“Have you decided what we are to do?” Pauline asked Tom, when Patience had gone.
“I should say I had. You’ll be up to a ride by next Thursday, Hilary? Not a very long ride.”
“I’m sure I shall,” Hilary answered eagerly. “Where are we going?”
“He won’t even tell me,” Josie said.
Tom’s eyes twinkled. “You’re none of you to know until next Thursday. Say, at four o’clock.”
“Oh,” Shirley said, “I think it’s going to be the nicest club that ever was.”
“Am I late?” Shirley asked, as Pauline came down the steps to meet her Thursday afternoon.
“No, indeed, it still wants five minutes to four. Will you come in, or shall we wait out here? Hilary is under bond not to make her appearance until the last minute.”
“Out here, please,” Shirley answered, sitting down on the upper step. “What a delightful old garden this is. Father has at last succeeded in finding me my nag, horses appear to be at a premium in Winton, and even if he isn’t first cousin to your Bedelia, I’m coming to take you and Hilary to drive some afternoon. Father got me a surrey, because, later, we’re expecting some of the boys up, and we’ll need a two-seated rig.”
“We’re coming to take you driving, too,” Pauline said. “Just at present, it doesn’t seem as if the summer would be long enough for all the things we mean to do in it.”
“And you don’t know yet, what we are to do this afternoon?”
“Only, that it’s to be a drive and, afterwards, supper at the Brices’. That’s all Josie, herself, knows about it. Tom had to take her and Mrs. Brice into so much of his confidence.”
Through the drowsy stillness of the summer afternoon, came the notes of a horn, sounding nearer and nearer. A moment later, a stage drawn by two of the hotel horses turned in at the parsonage drive at a fine speed, drawing up before the steps where Pauline and Shirley were sitting, with considerable nourish. Beside the driver sat Tom, in long linen duster, the megaphone belonging to the school team in one hand. Along each side of the stage was a length of white cloth, on which was lettered—
SEEING WINTON STAGE
As the stage stopped, Tom sprang down, a most businesslike air on his boyish face.
“This is the Shaw residence, I believe?” he asked, consulting a piece of paper.
“I—I reckon so,” Pauline answered, too taken aback to know quite what she was saying.
“All right!” Tom said. “I understand—”
“Then it’s a good deal more than I do,” Pauline cut in.
“That there are several young people here desirous of joining our little sight-seeing trip this afternoon.”
From around the corner of the house at that moment peeped a small freckled face, the owner of which was decidedly very desirous of joining that trip. Only a deep sense of personal injury kept Patience from coming forward,—she wasn’t going where she wasn’t wanted—but some day—they’d see!