Patty gasped. The girl changed so quickly from independence to apparent helplessness, and yet her manner was so crude and overbearing, that it was doubtful how the maid would take it.
However, Janet was not only a well-trained servant, but she adored her mistress and not for worlds would she have failed in her duty.
Quietly and respectfully she knelt before Azalea and took off her shoes and waited on her as she would have waited on any of Patty’s more cultured friends.
“Yes, put on a kimono, Azalea,” Patty said, this time in a decided tone, and Azalea obeyed.
Then the tea tray was brought and the two sat together for a time.
Patty was up against a crisis. She had been thinking deeply ever since Azalea’s arrival, and she was still perplexed.
Should she try now to reform the girl,—improve her manners, or at least her general attitude,—or, should she leave her to her own ways for a time, and trust to her observation of other people to show her her own faults?
It was almost impossible not to correct some of Azalea’s ignorant mistakes, but still more difficult to ignore her over readiness to adapt herself to what she thought was the proper behaviour toward servants.
On the latter point Patty permitted herself a word when they were alone.
“Be a little careful with Janet,” she said, pleasantly. “She’s a bit peculiar as to disposition. A splendid maid, and a most capable girl,—but she doesn’t like to be ordered about too definitely. You see, she knows her duties so well, and is so efficient, that it’s really unnecessary to give her directions.”
“Oh, pooh, she’s only a servant. You oughtn’t to stand for her airs. Why, our girl at home,—she was a Tartar! But I tamed her. I’ve a way with them—”
“Please, Azalea,” and Patty smiled ingratiatingly, “remember, won’t you, that this is my house and these are my servants. I have my own ways of treating them, and I’m going to ask you to work with me,—not against me.”
“Dunno what you mean! I’ve no notion of working against you, Cousin. And don’t you be high and mighty with me! We’ll get along all right, if you meet me half way, but—”
Patty saw her chance. “Good, Azalea! There’s my hand on that! We’ll meet each other half way, and you consider my wishes and I’ll consider yours.”
The danger point was passed and Azalea smiled again.
“I want to see the baby,” she said suddenly. “I love babies.”
“To-morrow, please. She’s asleep now.”
“Well, I can look at her. I won’t wake her. I’ll be awful careful.”
This interest in Fleurette touched Patty’s mother heart, and she consented.
“Can I go this way?” said Azalea, looking at her kimono.
This garment was,—not entirely to Patty’s surprise,—a horror of gaily flowered silkoline, but as they would see no one but the nurse, she said, “Yes; come along.”