Author of The Royal Book of Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 20, 1914.
In that country of lanterns and firecrackers, where little pigtailed boys and girls play at shuttlecock and kite flying from sun-up till sun-down, there once lived a mighty pigtailed Prince named Ti-fa. Like most mighty Princes, he was very fond of hunting, and one day as he and his silk-coated friends were riding in the craggy heights of the mountains near his father;s palace they came upon a wonderful fountain. It gushed from the heart of the rock and hurled its sparkling waters high in the air, then splintered them into a thousand diamond drops below. It was not alone the beauty of the fountain that caused Ti-fa to spur his horse forward. In its waters sported a company of graceful maidens. Oh, they were beautiful! But as the royal hunting party came up they fled in terror to the woods.
The Prince was greatly vexed, and, as is the custom of august Majesties when they are in a temper, began to scold and abuse his poor friends and ministers. They kowtowed and waved their arms about in great agitation, but one or more would certainly have lost his head, or his pigtail, at least, if something had not happened at that minute. A great eagle rose from the spot where the maidens had disappeared, and with a glittering parcel in his beak soared up, up and out of sight. The Prince hurried to the place, and there on the ground lay a tiny shoe. Oh, you never could believe how tiny it was, nor how studded with gems its silken tininess! He seized the dainty thing with a cry of joy and thrust it beneath his silk coat. On the way back to the palace he could think of naught else but the owner of the miniature boot. Who was she? Rich, surely, to possess so fine a shoe! Beautiful, certainly, to match so small a foot!
Hardly had the royal party reached the palace and hardly had the Prince seated himself upon the throne when the same eagle they had seen in the woods swept into the palace and, drooping low on his golden wings, dropped the mate of the little shoe into Ti-fa's lap. Now there was excitement I can tell you! It was very clear that all those fierce and strange creatures whom the Chinese call Gods had decreed that the lady of the silken shoes should wed Ti-fa. A proclamation was issued forthwith commanding her to appear in court on penalty of death.
Now, all the other ladies in the kingdom, dearly as they would have liked to try on the silken shoes, dared not venture in court, for if the shoes failed to go on 'twould be "Off with her head!" and who cared to risk that, pray! So it happened that Candida, the real owner of the dainty shoes, appeared as commanded, because she dared not do otherwise. The courtroom blazed with splendor and light as the little lady of the silken shoes entered. There was a gasp of wonder, then a vigorous wagging of pigtailed heads. The beauty of the little Chinese lady was so dazzling, so glorious, that in her radiant presence all else seemed mean and poor. Ti-fa led her to his own great throne and, kneeling, slipped on her dainty feet the tiny embroidered shoes. Then amid general rejoicing he declared her to be his wife. Flags and pennants flew from the turrets, lanterns blazed from the palace gardens, a weird and wonderful banquet was served in the ballroom, a banquet, girls and boys, to which I am glad we were not bidden. There were dried and salted earth worms, pigeon eggs and shark fins, pounded shrimps and dear only knows what else. However, these viands had no ill effects upon the beautiful Candida and her royal husband, and, as you have probably guessed, they lived happily ever after.
THE FORGETFUL POET
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, November 11, 1917
A Handful of Riddles
The Forgetful Poet was amazed when I showed him the pile of correct answers to his rhyming riddles. "Never saw anything like it!" he murmured, ruffling his hair. And neither did I. If you persist in guessing all of our riddles--why, as a punishment we shall demand that you make some yourselves.
The correct answers to last week's riddles are--swallows, a nut kernel which is inclosed in a shell, a knight, a bay horse and an oxheart cherry.
Tell me now: What vehicle is worn by a queen and carried by part of a book? and what garden implement is found in a fall fruit? And--
What other word for favor
Will name a pioneer--
While what we sing at Christmas time
Will give an author dear?
A nautical bird, too,
Will give you as plain
As can be a great Englishman
Not loved by Spain?
[Answers next time]
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