“She’s right here,” answered Patty; “we’re all right here. Your mother’s up on the veranda. Oh, I’m so glad to see you! This is the loveliest place, and we’re having the beautifullest time; and now that you boys have come, it will be better than ever. And there’s going to be a hop tonight! Isn’t that gay? Oh, how do you do, Mr. Hepworth?”
Though Patty’s manner took on a shade more of dignity in addressing the older man, it lost nothing in cordiality, and he responded with words of glad greeting.
Hearing the laughter and excitement, Aunt Alice and Mrs. Allen came down from the veranda to sit on the sand by the young people. Soon Mr. Fairfield and Mr. Allen and Mr. Elliott, returning from a stroll, joined the party.
The newcomers produced divers and sundry parcels, which they turned over to the ladies, and which proved to contain various new books and magazines and delicious candies and fruits.
“It’s just like Christmas!” exclaimed Patty. “I do love to have things brought to me.”
“You’re certainly in your element now, then,” said Mr. Fairfield, looking at his daughter, who sat with a fig in one hand and a chocolate in the other, trying to open a book with her elbows.
“I certainly am,” she responded. “The only flaw is that I suppose it’s about time to go in to dinner. I wish we could all sit here on the sand forever.”
“You’d change your mind when you reached my age,” said Mrs. Allen. “I’m quite ready to go in now and find a more comfortable chair.”
Later that evening Patty, completely arrayed for the dance, came to her father for inspection.
“You look very sweet, my child,” he said after gazing at her long and earnestly; “and with your hair dressed that way you look very much like your mother. I’m sorry you’re growing up, my baby, I certainly am; but I suppose it can’t be helped unless the world stops turning around. And if it’s any satisfaction to you, I’d like to have you know that your father thinks you the prettiest and sweetest girl in all the country round.”
“And aren’t you going to tell me that if I only behave as well as I look, I’ll do very nicely?”
“You seem to know that already, so I hardly think it’s necessary.”
“Well, I’ll tell it to you, then; for you do look so beautiful in evening clothes that I don’t believe you can behave as well as you look. Nobody could.”
“I see your growing up has taught you flattery,” said her father, “a habit you must try to overcome.”
But Patty was already dancing down the long hall to Aunt Alice’s room, and a few moments later they all went down to the parlours.
When Kenneth first saw Patty that evening, he stood looking at her with a funny, stupefied expression on his face.
“What’s the matter?” said Patty, laughing. “Just because I’m wearing a few extra hairpins you needn’t look as if you’d lost your last friend.”