“Indeed she isn’t!” put in Farnsworth, “I want you to understand that she’s my cousin,—not Patty’s. And, also my wife’s quite right,—Azalea is not ready for social functions,—of any sort. You see, Betty, we can’t blink the facts,—she’s of the West, western,—in the least attractive sense. I’m fond of my home, and unashamed of my people, but all the same, I’m not going to have Patty embarrassed by the ignorance and awkwardness of an untutored guest. And so here’s where I set my foot down. We accept no invitations for Azalea until we think she is in trim to make a correct appearance in society.”
“Oh, Cousin Bill, I overheard you and I think you’re just horrid!” Azalea came running back into the room, while Raymond Gale followed, evidently in a dilemma how to act.
“Cousin Patty would let me go, I know, and I want to go to Miss Gale’s to a party! Just because I upset a glass of water at dinner, you’re mad at me! It isn’t fair! I think you’re real mean!”
The girl went up to Farnsworth and almost scowled at him as she awaited his response.
But he looked at her steadily,—even sternly.
“Of course it must be as Patty says,” he told her, at last, “but I will say, Azalea, that I’m surprised at you—”
“Why should you be surprised at me? You invited me to come and see you. If I’m not good enough to visit you, I’ll go home again. You didn’t ask me any questions,—you just said come along,—and I came. I ain’t a swell,—like these friends of yours,—but I am your cousin, and you’ve got no right to scorn me!”
“That’s so, Bill,” Patty said, seriously; “and here’s another thing. Betty has met Azalea now,—she knows just what she is. If she still cares to ask her to her house, I shall approve of her going. I want to do all I can for our cousin, and there’s no better way to teach people to swim, than to throw them into the water!”
“Bully for you, Cousin Patty!” Azalea cried, her eyes snapping at Bill. “I’m not so bad as I might be, and I’ll do just what you tell me.”
“I’m sure you will,” agreed Betty, and Farnsworth looked at her appreciatively, feeling a deep sense of gratitude at the way she was helping Patty out.
“It seems hard on you, Azalea,” he went on, “to talk of you like this,—as if you were not present,—but it is so. You need,—I’m not going to hesitate to tell you,—you need a thorough training in matters pertaining to polite society. Unless you are willing to accept our teachings and do your best to profit by them,—I am going to send you back home! For much as I want to be kind and helpful to my young cousin,—I will not even try, if it makes my wife any trouble or embarrassment.”
“Oh, pshaw, Little Billee,—leave Azalea to me,—I can manage her.”
“You can’t, Patty, without her cooperation and willingness. Will you promise those, Azalea?”
“Sure I will! I’m a great little old promiser,—I am!”