"You know her personally, then?" asked Elise.
"Yes; we hunted up her address and went to see her, and the poor thing is so weak and thin, but awfully brave and plucky. And papa says he'll give some money, and I thought perhaps Mr. Farrington would, too; and then we thought it might help to have a bazaar and make some money that way, and then we'll send it to her anonymously, for I don't believe she'd take it any other way."
Rosamond Barstow was present at this conversation, and she said: "I think it's a lovely plan, and I'll be glad to help. Where are you going to hold the bazaar?"
"That's the trouble," said Alicia; "we don't know any place that's just right. You see, we're at a hotel, and a bazaar in a hotel is so public. I suppose there isn't room in this house?"
"No," said Elise; "there are plenty of rooms, but no one is big enough for an affair of that kind."
"But we have one," exclaimed Rosamond eagerly. "Our house has an immense ballroom. We almost never use it, but it would be just the place for a bazaar."
"Would your people like to have us use it?"
"Oh, yes; mother lets me do anything I like. And, anyway, she'll be awfully glad to help an American girl—you said an American girl, didn't you?"
"Yes, Miss Hunt is from New England. Oh, it will be lovely if we can have the bazaar in your house, and all the American colony will come, and we'll make a lot of money."
The plan was laid before Mrs. Farrington, who entirely approved of it, and then the five girls went over to Rosamond's to ask Mrs. Barstow's consent, and to look at the ballroom.
Mrs. Barstow was greatly pleased with the idea and consented at once that the bazaar should be held in the ballroom, and she went with the girls to look at the big apartment and to make plans.
As the Van Ness party were only to remain in Paris a week, it was necessary that the affair should be arranged speedily and the plan quickly carried out.
Mrs. Van Ness, Mrs. Farrington, and Mrs. Barstow were to be patronesses, but the girls, the two Van Ness boys, and Martin Barstow were to do the actual work and make all arrangements.
It was a somewhat original scheme of entertainment, and as Alicia described it the rest all agreed that it would be great fun.
It was to last only one afternoon, from three to six, and it was called the "Bazaar of Arts and Manufactures."
The girls called upon many members of the American colony and asked them to donate material of any kind, such as silks, satins, ribbons, fancy paper, materials or fabrics of any sort.
They responded generously, and also gave many articles to be sold at the bazaar, and promised to send contributions for the refreshment room.
The boys declared that their part was the decoration of the ballroom, and they not only ornamented the room, but built various little booths and arranged such counters and tables as were needed.
When the day of the bazaar came nobody knew quite what the entertainment was to be, but were prepared for an original amusement of some kind.
After a large crowd of people had assembled Guy Van Ness mounted a platform and announced that there would now be held a contest of arts and manufactures. Everybody present, on the payment of a certain sum, would be allowed to compete, and prizes were offered to the successful competitors in each department.
Then, greatly to the amusement of the audience, he announced that the various achievements arranged for were such easily accomplished feats as the trimming of hats, the painting of pictures, modelling in clay, making paper flowers, and various other arts and handicrafts, among which each might select a preference.
After every competitor had qualified, and was fully prepared to begin, a gong would be sounded. Exactly at the end of a half hour another gong would sound, when every one must cease at once, whether the work was finished or not.
As soon as the guests thoroughly understood what they were to do great interest was displayed and competitors were rapidly entered for the different contests.
Those who were artists took their places at a table provided with water colors, oil paints, pastels, and drawing materials. The clay modellers were at another table, with ample provision for their art.
Many ladies who declared they had no talents prepared to trim hats. All sorts of material, such as velvet, lace, flowers, feathers, and ribbons were provided, as well as the untrimmed shapes.
In another booth ladies prepared to make Japanese kimonos or dressing- jackets, and in another booth were materials for paper flowers.
There was a burnt-wood outfit and sets of woodcarvers' tools, and Robert Van Ness declared that he knew he could take the prize for whittling.
Another booth held crepe paper for lampshades or other fancy work, and it was not long before every one had selected an occupation and was prepared to begin work.
Elise, of course, was going to draw a picture, and Patty concluded she would trim a hat.
As it neared the time, Patty threaded her needle and put on her thimble, but was not allowed to touch her material until the signal was given.
Henri Labesse was at the bazaar, and though his arm was still a little stiff, he entered the competition and was to model a figure of clay.
The gong struck, and everybody flew madly at their work, anxious to complete it within the half hour.
Elise, who was methodical, began her drawing as slowly and carefully as if she had the whole day for it, reasoning to herself that she would rather hurry the finishing than the beginning.
Patty, on the other hand, dashed impatiently at her hat-trimming, pinning things on here and there, thinking she would sew them if she had time, and if not they could stay pinned.
Both the Van Ness girls were making paper lamp-shades, and Rosamond was already well along on a picturesque Japanese kimono. She sewed up the breadths like a wind-mill, and whipped on the bordering rapidly, but with strong, firm stitches.
She would easily have taken the prize in her department, but the girls had agreed among themselves that they would accept no prizes, even if they won them.
When the gong struck at the close of the half hour some of the work was still unfinished, but most of the articles were completed. And it was indeed marvellous to see what could be done by people working at their utmost speed.
Elise's picture was charming, and Patty's hat was among the prettiest. Competent judges awarded the prizes, and then the articles, whether finished or unfinished, were sold at auction. And they brought large prices, for many of them were well worth having; and, too, the buyers were quite ready to give liberally in aid of the worthy charity.
Henri Labesse had made a clay model of an American girl, which was a gem in its characteristic effect and its skilful workmanship. It was not quite finished, but of course was offered at auction along with the other things.
There was lively bidding for the little figure, as everybody seemed to recognise its artistic value. But, after being bidden up to a high price, it was finally sold to a young man who, it turned out, was merely acting as an agent for Henri Labesse himself. He had instructed this young man to buy the figure in at any price, with a result that a goodly sum went into the charitable treasury.
After receiving his own work back again Mr. Labesse took it across to where Patty sat, and begged her acceptance of it, adding that he would take it home and complete it before sending it to her.
Patty was delighted to have the little statuette as a souvenir of the occasion, and also as a memento of Mr. Labesse, whom she thoroughly liked.
The rest of the afternoon was spent in serving ices and cakes and fruit to the patrons of the bazaar, and after it was all over the girls were delighted to find that they had realised about twice as much money as they had hoped for.
Alicia Van Ness was ecstatic, and declared it would make Miss Hunt independent, and free of all financial worry during the rest of her term in the art school. And as it was to be sent to her without a hint as to its source, she could not refuse to accept it.
"I do think it was lovely of those Van Ness girls," said Patty, as they discussed the bazaar at dinner-time, "to do all that for a perfect stranger."
"I do, too," said Elise; "they're awfully good-hearted girls. When I first met them I didn't like them much; they were so unconventional in their manners. But travelling about has improved them, and they certainly are generous and kind-hearted."
"Yes, they are," said Patty; "and I like them, anyway. I'm sorry they are going away from Paris so soon."
"Well, I'm glad we're not going away," said Elise; "at any rate, not just yet. How much longer do you suppose we shall stay here, mother?"
"I don't know, my child; but I'm getting about ready to go home. What do you think, Patty?"
"Since you ask me, I must confess I should like to stay a while longer. But if you're going home, Mrs. Farrington, I feel pretty sure we shall all travel on the same boat."
But nothing more was said about going home, and the weeks slipped by until it was March.
Everything seemed to be winding itself up. Patty's music term was finished; Elise's drawing lessons were nearing their close for the season, and Mrs. Farrington, though she said nothing about going home, somehow seemed to be quietly getting ready.
Patty didn't exactly understand the attitude of her hostess. If she were going home soon, Patty wanted to know it; and one day she laughingly said so.
"I suppose," said Mrs. Farrington, looking at her quizzically, "it's not unnatural that you should want to know when you're going to see your native land again; but truly, Patty, I cannot tell you. I'll promise you this, though: to-morrow you'll know more about it than you do to-day."
Patty was mystified at this, for Mrs. Farrington's tone was even more enigmatical than her words.
"And wait a minute, girls," said Mrs. Farrington, as they were about to go to their rooms to dress for dinner; "put on your pretty new dresses to-night, will you?"
"Why, mother?" said Elise in astonishment; "those are company gowns, and there's no company here!"
"No, there's no company here, but put them on, as I tell you. I want to see how they look."
"I don't see what's the matter with mother," said Elise, as they went upstairs; "she's been restless and fidgety all day. And now the idea of telling us to put on those new frocks!"
"I just as lieve do it," said Patty; "they're awfully pretty ones, and I want to see how they look myself."
When the girls went downstairs they found Mrs. Farrington already in the drawing-room.
She herself wore a more elaborate toilette than usual, and there seemed to be an extra abundance of flowers and lights.
"What is the matter?" said Elise. "There's something about the atmosphere of this house that betokens a party; but I don't see any party. Is there any party, mother?"
"I don't see any, my child," said Mrs. Farrington, smiling.
"Where's father?" asked Elise.
"He's out," said her mother; "we're waiting for dinner until he comes."
Just then a ring was heard at the front door-bell.
"There's your father now," said Mrs. Farrington abruptly; "Patty, my dear, won't you run up to my bedroom and get me my vinaigrette?"
"Why, you have it on, Mrs. Farrington," said Patty, in surprise; "it's hanging from your chatelaine."
"Oh, yes, of course; so it is! But I mean my other one—my gold one. Oh, no; I don't want two vinaigrettes, do I? I mean, won't you run up and get me a handkerchief?"
"Why, mother!" exclaimed Elise, in surprise; "ring for Lisette, or at least let me go. Don't send Patty."
"No, I want Patty to go," said Mrs. Farrington decidedly. "Please go, my child, and get me a handkerchief from the drawer in my dressing-table. Get the one that is fourth from the top, in the second pile."
"Certainly," said Patty, and she ran upstairs, wondering what whim possessed her hostess to send her guest, though ever so willing, on her errand.
Patty had some little difficulty in finding the right handkerchief, in spite of the explicit directions, and when she again reached the drawingroom Mr. Farrington was there, and both he and his wife were smiling broadly. Elise, too, seemed overcome with merriment, and Patty paused in the doorway, saying: "What is the matter with you people? Please let me into the joke, too!"
"Do you want to know what is the matter?" asked Mrs. Farrington, as she took the handkerchief from Patty's hand. "Well, go and look behind those curtains, and see what's in the alcove."
"I suppose," said Patty, as she deliberately walked the length of the long drawing-room, "you've been buying the Venus of Milo, and it's just been sent home, and you've set it up here behind these curtains. Well, I shall be pleased to admire it, I'm sure!"
She drew the crimson curtains apart, and right before her, instead of a marble statue, stood her father and Nan!
Then such an exciting time as there was!
Patty threw her arms around them both at once, and everybody was laughing, and they all talked at the same time, and Patty understood at last why they had been directed to put on their new dresses.
"Can it be possible that this is my little girl!" exclaimed Mr. Fairfield, as he drew Patty down up on his knee, quite as he used to when she was really a little girl.
"Nonsense!" cried Nan; "you haven't changed a bit, Patty, except to grow about half an inch taller, and to be wearing a remarkably pretty dress."
"And you people haven't changed a bit, either," declared Patty; "and oh, I'm SO glad to see you!"
She flew back and forth from one of her parents to the other, pinching them, to make sure, as she said, that they were really there.
"And now tell me all about it," she said, looking at the others; "did you all know they were coming?"
"No," said Mrs. Farrington; "Mr. Farrington and I have known it for some weeks, but we didn't dare tell Elise, for she's such a chatterbox she never could have kept the secret, and we wanted so much to surprise you."
"Well, you HAVE surprised me," said Patty; "and it's the loveliest surprise I ever had. Oh, what fun it will be to take you benighted people around to see Paris."
So Elise declared it was a party after all, and the dinner was a very merry one, and the whole evening was spent in gay chatter about the winter just past, and making plans for the summer to come.
Patty didn't gather very definitely what these plans were, but she soon learned that Mr. and Mrs. Fairfield had come to Paris really to get her, and then they were going on to London; and where else, Patty neither knew nor cared.
The Farringtons were to return soon to America, and so the whole change of outlook was so sudden that Patty was bewildered.
"You look as if you didn't quite know yet what has happened," said Mr. Fairfield to Patty, as the whole party stood in the hall saying their good-nights.
"I don't, papa," said Patty; "but I'm very happy. I've had a delightful winter, and Mr. and Mrs. Farrington have been most beautifully kind, and Elise is just the dearest chum in the world; but you know, papa, home is where the heart is, and my heart belongs just to you and Nan, and so now I feel that I am home again at last."
"And we're mighty glad to have you, little girl, again in our heart and home. It was pretty lonesome without you all winter in New York. But now we're all three together again, and we'll help each other enjoy the good time that's coming."
"It seems too good to be true," said Patty, as she kissed her parents good-night, and ran away to all sorts of happy dreams.