Once there was a Toymaker.
One day he made two glove puppets. They were exactly the same, except that one had spots and one had stripes. The two puppets had great fun. They played together every day, but what they liked best of all was playing with their blocks. They would build castles and boats and trains and they'd build tall towers then knock them over and they'd laugh and laugh. They were the best of friends.
One day they found a mirror. They'd never seen a mirror before so they lined up together to have a look at themselves. They looked in the mirror, they looked at each other, they looked in the mirror again.
Then Stripes said quietly, "You've got spots."
Spots answered back, "And you've got stripes."
"But I don't like spots," said Stripes.
"And I don't like stripes," said Spots.
Pretty soon they were having a bit of a fight so they collected up their blocks and built a big wall between themselves. They glared at each other over the wall.
Then Stripes called out, "Spots are stupid."
"Stripes are dumb," called back Spots.
"Stripes are best," shouted Stripes, and he gave Spots a push.
"Spots are best," shouted Spots, and he gave Stripes a push.
Stripes called out, "Spots are so . . . round."
And Spots called out, "Stripes are so . . . straight."
Stripes was finding it hard to think of things to say but he called out, "You look like a disease with all those spots."
But Spots called back, "And you look like a fence with all those stripes."
At that Stripes climbed up the wall and jumped down on top of Spots and they began pulling each other's hair, poking each other's eyes, and hitting each other, until they were both crying and hurting and feeling very sorry for themselves.
They each went back to their own homes, and Stripes called out to the Toymaker, "I'm so unhappy. I've had a terrible fight with Spots. I'm hurting all over."
"Well," said the Toymaker, "I'm sorry to hear that. I'm sorry you're fighting. Look, crawl up here to me. I want to show you something."
So Stripes crawled right up to the Toymaker's face and was very surprised. "Oh," he said, "So I'm part of you. We're connected together. Look at me," he shouted, "I'm part of the Toymaker!"
"That's right," said the Toymaker, "but that's not all. Keep on going down my other arm."
So Stripes went slowly down the Toymaker's other arm until he came to - Spots!
"EEEK!" he cried, and ran as fast as he could back over the Toymaker's head and down his other arm, away from Spots. Then he looked back at the Toymaker and he said slowly, "Do you mean . . . do you mean that Spots is part of you too?"
The Toymaker smiled. "Yes," he said, "I made you both."
Spots and Stripes stood up then and called out together, "But why are we different? Why didn't you make us the same?"
The Toymaker just laughed. "I never make two the same," he said. "I want fat puppets and thin puppets, soft cuddly puppets and hard strong puppets, shy puppets and bouncy puppets, and I want puppets with spots and puppets with stripes. I want all sorts of puppets. You're all different. But you're all part of me and you're all part of each other as well. So when you hurt each other you are really hurting part of yourself."
Spots and Stripes were very quiet. They were thinking.
Then the Toymaker said to the puppets, "What will happen when your life as a puppet is finished and you die? Do you think it will make any difference then whether you had spots or stripes?"
Spots and Stripes looked at each other and Stripes slowly shook his head. "Well, no," he said, "when our life is finished it won't make any difference at all."
And Spots shook his head and said, "It won't make any difference at all. When we're both dead and gone we'll both be exactly the same!"
Then he started to laugh and Stripes started to laugh and they laughed and they laughed until Spots managed to say, "What a joke! We would have spent our whole life fighting and it doesn't make any difference at all!"
Then Stripes looked at Spots and said, "Hey Spots. Want to build a castle?"
And so they did.
Martin Stevens (U.S.
(included here with permission)