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The Peterkins’ Charades
by [?]

Ever since the picnic the Peterkins had been wanting to have “something” at their house in the way of entertainment. The little boys wanted to get up a “great Exposition,” to show to the people of the place. But Mr. Peterkin thought it too great an effort to send to foreign countries for “exhibits,” and it was given up.

There was, however, a new water-trough needed on the town common, and the ladies of the place thought it ought to be something handsome,–something more than a common trough,–and they ought to work for it.

Elizabeth Eliza had heard at Philadelphia how much women had done, and she felt they ought to contribute to such a cause. She had an idea, but she would not speak of it at first, not until after she had written to the lady from Philadelphia. She had often thought, in many cases, if they had asked her advice first, they might have saved trouble.

Still, how could they ask advice before they themselves knew what they wanted? It was very easy to ask advice, but you must first know what to ask about. And again: Elizabeth Eliza felt you might have ideas, but you could not always put them together. There was this idea of the water-trough, and then this idea of getting some money for it. So she began with writing to the lady from Philadelphia. The little boys believed she spent enough for it in postage-stamps before it all came out.

But it did come out at last that the Peterkins were to have some charades at their own house for the benefit of the needed water-trough,–tickets sold only to especial friends. Ann Maria Bromwick was to help act, because she could bring some old bonnets and gowns that had been worn by an aged aunt years ago, and which they had always kept. Elizabeth Eliza said that Solomon John would have to be a Turk, and they must borrow all the red things and cashmere scarfs in the place. She knew people would be willing to lend things.

Agamemnon thought you ought to get in something about the Hindoos, they were such an odd people. Elizabeth Eliza said you must not have it too odd, or people would not understand it, and she did not want anything to frighten her mother. She had one word suggested by the lady from Philadelphia in her letters,–the one that had “Turk” in it,–but they ought to have two words.

“Oh, yes,” Ann Maria said, “you must have two words; if the people paid for their tickets they would want to get their money’s worth.”

Solomon John thought you might have “Hindoos”; the little boys could color their faces brown, to look like Hindoos. You could have the first scene an Irishman catching a hen, and then paying the water-taxes for “dues,” and then have the little boys for Hindoos.

A great many other words were talked of, but nothing seemed to suit. There was a curtain, too, to be thought of, because the folding-doors stuck when you tried to open and shut them. Agamemnon said that the Pan-Elocutionists had a curtain they would probably lend John Osborne, and so it was decided to ask John Osborne to help.

If they had a curtain they ought to have a stage. Solomon John said he was sure he had boards and nails enough, and it would be easy to make a stage if John Osborne would help put it up.

All this talk was the day before the charades. In the midst of it Ann Maria went over for her old bonnets and dresses and umbrellas, and they spent the evening in trying on the various things,–such odd caps and remarkable bonnets! Solomon John said they ought to have plenty of bandboxes; if you only had bandboxes enough a charade was sure to go off well; he had seen charades in Boston. Mrs. Peterkin said there were plenty in their attic, and the little boys brought down piles of them, and the back parlor was filled with costumes.