The History of Humpty Dumpty, in Prose (Not a bedtime story)

 

  Once upon a time there was an egg named Humpty Dumpty: Humpty because he had a humped back, and Dumpty because he was rather round. In his youth he developed a bad habit of sitting on walls, a habit of which his mother tried vainly to break him.

  One fine summer day he was sitting on a garden wall, swinging his legs, when he overbalanced himself and toppled right off his perch into the street. His mother found him and screeched for help.

  Soon the news reached the king, who lived nearby. Being a kind king and thoughtful of his subjects, he called out a regiment of his cavalry and ordered them to help Humpty Dumpty. The horsemen naturally wondered why they should be doing the work of surgeons, but set off obediently.

  They wondered still more when they came to the place where Humpty Dumpty lay spilled across the road. It was a woeful sight. His hat lay here, and his legs had fallen over there; his shell was thoroughly cracked, some of the pieces being no larger than a fingernail; his yolk had popped on a loose paving-stone, and his white lay in sticky puddles all over.

  The king’s men scratched their heads, asking each other why they had been sent to stitch an egg together, but they did their dutiful best. However, all their combined powers were not equal to the task. They consulted their horses to see if they had any ideas or offers of aid, but they all were unanimous in the opinion that nothing could be done. They remounted and returned to the palace to report their unsuccessful journey, while Humpty Dumpty expired in the road.

  At the funeral his mother said, “I told him again and again not to go sitting on walls, but he would keep doing it, and that’s what comes of it.”

Written in August 2014. The idea came while I was peeling potatoes, and I wrote it down that evening with a pink gel pen because I was upstairs (we had unexpected guests and I was in my pajamas) and Olivia had nothing more practical to offer. 

Advertisements

About Nolie Alcarturiel

Christian, student of Philosophy, writer, SCAdian. Crazy cat lady who likes to keep cats and birds at the same time, and who's too young to be called an old cat lady. Medievalist. Creative Writing major, Philosophy minor.
This entry was posted in Short story and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to The History of Humpty Dumpty, in Prose (Not a bedtime story)

  1. Christine says:

    YOU POSTED IT. 😀 And oh my goodness this is…wow. *snorts* This is quite something! That ending. 😄 I didn’t expect it, I have to say, but it just goes to show you should always listen to your mother. *nods* I loved the part when they consulted their horses for some reason. It’s all just too funny!

    Definitely not a bedtime story. 😄

    Like

    • noliealcarturiel says:

      The “All the king’s horses” line had to come in there somewhere. The ending is a bit out of line with the overall tone of the story, but the tone of the rhyme seems to say his gory death was inevitable.

      Like

  2. Hope Ann says:

    I love it! 😀 There are so many nursery rhymes which kids just know or say now that are really rather disturbing. Such as a doll singing ‘Ring Around the Rosie’. And then there is ‘Rock-a-bye Baby’. What is up with the ending of that song?

    Like

    • noliealcarturiel says:

      A lot of nursery rhymes are weird like that, and some of them just don’t make sense. And some, like the Twelve Days of Christmas (not that that’s a nursery rhyme, but it has the same problem) seem to have gotten mangled through time and lost whatever sense they once possessed.

      Liked by 1 person

    • thegermangolux says:

      You know, I like nursery rhymes. If they made sense, I would hate them with a vengeance. But the reason, I think, that nursery rhymes like “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over a candlestick,” and “Rock-a-bye Baby” have stuck around for so long is because they don’t make sense. Why does Jack need to jump over the candlestick? Why was the baby in the treetop? What in the blazes was an egg doing, sitting on a wall? (Why exactly do we always assume Humpty was an egg? The rhyme says nothing about it.) These are questions that children and story-writers have puzzled over for centuries, because they are questions. Children love puzzles and questions and rhymes and things to memorize, and nursery rhymes have all of those in a handy package.

      “Don’t burn the old books. A man craves a certain amount of nonsense. Some of the most unmitigated nonsense I know was originally written down as sense, and I was made to study it.” – That from a fellow named Ephraim Stebbins.

      Hooray for nonsensical nursery rhymes!

      Liked by 1 person

      • noliealcarturiel says:

        There’s nothing wrong at all with nonsense in the right places. If people are trying to pass off nonsense as sense (ahem, Richard Dawkins), then it’s either funny or infuriating. Things like Humpty Dumpty are too much fun to need other justification for existence.

        Like

      • thegermangolux says:

        Right. There’s nonsense, and then there’s nonsense. We need a good term to divide the two. Perhaps we can call one senseless and the other nonsense. The distinction is slim, but as Father Brown said, “There is a great difference between a man’s hat and a hat that is his.”

        Like

      • noliealcarturiel says:

        In the words of G. K. Chesterton, “Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.” (The funny thing is that I’ve seen that quote attributed to Oscar Wilde.)

        Like

      • thegermangolux says:

        “Free verse? You might as well call sleeping in a ditch ‘free architecture!” Also from Chesterton. That’s one of my favorite quotes for when people try to justify art without form.

        Like

      • noliealcarturiel says:

        “If in your bold creative way you hold yourself free to draw a giraffe with a short neck, you will really find that you are not free to draw a giraffe.”

        Like

      • thegermangolux says:

        “All art is quite useless.” There, an actual Oscar WIlde quote.

        Like

      • noliealcarturiel says:

        And one with which I happen to disagree.

        Like

      • thegermangolux says:

        Taken at its face value, I would too. But does it work in the sense that the most beautiful and most worthy art has no use outside of being art? Art is beautiful. It need not carry out a purpose. It’s like a B.A. in Philosophy or Creative Writing (cough, cough); it’s quite useless, but still valuable.

        We approach beauty for its own sake, and not for whatever usefulness it holds, right? Not to say that useful things can’t be beautiful. But beautiful things need not be useful.

        Like

      • noliealcarturiel says:

        But some art, you acknowledge, is useful. And if the statement “Some art is useful” is true, then the statement “No art is useful” must be false. We’re not subjectivists here.

        Like

      • thegermangolux says:

        Right. Sorry. I may have gotten a little carried away.

        Could we say, though, that in the case of, say, an elegantly carved knife, that it has a function as art and a function as a knife? It may be a good knife, and it may be good art. As far as it is a piece of art, it is useless, a quality proper to good art. We may put it in a display, and say, “Look at this beautiful knife.” As far as it is a knife, it is useful, a quality proper to a good tool. We might put it on our belt, and say, “This is an excellent knife, and it cuts things well.” So art, as art, is useless, and tools, as tools, are useful.

        I admit the word “useless” doesn’t seem quite right. Art is useful for teaching us the nature of beauty.Perhaps it’s better to say “impractical.”

        Like

      • noliealcarturiel says:

        Art certainly does not need a practical reason to justify its existence, even if the Conservative Christian Declaration in one place implies so and in another contradicts itself (for others reading this, said book has several authours, and they seem to have disagreed). You’re right as far as the knife example goes. I think it was Plato who said there exists a beautiful butter-knife? Being of a form suitable to discharging its purpose might be one kind of beauty, an odd kind of beauty in that it’s the kind mothers most approve of, and yet, when you give them the definition, are most likely to snort at. I still hold that if we’re going to say “art does not have to be useful”, we’re admitting the existence of at least one piece of art which is not useful.

        Like

  3. Pingback: February Highlights: A Launch Team and the Marines | Writing in the Light

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s