Patricia stretched out a welcoming hand. “It’s hours and hours since I’ve seen you, Daddy.”
Dr. Kirby took the outstretched hand gravely. “From your aunt’s account, there would appear to have been hours and hours in which she did not see you, Patricia?”
“I’m afraid I was gone a long while, Daddy; but I came home just as soon as I got things straightened out.
“Suppose you give me the particulars, Patricia.”
And moving so as to rest her head on her father’s knee, Patricia told in detail the story of her day’s experiences. She had the comforting conviction that when Daddy knew all he would not be very displeased with her.
More than once, during that recital, the doctor’s mouth twitched under his mustache, and he turned rather suddenly to look out of the window.
“But, Pat,” he exclaimed, as she finished, “what made it so imperative for you to find that tramp dog a home?”
Patricia’s gray eyes were very earnest. “Some one had to do it, Daddy.”
The doctor smoothed back the soft, thick curls. “But, Pat, I cannot have you burdening yourself with the responsibility of finding homes for all the stray animals that cross your path.”
“He was so miserable, Daddy—outside; and so really nice—inside. I don’t believe he liked being a tramp dog.”
The doctor stooped and kissed her; it was not easy to be severe with Patricia. “Still, dear, it must not happen again; you run too great a risk; stray dogs are not always very dependable as to temper.”
“It’s going to be mighty hard not to, Daddy.”
“And Patricia, where are my scissors, and salve, and soap?”
“I’m afraid—down by the brook; so’s the towel. I was glad I’d watched you bandage Caesar’s paw that time.”
“That is all very well; but, Patricia, you are not to meddle with any of the office things again without permission. And now, about this matter of breaking bounds to-day?”
Patricia looked up quickly. “You—you’ll ’take the intention into consideration,’ Daddy?”
The doctor smiled. “Yes, but,” his face grew grave again, “I must also take into consideration the fact that this is by no means the first time you have gone wandering off, causing your aunt a great deal of anxiety.”
“I can’t think why she will worry so. I always come back all right.”
“That is not the point. It must be only the yard for the rest of the week, Patricia.”
Patricia drew a long breath. “Well,” she said, slowly, “I am glad it’s Thursday night ’stead of Monday morning.”
* * * * *
Patricia sat up in bed, rubbing her eyes. What had wakened her?
A second series of short, sharp little barks sent her hurrying to the window. On the path below, a bit of frayed rope dangling from his neck, stood Custard.
When the doctor came downstairs, twenty minutes later, he found Patricia on the back steps, with Custard in her lap, busily placing a fresh bandage on the hurt paw. “Daddy,” she cried, lifting her face for his morning greeting, “wasn’t it too lovely of him to hunt me up. Isn’t he the most grateful dog ever was?”