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Jack and Jill

16. Up at Merry's
"Now fly round, child, and get your sweeping done up smart and early."
"Yes, mother."
"I shall want you to help me about the baking, by and by."
"Yes, mother."
"Roxy is cleaning the cellar-closets, so you'll have to get the vegetables ready for
dinner. Father wants a boiled dish, and I shall be so busy I can't see to it."
"Yes, mother."
A cheerful voice gave the three answers, but it cost Merry an effort to keep it so, for she
had certain little plans of her own which made the work before her unusually distasteful.
Saturday always was a trying day, for, though she liked to see rooms in order, she
hated to sweep, as no speck escaped Mrs. Grant's eye, and only the good old-
fashioned broom, wielded by a pair of strong arms, was allowed. Baking was another
trial: she loved good bread and delicate pastry, but did not enjoy burning her face over a
hot stove, daubing her hands with dough, or spending hours rolling out cookies for the
boys; while a "boiled dinner" was her especial horror, as it was not elegant, and the
washing of vegetables was a job she always shirked when she could.
However, having made up her mind to do her work without complaint, she ran upstairs
to put on her dust-cap, trying to look as if sweeping was the joy of her life.
"It is such a lovely day, I did want to rake my garden, and have a walk with Molly, and
finish my book so I can get another," she said with a sigh, as she leaned out of the open
window for a breath of the unusually mild air.
Down in the ten-acre lot the boys were carting and spreading loam; out in the barn her
father was getting his plows ready; over the hill rose the smoke of the distant factory,
and the river that turned the wheels was gliding through the meadows, where soon the
blackbirds would be singing. Old Bess pawed the ground, eager to be off; the gray hens
were scratching busily all about the yard; even the green things in the garden were
pushing through the brown earth, softened by April rains, and there was a shimmer of
sunshine over the wide landscape that made every familiar object beautiful with hints of
spring, and the activity it brings.
Something made the old nursery hymn come into Merry's head, and humming to
herself,
 
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