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A Thanksgiving Dinner (Grade 4)

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A Thanksgiving Dinner

A THANKSGIVING DINNER by Edna Payson Brett.

"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 be done.

After dressing, he went down the hall. 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 wonders.

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.

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 that?"

"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 calmly by.

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 deacon's plate!

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 what.

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, She was not alone. Four little ones pattered after Mamma Mouse, and eight bright eyes spied a dinner worth running for.

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 bewilderment.

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.

Later that day, he sat down to Thanksgiving dinner.

"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?"
1. 
How did Johnnie feel about going to church?
  1. He didn't like to go.
  2. He liked to see his friends.
  3. He wished he could sleep all day.
  4. He only went to see his grandmother.
2. 
Why did Johnnie have to go to church every Sunday?
  1. His father was the pastor.
  2. His grandmother made him.
  3. His mother signed him up for the choir.
  4. His parents wanted him to behave better.
3. 
Why did Johnnie take the cakes to church?
  1. He wanted to feed the mice.
  2. He was worried someone else would eat them.
  3. He thought he might get hungry during the service.
  4. He wanted to take them to the potluck that afternoon.
4. 
Why was Johnnie worried about being caught with the cakes?
  1. They were bright pink.
  2. They smelled really good.
  3. He was a very noisy eater.
  4. He had to sit at the front of the church.
5. 
How did the cakes get on the floor?
  1. Johnnie tried to hide them.
  2. Johnnie wanted to feed them to the mice.
  3. They fell out when the offering came around.
  4. His father asked Johnnie to spit them out during the sermon.
6. 
What was Johnnie most worried about during the service?
  1. the rumbling of his tummy
  2. the mice skittering across the floor
  3. getting caught eating the pink cakes
  4. falling asleep next to his grandmother
7. 
When Johnnie left church, he thought
  1. the mice were cute.
  2. no one had seen what happened.
  3. his grandma was going to scold him.
  4. he couldn't wait to eat Thanksgiving dinner.
8. 
At the end of the story, Johnnie's father says, "I understand that you did not forget the poor to-day. Eh, my son?"

What did his father mean?
  1. He saw the mice eat the cakes Johnnie took.
  2. He knew Johnnie gave food to kid who needed it.
  3. He saw how much Johnnie put in the offering plate.
  4. He heard that Johnnie had helped out at the soup kitchen.
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