“Why don’t you get up a picnic to-morrow?” he suggested, as Perkins passed the fingerbowls—a rite which always tried Anne’s timid, inexperienced soul, as did the mysteries of the half-dozen spoons and forks that had stretched out on each side of her plate at the beginning of the meal.
“You could get some of Anne’s friends to join you,” went on the Judge, “and I’ll let you have the three-seated wagon and Perkins; and Mary can pack a lunch.”
Judy raised two calm eyes from a scrutiny of the table-cloth.
“I hate picnics,” she said.
Then as the Judge, with a disappointed look on his kind old face, pushed back his chair, Judy rose and trailed languidly through the dining-room and out into the hall.
Anne started to follow, but the hurt look on the Judge’s face was too much for her tender heart, and as she reached the door she turned and came back.
“I think a picnic would be lovely,” she said, a little surprised at her own interference in the matter, “and—and—let’s plan it, anyhow, and Judy will have a good time when she gets there.”
“Do you really think she will?” said the Judge, with the light coming into his eyes.
“Yes,” said Anne, “she will, and you’d better ask Nannie May and Amelia Morrison.”
“And Launcelot Bart?” asked the Judge. For a moment Anne hesitated, then she answered with a sort of gentle decision.
“We can’t have the picnic without Launcelot. He knows the nicest places. You ask him, Judge, and—and—I’ll tell Judy.”
“We will have something different, too,” planned the Judge. “I will send to the city for some things—bonbons and all that. Perkins will know what to order. I haven’t done anything of this kind for so long that I don’t know the proper thing—but Perkins will know—he always knows—”
“Anne, Anne,” came Judy’s voice from the top of the stairway.
Anne fluttered away, rewarded by the Judge’s beaming face, but with fear tugging at her heart. What would Judy say? Judy who hated picnics and who hated boys?
“Don’t you want to come down and take a walk?” she asked coaxingly, from the foot of the stairs. It would be easier to break the news to Judy out-of-doors, and then the Judge would be in the garden, a substantial ally.
“I hate walks,” said Imperiousness from the upper hall.
“Oh,” murmured Faintheart from the lower hall, and sat down on the bottom step.
“I won’t tell her till we are ready for bed,” was her sudden conclusion.
It was getting dark, but Judy hanging over the rail could just make out the huddled blue gingham bunch.
“Aren’t you coming up?” she asked, ominously.
“Yes,” and with her courage all gone, Anne rose and began the long climb up the stately stairway.
IN THE JUDGE’S GARDEN