Thursday, March 1, 2018


By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Author of Speedy in Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard in Oz, and The Wish Express, etc.
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 24, 1919.

Once upon a time there was a poor woodchopper mouse named Terry Trim. He lived in a wild weed forest in a little hut made from twigs and worked from morning till night to earn a living for himself, Mrs. Terry Trim and Tommy Trim.

He sold his logs of weed to the fairies and also earned a bit from the birds. He was a great hand to pick up material for nests, as he was working in the forest, and the birds were glad enough to buy of him the bits of silk cord and fern that he collected for them. But times were hard and Mrs. Trim often urged him to move to the city, where she had many relations. But Mr. Trim was very independent and he had a great contempt for the city mice who lived in the houses of men and stole enough to live on.

“I’ll earn what we need or perish in the attempt!” said the valiant little mouse on more than one occasion, after which he would fall to chopping weeds with all the vigor in the world. Then Mrs. Trim would sigh and sew another patch on Tommy’s rompers. Poverty was not the only thing they had to contend with. There were many enemies in the forest. Every night the windows were barred fast to keep away fierce Mr. Owl, who often boasted that he would eat the whole family one fine day.

Then there was Ebenezer Mole. One time he almost coaxed Tommy down into his underground cave, and had not Terry just happened to have been there Tommy Mouse Trim would have been under old Ebenezer’s waistcoat. Then another day he tunneled under the little hut and was just about scratching his way through the floor when Mrs. Tommy heard the noise and poured a kettleful of hot water on him. Yes, there was no doubt about it, Mr. Terry Trim had a hard time of it.

But he only worked faster and kept shaking his head and saying, “Everything will come right directly!”

And sure enough it did! One hot afternoon as he was stacking his bundle of weeds ready to return home, Terry heard a faint cry from under a pile of leaves. He dropped everything and hastened to the spot. A tiny little humming bird had fallen there. It quivered with fright as Terry picked it up and put it carefully under his coat.

Home ran Terry—wood and everything but the forsaken little bird forgotten.

“Here, wife—see what I’ve brought you?” he cried excitedly bursting in upon Mrs. Trim. When she saw the shivering little bird Mrs. Trim gave a little shrug of disappointment.

“I thought you had brought us something for supper!” she sighed reproachfully. Nevertheless she brought out Tommy’s old cradle and made the little stranger as comfortable as she knew how. And soon as the little creature was fed with the last mite of sugar in the house it fell fast asleep and Terry trudged back to the forest for his bundle of fairy logs. When he had sold the last bundle and bought some cheese of an old fairy woman he hurried back home. But everything seemed strange. A neat little path ran straight through the forest, where none had been before. Over the top of some tall weed trees he saw the turrets of a wonderful manor house. Terry rubbed his eyes, for he thought he was lost or dreaming. Yet surely this was the way! Hardly knowing what to think he ran down the path. Whew—there was a regular mouse mansion about as big as a good sized doll house, only much, much beautifuler! Oh, much. There was a garden with a fountain and an arbor and—before Terry could see any more, Mrs. Trim and Tom burst out of the door and ran to meet him.

You see, sweethearts, the humming bird was a very good little fairy and had rewarded the little mouse couple with this beautiful new house and enough mouse money to last as long as they lived. Oh, I wish you had seen that little mouse manor with its cunning pantry and kitchen and its open fireplace and piano!

And if you see a little lost bird be kind to it—for, you know, it might be a fairy.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, February 20, 1921.

The Forgetful Poet’s Puzzles

The Forgetful Poet was busy writing valentines to all his friends last week and just came in to say that the answers were Tee or T (found eighteen times on a golf course). A patch of sunshine is the cheapest patch in the world and chow describes a dog and a soldier’s dinner, though a soldier does not eat bowwows by any manner of means. When a cat is angry it describes a spitz dog, and the words left out of the poem were ball and small.

The poem he left today sounds dreadfully queer. I think he has said the exact opposite of what he intended to say, and perhaps if you find the right words it will rhyme correctly.

I went out in the day -----
And caught an awful hot, my dear—
Since then I’ve hugged the ice chest
And kept cotton in my ear!

My family say I look quite black—
I looked into my -----?
And must admit that every day
I grow a little queerer!

“Why do trees sway in the wind? Ahem—because they are full of bows.” I don’t know why he answered that himself, I guess he was afraid he’d forget it before next week.

[Answers next time.]

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

Thursday, February 1, 2018


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 Saint Paul Globe, December 13, 1903.

Click Image to Enlarge.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, February 13, 1921.

The Forgetful Poet’s Puzzle

The blanks in last week’s verses should have been filled in with deer, bear, horse, frog, dog, cat and whale.

This time the Forgetful Poet wants to know what letter is found eighteen times on every full golf course?

What is the cheapest patch in the world?

What soldier name for dinner describes a dog?

When the cat is angry it also describes a bowwow.

Can you fill in these blanks?

An amiable ostrich
Once went to a -----
Where she trod on the toes
Of the great and the -----

Till a young lady elephant
Snatched out a trunk full
Of plumes. Away home
The poor ostrich bird slunk full
                   (of sorrow).

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2018 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 1, 2018


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of The Yellow Knight of Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard in Oz, and The Wish Express, etc.
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, November 1, 1914.

The day was fine and brisk and jolly
As Bobby Brown and his sister Polly
Set out with a bag and a huge box of lunch
To gather some chestnuts. “We’ll bring home a bunch!”
Cried Bob as he whistled a gay little tune.
They came to the woods, well, at just about noon.
I forgot to say that they lived away
Up North in Maine, where the pine trees sway
And where the—gracious, here I go!
Telling the wrong thing first, you know!
“It’s rather dark in these woods!” said Polly;
“Oh, no, it’s not; I think it’s jolly,”
Said Bob. “I’ll cut a great, big stick
And knock some chestnuts down real quick.”
His stick was thick—THICK as could be.
He hurled it with might in a chestnut tree!
Oh, then, my dears—as TRUE as TRUE—
A voice in the tree roared “OUCH! Oh, Oooooh!”
Head over heels with fright rolled Polly.
Bob’s knees quaked, too, and next thing—Golly!
Out of the tree looked a great, HUGE bear,
A bump on his eye most as big as a pear!
He started to climb down the tree. “Say, I’m
Gong to run,” gasped Bobby, “and run like TIME!”
Indeed, they stayed not a minute more,
But ran as never they’d run before.
“Oh, well,” called the bear, “if you really must
Be going I’ll open this box and just
Enjoy myself!” So crunchety munch
He ate up Bob’s and Polly’s lunch!

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, February 6, 1921.


The Forgetful Poet has gone to his cousin’s in Florida and never sent us a line, but I think I have answered his puzzles correctly. The musical terms were staff, scale, rest and flat. The words left out of the other verses were parrot and carrot.

All the blanks in these lines can be filled in with creatures.

Oh, -----, I’ve caught an awful cold,
Why, I can -----ly speak,
 I am so ----- I’ve had a -----
Down in my throat all week!

I went driving in a ----- cart,
And then I took a sail,
And went fishing in a ----- boat,
For a sardine or a ------.

[Answers next time.]

 Copyright © 2018 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 1, 2017


By L. Frank Baum
Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Boy Fortune Hunters in the Yucatan, Daughters of Destiny, etc.
Originally published in the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, December 20, 1890.

“This coffee,” remarked our landlady, as she poured out the colonel’s cup and adding the skim milk stirred it vigorously with her own spoon, - for she like the colonel; “this coffee is the Crushed Politician brand, an’ I bought it yisterday of a agent fer a quarter with a diamond necklace set in tin throwed in.”

“It tastes of crushed politician,” said Tom, moodily.

“Named after the republican county committee, probably,” added the doctor, sipping it warily.

“The necklace were worth a quarter any day,” declared our landlady, “an’ the agent said if the coffee weren’t good he’d refund the money. Now, Kurnel, tell me the solid artesian truth, is that ’air coffee any good?”

“Well,” replied the colonel, sadly, for he knew that a woman is ever sensitive about her coffee, “I believe that I’d get my money back – that is, if you ever expect to see him again – which you probably don’t.”

“No,” sighed Mrs. Bilkins, “I’m allus gittin’ fooled. It’s jest like the time I went to the Curmess, wich some feller said would a been a dog-gone mess if the cur had been left off; but I heered Tom say as there was goin’ to be a quart ’et an’ a quint ’et an’ I wanted to go an’ help eat ’em. But the lunch was pritty high fer the kind an’ there weren’t a quart of it altogether, much less a quint. But there! I ain’t got nothin’ to say agin’ the show, few these church doin’s is gen’ally wuth the money an’ goes to a good cause, - that is, the receipts nearly allus pay the expenses. When they don’t, them that’s worked the hardest has to put up the rest o’ the shuks, an’ imagine they’ll find their reward in Heving, where church sociables are at a bigger discount than Crusmus presents in a barber shop. Now I’ve got to work all my spare time to turn my lavender silk fer the Charity Ball, fer I wouldn’t miss it fer a farm. You’d have to go with me, Kurnel, fer it ain’t proper fer a lady to go alone, an’ you can borry George Cadwell’s swaller-tail, that he ain’t wore sence the prize fight. I hope Narre. will be there so’s I can jest grab him around the neck an’ swing him in a good old-fashioned waltz, fer Narre. is a great dancer an’ loves to spin.”

“It’s almost too warm for a dance,” said the colonel, with a troubled face.

“Well, it is rather summery. I got a letter from my brother in Oshkosh the other day, an’ he says in it, says he, ‘here you’ve been slavin’ fer six year in Dakoty an’ what have you got?’

“An’ I answered an’ says: ‘we’ve got the beautifullest weather in Ameriky,’ says I.

“ ‘Then,’ he writ back, ‘send me two barrels an’ a hogshead, for it’s so rainy an’ nasty here that I ain’t gone to the bank fer three days, an’ my money drawers is runnin’ over!’ That’s jest like my brother, he allus liked a joke. But speakin’ o’ jokes, a feller walked inter Salsberry’s yisterday an’ says, ‘hev you got a dairy fer sale?’ ‘No,’ says Skip, with a grin. ‘but Mr. Leavitt he’s got one he’d like to dispose of.’ O’ course the feller meant a writin’ cullender, but Skip is nothin’ if he ain’t funny. He’s goin’ down to Pierre this week to see if they won’t make him United States Senator. I’d ruther see Kernel Evans there, myself, but the town can’t hardly spare him. Well, Christmas is comin’ mighty quick now, an’ everybody’ll be jest as happy as if we was all Senators. The only thing that worries me is that all the stores is sellin’ for less nor cost an’ I expect we’ll have all the merchants on the town after New Years. But I s’pose it can’t be helped unless everyone insists on payin’ ’em a fair profit, an’ it ain’t in human natur’ to do that.”

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, January 30, 1921.

To begin with, the words left out of the last Forgetful poem were tobacco and ends. A dog is like a waste bucket because he is full of scraps. The state paper and famous ship was the Constitution.

The Forgetful Poet is feeling nonsensical, I think, from the sound of this verse, but he said to stick it in while he thought up a riddle. So I did.

Once there was a cotton rabbit
With a sugar-coated tail,
Who had a most amazing habit
Of chewing up the family mail!

Can you fill in these blanks?

There once was a -----
Who live in a garret,
And live upon coffee beans,
Crackers and -----.

The blanks in this verse can be filled in by musical terms.

An old man stood beside a wall,
And he was bent and pale,
And heavily leaned on his -----.
“The wall’s too high to -----,
I’ll have to go the other way,”
Quoth he, and down he sat
To ----- awhile upon a boulder,
Smooth and broad and -----.

[Answers next time.]

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

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A GOOSE POEM and Other Animal Verse

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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 19, 1918.

A maiden goose of age uncertain
Sat dreaming by her window curtain!

Her dreams of a gallant gander who
On bandy legs had come to woo!

At just this point the goose awoke,
For a gander voice on the stillness broke!

“Honk! Honk!” he called. “My love come he-re!”
Out rushed Miss Goose, you could hardly see her!

Alas, poor soul! Next minute found
Her stretched and breathless on the ground!

A motor horn! The poor old goose
Is crying yet—but what’s the use?

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

When big Madam Elephant cleans up her house,
’Tis done with no trouble or flurry.
No ladders or chairs; with a trunk like hers there’s
No occasion for fluster or worry!

It reaches the high spots and reaches the low,
And serves as a mop or a hose,
And that is the reason her nerves are so calm,
And her house is so neat, I suppose!

(I think an inventor must surely have seen her
And gotten a tip for the vacuum cleaner.)

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, July 27, 1919.

Did you ever see a Dandy Lion?
He’s a sight to see.
With monocle from London Town
And cane from gay Paree.
His mane he combs in Russian style.
He wears a Homburg hat,
But his suit is straight American,
Just let me tell you that.
And when he strolls his eyes he rolls
Till all the beasts are sighin’
And envious—why some of us
May see a Dandy Lion!
              (Some day.)

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, March 9, 1919.

A pussy willow tree, you know,
Is where the fairy kittens grow;
At night upon the willow bough
They roll and tumble and meow.

Until the fairies come to pet them;
Oho! the fairies don’t forget them—
Saucers of cream the fairies bring,
Kitten lullabies they sing!

Besides the little fairy kittens,
Muffs and furs and fairy mittens
Grow on these branches—so you see,
It is a very useful tree (for fairies).

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, January 23, 1921.


“A pig,” says the Forgetful Poet, “is like a tomato because neither can climb a tree.” Well, did you ever? Here I’ve been trying to guess that puzzle all week and it’s only a joke!

The blanks in the verses were “gay,” “about them” and “hard.” What do you think of these verses?

There was fat and portly mouse,
Whose coat was green alpaca;
All day he sat around the house
And smoked dark brown -----.

He’d never heard that proverb known
To you, my little friends,
That “Singing cows and smoking mice
All come to dreadful -----!”

Why is a bowwow like a waste bucket? This really has a regular answer.

What state paper names a famous ship?

[Answers next time.]

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

Sunday, October 1, 2017


By Jack Snow
Author of Spectral Snow, The Shaggy Man of Oz, "A Murder in Oz," etc.

Originally published in Dark Music and Other Spectral Tales, 1947.

I had taken care of Alicia for all six years of her short life. Her mother had died at childbirth and her father, Will Raynor, had hired me as nurse and governess for the child. That was back in 1910 in a small town in the middle west where Will Raynor was a moderately well-to-do business man.

I was in my middle-thirties then and already resigned to spinsterhood and a life of nursing. Shy, retiring and never even remotely a beauty, I had endured a lonely girlhood, emerging into middle-age with an abiding love of my work and a deep sense of peace that was and has been a blessing, and, I suppose my consolation for the denial of marriage and children of my own. Now that I am an old woman and look back on my life, I certainly see no reason to count my years of service wasted, nor can I truthfully say that I have not enjoyed the quiet of spirit that has been mine and the joy I have experienced in serving others and being rewarded with their gratitude and friendship over many long years.

But this is not my story. Lives like mine are all too common in small towns, and too uncommon in large cities where the patterns of people and life change too rapidly for anything like peace or serenity to exist.

This is the story of laughing, blue-eyed, golden-haired Alicia Raynor and tow-headed, brown-eyed Tommy Ramsey who lived next door. In every possible way I was a mother to little Alicia, and she loved me, I am proud to say, as she might have loved her own sweet mother, whom I saw die. From that moment on, until her own death six short years later, Alicia was mine. Tommy had been born just a week before Alicia, and I remember that his mother had been grief stricken when told o£ Mrs. Raynor’s death. The two had been neighbors and good friends since girl-hood. They had planned many things they would do together with their children. They had agreed, half seri-ously, half facetiously that Mrs. Ramsey would have a boy and Mrs. Raynor would have a girl, and the children should grow up together. Well, at least part of their plan worked out, although poor Mrs. Raynor died without knowing whether her baby was a little girl or boy. After Mrs. Raynor’s death, I became quite friendly with Mrs. Ramsey, and as it was more than ever her wish that Alicia and Tommy should be comrades from baby days on, I was only too glad to agree.

So that was how it was that from the time the children were able to toddle they were together constantly. When Alicia was not in her nursery or playing about the house, I knew I could find her next door at the Ramseys’. Mrs. Ramsey enjoyed a like assurance concerning her Tommy. The children were wonderful together. I never once knew them to quarrel. I know many parents will scoff at that statement, but I insist it is true. Alicia and Tommy had no childish quarrels. It was as though they had been born to be together. Their toys were common property. Indeed, I do not think they looked upon their possessions as individually such. Perhaps they even regarded themselves as one. That would have been entirely natural since they had been together almost constantly from their earliest days. Often have I speculated on what their lives would have been like had they grown up and wedded. Surely such a marriage would have been one of those made in heaven.

The first five years of my life with Mr. Raynor and the children were as happy and uneventful as I have known, giving no hint of the sorrow that was to follow so soon. It was Alicia’s fifth birthday that really marked the begin-ning of the end. For it was on this occasion that Mr. Raynor gave her the Doll House.

I recall that day perfectly. It was early in March, grey, raw and blustery. Alicia and Tommy were playing in the nursery, and Mr. Raynor had come home early from his office. We climbed the stair, he carrying the well-wrapped Doll House. The nursery was lighted by a chandelier in which glowed four old fashioned electric light bulbs with shimmering carbon filaments and sharp tips like tears dripping from their rounded surfaces.

Both children were immediately fascinated by the package and flew to the aid of Mr. Raynor in removing the wrappers. When they saw the beautiful Doll House they went into ecstasies of delight.

“Our house!” they crowed in unison. “Now we have a house of our very own!”

Mr. Raynor and I simply sat down and enjoyed the scene. It was a remarkably elaborate and exquisitely con-structed Doll House. The roof and the sides lifted up so that each room was available for play. The furnishings of the rooms were marvels in themselves. There were no painted carpets here, but soft, finely woven, tiny rugs and carpets. Chairs and lounges were upholstered. The dining room was complete down to buffet with silver, glass and linen service. The kitchen was filled with delightful minia-tures of all the fixtures and utensils that made up the modern kitchen of that far-away day. The bedrooms were delights of tiny coziness. The beds were furnished with springs, mattresses, sheets, blankets and pillows with slips embroidered with fairy buttercups.  There was even a nursery complete with toys that an elf child might have delighted in. These were miniatures of exquisite work-manship. All must have been hand wrought, for the tiny doll carriage, the wee drum, the inch-tall clown, and all the others were delicately and charmingly carved and put together. In one corner of the nursery stood a miniature Noah’s Ark, and in another a Doll House that measured no more than three inches high. I wondered whimsically at the time if that three-inch-high Doll House had a Doll House within it—and so on and on, like the Chinese boxes that fit endlessly into each other.

When the excitement had died down somewhat, Mr. Raynor demonstrated the crowning wonder of this model house done in Lilliputian style. He had left the nursery for a moment to reappear with a package from which he produced four dry cells and a coil of bell wire. He hooked the batteries into circuit and fastened the lead wires to two terminals at the rear of the Doll House. Immediately the structure glowed with lights in every colorful room. The Doll House was electrically lighted! In 1915 that was sheer and utter magic and enchantment. The children were almost awed. Here was a house straight out of fairy-land, and it was all theirs!

Despite Alicia and Tommy’s wonder and joy, it didn’t take them long to discover new miracles in their enchanted house. Each of the tiny lights—which were no more than flashlight bulbs—could be turned on and off by individual switches on the walls and in the lamp bases. The house was as efficiently wired as any fire insurance underwriter would require in a human habitation.

From that moment on the Doll House was the center of Alicia and Tommy’s lives. They were never so happy as when they were playing house. On fine days I insisted as did Tommy’s mother that they play out-of-doors. But in spite of their normal, healthy love of the sunlight and fresh air and the romping games that could be played only on the sunny lawn or the glistening snow, it seemed to me that the children actually welcomed the gloomy days of rain, wind and bitter cold.

That was a happy year for all of us. I was not one whit worried over the children’s preoccupation with their Doll House. Who wouldn’t be fascinated with so marvelous a creation? I was, myself. And as 1916 dawned, I knew that the coming fall would see the children entering grade school—going hand in hand out into the world. I knew the association of other children, school occupations, and the swift unfolding of the world outside their homes would slowly but steadily lessen their interest in the Doll House. I sighed. Soon they would be our babies no longer, but children on the way to growing up.

However, that was not meant to be. It was late in March —a March that was roaring out like a cageful of angry lions—that first Alicia, and only a few days later Tommy, fell ill. It was dread diphtheria. Remember, those were still the days when diphtheria was a ruthless slayer of children. Widespread vaccination, except for smallpox, and inoculation were not yet prevalent in middle western schools. Nor were sanitary conditions anything like they are today. Few small towns possessed adequate water sup-plies. In our home, drinking water came from a well with a pump in the kitchen, while water for other purposes was nothing more than rain water, collected in a cistern. Control by preventive and sanitation measures were still to come, and in those years many an American town knew the terrors of diphtheria epidemics.

Even now I do not like to hark back to those dread two weeks. Alicia and Tommy suffered piteously. We made them as comfortable as possible, and did everything then prescribed to stay the course of the disease. The two houses were quarantined as one, and I divided my time between the two children, although the Ramseys had engaged their own nurse.

The parents were frantic. In such circumstances there is just no means of consolation, particularly when one needs to be consoled oneself. The end came one bleak, cold night in April. Alicia and Tommy stopped breathing at almost the same time. A blackness fell on all our hearts. I won’t, I can’t say that I suffered more than the parents, but I had been almost as close to Tommy as Alicia. I had lost two children.

The next few days we moved about like automatons. We had all been hurt so deeply that the funeral services and then the days following in the dreadfully quiet houses seemed unreal and nightmarish.

There was no reason for me to remain longer with Mr. Raynor. He had a competent housekeeper to look after things. He no longer needed the services of a nurse and governess. But Mr. Raynor asked me to stay on for a few more weeks until he had somewhat recovered from the shock of his loss. He confided in me that he planned to dismiss the housekeeper, sell the house and furnishings, and move to the one good hotel the town boasted. I could understand that very well. He was entirely alone now, and living in that empty house, surrounded by memories, would have been depressing and unhealthful.

So I remained, and that was how I chanced to experience the strangest happening of my entire life. It was nearly midnight one dreary Monday. It had been raining all day and the drops continued to beat a melancholy tapping on the roof. It was so quiet that I could hear the rain gutter-ing into the spouting outside my window. Mr. Raynor had retired several hours before, and the housekeeper had been in her room since early evening. I, alone, was awake.

I could not sleep, and had been reading. My extremely unfortunate choice of reading matter had been Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw.” I am not a literary person, so I could not have known beforehand that the story was a great horror classic about a little girl and little boy who died. I had selected the book at random from Mr. Raynor’s library, and once I started reading it, I could not put it aside.

My little bed clock was ticking busily, and the hands had almost met at 12, when I finished the story with its tremendous ending. Realization of the meaning of the book swept over me like a cold tide of terror. I sat per-fectly still, thinking. The house was utterly quiet. There was only the ticking of my clock, and the sound of the chill rain in the black night outside. I felt suddenly cold, and rose to put a shawl about my shoulders.

It was then that the light attracted my attention. A door of my room opened into the nursery. Flowing from under this door, I thought I detected a faint light. Since the children had gone, neither Mr. Raynor nor I had entered the nursery. Our grief was still too fresh for that. But I was perfectly sure that no lights had been left on in the nursery. There was no alternative. I must investigate. I slowly opened the door and looked in. The faint light came from the Doll House.

There were lights in two of its downstairs rooms. Could Mr. Raynor have been there earlier in the evening and left the lights on? That must be the explanation, I assured myself. And then I stared in amazement. The light in one of the rooms—the living room—winked out! An instant later the light in the other room—the kitchen —vanished. The nursery was lighted only by a narrow path of faint luminance that flowed from my room. The Doll House was in complete shadow. I was trembling with cold now, and it wasn’t the kind of cold a shawl could dis-sipate.

Standing there in the shadow, staring at the Doll House, I heard it—unmistakably—the sound of two pairs of tiny feet pattering up a stairway—the stairway in the Doll House. I gasped, and then told myself I must regain con-trol of my nerves. Mice, I had heard, and nothing more— mice. Nevertheless, my hands shook, and I felt sick and weak.

Just as the footsteps on the stairway ceased, a light on the second floor of the Doll House blinked on. It was the light in the Doll House nursery.

Strong as my desire was to flee from the room, I knew what I must do, or never again know peace of mind. My hands shook violently, and I was desperately weak as I reached out to raise the roof of the Doll House so that I might peer into the tiny nursery.

I will state simply, and in as few words as possible what I saw. In the nursery of the Doll House were two tiny children, not more than six inches tall. One was Alicia— the other Tommy. They were natural as life, save that they were so tiny-—so doll-like. Entirely absorbed in each other the mannikins seemed unaware of my presence or of my having raised the roof of the Doll House. The two were standing before the three-inch-high Doll House in the Doll House nursery.

Just before darkness closed in and I fell in a deep faint, I heard perfectly and unquestionably the piping, childish treble of the miniature Alicia as she said to the wee Tommy:

“Let’s play house!”

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, January 16, 1921.

The Puzzle Corner

Why is a pig like a tomato? asks the Forgetful Poet, and I, for one, don’t think it is. But he says there is an answer to this, so see whether you can find it.

The Tom Tom in the band
Rose up and
Bit the poor Trombone.
It wept three treble notes,
And then a dreadful
B Flat groan.

Can you fill in these blanks.

I lost my rubbers yesterday,
I hurried forth without them,
Quite brave and unconcerned and -----
Why should I care ----- -----?

Oh, why? I struck a bit of ice,
I slid—perhaps a yard—
I balanced, tottered dizzily,
Then sat down very -----!

Of course, you all guessed last week’s riddle—a pan of bread is like the sun because it rises.

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

Friday, September 1, 2017


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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, March 13, 1921.

Timmy Twitchet was a little gray mouse-gentleman with curly whiskers and charming manners. He was a self-made mouse, moreover, and had, by his own efforts, risen from the woodshed to the attic!

Timmy’s early years had been spent as apprentice to a cross old cobbler-mouse whose bootshop was in a corner of the shed in a large city dwelling. Early and late the little mouse was kept blacking boots and running errands.

But Timmy kept his eyes open and before long had got a position as headwaiter in a modest mouse hotel kept by an old maid mouse in the kitchen cupboard. And so successful was he in gathering crumbs and other attractive fare from the dining-room table that he was asked to take entire charge of the Young Business Mouse’ Lunch Club, which had quarters in an exclusive corner of the sideboard.

From then on Timmy’s fortune improved. He had a wonderful facility for getting what he wanted without being molested by the giant two-legs who owned the house.

He taught in the public mouse-school in the library bookcase; then progressed rapidly through every room in the mansion, each time bettering his position and acquiring a little of the polish which later made him so delightful and so popular. In his early prime Timmy reached the top floor and here, in the children’s nursery, ran a flourishing banking business.

The dolls urged him to settle down—to build a house (there were plenty of blocks and supplies to be picked up cheap), but Timmy shook his head. When he settled down, he decided solemnly, it would be among his own people and in a quieter neighborhood.

So one day, after adding up his cash book, Timmy found he had enough to retire comfortably and, bidding good-by to the toys, he turned his steps toward the attic. It is to the attic that wealthy mice who have made their fortunes retire to live in ease and comfort far from the noise and persecutions of people, and it was in the attic that Timmy found his future home.

It was in the suburbs of the little flourishing attic city, and how the mice had overlooked it Timmy could not imagine. With his paws clasped in ecstasy Timmy stood before the handsome old homestead—then, dashing up the steps, claimed it for his own.

No wonder Timmy was so delighted. It was an abandoned doll house with a colonial front door, windows that opened, shades, furniture, carpets and a real bath tub.

The excited little mouse-gentleman hurried from floor to floor, snapped up all the shades, looked under the beds, bounced on the old-fashioned sofa to test the springs and finally, with a chuckle of pure content, settled down in a big (for a mouse) armchair to brood over his good fortune. Then, winding the clock which never ran, he hurried down to the attic hardware store and ordered a brass name-plate for his door.

“Timmy Twitchet, Esquire.”

“And mind you letter it plainly, he ordered, twirling his cane recklessly, and strode out, leaving the shopkeeper breathless with admiration. Timmy had style, there was no denying!

On the doll house steps Timmy paused again to admire his mansion. He thought with scorn of the old hole in the shed that used to harbor him, and of his struggles to rise in the world

“This—is living,” said Timmy proudly, “A little paint, a through cleaning and a few personal touches will make this the finest establishment in the attic!”

No callers came that evening, so Timmy retired early and, dreaming of sun parlors, green portieres, red lamp shades and a life-size portrait of himself over the library mantel, the little self-made mouse dropped off happily to sleep in the tiny four-post doll bed!

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, January 9, 1921.


Before breaking into verse the Forgetful Poet says that the only bird who can go into four twice is a Toucan, and I guess he is right about that. The two great Americans found in a tree are Root and Wood, and the rhyme of Dr. Duck was impossible, as one young lady put it, because a shad has no shin, a frog has no tail, a dog has no wing and a jellyfish no bones. The Forgetful Poet still thinks it was a pretty good poem.

“Why is a pan of bread like the sun?” he asks this week, and then goes on to give us another impossible poem, which he declares is as sensible as poetry need be.

A Strenuous Week-End

I went a-driving on a lake,
And rowing on a mountain,
And passing through a garden
Got all dusty from a fountain.

I ate a book of fiction up,
And read a box of candy;
I heard the moving pictures through,
And saw a concert dandy.

And, after all this, being tired,
I hustled off to bed,
And dreamed I was a clown
Supporting lions on my head.

[Answers next time.]

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