[The following is quoted, by permission, from Mr. Habberton’s popular book, “OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN,” published by G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS, New York.]
Mrs. Burton’s birthday dawned brightly, and it is not surprising that, as it was her first natal anniversary since her marriage to a man who had no intention or ability to cease being a lover—it is not surprising that her ante-breakfast moments were too fully and happily occupied to allow her to even think of two little boys who had already impressed upon her their willingness and general ability to think for themselves. As for the young men themselves, they awoke with the lark, and with a heavy sense of responsibility also. The room of Mrs. Burton’s chambermaid joined their own, and the occupant of that room having been charged by her mistress with the general care of the boys between dark and daylight, she had gradually lost that faculty for profound slumber which so notably distinguishes the domestic servant from all other human beings. She had grown accustomed to wake at the first sound in the boys’ room, and on the morning of her mistress’s birthday the first sound she heard was: “Tod!”
No response could be heard; but a moment later the chambermaid heard:
“Ah—h—h—ow!” drawled a voice, not so sleepily but it could sound aggrieved.
“Wake up, dear old Toddie, budder—it’s Aunt Alice’s birthday now.”
“Needn’t bweak my earzh open, if ’tis, whined Toddie.”
“I only holloed in one ear, Tod,” remonstrated Budge “an’ you ought to love dear Aunt Alice enough to have that hurt a little rather than not wake up.”
A series of groans, snarls, whines, grunts, snorts, and remonstrances semi-articulate were heard, and at length some complicated wriggles and convulsive kicks were made manifest to the listening ear, and then Budge said:
“That’s right; now let’s get up an’ get ready. Say; do you know that we didn’t think anything about having some music. Don’t you remember how papa played the piano last mamma’s birthday when she came down stairs, an’ how happy it made her, an’ we danced around?”
“Aw wight,” said Toddie. “Let’s.”
“Tell you what,” said Budge, “let’s both bang the piano, like mamma an’ Aunt Alice does together sometimes.”
“Oh, yesh!” exclaimed Toddie. “We can make some awful big bangsh before she can get down to tell us to don’t.”
Then there was heard a scurrying of light feet as the boys picked up their various articles of clothing from the corners, chairs, bureau, table, etc., where they had been tossed the night before. The chambermaid hurried to their assistance, and both boys were soon dressed. A plate containing bananas, and another with the hard-earned grapes, were on the bureau, and the boys took them and tiptoed down the stair and into the drawing-room.