The Birthday Present
One afternoon, as Mama sat out on the long porch, paring apples, the children came running in. There were Cousin Pen, who was visiting at the farm, and Brother Fred and little Ben, and they all began to talk at the same time.
"To-morrow is Grandmother's birthday," they cried. "What can we give her for a birthday present?"
"I think a silk dress would be nice if we had enough money to buy it," said Cousin Pen.
"Let's give her a watermelon, the biggest one we can find," said Brother Fred.
"Or one of the new kittens; Grandmother likes cats," said little Ben.
"A roll of fresh butter, as yellow as gold and as sweet as clover," said Mama, "if you will do the churning yourselves."
"Oh, yes, we will churn," promised the children, and they ran off to their play, well satisfied, for they could think of nothing nicer than a roll of fresh butter as yellow as gold and as sweet as clover, for Grandmother's birthday present.
By and by the cows came home. Their names were Daisy and Dandelion and Dolly, and as soon as the children heard the tinkle of their bells in the lane they made haste to open the big back gate, for it was milking time.
Papa milked, and when he carried his buckets of sweet white milk to the house, Mama strained the milk into the bright tin pans that stood in a row on the dairy room shelves. The next afternoon every pan was covered with thick yellow cream, all ready for the churning. Mama skimmed the cream into the great stone churn.
"Who will churn first?" she asked.
"I will," said Cousin Pen. "I like to make the dasher go dancing up and down."
So Cousin Pen put on one of Mama's
gingham aprons and began to churn. "It
is easy to churn," she said at first, but after
a little her arms grew tired and the dasher
grew heavy. She did not think of giving
up, though, for she was churning to get her
Grandmother's birthday butter, and the
dasher seemed to say to her as it splashed
"Brother Fred's time," called Mama, and Brother Fred came running up the kitchen steps to take the dasher from Cousin Pen.
"I think it is fun to churn. I don't believe I will ever get tired," he said.
He did get tired, but he would not stop
even to rest, for he was churning to get his
Grandmother's birthday butter, and the
dasher seemed to say to
"Little Ben's time," called Mama. Little Ben had to stand on a box to churn, and his cheeks were as red as roses as he worked away.
"Don't you want us to help you?" asked the other children.
"No, indeed," said little Ben; "I guess
I can churn to get my Grandmother some
birthday butter," and he churned with a
will, till the dasher seemed to say to
Mama looked in the churn, and sure enough the flakes of golden butter were floating on the milk.
"Hurrah!" cried little Ben, "Hurrah!" cried Cousin Pen and Brother Fred, and they hurried into the kitchen to watch Mama as she gathered the butter, and worked it, and salted it, and patted it into a very fine roll. When she had done that she printed a star on top of the roll, and the butter was ready to take to Grandmother.
"You must make Grandmother guess what it is," said Mama, as she put the butter into a nice little basket and covered it with a white napkin.
"All right," said the children; so when they got to Grandmother's house they called, "Grandmother, Grandmother, guess what we have brought you for a birthday present."
"It is yellow as gold," said Brother Fred.
"It's sweet as clover," said Cousin Pen.
"We churned it ourselves," said little Ben; and Grandmother guessed what it was with her very first guess.
"It is just what I wanted," she said, and she kissed them every one. She had been thinking about them, too, all the long day, and she had baked a beautiful birthday cake for their tea.
Mama and Papa came to tea, and all together they had a merry time.
The children thought the birthday cake was the nicest thing they had ever tasted, but Grandmother said she thought nothing could be nicer than her birthday butter.