The Valentine Box
Roger had planned to send a great many valentines to the girls and boys he knew. There were beautiful valentines in the toy shop window, red satin hearts in little heart-shaped boxes, painted post card valentines, and little card-board figures holding baskets of flowers.
Roger had been saving his allowance for four weeks and he was quite sure that he had enough money to buy a valentine for the little girl next door, and one for the little girl across the street, and one for the boy on the next block, and one for the boy who lived upstairs.
So, quite early the day before Saint Valentine's Day, Roger decided to go out and buy his valentines.
Just as he was about to start, though, he heard a sound from the playroom. Peep, peep, peep. Oh, it was Roger's pet canary who was calling to him, "Wait a moment, little master! You have forgotten to feed me."
Roger knew that he must not buy valentines if his pet bird was hungry. He found that it needed fresh water to drink, and the cage needed cleaning too. When he had done all this and filled the seed box, his mother called him.
"I want two yards more of lace like this for the baby's dress, Roger. Will you please go down to the store and buy it for me?"
"Oh, yes!" Roger said, for he thought that he should be able to go on down to the toy store and buy his valentines at the same time. But just as he was going out of the door his mother spoke again. "Come right home, Roger, just as quickly as you can. I want to finish the baby's dress so that she can wear it this afternoon when I take her over to Aunt Lucy's."
Roger got the lace and hurried home with it, but he couldn't get the valentines then. He had to amuse the baby while his mother sewed on the lace.
"I can go for the valentines this afternoon," Roger thought. But right after luncheon mother dressed the baby and started out for Aunt Lucy's house.
"I may not be back until five o'clock, Roger," his mother said as she kissed him good-bye. "You won't leave dear grandmother alone a minute, will you?"
"No, mother," Roger said, but he could have cried, for he knew now that he could not buy his valentines at all.
Grandmother lost her spectacles several times, and dropped her knitting ball several more times, and wanted Roger to take her for a walk, so he was very busy all the afternoon. He was glad to be busy for he felt very badly indeed about having no valentines to send. All the children to whom he had planned to send valentines had sent valentines to him the year before. The children were his loved playmates and he knew that Saint Valentine's Day was the holiday for telling one's love.
He did not let his dear grandmother know how sorry he was, though, and after a while it was five o'clock, and his mother came home.
"Has Roger been a good boy?" she asked his grandmother.
"As good as gold," grandmother said. "He has just warmed my heart all the afternoon."
"Well, I thought he would," his mother said. "Oh, I almost forgot something, Roger. I have a surprise for you up in the attic."
She went up to the attic and came back with a box in her hand.
"I meant to give these to you this morning, Roger," she said. "I found them in an old trunk when I was cleaning the attic last week. They are just as good as new and much prettier than the ones in the shops now, I think. They are the valentines that I had when I was a little girl."
Oh, such beautiful valentines as filled the valentine box! There were enough so that Roger could take one to every child in the neighborhood on the morning of Saint Valentine's Day.
His mother had been right about these pretty, old-fashioned valentines. They were nicer than any in the toy shop. Roger spread them all out on the library table, and looked at them. Suddenly he found out something queer about the valentines; they made him feel as if he had been playing Saint Valentine all day.
Some of the valentines had cunning little paper windows that pulled out and showed tiny gold birds inside. They made Roger think of his pet canary that he had fed that morning.
Some of the valentines were bordered and trimmed with gilt, and silver, and white paper lace. It made Roger think of the lace he had bought for his mother.
A great many of the valentines were in the shape of hearts, or there were hearts hung from them, or hearts on them that could be pulled out and would stand alone. They made Roger think of what his dear grandmother had said,
"Roger has warmed my heart all the afternoon."
"Hurrah for the valentine box!" Roger said as he began putting valentines in envelopes. He felt most unusually happy.