Early one morning Grandmother Grey got up, opened the windows and doors of the farmhouse, and soon everybody in the place was stirring. The cook hurried breakfast, and no sooner was it over than Grandfather Grey went out to the barn and hitched the two horses to the wagon.
“Get up, Robin and Dobbin!” he said, as he drove through the big gate. “If you knew who was coming back in this wagon you would not be stepping so slowly.”
The old horses picked up their ears when they heard this, and trotted away as fast as they could down the country road until they came to town. Just as they got to the railway station the train came whizzing in.
“All off!” cried the conductor, as the train stopped; and out came a group of children who were, every one of them, Grandfather and Grandmother Grey’s grandchildren.
They had come to spend Thanksgiving Day on the farm.
There was John, who was named for grandfather and looked just like him, and the twins, Teddie and Pat, who looked like nobody but each other; their papa was grandfather’s oldest son. Then there was Louisa, who had a baby sister at home, and then Mary Virginia Martin, who was her mamma’s only child.
“I tell you,” said grandfather, as he helped them into the wagon, “your grandmother will be happy to see you!”
And so she was. She was watching at the window for them when they drove up, and when the children spied her they could scarcely wait for grandfather to stop the wagon before they scrambled out.
“Dear me, dear me!” said grandmother, as they all tried to hug her at the same time, “how you have grown.”
“I am in the first grade,” said John, hugging her with all his might.
“So am I,” cried Louisa.
“We are going to be,” chimed in the twins; and then they all talked at once, till grandmother could not hear herself speak.
Then, after they had told her all about their mammas and papas, and homes, and cats and dogs, they wanted to go and say “how do you do” to everything on the place.
“Take care of yourselves,” called grandmother, “for I don’t want to send any broken bones home to your mothers.”
“I can take care of myself,” said John.
“So can we,” said the rest; and off they ran.
First they went to the kitchen where the cook was getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner; then out to the barnyard, where there were two new red calves, and five little puppies belonging to Juno, the dog, for them to see. Then they climbed the barnyard fence and made haste to the pasture where grandfather kept his woolly sheep. “Baa-a!” said the sheep when they saw the children; but then, they always said that, no matter what happened.
There were cows in this pasture, too, and Mary Virginia was afraid of them, even though she knew that they were the mothers of the calves she had seen in the barnyard.
“Silly Mary Virginia!” said John, and Mary Virginia began to cry.
“Don’t cry,” said Louisa. “Let’s go to the hickory-nut tree.”
This pleased them all, and they hurried off; but on the way they came to the big shed where grandfather kept his plows and reaper and threshing machine and all his garden tools.
The shed had a long, wide roof, and there was a ladder leaning against it. When John saw that, he thought he must go up on the roof; and then, of course, the twins went, too. Then Louisa and Mary Virginia wanted to go, and although John insisted they could not climb, they managed to scramble up the ladder to where the boys were. And there they all sat in a row on the roof.
“Grandmother doesn’t know how well we can take care of ourselves,” said John. “But I am such a big boy that I can do anything. I can ride a bicycle and go on errands——”
“So can I,” said Louisa.
“We can ride on the trolley!” cried the twins.
“Mamma and I go anywhere by ourselves,” said Mary Virginia.
“Moo!” said something down below; and when they looked, there was one of the cows rubbing her head against the ladder.
“Don’t be afraid, Mary Virginia,” said Louisa. “Cows can’t climb ladders.”
“Don’t be afraid, Mary Virginia,” said John. “I will drive her away.”
So he kicked his feet against the shed roof and called, “Go away! go away!” The twins kicked their feet, too, and called, “Go away! go away!” and somebody, I don’t know who, kicked the ladder and it fell down and lay in the dry grass. And the cow walked peacefully on, thinking about her little calf.
“There, now!” exclaimed Louisa, “how shall we ever get down?”
“Oh, that’s nothing,” said John. “All I’ll have to do is stand up on the roof and call grandfather. Just watch me do it.”
So he stood up and called, “Grandfather! Grandfather! Grandfather!” till he was tired; but no grandfather answered.
Then the twins called, “Grandfather! Grandmother!”
“Baa,” said the sheep, as if beginning to think that somebody ought to answer all that calling.
Then they all called together: “Grandfather! Grandfather! Grandfather!” and when nobody heard that, they began to feel frightened and lonely.
“I want to go home to my mother! I wish I hadn’t come!” wailed Mary Virginia.
“It’s Thanksgiving dinner time, too,” said John, “and there’s turkey for dinner, I saw it in the oven.”
“Pie, too,” said Louisa.
“Dear, dear!” said the twins.
And then they all called together once more, but this time with such a weak little cry that not even the sheep heard it.
The sun grew warmer and the shadows straighter as they sat there, and grandmother’s house seemed miles away when John stood up to look at it.
“They’ve eaten dinner by this time, I know,” he said as he sat down again; “and grandfather and grandmother have forgotten all about us.”
But grandfather and grandmother had not forgotten them, for just about then grandmother was saying to grandfather: “You had better see where the children are, for Thanksgiving dinner will soon be ready and I know that they are hungry.”
So grandfather went out to look for them. He did not find them in the kitchen nor the barnyard, so he called, “Johnnie! Johnnie!” and when nobody answered he made haste to the pasture.
The children saw him coming, and long before he had reached the gate they began to call with all their might. This time grandfather answered, “I’m coming!” and I cannot tell you how glad they were.
In another minute he had set the ladder up again and they all came down. Mary Virginia came first because she was the youngest girl, and John came last because he was the biggest boy. Grandfather put his arms around each one as he helped them down, and then carried Mary Virginia home on his back. When they got to the house, dinner was just ready.
The turkey was brown, the potatoes were sweet,
The sauce was so spicy, the biscuits were beat,
The great pumpkin pie was as yellow as gold,
And the apples were red as the roses, I’m told.
It was such a good dinner that I had to tell you about it in rhyme!
And I’m sure you’ll agree,
With the children and me,
That there’s never a visit so pleasant to pay
As a visit to grandma on Thanksgiving Day