From among his collection the girls helped Jack choose a walnut, then took turns for themselves. Each walnut opened as if on a hinge, so its child could gobble the meat, snap shut the shell, and tuck it in a pocket.

And it was true, that whatever the child needed could be fit inside his or her shell, with not one object more. The clever girl and the lively girl tried all sorts of things to discover what was necessary, but the little boy’s walnut stayed empty.

Thus passed five years of prosperity.