A penny, having traveled around the world a bit, became
very proud and conceited.  "I belong to the peerless aristoc-
racy of money," it said to itself and to all who would listen.
"There is no one who does not bend the knee to my family;
we are sought after by the proudest people on earth and we
rule the world."
    One day the penny was talking in this strain to an iron nail.
The nail and the penny chanced to rest side by side in a
workman's pocket.  The man was a carpenter who had been
engaged to complete some work upon the balcony of a new
house.  His wife was busily engaged scrubbing the floors and
cleaning the windows of the new house.
    "It must be very dull and humiliating to be a nail," said
the penny.  "You are obliged to occupy such a menial po-
sition in life."
    "Oh, I do not know about that," answered the nail. "We
nails help to hold homes together, and that is a noble mission,
I am sure; and whatever our niche in life may be, we realize
that we belong to the great iron race--we are proud of the
stuff we are made of."
    "Oh, as to that, you have little to boast about," sneered
the penny.  "Think of my family--the proudest and greatest
on earth.  We could buy yours up and pitch you into the sea
if we cared to do so, and the world would go on without you.
Men would invent something to take your place.  But society
could not exist without us."
    "But you are a mere nobody in your own family," retorted
the nail, becoming angry.  "Your gold and silver relations
look down on you, common copper that you are."
    "O, it is mere spleen which makes you talk like that," re-
plied the penny.  "You know very well that it is taking good
care of me and treating me well that gives men a chance to
possess my grand relatives.  Anyone who despises me is
never the associate of silver or gold.  I am welcomed in
every circle, I am petted and sought after wherever I go.
Already I have traveled over half the world.  My life is full
of adventure and excitement.  Although now I am housed
in an obscure workman's pocket, to-morrow I may be repos-
ing in the purse of a prince.  No such future awaits you.
You are doomed to an obscure and hum-drum existence."
    Just then the workman's wife complained that she could
not remove the paint stains from the window she was attempt-
ing to clean.
    "Why, let me tell you how to do that," said the workman.
"A painter told me only the other day.  Take a penny under
your thumb and rub it over the paint spots.  They will all
disappear.  It is far better than a knife.  Here is a penny--
try it."
    He took the boastful penny from his pocket, and the woman
did as directed.
    The paint disappeared as if by magic.
    "I am so glad to know about this," said the woman.  "I
will keep this penny with my scrub-brushes and scouring
cloths, that I may always be prepared for such an emergency."
    And thereafter the proud penny remained with the scrub-
brushes, while the nail was afterward used to fasten a United
States banner to the mast of a ship.

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

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