The rockery was completed, and was a most imposing structure. Wheat ears and dried oats were sticking out from between the stones, and pressed autumn leaves added a touch of colour. At the base of the rockery were a large pink-lined conch-shell and several smaller shells. On the walls were various branches of different species of vegetation; among others a tangle of twigs of the cotton plant, from which depended numerous bolls.
Pansy was struggling with a lot of evergreen boughs, which she was trying to crowd into a strange-looking receptacle.
“How do you like it, Miss Patty?” she asked, as Patty stood in the doorway and gazed in.
“I like it very much, for you, Pansy,” replied Patty. “If this is the kind of room you want, I’m very glad for you to have it; only, I don’t know whether to call it ‘First Course in Mineralogy,’ or ’How to Tell the Wild Flowers,’”
AN UNATTAINED AMBITION
To say that Boxley Hall was in readiness for the party would be stating it very mildly. It was overflowing,—yes, fairly bursting with readiness.
New Year’s day was on Thursday, and Patty had decreed that on that day none of the Elliotts should go to Boxley Hall until they came as guests.
Dinner was to be at two o’clock, and in the morning Patty and her father went over to their new home together.
“Just think, papa,” said Patty, squeezing his hand as they went along, “how many times we have walked—and run, too, for that matter—from Aunt Alice’s over to our house; but this time it’s different. We’re going to stay, to live, really to reside in our own home; and whenever we go to Aunt Alice’s again, it will be to visit or to call. Oh, isn’t it perfectly lovely! If I can only live up to it, and do things just as you want me to.”
“Don’t take it too seriously, Pattikins; I don’t expect you to become an old and experienced housewife all at once. And I don’t want you to wear yourself out trying to become such a personage. Indeed, I shall be terribly disappointed if you don’t make ridiculous mistakes, and give me some opportunity to laugh at you.”
“You are the dearest thing, papa; that’s just the way I want you to feel about it; and I think I can safely promise to make enough blunders to keep you giggling a good portion of the time.”
“Oh, don’t go out of your way to furnish me with amusement. And now, how about your party to-day? Is everything in tip-top order?”
“Yes, except a few thousand things that I have to do this morning, and a few hundred that I want you to do.”
“I shall see to it, first, that the carving-knife is well sharpened. It’s the first time that I have carved at my own table for a great many years, and I want the performance to be marked by grace and skill.”
“It will be, if you do it, papa; I’m sure of that,” and by this time they had reached the gate, and Patty was skipping along the path and up the steps, and into the door of her own home.