As he stepped into the familiar entrance-hall, Bryce paused, raised his head and sniffed suspiciously, like a bird-dog. Mrs. Tully, arms akimbo, watched him pleasurably. “I smell something,” he declared, and advanced a step down the hall for another sniff; then, in exact imitation of a foxhound, he gave tongue and started for the kitchen. Mrs. Tully, waddling after, found him “pointing” two hot blackberry pies which had but a few minutes previous been taken from the oven. He was baying lugubriously.
“They’re wild blackberries, too,” Mrs. Tully announced pridefully. “I remembered how fond you used to be of wild-blackberry pie—so I phoned up to the logging-camp and had the woods-boss send a man out to pick them.”
“I’m still a pie-hound, Mrs. Tully, and you’re still the same dear, thoughtful soul. I’m so glad now that I had sense enough to think of you before I turned my footsteps toward the setting sun.” He patted her gray head. “Mrs. T.,” he declared, “I’ve brought you a nice big collar of Irish lace—bought it in Belfast, b’gosh. It comes down around your neck and buckles right here with an old ivory cameo I picked up in Burma and which formerly was the property of a Hindu queen.”
Mrs. Tully simpered with pleasure and protested that her boy was too kind. “You haven’t changed a single speck,” she concluded proudly.
“Has the pie?”
“I should say not.”
“How many did you make?”
“May I have one all for myself, Mrs. Tully?”
“Indeed you may, my dear.”
“Thank you, but I do not want it for myself. Mrs. Tully, will you please wrap one of those wonderful pies in a napkin and the instant George Sea Otter comes in with the car, tell him to take the pie over to Colonel Pennington’s house and deliver it to Miss Sumner? There’s a girl who doubtless thinks she has tasted pie in her day, and I want to prove to her that she hasn’t.” He selected a card from his card-case, sat down, and wrote:
Dear Miss Sumner:
Here is a priceless hot wild-blackberry pie, especially manufactured in my honour. It is so good I wanted you to have some. In all your life you have never tasted anything like it.
Sincerely, Bryce cardigan.
He handed the card to Mrs. Tully and repaired to his old room to remove the stains of travel before joining his father at dinner.
Some twenty minutes later his unusual votive offering was delivered by George Sea Otter to Colonel Pennington’s Swedish maid, who promptly brought it in to the Colonel and Shirley Sumner, who were even then at dinner in the Colonel’s fine burl-redwood-panelled dining room. Miss Sumner’s amazement was so profound that for fully a minute she was mute, contenting herself with scrutinizing alternately the pie and the card that accompanied it. Presently she handed the card to her uncle, who affixed his pince-nez and read the epistle with deliberation.