The Making of Marty
by Elsie Talmage Brandley
Chapter 5 – The May-Day party
Claire and Dora, in their next letter to Marian in California, told her all about the event of the book and Marty’s part in making everything right again. They reminded her of the contest the year before, and Judith’s anger when the prize was given to Jessie. Everyone could remember how small it had shown Judith to be, for she had given a party and invited everyone at school except lonely little Jessie Sayre who had so little of sunshine in her life.
Marian gave the letter to her aunt and uncle to read. Dr. Lane read it aloud, and choked when he came to the part about Marty standing up for the right in spite of the fact that Judith had been her dear friend. Marty’s mother cried in reality, but they were tears of joy she shed. Knowing her little daughter as she did, she could imagine just what a struggle it had been for her, especially when it was for the sake of a big, bashful farmer boy. As soon as her husband had finished reading the letter, Mrs. Lane went to her desk and wrote to her little girl in Springdale.
Dearest Little Daughter:
Marian has just let me read the letter from her sisters, telling about the affair you had at school over the missing story-book.
I felt very sorry that Judith would do a thing like that, for I know from your letters that you were very fond of the girl, and thought her a very nice friend.
We did have to smile about Dan Smedly. I can see him in my mind, for I went to school in a little town, too, and a great many of the boys were larger and older than the rest of us. I can see his honest, plain face when he knew there was a chance for him to be a real hero. But Dan is young yet and doesn’t know that a wrong can never be made right by a falsehood. It was considerate and kind of him to want to save Jessie from the shame it would bring, but the best thing was for the really guilty one to be found out.
And my heart aches for little Jessie. Poor child! She should be having a care-free happy little-girlhood instead of doing a grown person’s work, and I feel that I’d like to take her and give her every joy she is missing. Claire says her birthday is on May Day, so I’m thinking it would be a lovely thing to have a party for her. I’m sending you some money to pay for a little one, and this afternoon I’ll go to town and send a box of paper caps and May baskets. Then you must be sure to write and tell me all about the May Day Birthday.
I have some good news for you. In my last letter I told you that I had taken a few steps. Since then I have been walking a little farther each day without becoming too tired. I am very thankful and happy for this blessing, for I feel that now I can better do my share of the world’s work, and help to carry forward all that my grandparents started when they left their beautiful home in England and came across the plains for the gospel’s sake.
And you must always remember, Marty dear, that you have a work to do, too. You are only a little girl, but your duty is to stand up for the right, in what you think and say, and do. I was proud and glad to hear that you had done that, and I’m sure that it was a very lovely way of proving that you “wish to love everyone.”
Marty read this on the way home from school a few days later.
“How lovely!” she cried, and then told Claire and Dora of her mother’s plan for a birthday party for Jessie.
“I can hardly wait to see the caps and things that she’s going to send. Won’t Jessie be happy?”
The girls rushed home to talk the matter over with Mrs. Conway. She was very busy always, with her family of growing boys and girls, but each of her children knew that she would spare a few minutes to listen to whatever they had to talk about, and would try to find time to help them in whatever plans they made.
“Do you think it will be too much work, Aunt Nanna?” Marty asked. “We don’t want to wear you out, but oh, we do want the party.”
“No, Marty, it won’t be too much work with each of you girls lending a hand. We couldn’t try to do very much in the way of serving, but if cake and ice-cream would be enough, we could manage it nicely.”
They decided upon chocolate cake and vanilla ice-cream, and the girls made quick work of supper and the dishes, so that they could plan the games and make a list of guests.
Next morning they ran to school so fast that they had no breath to tell Jessie what they had to tell. Finally after much gasping and laughing they made Jessie understand all about it, but instead of the squeal of joy they had expected, she put her head down on the desk and burst into tears. It was a shock to the others, but they felt that Jessie was crying because she was too happy to do anything else, so they waited patiently until she had stopped sobbing and could speak to them. When she raised her head, her eyes were swollen but there was a light of gladness in them that made them shine like blue stars.
“Don’t think I’m not thankful,” she said in tremulous tones. “That is what made me cry – just being so glad and thankful to know that you really like me and want me to come to your party!”
“Not our party, Jessie. It is to be your very own party, on your very own birthday. We don’t know exactly how many you can invite until the box comes from mother. She is sending some things for the party.”
“If I couldn’t invite a soul I would be just as happy. It isn’t the party itself so much as the glad feeling inside of me that makes me feel so good. Mama will be just as happy as I am, and Tommy will nearly take a fit. He always does when he is very much excited.”
The box came that afternoon and was opened by Marty, with Claire and Dora rushing about to find scissors to snip the string. It was a large package and the girls could scarcely wait to get a peek at what was inside of it. When Marty lifted the tissue paper wrappings off, there was a cry of “Oh! how pretty!” from all three of them. There were ever so many of the daintiest little baskets imaginable, made in the shapes of different flowers. The paper petals curled gracefully to hide the box within, and the handles were entwined with green, and had small paper flowers fastened here and there in dainty bunches.
“Don’t they look natural?” Dora marveled.
“I should think they would smell good when they look so life-like,” answered Claire.
Marty lifted them out one by one, and each seemed lovelier than the last. As she raised them, the others named the flowers.
“Rose, violet, daffodil, poppy, daisy, buttercup, lily, sweet pea, sunflower, marigold, bachelor button, carnation!”
It was a bright array of flower-baskets standing on the table and Marty and her cousins stepped back a little to admire the effect. It looked like a garden.
“Twelve of them. There are nine girls in our grade, and Dora will make ten. I wonder who else Jessie will choose?’
“Her little brother Tommy, for one, I think. She never goes any place without him – treats him as though he were just her own age.”
Further search in the big box revealed the fact that instead of caps, Marty’s mother had sent twelve cap-sets, one to match each basket. In a set there was crepe paper in green and some other color, wire to make the petals stiff, and small metal clasps for fastening it all together.
“What a nice game it will be to make caps to match our baskets. At most of our parties we play ‘button, button’ and ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ and ‘hunt the slipper’ and ‘drop the handkerchief,’ but I’ve never been to one where we made hats,” said Claire delightedly.
“I think it will be fun – oh, look!” cried Marty, for pressed flat at the very bottom of the box was a crepe paper dress to match the buttercup basket, and on it was pinned a little note, “For the May Queen.” She held the dainty yellow mass up and the other two admired it with every exclamation of delight they could think of.
“Won’t Jessie be pleased!”
“And won’t she look nice in it?”
“She’ll want to keep it all her life, for she’s never had such a pretty dress before.”
Claire sent out to find her mother and bring her in to see the new treasures. She was as happy over them as the girls themselves.
“We must change our lunch, and have sandwiches and cookies packed in these darling baskets. I have a flower cutter, and can cut both out with it. Then I’ll make jello and put in individual molds, and have a real flower in the center of each one. Of course you can’t eat the flowers, but they look sweet and will make the party a real flower-party.”
“Goody, goody,” cried the girls, and took turns giving her a big hug.
They could not wait until morning to carry the good word to Jessie, so arm in arm they set off down the street toward the humble little home where Mrs. Sayre lived with her two children.
A feeble “Come in” greeted their knock, and they opened the door. Jessie’s mother was lying on the couch, and nobody else was in the room.
“Is Jessie at home, Mrs. Sayre?” asked Dora.
“No, my dear. Jessie works after school, you know. She is down at Sandstroms’, and won’t be home until eight or nine o’clock. She does the supper dishes and puts the baby to bed before she gets back.”
“Would Mrs. Sandstrom mind if we ran down and talked to Jessie a minute? We’ve something very important to tell her!” Marty was impatient to have Jessie know all about her party.
“That would be all right, I think,” said Mrs. Sayre, and in five minutes the three were at Sandstroms’ door talking to Jessie.
She grew pink and excited as she listened to the description of the flower-party to come. When Marty asked her to suggest two others to invite, Jessie did not hesitate a moment.
“My little brother Tommy for one, and Judith Grayley. I don’t like to hold feelings toward anyone.”
So Judith was invited, but she promptly refused to accept, with the proud little toss of her head they all knew so well.
“Let’s not ask anyone else,” said Dora. “Couldn’t we fix a basket and send to Mrs. Sayre?”
“I thought of that,” confessed Jessie, “but I didn’t want to seem selfish and take three of those dear little baskets for my own family, so I decided to take mine to her.”
May Day came on Saturday, and Mrs. Sandstrom gave Jessie half the day to have free. She also gave her a pair of new shoes for a birthday gift, and it was a radiant and joyous girl who in the gay yellow dress and buttercup hat greeted the friends who came to her party.
Such a merry party it was, too. Everyone in her class loved the quiet little girl who worked so hard in school and out, and all were glad to see her having a happy time.
The hat making took most of the afternoon, for the girls wanted to have hats which would look as nice as the baskets they matched, and most of them succeeded very well. Jessie, whose hat was made before the party, helped Tommy with his, and he looked very nice in the blue bachelor button which had been given to him, as he was the only bachelor present.
The lunch was delicious and so unusual in its flower-scheme that it seemed cruel to spoil the looks of it by eating. However, the thing was done, and all thought flower-shaped sandwiches tasted much nicer than plain ones. After eating, the crowd trooped down to the creek to get a basketful of buttercups for their “Buttercup May Queen,” which made her so happy that she could not thank them, but just laughed and choked to keep from crying.
Before going to bed that night Marty wrote a long letter to her parents, telling them every detail about the party. She signed her name, and then added a little, which read:
“P.S. This is the very nicest party I’ve ever had. Do you think it is because it was for somebody else instead of just myself? I do.”