“Almost time to go back home to Bingville, children,” Grandma called from the back porch, “but I’d like to have you do a few things for me before you go. Chester, please stop by the hen-house, take the small can of oil, and oil the hinges on the back gate. The screeching every time that gate moves is driving me crazy. The rest of you, please come into the house.”
Chet stopped for the oil can and headed back toward the gate while Eleanor, Mildred, and Allen followed Grandma through the back door and into the kitchen.
“You know, tomorrow is our ‘special’ day. We can have the time free and clear if you will all help with some of the small jobs I would have to do tomorrow morning,” Grandma explained.”Now, Eleanor, please dust the living room. There’s just time enough to get it done before you go home. Mildred, the dining room for you. I know you can’t reach all the places that need dusting, but really stretch . You’ll be surprised at how many more you can reach than you could last time.”
Turning to Allen, Grandma said, “For you, littlest one, the bird bath in the side lawn needs cleaning and the mirrors polishing. Think you can do that?”
“Oh, yes, but I need a brush, a pail of water, and a cloth to polish with,” cried Allen with enthusiasm.
Tasks accomplished, the four children walked home, across the bridge, to a good supper, outside playtime, and a bedtime with pleasant dreams of their “special” day tomorrow.
The next morning, after a hurried breakfast, the four children were headed back across the bridge when Chester called over his shoulder,”Hurry up Allen, we’ll never get to Grandma’s at the rate you move.”
Eleanor stuck up for Allen, saying, “He’s still a little boy with little legs and I think he keeps up with the rest of us really well.”
“Do you think we should go in the back door or the side door?” asked Mildred.
Allen, elbows pumping in the hope they’d help his feet fly faster, gasped, “We shouldn’t make Grandma go down the stairs to answer the side door.”
“You’re right, Al, we’ll knock on the back door,” said Eleanor. “Here we are.”
After rapping on the door several times, Chet opened the door just a crack and called,” Grandma, we’re here.”
“I’m upstairs, children. Be down in a minute. Please, go into the dining room and sit in the chairs I’ve set up,” said Grandma.
“Oh dear, we must have done something really bad,” observed Mildred, close to tears.
Eleanor nodded and said,” She doesn’t have anything started. What can be wrong?”
Chet said,” We did everything she asked us to do yesterday.” He paused. “Maybe not good enough.”
Just then Grandma came through the beaded portieres between the living and dining rooms.
“I know, I know, nothing is started, but first, before treats, we need to talk about how well you did with the tasks you did for me yesterday,” said Grandma. “Now, Allen, the bird bath is really clean and the mirrors are sparkling! Mildred, you did a pretty good job dusting the dining room, but I think you could have stretched more to reach a few more places.”
As Mildred started to break in, Grandma said,” Let me finish, please? Eleanor, you did very well to dust the living room and the front hall.” Now, Chester, I asked you to oil the hinges on the back gate.”
“I did, Grandma, I did.” cried Chet.
Mildred chimed in, “He did, he did. I followed him and he even hooked the gate so it couldn’t swing and screech anymore.”
“H-m-m-m,“ Grandma mused. “then why can I still hear that awful noise? I think we’d all better go out and double-check what’s really happening out there. Let’s go!”
Grandma led the way, Chet next, then Eleanor, Mildred next, then Allen. Out the back door, down the steps to the garden path, past the hen-house and pear tree on the right hand with the well-kept vegetable garden on the left. Suddenly a loud, high-pitched screech filled the air—BUT the gate, now right in front of Grandma, was safely shut and hooked! All were astonished as the awful screech came again
Suddenly, sensing movement among the branches of the nearby cherry tree, they all looked up to see a grey bird hopping from limb to limb. He’d eat a cherry and then screech again.
“Mr. Mockingbird, I do believe!” Grandma exclaimed in awe and wonder. “You, my feathered friend, learned to imitate the noise the gate made all too well! Now, SCAT! Go eat cherries somewhere else while we go back to the kitchen to make our doughnut men.”