tiistai 12. tammikuuta 2016

Chapter Eleven: The Honeysticks

“Oh, please, Aunty!” begged Ethel, ”why don’t you gimme one?”

“Because it’s supper time soon. And, besides, eating sweets in the evening makes you fat.” Aunt Maggie put the meat into the oven. ”Now, get out of my way. Take the plates and do the table. Where are the others?”

“Louisa’s reading and Myra and Tom are playing on the garret. Please, Aunty!”

“Not a single honeystick tonight”, said Maggie very resolutely. ”I took them over from the shop only for special occasions, not for eating like bread and butter! If you won’t help me, it’s better to make yourself out of here. Hurry up!”

Ethel left sadly. She had felt like a honeystick so desperately that she could not resist the feeling. How cruel Aunty was! Her stomach cried for a sweet. With a sigh she went to the veranda and sat on the steps to wait for her mother. Laura had been the whole day at the backroom of the shop, because there was  the best sewing machine in village, and sometimes she could borrow it and make the seams very quickly. She would come soon, because it was supper time already.

The summer was turning to July. Evening was one of the Paradise-nights God sometimes lets us see; sky was pale blue, striped with white pieces of cloud, shy wind caressed Ethel’s curlies and slipped over the green, good-smelling grass, and the Wood whispered sweet, old secrets by itself. Ethel always felt it was a very wise wood; it knew something no human could ever know, something about the old times, the knights and maidens, love and hate, and the Morning of Life.

She gave a little joyful sigh instead. A honeystick or no honeystick, something in this evening made her very happy.

Laura was coming up the way. She walked very slowly; her back was aching after sitting the whole day by the machine, her fingers were full of needlesticks, and her eyes were very tired. But when Ethel came running through the gate with her pale brown hair flashing in the setting sun and a tender, childlish smile on her soft lips, mother felt no work in the world would make her exhausted as long as she had girls like that.

“Oh, Mommy, how I’ve been waiting! Come in, supper’s ready pretty soon, and before it I can get you a wet handkerchief if your head’s aching.” Ethel put her hand into mother’s. “I’ve tried to be good the all day. Tom made a wooden ship, and we all were looking when he put it into water. It was so fancy one, all the boys of village were looking at it, too, and Geordie was so proud because Tom’s his best friend. Isn’t it curious they’re such good chums nowadays, though they fought once! But Aunty says all friends fight sometimes, or if not, at last they quarrel. Is that true?”

“I guess it is, dear wee thing.” Laura caressed girl s hair. “I’m glad to hear you’ve had a nice day. And I heard something nice in the shop, too.”


“About you, dearie. Mrs Macguaire came in — she didn’t know I was in the backroom — and I heard her saying to Mrs Cameron, ‘That little Ethel of Five Cherry Trees is a wonderful one. I looked at her yesterday in the prayer-meeting, and there she sat, between Laura and Louisa, with clasped hands and serious eyes, like the little angels in the missionary books. And a bonnie one she is, too!’ That is what she said.”

Ethel blushed for delight.

“Oh, did she, Mommy? I’m so glad! I’ve often thought if I’m pretty — Louisa is, she’s got such a thick hair, and Myra,’cause there’s no prettier hair colour than auburn — but my hair is just highway-coloured and I’ve got no dimples at all. Oh, did she say, ‘a bonnie one’?”

“As true as I’m standing here”, mother assured solemnly. ”Hello, Maggie!”

“Come in, you two, supper’s at the table. Did you have a hard day, Laura? Ethel, stop bubbling and call for Louisa and Myra and Tom. And don’t forget to wash your hands!” Maggie put her hand on Laura’s armpit and walked in with her.

Next day little Amy MacGregor rushed over to Five Cherry Trees. There was a phone-call at the shop for Miss MacDonald!

Maggie hurried down to the village. It was one of her old classmates, who was married and lived in Glennari with her family. She now asked if Maggie could come for a visit and take some of her nieces along. Maggie promised to come, because Laura had a day off, and decided to have Louisa with her.

So they left with the carriage. The last glimpse of it had hardly disappeared behind the roadbend, when it was Kitty Brown’s turn to come up the way. Her mother needed her dress repaired, and because it was her best one, made of creamy silk, she did not dare to do the repairs herself but asked Laura. And because she needed the dress absolutely tomorrow, she asked Laura to come at once.

“You must be good here alone”, said Laura when she took her sewing basket. “Don’t touch the oven, there’s cold meat and tomatoes in the cupboard, you can eat them if you’re hungry. Tom, look after the girls. And here”, she took a little box from the uppest shelf in kitchen, “you may take one honeystick for each, because I must leave you though I promised to stay at home. Good bye!”

“Bye!” The children waved on the veranda till Laura could not see them anymore. Then Myra took a Sunday school paper she had got last Sunday for good knowledge in the Psalms and hopped over the yard to the Wood. A sweet and a Sunday school paper were the best mix!

“What shall we do?” asked Ethel.

“I dunno what you’re goin’ to do, but I’ll take my ship and go to the pond. Are you coming along?”

“I don’t think so.” Ethel knew the other boys were coming, too, and she was a little shy with them. “I’ll stay at home.”

“All right. But behave yourself, because I should take care of you!”

Ethel laughed. When Tom had disappeared, she made dishes, tidied her own room and the dollhouse father had made for her, and made some needlings. But she felt quite lonely. Of course, she could have gone down to the village to see Mommy and play with the Brown twins, but she did not feel like that anyway. So she stepped downstairs and went to the kitchen.

The box with the honeysticks was still on the table.

Ethel had already eaten her stick, but she did want more.

“Mommy didn’t say we mustn’t eat them”, she thought. ”Aunty forbad, but...” She took a stick and put its top to her mouth. What a taste! She sat by the table and ate the whole honeystick, then another, another... until the box was empty. She had eaten five sweet, sugary, thick honeystick in half an hour.

Ethel felt rather guilty. But maybe one reason for that was that her stomach was not quite itself. It mourned and made her feel sick.

She stood up, but the sick feeling got even worse.

“l must go to bed”, she thought. “If I can go to bed, I soon feel better.”

She staggered through the dining-room and the hall, almost crowled up the stairs, and, at last, had the divine feeling to lie down on her soft bed.

“Five honeysticks — oh! — cannot make me ill”, she thought.”I’ve eaten dozens of ‘em and no one ever made me — oh! — ill! Though”, she admitted”, I’ve never eaten five ones in that short time. Oh!”

It was a long, long afternoon for the little Ethel. When Tom came home at the dinner-time, he took some meat and tomatoes from the cupboard and ate them quickly — they were going to arrance a race with the other boys — and did not notice the empty box. But when Myra had read her paper and ran in, she missed Ethel.

“Maybe she’s in the village with the girls”, she thought then, put a piece of meat on a piece of bread and went to her room — though it was forbidden to take any food upstairs.

Behind Ethel’s door she suddenly heard her tired moan and opened the door.

“Good grief, Ettie, what you’ve done!”

Poor Ethel still lay on the bed at the position she had once fallen to. She had thrown up — the smell was awful and Myra did not feel hungry for a while.

“I — ate — all the honeysticks”, the guilty stammered.”If I’m goin’ to die — oooh! — I hope God will forgive me. I’m sure He will — ooooh — because I’ve been praying the whole afternoon, but — oooooh!”

“You’ve done what? Eaten the honeysticks? Well, isn’t that nice! And ruined the carpet, too. Now, get up and go to the bathroom. Didn’t you understand to go there in the first place!” Myra rolled the carpet and swinged it down the window to be washed. ”Hurry up!”

She was so much like Aunt Maggie that Ethel obeyed with pale face and tears in the eyes.

“You’re not goin’ to die”, Myra informed while helping her sister to get her dress off. ”But anybody gets sick of eating that many honeysticks. Ugh! Now, wash yourself, I’m going to try if I could make something of your clothes. And I’ll give you some castor oil, too.”

“No! Oh, no, dear Myra!”

“Castor oil is just what you need. Aunty always gives it to us when we have ache in stomach.” Myra went down and soon came back with a bottle. “This will make good to you. And keep you off sweets!”

It was a hard lesson to learn. But when Tom, Laura, Maggie, and Louisa all came back in turn, Ethel was almost well, and with tears she swore she would never, ever eat any honeysticks, or at least not in a couple of weeks. And she did not.

“Well, there’s a bit of nurse in you”, Aunt Maggie told Myra that night. ”I couldn’t have done it better, if you ask me!”

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