Chapter 10: SUMMERTIME
Chapter 10: SUMMERTIME
It was all so pleasant, and Laura felt so gay and good that no one would ever have thought she could be as naughty as she was that evening.
"He looked around at me, and I guess he saw I didnt have a gun. Anyway, he didnt pay any", more attention to me.
"Its green," said, "because it isnt ripened yet. When its cured and ripened, it wont be a green cheese.”
"There you have it! " said Pa. "She was a mean, tight-fisted woman. If she hadnt skimmed all the milk, a little cream would have run off in the whey, and Old Grimes might have staggered along.
"I stood there watching him, and he put the other paw into a hole in the tree and drew it out all dripping with honey. He licked the honey off his paw and reached in for or more. But by that time I had found me a club. I wanted that honey myself.
Ma was busy, too. Laura and Mary helped her weed the garden, and they helped her feed the calves and the hens. They gathered the eggs, and they helped make cheese.
Every morning she took the new cheese out of the press, and trimmed it smooth. She sewed a cloth tightly around it, and rubbed the cloth all over with fresh butter. Then she put the cheese on a shelf in the pantry.
"You remember," Pa said, "I told you girls you must never strike each other.”
Ma put her wooden cheese hoop on the board, spread a clean, wet cloth all over the inside of it, and filled it heaping full of the chunks of salted curd. She covered this with another clean, wet cloth, and laid on top of it a round board, cut small enough to go inside the cheese hoop. Then she lifted a heavy rock on top of the board.
The new cheese did look like the round moon when came up behind the trees. But it was not green, it was yellow, like the moon.
Mrs. Peterson talked Swedish to them, and they talked English to her, and they understood each other perfectly. She always gave them each a cookie when they left, and they nibbled the cookies very slowly while they walked home.
"That was easy Pa said. "I left the horses back in the woods, where they wouldnt get stung, and then I chopped the tree down and split it open.”
Pa would not kill either of his calves, because they were heifers and would grow into cows. He went to Grandpas and to Uncle Henrys, to talk about the cheese-making, and Uncle Henry said he would kill one of his calves. There would be enough rennet for Aunt Polly and Grandma. So Pa went again to Uncle Henrys, and came back with a piece of the little calfs stomach. It was like a piece of soft, grayish-white leather, all ridged and rough on one side.
Then he took down a strap from the wall, and he whipped Laura with the strap.
The strips of copper across the toes were so glittering bright that Laura wished she were a boy. Little girls didnt wear copper-tohttp://www.99lib.netes.
Laura nibbled away exactly half of hers, and Mary nibbled exactly half of hers, and the other halves they saved for Baby Carrie. Then when they got home, Carrie had two half-cookies, and that was a whole cookie.
For dinner they all had as much of the delicious honey as they could eat, and Pa told them how he found the bee tree.
All the pails and buckets were heaping full of dripping, golden honeycomb. Both tubs were piled full, and so was the wash-boiler.
"I like both kinds best," Aunt Lotty said, smiling. She took Laura and Mary by the hand, one on either side, and they danced along to the door where Ma stood.
Every day she wiped every cheese carefully with a wet cloth, then rubbed it all over with fresh butter once more, and laid it down on its other side. After a great many days, the cheese was ripe, and there was a hard rind all over it.
But Pa said there was lots of honey left for the bees, and there was another large, hollow tree near by, into which they could move. He said it was time they had a clean, new home.
Then Pa looked at Ma and said, "Nobodyd starve to death when you were around, Caroline.”
Then Ma wrapped each cheese in paper and laid it away on the high shelf. There was nothing more to do with it but eat it.
Pa and Ma went back and forth, carrying the two loaded tubs and the wash-boiler and all the buckets and pails into the house. Ma heaped a plate high with the golden pieces, and covered all the rest neatly with cloths.
"Old Grimes is dead, that good old man, We neer shall see him more, He used to wear an old gray coat, All buttoned down before.
When no more whey dripped from the cloth, emptied the curd into a big pan and salted it, turning and mixing it well.
In the summer evenings Pa did not tell stories Dr play the fiddle. Summer days were long, and he was tired after he had worked hard all day in the fields.
Laura liked her own red dress. But Ma pulled her hair dreadfully, and it was brown instead of golden, so that no one noticed it. Everyone noticed and admired Marys.
Then she would cook more dinner than usual, and dinner time would be longer. Pa and Ma and the visitor would sit talking a little while before they went back to work.
"The whole tree was hollow, and filled from top to bottom with honey. The bees must have been storing honey there for years. Some of it was old and dark, but I guess I got enough good, clean honey to last us a long time.”
At last, when it was getting dark, Pa said again, "Come here, Laura." His voice was kind, and when Laura came he took her on his knee and hugged her close. She sat in the crook of his arm, her head against his shoulder and his long brown whiskers partly covering her eyes, and everything was all right again.
Laura was sorry for or the poor be九九藏书网es. She said:
Then she heard Pa say, "Come here, Laura.”
Early next morning he started to walk to Uncle Henrys. But before long he came hurrying back, hitched the horses to the wagon, threw in his ax, the two washtubs, the washboiler and all the pails and wooden buckets there were.
Laura grabbed the biggest chip, and Mary said:
Laura and Mary liked cheese-making. They liked to eat the curd that squeaked in their teeth and they liked to eat the edges pared off the big, round, yellow cheeses to make them smooth, before she sewed them up in cloth.
NOW it was summertime, and people went visiting. Sometimes Uncle Henry, or Uncle George, or Grandpa, came riding out of the Big Woods to see Pa. Ma would come to the door and ask how all the folks were, and she would say:
"I dont know if Ill need em all, Caroline, " he said, "but Id hate to wantem and not haveem.
Pas blue eyes shone down at her, and he said, "Well, Laura, my hair is brown.”
Once Aunt Lotty came to spend the day. That morning Laura had to stand still a long time while unwound her hair from the cloth strings and combed it into long curls. Mary was all ready, sitting primly on a chair, with her golden curls shining and her china-blue dress fresh and crisp.
Somebody must kill a calf, for cheese could not be made without rennet, and rennet is the lining of a young calfs stomach. The calf must be very young, so that it had never eaten anything but milk.
Laura and Clarence ran and shouted and climbed trees, while Mary and Eva walked nicely together and talked. and Mrs. Huleatt visited and looked at a Godeys Ladys Book which Mrs. Huleatt had brought, and Pa and Mr. Huleatt looked at the horses and the crops and smoked their pipes.
All day long the round board settled slowly under the weight of the rock, and whey pressed out and ran down the grooves of the board into the pail. Next morning, Ma would take out the round, pale yellow cheese, as large as a milk pan. Then she made more curd, and filled the cheese hoop again.
They didnt know what to do. So each saved half, and gave it to Baby Carrie. But they always felt that somehow that wasnt quite fair.
Laura sat on a chair in the corner and sobbed. When she stopped sobbing, she sulked. The only thing in the whole world to be glad about was that Mary had to fill the chip pan all by herself.
When the grass was tall and thick in the Woods and the cows were giving plenty of milk, that was the time to make cheese.
"Old Grimeses wife made skim-milk cheese, Old Grimes, he drank the whey, There came an east wind from the -west, And blew Old Grimes away.”
Laura began, "But Mary said-”
She went slowly, dragging her feet. Pa was sitting just inside the door. He had seen her slap Mary.
Clarence was red-headed and freckled, and always laughing. His cwww•99lib•netlothes were pretty, too. He wore a blue suit buttoned all the way up the front with bright gilt buttons, and trimmed with braid, and he had copper-toed shoes.
Well , no," Ma said. "No, Charles, not if you were there to provide for us.
Ma laughed at them for eating green cheese.
Pa was pleased. It was all so pleasant, the doors and windows wide open to the summer evening, the dishes making little cheerful sounds together as washed them and Mary and Laura wiped, and Pa putting away the fiddle and smiling and whistling softly to himself.
"There! " Ma said at last. "Your hair is curled beautifully, and Lotty is coming.
"But she skimmed off every bit of cream, and poor Old Grimes got so thin the wind blew him away. Plumb starved to death.”
When Mr. and Mrs. Huleatt came, they brought Eva and Clarence with them. Eva was a pretty girl, with dark eyes and black curls. She played carefully and kept her dress clean and smooth. Mary liked that, but Laura liked better to play with Clarence.
"That makes no difference," said Pa. "It is what I say that you must mind.”
Laura and Mary were always there, helping all they could. They loved to eat bits of the curd when Ma was salting it. It squeaked in their teeth.
Ma came out to the wagon, disappointed. She said:
"I think people say that, because it looks like a green cheese," she said. "But appearances are deceiving." Then while she wiped all the green cheeses and rubbed them with butter, she told them about the dead, cold moon that is like a little world on which nothing grows.
Laura begged him to tell her about Old Grimes. So, though Pa was tired, he took his fiddle out of its box and played and sang for Laura:
Sometimes Ma let Laura and Mary go across the road and down the hill, to see Mrs. Peterson. The Petersons had Just moved in. Their house was new, and always very neat, because Mrs. Peterson had no little girls to muss it up. She was a Swede, and she let Laura and Mary look at the pretty things she had brought from Sweden-laces, and colored embroideries, and china.
"Pas found a bee tree," Ma said. "Maybe hell bring us some honey.”
"Didnt the bees sting you?”
A bit of the rennet, tied in a cloth, was soaking in warm water.
Lauras throat swelled tight, and she could not speak. She knew golden hair was prettier than brown. She couldnt speak, so she reached out quickly and slapped Marys face.
It was noon before Pa came driving home. Laura had been watching for him, and she ran out to the wagon as soon as it stopped by the barnyard. But she could not see into it.
When the milk was heated enough, Ma squeezed every drop of water from the rennet in the cloth, and she poured the water into the milk. She stirred it well and left it in a warm place by the stov九九藏书e. In a little while it thickened into a smooth, quivery mass.
The sunshine came streaming through the windows into the house, and everything was so neat and pretty. The table was covered with a red cloth, and the cookstove was polished shining black. Through the bedroom door Laura could see the trundle bed in its place under the big bed. The pantry door stood wide open, giving the sight and smell of goodies on the shelves, and Black Susan came purring down the stairs from the attic, where she had been taking a nap.
Laura was afraid that Pa must kill one of the little calves in the barn. They were so sweet. One was fawn-colored and one was red, and their hair was so soft and their large eyes so wondering. . Lauras heart beat fast when Ma talked to Pa about making cheese.
After awhile he said, "Im going over to Henrys tomorrow morning, Caroline, to borrow his grubbing hoe. Those sprouts are getting waist-high around the stumps in the wheat-field. A man just has to keep everlasting at it, or the woodsll take back the place.”
"The moon is made of green cheese, some people say," she told them.
"He was standing at the foot of a big tree, and bees were buzzing all around him. They couldnt sting through his thick fur, and he kept brushing them away from his head with one paw.
"No, said Pa. "Bees never sting me.
Under the cherry tree outside the back door Pa had put up the board to press the cheese on. He had cut two grooves the length of the board, and laid the board on blocks, one end a little higher than the other. Under the lower end stood an empty pail.
They would take the old honey he had left in the old tree, make it into fresh, new honey, and store it in their new house. They would save every drop of the spilled honey and put it away, and they would have plenty of honey again, long before winter came.
Aunt Lotty had gone, and Laura and Mary were tired and cross. They were at the woodpile, gathering a pan of chips to kindle the fire in the morning. They always hated to pick up chips, but every day they had to do it. Tonight they hated it more than ever.
"Well, Charles, even a pail of honey is something." Then she looked into the wagon and threw up her hands. Pa laughed.
"Is the moon really made of green cheese?" Laura asked, and laughed.
Pa called, "Caroline, if youll come take this pail of honey, Ill go unhitch.”
"I dont care. Aunt Lotty likes my hair best, anyway. Golden hair is lots prettier than brown.”
"Well, I took a short cut through the woods, and I nearly ran into a big bear. I came around a clump of underbrush, and there he was, not as far from me as across this room.
Laura and Mary ran out of the door and down the path, for Aunt Lotty was already at the gate. Aunt Lotty was a big girl, much taller than Mary99lib•net. Her dress was a beautiful pink and she was swinging a pink sunbonnet by one string.
"I didnt take my gun," he said, "because I wasnt hunting, and now its summer there wasnt much danger of meeting trouble. Panthers and bears are so fat, this time of year, that theyre lazy and good-natured.
So I made a great racket, banging the club against a tree and yelling. The bear was so fat and so full of honey that he just dropped on all fours and waddled off among the trees. I chased him some distance and got him going fast, away from the bee tree, and then I came back for the wagon.”
With a long knife cut this mass into little squares, and let it stand while the curd separated from the whey. Then she poured it all into a cloth and let the thin, yellowish whey drain out.
She had not thought of that. Pas hair was brown, and his whiskers were brown, and she thought brown was a lovely color. But she was glad that Mary had had to gather all the chips.
When the cows were milked at night, set the milk away in pans. In the morning she skimmed off the cream to make into butter later. Then when the mornings milk had cooled, she mixed it with the skimmed milk and set it all on the stove to heat.
"They worked so hard, and now they wont have any honey.”
The first day made cheese, Laura tasted the whey. She tasted it without saying anything to , and when turned around and saw her face, laughed. That night while she was washing the supper dishes and Mary and Laura were wiping them, told Pa that Laura had tasted the whey and didnt like it.
"You wouldnt starve to death on Mas whey, like old Grimes did on his wifes," Pa said.
"Which do you like best, Aunt Lotty," Mary asked, "brown curls, or golden curls? " Ma had told them to ask that, and Mary was a very good little girl who always did exactly as she was told. Laura waited to hear what Aunt Lotty would say, and she felt miserable.
She told Pa all about it, and she asked him, "You dont like golden hair better than brown, do you?”
Laura asked him how he got the honey away from the bees.
Run meet her, both of you, and ask her which she likes best, brown curls or golden curls.”
"Charles is in the clearing.”
Sometimes a neighbor sent word that the family was coming to spend the day. Then Ma did extra cleaning and cooking, and opened the package of store sugar. And on the day set, a wagon would come driving up to the gate in the morning and there would be strange children to play ay with.
"Oh, what is it: What is it?" Laura asked, jumping up and down with excitement.
This wasnt right. All they wanted to do was to divide the cookies fairly with Carrie. Still, if Mary saved half her cookie, while Laura ate the whole of hers, or if Laura saved half, and Mary ate her whole cookies, that wouldnt either.