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Unexpected Pomp At The Perkins’s
by [?]

“My dear,” said Thaddeus, one night, as he and Mrs. Perkins entered the library after dinner, “that was a very good dinner to-night. Don’t you think so?”

“All except the salmon,” said Bessie, with a smile.

“Salmon?” echoed Thaddeus. “Salmon? I did not see any salmon.”

“No,” said Bessie, “that was just the trouble. It didn’t come up, although it was in the house before dinner, I’m certain. I saw it arrive.”

“Ellen couldn’t have known you intended it for dinner,” said Thaddeus.

“Yes, she knew it was for dinner,” returned Bessie, “but she made a mistake as to whose dinner it was for. She supposed it was bought for the kitchen-table, and when I went down-stairs to inquire about it a few minutes ago it was fulfilling its assumed mission nobly. There wasn’t much left but the tail and one fin.”

“Well!” ejaculated Thaddeus, “I call that a pretty cool proceeding. Did you give her a talking to?”

“No,” Bessie replied, shortly; “I despise a domestic fuss, so I pretended I’d gone down to talk about breakfast. We’ll have breakfast an hour or two earlier to-morrow, dear.”

“What’s that for?” queried Thaddeus, his eyes open wide with astonishment. “You are not going shopping, are you?”

“No, Teddy, I’m not; but when I got downstairs and realized that Ellen had made the natural mistake of supposing the fish was for the down-stairs dinner, this being Friday, I had to think of something to say, and nothing would come except that we wanted breakfast at seven instead of at eight. It doesn’t do to have servants suspect you of spying upon them, nor is it wise ever to appear flustered–so mamma says–in their presence. I avoided both by making Ellen believe I’d come down to order an early breakfast.”

“You are a great Bessie,” said Thaddeus, with a laugh. “I admire you more than ever, my dear, and to prove it I’d get up to breakfast if you’d ordered it at 1 A.M.”

“You’d be more likely to stay up to it,” said Bessie, “and then go to bed after it.”

“There’s your Napoleonic mind again,” said Thaddeus. “I should never have thought of that way out of it. But, Bess,” he continued, “when I was praising to-night’s dinner I had a special object in view. I think Ellen cooks well enough now to warrant us in giving a dinner, don’t you?”

“Well, it all depends on what we have for dinner,” said Bessie. “Ellen’s biscuits are atrocious, I think, and you know how lumpy the oatmeal always is.”

“Suppose we try giving a dinner with the oatmeal and biscuit courses left out?” suggested Thaddeus, with a grin.

Bessie’s eyes twinkled. “You make very bright after-dinner speeches, Teddy,” she said. “I don’t see why we can’t have a dinner with nothing but pretty china, your sparkling conversation, and a few flowers strewn about. It would be particularly satisfactory to me.”

“They’re not all angels like you, my dear,” Thaddeus returned. “There’s Bradley, for instance. He’d die of starvation before we got to the second course in a dinner of that kind, and if there is any one thing that can cast a gloom over a dinner, it is to have one of the guests die of starvation right in the middle of it.”

“Mr. Bradley would never do so ungentlemanly a thing,” said Bessie, laughing heartily. “He is too considerate a man for that; he’d starve in silence and without ostentation.”

“Why this sudden access of confidence in Bradley?” queried Thaddeus. “I thought you didn’t like him?”

“Neither I did, until that Sunday he spent with us,” Bessie answered. “I’ve admired him intensely ever since. Don’t you remember, we had lemon pie for dinner–one I made myself?”

“Yes, I remember,” said Thaddeus; “but I fail to see the connection between lemon pie and Bradley. Bradley is not sour or crusty.”