The Pumpkin Glory

The Pumpkin Glory

The papa had told the story so often that the children knew just exactly what to expect

the moment he began. They all knew it as well as he knew it himself, and they could

keep him from making mistakes or forgetting. Sometimes he would go wrong on

purpose or would pretend to forget, and then they had a perfect right to pound him till

he quit it. He usually quits pretty soon.

The children liked it because it was very exciting, and at the same time, it had no moral,

so when it was all over, they could feel that they had not been excited just for

the moral. The first time the little girl heard it, she began to cry when it came

to the worst part; but the boy had heard it so much by that time that he did not mind it

in the least and just laughed.

The story was in season any time between Thanksgiving and New Year, but the papa

usually began to tell it in the early part of October, when the farmers were getting in

their pumpkins, the children were asking when they were going to have any squash

pies and the boy had made his first jack-o’-lantern.

“Well,” the papa said, “once there were two little pumpkin seeds, and one was a good little pumpkin seed, and the other was bad–very proud, vain, and ambitious.”

The papa had told them what ambition was, and so the children did not stop him

when he came to that word; but sometimes he would stop of his own accord, and then

if they could not tell what it meant, he would pretend that he was not going on;

but he always did go on.

Well, the farmer took both the seeds out to plant them in the home patch because

they were a significantly extra kind of seeds, and he was not going to risk them

in the cornfield, among the corn. So before he put them on the ground, he asked each

one of them what he wanted to be when he came up, and the good little pumpkin seed

said he wanted to come up a pumpkin, and be made into a pie, and be eaten

at Thanksgiving dinner, and the bad little pumpkin seed said he wanted to come up

a morning glory.

“‘Morning glory!’ says the farmer. ‘I guess you’ll come up a pumpkin glory, the first thing you know,’

and then he haw-hawed and told his son, who was helping him to plant the garden,

to keep watch of that particular hill of pumpkins and see whether that little seed

came up a morning glory or not, and the boy stuck a stick into the hill so he could tell it.

But one night, the cow got in, and the farmer was so mad, having to get up about one

o’clock in the morning to drive the cow out, that he pulled up the stick without notice,

to whack her over the back with it, and so they lost the place.

But the two little pumpkin seeds, they knew where they were well enough, and they lay

low, and let the rain and the sun soak in and swell them up, and then they both began

to push, and by and by they got their heads out of the ground, with their shells down

over their eyes like caps, and as soon as they could shake them off and look around,

the bad little pumpkin vine said to his brother:

“‘Well, what are you going to do now?’

“The good little pumpkin vine said, ‘Oh, I’m just going to stay here, and grow and grow, and put out all the blossoms I can, and let them all drop off but one, and then grow that into the biggest and fattest and sweetest pumpkin that ever was for Thanksgiving pies.’

“‘Well, that’s what I am going to do, too,’ said the bad little pumpkin vine, ‘all but the pies, but I’m not going to stay here to do it. I’m going to that fence over there, where the morning glories were last summer, and I’m going to show them what a pumpkin glory is like. I’m just going to cover myself with blossoms, and blossoms that won’t shut up, either, when the sun comes out but will stay open as if they hadn’t anything to be ashamed of, and that won’t drop off the first day, either. I noticed those morning glories all last summer when I was nothing but one of the blossoms myself, and I just made up my mind that as soon as ever I got to be a vine, I would show them a thing or two. Maybe I can’t be a morning glory, but I can be a pumpkin glory, and I guess that’s glory enough.’

It made the cold chills run over the good little vine to hear its brother talk like that,

and it begged him not to do it, and it began to cry–

“What’s that?” The papa stopped short, and the boy stopped whispering in his sister’s ear, and she answered:

“He said he bet it was a girl!” The tears stood in her eyes, and the boy said:

“Well, anyway, it was like a girl.”

“Very well, sir!” said the papa. “And supposing it was? Which is better: to stay quietly at home, and do your duty, and grow up, and be eaten in a pie at Thanksgiving, or go gadding all over the garden, and climbing fences, and everything? The good little pumpkin vine was perfectly right, and the bad little pumpkin would have been saved a good deal if it had minded its little sister.

The farmer was pretty busy that summer, and after the first two or three hoeings,

he had to leave the two pumpkin vines to the boy that had helped him to plant the seed,

and the boy had to go fishing so much, and then in swimming, that he perfectly

neglected them and let them run wild if they wanted to, and if the good little pumpkin

vine had not been the best little pumpkin vine that ever was; it would have run wild.

But it just stayed where it was, and thickened up, and covered itself with blossoms,

till it was like one mass of gold. It was very fond of all its blossoms, and it couldn’t bear

hardly to think of losing any of them, but it knew they couldn’t ever grow up to be

a very large pumpkin, and so it lets them gradually drop off till it only had one left,

and then it just gave all its attention to that one and did everything it could to make it

grow into the kind of pumpkin it said it would.

“All this time, the bad little pumpkin vine was carrying out its plan of being a pumpkin

glory. In the first place, it found out that if it expected to get through by fall, it couldn’t

fool much, putting out a lot of blossoms and waiting for them to drop off before it

began to devote itself to business. The fence was a good piece off, and it had to reach

the fence in the first place, for there wouldn’t be any fun in being a pumpkin glory down

where nobody could see you or anything. So the bad little pumpkin vine began to pull

and stretch towards the fence, and sometimes it thought it would surely snap in two;

it pulled and stretched so hard. But besides the pulling and stretching, it had to hide

and go around because if it had been seen, it wouldn’t have been allowed to go

to the fence. It was a good thing there were so many weeds that the boy was too lazy

to pull up, and the bad little pumpkin vine could hide among them. But then they were

a good deal of a hindrance, too, because they were so thick, it could hardly get through

them. It had to pass some rows of peas that were perfectly awful; they tied themselves

to it and tried to keep it back, and there was one hill of cucumbers that acted

ridiculously; they said it was a cucumber vine running away from home, and they would

have kept it from going any farther if it hadn’t tugged with all its might and main

and got away one night when the cucumbers were sleeping; it was pretty strong,

anyway. When it got to the fence, at last, it thought it was going to die. It was all pulled

out so thin that it wasn’t any thicker than a piece of twine in some places,

and its leaves just hung in tatters. It hadn’t had time to put out more than one blossom,

and that was such a poor little sickly thing that it could hardly hang on. The question

was, How can a pumpkin vine climb a fence, anyway?

“Its knees and elbows were all worn to strings getting there, or that’s what the pumpkin

thought, till it wound one of those tendrils around a splinter of the fence, without

thinking, and happened to pull, and then it was perfectly surprising to find that

it seemed to lift itself off the ground a little.

It said to itself, ‘Let’s try a few more,’ and it twisted some more of the tendrils around

some more splinters, and this time it fairly lifted itself off the ground.

It said, ‘Ah, I see!’ as if it had somehow expected to do something of the kind all along,

but it had to be pretty careful getting up the fence not to knock its blossom off, f

or that would have been the end of it, and when it did get up in the morning

glories, it almost killed the poor thing, keeping it open night and day, showing it off

in the hottest sun, and not giving it a bit of shade, but just holding it out where it could

be seen the whole time. It wasn’t very much of a blossom compared with the blossoms

on the good little pumpkin vine, but it was bigger than any of the morning glories,

and that was some satisfaction, and the bad little pumpkin vine was as proud

as if it was the largest blossom in the world.

When the blossom’s leaves dropped off, and a little pumpkin began to grow in its place,

the vine did everything it could for it; just gave itself up to it and put all its strength

into it. After all, it was a pretty queer-looking pumpkin, though. It had to grow hanging

down and not resting on anything, and after it started with a round head, like other

pumpkins, its neck began to pull out, and pull out, till it looked like a gourd or a big

pear. That’s the way it looked in the fall, hanging from the vine on the fence when

the first light frost came and killed the vine. It was the day when the farmer was

gathering his pumpkins in the cornfield, and he just happened to remember the seeds

he had planted in the home patch, and he got out of his wagon to see what had

become of them. He was perfectly astonished to see the size of the good little

pumpkin; you could hardly get it into a bushel basket, and he gathered it, sent it

to the county fair, and took the first premium with it.

“How much was the premium?” asked the boy. He yawned; he had heard all these facts

so often before.


It was fifty cents, but you see, the farmer had to pay two dollars to get a chance

to try for the premium at the fair, and so it was some satisfaction. Anyway, he took

the premium, and he tried to sell the pumpkin, and when he couldn’t, he brought

it home and told his wife they must have it for Thanksgiving. The boy had gathered

the bad little pumpkin and kept it from being fed to the cow; it was so funny-looking,

and the day before Thanksgiving, the farmer found it in the barn, and he said,

“‘Hollo! Here’s that little fool pumpkin. Wonder if it thinks it’s a morning glory yet?’

“And the boy said, ‘Oh, father, may I have it?’

“And the father said, ‘Guess so. What are you going to do with it?’

But the boy didn’t tell because he was going to keep it as a surprise, but as soon as his

father went out of the barn, he picked up the bad little pumpkin by its long neck,

and he kind of balanced it before him, and he said, ‘Well, now, I’m going to make

a pumpkin glory out of you!


And when the bad little pumpkin heard that, all its seeds fairly rattled in it for joy.

The boy took out his knife, and the first thing the pumpkin knew, he was cutting a kind

of the lid off the top of it; it was like getting scalped, but the pumpkin didn’t mind it

because it was just the same as war. And when the boy got the top off, he poured

the seeds out and began to scrape the inside as thin as he could without breaking

through. It hurt awfully, and nothing but the hope of being a pumpkin glory could have

kept the little pumpkin quiet; but it didn’t say a word, even after the boy had made

a mouth for it, with two rows of splendid teeth, and it didn’t cry with either of the eyes

he made for it; just winked at him with one of them, and twisted its mouth to one side,

so as to let him know it was in the joke; and the first thing it did when it got one was

to turn up its nose at the good little pumpkin, which the boy’s mother came

into the barn to get.

“Show how it looked,” said the boy.

And the papa twisted his mouth, winked with one eye, and wrinkled his nose

till the little girl begged him to stop. Then he went on.

The boy hid the bad pumpkin behind him till his mother was gone because he didn’t

want her in secret, and then he slipped into the house and put it under his bed.

It was pretty lonesome up there in the boy’s room–he slept in the garret, and there was

nothing but broken furniture besides his bed; but all day long, it could smell the good

little pumpkin, boiling and boiling for pies; and late at night, after the boy had gone

to sleep, it could smell the hot pies when they came out of the oven.

They smelt splendid, but the bad little pumpkin didn’t envy them a bit; it just said,

‘Pooh! What’s twenty pumpkin pies to one pumpkin glory?'”

“It ought to have said ‘what is,’ oughtn’t it, papa?” asked the little girl.

“It certainly ought,” said the papa. “But if nothing but its grammar had been bad, there wouldn’t have been much to complain about it.”

“I don’t suppose it had ever heard much good grammar from the farmer’s family,” suggested the boy. “Farmers always say cowcumbers instead of cucumbers.”

“Oh, do tell us about the Cucumber, and the Bullcumber, and the little Calfcumbers, papa!” the little girl entreated, and she clasped her hands to show how anxious she was.

“What! And leave off at the most exciting part of the pumpkin glory?”

The little girl saw what a mistake she had made; the boy just gave her one look, and she cowered down into the papa’s lap, and the papa went on.

“Well, they had an extra big Thanksgiving at the farmer’s that day. Lots of the relations

came from out West; the grandmother, who was living with the farmer, was getting

pretty old, and every year or two, she thought she wasn’t going to live very much longer,

and she wrote to the relations in Wisconsin and everywhere that if they expected

to see her alive again, they had better come this time and bring all their families.

She kept doing it till she was about ninety, and then she just concluded to live alone

and not mind how old she was. But this was just before her eighty-ninth birthday,

and she had drummed up so many sons and sons-in-law, and daughters and

daughters-in-law, and grandsons and great-grandsons, and granddaughters

and great-granddaughters, that the house was perfectly packed with them.

They had to sleep on the floor, a good many of them, and you could hardly

step for them; the boys slept in the barn, and they laughed and cut up so the whole

night that the roosters thought it was morning and kept crowing till they made

their throats sore and had to wear wet compresses around them every night for

a week afterward.”

When the papa said anything like this, the children had a right to pound him,

but they were so anxious not to have him stop that this time they did not do it.

They said, “Go on, go on!” and the little girl said, “And then the tables!”

“Tables? Well, I should think so! They got all the tables there were in the house,

upstairs and down for dinner Thanksgiving Day, and they took the grandmother’s

work-stand and put it at the head, and she sat down there; only she was so used

to knitting by that table that she kept looking for her knitting needles all through dinner

and couldn’t seem to remember what it was she was missing. The other end

of the table was the carpenter’s bench that they brought out of the barn, and they put

the youngest and funniest papa at that. The tables stretched from the kitchen into

the dining room and cleared through that out into the hall and across into the parlor.

They hadn’t tablecloths enough to go the whole length, and the end of the carpenter’s

bench, where the funniest papa sat, was bare, and all through dinner time, he kept

making fun. The vise was right at the corner, and when he got his help of turkey,

he pretended that it was so tough he had to fasten the bone in the vise and cut

the meat off with his knife like a draw-shave.”

“It was the drumstick, I suppose, papa?” said the boy. “A turkey’s drumstick is all full of little wooden splinters, anyway.”

“And what did the mamma say?” asked the little girl.


“Oh, she kept saying, ‘Now you behave!’ and, ‘Well, I should think you’d be ashamed!’

But the funniest papa didn’t mind her a bit, and everybody laughed till they could hardly

stand it. All this time, the boys were out in the barn, waiting for the second table

and playing around. The farmer’s boy went up to his room over the woodshed, got in

at the garret window, and brought out the pumpkin glory. Only he began to slip when

he was coming down the roof, and he’d have slipped clear off if he hadn’t caught

his trousers on a shingle nail and stuck. It made a pretty bad tear, but the other boys

pinned it up so that it wouldn’t show, and the pumpkin glory wasn’t hurt a bit.

They all said that it was about the best jack-o’-lantern they had almost ever seen

on account of the long neck, there was to it, and they made a plan to stick the end

of the neck into the top of the pump and have fun hearing what the folks would say

when they came out after dark and saw it all lit up, and then they noticed the pigpen

at the corner of the barn, and began to plague the pig, and so many of them got up

on the pen that they broke the middle board off; and they didn’t like to nail it on again

because it was Thanksgiving Day, and you mustn’t hammer or anything; so they just

stuck it up in its place with a piece of wood against it, and the boy said he would fix it

in the morning.

“The grown folks stayed so long at the table that it was nearly dark when the boys got

to it, and they would have been almost starved if the farm boy hadn’t brought out

apples and doughnuts every little while. As it was, they were pretty hungry,

and they began on the pumpkin pie at once so as to keep eating till the mother

and the other mothers that were helping could get some of the things out of the oven

that they had been keeping hot for the boys. The pie was so nice that they kept eating

at it all along, and the mother told them about the good little pumpkin that it was made

of and how the good little pumpkin had never had any wish from the time it was

nothing but a seed except to grow up and be made into pies and eaten at

Thanksgiving and they must all try to be good, too, and grow up and do likewise.

The boys didn’t say anything because their mouths were so full, but they looked at

each other and winked their left eyes. There were about forty or fifty of them, and when

they all winked their left eyes, it made it so dark you could hardly see, and the mother

got the lamp, but the other mothers saw what the boys were doing, and they just shook

them till they opened their eyes and stopped their mischief.”

“Show how they looked!” said the boy.

“I can’t show how fifty boys looked,” said the papa. “But they looked a good deal like

the pumpkin glory that was waiting quietly in the barn for them to get through

and come out and have some fun with it. When they had all eaten so much that

they could hardly stand up; they got down from the table, grabbed their hats,

and started for the door. But they had to go out the back way because the table took

up the front entry, and that gave the farmer’s boy a chance to find a piece of the candle

out in the kitchen and some matches, and then they rushed to the barn.

It was so dark there already that they thought they had better light up the pumpkin

glory and try it. They lit it up, and it worked splendidly, but they forgot to put out

the match, and it caught some straw on the barn floor and a little more, and it would

have burnt the barn down. The boys stamped the fire out in about half a second,

and after that, they waited till it was dark outside before they lit up the pumpkin glory

again. Then they all bent down over it to keep the wind from blowing the match

anywhere, and pretty soon, it was lit up, and the farmer’s boy took the pumpkin glory

by its long neck and stuck the point in the hole in the top of the pump, and just then

the funniest papa came round the corner of the wood-house and said:

“‘What have you got there, boys? Jack-o’-lantern? Well, well. That’s a good one!’

“He came up and looked at the pumpkin glory, and he bent back, and he bent forward,

and he doubled down, and he straightened up, and laughed till the boys thought

he was going to kill himself.

“They had all intended to burst into an Indian yell and dance around the pumpkin glory,

but the funniest papa said, ‘Now all you fellows keep still half a minute,’ and the next

thing they knew, he ran into the house and came out, walking his wife before him

with both his hands over her eyes. Then the boys saw he was going to have some fun

with her, and they kept as still as mice and waited till he walked her up to the pumpkin

glory, and she was saying all the time, ‘Now, John, if this is some of your foolings,

I’ll give it to you.’ When he got her close up, he took away his hands, and she gave

a kind of a whoop, and then she began to laugh, the pumpkin glory was so funny,

and to chase the funniest papa all round the yard to box his ears, and as soon

as she had boxed them, she said, ‘Now let’s go in and send the rest out,’ and in about

a quarter of a second, all the other papas came out, holding their hands over the other

mothers’ eyes till they got them up to the pumpkin glory, and then there was such

a yelling and laughing and chasing and ear-boxing that you never heard anything like it,

and all at once, the funniest papa hallooed out: ‘Where’s grammar? Gramma’s got

to see it! Grandma will enjoy it. It’s just gramma’s kind of joke,’ and then the mothers

all got round him and said he shouldn’t fool the grandmother, anyway, and he said

he wasn’t going to: he was just going to bring her out and let her see it, and his wife

went along with him to watch that he didn’t begin acting up.

“The grandmother had been sitting all alone in her room ever since dinner; because

she was always afraid somehow that if you enjoyed yourself, it was a sign you were

going to suffer for it, and she had enjoyed herself a good deal that day, and she was

feeling awful about it. When the funniest papa and his wife came in, she said,

‘What is it? What is it? Is the world a-burnin’ up? Well, you got to wrap up warm, then, or you’ll ketch your death o’ cold runnin’ and then stoppin’ to rest with your pores all open!’

“The funniest papa’s wife she went up and kissed her, and said,

‘No, grandmother, the world’s all right,’

and then she told her just how it was and how they wanted her to come out and see

the jack-o’-lantern, just to please the children; and she must come, anyway; because

it was the funniest jack-o’-lantern there ever was, and then she told how the funniest

papa had fooled her, and then how they had got the other papas to fool the other

mothers and they had all had the greatest fun than you ever saw. All the time, she kept

putting on her things for her, and the grandmother seemed to get quiet in the notion,

and she laughed a little, and they thought she was going to enjoy it as much

as anybody; they really did because they were all very tender of her, and they wouldn’t

have scared her for anything, and everybody kept cheering her up and telling her how

much they knew she would like it till they got her to the pump.

The little pumpkin glory was feeling awfully proud and self-satisfied, for it had never

seen any flower or any vegetable treated with half so much honor by human beings.

It wasn’t sure at first that it was very nice to be laughed at so much, but after a while,

it began to conclude that the papas and the mammas were just laughing at the joke

of the whole thing. When the old grandmother got up close, it thought it would do

something extra to please her, or else the heat of the candle had dried it up so that

it cracked without intending to. Anyway, it tried to give a very broad grin, and all of

a sudden, it split its mouth from ear to ear.”


“You didn’t say it had any ears before,” said the boy.

“No; it had them behind,” said the papa; and the boy felt like giving him just one pound;

but he thought it might stop the story, so he let the papa go on.

“As soon as the grandmother saw it open its mouth that way, she just gave one

scream, ‘My sake! It’s comin’ to live!’ And she threw up her arms, and she threw up

her feet, and if the funniest papa hadn’t been there to catch her, and if there hadn’t

been forty or fifty other sons and daughters, and grandsons and daughters,

and great-grandsons and great-granddaughters, very likely she might have fallen.

As it was, they piled around her and kept her up; but there were so many of them

they jostled the pump, and the first thing the pumpkin glory knew, it fell down and burst

open, and the pig that the boys had plagued and that had kept squealing all the time

because it thought that the people had come out to feed it, knocked the loose board

off its pen, and flew out and gobbled the pumpkin glory up, candle and all,

and that was the end of the proud little pumpkin glory.”

“And when the pig ate the candle, it looked like the magician when he put burning tow in his mouth,” said the boy.

“Exactly,” said the papa.

The children were both silent for a moment. Then the boy said, “This story never had any moral, I believe, papa?”

“Not a bit,” said the papa. “Unless,” he added, “the moral was that you had better not be ambitious unless you want to come to the sad end of this proud little pumpkin glory.”

“Why, but the good little pumpkin was eaten up, too,” said the boy.

“That’s true,” the papa acknowledged.

“Well,” said the little girl, “there’s a great deal of difference between being eaten by persons and eaten by pigs.”

“All the difference in the world,” said the papa, and he laughed and ran out of the library before the boy could get at him.

The End