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A Jolly Fourth
by [?]

Door-step parties were the fashion that year, and it was while a dozen young folks sat chatting on Annie Hadwin’s steps in the twilight that they laid the plan which turned out such a grand success in the end.

“For my part, I am glad we are to be put on a short allowance of gunpowder, and that crackers are forbidden, they are such a nuisance, burning holes in clothes, frightening horses, and setting houses afire,” said sober Fred from the gate, where he and several other fellows were roosting socially together.

“It won’t seem a bit like a regular Fourth without the salutes three times during the day. They are afraid the old cannon will kick, and blow off some other fellow’s arm, as it did last year,” added Elly Dickens, the beau of the party, as he pulled down his neat wristbands, hoping Maud admired the new cuff-buttons in them.

“What shall we do in the evening, since the ball is given up? Just because the old folks are too tired to enjoy dancing, we can’t have any, and I think it is too bad,” said pretty Belle, impatiently, for she danced like a fairy and was never tired.

“The authorities didn’t dare to stop our races in the morning. There would have been an insurrection if they had,” called out long Herbert from the grass, where he lay at the feet of black-eyed Julia.

“We must do something to finish off with. Come, somebody suggest a new, nice, safe, and jolly plan for the evening,” cried Grace, who liked fun, and had just slipped a little toad into Jack Spratt’s pocket as a pleasant surprise when he felt for his handkerchief.

“Let us offer a prize for the brightest idea. Five minutes for meditation, then all suggest a plan, and the best one shall be adopted,” proposed Annie, glad to give a lively turn to her party.

All agreed, and sudden silence followed the chatter, broken now and then by an exclamation of “I’ve got it! No, I haven’t,” which produced a laugh at the impetuous party.

“Time’s up,” announced Fred, looking at “the turnip,” as his big old-fashioned watch was called. Every one had a proposal more or less original, and much discussion followed; but it was finally decided that Herbert’s idea of floating about in boats to enjoy the fireworks on the hill would be romantic, reposeful, and on the whole satisfactory.

“Each boat might have a colored lantern; that would look pretty, and then there would be no danger of running into our neighbors in the dark,” said Annie, who was a little timid on the water in a wherry.

“Why not have lots, and make a regular ‘feast of lanterns,’ as they do in China? I was reading about it the other day, and can show you how to do it. Won’t it be gay?” And Fred the bookworm nearly tumbled off his perch, as an excited gesture emptied his pockets of the library books which served as ballast.

“Yes! yes!” cried the other lads, with various demonstrations of delight as the new fancy grew upon their lively minds.

“Fred and Annie must have the prize, for their idea is the most brilliant one. Nan can give the flag to the winner of the race, and ‘Deacon’ can lead the boats, for I think it would be fine to have a procession on the river. Fireworks are an old story, so let us surprise the town by something regularly splendid,” proposed Elly, fired in his turn with a bright idea.

“We will! we will!” cried the rest, and at once plunged into the affair with all the ardor of their years.

“Let us dress up,” said Julia, who liked theatricals.

“In different characters,” added Maud, thinking how well her long yellow hair would look as a mermaid.

“And all sing as we go under the bridges,” put in Annie, who adored music.