He snatched the pan from the fire.
“They’re burning,” he cried, and turned the fish up one by one.
They were as black as coals down to the very tips of their crisp little tails!
A RAIN AND A RUNAWAY
At her cry of dismay, Perkins strolled over to take a look.
“They’re burnt, Miss,” he announced, bending over the pan.
“Of course they are,” snapped Judy, “any one could see that, Perkins.”
Perkins looked over her head, loftily.
“Yes, Miss, of course,” he said, “but it’s mostly always that way when there are too many cooks. I’m afraid there won’t be enough to go around, Miss.”
“Are these all?” asked Judy, anxiously.
“Yes,” said Launcelot, “I cooked four and you burned six, and there are the Judge and Anne and Nannie and Amelia and Perkins and you and I to be fed.”
“You needn’t count me, sir,” said Perkins. “I never eats, sir.”
With which astounding statement, he carried away the charred remains.
“Does he mean that he doesn’t eat at all?” questioned Judy, staring after the stout figure of the retiring butler.
Launcelot laughed. “Oh, he eats enough,” he said, “only he doesn’t do it in public. He knows his place.”
“I wish he did,” said Judy, dubiously. “Oh, dear, what shall we do about the fish?”
“There will be one apiece for the others,” said Launcelot. “I guess you and I will have to do without—Judy—”
He spoke her name with just the slightest hesitation, and his eyes laughed as they met hers.
“And I said any one could cook!” Judy’s tone was very humble. “What a prig you must have thought me, Launcelot.”
“Oh, go and get some flowers for the table and forget your troubles,” was Launcelot’s off-hand way of settling the question, and as Judy went off she decided that she should like him. He was different from other boys. He was a gentleman in spite of his shabby clothes, and his masterfulness rather pleased her—hitherto Judy had ruled every boy within her domain, and Launcelot was a new experience.
It was a hungry crowd that trooped to the great gray rock where the table was spread.
“How beautiful you have made it look, Judy,” cried Anne, as she came up, blissfully unconscious of a half-dozen new freckles and a burned nose.
Nannie May sniffed. “Fish,” she said, ecstatically, “our fish, oh, Amelia, don’t things look good.”
Amelia surveyed the table solemnly. She was a fat, rather dumpy girl of twelve. She was noted principally for two things, her indolence and her appetite, and it was in deference to the latter that she sighed rapturously as she surveyed the table. She had never seen anything just like it. The country picnics of the neighbors always showed an amazing array of cakes and pies and chicken, but these were here, and added to them were sandwiches of wonderful and attractive shapes, marvelous fruits, bonbons, and chocolates, and salads garnished with a skill known to none other in the village but the accomplished Perkins.