Wednesday, February 1, 2017

WITCH'S SONG

By L. Frank Baum
Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Boy Fortune Hunters in the Yucatan, Daughters of Destiny, etc.
 
From The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Act III, 1901.

A FOREST WITCH appeared in an early draft of the script for what eventually became the Broadway stage hit The Wizard of Oz. Baum wrote the following lyrics for the FOREST WITCH to sing in the Forest of Fighting Trees. The character and scene were cut from the script during work on the show in early 1902.

I’m fearfully wicked,
I’m cheerfully wicked,
I shudder myself when I think
How yearningly wicked,
Discerningly wicked
I am, from nothing I shrink.

I’m thrilling wicked,
I’m killingly wicked,
I don’t care a rap for what’s good.
I’m slashingly wicked,
Abashingly wicked,
I wouldn’t reform if I could.

You may show a deep aversion to a green goods man,
Or cast a vile aspersion on a sneak thief gang,
You may tremble at a murderer, an anarchist or tough,
But none of them compared to me is really up to snuff.

I’m blissfully wicked,
Remissfully wicked,
No crime is too dreadful for me.
I’m snortingly wicked,
Distortingly wicked,
My sinfulness fills me with glee.



THE FORGETFUL POET
 
By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, November 21, 1920.

Puzzle Corner

This week the Forgetful Poet would like to know why is the weather vane.
And he says further that it is only safe to stick out your tongue at one person. Who is he?

What animal do we use to clean windows?

“I wish,” said a mouse
To a sparrow one noon,
“I wish I myself
Were the man in the moon!”

Why?

There once was an amiable -----
Who ate several boxes of Borax!
Yes, that antelope et it, and my! it upset it,
And gave him a pain in his thorax!

The pie puzzles last week gave a good many folks mental indigestion, so the Forgetful Poet wants to answer them right away. First, pie is like a cross old man because it is crusty. It could never grow into a giant because it is made short with shortening. Patti was named after a small pie. An animal added to pie gives us pie-rat and pie is used in geometry and magpie is the bird.

The words left out of the verses were piebald, cap-a-pie, pioneers and mince.

[Answers next time.]



Copyright © 2017 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

THE AMBITIOUS MOLE

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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, January 18, 1920.


Once upon a time there was an ambitious mole who wished to amount to something in the world. He felt sure that there was more to the earth than the dark underground tunnels that his family inhabited, although his father told him repeatedly that there was nothing above the ground worth looking at.

The moles are hard-working little people, and this particular family were employed in a mine and dug early and late for their living. One day as the little mole was at work in a lonely corner of the mine he met the old gnome who employed them and got into a conversation.

The old gnome was in a particularly good humor, having had mushroom pie for his dinner, and as there was no one about he condescended to be pleasant to the little mole boy. When Tommy—that was the mole’s name—asked him about the earth, he described, at great length, the forests and meadows, the trees and blue skies, the sun and the stars, and he even told him about people—which was funny, for gnomes do not usually believe in people.

Tommy could scarcely wait till evening that he might tell his family the wonderful story. But his father fell asleep in the middle of the recital and Mrs. Mole was so busy over her house accounts that she only nodded once in a while without even hearing. Tommy was discouraged, and all the next day he was turning over in his mind ways and means of seeing some of these things for himself.

One day instead of gong to work with is father he pretended to have an errand to do for the old gnome. He dug up and up and up till at last he could poke his head right out. He looked all around; then he was so disappointed that he flopped down on the ground and cried. Imagine!

“Everything’s just the same!” he wailed dismally.

“What’s the same?” A little fairy on her way to visit a sick bird family stopped beside him.

“The gnome said the trees were green and the sky was blue and everything is brown!” wailed the mole again. “Are you a person?”

“Not quite,” laughed the little creature softly, “I’m a fairy!”

“Well, you’re brown, too!” The mole sat up and viewed the little fairy dolefully.

“Why, I’m pink!” cried the fairy indignantly. Then all at once she began hopping around in an excited circle.

“I know what’s the matter! I know what’s the matter!” she laughed. “You wait here!”

Off like a flash she scurried, and just as the mole was about to go down into his hole again she returned with—what do you ’spose? A dear little pair of spectacles.

For, of course, dear heart, a mole is almost blind and everything does look brown to him—that’s why he thinks the whole world is like his dark, damp home underground.

Now these were magic specs and no sooner did Tommy look through them than he saw all the beautiful things of which the gnome had told him—the blue sky, the green trees and, best of all, the dainty little fairy. All day he ran hither and thither, admiring everything he saw, and when night came and the stars came out over the treetops he could not go to sleep at all!

“I will never live underground again!” he said delightedly. And he never did. In fact, he got a position as chief clerk in the fairy bank and lived happily the rest of his days. Isn’t it a pity that all moles cannot have fairy specs!



THE FORGETFUL POET
 
By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, November 14, 1920.

 
Puzzle Corner

Why is pie like a cross old man?

Why could a pie never grow into a giant?

What great opera singer of the last generation was described by a small pie?

If you add an animal to pie what do you have?

How did pie get into the arithmetic?

What bird ends in pie?

And now to occupie your time supply the words to fill this rhyme:

The knight upon a ----- bald steed
And armed all cap-a- -----,
Forth from his donjon deep did ride
To do—to do or die!

The -----ioneers made pastry, dears
We’ve made it ever since.
What pie describes a foppish gait—
Ho! wait—’tis good old -----.

The answers to last week’s puzzles were rolling pin, and a clock is like a working man because it works with its hands and strikes. The answer to the last riddle is caddy.

A wave should have a foot because it has an under toe.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2017 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

THE MAN IN THE MOON

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 Mother Goose in Prose (1897).


The Man in the Moon came tumbling down,
And enquired the way to Norwich;
He went by the south and burned his mouth
With eating cold pease porridge!

WHAT! have you never heard the story of the Man in the Moon? Then I must surely tell it, for it is very amusing, and there is not a word of truth in it.

The Man in the Moon was rather lonesome, and often he peeked over the edge of the moon and looked down upon the earth and envied all the people who lived together, for he thought it must be vastly more pleasant to have companions to talk to than to be shut up in a big planet all by himself, where he had to whistle to keep himself company.

One day he looked down and saw an alderman sailing up through the air towards him. This alderman was being translated (instead of being transported, owing to a misprint in the law) and as he came near the Man in the Moon called to him and said,

"How is everything down on the earth?"

"Everything is lovely," replied the alderman, "and I wouldn't leave it if I was not obliged to."

"What's a good place to visit down there? enquired the Man in the Moon.

"Oh, Norwich is a mighty fine place," returned the alderman, "and it's famous for its pease porridge;" and then he sailed out of sight and left the Man in the Moon to reflect upon what he had said.

The words of the alderman made him more anxious than ever to visit the earth, and so he walked thoughtfully home, and put a few lumps of ice in the stove to keep him warm, and sat down to think how he should manage the trip.

You see, everything went by contraries in the Moon, and when the Man wished to keep warm he knocked off a few chunks of ice and put them in his stove; and he cooled his drinking water by throwing red-hot coals of fire into the pitcher. Likewise, when he became chilly he took off his hat and coat, and even his shoes, and so became warm; and in the hot days of summer he put on his overcoat to cool off.

All of which seems very queer to you, no doubt; but it wasn't at all queer to the Man in the Moon, for he was accustomed to it.

Well, he sat by his ice-cool fire and thought about his journey to the earth, and finally he decided the only way he could get there was to slide down a moonbeam.

So he left the house and locked the door and put the key in his pocket, for he was uncertain how long he should be gone; and then he went to the edge of the moon and began to search for a good strong moonbeam.

At last he found one that seemed rather substantial and reached right down to a pleasant-looking spot on the earth; and so he swung himself over the edge of the moon, and put both arms tight around the moonbeam and started to slide down. But he found it rather slippery, and in spite of all his efforts to hold on he found himself going faster and faster, so that just before he reached the earth he lost his hold and came tumbling down head over heels and fell plump into a river.

The cool water nearly scalded him before he could swim out, but fortunately he was near the bank and he quickly scrambled upon the land and sat down to catch his breath.

By that time it was morning, and as the sun rose its hot rays cooled him off somewhat, so that he began looking about curiously at all the strange sights and wondering where on earth he was.

By and by a farmer came along the road by the river with a team of horses drawing a load of hay, and the horses looked so odd to the Man in the Moon that at first he was greatly frightened, never before having seen horses except from his home in the moon, from whence they looked a good deal smaller. But he plucked up courage and said to the farmer,

"Can you tell me the way to Norwich, sir?"

"Norwich?" repeated the farmer musingly; "I don't know exactly where it be, sir, but it's somewhere away to the south."

"Thank you," said the Man in the Moon.—But stop! I must not call him the Man in the Moon any longer, for of course he was now out of the moon; so I'll simply call him the Man, and you'll know by that which man I mean.

Well, the Man in the—I mean the Man (but I nearly forgot what I have just said)—the Man turned to the south and began walking briskly along the road, for he had made up his mind to do as the alderman had advised and travel to Norwich, that he might eat some of the famous pease porridge that was made there. And finally, after a long and tiresome journey, he reached the town and stopped at one of the first houses he came to, for by this time he was very hungry indeed.

A good-looking woman answered his knock at the door, and he asked politely,

"Is this the town of Norwich, madam?"

"Surely this is the town of Norwich," returned the woman.

"I came here to see if I could get some pease porridge," continued the Man, "for I hear you make the nicest porridge in the world in this town."

"That we do, sir," answered the woman, "and if you'll step inside I'll give you a bowl, for I have plenty in the house that is newly made."

So he thanked her and entered the house, and she asked,

"Will you have it hot or cold, sir?"

"Oh, cold, by all means," replied the Man, "for I detest anything hot to eat."

She soon brought him a bowl of cold pease porridge, and the Man was so hungry that he took a big spoonful at once.

But no sooner had he put it into his mouth than he uttered a great yell, and began dancing frantically about the room, for of course the porridge that was cold to earth folk was hot to him, and the big spoonful of cold pease porridge had burned his mouth to a blister!

"What's the matter?" asked the woman.

"Matter!" screamed the Man; "why, your porridge is so hot it has burned me."

"Fiddlesticks!" she replied, "the porridge is quite cold."

"Try it yourself!" he cried. So she tried it and found it very cold and pleasant. But the Man was so astonished to see her eat the porridge that had blistered his own mouth that he became frightened and ran out of the house and down the street as fast as he could go.

The policeman on the first corner saw him running, and promptly arrested him, and he was marched off to the magistrate for trial.

"What is your name?" asked the magistrate.

"I haven't any," replied the Man; for of course as he was the only Man in the Moon it wasn't necessary he should have a name.

"Come, come, no nonsense!" said the magistrate, "you must have some name. Who are you?"

"Why, I'm the Man in the Moon."

"That's rubbish!" said the magistrate, eyeing the prisoner severely, "you may be a man, but you're not in the moon—you're in Norwich."

"That is true," answered the Man, who was quite bewildered by this idea.

"And of course you must be called something," continued the magistrate.

"Well, then," said the prisoner, "if I'm not the Man in the Moon I must be the Man out of the Moon; so call me that."

"Very good," replied the judge; "now, then, where did you come from?"

"The moon."

"Oh, you did, eh? How did you get here?"

"I slid down a moonbeam."

"Indeed! Well, what were you running for?"

"A woman gave me some cold pease porridge, and it burned my mouth."

The magistrate looked at him a moment in surprise, and then he said,

"This person is evidently crazy; so take him to the lunatic asylum and keep him there."

This would surely have been the fate of the Man had there not been present an old astronomer who had often looked at the moon through his telescope, and so had discovered that what was hot on earth was cold in the moon, and what was cold here was hot there; so he began to think the Man had told the truth. Therefore he begged the magistrate to wait a few minutes while he looked through his telescope to see if the Man in the Moon was there. So, as it was now night, he fetched his telescope and looked at the Moon,—and found there was no man in it at all!

"It seems to be true," said the astronomer, "that the Man has got out of the Moon somehow or other. Let me look at your mouth, sir, and see if it is really burned."

Then the Man opened his mouth, and everyone saw plainly it was burned to a blister! Thereupon the magistrate begged his pardon for doubting his word, and asked him what he would like to do next.

"I'd like to get back to the Moon," said the Man, "for I don't like this earth of yours at all. The nights are too hot."

"Why, it's quite cool this evening!" said the magistrate.

"I'll tell you what we can do," remarked the astronomer; "there's a big balloon in town which belongs to the circus that came here last summer, and was pawned for a board bill. We can inflate this balloon and send the Man out of the Moon home in it."

"That's a good idea," replied the judge. So the balloon was brought and inflated, and the Man got into the basket and gave the word to let go, and then the balloon mounted up into the sky in the direction of the moon.

The good people of Norwich stood on the earth and tipped back their heads, and watched the balloon go higher and higher, until finally the Man reached out and caught hold of the edge of the moon, and behold! the next minute he was the Man in the Moon again!

After this adventure he was well contented to stay at home; and I've no doubt if you look through a telescope you will see him there to this day.



THE FORGETFUL POET
  
By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, November 7, 1920.
Puzzle Corner

Last week’s answers were: Frost, snow, flakes, chrysanthemum and ice.

ODDS AND ENDS

I heard a pin drop
With a noise like thunder—
A pin? Yes a -----?
Pshaw—no wonder!

Will you tell me why a clock
Is like a working man?
Why a clock should join a union,
That is, tell me if you can!

One on the links and
One on the table?
Read me this riddle, dears—
If you are able?

Why should a wave have a foot?

[Answers next time.]
Copyright © 2017 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

THE LOCK THAT WON A FORTUNE AND A PRINCESS

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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, March 2, 1919.



Once there was an exceedingly bright lad who had nothing but his wits to help him through the world. Fortunately, they were very sharp, and by the time he was twenty he had three suits of clothes, a fiddle and a love affair.

Now all of this story and everything I may mention, for that matter, happened about the time Prince Charming wakened the Sleeping Beauty—and you know how long ago that was.

But even in those fairy tale times a youth must have more to recommend him than three suits of clothes and a fiddle, and up to the day that I write of, his love affair had progressed very slowly.

For, naturally, being a boy of wit he had fallen in love with a Princess, no less. And even though he had slain dozens of dragons, the King would not consent to his suit, for “can my daughter live on dragon scales and songs?” he asked, reasonably enough.

“Go and get you a fortune, or begone forevermore!” They did talk queerly in those days, didn’t they? Well, there was nothing for the youth to do but to get him hence, and bidding the Princess a most fond farewell he set out to find a fortune.

He had traveled about 50 miles on his road hence when he came to a kingdom ruled over by a one-legged giant. The giant also had a daughter, but she was nothing so fair as the Princess. Still, the youth stayed at the giant’s court several months and so charmed the giant with his singing that he bade him remain as long as he desired. So the youth stayed on, but all the time he was casting about in his mind for a way to mend his fortune or, rather, to procure one to mend. And one day his opportunity came.

It seemed that the giant’s country was infested with a dragon, which not only terrorized the inhabitants, but demanded the giant’s daughter in marriage. The giant himself, being crippled, could not do battle with the monster, and his retainers had fared so badly at the creature’s claws, not to mention the many it had eaten, that none would volunteer to meet it.

With tears in his eyes the giant told Jeffry (which was the youth’s name) of his troubles. The dragon, he said, would come in one week to the castle for his daughter.

“As to that,” said Jeffry, “I will meet this dragon if—” and the youth paused most significantly.

“You may have anything in my kingdom that you ask for!” the giant hastened to assure him, and chuckled to himself as he said it. For he rather fancied the boy would ask him for his daughter. The week passed very quickly, and on the evening of the dragon’s arrival the giant and his daughter mounted to the highest turret in the castle. Jeffry, with his fiddle in one hand and a triple-edged sword buckled on behind, waited at the castle gate.

Along toward 8 o’clock the dragon came clattering up the highway and thumped on the gate.

“Good evening, pretty creature!” said Jeffry, “I’ve been sent especially to entertain you and guide you to the giant’s daughter.” Now dragons are really very vain, and the great, ugly monster was so flattered when it heard Jeffry call it pretty creature that it relaxed somewhat of its fierce watchfulness. Jeffry, noticing this, began to strum softly on his fiddle and so magical was his touch and so sleepy his song that the dragon uncurled its claws and fell asleep directly. To walk out and chop off its head was the work of a minute, and in the next minute Jeffery was thumping on the giant’s tower door. With trembling voice the giant bade him go away, thinking, of course, it was the dragon; but the youth soon told him the way of things and thereupon the door was flung open and such a rejoicing took place as never happened before or since.

Jeffry, being a modest youth, did not like to speak so soon of his reward, though he was all impatience to be off to the Princess again. But at supper the giant bethought himself of his promise.

“What is it you desire of me?” he roared jovially, and winked at his daughter. Jeffry, with his eyes on the maiden’s fair hair, spoke: “May I have the lock that I choose?” The girl dimpled and the giant roared louder than ever.

“Most certainly, my modest youth; take them all!” he added generously. For, naturally, the giant thought he meant a lock of his daughter’s hair. But Jeffry meant nothing of the sort. Standing up he cried boldly:

“Then I’ll have the hill-lock back of the castle!”

The giant’s brows darkened like thunder, for in a strong box beneath the hill-lock was half of his gold and treasure.

“You promised!” said Jeffry softly. “Shall it be said that a giant’s word is naught? Is not your daughter worth more to you than this small portion of treasure?”

The giant had his doubts about that, but he knew he was caught. With very bad grace he made over the hill-lock to Jeffry, and that very same night when every one was asleep, Jeffry, with the strong box tied upon three horses, which he borrowed from the giant’s stable, slipped out of the kingdom. 

’Twas just as well, for the giant was already planning to drop him noiselessly into the moat. That’s all, except, of course, the wedding. The Princess was overjoyed when brave Jeffry and his fortune returned, and after the excellent fashion of the time they lived happily ever after.



THE FORGETFUL POET
 
By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 31, 1920. 
 
 
Puzzle Corner
 
The Forgetful Poet is feeling very lively and full of jokes, and the more jokey he feels the easier his riddles are; or, so it seems to me. What do you think?

It comes on cake,
And that ain’t all,
It comes on windows,
And it comes in -----

Breakfast food
Of different makes,
Comes like -----
In little-----.

A queenly flower
In the fall does come,
Even if we call her
-----?

It comes in sheets
And it comes in icicles,
And the boys and girls
It surely tickles!


Last week’s answers were false-face [sic, Halloween] and me.

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

Thursday, December 15, 2016

THE FROG BROTHERS’ CIRCUS

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of Kabumpo in Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard in Oz, and The Wish Express, etc.
Illustration by Charles J. Coll

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 4, 1919.



The Frog Brothers’ Circus
Has put up its tents
On the border of Lily Pond Park

And the crowds in the evening
Are simply immense.
(So the Meadowville papers remark.)

’Tis a three-ring affair
With some wonderful freaks,
So no wonder there’s so much festivity.

A chicken who quacks,
And a lizard who squeaks,
And the fattest old frog in captivity!

The Meadowville children
Are dancing with glee,
And whole families are thronging the roads

To the Frog Brothers’ Circus—
Wee chipmunks and mice,
Little ducklings and froglings and toads.!

Even rabbits and moles,
Even turtles and snails,
Even fairies, they tell me, attend.

And they all hurry home
With such marvellous tales
I feel sure it’s a show to commend!

There are tight-walking frogs
And trained poly-wogs
Exactly like seals, so they say;

There are merry mice clowns
From a string of strange towns,
And you just ought to hear the band play.

Frog tumblers and jugglers,
And wild leaping hares
Ridden bareback by fearless young mice—

Yes, from all that I hear
I’ve decided, my dear,
That it must be tremendously nice!



THE FORGETFUL POET
 
By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 24, 1920.

 

Puzzles

“Why,” says the Forgetful Poet, “why are mice so anxious to get to the moon?”

Last week’s answers were: Ireland (Emerald Isle), Delaware (Diamond State). The verse should have read:

There are capitals in every state
And periods in history,
And if you think of this a bit
You’ll puzzle out the mystery.

Halloween
and scare were the words left out of the last verse.
And, now, can you make out these lines?

A man can have two faces,
If you know just what I mean;
One for every day, of course,
And one for -----!

I looked in a pool,
’Twas twelve o’clock,
To see my fate;
Oh, what a shock!

What is this homely
Face I see?
I looked again
I saw ’twas -----.
 


[Answers next time.] 

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

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Adoption of Claus from THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF SANTA CLAUS

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

This excerpt was originally published in The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, 1902. We present it this month to celebrate the release of the new edition of the book with illustrations by Eric Shanower and published by IDW.


2. The Child of the Forest 
Once, so long ago our great-grandfathers could scarcely have heard it mentioned, there lived within the great Forest of Burzee a wood-nymph named Necile. She was closely related to the mighty Queen Zurline, and her home was beneath the shade of a widespreading oak. Once every year, on Budding Day, when the trees put forth their new buds, Necile held the Golden Chalice of Ak to the lips of the Queen, who drank therefrom to the prosperity of the Forest. So you see she was a nymph of some importance, and, moreover, it is said she was highly regarded because of her beauty and grace. 

When she was created she could not have told; Queen Zurline could not have told; the great Ak himself could not have told. It was long ago when the world was new and nymphs were needed to guard the forests and to minister to the wants of the young trees. Then, on some day not remembered, Necile sprang into being; radiant, lovely, straight and slim as the sapling she was created to guard. 

Her hair was the color that lines a chestnut-bur; her eyes were blue in the sunlight and purple in the shade; her cheeks bloomed with the faint pink that edges the clouds at sunset; her lips were full red, pouting and sweet. For costume she adopted oak-leaf green; all the wood-nymphs dress in that color and know no other so desirable. Her dainty feet were sandal-clad, while her head remained bare of covering other than her silken tresses. 

Necile's duties were few and simple. She kept hurtful weeds from growing beneath her trees and sapping the earth-food required by her charges. She frightened away the Gadgols, who took evil delight in flying against the tree-trunks and wounding them so that they drooped and died from the poisonous contact. In dry seasons she carried water from the brooks and pools and moistened the roots of her thirsty dependents. 

That was in the beginning. The weeds had now learned to avoid the forests where wood-nymphs dwelt; the loathsome Gadgols no longer dared come nigh; the trees had become old and sturdy and could bear the drought better than when fresh-sprouted. So Necile's duties were lessened, and time grew laggard, while succeeding years became more tiresome and uneventful than the nymph's joyous spirit loved. 

Truly the forest-dwellers did not lack amusement. Each full moon they danced in the Royal Circle of the Queen. There were also the Feast of Nuts, the Jubilee of Autumn Tintings, the solemn ceremony of Leaf Shedding and the revelry of Budding Day. But these periods of enjoyment were far apart, and left many weary hours between. 

That a wood-nymph should grow discontented was not thought of by Necile's sisters. It came upon her only after many years of brooding. But when once she had settled in her mind that life was irksome she had no patience with her condition, and longed to do something of real interest and to pass her days in ways hitherto undreamed of by forest nymphs. The Law of the Forest alone restrained her from going forth in search of adventure. 

While this mood lay heavy upon pretty Necile it chanced that the great Ak visited the Forest of Burzee and allowed the wood-nymphs as was their wont—to lie at his feet and listen to the words of wisdom that fell from his lips. Ak is the Master Woodsman of the world; he sees everything, and knows more than the sons of men. 

That night he held the Queen's hand, for he loved the nymphs as a father loves his children; and Necile lay at his feet with many of her sisters and earnestly harkened as he spoke. 

"We live so happily, my fair ones, in our forest glades," said Ak, stroking his grizzled beard thoughtfully, "that we know nothing of the sorrow and misery that fall to the lot of those poor mortals who inhabit the open spaces of the earth. They are not of our race, it is true, yet compassion well befits beings so fairly favored as ourselves. Often as I pass by the dwelling of some suffering mortal I am tempted to stop and banish the poor thing's misery. Yet suffering, in moderation, is the natural lot of mortals, and it is not our place to interfere with the laws of Nature." 

"Nevertheless," said the fair Queen, nodding her golden head at the Master Woodsman, "it would not be a vain guess that Ak has often assisted these hapless mortals." 

Ak smiled. 

"Sometimes," he replied, "when they are very young—'children,' the mortals call them—I have stopped to rescue them from misery. The men and women I dare not interfere with; they must bear the burdens Nature has imposed upon them. But the helpless infants, the innocent children of men, have a right to be happy until they become full-grown and able to bear the trials of humanity. So I feel I am justified in assisting them. Not long ago—a year, maybe—I found four poor children huddled in a wooden hut, slowly freezing to death. Their parents had gone to a neighboring village for food, and had left a fire to warm their little ones while they were absent. But a storm arose and drifted the snow in their path, so they were long on the road. Meantime the fire went out and the frost crept into the bones of the waiting children." 

"Poor things!" murmured the Queen softly. "What did you do?" 

"I called Nelko, bidding him fetch wood from my forests and breathe upon it until the fire blazed again and warmed the little room where the children lay. Then they ceased shivering and fell asleep until their parents came." 

"I am glad you did thus," said the good Queen, beaming upon the Master; and Necile, who had eagerly listened to every word, echoed in a whisper: "I, too, am glad!" 

"And this very night," continued Ak, "as I came to the edge of Burzee I heard a feeble cry, which I judged came from a human infant. I looked about me and found, close to the forest, a helpless babe, lying quite naked upon the grasses and wailing piteously. Not far away, screened by the forest, crouched Shiegra, the lioness, intent upon devouring the infant for her evening meal." 

"And what did you do, Ak?" asked the Queen, breathlessly. 

"Not much, being in a hurry to greet my nymphs. But I commanded Shiegra to lie close to the babe, and to give it her milk to quiet its hunger. And I told her to send word throughout the forest, to all beasts and reptiles, that the child should not be harmed." 

"I am glad you did thus," said the good Queen again, in a tone of relief; but this time Necile did not echo her words, for the nymph, filled with a strange resolve, had suddenly stolen away from the group. 

Swiftly her lithe form darted through the forest paths until she reached the edge of mighty Burzee, when she paused to gaze curiously about her. Never until now had she ventured so far, for the Law of the Forest had placed the nymphs in its inmost depths. 

Necile knew she was breaking the Law, but the thought did not give pause to her dainty feet. She had decided to see with her own eyes this infant Ak had told of, for she had never yet beheld a child of man. All the immortals are full-grown; there are no children among them. Peering through the trees Necile saw the child lying on the grass. But now it was sweetly sleeping, having been comforted by the milk drawn from Shiegra. It was not old enough to know what peril means; if it did not feel hunger it was content. 

Softly the nymph stole to the side of the babe and knelt upon the sward, her long robe of rose leaf color spreading about her like a gossamer cloud. Her lovely countenance expressed curiosity and surprise, but, most of all, a tender, womanly pity. The babe was newborn, chubby and pink. It was entirely helpless. While the nymph gazed the infant opened its eyes, smiled upon her, and stretched out two dimpled arms. In another instant Necile had caught it to her breast and was hurrying with it through the forest paths.



3. The Adoption

The Master Woodsman suddenly rose, with knitted brows. "There is a strange presence in the Forest," he declared. Then the Queen and her nymphs turned and saw standing before them Necile, with the sleeping infant clasped tightly in her arms and a defiant look in her deep blue eyes. 

And thus for a moment they remained, the nymphs filled with surprise and consternation, but the brow of the Master Woodsman gradually clearing as he gazed intently upon the beautiful immortal who had wilfully broken the Law. Then the great Ak, to the wonder of all, laid his hand softly on Necile's flowing locks and kissed her on her fair forehead. 

"For the first time within my knowledge," said he, gently, "a nymph has defied me and my laws; yet in my heart can I find no word of chiding. What is your desire, Necile?" 

"Let me keep the child!" she answered, beginning to tremble and falling on her knees in supplication. 

"Here, in the Forest of Burzee, where the human race has never yet penetrated?" questioned Ak. 

"Here, in the Forest of Burzee," replied the nymph, boldly. "It is my home, and I am weary for lack of occupation. Let me care for the babe! See how weak and helpless it is. Surely it can not harm Burzee nor the Master Woodsman of the World!" 

"But the Law, child, the Law!" cried Ak, sternly. 

"The Law is made by the Master Woodsman," returned Necile; "if he bids me care for the babe he himself has saved from death, who in all the world dare oppose me?" Queen Zurline, who had listened intently to this conversation, clapped her pretty hands gleefully at the nymph's answer. 

"You are fairly trapped, O Ak!" she exclaimed, laughing. "Now, I pray you, give heed to Necile's petition." 

The Woodsman, as was his habit when in thought, stroked his grizzled beard slowly. Then he said:
 
"She shall keep the babe, and I will give it my protection. But I warn you all that as this is the first time I have relaxed the Law, so shall it be the last time. Never more, to the end of the World, shall a mortal be adopted by an immortal. Otherwise would we abandon our happy existence for one of trouble and anxiety. Good night, my nymphs!" 

Then Ak was gone from their midst, and Necile hurried away to her bower to rejoice over her new-found treasure.


THE FORGETFUL POET
By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 17, 1920.

Puzzles

The answers to the places to live in were Villa, Inn, T.P. (teepee), Manor.

The Forgetful Poet wants to know why people say “Sleep like a top.” Did any of you ever hear of a top sleeping?

A jewel will give the pet name of a famous island.

Another jewel will give the pet name of a state.

There are A, B, C, D, G, K in every state
And ….. in History.
Now if you think of this a bit
You’ll puzzle out the mystery.

It’s two weeks off,
So you’d better beware.
 I mean -----
And you’re in for a -----.

[Answers next time.]

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A JOUST OF MANY YEARS AGO

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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 7, 1917.



Heighho, and do you know why the Earls of Kinsale keep on their hats in the presence of royalty, do you now? I’ll warrant you do not, so listen to my story: Back many a year, in the reign of King John, when every manner of difficulty was settled by wager of battle and Knights did nought else but gird on their armor, there lived a brave man named John De Courcy. And presently we shall come to him.

In those days, as in these, there were constant arguments between countries and the argument in question was about the title of a certain town in France. King John claimed it for England and King Philip for France, and the latter proposed that it be settled by wager of battle. And what a howdedo there was—what  with the erection of galleries, the invitations to notables and picking of the champions to decide the wager. Now, in all England there was no swordsman so courageous as John De Courcy, and De Courcy was, therefore, chosen to fight the battle for England. With great honor they conducted him from the tower of London where he was unjustly imprisoned and, after listening to their advances he exclaimed, haughtily, “My country, not my King, shall have my services.” And as King John needed him badly he overlooked this manly though not quite loyal speech. Though what can one expect when kings are so mean and incompetent as John of England, and when one has been unjustly deprived of liberty?

Well, the day for the joust arrived; the princes and nobility of both nations were seated in the galleries. First the French champion issued forth, galloped once around the field, then returned to his tent. Now De Courcy appeared and went through a similar ceremony, then the trumpets sounded and both champions advanced to the combat. But combat there was none, for the stern aspect of De Courcy, his giant form, his perfect command of sword and steed struck such terror in the French champion’s heart that he wheeled ’round, broke the barrier and fled the field. Then up spoke the trumpets again, this time to proclaim the victory of the English King, but King Philip protested and insisted that De Courcy give some evidence of his surpassing strength. Accordingly a stake was set up, a shirt and helmet of steel placed thereon, and the champion bidden to try his sword on this new adversary. Casting a stern glance at both monarchs, De Courcy raised his powerful arm and cleft the stake so far down that none but himself could withdraw the sword. King Philip announced himself as satisfied and King John, astonished at De Couurcy’s chivalry and strength, restored him to his title, rank and possessions and vowed that besides he should have whatever else he might desire.

“Your generosity,” replied De Courcy, “has placed me beyond any desire for further riches: I shall only ask that it may be permitted to myself and my successors to remain uncovered in the presence of royalty.”

His request was granted and that is why the Earls of Kinsale keep on their hats in the presence of the King and Queen of England.



THE FORGETFUL POET
 
By Ruth Plumly Thompson  
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 10, 1920.

 
Puzzles

The words left out of last week’s verses were vine, pies and size.

Out of the word pumpkin we can make imp and punk and kin and pump, and a pumpkin is unlike a hungry little boy because it grins when it’s hollow. Peter Pumpkin Eater and Cinderella are the story-book folks related to the pumpkin family.
And a turtle wears a shell for shelter, of course.

PLACES WHERE WE LIVE

A Mexican bandit will give
The name of a place where folks live.

The very opposite of out
Will give another place, no doubt.

Two letters from the alphabet
Will lodge an Injun. Guessed it yet?

A musical sign gives a dwelling place fine,
Though some folks prefer their own garden and vine!


[Answers next time. Thompson’s writing is presented above as originally published in 1920. No ethnic slur is intended by Hungry Tiger Press and none should be inferred.]  

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