Thursday, September 15, 2016


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of The Cowardly Lion of Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard in Oz, and The Wish Express, etc.
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, February 27, 1916.

Once upon a time two brothers set out from London, to seek their fortunes. They were tall, handsome and healthy, but possessed of no other riches.

They had not gone far before they came to a little girl sitting upon a stile. She was crying bitterly. The first brother, whose name was John, stopped and leaning over asked her what was the matter? “Tut! Tut! What foolishness!” exclaimed the other brother impatiently. “Are we to stop for every sniffling youngster whom we meet? I, for my part, wish to get along in the world and make my fortune. I cannot afford to waste my time on things for which I get no return!” John, the first brother, paid no attention to George, the second brother, but taking out his handkerchief he kindly wiped the little girls tears, and seating himself upon a stone, took her on his lap. Then he pulled out some loose sheets of paper, which he had in his pocket, and began drawing rabbits and bowwows and all sort of funny beasts, so that presently the little girl was clapping her hands with merriment.

At this, George, grumbling something about “Nonsense and Ne’er-do-well!” stamped off down the road by himself. John, meanwhile, drew one thing and another and the more the little maid laughed the happier he felt and the better his pictures became. Just as he was putting the finishing touches to a sketch of the little girl herself, along came a fine carriage with prancing white horses.

“Daddy! Daddy!” cried the little girl, jumping out of John’s lap and running toward the carriage. The white horses were drawn up in a jiffy and out of the carriage sprang a courtly gentleman. And next thing you know, the first brother was rolling gayly down the road in the fine carriage between the little girl and her father, and it wasn’t long before they passed the second brother trudging wearily along on foot. He cried out to his brother, but John and the little girl’s father were so busy talking that they did not hear him. To tell the truth, that gentleman was so grateful for John’s kindness to his little girl, who had been lost, and so delighted with the pictures he had made for her, that he invited him home to dinner on the spot. And from that day fortune smiled upon the first brother. His pictures, drawn to give a little girl pleasure, proved more valuable than he knew. The little girl’s father showed them to all his friends, who immediately commissioned John to paint their portraits, and the portraits of their wives and children, and finally he had so much work and so many friends that he was happy as the day was long.

The second brother tramped along crossly by himself and at nightfall tapped upon the door of a small cottage. The door was opened by a tiny little old lady. George asked her roughly for a night’s lodging. This the little old lady agreed to give him if George cut her wood. He took the ax that she gave him and going sulkily into the yard cut a small quantity of wood. When he carried it into the kitchen the little old lady, who had set out a comfortable supper for him, stared in amazement. “Why have you cut so little?” she asked in surprise. “I’ve cut an amount which I consider equal to my supper and lodging and no more and no less. I am out to make my fortune and cannot cut wood for nothing!” announced George, sitting comfortably down by the fire.

“Indeed!” cried the little old lady, stamping her foot. “Indeed! Then take that for which you have paid!” Throwing a loaf no larger than a man’s fist into his lap, she called her son, who hustled him out of doors in no time. And so things went, from bad to worse, for everywhere the second brother went he tried to bargain and bully folks into giving him more than he earned. All he thought of was getting—of giving he knew nothing.

At last, finding that the world had small use for his talents, he joined a gang of thieves and after many adventures was caught and brought to trial. In those days thieves were hung, and hung he should certainly have been if his brother John had not heard of the proceedings in time. So famous had John become by now that upon his recommendation the wicked brother was released. He generously built his brother a little house upon his own grounds and there the selfish fellow passed the remainder of his days, scolding fate and fortune and everybody but himself for his ill-luck. For he never learned that the way to fortune and to happiness is through giving, not getting.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 12, 1920.

Puzzle Corner

The school supplies hidden in the Forgetful Poet’s verses were: Ruler, tablets, pen, ink, study and report.

A color will name a land
And a color will name a sea,
And you will find them if you look
In your geography!

What Musical Instruments?

A girl’s name will give you one.

The center of an apple plus something fishermen use will give another.

A name for certain parts of the body will give one used in churches.

A word meaning to dwell continuously on one subject will give another.

Certain animals carry musical instruments on their heads.

And that is enough, don’t you think?

[Answers next time.] 

Copyright © 2016 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 9, 2016


By L. Frank Baum
Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Boy Fortune Hunters in the Yucatan, Daughters of Destiny, etc.

Originally published in American Fairy Tales, 1901.

A king once died, as kings are apt to do, being as liable to shortness of breath as other mortals.

It was high time this king abandoned his earth life, for he had lived in a sadly extravagant manner, and his subjects could spare him without the slightest inconvenience. 

His father had left him a full treasury, both money and jewels being in abundance. But the foolish king just deceased had squandered every penny in riotous living. He had then taxed his subjects until most of them became paupers, and this money vanished in more riotous living. Next he sold all the grand old furniture in the palace; all the silver and gold plate and bric-a-brac; all the rich carpets and furnishings and even his own kingly wardrobe, reserving only a soiled and moth-eaten ermine robe to fold over his threadbare raiment. And he spent the money in further riotous living. 

Don't ask me to explain what riotous living is. I only know, from hearsay, that it is an excellent way to get rid of money. And so this spendthrift king found it.

He now picked all the magnificent jewels from this kingly crown and from the round ball on the top of his scepter, and sold them and spent the money. Riotous living, of course. But at last he was at the end of his resources. He couldn't sell the crown itself, because no one but the king had the right to wear it. Neither could he sell the royal palace, because only the king had the right to live there.

So, finally, he found himself reduced to a bare palace, containing only a big mahogany bedstead that he slept in, a small stool on which he sat to pull off his shoes and the moth-eaten ermine robe. 

In this straight he was reduced to the necessity of borrowing an occasional dime from his chief counselor, with which to buy a ham sandwich. And the chief counselor hadn't many dimes. One who counseled his king so foolishly was likely to ruin his own prospects as well. 

So the king, having nothing more to live for, died suddenly and left a ten-year-old son to inherit the dismantled kingdom, the moth-eaten robe and the jewel-stripped crown. 

No one envied the child, who had scarcely been thought of until he became king himself. Then he was recognized as a personage of some importance, and the politicians and hangers-on, headed by the chief counselor of the kingdom, held a meeting to determine what could be done for him. 

These folk had helped the old king to live riotously while his money lasted, and now they were poor and too proud to work. So they tried to think of a plan that would bring more money into the little king's treasury, where it would be handy for them to help themselves. 

After the meeting was over the chief counselor came to the young king, who was playing peg-top in the courtyard, and said: 

"Your majesty, we have thought of a way to restore your kingdom to its former power and magnificence." 

"All right," replied his majesty, carelessly. "How will you do it?" 

"By marrying you to a lady of great wealth," replied the counselor. 

"Marrying me!" cried the king. "Why, I am only ten years old!" 

"I know; it is to be regretted. But your majesty will grow older, and the affairs of the kingdom demand that you marry a wife." 

"Can't I marry a mother, instead?" asked the poor little king, who had lost his mother when a baby. 

"Certainly not," declared the counselor. "To marry a mother would be illegal; to marry a wife is right and proper." 

"Can't you marry her yourself?" inquired his majesty, aiming his peg-top at the chief counselor's toe, and laughing to see how he jumped to escape it. 

"Let me explain," said the other. "You haven't a penny in the world, but you have a kingdom. There are many rich women who would be glad to give their wealth in exchange for a queen's coronet—even if the king is but a child. So we have decided to advertise that the one who bids the highest shall become the queen of Quok." 

"If I must marry at all," said the king, after a moment's thought, "I prefer to marry Nyana, the armorer's daughter." 

"She is too poor," replied the counselor. 

"Her teeth are pearls, her eyes are amethysts, and her hair is gold," declared the little king. 

"True, your majesty. But consider that your wife's wealth must be used. How would Nyana look after you have pulled her teeth of pearls, plucked out her amethyst eyes and shaved her golden head?" 

The boy shuddered. 

"Have your own way," he said, despairingly. "Only let the lady be as dainty as possible and a good playfellow." 

"We shall do our best," returned the chief counselor, and went away to advertise throughout the neighboring kingdoms for a wife for the boy king of Quok. 

There were so many applicants for the privilege of marrying the little king that it was decided to put him up at auction, in order that the largest possible sum of money should be brought into the kingdom. So, on the day appointed, the ladies gathered at the palace from all the surrounding kingdoms—from Bilkon, Mulgravia, Junkum and even as far away as the republic of Macvelt. 

The chief counselor came to the palace early in the morning and had the king's face washed and his hair combed; and then he padded the inside of the crown with old newspapers to make it small enough to fit his majesty's head. It was a sorry looking crown, having many big and little holes in it where the jewels had once been; and it had been neglected and knocked around until it was quite battered and tarnished. Yet, as the counselor said, it was the king's crown, and it was quite proper he should wear it on the solemn occasion of his auction. 

Like all boys, be they kings or paupers, his majesty had torn and soiled his one suit of clothes, so that they were hardly presentable; and there was no money to buy new ones. Therefore the counselor wound the old ermine robe around the king and sat him upon the stool in the middle of the otherwise empty audience chamber. 

And around him stood all the courtiers and politicians and hangers-on of the kingdom, consisting of such people as were too proud or lazy to work for a living. There was a great number of them, you may be sure, and they made an imposing appearance. 

Then the doors of the audience chamber were thrown open, and the wealthy ladies who aspired to being queen of Quok came trooping in. The king looked them over with much anxiety, and decided they were each and all old enough to be his grandmother, and ugly enough to scare away the crows from the royal cornfields. After which he lost interest in them. 

But the rich ladies never looked at the poor little king squatting upon his stool. They gathered at once about the chief counselor, who acted as auctioneer. 

"How much am I offered for the coronet of the queen of Quok?" asked the counselor, in a loud voice.
"Where is the coronet?" inquired a fussy old lady who had just buried her ninth husband and was worth several millions. 

"There isn't any coronet at present," explained the chief counselor, "but whoever bids highest will have the right to wear one, and she can then buy it." 

"Oh," said the fussy old lady, "I see." Then she added: "I'll bid fourteen dollars." 

"Fourteen thousand dollars!" cried a sour-looking woman who was thin and tall and had wrinkles all over her skin—"like a frosted apple," the king thought. 

The bidding now became fast and furious, and the poverty-stricken courtiers brightened up as the sum began to mount into the millions. 

"He'll bring us a very pretty fortune, after all," whispered one to his comrade, "and then we shall have the pleasure of helping him spend it." 

The king began to be anxious. All the women who looked at all kind-hearted or pleasant had stopped bidding for lack of money, and the slender old dame with the wrinkles seemed determined to get the coronet at any price, and with it the boy husband. This ancient creature finally became so excited that her wig got crosswise of her head and her false teeth kept slipping out, which horrified the little king greatly; but she would not give up. 

At last the chief counselor ended the auction by crying out: 

"Sold to Mary Ann Brodjinsky de la Porkus for three million, nine hundred thousand, six hundred and twenty-four dollars and sixteen cents!" And the sour-looking old woman paid the money in cash and on the spot, which proves this is a fairy story. 

The king was so disturbed at the thought that he must marry this hideous creature that he began to wail and weep; whereupon the woman boxed his ears soundly. But the counselor reproved her for punishing her future husband in public, saying: 

"You are not married yet. Wait until to-morrow, after the wedding takes place. Then you can abuse him as much as you wish. But at present we prefer to have people think this is a love match." 

The poor king slept but little that night, so filled was he with terror of his future wife. Nor could he get the idea out of his head that he preferred to marry the armorer's daughter, who was about his own age. He tossed and tumbled around upon his hard bed until the moonlight came in at the window and lay like a great white sheet upon the bare floor. Finally, in turning over for the hundredth time, his hand struck against a secret spring in the headboard of the big mahogany bedstead, and at once, with a sharp click, a panel flew open. 

The noise caused the king to look up, and, seeing the open panel, he stood upon tiptoe, and, reaching within, drew out a folded paper. It had several leaves fastened together like a book, and upon the first page was written:

"When the king is in trouble
This leaf he must double
And set it on fire
To obtain his desire."

This was not very good poetry, but when the king had spelled it out in the moonlight he was filled with joy. 

"There's no doubt about my being in trouble," he exclaimed; "so I'll burn it at once, and see what happens." 

He tore off the leaf and put the rest of the book in its secret hiding place. Then, folding the paper double, he placed it on the top of his stool, lighted a match and set fire to it. 

It made a horrid smudge for so small a paper, and the king sat on the edge of the bed and watched it eagerly. 

When the smoke cleared away he was surprised to see, sitting upon the stool, a round little man, who, with folded arms and crossed legs, sat calmly facing the king and smoking a black briarwood pipe.
"Well, here I am," said he. 

"So I see," replied the little king. "But how did you get here?" 

"Didn't you burn the paper?" demanded the round man, by way of answer. 

"Yes, I did," acknowledged the king. 

"Then you are in trouble, and I've come to help you out of it. I'm the Slave of the Royal Bedstead." 

"Oh!" said the king. "I didn't know there was one." 

"Neither did your father, or he would not have been so foolish as to sell everything he had for money. By the way, it's lucky for you he did not sell this bedstead. Now, then, what do you want?" 

"I'm not sure what I want," replied the king; "but I know what I don't want, and that is the old woman who is going to marry me." 

"That's easy enough," said the Slave of the Royal Bedstead. "All you need do is to return her the money she paid the chief counselor and declare the match off. Don't be afraid. You are the king, and your word is law." 

"To be sure," said the majesty. "But I am in great need of money. How am I going to live if the chief counselor returns to Mary Ann Brodjinski her millions?" 

"Phoo! that's easy enough," again answered the man, and, putting his hand in his pocket, he drew out and tossed to the king an old-fashioned leather purse. "Keep that with you," said he, "and you will always be rich, for you can take out of the purse as many twenty-five-cent silver pieces as you wish, one at a time. No matter how often you take one out, another will instantly appear in its place within the purse." 

"Thank you," said the king, gratefully. "You have rendered me a rare favor; for now I shall have money for all my needs and will not be obliged to marry anyone. Thank you a thousand times!" 

"Don't mention it," answered the other, puffing his pipe slowly and watching the smoke curl into the moonlight. "Such things are easy to me. Is that all you want?" 

"All I can think of just now," returned the king. 

"Then, please close that secret panel in the bedstead," said the man; "the other leaves of the book may be of use to you some time." 

The boy stood upon the bed as before and, reaching up, closed the opening so that no one else could discover it. Then he turned to face his visitor, but the Slave of the Royal Bedstead had disappeared.
"I expected that," said his majesty; "yet I am sorry he did not wait to say good-by." 

With a lightened heart and a sense of great relief the boy king placed the leathern purse underneath his pillow, and climbing into bed again slept soundly until morning. 

When the sun rose his majesty rose also, refreshed and comforted, and the first thing he did was to send for the chief counselor. 

That mighty personage arrived looking glum and unhappy, but the boy was too full of his own good fortune to notice it. Said he: 

"I have decided not to marry anyone, for I have just come into a fortune of my own. Therefore I command you return to that old woman the money she has paid you for the right to wear the coronet of the queen of Quok. And make public declaration that the wedding will not take place." 

Hearing this the counselor began to tremble, for he saw the young king had decided to reign in earnest; and he looked so guilty that his majesty inquired: 

"Well! what is the matter now?" 

"Sire," replied the wretch, in a shaking voice, "I cannot return the woman her money, for I have lost it!" 

"Lost it!" cried the king, in mingled astonishment and anger. 

"Even so, your majesty. On my way home from the auction last night I stopped at the drug store to get some potash lozenges for my throat, which was dry and hoarse with so much loud talking; and your majesty will admit it was through my efforts the woman was induced to pay so great a price. Well, going into the drug store I carelessly left the package of money lying on the seat of my carriage, and when I came out again it was gone. Nor was the thief anywhere to be seen." 

"Did you call the police?" asked the king. 

"Yes, I called; but they were all on the next block, and although they have promised to search for the robber I have little hope they will ever find him." 

The king sighed. 

"What shall we do now?" he asked. 

"I fear you must marry Mary Ann Brodjinski," answered the chief counselor; "unless, indeed, you order the executioner to cut her head off." 

"That would be wrong," declared the king. "The woman must not be harmed. And it is just that we return her money, for I will not marry her under any circumstances." 

"Is that private fortune you mentioned large enough to repay her?" asked the counselor. 

"Why, yes," said the king, thoughtfully, "but it will take some time to do it, and that shall be your task. Call the woman here." 

The counselor went in search of Mary Ann, who, when she heard she was not to become a queen, but would receive her money back, flew into a violent passion and boxed the chief counselor's ears so viciously that they stung for nearly an hour. But she followed him into the king's audience chamber, where she demanded her money in a loud voice, claiming as well the interest due upon it over night. 

"The counselor has lost your money," said the boy king, "but he shall pay you every penny out of my own private purse. I fear, however, you will be obliged to take it in small change." 

"That will not matter," she said, scowling upon the counselor as if she longed to reach his ears again; "I don't care how small the change is so long as I get every penny that belongs to me, and the interest. Where is it?" 

"Here," answered the king, handing the counselor the leathern purse. "It is all in silver quarters, and they must be taken from the purse one at a time; but there will be plenty to pay your demands, and to spare." 

So, there being no chairs, the counselor sat down upon the floor in one corner and began counting out silver twenty-five-cent pieces from the purse, one by one. And the old woman sat upon the floor opposite him and took each piece of money from his hand. 

It was a large sum: three million, nine hundred thousand, six hundred and twenty-four dollars and sixteen cents. And it takes four times as many twenty-five-cent pieces as it would dollars to make up the amount. 

The king left them sitting there and went to school, and often thereafter he came to the counselor and interrupted him long enough to get from the purse what money he needed to reign in a proper and dignified manner. This somewhat delayed the counting, but as it was a long job, anyway, that did not matter much. 

The king grew to manhood and married the pretty daughter of the armorer, and they now have two lovely children of their own. Once in awhile they go into the big audience chamber of the palace and let the little ones watch the aged, hoary-headed counselor count out silver twenty-five-cent pieces to a withered old woman, who watched his every movement to see that he does not cheat her. 

It is a big sum, three million, nine hundred thousand, six hundred and twenty-four dollars and sixteen cents in twenty-five-cent pieces. 

But this is how the counselor was punished for being so careless with the woman's money. And this is how Mary Ann Brodjinski de la Porkus was also punished for wishing to marry a ten-year-old king in order that she might wear the coronet of the queen of Quok. 

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 5, 1920.

The Puzzle Corner

Although the Forgetful Poet is too old to go to school himself, he evidently has it on his mind. But before I put in his new puzzles I’ll just answer his last ones.

“Lead pencils are like little girls,” he says, “because they are always losing their rubbers.” The youngest folks in the shoe closet are the kid slippers, and the queer Crustacean lived in the Caribbean, and the other left-out word was know.


Now just put on your thinking caps
And find these school supplies—
Another name for sovereign
Will give one, I surmise!

A form that medicine comes in
Will give some more, I think.
A small inclosure still another—
Don’t forget the -----?

A room will describe
What each scholar must do,
And the noise from a gun
What the teacher gives you!

School’s not so worse—
Just you take it from me.
There’s a lot of old friends
I’m just crazy to see!

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2016 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 15, 2016


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of The Lost King of Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard in Oz, and The Wish Express, etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 22, 1919.

Here is a story that’s true as true
Of a pink flamingo who felt dark blue!
For this pink flamingo bird had got
His long, long neck in a hard, hard knot.

The bad little fishes splashed in a row
And watched the pink flamingo GO—
“We’re safe as long as that knot stays tied,
You cannot eat us now—old dear,” they cried.

Not only blue he felt—but hollow,
With a knot tied in his neck—how could he swallow?
So he picked up his long, long legs—and ran
To his uncle Peter Pelican!

The flamingo heard and muttered as he ran,
“If any one can help me Peter Pelican CAN!”
Peter Pelican tried—but he couldn’t—worse luck,
So he sent him off to a Doctor Duck.

Doctor Duck looked close—“Sir, I diagnose
Your case as a sailor’s knot—I suppose
A sailor must untie it!” Off the pink bird ran
Till at last he came up with a sailor man—

He made a bow and he said a lot
In flamingo-ese—about the knot.
Tho’ the sailor didn’t quite understand the lingo,
He untied the knot for the pink flamingo!
                  (And that’s about all.)

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 29, 1920.


Puzzles Out of the Jungle Box

The warmer the weather becomes the more nonsense the Forgetful Poet seems to think up. He said no wonder, with a pen that was out of its mind, and when I asked him what he meant he said: “It was, from constant doses of ink, quite dippy.”

Then he wanted to know why there was always a jam on the pantry shelf, and when I threatened him with the letter opener he retired chuckling. And when he had gone I found these riddles on my desk:

Why are lead pencils like little girls?

Who are the youngest people in the shoe closet?

Can you finish these verses:

There once was a queer Crustacean,
Who lived in the blue -----?
He swam to and fro and for all that I -----
He made verses in ancient Chaldean!

Last week’s answers were: Cotton wood tree, red wood, ash, beach, peach and locusts.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2016 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 1, 2016


By L. Frank Baum

Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Boy Fortune Hunters in the Yucatan, Daughters of Destiny, etc.

Illustrated by W. W. Denslow

Originally published in Father Goose: His Book, 1899.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 22, 1920.

Poems and Puzzles 

Last week’s answers and verses were:

There once was coot in a waterproof suit,
And the silly old water fowl thought he looked cute!

An arithmetic book is well furnished because it is full of tables.

The bodies of water concealed in the last two verses were the River Don, Lake Superior and Seine River.

Forgetfully speaking, what would you say to these:

“How can a sea place see?
A wise little fish asked me.
“Don’t know,” said I. “Will you please explain?”
“Yes,” laughed the fish, “Sea planes see plain!”

There are six trees concealed in these verses. Can you find them?

“I’d like a dress,” said Mary Jane,
“A cotton or a crash;
A red would do—or, maybe, blue!”
Dad flicked his cigar ash.

“Perhaps you can have two,” he said,
“To wear down at the beach.
Upon the whole, you shall have three,
You’re such a little peach.
“But how I wish my little girl
Would not grow up,” he said;
“And do you hear the locusts
Telling folks it’s time for bed?” 

They may not be spelled like trees—but they sound like ’em.

[Answers next time.] 

Copyright © 2016 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 15, 2016


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of Handy Mandy in Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard in Oz, and The Wish Express, etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 22, 1919.

Thor—the Great God of the North—who lived long and long ago, had many enemies among the Giant Folk. The giants of the Mountains and of the Forest were always seeking a way to get possession of Thor’s famous hammer—which none of them could withstand and without which Thor would have easily fallen into their power.

Once in a mysterious manner Thrym, one of the most powerful of the giants, stole the famous hammer and buried it deep, deep under the Kingdom of Jotunheim, which is the giants’ country. Thor sent Loki—another of the North Gods—to see whether or not the giant might not negotiate for its return. Thrym said that he was quite willing to send back the hammer on condition that Freya, Queen of Valhalla, become his bride. Freya had no desire to live with the Frost Giant King, and Thor was in a great quandary as to how he might regain his precious hammer.

Finally Loki suggest that Thor dress in Freya’s clothes and go to the Frost Giant’s palace himself as the bride. Heavily veiled Thor and Loki presented themselves at the giant’s castle and were warmly welcomed by the giant, who thought he had won the beautiful goddess for his wife. A great feast was prepared in their honor, but what was the amazement of Thrym when he beheld his bride devour a whole ox, eight salmon and a host of other delicacies, washing down the whole with three tons of mead.

He expressed his astonishment to Loki, who assured him that the bride had eaten nothing for eight days, so excited was she at the honor of becoming his wife. Flattered and pleased Thrym tried to push aside Freya’s veil, but started back in terror at the glistening eyes that confronted him. Again he appealed to Loki. Loki told him that the bride had not slept for eight nights, and the giant, quite satisfied, ordered the hammer to be brought and placed in the maiden’s lap.

No sooner did Thor feel his mighty hammer than he cast off his disguise and laid about him right and left, destroying Thrym and all of his retainers.

Once upon a time Thor set out on a journey to the giants’ country, accompanied by Loki and one servant. By nightfall they had reached an immense forest, so they searched on all sides to find a place to sleep. At last they came to what appeared to be a strange gray building, the like of which they had never seen before. Indeed, it was most curiously constructed. It was too dark to seek further, so they decided to take shelter inside in spite of its peculiar appearance.

About 12 o’clock they were awakened by a terrible earthquake, which tossed them about in the chamber of the building like so many loose pebbles. Thor’s two companions rushed into an adjoining chamber, but Thor stood in the huge doorway holding his hammer in readiness for whatever happened. But nothing else did happen, so they retired and disposed themselves for sleep. In several hours they were again awakened, this time by fearful groans, which rumbled in as loud tones as the thunder itself. Feeling that the daytime was best for investigating the cause of so great a disturbance, the three spent the rest of the night wide awake and issued forth at dawn in no small state of trepidation.

Lying near at hand was the hugest giant they had ever seen, his snores shaking the whole forest and causing the sounds they had taken for groans. So formidable appeared the giant that even Thor stood back and was afraid to try his mighty hammer. Just then the giant wakened up, and taking his courage in both hands Thor asked him his name. The giant appeared to be in an excellent humor and answered quite pleasantly that his name was Skrymir. “And YOU are the god Thor,” he announced, stretching. “But where is my glove?” He looked around carelessly, then snatched the building where Thor and his companions had passed the night and drew it on. Thor was not a little put out to think he had slept in the giant’s glove. As for the giant, he invited the three to accompany him to his castle, which they did and had many more strange adventures, which, perhaps, some day I shall tell you.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 15, 1920. 
Puzzle Corner

The Forgetful Poet still runs to rhymes. The missing creatures are not hard to find. What bird does he mean?

There once was a -----
In a water-proof suit
And the silly old waterfowl
Thought he looked -----

Why is an arithmetic book better furnished than other school books?

Three bodies of water are concealed in this verse. They may not be spelled exactly right, but they sound right:

Oh, when I don my swallow tail
I’m really quite superior,
But my old business suit’s more sane,
And really makes me cheerier!

[Answers next time.] 
Copyright © 2016 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 1, 2016


By L. Frank Baum
Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Boy Fortune Hunters in the Yucatan, Daughters of Destiny, etc.

Originally published in the Quincy Daily Herald, April 14, 1903. This newspaper article by an unnamed reporter contains a verse by L. Frank Baum in response to an elaborate gift from Baum's friend George Stahl, resident of Quincy, Illinois.

George H. Stahl sent an Easter surprise by express to Frank Baum, author of “Father Goose” and the “Wizard of Oz,” who spent part of last summer in Quincy. He got three handsome Leghorn chickens and dyed one a brilliant purple, another a vivid red and the third a bright green. He had a coop especially made for them and in one corner fixed up a nest filled with fancifully dyed Easter eggs. The only inscription on the box was “Father Goose, Hiz Burds,” yet it was delivered at Mr. Baum’s home in Chicago bright and early Easter morning. Mr. Stahl knows they were delivered properly because yesterday he received the following poetic message by wire from Chicago:

The chicks are here in all their pride—
The purple, red, and green;
And though alive they are all “died”
The slickest ever seen.

So all the flock of Father Goose
Return your Easter greeting,
We’ll put your gorgeous gift to use—
If it is fit for eating.

Peace, love, and happiness be thine
Throughout the coming year;
We’ll drink your health in sparkling wine—
As we are out of beer.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 8, 1920.

Puzzle Corner

The Forgetful Poet was in a great hurry this week and he really didn’t have time to write out any new puzzles. He dashed into the office and breathlessly gave me the answers to last week’s, which are:

If a barrel laughed would it give a hoop?
How many sous in a bowl of soup?
What have a tree, a ship and a dog in common? A bark.

The foolish old manatee
Was known far and wide for her vanity,
She was ugly and fat, but she didn’t know that
And was proud to the point of insanity.

As he disappeared out of the door I heard him say, “I’m off to the shore and maybe I’ll visit the mountains before I get back.” So I know he is taking a vacation.

Copyright © 2016 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of The Purple Prince of Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard in Oz, and The Wish Express, etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 6, 1919.

There was once an old gentleman mouse who played the fiddle and who was much in demand for parties, weddings and other entertainments in Mousedom. There are not very many musicians among the mice and poor Uncle Mumbledy was worked pretty hard. He was getting old too and rheumatic, and used sometimes to long for a quiet evening at home.

During the daytime he had scholars, and what with teaching and scales all day and fiddling and calling out dances (the mice are great for square dances) half the night, the poor old fellow was just worn out.

He often tried to think of a way out, but never seemed to be able to hit upon a plan. The young mice insisted that no dance music was like his, and refused to engage any of his scholars.

Then one day he made a wonderful discovery, which he kept all to himself. On his way home from a strawberry festival he was attracted by the sounds of sweet music. He stepped cautiously out of hole in the wall into the drawing room of a great house.

“Mousealive!” gasped Uncle Mumbledy. And no wonder, for it was the first time he had ever heard of music coming out of a box. You see, he had lived all his life in the attic of this very same house and not until this very evening had the strange new magic box been bought. All of his neighbors lived in the attic, too, and none of them had ever seen such a marvellous invention, of that he was very sure. At first he was going to run back and break the news to them as fast as he could. Then, he decided to wait and see how it was done.

Very quietly he tiptoed over to that part of the room where the music was coming from. Nobody saw him or heard him, so he ran quickly up the back of a big easy chair and perched on the top. Never had he heard such a concert. Growing more bold he stretched out at his ease and watched sharply everything that went on.

Then he took out a little memorandum and jotted down: “First, wind (this will be difficult); second, adjust needle; third, pull lever; fourth, shut off lever!” He put the memorandum in his pocket and gave himself up to pure enjoyment. He watched the mode of dancing practised by the humans with no small amazement. Then, perhaps because he was very tired or because the music was so soothing, he fell fast asleep. When he wakened it was 8 o’clock and the maid was already flourishing a feather duster. With a squeak of alarm he ran off to the garret.

He wished to keep the secret for the coming-out party of his favorite niece. He chuckled over the sensation it would cause and spent much time on the invitations. The parents of the little mouse were much surprised when Uncle Mumbledy suggested that the coming-out party be given in the drawing-room of the big house. But, as he was to furnish the music and refreshments, they readily agreed.

As 12 o’clock, on the evening of this happy occasion, the guests began to arrive in the drawing room, with bouquets of forget-me-nots, lady slippers and other tiny and appropriate mousy bouquets. Uncle Mumbledy was here and there and everywhere, welcoming and chatting, but everybody remarked upon a strange thing. He had not brought his fiddle. As the time for the dancing drew on and a part of the drawing room table was cleared for the purpose, their astonishment grew. Then came the surprise of the evening and the triumph of Uncle Mumbledy’s life. He ran hurriedly up the cabinet of a new and puzzling piece of furniture. Fortunately it was open, and a record in place. Pulling the lever hard and letting down the needle he started the talking machine, and not a step could a mouse take for sheer astonishment.

Then Uncle Mumbledy explained it as best he could and started off himself with a fat old lady mouse, and soon all the mice were dancing for dear life. Never had they heard such music nor experienced such pleasure. When the record was over and Uncle Mumbledy hastily ran up to turn it off, they clapped and clapped and nothing would do but to play it all over again. By that time it had run down, and all of the gentlemen mice together swung on the handle, and, after many accidents and rumbles, managed to wind it up again.

There were several records lying about. Putting on his specs Uncle Mumbledy picked out a familiar dance tune. Removing the old record and adjusting the new was no mean task, but the little creatures persevered and finally succeeded. Uncle Mumbledy, who had never had an opportunity to dance before (being always forced to fiddle), enjoyed himself hugely; in fact, never had a mouse party been so successful.

Toward the end of the evening they discovered another delightful use for the instrument. They turned it on without letting down the needle, the result being a perfect mouse merry-go-round.

Finally the noise attracted the master of the house.

“I could swear I hear music!” he murmured getting sleepily out of bed. At the first sound of his foot upon the stairs Uncle Mumbledy turned out all the little mice lanterns and, next minute, giggling and whispering, the party broke up. But many, many times they came back to enjoy a concert or dance, and many and many a morning the housemaid would wonder who left the records scattered about. I wonder if they ever dance to your talking machine?

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 1, 1920.

The Puzzle Corner

“Whew!” groaned the Forgetful Poet, slinking down in an office chair, “it’s bad enough to make puzzles in winter—but now! Whew! Don’t believe the boys and girls could guess ’em anyway!”

I gave him a glass of water and told him that I thought you could and that you didn’t mind hot weather like poets do. So he took a stub pencil and got to work and after a great deal of scribbling this is what he handed to me:

If a barrel laughed, would it give a -----?
How many sous in a bowl of -----?
What have a tree, a ship and a dog in common?


There once was a foolish old manatee,
Who was known far and wide for her -----,
She was ugly and fat, but she didn’t know that,
And was proud to the point of -----.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2016 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.