Shirley clapped her hands delightedly. “How perfectly jolly! Oh, I am glad you asked me to join the club.”
“I’ll go tell Hilary!” Pauline said. “Tom, however—”
“I beg your pardon, Miss?”
Pauline laughed and turned away.
“Oh, I say, Paul,” Tom dropped his mask of pretended dignity, “let the Imp come with us—this time.”
Pauline looked doubtful. She, as well as Tom, had caught sight of that small flushed face, on which longing and indignation had been so plainly written. “I’m not sure that mother will—” she began, “But I’ll see.”
“Tell her—just this first time,” Tom urged, and Shirley added, “She would love it so.”
“Mother says,” Pauline reported presently, “that Patience may go this time—only we’ll have to wait while she gets ready.”
From an upper window came an eager voice. “I’m most ready now!”
“She’ll never forget it—as long as she lives,” Shirley said, “and if she hadn’t gone she would never’ve forgotten that.”
“Nor let us—for one while,” Pauline remarked—“I’d a good deal rather work with than against that young lady.”
Hilary came down then, looking ready and eager for the outing. She had been out in the trap with Pauline several times; once, even as far as the manor to call upon Shirley.
“Why,” she exclaimed, “you’ve brought the Folly! Tom, how ever did you manage it?”
“Beg pardon, Miss?”
Hilary shrugged her shoulders, coming nearer for a closer inspection of the big lumbering stage. It had been new, when the present proprietor of the hotel, then a young man, now a middle-aged one, had come into his inheritance. Fresh back from a winter in town, he had indulged high hopes of booming his sleepy little village as a summer resort, and had ordered the stage—since christened the Folly—for the convenience and enjoyment of the guests—who had never come. A long idle lifetime the Folly had passed in the hotel carriage-house; used so seldom, as to make that using a village event, but never allowed to fall into disrepair, through some fancy of its owner.
As Tom opened the door at the back now, handing his guests in with much ceremony, Hilary laughed softly. “It doesn’t seem quite—respectful to actually sit down in the poor old thing. I wonder, if it’s more indignant, or pleased, at being dragged out into the light of day for a parcel of young folks?”
“’Butchered to make a Roman Holiday’?” Shirley laughed.
At that moment Patience appeared, rather breathless—but not half as much so as Miranda, who had been drawn into service, and now appeared also—“You ain’t half buttoned up behind, Patience!” she protested, “and your hair ribbon’s not tied fit to be seen.—My sakes, to think of anyone ever having named that young one Patience!”
“I’ll overhaul her, Miranda,” Pauline comforted her. “Come here, Patience.”