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- Patty's Butterfly Days - 20/40 -
"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
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