Eileen was having a party and the Popovers were excited as if they were their own.
In the first place their house was dusted and organized from top to bottom, and in the second place each of them was dressed in something new or bright in honor of the day.
Mr. Popover had a bright green ribbon around his neck. This was for Mr. Popover because his natural color was a soft brown.
Mrs. Popover wore a pretty pink shawl around her shoulders. It was made from a scrap of ribbon that Aunt Amelia had given Ellen and was used for several days as a cover on the Popovers’ dining table.
“It’s a pretty table cover,” said Elaine carefully, “but you really need something new for the party.” And we can always bring it back to the table again. People often do such things, you know.
Mrs. Popover’s face wore a gentle smile, so it was very likely that she agreed with everything Ellen said.
Velvetina Popover was really cool. Over her pink velvet dress, she wore a white mosquito net that stood out in a party-like fashion. A little white feather was pinned to her hair that Elaine had pulled from the pillow on her bed.
“You are almost as beautiful as a bride,” Elaine muttered, slowly circling Velvetina.
Mrs. Popover thought so too, but she did not say it out loud to Velvetina for fear of making her vain.
The Baby Popover was the most transformative of the party. It was dressed in yellow, round and coiled like a small cocoon, and ended at the top with a long yellow cap. Elaine was really impressed with the Baby Popover more than anyone else, but she was totally satisfied when her work was done.
In fact she was happy with all of the Popover family. She laid them carefully in their little red house, Mr. Popover sitting in the parlour, Mrs. Popover standing by the kitchen stove, Baby Popover lying in its cradle, and Velvetina setting the table for tea.
“The company will be here in a moment,” said Ellen, in her best white dress. “And I want them all to think you’re the prettiest doll ever.”
Soon company came, five little girls, daughters of Aunt Amelia’s friends, and when they saw the doll’s house and the Popovers living inside, they loved it just as Eileen had hoped.
They’ve been playing with the Popovers for a very long time. They have a tea party for them. They took them for a walk. They put popovers to bed with measles. Treat them and carry them to the shore.
The Popovers had a fun hour with five little girls and Elaine. And the five little girls and Elaine had enjoyed the Popovers so well that they were surprised when Aunt Amelia called them into the dining room to eat ice cream and cake and drink lemonade.
Then they all went to the garden where they played games and ran and tried to climb the apple tree until it was time to go home.
When the party was over and dinner was over, Eileen went to bed. She was tired, too tired to even say goodnight to the Popovers.
But the Popovers weren’t tired, aren’t they.
“It seems really a pity,” said Mrs. Popover, “when we are all dressed and the house is clean, we should not throw a party ourselves.”
“Why can’t we have a party?” asked Mr. Popover. “Why can’t we have a party once everyone is asleep?”
Mrs. Popover’s answer was, “No reason.”
And upon hearing this good news, Velvetina clapped her hands and bounced little Lu-Lu in his cradle as if to say, “Oh, let’s have a party, do it.”
“Isn’t it your birthday, dear?” Mr. Popover asked about his wife. “It seems to me that you haven’t had a birthday in a very long time.”
“Maybe it’s my birthday,” replied Mrs. Popover. “I’ve been so busy since we moved downstairs that I’ve really lost all track of time.”
Mr. Popover decided, “We’ll call it your birthday, and we’ll throw a party as soon as the peanuts arrive.”
Mrs. Popover sprang up at once, to prepare refreshments for the party. Fortunately, that afternoon, one of the little girls dropped a large currant cake under the table in the playroom.
“Just the thing we use for refreshments,” said Mrs. Popover, spying on him as she lay there. ‘Mr. Popover, if you bring that cake, I’ll set the table.
She published her best porcelain and glazes. The table looked good when it was finished.
Then came the peanuts.
He had heard the noise of the party that afternoon. He had even caught a glimpse of the five little girls and Elaine, though of course they hadn’t seen him. But Brownie did not care to hear about that party when he learned that it was Mrs. Popover’s birthday, and that she had been waiting for him to come before the celebration began.
Mr. Popover pulled aside at once.
“Do you have gifts for Mrs. Popover?” Asked.
‘gifts?’ Mr. Popover said. ‘no.’
“There are always presents at birthday parties,” Peanut said.
So all the family, except for Mrs. Popover, set out to search the playroom for Christmas presents. Mr. Popover carried Loo-Loo, and Peanut and Velvetina walked hand in hand.
Mrs. Popover, alone in the house, spent most of the time peeping out the window at her family walking around. She couldn’t help it, she wanted to know what they were going to find.
When they returned Mrs. Popover was delighted with her presents.
First of all, there was a watch. It was a small toy watch that Ellen sometimes wore on a string around her neck. But hanging on the Popovers’ living room wall would have served the purpose of the clock very well.
“I always wanted an hour,” said Mrs. Popover, “but I never thought I should have one. Now if we move near a school I can promise the teacher that Velvetina will never be late.”
Then there was a candy-box, a little blue candy-box, empty, it is true, but of great use, announced Mrs. Popover.
“I can use it as a sofa, with couch cushions, or as a box to hold our clothes,” she said.
Loo-Loo and Velvetina each had a flower for their mother. Peanut rushed into a bowl on the table and threw flowers on the floor.
Everyone was delighted when they sat down in the dining room at the table for refreshments. They were so happy that they laughed happily together as they gnawed at the currant cake.
Maybe they laughed too loudly. Maybe they scraped their chairs on the floor. Perhaps Velvetina’s perky voice had grown a little hoarse.
However, in the midst of the party, they heard footsteps coming down the hall.
It was Uncle Henry. They all knew him by the flutter of his slippers when he came. Did they wake him up from his sleep?
Straight into the playroom walked Uncle Henry. Capture the light. He stared at the room on the floor at every nook and cranny.
‘I thought I heard a mouse,’ said Uncle Henry.
From a crack in the ground, two bright black eyes peeped out. But of the good little peanut Uncle Henry saw no sign.
Look at the doll house. The Popovers stood stiff and upright as Elaine had left them that afternoon.
‘Hmm! crumbs! Uncle Henry said.
Then he walked out of the hall to bed.
In the morning, Elaine didn’t know what to think of her dollhouse.
I leave no crumbs, said Eileen to Aunt Amelia, who had come to set a mousetrap in a corner of the playroom. And I don’t remember hanging my clock in the living room nor putting my blue candy box here. Don’t you think it’s strange, Aunt Amelia?
“I know I never left the dollhouse so”
“Perhaps the Popovers could tell you how it happened,” Aunt Amelia suggested.
But Elaine didn’t ask the Popovers because she knew full well they wouldn’t tell.
|Velvetina and peanuts.
The previous chapter and the follow-up…