Author of Speedy in Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, The Wish Express, "King, King! Double King!" etc.
Originally published in the Phildelphia Public Ledger, April 8, 1917.
There was once a little prince, who had everything he wanted and more besides, and I suppose you are thinking right away, "What a fortunate fellow!" and "How happy he must have been!"
Nothing of the sort. He was the unhappiest boy alive, because - well - because he had not a thing in the world to wish for.
He had more ponies than ever he could ride, more toys than ever he could play with, more books than ever he could read, more candy than ever he could eat and more places to go than he could ever hope to choose from - so he just sat there feeling blue and dull.
Twenty men in waiting stood breathlessly at attention to execute his slightest command and the poor little prince's head ached trying to keep them busy. "For," he reasoned to himself, "it must be very tiresome to stand still all the time!"
This went on and on till the little prince could think of not one thing more he wanted. In the midst of his gorgeous garden and surrounded by his glittering attendants he drooped on his golden throne and nothing could interest or arouse him!
The queen and the king grew very much alarmed and begged him to tell them what he wanted to make him happy. He only shook his head. So off they hastened, the royal carriage clattering into town at a terrible rate. And back they came with all the toy and sweetmeat merchants at their heels.
"Choose any, my son - or all!" implored the king. The prince sighed wearily and then shook his head - so they left them all! Boats by the hundred, games galore - every sort of toy imaginable!
"Leave him alone with them!" whispered one of the wise men, so the king raised his scepter and all the attendants went backing away. Then the king and queen with a great swishing of silk and velvets went away, too, and for the first time he could remember the little prince was all by himself!
He could scarcely believe his eyes. He sat up straight on his golden throne and stared around in delight. Then down he jumped and ran to the very end of the garden, where he could not see one of the hateful toys. "There's not one thing left!" he remarked dismally. "Not one thing in the world!"
"What's that?" piped up a little voice. The prince looked down and there perched on a rose bush sat a little pixie!
"There's not one thing left to wish for!" repeated the prince, regarding her curiously.
"Ho! ho! ho! How funny?" chuckled the pixie, turning a somersault. "A little boy without a want!"
"You would not think it so funny if you had to keep twenty men-in-waiting from getting stiff and tired. I can't think of another thing for them to do for me!" The little prince threw himself down on the ground and began sighing again. "If I only had something to wish for! If I only wanted something!"
The pixie stopped swinging. "You are the only little boy in the world who isn't wanting something!" she remarked slowly. "Dear me! Dear me!"
"What do they want?" The little prince looked up with new interest.
"Look in the lake and I'll show you!" answered the pixie, skipping down to the edge of the water.
So he did, and there he saw hundreds of little boys and the things each wanted most. Some wanted ponies, some wanted boats, some wanted books. "Why!" gasped the little prince, "They want all the things I've got so many of!"
"Yes!" said the pixie, smoothing her rose-petal apron and looking sideways at the little prince, "they do!"
"Well, I wish they could have them!" sighed the prince. "See that little ragged boy, he does so want a dog!" But the pixie was hopping about, clapping her hands and laughing with glee.
"Now you've found them! Now you've found them!" she cried over and over again!
"What?" cried the little boy curiously.
"Why, your wishes and wants!" laughed the pixie. "Didn't you know that it was more fun to want things for other people than for yourself! Here!" She slipped a long list of names into the prince's hand and then disappeared like a soap bubble that has suddenly burst.
Calling for all twenty men-in-waiting at once, the little prince ran up the garden, stumbling over himself fairly in his eagerness! His "I wants!" and "I wishes!" kept the whole court flying, I can tell you, and before evening every little boy on the pixie's list had what he wanted. All the prince's ponies were gone but one, all the dogs but one, all the games but one; in fact, there was just one of everything left. The boys had had so much fun with the prince's gifts that he began to wonder whether he and the doggie and pony and toys that were left could not have some fun, too!
And they did, sweethearts, and after that one boy always came each day to play with the little prince, and as for wishes and wants - well, he discovered the fun of wanting things for other people and not for himself. There was no end to his commands and no end to the happiness in the kingdom where he lived.
THE FORGETFUL POET
The Forgetful Poet Goes Shopping
Everybody guessed the answer to his verses last week. The modest chap wanted a wishing ring. The words omitted were sent, ring and know it.
I bought two dolls
And which was worse
Six neckties and
A book of ------?
I lost my wallet
And my way;
In fact, I've had
A dreadful ------?
Are full of things
But one should have
A pair of ------?
For all are two
Aisles over - or
Just through the arch
Or seventh floor!
Why am I pale
And why in bed?
I've done my shopping
Sir, he ------!
[Answers next time.]
Copyright © 2013 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.