9 + 1 = 10
As soon as she was awake, Jenny Berry ran downstairs to the dining room to count her Easter eggs. They were lined up in their boxes along the big dining table. But they were not for touching. Easter Sunday was the day that Jenny was allowed to start eating her Easter eggs. But today was Easter Saturday so she had to wait another whole day before she would be able to open the boxes and peel off the shiny foil wrappings. Today all she could do was count. So she started at one end of the line of boxes and counted in her head, then she started from the other end and counted out loud:
‘One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine!’
Nine Easter eggs. That was a lot of Easter eggs for one small, seven-year-old girl. And Jenny was very excited about it. Now, the reason Jenny had quite so many eggs was that she had quite so many aunts and uncles. Aunt Jo and Uncle Jack had bought her a red egg and a blue egg. Aunt Mary and Uncle Gerald had bought her a yellow egg with stars on the box. Aunt Jane had bought her an egg inside a cup inside a box. Aunt Hazel and Uncle Rich had bought her an egg full of chocolate buttons. And Auntie Michelle and Uncle Rob had bought her an egg with lots of tiny eggs inside it. But also, Grandma and Granddad Berry, who lived in Scotland, had sent a big Easter parcel and inside it there was a cuddly toy duckling for baby Wills and a very grown up looking Easter egg for Jenny. And, even though she wasn’t part of their family, Mrs Evans next door had given Jenny an egg full of jelly babies. But better than all of them was the big box from Mummy and Daddy because that contained a chocolate egg and a chocolate rabbit. Jenny counted again:
‘One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine!’
And there was one thing for sure: Grandma Lily was coming round to visit this afternoon and she would definitely bring an Easter egg with her. So that would be ten altogether. Jenny heard her mother calling:
‘Jenny, you’re not in there unwrapping your Easter eggs are you?’
Jenny did another quick egg count and then hurried into the kitchen, where her mother was making breakfast and Jenny’s dad was helping baby Wills to eat mashed banana. Wills was six months old now and he could sit up in his chair, so long as he was strapped in properly, and he could eat all sorts of sloppy food. A lot of the mashed banana was on Wills’ bib and on the table and some of it was on Mr Berry. But Wills seemed to be very pleased with himself.
Today Jenny’s Easter breakfast was raspberries and strawberries, a toasted hot cross bun with drippy butter and banana milkshake. By the time she had eaten and drunk everything she was feeling very full. Too full to get dressed. So she decided to go and count her Easter eggs again. And of course there were still nine of them stretched out across the table. In fact, there carried on being nine of them until the afternoon when Grandma Lily arrived. And then there were ten. Because Grandma Lily brought the best egg of all. Grandma Lily’s Easter egg was very big. But that was not what was best about it. And it was covered in shiny red and yellow foil. But that was not what was best about it. It had a red ribbon around its fat middle. But that was not what was best about it. What was best about it was that it was in a basket. And all around it in the basket were loads of little fluffy chicks. Not real chicks, but the kind of chicks you could play with long after Easter is over. Jenny followed her grandma into the dining room and watched her add the new egg in its basket to the end of the Easter egg line.
‘My Goodness, Jenny, what a lot of Easter eggs!’ exclaimed Grandma Lily. ‘Perhaps I should have brought you a ham sandwich instead.’
Jenny knew that that was one of Grandma Lily’s jokes, so she laughed and clapped her hands and told her grandma that the egg in the basket was her favourite egg and could she touch the chicks before tomorrow. So Grandma Lily reached over and lifted one of the fluffy chicks out of the basket and handed it to Jenny. It was very soft and tickly and Grandma said she could keep it now. So Jenny carried her Easter chick into the kitchen and watched her mum and Grandma Lily decorating this afternoon’s special Easter tea cake. It had lots of sugar flowers and speckled mini eggs, and it was a special Easter cake because Jenny’s best friend Emily was coming to tea. Jenny hadn’t seen Emily for all of the school holiday because she had been visiting her Grandma in Wales.
Jenny wobbled with excitement: ‘I can’t wait for Emily to see all my Easter eggs,’ she said. ‘I bet I’ve got the most!’
Grandma Lily stopped decorating the cake and frowned: ‘Jenny, that doesn’t sound like a very nice thing to say! You’re very lucky to have so many aunts and uncles who like to spoil you. If I remember correctly, Emily doesn’t have that many aunts and uncles.’
Jenny decided not to answer that. It was always best not to say anything when Grandma Lily was frowning like that.
Emily and her mother arrived at three o’clock so that there would be enough time to chat before tea. Jenny waited for Emily to take off her coat and then she pulled her into the dining room to see her Easter eggs. Emily stared at the line of boxes and the basket of Easter egg chicks:
‘Where did you get all those from, Jenny!’ squealed Emily.
‘From my aunties and grandmas and Mummy and Daddy and Mrs Evans next door,’ said Jenny.
‘But there’s hundreds of them!’ exclaimed Emily. ‘I’ve only got three. One from my grandma and granddad and one from Auntie Laura and one from Mummy and Daddy. My other gran and granddad usually send me money because an Easter egg would break to pieces or melt if they posted it from Spain, because that’s where they live.’
‘Well,’ said Jenny, ‘there’s not actually hundreds of eggs. But there are ten of them. Shall I count them for you?’
Emily watched Jenny count:
‘One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine …Oh no!’
‘What’s the matter?’ said Emily.
‘One of my Easter eggs is missing,’ exclaimed Jenny. ‘There should be ten because there were nine this morning and then Grandma gave me that one in the basket and nine plus one should be ten. But there’s still only nine!’ She turned to call her mother and saw Grandma Lily standing in the doorway.
Grandma Lily was looking puzzled: ‘What’s all the fuss about?’ she asked.
‘One of Jenny’s Easter eggs is missing,’ explained Emily.
‘It’s LOST,’ said Jenny. ‘There should be ten but there are only nine!’
Grandma Lily walked over and looked at the long line of eggs: ‘Well, the one I gave you is still there. So which one is lost?’
Jenny looked at the nine eggs and tried to work out which one was missing. Mummy and Daddy’s one with the rabbit was still there and the grown-up-looking one from Grandma and Granddad Berry was still there. But which one was missing? ‘I can’t remember, Grandma,’ groaned Jenny.
‘Can’t you work it out,’ asked Grandma Lily, folding her arms.
‘No, I can’t.’
‘That’s probably because you’ve got so many,’ said Emily.
‘Yes, Emily, I think you’re right,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘Jenny has too many eggs to be able to care about each one of them!’
Jenny said she did care and then she quickly counted them again. But there were still only nine. ‘But, Grandma,’ she said, ‘Easter eggs can’t get lost!’
‘Jenny dear, anything can get lost, if you don’t care about it enough.’
Suddenly Emily threw her hand across her mouth: ‘Jenny,’ she said, ‘what if your Easter egg has gone to that place you told me about? You remember, where LOST things hide if they don’t think you care about them.’
‘Oh, did Jenny tell you about Raggedy Lyme?’ said Grandma Lily.
Emily nodded. Jenny had a quick look under the dining table but the missing egg wasn’t there. She frowned: ‘I don’t think an Easter egg can hide in Raggedy Lyme, Emily. That’s just not possible.’ But when Jenny looked at her grandma, she noticed that she was smiling. And then Grandma Lily asked an important question:
‘Jenny, is there anything in the rhyme that says an Easter egg cannot go to Raggedy Lyme if it thinks the person it’s been given to doesn’t deserve it? Perhaps you were caring about how many Easter eggs you had and not about who gave them to you. Why don’t you say the rhyme and then try and work out which one is missing?’
‘Can I say it as well?’ said Emily.
‘Yes, I think that would help,’ said Grandma Lily.
So Jenny and Emily said the rhyme together:
‘There’s a space in a place called Raggedy Lyme,
Full of errors and terrors and wasted time,
Where your lost things can hide, until they decide,
That you’ve earned their return from Raggedy Lyme.’
‘Excellent!’ said Grandma Lily. ‘Nothing at all about Easter eggs not being able to go to Raggedy Lyme. Now, let’s go and see how Mummy’s getting along with tea. Perhaps all those little speckly eggs on top of the Easter cake will help you remember which of your Easter eggs is missing.’
So Grandma Lily and Jenny and Emily went to the kitchen and Jenny told everyone about her missing egg. Jenny’s mum asked her which one was missing and Jenny said she was trying to remember. And then Mr Berry, who had come to help eat some special cake, said that perhaps she had made a mistake when she counted them that morning. Jenny was quite cross and insisted that she had counted her Easter eggs correctly. Then Emily’s mother said she was sure it would come back safely. And Emily said that Jenny still had lots of eggs even if it didn’t come back, so she still ought to be pleased. And Jenny was about to be cross with Emily as well but then Mrs Berry put a large piece of cake in front of her and for a little while Jenny stopped thinking about her missing Easter egg.
But after a while, Jenny remembered her LOST Easter egg and she started to think about what Grandma Lily had said about caring more about how many eggs she had, and not caring about who gave them to her. Then she thought of her best friend Emily only having three eggs because she only had one auntie and uncle. And then Jenny made a decision. So she asked if she could leave the table and then, once again, she pulled Emily into the dining room. But this time she didn’t count. Instead she picked up the big red egg on the end of the line and handed it to Emily:
‘I’m not supposed to touch this until tomorrow, but I think I am allowed to touch if I’m giving it to someone. I think my Auntie Jo and Uncle Jack gave me this one and the blue one next to it and I’m sure they wouldn’t mind me giving one of them to my best friend. So now you’ve got three plus one eggs, which makes four.’
‘Are you sure, Jenny?’ said Emily, looking very surprised.
‘Yes, I am sure,’ said Jenny. ‘I’m lucky that I’ve got so many kind aunties and uncles.’ Then Jenny reached into her pocket and pulled out the little chick that her grandma had given her: ‘And you can have this little chick as well, because tomorrow I’ll have loads more.’ She turned to see Grandma Lily and Mr Berry watching her from the doorway. ‘I’m giving these to Emily,’ said Jenny, ‘because she only has three eggs and no chicks, and I’ve got loads of eggs even without the one that’s LOST.’
‘That’s a very kind thing to do,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘So how many eggs do you have now?’
‘Well,’ thought Jenny. ‘I did have ten. But one was LOST so ten take away one leaves nine. And now I’ve given one to Emily so that means I’ve got eight Easter eggs left.’
‘Perhaps we should count them,’ said Mr Berry, stepping into the room.
So Jenny counted her eggs: ‘One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight … Nine! But, how can there be nine eggs left when I’ve just given one away?’
Grandma Lily walked over to take a look. She shook her head a little and said: ‘You know, the only explanation must be that the LOST egg came back from Raggedy Lyme.’
‘Because you earned its return,’ said Mr Berry, who now knew all about Raggedy Lyme.
‘Because you were kind and gave me an egg,’ said Emily.
Jenny smiled at her grandma: ‘Do you think that’s what happened, Grandma?’
‘I think it might be,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘Because kindness is always rewarded.’
‘Quite right!’ said Mr Berry.
‘But I still can’t remember which egg was LOST,’ said Jenny.
‘I don’t suppose that matters anymore,’ said Grandma Lily.
‘And tomorrow, I’m going to help you eat them,’ said Mr Berry. Now, let’s go and tell everyone the good news and see if there’s any more of that Easter cake left.’
Jenny and Emily laughed and then they hurried back to the kitchen so that Emily could show her mother her Easter egg and chick from Jenny. And that day Jenny felt very pleased that she had learned how happy it makes you feel when you share with your friends.