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'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.
SEEN AND HEARD
"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.