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- Patty's Suitors - 3/45 -


whisked outside.

"Oh, Philip! Don't! you mustn't! I'll take cold. I ought to have something around me."

"You have," said Van Reypen, calmly, and as he had not yet released her from the dance he held his arms lightly round her shoulders.

Patty was angry. She knew Philip loved her,--several times he had asked her to marry him,--but this was taking an unfair advantage.

The February wind itself was not colder than the manner with which she drew away from him, and stepped back into the ballroom.

"My dear, my dear," exclaimed Mrs. Homer, who chanced to be near, "how imprudent! You should not go out without a wrap."

"I know it, Mrs. Homer," and Patty looked so sweetly penitent that her hostess could but smile at her. "But, truly, I just stepped out a single second to get a tiny breath of air. The room IS warm, isn't it? May I stay here by you a few moments?"

"Yes, indeed," and Mrs. Homer drew the girl down beside her on the sofa. "You're not robust, my child, and you mustn't run foolish risks."

"You're quite right, and I won't do it again. But on a night not quite so cold, that balcony, flooded with moonlight, must be a romantic spot."

"It is, indeed," said Mrs. Homer, smiling. "My young people think so; and I hope you will have many opportunities in the future to see it for yourself."

"Your young people? Have you other children besides Marie?"

"Yes; I have a daughter who is away at boarding-school. And, also, I have a nephew, whose home is in this same building."

"Is he here to-night?"

"No; Kit hates dances. Of course, that's because he doesn't dance himself. He's a musician."

"Kit? What a funny name."

"It's Christopher, really, Christopher Cameron; but he's such a happy-go-lucky sort of chap, we naturally call him Kit."

"I think I should like him," said Patty. "Would he like me?"

"No," said Mrs. Homer, her eyes twinkling at Patty's look of amazement. "He detests girls. Even my daughters, his cousins, are nuisances, he says. Still he likes to come down here and sit on my balcony, and tease them. He lives with his parents in the apartment just above us."

"He sounds an interesting youth," said Patty, and then, as Roger came up and asked her for a dance, she promptly forgot the musical nephew.

At supper-time, Patty's crowd of intimates gathered around her, and they occupied a pleasant corner of the dining-room.

"What'll you have, Patsums?" asked Roger, as a waiter brought a tray full of dainty viands.

"Sandwiches and bouillon," said Patty, promptly; "I'm honestly hungry."

"The result of exercise in the open air," murmured Philip Van Reypen, as he took a seat directly behind her.

Patty gave an involuntary giggle, and then turned upon Philip what she meant to be an icy glare. He grinned back at her, which made her furious, and she deliberately and ostentatiously ignored him.

"Hello, you two on the outs?" inquired Kenneth, casually.

"Oh, no!" said Philip, with emphasis; "far from it!"

So, as Patty found it impossible to snub such cheerfulness, she concluded to forgive and forget.

"There's something doing after supper," remarked Roger. "Miss Homer dropped a hint, and even now they're fixing something in the ballroom."

"What can it be?" said Elise, craning her neck to see through a doorway.

"It's a game," said Marie Homer, who had just joined the group. "I told mother, you all considered yourselves too grown-up for games, but she said she didn't want to have the whole evening given over to dancing. So you will play it, won't you?"

"Sure we will!" declared Kenneth, who admired the shy little girl.

Marie was new in their set, but they all liked her. She was timid only because she felt unacquainted, and the good-natured crowd did all they could to put her at ease.

"Games!" exclaimed Philip; "why, I just love 'em! I'll play it, whatever it is."

"I too," said Patty. "It will be a jolly change from dancing."

CHAPTER II

ON THE TELEPHONE

When the young people returned to the ballroom, it presented a decidedly changed appearance. Instead of an interior scene, it was a winter landscape.

The floor was covered with snow-white canvas, not laid on smoothly, but rumpled over bumps and hillocks, like a real snow field. The numerous palms and evergreens that had decorated the room, were powdered with flour and strewn with tufts of cotton, like snow. Also diamond dust had been lightly sprinkled on them, and glittering crystal icicles hung from the branches.

At each end of the room, on the wall, hung a beautiful bear-skin rug.

These rugs were for prizes, one for the girls and one for the boys. And this was the game.

The girls were gathered at one end of the room and the boys at the other, and one end was called the North Pole, and the other the South Pole. Each player was given a small flag which they were to plant on reaching the Pole.

This would have been an easy matter, but each traveller was obliged to wear snowshoes. These were not the real thing, but smaller affairs made of pasteboard. But when they were tied on, the wearer felt clumsy indeed, and many of the girls declared they could not walk in them at all. And in addition each one was blindfolded.

However, everybody made an attempt, and at a given signal the young people started from their opposite ends of the room and endeavoured to make progress toward the goal as they blindly stumbled along.

Patty concluded to move very slowly, thinking this the surest way to make a successful trip. So she scuffled along among the other laughing girls, now and then stumbling over a hillock, which was really a hassock or a sofa cushion under the white floor covering. It was great fun, and the girls cheered each other on as they pursued their blinded way. And then about midway of the room they met the boys coming toward them. Then there was scrambling, indeed, as the explorers tried to get out of each other's way and follow their own routes.

It was a very long room, and Patty hadn't gone much more than halfway, when she concluded to give up the race as being too tiresome. She made her way to the side of the room, and reaching the wall she took off her blinding handkerchief and kicked off the snowshoes. To her great surprise she found that many of the other girls and some of the boys had done the same thing, and not half of the original contestants were still in the race. And, indeed, it proved to be much greater fun to watch those who were still blindly groping along, than to stay in the game.

At last the game was concluded, as Roger Farrington proudly planted his flag at the very spot that designated the North Pole, and not long after, Clementine Morse succeeded in safely reaching the South Pole. So the beautiful rugs were given to these two as prizes, and every one agreed that they had earned them.

Then, amid much laughter, everybody was unblindfolded. and they all sat around on the snow mounds waiting for the next game.

A big snow man was brought in and set in the centre of the room. Of course it was not real snow, but made of white plaster, gleaming all over with diamond dust. But it was the traditional type of snow man, with a top hat on, and grotesque features.

In the mouth of the figure was a cigarette, and each guest was presented with a few snowballs, made of cotton wool. The game was to knock the cigarette from the snow man's mouth with one of the snowballs.

Of course the cigarette was so arranged that the lightest touch of a ball would dislodge it, and as one cigarette was displaced, Mr. Homer supplied another.

The guests had been divided into two parties, and each side strove to collect the greater number of cigarettes.

Some balls flew very wide of the mark, while others with unerring aim would hit a cigarette squarely.

The game caused great hilarity, and everybody was anxious to throw balls. They threw in turn, each having three balls at a time.

Patty was especially deft at this, and with true aim succeeded


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