“You are a great Bessie,” said Thaddeus, with a laugh. “I admire you more than ever, my dear, and to prove it I’d get up to breakfast if you’d ordered it at 1 A.M.”
“You’d be more likely to stay up to it,” said Bessie, “and then go to bed after it.”
“There’s your Napoleonic mind again,” said Thaddeus. “I should never have thought of that way out of it. But, Bess,” he continued, “when I was praising to-night’s dinner I had a special object in view. I think Ellen cooks well enough now to warrant us in giving a dinner, don’t you?”
“Well, it all depends on what we have for dinner,” said Bessie. “Ellen’s biscuits are atrocious, I think, and you know how lumpy the oatmeal always is.”
“Suppose we try giving a dinner with the oatmeal and biscuit courses left out?” suggested Thaddeus, with a grin.
Bessie’s eyes twinkled. “You make very bright after-dinner speeches, Teddy,” she said. “I don’t see why we can’t have a dinner with nothing but pretty china, your sparkling conversation, and a few flowers strewn about. It would be particularly satisfactory to me.”
“They’re not all angels like you, my dear,” Thaddeus returned. “There’s Bradley, for instance. He’d die of starvation before we got to the second course in a dinner of that kind, and if there is any one thing that can cast a gloom over a dinner, it is to have one of the guests die of starvation right in the middle of it.”
“Mr. Bradley would never do so ungentlemanly a thing,” said Bessie, laughing heartily. “He is too considerate a man for that; he’d starve in silence and without ostentation.”
“Why this sudden access of confidence in Bradley?” queried Thaddeus. “I thought you didn’t like him?”
“Neither I did, until that Sunday he spent with us,” Bessie answered. “I’ve admired him intensely ever since. Don’t you remember, we had lemon pie for dinner—one I made myself?”
“Yes, I remember,” said Thaddeus; “but I fail to see the connection between lemon pie and Bradley. Bradley is not sour or crusty.”
“You wouldn’t have failed to see if you’d watched Mr. Bradley at dinner,” retorted Bessie. “He ate two pieces of it.”
“And just because a man eats two pieces of lemon pie prepared by your own fair hands you whirl about, and, from utterly disliking him, call him, upon the whole, one of the most admirable products of the human race?” said Thaddeus.
“Not at all,” Bessie replied, with a broad smile; “but I did admire the spirit and politeness of the man. On our way home from church in the morning we were talking about the good times children have on their little picnics, and Mr. Bradley said he never enjoyed a picnic in his life, because every one he had ever gone to was ruined by the baleful influence of lemon pie.”
Thaddeus laughed. “Then he didn’t like lemon pie?” he asked.
“No, he hated it,” said Bessie, joining in the laugh. “He added that the original receipt for it came out of Pandora’s box.”