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I The Surprise Book That Dotty Made
The Surprise Book was Marjorie’s, but it really belonged to Dotty also, Marjorie said. It was Dotty who had made it once upon a time when she had not been able to go to school because of a snowstorm and a snuffy cold. The combination of cold and snowstorm was more or less a lucky mixture, so Marjorie argued. At any rate, if it had not been for these, maybe there never would have been Marjorie’s Surprise Book. You shall hear about it.

It began just after Marjorie, wrapped in storm-coat and arctics, had left for school. Dotty was sitting upon a carpet hassock by the fireside. The fire snapped and crackled pleasantly but Dotty frowned. “I wanted to go to school with Marjorie, too,” she said for about the forty-eleventh time since nine o’clock. “There isn’t anything to do!”

[Pg 4]“Nothing to do!” exclaimed Mother. “Why not make a Surprise Book, Dot?”

“How?” inquired Dotty, turning around to face Mother in sudden interest. “How?”

“Oh, it’s quite simple,” Mother returned. “You will find it ever so much fun. I used to make Surprise Books when I was a little girl. They’re made in scrapbooks. You know how to make a scrapbook, Dot, don’t you?”

Dotty nodded. “I just take some brown wrapping-paper an’ fold it ever so many times an’ then I cut the folds into leaves. When I have ever so many leaves, I cut a cover for ’em an’ I tie the cover to the leaves with a ribbon. It goes through the centre of the book an’ ties at the back like a sash.”

Mother nodded. “That’s it. To make a Surprise Book you first make a scrapbook that way. Then, one at a time, you fold each leaf of the scrapbook twice. You begin by taking the first leaf. You fold its upper corner down till its edge runs parallel with the centre of the scrapbook’s leaves. Then you take the lower corner and fold this up in the same way. It makes a pocket and one can put things into this pocket and seal them tight with[Pg 5] a pretty paper seal like those used to seal Christmas packages.”

“What do you do it for?” asked Dotty. “Why do you put things into the pockets and seal them?”

Mother laughed. “Why, Dot,” she explained. “You put the things into the pockets as surprises because you give the Surprise Book away to somebody that you love very much. Every pocket holds a surprise when it is sealed fast. You write on each pocket the exact time when it is to be opened and the one you love very much must open the pockets and find the surprises only when the time falls due. Do you see?”

Dotty beamed. “I see,” she chuckled. “I’m going to make a Surprise Book right away. What can I put into it for Marjorie to find?”

There was a silence while Mother rocked back and forth in the big old-fashioned rocker as she ran her needle in and out of the hole she was mending in Marjorie’s stocking, and thought. “Suppose you cut nice stories out of magazines and put one in each pocket,” she suggested. “There’s a pile of story-papers[Pg 6] up in the attic. I’ll get them for you. You might find twelve stories, one for every month of the year, and you might make the Surprise Book for Marjorie’s Christmas present.”

Dotty jumped up and down. “Oh, hurry, hurry!” she begged. “I want to begin right away. Marjorie will be coming home soon and she mustn’t know anything about it. Can I put other things into the pockets of the Surprise Book too? What can I put in?”

“All manner of things that one could put into small space like that—picture-cards, paper dolls, transfer pictures, little verses and games that you find in magazines—’most everything that will lie flat. You can try it and think of things to put into the Surprise Book’s pockets.”

Hooray! That was an idea! Dotty knew of a flat penwiper that she could make out of flannel. That would go in flat—and there might be a penny all wrapped up in paper, maybe. Such a thing as this would be simply a splendid surprise. Each pocket should hold something new and wonderful except the pocket that was to be for April Fool’s Day. That pocket should hold only a blank piece of[Pg 7] paper folded up tight to feel as if it were going to be a surprise. There’d be nothing at all in it, when Marjorie broke the seal! What a joke! And every month’s holiday should have a pocket, too! Dotty chuckled. Old Christmas cards would now find a new use. Valentines and Easter gift cards would go into the Surprise Book, too. And every month there would be a story pocket in the book! What fun! As soon as she had made the brown paper scrapbook, she fell to work folding its leaves—first, top corner over and down; next, lower corner up toward it to make a three-cornered pocket. The book had twenty-four leaves, two surprises for every month. First of all, Dotty put the penwiper into the first pocket for a Christmas surprise. She sealed it with a holly seal. Then into the next pocket, she put a January surprise and a January story followed. So it went through all the year. It was exciting trying to find stories that fitted the different months, but the story-papers helped because Mother had kept them in file, month by month. Dotty had only to look the papers over and cut out the story she imagined might best please[Pg 8] Marjorie. She worked very hard indeed. All day she worked, while it snowed outside. It seemed quite lucky, then, that Marjorie stayed away so long. It wasn’t really lonely without her!

And at last, with some help and suggestions from Mother, the Surprise Book was done! It was a big three-cornered book that seemed quite bulky. As Dot held it, she felt that Marjorie would surely like it and she couldn’t bear to keep it till Christmas. Christmas was so far away yet! There were four more days till Christmas Eve! But, nevertheless, because the Surprise Book was to be a Christmas present, Mother and Dot did it up, finally, in nice, fresh, white tissue paper and tied the parcel together with bright red ribbon. It was a splendid present!

When Christmas came, the Surprise Book was placed under the tree and Dotty left all her own presents while she urged Marjorie to open the big package that was tied with red ribbons. “You’ll like it,” she laughed. “I made it for you. It’s a book of surprises that last all through the year—it really is a Surprise Book because there’s so much fun in it!”

[Pg 9]Then Marjorie tore off the paper and red ribbon. When she saw and understood jail about it, she said she would make Dotty a promise and the promise was that every time there fell due a story, she’d read it aloud to Dotty each month.

So, here in this book are the stories that Marjorie read to Dotty, the stories that were in Marjorie’s Surprise Book, together with the penwiper, the Valentine, the St. Patrick’s favor for March, the April Fool, the paper May-basket, the four-leaf clover for June. Beside these, there were a great many other nice things that came in the pockets that were not filled with the stories. You shall hear about them all yourself, as you turn the pages here.

The Telephone Santa Claus

THE DECEMBER SURPRISE

Of course, you know as well as Dotty that there was a penwiper in the first Christmas pocket. The writing on that pocket said,

    “Not to be opened till after you have seen all your presents from the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.”

Marjorie liked the penwiper ever so much. She said it could be used at school. It was made of round red circles of cloth and had a button sewed at its centre. The story pocket was quite bulky and it said,

    “Open on Christmas Eve for a bed-time story.”

Marjorie read it aloud as she and Dot curled up in a big cosy comfortable at bed-time. They had to have a very special dispensation from Mother. She said that the Surprise Book story that came on Christmas Eve might keep the bed-time light lit till it was finished. So Marjorie read aloud, “The Telephone Santa Claus.”
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