There was once a shilling, which came forth from the mint springing and shouting, “Hurrah! now I am going out into the wide world.” And truly it did go out into the wide world. The children held it with warm hands, the miser with a cold and convulsive grasp, and the old people turned it about, goodness knows how many times, while the young people soon allowed it to roll away from them. The shilling was made of silver, it contained very little copper, and considered itself quite out in the world when it had been circulated for a year in the country in which it had been coined. One day, it really did go out into the world, for it belonged to a gentleman who was about to travel in foreign lands. This gentleman was not aware that the shilling lay at the bottom of his purse when he started, till he one day found it between his fingers. “Why,” cried he, “here is a shilling from home; well, it must go on its travels with me now!” and the shilling jumped and
rattled for joy, when it was put back again into the purse.
Here it lay among a number of foreign companions, who were always coming and going, one taking the place of another, but the shilling from home was always put back, and had to remain in the purse, which was certainly a mark of distinction. Many weeks passed, during which the shilling had travelled a long distance in the purse, without in the least knowing where he was. He had found out that the other coins were French and Italian; and one coin said they were in this town, and another said they were in that, but the shilling was unable to make out or imagine what they meant. A man certainly cannot see much of the world if he is tied up in a bag, and this was really the shilling’s fate. But one day, as he was lying in the purse, he noticed that it was not quite closed, and so he slipped near to the opening to have a little peep into society. He certainly had not the least idea of what would follow, but he was curious, and curiosity often brings its own punishment. In his eagerness, he came so near the edge of the purse that he slipped out into the pocket of the trousers; and when, in the evening, the purse was taken out, the shilling was left behind in the corner to which it had fallen. As the clothes were being carried into the hall, the shilling fell out on the floor, unheard and unnoticed by any one. The next morning the clothes were taken back to the room, the gentleman put them on, and started on his journey again; but the shilling remained behind on the floor. After a time it was found, and being considered a good coin, was placed with three other coins. “Ah,” thought the shilling, “this is pleasant; I shall now see the world, become acquainted with other people, and learn other customs.”
“Do you call that a shilling?” said some one the next moment. “That is not a genuine coin of the country, – it is false; it is good for nothing.”
Now begins the story as it was afterwards related by the shilling himself.
“‘False! good for nothing!’ said he. That remark went through and through me like a dagger. I knew that I had a true ring, and that mine was a genuine stamp. These people must at all events be wrong, or they could not mean me. But yes, I was the one they called ‘false, and good for nothing.’
“‘Then I must pay it away in the dark,’ said the man who had received me. So I was to be got rid of in the darkness, and be again insulted in broad daylight.
“‘False! good for nothing!’ Oh, I must contrive to get lost, thought I.