“Don’t it look beautiful?” said Prue, when they paused to admire the general effect.
“Pretty nice, I think. I wish Ma could see how well we can do it,” said Tilly. The short afternoon had passed so quickly that twilight had come before they knew it. They were just struggling to get the pudding out of the cloth when Rosy called out, “Here’s Pa!”
“There’s folks with him,” added Rhody.
“Lots of ’em! I see two big sleighs chock-full,” shouted Seth, peering through the dusk.
“I see Aunt Cinthy, and Cousin Hetty—and there’s Mose and Amos. I do declare, Pa’s bringin’ ‘em all home to have some fun here,” cried Prue, as she recognized one familiar face after another.
“Hooray for Pa! Hooray for Thanksgivin’!”
The cheer was answered heartily, and in came Father, Mother, Baby, aunts and cousins, all in great spirits, and all much surprised to find such a festive welcome awaiting them.
“Ain’t Gran’ma dead at all?” asked Sol, in the midst of the kissing and handshaking.
“Bless your heart, no! It was all a mistake of old Mr. Chadwick’s. He’s as deaf as an adder, and when Mrs. Brooks told him Mother was mendin’ fast, and she wanted me to come down today, he got the message all wrong, and give it to the fust person passin’ in such a way as to scare me ’most to death, and send us down in a hurry. Mother was sittin’ up as chirk as you please, and dreadful sorry you didn’t all come.”
“So to keep the house quiet for her, and give you a taste of the fun, your pa fetched us all up to spend the evenin’, and we are goin’ to have a jolly time to jedge by the looks of things,” said Aunt Cinthy. Tilly and Prue were so elated by the commendation of Ma and the aunts that they set forth their dinner, sure everything was perfect.
But when the eating began, which it did the moment wraps were off, then their pride got a fall; for the first person who tasted the stuffing (it was big Cousin Mose, and that made it harder to bear) nearly choked over the bitter morsel.
“Tilly Bassett, whatever made you put wormwood and catnip in your stuffin’?” demanded Ma, trying not to be severe, for all the rest were laughing, and Tilly looked ready to cry.
“I did it,” said Prue, nobly taking all the blame, which caused Pa to kiss her on the spot, and declare that it didn’t do a mite of harm, for the turkey was all right.
“I never seen onions cooked better. All the vegetables is well done, and the dinner a credit to you, my dears,” declared Aunt Cinthy.
The pudding was an utter failure, in spite of the blazing brandy in which it lay—as hard and heavy as a stone. It was speedily whisked out of sight, and all fell upon the pies, which were perfect. But Tilly and Prue were much depressed, and didn’t recover their spirits till the dinner was over and the evening fun well under way.
When Eph struck up “Money Musk” on his fiddle, old and young fell into their places for a dance. All down the long kitchen they stood, Mr. and Mrs. Bassett at the top, the twins at the bottom, and then away they went, heeling and toeing, and taking their steps.
Apples and cider, chat and singing, finished the evening, and after a grand kissing all round, the guests drove away in the clear moonlight which came just in time to cheer their long drive.
When the jingle of the last bell had died away, Mr. Bassett said soberly, as they stood together on the hearth, “Children, we have special cause to be thankful that the sorrow we expected was changed into joy, so we’ll read a chapter ’fore we go to bed, and give thanks where thanks is due.”