History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's dam is the history we made today. — Henry Ford

Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans - Edward Eggleston




Franklin's Whistle

When Franklin was an old man, he wrote a curious letter. In that letter he told a story. It was about something that happened to him when he was a boy.

Franklin as a boy

Here is the story put into verses, so that you will remember it better. Some day you can read the story as Franklin told it himself. You will hear people say, "He paid too much for the whistle." The saying came from this story.



TOO MUCH FOR THE WHISTLE


As Ben with pennies in his pocket

Went strolling down the street,

"Toot-toot! toot-toot!" there came a whistle

From a boy he chanced to meet,


Whistling fit to burst his buttons,

Blowing hard and stepping high.

Then Benny said, "I'll buy your whistle;"

But "Toot! toot-toot!" was the reply.


But Benny counted out his pennies,

The whistling boy began to smile;

With one last toot he gave the whistle

To Ben, and took his penny pile.


Now homeward goes the whistling Benny,

As proud as any foolish boy,

And in his pockets not a penny,

But in his mouth a noisy toy.


"Ah, Benny, Benny!" cries his mother,

"I cannot stand your ugly noise."

"Stop, Benny, Benny!" says his father,

"I cannot talk, you drown my voice."


At last the whistling boy remembers

How much his money might have bought.

"Too many pennies for a whistle,"

Is little Benny's ugly thought.


Too many pennies for a whistle

Is what we all pay, you and I,

Just for a little foolish pleasure

Pay a price that's quite too high.