Patty didn’t say a word, indeed there was nothing to say. She went and stood very close to her father, as if expecting him to put his arm around her, which he promptly did.
“You see, Pitty-Pat,” he said, “it wouldn’t have made any difference at all—not any difference at all, except that I have brought my friend Mr. Hepworth, the artist, home to dinner; and you see, misled by the experiences of last night, I promised him we would find a tidy little dinner awaiting us.”
“Oh, papa,” cried Patty, “I am sorry. If I had only known! I wouldn’t have failed you for worlds.”
“I know it, my girl, and though this Lucullus feast does seem out of proportion to a young misses’ Tea Club, yet we won’t say a word about that now. We’ll just get snow shovels and set to work and clear this table and let Mancy get a simple little dinner as quickly as she can.”
“But, papa,” and here Patty met what was, perhaps, so far, the hardest experience of her life, “I forgot to order anything for dinner at all!”
“Why, Patty Fairfield! consider yourself discharged, and I shall suit myself at once with another housekeeperess!”
“You are the dearest, best, sweetest father!” she exclaimed. “How can you be so good-natured and gay when my heart is breaking?”
“Oh, don’t let your heart break over such prosaic things as dinners! We’ll crawl out of this hole somehow.”
“But what can we do, papa? It’s after six o’clock, and all the markets are shut up, and there isn’t a thing in the house except those horrible things I tried to make.”
“Patty,” said her father, struck by a sudden thought, “to-morrow is Sunday. Do you mean to say you haven’t ordered for over Sunday?”
“No, I haven’t,” said Patty, aghast at the enormity of her offence.
Mr. Fairfield laughed at the horror-stricken look on his daughter’s face.
“I always thought you couldn’t keep house,” he said, with an air of resignation. “On Monday I shall advertise for a housekeeper.”
“Oh, please don’t,” pleaded Patty. “Give me one more trial. I’ve had a good lesson, and truly I’ll profit by it. Let me try again.”
“But you can’t try again before Monday, and by that time we’ll all be dead of starvation.”
“Of course we will,” said Patty despairingly. “I wish we were Robinson Crusoes and could eat bark or something.”
“Well, baby, I think you have had a pretty good lesson, and we can’t put old heads on young shoulders all at once, so I’ll help you out this time, and then, the next time you go back on me in this heartless fashion, I’ll discharge you.”
“Papa, you’re a dear! But what can we do?”
“Well, the first thing for you to do is to go and brush your hair and make yourself tidy, then come down and meet Mr. Hepworth; and then we’ll all go over to the hotel for dinner. Meanwhile I’ll call in the Street Cleaning Department to attend to this dining-room.”