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- Patty's Butterfly Days - 4/40 -
Patty's heart jumped with joy at the thought of staying at Spring Beach instead of going to the mountains. But--the joy was a little dampened at the idea of staying with Mona, and not at "The Pebbles."
"Why can't we both stay here?" she said at last. "Let Mona visit me here, and let her aunt chaperon us just the same."
"Oh, no," Mona said. "I know father wouldn't consent to that. You see, it's a great undertaking to close up our big place, and find homes for the servants, and look after the horses and gardens and all that, just for two months. Father was relieved at the thought of just walking off and leaving it all in charge of Aunt Adelaide. And then, we could have so much more room there, you know--" Mona paused, blushing. She did not want to imply that "Red Chimneys" was a grandly appointed mansion, while "The Pebbles" was only a pretty cottage, but that was what she meant.
"Yes, I know," said Nan, kindly helping her out. "You have such immense grounds, and luxuries of all sorts. Why, your place is a Pleasure Park of itself, with the pond and tennis court, and fountains and grottoes and all such things."
"Yes, it is a lovely summer place," said Mona, earnestly, "and I should do everything I could to make Patty happy there. I know how much she wants to stay at Spring Beach, and it seemed such a satisfactory plan all round."
Patty was still thinking. But, by this time, she was wondering if she were really a selfish, disagreeable snob or not. For, the truth was, Patty did not entirely like Mona, though she had grown to like her much better than at first. Nor did she like Mona's home, with its ostentatiously expensive appointments, both indoors and out. And yet, it was exceedingly comfortable and luxurious, and Patty knew she could do exactly as she chose in every respect.
But, again, Patty was a favourite in Spring Beach society, and Mona was not. This might cause complications in the matter of invitations to entertainments. But Patty knew this would mostly redound to Mona's benefit. She would be asked on Patty's account to places where otherwise she would not have been invited. And Patty well knew SHE would be left out of nothing just because she was visiting Mona.
And yet, to accept her hospitality for two months meant to acknowledge her as an intimate friend,--a chosen companion. Was it quite honest to do this when, privately, Patty disapproved of many of Mona's ways and tastes? Then, it occurred to Patty that Mr. Hepworth had urged her to do what she could to help Mona,--to improve her manners, her dress, her tastes. Patty jumped at this idea, and then as suddenly paused to scrutinise her own motives, and make sure she was not pretending to herself that she did for Mona's sake what she was really doing for her own. But being quick at decisions, she saw at once that it was about evenly divided. She was willing, if she could, to help Mona in any way, and she felt that this justified her in accepting the offered hospitality of one whom she couldn't emulate.
Mr. Fairfield watched Patty's face closely, and knew pretty well what sort of a mental controversy she was holding with herself. He was not surprised when she said at last:
"Well, so far as I have a voice in this matter, I'd like to go. I think it's very kind of Mona to ask me, and I'd try not to be a troublesome visitor. You know, Father Fairfield, how much I would rather stay in Spring Beach than go to the mountains. And I suppose I could take my motor-car to Mona's with me."
"Yes, of course," Mona said. "And father says if I don't go to Europe, he'll buy me a runabout just like yours, and we can have lovely times going out together."
"Would your aunt come at once?" asked Nan, who wanted to know more about the chaperon who would have Patty in charge.
"Yes, father will send for her as soon as we decide. But you know, Mrs. Fairfield, I should keep house, as I always do, and Aunt Adelaide would only be with us in the cause of propriety."
Nan smiled at the thought of Mona's housekeeping, for "Red Chimneys" was so liberally provided with servants that Mona's duties consisted mainly in mentioning her favourite dishes to the cook.
"Are you sure you could behave yourself, Patty?" asked her father, teasingly, "without either Nan or myself to keep you in order?"
"Oh, yes," said Patty, drawing down the corners of her mouth demurely. "In fact, as I should be on my own responsibility, I'd have to be even more careful of my manners than I am at home."
Mr. Fairfield sighed a little. "Well, Puss," he said, "I really wanted you with us on our trip, but as you'd rather stay here, and as this way seems providentially opened for you, I can only say you may accept Mona's invitation if you choose."
"Then I DO choose, you dear old Daddy!" cried Patty, making a rush for her father, and, seating herself on the arm of his chair, she patted his head, while she told him how glad she was of his consent. "For," she said, "I made up my mind not to coax. If you didn't agree readily, I was going to abide by your wishes, without a murmur."
"Oh, what a goody-girl!" said Mr. Fairfield, laughing. "Now, you see, Virtue is its own reward."
"And I'm SO glad!" Mona declared, fervently. "Oh, Patty, we'll have perfectly elegant times! I was so afraid you wouldn't WANT to come to stay with me."
"Oh, yes, I do," said Patty, "but I warn you I'm a self-willed young person, and if I insist on having my own way, what are you going to do?"
"Let you have it," said Mona, promptly. "Your way is always better than mine."
"But suppose you two quarrel," said Mr. Fairfield, "what can you do then? Patty will have nowhere to go."
"Oh, we won't quarrel," said Mona, confidently. "Patty's too sweet-tempered,--"
"And you're too amiable," supplemented Nan, who was fond of Mona in some ways, though not in others. But she, too, thought that Patty would have a good influence over the motherless girl, and she was honestly glad that Patty could stay at her beloved seashore for the rest of the summer.
So it was settled, and Mona went flying home to carry the glad news to her father, and to begin at once to arrange Patty's rooms.
SUSAN TO THE RESCUE
The day that Mr. and Mrs. Fairfield were to start on their trip to the mountains came during what is known as "a hot spell." It was one of those days when life seems almost unbearable,--when the slightest exertion seems impossible.
There was no breeze from the ocean, and the faint, languid land breeze that now and then gave an uncertain puff, was about as refreshing as a heat-wave from an opened furnace door.
At the breakfast table, Patty tried to persuade them not to go that day. "You'll faint in the train, Nan, on a day like this," she said. "Do wait until to-morrow."
"There's no prospect of its being any better to-morrow," said Mr. Fairfield, looking anxious; "and I think the sooner Nan gets away, the better. She needs cool, bracing mountain air. The seashore doesn't agree with her as it does with you, Patty."
"I know it," said Patty, who loved hot weather. "Well, perhaps you'd better go, then; but it will be just BOILING on the train."
"No more so than here," said Nan, smiling. She wore a light pongee silk travelling gown, which was the coolest garb she could think of. "But what's bothering me is that Mrs. Parsons hasn't arrived yet."
"Oh, she'll come to-day," said Patty. "Mona says she telegraphed yesterday that it was too hot to travel, but she'd surely come to- day."
Mrs. Parsons was the aunt who was to chaperon the two girls at "Red Chimneys," and Nan wanted to see the lady before she gave Patty into her charge.
"But it's going to be just as warm to-day," went on Nan. "Suppose she can't travel to-day, either?"
"Oh, she'll have to," said Patty, lightly. "If you can travel, I guess she can. Now, Nan, don't bother about her. You've enough to do to think of yourself and try to keep cool. I'm glad Louise is going with you. She's a good nurse, and you must let her take care of you."
Louise was the lady's maid who looked after the welfare of both Nan and Patty. But as Patty was going to a house where servants were more than plentiful, it had been arranged that Louise should accompany Nan.
"Don't talk as if I were an invalid, Patty. I'm sensitive to the heat, I admit, and this weather is excessive. But I'm not ill, and once I get a whiff of mountain air I'll be all right."
"I know it, Nancy; and so fly away and get it. And don't waste a thought on poor, worthless me, for I shall be as happy as a clam. I just love broiling, sizzling weather, and I'm sure my experiences at Mona's will be novel--if nothing else,--and novelty is always interesting."
"I hope you will have a good time, Patty, but it all seems so
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