realized her sacrifices.

"She's perfectly wonderful, Norn," declared Patricia, standing at the
studio window one Sunday night about the middle of February. "She never
gets cross or fussed like I do, and she is always so beautifully
dressed. I am sometimes quite ashamed of my plain self when we are going
about together. I do look awfully little-girly and prim in most of my
clothes. I wish I were more ornamental," she ended with a tiny
apologetic frown.

Judith looked at Elinor and nodded. "I knew it," she said. "I knew Miss
Pat would be getting spoiled by spending all her time with such a showy
person."

Patricia laughed a short, annoyed laugh. "Nonsense, Judy. I'm not a bit
different. I only wish I didn't have to put all my patrimony into Madame
Tancredi's pocket. I hate to go about with Rosamond, looking like her
maid. I've worn that same suit to every place we've gone and I believe
people think I sleep in it now."

Elinor looked slightly troubled. "If you'd only let us get you a new
frock----" she began.

Patricia cut her short. "Hardly," she said emphatically. "I've told you
all along that I wouldn't sponge on any of you. It's bad enough to take
so much from dear old Ted. No, I'll go on exactly as I planned, and I
won't get a single new thing until spring."

This virtuous declaration did not seem to stimulate her as it should
have done, for she added, rather dolefully for her, "I wish I were like
Constance Fellows or Ethel Walters. They never seem to mind being
shabby."

"You can scarcely call yourself shabby--and I'm sure Constance loves
beautiful things," said Elinor with gentle firmness. "You couldn't look
at her work and not realize how she gloried in color and form."

Judith wagged her head wisely. "Perhaps she can stand doing without
pretty things for herself," she suggested, "because she can put so much
of it into her work."

This thoughtful sifting for motives was so like Judith that Patricia
forgot her grievances in an amused laugh. "Good for you, Judy-pudy," she
cried, flinging an arm about her small sister. "There's a hint for me,
is it? I'll try to take it, Miss Minerva, and if you hear that my
exercises are growing too frilly for Tancredi's taste you'll know the
reason why."

Judith was not at all discomposed by her light-minded raillery. "I
should think it would be a very good thing for you to try, Miss Pat,"
she said sedately. "Clothes go out of fashion so dreadfully soon
nowadays and the singing exercises will last most of your life."

Patricia watched her leave the room to arrange the materials for the
salad dressing--Bruce always made the dressing on Sunday nights--and she
smiled at Elinor in a very tender fashion.

"Judy is a wonder," she confessed. "She has a mind of her own. I wonder
why she's taken such an aversion to Rosamond lately? She never misses a
chance to undermine her. Not openly, you know, but in a quiet way. I've
noticed it ever since Doris Leighton came back and we had the spread
that evening in her room."

"Judith couldn't have gotten it from Doris," said Elinor positively. "I
heard all that Doris said about Miss Merton, and it was rather nice. I
think you must be over-sensitive, Miss Pat. Judith has been at the Lodge
several times since then and she may have been talking with someone who
is envious of your Rosamond. She isn't as popular as she might be, you
know."

"Of course, she isn't," exclaimed Patricia, on the defensive at once.
"She doesn't choose to hobnob with everyone, and so they say she's stuck
up, and ultra, and exclusive. If she were as much of a snob as they say,
she certainly wouldn't have chosen to take me in."

Judith had returned, carrying the salad in its green bowl. She held it
precisely between her slender, pale hands as she stood still to confute
this heresy.

"You know perfectly well, Miss Pat, that there isn't a prettier girl in
the musical set in Artemis Lodge," she declared with a touch of wrath in
her calm tones. "You are related to a famous artist, and you have Madame
Milano for a friend. Miss Merton wouldn't look at you, either, if you
didn't have nice clothes and good manners, besides being very well-born
indeed, as she certainly knows."

With this blast delivered, Judith set the salad-bowl carefully down on
the table and left the room, her head high and her mane tossing.

Patricia, instead of being amused this time, looked annoyed. "Judy's
getting spoiled, Elinor," she said, turning away to ramble idly about
the room. "She's as conceited a young imp as I know. These stories of
hers have about turned her head. I wish you'd tell her for me that she
must behave properly to Rosamond, or she'll have to stay away from the
Lodge. I won't have her putting on her superior airs and looking
mysterious over nothing with me."

Elinor sighed over this change in the sunny Patricia, but only said with
a regretful glance at the discontented droop of her sister's golden
head:

"Judith's fancies are sometimes short-lived, my dear. I shouldn't notice
this one if I were you." And then to make a diversion she asked how the
lessons were coming on.

Patricia brightened at once. "I believe I'm doing pretty well," she said
hopefully. "Madame hardly says a word to me now, but she nods her head
a good deal. And she's letting me take some new exercises already."

"That looks promising," began Elinor, pleased to have turned the current
toward happier channels. "That is the best news----"

Here the door opened and Bruce, who had been out, came in. "Hullo, all
alone?" he said, with some surprise. "I thought Constance Fellows was
coming tonight. What's up? She's not ill, is she? There's a lot of
grippe going about just now, I hear."

Elinor explained that so far as they knew Constance was not affected by
the impending epidemic. "Miss Pat forgot to ask her in time," she said.
"And so she made an engagement with one of the girls, that is all,
Bruce. Are you going to make the salad in here? Judith has it all ready
for you."

"Just as soon as I shed my skin," returned Bruce gayly, throwing his
great-coat on the divan, with his hat and gloves. "I tell you, it's fine
weather--this. The stars are snapping and the moon-crescent is like
silver. It makes one glad to be alive."

Patricia, with her disquiet mood still hovering about her, came over to
the table to watch him begin operations. She always liked to see Bruce
mix the dressing and make the salad, and tonight his strong cheerfulness
seemed particularly good to her.

"I'm sorry I forgot about Constance, Bruce," she said, as he uncorked
the oil bottle. "I had two concerts with Rosamond and the music was so
perfectly heavenly that I didn't get back to earth until it was too late
to get her for tonight. I'll bring her over next week."

"Right-o," said Bruce genially. "We're all strong for Constance, you
know. Besides being a paint slinger of promise, she's the straight
goods. See as much of her as you can, little sister, for she's the sort
that true friends are made of."

Patricia really liked Constance immensely and had it not been for the
overshadowing Rosamond, would have chosen her for the close intimacy for
which Constance had shown she was quite ready and willing. But she had a
feeling that in so praising Constance, Bruce was neglecting Rosamond,
and she said rather petulantly:

"I can't be always looking her up, Bruce. You know she's busy and out of
the house most of the time. It would be different if she were studying
with Tancredi like Rosamond."

Bruce opened his eyes at this unusual peevishness on Patricia's part,
but he went on mixing his ingredients without comment, while Elinor, who
had been bringing in the rest of the picnic supper, flitted about,
straightening the room preparatory to lighting the candles for the
feast.

As she picked up Bruce's overcoat from the divan, some letters fell out
of the pockets, scattering over the floor. She stooped to collect them,
and gave an exclamation of surprise.

"Bruce Hayden, when did these come?" she asked, sorting the letters
rapidly into little piles on the table at his elbow.

Bruce regarded the envelopes with undisguised astonishment, and then he
broke into a guilty grin.

"Oh, thunder, I must have forgotten them!" he cried. "How in creation
did you unearth them?"

Elinor explained, while Patricia eagerly seized on one addressed to her
in Bruce's care and began to tear it open.

"It's from Madame Milano!" she cried excitedly. "Oh, Elinor, she's
inviting me to her afternoon reception today, and it's hours and hours
too late."

Bruce looked crestfallen. "But is Milano in town?" he argued. "She isn't
singing till Tuesday night, you know----"

Patricia thrust the sheet before him. "See for yourself," she said. "It
says the seventeenth, doesn't it? Look, Elinor, what a big sprawling
hand she writes."

Bruce shook his head dolefully over the clearly written date. "It's
today, all right," he admitted ruefully. "You've lost a jolly fine
chance of seeing opera folk at home, thanks to my block-headedness."

Judith joined the group, and when she heard of Patricia's misfortune she
put a consoling arm about her sister. "Never mind, Miss Pat dear," she
said. "Perhaps when Madame Milano knows how bad you feel about missing
her reception she'll do something that's a lot nicer for you."

Bruce chuckled and his face cleared. "Wait a minute," he said hastily,
and disappeared into the other room.

"What in the world--" began Elinor and then she, too, smiled. "He's
telephoning to Madame Milano. Listen, Patricia."

Patricia heard with rising hopes the deep regret of Bruce's rich tones
as he explained to the prima donna the reason Patricia had not availed
herself of the gracious invitation. The pauses in which Bruce listened
must have been filled to his satisfaction, for after he had hung up the
receiver he came back into the studio rubbing his hands gleefully.

"Did you hear me put it to her?" he asked, grinning. "I got her hotel
and then her apartment and then her maid, and finally the Madame
herself. She is sorrier than she was ten minutes ago and she is going to
ask you to her Monday 'Hour,' as she calls it, a much more intimate
affair, I can assure you."

Patricia clasped her hands rapturously. "Oh, you _duck_!" she cried
ardently. "You're the cleverest thing in the world to get me another
invitation. Am I to go alone? And what time am I to come?"

"You're to have your elder sister for a chaperon and your distinguished
brother-in-law as attendant," replied Bruce gravely. "I wanted to put in
a word for you, Judy, but I was afraid to push her too hard this time."

"I couldn't go, thank you," returned Judith composedly. "I have an extra
in French tomorrow after school and I've made an engagement to go to the
French church with Mademoiselle afterward."

Patricia was in the seventh heaven of delight at the prospect of
actually taking tea with the noted singer and her intimate friends. She
plied Bruce with innumerable questions and grew so Patricia-like and
merry over the absurd answers he manufactured to meet her demands that
the picnic supper was the gayest family affair they had had since
Patricia left them.

"I'll be over at three tomorrow, Elinor," she promised as they left her
at the green entrance door of Artemis Lodge after having walked home
with her through the sparkling night. "Don't let Bruce be late, or
she'll never forgive us."

Elinor promised to keep an eye on her erring husband and see that
everything went smoothly this time.

Patricia watched the three figures walking briskly down the street, and
she closed the door with a little bang.

"Won't Rosamond be surprised?" she smiled to herself, seeing the light
in the windows which told that their rooms were occupied.

She found Rosamond wrapped in a sumptuous down quilt, sitting over the
fire in a drowsy state, and she had to repeat the glorious news twice
before her friend responded. Even then she was not as interested as
Patricia had hoped.

"Yes, it's lovely," she said, slowly, "and I'm sure you'll have a good
time. Do you mind getting out my night things? I'm awfully sleepy and
I'm going straight to bed."

Patricia did as she was asked and then helped the heavy-lidded Rosamond
to her rose-and-gold room, saying good-night a little coolly.

"She might have tried to wake up for such splendid news," she thought, a
little dampened by this casual reception of her glad tidings.

The next morning Rosamond was still too sleepy and tired to rise and
Patricia was afraid that she might be really ill. But she denied more
than a slight cold--a "sleepy headache," as she called it--and asked to
be left alone to sleep it out.

Patricia left her still in bed when she started to the studio in the
afternoon, though she seemed almost herself again.

"Come in and tell me all about it the moment you get back," she called
as Patricia left her.

And Patricia promised blithely.



CHAPTER IX

ROSAMOND'S FRIEND


Patricia kept her promise. She ran upstairs to the pretty rooms in
Artemis Lodge with such a radiant face that Rosamond, who was sitting up
trying to get interested in a magazine story, laid down the book with a
sigh of relief.

"You've had a wonderful time, I know," she said expectantly. "Throw your
things on the couch and tell me all about it."

Patricia complied joyfully. "Do you want to hear every scrap, just as it
happened," she asked, "from beginning to end?"

"From the very beginning to the very end," nodded Rosamond.

"Well, then, I hustled over to the studio," Patricia told her, "and
found them waiting for me. Elinor looked as sweet as ever and Bruce, of
course, was just as he should be. We took the car to the hotel and just
as we were going in, a violet-man pushed his tray right in front of me,
and I must have looked at it pretty hard, for Bruce bought me the
dearest duck of a bunch with cords and tassels on it. And, of course,
that made me feel better still, for my suit isn't terribly gay, you
know, having been selected when I was expecting to spend the whole
winter in the country."

"Was Elinor wearing her gray furs?" asked Rosamond with critical
interest.

Patricia nodded. "And her amethyst velvet," she said, with appreciation
of her friend's fondness for such matters. "She has the sweetest hat to
go with it, too, and she looked lovelier than anyone there. Norn is the
dearest thing, and I believe she's so pretty because she's so good."

This digression was not received with any show of enthusiasm, so she
hurried on.

"We went into the lobby--it's a stunning place. Awfully select and
quiet, you know. And after sending up our names the page took us to her
rooms, and we had to wait a moment in an outer room while the maid
announced us; then we went right in, and there was Madame Milano, in the
midst of a lot of chatting people, looking just as sociable and
everyday as you please. She came straight over to us and shook hands as
tight as Constance does, and then she introduced us to all the people
there. Oh, Rosamond, I was never so excited in my life!"

"Was it the musical set, or social?" asked Rosamond.

Patricia looked puzzled. "They seemed like both to me," she confessed.
"They were beautifully dressed and they had lovely manners, and some of
them were singers and others seemed to be just society people, from the
way they talked about things. Madame Garti was there, and Sculke, the
baritone, and Mrs. Winderly--she was perfectly lovely----"

"Social climber," Rosamond ticketed her with a calm that made Patricia
wince.

"And there was a plain girl with a gorgeous hat, whom Madame called
Felice--I didn't catch her other name, but I liked her immensely."

Rosamond sat up and bent forward. "Felice Vanding?" she asked, and at
Patricia's rather uncertain nod, she said decisively, "That is the most
exclusive girl in New York. Was her mother there?"

Patricia searched her memory. "Is she sort of stiff and dried-up?" she
hazarded. "With a big nose?"

"That is Mrs. Vanding!" cried Rosamond with more animation than Patricia
had known her to show. "Milano must be quite the proper thing, or the
Vandings would never take her up. Tell me some more about her."

Patricia felt rather disconcerted. This was not the point of view she
could sympathize with. She went on less gayly.

"Madame Milano was very kind. She asked all about my lessons, and said
she was going to ask Tancredi to lunch with her tomorrow to find out how
I had been shirking. She asked about Artemis Lodge, too, and how I like
the life here. I told her how jolly it was, and I told her, too, how
dear you'd been to me."

"Did you indeed?" said Rosamond with a pleased look. "Was she at all
interested?"

"I should say she was!" cried Patricia, glad to recall the tone and
look. "She smiled and said in the nicest possible way, 'I should like to
meet your friend, Miss Pat. It is rare to find such good comradeship
among rivals.' I told her that we weren't rivals, that we couldn't
possibly be, for you had a wonderful voice and were far, far more gifted
than plain me."

"What did she say at that?" demanded the now eager Rosamond, forgetting
to contradict this generous statement.

"She laughed and pinched my cheek," Patricia had to confess
shamefacedly. "And she said something about violets and I thought she
meant my bunch, so I took it off and offered it to her, feeling so glad
I had the chance to give her even that tiny gift. She took it and pinned
it on her, and told me to be a good child. It was rather puzzling,
though, for the other people laughed and I was sure I'd made a mistake
of some sort. I felt horridly uncomfortable."

"Didn't your sister know what she meant?" inquired Rosamond, sinking
back into her cushions again.

"No, Elinor and Bruce were both over at the other side of the room,
talking to Madame Alda, who had just come in. To tell the truth, I
didn't say anything to them about it," Patricia said. "It wasn't much,
anyway, for in a little while I was introduced to Felice and we had a
good time together behind the palms while the music was going on. She
knows lots about music, and I learned a good many things from her."

Rosamond approved. "She's worth cultivating," she declared warmly, her
long eyes brightening. "But tell me, Miss Pat, was that all that Milano
said? Did she know I'd been with Pancri in Rome and Martona in Paris?
Did she say that Tancredi had spoken of me?"

"I told her every last thing I could possibly think of that would make
her realize I had a good angel to watch over me," laughed Patricia.
"But, of course, we couldn't keep on talking all the afternoon. There
were a good many other people who wanted a word with her."

Rosamond subsided into her usual amiable indifference. "You must have
had a charming time," she said pleasantly. "Tell me how they were all
dressed."

Patricia very willingly launched into an enthusiastic account of the
beautiful garments worn by the hostess and guests, and the topic was so
absorbing that neither girl noticed the speeding hour, until a tap on
the door brought them back to the needs of the present.

Constance Fellows in her shabbiest frock, paint stains on her hastily
washed hands, looked gayly in on them.

"May I break my rules and use your phone?" she asked. "I haven't time to
chase down across the courtyard to the other phone, and it's very
important."

They went on talking in subdued tones, but it was impossible not to hear
all that Constance said, since the telephone was on the table at
Rosamond's elbow; and what she said made Rosamond's long eyes droop in a
very peculiar manner.

"Tell Auntie," Constance said briskly after having gotten her number,
"that I can't possibly have it done in time, unless I stick at it
tonight. I'll hold the wire. Be as quick as you can, please. She'll
understand."

In the interval of waiting for the reply Constance smiled cheerfully at
them, receiver at ear, taking meanwhile a lively interest in Patricia's
description of Madame Alda's wonderful coat.

"Sounds very uppity to me," she said with a humorous glance at her own
ancient gown. "Been associating with the song-birds in the upper air,
Miss Pat? I thought you'd left town. Haven't seen hide nor hair of you
since Friday."

Patricia was about to explain that she had been occupied with musical
matters under Rosamond's direction, when the answer came to Constance's
message. It seemed satisfactory, for she accepted it cheerily and hung
up the receiver with an expression of great content.

"Thank you so much for allowing me to grab your luxuries," she said with
a smile to Rosamond. "Are either of you going down to dinner now? I
can't get there, but if you'd tell Christine to bring me some milk and
rasp-rolls when she's at liberty, I'd be awfully obliged. I have some
dates and peanuts in my room," she added as though to relieve their
possible fears that she was denying herself too strictly.

"I'm going down, and I'll be glad to do it," said Patricia quickly. She
was so afraid that Constance might see the amused look on Rosamond's
face that she jumped up at once and took her arm, twirling her around
toward the door as she asked, "Is there anything I can order for you,
Rosamond?"

"I think not, thank you," returned that young lady amiably. "I usually
order by phone, you know. One is sure of getting what one wants then."

Patricia felt a bit uncomfortable at this untactful speech, but
Constance merely laughed and nodded back over her shoulder at the
indifferent Rosamond.

"That's the difference between us, Lady Rosamond," she smiled. "You are
so sure of getting what you want, while I am always trying to make up my
mind what it is I want. Sometimes I simply ache for prunes and ice cream
cones, and other times I hanker after caviar."

Rosamond smiled indulgently, but after Patricia had returned from her
dinner and her own dainty tray had been sent down, she said in a slow
thoughtful way, "Constance Fellows is an absurd creature at times. I
wonder what she meant by caviar?"

Patricia was often surprised by the lack of penetration on the part of
her admired friend, and she said without hesitation, "Why, I supposed
she meant living with her aunt. Shabby frocks and peanuts mean the other
side of it."

"Do you think so?" insisted Rosamond. "I fancied she was joking about
the prunes and cones, but of course there's no accounting for Constance.
I'm glad she has my panels finished, for I have a feeling that she isn't
too dependable, after all. I wonder what she is phoning to Mrs. Blakely
for? I thought they were not on good terms."

"Oh, they're quite good friends," said Patricia, as she lighted her
gold-shaded lamp. "Constance told me that her aunt often came to see her
at the school, though she won't step foot in Artemis Lodge, because she
vowed never to countenance Constance in her desire to live like a
savage," Patricia giggled with enjoyment. "She seems to think we're a
bit too primitive for her here."

"Indeed! I'd like Miss Ardsley to hear that," frowned Rosamond. "Mrs.
Blakely should remember that though there are some poor art students
here, there are quite enough of a better class to give tone to the
place."

Patricia adjusted the shade and then smiled over it at her perturbed
room-mate. "But you can't deny that, according to her estimate, we are
Bohemian," she said gayly. "She declares that any place is Bohemian
where they give parties in their sitting rooms and wash the dishes in
the bathrooms."

Rosamond shrugged her shoulders quite impatiently. "Bother Mrs.
Blakely," she said in the most downright way she had ever spoken before
Patricia. "I'm going to bed."

Patricia came into her bedroom to turn out the light for her after she
was in bed, and as she had her hand on the button, she gave a little
start of remembrance.

"Oh, and I forgot to tell you that Bruce has tickets for Tosca tomorrow
night for all of us," she said eagerly. "I don't know how I was so
stupid as to let it slip my mind. Elinor and Judy and Bruce and I are
going, and we want you to go with us."

Rosamond turned drowsily on her pillows, pulling the satin coverlet up
to her chin.

"Awfully kind," she said indifferently. "I had tickets for us two and
Miss Ardsley was to chaperone us. It was to surprise you, but we can
give our tickets to her and let her take someone else. I fancy she can
find some one who will go."

She turned over with so definite an air that Patricia snapped off the
light and went slowly to her own little room, where she sat down before
her table and got out her writing materials. She had a letter to write
to Mrs. Spicer, but somehow the bloom seemed to be rubbed off of her
wonderful afternoon, and she sat staring at the heading, 'Dear Mrs.
Nat,' for a long time before she began to write.

Her mind was ranging over the costumes which Rosamond had made her
describe so minutely and she was thinking with an earnestness new to her
how much she should like to be like Rosamond, with her lovely voice and
sumptuous clothes.

At last she dipped her dry pen and laid the blotter ready. "I guess Mrs.
Nat will be glad to hear all about it," she said with a little
self-conscious smile twisting her pink lips. "She hasn't much chance at
really splendid doings, and she does love pretty things."

She stopped before she had written a sentence to muse again. "I wish she
hadn't taken a sort of dislike to Rosamond when she saw her out at Red
Top," she said wistfully. "It's so hard to write without putting
Rosamond in. She's in almost everything I do now."



CHAPTER X

MISS PAT PLAYS NURSE


Patricia found that Rosamond was still more interwoven into her daily
life when she went into her room the next morning, and found her
breathing heavily and entirely oblivious of all about her.

"Oh, dear, she must be really ill," said Patricia, half aloud, as she
bent over the bed and looked at the flushed face anxiously. "I wonder if
I ought to call Miss Ardsley or Miss Tatten."

She tried to find out just how ill poor Rosamond was, but in spite of
her careful attempts to rouse her, Rosamond refused to come back to
wakefulness, and Patricia was forced to give up the effort.

"I wish I could go to Miss Tatten," she thought, drawing the door softly
to behind her and hurrying through the sitting-room. "She's the one in
charge, after all. And she doesn't make so much conversation about
things as Miss Ardsley does."

A picture of the fastidious, affable Directress rose clearly before her
and she saw what a contrast to little efficient "Tattie," as the girls
called the sturdy little house-keeper behind her back, Miss Ardsley would
make at a sick-bed.

"I suppose I'll have to go straight down to the office," she said aloud,
as she went out into the hall. "Oh, dear, I hope she isn't going to be
ill."

Constance Fellows was at her door, unseen by Patricia, and she caught
the distressed words. As Patricia hurriedly started for the stair she
called to her.

"Is the fair Rosamond under the weather again?" she asked lightly.

Patricia turned, indignant at her levity in the face of trouble.

"Rosamond is in a stupor and I can't wake her up. I'm going for Miss
Ardsley," she said shortly.

Then Constance dropped her bantering tone and, closing her own door,
came over to Patricia. "Let me see her before you call out the
authorities," she said earnestly. "She may not be seriously ill, and if
they once get hold of her they'll keep her in quarantine for weeks after
she's all over it."

Patricia remembered Rosamond saying something much to this effect, and
she agreed eagerly.

"I'll go in first and see if she's waked up," she said on the threshold
of Rosamond's room.

Rosamond was lying in the same position as she had been and was as
unresponsive to efforts to rouse her as before. Patricia beckoned
Constance into the room.

"I'm afraid she's very ill," she whispered, as Constance came to the
bedside, and she waited in great suspense for what should come next.

Constance felt Rosamond's head and listened to her heart in quite a
professional manner. Then she disappeared for a moment and came back
with a thermometer and an alcohol bottle.

"Get some hot water ready for me," she said in a business-like way that
won Patricia's confidence. "I think it's an attack of the grippe, but
I'm not sure yet."

When Patricia came back with the steaming pitcher, she had finished her
investigations. "It's grippe, all right," she said, contentedly. "I know
the symptoms without being told a word. I've had it every year since it
became the fashion, drat it! We'll have to get the doctor, of course,
but I think she can be made more comfortable in the meanwhile."

"Shall I tell Miss Ardsley before I phone to the doctor?" Patricia asked
anxiously.

Constance shook her head. "Tell her just as soon as you are sure he is
on the way," she advised. "The Countess is a nuisance about illness. She
is scared stiff for fear she'll catch it--whatever it may be. Of course,
she has to know--necessary evil--but don't let her in on me till I've
freshened up this poor girl."

Patricia hurried off to telephone to Rosamond's doctor, whom she was
fortunate enough to find in his office. And then she came back to the
bedroom. Rosamond had her eyes open. Her face was flushed and miserable
looking, but she was allowing Constance to arrange her pillows with
something like gratitude in her long eyes.

"I've given her an alcohol rub and kept the hot-water bottles to her all
the while," said Constance briskly. "She'll be feeling better after a
by, won't you, Rosamond?"

Rosamond dropped her eyes in a way that meant yes, and Patricia flew to
bend over her and whisper her grief at finding her so ill.

"Better not take in any more germs than you can help," said Constance in
a business-like way. "Clear out, now, young one, and get your breakfast.
The restaurant will be closed if you don't hurry."

Patricia went off, feeling that she was leaving her friend in competent
hands, and after she had finished a hasty meal she went to Miss
Ardsley's room to notify her of Rosamond's plight. There was no response
to her knock and she was forced to leave without having done her errand.
She met Miss Tatten on the way upstairs, however, and she poured out
her tale of woe, grateful for the chance of enlisting the sturdy common
sense of the house-keeper.

"Ah, indeed," was Miss Tatten's only comment. Her arched eyebrows rose
with nervous twitches and her deep contralto voice rolled sonorously.
"Have you notified Miss Ardsley? Has a physician been called?"

Patricia explained why the directress had not been told. "You'll do
beautifully in her place, won't you?" she asked with such evident desire
for an affirmative answer that Miss Tatten, being only human and liking
Patricia exceedingly, showed signs of melting from her official starched
dignity, and promised to come at once.

They went together into the sick-room and Patricia revised her former
opinion of Miss Tatten as a just yet severe automaton when she saw the
real kindliness and tender consideration she showed there.

The doctor was coming up the stairs as Patricia pinned on her hat and
hurried away for her singing lesson, and only the sternness which
Tancredi showed toward late-comers kept her from lingering to hear his
verdict.

In the courtyard she met Miss Ardsley, coming placidly from her
milliner's. "At this most unearthly hour, my dear, because the obstinate
creature refused to make my new hat for 'Varnishing Day' on Friday
unless I gave her a sitting this morning."

Patricia was not at any time much interested in Miss Ardsley's hats, but
now they grew intolerable. She waited for a period in the gentle flow of
criticism on the prevalent modes, and then she boldly broke in.

"I'm sorry I have to go," she said apologetically. "I must tell you,
though, before I fly, that Rosamond Merton is ill with the grippe and
we've sent for the doctor. He's in her room, now, so you'll have to go
right up if you want to see him there."

Miss Ardsley gasped. "Ill with grippe! How--how very annoying. Really, I
was hoping to keep Artemis Lodge free from that taint," she said with a
slightly sharp edge to her gentle tones. "Is she suffering much?" she
added more sweetly, being recalled perhaps by the incredulous expression
in Patricia's very speaking eyes.

"She's very miserable indeed," Patricia returned promptly, determined
not to spare the Directress. "She was in a stupor when I went in to her
this morning, but she's better now. Constance Fellows had been with her
and Miss Tatten has just gone up----"

"Miss Tatten?" began Miss Ardsley in a somewhat vexed tone, which
swiftly changed to a pleased one. "Ah, yes, Miss Tatten. She is most
capable and will do all that is necessary. Thank you so much, my dear,
for telling me of this sad affair. I shall notify Madame Tancredi at
once." And before Patricia could offer to carry the message, she sailed
off serenely to her own quarters, leaving Patricia wasting yet more
valuable time by standing quite still in the middle of the courtyard
staring blankly after her.

"Well!" was all she found voice for as she gathered herself together.
"Well."

Notwithstanding Miss Ardsley's intentions, Patricia told Madame Tancredi
of her favorite pupil's illness and was gratified at the warmth of her
solicitude. She carried home from her lesson a strong impression that
Rosamond must be a very remarkable person indeed to call forth such
expressions of regret from her teacher.

"I shouldn't wonder if she were going to be a great opera singer like
Madame Milano," she thought, somewhat awed by this high fate for
Rosamond, and she went to the sick room with more anxiety for the future
prima donna than she had felt even for her friend.

Constance Fellows was still in charge and tremendously relieved at her
appearance. "She's keen enough now," she replied to Patricia's eager
questions. "She won't hear to a nurse, and the doctor doesn't insist. I
fancy he knows her better than we do. I'd stay longer, but there's
something I have on hand--but I'll be back later if you want me."

Patricia thought she could manage the rest of the day very well, and as
soon as the medicines were explained and the diet understood, Constance
hurried off.

Rosamond was looking much better when Patricia went to her, and she
improved so rapidly that her objection to the nurse was justified.
Patricia found her an easy patient, though to her inexperience the hours
for medicine came swiftly and the nourishment seemed to be always
waiting to be administered. By the time night came she was completely
exhausted, but she bore up gallantly, love of her gifted friend giving
her strength and courage in the long hours before the happy moment when
she felt safe in going to bed.

She wakened a great many times in her short night, to sit up and listen
or to steal to the door of Rosamond's room and noiselessly peep in to
see how she fared; but Rosamond was sleeping heavily each time she
listened, and after the dawn came she gave herself up to the deep
fatigue which overpowered her.

The sun was shining into her room when she awoke to hear someone
knocking on the outer door. It was Constance on her way up from
breakfast, bringing some flowers from Tancredi and the mail.

Flowers from Tancredi! Patricia thought that must rouse any pupil of
her's, even from the dead!

But no, the gifted Rosamond lifted them to her face as indifferently as
if they had been common weeds and sighed as she turned her pale face
away from the insistent odor of the jasmine.

"How suggestive to send white ones," she murmured with half a smile, and
Patricia, who had been half-way to the skies at this condescension on
the part of Tancredi, became aware that she was making a mountain out of
a very mediocre mole-hill.

She took the flowers and laid them in the box while she could fill a
vase with water, and when she lifted them again she saw an envelope
cuddling under the green paper. It was addressed in Tancredi's hand, and
she looked at it reverently despite herself.

Rosamond waved her to read it and she had the fun, at any rate, of
seeing the actual words.

"I have news to cheer the invalid," wrote the good-natured Tancredi
after a few phrases of regret. "The Milano was asking about you at
luncheon today, and if you are able, I am to bring you to her next
'Hour' when she returns to New York within the fortnight."

Patricia beamed. She knew that it was her account of her friend which
had brought this honor to Rosamond and she was eager to hear her
grateful acknowledgment. She looked expectantly at Rosamond, who was on
fire at last.

She sat up in her dainty bed and she actually clapped her hands.

"Oh, how lucky I got that embroidered crepe!" she cried, out of the
fullness of her heart. "Oh, Miss Pat, my dear, I must order the stockings
dyed to match! I will surely be well--I'll _have_ to be well. Get the
paper and see when she sings again."

Not a word about the loving praise which had won her this. Not a single
syllable of gratitude for the generous love that had so forgotten self
in admiration for another. But Patricia was so happy in what she felt
she had helped bring about that she flew for the paper and found the
advertisement for the coming operas with as much speed as though she
herself were to be the guest.

After they found that it would be exactly eleven days till the next
opera Milano was appearing in, Rosamond lay back with a sigh of relief.

"I'll surely be well by that time," she said positively. "I am feeling
so much better this morning, and I always get over things very rapidly."

Patricia was bubbling with sympathetic pleasure. "I'll take the sample
of the dress and get the stockings this morning," she offered. "Is there
anything else you want me to do?"

Rosamond pondered for a moment and then replied amiably, "I can't think
of anything else just now, but I'll be glad to have you go as soon as
you can with the sample. One never knows how long those stupid stores
may take. It's awfully good of you, Miss Pat," she ended carelessly.

"Oh, I just love to do it!" cried Patricia. "I love to do anything for
you--you've been so nice to me. I'll go the very first minute after I've
straightened you up and had some breakfast. I'm so glad it isn't my
lesson morning."

Rosamond's improvement delighted her, and she danced off to attend to
her various duties with a light heart. Breakfast over, she did her
errand, and after a short walk in the Park she came back to find
Rosamond in a flush of fever.

The doctor, when he came at her anxious bidding, assured her it meant
nothing, that Miss Merton was recovering as rapidly as possible; but
Patricia was so disturbed and unhappy over her friend's condition that
she sat down and telephoned to Elinor that she could not go to the opera
with them and that she had asked Constance Fellows and Marie Graham--the
shabby entertaining friend--to go in the place of Rosamond and herself.

To Elinor's expostulations and arguments, she had one answer: "She has
been too good to me for me to leave her now," and her disappointed
sister was forced to be content with that.

When, the next morning, she found that Rosamond was fulfilling the
doctor's predictions and getting well by leaps, she was not sorry for
her self-denial.

"I'm glad I could do it for her," she said, nodding at herself in the
quaint mirror above her dresser. "I shall always do things for her,
because I just _love_ to."



CHAPTER XI

THE REWARD OF THE FAITHFUL


"I think Miss Pat is simply foolish over Miss Merton," said Judith, with
an uneasy note in her calm voice. "We haven't seen anything of her for a
week, and now she's trying to back out of coming Sunday night, just
because her Rosamond is going to sing at Mrs. Filmore's and they've
asked Miss Pat to come and worship."

Elinor had just come in. Her cheeks were tinted with the crisp air and
her eyes were dancing with the brisk walk home through the Park. She
tossed her muff on the divan and made a laughing face at her disturbed
small sister.

"Never mind, Judy, you still have us," she said brightly. "Constance is
coming and Doris Leighton too, and we'll have to give Miss Pat up to
such a fine opportunity. Rosamond has not been singing 'publicly,' as
she calls it, so it will be a great treat, no doubt."

"Yes, but she will simply have to miss it," declared Judith firmly.
"Tell her, will you, Elinor, when she comes in that she must come
tomorrow?"

Elinor hesitated, and Judith burst out, "Well, then, if I have to tell!
Mrs. Shelly told me that Mrs. Nat was coming in to surprise us, and of
course Miss Pat must be here."

"What's that about me?" asked Patricia, appearing in the doorway from
the bedroom, where she had been sewing a button on her glove while she
waited for Elinor to come home. "Who's requesting the pleasure of my
society?"

"Judith was telling me some very good reasons why you should come to the
Sunday spread," answered Elinor quietly. She scanned her sister's face
while they talked and her own was none the brighter for what she saw
there.

Patricia tossed her head impatiently, as though to evade Judith's
persistent attacks.

"You know I can't come," she said with that petulance which had grown
upon her recently. "I have to go with Rosamond. I've been fixing my
dress, and everything's ready. Besides," she added, "I promised Madame
Milano I would only come home once a week, and as I've been here today,
I couldn't very well come tomorrow again."

"Been here today?" echoed Judith, shaken out of herself by this
unexpected reasoning. "You've barely stopped five minutes, and you
haven't taken off your hat!"

Patricia looked as nearly sulky as she could ever manage to be. "I can't
help it; I simply won't come," she said without concealment. "I'm going
to Filmore's and that's an end of it."

Judith fired her last gun. "Mrs. Nat is coming as a surprise and we've
asked Doris and Constance, too," she said reproachfully.

Patricia faltered and then recovered her firm stand. "I'm sorry, but I
have accepted," she replied.

"But Mrs. Filmore doesn't care a snap whether you come or not,"
persisted Judith with flaming cheeks. She was making a fight for her
old-time sunny Miss Pat against this careless devotee of Rosamond
Merton's, but she had not counted on the days of intimate companionship
with the alluring Rosamond which had been Miss Pat's in the past
fortnight of illness and convalescence.

Patricia was silent.

"They didn't even ask you to come with your Rosamond," rushed on Judith.
"You're only invited with the outsiders, after the dinner is over."

Elinor's scrutiny told her it was time to interfere. Patricia was not
the forbearing joyful Miss Pat of yore. Since the spell of Rosamond
Merton had fallen so strongly upon her, she was growing--of all things
for merry Miss Pat--strangely self-centered. The life at Artemis Lodge,
with its gay comradeship of restaurant and tea-room, of dim library and
cosy salons, seemed to have passed her by, and Rosamond Merton filled
her heart and mind. Swiftly, while she was speaking, Elinor determined
that some change must be made, yet all she said was in her gentlest tone
and with an arm about Patricia's shoulder.

"We'll have to give her up this time, Judy dear, though we'll all miss
her more than we can say; but we won't let her off next time, I promise
you that."

Patricia was touched by the fondness in the sweet voice, though she was
immensely relieved, too, for she knew that if Elinor vetoed her plan she
must give it up.

"I might come over after I'm dressed," she suggested gratefully, with a
smile at the discomfited Judith. "I wanted to ask if Bruce would walk
over with me--it's in one of those old houses across the Square--but Ju
was so fierce I was afraid to open my lips."

Elinor promised for Bruce and after a little chat Patricia left, feeling
that she was making quite a concession to the family tie.

"As Rosamond says, I can't give up everything to other people, or I'd
lose my personality," she mused as she went briskly along the frosty
streets toward the Lodge. "And personality means so much to a singer."

She felt rather proud of herself now. It had been difficult for her to
come to this point of view and Rosamond had rambled on in her amiable
fashion many a time on the subject before she had brought her
impressionable room-mate to see it as she did.

"If I merely went to the studio and nowhere else, I'd grow one-sided,"
thought Patricia, cheerfully ignoring the fact that she spent most of
her time nowadays between her lessons and practicing either at home with
Rosamond or doing errands for that luxuriant young lady.

In the weeks she had been in Artemis Lodge she had been absorbing
Rosamond, living, breathing and sleeping Rosamond, until she was merely
a variation of the older girl's charming self. She did not see that
Rosamond was more self-centered than anyone she knew. She forgot how
eager she had once been, and how proud, to mingle with the people who
were always dropping in to see Bruce and Elinor. In a word, she was, for
the time, like the man who points his telescope at the flower by his
side and cries out that the world is made of pink petals and yellow
stamen. She was no longer Patricia--she was Rosamond Merton's version of
Patricia.

And the most remarkable part was that she had come to this state of mind
through her best impulses and by the way of her generous admirations.
The manner of her coming had been so whole-souled and liberal, too, that
she deserved to have arrived at more than this.

She went to the studio on Sunday evening and showed her pretty simple
evening frock, decorated with a wide band of glittering trimming from
Rosamond's ample store, and she had the one real quarrel of her life
with Elinor because that tender sister made her rip it off before she
would consent to her either appearing at the studio spread or going to
the musical.

Patricia never forgot that evening.

The supper, with its merry chat, was gall and wormwood to her. Mrs.
Nat's kind eyes seemed probing for something Patricia could not show
her. Doris Leighton's quiet pleasantries and Constance's gay quips were
dust and ashes in her mouth, and when finally she had walked across the
Square to the big brick house and the door had closed on Bruce and the
outside world, she was actually ready for tears.

"I'll never go anywhere again, if this is the way they are going to fuss
about it," she said to herself, as she went slowly upstairs to the
dressing-room. "I don't see how they can be so mean."

The brilliance of the house and the guests, together with Rosamond's
gracious greeting as she met her and led her to be introduced to the
hostess, soon worked a cure for her low spirits and she began to enjoy
herself at once.

"This is real life," she thought joyfully.

"Milano was asking me about you," said Rosamond as they threaded their
way through the crowded rooms.

Patricia nodded. "I know," she returned brightly. "At her tea-party the
other day. You told me about it."

She was so taken up with the delightful agitation of finding herself in
such a large and imposing assembly that she scarcely thought of her
words.

Rosamond laughed her slow laugh. "No, tonight," she corrected. "She is
here, you know. Mrs. Filmore is giving the dinner in her honor."

Patricia had room for swift surprise. "Why, you never told me!" she
exclaimed impetuously. "How strange!"

"I imagine it slipped your mind," suggested Rosamond carelessly. "I am
sure I told you. Come, let us speak to her before she sings. Mrs.
Filmore has persuaded her to give just one song, and I don't know when
she will choose."

Patricia demurred, feeling suddenly rather small and insignificant in
her girlish white net frock among all the glittering costumes about her.
It is sad to confess that her anger at Elinor returned hotly as she
thought of the forbidden trimming. That Rosamond had tactfully ignored
to speak of its absence made her more angry at Elinor.

"I'd rather sit down here and look about for a while," she said,
dropping into a tiny divan in a half-deserted corner with such a
determined air of gayety that Rosamond, after a rather weak protest,
went off by herself to make one of the group about the prima donna.

Patricia watched her moving across the crowded room with all the
assurance of long experience of such scenes, and admired her more than
ever. Her perfect gown and the graceful way she carried her dark head
with its jeweled band convinced the impressionable Patricia that this
sumptuous creature was far too high above her for criticism, and her
cheeks flushed at Judith's presumption.

It was delightful to her to see how agreeable everyone was to Rosamond.
She was stopped a dozen times in her passage of the wide apartment, and
she joined the group about Madam Milano with three attractive men in her
wake. Patricia found it very exciting. She thought of the dances at the
Tennis Club with something like scorn, and even the parties at the
studio last winter seemed to pale before this splendid entertainment.

After an hour she began to change her mind, however, and she looked
about for any sign of Rosamond in vain. There was no one in the rooms
she knew. She could not even see her hostess, whose peculiar head-dress
and angular shoulders she was sure she could recognize at any distance.
Madame Milano had not sung and there seemed, from the lively hum of
conversation that rose above the music of the famous orchestra, little
hope of it.

She felt suddenly very lonely. These strangers with their indifferent
stares made her more uncomfortable than she had ever been in her life.
She longed to be able to speak one word to some friendly creature. And
then, just as she was actually about to rise and flee to the shelter of
the dressing-room, there was a stir, and the soft undertone of the
orchestra stopped in the middle of a Hungarian Czarda.

Patricia leaned forward. Rosamond was going to sing!

Her loneliness dropped from her and her face shone. She drank in the
trills and flourishes of the selection which her friend had chosen as
though the notes were golden ambrosia. After Rosamond had ended her song
and gracefully yet firmly declined an encore Patricia was still glowing.

She came to herself, though, when a woman near her, without lowering her
voice, said with an amused look, "I'm glad that nice child in the corner
is looking happier. It's positively cruel to allow so young a girl to
mope about like that."

Patricia retained enough of her spirit to look the amused lady calmly in
the eyes, while her pretty tipped-up nose assumed a more sprightly
angle. That made her feel much better, and after Madame Milano had
poured out the liquid jewels of her faultless voice, she felt better
still.

She waited then in expectancy that now Rosamond would appear to take her
to Madame Milano, but no one came, and in a shorter time than it seemed
to her she rose, spurred by the amused lady's eyes, and made her way
among the chatting throngs straight to the dressing-room, where she
ordered her wraps and made her way downstairs with the calm of hope
destroyed.

She passed the footmen at the door, quite aware of their stares and
equally undaunted by them. Through the lane of canvas she gained the
pavement and so was out in the night streets--alone for the first time
in her sheltered life.

Artemis Lodge was only a few squares distant and she almost ran the
short blocks, arriving at the green entrance door out of breath and
suddenly realizing that the custodian left at eleven o'clock and
Rosamond had the night key which Miss Ardsley allowed only to privileged
ones.

As she hesitated, a couple of figures came toward her, and she was
overjoyed to recognize Mary Scull, one of the oldest residents, and
little Rita Stanford, whom she had been chaperoning to a concert given
by the blind. They were so full of the wonderful work done by these
afflicted musicians that they scarcely listened to her limping
explanation of her dilemma.

They took her in with them and left her at the foot of her own stair,
and she could hear them as they went across the courtyard in the quiet
starlight, discussing the difficulties of song-reading by the blind.

She rushed upstairs and undressed hastily, flinging off her clothes and
dropping into bed without brushing her hair, so afraid was she that
Rosamond might come in before her light was out.

She cried softly in the dark because she could not say her prayers. The
tumult in her heart was too loud.



CHAPTER XII

PATRICIA MOVES


She received Rosamond's careless chiding for her unconventional behavior
with an uneasy feeling. Her divinity was showing the first flaw.

"I don't think I was entirely to blame, even though I did feel shy at
first," she defended herself with some hesitation. "Couldn't you have
sent for me, even if you didn't want to come yourself? The footmen were
going about constantly with those cute little ices."

Her sense of justice was not appeased by her friend's evading this very
reasonable statement, and Rosamond's laughing indifference to her
disappointment in not meeting Madame Milano again stung her to the
quick.

She was too proud to show her feelings openly, however, and she went to
her lesson very miserable indeed, feeling that she had lost both the
splendid Rosamond's interest and her dear Elinor's sympathy.

That was one of the worst mornings Patricia ever knew. She sang so
unevenly that Tancredi scolded her and put her back in her first
exercises for punishment. She was longing to ask about Madame Milano,
but her lips were sealed by her own fault. She would not trespass on her
teacher's indulgence and she left the house so wretched that she hated
even the dear music she had so longed for and lived in.

"I'll never be a real singer," she thought dolefully, as she walked
slowly towards Artemis Lodge. "Tancredi doesn't care a rap about my
voice and I don't believe she'd have bothered with me if it hadn't been
to please Madame Milano, and Madame Milano only told me to go on because
she wanted to please Elinor and Bruce because they are friends of the
Van Kelts, who are such chums with her Dutch friend."

If she had not been so woebegone she would have laughed at this string
of disheartening reasons for her being so falsely encouraged to compete
with gifted creatures like Rosamond Merton, but her gloom was too deep
and too real to see the funny side of anything just then.

The clock in the tower was pointing to twelve as she passed along on the
other side of the Square, and she looked wistfully up at the big window
of the studio, where she knew that Elinor or Bruce would be just
dismissing a model and making ready to clean their brushes and tidy up
for the one o'clock luncheon which they always had sent in to them.

"I wonder if they'd care if they never saw me again," she thought with
what she instantly knew to be shallow sentimentality. "I suppose they
would care," she acknowledged, and her sense of justice saved her from
any more silly speeches like that. "They think I'm an awful goose,
though," she amended, and she knew she was rather safe in this.

As she turned the corner toward her own street, she saw a couple of
figures come out of the rather imposing entrance of the studio
building, and her dejection deepened. She could easily recognize
Elinor's blue coat and Doris Leighton's black suit with the white fur
collar. They were coming briskly toward her and she hastily turned on a
sudden impulse and crossed the Square in the opposite direction.

"I simply can't see anyone just now," she told herself miserably.

She walked with her head up, though the tears were in her eyes, and she
went along very briskly, not caring at all where she went, so that it
was away from Artemis Lodge and her troubles.

She walked for more than an hour, and found that her troubles would not
leave her so readily, so she turned toward the down-town section again
and went resolutely back to them.

It was one of those days when spring seems to leap suddenly into the
sunshine, and Patricia, though very miserable indeed, could not help
responding a little to the waking season.

"Perhaps I was a bit hard to manage last night," she thought, as she
reached the green door, and the fact that the caretaker smiled at her
added to her conviction that she had been hasty.

She ran up the stairs and with a light tap came into the room where she
expected to find Rosamond, but the words of contrition died on her lips,
for the room was filled with a litter of lovely gowns, hats and
slippers, in the midst of which sat Rosamond criticising and selecting,
while a deferential young woman in correct black made notes on a little
pad. The name of an exclusive outfitter was on the box-lids and
wrappers.

Rosamond looked up smiling at Patricia. She seemed to have forgotten
that there had been any coolness between them.

"Come and help me select some of these things, Miss Pat," she said
amiably.

And Patricia was instantly ashamed of her resentment.

Rosamond, it seemed, had received an unusually large remittance from
home, and was employing it in enlarging her wardrobe, which she declared
was scandalously shabby. She bought recklessly, while Patricia sighed
over the beautiful things and felt that she must have been childish and
unreasonable indeed to accuse this friendly, chatting girl of wilful
neglect or unkindness.

They were pleasantly engaged in this delightful fashion when the knocker
tapped and Constance Fellows' bright face appeared in the doorway.

"Ods-bodikins! What have we here?" she asked with a twinkle in her clear
hazel eyes. "Going to be married, Fair Rosamond, or is it merely
preparation for the dance next week?"

Rosamond disclaimed either. "I'm just getting a few things to freshen up
my old clothes," she said with a tinge of ostentation, which was not
lost on Constance.

"My word, but you need a lot of freshening," she said gayly, glancing at
the array on chairs and divan. "One quarter of this would make me
absolutely over. That's what it is to be ambitious."

Patricia thought Rosamond seemed vexed at this free speech, but
Constance gave her no time for reply.

"Your sister is in Miss Ardsley's rooms and they would like to speak to
you," she said to Patricia. "They were coming up here, but they saw the
dray-load of hats being taken in, and they concluded there would be more
breathing room downstairs."

Patricia had a sudden misgiving that something might be wrong at the
studio--Judith or Bruce ill. Constance saw the thought in her face and
shook her hand.

"Everything's O.K." she assured her. "Miss Ardsley's got a room for you
at last, that's all. They want you to come down and deliver sentence."

To Patricia this seemed a veritable finger of destiny.

"Shall I bother you if I move out?" she asked Rosamond rather wistfully.

If she had hoped for comfort, she got very little. "Why should you go at
all?" asked Rosamond, while she held a hat up for inspection, viewing it
first on one side and then on the other. "I thought you were very well
as you are."

"But," faltered Patricia. "I was only to stay till I could get a room."

She hoped Rosamond would lay down the hat and look at her with friendly
eyes. Rosamond kept on with her scrutiny.

"Stay as long as you will. I'm sure we've got on beautifully together,"
she said with her air of amiable indifference.

After that Patricia felt she had no choice.

She followed Constance into Miss Ardsley's rooms without knowing how she
got there, and even Elinor's gentle words of greeting sounded stiff and
formal to her quivering, over-wrought humor. Miss Ardsley's genteel
accents grated horribly on her. She was anxious to have the interview
over and she readily agreed to take the room at once, without evincing
any interest in it or anything else. All that she wanted just then was
to get away by herself, so afraid was she that the tears so near her
eyelids might pop out at any moment.

Elinor very properly put her changed manner down to the incident of the
night before, and she did not insist on going up with her to talk it
over with Miss Merton, as she would have done if all had been as usual
between Patricia and herself.

She sighed a little as she kissed her good-bye in the corridor, and
wondered sadly at the stony face her dear Miss Pat turned to her at
parting.

"You'll want me to come over and help you move?" she asked, with a world
of tender concern in her tones.

Patricia heard only the mere words. She was wild to get away before she
disgraced herself before the others. "I'll move in tomorrow. Constance
will help me if you're busy," she said, hardly knowing how her words
sounded.

Elinor went home too hurt to reply and too generous to insist on
intruding, while Patricia ran upstairs and shut herself in her room,
where she could hear the murmur of Rosamond and the saleswoman going on
monotonously.

"I won't wait another moment; I'll go straight down and get the key,"
she said, springing up after a bad quarter of an hour, wherein all her
idols had tottered from their pedestals. "I can't stand being cooped up
forever like a mummy!"

Miss Ardsley gave her the key most willingly, even going so far as the
courtyard to point out the windows of the room, which was on the
opposite side of the quadrangle, recommending her to call on Martha or
Christine if there were anything she needed.

Patricia found the room and opened the door with a sense of relief at
finding a shelter for her wounded feelings. She liked the queer shape of
it, with the two odd windows giving toward the sunset, and the angle
where her cosy corner seemed already to have appropriated.

"It's perfectly dear, and I'll love it!" she said passionately. "I'll
move in this very instant, no matter what Rosamond may say."

Rosamond had very little to say, though that little was regretful and
apparently sincere. Patricia suspected her now of insincerity, but that
was not one of Rosamond Merton's faults. Had she feigned more, Patricia
would never have left her. She was sorry for Miss Pat to go, but since
she seemed so eager for it, there was nothing else to be done.

"We'll see just as much of one another," she said, still absently intent
on her purchases. "You'll practice here, of course."

Patricia had forgotten the piano, but she was not given to retreat.

"There's plenty of room for one of my own over there," she said with a
forced smile. "I'll miss hearing you sing, though." She was afraid she
was going to break down, but she didn't. "I'll get my things out now, so
that you can have the little room for cold storage," and she motioned to
the jumble which lay gloriously about.

Rosamond made the best of it. "It will be hard to get anyone to help
now," she said, rising. "It's just tea-hour and the maids will be busy.
I'll see that you have someone at once."

Patricia wanted to protest, but the words stuck in her throat and she
was forced to accept the sturdy charwoman whom Rosamond's telephone
secured.

The moving was over sooner than she had thought possible. She was
settled in her room, and Rosamond had come over to declare it the
cosiest spot in the world, while Constance Fellows and Doris Leighton
had been in a couple of times on visits of congratulation before the
clock across the housetops spelled out her usual bed hour on its
illuminated face.

Patricia felt very strange as she put out the light and got into the
narrow bed with its transplanted canopy and frills, yet there was a
feeling of independence that was perhaps all the sweeter because she
would not acknowledge it.

"I'm more lonely than I ever was in my life," she told herself as her
head sank against her pillow.

But she forgot that she had said her prayers very thoroughly tonight,
which showed that she had passed the darkest spot of her loneliness, for
no one is quite desolate who can talk to God.

The next morning she awoke with a start, thinking she heard Rosamond
calling her, but all she saw was the bright spring sunshine flooding
into her pleasant, queer room, and all she heard was the trilling of the
girl across the hall, little Rita Stanford, whose mother had died since
Patricia had come to Artemis Lodge.

"Poor little brave thing," she thought with a warm rush of feeling,
"I'll ask her over to practice as soon as I get my piano."

All about her she heard sounds of life that the private stair had shut
her away from. Someone was unlocking her door and going whistling down
the corridor, and in the room next to her the girl was rushing about in
great haste, banging doors and slamming down the windows.

Rosamond would have sighed over such intimate contact with the rank and
file of student life. It charmed Patricia. She loved democracy, although
she had been shunning it ever since she had come to room with Rosamond
Merton, and she jumped out of bed with a lighter heart than she could
have dreamed possible the night before.

Unconsciously she had begun to fulfill Madame Milano's purpose in sending
her to Artemis Lodge.



CHAPTER XIII

THE TURNING POINT


It was very hard for Patricia to go over to Rosamond's room after
breakfast for her hour at the piano, but she did it so bravely that the
self-centered Rosamond never guessed how much it cost her.

That was her first unconscious victory over herself.

Next she found that the other girls, from whose comradeship Rosamond's
constant presence had barred her, now made room for her in the jolly,
hail-fellow style which went straight to her bruised heart and soothed
her wounded feelings sooner than she knew.

She kept her place at the little table in the café with Rosamond, of
course, but after the first day she did not go into her room at
tea-time, going instead into the big room downstairs where the girls
and their guests came every afternoon to consume thin bread and butter,
and innumerable cups of tea and packs of petite-beurres. Rosamond had
thought her own dainty service with an exclusive friend all that could
be desired, but Patricia rejoiced in the atmosphere of the club room
with its great grand piano and the groups of interested girls, with a
sprinkling of equally interested and clever guests. The steaming,
gleaming samovar with Doris Leighton's friendly face behind it brought a
warmth to her heart the first afternoon that Constance had insisted on
her cutting the hour with Rosamond and going with her to the tea-room
below.

She found the easy chat and gay banter of the friendly groups the more
to her taste, because she had come from a rather trying quarter of an
hour in Rosamond's room, where Mary Browne--with an _e_ as she always
explained carefully--was being shown the purchases which had seemingly
consoled Rosamond for her withdrawal.

Mary Browne, a slim, dark-eyed, good-looking girl with a bored manner,
was lounging in a chair, looking with reverent yearning at the articles
as they were exhibited--Rosamond trying each on and enlarging on its
points of excellence.

Mary Browne, though of the purest blood, was, as she put it, "rather
strapped," and wore her shapely garments longer than even Patricia did.
Her soul was in the matter, as anyone could see by the way in which she
looked at each article, murmuring tensely through her aristocratic
teeth, "It's a stair. It's a _star_."

Patricia had just come from a flying visit to little Rita Stanford, whom
she had suspected, from certain little sounds coming over her open
transom, to be crying, and the contrast to that heroic little person
putting aside her fresh grief to try to be entertaining to the newcomer
in her hall made Patricia suddenly rather contemptuous of this
worshipful attitude toward the mere accessories of life.

She had sprung up with relief when Constance's knock gave her the chance
to escape, and in spite of Rosamond's rather absent protests, she had
gone downstairs with Constance.

The tea-room was very full that afternoon and Doris had little time for
talk, but she asked Patricia to stay for a chat after the samovar was
taken away, and Patricia very willingly promised. The guests left at the
proper time, but the girls seemed loath to leave. They lingered, talking
about all sorts of glorious futures they were planning and discussing
the eager present with great animation.

"Tancredi says that Rosamond Merton is going into opera as soon as she
is done with her," a girl whose name Patricia did not know leaned across
a space to tell her. She knew that Patricia was Rosamond's closest
associate and she was following the social impulse to please.

Her friendly action brought the color to Patricia's cheeks and her eyes
shone.

"How splendid!" she said ardently. "How did you hear it? Do you know
Tancredi?"

The girl shook her head. "My sister knows her," she replied, "and she
told her that Carneri, the director of the Cosmopolitan Company, told
her she should have a place whenever she was pronounced fit by Tancredi.
Pretty great for the Fair Rosamond, isn't it? They say she met him at a
luncheon she gave to Milano and her teacher at the Ritz last week. It
pays to be rich as well as talented, you see."

"Is she really very rich?" asked Patricia, and then was sorry she had
spoken. It seemed as though she were prying into Rosamond's private
affairs.

"Of course. She's old Cedar-tank Merton's only thing," replied the girl
rather flippantly, Patricia thought. "She's hordes and gobs of coin, as
well as being gifted with a voice and a family tree that makes the
California redwoods look like mere bushes. You're with Tancredi, too,
aren't you?"

Patricia nodded.

"I suppose she has a name, though I haven't heard it," the girl said to
Constance, who was chatting with someone at an opposite table.

Constance did not hear her, but Patricia readily supplied the
deficiency.

"I'm Patricia Kendall," she said, feeling rather apologetic for herself,
though she did not know quite why.

"I'm Louise Woods," replied the other. "I'll look you up some time after
I've spotted you and tell you what Tancredi says about _you_."

"Oh, it couldn't be much," cried Patricia in dismay. "I've just begun to
study and Tancredi only bothers with me because a friend of hers asked
her to."

The girl seemed not much impressed. "You've got something up your
sleeve, I think," she smiled as she rose. "Tancredi doesn't cast her
pearls before swine that way."

Patricia watched her making her sociable way out of the room, and she
decided that she liked her.

"I wonder why I never met her before?" she thought, and then realized
how completely Rosamond had blocked her view of all the other girls. "I
guess I'll not be half so lonely as I thought. They all seem so kind."

She felt still better content when, as the twilight gathered and Doris
came to make one of their group, one of the girls went to the big piano
and illustrated her idea of the Swan Song in Lohengrin, striking
passionate chords with her finger-tips and throwing her full-toned
contralto into the dimness with an effect that was thrilling to
Patricia.

Then another girl pushed her from the seat and, interrupting herself
from time to time with explanations of the method, sang part of the
scene where Louise leaves her home.

The magic of the dim hour was on them and they gave themselves to the
music entire. The great winged Victory above the bookshelf showed back
of the singer's dark head. The real everyday world dropped away and a
more real and vital world took its place. One after another, the music
students took their place eagerly on the seat, and sang or played the
melody that was surging within them, to which the magic moment had
given utterance.

Patricia never knew how it ended or if it were herself that was back in
the everyday world of the café, eating dinner with Rosamond as usual, or
whether she was still in that twilit world of melody listening to the
voices, until Rosamond said rather sharply for her:

"Are you ill, Miss Pat, that you look so strange?"

Then Patricia drew herself together and managed to appear as normal as
she could, but her one desire was to get away by herself to gloat over
the riches that had been flung in her lap.

"I'd never, never known how splendid it was if I hadn't left Rosamond,"
she marveled. "Oh, how much I've been missing all this time!"

She was so taken out of herself by the beautiful experience that she
hurried to her room and sat down to write a note to Elinor, begging her
to forgive her silly conduct and her rank ingratitude for all their
care. She made it as strong as that, and when she had sealed it she
went down and put it in the mail-box herself, so eager was she that it
should speed on its way.

She went to her room with a lighter heart and the day ended triumphantly
with her. She counted the good things that had come to her on her
fingers. First, she had cheered Rita Stanford--that she was sure of.
Next, she had not shown any ill feeling towards Rosamond--her visits in
morning and afternoon proved that. And third, she had been received into
the fellowship of the musical set in a way that set her dreaming of the
hour when she, too, might take her place on the seat of the grand piano
in the twilight and sing out what was in her heart. Then, she had
conquered her reluctance to make the first overtures to Elinor, and she
had discovered that the girls in the next room were going to be worth
while.

That finished off one hand and she paused as she began on the other.
What was it the Woods girl had said about Rosamond entertaining Madame
Milano at luncheon last week? Patricia would have thought it a mistake
a week ago, but now she believed Rosamond capable of forgetting to tell
her such a momentous fact.

"She doesn't care for me at all any more," she thought, with a sort of
slow contempt rising through the sadness that the memory had brought
back to her.

"I don't believe she ever did care for me," she said, a few minutes
later. "I think she only tolerated me because she thought that I must be
going to have a wonderful voice since Milano recommended, but when she
found that I was only a stupid beginner, and not worth bothering with,
she forgot I was in existence except when I was in sight."

She had so loved and admired the sumptuous Rosamond and in spite of the
break had felt so little resentment that her feelings were now a
surprise to her.

"I'm getting dreadfully cross-grained, I suppose," she said sadly, as
she sat down again to write to Mrs. Spicer. "I quarreled with Elinor--of
all people--and I've broken off with Rosamond. I must be growing
horrid."

This dismal idea took full possession of her and she sat staring at the
papers strewn on her table, seeing a tragic picture of herself grown
desolate and lone in the long years wherein she lost, one by one, the
friends who had once loved her. Mrs. Nat's puzzled face rose vividly
before her as it had looked across the studio table, and she shook her
head dolefully.

It was not often that Patricia had given way to such a mood, and if
there had been anyone within reach to talk to, she would have shaken it
off before it took full possession of her. But she was alone for the
evening and it had free access. She actually believed that she was grown
unlovable, and the conviction that her voice was not worth considering
haunted her morbidly.

She had, without knowing it, a touch of grippe. Not enough to make her
feel really ill, but merely sufficient to emphasize her dismal
sensations into actual mental misery, and she lay awake half the night
wondering mournfully why she had been allowed to leave the country and
thrust herself among the talented and fortunate. She was really quite
thorough in her distrust of herself.

In the morning she found a messenger with two notes, one from Elinor and
one in Bruce's strong hand, waiting her as she went down to her late
breakfast. Elinor's was very loving, ignoring the disagreeable Sunday
night and telling her that they were suddenly called away on business of
Bruce's, and that Judith, after spending a few days at Rockham with Mrs.
Shelly, was to come to share her room at Artemis for the rest of the
time. All had been arranged with Miss Ardsley by telephone while
Patricia was yet in bed.

Patricia was so excited by this surprising news that she hurried off to
Miss Ardsley's rooms with Bruce's unopened letter still in her hand.

Miss Ardsley explained that Elinor had called up about eight o'clock and
as the Directress had been positive she had seen Patricia cross the
courtyard on her way out just before that hour, she had told Elinor that
her sister was not in.

Patricia had to go away without expressing her indignation at the
mistake, and after she had read Bruce's short note in her own room, she
was glad to remember that she had not sinned again.

"Small Sister Pat," the note ran. "I know it isn't time for the puncture
you requested, but would it bother you if I asked when our own Miss Pat
is coming back? We're mighty lonesome for her. Elinor is dropping some
big tears while she thinks I am not looking, and I know it is because
she misses her old chum. Judy is divided between the desire to go to her
Mama Shelly's and her wish to find her jolly sister Pat. Do you think
you could look her up and tell her we're all sure that she wants to see
us as much as we want to see her?"

Patricia sat for a long time with the note in her hand, and then she put
her golden head down on it and cried heartily.

Then she sat up, and her face showed that the mists were beginning to
clear from that doleful future which had haunted her since last night.

"What a goose I've been, and what a perfect duck Bruce is," she said
heartily and then laughed out loud at her zoological titles. "Oh, how I
wish I'd had a chance to talk to Elinor. She couldn't have my letter by
the time she left, and she must still think me horrid."

She rose and stood looking out of the window at the blue expanse above
the housetops, with part of the smile still lingering on her pink lips.
She knew that she had come back, as Bruce called it, and a delightful
sense of relief stole over her.

"I'm so glad, glad," she whispered, clasping her hands tight against her
breast. "I'll have a chance to show them that I'm really sorry for my
silliness. I'll do something, I'll have something ready for them when
they come back that will prove I'm done with sentimental nonsense now
and for always."

She could not think what it should be, but she knew she could find out
and she turned from the window with the old sunny expression on her
face.

"I'll try to be unselfish, even though I am a failure," she said
determinedly. "Bruce never guessed that it might be quite as hard for a
failure to be unselfish as for a successful person. He's always been
successful, thanks to Aunt Louise and his own splendid self."

The memory of her unknown aunt's secret disappointment came to her now
with a throb of understanding love. The dark, brave face over the desk
in the library at Greycroft rose vividly before her, and, as at other
moments of need, courage and determination flowed from the serene eyes
into Patricia's wistful ones.

"I'll bear my troubles, too," she whispered, smiling back at the vision.
"I'll remember that I am your namesake."



CHAPTER XIV

CONSTANCE'S OTHER SIDE


Whatever Patricia did, she did thoroughly.

She had almost a week before Elinor's return, and she set about finding
something to do that should prove her return to herself, and more even
than that, for she wanted tremendously to be better and stronger than
she had ever been.

The haunting sense of failure was with her, but she would not stop to
listen to it. She practiced her exercises with the greatest care, she
went to the concerts for which she had cards, and, remembering Madame
Milano's song at the Filmore evening, she bought the music and learned
the thing by heart. She was afraid this might not be strictly honorable,
since Tancredi had forbidden her to sing songs, but she had such a
strong conviction that she was already a failure that she hoped she
might be pardoned this solace to herself.

"You're looking a lot gayer since you got settled," said Constance
Fellows one afternoon as she sat in Patricia's room, mending the russet
frock. It looked odd to see Constance with a needle, but she was deft
with it.

"I guess I'm more used to being by myself," replied Patricia, not
wishing to go into details. "I'd never been alone, you know, and it was
strange at first."

Constance nodded, but her clear eyes showed she understood. As she went
on with her sewing she said cheerfully:

"It _is_ better to rub up against all sorts of people. You don't come to
realize what living means till you've seen what the rest of them are up
to. Cotton-wool isn't the environment to bring out beauty, after all."

Patricia smiled absently. "But all the pretty things are put in nice
pink cotton-wool," she said, thinking of the jeweler's boxes in
Rosamond's case.

"Ah, but that's when the pretty things are finished and done," cried
Constance, dropping her work and leaning forward with fire in her eyes.
"How about when they are being shaped? There are hammers there then, and
fires, too, and they are battered into their beautiful shapes with cruel
blows. My word, Patricia Kendall, can't you see it? It takes plenty of
hammering and burning before it gets to the cotton-wool stage."

Patricia caught her earnestness. "The trees and flowers and skies aren't
hammered into shape," she argued, with half a vision of what Constance
meant.

"They are the result of hammering, perhaps," returned Constance quickly,
"but that doesn't matter so much. They're the works of God, and that
sort of thing can just grow, like a lovely disposition, but the things
of earth have to be made into shape with rough hands. Look at the people
you know. How many of the selfish, pampered ones amount to a row of
pins? Can you honestly say that you know anyone who hasn't been the
better for a little hammering?"

Patricia thought swiftly of Doris Leighton, of Mrs. Nat, and she shook
her head.

"That's all that's the matter with the Fair Rosamond," Constance
explained. "She's been in cotton-wool all her life, and it's going to
rob her of her chance to give something to the world----"

She broke off abruptly, seeming to be much moved, and, rising with a
disturbed air, walked up and down for a few minutes while Patricia tried
to go on with her own darning as though nothing unusual had happened.

Constance dropped into her chair with a low laugh. "Don't mind my
preaching, Miss Pat," she said without any suggestion of apology in her
candid tone. "I always get so excited when I'm proclaiming human
rights."

Patricia looked puzzled and she answered quickly: "Human rights--my
rights to the bit of hammering that belongs to me. Auntie, you know,
advocates cotton-wool so strongly that I suppose I'm a bit daft on my
end of the argument."

Patricia had been silent, but she spoke slowly and with a light
breaking on her face. "I believe it's true, Constance," she said
earnestly. "I can see now that it's the only way. I was getting terribly
spoiled in cotton-wool, and----" She stopped because she did not want to
seem to complain of Rosamond. "I'm glad Miss Ardsley got this dear room
for me," she ended brightly, "I've had such fun since I've been here."

She saw that Constance was not too much deceived, and to turn the talk
she seized the first thing that came into her mind.

"Does your aunt still object to your living here?" she asked, and then
was annoyed with herself for her own lack of tact, for she recalled that
it was not Constance but Rosamond who had told her of the aunt's
objections to Artemis Lodge.

Constance laughed easily. "She's coming around," she replied as though
she were used to discussing her private affairs with Patricia. "She is
so pleased with my altar-piece in All Saints that she's ready to
forgive me anything. Auntie is really awfully good."

Patricia was alight at once. "Your altar-piece, Constance?" she cried.
"Oh, how splendid! When did you do it? Why didn't you tell me about it
sooner? Where is it now?"

Constance laughed, yet she was deeply gratified, for she had been more
drawn to Patricia than to any of the others. "It's in All Saints, of
course, where it should be. You didn't think it was in the Bandbox or
the Comique, did you?" she bantered. "Auntie paid for it, and so she's
privileged to criticise, you know."

"Do let me see it," begged Patricia. "I haven't a thing to do this
afternoon. Let's go and see it."

Constance demurred at first and then gave in. "The air will do us good,
anyway," she said, "We've been cooped up here for an hour or more."

Patricia found the altar-piece a revelation of another side of
Constance--a side she had not dreamed of, and she gave it the tribute of
silence for a long five minutes.

Then she spoke very softly: "I know now why you believe in bearing the
everyday toil and trouble of the world. It's because you've been
painting that. Why, Constance, it's--it's--_triumphant_."

Constance was looking at the painting and she forgot she was not
speaking to herself alone.

"And why not?" she said in a deep breath. "He didn't fear that poverty
and pain would keep anyone out of the kingdom of gladness. It was what
He was telling them all the time--those exclusive, rich men who wanted
to get the secret of His serene life. It wasn't that He liked pain and
poverty, but He wanted everyone to know that it was the fear of them
that shut people out of the kingdom of gladness. Why shouldn't He look
triumphant when He'd opened the door so wide?"

Patricia was too much stirred by this revelation of the depths of
Constance's nature to speak, and they soon went out of the dim church
into the sunlight of the avenue, with its roar of hungry life and
surging energies.

"I think I'll run over to Auntie's now that we're so near," said
Constance at the next corner. "You don't mind, do you?"

Patricia didn't in the least mind. She wanted to go for a walk in the
Park and try to catch and put in order the whirling thoughts that pulsed
through her. "I'll see you tonight after dinner," she promised.

The Park was full of people. The spring was in the air. Patricia felt
strange sensations, stirring thoughts which Constance's picture had
called into life.

"The Kingdom of Gladness," she repeated over and over again, making it a
rhythmic march to keep step with. "The Kingdom of Gladness. And I
thought Constance Fellows just a nice, clever, funny girl!"

She looked at the people on the walks and in the vehicles with a new
eye. She wondered if they were putting in their probation for that
kingdom and when she saw a pinched face or a shabby coat, she felt like
crying out to them, "Oh, don't mind it very much, for it's the best way
into the kingdom."

She was very much agitated and excited, and she felt she could not go
back to the Lodge, where she had given a half promise to spend the five
o'clock hour with Rosamond. She walked about for a long time and sat
down on benches when her mood ebbed, starting up again with a shining
face as her emotions got the better of her again.

She was sitting on a bench when she saw Mr. Long coming briskly along
the bridle path on a beautiful bay horse. He did not see her, and she
jumped up and ran over to the side of the path, holding up an eager hand
to attract his attention.

He was off his horse in one moment and shaking hands with her the next.

"This is very jolly," he said heartily. "I didn't know you were in town
or I'd have tried to look you up. Miss Merton told me when we were at
the theater with the Filmores last night that your family had left town
for a while."

Patricia explained, and Mr Long in his turn told her that he was only in
for a brief stay. He needed a secretary, a sort of caretaker for his
chicken books, he said, laughing, and it must be a female person, since
he had determined to bring Danny home from school for good and all, and
he felt that a woman-body was a crying necessity.

Patricia understood at once. "He wouldn't get on with Mrs. Jonas," she
admitted with a smile. "Have you anyone yet?"

Mr. Long had not. He had seen dozens of them, but they were all either
too young or too old or too stupid or too clever.

"It's going to be mighty hard to fit Danny and the hen accounts, too,"
he confessed. "He's so dead set on pretty people, and most of the pretty
ones are stupid or conceited."

Patricia had a sudden thought that made her dimple. "Must she be very
old?" she asked eagerly.

"Mrs. Jonas will chaperone the place as ever," replied Mr. Long. "She's
needed mainly for Danny, if the truth must be told. I've got to try the
mother act on him now. Poor kid, he's never had anything to look up to
in that line."

"I know someone," said Patricia guardedly. "I can't tell you about her
now, but if you'll come to the dance on Friday I'll show her to you and
you can do the rest."

Mr. Long thought Friday was too far off, but Patricia was firm, and he
ended by saying he'd come. They parted at the next entrance and Patricia
hurried off to Artemis Lodge feeling much elated.

"I'll ask Doris about it in a roundabout way, so she'll say just what
she thinks," she planned, and she was so eager to seek out Doris that
she hurried through her dinner before Rosamond had begun on her first
mouthful, excusing herself by saying that she had some business on hand
that would not wait.

She found Doris in her room, trying to make up her accounts, and the
process was evidently not very agreeable work, for she flung down the
pen at Patricia's knock and slammed the covers of the book with unusual
vigor.

"I never can bear to face that horrid book," she confessed with a little
laugh. "I'm always spending more than I should and it makes me so
ashamed of myself, when Mother needs so many things."

Patricia was finding it very easy. She had not much trouble in learning
that Doris was in search of a more paying position. Her domestic science
was only half a day's work and she needed more. Patricia thought it safe
to hint at something that might be in sight if she came to the dance on
Friday.

Doris had not intended going to the dance, since her gowns were rather
shabby and she could not think of anything new, but on Patricia's
insisting, she said she would go if she could be late. She had a lesson
in French at the Settlement House--Patricia almost shook her head at the
thought of Doris taking free lessons in anything until she recollected
the Kingdom of Gladness--and she could not afford to miss it.

"I'll wait for you," Patricia promised. "I haven't any guests--or only
someone who won't mind. Come over to my room for me, and we'll go down
together."

Constance met her on her way to the Red Salon, where the girls often
gathered after dinner for chat, the Blue Salon across the way being
reserved for reception of visitors.

"The dance is going to be quite wonderfully fine," she told her with as
eager interest as ever a girl showed in a party. "Auntie's coming and
I'm going to have a splendid, gorgeous new dress. I've planned it all
out since I made up my mind. I'll get the stuff tomorrow and have it
made in a jiffy."

Patricia looked at her in some wonder, until she remembered that the
kingdom Constance was trying to enter was one of gladness.

"Of course you want to have a good time," she said aloud. "What color is
it to be?" meaning the dress.

"Yellow--goldy yellow," replied Constance deliciously. "And I'm going
the whole length, gold slippers and all!"

Patricia beamed. "You'll look perfectly stunning," she said, and then
she caught her breath. "Who's playing?" she asked, with a look toward
the open door.

Constance listened. "That must be the little Polish countess," she
replied. "No one else does it that way."

Patricia had a vision of a fascinating, elegant creature with sorrowful
eyes and plenty of furs, and she gave a little cry of expectation.

"Come along. She's beginning the 'Papillion'," she cried. "And I simply
can't miss it."



CHAPTER XV

PATRICIA DECIDES TO MAKE THE BEST OF IT


"Oh!" said Patricia on the threshold.

"S-s-sh!" warned a number of restrained voices.

They smiled kindly at her as she stood in the doorway, though they
plainly would not tolerate an interruption. Patricia had not meant to
interrupt. She was only surprised.

The firelight played over the lounging figures of the girls who were
grouped about the dim warm-colored room, lighting up a golden head or
the gleam of some piece of polished furniture or glass, picking out the
faces of some of the intent listeners and flinging a ruddy shadow over
others, flickering over the grand piano and the figure seated before it.

Patricia had cried out her "Oh" at the sight of this figure. It was so
very different from her idea of what a countess--and a Polish one, at
that--should be that it gave her quite a shock, and for the tiniest
fraction of a second made her forget even the Grieg music.

The little woman at the piano was small and rather wrinkled, and was
wearing an old-fashioned ulster which fitted her small form rather
carelessly. The small sealskin cap on her drab hair did not even pretend
to be a stylish one. It was rather worn, even in the kindly firelight,
and gave an emphasis to the shabbiness of the whole figure.

Patricia sank down beside Rita Stanford and stared under cover of the
fire-flicker. How disappointing some countesses were!

But she did not stare long. She soon forgot there was a shabby figure at
the big piano, because she was seeing the butterfly soaring up and up in
the sunshine, with the jewels glowing on his gorgeous wings, wings that
were soon to be broken and trailing. She saw the pulsing of the broken
wings, and felt the pity that was pulsing through the sunny world at
this darkening tragedy. The wings pulsed slower and slower. The
butterfly was dead!

Patricia found her eyes wet, and she heard the soft applause in a sort
of daze--the music that melted her also always intoxicated her--and she
sat without a word till the countess began again.

It was Shubert's Fantasia Impromptu this time, and there was absolute
silence as it ended.

The little shabby countess gave them a moment for recovery, and then,
whirling about on the stool, she said, with only a trace of accent:

"That is my farewell. Tomorrow I leave for the home-land."

There was a chorus of questions at this and that ended the music.
Patricia enjoyed the humorous chatter of the experienced, happy-go-lucky
countess, and she laughed over her accounts of her travels and
privations while lecturing in the West and writing books at odd times,
but she did not want to rub out the "Papillion" and she soon left the
Red Salon and took her way to her own room, thinking of a number of
things.

"She's had a hard time, too," she thought. "I suppose she'd never have
played so if she hadn't known trouble and tragedy, too, perhaps. Oh,
dear, it's very comforting when one is rather in low spirits and things
have gone wrong, but it doesn't look half so attractive when there's fun
ahead."

She shook her head and then laughed her rippling laugh at herself. "I'm
getting too deep," she warned herself. "I've got to stay where I can
touch bottom. Constance may go far ahead, but I've got to go slow or
I'll be getting silly again on the other side."

She kept to this wise decision and whenever she found herself beginning
to pose as a being enlightened through suffering she made a face at
herself in the quaint mirror and ran away to do something "plain and
practical" for someone.

And so the days sped and Judith came back from Rockham full of news and
wondering greatly at the change in her dear Miss Pat.

"You're awfully meek now, aren't you?" she asked her suddenly, after
Judith's little trunk had been unpacked and the things stowed in the
most convenient drawers. "You used to be nice, but you didn't give up to
younger persons like you do now."

Patricia started to say that she had learned a great lesson, but she
caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror, and she said instead that she
was treating Judith as a guest now, and so she had to be polite.

Judith was only half convinced. She had not been studying people's faces
and searching for meanings in their expressions all these months for
nothing. The tales about Rockham alone would have sharpened her to that
extent.

"You're different," she said positively. "And I don't know whether I
like you better or not. You seem too good to be true, somehow."

Patricia's derisive laughter only made her more emphatic. "You aren't
half so gay as you were, and you practice as though you were doing a
lesson instead of because you couldn't help it, like you used to," she
declared. "You're nice to that gorgeous Rosamond Merton and you let her
wipe her feet on you every time you go in there. I've seen how meek you
are. If it wasn't you," she said with a pucker in her brow, "I'd think
you were up to something. Why don't you sing like you used to?"

Patricia said that she had been at a song, but it was not to be known,
and she made Judith promise not to tell Constance or anyone else at home
before she would sit down at the shining piano Bruce had got a musical
friend to select for her, and sang the song through to its end.

Judith still looked puzzled. "It's lovely, of course. Your voice always
is," she said loyally. "But somehow it doesn't _ring_. The glad sound
has gone out of it. That's it!"

Patricia had been knowing it herself ever since she had realized that
Tancredi was only keeping her for friendship's sake, and it had been
almost too much to bear alone. Without thinking, she blurted it out.

"I can't really sing, after all, Ju," she told her passionately.
"Tancredi is only keeping me on for this quarter and then she'll let me
down."

Judith was aghast, but she kept her head. "When did she tell you?" she
demanded sharply.

"She hasn't just exactly told me in words," confessed Patricia. "But
she's shown me very clearly. And Madame Milano hasn't ever asked to see
me again, though I know she's seen Rosamond twice since I went to the
'Hour' at her hotel. If I hadn't been with Bruce and Elinor to hear her
in opera every time she sang, I'd never known she was in New York at
all."

Judith was very white and still. At last she said with conviction, "I
think you're making a mistake, Miss Pat. I don't believe it's true that
you aren't going to be a success. You know how you tried and tried to
make yourself ready and fit for the music, and I don't believe that all
that hard work is going to be wasted."

Patricia smiled with the new knowledge that had so recently come to her.
"Oh, Judy dear, you are too young to understand," she said with serene
satisfaction; "but it will not be wasted. One must suffer to grow glad."

Judith opened her eyes. "Now I know you're queer," she declared with a
wag of her head that made her uneven mane quiver. "You didn't use to
talk such stuff."

Patricia wanted to tell her it wasn't stuff, but somehow she could not
find the right words to explain her feelings, and so she left it go,
feeling very old and wise indeed beside the crude, inexperienced Judith.

They had a very good time together, nevertheless, and Judith made
friends with the girls in a way that pleased and surprised Patricia.
"That kid sister of yours is a wonder," said the slangy ones, and the
others declared that Judith was a dear. Altogether, Patricia had never
enjoyed Judith's company so much.

"I'm sorry you can't come to the dance," she told her with regret, but
Judith did not care in the least, she said. She was going to spend the
night with Rita Stanford, with whom she had struck up a close
friendship--the first that Patricia had known her to make.

She seemed much absorbed in Rita. She took walks with her while Patricia
was at her lesson or otherwise occupied, and she went to afternoon
service with her. She was so much with Rita when not with Patricia that
it was a surprise to Patricia to see her coming in the afternoon of the
dance entirely alone and wearing a rapturous expression. She said she
had been doing an errand and Patricia was too much occupied with the
finishing touches to her white net--she was putting the dearest bunches
of apple blossoms at odd places on the skirt and waist--to be too
inquisitive.

She noticed that Judith hung about her, seeming to be trying to make up
her mind to say something, but she did not stop to ask what it was, as
she supposed it merely a trifling comment or criticism on her dress.

She sent Judith over to Constance's room to borrow a spool of pink silk
and then forgot her in the delightful task of deciding whether the apple
blossoms ought to go on the sleeves or not.

Judith came back with the spool and a yellow envelope which she had
signed for. "That's what made me so long," she explained, but Patricia
had hardly missed her.

The telegram was from Elinor. They were coming back and would be at the
dance. "Coming home tonight. Save a dance for Bruce. Love. Elinor."

Patricia was wild with delight. "Oh, Judy, won't it be fine?" she cried
with quite her old gay laugh. "I'm so glad they're coming."

But before Judith could add her rejoicings the bright look had died into
a quieter expression and Patricia said, "I was forgetting that you
weren't going to be there. I wish, oh, I wish you could go."

"Well, I can't and there's an end of it," said Judith calmly. "And I
hear Rita beginning to get things ready. We're going to make fudge, so
I'll have to be off."

She was at the door before she remembered. "Constance told me she'd stop
on her way down for you if you changed your mind about going late," she
said briskly. "She wants you to see her dress, anyway, before anything
happens to it. She says she's sure to wreck it. She's so used to good
tough stuff that she'll walk right through this one."

Patricia nodded brightly and Judith hurried off across the hall, where
Rita's welcome reached Patricia's ears. "Dear old Ju," she thought
fondly. "She's always doing the right thing. She's such a comfort."

Then she smiled to herself at Constance's message. "It's good of her to
come away over here, when the ball-room is so near her," she said
gratefully. "I'll be glad to see her dress. She's been so secret about
it."

Her face grew wistful as she thought of the dance. "I'll have a good
time, I suppose," she said slowly. "Rosamond will sing, and that will
make me remember I'm a failure. But Bruce and Elinor and Constance will
be there, and I can have the fun of showing Doris to Mr. Long without
her knowing it."

This brought the light into her eyes again, and she held up her golden
head very bravely.

"I'll have a good time," she said again, with a nod at the mirror. "I
may be a failure as a singer, but I needn't be as a human critter, as
Hannah Ann calls us."



CHAPTER XVI

THE DOOR OPENS AGAIN


Patricia had got into her apple-blossom dress and had smiled at herself
with a good deal of real satisfaction.

"You do look very nice," she said to the girl in the mirror. "If you
were only a little bit less addicted to yourself, my child, you'd not be
half bad. That's a thing you're going to get over, though, so I won't
scold you tonight about it."

She shut off the light and sat down by the window to watch the first
arrivals. The night was warm, even for spring, and the window was open.

"It's just like being at the play," she told herself, smiling into the
warm darkness. "I'm glad I had to wait for Doris."

The courtyard was light with torches and the entrance was ablaze with
torches and the windows across the quadrangle she could see figures
moving to and fro, shadows fell on the curtained oblongs and inside the
open ones she saw girls who were late in dressing getting frantically
ready, others who were putting on their gloves, and still others with
their guests even making ready to go down to the ball-room, which was
the transformed tea-room not to be seen from Patricia's point of
vantage.

Maids came and went across the courtyard. The first guests came in a
straggling fashion, and then suddenly everyone seemed to be rushing in
at once. Patricia laughed as she recognized the tall, lanky figure of
Bob Wetherill, whose attachment to Rosamond Merton was the bane of that
young lady's life. Then she gave a little cry. She had recognized Bruce
and Elinor.

She flew down to them for a rapturous greeting and though the courtyard
was filled with hurrying people she hugged both of them heartily,
dropping some tears of real delight on her own apple blossoms.

"I'll be down later," she told them. "I'm waiting for Doris Leighton. Do
look after Mr. Long if he comes in before I do, and for goodness sake
tell him not to breathe a word about what I was talking to him about in
the Park the other day."

"Mysteries, and with your late rival in the hen-yard?" cried Bruce with
feigned concern. "I'll have to look into this later, Miss Pat, and see
what you've been up to behind our backs."

"You'll find out later, I hope," laughed Patricia, giving Elinor another
squeeze before she ran off laughing at the thought of her conspiracy
with Mr. Long coming under Bruce's notice in this unexpected way.

"I had to tell him," she thought, as she hurried back to her post. "He
might have found it out before it came to anything and then I'd have
felt so silly."

As she sat down again she thought she heard the door open and she asked,
"Is that you, Constance?"

It was Judith with her kimono over her nightdress and her bare feet
poked into her slippers. She came over and cuddled down beside Patricia.

"Don't send me back right away, please. I have something to tell you,
Miss Pat," she said earnestly, and Patricia made room for her on the
wide seat.

"What is it, Judy-pudy?" she asked kindly. "Bad dreams?"

Judith gave a little sound that seemed to mean satisfaction with the
question. "Oh, no, not bad dreams," she answered happily, cuddling
closer. "Not bad dreams. Very pleasant ones. About you, Patricia."

Patricia patted her. "Tell me," she said, not because she wanted to hear
the dream, but to please Judith.

"I dreamed," began Judith, sitting up to look earnestly in Patricia's
face in the dim light reflected from the courtyard. "I dreamed that you
were unhappy and it was because you thought that you would never be a
real singer."

Patricia interrupted her with a little laugh. "Sounds perilously like
wide-awake news to me, Ju," she said lightly, determined to conquer the
idea which possessed her small sister that she was unhappy over her
discovery of failure. "We've put that on the shelf long ago, you and I."

Judith went on, scanning her face. "I dreamed that you cried about it
when no one saw you and that you felt you'd never be happy again. Now
don't say 'Stuff,' for it's true. And I couldn't bear it, so I thought
and thought and then I went out and walked straight down to Tancredi's
and I asked for her, and found her in. She was in the music-room and I
went in and said, 'I am Judith Kendall, and I've come to ask about my
sister.'"

"Good little Ju," said Patricia as she took breath. "I believe you could
really have done it."

It was rather dim to read expressions, but she thought a strange look
flitted across the eager face that was staring so hard at her. "You
mustn't take it so seriously, Judy," she said, but Judith went on.

"'I've come to see if it's true that she'll never be a great singer and
I know you'll tell me,' I said to Madame Tancredi, and she just put her
arm about me and kissed me quite hard."

"That's what she would have done. How did you guess it?" cried
Patricia.

"And she said very seriously, 'Your sister, my dear, is going to be the
greatest singer I have ever taught, if she keeps on as she has begun, or
if some stupid silly one doesn't take her from the only right method.'"

Patricia felt a surge of agonizing regret for all the bright hopes that
she had lost forever, but she tried to laugh down into Judith's eager
face.

"That sounds exactly like Tancredi," she declared. "How strange you
should dream it so truly."

"It sounds true, doesn't it?" persisted Judith. "Should you be very
cross with me if it weren't all a dream, Miss Pat?"

Patricia's heart stopped beating for a moment and then it leaped to her
throat.

"What do you mean, Judith?" she called out, clutching her tightly by the
shoulders. "What are you trying to tell me?"

"Ow! you hurt!" returned Judith, wriggling, and then she responded to
the agony of appeal in Patricia's big gray eyes. "It isn't a dream. It's
true," she said. "I went this afternoon."

Patricia could not take it in for a while. She had to question Judith
again and again before she could accept this gift from the dark heavens.

"Are you sure?" she asked over and over until Judith became impatient.

"I may be only fourteen and a half and very small for my age," she said
with withering dignity, "but I surely know what happened just this
afternoon. I'm going back to bed now, and you can believe me or not just
as you please," and in spite of Patricia's protest, she stalked away and
slammed the door behind her--a very unusual thing for Judith.

Patricia sat by the window in a trance of delight. The future glowed
with all its old alluring colors and new ones were shining out every
time she looked ahead. She was to be a singer after all. What did
anything else matter?

Suddenly she laughed aloud and jumping up she ran to the mirror and
snapped on the light to make a radiant face at the girl in the frame.

"We'll try to put up with being a failure as a martyr, won't we, my
dear?" she said breathlessly. "Oh, how hard we'll try not to grow too
pleased with ourselves now! Just remind me about it when I'm getting
top-lofty, will you, please? I'm afraid I'll forget to be meek."

"What's that you're talking about?" asked Constance's voice, and
Patricia turned to see her standing smiling in the doorway.

"Oh, oh, you lovely thing!" she cried in instant approval. "Why, I'd
never known you in that heavenly rig."

"Thanks for the tactful way you pay tribute to my frock," replied
Constance smoothly. "It is rather nice, so I forgive you on the spot."

"Nice?" exclaimed Patricia with scorn for the word. "Nice! It's
splendid, gorgeous, _transcendent_. Nice, indeed! Turn around and let me
drink you in."

Constance turned. The dress was of dull gold-colored net with great
flowers about its hem wrought into the net with gold thread and the
bodice was one great gold flower with trailing net for sleeves. Gold
bands held down Constance's dark hair, and the simplicity of the whole
made it suitable.

"I think I shall stay here and look at myself," she said with quaint
gravity. "It's been so long since I've had a real whole dress that I
fear it has turned my head. I'll be asking everybody what they think of
it if I go down."

Patricia pushed her out the door. "They'll tell you without asking," she
promised. "I wonder what Rosamond will say when she sees you."

At that Constance came back into the room and closed the door.

"Rosamond won't be here, after all," she said with a little laugh. "She
sent word to her father to do the polite thing to Madame Milano when she
came to sing in Boston, and her father sent a special car down for
Rosamond to take Milano up to the Hub. She's on her way now. That's
going some, isn't it?"

She evidently wanted to break the news to Patricia before she learned
from others, and she seemed surprised at Patricia's easy acceptance of
it.

"You're getting to be a wise child," she said with an approving nod.
"You know that it isn't always the highest flier that gets there the
soonest. Keep smiling, my dear, and it won't hurt half so much."

Patricia did smile, not so much at the slang as at the friendly spirit
which prompted it. "It doesn't hurt at all now," she answered,
truthfully, and then she told Constance of Judith's visit.

Constance was delighted. "Plucky Judith!" she cried. "Lucky Miss Pat.
You're about the happiest girl in the world just now, aren't you?"

"Just about," Patricia confessed.

"I'm not so wretched either," said Constance with a whirl of her golden
draperies. "I've come out of the woods myself. Auntie is so pleased with
my altar-piece that she's giving in at last. I'm to go home next week
and I can go to night life or anything else I please. She considers me
safe since I could paint that picture. Funny, isn't it, that she
couldn't have known me for herself?"

Patricia congratulated her with great sincerity. "I'll miss you
terribly, but I'm glad for your sake," she said warmly. "You really need
someone to look after you."

Constance pretended to be indignant. "After all the mending I've done in
your presence, too!" she cried reproachfully. "I'll not stay to be
maligned like that."

She stopped at the door to add joyfully, "Do come down soon. I want you
to meet Auntie," and she then turned again to go, but again halted.

"Hello, here's the Lodge beauty in all her loveliness," she said,
welcoming Doris Leighton with a cordial handshake. "Come, Doris, let's
grab the future prima donna and tote her to the ball-room. I don't
believe she'll ever get there by herself."

Doris was lovely, even though her dress was not so radiant as
Constance's nor so fresh as Patricia's, and her serene face shone at the
news which Constance poured out to her on the way down. She could
rejoice in other people's good fortune, Patricia saw and, remembering
the Doris Leighton of the Academy days, marveled at her calm
unselfishness.

"Do come over and say how-do-you-do to Elinor and Bruce," she begged,
catching sight of them across the room. "I want you to meet Mr. Long who
is with them, Doris."

Constance chuckled. "Talk about clothes bringing one into the
limelight," she commented. "Here I am all done up beautifully and I'm
passed over for a mere beauty. I won't come and meet your snippy Mr.
Long, Miss Pat. I know him, anyway, and he engaged a couple of dances
with me when I met him in the corridor going over to your room. I'll
find Auntie, and wait for you, when you're through with your Longs and
such."

It was delightful to find herself again in the bright world of her hopes
again, and even the dullest place would have seemed radiant to Patricia
that night, but the ball-room with its flowers and music, with its
pretty girls and agreeable men, remained in her memory as a sort of
Olympian festivity, part dream, part reality, long after she had
forgotten the names of the men Bruce brought for her to dance with.

She had introduced Mr. Long to Doris and left her with him and Elinor as
she went off to dance with Bruce. "I think he'll like her," she said,
with a backward glance, and when Bruce demanded an explanation she told
him all about it.

"Do you think it a good plan?" she asked rather anxiously. Bruce's good
opinion meant much to her always.

"Fine," he replied with such heartiness that she feared he was joking. A
glance at his serious face convinced her of her mistake.

"It'll be the very place for Doris," he said, "Mrs. Jonas will be quite
devoted to her in her way, and Danny will love her at sight. Long, of
course, will have to put up with her for the sake of the others," he
added with a twinkle.

Patricia pretended not to understand, though Rosamond Merton's words
about the "next girl" came back to her. "I'm not going to have Doris
laughed about," she said warmly. "You know she's the dearest girl we
know."

"Outside the family, I believe she does stand pretty high," admitted
Bruce, with a smile down into his partner's eyes. "Small Sister Pat, may
I tell you how glad I am?" he asked in a lower tone.

Patricia thought he meant about Tancredi's verdict, and she beamed on
him. "It's too splendid, isn't it?" she exulted, and then he stared and
had to be told.

He carried her back to Elinor and there he scolded her well for ever
doubting that they would have allowed her to go on if there had not been
definite promise in her.

"Tancredi told me herself when I went to see her about you that she
would take no one, however recommended, unless they were going to make
good," he said sternly. "You unbelieving little wretch, what right had
you to make yourself miserable without telling us about it?"

Elinor drew her closer as she rose to meet Mr. Long, who had left Doris
Leighton with Constance's aunt and was coming to claim her for the next
dance.

"Never mind, Pat dear," she said with her brightest look of love. "It's
all come out splendidly and you've learned how much you really care for
it. That's something, you know."

Mr. Long nodded at Patricia as he addressed Elinor. "I am sorry to be
late for my dance," he said, with significant emphasis; "but I was
making plans with my new secretary and the time passed quickly."

Elinor did not understand that it was Doris he was speaking of and she
smiled her acquiescence and went gracefully out on the floor.

Bruce sat down in her vacant chair next to Patricia. "And now your mind
is at rest about your friend's future," he said with his nicest smile,
"let's talk about your own."

Patricia laid an eager hand on his arm. "Oh, Bruce dear, we won't have
time," she bubbled. "It's going to be so long till I have a future. I
have to study for ages and ages, and, you know, something might, _might_
happen to me. Don't let's plan too far ahead. I'm just looking forward
to finishing up the spring here at Artemis Lodge, studying with
Tancredi, and then I'll be ready to go out to dear old Greycroft with
the rest of you to see the summer through. What's behind that I'd rather
not think about just now. I'm so glad, glad, _glad_ to come back to the
dear hopes, after I thought I'd lost them!"

Bruce smiled again at her flushed face. "You've come back with something
in your hands, Miss Pat," he said with kindly gravity. "I think I see
unselfishness and courage in them now."

And as Patricia's eyes filled with grateful tears, he rose, holding out
a hand to her.

"Come and see Constance's aunt," he invited. "We've no right to be
gossipping here all night."

Patricia sprang up with her eyes alight. "It's all come out right after
all," she whispered to herself. "Oh, how happy I am, and how hard I'll
try to study. I won't mind waiting a long, long time for the future. I
am so glad, glad, _glad_ that it's there!"

As she followed Bruce across the room her face was glowing with rosy
hope. She whispered to herself, "Some day I shall sing in the light,
too. And tomorrow I shall sing the little song Milano sang, and Judy
shall tell me that the ring has come back to it."





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