Dr. Kirby smiled down at the little guest of honor. “Upon my word, I believe you have,” he said.
“Aunt Julia says,” Patricia possessed herself of his other hand, “that to feel sure that one’s guests have honestly enjoyed themselves is to know that one’s party has been a success. So I reckon mine’s been a perfectly tremendous success.”
“Suppose you come up to the house—all of you—and see if you can reassure Aunt Julia and—Sarah,” the doctor suggested.
Patricia sighed. “I—I sort of wish Aunt Julia—looked at things the way we do, Daddy.”
They went on up to the house. On the back steps, Miss Kirby was waiting; in the kitchen doorway stood Sarah.
“Patricia Kirby!” Aunt Julia exclaimed. “Well of all the—”
“Miss P’tricia,” Sarah broke in wrathfully, “where’s that cherry pie I done made for Marse Doctor’s supper?”
Patricia slowly drew up her uppermost apron. “It’s here—most of it; Custard got the rest. I—I stumbled and fell—into it. You see, we were playing pirate—and we were smuggling.”
The doctor, much to his sister’s indignation, sat down suddenly on one of the garden benches. “Oh, Pat, Pat!” he gasped.
“Patricia Kirby, how many gingham aprons have you on?” Miss Kirby demanded.
“Three, Aunt Julia; you said I must wear the first one all the afternoon—and I tore it—and then the pie sort of stained the second; I got kind of interested to see how many it would take to get me through the afternoon. I had to make it a gingham apron party, Aunt Julia, on account of what you said yesterday. You see, I got pretty well torn and dirty this morning—and, of course, I needn’t have climbed that tree.”
“Casabianca,” the doctor murmured; Miss Kirby was past murmuring anything; all her efforts were directed towards at least a semblance of self-control.
“I shore told you, that young-un was a limb,” Sarah muttered.
“Sarah was very anxious to fix me all up properly, Aunt Julia,” Patricia went on, “but of course, after you had said—and I thought you’d feel better if the rest wore gingham aprons too. Sarah was very kind about it though,” with a smile in her direction.
“You go ’long, Miss P’tricia,” Sarah protested.
Miss Kirby bit her lip. “That is all very well, Patricia, but—”
“We’ve had such fun, haven’t we, girls?” Captain Kidd appealed to her fellow pirates.
“Oh, we have,” they chorused back.
“And having supper out in the meadow when we hadn’t expected it was the best part,” Nell added.
“What would you suggest?” Miss Kirby turned to her brother.
His smile told her that he knew quite well that she was shifting upon him the responsibility of deciding. As a strict disciplinarian—in theory—it would never do for her to countenance such unlawful proceedings. He rose to the occasion promptly. “Soap and water for these highly reprehensible young folks, after that—the ice cream—seeing that the cherry pie came to a timely end. And for us—supper.”