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- Patty in Paris - 3/31 -
at their exclamations.
It was not until they were seated at the dinner table that Mr. Fairfield announced he had something to tell them.
"And I'm sure it's something nice," said Patty, "for there's a twinkle in the left corner of your right eye."
"Gracious, Patty!" cried Nan, "that sounds as if your father were cross- eyed, and he isn't."
"Well," went on Mr. Fairfield, "what I have to tell you is just this: I have arranged for the immediate future of Miss Patricia Fairfield."
Patty looked frightened. There was something in her father's tone that made her feel certain that his mind was irrevocably made up, and that whatever plans he had made for her were sure to be carried out. But she resolved to treat it lightly until she found out what it was all about.
"I don't want to be intrusive," she said, "but if not too presumptuous, might I inquire what is to become of me?"
"Yours not to make reply, yours not to reason why," said her father teasingly. "You know, my child, you're not yet of age, and I, as your legal parent and guardian, can do whatever I please with you. You are, as Mr. Shakespeare puts it, 'my goods, my chattel,' and so I have decided to pack you up and send you away."
"Really, papa!" cried Patty, aghast.
"Yes, really. I remember you expressed a disinclination to leave your home and family, but all the same I have made arrangements for you to do so. It was the detailing of these arrangements that kept me so late at my office to-night."
Patty looked at her father. She understood his bantering tone, and from the twinkle in his eye she knew that whatever plans he may have made, they were pleasant ones; and, too, she knew that notwithstanding his air of authority she needn't abide by them unless she chose to. So she waited contentedly enough for his serious account of the matter, and it soon came.
"Why, it's this way, chickabiddy," he said. "Mr. Farrington came to see me at the office this afternoon, and laid a plan before me. It seems that he and Mrs. Farrington and Elise are going to Paris for the winter, and he brought from himself and his wife an invitation for you to go with them."
"Oh!" said Patty. She scarcely breathed the word, but her eyes shone like stars, and her face expressed the delight that the thought of such a plan brought to her.
"Oh!" she said again, as thoughts of further details came crowding into her mind.
"How perfectly glorious!" cried Nan, whose enthusiasm ran to words, as Patty seemed struck dumb. "It's the very thing! just what Patty needs. And to go with the Farringtons is the most delightful way to make such a trip. Tell us all about it, Fred. When do they start? Shall I have time to get Patty some clothes? No, she'd better buy them over there. Oh, Patty, you'll have the most rapturous time! Do say something, you little goose! Don't sit there blinking as if you didn't understand what's going on. Tell us more about it, Fred."
"I will, my dear, if you'll only give me a chance. The Farringtons mean to sail very soon--in about a fortnight. They will go on a French liner and go at once to Paris. Except for possible short trips, they will stay in the city all winter. Then the girls can study French, or music, or whatever they like, and incidentally have some fun, I dare say. Mr. Farrington seemed truly anxious to have Patty go, although I warned him that she was a difficult young person to manage. But he said he had had experience in that line last summer, and found that it was possible to get along with her. Anyway, he was most urgent in the matter, and said that if I agreed to it, Mrs. Farrington and Elise would come over and invite her personally."
"Am I to be their guest entirely, papa?" asked Patty.
"Mr. Farrington insisted that you should, but I wouldn't agree to that. I shall pay all your travelling expenses, hotel bills, and incidentals. But if they take a furnished house in Paris for the season, as they expect to do, you will stay there as their guest."
"Oh," cried Patty, who had found her voice at last, "I do think it's too lovely for anything! And you are so good, papa, to let me go. But won't it cost a great deal, and can you afford it?"
"It will be somewhat expensive, my dear, but I can afford it, for, as I told you, my finances are looking up. And, too, I consider this a part of your education, and so look upon it as a necessary outlay. But you must remember that the Farringtons are far more wealthy people than we, and though you can afford the necessary travelling expenses, you probably cannot be as extravagant in the matter of personal expenditure as they. I shall give you what I consider an ample allowance of pin money, and then you must be satisfied with the number of pins it will buy."
"That doesn't worry me," declared Patty. "I'm so delighted to go that I don't care if I don't buy a thing over there."
"You'll change your mind when you get there and get into the wonderful Paris shops," said her father, smiling; "but never fear, puss; you'll have enough francs to buy all the pretty dresses and gewgaws and knick- knacks that it's proper for a little girl like you to have. How old are you now, Patty?"
"Almost eighteen, papa."
"Almost eighteen, indeed! You mean you're only fairly well past seventeen. But it doesn't matter. Remember you're a little girl, and not a society young lady, and conduct yourself accordingly."
"Mrs. Farrington will look out for that," said Nan; "she has the best possible ideas about such things, and she brings up Elise exactly in accordance with my notions of what is right."
"That settles it," said Mr. Fairfield; "I shall have no further anxiety on that score since Nan approves of the outlook. But, Patty girl, we're going to miss you here."
"Yes, indeed," cried Nan. "I hadn't realised that side of it. Oh, Patty, we had planned so many things for this winter, and now I shall be alone all day and every day!"
"Come on, and go with me," said Patty, mischievously.
"No," said Nan, smiling at her husband; "I have a stronger tie here even than your delightful companionship. But truly we shall miss you awfully."
"Of course you will," said Patty, "and I'll miss you, too. But we'll write each other long letters, and oh! I do think the whole game is perfectly lovely."
"So do I," agreed Nan; and then followed such a lot of feminine planning and chatter that Mr. Fairfield declared his advice seemed not to be needed.
The next morning Nan and Patty went over to the Farringtons to discuss the great subject. They expressed to Mrs. Farrington their hearty thanks for her kind invitation, but she insisted that the kindness was all on Patty's side, as her company would be a great delight, not only to Elise, but also to the elder members of the party.
"Isn't Roger going?" asked Patty.
"No," said Mrs. Farrington; "this is his last year in college, so of course he can't leave. The other children are in school, too, so it seemed just the right year for us to take Elise abroad for a little outing. A winter in Paris will do both of you girls good in lots of ways, and if for any reason we don't enjoy it, we can go somewhere else, or we can turn around and come home, and no harm done." Although the trip seemed such a great event to Patty, Mrs. Farrington appeared to look upon it merely as a little outing, and seemed so thoroughly glad to have Patty go with them that she almost made Patty feel as if she were conferring the favour.
Elise and Patty went away by themselves to talk it all over, while Nan stayed with Mrs. Farrington to discuss the more practical details.
"I didn't care a bit about going," said Elise, "until we thought about your going too, and now I'm crazy to go. Oh, Patty, won't we have the most gorgeous time!"
"Yes, indeed," said Patty; "I can hardly realise it yet. I'm perfectly bewildered. Shall we go to school, Elise?"
"I don't think so, and yet we may. Mother's going to take a house, you know, and then we'll either have masters every day, or go to some school. Mother knows all about Paris. She has lived there a lot. But we sha'n't have to study all the time, I know that much. We'll go sight- seeing a good deal, and of course we'll go motoring."
"I shall enjoy the ocean trip," said Patty; "I've never been across, you know. You've been a number of times, haven't you?"
"Yes, but not very lately. We used to go often when Roger and I were little, but I haven't been over for six years, and then we weren't in Paris."
"I'm sure I shall love Paris. Do you remember it well?"
"No; when I was there last I was too little to appreciate it, so we'll explore it together, you and I. I wish Roger were going with us; it's nice to have a boy along to escort us about."
"Yes, it is," said Patty frankly; "and Roger is so kind and good- natured. When do we sail, Elise?"
"Two weeks from Saturday, I think. Father is going to see about the tickets to-day. He waited to see your father yesterday, and make sure that you could go. The whole thing has been planned rather suddenly, but that's the way father always does things."
"And it's so fortunate," went on Patty, "that I hadn't started away to college or boarding-school. Although if I had, and you had invited me, I should have managed some way to get expelled from college, so I could go with you. How long do you suppose we shall stay, Elise?"
"I don't know, I'm sure. You never can tell what the Farringtons are
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