A fair lady had thrown down
her shoe buttoner beside a hair
pin on her dressing table.
    The sight of the new comer seemed
to incense the hairpin greatly.
    "I think you have a vast deal of assumption
to come here," it said coldly.  "You belong
in the shoe box on the floor.  You are quite
out of your station here on the dressing
table with refined society."
    "I belong wherever my lady places
me," said the button hook meekly.
"I did not seek to in-
trude, but if she
thinks me worthy of lying here, I am sure I must be so."
    "Indeed!" exclaimed the hair pin ironically.  "Well, you
are putting on a wonderful amount of dignity, I must say, for
such a crooked thing!  Your shape is enough to declare your
plebeian origin!  Any one would know you were made to
serve.  Now look at my straight limbs!  You can see I am
intended for no such low uses as you are put to."
    "We are all servants of our fair mistress," replied the
button hook, "and I feel that my duties are as noble as yours.
I consider myself greatly honored whenever I button up
her trim little boots, over her pretty feet."
    "Oh, that does very well for sentiment, but you know as
well as I do, that it is a menial service compared to that of
catching up a strand of her beautiful hair the way I do,"
continued the hair pin loftily.
    "Well, when you come to boasting about your duties, I
think you have no more to be proud of than the button hook!"
spoke a voice from the powder-box.
    "It is I who am on familiar and affectionate terms with
our lady.  I pat her brow and her dear little nose, and caress
her soft cheeks, every day."
    "Oh, you have always been puffed up with pride, you
silly vain thing," cried the hair pin.  "I never could endure
living with you so near me, were it not that I am absent from
you all day.  I am the only one of whom my mistress thinks
enough to take with her, I notice.  She allows me to go into
the choicest society and is never separated from me ex-
cept at night.  The rest of you only see her now and then,
while I am her constant companion."
    Oh, that is not wholly true," responded the powder puff.
 "My little particles go with her, and have a far better chance
to see and be seen than you do, hidden in her hair as you
always are."
    "Well, if I am hidden it is not because she is ashamed of
me," retorted the hair pin, "and she certainly is ashamed of
her acquaintance with you.  After she has allowed you to
touch her face, she always takes a handkerchief and brushes
off her cheeks, as if to remove your false caresses! and she
looks in the mirror, and if she sees a trace of you, she
whisks it off with great care, and often puts on a little veil
to hide you more completely.  I would be mortified to death
if she showed such a feeling toward me.  As for that crooked-
over button hook, she regards him as a mere servant to be
used and tossed aside.  The facts are, you see, that I am her
only friend and equal."
    Just then the lady came into the room, accompanied by
her little daughter.
    "Mama," said the little girl, "I have lost my button hook.
Will you lend me yours?"
    "No, dear," replied the mother, "for you are always los-
ing the button hooks, and this one is a favorite of mine,
which I should feel sorry to part with.  Take this hair pin;
it is a strong one and will serve quite as well.  And if that
gets lost it does not matter, as I have enough others just
like it."
    So the proud hair pin went to serve in the very capacity
which it had deemed so menial.

The Beautiful Land of Nod by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: Morrill, Higgins & Co. [1892]

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