Wednesday, December 30, 2015


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of Speedy in Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, The Wish Express, "King, King! Double King!" etc.
Illustrated by Frank Godwin

Originally published in the Phildelphia Public Ledger,  October 12, 1919.

HEIGHO—there was once a Kingdom where the sky was always blue—the King always kind and the people always happy! They sang from morning till night—the King louder than all the rest. He even sang in his sleep. Yes—really! So, no wonder it happened—no wonder at all!

Listen—one morning as the fiddlers were fiddling the jolliest tune imaginable and the King singing away for dear life—my stars!—his voice, his beautiful voice—cracked and broke into about twenty pieces. Think of it! The fiddlers stopped fiddling—the Queen wept and called for her smelling salts—the wise men came hurrying from every direction. Some said—“Do this”—and some said, “Do that”—but nobody did anything till the old Court Doctor arrived.

He put on his horn spectacles and looked down the King’s throat. “Say AH—!” ordered the little man. Then he shook his head and began looking all around.

“Where are the pieces?” he cried in a loud voice—“The King’s voice is broken and cannot be mended till we find the pieces.” Every one looked and looked—but nobody could find them till all at once the Doctor spied the King’s pet duck. “Aha!” he roared, pointing at the poor creature—“So YOU have eaten the pieces—well then the King must eat YOU!”

So he did—though very sorrowfully, in a huge pasty—and would you believe it—his voice did mend—but ever afterward it had a strange sound—almost—yes, almost like the quack of his duck—but as the Doctor said over and over—the only way to mend a voice is to assemble the pieces, for a voice is one thing that cannot be put in splints. And he is perfectly right about that.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 23, 1920.

The Puzzle Corner

The Forgetful Poet seems to be full of ideas in the spring. The answers to his various rhymes and riddles last week were palette, and a hen would feather stitch if she sewed. The missing clothing from his verses were pumps, hose, cap, waist, suit and boot.

The week he begs to state that his puzzles are very stately. I do not know just what he means, but perhaps he has concealed some states in these ridiculous lines. They may be abbreviated.

A Comical State of Affairs

O, send for Henry Prim, Md.,
Miss Ellen is quite ill,
Said Minn to pa and then to me
Oh, la, my child, keep still!

Sweet Cal, she had a mass of hair
Tenn times her share, I wis!
’Tis hard to wash and quite a care
To Cal, I’m sure it is.

Conn had a little Noah’s Ark,
I have a little store
With salt and scales and sample cans
And oilcloth on the floor.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2015 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


By L. Frank Baum
Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Boy Fortune Hunters in the Yucatan, 

Excerpted from The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, 1902.

When you remember that no child, until Santa Claus began his travels, had ever known the pleasure of possessing a toy, you will understand how joy crept into the homes of those who had been favored with a visit from the good man, and how they talked of him day by day in loving tones and were honestly grateful for his kindly deeds. It is true that great warriors and mighty kings and clever scholars of that day were often spoken of by the people; but no one of them was so greatly beloved as Santa Claus, because none other was so unselfish as to devote himself to making others happy. For a generous deed lives longer than a great battle or a king's decree of a scholar's essay, because it spreads and leaves its mark on all nature and endures through many generations.

The bargain made with the Knook Prince changed the plans of Claus for all future time; for, being able to use the reindeer on but one night of each year, he decided to devote all the other days to the manufacture of playthings, and on Christmas Eve to carry them to the children of the world.

But a year's work would, he knew, result in a vast accumulation of toys, so he resolved to build a new sledge that would be larger and stronger and better-fitted for swift travel than the old and clumsy one.

His first act was to visit the Gnome King, with whom he made a bargain to exchange three drums, a trumpet and two dolls for a pair of fine steel runners, curled beautifully at the ends. For the Gnome King had children of his own, who, living in the hollows under the earth, in mines and caverns, needed something to amuse them.

In three days the steel runners were ready, and when Claus brought the playthings to the Gnome King, his Majesty was so greatly pleased with them that he presented Claus with a string of sweet-toned sleigh-bells, in addition to the runners.

"These will please Glossie and Flossie," said Claus, as he jingled the bells and listened to their merry sound. "But I should have two strings of bells, one for each deer."

"Bring me another trumpet and a toy cat," replied the King, "and you shall have a second string of bells like the first."

"It is a bargain!" cried Claus, and he went home again for the toys.

The new sledge was carefully built, the Knooks bringing plenty of strong but thin boards to use in its construction. Claus made a high, rounding dash-board to keep off the snow cast behind by the fleet hoofs of the deer; and he made high sides to the platform so that many toys could be carried, and finally he mounted the sledge upon the slender steel runners made by the Gnome King.

It was certainly a handsome sledge, and big and roomy. Claus painted it in bright colors, although no one was likely to see it during his midnight journeys, and when all was finished he sent for Glossie and Flossie to come and look at it.

The deer admired the sledge, but gravely declared it was too big and heavy for them to draw.

"We might pull it over the snow, to be sure," said Glossie; "but we would not pull it fast enough to enable us to visit the far-away cities and villages and return to the Forest by daybreak."

"Then I must add two more deer to my team," declared Claus, after a moment's thought.

"The Knook Prince allowed you as many as ten. Why not use them all?" asked Flossie. "Then we could speed like the lightning and leap to the highest roofs with ease."

"A team of ten reindeer!" cried Claus, delightedly. "That will be splendid. Please return to the Forest at once and select eight other deer as like yourselves as possible. And you must all eat of the casa plant, to become strong, and of the grawle plant, to become fleet of foot, and of the marbon plant, that you may live long to accompany me on my journeys. Likewise it will be well for you to bathe in the Pool of Nares, which the lovely Queen Zurline declares will render you rarely beautiful. Should you perform these duties faithfully there is no doubt that on next Christmas Eve my ten reindeer will be the most powerful and beautiful steeds the world has ever seen!"

So Glossie and Flossie went to the Forest to choose their mates, and Claus began to consider the question of a harness for them all.

In the end he called upon Peter Knook for assistance, for Peter's heart is as kind as his body is crooked, and he is remarkably shrewd, as well. And Peter agreed to furnish strips of tough leather for the harness.

This leather was cut from the skins of lions that had reached such an advanced age that they died naturally, and on one side was tawny hair while the other side was cured to the softness of velvet by the deft Knooks. When Claus received these strips of leather he sewed them neatly into a harness for the ten reindeer, and it proved strong and serviceable and lasted him for many years.

The harness and sledge were prepared at odd times, for Claus devoted most of his days to the making of toys. These were now much better than the first ones had been, for the immortals often came to his house to watch him work and to offer suggestions. It was Necile's idea to make some of the dolls say "papa" and "mama." It was a thought of the Knooks to put a squeak inside the lambs, so that when a child squeezed them they would say "baa-a-a-a!" And the Fairy Queen advised Claus to put whistles in the birds, so they could be made to sing, and wheels on the horses, so children could draw them around. Many animals perished in the Forest, from one cause or another, and their fur was brought to Claus that he might cover with it the small images of beasts he made for playthings. A merry Ryl suggested that Claus make a donkey with a nodding head, which he did, and afterward found that it amused the little ones immensely. And so the toys grew in beauty and attractiveness every day, until they were the wonder of even the immortals.

When another Christmas Eve drew near there was a monster load of beautiful gifts for the children ready to be loaded upon the big sledge. Claus filled three sacks to the brim, and tucked every corner of the sledge-box full of toys besides.

Then, at twilight, the ten reindeer appeared and Flossie introduced them all to Claus. They were Racer and Pacer, Reckless and Speckless, Fearless and Peerless, and Ready and Steady, who, with Glossie and Flossie, made up the ten who have traversed the world these hundreds of years with their generous master. They were all exceedingly beautiful, with slender limbs, spreading antlers, velvety dark eyes and smooth coats of fawn color spotted with white.

Claus loved them at once, and has loved them ever since, for they are loyal friends and have rendered him priceless service.

The new harness fitted them nicely and soon they were all fastened to the sledge by twos, with Glossie and Flossie in the lead. These wore the strings of sleigh-bells, and were so delighted with the music they made that they kept prancing up and down to make the bells ring.

Claus now seated himself in the sledge, drew a warm robe over his knees and his fur cap over his ears, and cracked his long whip as a signal to start.

Instantly the ten leaped forward and were away like the wind, while jolly Claus laughed gleefully to see them run and shouted a song in his big, hearty voice:

       "With a ho, ho, ho!
       And a ha, ha, ha!
And a ho, ho, ha, ha, hee!
       Now away we go
       O'er the frozen snow,
As merry as we can be!

       There are many joys
       In our load of toys,
As many a child will know;
       We'll scatter them wide
       On our wild night ride
O'er the crisp and sparkling snow!"

Now it was on this same Christmas Eve that little Margot and her brother Dick and her cousins Ned and Sara, who were visiting at Margot's house, came in from making a snow man, with their clothes damp, their mittens dripping and their shoes and stockings wet through and through. They were not scolded, for Margot's mother knew the snow was melting, but they were sent early to bed that their clothes might be hung over chairs to dry. The shoes were placed on the red tiles of the hearth, where the heat from the hot embers would strike them, and the stockings were carefully hung in a row by the chimney, directly over the fireplace. That was the reason Santa Claus noticed them when he came down the chimney that night and all the household were fast asleep. He was in a tremendous hurry and seeing the stockings all belonged to children he quickly stuffed his toys into them and dashed up the chimney again, appearing on the roof so suddenly that the reindeer were astonished at his agility.

"I wish they would all hang up their stockings," he thought, as he drove to the next chimney. "It would save me a lot of time and I could then visit more children before daybreak."

When Margot and Dick and Ned and Sara jumped out of bed next morning and ran downstairs to get their stockings from the fireplace they were filled with delight to find the toys from Santa Claus inside them. In face, I think they found more presents in their stockings than any other children of that city had received, for Santa Claus was in a hurry and did not stop to count the toys.

Of course they told all their little friends about it, and of course every one of them decided to hang his own stockings by the fireplace the next Christmas Eve. Even Bessie Blithesome, who made a visit to that city with her father, the great Lord of Lerd, heard the story from the children and hung her own pretty stockings by the chimney when she returned home at Christmas time.

On his next trip Santa Claus found so many stockings hung up in anticipation of his visit that he could fill them in a jiffy and be away again in half the time required to hunt the children up and place the toys by their bedsides.

The custom grew year after year, and has always been a great help to Santa Claus. And, with so many children to visit, he surely needs all the help we are able to give him.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 16, 1920.

 The Puzzle Corner

Well, sir, you all know your weights and measures and the answers to last week’s verses. Howsomever, I’ll put them in. They were: Gill, yard, quire, ounce, foot, pound, rod, grain and reams.

And now I’d like to have you note
An artist’s tool is in your throat.
(Which one?)

If a hen should sew might not she choose
A simple ----- stitch to use.


All of the missing words in this poem may be worn at some time or other.

Now man the -----
Get out the -----
The ship’s afire
The sea has rose!
(What shocking grammar.)
The farmer hoped to -----tivate
Sweet Anne, he’d try at any rate,
And without ----- of time or money
He went to call upon her, honey,
Her father frowned upon his -----
And sent him off betimes to -----.

Why is a hen like a writer?

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2015 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of The Royal Book of Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard in Oz, and The Wish Express, etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 21, 1919.

A week before Christmas and nothing had been done about it! No, sir, not one thing! All the scribes and wise men of the court had been poring over catalogues for months, and the prime minister had visited every shop in the kingdom, but here it was, as I say, the week before Christmas and nothing done.

Instead of jollity and cheer the whole kingdom was plunged in gloom. And all because—well, I’m sure you will laugh at the idea—the young Prince of Pumperdink could not find a single thing he wanted for Christmas. There he sat at a golden table and there before him lay a long, white scroll, headed thusly—“Christmas List of His Most Royal Highness, the Prince of Pumperdink.”

A continual stream of courtiers passed through the room, each one with a suggestion, but at each the prince would sigh deeply and shake his head.

“Have that already. Have dozens of those. No—no—NO!”

And out the courtiers would tiptoe, for the prince was growing so cross that not infrequently he flung the golden ornaments on his desk after the offending lords and ladies. Shocking, I admit, but, nevertheless, true!

“What’s the good of Christmas when you won’t get any presents!” he grumbled. “And last year I received the same things I did the year before that—”

“But your majesty has already everything that heart can desire!” mildly observed Jan, the court jester.

“But his highness the king demands that I write this list, as he spent two months shopping for me last year and still found nothing that I had not already. Can none of you blockheads about here do anything?” the prince screamed, his patience entirely exhausted.

“I’ll look into the matter,” chuckled the jester, refusing to be ruffled, and turning a somersault which made the prince smile in spite of himself.

“Why are you the only one who has not suggested anything to me?” exclaimed the boy, suddenly.

“You never asked me,” laughed the jester. “Let the wise men of the country solve the problem—for they tell me I know nothing but nonsense.”

Just then a page from the king came timidly into the hall and asked the prince if his list was ready, as the king and queen could not wait any longer.

“NO!” roared the prince, with such a threatening gesture that the poor little page fell over backward. Thumping on the table, the prince called loudly for the scribes and wise men, who were busily at work in the next room.

“Write this list—and at once!” he ordered. “And see that there is nothing on it that I have already!”
The old wise men seized the list with trembling hands and retired in great confusion. My, how un-Christmassy everything was. One would think that this prince was a terrible chap. But, really, at other times no one could be more considerate and charming.

Jan sighed and looked out the window, where a lot of peasant’s children were rolling in the snow. “Would your majesty care to skate this afternoon?” he asked. “Or we might go see the Christmas players in the village,” he suggested, brightly.But the prince only shook his head and stared glumly into the fire. The jester continued to look out of the window—truly it was a problem and truly his young master needed helping. But could he, a humble jester, hope to solve a question that even the wise men gave up as hopeless? He drummed on the pane absently, and continued to watch the merry youngsters below. Then, all at once he sprang into the air and snapped his fingers with glee.

“I have it—I have it!” he exulted, hopping around on one foot.

The prince looked up in surprise. “What?” he asked curiously.

“Why, the answer to your riddle,” laughed Jan. “Listen—” He whispered long and earnestly in the prince’s ear and next thing the two went rushing out of the room together.

“The royal coach at once—at once—do you hear me?” called the prince.

“At once, at once, and lively please. And mind your q’s and mind your p’s,” trilled Jan, hopping after the prince.

The footmen ran this way and that, and next thing the great coach of state, with ten prancing horses, came rattling up to the door.

“We’ll drive ourselves, thank you,” said the prince, and while everyone stared with wide eyes, Jan and he ran up to the prince’s apartment.

Down they came, with arms full of rich robes, and games, and books, and toys of every sort you have ever imagined. Then up and down ten times more, till not a single thing but the beds and chairs remained, ran the two.

They piled it helter-skelter into the coach, and with a wild whoop drove off toward the village. Was there ever such a gay ride? To right and left the prince tossed his treasures among the cheering peasant children, while Jan held in the high-stepping white horses.

Then back they galloped for a second load and a third. Even the royal stables were visited and all the prince’s pet ponies trotted out and given to the little children.

And fun! Why, the prince had never had so much fun in all his royal young life. “Why, this is a regular Christmas!” he beamed, as he and Jan trotted the tired horses back. The cheers of the village still sounded in their ears, and the joy on the faces of boys and girls who had received the gifts was no greater than the happiness reflected on the faces of Jan and the prince.

“Christmas is giving,” chuckled the jester. “And NOW, Prince Pauper, what a Christmas list we shall write together, so that the king and queen will also have the happiness of giving to you.” And what a list it was, indeed, for the prince had kept only his dog and needed everything, from buckled shoes to collar buttons.

“I’ll do this every year,” laughed the Prince of Pumperdink. And I hope he will, don’t you?

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 9, 1920.

The Puzzle Corner

The nicknames of the great people referred to last week did not puzzle many of you and there were so many right lists that there is hardly any use in putting the answers here. “The Little Colonel” was Napoleon, “Old Hickory” Andrew Jackson, “The Bard of Avon” Shakespeare, “The Border Minstrel” Sir Walter Scott, “Rough and Ready” Zachary Taylor, “The Great Commoner” William Pitt, “The Quaker Poet” Whittier, “The Maid of Orleans” Joan of Arc, “The Great Emancipator” Abraham Lincoln, “Poor Richard” Benjamin Franklin. The book people were Glumdalclitch and Tiny Tim.

The Forgetful Poet says it is time he weighed and measured his words. He has done so in the following poem and you will find the missing ones in some weights and measures.

Jack and ----- they fell quite hard,
They had no pump in their back-----.
Why did they run, may I in-----?
Pray, was the water for a fire?

Oh, if they’d had an ----- of wit,
They never would have run with it.
They lost their -----ing, I’ll be bound
One got a bump, and one a -----.

Another character quite odd
Is Simon and his fishing ------.
Poor Simon really was too dense,
He didn’t have a ----- of sense!
But here I’m writing ----- and -----
Of foolishness myself, it seems!

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2015 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


By Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Author of The Rundelstone of Oz, Merry Go Round in Oz, The Moorchild, etc.

Originally published in The Orbit, the 1931 yearbook of Classen High School, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Eloise Jarvis was a junior and a member of the school’s literary group The Goose Quill Club. This is her earliest known published creative writing.

Swaying and Waving,
And weaving in fantastic rhythm,
Trembling in the sudden laughter of the blue wind,
Cluster the reeds of the marsh;
Slim as silver swords,
Graceful as fingers of smoke,
Their roots clutching the slimy mud.

Loving the grasp of tiny bird feet of their length
For a brief, dipping second,
And snapping up again to watch white wings
Beat the air over the dimpled marsh pools;
Intimate with little brown frogs;
With jeweled dragon-flies and winged marsh-hawks.

Moving with rippling slimness and smiling gravity;
With gypsy dancing and love of the wind
And the creatures of their swamp;
With constant pointing to the stars,
And awe of the moon;
With wild, winning, wayward swaying
From day to summer day.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 2, 1920.


Puzzle Corner

The farm implements and terms used in last week’s verses were: Hoe, rake, stock, pen, harrowing, patches and crops. The dear fellow wants to find out how many great people you know wee enough to call by their nicknames. How many can you recognize?

The Little Corporal
Old Hickory
The Bard of Avon
The Border Minstrel
Rough and Ready
The Great Commoner
The Quaker Poet
The Maid of Orleans
The Great Emancipator
Poor Richard

We shall have to give our history bump a jog I’m thinking to name some of these celebrities. And here besides is a verse containing several booky people.

Book People

I know a little giant girl,
Her name is -----.
And if you’ve read a certain book
Of travels you’ll know which
                   (One I mean).

I know a little book boy, too,
Quite cheerful, though he’s lame.
He’s in a book by Dickens. Now
You’ll surely know his name!

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2015 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of The Royal Book of Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard in Oz, and The Wish Express, etc.

Pictures by Charles J. Coll

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 7, 1919.

Oh once or twice, which e’er you please,
There sailed the mill pond main
A pirate troll—who took his toll
From rich and poor and plain!

The villagers of Lilypond,
The turtles, frogs, and elves
Kept fast at home and stored their treasure
On their highest shelves.

But now and then, they had to cross
The pond to get supplies,
And one day Tom Thumb Frog set out
To fetch some cooking flies.

Before his boat was half across,
That buccaneering troll
Had seized him, Tommy's watch and chairn
And new green suit he stole!

"Now you shall walk the plank!" he cried,
Tom did, and forthwith sank,
But coming up quite merrily,
Made faces from the bank.
The troll had also caught a duck,
He tried to hang the bird,
It just flew up and snapped the rope,
How perfectly absurd!
That night we find the little troll
A-writing in his log.
"You cannot hang a bird, I fear,
Nor can you drown a frog!"
                              (Well it's a good thing.)

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 25, 1920.

The Puzzle Corner

Of course, the great American national game mentioned last week was baseball and the missing words filled in by baseball terms were: foul, fan, bat, pitcher, base and ball.

The Forgetful Poet has been down on an old friend’s farm and he wants to know whether you can fill in his verses with the proper implements and farm terms.


Ahem, let’s see now what I know.
The bard sat down, ahem! What -----
An idea I must have to make
A story; my poor brains I’ll -----.

Of ink and paper he’d a -----.
With ----- in hand he watched the clock.
His brows drawn up, his eyelids narrowing,
To think at all is simply -----.

The ideas came to him in snatches
Some old, some new, he quickly -----
Them together; then out -----
A dandy plot. At once he stops.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2015 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015


By L. Frank Baum
Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Boy Fortune Hunters in the Yucatan, 

Originally published in A Child’s Garden, August and September 1925.

“I cannot understand how this furniture gets in such disorder every time I go shopping,” said Mrs. Blandford, severely. “I do wish, Joslyn Stanton Blandford, you would be more careful and less mischievous.”

Joslyn looked at his mother with round, grave eyes. He knew that when she called him “Joslyn Stanton” she was quite provoked, and it grieved him to be so misjudged. <br><br>

“It was the same way when I was at the matinee the other day,” she continued. “Everything topsy turvy and out of place when I came home. How in the world do you manage to do it, Joslyn Stanton Blandford?”

“I don’t, Mama,” said Joslyn, softly. “I haven’t been into the living room while you were away.”

“Don’t tell me that!” exclaimed Mrs. Blandford, irritably. “Do you want me to believe the furniture joggles itself out of place?” Joslyn was silent. He could not explain the disorder in the living room, for he knew nothing about it.

“I shall ask your father to talk to you,” said his mother, removing her wraps. “I can understand boys getting into mischief; but it horrifies me, Joslyn, to find you so obstinate and sullen and daring to deny you are to blame. Why don’t you own up to it, in a manly way?”

“I didn’t do it, Mama!” was all the little boy could say; and then he ran away to his own room and cried, for this was a sad homecoming after waiting so long for his dear mother to return from her shopping expedition. He had been all the afternoon in his play room, cutting pictures of figures out of magazines and fitting clothes to them, and except that he had run frequently to the hall window to see if mama was coming, he hand not left this room once while she had been gone. Yes; once he had asked Suzanne for a glass of water; but that was all.

Suzanne had been in the kitchen ironing her aprons, or doing other work. She was an unsociable maid and did not like children very well, so Joslyn seldom bothered her, even when he was left alone.

Mrs. Blandford was not usually so cross with her little son. She had had a trying day, vainly endeavoring to match some dress goods, and so her temper was rather irritable when she returned home. A glance into the big living room had shown her that her carefully arranged furniture was considerably out of place. Even the piano had been moved out and stood with one end against the wall and the other far away. The table cover was wrinkled and half off and one of the china shepherdesses on the mantel was so near the edge it was a wonder it had not fallen and smashed to pieces.

She knew she had left the room in perfect condition when she went away, for she was a careful housekeeper; so only Joslyn, she thought, could be to blame for the disorder.

After a little her mother’s heart reproached her for being so severe with her only child and she went to his room and tried to get him to admit his fault. But the boy was really sullen now, resenting the fact that his word had been doubted, so it was a hapless hour for both mother and son before the father and husband came home to dinner.

Mr. Blandford was a jovial man and very fond of his family. When he asked what was the matter with Joslyn, his wife, despite her threat, refrained from telling him how bad his boy had been. Joslyn ate little and was silent and very still, but he went to bed soon after dinner and forgot all his troubles in sleep, as a boy will.

Next morning only a recollection of his unhappiness remained to disturb him and he was almost his old self again by the time breakfast was over. Nor did Mrs. Blandford refer to the affair again until after luncheon, when Joslyn saw her putting on her things

“Are you going out again, Mama?” he asked.

“Yes, dear; our bridge club meets at Mrs. Boothe’s this afternoon,” she replied. Then she bent down to kiss him and added: “Be a good boy, Joslyn, and don’t get boisterous. I don’t want to find the house in the condition I did yesterday. If you need anything, go to Suzanne. She will be in her room mending.”

Then, as the boy stood silent, with a little frown upon his brow, she walked into the hall and drew together the sliding doors that shut off the living room--almost together, that is, for these doors would never come quite together, for some reason. She next pulled the heavy drapery across the rod above the door, as an additional barrier to the room.

Joslyn watched her, and so did the cat--a lean, sleek yellow animal that had come uninvited to the house several days before and had been adopted by Joslyn at once. Mrs. Blandford did not tell her little son not to enter the living room while she was gone, but he gathered a hint as to her wishes when she tried to close the sliding doors and afterwards drew the drapery over them.

When she had gone Joslyn still stood in the hall. The cat had curled herself up under the table and pretended to be asleep. She was not a sociable companion, and although the boy had taken her into his house and fed her liberally the lean yellow creature would not play with him, but stole through the rooms like a shadow and devoted herself only to her own comfort.

Joslyn went into his play room across the hall and sat down upon the floor to cut out pictures. Then he began to wonder how the furniture in the big living room could have become so disordered two separate times without anyone having entered the place while his mother was away. He had himself been accused, yet he knew very well he was innocent. Suzanne seldom came into that part of the house. Who, then, could have been the mischief-maker?--unless it was the cat.

He glanced up and found he could see through his open door across the dim hall to where the cat lay curled up asleep. No; so small a creature could not possibly have moved all the furniture. Had not mama complained that even the big piano had been dragged out of place?

Had she stopped to think, she might have known even Joslyn could not do that. But as he looked thoughtfully into the hall he saw the cat slowly arise, glance around her, and then stealthily creep behind the drapery that shut off the living room. So slyly had she moved that not a sound was heard; but he could see the curtain wave gently as she crawled behind it to the opening between the partly closed doors.

The boy was now curious, and on hands and knees he crept forward as softly as possible and crossed the hall to the thick drapery. He crawled behind it as the cat had done and then found that the sliding doors had been left several inches apart. So he sat down, with the drapery at his back and his eyes commanding all the interior of the room, and looked to see what was going on.

The cat had lain down upon a rug and curled herself up again, but her eyes were not closed in sleep. Instead, they gazed steadily at the mantel where vases and ornaments stood on either side the pretty French clock.

Something in the animal’s attitude made Joslyn decide to remain, half hidden as he was, and watch her. It was a long wait, and once or twice he was tempted to abandon his post. But finally the clock struck two, and then his patience was amply rewarded.

Instantly the cat arose and said in a clear, distinct voice: “Two o’clock! It’s time for our frolic, friends--the third and last one we shall be able to enjoy.”

Joslyn’s heart nearly stopped beating, he was so amazed to hear a cat talk; and then it began to throb with excitement, for one of the dainty Dresden shepherdesses on the mantel leaned forward, losing all its china stiffness, and replied to the cat’s speech.

“The last time, you say? Why is that?” she asked.

“Because my visit here ends today and I must journey on to other places,” was the answer.

A taboret came trotting on its four legs from a corner and awkwardly approached the yellow cat. Joslyn thought he could see a comical face faintly out-lined on the side of the taboret, although he had never noticed it before.

“Why don’t you tell us your story?” asked the little thing, in a squeaky voice.

“Why should you wish to hear it?” replied the cat.

“You’ve brought us to life and given us some good times--which we never enjoyed before since we were made,” said the taboret. “So we’d like to know who our good friend is.”

“Moreover,” added the shepherdess, who was now sitting on the edge of the mantle shelf and slowly swinging her feet, “if this is the last time we shall ever be able to move, we will have ages in which to think over these adventures, and your story will give us one more thing to think about.”

The cat made a queer purring sound that Joslyn thought was meant for a laugh.

“Very well,” it said, quietly; “I will tell you who I am and why I am here. Also I will tell you why I have given you these hours of frolic and play.”

“Wait a minute! wait a minute!” cried several shrill little voices, and to Joslyn’s astonishment all the pieces of furniture began to move away from their places and prance into the center of the room, where they surrounded the cat in an interested group.

“Wait for me, too!” called a voice more deep-toned than the others, and the big piano bent its carved legs and began stalking from the wall to-ward the cat.

“Keep away!” screamed a delicate Chippendale table; “you’ll crush me with your big body.”

“Stay back, awkward!” cried a carved mahogany chair; “do you intend to crowd all the rest of us away?”

“Can’t you hear plainly from where you are?” enquired the second Dresden shepherdess, who had now stepped forward and was leaning gracefully against a big Venetian vase on the mantel.

The piano stopped half way, and its castors gave a groan.

“I’m the most important article in this room,” it said indignantly, “and I must say I consider your remarks very disrespectful.”

“Say whatever you please; we don’t care, as long as you keep your distance,” retorted papa’s reading chair, sliding a little nearer the cat.

“Tut-tut, friends!” called a picture of an old gentleman in a hunting coat, which hung on the wall. “Don’t quarrel, for goodness’ sake. Let us enjoy these moments of freedom while we may.”

“That’s right; you’re spoiling all the fun,” added a Chinese Mandarin, bobbing his head back and forth from his perch on the music cabinet.

The chatter ceased at this rebuke and the cat rubbed its nose softly with one paw and said:

“Of course you know I was born a fairy”; he paused as the furniture, the picture and all listened breathless. “Of course, you know, I was born a fairy. Otherwise I could not have brought you to life. I am of a race of immortals called ryls, whose duty it is to paint the colors on the blossoming flowers. I am the Yellow Ryl, and carry a paint-pot full of yellow to color the buttercups and marigolds and other flowers when they appear upon their plants. It is a pleasant task, and I have enjoyed it for thousands of years. But our king, the White Ryl, is a very touchy and sensitive fellow, and because he thought I answered him impudently one day he resolved to punish me. So he gave me this form of a cat--a creature I always disliked--and commanded me to wander through the world for a year and a day. If I do no mischief in that time I am to be restored to my former condition.” Thus spoke the cat.

“Well, friends, you’ve no idea how hard it is to keep out of mischief for a year and a day especially when one has the shape of such an insignificant animal. I dare not let the stupid human creatures know I am anything more than I appear to be--a wandering, mongrel yellow cat, to be cuffed and kicked by all it meets--so there are few opportunities for enjoyment unless I occasionally exercise my fairy powers. In this house, where I am able to make but a brief stay, I found this room was often left alone for hours together; so I conceived the idea of bringing the furniture and other things here to life, and having a jolly romp with them whien no one was around. My king cannot say this is mischief, for it does no harm to anyone. It is a great relief to me to get away from the matter-of-fact, simple life in which I am now placed, and to watch your absurd antics.”

“Absurd!” cried the taboret.

“Yes; you are all absurd except the two pretty shepherdesses and the pictures,” insisted the cat. “But you are none the less amusing on that account.”

“Your king was right to call you impertinent,” declared the piano, in a discordant key, “I have often heard Mrs. Blandford say I was the finest piano she ever knew, and I am certainly high-toned and aristocratic, Therefore I cannot be absurd.”

‘“I,” said the mandarin, nodding briskly, “represent a high official of the Chinese Empire. There is nothing absurd about me,” and he continued to bob his head emphatically.

“Solid mahogany is always respectable,” said the center table, gravely. “Only a disgraced yellow cat would dare call me absurd.”

“Keep it up, you blockheads,” remarked the old gentleman in the picture, carefully arranging a painted flower in his buttonhole. “Keep it up, and waste, in useless argument, the only hour in which you can ever hope to be alive. Then you will be sorry forever afterward.”

There was a sudden hush at this, and the cat arose and stretched itself with a yawn.

“We will have a dance,” it announced. “Come down, Phoebe, dear, and play the piano.”

“Very well,” replied one of the shepherdesses.

Then the mahogany chair rolled up to the mantel and the center table came and stood beside it. The high back of the chair almost reached to the shelf of the mantel, so Phoebe, the shepherdess, stepped upon the back of the chair, then down to the table, and afterward, by putting a foot upon the arm of the chair and seat, she managed to reach the floor, where she arranged her dainty skirts and bowed to the company.

“Come along. Daphne!” called the cat, and the second shepherdess followed the first and stood beside her.

Phoebe went to the piano and one of the chairs reached out its arms and perched the pretty shepherdess upon the piano stool, where she began running her fingers over the ivory keys.

“Won’t the human people hear the noise?” asked the taboret.

“No,” replied the cat; “not a sound we make can be heard outside this room That is part of my fairy charm. Take four partners, everybody, and dance your best. Daphne, you will waltz with me.”

“I am willing,” answered the second shepherdess.

Joslyn, whose head was now pushed between the sliding doors while his body remained outside, could hear probably because he was in a dim and shadowy position. The boy was so interested in the scene being enacted that he had forgotten all about himself and so no longer felt astonishment at what he beheld.

Phoebe played the piano very well and the merry tune was quite inspiriting. The cat and Daphne first waltzed away together and encircled the big room with movements of considerable grace. They were followed by the mahogany chair and a slender-legged arm chair, and then the taboret waltzed with the music cabinet--which obliged the mandarin to cling on for dear life--and a rocking chair slid around with a magazine rack for a partner. Soon all the furniture in the room had paired and was waltzing gaily--except the center table, which was so big and broad it waltzed alone. The table’s legs were very nimble, however, and as it tipped this way and that the books mama had so carefully arranged upon it tumbled to the floor and began dancing by themselves.

Finally the center table stepped on the cat’s tail, and with a howl of pain the yellow animal turned angrily and pushed the table over, so that it fell with a clatter upon its side. At this Phoebe ended the tune and everything stopped waltzing to take a rest. A couple of chairs raised the table to its feet with their arms, and the accident did not seem to spoil the general good nature at all, although the cat licked its tail tenderly as it it still hurt.

“That was fine!” laughed the center table, fanning itself with its embroidered cover.

“The most fun I ever had!” gurgled the taboret, taking another step or two to show it was not tired.

“I think I’d like a waltz with pretty Daphne,” called the old gentleman from his picture.

“But you are only painted from the knees up,” said the cat, looking at him critically.

“Never mind; half a leg is better than none at all,” answered the gentleman. So the high-backed chair moved up to the wall and the old man stepped out of his picture and reached the floor safely. He wore a red hunting coat and white broadcloth breeches and his face had a genial and kindly expression.

“Pray be good enough to favor me with a waltz, fair shepherdess,” said he, bowing to Daphne. As he half turned around Joslyn saw he was just as thin edgewise as the cloth he was painted upon; but from the front he looked very natural, except that his legs were cut off at the knees.

“Wait a minute!” cried the mandarin, rising from his usual sitting position, “I’m going to waltz with Phoebe.”

“Phoebe has to play the piano,” said the old gentleman.

“Cannot anyone else play it?” asked the mandarin, anxiously.

“No one else has fingers, except Daphne, and I have chosen Daphne for my partner,” was the reply.

“I’ll play the piano,” announced the cat, going to the instrument and springing upon the stool in a single bound.

So the mandarin came down from the music cabinet to waltz with Phoebe, and the cat began playing a tune that was lively and inspiring. The old gentleman whirled away with Daphne and the mandarin danced fairly well with Phoebe. In a few moments all the pieces of furniture joined in the romp and the noise and clatter were so great that Joslyn was amazed because Suzanne did not hear it and come rushing in.

While the frolic and fun was at its height the clock on the mantel suddenly began to strike. At the first stroke the scene changed with marvelous abruptness. The furniture slid and scrambled back into the places where it belonged--or almost into place--the mandarin sprang to his perch on the cabinet and the books hopped upon the table and lay down. The mahogany chair and the table first ran to the mantel, where the two china shepherdesses used them to climb to the shelf, and then they hurried to take their own places.

So swift was the action of all the contents of the room that by the time the clock had deliberately struck three, something like order had taken the place of disorder and all movement had ceased. But Joslyn saw with a feeling of dismay, that to mama’s eyes the living room would be found more disarranged than it had been yesterday, and he dreaded another scolding.

While the cat sat upon the rug calmly washing its face with its paws, the boy arose and walked boldly into the room.

“See here, you Yellow Ryl, or whatever you are,” he said, “I want you to make these things get back where they belong. It’s all right to have fun, and I don’t blame you for that, but you will be making mischief if you get me into trouble, and I’ll be scolded for this disorder unless you fix things up.”

The cat looked at him steadily, but made no reply.

“Oh, I know all about you,” continued Joslyn, “for I saw and heard everything you said and did. But I won’t tell, honest, if you’ll put the furniture back where it belongs. Mama doesn’t know ’bout fairies and she’ll surely think I’m to blame if she finds things scattered ’round this way.”

The cat gazed observantly around the room. The piano, being a clumsy thing at best, was not at all in its place, nor were many of the other pieces of furniture. The old gentleman had jumped into his picture so carelessly that the frame had been joggled and now hung crooked on the wall. The shepherdesses were standing with their backs to the room and the table cover was half off again.

Perhaps the Yellow Ryl realized the boy was justified in making his complaint, and perhaps it feared its king, the White Ryl, might consider this romp in the nature of mischief-making. Anyway, after its inspection of the room the cat slowly waved one paw--and with a slight rustling sound everything was changed.

Even mama’s sharp eyes would not find anything wrong now, Joslyn joyfully acknowledged, and he turned to look at the cat again.

But the strange yellow animal had slipped away and was gone; nor did the boy ever see the creature again.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 18, 1920.

Puzzle Corner

The Forgetful Poet says that most of you got your desserts and the missing ones were preserves, fruits, tart, jumble, brown betty, pie and jelly.

All of his missing words this week, he says, are terms of the great American game of ------ ------?

Behold—the air is full of -----.
I hear the ----- of wings,
And as they fly high in the sky
I think of many things.

One night as I sat down to chat
With friends, in flew a noisome -----.
I seized a towel to chase it out
And broke the water -----’s snout,

Also a teacup and a vase,
And knocked a statue off its -----.
“Be careful!” all my friends did -----,
And straightway scurried through the hall.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2015 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.