“I had expected to run over in the early spring, anyway,” said Mr. Hepworth carelessly, as if it were a matter of no moment; “I want to do certain French sketches that I’ve had my mind on for some time.”
“Well, if you do come,” said Elise cordially, “come right to our house and I know we can put you up. The Farringtons are erratic, but always hospitable; and I hereby invite this whole crowd to visit us in Paris, either jointly or severally, whenever the spirit moves you.”
“If I find a spirit that can move me over to Paris, I shall come often,” declared Kenneth; “but I’m afraid I’m too substantially built to be wafted across the ocean in the clutches of any spirit.”
Just then the notes of a bugle sounded clear and sweet from below.
“That’s the ship’s bugler,” declared Mr. Hepworth, “and that’s the bugle call for supper. Shall we go down and refresh ourselves?”
“Yes, indeed,” cried Patty, jumping from her nest of steamer rugs; “I’m as hungry as a hawk.”
But it somehow happened that all of the gay young crowd left the Upper Deck to go to the supper room before Patty and Mr. Hepworth started. He detained her for a moment while he said: “Little girl, will you miss me while you’re away?”
“Even if I expected to I wouldn’t own up to it,” said Patty, as she gave him a mischievous glance.
“Why wouldn’t you own up to it?” Mr. Hepworth spoke quite seriously and looked intently at the pretty face before him, with its golden hair crowned by the shining green sea-wreath.
“I don’t know,” said Patty slowly. She felt herself forced by his impelling gaze to raise her eyes to his, and for the first time it occurred to her that Mr. Hepworth felt more interest in her than she had ever suspected. “I don’t know why I wouldn’t own up to it, I’m sure,” she went on; “in fact, now that I come to think of it, I believe I should own up to it.”
“Well, own it then. Tell me you will miss me, and will sometimes wish I might be with you.”
“Oh,” cried Patty, laughing merrily, “I only meant I would own it if it were true. Of course I sha’n’t really miss you; there’ll be so much to amuse and interest me that I sha’n’t have time to miss anybody except papa and Nan.”
“That’s just what I thought,” said Mr. Hepworth.
At last the day of sailing came. The steamer was to leave her dock at three o’clock on Saturday afternoon, and soon after two Patty went on board, accompanied by Nan and her father.
A crowd of friends had also gathered to bid Patty goodspeed, and besides these the Farringtons had many friends there to say good-bye to them.
With the exception of Marian, it was not a sad parting. Indeed it seemed rather a hilarious occasion than otherwise. This was partly because most of the persons concerned felt truly sorry to miss Patty’s bright presence out of their lives, and feared that if they showed any regret the situation might become too much for them.