A Happy Birthday
The twelfth of October was Roses birthday, but no one seemed to remember that interesting fact, and she felt delicate about mentioning it, so fell asleep the night before wondering if she would have any presents. That question was settled early the next morning, for she was awakened by a soft tap on her face, and opening her eyes she beheld a little black and white figure sitting on her pillow, staring at her with a pair of round eyes very like blueberries, while one downy paw patted her nose to attract her notice. It was Kitty Comet, the prettiest of all the pussies, and Comet evidently had a mission to perform, for a pink bow adorned her neck, and a bit of paper was pinned to it bearing the words, For Miss Rose, from Frank.
That pleased her extremely, and that was only the beginning of the fun, for surprises and presents kept popping out in the most delightful manner all through the day, the Atkinson girls being famous jokers and Rose a favourite. But the best gift of all came on the way to Mount Windy-Top, where it was decided to picnic in honour of the great occasion. Three jolly loads set off soon after breakfast, for everybody went, and everybody seemed bound to have an extra good time, especially Mother Atkinson, who wore a hat as broad-brimmed as an umbrella, and took the dinner-horn to keep her flock from straying away.
Im going to drive auntie and a lot of the babies, so you must ride the pony. And please stay behind us a good bit when we go to the station, for a parcel is coming, and you are not to see it till dinner-time. You wont mind, will you? said Mac, in a confidential aside during the wild flurry of the start.
Not a bit, answered Rose. It hurts my feelings very much to be told to keep out of the way at any other time, but birthdays and Christmas it is part of the fun to be blind and stupid, and poked into corners. Ill be ready as soon as you are, Giglamps.
Stop under the big maple till I callthen you cant possibly see anything, added Mac, as he mounted her on the pony his father had sent up for his use. Barkis was so gentle and so willin, however, that Rose was ashamed to be afraid to ride him; so she had learned, that she might surprise Dr. Alec when she got home; meantime she had many a fine canter over the hills and far away with Mac, who preferred Mr. Atkinsons old Sorrel.
Away they went, and, coming to the red maple, Rose obediently paused; but could not help stealing a glance in the forbidden direction before the call came. Yes, there was a hamper going under the seat, and then she caught sight of a tall man whom Mac seemed to be hustling into the carriage in a great hurry. One look was enough, and with a cry of delight, Rose was off down the road as fast as Barkis could go.
Now Ill astonish uncle, she thought. Ill dash up in grand style, and show him that I am not a coward, after all.
Fired by this ambition, she startled Barkis by a sharp cut, and still more bewildered him by leaving him to his own guidance down the steep, stony road. The approach would have been a fine success if, just as Rose was about to pull up and salute, two or three distracted hens had not scuttled across the road with a great squawking, which caused Barkis to shy and stop so suddenly that his careless rider landed in an ignominious heap just under old Sorrels astonished nose.
Rose was up again before Dr. Alec was out of the carryall, and threw two dusty arms about his neck crying with a breathless voice
O uncle, Im so glad to see you! It is better than a cart-load of goodies, and so dear of you to come!
But arent you hurt, child! That was a rough tumble, and Im afraid you must be damaged somewhere, answered the Doctor, full of fond anxiety, as he surveyed his girl with pride.
My feelings are hurt, but my bones are all safe. Its too bad! I was going to do it so nicely, and those stupid hens spoilt it all, said Rose, quite crestfallen, as well as much shaken.
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