“So say we all of us,” declared Lora, but Patty ordered them, rather earnestly, to drop the subject and not refer to it again.
“You must write me all about the Pageant, girls,” she went on.
“Can’t I write too, though I’m not a girl?” asked Jack.
“No!” cried Patty, holding up her hands in pretended horror. “I couldn’t receive a letter from a young man!”
“Oh, try it,” said Jack, laughing. “I’ll help you. You’ve no idea how easy it is! Have you never had a letter from a man?”
“From papa,” said Patty, putting the tip of her finger in her mouth, and speaking babyishly.
“Papa, nothing! You get letters from those New York chaps, don’t you, now?”
“Who New York chaps?” asked Patty, opening her eyes wide, with an over-innocent stare.
“Oh, that Harper kid and that Farrington cub and that Hepworth old gentleman!”
“What pretty pet names you call them! Yes, I get letters from them, but they’re my lifelong friends.”
“That’s the position I’m applying for. Don’t you need one more L. L. F.?” But Patty had turned to the girls, and they were counting up what few parties were to take place before Patty went away.
“I’d have a farewell party myself,” said Patty, thoughtfully, “but there’s so little time now, and Nan’s pretty busy. I hate to bother her with it. You see, we leave next week,—Thursday.”
“And our house party comes that very day!” said Beatrice, regretfully. “And Captain Sayre is coming. He’s the most stunning man! He’s our second cousin, and older than we are, but he’s just grand, isn’t he, Lora?”
“Yes; and he’d adore Patty. Oh, girlie, don’t go!”
“I think I’ll kidnap Patty,” said Jack. “The day they start, I’ll waylay the party as they board the train, and carry Patty off by force.”
“You’d have to get out a force of militia,” laughed Patty. “My father Fairfield is of a sharp-eyed disposition. You couldn’t carry off his daughter under his nose.”
“Strategy!” whispered Jack, in a deep, mysterious voice. “I could manage it, somehow, I’m sure.”
“Well, it wouldn’t do any good. He’d just come back after me, and we’d take the next train. But, oh, girls, I do wish I could stay here! I never had such a disappointment before. I’ve grown to love this place; and all you people; and my dear Camilla!” Patty’s blue eyes filled with real tears, as she dropped her light and bantering manner, and spoke earnestly.
“It’s a shame!” declared Jack, as he noted the drops trembling on the long, curled lashes. “Come on, girls, I’m going home before I express myself too strongly.”
So Jack and the Sayre girls went away, and Patty went up to her own room.
That night, when Patty was alone in her own room, she threw herself into a rocking chair, and rocked violently, as was her habit, when she had anything to bother her. She looked about at the pretty room, furnished with all her dear and cherished belongings.