The Golden Road
III. The Christmas Harp
Great was the excitement in the houses of King as Christmas drew nigh. The air
was simply charged with secrets. Everybody was very penurious for weeks
beforehand and hoards were counted scrutinizingly every day. Mysterious pieces
of handiwork were smuggled in and out of sight, and whispered consultations
were held, about which nobody thought of being jealous, as might have
happened at any other time. Felicity was in her element, for she and her mother
were deep in preparations for the day. Cecily and the Story Girl were excluded
from these doings with indifference on Aunt Janet's part and what seemed
ostentatious complacency on Felicity's. Cecily took this to heart and complained
to me about it.
"I'm one of this family just as much as Felicity is," she said, with as much
indignation as Cecily could feel, "and I don't think she need shut me out of
everything. When I wanted to stone the raisins for the mince-meat she said, no,
she would do it herself, because Christmas mince-meat was very particular--as if
I couldn't stone raisins right! The airs Felicity puts on about her cooking just make
me sick," concluded Cecily wrathfully.
"It's a pity she doesn't make a mistake in cooking once in a while herself," I said.
"Then maybe she wouldn't think she knew so much more than other people."
All parcels that came in the mail from distant friends were taken charge of by
Aunts Janet and Olivia, not to be opened until the great day of the feast itself.
How slowly the last week passed! But even watched pots will boil in the fulness
of time, and finally Christmas day came, gray and dour and frost-bitten without,
but full of revelry and rose-red mirth within. Uncle Roger and Aunt Olivia and the
Story Girl came over early for the day; and Peter came too, with his shining,
morning face, to be hailed with joy, for we had been afraid that Peter would not
be able to spend Christmas with us. His mother had wanted him home with her.
"Of course I ought to go," Peter had told me mournfully, "but we won't have
turkey for dinner, because ma can't afford it. And ma always cries on holidays
because she says they make her think of father. Of course she can't help it, but it
ain't cheerful. Aunt Jane wouldn't have cried. Aunt Jane used to say she never
saw the man who was worth spoiling her eyes for. But I guess I'll have to spend
Christmas at home."
At the last moment, however, a cousin of Mrs. Craig's in Charlottetown invited
her for Christmas, and Peter, being given his choice of going or staying, joyfully
elected to stay. So we were all together, except Sara Ray, who had been invited
but whose mother wouldn't let her come.