Thursday, December 1, 2011


By L. Frank Baum
Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, John Dough and the Cherub, The Treasure of Karnak, and The Visitors from Oz, etc.

Originally published in The Delineator, December 1904.

Santa Claus lives in the Laughing Valley, where stands the big, rambling castle in which his toys are manufactured. His workmen, selected from the ryls, knooks, pixies and fairies, live with him, and every one is as busy as can be from one year's end to another.

It is called the Laughing Valley because everything there is happy and gay. The brook chuckles to itself as it leaps rollicking between its green banks; the wind whistles merrily in the trees; the sunbeams dance lightly over the soft grass, and the violets and wild flowers look smilingly up from their green nests. To laugh one needs to be happy; to be happy one needs to be content. And throughout the Laughing Valley of Santa Claus contentment reigns supreme.

On one side is the mighty Forest of Burzee. At the other side stands the huge mountain that contains the Caves of the Daemons. And between them the Valley lies smiling and peaceful.

One would think that our good old Santa Claus, who devotes his days to making children happy, would have no enemies on all the earth; and, as a matter of fact, for a long period of time he encountered nothing but love wherever he might go.

But the Daemons who live in the mountain caves grew to hate Santa Claus very much, and all for the simple reason that he made children happy.

The Caves of the Daemons are five in number. A broad pathway leads up to the first cave, which is a finely arched cavern at the foot of the mountain, the entrance being beautifully carved and decorated. In it resides the Daemon of Selfishness. Back of this is another cavern inhabited by the Daemon of Envy. The cave of the Daemon of Hatred is next in order, and through this one passes to the home of the Daemon of Malice - situated in a dark and fearful cave in the very heart of the mountain. I do not know what lies beyond this. Some say there are terrible pitfalls leading to death and destruction, and this may very well be true. However, from each one of the four caves mentioned there is a small, narrow tunnel leading to the fifth cave - a cozy little room occupied by the Daemon of Repentance. And as the rocky floors of these passages are well worn by the track of passing feet, I judge that many wanderers in the Caves of the Daemons have escaped through the tunnels to the abode of the Daemon of Repentance, who is said to be a pleasant sort of fellow who gladly opens for one a little door admitting you into fresh air and sunshine again.

Well, these Daemons of the Caves, thinking they had great cause to dislike old Santa Claus, held a meeting one day to discuss the matter.

"I'm really getting lonesome," said the Daemon of Selfishness. "For Santa Claus distributes so many pretty Christmas gifts to all the children that they become happy and generous, through his example, and keep away from my cave."

"I'm having the same trouble," rejoined the Daemon of Envy. "The little ones seem quite content with Santa Claus, and there are few, indeed, that I can coax to become envious."

"And that makes it bad for me!" declared the Daemon of Hatred. "For if no children pass through the Caves of Selfishness and Envy, none can get to MY cavern."

"Or to mine," added the Daemon of Malice.

"For my part," said the Daemon of Repentance, "it is easily seen that if children do not visit your caves they have no need to visit mine; so that I am quite as neglected as you are."

"And all because of this person they call Santa Claus!" exclaimed the Daemon of Envy. "He is simply ruining our business, and something must be done at once."

To this they readily agreed; but what to do was another and more difficult matter to settle. They knew that Santa Claus worked all through the year at his castle in the Laughing Valley, preparing the gifts he was to distribute on Christmas Eve; and at first they resolved to try to tempt him into their caves, that they might lead him on to the terrible pitfalls that ended in destruction.

So the very next day, while Santa Claus was busily at work, surrounded by his little band of assistants, the Daemon of Selfishness came to him and said:

"These toys are wonderfully bright and pretty. Why do you not keep them for yourself? It's a pity to give them to those noisy boys and fretful girls, who break and destroy them so quickly."

"Nonsense!" cried the old graybeard, his bright eyes twinkling merrily as he turned toward the tempting Daemon. "The boys and girls are never so noisy and fretful after receiving my presents, and if I can make them happy for one day in the year I am quite content."

So the Daemon went back to the others, who awaited him in their caves, and said:

"I have failed, for Santa Claus is not at all selfish."

The following day the Daemon of Envy visited Santa Claus. Said he: "The toy shops are full of playthings quite as pretty as those you are making. What a shame it is that they should interfere with your business! They make toys by machinery much quicker than you can make them by hand; and they sell them for money, while you get nothing at all for your work."

But Santa Claus refused to be envious of the toy shops.

"I can supply the little ones but once a year - on Christmas Eve," he answered; "for the children are many, and I am but one. And as my work is one of love and kindness I would be ashamed to receive money for my little gifts. But throughout all the year the children must be amused in some way, and so the toy shops are able to bring much happiness to my little friends. I like the toy shops, and am glad to see them prosper."

In spite of the second rebuff, the Daemon of Hatred thought he would try to influence Santa Claus. So the next day he entered the busy workshop and said:

"Good morning, Santa! I have bad news for you."

"Then run away, like a good fellow," answered Santa Claus. "Bad news is something that should be kept secret and never told."

"You cannot escape this, however," declared the Daemon; "for in the world are a good many who do not believe in Santa Claus, and these you are bound to hate bitterly, since they have so wronged you."

"Stuff and rubbish!" cried Santa.

"And there are others who resent your making children happy and who sneer at you and call you a foolish old rattlepate! You are quite right to hate such base slanderers, and you ought to be revenged upon them for their evil words."

"But I don't hate 'em!" exclaimed Santa Claus positively. "Such people do me no real harm, but merely render themselves and their children unhappy. Poor things! I'd much rather help them any day than injure them."

Indeed, the Daemons could not tempt old Santa Claus in any way. On the contrary, he was shrewd enough to see that their object in visiting him was to make mischief and trouble, and his cheery laughter disconcerted the evil ones and showed to them the folly of such an undertaking. So they abandoned honeyed words and determined to use force.

It was well known that no harm can come to Santa Claus while he is in the Laughing Valley, for the fairies, and ryls, and knooks all protect him. But on Christmas Eve he drives his reindeer out into the big world, carrying a sleighload of toys and pretty gifts to the children; and this was the time and the occasion when his enemies had the best chance to injure him. So the Daemons laid their plans and awaited the arrival of Christmas Eve.

The moon shone big and white in the sky, and the snow lay crisp and sparkling on the ground as Santa Claus cracked his whip and sped away out of the Valley into the great world beyond. The roomy sleigh was packed full with huge sacks of toys, and as the reindeer dashed onward our jolly old Santa laughed and whistled and sang for very joy. For in all his merry life this was the one day in the year when he was happiest - the day he lovingly bestowed the treasures of his workshop upon the little children.

It would be a busy night for him, he well knew. As he whistled and shouted and cracked his whip again, he reviewed in mind all the towns and cities and farmhouses where he was expected, and figured that he had just enough presents to go around and make every child happy. The reindeer knew exactly what was expected of them, and dashed along so swiftly that their feet scarcely seemed to touch the snow-covered ground.

Suddenly a strange thing happened: a rope shot through the moonlight and a big noose that was in the end of it settled over the arms and body of Santa Claus and drew tight. Before he could resist or even cry out he was jerked from the seat of the sleigh and tumbled head foremost into a snowbank, while the reindeer rushed onward with the load of toys and carried it quickly out of sight and sound.

Such a surprising experience confused old Santa for a moment, and when he had collected his senses he found that the wicked Daemons had pulled him from the snowdrift and bound him tightly with many coils of the stout rope. And then they carried the kidnapped Santa Claus away to their mountain, where they thrust the prisoner into a secret cave and chained him to the rocky wall so that he could not escape.

"Ha, ha!" laughed the Daemons, rubbing their hands together with cruel glee. "What will the children do now? How they will cry and scold and storm when they find there are no toys in their stockings and no gifts on their Christmas trees! And what a lot of punishment they will receive from their parents, and how they will flock to our Caves of Selfishness, and Envy, and Hatred, and Malice! We have done a mighty clever thing, we Daemons of the Caves!"

Now it so chanced that on this Christmas Eve the good Santa Claus had taken with him in his sleigh Nuter the Ryl, Peter the Knook, Kilter the Pixie, and a small fairy named Wisk - his four favorite assistants. These little people he had often found very useful in helping him to distribute his gifts to the children, and when their master was so suddenly dragged from the sleigh they were all snugly tucked underneath the seat, where the sharp wind could not reach them.

The tiny immortals knew nothing of the capture of Santa Claus until some time after he had disappeared. But finally they missed his cheery voice, and as their master always sang or whistled on his journeys, the silence warned them that something was wrong.

Little Wisk stuck out his head from underneath the seat and found Santa Claus gone and no one to direct the flight of the reindeer.

"Whoa!" he called out, and the deer obediently slackened speed and came to a halt.

Peter and Nuter and Kilter all jumped upon the seat and looked back over the track made by the sleigh. But Santa Claus had been left miles and miles behind.

"What shall we do?" asked Wisk anxiously, all the mirth and mischief banished from his wee face by this great calamity.

"We must go back at once and find our master," said Nuter the Ryl, who thought and spoke with much deliberation.

"No, no!" exclaimed Peter the Knook, who, cross and crabbed though he was, might always be depended upon in an emergency. "If we delay, or go back, there will not be time to get the toys to the children before morning; and that would grieve Santa Claus more than anything else."

"It is certain that some wicked creatures have captured him," added Kilter thoughtfully, "and their object must be to make the children unhappy. So our first duty is to get the toys distributed as carefully as if Santa Claus were himself present. Afterward we can search for our master and easily secure his freedom."

This seemed such good and sensible advice that the others at once resolved to adopt it. So Peter the Knook called to the reindeer, and the faithful animals again sprang forward and dashed over hill and valley, through forest and plain, until they came to the houses wherein children lay sleeping and dreaming of the pretty gifts they would find on Christmas morning.

The little immortals had set themselves a difficult task; for although they had assisted Santa Claus on many of his journeys, their master had always directed and guided them and told them exactly what he wished them to do. But now they had to distribute the toys according to their own judgment, and they did not understand children as well as did old Santa. So it is no wonder they made some laughable errors.

Mamie Brown, who wanted a doll, got a drum instead; and a drum is of no use to a girl who loves dolls. And Charlie Smith, who delights to romp and play out of doors, and who wanted some new rubber boots to keep his feet dry, received a sewing box filled with colored worsteds and threads and needles, which made him so provoked that he thoughtlessly called our dear Santa Claus a fraud.

Had there been many such mistakes the Daemons would have accomplished their evil purpose and made the children unhappy. But the little friends of the absent Santa Claus labored faithfully and intelligently to carry out their master's ideas, and they made fewer errors than might be expected under such unusual circumstances.

And, although they worked as swiftly as possible, day had begun to break before the toys and other presents were all distributed; so for the first time in many years the reindeer trotted into the Laughing Valley, on their return, in broad daylight, with the brilliant sun peeping over the edge of the forest to prove they were far behind their accustomed hours.

Having put the deer in the stable, the little folk began to wonder how they might rescue their master; and they realized they must discover, first of all, what had happened to him and where he was.

So Wisk the Fairy transported himself to the bower of the Fairy Queen, which was located deep in the heart of the Forest of Burzee; and once there, it did not take him long to find out all about the naughty Daemons and how they had kidnapped the good Santa Claus to prevent his making children happy. The Fairy Queen also promised her assistance, and then, fortified by this powerful support, Wisk flew back to where Nuter and Peter and Kilter awaited him, and the four counseled together and laid plans to rescue their master from his enemies.

It is possible that Santa Claus was not as merry as usual during the night that succeeded his capture. For although he had faith in the judgment of his little friends he could not avoid a certain amount of worry, and an anxious look would creep at times into his kind old eyes as he thought of the disappointment that might await his dear little children. And the Daemons, who guarded him by turns, one after another, did not neglect to taunt him with contemptuous words in his helpless condition.

When Christmas Day dawned the Daemon of Malice was guarding the prisoner, and his tongue was sharper than that of any of the others.

"The children are waking up, Santa!" he cried. "They are waking up to find their stockings empty! Ho, ho! How they will quarrel, and wail, and stamp their feet in anger! Our caves will be full today, old Santa! Our caves are sure to be full!"

But to this, as to other like taunts, Santa Claus answered nothing. He was much grieved by his capture, it is true; but his courage did not forsake him. And, finding that the prisoner would not reply to his jeers, the Daemon of Malice presently went away, and sent the Daemon of Repentance to take his place.

This last personage was not so disagreeable as the others. He had gentle and refined features, and his voice was soft and pleasant in tone.

"My brother Daemons do not trust me overmuch," said he, as he entered the cavern; "but it is morning, now, and the mischief is done. You cannot visit the children again for another year."

"That is true," answered Santa Claus, almost cheerfully; "Christmas Eve is past, and for the first time in centuries I have not visited my children."

"The little ones will be greatly disappointed," murmured the Daemon of Repentance, almost regretfully; "but that cannot be helped now. Their grief is likely to make the children selfish and envious and hateful, and if they come to the Caves of the Daemons today I shall get a chance to lead some of them to my Cave of Repentance."

"Do you never repent, yourself?" asked Santa Claus, curiously.

"Oh, yes, indeed," answered the Daemon. "I am even now repenting that I assisted in your capture. Of course it is too late to remedy the evil that has been done; but repentance, you know, can come only after an evil thought or deed, for in the beginning there is nothing to repent of."

"So I understand," said Santa Claus. "Those who avoid evil need never visit your cave."

"As a rule, that is true," replied the Daemon; "yet you, who have done no evil, are about to visit my cave at once; for to prove that I sincerely regret my share in your capture I am going to permit you to escape."

This speech greatly surprised the prisoner, until he reflected that it was just what might be expected of the Daemon of Repentance. The fellow at once busied himself untying the knots that bound Santa Claus and unlocking the chains that fastened him to the wall. Then he led the way through a long tunnel until they both emerged in the Cave of Repentance.

"I hope you will forgive me," said the Daemon pleadingly. "I am not really a bad person, you know; and I believe I accomplish a great deal of good in the world."

With this he opened a back door that let in a flood of sunshine, and Santa Claus sniffed the fresh air gratefully.

"I bear no malice," said he to the Daemon, in a gentle voice; "and I am sure the world would be a dreary place without you. So, good morning, and a Merry Christmas to you!"

With these words he stepped out to greet the bright morning, and a moment later he was trudging along, whistling softly to himself, on his way to his home in the Laughing Valley.

Marching over the snow toward the mountain was a vast army, made up of the most curious creatures imaginable. There were numberless knooks from the forest, as rough and crooked in appearance as the gnarled branches of the trees they ministered to. And there were dainty ryls from the fields, each one bearing the emblem of the flower or plant it guarded. Behind these were many ranks of pixies, gnomes and nymphs, and in the rear a thousand beautiful fairies floated along in gorgeous array.

This wonderful army was led by Wisk, Peter, Nuter, and Kilter, who had assembled it to rescue Santa Claus from captivity and to punish the Daemons who had dared to take him away from his beloved children.

And, although they looked so bright and peaceful, the little immortals were armed with powers that would be very terrible to those who had incurred their anger. Woe to the Daemons of the Caves if this mighty army of vengeance ever met them!

But lo! coming to meet his loyal friends appeared the imposing form of Santa Claus, his white beard floating in the breeze and his bright eyes sparkling with pleasure at this proof of the love and veneration he had inspired in the hearts of the most powerful creatures in existence.

And while they clustered around him and danced with glee at his safe return, he gave them earnest thanks for their support. But Wisk, and Nuter, and Peter, and Kilter, he embraced affectionately.

"It is useless to pursue the Daemons," said Santa Claus to the army. "They have their place in the world, and can never be destroyed. But that is a great pity, nevertheless," he continued musingly.

So the fairies, and knooks, and pixies, and ryls all escorted the good man to his castle, and there left him to talk over the events of the night with his little assistants.

Wisk had already rendered himself invisible and flown through the big world to see how the children were getting along on this bright Christmas morning; and by the time he returned, Peter had finished telling Santa Claus of how they had distributed the toys.

"We really did very well," cried the fairy, in a pleased voice; "for I found little unhappiness among the children this morning. Still, you must not get captured again, my dear master; for we might not be so fortunate another time in carrying out your ideas."

He then related the mistakes that had been made, and which he had not discovered until his tour of inspection. And Santa Claus at once sent him with rubber boots for Charlie Smith, and a doll for Mamie Brown; so that even those two disappointed ones became happy.

As for the wicked Daemons of the Caves, they were filled with anger and chagrin when they found that their clever capture of Santa Claus had come to naught. Indeed, no one on that Christmas Day appeared to be at all selfish, or envious, or hateful. And, realizing that while the children's saint had so many powerful friends it was folly to oppose him, the Daemons never again attempted to interfere with his journeys on Christmas Eve.

THE FORGETFUL POET The Forgetful Poet 
By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 17, 1919.

The Riddle Guesser's Corner

Before we start any new riddles we must answer our last ones. The answers were hulls, Bedowins and poodle.


Fishes don't play games
As a general rule;
But if they did, well,
They might play -----.

A girl's name will give a game.

A rabbit's gait, plus a thrifty race, will give a game played by boys and girls.

A lively little insect will give an English game.

An organ of the body names a card game.


A creature very gentle
And extremely wild and shy,
Will give a mixture used for bread,
For muffins, cake and pie.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2011 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, November 22, 1914.

Last night as I entered the Town of Sleep
I saw the wonderfull'st sight -
A grand procession came marching by
Through the yellow candle light!
A grand Procession - Oh, there, my dears -
Were all the things we EAT
Thanksgiving Day, and they marched away
To a Sugar Band SO sweet
That as the music struck the air
It turned into lollypops straightway - there!
The Turkey stumped on his drumsticks
With his neck tucked under his wing
And I heard him say in a stuffy way,
"I'm full of EVERYTHING!"
The celery stalked on either side
And its tops waved to and fro with pride!
The vegetables rode in their dishes
As if they were Queens and Kings,
While behind, like pages, the olives skipped
The nuts and the fruit and things!
Two abreast the Pumpkin Pies
Came winking their dozen slits for eyes,
Plum Pudding round as a cannon ball
Came rolling and steaming behind them all.
While after that - in sixes and eights -
Marched the spoons and forks and the knives and plates.
Now I wonder if YOU were there that night
And saw them marching by candle light?
It seems to me - I did get a peep
Of you boys and girls in the Town of Sleep!

THE FORGETFUL POET The Forgetful Poet 
By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 10, 1919.

Riddles in Rhyme for Summer Time

The Forgetful Poet was evidently too busy with his camp work to write a letter, so he just sent us these rhyming riddles. Having been at camp myself, I know there is not much time for letter writing, so we shall have to forgive him, I 'spose.

The answers to his last week's riddles were: The Ottoman empire, or Turkey; the Lapps, Indian tribes, Crow and Sioux.


Peas and ships have 'em.
And if you're not dull
You'll know right away
I'm referring to -----.

A piece of furniture plus a letter,
A word that means succeed,
Will give an Arab, and a very
Restless one indeed.

An expression of scorn
And a valley, I vow,
Will give you a pert
Little curly bow-wow.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2011 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


By Dick Martin
Author of The Ozmapolitan of Oz, illustrator of Merry Go Round in Oz, The Magic Map, and The Visitors from Oz, etc.

Originally published in No 10, June 1972.

Founded on and continuing the Famous Oz Stories by L. Frank Baum,
Ruth Plumly Thompson, John R. Neill, Jack Snow, Rachel Cosgrove, Eloise Jarvis McGraw, Lauren McGraw Wagner, etc., etc.

(With profuse apologies to nobody)

"Oh, Hell!" said Dorothy, viciously stubbing out her cigarette in an emerald ash-tray.

"That is no way for a Princess of Oz to talk, dear," Ozma rebuked gently.

The two girls were enjoying a heart-to-heart talk, as girls will, in the privacy of Ozma's lovely patio garden in the Royal Palace of Oz.

"You must remember," Ozma went on, "we all have positions to maintain, irksome as they may be."

"I b'lieve p'raps that's just what's so aggr'vating," Dorothy sighed. "How can we poss'bly be 'spected to keep it up all the time?"

Ozma smiled: "Here you are, a great big grown-up girl of seventy-three, still affecting that 'cute' diction. Apparently Professor Wogglebug's Elocution Pills haven't been doing you much good."

"Well, they make me kinda dizzy. I don't like to take them," complained the little Kansas girl.

"They wouldn't make you so dizzy, if you would swallow them with water instead of martinis," Ozma returned, with some tartness. "And that's another thing I've wanted to talk to you about, dear. Your Aunt Em and Uncle Henry are just as concerned as I am about your drinking."

Tears appeared in the little girl's blue eyes, and Ozma kissed her cheek.

"I'm sorry, darling," she said. "I don't mean to be an old crosspatch. Forgive me."

Dorothy smiled and wiped her tears away with a gossamer handkerchief of spun emeralds. She lit another cigarette, and Ozma continued:

"You see, dear, we've become Images. We're terribly important to Thousands of American Children. And we can't just say 'To Hell with Thousands of American Children,' because they're important to us, too! We owe it to them to continue being the simple, good, unaffected people we really are." Ozma took another sip of her martini and frowned. "Jellia Jamb is certainly getting careless - there's much too much vermouth in this."

"I think it's the Wizard's Oz-gin," declared Dorothy. "Unlike the 'ported stuff -" ("Imported, dear," Ozma interpolated.) "- it hasn't much kick. That's why the vermouth comes through so strong. Honestly! Wizzy and his Oz-gin experiments - he's got every bathtub in the Palace full of them!"

The garden echoed with the girls' silvery, tinkling laughter.

"Well, well! What's all this?" boomed a jovial voice. The merry, kindly, twinkling-eyed face of the wonderful Wizard of Oz appeared in the bower, framed in dangling sprays of roses. Jellia Jamb's face appeared alongside it.

"Jellia, my girl," he said, "I'm afraid we've been maligned!" He gave her a wink and a friendly slap, and the little maid ran off, giggling delightedly.

The trio became serious.

"I guess Ozma's right," Dorothy sighed. "If all those Thousands of American Children want to 'den'fy with us -" ("Identify, dear," said Ozma.) "- we've got to live up to it. Still, it would be nice if we could quit being 'quaint.' I mean, have tel'phones, and auto'biles, and such, like they do."

"Be sensible, darling," said Ozma. "Can you picture yourself in a Mercedes-Benz or a Jaguar, on our bumpy old Yellow Brick Roads? Of course not! The old Sawhorse-powered Red Wagon is what they want, anyway!"

"And don't forget, my dear," put in the Wizard, "my famous Wishing Pills can take you anywhere you want to go, or get you anything you want to have!"

"Pills, pills, pills," sighed Dorothy.

"Of course!" exclaimed Ozma triumphantly. "Pills, pills, pills! Pills for everything - just like America!"

"But we don't need pills for everything!" Dorothy objected.

"Certainly not!" smiled Ozma. "I've seen you making eyes at that nice young Munchkin boy in Professor Wogglebug's geozify class. That's Nature's Magic."

"But I'm a mortal, and he's a fairy," said Dorothy, blushing prettily. "But not that kind of fairy, I mean!" she added anxiously.

Ozma's silvery laughter tinkled. (Or, if you prefer, her tinkling laughter silvered.)

"Of course not!" Ozma said. "And so, I have invited him to dine with us this evening. I've placed him next to you at the table. Make the most of it - but be discreet, Dorothy dear."

"That's right," laughed the Wizard, "don't forget those Thousands of American Children!"

They all joined in a hearty laugh. Dorothy finished off her martini, and threw the olive to her little dog, Toto (whose silvery, tinkling bark added to the general merriment).

The two girls rose - a trifle unsteadily - and linked arms.

"And now," said Ozma, "if the Wizard will excuse us, we must retire and dress for dinner. Glinda the Good, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and all the rest of our dear, tired old friends will be here this evening."

THE FORGETFUL POET The Forgetful Poet 
By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 3, 1919.

Some Rhyming Riddles

The Forgetful Poet sent in the answers to his poetry puzzles and the following riddles in rhyme. He says he expects to spend August at camp. I wonder whether he will like it?


An article of furniture
To rest the feet upon
Will give an Empire, and
An ally of the vanquished Hun!

Part of the body will give a race
Who live in a very far Northern place.
You've heard of them yourself, perhaps,
And wondered why men called them -----?

This Indian tribe you surely know
Named for a bird, the thieving ------?
A girl's name, quite old fashioned, too,
Will give another tribe, the -----?
Of course, it is not spelled the same,
But see if you can guess the name.

The poems referred to in last Sunday's verses, in the order in which they appeared were: "The One Hoss Shay," by Oliver Wendell Holmes; "Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight," Rose Thorpe: "Sheridan's Ride," T. B. Read; "True Woman," William Wordsworth; "Planting the Apple Tree," William Cullen Bryant; "Ill [sic] Penseroso," Milton; "How They Brought the Good News From Ghent," Browning; "The Boys," O. W. Holmes; "Bill and Joe," O. W. Holmes; "Love of Country," Walter Scott; "Old Aunt Mary's," Riley; "Bannockburn," Robert Burns.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2011 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, January 23, 1921.

Once upon a time an old rabbit returning from a hard day's work in the forest came upon a small brown pipe lying under some leaves. He picked it up cautiously, knocked out the ashes and being himself fond of smoking filled it with some of the leaves and gave a great puff. No sooner had he done so than he rose straight in the air - shooting upward so fast that he lost his breath and load of wood and one slipper besides.

Just as he was minded to drop the pipe and risk a fall to earth he came to a sudden halt. Two hands covered his eyes and next minute he found himself in the most beautiful cloud palace imaginable.

"Tell his majesty! Call the treasurer! Way for the honorable earth born!" cried a dozen soft voices. The poor old rabbit could hardly believe his ears nor his eyes and he tried to hide his stocking foot under the other and only succeeded in looking more awkward than ever. The long hall where he stood was filled with beautiful maidens, who floated around him in a perfectly dizzying fashion.

They changed shape continually and no sooner would he prepare to address one and ask where he was than she would melt away before his eyes and another mischievous cloud elf appear in her place. And while he was still swallowing and making false attempts as conversation a huge silver bear strode into the hall!

"Welcome!" roared the bear genially and shaking hands with the rabbit quite lifted him off his feet. "I come from the king and he bids me thank you for the great service you have done him!"

This so surprised the rabbit, who was quite unaware of having done any one a service, that he took the pipe out of his mouth and began to ask where he was and what he was being thanked for! And could any one tell him the way home as the cloud maidens made him giddy.

"All in good time! All in good time!" rumbled the bear, "but before you go is there nothing you would like to have? His majesty said we were to spare no expense. Indeed, he would thank you himself if he were not in bed and unable to rise for several hours."

"Where am I?" demanded the poor old rabbit running around in a circle, "and surely I would like a pair of shoes since I have lost one of these!"

At this the cloud maidens laughed uproariously and floated off toward a great door in the back of the hall.

"You are in the palace of the Man in the Moon," said the bear, seating himself on a pile of cloud cushions beside the rabbit, "and though you have seen us all before you were so far down that you hardly recognize us - but you have done us a great service, for that pipe you have belongs to the man in the moon and had you not found it the earth would have had no showers at all, for that is the magic pipe that blows up the storm clouds and now if you don't mind - "

Before the old rabbit had time to say a word the great bear snatched the pipe and next minute he was falling through sheets of pouring rain - falling, falling down toward the forest again.

"What a terrible storm!" said old Mrs. Rabbit as she let him in (he had fallen right in front of his own door), "and how late you are!" Mr. Rabbit was too confused to do more than mumble about how he blew up the storm himself - then both of them stared down at his feet. There were a shiny pair of gold shoes, the neatest fit imaginable, for the Man in the Moon had kept his promise. Mrs. Rabbit's ears perked up with astonishment when she heard the whole story and next day they sold the shoes to an old gnome for a sum that will keep them in carrots as long as they live.

THE FORGETFUL POET The Forgetful Poet 
By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, July 27, 1919.

The Forgetful Poet's Puzzles

The old man is certainly mixed today. He says that he composed this beautiful poem - and I know that he never did - every line is familiar, and he has just jumbled them all together. I wonder whether you can give the title of the poem and the poet in each case? Try and see.


"Have you heard of the wonderful one-horse shay?"
"Curfew must not ring tonight."
"Up from the South at break of day!"
"She was a phantom of delight."

"Come, let us plant the apple tree."
"Hence - vain deluding joys."
"I sprang to the stirrup and Joris and he,"
"Has there any old fellow got mixed with the boys?"

"Come, dear old comrade, you and I."
"Breathes there a man with soul so dead."
"Wasn't it pleasant, oh! brother mine."
"Oh, Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled!"

Perhaps the grown-ups will like to help you solve these. Last week's answers were: pirate, peppermint, both have links. An old book's like a bowwow because it's dog-eared.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2011 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


By L. Frank Baum
Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, John Dough and the Cherub, The Treasure of Karnak, and The Visitors from Oz, etc.
Illustrated by Charles Livingston Bull

Originally published in The Delineator, August 1905.

Pop Wombat 

Pop Wombat LL was hushed and still in the cave, for Pop Wombat had a toothache. Four fat balls of reddish fur lay rolled in one corner, motionless save for the alertness of the little eyes that peeped from the feathery masses of hair. Mom Wombat silently reposed in another corner, her steadfast gaze full upon the head of the family, who lay in a despondent attitude near the entrance.

Pop Wombat had owned this same toothache for several hours, and it had turned his meek nature topsy-turvy. Indeed, the family had developed a nervous awe of the pain he suffered, and the unreliable state of his temper because of it. Suddenly the silence was broken. Pop writhed and tossed his round body as if frantic, and gave a most dismal howl.

"How absurd!" said Mom, a little impatiently. "Are you a bear, my dear Pop, that you growl so savagely?"

"Shut up!" said Pop, and rolled over in a huff.

No doubt, Mom's remark was annoying. There is little difference, in general appearance, between a wombat and a bear, except that the biggest wombat is hardly tall enough to reach to a bear's knee. But in their nature and disposition there is a vast difference in the two animals, for the bear is a meat-eater by preference, while the wombat feeds only on roots and vegetables. Of all creatures in the wilderness none has such a cheerful temper as the little wombat, who never fights unless driven to desperation, and attends strictly to his own affairs.

But to see Pop Wombat to-day no one would guess he possessed a mild and genial nature. The four cubs were filled with terror, and trembled every time their sire gave a groan or writhed upon the floor. And Mom Wombat, meek helpmate that she was, had become so nervous she could scarcely control herself.

"Why don't you have that tooth out, Pop?" she asked for the twentieth time that morning.

"Out! Have it out? Do you want to see me murdered?" he retorted, in a peevish tone. "If it's such fun, why don't you have your own teeth out?"

"If they ached, I would," answered Mom.

"That's it!" he snapped. "You're in no danger of getting hurt; so you want to see me mutilated and killed!"

"It won't kill you to have a tooth pulled, my dear," she persisted; "and Doc Pelican is down by the bend of the river now, and will do the job easily. If the tooth is out it won't ache, and until it's out it will ache, you know."

"Mind your business!" growled Pop as he held his jaw between two chubby paws and groaned aloud.

Mom sighed, and the cubs shuddered. And then silence was renewed until Pop resumed his awful groaning.

"Why don't you---" began Mom; but he cut her question short by suddenly jumping upon his feet.

"Hold your tongue, can't you?" he howled. "I'm going down to Doc Pelican's, and if you don't like it you can do the next thing!" And he marched toward the mouth of the cave.

Mom didn't mind his bitter words in the least, for she knew Pop loved her, and that it was only that toothache that induced him to say such things.

"Be very careful, dear," she called after him. "Remember it's broad daylight, and you may meet with enemies."

He gave a scornful grunt and walked away, groaning lustily with every step. Yet Mom's warning was not so foolish as Pop tried to make out. As a matter of fact, a group of dangerous foes was at that moment gathered in a cavern underneath the river bank, not a hundred yards away from the snug cave of the wombats.

"I'd like to eat old Pop as well as any of you," said Dick Wolf, licking his lean chops. " But you know the Law as well as I do. Unless he fights we dare not harm him."

"Let's make him fight!" suggested little Joe Weasel.

"We can't," replied Dick Wolf. "I've tried it."

"Well, let's claim he did fight," proposed Bob Peccary; "he can't prove he didn't, after he's eaten."

Then the conspirators paused to look upon one another curiously, for not one of them felt he could trust the others in case they were brought before the judges to explain Pop Wombat's death. Yet the thought of preying upon the fat and tender family of wombats was so tempting that they were ready to defy the Law and take the chance of their crime being discovered. If only Pop could be induced to fight, the rest would be easy; but who had ever known him to even quarrel with any beast?

While they hesitated, Ned Lynx, the spy, solved the problem by rushing into the cavern and shouting:

"He's out! Pop Wombat is out in broad daylight."

"Now's our time!" cried Hank Hyena, leaping up. "Let's hide ourselves, and catch him as he comes back."

They all agreed readily to this, and Charlie Fox said: "Make him fight if you can, my boys; but if you can't---"

"If we can't, we'll kill him anyhow," declared Jim Leopard; and the conspirators growled assent.

Meantime Pop Wombat had shuffled his fat body down to the river bend, moaning with the pain in his tooth with every step.

As Mom had predicted, he found Doc Pelican standing beside the water and eyeing the rushing stream with intent thoughtfulness.

"Say, Doc," said Pop Wombat, coming up. “I’ve got a bad toothache, and---"

"And you want the tooth pulled, I suppose," said Doc. "Open your mouth, and I'll jerk it out in a hurry." Pop hesitated. "I don't think it's aching quite so bad, just now," he remarked.

"Humbug!" said Doc.

Pop felt his jaw tenderly.

"Will it hurt?" he asked.

"Not the least bit!" said the Pelican. "I pulled one for Nick Tiger, the other day, and he said it was a real pleasure. Open your mouth."

Pop Wombat
So Pop opened his mouth, and Doc asked: "Which tooth is it?"

"This one," said Pop, touching it with his padded paw.

The Pelican thrust his long bill into the wombat's mouth, seized a tooth in a desperate clutch, wiggled it briskly to loosen it, and then threw back his head with a powerful jerk.

Pop howled in agony, and rolled upon the ground as if taken with a fit.

"It's all over," said Doc, dropping the tooth into the river.

"You idiot!" roared Pop, fairly beside himself. "You’ve pulled the wrong tooth!”

"Oh, did I?" asked the Pelican, with a chuckle. "Let me see."

Pop stood up, shaking with pain, and opened his mouth again. Instantly the Pelican seized the aching tooth and gave it a jerk.

It was too much for Pop to bear. His strong little jaws came together with a snap, and he bit Doc's head off as neatly as if it had been cut with a knife.

"Dear me!" said Pop, gravely, as he watched the floundering of the headless Pelican; "what have I done?"

"You've fought and killed a harmless creature, and broken the Law!" said a voice in reply, and Ned Lynx crept from the clump of bushes where he had been hidden. "Your own life is forfeit, Pop Wombat!" he added, gleefully.

But Pop had no wish to die. The strain upon his nerves caused by his recent suffering had roused him from his usual gentleness, and his present horror and fear completely changed his nature. He sprang upon the Lynx and dealt him a blow that laid the spy stunned upon the path, and then he started on a trot back toward his cave.

"Hurrah!" cried Dick Wolf, from his ambush; "he fights at last! Pop fights, brothers!" and without more ado he launched his lean body straight at the wombat's throat.

Pop struck again, and in his anger hurled Dick Wolf a dozen paces into the brushwood. But now in the path crouched Jim Leopard, his eyes green and watchful and his long tail swaying gently from side to side. And back of Jim the gaunt hyena stood with open mouth, disclosing two rows of cruel teeth. And on one side was Bob Peccary, and on the other side Charlie Fox, while the blood-shot eyes of Joe Weasel glared at him with savage joy.

Pop Wombat

For a brief moment Pop decided to fight them all. Then his unnatural courage rapidly oozed away, and he turned tail and dashed through the wilderness at his swiftest gait.

Usually he was as lazy as he was fat; but now terror lent him speed. He escaped the leopard's leap by a hair's breadth. He snapped at the hyena and caught the foe's muzzle between his own teeth. He knocked over the peccary so that the awkward beast tripped the rush of the fox. Next minute he was racing on in the lead of every pursuer.

But no wombat could keep up that speed for long, and Pop was about ready to drop when the opening of a cave met his eyes. He tumbled within and swung around with tooth and claw to guard his retreat.

But he was safe enough from his pursuers now. Indeed, his act filled them with consternation, and they hid themselves in the underbrush and lay panting and wondering and eyeing the cave.

"What audacity!" whispered Charlie Fox.

"What absurd recklessness!" said Jim Leopard.

"What folly!" declared the weasel.

By that time Pop Wombat agreed with them, for he remembered where he was, and whose cave he had invaded.

It was the lair of Mersag the Grizzly — the largest, the fiercest, most powerful beast for miles around! Mersag dominated both forest and plain; every animal, however big or little, stood in awe of him; he was cruel and merciless, courageous and blood-thirsty, ferocious and lawless. To face him was death; to hear his mighty footsteps crunching through the brush wood was a signal for instant flight; to penetrate his lair was a madness worse than suicide.

But Pop Wombat, wild with fear, had not noticed where his feet had led him until it was too late to retreat. The great cave was vacant just then; but to quit it meant to be torn to pieces by his hungry enemies, while to remain until Mersag returned meant certain death.

So Pop crouched and trembled, and outside his foes wondered and waited.

Nor was it long before the grizzly's heavy footfalls were heard approaching. Dick Wolf, Charlie Fox, Jim Leopard and the others of their band slunk quickly under cover of the bushes. Pop Wombat's heart stood still in terror. And now, swaying majestically from side to side, the huge bulk of Mersag's grizzled body hove into view and rolled up the path to his cave.

He had that morning stalked a deer, slain it and eaten until he could eat no more; and now he was coming home to sleep.

Very contented and good-humored was Mersag at the moment when he reached his lair and found the trembling intruder facing him. He was surprised, no doubt; but after one look at Pop Wombat he gave a laugh and said: "What, in the name of folly, brings you here? Did you come to be eaten, my good Pop?"

"I suppose so," answered the other, uttering a groan.

"Well, I have often longed to pick your bones," said the grizzly, reflectively; "and it strikes me you will make a dainty morsel, with your fat ribs and tender flanks. But, to be honest, Pop Wombat, I am so filled with venison at this moment that a single mouthful more would choke me."

Hearing this, Pop began to pluck up heart.

"Spare me, Mersag!" he begged, piteously; "protect me from my enemies!"

"Which of the small creatures dares touch you, you fat coward?" returned the grizzly, with contempt. "The Law protects the harmless ones - from all save Me."

"But I've broken the Law," wailed Pop; "I was driven to desperation by a toothache, and I've killed Doc Pelican, and bitten the nose of Hank Hyena and skinned the shoulder of Bob Peccary! So the meat-eaters chased me in a furious pack, and I didn't notice where I was going and ran in here to escape."

Mersag lay over on his side and roared with laughter. Pop's plaintive face was so comical that he could not help it. When he had finished his laugh and wiped his eyes with his paw, he said, cheerfully: "It's the best joke I've heard this year! Really, Pop, you are very entertaining. But, tell me, what has become of the enemies who pursued you to my door?"

"They're hidden in the bushes, outside," said Pop.

"Well," remarked Mersag, sitting upon his haunches and eyeing his victim shrewdly, "I'm awfully sorry I've no appetite for you at present. And you're so fat and fit that I hate to give you up to those miserable creatures waiting outside. Let me think what is best to be done."

"Save me! Save me, my dear, revered, handsome and most excellent Mersag! Save my life!" entreated poor Pop. grovelling before the gigantic form of the bear.

"H—m—m—m!" growled Mersag, reflectively. "I shall be hungry again, some day. I know it by past experience. One cannot always stalk a deer! See here, Pop, I'll make a bargain with you. For a month I will protect you from your enemies, and you shall be free to wander where you will and to enjoy your home and your family. But at the end of a month you must return here and be eaten."

"Mercy! Mercy!" wailed the unhappy wombat.

"Am I not merciful?" asked Mersag, surprised. "Instead of killing you to-day, I give you a month of life and freedom. Could anything be more generous and unselfish? But, of course, if you don't care to promise---"

He raised his huge paw, threateningly, and bared his horrible teeth.

Pop grovelled again.

"I promise!" he screamed. "I promise! Save me to-day from my enemies and I promise to return in a month and give myself up to you."

"Very good! Very good and wise," said the grizzly, with a sleepy yawn. Pop looked full into the cavernous mouth, and shrank back trembling.

But now, Mersag walked to the door of his cave and shouted, in a loud voice:

"Hear me, Dick Wolf, and all who are with you! Pop Wombat is under my protection from this time forth. If any harm comes to him through you, beware the vengeance of Mersag the Grizzly!"

There was no answer in words; but the brushwood crackled here and there as the scared and discomfited band of conspirators slunk away to their dens.

“And now. Pop,” said Mersag, swinging around, “you may go. And go quickly, too, for I want to take my nap."

Pop did not await a second bidding. In an instant he was out of the cave and shuffling along the path to his home.

He was yet somewhat confused in mind, and hardly remembered what had happened to him. But the journey was not half over before he began to realize the fatal bargain he had made for a month of life, and the terrible fate that awaited him.

Presently he began to moan and groan, and he moaned and groaned with every step until he reached home.

"Well," said Mom, looking up as he entered, "did you have the tooth out?"

The tooth! Pop had forgotten all about it. It seemed a thousand years since he had left the cave with that miserable toothache through which he had forfeited his life.

He nodded silently in answer to Mom’s query. There was no need relating to her his dreadful experiences. It would only make her unhappy to know that in a month she would be a widow and their darling cubs fatherless.

A kind heart had Pop Wombat, as well as a gentle nature. So he kept his misery to himself, and devoted the month of life that remained to him in caring for his family with exceeding tenderness.

But to face a sure and horrible death is no easy matter, I assure you; and Pop worried and fretted until he lost all his plumpness and beauty and the brown fur hung upon his bones like a robe thrown over the back of a chair. Mom couldn't make out what was wrong with him, and tried in various ways to make him confess he had a secret that was weighing upon his mind. But Pop stoutly refused to burden her with his worries, and bore alone the bitter grief that was consuming him, while day by day his form became more lean and gaunt until it afforded a sharp contrast with the plumpness of his unsuspecting family.

When the month was up he dared not bid the dear ones good-by, for that might awaken their suspicions and cause a scene. So, with a heart-broken sob that could not be repressed, he marched out of the cave and took the path leading to the lair of Mersag the Grizzly.

"Now, by the bones of my grandsire!" cried Mersag when he beheld the skinny form of the wombat, "what on earth have you been doing to yourself? You are not fit for a vulture to eat!"

Pop Wombat

"It's the anxiety," said Pop, sadly. "I couldn't help it, your honor. It has worn me to skin and bones."

"Bah!" sneered the grizzly, and began pacing angrily up and down his lair. By chance he was fairly well fed at that moment, and although he might possibly have devoured a fat wombat, this lean specimen before him was repulsive to his appetite.

"Listen to me, Pop Wombat!" he said, pausing before his lawful prey; "I simply can't and won't eat you in your present demoralized condition. I'll give you another month to get fat in, and if you are not then as plump and round as you should be, I'll go to your cave and devour your wife and all your children. They're fat enough, I know; and you may depend upon it I'll keep my word. Now, run along and get fat!"

Pop withdrew in an agony of fear. Get fat! How could he manage to fatten himself to order, with that awful fate overhanging his loved ones in case he failed? But he must not fail! In some way he must manage to become round again, for otherwise he would be responsible for the murder of all those most dear to him.

But the fact that his worry was now redoubled prevented Pop from accomplishing his desire. Try as he would, he grew thinner and skinnier day by day, and a great horror fell upon him. His anguish, as the second month drew near its end, was something terrible to witness, and Mom, who was loving and sympathetic to a degree, began to worry so over Pop's declining health that she also became thin and haggard. But the cubs, unconscious of all danger, remained as fat and jolly as ever, and Pop moaned miserably whenever he looked upon them.

Nothing but absolute despair could have driven a wombat to the act that Pop finally resolved upon. These animals feed upon wild vegetables and roots, as I have said, a certain instinct teaching them what is good to eat and what is not. And among the plants this instinct warns them to avoid is one called the tintain, which, if eaten, puffs up their bodies like bags of wind and causes them much incidental pain.

Pop happened to think of the tintain plant upon that very morning when he was due to render himself up to Mersag the Grizzly. He knew very well that if he presented himself in his present condition to the bear that Mersag would keep his promise and kill Mom and the cubs. So he resolved to trick the tyrant, if possible, as a last and desperate resort to save his family.

At daybreak he crawled out of his cave and began to search for tintains. These were quite plentiful, because all animals avoided them; so within a few minutes Pop was busily eating of the dreaded leaves. It required bravery to do this, but Pop had the courage of a loving and unselfish heart.

Presently he began to swell up, and to suffer oppressive pains, too; but these were nothing when compared to his anguish of mind, so he did not notice them. So ravenously did he devour the leaves that it was not long before his wrinkled skin was puffed out to its fullest extent, and he became, to all appearances, as round and plump as in his happiest days.

"Now, my darlings are saved!" murmured the Wombat, joyfully, and he went toward the grizzly's lair well content to sacrifice his own life for the sake of those dear ones at home.

But, as he rolled along, a sudden strange sound fell upon his ears, and a pungent odor of smoke saluted his nostrils. Suspicious, as all the wild are, at unusual sounds and smells, Pop Wombat halted a short distance from Mersag's cave and hid himself in a clump of bushes. He was bound for his death, to be sure, but that was no reason instinct should not warn him to beware of other and unknown dangers.

Peering through the bushes he was startled to see terrible creatures in the dreadful form of Man grouped just outside the abode of the mighty grizzly. They had built a fire of the dead branches of trees, and upon the coals were roasting curious lumps of meat.

This was enough, in all reason, to astonish Pop Wombat; but his eyes grew even bigger next moment. For there before him, stretched broad upon pointed stakes and suspended against the trunk of a giant maple tree, swung the stripped and lifeless hide of the great grizzly himself!

Horror came upon Pop Wombat as he looked - horror, and then a growing sense of relief - and then unbounded joy.

For he was saved. His dear ones were saved. And that deadly creature Man had been the unconscious instrument of their salvation!

Softly and with grateful heart he made his way back to his own cave. Mom Wombat came anxiously to meet him, and her husband's bloated appearance and strange actions caused her much anxiety. For Pop's distended skin forced him to utter many dismal groans, yet he would stop groaning to laugh and caper madly about the room as if trying to surpass the antics of the cubs.

"He's been eating those poisonous tintains," thought Mom, "and the pain has driven him distracted."

Then she promptly knocked him over and began pummelling him briskly to get the wind out of him; and the cubs hurried up to join in the sport and cuffed poor Pop as hard as their little fists could strike.

And Pop laughed. He was happy as a prince. He even roared with merriment when Mom jumped upon him and kneaded his swelled body.

"To think you should be such a fool as to eat tintains!" she cried, indignantly, and continued her heroic treatment until Pop's body shrank slowly but surely into its accustomed condition.

Pop never minded the pain or the pounding a bit. He laughed, and hugged the cubs, and chucked his amazed wife under her double chin, and behaved in a way that was nothing less than ridiculous. The tintains are not especially dangerous, after all, and I think Pop had a right to laugh.

From that day he picked up flesh with his renewed cheerfulness, and became so fat that not a wombat in all the land could compare with him.

The Men who had hunted and killed the grizzly had disappeared from the neighborhood; Dick Wolf and his bloodthirsty pack had disbanded and were now scattered throughout the wilderness; peace and contentment reigned in and about the cave of the wombats, and the cubs were growing big and strong day by day.

It is no wonder that Pop became fat!

THE FORGETFUL POET The Forgetful Poet 
By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, July 20, 1919.

The Forgetful Poet's Puzzles

I must say it is hard to trip you up on geography, especially on islands. Almost every one guessed them correctly. They were Plum Island, Governor's Island, Paris Island, Long Island and the Thousand Isles.

Something to eat,
And a term, my dear,
Mathematic, will give
You a buccaneer.

A seasoning sharp and
A place where money
Is coined will give
A candy, honey.

And now, my ducks,
Can you tell, perforce,
Why a sausage resembles
A good golf course?

And WHY is an old book like a bow-wow?

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2011 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 1, 2011


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 7, 1920.

Once from the mountain kingdom of Woo, which is in China, the emperor's son disappeared. Messengers were dispatched right and left and for weeks the lost prince was sought in all corners of the realm. But neither in the lonely mountain heights, the villages nor cities of Woo could a trace of the young man be found.

Too Fan, the brave, the gallant, was no more and all the kingdom mourned the young prince as dead. The emperor was inconsolable and for many days refused to be comforted. As Too Fan was an only son, it was necessary for the monarch to appoint another heir, and all the noblemen of the realm were considered for the honor. It was not easy to find among them one as brave and chivalrous and wise as the missing prince, but at last a handsome young gallant was chosen to succeed to the throne.

One day Hoo Fan, the new prince, while hunting in the wild mountains of Woo Tang, became separated from his companions and nightfall found him alone and exhausted in a lonely and forbidding glen. He was too weary to go further and was about to give himself up to despair, when a beautiful woman dressed as a peasant appeared and led him to a little cottage hidden in the deep recesses of the mountain.

At her call a handsome young man appeared and the two made the prince welcome, and entertained him as best they could with their simple means. But Hoo Fan, the false prince, repaid them ill for their hospitality. The beauty of the peasant woman turned his head and he resolved to have her in spite of her handsome young husband. First he offered the man immense sums of money for his beautiful wife, and as the peasant indignantly refused and led him to the outlet of the valley he determined to have her nevertheless.

Returning to his castle, he told the emperor he had found a bold rebel in the mountains of Woo Tang, who hunted in the royal domain and killed without license the emperor's deer. He asked permission to punish the offender and when the emperor consented he called his courtiers, and returned the same day to the lonely glen.

Imagine the indignation of the young peasant when the prince had him seized and falsely accused, after his kindness to him the night before. Seeing there was no hope for him against such numbers, he begged leave to say a few words to his wife. This Hoo Fan granted, and when the luckless fellow came back he was condemned to be cast over the cliffs.

Laughing inwardly at his cleverness, Hoo Fan had the peasant led to the edge of the ravine and was on the point of carrying out his infamous sentence when a cavalcade of horsemen, coming at full speed, made them pause.

One of the couriers riding ahead of the others called loudly:

"Stop the execution as you value your lives--the emperor! The emperor!" Next minute the emperor himself had dismounted and confronted the astonished prince.

"Take the place of the prisoner!" he commanded sternly. "You have disgraced the name of a prince of Woo!"

While the astonished courtiers gasped, the sentence was carried out and Hoo Fan, the faithless, suffered himself the fate he had intended for the poor peasant. Meanwhile, the emperor embraced the convicted man, for it was no other than Too Fan, the lost prince. He had dispatched his wife with his diamond girdle to his father. Wearied by the gayety and shallowness of court life, Too Fan had preferred to live in the mountain cottage, but realizing how much his father needed him he from thence on assumed his responsibilities and ruled well and justly over his people.

If you should ever visit the Woo Tang Mountains you will see on the spot where Too Fan was to have been executed a temple erected long ago in memory of the brave prince.

THE FORGETFUL POET The Forgetful Poet 
By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, July 13, 1919.

The Forgetful Poet's Puzzles

The three games in last week's riddles were clocks on stockings, croquet, pool and bridge. The boats in the verses were packet, scow and tug.

So many, many boys and girls answered the island puzzles correctly that he decided to have some more. I wonder whether you can guess them?


In the Schuylkill river is an island
Which I 'spose you know.
The name's the same as certain fruits
That in some orchards grow.

Named for the highest state official
Is another isle
Quite near New York, you'll surely
Guess this in a little while.

An island where our own marines
Are trained is called by chance
After a lovely city, and
The capital of France.

Just the opposite of short
Will give another one.
Some islands named by number--
There my riddles now are done.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2011 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Written and Illustrated by W. W. Denslow
Author of The Scarecrow and the Tin-Man of Oz, illustrator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Denslow/s Mother Goose, etc.

Originally published in The Century Magazine, 1909.

I'd sail the Spanish Main, The Master of the Seas
'Twas little Johnnie's heart's desire
To be a pirate bold,
And scuttle ships on Southern trips
As done in days of old.

'Twas little Johnnie's heart's desire to be a pirate bold
Said John: "I'd sail the Spanish Main,
The Master of the Seas,
And hide my loot in coral caves
Among the Caribbees.

"We'd board the ship with pike and gun;
We'd show the crew no quarter, -
Except in case there was on board
The Captain's handsome daughter.

Then if she’d ask their worthless lives
"Then if she'd ask their worthless lives,
We'd grant it, if they would
Salute at once the pirate flag
And promise to be good.

"Jewels and plate and 'pieces of eight'
We'd have in goodly stores
That we had buried at dark midnight
On far-off island shores."

Jewels and plate and 'pieces of eight' we'd have in goodly stores

THE FORGETFUL POET The Forgetful Poet 
By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, July 6, 1919.

The Forgetful Poet

Has a sunburned nose, but otherwise he is just the same. And as forgetful as ever! But he hasn't forgotten the answers to last week's riddles. Here they are: sloop, cutter, catboat, yacht, ferry and dhow, the Arab boat. He says:

"I know some clocks
That never tick
The minutes
Nor the hours.
You needn't think
From this I mean
A certain sort
Of flowers!"
('Cause I don't.)

And when you've answered that one try these:

What bird, plus a letter of the alphabet, will give a game played by us all in the summertime?

And what body of water will give a gentleman's game?

And what structure on which we cross rivers will give a favorite lady's game?

Then see if you can fill in these blanks with the proper boats.

Among the harbor's busy racket
You'll surely spy the good old -----,
While loaded to the very prow
Comes next the ancient river -----;
With many a whistle and churn and clug
Arrives the busy little -----.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2011 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.