The children amused themselves with helium-filled balloons that the Chantillys had picked up in town, while the adults worked quickly to get the brunch ready.
Maurice got the fire started and was soon arranging his famous seafood and vegetable kebabs on the grill. (He was asked once what he used to marinate his juicy and flavorful kebabs, and his reply was, “Oh, a little salt and some spices,” and a wink.)
Myriam and Eleanor set the tables.
Mortimer, having done his part the night before – putting up the party decorations after Matthew had gone to bed, and making and frosting the birthday cake – got to kick back and just welcome the guests.
The Slydales arrived soon after, and quickly pitched in. Velvette Slydale brought a tomato and cheese pizza for the children.
‘Very thoughtful of you, Velvette,’ said Eleanor.
‘Oh, it was nothing,’ said Velvette. ‘Good idea to bring these plastic plates for the children, Myriam. I keep telling Slick to get plastic bowls and cups for our little Skitter, but he says he doesn’t care for plastic. I said to him, ‘Well, you’ll start caring once we run out of china!”
‘Indeed!’ said Myriam, and the ladies giggled.
The Mulberrys – Elma and Mae and their children Ike and Candy – finally appeared, with the unexpected additions of the children’s grandparents, George and Mildred.
‘How lovely to see you, George and Millie!’ cried Eleanor, giving the feisty old lady a warm hug.
‘Sorry we’re later than usual, Ellie and Mort,’ said Mae. ‘Ma and Pa called from the village to say that they were coming by, so we waited for them and they got lost.’
‘Oh, a little off-the-beaten-track adventure never hurt anyone,’ said George.
‘And we come bearing gifts for your boy,’ said Mildred as she handed Eleanor two big wrapped packages.
‘The one in the er, appropriate wrapping paper is from Mae and family,’ said Mildred. ‘The one in pink is from George and me, I’m afraid. I know your Mattie is a boy, but it’s such a pretty pink paper that I couldn’t resist. Anyway, it’s what’s inside that matters, I think.’
‘You’re absolutely right, Millie!’ said Eleanor. She found Mildred’s eccentricities refreshing and endearing.
‘Ladies and gentlemen!’ Maurice announced. ‘The kebabs are ready, and everyone’s here, so shall we have brunch now?’
And they did.
-End of Part 2-