Tuesday, November 1, 2022

STRENUOUS BOBBY, WILLIE WHISKERS AND THE BLUE BULL PUP

by W. W. Denslow
Author of Denslow's Scarecrow and Tinman, original illustrator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Father Goose: His Book, Dot and Tot of Merryland, etc.

Published May 18, 1902, in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.


Click image to enlarge.


Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, March 10, 1918.

Supposyville Has a Wishing Time of It


The Wishing Day set by the King
All duly doth arrive;
With laugh and jest, dressed in their best,
Supposies block the drive.
The King’s Highway, the castle green,
And sit upon the fences;
A shrill blast from the pages and
The Wishing Test commences.

The Fairies gave the King a wish—
He tried and tried and tried,
But found himself, the dear old thing,
Completely satisfied!
The Queen likewise declared herself
Without a wish, so now
They’ve called the good Supposies up
To ask them where and how

To use the wish. Well, well, upon
My heart! they sat there blinking,
All solemnlike and serious,
A thinking, thinking, thinking!
The King began to look distressed,
When not a sound he hears;
“They’re out of practice, for they haven’t
Wished,” sighed he, “for years!”

The whole truth of the matter, dears
And ducks, was this alone;
In the whole Supposy Kingdom
There was not one wee wishbone—
No wishbone, dears, among them.
“Here’s a pretty howdedo,”
Quoth the Queen unto her consort,
“Trying to wish has made us blue!”

“We must use the wish or else
The fairies will be hurt,” said he.
“Ahem! I’ll have to try again.
Ahem! just let me see.”
It was no use; in that delightful
Kingdom—there was naught
To want or wish for; there they sat
And thought and thought and thought.

Just glancing o’er the garden wall
Their giant neighbor spied ’em
Looking so solemn, he called across
To know what ’twas that tried ’em.
At that the King jumped up and called,
“Big neighbor, if you had
A wish, what would you wish with it?”
“A wish?” quoth he. “Egad!

“If wishing were of use at all
I’d wish myself a wife,
For I’m a social giant and
I lead a lonely life!”
“Heighho!” the King bounced to his feet
And roared with mirth and glee,
“I wish our neighbor here a wife
As fine and big as he!”

A rumble shook the earth; the good
Supposies all fell flat,
And when they rose—well, what you ’spose?
Upon the wall there sat
A huge and lovely giant girl,
Tremendously delightful.
Indeed she was amazingly
Good looking and a sightfull.

The marriage was arranged and then
Was tied upon the spot,
And all Supposyville was there.
Exciting, was it not?

Copyright © 2022 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 31, 2022

THAT “WONDERFUL” CANOE RIDE OF TED AND JACK

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of The Gnome King of Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 7, 1916.

 

He would go! In spite of all the horrible stories we told him, in spite of all the good advice about the proper place for boys, in spite of everything, in fact, he and Ted quietly went on with their preparations to go from Philadelphia to Cape May by canoe.

Their allowance was not very large, and it took quite a bit of planning and self-sacrifice to buy the canned goods, coffee, salt and sugar. But they bought a little at a time and finally one very sultry Monday in the early part of August they started off on the great adventure.

“I can’t see why you brought these blankets along, Jack,” Ted complained bitterly, while they were carrying supplies to the canoe. “We’ll never in the world need them!”

“That’s all you know about it,” was Jack’s scathing rejoinder, “and you’d jolly well better take good care of them, too; they’re mother’s, and these rubber camping blankets we borrowed won’t feel very soft.”

Silently and perspiringly they stored away their provisions and blankets and the suit of clothes they had worn over their bathing suits, but when they were finally seated in the canoe and all was ready for the start their spirits rose. It was only 5 o’clock and the river was really lovely.

“Take slow, easy strokes, Ted,” advised Jack, “and we’ll keep inshore on account of the wash from the boats. Take it easy, now! Remember that you’re pretty soft!”

Where they were going to spend the night the two had no idea, preferring to “just go until we’re tired and then we can go ashore and make camp on the bank!”

By 10 o’clock the sun was very warm, and both boys’ faces, arms and shoulders were a fiery red.

“I say! Let’s get under shelter for a little while,” Ted said at last. Jack looked at him and quietly handed him his coat and slipped into his own. The rough serge scratched and rubbed their tender arms and shoulders, but it protected them somewhat and they “stuck” at it, getting occasional rests by letting the canoe drift with the current.

Twice they were nearly upset by passing steamers, but Jack saved the day both times by quick action.

By 6 o’clock they were both completely exhausted and paddled slowly along the shore to find a place to land and cook their supper. For one hour they searched, but no solid land was in sight—only marshes. There were billions of mosquitoes and green flies, which settled on their sunburned shoulders, and they were forced to stay several yards from the shore while they ate their cold tinned supper.

Such a night! Most of it was spent wrapped in the hot suffocating blankets, with a dive overboard when the mosquitoes became too bad. Their muscles, especially Ted’s, ached from the steady paddling, and the sunburned shoulders raised in huge white blisters which burned and throbbed.

At the first streak of light they started off again, bound to “be game.” Once they landed and sent postals home, telling what a wonderful trip they were having. They also bought a cup of coffee and these extravagances reduced their money to 17 cents between them.

About 5 o’clock in the afternoon the sun went in and a cool damp breeze started up, making it difficult to keep the canoe steady. The river became very rough, and Jack insisted that they keep close to the shore. “We’ll be eaten alive! I simply cannot stand one thing more,” complained Ted and gave his paddle a jerk.

Over went the canoe—trousers, money, mother’s blankets, borrowed camping blankets, food and boys all were plunged into the water. Fortunately, both boys were good swimmers and were able to clamber into the canoe again after a struggle, but everything was lost. To make matters worse, it started to rain and chilled the boys to the bone.

Ted began to shiver and Jack could hear his teeth chattering. Drawing the canoe closer to shore and holding her with one hand by the tall marsh grass, Jack took off his wet coat and wrapped that around his friend.

“I w-w-wish we’d ne-ver c-c-come!”

Jack wished so, too, but wishing did not help matters at all. Ted tossed and moaned all night, until about 2 o’clock, when he became very still. Strain his ears as he might, Jack could not hear him breathe, and when he reached out a cautious hand (for it was pitch dark) he could feel no sigh of life.

“He’s dead! I’ve killed him! What shall I do?” he sobbed over and over to himself. He was a boy who decided things quickly, and pushing out into the current he paddled along blindly, guiding the canoe by lights he could see down the river.

By 6 o’clock he reached a settlement, and, after waking up nearly all the people, succeeded in finding a doctor!

Ted was not dead! It was simply hunger, exposure, and exhaustion, and a long sleep did wonders for him.

The question now was how to get home. They had no money and no clothes (their bathing suits being hardly suitable for traveling). They had suitcases, which they had expressed down to Cape May, but they were just as far from there as they were from home.

The doctor finally agreed to let them have the fare to Cape May, and, by helping the baggage master, they were allowed to ride in the baggage car in their scanty clothing.

It was Friday when they arrived and they had not had a real meal since Tuesday. A sympathetic friend filled them up on delicious griddle cakes, honey and coffee and they telegraphed home for money.

They were the most forlorn boys you could imagine. The blisters had broken and their shoulders and necks were raw. They had lost about 10 pounds and their faces were drawn and white with exhaustion. They simply fell into bed and slept two whole days, only waking long enough to eat.

They will never take another canoe trip. It took them a whole year to pay for the blankets they lost overboard, and they have been teased unmercifully. (You know yourself how you would hate that.)


Originally published in the Evansville (Indiana) Journal-News, March 3, 1918.
 
The King’s Dilemma

Time passes in Supposyville
So swiftly and so sweetly
’Tis just a wonder that they don’t
Lose track of it completely!

But what I started out to tell
Was of the strangest thing,
That happened not so long ago
To none less than the King.

The sun had just slipped down the steps
Of skytown, and the moon
Looked out her window yawning ’cause
She had to rise so soon.

The King was softly treading here
And there with bits of cake.
“The fairies of the garden now
Will soon begin to wake!”

He chuckled to himself, when all
At once, and in a ring,
Up from the ground a hundred of
The little people spring.

They lightly dance around him.
“Merry monarch, for your care
And thoughtfulness we grant to you
A wish—pray wish it fair!”

Then dropping at his feet a little
Note of blue that said,
“Open when you wish,” away
Into the dusk they sped.

Not knowing whether he had dreamed,
Down sat the kindly King
And thought and thought and thought and thought
And couldn’t find a thing

To wish for. “I will ask the Queen.”
They both sat down and thought.
“My dear,” thus spoke the Queen at last,
“’Tis clear we wish for naught!”

And though that may sound funny,
As doubtless now it will,
Remember what a happy place
Is old Supposyville!

“Let’s put the wish away until
It’s needed” laughed the King.
“That might offend the fairies,”
Said the Queen. “Suppose we bring

Our subjects all together and
Let every one suggest
A wish.” “Quite right,” the good King beamed,
“Of course that will be best!”

So lo! a wishing day’s proclaimed,
And if I am invited
I’ll tell you just what happens—my!
Supposyville’s excited! 
 
Copyright © 2022 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

LET'S TRADE MICROBES

By L. Frank Baum

From the unproduced musical comedy The Girl from Oz, circa 1909.


ELILE:

                                        They say it’s very wrong to kiss,
                                            And dangerous and rude,
                                        For microbes linger on the lips—
                                            A wild, ferocious brood!
                                        And science warns us when lips meet
                                        The bugs are knocked from off their feet
                                        And there and back with every smack
                                            They’re tossed and strewed.

JACK:
                                                Let’s trade microbes!
POLLY:
                                                                                I’ll agree!
DICK:
                                                Any bug that loves your lips
                                                    Will just suit me.
JACK:
                                                Let my-crobes by thy-crobes, and thine
                                                I’ll gladly take instead of mine;
POLLY:
                                                I’m not afraid, so let us trade—
ALL:
                                                    ’Twill just suit me!

                                                                (Quartette repeats refrain.)

JACK:

                                        They’re going to pass a Pure Kiss Law
                                            The young folks to allure;
                                        The kiss and girl will both be chased,
                                            We’ll run ’em down for sure.
                                        It’s scientific, but it’s queer;
                                        The Kiss Inspector won’t be near,
                                        And antisceptic [sic] lips I fear
                                            We can’t endure.

POLLY:

                                        The festive microbe’s everywhere—
                                            He’s even in the hash;
                                        He burrows in our prayer-books
                                            And clings to all our cash.
                                        So what’s the harm if from our lips
                                        The tiny rascal nectar sips?
                                        And if to other lips he skips
                                            Why, let him go!
 
                                                                (Refrain as before.)

DICK:

                                        If kissing is contagious, then
                                            We can’t escape our fate.
                                        It’s up to all courageous men
                                            To boldly osculate.
                                        It may be deadly dangerous
                                        A girlish mouth to madly muss,
                                        But it’s a risk that most of us
                                            Will undertake.

JACK:
                                                Let’s trade microbes!
ELILE:
                                                                            I’ll agree!
DICK:
                                                Any bug that loves your lips
                                                    Will just suit me!
POLLY:
                                                The kissing-bug is out of date,
                                                The microbe’s here, so let me state
                                                I’m not afraid—
ELILE:
                                                                                Then let us trade---
ALL:
                                                    ’Twill just suit me!
 
 

 Philadelphia Public Ledger, February 24, 1918.
 
 
The First Spring Thaw in Supposyville

They’re always celebrating
In Supposyville. Some reason
For happiness and joy they find
In every single season!

And while the rest of us go grumbling
Through each month and year,
A-wishing it were summer
Or that spring or fall were here,

This merry realm picks all the plums
It can pick from the present—
And really, come to think of it,
Their plan is much more pleasant.

And, they’re making now the greatest,
Biggest fuss you ever saw
A-celebrating—bless my heart
And heels—the first spring thaw!

A party at the castle’s called
Without the least delay—
If each had made a million
He could not appear more gay!

“’Tis time to think of gardens,
Of planting and new clothes;
’Tis time to clean the rust and dust
From plowshares, rakes and hoes.”

Thus cry the couriers from all
The corners of the town,
“You’re bidden to the castle.
’Tis the order of the crown.”

And there the entertainment is
Of such a kind and quality,
No word of mine can half express
The pure delight and jollity

With which Supposies plan to meet
The coming of the spring.
The Queen advises them about
Apparel, while the King

Sets all the Lords High This and That
A-planning garden plots.
And each goes home just burdened down
With seeds and flower pots,

With patterns, muslins, bits of silk—
There’s not a thing too small
To interest Supposy folk.
Dear, how I love them all!

Copyright © 2022 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 1, 2022

OLIVER ELEPHANT

By Ruth Plumly Thompson  

Author of The Hungry Tiger of Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.
 
As published in the Houston Post, August 1, 1915.


The jungle school was over. Professor Bear had packed up his belongings and taken himself off on a fishing trip. A family of monkeys had rented the school house for the summer and everyone was very happy—especially Oliver Elephant. Every day he and Tommy Tapir went on a picnic—and they fished and swam and played all the jungle games you ever heard of—and some that you have not!

Sometimes Uncle Abner went along and told them one of his stories, of which he a trunk full, I assure you! He was not with them this time, however. “It’s too hot!” he said when Oliver and Tommy asked him to go along—and putting his newspaper over his head he had settled down for a nap in his chair.

It certainly was hot—and when it is hot in the jungle, my dears, it is like four Fourth of Julys rolled into one. Tommy and Oliver took turns carrying the lunch, and two or three times they had to stop and refresh themselves with some cold palm leaf tea which Mother Elephant had thoughtfully sent along in a milk bottle. Oliver Elephant, being the stouter, seemed to feel the heat more. He wet his handkerchief in the tea and tied it over the top of his head, and plucking a whole handful of palm leaves, walked along fanning himself vigorously.

At last they came to a deep jungle pool, and, dropping their basket, they shed their clothes and plunged in for a swim. “Let’s have a game of cocoa nut pins,” said Tommy Tapir as they scrambled out feeling very much refreshed. Now, cocoa nut pins is a game much like ten pins—except that you use cocoa nuts for balls. They were soon so deeply engrossed in the game that neither noticed the black clouds that were gathering overhead. “I win,” cried Oliver Elephant, who had just knocked over all ten men. “S—s—aa—ay!” For suddenly he realized how dark it had become.

“Tracks for home!” cried Tommy Tapir, seizing his jacket and falling over a twisted root in his excitement. Before Oliver had time to answer—or Tommy time to pick himself up—it grew dark as ink. The wind shrieked through the trees, bending them double, and rain fell in stinging lashes. Fierce jungle beasts began to rush wildly by. “Tommy,” wailed Oliver Elephant, “where are you?” “Here,” called Tommy faintly. Oliver rushed toward the place where the voice came from but collided violently with a tree and sat down on the lunch basket. “Help!” he shrieked dismally, but no help came.

“What’s that?” whispered Oliver Elephant suddenly, for above the shriek of the wind something was crying bitterly. “Better stay where you are!” warned Tommy Tapir, “It might bite you!” “I believe it’s more frightened than I am,” thought Oliver Elephant! And do you know—as soon as he began to think about someone else being more scared than himself—why—he stopped being scared—right off! He felt around cautiously in the dark with his trunk, for the cries seemed very close. The next minute he gave a little jump, for he touched something warm and soft and very wet! “Ugh!” shivered Oliver Elephant, nervously, then all at once he thought of the Perhappsy chaps! “I don’t believe they would be scared to help anyone, and look how much larger and stronger I am,” he thought. Out went his trunk again, and this time it wound tightly around the soft frightened bit of warmness and lifted it out of the pool of water where it was lying!

It stopped crying immediately and snuggled close against Oliver’s jacket! “O—w!” screamed Tommy Tapir as a flying stone hit him in the nose. “Can’t you keep quiet!” hissed Oliver Elephant warningly—“do you want to frighten it again?”

It had gradually grown lighter—the rain ceased and the wind died down. Very stiffly Tommy Tapir got to his feet and dragged himself over to where Oliver Elephant was sitting on the lunch! Oliver was so surprised that he scarcely noticed Tommy, for curled up close in his trunk was a dear little brown jungle boy. “A Two-leg!” gasped Tommy. “Throw it away, Oliver! Throw it away!” Oliver got slowly to his feet. “It’s tired and wet, and I’m going to take it home!” he said decidedly. And he did!

Poor Mother Elephant had been wringing her trunk she was so worried about Oliver. Father Elephant and Uncle Abner had gone for the sheriff, and the whole house was upside down when Oliver Elephant got home. Imagine her surprise when she saw the little baby. She hugged Oliver, then Tommy and then both of them. The little baby she wrapped in her apron and put to sleep in the work basket, after giving it a thimble full of soup. Next day Uncle Abner, who knew a tame Elephant working in the [Two-legs] camp, called him on the vine-o-phone and he came over and got the baby—and everybody was happy, especially Oliver Elephant!


Originally published in the Evansville (Indiana) Journal-News, February 24, 1918.


How the Supposies Spend St. Valentine’s


From every turret, door and house
A silken banner’s swung,
And all Supposyville with ribbons,
Hearts and darts is hung.

And Valentines come pattering
From unexpected places—
Of perfumed paper, candy ribbons,
Flowers, dainty laces.

The postmen can’t be seen at all
Beneath their merry loads,
And couriers and messengers
Post down the lanes and roads.

With tender missives from the Queen
And presents from the King,
Aho! there is no telling what
The merry day may bring!

A rhyme absurd, a dickey bird,
A book, a ring, a wedding,
With faces glowing with delight
Supposy folk go treading.

These hearty folks delight in jokes,
And with this end in view
Each tries his neighbor and his friends
To outwit and outdo.

All day the castle is thrown open;
Heart-shaped cakes and tea
Are served to all; it would appall
A hostess here to see

A million cakes melt like snowflakes
Before the jolly legions.
As for the tea consumed, ’twould cause
A riot in these regions.

If I could choose the place to spend
St. Valentine’s, I’d fill
My heart with merry thoughts and hie
Me to Supposyville.

Copyright © 2022 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 1, 2022

SHE GETS HER DANDER UP AND GOES BACK ON POLITICS

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

Originally published in the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, November 1, 1890.
Idiosyncratic spelling and punctuation retained.


“Yesterday night,” said our landlady, as she set the table carefully, and arranged a knife, fork and spoon beside each boarder’s plate, “were All-halloween an’ there were quite a select party held ter celebrate the event.”

“Did you go?” asked Tom, eying the table hungrily.

“You bet I did, an’ I’m glad of it, although I feel almost as rocky as the fellers did as went ter Columbia We’nsday night. All the boys was with our party, an’ the fust thing we done was to bob fer apples. As apples is high priced this year everybody laid ’emselves out to git suthin’. Tommy Camburn he bobbed for an appel maked ‘apintment,’ but it had so much Moody grease on it that he couldn’t get hold. Johnnie Drake he bobbed fer another ‘appintment’ appel, an’ cried because he said Jumper had hoodooed it. Jump he bobbed fer an appel marked ‘popularity,’ but it were too smooth fer his teeth. Hank Williams were after a boodle appel and Johnnie Firey fit him so hard they didn’t either of ’em git it. Billy Kidd grabbed a appel marked ‘injipendents truths,’ an’ found it rotton inside, an’ Frank Brown’s ‘speckilation’ appel were as holler as a drum. Slosser wanted the biggest appel they was there, an’ he got his fangs on it, too, but when he opened it, it were full o’ wind and gaul an’ he didn’t seem ter enjoy it much. Elder McBride got his eye on the ‘Pierre’ appel an’ worked like a nailer for it, but when he got it he found it stuffed with bogus checks and mortgaged lots, an’ the dominie looked kinder sad arter that.

“Then the boys tried goin’ down cellar backerds with a candle an’ a lookin’ glass. Johnnie Firey nearly fainted when he saw Hank Williams dressed as Fate lookin’ over his shoulder, an’ Judge Crofoot smiled kinder meloncolic at the reflection o’ Johnnie Adams in his lookin’-glass. August Witte got skeert at seein’ Bob Moody smile outer the glass at him, an’ Cholly Howard saw a picter where all the common council was on their knees beggin’ ter him fer help. All Dan Shields saw was a big dollar an’ a packidge of Cholly Harris’ stickers an’ he groaned in speerit because he couldn’t git the dollar.

“Finally I got disgusted with the hull thing an’ when Jim Ringrose suggested that it would be more fun to go out and ring door bells, I come home feelin’ as mad as a wet hen.”

“It seems to me that that is your natural condition. The world don’t agree with you.”

“It may be I’m soured,” snapped our landlady in answer to the impertinent remark of the colonel’s, “but I think it’s most enough to sour anybody, the way this political champaign is a goin’. Take the capital fight, for instance. There’s more dirty work done by the real estate robbers o’ Pierre and Huron in one day than there is by the biggest pack o’ thieves in the country in a hull year. I hain’t got nothin’ agin’ the towns, mind ye, it’s the people as is runnin’ them as is disgustin’ everybody that is anybody. If I had a right to vote next Tuesday I’d jest vote fer Bath fer the capital an’ keep my self respec’. But the wimmin don’t vote yet, er things would be different.”

“I’m sorry,” said the doctor, in his mild voice, “that you see fit to criticise people who are only endeavoring to turn an honest penny. But the capital fight is only a small part of the campaign. Now, in politics—”

“It’s worse!” she yelled, slamming down the potatoes so fiercely that the dish separated gracefully into several portions, “it’s enuff sight worse. The republicans is chokin’ the pore injipendents, an’ the demicrats is boostin’ up the farmers an’ laughin’ in their sleeve at the muddle things is in. It ain’t their picnic. This ’ere fight is ’atween the injipendents and the republicans, an’ if the grand ole party didn’t have that old war reckerd ter back ’em they’d come outer the little end o’ the horn, too.”

“I am aware,” said the colonel, sarcastically, “that you favor the independents, but don’t forget that in the hour of the nations’ peril—”

“Fiddlesticks!” cried Mrs. Bilkins, glaring at her opponent, while she brought her clenched fist down plump into the butter dish, “that fight’s been fit thirty year ago! W’ats that got ter do with that ’air McKinley an’ that Silver bill an’ such nonsense? The injipendents is in the right, only I don’t like their kind o’ mud-slingin’ any more’n I do the republicans. It’s a shame fer them to write sech mean things about Johnnie Adams an’ Frank Raymond an’ Jump’ an’ Hank Williams, as has never done no harm to a livin’ critter, an’ only works for the interests o’ their feller men. But it’s just as bad on the other side. Slosser’s paper is so dirty nowadays that you kin hardly read it, an’ the republicans calls my pore friend, Feelyerpaw, a villin an’ pritty near proves it, too! They’ve found out all the wicked things as Loucks an’ Scattergood an’ the other fellers has done when they wasn’t thinkin’ an’ told folks all about it, without considerin’ their feelin’s, an’ even nice, innercent Tom Campburn is gittin’ so he tells stories. Now then, let me ask ye, if there should happen, by any chance to be an honest man left in South Dikoty, what’s he goin’ ter vote fer?”

“The grand old party!” exclaimed the colonel.

“Independence and the Farmers’ rights!” declared the doctor.

“Democracy,” said Tom, “first, last and—”

“Nothin’ o’ the sort,” interrupted our landlady, “if he’s really honest, he’ll jest vote fer ekal suffridge, Bath fer capital, an’—”

“Well?”

“An’ put the rest o’ the tickets inter the fire.”
 

Published in the Buffalo (NY) Courier, February 17, 1918.
 
 
The Day of Inventions in Supposyville

The King of old Supposyville
Believes in all the sciences
And does his best to profit by
Their practical appliances!
To geniuses, forsooth, he lends
An all-attentive ear,
For, as he says, ’tis they who sweep
The paths of progress clear!

A day for every kind is set
Aside. The one I mention
Was that day set for all the men
Most given to invention.
From east and west they came to put
Before the King and Court
Discoveries of every kind
And size and shape and sort.

A prize is offered for the best,
The one’s whose demonstration
Proclaims it the most practical
And useful to the nation.
The King with kindly smile and mien
Hears each in turn and tries
The new inventions—helped, of course,
By Solomon Tremendous Wise.

To tell them all would take a day,
Which I, alas! have not to spare.
Suffice to say ’twas some display—
Indeed I wish you had been there!
Just as the judges all retire
To vote upon the winner;
Just as the courtiers were about
To stop and eat their dinner;
Without a hat or coat—unbrushed—
A-puffing and a-scurrying,
A late inventor man arrived
All breathless from his hurrying.
“Wait!” called the King, “And what have you
Discovered, my dear fellow?”
Between his gasps the old man rasps,
“A Loseless Umber—ella!”

“In fact, an ‘umberella’ that
Cannot be lost or taken,
Forgot or borrowed, left behind
Or otherwisely shaken!”
With bulging eyes the judges hear—
Their wonder is excusable—
An “umberella” of all things
Unlost and quite unlosable!

Pray show us this remarkable
And loseless “umberella.”
Alas! the poor inventor turns
A sudden sickly yellow.
Then cried aloud, “’Tis lost!” He looked
Behind and then before,
At which loud peals of merriment
Rose quickly to a roar.

“He’s lost his loseless ‘umberella’—
Ha—ho!” The judges all retire,
For they had all the evidence that
That invention would require.
And while he went a posting home,
The prize was given to
A likely lad, who proved he had
A double self-inserting screw!

Copyright © 2022 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

OLIVER ELEPHANT SAVES THE DAY

By Ruth Plumly Thompson  

Author of Kabumpo in Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger,


Oliver Elephant was far from home. He had been walking all day and the more he walked the more puzzled he grew as to just where he was and as to just how he should get home again!  I’m afraid he’d been following his nose, pshaw!  I mean his trunk, and as that wasn’t very straight, NO wonder he got lost.

It was growing darker and darker and though Oliver wasn’t afraid, still he could not help feeling uneasy. “I’ll just keep straight on, and if I walk far enough I’m bound to come out somewhere!” he decided sensibly. And pretty soon he did come out somewhere. “Seems to be a road!” he mumbled, feeling carefully ahead with his trunk!  “Cocoanuts!” he spluttered next minute, for he had caught his toe in something and no sooner had he stepped out than his other foot caught. He peered down anxiously, blinking his little eyes in an endeavor to see what kind of road this was that tripped a fellow up every other step.

“Some awful queer animal must have made THESE tracks!” he murmured, scratching his head. But as traveling was much faster here in the open than through the dense jungle he decided to make the best of it, and, accommodating his stride to the queer humps and bumps, managed to get on with tolerable speed.

He was in such a hurry that he really went faster than was safe, for at a sudden turn leading across a dry stream the bottom suddenly fell out of the road and when Oliver Elephant came to his senses he found himself wedged tightly between a lot of broken trees, at least he thought they were trees.

Two of his feet were held fast and jerk and pull as he might he could not get up. “It was bad enough to be lost without being hung,” groaned Oliver, straining with all his might.

“What’s that?  My trunk!  What’s that?”  He flapped his big ears in alarm and listened intently. Coming toward him, though not yet in sight, was some strange and terrible monster. He knew it!  For none of the people of the jungle had a voice like this. It was a roar and a swish and a whistling all in one. “Must be the fellow that made these tracks!” thought Oliver, renewing his struggle to free himself. But it was useless. In desperation, Oliver Elephant felt about with his trunk, jerked up a young tree and resolved to do the best he could to defend himself. “At least I can make as much noise!”  And I should say he could. Waving the tree he forthwith set up such a trumpeting that the shriek of the other monster was completely drowned.

“Throw on the brakes, Mike!—for the love of next week!—what’s ahead?”  The train came grinding to a standstill about ten feet from Oliver. Leaning out of the window, the engineer held his lantern and peered into the gloom. “Flagged by an elephant, begorry!” he burst out in astonishment.

Oliver was much surprised at the cowardly halt of the great black creature and his wonderment knew no bounds when a lot of two legs began to pour out of its sides and stare at him curiously.

“Well, it’s lucky for us that yon big beast was abroad this night!”  The engineer wiped the perspiration from his forehead as he looked at the nasty break in the tracks and thought what MIGHT have happened if the train had rolled down the embankment. “Three cheers for his majesty!” cried the fireman, throwing his hat into the air, and all the passengers joined in with a will. Oliver was still very much puzzled, but there was no mistaking the sound of that cheer—it was friendly. These men liked him and though he had always been warned against two legs, something told him that he was safe. So he dropped the tree and waved his trunk politely. At this the two legs went mad with delight. “Let’s help him out!  Hurrah for the elephant!  Good boy!”  The engineer got his ax and the fireman an iron bar. The ladies gingerly offered crackers, which Oliver as gingerly accepted, but found them so much to his taste that he did not notice the engineer and fireman approach. With two or three well-directed blows they had broken the rails that held him suspended in the air. There was another crash—everybody jumped aside and great, gray Oliver rolled down into the dry bed of the stream.

Much shaken, he arose, took a long curious look at the puffing black beast and all the cheering two legs, gave a little trumpet of thanks, then swung around and disappeared into the black jungle. For now he knew the way home, for was not the two legs’ country west of his own?  Tired and footsore he arrived there at daybreak, and I’ll leave you to imagine what his mother and father and Uncle Abner thought of his adventure.

But that was Oliver’s first experience with a railroad.


Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, February 3, 1918

The Latest Supposyville Proclamation

Upon my head and heels—and heart!
Upon my soul—I never
Saw any King so wise and kind—
So funny—or so clever
As the monarch of Supposyville.
His latest proclamation—
Is causing just a gale of glee
In that delightful nation.
One morning fifty couriers—
Went clattering down the highways—
While fifty more went posting off
To all the lanes and byways.
Each home and house was entered
And in manner short and cursory
A Royal Proclamation, dears—
Was posted in each nursery.

“Whereas—” all proclamations
Should start thusly—ducks and dears—
“Whereas—a certain state of things
Has lately reached my ears—
I do appoint a week of rest
From play—for all the TOYS.
Therefore, take heed, ye nurses,
And ye little girls and boys.
These toyfolks are my subjects—
Same as you—and I’ve reflected
Upon their welfare—which I find—
Is shamefully neglected.

For play to them is work—you know
And work to them—is play
And taken all in all—they need
A good long workaday.

Take Punch and Judy—they are tired
With their continual strife—
And Punch in his short workaday
Will make up with his wife.
The soldiers need a furlough
To hunt up their legs and guns—
To polish up their buttons
And write comments on the Huns.
The members of the wooden circus
Want to act like other folks
And cease their acrobatic stunts
And talk in sense instead of jokes.
The dolls would like to clean their teeth
And wash and iron their clothes—
And comb their hair and do a little
Mending—I suppose!

The Teddy Bears would like to get
Their bearings, trains—their sections—
As for the games—they need a week
To hunt their lost directions—
So—solemnly I do appoint
A Workaweek for Toys—
In which they may regain their health
Their playfulness—and poise.”
 
Copyright © 2022 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

THE MANDARIN AND THE BUTTERFLY

By L. Frank Baum
 
Originally published in American Fairy Tales, 1901.
Illustrations from  the St. Louis (MO) Republic, April 14, 1901, and The Sun (New York, NY), March 9, 1913.
 
 
A mandarin once lived in Kiang-ho who was so exceedingly cross and disagreeable that everyone hated him. He snarled and stormed at every person he met and was never known to laugh or be merry under any circumstances. Especially he hated boys and girls; for the boys jeered at him, which aroused his wrath, and the girls made fun of him, which hurt his pride.

When he had become so unpopular that no one would speak to him, the emperor heard about it and commanded him to emigrate to America. This suited the mandarin very well; but before he left China he stole the Great Book of Magic that belonged to the wise magician Haot-sai. Then, gathering up his little store of money, he took ship for America.
 
He settled in a city of the middle west and of course started a laundry, since that seems to be the natural vocation of every Chinaman, be he coolie or mandarin.
 
He made no acquaintances with the other Chinamen of the town, who, when they met him and saw the red button in his hat, knew him for a real mandarin and bowed low before him. He put up a red and white sign and people brought their laundry to him and got paper checks, with Chinese characters upon them, in exchange, this being the only sort of character the mandarin had left.
 
One day as the ugly one was ironing in his shop in the basement of 263 1/2 Main street, he looked up and saw a crowd of childish faces pressed against the window. Most Chinamen make friends with children; this one hated them and tried to drive them away. But as soon as he returned to his work they were back at the window again, mischievously smiling down upon him.
 
The naughty mandarin uttered horrid words in the Manchu language and made fierce gestures; but this did no good at all. The children stayed as long as they pleased, and they came again the very next day as soon as school was over, and likewise the next day, and the next. For they saw their presence at the window bothered the Chinaman and were delighted accordingly.
 
The following day being Sunday the children did not appear, but as the mandarin, being a heathen, worked in his little shop a big butterfly flew in at the open door and fluttered about the room.
 
The mandarin closed the door and chased the butterfly until he caught it, when he pinned it against the wall by sticking two pins through its beautiful wings. This did not hurt the butterfly, there being no feeling in its wings; but it made him a safe prisoner.
 
This butterfly was of large size and its wings were exquisitely marked by gorgeous colors laid out in regular designs like the stained glass windows of a cathedral.
 
The mandarin now opened his wooden chest and drew forth the Great Book of Magic he had stolen from Haot-sai. Turning the pages slowly he came to a passage describing “How to understand the language of butterflies.” This he read carefully and then mixed a magic formula in a tin cup and drank it down with a wry face. Immediately thereafter he spoke to the butterfly in its own language, saying:
 
“Why did you enter this room?”
 
“I smelled bees-wax,” answered the butterfly; “therefore I thought I might find honey here.”
 
“But you are my prisoner,” said the mandarin. “If I please I can kill you, or leave you on the wall to starve to death.”
 
“I expect that,” replied the butterfly, with a sigh. “But my race is shortlived, anyway; it doesn’t matter whether death comes sooner or later.”
 

“Yet you like to live, do you not?” asked the mandarin.
 
“Yet; life is pleasant and the world is beautiful. I do not seek death.”
 
“Then,” said the mandarin, “I will give you life—a long and pleasant life—if you will promise to obey me for a time and carry out my instructions.”
 
“How can a butterfly serve a man?” asked the creature, in surprise.
 
“Usually they cannot,” was the reply. “But I have a book of magic which teaches me strange things. Do you promise?”
 
“Oh, yes; I promise,” answered the butterfly; “for even as your slave I will get some enjoyment out of life, while should you kill me—that is the end of everything!”
 
“Truly,” said the mandarin, “butterflies have no souls, and therefore cannot live again.”
 
“But I have enjoyed three lives already,” returned the butterfly, with some pride. “I have been a caterpillar and a chrysalis before I became a butterfly. You were never anything but a Chinaman, although I admit your life is longer than mine.”
 
“I will extend your life for many days, if you will obey me,” declared the Chinaman. “I can easily do so by means of my magic.”
 
“Of course I will obey you,” said the butterfly, carelessly.
 
“Then, listen! You know children, do you not?—boys and girls?”
 
“Yes, I know them. They chase me, and try to catch me, as you have done,” replied the butterfly.
 
“And they mock me, and jeer at me through the window,” continued the mandarin, bitterly. “Therefore, they are your enemies and mine! But with your aid and the help of the magic book we shall have a fine revenge for their insults.”
 
“I don’t care much for revenge,” said the butterfly. “They are but children, and ’tis natural they should wish to catch such a beautiful creature as I am.”
 
“Nevertheless, I care! and you must obey me,” retorted the mandarin, harshly. “I, at least, will have my revenge.”
 
Then he stuck a drop of molasses upon the wall beside the butterfly’s head and said:
 
“Eat that, while I read my book and prepare my magic formula.”
 
So the butterfly feasted upon the molasses and the mandarin studied his book, after which he began to mix a magic compound in the tin cup.
 
When the mixture was ready he released the butterfly from the wall and said to it:
 
“I command you to dip your two front feet into this magic compound and then fly away until you meet a child. Fly close, whether it be a boy or a girl, and touch the child upon its forehead with your feet. Whosoever is thus touched, the book declares, will at once become a pig, and will remain such forever after. Then return to me and dip your legs afresh in the contents of this cup. So shall all my enemies, the children, become miserable swine, while no one will think of accusing me of the sorcery.”
 
“Very well; since such is your command, I obey,” said the butterfly. Then it dipped its front legs, which were the shortest of the six, into the contents of the tin cup, and flew out of the door and away over the houses to the edge of the town. There it alighted in a flower garden and soon forgot all about its mission to turn children into swine.
 
In going from flower to flower it soon brushed the magic compound from its legs, so that when the sun began to set and the butterfly finally remembered its master, the mandarin, it could not have injured a child had it tried.
 
But it did not intend to try.
 
“That horrid old Chinaman,” it thought, “hates children and wishes to destroy them. But I rather like children myself and shall not harm them. Of course I must return to my master, for he is a magician, and would seek me out and kill me; but I can deceive him about this matter easily enough.”
 
When the butterfly flew in at the door of the mandarin’s laundry he asked, eagerly:
 
“Well, did you meet a child?”
 
“I did,” replied the butterfly, calmly. “It was a pretty, golden-haired girl—but now ’tis a grunting pig!”
 
“Good! Good! Good!” cried the mandarin, dancing joyfully about the room. “You shall have molasses for your supper, and to-morrow you must change two children into pigs.”
 
The butterfly did not reply, but ate the molasses in silence. Having no soul it had no conscience, and having no conscience it was able to lie to the mandarin with great readiness and a certain amount of enjoyment.
 
Next morning, by the mandarin’s command, the butterfly dipped its legs in the mixture and flew away in search of children.
When it came to the edge of the town it noticed a pig in a sty, and alighting upon the rail of the sty it looked down at the creature and thought.
 
“If I could change a child into a pig by touching it with the magic compound, what could I change a pig into, I wonder?”
 
Being curious to determine this fine point in sorcery the butterfly fluttered down and touched its front feet to the pig’s nose. Instantly the animal disappeared, and in its place was a shock-headed, dirty looking boy, which sprang from the sty and ran down the road uttering load whoops.
 
“That’s funny,” said the butterfly to itself. “The mandarin would be very angry with me if he knew of this, for I have liberated one more of the creatures that bother him.”
 
It fluttered along after the boy, who had paused to throw stones at a cat. But pussy escaped by running up a tree, where thick branches protected her from the stones. Then the boy discovered a newly-planted garden, and trampled upon the beds until the seeds were scattered far and wide, and the garden was ruined. Next he caught up a switch and struck with it a young calf that stood quietly grazing in a field.
 
The poor creature ran away with piteous bleats, and the boy laughed and followed after it, striking the frightened animal again and again.
 
“Really,” thought the butterfly, “I do not wonder the mandarin hates children, if they are all so cruel and wicked as this one.”
 
The calf having escaped him the boy came back to the road, where he met two little girls on their way to school. One of them had a red apple in her hand, and the boy snatched it away and began eating it. The little girl commenced to cry, but her companion, more brave and sturdy, cried out:
 
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself, you nasty boy!”
 
At this the boy reached out and slapped her pretty face, whereupon she also began to sob.
 
Although possessed of neither soul nor conscience, the butterfly had a very tender heart, and now decided it could endure this boy no longer.
 
“If I permitted him to exist,” it reflected, “I should never forgive myself, for the monster would do nothing but evil from morning ’til night.”
 
So it flew directly into his face and touched his forehead with its sticky front feet.
 
The next instant the boy had disappeared, but a grunting pig ran swiftly up the road in the direction of its sty.
 
The butterfly gave a sigh of relief.
 
“This time I have indeed used the mandarin’s magic upon a child,” it whispered, as it floated lazily upon the light breeze; “but since the child was originally a pig I do not think I have any cause to reproach myself. The little girls were sweet and gentle, and I would not injure them to save my life, but were all boys like this transformed pig, I should not hesitate to carry out the mandarin’s orders.”
 
Then it flew into a rose bush, where it remained comfortably until evening. At sundown it returned to its master.
 
“Have you changed two of them into pigs?” he asked, at once.
 
“I have,” replied the butterfly. “One was a pretty, black-eyed baby, and the other a freckle-faced, red-haired, barefooted newsboy.”
 
“Good! Good! Good!” screamed the mandarin, in an ecstasy of delight. “Those are the ones who torment me the most! Change every newsboy you meet into a pig!”
 
“Very well,” answered the butterfly, quietly, and ate its supper of molasses.
 
Several days were passed by the butterfly in the same manner. It fluttered aimlessly about the flower gardens while the sun shone, and returned at night to the mandarin with false tales of turning children into swine. Sometimes it would be one child which was transformed, sometimes two, and occasionally three; but the mandarin always greeted the butterfly’s report with intense delight and gave him molasses for supper.
 
One evening, however, the butterfly thought it might be well to vary the report, so that the mandarin might not grow suspicious; and when its master asked what child had been had been changed into a pig that day the lying creature answered:
 
“It was a Chinese boy, and when I touched him he became a black pig.”
 
This angered the mandarin, who was in an especially cross mood. He spitefully snapped the butterfly with his finger, and nearly broke its beautiful wing; for he forgot that Chinese boys had once mocked him and only remembered his hatred for American boys.
 
The butterfly became very indignant at this abuse from the mandarin. It refused to eat its molasses and sulked all the evening, for it had grown to hate the mandarin almost as much as the mandarin hated children.
 
When morning came it was still trembling with indignation; but the mandarin cried out:
 
“Make haste, miserable slave; for to-day you must change four children into pigs, to make up for yesterday.”
 
The butterfly did not reply. His little black eyes were sparkling wickedly, and no sooner had he dipped his feet into the magic compound than he flew full in the mandarin’s face, and touched him upon his ugly, flat forehead.
 
Soon after a gentleman came into the room for his laundry. The mandarin was not there, but running around the place was a repulsive, scrawny pig, which squealed most miserably.
 
The butterfly flew away to a brook and washed from its feet all traces of the magic compound. When night came it slept in a rose bush.
 

 
 
 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, January 27, 1918.

The King of Supposyville Puts a Stop to It!

In that merry model kingdom
Of Supposyville, the snow
And ice have made the walking
Rather treacherous, you know!

The streets are steep and hilly
And the king looks with dismay
At his subjects sprawling here and there
Upon the icy way —!

“Go to,” said he. “This will not do!
Sir Solomon, get hence!
Devise a plan, my good old man,
At once and hang expense.

“I do not choose my subjects shall
Be broken into pieces.
And I shall take no comfort, sir,
Until this falling ceases!”

Sir Solomon, without a bit
Of hesitation, rose—
An hour saw the strangest change
One ever could suppose.

Sir Solomon he “hung expense,”
The roads took on strange hues,
The lanes and highways blossomed forth
In greens and reds and blues.

My dears and ducks, before an hour
The castle clock had tolled
A hundred miles and more of rich,
Bright carpets were unrolled!

A hundred carpet-sweeper lads
Plied brooms to keep them clear
And to and fro the homefolk go
Without a fall or fear.

The king in all complacency
Resumes his comfort and his tea.
 
Copyright © 2022 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.