“You are a Briton!” cried Dan, clapping her on the back resoundingly.
“I ain’t no such thing,” said Fanny, who usually thought it safest to contradict everything they said to her. “I’m a Demshur girl, born and bred, and my father and mother was the same before me. I ain’t none of your Britons nor Cornish pasties neither, nor nothing like ’em.”
“No, you are a thoroughbred Devonshire dumpling, we know,” said Dan soothingly, “and not so bad considering, and you can make a pasty like a native, though you aren’t one, and never will be. It is a pity too, for Jabez only likes—”
“I don’t care nothing about Jabez, nor what he likes, nor what he doesn’t,” cried Fanny, bending down over her oven to hide a conscious blush which would spread over her round cheeks. “There’s good and bad of every sort, and I don’t despise none. I only pities ’em if they ain’t Demshur.”
“That is awfully good of you,” said Dan solemnly. “We can cheer up again after that. Fanny,” more eagerly, “do tell us what you are going to give us to eat.”
But Fanny could not be coaxed into that. “I haven’t said yet as I’m going to give ’ee anything,” she said sharply; but there was a twinkle in her eye, and matters were soon settled satisfactorily. There was to be a substantial “plate tea” in the kitchen at half-past five, which would allow plenty of time for the laying of the cloth and other preparations after Mrs. Pike and Anna had departed. Then they were to have games and forfeits, and tell ghost stories, and anything else that came into their minds to do, and a nice supper was to wind up the evening, and by ten o’clock all signs of their feast were to be tidied away, and the children were to go as quietly to bed as though Aunt Pike stood at their doors.
AN EXCITING NIGHT.
Had Aunt Pike had even the faintest suspicion of what was to happen during her absence he would have given up her party then and there and have remained at home, even though Anna was to receive a prize and to recite.
But, fortunately for her peace of mind, she suspected nothing, and they both went off quite cheerful and excited through the cold and mist of the December evening to the scene of the triumph of Anna’s genius— Anna with her head enveloped in shawls, her feet in goloshes, her muslin skirts covered with a mackintosh and a fur-lined cloak.
When it came to the moment of departure she felt so sorry for those left behind that she could not help expressing it. “I wish you could have come too, and had some of the fun,” she said excitedly.
“Do you?” said Betty bluntly. “Well, I don’t. So you needn’t feel unhappy about it. We would rather have ‘bread and scrape,’ or nothing at all, at home. We shall enjoy ourselves, you may be quite sure. Don’t worry about us,” which was wickedness on Betty’s part, for she knew that Anna always suspected that they enjoyed themselves more without her, and resented it.