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- Patty's Suitors - 2/45 -

"I'm sure your parties always are," returned Patty, kindly, for Marie was a shy sort of girl, and Patty was glad to encourage her.

As soon as the guests had all arrived St. Valentine appeared in the doorway.

It was Mr. Homer, but he was scarcely recognisable in his garb of the good old Saint.

He wore a red gown, trimmed with ermine, and a long white beard and wig.

He carried an enormous letter-bag, from which he distributed valentines to all. They were of the old-fashioned lace paper variety, and beautiful of their kind.

Mrs. Homer explained that on the valentine of every young man was a question, and the girl whose valentine had an answer to rhyme with it, was his partner for the first dance.

The young men were requested to read their valentines aloud in turn, and the girls to read their responsive answers.

This proceeding caused much hilarity, for the lines were exceedingly sentimental, and often affectionate.

When it was Roger Farrington's turn, he read out boldly:

"Where's the girl I love the best?"

and Marie Homer, who chanced to hold the rhyming valentine, whispered, shyly:

"I am sweeter than the rest!"

"You are, indeed!" said Roger, as he offered his arm with his courtliest bow.

Then Kenneth Harper read:

"Who's the fairest girl of all?"

and Mona Galbraith read, with twinkling eyes:

"I'll respond to that sweet call!"

Then it was Philip Van Reypen's turn. He glanced at his valentine, and asked:

"Who's a roguish little elf?"

Everybody laughed when a tall, serious-faced girl responded:

"I guess I am that, myself!"

It was toward the last that Clifford Morse asked:

"Who's the dearest girl I know?"

and as Patty's line rhymed, she said, demurely:

"Guess I am,--if YOU think so!"

"I'm in luck," said Clifford, as he led her to the dance. "You're such a belle, Patty Fairfield, that I seldom get a whole dance with you."

"Faint heart never won fair lady," laughed Patty, shaking her fan at him. "I always accept invitations."

"Accept mine, then, for the next dance," said Philip Van Reypen, who overheard her words as he was passing.

"No programmes to-night," returned Patty, smiling at him. "Ask me at dance time."

As no dances could be engaged ahead, except verbally, Patty was besieged by partners for every dance.

"Oh, dear," she cried, as, at the fourth dance, five or six eager young men were bowing before her; "what shall I do? I'd have to be a centipede to dance with you all! And I can't divide one dance into six parts. And I can't CHOOSE,-that would be TOO embarrassing! Let's draw lots. Lend me a coin, somebody."

"Here you are," said Van Reypen, handing her a bright quarter.

Patty took it, and put both hands behind her.

"You may try first, Phil, because you put up the capital. Right or left?"

"Right," said Philip, promptly.

Patty gaily brought her hands into view, and the quarter lay in her left palm.

"Next!" she said; "Mr. Downing."

"Left," chose that young man, as Patty again concealed her hands.

But that time she showed the coin in her right hand.

"My turn now," said Ken Harper, "AND, you'll please keep your hands in front of you! You don't do it right."

"Do you mean that I cheat?" cried Patty, in pretended rage.

"Oh, no, no! nothing like that! Only, this game is always played with the fists in view."

So Patty held her little gloved fists in front of her, while Kenneth chose.

"Right!" he said, and her right hand slowly opened and showed the shining coin.

"Were you going to take me, anyway?" asked Kenneth, as they walked off together. "And why did you turn down poor Van Reypen? He was awfully cut up."

"Ken Harper, do you mean to insinuate that I didn't play fair?"

"Yes, my lady, just that. Oh, cheating never prospers. You have to put up with me, you see!"

"I might do worse," and Patty flashed him a saucy glance.

"I wish you meant that."

"Oh, I do! I DO, Ken. Truly, there are lots of worse people than you in the world."


"Well,--there's Eddie Perkins."

"Oh, Patty! that fop! Well, I'll bet you can't think of another."

"No; I can't."

"Patty, how dare you! Then you'll sit right here until you can."

Laughingly Kenneth stopped dancing, and led Patty to an alcove where there were a few chairs. As they sat down, Philip Van Reypen came toward them.

"Oh, Ken," Patty cried, "I've thought of a man worse than you are! Oh, EVER so much worse! Here he is! And I simply adore bad men, so I'm going to dance with him."

Naughty Patty went dancing off with Van Reypen, and Ken looked after them, a little crestfallen.

"But," he thought, "there's no use being angry or even annoyed at that butterfly of a girl. She doesn't mean anything anyway. Some day, she'll wake up and be serious, but now she's only a little bundle of frivolity."

Kenneth had been friends with Patty for many years; far longer than any of her other young men acquaintances. He was honestly fond of her, and had a dawning hope that some time they might be more than friends. But he was a slow-going chap, and he was inclined to wait until he had a little more to offer, before he should woo the pretty butterfly.

And, too, Patty would never listen to a word of that sort of thing. She had often proclaimed in his hearing, that she intended to enjoy several years of gay society pleasures, before she would be engaged to any one.

So Kenneth idly watched her, as she circled the room with Van Reypen, and took himself off to find another partner.

"Oh, Valentine, fair Valentine," said Van Reypen to Patty, as they danced.

"Wilt thou be mine, and I'lt be thine," returned Patty, in mocking sing-song tones.

"Forever may our hearts entwine," improvised Philip, in tune to the music.

"Like chickwood round a punkin-vine," Patty finished.

"Pshaw, that's not sentimental. You should have said, Like sturdy oak and clinging vine."

"But I'm not sentimental. Who could be in a crowded ballroom, in a glare of light, and in a mad dance?"

"What conditions would make you feel sentimental?"

"Why,--let me see. Moonlight,--on a balcony,--with the right man."

"I'm the right man, all right,--and you know it. And if I'm not greatly mistaken, here's moonlight and a balcony!"

Sure enough, a long French window had been set slightly ajar to cool the overheated room, and almost before she knew it, Patty was

Patty's Suitors - 2/45

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