And sure enough, though numerous attempts were made, and much laughter ensued, none entirely successful.
With the instincts of a true hostess, Patty had slipped from the room unobserved, and had held a short Confab with her two trusty servitors in the kitchen.
“But, Miss Patty,” expostulated Mancy, “dey ain’t nuffin’ fit to set befo’ dem fren’s ob yo’s. Dey ain’t nuffin’ skacely in de house, ceptin’ some bits ob candies an’ cakaroons le’ from yo’ las’ night’s supper.”
“Well, that’s all right,” said Patty; “let Pansy arrange those nicely on the dining-room table. Use the silver dishes, Pansy, and fix them just as I told you.”
“Yes, Miss Patty,” said Pansy, “but there aren’t very many left.”
“Well, then, Mancy, I’ll tell you what: you make us a nice pot of chocolate, and fix us some thin bread and butter, and cut up some of the fruit cake to put with those little fancy cakes; won’t that do?”
“Yas’m, I spec’ so; but it’s a mighty slim layout, ’specially for dem hearty young chaps. But you go ’long, honey, I’ll fix it somehow.”
And, sure enough, she did fix it somehow; for when, a little later, Patty invited her young friends out into the dining-room, the thin bread and butter had doubled itself up into most attractive and satisfying chicken-sandwiches, and there was also a plate of delicious toasted crackers and cheese.
Mr. Fairfield added a box of candy which he had brought home from New York, and the unpretentious little feast proved most enjoyable to all concerned.
“I should think you would feel all the time as if you were acting a play yourself, Patty,” said Elsie Morris, taking her seat at the prettily laid table.
“I do,” said Patty as she took her own place at the head; “it’s awfully hard to realise that I am monarch of all I survey.”
“But you have someone to dispute your right,” said her father.
“And I’m glad of it,” said Patty. “Whatever should I do living here all alone just with my rights?”
“By her rights, she means her cousins,” put in Frank.
“Yes,” said Patty; “they’re about as right as anything I know.”
And so the evening passed in merry chaff and good-natured fun; and at its close the young guests all went away except Marian, who was going to spend the night at Boxley Hall.
After her cousin had gone upstairs to her pretty blue bedroom, Patty lingered a moment in the library for a word with her father.
“How am I getting along, papa?” she said. “How about the proportion to-night?”
“The market seems pretty strong on proportion to-day, Patty, dear; your housekeeping is beginning wonderfully well. That little dinner you gave us was first-class in every respect, and the simple refreshments you had this evening were very pretty and graceful.”