Olive's Tea Party by Mrs. Molesworth
said Olive one day, "I
want to have a tea party."
"Well, dear," mamma
answered, "I dare say it could be managed. You must talk
to Cara and Louie about it, and settle whom you would
all like to ask."
"No, no," said Olive, "I
don't mean that. I won't have my sisters, mamma. They
like to ask big ones, and I want a party for my own
self, and no big ones. I want to fix everything myself,
and I won't have Cara and Louie telling us what to eat
at tea, and what games to play at. You may tell aunty to
'avite them to her house that day, mamma, and let me
have my own party; else I won't have it at all."
Olive was eight. She was
the youngest of three. It oftens happens that the
"youngest of three" fancies herself "put upon,"
especially when the two elders are very near of an age
and together in everything. But this sudden stand for
independence was new in Olive. Mamma looked at her
curiously. Had some foolish person been putting nonsense
in her little girl's head?
"Cara and Louie are
always kind to you about your little pleasures, Olive,"
she said. "I don't understand why you should all at once
want to do without them."
Olive wriggled. "But I
do," she said. "Lily Farquhar says her big sisters spoil
her parties so, and they call her and her friends 'the
babies,' and laugh at them."
"Are you going to invite
Lily to your party?" asked mamma.
"Yes, of course. She's
my best friend, and she knows lots of games."
"Very well. Then fix
your day and invite your friends, and I will take care
that your sisters don't interfere."
Olive looked very
pleased. "I think next Wednesday would do," she said.
"It's our half-holiday, and if Cara will help me on
Tuesday evening I can get my lessons done, so that I
needn't do any on Wednesday. It's howid to have
to do lessons after a party," added Olive, with a
But mamma took her up
more sharply than she expected. "Nay, nay, Olive," she
said, "that won't do. If your sisters are to have none
of the pleasure of your party, you can't expect
them to take any trouble. You must manage your lessons
as best you can."
Olive pouted, but did
not dare to say anything. Truth to tell, her lessons at
no time sat very heavily on her mind.
"It won't be my fault if
I don't do them on Wednesday," she said to herself.
"It'll be Cara's, and—and mamma's—so I don't care."
She found the writing
the invitations more trouble than she had expected, and
more than once did she wish she could have applied for
help to Louie, whose handwriting was so clear and
pretty, and who possessed such "ducky" little sheets of
note-paper of all colours, with a teapot and "come
early" in one corner. Olive's epistles were rather a
sight to be seen; nearly all of them were blotted, and
the spelling of some of her friends' names was peculiar,
to say the least. Still they did their purpose, for in
the course of the next day or two the little hostess
received answers, all accepting her "kind invitation,"
except poor Amabel Pryce, who had so bad a sore-throat
that there was no chance of her being able to go out by
Wednesday. And in one note—from a little girl called
Maggie Vernon—was something which did not suit Olive's
present frame of mind at all.
"Harriot and I," wrote
Maggie—Harriot was Maggie's sister—"will be so pleased
to come. We love a party at your house, because your big
sisters are always so kind."
Olive showed this to her
adviser and confidante, Lily.
"Nonsense," said Lily,
"she only puts that in because she thinks it looks
polite. She's a goose, and so is Harriot; they make such
a fuss about each other. They haven't the least bit of
independence. Well, never mind. If they don't like
your party, Olive, they needn't come again."
Olive felt consoled. But
still—in her heart of hearts there was some misgiving.
What should she do if they all wanted to play different
games?—or if Bessy Grey tore her frock or spilt her tea
and got one of her crying fits, as happened sometimes,
and there was no one—no Cara or Louie to pet the nervous
little girl into quiet and content again? What should
she do, if——? But Lily did not leave her time to conjure
up any more misfortunes.
"What are you in a brown
study about, Olive?" she said. "You are so stupid
To which Olive retorted
sharply, and the friends ended their council of war by a
quarrel, which did not raise Olive's spirits.
The great day came. Not
very much had been said about it in the family circle,
naturally, for when one member of the family chooses to
"set up" for himself or herself, and keep all the rest
"out of it," there cannot be as much pleasant talk as
when everybody is joined together in the interest and
preparation. And Olive could not help a little sigh
when, just before her guests came, she was called down
to the dining-room to see the tea all set out. It did
look so nice! Mamma had ordered just the cakes and buns
Olive liked, and there were two or three pretty plants
on the table, and everything was just perfect.
"I would have liked Cara
and Louie to see it," thought Olive. "They needn't have
gone out quite so early."
But the sound of the
front-door bell ringing made her start. She ran off
quickly to be ready in the school-room to receive her
little friends. There were six of them. Lily Farquhar,
of course, first and foremost; then Maggie and Harriot,
Bessie Grey looking rather frightened and very shy, and
two little cousins, Mary and Augusta Meadowes, who lived
They all knew each other
pretty well, so they were not very silent or
stiff. Still as Olive could not speak to everybody at
once, and was very anxious that no one should feel
neglected, she was not sorry when the tea-bell rang.
Lily was to pour out the chocolate, and Olive herself to
make the tea. It passed off pretty well, except for
Lily's spilling a good deal, and Olive's forgetting to
put more water into the teapot, so that the tea became
dreadfully dark and strong. But the cakes were approved
of, and every one seemed content. Then came the great
question of "What shall we play at?" Lily, who was
clever at games, made herself a sort of leader, but she
was not sensible enough to fill the post well. She was
selfish and impatient, and being only a little girl
herself, the others did not care "to be ordered about by
her." Then Bessie Grey got knocked down at Blind Man's
Buff, and of course she began to cry, and to say she
wouldn't play any more if they were so rough. Maggie
Vernon tried to soothe her, but Bessie pushed her away
saying she didn't "understand," she wanted her mother,
or next best, Cara or Louie, who were always "so kind."
And the little Meadowes, being themselves but very small
people, looked as if they were going to cry too;
declaring that they would rather not play at all if they
needed to run about so very fast. So Blind Man's Buff
was given up and something quieter tried—Dumb Crambo, I
think. But it was not very successful either, the little
Meadowes needed so much "explaining," which no one was
patient enough, or perhaps wise enough, to give clearly.
And Lily insisted on being first always, and there was
no one in authority to keep her "in her place," where,
when she really felt she must stay there, she
could be a pleasant and bright little girl. So game
after game came to a bad end, and as the children grew
tired and their spirits went down, things grew worse and
worse, till at last—no, I can best describe it by
telling what mamma saw—when feeling rather anxious as to
the results of Olive's fit of independence, she put her
head in at the school-room door an hour or two after
There was silence in the
room except for the sound of subdued crying in one
corner, which came, not from Bessie Grey—that would not
have been surprising—but from the smallest Meadowes
child, who had torn her frock and refused to listen to
comfort from either her sister or Maggie. Harriot stood
close by, and ran forward as the door opened.
"Oh, has our nurse
come?" she said eagerly. "She's so kind, I'm sure she'd
mend Gussie's frock, and then her nurse wouldn't
"Our nurse isn't cross
really," said Mary. "It's only that Gussie's silly. I
think she's too little to come to a party."
Then catching sight of
"mamma" the little girl grew red, and all the others
looked frightened—such of them as saw mamma, that is to
say. For Bessie Grey, after a long fit of sobbing, had
fallen asleep on the floor, poor child, and—what do
you think Olive and Lily were doing? Each with a
story-book in her hand, they were comfortably reading at
different corners of the room, heedless of the other
children's dullness and tiredness.
"I want to go home,"
wailed Gussie. On which Bessie suddenly awoke, and began
to cry again.
"Please, Gussie is
rather tired," said the motherly little Mary. "Do you
think we might go home without waiting for nurse, as
it's so near?"
"And might we be getting our things on
too?" said Maggie and Harriot.
Poor Mamma! She could
scarcely speak, so ashamed did she feel.
exclaimed. How Olive and Lily too did jump! "Is this the
way you take care of your guests?"
"They were so stupid,"
murmured Olive. "And Lily would be leader, and she was
so cross. I thought it was best to leave off playing."
"Come, my poor dear
children," said mamma, turning to the five little girls.
"Don't cry, Bessie dear, or you either, Gussie. We'll
get your frock mended in a minute, and Cara and Louie
will give you a nice game of musical chairs in the
drawing-room to cheer you up before you go home. There
is some fruit waiting for you too."
She marshalled them all
off, smiles and chatter soon replacing the tears and
yawns. Mamma stopped at the doorway.
"Miss Lily Farquhar,"
she said, quietly, "you had best remain here and enjoy
your book till you are sent for."
To Olive she said not
one word. But it was a very humble and penitent little
girl who came that evening to tell her mother and
sisters how sorry she was, and how foolish
and selfish and ungrateful she now saw that she had
If Olive ever gives
another tea-party I think the first guests she
invites will be her kind big sisters, Cara and Louie.