saw her take it out again on the sly;
I don’t believe she even enjoys going a-gypseying, for she gets
neuralgia if she stands about where it isn’t dry.
And how can you boil the kettle if you’re not near the brook? But it’s
the last time she shall go there,
I told her so; I said, “What’s the good of having five sons, except to
mount guard over you, you Queen of all Mothers that
But she’s not easy to manage, and she shams sometimes, and shamming is
a thing I can’t bear.
She shammed about the red comfit, when she didn’t think Baby could
And (because they’re the only things we can think of for birthday
presents for her) she shams wearing out a needle-book and a
pin-cushion every year.
The only things we can think of for Father are paper-cutters; but
there’s no sham about his wearing them out;
He would always lose them, long before his next birthday, if Mother
did not keep finding them lying about.
Last year’s paper-cutter was as big as a sword (not as big as Father’s
sword, but as big as a wooden one, like ours),
And he left it behind in a railway-carriage, when he’d had it just
So we knew he was ready for another. It was Mother’s birthday that
bothered us so;
[Illustration: Review of the
And if it hadn’t been for
Dolly’s Major (he’s her Godfather, and
calls him “my Major"), what we should have done I really
He said, “What’s the matter?” And Dolly said,
“Mother’s birthday’s the matter.” And I said, “We can’t think what
To give her a birthday treat that won’t give her neuralgia, and will
take her by surprise.
Look here, Major! How can you give people treats who can order what
they wish for far better than you?
I wonder what they do for the Queen!—her birthday must be the hardest
of all.” But he said, “Not a bit of it! They have a review:
Cocked hats and all the rest of it; and a salute, and a feu de joie,
and a March-Past.
That’s the way we keep the Queen’s Birthday; and every year the same
as the last.”
So I settled at once to have a Mother’s Birthday Review; and that she
should be Queen, and I should be the General in command.
I thought she couldn’t come to any harm by sitting in a fur cloak and
a birthday wreath at the window, and bowing and waving
We did not tell her what was coming, we only asked for leave to have
all the seven donkeys for an hour and a half;
(We always hire them from the same old man)—two for the girls, and
five for me and my brothers—I told him, “for me and
We could have managed with five, if the girls would only have been
Maids of Honour, and stayed indoors with the Queen.