That night, though it was the middle of the week, their mother bathed Laura and Mary all over. Also she curled their hair. She divided their long hair into thin parts, combed each part with a wet comb and wound it tightly on a bit of rag. A rag is a small piece of old cloth. There were knobby little bumps all over their heads, whichever way they turned on their pillows. In the morning their hair would be curly.
They were so excited that they did not go to sleep at once. Their mother was not sitting with her mending basket as usual. Mending is fixing clothes. She was busy getting everything ready for a quick breakfast and laying out the best clothes. She laid out stockings (big socks), petticoats, dresses, their father's good shirt and her own dark brown patterned calico (type of cloth) dress with the little purple flowers on it. (A petticoat is a small dress worn under a dress.)
The days were longer now. In the morning their mother blew out the lamp before they had finished breakfast. It was a beautiful, clear spring morning.
Their mother hurried Laura and Mary with their breakfast and she washed the dishes quickly. They put on their stockings and shoes while she made the beds. Then she helped them put on their best dresses - Mary's china-blue coloured calico patterned dress and Laura's dark red calico patterned dress. Mary buttoned Laura up the back and then their mother buttoned Mary.
Her mother took the rags off their hair and combed it into long, round curls that hung down over their shoulders. She combed so fast that the snarls hurt dreadfully (very horribly badly). Mary's hair was beautifully golden, but Laura's was only a dirt-coloured brown.
When their curls were done, their mother tied their sunbonnets (hats) under their chins. She fastened her collar with the gold pin and she was putting on her hat when their father drove up to the gate.
Note: Many western people believe that yellow hair, like Mary's, is prettier. So much so that, they call it golden or blonde (blonde is female and blond is male) instead of yellow. Not everyone agrees. Many other people think that Laura's brown hair and Chinese black hair is more beautiful than piss-coloured yellow hair. Be happy with your own hair.