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Patty's Butterfly Days
by Carolyn Wells
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"Let's walk," said Patty, when Mona proposed the motor-car. "It's not far, and its lovely and cool now."

So the two girls strolled along the boardwalk, and then turned inland toward the Sayres' place.

Patty wore a white, lacy, frilly frock, with touches of pale yellow ribbon here and there. Her hat was of the broad-leafed, flapping variety, circled with a wreath of yellow flowers. Patty could wear any colour, and the dainty, cool-looking costume was very becoming.

Mona looked very well in light green chiffon, but she hadn't Patty's liking for simplicity of detail, and her heavy satin sash and profusion of jingling ornaments detracted from the airiness of her light gown. Her hat was of triangular shape, with a green cockade, and perched jauntily on her befrizzed hair, gave her a somewhat stunning effect.

"You'd look a lot better, Mona," said Patty, straightforwardly, "if you didn't curl your hair so tightly."

"That's all very well for you to say," returned Mona, a little pettishly, "for your hair is naturally curly, and you don't have to use hot tongs."

"Some day I'll show you how to wave it more loosely; it'll be prettier than those kinky frizzes."

"Well, these won't last long. The curl comes out of my hair as soon as it's in. And it leaves straight wisps sticking out all over."

"That's just it. To-morrow I'll show you a wiser and a better plan of curling it."

"I wish you would, Patty. There are lots of things I want you to advise me about, if you will."

This showed an unusually docile spirit in Mona, and Patty began to think that she might help the girl in many ways during their stay together.

They turned in at the Sayres' beautiful home, and found the grounds gaily decked for the garden party. Bunting and banners of various nations were streaming here and there. Huge Japanese umbrellas shaded rustic settees, and gay little tents dotted the lawn.

The girls went to the veranda, where Mrs. Sayre and her two daughters were receiving their guests. There they were introduced to several out-of-town visitors who were staying with the Sayres.

Captain Sayre, in a most impressive looking white uniform, asked Patty to walk round the grounds with him.

"For," said he, as they strolled away, "there's nothing to do at a garden party BUT walk round the grounds, is there?"

"Indeed there is!" cried Patty. "There's lots to do. There's tennis and croquet and quoits and other games I see already."

"Too hot for such things," declared the captain.

"Then, these tents all about, have interesting inhabitants. There's a fortune teller in one, I know."

"Fortune tellers are never interesting. They just make up a lot of stuff with no sense to it."

"But lots of things with no sense to them are interesting," laughed Patty. "I begin to think, Captain Sayre, that you're blase. I never met any one before who was really blase. Do tell me how it feels."

"Nonsense, child, you're poking fun at me. I'm not blase at all."

Captain Sayre was not more than five or six years older than Patty, but he had the air of a man of the world, while Patty's greatest charm was her simple, unsophisticated manner.

"I wish you were," she said, a little regretfully; "all the boys I know are nice, enthusiastic young people, like myself, and I'd like some one to be different, just for a change."

"Well, I can't. I assure you, I'm both nice and enthusiastic, if not so awfully young."

Patty smiled up at him. "Prove it," she said, gaily.

"All right, I'll prove it by poking an inquisitive nose into every tent on the place. Come on."

They went the rounds of the gay little festival, and so vivacious and entertaining did the captain prove, that Patty confessed frankly that she had misjudged him.

"You're NOT blase," she declared. "I never saw any one less so. If you fight with as much energy as you enjoy yourself you must be a fine soldier indeed!"

"Oh, I am!" returned the captain, laughing. "I'm one of Uncle Sam's noblest heroes! He hasn't realised it yet, because I've not had a real good chance to prove it, but I shall, some day."

"Perhaps you could show other people, without waiting for Uncle Sam's turn."

A slight earnestness in Patty's tone made Captain Sayre look at her quickly.

"I'll show you now," he said. "Give me chance for a brave, heroic deed, and watch me hit it off!"

"I will!" said Patty, with twinkling eyes. "But it's Secret Service. I mean Sealed Orders. I'll lead you to it, but you may 'hit it off' without realising it."

"Lead on, fair lady! From now, you are my superior officer."

But Patty turned the subject then, and the pair went gaily on, stopping often to chat with groups of young people, or to admire some decorations.

At last, Patty adroitly managed that they should pause near Mona, who stood talking with Lora Sayre and Jack Pennington. Patty's quick eyes saw that Mona was ill at ease, and that the others were including her in their conversation merely through a perfunctory politeness.

Patty, with her captain in tow, went up to the trio, and all joined in merry chatter. Then soon, with a gay, challenging glance at him, Patty said:

"Now Captain Sayre, you have the opportunity you wanted, to ask Miss Galbraith to go with you to the fortune teller's tent."

For a brief instant the young man looked dumfounded, but immediately recovering himself, he turned to Mona and said, gracefully:

"Miss Fairfield has told you of the secret hope I cherish; will you grant it, Miss Galbraith?"

Mona, flattered, and a little flustered at this attention, consented, and the two walked away together.

Jack Pennington gave Patty an understanding glance, but Lora Sayre said, "How funny for Edgar to do that!" Then realising the impolite implication, she added, "He's so infatuated with you, Patty. I'm surprised to see him leave you."

"Soldier men are very fickle," said Patty, assuming a mock woe- begone expression; "but your cousin is a most interesting man, Lora."

"Yes, indeed; Edgar is splendid. He has lived in the Philippines and other queer places, and he tells such funny stories. He is most entertaining. But I see mother beckoning to me; I must go and see what she wants."

Lora ran away, and Jack Pennington remained with Patty.

"You're a brick!" he exclaimed; "to dispose of that marvellous military model, just so you could play with me!"

"That wasn't my only motive," said Patty, gazing after the captain and Mona—as they stood at the door of the fortune teller's tent. "He is such a charming man, I wanted to share him with my friend."

"H'm—you say that to tease me, I suppose. But I remember, before he arrived on the scene, you thought ME such a charming man that you wanted to share ME with your friend."

"Oh, yes," agreed Patty, lightly, "and you promised that you'd BE shared. So don't forget it!"

"As if I'd EVER forget anything YOU say to me! By the way, Mona says she's going to have a house party. What do you s'pose it'll be like?"

"I s'pose it'll be lovely. She hasn't talked to me about it yet, for we really haven't had time. The new chaperon came to-day."

"Is she a veritable Dragon? Won't she let you girls do anything?"

Patty laughed. "I don't think DRAGON exactly describes her. And she hasn't denied us anything as yet. But then, she only came this morning."

"I shall call soon, and make friends with her. I'm always liked by chaperons."

"Yes, Mrs. Hastings, for example," said Patty, laughing at the recollection of the night before.

"Oh, all chaperons look alike to me," said Jack. "Now, let's go over and hear the band play."

Across the garden, a fine orchestra was making music, and Patty hummed in tune, as they strolled over the lawns. As they neared a group of young people who were eagerly chatting, Guy Martin called out, "Come on, you two, you're just the ones we want."

"WHAT for?" queried Jack.

"To help plan the Pageant. You'll be in it, won't you, Patty? It's for charity, you know."

"I can't promise until I know more about it. What would I have to do?"

"Oh, you have to be part of a float. Stand on a high, wabbly pedestal, you know, and wave your arms about like a classic marble figure."

"But I never saw a classic marble figure wave her arms about," objected Patty; "indeed, the most classic ones don't have arms to wave. Look at the Milo Venus."

"I can't look at her, she isn't here. But I look at you, and I see you're just the one for 'The Spirit of the Sea.' Isn't she, Lora?"

But Lora Sayre had set her heart on that part for herself, so she said, in a half-absent way, "Yes, I think so."

"You THINK so!" put in Jack Pennington. "I KNOW so! Patty would make a perfect 'Spirit of the Sea.' I vote for her!"

"I'm not a candidate," said Patty, who had divined Lora's wish. "I won't agree to take any special part until I know more about the whole thing."

"Well, you'll soon know all about it," went on Guy. "We're going to have a meeting soon to arrange for the parts, and plan everything."

"Have that meeting at our house, won't you?" asked Patty, suddenly. "I mean at 'Red Chimneys.' Won't you all meet there?"

"Why, yes," said Guy. "We'll be very glad to. I tell you, there's lots to be done."

Patty had made her suggestion because she knew that if the committee met at "Red Chimneys," they couldn't help giving Mona a good part in the Pageant, and if not, she couldn't feel sure what might happen.

But Lora didn't look satisfied. "I thought you'd meet here," she said, "because mother is chairman of the Float Committee."

"I know," returned Guy, "but, for that very reason, she'll have to have a lot of other meetings here. And as I'm supposed to look after the Sea Float, I thought it a kindness to your mother to have our meetings elsewhere."

"Oh, I don't care," said Lora, "have them where you like."

Lora turned to speak to some people passing, and then walked away with them.

"Now SHE'S mad!" commented Jack. "That's the beautiful part of getting up a show; all the girls get mad, one after another."

"I'M going to get mad!" announced Patty, deliberately.

"You are!" exclaimed Lena Lockwood, in amazement. "I didn't know you COULD get mad!"

"Patty gets about as mad as a small Angora kitten," said Jack.

"Yes," agreed Patty, "and I can tell you, kittens, like cats, get awful mad, if they want to. Now I'm going to get mad, if you people don't tell me all about this show, NOW! I don't want to wait for meetings and things."

"I'll tell you now," said Guy, speaking very fast. "It's to be a Pageant, a great and glittering Pageant, made up of floats with tableaux on 'em, and bands of music playing, and banners streaming, and coloured fire firing, all over Spring Beach."

"That tells some, but not all," said Patty. "You tell me more, Lena."

"Well, the Floats will represent the Sea and different rivers and all sorts of things like that. And they are all under different committees, and every chairman has to look after her own people."

"And whose people are we?" demanded Patty.

"Mrs. Sayre has the general committee of floats under her charge."

"But the Sea Float is my especial care, Patty," broke in Guy Martin, "and I want you to promise to be Spirit of the Sea. Won't you?"

"Not to-day, thank you. I have to think these matters over slowly. What do you want Mona Galbraith to be?"

A silence was the response to this question, and then Guy said:

"I hadn't put her name down yet, but I daresay she'll be asked to take some part."

"I daresay she WILL," returned Patty, "and a GOOD part, too! Why can't she be Spirit of the Sea?"

"Nonsense, that part requires a sylph-like girl, such as—such as you or Lora. Mona Galbraith is too heavy for any self-respecting spirit."

"Well, never mind," said Patty, "there must be plenty of other good parts that require more substantial specimens of humanity. Arrange your meetings at our house, Guy, and we'll fix it all up then."

They changed the subject then, for Mona and Captain Sayre came walking toward them.

"Get good fortunes?" asked Jack.

"Very much so," returned the captain. "Miss Galbraith is to become a Duchess later on, and I am to achieve the rank of a Rear- Admiral. What more could we ask?"

"Nothing!" exclaimed Patty. "You'll make a gorgeous Duchess, Mona. I can see you now, prancing around with a jewelled coronet on your noble brow."

"Can't you see me," said Captain Sayre, "prancing around in Admiral's regalia?"

"But I've never seen you prance at all. I supposed you were too dignified."

"You did! Well, you never were more mistaken in your life. Watch me, now." The orchestra was playing in lively time, and Captain Sayre began to do a lively dance, which was something between a Sailor's Hornpipe and a Double Shuffle.

He danced wonderfully well, and as Patty looked at him the spirit of the music inspired her, and throwing off her hat, she prettily caught up the sides of her frilled skirt, and danced, facing him. He smiled at her, changed his step to a more graceful fancy dance, and they danced an impromptu duet.

Others gathered about to watch the pretty sight, and Patty soon discovered that, though she was an accomplished dancer, the captain was far more familiar with the latest styles and steps. But he suited his mood to hers, and they advanced, retreated, and bowed, almost as if they had practised together for the purpose. Loud applause greeted them as the band ceased playing, and they were urged to repeat the dance.

"No," said Captain Sayre, laughing; "you forget it is a summer's day, and that sort of prancing is better suited to a winter evening. I'm going to take Miss Fairfield away to the lemonade tent, before she faints from utter exhaustion."

"I'm not tired," protested Patty, but her cheeks were pink from the exercise, and she went gladly for the refreshing lemonade.

"You're a wonderful dancer," said Captain Sayre. "Who taught you?"

Patty mentioned the name of the teacher she had had in New York. "But," she said, "I haven't had any lessons of late, and I don't know the new fancy dances."

"Some of them are beautiful; you really ought to know them. Mayn't I call on you, and teach you a few new steps?"

"I'd love to have you do so. I'm staying with Miss Galbraith, you know. But you're not here for long, are you?"

"I'll be here about a week, and I may return later for a short time. At any rate we can have a few dances. I never saw any one so quick to catch the spirit of the music. You love dancing, don't you?"

"Yes, I do. But I love it more in cooler weather."

"Oh, this hot spell won't last long. And it's so cool mornings. Suppose I run over to see you to-morrow morning. May I?"

"Do," said Patty, cordially. "Mona and I will be glad to have you."

"But I'm coming to see YOU" said the captain, a little pointedly.

"You're coming to see us both," said Patty, very decidedly.



CHAPTER VIII

THE HOUSE PARTY ARRIVES

"Red Chimneys" was in a turmoil. The house party had been invited, and the house party had accepted their invitations, and all would have been well had it not been for Aunt Adelaide. Somehow or other she managed to upset every plan, throw cold water on every pleasure, and acted as a general wet blanket on all the doings of Patty and Mona.

She was not an over strict chaperon; indeed, she was more than ready to let the girls do whatever they chose; but she dictated the way it should be done and continually put forth not only suggestions but commands directly opposed to the wishes of the young people.

Often these dictates concerned the merest details. If the girls had a merry luncheon party invited, that was the very day Aunt Adelaide chose for a special rest-cure treatment, and demanded that the whole house be kept quiet as a church. On the other hand, if the girls were going off for the day, that was the occasion Aunt Adelaide felt lonesome, and declared herself cruelly neglected to be left at home alone.

But it was Mona's nature to submit to the inevitable,—though not always gracefully. And it was Patty's nature to smooth away rough places by her never-failing tact and good nature. The greatest trouble was with the servants. Those who came in contact with the nervous, fussy lady were harassed beyond endurance by her querulous and contradictory orders. The cook declared herself unable to prepare Mrs. Parson's "messes" acceptably, and threatened every other day to leave. But Patty's coaxing persuasions, and Mona's promise of increased wages induced her to remain.

Remonstrance with Aunt Adelaide did no good at all. She assumed an air of injured innocence, asserted her entire indifference to the details of Mona's housekeeping,—and then, proceeded to interfere just the same.

As far as possible, the girls had arranged the house party without consulting her; but, even so, she continually offered her advice and obtruded her opinions until Mona lost patience.

"Aunt Adelaide," she said, when Mrs. Parsons insisted that Patty should give up the suite of rooms she occupied to some of the arriving guests, "when Patty came to me I gave her the best rooms, and she's going to stay in them. I know Mrs. Kenerley is bringing her baby and nurse, and that's why I gave her rooms on the third floor, that the baby might not disturb any one."

"It's too high up for the dear child," argued Aunt Adelaide. "I'd like to have her nearer me."

"You wouldn't, if she's in the habit of crying all night," said Patty. "I'm quite willing to give up my pretty rooms, but Mona won't let me, and I never quarrel with my hostess' decisions."

"Meaning, I suppose, that I do," said Aunt Adelaide, querulously. "Of course, you girls know more than I do. I'm only a poor, old, set aside nobody. I couldn't expect to be listened to, even when I advise you for your own good."

Patty well knew that any response to this sort of talk was useless, so she said, lightly, "We want you mostly for ornament, Aunt Adelaide. If you'll put on one of your prettiest dresses, and some of that lovely old lace of yours, and your amethyst jewellery, and be on hand to welcome our guests this afternoon, Mona and I will relieve you of all bother about household arrangements."

This mollified Mrs. Parsons somewhat, for she dearly loved to "dress up" and receive company, so she went away to select her costume.

Patty had been at "Red Chimneys" little more than a week, but already the influence of her taste could be seen in the household. Some of the more gaudy and heavy ornaments, which had been provided by a professional decorator, had been removed, and their places filled by palms, or large plain bowls of fresh flowers.

The cook's extravagant ideas were curbed, and the meals were now less heavily elaborate, and the viands more delicate and carefully chosen. The service was simpler, and the whole household had lost much of its atmosphere of vulgar ostentation. Mona, too, was improved. Her frocks were more dainty and becoming, and Patty had persuaded her to wear less jewellery and ornamentation. Patty had also taught her to wave her hair in pretty, loose curls that were far more effective than the tight frizzes she had worn. The plans for the house party were complete, and, to the girls, entirely satisfactory.

Adele Kenerley had been a school friend of Mona's, and was coming with her husband and baby girl. Daisy Dow, another of Mona's schoolmates, was coming from Chicago, and Roger Farrington and two other young men would complete the party, which had been invited for a week.

Patty had not accomplished all her wishes, without some difficulties. Several times Mona had balked at Patty's decrees, and had insisted on following her own inclinations. But by tactful persuasion Patty had usually won out, and in all important matters had carried the day. It was, therefore, with honest pride and satisfaction that she looked over the house just before the arrival of the guests.

She had herself superintended the arrangement of the beautiful flowers for which the Galbraiths' garden was famous, and she had, in a moment of victory, persuaded Mona to put the men servants into white duck instead of their ornate, gilt-braided livery, and the maids into white linen uniforms.

"In this weather," she said, "let's make our keynote 'coolness,' and your guests will have a better time than if we overpower them with your winter splendour."

Mona began to see that coolness and splendour were rarely compatible, but she was also beginning to see things as Patty saw them, so she agreed. The girls had not dared to advise Aunt Adelaide as to costume, for just so sure as they advised something, that contradictory lady would be sure to insist on something else.

"But I think I'd better coax her to wear that purple satin," said Mona, "for if I don't, she'll surely put it on, and if I do, she won't!"

"Wait and see," said Patty. "I took pains to hang her lavender crepe de chine right in the front of her wardrobe, and I hope she'll let her eagle eye light on that, and seek no further!"

"Patty, you're a born conspirator. I hope you'll marry a foreign diplomat, and help him manage his international intrigues."

"Oh, I could manage the intrigues and the diplomat both, I expect."

"I'm sure you could! Now, let's fly and get dressed. The Kenerleys will come soon and I'm crazy to see Adele's darling baby."

Soon after, the girls going downstairs in their fresh, light summer frocks, were much pleased to see that Patty's ruse had succeeded. Aunt Adelaide was gracefully posed in a veranda chair, wearing the lavender gown, a collar of fine old lace, and her amethyst necklace. She looked gentle and charming, and seemed in high good humour.

"I hope you like this gown," she said. "I hesitated a long time, but finally chose it because it matched my necklace."

"It's lovely," said Patty, enthusiastically; "and it suits you awfully well. Look, Mona, there they come!"

Another moment, and a rosy-cheeked young matron flew into Mona's arms and greeted her after the most approved manner of reunited school friends.

"You dearest old thing!" she cried. "You haven't changed a bit, except to grow better looking! And, Mona, here's my husband,—Jim, his name is,—but HERE'S the baby!"

A nurse stepped forward, bringing a mite of humanity, who was laughing and waving her little fat arms, as if delighted to be of the party.

"What an angel of a baby!" cried Mona, taking the smiling infant in her arms. "And a solid angel too," she added, as the child proved more substantial than she had appeared.

"Yes; she's nearly two years old, and she weighs exactly right, according to the best schedules. She's a perfect schedule baby in every way."

Then the small piece of perfection was handed over to what was probably a schedule nurse, and general introductions followed.

Patty liked the Kenerleys at once. They were breezy and pleasant mannered, and had an affable way of making themselves at home.

"Mona," said Mr. Kenerley,—"I shall have to call you that, for I doubt if my wife has ever even mentioned your last name to me, and if she has, I have forgotten it,—Mona, how long does one have to be a guest at 'Red Chimneys' before he is allowed to go for a dip in that tempting looking ocean I perceive hard by?"

"Oh, only about ten minutes," said Mona, laughing at his impatience. "Do you want to go now, alone, or will you wait until later? Some men are coming soon who would probably join you for a swim. I expect Bill Farnsworth."

"DO you! Dear old Bill! I haven't seen him for years. But he's so big, he'd take up all the surf,—I think I'll go on by myself. And I know you girls have lots of gossip to talk over—so, I'll see you later."

Jim Kenerley set off for the Galbraith bathing pavilion, easily discernible by its ornate red chimneys, and Mona turned to have a good old-fashioned chat with Adele.

"Why, where is she?" she exclaimed, and Aunt Adelaide petulantly explained that Patty and Adele had gone to look after the baby. "Pretty poor manners, I call it, to leave me here all alone. It never occurred to them that I'd like to see the baby, too!"

"Never mind, Aunt Adelaide, you'll have lots of time to see that baby. And, of course, Adele wants to go to her rooms and get things arranged. You and I will wait here for the next arrivals. Laurence Cromer is due about now. He's an artist, you know, and he'll think you're a picture in that exquisite gown." Much mollified at these remarks, Aunt Adelaide rearranged her draperies, called for another cushion, had a screen lowered, and sat slowly waving a small fan, in expectance of the artist's admiration. And perhaps the artist might have given an admiring glance to the picturesque lady in lavender had it not happened that just as he came up the veranda steps Patty appeared in the doorway. Her pink cheeks were a little flushed from a romp with the baby, a few stray curls had been pulled from their ribbon by baby's chubby hands, and the laughing face was so fair and winsome that Laurence Cromer stood stock-still and gazed at her. Then Mona intercepted his vision, but after the necessary introductions and greetings, the young artist's eyes kept wandering toward Patty, as if drawn by a magnet.

Young Cromer was a clever artist, though not, as yet, exceedingly renowned. He advertised his calling, however, in his costume and appearance. He wore white flannels, but he affected a low rolling collar and a soft silk tie. His hair was just a trifle longer than convention called for, and his well-cut features were marred by a drooping, faraway expression which, he fondly hoped, denoted soulfulness.

Patty laughed gaily at him.

"Don't stare at me, Mr. Cromer," she said, saucily. "Baby May pulled my hair down, but I have the grace to be ashamed of my untidiness."

"It's exquisite," said Cromer, looking at her admiringly; "a sweet disorder in the dress."

"Oh, I know that lady you quote! She always had her shoestrings untied and her hat on crooked!"

Cromer looked amazed, as if a saint had been guilty of heresy, and Patty laughed afresh at his astonished look.

"If you want to see sweet disorder in dress, here's your chance," cried Mona. "Here comes Daisy Dow, and she's one who never has her hat on straight, by any chance!"

Sure enough, as a big car whizzed up under the porte-cochere, a girl jumped out, with veils flying, coat flapping, and gloves, bag, and handkerchief dropping, as she ran up the steps.

"Here I am, Mona!" she cried, and her words were unmistakably true.

Daisy Dow was from Chicago, and she looked as if she had blown all the way from there to Spring Beach. She was, or had been, prettily dressed, but, as Mona had predicted, her hat was awry, her collar askew, and her shoelace untied.

The poetical idea of "a sweet disorder in the dress" was a bit overdone in Daisy's case, but her merry, breezy laugh, and her whole-souled joy at seeing Mona again rather corresponded with her disarranged finery.

"I'm all coming to pieces," she said, apologetically, as she was introduced to the others. "But we flew along so fast, it's a wonder there's anything left of me. Can't I go and tidy up, Mona?"

"Yes, indeed. Come along with me, Daisy. They're all here now, Patty, except Bill and Roger. You can look after them."

"All right, I will. I don't know Mr. Bill, but that won't matter. I know Roger, and of course the other one will be the gentle Bill."

"'Gentle' is good!" laughed Mona. "Little Billy is about six feet eight and weighs a ton."

"That doesn't frighten me," declared Patty, calmly. "I've seen bigger men than that, if it was in a circus! Skip along, girls, but come back soon. I think this house party is too much given to staying in the house. Are you for a dip in the ocean before dinner, Mr. Cromer?"

"No; not if I may sit here with you instead."

"Oh, Aunt Adelaide and I are delighted to keep you here. All the guests seem to run away from me. I know not why!"

Naughty Patty drew a mournful sigh, and looked as if she had lost her last friend, which look, on her pretty, saucy face, was very fetching indeed.

"I'll never run away from you!" declared Mr. Cromer, in so earnest a tone that Patty laughed.

"You'd better!" she warned. "I'm so contrary minded by nature that the more people run away from me the better I like them."

"Ah," said Laurence Cromer, gravely; "then I shall start at once. Mrs. Parsons, will you not go for a stroll with me round the gardens?"

Aunt Adelaide rose with alacrity, and willingly started off with the young artist, who gave not another glance in Patty's direction.

"H'm," said Patty to herself, as the pair walked away. "H'm! I rather like that young man! He has some go to him." She laughed aloud at her own involuntary joke, and stood, watching Aunt Adelaide's mincing steps, as she tripped along the garden path.

As Patty stood thus, she did not see or hear a large and stalwart young man come up on the veranda, and, smiling roguishly, steal up behind her. But in a moment, she felt herself clasped in two strong arms, and a hearty kiss resounded on her pink cheek.



CHAPTER IX

BIG BILL FARNSWORTH

"How are you?" exclaimed a voice as hearty as the kiss, and Patty, with a wild spring, jumped from the encircling arms, and turned to face a towering giant, who, she knew at once, must be Mr. Farnsworth.

"How DARE you!" she cried, stamping her foot, and flashing furious glances, while her dimpled cheeks burned scarlet.

"Whoopee! Wowly-wow-wow! I thought you were Mona! Oh, can you EVER forgive me? But, no, of course you can't! So pronounce my doom! Shall I dash myself into the roaring billows and seek a watery grave? Oh, no, no! I see by your haughty glare that is all too mild a punishment! Then, have me tarred and feathered, and drawn and quartered and ridden on a rail! Send for the torturers! Send for the Inquisitioners! But, remember this! I didn't know I was kissing a stranger. I thought I was kissing my cousin Mona. If I had known,—oh, my dear lady,—if I had KNOWN,—I should have kissed you TWICE!"

This astonishing announcement was doubtless induced by the fact that Patty had been unable to resist his wheedlesome voice and frank, ingenuous manner, and she had indulged in one of her most dimpled smiles.

With her face still flushed by the unexpected caress, and her golden curls still rumpled from the baby's mischievous little fingers, Patty looked like a harum-scarum schoolgirl.

"Be careful," she warned, shaking a finger at him. "I was just about to forgive you because of your mistake in identity, but if you make me really angry, I'll NEVER forgive you."

"Come back, and ALL will be forgiven," said the young man, mock- dramatically, as he held out his arms for a repetition of the scene.

"This is your punishment," said Patty, gaily, paying no attention to his fooling. "You are not to tell of this episode! I know you'll want to, for it IS a good joke, but I should be unmercifully teased. And as you owe me something for—for putting me in a false position——"

"Delightful position!" murmured the young man.

"You owe me SOMETHING," went on Patty, severely, "and I claim your promise not to tell any one,—not even Mona,—what you did."

"I WON'T tell," was the fervent reply. "I swear I won't tell! It shall be OUR secret,—yours and mine. Our sweet secret, and we'll have another some day."

"What!"

"Another secret, I mean. What DID you think I meant? Any one is liable to have a secret,—any two, I mean. And we might chance to be the two."

"You're too big to talk such nonsense," and Patty ran a scornful eye over the six feet three of broad and weighty masculinity.

"Oh, I KNOW how big I am. PLEASE don't rub THAT in! I've heard it ever since I was out of dresses. Can't you flatter me by pretending I'm small?"

"I could make you FEEL small, if I told you what I really thought of you."

"Well, do that, then. What DO you think of me?"

"I think you very rude and—"

"You don't think any such thing,—because you KNOW I mistook you for Mona, and it's not rude to kiss one's cousin."

"Is she your cousin? She never told me so."

"Well, her grandfather's stepdaughter's sister-in-law married my grandmother's second cousin twice removed."

"Oh, then you're not very nearly related."

"No; that's why we don't look more alike. But, do you know my name? Or shall I introduce myself?"

"I fancy you're Big Bill Farnsworth, aren't you?"

"Yes,—but DON'T call me big, PLEASE!"

"No, I'll call you Little Billee. How's that?"

"That's lovely! Now, what may I call you?"

"Miss Fairfield."

The big man made an easy and graceful bow. "I am delighted to meet you, Miss Fair—Fair, with golden hair. Pardon me, I've a terrible memory for names, but a good reserve fund of poetry."

"Miss Fairfield, my name is. Pray don't forget it again."

"If you're so curt, I shall think it's a Fairfield and no favour! You're not mad at me, are you?"

"Certainly not. One can't get mad at an utter stranger."

"Oh, I don't think people who kiss people can be classed as utter strangers."

"Well, you will be, if you refer to that mistake again! Now, remember, I forbid you ever to mention it,—to me, or to any one else. Here comes Mona."

Mona and Daisy Dow appeared in the doorway, and seeing Bill, made a dash at him. The young man kissed Mona heartily, and as he did so, he smiled at Patty over Mona's shoulder. He shook hands with Daisy, and soon the three were chatting gaily of old school days.

Then Roger Farrington came. Not all of Patty's New York friends had liked Mona, but Roger had always declared the girl was a fine nature, spoiled by opulent surroundings. He had gladly accepted the invitation to the house party, and came in anticipation of an all-round good time.

"Hooray! Patty! Here's me!" was his salutation, as he ran up the steps.

"Oh, Roger!" cried Patty, and she grasped his hand and showed unfeigned gladness at seeing him. Patty was devoted to her friends, and Roger was one of her schoolday chums. Mona came forward and greeted the new guest, and introduced him to the strangers.

"Isn't this just too downright jolly!" Roger exclaimed, as he looked at the sea and shore, and then brought his gaze back to the merry group on the veranda. "Haven't you any chaperon person? Or are we all kids together?"

"We have two chaperons," announced Patty, proudly. "One, you may see, just down that rose path. The lady in trailing lavender is our house chaperon, Mrs. Parsons. The impressive looking personage beside her is an artist of high degree. But our other chaperon,— ah, here she comes! Mrs. Kenerley."

Adele Kenerley appeared then, looking very sweet and dainty in her fresh summer frock, and laughingly expressed her willingness to keep the house party in order and decorum.

"It won't be so very easy, Mrs. Kenerley," said Roger. "My word for it, these are wilful and prankish girls. I've known Miss Fairfield for years, and she's capable of any mischief. Miss Galbraith, now, is more sedate."

"Nonsense!" cried Patty. "I'm the sedate one."

"You don't look it," observed Mona. "Your hair is a sight!"

"It is," said Laurence Cromer, coming up and catching the last remark; "a sight for gods and men! Miss Fairfield, I beseech you, don't do it up in fillets and things; leave it just as it is, DO!"

"Indeed I won't," said Patty, and she ran away to her own room to put her curly locks in order. She was quite shocked at the mirrored picture of tousled tresses, and did it all up a little more severely than usual, by way of amends.

"May I come in?" and Daisy Dow, after a quick tap at the door, walked in, without waiting for an answer.

"What lovely hair!" she exclaimed, as Patty pushed in more and more hairpins. "You're a perfect duck, anyway. I foresee I shall be terribly jealous of you. But I say, Patty,—I MAY call you Patty, mayn't I?—don't you dare to steal Big Bill Farnsworth away from me! He's my own particular property and I don't allow trespassing."

There was an earnest tone underlying Daisy's gay words that made Patty look up at her quickly. "Are you engaged to him?" she asked.

"No,—not exactly. At least, it isn't announced. But—"

"Oh, pshaw, don't trouble to explain. I won't bother your big adorer. But if he chooses to speak to me, I shan't be purposely rude to him. I like boys and young men, Miss Dow, and I like to talk and play and dance with them. But I've no SPECIAL interest in any ONE, and if you have, I shall certainly respect it,—be sure of that."

"You're a brick, Patty! I was sure you were the minute I laid my two honest grey eyes on you. But you're 'most too pretty for my peace of mind. Bill adores pretty girls."

"Oh, don't cross bridges before you come to them. Probably he'll never look at little me, and if he should, I'll be too busy to see him. There ARE others, you know."

Reassured by Patty's indifference, Daisy vowed her everlasting friendship and adoration, and the two went downstairs arm in arm.

The veranda presented a gay scene—afternoon tea was in progress, and as some of the Spring Beach young people had dropped in, there were several groups at small tables, or sitting on the veranda steps and railings.

"I've saved a lovely seat for you," said Laurence Cromer, advancing to Patty; "just to show you that I'm of a forgiving nature."

"Why, what have I done to be forgiven for?" asked Patty, opening her blue eyes wide in surprise.

"You've spoiled your good looks, for one thing. You HAD a little head sunning over with curls, and now you have the effect of a nice little girl who has washed her face and hands and neatly brushed her hair."

"But one can't go around like Slovenly Peter," said Patty, laughing, as she took the wicker chair he placed for her.

"Why not, if one is a Pretty Peter?"

"Oh, pshaw, I see you don't know me very well. I never talk to people who talk about me."

"Good gracious, how can they help it?" "Well, you see, I'm accustomed to my girl and boy friends, whom I've known for years. But here, somehow, everybody seems more grown up and societyfied."

"How old are you?"

"It's my impression that that's a rude question, though I'm not sure."

"It isn't, because you're not old enough to make it rude. Come, how old?"

"Nineteen, please, sir."

"Well, that's quite old enough to drop boy and girl ways and behave as a grown-up."

"But I don't want to," and Patty's adorable pout proved her words.

"That doesn't matter. Your 'reluctant feet' have to move on whether they wish to or not. Are you bashful?"

"Sorta," and Patty put her finger in her mouth, with a shy simper.

"You're anything but bashful! You're a coquette!"

"Oh, no!" and Patty opened her eyes wide in horror. "Oh, kind sir, DON'T say THAT!"

But Cromer paid no heed to her words; he was studying her face. "I'm going to paint you," he announced, "and I shall call it 'Reluctant Feet.' Your head, with its aureole of curls; your wide eyes, your baby chin—"

"Oh, Roger!" cried Patty, as young Farrington came toward her. "What DO you think? Mr. Cromer is going to paint a picture of my head and call it 'Reluctant Feet'! He says so."

"Yes," said Cromer, unconscious of any absurdity; "Miss Fairfield is a fine subject."

"That's better than being called an object," said Roger, joining them, "and you DID look an object, Patty, when I arrived! Your wig was all awry,—and—"

"You haven't a soul for art?" said Cromer, looking solemnly at Roger.

"No, I haven't an artful soul, I fear. How are you getting along, Patty, down here without your fond but strict parents?"

"Getting along finely, Roger. Aunt Adelaide plays propriety, and Mona and I keep house."

"H'm, I'm 'fraid I scared off our long-haired friend," said Roger, as Cromer rose and drifted away. "Never mind, I want to talk to you a little myself. I say, Patsy, don't you let these men flatter you till you're all puffed up with pride and vanity."

"Now, Roger, AM I that kind of a goose?"

"Well, you're blossoming out so, and getting so growny-uppy looking, I'm 'fraid you won't be my little Patty-friend much longer."

"'Deed I shall! Don't you worry about that. How do you think Mona is looking?"

"Fine! Lots better than when I saw her in May. She dresses better, don't you think?"

"Yes, I guess she does," said Patty, demurely, with no hint as to WHY Mona's appearance had improved. "She's an awfully nice girl, Roger."

"Yes, I always said so. And you and she help each other. Sort of reaction, you know. What do we do down here?"

"Oh, there are oceans of things planned. Parties of all sorts, and picnics, and dances, and motor trips, and every old thing. How long can you stay?"

"I'm invited for a week, but I may have to go home sooner. Isn't that Western chap immense?"

For some ridiculous reason, Patty blushed scarlet at the mere mention of Mr. Farnsworth.

"What the—oh, I say, Patty! You're not favouring him, are you? Why, you've only just met him to-day, haven't you?"

"Yes, certainly; I never saw him before. No, I'm not favouring him, as you call it."

"Then why are you the colour of a hard-boiled lobster? Patty! quit blushing, or you'll burn up!"

"Don't, Roger; don't be silly. I'm NOT blushing."

"Oh, no! You're only a delicate shade of crimson vermilion! Well, if you want him, Patty, I'll get him for you. Do you want him now?"

"No! of course I don't! Do be still, Roger! And stop that foolish smiling! Well, then, I'm going to talk to Adele Kenerley."

Patty ran away from Roger, who was decidedly in a teasing mood, and seated herself beside the pretty young matron.

"Such a GOOD child," Mrs. Kenerley was saying; "she NEVER cries, and she's SO loving and affectionate."

"Oh, she's a heavenly baby!" cried Mona, in raptures of appreciation, and then along came the baby's father, fresh from his ocean dip.

"You must choke off my wife," he said, smiling, "if she gets started on a monologue about that infant prodigy! She can keep it up most of the hours out of the twenty-four, and go right over it all again next day!"

"And why not?" cried Mona. "SUCH a baby deserves appreciation. I can hardly wait till to-morrow to wake her up and play with her."

"She's a good enough kiddy," said the proud young father, trying to hide his own enthusiasm.

"Now, Jim," cried his wife, "you know perfectly well you're a bigger idiot about that child than I am! Why, would you believe, Mona—"

"There, there, Adele, if you're going to tell anecdotes of my parental devotion, I'm going to run away! Come on, Farnsworth, let's go for a stroll, and talk over old times."

The two men walked off together, and the party generally broke up. Most of them went to their rooms to rest or dress for dinner, and Patty concluded that she would grasp the opportunity to write a letter to Nan, a task which she enjoyed, but rarely found time for.

"The house party is upon us," she wrote, "and, though they're really very nice, they ARE a little of the west, westy. But there's only one girl, Daisy Dow, who's MUCH that way, and I rather think I can manage her. But already she has warned me not to interfere with her young man! As if I would!"

Just here, Patty's cheeks grew red again, and she changed the subject of her epistolary progress.

"The baby is a perfect darling, and her parents are very nice people. TERRIBLY devoted to the infant, but of course that's to be expected. Roger is a comfort. It's so nice to have an old friend here among all these strangers. Oh, and there's an artist who, I know, spells his art with a big A. He wants to paint me as 'Cherry Ripe' or something, I forget what. But I know his portraits will look just like magazine covers. Though,—I suppose I AM rather of that type myself. Oh, me! I wish I were a tall, dark beauty, with melting brown eyes and midnight tresses, instead of a tow-headed, doll-faced thing. But then, as the poet says, 'We women cannot choose our lot.' I'm in for a good time, there's no doubt about that. We've parties and picnics and pageants piled up mountain high. So if I don't write again very soon, you'll know it's because I'm a Social Butterfly for the time being, and these are my Butterfly Days. Aunt Adelaide is rather nicer than when I last wrote. She gets on her 'company manners,' and that makes her more amiable."

"My goodness gracious!"

This last phrase was spoken aloud, not written, for the low, open window, near which Patty sat writing, was suddenly invaded by a laughing face and a pair of broad, burly shoulders, and Big Bill's big voice said, "Hello, you pretty little poppet!"



CHAPTER X

JUST A SHORT SPIN

"Stop! Look! Listen!" cried Patty, gaily, as the unabashed intruder calmly seated himself on the broad, low window-sill. "Do you consider it good manners to present yourself in this burglarious fashion?"

"Well, you see, my room opens on this same veranda,—indeed the veranda seems to run all around the house on this story,—and so I thought I'd walk about a bit. Then I chanced to spy you, and— well, I'm still spying. Is this your dinky boudoir? How fussy it is."

"I like it so," said Patty, smiling.

"Of course you do. You're fussy yourself."

"I am not! I'm NOT fussy!"

"Oh, I don't mean that the way you think I do. I mean you're all dressed fussy, with pink ribbons and lace tassels and furbelows."

"Yes; I do love frilly clothes. Now, I suppose your ideal girl wears plain tailor-made suits, and stiff white collars, and small hats without much trimming,—just a band and a quill."

"Say, that's where you're 'way off! I like to see girls all dollied up in squffly lace over-skirts,—or whatever you call 'em,—with dinky little bows here and there."

"Is this frock all right, then?" asked Patty, demurely, knowing that her summer afternoon costume was of the very type he had tried to describe.

"Just the ticket! I'm not much on millinery, but you look like an apple blossom trimmed with sunshine."

"Why, you're a poet! Only poets talk like that. I doubt if Mr. Cromer could say anything prettier."

"'Tisn't pretty enough for you. Only a chap like Austin Dobson could make poetry about you."

The earnest sincerity in the big blue eyes of the Westerner robbed the words of any semblance of impertinence, and Patty spoke out her surprise.

"Why, do you read Austin Dobson? I never thought—"

She paused, lest she hurt his feelings by her implication, but Farnsworth went on, quietly:

"You never thought a big, hulking fellow like me could appreciate anything exquisite and dainty, either in poetry or in people," he said. "I don't blame you, Miss Fairfield; I am uncouth, uncultured, and unmannered. But I am fond of books, and, perhaps by the law of contrast, I am especially fond of the Minor Poets."

"You shan't call yourself those horrid names," said Patty, for his tones rang true, and she began to appreciate his honest nature; "no one can be uncouth or uncultured who loves such reading. Don't you love the big poets, too?"

"Yes; but I suppose everybody does that. I say, won't you come outside for a bit? That room is stuffy, and the air out here now is great. Couldn't you skip down with me for a whiff of the sea?"

"Why, I ought to be dressing for dinner."

"Oh, there's lots of time yet. Come on. Don't tell anybody, just fly out at this window, like Peter Pan, and we'll elope for half an hour."

Acting impulsively, Patty swung herself through the low window, and had descended the picturesque outside stairway that led from the upper veranda to the lower one before she remembered Daisy's prohibition.

"Oh, I think I won't go down to the beach," she said, suddenly pausing at the foot of the stairs. "I must go right back."

"Nothing of the sort," and Farnsworth grasped her arm and fairly marched her along the path to the gate. "You're not a quitter, I know, so what silly notion popped into your head just then?"

Patty laughed outright at his quick appreciation of her mood.

"Well," she parried, "you see, I don't know you very well."

"All the more reason for snatching this chance to get acquainted."

"Somebody might see us."

"Let them. It's no crime to stroll down to the beach."

"Somebody might object to my monopolising you like this."

"Who, Mona?"

"No; not Mona."

"Who, then?"

"Is there no one who might justly do so?"

"No, indeed! Unless Mrs. Parsons thinks I'm neglecting her."

"Nonsense. I don't mean her. But, what about Miss Dow?"

"Daisy Dow! Well, Miss Fairfield, I'm a blunt Westerner, and I don't know how to say these things subtly, but when you imply that Daisy has any special interest in me, you do me undeserved honour. I've known her for years, and we're good chums, but she'd have no right to comment if I walked down to the sea, or into it, or across it. NOW, will you be good?" They had reached the beach, and stood looking at the great rollers coming in, their white crests tinged by the last rays of the setting sun, which flashed a good- bye at them from the opposite horizon.

"It's fortunate you Eastern people have a sea," Farnsworth said, as he gazed across the black distance, "or you wouldn't know the meaning of the word space. Your lives and living are so cramped."

"You Western people have a sea, too, I believe," said Patty.

"Yes, but we don't really need it, as you do. We have seas of land, rolling all over the place. We can get our breath inland; you have to come to the ocean to get a full breath."

"That's the popular superstition. I mean, that we are cramped and all that. But, really, I think we all have room enough. I think the Westerner's idea of wanting several acres to breathe in is just a habit."

Farnsworth looked at her steadily. "Perhaps you're right," he said; "at any rate, you seem to know all about it. Do you suppose I could learn to see it as you do?"

"Of course you could. But why should you? If you like the West, the big, breezy, long-distance West, there's no reason why you should cultivate a taste for our little cramped up, stuffy East."

"That's right! But I wish I could show you our country. Wouldn't you love to go galloping across a great prairie,—tearing ahead for illimitable miles,—breathing the air that has come, fresh and clean, straight down from the blue sky?"

"You make it sound well, but after that mad gallop is over, what then? A shack or ranch, or whatever you call it, with whitewashed walls, and rush mats and a smoky stove?"

"By George! You're about right! It wouldn't suit YOU, would it? You couldn't fit into that picture!"

"I'm 'fraid not. But if we're going to fit into the picture soon to assemble in Mona's dining-room, we must make a start in that direction. Mr. Farnsworth—"

"Call me Bill, oh, DO call me Bill!"

"Why should I?"

"Because I want you to; and because I think you might make that much concession to my Western primitiveness and unceremoniousness."

"But I don't like the name of Bill. It's so,—so—"

"So uncouth? Yes, it is. But I'm not the sort to be called William. Well, DO call me something pleasant and amiable."

"I'll call you Little Billee. That's Thackeray's, and therefore, it's all right. Now, can you slip me back into my own apartments as quietly as you took me away?"

"Of course I can, as it's nearly dark now. Here we go!"

He aided her up the stairs, and along the balcony to her own windows. Patty sprang lightly over the low sill, and waved her hand gaily as she pulled down her blinds and flashed on the electric lights. Then she rang for Janet, and found that a hurried toilette was necessary if she would be prompt at dinner.

One of Patty's prettiest evening frocks was a dainty French thing of white chiffon, decked with pale green ribbons and exquisite artificial apple blossoms made of satin. With a smile at the memory of Farnsworth's allusion to apple blossoms, she put it on, and twisted a wreath of the same lovely flowers in her golden crown of curls.

Then she danced downstairs to find the Western man awaiting her. He looked very handsome in evening clothes, and the easy unconsciousness of his pose and manner made him seem to Patty the most attractive man she had ever seen.

"I've arranged it with Mona," he said, straightforwardly, "and I'm to take you in to dinner. I want to sit next to you."

But Patty had caught sight of Daisy Dow, and the angry gleam in that young woman's eyes warned Patty that Farnsworth's plan boded trouble.

Moreover, perverse Patty objected to being appropriated so calmly, and with a deliberate intent to pique Farnsworth, she replied, gaily:

"Nay, nay, fair sir; it suits me not, thus to be parcelled out. We Eastern girls are not to be had for the asking."

The smile she flashed at him brought an answering smile to Farnsworth's face, but as he stepped forward to urge her to grant his wish, Patty slipped her hand in Roger's arm, and joined the others who were already going to the dining-room.

She had quickly seen that this move on her part would leave Farnsworth no choice but to escort Daisy Dow, for Roger had been assigned to that fair maiden.

"What's up?" enquired Roger, as he obediently followed Patty's whispered order to "come along and behave yourself."

"Nothing," returned Patty, airily; "I have to have my own way, that's all; and as my old friend and comrade, you have to help me to get it."

"Always ready," declared Roger, promptly, "but seems to me, Pitty- Pat, the colossal cowboy is already a Willing Willy to your caprices."

"Don't be silly, Roger. He's so unused to our sort of society that he's willing to bow down at the shrine of any pretty girl."

"Oh, Patsy-Pat! Do you consider YOURSELF a pretty girl? How CAN you think so? Your nose turns up, and I think you're a little cross-eyed—"

"Oh, Roger, I am not!"

"Well, perhaps I'm mistaken about that; but you've a freckle on your left cheek, and a curl on your right temple is out of place."

"It isn't! I fixed it there on purpose! It's supposed to look coquettish."

"Very untidy!" and Roger glared in pretended disapproval at the curl that had purposely been allowed to escape from the apple- blossom wreath.

Patty liked Roger's fooling, for they were old chums and thoroughly good friends, and it was one of his customary jokes to pretend that he was trying to correct her tendency to personal vanity.

Beside the house party, there were several other guests, mostly Spring Beach cottagers, and the dinner was a gay one. Jack Pennington sat at Patty's other side, and Farnsworth and Daisy Dow were far away, near the head of the table.

"Dashing girl, Miss Dow," said Jack, as he looked at the vivacious Daisy, who was entertaining those near her with picturesque stories of Western life.

"Yes, indeed," said Patty; "and very clever and capable."

"Now, isn't it funny! Just from the way you say that, I know you don't like her."

Patty was dismayed. If she didn't altogether like Daisy, she had no wish to have other people aware of the fact.

"Oh, Jack, don't be mean. I DO like her."

"No, you don't; at least, not very much. She isn't your style."

"Well, then, if you think that, don't say it. I MUST like Mona's guests."

"Yes, of course. Forgive a poor, blundering idiot! And don't worry, Patty, no one shall ever know from me that you and the Dashing Daisy aren't boon companions."

"You're so nice and understanding, Jacky boy, and I'm much obliged. Do you remember the night you discovered who our chaperon was, and you helped me out so beautifully?"

"Always glad to help the ladies. What are we doing to-night, after this feast of fat things is over?"

"Nothing especial; dance a little, I suppose, sit around on the veranda, sing choruses, and that sort of thing."

"There's a glorious full moon. Couldn't we escape for a little spin? Just a very short one, in my runabout?"

"Yes, I'd love to. Or we could take my runabout."

"Or Mona's for that matter. I don't care what car we take, but I do love a short, quick drive, and then come back for the dance."

"All right, I'll go. Mona won't mind, if I don't stay long."

"Oh, only just around a block or two. Just to clear the effect of these flowers and candles from our brain."

"Isn't your brain a little weak, if it can't stand flowers and candles?" asked Patty, laughing.

"Perhaps it is, and perhaps that's only an excuse to get away. Hooray! Mona's rising now; let's make a mad dash."

"No; that isn't the way. Let's slide out quietly and inconspicuously, through this side door."

Adopting this idea, Jack and Patty went out on a side veranda, and stepped across the terrace to the garden paths. The moonlight turned the picturesque flower-beds to fairy fields, and Patty paused on one of the terrace landings.

"I don't know as I want to go motoring, Jack," she said, perching herself on the marble balustrade; "it's so lovely here."

"Just as you like, girlie. Ha! methinks I hear vocal speech! Some one approacheth!"

Farnsworth and Daisy Dow came strolling along the terrace, and Daisy took a seat beside Patty, while the two men stood in front of them.

"Won't you girls catch cold?" said Farnsworth, in his matter-of- fact way.

"These be not mortal maidens," said Jack, who was in whimsical mood. "These be two goddesses from Olympian heights, who have deigned to visit us for a brief hour."

"And unless you're very good to us," observed Patty, "we'll spread our wings and fly away."

"Let's do something," said Daisy, restlessly; "it's poky, just sitting here, doing nothing. I'd like to go in the ocean. It must be lovely to bounce around in the surf by moonlight."

"You'd bounce into bed with pneumonia," said Patty. "But Jack and I were talking of motoring. Suppose we take two runabouts and go for a short spin."

All agreed, and the quartette went to the garage for the cars.

The head chauffeur, who was not of an over kindly disposition, informed them that Miss Galbraith's runabout was out of commission for the moment, though Miss Fairfield's was in good shape.

"I'll get mine," proposed Jack, but Bill Farnsworth said, "No, I don't understand an electric awfully well. Let's take this car. I can run this O.K., and it will hold the four of us."

"All right," said Jack; "we're only going a few blocks up the beach. Hop in, Patty."

Farnsworth and Daisy sat in front, and Patty and Jack behind, and they started off at a brisk speed. The girls declined to go back to the house for wraps, as it was a warm evening, and the ride would be short. But when Farnsworth found himself with the wheel in his hand and a long stretch of hard, white road ahead of him, he forgot all else in the glory of the opportunity, and he let the car go at an astonishing speed.

"Isn't this fun!" cried Patty, but the words were fairly blown away from her lips as they dashed along.

"This is the way we Westerners ride!" exclaimed Daisy, as she sat upright beside Bill, her hair streaming back from her forehead, the light scarf she wore round her neck flapping back into Patty's face.

"It's grand!" gasped Jack. "But I hope Big Bill knows what he's about."

"You bet he does!" replied Bill himself, and they whizzed on.

Patty had never gone so fast. Though it was a warm night, the rush of wind chilled her, and she shivered. Jack, seeing this, picked up a lap-robe and wrapped it about her.

"Don't want to turn back yet, do you?" he asked.

"We must turn soon," Patty managed to reply, but Jack scarcely heard the words.

The big moon was setting when Bill turned the car inland, and shouting, "We're going to drive straight into that moon!" made a mad dash toward it.

"Hurry up!" cried Patty. "Catch it before it drops below the horizon. Speed her!"



CHAPTER XI

THE WORST STORM EVER!

Patty's gay words added the final spur to Farnsworth's enthusiasm, and with a whoop of glee, he darted ahead faster than ever. Though his manner and appearance gave the effect of recklessness, Big Bill knew quite well what he was doing. He was a magnificent driver, and however seemingly careless he might be, his whole mind was alert and intent on his work. The road, hard and white, glistened in the moonlight. Straight and clear, it seemed truly to lead directly into the great yellow disk, now dropped almost low enough to touch it.

"Whoopee!" shouted Bill. "This is some going! Sit tight, Daisy, and hold on for all you're worth! Are you people in the back hall all right?"

"Right we are!" returned Jack. "Are you going straight THROUGH the moon?"

"Yep! If we catch her in time! Hallo, she's touched the earth!"

It was a great game. The road was so level and so free of obstruction that they kept the centre, and seemed to be shooting, at whistling speed, into that enormous yellow circle.

But, already, the horizon was swallowing up their goal. The laughing quartette saw the circle of gold become a semi-circle, then a mere arc, and soon only a glimpse of yellow remained, which immediately vanished, and save for a faint reminiscent glow, the western sky was dark.

"Where are your stars?" queried Farnsworth, gazing upward. "Nice country, this! No stars, no moon, no nothin'!"

"The lamps give enough light," cried Daisy. "Don't slow down, Bill! Go on, this flying is grand!"

"Come on in,—the flying's fine!" laughed Bill, and again they went at highest speed.

But with the setting of the moon, Patty's spirit of adventure calmed down.

"Oh, do let's turn back," she begged. "He doesn't hear me,—make him hear, Jack."

"I say, Farnsworth," and Jack tapped the burly shoulder in front of him, "we've gone far enough. Back to the old home, eh?"

"Back it is!" and the driver slowed down, and picking a wide, clear space, deftly turned the machine around. But at sight of the eastern sky, every one exclaimed in dismay.

Though the moon had set clearly, and the west was a dull grey, the eastern sky was black. Turbulent masses of clouds climbed, rolling, to the zenith; faint lights appeared now and then, and a dim rumble of distant thunder was heard at intervals.

"Shower coming up," said Farnsworth, blithely; "better streak for home. Wish I'd turned sooner. But we'll beat the storm. Wish the girls had some wraps. Here, Daisy, take my coat and put it on while you've a chance. It'll look pretty silly on you, but it will keep your furbelows from getting spoiled."

"Yes, I will take it, Billy. I'm awfully chilly."

As Daisy already had a laprobe, Patty looked at her in astonishment, as she let Farnsworth take off his coat and put it on her. An ordinary evening coat, it was not a great protection, but Daisy turned up the collar and made herself as comfortable as she could. Then she tucked the laprobe carefully over her skirts, though as yet no drop of rain had descended.

"No, indeed!" said Patty, as Jack offered her his coat. "I have the laprobe, you know, and I'll put it round my shoulders. Never mind if my skirts are spoilt. Turn up your collar, Jack, it will pour in a minute now."

And pour it did! Suddenly, without a preliminary sprinkle, the floods dropped straight from the heavens. A drenching, pouring rain that soaked the occupants of the open car before they could realise what had happened. Gusts of wind added to their discomfort, and then the thunder and lightning, drawn nearer, gave the greatest exhibition of an electrical storm that had been seen all summer.

Patty, who was confessedly afraid of thunder storms, shivered, on the verge of nervous hysterics. Finally, at a specially ear- splitting bolt and blinding flash, which were almost simultaneous, she gave a little shriek and pulled the wet laprobe over her head. She crumpled down into a little heap, and, frightened lest she should faint, Pennington put his arm round her and held her in a reassuring clasp.

Daisy Dow was more angry than frightened. She hadn't Patty's fear of the elements, but she greatly objected to the uncomfortable situation in which she found herself.

"Do get home, Bill!" she cried, crossly. "Can't you go any faster?"

The big fellow, in his white shirtsleeves, bent to his wheel. He had worn no hat, and the rain fairly rebounded as it dashed on his thick mat of soaking wet hair.

"Speed her, Bill," went on Daisy, petulantly; "you could go fast enough in the moonlight,—why do you slow down now, when we all want to get home?"

No answer from Farnsworth, who was intently looking and listening.

"Why DO you, Bill?" reiterated the irritating voice, and Farnsworth's never very patient temper gave way.

"Shut up, Daisy!" he cried. "I'm doing the best I can,—but that's all the good it does. We've got to stop. The gasolene is out!"

All of them, accustomed to motors, knew what this meant. Like a flash, each mind flew back to think who was to blame for this. And each realised that it was not the fault of the chauffeur at "Red Chimneys" who had let them take out the car. For, had they not said they were going only for a short spin? And the car had been amply stocked for about two hours. Yes, it must be about two hours since they started, for in their merry mood they had had no thought of time, and had gone far, far inland.

"We can't stop," shrieked Daisy, "in this storm! No house or shelter near! Bill Farnsworth, I'll NEVER forgive you for bringing me into this pickle!"

Farnsworth gave a short, sharp laugh.

"I can get along without your forgiveness, Daisy, if I can only get you people home safely. Great Cats, how it rains! I say, Pennington, what do you think we'd better do? Where's Miss Fairfield?"

Looking around suddenly, Bill saw no sign of Patty in the nondescript heap by Jack's side. But at his startled question, a wet face and a mass of tangled curls and apple blossoms, equally wet, emerged from the soaking laprobe.

"Here I am!" said a plaintive little voice that tried hard to be brave. But a sharp flare of lightning sent the golden head suddenly back to its hiding-place.

"Miss Fairfield is awfully afraid of electrical storms," explained Jack, patting the wet heap anywhere, in a well-meant attempt at reassurance.

"Pooh!" exclaimed Daisy. "What a 'fraid-cat! I'm not frightened,— but I'm terribly wet. I'm soaked! I'm drowned!"

"So are we all, Daisy," said Bill, shivering as the wind flapped his dripping shirtsleeves; "but what CAN we do? The car won't move."

"Well, WE can move! Let's get out and walk."

"Why, Daisy, what's the use? Where could we walk to?"

"Well, I think you two men are horrid! You just sit there and let Patty and me catch our death of cold. Though Patty is wrapped up snug and warm in that robe. If SHE'S protected you don't care about ME!"

"Daisy! what nonsense—-" began Bill, but Patty's head popped out again.

"If you think I'm snug and warm, Daisy Dow, you're greatly mistaken! I NEVER was so uncomfortable in all my life! And I'm scared besides! That's more than you are!"

Jack Pennington laughed. "While the girls are comparing notes of discomfort," he said, "how about us, Bill? Do you feel,-er—well- groomed and all that?"

Farnsworth looked critically at his soaked apparel. "I've been DRIER," he replied, "but you know, Pennington, I'm one of those chaps who look well in any costume!"

The absurdity of this speech brought Patty's head out again, and she felt a shock of surprise to note that the jesting words were true. Bill Farnsworth, coatless, dripping wet, and exceedingly uncomfortable, sat upright, tossing back his clustered wet hair, and positively laughing at the situation.

"Pardon my hilarity," he said, as he caught a glimpse of Patty's face, "but you're all so lugubrious, somebody MUST laugh."

"All right, I'll laugh with you!" and Patty sat upright, the dark laprobe held hoodwise, so that she looked like a mischievous nun. "If you'll please turn off the thunder and lightning, I won't mind the rain a bit. In fact, I'm getting used to it. I know I was meant for a duck, anyway."

"Well, Duck, the thunder and lightning are getting farther away," said Bill, truly, "but I do believe it rains harder than ever! What CAN we do?"

"Can't we get under the car?" suggested Daisy.

"Not very well; and it wouldn't help much. It's rather wet, even under there," and Bill looked at the soaked road.

"We passed a house about a mile back," said Patty, "couldn't we walk back to that?"

"I thought of that," said Bill, "but I didn't suppose you girls could walk it,—with those foolish step-ladder heels you're wearing. And white satin slippers aren't real good style for mud- wading. I could carry you, Miss Fairfield,—you're only a will-o'- the-wisp; but Daisy here is a heavyweight."

"Oh, no matter about me," said Daisy, spitefully; "just see that Miss Fairfield is looked after!"

Big Bill Farnsworth looked at the speaker. "Daisy Dow," he said, quietly, "don't you get me any more riled than I am! If you do, I won't be pleasant!"

"But I can walk," put in Patty, anxious to prevent a quarrel. "I haven't on walking boots exactly, but I can flounder along somehow. And we MUST get to shelter! Help me along, Jack, and I'll try not to mind the thunder and lightning."

"Plucky little girl!" said Farnsworth, and Daisy scowled in the darkness.

"What time is it?" asked Patty, who was now thoroughly ready to face the situation.

"Just twelve o'clock," replied Jack, after several futile attempts to light a match and see his watch.

"Then we MUST try to get to that house," declared Patty. "I had no idea it was so late. Come, people, no matter what the result, we must TRY to reach shelter and civilisation."

"Right!" said Pennington. "It's the only thing to do. I remember the house. There was no light in it, though."

"No; it's so late. But we can ring up the family, and they'll surely take us in for the night."

"Not if they see us first!" exclaimed Bill. "Oh, Miss Fairfield, you look like Ophelia with those flowers tumbling all over your face!"

Patty laughed, and removing the apple-blossom wreath from her head, was about to throw it away. But she felt it gently taken from her hand in the darkness, and she somehow divined that Farnsworth had put it in his pocket.

The combination of this sentimental act with the drenched condition of the flower wreath—and, presumably, the pocket, was too much for Patty, and she giggled outright.

"What ARE you laughing at?" snapped Daisy. "I don't see anything funny in this whole performance."

"Oh, DO think it's funny, Daisy," implored Patty, still laughing. "Oh, DO! for it ISN'T funny at all, unless we MAKE it so by thinking it IS so!"

"Stop talking nonsense," Daisy flung back. "Oh, I've sprained my ankle. I can't walk at all! Oh, oh!"

Farnsworth looked at her. "Daisy," he said, sternly, "if you've really sprained your ankle, we'll have to get back into the car— for I can't carry you. But if you CAN walk, I advise you to do so."

Daisy looked a little frightened at his severe tone.

"Oh, I suppose I CAN walk," she said, "though it hurts me dreadfully. Hold me up, Bill."

"I'll hold you," he replied, cheerily. "Now we'll take this lantern, and we'll walk ahead. Pennington, you follow with Miss Fairfield. Don't talk much, you'll need all your strength to walk through the storm. It's abating a little, but it's raining cats and dogs yet."

Unconsciously, Bill had assumed command of the expedition, and involuntarily, the others obeyed him. That mile was a dreadful walk! At first, it seemed fairly easy, for the road was a good one, though wet and slippery. But soon the satin slippers were soaked; stones and bits of gravel made their way inside, and at last Patty found it almost impossible to keep hers on at all. Jack tried to help, by tying the little slippers on with his own and Patty's handkerchiefs, but these soon gave way. The rain fell steadily now; not in dashes and sheets, but a moderate downpour that seemed as if it meant to go on forever.

Jack could do little to help, save to grasp Patty's arm tightly and "boost" her along. Daisy stood it better, for she was of far stronger build than fragile Patty, and Big Bill almost carried her along with his own long, sturdy strides.

After what seemed an interminable walk, they reached the house in question. It was a large, fine-looking structure, but as no lights were visible, the family had evidently retired.

"I should think they'd leave a night light in the hall," grumbled Daisy, as the quartette climbed the veranda steps and stood, dripping, at the front door.

"Whew!" exclaimed Jack. "It's good to get where that rain doesn't drive straight into your eyes, anyway! Ring the bell, Farnsworth."

"Can't find it. Ah, here it is!" and Bill pushed the electric button, and held it, ringing a continuous peal.

But no one came to the door, and the shivering four grew impatient, to think that shelter was so near, yet unavailable.

"You keep punching this bell, Pennington," suggested Bill, "and I'll reconnoitre round to the other entrances. There must be side doors and things."

Jack kept the bell going, but no one responded, and no lights showed in the house. At last Bill returned from his tour of exploration.

"I've been all the way round," he said; "there are three or four entrances to this mansion, and all have bells, but nobody answered my various and insistent ringings. WHAT shall us do now, poor things?"

"I suppose they're afraid we're burglars," observed Patty; "and they're afraid to let us in."

"If they don't come pretty soon, I WILL be a burglar," declared Bill, "and I'll get in in burglar fashion. It isn't fair for people to have a warm, dry house, and keep forlorn wet people out of it. We've GOT to get in! Let's bang on the doors."

But no amount of banging and pounding, no shaking of door knobs, no whistling or shouting served to bring response.

"Throw pebbles at the window," Patty suggested, and immediately a young hailstorm bombarded the second-story panes.

"No good!" commented Bill. "So here goes!" and without further warning his large and well-aimed foot crashed through a long front window which reached down to the floor.

"Oh, my gracious!" exclaimed Patty. "WHAT a thing to do!"

"The only way is the best way," returned Bill, gaily. "Now, wait a minute, you girls, I'll let you in."

Carefully looking out for the broken glass, Big Bill inserted his hand, sprung back the catch, and opened the window.

"Don't come in this way," he cautioned, "I'll open the front door."

Farnsworth found himself in a large, pleasant room, evidently a drawing-room. But without pausing to look around, he made for the hall, and tried to open the great front doors.

"Can't do it," he called to those outside. "I'll open another window."

In a moment, he had thrown up the sash of another long, low window, in a room the other side of the hall, and invited his friends in.

"Couldn't let you girls walk in on that broken glass," he explained. "Come in this way, and make yourselves at home."

"We're too wet,—we'll spoil things," said Patty, hesitating at the long lace curtains and fine floors and rugs.

"Nonsense! Come on! Where DO you suppose the electric light key is? Whoo! here we have it!"

A flood of light filled the room, and the girls saw they were in a comfortable, pleasant library or sitting-room, evidently the home of cultured, refined people.



CHAPTER XII

A WELCOME SHELTER

A piano stood open, and Daisy sat at it, striking a few chords of "Home, Sweet Home."

This made them all laugh, but Farnsworth said, reprovingly, "Come away from that, Daisy. We have to enter this house to shelter ourselves, but we needn't spoil their belongings unnecessarily."

Daisy pouted, but she came away from the piano, having already left many drops of water on its keys and shining rosewood case.

Patty smiled appreciatively at Bill's thoughtfulness, but said, with growing alarm:

"Where DO you suppose the people are? They MUST have heard us come in, even if they were sound asleep."

"It's pretty queer, I think," said Jack.

"Oh!" cried Daisy, "what do you mean? Do you think there's anything WRONG?" and she began to cry, in sheer, hysterical fright and discomfort.

"It IS queer," agreed Bill, looking out into the hall, and listening.

Then Patty's practical good sense came to her aid.

"Nonsense!" she said. "You're an ungrateful bunch! Here you have shelter from the storm, and you all begin to cry! Well, no," she added, smiling, "you boys are not exactly crying,—but if you were girls, you WOULD be! Now, behave yourselves, and brace up to this occasion! First, there's a fireplace, and here's a full woodbox. Build a roaring fire, and let's dry off a little. Meantime, I wish you two men would go over the house, and find out who's in it. Daisy and I will stay here."

"I won't stay here alone with Patty," sobbed Daisy, who was shaking with nervous fear.

"There, there, Daisy," said Bill, "don't cry. I'll fix it. Miss Fairfield, you're a brick! Your ideas, as I shall amend them, are fine! Pennington, you stay here with the girls, and build the biggest fire you can make. I'll investigate this domicile, and see if the family are really the Seven Sleepers, or if they're surely afraid to come downstairs, for fear we're burglars."

Patty flashed a glance of admiration at the big fellow, but she only said:

"Go along, Little Billee; but hurry back and dry yourself before you catch pneumonia."

Bill went off whistling, and Jack and Patty built a rousing fire. The woodbox was ample and well filled, and the fireplace, a wide one, and the crackling flames felt most grateful to the wet refugees. Jack wanted to go after Farnsworth, but Daisy wouldn't hear of it, so he stayed with the girls. Soon Big Bill returned, smiling all over his good-natured face.

"Not a soul in the whole house!" he reported. "I've been all over it, from attic to cellar. Everything in good order; beds made up, and so forth. But no food in the larder, so I assume the family has gone away for a time."

"Well, of all funny situations!" exclaimed Patty. Cheered by the warmth, her face was smiling and dimpling, and her drying hair was curling in soft tendrils all over her head.

"Come to the fire, Little Billee, and see if you can't begin to commence to dry out a little bit."

"I've just washed my hair, and I can't do a thing with it!" said Big Bill, comically, as he ran his fingers through his thick mane of brown, wavy hair. "But, I say, this fire feels good! Wow! but I'm damp! I say, Pennington, I've been thinking."

"Hard?"

"Yes, hard. Now you must all listen to me. I expect opposition, but it doesn't matter. What I'm going to say now, GOES! See?"

Bill looked almost ferocious in his earnestness, and Patty looked at him with admiration. He was so big and powerful, physically, and now his determined face and strongly set jaw betokened an equal mental power. "I'm at the head of this expedition, and in the present emergency, my word is law!" He banged his clenched fist on the mantel, as he stood before the fire, and seemed fairly to challenge a reply.

"Well, go on," said Patty, laughing. "What's it all about?"

"It's just this. You two girls have got to stay in this house, ALONE, while Pennington and I walk back to Spring Beach, NOW!"

"Good gracious! What for?" exclaimed

Patty, while Daisy screamed, "I WON'T do it! I WON'T stay here alone!"

"Be quiet," said Bill, looking at Daisy sternly. "You MUST do as I say."

"You're right, Farnsworth," said Jack Pennington. "It's nearly one o'clock, and we must start right off."

"Yes," agreed Bill. "Now, Miss Fairfield, I assure you, you will be perfectly safe here. It isn't a pleasant prospect, but there's nothing else to be done. The house is securely fastened against intruders. You can lock the drawing-room doors on this side, so the broken window need cause you no uneasiness. We will walk back to 'Red Chimneys,' unless we can get a lift somehow. But, at any rate, we will send a car back here for you at the earliest possible moment."

"It IS the only thing to do," agreed Patty; "but I hate to have you boys start out so wet. Can't you borrow from your host's wardrobe?"

"Good idea!" laughed Bill. "I saw some men's raincoats in the hall. I think we will appropriate them, eh, Pennington?"

With very few further words, the two men took possession of raincoats, rubbers, and umbrellas belonging to their unknown hosts, and went out through the open, broken window into the night. It was still raining, but not so hard, and Bill called back cheerily, "Good-night, ladies," as they tramped away.

"It's awful," Daisy whimpered, "to leave us two girls here alone and unprotected! I know we'll be robbed and murdered by highwaymen!"

"You're talking nonsense, Daisy," said Patty, sternly. "Now, look here, if you'll just be friendly and decent, we needn't have such a bad time, but if you're going to be cross and cry all the time, I shall simply let you alone, and we'll have a horrid, uncomfortable time."

This straightforward, common-sense talk brought Daisy to her senses, and though she still looked petulant, she made no more cross or unkind speeches.

"What are you going to do?" she enquired as Patty took off her chiffon gown, and held it carefully before the fire. "That frock is ruined."

"Yes, I know, but I'm going to pick it out and make it look as decent as I can. I suppose I'll have to wear it home when I go. Take off yours, and I'll dry them both nicely. I'm good at this sort of thing. Here, I'll unhook it."

Daisy dropped her own party frock on the floor and showed little interest as Patty picked it up and daintily fingered its frills into something like shapeliness.

"Hunt around, Daisy," Patty said, knowing it best to keep the girl occupied. "Surely you can find something to put round our shoulders. An afghan or even a table cover would do for a dressing jacket."

Slightly interested, Daisy went into the next room and returned with two lengths of brocaded silk.

"They're bookcase curtains," she explained. "I slipped the rings off the pole. See, we can each have one."

"Good!" said Patty, draping the curtain round her shoulders, sontag fashion. "These are fine. Now, see, I'm getting your dress quite fluffy again."

"So you are. I'll finish it, and you do your own. Aren't you going to bed, Patty?"

"No, not exactly. Suppose we sleep here. You take the couch, and I'll doze in this big armchair."

"Are you—are you frightened, Patty?"

"N—no; NO! Of course I'm not! What's there to be afraid of?"

"Well—I am," and Daisy began to whimper, and then to cry.

"Daisy Dow! You stop that! I'd be all right if you'd behave yourself! Now, don't you get hysterical! If you do, I'll—I'll telephone for the doctor! Oh, Daisy! the TELEPHONE! WHY didn't we think of that before? There MUST be one! Let's hunt for it."

Spurred by this new thought, Patty ran through the rooms in search of a telephone. She found one in the back part of the hall, but, alas, it had been disconnected and was useless.

"Bill must have found that out," Patty said, thoughtfully; "and he didn't tell us."

"Why not?" demanded Daisy. "Why wouldn't he tell us?"

"Because he's so thoughtful and considerate. I feel sure he thought it would make us feel more lonely if we knew the telephone was there, but wouldn't work."

"Well, it does!" declared Daisy. "I'm so lonely and frightened and miserable, I believe I'll die!"

"Oh, no, you won't," said Patty, cheerfully. "Now, I'll tell you what, Daisy. You lie down on the couch,—here's a nice afghan to put over you,—and I'll sing a little."

This sounded comfortable, so Daisy, now quite warm and dry, lay down, and after tucking the afghan over her, Patty went to the piano. She played a few soft chords, and then sang, softly, a crooning lullaby. It is not surprising that under the influence of the soothing music, the warm fire, and her own fatigue, Daisy soon fell sound asleep.

Assured of this, Patty left the piano, and sat in the big easy- chair in front of the fire. She thought over their escapade, and though it was certainly serious enough, she smiled to herself as she thought of the humorous side of it. It certainly seemed funny for Daisy and herself to be alone in a big, handsome, strange house,—wrapped in other people's bookcase curtains! Then she thought of Big Bill and Jack trudging miles and miles through the storm. What a splendid fellow Bill Farnsworth was, anyhow! He had left no room for argument or even discussion; he had decided there was but one way out of this situation, and he took it. Jack had acquiesced, and had done as he was told, but Bill had been the moving spirit. What good sense he had shown! And with what forgetfulness of self he had accepted his own hard part of the performance. Of course the boys wouldn't have to walk all the way to Spring Beach. Of course they would manage somehow to get a conveyance, but Bill had not bothered about such details; he had seen his way, and had walked straight out into it. Surely he was a splendid man,—a big, fine man,—and—he had taken her apple- blossom wreath,—and he had put it in his pocket,—because— because—

And even as she thought of Bill's confiscation of her flowers, Patty's golden head drooped a little, the long lashes fell over her blue eyes, and in the sheltering depths of the soft-cushioned chair, she fell sound asleep.

A few hours later she awoke. At first she couldn't realise where she was, then, like a flash, the truth came to her. Greatly refreshed by her nap, she jumped up, smiling.

The fire was out, so she rekindled it, and proceeded to don her dried but sadly wilted looking party dress. She hesitated a moment, and then concluded to wake Daisy, as a rescuing party might arrive at any minute.

Daisy sat up on her couch, and rubbed her eyes. "What time is it?" she asked, not yet fully awake.

"I've no idea," said Patty, laughing. "I never wear my watch in the evening. But," and she looked from the window as she raised the blind, "I see streaks of pink, so that must be the east, and the sun is about ready to rise. So up, up, Lucy, the sun is in the sky, or will be soon. And I'm sure our deliverers will soon come to rescue us from this durance vile!"

Patty was in high spirits now, and danced about the room while she urged Daisy to get into her frock.

"Bookcase curtains are all very well for boudoir jackets," she said, "but not fit for appearance in polite society. See, your frock looks fairly well; a lot better than mine."

Sure enough the soft silk of Daisy's gown had stood its wetting much better than Patty's chiffon, but they were both sad wrecks of the dainty costumes they had been the evening before.

Patty flung open the windows, and let in the cool morning air, and as she stepped out on the veranda she cried, "Oh, Daisy, here they come!"

A big touring car was visible at a distance, and in a moment Patty saw that Farnsworth himself was driving it.

"Hooray!" he called, as he came nearer, and Mona, who sat beside him, cried out, "Oh, Patty, Patty! Are you safe?"

"Safe? Of course I'm safe," said Patty, who despite her draggled dress, looked like the incarnation of morning as she stood on the veranda, her sweet face glad and smiling beneath its cloud of golden curls.

"Thank Heaven!" cried Big Bill, as he fairly flung himself out of his driver's seat and rushed up to her. He almost took her in his arms, but just checked his mad impulse in time, and grasping both her hands, shook them vigorously up and down as he whispered, "Oh, my little girl! You never can know what it cost me to go off and leave you here alone!" His frank, honest blue eyes looked straight into her deep violet ones, and his glance told eloquently of his remorse and regret for the mischief he had thoughtlessly brought about.

Patty understood at once all his unspoken message, and smiled a full and free forgiveness.

"It's all right, Little Billee," she said, softly. "You were a brave, true friend, and I shall never forget your chivalry and true kindness."

A moment more he held her hands, gazing deep into her eyes, and then turned abruptly to greet Daisy.



CHAPTER XIII

AT DAISY'S DICTATION

At Farnsworth's directions, the "rescuing party" had brought with them a glazier and his kit of tools and materials. While he fitted a new pane of glass in place of the broken one, Mona expressed her opinion of the escapade of the night before.

"It was all your fault, Bill!" she exclaimed. "You ought not to have driven so fast and so far."

"I know it, ma'am," said Big Bill, looking like a culprit schoolboy. "I'm awful 'shamed of myself!"

"And well you may be!" chimed in Adele Kenerley. "Suppose this house hadn't been here, what would you have done?"

"I should have built one," declared Bill, promptly.

"So you would!" agreed Patty, heartily.

"You're equal to any emergency, Little Billee; and it WASN'T all your fault, anyway. I egged you on, because I love to drive fast, especially at night."

"Very reprehensible tastes, young woman," said Jim Kenerley, trying to be severe, but not succeeding very well.

"Oh, you might have known this house was here," said Mona. "It's Mr. Kemper's house. They've gone away for a month. They're coming back next week."

"Well, they'll find everything in order," said Patty. "We didn't hurt a thing, except the window, and we've fixed that. We burned up a lot of their firewood, though."

"They won't mind that," said Mona, laughing. "They're awfully nice people. We'll come over and tell them the whole story when they get home."

"And now, can't we go home?" said Patty. "I'm just about starved."

"You poor dear child," cried Mrs. Kenerley. "You haven't had a bite of breakfast! Come on, Mona, let's take Patty and Daisy home in one of the cars; the rest can follow in the other."

Two cars of people had come over to escort the wanderers home, so this plan was agreed upon.

But somehow, Bill Farnsworth managed to hasten the glazier's task, so that all were ready to depart at once.

"I'll drive the big car," cried Bill. "Come on, Patty," and before any one realised it, he had swung the girl up into the front seat of the big touring car, and had himself climbed to the driver's seat.

"I had to do this," he said to Patty, as they started off. "I must speak to you alone a minute, and be sure that you forgive me for the trouble I made you."

"Of course I forgive you," said Patty, gaily. "I'd forgive you a lot more than that."

"You would? Why?"

"Oh, because I'm such a good forgiver. I'd forgive anybody, anything."

"Huh! then it isn't much of a compliment to have YOUR forgiveness!"

"Well, why should I pay you compliments?"

"That's so! Why SHOULD you? In fact, it ought to be the other way. Let ME pay them to YOU."

"Oh, I don't care much about them. I get quite a lot, you see—"

"I see you're a spoiled baby, that's what YOU are!"

"Now,—Little Billee!" and Patty's tone was cajoling, and her sideways glance and smile very provoking.

"And I'd like to do my share of the spoiling!" he continued, looking at her laughing, dimpled face and wind-tossed curls.

"So you shall! Begin just as soon as you like and spoil me all you can," said Patty, still in gay fooling, when she suddenly remembered Daisy's prohibition of this sort of fun.

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