There was once a Darning-needle
who thought herself so fine that she believed she was an
embroidery-needle. 'Take great care to hold me tight!' said the
Darning-needle to the Fingers who were holding her. 'Don't let me fall! If
I once fall on the ground I shall never be found again, I am so fine!'
'It is all right!' said the
Fingers, seizing her round the waist.
'Look, I am coming with my
train!' said the Darning-needle as she drew a long thread after her; but
there was no knot at the end of the thread.
The Fingers were using the needle
on the cook's shoe. The upper leather was unstitched and had to be sewn
'This is common work!' said the
Darning-needle. 'I shall never get through it. I am breaking! I am
breaking!' And in fact she did break. 'Didn't I tell you so!' said the
Darning-needle. 'I am too fine!'
'Now she is good for nothing!'
said the Fingers; but they had to hold her tight while the cook dropped
some sealing-wax on the needle and stuck it in the front of her dress.
'Now I am a breast-pin!' said the
Darning-needle. 'I always knew I should be promoted. When one is
something, one will become something!' And she laughed to herself; you can
never see when a Darning-needle is laughing. Then she sat up as proudly as
if she were in a State coach, and looked all round her.
'May I be allowed to ask if you
are gold?' she said to her neighbour, the Pin. 'You have a very nice
appearance, and a peculiar head; but it is too small! You must take pains
to make it grow, for it is not everyone who has a head of sealing-wax.'
And so saying the Darning-needle raised herself up so proudly that she
fell out of the dress, right into the sink which the cook was rinsing out.
'Now I am off on my travels!'
said the Darning-needle. 'I do hope I sha'n't get lost!' She did indeed
'I am too fine for this world!'
said she as she lay in the gutter; 'but I know who I am, and that is
always a little satisfaction!'
'And the Darning-needle kept her
proud bearing and did not lose her good-temper.
All kinds of things swam over her
-- shavings, bits of straw, and scraps of old newspapers.
'Just look how they sail along!'
said the Darning-needle. 'They don't know what is underneath them! Here I
am sticking fast! There goes a shaving thinking of nothing in the world
but of itself, a mere chip! There goes a straw -- well, how it does twist
and twirl, to be sure! Don't think so much about yourself, or you will be
knocked against a stone. There floats a bit of newspaper. What is written
on it is long ago forgotten, and yet how proud it is! I am sitting patient
and quiet. I know who I am, and that is enough for me!'
One day something thick lay near
her which glittered so brightly that the Darning-needle thought it must be
a diamond. But it was a bit of bottle-glass, and because it sparkled the
Darning-needle spoke to it, and gave herself out as a breast-pin.
'No doubt you are a diamond?'
'Yes, something of that kind!'
And each believed that the other was something very costly; and they both
said how very proud the world must be of them.
'I have come from a lady's
work-box,' said Darning-needle, 'and this lady was a cook; she had five
fingers on each hand; anything so proud as these fingers I have never
seen! And yet they were only there to take me out of the work-box and to
put me back again!'
'Were they of noble birth, then?'
asked the bit of bottle-glass.
'Of noble birth!' said the
Darning-needle; 'no indeed, but proud! They were five brothers, all called
''Fingers.'' They held themselves proudly one against the other, although
they were of different sizes. The outside one, the Thumb, was short and
fat; he was outside the rank, and had only one bend in his back, and could
only make one bow; but he said that if he were cut off from a man that he
was no longer any use as a soldier. Dip-into-everything, the second
finger, dipped into sweet things as well as sour things, pointed to the
sun and the moon, and guided the pen when they wrote. Longman, the third,
looked at the others over his shoulder. Goldband, the fourth, had a gold
sash round his waist; and little Playman did nothing at all, and was the
more proud. There was too much ostentation, and so I came away.'
And now we are sitting and
shining here!' said the bit of bottle-glass.
At that moment more water came
into the gutter; it streamed over the edges and washed the bit of
'Ah! now he has been promoted!'
said the Darning-needle. 'I remain here; I am too fine. But that is my
pride, which is a sign of respectability!' And she sat there very proudly,
thinking lofty thoughts.
'I really believe I must have
been born a sunbeam, I am so fine! It seems to me as if the sunbeams were
always looking under the water for me. Ah, I am so fine that my own mother
cannot find me! If I had my old eye which broke off, I believe I could
weep; but I can't -- it is not fine to weep!'
One day two street-urchins were
playing and wading in the gutter, picking up old nails, pennies, and such
things. It was rather dirty work, but it was a great delight to them.
'Oh, oh!' cried out one, as he
pricked himself with the Darning-needle; `he is a fine fellow though!'
'I am not a fellow; I am a young
lady!' said the Darning-needle; but no one heard. The sealing-wax had
gone, and she had become quite black; but black makes one look very slim,
and so she thought she was even finer than before.
'Here comes an egg-shell sailing
along!' said the boys, and they stuck the Darning-needle into the
'The walls white and I black --
what a pretty contrast it makes!' said the Darning-needle. 'Now I can be
seen to advantage! If only I am not sea-sick! I should give myself up for
But she was not sea-sick, and did
not give herself up.
'It is a good thing to be steeled
against sea-sickness; here one has indeed an advantage over man! Now my
qualms are over. The finer one is the more one can beat.'
'Crack!' said the egg-shell as a
wagon-wheel went over it.
'Oh! how it presses!' said the
Darning-needle. 'I shall indeed be sea-sick now. I am breaking!' But she
did not break, although the wagon-wheel went over her; she lay there at
full length, and there she may lie.
Andrew Lang, 1844-1912