Then the little house-wife takes hold of the fruit can, smilingly, and says she will show the girl how to take off the top. She sits down on the wood-box, takes the glass jar between her knees, runs out her tongue, and twists. But the cover does not twist. The cover seems to feel as though it was placed there to keep guard over that fruit, and it is as immovable as the Egyptian pyramids. The little lady works until she is red in the face, and until her crimps all come down, and then she sets it away to wait for the old man to come home. He comes in tired, disgusted, and mad as a hornet, and when the case is laid before him, he goes out in the kitchen, pulls off his coat and takes the jar.
He remarks that he is at a loss to know what women are made for, anyway. He says they are all right to sit around and do crochet work, but when strategy, brain, and muscle are required, then they can’t get along without a man. He tries to unscrew the cover, and his thumb slips off and knocks the skin off the knuckle. He breathes a silent prayer and calls for the kerosene can, and pours a little oil into the crevice, and lets it soak, and then he tries again, and swears audibly.
[Illustration: The old man tries his hand.]
Then he calls for a tack-hammer, and taps the cover gently on one side, the glass jar breaks, and the juice runs down his trousers leg, on the table and all around. Enough of the fruit is saved for supper, and the old man goes up the back stairs to tie his thumb up in a rag, and change his pants.
All come to the table smiling, as though nothing had happened, and the house-wife don’t allow any of the family to have any sauce for fear they will get broken glass into their stomachs, but the “company” is provided for generously, and all would be well only for a remark of a little boy who, when asked if he will have some more of the sauce, says he “don’t want no strawberries pickled in kerosene.” The smiling little hostess steals a smell of the sauce while they are discussing politics, and believes she does smell kerosene, and she looks at the old man kind of spunky, when he glances at the rag on his thumb and asks if there is no liniment in the house.
The preserving of fruit in glass jars is broken up in that house, and four dozen jars are down cellar to lay upon the lady’s mind till she gets a chance to send some of them to a charity picnic. The glass jar fruit can business is played out unless a scheme can be invented to get the top off.