[Illustration with caption: “’There never was such a dear, lovely, beautiful stepmother on the face of the earth!’”]
Patty only laughed at this, but still she had a vague feeling that her father was not yet quite done with the subject, and that almost anything might happen.
But as Kenneth Harper came in to see them just then, the question was laid before him.
“There is no sense in Patty’s going to college,” he declared. “I’m an authority on the subject, because I know college and I know Patty, and they have absolutely nothing in common with each other. Why, Patty doesn’t want the things that colleges teach. You see, she is of an artistic temperament—”
“Oh, Kenneth,” cried Patty reproachfully, “that’s the most fearfully unkind thing I ever had said to me! Why, I would rather be accused of I don’t know what than an artistic temperament! How could you say it? Why, I’m as practical and common sensible and straightforward as I can be. People who have artistic temperaments are flighty and weak-minded and not at all capable.”
“Why, Patty,” cried Nan, laughing, “how can you make such sweeping assertions? Mr. Hepworth is an artist, and he isn’t all those dreadful things.”
“That’s different,” declared Patty. “Mr. Hepworth is a real artist, and so you can’t tell what his temperament is.”
“But that’s just what I mean,” insisted Kenneth; “Hepworth is a real artist, and so he didn’t have and didn’t need a college education. He specialised and devoted all his study to his art. Then he went to Paris and stayed there for years, still studying and working. I tell you, it’s specialisation that counts. Now I don’t know that Patty wants to specialise, but she certainly doesn’t need the general work of college. I should think that you would prefer to have her devote herself to her music, especially her singing; for we all know that Patty’s is a voice of rare promise. I don’t know myself exactly what ‘rare promise’ means, but it’s a phrase that’s always applied to voices like Patty’s.”
“You’re just right, Kenneth,” said Nan, “and I’m glad you’re on our side. Patty and I entirely agree with you, and though Mr. Fairfield is still wavering a little, I am sure that by day after to-morrow, or next week at the latest, he will be quite ready to cast in his lot with ours.”
Mr. Fairfield only smiled, for though he had no intention of making Patty do anything against her will, yet he had not entirely made up his mind in the matter.
“Anyway, my child,” he said, “whatever you do or don’t do, will be the thing that we are entirely agreed upon, even if I have to convince you that my opinions are right.”
And Patty smiled back at her father happily, for there was great comradeship and sympathy between them.
It was only a few days later that Nan and Patty sat one evening in the library waiting for Mr. Fairfield to come home to dinner.