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- Patty's Suitors - 40/45 -

"Nothing," said Patty, as she took the hairpins from a long shining strand of hair.

"There is, too. He asked me why you were so cool to him."

"He did! Well, I'm sure I don't know what he meant, for I wasn't cool to him,--or anything else. I treated him politely, as I would any casual friend."

"Politely! I saw you refuse to dance with him, myself. If you call THAT polite!"

"If you want to know, Daisy, that was because he didn't want to dance with me. He said he only asked me because Adele insisted upon it."

"Patty, it's none of my business, but I do think you might be nicer to Bill, for I know he thinks an awful lot of you."

"Why, Daisy Dow! why should he think a lot of me when he's as good as engaged to another girl?"

"Engaged! Bill Farnsworth engaged! nothing of the sort. I know better."

"But he is. Adele told me so. Or, if he isn't engaged, he's very much in love with a girl named Kitty. Do you know her?"

"Kitty who? Where is she?"

"I don't know, I'm sure. But he told Adele his whole heart and life were bound up in this Kitty Somebody. So I'm sure I don't see any reason why I should be running after him."

"I can't imagine you running after anybody, Patty. You don't need to, for the boys all run after you. But it's very queer I never heard of this Kitty. I've known Bill for years. Let me see; there was Kate Morton,--but I never thought Bill cared especially for her. And anyway, I can't imagine calling HER Kitty! She's as tall and straight as an Indian!"

"Well, Bill calls her Kitty; Adele said so."

"Oh, is it Kate Morton, then? Did Adele say that?"

"No, Adele said she couldn't remember the girl's last name. And I don't care if it's Kate Morton or Kathleen Mavourneen! It's nothing to me what kind of a girl Bill Farnsworth likes."

"Of course it isn't. I know you never liked Bill."

"I did SO! I DO like him, but just the same as I like all the other boys."

"Then what makes you turn pink every time Bill's name is mentioned, and never when you speak of anybody else?"

"I don't! And if I did, it wouldn't mean anything. I'm not specially interested in anybody, Daisy, but if I were, I wouldn't sit up and blush about it. You like Bill an awful lot, yourself."

"I do like him," said Daisy, frankly; "and I always have. He's a splendid man, Patty, one of the biggest, best natures I know. Why, at school we used to call him Giant Greatheart,--he was so thoroughly noble and kind to everybody."

"Well, I'm sick of hearing his praises sung, so you'll please change the subject."

Daisy was quite willing to do this, for she had no wish to annoy Patty, and the girls chatted of other matters until Adele came along and sent them both to bed.

The next day was Sunday, and Patty didn't come downstairs until time for the midday dinner.

"I think you might have come down earlier," said Van Reypen, reproachfully, as Patty came smilingly down the staircase. "I wanted you to go for a walk this morning; it's simply great out in the sunshine."

"I'll go after dinner," said Patty; "isn't it funny why people have dinner at one o'clock, just because it's Sunday?"

"I'm glad of it. It'll give us the whole afternoon for our walk."

"Good gracious! if I walk the whole afternoon you'll have to bring me home in a wheelbarrow!"

"We won't walk far enough for that. If you get tired, we'll sit on a mossy mound in a bosky dell, or some such romantic spot."

After dinner, Philip held Patty to her promise of going for a walk. She didn't care about it especially, really preferring to stay with the gay group gathered on the veranda, but Philip urged it, and Patty allowed herself to be persuaded.

The country all around Fern Falls was beautiful, and a favourite walk was down to the Falls themselves, which were a series of small cascades tumbling down a rocky ravine.

Philip turned their steps this way, and they sauntered along the winding footpath that followed down the side of the falls.

"It is lovely here," said Patty, as she sat down on a rock for a short rest. "But I wouldn't want to live in the country all the year around, would you, Philip?"

"Not if you didn't like it, dear. Suppose we have two homes, one in the city and one in the country?"

"Homes for lunatics, do you mean?" and Patty favoured the young man with a wide-eyed gaze of inquiry.

"You know very well what I mean," and Philip returned her gaze with one of calm regard. "You know why I brought you out here this afternoon, and you know exactly what I'm going to say to you. Don't you?"

"Not EXACTLY," and Patty drew a roguish frown; "they all word it differently, you know."

"It is a matter of utter indifference to me how the others word it," and Philip leaned up comfortably against a rock as he looked at Patty. "The only thing that engrosses my mind, is whether I myself can word it persuasively enough to make you say yes. Do you think I can?"

"You never can tell till you try," said Patty, in a flippant tone.

"Then I'll try. But, Patty, dearest, you know it all; you know how I love you, you know how long I have loved you. Aren't you ever going to give me the least little encouragement?"

"How can I, Phil, when I don't feel encouraging a bit?"

"But you will, dear, won't you? You remember last winter when we went on that sleighride after the butter and eggs? Why, Patty, you ALMOST said yes, then."

"Why, Philip Van Reypen! I didn't do anything of the sort! I had no idea of saying yes, then,--I haven't now,--and I'm not sure that I ever shall have!"

"I'll wait, Patty," and Van Reypen spoke cheerfully. "I'll wait, Little Girl, because I think a love like mine is bound to win at last. And I know you're too young yet to make up your mind. But, Patty, there isn't anybody else, is there?"

"Anybody else what?"

"Anybody else who likes you as much as I do. Is there?"

"Now, Phil, how could I tell that? When people say they love you heaps and heaps, you never know quite how much to believe, or quite how much is just the influence of the moonlight."

"Well, there's no moonlight here now. So when I tell you how much I love you, it's all true. You believe that, don't you, Little Girl?"

"Yes, I believe it. But, Philip, I wish you wouldn't talk about it to-day. I'm tired of--"

"Of having men tell you how much they love you? Poor little Patty! I'm afraid you'll have to put up with that all your life."

"Oh, horrible!" and Patty made a wry face. "I suppose some girls like it, but I don't."

"I'll tell you a way to avoid it, Patty. Be engaged to me, now,-- even if you won't marry me right away, and then, you see, other men can't propose to you."

"Do you mean be engaged to you, Phil, without intending EVER to marry you!"

"Well, don't consider the second question at present. Just be engaged to me, and then we'll see about it."

"No, I don't think that would be fair. You make it seem as if being engaged to a man doesn't mean anything."

"Patty! dearest! DON'T talk like that! It would mean all the world to me. And I'm sure I could make you love me enough to want to marry me, after awhile. If you knew how much I loved you, I'm sure you'd agree that you couldn't resist that love for long."

Van Reypen looked very handsome and very earnest as he gazed into Patty's eyes. And Patty looked very sweet and dear as she gazed back at him with a troubled expression on her lovely face.

Then with a sudden, impulsive gesture she put out both her hands and Philip took them in his own.

"Don't make me decide now, Phil," she said, and she looked at him with a pathetic smile. "I don't know what I want. I know I DON'T want to marry you,--or anybody else,--for a long time. And I don't think I want to be engaged to anybody just yet, either."

"Of course you don't, you dear little girl," and Van Reypen's tone

Patty's Suitors - 40/45

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