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- Patty's Suitors - 20/45 -


programme, and Mr. Bell wrote down "Cousin Ed" on Patty's card.

It was just after this that Kit came back for his second dance.

"Naughty girl," he said; "you've kept me waiting three-quarters of the evening."

"I thought I saw you dancing with several visions of beauty."

"Only killing time till I could get back to you. Come on, don't waste a minute."

It was a joy to Patty to dance with Cameron, for he was by all odds the best dancer she had ever met. And many admiring glances followed them as they circled the great room.

"How did you like your little brother?" Kit enquired.

"He's a ducky-daddles!" declared Patty, enthusiastically. "Just a nice all-round boy, frank and jolly and good-natured."

"That's what I am."

"Not a bit of it! You're a musician; freakish, temperamental, touchy, and--a woman-hater."

"Gracious! what a character to live up to,--or down to. But I hate YOU awfully, don't I?"

"I don't know. I never can feel sure of these temperamental natures."

"Well, don't you worry about feeling sure of me. The longer you live, the surer you'll feel."

"That sounds like 'the longer she lives the shorter she grows,'" said Patty, flippantly.

"Yes, the old nursery rhyme. Well, you are my candle,--a beacon, lighting my pathway with your golden beams----"

"Oh, do stop! That's beautiful talk, but it's such rubbish."

"Haven't you ever noticed that much beautiful talk IS rubbish?"

"Yes, I have. And I'm glad that you think that way, too. Beautiful thoughts are best expressed by plain, sincere words, and have little connection with 'beautiful talk.'"

"Patty Fairfield, you're a brick! And, when I've said that, I can't say anything more."

"A gold brick?"

"Not in the usual acceptance of that term; but you're pure gold, and I'm jolly well glad I've found a girl like you."

There was such a ring of sincerity in Cameron's tone that Patty looked up at him suddenly. And the honest look in his eyes made it impossible for her to return any flippant response.

"And I'm glad, too, that we are friends, Kit," she said, simply.

The next dance was Mr. Bell's, and that rosy-cheeked youth came up blithely to claim it.

"Come along, Cousin Patty," he said, and Cameron stared at him in amazement.

"Are you two cousins?" he said.

"Once removed," returned Eddie Bell, gaily; "and this is the removal." He took Patty's hand and laid it lightly within his own arm as he led her away.

"Don't let's dance right off," he begged. "Let's rest a minute in this bosky dell."

The dell was an alcove off the ballroom, which contained several palms and floral baskets and a deep, cushioned window-seat.

"Let's sit here and watch the moon rise;" and he led Patty toward the window-seat, where he deftly arranged some cushions for her.

"I believe the moon rises to-morrow afternoon," said Patty.

"Well, I don't mind waiting. Sit here, won't you? These stupid cushions ought to be of a golden yellow or a pale green. However, this old rose does fairly well for our blond beauty. Isn't it nice we're of the same type and harmonise with the same furnishings? When we're married we won't have to differ about our house decorations." "When we are WHAT?"

"Married, I said. You know, you're not really my second cousin and there's absolutely no bar to our union."

This was quite the most audacious young man Patty had ever met. But she was quite equal to the situation.

"Of course there isn't," she said, lightly. "And, when I think of the economy of our being able to use the same colour scheme, it IS an inducement."

"And meantime we must get better acquainted, as you said when we were dancing. May I come to see you in the city? Where do you live?"

"In Seventy-second Street," said Patty, "but I feel it my duty to tell you that there's already a long line awaiting admission."

"Oh, yes, I've seen that line when I've been passing. It goes clear round the corner of the block. Do I have to take my place at the end, or can I have a special favour shown me?"

"I'm sure your sense of justice wouldn't permit that. You take your place at the end of the line, and when your turn comes I'll be glad to welcome you."

"Then that's all right," said Mr. Bell, cheerfully, "and you'll be surprised to see how soon I appear! Now, lady fair, would you rather go and dance or sit here and listen to me converse?"

"It's pleasant to rest a little," and Patty nestled into her cushions, "and you really ARE amusing, you know. Let's stay here a little while."

"Now, isn't that nice of you! Do you want to talk, too, or shall I do it all and give you a complete rest?"

"You do it all," said Patty, indolently. "It will be like going to a monologue entertainment."

"At your orders. What subject would you like?"

"Yourself."

"Oh, wise beyond your years! You know the subject that most interests a man."

"That isn't pretty!" And Patty frowned at him. "There ought to be another subject more interesting to you than that!"

"There is; but I don't dare trust myself with HER!"

Mr. Bell's manner and voice were so exactly the right mixture of deferential homage and burlesque that Patty laughed in delight.

"You are the DEAREST man!" she cried.

He looked at her reproachfully. "You said I might do all the talking, and now you're doing it yourself."

"I'll be still now. Avoid that subject you consider dangerous and tell me all about yourself."

"Well, once upon a time, there was a beautiful young man who rejoiced in the poetic and musical name of Eddie Bell. I know he was a beautiful young man, because he was said to resemble the most beautiful girl in the whole world. Well, one evening he had the supreme good fortune to meet this girl, and he realised at once that he had met his Fate,--his Fate with a VERY large F. Incidentally, the F stood for Fairfield, which made his Fate all the more certain. And so----"

"Patty, are you here?" and Ken Harper came through the palms toward them. "This is our dance."

"Good gracious, Ken, is this dance the next dance? I mean is this dance over, or is this dance our dance."

"You seem a little mixed, Patty, but this is our dance and I claim it. Are you RESTED enough?"

Patty rose and, with a simple word of excuse to Mr. Bell, went away with Kenneth.

"That's the first time, Ken, in all our friendship that I ever knew you to say anything horrid," and Patty looked at him with a really hurt expression.

"I didn't say anything horrid," and Kenneth's fine face wore a sulky expression.

"You did, too. You asked me if I were RESTED in a horrid, sarcastic tone; and you meant it for a reproof, because I sat out that dance with Mr. Bell."

"You had no business to go and hide behind those palms with him."

"We didn't hide! That's only a bay-window alcove,--a part of the ballroom. I have a perfect right to sit out a dance if I choose."

"That young chap was too familiar, anyway. I heard him calling you 'Cousin Patty.'"

"Oh, fiddlestrings, Ken! Don't be an idiot! We were only joking. And I'm not so old, yet, but what I can let a boy call me by my first name if I choose. When I'm twenty I'm going to be Miss Fairfield; but while I'm nineteen anybody can call me Patty,--if I give him permission."


Patty's Suitors - 20/45

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