“I suppose,” said Mrs. Farrington, looking at her quizzically, “it’s not unnatural that you should want to know when you’re going to see your native land again; but truly, Patty, I cannot tell you. I’ll promise you this, though: to-morrow you’ll know more about it than you do to-day.”
Patty was mystified at this, for Mrs. Farrington’s tone was even more enigmatical than her words.
“And wait a minute, girls,” said Mrs. Farrington, as they were about to go to their rooms to dress for dinner; “put on your pretty new dresses to-night, will you?”
“Why, mother?” said Elise in astonishment; “those are company gowns, and there’s no company here!”
“No, there’s no company here, but put them on, as I tell you. I want to see how they look.”
“I don’t see what’s the matter with mother,” said Elise, as they went upstairs; “she’s been restless and fidgety all day. And now the idea of telling us to put on those new frocks!”
“I just as lieve do it,” said Patty; “they’re awfully pretty ones, and I want to see how they look myself.”
When the girls went downstairs they found Mrs. Farrington already in the drawing-room.
She herself wore a more elaborate toilette than usual, and there seemed to be an extra abundance of flowers and lights.
“What is the matter?” said Elise. “There’s something about the atmosphere of this house that betokens a party; but I don’t see any party. Is there any party, mother?”
“I don’t see any, my child,” said Mrs. Farrington, smiling.
“Where’s father?” asked Elise.
“He’s out,” said her mother; “we’re waiting for dinner until he comes.”
Just then a ring was heard at the front door-bell.
“There’s your father now,” said Mrs. Farrington abruptly; “Patty, my dear, won’t you run up to my bedroom and get me my vinaigrette?”
“Why, you have it on, Mrs. Farrington,” said Patty, in surprise; “it’s hanging from your chatelaine.”
“Oh, yes, of course; so it is! But I mean my other one—my gold one. Oh, no; I don’t want two vinaigrettes, do I? I mean, won’t you run up and get me a handkerchief?”
“Why, mother!” exclaimed Elise, in surprise; “ring for Lisette, or at least let me go. Don’t send Patty.”
“No, I want Patty to go,” said Mrs. Farrington decidedly. “Please go, my child, and get me a handkerchief from the drawer in my dressing-table. Get the one that is fourth from the top, in the second pile.”
“Certainly,” said Patty, and she ran upstairs, wondering what whim possessed her hostess to send her guest, though ever so willing, on her errand.
Patty had some little difficulty in finding the right handkerchief, in spite of the explicit directions, and when she again reached the drawingroom Mr. Farrington was there, and both he and his wife were smiling broadly. Elise, too, seemed overcome with merriment, and Patty paused in the doorway, saying: “What is the matter with you people? Please let me into the joke, too!”