Read CHAPTER I. of The Birthday Party A Story for Little Folks , free online book, by Oliver Optic, on

Flora Lee’s birthday came in July.  Her mother wished very much to celebrate the occasion in a proper manner.  Flora was a good girl, and her parents were always glad to do any thing they could to please her, and to increase her happiness.

They were very indulgent parents, and as they had plenty of money, they could afford to pay well for a “good time.”  Yet they were not weak and silly in their indulgence.  As much as they loved their little daughter, they did not give her pies and cakes to eat when they thought such articles would hurt her.

They did not let her lie in bed till noon because they loved her, or permit her to do any thing that would injure her, either in body or mind.  Flora always went to church, and to the Sunday school, and never cried to stay at home.  If she had cried, it would have made no difference, for her father and mother meant to have her do right, whether she liked it or not.

But Flora gave them very little trouble about such matters.  Her parents knew best what was good for her, and she was willing in all things to obey them.  It was for this reason that they were so anxious to please her, even at the expense of a great deal of time and money.

The birthday of Flora came on Wednesday, and school did not keep in the afternoon.  All the children, therefore, could attend the party which they intended to give in honor of the day.

About a week before the time, Mrs. Lee told Flora she might have the party, and wanted her to make out a list of all the children whom she wished to invite.

“I want to ask all the children in Riverdale,” said Flora, promptly.

“Not all, I think,” replied Mrs. Lee.

“Yes, mother, all of them.”

“But you know there are a great many bad boys in town.  Do you wish to invite them?”

“Perhaps, if we treat them well, they will be made better by it.”

“Would you like to have Joe Birch come to the party?”

“I don’t know, mother,” said Flora, musing.

“I think you had better invite only those who will enjoy the party, and who will not be likely to spoil the pleasure of others.  We will not invite such boys as Joe Birch.”

“Just as you think best, dear mother,” replied Flora.  “Shall I ask such boys as Tommy Woggs?”

“Tommy isn’t a bad boy,” said Mrs. Lee, with a smile.

“I don’t know that he is; but he is a very queer fellow.  You said I had better not ask those who would be likely to spoil the pleasure of others.”

“Do you think, my child, Tommy Woggs will do so?”

“I am afraid he would; he is such a queer boy.”

“But Tommy is a great traveller, you know,” added Mrs. Lee, laughing.

“The boys and girls don’t like him, he pretends to be such a big man.  He knows more than all the rest of the world put together-at least, he thinks he does.”

“I think you had better ask him, for he will probably feel slighted if you don’t.”

“Very well, mother.”

“Now, Flora, I will take a pencil and paper and write down the names of all the boys and girls with whom you are acquainted; and you must be careful not to forget any.  Here comes Frank; he will help you.”

Frank was told about the party, and he was quite as much pleased with the idea as his sister had been; and both of them began to repeat the names of all the boys and girls they could remember.

For half an hour they were employed in this manner, and then the list was read over to them, so as to be sure that no names had been omitted.

Flora and Frank now went through all the streets of Riverdale, in imagination, thinking who lived in each house; and when they had completed their journey in fancy, they felt sure they had omitted none.

“But we must invite cousins Sarah and Henry,” said Flora.  “O, I hope they will come!  Henry is so funny; we can’t do without them.”

“Perhaps they will come; at any rate we will send them invitations,” replied Mrs. Lee.

The next day, when the children had gone to school, Mrs. Lee went to the office of the Riverdale Gazette, which was the village newspaper, and had the invitations printed on nice gilt-edged paper.

By the following day Mrs. Lee had written in the names of the children invited, enclosed the notes in envelopes, and directed them.  I will give you a copy of one of them, that you may know how to write them when you have a birthday party, though I dare say it would do just as well if you go to your friends and ask them to attend.  If you change the names and dates, this note will answer for any party.

Miss Flora Lee presents her compliments to Miss Nellie
Green, and requests the pleasure of her company on
Wednesday afternoon, July 20.

Riverdale, July 15.

“Those are very fine indeed,” said Flora:  “shall I put on my bonnet, and carry out some of them to-day?”

“No, my child; it is not quite the thing for you to carry your own invitations.  I will tell you what you may do.  You may hire David White to deliver them for you.  You must pay him for it; give him half a dollar, which will be a good thing for him.”

This plan was adopted, and Frank was sent with the notes and the money over to the poor widow’s cottage.

“Don’t you think it is very wicked, mother, for rich folks to have parties, when the money they cost will do so much good to the poor?” asked Flora.

“I do not think so, my dear child.”

“Well, I think so, mother,” added Flora, warmly.

“Perhaps you do not fully understand it.”

“I think I do.”

“Why should it be wicked for you to enjoy yourself?”

“I don’t think it is wicked to enjoy myself, but only to spend money for such things.  You said you were going to have the Riverdale Band, and that the music would cost more than twenty dollars.”

“I did, and the supper will cost at least twenty more; for I have spoken to the confectioner to supply us with ice cream, cake, jellies, and other luxuries.  We shall have a supply of strawberries and cream, and all the nice things of the season.  We must also erect a tent in the garden, in which we shall have the supper; but after tea I will tell you all about it.”