Saturday, December 1, 2007


By L. Frank Baum
Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Secret of the Lost Fortune, The Visitors from Oz, etc.

Originally published in American Fairy Tales, 1901.

One time a knook became tired of his beautiful life and longed for something new to do. The knooks have more wonderful powers than any other immortal folk - except, perhaps, the fairies and ryls. So one would suppose that a knook who might gain anything he desired by a simple wish could not be otherwise than happy and contented. But such was not the case with Popopo, the knook we are speaking of. He had lived thousands of years, and had enjoyed all the wonders he could think of. Yet life had become as tedious to him now as it might be to one who was unable to gratify a single wish.

Finally, by chance, Popopo thought of the earth people who dwell in cities, and so he resolved to visit them and see how they lived. This would surely be fine amusement, and serve to pass away many wearisome hours.

Therefore one morning, after a breakfast so dainty that you could scarcely imagine it, Popopo set out for the earth and at once was in the midst of a big city.

His own dwelling was so quiet and peaceful that the roaring noise of the town startled him. His nerves were so shocked that before he had looked around three minutes he decided to give up the adventure, and instantly returned home.

This satisfied for a time his desire to visit the earth cities, but soon the monotony of his existence again made him restless and gave him another thought. At night the people slept and the cities would be quiet. He would visit them at night.

So at the proper time Popopo transported himself in a jiffy to a great city, where he began wandering about the streets. Everyone was in bed. No wagons rattled along the pavements; no throngs of busy men shouted and halloaed. Even the policemen slumbered slyly and there happened to be no prowling thieves abroad.

His nerves being soothed by the stillness, Popopo began to enjoy himself. He entered many of the houses and examined their rooms with much curiosity. Locks and bolts make no difference to a knook, and he saw as well in darkness as in daylight.

After a time he strolled into the business portion of the city. Stores are unknown among the immortals, who have no need of money or of barter and exchange; so Popopo was greatly interested by the novel sight of so many collections of goods and merchandise.

During his wanderings he entered a millinery shop, and was surprised to see within a large glass case a great number of women's hats, each bering in one position or another a stuffed bird. Indeed, some of the most elaborate hats had two or three birds upon them.

Now knooks are the especial guardians of birds, and love them dearly. To see so many of his little friends shut up in a glass case annoyed and grieved Popopo, who had no idea they had purposely been placed upon the hats by the milliner. So he slid back one of the doors of the case, gave the little chirruping whistle of the knooks that all birds know well, and called:

"Come, friends; the door is open - fly out!"

Popopo did not know the birds were stuffed; but, stuffed or not, every bird is bound to obey a knook's whistle and a knook's call. So they left the hats, flew out of the case and began fluttering about the room.

"Poor dears!" said the kind-hearted knook, "you long to be in the fields and forests again."

Then he opened the outer door for them and cried: "Off with you! Fly away, my beauties, and be happy again."

The astonished birds at once obeyed, and when they had soared away into the night air the knook closed the door and continued his wandering through the streets.

By dawn he saw many interesting sights, but day broke before he had finished the city, and he resolved to come the next evening a few hours earlier.

As soon as it was dark the following day he came again to the city and on passing the millinery shop noticed a light within. Entering he found two women, one of who leaned her head upon the table and sobbed bitterly, while the other strove to comfort her.

Of course Popopo was invisible to mortal eyes, so he stood by and listened to their conversation.

"Cheer up, sister," said one. "Even though your pretty birds have all been stolen the hats themselves remain."

"Alas!" cried the other, who was the milliner, "no one will buy my hats partly trimmed, for the fashion is to wear birds upon them. And if I cannot sell my goods I shall be utterly ruined."

Then she renewed her sobbing and the knook stole away, feeling a little ashamed to realize that in his love for the birds he had unconsciously wronged one of the earth people and made her unhappy.

This thought brought him back to the millinery shop later in the night, when the two women had gone home. He wanted, in some way, to replace the birds upon the hats, that the poor woman might be happy again. So he searched until he came upon a nearby cellar full of little gray mice, who lived quite undisturbed and gained livelihood by gnawing through the walls into neighboring houses and stealing food from the pantries.

"Here are just the creatures," thought Popopo, "to place upon the woman's hats. Their fur is almost as soft as the plumage of the birds, and it strikes me the mice are remarkably pretty and graceful animals. Moreover, they now pass their lives in stealing, and were they obliged to remain always upon women's hats, their morals would be much improved."

So he exercised a charm that drew all the mice from the cellar and placed them upon the hats in the glass case, where they occupied the places the birds had vacated and looked very becoming - at least, in the eyes of the unworldly knook. To prevent their running about and leaving the hats Popopo rendered them motionless, and then he was so pleased with his work that he decided to remain in the shop and witness the delight of the milliner when she saw how daintily her hats were now trimmed.

She came in the early morning, accompanied by her sister, and her face wore a sad and resigned expression. After sweeping and dusting the shop and drawing the blinds she opened the glass case and took out a hat.

But when she saw a tiny gray mouse nestling among the ribbons and laces she gave a loud shriek, and, dropping the hat, sprang with one bound to the top of the table. The sister, knowing the shriek to be one of fear, leaped upon a chair and exclaimed:

"What is it! Oh! what is it!?"

"A mouse!" gasped the milliner, trembling with terror.

Popopo, seeing this commotion, now realized that mice are especially disagreeable to human beings, and that he had made a grave mistake in placing them upon the hats; se he gave a low whistle of command that was heard only by the mice.

Instantly they all jumped from the hats, dashed out the open door of the glass case and scampered away to their cellar. But this action so frightened the milliner and her sister that after giving several loud screams they fell upon their backs on the floor and fainted away.

Popopo was a kind-hearted knook, but on witnessing all this misery, caused by his own ignorance of the ways of humans, he straightway wished himself at home, and so left the poor women to recover as best they could.

Yet he could not escape a sad feeling of responsibility and after thinking upon the matter he decided that since he had caused the milliner's unhappiness by freeing the birds, he could set the matter right by restoring them to the glass case. He loved the birds, and disliked to condemn them to slavery again; but that seemed the only way to end the trouble.

So he set off to find the birds. They had flown a long distance, but it was nothing to Popopo to reach them in a second, and he discovered them sitting upon the branches of a big chestnut tree and singing gayly.

When the saw the knook the birds cried:

"Thank you Popopo. Thank you for setting us free."

"Do not thank me," returned the knook, "for I have come to send you back to the millinery shop."

"Why?" demanded a blue gay, angrily, while the others stopped their songs.

"Because I find the woman considers you her property, and your loss has caused her much unhappiness," answered Popopo.

"But remember how unhappy we were in her glass case," said a robin redbreast, gravely. "And as for being her property, you are a knook, and the natural guardian of all birds; so you know that Nature created us free. To be sure, wicked men shot and stuffed us, and sold us to the milliner; but the idea of one being her property is nonsense!"

Popopo was puzzled.

"If I leave you free," he said, "wicked men will shoot you again, and you will be no better off than before."

"Pooh!" exclaimed the blue jay, "we cannot be shot now, for we are stuffed Indeed, two men fired several shots at us this morning, but the bullets only ruffled our feathers and buried themselves in our stuffing. We do not fear men now."

"Listen!" said Popopo, sternly, for he felt the birds were getting the best of the argument; "the poor milliner's business will be ruined if I do not return you to her shop. It seems you are necessary to trim the hats properly. It is the fashion for women to wear birds upon their headgear. So the poor milliner's wares, although beautified by lace and ribbons, are worthless unless you are perched upon them."

"Fashions," said a black bird, solemnly, "are made by men. What law is there, among birds or knooks, that requires us to be the slaves of fashion?"

"What have we to do with fashions, anyway?" screamed a linnet. "If it we the fashion to wear knooks perched upon women's hats would you be contented to stay there? Answer me, Popopo!"

But Popopo was in despair. He could not wrong the birds by sending them back to the milliner, nor did he wish the milliner to suffer by their loss. So he went home to think what could be done.

After much meditation he decided to consult the king of the knooks, and going at once to his majesty he told him the whole story.

The king frowned.

"This should teach you the folly of interfering with earth people." He said. "But since you have caused all this trouble, it is your duty to remedy it. Our birds cannot be enslaved, that is certain; therefore you must have the fashions changed, so it will no longer be stylish for women to wear birds upon their hats."

"How shall I do that?" asked Popopo.

"Easily enough. Fashions often change among the earth people, who tire quickly of any one thing. When they read in the newspapers and magazines that the style is so-and-so, they never question the matter, but at once obey the mandate of fashion. So you must visit the newspapers and magazines and enchant the types."

"Enchant the types!" echoed Popopo, in wonder.

"Just so. Make them read that it is no longer the fashion to wear birds upon hats. That will afford relief to your poor milliner and at the same time set free thousands of our darling birds who have been so cruelly used."

Popopo thanked the wise king and followed his advice.

The office of every newspaper and magazine in the city was visited by the knook, and then he went to other cities, until there was not a publication in the land that had not a "new fashion note" in its pages. Sometimes Popopo enchanted the types, so that whoever read the print would see only what the knook wished them to. Sometimes he called upon the busy editors and befuddled their brains until they wrote exactly what he wanted them to. Mortals seldom know how greatly they are influenced by fairies, knooks and ryls, who often put thoughts into their heads that only the wise little immortals could have conceived.

The following morning when the poor milliner looked over her newspaper she was overjoyed to read that "no woman could now wear a bird upon her hat and be in style, for the newest fashion required only ribbons and laces."

Popopo after this found much enjoyment in visiting every millinery shop he could find and giving new life to the stuffed birds which were carelessly tossed aside as useless. And they flew to the fields and forests with songs of thanks to the good knook who had rescued them.

Sometimes a hunter fires his gun at a bird and then wonders why he did not hit it. But, having read this story, you will understand that the bird must have been a stuffed one from some millinery shop, which cannot, of course, be killed by a gun.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, July 14, 1918.

The Puzzle Corner

Mr. G. Ography's puzzles puzzled quite a number of you. I even had trouble with them myself. The correct answers he says are: Nome, Picardy, Tokio, Maine, Vienna, Rye and the Balkan States.

The Forgetful Poet, sends these verses from a place which he forgot to put in his letter.

Some Remarkable Seirevocsid!

I found two spies to my surprise
And one I saw through clearly--
The other one was hanging,
And he terrified me, nearly!

A fish I saw within a cage,
A pearl that caused dismay,
A wag that wasn't on a tail--
Nor didn't joke--a day

That wasn't time--a hammer
That could sing--and after that
A diamond in the dust and near
An entertaining bat!

The titles of his verses seem a little strange, don't they?

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2007 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, January 9 and 16, 1916.

"Now, I wonder which way I came?" said Dorabelle, looking around anxiously. "Oh, dear, I wish I had stayed with the others. If I hadn't run so far after that butterfly I shouldn't have lost myself, and if I hadn't have lost myself, I shouldn't have been so sleepy - and if - " The third if was quite swallowed up in a terrible yawn, such a "HA-HO HUMM!" sort of an affair that a squirrel who had been watching her from a tree immediately yawned too - indeed, yawned three, to be perfectly correct.

"I'll just sit down a minute and maybe they will find me!" said the little girl, leaning drowsily against a tree trunk. And then, what do you suppose she did? Fell asleep, dears and ducks, that's what! It grew darker and darker - (it had been going-home time when Dorabelle ran away from the picnic party), but still she slept sound on the forest ground and NEVER heard the voices calling and calling her. After awhile they stopped, the moon put on her yellow dress and looked out of the sky window. Everything was still.

Then, all at once, on a stone near Dorabelle's head, there sounded a tap, tap, tapping. Farthings and six-pence! Next thing the stone was pushed aside and OUT sprang a little brown goblin and after him another and another and another and another till the place just swarmed with 'em.

"What's this?" cried the first goblin, holding his lantern close to Dorabelle's face.

"A cow, a pig! A lump of a pig has got into our magic circle," screeched another, falling over Dorabelle's foot and smashing his lantern to bits.

"A cow, a pig!" shrieked the rest, tumbling over each other in a mad scramble to get closer. Oh, the confusion was terrible!

"Ho, you, above there!" called an angry voice right in the midst of the excitement. "Is the pot boiling?" The next minute out hopped another goblin. He had a crown on his head. I think he must have been king, for the others immediately began smoothing down their leather aprons and picking up their tools, their little hammers and axes.

"If your Majesty pleases," began one apologetically, "a thing has got into our way!"

"It's a human!" grumbled the king, walking up to Dorabelle and feeling her dress.

" 'Twill make good waist-coats and breeches," he muttered under his breath - "Yo - Scrimp!" A crooked little goblin separated himself from the others. "Measure us for breeches and waistcoats," growled the King, "and don't stand gaping there!"

The little goblin hurriedly pulled out a tape measure and, beginning with the King, measured away for dear life. Now the King helped himself to Dorabelle's work bag and the others, following his example, began taking whatever pleased them. One unlaced her shoe and began jumping rope with the shoe lace, another jerked greedily at her necklace - and that awakened her.

"Mercy!" cried Dorabelle sitting up so suddenly that a dozen bowled over, "where am I?"

At this the goblins fled in great confusion - all except the King - "and this will make me a good milkpail," said he calmly taking her silver thimble out of the work bag and polishing it upon his jacket.

Although Dorabelle was almost scared out of her wits - the idea of her thimble as a milkpail was so funny that she burst out laughing.

"Stop it! Stop it!" shrieked the King, hopping up and down with his fingers in his ears - as for the others they writhed about as if they had the toothache, at which Dorabelle's laughter ended in a little gasp of surprise - then a queer rustle from behind the tree attracted her attention.

There, with his long ears twitching nervously, stood a rabbit in a checkered sweater. "Oh, dear! Oh, my! Whatever'll I do?" he was murmuring under has breath. "If Jan were only here - what mischief are they up to now?" He looked like such a jolly little chap that Dorabelle felt she must call to him. But before she could utter a word he had disappeared into the shadows.

Turning around, she saw that the goblins had withdrawn to a stump, where they were talking excitedly among themselves. "She must be reduced!" the King was saying in a loud voice. At this he raised his queer little club and as he did so she felt a strange tickling in her feet.

"Mercy!" cried Dorabelle - this time in real alarm. No wonder. Her feet were slowly coming up toward her knees. She watched them in fascinated silence.

A sudden stir among the goblins made her look up. The one called Scrimp was whispering earnestly in the King's ear. "Has your Majesty forgotten the waistcoats?"

"The waistcoats! I'd forgotten them. 'Twould never do to reduce the waistcoats," said the King, letting his club drop to his side again. The minute it dropped Dorabelle's feet stopped in their journey toward her knees (they were just about half way). Now the goblin Scrimp rushed toward her with his shears and began snipping away pieces of her dress and cutting out breeches and waistcoats as if his life depended upon it.

Afraid lest she be reduced - and not sure just how FAR - Dorabelle dared not interfere. "What WILL become of me!" she thought in dismay.

Soon the whole front of her dress was cut away and fifty goblin waistcoats and fifty pairs of goblin breeches lay in a neat pile beside her. Don't imagine the others were idle all this time. Mercy no! Hither and thither they ran on their crooked little legs and soon had a roaring fire going. They brought a great black pot and hung it over the fire on a crane. Into this they tossed little chunks of gold that they carried up their secret stairway under the stone. It was all so queer and exciting that Dorabelle forgot how frightened she was.

"What are you doing?" she called in an interested voice.

Immediately the goblins stopped and scowled at her. "She must be reduced!" screeched the goblin King again. "Scrimp, are you done cutting there?"

"Yes, your Majesty!" said the little tailor goblin folding up his tape measure.

"I'll not be reduced!" screamed Dorabelle in a panic. Jumping to her feet, she started to run away, but try as she might she could not move. A hundred invisible hands held her motionless. All the goblins were stamping and hopping about her in a circle and the more they stamped and hopped the queerer she felt. She was shrinking - that's what she was doing. Yes - really! Smaller and smaller she grew till at last she was no bigger than a goblin herself.

Before she had caught her breath - and shrinking takes away your breath quicker than anything I can think of - the goblin King caught her by the arm. "You are under arrest for trespassing!" said he sternly. He clapped his hands three times and Dorabelle heard a clanking and shuffling. Something was coming up the goblin stairway.

It was a mole! Yawning and stretching, he dragged himself out of the hole. He had a great bunch of keys at his waist. Dorabelle had often seen moles before - "but I never knew they were so large," she remarked uneasily to herself. You see she had forgotten that it was SHE who was LITTLE.

"Lock her up!" said the goblin King, with a jerk of his thumb at Dorabelle. "She can make waistcoats and breeches and darn stockings," he added half aloud.

"Ha - ho hum!" yawned the mole; "Come along here!" He took Dorabelle by the arm and started off toward the stairway.

There didn"t seem to be anything to do but come - and anyway Dorabelle was not so much afraid of the mole as of the goblins. "I'll pinch him when I get a good chance," she thought comfortingly to herself, "and then I'll run - and - "

By this time they had reached the stairway and it took all her attention to keep from falling on her head. Down - down - down the crooked little stairs they went - the only light being that of the mole's lantern. After them came the tailor goblin with his pile of breeches and waistcoats. Down, down - and still down, went the mole - Dorabelle clinging frantically to his coat tails. She gave up the notion of pinching him, "for if I pinched him he'd drop the lantern - and if he'd drop the lantern I'd be in the dark and maybe fall down a thousand steps and like as not never be heard of."

At last, after she thought she could not possibly go another step - at last, after winding round and round and in and out and up and down - they came to a little door in the rock.

The next minute the mole had unlocked the door and thrust her into a tiny room. He set the lamp on the table - the tailor goblin dumped the pile of breeches and waistcoats on the floor and handed her his scissors, thread and thimble. "Mind you have 'em done by tomorrow," he snapped. Then they both went out and locked the door behind them. She could hear their feet thudding away off down the passage.

"Come back! Come back!" screamed Dorabelle, hammering on the door as hard as she could. "Oh, dear - I wonder whether they will bring me anything to eat?" (She had not had any supper, you know.) In answer to her query, she heard the mole shuffling back. Then a card was pushed under the door. Taking it over to the lamp, she read, "Breakfast will be served in one year!" THINK of it!

"One year!" gasped Dorabelle in dismay, "why, I'll starve!" At which dismal prospect she sank down upon the waistcoats and began to weep bitterly. But one cannot weep forever, especially when one is tremendously curious, so after a time Dorabelle dried her eyes and picked up the card again. "One year - why, goblins live for thousands and thousands of years, and I guess they couldn't afford to eat very often," she reflected sadly. Then she looked at the pile of waistcoats that were to be finished before morning - and they set her thinking of the Queen in her fairy-tale book who had to spin whole rooms full of straw into gold. "She didn't have any worse time than I am having - why, I believe I have gotten into a fairy tale myself!" she exclaimed suddenly in a rather pleased voice. "And if I have - why, something will surely happen." Dears and ducks - it did! For at that very minute - scratch-scrape - scratch! went something against the opposite wall of the room. Now, I wonder - !

The little girl crouched back as far as she could against the damp wall of the room. The scratching grew louder every minute. Plaster and stones came tumbling down. At last a big piece of the wall fell out and through the opening came a head. "It's the rabbit!" gasped Dorabelle, taking her hands down from her ears. And sure enough, it was the rabbit she had seen for a minute behind the tree. "Nice way to treat a body," he grumbled, climbing into the room and dusting off his fur trousers and checked sweater with a silk handkerchief. "Are you ready to go?"

"Oh, yes, please!" cried Dorabelle, clasping her hands and running eagerly forward. "Can we get out?"

"Not very polite of her to want to go when I have just come!" muttered the rabbit to himself. He stood dejectedly pulling his whiskers and Dorabelle, who had overheard his last remark, hastened to add, "Of course, I am ready to go - if you are!"

"That's just the point," muttered the rabbit. "Am I ready to go? You see, I've just come and it's according to how it goes whether I'll go or not and should one come and go in one sentence?"

"I don't know what you're talking about!" said Dorabelle crossly, "and I don't believe you know yourself!"

"She don't believe I know myself!" repeated the rabbit in a troubled voice. "I say, do you play checkers?"

"Why, yes, of course! But I don't see what that had to do with it!" The rabbit cheered up tremendously at this and immediately took off his checked sweater and spread it carefully on the floor. Then he felt in his pockets and brought out a handful of checkers.

"He's perfectly silly," reasoned Dorabelle to herself, "but I might just as well play and it's better having him here than being here alone!" So she sat down on the floor and then both lined up their checkers ready to start!

"You go - " Before the rabbit finished his sentence a hundred feet pattered down the passageway and a hundred fists beat upon the door.

"The goblins!" screamed Dorabelle, jumping to her feet!

" - first!"inished the rabbit composedly paying no attention to the racket in the passageway. "Your move!" he continued, twitching his ears and wiggling his nose.

"My move - I should say it was my move!" cried Dorabelle, and rushing toward the opening through which the rabbit had come, she scattered the checkers in every direction.

No sooner had her foot touched the first checker than everything grew dark. She could hear the rabbit scrambling about and the goblins hammering on the door. Then everything grew still again and she opened her eyes!

"Dorabelle! Dorabelle! Wake up! We've been hunting for you everywhere!" called her mother's voice in her ear! There she was, under the big tree in the woods, just where she had fallen asleep.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, July 14, 1918.

Mr. G. Ography's Riddles

The Forgetful Poet sent me a letter from the mountains begging me to excuse him from riddles this week. He said that Mr. G. Ography would no doubt be pleased to forward some. I immediately wrote to the old fellow, and in the next mail received the following:

What little elf will give a northern city?

A tool and two letters of the alphabet will give a great battlefield in the present war.

Part of the foot, something used indoors and one more letter will give what city of the Orient?

What state of the United States is found on a tropical animal?

Three letters of the alphabet will give a city of one of our enemies.

A well-known grain will give a New York town.

And something that bounces and something used to preserve will give some states.

I wonder if you can guess all those places Mr. G. Ography has mentioned?

Last week's puzzle answers were: Tree, Pants and Cold.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2007 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 1, 2007


By John R. Neill
Author of The Runaway in Oz, The Wonder City of Oz, Lucky Bucky in Oz, etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia North American, December 3, 1905.

Click image to enlarge.
By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, July 7, 1918.


The Forgetful Poet handed me his verses headed by the above.
Never heard of such a thing - did you? Ah, well, we must excuse the dear fellow.
It is hard to keep one's headpiece working this hot weather.


The joys of camping often
Have been highly praised to me,
But I'm afraid that in the woods
I'd take root like a ------,

And then, you know, the insects
Get so personal; the ants
Mix with the food - and burrs and briars
Tear up one's coat and ------.

The skeeters do their little bit
Or bites - 'm far too old
For roughing it, besides I always
Catch a grippy ------.
(Poor thing.)

Last week's answers were: 1. Putt; 2. Net; 3. Way.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2007 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 23, 1918.

There was once a family of mice who lived in a bookcase - that almost never was dusted! Undisturbed and happy, they pursued the even tenor of their way and, living as they did among books, became every day more erudite. (Whatever that is). Father Mouse got it out of a book of essays - and used it upon every occasion.

The books belonged to a young bachelor, who, I am sorry to say, seldom referred to them, having got them from a grand-uncle. As he said often and often to his friends, they looked uncommonly dry.

Every evening the young mice would gather around and Father Mouse would laboriously open one of the books. Perched upon a little ladder he had made for the purpose, he would read for hours and hours. Madam Mouse, who had her own troubles making both ends meet (students make but poor husbands), would slyly nibble bits of the margin. It did very well for cereal.

One night as they were thus engaged an astonishing thing happened. Madam Mouse, returning from a visit to the bachelor's kitchen, unexpectedly encountered the bachelor himself. "Ha!" quoth the bachelor, and seizing a magazine threw it as hard as he could right at the little mouse lady. She was too quick for him, however, and, dropping her market basket, rushed for the bookcase as fast as she could patter - which was pretty fast.

"So that's where you live!" Down on his knees went the bachelor and next minute - before Mother Mouse had a chance to warn the family - out came a book - over tumbled Father Mouse and his step-ladder and all the little mice!

"Run for your lives!" squeaked their agitated mother; but their more conservative father cried, "Wait!" Not wishing to offend either of their parents, the little mice blinked and did nothing, and while they were doing that nothing at all happened.

Mother Mouse peeked cautiously around the edge of the bookcase to see what was going on. The bachelor was on his knees beside the book that had fallen out, staring as if he could not believe his eyes. No wonder! The book had fallen open and there between the leaves was the fattest package of banknotes that particular bachelor had ever seen in his bachelor life.

Next minute he was flipping over the leaves and out fell more banknotes and also a letter which read:

"To my dear nephew whom I always have known was a student at heart!"

"Caesar!" wheezed the bachelor. "And I might never had read 'em; why, if it hadn't been for the mouse I would never have even thought of looking at the books. Good little mice! Why, confound it, they shall have a pound of cheese for this and a home in the bookcase forever!"

"Will you just put that in writing?" Father Mouse stepped forward gravely, the four little mice behind him. You see, having read so much, he understood perfectly the bachelor's speech. But the bachelor was not up on mouseish, so was obliged to shake his head. Reaching in his pocket he found a small cigar and a package of chewing gum. The former{sic} he gave to the little mice - it kept them busy for the rest of the evening, and after that Mother Mouse worked on them. As for the cigar, Father Mouse immediately went into the tobacco business and made enough retailing it to mice of his acquaintance to put by a tidy little sum for his old age. And after that the mice were never molested, and each evening found some contribution toward their housekeeping back of the books.

As for the bachelor, that's all I know about him; what he did with the money I have no idea.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 30, 1918.

Some Rhyming Riddles

The Forgetful Poet's answers for last week were: Knee caps, elbows, eyelids, crown of the head, roof of the mouth, eyebrows, insteps, walls of the heart and other organs, finger nails and chest, ear drums and two palms, two calves, and the bridge of the nose.

Can you finish these verses for the dear fellow?


The game of golf is very fine;
I drive off well, dears, but
I never seem to have the skill
Required, dears, in the ------

At tennis I am more or less
Bewildered - I forget;
Sometimes a ball may be returned
And rather near the ------!

Now baseball is another thing
I seldom ever play.
After I his the ball - somehow
I seem to lose my ------!

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2007 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


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

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

The dictator sat alone in his study in a castle high in the mountains of a European nation. There was only one light in the room. But it was of sufficient strength to reveal that the Great Man was alone. Even the corners of the room were empty of shadows. The room itself was bare and plain to a painful degree. There were only a few books on the shelves that lined an alcove in a corner; one of these the work of the Dictator himself. In another corner stood an immense electric phonograph and an album of records in whose glossy grooves slumbered the terrible and other-worldly music of the "Gotterdammerung," the leaden-skied twilight of the Dusk of the Gods, the dragon-slaying Siegfried, the majestic Brunnhilde and the unearthly echoes of Valhalla.

The single light on the desk before which the Dictator sat glared down on a map and a soldier. The map was an elaborate map of Europe. The Dictator never tired of studying it and when he had stared at it long enough there seemed to ring in his ears the songs of the mighty Siegfried and the lines on the map that denoted the boundaries of the nation he loved so well swelled and quivered and burst - and lo! - all boundaries disappeared and all of Europe become only one united kingdom, under the rule of this race of super-men, whose leader the Dictator was.

The soldier that shared the desk with the map was fashioned of iron, a tiny figure, a mere six inches high, but artful and perfect in every detail, garbed in miniature iron replicas of the uniform and trappings the Dictator himself had designed for his army - and complete even to the out-thrust bayonet, whose needle sharp point glimmered and shone in the rays of the electric light.

The Dictator was very tired tonight. The world was moving through strenuous times. At moments like this he admitted to himself what would have brought shocked denials from his loyal subjects - that he was, after all, just a mortal man. He had won the devotion of millions, the hatred of more millions. He had lost the love of women, the friendship of men. These were mortal things no demi-God might own. He had climbed the peaks to an awful height and he found it dizzying and lonely to stand here alone with the clouds mantling his shoulders and the distant music of Valhalla sounding in his ears.

All this he had symbolized in his physical existence. Here in his mountain-top castle he literally dwelt among the clouds, he was utterly alone, no man was his friend or confidant, no woman his wife or mistress. There were only the guards about him and the vastness of space above as it wheeled away through and beyond the starry heavens and the vastness of space below as it dropped from this embattled peak.

It was an incredible dream-world the Dictator lived in. The awful beauty of the mountain surrounding him, the blind worship of his people, the tremendous power and might at his command - all these had molded his body into a legendary figure - touched him with Godship. And he was the first to realize the danger of allowing any man or woman to approach him save on a legendary plane. He was alone - utterly alone - with a map and an iron soldier. Wearily the Dictator paused in his musings and brushing his hand over his eyes, picked up the iron soldier. This was force - he the power that drove it. The combination was irresistible. But singly, either of them ceased to exist. The Dictator recalled the years he had served in the army during the World War, strange wonderful years. Even then men had pulled away from him. His comrades had sensed a difference even though he was a common soldier just as they were. They were fighting because they were forced in. They fought with a grim determination and hated it. He had fought through those years like a man in a dream with a glory light shining in his eyes and a great belief in the Cause of his nation. He had fought because he had to win. And the men who wanted only to be at home once more with their wives and children had mistrusted and shunned this dreamer.

The Dictator had been strangely happy in those days. He had even derived a joy from the agony and suffering of the three wounds he had received. He could recall at will the anguish of the battlefield, his blood mingling with mud and his mind wandering back and forth over the borderline of delirium.

The Dictator held the iron figure of the soldier in his hand. This was himself. He was that iron man in uniform. He was lifting up that bayonet with muscles taut, poised for action. For a long moment he stared at the soldier, then his eyes wandered to the map and fixed on a point of its markings. There was a crucial point in the war that might come, the forests of Brittainy. He knew them well. As a child he had spent a summer holiday there. He had wandered in their cool other-world shade, the same shade in which Joan of Arc had dreamed her divine visions and like him had become the saviour of her nation and a figure of mythology. The Dictator stared at the grey point on the map. That was Brittainy.

Outside the castle it was still, as enormously still as only the ether that clings to a mountain-top can be. In this rarefied air the remote stars failed to twinkle, they stared down with an unwinking light and the vaulted heavens was bounded by no horizon, but seemed to spread inimitably in all directions - to all sides and up and down immeasurably.

For several minutes now the Dictator had been staring at the point marked Brittainy on the map. Suddenly he started and his eyes opened wider. He gasped and stared still more closely at the map. There was something strange about it. He couldn't tear his eyes from it. He watched fascinated, powerless to move. It was that point on the map marked Brittainy - a mere pin point on the vast canvas of a continent. It was changing. Was this some trick of his eyes, some illusion of the light, or did he actually see it? The pin point was a button. It was growing, widening, spreading. Impatiently the Dictator closed his eyes. This was ridiculous. He simply had been staring too long at the point. He must rest his eyes. When he opened them again the illusion would have vanished. He remembered how, as a boy, he had dreamed, staring unblinkingly at an object until it lost all semblance of familiarity and seemed utterly strange and foreign. The Dictator passed his hands over his eyes and opened them. He gave a muffled cry. The map was gone. There was only Brittainy. In amazement he stared. He could distinguish the miniature trees - the earth - even the sun-light filtering through leaves. The Dictator's heart was beating wildly. What could it mean? Had he fallen asleep and was dreaming? But no - he was too intensely awake-too acutely alert for that. Every faculty in his body was at fever-pitch. He stared spellbound. He was unable to tear his eyes from what had been a map on his desk. He felt incredibly small - infinitesimal - no larger than the iron soldier he had a moment before held in his hand.

Or was that it - quite? Wasn't it rather a queer feeling that the world was growing up about him - monstrously large - impossibly gigantic? It seemed that he could hear it growing in the very air about him, an eerie rustling and whispering of strangely troubled currents of air. It was as if a mighty displacement were taking place, as if something vast and illimitable were being turned inside out. A vision flashed before his eyes of the world inside a mirror suddenly moving out through the tiny wedge of the frame. There was a crackling and spreading of growing things about him. He could hear mighty tendrils unfolding and lashing about. He closed his eyes.

When he opened them the illusion was complete. He was no longer in his study. He was in a forest. Above him was a melancholy sky, slate-hued, and there floated a scabrous sun - a sun that seemed older than any sun he had ever dreamed of. And what trees these were about him! Involuntarily the Dictator shuddered and shrank from them. On their misshapen trunks bled the most horrible, the most repulsive of cancers. They were obscene abominations of trees. Bleeding wounds, membranous sores, scab incrusted chancres - they grew in abundance in this sick forest of silently moaning trees.

The Dictator stumbled forward and brushed against a tree, his shoulder touching its trunk. The cloth of his smart military uniform was smeared with an ill smelling ichor - a putrescence like rotting blood, it seemed to the Dictator. It might have been blood from a wound that had lain open long unattended. A wave of repulsion and illness swept over the Dictator. What was this place? Where was he? And why did this frightful landscape seem so familiar to him? Where had he seen it before? The earth, pocked and marked by outcroppings of clammy cold rocks of dull grey, pitted with ponds of brackish water, rust hued, empurpled here and there with a sickly flower. Where had he seen all this before? He searched his memory for the elusive thread that would lead him through this maze of thoughts. And then suddenly it came to him. Many years ago - his childhood - the weeks he had spent in Brittainy! That was it. That cold, grey, terrifying land, so different from the mellow warmth and the bright sunshine of his homeland. It had pressed an indelible, nightmare vision on his child mind. He would never forget it. The afternoon and night he had been lost in the forest - this very forest! It all came back to him now with a rush of swift clear recollection. He still awakened at night, haunted by the fear he had felt then - a helpless, terrified child, struggling and sobbing through that forest. It had been horrible. The age-old oaks whose gnarled roots writhed from the ground like nests of frightful grey snakes.

That was it - the forest of Brittainy! That explained everything! Then he was dreaming - he must be dreaming! He had fallen asleep over the map - his mind had been busy with that pin point marked Brittainy and quite naturally enough his mind in sleep linked his waking thoughts with those childhood memories. It was all just a dream.

But what a dream! Surely no man had ever dreamed so vividly as this. And could one reason and remember in a dream? Could one be so acutely "awake" in a dream? A chill went over the Dictator as his mind moved on to the next possibility - madness. Long had his enemies accused him of madness. He had heard their charges with scorn. Could this be it? No - the Dictator pulled himself sharply together - no man in the world was saner than he. He was far from madness. Then what was this - how explain this? The Dictator didn't know. He hoped wearily that all this wretched landscape would dissolve about him as mysteriously as it had come and he would find himself again in his study. But it didn't dissolve. It towered mightily up and above and beyond and over him. It forced its putrid odors into his lungs and pierced his outraged eyeballs with its sickly, sun-ridden tortures.

The Dictator could remain motionless no longer. Perhaps in action he would find the way out of this mad obsession that claimed him so completely. He walked briskly between the trees, unconsciously adopting the military manner he wore when he appeared in public. But soon his pace slowed. There was a mottled red beech, sanguinary leaves fell from its enlaced branches. One of the leaves brushed the Dictator's chest. It felt moist. He wiped it with his fingers. A brownish red substance, smelling faintly rotten, clung to his fingers. Trembling with disgust and revulsion, the Dictator wiped the smear from his fingers. What Hellish place was this? A desperate, wild light came into the Dictator's eyes. He couldn't endure this nightmare much longer. It would have to end. He must escape. There must be some way out of this vegetable charnel house, where all the world was wounded, bleeding, rotten with sores and eaten through with tubercular tumors.

The Dictator stumbled on. His heavy, military boots sank into the porous soil and filled him with loathing. He hated even the ground - pock marked with abrasive stones and mottled with pools of rusty water. The trees outraged him. As he watched them it seemed that their dark and wrinkled envelopes turned into the shriveled, bursting skins of corpses that have laid neglected for days, exposed to the sunlight on a battlefield.

The Dictator felt that he must run. Faster and ever faster - but he couldn't bear the sight of what he saw as he ran. So he closed his eyes and dashed blindly. Madly he ran and with his tightly shut eyes closing out the abominations about him he derived some relief from the wild flight. But he hadn't run more than fifty paces until the bifurcated branch of an oak crossed his path and stopped him violently. The force of the impact sent the Dictator sprawling to the ground. His face lay in a little pool of browning water, colored with the taint of blood that seemed to seep through the soil from the roots of the trees.

The Dictator sobbed. He shivered and a miserable fear seized him. Tears welled into his eyes. He felt wretchedly helpless. He was alone - he was afraid - he was without hope. Sobs racked his body inside the smart military uniform. After a time the Dictator wearily opened his eyes. Above him towered a hideous tree. It raised its limbs from the earth in an unholy protest to the grey heavens. It was shriven down its trunk with a monstrous ulcer of innumerable wens and bleeding sores. The Dictator retched with loathing. He was looking into a foul cavity torn in a human abdomen and furred with grey lichen. There were the naked, obscene haunches, the flesh shot raggedly away, the rear bones protruding.

The Dictator could stand this no longer. He threw himself flat on the ground and buried his head in his arms and sobbed as he hadn't sobbed since he was a frightened child wandering helpless and lost in a forest. For some time his sobs continued and then he became more calm, exhausted by the tide of emotion.

And then, did he, or did he not hear something? The Dictator scarce dared move. He might be mistaken. He might not have heard what he thought he had heard. He must cling to the belief that he had heard it. It must be so. The shivering of his body stopped, he strained every nerve until he became an ear cast to the ground. He did hear it! A great joy swept over him. He was not mistaken. Someone was walking toward him! There was someone else here in this unholy place. He was not alone! He was sure of it now. The footsteps were quite plain. He listened. They were measured, calm, methodical, not wild and frantic as his had been. They sounded unhurried, deliberate, almost military. For what seemed an eternity the Dictator listened and waited. At last the footsteps sounded at his side and then they stopped.

The Dictator held his breath and tried to raise himself and force his eyes open. What would he see? He was afraid, but not as afraid as he had been. Nothing could be as horrible as this forest - nothing. And this was human, this had walked toward him, upright as a man walks. There was nothing to be afraid of. Something of his old reassurance returned to the Dictator. He sat up and opened his eyes. His heart leaped. He was staring at the familiar boots and trousers of one of his own soldiers? An immense gladness and thankfulness swept over the Dictator like a warming wave. He was rescued! He was safe! Self-confidence was flowing back into him like a tide. He was no longer cold and shivering, warmth returned to his blood.

A faint flush suffused the Dictator's cheeks as he realized how ridiculous he must look, sitting here on the ground. He would tell the fellow he had been resting, that was all. He must get him back to the castle and then he could be persuaded not to talk. No one must ever see the Dictator in other than a proud, military posture. Impatiently the Dictator leaped to his feet. But almost immediately he recoiled as if he had been struck a sudden blow. His knees buckled under him, he was trembling as with the ague.

This man - this man who stood before him in the uniform of one of his own men - he was no man! He was, the Dictator's teeth chattered as the mad reality ran through his flaming brain, he was - a man of iron! His uniform - his boots - the man himself - all dull grey iron! Somewhere in the back of the Dictator's troubled consciousness there flickered for an instant, the image of an iron soldier that rested on his desk - an iron soldier - six inches high! That was it! The man was part of the pattern of this wild dream. The map - the pin point marked Brittainy - the horrible forest - the iron soldier - the up-raised bayonet, poised for attack.

The Dictator knelt trembling before the motionless figure. What should he do? What could he do? What would happen next? The Dictator forced his eyes to the level of the face of the figure before him. He looked into immobile, expressionless cast-iron features. And - like a searing dye of white hot metal those iron features burned themselves into the Dictator's consciousness. They were his own - his own features cast in iron.

The Dictator trembled more violently at this new madness. Now he wanted to cry out - to scream, - to shout - to howl at this impassively glowering iron image of himself. But he couldn't. A deadly paralysis welled into his throat like an icy liquid. It spread over his body like a cold caress, numbing him, transfixing him to the spot. He made little gurgling sounds as he stared wildly at the thing before him.

And then it moved. Slowly the uplifted bayonet was lowered. Inch by inch it pointed its way downward. And all the incredibly long time the Dictator watched, fascinated as a bird is by a serpent. The point of the fine steel hypnotized him. It was coming closer - closer - the features of the iron man - of himself - stared expressionless into his own. Now the point of the bayonet was only a foot from his breast. Now a half foot. Now a mere few inches. Now a fraction of an inch. Slowly, ever slowly it came while the Dictator stared, incapable of motion, silently praying that it would increase its pace. Now it touched his uniform. Now it was ripping through the cloth. Now the Dictator felt the icy sharpness of it pressing against his flesh. Now like a knife of flame it had pierced his skin. Now it was moving ever so slowly into his flesh. The warmth that he felt was the blood trickling down his chest, soaking into his uniform. And still the iron man moved, mechanically, purposefully, at the same maddening slow pace. The point of the bayonet was probing deeper and deeper into the Dictator's chest. Now it had slipped between the bony cage of his ribs and was bur-rowing a highway to his heart. And then it touched that wildly beating organ. Touched it gently, pierced it with the same automatic slowness. Now his heart was impaled on a knife of steel and it throbbed and quivered and twitched into stillness while the Dictator's eyes glazed over, filled with the horror of the image of an iron face - that was his own.

In the morning when the door of the Dictator's study had been broken down, the lifeless body of the Dictator was found slumped forward on the desk.

His physician announced that he had died during the night of a heart attack. But those who attended the Great Man couldn't account for the mud they found on his boots. He had not been out of the study all evening - could not have passed out without his guards knowing of it - and there was no mud for miles about on this dry, arid mountain peak. And apparently no one had noticed the tiny iron figure of the soldier that lay on the Dictator's desk, tipped over forward so that the point of its bayonet lay buried in a pin point on the map marked Brittainy. Nor did they notice the fact that the point of the iron bayonet was stained a reddish brown with what might have been rust - or blood.

[The consistent misspelling of the name Brittany throughout this story has been retained to reflect the story's original publication.]

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 23, 1918.

The Forgetful Poet's Rhyming Riddles

He calls them this - I should think twisted riddle would be a better name for them.

I found in my body
Two caps and two bows,
Two lids without bones
Which somehow did close.

A crown and a roof, dears,
Two arches 0 two balls,
Two brows without hills,
Several steps and some walls.

Some nails and a chest, loves -
Two drums and two trees,
Two creatures - a bridge -
Will you guess them all, please?
(Pshaw! he must be an ostrich!)

Last week's answers were: 1. Crown; 2. Pesos; 3. Rubles.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2007 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 1, 2007


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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, February 20, 1916.

"I tell ye, I'll not do it!" the old man brought his fist down on the table with a thump that made the candle sputter. "But they're starving, General Washington says." "Then let 'em starve, the marauding rebels, and besides, they've no money! No sir, none of my provisions shall they have. Long live King George! Ha! Ha! Long live anybody that can pay me good honest crowns!" The woman sighed and turning from the table, went on with her work. There had been another anxious listener to this conversation. With his ear pressed close to the door, Jack, a small orphan lad, taken in by the old couple to help about the inn, heard with dismay the heartless remarks of old Derry. It was the dark winter of 1776. Washington and his army had been forced to retreat through the city of New York, up the Hudson, across the river into Jersey, across the State of New Jersey to the western banks of the Delaware. They were ragged and half-starved and many of the rich farmers and landowners of Jersey, thinking the American cause was about done for and wishing to be on the safe side, refused to supply provisions or help in any form. Instead, they sold their flour and cattle, their chickens and corn to the British for good round sums.

Among the Tory sympathizers was Derry, owner of the old Gray Goose Inn, near Bordentown, and right now he had a bargain under way to deliver virtually all of his fowl, hogs and cattle to the British, who were intrenched near Princeton. A British officer had stopped at the inn that night and Jack, running in and out on various errands, had heard old Derry dickering over the price. At last a sum was agreed upon and the stock was to be turned over to a private, who was to be sent next morning at 9 o'clock to drive them away.

Jack, though only a lad, felt the meanness of a course so contemptible and unpatriotic. A young lieutenant from the Continental Army, sent by Washington to procure provisions, had been rudely turned off the very same day with the assurance that Derry had nought to sell or to give. He had gone on further to a house about a half-mile distant where some stanch patriots agreed to help him in his mission. Here Jack followed him, for he was on fire for news of the great Washington, whom he admired with all a small lad's ardor. The more he listened to the tales of want and hardship in the Continental camp, the more indignant he grew, and when on his return to the inn he learned of Derry's bargain with the British officer, he determined himself to take a hand in the matter.

Long after old Derry and his wife had retired, he lay awake thinking. Then, like a flash a plan came to him. Slipping noiselessly out of bed, he put on his clothes. Tiptoeing into the room where Derry slept, he reached for the clock which stood on a chair beside the bed. Scarce daring to breathe, he took it to the window and by the pale moonlight, turned it forward one hour. Derry's watch he treated in similar fashion. Downstairs he hurried next, fixing the old clock in the hall and the clock in the kitchen one hour fast. Now upstairs again went Jack, this time to the room of Gates, a British private, who had been slightly wounded and was being cared for in the inn. Quietly as a mouse he removed the man's uniform from the closet, then tarrying only long enough to set his watch forward, too, tiptoed downstairs, slid the bolt aside and hurried out into the night, never stopping till he had come to the house where the young American lieutenant was lodged.

A loud thump on the door awakened the startled household. A cautious head was stuck out of the window, but Jack soon made them understand the nature of his business. In less than two hours he had explained his plan to Lieutenant Rice, left the uniform and was back in bed and asleep. You have guessed what he was about now, I am sure.

Next day old Derry arose, as he supposed, at the accustomed time, but, as we know, it was one hour earlier. Jack was hustled out of bed, for there was a great deal to be done before the stock could be got ready for the British messenger. Jack, trembling lest Gates should decide to rise and discover his uniform was gone, carried him his breakfast, assuring him that it was better for him to stay abed, which, fortunately, he seemed inclined to do.

At 9 o'clock everything was in readiness, the cattle yoked rudely together, the chickens and ducks crated and packed into an old wagon, the hogs driven into the yard. Jack could hardly keep still and was forever running to the window to see whether the messenger was coming. And one minute after eight precisely (though Derry thought ‘twas nine) the young American, with new and fiercely drooping whickers and Gates' red uniform galloped into the yard.

He asked that Jack be allowed to go along and drive the wagon while he attended to the cattle and hogs, promising to see that he got safely back. To this old Derry readily agreed and next minute there were off down the road. No sooner was the inn out of sight before they proceeded at furious speed, straight down for the river, where several large boats were waiting to take them across. The young lieutenant had sent a dispatch by messenger the night before to have them there. Never did hogs run such a race, never were cattle so pushed before, never did a wagon careen as madly along as the one driven by Jack. In a cloud of dust and to the tune of grunts, moos and protesting cackles they pounded down the road, arriving in short order at the river. With small ceremony the stock was hustled on to the boats, the horses were unhitched from the wagon and taken along, too.

About the time the real messenger cantered into the courtyard of the Gray Goose Jack and the lieutenant were being welcomed with cheers and shouts in the American camp. Washington himself shook hands with Jack and was so impressed with the lad's spirit and manliness that he agreed to his entreaties that he be kept on as a drummer boy. That night, thanks to one loyal American lad, there was fresh meat and fresh courage in the Continental encampment. I shall leave you to imagine for yourselves the rage and amazement of old Derry.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 16, 1918.

The Forgetful Poet Goes to Market

The Forgetful Poet went to market 'tother day. He said
Just give me, please, a quart of cheese and half a yard of bread,
A pound of milk, a peck of tea and half a dozen rices,
A pint of coffee, very best, and never mind the prices!
The shopman threw his hands in air - before he could object
Our poet had departed. Pshaw! Well, what could you expect?
(Of a poet?)


Mr. G. Ography has been traveling again. Can you fill in the blanks with the money he used? He says there are all sorts of coins to be reckoned with when you travel, and I guess he's right.

Now, Norway is a famous land,
I've tramped it up and down-
Aye, many a day I spent that way,
And many and many a ------.

Now, Mexico is hot and dry,
But interesting at that;
For several ------ I acquired
A broad-brimmed Spanish hat.

The traveling in Russia's
Anything but safe a present;
The ------ that it cost me
Made it even more unpleasant.

The answers to last week's puzzles were:
First, shade, meaning color; second, window shade; third, tree shade; fourth, shades of night; fifth, lamp shade.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2007 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 1, 2007


By L. Frank Baum
Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Secret of the Lost Fortune, The Visitors from Oz, etc.

Originally published in The Delineator, July 1905.

In all the fair Land of Jomb there was no giraffe at all until Umpo came. And no one knew where he came from.

He was young and tender in the days when Varg the Bull saw him approaching over the grassy plain from the South, but the sight of the strange animal set all the herd quivering with nervous dread. Even the great Varg was disturbed in mind, and gathered the young heifers about him that they might be carefully guarded in case of danger. For, to the wild, danger lurks in every unknown thing.

The stranger approached without fear, his long neck erect, his dainty head turned first this side and then that to allow his big brown eyes to examine the mo-tionless cattle that awaited him. When he saw their attitude of fear he stopped and laughed merrily, drooping his head to his knees and then raising it high to laugh again.

The heifers drew sighs of relief, but the forehead of Varg the Bull wrinkled into a frown.

"Well, well," said little Umpo, squatting down so that his eyes were scarce above the level of those of the bull; "to think that you - the Lord of the Plains - should fear a harmless giraffe!"

"Are you a giraffe?" demanded Varg, looking at the strange creature with much astonishment.

"What else should I be, eh? Is there any animal on earth like me?" asked the other, with a wink.

"I have never seen anyone like you before," answered Varg, cautiously. "Will you fight?"

Umpo laughed again, with much amusement.

"No, indeed!" said he; "for you could kill me with one blow of your hoof, or one stab with your great horns. Fight? Why should I fight? Not that I am a coward, you understand, but that nature made me helpless. So let us be friends. This is a beautiful country. I will live here, and enjoy it with you. But I will acknowledge no chief, mind you, having no tribe of my own. I am the one giraffe in all Jomb, and 1 prefer death to being ruled by any not of my kind."

Now this was a frank speech, and a fair one, and it appealed to the justice of Varg the Bull. So he made fair answer. "You are welcome," said he, "so long as you show respect for our common laws. And I will not ask to rule you in any way. But there are others with whom you must make peace here."

"And who are those?" asked the smiling giraffe.

"The river bank is the domain of the hippopotami," said Varg.

"I will make them my friends," declared Umpo.

"And the strip of forest yonder, is ruled by Slythe the Red Panther."

"1 do not care for panthers," replied Umpo, with a shrug of his tall shoulders. "But never mind! We shall be friends."

"And beyond the forest is the desert of sands, where Feathro the Ostrich holds sway."

"Good!" cried Umpo, again laughing; "the ostriches will love me, I promise you."

"Then," said Varg, "have no fear while you are in the Land of Jomb, for you may wander undisturbed from the river to the desert. It is a favored country, indeed, where peace and plenty reign. And, being your own master, there is but one common Law which you will need to respect: Never touch the Sacred Mimosa Tree, or destroy a single leaf or branch - as you value your life."

Umpo the Giraffe gave a start of surprise at this and looked grave for the first time.

"The Sacred Mimosa Tree? What is that?" he asked.

"It is the tree that brings us all good luck," answered Varg. "Come; I will show it you, that you may make no mistake, but ever respect it as we of Jomb do."

He led the way across the grassy plain, followed by all the herd; and Umpo ambled beside him, chattering pleasantly and laughing in a frank, jolly way that won the approval of the grave Varg and all his people.

After an hour's brisk trot they came to a tall, wide-spreading mimosa that stood quite separate from all the other trees, in solitary state. It was almost in the centre of the narrow plain, and midway between the river bank and the strip of forest land. Beautiful in grace and dignity was the splendid tree, and its slender branches bore thick masses of green and glossy leaves. The large, deep-green leaves were at the top, and protected the delicate young shoots that spread underneath.

Umpo looked at the leaves longingly. They have always been the favorite food of giraffes, and the wanderer had not met with many mimosa trees while on his travels.

"This is the Sacred Tree that gives good luck and health and fortune to every animal in our land," said Varg, bowing his head in lowly fashion. "If it is injured in any way, troubles of many kinds will quickly overtake us. The one great Law of the tribes of Jomb is to guard it reverently. To pluck or destroy one leaf means death to the culprit." Umpo laughed.

"I wish for luck!" he cried. "Therefore the Sacred Tree shall be as sacred to me as to any animal in all Jomb."

"It is well," answered Varg, and straightway trotted back to his feeding grounds again.

Umpo wandered on to explore the extent of his new home, and it surely seemed that the young giraffe had little difficulty in making friends with all the tribes. His appearance doubtless surprise them, for never had such a creature been seen or even heard of before in that country; but for this very reason they looked upon him with favor, as a credit to the community, and he was so harmless in appearance and so merry in his ways that he became a welcome visitor wherever he chose to roam.

Also he was playful in disposition and loved to indulge in mischievous though harmless pranks; and with all his seeming helplessness he was quite indifferent to danger.

He would leap upon the broad back of a hippopotamus and let the huge beast swim the river for hours, while he stood upright and enjoyed the ride. The bearer would sometimes sink under the surface of the water and give Umpo a ducking; but he could swim, too, although not well, and always managed to reach the bank in safety. He laughed at the joke, instead of being angry, and the hippopotami were always glad when their jolly friend came to the river bank.

With the ostriches, also, Umpo had much mischievous fun. He would give a sudden, shrill cry to fill their timid hearts with terror and make them hide their heads deep within the sands. And then, while they stood thus, he played leap-frog with them, vaulting over their bodies with great nimbleness and laughing at the shudders they gave as his hoofs rested upon their broad backs.

It was with Slythe the Panther that Umpo had most difficulty in forming a friendship; for Slythe was of fierce nature and treacherous disposition, and his sleepy red eyes had a way of looking at the giraffe that made the stranger both uneasy and anxious.

"It is peace between us," the Panther would say, purring, as he lay crouched along a limb in his forest lair. "Go your way, Umpo, and fear not."

But Umpo was not entirely satisfied. "These meat-eaters are not to be trusted," he said to himself, "and if Varg the Bull and Pask the Hippopotamus and Feathro the Ostrich had not given me their protection, I am quite sure Slythe the Panther would eat me for his breakfast."

And therein lay the truth of the whole matter; for Slythe dared not prey upon one who was a favorite with all the other animals of the Land of Jomb; yet he longed most passionately to eat the giraffe.

Umpo grew rapidly, and became tall and graceful and very beautiful to look upon. His sleek coat was of fawn color upon the back and sides, dotted with gorgeous orange-red spots; but his breast was white as snow. His eyes, full, dark and brilliant, shone like cut-jewels.

But, although the animals admired his beauty, it was his genial disposition that most won them.

There were several groups of tropical trees scattered over the plain, and upon the juicy leaves of these the giraffe daily fed, reaching with his long neck even to the top branches. A few straggling mimosas were among these trees, but Umpo soon stripped the branches of every leaf, and grieved because there were no more.

When he became especially hungry he would visit the Sacred Tree and feast his eyes upon its luscious foliage; but he was loyal to his friends and respected his promise and left the great mimosa tree undisturbed.

Slythe watched him from his high perch near the edge of the forest; and as Umpo longed for the mimosa leaves so Slythe longed for Umpo. Indeed, his mouth watered every minute the jolly giraffe was in sight, and he licked his fierce chops and tried to think of some way to secure his prey without making the other animals his enemies.

At last the thought came to him.

One evening Umpo gazed upon the Sacred Tree and left the marks of his hoofs upon the soft ground underneath. Next morning all the young leaves of the tree were gone, and the branches were broken and mangled.

Slythe came bounding toward Varg the Bull and cried out: "Come quickly! Great trouble is upon the land. Bad luck will surely overtake us, for Umpo the Giraffe has despoiled the Sacred Tree to satisfy his wicked appetite!"

Varg came, and was angry with a mighty anger.

"The Jolly One shall die!" he said.

"I crave the right to kill him," cried the Red Pan-ther, quickly; "for am I not the executioner?"

To them they summoned from the river Pask the Hippopotamus, and from the desert Feathro the Ostrich, and the four chiefs of the Land of Jomb examined the hoof-marks and decided that the giraffe was the guilty one and must by punished by death as the Law provided.

Umpo was lying in the shade of a clump of trees that morning, his long neck stretched along the grass. And suddenly a Voice fell upon his ears, saying: "Your enemy threatens you, and danger is near. But do not lose heart. Be brave and of good cheer, and all will be well!"

While he thought upon this message, and wondered what it could mean - never guessing that the good Fairy of his race had spoken - a great clamor arose across the plain. And presently the four chiefs came tramping toward him, followed by a vast concourse of other animals. And now, indeed, Umpo realized that danger threatened him.

So, when all the beasts had gravely surrounded him and he had cast a glance into Varg's threatening eyes, the giraffe but raised his head to yawn as if half asleep, saying: "Welcome, friends! What may I do for your pleasure?"

"You may die the death of a traitor!" roared Varg, sternly; "for you have broken the one great Law, and despoiled the Sacred Tree."

"Nonsense!" returned the giraffe, lightly; and then slowly he rose to his feet and laughed in their fierce faces.

"A traitor must die, it is true; if, in fact, the Sacred Mimosa has been despoiled," said he. "But I am not the traitor, friends; so let us look elsewhere for the culprit."

Slythe lashed the ground angrily with his strong tail.

"I myself saw you eat of the leaves and break the branches," he growled.

"The Lord of the Forest lies as easily upon the plain as within his lair," Umpo answered, scornfully. "Good friends, I am hungry this very moment, and when you came near I was just wondering where I might get a breakfast."

The animals thronging about him exchanged uneasy glances with one another. Umpo, it seemed to them, did not appear to act as a culprit. Moreover, the Red Panther was not considered especially trustworthy. But Varg said:

"Enough! The word of a Chief is better than that of an outcast and a stranger in our land. Who else feeds upon the mimosa other than this long-necked one? Who else would violate the one great law? His very nature condemns him. Therefore will we give the giraffe to Slythe the Panther for punishment. Is it not just, my friends?" he added, turning to the other Lords.

"It is just," answered Pask the Hippopotamus. But as he turned away a tear glittered in his small eye.

"It is the Law, and Umpo must suffer," sighed Feathro the Ostrich, and his tone was exceedingly sad.

"Ah, well," said Umpo, raising his head proudly and gazing full at his relentless judges; "if you are determined upon my death I choose to be executed within the dark forest where Slythe rules. And I invite every one present who has been my friend to follow us and witness the deed, that you may know full justice is done."

This request surprised the assembled beasts, for it is their nature to wish to die alone and unwatched; but the Unseen Voice had again spoken to Umpo, although no ears but his own had heard the sound.

Slythe's cruel lips were grinning with joy as he marched away; but the animals followed with solemn tread.

When they reached the edge of the forest Slythe stopped; but the giraffe said, quietly: "Not here, my master," and pressed forward among the trees.

The Panther glowered upon him with sullen fury.

"Wait," he cried.

"Not so," answered Umpo, still walking on. "Surely I may choose the place of execution!" And at his word the animals followed after, forcing Slythe to proceed.

Suddenly the Jolly One paused in the thick of the wood.

"What a heap of dead leaves is here!" he said. "Let us scatter them, friends, and see what they chance to hide."

With a snarl of rage Slythe bounded forward; but Varg, who had been watching the giraffe closely, got in the Panther's way and stopped him.

"Have peace!" he commanded, sternly. "What can you have to fear in your own forest, Slythe?"

But even as he spoke the giraffe had scattered the dead leaves, and underneath them all saw, as eagerly they stretched their heads forward, the branches of delicate green which had been torn from the Sacred Tree.

The secret was out, then.

Slythe the Panther, in his anxiety to ruin Umpo, had himself despoiled the tree and hidden the stolen leaves.

A roar of rage burst from the assembled animals.

The sound, grim and menacing, aroused the astonished Slythe. Crouching low, he made a mighty bound toward the high branches of a nearby tree, seeking to escape. But even while he was poised in midair the head of the giraffe shot out and struck the flying body a sharp blow that hurled the panther to the ground again.

He fell at the feel of Varg, and instantly the furious bull gored the wicked one. And Feathro the Ostrich struck the Panther a blow with its foot, and Pask the Hippopotamus trampled the body of the traitor deep into the ground.

Then they heaped the place with dead leaves, after which Varg said, more gently than was his wont:

"The punishment is complete. Let us go away."

And now the strangest event of that eventful day occurred. For as the army of beasts drew near to the Sacred Tree they saw, with inexpressible wonder and awe, that every broken leaf and branch had been replaced by some magic power, and the great Mimosa swayed in the soft breeze as graceful and perfect in shape as ever before!

And all knew by this sign that Umpo the Giraffe was under the protection of the Fairies of his race.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 9, 1918.

Some More Puzzles

The Forgetful Poet was so busy packing his trunk that he had only time for one verse. (Perhaps it's just as well.) He says one word will answer all the blanks. I asked him if it was blank verse, and he was quite offended. The warm weather does make one captious, does it not? Well, anyway, here's his poem:

She wore a dress of beauteous ------,
The little girl I mention;
The window ------ was up,
That's how 'twas brought to my attention.

I saw her sitting on another day
Beneath a tree
Enjoying there the pleasant ------
In sweet complacency.

The ------s of night were falling,
As I saw the girl once more,
This time beside the lamp ------
She sat reading 'bout the war!

Last week's answers were railroad tie, a bagpipe, hornpipe, firedog, clothes horse, a magpie and a crane.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2007 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007


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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 1, 1919.

Once upon a time four little rabbits were left carrotless and salad-leafless by the sudden death of their parents. Though hardly old enough to marry and support themselves, the four little creatures set bravely out upon their adventures. They were not burdened with many possessions, for everything in the house had been sold by the hard-hearted hedgehog from whom they rented their cottage to pay what he claimed as back rent.

The four brothers hopped along in silence, each trying to plan a way to earn his living. The oldest brother, who had always been considered very clever at home, was the first to speak.

"Sad as it seems," said he, "we must separate, for were we four to apply for work altogether, for a nights' lodging, or for food which we sorely need, we would surely meet with refusal. Let us follow the road till we come to a crossing. I myself will leave you at the first road branching off from this. Then let Peter take the next, Jonathan the third, and little Bill the fourth."

The other three saw the wisdom of their brother's speech and much as they grieved at the thought of parting agreed to follow his advice.

"Who can tell what riches may await us," he finished bravely.

"But shall we never meet again, dear brother," quavered little Peter.

"That will be as it may," said the oldest brother. "Fortunes are not made in a day, and 'tis a mighty large world we are faring in." Then seeing the little fellow so downcast he added:

"Suppose we agree to meet behind our old home two years from now and compare our experiences." The others joyfully agreed, and just then they arrived at the first crossroad. Bidding them an affectionate farewell Terry, the oldest little orphan rabbit, started down the side road and was soon lost to sight.

Not long after that Peter's turn came, then Jonathan's, and last of all little Bill's. And by nightfall each was traveling a different road with all his wits about him.

Time passed and went on, as it has a way of doing, and first thing you know two years had rolled by. The old hedgehog, who now lived in the little rabbits' house, nearly burst with astonishment one early spring evening, for approaching was a rabbit whose elegance and prosperity surpassed anything he had ever seen. He bowed as low as he possibly could, and wished the stranger a fine evening, but the rabbit never turned his head, but went into the woods back of the house and sat down after carefully dusting the ground with a blue linen handkerchief.

While old Mr. Hedgehog ran to fetch his wife two more rabbits appeared, even more elegant than the first one. The hedgehogs looking from a back window saw the three distinguished travelers embrace; then each turned expectantly toward the road, and to the astonishment of the old couple in the window, along came another young gentleman rabbit, fine as any of the others. All three rushed upon him, and such a hugging as they gave him! No wonder; it was Bill, the littlest orphan!

"We all seem to have prospered," remarked Terry, eyeing his brothers with pride and approval, "and now let each of us tell his story."

"You begin," cried the three in unison, and thus Terry related his adventures. The road that he took had led straight into an impenetrable forest, and though several times so terrified that he was near to turning back, Terry ventured into its depths and blundered in the dark into a lion's cave. With every hair on end he waited for the beast to finish him, but when his eyes had become accustomed to the gloom he saw that the poor creature was rolling in agony.

At the door of the cave he heard mighty rumbles and roars, and being a rabbit of such presence of mind he hastily closed and double-bolted the big doors, and then turned to the groaning lion. A short glance told him that the lion was suffering from epigrogulous, which he had often been troubled with himself. Finding every convenience and luxury in the cave he proceeded to ease the poor beast, and in the course of a few days had him up in a chair eating gruel. To the continual thumpings and scratchings at the door of the cave he paid no attention, and when the lion was able to talk - I mean to roar - he told Terry that he was a king, and that the other beasts were about to kill and depose him when he arrived and thoughtfully barred the door.

"Since then," finished Terry, fingering his gold watch chain, "I've been prime minister, enjoying every delicacy and privilege." The other brothers were delighted with Terry's good fortune; then all listened attentively to Peter's recital.

The road he had taken ran straight to a big city Much confused by the noise and dust Peter darted into a low doorway. No sooner had he done so than he was seized by the ears and lifted into the air. Though much shaken, he wished the creature who held him a good day and inquired of what service he might be.

"If you will but make her majesty laugh, then my fortune and your own likewise is made," said a voice, and looking up Peter perceived he was held by a poor though handsome youth. Declaring he was not averse to the work Peter required the youth to set him on the ground. The boy then explained that the queen, her majesty, had not smiled in seven years, and that the king had offered three bags of gold to the man who could coax her royal highness to smile. "You made me laugh so when you ran in here with your ears flying out behind that I know you can make the queen laugh in spite of herself." "So I did," chuckled Peter proudly, "and now the boy has married the princess and we're court favorites. Imagine!"

Now came Jonathan's story. He had followed the road down to the edge of a river, and not knowing how to cross had sat down upon the bank to think of a way to make his fortune. As he sat thus a fish thrust his head above the water, and wished him good evening. And in just no time they had gotten into a conversation, and like a flash came Jonathan's inspiration.

"Do not you people need a watchman?" Jonathan inquired breathlessly, and went on to explain how he would sit on the bank of the river and warn them below when fishermen were about. The fish was delighted and disappeared to consult the other creatures in the riverbed, with the result that Jonathan was unanimously elected watchman, and was so munificently rewarded from treasures of the deep that he had set up a wonderful castle (hidden from men very ingeniously by shrubbery), and there he lived in elegance and luxury.

Little Bill had been trying to conceal his impatience during the recital of his brother's adventures, and he now burst forth with his story. His road, he said, had gone on and on growing wigglier and wigglier until it finally disappeared altogether in a pretty green woods. Being tired he lay down beneath a tree to rest, and had just composed himself for slumber when the sound of someone crying made him spring up to search for the cause. Under a toadstool he found a little fairy boy who had lost his way. Bill, being lonely and lost himself, took the little fellow in his arms and they were both soon fast asleep. When Bill wakened he was in the most wonderful country in the world in the midst of a circle of charming little people.

It seems that the fairy's mother had found them and was so grateful to Bill for taking care of her baby that she wished him immediately in Fairyland, where he had lived ever since, "and the only animal there!" he concluded with great satisfaction.

The brothers were so delighted with the way their fortunes had turned out that they embraced all over again, and after promising to return to the same spot in one year Terry went back to the king of the impenetrable forest, Peter to the princess in the big city, Jonathan to his castle by the river and little Bill back to the finest place of all - Fairyland. Were they not clever little orphans?

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 2, 1918.

Puzzles and So Forth

The Forgetful Poet had a great idea. He says it is great, and I quite agree with him. For the two best answers to his puzzles each week he will send two thrift stamps. Are you saving and serving? Come along, then, and see if you cannot win one today.

Seeing Things

I saw a tie that wouldn't tie -
A tie that wasn't worn;
A pipe that wasn't smoked nor soaked,
And after that a horn

That wasn't piped nor on a cow;
A dog that didn't bark;
A horse that couldn't eat or run -
Aho! Now, what a lark!

A pie that wasn't eaten
And that seemed to be a bird,
A bird much use in building -
Well, how perfectly absurd!
(I should say so!)

Last week's answers were: Courtly judge, courthouse, courting, (tennis court) and cortege. Lock of hair, locked and locket. Something wild and yet sought by every one - wild flowers.

Send your answers to the Fortgetful Poet, care of the Public Ledger.

[Answers next time. This is a historical reprinting of Ruth Plumly Thompson's work. No thrift stamps are currently being offered, so don't send your answers in. (Besides, World War One is long over.) The answers offered above are not the answers to the Forgetful Poet feature in the April 2007 Tiger Tale. The answers to that feature are: crackers, tops. Eagle-eyed, lion-hearted, dog days, horse sense, and doggerel.]

Copyright © 2007 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.