Author of Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard in Oz, and The Wish Express, etc.
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 8, 1919.
Once upon a time there was a dear little rosy fairy who loved the water. It was so cool and ripply, and she liked to make little leaf boats and watch them sail away. Fairies may not wash in brooks and rivers. No, indeed; they wash in dew and bathe in the crystal fountains in Fairyland, and if they fall into everyday and unmagic water they become visible at once. And worse still, they lose all their wishing power, every single bit, so that it is very dangerous for fairies to play near brooks and ponds. Oh, very dangerous, indeed!
But Nella could not keep away from them, and more than anything else she longed to go sailing across the pond on one of her leaf boats. She knew very well that flying was safer, that if she got wet she would lose her wishing power, but that made it even more adventuresome.
So one sunny day she tried it. And it was even nicer than she had supposed. The little leaf went spinning along with the current. Nella waved to a butterfly just overhead, and while she was looking upward her little craft struck a large stick and went under. Before she had time to use her wings Nella fell into the pond—down, down, down. As soon as she had touched the water she, of course, became visible, and a little frog who had been sunning himself on a nearby lily pad rubbed his eyes in amazement.
“Why, it’s a fairy!” he exclaimed. Then, without a moment’s hesitation he dived under the water, for he knew that fairies cannot swim. When Nella opened her eyes she was lying under a big leaf on the edge of the pond, and the little frog was fanning her with a daisy petal. Realizing what had happened she began to weep bitterly, and the poor frog was at his wits’ end to comfort her.
“I’ll hide you away till midnight, and then you can fly back to Fairyland,” he assured her eagerly.
“The only way to get to Fairyland is to wish one’s self there,” mourned Nella, dabbing at her eyes with her wet frock, “and I’ve lost my wishing power—oh, why did I ever go sailing? I shall never see my home again and will perish with cold!”
“Isn’t there any other way for you to get back?” he asked anxiously.
Nella put her tiny hand to her head, and thought and thought of all the books of fairy lore she had studied. Then she brightened up a bit.
“If three fairies or flowers wish for my return I could fly back in an instant, but suppose they do not think of wishing for me, what then?”
“You surely have three friends,” chuckled the little frog. “Why all you have to do is to make yourself comfortable till they call you back. And in the mean time I will take care of you. Order me about as much as you please,” he finished recklessly.
He made her a little bower between two small stones arched over top with flowers and carpeted with clover leaves. Then he brought her all the books he could find, and a large strawberry from a nearby garden. Nella could not thank him enough, and settled down in her hiding place to wait for the wishes that would carry her home. The good little frog placed himself before her door to keep away curious insects and all other enemies.
Meanwhile back in Fairyland Nella’s absence had not been noticed. There are so many fairies, and they so often visit one another that days might pass without her being missed.
Three days actually did pass and each one made the little fairy droop more. The little frog did everything he could to amuse her, even to standing on his head, but whenever she thought he was not looking Nella would weep bitterly into her cobwebbed handkerchief. Just as the little fellow was growing desperate and preparing to start off to Fairyland himself to find her friends, something happened. Nella’s wings, which had never dried off, but hung limply from her shoulders, grew bright and shimmery again—all in a second.
“Somebody has wished for me!” thrilled the little sprite, hugging the frog in her delight. And who do you ’spose that somebody was? A little violet! Nella always brought her a little pail of dew at nightfall, and for three nights no one had remembered the little flower. “Where can Nella be? Oh, I wish Nella were here,” she sighed. And that was the first wish.
The next day as Nella was reading a story to the frog out of the Pond Lily primer all at once her lacy frock, which had hung down as sadly as her wings, fluffed out all around her and turned a hundred rainbow colors. “Somebody has wished for me again,” cried Nella, clapping her hands! And who do you ’spose it was this time? A dear, little, old, old—oh, a thousand-year old gentleman fairy to whom Nella often read the Fairy Press, for his eyes were not so bright as they had been. “Where’s Nella?” he muttered anxiously after four days had brought no sign of her. “Oh, dear, I’ve lost my specs and I do wish she were here to read to me.”
While Nella was clapping her hands, and the frog was trying to look as happy as she felt (he was going to miss her awfully), the third little wish came rustling into the bower, and Nella’s little gold slippers, which had been very dull, grew as gold and dancy as sunbeams, and the next minute the frog gave a gasp of surprise for she had vanished entirely away, and all that he heard was a faint voice calling, “Good-by, little brother, I shall not forget you.” And who do you ’spose had wished for Nella this time? Why, a little fairy girl, who had cut her finger on a thorn. Every one tried to comfort her, but she wailed loudly for Nella: “If Nella were here she would kiss it and make it well! Oh, I wish that she were here!” Yes, that is the story of how Nella got back to Fairyland. The little frog mourned and mourned for her, and one day what do you think? He was whisked up, up and away. Little wings began to tickle his shoulders, and next minute he was in Fairyland himself, turned by Nella into a lovely little green sprite and there he lived happily ever and forever afterward.
THE FORGETFUL POET
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 26, 1920.
The Forgetful Poet has a message for you in cipher. See whether you can make it out. “Raey wen yppah!” says the dear fellow, or at least he would say it if it were pronounceable.
A kind of dog describes a nose;
Guessed that already I suppose!
A word meaning to create will give a city of Georgia and a girl’s name another city.
Though strange to many—it appears
A man may have at least three ears?
What two states in the Union have distinctly American names?
What precious stone names a game of cards?
[Answers next time.]
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