Mr. Van Kamp grinned understandingly, and agreed to the infamous ruse.
“By the way,” continued Mr. Ellsworth, with a still happier thought, “you must allow Mrs. Ellsworth to furnish the dinner for Mrs. Van Kamp’s shiver party.”
“Dinner!” gasped Mr. Van Kamp. “By all means!”
Both men felt an anxious yawning in the region of the appetite, and a yearning moisture wetted their tongues. They looked at the slumbering Uncle Billy and decided to see Mrs. Tutt themselves about a good, hot dinner for six.
“Law me!” exclaimed Aunt Margaret when they appeared at the kitchen door. “I swan I thought you folks ’u’d never come to yore senses. Here I’ve had a big pot o’ stewed chicken ready on the stove fer two mortal hours. I kin give ye that, an’ smashed taters an’ chicken gravy, an’ dried corn, an’ hot corn-pone, an’ currant jell, an’ strawberry preserves, an’ my own cannin’ o’ peaches, an’ pumpkin-pie an’ coffee. Will that do ye?” Would it do! Would it do!!
As Aunt Margaret talked, the kitchen door swung wide, and the two men were stricken speechless with astonishment. There, across from each other at the kitchen table, sat the utterly selfish and traitorous younger members of the rival houses of Ellsworth and Van Kamp, deep in the joys of chicken, and mashed potatoes, and gravy, and hot corn-pone, and all the other “fixings,” laughing and chatting gaily like chums of years’ standing. They had seemingly just come to an agreement about something or other, for Evelyn, waving the shorter end of a broken wishbone, was vivaciously saying to Ralph:
“A bargain’s a bargain, and I always stick to one I make.”
By Grace MacGowan Cooke (1863- )
[From Harper’s Magazine, August, 1906. Copyright, 1906, by Harper & Brothers. Republished by the author’s permission.]
A boy in an unnaturally clean, country-laundered collar walked down a long white road. He scuffed the dust up wantonly, for he wished to veil the all-too-brilliant polish of his cowhide shoes. Also the memory of the whiteness and slipperiness of his collar oppressed him. He was fain to look like one accustomed to social diversions, a man hurried from hall to hall of pleasure, without time between to change collar or polish boot. He stooped and rubbed a crumb of earth on his overfresh neck-linen.
This did not long sustain his drooping spirit. He was mentally adrift upon the Hints and Helps to Young Men in Business and Social Relations, which had suggested to him his present enterprise, when the appearance of a second youth, taller and broader than himself, with a shock of light curling hair and a crop of freckles that advertised a rich soil threw him a lifeline. He put his thumbs to his lips and whistled in a peculiarly ear-splitting way. The two boys had sat on the same bench at Sunday-school not three hours before; yet what a change had come over the world for one of them since then!