“And will you leave your blinds open till afternoon?” said Patty, who was beginning to learn her queer old neighbour.
“Yes, I will, if I don’t forget it. Clear out, child, clear out now; run away home and mind you’re not to borrow anything and you’re not to come back till I send for you.”
“All right,” said Patty. “Good-bye, and mind, you’re to keep bright and cheerful, and let the sunlight in all the time.”
Patty’s plans for systematic housekeeping included a number of small Russia-leather account books, and she looked forward with some eagerness to the time when the first month’s bills should come in, and she could present to her father a neat and accurate statement of the household expenses for the month.
The 1st of February was Sunday, but on Monday morning the postman brought a sheaf of letters which were evidently bills.
Patty had no time to look at these before she went to school, so she placed them carefully in her desk, determined to hurry home that afternoon and get her accounts into apple-pie order before her father came home. After school she returned to find a supplementary lot of bills had been left by the postman, and also Mancy presented her with a number of bills which the tradesmen had left that morning.
Patty took the whole lot to her desk, and with methodical exactness noted the amounts on the pages of her little books. She and her father had talked the matter over, more or less, and Patty knew just about what Mr. Fairfield expected the bills to amount to.
But to her consternation she discovered, as she went along, that each bill was proving to be about twice as large as she had anticipated.
“There must be some mistake,” she said to herself, “we simply can’t have eaten all those groceries. Anybody would think we ran a branch store. And that butcher’s bill is big enough for the Central Park menagerie! They must have added it wrong.”
But a careful verification of the figures proved that they were added right, and Patty’s heart began to sink as she looked at the enormous sum-totals.
“To think of all that for flowers! Well, papa bought some of them, that’s a comfort; but I had no idea I had ordered so many myself. I think bills are perfectly horrid! And here’s my dressmaker’s bill. Gracious, how Madame LaFayette has gone up in her prices! I believe I’ll make my own clothes after this; but the market bills are the worst I don’t see how we could have eaten all these things. Mancy must be a dreadful waster, but it isn’t fair to blame her; if that’s where the trouble is, I ought to have looked after it myself. Hello, Marian, is that you? I didn’t hear you come in. Do come here, I’m in the depths of despair!”
“What’s the matter, Patsie? and what a furious lot of bills! You look like a clearinghouse.”