Read CHAPTER V - SHOPPING of Patty at Home, free online book, by Carolyn Wells, on

As Boxley Hall was a sort of experiment, Mr. Fairfield concluded to rent the place for a year, with the privilege of buying.

By this time Patty was sure that she wished to remain in Vernondale all her life; but her father said that women, even very young ones, were fickle in their tastes, and he thought it wiser to be on the safe side.

“And it doesn’t matter,” as Patty said to Marian; “for, when the year is up, papa will just buy the house, and then it will be all right.”

Having found a home, the next thing was to furnish it; and about this Mr. Fairfield was very decided and methodical.

“To-morrow,” he said, as they were talking it over at the Elliotts’ one evening, “to-morrow I shall take Patty to New York to select the most important pieces of furniture.  We shall go alone, because it is a very special occasion, and we can’t allow ourselves to be hampered by outside advices.  Another day we shall go to buy prosaic things like tablecloths and carpet-sweepers; and then, as we know little about such things, we shall be glad to take with us some experienced advisers.”

And so the next day Patty and her father started for the city to buy furniture for Boxley Hall.

“You see, Patty,” said her father after they were seated in the train, “there is a certain proportion to be observed in furnishing a house, about which, I imagine, you know very little.”

“Very little, indeed,” returned Patty; “but, then, how should I know such things when I’ve never furnished a house?”

“I understand that,” said Mr. Fairfield; “and so, with my advantages of age and experience, and your own natural good taste, I think we shall accomplish this thing successfully.  Now, first, as to what we have on hand.”

“Why, we haven’t anything on hand,” said Patty; “at least, I have a few pictures and books, and the afghan grandma’s knitting for me; but that’s all.”

“You reckon without your host,” said her father, smiling.  “I possess some few objects of value, and during the past year I have added to my collection in anticipation of the time when we should have our own home.”

“Oh, papa!” cried Patty; “have you a whole lot of new furniture that I don’t know about?”

“Yes,” said Mr. Fairfield; “except, that, instead of being new, it is mostly old.  I had opportunities in the South to pick up bits of fine old mahogany, and I have a number of really good pieces that will help to make Boxley Hall attractive.”

“What are they, papa?  Tell me all about them.  I can’t wait another minute!”

“To begin with, child, I have several heirlooms; the old sideboard that was your grandfather Fairfield’s, and several old bureaus and tables that came from the Fairfield estate.  Then I have, also, two or three beautiful book-cases, and an old desk for our library; and to-day we will hunt up some sort of a big roomy table that will do to go with them.”

“Let’s make the library the nicest room in the house, papa.”

“It will make itself that, if you give it half a chance, though we’ll do all we can to help.  But I’m so prosaic I would like to have special attention paid to the comforts of the dining-room; and as to your own bedroom, Patty, I want you to see to it that it fulfills exactly your ideal of what a girl’s room ought to be.”

“Oh, I know just how I want that; almost exactly like my room at Aunt Alice’s, but with a few more of the sort of things I had in my room at Aunt Isabel’s.  I do like pretty things, papa.”

“That’s right, my child, I’m glad you do; and I think your idea of pretty things is not merely a taste for highfalutin gimcracks.”

“No, I don’t think it is,” said Patty slowly; “but, all the same, you’d better keep pretty close to me when I pick out the traps for my room.  Do you know, papa, I think Aunt Isabel wants to help us furnish our house.  She wrote that she would meet us in New York some time.”

“That’s kind of her,” said Mr. Fairfield; “but, do you know, it just seems to me that we’ll be able to manage it by ourselves.  Our house is not of the era of Queen Isabella, but of the Princess Patricia.”

“That sounds like Aunt Isabel.  They always called me Patricia there.  Don’t you think, papa, now that I’m getting so grown up, I ought to be called Patricia?  Patty is such a baby name.”

“Patty is good enough for me,” said Mr. Fairfield.  “If you want to be called Patricia, you must get somebody else to do it.  I dare say you could hire somebody for a small sum per week to call you Patricia for a given number of times every day.”

“Now, you’re making fun of me, papa; but I do want to grow up dignified, and not be a silly schoolgirl all my life.”

“Take care of your common sense, and your dignity will take care of itself.”

After they crossed the ferry, and reached the New York side, Mr. Fairfield took a cab, and they made a round of the various shops, buying such beautiful things that Patty grew fairly ecstatic with delight.

“I do think you’re wonderful, papa,” she exclaimed, after they had selected the dining-room furnishings.  “You know exactly what you want, and when you describe it, it seems to be the only possible thing that anybody could want for that particular place.”

“That is a result of decision of character, my child.  It is a Fairfield trait, and I hope you possess it; though I cannot say I have seen any marked development of it, as yet.  But you must have noticed it in your Aunt Alice.”

“Yes, I have,” said Patty; “she is so decided that, with all her sweetness, I have sometimes been tempted to call her stubborn.”

“Stubbornness and decision of character are very closely allied; but now, we’re going to select the furniture for your own bedroom, and if you have any decision of character, you will have ample opportunity to exercise it.”

“Oh, I’ll have plenty of decision of character when it comes to that,” said Patty; “you will find me a true Fairfield.”

Aided by her father’s judgment and advice, Patty selected the furnishings for her own room.  She had chosen green as the predominant colour, and the couch and easy-chairs were upholstered in a lovely design of green and white.  The rug was green and white, and for the brass bedstead with its white fittings, a down comfortable with a pale green cover was found.  The dainty dressing-table was of bird’s-eye maple; and for this Mr. Fairfield ordered a bewildering array of fittings, all in ivory, with Patty’s monogram on them.

“And I want a little book-case, papa,” she said; “a little one, you know, just for my favouritest books; for, of course, the most of my books will be down in the library.”

So a dear little book-case was bought, also of bird’s-eye maple, and a pretty little work-table, with a low chair to match.

“That’s very nice,” said Patty, with an air of satisfaction, “for, though I hate to sew, yet sometimes it must be done; and with that little work-table, I think I could sew even in an Indian wigwam!”

Patty hadn’t much to say regarding the furniture of her father’s bedroom, for Mr. Fairfield attended to that himself, and selected the things with such rapidity and certainty that it was all done almost before Patty knew it.

“Now,” said Mr. Fairfield, “there are two guest-chambers to be furnished; the one you call Marian’s room, and the other for the general stranger within our gates.”

Marian’s room was done up in blue, as she had requested, and the other guest-room was furnished in yellow.

It was great fun to pick out the furniture, rugs, and curtains for these rooms; and Patty tried very hard to select such things as her father would approve of, for she dearly loved to have him commend her taste and judgment.

As they were sitting at luncheon, Mr. Fairfield said:  “This afternoon, I think, we will devote to pictures.  I’m not sure we will buy any, but we will look at them, and I will learn what is your taste in art, and you will leant what is mine.”

“I haven’t any,” said Patty cheerfully.  “I don’t know anything about art and never did.”

“You still have some time, I hope, in which to learn.”

“I’ve time enough, but I don’t believe I could learn.  The only pictures I like are pretty ones.”

“You are hopeless, and that’s a fact,” said Mr. Fairfield.  “Of all discouraging people, the worst are those who like pretty pictures!”

“But I’m sure I can learn,” said Patty, “if you will teach me.”

“You are more flattering than convincing,” said Mr. Fairfield, “but I will try.”

And so after luncheon they visited several picture shops, and Mr. Fairfield imported to his daughter what was at least a foundation for an education in art.

Back in Vernondale, Patty confided to Marian that she had had a perfectly lovely time all the morning, but the afternoon wasn’t so much fun.  “In fact,” she said, “it was very much like that little book we had to study in school called ‘How to Judge a Picture.’”

The following Saturday another shopping tour was undertaken.  This time Aunt Alice and Marian accompanied the Fairfields, and there was more fun and less responsibility for Patty.

Her father insisted upon her undivided attention while Mrs. Elliott selected table-linen, bed-linen, towels, and other household fittings; but, as these things were chosen with Fairfield promptness and decision, Patty had nothing to do but admire and acquiesce.

“And now,” she remarked, after they had chosen two sets of china and a quantity of glass for the dining-room; “now, if you please, we will buy me some tea-things to entertain the Tea Club.”

“We will, indeed,” said Mr. Fairfield, and both he and Aunt Alice entered into the selection of the tea-table fittings with as much zest as they had shown in the other china.

Dainty Dresden cups were found, lovely plates, and a tea-pot, and cracker-jar, which made Marian and Patty fairly shriek with delight.

A three-storied wicker tea-table was found, to hold these treasures, and Mr. Fairfield added the most fascinating little silver tea-caddy and tea-ball and strainer.

“Oh,” exclaimed Marian, made quite breathless by the glory of it all, “the Tea Club will never want to meet anywhere except at your house, Patty.”

“They’ll have to,” said Patty.  “I don’t propose to have them every time.”

“Well, you’ll have to have them every other time, anyway,” said Marian.

After the fun of picking out the tea-things, it was hard to come down to the plainer claims of the kitchen, but Aunt Alice grew so interested in the selection of granite saucepans and patent coffee-mills that Patty, too, became enthusiastic.

“And we must get a rolling-pin,” she cried, “for I shall make pumpkin pies every day.  Oh, and I want a farina-kettle and a colander, and a bain-marie, and a larding-needle, and a syllabub-churn.”

“Why, Patty, child!” exclaimed her father; “what are all those things for?  Are you going to have a French chef?”

“No, papa, but I expect to do a great deal of fancy cooking myself.”

“Oh, you do!  Well, then, buy all the contraptions that are necessary, but don’t omit the plain gridirons and frying-pans.”

Then Aunt Alice and Patty put their heads together in a most sensible fashion, and ordered a kitchen outfit that would have delighted the heart of any well-organised housekeeper.  Not only kitchen utensils, but laundry fittings, and household furnishings generally; including patent labour-saving devices, and newly invented contrivances which were supposed to be of great aid to any housewife.

“If I can only live up to it all,” sighed Patty, as she looked at the enormous collection of iron, tin, wood, and granite.

“Or down to it,” said Marian.