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- Patty's Butterfly Days - 30/40 -


CHAPTER XVI

THE SPIRIT OF THE SEA

The night of the Pageant was as beautiful as the most exacting young person could desire. There was no moon, but there seemed to be an extra bright scattering of stars to make up for it. A soft, cool ocean breeze stirred the air, there was no dampness, and everybody pronounced the evening as perfect as if specially made for the occasion.

An early dinner was served at "Red Chimneys," and then the guests dispersed to don their carnival costumes.

With her usual promptness, Patty was ready first, and coming down to the drawing-room, found nobody there. So she took opportunity to admire her own effects in the multitude of mirrors.

It was an exquisite reflection that faced her. She had not adopted Daisy's idea of fishnet, as that seemed to her too heavy. Laurence Cromer had approved of her own suggestions, and together they had designed her costume. It was of pale green chiffon, trailing away in long, wavy lines. Over it, hung from the shoulders a tunic-like drapery of white chiffon. This was frosted, here and there, with broken, shimmering lines of silver, and the whole effect hinted of moonlight on the sea.

Patty's wonderful hair fell in curling, tumbling masses over her shoulders and far down her back. In it were twined a few strands of seaweed,--beautifully coloured French work, which Laurence Cromer had procured from somewhere by a very special order. Across the top of her head a silver band confined the riotous curls, and from it, in the centre, rose an upright silver star.

Though simple, the whole costume was harmonious and picturesque, and suited Patty's fair beauty to perfection. Her bare arms and throat were soft and rounded as a baby's, and her lovely face had a pink glow of happiness, while her eyes were like two starlit violets.

She peacocked about the room, frankly delighted at her own reflection in the mirrors, and practised the pose she was to assume on the Float.

In the mirror she saw that a majestic figure was entering the room, and wheeling swiftly about, she beheld Father Neptune himself smiling at her.

Farnsworth had sent to a theatrical costumer in the city for his garb, and very handsome he looked in a dark green velvet robe that hung in classic folds. He wore a snow-white wig and long white beard, and a gold and jewelled crown that was dazzlingly regal. He carried a trident, and in all respects, looked the part as Neptune is so often pictured. Patty gazed at him a moment in silent admiration, and then sprang to her pose, lightly poised forward, her weight on one foot, and her arms gracefully outspread.

Big Bill held his breath. Always lithe and graceful, to-night Patty looked like a veritable spirit. Her floating draperies, her golden hair, and her perfect face, crowned with the single silver star, seemed to belong to some super-human being, not to a mere mortal.

Big Bill walked slowly toward her.

"Patty!" he murmured, almost beneath his breath. "Apple Blossom! I want you so!"

A lovelier pink rose to Patty's cheeks, for it was impossible to mistake the earnestness in Bill's voice. She smiled at him, gently for a moment, and then roguishly, and her dimples flashed into view, as she danced lightly away from him, calling back over her shoulder, "Catch me first!"

"You'll say that once too often yet, my lady!" declared Farnsworth, as he stood with folded arms looking after her, but not following her dancing footsteps.

At the hall doorway, Patty turned and looked back, down the long room. Farnsworth stood where she had left him, and his majestic pose, as he held his gilded trident, suited well his stalwart, magnificent physique.

"Come back here," he said, and his voice was not dictatorial, but quietly compelling.

Slowly Patty danced down the room, swaying, as if in rhythm with unheard music. As she came to a pause in front of Farnsworth, she made him a sweeping, mocking courtesy.

"Father Neptune, god of the Sea!" she said, as if offering homage.

Farnsworth raised his hand, dramatically.

"Spirit of the Sea," he said, "Nymph of the silver-crested waves, kneel before me!"

Catching his mood, Patty sank gracefully on one knee, bowing her fair head before the majestic sea-god.

"I crown thee," Neptune went on, "fairest of all nymphs, loveliest of all goddesses. Spirit of the Sea, but also, maiden of the apple blossoms."

Patty felt a light touch on her bowed head, but did not move, until a moment later, Neptune held out his hand.

"Rise, Spirit of the Sea, crowned by Neptune, god of the Ocean!"

Patty rose, and in a nearby mirror saw her crown. It was a slender wreath of wonderfully fine workmanship. Leaves of fairy-like silver filigree, and tiny apple blossoms, of pink and white enamel. Light in weight, soft, yet sparkling in effect, it rested on her fair head, in no way interfering with the silver star that flashed above it. Indeed, it seemed the last touch needed to perfect the beauty of Patty's costume, and her face was more than ever like an apple blossom as she turned to thank Farnsworth for his gift.

But before she could do so, several people sprang in from the hall, where they had been watching the coronation ceremony.

"Hooray for you two!" cried Roger. "You show true dramatic genius! Patty, you're a peach to-night! Bill, you're a hummer!"

Only Daisy was unsmiling. A pang of jealousy thrilled her heart, as she saw the exquisite picture Patty made, and saw, too, the lovely gift Farnsworth had given her. Daisy's costume was beautiful and exceedingly artistic, but the grey, misty garb seemed tame beside Patty's clear coloured draperies and bright, sea-weed tangled hair.

"Patty, you're wonderful!" Mona exclaimed. "If I weren't so weighted down with this dragging train, I'd hug you!"

Mona looked regal in her Cleopatra costume. She had chosen a rich white and gold brocaded satin, and the gold lace on the train which hung from her shoulders, made it heavy indeed. She was loaded with jewels, both real and paste, and her Egyptian headdress was both gorgeous and becoming. Mona had never looked so well, and Roger, who was Father Nile, expressed his admiration frankly.

"I say, Mona," he declared, "if the real Cleo Pat looked like you, I don't blame old Mark for flirting with her. Maybe I'll flirt with you before the evening is over."

"Ha! Minion! Methinks thou art presumptuous!" said Mona, marching about theatrically. But she smiled at Roger, for the two had become good friends.

Adele and Jim Kenerley were Dutch young people, and in blue and white cotton costumes, looked as if they had just alighted from an old Delft platter.

Laurence Cromer took no costume part, as he had to direct the posing of the characters and the scenic details of the parade.

Mrs. Parsons was enchanted with the gorgeousness of her party of young people, and when Patty gave her a sprig of seaweed to tuck in her bodice, she felt as if she belonged to the water carnival.

Motors carried the laughing crowd to the Sayres' house, from where the floats were to start.

Of course Old Ocean's Float led the parade. Though not very realistic, it was a theatrical representation of the sea, and the great billows, made of green muslin crested with cotton batting and stretched over somewhat wabbly framework, tossed and swayed almost like the Atlantic breakers. At the back end of the float was a great canopied throne, on which sat the gold-crowned Neptune holding his firmly planted trident. Before him seemed to dance the Spirit of the Sea, for Patty, now in one pose and now in another, was outlined against the dark billows with charming effect. A bright electric light streaming from a point above the throne, illuminated both characters and threw into relief the shells and seaweed that decorated the sides of the float.

The other floats were equally well done,--some even better in artistic conception. Each received uproarious applause as it rolled slowly along the line of march. Hotels and cottages were all illuminated, and the whole population of Spring Beach was out admiring the Pageant.

"Aren't you tired, Patty?" asked Farnsworth, gently, as she changed her pose.

"Yes, I am," she confessed; "but it isn't the posing,--it's the jolting. I had no idea the ocean was so rickety!"

"Poor little girlie! I wish I could do something for you. But we have to go a couple of miles further yet. Can you stand it!"

"Yes; but I'd rather SIT it!"

"Do! Come and sit on this throne beside me. There's plenty of room."

"Oh, nonsense, I couldn't. What would the people think?"


Patty's Butterfly Days - 30/40

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