THE DOWNFALL OF A PROUD FORK

    A Knife, a Fork, and a Spoon were thrown together upon
the kitchen table by a careless servant.  The Fork eyed his
companions with disdain, and began talking in a very patron-
izing manner.
    "How dreadfully dull you must find life, now that you are
so out of the swim!" he said to the Spoon.
    "Why, in what way do you mean that I am out of the
swim?" queried the Spoon in a quiet voice.
    "Oh, you are comparatively little used nowadays," an-
swered the Fork, loftily.  "Time was when the knife, fork,
and spoon were quite important in their way, but now the
fork is the only really necessary table implement."
    "How perfectly absurd such a statement is!" cried the
Knife, indignantly.  "But it is quite like your egotism.  Who
ever heard you mentioned save as second to me? 'A knife
and a fork' people say, never 'a fork and a knife.'  That
shows where your place is in the estimation of the public."
    "Oh, that is merely a habit of speech into which people
have fallen," returned the Fork.  "It does not alter facts.
You very well know that you often lie unnoticed and unused
through an entire dinner, or until the cheese comes on.  In-
deed, yesterday you were left in the drawer, while I did the
honors of a luncheon that our mistress gave to a friend."
    "You forget," gently interposed the Spoon; "I was there,
and I saw the lady look about as if seeking something.  I am
quite sure she missed you"--addressing the Knife with a
sympathetic air which showed her good breeding.  "I once
heard a lady remark that one felt very uncomfortable at table
without a knife, whether one needed it or not."
    "I would rather my absence than my presence were re-
gretted," cried the Knife, fairly glistening with rage, and
casting a cutting glance at the Fork.
    "Oh, well, when you are wanted, it is to prepare things for
me.  You are a sort of under-servant to make things easy for
me," said the Fork, aggravatingly, and adding, "I am the
only one who can be called a real table aristocrat."
    "I am sure your family is much newer than mine" retorted
the Knife.  "I can trace my pedigree back as far as history
goes.  That is more than you can do."
    "Yes; but if you go back very far, you find that your an-
cestors were mere butchers.  I should not want such a pedi-
gree myself.  I should much prefer to be recent and refined,
like the Fork family."
    "And I do not know why you should try to hold your head
above the Spoon," continued the Knife, now in turn defend-
ing his sympathetic companion.  "Who ever heard of a
souvenir fork? and the whole world is mad a about souvenir
spoons."
    This threw the Fork into terrible wrath, and he began to
make a great noise and fuss, when the mistress entered the
kitchen.
    "What is all this rattling of the silver that I hear, Bridget?"
she asked, and immediately she cried out: "Oh, here you have
thrown a fork down with a knife and spoon.  I have told you
over and over again not to do that.  Just see how the knife
and spoon are scratched by the fork!  This pearl-handled
knife was one of a set given me as a wedding present, and
this spoon is an heirloom.  I value them both highly.  By-the-
way, I see that the plate is wearing off this fork, Bridget.
You may put it amongst the cooking utensils.  It got in
among the solid silver by mistake."
    So the proud Fork was thereafter kept in a kitchen-drawer,
and put to menial uses.  It never again appeared among the
silver and cut glass.

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


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