What happens when a full grown Maine Coon tries to fit into her kitten toy?
“Can you reach the doorbell, dear?” Mama asked and reached for the round knob beside the door and twisted until lovely music drifted from inside.
“That’s the doorbell, Isabel.” Mama said with a smile. “It rings inside the house to let them know we are here.”
Isabel felt butterflies as she waited. She heard quick footsteps and then the door was opened by a trim young woman in a black dress and white apron.
“Good afternoon,” she said as she presented a small silver tray. “Please come in. If you give me your card, Madame, I will let Mrs. Albright know you are here.”
“My card? I don’t have a card but Mrs. Albright is expecting us,” Mama said softly as her cheeks flamed red. Suddenly, a warm friendly voice drifted to the door. “Angela, please invite Mrs. Greene and the girls in. They don’t need a card; they are close friends.”
“Yes Ma’am,” Angela curtsied and opened the door and motioned for them to come inside.
“That will be all, Angela.” Mrs. Albright said as Sally Anne ran into the foyer to greet Isabel.
“I’m so sorry, Lizzy.” Mrs. Greene said as she ushered them into the parlor. “I should have told her you were coming. You know how society is today. If one doesn’t have a card, one isn’t invited in. A ridiculous tradition if you ask me.”
Mama smiled politely. “Your home is lovely, Lillian. Just the way I remember it from our childhood.”
Sally Anne ushered Isabel into a room with two tables draped in fine linen and china. One large table and one just the right size for little girls.
“Isabel, I’m so glad you came! This is my first tea party and you are my first guest!. We will have so much fun! Mama and Cookie thought it was going to rain so they set the tables inside but now that the sun is out, the maids are moving everything outside. We may have our tea party in the flower garden!”
Isabel smiled and looked around. “There are pretty flowers everywhere.”
“You should see the treats Cookie made. Even the cake has flowers on it.” Sally Anne ushered Isabel into the kitchen but was shooed out.
“I’m sorry, Miss Sally Anne. You know your grandfather doesn’t want you to come into the kitchen and he is arriving this afternoon. If he sees you in here, I will lose my job for sure.” Mrs. Cook said as she lifted a pain of cookies out of the oven. “Why Miss. Isabel. You look so grown up today! I haven’t seen you since you were knee-high to a grasshopper! Miss Sally Anne, why don’t you show Miss Isabel your room while we finish the preparations?”
Isabel followed Sally Anne up a large, winding staircase. At the top of the stairs, Isabel looked down and felt a little dizzy until she focused on the beautifully carved banister. “Do you ever slide down the banister?”
“Yes,” Sally Anne whispered, “but only when Mother, Father and Grandfather are away and Cookie is busy in the kitchen. You’ll have to try it later when everyone it sometime,” she added with a smile. She opened the first door on the right of the long hallway and invited Isabel in.
“Wow!” Isabel exclaimed as she looked around the room twice. “It looks like a toy store!” There were dolls of all shapes and sizes on a high shelf on one wall. A cradle contained toy animals of all sizes and her bed overflowed with both under a beautiful canopy. “It’s okay,” Sally Anne said as she looked out the large bay window. “Oh-oh, the other girls are coming in their fancy car. Father asked Mother to invite them. I just wanted you to come but he said that it would be good for business if Mother invited the mothers and daughters of his employees.”
Isabel didn’t know what an employee was but she could see the girls in fancy hats and dresses looking up at the window.” Sometimes they are nice,” Sally Anne said and then rolled her eyes. We won’t let them spoil our party will we Isabel?”
Isabel shook her head and followed down the flight of stairs and stood just to the side as Sally Anne greeted her other guests.
“Isabel, I would like you to meet Arlene and Mary Polly. Girls, I would like you to meet my best friend, Isabel”
“Hello,” the girls acknowledged the introduction and then started chattering without including Isabel in the conversation. Isabel looked across the hall into the parlor where Mama held baby Maggie as two other women gushed about Mrs. Albright’s outfit.
“Tea is served in the dining room,” the maid said as she led the girls and their mothers through French doors into a beautifully decorated room. “Ladies please be seated,” she indicated the large, beautifully decorated table and then directed the little girls to a smaller table set with a small tea set and dishes with a bowl of flowers in the center along with the petite tea set.
Each little girl gasped as they sat down at their table already occupied by toy bunny rabbits!
Sally Anne tiptoed to the large table against the wall laden with many treats. “Sally Anne, you should sit down with your guests now. Angela will serve you.
“Yes ma’am,” Sally Anne said softly. “May I serve the tea? Cookie showed me how.”
“Yes, you may. Do you need any help?”
“No thank you,” Sally Anne said with a smile and ran back to the little table set just for her and her little friends.
After the girls were seated, with Sally Anne at the head of the table, Miss Angela rolled a tea cart to the small table. Sally Anne stood by the tea cart and asked Little Isabel to ask the blessing. After the prayer was said, Sally Anne became very prim and proper. She picked up the creamer and poured until each cup was more than half filled. Next, she laid a pretty strainer and poured the weak tea into each cup. She grasped the silver tongs and picked up a lump of sugar. “Do you want one lump or two?”
“One lump is quite enough Dear,” Mrs. Albright said and then turned back to Mama and the other ladies.
Isabel, Arlene and Mary Polly put their gloved hands over their mouth to stifle giggles as Sally Anne added to more lumps into each cup.
Each girl chose a sandwich in the shape of a heart and two cookies each. Isabel picked up the soft white napkin and placed it in her lap and then raised her tiny teaspoon with a floral design on the handle and gently stirred her tea; being careful not to spill it on the lovely tablecloth. The clink, clink, clink of spoons against china tea cups almost sounded like music to Isabel.
After the last sip of tea, the last treat eaten, and the giggling had ceased, Sally Anne stood and smiled at her friends.
“Thank you, Isabel, Arlene and Mary Polly for coming to my tea party! To thank you for coming, we have something special outside for everyone.
“Oh boy!” the girls said in unison as they slid their chairs back. Isabel squeezed the toy rabbit that had occupied the seat with her.
“Be sure to bring your rabbit,” Sally Anne said with a smile, “it’s for you! I have one for little Maggie too.” Sally Anne crossed the room with a small, soft rabbit and presented it to Maggie who was enjoying a cookie in a high chair near Mama.
Mrs. Albright placed her cloth napkin on the table. “Let’s all go into the garden,” she said with a smile.
There was a table outside by the hydrangea bush loaded with gifts. Each child had brought a birthday gift for their hostess, Sally Anne which were wrapped in pretty paper, tied with bright satin ribbons. There were also baskets filled with toys and six buckets containing carrots and a book.
“These are for you,” Sally Anne said. My favorite book is The Tale of Peter Rabbit and I thought you would like it too.”
“Are the carrots for feeding the toy rabbits?” Isabel asked softly.
Sally Anne smiled and pointed to the back of the lawn. “Father gave me a Peter Rabbit of my own. I thought we would have fun feeding him!”
Little Isabel smiled as she eyed the soft, brown bunny with a fluffy white tail. She watched her friend give the critter a carrot but what really had Isabel’s attention was the way his nose wiggled and twitched. Soon, all of the girls started laughing as Isabel tried to wiggle her nose and they all joined in.
Sally Anne returned Peter Rabbit to his cage and led her friends in a race to the gift table. The girls stopped suddenly and their eyes grew large at two pink cakes, each containing four candles. “I believe we have two birthday girls here today,” Mrs. Cookie said with a smile.
“That’s right,” Mrs. Albright said as she lit the candles. “Let’s all wish Sally Anne and Isabel a happy birthday!”
Isabel looked at the cake and then at Mama who urged her to blow the candles. “When I say, ‘go’ blow them out together,” Mama said. It was then Isabel saw two piles of birthday gifts. Mama had each girl sit in a decorated chair to open their gifts before having a piece of cake.
The girls slowly opened the gifts, exclaiming over each one and all five girls were given a basket of gifts, including a tin of Beatrix Potter Tea, cookies, paper dolls, a large coloring book and crayons. Isabel’s favorite was the Peter Rabbit tea set from Sally Anne.
“Isabel,” Mama said softly. “Did you enjoy your first tea party?
“Oh yes! It is my favorite day of all!”
Photos used from Pinterest. Little Isabel photograph is used with permission.
Little Isabel awakened to the song of the rooster who delighted in crowing as soon as the sun peeped through the curtain of darkness. A shaft of light through the curtain cast a glow about the room. Isabel stretched and reached for her favorite item of the week – her first tea party invitation. She looked at the picture of little girls on the card drinking tea and eating cake.
“Just one more sleep,” Mama said last night after bedtime prayers. Isabel tried to sleep but every time she closed her eyes, she thought about the upcoming tea party. .
“My eyes won’t stay closed. I want to go to the tea party now!”
“I’m sorry Dear but Sally Anne isn’t ready for your party yet.”
“Well, Mama said softly as she pushed Isabel’s hair back, “there is much to prepare for a tea party – especially if it is also a birthday party. Sally Anne’s mother and Mrs. Cookie will bake special treats, they will set a pretty table and Sally Anne will probably have a new dress to wear for her special occasion. So you see, they want everything to be perfect for the party.”
“Will they have cake?” Isabel licked her lips in anticipation. “Chocolate cake?”
“Perhaps.” Mama answered with a smile. “Is that the kind of cake you would like for your birthday?”
“Oh, yes Mama!” Isabel sat on her knees and clapped at the thought. “With candy flowers on it too! Will they have cookies?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Mama said as she eased the child back under the covers. “There may be finger sandwiches too.”
“Finger sandwiches?” Isabel popped up again but this time with trepidation as she looked down at her hands.”
” Finger sandwiches are very small sandwiches. So small that you can pick them up with your fingers and eat daintily. Just like a lady or a princess.. Now go to sleep. The faster you go to sleep, the more quickly time will pass. Besides, we have a busy day tomorrow. Remember? We are going berry picking and then after dinner we will add hair to the dolly we made as Sally Anne’s gift. Then there will be one more sleep before the party.”
“Yes ma’am.” Isabel said as she pressed her invitation close to her face. “It smells sweet like peppermint.”
“Indeed.” Mama said as she kissed the child’s forehead and pulled the covers up to Isabel’s chin. “Sweet dreams, little ~*~
Isabel stretched again and slid her legs over the side of the bed. “Good Morning!” she called to her two older brothers on the other side of the curtain wall that separated their rooms. When no one responded, she called again. “It’s morning. Wake up Eugene. Wake up, Curtis!”
After breakfast, Isabel stood on a stool beside Mama at the sink. “I love washing dishes!”
“You are my good helper, Isabel!”
A bright smile lit her face at Mama’s compliment. At that very moment, baby Maggie banged on her high chair with her rattle.
“Baby Maggie wants to help too,” Mama said with a smile as she washed the dish cloth and dish towel and hung them on the rod by the stove to dry. She scooped up the baby and led Isabel back into her room. “While I’m changing baby Maggie, you may put on the clothes I laid out for you on your bed.”
Isabel ran into her room and returned to Mama with a pair of her brother’s old overalls. “Oh-oh Mama. You put Curtis’ clothes on my bed. I can’t find my dress.”
“Since we are going berry picking, I thought it would be better if you wear pants today. I don’t want the mosquitoes and chiggers to bite you.”
Isabel’s eyes grew large at the thought of bugs chowing down on her. “Mama, do I have’ta go?”
“Certainly. Berry picking is fun – especially if you dress properly. There’s no need to be afraid. I will be right there with you.”
“Mama, are you wearing overalls too?”
“Oh yes. I will wear a pair of Papa’s dungarees. We might look funny but we will be protected from the sun and insects. Besides, no one should see us.” Mama laughed as they changed into the “boys” clothes and checked out there image in the mirror.
“I look like a boy,” little Isabel said as she looked at herself in the mirror.”
“You could never look like a boy, dear. Come and sit down at the vanity and we fix your hair so that no one could mistake you for a boy. Okay?”
“Yes, Mama.” Isabel began to smile as Mama parted her hair, pulled up one side in one hand and wrapped twine around the little tail, tied it securely, and repeated the process with the other side. “They look like piggy tails,” Isabel squealed and shook her head, watching the pig tails bounce.
“Now,” Mama said as she securely pinned the coverall straps to prevent them from falling off Isabel’s tiny shoulders. “How’s that? Did you noticed I embroidered little hearts on your pants? No little boy would wear that!”
Isabel studied Mama’s handiwork and twirled around. “They don’t swish like a dress,” Isabel said as she tried to get her pants to swish with her. She giggled as Mama cinched the belt to Papa’s dungarees and joined Isabel in twirling. “You’re right. They’re not as much fun to wear but we won’t get insect bites or scratches from briars. Now, off to the berry patch!”
Isabel and Mama rode in the buggy to the nearest berry patch. “Just think, Isabel. Soon we will have our own berry patch and not have to pay a penny to anyone to pick them.” Isabel grinned as Mama pulled baskets out of the back of the buggy. “We need as many berries as we can carry. We will have preserves and jam to last all winter! Just remember to put more berries in the baskets and less into your mouth. Okay?”
By the end of the day, Little Isabel had been washed, fed and into bed before sunset. When Mama checked on her an hour later, Isabel was still sleeping soundly with her doll on her arm and the invitation in her hand. Goodnight, little Isabel. Tomorrow you will attend your long awaited tea party!
“Mama, Mama!” Little Isabel called as she skipped on the bottom of the steps leading to the back porch.
“Isabel,” Mama said as she walked up to the screen door, wiping her hands on her apron. “What’s wrong?”
“I got a letter! See? Mr. Ratcliffe said it’s just for me!” Isabel said as she waved an envelope above her head.
“A letter?” Isabel looked back to the mail man as the screen door squeaked and closed with a gentle clap.
“Good morning, Mr. Ratcliffe,” Mama said as she reached for the mail.
“Mornin’ Mrs. Greene, hope you don’t mind that I gave the little one her mail,” he said with a smile at Isabel who continued jumping.
“It’s always fun to see children respond to having something of their own to open. Sure wish adults responded with as much joy as your little girl. The last home I delivered to had a fierce-looking dog growling at me. I was tempted to throw their mail in the yard and take off.” Mr. Ratliff removed his hat and wiped his head with a handkerchief, then fanned himself with his hat. “Sure is a scorcher and the day has barely begun.”
“Why don’t you take a moment to rest in the shade? Would you prefer water or milk? Mama asked with concern in her voice. Isabel turned and waved her envelope. “Bend down, Mr. Ratcliffe,” she said mirroring Mama’s concern. “I’ll fan your face. Isn’t that better?”
“Much better,” he said with a smile and patted the child’s head. “I think I will sit in the shade for just a minute.”
Mama returned with a pitcher of cold milk, two glasses and a plate of cookies. “Why are you walking in this heat? I noticed you didn’t come in the horse and wagon.” Mama said as she poured a tall glass of milk for the mailman and a small pewter cup for Isabel. Each took a cookie and smiled at each other as if sharing a special treat.
“Hello Charley,” Papa’s voice boomed as he stepped out of the barn and walked quickly to the guest. “Something happen to ol’ Nellie?”
“Avil Greene, you’re just the man I was looking for. Nellie’s fine but I think I broke an axle on the wagon about two miles back. I wondered if you might be able to repair it?”
Papa accepted a glass of milk from Mama and sat in the wicker chair facing the guest. “I can give it a try. Lets have a few of those delicious cookies first though,” Papa said with a smile and drank the milk in one gulp.
“Funny Papa!” Isabel said, “Your mustache is drinking milk too.” Papa smiled and wiped his mouth on the sleeve of his shirt.
“Look what I got, Papa. I got mail!” Isabel said as she started to jump for joy.
“Well, will you look at that! Who’s it from?”
Isabel’s smile began to fade. “Who is it from, Mama?” Isabel said as she watched Mama carefully open the envelope.
Mama smiled and pulled out a card. “Isabel, It looks like you have been invited to a tea party!”
“A tea party for me?”
“Lets read the card and see,” Mama said as she sat on the remaining white wicker chair and pulled Isabel onto her lap.
Mama read the poem on the card and read a note inside.
Miss Isabel Greene is cordially invited to a tea party
Saturday afternoon at the home of
Miss Sally Anne Albright.
Just bring a smile and your baby sister too.
We are looking forward to having tea and cake with you!
“Oh boy, we’re going to a tea party, we’re going to a tea party!” Isabel sang as she ran around the yard. Suddenly, she stopped and turned to Mama.
“What’s a tea party?”
“A wonderful occasion,” Mama said with a smile. “After dinner, we will have a practice tea party, and you may use a real tea cup. We will celebrate Sally Anne’s fourth birthday so you and I will make a special gift for her. Won’t that be fun?” Mama smiled as Isabel vigorously nodded her head.
“When’s the party?”
“Saturday,” Mama said with a smile. “Today is Tuesday. Saturday is after four nights – bedtimes. Lets count the days together.”
Isabel held up her hand and imitated Mama. “Tonight is Tuesday” she said as she raised one finger. Then Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and finally, Saturday! One- two-three-four!”
“Four,” Isabel said as she recounted her fingers and smiled. “Tea Party is on Thumpkin day!” Isabel said to Papa and Mr. Ratcliffe who smiled and ruffled her hair before turning to hitch the buggy to Papa’s horse.
“Thank you for my in-inv-a-mail!” Isabel shouted at the buggy turned out of the yard.
“Now,” Mama said as she gathered the glasses and placed them on the tray. “Lets go inside and decide what to make for Sally Anne before baby Maggie wakes up from her nap and your brothers get home from school.”
Isabel skipped ahead and opened the screen door. “I like tea parties!” Isabel said with a smile.
“Me too,” Mama said softly. “My little girl is growing up!”
A Word from the author:
I can just imagine the excitement Isabel and her friend Sally Anne must have shared as they waited for the day of the tea party. Mrs. Albright and Cookie’s excitement must have rivaled the children as they planned the tea party.
You can read more about Isabel in the novel, The Vision of a Mother’s Heart which was inspired by my grandmother, Isabel’s childhood. Set in rural Virginia in 1924. The Little Isabel stories would of course have taken place around 1917. As of this month, the real Isabel would have been 100 years old.
To commemorate Isabel’s birthday, we are reprinting The Vision of a Mother’s Heart through Create Space and have it published as an e-book. It should be available on line soon!
I saw the following recipe on Pinterest and thought it would be amazing for a child’s tea party.
What are your favorite summertime traditions from your childhood?
Originally posted on Katherine H. Purdy:
The weekend rain reminded me of one of my favorite chapters in The Vision of a Mother’s Heart!
In 1924 some things were done differently. Isabel’s family had a pump in the kitchen but it only pumped cold water. Families who lived in the country only took a full bath once a week as well as washing their hair. In order to conserve water during a dry season, families kept a rain barrel under the gutter to catch rain water. If you were creative, you could turn a chore such as washing your hair into a play time. My grandmother talked about washing her hair in the rain and allowed her children to do the same. When I was a child, I wanted the same experience but was told there was too much pollution in the air. So, lets enjoy Isabel and her two sisters experience from Chapter…
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Over the past few years, whenever a hymn is mentioned; I have noticed there are believers who make a face or comment they prefer praise music. This is especially true for those wonderful hymns which have stood the test of time.
When The Roll is Called Up Yonder is often sung on family shows set in in the late 1800’s. The expressions on the faces of the singers do not reflect the significance of this old hymn; however they sing their parts beautifully. Especially the bass on this song. Perhaps they are unaware of the story behind it.
In the book Al Smith’s Treasury of Hymn Histories by Alfred B. Smith.
Mr. Smith tells a precious story of the background for When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder.
(Hearing him tell the story of how Hymns were written was a wonderful experience as he also sang the song. Now he is singing in Heaven with the little girl who inspired this old favorite.)
Sunday School teacher and Epworth League (a young people’s Bible club) James M. Black was walking to the post office in Williamsport PA and decided to take a different route than usual. He walked down an alley and discovered terrible poverty he didn’t know existed in his town.
There was a young girl sweeping the porch. Although she was only fourteen-years-old; she wore the look of poverty and deprivation on her face.
“Do you go to Sunday School?” he asked.
“No sir. I’d like to but I don’t have anything fit to wear; but sir, how I’d love to go,” was her reply.
Mr. Black and his wife made sure she had clothes and everything she needed to make her feel fit to go to Church. Friends even donated clothing for her.
Soon, she was faithful in attendance to both Sunday School and the Epworth League. She was there to respond every time the roll was called until one day when her name was called there was no reply. Mr. Black became concerned that something was wrong. Perhaps her drunken father had refused to allow her to come or had beaten her again.
After Church, Mr. Black made his way through the alley to her ramshackled house. He found a very sick young lady. He sent for his doctor and the news was not good. She was diagnosed with an advanced case of pneumonia.
Walking back home, he couldn’t shake the feeling that had come over him when Bessie had failed to show up for roll call that day. Some day there will be a roll call in Heaven and oh, the sadness there will be for those whose names are not written in the Lambs Book of Life.
He had tried to find a suitable song that morning but couldn’t find one to sing which he could use to impress this truth upon the hearts of the young people. His heart was heavy and disappointed that there was not a song to sing which would impress upon their hearts the need for The Savior.
He ended the service and in his disappointment he felt this was an opportunity lost. Suddenly, a thought came to mind. Why don’t you write one? He said later, “I put away the thought but as I opened the gate and walked up the path to my house, the same thought came again so strongly that tears filled my eyes. I went into the house and sat down at the piano. Without any effort at all the words seemed to tumble from my mind.”
When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound
and time shall be no more;
And the morning breaks Eternal, bright and fair,
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
An the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.
“After the complete set of words had come, the tune then came in the same manner. I felt that I was only the transcriber – I dared not change a note or word. In a few days I more fully understood why, for our beloved Bessie went home to Heaven to await that glorious day.”
“This song was first sung publicly at her funeral and before singing it, I related the circumstances which led to its writing. Never will I forget the effect it had upon the large audience of friends who had come. The Lord had taken little Bessie home but in her place He had given a song to keep reminding us to be ready for that great roll-call day.”
When The Roll is Called Up Yonder was first published in the Epworth League songbook in 1892. It may have been overlooked and unpublished if Mr. Black had not written the manuscript in green ink. It stood out to publisher, Mr. Charles Gabriel who was editing the book. He later said, “The composer’s name was not familiar to me, but the green ink had made the song stand out. It was a new thought. I played it over, liked it and published it.” The rest is history. (ABS)
Lets sing along with the Gaither and friends as they sing Bessie’s song.
What if this Sunday School teacher had just passed by that dear child and had not invited her to Sunday School or followed through? She may have never received Christ as her Savior, her faithful attendance would not have been a catalyst to the song that has blessed and encouraged so many.
How about you? Is your name written in the Lambs Book of Life? (Revelation 20:11-15)
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved