“Why, don’t you remember,” she said, “young Harry Bradley accused Jennie of pulling out the tile of his rockin’-’orse?”
“Oh yes! Ha, ha!” laughed Thaddeus. “So she did. I know now. Tile is cockney for tail.”
“Did you notice the accent those children had?”
“All got from the nurse, too?”
“Ah, Teddy, what do you think of our getting a French maid, after all? Don’t you think that we’d run a great risk?”
“Of having Ted speak—er—cockney French.”
“H’m—yes. Very likely,” said Thaddeus. “I’d thought of that myself, and, I guess, perhaps we’d better stick to Irish.”
“So do I. We can correct any tendency to a brogue, don’t you think?”
“Certainly,” said Thaddeus. “Or, if we couldn’t, it wouldn’t be fatal to the boy’s prospects. It might even help him if he—”
“Help him? If what?”
“If he ever went into polities,” said Perkins.
And that was the object-lesson which a kindly fate gave to the Perkinses in time to prevent their engaging a French maid for the children.
As to its value as a lesson, as to the value of its results, those who are familiar with French as spoken by nurse-instructed youths can best judge.
I am not unduly familiar with that or any other kind of French, but I have ideas in the matter.
That you may thoroughly comprehend how it happened that on last Christmas Day Thaddeus meted out gifts of value so unprecedented to the domestics of what he has come to call his “menagerie”—the term menage having seemed to him totally inadequate to express the state of affairs in his household—I must go back to the beginning of last autumn, and narrate a few of the incidents that took place between that period and the season of Peace on Earth and Good-will to Men. Should I not do so there would be many, I doubt not, who would deem Thaddeus’s course unjustifiable, especially when we are all agreed that Christmas Day should be for all sorts and conditions of men the gladdest, happiest day of all the year.
Thaddeus and Bessie and the little Thad had returned to their attractive home after an absence of two months in a section of the Adirondacks whither the march of civilization had not carried such comforts as gas, good beds, and other luxuries, to which the little family had become so accustomed that real camp-life, with its beds of balsam, lights of tallow, and “fried coffee,” possessed no charms for them. They were all renewed in spirit and quite ready to embark once more upon the troubled seas of house-keeping; and, as they saw it on that first night at home, their crew was a most excellent one. The cook rose almost to the exalted level of a chef in the estimation of Thaddeus as course upon course, to the number of