“I guess I do want to sit at the head of our table, papa,” said Patty; “I’d just like to see a housekeeper there! A prim, sour-faced old lady with a black silk dress and dangling ear-rings! No, I thank you. If I have my way I will keep that house myself, and when I get into any trouble, I will fly to Aunt Alice for rest and refreshment.”
“We’ll all help,” said Marian; “I’ll make lovely sofa-pillows for you, and I’m sure grandma will knit you an afghan.”
“That isn’t much towards housekeeping,” said Frank. “I’ll come over next summer and swing your hammock for you, and put up your tennis-net.”
“And meantime,” said Uncle Charley, “until the house is bought and furnished, the Fairfield family will be the welcome guests of the Elliotts. It’s almost the middle of December now, and I don’t think, Miss Patty Fairfield, that you’ll get your home settled in time to make a visit in New York this winter; and now, you rattle-pated youngsters, run to bed, while I discuss some plans sensibly with my brother-in-law and fellow townsman.”
THE TEA CLUB
“Well I should think you’d better stay in Vernondale, Patty Fairfield, if you know what’s good for yourself! Why, if you had attempted to leave this town, we would have mobbed you with tar and feathers, or whatever those dreadful things are that they do to the most awful criminals.”
“Oh, if I had gone, Polly, I should have taken this club with me, of course. I’m so used to it now, I’m sure I couldn’t live a day, and know that we should meet no more, as the Arab remarked to his beautiful horse.”
“It would be rather fun to be transported bodily to New York as a club, but I’d want to be transported home again after the meeting,” said Helen Preston.
“Why shouldn’t we do that?” cried Florence Douglass. “It would be lots of fun for the whole club to go to New York some day together.”
“I’m so glad Patty is going to stay with us, I don’t care what we do,” said Ethel Holmes, who was drawing pictures on Patty’s white shirt-waist cuffs as a mark of affection.
“I’m glad, too,” said Patty; “and, Ethel, your kittens are perfectly lovely, but this is my last clean shirt-waist, and those pencil-marks are awfully hard to wash out.”
“I don’t mean them to be washed out,” said Ethel, calmly going on with her art work; “they’re not wash drawings, they’re permanent decorations for your cuffs, and are offered as a token of deep regard and esteem.”
The Tea Club was holding a Saturday afternoon meeting at Polly Stevens’s house, and the conversation, as yet, had not strayed far from the all-engrossing subject of Patty’s future plans.
The Tea Club had begun its existence with lofty and noble aims in a literary direction, to be supplemented and assisted by an occasional social cup of tea. But if you have had any experience with merry, healthy young girls of about sixteen, you will not be surprised to learn that the literary element had softly and suddenly vanished away, much after the manner of a Boojum. Then, somehow, the social interest grew stronger, and the tea element held its own, and the result was a most satisfactory club, if not an instructive one.