Thursday, September 15, 2016


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of The Cowardly Lion of Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard in Oz, and The Wish Express, etc.
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, February 27, 1916.

Once upon a time two brothers set out from London, to seek their fortunes. They were tall, handsome and healthy, but possessed of no other riches.

They had not gone far before they came to a little girl sitting upon a stile. She was crying bitterly. The first brother, whose name was John, stopped and leaning over asked her what was the matter? “Tut! Tut! What foolishness!” exclaimed the other brother impatiently. “Are we to stop for every sniffling youngster whom we meet? I, for my part, wish to get along in the world and make my fortune. I cannot afford to waste my time on things for which I get no return!” John, the first brother, paid no attention to George, the second brother, but taking out his handkerchief he kindly wiped the little girls tears, and seating himself upon a stone, took her on his lap. Then he pulled out some loose sheets of paper, which he had in his pocket, and began drawing rabbits and bowwows and all sort of funny beasts, so that presently the little girl was clapping her hands with merriment.

At this, George, grumbling something about “Nonsense and Ne’er-do-well!” stamped off down the road by himself. John, meanwhile, drew one thing and another and the more the little maid laughed the happier he felt and the better his pictures became. Just as he was putting the finishing touches to a sketch of the little girl herself, along came a fine carriage with prancing white horses.

“Daddy! Daddy!” cried the little girl, jumping out of John’s lap and running toward the carriage. The white horses were drawn up in a jiffy and out of the carriage sprang a courtly gentleman. And next thing you know, the first brother was rolling gayly down the road in the fine carriage between the little girl and her father, and it wasn’t long before they passed the second brother trudging wearily along on foot. He cried out to his brother, but John and the little girl’s father were so busy talking that they did not hear him. To tell the truth, that gentleman was so grateful for John’s kindness to his little girl, who had been lost, and so delighted with the pictures he had made for her, that he invited him home to dinner on the spot. And from that day fortune smiled upon the first brother. His pictures, drawn to give a little girl pleasure, proved more valuable than he knew. The little girl’s father showed them to all his friends, who immediately commissioned John to paint their portraits, and the portraits of their wives and children, and finally he had so much work and so many friends that he was happy as the day was long.

The second brother tramped along crossly by himself and at nightfall tapped upon the door of a small cottage. The door was opened by a tiny little old lady. George asked her roughly for a night’s lodging. This the little old lady agreed to give him if George cut her wood. He took the ax that she gave him and going sulkily into the yard cut a small quantity of wood. When he carried it into the kitchen the little old lady, who had set out a comfortable supper for him, stared in amazement. “Why have you cut so little?” she asked in surprise. “I’ve cut an amount which I consider equal to my supper and lodging and no more and no less. I am out to make my fortune and cannot cut wood for nothing!” announced George, sitting comfortably down by the fire.

“Indeed!” cried the little old lady, stamping her foot. “Indeed! Then take that for which you have paid!” Throwing a loaf no larger than a man’s fist into his lap, she called her son, who hustled him out of doors in no time. And so things went, from bad to worse, for everywhere the second brother went he tried to bargain and bully folks into giving him more than he earned. All he thought of was getting—of giving he knew nothing.

At last, finding that the world had small use for his talents, he joined a gang of thieves and after many adventures was caught and brought to trial. In those days thieves were hung, and hung he should certainly have been if his brother John had not heard of the proceedings in time. So famous had John become by now that upon his recommendation the wicked brother was released. He generously built his brother a little house upon his own grounds and there the selfish fellow passed the remainder of his days, scolding fate and fortune and everybody but himself for his ill-luck. For he never learned that the way to fortune and to happiness is through giving, not getting.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 12, 1920.

Puzzle Corner

The school supplies hidden in the Forgetful Poet’s verses were: Ruler, tablets, pen, ink, study and report.

A color will name a land
And a color will name a sea,
And you will find them if you look
In your geography!

What Musical Instruments?

A girl’s name will give you one.

The center of an apple plus something fishermen use will give another.

A name for certain parts of the body will give one used in churches.

A word meaning to dwell continuously on one subject will give another.

Certain animals carry musical instruments on their heads.

And that is enough, don’t you think?

[Answers next time.] 

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