Author of Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, The Wish Express, "King, King! Double King!", etc.
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 16, 1920.
Once upon a time Jack Rabbit had ears about the size of Brother Possum and a tail as long as the next fellow. He'd have had them yet if he had not been such a curious chap. He always was listening and listening to other folks' affairs, sitting with his tail all curled up under him and his little bright eyes snapping like coals.
Whenever there was talking or quarreling or singing there was little Jack Rabbit. Pshaw, but he was a busybody, sure enough. He even went listening around two-legs' houses and more than once nearly got caught and popped into a pie. But he always managed to run pretty fast, and after a while folks really got used to the little chap sitting on his hind paws taking in all the news. The creatures, too, didn't pay any more attention to him than if he'd been a tree stump.
"That's only little Jack Rabbit!" they'd say to one another and go right on with their speechifying.
But not satisfied with all the things he heard in the woods and in the village where he visited, Jack started staying awake at nights and trying to hear what the goblins and fairies were up to. For many, many nights he listened to their secrets and first thing you know he began trying to put into practice the fairy charms and spells he had overheard. One day he met old Mr. Hedgehog. Mr. Hedgehog wished him good day and asked him what all the news was.
Instead of answering Jack stopped short and twinkled his whiskers.
"Abra â€“ cabra dabra cob!" mumbled Jack Rabbit, and, pop! away flew Mr. Hedgehog as invisible as air. He didn't know he was invisible either and while Jack Rabbit laughed and laughed all the creatures ran around telling one another that a ghost was in the woods that talked like Henry Hedgehog, and poor Mrs. Hedgehog when she heard her husband's voice and bumped into something she couldn't see in the parlor fell into a swoon from which the entire village could not arouse her.
Now it happened that a little fairy chanced by and heard all the confusion and putting two and two together decided that some one was practicing magic.
And this conclusion once reached it was not hard for her to find the culprit. Changing Henry Hedgehog to his visible self again she hurried back to her companions and told them of Jack Rabbit's prank.
The fairies were very angry and resolved to teach Jack a lesson. And a little goblin, who was listening to the fairies, on his own account resolved to do the same.
That evening Jack went as usual to the fairy ring and hid in a hole with only his ears sticking out the top. The fairies laughed and sang, all the time drawing nearer to Jack Rabbit's hiding place. And the goblins, led by the one little goblin who had heard of the fairies' plan, dug up through the ground till they were right under Jack.
And all at once the fairies all together jumped into the hole and seizing Jack's ears began to pull away for dear life. At the same minute the goblins broke through the last bit of earth and got hold of his tail. And for all that they were so small they tugged and tugged till between them they nearly tore Jack in two.
"Never do to let the fairies get him!" fumed the goblins.
"Whatever is holding him!" gasped the fairies. And they pulled and pulled till suddenly they all fell over in a heap. The goblins had pulled Jack's tail clean out. But before the fairies recovered their breath the little rabbit was half way across the forest crying in three different languages. And next morning when he saw how the fairies had stretched his ears, and he looked at the poor little piece that the goblins had left of his tail, he cried some more.
But ever [after] that he ran away from everybody and minded his own business. Which is a good thing.
The Forgetful Poet and His Riddles
The answers to our friend's cookbook puzzles were floating island, which is surely a geographical pudding, and cottage pudding HAS a sort of architectural sound; flannel cakes, White Mountain cake, marble cake and sponge cake finish up the set. No wonder the poor fellow was puzzled. As to the islands you have probably guessed by this time that they were the Spice islands, Madeira, Canary islands, Solomon's island and last of all the Shetland islands.
The dear fellow must be spending his time studying his map, and that's a pretty hard thing to do in June, is it not? He says you will have to make out with three riddles this week as he's going fishing. Perhaps he'll tell us about his trip next week. I hope so! At any rate here are the three riddles mentioned:
On Africa's coast
'Pon my word
There's a gulf that
Is named for a bird.
And on India's shore
There's a bay, and what's more
It is named for a
(Only it's not!)
And, besides all this, he wants to know why a fish is like a shopkeeper, and why a mouse is like a telescope. I don't believe he knows the answer to that one himself. Do you?
[Answers next time. No prizes will be offered--this is merely a historical presentation of Thompson's writings.]
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