“And will you keep your promises?”
“You bet! I don’t want to go home when I’ve just got here! And if my learning things is my meal ticket,—then I’m ready to learn.”
Farnsworth sighed. He had had, as yet, no chance to talk to Patty alone, since their misfit visitor had arrived. He had been firmly resolved to send her home again,—until now, that Patty and Betty seemed willing to take her in hand. If they were, it would be a great injustice to the Western girl not to give her the chance to learn refinement and culture from those two who were so well fitted to teach her.
And, anyway,—he continued to muse,—perhaps Azalea’s worst faults were superficial. If she could be persuaded to amend her style of talk and her gauche manners, perhaps she was of a true fine nature underneath. His Uncle,—so-called,—and his Aunt Amanda, he remembered as kindly, good-hearted people, of fair education, though lacking in elegance.
“Oh, don’t take it so seriously,” cried the vivacious Betty, as she noted Farnsworth’s thoughtful face: “leave the little girl to us for a few weeks,—and you will be surprised at the result! You’ll do just as I tell you,—won’t you, Azalea?”
“If you tell me the same as Cousin Patty,” was the reply, and the strange girl gave Patty a look of loyalty and admiration that won her heart.
“That’s right, Zaly, dear,” Patty cried, “you’re my girl, first, last and all the time! And we’ll both do as Betty says,—because she knows it all! She knows lots more than I do.”
“Indeed I do!” and the saucy Betty laughed. “Well, then, I’ll arrange for a dance for Azalea very soon. Do you dance?”
“I don’t know,” replied Azalea, “I never tried.”
Big Bill Farnsworth came into the nursery, where Patty was playing with the baby. It was the nurse’s luncheon hour, and Patty always looked after Fleurette then.
“Take her, Daddy,” Patty cried, holding up the soft, fragrant little bundle of happy humanity, and Farnsworth grasped the child in his strong careful way, and tossed her up high above his head.
The baby laughter that followed proved Fleurette’s delight in this performance, and she mutely insisted on its repetition.
“Azalea does that,” said Patty, in a troubled tone, “she is strong and very athletic, I know, but I can’t bear to see anybody toss baby around but you.”
“No; Azalea oughtn’t to do it,—she is strong, but she isn’t careful enough. Don’t allow it, Patty.”
“I do forbid it, but she comes in here when I don’t know it,—or she picks baby out of her carriage, Winnie says, and tosses her clear up and catches her again.”
“I’ll speak to her about it; why, she’ll drop the child some day! She must not do it!”
“I wish you would speak to her,” Patty sighed. “Azalea is really a trial. I don’t know what to do with her. Sometimes she is so sweet and docile that I think I’m teaching her to be a civilised person, and then she flies off at a tangent and she’s as unruly and intractable as she was at first.”