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 "Our Landlady" series of columns in the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, January 25, 1890.
"It beats all," said our landlady, as she threw down the plate of pancakes and wiped the turner on her apron, "it beats all how hard the times really is. There's no end to the sufferin', right here in our own neighborhood - excuse me, colonel, but your a butterin' of that cake the second time! Why, only yesterday a poor woman from the country was beggin' the grocery man to trust her for a pint o' kerosene, and he wouldn't let her have it. It made my heart bleed, that's what it did, and if any o' you boarders had a paid up lately I'd have gin it to her myself."
Here Tom looked rather red, and said hastily, "But, Mrs. Bilkins, she might have been an impostor."
"Nonsense," replied the landlady, moving the syrup out of the colonel's reach, "the country people hain't got a cent - nor the city ones neither for that matter! Even the hotels is economizing. Don't it look bad for Al. Ward to eat at the Sherman House and Jim Ringrose go sneakin' down to Ward's for lunch?"
"Mrs. Bilkins!" cried the colonel, "are you trying to starve us? Let me tell you, ma'am, that I for one won't be economized on. Fetch on the cakes!" The landlady darted a wicked look at him and retired to the kitchen.
"The times are bad," said the doctor, thoughtfully, as he removed the grounds from his coffee, "any one would think the prevailing epidemic would help my business, but it don't. Nine out of ten who declare they have la grippe are impostors, and the other one suffers tortures rather than pay for a prescription because he thinks the desease isn't fatal.
"That's false economy."
"Economy!" shrieked the landlady, reappearing with the hot cakes, "everybody's economizin'! What do you think o' Nat. Wendell's chewin' both ends of his toothpick, and Frank Beard blackin' of his own boots, an' Skip Salisbury refusin' to shake for the cigars, and Cholly Brockway's stayin' at Columbia three weeks rather than pay the fare home to see his girl? There's economy for you!"
The colonel picked his teeth with a ruminating air.
"If," said he, "I had any money, I too would economize. But it's impossible to economize on nothing."
"Why, gentlemen;" continued the landlady, sitting down across the arms of the baby's high chair, and waving the empty pancake plate with the air of a newly elected speaker to a brand new House, "why, see how the uncommon council is economizin'! Ain't they hired a lot o' poor men to plant sign posts in the snow, so as to keep them from starvin' and obligin' the city to bury 'em?
"Ain't they cut down poor Major Barrett's printing bill to $1700, when they might have gin him five thousand? And he such a nice, pleasant gentleman, too! I declare it's too aggravating. But economy must begin somewhere, and why not with the uncommon council - hey?"
But the boarders had quietly stolen away, and the landlady having wiped the mouth of the syrup jug with her finger, put it in her mouth (the finger, that is) and retired to the kitchen in a triumphant mood.
The Puzzle Corner
The answers to last week's alphabet riddles were pea-p, tea-t, ewe-u, jay-j-, eye-i-, que-q-, bee-b-, ell-l-, sea-c-. The word IIIII was capitalized.
A Riddle or Two to Puzzle You
Here are some mythological puzzles for a change. Can you guess -
What god of the woods and fields is named by a humble cooking utensil?
The same utensil plus the entrance to a house and the first letter of the alphabet will give a mythological maiden who brought grief to the world through her curiosity.
A month and a letter of the alphabet will give another goddess.
Who is the fairies' miller?
[Answers next time.]
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