“Yes; I’m ordered to by my lord and master. He thinks—”
“Never mind, dear, drop the subject now. I’ve a good reason, Elise, for watching the letters,—not mere idle curiosity. Now, Patty, for details. What do you mean by taking the baby on the sly!”
So Patty told him how Azalea had ordered the baby’s food prepared, saying Patty has asked her to do so.
“H’m, h’m,—looks bad. But don’t worry, little mother, I’m sure nothing has happened to our Little Flower,—I mean nothing of an accidental nature. Azalea is exceedingly fond of the baby, and I can easily imagine her wanting to take her for a ride this beautiful afternoon. It’s perfectly wonderful out! There’s a soft breeze and the air is delightful—”
“But why didn’t she ask me?” cried Patty.
“Afraid you’d say no!” and Farnsworth smiled. “You know, you’ve not been overly gracious of late about Azalea taking baby out.”
“I know it, but I had my own reasons.”
“And quite right you should have. But, don’t worry, I’m sure the two wanderers will turn up all right.”
Farnsworth’s hearty assurance went far to relieve Patty’s fears and when Elise suggested a bad fall, he only laughed, and said,
“No-sir-ee! Zaly is a terror, and a trial in lots of ways, but if she had let that child fall, she would have called Patty and Winnie and the whole household for help, and would have run for the doctor herself! She never would have run away! Not Azalea! She’s no coward,—whatever other unpleasant traits she may possess.”
“That’s so,” agreed Patty; “and she truly loves the baby. No, Elise, nothing like that happened,—I’m sure. I see it as Bill does, now. It is a heavenly day,—and Zaly felt pretty sure I wouldn’t let her take Baby out by herself, without the nurse,—and she does love to do that,—and so she sneaked off, and made up that yarn about the food in order to get Fleurette’s hat and coat on! Oh, she’s a manoeuvrer!”
“Well, I’m glad you both feel that way about it,” said Elise; “of course you know the girl better than I do,—as I’ve never even seen her! but if she’s such a strong-arm, I think I’m rather afraid of her!”
“Oh, I imagine you can hold your own against her!” laughed Patty, happy now, since Bill’s reassurance of her darling’s safety. “All the same, I wish Zaly would come home! It’s after six! Come on, Elise, let’s dress for dinner, and then that will be done.”
They went to their rooms, and soon Patty was all dressed and had returned to her post of vantage on the wistaria porch, to look for the return of the lost ones. And at last, through the gathering dusk, she saw a baby carriage being propelled along the roadway.
“Here we are!” cried a voice, which Azalea tried hard to make casual, but which showed in its quality a trace of apprehension.
“Oh!” Patty cried, and without another word flew down the steps, and fairly grabbed her baby.