“Arithmetic just makes me sick.” cried our poor little Mary.
“The figures never act the same, they’re always so contrary.”
That night, when Mary fell asleep, a dream so wondrous came,
That afterwards Arithmetic was never quite the same!
Quite suddenly a funny man was standing by her side.
“Arithmetic has made you sick, just take this pill”, he cried.
He held out such a great big pill she screamed out “Never, Never!”
but down it went and then said he, “You’re just as well as ever.”
And next he gave a whistle clear. The door flew open wide.
and in a lot of figures rushed and stood there by his side.
“My name is Mr. Arithmetic.” he said: “I came tonight
to introduce these figures here and do it truly right.
The first is Zero as you see, and then right down the line
are One, Two, Three and Four, Five, Six
then Seven, Eight and Nine .
Now here you see our cousin Plus and all must understand
that Plus is just another way of saying little ‘and’.
Then Equal too, I’ll introduce; she has another name.
It’s “make” and both of them you see, mean just the very same.
He clapped his hands and music came from somewhere out of sight.
The figures marched in perfect time, Left, right, left, right, left, right.
Then 2 and 3 marched from the line and Plus stepped in between.
When Equal took her place like this, a question could be seen ……
“2 + 3 make what” they said. We’re waiting to find out.”
5 took its place, for 2 and 3 make 5, without a doubt.
Then marching to the music gay, new questions form in line;
They showed in just a minute more that 7 and 2 make 9.
And 4 plus 3 make 7 too, the figures form with care;
Then quickly 5 plus 4 make 9; Just see them standing there.
And 5 and 1 make 6, of course and 3 plus 1 make 4
and 5 and 3 make 8 as well, and Oh, so many more.
“These figures are like Washington and I will tell you why;
it really is exactly true that figures never lie.”
“Oh please, dear Mr. Arithmetic, I’m Minus, Take Away,
Do let your figures every one, come out with me and play.”
Soon out they ran, the figures gay, and Equal also came,
and then with Minus managing, they planned a lively game.
“Just watch me! Watch me!” Minus cried,
Before the game began.
“I’ll take my place, then you take yours, as quickly as you can.”
She called for figures 9 and 1 and then skipped in between;
and like a flash, to end the line, Equal and 8 were seen.
“9 minus 1 equal 8”, they cried with all their might and main;
Then broke the line with a whoop and yell and began all over again.
Minus then looked around and said “I next choose 5 and 3;
5 minus 3 make 2, of course, as plain as plain can be.”
Next 6 minus 4 stood in a row, then equal came, and 2.
For 6 minus 4 make 2 each time, you know they always do.
And 8 minus 1 equal 7, Yes and 9 minus 5 equal 4.
They formed these lines with a merry rush and then called out for more.
And 8 minus 2 make 6, dear me, how fast the figures run!
And now, just look, they’ve formed again, 9 minus 8 make 1.
Mr. Arithmetic stood by and clapped his hands in glee;
“My figures never tell a lie” he cried out joyously.