- Samantha Parkington
- Mary Edwards
- Eddie Ryland
- Cornelia Edwards
- Gardner Edwards
- Agnes and Agatha Pitt
- Mrs. Hawkins
- Ida Dean
- Ruth Adams
- Edith Eddleton
Chapter by Chapter Summary
Chapter One: Petticoats and Petit FoursSamantha is woken up by Agatha and Agnes who push a bouquet into her arms. When Samatha tells them that it is beautiful they proudly tell her that they had made it themselves. Agnes says that the bouquet was her idea, but Agatha was the one who had the idea to wrap it in lace. When Samantha inquires where they got the lace from they giggle, admitting that they've cut up their petticoat. Samantha says that Grandmary would be furious if she had cut up her petticoat. The twins insist that their mother wouldn't be since the petticoat was getting too small for them anyway. Samantha laughs. During the week of their visit the twins have already turned Grandmary's house topsy-turvy.
The twins urge Samantha to get dressed so they can go downstairs and eat breakfast. They comment negatively on Samantha's long underwear, insising that nobody in New York wears long underwear anymore. Samantha explains that Grandmary insists that she wear long underwear from September to June. The twins exclaim that's an old fashioned rule and urge Samantha to make up her own mind for once. Samantha takes their advice and gets dressed without the long underwear. Samantha plans to show her bouquet to Hawkins, but Agatha says he saw it already and the roses are from his rosebush. Samantha is worried because no one is allowed to touch Hawkins' rosebush, but Agnes assures her that there are several roses on the bush and he won't mind if they borrowed a few.
To Samantha's surprise, Agnes is right and Hawkins thinks the roses are a wonderful present. He and Mrs. Hawkins give the girls blueberry muffins for breakfast. Samantha's muffin has a lit candle sticking out of the middle. Samantha blows out the candle with one breath and wishes that 'being ten would be completely different than being nine' because she is ready for some changes in her life. Mrs. Hawkins tells Samantha that she will have a cake with ten candles for her party in the afternoon and jokes she will have to blow them out with more than one breath. Agatha suggests to Mrs. Hawkins that instead of making one cake with ten candles, she should make ten little cakes with one candle in each of them. She explains they are called petit fours and ladies eat them at fancy tea parties in New York. Samantha likes Agatha's idea and asks Mrs. Hawkins if she would make the petit fours. Mrs. Hawkins is doubtful at first at the notion of making something different, but eventually agrees to it. Agnes also suggests that Hawkins shapes the ice cream into ice cream molds because that's how ice cream is served in New York's ice cream parlors. Samantha likes Agnes' idea as well and asks Hawkins if he would change the ice cream; as long as the ice cream is her favorite flavor, peppermint. Hawkins agrees and says the girls can help him make the ice cream when he's washed the ice cream freezer.
The girls finish their breakfast and go outside. Samantha starts telling Agnes and Agatha how to make ice cream when Eddie Ryland approaches. He addresses the twins by saying "Hey, carrot heads." Agnes scowls at him and tells him not to say 'hey' because hay is for horses. Eddie replies that Agnes knows this because she eats like a horse. He laughs at his joke and ask what the girls are up to. They answer that they're not doing anything, but then Hawkins comes outside with the ice cream freezer. Eddie declares he'll help make the ice cream, claiming he knows everything about it. The girls say 'no' together and Agatha orders Eddie to go away. Eddie stands his ground and asks who's going to make him leave. Agatha says she will and makes a fist. Samantha knows Agatha would punch Eddie in the nose if she wanted to, and Grandmary's strictest rule 'GIRLS DON'T FIGHT' wouldn't stop her. Samantha allows Eddie to help make the ice cream to keep the peace, whispering to the twins that he might go away if they ignore him.
Hawkins starts to make the ice cream by pouring ice chips into the ice cream freezer. Samantha adds the salt. Hawkins advises her to only use enough to melt the ice. Eddie adds in a know-it-all voice to keep the salt away from the container's lid because the ice cream will be ruined if salt gets inside. Agatha tells Eddie they don't need him to boss them around and blocks his view. Samantha says happily the ice cream will be the best that anyone ever ate as Hawkins turns the crank of the freezer. Agnes says she can't wait to taste the ice cream and Samantha and Agatha agree with her. Eddie agrees too, but the girls ignore him.
Chapter Two: The Party
Samantha is getting dressed for her birthday party and changes into her striped dress and lacy pinafore. Grandmary comes into the room and wishes Samantha a happy birthday. She says she has something special for her to wear at her party and tells her to face the mirror. Samantha stands still as Grandmary fastens a silk rosebud circlet in her hair. Samantha gushes at how beautiful the circlet is. Grandmary explains that Samantha's mother wore the circlet on her tenth birthday and would have been happy to see it passed on to her. Samantha thanks Grandmary for the circlet. They go downstairs to wait for the party guests. Samantha stands at the front of the house next to Grandmary, feeling excited about the surprises she and the twins have planned for everyone. The guests arrive wearing their best party dresses and carrying their favorite doll in one hand and a present for Samantha in the other. The guests (aside from Agnes and Agatha) include Ida Dean, Ruth Adams, and Edith Eddleton. Even though Samantha knows everyone well, she feels shy as her friends curtsy to her and Grandmary. The guests feel shy too, especially when they see Agnes and Agatha wearing pale blue dresses, the latest style from New York.
The girls go outside and sit quietly in a circle of wicker chairs. They sit up straight with their dolls in their laps and their legs crossed at the ankles. Samantha tries twice to start a polite, grown-up conversation about the warm weather, but no one has anything to say. Agnes suggests Samantha open her presents and the other girls agree. Samantha receives a box of colored pencils from Ida, a fan from Ruth, a book of piano exercises from Edith, and a teddy bear from Agnes and Agatha (who saved their gift for last). Agnes explains that teddy bears are the newest thing in New York and they wanted Samantha to have one of her very own. Samantha thanks them for the bear and she passes it around to the others. Once all the girls have a chance to hold the bear, they are silent again, trying to act polite and grown-up.
Just then, Uncle Gard and Aunt Cornelia arrive in their car. Samantha and her guests eagerly jump out of their chairs and run over to greet them. Gard goes straight to Samantha, picks her up, and jokingly says, "Happy samday, Bertha!" All the girls giggle as Gard pretends to be confused, then decides to do it over. He picks Samantha up again, gives her a kiss and correctly wishes her a happy birthday. Cornelia says she has someone for Samantha to meet. She reaches into the car and lifts up a brown and white puppy named Jip. Samantha takes Jip into her arms and says he's perfect, while Jip licks her chin. Agatha offers to make him do tricks. Cornelia warns the girls to keep an eye on Jip because he's frisky and likes to run. The girls go back to their circle of whicker chairs and Samantha puts Jip in the middle of the circle. Agatha commands Jip to sit, but he doesn't. Agatha admits that Jip doesn't always obey commands and orders him to sit again. Jip ignores her and runs wildly around the circle. Jip barks at the girls feet and Agnes explains that he likes shoes. All the girls sit in their chairs and dance their feet up and down as Jip happily tries to catch them. Agatha's foot accidentally knocks over the box with Samantha's teddy bear in it and the bear tumbles out. Jip growls at the bear to the girls delight. Agatha picks up the bear and playfully waves it in front of Jip's face, commanding him to try and get it. Jip yanks the bear out of Agatha's hands and runs across the lawn dragging the bear by the leg. Samantha yells for him to stop. All the girls chase Jip to the back of the house, in circles around the oak tree, across the drive, through the lilac hedge, and into the Ryland's yard.
The girls finally catch up to him next to the Ryland's birdbath. Agatha starts to take a running leap to catch him, but Samantha stops her because she has a better idea. Samantha takes off her shoe and dangles it in front of Jip. Jip immediately drops the teddy bear, runs over to Samantha, and grabs her shoe. Samantha picks him up and his muddy paws stain her pinafore. The other girls cheer and Edith inquires where the teddy bear is. Eddie Ryland appears holding the bear by the nose. Samantha orders Eddie to give the bear back. Eddie says he won't unless they let him play with Jip and have some ice cream because he helped make it. Samantha firmly says he can't play with Jip because he belongs to Cornelia, and he can't have ice cream because it's for her party. The twins add that Eddie isn't invited to the party because it's for girls only. Eddie stubbornly says that he'll just keep the bear and Agnes calls Eddie a "nincompoop." All the girls laugh and chant "Eddie is a nincompoop! Eddie is a nincompoop!" Agatha tackles Eddie to the ground and retrieves the teddy bear. All the girls run back to Samantha's yard clapping and cheering for Agatha.
Grandmary stands at the circle of chairs and asks what happened. Samantha explains how Jip ran off with the teddy bear, but leaves out the part about Agatha tackling Eddie because it breaks Grandmary's rule about fighting. Grandmary says she hopes the girls weren't making a spectacle of themselves and examines them: Agnes' sash is untied, Agatha has grass stains on her stockings, Samantha's circlet is tilted over one ear, and Ida's hairbow is gone. Grandmary looks as though she might smile, but instead remarks that the girls must be warm from chasing Jip and suggests they have some lemonade. Grandmary leads the girls up the stairs to the porch where the birthday table is set. The table is set up with a lace cloth, Grandmary's best gold spoons, a pitcher of pink lemonade, and a nosegay of roses at each place. The girls sit down and Samantha gives each of them a fan for a party favor. The girls act like young ladies by opening and closing their fans and elegantly fanning themselves. After eating tea sandwiches and drinking their lemonade, Mrs. Hawkins comes outside carrying the tray of petit fours with lit candles in them. The girls gasp with delight and sing "Happy Birthday" to Samantha as she blows out all the candles in one breath. Mrs. Hawkins gives each girl a petit four. Samantha asks if her guests want peppermint ice cream in a grown-up voice as Hawkins begins to serve it.
The girls put large, unladylike spoonfuls in their mouths. Their faces turn as pink as the ice cream as they discover it tastes horrible. They cough and choke, spit out the ice cream into their napkins, and drink large gulps of lemonade. Samantha exclaims that the ice cream is full of salt! Hawkins is puzzled and says that Eddie tried it just minutes ago and didn't complain. Samantha asks if Eddie was alone with the ice cream. Hawkins replies he was. Agnes exclaims angrily that Eddie put salt in the ice cream and ruined it. Agatha gets up and threatens to teach him a lesson. She runs into Cornelia, who asks why the girls look so sour. Samantha explains they are salty, not sour and explains Eddie's trick. Cornelia tries a bite of the ice cream, grimaces, and advises the girls to ignore the ice cream and just eat the petit fours and lemonade.
The girls eat their petit fours in silence, but Samantha is too upset to swallow because her beautiful party is ruined. Agnes and Agatha eat quickly and hurry away to talk to Cornelia. A few minutes later, they come running back. The twins exclaim that Samantha can come and stay with Cornelia next week in New York if Grandmary permits it. They also mention they can go to Tyson's Ice Cream Parlor for the best ice cream in the world. Samantha is excited, forgetting all about Eddie's trick, and asks Grandmary if she may go to New York. Grandmary says yes, and adds that she will go too because she is craving peppermint ice cream herself.
Chapter Three: New York City
A week later, Samantha and Grandmary have arrived in New York. They ride in a horse-drawn cab from the train station to Gard and Cornelia's new house. Samantha leans forward, holding onto her hat, trying to see the tops of the buildings and the people hurrying by on the sidewalk. Samantha tells Grandmary how excited she is to see Agnes and Agatha again, and how much fun they are to be around. Grandmary agrees that they are happy and lively girls, but sometimes they go too far with their ideas. Samantha silently agrees that "their ideas were as tangled as their bouncy, red curls" and says the twins are just thinking of new ways to do things. Grandmary replies that they don't always think carefully and don't realize that the old ways are the best ways in some situations.
Suddenly, the cab jerks to a stop at the edge of Madison Square Park. Samantha and Grandmary lean forward and see a large crowd of women standing on the sidewalk and street. Some of the women are hanging banners saying "WOMEN FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE" and "NOW IS THE TIME FOR CHANGE" across the park's entrance. The cab driver explains to Grandmary that they need to take a different road because the women are blocking traffic. Grandmary advises him to do what's best and is indifferent to what is going on. Samantha, however, is fascinated and asks who the women are. Grandmary explains that they are suffragists who think women should be able to vote. She expresses her disapproval of the suffragists by saying they get together to make a ruckus about changing the laws and their ideas are just new fangled notions. The cab turns down a quieter street. Samantha is still very curious about the meeting in the park, but decides not to ask any more questions about it after seeing the look on Grandmary's face.
The cab finally stops in front of Gard and Cornelia's tall, narrow brownstone house. Samantha hops out of the cab onto the sidewalk and hears people calling her name. She looks up to see Agnes and Agatha waving to her from one of the upstairs windows. Agnes is also holding a happy, barking Jip and waving his paw. Cornelia comes outside and welcomes Samantha and Grandmary. The twins and Jip come flying out the door after her and hug Samantha. Cornelia bids them to come inside and everyone goes into the house. Gard waits for them in the doorway. He joking tells Samantha that he is glad to see her because he's been looking for her all week long, and can't seem to find anything in the new house. Cornelia teases him by asking if he could find lunch for them. Gard kisses the tip of her nose and replies that he never has trouble finding food. The twins pull Samantha into the dining room and sit her between them at the table. The maid passes food to them as the twins shower Samantha with questions about Eddie, the train ride, and what to do after lunch until Cornelia gently scolds them to stop.
Cornelia asks Grandmary where she plans to shop for the day. Grandmary answers that she will go to O'Neill's and never goes any further. Gard suggests she goes to a new shop on Fifth Avenue that is closer than O'Neill's, but can't remember the name. Grandmary kindly tells him not to worry about remembering because she has shopped at O'Neill's for thirty years and is too old to change her ways now. Cornelia says slowly that Madison Square Park is near O'Neill's and might be crowded because a meeting is taking place. Grandmary replies that she and Samantha saw the crowd already. She adds that, in her opinion, ladies shouldn't gather in public places, especially not carry on about "this voting nonsense." Cornelia repeats, "Nonsense?" in a slightly higher voice. Grandmary continues her point and says voting has never been a lady's concern and sees no reasons why that should change now. She concludes that the suffragists are making spectacles of themselves and should stay at home where ladies belong. Samantha sees Agnes and Agatha look at each other with raised eyebrows then stare quickly into their soup bowls. Cornelia opens her mouth as if to contradict Grandmary, but then closes it and says nothing.
Samantha tries to ask about the meeting, but Gard quickly changes the subject by telling her there's a large box in the hall with a present inside. He claims a man approached him asking if he knew a girl that recently turned ten years old and to give her the box. Samantha quickly forgets her questions and she and the twins run to the hallway. The girls tear off the wrapping paper and open the box, containing a beautiful pram for carrying dolls. Samantha hugs Gard and thanks him for the pram; knowing the pram was from him and no one else. Agnes suggests they take it to the park and Gard agrees. Agatha asks if they can bring Jip with them. Cornelia refuses, reminding them of how Jip escaped at Samantha's party. Agatha replies that Jip won't run off because the park is fenced, and they will only go to the park across the street and no further. Cornelia finally relents after making the girls promise to keep Jip on his leash. Cornelia adds that she has to go to a meeting, but will be back at three-thirty so they can meet Grandmary at the ice cream parlour. Grandmary reminds them to behave like young ladies and Cornelia repeats to keep Jip on his leash. Gard tells the girls to have fun at Gramercy Park. The girls promise they will, and Jip barks in agreement.
Chapter Four: Follow That Dog!
The girls and Jip make their way to Gramercy Park, a beautiful fenced in green park amid the crowded city. Jip leads the way with Agnes and Agatha holding on the leash. Samantha pushes her new doll pram with one of Agnes' dolls in it. Once they close the door of the gate, Jip leads the girls to a large fountain in the center of the park. The fountain has a small pool at the bottom with tin swans swimming in it and Samantha remarks at how realistic the swans look. Jip seems to agree with her because he begins to growl at the swans and drags his leash trying to attack them. Agatha commands Jip to stop, but Jip keeps barking and lunges at the swans. She also picks him up twice, but Jip still won't settle down and squirms in her arms. Agatha complains that she is tired of carrying Jip and asks Agnes if she will carry him. Agnes refuses because she doesn't want paw prints on her dress and says, imitating Grandmary, "ladies do not make spectacles of themselves." Agatha grumbles that it was Agnes' idea to bring Jip in the first place and Agnes insists it wasn't. Samantha breaks up their argument by offering to carry Jip if Agatha pushes the pram.
Agatha eyes the pram and says she has a better idea: they could put Jip in the pram so that neither of them will have to carry him. Agnes instantly agrees to it, but Samantha doesn't think it's a good idea. She reminds the twins that they promised Cornelia they'd keep Jip on his leash and Agatha assures her that they will. She then puts Jip in the pram, slips the leash off her wrist and loops it around the handle of the pram. Samantha still has doubts and Agnes tells her not to worry, saying it's a new way to walk a dog and that Jip looks cute in the pram. Jip does look cute for about a second, but then yanks on the leash with his teeth and pulls it off the handle. Before the girls can stop him, Jip jumps out of the pram and sprints away. Samantha yells for Jip to stop and runs after him, trying to grab his leash. The girls panic as Jip wriggles between the iron bars of the fence and slips out of the park. Agatha wildly tries to climb over the fence while Agnes stands frozen with her face in her hands and moaning. Samantha sees she has to take charge and exclaims that they have to catch Jip. She leads the twins to the door of the gate and pushes it open. They see Jip running halfway down the block. Agnes reminds Samantha they've forgotten the pram, but Samantha insists they leave it behind because catching Jip is more important.
The girls chase after Jip. Jip runs to a hotel on the corner with a group of people waiting outside with their piles of luggage. Samantha calls to the crowd "Stop that dog!" but Jip is too fast for them. He, bounds through the crowd, jumps over a trunk and slips around the corner.
Chapter Five: Changes
Jip leads Samantha and the twins to Madison Square Park where the suffragists are meeting. Cornelia is speaking in front of the crowd. Jip hears Cornelia and runs up to her. Cornelia finishes her speech and then, when she finds the girls, scolds them for their misbehavior and poor choices.
The group goes to Tyson's Parlor to meet Grandmary, who is shocked at their appearance. Samantha starts to explain what happened, and Grandmary informs her that on the way to the parlor she heard Cornelia speak. As a result, she has changed her opinion on women voting.
Looking Back: Growing Up in 1904
Discusses childhood in turn of the century America. Topics covered:
- How childbirth was handled by families and doctors, and the various ways that babies were pampered and taken care of by nursemaids and nannies.
- The many things a child would do in their playroom, such as play with toys and eat their meals on child-sized tables and chairs.
- Laws and toys that were invented to help children embrace their childhoods - parents were beginning to understand that childhood was a precious time that should be spent playing rather than working.
- Popular games and toys that children played with, such as teddy bears, dominoes, and volumes of Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz.
- Similarities young boys and girls had with their clothing styles at the time.
- The expectation for children to grow up to be proper ladies and gentlemen, with many girls beginning to mature at the age of eight or nine years of age.
- Clothing and appearance changes girls endured when they turned fifteen years old - many other girls also began to attend finishing schools as well.
- Different paths that girls could choose when they turned eighteen, in which they were officially welcomed into the adult-world with coming out or debutante parties.
- Early editions of Happy Birthday, Samantha! have the word "suffragette," which was what English women wished to be called; American women preferred the word "suffragists." Later editions correct this.
Items associated with Happy Birthday, Samantha!
- Lacy Pinafore and Rosebud Circlet
- Jip the Dog
- Mohair Teddy Bear
- Samantha's Party Treats
- Victorian Lemonade Set
- Ice Cream Freezer
- Elegant Doll Pram
- Wicker Table and Chairs