At last the long anticipated hour had arrived and Randy and Jotham were speeding over the country toward home.
Nina Irwin, Peggy Atherton, Polly Lawrence and a host of their schoolmates had, on the day before bidden Randy an affectionate good-bye. They had exchanged promises in regard to correspondence, had vowed never to forget each other, and Nina had slipped a little parcel into Randy’s hand, saying,
“Just a little gift, dear Randy. Open it when the train has started and you are on your way home.”
“O Nina, I shall prize your gift, whatever it may be,” said Randy. “How can I wait until to-morrow to see it? And I have something to tell you,” she continued.
“I had a letter from home yesterday, and mother says that I must be sure to give you her invitation to spend a few weeks of the summer with us. She tells me to remind you that our home is a farm-house, but that it is large and comfortable, and that the welcome awaiting you is very cordial.
“Father says, ’Tell Miss Nina that I am anxious to see my daughter’s dear friend of whom she writes such pleasant things.’ Even Aunt Prudence says, ‘I think I shall approve of Miss Irwin,’ and little Prue says, ’Tell the Nina girl I want her to come!’”
“There was never a sweeter invitation, Randy Weston. Of course I’ll come,” said Nina, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Just a farm-house! Why, Randy, that is half the charm. Haven’t I been to hotels summer after summer, but I never stayed over night in a farm-house. I shall enjoy every hour of my stay with you.
“Tell your mother how gladly I accept her invitation, and tell Prue that the ‘Nina girl’ has no little sister, and that she is very eager to see Randy’s little Prue.”
On the morning of the journey Aunt Marcia folded Randy in a warm embrace as she said,
“Dear child promise me that you will come again, thus only, can I see you depart;” and Randy had promised at some future time to again visit Boston.
With Helen she had entered the coupe and together they rode to the station.
Jotham had been obliged to relinquish the pleasure of calling for Randy and had written to say that, accompanied by his tutor, he would meet her at the depot, so it happened that Jotham and Randy, after saying good-bye to their two friends, rode out from the station and into the glad sunshine on their homeward way, and Helen, her beautiful eyes filled with tears, entered the carriage followed by Professor Marden who seated himself beside her.
“Come and lunch with Aunt Marcia and me” she had said, “then I shall feel that while one dear friend departs, another remains.”
Upon entering the car, Jotham had turned over the seat opposite the one which they had chosen, and upon it they laid wraps, bags, a box of candy, and Helen’s last gift to Randy, a great cluster of roses.