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Title: Patty's Summer Days
Author: Wells, Carolyn, 1862-1942
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 "Patty's Summer Days" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



PATTY'S SUMMER DAYS

by

CAROLYN WELLS

Author of "Idle Idylls," "Patty in the City," etc.

Illustrated



[Illustration]



New York Dodd, Mead & Company 1909

Copyright, 1906, by
Dodd, Mead & Company

Published, September, 1906



To
ELEANOR SHIPLEY HALSEY



CONTENTS

CHAPTER                             PAGE
      I  A Gay Household               1
     II  Wedding Bells                13
    III  Atlantic City                27
     IV  Lessons Again                40
      V  A New Home                   53
     VI  Busy Days                    66
    VII  A Rescue                     79
   VIII  Commencement Day             92
     IX  The Play                    105
      X  A Motor Trip                118
     XI  Dick Phelps                 130
    XII  Old China                   143
   XIII  A Stormy Ride               155
    XIV  Pine Branches               169
     XV  Miss Aurora Bender          182
    XVI  A Quilting Party            195
   XVII  A Summer Christmas          208
  XVIII  At Sandy Cove               221
    XIX  Rosabel                     234
     XX  The Rolands                 246
    XXI  The Crusoes                 259
   XXII  The Bazaar Of All Nations   271
  XXIII  The End Of The Summer       287



ILLUSTRATIONS

"Patty fairly reveled in Nan's beautiful trousseau"             8

"'There, you can see for yourself, there ain't no chip or
crack into it'"                                               147

"Although a successful snapshot was only achieved after
many attempts"                                                176

"Patty arrayed herself in a flowered silk of Dresden effect"  203

"In a few minutes Patty was feeding Rosabel bread and milk"   234



PATTY'S SUMMER DAYS

CHAPTER I

A GAY HOUSEHOLD


"Isn't Mrs. Phelps too perfectly sweet! That is the loveliest fan I ever
laid eyes on, and to think it's mine!"

"And _will_ you look at this? A silver coffee-machine! Oh, Nan, mayn't I
make it work, sometimes?"

"Indeed you may; and oh, see this! A piece of antique Japanese bronze!
Isn't it _great?_"

"I don't like it as well as the sparkling, shiny things. This silver tray
beats it all hollow. Did you ever see such a brightness in your life?"

"Patty, you're hopelessly Philistine! But that tray is lovely, and of an
exquisite design."

Patty and Nan were unpacking wedding presents, and the room was strewn
with boxes, tissue paper, cotton wool, and shredded-paper packing.

Only three days more, and then Nan Allen was to marry Mr. Fairfield,
Patty's father.

Patty was spending the whole week at the Allen home in Philadelphia, and
was almost as much interested in the wedding preparations as Nan herself.

"I don't think there's anything so much fun as a house with a wedding
fuss in it," said Patty to Mrs. Allen, as Nan's mother came into the room
where the girls were.

"Just wait till you come to your own wedding fuss, and then see if you
think it's so much fun," said Nan, who was rapidly scribbling names of
friends to whom she must write notes of acknowledgment for their gifts.

"That's too far in the future even to think of," said Patty, "and
besides, I must get my father married and settled, before I can think of
myself."

She wagged her head at Nan with a comical look, and they all laughed.

It was a great joke that Patty's father should be about to marry her dear
girl friend. But Patty was mightily pleased at the prospect, and looked
forward with happiness to the enlarged home circle.

"The trouble is," said Patty, "I don't know what to call this august
personage who insists on becoming my father's wife."

"I shall rule you with a rod of iron," said Nan, "and you'll stand so in
awe of me, that you won't dare to call me anything."

"You think so, do you?" said Patty saucily. "Well, just let me inform
you, Mrs. Fairfield, that is to be, that I intend to lead you a dance!
You'll be responsible for my manners and behaviour, and I wish you joy of
your undertaking. I think I shall call you _Stepmamma_."

"Do," said Nan placidly, "and I'll call you Stepdaughter Patricia."

"Joking aside," said Patty, "honestly, Nan, I am perfectly delighted that
the time is coming so soon to have you with us. Ever since last fall I
have waited patiently, and it seemed as if Easter would never come. Won't
we have good times though after you get back from your trip and we get
settled in that lovely house in New York! If only I didn't have to go to
school, and study like fury out of school, too, we could have heaps of
fun."

"I'm afraid you're studying too hard, Patty," said Mrs. Allen, looking at
her young guest.

"She is, Mother," said Nan, "and I wish she wouldn't. Why do you do it,
Patty?"

"Well, you see, it's this way. I found out the first of the year that I
was ahead of my class in some studies, and that if I worked extra hard I
could get ahead on the other studies, and,--well, I can't exactly explain
it, but it's like putting two years' work into one; and then I could
graduate from the Oliphant school this June, instead of going there
another year, as I had expected. Then, if I do that, Papa says I may stay
home next year, and just have masters in music and French, and whatever
branches I want to keep up. So I'm trying, but I hardly think I can pass
the examinations after all."

"Well, you're not going to study while you're here," said Mrs. Allen,
"and after we get Nan packed off on Thursday, you and I are going to have
lovely times. You must stay with me as long as you can, for I shall be
dreadfully lonesome without my own girl."

"Thank you, dear Mrs. Allen, I am very happy here, and I love to stay
with you; but of course I can stay only as long as our Easter vacation
lasts. I must go back to New York the early part of next week."

"Well, we'll cram all the fun possible into the few days you are here
then," and Patty's gay little hostess bustled away to look after her
household appointments.

Mrs. Allen was of a social, pleasure-loving nature. Indeed, it was often
said that she cared more for parties and festive gatherings than did her
daughter Nan.

Nobody was surprised to learn that Nan Allen was to marry a man many
years older than herself. The surprise came when they met Mr. Fairfield
and discovered that that gentleman appeared to be much younger than he
undoubtedly was.

For Patty's father, though nearly forty years old, had a frank, ingenuous
manner, and a smile that was almost boyish in its gaiety.

Mrs. Allen was in her element superintending her daughter's wedding, and
the whole affair was to be on a most elaborate scale. Far more so than
Nan herself wished, for her tastes were simple, and she would have
preferred a quieter celebration of the occasion.

But as Mrs. Allen said, it was her last opportunity to provide an
entertainment for her daughter, and she would not allow her plans to be
thwarted.

So preparations for the great event went busily on. Carpenters came and
enclosed the wide verandas, and decorators came and hung the newly made
walls with white cheese cloth, and trimmed them with garlands of green.
The house was invaded with decorators, caterers, and helpers of all
sorts, while neighbours and friends of Mrs. Allen and of Nan flew in and
out at all hours.

The present-room was continually thronged by admiring friends who never
tired of looking at the beautiful gifts already upon the tables, or
watching the opening of new ones.

"There's the thirteenth cut-glass ice-tub," said Nan, as she tore the
tissue paper wrapping from an exquisite piece of sparkling glass. "I
should think it an unlucky number if I didn't feel sure that one or two
more would come yet."

"What are you going to do with them all, Nan?" asked one of her girl
friends; "shall you exchange any of your duplicate gifts?"

"No indeed," said Nan, "I'm too conservative and old-fashioned to
exchange my wedding gifts. I shall keep the whole thirteen, and then when
one gets broken, I can replace it with another. Accidents will happen,
you know."

"But not thirteen times, and all ice-tubs!" said Patty, laughing. "You'll
have to use them as individuals, Nan. When you give a dinner party of
twelve, each guest can have a separate ice-tub, which will be very
convenient."

"I don't care," said Nan, taking the jest good-humouredly, "I shall keep
them all, no matter how many I get. And I always did like ice-tubs,
anyway."

Another great excitement was when Nan's gowns were sent home from the
dressmaker's. Patty was frankly fond of pretty clothes, and she fairly
revelled in Nan's beautiful _trousseau_. To please Patty, the bride-elect
tried them all on, one after another, and each seemed more beautiful than
the one before. When at last Nan stood arrayed in her bridal gown, with
veil and orange blossoms complete, Patty's ecstacy knew no bounds.

"You are a picture, Nan!" she cried. "A perfect dream! I never saw such a
beautiful bride. Oh, I am so glad you're coming to live with us, and then
I can try on that white satin confection and prance around in it myself."

They all laughed at this, and Nan exclaimed, in mock reproach:

"I'd like to see you do it, Miss! Prance around in my wedding gown,
indeed! Have you no more respect for your elderly and antiquated
Stepmamma than that?"

Patty giggled at Nan's pretended severity, and danced round her, patting
a fold here, and picking out a bow there, and having a good time
generally.

The next day there was a luncheon, to which Mrs. Allen had invited a
number of Nan's dearest girl friends.

Patty enjoyed this especially, for not only did she dearly love a pretty
affair of this sort, but Mrs. Allen had let her help with the
preparations, and Patty had even suggested some original ideas which
found favour in Mrs. Allen's eyes.

Over the table was suspended a floral wedding bell, which was supplied
with not only one clapper, but a dozen. These clappers were ingenious
little contrivances, and from each hung a long and narrow white ribbon.
After the luncheon, each ribbon was apportioned to a guest, and at a
given signal the ribbons were pulled, whereupon each clapper sprang open,
and a tiny white paper fluttered down to the table.

[Illustration: "Patty fairly reveled in Nan's beautiful trousseau"]

These papers each bore the name of one of the guests, and when opened
were found to contain a rhymed jingle foretelling in a humorous way the
fate of each girl. Patty had written the merry little verses, and they
were read aloud amid much laughter and fun.

As Patty did not know these Philadelphia girls very well, many of her
verses which foretold their fates were necessarily merely graceful little
jingles, without any attempt at special appropriateness.

One which fell to the lot of a dainty little golden-haired girl ran thus:

                Your cheeks are red, your eyes are blue;
                Your hair is gold, your heart is too.

Another which was applied to a specially good-humoured maiden read thus:

            The longer you live the sweeter you'll grow;
            Your fair cup of joy shall have no trace of woe.

But some of the girls had special hopes or interests, and these Patty
touched upon. An aspiring music lover was thus warned:

                   If you would really learn to play,
                   Pray practice seven hours a day,
                   And then perhaps at last you may.

And an earnest art student received this somewhat doubtful encouragement:

                      You'll try to paint in oil,
                      And your persistent toil,
                      Will many a canvas spoil.

Patty's own verse was a little hit at her dislike for study, and her
taste in another direction:

                  Little you care to read a book,
                  But, goodness me, how you can cook!

Nan's came last of all, and she read it aloud amid the gay laughter of
the girls:

             Ere many days shall pass o'er your fair head,
             Your fate is, pretty lady, to be wed;
             Yet scarcely can you be a happy wife,
             For Patty F. will lead you such a life!

The girls thought these merry little jingles great fun, and each
carefully preserved her "fortune" to take home as a souvenir of the
occasion.

Bumble Barlow was at this luncheon, for the Barlows were friends and near
neighbours of the Allens.

Readers who knew Patty in her earlier years, will remember Bumble as the
cousin who lived at the "Hurly-Burly" down on Long Island.

Although Bumble was a little older, and insisted on being called by her
real name of Helen, she was the same old mischievous fly-away as ever.
She was delighted to see Patty again, and coaxed her to come and stay
with them, instead of with the Allens. But Mrs. Allen would not hear of
such an arrangement, and could only be induced to give her consent that
Patty should spend one day with the Barlows during her visit in
Philadelphia.

The short time that was left before the wedding day flew by as if on
wings. So much was going on both in the line of gaiety and entertainment,
and also by way of preparation for the great event, that Patty began to
wonder whether social life was not, after all, as wearing as the more
prosaic school work.

But Mrs. Allen said, when this question was referred to her, "Not a bit
of it! All this gaiety does you good, Patty. You need recreation from
that everlasting grind of school work, and you'll go back to it next week
refreshed, and ready to do better work than ever."

"I'm sure of it," said Patty, "and I shall never forget the fun we're
having this week. It's just like a bit of Fairyland. I've never had such
an experience before."

Patty's life had been one of simple pleasures and duties. She had a great
capacity for enjoyment, but heretofore had only known fun and frolic of a
more childish nature. This glimpse into what seemed to be really truly
grown-up society was bewildering and very enjoyable, and Patty found it
quite easy to adapt herself to its requirements.



CHAPTER II

WEDDING BELLS


At last the wedding day arrived, and a brighter or more sunshiny day
could not have been asked for by the most exacting of brides.

It was to be an evening wedding, but from early in the morning there was
a constant succession of exciting events. The last touches were being put
to the decorations, belated presents were coming in, house guests were
arriving, messengers coming and going, and through it all Mrs. Allen
bustled about, supremely happy in watching the culminating success of her
elaborate plans. Patty looked at her with a wondering admiration, for she
always admired capability, and Mrs. Allen was exhibiting what might
almost be called generalship in her house that day.

Of course, Patty had no care or responsibility, and nothing to do but
enjoy herself, so she did this thoroughly.

In the morning Marian and Frank Elliott came. They were staying at the
Barlows', and Mr. Fairfield was staying there too.

It sometimes seemed to Patty that her father ought to have played a more
prominent part in all the preliminary festivities, but Mrs. Allen calmly
told her, in Mr. Fairfield's presence, that a bridegroom had no part in
wedding affairs until the time of the ceremony itself.

Mr. Fairfield laughed good-humouredly, and replied that he was quite
satisfied to be left out of the mad rush, until the real occasion came.

Like Nan, Mr. Fairfield would have preferred a quiet wedding, but Mrs.
Allen utterly refused to hear of such a thing. Nan was her only daughter,
and this her only chance to arrange an entertainment such as her soul
delighted in. Mr. Allen was willing to indulge his wife in her wishes,
and was exceedingly hospitable by nature. Moreover, he took great pride
in his charming daughter, and wanted everything done that could in any
way contribute to the success or add to the beauty of her wedding
celebration.

Patty fluttered around the house in a sort of inconsequent delight. Now
in the present-room, looking over the beautiful collection, now chatting
with her cousins, or other friends, now strolling through the great
parlours with their wonderful decorations of banked roses and
garland-draped ceilings.

Dinner was early that night, as the ceremony was to be performed at eight
o'clock, and after dinner Patty flew to her room to don her own beautiful
new gown.

This dress delighted Patty's beauty-loving heart. It was a white tulle
sprinkled with silver, and its soft, dainty glitter seemed to Patty like
moonlight on the snow. Her hair was done low on her neck, in a most
becoming fashion, and her only ornament was a necklace of pearls which
had belonged to her mother, and which her father had given her that very
day. The first Mrs. Fairfield had died when Patty was a mere baby, so of
course she had no recollection of her, but she had always idealised the
personality of her mother, and she took the beautiful pearls from her
father with almost a feeling of reverence as she touched them.

"I'm so glad it's Nan you're going to marry, Papa," she said. "I wouldn't
like it as well if it were somebody who would really try to be a
stepmother to me, but dear old Nan is more like a sister, and I'm so glad
she's ours."

"I'm glad you're pleased, Patty, dear, and I only hope Nan will never
regret marrying a man so much older than herself."

"You're not old, Papa Fairfield," cried Patty indignantly; "I won't have
you say such a thing! Why, you're not forty yet, and Nan is twenty-four.
Why, that's hardly any difference at all."

"So Nan says," said Mr. Fairfield, smiling, "so I dare say my
arithmetic's at fault."

"Of course it is," said Patty, "and you don't look a bit old either. Why,
you look as young as Mr. Hepworth, and he looks nearly as young as
Kenneth, and Kenneth's only two years older than I am."

"That sounds a little complicated, Patty, but I'm sure you mean it as a
compliment, so I'll take it as such."

A little before eight o'clock, Patty, in her shimmering gown, went
dancing downstairs.

The rooms were already crowded with guests, and the first familiar face
Patty saw was that of Mr. Hepworth, who came toward her with a glad smile
of greeting.

"How grown-up we are looking to-night," he said. "I shall have to paint
your portrait all over again, and you must wear that gown, and we will
call it, 'A Moonlight Sonata,' and send it to the exhibition."

"That will be lovely!" exclaimed Patty; "but can you paint silver?"

"Well, I could try to get a silvery effect, at least."

"That wouldn't do; it must be the real thing. I think you could only get
it right by using aluminum paint like they paint the letter-boxes with."

"Yes," said Mr. Hepworth, "that would be realistic, at least, but I see a
crowd of your young friends coming this way, and I feel quite sure they
mean to carry you off. So won't you promise me a dance or two, when the
time comes for that part of the programme?"

"Yes, indeed," said Patty, "and there is going to be dancing after the
supper."

Mr. Hepworth looked after Patty, as, all unconscious of his gaze, she
went on through the rooms with the young friends who had claimed her.

Gilbert Hepworth had long realised his growing interest in Patty, and
acknowledged to himself that he loved the girl devotedly. But he had
never by word or look intimated this, and had no intention of doing so
until she should be some years older. He, himself, was thirty-four, and
he knew that must seem old indeed to a girl of seventeen. So he really
had little hope that he ever could win her for his own, but he allowed
himself the pleasure of her society whenever opportunity offered, and it
pleased him to do for her such acts of courtesy and kindness as could not
be construed into special attentions, or indication of an unwelcome
devotion.

Among the group that surrounded Patty was Kenneth Harper, a college boy
who was a good chum of Patty's and a favourite with Mr. Fairfield. Marian
and Frank were with them, also Bob and Bumble, the Barlow Twins, and a
number of the Philadelphia young people.

This group laughed and chatted merrily until the orchestra struck up the
wedding march, and an expectant hush fell upon the assembly.

At Nan's special request, there were no bridesmaids, and when the bride
entered with her father, she was, as Patty had prophesied, a perfect
picture in her beautiful wedding gown.

Mr. Fairfield seemed to think so too, and his happy smile as he came to
meet her, gave Patty a thrill of gladness to think that this happiness
had come to her father. His life had been lonely, and she was glad that
it was to be shared by such a truly sweet and lovely woman as Nan.

Patty was the first to congratulate the wedded pair, and Mr. Hepworth,
who was an usher, escorted her up to them that she might do so. Patty
kissed both the bride and the bridegroom with whole-hearted affection,
and after a few merry words turned away to give place to others.

"Come on, Patty," said Kenneth, "a whole crowd of us are going to camp
out in one of those jolly cozy corners on the verandah, and have our
supper there."

So Patty went with the merry crowd, and found that Kenneth had selected a
conveniently located spot near one of the dining-room windows.

"I'm so glad it's supper time," she said, as they settled themselves
comfortably in their chosen retreat. "I've been so busy and excited
to-day that I've hardly eaten a thing, and I'm starving with hunger. And
now that I've got my father safely married, and off my hands, I feel
relieved of a great responsibility, and can eat my supper with a mind at
rest."

"When I'm married," said Helen Barlow, "I mean to have a wedding exactly
like this one. I think it's the loveliest one I ever saw."

"You won't, though, Bumble," said Patty, laughing. "In the first place,
you'll forget to order your wedding gown until a day or two before the
occasion, and of course it won't be done. And then you'll forget to send
out the invitations, so of course you'll have no guests. And I'm sure
you'll forget to invite the minister, so there'll be no ceremony,
anyway."

Bumble laughed good-naturedly at this, for the helter-skelter ways of the
Barlow family were well known to everybody.

"It would be that way," she said, "if I looked after things myself, but I
shall expect you, Patty, to take entire charge of the occasion, and then
everything will go along like clockwork."

"Are you staying long in Philadelphia, Miss Fairfield?" asked Ethel
Banks, a Philadelphia girl, who lived not far from the Allens.

"A few days longer," said Patty. "I have to go back to New York next
Tuesday, and then no more gaiety for me. I don't know how I shall survive
such a sudden change, but after this mad whirl of parties and things, I
have to come down to plain everyday studying of lessons,--but we won't
talk about that now; it's a painful subject to me at any time, but
especially when I'm at a party."

"Me, too," said Kenneth. "If ever I get through college, I don't think
I'll want to see a book for the next twenty years."

"I didn't know you hated your lessons so, Kenneth," said Marian. "I
thought Patty was the only one of my friends who was willing to avow that
she was like that 'Poor little Paul, who didn't like study at all.'"

"Yes, I'm a Paul too," said Kenneth, "and I may as well own up to it."

"But you don't let it interfere with your work," said Patty; "you dig
just as hard as if you really enjoyed it."

"So do you," said Kenneth, "but some day after we have both been
graduated, I suppose we'll be glad that we did our digging after all."

A little later, Mr. and Mrs. Fairfield went away, amid showers of
_confetti_, and after that there was an hour of informal dancing.

Patty was besieged with partners asking for a dance, and as there was no
programme, she would make no promises, but accepted whoever might ask her
first at the beginning of each dance. She liked to dance with Kenneth,
for his step suited hers perfectly, and her cousin Bob was also an
exceptionally good dancer.

But Patty showed no partiality, and enjoyed all the dances with her usual
enthusiasm.

Suddenly she remembered that she had promised Mr. Hepworth a dance, but
he had not come to claim it. Wondering, she looked around to see where he
might be, and discovered him watching her from across the room.

There was an amused smile on his face, and Patty went to him, and asked
him in her direct way, why he didn't claim his dance.

"You are so surrounded," he said, "by other and more attractive partners,
that I hated to disturb you."

"Nonsense," said Patty, without a trace of self-consciousness or
embarrassment. "I like you better than lots of these Philadelphia boys.
Come on."

"Thank you for the compliment," said Mr. Hepworth, as they began to
dance, "but you seemed to be finding these Philadelphia boys very
agreeable."

"They're nice enough," said Patty, carelessly, "and some of them are good
dancers, but not as good as you are, Mr. Hepworth. Do you know you dance
like a--like a--will-o'-the-wisp."

"I never met a will-o'-the-wisp, but I'm sure they must be delightful
people, to judge from the enthusiastic tone in which you mention them. Do
you never get tired of parties and dancing, Patty?"

"Oh, no, indeed. I love it all. But you see I haven't had very much. I've
never been to but two or three real dancing-parties in my life. Why, I've
only just outgrown children's parties. I may get tired of it all, after
two or three seasons, but as yet it's such a novelty to me that I enjoy
every speck of it."

Mr. Hepworth suddenly realised how many social seasons he had been
through, and how far removed he was from this young débutante in his
views on such matters. He assured himself that he need never hope she
would take any special interest in him, and he vowed she should never
know of his feelings toward her. So he adapted his mood to hers, and
chatted gaily of the events of the evening. Patty told him of the many
pleasures that had been planned for her, during the rest of her visit at
Mrs. Allen's, and he was truly glad that the girl was to have a taste of
the social gaiety that so strongly appealed to her.

"Miss Fairfield," said Ethel Banks, coming up to Patty, as the music
stopped, "I've been talking with my father, and he says if you and Mr.
and Mrs. Allen will go, he'll take us all in the automobile down to
Atlantic City for the week-end."

"How perfectly gorgeous!" cried Patty, her eyes dancing with delight.
"I'd love to go. I've never been in an automobile but a few times in my
life, and never for such a long trip as that. Let's go and ask Mrs. Allen
at once."

Without further thought of Mr. Hepworth, save to give him a smiling nod
as she turned away, Patty went with Ethel to ask Mrs. Allen about the
projected trip.

Mrs. Allen was delighted to go, and said she would also answer for her
husband. So it was arranged, and the girls went dancing back to Mr. Banks
to tell him so. Ethel's father was a kind-hearted, hospitable man, whose
principal thought was to give pleasure to his only child. Ethel had no
mother, and Mrs. Allen had often before chaperoned the girl on similar
excursions to the one now in prospect.

As Mr. Banks was an enthusiastic motorist, and drove his own car, there
was ample room for Mr. and Mrs. Allen and Patty.

Soon the wedding guests departed, and Patty was glad to take off her
pretty gown and tumble into bed.

She slept late the next morning, and awoke to find Mrs. Allen sitting on
the bed beside her, caressing her curly hair.

"I hate to waken you," said that lady, "but it's after ten o'clock, and
you know you are to go to your Cousin Helen's to spend the day. I want
you to come home early this evening, as I have a little party planned for
you, and so it's only right that you should start as soon as possible
this morning. Here is a nice cup of cocoa and a bit of toast. Let me slip
a kimono around you, while you breakfast."

In her usual busy way, Mrs. Allen fluttered about, while she talked, and
after putting a kimono round her visitor, she drew up beside her a small
table, containing a dainty breakfast tray.

"It's just as well you're going away to-day," Mrs. Allen chattered on,
"because the house is a perfect sight. Not one thing is in its place, and
about a dozen men have already arrived to try to straighten out the
chaos. So, as you may judge, my dear, since I have to superintend all
these things, I'll really get along better without you. Now, you get
dressed, and run right along to the Barlows'. James will take you over in
the pony cart, and he'll come for you again at eight o'clock this
evening. Mind, now, you're not to stay a minute after eight o'clock, for
I have invited some young people here to see you. I'll send the carriage
to-night, and then you can bring your Barlow cousins back with you."

As Mrs. Allen rattled on, she had been fussing around the room getting
out Patty's clothes to wear that day, and acting in such a generally
motherly manner that Patty felt sure she must be missing Nan, and she
couldn't help feeling very sorry for her, and told her so.

"Yes," said Mrs. Allen, "it's awful. I've only just begun to realise that
I've lost my girl; still it had to come, I suppose, sooner or later, and
I wouldn't put a straw in the way of Nan's happiness. Well, I shall get
used to it in time, I suppose, and then sometimes I shall expect Nan to
come and visit me."



CHAPTER III

ATLANTIC CITY


Patty's day at the Barlows' was a decided contrast to her visit at Mrs.
Allen's.

In the Allen home every detail of housekeeping was complete and very
carefully looked after, while at the Barlows' everything went along in a
slipshod, hit-or-miss fashion.

Patty well remembered her visit at their summer home which they called
the Hurly-Burly, and she could not see that their city residence was any
less deserving of the name. Her Aunt Grace and Uncle Ted were jolly,
good-natured people, who cared little about system or method in their
home. The result was that things often went wrong, but nobody cared
especially if they did.

"I meant to have a nicer luncheon for you, Patty," said her aunt, as they
sat down at the table, "but the cook forgot to order lobsters, and when I
telephoned for fresh peas the grocer said I was too late, for they were
all sold. I'm so sorry, for I do love hothouse peas, don't you?"

"I don't care what I have to eat, Aunt Grace. I just came to visit you
people, you know, and the luncheon doesn't matter a bit."

"That's nice of you to say so, child. I remember what an adaptable little
thing you were when you were with us down in the country, and really, you
did us quite a lot of good that summer. You taught Bumble how to keep her
bureau drawers in order. She's forgotten it now, but it was nice while it
lasted."

"_Helen_, Mother, I do wish you would call me Helen. Bumble is such a
silly name."

"I know it, my dear," said Mrs. Barlow, placidly, "and I do mean to, but
you see I forget."

"I forget it, too," said Patty. "But I'll try to call you Helen if you
want me to. What time does Uncle Ted come home, Aunt Grace?"

"Oh, about five o'clock, or perhaps six; and sometimes he gets here at
four. I never know what time he's coming home."

"It isn't only that," said Bob; "in fact, father usually comes home about
the same time. But our clocks are all so different that it depends on
which room mother is in, as to what time she thinks it is."

"That's so," said Helen. "We have eleven clocks in this house, Patty, and
every one of them is always wrong. Still, it's convenient in a way; if
you want to go anywhere at a certain time, no matter what time you start,
you can always find at least one clock that's about where you want it to
be."

"I'm sure I don't see why the clocks don't keep the right time," said
Mrs. Barlow. "A man comes every Saturday on purpose to wind and set them
all."

"We fool with them," confessed Bob. "You see, Patty, we all like to get
up late, and we set our clocks back every night, so that we can do it
with a good grace."

"Yes," said Helen, "and then if we want each other to go anywhere through
the day,--on time, you know,--we go around the house, and set all the
clocks forward. That's the only possible way to make anybody hurry up."

Patty laughed. The whole conversation was so characteristic of the
Barlows as she remembered them, and she wondered how they could enjoy
living in such a careless way.

But they were an especially happy family, and most hospitable and
entertaining. Patty thoroughly enjoyed her afternoon, although they did
nothing in particular for her entertainment. But Aunt Grace was very fond
of her motherless niece, and the twins just adored Patty.

At five o'clock tea was served, and though the appointments were not at
all like Mrs. Allen's carefully equipped service, yet it was an hour of
comfortable enjoyment. Uncle Ted came home, and he was so merry and full
of jokes, that he made them all laugh. Two or three casual callers
dropped in, and Patty thought again, as she sometimes did, that perhaps
she liked her Barlow cousins best of all.

Dinner, not entirely to Patty's surprise, showed some of the same
characteristics as luncheon had done. The salad course was lacking,
because the mayonnaise dressing had been upset in the refrigerator; the
ice cream was spoiled, because by mistake the freezer had been set in the
sun until the ice melted, and the pretty pink pyramid was in a state of
soft collapse.

But, as Aunt Grace cheerfully remarked, if it hadn't been that, it would
have been something else, and it didn't matter much, anyway.

It was this happy philosophy of the Barlow family that charmed Patty so,
and it left no room for embarrassment at these minor accidents, either on
the part of the family or their guest.

"Now," said Patty, after dinner, "if necessary, I'm going to set all the
clocks forward, for, Helen, I do want you to be ready when Mrs. Allen
sends for us. She doesn't like to be kept waiting, one bit."

"Never mind the clocks, Patty," said Helen good-naturedly. "I'll be
ready." She scampered off to dress, and sure enough was entirely ready
before the carriage came.

"You see, Patty," she said, "we _can_ do things on time, only we've
fallen into the habit of not doing so, unless there's somebody like you
here to spur us up."

Patty admitted this, but told Bumble that she was sorry her influence was
not more lasting.

                    *       *       *       *       *

On Saturday they started with the Banks's on the automobile trip. Mrs.
Allen provided Patty with a long coat for the journey, and a veil to tie
over her hat. Not being accustomed to motoring, Patty did not have
appropriate garments, and Mrs. Allen took delight in fitting her out with
some of Nan's.

Mr. Banks's motor-car was of the largest and finest type. It was what is
called a palace touring car, and represented the highest degree of
comfort and luxury.

Patty had never been in such a beautiful machine, and when she was snugly
tucked in the tonneau between Mrs. Allen and Ethel, Mr. Banks and Mr.
Allen climbed into the front seat, and they started off.

The ride to Atlantic City was most exhilarating, and Patty enjoyed every
minute of it. There was a top to the machine, for which reason the force
of the wind was not so uncomfortable, and the tourists were able to
converse with each other.

"I thought," said Patty, "that when people went in these big cars, at
this fearful rate of speed, you could hardly hear yourself think, much
less talk to each other. What's the name of your car, Mr. Banks?"

"The Flying Dutchman," was the reply.

"It's a flyer, all right," said Patty, "but I don't see anything Dutch
about it."

"That's in honour of one of my ancestors, who, they tell me, came over
from Holland some hundreds of years ago."

"Then it's a most appropriate name," said Patty, "and it's the most
beautiful and comfortable car I ever saw."

They went spinning on mile after mile at what Patty thought was terrific
speed, but which Mr. Banks seemed to consider merely moderate. After a
while, seeing how interested Patty was in the mechanism of the car, Mr.
Allen offered to change seats with her, and let her sit with Mr. Banks,
while that gentleman explained to her the working of it.

Patty gladly made the change, and eagerly listened while Mr. Banks
explained the steering gear, and as much of the motor apparatus as he
could make clear to her.

Patty liked Mr. Banks. He was a kind and courteous gentleman, and treated
her with a deference that gave Patty a sudden sense of importance. It
seemed strange to think that she, little Patty Fairfield, was the
honoured guest of the well-known Mr. Banks of Philadelphia. She did her
best to be polite and entertaining in return, and the result was very
pleasant, and also very instructive in the art of motoring.

They reached Atlantic City late in the afternoon, and went at once to a
large hotel, where Mr. Banks had telegraphed ahead for rooms.

Patty and Ethel had adjoining rooms, and the Allens and Mr. Banks had
rooms across the hall from them.

Patty had begun to like Ethel before this trip had been planned, and as
she knew her better she liked her more. Ethel Banks, though the only
daughter of a millionaire, was not in the least proud or ostentatious.
She was a sweet, simple-minded girl, with friendly ways, and a good
comradeship soon developed between her and Patty.

She was a little older than Patty, and had just come out in society
during the past winter.

As Patty was still a schoolgirl, she could not be considered as "out,"
but of course on occasions like the present, such formalities made little
or no difference.

"Now, my dear," said Mr. Banks to Ethel, "if you and Miss Fairfield will
hasten your toilettes a little, we will have time for a ride on the board
walk before dinner." This pleased the girls, and in a short time they had
changed their travelling clothes for pretty light-coloured frocks, and
went downstairs to find Mr. Banks waiting for them on the verandah. He
explained that the Allens would not go with them on this expedition, so
the three started off. As their hotel faced the ocean, it was just a step
to the wide and beautiful board walk that runs for miles along the beach
at Atlantic City.

In all her life Patty had never seen such a sight as this before, and the
beauty and wonder of it all nearly took her breath away.

The board walk was forty feet wide, and was like a moving picture of
gaily-dressed and happy-faced people.

Although early in April, it seemed like summer time, so balmy was the
air, so bright the sunshine. Patty gazed with delight at the blue ocean,
dotted with whitecaps, and then back to the wonderful panorama of the gay
crowd, the music of the bands, and the laughter of the children.

"The best way to get an idea of the extent of this thing," said Mr.
Banks, "is to take a ride in the wheeled chairs. You two girls hop into
that double one, and I will take this single one, and we'll go along the
walk for a mile or so."

The chairs were propelled by strong young coloured men, who were affable
and polite, and who explained the sights as they passed them, and pointed
out places of interest. Patty said to Ethel that she felt as if she were
in a perambulator, except that she wasn't strapped in. But she soon
became accustomed to the slow, gentle motion of the chairs, and declared
that it was indeed an ideal way to see the beautiful place. On one side
was an endless row of small shops or bazaars, where wares of all sorts
were offered for sale. At one of these, a booth of oriental trinkets, Mr.
Banks stopped and bought each of the girls a necklace of gay-coloured
beads. They were not valuable ornaments, but had a quaint, foreign air,
and were very pretty in their own way. Patty was greatly pleased, and
when they passed another booth which contained exquisite Armenian
embroideries, she begged Ethel to accept the little gift from her, and
picking out some filmy needle-worked handkerchiefs, she gave them to her
friend.

On they went, past the several long piers, until Mr. Banks said it was
time to turn around if they would reach the hotel in time for dinner.

So back they went to the hotel, and, after finding the Allens, they all
went to the dining-room.

Privately, Patty wondered how these people could spend so much time
eating dinner, when they might be out on the beach. At last, to her great
satisfaction, dinner was over, and Mr. Allen proposed that they all go
out for a short stroll on the board walk.

Although it had been a gay scene in the afternoon, that was as nothing to
the evening effect. Thousands,--millions, it seemed to Patty,--of
electric lights in various wonderful devices, and in every possible
colour, made the place as light as day, and the varied gorgeousness of
the whole scene made it seem, as Patty said, like a big kaleidoscope.

They walked gaily along, mingling with the good-natured crowd, noticing
various sights or incidents here and there, until they reached the great
steel pier, where Mr. Allen invited them to go with him to the concert.
So in they went to listen to a band concert. This pleased Patty, for she
was especially fond of a brass band, but Mrs. Allen said it was nothing
short of pandemonium.

"Your tastes are barbaric, Patty," she said, laughing. "You love light
and colour and noise, and I don't believe you could have too much of any
of the three."

"I don't believe I could," said Patty, laughing herself, as the music
banged and crashed.

"And that gewgaw you've got hanging around your neck," went on Mrs.
Allen; "your fancy for that proves you a true barbarian."

"I think it's lovely," said Patty, looking at her gay-coloured beads. "I
don't care if I do like crazy things. Ethel likes these beads, too."

"That's all right," said Mrs. Allen. "Of course you like them,
chickadees, and they look very pretty with your light frocks. It's no
crime, Patty, to be barbaric. It only means you have youth and enthusiasm
and a capacity for enjoyment."

"Indeed I have," said Patty. "I'm enjoying all this so much that I feel
as if I should just burst, or fly away, or something."

"Don't fly away yet," said Ethel. "We can't spare you. There are lots
more things to see."

And so there were. After the concert they walked on, and on, continually
seeing new and interesting scenes of one sort or another. Indeed, they
walked so far that Mr. Allen said they must take chairs back. So again
they got into the rolling chairs, and rolled slowly back to the hotel.

Patty was thoroughly tired out, but very happy, and went to sleep with
the music of the dashing surf sounding in her ears.



CHAPTER IV

LESSONS AGAIN


But all this fun and frolic soon came to an end, and Patty returned to
New York to take up her studies again.

Grandma Elliott was waiting for her in the pretty apartment home, and
welcomed her warmly.

Mrs. Elliott and Patty were to stay at The Wilberforce only about a
fortnight longer. Then Mr. and Mrs. Fairfield were to return and take
Patty away with them to the new home on Seventy-second Street. Then the
apartment in The Wilberforce was to be given up, and Grandma Elliott
would return to Vernondale, where her son's family eagerly awaited her.

"I've had a perfectly beautiful time, Grandma," said Patty, as she took
off her wraps, "but I haven't time to tell you about it now. Just think,
school begins again to-morrow, and I haven't even looked at my lessons. I
thought I would study some in Philadelphia, but goodness me, there wasn't
a minute's time to do anything but frivol. The wedding was just gorgeous!
Nan was a dream, and papa looked like an Adonis. I'll tell you more at
dinner time, but now I really must get to work."

It was already late in the afternoon, but Patty brought out her books,
and studied away zealously until dinner time. Then making a hasty
toilette, she went down to the dining-room with grandma, and during
dinner gave the old lady a more detailed account of her visit.

After dinner, Lorraine Hamilton and the Hart girls joined them in the
parlour. But after chatting for a few moments with them, Patty declared
she must go back to her studies.

"It's awfully hard," she said to Lorraine, as they walked to school next
morning, "to settle down to work after having such a gay vacation. I do
believe, Lorraine, that I never was intended for a student."

"You're doing too much," said Lorraine. "It's perfectly silly of you,
Patty, to try to cram two years' work into one, the way you're doing."

"No, it isn't," said Patty, "because then I won't have to go to school
next year, and that will be worth all this hard work now."

"I'm awfully sorry you're going away from The Wilberforce," said
Lorraine. "I shall miss you terribly."

"I know it, and I'll miss you, too; but Seventy-second Street isn't very
far away, and you must come to see me often."

The schoolgirls all welcomed Patty back, for she was a general favourite,
and foremost in all the recreations and pleasures, as well as the classes
of the Oliphant school.

"Oh, Patty," cried Elise Farrington, as she met her in the cloakroom,
"what do you think? We're going to get up a play for commencement. An
original play, and act it ourselves, and we want you to write it, and act
in it, and stage-manage it, and all. Will you, Patty?"

"Of course I will," said Patty. "That is, I'll help. I won't write it all
alone, nor act it all by myself, either. I don't suppose it's to be a
monologue, is it?"

"No," said Elise, laughing. "We're all to be in it, and of course we'll
all help write it, but you must be at the head of it, and see that it all
goes on properly."

"All right," said Patty, good-naturedly, "I'll do all I can, but you know
I'm pretty busy this year, Elise."

"I know it, Patty, and you needn't do much on this thing. Just
superintend, and help us out here and there."

Then the girls went into the class room and the day's work began.

Patty had grown very fond of Elise, and though some of the other girls
looked upon her as rather haughty, and what they called stuck-up, Patty
failed to discern any such traits in her friend; and though Elise was a
daughter of a millionaire, and lived a petted and luxurious life, yet, to
Patty's way of thinking, she was more sincere and simple in her
friendship than many of the other girls.

After school that day Elise begged Patty to go home with her and begin
the play.

"Can't do it," said Patty. "I must go home and study."

"Oh, just come for a little while; the other girls are coming, and if you
help us get the thing started, we can work at it ourselves, you know."

"Well, I'll go," said Patty, "but I can only stay a few minutes."

So they all went home with Elise, and settled themselves in her
attractive casino to compose their great work.

But as might be expected from a group of chattering schoolgirls, they did
not progress very rapidly.

"Tell us all about your fun in Philadelphia, Patty," said Adelaide Hart.

And as Patty enthusiastically recounted the gaieties of her visit, the
time slipped away until it was five o'clock, and not a word had been
written.

"Girls, I must go," cried Patty, looking at her watch. "I have an awful
lot of studying to do, and I really oughtn't to have come here at all."

"Oh, wait a little longer," pleaded Elise. "We must get the outline of
this thing."

"No, I can't," said Patty, "I really can't; but I'll come Saturday
morning, and will work on it then, if you like."

Patty hurried away, and when she reached home she found Kenneth Harper
waiting for her.

"I thought you'd never come," he said, as she arrived. "Your school keeps
very late, doesn't it?"

"Oh, I've been visiting since school," said Patty. "I oughtn't to have
gone, but I haven't seen the girls for so long, and they had a plan on
hand that they wanted to discuss with me."

"I have a plan on hand, too," said Kenneth. "I've been talking it over
with Mrs. Elliott, and she has been kind enough to agree to it. A crowd
of us are going to the matinée on Saturday, and we want you to go. Mrs.
Morse has kindly consented to act as chaperon, and there'll be about
twelve in the party. Will you go, Patty?"

"Will I go!" cried Patty. "Indeed I will, Ken. Nothing could keep me at
home. Won't it be lots of fun?"

"Yes, it will," said Kenneth, "and I'm so glad you will go. I was afraid
you'd say those old lessons of yours were in the way."

Patty's face fell.

"I oughtn't to go," she said, "for I've promised the girls to spend
Saturday morning with them, and now this plan of yours means that I shall
lose the whole day, and I have so much to do on Saturday; an extra theme
to write, and a lot of back work to make up. Oh, Ken, I oughtn't to go."

"Oh, come ahead. You can do those things Saturday evening."

Patty sighed. She knew she wouldn't feel much like work Saturday evening,
but she couldn't resist the temptation of the gay party Saturday
afternoon. So she agreed to go, and Kenneth went away much pleased.

"What do you think, grandma?" said she. "Do you think I ought to have
given up the matinée, and stayed at home to study?"

"No, indeed," said Grandma Elliott, who was an easy-going old lady.
"You'll enjoy the afternoon with your young friends, and, as Kenneth
says, you can study in the evening."

So when Saturday came Patty spent the morning with Elise. The other girls
were there, and they really got to work on their play, and planned the
scenes and the characters.

"It will be perfectly lovely!" exclaimed Adelaide Hart. "I'm so glad for
our class to do something worth while. It will be a great deal nicer than
the tableaux of last year."

"But it will be an awful lot of work," said Hilda Henderson. "All those
costumes, though they seem so simple, will be quite troublesome to get
up, and the scenery will be no joke."

"Perhaps Mr. Hepworth will help us with the scenery," said Patty. "He did
once when we had a kind of a little play in Vernondale, where I used to
live. He's an artist, you know, and he can sketch in scenes in a minute,
and make them look as if they had taken days to do. He's awfully clever
at it, and so kind that I think he'll consent to do it."

"That will be regularly splendid!" said Elise, "and you'd better ask him
at once, Patty, so as to give him as much time as possible."

"No, I won't ask him quite yet," said Patty, laughing. "I think I'll wait
until the play is written, first. I don't believe it's customary to
engage a scene painter before a play is scarcely begun."

"Well, then, let's get at it," said Hilda, who was practical.

So to work they went, and really wrote the actual lines of a good part of
the first act.

"Now, that's something like," said Patty, as, when the clock struck noon,
she looked with satisfaction on a dozen or more pages, neatly written in
Hilda's pretty penmanship. "If we keep on like that, we can get this
thing done in five or six Saturday mornings, and then I'll ask Mr.
Hepworth about the scenery. Then we can begin to rehearse, and we'll just
about be ready for commencement day."

While Patty was with the girls, her interest and enthusiasm were so great
that the play seemed the only thing to be thought of. But when she
reached home and saw the pile of untouched schoolbooks and remembered
that she would be away all the afternoon, she felt many misgivings.

However, she had promised to go, so off she went to the matinée, and had
a thoroughly pleasant and enjoyable time. Mrs. Morse invited her to go
home to dinner with Clementine, saying that she would send her home
safely afterward.

Clementine added her plea that this invitation might be accepted, but
Patty said no. Although she wanted very much to go with the Morses, yet
she knew that duty called her home. So she regretfully declined, giving
her reason, and went home, determined to work hard at her themes and her
lessons. But after her merry day with her young friends, she was not only
tired physically, but found great difficulty in concentrating her
thoughts on more prosaic subjects. But Patty had pretty strong
will-power, and she forced herself to go at her work in earnest. Grandma
Elliott watched her, as she pored over one book after another, or hastily
scribbled her themes. A little pucker formed itself between her brows,
and a crimson flush appeared on her cheeks.

At ten o'clock Mrs. Elliott asserted her authority.

"Patty," she said, "you must go to bed. You'll make yourself ill if you
work so hard."

Patty pushed back her books. "I believe I'll have to, grandma," she said.
"My head's all in a whirl, and the letters are dancing jigs before my
eyes."

Exhausted, Patty crept into bed, and though she slept late next morning,
Grandma Elliott imagined that her face still bore traces of worry and
hard work.

"Nonsense, grandma," said Patty, laughing. "I guess my robust
constitution can stand a little extra exertion once in a while. I'll try
to take it easier this week, and I believe I'll give up my gymnasium
work. That will give me more time, and won't interfere with getting my
diploma."

But though Patty gained a few extra half hours by omitting the gymnasium
class, she missed the daily exercise more than she would admit even to
herself.

"You're getting round-shouldered, Patty," said Lorraine, one day; "and I
believe it's because you work so hard over those old lessons."

"It isn't the work, Lorraine," said Patty, laughing. "It's the play. I
had to rewrite the whole of that garden scene last night, after I
finished my lessons."

"Why, what was the matter with it?"

"It was all wrong. We didn't think of it at the time, but in one place
Elise has to go off at one side of the stage, and, immediately after,
come on at the other side, in different dress. Now, of course, that won't
do; it has to be arranged so that she will have time to change her
costume. So I had to write in some lines for the others. And there were
several little things like that to be looked after, so I had to do over
pretty nearly the whole scene."

"It's a shame, Patty! We make you do all the hardest of the work."

"Not a bit of it. I love to do it; and when we all work together and
chatter so, of course we don't think it out carefully enough, and so
these mistakes creep in. Don't say anything about it, Lorraine. The girls
will never notice my little changes and corrections, and I don't want to
pose as a poor, pale martyr, growing round-shouldered in her efforts to
help her fellow-sisters!"

"You're a brick, Patty, but I will tell them, all the same. If we're all
going to write this play together, we're going to do it all, and not have
you doing our work for us."

Lorraine's loyalty to Patty was unbounded, and as she had, moreover, a
trace of stubbornness in her character, Patty knew that no amount of
argument would move her from her determination to straighten matters out.
So she gave up the discussion, only saying, "You won't do a bit of good,
Lorraine; and anyway, somebody ought to revise the thing, and if I don't
do it, who will?"

Patty said this without a trace of egotism, for she and Lorraine both
knew that none of the other girls had enough constructive talent or
dramatic capability to put the finishing touches on the lines of the
play. That was Patty's special forte, just as Clementine Morse was the
one best fitted to plan the scenic effects, and Elise Farrington to
design the costumes.

"That's so," said Lorraine, with a little sigh, "and I suppose, Patty,
you'll just go on in your mad career, and do exactly as you please."

"I suppose I shall," said Patty, laughing at Lorraine's hopeless
expression; "but I do want this play to be a success, and I mean to help
all I can, in any way I can."

"It's bound to be a success," said Lorraine with enthusiasm, "because the
girls are all so interested, and I think we're all working hard in our
different ways. Of course I don't have anything to do except to look
after the incidental music, but I do hope that will turn out all right."

"Of course it will, Lorraine," said Patty. "Your selections are perfect
so far; and you do look after more than that. Those two little songs you
wrote are gems, and they fit into the second act just exactly right. I
think you're a real poet, Lorraine, and after the play is over I wish
you'd get those little songs published. I'm sure they're worth it."

"I wish I could," said Lorraine, "and I do mean to try."



CHAPTER V

A NEW HOME


Great was the rejoicing and celebration when Mr. and Mrs. Fairfield
returned from their wedding trip. They came to the apartment to remain
there for a few days before moving to the new house.

Patty welcomed Nan with open arms, and it was harder than ever for her to
attend to her studies when there was so much going on in the family.

The furnishing of the new house was almost completed, but there remained
several finishing touches to be attended to. As Patty's time was so much
occupied, she was not allowed to have any hand in this work. Mrs. Allen
had come on from Philadelphia to help her daughter, and Grandma Elliott
assisted in dismantling the apartment, preparatory to giving it up.

So when Patty started to school one Friday morning, and was told that
when the session was over she was to go to her new home to stay, she felt
as if she were going to an unexplored country.

It was with joyful anticipations that she put on her hat and coat, after
school, and started home.

Her father had given her a latch-key, and as she stepped in at the front
door, Nan, in a pretty house dress, stood ready to welcome her.

"My dear child," she said, "welcome home. How do you like the prospect?"

"It's lovely," said Patty, gazing around at as much as she could see of
the beautiful house and its well-furnished rooms. "What a lot of new
things there are, and I recognise a good many of the old ones, too. Oh,
Nan, won't we be happy all here together?"

"Indeed we will," said Nan. "I think it's the loveliest house in the
world, and mother and Fred have fixed it up so prettily. Come up and see
your room, Patty."

A large, pleasant front room on the third floor had been assigned to
Patty's use, and all her own special and favourite belongings had been
placed there.

"How dear of you, Nan, to arrange this all for me, and put it all to
rights. I really couldn't have taken the time to do it myself, but it's
just the way I want it."

"And this," said Nan, opening a door into a small room adjoining, "is
your own little study, where you can be quiet and undisturbed, while
you're studying those terrific lessons of yours."

Patty gave a little squeal of delight at the dainty library, furnished in
green, and with her own desk and bookcases already in place.

"But don't think," Nan went on, "that we shall let you stay here and grub
away at those books much of the time. An hour a day is all we intend to
allow you to be absent from our family circle while you're in the house."

"An hour a day to study!" exclaimed Patty. "It's more likely that an hour
a day is all I can give you of my valuable society."

"We'll see about that," said Nan, wagging her head wisely. "You see I
have some authority now, and I intend to exercise it."

"Ha," said Patty, dramatically, "I see it will be war to the knife!"

"To the knife!" declared Nan, as she ran away laughing.

Patty looked about her two lovely rooms with genuine pleasure. She was
like a cat in her love of comfortable chairs and luxurious cushions, and
she fully appreciated the special and individual care with which Nan and
her father had considered her tastes. Had she not been so busy she would
have preferred to have a hand in the arranging of her rooms herself, but
as it was, she was thankful that someone else had done it for her.

Hastily throwing off her hat and coat, she flung herself into a
comfortable easy chair by her library table, and was soon deep in her
French lesson.

A couple of hours later Nan came up and found her there.

"Patty Fairfield!" she exclaimed. "You are the worst I ever saw! Get
right up and dress for dinner! Your father will be home in a few minutes,
and I want you to help me receive properly the master of the house."

Patty rubbed her eyes and blinked, as Nan pulled the book away from her,
and said, "Why, what time is it?"

"Time for you to stop studying, and come out of your shell and mingle
with the world. Wake up!" and Nan gave Patty a little shake.

Patty came to herself and jumped up, saying, "Indeed, I'm glad enough to
leave my horrid books, and I'm hungry enough to eat any dinner you may
set before me. What shall I wear, Nan?"

"Put on that pretty light blue thing of yours, with the lace yoke. This
is rather a festival night, and we're going to celebrate the first dinner
in our new home."

So Patty brushed her curly hair and tied on a white ribbon bow of such
exceeding size and freshness that she looked almost as if wings were
sprouting from her shoulders. Then she donned her light blue frock, and
went dancing downstairs, to find that her father had already arrived.

"Well, Pattikins," he said, "can you feel at home in this big house,
after living so long in our apartment?"

"Yes, indeed," said Patty, "any place is home where you and Nan are."

The dinner passed off gaily enough. Only the three were present, as Nan
did not want any guests the first night.

Although the dining-room appointments were those that had furnished the
Fairfields'Vernondale home, yet they were so augmented by numerous
wedding gifts of Nan's that Patty felt as if she were at a dinner party
of unusual splendour.

"It's lovely to live in a house with a bride," she said, "because there
are such beautiful silver and glass things on the table, and on the
sideboard."

"Yes," said Nan, glancing around her with satisfaction. "I intend to use
all my things. I think it's perfectly silly to pack them away in a safe,
and never have any good of them."

"But suppose burglars break in and steal them," said Patty.

"Well, even so," said Nan, placidly, "they would be gone, but it wouldn't
be much different from having them stored away in a safe deposit
company."

"Nan's principle is right," said Mr. Fairfield. "Now, here's the way I
look at it: what you can't afford to lose, you can't afford to buy.
Remember that, Patty, and if ever you are tempted to invest a large sum
of money in a diamond or silver or any portable property, look upon that
money as gone forever. True, you might realise on your possession in case
of need, but more likely you could not, and, too, there is always the
chance of losing it by carelessness or theft. So remember that you can't
afford to buy what you can't afford to lose."

"That's a new idea to me, papa," said Patty, "but I see what you mean and
I know you are right. However, there's little chance of my investing in
silver at present, for I can just as well use Nan's."

"Of course you can," said Nan, heartily; "and whenever you want to have
company, or a party of any kind, you've only to mention it, and not only
my silver, but my servants and my own best efforts are at your disposal."

"That's lovely," said Patty, "and I would love to have parties and invite
the schoolgirls and some of the boys, but I can't take the time now. Why,
I couldn't spare an evening from my studies to entertain the crowned
heads of Europe."

"Nonsense," said Mr. Fairfield, "you mustn't work so hard, Puss; and
anyway you'll have to spare this evening, for I asked Hepworth to drop
in, and I think two or three others may come, and we'll have a little
informal housewarming."

"Yes," said Patty, dubiously, "and Kenneth said he would call this
evening, and Elise and Roger may come in. So, as it's Friday evening,
I'll see them, of course; but after this I must study every evening
except Fridays."

A little later on, when a number of guests had assembled in the
Fairfields' drawing-room, Patty looked like anything but a bookworm, or a
pale-faced student. Her eyes danced, and the colour glowed in her pretty
face, for she was very fond of merry society, and always looked her
prettiest when thus animated.

She and Elise entertained the others by quoting some bits from the school
play, Nan sang for them, and Kenneth gave some of his clever and funny
impersonations.

Mr. Hepworth declared that he had no parlour tricks, but Patty asserted
that he had, and she ran laughing from the room, to return with several
large sheets of paper and a stick of drawing charcoal. Then she decreed
that Mr. Hepworth should draw caricature portraits of all those present.
After a little demurring, the artist consented, and shrieks of laughter
arose as his clever pencil swiftly sketched a humorous portrait of each
one.

"It's right down jolly," said Kenneth to Patty, "your having a big house
of your own like this. Mayn't I come often to see you? Mrs. Nan is so
kind, she always has a welcome for me."

"You may come and accept her welcome whenever you like," said Patty, "but
I can't promise to see you, Ken, except Friday evenings. Honestly, I
don't have one minute to myself. You see, we rehearse the play
afternoons, and evenings I have to study, and Saturday is crammed jam
full."

"But she will see you, Kenneth," said Nan, who had heard these remarks.
"We're not going to let her retire from the world in any such fashion as
she proposes; so you come to see us whenever you like, and my word for
it, Patty will be at home to you."

Nan passed on, laughing, and Patty turned to Kenneth with an appealing
glance.

"You know how it is, don't you, Ken? I just have to stick to my work like
everything, or I won't pass those fearful examinations, and now that I've
made up my mind to try for them, I _do_ want to succeed."

"Yes, I know, Patty, and I fully sympathise with your ambitions. Stick to
it, and you'll come out all right yet; and if I should call sometimes
when you're studying, just say you're too busy to see me, and it will be
all right."

"What an old trump you are, Ken. You always seem to understand."

                    *       *       *       *       *

But as the days passed on, Patty found that other people did not
understand. Her study hours were continually interrupted. There were
occasional callers in the afternoon, and when Nan presented herself at
the study door, and begged so prettily that Patty would come down just
this once, the girl hadn't the heart to refuse. Then there was often
company in the evenings, and again Patty would be forced to break through
her rules. Or there were temptations which she really couldn't
resist,--such as when her father came home to dinner, bringing tickets
for the opera, or for some especially fine play.

Then, Nan had a day each week on which she received her friends, and on
these Thursdays Patty was supposed also to act as hostess. Of course this
pleasant duty was imperative, and Patty always enjoyed the little
receptions, though she felt guilty at losing her Thursday afternoons.
Almost invariably, too, some of the guests accepted Nan's invitation to
remain to dinner, and that counted out Thursday evening as well.

Altogether, poor Patty was at her wits' end to find any time to herself.
She tried rising very early in the morning and studying before breakfast,
but she found it difficult to awaken early, and neither Nan nor her
father would allow her to be called.

So she was forced to resort to sitting up late, and studying after the
rest of the household had retired. As her room was on the third floor,
she had no difficulty in pursuing this plan without anyone being aware of
it, but burning the midnight oil soon began to tell on her appearance.

One morning at breakfast, her father said, "Patty, child, what is the
matter with you? Your eyes look like two holes burnt in a blanket! You
weren't up late last night?"

"Not very," said Patty, dropping her eyes before her father's searching
gaze.

Nothing more was said on the subject, but though Patty hated to do
anything secretly, yet she felt she must continue her night work, as it
was really her only chance.

So that night as she sat studying until nearly midnight, her door slowly
opened, and Nan peeped in. She wore a kimono, and her hair was in a long
braid down her back.

"Patty Fairfield," she said, "go to bed at once! You ought to be ashamed
of yourself, to sit up so late when you know your father doesn't want you
to."

"Now, look here, Nan," said Patty, talking very seriously, "I _have_ to
sit up late like this, because I can't get a minute's time through the
day. You know how it is. There's always company, or something going on,
and I can't wake up early in the morning, and I have to sit up late at
night, even if it does make me tired and sleepy and good for nothing the
next day. Oh, Nan, instead of hindering and making fun of me, and
bothering me all you can, I think you might try to help me!"

Patty threw herself on her knees, and burying her face in Nan's lap,
burst into a convulsive flood of tears.

Nan was thoroughly frightened. She had never before seen Patty cry, and
this was more than crying. It was almost hysterical.

Then, like a flash, Nan saw it all. Overwork and worry had so wrought on
Patty's nerves that the girl was half sick and wholly irresponsible for
her actions.

With a ready tact, Nan patted the golden head, and gently soothed the
excited child.

"Never mind, Patty, darling," she said, "and try to forgive me, won't
you? I fear I have been rather blind to the true state of the case, but I
see more plainly now, and I will help you, indeed I will. I will see to
it that you shall have your hours for study just as you want them, and
you shall not be interrupted. Dear little girl, you're all tired out, and
your nerves are all on edge, and no wonder. Now, hop along to bed, and
you'll see that things will go better after this."

As she talked, Nan had gently soothed the excited girl, and in a quiet,
matter-of-fact way, she helped her prepare for bed, and finally tucked
her up snugly under her down coverlet.

"Good-night, dearie," she said; "go to sleep without a bother on your
mind, and remember that after this Nan will see to it that you shall have
other times to study than the middle of the night."

"Good-night," said Patty, "and I'm sorry I made such a baby of myself.
But truly, Nan, I'm bothered to death with those old lessons and the play
and everything."

"That's all right; just go to sleep and dream of Commencement Day, when
all the bothers will be over, and you'll get your diploma and your medal,
and a few dozen bouquets besides."

And with a final good-night kiss, Nan left the worn-out girl and returned
thoughtfully to her own room.



CHAPTER VI

BUSY DAYS


Nan was as good as her word. Instead of trying to persuade Patty not to
study so hard, she did all she could to keep the study hours free from
interruption.

Many a time when Nan wanted Patty's company or assistance, she refrained
from telling her so, and unselfishly left the girl to herself as much as
possible.

The result of this was that Patty gave herself up to her books and her
school work to such an extent that she allowed herself almost no social
recreation, and took little or no exercise beyond her walks to and from
school.

This went on for a time, but Patty was, after all, of a sensitive and
observing nature, and she soon discovered, by a certain wistful
expression on Nan's face, or a tone of regret in her voice, that she was
often sacrificing her own convenience to Patty's.

Patty's sense of proportion rebelled at this, and she felt that she must
be more obliging to Nan, who was so truly kind to her.

And so she endeavoured to cram more duties into her already full days,
and often after a hard day's work in school, when she would have been
glad to throw on a comfortable house gown and rest in her own room, she
dressed herself prettily and went out calling with her stepmother, or
assisted her to receive her own guests.

Gay-hearted Nan was not acutely observant, and it never occurred to her
that all this meant any self-sacrifice on Patty's part. She accepted with
pleasure each occasion when Patty's plans fell in with her own, and the
more this was the case, the more she expected it, so that poor Patty
again found herself bewildered by her multitude of conflicting duties.

"I have heard," she thought to herself one day, "that duties never clash,
but it seems to me they never do anything else. Now, this afternoon I'm
sure it's my duty to write my theme, and yet I promised the girls I'd be
at rehearsal, and then, Nan is so anxious for me to go shopping with her,
that I honestly don't know which I ought to do; but I believe I'll write
my theme, because that does seem the most important."

"Patty," called Nan's voice from the hall, "you'll go with me this
afternoon, won't you? I have to decide between those two hats, you know,
and truly I can't take the responsibility alone."

"Oh, Nan," said Patty, "it really doesn't matter which hat you get,
they're both so lovely. I've seen them, you know, and truly I think one
is just as becoming as the other. And honest, I'm fearfully busy to-day."

"Oh, pshaw, Patty. I've let you alone afternoons for almost a week now,
or at least for two or three days, anyhow. I think you might go with me
to-day."

Good-natured Patty always found it hard to resist coaxing, so with a
little sigh she consented, and gave up her whole afternoon to Nan.

That meant sitting up late at night to study, but this was now getting to
be the rule with Patty, and not the exception.

So the weeks flew by, and as commencement day drew nearer, Patty worked
harder and her nerves grew more strained and tense, until a breakdown of
some sort seemed imminent.

Mr. Fairfield at last awoke to the situation, and told Patty that she was
growing thin and pale and hollow-eyed.

"Never mind," said Patty, looking at her father with an abstracted air,
"I haven't time now, Papa, even to discuss the subject. Commencement day
is next week, to-morrow my examinations begin, and I have full charge of
the costumes for the play, and they're not nearly ready yet."

"You mustn't work so hard, Patty," said Nan, in her futile way.

"Nan, if you say that to me again, I'll throw something at you! I give
you fair warning, people, that I'm so bothered and worried that my nerves
are all on edge, and my temper is pretty much the same way. Now, until
after commencement I've got to work hard, but if I just live through
that, I'll be sweet and amiable again, and will do anything you want me
to."

Patty was half laughing, but it was plain to be seen she was very much in
earnest.

Commencement was to occur the first week in June, and the examinations,
which took place the week before, were like a nightmare to poor Patty.

Had she been free to give her undivided attention, she might have taken
them more calmly. But her mind was so full of the troubles and
responsibilities consequent on the play, that it was almost impossible to
concentrate her thoughts on the examination work. And yet the
examinations were of far more importance than the play, for Patty was
most anxious to graduate with honours, and she felt sure that she knew
thoroughly the ground she had been over in her studies.

At last examinations were finished, and though not yet informed of her
markings, Patty felt that on the whole she had been fairly successful,
and Friday night she went home from school with a heart lighter than it
had been for many weeks.

"Thank goodness, it's over!" she cried as she entered the house, and
clasping Nan around the waist, she waltzed her down the hall in a mad joy
of celebration.

"Well, I am glad," said Nan, after she had recovered her breath; "now you
can rest and get back your rosy cheeks once more."

"Not yet," said Patty gaily; "there is commencement day and the play yet.
They're fun compared to examinations, but still they mean a tremendous
lot of work. To-morrow will be my busiest day yet, and I've bought me an
alarm clock, because I have to get up at five o'clock in order to get
through the day at all."

"What nonsense," said Nan, but Patty only laughed, and scurried away to
dress for dinner.

When the new alarm clock went off at five the next morning, Patty awoke
with a start, wondering what in the world had happened.

Then, as she slowly came to her senses, she rubbed her sleepy eyes,
jumped up quickly, and began to dress.

By breakfast time she had accomplished wonders.

"I've rewritten two songs," she announced at the breakfast table, "and
sewed for an hour on Hilda's fairy costume, and cut out a thousand gilt
stars for the scenery, and made two hundred paper violets besides!"

"You are a wonder, Patty," said Nan, but Mr. Fairfield looked at his
daughter anxiously. Her eyes were shining with excitement, and there was
a little red spot on either cheek.

"Be careful, dear," he said. "It would be pretty bad if, after getting
through your examinations, you should break down because of this foolish
play."

"It isn't a foolish play, Papa," said Patty gaily; "it's most wise and
sensible. I ought to know, for I wrote most of it myself, and I've
planned all the costumes and helped to make many of them. One or two,
though, we have to get from a regular costumer, and I have to go and see
about them to-day. Want to go with me, Nan?"

"I'd love to go," said Nan, "but I haven't a minute to spare all day
long. I'm going to the photographer's, and then to Mrs. Stuart's
luncheon, and after that to a musicale."

"Never mind," said Patty, "it won't be much fun. I just have to pick out
the costumes for Joan of Arc and Queen Elizabeth."

"Your play seems to include a variety of characters," said Mr. Fairfield.

"Yes, it does," said Patty, "and most of the dresses we've contrived
ourselves; but these two are beyond us, so we're going to hire them.
Good-bye, now, people; I must fly over to see Elise before I go down
town."

"Who's going with you, Patty, to the costumer's?" asked her father.

"Miss Sinclair, Papa; one of the teachers in our school. I am to meet her
at the school at eleven o'clock. We are going to the costume place, and
then to the shops to buy a few things for the play. I'll be home to
luncheon, Nan, at one o'clock."

Patty flew away on her numerous errands, going first to Elise
Farrington's to consult on some important matters. Hilda and Clementine
were there, and there was so much to be decided that the time passed by
unnoticed, until Patty exclaimed, "Why, girls, it's half-past eleven now,
and I was to meet Miss Sinclair at eleven! Oh, I'm so sorry! I make it a
point never to keep anybody waiting. I don't know when I ever missed an
engagement before. Now, you must finish up about the programmes and
things, and I'll scurry right along. She must be there waiting for me."

The school was only two blocks away, and Patty covered the ground as
rapidly as possible. But when she reached there Miss Sinclair had gone.
Another teacher who was there told Patty that Miss Sinclair had waited
until twenty minutes after eleven, and then she had concluded that she
must have mistaken the appointment, and that probably Patty had meant she
would meet her at the costumer's. So she had gone on, leaving word for
Patty to follow her there, if by any chance she should come to the school
looking for her.

Patty didn't know what to do. The costumer's shop was a considerable
distance away, and Patty was not in the habit of going around the city
alone. But this seemed to her a special occasion, and, too, there was no
time to hesitate.

She thought of telephoning to Nan, but of course she had already gone
out. She couldn't call her father up from down town, and it wouldn't help
matters any to ask Elise or any of the other girls to go with her. So,
having to make a hasty decision, Patty determined to go alone.

She knew the address, and though she didn't know exactly how to reach it,
she felt sure she could learn by a few enquiries. But, after leaving the
Broadway car, she discovered that she had to travel quite a distance
east, and there was no cross-town line in that locality. Regretting the
necessity of keeping Miss Sinclair waiting, Patty hurried on, and after
some difficulty reached the place, only to find that the costumer had
recently moved, and that his new address was some distance farther up
town.

Patty did not at all like the situation. She was unfamiliar with this
part of the town, she felt awkward and embarrassed at being there alone,
and she was extremely sorry not to have kept her engagement with Miss
Sinclair.

All of this, added to the fact that she was nervous and overwrought, as
well as physically tired out, rendered her unable to use her really good
judgment and common sense.

She stood on a street corner, uncertain what to do next; and her
uncertainty was distinctly manifest on her countenance.

The driver of a passing hansom called out, "Cab, Miss?" And this seemed
to Patty a providential solution of her difficulty.

Recklessly unheeding the fact that she had never before been in a public
cab alone, she jumped in, after giving the costumer's number to the
driver. As she rode up town she thought it over, and concluded that,
after all, she had acted wisely, and that she could explain to her father
how the emergency had really necessitated this unusual proceeding.

It was a long ride, and when Patty jumped out of the cab and asked the
driver his price, she was a little surprised at the large sum he
mentioned.

However, she thought it was wiser to pay it without protest than to make
herself further conspicuous by discussing the matter.

She opened the little wrist-bag which she carried, only to make the
startling discovery that her purse was missing.

Even as she realised this, there flashed across her memory the fact that
her father had often told her that it was a careless way to carry money,
and that she would sooner or later be relieved of her purse by some
clever pickpocket.

Patty could not be sure whether this was what had happened in the present
instance, or whether she had left her purse at home. As she had carried
change for carfare in her coat pocket, she had not expected to need a
large sum of money, and her confused brain refused to remember whether
she had put her purse in her bag or not.

She found herself staring at the cabman, who was looking distrustfully at
her.

"I think I have had my pocket picked," she said slowly, "or else I left
my purse at home. I don't know which."

"No, no, Miss, that won't go down," said the cabman, not rudely, but with
an uncomfortable effect of being determined to have his fare. "Pay up,
now, pay up," he went on, "and you'll save yourself trouble in the end."

"But I can't pay you," said Patty. "I haven't any money."

"Then you didn't ought to ride. It ain't the first time I've knowed a
swell young lady to try to beat her way. Come, Miss, if you don't pay me
I'll have to drive you to the station house."

"What!" cried Patty, her face turning white with anger and mortification.

"Yes, Miss, that's the way we do. I s'pose you know you've stole a ride."

"Oh, wait a minute," said Patty; "let me think."

"Think away, Miss; perhaps you can remember where you've hid your money."

"But I tell you I haven't any," said Patty, her indignation rising above
her fear. "Now, look here, I have a friend right in here at this address;
let me speak to her, and she'll come out and pay you."

"No, no, Miss; you can't ketch me that way. I've heard of them friends
before. But I'll tell you what," he added, as Patty stood looking at him
blankly, "I'll go in there with you, and if so be's your friend's there
and pays up the cash, I've nothing more to say."

The hansom-driver climbed down from his seat and went with Patty into the
costumer's shop.

A stolid-looking woman of Italian type met them and enquired what was
wanted.

"Is Miss Sinclair here?" asked Patty eagerly.

"No, Miss, there's nobody here by way of a customer."

"But hasn't a lady been here in the last hour, to look at costumes for a
play?"

"No, Miss, nobody's been here this whole morning."

"You see you can't work that game," said the cabman. "I'm sorry, Miss,
but I guess you'll have to come along with me."



CHAPTER VII

A RESCUE


Perhaps it was partly owing to Patty's natural sense of humour, or
perhaps her overwrought nerves made her feel a little hysterically
inclined, but somehow the situation suddenly struck her as being very
funny. To think that she, Patty Fairfield, was about to be arrested
because she couldn't pay her cab fare, truly seemed like a joke.

But though it seemed like a joke, it wasn't one. As Patty hesitated, the
cabman grew more impatient and less respectful.

Patty's feeling of amusement passed as quickly as it came, and she
realised that she must do something at once. Nan was not at home, her
father was too far away, and, curiously, the next person she thought of
as one who could help her in her trouble was Mr. Hepworth.

This thought seemed like an inspiration. Instantly assuming an air of
authority and dignity, she turned to the angry cabman and said, "You will
be the one to be arrested unless you behave yourself more properly. Come
with me to the nearest public telephone station. I have sufficient money
with me to pay for a telephone message, and I will then prove to your
satisfaction that your fare will be immediately paid."

Patty afterward wondered how she had the courage to make this speech, but
the fear of what might happen had been such a shock to her that it had
reacted upon her timidity.

And with good results, for the cabman at once became meek and even
cringing.

"There's a telephone across the street, Miss," he said.

"Very well," said Patty; "come with me."

"There's a telephone here, Miss," said the Italian woman, "if you would
like to use it."

"That's better yet," said Patty; "where's the book?"

Taking the telephone book, Patty quickly turned the leaves until she
found Mr. Hepworth's studio number.

She had an aversion to speaking her own name before her present hearers,
so when Mr. Hepworth responded she merely said, "Do you know who I am?"

Of course the others listening could not hear when Mr. Hepworth responded
that he did know her voice, and then called her by name.

"Very well," said Patty, still speaking with dignity, "I have had the
misfortune to lose my purse, and I am unable to pay my cab fare. Will you
be kind enough to answer the cabman over this telephone right now, and
inform him that it will be paid if he will drive me to your address,
which you will give him?"

"Certainly," replied Mr. Hepworth politely, though he was really very
much amazed at this message.

Patty turned to the cabman and said, somewhat sternly, "Take this
receiver and speak to the gentleman at the other end of the wire."

Sheepishly the man took the receiver and timidly remarked, "Hello."

"What is your number?" asked Mr. Hepworth, and the cabman told him.

"Where are you?" was the next question, and the cabman gave the address
of the costumer, which Patty had not remembered to do.

Mr. Hepworth's studio was not very many blocks away, and he gave the
cabman his name and address, saying, "Bring the young lady around here at
once, as quickly as you can. I will settle with you on your arrival."

Mr. Hepworth hung up his own receiver, much puzzled. His first impulse
was to go to the address where Patty was, but as it would take some time
for him to get around there by any means, he deemed it better that she
should come to him.

As Patty felt safe, now that she was so soon to meet Mr. Hepworth, she
gave her remaining change to the Italian woman, who had been kind, though
stolidly disinterested, during the whole interview.

The cabman, having given his number to Mr. Hepworth, felt a responsibility
for the safety of his passenger, and assisted her into the cab with humble
politeness.

A few moments' ride brought them to the large building in which was Mr.
Hepworth's studio, and that gentleman himself, hatted and gloved, stood
on the curb awaiting them.

"What's it all about?" he asked Patty, making no motion, however, to
assist her from the cab.

But the reaction after her fright and embarrassment had made Patty so
weak and nervous that she was on the verge of tears.

"I didn't have any money," she said; "I don't know whether I lost it or
not, and if you'll please pay him, papa will pay you afterward."

"Of course, child; that's all right," said Mr. Hepworth. "Don't get out,"
he added, as Patty started to do so. "Stay right where you are, and I'll
take you home." He gave Patty's address to the driver, swung himself into
the cab beside Patty, and off they started.

"I wasn't frightened," said Patty, though her quivering lip and trembling
hands belied her words; "but when he said he'd arrest me, I--I didn't
know what to do, and so I telephoned to you."

"Quite right," said Hepworth, in a casual tone, which gave no hint of the
joy he felt in being Patty's protector in such an emergency. "But I say,
child, you look regularly done up. What have you been doing? Have you had
your luncheon?"

"No," said Patty, faintly.

"And it's after two o'clock," said Hepworth, sympathetically. "You poor
infant, I'd like to take you somewhere for a bite, but I suppose that
wouldn't do. Well, here's the only thing we can do, and it will at least
keep you from fainting away."

He signalled the cabman to stop at a drug shop, where there was a large
soda fountain. Here he ordered for Patty a cup of hot bouillon. He made
her drink it slowly, and was rejoiced to see that it did her good. She
felt better at once, and when they returned to the cab she begged Mr.
Hepworth to let her go on home alone, and not take any more of his
valuable time.

"No, indeed," said that gentleman; "it may not be according to the
strictest rules of etiquette for me to be going around with you in a
hansom cab, but it's infinitely better than for you to be going around
alone. So I'll just take charge of you until I can put you safely inside
your father's house."

"And the girls are coming at two o'clock for a rehearsal!" said Patty.
"Oh, I shall be late."

"The girls will wait," said Mr. Hepworth, easily, and then during the
rest of the ride he entertained Patty with light, merry conversation.

He watched her closely, however, and came to the conclusion that the girl
was very nervous, and excitable to a degree that made him fear she was on
the verge of a mental illness.

"When is this play of yours to come off?" he enquired.

"Next Thursday night," said Patty, "if we can get ready for it, and we
must; but oh, there is so much to do, and now I've wasted this whole
morning and haven't accomplished a thing, and I don't know where Miss
Sinclair is, and I didn't see about the costumes, after all, and now I'll
be late for rehearsal. Oh, what shall I do?"

Mr. Hepworth had sufficient intuition to know that if he sympathised with
Patty in her troubles she was ready to break down in a fit of nervous
crying.

So he said, as if the matter were of no moment, "Oh, pshaw, those
costumes will get themselves attended to some way or another. Why, I'll
go down there this afternoon and hunt them up, if you like. Just tell me
what ones you want."

This was help, indeed. Patty well knew that Mr. Hepworth's artistic taste
could select the costumes even better than her own, and she eagerly told
him the necessary details.

Mr. Hepworth also promised to look after some other errands that were
troubling Patty's mind, so that when she finally reached home she was
calm and self-possessed once more.

Mr. Hepworth quickly settled matters with the cabman, and then escorted
Patty up the steps to her own front door, where, with a bow and a few
last kindly words, he left her and walked rapidly away.

The girls who had gathered for rehearsal greeted her with a chorus of
reproaches for being so late, but when Patty began to tell her exciting
experiences, the rehearsal was forgotten in listening to the thrilling
tale.

"Come on, now," said Patty, a little later, "we must get to work. Get
your places and begin your lines, while I finish these."

Patty had refused to go to luncheon, and the maid had brought a tray into
the library for her. So, with a sandwich in one hand and a glass of milk
in the other, she directed the rehearsal, taking her own part therein
when the time came.

So the days went on, each one becoming more and more busy as the fateful
time drew near.

Also Patty became more and more nervous. She had far more to do than any
of the other girls, for they depended on her in every emergency, referred
every decision to her, and seemed to expect her to do all the hardest of
the work.

Moreover, the long strain of overstudy she had been through had left its
effects on her system, and Patty, though she would not admit it, and no
one else realised it, was in imminent danger of an attack of nervous
prostration.

The last few days Nan had begun to suspect this, but as nothing could be
done to check Patty's mad career, or even to assist her in the many
things she had to do, Nan devoted her efforts to keeping Patty
strengthened and stimulated, and was constantly appearing to her with a
cup of hot beef tea, or of strong coffee, or a dose of some highly
recommended nerve tonic.

Although these produced good temporary effects, the continued use of
these remedies really aggravated Patty's condition, and when Thursday
came she was almost a wreck, both physically and mentally, and Nan was at
her wits' end to know how to get the girl through the day.

At the summons of her alarm clock Patty rose early in the morning, for
there was much to do by way of final preparation. Before breakfast she
had attended to many left-over odds and ends, and when she appeared at
the table she said only an absent-minded "good-morning," and then knit
her brows as if in deep and anxious thought.

Mr. and Mrs. Fairfield looked at each other. They knew that to say a word
to Patty by way of warning would be likely to precipitate the breakdown
that they feared, so they were careful to speak very casually and gently.

"Anything I can do for you to-day, Puss?" said her father, kindly.

"No," said Patty, still frowning; "but I wish the flowers would come. I
have to make twenty-four garlands before I go over to the schoolroom, and
I must be there by ten o'clock to look after the building of the
platform."

"Can't I make the garlands for you?" asked Nan.

"No," said Patty, "they have to be made a special way, and you'd only
spoil them."

"But if you showed me," urged Nan, patiently. "If you did two or three,
perhaps I could copy them exactly; at any rate, let me try."

"Very well," said Patty, dully, "I wish you could do them, I'm sure."

The flowers were delayed, as is not unusual in such cases, and it was
nearly ten when they arrived.

Patty was almost frantic by that time, and Nan, as she afterward told her
husband, had to "handle her with gloves on."

But by dint of tact and patience, Nan succeeded in persuading Patty,
after making two or three garlands, to leave the rest for her to do.
Although they were of complicated design, Nan was clever at such things,
and could easily copy Patty's work. And had she been herself, Patty would
have known this. But so upset was she that even her common sense seemed
warped.

When she reached the schoolroom there were a thousand and one things to
see to, and nearly all of them were going wrong.

Patty flew from one thing to another, straightening them out and bringing
order from confusion, and though she held herself well in hand, the
tension was growing tighter, and there was danger of her losing control
of herself at any minute.

Hilda Henderson was the only one who realised this, and, taking Patty
aside, she said to her, quietly, "Look here, girl, I'll attend to
everything else; there's not much left that needs special attention. And
I want you to go right straight home, take a hot bath, and then lie down
and rest until time to dress for the afternoon programme. Will you?"

Patty looked at Hilda with a queer, uncomprehending gaze. She seemed
scarcely to understand what was being said to her.

"Yes," she said, but as she turned she half stumbled, and would have
fallen to the floor if Hilda had not caught her strongly by the arm.

"Brace up," she said, and her voice was stern because she was thoroughly
frightened. "Patty Fairfield, don't you dare to collapse now! If you do,
I'll--I don't know _what_ I'll do to you! Come on, now, I'll go home with
you."

Hilda was really afraid to let Patty go alone, so hastily donning her hat
and coat she went with her to her very door.

"Take this girl," she said to Nan, "and put her to bed, and don't let her
see anybody or say anything until the programme begins this afternoon.
I'll look after everything that isn't finished, if you'll just keep her
quiet."

Nan was thoroughly alarmed, but she only said, "All right, Hilda, I'll
take care of her, and thank you very much for bringing her home."

Patty sank down on a couch in a limp heap, but her eyes were big and
bright as she looked at Hilda, saying, "See that the stars are put on the
gilt wands, and the green bay leaves on the white ones. Lorraine's
spangled skirt is in Miss Oliphant's room, and please be sure,--" Patty
didn't finish this sentence, but lay back among the cushions, exhausted.

"Run along, Hilda," said Nan; "do the best you can with the stars and
things, and I'll see to it that Patty's all right by afternoon."



CHAPTER VIII

COMMENCEMENT DAY


Nan was a born nurse, and, moreover, she had sufficient common sense and
tact to know how to deal with nervous exhaustion. Instead of discussing
the situation she said, cheerily, "Now everything will be all right.
Hilda will look after the stars and wands, and you can have quite a
little time to rest before you go back to the schoolroom. Don't try to go
up to your room now, just stay right where you are, and I'll bring you a
cup of hot milk, which is just what you need."

Patty nestled among the cushions which Nan patted and tucked around her,
and after taking the hot milk felt much better.

"I must get up now, Nan," she pleaded, from the couch where she lay, "I
have so many things to attend to."

"Patty," said Nan, looking at her steadily, "do you want to go through
with the commencement exercises this afternoon and the play to-night
successfully, or do you want to collapse on the stage and faint right
before all the audience?"

"I won't do any such foolish thing," said Patty, indignantly.

"You will," said Nan, "unless you obey me implicitly, and do exactly as I
tell you."

Nan's manner more than her words compelled Patty's obedience, and with a
sigh, the tired girl closed her eyes, saying, "All right, Nan, have your
own way, I'll be good."

"That's a good child," said Nan, soothingly, "and now first we'll go
right up to your own room."

Then Nan helped Patty into a soft dressing gown, made her lie down upon
her bed, and threw a light afghan over her.

Then sitting beside her, Nan talked a little on unimportant matters and
then began to sing softly. In less than half an hour Patty was sound
asleep, and Nan breathed a sigh of relief at finding her efforts had been
successful.

But there was not much time to spare, for the commencement exercises
began at three o'clock.

So at two o'clock Patty found herself gently awakened, to see Nan at her
bedside, arranging a dainty tray of luncheon which a maid had brought in.

"Here you are, girlie," said the cheery voice, "sit up now, and see what
we have for you here."

Patty awoke a little bewildered, but soon gathered her scattered senses,
and viewed with pleasure the broiled chicken and crisp salad before her.

Exhaustion had made her hungry, and while she ate, Nan busied herself in
getting out the pretty costume that Patty was to wear at commencement.

But the sight of the white organdie frock with its fluffy ruffles and
soft laces brought back Patty's apprehensions.

"Oh, Nan," she cried in dismay, "I'm not nearly ready for commencement! I
haven't copied my poem yet, and I haven't had a minute to practice
reading it for the last two weeks. What shall I do?"

"That's all attended to," said Nan,--"the copying, I mean. You've been so
busy doing other people's work, that of course you haven't had time to
attend to your own, so I gave your poem to your father, and he had it
typewritten for you, and here it is all ready. Now, while you dress, I'll
read it to you, and that will bring it back to your memory."

"Nan, you are a dear," cried Patty, jumping up and flying across the room
to give her stepmother a hearty caress. "Whatever would I do without you?
I'm all right now, and if you'll just elocute that thing, while I array
myself in purple and fine linen, I'm sure it will all come back to me."

So Nan read Patty's jolly little class poem line by line, and Patty
repeated it after her as she proceeded with her toilette.

She was ready before the appointed time, and the carriage was at the
door, but Nan would not let her go.

"No, my lady," she said, "you don't stir out of this house until the very
last minute. If you get over there ahead of time, you'll begin to make
somebody a new costume, or build a throne for the fairy queen, or some
foolish trick like that. Now you sit right straight down in that chair
and read your poem over slowly, while I whip into my own clothes, and
then we'll go along together. Fred can't come until a little later
anyway. Sit still now, and don't wriggle around and spoil that pretty
frock."

Patty obeyed like a docile child, and Nan flew away to don her own pretty
gown for the occasion.

When she returned in a soft grey crêpe de chine, with a big grey hat and
feathers, she was such a pretty picture that Patty involuntarily
exclaimed in admiration.

"I'm glad you like it," said Nan, "I want to look my best so as to do you
credit, and in return I want you to do your best so as to do me credit."

"I will," said Patty, earnestly, "I truly will. You've been awfully good
to me, Nan, and but for you I don't know what I should have done."

Away they went, and when they reached the schoolroom, and Patty went to
join her classmates, while Nan took her place in the audience, she said
as a parting injunction, "Now mind, Patty, this afternoon you're to
attend strictly to your own part in the programme. Don't go around
helping other people with their parts, because this isn't the time for
that. You'll have all you can do to manage Patty Fairfield."

Patty laughed and promised, and ran away to the schoolroom.

The moment she entered, half a dozen girls ran to her with questions
about various details, and Nan's warning was entirely forgotten. Indeed
had it not been for Hilda's intervention, Patty would have gone to work
at a piece of unfinished scenery.

"Drop that hammer!" cried Hilda, as Patty was about to nail some branches
of paper roses on to a wobbly green arbour. "Patty Fairfield, are you
crazy? The idea of attempting carpenter work with that delicate frock on!
Do for pity's sake keep yourself decent until after you've read your poem
at least!"

Patty looked at Hilda with that same peculiar vacantness in her glance
which she had shown in the morning, and though Hilda said nothing, she
was exceedingly anxious and kept a sharp watch on Patty's movements.

But it was then time for the girls to march onto the platform, and as
Patty seemed almost like herself, though unusually quiet, Hilda hoped it
was all right.

The exercises were such as are found on most commencement programmes, and
included class history, class prophecy, class song and all of the usual
contributions to a commencement programme.

Patty's class poem was near the end of the list, and Nan was glad, for
she felt it would give the girl more time to regain her poise. Mr.
Fairfield had arrived, and both he and Nan waited anxiously for Patty's
turn to come.

When it did come, Patty proved herself quite equal to the occasion.

Her poem was merry and clever, and she read it with an entire absence of
self-consciousness, and an apparent enjoyment of its fun. She looked very
sweet and pretty in her dainty white dress, and she stood so gracefully
and seemed so calm and composed, that only those who knew her best
noticed the feverish brightness of her eyes and a certain tenseness of
the muscles of her hands.

But this was not unobserved by one in the audience. Mr. Hepworth, though
seated far back, noted every symptom of Patty's nervousness, however
little it might be apparent to others.

Although she went through her ordeal successfully, he knew how much
greater would be the excitement and responsibility of the evening's
performance and he wished he could help her in some way.

But there seemed to be nothing he could do, and though he had sent her a
beautiful basket of roses, it was but one floral gift among so many that
he doubted whether Patty even knew that he sent it; and he also doubted
if she would have cared especially if she had known it.

Like most of the graduates, Patty received quantities of floral tributes.
As the ushers came again and again with clusters or baskets of flowers,
the audience heartily applauded, and Patty, though embarrassed a little,
preserved a pretty dignity, and showed a happy enjoyment of it all.

As soon as the diplomas were awarded, and Patty had her cherished roll
tied with its blue ribbon, Nan told Mr. Fairfield that it was imperative
that Patty should be made to go straight home.

"If she stays there," said Nan, "she'll get excited and exhausted, and be
good for nothing to-night. I gave her some stimulants this noon, although
she didn't know it, but the effects are wearing off and a reaction will
soon set in. She must come home with us at once."

"You are right, Mrs. Fairfield," said Mr. Hepworth, who had crossed the
room and joined them just in time to hear Nan's last words. "Patty is
holding herself together by sheer nervous force, and she needs care if
she is to keep up through the evening."

"That is certainly true," said Nan. "Kenneth," she added, turning to
young Harper, who stood near by, "you have a good deal of influence with
Patty. Go and get her, won't you? Make her come at once."

"All right," said Kenneth, and he was off in a moment, while Mr. Hepworth
looked after him, secretly wishing that the errand might have been
entrusted to him.

But Kenneth found his task no easy one. Although Patty willingly
consented to his request, and even started toward the dressing-room to
get her wraps, she paused so many times to speak to different ones, or
her progress was stopped by anxious-looking girls who wanted her help or
advice, that Kenneth almost despaired of getting her away.

"Can't you make her come, Hilda?" he said.

"I'll try," said Hilda, but when she tried, Patty only said, "Yes, Hilda,
in just a minute. I want to coach Mary a little in her part, and I want
to show Hester where to stand in the third act."

"Never mind," said Hilda, impatiently. "Let her stand on the roof, if she
wants to, but for goodness' sake go on home. Your people are waiting for
you."

Again Patty looked at her with that queer vacant gaze, and then Lorraine
Hart stepped forward and took matters in her own hands.

"March!" she said, as she grasped Patty's arm, and steered her toward the
dressing-room. "Halt!" she said after they reached it, and then while
Patty stood still, seemingly dazed, Lorraine put her cloak about her,
threw her scarf over her head, wheeled her about, and marched her back to
where Kenneth stood waiting.

"Take her quick," she said. "Take her right to the carriage; don't let
her stop to speak to anybody."

So Kenneth grasped Patty's arm firmly and led her through the crowd of
girls, out of the door, and down the walk to the carriage. Ordinarily,
Patty would have resented this summary treatment, but still in a
half-dazed way she meekly went where she was led.

Once in the carriage, Nan sat beside her and Mr. Fairfield opposite, and
they started for home. No reference was made to Patty herself, but the
others talked lightly and pleasantly of the afternoon performance.

On reaching home, Nan put Patty to bed at once, and telephoned for the
Doctor.

But when Dr. Martin came, Nan met him downstairs, and told him all about
the case. They then decided that the Doctor should not see Patty, as to
realise the fact that she was in need of medical attendance might prove a
serious shock.

"And really, Doctor," said Nan, "if the girl shouldn't be allowed at
least to try to go through with the play this evening, I wouldn't like to
answer for the consequences."

"I understand," said Dr. Martin, "and though I think that with the aid of
certain prescriptions I shall give you, she can probably get through the
evening, it would be far better if she did not attempt it."

"I know it Doctor," said Nan, "and with some girls it might be possible
to persuade them to give it up, but I can't help feeling that if we even
advised Patty not to go to-night, she would fly into violent hysterics."

"Very likely," said Dr. Martin, "and I think, Mrs. Fairfield, you are
right in your diagnosis. If you will give her these drops exactly as I
have directed, I think she will brace up sufficiently to go through her
part all right."

Nan thanked the Doctor, and hurried back to Patty's room to look after
her charge. She found Patty lying quietly, but in a state of mental
excitement. When Nan came in, she began to talk rapidly.

"It's all right, Nan, dear," she said. "I'm not ill a bit. Please let me
get up now, and dress so I can go around to the schoolroom a little bit
early. There are two or three things I must look after, and then the play
will go off all right."

"Very well," said Nan, humouring her, "if you will just take this
medicine it will brace you up for the evening, and you can go through
with the play as successfully as you did your part this afternoon."

Patty agreed, and took the drops the Doctor had left, without a murmur.

Soon their soothing effect became apparent, and Patty's nervous
enthusiasm quieted down to such an extent that she seemed in no haste to
go.

She ate her dinner slowly, and dawdled over her dressing, until Nan again
became alarmed lest the medicine had been too powerful.

Poor Nan really had a hard time of it. Patty was not a tractable patient,
and Nan was frequently at her wits' end to know just how to manage her.

But at last she was ready, and they all started for the school again.
Although Patty's own people, and a few of her intimate girl friends knew
of her overwrought state, most of the class and even the teachers had no
idea how near to a nervous breakdown she was. For her demeanour was much
as usual, and though she would have moments of dazed bewilderment, much
of the time she was unusually alert and she flew about attending to
certain last details in an efficient and clear-headed manner.



CHAPTER IX

THE PLAY


The play went through beautifully. Every girl did her part wonderfully
well, but Patty surpassed them all. Buoyed up by excitement, she played
her part with a dash and sprightliness that surprised even the girls who
had seen her at rehearsal. She was roguish, merry and tragic by turns,
and she sang her solos with a dramatic effect that brought down the
house. She looked unusually pretty, which was partly the effect of her
intense excitement, and though Nan and Mr. Fairfield could not help
admiring and applauding with the rest, they were very anxious and really
alarmed, lest she might not be able to keep up to these emotional heights
until the end of the play.

Without speaking his thoughts to anyone else, Mr. Hepworth, too, was very
much concerned for Patty's welfare. He realised the danger she was in,
and noted every evidence of her artificial strength and merriment. Seeing
Dr. Martin in a seat near the back of the room, he quietly rose and went
and sat beside the old gentleman.

"Doctor," he said, "I can't help fearing that a collapse of some sort
will follow Miss Fairfield's performance."

"I am sure of it," said the Doctor, looking gravely at Mr. Hepworth.

"Then don't you think perhaps it would be wise for you to go around
behind the scenes, presently, and be there in case of emergency."

"I will gladly do so," said Dr. Martin, "if Mr. and Mrs. Fairfield
authorise it."

Mr. Hepworth looked at his programme, and then he looked at Patty. He
knew the play pretty thoroughly, and he knew that she was making one of
the final speeches. He saw too, that she had nearly reached the limit of
her endurance, and he said, "Dr. Martin, I wish you would go on my
authority. The Fairfields are sitting in the front part of the house, and
it would be difficult to speak to them about it without creating a
commotion. And besides, I think there is no time to be lost; this is
almost the end of the play, and in my judgment, Miss Fairfield is pretty
nearly at the end of her self-composure."

Dr. Martin gave the younger man a searching glance, and then said, "You
are right, Mr. Hepworth. It may be advisable that I should be there when
Miss Fairfield comes off the stage. I will go at once. Will you come with
me?"

"Yes," said Mr. Hepworth, and the two men quietly left the room, and
hastened around the building to the side entrance.

As Mr. Hepworth had assisted with the scenery for the play, and had been
present at one or two rehearsals, he knew his way about, and guided Dr.
Martin through the corridors to the room where the girls were gathered,
waiting their cue to go on the stage for the final tableau and chorus.

Lorraine and Hilda looked at each other comprehendingly, as the two men
appeared, but the other girls wondered at this apparent intrusion.

Then as the time came, they all went on the stage, and Dr. Martin and Mr.
Hepworth, watching from the side, saw them form the pretty final tableau.

Patty in a spangled dress and tinsel crown, waving a gilt wand, stood on
a high pedestal. Around her, on lower pedestals, and on the floor, were
the rest of the fairy maidens in their glittering costumes.

The last notes of the chorus rang out, and amidst a burst of applause the
curtain fell. The applause continued so strongly that the curtain was
immediately raised again, and the delighted audience viewed once more the
pretty scene.

Mr. Hepworth was nearer the stage than Dr. Martin, in fact, in his
anxiety, he was almost edging on to it, and while the curtain was up, and
the audience was applauding, and the orchestra was playing, and the
calcium lights were flashing their vari-coloured rays, his intense
watchfulness noticed a slight shudder pass over Patty's form, then she
swayed slightly, and her eyes closed.

In a flash Mr. Hepworth had himself rung the bell that meant the drop of
the curtain, and as the curtain came down, he sprang forward among the
bewildered girls, and reached the tall pedestal just in time to catch
Patty as she tottered and fell.

"She has only fainted," he said, as he carried her off the stage, "please
don't crowd around, she will be all right in a moment."

He carried her to the dressing-room and gently laid her on a couch. Dr.
Martin followed closely, and Mr. Hepworth left Patty in his charge.

"You, Miss Hamilton, go in there," he said to Lorraine, at the door, "and
see if you can help Dr. Martin. I will speak to the Fairfields and see
that the carriage is ready. I don't think the audience knows anything
about it, and there need be no fuss or commotion."

Quick-witted Hilda grasped the situation, and kept the crowd of anxious
girls out of the dressing-room, while Dr. Martin administered
restoratives to Patty.

But it was not so easy to overcome the faintness that had seized upon
her. When at last she did open her eyes, it was only to close them again
in another period of exhaustion.

However, this seemed to encourage Dr. Martin.

"It's better than I feared," he said. "She isn't delirious. There is no
threat of brain fever. She will soon revive now, and we can safely take
her home."

And so when the Doctor declared that she might now be moved, Mr.
Fairfield supported her on one side, and Kenneth on the other as they
took her to the carriage.

"Get in, Mrs. Fairfield," said Kenneth, after Patty was safely seated by
her father, "and you too, Dr. Martin. I'll jump up on the box with the
driver. Perhaps I can help you at the house."

So away they went, without a word or a thought for poor Mr. Hepworth, to
whose watchfulness was really due the fact of Dr. Martin's opportune
assistance. And too, if Mr. Hepworth had not seen the first signs of
Patty's loss of consciousness, her fall from the high pedestal might have
proved a serious accident.

Although Dr. Martin told the family afterward of Mr. Hepworth's kind
thoughtfulness, it went unnoted at the time. But of this, Mr. Hepworth
himself was rather glad than otherwise. His affection for Patty was such
that he did not wish the girl to feel that she owed him gratitude, and he
preferred to have no claim of the sort upon her.

When the party reached the Fairfield house, Patty had revived enough to
talk rationally, but she was very weak, and seemed to have lost all
enthusiasm and even interest in the occasion.

"It's all over, isn't it?" she asked of her father in a helpless,
pathetic little voice.

"Yes, Puss," said Mr. Fairfield, cheerily, "it's all over, and it was a
perfect success. Now don't bother your head about it any more, but just
get rested, and get a good sleep, and then we'll talk it over."

Patty was quite willing not to discuss the subject, and with Nan's
assistance she was soon in bed and sound asleep.

Dr. Martin stood watching her. "I don't know," he said to Nan, "whether
this sleep will last or not. If it does all will be well, but she may
wake up soon, and become nervous and hysterical. In that case give her
these drops, which will have a speedy effect. I will be around again
early to-morrow morning."

But the doctor's fears were not realised. Patty slept deeply all through
the night, and had not waked when the doctor came in the morning.

"Don't waken her," he said, as he looked at the sleeping girl. "She's all
right. There's no fear of nervous prostration now. The stress is over,
and her good constitution and healthy nature are reasserting themselves
and will conquer. She isn't of a nervous temperament, and she is simply
exhausted from overwork. Don't waken her, let her sleep it out."

And so Patty slept until afternoon, and then awoke, feeling more like her
old self than she had for many days.

"Nan," she called, and Nan came flying in from the next room.

"I'm awful hungry," said Patty, "and I am pretty tired, but the play is
over, isn't it, Nan? I can't seem to remember about last night."

"Yes, it's over, Patsy, and everything is all right, and you haven't a
thing to do but get rested. Will you have your breakfast now, or your
luncheon?--because you've really skipped both."

"Then I'll have them both," said Patty with decision. "I'm hungry enough
to eat a house."

Later, Patty insisted on dressing and going downstairs for dinner,
declaring she felt perfectly well, but the exertion tired her more than
she cared to admit, and when Dr. Martin came in the evening, she
questioned him directly.

"I'm not really ill, am I, Dr. Martin? I'll be all right in a day or two,
won't I? It's so silly to get tired just walking downstairs."

"Don't be alarmed," said the old doctor, "you will be all right in a day
or two. By day after to-morrow you can walk downstairs, or run down, if
you like, without feeling tired at all."

"Then that's all right," said Patty. "I suppose I did do too much with my
school work, and the play, and everything, but I couldn't seem to help
it, and if I get over it in a week I'll be satisfied. In fact, I shan't
mind a bit, lounging around and resting for a few days."

"That's just the thing for you to do," agreed Dr. Martin, "and I'll give
you another prescription. After a week or two of rest, you need
recreation. You must get out of the city, and go somewhere in the
country. Not seashore or the mountains just yet, but away into the
country, where you'll have plenty of fresh air and nothing to do. You
mustn't look at a book of any sort or description for a month or two at
least. Will you promise me that?"

"With great pleasure," said Patty, gaily, "I don't think I shall care to
see a book all summer long; not a schoolbook anyway. I suppose I may read
storybooks."

"Not at present," said the doctor. "Let alone books of all sorts for a
couple of months, and after that I'll see about it. What you want is
plenty of fresh air and outdoor exercise. Then you'll get back the roses
in your cheeks, and add a few pounds of flesh to your attenuated frame."

"Your prescription sounds attractive," said Patty, "but where shall I
go?"

"We'll arrange all that," said Mr. Fairfield. "I think myself that all
you need is recreation and rest, with a fair proportion of each."

"So do I," said Patty; "I don't want to go to an old farmhouse, where
there isn't a thing to do but walk in the orchard; I want to go where
I'll have some fun."

"Go ahead," said the doctor, "fun won't hurt you any as long as it's
outdoor sports or merry society. But don't get up any plays, or any such
foolishness, where fun is only a mistaken name for hard work."

Patty promised this, and Dr. Martin went away without any doubts as to
the speedy and entire recovery of his patient.

Mr. Fairfield and Nan quite agreed with the doctor's opinion that Patty
ought to go away for a rest and a pleasant vacation. The next thing was
to decide where she should go. It was out of the question, of course, to
consider any strange place for her to go alone, and as Mr. Fairfield
could not begin his vacation until July, and Nan was not willing to leave
him, there seemed to be no one to accompany Patty.

The only places, therefore, that Mr. Fairfield could think of, were for
her to go to Vernondale and visit the Elliotts, or down to the
Hurly-Burly where the Barlows had already gone for their summer season.

But neither of these plans suited Patty at all, for she said that
Vernondale would be no rest and not much fun. She was fond of her Elliott
cousins, but she felt sure that they would treat her as a semi-invalid
and coddle her until she went frantic.

The Hurly-Burly, she said, would be just the opposite. They would have no
consideration down there for the fact that she wanted a rest, but would
make her jog about hither and thither, taking long tramps and going on
tiresome picnics whether she wanted to or not.

So neither of these plans seemed just the thing, and Nan's proposal that
Patty go to Philadelphia and spend June with Mrs. Allen wasn't quite what
Patty wanted. Indeed, Patty did not know herself exactly what she wanted,
which was pretty good proof that she was not so far from the borders of
Nervous Land as they had believed.

And so when Elise came over one afternoon, and brought with her an
invitation for Patty, that young woman showed no hesitation in announcing
at once that it was exactly what she wanted. The invitation was nothing
more nor less than to go on a long motor-car trip with the Farringtons.

"It will be perfectly splendid," said Elise, "if you'll only go, Patty."

"Go!" said Patty, "I should think I would go! It's perfectly splendid of
you to invite me. Who are going?"

"Just father and mother, and Roger and myself," said Elise, "and you will
make five. Roger can run the car, or father can, either, for that matter,
so we won't take a man, and father has had a new top put on his big
touring-car and we can pile any amount of luggage up on it, so you can
take all the frocks you want to. We'll stop at places here and there, you
know, to visit, and of course, we'll always stop for meals and to stay
over night."

"But perhaps they wouldn't want me," said Patty, "where you go to visit."

"Nonsense, of course they will. Why, I wrote to Bertha Warner that I
wanted to bring you, and she said she'd love to have you come."

"How could she say so? she doesn't know me."

"Well, I told her all about you, and she's fully prepared to love you as
I do. Oh, do you suppose your people will let you go?"

"Of course they will. They'll be perfectly delighted to have me go."

Patty was right. When she told her father and Nan about the delightful
invitation, they were almost as pleased as she was herself, and Mr.
Fairfield gave ready permission.

The projected trip entirely fulfilled Dr. Martin's requisites of fresh
air, out-of-door exercise, and a good time, and when he was told of the
plan he also expressed his entire approval.



CHAPTER X

A MOTOR TRIP


Preparations began at once. It was now the first of June and they were to
start on the sixth.

There were delightful shopping excursions for the replenishing of Patty's
wardrobe, and Nan gladly assisted Patty to get everything in order for
her trip.

At last the day of starting came, and a more beautiful day could not be
imagined. It was typical June weather, and the sun shone pleasantly, but
not too warmly, from a clear blue sky.

Patty's only experience in motoring had been her trip to Atlantic City,
but that was only a short ride compared to the contemplated tour of the
Farringtons.

Mr. Farrington's huge car seemed to be furnished with everything
necessary for a long journey. Although they would usually take their
meals at hotels in the towns through which they passed, Mrs. Farrington
explained they might occasionally wish to have tea or even luncheon on
the road, so the car was provided with both tea-basket and luncheon-kit.
The novelty of this paraphernalia was fascinating to Patty, and she
peeped into the well-appointed baskets with chuckles of delight at the
anticipated pleasure of making use of them.

Patty's trunk was put up on top among the others, her hand-luggage was
stowed away in its place, and with affectionate good-byes to Nan and her
father, she took her seat in the tonneau between Mrs. Farrington and
Elise, and away they started.

Mr. Farrington and Roger, who sat in front, were in the gayest of spirits
and everything was promising for a happy journey.

As they threaded their way through the crowded city streets, Patty
rejoiced to think that they would soon be out in the open country where
they would have wide roads with comparatively few travellers.

"What is the name of your machine, Mr. Farrington?" she asked, as they
whizzed along.

"I may as well own up," that gentleman answered, laughing. "I have named
it 'The Fact.'"

"'The Fact,'" repeated Patty, "what a funny name. Why do you call it
that? You must have some reason."

"I have," said Mr. Farrington, in a tone of mock despair. "I call it The
Fact because it is a stubborn thing."

Patty laughed merrily at this. "I'm afraid it's a libel," she said, "I'm
sure I don't see anything stubborn about the way it acts. It's going
beautifully."

"Yes, it is," said Mr. Farrington, "and I hope it will continue to do so,
but I may as well warn you that it has a most reprehensible habit of
stopping now and then, and utterly refusing to proceed. And this, without
any apparent reason, except sheer stubbornness."

"How do you finally induce it to move?" asked Patty, interested by this
trait.

"We don't induce it," said Elise, "we just sit and wait, and when the old
thing gets ready to move, it just draws a long breath and humps itself up
and down a few times, and turns a couple of somersaults, and moves on."

"What an exciting experience," said Patty. "When do you think it will
begin any such performance as that?"

"You can't tell," said Mr. Farrington. "It's as uncertain as the
weather."

"More so," said Roger. "The weather sometimes gives you warning of its
intentions, but The Fact just selects a moment when you're the farthest
possible distance from civilisation or help of any kind, and then it just
sits down and refuses to get up."

"Well, we won't cross that bridge until we come to it," said Mr.
Farrington. "Sometimes we run a week without any such mishap."

And truly there seemed no danger at present, for the big car drove ahead
as smoothly and easily as a railroad train, and Patty lay back in the
luxurious tonneau, feeling that at last she could get rested and have a
good time both at once.

The wonderful exhilaration of the swift motion through the soft June air,
the delightful sensation of the breeze which was caused by the motion of
the car, and the ever-changing natural panorama on either side of her,
gave Patty the sensation of having suddenly been transported to some
other country than that in which she had been living the past few weeks.

And so pleasantly friendly were her relations with Mrs. Farrington and
Elise that it did not seem necessary to make remarks for the sake of
keeping up the conversation. There was much pleasant chat and discussion
as they passed points of interest or diverting scenes, but then again
there were occasional pauses when they all gave themselves up to the
enjoyment of the delightful motion of the car.

Patty began to realise what was meant by the phrase, "automobile
elation." She seemed to feel an uplifting of her spirit, and a strange
thrill of exquisite happiness, while all trace of nervousness or petty
worry was brushed away like a cobweb.

Her lungs seemed filled with pure air, and further, she had a whimsical
sense that she was breathing the very blue of the sky.

She said this to Mrs. Farrington, and that lady smiled as she answered,
"That's right, Patty; if you feel that way, you are a true motorist. Not
everyone does. There are some who only look upon a motor-car as a machine
to transport them from one place to another, but to me it is the very
fairyland of motion."

Patty's eyes shone in sympathy with this idea, but Roger turned around
laughingly, and said, "You'd better be careful how you breathe the blue
sky, Patty, for there's a little cloud over there that may stick in your
throat."

Patty looked at the tiny white cloud, and responded, "If you go much
faster, Roger, I'm afraid we'll fly right up there, and run over that
poor little cloud."

"Let's do it," said Roger. "There's no fine for running over a cloud, is
there, Dad?"

As he spoke, Roger put on a higher speed, and then they flew so fast that
Patty began to be almost frightened. But her fear did not last long, for
in a moment the great car gave a kind of a groan, and then a snort, and
then a wheeze, and stopped; not suddenly, but with a provokingly
determined slowness, that seemed to imply no intention of moving on
again. After a moment the great wheels ceased to revolve, and the car
stood stubbornly still, while Mr. Farrington and Roger looked at each
other, with faces of comical dismay.

"We're in for it!" said Mr. Farrington, in a resigned tone.

"Then we must get out for it!" said Roger, as he jumped down from his
seat, and opened the tool-chest.

Mrs. Farrington groaned. "Now, you see, Patty," she said, "how the car
lives up to its name. I hoped this wouldn't happen so soon."

"What is the matter?" asked Patty. "Why doesn't it go?"

"Patty," said Elise, looking at her solemnly, "I see you have yet to
learn the first lesson of automobile etiquette. Never, my child, whatever
happens, _never_ inquire why a car doesn't go! That is something that
nobody ever knows, and they wouldn't tell if they did know, and, besides,
if they did know, they'd know wrong."

Mrs. Farrington laughed at Elise's coherent explanation, but she admitted
that it was pretty nearly right, after all. Meanwhile, Mr. Farrington and
Roger, with various queer-looking tools, were tinkering at the car here
and there, and though they did not seem to be doing any good, yet they
were evidently not discouraged, for they were whistling gaily, and now
and then made jesting remarks about the hopelessness of ever moving on
again.

"I think there's water in the tubes," said Roger, "but Dad thinks it's a
choked carburetter. So we're going to doctor for both."

"Very well," said Mrs. Farrington, calmly; "as there's no special scenery
to look at about here, I think I shall take a little nap. You girls can
get out and stroll around, if you like."

Mrs. Farrington settled herself comfortably in her corner, and closed her
eyes. Elise and Patty did get out, and walked up and down the road a
little, and then sat down on the bank by the roadside to chat. For the
twentieth time or more they talked over all the details of commencement
day, and congratulated themselves anew on the success of their
entertainment.

At last, after they had waited nearly two hours, Roger declared that
there was no earthly reason why they shouldn't start if they cared to.

It was part of Roger's fun, always to pretend that he could go on at any
moment if he desired to, and when kept waiting by the misconduct of the
car, he always made believe that he delayed the trip solely for his own
pleasure.

Likewise, if under such trying circumstances as they had just passed
through, he heard other automobiles or wagons coming, he would drop his
tools, lean idly against the car, with his hands in his pockets,
whistling, and apparently waiting there at his own pleasure.

All this amused Patty very much, and she began, as Elise said, to learn
the rules of automobile etiquette. It was not difficult with the
Farringtons, for they all had a good sense of humour, and were always
more inclined to laugh than cry over spilled milk.

When Roger made this announcement, Elise jumped up, and crying, "Come on,
Patty," ran back to the car and jumped in, purposely waking her mother as
she did so.

Mrs. Farrington placidly took in the situation, and remarked that she was
in no hurry, but if they cared to go on she was quite ready.

And so with laughter and gay chatter they started on again, and the car
ran as smoothly as it had before the halt.

But it was nearly sundown, and there were many miles yet to travel before
they reached the hotel where they had expected to dine and stay over
night.

"Shall we go on, Mother?" said Mr. Farrington. "Can you wait until nine
o'clock or thereabouts for your dinner? Or shall we stop at some
farmhouse, and so keep ourselves from starvation?"

"I would rather go on," said Mrs. Farrington, "if the girls don't mind."

The girls didn't mind, and so they plunged ahead while the sun set and
the darkness fell. There was no moon, and a slight cloudiness hid the
stars. Roger lighted the lamps, but they cast such weird shadows that
they seemed to make the darkness blacker than ever.

Patty was not exactly afraid, but the experience was so new to her that
she felt she would be glad when they reached the hotel. Perhaps Mr.
Farrington discerned this, for he took especial pains to entertain his
young guest, and divert her mind from thoughts of possible danger. So he
beguiled the way with jokes and funny stories, until Patty forgot her
anxiety, and the first thing she knew they were rolling up the driveway
to the hotel.

Floods of light streamed from the windows and the great doors, and
strains of music could be heard from within.

"Thank goodness we're here!" said Mrs. Farrington. "Jump out, girlies,
and let us seek shelter at once."

Roger remained in the car to take it away to the garage, and Mr.
Farrington accompanied the ladies into the hotel.

Much as she had enjoyed the ride, Patty felt glad to get into the warm,
lighted house, and very soon the party were shown to their rooms.

Patty and Elise shared a large room whose twin beds were covered with
spreads of gaily-flowered chintz. Curtains of the same material hung at
the windows, and draped the dressing-table.

"What a pleasant, homelike room," said Patty, as she looked about.

"Yes," said Elise, "this is a nice old country hotel. We've been here
before. Hurry, Patty, let's dress for dinner quickly."

But Patty was surveying herself in the long pierglass that hung between
two windows.

Nan had selected her motoring outfit, and she had donned it that morning
so hastily that she hadn't really had an opportunity to observe herself.
But now, as she looked at the rather shapeless figure in the long pongee
coat, and the queer shirred hood of the same material, and as she noted
the voluminous chiffon veil with its funny little front window of mica,
she concluded that she looked more like a goblin in a fairy play than a
human being.

"Do stop admiring your new clothes, Patty, and get dressed," said Elise,
who was on her knees before an open suitcase, shaking out Patty's skirt
and bodice. "Get off those togs, and get ready to put these on. This is a
sweet little Dresden silk; I didn't know you had it. Is it new?"

"Yes," said Patty, "Nan bought it for me. She said it wouldn't take much
room in the suitcase, and would be useful for a dinner dress."

"It's lovely," said Elise. "Now get into it, and I'll hook you up."

So Patty got out of what she called her goblin clothes, but was still
giggling at them as she hung them away in the wardrobe.

Less than half an hour later the two girls, spick and span in their
dainty dresses, and with fresh white bows on their hair, went together
down the staircase. They found Mr. and Mrs. Farrington awaiting them, and
soon Roger appeared, and they went to the dining-room for a late dinner.

Then Patty discovered what automobile hunger was.

"I'm simply ravenous," she declared, "but I didn't know it until this
minute."

"That's part of the experience," said Mrs. Farrington, "the appetite
caused by motoring is the largest known variety, and that's why I wanted
to push on here, where we could get a good dinner, instead of taking our
chances at some farmhouse."

They were the only guests in the dining-room at that late hour, and so
they made a merry meal of it, and after dinner went back to the large
parlours, to sit for a while listening to the music. But they did not
tarry long, for as Patty discovered, another consequence of a motor ride
was a strong inclination to go to bed early.



CHAPTER XI

DICK PHELPS


The travellers did not rise early the next morning, and ten o'clock found
them still seated at the breakfast table.

"I do hate to hurry," said Mrs. Farrington, comfortably sipping her
coffee. "So many people think that an automobile tour means getting up
early, and hustling off at daybreak."

"I'm glad those are your sentiments," said Patty, "for I quite agree with
you. I've done enough hustling the last month or two, and I'm delighted
to take things more slowly for a change."

"I think," said Mr. Farrington, "that as it is such a pleasant day, it
would be a good plan to take some luncheon with us and picnic by the
roadside. We could then get to the Warners'in time for dinner, though
perhaps a little late."

"Lovely!" cried Elise, "I'm perfectly crazy to use that new luncheon-kit.
It's great, Patty! It has the cunningest alcohol stove, and every little
contraption you could possibly think of."

"I know it," said Patty. "I peeped inside yesterday, and the array of
forks and spoons and plates and bottles was perfectly fascinating."

"Very well," said Mrs. Farrington to her husband, "ask them to fill the
kit properly, and I think myself we will enjoy a little picnic."

So Mr. Farrington went to see about the provisions, and Roger to get the
car ready, while the ladies sauntered about the piazza.

The route of their journey lay along the shore of Long Island Sound, and
the hotel where they had stayed over night was not far from New Haven,
and quite near the water's edge.

Patty was very fond of the water, and gazed with delight at the sparkling
Sound, dotted with white steamers and various sorts of fishing-craft. For
her part she would have been glad to stay longer at this hotel, but the
Warners, whom they were going to visit, were expecting them to dinner that
evening. These people, Patty knew, lived in a beautiful country place
called "Pine Branches," which was near Springfield in Massachusetts. Patty
did not know the Warners, but Elise had assured her that they were
delightful people and were prepared to give her a warm welcome.

When the car came to the door the ladies were all ready to continue the
journey. They had again donned their queer-looking motor-clothes, and
though Patty was beginning to get used to their appearance, they still
seemed to her like a trio of brownies or other queer beings as they took
their seats in the car.

Roger climbed to his place, touched a lever by his side, and swung the
car down the drive with an air of what seemed to Patty justifiable pride.
The freshly cleaned car was so daintily spick and span, the day was so
perfect, and the merry-hearted passengers in such a gay and festive mood,
that there was indeed reason for a feeling of general satisfaction.

Away they went at a rapid speed, which Patty thought must be beyond the
allowed limit, but Roger assured her to the contrary.

For many miles their course lay along a fine road which followed the
shore of the Sound. This delighted Patty, as she was still able to gaze
out over the blue water, and at the same time enjoy the wonderful motion
of the car.

But soon their course changed and they turned inland, on the road to
Hartford. Patty was surprised at Roger's knowledge of the way, but the
young man was well provided with road maps and guidebooks, of which he
had made careful study.

"How beautifully the car goes," said Patty. "It doesn't make the least
fuss, even on the upgrades."

"You must learn the vocabulary, Patty," said Roger. "When a machine goes
smoothly as The Fact is doing now, the proper expression is that it runs
sweetly."

"Sweetly!" exclaimed Patty. "How silly. It sounds like a gushing girl."

"That doesn't matter," said Roger, serenely. "If you go on motor trips,
you must learn to talk motor-jargon."

"All right," said Patty, "I'm willing to learn, and I do think the way
this car goes it is just too sweet for anything!"

They all laughed at this, but their gaiety was short-lived, for just then
there was a peculiar crunching sound that seemed to mean disaster,
judging from the expressions of dismay on the faces of the Farrington
family.

"What is it?" asked Patty, forgetting that she had been told never to ask
questions on such occasions.

"Patty," said Roger, making a comical face at her, "my countenance now
presents an expression typical of disgust, irritation, and impatience. I
now wave my right hand thus, which is a Delsarte gesture expressing
exasperation with a trace of anger. I next give voice to my sentiments,
merely to remark in my usual calm and disinterested way, that a belt has
broken and the mending thereof will consume a portion of time, the length
of which may be estimated only after it has elapsed."

Patty laughed heartily at this harangue, but gathered from Roger's
nonsense the interesting fact that an accident had occurred, and that a
delay was inevitable. Nobody seemed especially surprised. Indeed, they
took it quite as a matter of course, and Mrs. Farrington opened a new
magazine which she had brought with her, and calmly settled herself to
read.

But Elise said, "Well, I'm already starving with hunger, and I think we
may as well open that kit of provisions, and have our picnic right here,
while Roger is mending the belt."

"Elise," said her father jestingly, "you sometimes show signs of almost
human intelligence! Your plan is a positive inspiration, for I confess
that I myself feel the gnawings of hunger. Let us eat the hard-boiled
eggs and ham sandwiches that we have with us, and then if we like, we can
stop at Hartford this afternoon for a more satisfying lunch, as I begin
to think we will not reach Pine Branches until sometime later than their
usual dinner hour."

They all agreed to this plan, and Roger, with his peculiar sensitiveness
toward being discovered with his car at a disadvantage, said seriously:
"I see a racing machine coming, and when it passes us I hope you people
will act as if we had stopped here only to lunch, and not because this
ridiculous belt chose to break itself just now."

This trait of Roger's amused Patty very much, but she was quite ready to
humour her friend, and agreed to do her part.

She looked where Roger had indicated, and though she could see what
looked like a black speck on a distant road, she wondered how Roger could
know it was a racing machine that was approaching. However, she realised
that there were many details of motoring of which she had as yet no idea,
and she turned her attention to helping the others spread out the
luncheon. The beautifully furnished basket was a delight to Patty. She
was amazed to see how cleverly a large amount of paraphernalia could be
stowed in a small amount of space. The kit was arranged for six persons,
and contained half-dozens of knives, forks, spoons, and even egg-spoons;
also plates, cups, napkins, and everything with which to serve a
comfortable meal. There were sandwich-boxes, salad-boxes, butter-jars,
tea and coffee cans, salt, pepper, and all necessary condiments. Then
there was the alcohol stove, with its water-kettle and chafing dish. At
the sight of all these things, which seemed to come out of the kit as out
of a magician's hat, Patty's eyes danced.

"Let me cook," she begged, and Mrs. Farrington and Elise were only too
glad to be relieved of this duty.

There wasn't much cooking to do, as sandwiches, cold meats, salad, and
sweets were lavishly provided, but Patty made tea, and then boiled a few
eggs just for the fun of doing it.

Preparations for the picnic were scarcely under way when the racing-car
that Roger had seen in the distance came near them. There was a whirring
sound as it approached, and Patty glanced up from her alcohol stove to
see that it was occupied by only one man. He was slowing speed, and
evidently intended to stop. Long before he had reached them, Roger had
hidden his tools, and though his work on the broken belt was not
completed, he busied himself with the luncheon preparations, as if that
was his sole thought.

The racing-car stopped and the man who was driving it got out.

At sight of him Patty with difficulty restrained her laughter, for though
their own garb was queer, it was rational compared to the appearance of
this newcomer.

A racing suit is, with perhaps the exception of a diver's costume, the
most absurd-looking dress a man can get into. The stranger's suit was of
black rubber, tightly strapped at the wrists and ankles, but it was his
head-gear which gave the man his weird and uncanny effect. It was a
combination of mask, goggles, hood, earflaps, and neckshield which was so
arranged with hinges that the noseguard and mouthpiece worked
independently of each other.

At any rate, it seemed to Patty the funniest show she had ever seen, and
she couldn't help laughing. The man didn't seem to mind, however, and
after he had bowed silently for a moment or two with great enjoyment of
their mystification, he pulled off his astonishing head-gear and
disclosed his features.

"Dick Phelps!" exclaimed Mr. Farrington, "why, how are you, old man? I'm
right down glad to see you!"

Mr. Phelps was a friend of the Farrington family, and quite naturally
they invited him to lunch with them.

"Indeed I will," said the visitor, "for I started at daybreak, and I've
had nothing to eat since. I can't tarry long though, as I must make New
York City to-night."

Mr. Phelps was a good-looking young man of about thirty years, and so
pleased was he with Patty's efforts in the cooking line, that he ate all
the eggs she had boiled, and drank nearly all the tea, besides making
serious inroads on the viands they had brought with them.

"It doesn't matter if I do eat up all your food," said the young man,
pleasantly, "for you can stop anywhere and get more, but I mustn't stop
again until I reach the city, and I probably won't have a chance to eat
then, as I must push on to Long Island."

The Farringtons were quite willing to refresh the stranger within their
gates, and they all enjoyed the merry little picnic.

"Where are you bound?" asked Mr. Phelps as he prepared to continue his
way.

"To Pine Branches first," said Mrs. Farrington, "the country house of a
friend. It's near Springfield, and from there we shall make short trips,
and later on, continue our way in some other direction,--which way we
haven't yet decided."

"Good enough," said Mr. Phelps, "then I'll probably see you again. I am
often a guest at Pine Branches myself, and shall hope to run across you."

As every motorist is necessarily interested in his friend's car, Mr.
Phelps naturally turned to inspect the Farrington machine before getting
into his own.

And so, to Roger's chagrin, he was obliged to admit that he was even then
under the necessity of mending a broken belt.

But to Roger's relief, Mr. Phelps took almost no notice of it, merely
saying that a detail defect was liable to happen to anybody. He looked
over the vital parts of the motor, and complimented Roger on its fine
condition. This pleased the boy greatly, and resuming his work after Mr.
Phelps' departure, he patched up the belt, while the others repacked the
kit, and soon they started off again.

Swiftly and smoothly they ran along over the beautiful roads,
occasionally meeting other touring-parties apparently as happy as they
were themselves. Sometimes they exchanged merry greetings as they passed,
for all motorists belong to one great, though unorganised, fraternity.

"I've already discovered that trifling accidents are a part of the
performance, and I've also discovered that they're easily remedied and
soon over, and that when they are over they are quickly forgotten and it
seems impossible that they should ever occur again."

"You've sized it up pretty fairly, Patty," said Roger, "and though I
never before thought it out for myself, I agree with you that that is the
true way to look at it."

On they went, leaving the miles behind them, and as Roger was anxious to
make up for lost time he went at a slightly higher speed than he would
have otherwise done. He slowed down, however, when they passed horses or
when they went through towns or villages.

Patty was greatly interested in the many small villages through which
they rode, as nearly every one showed quaint or humorous scenes. Dogs
would come out and bark at them, children would scream after them, and
even the grown-up citizens of the hamlets would stare at them as if they
had never seen a motor-car before, though Patty reasoned that surely many
of them must have travelled that same road.

"When you meet another village, Roger," she said, "do go through it more
slowly, for I like to see the funny people."

"Very well," said Roger, "you may stop and get a drink at the town pump,
if you like."

"No, thank you," said Patty, "I don't want to get out, but I would like
to stop a minute or two in one of them."

Roger would willingly have granted Patty's wish, but he was deprived of
this privilege by the car itself. Just as they neared a small settlement
known as Huntley's Corners, another ominous sound from the machine gave
warning.

"That belt again!" exclaimed Roger. "Patty, the probabilities are that
you'll have all the time you want to study up this village, and even
learn the life history of the oldest inhabitant."

"What an annoying belt it is," said Mrs. Farrington in her pleasant way.
"Don't you think, Roger dear, that you had better get a new belt and be
done with it?"

"That's just what I do think, Mother, but somehow I can't persuade myself
that they keep them for sale at this corner grocery."

The car had reached the only store in the settlement, and stopped almost
in front of it.

Patty was beginning to learn the different kinds of stops that a
motor-car can make, and she felt pretty sure that this was not a
momentary pause, but a stop that threatened a considerable delay.

She said as much to Roger, and he replied, "Patty, you're an apt pupil.
The Fact has paused here not for a day, but for all time, unless
something pretty marvellous can be done in the way of belt mending!"

Patty began to think that accidents were of somewhat frequent occurrence,
but Elise said, cheerfully, "This seems to be an off day. Why, sometimes
we run sweetly for a week, without a word from the belt. Don't we,
Roger?"

"Yes, indeed," said Roger, "but Patty may as well get used to the seamy
side of motoring, and learn to like it."

"I do like it," declared Patty, "and if we are going to take up our abode
here for the present, I'm going out to explore the town."

She jumped lightly from the car, and, accompanied by Elise, strolled down
the main, and, indeed, the only street of the village.



CHAPTER XII

OLD CHINA


A few doors away from the country store in front of which the automobile
stood, the girls saw a quaint old house, with a few toys and candies
displayed for sale in a front window.

"Isn't it funny?" said Elise, looking in at the unattractive collection.
"See that old-fashioned doll, and just look at that funny jumping-jack!"

"Yes," said Patty, whose quick eye had caught sight of something more
interesting, "but just look at that plate of peppermint candies. The
plate, I mean. Why, Elise, it's a Millennium plate!"

"What's that?" said Elise, looking blank.

"A Millennium plate? Why, Elise, it's about the most valuable bit of old
china there is in this country! Why, Nan would go raving crazy over that.
I'd rather take it home to her than any present I could buy in the city
shop. Elise, do you suppose whoever keeps this little store would sell
that plate?"

"No harm in trying," said Elise, "there's plenty of time, for it will
take Roger half an hour to fix that belt. Let's go in and ask her."

"No, no," said Patty, "that isn't the way. Wait a minute. I've been china
hunting before, with Nan, and with other people, and you mustn't go about
it like that. We must go in as if we were going to buy some of her other
goods, and then we'll work around to the plate by degrees. You buy
something else, Elise, and leave the plate part to me."

"Very well, I think I'll buy that rag doll, though I'm sure I don't know
what I'll ever do with it. No self-respecting child would accept it as a
gift."

"Well, buy something," said Patty, as they went in.

The opening of the door caused a big bell to jingle, and this apparently
called an old woman in from the back room. She was not very tidy, but she
was a good-natured body, and smiled pleasantly at the two girls.

"What is it, young ladies?" she asked, "can I sell you anything to-day?"

"Yes," said Elise, gravely, "I was passing your window, and I noticed a
doll there,--that one with the blue gingham dress. How much is it,
please?"

"That one," said the old lady, "is fifty cents. Seems sorter high, I
know, but that 'ere doll was made by a blind girl, that lives a piece up
the road; and though the sewin' ain't very good, it's a nine-days' wonder
that she can do it at all. And them dolls is her only support, and land
knows she don't sell hardly any!"

"I'll give you a dollar for it," said Elise, impulsively, for her
generous heart was touched. "Have you any more of them?"

"No," said the woman, in some amazement. "Malviny, she don't make many,
'cause they don't sell very rapid. But be you goin' her way? She might
have one to home, purty nigh finished."

"I don't know," said Elise, "where does she live?"

"Straight along, on the main road. You can't miss it, an old yaller
house, with the back burnt off."

It was Patty's turn now, and she said she would buy the peppermint
candies that were in the window.

"All of 'em?" asked the storekeeper, in surprise.

"Yes," said Patty, "all of them," and as the old woman lifted the plate
in from the window, Patty added, "And if you care to part with it, I'll
buy the plate too."

"Land, Miss, that 'ere old plate ain't no good; it's got a crack in it,
but if so be's you admire that pattern, I've got another in the
keeping-room that's just like it, only 'tain't cracked. 'Tain't even
chipped."

"Would you care to part with them both?" asked Patty, remembering that
this phrase was the preferred formula of all china hunters.

"Laws, yes, Miss, if you care to pay for 'em. Of course, I can't sell 'em
for nothin', for there's sometimes ladies as comes here, as has a fancy
to them old things. But these two plates is so humbly, that I didn't have
the face to show 'em to anybody as was lookin' for anteeks."

Patty's sense of honesty would not allow her to ignore the old woman's
mistake.

"They may seem homely to you," she said, "but I think it only right to
tell you that these plates are probably the most valuable of any you have
ever owned."

"Well, for the land o' goodness, ef you ain't honest! 'Tain't many as
would speak up like that! Jest come in the back room, and look at the
other plate."

The girls followed the old woman as she raised a calico curtain of a
flowered pattern, and let them through into the "keeping-room."

"There," she said with some pride as she took down a plate from the high
mantel. "There, you can see for yourself, there ain't no chip or crack
into it."

Sure enough, Patty held in her hand a perfect specimen of the Millennium
plate, so highly prized by collectors, and there was also the one she had
seen in the window, which though slightly cracked, was still in fair
condition.

"How much do you want for them?" asked Patty.

The old woman hesitated. It was not difficult to see that, although she
wanted to get as high a price as possible for her plates, yet she did not
want to ask so much that Patty would refuse to take them.

"You tell me," she said, insinuatingly, "'bout what you think them plates
is worth."

"No," said Patty, firmly, "I never buy things that way. You tell me your
price, and then I will buy them or not as I choose."

"Well," said the old woman, slowly, "the last lady that I sold plates to,
she give me fifty cents apiece for three of 'em, and though I think they
was purtier than these here, yet you tell me these is more vallyble, and
so," here the old woman made a great show of firmness, "and so my price
for these plates is a dollar apiece."

As soon as she had said it, she looked at Patty in alarm, greatly fearing
that she would not pay so much.

But Patty replied, "I will give you five dollars for the two,--because I
know that is nearer their value than the price you set."

"Bless your good heart, and your purty face, Miss," said the old woman,
as the tears came into her eyes. "I'm that obliged to you! I'll send the
money straight to my son John. He's in the hospital, poor chap, and he
needs it sore."

Elise had rarely been brought in contact with poverty and want, and her
generous heart was touched at once. She emptied her little purse out upon
the table, and was rejoiced to discover that it contained something over
ten dollars.

"Please accept that," she cried, "to buy things for your son, or for
yourself, as you choose."

[Illustration: "'There, you can see for yourself, there ain't no chip or
crack into it'"]

The old woman was quite overcome at this kindness, and was endeavouring
brokenly to express her thanks, when the bell on the shop door jangled
loudly.

Patty being nearest to the calico curtain drew it aside, to find Roger in
the little shop, looking very breathless and worried.

"Well, of all things," he exclaimed. "You girls have given us a scare.
We've hunted high and low through the whole of this metropolis. And if it
hadn't been that a little girl said she saw you come in here, I suppose
we'd now be dragging the brook. Come along, quick, we're all ready to
start."

"How could you get that belt mended so quickly?" asked Elise.

"Never mind that," said Roger, "just come along."

"Wait a minute," said Patty, hastily gathering up her precious plates,
while the old woman provided some newspaper wrapping.

Roger hurried the two girls back to the motor-car, saying as they went,
"We're not in any hurry to start, but Mother thinks you're drowned, and I
want to prove to her that she is mistaken."

The sight of the car caused Patty to go off into peals of laughter.

In front of the beautiful machine was an old farm wagon, and in front of
that were four horses. On the seat of the wagon sat a nonchalant-looking
farmer who seemed to take little interest in the proceedings.

"I wouldn't ask what's the matter for anything," said Patty, looking at
Roger, demurely, "but I suppose I am safe in assuming that you have those
horses there merely because you think they look well."

"That's it," said Roger. "Nothing adds to the good effect of a motor-car
like having a few fine horses attached to it. Jump in, girls."

The girls jumped in, and the caravan started. It was at a decidedly
different rate of speed from the way they had travelled before. But Patty
soon learned that Roger had found it impossible to fix the belt without
going to a repair shop, and there was none nearer than Hartford. With
some difficulty, and at considerable expense, he had persuaded the gruff
old farmer to tow them over the intervening ten miles.

Patty would have supposed that this would greatly humiliate the proud and
sensitive boy, but, to her surprise, Roger treated the affair as a good
joke. He leaned back in his seat, apparently pleased with his enforced
idleness, and chatted merrily as they slowly crawled along. Occasionally
he would plead with the old farmer to urge his horses a trifle faster,
and even hint at certain rewards if they should reach Hartford in a given
time. But the grumpy old man was proof against coaxing or even bribing,
and they jogged along, almost at a snail's pace.

Perceiving that there was no way of improving the situation, Roger gave
up trying, and turning partly around in his seat, proceeded to entertain
the girls to the best of his ability.

Patty hadn't known before what a jolly, good-natured boy Elise's brother
was, and she came to the conclusion that he had a good sense of
proportion, to be able to take things so easily, and to keep his temper
under such trying circumstances.

Only once did the surly old farmer address himself to his employers.
Turning around to face the occupants of the motor-car he bawled out:

"Whar do ye wanter go in Hartford?"

"To the largest repair shop for automobiles," answered Roger.

"Thought ye wanted ter go ter the State Insane Asylum," was the response
to this, and a suppressed chuckle could be heard, as the old man again
turned his attention to his not over-speedy steeds.

Though not a very subtle jest, this greatly amused the motor party, and
soon they entered the outskirts of the beautiful city of Hartford.

Mr. Farrington looked at his watch. "I suppose," he said, "it will take
the best part of an hour to have the machine attended to, for there are
two or three little matters which I want to have put in order, besides
the belt. I will stay and look after it, and the rest of you can take
your choice of two proceedings. One is, to go to a hotel, rest and
freshen yourselves up a bit, and have some luncheon. The other is, to
take a carriage and drive around the city. Hartford is a beautiful place,
and if Patty has never seen it, I am sure she will enjoy it."

"It doesn't matter to me," said Mrs. Farrington, "which we do; but I'm
quite sure I don't care to eat anything more just at present. We had our
picnic not so very long ago, you know."

"I know," said Mr. Farrington, "but consider this. When we start from
here with the car in good order, I hope to run straight through to
Warner's. But at best we cannot reach there before ten o'clock to-night.
So it's really advisable that you should fortify yourselves against the
long ride, for I should hate to delay matters further by stopping again
for dinner."

"Ten o'clock!" exclaimed Mrs. Farrington, "why, they expect us by seven,
at latest. It is too bad to keep them waiting like that. Can't we
telephone to them?"

"Yes," said Mr. Farrington, "and I will attend to that while I am waiting
for the car to be fixed. Now what would you people rather do?"

Both the girls declared they could not eat another luncheon at present,
and they thought it would be delightful to drive around and see the town.

So Mrs. Farrington settled the matter by deciding to take the drive. And
then she said, "We can leave the luncheon-kit at some hotel to be filled,
then we can pick it up again, and take it along with us, and when we get
hungry we can eat a light supper in the car."

"Great head, Mother!" cried Roger, "you are truly a genius!"

An open landau was engaged, and Roger and the three ladies started for
the drive. They spent a delightful hour viewing the points of interest in
the city, which the obliging driver pointed out to them.

They smiled when they came to the Insane Asylum, and though the grounds
looked attractive, they concluded not to go there to stay, even though
their old farmer friend had seemed to think it an appropriate place for
them.

"It's a strange thing," said Roger, "that people who do not ride in
automobiles always think that people who do are crazy. I'm sure I don't
know why."

"I wouldn't blame anybody for thinking Mr. Phelps crazy, if they had seen
him this morning," said Patty.

"That's only because you're not accustomed to seeing men in racing
costume," said Roger. "After you've seen a few more rigs like that, you
won't think anything of them."

"That's so," said Patty thoughtfully, "and if I had never before seen a
farmer in the queer overalls, and big straw hat, that our old country
gentleman wore, I daresay I should have thought his appearance quite as
crazy as that of Mr. Phelps."

"You have a logical mind, Patty," said Mrs. Farrington, "and on the whole
I think you are right."



CHAPTER XIII

A STORMY RIDE


The time passed quickly and soon the drive was over, and after calling
for their well-filled luncheon-basket, the quartet returned to the repair
shop to find Mr. Farrington all ready to start.

So into the car they all bundled, and Patty learned that each fresh start
during a motor journey revives the same feeling of delight that is felt
at the beginning of the trip.

She settled herself in her place with a little sigh of contentment, and
remarked that she had already begun to feel at home in The Fact, and she
only wished it was early morning, and they were starting for the day,
instead of but for a few hours.

"Don't you worry, my lady," said Roger, as he laid his hands lightly on
the steering-wheel, "you've a good many solid hours of travel ahead of
you right now. It's four o'clock, and if we reach Pine Branches by ten, I
will pat this old car fondly on the head, before I put her to bed."

The next few hours were perhaps the pleasantest they had yet spent. In
June, from four to seven is a delightful time, and as the roads were
perfect, and the car went along without the slightest jar or jolt, and
without even a hint of an accident of any sort, there was really not a
flaw to mar their pleasure.

As the sun set, and the twilight began to close around them, Patty
thought she had never seen anything more beautiful than the landscape
spread out before them. A broad white road stretched ahead like a ribbon.
On either side were sometimes green fields, darkening in the fading
light, and sometimes small groves of trees, which stood black against the
sky.

Then the sunset's colours faded, the trees grew blacker and denser, and
their shadows ceased to fall across the darkening road.

Roger lighted the lamps, and drew out extra fur robes, for the evening
air was growing chill.

"Isn't it wonderful!" said Patty, almost in a whisper. "Motoring by
daylight is gay and festive, but now, to glide along so swiftly and
silently through the darkness, is so strange that it's almost solemn. As
it grows darker and blacker, it seems as if we were gliding away,--away
into eternity."

"For gracious' sake, child," said Mrs. Farrington, "don't talk like that!
You give me the shivers; say something more lively, quick!"

Patty laughed merrily.

"That was only a passing mood," she said. "Really, I think it's awfully
jolly for us to be scooting along like this, with our lamps shining.
We're just like a great big fire-fly or a dancing will-o'-the-wisp."

"You have a well-trained imagination, Patty," said Mrs. Farrington,
laughing at the girl's quick change from grave to gay. "You can make it
obey your will, can't you?"

"Yes, ma'am," said Patty demurely, "what's the use of having an
imagination, if you can't make it work for you?"

The car was comfortably lighted inside as well as out, with electric
lamps, and the occupants were, as Mr. Farrington said, as cozy and
homelike as if they were in a gipsy waggon.

Patty laughed at the comparison and said she thought that very few gipsy
waggons had the luxuries and modern appliances of The Fact.

"That may be," said Mr. Farrington, "but you must admit the gipsy waggon
is the more picturesque vehicle. The way they shirr that calico
arrangement around their back door, has long been my admiration."

"It is beautiful," said Patty, "and the way the stove-pipe comes out of
the roof,----"

"And the children's heads out 'most anywhere," added Elise; "yes, it's
certainly picturesque."

"Speaking of gipsy waggons makes me hungry," said Mrs. Farrington. "What
time is it, and how soon shall we reach the Warners'?"

"It's after eight o'clock, my dear," said her husband, "and I'm sure we
can't get there before ten, and then, of course, we won't have dinner at
once, so do let us partake of a little light refreshment."

"Seems to me we are always eating," said Patty, "but I'm free to confess
that I'm about as hungry as a full grown anaconda."

Without reducing their speed, and they were going fairly fast, the
tourists indulged in a picnic luncheon. There was no tea making, but
sandwiches and little cakes and glasses of milk were gratefully accepted.

"This is all very well," said Mrs. Farrington, after supper was over,
"and I wouldn't for a moment have you think that I'm tired or frightened,
or the least mite timid. But if I may have my way, hereafter we'll make
no definite promises to be at any particular place at any particular
time. I wish when you had telephoned, John, you had told the Warners that
we wouldn't arrive until to-morrow. Then we could have stopped somewhere,
and spent the night like civilised beings, instead of doing this gipsy
act."

"It would have been a good idea," said Mr. Farrington thoughtfully, "but
it's a bit too late now, so there's no use worrying about it. But cheer
up, my friend, I think we'll arrive shortly."

"I think we won't," said Roger. "I don't want to be discouraging, but we
haven't passed the old stone quarry yet, and that's a mighty long way
this side of Pine Branches."

"You're sure you know the way, aren't you, Roger?" asked his mother, her
tone betraying the first trace of anxiety she had yet shown.

"Oh, yes," said Roger, and Patty wasn't sure whether she imagined it, or
whether the boy's answer was not quite as positive as it was meant to
sound.

"Well, I'm glad you do," said Mr. Farrington, "for I confess I don't.
We're doubtless on the right road, but I haven't as yet seen any familiar
landmarks."

"We're on the right road, all right," said Roger. "You know there's a
long stretch this side of Pine Branches, without any villages at all."

"I know it," said Mrs. Farrington, "but it is dotted with large country
places, and farms. Are you passing those, Roger? I can't seem to see
any?"

"I haven't noticed very many, Mother, but I think we haven't come to them
yet. Chirk up, it's quite some distance yet, but we'll keep going till we
get there."

"Oh," said Mrs. Farrington, "what if the belt should break, or something
give way!"

"Don't think of such things, Mother; nothing is going to give way. But if
it should, why, we'll just sit here till morning, and then we can see to
fix it."

Mrs. Farrington couldn't help laughing at Roger's good nature, but she
said, "Of course, I know everything's all right, and truly, I'm not a bit
frightened. But somehow, John, I'd feel more comfortable if you'd come
back here with me, and let one of the girls sit in front in your place."

"Certainly," said her husband, "hop over here, Elise."

"Let me go," cried Patty, who somehow felt, intuitively, that Elise would
prefer to stay behind with her parents. As for Patty herself, she had no
fear, and really wanted the exciting experience of sitting up in front
during this wild night ride.

Roger stopped the car, and the change was soon effected. As Patty
insisted upon it, she was allowed to go instead of Elise, and in a moment
they were off again.

"Do you know," said Patty to Roger, after they had started, "when I got
out then, I felt two or three drops of rain!"

"I do know it," said Roger, in a low tone, "and I may as well tell you,
Patty, that there's going to be a hard storm before long. Certainly
before we reach Pine Branches."

"How dreadful," said Patty, who was awed more by the anxious note in
Roger's voice, than by the thought of the rain storm. "Don't you think it
would be better," she went on, hoping to make a helpful suggestion, "if
we should put in to some house until the storm is over? Surely anybody
would give us shelter."

"I don't see any houses," said Roger, "and, Patty, I may as well own up,
we're off the road somehow. I think I must have taken the wrong turning
at that fork a few miles back. And though I'm not quite sure, yet I feel
a growing conviction that we're lost."

Although the situation was appalling, for some unexplainable reason Patty
couldn't help giggling.

"Lost!" she exclaimed in a tragic whisper, "in the middle of the night!
in a desolate country region! and a storm coming on!"

Patty's dramatic summary of the situation made Roger laugh too. And their
peals of gaiety reassured the three who sat behind.

"What are you laughing at?" said Elise; "I wish you'd tell me, for I'm
'most scared to death, and Roger, it's beginning to rain."

"You don't say so!" said Roger, in a tone of polite surprise, "why then
we must put on the curtains." He stopped the car, and jumping down from
his place, began to arrange the curtains which were always carried in
case of rain.

Mr. Farrington helped him, and as he did so, remarked, "Looks like
something of a storm, my boy."

"Father," said Roger, in a low voice, "it's going to rain cats and dogs,
and there may be a few thunders and lightnings. I hope mother won't have
hysterics, and I don't believe she will, if you sit by her and hold her
hand. I don't think we'd better stop. I think we'd better drive straight
ahead, but, Dad, I believe we're on the wrong road. We're not lost; I
know the way all right, but to go around the way we are going, is about
forty miles farther than the way I meant to go; and yet I don't dare turn
back and try to get on the other road again, for fear I'll really get
lost."

"Roger," said Mr. Farrington, "you're a first-class chauffeur, and I'll
give you a reference whenever you want one, but I must admit that
to-night you have succeeded in getting us into a pretty mess."

Roger was grateful enough for the light way in which his father treated
the rather serious situation, but the boy keenly felt his responsibility.

"Good old Dad," he said, "you're a brick! Get in back now, and look after
mother and Elise. Don't let them shoot me or anything, when I'm not
looking. Patty is a little trump; she is plucky clear through, and I am
glad to have her up in front with me. Now I'll do the best I can, and
drive straight through the storm. If I see any sort of a place where we
can turn in for shelter, I think we'd better do it, don't you?"

"I do, indeed," said his father. "Meantime, my boy, go ahead. I trust the
whole matter to you, for you're a more expert driver than I am."

It was already raining fast as the two men again climbed into the car.
But the curtains all around kept the travellers dry, and with its cheery
lights the interior of the car was cozy and pleasant.

In front was a curtain with a large window of mica which gave ample view
of the road ahead.

With his strong and well-arranged lights, Roger had no fear of collision,
and as they were well protected from the rain, his chief worriment was
because they were on the wrong road.

"It's miles and miles longer to go around this way," he confided to
Patty. "I don't know what time we'll ever get there."

"Never mind," said Patty, who wanted to cheer him up. "I think this is a
great experience. I suppose there's danger, but somehow I can't help
enjoying the wild excitement of it."

"I'm glad you like it," said Roger a little grimly. "I'm always pleased
to entertain my guests."

The storm was increasing, and now amounted to a gale. The rain dashed
against the curtains in great wet sheets, and finally forced its way in
at a few of the crevices.

Mrs. Farrington, sitting between her husband and daughter, was thoroughly
frightened and extremely uncomfortable, but she pluckily refrained from
giving way to her nervousness, and succeeded in behaving herself with
real bravery and courage.

Still the tempest grew. So wildly did it dash against the front curtain
that Patty and Roger could see scarcely a foot before the machine.

"There's one comfort," said Roger, through his clenched teeth, "we're not
in danger of running into anything, for no other fools would be abroad
such a night as this. Patty, I'm going to speed her! I'm going to race
the storm!"

"Do!" said Patty, who was wrought up to a tense pitch of excitement by
the war of the elements without, and the novelty of the situation within.

Roger increased the speed, and they flew through the black night and
dashed into the pouring rain, while Patty held her breath, and wondered
what would happen next.

On they went and on. Patty's imagination kept pace with her experiences
and through her mind flitted visions of Tam O'Shanter's ride, John
Gilpin's ride and the ride of Collins Graves. But all of these seemed
tame affairs beside their own break-neck speed through the wild night!

"Roger," said his mother, "Roger, won't you please----"

"Ask her not to speak to me just now, Patty, please," said the boy, in
such a tense, strained voice that Patty was frightened at last, but she
knew that if Roger were frightened, that was a special reason for her own
calmness and bravery. Turning slightly, she said, "Please don't speak to
him just now, Mrs. Farrington; he wants to put all his attention on his
steering."

"Very well," said Mrs. Farrington, who had not the slightest idea that
there was any cause for alarm, aside from the discomfort of the storm. "I
only wanted to tell him to watch out for railroad trains."

And then Patty realised that that was just what Roger was looking out
for! She could not see ahead into the blinding rain, but she knew they
were going down hill. She heard what seemed like the distant whistle of a
locomotive, and suddenly realising that Roger could not stop the car and
must cross the track before the train came, she thought at the same
moment that if Mrs. Farrington should impulsively reach over and grasp
the boy's arm, or anything like that, it might mean terrible disaster.

Acting upon a quick impulse to prevent this, she turned round herself,
and with a voice whose calmness surprised her, she said, "Please, Mrs.
Farrington, could you get me a sandwich out of the basket?"

"Bless you, no, child!" said that lady, her attention instantly diverted
by Patty's ruse. "That is, I don't believe I can, but I'll try."

Patty was far from wanting a sandwich, but she felt that she had at least
averted the possible danger of Mrs. Farrington's suddenly clutching
Roger, and as she turned back to face the front, the great car whizzed
across the slippery railroad track, just as Patty saw the headlight of a
locomotive not two hundred feet away from them.

"Oh, Roger," she breathed, clasping her hands tightly, lest she herself
should touch the boy, and so interfere with his steering.

"It's all right, Patty," said Roger in a breathless voice, and as she
looked at his white face, she realised the danger they had so narrowly
escaped.

Those in the back seat could not see the train, and the roar of the storm
drowned its noise.

"Patty," said Roger, very softly, "you saved us! I understood just what
you did. I felt _sure_ Mother was going to grab at me, when she heard
that whistle. It's a way she has, when she's nervous or frightened, and I
can't seem to make her stop it. But you saved the day with your sandwich
trick, and if ever we get in out of the rain, I'll tell you what I think
of you!"



CHAPTER XIV

PINE BRANCHES


There were still many miles to cover before they reached their
destination, but there were no more railroad tracks to cross, and as
there was little danger of meeting anyone, Roger let the car fly along at
a high rate of speed. The storm continued and though the party
endeavoured to keep cheerful, yet the situation was depressing, and each
found it difficult not to show it.

Roger, of course, devoted his exclusive attention to driving the car, and
Patty scarcely dared to breathe, lest she should disturb him in some way.

The three on the back seat became rather silent also, and at last
everybody was rejoiced when Roger said, "Those lights ahead are at the
entrance gate of Pine Branches."

Then the whole party waxed cheerful again.

Mr. Farrington looked at his watch. "It's quarter of two," he said, "do
you suppose we can get in at this hour?"

"Indeed we will get in," declared Roger, "if I have to drive this car
smash through the gates, and _bang_ in at the front door!"

The strain was beginning to tell on the boy, who had really had a fearful
night of it, and he went dashing up to the large gates with a feeling of
great relief that the end of the journey was at hand.

When they reached the entrance, the rain was coming down in torrents.
Great lanterns hung either side of the portal, and disclosed the fact
that the gates were shut and locked.

Roger had expected this, for he felt sure the Warners had long ago given
up all thought of seeing their guests that night.

Repeated soundings of the horn failed to bring any response from the
lodge-keeper, and Roger was just about to get out of the car, and ring
the bell at the large door, when Patty's quick eye discerned a faint
light at one of the windows.

"Sure enough," said Roger, as she called his attention to this, and after
a few moments the large door was opened, and the porter gazed out into
the storm.

"All right, sir, all right," he called, seeing the car; and donning a
great raincoat, he came out to open the gates.

"Well, well, sir," he said, as Mr. Farrington leaned out to speak with
him, "this is a night, sure enough! Mr. Warner, sir, he gave up looking
for you at midnight."

"I don't wonder," said Mr. Farrington, "and now, my man, can you ring
your people up, and is there anybody to take care of the car?"

"Yes, sir, yes, sir," said the porter, "just you drive on up to the
house, and I'll go back to the lodge and ring up the chauffeur, and as
soon as he can get around he'll take care of your car. I'll ring up the
housekeeper too, but she's a slow old body, and you'd best sound your
horn all the way up the drive."

Roger acted on this advice and The Fact went tooting up the driveway, and
finally came to a standstill at the front entrance of Pine Branches.

They were under a _porte-cochère_, and as soon as they stopped, Elise
jumped out, and began a vigorous onslaught on the doorbell. Roger kept
the horn sounding, and after a few moments the door was opened by a
somewhat sleepy-looking butler. As they entered, Mr. Warner, whose
appearance gave evidence of a hasty toilet, came flying down the
staircase, three steps at a time.

"Well, well, my friends," he exclaimed, "I'm glad to see you, I am
overjoyed to see you! We were expecting you just at this particular
minute, and I am so glad that you arrived on time. How do you do, Mrs.
Farrington? And Elise, my dear child, how you've grown since I saw you
last! This is Patty Fairfield, is it? How do you do, Patty? I am very
glad to see you. Roger, my boy, you look exhausted. Has your car been
cutting up jinks?"

As Mr. Warner talked, he bustled around shaking hands with his guests,
assisting them out of their wraps, and disposing of them in comfortable
chairs.

Meantime the rest of the family appeared.

Bertha Warner, a merry-looking girl of about Patty's age, came flying
downstairs, pinning her collar as she ran.

"How jolly of you," she cried, "to come in the middle of the night! Such
fun! I'm so glad to see you, Elise; and this is Patty Fairfield? Patty, I
think you're lovely."

The impulsive Bertha kissed Patty on both cheeks, and then turned to make
way for her mother.

Mrs. Warner was as merry and as hearty in her welcome as the others. She
acted as if it were an ordinary occurrence to be wakened from sleep at
two o'clock in the morning, to greet newly arrived guests, and she
greeted Patty quite as warmly as the others.

Suddenly a wild whoop was heard, and Winthrop Warner, the son of the
house, came running downstairs.

"Jolly old crowd!" he cried, "you wouldn't let a little thing like a
tornado stop your progress, would you? I'm glad you persevered and
reached here, even though a trifle late."

Winthrop was a broad-shouldered, athletic young man, of perhaps
twenty-four, and though he chaffed Roger merrily, he greeted the ladies
with hospitable courtesy, and looked about to see what he could do for
their further comfort. They were still in the great square entrance hall,
which was one of the most attractive rooms at Pine Branches. A huge
corner fireplace showed the charred logs of a fire which had only
recently gone out, and Winthrop rapidly twisted up some paper, which he
lighted, and procuring a few small sticks, soon had a crackling blaze.

"You must be damp and chilly," he said, "and a little fire will thaw you
out. Mother, will you get something ready for a feast?"

"We should have waited dinner," began Mrs. Warner, "and we did wait until
after ten, and then we gave you up."

"It's nearer time for breakfast than for dinner," said Elise.

"I don't want breakfast," declared Roger, "I don't like that meal anyway.
No shredded whisk brooms for me."

"We'll have a nondescript meal," said Mrs. Warner, gaily, "and each one
may call it by whatever name he chooses."

In a short time they were all invited to the dining-room, and found the
table filled with a variety of delicious viands.

Such a merry tableful of people as partook of the feast! The Warners
seemed to enjoy the fact that their guests arrived at such an
unconventional hour, and the Farrington party were so glad to have
reached their destination safely that they were in the highest of
spirits.

Of course the details of the trip had to be explained, and Roger was
unmercifully chaffed by Winthrop and his father for having taken the
wrong road. But so good-naturedly did the boy take the teasing, and so
successfully did he pretend that he came around that way merely for the
purpose of extending a pleasant tour, that he got the best of them after
all.

At last Mrs. Warner declared that people who had been through such
thrilling experiences must be in immediate need of rest, and she gave
orders that they must all start for bed forthwith.

It is needless to say that breakfast was not early next morning. Nor did
it consist as Roger had intimated, of "shredded whisk brooms," but was a
delightful meal, at which Patty became better acquainted with the Warner
family, and confirmed the pleasant impressions she had received the night
before.

After breakfast Mrs. Warner announced that everybody was to do exactly as
he or she pleased until the luncheon hour, but she had plans herself for
their entertainment in the afternoon.

So Winthrop and Roger went off on some affairs of their own, and Bertha
devoted herself to the amusement of the two girls.

First, she suggested they should all walk around the place, and this
proved a delightful occupation.

Pine Branches was an immense estate, covering hundreds of acres, and
there was a brook, a grove, golf grounds, tennis court and everything
that could by any possibility add to the interest or pleasure of its
occupants.

"But my chief and dearest possession," said Bertha, smiling, "is Abiram."

"A dog?" asked Patty.

"No," said Bertha, "but come, and I will show him to you. He lives down
here, in this little house."

The little house was very like a large-sized dog-kennel, but when they
reached it, its occupant proved to be a woolly black bear cub.

"He's a perfect dear, Abiram is," said Bertha, as she opened the door,
and the fat little bear came waddling out. He was fastened to a long
chain, and his antics were funny beyond description.

"He's a real picture-bear," said Bertha; "see, his poses are just like
those of the bears in the funny papers."

And so they were. Patty and Elise laughed heartily to see Abiram sit up
and cross his paws over his fat little body.

"How old is he?" asked Patty.

"Oh, very young, he's just a cub. And of course, we can't keep him long.
Nobody wants a big bear around. At the end of the summer, Papa says,
he'll have to be sent to the Zoo. But we have lots of fun looking at him
now, and I take pictures of him with my camera. He's a dear old thing."
Bertha was sitting down by the bear, playing with him as with a puppy,
and indeed the soft little creature showed no trace of wild animal
habits, or even of mischievous intent.

"He's just like a big baby," said Patty. "Wouldn't it be fun to dress him
up as one?"

"Let's do it," cried Bertha, gleefully. "Come on, girls, let's fly up to
the house, and get the things."

Leaving Abiram sitting in the sun, the three girls scampered back to the
house. Bertha procured two large white aprons and declared they would
make a lovely baby dress.

And so they did. By sewing the sides together nearly to the top, and
tying the strings in great bows to answer as shoulder straps, the dress
was declared perfect. A dainty sunbonnet, with a wide fluffy ruffle,
which was a part of Bertha's own wardrobe, was taken also, and with a
string of large blue beads, and an enormous baby's rattle which Bertha
unearthed from her treasure-chest, the costume was complete.

Bertha got her camera, and giving Elise a small, light chair to carry,
they all ran back to Abiram's kennel.

They found the little bear peacefully sleeping in the sun, and when
Bertha shook him awake he showed no resentment, and graciously allowed
himself to be put into the clothes they had brought. His forepaws were
thrust through the openings left for the purpose, and the stiff white
bows sticking up from his black shoulders, made the girls scream with
laughter. The ruffled sunbonnet was put on his head, and coquettishly
tied on one side, and the string of blue beads was clasped around his fat
neck.

Although Abiram seemed willing to submit to the greatness that was being
thrust upon him, he experienced some difficulty in sitting up in the
chair in the position which Bertha insisted upon.

However, by dint of Patty's holding his head up from behind, she herself
being screened from view by a tree trunk, they induced Abiram to hold the
rattle long enough for Bertha to get a picture.

[Illustration: "Although a successful snapshot was only achieved after
many attempts"]

Although a successful snapshot was only achieved after many attempts, yet
the girls had great fun, and so silly and ridiculous did the little bear
behave that Patty afterward declared she had never laughed so much in all
her life.

After luncheon Mrs. Warner took her guests for a drive, declaring that
after their automobile tour she felt sure that a carriage drive would be
a pleasant change.

After the drive there was afternoon tea in the library, when the men
appeared, and everybody chatted gaily over the events of the day.

Then they all dispersed to dress for dinner, and Patty suddenly realised
that she was living in a very grown-up atmosphere, greatly in contrast to
her schoolgirl life.

Bertha was a year or two older than Patty, and though as merry and full
of fun as a child, she seemed to have the ways and effects of a grown-up
young lady.

Elise also had lived a life which had accustomed her to formality and
ceremony, and though only a year older than Patty in reality, she was far
more advanced in worldly wisdom and ceremonious observances.

But Patty was adaptable by nature, and when in Rome she was quite ready
to do as the Romans did.

So she put on one of her prettiest frocks for dinner, and allowed Bertha
to do her hair in a new way which seemed to add a year or so to her
appearance.

There were a few other guests at dinner, and as Patty always enjoyed
meeting strangers, she took great interest in all the details of
entertainment at Pine Branches.

At the table she found herself seated between Bertha and Winthrop. This
pleased her, for she was glad of an opportunity to get better acquainted
with the young man, of whom she had seen little during the day.

Although frank and boyish in some ways, Winthrop Warner gave her the
impression of being very wise and scholarly.

She said as much to him, whereupon he explained that he was a student,
and was making a specialty of certain branches of scientific lore. These
included ethnology and anthropology, which names caused Patty to feel a
sudden awe of the young man beside her.

But Winthrop only laughed, and said, "Don't let those long words frighten
you. I assure you that they stand for most interesting subjects, and some
day if you will come to my study, I will promise to prove that to you.
Meantime we will ignore my scientific side, and just consider that we are
two gay young people enjoying a summer holiday."

The young man's affable manner and kind smile put Patty quite at her
ease, and she chatted so merrily that when the dinner hour was over she
and Winthrop had become good friends and comrades.



CHAPTER XV

MISS AURORA BENDER


After a visit of a few days, it was decided that Mr. and Mrs. Farrington
and Roger should continue the motor-trip on to Boston, and to certain
places along the New England coast, while Patty and Elise should stay at
Pine Branches for a longer visit.

The girls had expected to continue the trip with the others, but Bertha
had coaxed them to stay longer with her, and had held out such attractive
inducements that they decided to remain.

Patty, herself, was pleased with the plan, because she still felt the
effects of her recent mental strain, and realised that the luxurious ease
of Pine Branches would be far more of a rest than the more exciting
experiences of a motor trip.

So the girls were installed for a fortnight or more in the beautiful home
of the Warners, and with so many means of pleasure at her disposal, Patty
looked forward to a delightful period of both rest and recreation.

One morning, Bertha declared her intention of taking the girls to call on
Miss Aurora Bender.

"Who is she?" inquired Patty, as the three started off in Bertha's
pony-cart.

"She's a character," said Bertha, "but I won't tell you anything about
her; you can see her, and judge for yourself."

A drive of several miles brought them to a quaint old-fashioned
farmhouse.

The house, which had the appearance of being very old, was built of stone
and painted a light yellow, with white trimmings. Everything about the
place was in perfect repair and exquisite order, and as they drove in
around the gravel circle that surrounded a carefully kept bit of green
lawn, Bertha stopped the cart at an old-fashioned carriage-block, and the
girls got out. Running up the steps, Bertha clanged the old brass knocker
at what seemed to Patty to be the kitchen door. It was opened by a tall,
gaunt woman, with sharp features and angular figure.

"Well, I declare to goodness, Bertha Warner, if you aren't here again!
Who's that you've got with you this time? City folks, I s'pose. Well come
in, all of you, but wipe your feet first. As you've been riding, I s'pose
they ain't muddy much, but it's well to be on the safe side. So wipe 'em
good and then troop in."

Miss Aurora Bender had pushed her heavy gold-bowed glasses up on the top
of her head, and her whole-souled smile of welcome belied the gruffness
of her tone, and the seeming inhospitality of her words.

The girls took pains to wipe their dainty boots on the gaily-coloured
braided rug which lay just outside the door.

Then they entered a spacious low-ceiled room, which seemed to partake of
the qualities of both kitchen and dining-room. At one end was an immense
fireplace, with an old-fashioned swinging crane, from which depended many
skillets and kettles of highly polished brass or copper.

On either side of the room was a large dresser, with glass doors, through
which showed quantities of rare old china that made Patty's eyes shine
with delight. A quaint old settle and various old chairs of Windsor
pattern stood round the walls. The floor was painted yellow, and here and
there were braided mats of various designs.

"Sit down, girls, sit down," said Miss Bender, cordially, "and now
Bertha, tell me these young ladies' names,--unless, that is to say, you'd
rather sit in the parlour?"

"We would rather sit in the parlour, Miss Bender," said Bertha, quickly,
and as if fearing her hostess might not follow up her suggestion, Bertha
opened a door leading to the front hall, and started toward the parlour,
herself.

"Well," said Miss Bender, with a note of regret in her voice, "I s'pose
if you must, you must; though for my part, I'm free to confess that this
room's a heap more cozy and livable."

"That may be," said Bertha, who had beckoned to the girls to follow
quickly, "but my friends are from the city, as you suspected, and they
don't often have a chance in New York to see a parlour like yours, Miss
Bender."

As Bertha had intended, this bit of flattery mollified the old lady, and
she followed her guests along the dark hall.

"Well, if you're bound to have it so," she said, "do wait a minute, and
let me get in there and pull up the blinds. It's darker than Japhet's
coat pocket. I haven't had this room opened since Mis' Perkins across the
road had her last tea fight. And I only did it then, 'cause I wanted to
set some vases of my early primroses in the windows, so's the guests
might see 'em as they came by. Seems to me it's a little musty in here,
but land! a room will get musty if it's shut up, and what earthly good is
a parlour except to keep shut up?"

As Miss Bender talked, she had bustled about, and thrown open the six
windows of the large room, into which Bertha had taken the girls.

The sunlight streamed in, and disclosed a scene which seemed to Patty
like a wonderful vision of a century ago.

And indeed for more than a hundred years the furniture of the great
parlour had stood precisely as they now saw it.

The furniture was entirely of antique mahogany, and included sofas and
chairs, various kinds of tables, bookcases, a highboy, a lowboy and other
pieces of furniture of which Patty knew neither the name nor the use.

The pictures on the wall, the ornaments, the books and the old-fashioned
brass candlesticks were all of the same ancient period, and Patty felt as
if she had been transported back into the life of her great-grandmother.

As she had herself a pretty good knowledge of the styles and varieties of
antique furniture, she won Miss Bender's heart at once by her
appreciation of her Heppelwhite chairs and her Chippendale card-tables.

"You don't say," said Miss Bender, looking at Patty in admiration, "that
you really know one style from another! Lots of people pretend they do,
but they soon get confused when I try to pin 'em down."

Patty smiled, as she disclaimed any great knowledge of the subject, but
she soon found that she knew enough to satisfy her hostess, who, after
all, enjoyed describing her treasures even more than listening to their
praises.

Miss Aurora Bender was a lady of sudden and rapid physical motion. While
the girls were examining the wonderful old relics, she darted from the
room, and returned in a moment, carrying two large baskets. They were of
the old-fashioned type of closely-woven reed, with a handle over the top,
and a cover to lift up on either side.

Miss Bender plumped herself down in the middle of a long sofa, and began
rapidly to extract the contents of the baskets, which proved to be
numerous fat rolls of gayly-coloured cotton material.

"It's patchwork," she announced, "and I make it my habit to get all the
help I can. I'm piecing a quilt, goose-chase pattern, and while I don't
know as it's the prettiest there is, yet I don't know as 'tisn't. If you
girls expect to sit the morning, and I must say you look like it, you
might lend a helping hand. I made the geese smaller'n I otherwise would,
'cause I had so many little pieces left from my rising-sun quilt. Looks
just as well, of course, but takes a powerful sight of time to sew. And I
must say I'm sorter particular about sewing. However, I don't s'pose you
young things of this day and generation know much about sewing, but if
you go slow you can't help doing it pretty well."

As she talked, Miss Bender had hastily presented each of the girls with a
basted block of patchwork, and had passed around a needle-cushion and a
small box containing a number of old-fashioned silver thimbles.

"Lucky I had a big family," she commented, "else I don't know what I'd
done for thimbles to go around. I can't abide brass things, that make
your finger look like it had been dipped in ink, but thanks to my seven
sisters who are all restin' comfortably in their graves, I have enough
thimbles to provide quite a parcel of company. Here's your thread. Now
sew away while we talk, and we'll have a real nice little bee."

Although not especially fond of sewing, the girls looked upon this
episode as a good joke, and fell to work at their bits of cloth.

Elise was a dainty little needlewoman, and overhanded rapidly and neatly;
Patty did fairly well, though her stitches were not quite even, but poor
Bertha found her work a difficult task. She never did fancywork, and knew
nothing of sewing, so her thread knotted and broke, and her patch
presented a sorry sight.

"Land o' Goshen!" exclaimed Miss Aurora, "is that the best you can do,
Bertha Warner? The town ought to take up a subscription to put you in a
sewin' school. Here child, let me show you."

Miss Bender took Bertha's block and tried to straighten it out, while
Bertha herself made funny faces at the other girls over Miss Aurora's
shoulder.

"I can see you," said that lady calmly, "I guess you forget that big
mirror opposite. But them faces you're makin' ain't half so bad as this
sewin' of yours."

The girls all laughed outright at Miss Bender's calm acceptance of
Bertha's sauciness, and Bertha herself was in nowise embarrassed by the
implied rebuke.

"There, child," said Miss Aurora, smoothing out the seams with her thumb
nail, "now try again, and see if you can't do it some better."

"Is your quilt nearly done, Miss Bender?" asked Patty.

"Yes, it is. I've got three hundred and eighty-seven geese finished, and
four hundred's enough. I work on it myself quite a spell every day, and I
think in two or three days I'll have it all pieced."

"Oh, Miss Bender," cried Bertha, "then won't you quilt it? Won't you have
a quilting party while my friends are here?"

"Humph," said Miss Aurora, scornfully, "you children can't quilt fit to
be seen."

"Elise can," said Bertha, looking at Elise's dainty block, "and Patty can
do pretty well, and as I would spoil your quilt if I touched it, Miss
Aurora, I'll promise to let it alone; but I can do other things to help
you. Oh, do have the party, will you?"

"Why, I don't know but I will. I kinder calculated to have it soon,
anyhow, and if so be's you young people would like to come to it, I don't
see anything to hinder. S'pose we say a week from to-day?"

The date was decided on, and the girls went home in high glee over the
quilting party, for Bertha told them it would be great fun of a sort they
had probably never seen before.

                    *       *       *       *       *

The days flew by rapidly at Pine Branches. Patty rapidly recovered her
usual perfect health and rosy cheeks. She played golf and tennis, she
went for long rides in the Warners' motor-car or carriages, and also on
horseback. There were many guests at the house, coming and going, and
among these one day came Mr. Phelps, whom they had met on their journey
out from New York.

This gentleman proved to be of a merry disposition, and added greatly to
the gaiety of the party. While he was there, Roger also came back for a
few days, having left Mr. and Mrs. Farrington for a short stay at
Nantucket.

One morning, as Patty and Roger stood in the hall, waiting for the other
young people to join them, they were startled to hear angry voices in the
music-room.

This room was separated from them by the length of the library, and
though not quite distinct, the voices were unmistakably those of Bertha
and Winthrop.

"You did!" said Winthrop's voice, "don't deny it! You're a horrid hateful
old thing!"

"I didn't! any such thing," replied Bertha's voice, which sounded on the
verge of tears.

"You did! and if you don't give it back to me, I'll tell mother. Mother
said if she caught you at such a thing again, she'd punish you as you
deserved, and I'm going to tell her!"

Patty felt most uncomfortable at overhearing this quarrel. She had never
before heard a word of disagreement between Bertha and her brother, and
she was surprised as well as sorry to hear this exhibition of temper.

Roger looked horrified, and glanced at Patty, not knowing exactly what to
do.

The voices waxed more angry, and they heard Bertha declare, "You're a
horrid old telltale! Go on and tell, if you want to, and I'll tell what
you stole out of father's desk last week!"

"How did you know that?" and Winthrop's voice rang out in rage.

"Oh, I know all about it. You think nobody knows anything but yourself,
Smarty-cat! Just wait till I tell father and see what he'll do to you."

"You won't tell him! Promise me you won't, or I'll,--I'll hit you! There,
take that!"

"That" seemed to be a resounding blow, and immediately Bertha's cries
broke forth in angry profusion.

"Stop crying," yelled her brother, "and stop punching me. Stop it, I
say!"

At this point the conversation broke off suddenly, and Patty and Roger
stared in stupefied amazement as they saw Bertha and Winthrop walk in
smiling, and hand in hand, from exactly the opposite direction from which
their quarrelsome voices had sounded.

"What's the matter?" said Bertha. "Why do you look so shocked and scared
to death?"

"N-nothing," stammered Patty; while Roger blurted out, "We thought we
heard you talking over that way, and then you came in from this way. Who
could it have been? The voices were just like yours."

Bertha and Winthrop broke into a merry laugh.

"It's the phonograph," said Bertha. "Winthrop and I fixed up that quarrel
record, just for fun; isn't it a good one?"

Roger understood at once, and went off into peals of laughter, but Patty
had to have it explained to her.

"You see," said Winthrop, "we have a big phonograph, and we make records
for it ourselves. Bertha and I fixed up that one just for fun, and Elise
is in there now looking after it. Come on in, and see it."

They all went into the music-room, and Winthrop entertained them by
putting in various cylinders, which they had made themselves.

Almost as funny as the quarrel was Bertha's account of the occasion when
she fell into the creek, and many funny recitations by Mr. Warner also
made amusing records.

Patty could hardly believe that she had not heard her friends' voices
really raised in anger, until Winthrop put the same record in and let her
hear it again.

He also promised her that some day she should make a record for herself,
and leave it at Pine Branches as a memento of her visit.



CHAPTER XVI

A QUILTING PARTY


Miss Aurora Bender's quilting party was to begin at three o'clock in the
afternoon, and the girls started early in order to see all the fun. They
were to stay to supper, and the young men were to come over and escort
them home in the evening.

When they reached Miss Bender's, they found that many and wonderful
preparations had been made.

Miss Aurora had two house servants, Emmeline and Nancy, but on this
occasion she had called in two more to help. And indeed there was plenty
to be done, for a quilting bee was to Miss Bender's mind a function of
great importance.

The last of a large family, Miss Bender was a woman of great wealth but
of plain and old-fashioned tastes. Though amply able to gratify any
extravagant wish, she preferred to live as her parents had lived before
her, and she had in no sense kept pace with the progress of the age.

When the three girls reached the old country house, they were met at the
front door by the elderly Nancy. She courtesied with old-time grace, and
invited them to step into the bedroom, and lay off their things.

This bedroom, which was on the ground floor, was a large apartment,
containing a marvellously carved four-post bedstead, hung with
old-fashioned chintz curtains and draperies.

The room also contained two massive bureaus, a dressing-table and various
chairs of carved mahogany, and in the open fireplace was an enormous
bunch of feathery asparagus, flecked with red berries.

"Oh," cried Patty in delight, "if Nan could see this room she'd go
perfectly crazy. Isn't this house great? Why, it's quite as full of
beautiful old things as Washington's house at Mt. Vernon."

"I haven't seen that," said Bertha, "but it doesn't seem as if anything
could be more complete or perfect in its way than this house is. Come on,
girls, are you ready?"

The girls went to the parlour, and there found the quilt all prepared for
working on. Patty had never before seen a quilt stretched on a
quilting-frame, and was extremely interested.

It was a very large quilt, and its innumerable small triangles, which
made up the goose-chase pattern, were found to present a methodical
harmony of colouring, which had not been observable before the strips
were put together.

The large pieced portion was uppermost, and beneath it was the lining,
with layers of cotton in between. Each edge was pinned at intervals to a
long strip of material which was wound round and round the frame. The
four corners of the frame were held up by being tied to the backs of four
chairs, and on each of the four sides of the quilt were three more chairs
for the expected guests to occupy.

Almost on the stroke of three the visitors arrived, and though some of
them were of a more modern type than Miss Bender, yet three or four were
quite as old-fashioned and quaint-mannered as their hostess.

"They are native up here," Bertha explained to Patty. "There are only a
few of the old New England settlers left. Most of the population here is
composed of city people who have large country places. You won't often
get an opportunity to see a gathering like this."

Patty realised the truth of this, and was both surprised and pleased to
find that these country ladies showed no trace of embarrassment or
self-consciousness before the city girls.

It seemed not to occur to them that there was any difference in their
effects, and indeed Patty was greatly amused because one of the old
ladies seemed to take it for granted that Patty was a country girl, and
brought up according to old-time customs.

This old lady, whose name was Mrs. Quimby, sat next to Patty at the
quilt, and after she had peered through her glasses at the somewhat
uneven stitches which poor Patty was trying her best to do as well as
possible, she remarked:

"You ain't got much knack, have you? You'll have to practise quite a
spell longer before you can quilt your own house goods. How old be you?"

"Seventeen," said Patty, feeling that her work did not look very well,
considering her age.

"Seventeen!" exclaimed Mrs. Quimby. "Laws' sake, I was married when I was
sixteen, and I quilted as good then as I do now. I'm over eighty now, and
I'd ruther quilt than do anything, 'most. You don't look to be
seventeen."

"And you don't look to be eighty, either," said Patty, smiling, glad to
be able to turn the subject by complimenting the old lady.

The quilting lasted all the afternoon. Patty grew very tired of the
unaccustomed work, and was glad when Miss Bender noticed it, and told her
to run out into the garden with Bertha. Bertha was not allowed to touch
the quilt with her incompetent fingers, but Elise sewed away, thoroughly
enjoying it all, and with no desire to avail herself of Miss Bender's
permission to stop and rest. Patty and Bertha wandered through the
old-fashioned garden, in great delight. The paths were bordered with tiny
box hedges, which, though many years old, were kept clean and free from
deadwood or blemish of any sort, and were perfectly trimmed in shape.

The garden included quaint old flowers such as marigolds, sweet Williams,
bleeding hearts, bachelors' buttons, Jacob's ladder and many others of
which Patty did not even know the names. Tall hollyhocks, both single and
double, grew against the wall, and a hop vine hung in green profusion.

Every flower bed was of exact shape, and looked as if not a leaf or a
stem would dare to grow otherwise than straight and true.

"What a lovely old garden," said Patty, sniffing at a sprig of lemon
verbena which she had picked.

"Yes, it's wonderful," said Bertha. "I mean to ask Miss Bender if I
mayn't bring my camera over, and get a picture of it, and if they're
good, I'll give you one."

"Do," said Patty, "and take some pictures inside the house too. I'd like
to show them to Nan."

"Tell me about Nan," said Bertha. "She's your stepmother, isn't she?"

"Yes," said Patty, "but she's only six years older than I am, so that the
stepmother part of it seems ridiculous. We're more like sisters, and
she's perfectly crazy over old china and old furniture. She'd love Miss
Bender's things."

"Perhaps she'll come up while you're here," said Bertha. "I'll ask mother
to write for her."

"Thank you," said Patty, "but I'm afraid she won't. My father can't leave
for his vacation until July, and then we're all going away together, but
I don't know where."

Just then Elise came flying out to them, with the announcement that
supper was ready, and they were to come right in, quick.

The table was spread in the large room which Patty had thought was the
kitchen.

It probably had been built for that purpose, but other kitchens had been
added beyond it, and for the last half century it had been used as a
dining-room.

The table was drawn out to its full length, which made it very long
indeed, and it was filled with what seemed to Patty viands enough to feed
an army. At one end was a young pig roasted whole, with a lemon in his
mouth, and a design in cloves stuck into his fat little side. At the
other end was a baked ham whose crisp golden-brown crust could only be
attained by the old cook who had been in the Bender family for many
years.

Up and down the length of the table on either side was a succession of
various cold meats, alternating with pickles, jellies and savories of
various sorts.

After the guests were seated, Nancy brought in platters of smoking-hot
biscuits from the kitchen, and Miss Aurora herself made the tea.

The furnishings of the table were of old blue and white china of great
age and priceless value. The old family silver too was a marvel in
itself, and the tea service which Miss Bender manipulated with some pride
was over a hundred years old.

Patty was greatly impressed at this unusual scene, but when the plates
were removed after the first course, and the busy maid-servants prepared
to serve the dessert, she was highly entertained.

For the next course, though consisting only of preserves and cake, was
served in an unusual manner. The preserves included every variety known
to housewives and a few more. In addition to this, Miss Aurora announced
in a voice which was calm with repressed satisfaction, that she had
fourteen kinds of cake to put at the disposal of her guests. None of
these sorts could be mixed with any other sort, and the result was
fourteen separate baskets and platters of cake.

The table became crowded before they had all been brought in from the
kitchen, and quite as a matter of course, the serving maids placed the
later supplies on chairs, which they stood behind the guests, and the
ladies amiably turned round in their seats, inspected the cake, partook
of it if they desired, and gracefully pushed the chair along to the next
neighbour.

This seemed to the city girls a most amusing performance, but Patty
immediately adapted herself to what was apparently the custom of the
house, and gravely looked at the cake each time, selected such as pleased
her fancy and pushed the chair along.

Noticing Patty's gravity as she accomplished this performance, Elise very
nearly lost her own, but Patty nudged her under the table, and she
managed to behave with propriety.

The conversation at the table was without a trace of hilarity, and
included only the most dignified subjects. The ladies ate mincingly, with
their little fingers sticking out straight, or curved in what they
considered a most elegant fashion.

Miss Aurora was in her element. She was truly proud of her home and its
appointments, and she dearly loved to entertain company at tea. To her
mind, and indeed to the minds of most of those present, the success of a
tea depended entirely upon the number of kinds of cake that were served,
and Miss Bender felt that with fourteen she had broken any hitherto known
record.

It was an unwritten law that each kind of cake must be really a separate
recipe. To take a portion of ordinary cup-cake batter, and stir in some
chopped nuts, and another portion and mix in some raisins, by no means
met the requirements of the case. This Patty learned from remarks made by
the visitors, and also from Miss Aurora's own delicately veiled
intimations that each of her fourteen kinds was a totally different and
distinct recipe.

Patty couldn't help wondering what would become of all this cake, for
after all, the guests could eat but a small portion of it.

And it occurred to her also that the ways of the people in previous
generations, as exemplified in Miss Bender's customs, seemed to show
quite as great a lack of a sense of proportion as many of our so-called
modern absurdities.

After supper the guests immediately departed for their homes. Carriages
arrived for the different ones, and they went away, after volubly
expressing to their hostess their thanks for her delightful entertainment.

The girls expected Winthrop and Roger to come for them in the motor-car,
but they had not told them to come quite so early as now seemed
necessary. In some embarrassment, they told Miss Bender that they would
have to trespass on her hospitality for perhaps an hour longer.

"My land o' goodness!" she exclaimed, looking at them in dismay, "why
I've got to set this house to rights, and I can't wait an hour to begin!"

"Don't mind us, Miss Bender," said Bertha. "Just shut us up in some room
by ourselves, and we'll stay there, and not bother you a bit; unless
perhaps we can help you?"

"Help me! No, indeed. There can't anybody help me when I'm clearin' up
after a quiltin', unless it's somebody that knows my ways. But I'd like
to amuse you children, somehow. I'll tell you what, you can go up in the
front bedroom, if you like, and there's a chest of old-fashioned clothes
there. Can't you play at dressin' up?"

"Yes, indeed," cried Bertha. "Just the thing! Give us some candles."

Provided with two candles apiece, the girls followed Miss Aurora to a
large bedroom on the second floor, which also boasted its carved
four-poster and chintz draperies.

"There," said Miss Aurora, throwing open a great chest, "you ought to get
some fun out of trying on those fol-de-rols, and peacocking around; but
don't come downstairs to show off to me, for you'll only bother me out of
my wits. I'll let you know when your folks come for you."

Miss Bender trotted away, and the girls, quite ready for a lark, tossed
over the quaint old gowns.

Beautiful costumes were there, of the period of about a hundred years
ago. Lustrous silks and dainty dimities; embroidered muslins and heavy
velvets; Patty had never seen such a sight. After looking them over, the
girls picked out the ones they preferred, and taking off their own frocks
proceeded to try them on.

Bertha had chosen a blue and white silk of a bayadere stripe, with lace
ruffles at the neck and wrists and a skirt of voluminous fulness. Elise
wore a white Empire gown that made her look exactly like the Empress
Josephine, while Patty arrayed herself in a flowered silk of Dresden
effect with a pointed bodice, square neck, and elbow sleeves with lace
frills.

In great glee, the girls pranced around, regretting there was no one to
whom they might exhibit their masquerade costumes. But Miss Bender had
been so positive in her orders that they dared not go downstairs.

Suddenly they heard the toot of an automobile.

[Illustration: "Patty arrayed herself in a flowered silk of Dresden
effect"]

"That's our car," cried Bertha. "I know the horn. Let's go down just as
we are, for the benefit of Winthrop and Roger."

In answer to Miss Bender's call from below, the girls trooped downstairs,
and merrily presented themselves for inspection.

Mr. Phelps had come with the others, and if the young men were pleased at
the picture the three girls presented, Miss Aurora herself was no less
so.

"My," she said, "you do look fine, I declare! Now, I'll tell you what
I'll do; I'll make each of you young ladies a present of the gown you
have on, if you care to keep it. I'll never miss them, for I have trunks
and chests full, besides those you saw, and I'm right down glad to give
them to you. You can wear them sometimes at your fancy dress parties."

The girls were overjoyed at Miss Bender's gift, and Bertha declared they
would wear them home, and she would send over for their other dresses the
next day.

So, donning their wraps, the merry modern maids in their antique garb
made their adieus to Miss Aurora, and were soon in the big motor-car
speeding for home.



CHAPTER XVII

A SUMMER CHRISTMAS


Although they had intended to stay but a fortnight, Patty and Elise
remained with the Warners all through the month of June, and even then
Bertha begged them to stay longer.

But the day for their departure was set in the first week of July, and
Bertha declared that they must have a big party of some kind as their
last entertainment for the girls.

So Mrs. Warner invited a number of young people for a house party during
the last few days of Patty's stay.

"I wish," said Bertha, a few days before the Fourth, "that we could have
some kind of a party on the Fourth of July that would be different from
just an ordinary party."

"Have an automobile party," suggested Roger, who was present.

"I don't mean that kind," said Bertha, "I mean a party in the house, but
something that would be fun. There isn't anything to do on Fourth of July
except have fireworks, and that isn't much fun."

"I'll tell you what," said Mr. Phelps, who was at Pine Branches on one of
his flying visits, "have a Christmas party."

"A Christmas party on Fourth of July!" exclaimed Bertha, "that's just the
thing! Mr. Phelps, you're a real genius. That's just what we'll do, and
we'll have a Christmas tree, and give each other gifts and everything."

"Great!" said Roger, "and we'll have a Yule log blazing, and we'll all
wear our fur coats."

"No, not that," said Bertha, laughing, "we'd melt. But we'll have all the
Christmas effects that we can think of, and each one must help."

The crowd of merry young people who were gathered at Pine Branches
eagerly fell in with Bertha's plan, and each began to make preparations
for the festival.

The girls made gifts which they carefully kept secret from the ones for
whom they were intended, and many trips were made to the village for
materials.

The boys also had many mysterious errands, and Mr. and Mrs. Warner, who
entered heartily into the spirit of the fun, were frequently consulted
under strict bonds of confidence.

Fourth of July came and proved to be a warm, though not a sultry summer
day.

Invitations had been sent out, and a large party of young people were
expected in the evening; and during the day those who were staying at
Pine Branches found plenty to do by way of preparation.

A large Christmas tree had been cut down, and was brought into the
library. As soon as it was set up, the work of decoration began, and it
was hung with strings of popcorn, and tinsel filigree which Mrs. Warner
had saved from previous Christmas trees. Dozens of candles too, were put
on the branches, to be lighted at night.

The boys brought in great boughs of evergreen, and cut them up, while the
girls made ropes and wreaths and stars, with which to adorn the room.

Mr. Phelps had sent to New York for a large boxful of artificial holly,
and this added greatly to the Christmas effect.

Patty was in her element helping with these arrangements, for she dearly
loved to make believe, and the idea of a Christmas party in midsummer
appealed very strongly to her sense of humour.

Her energy and enthusiasm were untiring, and her original ideas called
forth the hearty applause of the others. She was consulted about
everything, and her decisions were always accepted.

Mr. Phelps too, proved a clever and willing worker. He was an athletic
young man, and he seemed to be capable of doing half a dozen different
things at once. He cut greens, and hung wreaths, and ran up and down
stepladders, and even managed to fasten a large gilt star to the very top
branch of the Christmas tree.

After the decorations were all completed, everybody brought their gifts
neatly tied up and labelled, and either hung them on the tree or piled
them up around the platform on which it stood.

"Well, you children have done wonders," said Mrs. Warner, looking in at
the library door. "You have transformed this room until I hardly can
recognise it, and it looks for all the world exactly like Christmas. It
is hard to believe that it is really Fourth of July."

"It seems too bad not to have any of the Fourth of July spirit mixed in
with it," said Winthrop, "but I suppose it would spoil the harmony. But
we really ought to use a little gunpowder in honour of the day. Come on,
Patty, your work is about finished, let's go out and put off a few
firecrackers."

"All right," said Patty, "just wait till I tack up this 'Merry Christmas'
motto, and I'll be ready."

"I'll do that," said Roger, "you infants run along and show off your
patriotism, and I'll join you in a few minutes."

"You must be tired," said Winthrop to Patty, as they sauntered out on the
lawn. "You worked awfully hard with those evergreen things. Let's go out
on the lake and take our firecrackers with us; that will rest you, and it
will be fun besides."

The lake, so called by courtesy, was really an artificial pond, and
though not large, it provided a great deal of amusement.

There were several boats, and selecting a small cedar one, Winthrop
assisted Patty in, sprang in himself, and pushed off.

"If it's Christmas, we ought to be going skating on the lake, instead of
rowing," said Patty.

"It isn't Christmas now," said Winthrop, "You get your holidays mixed up.
We've come out here to celebrate Independence Day. See what I've
brought."

From his pockets the young man produced several packs of firecrackers.

"What fun!" cried Patty, "I feel as if I were a child again. Let me set
some off. Have you any punk?"

"Yes," said Winthrop, gravely producing some short sticks of punk from
another pocket; and lighting one, he gave it to Patty.

"But how can I set them off?" said Patty, "I'm afraid to have them in the
boat, and we can't throw them out on the water."

"We'll manage this way," said Winthrop, and drawing one of the oars into
the boat, he laid a lighted firecracker on the blade and pushed it out
again. The firecracker went off with a bang, and in great glee Patty
pulled in the other oar and tried the same plan.

Then they set off a whole pack at once, and as the length of the oar was
not quite sufficient for safety Winthrop let it slip from the row-lock
and float away on the water. As he had previously tied a string to the
handle so that he could pull the oar back at will, this was a great game,
and the floating oar with its freight of snapping firecrackers provided
much amusement. The noise of the explosions brought the others running to
the scene, and three or four more boats were soon out on the lake.
Firecrackers went snapping in every direction, and torpedoes were thrown
from one boat to another until the ammunition was exhausted.

Then the merry crowd trooped back to the house for luncheon.

"I never had such a lovely Fourth of July," said Patty to her kind
hostess. "Everything is different from anything I ever did before. This
house is just like Fairyland. You never know what is going to happen
next."

After luncheon the party broke up in various small groups. Some of the
more energetic ones played golf or tennis, but Patty declared it was too
warm for any unnecessary exertion.

"Come for a little walk with me," said Roger, "we'll walk down in the
grove; it's cool and shady there, and we can play mumblety-peg if you
like."

"I'll go to the grove," said Patty, "but I don't want to play anything.
This is a day just to be idle and enjoy living, without doing anything
else."

They strolled down toward the grove, and were joined on the way by Bertha
and Mr. Phelps, who were just returning from a call on Abiram.

"I think Abiram ought to come to the Christmas party to-night," said
Bertha, "I know he'd enjoy seeing the tree lighted up."

"He shall come," said Dick Phelps, "I'll bring him myself."

"Do," said Patty, "and we'll tie a red ribbon round his neck with a sprig
of holly, and I'll see to it that there's a present on the tree for him."

The quartet walked on to the grove, and sat down on the ground under the
pine trees.

"I feel very patriotic," said Patty, who was decorated with several small
flags which she had stuck in her hair, and in her belt, "and I think we
ought to sing some national anthems."

So they sang "The Star-Spangled Banner," and other patriotic airs, until
they were interrupted by Winthrop and Elise who came toward them singing
a Christmas carol.

"I asked you to come here," said Roger aside, to Patty, "because I wanted
to see you alone for a minute, and now all these other people have come
and spoiled my plan. Come on over to the orchard, will you?"

"Of course I will," said Patty jumping up, "what is the secret you have
to tell me? Some plan for to-night?"

"No," said Roger, hesitating a little, "that is, yes,--not exactly."

They had walked away from the others, and Roger took from his pocket a
tiny box which he offered to Patty.

"I wanted to give you a little Christmas present," he said, "as a sort of
memento of this jolly day; and I thought maybe you'd wear it to-night."

"How lovely!" cried Patty, as she opened the box and saw a little pin
shaped like a spray of holly. "It's perfectly sweet. Thank you ever so
much, Roger, but why didn't you put it on the tree for me?"

"Oh, they are only having foolish presents on the tree, jokes, you know,
and all that."

"Oh, is this a real present then? I don't know as I ought to accept it.
I've never had a present from a young man before."

Roger looked a little embarrassed, but Patty's gay delight was entirely
free from any trace of self-consciousness.

"Anyway, I am going to keep it," she said, "because it's so pretty, and I
like to think that you gave it to me."

Roger looked greatly gratified and seemed to take the matter with more
seriousness than Patty did. She pinned the pretty little trinket on her
collar and thought no more about it.

Dinner was early that night, for there was much to be done in the way of
final preparations before the guests came to the Christmas party.

The Christmas pretence was intended as a surprise to those not staying in
the house, and after all had arrived, the doors of the library were
thrown open with shouts of "Merry Christmas!"

And indeed it did seem like a sudden transition back into the winter. The
Christmas tree with its gay decorations and lighted candles was a
beautiful sight, and the green-trimmed room with its spicy odours of
spruce and pine intensified the illusion.

Shouts of delight went up on all sides, and falling quickly into the
spirit of it all, the guests at once began to pretend it was really
Christmas, and greeted each other with appropriate good wishes.

Mischievous Patty had slyly tied a sprig of mistletoe to the chandelier,
and Dick Phelps by a clever manoeuvre had succeeded in getting Mrs.
Warner to stand under it. The good lady was quite unaware of their plans,
and when Mr. Phelps kissed her soundly on her plump cheek she was
decidedly surprised.

But the explanation amply justified his audacity, and Mrs. Warner
laughingly declared that she would resign her place to some of the
younger ladies.

The greatest fun came when Winthrop distributed the presents from the
tree. None of them was expensive or valuable, but most of them were
clever, merry little jokes which good-naturedly teased the recipients.

True to his word Mr. Phelps brought Abiram in, leading him by his long
chain. Patty had tied a red ribbon round his neck with a huge bow, and
had further dressed him up in a paper cap which she had taken from a
German cracker motto.

Abiram received a stick of candy as his gift, and was as much pleased,
apparently, as the rest of the party.

Many of the presents were accompanied by little verses or lines of
doggerel, and the reading of these caused much merriment and laughter.

After the presentations, supper was served, and here Mrs. Warner had
provided her part of the surprise.

Not even those staying in the house knew of their hostess' plans, and
when they all trooped out to the dining-room, a real Christmas feast
awaited them.

The long table was decorated with red ribbons and holly, and red candles
with red paper shades. Christmas bells hung above the table, and at each
plate were appropriate souvenirs. In the centre of the table was a tiny
Christmas tree with lighted candles, a miniature copy of the one they had
just left.

Even the viands partook of the Christmas character, and from roast turkey
to plum pudding no detail was spared to make it a true Christmas feast.

The young people did full justice to Mrs. Warner's hospitality, and
warmly appreciated the kind thoughtfulness which had made the supper so
attractive in every way.

Then they adjourned to the parlour for informal dancing, and wound up the
party with an old-fashioned Virginia reel, which was led by Mr. and Mrs.
Warner.

Mr. Warner was a most genial host and his merry quips and repartee kept
the young people laughing gaily.

When at last the guests departed, it was with assurances that they had
never had such a delightful Christmas party, even in midwinter, and had
never had such a delightful Fourth of July party, even in midsummer.



CHAPTER XVIII

AT SANDY COVE


When the day came for Patty and Elise to leave Pine Branches, everyone
concerned was truly sorry. Elise had long been a favourite with the
Warners, and they had grown to love Patty quite as well.

Roger was still there, and Mr. and Mrs. Farrington came for the young
people in their motor-car. They were returning from a most interesting
trip, which had extended as far as Portland. After hearing some accounts
of it, Patty felt sure that she would have enjoyed it; but then she had
also greatly enjoyed her visit at Pine Branches, and she felt sure that
it had been better for her physically than the exertion and excitement of
the motor-trip.

Besides this, the Farringtons assured her that there would be many other
opportunities for her to go touring with them, and they would always be
glad to have her.

So one bright morning, soon after the Fourth of July, The Fact started
off again with its original party. They made the trip to New York
entirely without accident or mishap of any kind, which greatly pleased
Roger, as it demonstrated that The Fact was not always a stubborn thing.

Patty was to spend the months of July and August with her father and Nan,
who had rented a house on Long Island. The house was near the Barlows'
summer home at Sandy Cove, for Nan had thought it would be pleasant to be
near her friends, who were also Patty's relatives.

Mr. and Mrs. Fairfield had already gone to Long Island, and the
Farringtons were to take Patty over there in the motor-car.

So, after staying a day or two with Elise in New York, Patty again took
her place in the car for the journey to her new home. Mr. Farrington and
Elise went with her, and after seeing her safely in her father's care,
returned to the city that same day.

Patty was glad to see her father and Nan again, and was delighted with
the beautiful house which they had taken for the summer.

"How large it is!" she exclaimed, as she looked about her. "We three
people will be lost in it!"

"We're going to have a lot of company," said Nan, "I've invited nearly
everyone I know, and I shall expect you to help me entertain them."

"Gladly," said Patty; "there are no horrid lessons in the way now, and
you may command my full time and attention."

The day after Patty's return to her family, she proposed that they go
over to see the Barlows.

"It's an awful hot afternoon," said Nan, "but I suppose we can't be any
warmer there than here."

So arraying themselves in fresh, cool white dresses, Nan and Patty
started to make their call.

The Barlows' summer place was called the Hurly-Burly, and as Nan and
Patty both knew, the name described the house extremely well.

As Bob Barlow sometimes said, the motto of their home seemed to be, "No
place for nothin', and nothin' in its place."

But as the family had lived up to this principle for many years, it was
not probable things would ever be any different with them, and it did not
prevent their being a delightful family, while their vagaries often
proved extremely entertaining.

But when Nan and Patty neared the house they saw no sign of anybody
about.

The doors and windows were all open and the visitors walked in, looked in
the various rooms, and even went upstairs, but found nobody anywhere.

"I'll look in the kitchen," said Patty; "surely old Hopalong, the cook,
will be there. They can't all be away, and the house all open like this."

But the kitchen too, was deserted, and Nan said, "Well, let us sit on the
front verandah a while; it must be that somebody will come home soon, and
anyway I'm too warm and tired to walk right back in the broiling sun."

So they sat on the verandah for half an hour, and then Patty said, "Let's
give one more look inside the house, and if we can't find anybody let's
go home."

"All right," said Nan, and in they went, through the vacant rooms, and
again to the kitchen.

"Why, there's Hopalong," said Patty, as she saw the old coloured woman
busy about her work, though indeed Hopalong's slow movements could not be
accurately described by the word busy.

"Hello, Hopalong," said Patty, "where are all the people?"

"Bless yo' heart Miss Patty, chile, how yo'done skeered me! And howdy,
Miss Nan,--'scuse me, I should say Missus Fairfield. De ladies is at
home, and I 'spects dey'll be mighty glad to see you folks."

"Where are they, then?" said Nan, looking puzzled, "we can't find them."

"Well yo' see it's a mighty hot day, and dem Barlows is mighty fond of
bein' as comf'able as possible. I'm makin' dis yere lemonade for 'em,
kase dey likes a coolin' drink. I'll jest squeeze in another lemon or
two, and there'll be plenty for you, too."

"But where are they, Hopalong?" asked Patty, "are they outdoors, down by
the brook?"

"Laws no, Miss Patty, I done forgot to tell yo' whar dey am, but dey's
down in de cellah."

"In the cellar!" said Patty, "what for?"

"So's dey kin be cool, chile. Jes' you trot along down, and see for
yourselfs."

Hopalong threw open the door that led from the kitchen to the cellar
stairs, and holding up their dainty white skirts, Patty and Nan started
down the rather dark staircase.

"Look at those white shoes coming downstairs," they heard Bumble's voice
cry; "I do believe it's Nan and Patty!"

"It certainly is," said Patty, and as she reached the last step, she
looked around in astonishment, and then burst into laughter.

"Well, you do beat all!" she said, "We've been sitting on the front
verandah half an hour, wondering where you could be."

"Isn't it nice?" said Mrs. Barlow, after she had greeted her guests.

"It is indeed," said Patty, "it's the greatest scheme I ever heard of."

The cellar, which had been recently white-washed, had been converted into
a funny sort of a sitting-room. On the floor was spread a large white
floor-cloth, whose original use had been for a dancing crash.

The chairs and sofas were all of wicker, and though in various stages of
dilapidation, were cool and comfortable. A table in the center was
covered with a white cloth, and the sofa pillows were in white ruffled
cases.

Bumble explained that the intent was to have everything white, but they
hadn't been able to carry out that idea fully, as they had so few white
things.

"The cat is all right," said Patty, looking at a large white cat that lay
curled up on a white fur rug.

"Yes, isn't she a beautiful cat? Her name is The Countess, and when she's
awake, she's exceedingly aristocratic and dignified looking, but she's
almost never awake. Oh, here comes Hopalong, with our lemonade."

The old negro lumbered down the steps, and Bumble took the tray from her,
and setting it on the table, served the guests to iced lemonade and tiny
thin cakes of Hopalong's concoction.

"Now isn't this nice?" said Mrs. Barlow, as they sat chatting and
feasting; "you see how cool and comfortable it is, although it's so warm
out of doors. I dare say I shall get rheumatism, as it seems a little
damp here, but when I feel it coming on, I'm going to move my chair over
onto that fur rug, and then I think there will be no danger."

"It is delightfully cool," said Patty, "and I think it a most ingenious
idea. If we had only known sooner that you were here, though, we could
have had a much longer visit."

"It's so fortunate," said Bumble, whom Patty couldn't remember to call
Helen, "that you chanced to be dressed in white. You fit right in to the
colour scheme. Mother and I meant to wear white down here, but all our
white frocks have gone to the laundry. But if you'll come over again
after a day or two, we'll have this place all fixed up fine. You see we
only thought of it this morning. It was so unbearably hot, we really had
to do something."

Soon Uncle Ted and Bob came in, and after a while Mr. Fairfield arrived.

The merry party still stayed in the cellar room, and one and all
pronounced it a most clever idea for a hot day.

The Barlows were delighted that the Fairfields were to be near them for
the summer, and many good times were planned for.

Patty was very fond of her Barlow cousins, but after returning to her own
home, which Nan with the special pride of a young housekeeper, kept in
the daintiest possible order, Patty declared that she was glad her father
had chosen a wife who had the proper ideas of managing a house.

Nan and Patty were congenial in their tastes and though Patty had had
some experience in housekeeping, she was quite willing to accept any
innovations that Nan might suggest.

"Indeed," she said, "I am only too glad not to have any of the care and
responsibility of keeping house, and I propose to enjoy an idle summer
after my hard year in school."

So the days passed rapidly and happily. There were many guests at the
house, and as the Fairfields were rather well acquainted with the summer
people at Sandy Cove, they received many invitations to entertainments of
various kinds.

The Farringtons often came down in their motor-car and made a flying
visit, or took the Fairfields for a ride, and Patty hoped that the
Warners would visit them before the summer was over.

One day Mr. Phelps appeared unexpectedly, and from nowhere in particular.
He came in his big racing-car, and that day Patty chanced to be the only
one of the family at home. He invited her to go for a short ride with
him, saying they could easily be back by dinner time, when the others
were expected home.

Glad of the opportunity, Patty ran for her automobile coat and hood, and
soon they were flying along the country roads.

Part of the time they went at a mad rate of speed, and part of the time
they went slower, that they might converse more easily.

As they went somewhat slowly past a piece of woods, Patty gave a sudden
exclamation, and declared that she saw what looked like a baby or a young
child wrapped in a blanket and lying on the ground.

Her face expressed such horror-stricken anxiety, as she thought that
possibly the child had been abandoned and left there purposely, that Mr.
Phelps consented to go back and investigate the matter, although he
really thought she was mistaken in thinking it was a child at all.

He turned his machine, and in a moment they were back at the place.

Mr. Phelps jumped from the car, and ran into the wood where Patty
pointed.

Sure enough, under a tree lay a baby, perhaps a year old, fairly well
dressed and with a pretty smiling face.

He called to Patty and she joined him where he stood looking at the
child.

"Why, bless your heart!" cried Patty, picking the little one up, "what
are you doing here all alone?"

The baby cooed and smiled, dimpling its little face and caressing Patty's
cheeks with its fat little hands. A heavy blanket had been spread on the
ground for the child to lie on, and around its little form was pinned a
lighter blanket with the name Rosabel embroidered on one corner.

"So that's your name, is it?" said Patty. "Well, Rosabel, I'd like to
know where you belong and what you're doing here. Do you suppose," she
said, turning an indignant face to Mr. Phelps, "that anybody deliberately
put this child here and deserted it?"

"I'm afraid that's what has happened," said Mr. Phelps, who really
couldn't think of any other explanation.

They looked all around, but nobody was in sight to whom the child might
possibly belong.

"I can't go away and leave her here," said Patty, "the dear little thing,
what shall we do with her?"

"It is a mighty hard case," said Mr. Phelps, who was nonplussed himself.
He was a most gentle-hearted man, and could not bear the thought of
leaving the child there alone in the woods, and it was already nearing
sundown.

"We might take it along with us," he said, "and enquire at the nearest
house."

"There's no house in sight," said Patty, looking about. "Well, there are
only two things to choose from; to stay here in hope that somebody will
come along, who knows something about this baby, or else assume that she
really has been deserted and take her home with us, for the night at
least. I simply won't go off and leave her here, and if there was anybody
here in charge of her they must have shown up by this time."

Mr. Phelps could see no use in waiting there any longer, and though it
seemed absurd to carry the child off with them, there really seemed
nothing else to do.

So with a last look around, hoping to see somebody, but seeing no one,
Patty climbed into the car and sitting in the front seat beside Mr.
Phelps, held the baby in her lap.

"She's awfully cunning," she declared, "and such a pretty baby! Whoever
abandoned this child ought to be fearfully punished in some way."

"I can't think she was abandoned," said Mr. Phelps, but as he couldn't
think of any other reason for the baby being there alone, he was forced
to accept the desertion theory.

Having decided to take the baby with them, they sped along home, and drew
up in front of the house to find Nan and Mr. Fairfield on the verandah.

"Why, how do you do, Mr. Phelps?" cried Nan. "We're very glad to see you.
Come in. For gracious goodness' sake, Patty, what have you got there?"

"This is Rosabel," said Patty, gravely, as she held the baby up to view.



CHAPTER XIX

ROSABEL


"Rosabel who?" exclaimed Nan, as Patty came up on the verandah with the
baby in her arms.

"I don't know, I'm sure. You may call her Rosabel anything you like. We
picked her up by the wayside."

"Yes," said Dick Phelps, who had followed Patty up the steps. "Miss
Rosabel seemed lonely without anyone to talk to, so we brought her back
here to visit you."

"You must be crazy!" cried Nan, "but what a cunning baby it is! Let me
take her."

Nan took the good-natured little midget and sat down in a verandah
rocker, with the baby in her arms.

"Tell a straight story, Patty," said her father, "is it one of the
neighbour's children, or did you kidnap it?"

"Neither," said Patty, turning to her father; "we found the baby lying
right near the edge of a wood, in plain sight from the road. And there
was nobody around, and Papa, I just know that the child's wretch of a
mother deserted it, and left it there to die!"

"Nonsense," said her father. "Mothers don't leave their little ones
around as carelessly as that."

"Well, what else could it be?" said Patty. "There was the baby all alone,
smiling and talking to herself, and no one anywhere near, although we
waited for some time."

"It does seem strange," said Mr. Fairfield, "perhaps the mother did mean
to desert the child, but if so, she was probably peeping from some
hiding-place, to make sure that she approved of the people who took it."

"Well," said Mr. Phelps, "she evidently thought we were all right; at any
rate she made no objection."

"But isn't it awful," said Nan, "to think of anybody deserting a dear
little thing like this. Why, the wild animals might have eaten her up."

"Of course they might," said Mr. Phelps, gravely, "the tigers and wolves
that abound on Long Island are of the most ferocious type."

"Well, anyway," said Patty, "something dreadful might have happened to
her."

"It may yet," said Mr. Phelps cheerfully, "when we take her back
to-morrow and put her in the place we found her. For I don't suppose you
intend to keep Miss Rosabel, do you?"

"I don't know," said Patty, "but I know one thing, we certainly won't put
her back where we found her. What shall we do with her, Papa?"

"I don't know, my child, she's your find, and I suppose it's a case of
'findings is keepings.'"

"Of course we can't keep her," said Patty, "how ridiculous! We'll have to
put her in an orphan asylum or something like that."

"It's a shame," said Nan, "to put this dear little mite in a horrid old
asylum. I think I shall adopt her myself."

Little Rosabel had begun to grow restless, and suddenly without a word of
warning she began to cry lustily, and not a quiet well-conducted cry
either, but with ear-splitting shrieks and yells, indicative of great
discomfort of some sort.

"I've changed my mind," said Nan, abruptly. "I don't want to adopt any
such noisy young person as that. Here, take her, Patty, she's your
property."

Patty took the baby, and carried her into the house, fearing that
passers-by would think they must be torturing the child to make her
scream like that.

Into the dining-room went Patty, and on to the kitchen, where she
announced to the astonished cook that she wanted some milk for the baby
and she wanted it quick.

"Is there company for dinner, Miss Patty?" asked the cook, not
understanding how a baby could have arrived as an only guest.

"Only this one," said Patty, laughing, "what do you think she ought to
eat?"

"Bread and milk," said the cook, looking at the child with a judicial
air.

"All right, Kate, fix her some, won't you?"

In a few moments Patty was feeding Rosabel bread and milk, which the
child ate eagerly.

Impelled by curiosity, Nan came tip-toeing to the kitchen, followed by
the two men.

"I thought she must be asleep," said Nan, "as the concert seems to have
stopped."

"Not at all," said Patty, calmly, "she was only hungry, and the fact
seemed to occur to her somewhat suddenly."

Little Rosabel, all smiles again, looked up from her supper with such
bewitching glances that Nan cried out, "Oh, she is a darling! Let me help
you feed her, Patty."

In fact they all succumbed to the charm of their uninvited guest. During
dinner Rosabel sat at the table, in a chair filled with pillows, and was
made happy by being given many dainty bits of various delicacies, until
Nan declared the child would certainly be ill.

"I don't believe she is more than a year old," said Nan, "and she's
probably unaccustomed to those rich cakes and bonbons."

"I think she's more than a year," said Patty, sagely, "and anyway, I want
her to have a good time for once."

"She seems to be having the time of her life," said Dick Phelps, as he
watched the baby, who with a macaroon in one hand, and some candied
cherries in the other, was smiling impartially on them all.

"She's not much of a conversationalist," remarked Mr. Fairfield.

"Give her time," said Patty, "she feels a little strange at first."

"Yes," said Mr. Phelps, "I think after two or three years she'll be much
more talkative."

"Well, there's one thing certain," said Patty, "she'll have to stay here
to-night, whatever we do with her to-morrow."

[Illustration: "In a few minutes Patty was feeding Rosabel bread
and milk"]

After dinner they took their new toy with them to the parlour, and Miss
Rosabel treated them all to a few more winning smiles, and then quietly,
but very decidedly fell asleep in Patty's arms.

"I can't help admiring her decision of character," said Patty, as she
shook the baby to make her awaken, but without success.

"Don't wake her up," said Nan. "Come, Patty, we'll take her upstairs, and
put her to bed somewhere."

This feat being accomplished, Nan and Patty rejoined the men, who sat
smoking on the front verandah.

"Now," said Patty, "we really must decide what we're going to do with
that infant; for I warn you, Papa Fairfield, that if we keep that dear
baby around much longer, I shall become so attached to her that I can't
give her up."

"Of course," said Mr. Fairfield, "she must be turned over to the
authorities. I'll attend to it the first thing in the morning."

A little later Mr. Fairfield and Nan strolled down the road to make a
call on a neighbour, and Patty and Dick Phelps remained at home.

Patty had declared she wouldn't leave the house lest Rosabel should waken
and cry out, so promising to make but a short call, Mr. Fairfield and Nan
went away.

Soon after they had gone, a strange young man came walking toward the
house. He turned in at the gate and approached the front steps.

"Is this Mr. Richard Phelps?" he asked, addressing himself to Dick.

"It is; what can I do for you?"

"Do you own a large black racing automobile?"

"Yes," replied Mr. Phelps.

"And were you out in it this afternoon," continued the stranger, "driving
rapidly between here and North Point?"

"Yes," said Mr. Phelps again, wondering what was the intent of this
peculiar interview.

"Then you're the man I'm after," declared the stranger, "and I'm obliged
to tell you, sir, that you are under arrest."

"For what offence?" enquired Mr. Phelps, rather amused at what he
considered a good joke, and thinking that it must be a case of mistaken
identity somehow.

"For kidnapping little Mary Brown," was the astonishing reply.

"Why, we didn't kidnap her at all!" exclaimed Patty, breaking into the
conversation. "The idea, to think we would kidnap a baby! and anyway her
name isn't Mary, it's Rosabel."

"Then you know where the child is, Miss," said the man, turning to Patty.

"Of course I do," said Patty, "she's upstairs asleep. But it isn't Mary
Brown at all. It's Rosabel,--I don't know what her last name is."

Mr. Phelps began to be interested.

"What makes you think we kidnapped a baby, my friend?" he said to their
visitor.

The man looked as if he had begun to think there must be a mistake
somewhere. "Why, you see, sir," he said, "Mrs. Brown, she's just about
crazy. Her little girl, Sarah, went out into the woods this afternoon,
and took the baby, Mary, with her. The baby went to sleep, and Sarah left
it lying on a blanket under a tree, while she roamed around the wood
picking blueberries. Somehow she strayed away farther than she intended
and lost her way. When she finally managed to get back to the place where
she left the baby, the child was gone, and she says she could see a large
automobile going swiftly away, and the lady who sat in the front seat was
holding little Mary. Sarah screamed, and called after you, but the car
only went on more and more rapidly, and was soon lost to sight. I'm a
detective, sir, and I looked carefully at the wheel tracks in the dust,
and I asked a few questions here and there, and I hit upon some several
clues, and here I am. Now I'd like you to explain, sir, if you didn't
kidnap that child, what you do call it?"

"Why, it was a rescue," cried Patty, indignantly, without giving Mr.
Phelps time to reply. "The dear little baby was all alone in the wood,
and anything might have happened to her. Her mother had no business to
let her be taken care of by a sister that couldn't take care of her any
better than that! We waited for some time, and nobody appeared, so we
picked up the child and brought her home, rather than leave her there
alone. But I don't believe it's the child you're after anyway, for the
name Rosabel is embroidered on the blanket."

"It is the same child, Miss," said the man, who somehow seemed a little
crestfallen because his kidnapping case proved to be only in his own
imagination. "Mrs. Brown described to me the clothes the baby wore, and
she said that blanket was given to her by a rich lady who had a little
girl named Rosabel. The Browns are poor people, ma'am, and the mother is
a hard-working woman, and she's nearly crazed with grief about the baby."

"I should think she would be," said Patty, whose quick sympathies had
already flown to the sorrowing mother. "She oughtn't to have left an
irresponsible child in charge of the little thing. But it's dreadful to
think how anxious she must be! Now I'll tell you what we'll do; Mr.
Phelps, if you'll get out your car, I'll just bundle that child up and
we'll take her right straight back home to her mother. We'll stop at the
Ripleys' for Papa and Nan, and we'll all go over together. It's a lovely
moonlight night for a drive, anyway, and even if it were pitch dark, or
pouring in torrents, I should want to get that baby back to her mother
just as quickly as possible. I don't wonder the poor woman is
distracted."

"Very well," said Mr. Phelps, who would have driven his car to Kamschatka
if Patty had asked him to, "and we'll take this gentleman along with us,
to direct us to Mrs. Brown's."

Mr. Phelps went for his car, and Patty flew to bundle up the baby. She
did not dress the child, but wrapped her in a warm blanket, and then in a
fur-lined cape of her own. Then making a bundle of the baby's clothes,
she presented herself at the door, just as Mr. Phelps drove up with his
splendid great car shining in the moonlight.

A few moments' pause was sufficient to gather in Mr. and Mrs. Fairfield,
and away they all flew through the night, to Mrs. Brown's humble cottage.

They found the poor woman not only grieving about the loss of her child,
but angry and revengeful against the lady and gentleman in the motor-car,
who, she thought, had stolen it.

And so when the car stopped in front of her door, she came running out
followed by her husband and several children.

Little Sarah recognised the car, which was unusual in size and shape, and
cried out, "That's the one, that's the one, mother! and those are the
people who stole Mary!"

But the young detective, whose name was Mr. Faulks, sprang out of the car
and began to explain matters to the astonished family. Then Patty handed
out the baby, and the grief of the Browns was quickly turned to
rejoicing, mingled with apologies.

Mr. Fairfield explained further to the somewhat bewildered mother, and
leaving with her a substantial present of money as an evidence of good
faith in the matter, he returned to his place in the car, and in a moment
they were whizzing back toward home.

"I'm glad it all turned out right," said Patty with a sigh, "but I do
wish that pretty baby had been named Rosabel instead of Mary. It really
would have suited her a great deal better."



CHAPTER XX

THE ROLANDS


"There's a new family in that house across the road," said Mr. Fairfield
one evening at dinner.

"The Fenwick house?" asked Nan.

"Yes; a man named Roland has taken it for August. I know a man who knows
them, and he says they're charming people. So, if you ladies want to be
neighbourly, you might call on them."

Nan and Patty went to call and found the Roland family very pleasant
people, indeed. Mrs. Roland seemed to be an easy-going sort of lady who
never took any trouble herself, and never expected anyone else to do so.

Miss Roland, Patty decided, was a rather inanimate young person, and
showed a lack of energy so at variance with Patty's tastes that she
confided to Nan on the way home she certainly did not expect to cultivate
any such lackadaisical girl as that.

As for young Mr. Roland, the son of the house, Patty had great ado to
keep from laughing outright at him. He was of the foppish sort, and
though young and rather callow, he assumed airs of great importance, and
addressed Patty with a formal deference, as if she were a young lady in
society, instead of a schoolgirl.

Patty was accustomed to frank, pleasant comradeship with the boys of her
acquaintance; and the young men, such as Mr. Hepworth and Mr. Phelps,
treated Patty as a little girl, and never seemed to imply anything like
grown-up attentions.

But young Mr. Roland, with an affected drawl, and what were meant to be
killing glances of admiration, so conducted himself that Patty's sense of
humour was stirred, and she mischievously led him on for the fun of
seeing what he would do next.

The result was that young Mr. Roland was much pleased with pretty Patty,
and fully believed that his own charms had made a decided impression on
her.

He asked permission to call, whereupon Patty told him that she was only a
schoolgirl, and did not receive calls from young men, but referred him to
Mrs. Fairfield, and Nan being in an amiable mood, kindly gave him the
desired permission.

"Well," said Patty, as they discussed the matter afterward, "if that
young puff-ball rolls himself over here, you can have the pleasure of
entertaining him. I'm quite ready to admit that another season of his
conversation would affect my mind."

"Nonsense," said Nan, carelessly, "you can't expect every young man to be
as interesting as Mr. Hepworth, or as companionable as Kenneth Harper."

"I don't," said Patty, "but I don't have to bore myself to death talking
to them, if I don't like them."

"No," said Nan, "but you must be polite and amiable to everybody. That's
part of the penalty of being an attractive young woman."

"All right," said Patty, "since that's the way you look at it, you surely
can't have any objection to receiving Mr. Roland if he calls, for I warn
you that I shan't appear."

But it so happened that when a caller came one afternoon, Nan was not at
home, and Patty was.

The maid brought the card to Patty, who was reading in her own room, and
when she looked at it and saw the name of Mr. Charles Roland upon it, she
exclaimed in dismay.

"I don't want to go down," she said, "I wish he hadn't come."

"It's a lady, Miss Patty," said the girl.

"A lady?" said Patty, wonderingly, "why this is a gentleman's card."

"Yes, ma'am, I know it, but it's a lady that called. She's down in the
parlour, waiting, and that's the card she gave me. She's a large lady,
Miss Patty, with greyish hair, and she seems in a terrible fluster."

"Very mysterious," said Patty, "but I'll go down and see what it's all
about."

Patty went down to the parlour, and found Mrs. Roland there. She did
indeed look bewildered, and as soon as Patty entered the room she began
to talk volubly.

"Excuse my rushing over like this, my dear," she said, "but I am in such
trouble, and I wonder if you won't help me out. We're neighbours, you
know, and I'm sure I'd do as much for you. I asked for Mrs. Fairfield,
but she isn't at home, so I asked for you."

"But the card you sent up had Mr. Charles Roland's name on it," said
Patty, smiling.

"Oh, my dear, is that so? What a mistake to make! You see I carry
Charlie's cards around with my own, and I must have sent the wrong one.
I'm so nearsighted I can't see anything without my glasses, anyway, and
my glasses are always lost."

Patty felt sorry for the old lady, who seemed in such a bewildered state,
and she said, "No matter about the card, Mrs. Roland, what can I do for
you?"

"Why it's just this," said her visitor. "I want to borrow your house.
Just for the night, I'll return it to-morrow in perfect order."

"Borrow this house?" repeated Patty, wondering if her guest were really
sane.

"Yes," said Mrs. Roland; "now wait, and I'll tell you all about it. I'm
expecting some friends to dinner and to stay over night, and would you
believe it, just now of all days in the year, the tank has burst and the
water is dripping down all through the house. We can't seem to do
anything to stop it. The ceilings had fallen in three rooms when I came
away, and I dare say the rest of them are down by this time. And my
friends are very particular people, and awfully exclusive. I wouldn't
like to take them to the hotel; and I don't think it's a very nice hotel
anyway, and so I thought if you'd just lend me this house over night, I
could bring my friends right here, and as they leave to-morrow morning,
it wouldn't be long, you know. And truly I don't see what else I can do."

"But what would become of our family?" said Patty, who was greatly amused
at the unconventional request.

"Why, you could go to our house," said Mrs. Roland dubiously; "that is,
if any of the ceilings will stay up over night; or," she added, her face
brightening, "couldn't you go to the hotel yourselves? Of course, it
isn't a nice place to entertain guests, but it does very well for one's
own family. Oh, Miss Fairfield, please help me out! Truly I'd do as much
for you if the case were reversed."

Although the request was unusual, Mrs. Roland did not seem to think so,
and the poor lady seemed to be in such distress, that Patty's sympathies
were aroused, and after all it was a mere neighbourly act of kindness to
borrow and lend, even though the article in question was somewhat larger
than the lemon or the egg usually borrowed by neighbourly housekeepers.

So Patty said, "What about the servants, Mrs. Roland? Do you want to
borrow them too?"

"I don't care," was the reply, "just as it suits you best. You may leave
them here; or take them with you, and I'll bring my own. Oh, please, Miss
Fairfield, do help me somehow."

Patty thought a minute. It was a responsibility to decide the question
herself, but if she waited until Nan or her father came home, it would be
too late for Mrs. Roland's purpose.

Then she said, "I'll do it, Mrs. Roland. You shall have the house and
servants at your disposal until noon to-morrow. You may bring your own
servants also, or not, just as you choose. We won't go to your house,
thank you, nor to the hotel. But Mr. and Mrs. Fairfield and myself will
go over to my aunt, Mrs. Barlow's, to dine and spend the night. They can
put us up, and they won't mind a bit our coming so unexpectedly."

"Oh, my dear, how good you are!" said Mrs. Roland in a burst of
gratitude. "I cannot tell you how I appreciate your kindness! Are you
sure your parents won't mind?"

"I'm not at all sure of that," said Patty, smiling, "but I don't see as
they can help themselves; when they come home, you will probably be in
possession, and your guests will be here, so there'll be nothing for my
people to do but to fall in with my plans."

"Oh, how good you are," said Mrs. Roland. "I will surely make this up to
you in some way, and now, will you just show me about the house a bit, as
I've never been here before?"

So Patty piloted Mrs. Roland about the house, showed her the various
rooms, and told the servants that they were at Mrs. Roland's orders for
that night and the next morning.

After Mrs. Roland had gone back home, made happy by Patty's kindness,
Patty began to think that she had done a very extraordinary thing, and
wondered what her father and Nan would say.

"But," she thought to herself, "I'm in for it now, and they'll have to
abide by my decision, whatever they think. Now I must pack some things
for our visit. But first I must telephone to Aunt Grace."

"Hello, Auntie," said Patty, at the telephone, a few moments later. "Papa
and Nan and I want to come over to the Hurly-Burly to dinner, and to stay
all night. Will you have us?"

"Why, of course, Patty, child, we're glad to have you. Come right along
and stay as long as you like. But what's the matter? Has your cook left,
or is the house on fire?"

"Neither, Aunt Grace, but I'll explain when I get there. Can you send
somebody after me in a carriage? Papa and Nan have gone off in the cart,
and I have two suit cases to bring."

"Certainly, Patty, I'll send old Dill after you right away, and I'll make
him hurry, too, as you seem to be anxious to start."

"I am," said Patty, laughing. "Good-bye."

Then she gathered together such clothing and belongings as were necessary
for their visit, and had two suit cases ready packed when her aunt's
carriage came for her.

Patty looked a little dubious as she left the house, but she didn't feel
that she could have acted otherwise than as she had done, and, too, since
their own trusty servants were to stay there, certainly no harm could
come to the place.

So, giggling at the whole performance, Patty jumped into the Barlow
carriage and went to the Hurly-Burly.

"Well, of all things!" said her Aunt Grace, after Patty had told her
story. "I've had a suspicion, sometimes, that we Barlows were an
unconventional crowd, but we never borrowed anybody's house yet! It's
ridiculous, Patty, and you ought not to have let that woman have it!"

"I just couldn't help it, Aunt Grace, she was in such a twitter, and
threw herself on my mercy in such a way that I felt I had to help her
out."

"You're too soft-hearted, Patty; you'd do anything for anybody who asked
you."

"You needn't talk, Aunt Grace, you're just the same yourself, and you
know that if somebody came along this minute and wanted to borrow your
house you'd let her have it if she coaxed hard enough."

"I think very likely," said Aunt Grace, placidly. "Now, how are you going
to catch your father and Nan?"

"Why, they'll have to drive past here on their way home," said Patty,
"and I mean to stop them and tell them about it. We can put the horse in
your barn, I suppose."

"Yes, of course. And now we'll go out on the verandah, and then we can
see the Fairfield turn-out when it comes along."

The Fairfields were waylaid and stopped as they drove by the house, which
was not astonishing, as Patty and Bumble and Mrs. Barlow watched from the
piazza, while Bob was perched on the front gate post, and Uncle Ted was
pacing up and down the walk.

"What's the matter?" cried Mr. Fairfield, as he reined up his horse in
response to their various salutations.

"The matter is," said Patty, "that we haven't any home of our own
to-night, and so we're visiting Aunt Grace."

"Earthquake swallowed our house?" inquired Mr. Fairfield, as he turned to
drive in.

"Not quite," said Patty, "but one of the neighbours wanted to borrow it,
so I lent it to her."

"That Mrs. Roland, I suppose," said Nan; "she probably mislaid her own
house, she's so careless and rattle-pated."

"It was Mrs. Roland," said Patty, laughing, "and she's having a
dinner-party, and their tank burst, and most of the ceilings fell, and
really, Nan, you know yourself such things do upset a house, if they
occur on the day of a dinner-party."

Fuller explanations ensued, and though the Fairfields thought it a crazy
piece of business, they agreed with Patty, that it would have been
difficult to refuse Mrs. Roland's request.

And it really didn't interfere with the Fairfields'comfort at all, and
the Barlows protested that it was a great pleasure to them to entertain
their friends so unexpectedly, so, as Mr. Fairfield declared, Mrs. Roland
was, after all, a public benefactor.

"You'd better wait," said Nan, "until you see the house to-morrow. I know
a little about the Rolands, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find
things pretty much upside down."

It was nearly noon the next day when Mrs. Roland telephoned to the
Hurly-Burly and asked for Mrs. Fairfield.

Nan responded, and was told that the Rolands were now leaving, and that
the Fairfields might again come into their home.

Mrs. Roland also expressed voluble thanks for the great service the
Fairfields had done her, and said that she would call the next day to
thank them in person.

So the Fairfields went back home, and happily Nan's fears were not
realised. Nothing seemed to be spoiled or out of order, and the servants
said that Mrs. Roland and her family and friends had been most kind, and
had made no trouble at all.

"Now, you see," said Patty, triumphantly, "that it does no harm to do a
kind deed to a neighbour once in a while, even though it isn't the
particular kind deed that you've done a hundred times before."

"That's true enough, Patty," said her father, "but all the same when you
lend our home again, let it be our own house, and furnished with our own
things. I don't mind owning up, now that it's all over, that I did feel a
certain anxiety arising from the fact that this is a rented house, and
almost none of the household appointments are our own."

"Goodness, gracious me!" said Patty. "I never once thought of that! Well,
I'm glad they didn't smash all the china and bric-a-brac, for they're
mortal homely, and I should certainly begrudge the money it would take to
replace them."



CHAPTER XXI

THE CRUSOES


Plans were on foot for a huge fair and bazaar to be held in aid of the
Associated Charities. Everybody in and around Sandy Cove was interested,
and the fair, which would be held the last week in August, was expected
to eclipse all previous efforts of its kind.

All three of the Fairfields were energetically assisting in the work, and
each was a member of several important committees.

The Barlows, too, were working hard, and the Rolands thought they were
doing so, though somehow they accomplished very little. As the time drew
near for the bazaar to open, Patty grew so excited over the work and had
such a multitude of responsibilities, that she flew around as madly as
when she was preparing for the play at school.

"But I'm perfectly well, now," she said to her father when he
remonstrated with her, "and I don't mind how hard I work as long as I
haven't lessons to study at the same time."

Aside from assisting with various booths and tables, Patty had charge of
a gypsy encampment, which she spared no pains to make as gay and
interesting as possible.

The "Romany Rest" she called the little enclosure which was to represent
the gypsies'home, and Patty not only superintended the furnishing and
arranging of the place, but also directed the details of the costumes
which were to be worn by the young people who were to represent gypsies.

The Fairfields' house was filled with guests who had come down for the
fair.

Patty had invited Elise and Roger Farrington, and Bertha and Winthrop
Warner. Mr. Hepworth and Kenneth Harper were there, too, and the merry
crowd of young people worked zealously in their endeavours to assist
Patty and Nan.

Mr. Hepworth, of course, was especially helpful in arranging the gypsy
encampment, and designing the picturesque costumes for the girls and
young men who were to act as gypsies. The white blouses with gay-coloured
scarfs and broad sombreros were beautiful to look at, even if, as Patty
said, they were more like Spanish fandangoes than like any gypsy garments
she had ever seen.

"Don't expose your ignorance, my child," said Mr. Hepworth, smiling at
her. "A Romany is not an ordinary gypsy and is always clothed in this
particular kind of garb."

"Then that's all that's necessary," said Patty. "I bow to your superior
judgment, and I feel sure that all the patrons of the fair will spend
most of their time at the 'Romany Rest.'"

The day on which the fair was to open was a busy one, and everybody was
up betimes, getting ready for the grand event.

A fancy dress parade was to be one of the features of the first evening,
and as a prize was offered for the cleverest costume, all of the
contestants were carefully guarding the secret of the characters their
costumes would represent. Although Roger had given no hint of what his
costume was to be, he calmly announced that he knew it would take the
prize. The others laughed, thinking this a jest, and Patty was of a
private opinion that probably Mr. Hepworth's costume would be cleverer
than Roger's, as the artist had most original and ingenious ideas.

The fair was to open at three in the afternoon, and soon after twelve
o'clock Patty rushed into the house looking for somebody to send on an
errand. She found no one about but Bertha Warner, who was hastily putting
some finishing touches to her own gypsy dress.

"That's almost finished, isn't it, Bertha?" began Patty breathlessly.

"Yes; why? Can I help you in any way?"

"Indeed you can, if you will. I have to go over to Black Island for some
goldenrod. It doesn't grow anywhere else as early, at least I can't find
any. I've hunted all over for somebody to send, but the boys are all so
busy, and so I'm just going myself. I wish you'd come along and help me
row. It's ever so much quicker to go across in a boat and get it there,
than to drive out into the country for it."

"Of course I will," said Bertha, "but will there be time?"

"Yes, if we scoot right along."

The girls flew down to the dock, jumped into a small rowboat and began to
row briskly over to Black Island. It was not very far, and they soon
reached it. They scrambled out, pulled the boat well up onto the beach,
and went after the flowers.

Sure enough, as Patty had said, there was a luxuriant growth of goldenrod
in many parts of the island. Patty had brought a pair of garden shears,
and by setting to work vigorously, they soon had as much as they could
carry.

"There," said Patty, triumphantly, as she tied up two great sheaves, "I
believe we gathered that quicker than if we had brought some boys along
to help. Now let's skip for home."

The island was not very large, but in their search for the flowers they
had wandered farther than they thought.

"It's nearly one o'clock," said Patty, looking at her watch, and carrying
their heavy cargo of golden flowers, they hastened back to where they had
left their boat.

But no boat was there.

"Oh, Bertha," cried Patty, "the boat has drifted away!"

"Oh, pshaw," said Bertha, "I don't believe it. We pulled it ever so far
up on the sand."

"Well, then, where is it?"

"Why, I believe Winthrop or Kenneth or somebody came over and pulled it
away, just to tease us. I believe they're around the corner waiting for
us now."

Patty tried to take this view of it, but she felt a strange sinking of
her heart, for it wasn't like Kenneth to play a practical joke, and she
didn't think Winthrop would, either.

Laying down her bundle of flowers, Bertha ran around the end of the
island, fully expecting to see her brother's laughing face.

But there was no one to be seen, and no sign of the boat.

Then Bertha became alarmed, and the two girls looked at each other in
dismay.

"Look off there," cried Patty, suddenly, pointing out on the water.

Far away they saw an empty boat dancing along in the sunlight!

Bertha began to cry, and though Patty felt like it, it seemed really too
babyish, and she said, "Don't be a goose, Bertha, we're not lost on a
desert island, and of course somebody will come after us, anyway."

But Patty was worried more than she would admit. For no one knew where
they had gone, and the empty boat was drifting away from Sandy Cove
instead of toward it.

At first, the girls were buoyed up by the excitement of the situation,
and felt that somebody must find them shortly. But no other boat was in
sight, and as Patty said, everybody was getting ready for the fair and no
one was likely to go out rowing that day.

One o'clock came, and then half-past one, and though the girls had tried
to invent some way out of their difficulty they couldn't think of a thing
to do, but sit still and wait. They had tied their handkerchiefs on the
highest bushes of the island, there being no trees, but they well knew
that these tiny white signals were not likely to attract anybody's
attention.

They had shouted until they were hoarse, and they had talked over all the
possibilities of the case.

"Of course they have missed us by this time," said Patty, "and of course
they are looking for us."

"I don't believe they are," said Bertha disconsolately, "because all the
people at the house will think we're down at the fair grounds, and all
the people there will think we're up at the house."

"That's so," Patty admitted, for she well knew how everybody was
concerned with his or her own work for the fair, and how little thought
they would be giving to one another at this particular time.

And yet, though Patty would not mention it, and would scarcely admit the
thought to herself, she couldn't help feeling sure that Mr. Hepworth
would be wondering where she was.

"The only hope is," she said to Bertha, "if somebody should want to see
me especially, about some of the work, and should try to hunt me up."

"Well," said Bertha, "even if they did, it never would occur to them that
we are over here."

"No, they'd never think of that; even if they do miss us, and try to hunt
for us. They'll only telephone to different houses, or something like
that. It will never occur to them that we're over here, and why should
it?"

"I'm glad I came with you," said Bertha, affectionately. "I should hate
to think of you over here all alone."

"If I were here alone," said Patty, laughing, "you wouldn't be thinking
of me as here alone. You'd just be wondering where I was."

"So I would," said Bertha, laughing, too; "but oh, Patty, do let's do
_something!_ It's fearful to sit here helpless like this."

"I know it," said Patty, "but what can we do? We're just like Robinson
Crusoe and his man Friday, except that we haven't any goat."

"No, and we haven't any raft, from which to select that array of useful
articles that he had at his disposal. Do you remember the little bag,
that always held everything that could possibly be required?"

"Oh, that was in 'Swiss Family Robinson,'" said Patty; "your early
education is getting mixed up. I hope being cast on a desert island
hasn't affected your brain. I don't want to be over here with a lunatic."

"You will be, if this keeps up much longer," said poor Bertha, who was of
an emotional nature, and was bravely trying hard not to cry.

"We might make a fire," said Patty, "if we only had some paper and
matches."

"I don't know what good a fire would do. Nobody would think that meant
anything especial. I wish we could put up a bigger signal of some sort."

"We haven't any bigger signal, and if we had, we haven't any way of
raising it any higher than these silly low bushes. I never saw an island
so poorly furnished for the accommodation of two young lady Crusoes."

"I never did, either. I'm going to shout again."

"Do, if it amuses you, but truly they can't hear you. It's too far."

"What do you think will happen, Patty? Do you suppose we'll have to stay
here all night?"

"I don't know," said Patty, slowly. "Of course when it's time for the
fair to open, and we're not there, they'll miss us; and of course papa
will begin a search at once. But the trouble is, Bertha, they'll never
think of searching over here. They'll look in every other direction, but
they'll never dream that we came out in the boat."

So the girls sat and waited, growing more and more down-hearted, with
that peculiar despondency which accompanies enforced idleness in a
desperate situation.

"Look!" cried Patty, suddenly, and startled, Bertha looked where Patty
pointed.

Yes, surely, a boat had put out from the shore, and was coming toward
them. At least it was headed for the island, though not directly toward
where they sat.

"They're going to land farther down," cried Patty, excitedly, "come on,
Bertha."

The two girls rushed along the narrow rough beach, wildly waving their
handkerchiefs at the occupants of the boat.

"It's Mr. Hepworth," cried Patty, though the knowledge seemed to come to
her intuitively, even before she recognised the man who held the stroke
oar.

"And Winthrop is rowing, too," said Bertha, recognising her brother, "and
I think that's Kenneth Harper, steering."

By this time the boat was near enough to prove that these surmises were
correct.

Relieved of her anxiety, mischievous Patty, in the reaction of the
moment, assumed a saucy and indifferent air, and as the boat crunched its
keel along the pebbly beach she called out, gaily, "How do you do, are
you coming to call on us? We're camping here for the summer."

"You little rascals!" cried Winthrop Warner. "What do you mean by running
away in this fashion, and upsetting the whole bazaar, and driving all
your friends crazy with anxiety about you?"

"Our boat drifted away," said Bertha, "and we couldn't catch it, and we
thought we'd have to stay here all night."

"I didn't think we would," said Patty. "I felt sure somebody would come
after us."

"I don't know why you thought so," said Winthrop, "for nobody knew where
you were."

"I know that," said Patty, smiling, "and yet I can't tell you why, but I
just felt sure that somebody would come in a boat, and carry us safely
home."

"Whom did you expect?" asked Kenneth, "me?"

Patty looked at Kenneth, and then at Mr. Hepworth, and then dropping her
eyes demurely, she said:

"I didn't know _who_ would come, only I just knew _somebody_ would."

"Well, somebody did," said Kenneth, as he stowed the great bunches of
goldenrod in the bow of the boat.

"Yes, somebody did," said Patty, softly, flashing a tiny smile at Mr.
Hepworth, who said nothing, but he smiled a little, too, as he bent to
his oars.



CHAPTER XXII

THE BAZAAR OF ALL NATIONS


"How did you know where we were?" said Bertha to her brother.

"We didn't know," said Winthrop, "but after we had hunted everywhere, and
put a squad of policemen on your track, and got out the fire department,
and sent for an ambulance, Hepworth, here, did a little detective work on
his own account."

"What did you do?" asked Patty.

"Why, nothing much," said Mr. Hepworth, "I just tried to account for the
various boats, and when I found one was missing, I thought you must have
gone on the water somewhere. And so I got a field glass and looked all
around, and though I thought I saw your white flags fluttering. I wasn't
sure, but I put over here on the chance."

"Seems to me," said Kenneth, "Hepworth is a good deal like that man in
the story. A horse had strayed away and several people had tried to find
it, without success. Presently, a stupid old countryman came up leading
the horse. When asked how he found it he only drawled out, 'Wal, I jest
considered a spell. I thought ef I was a horse whar would I go? And I
went there,--and he had!' That's a good deal the way Hepworth did."

They all laughed at Kenneth's funny story, but Patty said, "It was a sort
of intuition, but all the same I object to having Mr. Hepworth compared
to a stupid old countryman."

"I don't care what I'm compared to," said Mr. Hepworth, gaily, "as long
as we've found you two runaways, and if we can get you back in time for
the opening of the fair."

The time was very short indeed, and as soon as they landed at the dock,
Patty and Bertha started for the house to don their costumes as quickly
as possible.

The Fair, or "Bazaar of all Nations," as it was called, was really
arranged on an elaborate scale. It was held on the spacious grounds of
Mr. Ashton, one of the wealthiest of the summer residents of Sandy Cove.

So many people had interested themselves in the charity, and so much
enthusiasm had they put into their work, that when it was time to throw
the gates open to the public, it was a festive and gorgeous scene indeed.

The idea of representing various nations had been picturesquely, if not
always logically, carried out.

A Japanese tea-booth had been built with some regard to Japanese fashion,
but with even more effort at comfort and attractive colour effects. The
young ladies who attended it wore most becoming Japanese costumes, and
with slanting pencilled eyebrows, and Japanese headdresses, they served
tea in Oriental splendour.

In competition with them was an English dairy, where the rosy-cheeked
maids in their neat cotton dresses and white aprons dispensed cheese
cakes and Devonshire cream to admiring customers.

The representatives of other countries had even more elaborate results to
show for their labours.

Italy's booth was a beautiful pergola, which had been built for the
occasion, but which Mr. Ashton intended to keep as a permanent
decoration. Over the structure were beautiful vines and climbing plants,
and inside was a gorgeous collection of blossoms of every sort. Italian
girls in rich-coloured costumes and a profuse array of jewelry sold
bouquets or growing plants, and were assisted in their enterprise by
swarthy young men who wore the dress of Venetian gondoliers, or Italian
nobles, with a fine disregard of rank or caste.

Spain boasted a vineyard. Mr. Hepworth had charge of this, and it truly
did credit to his artistic ability. Built on the side of a hill, it was a
clever imitation of a Spanish vineyard, and large grape vines had been
uprooted and transplanted to complete the effect. To be sure, the bunches
of grapes were of the hothouse variety, and were tied on the vines, but
they sold well, as did also the other luscious fruits that were offered
for sale in arbours at either end of the grapery. The young Spaniards of
both sexes who attended to the wants of their customers were garbed
exactly in accordance with Mr. Hepworth's directions, and he himself had
artistically heightened the colouring of their features and complexions.

Germany offered a restaurant where _delicatessen_ foods and tempting
savories were served by _Fräuleins_. Helen Barlow was one of the
jolliest of these, and her plump prettiness and long flaxen braids of
hair suited well the white kerchief and laced bodice of her adopted
country.

The French girls, with true Parisian instinct, had a millinery booth.
Here were sold lovely feminine bits of apparel, including collars, belts,
laces and handkerchiefs, but principally hats. The hats were truly
beautiful creations, and though made of simple materials, light straw,
muslin, and even of paper, they were all dainty confections that any
summer girl might be glad to wear. The little French ladies who exhibited
these goods were voluble and dramatic, and in true French fashion, and
with more or less true French language, they extolled the beauty of their
wares.

In a Swiss châlet the peasants sold dolls and toys; in a Cuban
construction, of which no one knew the exact title, some fierce-looking
native men sold cigars, and in a strange kind of a hut which purported to
be an Eskimo dwelling, ice cream could be bought.

The Stars and Stripes waved over a handsome up-to-date soda-water
fountain, as the authorities had decided that ice-cream soda was the most
typical American refreshment they could offer to their patrons. But an
Indian encampment also claimed American protection, and a group of
Western cowboys took pride in their ranch, and even more pride in their
swaggering costumes.

Altogether the Bazaar was a great show, and as it was to last for three
days, nobody expected to exhaust all its entertainments in one visit.

The Romany Rest was one of the prettiest conceits, and though an
idealised gypsy encampment, it proved a very popular attraction.

Half a dozen girls and as many young men wore what they fondly hoped
looked enough like gypsy costumes to justify the name, but at any rate,
they were most becoming and beautiful to look upon.

Patty was the gypsy queen, and looked like that personage as represented
in comic opera. Seated on a queerly constructed, and somewhat wobbly
throne, she told fortunes to those who desired to know what the future
held for them.

Apparently there was great curiosity in this respect, for Patty was kept
steadily busy from the time she arrived at her place.

Other gypsies sold gaily coloured beads, amulets and charms, and others
stirred a queer-looking brew in a gypsy kettle over a real fire, and sold
cupfuls of it to those who wished in this way to tempt fate still
further.

It was a perfect day, and the afternoon was progressing most
satisfactorily.

Bertha was one of the Swiss peasants, and by dint of much hurrying, she
and Patty had been able to get ready in time to join the parade of
costumed attendants as they marched to their various stations.

Though had it not been for Mr. Phelps and his swift motor-car, they could
scarcely have reached the fair grounds in time.

Elise was one of the Italian flower girls, and Kenneth also wore the garb
of Italy.

Mr. Hepworth and Roger Farrington were ferocious-looking Indians, and
brandished their tomahawks and tossed their feathered heads in fearsome
fashion.

Dick Phelps was a cowboy, and his Herculean frame well suited the
picturesque Western dress. And Charlie Roland flattered himself that
arrayed as a Chinaman he was too funny for anything.

Although Patty had become better acquainted with young Mr. Roland, she
had not learned to like him. His conceited ways and pompous manner seemed
to her silly and artificial beside the frank comradeship of her other
friends.

He came early to have his fortune told by the gypsy queen, and though, of
course, Patty was in no way responsible for the way in which the cards
fell, and though she told the fortunes strictly according to the
instructions in a printed book, which she had learned by heart, she was
not especially sorry when Mr. Roland's fortune proved to be not
altogether a desirable one.

But the young man was in nowise disconcerted.

"It doesn't matter," he said, cheerfully, "I've had my fortune told lots
of times, and things always happen just contrary to what is predicted.
But I say, Miss Romany, can't you leave your post for a few minutes and
go with me to the Japanese tea place, for a cup of their refreshing
beverage?"

"Thank you ever so much," said Patty, "but I really can't leave here.
There's a whole string of people waiting for their fortunes, and I must
stand by my post. Perhaps I can go later," she added, for though she did
not care for Charlie Roland's attentions, she was too good-natured to
wish to hurt his feelings.

"I consider that a promise," said Mr. Roland, as he moved away to make
place for the next seeker after knowledge.

Patty turned to her work, and thought no more of Charlie Roland and his
undesirable invitation.

Soon Kenneth came to have his fortune told, for it had been arranged that
each booth should have plenty of attendants, in order that they might
take turns in leaving their posts and promenading about the grounds. This
was supposed to advertise their own particular nation, besides giving all
a chance to see the sights.

Kenneth's fortune proved to be a bright and happy one, but he was not
unduly elated over it, for his faith in such things was not implicit.

"Thank you," he said gravely, as Patty finished telling of the glories
which would attend his future career. "I don't think there's anything
omitted from that string of good luck, unless it's being President, and
I'm not quite sure I want to be that."

"Yes, you do," said Patty, "every good American ought to want that, if
only as a matter of patriotism."

"Well, I'm patriotic enough," said Kenneth, "and I'll want it if you want
me to want it. And now, Patty, you've worked here long enough for the
present. Let somebody else take your place, and you come with me for a
walk about the grounds. I'll take you to the pergola, and we'll buy some
flowers from Elise."

"I'd love to go, Ken, but truly I ought to stay here a while longer. Lots
of people want their fortune told, and nobody can do it but me, because I
learnt all that lingo out of a book. No, I can't go now. Run along,--I'm
busy."

Patty spoke more shortly than she meant to, for the very reason that she
wanted to go with Kenneth, but she felt it her duty to remain at her
post.

Kenneth appreciated the principle of the thing, but he thought that Patty
might have been a little kinder about it. His own temper was a little
stirred by the incident, and rising quickly, he said, "All right, stay
here, then!" And turning on his heel, he sauntered carelessly away.

Patty looked after him, thinking what a handsome boy he was, and how well
his Italian suit became him. Kenneth's skin was naturally rather dark,
and his black eyes and hair and heavy eyebrows were somewhat of the
Italian type. His white linen blouse was slightly turned in at the throat
and he wore a crimson silk tie, and sash to match, knotted at one side. A
broad-brimmed hat of soft grey felt sat jauntily on his head, and as he
swung himself down the path, Patty thought she had never seen him look so
well.

Soon after this, Charlie Roland came back again.

"I've brought someone to help you out," he said, as he introduced a young
girl who accompanied him. "This is Miss Leslie and she knows fortune
telling from the ground up. Give her a red sash, and a bandana
handkerchief to tie around her head, and let her take your place, if only
for a short time; and you come with me to buy some flowers. Do you know,
your costume really calls for some scarlet blossoms in your hair, and
over in the pergola they have some red geraniums that are simply great.
Come on, let's get some."

Patty did want some red flowers, and had meant to have some, but she
dressed in such a hurry that there was no time to find any. Moreover, she
had never known Charlie Roland to appear to such good advantage. He
seemed to have dropped his pompous manner with his civilised dress, and
in his comical Chinaman's costume, he seemed far more attractive than in
his own everyday dress. And since he had provided her with a substitute,
Patty saw no reason for refusing his invitation.

So together they left the Romany Rest, and walked about the Fair,
chatting with people here and there, until they reached the pergola.

Elise was delighted to see them, and while the Italian girls besought Mr.
Roland to buy their flowers, the Italian young men clustered around
Patty, and with merry laugh and jest, presented her with sundry floral
offerings.

There was one exception, however; Kenneth stood aloof. For the first time
in his life, he felt that Patty had intentionally slighted him. He had
asked her to come to the pergola for flowers, and she had refused. Then a
few minutes later she had accepted a similar invitation from that stupid
young Roland. Kenneth was obliged to admit to himself that young Roland
did not look stupid just at present, for he had some talent as a
comedian, and was acting the part of a funny Chinaman with success. But
that didn't make any difference to Kenneth, and he looked reproachfully
at Patty, as she accepted the flowers and gay compliments from her
attendant cavalier.

Patty had intended to explain to Kenneth why it had been possible for her
to leave the gypsy camp in charge of another fortune teller, but when she
saw the boy's moody expression and sulky attitude her sense of humour was
touched, and she giggled to herself at the idea of Kenneth being angry at
such a trifle.

She thought it distinctly silly of him, and being in a mischievous mood,
she concluded he ought to be punished for such foolishness. So instead of
smiling at him, she gave him only a careless glance, and then devoted her
attention to the others.

Patty was a general favourite, and her happy, sunny ways made friends for
her wherever she went. She was therefore surrounded by a crowd of merry
young people, some of whom had just been introduced to her, and others
whom she had known longer; and as she laughed and chatted with them,
Kenneth began to think that he was acting rather foolishly, and longed to
join the group around the gypsy queen.

But the boy was both sensitive and proud, and he could not quite bring
himself to overlook what he considered an intentional unkindness on the
part of Patty.

So, wandering away from the pergola, he visited other booths, and chatted
with other groups, determined to ignore Patty and her perversities.

Patty, not being an obtuse young person, saw through all this, and chose
to be amused by it.

"Dear old Ken," she thought to herself, "what a goose he is! I'll get Nan
to ask him to have supper with us all in the English Dairy, and then I
expect he'll thaw out that frozen manner of his."

Feeling that she ought to return to her own post, Patty told her Chinaman
so, and together they went back to the Romany Rest; but as Patty was
about to take her place again at the fortune teller's table, Mr. Phelps
came along and desired her to go with him, and have her photograph taken.
At first Patty demurred, though she greatly wanted to go, but Miss Leslie
said she was not at all tired of fortune telling, and would gladly
continue to substitute for Patty a while longer.

"Come on, then," said Dick Phelps, "there's no reason why you shouldn't,
since Miss Leslie is kind enough to fill your place."

Patty still hesitated, for she thought that Kenneth would be still more
offended if he saw her walking around with Mr. Phelps, after having told
him that she could not leave the gypsy camp.

But Dick Phelps was of an imperious nature. He was accustomed to having
his own way, and was impatient at Patty's hesitation.

"Come on," he said. "March!" And taking her by the arm, he led her
swiftly down the path toward the photograph booth.

As he strode along, cowboy fashion, Patty said, meekly, "Let go of my
arm, please, Mr. Phelps. I think you've broken two bones already! And
_don't_ walk so fast. I'm all out of breath!"

"Forgive me," said Dick Phelps, suddenly checking his speed, and smiling
down at the girl beside him, "you see this cowboy rig makes me feel as if
I were back on the plains again, and I can't seem to adjust myself to
civilised conditions."

Mr. Phelps looked very splendid as a cowboy, and Patty listened with
interest, as he told her of an exciting episode which had occurred during
his ranch life, in a distant western territory.

So engrossed did they become in this conversation that the photographs
were forgotten for the moment, and they strolled along past the various
booths, unheeding the numerous invitations to enter.

Of course Kenneth saw them, and from a trifling offence, Patty's conduct
seemed to him to have grown into a purposed rudeness.

As they passed him, Patty smiled pleasantly, and paused, saying, "We're
all going to have supper in the Dairy, and of course you'll be with us,
Ken?"

"Of course I won't!" said Kenneth, and deliberately turning on his heel,
he walked the other way.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE END OF THE SUMMER


"Whew!" said Dick Phelps, in his straightforward way, "he's mad at you,
isn't he?"

"Yes," said Patty, "and it's so silly! All about nothing at all. I wish
you'd take me back to him, Mr. Phelps, and leave us alone, and I think I
can straighten matters out in two minutes."

"Indeed, I'll do nothing of the sort," returned Mr. Phelps, in his
masterful way; "you promised to go to the photograph place, and that's
where we're going. I don't propose to give you up to any young man we
chance to meet!"

Patty laughed, and they went on. At the photograph booth they found many
of the gaily dressed young people, anxious to have pictures of themselves
in their pretty costumes. Patty and Mr. Phelps had to wait their turn,
but finally succeeded in getting a number of pictures. Patty had some
taken alone, and some in which she was one of a gay group. Some were
successful portraits, and others were not, but all were provocative of
much laughter and fun. By a rapid process of development, the
photographers were enabled to furnish the completed pictures in less than
a half hour after the cameras did their work, and as a consequence, this
booth was exceedingly popular and promised handsome returns for the
benefit of charity.

Mr. Phelps and Patty loitered about, waiting for their pictures, when
Patty caught sight of Nan, and running to her she said, "For goodness'
sake, Nan, do help me out! Kenneth's as mad as hops, and all about
nothing! Now I want you to ask him to come to supper with our crowd, and
you must _make_ him come!"

"I can't make him come, if he doesn't want to. You've been teasing him,
Patty, and you must get out of your own scrapes."

"Ah, Nan, dear," coaxed Patty, "do be good, and truly, if you'll just
persuade him to come to supper with us, I'll do the rest."

"I'll try," said Nan as she walked away, "but I won't promise that I'll
succeed."

She did succeed, however, and some time later Mr. Fairfield gathered the
large party whom he had invited to supper, in the English Dairy.

The supper was to be a fine one, far exceeding the bounds of Dairy fare,
and Mr. Fairfield had reserved a long table for his guests.

As they trooped in, laughing and talking, and seated themselves for the
feast, Patty was relieved to see that Kenneth was among them, after all.

He took a seat between Elise and Helen Barlow, and knowing Bumble's good
nature, Patty went directly to her, and asked her if she wouldn't move,
as she wanted to sit there herself.

"Of course I will," said Bumble, and jumping up, she ran around to the
other side of the table.

Then Patty deliberately sat down by Kenneth, who couldn't very well get
up and walk away, himself, though he looked at her with no expression of
welcome in his glance.

Without a word, Patty leaned over and selected from a dish of olives on
the table one which had a stem to it.

With a tiny bit of ribbon she tied the olive to a little green branch she
had brought in with her, and then demurely held the token toward Kenneth.

For a moment the boy looked rather blank, and then realising that Patty
was offering him the olive branch of peace, and that she had gone to some
trouble to do this, and that moreover she had done it rather cleverly,
the boy's face broke into a smile, and he turned toward Patty.

"Thank you," he said, as he took the little spray, and attached it to the
rolling collar of his blouse. "I accept it, with its full meaning."

"You're such a goose, Kenneth!" said Patty, her eyes dancing with
laughter. "There was nothing to get huffy about."

"Well," said Kenneth, feeling his grounds for complaint slipping away
from him, "you pranced off with that Roland chap, after you had just told
me you couldn't leave your gypsy queen business."

"I know it," said Patty, "but Ken, he brought a nice lady to fill my
place, and besides, he asked me to go to get red flowers and I really
wanted red flowers."

"I asked you to go for flowers too," said Kenneth, not yet entirely
mollified.

"Yes," said Patty, "but you didn't say _red_ flowers. How did I know but
that you'd buy pink or blue ones, and so spoil my whole gypsy costume?"

Kenneth had to laugh in spite of himself, at this bit of audacity. "And
then right afterwards you went off again with Dick Phelps," he continued.

"Kenneth," said Patty, looking at him with an expression of mock terror,
"I couldn't help myself that time! Honest, I couldn't. Mr. Phelps is a
fearful tyrant. He's an ogre, and when he commanded me to go, I just had
to go! He's a man that makes you do a thing, whether you want to or not.
Why, Kenneth, he just marched me off!"

"All right," said Kenneth, "I'll take a leaf out of his book. After this,
when I want you to go anywhere, _I'll_ just march you off."

"You can try," said Patty, saucily, "but I'm not sure you can do it. It
takes a certain type of man to do that sort of thing successfully, and I
don't know anybody but Dick Phelps who's just that kind."

But peace was restored, for Kenneth realised that Patty's explanation was
a fair one, and that he had been foolishly quick to take offence.

After supper they all went to the grand stand to see the parade of fancy
costumes.

These were quite separate from the booth attendants, and a prize had been
offered for the cleverest conceit, most successfully carried out.

When at last the grand march took place, it showed a wonderful array of
thoroughly ingenious costumes.

Of course there were many clowns, historical characters, fairies, and
queer nondescript creatures, but there were also many characters which
were unique and noteworthy.

Mr. Hepworth, who was in the parade, had chosen to represent the full
moon.

How he did it, no one quite knew; but all that was visible was an
enormous sphere, of translucent brightness and a luminous yellow color.

Mr. Fairfield declared that the medium must be phosphorus, but all agreed
that it was a wonderful achievement, and many thought it would surely
take the prize.

The sphere was hollow, and made of a light framework, and Mr. Hepworth
walked inside of it, really carrying it along with him. It so nearly
touched the ground that his feet were scarcely observable, and the great
six foot globe made a decided sensation, as it moved slowly along.

Patty remembered that Roger had declared he was going to take the prize,
and as she had knowledge of the boy's ability along these lines, she felt
by no means sure that it wouldn't eclipse Mr. Hepworth's shining orb.

And sure enough, when Roger appeared, it was in the character of a
Christmas tree!

The clever youth had selected just the right kind of a tree, and cutting
away enough twigs and branches near the trunk on one side, he had made a
space in which he could thrust the whole of his tall slender self.

To protect his face and hands from the scratchy foliage, and also to
render himself inconspicuous, he wore a tight-fitting robe of dark brown
muslin, which concealed even his face and arms, though eyeholes allowed
him to see where he was going.

In a word, the boy himself almost constituted the trunk of the tree, and
by walking slowly, it looked as if the tree itself was moving along
without assistance.

The tree was gaily hung with real Christmas trinkets and decorations, and
lighted with candles.

The idea was wonderfully clever, and though it had been hard work to
arrange the boughs to conceal him entirely, Roger had accomplished it,
and the gay decorations hid all defects.

The judges awarded the prize to Roger, who calmly remarked to Patty,
afterward, "I told you I'd get it, didn't I?"

"Yes," said Patty, "and so then of course I knew you would."

It was a rather tired party that went back to the Fairfields' house at
the close of the evening.

Nan and Mr. Fairfield issued strict orders that everybody must go to bed
at once, as there were two more strenuous days ahead, and they needed all
the rest they could get.

But next morning they reappeared, quite ready for fresh exertions, and
Patty declared that for her part she'd like to be a gypsy all the year
round.

"Well I never want to be a Christmas tree again," said Roger, "in spite
of my precautions, I'm all scratched up!"

"Never mind," said his sister consolingly, "you took the prize, and
that's glory enough to make up for lots of scratches."

The second and third days of the Fair were much like the first, except
that the crowds of visitors continually increased.

The fame of the entertainment spread rapidly, and people came, even from
distant parts of Long Island, to attend the festivities.

But at last it was all over, and the Fairfield verandah was crowded with
young people, apparently of all nations, who were congratulating each
other on the wonderful success.

"Of course," said Patty, "the greatest thing was that we had such perfect
weather. If it had rained, the whole thing would have been spoiled."

"But it didn't rain," said Nan, "and everything went off all right, and
they must have made bushels of money."

"Well, it was lovely," said Patty with a little sigh, "and I enjoyed
every minute of it, but I don't want to engage in another one right away.
I think I shall go to bed and sleep for a week!"

"I wish I were a bear," said Kenneth, "they can go to sleep and sleep all
winter."

"You'd make a good bear," said Patty, in an aside to him, "because you
can be so cross."

But the merry smile that accompanied her words robbed them of any
unpleasant intent, and Kenneth smiled back in sympathy.

"Just to think," said Nan, "a week from to-day we'll all be back in the
city, and our lovely summer vacation a thing of the past."

"It has been a beautiful summer," said Patty, her thoughts flying
backward over the past season. "I've never had such a happy summer in my
life. It's been just one round of pleasure after another. Everybody has
been so good to me and the whole world seems to have connived to help me
have a good time."

"In so far as I'm part of the whole world, allow me to express my
willingness to keep right on conniving," said big Dick Phelps, in his
funny way.

"Me, too," said Kenneth, in his hearty, boyish voice.

Mr. Hepworth said nothing, but he smiled at Patty from where he sat at
the other end of the long verandah.





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