Wednesday, October 13, 2021

PIETRO AND JOCKO, THE MONK

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.

Originally published in the St. Louis (Missouri) Daily Globe-Democrat, April 20, 1902.

 

Click image to enlarge.

 

 

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, November 25, 1917.
 

The Supposy Thanksgiving

I’ve heard a deal of funny things,
But never, never, never,
One quite so queer as this, my dear—
This is the queerest ever.
It has to do with that quaint state
Of mind, and ’tis delectable;
Pshaw! In Supposyville the unexpected
Is expectable.
And yet I think they were a bit
Surprised themselves. ’Twas noon,
And for a week before the cooks
Had wrought with knife and spoon,
Preparing all the eatables—
The cakes, and tarts, and pies.
Now, in the overs sizzle all
The turkeys, stuffed life size;
Yes, in that kingdom, dears and ducks,
A baking, boiling, stewing,
A hundred dinners for
Thanksgiving are a brewing.

When all at once the castle bell
Its silver summons peals,
And soon just every one in sight
Has taken to his heels.
All breathlessly there in the court
The populace give ear.
The King upon the balcony
Now speaks: “Oh, people, hear
This proclamation. Heretofore
We’ve kept Thanksgiving Day,
I now do solemnly command
That ye give it away!
For we can keep thanksgiving
Every day—in every year.
Go fetch the dinners—and return
In just an hour—here!”
Oh, what a scrambling—and what haste—
All steaming hot and savory
The hundred hundred dinners
Into hampers go. Some bravery
It took, I will admit,
But merrily they all obey
And in an hour are prepared
To give the day—away.
Now all the horses in the town
And all the carts are taken—
And merrily they hie them off
To villages forsaken.
And how the people gasp and stare
As hamper after hamper
Come tumbling down—through many a town
The good Supposies scamper.
And what a lark and joy it was
With each to do his part
In sacrificing all—they made
A feast day for the heart.
It seems to me that they are right—
To keep Thanksgiving Day—
Is selfish, and I sometimes wish
We’d all give it away.

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

I'VE NEVER HAD ENOUGH

By L. Frank Baum 
and George Scarborough

From the musical comedy The Pipes o' Pan. Originally published in The Musical Fantasies of L. Frank Baum by Alla T. Ford and Dick Martin, 1958.
 
 
I've Never Had Enough

MIDAS & SILENUS: (Singing)
Don't talk to me of temperance,
It won't do any good:
For I believe in drinking just
As every boozer should!
The trickle of the liquid
As it leaps into the glass
Is the only sort of music, now,
That's got a bit of class!
It don't make any difference
The kind of booze it is:
If whiskey, wine or brandy,
A foamy stein or phizz;
A cock-tail or a high-ball—
I'll not get in a huff—
I'll drink it down and yell for more:
I've never had enough!

Chorus:
I've never had enough, I've never had enough!
I drink it by the barrel, but I've never had enough!
Get busy, Mister Waiter, bring on the liquid stuff,
Or I will fight
Because tonight
I'm going to get enough!


Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, November 18, 1917.
 
 
A Whimsical Holiday in Supposyville

You’d never guess—you’d never know
The feast that happens ’fore Thanksgiving—
Supposies—dear, I sometimes think
Are just the quaintest people living!

The quaintest and the kindest
And the cheerfulest—besides.
Ah—happy is the mortal man
Who in that realm abides.

Well, well—to get back to that feast,
By Royal Proclamation
The King appoints a day of play
For creatures of all station.

“For shall the patient horse who serves
Work on without reward?
And shall no meed of pleasure come
To those who grace our board?”

Thus spoke his Majesty—straight off
A creature holiday’s appointed
Whereby the pigs and lambs and such
May sport themselves in double jointed

Unrestrain-ed joy—and feast
Upon the choicest in the land—
And lie abed till 12 o’clock—
And ’pon my word they understand.

The ax is hidden far away—
And not a pig nor goose—
Nor lamb nor steer is eaten,
For ’tis called the Day of Truce.

Supposies fare on vegetables—
While horse and oxen graze,
And pull the heavy loads themselves
And think how well on other days

The creature folk serve them,
And clearly they point out—
How little enough it is—one day—
For things to turn about!

The lads and lassies through the woods
Drop dainties for each squirrel and bird—
And every doggie has his bone
And has his day—upon my word!

They do things with a thoroughness
And grace—and I declare—
If I were not myself I’d like
To be a bow-wow there!

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

THE ELEPHANTS DECIDE

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 13, 1916.
 
 
The night was still and sultry, the air choking with the tang of gunpowder and the sullen heat of the tropics. A great battle had been fought that day; those who were left slumbered in their tents; in the camp there was no sound except the restless shifting of the elephants and the rattle of the chains about their ankles. I cannot tell you, sweethearts, where the camp was, for that would never do, but perhaps you who have been watching the war news will know without my telling.

The sentryman had made his round and one of the battery elephants, seeing his light grow dim and dimmer, raised his trunk: “Brothers,” whispered he, “it is enough. Let us return to our own people, for man is no longer master!” There was silence for a few moments, the big creatures swaying to and fro and shifting from foot to foot.

“How long have you served man, Wangunga?” It was a newly trained and younger elephant who spoke. “Forty years,” boomed the great beast. “I have helped him clear the forests and build his cities!” “And I! And I!” Like a sigh, the echo swept down the long line. “I have helped him build and conquer the forest, but help him destroy and conquer his brothers I will not. It is enough. I return to my people. Will my bothers come?” “I, too, have had enough—enough of this fire and death. I will come!” wheezed Neidra, who stood shoulders and head above them all. “I will come!” “And I! And I!” called the others, throwing up their trunks and breathing heavily. “Come, then!” Wangunga was already tugging at his chain. “Come, we will return no more!”

“Wait! Wait! Would you leave them to die?’ Above the rattling chains rose the voice of Emperor, the oldest in the service. “There be little children waiting for their daddies and women—many women who weep. I have carried the Sahib’s son in my trunk. Shall I leave my master to die? The war madness—the madness of the sun is upon man, but for that, shall we leave them to perish?” A long silence followed.

“But, old one, what would you have us do? To go is madness, perhaps, but to stay is death!” whimpered one of the younger elephants. “I have a plan. We will go, but we will take death with us, we will drag the cannons to the river and push them[in]; the guns we will break. This we will do in our own camp and in the camp of yonder men who came against us today!”

“Heeeyah! There speaks a chief!” whistled Wangunga softly. “Ready, brothers, ready!”

Next minute a shrill cry rang through the camp “The elephants, the elephants have gone mad!” Out tumbled the sleepy soldiers, making for trees and rushing toward the river, for it is certain death to face an elephant stampede. And such they truly believed it to be. With grunts and rumbles and little squeals of rage the great beasts rushed at the cannon, pushing them down to the river, crunching the guns like matchsticks beneath their feet. Chains that had held for years snapped like straws, then off like a whirlwind swept the herd with trumpetings that thrilled the enemy’s camp with a terror that the battle had never inspired.

Wangunga shrilled the news to the other elephants in this camp and they joined with their brothers. The cannons clanked and jolted, the guns snapped and the soldiers trembled, and not till the last gun was useless and the last cannon swallowed by the yellow river did the great gray herd pause.

Disarmed and astonished, shaking like leaves in a tempest, the soldiers saw the herd swing into line and charge into the darkness with the precision of an army. One shrill farewell and they had melted like mist in the night, gone to return no more. “For man,” as Wangunga had said, “was no longer master!”
 
 
 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, November 11, 1917. 

Busy Times in Supposyville

Housecleaning’s done, and every one
Now turns his thoughts ahead;
For much indeed is yet to do
Before the month is sped.

The winter togs are taken out
And beaten with a will;
They do things so, as well you know,
In old Supposyville.

But that’s not what is causing
All the bustle and commotion;
Come, can’t you give a guess or two,
Or haven’t you a notion?

Well! Well! I’ll tell you what is up;
Just six weeks off, in fact,
Six weeks and two short days besides,
If one must be exact.

Why, Christmas, dears and ducks, my loves!
And, whew! the time is short;
And as the King said to the Queen,
“There’s things of every sort

“To be attended to, ’twould not
Be fair to leave it all
To old St. Nick, so let’s be quick
And plan our Christmas ball.”

Wherever two or three are gathered
Whispering’s the rule,
And all the boys and girls are busy
Working after school

On gifts for so and so; the shelves
In every pantry groan;
Why, just a glance would make one dance,
There’s every dainty known.

The ducks and turkeys all penned up
Are stuffing for the feast,
And couriers and pages dash
Both north and west and east.

For so in old Supposyville they shop,
And oh, what treasures
Are stowed away for Christmas Day,
That day of fun and pleasures.

And so much joy and jollity
Is in anticipation
That Christmas happens forty times
At least in preparation.

I think we’d better take the hint
From quaint Supposyville,
And do our shopping early,
And preparing—(I think I will!)

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

A COLD DAY ON THE RAILROAD

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

Originally published in the Chicago Times-Herald. Transcribed from the Norfolk Virginian, June 13, 1895.


"The coldest day I ever knew," said the stranger, "was when I traveled up the branch to Glinton last winter. I knew it was cold when I saw the fireman get on top the engine with a shovel to shovel away the smoke as fast as it froze. Soon after we started the conductor entered the car, knocked his head against the side of the door to break off his breath, and yelled 'Tickets!' before it froze again. But it was no use. The word only penetrated a few feet and stuck fast in the atmosphere, but, as we could all see clearly, we could not help noticing that word 'tickets' frozen up in the front end of the car, and we were ready when the smiling conductor passed along. He smiled because he couldn't help it. He wore that expression when he encountered the ozone, and it stuck to him. The poor fellow hit his hand against the seat in front of me and broke his little finger off as clean as if it had been an icicle. It rattled down on to the floor, but he picked it up calmly and put it in his vest pocket. He was used to that run."


Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, November 4, 1917.
 
A Narrow Escape for the King and Queen of Supposyville

A pair of purple breeches, dears,
Upon a line careening,
Caused all the trouble, for those steeds
Just failed to catch their meaning;
And though an accident is rare
In old Supposyville,
I tell you now; indeed, I vow,
’Twas with an awful thrill
The townfolk saw their highnesses
A-dashing down the street,
A-bouncing up and down upon
The royal carriage seat;
The footmen they were missing,
Strewn here and there behind;
As for the King and Queen, they’re in
A parlous state of mind!
The steeds plunged on, the sparks just flew—
So did the geese, and people, too.
“Alas! Alack! they’ll all be spilt,
Their highnesses will sure be kilt!”
The good dames wailed. Now down the steep
Embankment to the sea they sweep,
Those plunging steeds; with faces covered
Upon the hill Supposies hovered.
But came no splash, and came no cries;
With startled, unbelieving eyes
The townfolk look, and in midair
Beheld the horses plunge and rare;
But harmlessly; for, understand,
They’re safely in the giant’s hand.
Looking from his wall, he’d seen
The coach and steeds and King and Queen;
And leaning halfway over town
Had quick as lightning bent him down
And picked them up, just in the nick
Of time, and while the horses kick
Safely he set the Queen and King
Upon the ground; and in a ring
The good Supposies dance and cheer—
Now wasn’t that just fine, my dear!
The King was so delighted that
Right there upon the spot
He gave his second best gold crown;
’Twas generous, was it not?
The giant wears it for a ring;
And really more and more
He comes to love and watch the merry
Kingdom there, next door.
 
Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

THE STORY UNCLE ABNER ELEPHANT TOLD

By Ruth Plumly Thompson  
Author of Speedy in Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.
 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 14, 1917.

“Yes, sir! In those days, the mouse was as big as the elephant!” Uncle Abner Elephant leaned back in his chair, took a puff of his pipe and waited to see what Oliver Elephant and Tommy Tapir would say to this. “Tell us about it! Tell us about it!” cried Tommy Tapir, who dearly loved Uncle Abner’s stories. “I don’t believe it!” gasped Oliver, but nevertheless, he drew his chair up closer so that he could hear all about it, too!

“Yes, sir! Once upon a time the mouse had whiskers a foot long and ears a foot high and was THAT big and handsome that you wouldn’t even have been noticed when he was around, Oliver Elephant! Fine looking—I should think so! And all he had to do was thump his tail and holler and then all the other creatures would bring him things to eat. Because he was SO big everybody reckoned he was powerful brave and they stepped out of the way when he came along. I can tell you—that is, everybody except the elephants.” Uncle Abner took another deep puff at his pipe. “Go on!” said Tommy Tapir impatiently. “Well,” said Uncle Abner, “one day a little furry creature with green eyes came slinking into the mouse’s country and when old Mr. Mouse came thumpety, thump, THUMP down the road—(Oliver and Tommy had to laugh at the idea of a mouse thumping)—the little furry creature with green eyes flew at him screeching “psf—sssst! Sp—pppppt! Mr—riawr!” And that great big mouse instead of fighting started to cry and make the most awful noise and then he started to RUN. And he ran and ran with the little furry creature chasing him till all the other creatures nearly laughed their heads off. And weren’t they surprised to find out what a big coward he really was. My!

“But what happened next you will hardly believe! At every leap that great big mouse grew smaller. He was shrinking! First he shrank down to almost the size of a lion, then he shrank down to about the size of a lion cub—and still he kept shrinking—and still he kept running—and the more he ran the more he shrank—till pretty soon the creatures could hardly see him at all! Then just as the furry one made ready to pounce upon him and eat him up, the mouse crept into a little hole in the ground so tiny, so tiny that no other creature could possibly follow him in. One of the elephants who was there and, by the way, he was Oliver’s great-great-great-grandfather, put his ear to the hole and he heard a great squeaking.” “What was it?” asked Tommy Tapir. “Why, it was the mouse saying his multiplication tables!” said Uncle Abner, knocking the ashes from his pipe, “and as nearly as I can remember they went so:

Twice a grain of wheat equals twice a grain of corn,
Twice a trap and cheese equals once a mouse at morn!

“And let me tell you if he hadn’t remembered his multiplications he would have shrunk away to nothing at all. So, if you get frightened ever and begin to shrink, for goodness’ sake say your multiplications and don’t RUN!” “But why did the mouse shrink?” said Oliver Elephant a little puzzled by the story. “Well, you see,” said Uncle Abner, “if your insides aren’t as big as your outsides, why, your outsides are bound to shrink down to the little parcel of a thing that is really you. The mouse was only a little miserable scarey body walking about in a great big skin, and the first time he got scared, of course, he shrank—and mind what I’m telling you, Oliver Elephant, if you once run away from anything it will chase you all the rest of your life. And that’s why the mouse has been running away from the cat—ever since that once-upon-a-time day long ago!”

“I think I’ll study my multiplication tables!” said Oliver Elephant.

 

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 28, 1917. 
 
Hallo’een in Supposyville

If wishes were horses
I’d gallop straight off
With a grinning Jack Lantern
To guide me—
Off far—and away,
With a heart full of play
And a jolly Supposy beside me!
And how we would scamper
And skim through the fields
To escape the old Halloween witches,
The spooks and the bats
And the scrootchy black cats
That are lurking about in the ditches.
Never once would we pause—
Never once look behind—
Till Supposyville’s turrets rose clear;
Then off to the castle
We’d rush with the rest
For the Halloween festival here.
Oh, what a bewitching, delicious event
Is that ball! What surprises! What merriment!
In fact, I should say, it is far and away
The delightfulest sort of experiment.
No one knows who is who
Till the whole evening’s through,
Least of all which is King or is Queen—
And who can discover these two is acclaimed
Lord of Misrule and all Halloween!
In the center a fire burning merrily sends
Popcorn flying in crisp snowy showers,
And the band plays so thrillingly
Every one willingly
Dances for hours—and hours.
There are apples to bob for
And fortunes to hear,
There is cider and nuts to be eaten,
And candies and cakes—which just every one takes
The occasion more surely to sweeten.
And how they all cheer
When a LION, my dear,
A small lassie points out as the King;
Red Riding Hood proves to be Queen; it behooves
Them to merrily stand in a ring
While Supposies go circling and singing around.
But at last when the big clock booms three
They curtsy politely and take their leave rightly—
Ha, ho—what a ball it must be!

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

TIM NICHOLS AND THE CAT

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

Originally published in the Philadelphia North American, January 22, 1905.


Tim Nichols was not what you could rightly call a bad boy, because he was obedient to his parents, attended school regularly, got his lessons, and submitted to the Saturday night bath with remarkable courage and good nature. But there was a streak of boyish cruelty in his nature that crept to the surface now and again, and permitted him to do such naughty things as to tie a can to a stray dog, stick bramble burrs in the calf’s tail, or chase the chickens until they were wild with terror. But the thing he most delighted to torment was a cat, and the big gray pussy, named “Peggy,” that belonged next door, lived in deadly fear of her life every moment that Tim was around. To be sure, she had a habit of sitting on the woodshed roof to utter strange cries at the dead of night, and as Tim’s room overlooked the woodshed, he usually carried a number of sticks and stones to his room, so that he could hurl them at Peggy when she became noisy. Sometimes they would miss fire, but often they struck the cat and tumbled her from the roof, and after such an event she would keep quiet until morning. But right after breakfast Tim, still relentless, would hunt her up and chase her with stones and clubs, until she hid herself, and so managed to escape the torment.

This state of affairs attracted the attention of our queer visitors from the Land of Oz, and after a consultation they decided to perform a little magic. So, through their efforts, all of Tim Nichols, except his body, was transferred into the body of the cat Peggy, and all of Peggy, except her body, was transferred into the body of Tim Nichols.

This happened just before supper, as Tim was entering the house. His parents only noticed that Tim ate as if he had not been fed for a week, and afterward curled himself upon a rug before the fire, and went to sleep, so that they had to shake him hard at 9 o’clock to arouse him and send him to bed in the little room overlooking the neighbor’s woodshed.

As for the cat, she sat upon the back fence, blinking in a very disturbed manner, for Tim’s spirit, inside the fur body, was wondering how on earth he ever came to be a cat!

He smelled supper, and crept toward the kitchen hungrily, but Eliza scared him away with a broom stick, and he ran behind the ash barrel and hid until the moon came out.

Then, scarcely knowing why he did it, he jumped to the roof of the woodshed and eyed the moon with as much content as a hungry cat can possibly feel. Bye and bye a strange feeling came over him, and, for the first time since he could remember, Tim yearned to sing. So he lifted up his voice, and in a long “Ker-r-r-o-mee-ow-w-w!” sent a wailing cry soaring toward the moon.

Bang! came a big stone, bounding over the roof and just escaping his left ear.

Tim reflected. “It’s that confounded boy up in the room there!” he growled. And then it struck him as curious that the boy in the window wore the body he used to own.

Chug! came a heavy piece of wood, striking his front leg a blow that made it tingle as if a thousand needles had pierced it.

“Why can’t that brute leave a poor cat alone?” he grumbled, when the pain would let him think. And then, to relieve his anguish, he again lifted up his voice.

“Cuth-er-a-mee-ow! — ow! — ow!”

A second stick, hurled from the window, caught him unawares. Plumb against his lean body it crashed, and sent him sliding from the roof, to fall headlong upon the ground below. For a time, he lay quiet, unable to move. My, how it hurt! Would the awful pain ever cease?

No more singing to the moon tonight. After a time the stricken cat, breathing slowly, and with dulled eyes, recovered sufficiently to crawl to a refuge behind the ash barrel. And the boy went to bed and slept.

Early in the morning the people from Oz completed the magic charm, and transferred Tim back to his own body, and Peggy back to hers.

At breakfast, the boy was very thoughtful and sober, and soon afterward his mother found him sitting on the back steps and feeding Peggy out of a big bowl.

“What do you mean by giving that horrid cat all my nice cream?” demanded Tim’s mother, reproachfully.

“Well,” said Tim, “the poor old thing don’t have much fun in life, I guess. So I’m goin’ to see that Peggy has a square meal, once in a while, if I have to do without myself.”

And, while Tim’s mother stood by in silent astonishment, the cat lifted her face from the bowl and eyed the boy gratefully.


Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 21, 1917.

More Happiness in Supposyville

The autumn in Supposyville
Is quite a joyous season,
With visitings and frolickings;
Indeed, there’s always reason
For happiness, and gathered ’round
The firesides ’tis so cozy
It almost makes me sometimes wish
That I were a Supposy!

The cats purr loudly on the hearths,
The dogs stretch out at ease;
The boys and girls bend o’er their books,
Contented as you please;
The smell of roasting apples steals
Sedately on the air;
Chestnuts sputter, kettles splutter
Gayly everywhere.

When folks are not around the fires
They’re off to wood and hill,
For everybody plays outdoors
In old Supposyville;
And that is why they are so well
And merry; I declare,
There’s not a doctor in the place,
No reason for one there!

For health is mostly happiness,
And happiness is health;
And who has these has found, I guess,
The finest sort of wealth;
And just at present every one
Is busier than ever,
And happier, if possible, because—
Well! Well! I never!

They’re all invited to the palace
For the jolly masque
Giv’n by the Queen each Halloween;
And what a jolly task
The costumes are. Now if you’re
Very extra, awful good
I’ll tell you ’bout the party.
I ‘spose, of course, you would

Prefer to hear about it now,
But that I cannot do;
You see, it hasn’t happened yet,
So how could I tell you?
But hold yourselves in patience
And next week I’ll tell you all
The things they wore, and oh, lots more
About this gorgeous ball.

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

OLIVER ELEPHANT AND COURAGE

By Ruth Plumly Thompson  
Author of Ojo in Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.
 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 14, 1917.
 

“What is ‘courage,’ Tommy Tapir?” asked Oliver Elephant, swinging his books by the strap as the two walked slowly toward the schoolhouse.

“Why—why—courage is not being afraid of the dark or any one larger than you. I have courage, Oliver Elephant, because I’m not afraid of you, and you’re MUCH larger than I am. I don’t believe, Oliver, that you have any courage at all. Look how you ran when you pulled Tabora Crocodile’s tooth. Yes, Oliver Elephant, I truly do think you must be a COWARD.”

At this Oliver elephant looked very sad, indeed, His trunk hung straight down, and so did his tail. No courage! What would his mother think, for Oliver had heard her say that morning that if there was one thing she detested in this world it was coward elephant. The school bell made both cousins quicken their steps, and Tommy Tapir, anxious to show Oliver Elephant how brave he was, pushed him aside and hurried to his seat.

Professor Bear was exceedingly bearish that day, and big little Oliver was so sad and sorrowful thinking how dreadful it was to have your own mother detest you that he could not remember his lessons at all—not even how much twice two cocoanuts equaled. So his big ears drooped more and more and his trunk got sniffly, and his eyes filled with huge tears that rolled splash on to his new jacket. Frantically he looked for his clean handkerchief, but remembered that he had used it that morning to collect dried bugs and had left it under a stone for safe keeping.

Tommy Tapir was watching Oliver and was really feeling dreadfully sorry he had called him a coward, and when he saw the huge tears roll slowly down Oliver’s trunk he handed him his handkerchief. Oliver’s eyes were so misty that he never noticed the wiggeldy things tied up in the corner.

“Oliver Elephant, come here!” Professor Bear’s voice was very stern, indeed. “What is that sticking out of the corner of your handkerchief, CANDY?” “I dod’t dow!” sobbed Oliver Elephant. “Don’t tell stories, Oliver Elephant!” thundered the professor. He jerked the handkerchief out of Oliver’s hand, and, untying it, shook out of the desk a little snake cut in three pieces. The professor’s glasses fell with a crash to the floor, so shocked was he. “What a cowardly thing to do! The poor little snake! You are not only a story teller, Oliver Elephant, but a COWARD; and I cannot have cowards in my schoolroom. Go home at ONCE!!”

That dreadful words again! Oliver Elephant looked beseechingly at Tommy Tapir, but Tommy turned his head away  and, crying as if his heart would break, Oliver ran from the school and threw himself on the soft ground. “It’s not fair! It’s not fair,” he sobbed over and over.

“Why, Oliver Elephant, what’s the matter?” Mother Elephant had baked a great big juicy cocoanut pie, and was carrying it to school for Oliver’s lunch.

“I’M A COWARD!!” choked Oliver Elephant as soon as he could make himself understood. “Who says so?” asked Mother Elephant, glaring around threateningly. “Tommy Tapir—and Professor Bear—and every one thinks so!” sobbed Oliver. With his trunk to his eyes he told her all about it, and when he came to the part about the snake, Mother Elephant looked very grave indeed. “That was cowardly, Oliver. It was so much smaller and you cut it up to die!” At this Oliver looked more dejected than ever. “I am sorry you are a --------.” Just as she was about to say that hateful word again, a forlorn little figure, all out of breath, came racing out of the schoolhouse door. “Oliver, Oliver Elephant! I told the professor it was mine, and he wants you to come right back. He says you aren’t a coward, Oliver, and I was only fooling this morning. I don’t think so either. I—I—think you are the bravest elephant there is. But I AM A COWARD!!” And Tommy Tapir threw himself down on the selfsame spot which was all soggy with Oliver’s tears.

Mother Elephant thought a moment with her trunk to her head, then she looked very wise. “I don’t think you meant to hurt the poor little snake, did you, Tommy?” she asked gently. “Ung-ung! Tabora Crocodile told me it wouldn’t hurt it and that the pieces would wiggle until the sun went down!” sniffled Tommy. “Oh, I didn’t mean to be a coward!”

“Don’t cry, Tommy Tapir. Neither of you is a coward!” said Mother Elephant, putting her trunk around the two little cousins. “I am proud of you, Oliver, for not telling on Tommy. That took courage. And I am proud of you, Tommy, for telling on yourself. That took a great deal of courage. For, you see, real courage is not being afraid to do the RIGHT thing no mater how hard it is.”

Then they all sat down to eat cocoanut pie, which didn’t take any courage at all.

 

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 30, 1917. 
 
 
Supposyville Goes A-Nutting

A touch of frost is in the air;
Jack Rabbit homeward scurrying
Points his long ears, forsooth he hears
A reason for more hurrying.
A silver horn, clear as the morn,
Its merry summons peals;
Jack Rabbit pauses for no more
But takes him to his heels;
He need not run, nor fear the gun
Of huntsman bold, for here
None come to do him harm;
’Tis the Supposyfolk, my dear,
Laden with sticks, with sacks and bags;
With tarts and sweets delectable
They’re out upon a frolic,
Which is surely quite expectable;
Off toward the royal forests,
Where the nuts are growing thick as peas,
They turn their steps, and soon
Are circling merrily beneath the trees;
But scarce their sacks and lunches
Are disposed upon the ground,
Before queer crossish rumblings
And grumblings begin to sound;
The trees swish to and fro
As from a giant wind storm tossed;
The burry nuts pelt down like hail;
With grievous scratches all criss-crossed;
The poor Supposies cling together;
Several there have brought umbrellas,
And these they raise and thus ward off
The stinging missiles (lucky fellows);
“Bear up!” the King calls to the rest;
Bear up! Well, I should say
There were two dozen up there
In the trees. Oh, deep dismay!
Why even in Supposyville they
Have bears. I declare
If there was one place free of them
I’d think it would be there.
“Bear up, is very well,” a wise man cried;
“If they bear down,
And bear us off, what then?”
The King took off his golden crown
In great distress; not so the Queen.
She rushed off toward the lunch
And tossed aloft some apple tarts;
Down in a furry bunch
The bears descended; and not heeding
Warnings, there here highness
Gave all the goodies to the bears,
Nor seemed to mind their nighness;
And while they ate, with sundry grunts,
The good Supposies fill
Their socks [sic] and bags chock full
And run back to Supposyville.
And any one there will bear out
This tale. I’ve barely time
To finish this, because I have
To write another rhyme.
(So please excuse me.)

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.