"You'll get no instruction from me after that unflattering speech," retorted Patty, and then luncheon was announced, and the girls sat down at the table reserved for them.
They were much interested in their fellow-tourists, and as most of them were socially inclined, Patty and Elise were included in the general conversation. As the tourists seemed to have a great deal of general information, and as they were quite ready to impart it, the girls picked up quite a store of knowledge, more or less accurate.
Then they left the hotel, with its quaint old gateway and carefully kept gravel walks, and proceeded on their way to the Chateau.
It was necessary at the entrance to cross a bridge over the moat, and here Patty discovered the reason for feeding the carp.
To begin with, the carp themselves were exceedingly old, and had been swimming around in the same moat for hundreds of years.
"I'm not quite sure of the number of years," volunteered a Boston tourist, to any one who might listen, "but it's either hundreds or thousands. Anyway, the carp are dreadfully old."
"They don't look it," declared Patty, as she leaned over the railing of the bridge and watched the frisky fish darting around like mad.
An old woman sat nearby with a bushel basket full of French rolls, which she was willing to sell to the tourists at prices which increased as her stock of rolls decreased. Patty and Elise bought a quantity of the rolls and began the fun of throwing them to the fishes. It turned out to be even more fun than they had anticipated, for the moment a roll reached the water, scores of carp would make a mad dash for it, and a pitched battle ensued for possession of the bread. Sometimes the roll was torn to pieces in the fight, and sometimes a fortunate carp would secure it and swim away, followed by all the others in angry pursuit. Another roll flung in would, of course, divert their attention, and the squabble would begin all over again. The fun was largely in watching the individual peculiarities of the fishes. One sulky old thing disdained to fight, but if given a roll all to himself he would swim away with it, and sticking his head in a small corner of the stone parapet, would eat it greedily, while he kept off the other fishes by madly lashing his tail. Another brisk little fish didn't seem to care to eat the rolls at all, but mischievously tried to prevent the others from eating them, and played a general game of interference.
The actions of the fish were so ridiculous, and the sport so novel and exciting, that the girls would not leave until they had bought up all the rolls the old woman had and thrown them down to the comical carp.
The personal conductor of the tour affably waited until the moat performance was over, and then conducted his party inside the park to the Chateau.
Though only a toy affair compared with Versailles, Chantilly is one of the most beautiful of the historic Chateaus of France, and is in many respects a gem. The great paved Court of Honor shone white in the sunlight, and the noble statues and sculptures bore witness to the art and taste displayed in its construction.
MAKING A HOME.
The party was marshalled up on the peristyle, where they received, collectively, instructions in a loud voice to leave their sticks and umbrellas before entering the Chateau.
Patty and Elise agreed that the beauty and dignity of the situation was somewhat impaired by the personally conducted effect, but they thought that was compensated for by the funny side of it all. The tourists followed the conductor like a flock of sheep, one or another occasionally straying away for a time, and nearly all of them making notes in little note-books. Indeed, some of them were so intent on their notes that they merely gave glances at the beautiful things exhibited, and spent most of their time scribbling in their books and referring to their Baedekers.
The interior of the Chateau was delightful. As Patty had surmised, it was largely devoted to pictures and relics of the Conde family. She was greatly pleased to discover a gallery of battles which, though not large, illustrated the battles of the great prince who was called the Grand Conde. Although Patty was of a peaceful enough nature, she had a special liking for the glory and grandeur of paintings of battle scenes, and she tarried in this gallery as long as she could.
Both she and Elise adopted the Grand Conde as one of their favourites, and greatly admired the numerous portraits of him, with his handsome face and generally gorgeous effects.
In one of the halls of the Chateau post-cards were on sale, and Patty eagerly looked them over to make the selection she wanted.
But the Personal Conductor discovered that time was flying, and that if he let all of his charges delay over the post-cards, other sights must be omitted.
So he scurried them along through the various galleries and salons, pausing in the Library and the Chapel. The Chapel awed Patty, as the impressive burial places of kings always did, and especially was she interested in a Cippus, which was a receptacle for the hearts of several of the princes of Conde.
"It seems wonderful," she said to Elise, "to take out their hearts and put them all away together like that, but they had strange ways in the times of my friends, the Condes."
"I'm beginning to be very much interested in your friends, the Condes," replied Elise, "and I think, after all, I shall join your French history class this winter."
Then they proceeded to the beautiful park of Chantilly, which was laid out by the same landscape gardener who afterward designed the gardens of Versailles.
The park was enchanting, and the many buildings in it most interesting.
"There's one thing certain," said Patty, "I shall come here some day and camp out for the day in this park and wander around without being personally conducted."
"And I shall do myself the honour to accompany you," said Elise; "I'm sure I can persuade father to send us out here in the car some day and let us play around by ourselves."
All too soon the megaphone's voice called them to start on their homeward trip. Patty and Elise were among the first to take their seats in the great motor car, and as Patty was looking over her beloved post- cards, she suddenly discovered that she had no portrait of her friend, the Grand Prince.
But by good luck she saw a woman standing near, and suspended by a strap round her neck was a tray of post-cards.
Calling the woman to her, Patty made known her desire for a picture of the Grand Conde.
"Oui, oui," exclaimed the woman as she offered various portraits of other members of the Conde family.
"Non, non," cried Patty, shaking her head, vigorously, "le Grand Prince,-le Grand Conde!"
At length the woman discovered the proper card, and when Patty accepted it, and paid her for it, she burst into voluble thanks and begged her to buy more.
Remembering Elise's album, Patty bought another copy of the same picture for that, and then, thinking she would like to take one to Marian, she asked for a third copy.
This the woman did not have in stock, but anxious to please her pretty young patron, she flew over to another post-card vender, of which there seemed to be several near by, and demanded the required card from her. But a search through her stock proved unavailing, and both women, chatting volubly in French, tried to procure one from a third post-card seller.
Patty and Elise became much amused at the excitement they had created, and suddenly to their surprise one of the tourists expressed her desire also for a portrait of the Grand Conde.
Patty surmised at once that she had no particular reason for desiring it save an idea that if it was in such great demand it must be of a special value.
And then following the example of the first, several other tourists set up a clamour for the same picture, and the scene became one of great excitement. The post-card venders put their heads together, and still jabbering rapidly, produced all sorts of portraits which they endeavoured to foist upon the buyers as portraits of the Grand Prince. But the tourists were shrewd, and they knew what they wanted, though they had no idea why they wanted it.
The natural result of this situation was a rise in price of the desired picture. The original price of ten CENTIMES was doubled and then quadrupled, and finally the tourists began to bid for the picture until the affair became an auction.
Patty and Elise were convulsed with laughter at the absurdity of it all, and finally the motor man whizzed away, leaving the Frenchwomen chuckling over their marvelous sales, and carrying some excited tourists, who wondered why they had paid so much for ordinary post- cards.
Patty's recital of the affair at dinner that night greatly amused the Farringtons, and Mr. Farrington declared that the whole scene was typical of human nature.
"As you had cornered the market, Patty," he said, "why didn't you sell your Conde pictures at top prices, or else put them up at auction?"
"For the very good reason that I wanted them myself," replied Patty, "and if I had sold them, perhaps I never could get any more."
"Well, we, too, have achieved an important success to-day," went on Mr. Farrington; "we have secured a foothold in this somewhat uncertain city, and we shall soon have a roof over our heads that we can call our own, for a time, at least."
"Oh, you took the house, then," exclaimed Elise; "how jolly! and when are we going there to live?"
"As soon as it can be made habitable," said Mrs. Farrington; "they call it a furnished house, but it is not at all my idea of furnishing. It's about as well appointed as a summer cottage might be at home. The drawing-room is all right, and the dining-room is fairly good, but the bedrooms must be almost entirely refurnished. Some day, my children, you shall go shopping with me to select things for your own rooms."
This shopping expedition took place soon, and Patty, with her usual happy enthusiasm, thought it was quite as much fun as any other mode of entertainment.
Mrs. Farrington and the two girls, driven by the chauffeur, went flying around in the automobile, stopping now at one beautiful shop, and now at another, and buying lovely things.
"It seems foolish," said Mrs. Farrington, "to buy a lot of furniture for a rented house, but we must be comfortable through the winter, and then the prettiest of the things we'll take back to America with us."
The girls were allowed to make their own selections, and Patty decided that her room should be green and white, while Elise chose pink.
The girls had not yet seen the house, but Mrs. Farrington told them that two large rooms adjoining each other on the third floor were to be for their use, and though the principal articles of furniture were already in them, they might choose some pretty appointments, such as writing- desks, work-tables or book-racks.
Also, they selected some little French gilded chairs and queer-shaped ottomans, Patty thinking the while how pretty these would look when transported back to her New York home.
After about a week more of hotel life the Farringtons moved to their own home.
It was a good-sized house on the Bois de Boulogne, and stood in a small but well-laid out park or garden.
There were stone porticos on which opened long, French windows, and the high ceilings and winding staircase with broad landings gave the house an attractive, though foreign air.
Like all French houses, the decorations were elaborate, and mirrors were everywhere, and crystal chandeliers and painted panels abounded.
It was all of great interest to Patty, who dearly loved home-making, and who saw great possibilities for the unusual combination of American cosiness in a Paris house.
Mrs. Farrington was delighted when she discovered Patty's capabilities in domestic matters, and declared that she would not wish for a better assistant.
It was Patty's deft fingers that transformed stiff and formal rooms into apartments of real comfort and homelikeness. It was very often Patty's taste that selected simple decorations or ornaments which toned down the gorgeousness of the original scheme.
The two girls' own rooms were greatly successful.
Patty had bought a number of pictures and statuettes and various Parisian ornaments, which she was delighted to arrange in a room of her very own. She helped Elise with hers, too, for though Elise had good taste and a fine appreciation of the fitness of things, she had not Patty's capability of execution and facility of arrangement.
As they sat for the first time around their own family dinner table, Mr. Farrington exclaimed, "Now this is what I call comfortable! It's unpretentious, but it's way ahead of that gorgeously dressed-up hotel, which made one feel, though well taken care of, like a traveller and a wayfarer. But I expect you were sorry to leave it, eh, Patty?"
"No I wasn't," said Patty; "I liked it tremendously for a time, as it was a novel experience for me; but I'm quite as pleased as you are, Mr. Farrington, to be in a home once more."
"And the next thing to do," said Mrs. Farrington, "is to get masters for you girls."
"Shall we go to school, mother?" asked Elise.
"No, I think not. I don't like the idea of your going to a French school, and, too, I think you'd enjoy it better, to study a little at home. You needn't have a great variety of lessons. I think if you study the French language and French history, it will be enough for you in the way of school books. Then Patty ought to take singing lessons, and if Elise wants to learn to paint pictures, she will probably never get a better opportunity to do so."
This plan seemed to suit perfectly the young ladies most interested, and Mr. Farrington said he would take it upon himself to find the right masters for them.
So the family settled down into a life which was quiet compared with the first few weeks of their stay in Paris.
The masters came every morning except Saturday, and that day was always devoted to sightseeing or pleasures of some sort. Occasionally, too, a whole holiday was taken during the week, for Mr. Farrington said he had a vivid recollection of a certain proverb which discussed the result of all work and no play.
Patty declared she was never afraid of any lack of play hours in the Farrington family, and she enjoyed alike both her morning tasks and her afternoon pleasures.
Twice a week a professor came to give her singing lessons, and it was arranged that at the same hour Elise should be busy with her drawing master. Though Elise did not show promise of becoming a really great artist, her parents thought it wise to cultivate such talent as she possessed, if only for the pleasure it might give to herself and her friends.
So Elise worked away at her drawing from casts, and occasionally painted flowers in water colours, while Patty practised her scales, and learned to sing some pretty little French ballads.
Though neither of the girls was possessed of genius, they both had talent, and by application to study they found themselves rapidly improving in their arts.
As Patty had expected, she developed an intense interest in French history, and as Elise shared this taste, they learned their lessons well, and also read books of history outside of school hours quite from choice.
There were a great many Americans residing in Paris, and it was not long before Mr. and Mrs. Farrington renewed old acquaintances there, and also made new ones among the American colony.
This meant pleasant associates for the girls, and they soon became acquainted with several American families.
Indeed, the house next to their own, was occupied by an American family named Barstow, with whom the Farringtons soon made friends.
The young people of the family were Rosamond, a girl of seventeen, and her brother Martin, a few years older.
The first time they met, Elise and Patty took a decided liking to the Barstows, and Rosamond often spent the afternoon with them, while they chatted gaily over their work, or went driving with them along the beautiful Bois, or visited the galleries with them.
The weeks went happily by. Patty became quite accustomed to French ways and customs, and was becoming proficient in the language.
One of her greatest treats was the Opera. Mr. Farrington had engaged a box for the season, and the girls attended nearly every matinee performance. The first few times Patty could scarcely listen to the music for her admiration of the wonderful building, but after she became more accustomed to its glories, it did not so distract her attention from the stage. Mr. and Mrs. Farrington occasionally gave opera parties, and dinner parties, too, but the girls were not allowed to attend these. Although indulgent in many ways, Mrs. Farrington was somewhat strict about the conventions for her young people; but so gently were her rules laid down, that they never seemed harsh or stern.
On nights when dinner parties were given, the girls had their dinner in the family breakfast-room, and often were allowed to invite Rosamond, and sometimes Martin to their feasts.
Another delight to Patty was the fact that she was learning to drive a motor-car. It had always fascinated her, and she had always felt that she could do it if she only knew how. Once when she timidly expressed this wish to Mr. Farrington, he replied, "Why certainly, child, I'll be glad to teach you, and some day, who knows, you may have a car of your own."
So whenever opportunity allowed Mr. Farrington gave her lessons in the art, and often Patty would sit in front with the chauffeur and he would teach her many things about the mechanism, until she became really quite accomplished as a driver.
Of course, she was never allowed to run the car alone, nor did she wish to, but it was great fun to handle the wheel herself and feel the car obey her lightest touch. Sometimes she would grow elated at her success and put on the high speed, but always under the supervision and protecting guidance of Mr. Farrington or the affable and amiable chauffeur.
It was a great surprise to Patty when she learned that Christmas was not made so much of in Paris as with us, but that the great fete-day was New Year's Day, or, as they called it, JOUR DE L'AN.
But Patty was not baffled by French customs entirely, and decreed that the Farrington household should hold a Christmas celebration all by themselves. This they did, and the day to them was a pleasant one indeed.
But this was a minor episode compared to the fact that old Ma'amselle Labesse sent them all an urgent invitation to come to her at St. Germain to spend New Year's Day.
The girls were rejoiced at this invitation, but feared they could not accept it, as Mr. and Mrs. Farrington had an engagement in Paris for the festival.
But after much discussion of the matter, and much pleading on the part of the young people, it was arranged that Patty and Elise should go two days before the New Year Day and spend a whole week with the old Ma'amselle in her chateau. A little tactful managing on Patty's part secured an invitation also for Rosamond Barstow, and the three girls, who had become almost inseparable, started off together in great glee.
Mr. Farrington sent them out in the motor-car, in care of his chauffeur, and Patty, to her great delight and satisfaction, drove the car all the way there.
St. Germain is a beautiful town, which dates back about eight centuries, when it was a favourite summer residence of French royalty. The forest is among the most beautiful of all French woods, and as Patty drove through the roads of the deep forest it seemed like enchanted ground. They spun along the Terrasse, enjoying the view below, and after passing many beautiful villas and residences came to the old chateau of Ma'amselle Labesse.
After passing a porter's lodge at the entrance, they went on for a long distance through the park before reaching the house Then alighting at the main portal, the doors were thrown open by footmen, and the girls were ushered in.
Ma'amselle herself received them in the entrance hall. She looked quite different from the way she had appeared on board the steamer, as she was now attired in very elegant and formal robes, with her white hair arranged after the fashion of Madame de Pompadour.
She cordially welcomed the three young girls, making emphatic assertions at her delight in seeing them, but her warmest welcome was bestowed upon Patty.
"But it is herself!" she cried; "of a certainty, it is ma petite Patty. Ciel! but it is that I am glad to see you!"
Patty returned the greetings with polite warmth, and indeed she was really fond of the quaint old lady.
The girls were all amazed at the grandeur and beauty of Ma'amselle's home, and were unable to repress their admiration; but Ma'amselle was pleased rather than otherwise that they should express their pleasure.
"But surely," she said, "it is indeed the beautiful home. This hall! It is not of a smallness! And in the old days it welcomed royal guests."
The hall was indeed magnificent. It was decorated with frescoes and mural paintings by well-known French artists. It contained statues and paintings and clocks and vases that might have graced a museum. The armour of knights stood about, and valuable trophies graced the wainscoted walls.
A wide carved staircase wound spirally up from one end; and at Ma'amselle's suggestion, the girls were ushered at once to their room. French maids were sent to them to unlock their boxes and assist with their toilettes, and Patty was glad that she now knew enough French at least to make herself understood.
Rosamond Barstow was a girl who never hesitated to get what she wanted if possible, and now it suited her purpose to dismiss the French maids; in her voluble if somewhat imperfect French, she told them that the young ladies wished to be alone for a time and would ring for the maids later.
"I just HAD to talk to you girls alone for a minute," she exclaimed, "or I should have exploded. Did you EVER see such a gorgeous castle in this world? I didn't know your old Ma'amselle lived like this! How shall we ever live up to it?"
"I didn't know she lived like this, either," said Patty, laughing at Rosamond's expressions; "and I don't care whether we can live up to it or not. We'll put on our best frocks and our best manners, and that's all we can do. But, oh girls, I feel like a princess in this room!"
"Then just come and look at mine," cried Elise, who was in the next apartment.
The girls had been given rooms near each other and which, with their anterooms and dressing-rooms, filled up the whole of a large wing of the chateau.
Patty's, as she expressed it to the other girls, looked more like a very large cretonne shirtwaist box than anything else. For the walls and ceiling were covered with a chintz tapestry; the lambrequins, window curtains and door hangings were all of the same material and pattern, and the bed itself was draped and heavily curtained with the same. The bed curtains and window curtains were fastened back with huge rosettes of the chintz, and Patty remarked that it must have been brought by the acre.
The furniture was of the quaintest old French pattern, and so old- fashioned and unusual were the appointments all about, that Patty knew neither the names nor the use of many of them.
"I'd rather sleep in a "cosy-corner" than in that bed," remarked Rosamond; "I know that whole affair will tumble on your head in the night. It's perfectly gorgeous to look at, but seems to me these old things are 'most too old. If I were Ma'amselle I'd root them all out and refurnish."
"You'd be sent home if Ma'amselle heard you talk like that," admonished Patty, "and I'm not a bit afraid of that tent arrangement tumbling down. It's most picturesque, and I shall lie in it, feeling like a retired empress."
"Come, Rosamond," said Elise, "call back those comic opera maids you sent away, and let's get dressed. We mustn't keep Ma'amselle waiting, though I'd ever so much rather perch up here and talk by ourselves. But she's a dear old lady, and we must do our part as well as she does hers."
So Rosamond rang and the maids came back, wondering what strange young demoiselles they had to wait upon now.
Patty allowed herself to be dressed by the deft-fingered maid, and being ready first, stepped out on the little balcony opening from her window to wait for the others.
A beautiful view met her eye. The lawn was terraced in many slopes, and the flower-beds and shrubberies, though arranged with French precision, formed a beautiful landscape. There were fountains playing, and here and there arbours and trellises and pleasant paths.
But the girls called to her, and Patty joined them, and twining their arms about each other's waists, they walked down the broad staircase.
They were all in white, and their pretty frocks and dainty slippers made a modern note that contrasted strangely but pleasantly with the antique relics and ancient atmosphere of the chateau.
When they reached the great hall, a footman ushered them into the grand drawing-room where they were to await Ma'amselle.
She soon appeared, resplendent in her old-time grandeur, and going to greet her, the girls kissed her hand, an old custom which greatly pleased their hostess.
"But it is of a joy to see you!" she exclaimed. "Me, I am so much alone. It is not good to be alone, and yet, it is my choice. I stay in the home of my ancestors, therefore I stay alone. Voila!" she shrugged her shoulders, as if to emphasise the fact that it was more joy to live alone in the old chateau than to be anywhere else.
"But I am not always alone," she went on; "no, it is that my Henri, my nephew, comes to me at occasion. And he comes soon. Jour de l'an always brings him. He spends the day with me. He makes me a pleasure. And you shall see him, you young ladies. Ah, how he is beautiful!" The old lady clasped her hands and turned her gaze upward, and the girls were fain to believe that her nephew was indeed a wonderful specimen of humanity.
Then the dinner was announced, and leaning on the arm of an old footman, who was quite as dignified as she was herself, Ma'amselle led the way to the dining-room.
The table appointments, Patty thought, would have done justice to any of the most celebrated characters in French history, had they been there to enjoy them.
Although not exactly embarrassed, the girls were a little bit awed at splendour so unusual to them. To Rosamond it seemed distinctly humorous that three such young American girls should be honoured guests in such a regal household; to Elise it seemed extremely interesting, and the novelty and strangeness of it all impressed her more than the grandeur.
But Patty, with her usual quick ability to accept a situation, seemed to take everything for granted, and made herself quite at home. The wonderfully garbed footmen who stood behind their chairs like statues, except when they were wound up, nearly made Rosamond giggle; but to Patty, they were merely part of the performance, and once accepted as such, of course, they belonged in the picture.
This readiness to adapt herself to any circumstances was inherent in Patty's nature, and she sat there and conversed with her hostess as charmingly and naturally as if at a plainer board.
Rosamond was much impressed by what she chose to consider Patty's "nerve," and determining not to be outdone, she exerted herself to be bright and entertaining, and as Elise was always more or less of a chatterbox, the three girls provided much entertainment, and their hostess was delighted with her congenial guests.
After the rather lengthy dinner was at an end, the old Ma'amselle took the girls through various apartments, and showed them many of the treasures of the Chateau.
Then they went to the music room and Patty was persuaded to sing.
She sang several songs, and then they all sang choruses together, in some of which the old Ma'amselle joined with her thin but still sweet voice.
"And now," she said at last, "it is to tear the heart—but I must send you babies to bed. Me, I sleep so badly, but you young girls, of a surety, must have the tranquil rest. It is then 'Bon Soir,' and in the morning you are to amuse yourselves. You have but to ring for your chocolate, when you awake, and then pursue your own pleasures until noon, when I will meet you at dejeuner."
After affectionate good-nights, the girls went to their rooms, and a half hour later, wrapped in kimonos and with their long braids hanging down their backs, they were all perched on Patty's big bed—alone at last.
"But it is of a gorgeousness," exclaimed Rosamond, mimicking, but not unkindly, the old Ma'amselle's imperfect English; "me, I never have so many feetmen at home! Is it that you do, Patty?"
"But I like it all," exclaimed Patty, giggling at comical Rosamond, but standing up for her own opinions; "of course I'm not envious a mite, and I don't know even as I'd care to live in this way all the time, but it's lovely for a few days, and I'm just going to pretend I'm La Grande Mademoiselle."
"Do," cried Elise, "and I'll be Empress Josephine. Who'll you be, Rosamond?"
"Oh, I'll be Queen Elizabeth, who has come to visit you. There's nothing French about me, so there's no use pretending, but I might be an English Queen."
"Well, Josephine and Elizabeth, you'd better run to bed now," said Patty, "for I'd like the exclusive occupancy of this upholstered tennis- court myself."
Amazed to find that it was after midnight, the other girls ran laughing away, and Patty climbed in behind the chintz curtains, almost persuading herself that she was a royal Princess after all.
Next morning the Queen and the Empress came bounding in, and shook La Grande Mademoiselle till she awoke.
"This bed is the biggest," announced Queen Elizabeth, "and so we're all going to have our chocolate in here."
"Well, I like the way you monopolise my apartments!" exclaimed Patty.
"I'm glad you like it," said Rosamond; "but we'd come just the same if you didn't. Now stop your giggling, while I ring the bell, and see what happens."
A dainty French waitress answered the summons, and smilingly asked for orders.
Patty modestly asked for chocolate and rolls for them all, but the French maid volunteered the information that Ma'amselle was of the opinion that the young ladies would like an omelette, and perhaps a jar of marmalade.
"Heavenly!" exclaimed Rosamond, rolling her eyes in ecstacy, and the waitress departed on her errand.
"This is the jolliest picnic yet," declared Elise, a little later as she sat, propped up by pillows, in a corner of the big chintz tent, and devoured flaky hot rolls and apricot marmalade.
The girls were each in a corner of the great bed, which left ample room in the centre for the tray full of good things, and though perhaps an unusual place for a picnic, it was a most hilarious festivity.
AN EXPECTED GUEST
The three girls spent a delightful morning exploring the old Chateau, and its park and garden. The clear air was brisk and keen, and a few hours out of doors sent them back into the house with rosy cheeks and bright eyes.
They discovered a delightful room that they had not seen before, which was built out from one of the wings, and whose walls and ceiling were entirely of glass.
"This is something like your room at home, Elise," said Patty, as they seated themselves there.
"Not very much; my room is glass, to be sure, but it's square, and this circular apartment is quite a different matter. And did you ever see such exquisite furniture? I can quite believe myself an Empress when I sit gracefully on this gilded blue satin sofa."
"I'm glad you think you're sitting gracefully," said Rosamond, laughing at Elise, who, in her favourite position, had one foot tucked up under her.
"I don't care," said Elise. "Probably Josephine would have liked to sit on her foot, only she didn't dare."
"Her empire would have tottered if she had done such a thing as that," observed Patty, "but as it tottered anyway, she might as well have sat as she pleased."
Ma'amselle joined the young people at luncheon time, and although she called it breakfast, the repast was quite as elaborate and formal in its way as dinner had been. But the girls brought to it three healthy young appetites, that did full justice to the exquisite viands set before them.
At the table, Ma'amselle announced to the girls her plans for their entertainment.
It seemed that she expected her nephew that evening, to spend a few days, and as the next day would be the great festival of New Year's Day, she had planned a celebration of the event.
So she proposed that except for a short automobile drive that afternoon the girls should rest and keep themselves fresh for dinner-time, when she expected the arrival of her paragon of a nephew.
From her description of the young man, the girls were led to think that he must be a sort of fairy prince in disguise,—and not very much disguised, either.
So in the afternoon the three girls and Ma'amselle went for a drive in one of the great touring cars, of which Ma'amselle had several.
Patty begged to be allowed to sit in front with the chauffeur, and rather astonished that impassive factotum by asking to be allowed to drive.
He was very much disinclined to grant her request, lest it should displease the old Ma'amselle, of whom all her servants stood greatly in awe; but when Patty appealed to her hostess, and received a not very willing permission, the chauffeur allowed her to change seats with him, and really drive the car.
He was greatly surprised at Patty's skill, and became more than ever convinced that Americans were a strange race.
Their route lay past the railway station and along the beautiful terrace which skirts the forest of St. Germain on one side, and commands such a marvellous view of the valley and the Seine.
Returning home, the girls were left to their own devices until dinner- time, when they were adjured to array themselves appropriately to do homage with the wonderful Henri.
"Henri must be something out of the ordinary," declared Elise, when the girls were alone.
"Probably not," said Patty; "only Ma'amselle thinks him so."
"At any rate I'm anxious to see him," declared Elise, "for I don't know any real live French boy except that Pauvret who was on the steamer, and he was too lackadaisical for any use."
"Well, I don't apprehend M'sieu Henri will be much better," said Patty; "I don't care much about Frenchmen, anyway. What are you going to wear, girls?"
"I shall wear my red chifon," said Rosamond; "it's most becoming to me; I'm a perfect dream in it, and I shall quite cut out you other girls with our foreign prince."
"Pooh!" said Elise; "he won't look at you when he sees me in my white tulle. I'm the Frenchiest thing in that you ever saw!"
"Oh girls," cried Patty, "I'm going to wear my light blue crepe de chine. And then we'll be red, white and blue! Won't that be a graceful compliment to the French colours, as well as to our own dear flag!"
"Long may it wave!" cried Rosamond, and then following Patty's lead, the girls sang the "Star Spangled Banner" with true American heartiness and patriotism. This they followed up with the "Marseillaise," in which they were interrupted by the appearance of one of the maids in a great state of excitement.
In breathless haste, which made her French difficult for them to understand, she explained that Ma'amselle had had a telegram of dreadful import, and would the young ladies attend upon her at once.
The maid ushered the wondering girls to Ma'amselle's apartments and found her in her dressing-room, in the hands of her maid, who was assisting her in a hasty toilette.
The tears were rolling down the old lady's cheeks, and she seemed to be in a state of trembling agitation.
"Ah, mes enfants" she cried, "but it is news of the most dreadful! Mon Henri, my well-beloved nephew,—his arm,—it is broken! Ah the sadness for the poor boy. Me, I fly to him at once,—but at once! You, but you will excuse me, you will forgive, because of the dear boy! I go to Paris, but I return, bringing my boy with me."
It was rather a mixed-up explanation, but the girls finally gathered that Henri had had the misfortune to break his arm, and had sent for his aunt to come to Paris and spend the New Year Day with him instead of taking his intended trip to St. Germain.
Henri had not known that his aunt had the young ladies visiting her, and so had no idea that he was disarranging her plans to such an extent.
"He can come!" she exclaimed; "bah, it is not his legs; it is but his arm. Of a certainty, one does not walk on one's arm! But the dear boy! I shall go to him and explain all. Then we will return, and there shall be feasting and happiness. A broken arm is not so much,—it will mend,—but to him I must fly!"
Patty endeavoured to find out definitely the old lady's plan, but she could only gather that there was no time to be lost, that Ma'amselle must catch the seven o'clock train.
To be sure of this, she must leave the house at half-past six.
And so she started, in her swift touring car, accompanied by her maid and a groom, in addition to her capable and trusty chauffeur.
Away they went, and the girls returned to the drawing-room to consider the situation.
"It was all over so quickly," said Patty, "that I hardly know whether I'm on my head or my heels. What a whirlwind Ma'amselle is!"
"Yes, she flew around like a hen with its head off, or whatever French hens do," said Rosamond; "if she whisks that broken-armed boy home as fast as she whisked herself off they'll be here in a minute."
"She can't," said the practical Elise. "If she takes that seven o'clock train, she won't get to Paris until nearly eight, and then, I don't know where the interesting invalid lives, but anyway, to kidnap him and get back here again is a matter of several hours. I don't expect to see them before midnight."
"What shall we do?" said Patty; "shall we have our dinner?"
"I don't believe we'll have any say in the matter," volunteered Elise. "I think that waxwork butler, and the 'feetmen,' as Rosamond calls them, will arrange our lives for us, and we'll be simply under orders."
"What an exciting experience," exclaimed Patty; "to think of us three American girls, alone except for the servants, in a gorgeous old French Chateau! I feel as if I must do something to live up to my privileges."
"Suppose anything should happen that Ma'amselle never came back," suggested Rosamond; "we could take possession of the place and live here forever."
"I don't think much of that plan," declared Patty; "New York is good enough for me, as a permanent residence. But I do want to do somethink in keeping with the atmosphere of this place. If there's a dungeon keep on the premises, I think I'll throw you two girls into it, after having first bound you in chains."
"You mean a donjon keep, Patty," said Elise; "you're so careless with your mediaeval diction."
A noise in the hall, as of an arrival, startled the girls, and rising impulsively, they flew out to see what it was all about.
To their astonishment, they found the footmen holding open the great front doors, while three stalwart young men entered.
The middle one, who was partly supported by the other two, had his arm in a sling, and as he was undoubtedly a Frenchman, the girls were sure at once that he was no other than the worshipful Henri.
At sight of the three astonished girls the three young men looked equally amazed, and whipping off their caps, they made profound bows to the strangers.
It was a comical situation, for doubtless Henri had expected to see his aunt, and was instead confronted by three unmistakably American misses.
Of the six, quick-witted Patty grasped the situation first.
"You are Monsieur Henri Labesse, is it not so?" she said, advancing toward the broken-armed one.
In her haste and bewilderment, Patty spoke in English, forgetting that the young man might not understand her native tongue.
But he answered in English quite as good as her own, though with a decided French accent, "Yes, Mademoiselle, I am Henri Labesse. I make you my homage, These are my two friends, Cecil Villere and Philippe Baring."
"We are glad to welcome you," said Patty, in her pretty, frank way; "these are my friends, Mademoiselle Farrington and Mademoiselle Barstow. We are guests of your aunt."
"Ah, my aunt!" said Henri, as the other boys acknowledged the introductions, "where is she? Did she not get my telegram?"
"She did, indeed," returned Patty, smiling, "and she went flying off to Paris."
"But my second telegram; I wired again, saying I would come here."
"No, she did not get your second telegram,—only the first one announcing your accident."
"And she has gone! oh how dreadful! but can we not stop her? Let us send post haste after her."
"It's no use," said Elise; "she has been gone about ten minutes, and in her fast car she is now more than half way to the station."
"Did you boys come in an automobile?" asked Patty.
"No," replied Mr. Villere; "we came in a rickety old cab from the station, and it has gone back."
Patty's thoughts were flying rapidly. It seemed dreadful to let the old Ma'amselle go to Paris on a wild-goose chase, when if she could but be stopped, and brought back home, it would save the long and troublesome journey and be a delight to them all.
She not only thought quickly, but she determined to act quickly.
"Can either of you boys drive an automobile?" she demanded of the two uninjured guests.
With voluble lamentations the two confessed their inability in that direction.
"Elise," cried Patty, turning upon her a look, which Elise well knew demanded implicit obedience, "you stay right here and play you're the hostess of this Chateau, and see that you do it properly. Rosamond, you come with me!"
Without a further glance at the astonished young men, without a word to the pompous butler who was hovering in the background, Patty grasped Rosamond by the arm and pulled her away with her.
A MOTOR RIDE
Bareheaded, and still dragging the astonished Rosamond, Patty rushed outdoors, into the gathering dusk, and down toward the stables.
Confronting an astonished groom, she asked him in forcible, if not entirely correct French, whether there was an assistant chauffeur, or any groom who could run a motor car.
She was informed that there was not, that Ma'amselle's chauffeur himself and the groom who had accompanied him were the only ones in the establishment who knew anything about automobiles. If Mademoiselle desired a coach, now?
But Mademoiselle did not desire a coach, and, moreover, Mademoiselle seemed to know perfectly well what she did desire.
Beckoning to the groom, who followed her, she went straight to the garage where the automobiles were kept. There was a touring car there, almost the same as the one she had driven that afternoon, and Patty looked at it uncertainly.
There was also a small runabout, but that was of a different make, of which she knew nothing.
"Get in," she said briefly to the groom, and she pointed to the tonneau.
Accustomed to implicit obedience, the groom got in, hatless as he was, and folding his arms stiffly, sat up as straight as if it were a most usual experience.
"Hop up in front, Rosamond," went on Patty, "and don't try to stop me, for I'm going to do exactly this; I'm going to the station and catch Ma'amselle before she gets on that seven o'clock train. There isn't one- half second to spare; we can't even get our hats, and if we should stop to talk it over with anybody, there'd be no use in going at all. Now hush up, Rosamond, don't say a word to me, I've all I can do to manage this thing!"
As Rosamond hadn't said a word, Patty need not have insisted on her silence. But Patty was so excited that it made her quick of speech and a little uncertain of temper.
She started slowly out of the garage, trying to remember exactly the instructions she had so often received about starting. They went safely out into the park road, and along toward the porter's lodge. Patty's heart beat fast as she wondered uncertainly whether the porter would open the gate for her or not, but she carried off matters with a high hand, and ordered in the name of Ma'amselle Labesse that the gate be opened, and it was. Through it they went, and out on to the high road. Patty put on a higher speed, and they flew along like mad.
"Now you can speak if you want to, Rosamond," she said in a strained, tense voice; "or no, perhaps you'd better not, either. There's something the matter! The engine thumps; but it's all right, I know what to do. If only the road keeps smooth,—if we come to no ditches,—if we don't burst a tire! speak to me, Rosamond, do for goodness' sake say something!"
"It's all right, Patty," said Rosamond, in a quiet voice, for she knew that the greatest danger that threatened Patty was her own over- excitement. "You're all right, Patty; keep on just as you are; be careful of this down grade, and you can easily take the next hill."
"Good for you, Rosamond," said Patty, with a really natural laugh; "you're a brick! My nerves ARE strained, but I won't think of that, I'll think only of my car. Oh Rosamond, if only the road isn't bad in any place!"
"It isn't, Patty, the road is perfect. Steady, now, dear, there's a motor coming, but you can easily pass it. Don't you reverse or something?"
"Keep still, Rosamond, do keep still! I know what to do!"
Rosamond kept still.
On they flew, the wind in their faces cutting like a cold blast; their hair became loosened as it streamed back from their foreheads.
It was the excitement of danger, and 'way down in their hearts both girls were enjoying it, though they did not realise it at the moment. What the statuesque groom who sat up behind felt, nobody will ever know. He kept his head up straight, and his arms folded, and his face showed a brave do-or-die expression, though there was nobody to notice it.
"Oh, Rosamond," Patty went on, still in that breathless, gasping voice, "if I only knew what time it was. There's no use whizzing at this break- neck speed if we're not going to make the train after all! If I thought it would be of any use I'd coast down this hill, but why should we kill ourselves if we don't accomplish our object?"
"Patty, don't be a goose!" and again Rosamond's cool, common-sense tones acted as a dash of cold water on Patty's overstrung nerves. "I'll tell you what time it is. You keep right on with your knitting, and I can get out my watch as easily as anything, and the next time we pass a light I'll inform you the hour."
Reassured by Rosamond's sense and nonsense, Patty drove steadily on.
"It's five minutes to seven," announced Rosamond quietly, "but we can already see the railroad lights in the distance, and besides, the train is sure to be late. But, Patty, you can't go quite so fast as we get into the town. You musn't! You'll be arrested!"
"They can't catch me," cried Patty, as she flew on, "and do keep still, Rosamond, for goodness' sake keep still!"
Rosamond smiled to herself at Patty's command to her to keep still, for she well knew it was merely a nervous exclamation and meant nothing.
On they went, Patty sounding the horn when it was unnecessary, and failing to sound it when it was needed, but this made no difference in their speed. Fortunately they met very few vehicles of any sort, and had the good luck not to run over any dogs, but as they came in full view of the station, they saw the train also approaching from the other direction.
Patty knew that she had just about time to cross the track, but no more.
Instead of worrying her, this sudden last responsibility seemed to steady her nerves, and she said quietly:
"It's all right, Rosamond. Don't speak, please, we've just time to cross the track safely,—SAFELY. See, I'll open up the throttle,—just a little more power,—and here we go, bounding over the track!"
They seemed to jump over the track, and with a round turn, Patty made the corner, put on the brake and came to a full stop at the station just as the funny little French train wheezed in.
But the girl could do no more; as the car came to a standstill Patty's hands dropped from the wheel, and she promptly fainted away.
With no notion of losing the game at the last moment, Rosamond sprang from the car, calling to the groom to look out for Patty, and then ran, panting, to the train.
She grasped the old Ma'amselle as she was about to step on the train, and forcibly pulled her away.
Owing to the old lady's angry and excited exclamation at being thus detained, she could not understand what Rosamond was trying to tell her.
"Make her comprehend!" she cried to the maid, who was accompanying her mistress, "make her understand, quick! she must not go to Paris! Monsieur Henri is at the Chateau!"
But the French maid could understand no English, and in despair Rosamond turned to the group of people who had gathered about them.
Her dignity suddenly returned, and her common sense with it.
"Will somebody who can talk French," she said, "explain to this lady that she need not go to the house of her nephew with the broken arm, because he is already at the Chateau of his aunt."
The moment she had uttered this sentence, its resemblance to the Ollendorff exercises struck Rosamond as very funny, and she began to giggle.
But the old Ma'amselle at last understood the state of the case, and, her face beaming with smiles, she turned away from the train and back to the station.
Patty had come to herself after her momentary unconsciousness, and was all right once more, though physically tired from her exciting exertions.
Ma'amselle's own chauffeur was overcome with amazement when he learned what Patty had done, and took off his cap to her, with the air of one offering homage to a brave heroine.
As for Ma'amselle, she petted Patty, and cried over her, and thanked her, and blessed her, to an extent that could not have been exceeded had Patty saved her from the guillotine.
Then Patty was packed into the back seat of the big car, with Ma'amselle on one side of her and Rosamond on the other. And with this precious freight the chauffeur started off, leaving the groom who had gone with the first party to bring home the other car.
Though there was not much talking done on the way home, Ma'amselle held Patty's hand closely clasped in her own, and the girl felt well repaid by the old lady's unspoken gratitude for the trouble and danger she had undergone.
When they reached home, and Ma'amselle had warmly welcomed her nephew, there was great to-do over Patty's daring journey.
"All's well that ends well," said Elise, "but you'll catch it, Patty Fairfield, when mother hears of your performance. If I had been in Rosamond's place you would have had to drive that car out over my dead body!"
"That's why I didn't take you, Elise," said Patty, laughing; "I knew you'd raise a terrible row about my going, while Rosamond obeyed my orders like a meek little lamb."
"You should at least have let me accompany you, Mademoiselle Fairfield," said Philippe Baring; "I cannot drive an automobile, I regret to say, but I might have been a protection for you."
Patty didn't see any especial way in which Mr. Baring could have protected her, but she didn't say so, and only thanked him prettily for his interest in her welfare.
Henry Labesse was enthusiastic in his admiration and praise of Patty, and declared that American girls were wonders.
Ma'amselle was so pleased to think she had been saved a useless trip to Paris, and to think that she should be able now to spend the evening with her young guests, and above all, to think that her beloved nephew was with her, that she hovered around like an excited butterfly from one to another.
Then she sent them all away to dress for dinner, which, though belated, was to be a merry feast.
And, indeed, it proved so.
Old Ma'amselle came down first, and stood in the grandest drawing-room to receive her honoured guests.
The three boys came next, in their immaculate evening dress, which Henri had managed to get into in spite of his sling.
Then came the girls, the three, as usual, walking side by side, with their arms about each other. They had carried out their plan of red, white and blue dresses, and made a pretty picture as they entered the drawing-room, and bowed in unison to their hostess.
The dinner was especially elaborate as to decorations, and confections that would please the young people, and the chef had done his very best to make his part of the occasion a worthy one.
Henri Labesse proved to be an exceedingly jolly young man, quite bubbling over with gay spirits and witty sallies He did not hesitate to joke with his aunt, who, notwithstanding her dignity, was never offended at her nephew's bantering speeches.
The other two boys, though a trifle more formal than Henri, and perhaps a little bit shy, after the manner of very young Frenchmen, were willing to do their share, and as our three American girls were in the highest of spirits, the feast was a gay one, indeed.
Ma'amselle gazed around at her brood with such delight and satisfaction that she almost forgot to eat.
Over and over again she wanted it explained to her how Henri had broken his arm in his gymnasium class, how he had thought he would not be able to go to St. Germain, and so had telegraphed his aunt to come to him, and how, later, the doctor had patched him up so that he could go, and he had followed close upon the heels of a second telegram.
The delayed message arrived while they were at dinner, and Henri twisted it up, and lighting it at a candle flame, burned it, saying it was a bad spirit which had worked them ill, but which should trouble them no more.
Then Ma'amselle wanted to hear again all about Patty's wonderful ride, the difficulties she had encountered, the nerve strain she had experienced, and the help and comfort Rosamond had been to her.
"And," concluded Patty as she wound up her recital, "I don't want any one to tell Mrs. Farrington about it, because I want to tell her myself."
Elise smiled, for she well knew that Patty's wheedlesome ways would persuade Mrs. Farrington to look leniently on the episode, although it had, indeed, been a desperately dangerous piece of business.
But Ma'amselle Labesse asserted that after she had said what she had to say to Mrs. Farrington, she knew that Patty would not be reprimanded by her, but rather be deemed worthy of the Cross of the Legion of Honour.
Patty smiled at them all, in reality caring little, even if she were reprimanded. She knew she had done a daring thing, but she had kept her head, and had come through it safely, and having won, she felt it was her right to laugh.
"Are all American girls so brave and fearless?" inquired Mr. Villere.
"I think most of them are," said Patty, "but you must understand I was not recklessly daring. I have had many lessons in motoring, and I'm a fairly expert driver. Of course, everybody is liable to accidents, and I took my chances on them, but not on my driving."
"You took chances on losing your head," remarked Rosamond.
"So did Marie Antoinette," returned Patty saucily, "but you see I fared better than she did."
A NEW YEAR FETE
The next morning was the day of the New Year. As usual, every one did as he or she chose during the morning hours, but luncheon time brought them all together again.
The three boys had been out of doors all the morning, and seemed glad to return again to the society of the American strangers.
The girls had been happy enough by themselves, and though they liked the French boys well enough, had privately agreed that they were not half as nice as American boys.
But half a dozen young people, if good-natured and enthusiastic, are bound to have a merry time together, and as the six grew better acquainted their national differences wore away somewhat.
Ma'amselle announced that the fete of the day would be an early evening party, followed by a supper.
She had invited the neighbouring gentry, both young and old, as was her custom on Jour de L'AN, and, as she explained, she was making it "more of an elaborateness" this year by asking her guests to come in fancy costumes.
This delighted the girls, for they all loved dressing up, but they had no notion where their fancy costumes were to come from.
But Ma'amselle replied, "It is arranged," and during the afternoon she led them to a large apartment which she called the Room of the Robes.
Here she displayed to the enraptured girls costume after costume of wonderful beauty and magnificence.
The Labesse line had been a long one, and apparently its ladies had never worn out or given away any of their robes. Nor its men either, for there were costumes of knights and courtiers, some of which would surely fit the three young men at present under the Chateau roof.
The girls were bewildered at the maze of costumes, and scarcely knew which to select.
Finally Patty chose a bewitching Watteau affair, with a short quilted petticoat, and a looped overdress made of the daintiest flowered silk imaginable. The petticoat was of white satin, and the overdress of palest blue, with garlands of pink roses. The pointed bodice laced up over a dainty neckerchief, and it was further adorned with borders of pearls.
Rosamond pounced upon a scarlet and gold brocade, which she declared was her ideal of a perfect gown.
Elise found a pink brocatelle, embroidered with silver, and after they had selected head-dresses, fans, and many accessories to their costumes, they scurried away to their own rooms to try them on.
"Aren't we having the time of our life?" exclaimed Rosamond, as she peacocked about, gazing over her shoulder at her long court train.
"Yes, indeed," said Patty, with a little sigh of content; "I adore this dressing-up performance, and really, girls, those boys are quite human under their French polish."
"They're not so bad," said Elise, "if only they wouldn't bow so often, and so exactly like dancing masters."
"Well, it's all fun," said Patty, "and I'm going to get that awfully nice Francoise to do my hair. She can make it just like an old French picture. Would you powder it?"
"No," said Elise, after a moment's consideration; "the powder shakes off all over everything and you can't make it really white, anyway; and besides, Patty, your hair is too pretty a colour to disguise with powder."
"Thank you for the compliment, Elise, though a little belated; all right, then, I'll leave my tow-coloured tresses their natural shade, and decorate them with strings of pearls and light blue ostrich tips."
The pearls and feathers and the manipulations of Franchise's artistic fingers transformed Patty's head into the semblance of an old French miniature, and even Patty herself cast an approving glance at the pretty reflection in the gilt-framed mirror.
The girls were wild with enthusiasm over Patty's appearance, though truth to tell, their own effects were scarcely less picturesque.
But Patty's style lent itself peculiarly well to the Watteau dress, and her little feet with their dainty silk stockings and high-heeled paste- buckled slippers twinkled beneath the quilted petticoat with all the grace of a real Watteau picture.
When they were ready, they walked down stairs, single file, with great pomp and dignity, to find awaiting them three polished young courtiers, who might have belonged to the Court of Versailles.
Ma'amselle herself was scarcely disguised, for in her ordinary costume she never strayed very far from the styles and materials of her beloved ancestors.
But she had on a royal robe, with a great jewelled collar, and strings of gems depending from her throat. She wore a coronet that had belonged to some of the ladies of her family, and she seemed more than ever a chatelaine of a bygone day.
The rooms were decorated with flowers and plants, in honour of the occasion, and hundreds of wax lights added to the brilliancy of the scene.
An orchestra of stringed instruments played delightful music, and Patty tried to forget entirely that she lived in the twentieth century, and pretended that time had been turned back many, many years.
The guests began to arrive, and though their costumes were of great variety, they were nearly all of French effects, and quite in harmony with the scene. Patty did not seem to care much to converse, or even to dance, but wandered around in a blissful state, enjoying the picturesque scene.
"Probably I shall never see anything like this again," she thought to herself, "and I just want to gaze at it until it is photographed on my mind forever. Oh, won't it be fun to tell Nan and papa about it!"
Just then she saw Henri Labesse approaching her.
"I fear I shall be awkward, Mademoiselle," he said, glancing at his arm in a sling, "but if you would forgive, and dance with me just once?"
"Of course I will," said Patty, her kind heart full of sympathy for the poor fellow. "We can manage quite nicely, I'm sure."
Henri put his good arm round Patty's waist, and lightly laying her hand on his shoulder, they glided away. Like most Frenchmen, young Labesse was a perfect dancer, and as Patty was skilled in the art, they danced beautifully together and seemed to be in no way impeded by the young man's broken arm.
"What a dance!" exclaimed Patty, as the music stopped; "I never met any one who dances as well as you do. If you dance like that with one arm, what would do with two ?"
"All the merit of my dancing was due to my partner," said Henri, with one of his best bows, "you are like a fluff of thistledown, or a will o' the wisp. Forgive me, but I had imagined that American ladies danced like—like automobiles."
Patty laughed. "If you hadn't already paid me such a pretty compliment," she said, "I should be angry with you for that speech. But if you wish to know the truth of the matter, go and dance with Elise and Rosamond, and then come back and tell me what you think of American dancing."
Henri went away obediently, leaving Patty to decide among the group of partners who were begging her for a dance.
Later on Henri returned. "You are right," he said gravely; "the American demoiselles are, indeed, divine dancers; but, may I say it? they are yet not like you. Will you not give me one more turn, and then I must dance no more to-night; my aunt forbids it, on the absurd score that I'm an invalid."
Willingly, Patty danced again with the young man, and as this time it was a fancy dance, the exquisite grace of the couple soon attracted the attention of the onlookers. One by one the other couples ceased dancing, until at last Patty and Henri were alone upon the waxed floor, while the others looked admiringly on. Inspired by the moment, Patty indulged in some fancy steps, which were quickly understood and repeated by Henri, and depending on a whispered word now and then for direction, they advanced and retreated, bowed and chasseed in an elaborate and exquisite minuet.
Henri's disabled arm, so far from being an obstacle to his grace, seemed to lend a certain quaint dignity to his movements, and in his court dress he looked like a wounded knight who had returned triumphant from the tourney, to dance with his fair lady.
Great applause followed the final figure of their dance, and Henri led pretty Patty, blushing with the honours heaped upon her, to his aunt. The old Ma'amselle kissed her dear little friend, and the tears in her eyes told Patty how much she had enjoyed the scene.
Then came the feast, which was all gaiety and merriment, and finally, by general acclamation, Patty was about to be crowned Queen of the New Year.
This, however, she would not allow, and taking the crown which was offered her, she went over and placed it on the white hair of her hostess, remarking that Ma'amselle was queen, and she herself the first lady in waiting.
The picture of pretty Patty as she stood by the side of the regal old lady, who sat, crowned, in her own chair of state, was worthy of a painter, and many who saw it wished it might have been transferred to canvas.
The festival broke up early, for the old Ma'amselle would not allow late hours for her children, and as soon as the last guest was gone she sent them scampering to bed, with strict injunctions for them not to reappear until noon the next day.
The next day was ushered in by a dismal, pouring rain, and certain outdoor pleasures which were planned for the afternoon had to be given up.
"But I'll tell you what we will do," announced Patty as they gathered in the great hall after luncheon, "we'll have an afternoon of American fun, and we'll show you French boys some tricks you never saw before."
Having asked permission from Ma'amselle, who would not have refused her had she asked to build a bonfire on the drawing-room carpet, Patty took her friends to the kitchen.
The fat old chef was amazed, but greatly pleased that the American demoiselles should honour his precincts, and he put himself, his assistants and all his pantries at their service.
"First," said Patty, "we're going to have a candy pull."
The French boys had no notion what a candy pull might be, but they were more than willing to learn.
A difficulty arose, however, when Patty undertook to explain to old Cesar, the CHEF, that she wanted molasses. She didn't know the French word for molasses, and when she tried SIROP, Cesar affably flew around and brought her such a variety of SIROPS that she was overwhelmed. Nor were they of any use to her, for they were merely sweet essences of various fruits, and nothing like good old New Orleans molasses.
Cesar was desolate that he could not please Patty, and berated his assistants down to the scullion for not knowing what the American young lady wanted.
As soon as he could for laughter, Henri helped matters out by explaining that what was desired was MELASSE.
"Ah! OUI, OUI, OUI!" exclaimed the delighted Cesar, and he sent the kitchen boys flying for the right thing at last.
Laughing herself at the absurdity of making molasses candy, with the assistance of half a dozen French cooks, Patty proceeded to measure out cupfuls of the treacle and pour it into a skillet.
She was enchanted with the immaculate purity and spotlessness of the French kitchen, which even that of a New England housewife cannot rival.
She had set the boys to cracking nuts and picking them out, and when the time came, she added butter and a dash of vinegar to her boiling candy, watched with great interest by Cesar, whose French repertoire did not include any such strange mess as this.
After the candy was poured out into the pans, and partly cooled, the pulling began.
Patty never liked this part of the performance herself, and she frankly said so, stating that if the others wanted to pull the taffy she would show them how. Elise declined, but Rosamond pulled away briskly, using only the tips of her fingers, and with a practiced touch, until her portion of candy became of a beautiful cream colour and then almost white. After watching her a few moments, Cesar caught the trick, and taking a large panful, pulled and tossed it about with such dexterity that they all applauded.
Henri, of course, could not join in the sport, but Philippe and Cecil undertook it bravely, though, meeting with difficulties, they soon gave it up.
"It Is a knack," said Patty, "and though I can do it fairly well, I hate it because it's so messy. But Cesar is an artist at it, so suppose we let him do the rest."
Cesar willingly consented to this plan, and the young people ran away, leaving him to finish the taffy.
"Next," said Patty, as after much washing of hands they had again assembled in the glass parlour, "I'm going to teach you to play bean bags."
Elise and Rosamond set up a shout of laughter at this, and the boys looked politely inquisitive.
Calling a footman, Patty, who greatly enjoyed the joke of being waited upon to such an absurd degree, asked him pleasantly to bring her some beans. She chose her French carefully, designating what she wanted by the term haricots.
"Oui, Mademoiselle," said the obsequious footman, hurrying away on his errand. He quickly returned, bearing a tin of French beans on a silver tray.
Patty burst into laughter, and so did the rest of them, though only Elise and Rosamond knew what the joke was about.
"Non, Non!" exclaimed Patty, between her peals of laughter; "beans, beans! oh, wait a minute, I'll tell you, I'll tell you; stop, let me think!"
After a moment's hard thought, she triumphantly exclaimed, "Feve!"
"Oui, oui, oui," exclaimed the footman, comprehendingly, and away he stalked once more. This time he returned with a large silver dish full of coffee beans, neither roasted nor ground.
These Patty accepted with many thanks. "I don't believe," she said, "that they have real bean-bag beans in this benighted country, and these will answer the purpose just as well."
Then again summoning her best French to her aid, she asked the footman to procure for her some pieces of material—cloth or cotton—and she indicated the size with her finger, also asking him to bring a work- basket. Then with an exhausted air she sat back in her chair and waited.
"Patty, you do beat the Dutch!" said Elise; "you know he can't find such things."
"Can't he?" said Patty complacently; "something tells me that that able footman will return with material for bean-bags."
The boys were looking on with great amusement, though only half understanding what it was all about. They understood English, and nearly all of Patty's French, but BEAN-BAGS was an unknown word to them.
True to Patty's prophecy the clever footman returned, still grave and immovable of countenance, but bearing a well-filled work-basket, and a quantity of pieces of magnificent satin brocades which had been cut in six-inch squares—that being the size indicated by Patty.
Patty took them with a gracious air of satisfaction, and rewarded the footman with thanks in French and a smile in American.
"Now," she went on calmly, "I shall be pleased to have the assistance of you two ladies, as I fancy these young men are not any more accustomed to sewing than to pulling taffy."
But to her surprise Cecil declared himself an expert needleman, and proved it by stitching up a bean-bag, under Patty's direction, in most praiseworthy fashion.
Each of the girls made one, too, and when they were filled with the coffee beans, and sewed up, Patty was again overcome by merriment at the regal appearance of their satin brocaded bean-bags.
Then into the long hall they went, but alas! the girls could not bring themselves to toss bean-bags in an apartment so filled with fragile objects of value.
In despair Patty again consulted her friend the footman. As soon as he understood her dilemma, he assured her he would arrange all; and in less than fifteen minutes he came back to her, almost smiling, and invited the party to follow him.
They followed to the picture gallery, where the ingenious man had carefully placed a number of large, folding Japanese screens in front of the pictures to protect them from possible harm.
Patty was delighted at this contrivance, and then followed such a game of bean-bags as had probably never been seen before in all France.
The only drawback was that Henri could not take part in this sport, but as Patty said wisely, "One cannot have everything in France; and, at any rate, he can eat some of our American taffy, which must be cooled by this time."
It didn't seem possible they had been at the Chateau for a week when the day came to go home. "It was lovely at St. Germain," said Elise, as they were once again settled in Paris, "but I'm glad to be back in the city, aren't you, Patty?"
"Yes, I am, but I did have a lovely time at the Chateau. I think I like new experiences, and the memory of them is like a lot of pictures that I can look back to, and enjoy whenever I choose. I think my mind is getting to be just like a postcard album, it's so filled with views of foreign places."
"Mine is more like a kaleidoscope; it's all in a jumble, and I can't seem to straighten it out."
But after a day or two the girls settled down into a fairly steady routine of home life. They were both interested in their various lessons, and though there was plenty of work, there was also plenty of play.
They did not become acquainted with many French people, but the members of the American Colony, as it was called, were socially inclined, and they soon made many friends.
Then there was much shopping to be done, and Mrs. Farrington seemed quite as interested in selecting pretty things for Patty as she did for her own daughter.
The girls had especially pretty winter costumes of dark cloth, and each had a handsome and valuable set of furs. In these, with their Paris hats, they looked so picturesque that Mrs. Farrington proposed they should have their photographs taken to send to friends at home.
The taking of the photographs developed into quite a lengthy performance; for Mrs. Farrington said, that while they were about it, they might as well have several styles.
So it resulted in their taking a trunk full of their prettiest dresses and hats, and spending a whole morning in the photograph gallery.
"It's really more satisfactory," observed Patty, "to do these things by the wholesale. Now I don't think I shall have to have photographs taken again before I'm seventy, at least."
"You ought to have them at fifty," replied Elise; "you'll be such a charming middle-aged lady, Patty. A little prim, perhaps, but rather nice, after all."
"Thanks for the flattering prospect. I prophesy that when you're fifty, you'll be a great artist, and you'll look exactly like Rosa Bonheur, and you'll wear short grey hair and a linen duster. So you'd better have plenty of photographs taken now, for I don't believe the linen duster will be very becoming."
The photographs turned out to be extremely successful, both as likenesses and as pictures. The girls sent many copies to their friends in America, and Nan wrote back that she thought the girls ought to hurry home, or they would become incorrigible Parisiennes.
Both Elise and Patty thoroughly enjoyed the hours they spent in the great picture galleries. Although Elise had herself a talent for painting, Patty had quite as great a love for pictures, and was acquiring a true appreciation of their value. Sometimes Elise's teacher would go with them, and sometimes Mr. or Mrs. Farrington. But the girls liked best to ramble alone together through the Louvre or the Luxembourg, and although the watchful Lisette walked grimly behind them, they followed their own sweet will, and often sat for a long time before their favourite pictures or statues.
"'The time has come, the Walrus said,'" said Patty one day, "when I really must hunt up those things for Marian. She made a list of about fifty things for me to take home to her, and though they're mostly trifles, I expect some of them will not be very easy to find. Suppose we start out with that Cyclamen perfumery she wanted. It's a special make, by a special firm, but I suppose we can find it."
So that afternoon the girls started on their Cyclamen hunt. Lisette was to have accompanied them, but she was suffering from a headache, and, rather than disappoint the girls, Mrs. Farrington said that just for this once they might go shopping alone in the motor-car with the chauffeur.
In great glee the girls started off, and went first to several perfumers in search of Marian's order.
But Cyclamen extract, made by Boissier Freres, was not to be found, although many other French Brothers signed their illustrious names to Cyclamen extracts, and although the Boissier Freres themselves seemed to manufacture an essence from every known blossom except Cyclamen.
"It's no use," said Patty, "to take any other kind, for Marian simply won't have it, and she'll say that she should think I might have found it for her. Let's go to the Magasins du Louvre,—they're sure in that big place to have every kind there is."
Leaving the motor-car at one of the entrances to the great building, the girls went in. After following devious directions and tortuous ways, they found the perfumery counter, and as they had now sufficient command of the French language to make their wants accurately known, they inquired for the precious Cyclamen. The affable salesman was at first quite sure he could supply it, but an exhaustive search failed to bring forth the desired kind.
Desolate at his inability to please the young ladies, he informed them that nowhere could they find the object of their search, unless it might be at the establishment of the Boissier Freres themselves, which was across the Seine.
"Why, yes," cried Patty; "that's just what Marian said. She said I would have to go across the Seine for it, and I didn't know what she meant. Let's go, Elise; when I start out to do a thing I do like to succeed."
"So do I. We'll take the whole afternoon for it, if necessary, but get that stuff we will."
The obliging salesman wrote down the address for them, and, taking the paper with polite thanks, the girls went away.
But when they reached the street their motorcar was not to be seen. In vain they looked and waited, but could see nothing of the car or the chauffeur. They returned to the shop and stood just inside the door, where they watched and waited a long time.
"Something must have happened," Patty said at last, "and Jules has taken the car away to get it fixed. But he ought to have let us know that he was going. What shall we do, Elise?"
"I don't know what to do, Patty. I hate to waste this beautiful, bright afternoon, when we might be doing our shopping and having a good time. And I'm worried about Jules. The car seemed all right when we left it."
"Yes; nothing ever happens to that big car. I think Jules has gone away on purpose. Perhaps he'll never come back."
"Oh, Patty, I don't know what to do, I'm sure. Let's telephone home."
"We can try it; but I know the telephone will be out of order. It always is. I never knew a Paris telephone that wasn't."
Sure enough, when they tried to telephone, after much delay and many unsuccessful attempts, they were informed that there was some difficulty with the wires and that connection with the Farrington house was impossible.
The girls returned to their post at the glass-doored entrance and stood looking out with a discouraged air. Still no car appeared that they could recognise as their own.
At last Patty said: "There's no use, Elise, in standing here any longer. Jules has absconded, or been kidnapped, or something. Now, I'll tell you what we'll do. Let's take a cab over to this perfumery place and back again, and then if Jules isn't here waiting for us we'll go right home in the same cab. I know your mother doesn't let us go in a cab alone, but this is an emergency, and we have to get home somehow; and while we're about it we may as well go over to the perfumery place. It isn't very far."
"How do you know it isn't far?"
"Because I know a lot about Paris now, and I know the names of the streets, and I know just about where it is, and of course the cabman will know. We can talk French to him and we can act very dignified, and anyway we'll be back here in fifteen or twenty minutes, so come on."
Elise was a little doubtful about the matter, but she yielded to Patty's argument and they went out in the street. Patty stopped a passing cab, and giving the driver the address, the girls got in.
As they rolled smoothly along Patty's spirits rose. "You see, we did just the right thing," she said; "and we'll be back there now before Jules is."
On they went, across the Seine and into a strange district, unlike any they had ever seen before.
But it was not long before they came to the address written on the paper. The girls went into the shop and found to their dismay that the perfumery company was there no longer, but had moved some time since to another address.
With great dignity, and fairly good French, Patty inquired the present address of the firm, and, receiving it, returned to the cab.
"I'm determined," she said to Elise, "to go on with this thing, now that I've begun it. I'm going to find that Cyclamen, just because I've made up my mind to do so."
The cabman seemed to know the address indicated, and started his horse off at a jog trot. On they went, farther and farther, and getting into a more and more disagreeable district. The streets grew narrower, the houses shabbier, and the people along the streets were noisy and boisterous.
Patty did not like to admit it, but she began to wish she had not come, and Elise was plainly frightened, for the people along the street stared at the pretty American girls driving about alone in a public conveyance.
At last Patty said in a low voice: "It's horrid, Elise, and I'm truly sorry I insisted on coming. Shall we ask the man to go back?"
"Yes," said Elise; "that is, if you think best. But I hate to go any farther in this horrid quarter."
So Patty explained to the driver that they had concluded not to go to the perfumer's that day, and directed him to take them back to the Magasins du Louvre.
But the cabman objected to this proposition, and said they were now not far from the place they were in search of, and he would go on till they reached it.
Patty expostulated, but the cabman was firm in his decision. He was not impertinent, but he seemed to think that the young ladies were too easily discouraged, and assured them they would soon reach their destination. So they went on, and Patty and Elise grew more and more alarmed as their situation became more unpleasant. It was certainly no place for them to be, unattended, and the fact that they could not persuade the cabman to go back dismayed them both.
But Patty's pluck stood by her. Grasping Elise's hand firmly, she whispered: "Don't you collapse, Elise! If you cry I'll never forgive you! Brace up now and help me through. It will be all right if we don't act afraid."
"How can I help acting afraid?" said poor Elise, her teeth chattering, "when I'm s-scared to death!"
"Don't be scared to death! I tell you there's nothing to be afraid of! Brace up, I say!" Patty gave Elise's arm such a pinch as to make her jump, and just then the cab stopped at the establishment of Boissier Freres.
It proved to be the right place this time, and the girls went in. Behind the counter stood a dapper young man, who waited on them obsequiously. But when he heard Patty's request he said they did not have that essence in their regular stock and only made it when ordered.
"Then," said Patty, at the end of her patience, "I'll order some. Will you make it for me, please?"
"For that," said the young man, "I must refer you to another department. You'll have to go to see M. Poirier, who takes such orders."
"And where shall I find him?" asked Patty.
The obliging young man began to write down an address. "It is some distance away," he said, "and not a very accessible place to get to."
Patty looked at Elise and laughed. "I give it up," she said; "I thought I could do Marian's errand, but it's proving too much for me!"
She thanked the young man for the address and put it away in her purse, with but slight intention of ever using it. She bought a bottle of another sort of perfumery, and, saying good afternoon, left the shop.
But when she and Elise regained the sidewalk there was no cab in sight. They looked in every direction, but could see nothing of it.
"He can't have gone away," said Patty, "for I haven't paid him."
"But he has gone away," said Elise; "and oh, Patty, I just remember! I left my purse on the seat!"
"Was there much in it?"
"Yes, a good deal. I haven't done any shopping yet, you know."
"Well, that explains it. He's gone off with your purse, for he knew that very likely we didn't have his number, and of course we can never find him again. Elise, don't you dare to cry! We're in an awful scrape now, but we'll get out of it somehow if you'll only be plucky about it! Don't you fail me, and I'll get out of it somehow!"
Patty's admonitions were none too soon, for Elise was on the very verge of bursting into tears. But when Patty appealed to her for aid she tried hard to overcome her fears and be a help instead of a hindrance.
Patty considered the situation. "I hate to go back into that shop and ask that young man to call me a cab," she said, "for he was so fawning and officious that I didn't like his manner a bit. But there doesn't seem to be anything else to do, for there's no policeman in sight, and of course no telephone station, and of course it wouldn't work if there was one, and there's no other place about here that looks as if I dare go in, and so we must go back and ask that horrid man. Now brace up, Elise; put on your most haughty air and look as dignified as a duchess."
Elise tried hard to follow Patty's directions, but she did not represent a very haughty type of duchess as she tremblingly followed Patty into the shop.
But Patty herself held her head high, and assumed the dignity of a whole line of duchesses as she stalked toward the counter. She chose her French with much care, and in exceedingly formal diction informed the young man that she desired to call a cab.
Without expressing astonishment at this, the young man politely assured her that he would call a cab for her at once; that it would take some time to procure one, as there were none save at a considerable distance.
There being nothing else to do, poor Patty expressed herself as willing to wait, but coldly desired that all possible haste be made.
The fifteen minutes that the girls waited was perhaps the most uncomfortable quarter of an hour they had ever spent in their lives, and indeed it seemed more like fifteen hours than fifteen minutes. They scarcely spoke to one another; Patty, feeling the responsibility of the whole affair, was thinking what she should do in case a cab didn't come, while Elise was entirely absorbed in her earnest endeavours not to cry.
But at last a cab appeared and the two girls got in.
Patty gave the order to drive back to the great shop from which they had started on their adventure.
It seemed an interminable distance through the unpleasant streets, but when at last they reached the Magasins du Louvre and drew up to the entrance Elise gave a delighted cry, and said: "Oh, there's our car, and Jules in it!"
The car was across the street, and the chauffeur sat with his arms folded, in an attitude of patient waiting. The girls got out of the cab, Patty paid the cabman, and as they beckoned to Jules, he started the car across the street toward them.
"Where have you been?" inquired Elise, in a reproving tone.
But the chauffeur declared that he had sat the whole afternoon in that one spot, waiting for the young ladies.
When Elise said that they had come to the door and looked for him in vain, he only asseverated that he had not moved from the spot opposite the entrance, but had been there all the time watching the door for their reappearance.
As she had never known Jules to be untruthful, Elise was bewildered at this statement, but presently a light dawned on Patty.
"I see, Elise," she cried; "it's the other entrance! The doors are almost exactly the same! This is the one where we went in, but we came out at the door on the other street, and we were such idiots we didn't know the difference!"
"And we flattered ourselves that we knew Paris!" exclaimed Elise. "Well, Patty, let's go home. We're not fit to be trusted out alone."
So home the girls went, feeling decidedly light-hearted that they were so well out of their scrape.
Patty went at once to Mrs. Farrington and gave her an exact narrative of the whole affair. She took all the blame on herself, and it was rightfully hers, saying that she had persuaded Elise against her will to go in the cab across the Seine to the perfumer's.
Mrs. Farrington laughed at Patty's extremely penitential air, and said: "My dear child, don't take it quite so seriously. You're not to blame for mistaking the doors. That big shop is very confusing, and after waiting for Jules, and telephoning, and all that, you did quite right to take a cab, as it was really an emergency. But you did not do right to go exploring an unfamiliar quarter of Paris on an uncertain errand. However, you certainly had punishment enough in your bewilderment and anxiety, and I think you have learned your lesson, and nothing more need be said about it."
Nothing more was said about it by way of reprimand, but many times Patty was joked by the Farrington family, and often when she started out anywhere was advised not to try to buy Cyclamen perfumery.
Toward the end of January the Van Ness girls came to call. They had returned to Paris as they expected, and were truly glad to see Patty and Elise again.
"We've had a lovely trip," Doris declared; "but we're awfully glad to get back to Paris. And oh, girls, I want to tell you about a plan in which we're awfully interested. There's a poor girl, an American, and her name is Leila Hunt."
"Let me tell," broke in Alicia; "she's an art student, and she's trying to support herself in Paris while she studies. And the other day we were walking through the Louvre, and we saw her there."
"Copying a picture," chimed in Doris.
"Yes, copying a picture," went on Alicia; "and she was so faint, because she doesn't have enough to eat, you know, that she fell off the stool and fainted away from sheer exhaustion."
"How dreadful!" cried Patty; "can't we help her?"
"That's just it," said Doris; "we want to help her, and we're getting up a bazaar for her benefit. But she mustn't know it, for she's awfully proud, and wouldn't like it a bit."