You know we cant stir it, so what is the use of talking about it? You proposed getting the plums, now lets see you do it, answered Nelly, rather crossly, for she had bitten the green plum, and it puckered her mouth.
Wait a minute, and you will see me do it, cried I, as a new thought came into my naughty head.
What are you taking your shoes and socks off for? You cant climb the tree, Fan.
Dont ask questions, but be ready to pick em up when they fall, Miss Lazybones.
With this mysterious speech, I pattered into the house bare-footed and full of my plan. Upstairs I went to a window opening on the shed roof. Out I got, and creeping carefully along till I came near the tree, I stood up, and suddenly crowed like the little rooster. Nelly looked up, and stared, and laughed, and clapped her hands when she saw what I was going to do.
Im afraid youll slip and get hurt.
Dont care if I do; Ill have those plums if I break my neck doing it, and half sliding, half walking, I went down the sloping roof, till the boughs of the tree were within my reach.
Hurrah! cried Nelly, dancing down below, as my first shake sent a dozen plums rattling round her.
Hurrah! cried I, letting go one branch and trying to reach another. But as I did so my foot slipped, I tried to catch something to hold by, but found nothing, and with a cry, down I fell, like a very big plum, on the grass below.
Fortunately the shed was low, the grass was thick, and the tree broke my fall, but I got a bad bump and a terrible shaking. Nelly thought I was killed, and began to cry with her mouth full. But I picked myself up in a minute, for I was used to such tumbles, and didnt mind the pain half as much as the loss of the plums.
Hush! Debby will hear and spoil all the fun. I said Id get em, and I have. See what lots have come down with me.
So there had, for my fall shook the tree almost as much as it did me, and the green and purple fruit lay all about us.
By the time the bump on my forehead had swelled as big as a nut, our aprons were half full, and we sat down to enjoy ourselves. But we didnt. Oh dear, no! for many of the plums were not ripe, some were hurt by the birds, some crushed in falling, and many as hard as stones. Nelly got stung by a wasp, my head began to ache, and we sat looking at one another rather dismally, when Nelly had a bright idea.
Lets cook em, then theyll be good, and we can put some away in our little pails for to-morrow.
That will be splendid! Theres a fire in the kitchen. Debby always leaves the kettle on, and we can use her saucepan, and I know where the sugar is, and well have a grand time.
In we went, and fell to work very quietly. It was a large, open fire-place, with the coals nicely covered up, and the big kettle simmering on the hook. We raked open the fire, put on the saucepan, and in it the best of our plums, with water enough to spoil them. But we didnt know that, and felt very important as we sat waiting for it to boil, each armed with a big spoon, while the sugar box stood between us ready to be used.
How slow they were, to be sure! I never knew such obstinate things, for they wouldnt soften, though they danced about in the boiling water, and bobbed against the cover as if they were doing their best.
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