Though this slangy style of talk was not at all to Patty's liking, she saw no reason to reject the offered friendship because of it. The Van Ness sisters might prove to be interesting companions, in spite of their unconventional ways. So two vacant chairs were drawn up, and the four girls sat in a group, and very soon were chatting away like old friends.
"Do you know the English girl?" asked Doris; "she sits at your table."
"No," said Elise; "she's way down at the other end from us. But I like her looks, only she's so very English that I expect she's rather stiff and hard to get acquainted with."
"You can't say that about us, can you?" said Alicia, laughing; "I'm as easy as an old shoe, and Doris as an old slipper. But we hope you'll like us, because we do love to be liked. That English girl's name is Florrie Nash. Isn't that queer? She doesn't look a bit like a Florrie, does she? More like a Susan or a Hannah."
"Or more like a Catharine or Elizabeth, I think," said Patty. "But you never can tell people's names from what they look like."
"No," said Alicia; "now a stranger would say you looked like my name, and I looked like yours."
"That's true enough," said Elise, laughing; "your jolly ways are not at all like your grand-sounding name; and as for Patty here, it's a perfect shame to spoil her beautiful name of Patricia by such a nickname."
Two young men in long plaid ulsters with turned-up collars and plaid yachting caps came into view at the other end of the deck. They were walking with swinging strides in the direction of the group of girls.
"Now I'll show you," said Alicia in a low voice, "how we Chicago girls scrape acquaintance with young men."
As the young men drew nearer Alicia looked at them smilingly and said "Ahem" in a low but distinct voice. The young men looked at her and smiled, whereupon Doris purposely dropped a book she had been holding. The young men sprang to pick it up, Doris took it and thanked them, and then made a further remark as to the beauty of the weather. The young men replied affably, and then Alicia asked them to join their group and sit down for a chat.
"With pleasure," said one of the young men, glancing at Patty and Elise, "if we may be allowed."
Patty was surprised and shocked at the behaviour of these strange girls, and very decidedly expressed her opinion in her face. Without glancing at the young men, she turned on the Van Ness sisters a look of extreme disapproval, while Elise looked frightened at the whole proceeding.
The two horrified countenances were too much for the Van Ness girls, and they burst into peals of laughter.
"Oh, my children," cried, Alicia, "did you really think us so unconventional, even if we are from Chicago? These two boys are our cousins, Bob and Guy Van Ness, and they are travelling with us in charge of our parents. Stand up straight, infants, and be introduced. Miss Farrington and Miss Fairfield, may I present Mr. Robert Van Ness and Mr. Guy Porter Van Ness?"
The young men made most deferential bows, and, greatly appreciating the joke, Patty invited them to join their party, and offered them some of her confectionery.
"But it's a shame to sit here," observed Guy, "when there's lots of fun going on up on the forward deck. Don't you girls want to go up there and play shuffleboard?"
"I do," said Patty readily; "I've always wanted to play shuffleboard, though I've no idea whether it's played with a pack of cards or a tea set."
Guy laughed at this and promised to teach her the game at once.
So they all went up to the upper deck, which was uncovered, and where, in the sunlight, groups of young people were playing different games.
Both Patty and Elise delighted in outdoor sports, and the Van Ness girls were fond of anything athletic. During the games they all made the acquaintance of Florrie Nash, who, though of an extreme English type, proved less difficult to make friends with than they had feared.
They also met several young men, among whom Patty liked best a young Englishman of big-boyish, good-natured type, named Bert Chester, and a young Frenchman of musical tastes. The latter was a violinist, by the name of Pierre Pauvret. He seemed a trifle melancholy, Patty thought, but exceedingly refined and well-bred. He stood by her side as she leaned against the rail, looking at the water, and though evidently desirous to be entertaining, he seemed to be at a loss for something to say.
Patty felt sorry for the youth and tried various subjects without success in interesting him, until at last she chanced to refer to music. At this Mr. Pauvret's face lighted up and he became enthusiastic at once.
"Ah, the music!" he exclaimed; "it is my life, it is my soul! And you— do you yourself sing? Ah, I think yes."
"I sing a little," said Patty, smiling kindly at him, "but I have not had much training, and my voice is small."
"Ah," said the Frenchman, "I have a certainty that you sing like an angel. But we shall see—we shall see. There will be a concert on board and you will sing. Is it not so?"
"I don't know," said Patty, smiling; "I will sing with pleasure if I am asked, but it may not give my audience pleasure."
"It will be heaven for them!" declared the volatile young Frenchman, clasping his hands in apparent ecstasy.
His exaggerated manner amused Patty, for she dearly loved to study new types of people, and she began to think there was a varied assortment on board.
Suddenly several people rushed wildly to the side of the boat. They were followed by others, until it seemed as if everybody was crowding to the rail. Patty followed, of course, and found herself standing by the side of Bert Chester.
"What is it?" she exclaimed.
"A porpoise!" he replied, as if announcing an event of greatest importance.
"A porpoise!" echoed Patty, disgusted. "Such a fuss about a porpoise? Why, it's nothing but a fish!"
"My dear Miss Fairfield," said the Englishman, looking at her through his single eyeglass, "tradition demands that steamer passengers shall always make a fuss over a passing porpoise. To be sure it's only a fish, but the fuss is because of tradition, not because of the fish."
Patty had always thought that a single eyeglass betokened a brainless fop, but this stalwart young Englishman wore his monocle so naturally, and, moreover, so securely, that it seemed a component part of him. And, too, his speech was that of a quick-witted, humorous mind, and Patty began to think she must readjust her opinion.
"Is it an English national trait," she said, "to be so in thrall to tradition?"
"I'm sorry to say it is," young Chester responded, somewhat gravely. "In the matter of the porpoise it is of no great importance; but there are other matters, do you see, where Englishmen are so hampered by tradition that individual volition is often lost."
This was more serious talk than Patty was accustomed to, but somehow she felt rather flattered to be addressed thus, and she tried to answer in kind.
"But," she said, "if the tradition is the result of the wisdom of past ages, may it not be of more value than individual volition?"
"By Jove!" exclaimed Mr. Chester, "you have a clever little head on your young shoulders, to take that point so adroitly. But let us defer this somewhat serious discussion until another time and see if it is a porpoise or something else that it attracting the curious crowd to the other side of the ship."
As they followed the hurrying people across the deck, Mr. Chester went on: "After you have crossed the ocean a few more times you will discover that there are only two things which make the people rush frantically and in hordes to the rail. The one that isn't a porpoise is a passing steamer."
Sure enough, the object of interest this time was a distant steamer, which was clearly visible on the horizon. It was sharply outlined against the blue sky, and the sunlight gave it its true value of colour, while the dark smoke that poured from its smokestack floated back horizontally like a broad ribbon. But owing to the distance there was no effect of motion, and even the smoke as well as the vessel seemed to be stationary.
"That isn't a real steamer," said Patty whimsically; "it's a chromo- lithograph. I've often seen them in the offices of steamship companies. This one isn't framed, as they usually are, but it's only a chromo all the same. There's no mistaking its bright colouring and that badly painted smoke."
Young Chester laughed. "You Americans are so clever," he said. "Now an English girl would never have known that that was only a painted steamer. But as you say, you can tell by the smoke. That's pretty badly done."
Patty took a decided liking to this jesting Englishman, and thought him much more entertaining than the melancholy French musician.
She discovered that very evening that Mr. Chester possessed a fine voice, and when after dinner a dozen or more young people gathered round the chairs of the Farrington party, they all sang songs until Mrs. Farrington declared she never wanted to attend a more delightful concert.
Mr. Pauvret brought his violin, and the Van Ness boys produced a banjo and a madolin. Everybody seemed to sing at least fairly well, and some of the voices were really fine. Patty's sweet soprano received many compliments, as also did Elise's full, clear contralto. The girls were accustomed to singing together, and Mr. Pauvret proved himself a true musician by his sympathetic accompaniments.
Everybody knew the popular songs of the day, and choruses and glees were sung with that enthusiasm which is always noticeable on the water.
The merry party adjourned to the dining-room for a light supper after their vocal exercises.
Patty was sorry that her friend and tablemate, the old Ma'amselle, had not been visible since that first dinner. Upon inquiry she learned that the old lady had fallen a victim to the effects of the rolling sea.
"But she'll soon be around again," said the captain in his bluff, cheery way; "Ma'amselle Labesse has crossed with me many times, and though she usually succumbs for two or three days, she is a good sailor after that. She is passionately fond of music, too, and when she is about again you young people must make the old ship ring for her."
This they readily promised to do, and then they wound up the evening by a vigorous rendition of the "Marseillaise," followed by "The Star Spangled Banner" and "God Save the King."
It was all a delightful experience for Patty, who dearly loved lights and music and flowers and people and gay goings on, and she felt that she was indeed a fortunate girl to have all these pleasures come to her.
DAYS AT SEA
The time on shipboard passed all too quickly.
Each day was crammed full of various amusements and occupations, and Patty and Elise enjoyed it all thoroughly.
Although the majority of passengers were French, yet they nearly all spoke English, and there were a number of Americans and English people, who proved to be pleasant and companionable.
The young people from Chicago seemed to wear well, and as she grew to know them better Patty liked them very much. The Van Ness girls, though breezy in their manner, were warm-hearted and good-natured, and their boy cousins were always ready for anything, and proved themselves capable of good comradeship.
The English girl, Florrie Nash, Patty could not quite understand. Florrie seemed to be willing to be friends, but there was a coldness and reserve about her nature that Patty could not seem to penetrate.
As she expressed it to Elise, "Florrie never seems herself quite certain whether she likes us or we like her."
"Oh, it's only her way," said Elise; "she doesn't know how to chum, that's all."
But Patty was not satisfied with this, and determined to investigate the matter.
"Come for a walk," she said, tucking her arm through Florrie's one morning. "Let's walk around the deck fifty times all by ourselves. Don't you want to?"
"Yes, if you like;" and Florrie walked along by Patty's side, apparently willing enough, but without enthusiasm.
"Why do you put it that way?" asked Patty, smiling; "don't you like to go yourself?"
"Yes, of course I do; but I always say that when people ask me to do anything. It's habit, I suppose. All English people say it."
"I suppose it is habit," said Patty; "but it seems to me you'd have a whole lot better time if you felt more interest in things, or rather, if you expressed more interest. Now look at the Van Ness girls; they're just bubbling over with enthusiasm."
"The Van Ness girls are savages," remarked Florrie, with an air of decision.
"Indeed they're not!" cried Patty, who was always ready to stand up for her friends. "The trouble with you, Florrie, is that you're narrow- minded; you think that unless people have your ways and your manners they are no good at all."
"Not quite that," returned Florrie, laughing. "Of course, we English have our prejudices, and other people call us narrow; but I think we shall always be so."
"I suppose you will," said Patty; "but anyway you would have more fun if you enjoyed yourself more."
"It's good of you, Patty, to care whether I enjoy myself or not."
Florrie's tone was so sincere and humble as she said this that Patty began to realise there was a good deal of character under Florrie's indifferent manner.
"Of course I care. I have grown to like you, Florrie, in these few days, and I want to be good friends with you, if you'll let me."
"If you like," said Florrie again, and Patty perceived that the phrase was merely a habit and did not mean the indifference it expressed.
"And I want you to visit me," went on Florrie. "I'm travelling now to Paris with my aunt, who took me to the States for a trip. From Paris I shall soon go back to my country home in England, and I wish you would visit me there—you and Elise both. Oh, Patty, you have no idea how beautiful England is in the springtime. The may blooms thickly along the lanes, till they're masses of pink fragrance; and the sky is the most wonderful blue, and the birds sing, and it is like nothing else in all the world."
The tears came into Florrie's eyes as she spoke, and Patty was amazed that this cold-blooded girl should be so moved at the mere thought of the spring landscape.
"I should dearly love to visit you, Florrie, but I can't promise, of course, for I'm with the Farringtons, and must do as they say."
"Yes, of course; but I do hope you can come. You would love our country place, Patty; it is so large, and so old, and so beautiful."
Florrie said this with no effect of boasting, but merely with a sincere appreciation of her beautiful home. Then as she went on to tell of the animals and pets there, and of the park and woods of the estate, Patty found that the girl could indeed be enthusiastic when she chose.
This made Patty like her all the better, for it proved she had enthusiasm enough when a subject appealed to her.
But when they were joined by the crowd of gay young people begging them to come and play games, Florrie seemed to shut up into herself again, and assumed once more her air of cold indifference.
But if Florrie was lacking in enthusiasm, it was not so with another of Patty's friends.
Ma'amselle Labesse, who had recovered from her indisposition, had taken a violent fancy to Patty and would have liked to monopolise her completely.
Patty was kind to the old lady and did much to entertain her, but she was not willing to give up all her time to her. The old ma'amselle greatly delighted to carry Patty off to her stateroom, there to talk to her or listen to her read aloud. Except for her maid, ma'amselle was alone, and Patty felt sorry for her and was glad to cheer her up. Not that she needed cheering exactly, for she was of a merry and volatile disposition, except when she gave way to exhibitions of temper, which were not infrequent.
One morning she called Patty to her room, and surprised the girl by giving her a present of a handsome and valuable old necklace. It was of curiously wrought gold, and though Patty admired it extremely, she hesitated about accepting such a gift from a comparative stranger."
"But yes," said ma'amselle, "it is for you. I wish to give it to you. I have taken such a fancy to you, you could scarce believe. And I adore to decorate you thus." She clasped the necklace about Patty's throat, with an air that plainly said she would be much offended if the gift were refused. So Patty decided to keep it, at least until she could get an opportunity to ask Mrs. Farrington's advice on the subject.
When she did ask her, Mrs. Farrington told her to keep it by all means. She said she had no doubt the old ma'amselle enjoyed making the gift far more than Patty was pleased to receive it, so Patty kept the trinket, which was really a very fine specimen of the goldsmith's art.
"And, my dear," the old lady went on, the day that she gave Patty the necklace, "you must and shall come to visit me in my chateau. My home is the most beautifull—an old chateau at St. Germain, not far from Paris, and you can come, but often, and stay with me for the long time."
Patty thanked her, but would not promise, as she had made up her mind to accept no invitations that could not include the Farringtons.
But Ma'amselle Labesse did include the Farringtons, and invited the whole party to visit her in the winter.
Mrs. Farrington gave no definite answer, but said she would see about it, and perhaps they would run out for the week-end.
For the first five or six days of their journey the weather was perfect and the ocean calm and level. But one morning they awoke to find it raining, and later the rain developed into a real storm. The wind blew furiously and the boat pitched about in a manner really alarming. The old ma'amselle took to her stateroom, and Mrs. Farrington also was unable to leave hers. But the girls were pleased rather than otherwise. Patty and Elise proved themselves thoroughly good sailors, and were among the few who appeared at the table at luncheon.
After the meal, Bob and Guy Van Ness came up to the girls and asked them if they cared to brave the storm sufficiently to go out on deck. Elise, though not timid, declared that she could see all she wished through the windows; but Patty, always ready for a new experience, expressed her desire to go.
She put on her own little rain-coat and tied a veil over her small cap, but when she presented herself as ready the boys laughed at her preparations.
"That fancy little mackintosh is no good," said Bob; "but you wait a minute, Patty; we'll fix you."
Bob disappeared, and soon returned, bringing from somewhere an oilskin coat and cap of a brilliant yellow color. These enveloped Patty completely, and as the boys were arrayed in similar fashion, they looked like three members of a life-saving corps, or, as Patty said, like the man in the advertisement of cod-liver oil.
Although the yellow oilskins were by no means beautiful, yet Patty's rosy face peeping out from under the queer-shaped, ear-flapped cap was a pretty picture.
Laughing with glee, they stepped out on the deck into the storm. The stepping out was no easy matter, for the wind was blowing a hurricane and the spray was dashing across the decks, while the rain seemed to come from all directions at once.
With the two big boys on either side of her, Patty felt no fear, and as they walked forward toward the bow of the ship she felt well repaid for coming out by the grandeur of the sight. It was impossible to distinguish sea from sky, as both were of the same leaden grey, and the torrents of rain added to the obscurity. The ocean was in a turmoil, frothing and fuming, and the waves rolled over and broke against the ship with angry vehemence. Patty, though not frightened, was awed at the majesty of the elements, and did not in the least mind the rain and spray in her face as she gazed at the scene.
"You're good wood!" exclaimed Guy; "not many girls could stand up against a storm like this."
Patty shook the wet curls out of her eyes as she smiled up at him. "I love it!" she exclaimed, but she could hardly make her voice heard for the roar of the sea and the storm.
Up and down the decks they walked, or rather tried to walk, now battling against the wind, and now being swept along in front of it, until almost exhausted, Patty dropped down on a coil of rope in a comparatively sheltered corner. The boys sat down beside her, and they watched the angry ocean. At times the great waves seemed as if they would engulf the pitching ship, but after each wave the steamer righted herself proudly and prepared to careen again on the next.
After a time Patty declared she'd had enough of it, and also expressed her opinion that oilskins were not such a positive protection against the wet as they were reputed to be.
So indoors they went, warm and glowing from their vigorous exercise, and their appetites sharpened by their rough battle with the weather.
Every day there seemed to be something new to do.
"I've been told," said Patty, "that life on an ocean steamer is monotonous, but I can't find any monotony. We've done something different every day, haven't we, Elise?"
"Yes; and next will be the concert, and that will be best of all. What are you going to sing, Patty?"
"I don't know. I don't want to sing at all, but your mother said I'd better sing once, because they all insist on it so, and I do like to be accommodating."
"I should think you did, Patty; you're never anything but accommodating."
"Oh, pooh! It's no trouble to me to sing. I'd just as lief do it as not; only it seems foolish for me to sing when there are so many older people with better voices to do it."
"Well, sing some simple little ballad, and I don't believe but what the people will like it just as much as the arias and things sung by the more pretentious singers."
So Patty followed Elise's advice, and when the night of the concert came her name was on the programme for one song.
And, as Elise had thought, it pleased the audience quite as well as some of the more elaborate efforts.
Patty wore one of her pretty new dresses, a simple little frock of white chiffon cloth, with touches here and there of light blue velvet. Her only ornament was the necklace that Ma'amselle Labesse had given her, and in her curly golden hair was a single white rose.
Very sweet she looked as she stood on the platform to sing her little song. She had chosen "My Ain Countree" as being likely to please a popular audience, and also not difficult to sing.
Mr. Pauvret accompanied her on his violin, and so effective was his accompaniment and so sweet pretty Patty's singing of the old song, that their performance proved to be the most attractive number on the programme. So prolonged was the applause and so persistent the cry of "Encore!" that Patty felt she really must respond with another song.
So she sang Stevenson's little verses, "In Winter I Get Up at Night," which have been set to such delightful music. Again Mr. Pauvret's accompaniment added to the charm of the song, and Patty returned to her place in the audience, quite embarrassed at the praises heaped upon her.
Elise sang, too, in a quartette of four girls. They had practised together considerably, and sang really well. There were many other musical numbers, interspersed with monologues and recitations, and the programme wound up with a series of tableaux.
Patty was in her element in these, and had helped to arrange them. She took part in some of them herself, and in others she arranged the groups to form effective pictures. An immense gilt picture frame, stretched across with gauze, was at the front of the stage. This was held up on either side by two able-bodied seamen of the ship, in their sailor costume. All of the tableaux were shown as pictures in this frame, and they called forth enthusiastic and appreciative applause.
Old Ma'amselle Labesse had been induced to appear in one of the tableaux, and as she possessed strikingly handsome costumes, she wore one of the prettiest, and made an easily recognisable representation of a painting by Nattier. Altogether the concert was a great success and everybody had a good time. It was expected that they would see land the next day, and so the concert partook of the nature of a farewell function. Everybody was shaking hands and saying good-bye to everybody else, and after many good wishes and good-nights our two tired and sleepy girls went to their stateroom.
The next morning the girls spent in packing and getting ready to go ashore. "I'm sure I don't know where all these things came from," said Patty; "but I know I have just about twice as many earthly possessions as I had when I came aboard. I hate to pitch them out of the porthole, but I simply can't get them all in my trunks."
"Nor I," said Elise. "People have been giving us things ever since we started, and we must be greedies, because we haven't given anything away, and now what shall we do with them?"
"Let's give a lot away," said Patty. "We've pretty much read all we want to of this mountain of light literature. Let's give it all to the stewardess; and what do you think, Elise, about giving Yankee Doodle to the captain? He is a blessed old bear, and I hate to look forward to life without him, but I don't see how we can cart him to Paris, unless we carry him in our arms, and that's where I draw the line."
"So do I," declared Elise. "We might ask Lisette to carry him, but I know she wouldn't want to do it. Yes, let's give him to the captain as a souvenir of our trip."
This plan was carried out, and the captain was really delighted at the comical gift. He said he should always keep it as a remembrance of the donors, and he hoped that when they returned to America they would again travel on his ship.
The steamer stopped at Plymouth and then went straight on to Havre. Everybody was in a great state of excitement; passengers were getting off and mails getting on at Plymouth, and plenty of wonderful and interesting things to look at as they sailed along the channel.
Patty felt truly sorry to say good-bye to many of the friends she had made on board. But from others she would not be parted until they reached Paris. The Van Ness party, the old Ma'amselle, Florrie Nash, Bert Chester, and Mr. Pauvret were all going in the special train to Paris, as the Farringtons were.
Patty thought this meant they could all travel together, but to her surprise she found the French trains very different from those on American railroads.
The special boat-train which they were to take left directly from the steamer's dock and was an express direct to Paris without stop, landing them there in less than four hours.
The Farrington party had a whole compartment in this train, and as a compartment only holds six people, they comfortably filled it, using the extra seat for hand luggage and so forth.
Patty thought the appointments more luxurious than our own parlour-cars, for the seats were beautifully upholstered in a pearl-grey material, and everything was lavishly decorated, after the French fashion. All of these compartments opened on to a corridor which ran along the side of the car, and Patty soon discovered that thus she could visit her neighbours in the other compartments.
Both Patty and Elise were greatly excited and interested in watching the French landscapes, and trying to make out the names of the towns through which they rapidly flew. But with the exception of some of the larger towns they could not read the names, and so gave that up for the more interesting occupation of watching the villages and hamlets as they succeeded each other.
Bert Chester came in to visit them, and expressed a hope that he might see them in Paris.
He was to remain there only a week, and then he was to join some of his friends, some young Englishmen, and go for a short motor tour in southern France.
Mr. Farrington said that he expected to take his party motoring along the same route, but did not expect to go at present.
Young Chester was sorry that they could not go together, but said that perhaps when Mr. Farrington was ready he and his friends would come over again for another spin.
Bert Chester was a son of a wealthy English squire, and though distinctly British in his ways, was broad-minded enough to like Americans, and moreover was a young man of innate politeness and affable manners. The elder Farringtons liked him extremely, and cordially invited him to come to see them while in Paris.
"We sha'n't have a house of our own just at first," explained Elise; "we're going to a hotel while father and mother look around and select a house for the winter."
"I'm glad," said Patty, "to go to a hotel first. I've never stayed at a big hotel, and I'm sure it will be delightful for a time."
"You'll like the one you're going to," said Chester. "The Ritz is really the old palace of the Castiglione, an ancient French family, and though it is, of course, somewhat rebuilt, much of the original remains, especially the beautiful old garden with its wonderful trees and fountain. I'll give you a day or two to 'find yourselves,' and then I shall come around to call, and shall expect you to be glad to see me."
"We'll be very glad to see you," said Patty cordially, for she had a sincere liking for the young Englishman.
Then Patty and Elise went with Bert to look in for a little chat with the Van Ness party. Although Patty liked the Van Ness girls in a way, she was rather relieved to find that they were not going to the same hotel.
Patty had an intuitive sense of the fitness of things, and she couldn't help thinking that the Van Ness sisters, though good-hearted and good- natured, were of a type apt to be a trifle too conspicuous in a large hotel. The Farringtons were quiet-mannered folk, and Patty had often noticed and admired the dignified yet pleasant manner which Mr. Farrington invariably showed to officials or to servants.
He never gave orders in a loud voice or dictatorial manner, yet his orders were always carried out obediently and willingly, and everybody showed him the greatest respect and deference. Mr. Van Ness on the other hand was imperious and ostentatious. He was prone to be critical, and often became annoyed at trifles. Patty was rapidly learning that the true character can be very easily discovered among one's travelling companions. There is something about the friction of travel that brings out all that is worst and best in one's disposition.
And so when Patty found that the Van Nesses were going to a different hotel from themselves she was really glad, though she hoped to see them occasionally during their stay in Paris.
The train reached the Gare du Nord at about six o'clock, and when our party went into the rather dimly lighted station Patty thought she had never before seen such pandemonium. Everybody seemed to be in trouble of some sort. Some were running hither and thither, exclaiming and expostulating, but apparently to no avail. Others sat hopelessly and helplessly on their own luggage, seeming to despair of ever getting any further.
The luggage room was an immense place, stone-floored and rather damp. There were several separate counters where passengers were supposed to attend to the checking of their baggage; but though there were plenty of officials and porters about, none of them seemed anxious or even willing to wait upon anybody. Patty saw many people appeal to one man after another in a vain hope of getting their wants attended to. But it seemed to be almost impossible. To those who could not speak French the situation was hopeless indeed. Patty watched one poor lady, who seemed to be travelling alone, and who continually inquired of the stolid and unobliging porters, "Do you speak English?" and invariably received the reply, "Non, madame; non, madame." The lonely little lady seemed to be in despair, and Patty wished she could help her, but she did not know herself what made the difficulty. At last she discovered that it was necessary to get a customs inspector and a porter and a railway official all together in one place and at one time. This done, the rest was easy, at least to the traveller who knew sufficient French to make his wants known.
This Mr. Farrington managed to accomplish after some delay. The official ceremonies then being soon over, and our travellers having repeatedly declared that they were transporting nothing eatable, they were allowed to drive away in cabs. The cabs in Paris are of the low, open pattern, like a victoria, and they looked very strange and informal to Patty, who had never seen any but closed cabs or hansoms. Mr. and Mrs. Farrington rode in the first cab, which was followed by another, containing Patty and Elise, with Lisette, who sat on the small, folding front seat.
Patty held her breath with excitement when she realised that she was in Paris at last.
They drove through the streets, which were not very well lighted, gazing eagerly at the strange sights everywhere about them.
Their hotel was in the Place Vendome, and the drive there from the station was not through the beautiful boulevards, but through some narrow and not particularly clean streets.
But when they rolled into the Rue de la Paix and drove toward the Place Vendome, the girls began to think that Paris was beautiful, after all.
It was rather more than dusk, but not dark, and the great square, with its circumference of colonnaded buildings, and the wonderful column in the centre, was exceedingly impressive, and filled Patty's soul with a rapturous awe.
"Oh, Elise," she cried, grasping her companion's hand; "I never supposed Paris would be like this! I thought it would be bright and gay and festive; but instead of that, it's grand and solemn and awe-inspiring."
"So it is, here," said Elise; "but there is plenty of brightness and gaiety in some parts of the city, I expect. Of course, this is historic ground, and I suppose it was pretty much as it is now in the days when they were building French history. That's Napoleon on top of that statue, though you can't recognise him from here. You know about the column, of course. It's been overthrown and rebuilt three or four times."
"Yes, I remember studying about it in French history. It was torn down at the time of the Commune, and later re-erected from the fragments. But you know when you study those dry facts they don't seem to mean anything; but to be here, really in Paris, looking at that wonderful column, in this dusky light, and the stars just beginning to show—oh, Elise, it's more like fairy tales than history!"
"I love it, too," said Elise; "and I'm so glad to be here with you. Oh, Patty, we are going to have a beautiful time!"
"Well, I rather guess we are!" said Patty, with true Yankee enthusiasm.
Then their cabs drove in at the arched entrance of the Hotel Ritz, and a most important looking personage in blue uniform assisted them to alight. Other attendants in unostentatious livery swung open the glass doors and our party entered. The proprietor, who advanced to meet them, was a courtly, polite Frenchman, in correct evening dress, whose suave and deferential manner was truly typical of his race. He seemed to take a personal interest in his newly arrived guests, and himself conducted them to their apartments.
Patty followed with the rest, feeling almost like pinching herself to see if she were awake or in an enchanted dream. The hotel was particularly beautiful, and the furnishings unlike any she had ever seen before. Carpets, furniture, and decorations were all in the palest tints of lovely colours. Doors and windows and many of the partitioned walls were of glass, in ornate gilt frames, through which one could see fascinating rooms beyond. A few choice pictures hung on the walls, and here and there were French cabinets of curios and rare laces.
The elevator seemed to be entirely of glass, and was furnished with dainty white upholstery and gilded woodwork. Bouquets of fresh flowers were here and there on small tables in the rooms and halls.
The suite of rooms allotted to the Farringtons looked out upon the Place Vendome, and Patty flew to the window to gaze again upon the beautiful scene.
The rooms were daintily furnished with the same exquisite taste that prevailed throughout the house. Lace curtains framed the deep-seated windows, an Empire clock and candelabra graced the carved mantel, and the furniture was rich and abundant.
"I don't think," said Patty, "that I ever saw a more beautiful palace. And I'm so glad I'm here I don't know what to do! Just think of it, Elise, we'll live here in this lovely room for a fortnight anyway!"
"It is lovely," said Elise; "but I expect we'll get tired of hotel life and be glad to have a home of our own."
"Very likely," said Patty, with a little sigh of content; "but I shall be perfectly happy wherever we are."
"I believe you will, Patty," said Elise, laughing; "you love this beautiful place, but if it hadn't been half as pretty, you would have made just as much fuss over it."
"I know it," said Patty, rather apologetically; "but I can't help it, Elise. I seem to be made that way. When I like anything, you know, I enjoy it just as much as I possibly can, and that's all I can do, anyway."
The room which the two girls were to share was a large double-bedded apartment, with dressing rooms and bath adjoining. It was perfect in every detail of comfort and luxury as well as beauty, but when Lisette came in to assist the girls in dressing for dinner she found them both hanging out of the front windows gazing at the Vendome Column.
However, they expressed themselves as quite ready to prepare for dinner, and after doning pretty light costumes, they joined Mr. and Mrs. Farrington, and went down to the dining-room.
The dining-room proper of the hotel was an indoor apartment, but all through the summer the guests were accustomed to dine under the open sky, at small tables in the garden.
Owing to an unusually late season, it was still warm enough to dine outside, and when Patty saw the scene in the garden she thought Paris was fairyland indeed. Though called a garden, it was really a stone- paved court, but all round its edge on two sides were large old trees with gnarled and twisted trunks and thick foliage of glossy green. Under the trees were flower-beds full of blossoming plants, and in the branches of the trees themselves were hung vari-coloured globes of electric lights about the size of an orange. The effect of these brilliant spheres in the dark trees was as beautiful as it was unusual, and the scene was further made bright by arches and festoons of brilliant coloured lights, which crossed and twined above their heads in every direction. At the end of the garden was an immense fountain surrounded by statues, and playing many jets of water, which flashed and sparkled in the light.
Around two sides of the garden ran the verandas of the hotel, and the diners could sit on these verandas or out in the open, as they preferred.
The gay scene was completed by the throngs of people; the French women in their dainty costumes, the French men with their correct garb and demeanour, as well as a good sprinkling of strangers from other countries.
So interested was Patty in looking at it all that she declared she didn't want a thing to eat. But when the choice selections of French cookery were placed before her, she changed her mind and did full justice to the repast.
After dinner they sat for a short time in the drawing-room, and then Mr. Farrington declared they must all go to rest, as he had planned a busy day for them on the morrow.
They rose next morning to find a perfect autumn day awaiting them. To Patty's surprise, dainty breakfast trays were brought to their bedsides.
"It is the custom of the country," Elise explained; "nobody ever goes downstairs to breakfast in Paris."
"It's a custom that suits me well enough—at least, what there is of it. I'm free to confess that this rather smallish cup of chocolate and two not very large rolls and a tiny bit of butter do not seem to me all that a healthy appetite can desire."
"I'm afraid you're an incorrigible American," said Elise, laughing. "Now, this little spread is ample for me, but I dare say you can have more if you want it."
"No indeed," said Patty; "when I'm in Paris, I'll do as the Romans do, even if I starve."
But Patty didn't starve, for it was not long before Mr. Farrington sent word that the girls were to come downstairs as soon as possible, equipped for a drive.
But before the drive he insisted that they should eat a good and substantial breakfast, as he wanted them to put in a long morning sightseeing.
Mrs. Farrington had concluded not to go with them, as she was resting after her journey, and, moreover, the sights were not such a novelty to her as they would be to the young people.
So when they were all ready to start they found an automobile at the door, waiting for them.
"This is the most comfortable way to see Paris," said Mr. Farrington as they got in. "I have taken this car for a week on trial, and if it proves satisfactory we can keep it all winter."
A chauffeur drove the car, and Mr. Farrington sat in the tonneau between the two girls, that he might point out to them the places of interest.
If Patty had thought Paris beautiful by night she thought it even more so in the clear, bright sunshine. There is no sunshine in the world quite so clearly bright as that of Paris, or at least it seems so.
"I want you to get the principal locations fixed in your minds," said Mr. Farrington, "so now, as you see, we are starting from the Place Vendome, going straight down the short Rue Castiglione to the Rue de Rivoli. Now, we have reached the corner, and we turn into the Rue de Rivoli. This is a beautiful street, crowded with shops on one side, and on the other side at this point you see the garden of the Tuileries. We turn to the right and go directly to the Place de la Concorde. As we reach it you may see to the right, up through the Rue Royale, the Church of the Madeleine. That is one of the most beautiful of the Paris churches, and you shall visit it, of course, but not now. To-day I want you to get merely a birdseye view, a sort of general idea of locations. But here we are in the Place de la Concorde. The Obelisk, which you see in the centre, was brought from Egypt many years ago. It is very like our own Obelisk in Central Park, and also Cleopatra's needle in London. From here we turn into one of the most beautiful avenues in the world, the Champs Elysees. This avenue extends from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. Viewing it as we do now, rolling along this perfect road in a motor car—or automobile, as we must learn to call it while in France—you are taking, no doubt, one of the most perfect rides in the world. The full name of the arch is Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile. This means a star, and it is called thus because it is a centre from which radiate no less than a dozen beautiful avenues. We will drive slowly round the arch, that you may see its general beauty, but we will not now stop to examine it closely."
"It is so different," exclaimed Patty, "to see these things in reality, or to study about them in history. I've seen pictures of this arch lots of times, but it never seemed before as if it were a real thing. Isn't it beautiful! I think I could spend a whole day looking at it."
Patty's love of the beautiful was intuitive and all embracing. She knew little of architecture or sculpture technically, but the sublime majesty and imposing grandeur of the noble arch impressed her, as it does all true beauty lovers.
"The continuation of the Champs Elysees beyond the arch," went on Mr. Farrington, "changes its name and becomes the Avenue de la Grand Armee. But we will not continue along that way at present, but take the next avenue to the left, which is the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne."
"Why, I thought that was a forest," said Patty; "is it a street?"
"It's an avenue," replied Mr. Farrington, "and it leads to the forest, or rather park, which is called the Bois de Boulogne. We can take only a short drive into the park, but you may see a few of the beautiful chateaus, which are the homes of the wealthy or aristocratic French people. You will not meet many equipages at this hour in the morning, but late in the afternoon there is a continuous stream of fine turnouts of all sorts. There are many, many places of interest in the Bois, but as we have all winter in which to visit them, we will content ourselves to-day with a brief visit."
"It begins to look," said Patty, "as if even a whole winter would be all too short to see the beauties and glories of this wonderful Paris."
"Indeed, it would be too short to see everything of interest, but I can assure you, my child, that with an automobile and some idea of systematic sightseeing we can do a great deal even in one winter."
Mr. Farrington pointed out various prominent buildings as they passed them, and then, turning round, went back to the city. A swift ride about Paris showed to the girls such interesting places as the Louvre, and the Hotel de Ville, the Place de la Bastile, the Hotel des Invalides, the Pantheon, and the Church of Notre-Dame.
At the last named Mr. Farrington proposed that they get out and make a short visit to the cathedral.
They did so, and both Patty and Elise were much impressed by the noble beauty of the interior.
As they passed around the church Patty noticed a little Frenchwoman, who seemed to be selling candles. The candles were of an unusual type-long, slender and very tapering. It occurred to Patty that she would like to take some home to Nan, as they would be most effective in an odd brass candlestick which was one of Nan's chief treasures. The candlestick had seven branches, and as her French seemed to desert her at the critical moment, Patty indicated her wants by holding up seven fingers, pointing to the candles and then taking out her purse.
The Frenchwoman seemed to understand, and began counting out seven candles. Patty looked anxiously after Mr. Farrington and Elise, who had gone on ahead, not noticing that Patty had stopped. But she knew she could soon catch up to them if only she could get her candles and manage to pay for them in the confusing and unfamiliar French money. As she was counting out the change, greatly to her surprise, the Frenchwoman lighted her seven candles, one after the other. Patty exclaimed in dismay, wondering if she did it to test their wicks, or what could be the reason. But even as she watched her the woman placed the candles, all seven of them, in a sort of a branched candlestick on the wall above her head.
"Non! Non!" cried Patty; "they are MINE, MINE! comprenez-vous? Mine!"
"Oui, oui, oui," exclaimed the Frenchwoman, nodding her head complacently, and taking Patty's money, which she put in a box on the table before her.
"But I want them!" cried Patty. "I want to take them away with me!"
Still the woman smiled amiably, and Patty realised she was not understanding a word. But all Patty's French, and it was not very much at best, seemed to fly out of her head and she could not even think how to say, "I wish to take them away with me." So seeing nothing else to do, she cut the Gordian knot of her dilemma by reaching up and taking the candles from the sockets. She blew them out, and holding them in a bundle, said pleasantly, "Papier?" having thought of a French word at last that expressed what she wished.
The woman looked at her in amazement, as if she had done something wrong, and poor Patty was thoroughly perplexed.
"Why, I bought them," she exclaimed, forgetting the Frenchwoman could not understand her, "and I paid you for them, and now they're mine, And I'm going to take them away. If you won't give me any paper to wrap them in, I'll carry them as they are. Eon jour!"
But by this time Mr. Farrington and Elise had returned in search of their missing comrade, and Patty appealed to Mr. Farrington, explaining that she had purchased the candles.
"Why, yes, they're yours, child, and certainly you may take them away if you like. But it is not customary; usually people buy the candles to burn at the shrine of their patron saint, or in memory of some friend, and, of course, the woman supposed that was your intention."
"Well, I'm glad to understand it," said Patty, "and I wish you'd please explain it to her, for I certainly do want to keep the candles, and I couldn't make her understand."
So Mr. Farrington explained the state of the case in French that the woman could understand, and all was well, and Patty walked off in triumph with her candles.
Then they went back past the Louvre, and leaving the automobile again, they went for a short walk in the garden of the Tuileries. This also fascinated Patty, and she thought it beautiful beyond all words.
After that Mr. Farrington declared that the girls must be exhausted, and he took them to a delightful cafe, where he refreshed them with ices and small cakes.
"Now," he said, "I don't suppose the Eternal Feminine in your nature will be satisfied without doing a little shopping. The large shops—the Bon Marche and the Magasin du Louvre—are very like our own department stores, and if you choose you may go there at some other time with Mrs. Farrington or Lisette, for I confess my ignorance of feminine furbelows. But I will take you to one or two interesting shops on the Rue de Rivoli, and then if we have time to a few in the Avenue de l'Opera."
Their first stop was at a picture shop, and Patty nearly went wild over the beautiful photographs and water colours. She wanted to purchase several, but Mr. Farrington advised her to wait until later, when she should perhaps be better able to judge what she really wanted.
"For you see," he said, "after you have been to the Louvre and other great galleries, and have made favourites, as you will, among the pictures there, you will then be able to collect your photographs more intelligently."
Patty was quite ready to abide by this advice, and she and Elise enjoyed looking over the pictures and anticipating future purchases.
But though the shops along the Rue de Rivoli were attractive, they were not nearly so splendid as those on the Avenue de l'Opera. Indeed, Mr. Farrington almost regretted having brought the girls there, for they quite forgot all else in their delight in looking at the beautiful wares. They seemed content just to walk along the avenue looking in at the shop windows.
"I don't want to buy anything yet," declared Patty. "Later on I expect to get souvenirs for all of the people at home, and I have any amount of orders to execute for Marian."
"Won't it be fun to do our shopping here?" exclaimed Elise. "I never saw such lovely things, and truly, Patty, the prices marked on them are quite cheap. Much more reasonable than in New York, I think."
"So do I. And oh, Elise, just look at the lovely things in this window! See that lovely pen-wiper, and that dear paper-cutter! Aren't they unusual?"
"Yes," exclaimed Elise, equally rapturous; "I don't wonder, Patty, that people like to shop in Paris. It is truly fascinating. But just wait until we get mother out here with us instead of father. She won't fidget around as if she wanted us to go home before we've fairly started!"
Elise looked reproachfully at her father, who was undeniably fidgeting.
"I'm glad you appreciate the fact," he said, "that I am impatient to get away from these shop windows. Never again will I introduce two young girls into the Parisian shopping district. I've learned my lesson; I'll take you sightseeing, but Mrs. Farrington must take you shopping."
Patty laughed good-naturedly, and expressed her willingness to return at once to the hotel.
AN EXCURSION TO VERSAILLES
One evening, as our party sat in the drawing-room of the hotel, after dinner, some callers' cards were brought to them. The guests proved to be Bert Chester and his three friends, of whom he had told Patty before. The four young men were about to start on a motor tour, and were spending a few days in Paris first.
They were all big stalwart young Englishmen, and when Bert introduced Paul and Philip Marchbanks and Arthur Oram, Patty thought she had never seen more pleasant-looking boys.
"We're jolly glad to be allowed to come to see you," said Phil Marchbanks, addressing Mrs. Farrington, but including them all in his conversation; "we know almost nobody in Paris, and we're so glad to see some friendly faces."
"We may as well own up," said his brother Paul, "that we're just a bit homesick. We're going to have a fine time, of course, after we get started, but it takes a few days to get used to it."
It amused Patty to think of these great, big boys being homesick, but she rather liked their frank admission of it, and she began to ask them questions about their automobile.
The boys had no chauffeur with them, and Arthur Oram drove the car, with occasional assistance from the others. Of course, the boys were enthusiastic regarding their car, and young Oram particularly fell into discussions with Mr. Farrington as to the respective merits of various makes.
"We've done up Paris pretty well," said Bert Chester; "we've only been arrested for speeding once; but that's not surprising, for they let you go about as fast as you like here, and with their marvellously fine roads, it's more like skating than anything else."
"But you only arrived here when we did," said Elise; "how can you have done up Paris so soon?"
"Well, you see," said Bert, "we're not going to write a book about it, so we didn't have to take it all in. We've seen the outside of the Louvre, and the inside of Napoleon's tomb; we've been to the top of the Eiffel tower, and the bottom of the Catacombs; so we flatter ourselves that we've done up the length and breadth and height and depths,—at least to our own satisfaction."
"It's a great mistake," said Phil Marchbanks, "to overdo this sightseeing business. A little goes a great way with me, and if I bolt a whole lot of sights all at once, I find I can't digest them, and I have a sort of attack of tourist's indigestion, which is a thing I hate."
"So do I," agreed Patty, "and I think you do quite right not to attempt too much in a short time. We are taking the winter for it, and Mr. Farrington is going to arrange it all for us, so that I know we'll never have too much or too little. How much longer are you staying here?"
"Only a few days," replied Bert Chester, "and that brings me to our special errand. We thought perhaps—that is, we hoped that may be you might, all of you, agree to go with us to-morrow on a sort of a picnic excursion to Versailles. We thought, do you see, that we could take our car, and you could take yours, and we'd start in the morning and make a whole day of it."
"Gorgeous!" exclaimed Patty, clapping her hands; "I do think that would be delightful, I'd love to go."
"Me too," chimed in Elise; "mother, do say yes, won't you? You know you're just as anxious to go there as we are, because you spoke of it only yesterday."
"Yes, indeed," said Mrs. Farrington heartily; "I quite approve of the plan, and if your father has no objection, we can make a charming picnic of it."
Mr. Farrington was quite as interested in the project as the others, and they immediately began to arrange the details of the expedition. Bert Chester had a road map in his pocket, which showed exactly the routes they could take, but the decision of these things was left to Mr. Farrington and Arthur Oram, who put their heads together over the complicated-looking charts and decided upon their way.
"Do you know," said Paul Marchbanks, "you're the first American girls I have ever known socially? I've seen tourists in railway stations or restaurants, but I never talked to any Americans before."
"For goodness' sake!" exclaimed Patty, "have they kept you walled up in a dungeon tower all your life, or what?"
"Not exactly that; but we English fellows who go to school and then to college, and meantime live in our country homes, with an occasional run up to London, have almost no opportunity to meet anybody outside of our own people. And I haven't jogged about as much as a good many fellows. This is the first time I've been to Paris."
"Then that explains your homesickness," said Patty, smiling kindly at the big boy, whose manner was so frank and ingenuous.
"Yes," he said; "I suppose I do miss the family, for they ARE a jolly lot. Oh, I say, won't you people all come down to our place and see us? You're going to England, of course, before you return to the States, aren't you ?"
"I don't know," said Elise, smiling; "our plans are uncertain. But if we accept all the delightful invitations we're continually receiving, I don't know when we ever shall get back to New York."
The next day proved to be a most perfect one for an excursion of any sort. They started early, for they wanted to make a long, full day of it, and return in time for dinner.
The two automobiles were at the door by nine o'clock, and the party was soon embarked. As Mr. Farrington did not drive his own car, he went in the other car, sitting in front with Arthur Orara. In the tonneau of this car were Patty and Bert Chester. So in the other car rode Mrs. Farrington and Elise and the two Marchbanks. This arrangement seemed highly satisfactory to all concerned, and the procession of two cars started off gaily. Away they sped at a rapid speed along the Champs Elysees, through the Arch and away toward Versailles. The fresh, crisp morning air, the clear blue sky, and the bright sunlight, added to the exhilaration of the swift motion, endowed them all with the most buoyant spirits, and Patty felt sure she had never looked forward to a merrier, happier day.
She chatted with Bert Chester, and asked him many questions about the trip on which he was starting.
"I don't know just where we are going," he said. "I leave all that to Oram. The rest of us don't care, and Oram loves to spend hours hunting up reasons why we should go to this small village that is picturesque, or that tiny hamlet that is historic. I'm sure the queer little French towns will all look alike to me, and I'm not awfully keen about such things anyhow. I go for the out-door life, and the swift motion, and the fresh air and all that sort of thing."
"I love that part of it, too," said Patty, "but also I like seeing the funny little towns with their narrow streets and squealing dogs. I think I have never been through a French village that wasn't just spilling over with squealing dogs."
"That's because you always go through them in an automobile. If you were on a walking tour now, you'd find the dogs all asleep. But the paramount idea in a French dog's brain is that he was made for the purpose of waking up and barking at motor cars."
"Well, they're most faithful to what they consider their duty, then," said Patty, laughing, for even as she spoke they were whizzing through a straggling, insignificant little village, and dogs of all sizes and colours seemed to spring up suddenly from nowhere at all, and act as if about to devour the car and its occupants.
But notwithstanding the dogs, the villages were exceedingly picturesque, and Patty loved to drive through them slowly, that she might see glimpses of the life of the people. And it was almost always necessary to go slowly, for the streets were so narrow, and the sidewalks a mere shelf, so that pedestrians often walked in the road. This made it difficult to drive rapidly, and, moreover, many of the streets were steep and hilly.
"It never seems to matter," observed Patty, "whether you're going out of Paris or coming in; it's always uphill, and never down. I think that after you've climbed a hill, they whisk it around the other way, so that you're obliged to climb it again on your return."
"Of course they do," agreed Bert; "you can see by the expression of the people that they're chuckling at us now, and they'll chuckle again when we pass this way to-night, still climbing."
Neither of the cars in which our party travelled were good hill- climbers, although they could go fast enough on the level. But nobody cared, and notwithstanding some delays, the ground was rapidly covered.
"There's one town I want to go through," said Patty, "but I'm not sure it's in our route. It's called Noisy-le-Roi. Of course, I know that, really, Noisy is not pronounced in the English fashion, but I like to think that it is, and I call it so myself."
"There's no harm in that; I suppose a free-born American citizen has a right to pronounce French any way she chooses, and I like that way myself. Noisy-le-Roi sounds like an abode of the Mad Monarch, and you expect to see the king and all his courtiers and subjects dancing madly around or playing hilarious games."
"Yes, a sort of general racket, with everybody waving garlands and carrying wreaths, and flags floating and streamers streaming—-"
"Yes, and cannon booming, and salutes being fired, and rockets and fireworks going off like mad."
"Yes, just that! but now I almost hope we won't pass through it, for fear it shouldn't quite come up to our notion of it."
"If we do come to it, I'll tell you in time, and you can shut your eyes and pretend you're asleep while we go through."
But the town in question was not on their route after all, and soon they came flying in to the town of Versailles. Of course, they made for the Chateau at once, and alighted from the cars just outside the great wall.
Patty, being unaccustomed to historic sites, was deeply impressed as she walked up the old steps and found herself on an immense paved court that seemed to be fairly flooded with the brightest sunlight she had ever seen. As a rule, Mr. Farrington did not enjoy the services of a guide, but for the benefit of the young people in his charge, he engaged one to describe to them the sights they were to see.
The whole royal courtyard and the great Equestrian Statue of Louis XIV. seemed very wonderful to Patty, and she could scarcely realise that the great French monarch himself had often stood where she was now standing.
"I never seemed to think of Louis XIV.," she said, "as a man. He seems to me always like a set of furniture, or a wall decoration, or at most a costume."
"Now you'ye hit it," said Paul; "Louis XIV. was, at most, a costume; and a right-down handsome costume, too. I wish we fellows could dress like that nowadays."
"I wish so, too," said Elise; "it's a heap more picturesque than the clothes men wear at the present day."
"I begin to feel," said Patty, "that I wish I had studied my French history harder. How many kings lived here after Louis XIV.?"
"Two," replied Mr. Farrington, "and when, Patty, at one o'clock on the sixth of October, 1789, the line of carriages drove Louis XVI. and his family away from here to Paris, the Chateau was left vacant and has never since been occupied."
"In October," said Patty, "and probably just such a blue and gold day as this! Oh, how they must have felt!"
"I wouldn't weep over it now, Patty," said the matter-of-fact Elise; "they've been gone so long, and so many people have wept for them, that I think it wasted emotion."
"I believe it would be," said Patty, smiling, "as far as they're concerned; but I can't help feeling sorry for them, only I could never weep before, because I never realised what it was they were leaving."
The party went on into the Chateau, and visited rooms and apartments one after the other. It was necessary to do this quickly if they were to do it at all, and, as Mr. Farrington said, a hasty tour of the palace would give them an idea of it as a whole, and sometime he would bring the girls again to enjoy the details more at leisure.
Patty was discovering that she was susceptible to what Elise chose to call wasted emotion, and she found herself again on the verge of tears when they entered the Chapel. Though she did not know enough of architecture to survey intelligently the somewhat pompous apartment, she was delightfully impressed by the rich adornments and the wonderful sculptures, bronzes and paintings.
Rather rapidly they passed through the various SALONS of the museum, pausing here and there, as one or another of the party wished to examine something in particular. The State Rooms and Royal Apartments were most interesting, but Patty concluded that she liked best of all the Gallery of Battles. The splendid pictures of war enthralled her, and she would have been glad had the rest of the party left her to spend the entire day alone in the great gallery.
But this, of course, they had no wish to do, and with a last lingering glance at the picture of Napoleon at the battle of Jena, she reluctantly allowed herself to be led away.
Napoleon was one of Patty's heroes, and she was eagerly interested in all of the many relics and souvenirs of the great man.
Especially was she interested in his bedroom, and greatly admired the gorgeous furnishings and quaint, old-fashioned French bedstead.
Having scurried through the palace and museum, Mr. Farrington declared that he could do no more sightseeing until he had eaten some sustaining luncheon.
So again they climbed into the automobiles and were whisked away to a hotel in the town.
Here they were provided with a most satisfying meal, which was partaken of amid much merry conversation and laughter.
The afternoon was devoted to the gardens and the Trianons.
Elise was enraptured with the garden, but Patty, while she admired them very much, thought them too stiff and formal for her taste. Laid out, as they are, according to the laws of geometrical symmetry, it seemed to Patty that grace and beauty were sacrificed to squares and straight lines.
But none the less was she interested in the wonderful landscape, and amazed that any grass could be so green as that of the marvelous green carpet. The multitude of statues and fountains, the walks and terraces, and the exquisite colours of the autumn trees, made a picture that Patty never forgot.
The Trianons presented new delights, and Patty fancied herself transported back to the days of Marie Antoinette and her elaborately planned pleasures.
A place of especial interest was the carriage house, where are exhibited the Royal State carriages.
As they were about to enter, Phil Marchbanks, who was ahead, turned round with a look of comical dismay on his face.
"We can't go in," he said; "we can't fulfil their requirements!"
"What do you mean?" said Patty.
"Why here's a sign that says 'wet umbrellas must be left in the cloak room.' You see, it's imperative,—and as we have no wet umbrellas to leave in the cloak room, whatever shall we do?"
"Isn't it awful!" said Patty. "Of course, we can't go in if we don't fulfil their laws. But it's a foolish law, and better broken than kept, so I propose we march on in spite of it."
So they marched on and spent one of their pleasantest half hours admiring the royal coaches.
The Coronation Carriage of Charles the X. pleased Patty most, especially as it had been restored by Napoleon and bore the magic initial N. on its regalia.
Mr. Farrington slyly volunteered the information that it stood for Napoleon the Third, but Patty declared that she didn't care, as any Napoleon was good enough for her.
Then the various sights of the Trianons claimed their attention, and they visited the farm and the dairy, and the Temple of Love, and the Swiss Cottage, and the Presbytery, and the Music Pavilion, and the Mill, until they were all mixed up, and Patty declared that her mind was nothing but a kaleidoscope full of broken bits of gay scenes.
Then the party went to the Grotto of Apollo, and sat down there for a short time to rest before returning home.
"This is the first time," said Patty, "that it has seemed like a picnic, but this is a real picnic place,—though a much more grand one than I ever picnicked in before."
"You can probably make up your mind," said Bert, "that it's about the grandest picnic place there is; and speaking of picnics, I'd like to invite all this party to dine with me on our way home."
"Where is your dining-room?" asked Mrs. Farrington.
"I'll show you," said Bert eagerly, "if you'll only go with me. It isn't quite time to start yet, but it soon will be, and I'll take you to an awfully jolly place and not a bit out of our way, either."
Mrs. Farrington agreed to go, and the rest eagerly accepted the invitation, and after resting a little longer, the party leisurely prepared to start.
At Bert's direction they spun along the Bois de Boulogne until they reached the Pavilion d'Armenonville, one of those fairyland out-of-door restaurants which abound in and near Paris.
As it was rather chilly to sit outside, they occupied a table in a glass-protected court, and Bert proved himself a most satisfactory host.
"We've had an awfully jolly day," he observed, "at least I have, and I hope the rest of you put in a good time. It's a satisfaction to feel that we've done up Versailles, but I may as well confess that I didn't go for that purpose so much as to spend a pleasant day with my friends."
Patty declared that she had enjoyed the society, not only of the friends who went with her, but the companionship of the invisible ones, whose presence seemed to haunt every nook and cranny of the palace and park.
As Patty looked about at their gaily decorated dining place, and looked out at the brilliantly lighted scene outside, where the vari-coloured electric lights hung in shining festoons, she came to the conclusion that Paris was a gay and bright place after all, though when she had entered it that first night, less than a week ago, she had thought it rather dark and oppressive,
"It is dark," said Phil, as Patty expressed her thoughts; "to be sure, a place like this is illuminated, but the streets are not half lighted, and I think it's a shame."
"London streets at night aren't much better as to light," said Bert, "but I say, you fellows, you just ought to see the streets in New York at night. Whew! they're so bright they just dazzle you, don't they, Patty?"
"Broadway does, but the other streets aren't so awfully light."
"Well, they're a lot lighter than they are over here. But Paris is the worst of all. Why, I'm scared to be out after nightfall."
"If that's the case," said Mrs. Farrington, laughing, "we'd better be starting now; and at any rate, it's high time my young charges were at home. I hadn't expected Patty and Elise to indulge in quite such grown- up gaieties as dining out here, but I hadn't the heart to refuse for them your kind invitation."
Bert expressed his gratitude that Mrs. Farrington had made an exception in his favour, and then the whole party started homeward.
When she reached there, Patty was so tired she could scarcely talk over the pleasures of the day with Elise, and she tumbled into bed without so much as a look at her beloved Vendome Column.
But the next day found the two girls entirely rested and quite ready for more jaunting about.
But Mrs. Farrington declared that she could do no sightseeing that day, as the somewhat fatiguing trip to Versailles made her quite contented to rest quietly for a time.
So Patty employed her morning happily enough in writing letters home and in arranging her post-card album.
"I'm so glad," she said to Elise, "that Clementine gave me this great big album, for I see already it is none too large. I've taken out all the New York views and laid them aside. I shall probably give them to somebody, as there is no sense in carrying them home again. And I'm filling the book with Paris views. Isn't it fortunate they invented post-cards, for unmounted photographs do curl up so, and I hate those little books of views."
"Indeed, it's fine, Patty, and you're arranging them beautifully. I can't do that sort of thing at all; I'm as clumsy at it as a hippopotamus. But I'd love to have a book like yours to take home."
"I'll give you this one," said Patty quickly, and she truly meant it, for she was generous by nature, and, too, she was glad to give Elise something that she really wanted.
"I wouldn't take it! you needn't think I'm a pig if I AM a hippopotamus!"
"Well, I'll tell you what I will do, Elise. The first time we go shopping we'll get a big album exactly like this, and then we'll always get duplicate post-cards,—we have so far, anyway,—and I'll fix both the books."
"Oh, Patty, that will be lovely! you do it so neatly and daintily; and I always tear the corners and smudge the cards and every old thing. I wish we could go and buy the book this very afternoon."
"We can't; your mother won't go; she's too tired, and she'd never let us bob about Paris alone. And your father hates to shop, so he wouldn't take us."
"I know it, Patty, but perhaps mother would let us go with Lisette. Anyhow, I'm going to ask her."
"Why, yes," said Mrs. Farrington, when the project was laid before her; "I see no reason why you shouldn't go out and do a little shopping in charge of Lisette. She is a native French girl herself, she knows Paris thoroughly, and she's most reliable and trustworthy. But you must promise to do only what she allows you to do, and go only where she advises. In this expedition she must direct, not you."
The girls willingly promised, saying that they only wanted to buy the album and a few little things.
"Very well, then," said Mrs. Farrington; "you may go out for the afternoon. I'm glad to have you out in the sunshine, and you'll also enjoy looking at the pretty things in the shops."
So the girls arrayed themselves in their quiet pretty street costumes, and with Lisette in her tidy black gown, they started out.
They walked at first along the Rue de Rivoli, fascinated with the lovely trinkets in the shop windows. Unlike Mr. Farrington, Lisette did not care how long her young charges tarried, nor was she averse to looking at the pretty things herself.
"It's a funny thing," said Elise, as they came out of a shop, "that the things in a window are always so much prettier than the things inside the shop."
"That's Paris all over," said Patty; "I think the French not only put the best foot forward, but the foot they hold back is usually not very presentable."
"Yes, I believe that's true; and they always seem to make the best of everything, and that's why they're so happy and light-hearted. But here we are at a stationer's. Let's buy the album here."
The stationer's proved to be a most distracting place. They bought the album, and then they discovered a counter piled with post-cards, in which they were soon deeply absorbed.
"But you mustn't get so many, Elise," cried Patty, as she looked at the great pile Elise had laid aside to buy. "It's no fun at all to get them all at once and fill the book. Then it's all over. The fun is in collecting them slowly, a few at a time."
"But I want all these, Patty, so why not take them now?"
"No, you don't, either. Now look here, Elise, I'm making your book for you, so you take my advice in this matter, and you'll afterward admit that I'm right."
"You're always right, Patty," said Elise, smiling lovingly at her friend; "that's the worst of you! But I'll do as you say this time, only don't let it occur again."
Patty laughed and allowed Elise to select cards illustrating the places she had already seen, persuading her to leave the others until some future time.
Then they looked round the shop further, and discovered many attractive little souvenirs to take to friends at home.
"I think," said Patty, "I'll just buy some of these things right now. For surely I could never find anything for Frank and Uncle Charlie better than these queer little desk things. Aren't they unusual, Elise? Are they rococo?"
"Patty," said Elise, in a stage whisper, "I hate to own up to it, but really, I never did know what rococo meant! Isn't it something like cloisonne, or is it ormolu?"
Patty laughed. "To be honest, Elise, I don't exactly know myself, but I don't think you've struck it very closely. However, I'm going to buy this inkstand; I don't care if it's made of gingerbread!"
"And here's a bronze Napoleon; didn't Marian want that?"
"Oh, yes, indeed she did! I'm so glad you discovered him. Isn't he a dear little man? Just about three inches high; I believe the real emperor wasn't much more than that. Isn't he on a funny little flat pedestal?"
"It's a seal," explained the shopkeeper kindly.
"A seal!" echoed Patty blankly; "why no it isn't! a seal, indeed! why it isn't a bit like a seal; you might just as well call it a Teddy Bear! It's a man!"
Elise was giggling. "He doesn't mean that kind of a seal, Patty," she said; "he means a seal to seal wax with."
"Oh," said Patty, giggling, too; "why, so much the better. I beg your pardon, I'm sure, and I'm glad it's a seal. I can have Marian's monogram cut on it, and she can seal her letters by just letting Napoleon jump on them."
She left the order for the monogram, and the affable shopkeeper promised to send the finished seal home the next day. He seemed greatly interested in his two young customers, and had it not been for Lisette's sharp eye he would have urged them to buy even more of his wares.
But the canny young French girl had no notion of letting her charges be imposed upon, and she glared haughtily at the shopkeeper when he seemed too officious.
As they were about to leave the shop, some young people entered, and to the surprise of all, they proved to be the Van Ness girls and their cousins.
The four young people were out by themselves, and though quite capable of finding their way about alone, Lisette's French notions were a trifle shocked at the unchaperoned crowd.
But Patty and Elise were so glad to see their friends again that they gave little thought to conventions, and fell to chattering with all their might.
"Why haven't you been to see us?" asked Alicia; "you had our address."
"I know," said Elise, "but we've been so busy ever since we've been here that there hasn't seemed to be time for anything. But we're glad to see you now, and isn't it jolly that we chanced to meet here?"
"Yes, indeed, because we're going on to-morrow,—on our travels, I mean, and we wouldn't have had a chance to see you again. But now that we have met, let's put in a jolly afternoon together. Where are you going?"
"Nowhere in particular; we're just walking around Paris."
"That's exactly our destination; so let's go nowhere in particular together."
This plan seemed to please everybody except Lisette, who was a little troubled to have her young ladies going around with these Chicago people, of whom she did not quite approve.
But Patty only laughed at the anxious expression on the French girl's face. She knew well what was passing in her mind, and she said to her quietly: "It's all right, Lisette, they're our American friends, and I assure you Mrs. Farrington won't mind a bit, since you are with us. You're dragon enough to chaperon the whole State of Illinois."
It's doubtful if Lisette knew what the State of Illinois was, but she was devoted to Patty, and waved her scruples in deference to Patty's wishes, although she kept a stern watch on the big Van Ness boys.
But Bob and Guy behaved most decorously, and two more polite or well- mannered young men could not have been found among the native Parisians themselves.
Leaving the shop, they continued down the Rue de Rivoli till they reached the Louvre.
Doris proposed their going in, and as Patty was most anxious to do so, and Lisette saw no objection to visiting the great museum, they all entered.
It was Patty's first glimpse of the great picture gallery, and she began to wish she was not accompanied by the chattering crowd, that she might wander about wherever her fancy directed. But she remembered she would have ample opportunity for this all winter, so she willingly gave up her own desire to please the Van Ness girls.
They cared little for pictures, but were really good historical students, and they wanted to visit the rooms which contained curios and relics of famous people.
So the whole crowd followed the lead of Doris and Alicia, who had visited the Louvre before, and Patty found herself learning a great deal from the experienced way in which the girls discussed the exhibits. She found, too, that historical relics were more interesting than she had supposed, and she almost sighed as she thought of the many things she wanted to see and study during the winter.
"I hope you'll be here when we come back," Guy Van Ness said to her, as they stood together, looking at some old miniatures.
"I hope so, too," said Patty. "When are you coming?"
"I don't know exactly; it depends on uncle's plans; but probably about January."
"Oh, yes, we shall surely be here then, and probably living in a home of our own. Of course, I mean a temporary home, but not a hotel. I hope you will come to see us."
"Indeed I will. I wish we could have seen more of you this week, but uncle has rushed us about sightseeing so fast that there was no time for social calling."
"We saw Bert Chester and his crowd," said Patty; and then she told about the day at Versailles.
"What a lark!" exclaimed Guy; "I wish I had been along. But you must go somewhere with us when we're here in January, won't you?"
"I'd like to," said Patty, "but I can't promise. It all depends on the Farringtons. I'm their guest, so of course I'm under their orders."
"Well, it won't be my fault if we don't have some fun when we come back here," declared Guy, "and I shall do all I can to bring it about."
When they left the museum it was getting late in the afternoon, and Lisette decreed that her young ladies must go home at once. The Van Ness crowd raised great objection to this, but Lisette was obdurate, and calling a cab, she ushered the girls in, and then getting in herself, gave the order for home.
Patty couldn't help laughing at the serious way in which Lisette took care of them, but Mrs. Farrington told her it was quite right, and she would have been displeased had Lisette done otherwise.
"You don't quite understand, my dear," she said kindly, "the difference between the conventions of Paris and our own New York. It may seem foolish to you to be so carefully guarded, but I can't quite explain it to you so you would understand it, and therefore I'm going to ask you to obey my wishes without question, and more than that, when Lisette is temporarily in charge of you to obey her."
"Indeed I will, dear Mrs. Farrington," said Patty heartily; "and truly I wasn't rebelling the leastest mite. I'm more than ready to obey you, or Lisette, either, only it struck me funny to be put into a cab, like babies in a baby-carriage by their nursemaid."
"You're a good girl, Patty, and I don't foresee a bit of trouble in taking care of you. To-morrow I shall feel better, and I'll go shopping with you girls myself, and perhaps we may have time to look in at a few other places."
So Patty danced away, quite content to take things as they came, and sure that all the coming days were to be filled with all sorts of novelties and pleasures.
Their purchases had been sent home, reaching there before they did themselves, and Patty immediately fell to work on the albums, placing the cards in the little slits which were cut in the leaves to receive them.
The days flew by like Bandersnatches. Patty herself could not realise what became of them. She wrote frequently to the people at home and tried to include all of her young friends in America in her correspondence, but it seemed to be impossible, and so finally she took to writing long letters to Marian, and asking her to send the letters round to the other girls after she had read them.
Mr. and Mrs. Farrington had begun their search for a furnished house which they might rent for the winter. When they went to look at various ones suggested to them by their agent, they did not take the girls with them, as Mrs. Farrington said it was too serious a matter in which to include two chattering children.
So Patty and Elise were left pretty much to their own devices while the elder Farringtons went on these important errands.
But one bright morning when Mr. and Mrs. Farrington were preparing to start off in the automobile for the day, Elise begged that she and Patty might be allowed to go off on an excursion of some sort.
"Indeed, I think you ought," said Mr. Farrington kindly, "and I'll tell you what I think would be a first-rate plan. How would you like to go with Lisette to the Chateau of Chantilly for a day's outing? You could go on one of those 'personally conducted tours,' in a big motor van, with lots of other tourists."
"I think it will be lots of fun," cried Elise; "I've always wanted to climb up on one of those moving mountains and go wabbling away."
"I, too," said Patty; "just for once I think that sort of thing would be great fun."
"Then you must hustle to get ready," said Mr. Farrington, "for the cavalcade sets off at ten o'clock, and I don't believe they'd wait, even for two nice little girls like you. So run along and get your bonnets, and be sure not to forget to remember to feed the carp."
"What is a carp?" asked Patty, as she and Elise ran away to dress.
"Fish, I think," said Elise, "but we'll probably find out when we get there."
The girls were soon ready, and with Lisette they walked out in the bright sunshine and along the Rue de la Paix until they came to the corner where the personally conducted tourists were to start from.
Mr. Farrington had telephoned for tickets, so all they had to do was to clamber into their seats. This was done by mounting a stepladder placed at the side of the big vehicle. The seats of the van were graduated in height, so that the back ones were as good as the front, and, indeed, a full view of what was passing could be commanded from any position.
They had to wait until the tourists had all arrived, and then they started off at a good speed toward the country.
"I feel as if I were riding in one of the old royal state carriages," said Patty, "although there isn't the slightest resemblance in the vehicle, or the means of locomotion."
"No," said Elise, laughing; "nor in the people. I don't believe these tourists bear much resemblance to the ladies and gentlemen who rode in the Royal carriages. But I think it's more fun than our own car, because we sit up so high and can see everything so well."
"And hear, too," said Patty, as they listened to the man in the front seat, who had turned around and was announcing through a megaphone the names of the places as they passed them.
"He seems to know his lesson pretty well," whispered Patty, "but his French pronunciation is even worse than mine."
"Your pronunciation isn't so bad, Patty, but you haven't any vocabulary to speak of."
"To speak with, you mean. But never you mind, miss; as soon as your respected parents decide upon a house, and we get settled in it, I'm going to study French like anything, and French history, too. I used to hate these things, but times have changed since Patty came to Paris!"
"I'm glad you're so energetic, but I don't feel much like studying; I'd rather drift around and have fun as we are doing."
"We'll have time enough for both, and you want to take some painting lessons, don't you?"
"Yes; but seeing all the pictures I've seen since I've been here discourages me. I used to think I was quite an artist, but I see now that if I ever do anything really worth while, I'll have to begin all over again and go into a drudgery drawing class."
"It won't be drudgery; you love it so, and you'll make rapid progress if you're as desperately in earnest as all that. Do you think your mother will decide to take that house they're going to look at to-day?"
"Yes, I think so; her mind is pretty well made up already. It must be a lovely house, judging from what she says about it."
It was not very far to Chantilly, and when they reached there the girls were almost sorry that the pleasant ride was ended.
The megaphone gentleman informed his personally conducted crowd that they were to alight and eat luncheon before proceeding to the Chateau.
The hotel where they were to lunch was a quaint, old-fashioned house, built around three sides of a garden. It was called the Hotel du Grand- Conde, and Patty said, "I suppose we shall see and hear of nothing but the Condes for the rest of the day. I believe the whole interest of Chantilly centres in that Conde crowd."
"You seem to know a lot about it," said Elise banteringly.
"I've been reading up," confessed Patty, "and besides, La Grande Mademoiselle has always been one of my favourite characters in French history. She was a wonderful woman, and though not of the Condes, she is mixed up in their history."
"She is an unknown quantity to me," said Elise, "but I'm willing to learn, so tell me all you know, Patty; it won't take long."