The Rude Bag of Clothespins

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Mr. Popover lay on the floor under Aunt Amelia’s dining-room table. Elaine dropped it there five minutes ago.
She carried the entire Popover family into the dining room to play ice skating on the slippery, polished table. But maybe because it was such a warm day the Popovers didn’t feel like skating. They couldn’t or wouldn’t stand on their feet, and as for taking their hand and gliding gracefully across the ice, Elaine simply couldn’t get them to understand how it was done.
“Maybe we’d better play it as pool,” Elaine finally said.
She threw off Mr. Popover’s warm pink flannel coat, but before she could prepare the rest of the family for a dip in the surf, Elaine heard Aunt Amelia calling for her.
“Eileen, where are you?” My aunt is called Amelia. ‘Come upstairs.’ I want you.’
Elaine hastily gathered the popovers into her skirt and ran with them into the playroom. She knew Caroline would not be pleased if she found her elegant dining room a mess. But Eileen was in such a hurry that she didn’t see Mr. Popover slipping out of her dress and rolling under the table, nor did she miss him when she tucked the Popovers into their little red house.
At first Mr. Popover didn’t mind lying on the floor. It seemed so cool and relaxing to him after the hassle he went through trying to learn to skate. He was happy to get rid of the hot pink coat, too. But for the time being Mr. Popover felt lonely. Why didn’t Elaine come back and pick him up? He did his best to skate and please Elaine. It was time for Elaine to do something to please him.
A fly came gliding softly across the carpet toward Mr. Popover. Here, at least, there was someone he could talk to, and Mr. Popover had just opened his mouth to speak of the heat when he entered the room from the kitchen where Caroline was swarming.
I lowered the dining room shades to keep out the sun and the idiot fly instead
Sitting still and unseen under the table, he made his way to the windowsill under Caroline’s eyes.
“Ugh, fly!” said Caroline.
And, flapping her apron, she led him away from the window, under the table, and out through the kitchen door.
While chasing little Buzz-Fuzz out of the room, Caroline spied Mr. Popover lying on the floor under the table leg.
“How on earth did a clothespin get into my dining room?” said Caroline.
She had no idea this was Mr. Popover. She didn’t notice his little face – his black eyes, the point of his nose, his tiny mouth. And since Mr. Popover had absolutely nothing to wear in the water but his dark brown skin, he looked at Caroline as an ordinary regular clothespin and nothing more.
So Caroline picked up Mr. Popover and carried him to the sink, and there she dropped him into the blue-and-white-striped bag, which hung on the wall, where Caroline kept her clothespins.
“my dear!” said Mr. Popover, dropping head first into the bag. “Where am I going and what happened to me?”
The other clothespins in the bag didn’t say a word. They turned away from Mr. Popover and stared him up and down.
Mr. Popover stared eagerly, hoping to see a familiar clothespin, one he had carried clothes with him as a boy. But though he looked from one person to another, again and again, he did not see a single friendly face. They all seemed to him very young clothespins, light, clean and young, and not as old, dark and tall as he was. And it was. The clothespins that held clothes on the rope with Mr. Popover have long been worn out and discarded. While, on the other hand, the new clothespin in the blue and white striped bag had no idea who Mr. Popover was and thought he was a really old and strange looking clothespin.
For a long time the clothespin simply looked at Mr. Popover and Mr. Popover looked at her.
In the end it was Mr. Popover who spoke first.
“Do you live here in this suitcase?” he asked.
‘certainly. Where else do we live? The answer was made by clothespins.
Mr. Popover thought this rather presumptuous. He hoped Velvetina and Baby Popover wouldn’t talk to strangers like that.
But he answered politely.
I didn’t know if you lived here or not. When you were at work and carried clothes on a rope you lived in a basket, a basket of grapes. I’ve never been in a bag like this before.
“How do you like it, you’re here now?” Clothespin asked with a sneering smile.
“Very indeed,” answered Mr. Popover sternly.
He didn’t care at all about the manners of those young clothespins. He meant to be extra special with Velvetina and Baby Popover when he got home again.
‘where do you live now?’ He asked for another clothespin, tilting his head to one side in a bold manner as he spoke.
“At a house,” answered Mr. Popover, exasperated by his treatment; ‘A red house too. It has four rooms, and the windows have curtains, and carpets on the floor. There are chairs and tables and beds and couches in it. It is the most beautiful house for miles around. So there it is!’
Mr. Popover stared boldly at the clothespins as they stared back at him.
“If they can’t be polite to me, I won’t be polite to them,” thought Mr. Popover.
Now of course that was not the proper spirit for Mr. Popover. He had to remember how amazing those clothespins were when they made him stumble unexpectedly at the top of their house. Mr. Popover, on the other hand, tried to be agreeable, and it was really the clothespins fault that he felt he had to talk to them.
But clothespins are now more unkempt than ever for the Popover. They started whispering to each other. They spoke so softly that Mr. Popover could not hear what they said. Then they all spoke at once in a very loud voice, and were shouting into poor Mr. Popover’s ear.
“Oh, you live in a house, don’t you? Clothespins cried together.”And a red house too.
Well, you might want to go back to your red house again. It’s not good enough for you here.
And the words were scarcely out of their mouths when they began to push Mr. Popover.
They pushed it down, down, down toward the bottom of the bag. swarmed over him. They stepped on his toes.
“Someone’s going to break my leg,” thought Mr. Popover.
But there’s no point in saying that, because clothespins wouldn’t have bothered if they did.
They pushed and shoved Mr. Popover down the bag and then began to push him into a corner.
Once around the corner, Mr. Popover saw what was going on around him. In the corner there was a hole and into the hole they started pushing Mr. Popover.
You might imagine Mr. Popover didn’t want to stay in the bag. He was writhing and writhing as hard as he could through the hole, and what with Mr. Popover writhing and pushing the clothespins all in. It wasn’t long before Mr. Popover fell with a tap down on the laundry floor under a blue and white sack.
He was so glad to be out of the bag that he lay still for a moment without even thinking. He didn’t bother to answer when he heard the clothespin calling to him from the bag above his head, and closed his eyes tightly when the clothespin stuck his face out of the hole and laughed to see him lying there below.
But over time he began to wonder how he would ever get home again.
“I’m afraid,” said he to himself, “I have broken my leg, too, and if that be so, it will never again be straight and beautiful.”
He tried to roll toward the laundry door. But his leg was sore and he felt stiffness and pain, so he had to lie down. And there he lay for hours and hours and hours. Or so poor Mr. Popover seemed.
Fall asleep and wake up, fall asleep and wake up again.
He thought, “Suppose no one comes to help me at home.”
The house has grown. Everyone was in bed. There were no footsteps to be heard.
Never before had Mr. Popover felt so lonely and sad. Think of his large gilded bed. Think of Mrs. Popover, Velvetina, and Baby Lo-Lo, watching him and wondering why he didn’t come home.
Then, in the quiet of the wash, Mr. Popover, weary, aching, and homesick, heard a gentle scratch, scratch, scratch in the wall.
‘Peanuts!’ thought Mr. Popover. “It’s a peanut, come save me.”
He raised his head from the cold hard ground to look, sure enough, out of a crack a peanut slipped out, his bright little eyes peering hither and thither in order to see his old friend.
‘Peanuts! I’m here! Save me!’ Mr. Popover called.
A second later Mr. Popover’s peanut was slowly rolling towards the house.
“Go gently,” begged Mr. Popover. “I think my leg is broken.”
So Peanut rolled it gently across the laundry floor, through the kitchen, dining room, and library, even down the stairs.
“I have to carry you over the railing,” said Peanut.
Mr. Popover gritted his teeth and bore it gamely as Peanut carried him by the railing up the stairs.
It was only a short way to the playroom, and there Mrs. Popover, Velvetina, and Baby Lo-Lo were watching anxiously from the window and hoping with all their little hearts that Peanut would soon find Mr. Popover and bring him home.
How happy they were to see him! How Velvetina and Baby Loo-Loo clapped their hands for joy!
Mrs. Popover helped Mr. Popover go straight to bed. She would not allow him to speak until he discovered that his leg had not been broken and until he had been thoroughly rubbed from top to toe to remove the pain from his bones.
“We can all thank Peanut for keeping you safe in the house,” said Mrs. Popover, shaking the bottle.
of salve to and fro. He came to call and found you gone, and he hasn’t rested a moment since. He ran from one end of the house to the other, looking for you. Oh, what a night I had! I will never forget it! ”
“Neither do I,” said Mr. Popover.
Then he sat up in bed and told everything that had happened to him that day.
“My poor darling,” said Mrs. Popover tenderly, “you need a good rest. We shall all go down now and let you sleep.”
But when they tiptoed out of the room, Mr. Popover invited Peanuts to his bed.
“Thank you again, my friend, for saving me from the insolent clothespin,” said Mr. Popover sleepily. “But let me tell you, clothespins didn’t behave like that when I was a boy.”
And then Mr. Popover, weary of his exciting day, fell asleep.

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