“I never said you need to,” Tom answered, “even the idea was not altogether original with me.”
Patience suddenly leaned forward, her face all alight with interest. “I love my love with an A,” she said slowly, “because he’s an—author.”
Tom whistled. “Well, of all the uncanny young ones!”
“It’s very simple,” Patience said loftily.
“So it is, Imp,” Tracy exclaimed; “I love him with an A, because he’s an—A-M-E-R-I-C-A-N!”
“I took him to the sign of The Apple Tree,” Bell took up the thread.
“And fed him (mentally) on subjects—antedeluvian, or almost so,” Hilary added.
“What are you talking about?” Edna asked impatiently.
“Mr. Allen,” Pauline told her.
“I saw him and Tom walking down the back lane the other night,” Patience explained. Patience felt that she had won her right to belong to the club now—they’d see she wasn’t just a silly little girl. “Father says he—I don’t mean Tom—”
“We didn’t suppose you did,” Tracy laughed.
“Knows more history than any other man in the state; especially, the history of the state.”
“Mr. Allen!” Shirley exclaimed. “T. C. Allen! Why, father and I read one of his books just the other week. It’s mighty interesting. Does he live in Winton?”
“He surely does,” Bob grinned, “and every little while he comes up to school and puts us through our paces. It’s his boast that he was born, bred and educated right in Vermont. He isn’t a bad old buck—if he wouldn’t pester a fellow with too many questions.”
“He lives out beyond us,” Hilary told Shirley. “There’s a great apple tree right in front of the gate. He has an old house-keeper to look after him. I wish you could see his books—he’s literally surrounded with them.”
“Not storybooks,” Patience added. “He says, they’re books full of stories, if one’s a mind to look for them.”
“Please,” Edna protested, “let’s change the subject. Are we to have badges, or not?”
“Pins,” Bell suggested.
“Pins would have to be made to order,” Pauline objected, “and would be more or less expensive.”
“And it’s an unwritten by-law of this club, that we shall go to no unnecessary expense,” Tom insisted.
“But—” Bell began.
“Oh, I know what you’re thinking,” Tom broke in, “but Uncle Jerry didn’t charge for the stage—he said he was only too glad to have the poor thing used—’twas a dull life for her, shut up in the carriage-house year in and year out.”
“The Folly isn’t a she,” Patience protested.
“Folly generally is feminine,” Tracy said, “and so—”
“And he let us have the horses, too—for our initial outing,” Tom went on. “Said the stage wouldn’t be of much use without them.”
“Three cheers for Uncle Jerry!” Bob Dixon cried. “Let’s make him an honorary member.”