A FINE CELEBRATION

“KING,” said Marjorie, suddenly, “I have the beautifullest idea in the
world!”

“Spring it,” said Kingdon, not looking particularly expectant. “Is it
one of your crazy ones, or a really good one?”

“Oh, a really good one,” declared Marjorie, whose enthusiasm was never
dampened by King’s preliminary lack of interest.

It was a rainy afternoon, and the children were amusing themselves in
the living-room. Miss Larkin was up in her own room, writing letters,
and the time really seemed ripe for an escapade of some sort.

“It’s a big idea,” went on Midget, “and you two must listen while I tell
about it.”

King and Kitty put both hands behind their ears, and leaned forward in
exaggerated anxiety to hear the plan.

“Hope it’s mischief,” said King; “I’ve been good so long I’m just about
ready to sprout wings. Let’s cut up jinks.”

“No,” said Marjorie, severely; “it isn’t mischief, and we’re not going
to cut up jinks. At least, not bad jinks. Not till Mother and Father
come home, anyway. But I’m sort of hungry for a racket of some kind,
myself. So let’s do this. You know next week Wednesday is Miss Larkin’s
birthday.”

“Yes, I know it,” said Kitty; “how old is she?”

“Kit,” said her brother, “I’m ashamed of you! You mustn’t talk about
grown-up people’s ages. You ought to know that.”

“Well, what’s the sense of a birthday, if it doesn’t mean how old you
are?” demanded Kitty.

“Never mind that,” resumed Marjorie; “we mustn’t say a word about her
age. I know that much myself. But, you see, we did upset her awf’ly when
we bounced the Simpsons right into the middle of her grand dinner party,
and I don’t think she ever got over it.”

“She’s been nice about it, though,” said King, thoughtfully.

“Yes, she has. Hasn’t scolded us hardly a bit about it. And that’s just
why I think we might do something nice for her on her birthday, to sort
of make up, you know.”

“Hooray!” cried King. “That _is_ a good idea, Mops. Let’s have a regular
celebration for her.”

“And let’s keep it secret,” said Kitty. “A surprise is most of the fun
of a birthday party.”

“All right,” agreed Midget. “Only I don’t mean a party, you know. For a
party, for her, we’d have to invite grown-ups—and we can’t do that. I
mean just a celebration in the afternoon to show her that we remember
her birthday.”

“And that we’re sorry we spoiled her dinner party,” added Kitty.

“Yep,” said King. “Now, what sort of a celebration have you thought of,
Mopsy?”

“Well, I haven’t finished thinking yet, but I had a sort of idea of a
parade.”

“With drums and banners?” cried King, eagerly.

“Oh, I’ll tell you,” broke in Kitty, “we’ll have floats!”

“Floats?” echoed the other two.

“Yes,” declared Kitty, warming to her subject; “floats, like they had in
the big parade in New York.”

The magnitude of this idea nearly took away the breath of her hearers,
but they rose to the occasion.

“Jiminy Crickets!” cried King, “you do beat all, Kit! ’Course we’ll have
floats—gay ones, you bet!”

Marjorie’s eyes shone, as her imagination ran riot.

“We’ll get all the Jinks Club in it,” she said, “and we’ll each have a
float. How shall we make the floats, Kit?”

“Oh, easy enough,” said that capable young person, with a toss of her
head. “You just take an express wagon, or a doll’s carriage, or anything
on wheels——”

“A soap box?” broke in King.

“Yes, a soap box—anything you can drag, you know. And then you decorate
it all up fancy, like the big floats were.”

“Oh, Kitty!” cried Marjorie in rapture, “it will be perfectly elegant!
Paper flowers and flags and bunting—oh!”

It was a grand scheme. Of course, it was all in honor of Miss Larkin’s
birthday, but incidentally the Jinksies bid fair to get their own fun
out of it, too.

“We’ll have a meeting of the Jinks Club to-morrow,” said Marjorie, “and
we’ll have it over at Delight’s, so Miss Larkin won’t hear what we say.
Do we all parade with these floats?”

“Yes,” said Kitty, who was always director of a costume party. “We must
all dress up, you know, and then drag our float behind us, or push it,
if it’s a doll’s carriage.”

“There are two express wagons down cellar,” said King; “Rosy Posy’s, and
the one that used to be mine when I was a kid.”

From the dignity of his fourteen years, King looked back at his toy
express wagon with disdain. But viewed as a “float,” it was a different
matter.

“We’ll have to decorate the floats somewhere else besides here,” said
Marjorie. “For if we set out to keep it secret from Miss Larkin, let’s
do it.”

“All right; I guess Flip Henderson’s father will let us work on ’em in
their barn. They only use the garage now, and the barn is pretty much
empty.”

“Where’ll we get the other three floats?” asked Marjorie. “Our two
express wagons, and Rosy Posy’s doll-carriage are all we have.”

“Dorothy has a doll-carriage,” said Kitty, “and Flip can find some sort
of a rig.”

“Oh, yes,” said King. “We can fix up something, if it’s only a box on
wheels; and then you girls can decorate it.”

“Shall we each make one float, or all make all of ’em?” asked Marjorie,
who was thinking out details.

“Both,” said Kitty, enigmatically; “I mean, we’ll each plan out our own,
and make it; and then, if we can help each other, we will.”

“I don’t know how the others will like it,” observed King; “they’ll be
doing all this work for us, really.”

“No, they won’t,” said Midget; “it’s just a new sort of jinks, that’s
all. Then, of course, we’ll all come in here, and have the celebration,
and have a feast, and if they don’t like that—I don’t know why.”

“Shall we give her presents?”

“Yes, of course. Little things, you know. I’ve only got about
thirty-five cents left of my allowance.”

“I’ve only ten,” said Kitty, “but I’ll make something for her—a
pincushion, maybe.”

“H’sh! here she comes!” whispered King, warningly, and the plans were
dropped for the present, as Miss Larkin came into the room.

“Well, little busy ones,” she said, “what are you doing now? Plotting
some mischief?”

“No, Miss Larkin,” said Midget. “Truly it’s not mischief this time.
Though King did say he was spoiling for some,” she added, with a
laughing glance at her brother.

“Yes, I did,” he retorted; “and I think I’ll have some! Girls, let’s
tease Larky!”

It was a strange thing, but the young Maynards always knew instinctively
when Miss Larkin was in a mood to be teased, and would take it
good-naturedly, or when she was in an austere mood, and would be angry
if they trifled with her dignity.

But her indulgent smile at King’s words was the signal for a general
attack.

“All right; what shall we do with her?” cried Kitty.

“I’ll tell you!” exclaimed Marjorie, and she ran across the hall to the
drawing-room. “Come and help me, King,” she called back.

And in a moment the two returned, lugging a tall, heavy cathedral
candlestick, which was one of their mother’s antique treasures.

It was of old brass, and was about six feet high. They stood this in the
middle of the floor, and gravely announced that she was to be Joan of
Arc, burnt at the stake.

“Here’s the stake,” said King, “and you’re the ill-fated Joan. You must
meet your fate bravely. Step up, Joan!”

Miss Larkin, giggling at their nonsense, stepped up, and stood against
the candlestick. Meantime Kitty had procured lots of string, and with
this they bound the helpless martyr to the stake.

“Miscreant!” began King, who loved to speechify.

“Oh, no,” corrected Marjorie. “Joan of Arc wasn’t a miscreant—she was a
martyr.”

“Well, martyr, then; Miss Martyr, I should say, we now bind thee to thy
death pyre. Remember, oh remember, the misdeeds——”

“Oh, King,” cried Kitty, “you’re all wrong! I’ll make the speech. Oh,
fair martyr, who art thus brought low, forgive thy tyrants——”

“Who have struck the blow!” chimed in King. “I say, what was Joan burned
up for, anyway? I ought to know, but I don’t.”

“Oh, read up your history afterward,” cried Marjorie, impatiently.
“Here, now we’ll build the fire round her!”

With a dozen sofa-pillows, they built a very respectable fire, and by
putting the red ones on tops anybody could imagine a blazing flame.

“Now, you must burn and shrivel up,” commanded Kitty, and to their
intense delight Miss Larkin entered quite into the spirit of the game.

“Burn me not up!” she cried; “I but did my duty!”

“Duty, forsooth!” shouted King. “You rode a white horse——”

“To Banbury Cross,” supplemented Kitty, as her brother paused for
breath.

At this, Joan of Arc giggled so hard, that she almost choked, and her
humane captors loosed her bonds and set her free.

“You’re a brick, Larky,” said King; “why, even Mother can’t play our
romping games as good as you do. You’ll have to have a reward!”

A tremendous wink at his sisters reminded them of the coming
celebration, and they made warning faces at him, for King was apt to
tell secrets unintentionally sometimes.

But after dinner, apparently for no reason at all, Miss Larkin’s mood
changed. She spoke in stern tones. She commanded the children to study
their lessons quietly, and then go straight to bed.

“What’s up?” said King to Marjorie, making no sound, but moving his
lips.

“Dunno,” she replied, in the same silent way, as they opened their
schoolbooks.

Half an hour later, they filed quietly upstairs, and paused only for a
moment’s whispered conversation on the landing.

“Now, what _do_ you s’pose ailed her?” asked King.

“I know,” said Kitty, confidently; “she was sort of ashamed of having
played Joan of Arc with us, and it made her more strict than ever.”

“I guess that was it,” said Marjorie, with a sigh. “But the
celebration’s off. I’m not going to make floats for an old crosspatch.”

“Oh, pshaw!” said King. “You know how she is. She’ll be sweet as pie on
her birthday—you see if she isn’t. And, anyway, we’ll get as much fun
out of the floats and things as she will.”

This was true enough, so they said good-night, and separated.

“It’s funny,” said Marjorie to Kitty, after they reached their own room;
“Mother and Father are always just the same,—even—you know. But Miss
Larkin is awful indulgent one minute, and strict as anything the next.”

“That’s ’cause she _isn’t_ Mother and Father,” said Kitty, wisely.
“She’s an old maid lady, you know, and she doesn’t know how to treat
children properly.”

“You mustn’t say ‘old maid,’ Kit; it isn’t polite.”

“I don’t see why. But, I only mean, it takes a father or a mother to
behave _right_ to children. You know how ours are.”

“Yes, I do,” said Marjorie, in a contented voice. “They’re just ’bout
perfect. And I wish they’d come home.”

“Well, it’s no use wishing; they’ll be gone more’n two weeks yet.”

“Yes; so they will. And I guess we’ll have the celebration, Kit; it’ll
fill up the time so.”

“All right,” said Kitty, sleepily, and then the two girls hopped into
their two little white beds.

The next afternoon the Jinks Club met at Delight’s. As they were
planning the celebration, they behaved quietly, as, indeed, they were
always expected to do at Mrs. Spencer’s.

The Jinksies were quite ready to help with a birthday pageant for Miss
Larkin.

They saw at once the possibilities of a lot of fun for themselves, and
if, incidentally, it gave a grown-up lady pleasure, they had no
objection, and, indeed, were rather glad.

“’Course we’ll build the floats in our barn,” said Flip Henderson.
“It’ll be gay. I’ll use a wheelbarrow for mine. I know just how I’ll fix
it! You needn’t laugh, either. Just wait till you see it!”

Though the idea of a wheelbarrow had made them laugh at first, they
quickly realized its possibilities, and, too, Flip was an ingenious boy,
and would doubtless fix it up beyond all recognition. Dorothy had a
doll’s carriage, which she said she would use; and Delight said she
would borrow a neighbor’s baby-carriage, as that would be just right for
the float she already had in mind.

“Oh, won’t it be lovely!” cried Marjorie, hugging Delight in her
enthusiasm. “Shall we know about each other’s floats or keep ’em
secret?”

“Oh, let’s know about ’em,” said King; “it’s more fun, and then we can
help each other. I know I couldn’t make one alone.”

He looked helplessly at his sisters, and Marjorie said:

“’Course you couldn’t. We’ll make paper flowers and whatever you need.
Now, let’s decide on our floats. Shall we have ’em historical?”

“Oh, no!” cried Delight; “I thought you meant just pretty ones. Mine’s
going to be fairies.”

“Lovely!” exclaimed Kitty. “I’ll have mine mermaids. I saw a beautiful
one in New York with mermaids.”

“Huh!” said Flip, “you can’t make mermaids, Kit; you’re crazy. How would
you do it?”

“I’ll bet she can!” said King, whose faith in Kitty’s inventive genius
was unbounded.

“I know I can,” said Kitty, calmly. “I’ll just take some of Rosy Posy’s
dolls—her biggest ones—and then I’ll make long taily things of green
silk or something, and stuff ’em with sawdust, and stick the dolls’ feet
in, and sew ’em round the waist. Oh, it’ll be as easy as pie!”

“I told you so,” said King, looking proudly at his small sister. “Now,
what shall I have, Kit?”

“Oh, you must think of your own subject, and then I’ll help you rig it
up.”

“All right,” said King; “my float will be sort of historical, after all.
I’ll have the discovery of the North Pole.”

“Fine!” exclaimed Marjorie. “I’ll help you, too! We’ll make a whole
Arctic region of cotton batting, like we had at the bazaar last winter!”

“I haven’t decided on mine yet,” said Flip, who was thinking hard. “The
rest of you can choose first.”

“We’ve all chosen, but Dorothy and me,” said Midget; “and I know what
mine’ll be. What’s yours, Dot?”

“I guess I’ll just have flowers,” said Dorothy, timidly. She was not so
energetic as the others.

“Do,” said Kitty; “you’ll be sweet as a flower girl, and your float can
be all flowers, with butterflies hovering over it, on sort of strings.”

“Oh,” cried Delight, with dancing eyes, “this will be a splendid show!
We ought to let more people see it!”

“Say we do!” said Flip. “Let’s parade all the way down Broad Avenue from
our house to yours. Everybody will be glad to look at us!”

“I rather guess they will!” declared King. “All right, we’ll do that,
and we’ll have Miss Larkin waiting for us on our verandah, and all march
up in great style. Then, of course, you Jinksies will all come in to the
celebration feast.”

“I s’pose we’ll have a Birthday Cake,” suggested Kitty.

“That’s going to be my float!” interrupted Marjorie. “I’ve just thought
of it. A great, big cake, like a Jack Horner Pie, you know. And candles
on it, and icing; and presents and things inside! Ellen will help me
make it. I mean a great big one, as big as a barrel top. Then on an
express wagon, or something like that, and decorated, it will be a
float.”

“Fine!” agreed King. “If Larky doesn’t like her birthday this year, it
won’t be our fault, will it?”

After some more animated discussion of the wonderful project, the
Jinksies had their usual light refection of cookies and lemonade, and
then departed for their homes.

“Meet in Henderson’s barn, at nine o’clock, to-morrow morning,” said
King, as they separated. “Bring your doll-carts, girls, and Delight, if
you can’t borrow Mrs. Phillips’ baby-carriage, I’ll fix you up a float.
She may want it for her baby’s use, you know.”

“Well, I’ll see, King. I think she’ll let me have it, though.”

The laughing crowd went across the street, and then separated again as
the Maynards turned in at their own gateway.

ALL day Saturday the members of the Jinks Club were busy making their
“floats.” Delight came in triumph, pushing a wicker baby-carriage ahead
of her.

“Mrs. Phillips let me have it,” she said, “because she says the baby
uses the go-cart ’most all the time now, anyway.”

In the carriage she had many rolls of tissue paper, and a big bundle of
tarlatan, and gilt paper and wands, and all sorts of fascinating things.
Delight loved to cut and paste, and long before the others began their
work, she had flung off hat and coat, and was singing to herself as she
made pink and white paper roses.

Kitty, too, was industrious, and she sat in a corner and sewed mermaids’
tails diligently, but she was able to do her share of the talking as
well.

“What’s your float going to be, Flip?” she asked, not very clearly, by
reason of some pins between her teeth.

“Now, don’t you all laugh at me,” began Flip, looking a little
uncertain, “but as King says his float is historical, mine’s going to
be, too. Mine’s the ‘Declaration of Independence.’”

“Laugh!” exclaimed Kitty; “I should say we wouldn’t! Why, that’ll be
grand, Flip. How are you going to do it?”

“Well; it’s all done—that is, it’s partly done. I haven’t fixed up the
wheelbarrow yet.”

It was hard not to laugh at Flip—he was so earnest, and yet so humorous
of face.

“Wait, I’ll show you,” he said; and then, from an adjoining room in the
barn, he wheeled in a broad, old-fashioned wheelbarrow, on which sat a
Roger’s Group!

“That’s it,” he said, proudly. “I found that old bunch of statesmen up
in the attic, and Mother said I could use it if I liked. Now, I say,
when that dinky old wheelbarrow is all draped with a flag it’ll look
pretty fine, hey?”

“Gorgeous!” said Midget, with enthusiasm. “Your float is all right,
Flip. You just wind those legs and handles and the wheel with red,
white, and blue bunting, and there you are!”

“Well, I thought I’d paint the wheel. Blue rim with white stars on it,
and red and white spokes, hey?”

“Yes, better plan,” said King. “Stuff’ll get all twisted in the wheel.
Now, here’s my express wagon, and here’s my North Pole. Who’ll help me
build an Arctic Region?”

“I will,” said Delight, dropping her paper flowers into the
baby-carriage. “I can do mine afterward. Let me help you, King. I know
just how.”

“You’re a brick, Flossy Flouncy!” exclaimed King, as he watched
Delight’s deft little fingers pile fleecy cotton batting round his North
Pole in most realistic snowdrifts.

“I can’t do anything on my float to-day,” announced Kitty. “I have to
get the mermaids done first, and they’re such a bother.”

“You make them too carefully,” said Dorothy, as she watched Kitty
patiently sewing spangles over the green fish-tails that were to
transform Rosamond’s dolls into mermaids.

“I don’t care,” said painstaking Kitty, “I like to have them nice. And
Delight will help me fix the float, won’t you?”

“’Course I will. We’ll all help each other. Where’s your float,
Dorothy?”

“Well, I’m going to take Mother’s old flower-stand, the kind with
shelves, you know. She doesn’t use it now, and she says I may have it.
And I’m just going to set it on a flat platform with wheels; Flip says
he’ll make me one; and then just cram it all over with flowers. That’s
all.”

“It will be lovely!” declared Delight; “there’s nothing so pretty as
flowers.”

Under Miss Hart’s wise tuition, and because she was truly trying to be
less selfish, Delight was becoming a veritable little sunbeam. Everybody
liked her, and as she tried to be sweet and helpful, she found it was
not difficult, after all.

And now, in all this business of fancy fixings and decorations,
Delight’s nimble fingers and good taste were of great assistance.

Marjorie was working away at her “birthday cake.” It was a large
pasteboard bandbox, round, of course, and low. She was covering it with
white crêpe paper, and making tiny festoons of the paper round the edge
to look like fancy icing.

On top she pasted gilt letters, which read, “To Miss Larkin, from the
Jinks Club.” Inside were to be the presents, of course.

“But I don’t want you other Jinksies to give presents to Miss Larkin,”
said Marjorie. “There’s no reason why you should, you know. Just us
Maynards will give the presents; and we’re not going to give much.”

“Oh, pooh,” said Flip; “let us chip in, too; it won’t hurt us to give
some little thing. Mother’ll get a handkerchief or something for me to
give, I know.”

“Yes, let us,” said Delight. “In fact, my mother spoke of it herself.
She said she’d get a little book for me to give.”

“Of course, I’ll give something, too,” said Dorothy Adams. “I’d like to.
And I think it would be nice if we gave things to each other, too. It
would fill up the pie—cake, I mean.”

“Ho!” said Flip; “’tisn’t our birthdays, Dot.”

“I don’t care,” said Dorothy, stoutly. She rarely made a suggestion, but
when she did, she stood by it. “I mean just some little thing—a paper
doll or a hair-ribbon.”

“Well,” said King, “I’d just love to have a paper doll; and as for a
hair-ribbon, I need one awfully!”

Then they all laughed, but Dorothy would not be laughed down.

“Well,” she said, “your few little presents for Miss Larkin will just
rattle round in that great big pie.”

“You’re right, Dot,” said Kitty, who generally saw matters very
sensibly. “Let’s give each other presents, only not everybody to
everybody else. I mean, let’s each give one present, and get one
present.”

“Oh, Kit, you mix me up so,” groaned her brother. “Tell us more
’splicitly.”

“All right,” said Kitty, undisturbed, “here’s what I mean. S’pose Mops
gives to Delight, and Delight to King, and King to Dorothy, and Dorothy
to me, and me—I, to Flip, and then Flip to Midget—that makes one
apiece all round, doesn’t it?”

“Katharine Maynard, you’re a genius!” declared her brother; “you’ve set
my head whizzing, but I grasp your idea. Now, let me see, who is it
gives me a paper doll?”

“Delight does,” returned Kitty, calmly; “and if you tease so, she _will_
give you a paper doll, and it would serve you right, too!”

“Yes, it would,” said King, so meekly, that they all laughed. “And on
whom do I bestow a diamond necklace, or some such little trinket?”

“On me,” said Dorothy, promptly; “Kitty said so.”

“All right,” said King, “your scheme, fair maidens, is a winner. Into
the pie our gifts we’ll throw—ha, ha, ha, and ho, ho, ho!”

“King, you’re a lovely poet,” said Marjorie, “but won’t you come here
now and help me fasten this pie on its wheels?”

“Certingly, certingly, my liege lady; hast any tackerinos?”

“No; but here’s a hammerino. Can’t you find some nails?”

“Ay, ay, in just a jiff!”

And sure enough, in a few moments Marjorie’s big birthday cake sat
proudly on a board across an express wagon, which, though a toy, was a
good-sized affair.

“Now for the fiddle-de-dees!” cried King, as he picked up a pile of
paper roses and strewed them on the cake.

“Oh, King, stop! You’ll spoil it!” cried Marjorie, rescuing her
treasures from her teasing brother. “But I wish you would help me put
the candle-holders on.”

They had plenty of candle-holders left from Christmas trees, and the
next question was, how many they should put on the cake.

“Put ’em all on,” said Flip, without hesitation.

“But there are seven dozen here in the box,” said Marjorie; “that would
look as if we thought she was eighty-four years old!”

“She isn’t,” said Kitty, seriously; “so that won’t do.”

Marjorie looked thoughtful.

“I don’t think it’s polite to put the number of her age on,” she said,
at last. “We don’t know it, of course, but even if we guess at it, it
wouldn’t be polite.”

“No,” agreed Kitty, “you see, we might guess right.”

“I suppose she’s more’n twenty-one,” observed Flip.

“Yes, she is,” declared King. “She’s older than my mother, I know that.”

“Hush, King,” said Midget; “you mustn’t even talk about it. I guess
we’ll have to leave the candles off.”

“Then it won’t be a birthday cake at all,” objected Delight.

“Well, I can’t help it,” said Marjorie, sighing; “it’ll have to be a
Jack Homer Pie, then. I can’t be impolite to a lady on her own
birthday!”

“I’ll tell you what,” said Kitty, slowly; and they all listened, for
Kitty had a way of cutting Gordian knots for them. “You see, as we’re
all going to get presents, it’s sort of our birthdays, too; not really,
but just pretend. So let’s add up all our ages—that’ll make a lot, and
then have that many candles. We can explain to Miss Larkin that we don’t
mean she’s that old.”

“Be sure to explain that to her, Kit,” said her brother, gravely, after
he had made a rapid calculation with the aid of his fingers and thumbs,
“for it comes to about seventy!”

“Add in Rosy Posy,” reminded Marjorie. “She can’t be left out of a
Maynard celebration.”

“All right; call it seventy-five. Got that many candles, Mops?”

“Yes, more’n that.”

“Well, put on seventy-five, and call it square.”

“But the cake is round,” said Delight, dimpling with fun.

“Oh, Flossy Flouncy, what a wit you are!” cried King. “All right, Mops,
let’s bang the seventy-five candle-holders into place, immejit. My, it’s
a lot, isn’t it?”

But they were finally all in place, and Marjorie’s float began to look
really lovely. She had plenty of paper flowers to decorate with, and
when the birthday came, she intended to wreathe the big cake with
smilax, and festoon the sides of the float with the same pretty green.

“It isn’t such a lot of work, after all,” said Delight, as, when the
noon whistle blew, the children put on their things to go home.

“Poor old Flossy Flouncy,” said King; “how can you say so? You’ve been
helping everybody else so much, your own wagon is scarcely touched.”

“Oh, pooh!” said Delight, “I can finish that up this afternoon, or
Monday afternoon, after school. What time is the parade, Marjorie?”

“Well, we want to start early, so as to have plenty of time for the
celebration afterward. S’pose we say, leave the barn at three
o’clock——”

“Oh, don’t say barn!” exclaimed Delight; “it doesn’t sound right. Say
leave the——”

“Headquarters,” suggested King. “No; that sounds like a fire brigade.
Leave the Castle or the Palace, I’d say.”

“All right,” said Flip; “we’ve always called this place the barn, but
we’d just as lieve change. Henderson Palace it is, at your service!”

“That’s better,” said Delight, smiling at him.

“Well, then,” went on Marjorie, “we’ll leave Henderson Palace at three
o’clock next Wednesday, and, with our gorgeous floats, we’ll parade down
Broad Avenue to Maynard Castle—how’s that?”

“All right,” said Kitty; “then we’ll storm Castle Maynard, and take the
fair Lady Larkin captive.”

“If she’s in a good humor,” put in King.

“She’s bound to be, on her birthday,” said Midge. “Well, then we’ll make
her and Rosy Posy queens of the feast, and then we’ll all celebrate
together.”

“Sounds lovely!” said Dorothy. “And do we wear fancy dresses?”

“Sure!” said King. “Half the fun is in rigging up. We must each match
our float, you know. I’ll be an Arctic explorer.”

“You can have Father’s fur motor-coat,” said Flip; “then you’ll look the
part first-rate.”

“Good,” said King; “and I know where I can catch a pair of snowshoes.
What’ll you be, Delight?”

“A fairy, of course. But can we go through the street in that sort of
rigs?”

“Oh, yes,” said Marjorie; “just down Broad Avenue. Everybody knows us.
And, anyway, it’s just like the pageant in New York; they went on the
streets in fancy clothes.”

“It’s more like the Baby Parade in Asbury Park,” said Dorothy; “I saw
that once, and the children wore all sorts of pretty costumes. And they
had baby-carriages, decked out with every sort of thing.”

“All right, then,” said Midget, who was vigorously pulling on her
gloves; “I guess I’ll fix up my fancy dress this afternoon, and finish
up these float things Monday and Tuesday. We’ve time enough, anyway.”

“Yes,” said Delight, “that’s what I said. It doesn’t take long to make
floats.” She tucked her arm through Marjorie’s, and the two skipped
away, followed by Dorothy and Kitty.

“What have you children been doing all the morning?” asked Miss Larkin,
as they were all seated at the lunch-table.

“Playing in Mr. Henderson’s barn,” said Marjorie, promptly.

This was well enough, but Miss Larkin, who was in high good humor,
seemed possessed to ask questions.

“What did you play?” she said.

She really had no curiosity on the subject, she asked merely with a
desire to appear interested in their interests, but it did seem a pity
she should be so insistent to-day of all days.

“Oh, we played——” began Marjorie, and then she stopped. She had no
inclination to be other than truthful, but the truth she did not want to
tell.

“Well, we played——” supplemented King, with a desire to help Marjorie
out of her quandary, but he, too, came to a standstill.

“Well, well!” said Miss Larkin, shaking a playful finger at the
red-faced trio, “you must have been up to something naughty, if you
can’t tell me about it. Oh, fie, fie, little Maynards!”

When Miss Larkin took this tone, she was particularly aggravating, and
it was Kitty who threw herself into the breach, and saved the day by her
ready wit.

“Larky, dear,” she began, and Miss Larkin smiled gaily at the nickname,
“we truly weren’t up to any mischief, but we beg you as a special favor
not to ask us what we were doing—because—well, because it’s a sort of
a secret.”

“A secret, bless your hearts! Then, of course, I don’t want to know. All
children love secrets. Keep yours, my dearies; I didn’t mean to be
curious, I assure you.”

Now here was a nice spirit, indeed! Such a Larky was well worth making a
celebration for, and the children’s spirits rose accordingly.

After luncheon, Ellen had to be interviewed.

With great secrecy, and much careful closing of doors, Marjorie and
Kitty held a whispered consultation with the good-natured cook.

Ellen consented to all their requests. She agreed to make a birthday
cake of real flour and eggs, besides the “float” cake, and she seemed
more than willing to prepare a feast that would be acceptable to a
hungry Jinks Club, as well as to the heroine of the occasion.

All was to be kept secret from Miss Larkin, so that the celebration
might be a complete surprise.

“Ice cream, of course,” whispered Kitty.

“Sure, Miss Kitty,” said Ellen. “Wud ye like it pink an’ white, now; or
wid a bit o’ choc’lit?”

“Just pink and white,” said Kitty, after a moment’s consideration; “and
then choc’late on the cakes, Ellen. Little cakes, you know; all
different colors.”

“Lave all to me, Miss Kitty; sure I’ll fix the table so grand as ye
niver saw it afore. It’s likin’ Miss Larkin, I do be; though I’ll not
deny she’s a bit quare at times. But she’s a kind lady, an’ I’m glad
she’s goin’ to have a party.”

“Now, we must think up our presents,” said Midget, as the two girls went
up to their own room. “What shall we give Miss Larkin?”

“Well, I’ll make her a pincushion, as I said. I can make a lovely one
out of pink with lace over it, and little bows.”

“Yes, you’re good at those things, Kit. I can’t sew very well; I guess
I’ll get her a bottle of violet water. Mother always thinks that’s a
nice present. And then we must see about presents for each other, you
know. I’m to give to Delight, so that’s easy. She likes everything. I
guess I’ll take one of those lovely views Mother sent last, and frame it
in passe-partout; she can hang it on her bedroom wall.”

“That’ll be lovely,” said Kitty. “You make those frames so neatly, Mops.
But I have to think of something for Flip; that’s awful hard.”

“Oh, no, ’tisn’t; make some of that cocoanut fudge—the new recipe; and
then fill a pretty box, and tie it up with a ribbon. He’ll love it.”

“That is a good idea; I believe I’ll do that. I won’t make it until
Wednesday morning; I can do it before school, and then it’ll be fresh.”

“Yes,” agreed Midget, “and while you’re about it, Kit, make enough, so
we can have some, too.”

APRIL had only used up about a week of her showers and sunshine, and the
Jinks Club feared she might send a few of her mischievous raindrops on
their parade, but when the birthday came at last, the weather was quite
as smiling as the faces of the six paraders.

The floats were finished, and though some were the least bit wobbly,
their owners fondly hoped they would last through the line of march.
Miss Hart had agreed to go over to call on Miss Larkin that afternoon,
in order to insure the presence of the Birthday Lady at the right time.

Nurse Nannie promised to have Rosy Posy in gala attire, and ready to
take her part in the festivities.

The fancy costumes had been taken over to Flip’s house, and Mrs.
Henderson was quite willing to assist the little masqueraders in their
toilettes.

Indeed, she said the children looked so pretty, it was too bad they were
not going to be on exhibition at some bazaar or entertainment. Just at
three o’clock the parade started.

Kingdon went first. He was a tall boy for his years, and so Mr.
Henderson’s fur motor-coat just escaped touching the ground. The April
sunshine was a bit warmish, but King valiantly encased himself in his
furs, cap, earflaps, and all, and rather awkwardly stumbling along on
his snowshoes, dragged his float behind him.

The float itself was beautiful. With Delight’s help, King had arranged
an Arctic Region of cotton snowdrifts, from the centre of which rose a
most imposing North Pole. This was white, also, and glistening with the
tinsel frost that is used for Christmas trees. To its top was nailed the
Stars and Stripes, and the flag fluttered proudly as the float wobbled
along. A crowning glory was seen in good-sized lumps of real ice that
nestled among the white drifts. And over these realistic glaciers
clambered white “Teddy Bears,” of which Rosy Posy’s “Boffin” was perhaps
the finest specimen. Also, an Eskimo doll, borrowed from the Maynard
nursery, added local color to the scene.

The float would have done credit to a grown-up, and King pulled it
proudly along, though hampered by his rather unmanageable snowshoes and
cumbersome coat.

“Old King Cole, discovered the Pole,” chanted Delight, as King started
down the Hendersons’ driveway, and then they all took up the refrain and
repeated it with enthusiasm.

The second float was Delight’s. Fairies, of course, as they were her
specialty. She was dressed as a fairy herself, and on her lovely golden
hair rested a gilt paper crown, with tall points. A long gilt wand, with
a star on the end, was her sceptre, and her frock of white tarlatan was
made with many frills, and spangled with gilt stars. Two gauzy wings
fluttered from her shoulders, and her white slippers showed a tiny gilt
star on each.

“Oh, Delight,” cried Marjorie. “You do look too perfectly lovely for
anything! Doesn’t she, Mrs. Henderson?”

“Yes, indeed,” returned that lady, smiling; “but you all look so lovely,
it’s hard to choose among you.”

Delight pushed her float, instead of drawing it, for it was the wicker
baby-carriage that she had borrowed; but so transformed, that not a
speck of wicker could be seen. It was twined and draped with green and
white tarlatan; from its wicker hood, or top, depended filmy curtains,
which were tied back to afford a view of the fairy scene inside. Here,
in a sort of little bower, were dolls dressed as fairies, dancing round
in a magic ring.

But, dainty as they were, no doll was so sweet as Delight, herself, with
her golden hair flying, and her pretty face smiling at the fun of it
all.

Fairy bells hung round the edges of the float, and jingled as it rolled
along.

Delight stepped slowly, lest she run into the North Pole, whose brave
explorer floundered on, guiding his snowshoes as best he might.

Then, after the Fairy Float, came Dorothy, the Flower Girl.

Her mother had fixed up a charming costume from one of Dorothy’s own
pretty little frocks, by sewing tiny artificial roses all over it. A
wreath of flowers on her head made her look almost like a May Queen.

Her float, though not so ingenious as some, was quite as pretty as any.

The old-fashioned flower-stand, of green wire, was filled with growing
spring flowers in pots, and the pots were concealed by smilax and
asparagus fern. The body and wheels of the float were covered entirely
with pink and white paper roses, and the whole effect was of a mass of
blossoms.

Then came Kitty with her Mermaids. This float was the most ambitious of
all, and though a success, it was liable to drop to pieces at any
minute. Kitty had tried to represent the billowy ocean, and her waves
were of dark-green cambric, with wires underneath to make the billows
wave. On this uncertain sea were perched several mermaids. These were
highly successful as works of art, for the spangled green tails, stuffed
with sawdust, looked just like those shown in pictures, and the flaxen
hair of the wax dolls’ heads was truly mermaidish.

Kitty, herself, proudly represented Undine. Some green tarlatan was
draped over her white frock, and paper seaweed hung all over her. A
wreath of artificial water-lilies was extremely becoming, and her long
hair hung in a curly mass.

Altogether, Kitty’s float was wonderful, and she was optimistic enough
to feel sure it would reach home in safety.

“Drive up near the North Pole, Kit,” sang out Flip; “then that jiggly
green ocean of yours will freeze, and there’ll be no danger of its
spilling over.”

“’Twon’t spill,” said Kitty, serenely, and Undine trundled her ocean
along happily, while the mermaids swayed about, and would have fallen
off, but that their tails were securely fastened to the wires.

After Kitty, came Marjorie. Her float was the Birthday Cake, and a fine
show it made.

Like Dorothy’s, the float itself was covered closely with pink and white
roses, for it was so easy to make paper roses, that they could have them
by hundreds. And there is nothing prettier for fanciful decoration.

High up on a rose-covered soap-box sat the cake; white, and
gilt-lettered, and wreathed about with fresh smilax. On it were the
seventy-five candles, not lighted yet, and inside it nestled all the
presents, tied in tissue paper and ribbons.

Midget, herself, wore a fancy costume she had once worn at a masquerade
party.

It was a “Folly” dress, and was in blue and white stripes, with little
bells on the pointed edges. There was a Folly cap with bells on, and the
gay little garb was most becoming to merry Midget.

Last of all came Flip. His wheelbarrow was stunning in its red, white
and blue draperies, and the Plaster Group of noble signers stood firmly
in place as he trundled the vehicle along. Flip wore a Continental suit,
and was supposed to represent George Washington, but as his white
cotton-wool wig proved rather warm, and he was not so patient as King,
he carried the wig and cocked hat under his arm, until he should reach
the party.

And so, his round, freckled face, and somewhat obstreperous hair,
surmounting the brass-buttoned blue coat, rather spoiled the illusion of
the Father of our Country.

“Hey, you!” called out King, from the other end of the parade, “put on
your head-rigging. You spoil the show!”

“Can’t help it,” Flip called back. “It’s too roasting hot! I’ll put it
on when we get there.”

“Hot! pooh!” shouted King, in scorn. “What d’you think of me! I’m
melting in this fur envelope, but I keep it on just the same!”

“All right, keep it on,” returned Flip, amicably, and the incident was
closed.

Slowly, and thoroughly enjoying themselves, the parade moved down Broad
Avenue.

People flew to the windows to watch them, or stepped out on their
verandahs to see them go by. They received great applause, and many
enthusiastic spectators begged them to stop a moment, or came out and
walked by their side to examine the curious floats. At last, they turned
into the Maynards’ place.

Flip hastily clapped on his wig and hat, and the parade marched up the
drive.

“Ought to have had music!” exclaimed King. “Never thought of it till
this minute!”

“Sing,” suggested Delight.

“All right; start her up.”

But asked so suddenly, Delight couldn’t think of anything appropriate.
In a frantic attempt, however, to supply the desired music, she began
“John Brown’s Body.”

Everybody joined in, lustily, and as the front door opened, and Miss
Hart gently pushed the bewildered Miss Larkin forward, a rousing “Glory,
glory, Hallelujah!” greeted her.

“What—what is it all?” cried the amazed lady, as right in front of her
was a strange-looking figure much like a clumsy bear, trying to make a
dancing-school bow, or rather, a dancing-bear bow, without tumbling over
his snowshoes.

“Go on, King!” shouted Marjorie. “March round.”

So King went on, and the parade slowly went round the big oval of the
Maynard front lawn two or three times.

Miss Larkin was fairly enraptured.

“For me! for my birthday!” she exclaimed, as Miss Hart explained it to
her. “Why, I never saw anything so wonderful! Go round again, children,
dear! Oh, you are fine!”

She clasped her hands in ecstasy, and Rosy Posy fairly screamed in
delight.

At last, they lined up the floats in front of the verandah, and then the
six, joining hands, repeated the birthday poem, which King had made up
for the occasion. Kitty thought it wasn’t very poetical, but she had
been too busy with her mermaids to make a poem herself, so they had all
learned King’s. They didn’t sing it, but they recited it in such a
sing-song voice, that it was just as good.

“Larky, Larky!
Harky, Harky!
To our Birthday ode.
While we sing
As we bring
Presents, quite a load!”

It wasn’t very poetical, perhaps, but the enthusiasm of its recital so
pleased Miss Larkin, that she wanted to have it repeated several times,
and her request was obligingly granted.

“Now,” said Marjorie, “shall we have the presentation of gifts first, or
the feast?”

“Gifts,” said practical Kitty; “then the supper, and then it will be
time for the party to be over. If it isn’t, we can play games.”

“You see,” said Midget, who had sidled up to Miss Larkin, “we thought we
disturbed your dinner party, when Mrs. Mortimer was here, so this is
sort of to make up, you know.”

“You dear child!” exclaimed Miss Larkin. “You didn’t need to ‘make up,’
but this is the most wonderful birthday party I ever saw, and I can’t
tell you how I appreciate it.”

“It’s a celebration,” explained Marjorie. “There are floats, you know,
and altogether it’s a pageant, like they have in New York. Isn’t it
grand! And the float that I dragged is your birthday cake. We’re going
to take it in the house to open it.”

“And we don’t think you’re seventy-five years old,” broke in Kitty. “We
know you’re not. But the candles stand for our ages, because we don’t
want to be impolite to you.”

“Yes, that’s all right,” said Miss Hart, heading off any further
allusions to the age of the lady who was receiving all this honor. “Now,
let’s get the cake into the house. Where shall we put it?”

“Well,” said Midget, considering, “if we have the presents first, let’s
open the cake before we go into the dining-room. So let’s take it into
the living-room.”

“Right, oh!” exclaimed King, and he and Flip carried the big cake
indoors and they all followed.

Marjorie and Kitty, as chief hostesses, each took Miss Larkin’s arm, and
escorted her to a seat of honor.

“Now, Larky, Larky—harky, harky!” said King, with a flourish. “We
hereby present you with this beautiful birthday cake, from your loving
friends of the Jinks Club.”

King had discarded his fur coat and snowshoes, but he had grabbed a few
garlands of paper flowers from Dorothy’s float, so that he would still
look in festive array.

“I am overcome,” said Miss Larkin, who seemed really bewildered at this
further compliment offered her.

“Of course you are!” rejoined King. “We expected you to be. We’d have
been much disappointed if you hadn’t been overcome. Now, that’s all
right, so please recover your equilibrium, and we’ll proceed to see what
happens ‘when the pie was opened.’”

“Very well,” smiled Miss Larkin; “go ahead. I can stand it now.”

Then King and Flip lifted off the cover of the big box, and left exposed
the great pile of dainty parcels. Everybody had a gift, and, of course,
Miss Larkin had a great many.

Though not of great value, they were all dainty and pretty little
souvenirs, and Miss Larkin had real tears in her eyes, as she received
one after another.

“It’s like Christmas!” exclaimed Flip, as he smiled with pleasure at the
box of fudge given him by Kitty.

“Don’t open it now,” warned King; “take it home with you; ’cause we’re
going to the dining-room in a minute.”

“All right,” said Flip, “but it looks greedy not to pass it around.”

“No, it doesn’t,” said Kitty; “’cause it’s your present. It only just
happens to be a pass arounder. If it was a paper doll or a hair ribbon,
you couldn’t pass it around. So—you see.”

“I see,” agreed Flip, laying the box aside, but he did feel a little
embarrassed about it.

However, just then Sarah threw open the dining-room doors, and they all
marched out. King offered his arm to Miss Larkin, and Flip followed,
escorting Miss Hart, who, though not taking an active part, was of great
assistance in her pleasant, unostentatious way. The girls followed, and
Rosy Posy toddled along with them.

Ellen and Sarah had really outdone themselves in arranging an attractive
feast. No one had helped them, but the experienced servants knew well
just what to do.

In the centre of the table was a large, round birthday cake, which could
really be eaten. It was covered with white frosting, and in pink
frosting were the initials of Miss Larkin’s name, and the date of the
day, with no reference to the year.

Dainty sandwiches were served first, with lemonade or milk, as the
children chose.

Then there were little fancy cakes, and ice cream, and lovely jelly, and
bon-bons, and nuts, and fruit, and every sort of delicacy that Ellen
considered appropriate.

And then, as a final ceremony, the birthday cake was cut. Miss Larkin
cut it herself, as was appropriate, and as she plunged the knife into
the rich plum cake, she declared she was inspired to make a speech.

“Speech! Speech!” cried King, and they all clapped their hands and
cheered.

“Dear children,” began Miss Larkin, “I think you are the dearest and
best children I ever knew. I think it was sweet of you to do all this
for me on my birthday, and I shall never forget it.”

That was all of the speech, and if it was simple and short, it was also
most sincere and heartfelt.

The children were quiet for a moment—the earnest voice had made them a
little serious—and then Flip said, “Three cheers for Miss Larkin!” and
they gave them with a will.

As the noise subsided, Miss Larkin smiled and said:

“Three cheers for the Jinks Club!”

The club saw nothing incongruous in cheering themselves, so this cheer
was as loud as the first.

Then, the hours had slipped away so fast, it was really time to go home,
so the Jinks Club adjourned, after hearty good wishes and good-byes.

Thomas and James agreed to drag the floats back to Mr. Henderson’s barn,
to stay there until the Jinksies could attend to them.

So, after the guests had gone, the jolly crowd in the Maynard home spent
an enthusiastic hour in discussing every bit of the celebration all over
again, and congratulating themselves on its splendid success.

You may also like