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'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?
SOME LITTLE AMERICAN ISLANDS
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.