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Sallie Hicks's Forefinger

from Sandman's Goodnight Stories





Sallie Hicks was a little girl who was good most of the time, but she
had one bad habit, and that was caused by her forefinger on her right
hand.

Sallie's right-hand forefinger would get into things it should not, and
it caused Sallie's mother a great deal of trouble, and most of Sallie's
punishments were on account of that unruly right-hand-forefinger.

One day Sallie's mother set a dish of hot jelly on the kitchen table to
cool. She told Sallie it was hot and she must not touch it.

But no sooner was her mother out of the kitchen and the cook's head was
turned another way than Sallie Hicks forgot all about her mother's
warning, and the naughty right-hand forefinger went right into the hot
jelly.

Oh, how Sallie screamed with pain! And she forgot all about putting
the forefinger in her mouth to taste the jelly, it burned her so.

The big tears ran right down Sallie's pretty pink cheeks, and her
mother and grandmother, and cook, too, came running to see what was the
matter.

The little forefinger told the story, and it had to be wrapped in some
cooling salve and a soft piece of linen.

"I told you that some day you would get that finger burned," said her
mother, "and now because you disobeyed me you must sit in the big chair
in the hall until lunch time and not speak to anyone. I want you to
think about that naughty finger."

Sallie's grandmother passed her in the hall and leaned over and kissed
her. "I am sorry that grandmother's little girl was so naughty," she
said. "Good little girls mind their mothers and they don't get burnt
fingers."

Sallie watched her grandmother go upstairs and then Sallie looked at
the picture hanging on the wall of her great-grandmother.

"I wonder if Grandmother Great ever had to punish grandmother," thought
Sallie. "I wonder if grandmothers were always very good little girls?"

Sallie looked at her Grandfather Great, too, and wondered how it was
that, though the Greats were the father and mother of her own dear
grandmother, they had nice black hair, all smooth and shiny, while her
grandmother and grandfather, too, had white hair.

Sallie looked at the forefinger all wrapped about with the white cloth,
and she thought how dreadful it would be to have her finger big and
long as it looked now. Then she looked at Grandmother Great again and
her eyes seemed to be looking right at that little burnt forefinger.

Sallie put her right hand behind her, but the eyes of Grandmother Great
looked right at Sallie.

Sallie winked her eyes and looked again, for she thought her
Grandmother Great smiled at her. Sallie looked hard at the picture,
and Grandmother Great seemed to shake her head at Sallie.

"Didn't your little girl ever do anything naughty with her forefinger?"
asked Sallie.

Grandmother Great smiled. "I had several little girls once, but they
were all good little girls," said Grandmother Great.

"Always, every bit of the time?" questioned Sallie.

"Yes; I cannot remember now that they ever did anything naughty," said
Grandmother Great. "But you know, dear, it was a long time ago. I had
my little girls a very long time ago."

"Perhaps you forget when it is a long time ago," said Sallie. "Didn't
your little girls ever put their forefinger in anything just to taste
it?"

"Oh dear, yes; I remember now that your grandmother did put her
forefinger, the right-hand forefinger it was, too, in the wheel of the
wringer once to see what would happen," said Grandmother Great.

"Did she cry?" asked Sallie.

"Oh dear, yes, poor little girlie; she cried, and I was so frightened I
cried, too. Her poor little finger never grew quite as it should at
the end," said Grandmother Great, with a sigh.

"Do mothers cry when little girls get burnt putting their fingers into
things they should not?" asked Sallie.

"Of course they do, my dear. Mothers have many a cry over their little
girls when they are naughty," said Grandmother Great.

"I don't want mother to cry," said Sallie.

"Of course you don't, my dear," said Grandmother Great. "So you will
not put your finger in anything again, will you?"

Before Sallie could promise her Grandmother Great she would be a good
little girl she heard some one say, "Sallie, Sallie, come to lunch."

Sallie opened her eyes, for she had been asleep, dreaming all this
time, and there stood her mother in the doorway.

"Mother, do mothers forget how naughty their little girls were when
they grow up?" asked Sallie.

"I think so," said her mother. "I hope you will be so good before you
grow up that I shall forget how naughty you were this morning."

"Grandmother Great told me mothers did forget their little girls were
naughty ever, after they grew up," said Sallie.

"You mean your grandmother told you; not Grandmother Great," said
Sallie's mother. "You never saw Grandmother Great, dear."

"Well, she told me so just now," said Sallie, "and she said, too, that
grandmother put her finger in the wheel of the wringing machine once,
and that she cried because grandmother, who was her little girl then,
cried, and was hurt."

"What is the child talking about?" said Sallie's mother.

"She has been asleep and dreamed it," said Sallie's grandmother, taking
Sallie in her arms. "I showed her my forefinger where it was hurt when
I was a little girl and told her she must look out for her forefinger
or she might get it terribly hurt just as I did.

"Did you think the picture of Grandmother Great spoke to you?" she
asked Sallie, holding her close in her arms.

"She did," said Sallie, "and she said mothers always cried when their
little girls are naughty. Oh, mother dear, I don't want to make you
cry, and I won't put my finger in anything again, truly I won't!"
sobbed Sallie.

"She isn't half awake yet," said her grandmother as Sallie's mother
took her in her arms and kissed her.

Sallie kept her promise, even if she did dream about Grandmother Great
talking to her, and the right-hand forefinger did not get her into any
more trouble.

Sallie Hicks often looks at the portraits in the hall of Grandmother
and Grandfather Great, but Grandmother Great never has spoken to her
since that day. But Sallie Hicks smiles at her and sometimes the eyes
seem to smile back, and Sallie wonders if they really do.





Next: The Rain Elves

Previous: The Revenge Of The Fireflies



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