“Make him come up here,” begged Sally Lou, “and get him to talk for us. I know he’ll be lots of fun, for he has such a bright face.”
In a few moments the laughing young hostess was back among her guests, with John Jay following her. “Don’t you want to see all my birthday presents?” she asked, leading the way into the library and beckoning the girls to follow. “See! I found this mandolin in my chair when I went to the breakfast-table this morning, and this watch was under my napkin. This tennis-racquet was on the piano when I came up-stairs, and I’ve been finding books and things all morning.” She opened a great box of chocolate bonbons as she spoke, and filled both his hands.
[Illustration: Filled both his hands]
He looked about him with round, astonished eyes, but never said a word in answer to the eager questions of the girls, beyond a bashful “yessa” or “no’m.”
The arrival of Raleigh Stanford and one of his friends, on their wheels, put an end to the girls’ interest in John Jay. He was dismissed with a message to Sheba that sent him flying home through the woods like an excited little whirlwind. The lid of the basket flopped up and down, in time to the motion of his scampering feet. At the foot of the hill he began calling “Mammy!” and kept it up until he reached the door. By that time, he was so out of breath that he could only gasp his message. Sheba was expected to be at Rosehaven at seven o’clock, and John Jay was to take part in the performance on the lawn.
It took a great deal of cross-questioning before Mammy fully understood the arrangement. She could readily see that her services might be desired in the kitchen, but it puzzled her to know what anybody could want of John Jay. She shook her head a great many times before she finally promised that he might go.
Bud had passed a very dull morning without his adventurous brother. Now he came up with a bit of rope with which to play horse. But John Jay was looking down on such sports at present.
“Aw, go way, boy,” he said, with a lofty air. “I ain’t no hawse. I’se goin’ to a buthday-pa’ty to-night. Miss Hallie done give me an invite—me an’ Mammy.”
“Whose goin’ to stay with me an’ Ivy?” asked Bud, anxiously.
“Aunt Susan, I reckon,” answered John Jay. “Mammy tole me to go ask her. Come along with me, an’ I’ll tell you what all Miss Hallie got for her buthday. I reckon she had mos’ a thousand presents, an’ a box of candy half as big as Ivy.”
Bud opened his eyes in amazement.
“Deed she did,” persisted John Jay, enjoying the sensation he was making. “She gave me some, and I saved a piece for you.” After much searching through his pockets, John Jay handed out a big chocolate cream that had been mashed flat. Bud ate it gratefully as they walked on, and wiped his lips with his little red tongue, longing for more.
After supper, as Mammy and John Jay went down the narrow meadow path in Indian file, he ventured a question that he had pondered all day. “Mammy, does we all have buthdays same as white folks?”