“Now certain Nations there be that account beasts, yea, and some filthie things for gods; yea and many other matters more shamefull to be spoken; swearing by stinking meats, by garlicke, and such like. But surely, to beleeve that gods have contracted mariage, and that in so long continuance of time no children should be borne between them : also that some are aged, and ever hoarie and gray: others againe young and alwaies children: that they be blacke of colour and complexion, winged, lame, hatched of eggs, living and dying each other day; are meere fooleries, little better than childish toies.”
Pliny The Elder, The Naturall Historie, The Second Booke, Chap. 7. Of God in the 1634 English translation by Philomen Holland
One person who was very familiar with the ancient idea that an egg might serve as a childish toy, and that from the egg would hatch a god, was Tiny Enid. On the day of her birth she was presented with an egg by her mysterious, unnamed mentor, and as soon as she grew old enough for childish play it became her favoured toy. It is easy to forget, given the plucky tot’s many deeds of heroism and derring-do, that she was still but a tot, and, when time allowed, she played as other tots do. She played games such as Hide The Egg In The Pantry, Roll The Egg Down A Gentle Incline, and Balance The Egg On A Precipice Over A Yawning Chasm.
It is not entirely clear when Tiny Enid learned that her egg contained an as yet unhatched god. It is also perfectly possible that it did not, and that the venturesome little fascist simply invented the idea for purposes of self-dramatisation. Either way, we do know that one hot summer’s day she stopped treating the egg as a plaything, placed it in a carton, put the carton on her mantelpiece, and spent many hours watching over it, waiting for it to hatch.
Several writers – better to call them hacks – have devoted vast swathes of psychobabble to the suggestion that Tiny Enid was convinced, or convinced herself, that by embarking on ever greater feats of infant heroism she could somehow persuade the god to crack open its egg and burst forth into the world, ushering in a new dispensation under the cope of heaven and, not incidentally, installing the tot as its Archangel. In this reading, Tiny Enid is impelled to acts and adventures of ever greater recklessness for purely selfish reasons. The hacks who peddle this stuff never stop to consider two blindingly obvious facts. One, it makes no sense whatsoever, and two, there is no evidence that, at the end of each of her adventures, Tiny Enid dashed back to her mantelpiece to check on the egg. On the contrary, she was notorious for sticking around to receive plaudits and medals and cups and cash prizes and to watch parades pass by in her honour, and on occasions when these things did not happen, she would bash a few heads together, literally, until she considered due gratitude was displayed. These are not the activities of one who hankers for the imminent intervention of the divine, whether from an egg or from anywhere else.
Indeed, a better case could be made that a child as self-possessed and drunk on her own reputation as Tiny Enid would consider the arrival of a new god as fatally stealing her thunder. It is worth asking what sort of god she was expecting to hatch from the egg on her mantelpiece. Although she was not a religious girl, it is a matter of record that she had, like the Swiss skiing ace Woodcarver Steiner, great ecstasies. During these entrancements, did she have visions of her egg-hatched god? It is a great pity that she never left us an account of at least one of her great ecstasies in her Memoirs. The egg itself is mentioned, over and over again, at first in references to its status as a plaything, as here, on page 47:
I passed many a happy hour playing Carry The Egg Towards The Pond and other delightful pastimes
and then, from page 88 onwards, she constantly reminds us of its numinous presence:
Before revving up my jalopy to speed to the rescue of the stricken and the maimed who had been attacked by the giant lobster being, I paused to look at the egg in its carton on the mantelpiece. It had not yet hatched.
for example, and
The next Thursday was a particularly dull day without any opportunity for daring rescues of those imperilled. I spent much of my time contemplating the egg in its carton on the mantelpiece, from which no god had yet hatched.
In her lifetime, no god ever did hatch from the egg, but I suppose it is not impossible that one might still do so. For though Tiny Enid herself grew old and died, she always kept the egg with her wherever she roamed in her long life, and at her death it was found among her effects. Carefully catalogued by those who keep her flame alive, the egg, in its carton, is now kept in the Tiny Enid Museum, recently established in a cavernous hangar on a so-called “rustic industrial estate” on the edge of the mephitic marshes on the outskirts of Pointy Town. If you visit, and pay through the nose for an entrance ticket, seek out the egg in its refrigerated chamber, and who knows?, perhaps while you are there you will see the shell crack, and a god hatch out, come blind and trembling into the world.