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Ch. 1: THE WIDOW PICKLE’S TWINS AND THEIR PECULIAR HAIR

Once, several years ago, there lived in a city far from the sea-shore a widow by the name of Mrs. Pickle, who had Twins named Zuzu Pickle and Lulu Pickle. At first glance, these Twins seemed much like ordinary twins in appearance. Both had blue eyes, pretty curved lips, and rosy cheeks; and as they were quite alike in size, it may seem that, like many other twins, they must have been hard to tell apart. Such, however, was not the case. Indeed, they could not well be confused with each other, for, aside from the fact that Zuzu was a boy and Lulu a girl, one had green hair and the other blue. This peculiar color of their hair made them quite different from most twins, and led to a great many strange circumstances, some of which are described in this story.

The father of these Twins was Aurelius Pickle, an innocent and good man, who for many years was known as a very skilful chemist. Like many other chemists, he wasted a great deal of time in doing things which did not bring in any money. For instance, he worked many years on a compound intended to change a person’s hair from any color to a rich, dark brown or to a deep and shining auburn, at will. Aurelius Pickle was a poor man, and hence did not have the means for his researches that he desired. He often told his wife that it was fortunate they had Twins with such long hair, for thus he could make all the experiments for the Twofold-tint Compound, which was what he intended to call the hair-coloring fluid on which he was working. Whenever he made a new kettleful of this, he would try it on the long rich hair of the Twins.

At last he hit upon two new mixtures, one or the other of which he felt sure would be just the thing. He tried one on the hair of Lulu and the other on that of Zuzu. To his great surprise, the hair of Zuzu became a fine pale green, while that of Lulu turned at the same time to a pale blue, much the color of the ribbons around the neck of a new baby.

The Twins, seeing themselves in the glass, were much pleased with their appearance, and said they felt sure no one in town had hair like theirs; which in all likelihood was true. With their father, however, it was quite otherwise. Indeed, what he thought was never fully known. He was taken suddenly ill, and sank back upon his couch, where he rapidly became worse, and could get no further than to ask his children to call their mother. When she appeared, Aurelius Pickle smiled feebly and motioned her toward the cupboard where he kept his Chemical Substances. He could do no more.

This, in brief, is how there came to be such a person as the Widow Pickle. It is not unusual for widows to have Twins, but seldom could be found such Twins as these.