She had no Mother to guide her, and it looked as if the Family was about to have a Bermuda wished on to it.
No wonder Father was stepping sideways.
He would come home in the evening and find the Mush perched on a Throne in the Spot Light, shooting an azure-blue Line of desiccated Drool, with Bernice sitting out in front and Encoring.
Then he would retire to the back part of the House to bark at the Butler and act as if he had been eating Red Meat.
He knew that if he elbowed in and tried to break up the Clinch, it would mean a Rope Ladder, a piece in the Papers, and a final Reconciliation, with Parent playing the usual role of Goat.
He was resolved not to put in the remainder of his Days being panhandled by a Souffle who wore Dancing Pumps in the Daytime. The problem was to get shut of the Rodent without resorting to any Rough Stuff.
Father never had heard tell of the Perils of Propinquity, and he thought Psychology had something to do with Fish.
Just the same, he remembered about a Quail a day for 30 days, and he knew that the most agreeable Perfumery would not smell right if applied with a Garden Hose.
Likewise, he suspected that many a Quarter-House would blow, if put into a two-mile Handicap.
So he blocked out a Program which proved that Solomon had nothing on him.
Instead of grilling young Kenneth and holding him up to Contumely and forbidding him the use of Cozy Corner, he started in to boost the Love Match.
Kenneth all but moved in his Trunk.
Father had a chance to weigh him, down to the last Ounce, and study the simple Mechanism of his transparent Personality.
Father classified the would-be Child-in-Law as a Gobbie, which means a Home-Wrecker who is still learning his Trade.
The Candidate became a regular Boarder.
Kenneth would sit right up close to old Cash-in-Hand, who would egg him on to tell Dialect Stories and, after that, show how to make a Salad.
The Stories were some that Marshall Wilder stopped using in 1882 and since then have been outlawed on the Kerosene Circuit.
After Bernice had heard these Almanac Wheezes 26 or 28 times, she would sit still and look at the Center-Piece while Lover was performing.
The Gags didn’t sound as killing as they had at first, and sometimes she wished the Dear Boy would chop on them.
No chance. Father had him kidded into believing that all the old ham-fat Riddles were simply Immense.
As for that Salad Specialty, the poor Gink who calls loudly for English Mustard and thinks he is a Genius because he can rub a Bowl with a sprig of Garlic, may have his brief Hour of Triumph, but no man ever really got anywhere by doping Salad, when you stop to add it all up.
Father would put the two young people together in the back of the Touring Car and ride them around for Hours at a time.
Anybody who has cut in on one of those animated Automobile Conversations, while the salaried Maniac from France is hitting up 42 miles an Hour, will tell you that the hind end of a Motor Vehicle is no good Trysting Place for an Engaged Couple.
Bernice would get home after one of these wild swoops into the realm of the Death Angel, and totter to her room and lie down, and murmur: “I wonder what ailed Kenneth to-day. He seemed Preoccupied.”
That Same Evening, just when she needed Smelling Salts and Absolute Quiet, her enthusiastic Father would have Fiance up to Dinner to pull the same stale Repertoire and splash around in the Oil and Vinegar.
If any Guests were present, then Father would play Introducer and tell them beforehand how good Kenneth was.
When given his Cue, the Lad would swell up and spring a hot One about the Swede and the Irishman, while Bernice would fuss with the Salt and wonder dimly if the Future had aught in store for her except Dialect Stuff.