oor Harold! It was his birthday, the last day of January, and there he was, face all swollen up twice as large as it ought to be, and all done up in a great big handkerchief beside. But mamma told him he must make the best of it, and be a little man, and instead of a birthday party, they would wait till Valentine’s day, and invite the little boys and girls then.
After a few more days the mumps began to go away, so that by Valentine’s day Harold was well again.
Every day almost he asked about the “bush;” finally mamma told him she had found one, which she thought would be in full bloom by the fourteenth.
The invitations had all been sent out. Harold carried them himself.
The day at last came, and about five in the afternoon the children came too.
First they played games, having such merry times playing “Going to Jerusalem,” “Where’s my Jacob,” and ever so many others. Then a little bell sounded; they all knew what that meant.
They formed in line, mamma played on the piano, and a short march brought them round to the dining-room door. Then such “Oh’s!” and “Ah’s!” “isn’t that lovely!” and “What’s that?” as they saw the table; and no wonder, for the table looked like a big valentine, with its hearts and stars, flowers and bright colors, beside good things to eat while in the middle of the table stood the wonderful bush with valentines of every shape and color hanging from its branches.
When supper was over, mamma cut the valentines one at a time, and gave them to the children. What cute ones they were! Some of them were funny. Some were little lace valentines, and others had little pictures and verses, just suited to the little boy or girl that received it.
That was a wonderful bush, the very next best thing to a Christmas tree, the children said; but the most noise, if not the best fun of all, came when they went back to the parlor. There they found a large paper heart, red on one side and white on the other, tied to the gas-fixture, and filled with, some said “candy,” others thought “flowers,” and one little fellow said “valentines!”
One by one the children were blindfolded, given a cane, turned around three times, and told to give three strikes at the paper heart, til some one should break it.
After lots of shouting and jumping around to keep out of the way of the cane, the heart was broken, and out flew a shower of the prettiest valentines of all.
They flew everywhere, and then such a hunt, till each found the one that belonged to him. This ended the good time, and the children went home, one little girl wishing “Harold would have the mumps next year, and another ‘Valentine Bush.’”
Harold’s Valentine Bush by D. W., as published in Our Little Ones and The Nursery, February 1894