Monday, December 1, 2003


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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 13, 1914.

If we're all by our lonesome,
And all by ourselves -
I'll tell you a tale
Of some comical elves.
They live in the chimneys
As quiet as mouses
In the very tip-toppety
Top of our houses.
They live in the chimneys,
And little elf stairs
Lead up and down
And everywheres,
To little elf rooms
In the chimney wall -
With elfin beds
And elf chairs small!
And here these comical
Gray little elves
Keep house with their babies
Their wives and themselves!
But let me tell you,
They only stay
In the houses where good
Little children play.
Sometimes at night
When we all are sleeping,
Down the chimney
The elves come creeping;
And just like merry
Girls and boys
They play with the dolls
And the other toys.
Or, sometimes they skip
With a hoppety-hop
Up their elfin stairs
And come out on top
Of the chimneys, and each
On his silver guitar
Sings his quaint elfin song
To his favorite star.
Or other times
When the wind is high
They ride their smoke horses
Across the blue sky!
But NOW - Oh, now
They're busy as bees -
They have no time
For things like these!
They're watching, listening,
Looking, peeping
For Good St. Nick
A record keeping
Of all good children -
And dears, Oh, hark!
On the chimney tops
They'll put a mark
To guide St. Nicholas
And his sleigh
To good children's chimneys
Right away!
And that is why
Since we're all by ourselves
I've told you the tale
Of these comical elves.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 20, 1917.

The Puzzle Department

Every one enjoyed Mr. G. Ography and the Forgetful Poet's puzzle last week and much to their surprise hundreds of correct answers tumbled in. The cities were Wheeling, Mobile, Cologne, Paris, Salem, Stockholm and Rome.

How many boy and girl names can you find among the flowers? The Forgetful Poet found ten. Did you ever see a flying horse?

A Poem About Mr. Jones

Now, Mr. Jones walked out, my dears,
So gay and neat and ------ ;
I'm pretty sure somehow he's got
A pretty good excuse

For his apparel, and he hurries
So he won't be late;
Aha, I think with Mistress Brown
He has a little ------.

Down toward the sea he makes his way
And there upon the ------
Waits Mistress Brown. I told you so,
Not long he takes to reach

Her side. Says he, "When I'm away
From you I really ------.
Do you suppose you might consent
To evermore be mine?"

Miss Brown pushed back her white fox ------
And said she guessed he'd do for her;
I can't be sure that this is true,
But I think, she added, I love ------!

The Forgetful Poet says that the missing words are trees. How can words be trees? Well, I leave it to you, for I think you understand the dear chap better than I do.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2003 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 1, 2003


By Jack Snow
Author of The Magical Mimics of Oz, "Spectral Snow", "The Magic Sled", etc.

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

Johnny slouched in the shadows against the rough brick of a tumbledown building. There was nothing unusual about the building, for all the buildings in this tenement section not far from the Bowery in New York were tumble-down. Nor was there anything unusual about Johnny, unless you took a second look and that led you to his eyes. There was something still left in them. Not all the booze and bumming of five years could crowd out the ghosts that lived in Johnny's eyes. They whispered to you that here was a man who might have been somebody--might have amounted to a great deal instead of just something. But now--well, Johnny had been told many times that. he was "his own worst enemy." In that role he made war on himself with innumerable bottles.

Johnny slouched in shadow against the cold building, listening to the tolling of the midnight hour by a bell in a nearby church. Johnny counted off the strokes. With each one he grew colder, and more miserable--hungrier--but most of all--more and more in need of a drink--many drinks. Sobriety was playing a devil's tune on Johnny's taut nerves. Those nerves might have been manufactured in Switzerland, so tense were they, so finely coiled and ready to unspring and pitch Johnny into an inferno of hallucination. Johnny knew this and he shuddered--not with the cold or the snow that was falling gently, and which he could feel through the holes in his shoes.

At the last toll of the bell, Johnny looked up in surprise. The city block had been almost in darkness, save for two pale street lamps. But now a shop across the street had come alive. Its windows were blazing with light. Johnny stared incredulously and lurched across the street to the shop. It was an antique shop. One glance told him that. Above the door flapped an iron sign with the words THE GATEWAY ANTIQUE SHOP--OPEN FROM MIDNIGHT TO DAWN. Strange business hours, thought Johnny, but then these antique dealers were queer birds. Johnny decided he would go in. Maybe the guy was lonesome and would let him get warm. Maybe--maybe he might even have a bottle.

Johnny lifted the latch and stepped inside. Yes, it was warm. He breathed the musty air gratefully.

"Good evening, Sir," a soft, well modulated voice spoke. Johnny saw a wispish figure of a man not more than 5 feet tall smiling at him from across a counter. The man was bald and had a small moustache that was white, and blue eyes that sparkled with friendliness. Johnny liked him.

"You are just in time," he said, "I wondered who would be my customer tonight. My name's Smith--one of the many Smiths," the little man rattled on, with a humorous twinkle in his eyes.

"Glad to meet you, my name's Johnny Harrison," Johnny said aloud, thinking to himself that Smith--or whatever his name might be--was going to be mighty disappointed if he thought he was a customer. The only antiques Johnny was interested in were in cellars and were covered with cobwebs.

Johnny was aware of the insistent ticking of a hugely towering Grandfather's clock in the rear of the shop. It punctuated their words with its dull thuds, marking the seconds.

Evidently Mr. Smith was aware of it, too, for he said, "The hour is passing swiftly, we had better get on with business."

"Look," said Johnny, stalling for time, "don't you keep very peculiar business hours--opening your shop at midnight and closing it at dawn?"

"Not at all, not at all," replied Mr. Smith. "That gives me exactly six hours and they are by far the best hours--the hours that are most suitable for my business. Now, if you will come with me." Johnny sighed. What was the use? "Mr. Smith," he said, "I'm not a customer. I haven't any money." The old guy must be a little crazy not to see these things, Johnny thought. Anyone could look at him and tell he was just a stumblebum--certainly not a purchaser of expensive antiques. "I'm not interested in money," Mr. Smith replied surprisingly in his soft, impassive voice. "And you are my customer, else you would not have come into my shop."

The little man took Johnny's arm and led him farther into the shop, behind the counter. He touched an electric switch and Johnny could see that the shop was filled with ancient lamps--myriads of them all shedding mellow beautiful lights of rich and lambent hues. In the middle of this array of what even Johnny recognized as priceless antique lamps, stood a huge old fashioned upholstered chair and a table loaded with books.

"You will sit down," Mr. Smith was urging, "and make yourself comfortable in the chair. You will find the books to your taste, I am sure."

Incredulously Johnny slumped into the soft warm depths of the great chair. He gasped, unable to frame a question that would express his bewilderment.

The little man spoke with quiet assurance as though these happenings were the most normal in the world. "The first two hours from midnight until 2 o'clock are the lamp-light hours. They are quite naturally given over to the pleasures of relaxation and reading, by lamplight. You will enjoy yourself for these two hours and then we will pass on to the next hour. Until then I will leave you."

With that Mr. Smith vanished--went out as might the light of one of his lamps.

He must have stepped through a doorway or down a stairway, reasoned Johnny. Oh, well, this certainly was better than being out in the cold. He hoped no one else came in the shop. And then he looked at the books on the table beside his chair. It couldn't be! But they were--all the books that he had read and loved as a child! They were all there--"At the Back of the North Wind," "The Princess and the Goblin," "The Wind Boy," "The Wizard of Oz," "The Wind in the Willows," Poe's Poems and Stories, Stevenson's "A Child's Garden of Verses." Johnny's eyes misted over as he stared at the well-loved volumes. The core of childhood that remains in all humans, no matter how many their years, swelled and throbbed. The years dropped from Johnny like unclean garments. He began reading. He roamed the lonely sea shore with ghostly Annabel Lee. He traveled the night world in the wondrous hair of North Wind. He ventured into goblin haunted mines with little Princess Irene. In the company of the purple-winged Wind Boy, he sprang gladly into that clear land which hovers just over earth. He wandered with Dorothy down the yellow brick road to the marvelous Emerald City of Oz.

And all the time, remote, distant in his thoughts, the clock ticked, dully, relentlessly. It didn't occur to Johnny to wonder that he was no longer hungry--nor thirsty. Mr. Smith was standing beside him. Johnny looked up. "It is two o'clock," the old man announced gently. "I see you have enjoyed the two hours of lamplight."

Johnny started to speak but his jaw fell in amazement. Where were the lamps? Where was the chair and the books? They were gone. In their place was a huge banquet table. Places were set for two. Even Johnny with no knowledge of antiques could see that the table, its china, silver and linen service were worth a King's ransom. But that scarcely impressed him. It was the food that set his mouth watering and his eyes bulging. All at once he was again so hungry and so thirsty that he forgot his wonder at this apparition of the banquet table.

Calmly Mr. Smith was seating himself in one of the high-backed antique chairs, motioning for Johnny to occupy the other.

Beyond astonishment or questions Johnny sat down.

"Two to three--this is the hour of banqueting," stated Mr. Smith, as if speaking by rote, as he filled a bowl with thick green split pea soup from an ancient silver tureen and handed it to Johnny. The soup, indeed all the food that he ate during that enchanted hour, was the most delicious Johnny had ever tasted. There was breast of guinea hen, succulent roast pheasant, oysters that set the ocean rolling in his ears as he ate them, roasts of beef and tender ham, all accompanied by exquisitely prepared vegetables, salads and greens, breads, rolls, ending with marvelous cakes and pies. And with it all, a variety of wines from age-musty bottles, the exact vintage and flavor to complement each service of food. And as the wines were only the complement of the foods, they produced no sense of intoxication, only a warm glow of well being.

Just as Johnny was beginning to feel that he could eat no more, Mr. Smith urged, "We just have time for our coffee and brandy. Only a few more minutes of the hour remain." So the two drank their rich, brown, mellow flavored coffee and sipped their sweet liqueur.

Johnny sighed with contentment. Now it was time to ask questions. He was filled with assurance and well being. The old man was an expert magician--a trickster of the first water and he evidently was amusing himself by displaying his legerdemain to Johnny.

Well, Johnny didn't mind. But he did want some explanations. He was about to speak when the huge old Grandfather's clock struck three. Johnny blinked. Gone was the banquet table, gone its costly burden and gone the two chairs. What had come in their place made Johnny forget his questions. He was in a mellow old Colonial living room. Opposite him a fire blazed in a great hearth. Before the fire were drawn two great old oaken chairs. Their backs were to him, but Johnny could see that one of them was occupied by a woman. Slowly, Johnny crossed the deeply polished old floors to the fireplace. The woman in the chair was--a girl.

"From three to four," Mr. Smith was speaking imperturbably, "is the hour of companionship and memories. I leave you now to your company and memories."

Johnny hesitated, but already Mr. Smith had vanished as incredibly as before. The girl in the chair smiled at Johnny. A basket of embroidery work rested on her lap. In soft accents she invited him to occupy the great chair next hers. Johnny seated himself and stared. Slowly, oh so slowly, he was remembering. This ancient room, this lovely young girl--somehow, someplace he had known them long, long ago. And then suddenly the gates opened and he was carried along on a flood of memory. She had been his High School sweetheart--simple, naive and wholesome. Through many a winter evening she and Johnny had sat just as they were now in this room, reading and helping each other with their home work. Johnny recalled with a pang how he had looked upon her as rather dull and uninteresting. He had left her, looking for gaudier charms. Now he was awestruck by the girlish simplicity and sweetness of her. What they talked about now, he scarcely knew. Their words were muted with memories, echoing from distant years. It wasn't long though until Johnny had clasped her slim hands in his and their eyes were bright with a friendship made of a special kind of understanding and beauty. The girl's eyes were china blue, and wide, her hair the most gossamer of gold and her figure at that lovely state of development that just presages the blossoming into womanhood.

In what seemed far less than an hour, the Grandfather's clock struck 4. Johnny was not surprised now--but he was regretful. The girl and all the room was gone. Now was the time for Johnny to demand an explanation of Mr. Smith. He wanted to know who the girl was and where he might find her.

Mr. Smith was standing at his side. Before Johnny could speak he pointed and said softly, "Four to five is the hour of love." And he was gone.

This couldn't be. The old man was carrying his tricks too far. Where the girl and her divan had been, stood an ancient, antique bed with a canopy and drapes drawn. Beside the bed was a soft night light. Johnny approached the bed quietly and stared through the fine, thin drapes. He could discern the sleeping figure of a woman, beautiful beyond words, with long black hair trailed over her pillow and her round breasts lifting and falling as she breathed. Something seemed to tell Johnny that she was waiting--waiting to be awakened with a kiss--a sleeping beauty--and he was Prince Charming. Johnny's blood raced through his veins. His breathing was deep and fast. He slipped from his clothes and parted the draperies of the bed.

There was a faint music, deep, passionate and soul stirring. It throbbed and thrummed through Johnny's brain and coursed through his body. He moved to its rhythm. The woman heard it too. They were two dancers, superbly skilled and matched.

The music had stopped, Johnny felt that he was rising from the depths of dark, cool waters that laved his flesh and filled his whole body and being with a sense of ecstasy. The waters clung to him, caressed his skin and eddied about him fondly.

And then he was floating on the surface. Somewhere a clock was striking--one--two--three--four--five. Johnny opened his eyes. Gone was the chamber and the secret, canopied bed. He was lying on a narrow cot with a single woolen blanket covering his body. His clothing lay in a heap on the floor beside the cot. All was darkness and gloom about him. Mr. Smith was standing by the cot. He was saying, "And this is the last of my six business hours--the hour before the dawn--the darkest of all hours--the hour of sleep." As the little man pronounced the word sleep, Johnny was filled with an overpowering weariness, it closed down over him like a vast cloud. His eyes were shut and his last conscious thought was that if he could but open them he would not see Mr. Smith. There was no fighting this weariness, it was too overpowering, too all mastering. Johnny didn't want to fight. He was so tired--so desperately tired. He sighed and welcomed the hour of Sleep.

* * *

It was shortly after six o'clock and the first dirty grey of dawn was showing reluctantly through the night shadows of the tenement section, when the cop on the beat saw it in the vacant lot. It was the nude body of a man. Beside him was a heap of worn clothing. The cop cursed. The bum must have frozen himself on purpose The snow had stopped just after midnight and the mercury had plummeted to ten below zero. It was that now. The cop shivered in his great coat. The guy must have undressed and lay down on that heap of junk. And just gone off to sleep--death. The cop turned to call an ambulance.

He didn't notice that the pile of junk consisted of a battered old lamp, the skeleton of a cheap upholstered chair, an old table with one leg missing, a few torn and ragged copies of children's books, some broken dishes and bent tinware, a battered part of an ancient sofa, shreds of a woman's dress, a few ice stiff filaments of what had once been a woman's negligee, and the springless frame of an old cot.

Nor did he notice that Johnny slept in deep peace; there was a smile, not frozen in his face, but there of its own right.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 13, 1917.

Red-Ripe Puzzles -- Nothing a Guess

Mr. G. Ography and the Forgetful Poet have gotten their heads together and these surprising verses are the result. They are very proud of their puzzle and assure me that it is MORE than a masterpiece. Well, well, we shall not differ with them; indeed, we shall say it is two masterpieces in one. Mr. G. Ography says that the blanks are to be filled in with cities, and though he has not put them in order, one is in West Virginia, one in Germany, one in France, one in Alabama, one in Massachusetts, one in Sweden and one in Italy.

A Poem Concerning John

One day while John to Dovertown
Lightheartedly was ____,
An auto _____ ran him down.
Poor John lay dazed, yet feeling
A pain in one arm as they
Picked him up he had to moan,v Whereat the ladies generously
Revived him with ____.

At the hospital they set his arm
And put it in a cast,
A plaster ____ one. I hope
He'll get well very fast,
For he has several new toy boats
And wants to go and ____.
Besides there's none to call the cows,
His poor dad has to trail 'em.
For from the hillside every night
John drives the live ____,
And now they're missing him, I guess,
For far and wide they ____.

The answer to last week's puzzle were cowslip, snowdrops, orchid, crocus, dogwood, four o'clock and daisy. Hamor Michener is again president of the Puzzle Club. Send in your answers to Mr. G. Ography, care of the Boys' and Girls' Department, or in care of Miss R. P. Thompson. There will be two prizes for the two correct and most neatly written lists this week.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2003 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 1, 2003


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of Kabumpo in Oz, "The Dragon of Pumperdink", King Kojo, etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 24, 1917.

Once upon a time, in a dear little city called Tippytown, lived a dear little princess, just about as big as a gillyflower, and all of her subjects thought that exactly the right height for a princess to be--and I do myself. Not very many people lived in the city of Tippytown; indeed, there were but six houses in all. In one lived Mr. Timothy Mouse and in one lived Mr. Tom Frog and in another lived Jerry Dog and in another Captain Cat and in still another lived Commodore Duck and in the last house lived a wood elf--that is, once in a while he stayed there when he was not away off in the forest.

As you can imagine, a town with such delightful inhabitants could not help being a happy one, and they all got along most comfortably till it happened. You can almost guess what happened, and I need hardly tell you that it had to do with marrying, for whoever heard of a princess without hearing in the next breath of all the folks who are determined to marry her?

Mr. Timothy Mouse decided first, and hastened off to break the news to Mr. Tom Frog. "Congratulate me, Tommy," said he, "for I am quite determined to marry our princess." Poor Tommy Frog swallowed several times and rolled his eyes upward, then all at once he gave a little hop. "Have you asked her?" he gulped anxiously. Timothy twinkled his whiskers and allowed that he had not yet, at which Tim gave a sigh of relief and said he'd just go along, too, for he also was minded to wed, They had not gone far before they met Jerry and no sooner had he heard the news than he fell in behind them, for he was quite sure that none of thrm could make the princess so happy as he could. Captain Cat, seeing the procession, held up his paw and upon learning the nature of their errand likewise expressed himself as being deeply in love with the little princess, while Commodore Duck came waddling after in a great state of mind to think that the others had dared to do what he himself had done--namely, to fall in love. So they went, creeping and hopping and stepping and waddling, to the dear little palace, each quite sure she would choose himself.

The little princess was swinging in a hammock of woven grass fastened to two tiger lily stalks, and she sat up pretty straight, I can tell you, when each of the five had asked her to marry him. "How shall I decide?" puzzled the poor little princess, "and where, oh, where is the little wood elf?" But she let nothing of this appear in her face, and clicking her tiny little heels together, declared she would marry the one who paid her the fairest compliment.

"Ah!" cried the frog, falling on one knee, "you are as beautiful as mud!"

"Mud!" echoed the little Princess dismally. "How horrid!"

"You are as toothsome as a bone!" cried the dog, edging closer. The princess shivered and for the first time noticed how sharp Jerry dog's teeth were. "Nay, she is as lovely as a lake!" quacked Commodore Duck, flapping his wings; but Captain Cat hissed scornfully, declaring her as "Rich as a saucer of cream!" "Sharp as stale cheese!" squeaked Timothy, and they all began screeching their compliments louder and louder, till the little princess was obliged to hold her ears. And just then along hurried the bright little wood elf. He seemed to know just what was going on. (I think he was listening.) "Fair as the little star shining yonder over the purple hills!" whispered the little fellow in her ear.

The princess thought of the mud and the bone and the big lake, of the saucer of cream and the stale cheese. THEN she looked at the little star shining so very faintly far off above them all and she put her hand in the hand of the wood elf and away they scampered to the deep, dark forest, to live happily ever afterward in the heart of a tree. And to this day the mouse and the frog and the duck and the dog and the cat cannot tell why she did not marry them. But I know--do not you? They were thinking--not of what she liked best--and their compliments were selfish. The wood elf, who had often seen the little princess gazing off up in the sky, guessed that she loved the stars better than anything else and trusted a little star to tell her his message, and you see it did!

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 6, 1917.

The Puzzle Corner

The Forgetful Poet has written a masterpiece. He says it is a masterpiece and it is impolite to contradict, so we'll say nothing. All the blanks are to be filled in by flowers. See how many of you can complete the dear fellow's poem.

A Few Flowery Phrases

I saw a ___ ___ in a field
While Sam was milking, and
Although 'twas spring, frost took a fling
And ___ ___ on the land.

Beside a stream a nanny goat
Grazed hungrily--and hid
Behind her in the underbrush
I saw her child ___!

The farmer put a scarecrow up,
Which frightened all of us,
But scared the blackbirds most of all
And made the old ___!

The ___ ___ bark at ___ o'clock
To waken up the lazy.
And who can guess the flowers here

Is certainly a ___!

[Answers next time.]

[Solution to last month's puzzle:

Delightful spring is here again,
The fruit tree blossoms fall.
And from on elm tree comes the
Robin's cheery spring time call!

The boys play baseball on the lot,
And from the hat rack swing
The hats and mitts and roller skates
That prove that it is spring.

Each maiden has a lovely hat
To swim the boys are going,
The careless find the newly painted
Fences most annoying!

I'm feeling awfully fit and trim
And ready for vacation
And send my love to all of you
The pride of this great nation!]

Copyright © 2003 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 1, 2003


By L. Frank Baum
Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Woggle-Bug Book, The Boy Fortune Hunters in the South Seas, etc.

An episode from the Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz comic page, February 19, 1905.
[This story takes place during the visit of a group of Oz characters to the United States of America.]

Mr. Jubb was a very small man, who was ashamed of his size, for Mrs. Jubb was so large that she seemed a giantess beside him, whenever they walked out together. Naturally, Mrs. Jubb was also ashamed of being so exceedingly big, and so it was that this otherwise happy couple were rendered constantly miserable by their disparity of size.

Therefore, Mr. Jubb went to the Wogglebug one day and said: "O, Wise and Considerate Insect! Will you not make me taller and my wife shorter, so that we will become properly mated?" And, after some thought, the Wogglebug replied: "It seems to me that your request is only reasonable. So, here in this roll you will find four lozenges that are quite pleasant to take. Eat the first lozenge, and you will begin to grow big. When you are big enough, then eat the second lozenge, which will cause you to stop growing. The other two are for your wife. When she eat the first she will begin to grow small, and when she is small enough to suit her fancy, she must eat the last lozenge, which will cause her to remain always just that size. Do you understand the directions?"

"Yes," returned the little man, "but how about my clothes? Will they grow with me?"

"To be sure," answered the Wogglebug; "that is one of the great merits of these magic lozenges."

"Thank you! Thank you very much, indeed!" cried the delighted Mr. Jubb, and he took the roll of lozenges and hastened home with them.

Now, the Jubbs had a little girl, named Eliza, who was taller than her father and shorter than her mother, and had a strange habit of getting into mischief.

While Mr. Jubb was explaining to his wife about the wonderful lozenges which the Wogglebug had given him, Eliza saw them lying upon the parlor table, and carried them away with her, thinking they were candy.

She ate the first lozenge as she walked down the lane back of her house, and before she realized what had happened she found she was tall enough to look over the high hedge beside the lane. This made her pause in surprise; but she continued to grow, and now could look right into the middle of a cherry tree. Indeed, it startled the child to find herself so big, and she began to be much alarmed as she realized she was still growing.

The tops of the houses were on a level with her chin by this time, and her feet had become so big that she stepped one foot over into the next street, to keep from getting crowded in the lane.

It was now that Mr. Jubb ran out of the house, crying: "Where's my lozenges? Where's Eliza?" But there was no need to ask the last question--for there stood Eliza--'most as big as a mountain, so that no one could fail to see her. She was crying, too, she was so frightened, and one of her teardrops splashed down upon poor Mr. Jubb's head and nearly drowned him, before he could scramble out of the pond it made.

"Eat another lozenge!" he screamed, knowing quite well what had caused Eliza to grow; but the girl'head was so high in the air that she could not hear him.

Still she grew--bigger and bigger every minute! All the village people were in the streets watching her, and Eliza was afraid of hurting them; for her left heel had already crowded a barn from its foundation and her right toes were spreading into Deacon Migg's orchard and breaking down the trees.

What lucky idea induced the girl to eat the next lozenge just then I do not know, but she did eat it--and stopped growing--which was certainly a fortunate thing.

Little Mr. Jubb, anxious and distressed, now tried to tell the child to eat another of the lozenges, knowing it would cause her to grow small again. But she could not hear him from her elevation, although he used a megaphone, and she was afraid to stoop lest she might lose her balance and fall upon the town--which would have caused terrible havoc. So her father out the hook-and-ladder company, and climbed up the dizzy height until he was close to the hand that hung down at her side. Then the girl took the little man carefully in her fingers and raised him up to her ear, where he at once shouted: "Eat the next lozenge--quick!"

Without hesitation she obeyed, and began to grow small as rapidly as she had grown big. She replaced her father upon the top round of the ladder, and he hurriedly descended to the ground, amidst the cheers of the spectators.

Smaller and smaller now grew Eliza, until she had to step her right foot back into the lane again. By and by she was no bigger than her mother, and finally she reached her former size--the size she had been before she fooled with the magic lozenges.

Then her father commanded her to eat the last of the lozenges, and she obeyed--to the great relief of her distressed and loving parents and the satisfaction of the crowd.

Of course, this ended Eliza's astonishing exhibition of magic, and afterward her father and mother were so glad to have their child restored to them that they agreed not to mourn over the loss of the lozenges, but to gladly remain the sizes that nature had made them, and be content with their lot.

And the Wogglebug said to himself: "I am often sorry for those poor mortals, but perhaps it is a fortunate thing that foolish and careless people do not understand the grave and important Secrets of Magic." 

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 22, 1917.

The Puzzle Corner

A surprising number of you guessed all the flowers in the Forgetful Poet's riddle bouquet. Here they are: Phlox, hollyhocks, marigold, rose and forget-me-not. He says he cannot refrain from writing poetry in the spring, that he just bubbles over with verses. Some of these sound as if they had bubbled over, and I hope you can find out what is the matter. Some of the words seem to be out of their lines, or something.

A Word on Spring

Delightful spring is here again,
The baseball blossoms fall.
And from on hat rack comes the
Robin's cheery spring time call!

The boys play fruit tree on the lot,
And from the elm tree swing
The hats and mitts and roller skates
That prove that it is spring.

Each maiden has a lovely swim
To hat the boys are going,
The careless find the newly painted
Fences most annoying!

I'm feeling awfully fit and trim
And ready for vacation
And send my love to all of you
The pride of this great nation!

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2003 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 1, 2003


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of Ojo of Oz, "King, King! Double King!", King Kojo, etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, July 29, 1917.

Once a beautiful girl named Mertha was sitting beside the road talking to a handsome shepherd named Cleon. Her bright curly head was very, very near his dark brown one and they were so interested (now, I wonder what they were saying?) that they never saw Grumblegrimkins, the crooked witch, coming down the road!

It was very hot and the old witch was tired and cross. She had been hunting all day for the copper-leafed clover, which she needed to make her nose straighter, and as she had not found it, was even more disagreeable than usual, which is saying a good bit, treasures!

"Plague take the sun!" she growled, limping along painfully. "Plague take the birds; can't you stop your screeching?" brandishing her cane at two orioles that perched on a low bush. "Plague take this road with no trees to shade one! Aha!" She had caught a glimpse of Mertha and Cleon. Now nothing enrages a witch so quickly as the sight of some one happy and handsome, and Grumblegrimkins was the baddest old witch imaginable. "Aha!" she croaked again and hobbling up to them as fast as she could, let out such a howl that they flew to opposite sides of the road with their hands over their ears! Up flew the witch's cane and, oh, my dears, when it came down again gone was Mertha and her yellow curls, gone was Cleon with his bright, handsome face, and in their places stood two tall, tall trees already sighing as if all the trouble in the world had fallen upon them, which, indeed, there had!

"Now, I've made of you something useful!" chuckled the old witch, settling down comfortably in their shade. "Though, I suppose, you'll not thank me for it!" she finished ill-naturedly. "Ho, ho! thanks - what is more scarce than thanks? Ho, ho! I'll have a little joke on you, my good-for-nothings; here you shall stand till some one has thanked you for your shade, and a hundred years it may be at the rate most thank-yous are delivered!" How the poor hears of Mertha and Cleon fluttered in their wooden prisons. "Till some one thanks us!" sighed Mertha. "A hundred years!" mourned Cleon and both shuddered as Grumblegrimkins shouldered her bundle of fagots and went scolding away!

One day followed another and many paused in the grateful shade of the stately trees, but though Mertha and Cleon begged mutely with their poor dumb branches for the one word of thanks that would set them free, each person thoughtlessly continued his journey. The birds twittered and sang and built their nests in the branches, but never one thought of thanking the trees that sheltered them; the wind went rustling gayly through the leaves at his game of hide-and-seek, but then, when did the wind ever thank any one?

Winter came and snow and icicles bowed down the trees with their cold heavy weight. Dumb with grief and despairing of release, Mertha and Cleon shivered in the raw winter twilights. "Were I but free how I would thank each living, growing thing in the world for its service!" sighed Mertha.

Summer came at last and again the two trees shone resplendent in their green foliage and many a man and many a maid sat happily at their feet resting in the shade, but summer passed and still the magic words remained unspoken.

But, oh! you mist not think Mertha and Cleon were prisoners forever. No - no, indeed. One find day in October a thief came whistling down the road, counting the gold pieces in his bag and singing at the top of his voice. But scarcely had he reached the two trees before the clatter of horse's hoofs came thumping from behind. Two leaps and he was high in the branches of the tree, which was Mertha. Up, up, up to the top and pressed close to the trunk trembled the thief, and Mertha trembled, too, for she was a gentle soul and hoped the thief would escape. Clatter, clump, clatter came the riders with never a look in passing the two trees and were soon lost to view in a cloud of dust.

Wiping his moist forehead, the thief stood upright and leaned weakly against the tree: "Thank you! Thank you, dear comrade. You saved my life1” Scarce had the words passed his lips before Mertha and he lay tumbled in the road. "And you saved mine!" cried Mertha, hugging the astonished rogue. Then telling him in a few words the story of their bewitchment, she hurried over to Cleon and thanked him for his shade. So they were restored to each other and the thief was so impressed by the story that he became honest upon the spot. Dear me, we must be careful; 'twould be quite awful to have some one waiting for a thank-you to release him from enchantment. And I guess to be sure we had better use as many as we can. I shall begin it, treasures. Thank you for listening to my story! 

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 15, 1917.

The Puzzle Corner

Mr. G. Ography has not returned from his Easter vacation, but he sent in the answers to last week's puzzles. Here they are: Florence, Thames River, Wales, Minnesota, Dresden, Nantucket, Iowa, Scotland, Yukon, Auberne, Toledo, Bull Run, Augusta, Kansas, Elizabeth. Hamor Michener says that in making a man Mr. G. Ography neglectd to state that he could find a leg in Leghorn, an arm in Armenia, a head from Moosehead, hair from Sahara, neck from Schenectady and a pore from Singapore.

The Forgetful Poet says that, while the poem below is not always grammatical, all the questions can be answered by flowers:

A Flower Poem

When we refer to sheep we
Always speak of them in ------!
Some lovely flowers rhyme with this,
The stately ------?
There is a story of King Midas
That is often told,
And of the daughter whom he loved,
Sweet little ------?
And when a man stands up there's
Just one thing to say, I s'pose,
And that is nothing more nor less
Than this, we say, "He ------!"
And now I say good-by to you,
Of whom I think a lot,
And saying it I hope that you
Will all ------?

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2003 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 1, 2003


By L. Frank Baum
Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Woggle-Bug Book, The Boy Fortune Hunters in Yucatan, etc.

Originally published in The Delineator, January 1905.

There are three parts to the Wilderness. One is the Outer Circle, where the sandy hills are broken by clumps of shrubbery, a few trees and huge jagged points of rock which jut from the earth. Here the smaller animals mostly dwell. The Middle Circle of the Wilderness has more trees, a few rivulets and many rocky chasms, rifts and pinnacles. Larger animals with peaceful natures prefer to wander in this section, where opportunities to hide themselves are many. It is in the Inner Circle -- the vast, overarching forest -- that the most dominant, ferocious species of wild beasts love to roam. Here are several lakes formed of clear spring water, which reflect the shadows of the trees from their placid depths. Here soft mosses cover all the earth, deadening stealthy footfalls, and brilliant vines and creepers cling to the branches of the ancient trees, or embrace their rugged limbs, or wander aimlessly amid the mosses. The Inner Circle is the paradise of wild animals. They fight one another for the privilege to live there, and only the strongest survive.

The animal called Man is unknown in the Wilderness.

Jaglon was born in the Outer Circle, within a lair dug between the roots of a dead tree that reared its naked trunk high into the air. When Jaglon was three days old his father and mother left him to hunt, and never returned. What happened to them is not known. The Wilderness is full of secret tragedies and unsolved mysteries.

Nao, the Tiger Fairy, speeding invisible over the sands, heard a soft, piteous whine and paused to look. It was a baby cub, Jaglon -- a ball of downy yellow striving to open his eyes and discover why he had been left alone.

Nao took charge of the cub, nursing and comforting it. Others of the Tiger Fairies assisted Nao. Jaglon throve wonderfully, and grew fat and strong.

After he became big enough to eat meat -- and that was when the purple stripes began to show dimly on his tawny fur -- the Tiger Fairies remained invisible to Jaglon, although they continued to watch over his fortunes.

Now he left the lair daily to hunt; and as he chanced to be the largest animal in this part of the Wilderness, he was ever successful in securing a dinner. His bearing became dignified and self-confident; his eyes were steadfast and intelligent; his form grew big and muscular.

Jaglon did not know how much he owed the Tiger Fairies. Indeed, he knew nothing of the Fairies whatever, having been so young when they first came to nurse him. But the Fairies were much interested in the young cub. They were proud of their work; it pleased them to note his strength, his nobility of character, the calmness of judgment they had instilled into his nature.

Jaglon saw none of his fellow Tigers. He was alone in this Outer Circle, and supposed he was like all others of his race. The rare qualities the Fairies had bestowed upon him he thought -- if he thought of them at all he owed to his ancestors; nor did he consider them at all unusual.

One day, soon after the Tiger had reached his full development, the Bat-Witch flew upon the body of a hare that Jaglon had slain for dinner and proceeded to devour it. The young Tiger did not know the Bat-Witch, so he fearlessly raised his paw and sent the creature whirling a dozen yards away.

The Bat-Witch screamed and fluttered furiously.

"You shall repent that blow!" she cried; "you shall repent it! You shall repent it!"

Jaglon never looked at her nor answered. He seized the hare in his jaws and stalked majestically to his lair.

The Bat-Witch was terribly incensed, and plotted revenge upon Jaglon. She knew him to be guarded by the Fairies, so she could only injure him in case he committed some wrong, or broke the Laws of the Wilderness, or was guilty of cowardice. The Bat-Witch had never known a Royal Tiger that at some time in his life had not done one of these things; so she watched Jaglon thereafter, and set traps to tempt him to wrongdoing, hoping thus to get him into her power.

The Royal Tiger was too big to inhabit the Outer Circle. He realized that, and the knowledge made him restless. From the small, insignificant animals around him he heard tales of the Middle Circle, where wolves, boars, jaguars and such creatures hid and warred with one another; and of the great Inner Circle, where resided the mighty Lion, King of Beasts, with scores of great and powerful creatures moving around him and enjoying this, the most pleasant and glorious section of the Wilderness.

"But there are no Tigers there," added a chattering Lynx one day, as he glanced maliciously toward the spot where Jaglon crouched. "The Lions drove them from the Inner Circle long ago, and they dare not return."

This mischievous speech set Jagion thinking. What! the Royal Tigers dared not return to the Inner Circle because some creatures called Lions had driven them out? What nonsense! He, Jaglon, was a Royal Tiger. And surely he dared enter the Inner Circle and face the King of Beasts. Why not?

He arose, stretched himself, and set out. No preparation was required. Stepping over the sands, skirting the bushes, leaping the bare, riven rocks, Jaglon came to the Middle Circle and entered it.

The Bat-Witch was watching, and it filled her cruel heart with joy to see the hated one so calmly placing himself in danger. Now, indeed, was her opportunity.

Fearlessly Jaglon penetrated the Middle Circle. It was vast in extent and strange to him. But time mattered nothing, and the way was straight ahead. So he was patient.

After a time he became hungry, and watched for prey: but here the animals are wary. Not unnoticed was the great form of the Royal Tiger stalking through the domain, and those animals that are lawful prey to Tigers took good care to keep out of Jaglon's way.

Presently he came upon a Leopard which held a pheasant between its paws, crouching above the prey as if afraid of being robbed.

Jaglon looked at the pheasant longingly. But he said:

"Fear nothing, friend. It is your food, not mine. I am no thief."

And on he marched with head erect.

The Bat-Witch, concealed in a bush, uttered a croak of disappointment.

Soon afterward Jaglon discovered a fox caught fast in a cleft of broken sapling, which had gripped the creature's bushy tail and made it prisoner.

Now, the Fox is lawful prey of the Royal Tiger; but Jaglon was affected by the despairing look in the entrapped animal's eyes, and would not kill it. With his muscular paw he bent back the sapling and released the Fox.

"Go!" said he; "your misfortune has saved you. But do not venture near me again while I am hungry. It is life against life, remember."

The Fox had already darted away toward safety; but the Bat-Witch, hidden behind a fallen tree-trunk, fluttered its skinny wings in helpless rage.

Before long night began to fall, and Jaglon sought a lair. The country was strange and lairs were few or hidden secretly.

The Tiger became impatient. He did not like the dew which now fell upon his sleek, well-tended coat of fur. But now he discovered an opening in a rock -- a snug, ample cavern that would suit him admirably. As he sought to enter a growl fell upon his ears and made him pause. His searching eyes discovered a small brown Bear curled in a far corner of the lair.

"Peace," said Jaglon; "I seek shelter."

"Seek it elsewhere!" grumbled the Bear. "I am here first. The cavern is mine."

"Surely there is room for us both," returned Jaglon, protesting, but in gentle tones. "The dew is wetting me. And I am a stranger. To-morrow I resume my journey."

"Keep out! " cried the Bear, menacingly. "You are a Tiger -- an outcast. I cannot trust you. Keep out -- or fight!"

Now, this was a silly speech, as well as unfriendly. Jaglon could have killed the Bear with one blow of his paw. But the Law of the Wilderness gave the cavern to its first occupant. The brown Bear was within his rights. The Tiger sighed and withdrew into the night air.

"Coward! Coward! Coward!" shrieked the Bat-Witch from a near-by tree. But even this taunt could not influence Jaglon to do wrong.

He did not know it was the Bat-Witch, seeking his destruction. But he knew he was not a coward; so he quietly sought shelter by creeping under a heavily leaved bush.

"Coward! Coward!" repeated the Witch, striving to arouse his anger; and from many a cave or hollow tree the slyly hidden creatures of the Middle Circle took up the cry and passed it from one to the other.

"Coward! Coward!"

But Jaglon never moved. Crouched beneath the frail shelter of the bush, he closed his eyes, laid his head upon his outstretched forelegs, and went to sleep.

The Tiger Fairies were greatly pleased with Jaglon. They had watched the efforts of the Bat-Witch to tempt him and rejoiced in his proud refusal to do wrong. Therefore Nao came to the sleeping Tiger and touched his shoulder lightly with her invisible paw.

Instantly Jaglon awoke, to find himself reclining upon soft mosses in a splendid cavern. Set in the arched roof were points of light that resembled stars, and their silver rays flooded the cavern and illumined it brightly as day. Upon a slab of polished jade were dainty morsels of the foods Tigers love best, and beside it a clear spring of water.

Jaglon was amazed. He looked about him hesitating and undecided, fearing that in his sleep he had wandered to the lair of some mighty King of his race. But a soft voice reassured him: "Eat, drink, sleep! Content thyself, Jaglon. The Fairies are pleased with you."

Jaglon ate; he drank; he reclined upon the mosses to sleep. From many animals he had heard tales of Fairies; for among beasts each race has its Fairyland. That the Tiger Fairies had favored him was wonderful; but he felt as little conceit as he did fear. Gratefully he accepted the comforts provided, and demanded no explanations. While in that drowsy state betwixt sleep and wakefulness he heard again the gentle voice:

"You are reserved for a mighty destiny, O Jaglon! In time of trial be brave, be noble, be forgiving. So shall you prove the champion of your race, now long outlawed and discredited. So shall you prove worthy the confidence of those who reared you and now guide your steps."

Jaglon had raised his head to listen.

"I will be worthy -- or die!" he answered.

And then he slept.

When the day broke Jaglon crept from the bush and stretched his huge form. The brilliant cavern, with its dainty food, its cool spring and its mossy couch had vanished; but the Tiger never doubted he had enjoyed its comforts. Nor were the words of the invisible Fairies forgotten. Jaglon repeated them to himself as he resumed his journey, and pondered them.

He now plunged into the mighty forests of the Inner Circle -- that favored place whence his race had been driven years before he was born. Whether or not the Royal Tigers had deserved their exile Jaglon did not know. But he would himself inhabit this Inner Circle, unless mastered by one more powerful. Such an animal there might be; he would soon know.

He met a group of Bisons, headed by their patriarch. The younger ones trembled, but the old one advanced to warn the intruder.

"Here is no place for Tigers. Begone!" said he.

Jaglon walked on, treading softly.

A Grizzly Bear emerged from a jungle of ferns and brush and looked at him with surprise.

"This is the Inner Circle," he announced, gravely. "Do you not know your race is outcast? Return, or it will be too late."

"It is yet too soon," said Jaglon, quietly, and strode on.

An immense form loomed up before him, showing dark against the green foliage. It was a mother Elephant, suckling her calf. The little one gave a start and hid beneath its mother's protecting trunk.

"Dear me!" exclaimed the Elephant, winking her small black eyes. "It's a Royal Tiger, and in the Lion's domain! Do you prize life so little, bold stranger?"

Jaglon paused. He had heard of Elephants, and that they were noted for wisdom.

"Why was my race outcast?" he asked.

The Elephant looked at him curiously, and replied.

"They were cruel, and treacherous, and overbearing: I knew them well, those dreadful ancestors of yours. And none in the Inner Circle was better pleased than I when the Lions conquered them and made one of their own race King."

"That was long ago," said Jaglon, thoughtfully. "Are the Lions never cruel, or overbearing, or treacherous?"

"Not treacherous," was the reply: "but noble natures are often cruel, and the Lion is the most noble of all beasts ever created."

"I do not think I am treacherous," said the Tiger, musingly. "And if the Lion excels me in other things, It must be because he is mightier than I, and entitled to rule. Bur that will be determined when we meet."

"What! You will dare to face the King! You, whose ancestors were driven from the Inner Circle!" cried the Elephant, an amaze. "Come, listen to my advice. I admire you for your gentleness, combined with your strength of body. Leave the forest while you may, and find contentment elsewhere. Our old King, who might have suffered your presence in his domain, is dead; and in his place rules Avok, his brother, whose stern and proud nature will brook no intrusion or interference. Leave us, I beg you, before you win the resentment of the powerful Avok!"

"Your words are kind, if ill chosen," answered Jaglon, rising from where he crouched. "I thank you for your friendliness, and will now bid you a good-morning!" And, more proudly than before, he advanced into the forest.

The Elephant looked after him thoughtfully.

"It will be a terrible encounter when the Royal Tiger meets Avok the King!" said she. "I must pass the word around the forest, that all may be present to witness it."

Jaglon had been simply reared. He did not know fear. He had never met a master. The information concerning the new King of the Lions merely strengthened his determination to demand a place among the great beasts of the Inner Circle.

Standing upon a rocky knoll, a Lion perceived Jaglon approaching from afar and went to tell the news to King Avok.

The monarch paced up and down before his lair a rocky cavern close to the shore of a beautiful lake. Important matters were engaging his attention, and he had sent to summon all the Lions of the forest to a council. So he but gave a growl of contempt when he heard of the presence of the Outcast in his kingdom, and turned his mind to more pressing business.

One by one the Lions that had been summoned arrived at the lake and ranged themselves in a half circle about the entrance to the cavern. Other beasts, also, warned by the Elephant, began to gather around; and these took positions behind the group of grave and dignified Lions. There were Bears, Bisons, Moose, Zebras, Hippopotami from the lake, Unicorns, Elephants and a few Rhinoceri. In the near-by trees squatted giant Apes; and two or three monstrous serpents lay coiled upon the rocks, their watchful eyes turned curiously upon the gathered denizens of the forest.

Then appeared from the cavern's mouth the King, stalking proudly to a position in front of the silent throng of animals.

Avok was of enormous size, although his body was lean and slender back of his powerful shoulders. His mane was long and shaggy and his brow was wrinkled by a constant frown. He squatted upon his haunches and addressed the council.

"When my brother, the King, died," began Avok, "he left three cubs, which I find are of little intelligence and scarcely fit to live. Now, as you all know, there is a foolish Law of the Wilderness which says the eldest male cub of the King shall succeed him, when full grown, and rule in his place. I propose to change this Law, and declare that my own cub shall be King after I am gone -- and not the cub of my dead brother. Do you approve this?"

The Lions cast uneasy glances at one another, yet remained silent. From the group of other animals, however, arose a growl of protest.

The King raised himself to his full height and glared around angrily.

"Let any who dares defy me step forward!" he cried, threateningly. But none advanced.

One aged Lion made bold to answer Avok.

"The Law of the Wilderness cannot be changed," he said, slowly, "even by the King. Your brother's cubs have royal blood in their veins. The eldest must rule in your place when full grown. Only until then are you King." And to this speech came a roar of assent.

Avok stalked up and down in a fury, shaking his mane and lashing the ground with his tail.

"Then my brother's cub shall never become full grown!" he declared, finally; "for I will drown the miserable beast in the water of the lake, and I dare anyone present to deny me that right!"

"I deny it," replied a quiet voice; and Jaglon advanced from the rear of the startled group and placed himself opposite the King.

Shoulder to shoulder he stood as high as the great Avok himself; but under his glossy skin, as he moved, showed muscles more powerful than any Lion present could boast.

At first glance the King knew his antagonist a terrible one; and all the beasts, of whatever degree, silently acknowledged the Royal Tiger a fit champion to uphold the Law of the Wilderness.

"The Outcast!" they whispered one to another; but the tone was that of sympathy and admiration, rather than derision.

"The Outcast!" repeated the King, with scorn. "True, I cannot fight an Outcast."

"You must," returned Jaglon, speaking very quietly. "It was your race that drove my ancestors from the Inner Circle, where they had ruled many years. But now I come to declare myself King of Beasts and Master of the Wilderness. I am a Royal Tiger. I am King!"

Avok ruffled his mane and glared into Jagion's eyes. They were clear and steadfast.

"Your people were guilty of cruelty!" said the Lion.

"You wish to drown three helpless cubs," replied Jaglon.

"Your people were overbearing!" declared Avok.

"I am willing to abide by the Law; and in my domain every beast shall find their King a just King," said the other.

"Your race is treacherous!" cried the lion, furiously.

"You are yourself treacherous toward your dead brother," retorted Jaglon. Then, amid the silence that followed, "You must fight," he repeated.

"You must fight! You must fight!" exclaimed the other animals, eagerly; and not even the Lions offered a word of dissent.

Avok was brave enough. A moment he crouched, grim and menacing. Then, like a thunderbolt, he launched his immense body toward the waiting foe.

Jaglon's calm eyes had never left those of the Lion. He saw Avok's spring, and his own tense muscles responded promptly to his will. Tiger and Lion met in mid-air, with a shock so terrible that it startled even the cold and critical spectators. Avok was overborne, and fell to the ground with Jaglon above him, both struggling fiercely for the mastery. The Lion's claws, each point imbedded in his enemy's breast, shot forward so powerfully that the Tiger lost his hold and was hurled a dozen yards away.

But before Avok could regain his feet Jaglon had sprung again, landing full upon the gigantic head of his opponent, his claws tearing through hair and flesh, his jaws striving to reach the Lion's throat below the protection of the thick and matted mane.

Suddenly Jaglon felt the huge form of his enemy tremble violently; a murmur of horror from the other animals warned him that something strange had happened, and releasing his hold he leaped lightly aside and turned his gaze upon Avok.

The Lion, struggling to his feet, bounded here and there in an aimless fashion, roaring fiercely and striking out wildly with his terrible paws. And, although Jaglon was crouching silently near him, he seemed not to know which way to seek his foe.

An awed silence fell upon the assemblage. Every animal was gazing as if fascinated upon the sightless Monster, who, maddened by pain and anger, seemed unable to realize his own helpless condition.

But at last the truth broke upon him. He reared frantically upward, pawed at the air, and then crouched and made a mighty spring. His struggles had brought him near to the edge of the lake, and his body now shot through the air and fell with a great splash far out into the water.

Instantly the animals crowded to the shore and watched intently the spot where Avok had disappeared. The circling ripples of water spread slowly outward until they reached the furthest shores. A dread silence brooded over the lake. Avok was not seen again.

Throughout the Wilderness the story of the great fight is still told by mothers to their wondering children. To be as fierce, as brave, as strong and wise as King Jaglon, the Royal Tiger, is the highest ambition of every beast that roams the Inner Circle.

Yet, withal, Jaglon was patient in his strength, kind in his rule, and gentle toward those animals that were weaker or in distress.

And the Tiger Fairies were pleased that the cub they had protected and reared had won the admiration and respect of all the forest, and that his wisdom and might had redeemed his race from hatred and banishment. For as long as he lived Jaglon was, in truth, the King of Beasts.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 8, 1917.


The Puzzle Corner

Mr. G. Ography says that if he could find an Easter egg as big as the earth he would send it to you, but as he cannot, why, he'll just send you his love and best wishes to say nothing of a few riddles.

These sentences are all made out of places, cities, rivers and countries. Although not spelled correctly at all times, they sound like the places they represent. Now for our voyage of discovery:

Florence tames wales.
Minni sew-ta dress, den Nan tuck it.
I owe a Scot land.
You can au' burn.
To lead a bull-run.
Augusta can sass Elizabeth.

The countries suggested by a fan were China and Japan, Holland by a windmill, Italy by a gondola.

The Forgetful Poet appends hereto the things that he saw last week, i. e., a see-saw, a rolling pin, a scarecrow, cat-tails, Manx cat, baseball bat, snowball, guns, a citizen, and that's all. He says he hopes you will enjoy this little poem. I hope you will not only enjoy it, but be able to discover what he is talking about:

What Happened to Me

I bought myself an Easter suit,
'Twas very English--tweed,
A pair of spats and two new hats,
And all the thnigs I'd ------ !

With new shoes highly polished
And my rather sporty cane,
I sallied ------ and caught the gout
And WAS caught by the rain!

The tweed suit ------?
My new hat slunk,
And I came home
In sadness sunk!

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2003 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 1, 2003


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of The Wishing Horse of Oz, "The Artful Arab", King Kojo, etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, February 24, 1918.

Whereyouwill is a lovely Kingdom just around the corner from the Realm of Reasonableness and I might as well tell you right away that it was ruled by the delightfulest Princess in the world. What's that you say? There are not many Princesses in the world? Pshaw, pshaw, but there are, though, more Princesses than you have any idea of, indeed, yes!

If I close my eyes I can see that lovely Kingdom with its deep, green forests and winding roads, its red-roofed cottages and the Princess's Castle set high on Happy Hill Top.

The King of Reasonableness used to peer through a chink in the walls and mutter and shake his head. He said the Princess's subjects fiddled their time away; just the same he kept peeking over to see them at it!

Now Reasonableness was a dull, level country, very neat and prim, but with no cozy nooks or winding roads, or jolly crooked little paths. Everything was straight and orderly; even the trees were set in rows, and there wasn't a hill or a forest in the whole kingdom. "I can keep it all under my eye!" declared the knowing King of Reasonableness, and indeed it was like a checkerboard and the poor people were little better than checkers whom he ordered about. Things fixed so remarkably well, 'tis a wonder he was not satisfied, but satisfied he was not. Though he was really a kind-hearted fellow, he was so busy telling his subjects what to do that they were glad enough to be rid of him when their tasks were done, and as for talking to him, or calling upon him, it never entered their heads. "I guess," said he one evening to himself, "I guess I'm lonely!" And I guess that he was. At any rate he decided to fix things in his usual reasonable fashion. If a man were lonely, even though he be a King, the thing for him to do was to marry. "I shall marry!" said the King, and gave orders for the castle to be put in order for the Queen.

Now, with hardly a thought, he found himself turning his horse toward Whereyouwill, and the Princess, who just happened to glance out of the window, saw him galloping up to her castle door. "Too bad," she whispered to her looking glass, "that he is so handsome!" And what she meant by that I should like to know. Forgetting all about her dignity as Queen, and remembering only her duty as hostess, she tripped down the stairs to meet him, and before he could more than say how do you-- (he never did get in the do), she had called the fiddlers and the Lord High Mightinesses and ordered up a ball and a feast.

"This will all be changed when she is my wife!" murmured the King to himself, and resolved to ask for her hand at once. But there seemed never to be an opportunity and he rode away without accomplishing his errand. As for the Princess, she looked over the wall at the Kingdom of Reasonableness and then, with a big sigh, walked back to her castle.

The next day the King came again, and this time he enjoyed himself so much--learning a new court quadrille--that he forgot all about asking the mighty question till he reached the Kingdom of Reasonableness. It seemed very quiet and dull. "I'll be married long enough," though he to himself. "And I'll just enjoy visiting the Princess a while." You see he had decided that once he married the Princess he would turn the two Kingdoms into one and make hers as orderly as his own. Meanwhile the Princess was even more delightful than usual and all of her subjects were so kind and jolly, and so ready to talk to his serene Highness without bows or embarrassment, that the King of Reasonableness spent more time in Whereyouwill than he did at home.

And one day, when there just happened to be no one about, he asked the Princess to marry him and accompany him back to his Kingdom. The Princess looked very thoughtful, and said that if he would stay in her Kingdom she would marry him. "But--" the King looked astonished. "But it would never do to go on in this haphazard fashion without any rules or reasons--all the time--why the Kingdom would go to pieces!"

The Princess said it had always been like this, and that they were all happy, and that she didn't see any pieces, and she couldn't live where everything was straight and there were no forests to picnic in and people did things because they were told to and not because they wanted to. Then she looked through the wall at the Kingdom of Reasonableness and shook her head, at which the King was very much insulted and went galloping home.

It seemed duller than ever, and when he thought of the lovely little Princess he had to exert all of his reasonableness to keep from galloping right back again.

Things went on in this fashion for some time, then one day the Princess, who had come down to peek through in hopes of seeing the King, and the King, who had come for the same reason, looked straight into each other's eyes, and then each started to climb over the wall as fast as possible, so that instead of meeting, they changed sides.

"If you give up your Kingdom, I'll give up mine!" wept the little Princess, "but don't ever leave me again!" The King, however, had just had a sudden idea, "We'll build a castle in the middle, and live happily ever afterward!" laughed the little Princess. And they did.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 1, 1917.

The Puzzle Box

The Forgetful Poet still seems to be "seein' things at night," but judging from the lists coming in every week, you boys and girls are nearly as sharp-sighted as he is. See what you can make of this, then:

Discoveries of the Forgetful Poet

I saw a saw that wouldn't saw,
A pin that wouldn't pin,
A crow that couldn't crow,
More things than ever I'll begin
To tell you, dears and ducks, I saw
A tail, without a cat,
A cat without a tail and then
A bat that wouldn't bat,
A ball that wouldn't bounce, besides
A roll that wouldn't roll,
And arms without a man,
A man without arms, very droll!
And if you'll put your thinking specs
Upon your nose, you'll see
The saw that wouldn't saw
And all the things that tickled me.

Mr. G. Ography wants to know what two countries are suggested by a fan, what country by a windmill and what country by a gondola?

Last week's answers were: Flagstone, railroad frog or braid frog on coat, bark of a tree, fire dogs, 4 o'clock, goose, tailor's iron, pine needle, lady finger, buttercup, nuts used by carpenters, spelling bee, wall flower and the eye of a potato.

Among the list of good puzzle guessers we want to place the names of James Howell, Sallye Holman, Hamor Michener and Gertrude Douglas. Send in your answers to The Forgetful Poet, care of the Boys and Girls' Department.

[Answers next time. Please don't send answers in--there's no Boys and Girls' Department. This is merely a historical presentation of Ruth Plumly Thompson's writings.]

Copyright © 2003 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 1, 2003


By L. Frank Baum
Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Woggle-Bug Book, The Boy Fortune Hunters in the South Seas, etc.

Originally published May 5, 1901.


The Frost King came down to breakfast one morning in a merry mood.

"Do you know what day it is?" said he to his son Jack.

"No, your Majesty," answered Jack, who was busily eating fried icicles.

"It is my birthday," he said.

"Ah!" cried Jack, springing to his feet. "Then it is the Coldest Day of the Year."

"Exactly!" replied his father. "So to-day, my dear boy, you may mix with the Earth People and play your pranks upon them to your heart's content. Many exposed noses and ears will be ready for you to nip, and many toes and fingers to pinch; so you will easily manage to keep busy."

"I'll start at once!" exclaimed Jack; "for I do not wish to miss an hour of this merry day."


Said the little Prince of Thumbumbia: "I want to go out and play."

"It is extremely cold, your Highness," remonstrated the chief nurse, uneasily.

"That does not matter," answered the Prince. "I have furs. So I will go out of doors to play; and my cousin, the Lady Lindeva, will go with me."

"Our men-at-arms declare it is the Coldest Day of the Year," remarked the chief nurse; "and naughty Jack Frost will be abroad."

The Prince of Thumbumbia stamped his small foot.

"The furs!" he cried, imperiously.

So the chief nurse sighed and summoned her maids, to whom she gave orders to fetch the furs. The Prince and his dainty cousin, little Lady Lindeva, were wrapped from head to foot in soft, rich furs, so when the maids were through with them, only their eyes and the tips of their noses were exposed. Then a shivering guardsman opened the front door of the castle just wide enough for them to get through, and they joined their mittened hands and walked out into the big courtyard.

The sun shone brilliantly, but so intense was the cold that even the soldiers who guarded the walls had gone within their little turreted houses and none had dared brave the severe weather save the two self-willed children.

As they toddled across the stone pavement the sun cast dark shadows behind them, which clung close to the children's heels whether they went fast or slow.

The furs succeeded in keeping out the cold, but the Prince and Lady Lindeva found little to interest them in the courtyard, and began to realize the folly of venturing out.

Then merry Jack Frost came that way, and upon seeing the youngsters decided to pinch their ears. But these he found covered up. Next he thought he would nip their noses; but at the first attempt the little ones withdrew them into their furs. Jack Frost was really puzzled. He couldn't get at them anywhere.

Just at this time the prince and his cousin saw a snow-bird sitting upon the battlements and ran across the court to catch it. When they moved Jack Frost noticed the shadows following them, and a clever idea came into his head.

"I'll freeze the shadows!" he said to himself, with a laugh.

So, while the little ones stood still to watch the snow-bird, naughty Jack breathed softly upon the two shadows, which were holding hands exactly as the children did. Soon they became solid and rounded out into form, for the only reason shadows are so flat and helpless is because they are not solid. Being now frozen into shape they became greatly interested in themselves, and Jack Frost stopped long enough to put a mischievous notion into their heads.

"Let's run away," whispered the prince's shadow to that of the Lady Lindeva.

"All right; let's!" was the soft answer.

They glanced over their shoulders and then gave a look at the prince and his cousin, to whom they knew very well they belonged. But the children were intently watching the bird and had no thought for such trifling things as shadows.

Noting this, the two shadows slowly glided away, leaped the great wall with ease and ran in the direction of the Forest of Burzee. Jack Frost stood watching them as they moved swiftly over the snow, and he laughed joyously at the success of his stratagem.

The runaway shadows never stopped till they had reached the forest and gone some distance among the trees. Then, indeed, they paused to rest and recover their breaths; but each still held the other's hand and they kept close together.

Kahtah, the great tiger of Burzee, lay upon the limb of a tree and sleepily opened his eyes from time to time to look about him.

Suddenly he pricked up his ears and began moving his long tail from side to side.

"The Prince of Thumbumbia and the Lady Lindeva have come to the forest!" he growled, softly. "I can see their shadows, so the children must be just behind that clump of bushes. Surely it was my good luck that brought them here, for I am hungry today and they will do excellently for dinner."

Then he thrust his sharp claws from their sheaths, bared his big yellow teeth and gave a mighty spring that landed him exactly behind the clump of bushes where the children, according to their shadows, ought to have been.

But he struck the frozen ground and found no one there. And the shadows laughed at him.

"You were fooled that time, Kahtah!" they cried; and when the tiger turned upon them fiercely they ran away through the trees and left him.

Soon after they met with a ryl, which asked:

"Why have you run away from your owners?"

"For sport," replied the prince's shadow.

"And because we are tired with tagging after some one else," added the Lady Lindeva's shadow.

"Ah, I see," remarked the ryl, looking at them with a wise expression; "you are frozen solid now, and think you amount to something. But you don't. When the weather changes and you thaw out you will fade into the air and become lost forever. That will be bad. And the children will have no shadows ever after. That will be bad, too. Can't you see you are acting foolishly?"

The shadows hung their heads and looked ashamed.

"My advice to you," continued the ryl, "is to return to the castle as quickly as possible and join yourselves to the prince and the little girl as you were before. It is far better to tag after those high-born children than to become nothing at all. And in truth you are only shadows, who can not expect to become anything better, although you will grow bigger as your masters grow."

For a moment there was silence; then the Lady Lindeva's shadow whispered to her companion:

"The ryl is right. Let us return at once."

"Very well," replied the prince's shadow. "We have had a good run and been independent for once in our lives. But I do not care to fade into the air and become nothing at all!"

So they turned around and went back to the castle.


After the shadows had left them the little prince and his cousin decided it was too cold to remain out of doors, and the snow-bird had flown away; so they returned to the big entrance of the castle and the guard let them in. But scarcely had they reached the hall and allowed the maids to remove their furs, when a loud shout was heard and a cavalcade of horsemen rode up to the castle and dismounted in the courtyard. With them was a splendid carriage, drawn by four milk-white steeds.

The leader of these men, who were all noblemen and courtiers, entered the hall of the castle, and having bowed low before the prince he said:

"I am grieved to announce that his majesty, the king, has just died. His nearest of kin are yourself, prince, and your cousin, the Lady Lindeva. But since you are a boy, and she is a girl, we have decided to offer to you the rule of this mighty kingdom. If you will graciously ride with us to the city you shall be crowned before sunset." Then he kneeled before the prince and awaited his answer.

"I am sorry the king, my good uncle, is dead," said the boy. "But often I have thought I should like to be a king myself. So I thank you all and shall return with you to the city."

The chief nurse then replaced his soft furs and he walked out to enter the carriage which stood in waiting.

But when he stood in the bright sunshine one of the courtiers exclaimed:

"Why, the prince has no shadow!"

At this all eyes were turned upon the boy, and they saw that he alone of them all cast no shadow upon the pavement.

Silence then fell upon them, till one, more bold than the rest, said:

"It will never do to make him king; for when it is known he has no shadow the people will lose all respect for him and consider him less than a human."

"That is true," said another. "No one would obey a king so poor that he has no shadow."

"For this reason," declared the leader of the party, "we must make Lady Lindeva queen, and set her to reign over the kingdom in place of the unfortunate prince."

To this all were agreed, though many expressed regret. So the prince, who had been fully as much astonished at the loss of his shadow as any of the others, was led back into the castle and the Lady Lindeva brought forth in his stead.

But when the girl came into the sunshine the courtiers were shocked to discover that she had no more shadow than the prince. Whereupon they were puzzled how to act, and finally decided to return to the city and report the matter to Earl Highlough, who was chief man in all the kingdom.

When this great and wise statesman heard that neither the prince nor his cousin cast a shadow in the sunlight he refused to believe the report, and announced that he would himself go to the Castle of Thumbumbia and investigate the matter.

And while he was upon the way the runaway shadows stole back to the castle and sought out the boy and girl, resolving never to leave them again. The warmth of the room soon drew the frost from the shadows, and rendered them so limp and flat that they were really glad to stick close to the heels of their owners.

The Earl of Highlough presently arrived with a great train of courtiers and attendants, and at once requested the Prince of Thumbumbia to step out into the sunshine of the courtyard. This the prince did, feeling sadly the humiliation of having no shadow.

But, behold! no sooner came he into the sun than he cast a long, black shadow behind him; and the courtiers applauded his triumph, and with loud shouts hailed him as their king.


The records state that for many years the new king walked daily within the gardens of his palace in order to make sure he had not again lost his shadow. Even after he grew to manhood, and by wise rule gained the love and respect of his subjects, whenever he happened to walk out with the Lady Lindeva - now his queen - there were both accustomed to glance over their shoulders with anxious looks.

But the shadows, having learned wisdom from the ryl, never deserted them again, and Jack Frost, having new tricks to play, forgot all about the annoyance he had once caused His Royal Highness the King.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, March 25, 1917.

The Forgetful Poet's Puzzles

One of the boys wrote that the Forgetful Poet was not the only one who was a Balboa. He said that he himself was at sea a long time before he guessed those riddles the Forgetful Poet sent us last week. A good many of you sent in correct lists, and here is one of them:

Potato patch.
Ear of corn.
Elephant or tree trunk.
Lady's train.
Wing of a building.
Shoe trees or clothes tree.
Clothes horse.
Feet on a tape measure.
Shoe tongues.

Here is a verse he sent us this week, and it looks as if we all would have a long sea voyage.

A flag that didn't wave
I saw today, and then a frog
That neither croaked nor jumped,
Also a bark without a dog!
A dog without a bark, besides
A clock that wouldn't go;
A goose that never honks,
A needle never known to sew,
A finger that's not pointed,
A cup not used for tea,
A nut you really couldn't eat,
A bee that's not a bee,
A flower that would like to dance,
An eye that cannot see,
And now, my dears and ducks, perchance
You'll tell them all to me!

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2003 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.