That morning when her father came in to breakfast he caught Laura and said he must give her a spanking!
First he explained that today was her birthday and she would not grow properly next year unless she had a spanking. (Really this is an American tradition! In Britain children were more often given the bumps by school-friends. The bumps involved being bounced on the floor.) And then he spanked so gently and carefully that it did not hurt a bit.
“One—two—three—four—five—six,” he counted and spanked, slowly. One spank for each year and at the last, one big spank to grow on.
Then her father gave her a little wooden man he had cut out of a stick with his knife. It would be a friend for her doll, Charlotte. Her mother gave her five little cakes, one for each year that Laura had lived with her and Father. And Mary gave her a new dress for her doll, Charlotte. Mary had made the dress herself, when Laura thought she was sewing on her patchwork quilt.
And that night, for a special birthday treat, her father played Pop Goes the Weasel for her on his fiddle.
He sat with Laura and Mary close against his knees while he played. “Now watch,” he said. “Watch and maybe you can see the weasel pop out this time.” Then he sang:
A penny for a spool of thread,
Another for a needle,
That's the way the money goes——
Laura and Mary bent close, watching, for they knew now it was the time.
Pop! (said Father's finger on the fiddle’s string.)
Goes the weasel! (sang the fiddle, plain as plain.)
But Laura and Mary hadn't seen their father's finger make the string pop.
“Oh, please, please, do it again!” they begged him. Their father's blue eyes laughed and the fiddle went on while he sang:
All around the cobbler's bench,
The monkey chased the weasel,
The preacher kissed the cobbler's wife——
Pop! goes the weasel!
They hadn't seen father's finger that time, either. He was so quick they could never catch him.
(The original book is in the public domain under Hong Kong copyright law. This simplified copy is under my new copyright.)