Jack and Jill HTML version

12. The Twenty-Second of February
Of course, the young ladies and gentlemen had a ball on the evening of that day, but
the boys and girls were full of excitement about their "Scenes from the Life of
Washington and other brilliant tableaux," as the programme announced. The Bird Room
was the theatre, being very large, with four doors conveniently placed. Ralph was in his
element, putting up a little stage, drilling boys, arranging groups, and uniting in himself
carpenter, scene-painter, manager, and gas man. Mrs. Minot permitted the house to be
turned topsy-turvy, and Mrs. Pecq flew about, lending a hand everywhere. Jill was
costumer, with help from Miss Delano, who did not care for balls, and kindly took charge
of the girls. Jack printed tickets, programmes, and placards of the most imposing sort,
and the work went gayly on till all was ready.
When the evening came, the Bird Room presented a fine appearance. One end was
curtained off with red drapery; and real footlights, with tin shades, gave a truly theatrical
air to the little stage. Rows of chairs, filled with mammas and little people, occupied the
rest of the space. The hall and Frank's room were full of amused papas, uncles, and old
gentlemen whose patriotism brought them out in spite of rheumatism. There was a great
rustling of skirts, fluttering of fans, and much lively chat, till a bell rang and the orchestra
struck up.
Yes, there really was an orchestra, for Ed declared that the national airs must be
played, or the whole thing would be a failure. So he had exerted himself to collect all the
musical talent he could find, a horn, a fiddle, and a flute, with drum and fife for the
martial scenes. Ed looked more beaming than ever, as he waved his baton and led off
with Yankee Doodle as a safe beginning, for everyone knew that. It was fun to see little
Johnny Cooper bang away on a big drum, and old Mr. Munson, who had been a flier all
his days, blow till he was as red as a lobster, while everyone kept time to the music
which put them all in good spirits for the opening scene.
Up went the curtain and several trees in tubs appeared, then a stately gentleman in
small clothes, cocked hat, gray wig, and an imposing cane, came slowly walking in. It
was Gus, who had been unanimously chosen not only for Washington but for the father
of the hero also, that the family traits of long legs and a somewhat massive nose might
be preserved.
"Ahem! My trees are doing finely," observed Mr. W., senior, strolling along with his
hands behind him, casting satisfied glances at the dwarf orange, oleander, abutilon, and
little pine that represented his orchard.
Suddenly he starts, pauses, frowns, and, after examining the latter shrub, which
displayed several hacks in its stem and a broken limb with six red-velvet cherries
hanging on it, he gave a thump with his cane that made the little ones jump, and cried