Gateway to the Classics: For the Children's Hour by Carolyn S. Bailey
For the Children's Hour by  Carolyn S. Bailey

A Great Surprise

I T was very queer indeed! Tommy was walking slowly down behind the barn, with his usually merry face all scowls; and Teddy was peeping through the fence into Tommy's garden, with a whole great family of wrinkles in his forehead. Now, what was it all about?

Out in Teddy's yard grew a great, tall horse-chestnut tree, and one crisp October morning a shower of pretty brown nuts came tumbling out of their thick, green shells—down, down, down, until at last they reached the broad gravel walk and the smooth, green lawn. Teddy spied them as he came hurrying home from school at noon, and then the scowl came to make him a visit.

"That new boy has everything!" he exclaimed, crossly. "He has tops, and balls, and a bicycle, and now he has got all the horse-chestnuts. It isn't fair, it isn't." Then poor, discontented Tommy looked crosser than ever.

Tommy did not know that down in his garden grew something that the new boy, Teddy, had always longed to have—a bouncing, yellow pumpkin! How Teddy did wish that his papa had bought Tommy's house, and Tommy's garden, and Tommy's pumpkin—all three. Teddy sighed as he thought of the Jack-o'-Lantern that he could make if he had only one of those wonderful yellow treasures for his own. It was a very loud and sorrowful sigh, and Tommy heard it, and then he discovered the new boy peeping through the fence.

"Hello!" said Tommy, quickly.

Teddy jumped. He didn't know that anybody was near.

"Don't you like living here?" said Tommy. "You look as if you were homesick. Now, you come over and look at my pumpkins; I've got a whole lot of them, and they're all mine—every one of them."

Teddy sighed. "I've been wanting a pumpkin for ever so long," he said, sadly; "but they don't have gardens with pumpkins in the city, and so I never had any."

Tommy looked surprised. "Would you like one?" he asked. "Because I'll give you one of mine, if you would. Come over, and I'll give you one, now."

Teddy climbed over the fence in a hurry, and he smiled and smiled as Tommy took out his jack-knife from his trousers pocket and cut off one of the biggest pumpkins with a snap.

"You have everything, haven't you?" he said, regretfully. "You have pumpkins—whole gardens full of them, and apples, and grapes, and pears."

Tommy looked at Teddy in great surprise. "I have everything?" he said. "Why, I thought you were the one who had everything a few minutes ago. You have tops, and a bicycle—and horse-chestnuts," he added.

"Why, so I have," said Teddy. "I wanted a pumpkin so much that I forgot all about everything else. Maybe you would like some of my horse-chestnuts, would you?"

"Oh, yes," said Tommy, his eyes dancing with delight.

"You may have a whole big bagful," declared Teddy, "and I will fetch some toothpicks and show you how to make a Brownie man with them."

"And, after school, I will help you make a Jack-o'-Lantern," said Tommy. "We will help each other, and we will divide all the things we make, and then we can both have everything really and truly."

"Yes, so we can," said Teddy.

Then those tiresome scowls and wrinkles ran away in a hurry. They went a long way off, to see if they could find two cross, discontented boys. But I hope they never found you!

— "Christian Register"   

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