Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ashley Sterne Boiling an Egg

From the Huon Times (Franklin, Tasmania)  November 5, 1920

"Mrs. Danks," I said to my house keeper one morning, "the eggs are hard boiled again. Look at them. Smack 'em on the head with the spoon. Why, they're as hard as — Chinese."

"Well, sir," said Mrs. Danks, "I  can't understand how that can be.  I did 'em to 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing,' and that always boils 'em light. The herald angels have never let me down before, sir."

"Quite sure you didn't go through 'Paradise Lost' or 'The Swiss Family Robinson' by mistake?" I asked.  'There must be something wrong with the hen— they've been eating cement, perhaps., Do you know the name and address of the depraved bird?"

"The eggs came as usual from my sister, sir," said 'Mrs. Danks, "and I can guarantee there's nothing wrong with her hens. They're— they're — "

"Sans peur et sans reproche, of course?"

"No, sir; some of them's Plymouth Rocks and some Dorkings. This egg would be a Plymouth Rock,'' she remarked, pointing to the more stubborn of the two.

"Yes," I agreed. "A bit of the original old Plymouth Rock that the Pilgrim Fathers stood on."

"I'm sure I'm very sorry," murmured Mrs. Danks apologetically. I'll do 'em to a different tune, to-morrow."

"The next morning when she brought in the eggs she was beaming all over her face.

"I think you'll find 'em all right to day," she observed. " boiled 'em separate — the brown one to 'The Voice that Breathed O'er Eden' and the white one to '0 Happy Band of Pilgrims'."

"We'll soon see," I cried, tapping them lightly with the spoon. Nothing happened, so I tapped them harder and bent the spoon. I was on the point of fetching the coke-hammer when Mrs. Danks intervened and managed to cut off their heads with the carving knife.

"They are a bit hard," she remarked, after examining them closely. "I can't understand it."

"Perhaps you sang the wrong, tune," I suggested.

"Not me," said Mrs. Danks. "I know every tune in 'Hymns Ancient and Modern' that'll boil an egg soft."

"Very good," I observed. "This matter requires investigation.   I. shall engage a detective. I shall place the eggs in the hands of my solicitor. Meanwhile, will you make me a lobster mayonnaise for lunch?"

Later in. the morning,, when Mrs. Danks was out lobstering, I went into the larder, took the only egg I could find, and determined to boil it myself. I wasn't going to sing the 'Hallelujah Chorus' to it; I was going to give it three and a half minutes pure Greenwich time.

I placed the egg in the saucepan and boiled. it three and a half minutes to the tick. I cracked the shell very cautiously and exposed a surface as hard as a billiard-ball. Then I had a bright idea. There must be something the matter with the water. Possibly it was very rich water and boiled at a much higher temperature than ordinary water.

I fetched the thermometer from the greenhouse where it was keeping an orchid warm, and proceeded to boil it in the saucepan. In the middle of the operation Mrs. Danks returned, complete with lobster. I explained what I was doing. Her eyebrows went up so high and so suddenly that they nearly knocked her bonnet off.

"Did you take that egg from the larder?" she inquired, rather tartly. "Because if you did, I can tell you why it's hard boiled. It's the egg for the lobster marseillaise. I hard-boiled it. myself before I went out."

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