Not-So-Simple
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"You have no money at all?" says the pieman. "Not a penny or a dime or a nickle? I really want to sell the last of my pies so I can go home and watch the ballgame on TV this afternoon."

"Not a cent," says Simon. "And boy, am I ever hungry! Believe me, Mr. Pieman, if I had any pennies I sure would spend them on one of your last three pies."

"Hmmm," says the pieman. "There's something wrong with the way the world works if I have pies I want to sell and you have a hunger my pies would take care of, but somehow we can't get together on the sale."

Simon shrugs, his hands in his pockets, his shoulders slumped in unhappiness. "Life's kind of that way, I guess." He jingles something in his pocket.

"What's that I hear?" says the pieman. "Is that change I hear?"

"Nah," says Simon as he pulls an old door key from his pocket. "Just this old key. I ran across it long ago but I've never found anything it would open."

The pieman thinks hard and then he says, "I'm a pretty smart businessman and I'll tell you what: The only reason anyone has a key is to unlock something. And the only reason to lock something up is to keep other people from stealing it. And the only reason anybody would want to steal something is because it is valuable. Therefore, I will swap you a pie for the key and take my chances on finding the right door and the valuable things behind it."

"Swell!" says Simon. "It's a deal."

But the pieman is thinking again. "So okay, that takes care of one pie. But I heard a jingling in your pocket, which means the key had be rattling up against something. What else you got in there?"

Simon shrugs again and takes his hand out of his pocket and holds out a old rusty nut and bolt. "I found these at the fair this morning. Don't know what they're good for."

"Aha!" says the pieman. "Believe me, I wasn't born yesterday, and I can see the value in that: Nuts and bolts hold things together, and the only reason anyone would use a nut and bolt is if he had something he didn't want to fall apart. If you were to run across a guy with something falling apart, you could probably get some pretty good change out of him for a nut and bolt like this. Here! Here's another pie for the nut and bolt."

"Thanks," says Simon, holding a pie in each hand.

Now the pieman, who is down to his last pie, says, "Anything else in that pocket worth a pie? It's my last pie so I can give you a real good deal on it."

Simon puts one pie down on the ground to free up his hand and digs in his pocket. "The only thing left is this old faucet handle."

"Hot or cold," asks the pieman.

"Cold."

"I'll take it," says the pieman, handing his last pie to Simon. "You can't fool a smart man like me: In this uncertain world, people never know when they're going to wind up in hot water, water that is just too hot to stand, and anyone who is in that fix will pay a pretty penny for a faucet handle marked 'cold'."

"Well," says Simon, standing with a pie in each hand and one balanced on his head. "I guess our business here is done. We've neither of us anything left to trade."

"Right!" says the pieman. "A good day's business indeed for someone like me who's foresighted and intelligent and knows an opportunity when he sees it.

"But, oh!" he says as Simon turns to leave. "One thing. All this brain exercise and business work has left me kind of hungry. Can I buy one of those pies you've got there?"

"Sure," says Not-So-Simple Simon. "Got any money?"


 


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