We three children were looking forward to Mother’s birthday, which was December 18th. December was ‘our’ birthday month, Cyril’s on the 20th, mine on the 10th: but the 18th was by far the most important. With a view to deciding what was to be done, we gathered round the schoolroom table, each armed with a statement of his or her financial resources. My assets were contained in an old purse that I kept hidden in a corner of the writing desk. This I emptied on the table. The contents were: one silver sixpence, one silver threepenny bit, and an assortment of coppers – total one shilling and tenpence halfpenny. Cyril was not in a much stronger position, and it remained for Ethel to retrieve the situation, which, I have to admit, she did most nobly. Lucky enough to have a godmother who sent her postal orders she was able to produce nearly ten shillings. Most magnanimously, she suggested that we pool our resources and give Mother one really nice present rather than three inferior ones. Cyril and I volunteered to draw and paint a birthday card between us, and we left it to Ethel to decide on the nature of the present.
It turned out to be a yellow tea-cosy, padded and quilted and embroidered, with braid round the edge, finished off with a curl at the top. Cyril and I considered it to be a dull gift, but Mother received it with joy. It appears that she really wanted a tea-cosy, a fact that Ethel had found out by some subtle means. Anyway it was a happy choice, and when it was presented to Mother on her birthday morning, after breakfast, she kissed us all round many times. A lot of cards and letters had come for her and some presents were set out on the sideboard in the dining-room, with our tea-cosy in the centre. I was not sure that I envied her when I thought of all the thank-you letters she would have to write. When I said so she laughingly
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