THIRTY-SIX MONTHS. That’s not so long a run in daily affairs, and this Branton Hills history finds Thanksgiving Day dawning. In Branton Hill’s locality it is not, customarily, what you would call a cold day. Many a Thanksgiving has had warm, balmy air, and without snow; though, also, without all that vast army of tiny chirping, singing, buzzing things on lawn or branch. But contrast has its own valuation; for, through it, common sights, vanishing annually, show up with a happy joy, upon coming back. Ah! That first faint coloring of grass, in Spring! That baby bud, on shrub or plant, shyly asking our loving South Wind if it’s all right to pop out, now. That sprouting of big brown limbs on oak and birch; that first “blush of Spring” in orchards; that first furry, fuzzy, cuddly spray of pussy willows! Spring and Fall; two big points in your trip along your Pathway. Fall with its rubbish from months of labor corn-stalks, brown, dry grass, old twigs lying around, wilting plants; bright colorings blazing in distant woodlands; chill winds crawling in through windows, at night. And Spring! Pick-up, paint-up, wash-up Spring!! So, as I said, Branton Hills got around to Thanksgiving Day; that day on which as many of a family as possibly can should sit around a common board; coming from afar, or from only a door or two away.

Gadsby’s dining-room was not big; it had always sat but six in his family. But, on this Thanksgiving Day, —hmmm! “Wait, now — uh-huh, that’s it. Just run that pair of sliding doors back, put that parlor lamp upstairs; and that piano? Why not roll it out into my front hall? I know it will look odd, but you can’t go through a Thanksgiving soup to nuts’ standing up. Got to jam in chairs, any old way!”

But who is all this mob that will turn His Honor’s dining-room into a thirty-foot hail? I’ll look around, as our happy, laughing, singing, clapping group sits down to Gadsby’s Thanksgiving party.

I find two “posts of honor;” (My gracious! so far apart!) ; His Honor, with carving tools filling dish, dish, and dish.

“Atta boy! Atta girl! Pass up your chow-dish! This bird has but two drum-sticks, but six of his cousins wait, out in our cook-shop! Lots of grub! What’s that, Julius? A bit of dark? Want any gravy?”

At Post Two sits “Ma;” again in that good old buxom condition, so familiar to all Branton Hills; —

“Right this way, folks, for potato, squash, onions, carrots and turnip!!”

What a happy bunch! Following around from Gadsby, sit Bill, Lucy and Addison. But whoa! Who’s this Addison? Oh, pardon; I forgot all about it. Lucy’s baby; and his first Thanksgiving. Hi, you! Tut-tut! Mustn’t grab raisins! Naughty, naughty! On Lucy’s right sit Mary, Julius and Norman; following along, I find Nancy, Frank and Baby Lillian, Kathlyn, John, Lady Standish, Priscilla and Hubby Arthur Rankin; Nina Adams, — Oh! A thousand pardons!! — Nina Simpkins! and Old Bill. Say! You wouldn’t know Bill! Bright, happy, laughing, singing, and tapping a cup with his spoon; spick-span suit, and that now famous “Broadway carnation.” Hulloa, Bill; you old sport!! Glad to find you looking so happy! What? Two whacks at that bird? Why Bill!! On Bill’s right sits Pastor Brown, old Doctor Wilkins, Harold, Virginia, and Patricia. Oh, pardon again! Patricia, Virgina’s baby; just six months old, today, and valiantly trying to swallow a half-pound candy cow! Following around I find Old Tom Young, Sarah, and Paul. No, I don’t find a high-chair by Sarah; but Sarah sits just rocking, rocking, rocking, now-a-days. Following on, again, is Old Tom Donaldson, Clancy Dowd, and—Old Lady Flanagan, with “this dom thing I calls hoosband!” And lastly, Marian and old Pat Ryan from our railway station’s trunk room.

So it was just laugh, talk, “stuff,” and—

* * * *

Oh, hum! Folks can’t stay all night, you know; so, finally, groups and pairs, drifting out, all had happy words for His Honor and Lady Gadsby; and His Honor, a word or two; for you know Gadsby can talk? So it was:—

“Good night, Nina; good luck, Old Bill! Oh! say, Bill; will that cigar blow up? Good night, Virginia; and ta-ta Patricia; and Virginia, you mind your Ma and stay down on solid ground! Aha, Clancy! You old motor-pump fan! No; that’s wrong; animal-drawn pump! Good night, Pastor Brown; so glad you put Norman in your choir. And now Old Tom and Sarah! Tom, you look as young as on that day on which you brought Sarah, just a tiny, squalling, fist-waving bunch, to this porch to ask about adoption! And I know Sarah has always had a kind, loving Dad. Paul, you young sprout! As you turn into a daddy, soon now, you’ll find that, on marrying, a man and woman start actually living. It’s miraculous, Paul, that’s just what it is.”

And so it was; pairs and groups shaking hands and laughing, until finally a big buxom woman sang out:-

“Whoops!! It was a wow of a grub-lay-out! It was thot! But this dom thing I calls hoosband. Say! You grub-stuffin’ varmint! Phwat’s that in your hat? A droom-stick, is it? Do you want His Honor to think I don’t cook nuthin’ for you? Goodnight, all ! I’m thot full I’m almost a-bustin’!”

As Lady Standish shook hands, that worthy woman said:—

“John, what you did for Branton Hills should go into our National Library at Washington, in plain sight.”

“Sally, Youth’s part was paramount in all that work. All I did was to boss ;” and Old Doc Wilkins, coming out, nibbling a bunch of raisins, said:-

“Uh-huh; but a boss must know his job!”

“That’s all right,” said Gadsby; “ but it was young hands and young minds that did my work! Don’t disqualify Youth for it will fool you, if you do!

* * *

A glorious full moon sails across a sky without a cloud. A crisp night air has folks turning up coat collars and kids hopping up and down for warmth. And that giant star, Sirius, winking slyly, knows that soon, now, that light up in His Honor’s room window will go out. Fttt! It is out! So, as Sirius and Luna hold an all-night vigil, I’ll say a soft “Good-night” to all our happy bunch, and to John Gadsby — Youth’s Champion.


"The Skaters" by Lawrence Beall Smith. 1939.

Note: Not a word containing the letter “E” has appeared in this story of over 50,000 words.

A work of writing that intentionally excludes particular letters is called a lipogram.


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Books with no spinal columns.