“Poor little girl! But, you see, I offer you my hand,—both hands, in fact,—there’s ten extra fingers at your disposal, if you want them. And all willing and eager to work for you.”
“Mr. Farnsworth, how do you suppose I can make croquettes if you talk to me like that? One tablespoonful of flour,—two of butter, three eggs—”
“Pooh, can’t you read a recipe and be proposed to at the same time?”
“Yes, I can,” Patty flashed back, “but,—I pay attention only to the recipe!”
“’Twas ever thus,” Bill sighed.
“What! Every time you’ve proposed?” said Patty, roguishly.
“No, because I’ve never proposed before. Don’t you think I do it well for a beginner?”
“Not very! You little scamp, what do you know about it? Have you had a wide experience in proposals?”
“I shouldn’t tell you if I had. One of flour, two of butter, three—”
“Three blithering wheelbarrows! Apple Blossom, have you any idea how I love you?”
“Don’t put me out, Bill. One of flour, two of butter, three eggs—”
“Now, isn’t she the limit?” mused Bill, apparently addressing the crabs. “I express my devotion in terms of endearment, and she babbles like a parrot of flour and butter!”
“If I don’t, you’ll have no croquettes,” and Patty moulded the mixture into oval balls, and arranged them in a frying sieve.
As the time grew shorter they worked away in earnest, and soon after one o’clock everything was ready. The finishing touches and the serving of the hot dishes were left to the butler and waitress, who were none too willing to do anything outside their own restricted sphere, but whom Patty cajoled by smiles, till they were her abject slaves.
“Now go and tidy yourself up,” Patty said to Bill, “and I will too, and see who can get down to the drawing-room first.”
“Huh, I haven’t to arrange a lot of furbelows. I’ll beat you all to pieces.”
But he little knew Patty’s powers of haste in emergency, and when fifteen minutes later he descended to the drawing-room, where the guests were already arriving, Patty was there before him.
She was in a soft, frilly white frock, with knots of pale blue ribbon here and there, the knots holding sprays of tiny pink rosebuds. A blue ribbon banded her head, and save for an extra moist curliness in the soft rings of hair on her temples, no one could have guessed that the serene looking girl had worked hard and steadily for three hours in a kitchen.
“I surrender,” whispered Bill; “you’re the swiftest little piece of property I ever saw!”
“Please address me in less undignified language,” said Patty, slowly waving a feather fan.
Bill bent a trifle lower, and murmured close to her ear, “Mademoiselle Apple Blossom, you are the sweetest thing in the world.”