“Well, what?” says he.
“I’d whittle a handle on a good thick shingle,” says I, “and use it.”
He stiffens a little at that first off, and then looks at me curious. Next he chuckles. “By Jove, though!” says he after awhile.
Yes, we had a long talk, chummy and confidential, and before we turns in Nick has plotted out a substitute for the shingle programme that he promises to try on first thing next morning I didn’t expect to be in on it; but we happens to be sittin’ on the veranda waitin’ for breakfast, when out comes Robbie in a pink mornin’ gown with a cute boudoir cap on her head.
“Why haven’t they sent up my coffee and rolls?” she demands.
“Did you order them, Robbie?” says Nick.
“Why no,” says she. “Didn’t you?”
“No,” says Nick. “I’m not going to, either. You’re mistress of the house, you know, Robbie, and from now on you are in full charge.”
“But—but I thought Mrs. Parkins, the housekeeper, was to manage all those things,” says she.
“You said yesterday you couldn’t bear Mrs. Parkins,” says Nick; “so I’m sending her back to town. She’s packing her things now. There are four servants left, though, which is enough. But they need straightening out. They are squabbling over their work, and neglecting it. You will have to settle all that.”
“But—but, Nick,” protests Robbie, “I’m sure I know nothing at all about it.”
“As my wife you are supposed to,” says Nick. “You must learn. Anyway, I’ve told them they needn’t do another stroke until they get orders from you. And I wish you’d begin. I’d rather like breakfast.”
He’s real calm and pleasant about it; but there’s somethin’ solid about the way his jaw is set. Robbie eyes him a minute hesitatin’ and doubtful, like a schoolgirl that’s bein’ scolded. Then all of a sudden there’s a change. The pout comes off her lips, her chin stops trembling and she squares her shoulders.
“I’m—I’m sorry, Nicholas,” says she. “I—I’ll do my best.” And off she marches to the kitchen.
And, say, half an hour later we were all sittin’ down to as good a ham omelet as I ever tasted. When I left with Nick to catch the forenoon express, young Mrs. Talbot was chewin’ the end of a lead pencil, with them pansy eyes of hers glued on a pad where she was dopin’ out her first dinner order. She would break away from it only long enough to give Hubby a little bird peck on the cheek; but he seems tickled to death with that.
So it wa’n’t any long report I has to hand in to Mr. Robert that night.
“All bunk!” says I. “Just a case of a honeymoon that rose a little late. It’s shinin’ steady now, though. But, say, I hope I’m never batty enough to fall for one of the butterfly kind. If I do—good night!”
BEING SICCED ON PERCEY