So she proposed that except for a short automobile drive that afternoon the girls should rest and keep themselves fresh for dinner-time, when she expected the arrival of her paragon of a nephew.
From her description of the young man, the girls were led to think that he must be a sort of fairy prince in disguise,—and not very much disguised, either.
So in the afternoon the three girls and Ma’amselle went for a drive in one of the great touring cars, of which Ma’amselle had several.
Patty begged to be allowed to sit in front with the chauffeur, and rather astonished that impassive factotum by asking to be allowed to drive.
He was very much disinclined to grant her request, lest it should displease the old Ma’amselle, of whom all her servants stood greatly in awe; but when Patty appealed to her hostess, and received a not very willing permission, the chauffeur allowed her to change seats with him, and really drive the car.
He was greatly surprised at Patty’s skill, and became more than ever convinced that Americans were a strange race.
Their route lay past the railway station and along the beautiful terrace which skirts the forest of St. Germain on one side, and commands such a marvellous view of the valley and the Seine.
Returning home, the girls were left to their own devices until dinner-time, when they were adjured to array themselves appropriately to do homage with the wonderful Henri.
“Henri must be something out of the ordinary,” declared Elise, when the girls were alone.
“Probably not,” said Patty; “only Ma’amselle thinks him so.”
“At any rate I’m anxious to see him,” declared Elise, “for I don’t know any real live French boy except that Pauvret who was on the steamer, and he was too lackadaisical for any use.”
“Well, I don’t apprehend M’sieu Henri will be much better,” said Patty; “I don’t care much about Frenchmen, anyway. What are you going to wear, girls?”
“I shall wear my red chifon,” said Rosamond; “it’s most becoming to me; I’m a perfect dream in it, and I shall quite cut out you other girls with our foreign prince.”
“Pooh!” said Elise; “he won’t look at you when he sees me in my white tulle. I’m the Frenchiest thing in that you ever saw!”
“Oh girls,” cried Patty, “I’m going to wear my light blue crepe de chine. And then we’ll be red, white and blue! Won’t that be a graceful compliment to the French colours, as well as to our own dear flag!”
“Long may it wave!” cried Rosamond, and then following Patty’s lead, the girls sang the “Star Spangled Banner” with true American heartiness and patriotism. This they followed up with the “Marseillaise,” in which they were interrupted by the appearance of one of the maids in a great state of excitement.
In breathless haste, which made her French difficult for them to understand, she explained that Ma’amselle had had a telegram of dreadful import, and would the young ladies attend upon her at once.