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Three Barrels

The Sugar Barrels

Do you remember the three barrels of sugar in the dark place under the stairs - or were they in the big pantry just off the kitchen?

Well, anyway, there were three, you recollect - two of white and one of brown.

Always the brown sugar - and each Autumn the same colloquy:

"Mr. Van, don't you think we can get along without the brown sugar this year?"

"Now, Mrs. Van, you've got to have a little brown sugar in the house - and it comes cheaper by the barrel."

"Yes, so it does, Mr. Van . . . . . We can use it, I suppose, in something . . . . . And we always have had it, and . . . . . Well, do as you think best."

White sugar was good when you had something to go with it.

But brown sugar stood alone - sticky, heavy, crumbly lumps that held together until a fellow could tip back his head and drop one of the chunks in his mouth.

And after school grandmother could be persuaded to cut a full-size slice of bread (thick) and spread it with butter (thick) and you'd start away with it (quick) - just nibbling at one edge, not really biting - and you'd sneak into the dark place under the stairs (or into the pantry) - and reach deep down into the white sugar barrel - and grab a handful - and sprinkle it over the bread-and-butter - and shake back into the barrel all that didn't stick to the butter - and then do it all over again - and pat it down hard - and then sprinkle just a little bit more on hurriedly, (because grandfather's cane could be heard tapping down the hall) - and then you emerged with dignity, but with no unnecessary commotion - and just faded away into the Outer World so softly, so gently, so contentedly! . . . . .

(Have you tried any bread-and-butter-and-sugar recently? Did it taste the same as it used to? . . .

No? . . . Perhaps you broke it into pieces instead of beginning at one side and eating straight through?

Or maybe you got hold of the cooking butter . . . Or did you try it with baker's bread? . . .

No? . . . Well, why didn't it taste the same?

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