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The Talking Eggs

THERE was once a woman who had two daughters and their names were Millison and Blanche. Millison was nasty-tempered and cruel, while her younger sister Blanche was sweet and cheerful. The mother's favorite was not sweet Blanche, but the sharp-tongued Millison, probably because the older daughter was the very likeness of her own mean self. The mother made Blanche work hard all day long while she and Millison did nothing but loll about from morning to night, spinning tales of how they were bound to live in the city as grand ladies, surrounded by admirers.

One morning the mother sent Blanche to the well to fetch some water in a bucket. When she arrived at the well, the girl saw an old woman, who said to her, "My little one, I am so terribly thirsty. Do give me some water."

"Yes, auntie, of course," said Blanche. She rinsed her bucket and drew plenty of good fresh water to drink.

"Thank you, child, you are a good girl!" said the old woman.

A few days later, the mother scolded Blanche more horribly than she had ever done before, and beat her badly. In terror, the girl ran away into the woods. She cried, and knew not where to go, because she was afraid to return home. When suddenly, standing in front of her, Blanche recognized the same old woman she had met at the well. "Ah! child, why are you crying?"

"Auntie, my mamma has beaten me, and I am afraid to return home."

"Well, then, come with me," said the old woman. "I will give you dinner and a place to sleep. But you must promise me one thing: You must not laugh at anything you will see."

She took Blanche's hand and they began to walk into the deep wood. Strangely, thorn bushes opened up by themselves before them and closed behind their backs. A little further on, Blanche saw two axes fighting each another all by themselves. She found such goings-on very odd, but she did not laugh or say anything. They walked further and behold!

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