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- Patty's Butterfly Days - 3/40 -
the long, curled lashes. "Come on, girls, I'm going home before I express myself too strongly."
So Jack and the Sayre girls went away, and Patty went up to her own room.
That night, when Patty was alone in her own room, she threw herself into a rocking chair, and rocked violently, as was her habit, when she had anything to bother her. She looked about at the pretty room, furnished with all her dear and cherished belongings.
"To go away from all this," she thought, "and be mewed up in a little bare room, with a few sticks of horrid old furniture, and nowhere to put things away decently!"
She glanced at her room wardrobes and numerous chiffoniers and dressing-tables.
"Live in a trunk, I s'pose," she went on to herself; "all my best frocks in a mess of wrinkles, all my best hats smashed to windmills! No broad ocean to look at! Nothing but mountains with trees all over their sides! Nothing to do but walk up rocky, steep paths to a spring, take a drink of water, and come stumbling down again! In the evenings, dress up, and promenade eighty thousand feet of veranda, AS ADVERTISED!"
Roused to a frenzy by her own self-pity and indignation, Patty got up and stalked about the room. She flung off her pretty summer frock, and slipped on a blue silk kimono. Then she sat down in front of her dressing-table to brush her hair for the night.
She drew out the pins, and great curly masses came tumbling down around her shoulders. Patty's hair was truly golden, and did not turn darker as she grew older.
She brushed away slowly, and looked at herself in the mirror. What she saw must have surprised her, for she dropped her brush in astonishment.
"Well, Patricia Fairfield!" she exclaimed to her own reflection. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself! YOU, who are supposed to be of amiable disposition, YOU whom people call 'Sunshine,' because of your good nature, YOU who have every joy and every blessing that heart can wish, you look like a sour-faced, cross-grained, disgruntled old maid! So there now! And, Miss, do you want to know what _I_ think of you?" She picked up her hair brush, and shook it at the flushed, angry face in the mirror. "Well, _I_ think you're a monster of selfishness! You're a dragon of ingratitude! And a griffin of cross-patchedness! Now, Miss, WILL you drop this attitude of injured innocence, and act like a civilised human being?"
Patty was a little over hard on herself. She hadn't at all exhibited such traits as she charged herself with, but she was not a girl to do things by halves. She sat, calmly looking at her own face, until the lines smoothed themselves out of her forehead, the dimples came back to her cheeks, and the laughter to her blue eyes.
"That's better!" she said, wagging her head at the pretty, smiling face. "Now, never again, Patty Fairfield, let me see you looking mopy or peevish about anything! Mind, not about anything at all! You have enough blessings and pleasures to make up for any disappointments that may come to you. So, now that you've braced up, just STAY braced up! See?"
The scolding, though self-inflicted, did Patty good, and humming a lively tune, she busied herself with arranging some fans and frills in boxes to take away with her.
If stray thoughts of the Pageant or the Fancy Dance crept into her mind, she determinedly thrust them out, and forced her anticipations to the unknown fun and gaiety she would enjoy at the big Mountain Houses.
And when at last, ready for bed, she stood in front of her long cheval glass, the folds of her blue dressing gown trailing away from her pretty, lace-frilled nightgown, she shook her forefinger warningly at the smiling reflection.
"Now, mind you, Patricia, not a whimper out of you to-morrow! Not a shadow of a shade of disappointment on your fair young brow? Only happy smiles and pleasant words, and just MAKE yourself enjoy the prospect of those poky, gloomy, horrid old mountains!"
It will be easily seen that Patty was amenable to discipline, for next morning she went dancing downstairs, looking like amiability personified. Even Nan came to the conclusion that Patty was reconciled to the mountain trip, and had begun to see the pleasanter side of it.
Mr. Fairfield regarded his daughter approvingly. Though Patty had not been cross or glum the day before, she had been silent, and now she treated her hearers to a flood of gay and merry chatter.
Only a fleeting shadow across her face, or a sudden, pained look in her eyes when Spring Beach matters were mentioned, revealed to her watchful father the fact that Patty's gaiety was the result of brave and honest will-power. But such shadows passed as quickly as they came, and the girl's pleasant and sweet demeanour was not unappreciated by her elders.
She joined heartily in the plans for the mountain trip; discussed itineraries with her father, and costumes with Nan.
As the three sat on the veranda, thus engaged, a flying figure came through the gate like a whirlwind, and Mona Galbraith precipitated herself into the family group.
"Why, Mona, you look a little,--er,--hasty!" exclaimed Patty as, out of breath, their visitor plumped herself into a swing and twirled its tasselled ropes, while she regained her breath.
"Yes,--yes,--and well I may!" she panted. "What DO you think, Patty? Oh, Mr. Fairfield, DO say yes! Coax him to, won't you, Mrs. Fairfield! Oh, I can't tell you,--I daren't! I just KNOW you won't do it! Oh, Patty, do,--DO!"
Impetuous Mona had swayed out of the swing in her eagerness, and was now kneeling by Patty's side, stroking her hand, and gazing into her face with imploring eyes.
"Mona Galbraith," said Patty, laughing, "are you rehearsing for melodrama, or what? For, if so, you don't know your lines, and you're 'way off on your gestures, and--and, as a whole, your act is not convincing."
"Oh, don't say that, Patty!" exclaimed Mona, laughing herself. "ANYTHING but that! It must be convincing,--it must,--it MUST!"
"Is it meant for a roaring farce?" asked Mr. Fairfield, politely, "or merely high comedy?"
"I think it's a problem play," said Nan, laughing anew at the excited visitor, who had returned to the swing, and was vigorously pushing herself back and forth with her slippered toe.
"Let me help you, Mona," said Mr. Fairfield, kindly. "Is it something you have to tell us,--or ask us?"
"Yes, sir, yes! That's it!"
"Well, tell us, then. But take your time and tell us quietly. Then you won't get incoherent."
The quiet friendliness of his tones seemed to reassure the girl, and letting the swing stand still, Mona began:
"You see, Mr. Fairfield,--and Mrs. Fairfield, my father is going to Europe next week. It's on a business trip, and he only just found out that he had to go. He will take me with him if I want to go, but I don't! So I proposed a plan to him instead of that, which he thinks is fine. And,--and, I want to know what you think about it."
"We will probably approve of it, if your father does," said Nan, helpfully.
"Well--it's just this. For me to stay at home, and keep our house open, and have Patty stay there with me, instead of her going to the mountains with you."
"You and Patty stay there alone!" exclaimed Mr. Fairfield.
"No, sir; not alone. Father would ask his sister, my Aunt Adelaide, to stay with us, as chaperon. She's a lovely lady, and she'd be glad to come."
"Well, I don't know,--I don't know," said Mr. Fairfield. "I'm not sure I could go off and leave Patty with strangers."
"But I'm not a stranger," said Mona, "and Aunt Adelaide won't be, as soon as you know her. I haven't seen her myself for some years, but she's a lovely, sweet character,--everybody says so. And then, you see, we wouldn't have to close up our house, and Patty wouldn't have to leave Spring Beach,--and, oh, we could have lovely times!"
"How long will your father be gone?"
"Two months. August and September. He would rather take me with him, but he said if you all agreed to my plan, he would do so, too."
"Well, it's a surprise," said Mr. Fairfield, "and we'll have to think it over, and talk it over. How does it strike you, Patty?"
Patty considered. It was her habit to decide quickly, but this was a case with several sides to be looked at. Yet, of course, it must be decided at once, for Mr. Galbraith must have time to make his preparations.
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