Beware of the Jiffies

Beware of the Jiffies

"You must always beware of the jiffies," said Mother to Patsy, as Patsy was rushing off late to school.

"What do you mean?" said Patsy.

"Oh, you are always saying, 'Just in a jiffy,' " said Mother. "When you come back, I want to tell you more about the jiffies."

That night after school Patsy said, "Who are the people called 'jiffies' and where do they live?"

"Oh, the jiffies," said her mother. "They have been around a long time. I used to hear your grandfather speak of them. Our family has never liked them. They'll hang around all day long and never go home."

"Are they a big family?" asked Patsy.

"Oh, yes, they have lots of relatives, aunts, uncles, cousins, and everything. There is Just-in-a-Jiffy, he's the worst one. Then In-a-Sec, he is another. Then Coming-soon is one of the cousins, and Don't­rush-me is an uncle, and Time-enough is one of the aunts."

"Well, where do they live and what do they look like? Are they elves?" persisted Patsy.

"Not exactly elves, just jiffies," said her mother. "They are a teeny, weeny folk who live in teeny, weeny houses on Slow Poke Street in Tardytown. They are very skinny and thin, because they are always late to have luncheon. If you ring the doorbell at a jiffy's house, he never rushes downstairs to open the door, but yawns and yawns and yawns and scratches his head and says, 'Just in a jiffy.' They have something sticky on their feet and glue on the patches of their pants. When they walk their feet stick, and when they sit down it takes them a long time to get up. If they ever get on you, the jiffies stick like birds."

"I don't want any jiffies on me," said Patsy in disgust.

"I'm glad to hear that," said Mother, "but yesterday I noticed Just­in-a-Jiffy spent most of the day with you."

"He did?" said Patsy in amazement, "I never saw him!"                          

"Perhaps you didn't, but I certainly heard him around," said Mother. "When I asked you to bring me a bar of soap from the closet, you said, 'Just in a jiffy.' All day long I heard you call the name of that shrimp of an imp."

"I didn't know that," protested Patsy, surprised to know what she had said and done.

"Oh, that little Just-in-a-jiffy is a contemptible fellow," said Mother. "When his own mother calls him in from play, he pretends to be deaf. He says, 'I didn't hear you, Mother.' When she comes after him with a tiny green switch, he tries to look hurt and says, 'I didn't hear you calling me, but I was coming anyway, just in a jiffy.' He likes to hear his own name repeated."

"I don't want anything to do with the jiffies anymore," declared Patsy.

"You had better beware of them," said her mother.

"But how can I tell one when I see one?" said Patsy.

"Well," said her mother, "you can always tell a jiffy, because he has three hands, a right hand, a left hand, and a little behind hand. That's how you can tell a jiffy, by his little behind hand."

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