Once upon a time in a small rural town there lived an old woman who loved to play tricks on young children as they passed her house. Each day Mrs. Mary Griffin would sit in the glossy red-painted swing on her front porch waiting for any child to walk past her house. It was her delight to choose one child and have him or her to come over under the pretense of helping her sweep the fallen leaves off the worn wooden porch.
Often she would promise the child a piece of fresh fruit or on special days she rattled her clay piggy bank to see if she could retrieve a coin.
It was on this particular day that sweet little Annie Marie came riding her bicycle. Annie always wore pretty cotton dresses with lots of lace her mother had made for her. Her hair was a golden blonde and hung in pigtails down her petite body. Annie had been a very sick child at age three and had worn braces on her legs for a few years to overcome a battle with a virus called Polio. She was very fortunate for her once paralyzed legs soon became strong again. She was so happy that she rode her red bicycle up and down the road in front of Mrs. Griffin’s red-painted swing.
Quickly Mrs. Griffin shuffled into the screen door to find her red and white piggy bank.
“Lord! I need to hurry and get this coin before Annie’s mother calls her home for dinner.” She whispered under her breath.
The black silky cat she called Whiskers rubbed his long tail around the legs of his owner. Well actually Mrs. Griffin didn’t own him. She found him as a tiny kitten in her outhouse and decided to feed him for he looked so poorly. As a token of his thankfulness he rubbed her legs to show her how glad he was that she had taken him inside. He remembered the warm white milk in the blue bowl and the crumbled up homemade biscuits she had mixed inside it. Delicious was not a good enough word so he opted to rub her legs with his tail on occasions as a reminder. After all, he had kept her mice out of the house since that day. Perhaps this was the reason she had continued to let him stay inside, or perhaps she was just a lonely widow needing company that would not get into her things. No one knew for sure why she did what she did. Most folk however ruled out forgetfulness and thought she was just an old woman who had no husband.
It seemed that all the children’s parents did not see the old lady as a threat to anyone and allowed welcomed visits from the children.
The red and white piggy bank rattled as each coin shook against the inside of the bank. Would she be quick enough to get one out of the tiny slit under the pigs’ belly?
“Come out you wicked little piece of silver. I have a job for you today. Be quick about finding your way out of this hole!” She insisted.
She felt the tiny thin coin fall into the palm of her wrinkled hand.
“Yes! Now the fun begins. I’ll see what trick I can play on little Annie this sunny day.” She whispered to the cat. “Come on you black hairy bugger. Stop weaving between my legs or you will make us both fall. I sure don’t want that mess to clean up and my bones are pretty frail.” She hissed as her long wrinkled hand shooed the cat from under her feet.
The old wooden door squeaked a sharp squeak as she made her way back onto her front porch.
“Hey Annie! Come here for a bit and sit with me on the swing. I have a treat for you this day.” The aged lady called.
Annie swerved her bike and quickly rested the front tire on the dirt bank in front of Mrs. Griffin’s house. What did Mrs. Griffin have up her sleeve?
Annie pushed her dress down and jumped onto the dried grass. She looked back quickly to see if her bicycle wheel had stopped spinning then made her way onto the wooden porch.
“What you got for me today?” Annie asked eagerly.
“Have you lost that front tooth yet?” Mrs. Mary snapped. She would not waste any time with small talk and get right to business.
“Nope! Momma wants to pull it but I won’t open my mouth for her to tie a string. If it wants to come out, then it will just have to fall out. I’m not having a string tied around any of my teeth.” Annie said quiet out of breath.
“Well child! Let me tell you about a way to get you a shiny gold tooth to replace that one when it falls out.” The old lady smiled a devilish smile. Her eyes glowed in the sunshine like big green marbles.
“How can you do that? Annie asked with a sense of question.
“Well if you let me have that tooth and you do not put your tongue in the hole after it is out of your mouth a new shiny gold one will grow in its place. How would you like that Missy?” Mary wrinkled her forehead and pushed the swing for another swing.
“I don’t believe you. You are just trying to get me to let you pull my tooth!” Annie said as she jumped out of the swing falling onto the wooden porch.
“Well then I’ll just give you this shiny little silver dime if you let me have the tooth. You will need to let me pull the tooth though because I can’t take a chance that you might put your tongue in the hole. No tongues must be put in the hole when the tooth comes out. If you do, you will never have a golden tooth.
“Look here in MY mouth!” Mrs. Mary said as she opened up her mouth so the tooth could shine in the sunlight.
Sure enough Annie saw the shiny gold tooth and her eyes opened wide with excitement.
“Oh I want a gold tooth like yours but I want in right here in the front.” She said pointing to her right front tooth.
“Then let me have your tooth quickly and be done with this. You can show all the other children your coin and your gold tooth if you do not put your tongue inside the empty hole.” Mrs. Mary continued to press Annie for the loose front tooth.
“Well how do you want to pull it out?” Annie questioned as she ran her tongue over the tooth.
“Oh I’ll just put a string around your tooth and one end I’ll tie around the screen door knob. Then when I shut the door your tooth will fall out on the porch. It will be so fast you will not feel one thing and the tooth will be in my pocket to give to the fairy who will plant the gold tooth tonight in your mouth.” Mrs. Mary smiled a wide convincing smile.
“Well! I guess you can try but I must be going home shortly. My momma will wonder where I am.” She sighed hurriedly.
“Ok then! Just let me take out this thread from my pocket. This will be a real piece of cake and you will not feel any pain at all!
Mary pulled a little ball of thread from her pocket and tied one end around the loose tooth and the other end to the door knob. Quickly before Annie could change her mind she slammed the screen door shut. Out came the tooth!
“Here it is child! See I told you it would not hurt. Now you can have this new silver dime and I’ll keep this tooth to give to the fairy tonight. Now you must remember not to put your tongue inside that little hole or the fairy will not plant the seed. Do you understand?” Mary questioned.
“Oh wow! I didn’t feel a thing. You were right. Golly I can get ice cream later with this money and tonight I will let the fairy plant the gold tooth.” Annie smiled displaying the hole in the front of her mouth.
“Soon I will have a tooth just like yours but mine will not have snuff all over it.” Annie rattled out as she jumped onto the steps and out into the yard.
Nighttime fell and all was quiet on Elm Street. Mrs. Mary Griffin rubbed the cat that slept on her pillow. She was thinking how easily it had been to talk Annie into allowing her to pull the tooth. “They are all just little babies who believe anything don’t you know?” She sighed a tired sigh.
“Tomorrow we can tell Annie about the fairy who refused to plant the seed. You see it is impossible for one not to put their tongue into the hole of a pulled tooth. Try and you will, you can never keep your tongue out of that hole.” Mrs. Griffin teased.
She knew all along that Annie would not have a gold tooth planted by a fairy. She knew that only a dentist could put a shiny gold tooth inside a child’s mouth and it was very expensive. It is too expensive for one to put a gold tooth into a child’s mouth. Only adults buy gold teeth.
Mrs. Griffin had fooled Annie into believe something that was not true. She had played a trick once again upon a child. She did however have to pay ten cents for a tooth she would just drop into the outhouse.
She closed her eyes and slept.
Question: Can anyone get a gold tooth if they don’t put their tongue in the hole of the missing tooth? Why?
Story written by Sybil Shearin
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