ONCE upon a time, O! such a very, very long time ago, long before your mammas or papas were little boys or girls, even long before your grandmothers and grandfathers were little, the fingers lived apart from the hand and could run about and play like you can.
They all lived together in the prettiest little house you can imagine; it had five windows in front, one for each of the little fingers, and just exactly in the middle of the front was a door, broad enough for the fat thumb to pass through, and high enough for the tall finger. This little house had an up-stairs and a down-stairs; down-stairs was a large dining-room and kitchen in one. In the middle of this large room stood a long table and around this table were five chairs, one for the thumb that was not high, next to this one a chair for the pointer which was larger than the thumb's, next a chair for the tall finger which was the largest, then one for the ring finger, and last a tiny chair for dear little finger.
In one corner was the kitchen stove upon which they cooked breakfast, dinner and supper. On the table were five plates, five cups, five forks, five knives and five spoons, one for each finger.
Up-stairs was the bedroom in which were five beds standing all in a row against the white wall. One was a short, broad bed for the fat little thumb, the next was a little longer and not quite so broad for pointer, the third was very long for the tall finger, then came a nice small bed which was very soft for the weak little gold finger, and last of all a tiny bed for the little wee finger.
In the morning when the sunbeams waked the fingers, the thumb would say, "Let us hurry and dress quickly, so we will have breakfast ready before the sunbeams get very much longer on the floor," and then they would make haste and get to work. Thumb, who was the strongest, would get wood from the shed; pointer would help him light the fire; long finger would get the dishes from the closet, while gold finger and little finger would se the table.
After breakfast was finished, dishes washed and the floor swept up nicely, up-stairs they would run, one after the other, and all going to work, very soon had made up the five beds, dusted the room and put ever thing in order. What glorious times they all had, working and playing together!
One day (such a bright day it was) in the fall, just as it is now, the thumb said, "do you know that the nuts are ripe, and the little squirrels are busy at work gathering their winter store, and if we do not go tomorrow there will be none left for us to crack when Jack Frost paints flowers upon the windows and every thing is covered with snow and ice. Let us go to-morrow." So they all went to bed early that night, to be up with the birds next morning. They got up early, hurried with their work and put on their hats. Thumb and pointer ran into the cellar to get the big sack to put the nuts into. At last they were ready to start, and off they walked in a straight row like soldiers; first the thumb and pointer carrying the sack between them, then long man, next the pretty ring finger, and last dear little finger, for whose sake they all walked very slowly. Into the woods they went, where long finger had seen a great black walnut tree full of nuts all ready to fall. The trees looked beautiful in their red, brown and gold-leaved dresses, and the tall golden rod looked as yellow as the sunbeams. It was so lovely there!
They met a little red squirrel with two great big nuts in his mouth. He looked at the little fingers with his sharp black eyes and said: "There are enough for us all, you can fill your sack up to the top with nuts as big as these here in my mouth." At last they came to the big tree; it was full of nuts up to the very top, and they were all large and round. Thumb said: "Pointer and I will hold the sack open;" long finger said: "I'll take a long pole and knock them off," and little finger said he would pick up those that fell upon the ground, and what would gold finger do? When they looked for her she was nowhere to be found; where was she? The little fingers looked at each other and could not imagine what was the matter. "O," said thumb, "I will tell you how it is. She had forgotten her hat and ran back to get it, and how rude and unkind it was that we did not wait for her." "I am sure she is crying," said pointer, "and I will run back and get her at once, for what will we do if she is not here to climb the tree and get nuts from the top, where long finger cannot reach them?" Away he ran as fast as he could, and when he got home he called, "Gold finger" as loud as he could. But no one answered, so he went up stairs and there he found her sitting in one corner crying bitterly. Pointer told her how she was missed and what they wished her to do. When she heard this, she put on her hat and away they both trotted to the woods. When they got there the other fingers were waiting for them, and gold finger was so anxious to help, that she climbed the tree too fast and fell down and hurt her back very badly, and this is the reason she can't stand up very straight. All the little fingers were sorry, and helped to rub it briskly so as to make it well, which they really did. After this she climbed up slower and shook all the nuts down, so that it sounded like hail. At last the bag was full to the very top; they all took hold and pulled, it was so very heavy. When they reached home they were very tired, but when winter came and the ground was all covered with snow and Jack Frost painted the windows and all the flowers were asleep, then they all sat around the worm fire, cracked nuts and told stories and had a splendid time. Don't you wish you had been there to hear the tales and eat walnuts? I'm sure I wish so.
There are five little fingers on each little hand;
There are five jolly holidays all through the land:
There is St. Valentine's day, to count on your thumb;
There is Fourth of July, to have great fun;
There is Thanksgiving for joyous play;
Then Christmas comes for me and for you,
While Happy New year, How do you do?
Ten true friends you have
Who, five in a row,
Upon each side of you,
Go where you go.
Suppose you are sleepy,
They help you to bed;
Suppose you are hungry,
They see that you're fed.
They wake up your dolly,
And put on her clothes;
And trundle her carriage,
Wherever she goes.
They buckle your slate strap,
And haul out your sled;
Are in summer quite white,
And in winter quite red.
And these ten tiny fellows,
They serve you with ease;
And ask nothing from you,
But work hard, to please.
Now, with ten willing servants,
So trusty and true,
Pray who would be lazy
Or idleŚwould you?
Would you find out the name,
Of this kind little band?
Then count up the fingers
On each little hand.
A Fictional Short Story by
Agnes Taylor Ketchum & Ida M. Jorgensen