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.