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.