The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Aunt Mai's Budget

by Mrs. Francis F. Steinthal.
Volume 7, 1896, pgs. 60-70

[Emeline Petrie Steinthal, 1855-1921, was a sculptor, painter, and co-founder of the P.N.E.U. with Charlotte Mason. She was married to Francis Steinthal. They had four children: Paul Telford, Dorothea, Francis, and Paul Cuthbert, who all lived well into adulthood.]

MY DEAR CHILDREN--I have been sitting very quietly for about five minutes, with my best thinking cap on, wondering what you want me to write about in March. Ah! the word March suggests an idea. Very often, the winds are very strong and very cold, and many of you will begin to sneeze and cough, and then mother will tell you you must go to bed for a day or two. Then you will beg to get up for a little while, and to go into the nursery, to play with the dolls and soldiers, because you have nothing to do in bed. A little boy, who was in bed one day lately, invented such a nice game, that I think you will all like to play it, when next you sail in your "little boat," as Stephenson [My Bed is a Boat] calls your bed, for a livelong day. This little patient got an illustrated Lady's Paper, and cut out the furniture in the advertisements, and flowers and figures of ladies and children. He painted these, and then stuck them with gum on a sheet of drawing paper. A corner cupboard went into a corner; a sideboard along the back wall; a nice door, with a curtain drawn back, by the side; chairs, table and flower-pot went on the floor. Then the walls and floor were painted, and shadows put by the objects, and the people were fastened on. The effect was quite wonderful. The artist then cut out children with spades and boats, and after painting a sea scene--first the sky, then the sea, and then the sands, with a few sandhills--placed the children and boats into the picture. These, and others that have since been made, have gone to a children's hospital, and the little sick ones are so inspired that they are busy making new ones.

My best wish to you all is that you will not be obliged to make these pictures in bed, but can do them in your nurseries, when you feel perfectly well. May you keep so the whole of March is the wish of
Your loving

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These are open to all the children of readers of the Parents' Review. There is no entrance fee, but stamps must be sent for return postage. "Each article or drawing must have a label on it, with child's name, address and age clearly marked on it. "My Dollie's Wardrobe" (see Advt.) will be used for patterns, which fit a doll 26 inches long. In March the flannel petticoat will be taken. To be sent before the 30th to Aunt Mai, Wharfemead, Ilkley.

Class I. Age 11 to 15.--Dorothy Sayer has won a prize. Cecilia Coote, Katherine Bird and Violet Mackintosh have sent good work. In consequence of the Christmas holidays, the several chemises were not finished in time.

Class II. Age 10 and under--Katharine M. Metcalfe (8) Rosamund (8) and Cicely Wicksteed (9) have won books. Very nice chemises have been sent by Sybil Baker (9), Muriel Mackintosh (8), Judy Henderson.

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Founder: Mrs. Edmund Strode.

So many children have begged to remain in the Society after they have passed the age of ten, that it has been decided to form a class for them. Marks are given for sewing, neatness and button-holes. The first garment will be a print dress, which will fit a little child known to the worker. It must be sent to Aunt Mai before June 30th.

Agatha Tibbits (9) has sent a very well-made flannel petticoat, which was not quite finished in time for the December competition.

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Some of the older nieces, who dressed dolls last year, have written to ask if they may have another competition to work for. One niece asked if she might make clothes for a real child, and this has suggested a new class to Aunt Mai.

Each month one garment shall be make to fit a child known to the worker, so that next Christmas several poor little ones' hearts will rejoice when they get a present of a whole outfit. In this class a sewing machine can be used. Care must be taken that the lines are kept straight, and that the ends of the threads are well sewn.

A knitted or flannel vest will be the first garment, and must be sent to Aunt Mai, Wharfemead, Ilkley, before March 30th.

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Our first number is a most promising one, and will start on its travels on the 3rd.

Two subjects, one from nature and one a design or illustration, will be given each month, and the drawings, with criticisms, will be passed round the class, in a portfolio. The paper must not exceed 12 in. by 12 in. It is requested that drawings should be sent flat and not in rolls.

The following children have joined the Class:--Nina Johnston Douglas (14), Isabel K. Bird (13), Cecile Parke (7), Kathie Parke (7), Tom Parke (5), Lucy Scott Moncrieff (15), Mary Acland (9), Evelyn Powys (11), Ethel Lomas, May Lewis (13), Gabrielle Lomas, Clinton Lewis (9), Dorothy Rope, Muriel Bentley Baumann (9), Winifred Grice (12), Vera Dawson (12), Dorothea Steinthal (11), Eric Steinthal (9), Daisy Douglas (14), Willie Harvey (10), Marjorie Powys (8), Meggie Scott Moncrieff (11), Marguerite Dowding (15), Phœbe Rennell.

Subject I. Brush-drawing design for wall-paper.
" II. Illustration of "Ride a Cock-horse to Banbury Cross," etc.

Pencil outlines may be used in the Illustration, but not in the Design. Drawings to be sent to Aunt Mai, Wharfemead, Ilkley, before the 30th.

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Mrs. Sayer very kindly offers a Prize for the best Tale on Discontent. To be sent to Aunt Mai before the 30th.

Queen of England.

Some difficulty seems to be experienced in finding good pictures of the Queens. Most histories contain pictures, and good illustrations can be found in libraries. If any child cannot possible find the desired costume Aunt Mai will send a pencil sketch by return of post.

Lucy Scott Moncrieff, who has dressed several Queens already, sends a perfect Anne Boleyn.

Winifred Goddard (11) sends the Mother of Alfred the Great, and gets a thimble for the same.

Vera Dawson (12) has dressed Queen Edith, the wife of Edward the Confessor; Dorothea Steinthal (11) Edward the Confessor.

When two sisters work for this competition, it is suggested that one dresses the King and the other the Queen.

In March, Berengaria [of Navarre, wife of Richard I.] will be taken. Dolls not to exceed six inches. To be sent to Aunt Mai, Wharfemead, Iikely, before the 30th.

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Our little Jacks and Jills will all be very sorry, I know, to hear that dear Miss Allen is so ill that she cannot write their March paper, but she hopes to be able to do so for April.

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Christine Scruby has sent the answer to the question in January's letter.

    The New-Born Day.
    By Carlyle

    Lo! here hath been dawning
    Another blue day:
    Think! wilt thou let it
    Slip useless away?

    Out of Eternity
    This new day is born;
    Into Eternity,
    At night, will return.

    Behold it aforetime
    No eye ever did;
    So soon it for ever
    From all eyes is hid.

    Here hath been dawning
    Another blue day:
    Think! wilt though let it
    Slip useless away?

    Christine R. Scruby.

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I. Macaroni Cheese.--Wash a quarter of a pound of the best Naples macaroni, drain it, throw it into boiling water with a small lump of butter in it, and boil it for twenty minutes. Throw the water away and pour upon it a gill [1/2 cup] of milk, and let it simmer gently till it is tender without being pulpy. Grate two ounces of Parmesan cheese. Turn half the macaroni, milk and all into a greased pie dish; sprinkle a little salt and pepper, together with a little of the grated cheese, and repeat until the ingredients are used. Sprinkle grated cheese and a spoonful of bread-raspings on the top of all, and pour over a small piece of butter that has been melted in the oven. Brown the preparation in the oven or in front of the fire, and serve very hot.

II. Rhubarb Mould.--Wash and cut into short lengths as much rhubarb as will fill a quart basin. Boil this gently, with a gill of water, a pound of loaf sugar, and the strained juice and grated rind of half a lemon. Stir it occasionally, to prevent burning, until it has fallen. Soak half an ounce of gelatine in water while the rhubarb is boiling, then dissolve it with two tablespoonfuls of boiling water. Stir it into the rhubarb, beat it briskly for a minute or two, and turn it into a mould that has been soaked in cold water, and put it in a cool place to set. Serve turned out on a glass dish, with cream or custard. (See "Parents' Review," November 1895, "Custard Sauce.")

[Loaf sugar is sugar in the form of a solid block.]

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For Mother's Birthday.
By Mrs. Fred Reynolds.

[Amy Dora Reynolds, 1860-1957, wrote poetry and crime and romance novels. At the time this story was published, her three children were aged 8, 7, and 4.]

Doris ran out into the wood. It was late in the day, and the long shadows were already stretching eastward. Doris was not out so late generally, but this was a special occasion, for it was mother's birthday to-morrow, and Doris had formed a plan in her own little curly head. She and Ronald had been making mother a present--a little corner bracket. Ronald had carved it all out with his fret-saw and Doris had looked on whilst he glued it together. He had been putting the finishing touches this evening, and suddenly it had come upon the little girl that it was Ronald's present, not hers, after all: she had watched and admired and held bits of wood, and burnt her chubby little hands on the glue-pot; but after all she had not really truly helped at all, and to-morrow was the day, and mother's little girl felt as though at the last moment she had no present ready. Whatever was she to do? The shops were--Oh!--miles away! Besides, she had no money. Whatever--? Oh! what a good idea: she would slip off by herself into the wood at the bottom of the garden and gather some flowers, dear woodland flowers, which mother loved so well; then the first thing in the morning, when no one was about, she would make the house all gay with them; or she might make a lovely wreath for mother--that would be nice--if she could find some string, or wire, or whatever people used to tie them together.

But first to get the flowers.

So all a-down the garden, and through the mossy orchard sped a little blue-clad figure, through the gap in the fence--Oh! she and Ronald knew it well--and into the charmed shadow of the wood.

How lovely the wood looked in the evening. In the slanting rays of sunlight tiny insects flitted to and fro, whilst long bands of gold rested on the mossy ground and touched here and there a pine stem with ruddy glow or glinted on a silver birch.

The wood never looked like this by day; never half so beautiful; and how quiet everything seemed. Just then the sinking sun shone for a moment a crimson ball between two mossy trunks and in another instant he was gone, and all looked grey and rather creepy, Doris thought, and there seemed no flowers. Perhaps she had better go back and gather the purple pansy in her own little garden; but a slug had bitten a little piece out, she remembered, and a slug-bitten pansy and two hen-and-chicken daisies, and a lily whose petals were beginning to brown, wouldn't make much show. Doris felt rather inclined to cry until she thought of the forget-me-nots; there was a little stream in the wood just blue with them; she would go there and gather heaps and heaps, and mother would be pleased--mother liked blue better than any other colour. So she hurried on.

But the stream was further than she thought, or had she missed the way? Or was it not beyond that ivy-covered elm?

The elm reached, no stream met her view, and Doris stood still and stared. She had never seen this place before.

A wide opening round which the dark trees stood sentinel quiet and grave, and all the open space was carpeted with the finest of soft green turf. Doris quite longed to run across it, and would have done so had it not been studded all over with fresh white mushrooms. And this was the funny part of it, these mushrooms were not scattered here and there, but were ranged in groups; in every case a large one being in the middle, and a lot of tiny ones all round. "Just as though they were set for a fairy supper," said Doris.

And hardly had the words left her lips, when a low music came softly on the air; another moment, and a sight met the child's eyes which made them open wide with wonder. Out of the shadow of the forest came a procession of tiny figures; first little trumpeters clad all in russet brown with scarlet caps, and blowing their little golden trumpets, till all the air was sweet with fairy sounds. Next came a body guard of fairy knights, two and two, on tiny horses, and the white horses had trappings of blue, and the black horses were adorned with red; whilst the armour of their riders was all silver and gold; and glittering with tiny jewels. After them came the lords and ladies of the court; the former in rich velvets, and the latter in the softest silk, and all the daintiest shades; and two fairy pages in white and gold held up every lady's train.

And last of all--yes, last of all came the Fairy Queen's chariot, this was made of one big pearl, and Doris could hardly see the horses for the nodding plumes and velvet and tassels and jewels and wreaths of flowers with which they were covered.

And the Queen herself? Well, she looked just like mother did once when Doris remembered waking up in the night, and there was mother all in shimmering white, and something glittered on her neck, and on her pretty white arms, and mother had smiled so sweetly; and the fairy smiled, too, as she alighted from her chariot, and took her place at the largest mushroom table. And the other fairies all slipped quietly into their seats--or on to them, ought I to say?--until a little group waited round each white table.

"If only Ronald were here," Doris said under her breath, "it would be just perfik."

Meanwhile, how, she knew not, the tables had been covered with the wee'est of wee dishes, which shone and glittered in the moonlight. The moon was out now, just peeping over the dark tree tops.

Evidently the dishes were well supplied with good things to eat, and the fairy-folk seemed enjoying all that was before them; they chattered and laughed, and clinked their little glasses together, till the sound was like the tinkle of a tiny brook in summer time, when the water is low, and the birds fly down to drink.

The feasting did not last long, and as the wee people rose from their seats, one gaily-dressed fay chanced to catch sight of Doris.

"If you please, your majesty," he cried in an excited voice, "I've found a human child."

The Queen clapped her hands.

"How lovely," she said; "why we have not seen one at our revels for quite a hundred years. Bring her to me."

So the fairy lordling requested Doris, with a courteous bow, to follow him. But she was half afraid, until the fairy said reassuringly, "Come, you need not fear, your heart must be good or you could not see us at all."

"But my frock," said Doris, who wished now that her blue linen smock, crumpled and stained with a long day's play in the garden, had been changed this evening as usual for her soft white cambric; a change which had for some unknown reason, and at the time Doris's very great satisfaction, been omitted; but now she wished this had been otherwise. To go amongst all those lovely people, but--what was this? She stared in astonishment at her frock, it was no longer blue, but of a delicate whiteness, all embroidered over with faint traceries in the loveliest flower-like colours.

"But this isn't my frock," she said.

"Oh! yes," answered the fairy, "it is really yours, more so than any you wear. It is the whiteness of your soul, sweet child, all embroidered by the good deeds you have done."

Then Doris hung her head in modest shame, for though she did not quite understand his words, she felt he thought her a very good little girl, whereas she knew she was sometimes naughty. And as her head drooped, something descended softly upon it, and, putting up her hand, she found herself crowned by a wreath of flowers.

"Where did these come from?" she exclaimed with delight.

"These," softly answered the fairy, "are your kindly thoughts which blossom into loving words."

And so humble and yet glad, conscious of her glorious raiment, yet not proud of it, Doris advanced to the Fairy Queen presence.

Here she received a gracious welcome. Said the Queen: "It is so seldom now that a human child ever graces our revels."

"But," said Doris, "that is not their fault, because they are taught not to believe in fairies."

"Alas!" sighed the Queen, "there will soon be no fairies left to believe in. Every year our numbers grow less and less. Every old tree cut down means death to at least one woodland fay; every flower, every fern torn up by the roots kills some amongst us. Fairies cannot live where man's hand has defiled the face of Nature, and alas! alas! so few favoured spots are left us now, if only the mortals would believe, they might see us, and then surely they would not destroy our woods and drain our ponds, pollute our streams and deface our rocks; then, surely, they would not tear away our flowery homes."

And the Fairy let fall a crystal tear, which settled for a moment on the mossy ward, and then spread wings and flew away, gleaming like a opal in the moonlight.

"Where has it gone?" asked Doris in an awestruck whisper.

"The tear, child; that has settled in a poet's heart. Happy man to receive so bright a guest. Fairy tears are so rare, but the hearts open to receive them are rarer still."

Doris watched the fairies dancing with the moon-rays, whilst the clear sound of the trumpets was mingled with the music of violins, which some frogs were playing under the shadow of some big dock leaves.

"Will the Princess not take a seat?" said a tiny page at Doris's side. Doris was getting used to her new honours now, but she looked at the wee, white mushroom gracefully pointed out, and she thought it would be such a pity to crush the pretty thing, so said softly, "I am afraid I should smash it!" At this the Queen laughed--a silvery laugh like a peal of tiny bells, and all the fairies laughed too.

"The Queen laughs, the Queen laughs"--the woods rang again with the joyous shouts. And Doris saw a bright bird with jewelled feathers flit away into the shadows.

All the fairies clapped their hands.

"What is it?" she asked.

"When the Queen laughs," answered one of the fairies, "a bright bird flits into some sad and weary heart, and sings such songs of joy, that all the sorrow flees away; but the Queen laughs seldom now," and the little fairy sighed.

Meanwhile the tiny people were beginning to draw around the Queen once more, and when all were quiet the Queen rose and said:--

"We intend keeping up the good old custom to-night and granting this mortal child one wish," and all the fairies bowed.

"Dear child," said her radiant Majesty, "our revels are over, we must now depart, but before we go we will grant you one wish--what is it to be?"

"Oh! please," said Doris, "you are very kind, and I have enjoyed myself very much, and I am always so happy--and there is really nothing I want to wish for"--this all in a breath.

Of course it was very nice to be offered invisible cloaks or seven-leagued boots or magic rings, yet she thought somehow mother would rather have her own little girl just as she was. And then, with the thought of her mother came a bright idea. She had gathered no flowers, and it was too late now; why not ask the Fairy for something for mother's birthday. So when the little Queen again urged her to choose, she said rather shyly, "I did want to give mother a birthday present, so if you would send her 'some-fin' very nice--what she would like 'bestest' of all--I should be pleased."

"Your wish is granted," said the Fairy, and looked into the child's eyes with so sweet a smile that Doris felt as though she melted away in the sweetness of it and knew no more until she found herself in her own little bed at home.

How did she get there?

It was night. She knew that by the broad band of moonlight which stole through the window and rested on her little white coverlet. But nurse's bed was empty, and there was a subdued noise of voices and of people moving about in the house that sounded rather unusual.

Doris slipped out of bed and opened her door. A light shone from mother's room and nurse was just coming out with something in her arms.

"Oh, Nursie!" said Doris, "is it mother's birthday yet?"

"Yes, darling, it just is; and mother has got the loveliest present in all the world."

"Did the fairies send it?" asked the eager child.

Nurse laughed. "Yes, the fairies sent it," said she. "Come and see what it is," and she lowered the bundle wrapped in her arms, which seemed all of soft flannel; and there, wrapped up, oh! so snugly, what do you think Doris saw?

A real, live baby, as red as a little rose.

Doris clapped her hands. "I know, I know; it's all right," she said. "May I go and tell mother its really my present?" Nurse looked surprised. "Not now, sweetie, go to bed again. Mother is asleep, and you should be too. You shall see her in the morning and tell her what you like."

So Doris went back to bed. But in the morning she told mother all the story, and mother, of course, understood; but the others all laughed when they heard the tale and said she had been dreaming. But that was very silly, because there was the baby--the very best thing in all the world, as Doris had wished; and a baby-sister, too, with eyes as blue as the forget-me-nots in the wood.

And Doris is always talking to her of the fairies, and she says she is sure baby understands, because she kicks and says "Goo-roo-oo." Ronald says that doesn't prove anything, but then, he's a boy, and boys don't understand babies, especially a wonderful fairy baby that came in answer to a wish, "just like the real, true fairy stories in the books."

Proofread by LNL, Apr. 2021