“Well, you’re way off! How could I possibly know anybody they don’t know?”
“You do, though. You had some people come to see you, and the Farnsworths didn’t meet them at all.”
“How do you know?”
“Patty told me.”
“Tattle-tale! It’s none of her business if I did!”
“Now, look here! I won’t stand for such talk about Patty! You stop it! She’s not only your hostess but she’s the best friend you ever had or ever will have! She’s making you over,—and goodness knows you needed it!”
“And that’s none of your business! I’m as good as you are,—this minute!”
“I didn’t say you weren’t! It isn’t a question of goodness. You may be a saint on earth compared to me, but you don’t know how to behave in decent society,—or didn’t, till Patty took you in hand.”
“She invited me to visit her! I didn’t ask her to have me!”
“Yes, because she wanted to be kind to her husband’s people, and you seemed to be the only one available.”
“Well, I was. And as I’m Cousin William’s only relative, I have a right to visit him as long as I please.”
“I don’t deny that, Azalea,” and Elise couldn’t help laughing at the defiant air of the speaker. “I’m not disputing your right to be here. But I do deny your right to say anything whatever against Patty, who is trying her best to do all she can for your pleasure and for your good.”
“That’s so,” and Azalea’s manner suddenly changed. “Patty is a dear, and I love her. And that baby! Oh!”
“How crazy you are over that child,” Elise exclaimed. “She is a dear baby, but I don’t see why you idolise her so.”
“Oh, I love babies, and Fleurette is so sweet and soft and cuddly! I love to have her all to myself,—but Patty won’t let me.”
“I don’t wonder! Where did you go with her that day, Azalea?”
“Nowhere in particular. Just for a walk in the country. I mean I walked. Baby rode in her coach.”
“But you went somewhere. Nurse Winnie insists you gave the child some soothing syrup,—or whatever they call it.”
“What! I did nothing of the sort! Why, Elise, I wouldn’t do such a thing! I love that kiddy! I wouldn’t give her a morsel to eat or drink. I know how careful Nurse and Patty are about that! You must be crazy to think I’d give Baby anything!”
Azalea’s honesty was unmistakable, Elise couldn’t doubt she was speaking the truth. She began to think Nurse Winnie had imagined the soothing syrup.
The two girls went home, and Elise said no word to any one of Azalea’s strange disappearance for a time.
They found Patty in a state of great excitement and interest over a new project.
Betty Gale was there and the two heads were together over a list they were making and they were chattering like a couple of magpies.
“Oh, Elise,” Patty cried out, “we’re getting up the grandest thing! It’s going to be here,—for the benefit of the Summer Fund, and it’s going to be Vanity Fair!”