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The Happy Club, A Recipe for Happiness

 

Take six little girls about ten years old; add three or four nice little boys, and mix them with the girls, taking care not to stir them up too much. Then take—

But perhaps you will understand it better if I tell you just how we did it.

This is how it began: I have a little friend named Annie, who comes to see me every Saturday. She tells me "all about everything," and we have very good times together. One day she told me a story she had read in Harper's Young People about a poor little girl who finds a doll in an ash barrel.

"I think it is a very nice story," said Annie, "and that lady says that we could all make pretty things for sick children if we wanted to. Oh dear! I wish I had lots and lots of money!"

"It does not always take much money to make pretty things," I said. "You can make six elephants for thirty cents."

"True elephants?" asked Annie, opening her blue eyes so wide that I was afraid of an accident.

"No," I said, "but very tame elephants, made of gray flannel, and with red saddle-cloths."

"Oh, I don't think they are pretty," she said.

Then I told her how I had once bought two elephants, a big one and a small one, and sent them to a sick little girl. And how, when I had gone to see her, she had said to me: "Them ollifans is too nice for anything, and they don't never bite me at all. The big ollifan is the mother, and she keeps me company; and the little one comes and puts his big nose under my chin to get warm. Oh, I just love them!"

After that I bought one more elephant, and killed him, and used his skin for a pattern, and made several other elephants, to be loved by little children.

"I know what I will do," said Annie; "I will make some kittens. Won't that be nice?"

I thought it might be very nice, if we could get a good pattern. And as she wanted to begin immediately, we looked in a box where I keep all sorts of remnants, and found a piece of red plush, which Annie declared "would be just the loveliest thing for a kitten."

As I had never seen a red kitten, I was a little doubtful; but since that time I have seen kittens red and pink and blue, and the children to whom they are given always fall in love with them at first sight.

But our kittens were not made in one day. We found it so difficult to cut a pattern that would "look like anything" that we had to send to a special artist in the city; and during the winter we spent a whole dollar for patterns of animals.

How we became a club happened in this way:

Annie was so delighted with the idea of making pretty things for other children that she spoke of it to several little girls, who said that they would like to make pretty things too. Then they came to see me, and after talking it over we decided to go to work at once, and to call ourselves "a club." We were to meet every Saturday, in my sitting-room, and I was to be president, secretary, treasurer, cutter, and general manager.

At first it was to be strictly a "ladies' club"; but Louis, Annie's little brother, said he "wanted to be a club too," and as he is a very nice boy, we took him in, and also two other boys who applied for admission. There are ten of us—six girls, three boys, and myself.

Now I will tell you what we do, and how we do it.

The club meets a little before eleven o'clock every Saturday morning. The members bring their lunches, and all the pennies, toys, pieces, picture-books, and new "good ideas" they have been able to collect during the week. We sit around a table in a bright sunny room, with a large bay-window filled with green plants. On each side of the window are book-cases, and behind the glass doors of one of these you can see beautiful dolls, kittens, dogs, elephants, and a variety of other works of art. These are our "pretty things," which were, most truly, "born to be admired." A deep locked drawer under the shelves contains the raw material from which our wonders are made, and in the southeast corner of it is safely hidden the bank in which our precious pennies are kept.

During the first half hour we work, make plans, and exchange ideas. Then comes the request, "Please tell us a story; tell us about when you were a little girl." And as I am a very obedient "manager," I do as I am told.

At half past twelve we go into the dining-room, where we have "a picnic in the woods." The big table represents a shady grove, the sideboard is a hill, a large ivy at one end of the room is a summer-house, and we sit on rocks and fallen trees. This gives us a little change of air, and, as everybody knows, change of air gives people a good appetite.

When our picnic is over, we go to work again, and as we are all in pretty high spirits, we are very funny and witty, if not very wise. We relate anecdotes, recite short "pieces," sing, guess riddles and conundrums, we play "our minister's cat," and other games, and, as Louis says, "we have jolly old times.".

Speaking of picnics reminds me of something that happened at our last meeting. The Saturday before, I had told my little friends about the French apple-tarts my grandmother used to make for me—"little pies," she called them. And as every member of the club wanted to know how they were made, I wrote nine short recipes, so that they would be sure to remember.

This gave me a good idea for "a secret."

When we went to the dining-room last Saturday, the children were surprised to find the table covered with a red cloth which was evidently hiding something.

Then I made a little speech: "We will not have a picnic to-day, but we will eat our lunch quietly on the top of our shady grove. Guess what I have for you."

"And guess what we have for you," answered nine little voices.

Instead of guessing, I lifted the cloth, while they opened their lunch-baskets. Then we all stared, and said, "Oh!"—a great big Oh!—for in a moment the table was all covered with apple-tarts, and in the middle of the tarts there was a large round apple-pie. You see, I had made the big pie for the children to eat, and several tarts to be taken home to their mothers; and they had all tried my recipe, and made tarts for the children, and some for me. So we had fifty-six tarts and the pie!

It would take too long to tell you everything about our little club; but so far it has been a success; and we have learned by experience how much pleasure can be given to others with a little trouble, and a great deal of goodwill.

As we shall not be able to do much sewing when the warm weather comes, we intend to do garden-work, and send plants and flowers to our little friends who have no gardens of their own. We are already making delightful plans for flower beds, hanging baskets, and window boxes, filled with nasturtiums, sweet-peas, and mignonette. And our plans look so beautiful on paper that I can almost smell the flowers.

And now do you not think that we were right to call our club the "Happy Club"?