Little Jack Horner
Sat in a corner
Easting his Christmas pie

He stuck in his thumb
And pulled out a plumb

And said
What a good boy am I

What really happened:

Little Jack, as we shall call him, was actually of average size but, compared to his brother Big Jack, who was six foot seven inches, Jack was indeed vertically disadvantaged.

That would not have been so bad if Big Jack had not tormented little Jack by stealing his desert when mama wasn’t looking or tripping him whenever he had the chance. Big Jack was not the kind of brother who willingly looked after Little Jack.

One late afternoon while Big Jack was out hunting with his bow and arrows, their mama made a very choice pie. It was filled with fruit of all kinds and it was very hot, just out of the oven.

It was Christmas, so mama had made other pies as well. She knew that Little Jack loved pies so she gave him a choice: custard, lemon, banana, pecan, pumpkin, or fruit (a combination of cherries, peaches, apples, huckleberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, and plums): which did Little Jack want for his Christmas treat? He could have it all to himself for Big Jack was not coming home until he had shot a big buck, or at least a squirrel.

Little Jack looked at all the pies for some time. “Can I eat it over in the corner where I am alone in the dark and Big Jack won’t see me? His mama agreed so he took a stool and put it in the very darkest corner of the kitchen. Then he went to the kitchen and chose the fruit pie.

Fruit pies smell very sweet and Little Jack was quite fearful that Big Jack would suddenly arrive and smelt the pie. That would be the end of it—he would gobble it down, not even leaving a crust for Little Jack. So Little Jack hurried to the corner with his fruit pie.

He sat looking at it for some time, enjoying its smell, marveling at its texture, and imagining how sweet it would taste. But he didn’t know what kind of fruit was in it and there was one kind he did not like at all—plums. They were purple, squishy and tasted like sweet and sour cabbage that had gone bad. He didn’t want a plum and yet he wanted to eat that pie.

His mama watched him closely, although she wasn’t able to see him clearly in the dark corner. “Little Jack,” she said, “Be sure and eat the plums too. Don’t just pick out the apples, cherries and blackberries, or the currants and peaches.” (She knew, of course, that he didn’t like plums.) “I’m not going to let you get away with it this time. I have found old moldy, sticky plums under your mattress and in your old shoes. When I count three you stick in your thumb and pull out whatever you find and eat it!”

Little Jack wasn’t too worried. With nine kinds of fruit in the pie, he had an eight to one chance of not finding a plum—pretty good odds he figured.

But mama knew Little Jack’s habits: he would stick his thumb into the center of the pie, right where she had put five big ripe, steaming plums.

Little Jack hesitated for only a moment then jammed his thumb into the middle of the pie, just like mama knew he would. He pulled out the biggest plum he had ever seen—actually all five of them were compressed together—and he let out a shout, saying “What a rotten bit of luck!’

“What did you say Little Jack? Now Little Jack might have not have been the ripest fruit in the basket, but he was not going to make his mama mad at Christmas time. He lied and told her he had said, “What a good boy am I!”

Mama was pleased but told him sternly, “No, say ‘What a good boy I am’”. She was also very surprised and said “OK, Little Jack, let me see you eat it.” But just then Big Jack came into the house, grabbed the plum from Little Jack and ate it. He had been out in the forest hunting and had eaten some wild berries as well. The berries and the plum didn’t mix well and he vomited all over the kitchen. There wasn’t a clean pie left anywhere and to this day, neither Big nor Little Jack, will eat plums or fruit pies of any variety.

Mama, however, still bakes plum pies because she knows she can eat them all by herself. Big Jack and Little Jack now prefer French fries and hamburgers.