“I wouldn’t beat more’n half at a time, honey.”
Beth accepted the suggestion and succeeded in getting a good stiff froth from the eggs. Next, she measured out the other ingredients. She tried to be careful, but somehow she spilled flour not only over the pantry floor but also over herself.
“Beth, you are a powdered beauty,” called a boyish voice from the open pantry door.
“Why, Harvey, where did you come from?”
“Oh, I came to see you, and your mother told me I’d find you here. What are you making?”
“Wait until I put this pan in the oven, and I’ll tell you all about it. Maggie,” added Beth to the cook, “you’re not to peep at my cake even. Promise me.”
“Law, honey, I won’t even go into the kitchen if yo’ don’t want me to. I’ll stay here in de pantry until yo’ calls me, but I fear you’ll forget it.”
“No, indeed, I won’t.”
The precious cake was consigned to the oven, and then Beth joined Harvey on the piazza.
“I’ve made an angel’s cake, Harvey, and I’m going to get a prize for it. Mamma says the only way to learn to cook is just to cook.”
All this time, Harvey had been holding one hand behind him. Beth now noticed that he was hiding something.
“What have you there?” she asked.
Harvey looked bashful. “Well, ever since I came so near burning you up, I’ve been saving my money to buy you a present, and here it is.”
Beth drew in her breath at sight of a beautiful dog collar. “Oh, it’s for Don, and what’s this mark on it? ‘Don. Owned by Beth Davenport.’ Oh, it’s too lovely for anything. Where is Don? I must try it on him.”
The prize cake was all forgotten. Away she and Harvey scampered.
Don was out near the stable. The collar fitted him exactly, and the children talked and admired it for some time.
Suddenly Beth gasped, “Oh, my cake,” and ran as fast as she could back to the kitchen.
Upon opening the oven, an avalanche of smoke came forth. The cake was burned to charcoal.
The heart-broken little cook sat down on the floor and cried bitterly. Maggie stuck her head through the pantry window.
“For de law’s sake—dat beau’ful cake. I knew I jes’ ought to have ’tended it.”
“Maggie, Maggie, why didn’t you tell me it was time to look at it?”
“Sure, honey, didn’t yo’ tol’ me I must have nuffin to do with it?”
“Yes, but——” the sentence ended in sobs.
“Never mind, Beth,” said Harvey; “Maggie will make you another, won’t you, Maggie?”
“I don’t want her to make me another. I was going to take a prize with this one, and the judges won’t give prizes for burnt cake, boo-hoo.”
Suddenly Beth resolved not to cry over spilt milk. She jumped to her feet.
“Harvey, run away. I’m going to make another cake, and I won’t let it burn. I’ll get the prize yet.”