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.

Monday, March 1, 2021

THINK IT OVER!

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

Hungry Tiger Press celebrates twenty years of bringing you short works by the Royal Historians of Oz with the following song lyric, likely intended for the unproduced stage show The Octopus, circa 1901.
Courtesy of Robert A. Baum


If a girl declares she loves you and forever will be true—
Think it over! Think it over!
If you’re living up your income how can you provide for two?
Think it over care-ful-ly!
It’s nice to have a little wife to cook and pour your tea;
It’s nice to have some little ones to clamber on your knee,
But you can’t afford the luxury on ten a week, you see—
Think it over! Think it over!

If you run across a slot-machine that promises you wealth—
Think it over! Think it over!
Perhaps the thing is standing there to benefit its health—
Think it over care-ful-ly!
Also the man who wants to sell you gold-mines mighty cheap
Is either a philanthropist or thinks you’re sound asleep;
Perhaps he needs the money or the gold he’d surely keep—
Think it over! Think it over!

When you breakfast at your boarding-house and find the dish is hash—
Think it over! Think it over!
Perhaps it’s mixed with buttons or the darky cook’s mustache—
Think it over care-ful-ly!
Or when a friend relates to you the well-known tale of woe:
Just changed his trousers but forgot to change his purse, you know:
Perhaps he’s gently stringing you, and yet perhaps ’tis so—
Think it over! Think it over!

When a politician claims he’s fighting for the peoples’ right—
Think it over! Think it over!
Perhaps some corporation will his services requite—
Think it over carefully!
Likewise restrain your envy when you find your neighbor man
Is riding in a yellow Auto., new and spick and span:
Perhaps he’s paying for it on the new installment plan—
Think it over! Think it over!

 

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

Hunting Season in Supposyville

Of course, you know the hunting
Season is at hand; one hears
The sound of popping guns;
And in Supposyville, my dears,
With horns and hounds and revelry
The season is acclaimed.
Oh, indeedy, for festivities
This season is far-famed.
And what do you suppose they hunt?
Big game? The fox or hares?
Upon my word ’tis none of these;
Nor lions, no; nor bears.
A-riding down the lanes and streets
All merrily they canter,
And in the courtyard all dismount
With jollity and banter;
And there are posted high the lists
Of game, dears, and next minute
Away they go, and high and low
They hunt when they begin it.
They rummage through the cellars,
And they scurry through the halls;
And in their haste, I tell you now,
They take some pretty falls;
But long about threeteen o’clock
(Supposyville for four)
A great bell sounds and men and hounds
Crowd ’round the castle door;
And hanging to their saddles
And around their necks they bring
The game. Ha! Ho! ’Tis funny. Oh,
They’ve hunted everything!
Yes, everything that has been lost
For months back; books and purses,
Umbrellas, dogs and overshoes;
Well, really, dears, these verses
Could hardly tell the list of them;
And all the lovely prizes
The King and Queen award the huntsmen.
But how very wise is
This hunting business; oh, I wish
We’d have one, too, and find
Just all the lost belongings
That have strayed or stayed behind.

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

Monday, February 1, 2021

THE HOUSEKEEPING ADVENTURES OF TIMMY TWITCHET

By Ruth Plumly Thompson  
Author of The Purple Prince of Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.
 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 21, 1917.
 

Timmy Twitchet, as I told you a while back, had moved into the old dollhouse that had been sent up to the attic. It was an ideal home for a mouse, so roomy and with so many comforts and conveniences. There were several spare beds and Timmy often had his friends to stay all night. He took great pride in his establishment, I can tell you!

Several of his cousins, who were handy with the needle, had made him curtains from an old white dimity dress that someone had left on a chair in the attic, and there was plenty for bedspreads, too, so you can imagine how cozy it was. Captain Twirler, an old gentleman mouse who had often called upon the dolls when the house stood in the playroom, assured Timmy that even in its heyday (whenever that was) the house had never been so well kept. And I dare say this is true, for dolls are seldom good housekeepers. More than one bachelor mouse tried to rent a room from Timmy, but as Timmy said he didn’t care for boarders, they had to apply elsewhere.

And now that Timmy was set up so well he was invited everywhere by the mouse mamas, who were quite anxious for their daughters to marry a gentleman mouse with such a comfortable home. This was all very well, but Timmy could not seem to find among the young lady mice any with whom he would care to trust his heart and his housekeeping. “They don’t know how to cook or mend and spend all their time running to cheese parties,” he confided to his friend, Bobby Grey, and they both shook their heads over the frivolities of the day.

One night as he and Bobby sat discussing the matter over a glass of cider, they were surprised to hear a rumbling outside. “What can that be?” cried Timmy springing up in alarm, “Sounds like—” Bobby got no further, for right on the heels of the thunder came a terrible slam, the house shook all over, the lamp fell on the floor and smashed to bits, it grew dark, well, as dark as an attic can be at night. For five minutes Timmy and his friend did not move. Then, as nothing more seemed to be happening, Timmy crawled cautiously out from beneath the piano, where he had rolled, and felt in his pocket for a match.

“Are you hurt?” quavered Bobby tremulously from under the sofa. “Seem to have twisted my tail and there’s a lump coming on my head!” replied Timmy, as he found the match. “How about you?” holding the flickering light above Bobby.

“A little shaken, thank you!” Bobby scrambled to his feet and both stared about uneasily, but still nothing else happened. “Suppose we look out and see what it was,” suggested Timmy bravely. Fetching a candle from the kitchen the two went to the front door, but it wouldn’t open. They pushed and shoved till they were red in the face, but could not budge it. “That’s funny,” said Timmy. “It never stuck before!”

They ran up stairs as fast as they could patter and threw up the windows. Timmy thrust his head impulsively out the window. Another lump began to come, for he had bumped his head on something and before he could say anything Bobby had bumped his head. It was very painful, as well as provoking.

They went up to the third story and felt out the little window; a big black mountain seemed to be jammed tightly against the house. “This is terrible,” said Timmy Twitchet, sitting down on a doll’s trunk in the corner. Bobby set the candle down on the floor. “Have you a chimney?” he asked at last. There was a chimney, and with a small lantern they climbed cautiously up and looked out the top. Fortunately Timmy had brought the doll opera glasses that he found in his bureau drawer and with this help they made out a GREAT TRUNK. It had been pushed right up against the dollhouse. “This ruins everything,” wailed Timmy. “Let’s go to bed,” proposed Bobby sensibly, and as there seemed nothing else to do they turned in, after tying up their bruises with witch hazel.

For several days Timmy was in deepest despair, and no wonder, with his view cut off in this sudden fashion. It was humiliating, too, to have to enter one’s house by the chimney. None of his friends, excepting Bobby, would come to see him, and he was not invited to any more parties, “for who would want one’s daughter to live in THAT dungeon,” whispered the mouse mothers to one another. But joy, one morning when Timmy wakened up everything was light again. He rushed to the window, and much to his delight found that the trunk had been pushed aside. He called Bobby right up on the telephone and that very day he received invitations to twenty parties. “Don’t go,” advised Bobby, and Timmy did not go to any of them. All I hope is that he finds a nice, quiet, demure little mouse to share his house, and if he does, I shall certainly tell you about it.


Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 30, 1917. 
 
 
The Autumnal Fete in Supposyville

Now in Supposyville, my loves,
Before the frosty days come flying,
They have a grand autumnal fete;
And hitherward each goes a-hying
Beneath the autumn skies to dance
And sing, and frolic on the green,
And hold high carnival and pledge
Allegiance to the King and Queen.

And there are booths for this and that,
And goodies, too, in every guise;
Fair fortune telling, and the like,
To please, amuse and oft surprise.
Upon these preparations grand
The giant from his garden wall
Looked in high glee. He lived next door,
As you, my love, no doubt recall.

Now everything’s in readiness,
Supposies come from far and near;
The band strikes up its blithest air—
Behold! the King and Queen are here.
Now twirl the dancers round and round,
Now cries the candy man his wares,
And in this gay, delightful way
Each drops his worries and his cares.

When desolation! Oh, dismay!
Down suddenly, without a warning,
The rain comes pattering, cruelly spattering
The merry dancers. Oh, what mourning!
“Back to the palace!” calls the King.
The boothmen try to save their wares;
And gathering up its skirts and hats,
For flight the company prepares.

But stop, you’ll never once suppose
What happened next—upon my word
It is too comical, I say,
Too comical and too absurd;
For stepping o’er the garden wall,
That giant, the obliging fellow,
Stood in the center like a pole
And kindly held his big umbrella.

And while outside the rain came pouring,
Beneath this sort of circus tent
All dryly, and delightful, highly,
The frolicsome proceedings went.

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

Friday, January 1, 2021

WHO CALLED "PERRY?"

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

Originally published in the Chicago Times-Herald, January 15, 1896. This transcription has been prepared from reprintings in Detroit Free Press, January 28, 1896, and the Buffalo Evening News, January 31, 1896, which differ slightly.


The Mystery of the Voice That Miraculously Saved a Traveler’s Life Though it Delayed Him.

It was nearly midnight when I boarded the train, and, entering the chair car, prepared to doze during the hours of my journey. “Call me at Perry,” I said to the conductor, as I surrendered my ticket, “for I may be asleep.”

He promised and I settled myself comfortably for my nap.

I don’t know how long I had slept, when some one shook me by the shoulder and shouted, “Perry!”

Opening my eyes I found the train was slowing up, and presently it came to a full stop. “Perry!” again shouted the voice in my ear. This time I sprang to my feet, seized my valise and stepped from the car to the platform just as the train glided away up the track.

I turned to look for the town and found myself confronted by a station agent holding a lantern.

“In which direction is the town?” I asked.

“Town!” he answered, in surprise; “there’s no town here.”

“Isn’t this Perry?”

“No; this is Head’s Crossing. Perry is twenty miles further on.”

“But the conductor,” I said, angry at my misadventure, “called Perry, and so I left the car. I shall report him to the superintendent.”

“The conductor was on the front car,” replied the man, “and you stepped from the rear car. He could not possibly have called you.”

“But some one shouted ‘Perry.’”

The agent looked at me incredulously and said nothing.

“Is there another train?” I asked.

“Not till morning.”

“Where can I sleep?”

“I’ll give you the cot in my office, if you like. The station is the only building within miles.”

Rather ungraciously, I fear, I accepted his hospitality; but the cot was hard and I was too much annoyed to sleep, so I tossed about until suddenly the agent, who was at the telegraph key, startled me by exclaiming:

“Good God!”

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“No. 16 has gone through the bridge at Coon Rapids, and the whole train is lying twenty feet under water!”

No. 16 was the train I had left to spend the night at Head’s Crossing.



Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 23, 1917.
 
 
The Supposies and the Bachelor Giant
 
You remember the 
Bachelor Giant, no doubt,
Whom just awhile back
I was telling about?
He lives, as you know,
Near that realm of renown--
Delightful, delicious
Supposyville town;
But, alas, the poor fellow,
The last of his tribe,
Has more troubles than I
Have time to describe.

The holes in his socks
Are as big as barn doors,
While the state of his kitchen
He daily deplores;
The buttons are burst from
His coat and his breeches;
Insecurely he mends them
With safety pin stitches;
No wife to keep house
Nor to mend, nor to bake;
A condition, my loves,
Fair to make one's heart ache.

All breathless from flying,
The help-a-bit bird
One night to Supposyville
Comes with the word
Of the giant's distress;
First the King is aroused;
In a minute not one
Of the populace drowsed;
In a trice they are dressed
And off over the wall,
Right into the castle.
There's work here for all.

While the giant, unconscious
Of everything, sleeps;
The spirit of order
O'er everything creeps;
They sewed on his buttons,
They mended his socks,
They patched up his breeches
And laundered his stocks.
And resolving at least
Once a month to come back,
Scampered chuckling away
Leaving never a track!
(Well, did you ever?)

Copyright © 2020 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.