Tuesday, November 15, 2016


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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 7, 1917.

Heighho, and do you know why the Earls of Kinsale keep on their hats in the presence of royalty, do you now? I’ll warrant you do not, so listen to my story: Back many a year, in the reign of King John, when every manner of difficulty was settled by wager of battle and Knights did nought else but gird on their armor, there lived a brave man named John De Courcy. And presently we shall come to him.

In those days, as in these, there were constant arguments between countries and the argument in question was about the title of a certain town in France. King John claimed it for England and King Philip for France, and the latter proposed that it be settled by wager of battle. And what a howdedo there was—what  with the erection of galleries, the invitations to notables and picking of the champions to decide the wager. Now, in all England there was no swordsman so courageous as John De Courcy, and De Courcy was, therefore, chosen to fight the battle for England. With great honor they conducted him from the tower of London where he was unjustly imprisoned and, after listening to their advances he exclaimed, haughtily, “My country, not my King, shall have my services.” And as King John needed him badly he overlooked this manly though not quite loyal speech. Though what can one expect when kings are so mean and incompetent as John of England, and when one has been unjustly deprived of liberty?

Well, the day for the joust arrived; the princes and nobility of both nations were seated in the galleries. First the French champion issued forth, galloped once around the field, then returned to his tent. Now De Courcy appeared and went through a similar ceremony, then the trumpets sounded and both champions advanced to the combat. But combat there was none, for the stern aspect of De Courcy, his giant form, his perfect command of sword and steed struck such terror in the French champion’s heart that he wheeled ’round, broke the barrier and fled the field. Then up spoke the trumpets again, this time to proclaim the victory of the English King, but King Philip protested and insisted that De Courcy give some evidence of his surpassing strength. Accordingly a stake was set up, a shirt and helmet of steel placed thereon, and the champion bidden to try his sword on this new adversary. Casting a stern glance at both monarchs, De Courcy raised his powerful arm and cleft the stake so far down that none but himself could withdraw the sword. King Philip announced himself as satisfied and King John, astonished at De Couurcy’s chivalry and strength, restored him to his title, rank and possessions and vowed that besides he should have whatever else he might desire.

“Your generosity,” replied De Courcy, “has placed me beyond any desire for further riches: I shall only ask that it may be permitted to myself and my successors to remain uncovered in the presence of royalty.”

His request was granted and that is why the Earls of Kinsale keep on their hats in the presence of the King and Queen of England.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson  
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 10, 1920.


The words left out of last week’s verses were vine, pies and size.

Out of the word pumpkin we can make imp and punk and kin and pump, and a pumpkin is unlike a hungry little boy because it grins when it’s hollow. Peter Pumpkin Eater and Cinderella are the story-book folks related to the pumpkin family.
And a turtle wears a shell for shelter, of course.


A Mexican bandit will give
The name of a place where folks live.

The very opposite of out
Will give another place, no doubt.

Two letters from the alphabet
Will lodge an Injun. Guessed it yet?

A musical sign gives a dwelling place fine,
Though some folks prefer their own garden and vine!

[Answers next time. Thompson’s writing is presented above as originally published in 1920. No ethnic slur is intended by Hungry Tiger Press and none should be inferred.]  

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