Gateway to the Classics: Firelight Stories by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
Firelight Stories by  Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

The Discontented Coffee Pot

O NCE upon a time there was an old cook, who lived in a very fine kitchen. There were chives growing in the window, and pots and kettles of all sorts and sizes hanging upon the wall. There was a shining copper kettle on the stove, and upon the shelf stood the big black coffee pot, and the fat blue cream pitcher. One day, the old cook washed the windows, and swept and scoured the floor, and then sifted fine white sand in beautiful trailing patterns all over it. She polished her stove until she could see her own face in it. Then she sat down by the fire with a pan of rosy apples in her lap and began paring them. On the floor the apple parings fell, and they coiled and coiled about the old cook's feet, and they piled up higher and higher. The tea kettle bubbled on the stove and the old cook's head began to nod. The apple parings piled higher and higher until they came up to her lap, she thought, and she nidded and nodded, and at last the old cook was fast asleep.

Then there was, all at once, a rattling of handles among the pots and kettles upon the wall. The tea kettle took off his cover politely to the green chives upon the window sill, and on the shelf the black coffee pot tripped over to the fat blue cream pitcher and leaned against its handle in a friendly manner, as he sighed through his spout and said sadly:—

"Nothing but coffee, nothing but coffee the whole year long."

"Nothing but milk, nothing but milk," sighed the fat blue cream pitcher in reply.

"Look at the blue bowl," said the discontented coffee pot, "cake dough, and crullers, and pretzels."

"And the platter," said the fat blue cream pitcher, "venison and sausages."

"I think I will fetch me a bit of venison to hold," said the discontented coffee pot.

"What a wonderful creature you are," said the fat blue cream pitcher; "could you buy me a bit of sausage to hold at the same time?"

"I will certainly try," said the coffee pot, as he leaned carefully over the edge of the shelf, and started to jump to the floor.

But the tea kettle had heard them, and he sputtered and bubbled his disapproval.

"Don't do it, don't do it," he said. "It's against the order of the kitchen. No coffee pot and cream pitcher ever did such a thing before."

"Well," said the fat cream pitcher, "perhaps you are right after all. Milk I have held, and milk I must hold until I crack. Never mind the sausage, friend coffee pot."

But the coffee pot was not like minded. He toppled off the shelf and went rattling across the floor to the pantry as if he did not hear the tea kettle still groaning, "It's against the order of things, the order of the kitchen, and no good will come of it."

Now the venison was all gone from the pantry. The coffee pot looked about, under shelves and on top of shelves. He poked his nose in the sugar barrel, and at last he saw on the blue platter a fine long link of sausages.

"Now I shall hold sausage," said the discontented coffee pot. "At last I shall have something different."

So he opened his cover, and he swallowed the sausages, and rattled back across the kitchen and climbed to his shelf again.

Then there arose such a clatter in the kitchen because of the unusual thing that the coffee pot had done. The cream pitcher and the tea kettle told every one, and there began such a rattling of lids and covers, and dancing of china plates that it seemed as if all the dishes would be broken, and because of all the noise, the old cook awoke.

"It is nearly tea time," she said. "What a din the wind in the chimney makes. We must have sausage for supper."

So she finished paring her apples, and spread the fine white cloth on the table, and set out the plates and cups and forks, and then she went to the pantry for the sausages, but, ah, you know where they were!

"Where are my sausages? Naughty pussy; scat," and she sent the house cat outside. "Alas, we shall have nothing but pretzels for supper."

So that was all they had, while the coffee pot sat on the shelf and felt very proud and held his sausages all tightly.

But, listen to what is the end of the story. When it came morning, it was time for the coffee pot to be filled.

"Now I shall be set on the stove, and my sausages will be cooked," said the coffee pot, but that did not come to pass.

"What is the meaning of this?" said the old cook, as she lifted his lid and pulled out the links. She rubbed her eyes.

"The brownie was about while I napped yesterday afternoon," she said, "and he has been meddling with the coffee pot. It must be well scoured, and it cannot be used for a month after having sausage inside."

So that was all that came of the matter.

The coffee pot was scoured and scoured and polished as he had never been cleaned before, and for a month he sat on the shelf with his lid up to let in the air, and holding nothing, while the tea kettle sputtered away:—

"It was against the order of the kitchen, no good could come of it."

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