The child was asleep, but Patty lifted her from the pillows and gazed into the little face. Apparently there was nothing wrong, but the golden head cuddled down on Patty’s shoulder and the baby slept on.
“She’s tired,” vouchsafed Azalea, “but she’s all right.”
“Where have you been?” asked Farnsworth sternly, as he came out of the front door.
“Just for a walk,” said Azalea, trying to speak pertly, but quailing before the accusing blue eyes fixed upon her.
Patty said no word to the girl, but holding Fleurette close, went at once to the nursery with her.
“She’s all right, Winnie, isn’t she?” the mother asked, anxiously.
“Yes, ma’am,—I think so,—but she’s a little too droopy for mere sleepiness.”
“Droopy! what do you mean?”
“It may be nothing,—Mrs. Farnsworth,—it may be only that she’s tired out and very sleepy,—but she acts a mite as if she’d been—”
“Been what? Speak out, Winnie! What do you mean?”
“Well,—she acts to me like a baby that’s had something soothing—some drops, you know.”
“Something to make her sleep?”
“Oh, nonsense! Miss Thorpe couldn’t give her anything like that! And why would she? Don’t you make any mistake, Winnie, Miss Thorpe adores this baby!”
“I know it, she does, Mrs. Farnsworth, but all the same,—look at those eyes, now.”
Patty looked, but it seemed to her that the blue eyes drooped from natural weariness, and assuring herself that no bones were broken or out of place, she drew a long sigh of relief and told Winnie to put Fleurette to bed as usual.
The nurse shook her head sagely, but said no more of her fears.
Patty returned to the porch where Farnsworth was still talking to Azalea. Apparently he had scolded her sharply, for she was crying, and that with Azalea Thorpe was a most unusual performance. She usually resented reproof and talked back in no mild-mannered way. But now she was subdued and even frightened of demeanour, and Patty knew that Bill had done all that was necessary and further reproaches from her were not needed.
“And another thing,” Farnsworth was saying, “I want to know why you have had no letters from your father since I asked to see one,—that was two or three weeks ago!”
“I have had one,” Azalea answered, sullenly, “I had one this morning.”
“Let me see it,” demanded Bill, and Azalea went up to her own room and returned with the letter.
There was no envelope on it, and Farnsworth opened the folded sheet and read:
MY DEAR CHILD:
I received your last letter and I am very glad you are having such a nice time. It must be very pleasant at the grand house where you are staying,—and I suppose you are getting grand too. I am very lonesome without you, but I am willing, for I want you to have a good time and get improvement and all that. Remember me kindly to Cousin William and his wife. I like to hear you tell about the baby. She must be a fine child. I am well, and I hope you are, too. With much affection, from your loving