THE HALLOWE'EN PARTY
Mr. and Mrs. Maynard talked over Marjorie's latest prank, and concluded that it would indeed be too great a punishment to keep her at home from the Hallowe'en party.
So her punishment consisted in being kept at home from the Saturday meeting of the Jinks Club.
This was indeed a deprivation, as the members of the club were to plan games for the party, but still it was an easier fate to bear than absence from the great event itself.
Marjorie was so sweet and patient as she sat at home, while King and Kitty started off for the Jinks Club, that Mrs. Maynard was tempted to waive the punishment and send her along, too.
But the mother well knew that what she was doing was for her child's own good, and so she stifled her own desires, and let Marjorie stay at home.
Midget was restless, though she tried hard not to show it. She fed the gold-fish, she read in her book of Fairy Tales, she tried amusements of various sorts, but none seemed to interest her. In imagination she could see the rest of the Jinks Club seated in the bay at Dorothy Adams', chattering about the party.
"Oh, hum," sighed Marjorie, as she stood looking out of the playroom window, "I do believe I'll never be naughty again."
"What's 'e matter, Middy?" said Rosy Posy, coming along just then. "Don't you feels dood? Want to p'ay wiv my Boffin Bear?"
Marjorie took the soft, woolly bear, and somehow he was a comforting old fellow.
"Let's play something, Rosy Posy," she said.
"Ess; p'ay house?"
"No; that's no fun. Let's play something where we can bounce around. I feel awful dull."
"Ess," said Rosy Posy, who was amiable, but not suggestive.
"Let's play I'm a hippopotamus, and you're a little yellow chicken, and I'm trying to catch you and eat you up."
Down went Rosy Posy on all-fours, scrambling across the floor, and saying, "Peep, peep"; and down went Marjorie, and lumbered across the floor after her sister, while she roared and growled terrifically.
Mrs. Maynard heard the noise, but she only smiled to think that Marjorie was working off her disappointment that way instead of sulking.
Finally the hippopotamus caught the chicken, and devoured it with fearful gnashing of teeth, the chicken meanwhile giggling with delight at the fun.
Then they played other games, in which Boffin joined, and also Marjorie's kitten, Puff. The days, of late, had been such busy ones that Puff had been more or less neglected, and as she was a socially inclined little cat, she was glad to be restored to public favor.
And so the long morning dragged itself away, and at luncheon-time the Jinks Club sent its members home.
The Maynards were always a warm-hearted, generous-minded lot of little people, and, far from teasing Marjorie about her morning at home, King and Kitty told her everything that had been discussed and decided at the Jinks Club, and brought her the money contributed by the members.
So graphic were their descriptions that Marjorie felt almost as if she had been there herself; and her spirits rose as she realized that her punishment was over, and in the afternoon she could go over to Gladys', and really help in the preparations for the party.
At last the night of the great occasion arrived.
Then it was Marjorie's turn to feel sorry for Kitty, because she was too young to go to evening parties. But Mr. and Mrs. Maynard had promised some special fun to Kitty at home, and she watched Midget's preparations with interest quite untinged by envy.
Kingdon and Marjorie were to go alone at seven o'clock, and Mr. Maynard was to come after them at nine.
"But Gladys said, Mother," said Midge, "that she hoped we'd stay later than nine."
"I hope you won't," said Mrs. Maynard. "You're really too young to go out at night anyway, but as it's just across the street, I trust you'll get there safely. But you must come home as soon as Father comes for you."
"Yes, if he makes us," said Marjorie, smiling at her lenient father, who was greatly inclined to indulge his children.
"If you're not back as soon as I think you ought to be, I shall telephone for you," said Mrs. Maynard; but Marjorie knew from her mother's smiling eyes that she was not deeply in earnest.
Midget had on a very pretty dress of thin white muslin, with ruffles of embroidery. She wore a broad pink sash, and her dark curls were clustered into a big pink bow, which bobbed and danced on top of her head. Pink silk stockings and dainty pink slippers completed her costume, and her father declared she looked good enough to eat.
"Eat her up," said Rosy Posy, who was ecstatically gazing at her beautiful big sister. "Be a hippottymus, Fader, an' eat Mopsy all up!"
"Not till after she's been to the party, Baby. They'll all be expecting her."
Kingdon, quite resplendent in the glory of his first Tuxedo jacket, also looked admiringly at his pretty sister.
"You'll do, Mops," he said. "Come on, let's go. It's just seven."
Mrs. Maynard put a lovely white, hooded cape of her own round Marjorie, and carefully drew the hood up over her curls.
"See that your bow is perked up after you take this off," said the mother, as a parting injunction, and then the two children started off.
The parents watched them from the window, as they crossed the street in the moonlight, and Mrs. Maynard sighed as she said, "They're already beginning to grow up."
"But we have some littler ones," said her husband, gaily, as he prepared for a game of romps with Kitty and Rosy Posy.
When King and Marjorie rang the bell at Gladys Fulton's, the door opened very slowly, and they could hear a low, sepulchral groan.
Midge clung to her brother's arm, for though she knew everything was to be as weird and grotesque as possible, yet it was delightful to feel the shudder of surprise.
As the door opened further, they could see that the house was but dimly lighted, and the hall was full of a deep red glow. This was caused by putting red shades on the lights and standing a semi-transparent red screen before the blazing wood-fire in the big fireplace.
The groan was repeated, and then they realized that it said, "Welcome, welcome!" but in such a wailing voice that it seemed to add to the gloom. The voice proceeded from a figure draped in a white sheet.
"Hello, Ghost!" said King, who knew that Dick Fulton himself was wrapped in the sheet.
"O-o-o-o-ugh!" groaned the ghost.
"You don't seem to feel well," said Marjorie, giggling. "Poor Ghost, why don't you go to bed?"
But before the ghost could speak again, a gorgeous witch came prancing up, carrying a broomstick wound with red ribbons. The witch was all in red, with a tall peaked hat of red, covered with cabalistic designs cut from gilt paper and pasted on. She groaned and wailed, too, and then spoke in a rapid and unintelligible jargon.
The Maynards knew that this witch was Gladys, but some of the guests did not know it, and were greatly mystified.
A few older persons, whom Mrs. Fulton had invited to help entertain the children, were stationed in the various rooms. Dressed in queer costumes, they played bits of weird music on the piano, or struck occasional clanging notes from muffled gongs.
All of this greatly pleased Marjorie, who loved make-believe, and she fell into the spirit of the occasion, and went about on tiptoe with a solemn, awed face. Indeed she made the ghosts and witches laugh in spite of their wish to be awesome. The rooms were decorated to befit the day, and great jack-o'-lanterns grinned from mantels or brackets. Autumn leaves were in profusion, and big black cats cut from paper adorned the walls.
Soon the party were all assembled, and then the games began.
First, all were led out to the kitchen, which was decorated with ears of corn, sheaves of grain, and other harvest trophies.
On a table were dishes of apples and nuts, not for eating purposes, but to play the games with.
There were several tubs half filled with water, and in these the young people were soon "bobbing for apples." On the apples were pinned papers on which were written various names, and the merry guests strove to grasp an apple with their teeth, either by its stem or by biting into the fruit itself. This proved to be more difficult than it seemed, and it was soon abandoned for the game of apple-parings. After an apple was pared in one continuous strip, the paring was tossed three times round the head, and then thrown to the floor. The initial it formed there was said to represent the initial of the fate of the one who threw it.
"Pshaw!" said Marjorie, as she tried for the third time, "it always makes E, and I don't know anybody who begins with E."
"Perhaps you'll meet someone later," said Mrs. Fulton, smiling. "You're really too young to consider these 'fates' entirely trustworthy."
Then they all tried blowing out the candle. This wasn't a "Fate" game, but there were prizes for the successful ones.
Each guest was blindfolded, led to a table where stood a lighted candle, turned round three times, and ordered to blow it out. Only three attempts were allowed, and not everybody won the little witches, owls, black cats, bats, and tiny pumpkins offered as prizes.
Marjorie, though securely blindfolded, was fortunate enough to blow straight and hard, and out went the candle-flame. Her prize was a gay little chenille imp, which she stuck in her hair with great glee.
Then they all went back to the drawing-room, where a pretty game had been arranged during their absence.
From the chandelier was suspended a large-sized "hoople" that had been twisted with red ribbon. From this at regular intervals hung, by short ribbons, candies, cakes, apples, nuts, candle ends, lemons, and sundry other things.
The children stood round in a circle, and the hoop was twisted up tightly and then let to untwist itself slowly. As it revolved, the children were to catch the flying articles in their teeth. Any one getting a lemon was out of the game. Any one getting a candle end had to pay a forfeit, but those who caught the goodies could eat them.
Next, after being seated round the room, each child was given a spoon.
Then a dish of ice-cream was passed, of which each took a spoonful and ate it. In the ice-cream had previously been hidden a dime, a ring, a thimble, a button, and a nutmeg. Whoever chanced to get the ring was destined to be married first. Whoever took the dime was destined to become very wealthy. The thimble denoted a thrifty housewife; the button, a life of single blessedness; and the nutmeg, a good cook.
Shouts of laughter arose, as they learned that Kingdon would be an old bachelor, and doubts were expressed when Gladys triumphantly exhibited the nutmeg.
"You can't ever learn to cook!" cried Dick. "You're too much of a butterfly."
"Good cooks make the butter fly," said Kingdon, and then they all laughed again. Indeed, they were quite ready to laugh at anything. For a Hallowe'en party is provocative of much merriment, and the most nonsensical speeches were applauded.
They popped corn and they roasted chestnuts, and then some more difficult experiments were tried.
Harry Frost and Marjorie were chosen to "Thread the Needle."
Each held a cupful of water in the left hand, and in the right hand Harry held a good-sized needle, while Marjorie held a length of thread. She tried to get the thread through the needle, and he tried to help, or at least not hinder her; but all the time both must have a care that no drop of water was spilled from their cups.
The tradition was that if they succeeded in threading the needle within a minute they were destined for each other; but as they couldn't do it, Harry bade her a laughing farewell, and offered the thread to Gladys. They were no more successful, and the game was abandoned as being too difficult.
Nutshell boats was a pretty game. The tiny craft, made of English walnut shells, with paper sails, had been prepared beforehand, and the guests wrote their names on the sails, then loaded each boat with a cargo of a wish written on a slip of paper.
The boats were then set afloat in a tub of water, and by gently blowing on them their owners endeavored to make them go ashore, or rather to the side of the tub. As one hit the wood it was taken out, and the owner joyfully announced that his or her wish would come true, but many of them stayed stubbornly in mid-ocean and refused to land. The unfortunate owners condoled with each other on their hard fate.
The merry games being over, all went to the dining-room for the feast that was spread there.
The children were paired off, and, while Mrs. Fulton played stirring strains on the piano, they marched around the rooms, and so out to the dining-room.
The elaborately decorated table called forth shouts of joy, and soon all were seated in chairs round the room, enjoying the good things.
On the table were jack-o'-lanterns made not only of pumpkins, but of squashes, turnips, and even of big red or green apples.
Candles were burning in all of these, and standing about the table were queer little gnomes and witches, made of nuts, or of dried prunes. These little figures were souvenirs, and were distributed to all the guests. The ice-cream was in the form of little yellow pumpkins, and proved to taste quite as good as it looked. There were also more substantial viands, such as nut sandwiches, apple salad, pumpkin pie, and grape jelly. Everything had some reference to Hallowe'en or to Harvest Home, and the children were not too young to appreciate this.
Supper was just about over when Mr. Maynard came after his children.
"Oh, Father," cried Marjorie, "you said you wouldn't come till nine o'clock!"
"But it's quarter-past nine now, my daughter."
"It can't be!" exclaimed Midge, greatly surprised; and everybody said, "Is it, really?"
"But we must have one merry round game before we part," said Mrs. Fulton, and, though several parents had arrived to take their little ones home, they all agreed to wait ten minutes more.
So they had a rollicking game of "Going to Jerusalem," and then the party was over.
Marjorie said good-night politely to Mrs. Fulton and the other grown-ups who had entertained them, making her pretty little bobbing courtesy, as she had been taught to do.
Kingdon said good-night in his frank, boyish way, and then they went for their wraps.
"Oh, Father," said Midget as they crossed the street to their own home, "it was the very loveliest party! Can't I sit up for a while and tell you every single thing that happened?"
"I'd love to have you do that, Mopsy Midget; in fact, I can scarcely wait till morning to hear about it all. But it is my duty as a stern parent to order you off to bed at once. Little girls that wheedle fond fathers into letting them go to evening parties must be content to scoot for bed the minute they get home."
"All right, then, Father, but do get up early in the morning to hear all about it, won't you?"
"I'll guarantee to get up as early as you do, Sleepyhead," said Mr. Maynard, for Marjorie was yawning as if the top of her head was about to come off.
Mrs. Maynard accompanied the little girl to her bedroom, but Midge was too tired to do more than tell her mother that it was the most beautiful party in the world, and that next day she should hear all about it.
"I can wait, little girl," said Mrs. Maynard, as she tucked Midget up and kissed her good-night, but the exhausted child was already in the land of dreams.