Ladies and Gentlemen, here it is at long last! The August issue of the Pickwick Portfolio. Please accept my extreme apologies in the lateness of this issue! Your patience is appreciated. My goodness, that did sound very professional didn't it? Just a quick note about Under The Greenwood Tree . Since school schedules will be starting up soon, there will not be any of UTGT in the next issue. To make up for it, I have made part two longer than normal. Enjoy, and long live the Portfolio!
- Mr. Sam Weller
The Pickwick Portfolio
In this issue:
- “‘The Search for the Perfect Body’ by Mary Walters Riskin – Summary and Opinion” by Nathaniel Winkle
- “Under the Greenwood Tree – Part II” by Sam Weller
- Quotes to Notecompiled by Augustus Snodgrass and Sam Weller
- Note-able Composers“Claude Debussy” compiled by Augustus Snodgrass“Leonard Bernstein” compiled by Augustus Snodgrass
- Kitchen Korner“S’mores Pie” compiled by Augustus Snodgrass
- Nonsensical Notions“A Humorous, Short Story” compiled by Augustus Snodgrass“Riddles” compiled by Sam Weller
- Story Time“The Garden Party – Part II” by Katherine Mansfield, contributed by Theodore Winstint
- Poet’s Corner
- “The Snake” by Nathaniel Winkle
“Siblings” by Nathaniel Winkle
“Wanderlust” by Nathaniel Winkle
This paper is part of a club called the “Pickwick Club.” The Pickwick Portfolio, as this paper is called, is designed for the good of the readers. Its purpose is to serve as a paper of news, entertainment, and fun. Please take note of our two continuing series: “Under the Greenwood Tree,” fan fiction by Sam Weller, based on Howard Pyle’s The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, and “The Garden Party,” a short story by Katherine Mansfield and contributed by Theodore Winsint, which we have divided into five parts over five issues. Enjoy!
READ, LAUGH, ENJOY!
“THE SEARCH FOR THE PERFECT BODY” BY MARY WALTERS RISKIN – SUMMARY AND OPINION
by Nathaniel Winkle
In “The Search for the Perfect Body,” Mary Walters Riskin discusses the effects of the media portraying only certain people with seemingly perfect bodies. Walters Riskin takes a look at effects of being surrounded by models and actors/actresses every day and how this affects our body image in a negative way. Walters Riskin goes on to say that seeing people with seemingly ideal bodies everywhere we go makes us more conscientious of how we look in comparison. She contemplates how advertisers and businesses use the negative feelings people have about themselves to their financial gain. Walters Riskin explains how companies for cosmetics and plastic surgeons and weight loss programs direct their ads at the insecurity we feel about ourselves, with ads promising us a more beautiful body, giving us the mindset that you need to look a certain way in order to be happy or successful. Mary Walters Riskin sums up her article by stating that the media is slowly portraying more people as they really are but that we can change our attitude instead of our bodies, as well. Walters Riskin believes that we should accept who we are, because we are unique, and there is only one of us in the world, and that when we start seeing ourselves as a unique person, we start to develop self confidence. Mary Walters Riskin points out that the media is a big influence on how we see ourselves and that having a positive attitude about our appearance despite what other people think or say is key to feeling happy and comfortable with ourselves.
Mary Walters Riskin makes a good point in her article “The Search for the Perfect Body” about accepting who you are and not trying to look perfect, because there really is no such thing, and everyone is unique and beautiful in their own way. It is true that the media often only portrays certain races and body types; this means that only a small fraction of people are represented, and anybody that is not of a certain race or skin colour or body type is made to feel inferior. This has a negative effect on people’s self image and confidence, particularly young girls and women in general. We look in the mirror, but we don’t see the good; we can only see what we consider negative. We walk outside feeling like everyone is judging our looks and particularly the aspects of it that we consider ugly or appalling. Feeling inadequate, we walk around so self conscious that we can’t see ourselves for the one-of-a-kind person that we are. Everywhere we go we see images of what we should look like, and if we do not meet those beauty standards, we are told that we must eat certain things or do certain activities or even get surgery to fix our flaws in order to fit in. We should learn to love our bodies, because there is no one else like us, and there never will be. Walters Riskin's article is very informative on how we are influenced by the media and other sources and how this plays into how we view our bodies and what we base our self worth on, and that changing our attitudes matters more than changing our bodies.
UNDER THE GREENWOOD TREE – PART II
by Sam Weller
… “My lord,” spoke the shorter man, “this maid wishes to speak to you.” He nodded at the girl to speak. “Are you… are you Robin Hood?” she asked. The yellow haired man stood up and looked at her. “I am.”
The girl paused, unsure of how to proceed. She bit her lip, and frowned ever so slightly to gather her thoughts. “Sir I,... I sought you out because.. I am in need of help.. Well to say truth, I am in need of a home and.. Well,.. Sir, I have come to ask that I might remain here in the forest with you, as a member of your band.” There. It was out. Silence reigned in the forest. All eyes were on her, in a state of disbelief, and wonder. But she stood, unwavering as Robin Hood looked at her, with deep caring (and somewhat humoured) blue eyes. “ Pray tell what a maiden so young and fare as yourself came to this point. For marry, I believe there is a reason behind this strange request. Is there not a reason for everything, even life itself? He looked her square in the eyes as he said this, watching her, staring into her. Her eyes flickered, with fear for a split second, then her shoulders slumped and her bravedo failed her. Her eyes washed over with grief, and Robin thought he had never seen such sorrowful eyes, so deep, so sad, as if the weight of the world were on her shoulders, and none could share the burden, or ease the pain. His heart went out to her. “It is as you say.” She confessed, “but it is a lengthy tale, I must warn you.” “Then fair maid, sup with is before you begin. For how long have you ridden? And when did you last satisfy your stomach's knaw?” “I have been riding since mid morning, nad have not eaten since last night.” came the weary response. “ Marry then! You must be famished. Come hither with me.”
Venison, fowl, and all manner of the like were spread before her, roasted to perfection. Meat pies and pasties with gravies and puddings as well as cheese, bread, fruit, and various vegtables were also there. Ale, beer, sack, and the like flowed freely, with honeyed cakes to go with it. The men who had been busy now came, till the whole cloth was filled. Then they began to eat. For a long while the joked and quaffed, laughed and teased one another as the plates were slowly emptied, and the jugs drank dry. Eventually though, they all, one after another, had eaten their fill, and sprawled out on the soft grass. Robin turned to the girl. “Now maiden. Now that you have eaten your fill, pray tell us your story, and what drove you to make such a request of me.” The girl nodded, and all men turned to hear her story.
“My name oh men, is Rosalyn O' Font. My father is one of our noble King Richard's knights, but because of his long years of service, is allowed to live out the rest of his days in peace in this fair land. I am his second child, and his only daughter. My brother, four years ago, left to be in the king's army. I remained with my mother and father, being not yet engaged. Two years ago, my mother fell ill, and but two months ago, she died, God rest her soul. My father loved mama dearly, more than life itself. He took her death very hard, and has slowly succumbed to his grief, seldom seeing anyone, but a few of his closest friends. But as of late, he has been out and about more, seeing many people, and going to many places.'
'One might think this to be a good thing, and so I thought, till he returned home a fortnight ago from one long trip, and this time with a guest. He told me that I was to be engaged to this man, as soon as could be arranged. Now if this man was a young knight, and a man of character and stature, perhaps I might have fallen in love with him, as my father commanded me to do. But one can not fall in love with a gentleman at first sight, and a stranger, what's more. But what turned my heart against him within me was the strong and evident fact that this man was no gentleman! He was at least twice my age, with a face like a snake's. His eyes were cruel and greedy, and the way he looked at me was enough to put fear in my heart. I swore to myself that I would never marry this man, and I told my father so. We have always been honest with one another and so I thought he would take it well, but no. He looked at me with such a look as I had never seen, even when he was in his deepest anger, and told me that I would marry that man, whether I wished it or not. I then realised that my father was not my father any more, that his grief had poisoned his heart, and his mind. I continued to resist him, and reminded him many times of the promise he held to my dear mother, to never force me to marry a man I didn't love, but a day ago, he threatened me with horrid threats, to comply to his wishes. Then I realized that I had no choice but to flee, for even if he would not carry out his threats, I most certainly would not be happy. So I have come hither to find you, and to ask if you would accept me into your band.”
Robin sat, surveying the her. She was young, and very pretty. Her long brown hair was pulled back in a simple braid. Her dress was sky blue, with slashed false sleeves. A belt of gilded leather was about her waist. Physically, she was strong, and she was tall and slim. Her dark brown eyes were calm now, but behind the mask of feigned strength, was deep sorrow. He pitied her, and already he knew that he would allow her to remain in the forest with them. But he did not say this. Instead, he questioned her further. “Were you not frightened to come to me, after hearing of my reputation?” For it was well known among the wealthy of Nottingham that Robin was a thief. “ I am not easily frightened sir, and I know of your oath never to harm or molest any women or child, thus I had no fear of you, save of what you might say.”
Robin said nothing, but said suddenly, “String a target, one of you, so we may have some sport!” Several men rushed to do his bidding as a shout went up. “One can not dine with us in Sherwood without some games, maid.” He explained. “Of course. Often have I heard of the shooting in Sherwood forest.” Though her voice remained calm and soft, he caught a hint of frustration in her voice. Turning to her, he saw her disappointment. “I promise you maid, I will consider your request with the utmost care.” She nodded. “Good. Now, be merry with us, and watch the sport, for my men haven't shot for a lady in many a month.” Robin's eyes sparkled with laughter, but the lady herself laughed aloud; a sweet, clear, merry laugh. “Oh, this shall be a merry bout indeed, for the winner shall most certainly win my favour.” Robin smiled, and they walked to were the garland had been strung, several yards off.
So the great match began, each man choosing his best bow, his straightest arrow, and all shooting worthy of recognition. Finally it was Robin's turn. He took careful aim, and let the arrow fly. No one breathed as it speed towards the target, and lodged in the centre of the wreath. Shouts went up, for it was a good shot, and it seemed Robin was the winner.
But as he turned, there stood Rosalyn with a strung bow, waiting behind him. “May I shoot, my lord?” A murmur went through the wood, as Robin nodded, and made way. She stepped up to the target. If the wood was silent before, it was deathly still now. No one moved, no one breathed, no one dared to think. The bow was up, the string was back, and with a twang, the arrow was off. It flew straight and true, with the speed of the wind, and lodged directly on top of Robins arrow, flinging it aside with force, and taking its place. There was a pause, like the calm before a storm, and then a roar of shouts went up. Rosalyn stood, breathing again, silent and solemn, as if she could scarce believe it herself. Finally, once the wood was once again quite, she turned to Robin. “How did you learn to shoot so well?” She laughed, a little breathless laugh. “My brother sir. He said he would not have his sister a delicate creature, and taught me to shoot, so that I could rival any man.” “And rival them you did, Rosalyn.” She looked at him closely. “Ahh, but you name should no longer be Rosalyn but Rose, Lady of the Wood.” And then her eyes lit up, and joy of joys, she understood his words. He laughed. “Welcome to the forest Rose.”
QUOTES TO NOTE
compiled by Augustus Snodgrass and Sam Weller
“Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.” – George Edward Woodberry
“Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.” – Frank Herbert
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“Courage is found in unlikely places.” – J. R. R. Tolkien
“Inspiration arrives as a packet of material to be delivered.” – John Updike
“Let your mind alone, and see what happens.” – Virgil Thomson
“Be great in act, as you have been in thought.” – Jean Paul
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” Lao Tzu
“You may find the worst enemy of best friend in yourself.” English Proverb
“Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.” Winston Churchill
“Live each day as if your life had just begun.” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
“The great thing in this world is not so much where you stand, as in what direction you are moving.” Oliver Wendell Holmes
“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.” Jim Rohn
“If not us, who? If not now, when?” John F. Kennedy
“I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” Bill Cosby
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Many of life's failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas Edison
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King Jr.
“I am thankful for all of those who said NO to me. It’s because of them I'm doing it myself.” Albert Einstein
by Augustus Snodgrass
Claude Debussy, born August 22, 1862, had a very interesting life. He was born near Paris in St. Germain-en-Laye where his father owned a china shop, and his mother’s occupation was a seamstress. He started studying at the Paris Conservatory at age ten in 1872. There Claude outraged teachers with weird harmonies that broke all rules. From 1880 to 1882, he was part of a piano trio for Nadezhda von Meck, taught children piano, travelled around Italy and Russia, and became familiar with Russian music. In 1883, Debussy got second place in Prix de Rome and then finally won the Prix de Rome in 1883 for his cantata L’enfant Prodigue; however, he felt Rome was a dreary exile from the cafes of Paris and so only stayed there from 1884 to 1887. During the peak of his career in the 1890s, he was a pianist, conductor, and collaborative artist; Claude’s music was described as “supple music easily adaptable to the lyrical fantasy of dreams and of the soul.” During this time he wrote Pelleas et Melisande, an opera based on drama of symbolist poet Maurice Maeterlinck. Despite criticism, it was a success worldwide. From 1900 to 1914, Debussy travelled through Europe conducting his works and holding the reputation as the foremost music critic of his time in artistic journals. He had daughter Claude-Emma with singer Emma Bardac in 1805 and then married Emma three years later. In his last years, Claude Debussy was part of the advisory board of the Paris Conservatoire and worked with Faure, Satie, Chausson, Ravel, and Stravinsky. During 1914, the start of World War I, he did not compose. Claude Debussy died in 1918 from cancer during the bombardment of Paris.
Claude Debussy’s style of music was quite innovative at the time. His style opposed the classic themes of the Classical and Romantic eras. Previously, French music was clear, elegant, and simple. Claude’s music, however, was dreamy and vague. He sought to liberate music from past conventions and traditions, and his impressionist style sought to evoke an image, subtle and discreet. Debussy’s music requires a large orchestra, but not a loud sound. This is created with a muted, airy texture, so that single instruments stand out against the whole ensemble. Claude Debussy’s piano music had a distinctive style with use of register contrast, pedal to blend sounds, clash of dissonance, and use of non-Western scales.
Claude Debussy composed in a number of different genres. These include orchestral music, such as “Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune” and “La Mer”; dramatic works, such as opera Pelleas et Melisande and ballet Jeux; chamber music, such as string quartets and sonatas; piano music, such as “Pour le Piano,” “Estampes,” two books of Preludes, and 12 Etudes; and songs and choral music.
Many of Claude Debussy’s pieces are famous today, but perhaps his most famous piece of music, “Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune,” was written when Debussy was thirty-two years old (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYyK922PsUw). One of my personal favorites – in fact, I even had the privilege to play it myself this past year – is “Passepied” from the Suite bergamasque
- 7 -
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjtY8QEIkLQ). In summary, Claude Debussy had a large impact on the music world and is still remembered today for his incredibly beautiful and dreamy melodies. We all wish you a happy birthday, Debussy!
by Augustus Snodgrass
Leonard Bernstein was born on August 25, 1918, in Massachusetts. His parents were Russian-Jewish immigrants. Leonard started studying at Harvard at age seventeen, where he studied composition and conducting. In 1943, Bernstein received the position of assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic. He subbed at last minute on a national broadcast and instantly became star! During his career, Leonard Bernstein was a composer, educator, pianist, and television personality. He died in 1990.
Leonard Bernstein’s style of music straddled classical and popular styles. He made use of classical composition techniques for Broadway, dissonant harmonies, jazzy rhythms, and soaring melodies. Leonard also had an incredible gift for orchestration.
The variety of genres that Leonard Bernstein composed in is admirable. He wrote for orchestra, chorus and orchestra, operas, musicals, ballets, film scores, chamber music, instrumental music, and solo vocal music.
Two quite well know pieces of music composed by Leonard Bernstein are “Mambo” (Dance at the Gym) and “Tonight” (Ensemble) from West Side Story. Leonard Bernstein contributed a lot to the modern era of music. Happy birthday, Bernstein!
Note: Thanks to my music teacher for describing the styles of music of these two composers and for compiling the biographies!
compiled by Augustus Snodgrass
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cups graham flour or whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup bread flour
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon honey
- 3 tablespoons ice water
Graham piecrust (for 9-inch pie shell):
- 6 ounces graham cracker, recipe above, ground
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
Chocolate ice cream:
- 1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups milk
- 3/4 cup cream
- 6 egg yolks
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (72 percent), chopped
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the graham cracker:
Cut butter into small cubes, add graham flour, bread flour, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder, and chill until everything is cold. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Paddle the dry ingredients on low speed until the butter becomes pea size. Add the honey and water in a thin stream and paddle until it just comes together. Do not knead. Mold into a rectangle, wrap, and then chill at least two hours. Cut into strips, about 1/4-inch thickness; bake forty minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.
For the graham piecrust:
For the graham piecrust:
Toss the ground graham crackers, brown sugar, and three tablespoons melted butter in a bowl until incorporated. Place the crumb into a pie shell and mold it firmly and evenly onto the bottom and sides.
For the chocolate ice cream:
Whisk a quarter cup sugar, three tablespoons cocoa powder, and salt together. Slowly add milk to make a paste, and then thin it out with rest of the milk. Add the cream. Scald the milk mixture over medium heat. Melt chocolate over a double boiler. In a separate bowl, whisk the yolks and one tablespoon sugar; then slowly temper in the hot cream. Put everything back into pot. Over low heat, cook the custard until thick, 165 degrees F. Strain the custard into the melted chocolate and whisk to homogenize. Cool over ice bath. Chill overnight. Churn according to the manufacturer's instructions. When the ice cream is made, you can pour the mixture immediately into the chilled/frozen graham shell. You can top the pie with store bought marshmallow mix or with marshmallow fluff. Torch or broil for thirty seconds to one minute under a broiler, until the top is brown and the marshmallow is gooey inside!
Note: Source of recipe (http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/smores-pie.html)
A HUMOROUS, SHORT STORY
compiled by Augustus Snodgrass
Little Nancy was in the garden filling in a hole when her neighbor peered over the fence. Interested in what the youngster was up to, he asked in his friendliest way, “What are you up to, Nancy?”
“My goldfish died,” replied Nancy tearfully, without looking up, "and I’ve just buried him.”
The neighbor commented, “That’s an awfully big hole for a goldfish, isn’t it?”
Nancy patted down the last heap of earth and then replied... “That's because he’s inside your lousy cat.
Note: Source (http://www.inspire21.com/stories/humorstories/AnimalJokes)
compiled by Sam Weller
Q: What has a foot but no legs?A: A snail
Q: Poor people have it. Rich people need it. If you eat it you die. What is it?A: Nothing
Q: What comes down but never goes up?
Q: I’m tall when I’m young, and I’m short when I’m old. What am I?
A: A candle
Q: Mary’s father has 5 daughters, Nana, Nene, Nini, Nono. What is the fifth daughter’s name?
A: If you answered Nunu, you are wrong. It’s Mary!
Q: How can a pants pocket be empty and still have something in it?
A: It can have a hole in it.
Q: In a one-story pink house, there was a pink person, a pink cat, a pink fish, a pink computer, a pink chair, a pink table, a pink telephone, a pink shower... everything was pink! What colour were the stairs?
A: There weren’t any stairs; it was a one story house!
Q: A dad and his son were riding their bikes and crashed. Two ambulances came and took them to different hospitals. The man’s son was in the operating room and the doctor said, “I can’t operate on you. You’re my son.” How is that possible?
A: The doctor is his mom!
Q: What goes up when rain comes down?
A: An umbrella!
Q: What is the longest word in the dictionary?
A: Smiles, because there is a mile between each “s”
Q: If I drink, I die. If I eat, I am fine. What am I?
A: A fire!
Q: Throw away the outside and cook the inside; then eat the outside and throw away the inside. What is it?
A: Corn on the cob, because you throw away the husk, cook and eat the kernels, and throw away the cob.
Q: What word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it?
Q: What travels around the world but stays in one spot?
A: A stamp
Note: All riddles curtsey of Funology
THE GARDEN PARTY – PART II
by Katherine Mansfield, contributed by Theodore Winstint
“… Here’s the man.”
He carried more lilies still, another whole tray.
“Bank them up, just inside the door, on both sides of the porch, please,” said Mrs. Sheridan. “Don’t you agree, Laura?”
“Oh, I do, mother.”
In the drawing-room Meg, Jose and good little Hans had at last succeeded in moving the piano.
“Now, if we put this chesterfield against the wall and move everything out of the room except the chairs, don’t you think?”
“Hans, move these tables into the smoking-room, and bring a sweeper to take these marks off the carpet and - one moment, Hans - ” Jose loved giving orders to the servants, and they loved obeying her. She always made them feel they were taking part in some drama. “Tell mother and Miss Laura to come here at once.
“Very good, Miss Jose.”
She turned to Meg. “I want to hear what the piano sounds like, just in case I’m asked to sing this afternoon. Let’s try over ‘This life is Weary.’”
Pom! Ta-ta-ta Tee-ta! The piano burst out so passionately that Jose’s face changed. She clasped her hands. She looked mournfully and enigmatically at her mother and Laura as they came in.
“This Life is Wee-ary, A Tear - a Sigh. A Love that Chan-ges, This Life is Wee-ary, A Tear - a Sigh. A Love that Chan-ges, And then … Good-bye!”
But at the word “Good-bye,” and although the piano sounded more desperate than ever, her face broke into a brilliant, dreadfully unsympathetic smile.
“Aren’t I in good voice, mummy?” she beamed.
“This Life is Wee-ary, Hope comes to Die. A Dream - a Wa-kening.”
But now Sadie interrupted them. “What is it, Sadie?”
“If you please, m’m, cook says have you got the flags for the sandwiches?”
“The flags for the sandwiches, Sadie?” echoed Mrs. Sheridan dreamily. And the children knew by her face that she hadn’t got them. “Let me see.” And she said to Sadie firmly, “Tell cook I’ll let her have them in ten minutes.
“Now, Laura,” said her mother quickly, “come with me into the smoking-room. I’ve got the names somewhere on the back of an envelope. You’ll have to write them out for me. Meg, go upstairs this minute and take that wet thing off your head. Jose, run and finish dressing this instant. Do you hear me, children, or shall I have to tell your father when he comes home to-night? And - and, Jose, pacify cook if you do go into the kitchen, will you? I’m terrified of her this morning.”
The envelope was found at last behind the dining-room clock, though how it had got there Mrs. Sheridan could not imagine.
“One of you children must have stolen it out of my bag, because I remember vividly - cream cheese and lemon-curd. Have you done that?”
“Egg and--“ Mrs. Sheridan held the envelope away from her. “It looks like mice. It can’t be mice, can it?”
“Olive, pet,” said Laura, looking over her shoulder.
“Yes, of course, olive. What a horrible combination it sounds. Egg and olive.”
They were finished at last, and Laura took them off to the kitchen. She found Jose there pacifying the cook, who did not look at all terrifying.
“I have never seen such exquisite sandwiches,” said Jose’s rapturous voice. “How many kinds did you say there were, cook? Fifteen?”
“Fifteen, Miss Jose.”
“Well, cook, I congratulate you.”
Cook swept up crusts with the long sandwich knife, and smiled broadly.
“Godber’s has come,” announced Sadie, issuing out of the pantry. She had seen the man pass the window.
That meant the cream puffs had come. Godber’s were famous for their cream puffs. Nobody ever thought of making them at home.
“Bring them in and put them on the table, my girl,” ordered cook.
Sadie brought them in and went back to the door. Of course Laura and Jose were far too grown-up to really care about such things. All the same, they couldn't help agreeing that the puffs looked very attractive. Very. Cook began arranging them, shaking off the extra icing sugar.
“Don’t they carry one back to all one’s parties?” said Laura.
“I suppose they do,” said practical Jose, who never liked to be carried back. “They look beautifully light and feathery, I must say."
“Have one each, my dears,” said cook in her comfortable voice. “Yer ma won't know.”
Oh, impossible. Fancy cream puffs so soon after breakfast. The very idea made one shudder. All the same, two minutes later Jose and Laura were licking their fingers with that absorbed inward look that only comes from whipped cream.
“Let’s go into the garden, out by the back way,” suggested Laura. “I want to see how the men are getting on with the marquee. They're such awfully nice men.”
But the back door was blocked by cook, Sadie, Godber's man and Hans.
Something had happened.
“Tuk-tuk-tuk,” clucked cook like an agitated hen. Sadie had her hand clapped to her cheek as though she had toothache. Hans’s face was screwed up in the effort to understand. Only Godber’s man seemed to be enjoying himself; it was his story.
“What’s the matter? What’s happened?”
“There’s been a horrible accident,” said Cook. “A man killed.”
“A man killed! Where? How? When?”
But Godber’s man wasn’t going to have his story snatched from under his very nose.
“Know those little cottages just below here, miss?” Know them? Of course, she knew them. “Well, there’s a young chap living there, name of Scott, a carter. His horse shied at a traction-engine, corner of Hawke Street this morning, and he was thrown out on the back of his head. Killed.”
“Dead!” Laura stared at Godber’s man.
“Dead when they picked him up,” said Godber’s man with relish. “They were taking the body home as I come up here.” And he said to the cook, “He’s left a wife and five little ones.”
“Jose, come here.” Laura caught hold of her sister’s sleeve and dragged her through the kitchen to the other side of the green baize door. There she paused and leaned against it. “Jose!” she said, horrified, “however are we going to stop everything?”
“Stop everything, Laura!” cried Jose in astonishment. “What do you mean?”
“Stop the garden-party, of course.” Why did Jose pretend?
But Jose was still more amazed. “Stop the garden-party? My dear Laura, don’t be so absurd. Of course we can’t do anything of the kind. Nobody expects us to. Don’t be so extravagant.”
“But we can’t possibly have a garden-party with a man dead just outside the front gate.”
That really was extravagant, for the little cottages were in a lane to themselves at the very bottom of a steep rise that led up to the house. A broad road ran between. True, they were far too near. They were the greatest possible eyesore, and they had no right to be in that neighbourhood at all. They were little mean dwellings painted a chocolate brown. In the garden patches there was nothing but cabbage stalks, sick hens and tomato cans. The very smoke coming out of their chimneys was poverty-stricken. Little rags and shreds of smoke, so unlike the great silvery plumes that uncurled from the Sheridans' chimneys. Washerwomen lived in the lane and sweeps and a cobbler, and a man whose house-front was studded all over with minute bird-cages. Children swarmed. When the Sheridans were little they were forbidden to set foot there because of the revolting language and of what they might catch. But since they were grown up, Laura and Laurie on their prowls sometimes walked through. It was disgusting and sordid. They came out with a shudder. But still one must go everywhere; one must see everything. So through they went.
“And just think of what the band would sound like to that poor woman,” said Laura.
“Oh, Laura!” Jose began to be seriously annoyed. “If you’re going to stop a band playing every time some one has an accident, you’ll lead a very strenuous life. I’m every bit as sorry about it as you. I feel just as sympathetic.” Her eyes hardened. She looked at her sister just as she used to when they were little and fighting together. “You won’t bring a drunken workman back to life by being sentimental,” she said softly.
“Drunk! Who said he was drunk?” Laura turned furiously on Jose. She said, just as they had used to say on those occasions, “I’m going straight up to tell mother.”
“Do, dear,” cooed Jose.
“Mother, can I come into your room?” Laura turned the big glass door-knob.
“Of course, child. Why, what’s the matter? What’s given you such a colour?” And Mrs. Sheridan turned round from her dressing-table. She was trying on a new hat.
“Mother, a man’s been killed,” began Laura.
“Not in the garden?” interrupted her mother.
“Oh, what a fright you gave me!” Mrs. Sheridan sighed with relief, and took off the big hat and held it on her knees.
“But listen, mother,” said Laura. Breathless, half-choking, she told the dreadful story. “Of course, we can’t have our party, can we?” she pleaded. “The band and everybody arriving. They’d hear us, mother; they’re nearly neighbours!”
To Laura’s astonishment her mother behaved just like Jose; it was harder to bear because she seemed amused. She refused to take Laura seriously.
“But, my dear child, use your common sense. It’s only by accident we’ve heard of it. If some one had died there normally - and I can’t understand how they keep alive in those poky little holes - we should still be having our party, shouldn’t we?”
Laura had to say “yes” to that, but she felt it was all wrong. She sat down on her mother’s sofa and pinched the cushion frill.
“Mother, isn’t it terribly heartless of us?” she asked.
“Darling!” Mrs. Sheridan got up and came over to her, carrying the hat. Before Laura could stop her she had popped it on. “My child!” said her mother, “the hat is yours. It’s made for you. It’s much too young for me. I have never seen you look such a picture. Look at yourself!” And she held up her hand-mirror.
“But, mother,” Laura began again. She couldn’t look at herself; she turned aside.
This time Mrs. Sheridan lost patience just as Jose had done.
“You are being very absurd, Laura,” she said coldly. “People like that don’t expect sacrifices from us. And it’s not very sympathetic to spoil everybody’s enjoyment as you’re doing now.”
“I don’t understand,” said Laura, and she walked quickly out of the room into her own bedroom. There, quite by chance, the first thing she saw was this charming girl in the mirror, in her black hat trimmed with gold daisies, and a long black velvet ribbon. Never had she imagined she could look like that. Is mother right? she thought. And now she hoped her mother was right. Am I being extravagant? Perhaps it was extravagant. Just for a moment she had another glimpse of that poor woman and those little children, and the body being carried into the house. But it all seemed blurred, unreal, like a picture in the newspaper. I’ll remember it again after the party’s over, she decided. And somehow that seemed quite the best plan …
by Nathaniel Winkle
Once I saw a snake
It was beautiful and sleek
Crawling by the log
by Nathaniel Winkle
Siblings will be there
Siblings can be companions
They are good to have
by Nathaniel Winkle
I want to travel
Because I have wanderlust
To see every country