“I may as well own up,” she said bravely, as the dessert was placed in front of her. “My ambition was greater than my ability.”
“Don’t say another word,” said Aunt Alice. “I understand; those spun-sugar things are monuments of total depravity.”
Patty gave her aunt a grateful glance, and said, “They certainly are, Aunt Alice; and I’ll never attempt one again until I’ve made myself perfect by long practice.”
“Good for you, my Irish Pat,” said Frank; “but, do you know, I like them better this way. There’s an attraction about that general conglomeration that appeals to me more strongly than those over-neat concoctions that look as if they had sat in a caterer’s window for weeks.”
But, notwithstanding Frank’s complimentary impulses, the dessert proved uneatable, and had to be replaced with crackers and cheese and fruit and bonbons.
It was quite late in the evening before the Elliotts left Boxley Hall; but after they had gone, Patty and her father still lingered in the library for a bit of cosey chat.
“Isn’t it lovely,” said Patty, with a little sigh of extreme content, “to sit down in our own library, and talk over our own party? And, by the way, papa, how do you like our library; is it all your fancy painted it?”
“Yes,” said Mr. Fairfield, looking around critically, “the library is all right; but, of course, as yet it is young and inexperienced. It remains for us to train it up in the way it should go; and I feel sure, under our ministrations and loving care, it will grow better as it grows older.”
“We’ve certainly got good material to work on,” said Patty, giving a satisfied glance around the pretty room. “And now, Mr. Man, tell me what you think of our first effort at hospitality? How did the dinner party go off today?”
“It went off with flying colours, and you certainly deserve a great deal of credit for your very successful first appearance as a hostess. Of course, if one were disposed to be critical—”
“One would say that one’s elaborate dessert—”
“Was a very successful imitation of a complete failure,” interrupted Mr. Fairfield, laughing. “And this is where I shall take an opportunity to point a moral. It is not good proportion to undertake a difficult and complicated recipe for the first time, when you are expecting guests.”
“No, I know it,” said Patty; “and yet, papa, you wouldn’t expect me to have that gorgeous French mess for dinner when we’re all alone, would you? And so, when could we have it?”
“Your implication does seem to bar the beautiful confection from our table entirely; and yet, do you know, it wouldn’t alarm me a bit to have that dessert attack us some night when you and I are at dinner quite alone and unprotected.”
“All right, papa, we’ll have it, and I’m sure, after another trial, I can make it just as it should be made.”