It was five o’clock that afternoon when Patience, perched, a little white-clad sentry, on the gate-post, announced joyously—“They’re coming! They’re coming!”
Patience was as excited as if the expected “guest” were one in fact, as well as name. It was fun to be playing a game of make-believe, in which the elders took part.
As the gig drew up before the steps, Hilary looked eagerly out. “Will you tell me,” she demanded, “why father insisted on coming ’round the lower road, by the depot—he didn’t stop, and he didn’t get any parcel? And when I asked him, he just laughed and looked mysterious.”
“He went,” Pauline answered, “because we asked him to—company usually comes by train—real out-of-town company, you know.”
“Like visiting ministers and returned missionaries,” Patience explained.
Hilary looked thoroughly bewildered. “But are you expecting company? You must be,” she glanced from one to another, “you’re all dressed up,”
“We were expecting some, dear,” her mother told her, “but she has arrived.”
“Don’t you see? You’re it!” Patience danced excitedly about her sister.
“I’m the company!” Hilary said wonderingly. Then her eyes lighted up. “I understand! How perfectly dear of you all.”
Mrs. Shaw patted the hand Hilary slipped into hers. “You have come back a good deal better than you went, my dear. The change has done you good.”
“And it didn’t turn out a stupid—half-way affair, after all,” Hilary declared. “I’ve had a lovely time. Only, I simply had to come home, I felt somehow—that—that—”
“We were expecting company?” Pauline laughed. “And you wanted to be here?”
“I reckon that was it,” Hilary agreed. As she sat there, resting a moment, before going up-stairs, she hardly seemed the same girl who had gone away so reluctantly only eight days before. The change of scene, the outdoor life, the new friendship, bringing with it new interests, had worked wonders,
“And now,” Pauline suggested, taking up her sister’s valise, “perhaps you would like to go up to your room—visitors generally do.”
“To rest after your journey, you know,” Patience prompted. Patience believed in playing one’s part down to the minutest detail.
“Thank you,” Hilary answered, with quite the proper note of formality in her voice, “if you don’t mind; though I did not find the trip as fatiguing as I had expected.”
But from the door, she turned back to give her mother a second and most uncompany-like hug. “It is good to be home, Mother Shaw! And please, you don’t want to pack me off again anywhere right away—at least, all by myself?”
“Not right away,” her mother answered, kissing her.
“I guess you will think it is good to be home, when you know—everything,” Patience announced, accompanying her sisters up-stairs, but on the outside of the banisters.