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.
"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.
Kobolds - 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.
"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.
"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.
THE FORGETFUL POET
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.