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THERE was once a darning-needle who was so fine that she fancied herself a sewing-needle.
"Now take care, and hold me fast!" said the darning-needle to the fingers that took her up. "Don't lose me, pray! If I were to fall down on the floor, you would never be able to find me again, I am so fine!"
"That's more than you can tell!" said the fingers.
"See, I come with a train!" said the darning-needle, drawing after her a long thread, without a single knot in it.
The fingers guided the needle to the cook-maid's slippers; the upper leather was torn, and had to be sewn together.
"This is vulgar work!" said the darning-needle; "I shall never get through. I break--I am breaking!" and break she did. "Did I not say so?" continued she; "I am too fine!"
The cook-maid dropped sealing-wax upon the broken darning-needle and then stuck her into her neckerchief.
"See, now I am a breast-pin!" said the darning-needle. "I knew well that I should come to honour; when one is something, one always becomes something." And at this she laughed. There she sat now, as proud as if she were driving in her carriage, and looking about her on all sides.
"May I take the liberty of asking if you are of gold?" enquired she of the pin that was her neighbour. "You have a pleasing exterior, and a very peculiar head. It is but small, though; you must take care that it grows, for it is not everyone that can have sealing-wax dropped upon her!"
And the darning'needle drew herself up so proudly that she fell into the sink, where the cook was engaged just then in washing-up.
"Now for our travels!" said the darning-needle; "but I hope I shall not go very far." However, she did travel far, very far.
"I am too fine for this world," said she, as at last she sat still in the gutter. "However, I know who I am, and there is always some little pleasure in that."
So she held herself erect, and did not lose her good-humour.
All sorts of things sailed past her. "See how they sail along!" said the darning-needle. "They do not know what is sticking under them! There goes a splinter -- he thinks of nothing in the world but himself, splinter as he is! There floats a straw -- to see how it turns round and round! Nay, think not so much of yourself, you may easily float against one of the stones. There swims a newspaper -- everything in it is forgotten, yet how it spreads itself out! I sit patiently and quietly! I know what I am, and that I shall always be the same!"
One day there chanced to be close by her something that glittered so charmingly that the darning-needle felt sure it must needs be a diamond; it was, in reality, only a splinter of glass. The darning-needle addressed it, introducing herself as a breast-pin."Surely you are a diamond?"
"Why, yes, something of the sort!" was the reply; so now each believed the other to be some very rare and costly trinket, and they both began to complain of the extraordinary haughtiness of the world.
"Yes, I have dwelt in a box belonging to a young lady," said the darning-needle, "and this young lady was a cook-maid. She had five fingers on each hand, and anything so conceited as those five fingers I have never known; and after all, what were they good for? For nothing, but to hold me, to take me out of the box and lay me in the box"
"And were they at all bright did they shine?" asked the glass-splinter.
"Shine!" repeated the darning-needle; "not they, but conceited enough they were all the same. The first, Thumbkin he was called, was short and thick; he generally stood out of the rank, rather before the others. He used to say that if he were cut off from a man, that man would no longer be fit for military service. Foreman, the second, would put himself forward everywhere and meddled with everything. Middleman was so tall that he could look over the others' heads; Ringman wore a gold belt round his body; and as for Littleman, he did nothing at all, and was proud of that, I suppose. So proud were they, indeed, that I took myself off into the gutter!"
"And now we sit together and shine!" quoth the glass-splinter.
Just then some more water was poured into the gutter; it overflowed its boundaries, and carried the glass-splinter along with it.
"So now he has advanced farther," observed the darning-needle. "I stay here, I am too fine; but such it is my pride to be; it is respectable! I could almost believe I was born of a sunbeam, I am so fine; and yet the sunbeams do not seem to seek me out under the water. Alas! I am so fine that even my mother cannot find me. Had I still my eye, which broke, I believe I could weep. I would not, though; it is not refined to weep."
One day some boys were raking about in the gutter, hunting for old , nails, pennies, and such like. This was very dirty, certainly, but such was their pleasure. "Hullo!" cried one, pricking himself with the darning-needle; "there's a fellow for you!"
The sealing-wax had worn off, and she had become quite black. Black, however, makes a person look thin, so she fancied herself finer than ever.
"There sails an egg-shell!" said the boys; and they stuck the darning needle into the shell.
"White walls and a lady in black," said the darning-needle; "that is very striking. Now everyone can see me. But I hope I shall not be seasick, for then I shall break." Her fear was needless; she was not sea-sick, neither did she break. "Nothing is so good to prevent sea-sickness as being of steel, and then, too, never to forget that one is a little more than man. Now my trial is over. The finer one is, the more one can endure."
Crash went the egg-shell. A wagon rolled over it. "Ugh, what a pressure!" sighed the darning-needle; "now I shall be sea-sick after all. I shall break, I shall break!" But she broke not, although the wheel had passed over her. Long did she lie there and there let her die!