“You’ve simply got to have a home,” Patricia went on; “and it’s up to me to find you one. But I think you’ll have to have a bath first, and your paw bandaged.”
Jumping up, Patricia darted back to the house, and around to the side door, leading to her father’s office. Presently, she reappeared with a cake of antiseptic soap, a box of salve, a roll of bandage, a pair of scissors, and a bath-towel; with these gathered up in the skirt of her frock she led the way down to the brook, followed by a most unsuspecting small dog.
Ten minutes later that same small dog—decidedly sadder and wetter, if not wiser—lay shivering on the sunny bank, while Patricia rubbed him vigorously with one of her aunt’s largest bath-towels.
Then the cut paw was salved and bandaged, and the most hopelessly tangled knots of curls cut away. After which, Patricia, sitting back on heels, studied her charge approvingly.
“If Aunt Julia could see you now! Why didn’t I do all this first? But—well, Aunt Julia’s made up her mind; and she isn’t exactly the changey kind. I wonder if you’d like it at the Millers’? They’ve got a lot of children, but they’re ever so nice children! They’ve three dogs now, so one more oughtn’t to count—and you’d have plenty of company.”
The dog, whose only present anxiety was to feel dry once more, merely rolled over on his back by way of answer.
“Oh, but you mustn’t!” Patricia protested. “You’ll get all dirty again. I know it’s horrid to feel too clean, but, you see, it’s so necessary to make a good first impression! I reckon it was the first impression that made all the trouble with Aunt Julia this morning. Come on, we’ll start right off; it’s a pretty long walk to the Millers’.”
They went ’cross-lots, stopping for more than one romp by the way, one quite as light-hearted and irresponsible as the other; though behind Patricia lay more than one neglected task, and before her companion stretched a possibly homeless future.
It was a nearly perfect June day, the blue sky overhead just flecked with soft, fleecy white clouds, and with enough breeze stirring to lift Patricia’s short brown curls and fan her sunburned cheeks.
Out on the highroad the wild roses were in bloom, and the air was full of soft summer sounds; the very birds hopping lightly about from fence to fence had a holiday air—and to Patricia there was something very friendly in the inquisitive cock of their pert little heads, as they stopped now and then to inspect her.
“Oh!” she cried, joyously, reaching up on tiptoe to gather a spray of wild roses just above her head, “aren’t we having the loveliest time, Dog?”
Her companion wagged agreeingly; he was, at any rate. The hot sun on his back felt exceedingly good; he began to entertain hopes of actually feeling really and thoroughly dry again—some time.
“That’s the Millers’ house—the brown one, beyond the curve,” Patricia told him. And as it was the only house in sight, he had no trouble in locating it.