On Sundays Mary and Laura must not run or shout or be noisy when they played. Mary could not sew the quilt she was making. Laura could not knit on the tiny mittens she was making for Baby Carrie. They might look quietly at their paper dolls, but they must not make anything new for them. They were not allowed to sew on doll clothes, not even with pins. No work was allowed on Sunday. Sunday was God's day. Their family were puritanical Christians.
They must sit quietly and listen while her mother read Bible stories to them, or stories about lions and tigers and white bears from her father's big green book, The Wonders of the Animal World. They might look at pictures and they might hold their rag dolls nicely and talk to them. But there was nothing else they could do.
Laura liked best to look at the pictures in the big Bible, with its paper covers. Best of all was the picture of Adam naming the animals.
Adam sat on a rock. All the animals and birds, big and little, were gathered around him anxiously waiting to be told what kind of animals they were. Adam looked so comfortable. He did not have to be careful to keep his clothes clean, because he had no clothes on. He only wore an animal skin around his middle.1
“Did Adam have good clothes to wear on Sundays?” Laura asked her mother.
“No,” Her mother said. “Poor Adam, all he had to wear was animal skins.”
Laura did not feel sorry for Adam. She wished she had nothing to wear but animal skins.
One Sunday after supper she could not bear it any longer. She began to play with their dog Jack; in a few minutes she was running and shouting. Her father told her to sit in her chair and be quiet, but when Laura sat down she began to cry and kick the chair with her heels.
“I hate Sunday!” she said.
Her father put down his book. “Laura,” he said sternly, “come here.”
She moved very slowly as she went, because she knew she deserved a spanking. But when she reached her father, he looked at her sorrowfully for a moment. Then took her on his knee and cuddled her against him. He held out his other arm to Mary and said:
“I'm going to tell you a story about when your grandfather was a boy.”
Next week we will have part one of the story of Grandfather's Sledge and the Pig.
1. Many well-read Christians would point out that there was no death before Adam2 left the Garden of Eden. So Adam would have had no access to animal skins and the Bible itself says that Adam was not ashamed of his nakedness before eating the forbidden fruit and then wore leaves, so logically he would have been naked at this point in the Biblical story. However many people would have been uncomfortable with such nudity in an illustrated Bible, so the picture Laura describes is modest.
2. OK, even more technically adam means man, as in mankind, and was not originally a proper name. To avoid writing a book on biblical vocabulary, I will avoid more religious explanations.
(The original book is in the public domain under Hong Kong copyright law. This simplified copy is under my new copyright.)