‘Mrs. Johnson’s Sunday Teatime’- Chapter 5

     Once again, I snuggle in my thick blankets and watch my sisters sleep. How peaceful they seem. I open Mrs. Johnson’s journal and smile as I imagine the adventures I’ll soon discover.


    I am afraid that I haven’t been my siblings’ greatest role model today. I argued with Mother when she asked me to play with Laura and Anne while she visited Widow Taylor. When she asked me I was just leaving to see Elizabeth McBride, for she was to show me her new dress. I know that it is very idle and vain of me to go visiting for the sole purpose of seeing a new dress. I have made resolutions to do better. However, I don’t think I shall keep those resolutions unless I pray about them. So, I shall do just that. To make up for arguing, I am going to take Laura and Anne outside to collect pinecones. Then we can decorate them with pine needles and red berries. I shall have to make the paste. I think that Charlie may come as well.

   Henry told me today that he is going on an adventure. I don’t know what adventure he could possibly go on, since he has done them all, I am quite sure. He said to me, “Margaret, adventures are not things that you think up or plan for. You just do them.” I think my brother reads too much, that’s what I think, indeed. He says that he will go on an adventure when an adventure comes to him. How awfully curious he is!

     This afternoon is my Bible Study with the girls. I have chosen verse 33,  from 1 Corinthians 15. “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.'”  I think that the girls will find many verses to go along with that.

~Margaret, on March 5th of 1904


    I close the dusty book and snuggle down into my warm covers. Tomorrow I will read more, but for now, I can hardly keep my eyes open.


     This morning I walk briskly to Mrs. Johnson’s shop. I am eager to see her again and tell her what I have read so far. As I walk in I am greeted, again, by the familiar and homey scent of cinnamon and cloves. The warmth ushers me in from the cold.

     “Good morning, my dear!” Mrs. Johnson steps out from behind the counter. “How are you?”

     “Very well, thank you. And yourself?”

     “Oh fine, of course. Now, enough with the formal greetings! How are you enjoying my book?”

     “I am enjoying it very, very much! It is so warm and sweet.”

     The woman sighs contentedly, as if relieved. “I’m glad, indeed!”

     I smile my thanks and begin explaining what I’m looking for. A soap bar, two candles, honey, apples, and a cone of sugar. As I rattle my list off I notice two new photographs on the wall. I walk over to look at them and they immediately look familiar to me. They are two of the five pictures I saw from Mrs. Johnson’s trunk. The two hanging up are the ones of her whole family and her parents. I study each and every one of their faces so that I can picture them correctly in the stories I read. Mrs. Johnson smiles and applauds as I name each one of the siblings correctly.

     “Why, you even got Heather and Mary right! Usually, folks mix them up, since they’re twins.”

     I gather my purchases in the basket that Mama sent with me and head back home. I want so badly to continue reading, but I know that Mama needs my help. After I spend an hour or so in the kitchen, I go to play with Jill, Joshua, and Gracie. I dearly love making them laugh. Anyone can make Jill laugh, as it is one of her favorite things to do. Joshua loves nothing more than to run around in circles with you. He loves any chasing game and is easily amused. Gracie just wants to sit in your lap and watch the fun. She smiles and giggles but would rather be on the outside looking in.

     With my hair is falling out of my bun, my back aching from bending down so much, and big smiles on all of our faces, I bring the children into the kitchen. I bring them there to sit them down and teach hem their alphabet. I slowly repeat each and every letter.

     “A… for apple,” as I say ‘apple’, I show them a drawing I did of an apple. “B… for basket. C… for cow. D… for dog. F… for fish. G… for goat.” I go on and on until the children are repeating after me and making silly noises for every animal we come across.

     Soon, Joy comes in and sits with us. She starts giggling with the little ones. She then stands up and goes to fetch some drawing paper and pencils. “Now,” she addresses the children, “I want you to draw a picture of what the letter represents. So, for the letter ‘A’ you would draw an apple. Understand?” The little ones nod eagerly and begin as soon as they have they have and a piece of paper and a pencil.

     I have always admired Joy’s quick thinking. She knows how to make just about any situation enjoyable. Someday I will have to ask her if she has a mental list of activities for when the children become bored.

Featured image taken from Stock Snap.


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