Eva Goes On Holiday # 6
Miss Manfred and The Lady who sits with us in the dining room and when we play games indoors said that it’s my birthday today.
How was I supposed to know, nobody told me.
It was an ordinary day; we played on the beach in the morning, then we had to go to the nurse and she did what she calls an examination and I had to take my vest off again; I have to do this all the time here, at least maybe three or four times already, or maybe six. The nurse says that the sea air has done me good and that my chest is much clearer and that I’ll be a new girl when I go home. That’s so silly, I don’t think that I can be new, how can I be new when I’m already a big girl.
After our lunch we had to lie down again for a rest and then we went to tea and to play games indoors in the big dining room. All the other children from the big house were there too and when I tried to go to the table for the children from the isolation ward, where we always sit, The Lady called me back and said to come to the front next to her table where she and Miss Manfred and some of the other grown-ups sit to have their meals and watch us play.
Nobody else had ever had to do this before and I was really frightened. I knew I hadn’t done anything bad, I don’t think Miss Manfred had seen us when Susie and I went and hid in the dunes and pretended to be lost, because we went back before she noticed that we had run away.
I went to The Lady and I saw that she was smiling, so she couldn’t be cross with me. When grown-ups tell me off they never smile, they look serious and angry and upset. Then they tell me that they are very upset and they don’t think that I might be upset because they are cross with me.
The Lady and Miss Manfred were standing by a little table between the big tables for the grown-ups and I saw that they had a cake on it; the cake looked very nice and I thought how lucky they were to have it.
The Lady made me stand by the little table, right in front of all the children and the grown-ups and she said that it was a very special day for me because it was my birthday and then she said that I could choose any song and that all the children would sing it for me because it was my birthday and did I know which song I wanted them to sing for me. And that I could also choose a game to play afterwards and that the cake was for my table and for the other girls from the isolation ward and that everybody would have a piece of cake to eat and that there was enough cake for everybody.
I have never had a cake because of me before and I didn’t know any songs for everybody to sing and I didn’t want to choose a game either. Nobody told me that it was my birthday and I didn’t like to stand there and everybody staring at me. I could tell that The Lady was looking at Miss Manfred and that Miss Manfred was looking back at the Lady and they were making private grown-up faces at each other, with smiles and shruggy shoulders. I know grown-ups when they think you can’t see them because they are taller than you and secretly they are saying that they think you are stupid and they make poor child faces, when really they have no idea that they are being creepy with their songs and their games.
In the end The Lady said that everybody should sing the song about the Jolly Rambler and would I like that. Well of course I know that song, we sing it all the time and it is nothing special and I could have told her that too and she also said we could play a game of Black Peter afterwards, if I liked.
So she made me stand there and everybody sang about the Jolly Rambler and I had to pretend to be glad because it was specially for me, but it was really creepy and I could see that I hadn’t cleaned my shoes after we had been to the beach and there was a lot of sand in the cracks. I am glad I was dribbling sand all over their clean floor.
After everybody had shouted happy birthday Eva, The Lady let me go back to my table.
The cake was lovely and I ate a very big piece all by myself. When I go home again I must ask Mum if I can have a cake for my next birthday. At least, I won’t have to have a song sung for me.