The Adventures of a Darning Needle

By Hans Christian Andersen

Illustrated by William Penhallow Henderson

Portrait of the Darning Needle with sewing tools

Pride Goes Before

There was once a Darning Needle that felt herself so fine that she thought she must be a sewing needle!

“Be sure to hold me tight,” she said to the Fingers that held her. “Don’t let me fall. I am so fine that I never could be found again if I fell upon the floor!”

“That’s as it may be,” said the fingers, holding her fast.

“See, I’m coming with a train!” cried the Darning Needle as she drew a long thread after her. But there was no knot in the thread.

The Fingers pointed the needle straight at the cook’s slipper, in which the upper leather had burst and was to be sewn together.

“That’s coarse work,” said the Darning Needle. “I shall never, never get through. I’m breaking! I’m breaking!”

And she really broke.

“There, didn’t I say so?” asked the Darning Needle. “I am too fine! Didn’t I say so?”

“Now it’s good for nothing!” said the Fingers.

But they held her fast while the cook dropped some sealing wax upon the needle and stuck it in her necktie.

And a Fall Comes After

“Now, I’m a breastpin!” said the Darning Needle. “I knew that I should come to honor. When one is something, one always comes to something!”

She laughed quietly to herself. (For one can never see by the outside when a Darning Needle laughs.) She sat up as proudly as if she were in a state coach, and looked all about her.

“May I ask if you are of gold?” she said to the pin, her neighbor. “You are pretty to look upon, and you have your own head, if it is little! But you must see that you grow, for it’s not every one that has sealing wax dropped upon him!”

Then the Darning Needle drew herself up so proudly that she fell right out of the necktie into the sink, which the cook was rinsing out.

The Darning Needle Goes out into the World

“Now I’m going on a journey!” said the Darning Needle. “I do hope that I’ll not get lost!”

But she really was lost already.

“I’m too fine for this world,” she said as she lay in the gutter. “But I know who I am and what I am, and there’s some comfort in that!”

So the Darning Needle held herself high and did not lose her good humor.

From Andersen's Best Fairy Tales by Alice Corbin Henderson.
Chicago, New York: Rand, McNally & Company, 1911.

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