ToMy Little Margaret
Who Is Phronsie Pepper
To All Who Know Her
This Book Is Lovingly Inscribed
“Jefferson,” said Phronsie, with a grave uplifting of her eyebrows, “Ithink I will go down into the kitchen and bake a pie; a very littlepie, Jefferson.”
“Bless you, Miss,” replied the cook, showing his white teeth in glee,“it is the making of the kitchen when you come it.”
“Yes, Jefferson,” said Phronsie slowly, “I think I will go down makeone. It must be very, very full of plums, you know,” looking up at himanxiously, “for Polly dearly loves plums.”
“It shall be that plummy,” said Jefferson convincingly, “that you’dthink you never saw such a one for richness. Oh, my! what a pie thatshall be!” exclaimed the cook, shutting up one eye to look through theother in a spasm of delight at an imaginary pie; “so it’s for MissMary, is it?”
“Yes,” said Phronsie, “it is. Oh, Jefferson, I’m so glad you like tohave me make one,” she clasped her hands in silent rapture, and satdown on the lowest stair to think it over a bit, Jefferson looking ather, forgetful that the under cook was fuming in the deserted domainsover his delay to return. At last he said, bowing respectfully, “If youplease, Miss, it’s about time to begin. Such a pie ain’t done without adeal of care, and we’d best have it a-baking as soon as may be.”
“Yes,” said Phronsie, getting off from her stair, and surrendering herhand to his big black palm, “we ought to go right this very minute. ButI must get my apron on;” she stopped and looked down at her red dress.
“Oh! you can take one of my aprons,” said the cook, “they’re as fine,and big, and white, and I’ll just put you in one of ‘em and tie you upas snug; you’ll come out as clean and sweet when we’re through, as youare now, Miss.”
“Tie me up?” laughed Phronsie in glee. “Oh! how nice, Jefferson. Do youknow I love you very much, Jefferson, you’re so very good to me?”
The big fellow drew a long breath. “No, Miss, I’m big and black, andjust fit to stay downstairs,” he managed to say.
“But I love you better because you are black, Jefferson,” insistedPhronsie, “a great deal better. You are not like everybody else, butyou are just yourself,” clinging to his hand.
“Well, Miss, I ain’t just fit for a lily to touch and that’s thetruth,” looking down at his palm that the small white hand graspedclosely. “It’s clean, Miss,” he added with pardonable pride, “but it’sawful black.”
“I like it better black, Jefferson,” said Phronsie again, “really andtruly I do, because then it’s your very, very own,” in a tone thatthrilled him much as if a queen had knighted him on the spot.
This important declaration over, the two set forth on their way towardthe kitchen, Phronsie clinging to his hand, and chatting merrily overthe particular pie in prospect, with varied remarks on pies in general,that by and by would be ventured upon if this present one were asuccess — and very soon tied up in one of the cook’s whitest aprons shewas seated with due solemnity at the end of the baking table, theproper utensils and materials in delightful confusion before her, andthe lower order of kitchen satellites revolving around her, andJefferson the lesser sphere.
“Now all go back to your work,” said that functionary when heconsidered the staring and muttered admiration had been indulged inlong enough, “and leave us.”