At this moment Mandy appeared at the door and announced dinner, and Quincy had the pleasure of leading Alice to her accustomed seat at the table.
“I took the liberty while upstairs,” said Quincy, “to glance at a book that was on your bureau entitled, ‘The Love of a Lifetime,’ Have you read it?”
“No,” replied Alice. “I commenced it the night before I was taken sick.”
“I shall be pleased to read it aloud to you,” said Quincy.
“I should enjoy listening to it very much,” she replied.
So after dinner they returned to the parlor and Quincy read aloud until the descending sun again sent its rays through the parlor windows to fall upon Alice’s face and hair, and Quincy thought to himself how happy he should be if the fair girl who sat beside him ever became the love of his lifetime.
Alice finally said she was tired and must have a rest. Quincy called Mandy and she went to her room. A few moments later Quincy was in his own room and after locking his door sat down to inspect his plunder.
Alice did not rest, however; something was on her mind. She found her way to the bureau and took up the pictures.
“Only four,” she said to herself, after counting them. “Let me see,” she continued, “the photographer gave me thirteen,—a baker’s dozen he called it. Now to whom have I given them? ’Zekiel, one; Uncle Ike, two; Mrs. Putnam, three; Stella Dwight, four; Bessie White, five; Emma Farnum, six; Mr. Ringgold, seven; Mr. Fisher, eight. That would leave five and I have only four. Now to whom did I give that other picture?”
And the guilty thief sat on the other side of the partition and exulted in his crime. There came a loud rap at his door, and Quincy started up so suddenly that he dropped the picture and it fell to the floor. He caught it up quickly and placed it in his pocket. As he unlocked the door and opened it he heard loud rapping on the door of Miss Pettengill’s room.
Looking into the entry he saw ’Zekiel, who cried out, “Say, you folks, have you forgotten that you have been invited out to tea this evening, and that we are going to give a surprise party to Mr. Strout and his friends? I am all dressed and the sleigh is ready.”
Without waiting for a reply he dashed downstairs.
While Quincy was donning his sober suit of black, with a Prince Albert coat and white tie, Alice had put on an equally sober costume of fawn colored silk, with collar and cuffs of dainty lace, with little dashes of pink ribbon, by way of contrast in color.
The surprise party.
After Alice had taken her place on the back seat in the double sleigh, Quincy started to take his place on the front seat, beside ’Zekiel, but the latter motioned him to sit beside Alice, and Quincy did so without needing any urging.
As ’Zekiel took up the reins, Quincy leaned forward and touched him on the shoulder.