“That’s one reason why she mustn’t know.”
“When will you tell her; or is mother going to?”
“I don’t know yet. See here, Patience, you may drive—if you won’t hi yi.”
“Please, Paul, let me, when we get to the avenue. It’s stupid coming to a place, like Fanny’d gone to sleep.”
“Not before—and only once then,” Pauline stipulated, and Patience possessed her soul in at least a faint semblance of patience until they turned into the avenue of maples. Then she suddenly tightened her hold on the reins, bounced excitedly up and down, crying sharply—“Hi yi!”
Fanny instantly pricked up her ears, and, what was more to the purpose, actually started into what might almost have been called a trot. “There! you see!” Patience said proudly, as they turned into the yard.
Hilary came down the porch steps. “I heard Impatience urging her Rosinante on,” she laughed. “Why didn’t you let her drive all the way, Paul? I’ve been watching for you since dinner.”
“We’ve been pretty nearly since dinner getting here, it seems to me,” Patience declared. “We had to wait for Paul to write a letter first to—”
“Are you alone?” Pauline broke in hurriedly, asking the first question that came into her mind.
Hilary smiled ruefully. “Not exactly. Mr. Boyd’s asleep in the sitting-room, and Mrs. Boyd’s taking a nap up-stairs in her own room.”
“You poor child!” Pauline said. “Jump out, Patience!”
“Have you brought me something to read? I’ve finished both the books I brought with me, and gone through a lot of magazines—queer old things, that Mrs. Boyd took years and years ago.”
“Then you’ve done very wrong,” Pauline told her severely, leading Fanny over to a shady spot at one side of the yard and tying her to the fence—a quite unnecessary act, as nothing would have induced Fanny to take her departure unsolicited.
“Guess!” Pauline came back, carrying a small paper-covered parcel. “Father sent it to you. He was over at Vergennes yesterday.”
“Oh!” Hilary cried, taking it eagerly and sitting down on the steps. “It’s a book, of course.” Even more than her sisters, she had inherited her father’s love of books, and a new book was an event at the parsonage. “Oh,” she cried again, taking off the paper and disclosing the pretty tartan cover within, “O Paul! It’s ’Penelope’s Progress.’ Don’t you remember those bits we read in those odd magazines Josie lent us? And how we wanted to read it all?”
Pauline nodded. “I reckon mother told father about it; I saw her following him out to the gig yesterday morning.”
They went around to the little porch leading from Hilary’s room, always a pleasant spot in the afternoons.
“Why,” Patience exclaimed, “it’s like an out-door parlor, isn’t it?”
There was a big braided mat on the floor of the porch, its colors rather faded by time and use, but looking none the worse for that, a couple of rockers, a low stool, and a small table, covered with a bit of bright cretonne. On it stood a blue and white pitcher filled with field flowers, beside it lay one or two magazines. Just outside, extending from one of the porch posts to the limb of an old cherry tree, hung Hilary’s hammock, gay with cushions.