Short Stories »Another Party
NOT many years ago I had my enjoyment watching a group of children playing "keep house." They made their play-house between the front door and four poplar trees on a pretty grass plot. There were Zina C. and her brother Allen, Zina M. and her brother Freddie and their little sister Ethel two years old.
Zina M.'s grandma had given them some nice cold tongue and ham, a teacup of flour and one of sugar. Zina C. contributed an egg, some milk and raisins and the use of her ma's cook-stove. The two Zinas brought out their dolls, tea-sets and furniture, besides borrowed rugs and curtains from their mothers, and the little play-house looked quite interesting, the cat and dog entering into the whole with as much zest as the others.
But the cooking ! Zina C. was rolling out pie-crust in the tray of an old trunk, from which the paper kept coming off. The table was all set before the cooking was begun. Zina M. was mixing the cake in a rusty tin wash-basin, and Allen was vigorously beating the white of an egg and sugar for frosting. Isabel, the hired girl, was frequently asked if the oven was hot, and to please grease pie-plates and cake-tins for the baking. What a good time they were having!
Grandma M., Isabel, and somebody else were looking on through the window, and laughing at what they could see. Pretty soon the two Zinas saw it too. " Freddie's eating the raisins ! " "Allen's licking the frosting off the spoon! I saw him. Oh, it's most all gone!" These ungentlemanly assistants (three and six years old) were dismissed from the service and told to " sit down and behave till dinner-time."
Well, when these peculiar pies and cakes were done, Isabel and the grandmas were laughing till their sides ached, and wondered if the children could eat them, when a loud scream drew their attention to the play- house again. The dog and cat were helping themselves to the meat and butter. Just outside the trees, quietly resting his arms on the fence and enjoying the scene, stood a benevolent-looking gentleman, his face all smiles. " Isn't that the Bishop ? " whispered Isabel. The impatient dog and cat were properly slapped and scolded and dinner proceeded. Little Ethel drank all the milk at once, Freddie grabbed the raisin cake before it was sliced, the two Zinas reached to recover it, and in doing so Allen's chair was tipped over backward till his struggle upset the table. Just then I saw the smiling old gentleman hurrying down the sidewalk laughing to himself as though something delightful had happened and wiping his eyes as if f6r very joy.