Chapter X. The Toy Party
 

"Oh, Sidney! aren't you glad you have your Calico Clown back?" cried his sister Madeline when she saw her brother coming toward the house with his toy which he had got at Arnold's home. "I just guess I am!" said the little boy. "I thought I'd never see him again."

"And I'm glad, too," cried Herbert, as he made his Monkey go up and down the Stick. "Now we can get ready for our circus."

"Are you going to have a show?" asked Madeline.

"Yes," answered Sidney. "We have a Clown and a Monkey, and they're always the funniest things in a circus. Don't you remember when we had the show with my Monkey in it?"

"Yes. And that was lots of fun," said Madeline. "But I know something better than a show."

"What?" Sidney asked.

"A party," went on Madeline. "Let's have a Toy Party. That will be better than a show, even a circus show."

Sidney wanted to know how it would be better, and Madeline said:

"'Cause you can have things to eat at a Toy Party, and you can't always have things at a circus, lessen you buy 'em; and maybe not then, 'cepting peanuts and lemonade. Let's have a Toy Party and we can get mother to give us real things to eat."

"Oh, that will be fun!" cried Sidney. "I should say so!" agreed Herbert.

"And we'll ask Dorothy to bring her Sawdust Doll," said Madeline, "Arnold can bring his Bold Tin Soldier, and Mirabell her Lamb on Wheels. And I'll bring my Candy Rabbit."

"You did have a party for him," said Herbert.

"Well, this one can be for Sid's Calico Clown," explained Madeline. "And you can bring your Monkey on a Stick, Herb."

The idea of a Toy Party seemed to please the two boys, and Madeline was glad she had thought of it. She lost no time in getting ready for it.

"I'll go and put a new ribbon on the neck of my Candy Rabbit," she said to her brothers. "You get your Monkey and Clown all nice and clean, and then I'll ask Mother if Cook can make a special cake."

"My Monkey is clean enough," said Herbert. "Dirt doesn't show on him, anyhow. He's colored brown."

"And my Clown's pretty good, even if he did fall in a dirt hole," went on Sidney. "A Clown has to be a little dirty, for he falls all over the circus ring, you know."

"There isn't going to be any circus ring at our Toy Party," laughed Madeline. "Now I'll go and see about the cake."

"And we'll go and tell Dick, Arnold and the girls," said Sidney. "Here, Madeline, please keep my Calico Clown for me until I come back."

Away he ran with his brother, who carried the Monkey on a Stick. The Calico Clown rather hoped the long-tailed chap would be left to keep him company, but it was not to be just yet.

"But perhaps I can talk to the Candy Rabbit while Madeline is getting ready for the party," thought the Clown. "He and I are old friends."

But even this was not to be. Madeline probably did not think that the Clown would have liked to be with some of the other toys for a while. She just kept hold of the gay red and yellow fellow after her brother had handed him to her, and took him with her to the kitchen, where she knew her mother was.

"Oh, Mother! may Cook bake us a cake for the Toy Party?" cried Madeline, and, not thinking what she was doing, she laid the Calico Clown down in a large basket of oranges which the fruit man had just set on the kitchen table.

"A cake for a Toy Party?" repeated Mother. "Yes, I think so. Tell me more about it."

So Madeline told about the Toy Party that was going to be held, and how the Sawdust Doll, the White Rocking Horse, and all the other jolly creatures were to come.

"Course they won't eat the cake--only make believe," explained Madeline. "We'll eat the cake--we children."

"Yes, I supposed you would," said Mother, with a laugh as she looked at Cook.

"And, please, may I help?" asked Madeline.

"Yes," promised Cook, and then, not thinking what she was doing and not seeing the Calico Clown, who had slipped away down in among the oranges, she took the basket of fruit from the table.

"I'll just set the oranges in the ice box," she said. "They need to be well chilled for the orangeade, and it's a hot day."

And that is how it was that the Clown, a little later, found himself beginning to feel freezing cold. He had not minded being laid for a time in with the golden, yellow fruit. It smelled so nice that he shut his eyes and breathed deep of the perfume. He even took a little sleep. And then, the next thing he knew, he felt a breath of cold air after a door was slammed shut.

"Dear me! what can have happened now?" said the Calico Clown, suddenly awakening. "Am I back again at the North Pole workshop of Santa Claus? It feels like it, but it doesn't look like it. For his shop was nice and light, though it was sometimes cold. Here it is dark."

"Well, I simply am freezing!" went on the Clown. "I've got to keep warm, somehow!"

So what did he do but stand up and begin to dance around among the oranges. Up and down, first to this side and then to the other danced the jolly fellow, jerking his arms and swinging his legs. He clapped his hands together to warm them, and his cymbals clanged in the cold, frosty air of the ice box.

After a while the Clown began to feel warmer. But as soon as he stopped jumping around he felt cold again.

"I've got to keep moving, that's all there is to it!" he said to himself, and he had to dance again.

Really he must have looked funny, doing a jig on a basket of oranges, but it was not so funny for the poor Clown himself. He was beginning to get tired, and he was wondering how long he would have to keep up his exercise, when the ice-box door suddenly opened and Cook lifted out a bowl of cream.

"Oh, for the love of trading stamps!" she cried, as she saw the Clown in among the oranges. "How did you ever get there? You must be almost frozen!"

And the poor fellow would have been, if he had not danced.

"I certainly didn't see you there when I put the fruit in the ice box," went on the cook. "Madeline must have put you among the oranges."

And, of course, this was just what had happened. Naturally you may say that the reason the cook saw the Clown the second time, after she opened the ice-box door, was because some of the oranges rolled to one side, allowing the Clown to be seen. But that isn't how it happened at all. The Clown simply climbed out from among the fruit to dance and keep himself warm, and that's how he happened to be seen.

"Oh, dear me! To think I should do a thing like that!" cried Madeline, when the cook handed her the Calico Clown. "Sidney might have thought his toy was lost again if you hadn't found him. Now we'll bake the cake, and I'll put the Clown by the stove to get warm."

After a while everything was ready for the party. The cake was baked and covered with icing. There were also some crullers and some cookies.

Herbert, Sidney and Mirabell put on their party clothes, and with the Monkey on a Stick nicely brushed, the Candy Rabbit with a new ribbon on his neck, and with the last specks of dirt shaken off the red and yellow trousers of the Clown, they all waited for the others to come.

"Here's Dorothy with her Sawdust Doll!" cried Madeline, running to the window.

[Illustration with caption: "Oh, I Have So Many Things to Tell You!"]

"Yes, and Arnold is helping Dick carry over the White Rocking Horse," added Sidney. "Oh, what fun we'll have!"

"I hope Arnold brought his Bold Tin Soldier Captain and all the others," said Herbert.

Arnold brought them, and his sister Mirabell came with her Lamb on Wheels.

Then such fun as there was at the Toy Party! I really don't know whether the children or the toys enjoyed it most. But I do know that the children ate the cakes and cookies, which was something the toys could not do.

While Dick, Dorothy and the other boys and girls were in the room, the toys could not speak to one another. But when, in playing some game the lads and lassies went out into the yard, the toys had their chance.

"Oh, I have so many things to tell you!" said the Calico Clown. "I have had so many adventures!"

Then he related how the monkey had taken him up into the tree and how finally he had got back home.

"Quite remarkable," said the Lamb on Wheels. "You certainly have-- Ouch! Oh, dear!" said the Lamb, suddenly switching one of her legs.

"What's the matter?" asked the Bold Tin Soldier. "If anybody is teasing you I'll make him stop!" and he drew his sword and looked very fierce--as all tin soldiers look.

"It was nothing," said the Lamb on Wheels. "Just a pang of rheumatism. The remains of the cold I caught in one of my wheels the time I made the voyage down the brook on the raft the boys built."

Then the Sawdust Doll told of a little adventure she had had recently, when she was left in the wrong doll carriage by mistake and was taken home to the wrong house.

"Nothing as remarkable as jumping downstairs and scaring the burglars has happened to me," said the White Rocking Horse. "But Dick was riding me in the kitchen the other day and he ran me over an egg."

"Did it hurt you?" asked the Monkey.

"No; but it spoiled the egg," said the Horse, laughing.

"Well, I must say it is very nice of the children to get up a party for us like this," said the Calico Clown. "And I, for one--"

"Hush! Here they come! We must be very still and quiet!" whispered the Candy Rabbit.

And back into the room trooped the merry children, and they played more games and ate more cake until none was left, and then the party was over.

"Well, I certainly have come to a happy home," thought the Calico Clown, when he was put to bed that night on a closet shelf. "This is just as jolly as being in the store!" And he snuggled up close to the Candy Rabbit and the Monkey on a Stick. Then they all went to sleep.

THE END