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The Christmas Party by Unknown

 

Mr. and Mrs. Percy had seven grandchildren, all very pretty and very good. These children did not all have the same father and mother—that is, Mr. and Mrs. Percy's eldest son had three children, whose names were Mary, and Carry, and Thomas; and one of their daughters was married, and had three children—their names were Willy, and Bella, and Fanny; and their youngest son was married and had one child. Her name was Sarah. She was the youngest of the children, and they all loved her very much, and her Grandma made a great pet of her.

The children and their parents had been  invited to eat a Christmas dinner with their Grandma, and they had been promised a little dance in the evening. Even little Sarah was to go, and stay to the ball, as she called it. They were glad, for they liked to go to their dear Grandma's very much.

At last Christmas came. It was a bright, frosty day; the icicles that hung from the iron railing, sparkled as the sun shone upon them, and the little boys in the streets made sliding ponds of the gutters, and did not mind a bit when they came down on their backs, but jumped up and tried it again; and a great many people were hurrying along with large turkeys to cook for their Christmas dinner, and everybody looked very happy indeed.

After these children, about whom I am telling you, came back from church, they were dressed very nicely, and although they lived in three different houses, they all got to their Grandma's very nearly at the same time. The first thing  they did was to run up to their Grandma, and wish her a merry Christmas, and kiss her, and say that they hoped she felt quite well. Then they did the same to their Grandpa and Aunties, for they had two dear, kind aunts, who lived with their Grandparents. Then they all hugged and kissed each other, and jumped about so much, that some kissed noses and some kissed chins, and little Sarah was almost crazy with delight, for she had never been to so large a party before.

"Grandma," said Willy, "I hung up my stocking last night, and what do you think I got in it?"

His Grandma guessed that he got a birch-rod.

"No," said Willy, laughing, "I got a doughnut in the shape of a monkey with a long tail; I ate the monkey for my breakfast, and it was very good indeed."

The children all laughed at this, and Bella,  Willy's sister, who was the oldest of all the children, said she thought Willy had a monkey-look about him. So he went by the name of the monkey-eater for the rest of the day.

Soon the bell rang for dinner, and they all went down stairs; for the children and grown people were to dine together. It was now quite dark, and the chandelier that hung over the table was lighted, the curtains were drawn close, the fire burnt brightly, and the table-cloth was so white and fine that it looked like satin.

The happy party sat down at a large round table, and the children's eyes looked so bright and their cheeks so rosy, that it was the pleasantest sight in the world to see. Little Sarah could not help having a great many little laughs all to herself. She could not keep them in. She was only four years old, so you may suppose she could not look very grave and stiff on such a delightful occasion.

When Willy saw his little cousin Sarah trying  to hide her sparkling eyes, and her funny little laugh behind her mother's arm, he felt just as if somebody was tickling him. So he pinched his lips together very tight indeed, and casting his eyes up to the ceiling, tried to look as grave as a judge. But it would not do; he burst out into such a fit of laughing, that everybody else laughed too, and it was a long time before they could get their faces straight enough to eat their dinner.

Would you like to know what they had for dinner? Well, I will tell you. After their Grandpa had asked a blessing, they had some very nice soup. The children did not care for soup. Then they had a fish stuffed with all sorts of things, and stewed, and the grown people said the fish was very nice; but the little ones did not care for that either. They then had some roast beef and a boiled turkey with oysters. The children all took turkey; Willy asked for a drum-stick, and his cousin Mary said he wanted it to  beat the monkey he ate in the morning. Bella chose a merry-thought; little Sarah liked a hug-me-fast; Carry took a wishing-bone; Thomas said he would have the other drum-stick to help beat the monkey, and Fanny thanked her Grandma for a wing, so that she could fly away when the beating of the monkey took place.

But this was not half the good things, for they afterwards had some delicious game, such as partridges, and woodcocks, and some fried oysters. All this pleased the grown people most. The children saved their appetites for the dessert. Well, after this, the cloth was taken off, and under that was another table-cloth just as white and fine as the first.

Then came something that was quite astonishing. What do you think it was? It was a great plum-pudding all on fire! it blazed away terribly, and Willy thought they had better send for the fire-engines to put it out; but it was blown out very easily, and the children each had a very  small piece, because it was too rich to eat much of, and their parents did not wish to make them ill.

After that there came ice-creams, and jellies, and sweetmeats, that were perfectly delicious; and then the other white cloth was taken off, and under that was a beautiful red one. Then the servants put on the table what the children liked best of all, and that was a dish of fine motto-kisses, and oranges, and grapes, and other nice fine fruits.

The children sent the mottoes to each other, and had a great deal of sport. Some one sent Willy this:—

"O William, William, 'tis quite plain to see
That all your life you will a monkey be."

He thought his cousin Mary had sent it, because he saw that she was trying very hard to look grave, so he sent this to her:—

 "Dear Mary, you are too severe—
You are too bad, I do declare;
Your motto has upset me quite,
I shan't get over it to-night."

Mary laughed when she read it, and said she had been just as cruel to Thomas, for she had sent him this:—

"The rose is red, the violet blue,
The grass is green and so are you."

They had a good laugh at Thomas, but as he laughed as hard as any one, it did no harm. Little Sarah had a great many mottoes. Her Mamma read them to her, and it pleased her very much. She said it was a very nice play, but she was tired with sitting such a long time at table, so her Mother let her slip down from her chair.

Very soon all the rest got up, and went up stairs into the drawing-room. But what was that  in the middle of the room? It seemed to be a large table covered all over with a red cloth. What could it be? Willy said, "Grandma, that table looks as if something was on it;" and little Sarah said, "Grandma, I guess Old Father Christmas has been here."

"Yes, dear children," said their Grandma, "Father Christmas has been here, and this time he looked very much like your Grandpa. He will be up soon, and then we will see what is on the table."

Oh how the children did wish to peep! They could not look at anything else; they danced and jumped round the table, and were in a great hurry for their Grandpa. In a few minutes he came into the room, and all the children ran up to him and said, "Dear Grandpa, do let us see what you have got on the table."

He smiled, and went to the table and took the cloth off. The children were so astonished that they could not say a single word; the table  was covered with beautiful things, and under it was something that looked like a little red-brick house.

"Well," said their kind Grandpa, "my dear children, you did not think you were going to be treated with such a fine show as this; you may go up to the table, and see if you can find out who they are for." The children gathered round the table, and Willy took from the top a fine brig with all her sails set, and colours flying. His eyes sparkled when he saw written on a slip of paper which lay on the deck, these words; "For my dear Willy." The children clapped their hands, and nothing was heard, but "How beautiful!" "What a fine ship!" "It is a brig of war," said Willy: "only look at the little brass guns on her deck! Thank you, thank you, dear Grandpa. What is the name of my ship?"

"Her name is painted on her stern," said his Grandpa. Willy looked, and saw that she was  called the "Louisa." He blushed, and looked very funny, and the other children laughed, for Willy knew a very pretty little girl whose name was Louisa, and he liked her very much; and that was what made them laugh when they heard the name.

After they had all admired the brig, they went back to the table, and there were two beautiful books, full of engravings or pictures, one for Bella and one for Mary; and next to these was a large wax doll for Carry, and another for Fanny. Carry's doll was dressed in blue satin, with a white satin hat and a lace veil, and Fanny's doll was dressed in pink satin with a black velvet hat and feathers—their eyes opened and shut, and they had beautiful faces.

How delighted the little girls were! They hugged their dolls to their little breasts, and then ran to hug and kiss their Grandpa. Carry said, "My dolly's name shall be Rose;" and Fanny said, "My dolly's name shall be  Christmas, because I got her on Christmas-day."

Well I must hurry and tell you the rest, for I am afraid my story is getting too long. Thomas found for him a splendid menagerie, and all the animals made noises like real animals. There were roaring lions, and yelling tigers, and laughing hyenas, and braying asses, and chattering monkeys, and growling bears, and many other wild beasts. Oh, how pleased Thomas was, and all the children!

Little Sarah did nothing but jump up and down, and say, "So many things! So many things! I never saw so many things!"

But who was to have the little house under the table, I wonder? There was a little piece of paper sticking out of the chimney, and Sarah pulled it out and carried it to her Grandpa. He took her up in his arms, and read it to her. What was written on it was, "A baby-house for my little darling Sarah."

 "Why, I guess this must be for you," said Grandpapa.

"Yes, it is for me," said the little girl; "my name is Sarah, and it must be for me."

Her Grandpa put her down, and led her to the table. He drew the little house out, and opened it. The whole front of the house opened, and there, inside, were two rooms; one was a parlour, and one a bedroom. The children all cried out, "What a fine baby-house! Look at the centre-table, and the red velvet chairs; and only see the elegant curtains! Oh dear! how beautiful it is!"

Little Sarah did not say a word. She stood before the baby-house with her hands stretched out, and jumped up and down, her eyes shining like diamonds. She was too much pleased to speak. She looked so funny jumping up and down all the time, that she made Willy laugh again, and then everybody laughed.

At last she said, "There is a young lady sitting  in the chair with a red sash on. I think she wants to come out."

"Well, you may take her out," said her Grandpa. So Sarah took the young lady out, and then took up the chairs and sofa, one by one, and smoothed the velvet, and looked at the little clock on the mantelpiece, and opened the little drawers of the bureau; and then putting them down, she began to jump again.

There was never such a happy party before. The children hardly wished to dance, they were so busy looking at their presents. But after a little while they had a very nice dance. One of their aunts played for them; she played so well, and kept such nice time, that it was quite a pleasure to hear her.

It was now quite late, and little Sarah had fallen fast asleep on the sofa, with the young lady out of the baby-house clasped tight to her little bosom. So they wrapped her up, doll and all, in a great shawl, and the rest put on their nice  warm coats and cloaks; and after a great deal of hugging and kissing, they got into the carriages with their parents, and went home happy and delighted.

Thus ended this joyful Christmas-day.