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- Patty's Butterfly Days - 10/40 -
too, need my beauty sleep."
"You need nothing of the sort,--you're too beautiful as it is!"
"Oh, Mona,--Monissima! DON'T say those things to me! I'm but a weak-minded simpleton, and I MIGHT think you meant them, and grow conceited! Hie thee away, fair maiden, and hie pretty swiftly, too. And call me not to breakfast foods until that the sun is well toward the zenith."
"You needn't get up till you choose, Patty. You know you are mistress here."
"No, you're that. I'm merely the adviser-in-chief. And what I say goes!"
"Indeed it does! Good-night, Patty."
"Good-night, Mona. Scoot!"
The next morning Patty was making one of her "peregrinating toilettes." She could dress as quickly as any one, if occasion required; but, if not, she loved to walk slowly about as she dressed, pausing now and then to look out of a window or into a book. So she dawdled through her pretty rooms, brushing her curly golden mop, and singing softly to herself.
"Come in," she said, in answer to a tap at her door, and Mona burst in, in a wild state of excitement.
"Aunt Adelaide has arrived!" she exclaimed.
"Well, that isn't a national calamity, is it?" returned Patty. "Why this look of dismay?"
"Wait till you see her! SHE'S a National Calamity!"
"Well, then, we must get Susan back again! But what's wrong with your noble aunt?"
"Oh, Patty, she's so queer! I haven't seen her for some years, but she's not a bit as I remembered her."
"Oh, don't take it too seriously. Perhaps we can make her over to suit ourselves. Did you expect her so early?"
"No; but she said she came early to avoid the midday heat. It's almost eleven. Do finish dressing, Patty, and come down to see her."
"Hasten me not, my child. Aunt Adelaide will keep, and I'm not in rapid mood this morning."
"Oh, bother; come on down as you are, then. That negligee thing is all right."
"No; Aunt Adelaide might think me a careless young person. I shall get into a tidy frock, and appear before her properly."
"Well, go on and do it, then. I'll wait for you." Mona sat down to wait, and Patty dropped into a chair before her dressing-table, and soon twisted up her curls into presentable shape.
"I declare, Patty," Mona said, "the quicker you twist up that yellow mop of yours, the more it looks like a coiffure in a fashion paper."
"And, as a rule, THEY look like the dickens. But describe the visitor to me, Mona."
"No; I'll let you get an unbiased first impression. Here's Janet, now DO get dressed."
Except on occasions of haste, or elaborate toilette, Patty preferred to dress herself, but she submitted to Janet's ministrations, and in a few minutes was hooked into a fresh morning dress of blue and white mull.
"On, Stanley, on!" she cried, catching Mona's hand, and dancing out into the hall. "Where is the Calamity?"
"Hush, she'll hear you! Her rooms are just over here. She told me to bring you."
As Patty afterward confided to Mona, she felt, when introduced to Mrs. Parsons, as if she were making the acquaintance of a ghost.
The little lady was so thin, so pale, and so generally ethereal looking, that it seemed as if a strong puff of wind would blow her away.
Her face was very white, her large eyes a pale blue, and her hair that ashen tint which comes when light hair turns grey. The hand she languidly held out to Patty was transparent, and so thin and limp that it felt like a glove full of small bones. Her voice was quite in keeping with her general air of fragility. It was high, thin and piping, and she spoke as if every word were a tax on her strength.
"How do you do, my dear?" she said, with a wan little smile at Patty. "How pretty you are! I used to be pretty, too; at least, so they told me." She gave a trilling little laugh, and Patty said, heartily, "I'm sure they were right; I approve their opinion."
This pleased Mrs. Parsons mightily, and she leaned back among her chair cushions with a satisfied air.
Patty felt a distinct liking for the little lady, but she wondered how she expected to perform a chaperon's duties for two vigorous, healthy young girls, much inclined to gaieties.
"I am not ill," Mrs. Parsons said, almost, it seemed, in answer to Patty's unspoken thought. "I am not very strong, and I can't stand hot weather. But I am really well,--though of a delicate constitution."
"Perhaps the sea air will make you stronger after a time," suggested Patty.
"Oh, I hope so; I hope so. But I fear not. However, I am trying a new treatment, combined with certain medicines, which I am sure will help my failing health. They tell me I am always trying new remedies. But, you see, the advertisements recommend them so highly that I feel sure they will cure me. And, then, they usually make me worse."
The little lady said this so pathetically that Patty felt sorry for her.
"But you have a doctor's advice, don't you?" she asked.
"No; I've no faith in doctors. One never knows what they put in their old prescriptions. Now when I buy one of these advertised medicines, they send me a lot of little books or circulars telling me all about it. This last treatment of mine sends more reading matter, I think, than any of the others, and their pamphlets are SO encouraging."
"But, Aunt Adelaide," broke in Mona, "if you're somewhat of an invalid, how did you come to promise father that you'd look after us girls this summer?"
"I'm not an invalid, my dear. I'm sure a few more weeks, or perhaps less, of this cure I am trying now will make me a strong, hearty woman."
Patty looked at the weak little creature, and concluded that if any medicine could make her strong and hearty, it must indeed be a cure-all.
"May I call you Aunt Adelaide, too?" she said, gently, for she wanted to be on the pleasantest possible terms with Mrs. Parsons, and hoped to be able to help her in some way.
"Yes, yes, my dear. I seem to take to you at once. I look upon you and Mona both as my nieces and my loved charges. I had a little daughter once, but she died in infancy. Had she lived, I think she would have looked like you. You are very pretty, my dear."
"You mustn't tell me so, Aunt Adelaide," said Patty, smiling at her. "It isn't good chaperonage to make your girls vain."
"Mona is pretty, too," went on Mrs. Parsons, unheeding Patty's words. "But of a different type. She hasn't your air of refinement,--of class."
"Oh, don't discuss us before each other," laughed Mona, good- naturedly. "And I'm jealous and envious enough of Patty already, without having those traits fostered."
"Yes," went on Aunt Adelaide, reminiscently, "my little girl had blue eyes and golden hair,--they said she looked like me. She was very pretty. Her father was a plain-looking man. Good as gold, Henry was, but plain looking. Not to say homely,--but just plain."
A faraway look came in the speaker's eyes, and she rambled on and on about her lost husband and daughter, until Patty looked at Mona questioningly.
"Yes, yes, Aunt Adelaide," Mona said, speaking briskly; "but now, don't you want to change your travelling gown for something lighter? And then will you lie down for a while, or come with us down to the west veranda? It is always cool there in the morning."
"No, I don't want to lie down. I'll join you girls very shortly. I suppose you have a maid for me, Mona? I shall need one for my exclusive service."
"Oh, yes, Auntie; you may have Lisette."
"Not if she's French. I can't abide a French maid."
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