Little Willie came home in a sad state. He had a black eye and numerous scratches and contusions, and his clothes were a sight. His mother was horrified at the spectacle presented by her darling. There were tears in her eyes as she addressed hi... Read more of Appearance at Free Jokes.caInformational Site Network Informational
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Rosy's Stay-at-home Parties

from The Old-fashioned Fairy Book





"Oh! dear, oh! dear," sighed Rosy, "I'm the most unhappy little girl in
all the world."

She was kneeling in a chair, gazing through the drawing-room window. In
the street outside was drawn up a carriage, into which Nurse was packing
all of Rosy's brothers and sisters. Clover was there, a boy of twelve,
looking rather disgusted with his surroundings, and having his head
nearly cut off by his first upright collar. Violet, Rosy's twin sister,
was there, dressed in the sweetest new pale blue camel's-hair, and
taking great care to turn the skirt of it up over her shoulders as she
nestled into her corner of the landau. (Rosy thought with a pang of her
own new dress, the double of Violet's, hanging upstairs in the wardrobe,
in a melancholy way!) Jonquil was there, the chubby, golden-haired,
big-eyed brother, aged three. And last of all was dear wee Honeysuckle,
like a bundle of lace and flannel in Marie's arms; while old Nurse's
spectacles could hardly be seen through the mass of sash-ends and fluted
petticoats, and scarlet stockings, and velvet breeches, and flying locks
of hair completely filling the roomy carriage. No one could doubt that
the children were going to a party, even if they had not announced that
fact to everybody within ear-shot by the chatter of their busy little
tongues!

At last all were settled, and the carriage rolled away. "Good-by, Rosy,"
"Good-by, Rosy!" came up in a shrill chorus; and, the last Rosy's
tear-dimmed eyes could see of them, hands and handkerchiefs were waving
a farewell to the sister left behind.

Then it was that Rosy's fortitude completely forsook her, and she
dropped sobbing into the chair. It was a bitter disappointment, for the
party was to be given by their aunt in honor of these children, and, in
addition to Punch and Judy, magic, and a candy-bag, they were promised a
huge bran-pie, full of delightful hidden presents. Rosy had suffered
from a pretty bad sore-throat the night before, and the doctor had
forbidden her going out. It is no use for grown people to say, dear
children, these disappointments of yours don't matter much, for they
do. They seem as high as mountains in your path, and I fully
sympathize with you all, and especially with little weeping Rosy.

So thought her mamma, evidently, for she came into the room just then,
and picked the little bunch of blue serge and cardinal ribbons up in her
arms, and sat down with it in a low chair by the fire.

"Boo-hoo!" said Rosy, breaking out afresh when she felt mamma's kisses
on her hair and wet cheeks. Mamma said very little, but by and by the
little girl began to feel comforted, in spite of herself. You know how
it is, dears! First, you stop roaring and moan, then your eyes are
kissed dry, then you burrow your heads down and sigh, then you lie quite
still for a little while--and at last, after blowing your noses in an
heroic way, you are ready to laugh again!

All this happened in Rosy's case, and for awhile she sat talking, until
her mamma was called away to attend to some household matter. By that
time Rosy was quite content to be tucked into a corner of the
comfortable sofa, covered with a down quilt, and left to gaze into the
depths of a woodfire, burning gently (for it had passed the spitting,
spluttering stage), upon two great old-fashioned brass andirons with
claw-feet and queer round bald heads.

Around Rosy's couch was drawn a gay Japanese screen; before the fire was
spread a great black bear-skin rug, and on either side of it stood a
tall green porcelain jar. Clover always said these vases were like the
ones in which Morgiana hid the Forty Thieves, and the children had more
than once stuffed baby Honeysuckle into one of them to keep her out of
mischief during what Nurse called their "rampagin's to split one's
head."

Over her mamma's writing-table, low enough for Rosy to look into the
very heart of it, hung a picture in a broad gold frame. The picture was
of a chestnut wood in Brittany, and standing in the shadow of a drooping
bough was a little girl of about ten, her own age. One of the little
peasant maiden's arms was clasped around the neck of a big dog,
harnessed to a cart of vegetables. Under the other arm she held a fat
goose with a dangling neck. Overhead, the sky was blue and the leaves
seemed to be rustling in a summer wind. Around the feet of the tiny
nut-brown maiden, with her odd high cap, grew tall heather and feathery
ferns, with here and there a clump of flame-shaped lilies. When snow was
on the ground outside Rosy always loved to gaze at this pretty scene,
and to fancy herself stepping over the frame to have a chat about
vegetables, and a ramble in the forest with Annette.

Rosy's eyes wandered from one object to another in this pleasant room.
Fluff, her mother's Skye terrier, curled up on her feet and fell asleep.
The clock upon the mantel ticked softly, Fluff snored contentedly,
little particles of burning wood pattered into the bed of glowing embers
below. Even the familiar rumble of the street cars along the
thoroughfare at the end of their block seemed more subdued than usual;
and Rosy lay, never stirring, until--she found herself, without the
least warning, slipping down through one of her mother's great porcelain
jars, into Japan! Fluff woke up, and dashed to the rescue, with his
fierce little "Rah!" of a bark; but there was nothing to be seen of Miss
Rosy except the tip of a scarlet bow, with which Nurse was wont to adorn
the summit of her young lady's head. She felt the rustle of the dried
rose-leaves at the bottom of the jar falling over her in a fragrant
shower, as she fell through space, pulling up, decidedly out of breath,
in a very queer locality.

It was a town where the houses looked as if they had been built for big
dolls to live in. Houses with sliding walls, doors, and galleries made
all of paper, that in two minutes you could take apart and pack up as
you do a box of Crandall's blocks. The streets were honeycombed with
quaint booths, and crowded with human beings going in and out of them
like bees. The carriages were babies' perambulators, drawn by a tandem
team of brown-skinned men, wearing a single garment each, and umbrella
hats.

There were no horses to be seen, but the cows wore blue cotton wrappers
and shoes made of straw. Men, women, and children, at first sight,
seemed to be dressed alike, all clattering around on high clogs,
stooping painfully; and the funny little bald-headed babies were either
carried pick-a-back by their mammas, or else were tucked in the breast
of their fathers' loose wrappers, together with pipes, tobacco pouches,
books, and a variety of other useful articles.

Rosy looked about her in astonishment, till a girl came up and saluted
her with solemn politeness, inviting her to a party, which was just
about to begin. "You had better have your hair dressed first," the girl
said, "and I will lend you a decent frock."

"Very well," said Rosy, thinking fondly of the blue camel's-hair in the
wardrobe at home; "of course, this old every-day serge won't do for a
party."

The girl took her to the shop of a female barber, who made Rosy kneel
down before a mirror of polished steel, and parted her hair in two or
three long manes, which were stiffened with bandoline, and tied with
paper twine in a wonderful bow-knot on top. A fine tortoise-shell skewer
was added, and the barberess, stepping back to survey her work, caught
sight of Rosy's eyebrows.

"Tut, tut," she said, angrily; "what were her parents thinking of to let
them grow like this?" And without more ado Rosy's eyebrows were shaved
off, and her face and neck were daubed with a thick white paste. Her
under lip had a patch of red paint, and her teeth were stained with some
horrid black mixture. Then she went with the Japanese girl into a paper
house, where the party was to be held, and the girl lent her a loose
silk gown, tied round the waist by a wide sash of pink crepe. On her
feet were put foot mittens of white cloth, with a separate place for the
big toe, and high lacquered clogs.

"How can I walk?" said Rosy, tottering around when she was finally
equipped in her narrow uncomfortable garments.

"Sh-h! the company is arriving!" said her hostess; and as there was no
furniture, not even a chair, Rosy wondered where the company would sit.
The company solved this difficulty by sitting on the floor; and then
trays were handed around, containing all sorts of wonderful sweetmeats,
flowers and fruits in lovely colors, with conserved fruits, sugared
beans, and candy fish, animals, and birds. Each dainty was more tempting
than the one before, and Rosy found the loose front of her Japanese gown
the very thing for a "party-pocket," if any of you know what that means!

Next came games; "Lady-go-to-see," "Sick man-and-doctor,"
Alphabet-cards, and Proverbs; and then, more sweetmeats. Pleasant as it
was, a sudden stop was put to the entertainment, by a commotion,
everybody seizing hold of another, all with frightened faces. Without
warning, an earthquake came and turned the house upside down. Everybody
fell out on the ground but Rosy, who flew up in the air, becoming
entangled in the tail of a huge man-kite, carried along by the wind at a
fearful rate of speed.

Rosy thought this much more exciting than any coasting down hill she had
ever tried; and she flew up, up, until the tail of the kite gave a flop,
tossing her through a rift in the clouds. There she was, passing again
through the bottom of the porcelain-jar, and in another moment she had
landed in the very centre of the bear-skin hearth-rug.

Rosy was just getting her breath, and wondering how she came to have her
hair hanging in the usual tawny stream, when, to her great surprise, the
bear-skin began to move.

"Hold on tight there. We are off," it said, in a low growling tone,
though not unkindly. "Want to go to a party, hey? Well, I'll see what we
can do for you in my part of the world."

"Really you take one so unpleasantly by surprise," exclaimed poor Rosy,
as she felt herself again setting forth on an airy journey. "It is so
cold here, I wish you had let me stop for my seal-skin jacket."

"Don't talk about seal-skins, child. We are going where you will see
enough of them. Ho! but it's grand there, up among the icebergs and the
everlasting snow-drifts, where the frozen lakes gleam like red jewels in
the light of the sun that never sets! Merry sports you'll see between my
brothers and sisters!"

"But I should be dreadfully afraid of them," began Rosy, trembling. "I
have never met any bears outside of cages;" but the words were frozen on
her tongue, and some tears coming into her eyes rolled in little round
icicles into her lap.

Now they came to a world of ice and snow. Even the fir-trees were no
longer seen. Clinging to the rocks was a little rough moss, which served
for reindeers' food. All else was chill and glittering--the sky arched
with radiant pink that seemed to palpitate. Far below them was a polar
sea, locking in chill embrace a lonely ship, her shrouds sheathed in
ice, her ribs cracked against the huge silvery bulk of an iceberg, on
whose jagged side she leaned despairingly--no sign of life on board.
Rosy shuddered and shut her eyes, only opening them again when the
bear-skin set her down at the side of an odd little hut, built on a
barren point of land above the ice-bound water.

This hut was made of blocks of ice, the chinks filled in with moss, and
snow-caked over all. On top was a hole whence issued a faint curl of
smoke, and out of an opening, somewhere, crawled a funny Esquimaux lady,
apparently as broad as she was long. She welcomed Rosy politely, and
took her in to the fire, a civility Rosy thought she could have done
without. The whole family was collected there, with some guests invited
in Rosy's honor, who had come in sledges drawn by dogs over the snow.
The dogs also were within, and half a dozen children. It made Rosy think
of the worms in Clover's can the days when her brother went a-fishing,
so closely packed and squirming were her new-found friends. The place
was full of smoke, and smelled of fish oil. The feast consisted of
frozen whale's blubber, handed around to be gnawed by the company, and
of salt fish dried without cooking, with strips of reindeer meat. Rosy
tried to be very agreeable to everybody present, but when they brought
her the baby to kiss, she almost fainted! It was the greasiest little
thing, without a stitch of clothes on! By-and-by, sleep overpowered the
traveller, and Mrs. Esquimaux laid a skin before the fire, offering her,
for a pillow, what do you think? that self-same greasy baby!

As this ceremony is an especial compliment to a stranger among the
Esquimaux, no one can refuse it; and Rosy, with much compunction, laid
her head down on the poor little thing, who took it all as cheerfully as
possible.

Scarcely had the weary traveller closed her eyes, when she opened them
again on the lounge in the drawing-room at home!

There, looking down on her with a friendly smile, was the little Breton
maiden in the chestnut wood.

"Come to my party," Rosy heard her whisper; and, charmed with such a
pretty new playmate, she stretched out her hands. The little French girl
dropped the goose from under her arm, and leaned out of her gold frame
to help Rosy, who, in two or three steps was safely beside her, treading
down the tall heather, and stirring the butterflies from their haunts
among the flowers. How green, and cool, and sweet it was, under the
arching boughs. Far as the eye could reach, on every side, were leaves
rustling in the fragrant air; and the trunks of the ancient trees were
gray and hoar as the beards of the old Druids who once haunted them.
Annette, for so the peasant maid was called, told Rosy many strange and
interesting tales about this forest as they walked on, followed by the
faithful dog dragging his cart of vegetables so carefully that he did
not need a word or look to guide him.

"Ours is one of the oldest inhabited parts of France," said the girl,
proudly; "I can tell you stories about every tree and rock and hill in
the country-side, and I will, if you like to hear them; but we must make
haste to reach the market now, before the sun rises high enough to drink
the dew from my vegetables. I was up before day to pick them, and my
father has promised me that, if I sell all, I shall have a party in the
glen. Only think! Not to work in the field all the afternoon--and to
have as many chestnuts as we choose, a whole loaf of brown bread, and
perhaps--if the step-mother is good humored--a slice of seed-cake!"

Rosy thought this a very poor sort of a party; but she found Annette
such good company that it seemed no hardship to trudge along the hot and
dusty road beside her, when they emerged from the shelter of the wood.
The two girls laughed and made merry until they reached the market town,
and there the good dog came to a halt, while Annette arranged her cress
and lettuces and beans and potatoes in tempting rows upon the
stall--standing beside them with such a patient smiling face, that many
passers-by were induced to buy of her. The fat goose went home in the
basket of a fat housekeeper, and left in his place a pile of silver
pieces. So, Annette and Rosy soon turned back to trudge again the dusty
high-road, talking of the party they were to have in the glen that
afternoon.

Annette's home, which the two tired little travellers reached at last,
was a quaint cottage, the steep moss-grown roof looking twice the height
of its walls. Over the door grew a twisted pear-tree, and all the ground
around it, excepting the garden patch in a sheltered spot behind, was
one waving mass of heather, strewn with gray boulders of mossy rock.
Rosy gave a little cry of delight.

"Why, it is the sweetest place," she cried. "It is like a bird's nest,
Annette. How happy you must be here."

Annette was about to answer, when out of the door came a cross
step-mother, who began scolding as soon as she saw the girls, snatched
the pouch of silver money from Annette's side, ordered her to the right
and left, and then, tired as the poor child was, harnessed her to the
cart beside the dog, and made her draw a heavy pile of linen to the
brook, where she was at once set to work to help her step-mother in the
family washing. Rosy, half-starved by her long fast, was glad to share
Annette's meagre dinner of brown bread and a handful of boiled
chestnuts, eaten under a tree by the brookside. Annette ventured to
remind her step-mother of the promised party, and, for answer, received
a smart box on the ear.

"Is it a princess I have got to do my work, perchance?" said the cross
old thing. "Thy father is far enough off in the field, not here to spoil
thee, by luck; so do thou and that idle girl yonder set to work and
finish washing the linen. That's party enough for trapesing girls, in
my mind!"

So Rosy, too, was forced into service, and all through the long
afternoon she toiled with aching limbs. When night came, she and Annette
were glad to seek a straw bed in a tiny roof-chamber and cry themselves
to sleep.

"Never mind," said Annette, patiently; "to-morrow, perhaps, she may be
kinder, and after we have worked all the forenoon in the field, who
knows but we may have our party yet?"

Rosy remembered nothing more, except opening her eyes full upon the
hearth in her mother's drawing-room, where she was immediately addressed
by one of the old-fashioned brass andirons.

"I should just like to show you what a party was in my time," it said,
in a cracked, high-pitched voice. "We, sister Peggy and I, belonged, as
you know, to your mother's grandmother--a good old Revolutionary
stock--and we lived in the old house up yonder in Salem, Massachusetts,
until your mother took it into her fanciful head to fetch us here. I
should like to know what we have in common with that little
fiddle-faddle Dresden china clock and shepherdesses upon the
mantel-piece! However, I won't talk about my grievances, for sister
Peggy always says that it is in very bad taste, and sister Peggy knows.
We lived in the room where your grandmother was born, my dear, and her
first cap was fitted upon sister Peggy's knob----"

"Will she never stop to take breath," Rosy wondered. "I am dying to ask
her a question. What's your name?" she suddenly called out, so abruptly
as to make the old andiron jump, and let fall a broken brand upon the
hearth.

"Dear me, child, how you fluttered me!" it said, reprovingly. "I am
sister Polly, of course, as you would have heard in due time. Sister
Peggy always says that little girls should be seen and not heard, and
sister Peggy knows--Where was I--Oh! when your grandmother grew old
enough to invite her little friends to share her hospitality, the boys
and girls would arrive at about three o'clock in the afternoon. The
girls wore plain print gowns, and muslin aprons edged with tambour work.
Instead of that insane mop of hair you sport, with a bow in the middle,
looking for the world and all like your terrier, Fluff, they had decent
mob caps. Their hands were covered with mittens, and each one earned a
bag with a piece of white seam (or plain stitching), or else a sampler
frame. How pretty it was to see them sitting down to their work for
awhile! Then the tea-table was spread, with flowered china cups and
plates, and shining silver, muffins, crumpets, sliced ham, home-made
preserves and cream, and waffles strewn with cinnamon and sugar----"

"You make my mouth water," said Rosy.

"All this took place by five o'clock," said sister Polly, "and
afterward the children had a good game of 'blind-man's-buff,' or
'hunt-the-slipper'--and a handful of nuts with a big red apple, to stuff
in each of their pockets upon going home. I remember a very little
party your mamma had once, when she was a child----"

"Do you? Tell me about it, please," said Rosy, eagerly, for nothing was
ever so enchanting to those children as stories about their mamma in her
youth.

"She was just getting over the measles, and had been very much petted
during her convalescence. Your grandmother promised her, in reward for
taking a rather nasty dose of medicine, that she should have her little
cousins from next door, to drink tea on a trunk. This was an especial
treat to your mamma. A large flat-topped trunk served as table for the
little girls and their dollies. On it were spread the china doll
tea-things, and when they did not suffice in size or numbers, leaves
from the grape-vine above the dining-room porch, were also heaped with
goodies. Those children were satisfied with broken bits of peppermint
stick, ginger-nuts, wee biscuit, lemonade for tea, and in the centre of
the table a dish of horse-cakes."

"Oh, I know!" said Rosy, with much interest. "Mamma has often told us
about horse-cakes, and the funny little old shop where she used to buy
them for a cent apiece. They had currants for eyes, and the children
never knew whether to begin to eat at the head first or the tail----"

"Exactly," said sister Polly. "Well, as I was saying, four little girls
in clean white birds'-eye pinafores assembled around the trunk-party,
your mamma at the head, to pour out the lemonade tea. Each guest had a
dolly in her lap, and your mamma had twins on hers. I think the
difficulty began by her insisting that the twins should have a double
share of all the good things, which the guests, with some warmth,
disputed. At any rate, it is a sad tale to tell you, but a true one; a
quarrel set in, and what should the hostess do, but burst into tears,
declare that her company were mean horrid things, and then, dragging at
the table-cloth, whisk the entire contents of the tea-table upon the
floor!"

"Oh!" said Rosy, "did my mamma do that? I don't believe a word of it!
You are nothing but an old tattle-tale, sister Polly, and I don't
believe sister Peggy is any better!"

Scarcely had Rosy uttered these disrespectful words, when the enraged
sister Polly and sister Peggy flew out upon her from the fireplace.
Seizing her in their brassy claws, they shook the little girl fiercely,
bumping her head first on one side, then on the other, between their
knobs.

Rosy screamed for help, and heard in return a merry peal of laughter.
She felt a warm shower of kisses on her face; and, opening her eyes, saw
Clover and Violet, Jonquil and the baby, mamma and the nurses, standing
in a laughing circle around her couch, while Fluff nearly barked his
head off in the general excitement.

"Rosy, you had the funniest nightmare!" said Violet; "see here, what a
lovely bracelet was in the bran-pie for you, and we've all saved you
some of our bonbons."

"It was rather a bully Punch and Judy," remarked Clover, patronizingly.
"That is, for the little ones, you know; I've seen such lots of 'em."

"Punch said, 'Doody, Doody, bing up de baby,'" squeaked happy little
Jonquil, capering about.

Baby Honeysuckle had gone to sleep, after her first party.

Rosy jumped up, and kissed everybody around twice.

"Dear knows I've had enough of parties," she declared joyfully; but
nobody knew what she meant!





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Previous: The Frozen Hearth-fairy



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