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.

Friday, April 1, 2022

OLIVER ELEPHANT AND “TWO LEGS”

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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger,

 

Oliver Elephant was sitting under a tree wondering what was keeping Tommy Tapir, when suddenly a rushing sound reached his ear. Tommy himself, running at top speed, soon emerged. “Two legs!  Two legs!” gasped Tommy, clattering past Oliver. And two legs is elephant for men. Up humped Oliver Elephant and pounded after Tommy as fast as he could go. And he hadn’t gone very far before he came to a stretch of ground that did not look exactly right. He paused uncertainly and called to Tommy, but Tommy was out of sight. “If he got across it, don’t see why I can’t,” he murmured, and, suiting the action to the word, plunged ahead.

He reached the middle in safety, then quite suddenly the whole bottom dropped out of things and Oliver fell through. Down, down, THUMP! went the big little elephant. As soon as he got his breath he looked around. He was in a deep, stony pit, much too deep for him ever to climb out of. He suddenly remembered all the stories Uncle Abner had told him of two legs carrying off elephants to perform in the circus or in a zoo. These thoughts were so very alarming that poor Oliver burst into tears. He ran round and round the bottom of the pit trumpeting for dear life and pretty soon the scared head of Tommy Tapir looked over the edge. “You’re always getting into trouble!” he wailed dismally. “Oh, what SHALL we do!”

“Big people always get into trouble—little fellows can slip out of everything,” choked Oliver, miserably. “Go for help, Tommy; no use standing there looking at me. Go, GO!”  Tommy went. In about a month or so, it seemed to Oliver, he came puffing back, Oliver’s whole family at his heels.

“Tusks, trunks and walrus hides!” exploded Uncle Abner in dismay.

“Two-leg prints!” hissed Father Elephant. “We’ve GOT to get him out of here!”

“Don’t speak, don’t move—wait!”  Uncle Abner held up his trunk solemnly—“I want to think!”  An anxious silence ensued. Then “I have it!” rumbled Uncle Abner triumphantly. “We’ll fill up one side of the pit with tree trunks and Oliver can climb out over them. HERE GOES!”

Up came a tree and down it went, hitting Oliver squarely on the head. “Waugh!” screamed Oliver. “What are you trying to do?”

“Dodge!” commanded Uncle Abner, sending down another. “You can’t expect to be rescued without some discomfort!”  Oliver dodged and what with Mother Elephant and Father Elephant and Uncle Abner Elephant pitching trees as fast as they could poor Oliver got bumped and scratched every little while. But one side of the pit was filling rapidly and Oliver, dragging the trees about, was able to make a sloping runway to the top.

With many slips and slides and much help from above, he finally dragged himself to the edge, just in time, too. For Uncle Abner, pausing to wipe the perspiration from his forehead, heard a crackling in the brush behind them. “They’ve come!  Hurry, run, run for your lives!” he screamed, and, waiting for no second invitation, the whole elephant family, with Tommy Tapir close at their heels, went galumping through the jungle.

And that’s how there comes to be one elephant less in the circus, and somehow I am glad. Are not you?

 

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, January 13, 1918

The Iron Law of the King of Supposyville

The Supposies have no prison,
’Cause they really have no crimes,
But even these dear jolly folks
Will go astray at times.

The King, the mildest and the kindest
One you ever saw,
Has one pet theory and one very
Stern and fast iron law.

To break it means a summons
To the court; the sentence meted
Is awfully queer—just nowhere, dear,
Are criminals so treated.

This is the law, ’tis posted high
Where every one may see,
Done under hand and seal and mark
Of his high majesty.

“Know ye that any man or child
With wet feet will be taken
Before the doctor of the court
And sentenced to be shaken!

“And he who goes sans overshoes
On rainy, snowy days,
Shall be arrested and compelled
To change his lawless ways.”

Each season doth the King provide
A pair of overshoes
For every subject; but, of course,
We all are prone to lose

These necessary articles;
And often nine or ten
Are taken and severely shaken—
That’s not all, for then

They have to pay the penalty—
A full week spent in bed
With mustard plasters on the chest,
Hot water bags at feet and head!

Perhaps a law like that would be
A good thing for us, too;
Think I’ll make a trip to Washington
And see what I can do!

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

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

WE'RE HAVING A HELL OF A TIME

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

From The Uplift of Lucifer, first performance Oct. 23, 1915, originally published 1963. 

 

Scene: An ante-room of Hades
Quartet

IMP OLITE, THE DEVIL’S FAMILIAR:
When we’ve taken sev’ral glasses 
Like a bunch of reckless asses 
We’re having a hell of a time. 
When we’re flirting with a woman 
With an object very human 
We’re having a hell of a time. 
If we’re playing whiskey-poker 
And the pot’s a reg’lar soaker 
And we go home with a penny or a dime; 
If we try to kill the Ump, 
When the home team gets a bump, 
Then we’re having a hell of a time!

IMP OLITE, IMP OSTER, IMP ASHUNT, AND IMP RUDENT:
We’re having a hell of a time, my boys,
We’re having a hell of a time.
We’re all Imps of Satan,
And Hades is waitin’,
To show us its fireworks sublime.
At torments and blisters our fingers we snap;
For hot tongs and pincers we don’t care a rap;
Though we hate a hot clime
We are all feeling prime
And we’re having a hell of a time.

IMP OLITE, THE DEVIL’S FAMILIAR:
When poor devils go to battle,
And the big guns roar and rattle,
They’re having a hell of a time.
When you’re bathing at the beaches
With a half a dozen peaches
You’re having a hell of a time.
When our tailor comes collecting
And the sheriff we’re expecting
And our club checks to an awful figure climb
We don’t lie around and mope
But remember—here’s the dope—
That we’re having a hell of a time.

IMP OLITE, IMP OSTER, IMP ASHUNT, AND IMP RUDENT:

We’re having a hell of a time, my boys,
We’re having a hell of a time.
We’re all Imps of Satan,
And Hades is waitin’,
To show us its fireworks sublime.
At torments and blisters our fingers we snap;
For hot tongs and pincers we don’t care a rap;
Though we hate a hot clime
We are all feeling prime
And we’re having a hell of a time.

 

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, January 6, 1918.

Sir Solomon Tremendous Wise to the Rescue

Sir Solomon Tremendous Wise
Looked at the swiftly falling snow,
Piled to the step tops, whirling on
In drifted masses down below;
“A little bit’s all right,” said he,
“But stars, ’twould take no wizard
To see that this is bound to be
A good old-fashioned blizzard.”

Supposyville was sound asleep,
And only here and there a light
Shone dimly through the falling snow
To keep the guard against the night;
Sir Solomon himself dozed off,
Then rose and brewed a cup of tea
Glanced out. My stars! My sakes!
Supposyville was swallowed up!

Wiped out completely and as neatly
As if it never had been there;
Buried deep, and fast asleep
Beneath the drifts. He tore his hair;
Bethinking of its scarceness, this
He ceased, and strode about;
“Two weeks or more ’twill be before
They’ll ever get themselves dug out.

“Who’ll feed the horses in the barns,
Or milk the cows?” he fumed;
“Why, folks may starve.” At this thought he
The tearing of his hair resumed;
But finally his agitation
Gave way to frantic concentration;
And ere an hour had passed a plan
Had come to this inventive man.

A burning glass of wondrous strength
He pointed toward the town;
And with a ray, whose name and fame
If known would bring to him a crown,
He set to work, my dears and ducks;
Next minute, underneath the snow,
Supposyville awakened, rubbed
Its eyes; no wonder, though.

For from its turrets, roofs and spires,
A very flood came pouring;
The houses shook, and down the street
Great torrents went a-roaring;
All lights went out, and in the dark
They shook with apprehension;
And thought of more calamities
Than I’ve the time to mention.

But, pshaw! Daylight revealed
A state of things you’ll hardly credit.
“Unbelievable!” Sir Solomon
Himself it was who said it;
For there stood old Supposyville,
Wet and draggled, it is true,
But all the snow had melted and
Run off, while round it, whew!

Piled mountain high the drifts arose;
A month they took to melt;
I’ll leave to you to guess just how
Relieved the kingdom felt,
And how they cheered Sir Solomon
And sent him many gifts;
For rescuing them thusly
From the blizzard and the drifts.
 
Copyright © 2022 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

HOW OLIVER ELEPHANT FOUND HIMSELF OUT

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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger,

 

“Pshaw!” grunted Uncle Abner. “How long is that boy going to stand everybody’s impertinence—makes my trunk curl to think of the way he ran just because he saw tiger prints at the drinking pool this mornin’. Why, when I was his age I—”

“Humph—ahem!” grunted Father Elephant, winking at Mother Elephant. “You certainly were a wonder, Abner—!”

“Don’t YOU worry about Oliver; he’ll find himself soon enough.”  Mother Elephant stopped in her dusting and shook her trunk reprovingly at her brother. “And don’t you be putting notions into his head either.”

Uncle Abner rattled the newspaper irritably; then muttering something about “other people’s children, and minding his OWN business even if it led to the ruination of everybody concerned,” flung out of the house.

At that very minute the cause of the argument was walking carelessly through the forest with Tommy Tapir. They had been paying a visit to Tommy’s Uncle John Rhinoceros and had not yet decided what to do next. But suddenly it was decided for them, and in a most unpleasant fashion. Oliver Elephant, bringing his gaze slowly down from a tall palm, where he had been admiring the gay plumage of a parrot, met the cruel yellow eyes of a tiger staring fixedly at them not more than twenty feet away. A frightened squeak from Tommy proved that he also was aware of their danger. The tiger’s eyes widened as he saw the unmistaken signs of terror in the two. He resolved to enjoy their discomfort for a while before he gave chase. Many a time he had chased Oliver through the forest—just for the fun of it—but today—he was hungry—today he meant business!

Oliver’s head was in a whirl—all in a second he realized it would be impossible to run back the way they had come—the forest was too dense and choked with underbrush. What then should he do?  Already he seemed to feel those four claws gripping his shoulders. From sheer nervousness he screamed. The tiger’s ears flattened backward in surprise; for, though Oliver screamed with fright, it sounded uncommonly like a bellow of rage.

Tommy, quick to notice, whispered, “Do it again—do it again!”  And Oliver, hardly knowing why, set up the most fearful trumpeting. The leaves swished to and fro, and in the distance little animals could be heard scurrying away. With each harsh scream the tiger blinked, but still crouched ready to spring, till Oliver, to whom the last minute had seemed a century long, could endure it no longer. He wound his trunk around a tree to steady himself and to his amazement, found he had torn it up by the roots. The sight puzzled him; then suddenly something snapped inside. It was fear. Over him, like the flow of a great river, rushed the consciousness of his mighty strength. With a scream, which this time was ALL fury, he plunged forward.

The tiger, taken quite unawares, had just time to jump aside before the great gray whirlwind swept past, pounding the underbrush to a pulp, and turning in a fury to charge again. Once those terrible feet barely grazed him; then like a yellow streak he flashed through the trees and was gone.

“Oliver—Oliver—big splendid Oliver!” thrilled little Tommy Tapir, coming out from behind the tree where he had watched open-mouthed his friend’s valiant charge.
    
“Pooh,” said Oliver, shaking himself all over. “That’s nothing, Tommy!  But isn’t it queer I never thought of it before?” he added half aloud.
 
“Thought of what?” said Tommy. “Why, RUNNING AT THINGS instead of away from them!” chuckled Oliver Elephant. “And any time you want a tree pulled up, Tommy, you just let me know, will you?”
    
“Didn’t I tell you!” exulted Mother Elephant that evening after Oliver was in bed as she related the story to Uncle Abner. (Tommy had told the afternoon’s experiences with great pride.)  “Didn’t I tell you that he would find himself!”

“Takes after OUR side of the family!” mumbled Uncle Abner, secretly delighted. “Why, when I was his age—!”

“HA HOH!” roared Father Elephant. “Upon my word, Abner, you were a wonder!”  And that was the end of Oliver’s running away from things.

 

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 30, 1917.

The Supposies Go Skiing

Just glancing through a volume
’Tother day, his Majesty
A-happened on that gliding,
Sliding, fascinating ski!
The pictures of Alpini shooting
Down the mountain side
Filled him with admiration;
“There’s a thing that must be tried,”
He murmured to the Minster
Of State, whose very hair
Stood straight erect in terror
At the pictured skiers there;
“’Tis for the young folks, I presume,”
Said he in husky tones,
“For such maneuvers in the old
Would lead to broken bones!”
“Tut, tut!” the King looked up at him;
“For all of us, my dear Allonz.”
The minister pushed back his specs,
Too startled for response.
“Now order me ten thousand pairs—
Ten thousand pairs of skis;
And call the royal weather man
And order up a freeze;
’Twill be a fitting finish to
Our Christmas holiday!”
“’Twill be a sitting finish,” quoth
Allonz, and stumped away.
In just three days the skis arrived;
Assembled at the Court
The good Supposies listen while
The King explains the sport.
“A simple matter, merely keep
Your balance, that is all;
Don’t turn your toes in and be calm,
Whatever may befall.”
Supposyville’s a mountainous
And hilly little place;
Now, all with skis slung on behind
Make for the steepest place;
The boys and girls, the courtiers,
And the merchants, fat and slim;
The King and Queen, the Ministers;
Allonz, with aspect grim;
In one long line they ranged themselves
Upon the mountain top;
“Remember,” warned the King, “that once
You’ve started not to stop.”

The castle lay below them
In a twinkling robe of snow;
The last strap’s buckled, ready,
Feet together, off we go!
And off they were indeed, how far
The dears will never know;
A whirling mass of arms and legs
And hats; and, if you please,
The daring, dauntless company went
Landsliding on their skis;
Faster still and faster flew
The ones that kept their feet;
Some others quite reversed things and
Just made the trip complete
Upon their heads; some struck on rocks
And bluffs, and fairly bounded
A mile in air, while, oh, despair!
Some others quickly grounded.

The King he reached the valley,
Leapt the castle, and was spired
Upon a turret by his cloak;
A derrick it required
To get him down; the Minister,
Allonz, tried to diminish
His speed, achieved and unbelieved,
The painful sitting finish.
A day it took to dig them out
And separate the skis;
No one was killed, though all were spilled,
And “we’ll soon manage these,”
They chuckled to each other, naught
Dismayed by bumps and bruises;
The King, with one eye bandaged,
All ski literature peruses.

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

Saturday, January 1, 2022

STRENUOUS BOBBY AND HOW HE BROKE WILLIE WHISKERS TO HARNESS

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, May 4, 1902.

 

Click image to enlarge.

 

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 16, 1917.
 
 
Just ’Fore Christmas in Supposyville

With what a stirring, bustling, whirring
Thrill of preparation
Supposyville makes ready for
Its Christmas celebration.
The couriers and messengers
Pound off—and up and down,
And holly wreaths nod jovially
From every house in town,
While the odors from the chimneys
Waft one straight to fairyland—
Oh, Christmas is a season that
Supposies understand!

And always kind and merry,
Now they simply radiate
A happiness that sets one’s heart
Into its Christmas gait;
Oh, yes, they know about good will
And peace in old Supposyville!

The bells are tolling hourly
The message of the times;
So sweet, so sweet the angels
Seem to sing, and not the chimes;
And with what hearty greetings
The good folk go to and fro,
Piled high with ribboned boxes
And with greens and mistletoe.

The castle clock is festive
In a giant wreath of holly,
And seems each minute to grow more
Excited and more jolly;
The chimneys newly cleaned and swept
Smoke sociably together,
And hope for old Kriss Kringle’s sake
For snowy Christmas weather.
Each lad and lassie’s busy
With a song or piece to learn;
The Yule logs in the fireplace
Brag ’bout the way they’ll burn.
I cannot think without a thrill
Of Christmas in Supposyville!

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

Monday, December 20, 2021

OLIVER ELEPHANT HELPS

By Ruth Plumly Thompson  
Author of The Giant Horse of Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.
 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 7, 1919.
 
 
Swish—sh! Splash—sh! Oliver Elephant was busy. Filling his trunk with the cool river water and sending it spraying backward, he stood knee-deep in the soft mud of the river bank.

“Wonder what the two-legs do to keep cool and clean—they have no trunk!” he thought to himself. The more he thought about it the more he wondered, until he became so careless that he squirted a vigorous spray of water straight in Tommy Crocodile’s eye. Tommy was usually very patient—but Oliver had interrupted a wonderful dream and he was so cross that the little elephant finished his bath in a hurry and humpety-humped through the forest to his elephant jungleow.

When supper-time came he was still wondering, and ate only a small piece of a wonderful hay pie Mother Elephant had made specially for him. She made him stick out his tongue and felt his pulse and then decided it must be because it was nearly time for school to open and did not bother about him any further.

As for Oliver, he was planning to do a very naughty thing. For “don’t go beyond that grove of trees,” said Mother Elephant. And “don’t go beyond that grove of trees” warned Father Elephant and Uncle Abner. And he was planning to do just that—to find out for himself how the two-legs kept clean and cool.

The next morning early he started out very quietly, pushing aside the branches and underbrush with his swinging trunk, and keeping a sharp lookout for enemies. Once a bad little monkey dropped a cocoa-nut right on his head with a loud “thwack,” and once a big mosquito flew into his big flapping ear, and buzzed loud and long. Otherwise the journey was very dull and Oliver had just filled his trunk for a drink and a bath when he came suddenly almost on top of a group of tents with black two-legs running hither and thither.

Wide-eyed the little elephant watched while they stretched a piece of canvas to four poles and carried enough water from the river to make a very fair bathtub.

“What wouldn’t I give this minute for a good cold shower,” complained a white two-legs to his companion as he started toward their bath.

And then—well that same wicked little monkey that had hit Oliver with the cocoa-nut—stole up behind the big little elephant and pinched his stubby tail very hard indeed. And Oliver, surprised and chagrined, lifted his trunk to trumpet his disapproval of such treatment, and gave those two white men the strangest shower bath of their lives.

“It’s a baby elephant,” some one said excitedly.

Black two-legs and white two-legs started to chase poor Oliver, and he went crash-crashing through the forest and never stopped until he reached dear Mother Elephant and told her the whole story.

“Well, anyhow, Oliver Elephant, you found out how two-legs keep cool and clean. Instead of a trunk they use a pipe with holes in the end and the water sprays them, just as you spray yourself down in the river,” laughed the wise old Mother Elephant.

And Oliver promised never to disobey again—though I’m sure the white men would have appreciated many another jungle shower bath—don’t you think so too?


Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 9, 1917. 
 
 
Sir Solomon Tremendous Wise Has Another Idea

Sir Solomon Tremendous Wise
All dubious surveys the skies;
No cloud doth mar its pristine blue;
“There’s just one thing for me to do,”
The sage unto himself doth speak
In some strange language (prob’bly Greek!)
Then gath’ring up his robe of state
He hies him hence at quite a gait.

Sir Solomon claims our close attentions—
Well, chiefly through his queer inventions;
And in his tower on the Hill
He works for all Supposyville.
No problem is too large or small
For him, he tries to solve them all.
His way, still hurrying, he doth take
Down to the edge of Mirror Lake.

Addresses it in language grim;
It shivers at the scorn of him;
So cold his glance and harsh his word,
Pshaw, now, it does seem quite absurd;
Whatever, dears, do you suppose?
That lake just heaved a sigh—then FROZE!
“This,” said Sir Solomon, “is first rate,
High time it is for us to skate.”

Away he waddles with the news;
With silver skates, in threes and twos
The good Supposies reach the lake,
And how they chuckle, mercy sake!
And how they cheer old Mr. Wise
And thank him for his fine surprise;
In rings they skate, and figures fancy
Perform, both marvelous and chancy.

The boys and girls, and merchants, too;
The King and Queen and courtiers flew
On silver heels, while merry peals
Of laughter tell how each one feels;
But, oh! my stars, my eyes, my nose,
My heart, my heels, my head and toes!
There came a creak, and then a snap—
The ice gave way, and in the lap

Of that cold lake the party tumbled,
Head over heels together, jumbled
Like raisins in a pudding—Whew!
How they did splash and splutter, too;
And there upon the bank they dried
Their clothes, and laughed until they cried;
It was, well, such a big surprise;
And don’t blame it on Mr. Wise,
Indeed I’m very sure, dears, ’tis
No parcel of a fault of his;
That lake with such warm smiles was pelted
It couldn’t keep its ice, and melted.

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