As Mr. Dayre had promised, the party broke up early, going off in the various rigs they had come in. Tom and Josie went in the trap with the Shaws. “It’s been perfectly lovely—all of it,” Josie said, looking back along the road they were leaving. “Every good time we have seems the best one yet.”
“You wait ’til my turn comes,” Pauline told her. “I’ve such a scheme in my head.”
“Am I in it?” Patience begged. She was in front, between Tom, who was driving, and Hilary, then she leaned forward, they were nearly home, and the lights of the parsonage showed through the trees. “There’s a light in the parlor—there’s company!”
Pauline looked, too. “And one up in our old room, Hilary. Goodness, it must be a visiting minister! I didn’t know father was expecting anyone.”
“I bet you!” Patience jumped excitedly up and down. “I just bet it isn’t any visiting minister—but a visiting—uncle! I feel it in my bones, as Miranda says.”
“Nonsense!” Pauline declared.
“Maybe it isn’t nonsense, Paul!” Hilary said.
“I feel it in my bones,” Patience repeated. “I just knew Uncle Paul would come up—a story-book uncle would be sure to.”
“Well, here we are,” Tom laughed. “You’ll know for certain pretty quick.”
THE END OF SUMMER
It was Uncle Paul, and perhaps no one was more surprised at his unexpected coming, than he himself.
That snap-shot of Hilary’s had considerable to do with it; bringing home to him the sudden realization of the passing of the years. For the first time, he had allowed himself to face the fact that it was some time now since he had crossed the summit of the hill, and that under present conditions, his old age promised to be a lonely, cheerless affair.
He had never had much to do with young people; but, all at once, it seemed to him that it might prove worth his while to cultivate the closer acquaintance of these nieces of his. Pauline, in particular, struck him as likely to improve upon a nearer acquaintance. And that afternoon, as he rode up Broadway, he found himself wondering how she would enjoy the ride; and all the sights and wonders of the great city.
Later, over his solitary dinner, he suddenly decided to run up to Winton the next day. He would not wire them, he would rather like to take Phil by surprise.
So he had arrived at the parsonage, driving up in Jed’s solitary hack, and much plied with information, general and personal, on the way, just as the minister and his wife reached home from the manor.
“And, oh, my! Doesn’t father look tickled to death!” Patience declared, coming in to her sisters’ room that night, ostensibly to have an obstinate knot untied, but inwardly determined to make a third at the usual bedtime talk for that once, at least. It wasn’t often they all came up together.