AN EXCURSION TO VERSAILLES
One evening, as our party sat in the drawing-room of the hotel, after dinner, some callers’ cards were brought to them. The guests proved to be Bert Chester and his three friends, of whom he had told Patty before. The four young men were about to start on a motor tour, and were spending a few days in Paris first.
They were all big stalwart young Englishmen, and when Bert introduced Paul and Philip Marchbanks and Arthur Oram, Patty thought she had never seen more pleasant-looking boys.
“We’re jolly glad to be allowed to come to see you,” said Phil Marchbanks, addressing Mrs. Farrington, but including them all in his conversation; “we know almost nobody in Paris, and we’re so glad to see some friendly faces.”
“We may as well own up,” said his brother Paul, “that we’re just a bit homesick. We’re going to have a fine time, of course, after we get started, but it takes a few days to get used to it.”
It amused Patty to think of these great, big boys being homesick, but she rather liked their frank admission of it, and she began to ask them questions about their automobile.
The boys had no chauffeur with them, and Arthur Oram drove the car, with occasional assistance from the others. Of course, the boys were enthusiastic regarding their car, and young Oram particularly fell into discussions with Mr. Farrington as to the respective merits of various makes.
“We’ve done up Paris pretty well,” said Bert Chester; “we’ve only been arrested for speeding once; but that’s not surprising, for they let you go about as fast as you like here, and with their marvellously fine roads, it’s more like skating than anything else.”
“But you only arrived here when we did,” said Elise; “how can you have done up Paris so soon?”
“Well, you see,” said Bert, “we’re not going to write a book about it, so we didn’t have to take it all in. We’ve seen the outside of the Louvre, and the inside of Napoleon’s tomb; we’ve been to the top of the Eiffel tower, and the bottom of the Catacombs; so we flatter ourselves that we’ve done up the length and breadth and height and depths,—at least to our own satisfaction.”
“It’s a great mistake,” said Phil Marchbanks, “to overdo this sightseeing business. A little goes a great way with me, and if I bolt a whole lot of sights all at once, I find I can’t digest them, and I have a sort of attack of tourist’s indigestion, which is a thing I hate.”
“So do I,” agreed Patty, “and I think you do quite right not to attempt too much in a short time. We are taking the winter for it, and Mr. Farrington is going to arrange it all for us, so that I know we’ll never have too much or too little. How much longer are you staying here?”
“Only a few days,” replied Bert Chester, “and that brings me to our special errand. We thought perhaps—that is, we hoped that may be you might, all of you, agree to go with us to-morrow on a sort of a picnic excursion to Versailles. We thought, do you see, that we could take our car, and you could take yours, and we’d start in the morning and make a whole day of it.”