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.