The Gentle Art of Cooking Wives
“Girls, come to order!” shouted Hilda Bretherton in a somewhat disorderly tone.
“How can we come to order without a president?” queried a rosy-cheeked, roly-poly damsel answering to the name of Puddy Kennett.
“I elect Prue Shaftsbury!” screamed Hilda above the merry din of voices.
“You can't elect—you simply nominate,” said Prue.
“I second the motion,” said Nannie Branscome, and her remark was instantly followed by a storm of “ayes” before they were called for, and the president was declared elected and proceeded to take her seat.
“Young ladies,” said she, “we are met to consider a scandalous——”
“——alarming article,” continued the president, “entitled 'How to Cook Wives.'”
“Here! here!” interrupted Hilda again, “we can't do anything until we've elected officers and appointed committees.”
“Out of a club of four members?” queried Prudence.
“Certainly. Mother said that yesterday at her club, out of eight women they elected twelve officers and appointed seven committees of three each. Why, you know two men can't meet on a street corner without immediately forming a secret society, electing president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer, and appointing a committee of five to get up a banquet.”
“But to return to the subject,” persisted the president—a long-faced girl with a solemn countenance, but a suspicious gleam in her eye. “'How to Cook Wives'—that is the question before the house.”
“'How to Cook Wives!' Well, if that isn't rich! It makes me think of the old English nursery song—'Come, ducky, come and be killed.' Now it will be, 'Come, ducky, come and be cooked.' I move that Congress be urged to enact a law adopting that phrase as the only legal form of proposal. Then if any little goose accepts she knows what to expect, and is not caught up and fried without foreknowledge.”
“Young ladies,” said the president.
“Don't mow me down in my prime,” urged Hilda in an injured tone. “I'm making my maiden speech in the house.”
“Oh, girls, look, quick!” cried Puddy. “See Miss Leigh. Isn't that a fetching gown she has on?”
The entire club rushed to the window.
“Who's she with?” asked Hilda. “He's rather fetching, too.”
“I believe his name is Chance,” said Puddy Kennett. “He's not a society fellow.”
“Oh, he's the chum of that lovely man,” said Hilda.
“Which lovely man?” asked Prue. “There are so many of them.”
“Why—oh, you know his name. I can't think of it—Loveland—Steve Loveland. We met him at Constance Leigh's one evening.”
Here Nannie Branscome colored, but no one noticed her.
“Young ladies, come to order,” said the president.
“Or order will come to you,” said Hilda. “Prue has raised her parasol—gavel, I mean.”
“There goes Amy Frisbe,” remarked Puddy from her post by the window. “Do you know her engagement's off?”
“Well, I'll be jig——” Hilda began.
“Sh-h!” said the president.
“The president objects to slang, but I'll still be jiggered, as Lord Fauntleroy's friend remarked.”
“Sh-h!” said the president....