Friday, January 15, 2016


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of The Wishing Horse of Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, The Wish Express, "King, King! Double King!" etc.
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 26, 1918.

In the Clef Kingdom, just two rests and a pause beyond the Scale Domain, lives the singing monarch.

And in all the countries you have ever been, never was there a merrier fellow than he—nor a queerer one!

At the gates of his kingdom stands a shepherd who watches alike the king’s flocks and the king’s highway, letting no man enter there without passing the test.

No sooner does a stranger appear than the shepherd strikes his tuning-fork upon the golden gate and bids the stranger match it with his voice.

And if the voice be flat or sharp, too loud or too harsh, the shepherd shakes his head and the stranger is not admitted, for the man or maid whose voice is not pleasant to the ear has no place in the Clef Kingdom.

Only the sweet and gentle voiced may enter. But once inside the golden gates—how delightful! What singing and dancing and merry-making, and stranger still, no gold is needed there—no gold at all.

If you want aught, you sing for it, and the finest dinners and silk coats may be had for a song.

And constant singing has so affected the merry folk that they are happy all the time and ready to dance at the slightest provocation.

The King himself goes singing and tip-toeing about with the broadest smile in the world, always listening for new notes and always followed by the court fiddlers.

And the only crimes punishable in this strange land are the following; Hoarseness, scolding, loud talking and sadness.

And who has committed one of the first three must keep silent and speak no word for a month, and whoever persists in sadness is banished for a year. So no wonder there is naught to hear but pleasantness and that the merry folk take such care not to catch cold.

Imagine being punished for having a cold, dears and ducks! Could you hold your tongues for a month? Not for a minute, I’ll wager.

But after all, this is no story. One day there came to the gates a Princess riding upon a white mare. The shepherd struck his tuning-fork upon the gold bars and asked her sing, but the Princess shook her head. Now it chanced that the King happened to be standing there behind the shepherd, and so beautiful was the Princess, so sweet and so fair that his royal heart pounded against his ribs. He bowed low and begged her to comply with the slight formality and enter his kingdom and test its hospitality.

The Princess again shook her head, and the King, beside himself with anxiety lest he never see her again, was about to fling wide the gates, when the chief and royalist prime minister stepped forward and whispered long and earnestly in his majesty’s ear.

The King motioned for the Princess to excuse him and hurrying back to his castle summoned all the wise men in the realm to his assistance. For it was very clear that if the law be set aside and the maiden admitted without the tests, then must all other strangers also be admitted. The King shuddered at the thought of his pleasant kingdom invaded by loud and nasal-twanged folk; then thinking of the Princess he groaned, for never had a maiden so taken his fancy and already he was determined to make her his Queen.

The wise men argued this and that, and the King, to keep his sweet guest from running away, sent his finest singers to the gates and ordered a golden tray of dainties to be carried out to her.

The Princess gravely accepted these delicate attentions, while the arguing of the wise men grew so excited that they all were in danger of breaking the law of the land. At the end of a half-hour they had arrived at no decision, and the King, tearing his hair, wished in his heart he had never made such a law. No wonder! The Princess was turning her horse’s head back toward the hills whence she had come.

The shepherd seeing this whispered hastily to the King; then, before his majesty could say so much as “Sirrah!” or “By me troth,” he was on the other side of the gate and next minute had struck the Princess a stinging blow across the hands with his crook!

Never a sound uttered the Princess—but the King! For the first time in the history of the kingdom he screamed with rage, he stamped with fury and would surely have choked the poor shepherd had not the wise men pulled him off.

“Wait, your majesty! It is as I thought. The maiden has no voice, therefore may enter our kingdom without interfering with the law. Had she been deceiving us surely my blow would have brought forth a cry. But, see, your majesty, the lady is dumb! Is it not so, Princess?”

Never a word answered the Princess, but two tears rolled down her cheeks and splashed on the white mare’s silver harness.

Without waiting for more, the King flung open the golden gates and himself led the mare into the kingdom.

And wonder upon wonders, no sooner had he done so than the maiden flung back her head and sang so enchantingly that even the little birds hushed their notes to listen.

If the King were in love before, he was head over heels in love now.

“Love me ever, love me long,
And more than a song,
And more than a song!
For myself love me ever,
For my singing, never—
That is wrong!”

trilled the Princess, and all the courtiers nodded their heads. Yes, they were married, and, as the King loved the Princess when he thought she had no voice at all and loved her for herself, as she had bidden him do, they lived happily, oh, so happily, ever after!

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 6, 1920.
The Puzzle Corner

I guess the Forgetful Poet has gone off fishing for he never turned up at all this week, so I’ll have to tell you the answers to his puzzles myself. The Bear State was Arkansas; the Beaver State Oregon; the Wolverine State Michigan, and the Gopher State Minnesota.

The people from many of the states are nicknamed, too. Can you tell which are which. From what states do the Hoosiers, Foxes, Tar Heels, Panhandlers, Web Feet, Fly-up-the-Creeks and Bean Eaters come?

Besides all this the June Bug would like to know

How many hums in a humming bee?
How many stones in a cherry tree?
How many straws in a strawberry—
Ask Mr. Robin, but don’t ask me.

And can you fill in the missing words:

There once was a lizard
Named -----
Who climbed a high -----
Then grew dizzy.
She fell from the wall,
I believe that is -----;
To be brief, I’m
Uncommonly busy.

[Answers next time.]
Copyright © 2016 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.