“Where’s the envelope?” asked Farnsworth, as he raised an unsmiling face to Azalea.
“I tore it up.”
“I always do,—I never save envelopes. It was just a plain one.”
“All right, Zaly. Here’s your letter,” and he handed it back to her.
The Farnsworths made no difference in their treatment of Azalea, after her escapade. Bill had scolded her severely for taking the baby away without leave, and sternly forbidden her ever to do so again, and the girl had promised she would not.
Patty had said nothing to her on the subject, feeling that she could best keep Azalea’s friendliness by ignoring the matter, and she was trying very hard to teach the girl the amenities of social life.
And Azalea was improving. She behaved much better at table and in the presence of guests. Patty rejoiced at the improvement and, as she took strict care that Azalea should have no opportunity to see Fleurette alone, she feared no repetition of those anxious hours when the baby was missing.
Elise rather liked the Western girl. They became good friends and went for long strolls together. Elise was a good walker, and Azalea was tireless.
One day they had gone a long distance from home, when suddenly Azalea said, “I wish you’d stay here a few minutes, Elise, and wait for me.”
“Why, where are you going?” asked the other, in astonishment.
“Never mind, it’s a little secret,—for the present. You just sit here on the grass and wait,—there’s a duck. Here’s a book you can read.”
Azalea offered Elise a small volume—it was a new humorous publication, and one Elise had expressed a desire to read. She took it, saying, “All right, Zaly, go ahead, but don’t be too long.”
Azalea left her, and Elise soon became absorbed in the book.
It was a full half hour before Azalea returned.
“Where have you been?” asked Elise, looking up, and then glancing at her watch. “It’s half-past four!”
“I know it. That’s not late. Come on, let’s go home.”
Azalea was smiling and in an excited mood, but she looked tired,—almost exhausted, as well. She was flushed, and her hair was rumpled, and her breath came quickly, as if she had been through some violent exercise.
“What have you been up to, Zaly?” Elise asked, curiously. “You look all done up!”
“I went for a walk by myself. Sometimes I have moods—”
“Fiddlesticks! Don’t try to make me think you had a longing for self-communion or any foolishness of that sort! I know you, Azalea Thorpe! You went off to meet somebody—”
“I did not! How you talk, Elise Farrington!”
“Yes, you did! Somebody that you don’t want Patty and Bill to know about. Oh, you don’t fool me! I’m not a blind bat!”