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 "What a pack of mail," said Judith.  
It was Friday morning, and the three girls were the last in the dining-room. The sun was brightly in over the table and fell across the pile of letters with a prophetic , making the little red and green patches of the stamps flame into gay .
Patricia sorted them over rapidly before Elinor had reached the table.
"Here's one for you from Frad," she announced, "and one for me from Miss Jinny, and there are two for Judy from Rockham—looks like Mrs. Shelly and Hannah Ann, but I'm not sure—and the rest are only circulars. Atkins' Diablo Water and Bartine's Foreign Tours."
"I do wish they wouldn't send those circulars to us. They're so disappointing, for half the time they look like real letters," said Judith, reaching an eager hand for her own mail. "I think they ought to keep them for older people who don't care so much. Oh, it is Mrs. Shelly, Miss Pat," she broke off, as she tore open the first envelope and began eagerly to scan the sheets.
Patricia, absorbed in her own letter, merely "Uh-huh" and turned the page. Then she burst out , "Well, of all people in the world! Listen, Norn. Miss Jinny is coming to town next week to stay four or five days, and she wants to know if we can get her a place here. Isn't that jolly!"
Elinor, who had lifted her eyes perfunctorily, gave real attention.
"How splendid!" she cried. "Now we'll have a chance to give back a few of the kindnesses she showered on us last summer. Of course we can find a place, and we won't let her come except as our guest, and we'll give her the very best sort of a time we can, to show how glad we are to have her here."
"If Mrs. Hudson hasn't any other room, she can have mine," said Judith . "She never would let us make up for all those afternoons that she kept the library for us, and I'd love to be dreadfully uncomfortable if I could help make her comfortable."
Elinor laughed and patted the slender hand that pressed the table with such nervous force.
"I don't think Miss Jinny'd want any of us to suffer for her pleasure, Ju dear," she said gently. "I'm sure Mrs. Hudson has a good front room that we can get. I heard that Miss Snow had left and her room wasn't to be filled till next week; so we are just in the nick of time, you see."
"Isn't it lucky?" cried Patricia radiantly. "You'll see about it right away, won't you, Elinor? It has a splendid view of the park. I know she'll love that. You know how she hates 'bricks and .'"
Elinor nodded, picking up her letter again. "You don't seem at all keen about David," she began, when Judith broke out excitedly, holding up her letter.
"Mrs. Shelly wants me to come with Miss Jinny and stay over Sunday. Please, please let me go, Elinor, for she says she'll get out all her old stories and letters, and we'll have a splendid time!"
Patricia and Elinor swept a swift, remembering glance at the pale, eager face, and the memory of that scene in the old bookroom at Greycroft, when Judith had the vision of her future, flashed into each mind. They had had no laughter then for Judith's prophecy of her literary career, and so now they had only instant sympathy with their little sister's enthusiasm.
"Of course you shall go, Ju dear," said Elinor, warmly. "It's sweet of Mrs. Shelly to ask you, and you'll have a lovely time in that dear little old-fashioned house with her and Miss Jinny."
"Won't it seem queer to you to be anywhere but at Greycroft, though?" Patricia, her eyes wide and absent. "Although we've only had the place not quite a year, I feel as though we'd always been there, and I can't imagine how it would seem to have to live anywhere else now."
"That's because it is the first real home you've known," said Elinor. "One always feels that way about a home."
Judith cocked her blond head thoughtfully.
"Don't you think it's the house, too?" she asked critically. "Some houses seem to be so alive and to belong to some people. Greycroft just fitted Aunt Louise, and when she left, it was lonesome till it found someone who liked the same things she did, and then it opened its eyes and waked up again. I don't believe it would be itself with Mrs. Hand in it, or even with the Halls, though they are so sweet and fine-mannered."
"Wise Judy," commended Patricia. "You've discovered half the secret. But here's Elinor, like patience on a monument, with David's letter in her lily-white paw. What does he say, Norn? Is he coming to town this month as he promised? Does he like Prep as well as he did——"
"Do let her read it to us," begged Judith. "You so, Miss Pat, that no one can get a word in edgewise."
Patricia made a laughing face.
"Fire away, Scheherezade," she commanded, folding her arms in eager attention. "Unfold the tale of the letter of the long-lost twin brother of the three lovely sisters of——"
Judith, who had the sparkling stream of Patricia's nonsense, drew her hand away with a little .
"Ouch!" she cried reproachfully. "That's not fair. You bit."
"Not hard," Patricia her gravely. "Just enough to turn you loose. 'Twas not so deep as a grave nor so wide as a church door, but it did answer. Go on, Elinor, love, it's getting late."
Judith had picked up the envelope and was examining the seal.
"Isn't the frat paper lovely?" she sighed. "I do hope I shall go to college—or else have a husband who belongs to a lot of——"
"Silence!" Patricia.
Elinor, who had been quietly going on with her breakfast, laid down her fork.
"Read it for yourselves," she smiled, tossing the sheet across the table. "My time's about up. It's criticism morning in the portrait class, and I want to get a lot more done before Mr. Benton comes."
Patricia grabbed the sheet before Judith could set down her glass, and she read it aloud, with great .
"'Dear Elinor'—begins well, doesn't it, Judy? I couldn't have done much better myself—'Tom Hughes and I are coming to town next Saturday, and we are going to blow ourselves, for his birthday.' Not very enlightening as to Tom Hughes—never heard of him before; but that's neither here nor there, of course."
"Do get on, Miss Pat," urged Judith, folding her napkin. "I've got to get to school sometime this morning, you know."
"Thus , I return to the manuscript," said Patricia gravely. "Where is it? 'His birthday.' Oh, yes. 'Don't you three girls want to go to the matinee with us and have lunch at some ? Write me at once if you can go. We will be in on the eleven-fifteen at the Terminal and have to leave on the 4.30. Yours,' et cetera and so on, and all that stuff. Hallelujah, good gentleman, what a !"
"I think you ought to use better language, Miss Pat, now that you are going to be a sculptor," said Judith , and then broke into open delight. "We'll go, won't we, Elinor? We wouldn't disappoint David, would we? On his birthday, too."
"It must be Tom Hughes' birthday," said Elinor. "But whose ever it is, we are going to celebrate, since we're invited. I'll write 'immejit,' as Hannah Ann says."
"But how do you know it isn't David's?" persisted Judith, as she gathered up her letters. "We never asked David when his birthday came, did we?"
Patricia rolled her eyes in mock agony.
"Did it occur to your massive mind that David Francis Edward had a twin sister with whom you were fairly well acquainted?" she asked in smooth and oily tones. "Twins, you know, have a custom of celebrating their birthdays on the same date. Don't swoon, Infant; it is overpowering news, but you'll get over it in time."
Judith tossed her head, with a little at her own expense.
"I forgot," she said. "I never can remember that you're both the same age. You are always saying that he is so young, Miss Pat."
"So he is," replied Patricia, promptly. "No end younger than I am; but boys are that way. Who's your other letter from, Ju?"
Judith's face assumed a smooth blankness that passed unnoticed by both Elinor and Patricia, now intent on finishing their breakfast and getting off.
"Hannah Ann just says that the house is all right and Henry is as well as usual," she replied, with an uneasy flush on her clear cheek.
"What in the world did Hannah Ann write to you for?" Elinor absently. "She usually sends her weekly reports to me."
"She's all right," repeated Judith, with an glance at Patricia, who, however, was , her attention now being wholly concentrated on her breakfast and Bartine's Tours.
"I must see Mrs. Hudson," said Elinor, rising. "I'll meet you at the Academy, Squibs. Have you your candy all done up? I shan't take my life-class stuff till this afternoon."
"But you've got to turn in the head-class fee this morning, you know," reminded Patricia, coming back from Italy with a jump. "I have my junk all ready, and I'll tell you when I'm going to spring it on them, so you can have a peep at the fun."
"And I won't forget to let you know just when I'm ready to give in mine, so we both can see how they take it," said Elinor from the door.
Patricia laughed as she too rose.
"I'll see to it that you don't forget, miss," she said gayly. "Good-bye, Judy; don't be late for lunch, for it's short and sweet with us real artists. We can't potter over our food like you idle , you know."
Judith the last mouthful and flung down her napkin.
"I'll be there on time," she promised, eagerly. "Miss Hillis said I could go five minutes earlier, as it was a holiday afternoon. I'll get the rolls and oranges on my way."
"We'll meet you at the door on Charter Street," Elinor reminded her, as she kissed her. "Be sure to be there on time."
"I'll remember," laughed Judith, her of the delights of lunching at the Academy with grown-up artists shining in her eyes. "I'm crazy over it. I'm going to write all about it in my diary."
"Then we shall be handed down to fame!" cried Patricia, giving Judith a very hard squeeze and pinching her thin cheeks into color. "Look us over well, Judy-pudy, and see how much you can make of your two illustrious sisters; for I feel sure that I, for one, will never have a chance to be ' up' again."
"Oh, go along, Miss Pat! You'll be late," said Judith, away, flushed and happy.
Patricia watched, flying up the stairs two steps at a time, and she turned to Elinor, with her hand on the door.
"Ju's a clever young monkey, in spite of her grannified airs," she said, warmly. "If we can only get some of the out of her by the time she's old enough to take notice, her dream of being a great writer may come half-way true."
"If she's going to be a writer, she'll drop her pose soon enough," predicted Elinor easily. "She'll be too much interested in other people and things to remember herself too ."
"That's so," admitted Patricia readily. "You always hit the nail on the head, old lady. Now I must run. See you later," and closing the door behind her, she ran down the steps and hurried off through the morning air, with her parcel tight under her arm and a light on her mobile face.
"I do hope they like it and won't be too hard on me," she thought, as she hastened on. "It took a lot of trouble to make all the little figures, but if they'll only let me off from speechifying, I'll feel it was worth it."
There was no one in the modeling room but Naskowski, the silent, heavy-shouldered Slav who early and late making up for his lost youth. Him Patricia held to be as as any of the other furnishings of the room, and she readily took him into her plan.
"Let's wheel all the stands into a circle around the model stand," she said briskly. "You see, I want them all to get them at once if I can work it. I'll put the figures in under the cloths, beside each head, so they won't show."
Naskowski slowly shook his head.
"They will approach at different times—not? It will be more better to place them during the first rest."
"But how can I?" insisted Patricia. "They don't all go out at the rests, you know."
He held up his finger.
"Listen," he said, impressively. "I make a figure that they all wish to see, but I have not shown him. Well, when I show him, at the rest, all, all go out to the clay room to see."
Patricia clapped her hands.
"And I stay in and slip the figures on the stands! How nice! It's awfully good of you." She broke off with a sudden clouding of her gayety. "But perhaps you don't really want them to see your figure? I couldn't have you——"
He interrupted her with an upheld hand.
"I was to exhibit it today, and I am pleased to be serviceable to a newcomer at once," he said gravely.
Patricia was only too glad to give in. "That makes it perfectly simple, then," she said gratefully. "I'm tremendously obliged to you for me out."
"It iss nothing," said Naskowski as he went back to the clay room, but Patricia could see that he was pleased at the of her .
"He's an awfully good sort, if he is queer and stubby," she said, pausing to hide her parcel beneath her stand until the moment.
The first half hour seemed longer than any that Patricia had spent in the modeling room. The students straggled in at various times, and when the gong rang there were still several of the usual number who had not appeared. Naskowski, as the class broke up for the brief , found chance to whisper a suggestion that she it till the next rest, and Patricia eagerly agreed.
"I'll go look up my sister and tell her," she said. "We can her into the clay room, too, to see your work, can't we? I know she'd be crazy to get a glimpse of it, and then she might get a snap-shot at the fun in here."
Naskowski nodded a pleased , and Patricia sped away.
She found Elinor and excited beyond her .
"Isn't it ? Mr. Benton's come already, and I won't have a chance with my candy before criticism, as I hoped. I don't know what to do about it. I did so want to get it off my mind before I got my criticism, for I'm scared stiff about both of them."
"Why, you goose! Don't you see that it makes it easy for you!" cried Patricia, her eyes dancing. "You can simply put your nice big box of candy on the model stand during a rest, and they won't dare ask you to do any with him in the room."
Elinor laughed helplessly. "I don't know what is the matter with my brain," she said in relieved contempt of her own confusion of mind. "Of course, it is ever so much easier. What a stupid I am not to see it for myself!"
Patricia squeezed her hand surreptitiously. "You're so far up in the clouds these days that the commonplace side of life doesn't exist. You'll be all right after you get used to it," she . "You're going to be pretty free to inhabit cloudland for this winter, and I'm willing to bet any reasonable amount that Hannah Ann will see to it that the housekeeping doesn't distract you next summer. She's perfectly crazy over your painting, since it's like Aunt Louise. And there won't be any boarders or any other money-making schemes this year to harrow our souls."
"It seems too good—after all those years at the boarding schools, and the scrimmage we had when the mortgage was foreclosed—to feel secure at last," said Elinor gratefully. "Everything seems to be heaping up to make us happy."
"Time's up!" cried Patricia, jumping up. "Be on hand at the next rest, angel child. Come in the clay room 'immejit' the gong rings," and she hurried off, humming a gay little song.
The gay little song persisted, much to the dissatisfaction of the severe monitor, Miss Green, whose fat and took on a deeper shade of gloom at every hushed note that trembled in Patricia's rounded throat.
After casting a martyr-like glance of reproach at her, as she worked on, all unconscious of the mental agony she was , Miss Green cleared her throat slushily, and in the most tone possible addressed Patricia.
"Miss Kendall will not disturb the class, I am sure, if she realizes that her humming is a source of annoyance," she said, her own really musical voice in .
Patricia started and looked up with a sunny smile.
"Was I humming?" she asked . "I didn't know I was making any noise at all. I'm awfully sorry to have gotten on your nerves. I was thinking about some exercises, and I must have thought out loud."
Miss Green, much mollified by Patricia's ready acknowledgment, beamed over her round spectacles.
"I am sure Miss Kendall has the best intentions possible to any agreeable young lady," she said in a hushed though ceremonious manner.
She paused so long, regarding Patricia with her head on one side, that Patricia was afraid she was going to orate further, and visions of a flitted uneasily through her nimble mind. Miss Green, however, said nothing further, taking up her tools and going on with her work with a and benignant smile in her little pink mouth.
Griffin, who was just behind her, solemnly at Patricia and then shook her head sadly, as if to indicate that the monitor was in her opinion hopelessly .
"Doesn't Greeny make you a bit weary?" she asked, as she slipped over beside Patricia as the gong was about to sound. "She's so ornate."
"Oh, I don't know," replied Patricia easily. "She's kind, anyway. I think if she were thin, people wouldn't find her half bad. Fat people never seem quite as human as the rest of us."
"Stuff!" said Griffin energetically. "She'd be simply awful if she were thin. Aren't you coming in to see Naskowski's lion-tamer? He's showing it in the clay room."
"I'll be along later. I've got something to attend to first," promised Patricia, inwardly quaking lest the other should offer to wait for her; but she went off with the crowd that was hurrying into the clay room, and Patricia was free to arrange her surprise.
Diving under her stand, she fished out the bundle and opened it with trembling fingers.
"If I can only get them all placed before they come back," she said to herself, as she unwrapped each little bulky parcel. "I hope Naskowski gives me time."

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