“All right,” said Mr. Fairfield “As a matter of social etiquette, I think it right to compliment my hostess, so I choose Mrs. Elliott on my side.”
“Oh, you choose me, father,” cried Marian, “do choose me.”
“Owing to certain insidious wire-pulling I’m forced to choose Miss Marian Elliott,” said Uncle Charley, pinching his daughter’s ear.
“If one Mrs. Elliott is a good thing,” said Mr. Fairfield, “I am sure two would be better, and so I choose Grandma Elliott to add to my collection of great minds.”
“Frank, my son,” said Uncle Charley, “don’t think for a moment that I am choosing you merely because you are the Last of the Mohicans. Far from it. I have wanted you from the beginning, and I’m proud to impress your noble intellect in my cause.”
“Thank you, sir,” said Frank, “and if our side can’t induce Patty to stay in Vernondale, it won’t be for lack of good strong arguments forcibly presented.”
“Modest boy!” said his mother, “You seem quite to forget your wise and clever opponents.”
In great glee the debaters took their places on either side of the library table, while Patty, being judge, was escorted with much ceremony to a seat at the head. An old parlour-croquet mallet was found for her, with which she rapped on the table after the manner of a grave and dignified chairman.
“The meeting will please come to order,” she said, “and the secretary will please read the minutes of the last meeting.”
“The secretary regrets to report,” said Frank, rising, “that the minutes of the last meeting fell down the well. Although rescued, they were afterward chewed up by the puppy, and are at present somewhat illegible. If the honourable judge will excuse the reading of the minutes, the secretary will be greatly obliged.”
“The minutes are excused,” said Patty, “and we will proceed at once to more important business. Mr. Frederick Fairfield, we shall be glad to hear from you.”
Mr. Fairfield rose and said, “Your honour, ladies, and gentlemen: I would be glad to speak definitely on this burning question, but the truth is, I don’t know myself which way I want it to be decided. For, you see, my only desire in the matter is that the wise and honourable judge, whom we see before us, should have a home of such a character and in such a place as best pleases her; but, before she makes her decision, I hope she will allow herself to be thoroughly convinced as to what will please her. And as, by force of circumstance, I am obliged to uphold the New York side of this argument, I will now set forth some of its advantages, feeling sure that my worthy opponents are quite able to uphold the Vernondale side.”
“Hear, hear!” exclaimed Frank, but Patty rapped with her mallet and commanded silence.
Then Mr. Fairfield went on:
“For one thing, Patty has always lived in a city, and, like myself, is accustomed to city life. It is more congenial to both of us, and I sometimes fear we should miss certain city privileges which may not be found in a suburban town.”