In a nursery where a number of toys lay scattered about, a pottery piggy bank stood on the top of a very high wardrobe. In the back of the pig was a slit, and this slit had been mad bigger with a knife so that notes and large coins could get through. The piggy bank was stuffed so full that it could no longer rattle, which is the best way a piggy bank can be.
There he stood upon the cupboard, high and mighty, looking down on all the other toys in the room. He knew very well that he had enough inside himself to buy all the other toys, and this made him very big-headed.
Everything else in the room thought of this also, although they did not say it, there were so many other things to talk about. A large doll, still handsome (though rather old, for her neck had been mended) lay inside one of the drawers, which was partly open. She called out to the others, “Let’s have a game at being humans.”
When everyone heard this they got very excited. It was late at night, but as the moon shone through the windows, they had light. And as the game was now to begin, everyone was asked if they wanted to join in, even the children’s train carriage, which belonged among the cheaper toys. “Everyone is worthwhile,” said the train carriage, “we cannot all be fancy and sitting around.”
The piggy bank was the only one who got a written invitation. He stood so high that they were afraid he would not come if it wasn’t written down. But in his reply he said that the only way for him to join in was to watch from above. He asked them to arrange things so he could see and they did.
The little toy theater was therefore put up in such a way that the piggy bank could look directly into it. Some wanted to begin with a comedy and afterwards to have a tea party, but they started with the tea party.
The rocking-horse talked about training and racing. The train carriage spoke of railways and steam power. The clock went “Tick, tick” to anyone who’d listen. He told everyone he knew what time it was, but someone whispered that he didn’t have the right time. The walking stick stood by, looking stiff and proud and on the sofa lay two old cushions, not saying much.
When the play at the little theater began, the rest sat and looked on. They were asked to clap and stamp or crack whenever they were happy with what they saw. The riding whip said he never cracked for old people, only for the young – those who were not yet married. “I crack for everybody,” said the nutcracker.
“Yes, and what a noise you make,” thought the audience as the play went on.
The performed well, and all the actors turned their painted sides to the audience, for they were made to be seen only on one side.
The doll whose neck had been mended was so excited that the place in her neck burst, and the piggy bank said he would reward one of the performers, as he had enjoyed it so much.
They enjoyed the comedy so much that they forgot about the tea party they were planning and just played at being human. And there was nothing wrong about it, for it was only play. All the while each one thought most of himself or of what the piggy bank could be thinking. The piggy bank kept thinking about how long he was going to live.
Certainly not as long as he expected for suddenly down he came from the top of the press, fell on the floor, and broke into pieces. Then all the pennies hopped and danced about in a funny way. The little ones twirled round and the large ones rolled away as far as they could, especially one great silver coin, who had often wanted to go out into the world. And he had his wish as well as all the rest of the money. The pieces of the piggy bank were thrown into the dustbin and the next day there stood a new piggy-bank on the cupboard, but it didn’t have any money inside it yet and therefore couldn’t rattle, just like the old one.
This was the beginning with him, and with us it shall be the end of our story.