The Adventures of a Darning Needle

All sorts of things floated over her—chips and straws and pieces of old newspapers.

“See how they sail!” said the Darning Needle. “They don’t know what is under them. But I am here. I remain firmly here.

“See, there goes a chip thinking of nothing in the world but of himself—of CHIP!

“There’s a straw going by now! How he turns! How he twirls about! Don’t think only of yourself, or you may run up against a paving stone!

“There swims a bit of newspaper. What’s written on it has long been forgotten, and yet it gives itself airs!

I sit quietly and patiently here. I know what I am, and I shall stay what I am.”

She Makes an Acquaintance

One day something glittered close beside the Darning Needle. It shone so brightly that the Darning Needle thought that it must be a diamond. It was really a bit of a broken bottle. But because it glittered the Darning Needle spoke to it, introducing herself as a breastpin.

“You, no doubt, are a diamond?”

“Yes, something of that kind.”

So each thought the other a costly thing. Then they began talking about the vanity of everything in the world.

“I was once in a lady’s box,” said the Darning Needle. “This lady was a cook, with five fingers on each hand. I never saw anything as vain as those five fingers. Yet they only existed that they might take me out of the box and put me back into it again.”

“Did they have luster?” asked the Bit of Bottle.

“Luster!” cried the Darning Needle. “No, nothing but pride!

“The five fingers, all of the Finger Family, held their heads high even with one another!

“But they were not all alike or of the same size.

“Thumbling, the outside one, was short and fat. He walked out in front of the ranks. He had only one joint in his back, and so could make but a single bow. But he said that if he were hacked off a man, that man forever after was no good for the wars.

The Lady holding the Needle, sewing a shoe

This Lady was a Cook

“Lickpot, the second finger, thrust himself into sweet and sour, pointed to the sun and the moon, and bore down hardest when they wrote.

“Longman looked over the heads of all the others.

“Ringband wore a golden belt about his waist.

“And Little Peter Playman did nothing at all, and was proud of doing that!

“It was brag, brag, all the time, and so I went away.”

“And now we sit here and glitter!” said the Bit of Bottle. But at that moment so much water came into the gutter that the Bit of Bottle was carried off on the overflow.

“So he is disposed of,” remarked the Darning Needle, “while I stay here because I’m so fine. But I am proud to be fine, and my pride is honorable.” And she had many great thoughts as she sat there holding her head high.

“I am so fine that I almost believe I was born of a sunbeam! It really does seem as if the sunbeams were always seeking for me under the water!

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

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