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Pickle Me This

August 16, 2012

Mary Poppins and Afternoon Tea

“So, still admiring themselves and each other, they moved on together through the little wood, till presently they came upon a little open space filled with sunlight. And there on a green table was Afternoon-Tea!

A pile of raspberry-jam-cakes as high as Mary Poppins’s waist stood in the centre, and beside it tea was boiling in a big brass urn. Best of all, there were two plates of whelks and two pins to pick them out with.

“Strike me pink!” said Mary Poppins. That was what she always said when she was pleased.

“Golly!” said the Match-Man. And that was his particular phrase.

“Won’t you sit down, Moddom?” enquired a voice, and they turned to find a tall man in a black coat coming out of the wood with a table-napkin over his arm.

Mary Poppins, thoroughly surprised, sat down with a plop upon one of the little green chairs that stood round the table. The Match-Man, staring, collapsed on to another.

“I’m the Waiter, you know!” explained the man in the black coat.

“Oh! But I didn’t see you in the picture,” said Mary Poppins.

“Ah, I was behind the tree,” explained the Waiter.

“Won’t you sit down?” said Mary Poppins, politely.

“Waiters never sit down, Moddom,” said the man, but he seemed pleased at being asked.

“Your whelks, Mister!” he said, pushing a plate of them over to the Match-Man. “And your Pin!” He dusted the pin on his napkin and handed it to the Match-Man.

They began upon the afternoon-tea, and the Waiter stood beside them to see they had everything they needed.

“We’re having them after all,” said Mary Poppins in a loud whisper, as she began on the heap of raspberry-jam-cakes.

“Golly!” agreed the Match-Man, helping himself to two of the largest.

“Tea?” said the Waiter, filling a large cup for each of them from the urn.

They drank it and had two cups more each, and then, for luck, they finished the pile of raspberry-jam-cakes. After that they got up and brushed the crumbs off.

“There is Nothing to Pay,” said the Waiter, before they had time to ask for the bill. “It is a Pleasure. You will find the Merry-go-Round just over there!” And he waved his hand to a little gap in the trees, where Mary Poppins and the Match-Man could see several wooden horses whirling round on a stand.

“That’s funny,” said she. “I don’t remember seeing that in the picture, either.”

“Ah,” said the Match-Man, who hadn’t remembered it himself, “it was in the Background, you see!”

The Merry-go-Round was just slowing down as they approached it. They leapt upon it, Mary Poppins on a black horse and the Match-Man on a grey. And when the music started again and they began to move, they rode all the way to Yarmouth and back, because that was the place they both wanted most to see.

When they returned it was nearly dark and the Waiter was watching for them.

“I’m very sorry, Moddom and Mister,” he said politely, “but we close at Seven. Rules, you know. May I show you the Way Out?”

They nodded as he flourished his table-napkin and walked on in front of them through the wood.

“It’s a wonderful picture you’ve drawn this time, Bert,” said Mary Poppins, putting her hand through the Match-Man’s arm and drawing her cloak about her.

“Well, I did my best, Mary,” said the Match-Man modestly. But you could see he was really very pleased with himself indeed.

Just then the Waiter stopped in front of them, beside a large white doorway that looked as though it were made of thick chalk lines.

“Here you are!” he said. “This is the Way Out.”

“Good-bye, and thank you,” said Mary Poppins, shaking his hand.

“Moddom, good-bye!” said the Waiter, bowing so low that his head knocked against his knees.

He nodded to the Match-Man, who cocked his head on one side and closed one eye at the Waiter, which was his way of bidding him farewell. Then Mary Poppins stepped through the white doorway and the Match-Man followed her.”

-From P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins, which our whole family has been so enjoying for the past week or so.

3 thoughts on “Mary Poppins and Afternoon Tea”

  1. melanie says:

    We are just finishing the Little House on the Prairie series and I’ve been wondering what we should move on to – I think this is it! Little House has been fun to read and very educational (especially for a family of vegans – lots of questions about that) but I’m ready for something completely different.

    1. Kerry says:

      We have also LOVED the Moomin novels. They’re great!

  2. Sara says:

    I was reading that this summer too – was surprised to realise that I never had before.

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