So the plans were made according to Patty’s wish, and a few days after the Barlow twins returned to their home, a merry party left Vernondale for Spring Lake.
This party consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Elliott and Marian, Mr. Fairfield, Patty, and Nan.
They had all arranged for rooms in the same hotel to which Nan was going, and where her parents were awaiting her.
Marlborough House was its name, and very attractive and comfortable it looked to the Vernondale people as they arrived about four o’clock one afternoon in early September.
Mr. and Mrs. Allen proved to be charming people who were more than ready to show any courtesies in their power to the Fairfields, who had so kindly entertained Nan.
Although an older couple than the Elliotts, they proved to be congenial companions, and after a day or two the whole party felt as if they had known each other all their lives. Acquaintances ripen easily at the seashore, and Patty soon came to the conclusion that she was beginning what was to be one of the pleasantest experiences of her life.
And so it proved; although Mr. Fairfield announced that Patty had come down for a rest, and that there was to be very little, if any, gaiety allowed, yet somehow there was always something pleasant going on.
Every day there was salt-water bathing, and this was a great delight to Patty. The summer before, at her uncle’s home on Long Island, she had learned to swim, and though it was more difficult to swim in the surf, yet it was also more fun. Nan was an expert swimmer, and Marian knew nothing of the art, but the three girls enjoyed splashing about in the water, and were never quite ready to come out when Aunt Alice or Mrs. Allen called to them from the beach.
In the afternoons there were long walks or drives along the shore, and the exercise and salt air soon restored to Patty the robust health and strength which her father feared she had lost during the summer.
In the evening there was dancing—sometimes hops, but more often informal dancing among the young people staying at the hotel. All three of our girls were fond of dancing, and excelled in the art, but Patty was especially graceful and skillful.
The first Saturday night after their arrival at Marlborough House, a large dance was to be held, and this was really Patty’s first experience at what might be termed a ball.
She was delighted with the prospect, and her father had ordered her a beautiful new frock from New York, which proved to be rather longer than any she had as yet worn.
“I feel so grown up in it,” she exclaimed, as she tried it on to show her father. “I think I’ll have to do up my hair when I wear this grand costume; It doesn’t seem just right to have it tied up with a little girl hair-ribbon.”
“Patty, my child, I do believe you’re growing up!” said her father.
“I do believe I am, papa; I’m almost seventeen, and I’m taller than Aunt Alice now, and a lot taller than Marian.”