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Chapter 36
Of Taking-Egg Day, and the Remarkable Things that Befell thereon

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  Today was taking-egg day . Taking-egg day comes mostly one time a week. It is the day the mamma does send me straight to take eggs to the folks here about and yonder . First she does send me to take them yonder, before she does send me to take them hereabout . This she does because she knows if she sends me first to take them to the folks that live hereabout, I do stay so long with the folks that live in the nursery and hospital that there isn't time enough left to take eggs unto the people that live yonder. 543 }
  As quick as I did eat my breakfast, the mamma did set out the lard-pail on the wash-bench with a dozen eggs in it. As quick as she did so, I put on my sunbonnet. It is blue and has a ruffle on it. Sometimes I wear it on my head, but most times it hangs back over my shoulders. And often I carry it over my arm with things in it -- earthworms for baby birds, bandages for the folks that get hurt, and mentholatum in quinine boxes . Then too, on exploration trips my chums ride in it. Sometimes it's a mouse and sometimes it's a beetle. Very often it is toads and caterpillars -- only they don't ride in the sunbonnet at the same time, because I have learned toads like to eat caterpillars for breakfast. Sometimes Thomas Chatterton Jupiter Zeus , that most dear velvety wood-rat, snuggles up in my sunbonnet. He most fills it up. A sunbonnet is a very useful garment. 544 }
  After I did tie my bonnet-strings under my chin in the proper way the mamma thinks they ought to be tied, I walked over to the wash-bench in hippity-hops to get that bucket of eggs. Before I took up the bucket, I did look long looks at those eggs. They were so plump and so white, and they did have so nice a feel. I think being a hen must be a very interesting life. How thrilling it must be to cackle after one lays an egg. And then it must be a big amount of satisfaction to have a large number of children hatch out at the same time and follow one about. I think I would like to be a hen in the daytime, but I wouldn't like to roost in the chicken-house at night. 545 }
  When the mamma saw me looking long looks at those eggs, she gave to me a shoulder-shake and told me to get a hurry on me and take those eggs straight to Mrs. Limberger yonder . That Mrs. Limberger is the quite plump wife of that quite big man that lives in a quite big house that is nice but isn't as nice as his lane . I thought I'd go straight to Mrs. Limberger's in along that lane down out along the field; but first I did go by to get Felix Mendelssohn . 546 }
  When I got to where he was, it was very near unto the altar of Good King Edward I. And being as this was the day of his crowning in 1274, I thought I would just go a little farther, to see if the crown I planted in little plants there on the altar were growing in a nice way. They were. When I planted them there from the woods in spring days, I did hope they would burst into bloom on this his crowning day and make a crown of flowers on his altar. But the dear little things got in a hurry, and did bloom more than a month ago. But they were saying today beautiful things with their leaves. I heard them as I did kneel to pray to thank God for Good King Edward I. 547 }
  After I did pray quite a long time and Felix Mendelssohn got a little fidgety, I started on to take the eleven eggs that were left straight to Mrs. Limberger . The other egg I could not take because when I did kneel to pray, in some way it did roll out of the bucket, and before I was through my prayers a little gray rock by my hand just rolled off the altar and met the egg. There are a lot of little gray rocks on the altar. It is mostly made up of little rocks and some big ones. While I was making that altar, the man that works at the mill and wears gray neckties and is kind to mice came along. And the big rocks that were too big he did lift and place on the altar there. And then he did help me to plant mosses in between some of the rocks. That made me happy. Men are such a blessing to have about. 548 }
  Today I did go from the altar to the field. Along the way I stopped to talk to the trees and to watch the birds and to get berries for the nursery . I put them in the bucket with the eggs. I most lost my bonnet climbing over the fence, and I did lose three more of those eggs and some of the berries for the nursery. I picked up the berries and put them back in the lard-pail , but the eggs I could not pick up. I didn't put my sunbonnet back on my head again, but I did give the strings a little tie in front so it wouldn't come off. 549 }
  Very soon after I saw a little snake. He was crawling along. When I see snakes I like to stop and watch them. The dresses they wear fit them tight. They can't fluff out their clothes like birds can, but snakes are quick people. They move in such a pretty way. Their eyes are bright and their tongues are slim. 550 }
  When that snake crawled away where I couldn't see him any more, I walked over to talk to a flower. After we did have conversation for some time, I happened to think the mamma did say to hurry; so I said good-bye, and when I did, I put my nose to the flower to smell it. It had a pleasant odor. I went on. Pretty soon I felt something on my nose. I wiped it off. It was pollen from that flower. I put it on an egg in the lard-pail . That gave that egg a flowery look. I showed it to an ear of corn, and then, as I did go along, I stopped to take the clods away from the roots of some of the corn-plants so the toes of their roots could have some fresh air. They quivered appreciations , and some did bow down most to the ground to thank me after I was done. 551 }
  I proceeded. The day was most warm. When I did cross the creek I looked down it and up it. There were fairy demoiselles near unto the water. Their wings did shimmer in the sunlight. All along its edges the willows were dabbling their toes. Some had waded in a little bit -- about enough to get their ankles wet. I looked long looks at them. I knew just how they did feel inside while they were dabbling their toes in the water. It is such a nice feel to have. 552 }
  I started on. I looked back. I started on. I turned and came back a little ways -- just to take a good-bye look. The willows waved their hands to me. They called to me, "Petite Françoise , petite Françoise." I hurried on with the eggs. I had got twice as far as I did get before. Then I started back to the creek. I ran all the way. When I arrived I took off my shoes. I hung my Stockings on a willow branch. Then I sat on the edge of the bank and dabbled my toes. One drinks in so much inspiration while one is dabbling ones toes in a willow creek. And one does hear the talkings of plants that dwell near unto the water. 553 }
  While I was dabbling my toes, my legs did have longings to go in wading, but I went not in. Something might have happened to what was left of that dozen eggs the mamma was sending straight to Mrs. Limberger , and that was why I did not go. And I did not take Felix Mendelssohn out of the pocket he was riding in, that he might dabble his toes. I took him not out, for he has no longings to dabble his toes in a brook. He has prefers to dabble his toes in cheese. Though I do feel most certain one doesn't get near so much inspirations when one dabbles one's toes in cheese as one gets when one dabbles one's toes in waters that sing. After I did take in a goodly amount of inspirations, I drew my toes away from the water and let the sun dry my feet so I could put my Stockings on. While I was lacing my shoes up, I looked looks around to see what was near about. A little way distant was a haystack. 554 }
  When I did have my shoes most laced up to the top, I gave the strings a tuck in and started on. I saw a bourdon. He was plump in body and he did give a plump buzz. I did halt to screwtineyes him and to listen to more of those plump buzzings of his. They were cool sounds. What ones I did hear were so. He was a bourdon in a hurry, and he went on in a quick way. And I went on in a slow way. The sun was so hot. It made me squint my eyes, so I put my bonnet on. That made things better. Pretty soon I met Elizabeth Barrett Browning . Then we went walking across the field. I took off my sunbonnet and tied it on Elizabeth Barrett Browning so the sun wouldn't bother her eyes. And she did go her way and I did go mine. We shall meet again at the pasture-bars when comes even-time. 555 }
  When I did say good-bye to Elizabeth Barrett Browning , I went the way that leads to this haystack. And here I have stopped. A haystack is such an interesting place. It's a nice place to explore. I think so. Mice think so. Sometimes -- quite often -- when I am crawling back in a haystack, I do meet a mouse which is very nice, for mice are nice folks to know. And now today, when I did crawl back away under the straw I did find something. What I did find made me feel gratitudes from my curls to my toes. It was a nest full of eggs and nobody had used an egg from it. There are -- there were just fifteen eggs under the hay. They are not near so white as are those eight eggs the mamma is sending straight to Mrs. Limberger , but they do have more smooth feels. Oh, such satin feels! They are so slick they came most slipping right out of my hands, but they didn't. 556 }
  Four and two I have took. I have put them here in the pail. I do know Mrs. Limberger does so like to have things with satin feels about her. I have heard her expressions so when I was taking eggs to her before. Now I think she will beam delights all over her plumpness when she does see the satin feel eggs in this pail. I have placed them on top so she will see them first of all. Too, I think her eyes will kink when she finds she has got a dozen eggs and two. I wonder what she will be doing with those two extra eggs. Now I'll just get a hurry on me and take them straight to her. And I will hide these printings of today in a little box here in the haystack until comes eventime . And I will come back again for them when I come to meet Elizabeth Barrett Browning at the pasture-bars. 557 }
  I'm back again. I did go straight from this haystack with the two and dozen eggs to the door of the house of Mrs. Limberger . When I did get there she was talking with a woman. The woman was the beautiful Sadie McKibben , and she wore upon her a new dress like the blossoms of avalon growing in the marshes, and there were freckles on it like the freckles on her face, and both were beautiful. Also did Mrs. Limberger wear a new dress. It was black and had a yellow stripe in it like unto one of those yellow stripes the garter-snake wears on his back. 558 }
  When I did walk soft upon the porch they were so busy talking they heard me not. I reached out the eggs. Yet they were so busy talking they saw them not. Then I did edge over to Sadie McKibben . I gave her sleeve a little pull. She looked down at me and smiled. She went on talking. She gave each one of my curls a smooth-out while she talked on. When she did get most done with her part of the conversation, Mrs. Limberger did happen to see the eggs I was holding out to her. She reached and took them. I was glad, but my arm was the most glad part of me because it did have a tired feeling from holding the bucket out so long. 559 }
  She didn't even notice those satin eggs on top. She did begin to talk about the many ribbons and the many ruffles the new woman wears that lives up the corduroy road . She talked on and on, and I did wait on for the lard-pail the eggs were in. And I did get fidgety, for she wasn't holding the bucket straight by the middle of its loop as a bucket ought to be held. I had a little fear she would drop that bucket. That would make a dent in it. And I knew what a spanking I would get if I took that pail home with a dent in it. I did stick my linger in my mouth to keep from speaking to her about it. 560 }
  Just when I had feels how that spanking was going to feel, she did take a firm hold on the handle. But she didn't take it in the middle. That did make the bucket to tip. She went on talking. She took a big breath and two of those satin-feel eggs did roll out. They bounced. They broke. Mrs. Limberger kinked her nose quick. She put her new black dress to it. Sadie McKibben too did put her new dress to her nose in a quick way. And my apron so did I put to my nose. Now this I know for there I learned, an egg with a satin feel may feel proper, but inside it is not so, and if it gets a fall, it is only a queer odor that one does have longings to run away from. 561 }
  But Mrs. Limberger made me stay right there and carry water from the pump and scrub all the bad odors off her back porch. I think some of them odors wasn't from the two eggs with satin feels. When I confided my feelings about the matter to Felix Mendelssohn , Mrs. Limberger did tell me to go on scrubbing. She said whatever smells might have been there you couldn't get a whiff of, on account of the multiplications of smells that came from the two eggs. Sadie McKibben did help me to scrub. She did ask Mrs. Limberger not to mention the matter to the mamma . Also she said she was going by that way tomorrow and would bring the four eggs to make up the dozen. 562 }
  When I started home Sadie McKibben did give to me a good-bye kiss on each cheek. She knew how I do long for kisses, and how the mamma hasn't time to give me any. When I walked by Mrs. Limberger I did look the other way. As I passed she gave me a pat, and when she did, Felix Mendelssohn squeaked. When she gave me the pat, it went through my dress onto the back of the head of Felix Mendelssohn in a pocket in my underskirt. And he being a mouse of a musical tendency does object to being patted on the back of the head. He prefers to have pats on his throat. And he won't let anybody give them but me. 563 }
  I went on in a hurry to home. The mamma came a little ways from the door to meet me. Behind her was a switch . I saw both ends sticking out. I did give my skirt a shake so Felix Mendelssohn would get out and away. It would be awful for him to get hurt by a whipping. It might hurt his soul. After the mamma did tend to me as usual, I put some mentholatum on the places where the whip did hit most hard. Then I did go to take eggs to the folks that live hereabout . I went in a hurry. 564 }
  After that there were baby clothes to be washed and wood to be brought in. Then the mamma told me to go find my sunbonnet and not to come back until I did find it. I went again to the altar of Good King Edward I to pray. Then I went to the nursery and the hospital and came again here where I print. Now I do see Elizabeth Barrett Browning at the pasture-bars. And she has got my sunbonnet on. I knew we would meet again at eventide at the pasture-bars, for often we do and often on hot days she wears my sunbonnet until we meet again. It does so help to keep the sun from hurting her beautiful eyes. 565 }

Chapter Day Scene Paragraph
36 61 126 543

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