Mancy and Pansy Potts were already there, and, to a casual observer, it looked as if there was nothing more to do except to admit the guests.
Patty had set the table the day before, and, to the awestruck admiration of Pansy Potts, had arranged the beautiful new glass and china with most satisfactory effects. Pansy had watched the proceedings with intelligent scrutiny and, when it was finished, had told Patty that the next time she would be able to do it herself.
“You’ll have a chance to try,” Patty had answered, “for in the evening we’ll have supper, and you may set the table all by yourself; and I’ll come out and look it over to make sure it’s all right.”
But, as Patty had said, there was yet much to be done on Thursday morning, even though there were eight hands to make the work light.
Boxes of flowers had arrived from the florist’s, and these had to be arranged in the various rooms; also, a few potted plants in full bloom had come for the conservatory, and these so delighted the soul of Pansy Potts that Patty feared the girl would spend the whole day nursing them.
“Come, Pansy,” she called; “let them grow by themselves for a while; I want your help in the kitchen.”
“But, oh, Miss Patty, they’re daisies! Real white daisies, with yellow centres!”
“Well, they’ll still be daisies to-morrow, and you’ll have more time to admire them then.”
Patty’s ambitions in the culinary line ran to the fanciful and elaborate confections which were pictured in the cook-books and in the household periodicals; especially did she incline toward marvellous desserts which called for spun sugar, and syllabubs, and rare sweetmeats, and patent freezing processes.
For her New Year’s dinner party she had decided to try the most complicated recipe of all, and, moreover, intended to surprise everybody with it.
Warning her father to keep out of the kitchen on pain of excommunication, she rolled up her sleeves and tied on a white apron; and with her open book on the table before her, began her proceedings.
Pansy Potts was set to whipping cream with a new-fangled syllabub-churn, and Mancy was requested to blanch some almonds and pound them to a paste in a very new and very large mortar.
Though the good-natured Mancy was more than willing to help her young mistress through what threatened to be somewhat troubled waters, yet she had the more substantial portions of the dinner to prepare, and there was none too much time.
As Patty went on with her work, difficulties of all sorts presented themselves. The cream wouldn’t whip, but remained exasperatingly fluid; the sugar refused to “spin a thread,” and obstinately crystallised itself into a hard crust; the almonds persisted in becoming a lumpy mass, instead of a smooth paste; and the gelatine, as Patty despairingly remarked, “acted like all possessed!”
But, having attempted the thing, she was bound to carry it through, though it was with some misgivings that she finally poured a queer and sticky-looking substance into the patent freezer.