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The Darning Needle

Hans Christian Andersen

The A-B-C Book The Angel Anne Lisbeth At the Uttermost Parts of the Sea Aunty Aunty Toothache "Beautiful" The Beetle The Bell The Bell Deep The Bird of Folklore The Bishop of Börglum and his Men The Bond of Friendship The Bottle Neck The Brave Tin Soldier The Buckwheat Butterfly The Candles Chicken Grethe's Family The Child in the Grave Children's Prattle Clumsy Hans The Comet The Court Cards The Cripple Croak! The Daisy Dance, Dance, Doll of Mine! Danish Popular Legends The Darning Needle The Days of the Week The Drop of Water The Dryad The Elder-Tree Mother The Elf Mound The Emperor's New Clothes Everything in its Proper Place Danish Popular Legends The Farmyard Cock and the Weathercock The Fir Tree Five Peas from a Pod The Flax The Flea and the Professor The Flying Trunk Folks Say - The Galoshes of Fortune The Gardener and the Noble Family The Garden of Paradise The Gate Key The Girl Who Trod on the Loaf The Goblin and the Grocer The Goblin and the Woman God Can Never Die Godfather's Picture Book Golden Treasure A Good Humor Grandmother Great-Grandfather The Great Sea Serpent The Happy Family Heartache Holger Danske Ib and Little Christine The Ice Maiden In the Children's Room In the Duck Yard It's Quite True! Jack the Dullard The Jewish Girl The Jumpers Kept Secret but not Forgotten The Last Pearl A Leaf from Heaven Little Claus and Big Claus The Little Green Ones Little Ida's Flowers The Little Match Seller The Little Mermaid Little Tuck Luck May Lie in a Pin Lucky Peer The Marsh King's Daughter The Metal Pig The Money Pig The Most Incredible Thing Moving Day The Naughty Boy The Neighboring Families The New Century's Goddess The Nightcap of the "Pebersvend" The Nightingale The Old Church Bell The Old House The Old Oak Tree's Last Dream The Old Street Lamp The Old Tombstone Ole Lukoie Ole, the Tower Keeper On Judgment Day Peiter, Peter, and Peer Pen and Inkstand The Penman The Phoenix Bird Picturebook Without Pictures A Picture from the Ramparts The Pigs The Poor Woman and the Little Canary Bird The Porter's Son The Princess and the Pea The Psyche The Puppet-show Man The Racers The Rags The Red Shoes The Rose Elf A Rose from Homer's Grave The Shadow The Shepherdess and the Chimney-Sweep She Was Good for Nothing The Shirt Collar The Silent Book The Silver Shilling The Snail and the Rosebush The Snowdrop The Snow Man The Snow Queen Something Soup on a Sausage Peg The Stone of the Wise Man The Storks The Storm Shifts the Signboards A Story A Story from the Sand Dunes The Story of a Mother The Story of the Year A String of Pearls Sunshine Stories The Swan's Nest The Sweethearts; or, The Top and the Ball The Swineherd The Talisman The Teapot There is a Difference This Fable is Intended for You The Thorny Road of Honor Thousands of Years from Now Thumbelina The Tinder Box The Toad The Traveling Companion Twelve by the Mail Two Brothers Two Maidens The Ugly Duckling Under The Willow Tree Urbanus A View from Vartou's Window Vänö and Glänö What Happened to the Thistle What Old Johanne Told What One Can Invent What the Old Man Does is Always Right What the Whole Family Said Which Was the Happiest? The Wicked Prince The Wild Swans The Will-o'-the-Wisps Are in Town The Windmill The Wind Tells about Valdemar Daae and His Daughters The World's Fairest Rose

nce upon a time there was a darning needle who imagined she was so fine that she really was a sewing needle.

"Be careful and hold me tightly!" she warned the fingers that picked her up. "Don't drop me! If I fall on the floor you may never find me again; that's how fine I am!"

"That's what you think!" replied the fingers, and squeezed her around the waist.

"Look, here I come with my train!" said the darning needle, and she drew a long thread behind her, but there was no knot in the thread.

The fingers aimed the needle straight at the cook's slipper, where the upper leather had burst and had to be sewed together.

"My! What vulgar work!" sniffed the darning needle. "I'll never get through! Look out! I'm breaking! I'm breaking in two." And just then she did break. "I told you so," she said. "I'm much too delicate!"

"Well, she's no good now," thought the fingers, but they had to hold on to her all the same. For the cook dropped a little sealing wax on the end of the needle to make a head, and then she pinned her kerchief together with it in front.

"Look! Now I'm a breastpin," said the needle. "I knew perfectly well I'd be honored. If you are something you always amount to something."

Then she laughed, but it was inwardly, because no one can ever really see a darning needle laugh. There she sat on the cook's bosom, proud as if she were in a state coach, and looked all around her.

"May I be permitted to inquire if you're made of gold?" she very politely asked a little pin near her. "You look pretty, and you have a head of your own, but it's rather small. You must be careful to grow bigger. Not everyone can have sealing wax on one end like me!"

Then the darning needle drew herself up so proudly that she fell right out of the kerchief into the sink, at the very moment the cook was rinsing it out.

"Looks now as if we are off on a journey," she said to herself. "Let's hope I don't get lost." But she really was lost down the drain.

"I'm too fine for this world," she observed calmly as she lay in the gutter outside. "But I know who I am, and that's always a satisfaction." So the darning needle was still proud, and she never lost her good humor. She watched the many strange things floating above her-chips and straws and pieces of old newspapers.

"Look at them sail!" she said to herself. "They don't know what's down below them! Here I sit! I can sting! Look at that stick go, thinking of nothing in the world but himself-a stick! And that's exactly what he is! And there's a straw floating by; look at him twist and look how he turns! You'd better not think so much about yourself up there! You'll run into the curb! There goes a newspaper. Everybody has forgotten what was written on it, but still it spreads itself out, while I sit quietly down here below. I know who I am, and I shall never forget it!"

One day the darning needle saw something beside her that glittered splendidly in the sunbeams. It was only a bit of broken bottle, but because the darning needle was quite sure it was something valuable like a diamond she spoke to it, introducing herself as a breastpin.

"I suppose you're a diamond?" she asked.

"Yes, something like that," was the reply.

Then, since each thought the other was very important, they began talking about the world, and how conceited everyone was.

"I used to live in a lady's case," said the darning needle. "And this lady was a cook. On each hand she had five fingers, and you never saw anything so conceited as those five fingers! And yet they were only there so that they could hold me, take me out of my case, and put me back into it."

"Did they shine?" asked the bit of bottle glass.

"Shine? Not at all," said the darning needle. "They were arrogant. There were five brothers, all belonging to the Finger family, and they kept close together, although they were all of different lengths. The one on the outside, Thumbling, who walked out in front of the others, was short and fat and had only one joint in his back, so he could only make a single bow. But he insisted that if he were cut off a person's hand, that person could not be a soldier. Lickpot, the second one, pushed himself into sweet and sour, and pointed at the sun and the moon, and it was he who pressed on the pen when they wrote. Longman, the third, looked over the heads of the others. Guldbrand was the fourth-he always wore a golden belt around his waist. And little Peter Playfellow didn't do anything at all, and was very proud of it. They did nothing but brag all the time; that's why I went down the sink."

"And now we just sit here and glitter," said the bit of broken bottle. But just then a flood of water came rushing down the gutter so that it overflowed and swept the bottle glass away.

"See now! He's been promoted," remarked the darning needle, "but I'm still here. I'm too fine for that sort of thing. But that's my pride, and that is very commendable!" So she sat up straight, lost in many big thoughts. "I almost think I was born a sunbeam, I'm so fine; besides, the sunbeams always seem to be trying to get to me, under the water. I'm so fine that even my mother can't find me. If I had my old eye, the one that broke off, I think I might cry about that. But no! I think I wouldn't cry anyway; it's not at all refined to cry."

One day some street boys were grubbing in the gutter, looking for coins and things of that sort. It was filthy work, but they were having a wonderful time.

"Ouch!" one cried as he pricked himself on the darning needle. "You're a pretty sharp fellow!"

"I'm not a fellow; I'm a young lady," replied the darning needle. But of course they couldn't hear her.

Her sealing wax had come off, and she had turned black; but black always makes you look more slender, and she was sure she was even finer than before.

"Look!" cried the boys. "Here comes an eggshell sailing along," And they stuck the darning needle fast into the shell.

"White walls, and I am black myself!" cried the darning needle. "That's very becoming! People can really see me now! I only hope I'm not seasick; that would surely break me!" But she wasn't seasick, and she did not break. "It's a very good protection against seasickness to have a steel stomach and to remember that one is a little finer than ordinary human beings. Oh, yes! I'm all right. The finer you are, the more you can bear."

"Crack!" went the eggshell at that moment, for a heavily loaded wagon ran over it.

"Goodness, I'm being crushed!" cried the darning needle. "I'm going to get really seasick now! I'm breaking! I'm breaking!" But she didn't break, though the wagon went over her; she lay at full length along the cobblestones, and there we'll leave her.

The End

Fables & Tales Nonfiction Poetry Short Stories

Aesop Andersen, H.C. Dickinson, Emily Frost, Robert Grimm Henry, O Kipling, Rudyard Longfellow, Henry Poe, Edgar Allan Shakespeare, William Thoreau, Henry Twain, Mark Wilde, Oscar