Saturday, December 24, 2016


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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, March 2, 1919.

Once there was an exceedingly bright lad who had nothing but his wits to help him through the world. Fortunately, they were very sharp, and by the time he was twenty he had three suits of clothes, a fiddle and a love affair.

Now all of this story and everything I may mention, for that matter, happened about the time Prince Charming wakened the Sleeping Beauty—and you know how long ago that was.

But even in those fairy tale times a youth must have more to recommend him than three suits of clothes and a fiddle, and up to the day that I write of, his love affair had progressed very slowly.

For, naturally, being a boy of wit he had fallen in love with a Princess, no less. And even though he had slain dozens of dragons, the King would not consent to his suit, for “can my daughter live on dragon scales and songs?” he asked, reasonably enough.

“Go and get you a fortune, or begone forevermore!” They did talk queerly in those days, didn’t they? Well, there was nothing for the youth to do but to get him hence, and bidding the Princess a most fond farewell he set out to find a fortune.

He had traveled about 50 miles on his road hence when he came to a kingdom ruled over by a one-legged giant. The giant also had a daughter, but she was nothing so fair as the Princess. Still, the youth stayed at the giant’s court several months and so charmed the giant with his singing that he bade him remain as long as he desired. So the youth stayed on, but all the time he was casting about in his mind for a way to mend his fortune or, rather, to procure one to mend. And one day his opportunity came.

It seemed that the giant’s country was infested with a dragon, which not only terrorized the inhabitants, but demanded the giant’s daughter in marriage. The giant himself, being crippled, could not do battle with the monster, and his retainers had fared so badly at the creature’s claws, not to mention the many it had eaten, that none would volunteer to meet it.

With tears in his eyes the giant told Jeffry (which was the youth’s name) of his troubles. The dragon, he said, would come in one week to the castle for his daughter.

“As to that,” said Jeffry, “I will meet this dragon if—” and the youth paused most significantly.

“You may have anything in my kingdom that you ask for!” the giant hastened to assure him, and chuckled to himself as he said it. For he rather fancied the boy would ask him for his daughter. The week passed very quickly, and on the evening of the dragon’s arrival the giant and his daughter mounted to the highest turret in the castle. Jeffry, with his fiddle in one hand and a triple-edged sword buckled on behind, waited at the castle gate.

Along toward 8 o’clock the dragon came clattering up the highway and thumped on the gate.

“Good evening, pretty creature!” said Jeffry, “I’ve been sent especially to entertain you and guide you to the giant’s daughter.” Now dragons are really very vain, and the great, ugly monster was so flattered when it heard Jeffry call it pretty creature that it relaxed somewhat of its fierce watchfulness. Jeffry, noticing this, began to strum softly on his fiddle and so magical was his touch and so sleepy his song that the dragon uncurled its claws and fell asleep directly. To walk out and chop off its head was the work of a minute, and in the next minute Jeffery was thumping on the giant’s tower door. With trembling voice the giant bade him go away, thinking, of course, it was the dragon; but the youth soon told him the way of things and thereupon the door was flung open and such a rejoicing took place as never happened before or since.

Jeffry, being a modest youth, did not like to speak so soon of his reward, though he was all impatience to be off to the Princess again. But at supper the giant bethought himself of his promise.

“What is it you desire of me?” he roared jovially, and winked at his daughter. Jeffry, with his eyes on the maiden’s fair hair, spoke: “May I have the lock that I choose?” The girl dimpled and the giant roared louder than ever.

“Most certainly, my modest youth; take them all!” he added generously. For, naturally, the giant thought he meant a lock of his daughter’s hair. But Jeffry meant nothing of the sort. Standing up he cried boldly:

“Then I’ll have the hill-lock back of the castle!”

The giant’s brows darkened like thunder, for in a strong box beneath the hill-lock was half of his gold and treasure.

“You promised!” said Jeffry softly. “Shall it be said that a giant’s word is naught? Is not your daughter worth more to you than this small portion of treasure?”

The giant had his doubts about that, but he knew he was caught. With very bad grace he made over the hill-lock to Jeffry, and that very same night when every one was asleep, Jeffry, with the strong box tied upon three horses, which he borrowed from the giant’s stable, slipped out of the kingdom. 

’Twas just as well, for the giant was already planning to drop him noiselessly into the moat. That’s all, except, of course, the wedding. The Princess was overjoyed when brave Jeffry and his fortune returned, and after the excellent fashion of the time they lived happily ever after.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 31, 1920. 
Puzzle Corner
The Forgetful Poet is feeling very lively and full of jokes, and the more jokey he feels the easier his riddles are; or, so it seems to me. What do you think?

It comes on cake,
And that ain’t all,
It comes on windows,
And it comes in -----

Breakfast food
Of different makes,
Comes like -----
In little-----.

A queenly flower
In the fall does come,
Even if we call her

It comes in sheets
And it comes in icicles,
And the boys and girls
It surely tickles!

Last week’s answers were false-face [sic, Halloween] and me.

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

Thursday, December 15, 2016


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of Kabumpo in Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard in Oz, and The Wish Express, etc.
Illustration by Charles J. Coll

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 4, 1919.

The Frog Brothers’ Circus
Has put up its tents
On the border of Lily Pond Park

And the crowds in the evening
Are simply immense.
(So the Meadowville papers remark.)

’Tis a three-ring affair
With some wonderful freaks,
So no wonder there’s so much festivity.

A chicken who quacks,
And a lizard who squeaks,
And the fattest old frog in captivity!

The Meadowville children
Are dancing with glee,
And whole families are thronging the roads

To the Frog Brothers’ Circus—
Wee chipmunks and mice,
Little ducklings and froglings and toads.!

Even rabbits and moles,
Even turtles and snails,
Even fairies, they tell me, attend.

And they all hurry home
With such marvellous tales
I feel sure it’s a show to commend!

There are tight-walking frogs
And trained poly-wogs
Exactly like seals, so they say;

There are merry mice clowns
From a string of strange towns,
And you just ought to hear the band play.

Frog tumblers and jugglers,
And wild leaping hares
Ridden bareback by fearless young mice—

Yes, from all that I hear
I’ve decided, my dear,
That it must be tremendously nice!

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 24, 1920.



“Why,” says the Forgetful Poet, “why are mice so anxious to get to the moon?”

Last week’s answers were: Ireland (Emerald Isle), Delaware (Diamond State). The verse should have read:

There are capitals in every state
And periods in history,
And if you think of this a bit
You’ll puzzle out the mystery.

and scare were the words left out of the last verse.
And, now, can you make out these lines?

A man can have two faces,
If you know just what I mean;
One for every day, of course,
And one for -----!

I looked in a pool,
’Twas twelve o’clock,
To see my fate;
Oh, what a shock!

What is this homely
Face I see?
I looked again
I saw ’twas -----.

[Answers next time.] 

Copyright © 2016 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


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

This excerpt was originally published in The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, 1902. We present it this month to celebrate the release of the new edition of the book with illustrations by Eric Shanower and published by IDW.

2. The Child of the Forest 
Once, so long ago our great-grandfathers could scarcely have heard it mentioned, there lived within the great Forest of Burzee a wood-nymph named Necile. She was closely related to the mighty Queen Zurline, and her home was beneath the shade of a widespreading oak. Once every year, on Budding Day, when the trees put forth their new buds, Necile held the Golden Chalice of Ak to the lips of the Queen, who drank therefrom to the prosperity of the Forest. So you see she was a nymph of some importance, and, moreover, it is said she was highly regarded because of her beauty and grace. 

When she was created she could not have told; Queen Zurline could not have told; the great Ak himself could not have told. It was long ago when the world was new and nymphs were needed to guard the forests and to minister to the wants of the young trees. Then, on some day not remembered, Necile sprang into being; radiant, lovely, straight and slim as the sapling she was created to guard. 

Her hair was the color that lines a chestnut-bur; her eyes were blue in the sunlight and purple in the shade; her cheeks bloomed with the faint pink that edges the clouds at sunset; her lips were full red, pouting and sweet. For costume she adopted oak-leaf green; all the wood-nymphs dress in that color and know no other so desirable. Her dainty feet were sandal-clad, while her head remained bare of covering other than her silken tresses. 

Necile's duties were few and simple. She kept hurtful weeds from growing beneath her trees and sapping the earth-food required by her charges. She frightened away the Gadgols, who took evil delight in flying against the tree-trunks and wounding them so that they drooped and died from the poisonous contact. In dry seasons she carried water from the brooks and pools and moistened the roots of her thirsty dependents. 

That was in the beginning. The weeds had now learned to avoid the forests where wood-nymphs dwelt; the loathsome Gadgols no longer dared come nigh; the trees had become old and sturdy and could bear the drought better than when fresh-sprouted. So Necile's duties were lessened, and time grew laggard, while succeeding years became more tiresome and uneventful than the nymph's joyous spirit loved. 

Truly the forest-dwellers did not lack amusement. Each full moon they danced in the Royal Circle of the Queen. There were also the Feast of Nuts, the Jubilee of Autumn Tintings, the solemn ceremony of Leaf Shedding and the revelry of Budding Day. But these periods of enjoyment were far apart, and left many weary hours between. 

That a wood-nymph should grow discontented was not thought of by Necile's sisters. It came upon her only after many years of brooding. But when once she had settled in her mind that life was irksome she had no patience with her condition, and longed to do something of real interest and to pass her days in ways hitherto undreamed of by forest nymphs. The Law of the Forest alone restrained her from going forth in search of adventure. 

While this mood lay heavy upon pretty Necile it chanced that the great Ak visited the Forest of Burzee and allowed the wood-nymphs as was their wont—to lie at his feet and listen to the words of wisdom that fell from his lips. Ak is the Master Woodsman of the world; he sees everything, and knows more than the sons of men. 

That night he held the Queen's hand, for he loved the nymphs as a father loves his children; and Necile lay at his feet with many of her sisters and earnestly harkened as he spoke. 

"We live so happily, my fair ones, in our forest glades," said Ak, stroking his grizzled beard thoughtfully, "that we know nothing of the sorrow and misery that fall to the lot of those poor mortals who inhabit the open spaces of the earth. They are not of our race, it is true, yet compassion well befits beings so fairly favored as ourselves. Often as I pass by the dwelling of some suffering mortal I am tempted to stop and banish the poor thing's misery. Yet suffering, in moderation, is the natural lot of mortals, and it is not our place to interfere with the laws of Nature." 

"Nevertheless," said the fair Queen, nodding her golden head at the Master Woodsman, "it would not be a vain guess that Ak has often assisted these hapless mortals." 

Ak smiled. 

"Sometimes," he replied, "when they are very young—'children,' the mortals call them—I have stopped to rescue them from misery. The men and women I dare not interfere with; they must bear the burdens Nature has imposed upon them. But the helpless infants, the innocent children of men, have a right to be happy until they become full-grown and able to bear the trials of humanity. So I feel I am justified in assisting them. Not long ago—a year, maybe—I found four poor children huddled in a wooden hut, slowly freezing to death. Their parents had gone to a neighboring village for food, and had left a fire to warm their little ones while they were absent. But a storm arose and drifted the snow in their path, so they were long on the road. Meantime the fire went out and the frost crept into the bones of the waiting children." 

"Poor things!" murmured the Queen softly. "What did you do?" 

"I called Nelko, bidding him fetch wood from my forests and breathe upon it until the fire blazed again and warmed the little room where the children lay. Then they ceased shivering and fell asleep until their parents came." 

"I am glad you did thus," said the good Queen, beaming upon the Master; and Necile, who had eagerly listened to every word, echoed in a whisper: "I, too, am glad!" 

"And this very night," continued Ak, "as I came to the edge of Burzee I heard a feeble cry, which I judged came from a human infant. I looked about me and found, close to the forest, a helpless babe, lying quite naked upon the grasses and wailing piteously. Not far away, screened by the forest, crouched Shiegra, the lioness, intent upon devouring the infant for her evening meal." 

"And what did you do, Ak?" asked the Queen, breathlessly. 

"Not much, being in a hurry to greet my nymphs. But I commanded Shiegra to lie close to the babe, and to give it her milk to quiet its hunger. And I told her to send word throughout the forest, to all beasts and reptiles, that the child should not be harmed." 

"I am glad you did thus," said the good Queen again, in a tone of relief; but this time Necile did not echo her words, for the nymph, filled with a strange resolve, had suddenly stolen away from the group. 

Swiftly her lithe form darted through the forest paths until she reached the edge of mighty Burzee, when she paused to gaze curiously about her. Never until now had she ventured so far, for the Law of the Forest had placed the nymphs in its inmost depths. 

Necile knew she was breaking the Law, but the thought did not give pause to her dainty feet. She had decided to see with her own eyes this infant Ak had told of, for she had never yet beheld a child of man. All the immortals are full-grown; there are no children among them. Peering through the trees Necile saw the child lying on the grass. But now it was sweetly sleeping, having been comforted by the milk drawn from Shiegra. It was not old enough to know what peril means; if it did not feel hunger it was content. 

Softly the nymph stole to the side of the babe and knelt upon the sward, her long robe of rose leaf color spreading about her like a gossamer cloud. Her lovely countenance expressed curiosity and surprise, but, most of all, a tender, womanly pity. The babe was newborn, chubby and pink. It was entirely helpless. While the nymph gazed the infant opened its eyes, smiled upon her, and stretched out two dimpled arms. In another instant Necile had caught it to her breast and was hurrying with it through the forest paths.

3. The Adoption

The Master Woodsman suddenly rose, with knitted brows. "There is a strange presence in the Forest," he declared. Then the Queen and her nymphs turned and saw standing before them Necile, with the sleeping infant clasped tightly in her arms and a defiant look in her deep blue eyes. 

And thus for a moment they remained, the nymphs filled with surprise and consternation, but the brow of the Master Woodsman gradually clearing as he gazed intently upon the beautiful immortal who had wilfully broken the Law. Then the great Ak, to the wonder of all, laid his hand softly on Necile's flowing locks and kissed her on her fair forehead. 

"For the first time within my knowledge," said he, gently, "a nymph has defied me and my laws; yet in my heart can I find no word of chiding. What is your desire, Necile?" 

"Let me keep the child!" she answered, beginning to tremble and falling on her knees in supplication. 

"Here, in the Forest of Burzee, where the human race has never yet penetrated?" questioned Ak. 

"Here, in the Forest of Burzee," replied the nymph, boldly. "It is my home, and I am weary for lack of occupation. Let me care for the babe! See how weak and helpless it is. Surely it can not harm Burzee nor the Master Woodsman of the World!" 

"But the Law, child, the Law!" cried Ak, sternly. 

"The Law is made by the Master Woodsman," returned Necile; "if he bids me care for the babe he himself has saved from death, who in all the world dare oppose me?" Queen Zurline, who had listened intently to this conversation, clapped her pretty hands gleefully at the nymph's answer. 

"You are fairly trapped, O Ak!" she exclaimed, laughing. "Now, I pray you, give heed to Necile's petition." 

The Woodsman, as was his habit when in thought, stroked his grizzled beard slowly. Then he said:
"She shall keep the babe, and I will give it my protection. But I warn you all that as this is the first time I have relaxed the Law, so shall it be the last time. Never more, to the end of the World, shall a mortal be adopted by an immortal. Otherwise would we abandon our happy existence for one of trouble and anxiety. Good night, my nymphs!" 

Then Ak was gone from their midst, and Necile hurried away to her bower to rejoice over her new-found treasure.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 17, 1920.


The answers to the places to live in were Villa, Inn, T.P. (teepee), Manor.

The Forgetful Poet wants to know why people say “Sleep like a top.” Did any of you ever hear of a top sleeping?

A jewel will give the pet name of a famous island.

Another jewel will give the pet name of a state.

There are A, B, C, D, G, K in every state
And ….. in History.
Now if you think of this a bit
You’ll puzzle out the mystery.

It’s two weeks off,
So you’d better beware.
 I mean -----
And you’re in for a -----.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2016 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.