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   Chapter 5 THE RETURN OF PATRICIA

Dorothy Dainty's Gay Times By Amy Brooks Characters: 14636

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


Of course they talked and talked of their entertainment, of their fine audience, of the applause, and the delight of their friends.

They were on their way to school one morning, Nina, Jeanette, and their cousin, Lola Blessington.

"Nancy Ferris danced just beautifully," said Lola, "I wonder where she learned."

"I don't know," Jeanette said, sullenly.

She had envied the applause which Nancy's graceful dancing had evoked.

"Why, Jeanette," exclaimed Nina, "you do know that Nancy learned to dance in New York."

"Well, I don't know who taught her, and that's probably what Lola meant," Jeanette retorted sharply.

"New York!" said Lola. "Why, I remember a little girl I saw once at the theatre, who danced so gracefully that I thought she must be a fairy. She seemed ever so much like Nancy, but she had-"

"Come here, Nancy," called Jeanette, sharply, "Lola says she saw a girl once, at a theatre in New York, who danced and looked like you. What do you think of that?"

"Jeanette!" cried Nina, surprised that her sister should be so eager to tease Nancy, but Nancy did not seem annoyed.

She looked straight into Jeanette's flashing eyes, as she said, quietly:

"Perhaps Lola did see me dance; I was in New York."

"Oh, I didn't say it was you who danced at the theatre. I said the little girl was like you, but I remember now her hair was yellow," Lola said.

"I wore a wig of long yellow curls," Nancy said, "and I had to dance whether I wished to or not; Uncle Steve made me. Oh, I was not happy there. I was never so happy as when I've been with dear Aunt Charlotte, and Dorothy. Let's talk about something else."

Jeanette felt a bit ashamed. Nina wished that her sister had not been so rude, and for a few moments neither could think of anything to say, but just at that moment Dorothy joined them, and soon they were talking as gaily as before.

Then Katie and Reginald came hurrying along the avenue, and a moment later Mollie Merton and Flossie Barnet, and soon they were all chattering like a flock of sparrows.

"Say! Just listen to me a minute," shouted Reginald, "I've got something great to tell you, but I can't until you'll hark."

"What is it? What is it?" cried the eager voices.

"It's just this," he said with much importance: "My mamma called on Aunt Charlotte yesterday, and while they were talking 'bout our school Aunt Charlotte said that the big girls would begin to study history this week, and my brother Bob says it'll be all 'bout cutting folks' heads off. I guess it'll scare girls to study that. 'Twould scare me, and I'm a boy!"

"Why, Reginald Dean!" cried Katie.

"My middle name's Merton," said the small boy, coolly.

"Well, Reginald Merton Dean, then," Katie said, "and whatever your name is, you ought not to tell things like that!"

"Like what? Like learning 'bout folks choppin' off other folks' heads? Well, I guess it's so if my big brother says so," Reginald replied.

The girls did not believe it, but they could not deny it. They knew that Reginald thought what he said was true, but they believed that, in some way, the facts had become twisted.

They were at the cottage door now, and as they entered Reginald whispered:

"You just see, Katie Dean! I tell you Bob knows!"

The early morning lessons were the same as usual, and the girls soon forgot what Reginald had said, and at recess there were so many games to be played that there was little time for talking.

It was after recess that the surprise came. The reading lesson had been unusually interesting, and instead of twenty minutes, it had occupied a half-hour.

When the readers were put aside, Aunt Charlotte said:

"Commencing to-morrow, we shall devote a half-hour to studying history. You are all much younger than the pupils in the public schools who begin to study history, but we shall take it up in an easy, enjoyable way. I shall read to you from a finely written volume which I own, while you will try to write, from memory, what I have read."

"What did I tell you?" whispered Reginald. "Now I guess you'll hear 'bout folks with their heads off!"

Katie put her hands over her ears, but Reginald's eyes were twinkling with delight. The girls would have to admit that his scrap of news was true!

As they hastened down the long avenue after school, he again asked his question:

"Say, girls! What did I say?"

"You said we'd got to learn horrid things, and Aunt Charlotte didn't say so," said Mollie.

"I know she didn't, but Bob did, and you wait," was the quick reply.

"I'll tell you something that you'd hardly believe, but it's true," said Mollie; "it's somebody that's coming right here to Merrivale to live."

"Is it somebody you know?" Dorothy asked.

Mollie laughed.

"Somebody we all know," she said.

"Is she nice? Do we like her?" Nina questioned.

"I'll tell you who it is, and then you'll know whether you're glad or not," said Mollie.

She had been walking backward, and in front of her playmates, and thus she could watch their faces. She looked at them an instant, then she said:

"It's-Patricia Lavine!"

The little group stood stock still, and it was quite evident that not one of the party was delighted.

Nancy was the first to speak.

"Are you sure, Mollie?" she asked.

"She said so," Mollie replied. "I was running across the lawn to call for Flossie, when I heard some one call:

"'Mollie! Mollie! Mollie Merton!'

"I turned, and there was Patricia running up the walk. You know she was always in a rush, and she's just the same now.

"'I can't stop but a minute,' she said, 'but I've just time to tell you that we've been hunting houses, and we're coming here to live. We've got a house right next to the big schoolhouse, and that's nice, for I wouldn't want to go to private school.'

"Then she ran off, just looking over her shoulder to say:

"'I've got to hurry, for I've an engagement, but I'll be over to see you all soon.'"

"I wish she wouldn't," said Reginald, stoutly.

"Perhaps she's pleasanter than when she lived here before," ventured Flossie, looking up into the faces of her playmates.

Dear little girl, the youngest of the group, she was ever ready to say a kind word for an absent playmate.

"She looked just the same," said Mollie.

"If she said she was to live next to the big schoolhouse, that is just miles from here," Jeanette said, "so she wouldn't be likely to come over here very often."

"'Tisn't any farther than where she lived before," said Nina, "and she came often enough then."

* * *

Aunt Charlotte had chosen wisely, when she had decided to interest her young pupils in history, by reading aloud from a volume in which the facts were set forth in story form, and there was one pupil who listened more intently than any of the others.

One glance at Reginald's earnest little face would have convinced any one that he was wildly interested.

His round, blue eyes never left Aunt Charlotte's face while she was reading. The story of Ponce de Leon's search for the fountain of youth was more exciting than any fairy tale that he had ever heard. He saw no pathos in the old Spaniard's useless search. The picture which the history painted for him showed only the little band of swarthy men following their handso

me, white-haired leader through the wild, unexplored South, their picturesque, gaily colored costumes gleaming in the sunlight.

How brilliant the pageant! How brave, how valiant they must have appeared! Even the gorgeous wild flowers paled with chagrin as the bold, venturesome Spaniards trampled them underfoot as they marched steadily onward, hoping yet to find the crystal fountain which should grant to them eternal youth.

When Aunt Charlotte ceased reading, she said:

"Now, take your pencils, and write all that you remember of what I have read."

How their pencils flew! In a short time their papers were ready, and the little pupils proved that they had been attentive, many of the sketches giving the story almost word for word. Of course the older girls had written most accurately, but a few lines which little Flossie Barnet had written showed her tender, loving heart.

"I'm sorry for the poor old Spanyard, for a fountane like that wouldn't be anywhere, so I wish he and his brave men had sailed across the sea and land to hunt for something that he could truly find."

Some faulty spelling, but no error in the loving, tender heart. The pathos of the story had touched her.

Reginald was but a few months older than Flossie, but he was not sensitive, and only the adventure, the beauty described appealed to him. He looked at Flossie in surprise when she had finished reading her little sketch, and wondered that she could see anything pathetic in the tale.

Then he rose to read his own effort at story-telling.

"They tramped and tramped for miles through the trees and swamps, and I'd like to have worn a red velvet coat and hunt for that fountane, for if we hadn't found it we'd have had a jolly hunt. I'd like to have worn a red velvet coat and a big hat with fethers on it, and a pare of boots with big tops to them. We could have tramped better with those big boots and all those fine things on."

A droll idea, truly. No wonder that the girls laughed at the vanity which Reginald had so innocently betrayed.

"Where did you get your description of his costume?" Aunt Charlotte asked. She could not help smiling.

"From a painting in my uncle's hall," said Reginald, promptly, "and when I told him that I wished that men wore clothes like that now, he just laughed, and said he thought those huge, long-plumed hats would be an awful nuisance."

The older girls were soon to study English history, and they felt very important indeed.

"We're bigger than Flossie and Katie and Reginald," said Jeanette, "so we are to have an extra study."

"We wouldn't want what you're going to have," Reginald said, "for it's just horrid. I told you my brother Bob said it was all full of chopping folks' heads off, and you didn't believe it, Jeanette Earl, but you'll find out it's so; you see 'f you don't."

Flossie slipped her hand into Reginald's, as if for protection.

"We wouldn't like to study it," she said, "and we won't like to hear it, but we'll have to when they say their lessons."

Dorothy and Nancy had been obliged to hurry home from school. They were to drive with Mrs. Dainty and Aunt Charlotte, and Mrs. Dainty had told them to be prompt.

Flossie and Reginald lingered after the others had gone. He gathered some blossoming weeds which grew near the cottage, thinking thus to cheer her, and to turn her mind from the hated English history.

She took the flowers, and for a time she laughed and talked so brightly that she seemed her sunny self.

He was just thinking how happy she looked when suddenly she leaned toward him, and said earnestly:

"Do you s'pose Bob was mistaken?"

Reginald hesitated. He ardently admired Bob, but he also cared for dear little Flossie, and longed to please her, so after a pause he said:

"My big brother knows 'most everything, but just p'r'aps he might have been mistaken."

It was not much comfort, but it was better than if Reginald had insisted that Bob's knowledge was absolute.

As Mrs. Dainty's carriage bowled along the avenue, the trees seemed ablaze with autumn splendor, for the leaves that danced in the sunlight were scarlet and gold, and the sunbeams flickered and shimmered like merry elves.

The light breeze tossed the plumes on Dorothy's hat, and blew her golden curls about her lovely little face.

She leaned back in the carriage and laid her hand in Nancy's. Nancy's fingers were quick to clasp Dorothy's, and for a time they sat listening to what Mrs. Dainty and Aunt Charlotte Grayson were saying.

Then something made Nancy turn. A little figure was mincing along the avenue; its shoes had very high heels, its stockings were pink, and its dress a bright green. A showy hat with many-colored flowers crowned its head, and as the carriage passed it waved a lace handkerchief, thus setting her many bangles tinkling.

"That was Patricia Lavine," said Nancy; "Mollie Merton said she saw her just a few days ago."

"O dear!" said Dorothy, "and it's not nice to say that when Patricia has just come back here to live, but truly she wasn't pleasant."

"I don't wonder you said, 'O dear,' for wherever she was, she made somebody uncomfortable," Nancy said, which was indeed true.

Patricia was not wholly at fault. She dearly loved anything that was showy, and her mother, who was a very ignorant woman, was quite as fond of display.

She had never taught her little daughter to be kind or courteous, but instead had laughed at her pert ways, and thought them amusing.

Patricia hastened along the avenue as fast as her little steeple heels would permit, and when she saw Flossie and Reginald, she rushed toward them, assuring them that she never had been so glad to see any one before.

Neither Flossie nor Reginald could say that they were quite as pleased, but Patricia did not wait for them to speak.

"We've been living in N' York," she said, "but we're going to live here now, an' we've got a el'gant house right next the schoolhouse. Ma says it's one of the finest houses in Merrivale, an' I guess-"

"If it's next to the schoolhouse it's the one where our cook's brother lives," remarked Reginald. "He lives on the first floor, and the man that drives the water-cart lives just over him."

Patricia was annoyed. She had wished them to think that the entire house had been engaged for her own small family.

Her cheeks were flushed, but she made the best of the situation, and at once commenced to tell of the beauties of the flat.

"We lived in a great big hotel in N' York," she said, "but ma says this flat is handsomer than the one what we had at the hotel. Ma says I can give a party this winter, if I want to. Of course I'll invite all my N' York friends, but I shall only ask the girls here that have been nice to me, and I don't think I shall ask any boys at all."

She cast a withering glance at Reginald, who whistled softly. Then he made a naughty reply.

"P'r'aps the boys wouldn't come if you asked them," he said.

"Oh, Reginald!" said Flossie.

"Well, she said a mean thing 'bout not inviting boys, else I wouldn't have said it. I wouldn't speak like that to you or Dorothy, or any of the nice girls I know."

"There were nice boys in N' York," snapped Patricia. "I didn't see a boy while I was there who wasn't very nice."

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