“It reads like a story,—a versatile woman. This talk has done me much good. I know the affection that exists between you and John, and I am confident that you would not misrepresent anything. I shall sleep easier to-night.”
The portieres rattled, and Patty stood in the doorway.
“Everybody’s gone; may I come in?”
Warrington rose. “I really should be very glad to make your acquaintance,” gallantly. “It’s so long a time since I’ve met young people—”
“Young people!” indignantly. “I am not young people; I am twenty, going on twenty-one.”
“I apologize.” Warrington sat down.
Thereupon Miss Patty, who was a good sailor, laid her course close to the wind, and with few tacks made her goal; which was the complete subjugation of this brilliant man. She was gay, sad, witty and wise; and there were moments when her mother looked at her in puzzled surprise. As for Warrington, he went from one laugh into another.
Oh, dazzling twenty; blissful, ignorant, confident twenty! Who among you would not be twenty, when trouble passes like cloud-shadows in April; when the door of the world first opens? Ay, who would not trade the meager pittance, wrested from the grinding years, for one fleet, smiling dream of twenty?
“It is all over town, the reply you made to Mrs. Winthrop and that little, sawed-off, witty daughter of hers.”
“Well, she is sawed-off and witty.”
“What did I say?” asked Warrington, blushing. He had forgotten the incident.
“Mrs. Winthrop asked you to make her daughter an epigram, and you replied that Heaven had already done that.”
“By the way,” said Warrington, when the laughter subsided, “I understand that my old dog has been running away from home lately. I hope he doesn’t bother you.”
“Bother, indeed! I just love him,” cried Patty. “He’s such a lovable animal. We have such good times on our morning rides. We had trouble last week, though. A white bulldog sprang at him. Jove was so tired that he would have been whipped had I not dismounted and beaten the white dog off. Oh, Jove was perfectly willing to contest the right of way. And when it was all over, who should come along but Mr. McQuade, the politician. It was his dog. And he hadn’t even the grace to make an apology for his dog’s ill manners.”
“May I not ride with you to-morrow morning?” he asked. He had intended to leave Herculaneum at noon; but there were many later trains.
“That will be delightful! I know so many beautiful roads; and we can lunch at the Country Club. And Jove can go along, too.”
“Where is the traitor?”
“He is sound asleep on the veranda rugs.”
“Well, it’s long past his bedtime. I must be going.”
“Some time I hope you will come just to call on me.”
“I shall not need any urging.”
They followed him to the door, and good nights were said.