A Thanksgiving Dinner by Edna Payson Brett
Ministers' sons, somehow, have a bad reputation. Little Johnnie
was one and he thought it pretty hard to have to go to church on
Thanksgiving Day. But the pink-frosted cakes——
"OH, DEAR!" puffed a certain little boy one
bright Thanksgiving morning, as he jerked his
chubby neck into the stiffest of white collars. "Great
fun, isn't it, having to sit up in meeting for a couple of
hours straight as a telegraph pole when I might be
playing football and beating the Haddam team all to
hollow! This is what comes of your pa's being the
minister, I s'pose."
But Johnnie, for that was his name, continued his
dressing, the ten years of his young life having taught
him how useless it is to make a fuss over what has to
In a few minutes he had finished, and was quite satisfied
with his appearance, but for his shoes. These he
eyed for a moment, and concluding that they would
not pass inspection, started for the woodshed to give
them a shine.
On his way he passed the open dining-room door, and
suddenly halted. "Oh! Why can't I have a nice
little lunch during sermon time?"
He took a step back and peeped slyly into the room;
then stole across to the old-fashioned cupboard,
stealthily opening the doors, and such an array of good
things you never beheld! Sally was the best cook in
Brockton any day, but on Thanksgiving she could work
He looked with longing eyes from one dish to another.
Now the big pies were out of the question, and the
cranberry tarts—he felt of them lovingly—but no, they
were altogether too sticky. He stood on tiptoe to see
what was on the second shelf. To his delight he found
a platter filled with just the daintiest little pink-frosted
cakes you ever saw.
"O-oo, thimble cakes!" he exclaimed. "You are
just the fellows I want! I'll take you along to church
with me." He cast one quick glance around, then
grabbed a handful of the tiny cakes and crammed them
into his trousers' pocket.
"Lucky for me ma isn't going to meeting to-day,"
chuckled the naughty boy, "and I don't believe
grandma'd ever tell on me if I carried along the turkey!"
The early bell had now begun to ring, and Johnnie
started for the village church.
"Come, my son," said Doctor Goodwin, as they
entered the meeting-house, "you are to sit in the front
seat with grandma this morning: she is particularly
anxious to hear every word of the sermon to-day. And
where's your contribution, boy? You haven't forgotten
"No, sir," meekly answered Johnnie, "it's tied up in
my handkerchief." But his heart sank—the front
seat! How ever was his lunch to come in now?
The opening hymn had been sung, the prayer of
thanksgiving offered, and now, as the collection was
about to be taken, the pastor begged his people to be
especially generous to the poor on this day.
Up in the front pew sat Johnnie, but never a word of
the notice did he hear, so busy was he planning out his
own little affair. It wasn't such easy planning either,
just supposing he got caught!
But what was that? Johnnie jumped as if he had
been struck. However, it was nothing but the money
plate under his nose, and the good Deacon Simms standing
To the guilty boy it seemed as if the deacon must have
been waiting for ten minutes at the least, and in a great
flurry he began to fumble for his handkerchief. What
had he done with it? Oh, there it was at last, way
down in the depths of his right trousers' pocket.
He caught hold of the knotted corner, and out came
the handkerchief with a whisk and a flourish, and
scatter, rattle, helter-skelter, out flew a half-dozen pink
thimble cakes, down upon the floor, back into Mrs.
Smiley's pew, and to Johnnie's horror one pat into the
The good man's eyes tried not to twinkle as he removed
the unusual offering, and passed on more quickly
than was his wont.
Miserable Johnnie, with his face as red as a rooster's
comb and eyes cast down in shame, saw nothing but the
green squares on the carpet and the dreadful pink-frosted
cakes. He was sure that every one in the church
was glaring at him; probably even grandma had forsaken
him, and each moment he dreaded—he knew not
To his surprise, the service seemed to go right on as
usual. Another hymn was sung, and then there was a
general settling down for the sermon. Very soon he
began to grow tired of just gazing at the floor, yet he
dared not look up, and by and by the heavy eyes
drooped and Johnny was fast asleep.
All was now quiet in the meeting-house save the calm,
steady voice of the preacher. Pretty soon a wee creature
dressed all in soft brown stole across the floor of a
certain pew. She was a courageous little body indeed,
but what mother would not venture a good deal for her
hungry babies? Such a repast as this was certainly the
opportunity of a lifetime. Looking cautiously around,
then concluding that all was safe, she disappeared down
a hole in a corner way under the seat. In a twinkling
she was back again; this time, however, she was not
alone. Four little ones pattered after Mamma Mouse,
and eight bright eyes spied a dinner worth running
Never mind what they did; but when Johnnie awoke
at the strains of the closing hymn and tried to remember
what had gone wrong, he saw nothing of the
pink-frosted cakes save some scattered crumbs.
What could have become of them, he thought, in
He hardly knew how he got out of the church that day,
but he found himself rushing down the road a sadder and
a wiser boy. Grandma and papa had remained to chat.
Johnnie did not feel like chatting to-day.
When he reached the house he did not go in, but out
to the hayloft, his favourite resort in time of trouble.
When the dinner bell sounded, notwithstanding the
delicious Thanksgiving odours which had been wafted
even to the barn, it was an unwelcome summons; yet go
he must, and walking sheepishly into the dining-room,
he slunk into his chair.
"Well, John," said his father, as he helped him to
turkey, "I understand that you did not forget the poor
to-day. Eh, my son?"
"The poor?" What could he mean? Johnnie was
too puzzled to speak.
Then his father went on to tell how little Mrs. Mouse
and her babies had nibbled a wondrous dinner of pink
thimble cakes on the floor of pew number one while
Johnnie slept. Grandma and Mrs. Smiley had told him
all about it on the way home; besides, he had seen
enough himself from the pulpit.
Johnny bravely bore the laugh at his expense, and as
the merriment died away heaved a deep sigh of relief,
and exclaimed, "Well, I'm glad somebody had a feast,
even if it wasn't the fellow 'twas meant for! Humph,
'twas quite a setup for poor church mice, wasn't it? But
they needn't be looking for another next year. You
don't catch me trying that again—no-sir-ee!"