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- Patty in Paris - 7/31 -
detained her for a moment while he said: "Little girl, will you miss me while you're away?"
"Even if I expected to I wouldn't own up to it," said Patty, as she gave him a mischievous glance.
"Why wouldn't you own up to it?" Mr. Hepworth spoke quite seriously and looked intently at the pretty face before him, with its golden hair crowned by the shining green sea-wreath.
"I don't know," said Patty slowly. She felt herself forced by his impelling gaze to raise her eyes to his, and for the first time it occurred to her that Mr. Hepworth felt more interest in her than she had ever suspected. "I don't know why I wouldn't own up to it, I'm sure," she went on; "in fact, now that I come to think of it, I believe I should own up to it."
"Well, own it then. Tell me you will miss me, and will sometimes wish I might be with you."
"Oh," cried Patty, laughing merrily, "I only meant I would own it if it were true. Of course I sha'n't really miss you; there'll be so much to amuse and interest me that I sha'n't have time to miss anybody except papa and Nan."
"That's just what I thought," said Mr. Hepworth.
At last the day of sailing came. The steamer was to leave her dock at three o'clock on Saturday afternoon, and soon after two Patty went on board, accompanied by Nan and her father.
A crowd of friends had also gathered to bid Patty goodspeed, and besides these the Farringtons had many friends there to say good-bye to them.
With the exception of Marian, it was not a sad parting. Indeed it seemed rather a hilarious occasion than otherwise. This was partly because most of the persons concerned felt truly sorry to miss Patty's bright presence out of their lives, and feared that if they showed any regret the situation might become too much for them.
Hilda and Lorraine felt this especially, and they were so absurdly gay that it was quite clear to Patty that their gaiety was assumed. But she was grateful to them for it, for, as she had previously confided to Nan, she didn't want a weepy, teary crowd to bid her good-bye; she wanted to go away amid laughter and smiles.
As the brief hour before sailing passed, more and more people came to see them off, and Patty began to think that everybody she ever knew would be there.
Many of the friends brought gifts, and many had already sent fruit or flowers, both to the Farringtons and to Patty. Down in the dining-saloon a whole table was occupied with the gifts to their party, and more than a fair proportion of these belonged to Patty. She was quite bewildered, for sailing away from her native land was a new experience to her, and it had never occurred to her that it would include this elaborate profusion of farewell gifts.
There was a great basket of red roses from Winthrop Warner, and Bertha had sent a box of candy. Roger had sent candy, too, and Kenneth had sent a beautiful basket of fruit that seemed to include every known variety. Nor were the gifts only from Patty's intimate friends. She was surprised to learn how many of her acquaintances and relatives and casual friends had sent a token of good wishes for her voyage. The truth is that Patty was a general favourite and made friends with all whom she met.
Mr. Hepworth had once told her that she was a Dispenser of Happiness. If so, she was now reaping the reward, for her friends had surely showered happiness upon her.
And besides the table full of gifts there were many letters and telegrams in the ship's little post-office. These delighted Patty, too, and she laid the budget aside to enjoy after the trip had fairly begun.
Among the last to arrive was Mr. Hepworth. He brought no fruit or flowers, but he was followed by a messenger boy fairly staggering under the weight of his burden.
"I knew, Patty," he said, "that you'd have all the flowers and fruit and sweets you could possibly want, so I've brought you a different kind of gift."
"There seems to be plenty of it," said Patty as she looked at the small boy. His arms were full of papers and magazines, which, as they afterward discovered, included every newspaper, magazine, and weekly periodical published in New York.
"You know," said Mr. Hepworth, "you can't get current reading matter after you start, and a good deal of this stuff you won't find in Paris, either; though you can get American publications there more easily than you can in London. But read what you want, Patty, and pitch the rest overboard."
The boy was directed to carry his load to Patty's stateroom and deposit it there. Patty thanked Mr. Hepworth for his thoughtful gift, and said she would read every word of it and probably carry a great deal of it ashore with her.
"Come on, Patty," said Kenneth, "we're going to see where your deck chairs are, so we can have a mental picture of just how you're going to look for the next week or so."
About a dozen merry young people trooped up the next deck and found the chairs that had been reserved for the Farrington party. But when Patty saw them she burst out laughing. The two that were intended for herself and Elise had been decorated in an absurd fashion. They were tied with ribbon bows and bunches and garlands of flowers. They were filled with fancy pillows, and tied on in several places were letters and small packages done up in paper.
"They look like ridiculous Christmas trees," cried Patty. "I'm crazy to open those bundles, for I know they're full of foolishness that you girls have rigged up for us."
"Don't open them now," said Hilda, "for we have to leave you and go ashore in a few moments. Now, Patty, you will write to us, won't you?"
"I rather think I will," cried Patty; "you've all been so good to me I never could thank you enough if I wrote every day and all day."
"Come with me, Patty," said Kenneth; "I want to show you something up at this end of the ship."
So Patty went off with Kenneth, and when they were well away from the laughing crowd he drew a small box from his pocket and gave it to her, saying: "Patty, you mustn't think I'm a sentimental fool, for I'm not; but I wish you'd wear that while you're away, and sometimes think of me."
Patty flashed a comical glance at him.
"Good gracious, Ken," she exclaimed, "it's an awful funny thing, this going away; it makes all your friends so serious and so afraid you'll forget them. Of course I shall think of you while I'm away."
"Who else has been asking you to think of him?" growled Kenneth; "that ridiculous Hepworth, I suppose! Well, now look here, miss, you're to think of me twice to his once. Do you understand that?"
"Yes, I understand," said Patty demurely; "and now may I look in the box before I promise to wear your gift? It might be a live beetle. I saw a lady once who wore a live beetle attached to a tiny gold chain. Oh, it was awful!"
"It isn't a live beetle," said Kenneth, smiling, "but it is attached to a tiny gold chain. Yes, of course you may look at it, and if you don't like it you needn't wear it."
So Patty opened the box and discovered a little gold locket, set with tiny pearls and hanging from a slender gold chain. It was very graceful and dainty, and Patty's first impulse was one of delight. But as she looked up and met Kenneth's serious gaze she suddenly wondered if she were promising too much to say she would wear it.
"What's inside of it?" she inquired, as if to gain time.
"Look and see."
Patty opened the locket and found it contained a most attractive picture of Kenneth's handsome, boyish face.
"What a splendid likeness!" she exclaimed; "you're awfully good-looking, Ken, and I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll wear the locket with pleasure-- sometimes, you know, not all the time, of course--until I find somebody who is handsomer than you, or--whom I like better."
"Pooh," cried Kenneth, "I don't care how often you replace it with a picture of a handsomer man, but, Patty, I don't want you to find any one you like better. Promise me you won't."
"Oh, I can't promise that, Ken. Just think of the fascinating Frenchmen I shall probably meet, with their waxed moustaches and their dandified manners. How can I help liking them better than a plain, unvarnished American boy?"
"All right, my lady; if you set your affections on a French popinjay, I'll come over there and fight a duel with him. I know you're too sensible to look at those addle-pated dandies, but I wish you'd promise not to like anybody better than THIS plain, unvarnished American boy."
"I won't promise you anything, Ken," said Patty, not unkindly, but with a gentle, definite air. "I thank you for your locket. It is beautiful, and I do love pretty things. I'll wear it sometimes; let me see, to-day is Saturday; well, I'll wear it every Saturday; that will insure your being thought of at least once a week."
And with this Kenneth had to be content, for a roguish laugh appeared in Patty's eyes and he knew she would not treat matters seriously any further.
Dropping the locket in her little handbag, Patty turned to go back to the others.
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