Monday, December 1, 2008


Adapted and Illustrated by W. W. Denslow
Author of The Scarecrow and the Tin-Man of Oz, and illustrator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dot and Tot of Merryland, Father Goose: His Book, etc.

Originally published in the New York Herald, December 14, 1902.

Humpty Junior bows to a little girl
You all remember how Humpty Dumpty
Fell from a wall and was so much bumped he
Couldn't be possibly patched again
By all the King's horses and his men.
But maybe you never heard tell he left
A dear little son of his care bereft,
A round little chap with a smile so wide,
And a great gold heart in his little inside.

Of getting along his chance was slim,
Till an old hen mother adopted him.
She made him snug in a straw filled nest,
And covered him up with her feathered breast.
But he wanted to go, this adventurous lad,
And see the world, as his father had.

Humpty Junior and the Hen
"All right," said the Hen, "If you wish to roam,
Take my advice ere you leave this home.
You'll probably climb on great high walls,
As your father did, and you may have falls;
And likely as not you'll break your leg,
Or get smashed up like a scrambled egg.

"I know a way to avoid all that.
Go to yon farm house, quick as "scat,"
And ask of the housewife if she's got
A kettle of water boiling hot.
And if she has, why, you jump right in,
Although the water will scald your skin.
Stay ten minutes and then jump out,
And you will find when you run about
You can tumble and roll to your fullest bent,
And never receive a crack or dent."

Humpty Junior jumped into a copper pot

So Humpty Junior, as good as gold,
Took the advice as he was told,
And jumped right into a copper pot
Of water steaming and boiling hot.
And there he stayed, though it hurt at first
And he felt that his little skin would burst.
But courage to him the thought would lend
That he was dodging his pa's sad end.

After awhile he tumbled out
And started at once to run about.
He frolicked and leaped in ecstasy,
He rolled and he stumbled, just to see
If his head he'd break, or his skin be spoiled,
And he cried, "Oh, joy, I am quite hard-boiled!"

Humpty Junior and the Housewife

His heart, he found, wouldn't rattle 'round
When he fell from a table to the ground,
And he giggled to find he would not smash
When he jumped from the mantel with a crash.
Oh, tickled indeed was Humpty D.,
The happiest egg you'd ever see!

The last I heard of this hard-boiled chap
He was hardened to every knock or rap.
And tumbling 'round with a gladsome whoop
As acrobat in a circus troupe.
And he'd say, "I lay my success in life
To the good old Hen and the Farmer's Wife,
Who taught me early the only way
To get along, which I'm pleased to say,
Is good advice for both eggs and folks,
People with hearts, or eggs with yolks.

Humpty Junior as acrobat

A fresh egg never can prosper 'steady.'
Don't leave home till you're good and ready."

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, November 3, 1918.



The Forgetful Poet stubbed his thumb and cannot send in any puzzles, but when his head is better he will send some. That's just what he said, so you needn't blame me if it sounds funny.

Last week's answers were: A potato has a jacket, but no vest; a wave has no family, yet a crest; mines are like peaches because they have pits, and battlefields like beaches because they are strewn with shells. The Kaiser is like a prune because he has a stone heart, and a Scotchman like a dune because he is full of sand. And here is a puzzle I made up my ownself:

What runs up and down and yet stands still;
Why is a man's face like a hill?

Copyright © 2008 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


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 Mother Goose in Prose, 1897, revised for L. Frank Baum's Juvenile Speaker, 1910.

"Pussy-cat, Pussy-cat, where do you go?"
"To London, to visit the palace, you know."
"Pussy-cat Mew, will you come back again?"
"Oh, yes! I'll scamper with might and with main!"

Pussy-cat Mew now set off on her way,
Stepping quite softly and feeling right gay.
Smooth was the road, so she travelled at ease,
Warmed by the sunshine and fanned by the breeze.

Over the hills to the valleys below,
Through the deep woods where soft mosses grow,
Skirting the fields, with buttercups dotted,
Swiftly our venturesome Pussy-cat trotted.

Sharp watch she kept when a village she neared,
For mischievous boys our Pussy-cat feared.
Often she crept through the meadows so deep
To pass a fierce dog that was lying asleep.

Once, as she walked through a sweet-clover field,
Something beside her affrightedly squealed,
And swift from her path there darted away
A tiny field-mouse, with fur of soft gray.

"Here," thought our Puss, "is chance for a dinner;
If I outrun him, I'll be the winner!"
Quickly she started the mouse to give chase--
Over the clover they ran a great race.

Just as it seemed that our Pussy would win
The mouse spied a hole and quickly popped in;
Thus he escaped, for the hole was so small
Pussy-cat couldn't squeeze in it at all.

Softly she crouched, and with eyes big and round
Steadily watched that small hole in the ground.
"Mousie may think he's escaped me," she said,
"I'll get him sure if he sticks out his head!"

While she was watching the poor mouse's plight
The growl of a dog our Puss did affright;
She gave a great cry, then started to run
Swift as a bullet that's shot from a gun.

"Meow! Oh, meow!" our poor Puss did say;
"Woof!" barked the dog, who was not far away.
O'er fields and ditches they scampered apace,
O'er fence and hedge-row they kept up the race.

Then Pussy saw just before her a tree;
Safety she knew in its branches there'd be;
So up the tree with a bound did she go,
Leaving the big dog to growl down below.

Now, by good fortune, a man came that way,
Calling the dog, who was forced to obey;
But Puss stayed aloft until she well knew
Both dog and man had passed far out of view.

Pursuing her way, at nightfall she came
To London, a town you know well by name,
And wandering 'round in byway and street
A strange Pussy-cat she happened to meet.

"Good evening," said Pussy-cat Mew. "Pray tell
Where the good Queen and her family dwell.
Being a stranger I'm anxious to see
How a Queen looks and how fair she may be."

"Oh," said the other, "you really must know
Strangers are never permitted to go
Inside the palace, unless invited;
We're of a race persistently slighted!

"Still, I've discovered an excellent way
To enter the palace all times of day
In spite of the guards, so just come with me
If you're ambitious our good Queen to see."

Puss thanked her friend, and together they stole
Back of the palace and crept through a hole
Leading by devious ways to a stair
Which they ascended with praiseworthy care.

"Here I must leave you," the strange Pussy said.
"Don't be a 'fraid-cat, but go straight ahead.
Don't be alarmed if by chance you are seen;
People will think you belong to the Queen."

Pussy-cat Mew did as she had been told,
Crept through the palace so cautious and bold
Soon she arrived where the Queen sat in state,
Mid lords and ladies and counsellors great.

There in a corner our Pussy sat down,
Gazed at the sceptre and blinked at the crown,
Eyed the Queen's dress, all of purple and gold--
Surely a beautiful sight to behold!

But, of a sudden, she started, for there
Sat a gray mouse, crouched just under the chair
Where her Majesty sat, and Pussy well knew
'Twould frighten the Queen if it came into view.

So toward the chair our Pussy-cat stole--
Now the mouse saw her and ran for its hole
Pussy dashed after, and during the race
A terrible panic of fear took place!

Ladies all sprang on their chairs in alarm,
Lords drew their swords to protect them from harm;
The Queen gave a scream and fainted away--
An act quite undignified, I must say.

Some one yelled "Burglars!" and some cried "Treason!"
Some one howled "Murder!" none knew the reason;
Some one shrieked "Fire! they are burning the house!"
Some one said "Silence! it's only a mouse!"

Pussy-cat Mew was so awfully scared
By shouting and screams, she no longer dared
Remain in the room, so without delay
She rushed from the place and scampered away.

With fur bristling out and heart beating fast
Down the straight road that led homeward she passed.
"What business," she thought, "has a poor country cat
To visit a city of madmen like that?"

"Straight home will I go, where I am well fed,
Where mistress is kind, and soft is my bed;
Let other cats travel, if they would fain roam,
But as for myself, I'll now stay at home!"

So over the valleys and green hills she ran,
Jouneying fast as a Pussy-cat can,
Till, just as the dawn of day did begin,
She reached her old home and softly stole in.

There was the fire, with the pot boiling on it;
There was the maid, in her blue checkered bonnet;
There was the corner where Pussy oft basked;
There was the mistress, who eagerly asked:

"Pussy-cat, Pussy-cat, where have you been?"
"Ive been to London, to visit the Queen."
"Pussy-cat, Pussy-cat, what did you there?"
"Frightened a little mouse under the chair!"

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October, 27 1918.


Some Nuts for the Puzzle Guessers to Crack

Puzzles are like nuts--easy to get at when you know how. Let's see if you do. (These sound rather like the Forgetful Poet, although no name was sent in with them.)

? ? ? ?

What has a jacket, yet no vest;
What has no family yet a crest?

Why do mines resemble peaches,
And battlefields resemble beaches?

Why is the Kaiser like a prune;
Why is a Scotchman like a dune?

Last week's answers were: A penny is like a book because it is read; a garden is like a cook because it is flowery (floury); a table like a tree because it has leaves and a mining camp like the sea because it has breakers; pins are rich because they have pin money; trains are like athletes because they run on tracks, and guns like pains because pains often shoot.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2008 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 1, 1918.

There was once a King whose foot was so large that he had to have special shoes measured and made for him! And yet no one dared so much as mention the fact. And worse, besides - to make his own less conspicuous every one in his kingdom was forced to wear shoes twice as long as he needed. You can imagine how they looked and how they felt and the noise they made galumping down the streets of the realm.

No wonder visitors called them the Boxtoes and Hammerheels, and no wonder they were cross and fretful. Wherever they went they put their foot in it, as the saying goes, and in no kingdom I have ever heard of were there so many tumbles and spills. They fell up stairs and they slid down; they sprawled upon the sidewalks. Really it was terrible! And they were so cross!

It was all the fault of the King, vain creature that he was. Time and again the Princess and the Queen begged him to repeal the shoe law, but he stubbornly shook his head and there was an end to it.

Poor little Princess! What a mortification to go humping about in slippers three feet long, especially when her own little feet were so small and shapely.

The Court dances were too funny for words, 'cause with such big shoes one simply couldn't be graceful, and one never knew whether he was treading on his partner's toes or not, for every one's slippers were stuffed with paper. Imagine! Not to mention the expense!

Well, things could but go so-so in such a kingdom as this; people shuffled through their daily tasks and pleasures with no joy whatever.

The King tried to make up for matters in other ways, but it was no use. People simply could not be cheerful with big feet. Among themselves it was not so bad, but when strangers passed through the kingdom it was mortifying to have them laugh. They really thought, of course, that all the people did have huge feet, and, as one would lose his head by stating otherwise, the poor subjects could not explain.

It was especially bad for the Princess. Her pictures in the foreign papers attracted great attention, and suitors came in scores to ask for her hand.

But always it was the same. One horrified look at those three-foot slippers and everything was over. With silk handkerchiefs stuffed in the their mouths to keep from laughing, the princes, dukes and lords would spring upon their horses and gallop away at top speed.

The Queen wept buckets of tears, but the Princess, who was a plucky little body, declared that if they did not love her well enough to take her shoes and all, then they might gallop away as fast as they pleased. Which was pretty fast!

The story spread and spread, and people from neighboring kingdoms came on pretended errands to see for themselves the big-footed people and the beautiful Princess with slippers three feet long.

The foolish old King thought they came to pay him honor and spent his whole evenings writing speeches of welcome.

Now one Prince was so charmed with the Princess's picture that he resolved to wed her - big feet or not - if she proved as amiable as she looked. Disguising himself as a fiddler he got into the kingdom and was pretty soon singing under the Princess's window. Day after day he came, and every day fell more and more in love.

As for the Princess, she thought she had never seen so handsome and gallant a suitor. He never even glanced at her disfiguring slippers when they met in the garden. "Here is a man lowly of birth, but still worthy of my love!" she reflected.

So without a word to any one, they decided to elope. One day when the King and court were having tea in the garden, they heard a clatter in the road and, looking over the hedge, beheld the Princess mounting behind the fiddler.

"Catch them, after them. My daughter is eloping with a rogue of a fiddler," roared the King A hundred started up, but they fell over their own feet and each other's feet, and not till the couple were far away did they manage to untangle themselves.

As for the King - he fell down the whole twenty flights of marble steps on his head, and from that time on was never the same. He could remember nothing , least of all, laws and such. It did not take his subjects long to kick off their huge shoes, and go skipping about in proper-sized ones, I can tell you.

As for the Princess and the Prince, they are happier than any royal couple you ever heard of, because he loved her well enough to overlook a three-foot slipper and she loved him well enough to marry him when she thought him a poor traveling musician, which is true love or I never have seen it!

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 20, 1918.


The Forgetful Poet's Riddles

The words which the old fellow left out of his verse last week came flying in on dozens and dozens of pieces of paper. "What's the use of finishing rhymes when the boys and girls can do it just as well!" he chuckled, when I turned them over to him. The right words were: Wise, Ground, Fence and Year.

This week he wants to know all of these things:

Why is a penny like a book?
Why is a garden like cook?

Why is a cable like a tree?
Why is a mining camp like the sea?

Why are pigs rich? And why are trains
Like athletes, and guns like pains?

Copyright © 2008 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 1, 2008


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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, March 14, 1920.

One day a frog, who was invited to a party, took off his skin to mend a tear in the back. It was such a drowsy day that he fell fast asleep, and along came a bad little fairy.

Now, this little fairy had heard all about the big froggie party and wanted to go very much; but, of course, she had not been invited, so when she saw the frog's skin she gave a little chuckle, and then she flew away with it. The whirr of her wings awakened the frog, and when he found his skin gone you can imagine his state of mind. It's a terrible thing to sit around without any skin. Wrapping himself up in a damp leaf, he hurried home and told his family. But not being able to fly after the fairy, they could not help him, and so he was obliged to go to bed instead of going to the party.

The little fairy meanwhile slipped on the frog's skin and practiced hopping, and when 8 o'clock came she went leaping to the pond bank where the party was to be held. First they danced all round and the fairy just loved it, but next thing, while they were all in a big ring, they all dived under water, and before the fairy could let go hands she almost drowned. Wet and miserable, she managed to rise to the top of the water, but an old bullfrog ran after her and insisted that she eat a plate of worm salad, holding firmly to her hand until she finished. Then he serenaded her in a horrible voice. While he was singing, with his eyes closed and his head thrown back, she managed to slip away. Tearing off the frog skin, she threw it under a big weed and ran home as fast as she could patter. All of which leads me to observe that what is pleasing to a frog is extremely distasteful to a fairy. Never steal another's skin. The poor frog found his skin, but he never felt the same toward fairies, and he never took it off again, so far as I know.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 13, 1918.

The Forgetful Poet Again

I am sure I do not know what the dear fellow will be up to next. For a man of his years he is surely active. These verses are interesting but incomplete. I can get them all but one - maybe you can guess them all.


I'm taking riding lessons -
I need the exercise;
In fact, the doctor recommended
Such a course as ------

Among a lot of other things
About it I have found,
As noted by an esteemed friend,
The hardest part's the ------

Quite suddenly I found this out
One day while going hence.
I was unseated violently
While trying to take a ------

Though many bruises I've sustained
I still will persevere,
An maybe will be expert
At the sport another ------

Copyright © 2008 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 1, 2008


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

Originally published 1913.

In the splendid palace of the Emerald City, which is in the center of the fairy Land of Oz, is a great Throne Room, where Princess Ozma, the Ruler, for an hour each day sits in a throne of glistening emeralds and listens to all the troubles of her people, which they are sure to tell her about. Around Ozma's throne, on such occasions, are grouped all the important personages of Oz, such as the Scarecrow, Jack Pumpkinhead, Tiktok the Clockwork Man, the Tin Woodman, the Wizard of Oz, the Shaggy Man and other famous fairy people. Little Dorothy usually has a seat at Ozma's feet, and crouched on either side the throne are two enormous beasts known as the Hungry Tiger and the Cowardly Lion.

These two beasts are Ozma's chief guardians, but as everyone loves the beautiful girl Princess there has never been any disturbance in the great Throne Room, or anything for the guardians to do but look fierce and solemn and keep quiet until the Royal Audience is over and the people go away to their homes.

Of course no one would dare be naughty while the huge Lion and Tiger crouched beside the throne; but the fact is, the people of Oz are very seldom naughty. So Ozma's big guards are more ornamental than useful, and no one realizes that better than the beasts themselves.

One day, after everybody had left the Throne Room except the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger, the Lion yawned and said to his friend:

"I'm getting tired of this job. No one is afraid of us and no one pays any attention to us."

"That is true," replied the big Tiger, purring softly. "We might as well be in the thick jungles where we were born, as trying to protect Ozma when she needs no protection. And I'm dreadfully hungry all the time."

"You have enough to eat, I'm sure," said the Lion, swaying his tail slowly back and forth.

"Enough, perhaps; but not the kind of food I long for," answered the Tiger. "What I'm hungry for is fat babies. I have a great desire to eat a few fat babies. Then, perhaps, the people of Oz would fear me and I'd become more important."

"True," agreed the Lion. "It would stir up quite a rumpus if you ate but one fat baby. As for myself, my claws are sharp as needles and strong as crowbars, while my teeth are powerful enough to tear a person to pieces in a few seconds. If I should spring upon a man and make chop suey of him, there would be wild excitement in the Emerald City and the people would fall upon their knees and beg me for mercy. That, in my opinion, would render me of considerable importance."

"After you had torn the person to pieces, what would you do next?" asked the Tiger sleepily.

"Then I would roar so loudly it would shake the earth and stalk away to the jungle to hide myself, before anyone could attack me or kill me for what I had done."

"I see," nodded the Tiger. "You are really cowardly."

"To be sure. That is why I am named the Cowardly Lion. That is why I have always been so tame and peaceable. But I'm awfully tired of being tame," added the Lion, with a sigh, "and it would be fun to raise a row and show people what a terrible beast I really am."

The Tiger remained silent for several minutes, thinking deeply as he slowly washed his face with his left paw. Then he said:

"I'm getting old, and it would please me to eat at least one fat baby before I die. Suppose we surprise these people of Oz and prove our power. What do you say? We will walk out of here just as usual and the first baby we meet I'll eat in a jiffy, and the first man or woman you meet you will tear to pieces. Then we will both run out of the city gates and gallop across the country and hide in the jungle before anyone can stop us."

"All right; I'm game," said the Lion, yawning again so that he showed two rows of dreadfully sharp teeth.

The Tiger got up and stretched his great, sleek body.

"Come on," he said. The Lion stood up and proved he was the larger of the two, for he was almost as big as a small horse.

Out of the palace they walked, and met no one. They passed through the beautiful grounds, past fountains and beds of lovely flowers, and met no one. Then they unlatched a gate and entered a street of the city, and met no one.

"I wonder how a fat baby will taste," remarked the Tiger, as they stalked majestically along side by side.

"I imagine it will taste like nutmegs," said the Lion.

"No," said the Tiger, "I've an idea it will taste like gumdrops."

They turned a corner, but met no one, for the people of the Emerald City were accustomed to take their naps at this hour of the afternoon.

"I wonder how many pieces I ought to tear a person into," said the Lion, in a thoughtful voice.

"Sixty would be about right," suggested the Tiger.

"Would that hurt any more than to tear one into a dozen pieces?" inquired the Lion, with a little shudder.

"Who cares whether it hurts or not?" growled the Tiger.

The Lion did not reply. They entered a side street, but met no one.

Suddenly they heard a child crying.

"Aha!" exclaimed the Tiger. "There is my meat."

He rushed around a corner, the Lion following, and came upon a nice fat baby sitting in the middle of the street and crying as if in great distress.

"What's the matter?" asked the Tiger, crouching before the baby.

"I--I--I-lost my m-m-mamma!" wailed the baby.

"Why, you poor little thing," said the great beast, softly stroking the child's head with its paw. "Don't cry, my dear; for mamma can't be far away and I'll help you to find her."

"Go on," said the Lion, who stood by.

"Go on where?" asked the Tiger, looking up.

"Go on and eat your fat baby."

"Why, you dreadful creature!" said the Tiger reproachfully; "would you want me to eat a poor little lost baby, that doesn't know where its mother is?" And the beast gathered the little one into its strong, hairy arms and tried to comfort it by rocking it gently back and forth.

The Lion growled low in his throat and seemed very much disappointed; but at that moment a scream reached their ears and a woman came bounding out of a house and into the street. Seeing her baby in the embrace of the monster Tiger the woman screamed again and rushed forward to rescue it, but in her haste she caught her foot in her skirt and tumbled head over heels and heels over head, stopping with such a bump that she saw many stars in the heavens, although it was broad daylight. And there she lay, in a helpless manner, all tangled up and unable to stir.

With one bound and a roar like thunder the huge Lion was beside her. With his strong jaws he grasped her dress and raised her into an upright position.

"Poor thing! Are you hurt?" he gently asked.

Gasping for breath the woman struggled to free herself and tried to walk, but she limped badly and tumbled down again.

"My baby!" she said pleadingly.

"The baby is all right; don't worry," replied the Lion; and then he added; "Keep quiet, now, and I'll carry you back to your house, and the Hungry Tiger will carry your baby."

The Tiger, who had approached the place with the child in its arms, asked in astonishment:

"Aren't you going to tear her into sixty pieces?"

"No, nor into six pieces," answered the Lion indignantly. "I'm not such a brute as to destroy a poor woman who has hurt herself trying to save her lost baby. If you are so ferocious and cruel and bloodthirsty, you may leave me and go away, for I do not care to associate with you."

"That's all right," answered the Tiger. "I'm not cruel--not in the least--I'm only hungry. But I thought you were cruel."

"Thank heaven I'm respectable," said the Lion, with dignity. He then raised the woman and with much gentleness carried her into her house, where he laid her upon a sofa. The Tiger followed with the baby, which he safely deposited beside its mother. The little one liked the Hungry Tiger and grasping the enormous beast by both ears the baby kissed the beast's nose to show he was grateful and happy.

"Thank you very much," said the woman. "I've often heard what good beasts you are, in spite of your power to do mischief to mankind, and now I know that the stories are true. I do not think either of you have ever had an evil thought."

The Hungry Tiger and the Cowardly Lion hung their heads and did not look into each other's eyes, for both were shamed and humbled. They crept away and stalked back through the streets until they again entered the palace grounds, where they retreated to the pretty, comfortable rooms they occupied at the back of the palace. There they silently crouched in their usual corners to think over their adventure.

After a while the Tiger said sleepily:

"I don't believe fat babies taste like gumdrops. I'm quite sure they have the flavor of raspberry tarts. My, how hungry I am for fat babies!"

The Lion grunted disdainfully.

"You're a humbug," said he.

"Am I?" retorted the Tiger, with a sneer.

"Tell me, then, into how many pieces you usually tear your victims, my bold Lion?"

The Lion impatiently thumped the floor with his tail.

"To tear anyone into pieces would soil my claws and blunt my teeth," he said. "I'm glad I didn't muss myself up this afternoon by hurting that poor mother."

The Tiger looked at him steadily and then yawned a wide, wide yawn.

"You're a coward," he remarked.

"Well," said the Lion, "it's better to be a coward than to do wrong."

"To be sure," answered the other. "And that reminds me that I nearly lost my own reputation. For, had I eaten that fat baby, I would not now be the Hungry Tiger. It's better to go hungry, seems to me, than to be cruel to a little child."

And then they dropped their heads on their paws and went to sleep.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 6, 1918.

The Forgetful Poet Has a Little Fling

From the sound of these verses I am very much afraid our old friend has been reading too much war news. He seems to have geography all mixed up with his housekeeping.

Last Night

The cat began to Persia,
The dog was looking silly--
I blew the fire up, for to tell
The truth, I felt quite Chili!

I put a Cuba sugar
In my Haiti--made me sneeze,
So I pulled the Afghan closer
Round my broadcloth-clad Chinese!

The chestnuts in the hot Japan
Were roasting, so I sat
Peru-sing of my paper and
A talking to my cat!

Copyright © 2008 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 21, 1916.

Little Miss Springtime, a Japanese doll.
Captain Good Wood, a gallant wooden soldier.
Six other wooden soldiers, his company.
Snarleygrow, the Kobold King.
Nine other Kobolds.
Plumpus, the Hoptoad.
Heatherblow, a kind fairy.
Nine other fairies.

A little girl dressed in Japanese costume may take the part of the Japanese doll. She could walk stiffly and jerkily and fan herself quite often. Captain Good Wood and his company should be boys dressed in costumes make of lining to represent as nearly as possible the uniforms of little wooden soldiers. Snarleygrow and the Kobolds should be dressed in brown lining suites with hoods; they should have false white beards and wrinkles chalked on with black charcoal. Plumpus should wear a dark green lining costume with big brown spots sewn over it. It should go up over the head and have places cut for the eyes and mouth. The fairies should be dressed in white and green tarletan, trimmed with small flowers if possible.

ACT I - In the Woods.

Choose for your stage a space between two trees so that the curtain may be stretched across. A Victrola with suitable records should be hidden in the bushes to serve as orchestra.

Little fairy, with long wand, steps in front of curtain, leans toward audience.

Fairy -
"Oh-h! I'll wave my wand
And, magnified, you'll see
Tiny Kobolds, fairy folk,
And toys as large as thee.
Sh-h! Sh-h! Fairy-folk are near.
Listen! Look! Strange things will happen here!"

Curtain goes up as fairy raises her wand, showing remains of a merry picnic party; a few huge pasteboard boxes with LUNCH printed on the lids shold be strewn about, several oranges and apples as large as a small child should be lying on the ground to show the relative size of the little Japanese doll. These can be made of yellow and red lining stuffed with paper. The Japanese doll herself is lying face down on the ground.

Gay music sounds in the distance. Heatherblow and the fairies step from behind the trees or come on from both sides, dance for about five minutes, exclaiming over oranges and apples. Then suddenly Heatherblow sees the little doll lying on her face. All the fairies bend curiously over her.

Heatherblow - What a cunning little lady!

Another fairy - But why is she lying here so stiff and still?

Still another - Let's turn her over!

They carefully roll the Japanese dolly over, she keeping as stiff and expressionless as possible. They pat her cheeks and feel her dress and prop her up to a sitting position.

Heatherblow - Oh, wouldn't she make a dear little playmate!

First fairy - But she's only a doll.

Other fairy (sadly) - Only a doll?

Heatherblow (suddenly) - But WHY couldn't we make her alive?

Second fairy - O-o-oh, think of the interesting things she could tell us.

All of the fairies (dancing and clapping their hands) - Let's! Let's! Let's make her alive!

They form a circle round her, and Heatherblow, touching her lightly with her wand, cries:
"Waken! Waken! From this hour
You shall live through fairies' power!"

The fairies fall back on each side of the little doll, who slowly and stiffly awakens, rises jerkily and starts to walk, looking all the time wonderingly at her feet and hands.

Heatherblow - Tell us! Tell us who are you?

Japanese Doll with stiff little gestures sings the following to the tune of "Three Little Maids From School!"" - Mikado - :
"Little Miss Springtime here, you see,
Left by her mistress, carelessly;
Left in the woods to DIE. Ah me!
Left in the woods to die.

"Back in the fort in the nursery,
Captain Good Wood waits for me;
But my love no more I'll see,
Never more I'll see!" (Weeps bitterly.)

Fairies surround her and pat her comfortingly on the back.

Heatherblow - Do not weep. We will fly off and find your brave captain. Just you wait here until we return.

Other fairy - Yes, wait here, and we will search east and west and everywhere, and will not return till we find him.

All dance off the stage.

Japanese doll (sleepily) - And I'll just take a nap while they are gone.

Curtain - End of Act I.


The same. Japanese doll still asleep. Hoarse voice singing:
"I'll find some slugs
And some good fat bugs,
And I'll gobble them up, up UP;
And then, dum-dee,
I'll make some tea
And drink a cup, cup CUP!"

Plumpus, the Hoptoad, comes jumping along looking about for bugs. Then, as he catches sight of the dolly, he stops and squats beside her.

Plumpus - She'll make me a neat little wife. Hey, can you roast a worm, girl, and make a spider stew? (Shakes her roughly.) Can you prepare a mud bath and help a fellow out of his skin?

Japanese doll (waking) - What - who - who - oh - oh, get away, you ugly creature!

Plumpus - Not till you go with me.

Catches her by arm and sings:
"Oh you shall stew,
And you shall brew,
And mend and sweep
And bake for two!"

Miss Springtime - Help! Help! Will nobody help me?

As he tries to carry her off Snarleygrow comes bounding in, followed by the other Kobolds.

Snarleygrow - Who calls for help?

Miss Springtime -
"Oh, Mr. Toad, please let me go,
I cannot marry you.
Help! Help! Oh, some one save me. Oh!
Whatever shall I do?"

Snarleygrow rushes forward, crying "Begone!" At which Mr. Hoptoad makes off, chased by all the Kobolds, who poet him with sticks and pebbles. Now Snarleygrow approaches the little doll, and, pulling his long beard, says gruffly: "You're too dainty to marry a toad. You shall marry me and be a queen. You shall have a little brown room deep, deep down in the earth with a tiny field mouse to wait upon you and a downy mole to carry you all over my kingdom, and you shall see gold, much gold!"

All Kobolds hop up and down and chant to the tune "Ten Men on a Dead Man's Chest":
"Down deep, deep, where the brown worms creep
And the earth is gray with mold
We merrily stay and work away,
At hoarding our gold, gold, GOLD."

Snarleygrow - Well, will you come?

Miss Springtime - But lease, please, I'm to marry a wooden soldier.


Snarleygrow - A wooden soldier! Whoever heard of such nonsense? Don't you know I'm a KING?

Miss Springtime - But - but -

Snarleygrow (flying into a passion, stamps his foot) - Here, you take hold of her; if she doesn't come willingly, she'll come anyway.

The Kobolds seize the Japanese doll roughly and are hurrying her away when the sound of a bugle and the beat of drums make them pause.

Enter Captain Good Wood and his company, marching stiffly.

Miss Springtime - Captain! Captain!

Captain - Ready! Charge the rogues! We're coming!

Snarleygrow begins to mutter as the army approaches and suddenly the whole company are turned to stiff wooden toys again, and there they stand dumbly, arms upraised, while the little doll weeps an the Kobolds chuckle wickedly.

Here, just as the Kobolds have started off with Miss Springtime, Heatherblow and the other fairies come tripping to the rescue.

Heatherblow -
"Workers of darkness,
Get ye back
To your kingdom,
Deep and black."

Fairies rush at Kobolds, who cringe, and crouch and finally, grumbling and scolding, retreat to woods. Heatherblow now touches each of the wooden soldiers, who immediately come to life again, and, as the Japanese dolly and Captain Good Wood embrace, they form a circle and dance merrily around them.

Heatherblow - A wedding! A wedding! Hear the bells tolling in Fairyland?

All listen, and far in the distance bells are heard.

Heatherblow -
"Come, and with the fairies dwell forever;
No pain or care, no partings there. Oh, never!
Hark! The flower bells are ringing,
Birds your wedding music singing.
Come unto OUR kingdom, where
All is beautiful and fair."

Captain Good Wood and doll - "We will come."

Forming in line, with the Captain and Miss Springtime at the head, the little company marches slowly out of sight.


This play can be make longer by lengthening the dances. One might be introduced where the Kobolds come in and another before the company march away to Fairyland. Another act might be added, showing the wedding.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 22, 1918.

The Forgetful Poet

The answers to the old fellow's blank verses last week were roast, roll, rye, plum, steak, cake, sauce and chop. Quite a menu.

His poem today is quite serious, for him, though as usual he has not finished it!


The fall is here as here can be;
The leaves are red and gold;
The weather's brisk and bright and clear,
Though nights are turning ------- ?

The boys and girls with diligence
Pursue their sums and Latin.
School benches, I might add, are hard--
The hardest ever ------- ?

The tang of burning leaves begins
To scent the autumn air,
And all dame nature's children for
The winter's frost ------- ?

Copyright © 2008 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


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, May 26, 1906.

There's Many a Slip 'Twixt the Cup and the June Wedding in Toyland
Click to enlarge image.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 15, 1918.

The Forgetful Poet

I've been, my dears - so so and so -
And really had the most
Delightful summer, though at times
I thought that I should -------!

My, how the time does ------- around.
Of course, I'm pleased as -------
To find myself at home again
And coming through the -------.

I ------- forgot to write you
Any verses my mis-------.
Pshaw! now, as a rememberer
I surely take the -------!

Be good and sweet and smart at school;
Don't make the teacher cross,
And be respectful to grown-ups
And never give them -------.

That's all that I can think of now,
So I'll proceed to -------
These verses short and make for port,
Three kisses 'fore I stop.
(The dear fellow says that all the blanks are things to eat!)

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2008 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 4 to December 13, 1914.

There was once a doll named Jimmy Abraham, who was determined to see the world. "It's all very well for you girl dolls to live quietly in the nursery, but I must set out on my journey of adventures." Said he. So one night Jimmy Abraham put his new suit, a clean handkerchief, his pink pajamas, a penny and four animal crackers besides into his grip; bade farewell to all his friends and made ready to start.

The captain of the tin soldiers presented him with his sword, the dolls with a cardboard shield which they had fashioned from the lid of a candy box. And thus armed, Jimmy Abraham felt able to conquer the world.

"Good-by!!" he called gaily, letting himself out of the nursery window. "Good-by, Jimmy Abraham!" called the dolls waving their handkerchiefs.

Very carefully Jimmy climbed down the stout vine which grew under the nursery window. He had almost reached the bottom when - a terrible beast came rushing out of the shadows and stood with its mouth wide open, waiting.

"Dollamercies!!" cried Jimmy Abraham, peering down at the frightful beast - indeed such was his agitation that he nearly lost his gold upon the vine. Quickly recovering himself, however, he tied his grip fast to a twig, then with his free hand brandished his tin sword. "Stand out of the way - BE OFF! - BEGONE!" he called valiantly, but the beast, with a horrible noise, sprang up and snapped at his heels.

Jimmy shivered in all his joints. For a moment he almost wished himself back in the nursery, but remembering that he was a brave doll starting out on his journey of adventures, he set himself to think a way out of the difficulty. Suddenly, Jimmy had an idea! He opened his grip and took out one of the animal crackers and held it out invitingly. The beast stopped snarling. Then Jimmy threw the cracker over as far as he could, and while the beast ran to pounce upon it, he seized his grip, tumbled down the vine and plunged into a thick bush, his china heart beating like a Chinese dinner gong.

The frightful beast crunched up the animal cracker; then it sniffed and snuffed around. But Jimmy kept still as a mouse, and, concluding that he had gone back to the nursery, the dog (for the frightful beast was a dog, my dears) trotted off.

Then Jimmy Abraham crept out of the bush, walked rapidly down the path and out of the garden gate. He had not gone far down the dark road before he heard footsteps pattering after him. "Dollamercies!" cried Jimmy Abraham again. Looking over his shoulder, he caught the twinkle of a red lantern and out of the gloom a strange figure came hurrying. Jimmy put down his grip, grasped his cardboard shield in one hand and his tin sword in the other and stood waiting to see what would happen.

"Good evening!" called the creature holding the lantern high above its head. With a sigh of relief Jimmy put up his ton sword. "Good evening!" he called politely. Who do you 'spose it was? Why, Robin Rabbit hurrying home with a load of wood. And being the friendliest little rabbit in the world, he invited Jimmy Abraham to spend the night with him. So they both went on down the road together - and had soon come to the Robin"s hose in the woods. "Wife! Wife!" called Robin, pattering down the long hallway. "I have brought you a guest!" Then Mrs. Robin Rabbit came out of the warm kitchen and courtesied to Jimmy Abraham until her ears touched the floor. Off she hurried to the cupboard and brought out a huge frosted cake and a jar of honey, and they all sat around the table in the coziest fashion imaginable.

Jimmy Abraham told Mrs. Robin Rabbit all about his life in the nursery and of his determination to see the world. "You have a great future in store for you!" said Mrs. Rabbit, shaking her ears, when Jimmy related how he had outwitted the savage dog. "I quite agree with you," said Robin, taking off his specs. "Upon my tail I shouldn't be surprised to see you at court before you are through with your adventures." Then they in their turn told Jimmy all about their life in the woods and about their friends the Charley Chipmunks and of the weekly nut parties of the Stephen Squirrels, and in this pleasant fashion the evening soon passed. Then Mrs. Rabbit gave Jimmy Abraham a night light and showed him into a cozy little brown room with a couch of leaves. He undressed quickly, put on his pink pajamas and though he was not accustomed to sleeping under the ground, the rabbit couch was so soft, and the night light so cheering, that he soon fell asleep and dreamed he was King of the Wood-Folk.

Jimmy arose from his couch much refreshed, and, dressing quickly, not forgetting to put a clean handkerchief into his pocket, he went up to breakfast. The bedrooms in a rabbit house are always downstairs, you know. He bowed politely to Mrs. Robin Rabbit, who was setting the table. "Well," said he, "I must now set off again upon my journey of adventures." It was only after much coaxing that they could get him to stay to breakfast. "Dear me! Dear me!" murmured Robin. "I had hoped to introduce you to the King. He holds court under the oak tree at 10. Couldn't you put off your journey that long?" Jimmy shook his head as he finished this coffee. "Take this to the King, with the compliments of Jimmy Abraham!" said he, and, reaching into his grip, took out another of his precious animal crackers. Robin promised that he would, and wrote Jimmy a leaf (the wood folk always write leaves instead of letters) to his friend, Stephen Squirrel, and with this, his good tin sword and grip Jimmy Abraham set out once more.

It was quite chilly in the woods, and Jimmy Abraham walked along briskly. He hoped to reach the house of Stephen Squirrel in time for luncheon. But suddenly he heard a noise that made his hair stand straight on end! "INDIANS!" gasped he; "Indians!" He had just time to jump behind a tree before at least 20 of them came rushing out.

"Dollamercies!" exclaimed Jimmy. No wonder! For by the hair those terrible Indians dragged the most beautifulest doll you ever saw! And while Jimmy looked on they tied her to a tree stump and danced around, brandishing their tomahawks. They were going to BURN HER AT THE STAKE! - that was clear. "What shall I do? What shall I do?" cried Jimmy Abraham, for brave as he was, he could not fight 20 Indians. Then all at once he remembered what Robin Rabbit had said of the King of the Woods holding court at 10 under the oak tree! He also remembered having passed the tree a few minutes before. "I'll tell the King!" choked Jimmy Abraham in a rage, and he set off on a run toward the oak tree, the terrible cries of the Indians ringing in his ears! Oh I hope he will get back in time, don't you?

"Help! HELP!" cried Jimmy Abraham, rushing through the circle of strange beasts gathered about the oak tree and knocking Hedwig Hedgehog flat upon her quills. "Help! HELP!" and down he fell upon his china nose at the feet of the King of the Woods.

Oh, what an excitement! "Throw him out!" "Eat him!" "Step on him!" "Skin him!" shouted the foxes and bears, the squirrels and hedgehogs, the rabbits and all the rest of them. "SILENCE!" thundered the King of the Woods, who was a huge bear, and everybody grew silent instanter. "Does anybody know this - er - thing - er - creature - who has rudely interrupted my speech?" he roared n a terrible voice. There was a slight rustle in the crowd, and Robin Rabbit stepped forward nervously, his hears twitching with terror. "Help!" cried Jimmy Abraham, still prone upon his face.

"Er - ah - uh - " stuttered Robin Rabbit hurriedly. "This, your Majesty, is Jimmy Abraham!" Immediately the manner of the bear changed. "Jimmy Abraham," said he in a pleased voice. "Didn't he send me that most toothsome cracker - that delightful animal cake?"

At this encouraging speech Jimmy jumped to his feet. "Yes, yes," he cried. "But oh, your Majesty, make haste! A band of ferocious Indians is burning the most beatifulest doll in the world at the stake. I beg, I entreat, I implore you to HURRY to her assistance!"

"What's this? What's this?" cried the King, his crown falling off with a clatter. "Burnings at the stake! I'll have no such outrages as this in MY woods! Come! COME! Everybody! And he dashed after Jimmy Abraham with the rest of the woodfolk at his heels.

Horrors! As they ran through the trees they saw that the wretched Indians ha already kindled the fire and were dancing wildly about the dol. With a mighty roar the bear king rushed upon them and scattered them left to right, while Jimmy plunged through the flames and dragged the doll to safety, severely scorching his hair. When the Indians had been chased off (and they just escaped being eaten I can tell you) the woodfolk set about restoring the poor dolly, who was quite overcome by her harrowing experience. Her head drooped sadly - her china eyes were tightly closed. "I tell you," said Robin Rabbit, after they had worked a while, "we must take her to Doctor Badger." So with Jimmy holding her by one arm and Robin by the other, and with the King and his court trailing behind, they set off to the badger's house.

"Bring her right in!" cried Doctor Badger, who had seen the procession advancing from his window. The badger's house was too small to accommodate the whole party, so the King and his court went off back to the oak tree to finish the trials of the day, while Jimmy and Robin carried the beautifulest dolly into the office. The doctor bustled over to his medicine closet and brought out a bottle of green fluid. I do not know what it was, but after three doses the dolly opened her eyes, and, with all of them listening breathlessly, told her story. Her name, she said, was Florabel Elizabeth, and she lived with her mistress in a white house on the edge of the wood. A few days ago her mistress had gone away on a visit, and while she was gone her brothers - her brothers and a band of wicked boys from the neighborhood - had dressed themselves as Indians, burst into the nursery and carried off Florabel Elizabeth to burn at the stake.

"The young rogues should be hung up by the ears!" cried Robin Rabbit, while Jimmy Abraham rattled his tin sword for very rage.

"And now," sighed Florabel Elizabeth as she finished her story, "I have no place to go!"

"I shall take care of you!" cried Jimmy Abraham valiantly.

"I'll tell you," put in Robin, scratching his ear, "both of you come along home with me, and then we can decide what's to be done." After much discussion they finally decided that this was the best plan. The doctor ordered his carriage, and I wish you could have seen them, Jimmy Abraham and Florabel Elizabeth, and Doctor Badger and Robin Rabbit, riding behind the doctor's team of hares. It was wonderful!

Well, what do you suppose? On that wonderful drive Jimmy Abraham asked Florabel Elizabeth a question - and she must have said yes - for no sooner had they come to Robin's house than Robin set out again and came hurrying back with - with PREACHER MOLE - Yessir! with Preacher Mole! Then Mrs. Rabbit all aflutter with excitement, somehow made a wedding cake, and with her ears flip flap flopping she ran to invite all the neighbors. And so they were married in Robin's front parlor and afterwards all the folks who live n the wood came and brought them gifts so that they had plenty of vases and things to go to housekeeping with. And they went to housekeeping RIGHT AWAY in a hollow tree and Jimmy Abraham became chief all powerful Minister of State in the Woods - and he never went back to the nursery again.

This is all of the story of Jimmy Abraham who set out upon his journey of adventures, except that he and Florabel Elizabeth lived happily ever afterward.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 25, 1918.

The Forgetful Poet

The heat gave the Forgetful Poet a terrible toothache and he says please to 'scuse him this week - he can't think of a single riddle.

Last week's answers were: First, thin; second, how; third, head; fourth, sinker.

There's a little red fire
In the pine tree's breast,
For a robin has snuggled
Down there to rest.
And the pine is so happy
It sways and swings,
While the little red robin bird
Sings and sings!

Copyright © 2008 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


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 Magical Monarch of Mo, 1903.

Within the depths of the mountains which bordered the Valley of Mo to the east lived a Wicked Wizard in a cavern of rubies. It was many, many feet below the surface of the earth and cut off entirely from the rest of the world, save for one passage which led through dangerous caves and tunnels to the top of the highest mountain. In order to get out of his cavern the Wizard was obliged to come to this mountaintop, and from there descend to the outside world.

The Wizard lived all alone, but he did not mind that, for his thoughts were always on his books and studies, and he seldom showed himself on the surface of the earth. But when he did go out everyone laughed at him, for this powerful magician was no taller than my knee, and was very old and wrinkled, so that he looked comical indeed beside an ordinary man.

The Wizard was nearly as sensitive as he was wicked, and was sorry he had not grown so big as other people. The laughter that always greeted him made him angry.

At last he determined to find some magical compound that would make him grow bigger. He shut himself up in his cave and searched diligently among his books. Finally he found a formula recommended by some dead and gone magician to make anyone grow a foot each day so long as the dose was taken. Most of the ingredients were quite easy to procure, being such as spiders' livers, kerosene oil and the teeth of canary birds, mixed together in a boiling caldron. But the last item of the recipe was so unusual that it made the Wizard scratch his head in perplexity.

It was the big toe of a young and beautiful princess.

The Wizard thought on the matter for three days, but nowhere could he think of a young and beautiful princess who would willingly part with her big toe - even that he might grow to be as big as he wished.

Then, as such a thing was not to be come by honestly, the Wicked Wizard resolved to steal it. So he went through all the caves and passages until he came to the mountaintop. Standing on the point of a rock he placed one hand on his chin and the other on the back of his neck, and then recited the following magical incantation:

"I wish to go
To steal the big toe
Of a princess I know,
In order to grow
Quite big. And so
I'll change to a crow!"

No sooner had he spoken the words than he changed into a black crow, and flew away into the Valley of Mo, where he hid himself in a tall tree that grew near the King's palace.

That morning, as the Princess Truella was lying late in bed, with one of her dainty pink feet sticking out from under the covers, in through the window fluttered a black crow, which picked off her big toe and immediately flew away with it.

The Princess awoke with a scream and was horrified to find her beautiful foot ruined by the loss of her biggest toe. When the King and Queen and the Princes and Princesses, having heard her outcry, came running in to see what was the matter, they were each and all very indignant at the theft.

But, search as they might, nowhere could they find the audacious black crow, nor the Princess' big toe, and the whole court was in despair.

Finally Timtom, who was now a Prince, suggested that Truella seek assistance from the kind Sorceress Maetta, who had helped him out of his own difficulties. The Princess thought well of this idea, and determined to undertake a journey to the castle.

She whistled for her favorite stork, and soon the great bird came to her side. When the stork had been saddled the Princess kissed her father and mother good-by and seated herself on the bird's back. It instantly rose into the air and flew away toward the castle of Maetta.

Traveling in this pleasant way, high in the air, the Princess crossed the River of Needles and the deep gulf and the dangerous wood, and at last was set down safe at the castle gates.

Maetta welcomed the pretty Princess very cordially and, on being told of her misfortune, at once agreed to assist her. So the Sorceress consulted her Oracle, which told her truly anything she wanted to know, and then said to the Princess:

"Your toe is in the possession of the Wicked Wizard who lives in the ruby cave under the mountains. In order to recover it you must go yourself to seek it, but I warn you that the Wizard will put every obstacle in your path to prevent your finding the toe and taking it from him."

"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Truella. "I am afraid I shall never be able to get my toe from such a horrid man."

"Have courage, and trust in me," returned Maetta, "for I believe my powers are stronger than his. I shall now furnish you the weapons you must use to overcome him. Here is a magic umbrella, and in this basket which you must carry on your arm, you will find a lump of putty, an iron ball, a mirror, a package of chewing gum and a magic veil, all of which will be very useful. Here, also, is a winged dagger, with which you must protect yourself if the Wizard attempts to harm you. With these enchanted weapons and a brave heart I believe you will succeed. So kiss me, my child, and start on your journey."

Truella thanked the kind Sorceress, and mounting the saddle of her stork flew away toward the high mountain in which dwelt the Wicked Wizard.

But the naughty man, by means of his black magic, saw her coming, and sent such a fierce wind to blow against her that it prevented the stork from making any headway through the air. Therefore, in spite of his huge wings and remarkable strength, the brave bird was unable to get an inch nearer the mountain.

When Truella saw this she put up the umbrella and held it in front of the stork, whereupon, being shielded from the wind, he flew easily to the mountain.

The Princess now dismounted and, looking into the hole at the top of the mountain, discovered a flight of stairs leading downward.

Taking her basket on her arm, as she had been directed, Truella walked boldly down the steps until she came to a door. But then she shrank back in affright, for before the door was coiled a great serpent, not quite a mile long and fully as large around as a stick of wood. The girl knew she must manage in some way to overcome this terrible creature, so when the serpent opened its mouth and raised its head to bite her, she reached within the basket, and found the lump of putty. She threw it quickly into the serpent's mouth. The creature snapped its jaws together so suddenly that its teeth stuck fast in the putty, and this made it so furious that it wriggled around until it had tied itself into a hard knot, and could wriggle no longer.

Seeing there was no further danger, the Princess passed the door and entered a large cave, which was but dimly lighted. While she paused to allow her eyes to become accustomed to the darkness, so that she might see her way, a faint rustling sound reached her ears, and a moment later there came toward her a hideous old woman, lean and bent, with wrinkled face and piercing black eyes. She had only one tooth, but that was of enormous size, being nearly as large as the tusk of an elephant, and it curved out of her mouth and down under her chin, where it ended in a very sharp point. Her fingernails were a foot long, and they also were very sharp and strong.

"What are you doing here?" asked the old woman in a harsh voice, while she moved her horrible fingers, as if about to scratch out Truella's eyes.

"I came to see the Wizard," said the Princess calmly, "and if you will allow me to pass I shall give you, in return for the favor, some delicious chewing gum."

"Chewing gum!" croaked the old woman. "What is that?"

"It is a dainty of which all ladies are very fond," replied Truella, taking the packet from her basket. "This is it."

The old woman hesitated a moment, and then said,

"Well, I'll try the chewing gum and see what it is like. There will be plenty of time to scratch out your eyes afterward.''

She placed the gum in her mouth and tried to chew it, but when she shut her jaws together the great tusk went straight through her neck and came out at the back. The old hag gave a scream and put up her hands to pull out the tusk again, but so great was her excitement that in her haste she scratched out both her own eyes, and could no longer see where the Princess was standing.

So Truella ran through the cave and came to a door, on which she knocked. Instantly it flew open, and before her she saw another cave, this time brightly lighted, but filled with knives and daggers, which were flying about in every direction. To enter this cave was impossible, for the Princess saw she would immediately be pierced by dozens of the sharp daggers.

So she hesitated for a time, not knowing how to proceed. But, chancing to remember her basket, she took from it the iron ball, which she tossed into the center of the cave of daggers. At once the dangerous weapons began to strike against the ball, and as soon as they touched it they were broken and fell to the floor. In a short time everyone of the knives and daggers had been spoiled by contact with the iron ball, and Truella passed safely through the cave and came to another long stairway leading downward. At the bottom of this she reached the third cave, and came upon a horrible monster.

It had the body of a zebra, the legs of a rhinoceros, the neck of a giraffe, the head of a bulldog and three corrugated tails. This monster at once began to growl and run toward her, showing its terrible teeth and lashing its three tails. The Princess snatched the mirror from her basket and, as the creature came near her, she held the glittering surface before its eyes. It gave one look into the mirror and fell lifeless at her feet, frightened to death by its own reflection in the mirror.

Truella now walked through several more caves and descended a long flight of stairs, which brought her to another door, on which was a sign that read:

"A. WIZARD, Esq.,
Office hours:
From 10:45 until
a quarter to 11."

The Princess, knowing that she had now reached the den of the Wizard who had stolen her big toe, knocked boldly on the door.

"Come in!" called a voice.

Truella obeyed, and found herself in a large cave, the walls of which were lined with rubies. In each of the four corners were big electric lights, and these, shining upon the rubies, filled the cave with a deep red glow. The Wizard himself sat at his desk in one of the corners, and when the Princess entered he looked up and exclaimed:

"What! Is it you? Really, I did not expect to see you. How did you manage to pass the guards I placed within the caves and passageways to prevent your coming here?"

"Oh, that was not difficult," answered Truella, "for you must know I am protected by a power stronger than your own."

The Wizard was much annoyed at this reply, for he knew it was true, and that only by cunning could he hope to oppose the pretty Princess. Still, he was resolved not to give up the big toe unless obliged to, for it was necessary to complete the magic compound.

"What do you want?" he asked, after a moment's thought.

"I want the toe you stole from me while I was asleep."
,br> The Wizard knew it was useless to deny the theft, so he replied, "Very well. Take a chair, and I will see if I can find it."

But Truella feared the little man was deceiving her, so when he turned his back she took the magic veil from her basket and threw it over her head. Immediately it began unfolding until it covered her completely, from head to foot.

The Wizard walked over to a cupboard, which he opened, and, while pretending to search for the toe, he suddenly turned on a big faucet that was concealed under a shelf. At once thunder rolled, lightning flashed, and from the arched ceiling of the cavern drops of fire began to fall, coming thicker and thicker until a perfect shower of burning drops filled the room.

These fell hissing upon Truella's veil, but could not penetrate it. They all bounded off and were scattered on the rocky floor, where they soon burned themselves out. Seeing this, the Wizard gave a sigh of disappointment and turned off the faucet. The fire drops ceased to fall.

"Please excuse this little interruption," he said, as if he had not been the cause of it himself. "I'll find the toe in a few minutes. I must have mislaid it somewhere."

But Truella suspected he was up to more mischief, and was on her guard. She saw him stealthily press a button, and in the same instant a deep gulf opened in the floor of the cave, halfway between the Princess and the Wizard.

Truella did not know what this meant, at first, unless it was to prevent her getting across the room to where her toe was, but soon she noticed that the gulf was moving toward her, slowly, but steadily. Since it extended across the cave from wall to wall, it would in time be sure to reach the spot where she stood, when she would, of course, fall into it.

When she saw her danger the Princess became frightened, and tried to escape through the door by which she had entered; but to her dismay she found it locked. Then she turned to look at the Wizard. The little man had perched himself upon a high stool, and was carelessly swinging his feet and laughing with glee at Truella's awful peril. He thought that at last he had certainly found a way to destroy her.

The poor Princess again looked into the gulf, which was gradually getting nearer and nearer. She shuddered at its vast depths.

Just as she was giving way to despair, and the gulf had crept very close to her feet, Truella thought of her winged dagger. She drew it from her bosom and, pointing it toward her enemy, said:

"Save me from the Wizard's art -
Fly until you reach his heart.
Foil his power and set me free,
This is my command to thee!"

In a flash the dagger flew from her hand and struck the Wizard full on his breast. With a loud cry he fell forward into the gulf, which in the same instant closed up with a crash. Then, when the rocks about her had ceased trembling from the shock, the door swung open, leaving the Princess at liberty to go where she pleased.

She now searched the Wizard's cupboard until she found her toe, which had been safely hidden in a little ivory box. Truella stopped only long enough to put on her toe, and then she ran through the caves and up the stairways until she reached the top of the mountain again.

There she found her stork patiently awaiting her and, having seated herself on its back, she rode safely and triumphantly back to her father's palace.

The King and Queen were delighted when she recounted to them the success of her adventure, but they shuddered when they learned of the fearful dangers their sweet little daughter had encountered.

"It seems to me," said the good Queen, "that a big toe is scarcely worth all the trouble you have had in recovering it."

"Perhaps not," replied the Princess thoughtfully, "but a big toe is very handy to have when you wish to dance. And, after all, I succeeded in destroying the Wicked Wizard, which surely repays me for the trials I have been forced to undergo."

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 18, 1918.

The Forgetful Poet's Puzzles

Had a telegram saying nothing was wrong with our old friend this week and yesterday along came these verses, which I trust you can finish:

On Swimming

I'm old enough, I don't know why
I never learned to swim,
And this is one time that I wish
I weren't so awful ------

A bit more girth around the waist
Would come in handy now.
I've swallowed nigh the whole darn sea
And still I don't know ------

"Now lie back on the water, just
As if you were in bed."
I do it, and next thing I know
I'm standing on my ------

Upon the bottom - sure is hard
On me and my old thinker.
I'll never be a floater - guess
I'm cut out for a ------

The answers to last week's puzzles were: 1, scrub pine; 2, fir tree; 3, dovecote; 4, oven bird; 5, Major General Wood.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2008 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.