“Here he comes now. Mr. Fairfield, your daughter wishes a word with you.”
“Papa Fairfield!” exclaimed Patty, “you never told me you could dance!”
“You never asked me; you took it for granted that I was too old to frisk around the ballroom.”
“And aren’t you?” asked Patty teasingly.
“Try me and see,” said her father, as he took her card.
The trial proved very satisfactory, and Patty declared that she must have inherited her own taste for dancing from her father.
The evening passed all too swiftly. Pretty Patty, with her merry ways and graceful manners, was a real belle, and Aunt Alice was besieged by requests for introductions to her niece and daughter. But Marian, though a sweet and charming girl, had a certain shyness which always kept her from becoming an immediate favourite. Patty’s absolute lack of self-consciousness and her ready friendliness made her popular at once.
Mr. Fairfield and Nan Allen were speaking of this, as they stood out on the veranda and looked at Patty through the window.
“She’s the most perfect combination,” Miss Allen was saying, “of the child and the girl. She has none of the silly affectations of young-ladyhood, and yet she has in her nature all the elements that go to make a wise and sensible woman.”
“I think you’re right,” said Mr. Fairfield, as he looked fondly at his daughter. “She is growing up just as I want her to, and developing the traits I most want her to possess. A frank simplicity of manner, a happy, fun-loving disposition, and a gentle, unselfish soul.”
Meantime Patty and Mr. Hepworth were sitting on the stairs.
“Now my cup of happiness is full,” remarked Patty. “I have always thought it must be perfect bliss to sit on the stairs at a party. I don’t know why, I’m sure, but all the information I have gathered from art and literature have led me to consider it the height of earthly joy.”
“And is it proving all your fancy painted it?” asked Mr. Hepworth, who was sitting a step below.
“Yes—that is, it’s almost perfect.”
“And what is the lacking element?”
“Oh, I wouldn’t like to tell you,” said Patty, and Mr. Hepworth was not quite certain whether her confusion were real or simulated.
“May I guess?” he asked.
“Yes, if you’ll promise not to guess true,” said Patty. “If you did, I should be overcome with blushing embarrassment.”
“But I am going to guess, and if I guess true I will promise to go and bring you the element that will complete your happiness.”
“That sounds so tempting,” said Patty, “that now I hope you will guess true. What is the missing joy?”
“Kenneth Harper,” said Mr. Hepworth, looking at Patty curiously.
Without a trace of a blush Patty broke into gay laughter.
“Oh, you are ridiculous!” she said. “I have you here, why should I want him?”