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- Patty in Paris - 2/31 -


except in the most correct, decorous, and highly approved fashion. It does seem foolish then to send the poor child away for a year to practise an art in which she is already proficient."

"You two are one too many for me," said Mr. Fairfield, laughing. "If I had either of you alone, I could soon reduce you to a state of meek obedience; but your combined forces are too much for me, and I may as well surrender at once and completely."

"No; but seriously, Fred, you must see that it is really so. Now what Patty needs in the way of education, is the best possible instruction in music, which she can have better here in New York than in any college; then she ought to go on with her French, in which she is already remarkably proficient. Then perhaps an hour a day of reading well- selected literature with a competent teacher, and I'll guarantee that a year at home will do more for Patty than any school full of masters."

Mr. Fairfield looked at his young wife in admiration. "Why, Nan, I believe you're right," he said, "though I don't believe it because of any change in my own opinions, but because you put it so convincingly that I haven't an argument left."

Nan only smiled, and went on.

"You said yourself, Fred, that Patty disliked the routine and restraint of school life, and so I think it would be cruel to force her into it when she can be so much happier at home. Here she will have ample time for all the study I have mentioned, and still have leisure for the pleasures that she needs and deserves. I shall look after her singing lessons myself, and make sure that she practises properly. Then I shall take her to the opera and to concerts, which, though really a part of her musical education, may also afford her some slight pleasure."

Patty flew over to Nan and threw her arms about her neck. "You dear old duck," she cried; "there never was such a dear, lovely, beautiful stepmother on the face of the earth! And now it's all settled, isn't it, papa?"

"It seems to be," said Mr. Fairfield, smiling. "But on your own heads be the consequences. I put Patty into your hands now, so far as her future education is concerned, and you can fix it up between you. To tell the truth, I'm delighted myself at the thought of having Patty stay home with us, but my sense of duty made me feel that I must at least put the matter before her."

"And you did," cried Patty gleefully, "and now I've put it behind me, and that's all there is about that. And I'll promise, papa, to study awfully hard on my French and music; and as for reading, that will be no hardship, for I'd rather read than eat any day."

Mr. Fairfield had really acquiesced to the wishes of the others out of his sheer kind-heartedness. For he did not think that the lessons at home would be as definite and regular as at a school, and he still held his original opinions in the matter. But having waived his theories for theirs, he raised no further objection and seemed to consider the question settled.

After a moment, however, he said thoughtfully: "What you really ought to have, Patty, is a year abroad. That would do more for you in the way of general information and liberal education than anything else."

"Now THAT would be right down splendid," said Patty. "Come on, papa, let's all go."

"I would in a minute, dear, but I can't leave my business just now. It has increased alarmingly of late and it needs my constant attention to keep up with it. Indeed it is becoming so ridiculously successful that unless I can check it we shall soon be absurdly rich people."

"Then you can retire," said Nan, "and we can all go abroad for Patty's benefit."

"Yes," said Mr. Fairfield seriously, "after a year or two we can do that. I sha'n't exactly retire, but I shall get the business into such shape that I can take a long vacation, and then we'll all go out and see the world. But that doesn't seem to have anything to do with Patty's immediate future. I have thought over this a great deal, and if you don't go to college, Patty, I should like very much to have you go abroad sooner than I can take you. But I can't see any way for you to go. I can't spare Nan to go with you, and I'm not sure you would care to go with one of those parties of personally conducted young ladies."

"No, indeed!" cried Patty. "I'm crazy to go to Europe, but I don't want to go with six other girls and a chaperon, and go flying along from one country to the next, with a Baedeker in one hand and a suit case in the other. I'd much rather wait and go with you and Nan, later on."

"Well, I haven't finished thinking it out yet," said Mr. Fairfield, who, in spite of his apparent pliability, had a strong will of his own. "I may send you across in charge of a reliable guardian, and put you into a French convent."

[Illustration with caption: "'There never was such a dear, lovely, beautiful stepmother on the face of the earth!'"]

Patty only laughed at this, but still she had a vague feeling that her father was not yet quite done with the subject, and that almost anything might happen.

But as Kenneth Harper came in to see them just then, the question was laid before him.

"There is no sense in Patty's going to college," he declared. "I'm an authority on the subject, because I know college and I know Patty, and they have absolutely nothing in common with each other. Why, Patty doesn't want the things that colleges teach. You see, she is of an artistic temperament--"

"Oh, Kenneth," cried Patty reproachfully, "that's the most fearfully unkind thing I ever had said to me! Why, I would rather be accused of I don't know WHAT than an artistic temperament! How COULD you say it? Why, I'm as practical and common sensible and straightforward as I can be. People who have artistic temperaments are flighty and weak-minded and not at all capable."

"Why, Patty," cried Nan, laughing, "how can you make such sweeping assertions? Mr. Hepworth is an artist, and he isn't all those dreadful things."

"That's different," declared Patty. "Mr. Hepworth is a real artist, and so you can't tell what his temperament is."

"But that's just what I mean," insisted Kenneth; "Hepworth is a real artist, and so he didn't have and didn't need a college education. He specialised and devoted all his study to his art. Then he went to Paris and stayed there for years, still studying and working. I tell you, it's specialisation that counts. Now I don't know that Patty wants to specialise, but she certainly doesn't need the general work of college. I should think that you would prefer to have her devote herself to her music, especially her singing; for we all know that Patty's is a voice of rare promise. I don't know myself exactly what 'rare promise' means, but it's a phrase that's always applied to voices like Patty's."

"You're just right, Kenneth," said Nan, "and I'm glad you're on our side. Patty and I entirely agree with you, and though Mr. Fairfield is still wavering a little, I am sure that by day after to-morrow, or next week at the latest, he will be quite ready to cast in his lot with ours."

Mr. Fairfield only smiled, for though he had no intention of making Patty do anything against her will, yet he had not entirely made up his mind in the matter.

"Anyway, my child," he said, "whatever you do or don't do, will be the thing that we are entirely agreed upon, even if I have to convince you that my opinions are right."

And Patty smiled back at her father happily, for there was great comradeship and sympathy between them.

CHAPTER II

THE DECISION

It was only a few days later that Nan and Patty sat one evening in the library waiting for Mr. Fairfield to come home to dinner.

The Fairfield library was a most cosey and attractive room. Nan was a home-maker by nature, and as Patty dearly loved pretty and comfortable appointments, they had combined their efforts on the library and the result was a room which they all loved far better than the more formal drawing-room.

The fall was coming early that year, which gave an excuse for the fire in the big fireplace. This fire was made of that peculiar kind of driftwood whose flames show marvellous rainbow tints. Patty never tired of watching the strange-coloured blaze, and delighted in throwing on more chips and splinters from time to time.

"I can't see what makes your father so late," said Nan, as she wandered about the room, now adjusting some flowers in a vase, and now stopping to look out at the front window; "he's always here by this time, or earlier."

"Something must have detained him," said Patty, rather absently, as she poked at a log with the tongs.

"Patty, you're a true Sherlock Holmes! Your father is late, and you immediately deduce that something has detained him! Truly, you have a wonderful intellect!"

"I don't wonder it seems so to you," said saucy Patty, smiling at her pretty stepmother; "people are always impressed by traits they don't possess themselves."

"But really I'm getting worried. If Fred doesn't come pretty soon I shall telephone to the office."

"Do; I like to see you enacting the role of anxious young wife. It suits you perfectly. As for me, I'm starving; if papa doesn't come pretty soon, he will find an emaciated skeleton in place of the plump daughter he left behind him."

As Mr. Fairfield arrived at that moment, there was no occasion for further anxiety, but in response to their queries he gave them no satisfaction as to the cause of his unusual tardiness, and only smiled


Patty in Paris - 2/31

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