Her breakfast tray sat untouched on its little stand, while on the counterpane were spread out some twoscore portraits of more or less beautiful maidens.
“What are you doing?” said Nan; “playing photograph solitaire?”
“I’m playing a game of photographs,” said Patty, raising a pair of solemn blue eyes to Nan, “but it isn’t exactly solitaire.”
“You needn’t tell me! You’re cutting up some trick with that new man of yours.” And Nan deliberately brushed away some pictures, and sat down on the side of the bed.
“You’re a wizard!” and Patty gazed at her stepmother. “You could have made your fortune, Nan, as a clairvoyant, telling people what they knew already! But since you’re here, do help me out.” And Patty told Nan the scheme of the three photographs.
Now, Nan was only six years older than Patty herself, and she entered into the joke with almost as much enthusiasm as the younger girl.
“Shall you send one of your own, really?” she inquired.
“No; I think not. But I want to get three different types, just to fool him.”
After much consideration the two conspirators selected a picture of a dark-eyed actress, who was pretty, but of rather flashy effects. Next they chose a picture of an intellectual young woman, with no pretension to beauty or style, and whose tightly drawn black hair and stiff white collar proclaimed a high brow. It was a picture of one of the girls in Patty’s class, who had been noted for her intellect and her lack of a sense of humour.
“He’ll know that isn’t you, Patty,” said Nan, objecting.
“No,” said Patty, sapiently; “he’s pretty clever, that young man, and probably he’ll think I’m just that sort. Now for the third, Nancy.”
It took a long time to select a third one, for Nan was in favour of a pretty girl, while Patty thought it would be more fun to send a plain one.
At last they agreed on a picture of another of Patty’s school friends, who was of the willowy, die-away kind. She was a blonde, but of a pale, ashen-haired variety, not at all like Patty’s Dresden china type. The pose was aesthetic, and the girl looked soulful and languishing.
“Just the thing!” cried Patty. “If he thinks I look like that, I’ll never speak to him again!”
And so, amid great glee, the three pictures were made into a neat parcel, and addressed to Mr. Christopher Cameron.
“Now, for goodness’ sake, Patty, eat your breakfast! Your chocolate is stone cold. I’ll go down and call a messenger and despatch this precious bundle of beauty to its destination.”
“All right,” returned Patty, and, with a feeling of having successfully accomplished her task, she turned her attention to her breakfast tray.
It was Tuesday morning that Patty had sent the pictures, and that same evening she was invited to dine and go to the opera with Mrs. Van Reypen.