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.