“Patty, Mrs. Haldene left her shopping-bag here yesterday afternoon. I had forgotten it. Would you mind taking it over to her, or shall I have the maid do it?”
“I have nothing to do, mother. I can take it over just as well as not,” said Patty listlessly.
She slipped her arm through the handles of the bag and proceeded into the hall for a hat. As she lifted the hat to her head the bag slipped along her arm close to her nose. Instantly her figure became tense and rigid, her face grim and colorless.
There could be no doubt at all. The perfume on the letter and that on the shopping-bag were identical. Indeed, she would take the bag over to Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene; she would be very glad to do her that trifling service. Oh! Patty’s rage choked her. During the past three weeks Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene had called at least a dozen times, doubtless to observe the effect of her interest in Patty’s welfare. She might have known! Well, this very morning she would ascertain from Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene’s lips where she had secured her information. She would do more than that; she would make her prove every word of it.
So Patty marched toward the Haldene place, marched, because that verb suggests something warlike, something belligerent. And there was war a-plenty in Patty’s heart. Each step she took sang out a sharp “Meddler-gossip! meddler-gossip!” A delivery horse went past, drumming an irritating “Busybody! busybody! busybody!” What had she or hers ever done to Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene that she should stoop to so base a means of attack? An anonymous letter! War raged in Patty’s heart; but there was something warmer and clearer coursing through her veins—hope!
She went on. Not a particle of her courage deserted her as she mounted the steps and pushed the bell. When Patty was genuinely roused in anger she was afraid of little or nothing, animate or inanimate. A maid answered the bell. As she recognized the caller she swung back the door and nodded.
“Is Mrs. Haldene at home?” Patty inquired.
“Yes, Miss Patty.”
The maid led Patty into the library, where Mrs. Franklyn-Haldene was busily engaged in making up an invitation list.
“Why, Patty, I am glad to see you,” she cried, dropping her pen and rising. But her curiosity rose at the same time. Patty here?
“You left your shopping-bag when you called yesterday,” said Patty, ominously calm. “I have brought it to you.”