“We’d love to,” Pauline answered heartily; “’cross lots, it’s not so very far over here from the parsonage, and,” she hesitated, “you—you’ll be seeing Hilary quite often, while she’s at The Maples, perhaps?”
“I hope so. Father’s on the lookout for a horse and rig for me, and then she and I can have some drives together. She will know where to find the prettiest roads.”
“Oh, she would enjoy that,” Pauline said eagerly, and as she drove on, she turned more than once to glance back at the tall, slender figure crossing the field. Shirley seemed to walk as if the mere act of walking were in itself a pleasure. Pauline thought she had never before known anyone who appeared so alive from head to foot.
“Go ’long, Fanny!” she commanded; she was in a hurry to get home now, with her burden of news. It seemed to her as if she had been away a long while, so much had happened in the meantime.
At the parsonage gate, Pauline found Patience waiting for her. “You have taken your time, Paul Shaw!” the child said, climbing in beside her sister.
“Fanny’s time, you mean!”
“It hasn’t come yet!” Patience said protestingly. “I went for the mail myself this afternoon, so I know!”
“Oh, well, perhaps it will to-morrow,” Pauline answered, with so little of real concern in her voice, that Patience wondered. “Suppose you take Fanny on to the barn. Mother’s home, isn’t she?”
Patience glanced at her sharply. “You’ve got something—particular—to tell mother! O Paul, please wait ’til I come. Is it about—”
“You’re getting to look more like an interrogation point every day, Impatience!” Pauline told her, getting down from the gig.
Patience sniffed. “If nobody ever asked questions, nobody’d ever know anything!” she declared.
“Is mother home?” Pauline asked again.
“Who’s asking things now!” Patience drew the reins up tightly and bouncing up and down on the carriage seat, called sharply—“Hi yi! Hi yi!”
It was the one method that never failed to rouse Fanny’s indignation, producing, for the moment, the desired effect; still, as Pauline said, it was hardly a proceeding that Hilary or she could adopt, or, least of all, their father.
As she trotted briskly off to the barn now, the very tilt of Fanny’s ears expressed injured dignity. Dignity was Fanny’s strong point; that, and the ability to cover less ground in an afternoon than any other horse in Winton. The small human being at the other end of those taut reins might have known she would have needed no urging barnwards.
“Maybe you don’t like it,” Patience observed, “but that makes no difference—’s long’s it’s for your good. You’re a very unchristiany horse, Fanny Shaw. And I’ll ‘hi yi’ you every time I get a chance; so now go on.”
However Patience was indoors in time to hear all but the very beginning of Pauline’s story of her afternoon’s experience. “I told you,” she broke in, “that I saw a nice girl at church last Sunday—in Mrs. Dobson’s pew; and Mrs. Dobson kept looking at her out of the corner of her eyes all the tune, ’stead of paying attention to what father was saying; and Miranda says, ten to one. Sally Dobson comes out in—”