“I know it,” said Patty; “and Florence does it so well. I wish she’d behave herself. Well, I can’t think of anything else to do but omit it. I might ask papa; he can think of things when nobody else can.”
“That’s so,” said Marian, “Uncle Fred has a positive genius for suggestion.”
“I’ll step down in the audience and ask him,” said Frank.
In five minutes Frank was back again, broadly smiling, and Mr. Hepworth was with him.
“It’s all right,” said Frank. “I knew Uncle Fred would fix it. All he said was, ‘Hepworth, you’re a born actor, take the part yourself’; and Mr. Hepworth, like the brick he is, said he’d do it.”
“I fairly jumped at the chance,” said the young artist, smiling down into Patty’s bright face. “I was dying to be in this thing anyway. And they tell me the costume is nothing but several hundred yards of Greek draperies, so I think it will fit me all right.”
“But you don’t know the lines,” said Patty, delighted at this solution of the dilemma, but unable to see how it could be accomplished.
“Oh, that’s all right,” said Mr. Hepworth merrily. “I shall make up my lines as I go along, and when I see that anyone else wants to talk, I shall stop and give them a chance.”
It sounded a little precarious, but as there was nothing else to do, and Florence Douglass begged them to put somebody—anybody—in her place and let her go home, they all agreed to avail themselves of Mr. Hepworth’s services.
And it was fortunate they did, for though the rest of the characters were bright and clever representations, yet it was Mr. Hepworth’s funny impromptu jokes and humourous actions in the character of Niobe that made the hit of the evening. Indeed, he and Kenneth Harper quite carried off the laurels from the other amateurs; but so delighted were the Vernondale young people at the success of the whole play that they were more than willing to give the praise where it belonged.
Perhaps the only one in the audience who failed to appreciate Mr. Hepworth’s clever work was Miss Rachel Daggett. She had eyes only for her beloved nephew, with an occasional side glance for her pretty young neighbour.
After the entertainment there was a little dance for the young people; and Patty, as president of the club, received so many compliments and so much congratulation that it’s a wonder her curly head was not turned. But as she walked home between her father and Mr. Hepworth, she declared that the success of the evening was in no way consequent upon her efforts, but depended entirely on the talents of the two travelling comedians from the city.
Spring and summer followed one another in their usual succession, and as the months went by, Boxley Hall became more beautiful and more attractively homelike, both inside and out. Mr. Fairfield bought a pair of fine carriage horses and a pony and cart for Patty’s own use. A man was engaged to take care of these and also to look after the lawn and garden.