“Mary drank that. They got word this morning that their brother was very ill, and it upset them so I don’t believe they knew what they were doing; but at one o’clock, when I went down to lunch, there was no lunch ready, and when I descended into the kitchen to find out why, I found that the fire had gone out, and both girls were—both girls were asleep on the cellar floor. They’re there yet—locked in; and all through dinner I was afraid they might come to, and— make a rumpus.”
“And the dinner?” said Thaddeus, a light breaking through into his troubled mind.
“I telegraphed to New York to Partinelli at once, telling him to serve a dinner for eight here to-night, supplying service, cook, dinner, and everything, and at four o’clock these men arrived and took possession. It was the only thing I could do, Thad, wasn’t it?”
“It was, Bess,” said Thaddeus, gravely. “It was great; but—by Jove, I wish I’d known, because—Did you really tell the ladies the truth about it?”
“Yes, I did,” said Bessie. “They were so full of praises for everything that I didn’t think it was fair for me to take all the credit of it, so I told them the whole thing.”
“That was right, too,” said Thaddeus; “but those fellows will never let me hear the end of that infernal Grimmins story. I almost wish we—”
“You wish what, Teddy dear?”
“I almost wish we had not attempted the tipsy-cake, and had stuck to my original suggestion,” said Thaddeus.
“What was that?” Bessie asked.
“To have lemon pie for dessert, for Bradley’s sake,” answered Thaddeus, as he locked the front door and turned off the gas.
It was early in the autumn. Mr. and Mrs. Perkins, with their two hopefuls, had returned from a month of rest at the mountains, and the question of school for Thaddeus junior came up.
“He is nearly six years old,” said Bessie, “and I think he is quite intelligent enough to go to school, don’t you?”
“Well, if you want my honest opinion,” Thaddeus answered, “I think he’s intelligent enough to go without school for another year at least. I don’t want a hot-house boy, and I have always been opposed to forcing these little minds that we are called upon by circumstances to direct. It seems to me that the thing for us to do is to hold them back, if anything. If Teddy goes to school now, he’ll be ready for college when he is twelve. He’ll be graduated at sixteen, and at twenty he’ll be practising law. At twenty-five he’ll be leader of the bar; and then—what will there be left for him to achieve at fifty? Absolutely nothing.”
Mrs. Perkins laughed. “You have great hopes for Teddy, haven’t you?”
“Certainly I have,” Thaddeus replied; “and why shouldn’t I? Doesn’t he combine all my good qualities plus yours? How can he be anything else than great?”