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Patty’s Summer Days, 2/2

September 4, 2007

I have begun a sort of reference page for the Patty Fairfield series. Right now it includes a list of the books and links to available etexts, as well as to the descriptions I’ve written up here. Eventually, I will review all of them (okay, I don’t actually review books, but I don’t know what else to call it). There will also be illustrations. Okay. On with the story.

Rescue of Patty by Mr. Hepworth #2: During Patty’s play, Mr. Hepworth notices that she looks like she’s literally about to topple over from exhaustion. He notices her doctor, Dr. Martin, sitting near him, and tells him that he’s worried. Mr. Hepworth suggests that Dr. Martin goes backstage so that he can start taking care of Patty immediately after the play. Dr. Martin agrees, and asks Mr. Hepworth, who has been helping out with the scenery, to lead the way. They watch the rest of the play from backstage. Just as the audience is applauding the final scene, Mr. Hepworth sees that Patty is about to faint, rings the bell for the curtain to descend, and catches her as she falls(!!!).

Dr. Martin determines that Patty is in no danger of brain fever(!), but that she needs perfect rest. Several weeks later, when her recovery is proceeding well, he tells her that now is the time for recreation. In short, he prescribes a vacation. Doctors don’t really do that anymore, do they? Patty rejects everyone’s suggestions, not knowing quite what she wants, until Elise comes by with a proposal: she and her family are taking a trip in their motor car and would like Patty to come with. They plan to visit their friends the Warners in Connecticut, and perhaps take further trips from there. Patty doesn’t know the Warners, but is assured that they’ll love her.

The Farringtons’ car is called “The Fact” because it is a stubborn thing. Most of the time there are no problems with it — this, the Farringtons inform Patty, is called “running sweetly”, to which she responds, teasingly, “The way this car goes is just too sweet for anything!” — but occasionally it will just refuse to move. In other words, Wells has an excuse to make the party stop for repairs three times in two days.

The stops put them behind schedule, so while they originally intended to reach Pine Branches in time for dinner, now they can’t get there before ten. So they pack their picnic basket full and set out again. Mrs. Farrington isn’t feeling all that well, so Patty switches seats with Mr. Farrington in order to allow him to sit with his wife. That puts her up front with Roger Farrington, who is driving. Then three things happen: 1. It gets dark. 2. A rainstorm begins. 3. Roger gets lost.

He’s not very lost. He knows where he is; he just took the wrong road and has added an extra forty miles onto their trip. And when you think what kind of a delay that would cause today, you’ll realize what problem it is for Patty and the Farringtons in 1906. Mrs. Farrington is getting more and more nervous, and kind of disruptive, but Patty, as Roger tells his father later, is a brick, and, by distracting Mrs. Farrington at key moments, helps ensure that they don’t get hit by a train. No, really, I’m serious. But although the trip strains everyone’s nerves, they finally arrive safe and sound at Pine Branches at two in the morning. They wake their hosts and have a jolly midnight feast. I feel that I should point out that I would not have used the word ‘jolly’ if this book didn’t use it so much. I’ve been fooled into thinking that it’s acceptable vocabulary.

Patty’s stay at Pine Branches is literally what the doctor ordered — lots of fun, and no work masquerading as fun. They dress up Bertha Warner’s bear cub Abiram, attend an old-fashioned quilting bee at the antique-filled house of one of the Warners’ neighbors, and have a Christmas party on July 4th. Eventually Patty joins Mr. Fairfield and Nan on Long Island, where they’ve rented a house near the Barlows’, and there is more fun, including an unintentional baby kidnapping — it suddenly occurs to me that Carolyn Wells is rather fond of writing about baby-kidnapping — and a fair for charity where each booth represents a different nation. I just want to add one more thing:

Rescue of Patty by Mr. Hepworth #3: It’s the morning of the day the fair starts, and Patty has recruited Bertha Warner, who is visiting, to help her row to a small nearby island to gather goldenrod for the Gypsy booth. They go, they gather the goldenrod, and then they turn to go home only to find that their boat has drifted away. There’s no point in shouting; all they can really do is tie their handkerchiefs to trees in the hope that someone will notice. Bertha is in despair, but Patty has a sneaking suspicion that even if no one else notices she’s missing, Mr. Hepworth will.

Finally they see a boat coming towards them.

“It’s Mr. Hepworth,” cried Patty, though the knowledge seemed to come to her intuitively even before she recognized the man who held the stroke oar.

“And Winthrop is rowing, too,” said Bertha, recognising her brother, “and I think that’s Kenneth Harper, steering.”

By this time the boat was near enough to prove that these surmises were correct.

The boat arrives.

“Our boat drifted away,” said Bertha, “and we couldn’t catch it, and we thought we’d have to stay here all night.”

“I didn’t think we would,” said Patty. “I felt sure somebody would come after us.”

“I don’t know why you thought so,” said Winthrop, “for nobody knew where you were.”

“I know that,” said Patty, smiling, “and yet I can’t tell you why, but I just felt sure that somebody would come in a boat, and carry us safely home.”

“Whom did you expect?” asked Kenneth, “me?”

Patty looked at Kenneth, and then at Mr. Hepworth, and then dropping her eyes demurely, she said “I didn’t know who would come, only I just knew somebody would.”

“Well, somebody did,” said Kenneth, as he stowed the great bunches of goldenrod on the bow of the boat.

“Yes, somebody did,” said Patty, softly, flashing a tiny smile at Mr. Hepworth, who said nothing, but he smiled a little, too, as he bent to his oars.

And then it turns out that it was Mr. Hepworth who figured out where Patty and Bertha must be, and saw heir handkerchiefs through a spyglass, and went and got a boat and everything. Also, he is the subject of the very last sentence in the book. Is anyone not convinced that, at least at this point in the series, Mr. Hepworth is the love interest? I’m only revealing that she doesn’t end up with him so that other people don’t get their hopes up like I did.

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