Short Stories » A Fable

A Fable - Page 1 of 2

Showing the Descent of Ignoble Pride and the Elevation of Humble Merit.

SAID a clean plate to a dish-cloth, as it leaned back with an indolent air of superiority against the cupboard wall : " Dear me, how you look ! Move away from me, I request you."

"Ah me!" sighed the dish-cloth, " I once was a piece of cloth, unbroken, and as white as you. It is the keeping you tidy that has brought me to this complexion. I can remember when, after clearing away the distresses that clouded your face, how you have beamed brightly upon me. Think of the many times I have gone through hot and cold water for you. What would you soon look like without me? "

" Oh," replied the plate, " dish-cloths are plenty enough, there's no trouble about that; besides, what have you done more than your duty ? Were it not for plates, what need would there be of dish-cloths ? You owe your very existence to the fact of our having a use for you. Be content to fill your proper sphere without repining, and consider it sufficient honor. Your labors are not arduous; we plates bear the burdens and represent your class for you; our very appearance is an acknowledgment that dish- cloths are an auxiliary of our private life. Be assured you are where you belong ; what else could you have been, anyway ? "

Said the meek dish-cloth : " I find that I have several answers to make to what you have just spoken. In simply doing my duty I have been plunged into nauseous floods of dish-water, twisted and wrung in every fiber of my frame, and then shaken almost to pieces before I wiped your face, and, after all my tortures and labors, have hung patiently and conveniently near you on a nail ready at an instant's notice to attend you again. As to owing my existence to the fact of there being china in the world, that is scarcely positive. I was descended from the notable family of Flax, and took the preparatory degrees of my class with care and exactitude. I might have become a sheet or a pillow-case. Some of my cousins are fine towels and wear the finest borders and fringes, and wait upon the faces of persons instead of plates. Still others of the Flax family are fine table-napery, and continually mingle among the most distinguished company. A distant branch of our family belongs to the high order of handkerchiefs and laces, and the elegance of their appearance and belongings is seldom surpassed v Although I seldom appear out of this sphere of action, my ideas are not confined to it, and on wash-days, thanks to the laundress, the fresh air and sunshine refresh me and help me to bear my retired life with, I think, sufficient composure. But for your lofty manner and unkind salutation just now, I would have made no reference to the unpleasant conditions of a monotonous life."

Just here a honeysuckle and a climbing rose on opposite sides of the open window nodded their heads at each other and threw a breath of their sweetest perfume into the patient dish-cloth, and looked their very brightest and sweetest toward it. A humming- bird darted angrily back and forth, and seemed to be trying to drown the buzzing questions of a pompous bumble-bee with his own noise, and a morning-glory vine rung her bells as if calling them to order. A wandering, pirouetting flirt of a whirlwind waltzed by just then, fairly near enough to stir the skirts of the dish-cloth, but the noise startled the dozing cat, who, exclaiming, " Mouse! " jumped from the cook's chair. This sudden movement jarred the cupboard a little, and, to its dismay, the plate, still in a lounging attitude, lost its equilibrium, and, staggering vainly, was next moment seen flat on its back, with the noonday sun glaring hotly in its face.

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