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The Baby Party
by [?]

After the refreshments a gradual exodus began. Edith glanced anxiously at her watch — it was almost six, and John had not arrived. She wanted him to see Ede with the other children — to see how dignified and polite and intelligent she
was, and how the only ice cream spot on her dress was some that had dropped from her chin when she was joggled from behind.

“You’re a darling,” she whispered to her child, drawing her suddenly against her knee.”Do you know you’re a darling? Do you knowyou’re a darling?”

Ede laughed.”Bow-wow,” she said suddenly.

“Bow-wow?” Edith looked around.”There isn’t any bow-wow.”

“Bow-wow,” repeated Ede.”I want a bow-wow.”

Edith followed the small pointing finger.

“That isn’t a bow-wow, dearest, that’s a teddy-bear.”


“Yes, that’s a teddy-bear, and it belongs to Billy Markey. You don’t want Billy Markey’s teddy-bear, do you?”

Ede did want it.

She broke away from her mother and approached Billy Markey, who held the toy closely in his arms. Ede stood regarding him with inscrutable eyes, and Billy laughed.

Grown-up Edith looked at her watch again, this time impatiently.

The party had dwindled until, besides Ede and Billy, there were only two babies remaining — and one of the two remained only by virtue of having hidden himself under the dining-room table. It was selfish of John not to come. It showed so little pride in the child. Other fathers had come, half a dozen of them, to call for their wives, and they had stayed for a while and looked on.

There was a sudden wail. Ede had obtained Billy’s teddy-bear by pulling it forcibly from his arms, and on Billy’s attempt to recover it, she had pushed him casually to the floor.

“Why, Ede!” cried her mother, repressing an inclination to laugh.

Joe Markey, a handsome, broad-shouldered man of thirty-five, picked up his son and set him on his feet.”You’re a fine fellow,” he said jovially.”Let a girl knock you over! You’re a fine fellow.”

“Did he bump his head?” Mrs. Markey returned anxiously from bowing the next to last remaining mother out the door.

“No-o-o-o,” exclaimed Markey.”He bumped something else, didn’t you, Billy? He bumped something else.”

Billy had so far forgotten the bump that he was already making an attempt to recover his property. He seized a leg of the bear which projected from Ede’s enveloping arms and tugged at it but without success.

“No,” said Ede emphatically.

Suddenly, encouraged by the success of her former half-accidental manoeuvre, Ede dropped the teddy-bear, placed her hands on Billy’s shoulders and pushed him backward off his feet.

This time he landed less harmlessly; his head hit the bare floor just off the rug with a dull hollow sound, whereupon he drew in his breath and delivered an agonized yell.

Immediately the room was in confusion. With an exclamation Markey hurried to his son, but his wife was first to reach the injured baby and catch him up into her arms.

“Oh, Billy,” she cried, “what a terrible bump! She ought to be spanked.”

Edith, who had rushed immediately to her daughter, heard this remark, and her lips came sharply together.

“Why, Ede,” she whispered perfunctorily, “you bad girl!”

Ede put back her little head suddenly and laughed. It was a loud laugh, a triumphant laugh with victory in it and challenge and contempt. Unfortunately it was also an infectious laugh. Before her mother realized the delicacy of the situation, she too had laughed, an audible, distinct laugh not unlike the baby’s, and partaking of the same overtones.

Then, as suddenly, she stopped.

Mrs. Markey’s face had grown red with anger, and Markey, who had been feeling the back of the baby’s head with one finger, looked at her, frowning.