Grandfather’s Birthday Present part 3

They were fourteen in all—one more than the unlucky number. The photographer said that he had seldom had the pleasure of seeing a liner group in his studio. It was not easy, however, for the photographer to pose them: Piet’s Willy kept up a continual howl, he was so afraid of the long-haired fellow who kept poking his head under that black cloth, and when the photographer shook his doll above the camera to attract the attention of the other youngsters, Willy set up such a scream that Truns had to get up from her chair to calm him.

This continued fully a quarter of an hour, and when at last they could all get up, everyone was so on edge that they burst out laughing when anyone sighed or spoke. The first two exposures were unsuccessful: the first time Santje sneezed-—on purpose, it seemed; and just as the photographer had counted three, Henk bawled out. The second time Mary’s Charley stood up too soon, because he thought it was all over, Jet’s Jan having pinched him. Each child received a box on the ears. After the wailing had subsided and everyone had sat stiff in his Sunday best, the third time all went well.

Nobody had expected that the photographer would ask for a cash payment, but as he knew Dirk well (Dirk worked in the drugstore opposite), he insisted; Dirk paid him two guilders on account, and the photographer promised that the picture would be ready Wednesday morning at ten o’clock.

“But what,” asked Dirk prudently as they turned to go, “what if it shouldn’t turn out right?” “In that event,” replied the photographer, “you need not pay.” “Very well, then,” said Dirk with evident relief.

Get for your birthday

The whole affair was of course kept secret from grandfather. That is, he had been told about it before evening by not more than four of the family. Jet’s Jan had called that afternoon with his sister, to ask for candy and two cents. “Grandfather,” he said, “I know what you’re going to get for your birthday: you’ll never guess what it is.”

The old man laughed, and taking his pipe from between his toothless jaws inquired, “It’s pretty, is it, Jan?”

“We mustn’t tell, grandpa.”

“Is it something good to eat?”

“No. It would spoil your stomach!” he said, laughing.

“Is it something to read, eh?”

“You can.”

“Something to sit on?”

“You can. Ha, ha!”

“Something to wear?”

“No, you can’t wear it.”

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