Grandfather’s Birthday Present part 6

Just then Henk came in. “Well, where is it?” he asked, with the self- importance of one who had thought of the idea in the first place, and had already paid his share.

“We’ll have to whistle for it,” answered Jet. “That nasty photographer won’t deliver it without his pay.”

“Well—?”

“Well, nothing!” snapped Dirk. “I didn’t have the twenty-seven fifty, so the messenger took it back.”

“Good Lord,” said Henk, “I thought you knew the fellow. You made the arrangements.”

“Can I make the fellow deliver it?” said Dirk. “I went to see him, but he wasn’t in; won’t be back till the afternoon. If you’d paid your share, I wouldn’t have looked such a fool.”

“You can’t tell me,” said Henk, “that if you’d tried—”

“Are you so flush yourself?” replied Dirk heatedly. “Now, if we’d only bought the chair, we wouldn’t have had to take something we hadn’t seen.”

In the midst of this quarreling the door squeaked, and grandfather appeared. He had already called three or four times from the top of the stairs. He wanted to know when he might come down, and was curious to learn the reason of the squabbling.

Sent up breakfast

“Since you seem to have forgotten me,” he beamed, “I thought I’d better take a look myself, eh, what?” He was nicely shaved and wore a clean white tie. He was smoking the new pipe Jan had brought him as his first present when he had sent up breakfast. He regarded the decorations with dimmed eyes.

“Congratulations, father!” cried Jet, kissing the old man’s parchment-like cheeks, “and many happy returns!”

Then came all the others in turn, offering the old man birthday greetings, while he sat in the decorated armchair and read the inscription on the shield over the mirror. He thanked them in a trembling voice for their thoughtfulness while he nodded his head. After he had finished, he looked about expectantly for the big present. From six mouths he heard simultaneously the history of the tragic outcome, and the unspeakable turpitude of the photographer.

But toward evening happiness was restored: in order not to disappoint his numerous sons and daughters and grandchildren and dim the glory of their intended gift, grandfather himself made up the balance of the sum that was owing.

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