Betty Bates was just seven years old. Her next birthday would he the seventh of June. Betty had been such a good girl all through the winter that her mother said she might have a garden party on that day.
Betty clapped her hands with delight. Then she threw her arms about her mother's neck and kissed her ever so many times. After that she ran to the desk and got a pencil and paper to write down the names of those who were to be invited.
Kitty Warren was Betty's best friend. Betty's mother said that she might ask Kitty to help her make plans for the party.
Kitty was a charming girl with golden hair and large blue eyes. She loved Betty very much and was very fond of parties, too. Of course, She accepted Betty's invitation with pleasure. It was not long before the two little girls put their pretty heads together to plan for the party.
What should they play? Well, they decided on "Drop the Handkerchief," "London Bridge is Falling Down," "Jacob and Rachel," "Hide-and-go-seek," "Three Deep," "I'm on Dixie's Land," "Cat and Mouse," "Barley Bright," and "Tag."
Where should they set the table? They decided to carry a large round one under the elm trees on the lawn. Here the children could sit down and eat their supper.
And what should they have to eat? A big birthday cake! Of course, it would have to be covered with frosting and candles, and be full of little gifts for Betty's friends. This was all that Betty and Kitty planned for the table.
But, dear me! children must eat something besides cake. So Betty's mother planned to give them some other good things.
"That is all," said Kitty at last. "Oh, no," said Betty, "we must have a large bouquet of flowers at each end of the table."
"Oh, yes!" said Kitty, "and we must put cracker bonbons for favors beside each plate."
Well, the morning of June seventh dawned. It was a glorious day. The air was soft: and sweet with the breath of June blossoms. The trees were beautiful in their new spring dress. Birds were singing joyous songs in their branches. The flowers were covered with a gentle dew, mid the little water beads on their petals sparkled in the sunshine.
Betty was up bright and early. In her morning prayer she thanked the Heavenly Father for the beautiful day. Soon she and her mother were busy preparing for the party. Betty was so happy that her heart went pit-a-pat nearly all of the time. It was so full of joy that sometimes Betty thought it might burst.
And what about Kitty? Of course, she must be happy too. It was Saturday and there was no school that day. So Betty expected Kitty to be with her soon after breakfast.
Nine o'clock came, but it did not bring Kitty. Betty wondered why. By and by, the clock struck ten, and still Kitty did not appear. "Where is she, and why doesn't she come?" said Betty to her mother.
Just then the door bell rang. Some one Banded a note to the maid. It was from Kitty's mother. Betty's mother opened it. She read that Kitty was so ill that she would not be able to come to the party.
Poor Betty! When she heard this sad news, she was ready to cry. What would she do without Kitty? She loved her just like a sister. Think of it! A party without Kitty! It seemed to Betty that she could not be happy without her little friend with the golden hair and the big blue eyes.
Poor Betty! Yes, but poor Kitty, too! She was just as unhappy as Betty, and she was ill besides. There she lay on her bed, looking as pale and sad as any little girl could look. The doctor had just left the room. He had told her mother that Kitty was too ill to go to the party. She had tried to eat her breakfast, but she couldn't. The very sight and smell of food made her sick. Oh, oh, oh, how sick she was! No wonder that she could not go to the party.
And what made Kitty so sick? Well, for a month or more, she had been very careless about eating and drinking. She ate so fast that she could not chew her food enough. Instead of chewing it until it was very soft, she would swallow it in lumps. She would chew her meat just a little and then drink water and wash it down.
Kitty's mother had told her to be careful. Poor Mr. Stomach, who lived inside of Kitty, had punished her more than once by giving her sharp pains. But Kitty would forget.
And now, because she forgot, she had to stay away from a party,—and it was Betty's party! And Billy and Ben would be there, too! Poor Kitty buried her sweet, pale face in her pillow, and sobbed as if her heart would break.
But crying would not make her well. She had to stay home. The party had to be given without her, and oh! what a party it was! The children played all of the games that Betty and Kitty had planned.
Then they sat down to supper. The birds were singing about them, and Bobby Robin came near to beg a few crumbs of cake. After they had eaten their ice cream, they pulled their cracker bonbons, and out came cocked hats.
After supper, they marched about the lawn, each one wearing a cocked hat. They sang their school songs as they marched.
By and by, the little fireflies came out. They seemed to tell the children that it was time to go home, and indeed it was. All the boys and girls gave a loud cheer for Betty and wished her many happy birthdays.
Soon all the "children were in bed, dreaming of the happy day they had spent. While they were dreaming, Kitty promised herself never again to be kept away from a party because of carelessness in eating and drinking. It was not long before she, too, fell asleep, and when she awoke in the morning, she found a big bouquet of flowers in her room. There was a cracker bonbon, also, lying at the foot of her bed, and a little ring that had come out of Kitty's birthday cake. How do you suppose they came there? I think Betty could have told you.
Beloved, I pray that in all things thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
—3 John i. 2.