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´╗┐Title: The Birthday Party - A Story for Little Folks
Author: Optic, Oliver, 1822-1897
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Birthday Party - A Story for Little Folks" ***

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[Illustration: Writing the Notes.]




  The Riverdale Books.







  Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1862, by


  In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District
  of Massachusetts.




Flora Lee's birthday came in July. Her mother wished very
much to celebrate the occasion in a proper manner. Flora was
a good girl, and her parents were always glad to do any
thing they could to please her, and to increase her

They were very indulgent parents, and as they had plenty of
money, they could afford to pay well for a "good time." Yet
they were not weak and silly in their indulgence. As much as
they loved their little daughter, they did not give her pies
and cakes to eat when they thought such articles would hurt

They did not let her lie in bed till noon because they loved
her, or permit her to do any thing that would injure her,
either in body or mind. Flora always went to church, and to
the Sunday school, and never cried to stay at home. If she
had cried, it would have made no difference, for her father
and mother meant to have her do right, whether she liked it
or not.

But Flora gave them very little trouble about such matters.
Her parents knew best what was good for her, and she was
willing in all things to obey them. It was for this reason
that they were so anxious to please her, even at the expense
of a great deal of time and money.

The birthday of Flora came on Wednesday, and school did not
keep in the afternoon. All the children, therefore, could
attend the party which they intended to give in honor of the

About a week before the time, Mrs. Lee told Flora she might
have the party, and wanted her to make out a list of all the
children whom she wished to invite.

"I want to ask all the children in Riverdale," said Flora,

"Not all, I think," replied Mrs. Lee.

"Yes, mother, all of them."

"But you know there are a great many bad boys in town. Do
you wish to invite them?"

"Perhaps, if we treat them well, they will be made better by

"Would you like to have Joe Birch come to the party?"

"I don't know, mother," said Flora, musing.

"I think you had better invite only those who will enjoy the
party, and who will not be likely to spoil the pleasure of
others. We will not invite such boys as Joe Birch."

"Just as you think best, dear mother," replied Flora. "Shall
I ask such boys as Tommy Woggs?"

"Tommy isn't a bad boy," said Mrs. Lee, with a smile.

"I don't know that he is; but he is a very queer fellow.
You said I had better not ask those who would be likely to
spoil the pleasure of others."

"Do you think, my child, Tommy Woggs will do so?"

"I am afraid he would; he is such a queer boy."

"But Tommy is a great traveller, you know," added Mrs. Lee,

"The boys and girls don't like him, he pretends to be such
a big man. He knows more than all the rest of the world put
together--at least, he thinks he does."

"I think you had better ask him, for he will probably feel
slighted if you don't."

"Very well, mother."

"Now, Flora, I will take a pencil and paper and write down the
names of all the boys and girls with whom you are acquainted;
and you must be careful not to forget any. Here comes Frank;
he will help you."

Frank was told about the party, and he was quite as much
pleased with the idea as his sister had been; and both of
them began to repeat the names of all the boys and girls
they could remember.

For half an hour they were employed in this manner, and then
the list was read over to them, so as to be sure that no
names had been omitted.

Flora and Frank now went through all the streets of
Riverdale, in imagination, thinking who lived in each house;
and when they had completed their journey in fancy, they
felt sure they had omitted none.

"But we must invite cousins Sarah and Henry," said Flora.
"O, I hope they will come! Henry is so funny; we can't do
without them."

"Perhaps they will come; at any rate we will send them
invitations," replied Mrs. Lee.

The next day, when the children had gone to school, Mrs. Lee
went to the office of the Riverdale Gazette, which was the
village newspaper, and had the invitations printed on nice
gilt-edged paper.

By the following day Mrs. Lee had written in the names of
the children invited, enclosed the notes in envelopes, and
directed them. I will give you a copy of one of them, that
you may know how to write them when you have a birthday
party, though I dare say it would do just as well if you go
to your friends and ask them to attend. If you change the
names and dates, this note will answer for any party.

     _Miss Flora Lee presents her compliments to Miss Nellie
     Green, and requests the pleasure of her company on
     Wednesday afternoon, July 20._

              _Riverdale, July 15._

"Those are very fine indeed," said Flora: "shall I put on my
bonnet, and carry out some of them to-day?"

"No, my child; it is not quite the thing for you to carry
your own invitations. I will tell you what you may do. You
may hire David White to deliver them for you. You must pay
him for it; give him half a dollar, which will be a good
thing for him."

This plan was adopted, and Frank was sent with the notes and
the money over to the poor widow's cottage.

"Don't you think it is very wicked, mother, for rich folks
to have parties, when the money they cost will do so much
good to the poor?" asked Flora.

"I do not think so, my dear child."

"Well, I think so, mother," added Flora, warmly.

"Perhaps you do not fully understand it."

"I think I do."

"Why should it be wicked for you to enjoy yourself?"

"I don't think it is wicked to enjoy myself, but only to
spend money for such things. You said you were going to have
the Riverdale Band, and that the music would cost more than
twenty dollars."

"I did, and the supper will cost at least twenty more; for I
have spoken to the confectioner to supply us with ice cream,
cake, jellies, and other luxuries. We shall have a supply
of strawberries and cream, and all the nice things of the
season. We must also erect a tent in the garden, in which we
shall have the supper; but after tea I will tell you all
about it."


[Illustration: Flora and her Father.]


Flora could not help thinking how much good the forty
dollars, which her father would have to pay for the birthday
party, would do if given to the poor.

It seemed to her just like spending the money for a few
hours' pleasure; and even if they had a fine time, which
she was quite sure they would have, it would be soon over,
and not do any real good.

Forty dollars was a great deal of money. It would pay Mrs.
White's rent for a whole year; it would clothe her family,
and feed them nearly all the next winter. It appeared to her
like a shameful waste; and these thoughts promised to take
away a great deal from the pleasure of the occasion.

"I think, mother, I had just as lief not have the band, and
only have a supper of bread and butter and seed cakes."

"Why, Flora, what has got into you?" said her father.

Mrs. Lee laughed at the troubled looks of Flora, and
explained to her father the nature of her scruples in regard
to the party.

"Where did the child get this foolish idea?" asked her
father, who thought her notions were too old and too severe
for a little girl.

"Didn't I see last winter how much good only a little money
would do?" replied Flora.

"Don't you think it is wicked for me to live in this great
house, keep five or six horses, and nine or ten servants, when
I could live in a little house, like Mrs. White?" laughed
Mr. Lee.

"All the money you spend would take care of a dozen families
of poor folks," said Flora.

"That is very true. Suppose I should turn away all the men
and women that work for me,--those, I mean, who work about the
house and garden,--and give the money I spend in luxuries to
the poor."

"But what would John and Peter, Hannah and Bridget do then?
They would lose their places, and not be able to earn any
thing. Why, no, father; Peter has a family; he has got three
children, and he must take care of them."

"Ah, you begin to see it--do you?" said Mr. Lee, with a
smile. "All that I spend upon luxury goes into the pockets
of the farmer, mechanic, and laborer."

"I see that, father," replied Flora, looking as bright as
sunshine again; "but all the money spent on my party will be
wasted--won't it?"

"Not a cent of it; my child. If I were a miser, and kept my
money in an iron safe, and lived like a poor man, I should
waste it then."

"But twenty dollars for the Riverdale Band is a great deal
to give for a few hours' service. It don't do any good, I

"Yes, it does; music improves our minds and hearts. It makes us
happy. I have engaged six men to play. They are musicians only
at such times as they can get a job. They are shoemakers, also,
and poor men; and the money which I shall pay them will help
support their families and educate them."

"What a fool I was, father!" exclaimed Flora.

"O, no; not so bad as that; for a great many older and wiser
persons than yourself have thought just what you think."

"But the supper, father,--the ice cream, the cake, and the
lemonade,--won't all the money spent for these things be

"No more than the money spent for the music. The confectioner
and those whom he employs depend upon their work for the
means of supporting themselves and their families."

"So they do, father. And when you have a party, you are
really doing good to the poor."

"That depends upon circumstances," replied Mr. Lee. "I don't
think it would be an act of charity for a person who could
not afford it to give a party. I only mean to say that when
we spend money for that which does not injure us or any body
else, what we spend goes into the pockets of those who need

"A party--a proper party, I mean, such a one as you will
have--is a good thing in itself. Innocent amusement is just
as necessary as food and drink.

"God has given me wealth, Flora, and he expects me to do all
the good I can with it. I hold it as his steward. Now, when
I pay one of these musicians three or four dollars for an
afternoon's work, I do him a favor as well as you and those
whom you invite to your party.

"And I hope the party will make you love one another more
than ever before. I hope the music will warm your hearts,
and that the supper will make you happy, and render you
thankful to the Giver of all things for his constant

"How funny that I should make such a blunder!" exclaimed
Flora. "I am sure I shall enjoy my party a great deal more
now that I understand these things."

"I hope you won't understand too much, Flora. Suppose you had
only a dollar, and that it had been given you to purchase a
story book. Then, suppose Mrs. White and her children were
suffering from want of fuel and clothing. What would you do
with your dollar?"

"I would----"

"Wait a minute, Flora," interposed her father. "When you
buy the book, you pay the printer, the paper maker, the
bookseller, the type founder, the miner who dug the lead and
the iron from the earth, the machinist who made the press,
and a great many other persons whose labor enters into the
making of a book--you pay all these men for their labor;
you give them money to help take care of their wives and
children, their fathers and mothers. You help all these
men when you buy a book. Now, what would you do with your

"I would give it to poor Mrs. White," promptly replied

"I think you would do right, for your money would do more
good in her hands. The self-denial on your part would do you
good. I only wanted you to understand that, when you bought
a book,--even a book which was only to amuse you,--the money
is not thrown away.

"Riches are given to men for a good purpose; and they ought
to use their wealth for the benefit of others, as well as
for their own pleasure. If they spend money, even for things
that are of no real use to them, it helps the poor, for it
feeds and clothes them."

Flora was much interested in this conversation, and perhaps
some of my young friends will think she was an old head to
care for such things; but I think they can all understand
what was said as well as she did.


[Illustration: On the Lawn.]


The great day at length arrived, and every thing was ready
for the party. On the lawn, by the side of the house, a
large tent had been put up, in which the children were to
have the feast.

Under a large maple tree, near the tent, a stage for the
musicians had been erected. Two swings had been put up; and
there was no good reason why the children should not enjoy
themselves to their hearts' content.

I think the teachers in the Riverdale school found it hard work
to secure the attention of their scholars on the forenoon of
that day, for all the boys and girls in the neighborhood were
thinking about the party.

As early as one o'clock in the afternoon the children began
to collect at the house of Mr. Lee, and at the end of an
hour all who had received invitations were present. The
band had arrived, and at a signal from Mr. Lee the music

"Now, father, we are all here. What shall we do?" asked
Flora, who was so excited she did not know which way to
turn, or how to proceed to entertain the party.

"Wait a few minutes, and let the children listen to the
music. They seem to enjoy it very well."

"But we want to play something, father."

"Very soon, my child, we will play something."

"What shall we play, father?"

"There are plenty of plays. Wouldn't you like to march a
little while to the music?"


"Yes, march to the tune of 'Hail, Columbia.' I will show you
how to do it."

"I don't know what you mean, father."

"Well, I will show you in a few minutes."

When the band had played a little while longer, Mr. Lee
assembled the children in the middle of the lawn, and asked
them if they would like to march.

They were pleased with the idea, though some of them thought it
would be rather tame amusement for such an exciting occasion.

"You want two leaders, and I think you had better choose
them yourselves. It would be the most proper to select two

Mr. Lee thought the choice of the leaders would amuse them;
so he proposed that they should vote for them.

"How shall we vote, father?" asked Frank.

"Three of the children must retire, and pick out four
persons; and the two of these four who get the most votes
shall be the leaders."

Mr. Lee appointed two girls and one boy to be on this
committee; but while he was doing so, Tommy Woggs said he
did not think this was a good play.

"I don't think they will choose the best leaders," said

"Don't you, Mr. Woggs?" asked Mr. Lee, laughing.

"No, sir, I do not. What do any of these boys know about
such things!" said Tommy, with a sneer. "I have been to New
York, and have seen a great many parades."

"Have you, indeed?"

"Yes, sir, I have."

"And you think you would make a better leader than any of
the others?"

"I think so, sir."

All the children laughed heartily at Master Woggs, who was
so very modest!

"None of these boys and girls have ever been to New York,"
added Tommy, his vanity increasing every moment.

"That is very true; and perhaps the children will select you
as their leader."

"They can do as they like. If they want me, I should be very
willing to be their leader," replied Tommy.

It was very clear that Master Woggs had a very good opinion
of himself. He seemed to think that the fact of his having
been to New York made a hero of him, and that all the boys
ought to take off their caps to him.

But it is quite as certain that the Riverdale children did
not think Master Woggs was a very great man. He thought so
much of himself, that there was no room for others to think
much of him.

The committee of three returned in a few minutes, and
reported the names of four boys to be voted for as the
leaders. They were Henry Vernon, Charley Green, David White,
and Tommy Woggs.

The important little gentleman who had been to New York, was
delighted with the action of the committee. He thought all
the children could see what a very fine leader he would
make, and that all of them would vote for him.

"What shall we do for votes, father?" asked Frank.

"We can easily manage that, Frank," replied Mr. Lee.

"We have no paper here."

"Listen to me a moment, children," continued Mr. Lee. "There
are four boys to be voted for; and we will choose one leader
first, and then the other.

"Those who want Henry Vernon for a leader will put a blade
of grass in the hat which will be the ballot box; those who
want Charley Green will put in a clover blossom; those who
want David White will put in a maple leaf; and those who
want to vote for Tommy Woggs will put in a--let me see--put
in a dandelion flower."

The children laughed, for they thought the dandelion was
just the thing for Master Woggs, who had been to New York.

One of the boys carried round Mr. Lee's hat, and it was
found that Henry Vernon had the most votes; so he was
declared to be the first leader.

"Humph!" said Tommy Woggs. "What does Henry Vernon know? He
has never been to New York."

"But he lives in Boston," added Charley Green.

"Boston is nothing side of New York."

"I think Boston is a great place," replied Charley.

"That's because you have never been to New York," said
Master Woggs. "They will, of course, all vote for me next
time. If they do, I will show them how things are done in
New York."

"Pooh!" exclaimed Charley, as he left the vain little man.

While all the children were wondering who would be the other
leader, Flora was electioneering among them for her favorite
candidate; that is, she was asking her friends to vote for
the one she wanted. Who do you suppose it was? Master Woggs?
No. It was David White.

The hat was passed round again, and when the votes were
counted, there was only one single dandelion blossom found
in the hat.

Tommy Woggs was mad, for he felt that his companions had
slighted him; but it was only because he was so vain and
silly. People do not often think much of those who think a
great deal of themselves.

There was a great demand for maple leaves, and David White
was chosen the second leader, and had nearly all the votes.
The boys then gave three cheers for the leaders, and the
lines were formed. Mr. Lee told Henry and David just how
they were to march, and the band at once began to play "Hail

The children first marched, two by two, round the lawn, and
then down the centre. When they reached the end, one leader
turned off to the right, and the other to the left, each
followed by a single line of the children.

Passing round the lawn, they came together again on the
other side. Then they formed a great circle, a circle within
a circle, and concluded the march with the "grand basket."

This was certainly a very simple play, but the children
enjoyed it ever so much--I mean all but vain Master Woggs,
who was so greatly displeased because he was not chosen one
of the leaders, that he said there was no fun at all in the
whole thing.

About half an hour was spent in marching, and then Mr. Lee
proposed a second game. The children wanted to march a little
longer; but there were a great number of things to be done
before night, and so it was thought best, on the whole, to
try a new game.


[Illustration: The Old Fiddler.]


When the children had done marching, Mrs. Lee took charge of
the games. Several new plays, which none of them had heard
of before, were introduced. The boys and girls all liked
them very well, and the time passed away most rapidly.

Just before they were going to supper, an old man, with a
fiddle in his hand, tottered into the garden, and down the
lawn. He was a very queer-looking old man. He had long white
hair, and a long white beard.

He was dressed in old, worn-out, soldier clothes, in part,
and had a sailor's hat upon his head, so that they could not
tell whether he was a soldier or a sailor.

As he approached the children, they began to laugh with all
their might; and he certainly was a very funny old man. His
long beard and hair, his tattered finery, and his hobbling
walk, would have made almost any one laugh--much more a
company of children as full of fun as those who were
attending the birthday party.

"Children," said the old man, as he took off his hat and
made a low bow, "I heard there was a party here, and I came
to play the fiddle for you. All the boys and girls like a
fiddle, because it is so merry."

"O mother! what did send that old man here?" cried Flora.

"He came of himself, I suppose," replied Mrs. Lee,

"I think it is too bad to laugh at an old man like him,"
added Flora.

"It would be, if he were in distress; but don't you see he
is as merry as any of the children?"

"Play us some tunes," said the children.

"I will, my little dears;" and the old man raised the
fiddle. "Let's see--I will play 'Napoleon's Grand March.'"

The fiddler played, but he behaved so queerly that the
children laughed so loud they could hardly hear the music.

"Why, that's 'Yankee Doodle,'" said Henry Vernon; and they
all shouted at the idea of calling that tune "Napoleon's
Grand March."

"Now I will play you the solo to the opera of 'La
Sonnambula,'" said the old man.

"Whew!" said Henry.

The old man fiddled again, with the same funny movements as

"Why, that's 'Yankee Doodle' too!" exclaimed Henry.

"I guess he don't know any other tune."

"You like that tune so well, I will play you 'Washington's
March;'" and the funny old fiddler, with a great flourish,
began to play again; but still it was "Yankee Doodle."

And so he went on saying he would play many different tunes,
but he played nothing but "Yankee Doodle."

"Can't you tell us a story now?" asked Charley Green.

"O, yes, my little man, I can tell you a story. What shall
it be?"

"Are you a soldier or a sailor?"

"Neither, my boy."

"The story! the story!" shouted the boys, very much

"Some years ago I was in New York," the old man commenced.

"Did you see me there?" demanded Tommy Woggs.

"Well, my little man, I don't remember that I saw you."

"O, I was there;" and Tommy thrust his hands down to the
bottom of his pockets, and strutted up the space between
the children and the comical old fiddler.

"I did see a very nice-looking little gentleman----"

"That was me," pompously added Tommy.

"He was stalking up Broadway. He thought every body was
looking at and admiring him; but such was not the case. He
looked just like--just like----"

"Like me?" asked Tommy.

"Like a sick monkey," replied the fiddler.

"Go on with your story."

"I will, children. Several years ago I was in New York. It
is a great city; if you don't believe it, ask Master Tommy

"You tell the truth, Mr. Fiddler. It is a great city, and I
have been all over it, and can speak from observation,"
replied Master Woggs.

"The story!" shouted the children.

"I was walking up Broadway. This street is always crowded
with people, as well as with carts and carriages."

"I have seen that street," said Tommy.

"Now you keep still a few minutes, Tommy, if you can,"
interposed Mrs. Lee.

"At the corner of Wall Street----"

"I know where that is," exclaimed Tommy.

"At the corner of Wall Street there was a man with a kind of
cart, loaded with apples and candy, which he was selling to
the passers-by. Suddenly there came a stage down the street,
and ran into the apple cart."

"I saw the very same thing done," added Tommy, with his
usual self-important air.

"Keep still, Tom Woggs," said Charley Green.

"The apples were scattered all over the sidewalk; yet the
man picked up all but one of them, though he was very angry
with the driver of the stage for running against his cart."

"Why didn't he pick up the other apple?" asked Henry.

"A well-dressed man, with big black whiskers, picked that up.
'Give it to me,' said the apple man. 'I will not,' replied
the man with whiskers. The apple merchant was as mad as he
could be; and then the man with black whiskers put his hand
in his pocket and drew out a knife. The blade was six inches

"O, dear me!" exclaimed Flora.

"Raising the knife, he at once moved towards the angry
apple merchant, and--and----"

"Well, what?" asked several, eagerly.

"And cut a piece out of the apple, and put it in his mouth."

The children all laughed heartily, for they were sure the
man with the whiskers was going to stab the apple merchant.

"He then took two cents from his pocket, paid for the
apple, and went his way," continued the old man. "Now, there
is one thing more I can do. I want to run a race with these

"Pooh! You run a race!" sneered Charley.

"I can beat you."

"Try it, and see."

The old man and Charley took places, and were to start at
the word from Henry. But when it was given, the fiddler
hobbled off, leaving Charley to follow at his leisure.

When the old man had got half way round the lawn, Charley
started, sure he could catch him long before he reached the
goal. But just as the boy was coming up with the man, the
latter began to run, and poor Charley found, much to his
surprise, that he ran very fast. He was unable to overtake
him, and consequently lost the race.

The children were much astonished when they saw the old man
run so fast. He appeared to have grown young all at once.
But he offered to race with any of the boys again; and half
a dozen of them agreed to run with him.

"I guess I will take my coat off this time," said the

As he threw away the coat, he slipped off the wig and false
beard he wore; and the children found, to their surprise,
that the old man was Mr. Lee, who had dressed himself up in
this disguise to please them.

The supper was now ready, and all the children were invited
to the tent. They had played so hard that all of them had
excellent appetites, and the supper was just as nice as a
supper could be.

It was now nearly dark, and the children had to go home; but
all of them declared the birthday party of Flora was the
best they ever attended.

"Only to think," said Flora, when she went to bed that
night, "the old fiddler was my father!"


    Mother, what ails our Lizzie dear,
      So cold and still she lies?
    She does not speak a word to-day,
      And closed her soft blue eyes.
    Why won't she look at me again,
      And laugh and play once more?
    I cannot make her look at me
      As she used to look before.

    Her face and neck as marble white,
      And, O, so very cold!
    Why don't you warm her, mother dear,
      Your cloak around her fold?
    Her little hand is cold as ice,
      Upon her waveless breast,--
    So pure, I thought I could see through
      The little hand I pressed.

    Your darling sister's dead, my child;
      She cannot see you now;
    The damps of death are gath'ring there
      Upon her marble brow.
    She cannot speak to you again,
      Her lips are sealed in death;
    That little hand will never move,
      Nor come that fleeting breath.

    All robed in white, and decked with flowers,
      We'll lay her in the tomb;
    The flower that bloomed so sweetly here,
      No more on earth will bloom;
    But in our hearts we'll lay her up,
      And love her all the more,
    Because she died in life's spring time,
      Ere earth had won her o'er.

    Nay, nay, my child, she is not dead,
      Although she slumbers there,
    And cold and still her marble brow,
      And free from pain and care.
    She slept, and passed from earth to heaven,
      And won her early crown:
    An angel now she dwells above,
      And looks in triumph down.

    She is not dead, for Jesus died
      That she might live again.
    "Forbid them not," the Saviour said,
      And blessed dear sister then.
    Her little lamp this morn went out
      On earth's time-bounded shore;
    But angels bright in heaven this morn
      Relighted it once more.

    Some time we, too, shall fall asleep,
      To wake in heaven above,
    And meet our angel Lizzie there
      In realms of endless love.
    We'll bear sweet sister in our hearts,
      And then there'll ever be
    An angel there to keep our souls
      From sin and sorrow free.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Birthday Party - A Story for Little Folks" ***

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