“But,” as Polly Stevens had said, “we are instructed all day long in school, and a good deal out of school, too, for that matter; and what we need most is absolutely foolish recreation; the foolisher the better.”
And so the Saturday afternoon meetings had developed into merely merry frolics, with a cup of tea, which was often a figure of speech for chocolate or lemonade, at the close.
There were no rules, and the girls took pleasure in calling themselves unruly members. There were no dues, and consequently no occasion for a secretary or treasures. Patty continued to be called the president, but the title meant nothing more than the fact that she was really a chief favourite among the girls. No one was bound, or even expected to attend the meetings unless she chose; but, as a rule, a large majority of the club was present.
And so to-day, in the library at Polly Stevens’s house, nine members of the Tea Club were chattering like nine large and enthusiastic magpies.
“Now we can go on with the entertainment,” said Lillian Desmond, as she sat on the arm of Patty’s chair, curling wisps of the presidential hair over her fingers. “If Patty had gone away, I should have resigned my part in the show and gone into a convent. Where are you going to live, Patty?”
“I don’t know, I am sure; we haven’t selected a house yet; and if we don’t find one we like, papa may build one, though I believe Marian has one all picked out for us.”
“Yes, I have,” said Marian. “It’s the Bigelow house on our street. I do want to keep Patty near us.”
“The Bigelow house? Why, that’s too large for two people. Patty and Mr. Fairfield would get lost in it. Now, I know a much nicer one. There’s a little house next-door to us, a lovely, little cottage that would suit you a lot better. Tell your father about it, Patty. It’s for sale or rent, and it’s just the dearest place.”
“Why, Laura Russell,” cried Marian, “that little snip of a house! It wouldn’t hold Patty, let alone Uncle Fred. You only proposed it because you want Patty to live next-door to you.”
“Yes; that’s it,” said Laura, quite unabashed; “I know it’s too little, but you could add ells and bay-windows and wings and things, and then it would be big enough.”
“Would it hold the Tea Club?” said Patty. “I must have room for them, you know.”
“Oh, won’t it be fun to have the Tea Club at Patty’s house!” cried Elsie. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
“What’s a home without a Tea Club?” said Patty. “I shall select the house with an eye single to the glory and comfort of you girls.”
“Then I know of a lovely house,” said Christine Converse. “It’s awfully big, and it’s pretty old, but I guess it could be fixed up. I mean the old Warner place.”
“Good gracious!” cried Ethel; “’way out there! and it’s nothing but a tumble-down old barn, anyhow.”
“Oh, I think it’s lovely; and it’s Colonial, or Revolutionary, or something historic; and they’re going to put the trolley out there this spring,—my father said so.”