“Prunella—” said Wobbly nervously, reluctantly releasing her hand, “I’ve never known anyone with that name before. It’s quite distinctive—nice…and inspirin’.”
“Please call me Pru,” she said, smiling.
“Oh, but it’s so grand as it is, you know. How did you come by it?”
“I’ve no idea, really. I suppose my parents must have liked the name.”
“Most original sorts, undoubtedly. Such a pleasin’ name, Prunella. I wonder that you wish to shorten it.”
“Well, Pru is friendlier, I’ve always thought.”
“Perhaps. But could be you don’t like it because it sounds a bit like prune, and you think that might be unflatterin’ to you.”
“Oh…no,” said Prunella, quite ready to be done with this portion of the introductions.
“It’s nothin’ to be ashamed of, you know.”
“I am not ashamed of my name, certainly!”
“Embarrassed by, then. Believe me, I know what it’s like havin’ a name that folks might wonder about and be prone to poke fun at. Take pride in your name! It’s your identity, innit? And prunes are such wonderful fruits. So wot if they’re wrinkled? They keep well, and they’re full of nutritive value—not to mention their helpful promotion of healthy digestive elimi—”
“If you please, Mr. Wobbly!” exclaimed Prunella.
“OH!” Marigold suddenly squealed, clapping both hands to her head. “I’ve nearly forgotten the hard-boiled eggs! They are on the kitchen table, waiting to be shelled. Be a dear, Pru, and help me tend to them, won’t you?”
“Of course,” replied a reddened Prunella, abruptly turning and marching toward the house.
“We’ll help you as well, Maggie and I, shall we?” said Fanny, and at Marigold’s nod, the sisters ran to catch up with the other two young women.
A stunned and confused Wobbly, sensing that things had somehow gone wrong, slowly turned to look at Tobias and Bob, who regarded him with patient, consoling expressions.
“I was only complimentin’ her,” murmured Wobbly. “Wot happened?”
“Evidently, young ladies do not enjoy being thought of in connection with constipation remedies,” suggested Tobias.
“No, s’pose they don’t, at that,” Wobbly conceded. “Pity I didn’t think of that on me own.”
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