Friday, August 9, 2019

THE WILD PIEMAN OF BORNEO COMES TO THE FRONT WITH A GIANT-CRACKER ACT

Verse and illustration by W. W. Denslow
Author of Denslow's Scarecrow and Tinman, original illustrator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Father Goose: His Book, Dot and Tot of Merryland, etc. 

Originally published in The Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 29, 1902.


Click image to view larger.


Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 6, 1917.
 
Riddle Day in Supposyville

The first of May is riddle day;
And in Supposyville,
The townfolk, dressed in colors gay,
Assemble on the hill;
The King and Queen and Fiddlesticks
Gave riddles out at three,
And all the folks are in a line,
Same as a spelling bee;
And when you miss you step right out
And have a cake or bun;
But, oh! my goody, don’t each try
To be the lucky one—
To outguess all the rest and win
The cup and bag of gold
And the title “Royal Riddle Guesser,”
For a year to hold!
“What is it whose whole fortune is
A cent; yet all desire it,
And spend both gold and silver to
Secure and to acquire it?”
The tailor missed, the baker missed;
“A rose!” piped up the next,
A little lass; the other two
Retire abashed and vexed.
One riddle follows t’other, and
So entertained are all,
None note the quickly darkening sky
Or see the coming squall;
Down lashed the rain, up rose the gale;
Next minute half the people
Were perching on the housetops,
Fiddlesticks astride the steeple;
The cakes and buns flew through the air,
Too comical for words;
The hats went flapping up the trees
Like lively sort of birds;
But if you think they let this gale
Break up the riddle match,
You don’t know these Supposies;
Perched on tree or fence or thatch,
With ne’er a thought of fixings fine,
They stayed in wind and rain
A-shouting answers to the Queen
With all their might and main;
A little merchant won the match;
Then all splash off together,
Forgetting in their jolly talk
The shocking riddle weather.
It takes a lot to discompose
A people so unique as those!

Copyright © 2019 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

OLIVER ELEPHANT AND TABORA CROCODILE

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 11, 1912.


Ooooo—ooh—ah—haaaa—ah— haaa—ooo—h!!! Ooooooh—ah—haaa—ah—haaa—ooo—ooh—OOOOH!!!

“What’s that?” stuttered Oliver Elephant, putting up his big ears. “Huh—what’s that, I wonder?” He was on his way home from school when he heard this queer noise that I have tried to tell you about in the first three lines of this story. Looks pretty awful, doesn’t it? Well, it sounded just dreadful! And it grew louder and louder. Oliver Elephant waved his trunk in perplexity; then pulling his cap down ran with all his might through the tangly jungle, stumbling over vines and trees and tearing his gray breeches on the stickery cactuses and things. He didn’t even stop when a branch caught his jacket and jerked it off his back.

“Something terrible is happening to somebody—and I MUST hurry!” gasped Oliver Elephant. “I’m coming, I’m coming!” he called, plunging along like a steam engine. And pretty soon the awful noise led him down to the banks of a stream. There on the bank sat Tabora Crocodile with his mouth WIDE open, crying and crying—and crocodile tears were running all over every place.

“Humph—a—humph—humph— a —humph,” puffed Oliver Elephant fanning himself with his hat, ’cause he’d lost his breath as well as his jacket. “Huh—what’s the matter?”

“Oooo—ooh—Ah—aaaaah! I ’och a ’ooth ache!” sobbed Tabora rocking to and fro, and trying to put his tail in his mouth. “Is THAT all,” said Oliver Elephant, sitting plump down on the ground. “Is THAT all!”  “Ooooo—OOH! All!” shrieked Tabora Crocodile, “I ’ish oo h-ad it!” He said a good bit more, but it got all mixed up with his tears and sobs, so that Oliver Elephant couldn’t make head nor tail of it. Tabora’s sobs grew louder and louder, and Oliver Elephant held his ears together under his chin, ’cause it was giving him a headache.

“It must hurt terribly,” thought Oliver, and he tried and tried to think of something to do. It was pretty hard to think with Tabora making such an awful nose, but after a while he had a WONDERFUL idea. He ran back among the trees and returned with a long stout piece of vine. Then he tapped Tabora on the shoulder and told him to stop crying. “I am going to tie this vine around your tooth,” said he. “Will that help?” sobbed Tabora, brushing away his tears with his tail and looking doubtfully at Oliver. “I just guess it will,” said Oliver. So he tied the stout vine tightly round Tabora’s tooth, and the rest of the vine around a big tree, then he held on to the end of it.

“Now,” said Oliver Elephant, “dive into the river!” AND—Tabora dove into the river! Oooooh! Jerk, went the stout vine, thump went Oliver Elephant against the tree, and out flew Tabora’s tooth. Oliver didn’t wait a minute when he saw Tabora’s head coming above water. Still holding on to the vine he ran plumpety smash off toward his house. It’s a good thing he did! For Tabora climbed out of the river faster than anything you could imagine—and IF HE CAUGHT HIM!!!!!!!--. Yes, siree, Oliver Elephant reached his house just in time! He slammed the door tight—then he looked out of the window.

“What are you so cross about?” said he. “Your tooth doesn’t ache any more, does it?”

Tabora stopped crying at this, and seemed to discover for the first time that his tooth DIDN’T ache any more. He stood a moment in surprise and then he began to smile and smile—and SMILE till he showed every tooth he had left. Oliver Elephant dropped his old tooth out of the window, and he went off singing “The jolly, jolly whale,” which is a favorite song of his. But after THAT Oliver Elephant never helped pull anybody’s tooth again!!!


Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 29, 1917.


Spring Lessons in Supposyville

The day was fair as only days
In spring can be; the birds
Woke up a four o’clock to try
To put spring’s song in words;
The grown-ups in Supposyville
Are happily repairing
To garden, wood and fragrant lanes;
The little folks are faring
Regretfully to school to learn
The facts that grow in books,
And lagging wistfully along
With many backward looks.
The king waved from the palace garden
As slow they passed. “My dear!”
He called the queen, who’s trimming up
The roses, “Look! Look here!
It doesn’t seem quite right to keep
The children in today;
Spring days are treasures to be lived
Outdoors’ too few are they
To spend in dreary recitation,
Spelling, and all that’;
I’d rather have them learn of spring
Than say c—a—t cat!”
“Just what I used to think,” the queen
Agreed; and off they hurry,
Arriving just as school begins
And causing quite a flurry.
“I’ve come to state that three days of
Each week in spring this school
Shall picnic in the woods and fields
And wade in brook and pool!
And not a word of verbs or nouns,
Or history dates be spoken
In Supposyville; it is the law,
For I, the king, have spoken!”
Whew! what a shout went up at that—
Outdoors the children tumble;
The teacher follows in a daze,
His thoughts all in a jumble;
But soon he enters in the fun,
And with the merry king
Helps teach the little children all
The lessons of the spring;
To know where violets peep up in
The wood and where the thrush
Trills out his limpid joyous song,
Through twilight’s misty hush
About the trees and clouds and hills;
And sometimes, dears, we will
Learn out o’ doors just as they do
In dear Supposyville!

Copyright © 2019 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

GIRLS ARE ALWAYS THE SAME

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

L. Frank Baum's unproduced script for Ozma of Oz, copyrighted in 1909, was based on his 1907 book of the same name. Eventually it evolved into the play The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, staged in 1913, which was the basis for Baum's 1914 Oz book of a similar name. The following song, which would have had music (not known to still exist) by Manuel Klein, was a duet for the characters Queen Ann and Ozma the Rose Princess. The song was cut before the project turned into The Tik-Tok Man of Oz.

ANN:
Maidens of old didn’t gossip or scold,
Always could secrets keep;
Never talked nights when they put out the lights—
Always went straight to sleep.
They’d say: “Oh, my dear, what a beautiful dress!”
When it didn’t fit anyhow—
That’s what an old-fashioned girl would do,
What would a girl do now?

OZMA:
A girl of today wouldn’t publicly say
A friend was tackily dressed;
If she suspected a gown resurrected
She’d smile—we’d all know the rest.
If a hat’s out of date, or isn’t on straight
She merely raises her brow;
If you know beans, you know what that means—
That’s what a girl would do now.

BOTH:
Ages may come and ages may go,
But maids will be ever the same;
If a girl didn’t lie now and then, on the sly,
She wouldn’t be worthy the name.

2.
ANN:
Maidens of old by mothers were told
Always to be discreet,
Never beguiling a stranger by smiling,
Never trapesing [sic] the street.
Never, they’d swear, to flirt would they dare,
Never been kissed they’d vow.
That’s what an old-fashioned girl would do;
What would a girl do now?

OZMA:
Girls of today have a more demure way
Seldom a trick is missed;
Frequently dine upon partridge and wine,
Never resist when kissed.
Ev’ry sweet lass is saving of gas,
Ev’ry papa will allow;
If asked to the play: “I’m game!” she will say—
That’s what a girl would do now.

BOTH:
Ages may come and ages may go,
But maids will be ever the same;
Any girl with a chance will step high and prance
Or she wouldn’t be worthy the name.

3.
ANN:
Maidens of old were modest—not bold—
Never were reckless or weak;
Men who were busted the girls never trusted,
Wouldn’t permit them to speak.
Told ’em they wouldn’t and couldn’t for true
Hitch to ’em anyhow;
That’s what an old-fashioned girl would do—
What would a girl do now?

OZMA:
Well, if her breast with love was oppress’d,
If she were fond and true,
Never a maid would e’er be afraid
To do what she ought to do.
Money won’t weigh on the same scale, they say,
With love, and I guess it’s true;
No matter how poor, she’d have him for sure—
That’s what a real girl would do.

BOTH:
Ages may come and ages may go,
But maids will be ever the same;
If a girl wasn’t foolish, and stubborn, and mulish,
She wouldn’t be worthy the name.


Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 22, 1917.

A Supposyville Happening

Open came the shutters and
The windows, long ’fore dawn;
Up jumped the good Supposy folk
And slipped their best clothes on,
And down the silent roads and streets
Hilarious they go,
Before the chickens waken, or
The cock has time to crow!
The Queen skips gayly with the rest,
The King, beside the cook,
Hands out delightful little cakes,
Which everybody took
With gracious courtesy, and to cheer
The way, they had a song,
The Fiddlesticks’ bow-legged band
Tuned up and twanged along.
And just as Daddy Sun threw back
His rosy quilt to see
Who’d waked him up, and what the noise
And merriment could be
A whistle and a rattle sounded;
Sundry growls and roars,
And other sounds mysterious,
Like seal or walrus snores.
“They’ve come!” cry the Supposys—
Up fly a score of hats,
Of kerchiefs, ribbons and what-nots,
A tailor waved his spats!
And now out from the puffing train,
A motley company poured—
Clowns, ladies, bears, and juggler men;
Inside the lions roared,
But not CROSS roars, indeedy, NO!
Just lion conversation,
About how glad they were to be
In such a situation!
Aho! I want to tell you when
The circus comes to town,
Supposyville drops EVERYTHING,
To make way for the clown!
The lads and lassies and the men
Help set the circus tents,
And not a soul is missing
When festivities commence.
In Supposyville the tumblers tumble
JUST THE BEST OF ALL.
The bareback riders jump ten feet
Through hoops and never fall.
The elephants do tricks with glee,
The bears cheer up and dance.
You see, they’re happy here because
They know they’ll have a chance
To meet just every single soul
In town, and it’s SUCH fun
To know there’s not a person there
Who isn’t having fun.
Supposy folks don’t grow up like
The folks in other places,
They’re just big boys and girls behind
Their pleasant grown-up faces.
And after the performance the
Whole circus is invited
To the palace—bears and clowns and all
And MY! But they’re excited.
The fat dame sits upon the throne,
The Human Skeleton
Is crowned King for the evening.
You can guess just how much fun
They have, and oft I’m tempted
(P’raps some day I will)
Run off and rent a cottage
In that dear Supposyville! 

Copyright © 2019 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

PROFESSOR BEAR’S SCHOOL

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of Handy Mandy in Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 27, 1914.
 


 The jungle school was kept by Professor Bear, who was fearfully wise, but also fearfully bearish. “I don’t believe he was ever a little elephant!” said Oliver to Tommy Tapir, one morning as they were on their way to school. “Little elephant!” snorted Tommy—“Oliver Elephant, what are you thinking about?” “Well, I don’t believe he was ever a little bear, then,” grumbled Oliver Elephant—and it did seem, boys and girls, as if the Professor was so chuck full of jungleography and junglelaw that he hadn’t much room left for heart. On this day I am telling you about he was very stern—oh, very stern, indeed!

“Sit up!” he thundered, banging on his desk with his big cane. The little monkeys and bears and tapirs, the little elephants and all the rest of them sat up with a jerk. “ATTENTION!” growled Professor Bear. “NOW! Oliver Elephant, please stand up and answer this simple problem. If I were to chop three and one-half inches off your trunk, how many inches would there be left, and just give the answer in decimals.”

“Huh—what!” gasped Oliver Elephant, scrambling to his feet.

“Make haste!” snapped the Professor, banging his desk again. “Make haste!” Oliver Elephant rocked to and fro and put up his big ears and opened wide his little eyes. “Mm—my father wouldn’t let you!” he burst out at last, jamming his trunk in his pocket and starting to run for the door. “Hah, hah!” giggled Katange Monkey, diving under her desk.

“This is UNBEARABLE!” spluttered the Professor, and bouncing out of his seat, he came rushing down the room. Everybody ducked and shivered and shook—and just think how poor Oliver Elephant felt! Next the Professor’s arm shot out; Oliver Elephant seemed to sail and fly through the air, and then stopped kerplump under the clock with a dunce cap smashed down over his eye—AND ALL THE BUTTONS OFF HIS NEW SUIT! (I am glad that Oliver’s mother didn’t happen to come along just then.) Tommy Tapir felt so sorry for Oliver that he scribbled a note on the back of his arithmetic paper and passed it to Oliver while the Professor’s back was turned. This is what it said: “Don’t you care!”

Oliver read the note, wiped his eyes on it (he had lost his handkerchief), then he felt a little better. It was pretty tiresome, though, standing under the clock. There wasn’t a sound in the room ’ceptin’ its ticking and the scraping of pencils, as the pupils wrote the answers to the Professor’s questions. I don’t see how they ever answered them at ALL. Could YOU have told how many knots a cobra could tie in his tail—if a hippopotamus stepped on his head?—and how many berries and a half a little bear could eat without getting the mullygrubs?—and why the grass was green instead of PINK? Could you, now?


Well, while they were writing all this down—Oliver Elephant stood first on one foot and then on the other and Ooooh! but he was tired. At last he looked up at the clock to see what time it was. It said 11 o’clock. Then he found that by stretching his trunk a WAY up he could just reach the hands. And because he was pretty tired, I guess—he—what do you ’spose he did. Well, HE PUSHED THE HAND ’ROUND TO TWELVE! And just as he did—Professor Bear looked up—and SAW HIM DO IT. Whoooo! Everybody held his breath. First the Professor put down his chalk—then he took off his spectacles—then he began to shake all over. “Go Home!” he choked, waving one paw at the class and putting his other paw to his mouth—“Go home!” And they all grabbed their hats and ran home in a hurry. And no sooner were they gone before he took down his paw from his mouth and Oliver Elephant saw that he was laughing—laughing so hard that the tears ran down his nose. “Why did you do it?” he gasped at last. “Mmm—my foot was asleep!” stuttered Oliver Elephant, too surprised to talk straight. “Same reason—same reason!” chuckled the Professor—then he told Oliver Elephant how he had done the VERY SAME THING when he was a little bear. “Indeed, it takes me back to my little bear days!” said he, wiping his eyes. “And you have no idea what an old grumpus Professor Panther was!” “Good bearskins!” he muttered all at once— “I’m afraid I was a little severe this morning,” “Oh, that’s all right,” said Oliver Elephant, holding his blouse together—where the buttons had been ripped off. Now Professor Bear grew very thoughtful—then he gave Oliver Elephant an apple and sent him home to his mother.

“So you see,” said Oliver Elephant, when he was telling Tommy Tapir all about things—“he was a little bear after all!” I am glad to say that the Professor from this time on was always kind and agreeable—and never stood any one in the corner again!



Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 15, 1917.


Spring Housecleaning in Supposeyville

Now in Supposeyville there floats
Upon the atmosphere
The pungent smell of soap and paint—
HOUSECLEANING TIME is here!
The winter coats and trousers dance
Their farewell on the line;
The windows have been polished up
And chamoised till they shine.
The men go whistling to their work;
The merry dames all sing,
And scrub and splash to heart’s content
A-welcoming the spring!
But let us take the king and queen,
While all the rest are jolly;
They both are rather cross and ill
And fearfully melancholy.
The doctor says “Spring fever!” and
Suggests a trip away;
Grand preparations are begun
By every one. Next day
When maids in waiting go to wake
The queen, no queen is there;
The king has also disappeared;
They search most everywhere,
And find at last on garden seat
A note: “We’ve gone—due east,”
It says, “by west and will
Return good folk—ANON.”
Quite puzzled, somewhat reassured,
They all resume their splashing
Their painting, dusting  scrubbing, and
Relentless water dashing.
Meanwhile the king and queen, dressed up
As ordinary folks,
Are jogging down the highway on
Two donkeys, cracking jokes;
The king points to a house—says he,
“My dearest Mrs. Jones,
Let’s rent this house; it is THE ONE,
I feel it in my bones!”
“Just as you say,” the queen replies.
That same night they move in,
Known by the neighbors as the Joneses;
And NOW the larks begin;
The queen starts in to sweep and scrub;
The king, with vig’rous brush,
Paints the house and then the barn;
And how the queen does blush,
When the king—I mean when Mr. Jones
Praises her hot-cakes—MY!
What fun they had, what happiness,
And how the hours fly.
But even the finest times must end.
The house from roof to sill
Is spotless, and they must return
To good Supposeyville.
So hunting up their crowns and gowns
They slip back in the night,
And next day are discovered by
The courtiers with delight.
Cured of all ills and quite restored,
Sometimes they puzzle folks
By referring to the JONESES—but
Then kings must have their jokes!

Copyright © 2019 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 1, 2019

MR. WOODCHUCK

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


 Originally published in 1906.

Chapter I
The Trap

“There’s a woodchuck over on the side hill that is eating my clover,” said Twinkle’s father, who was a farmer.

“Why don’t you set a trap for it?” asked Twinkle’s mother.

“I believe I will,” answered the man.

So, when the midday dinner was over, the farmer went to the barn and got a steel trap, and carried it over to the clover-field on the hillside.

Twinkle wanted very much to go with him, but she had to help mamma wash the dishes and put them away, and then brush up the dining-room and put it in order. But when the work was done, and she had all the rest of the afternoon to herself, she decided to go over to the woodchuck’s hole and see how papa had set the trap, and also discover if the woodchuck had yet been caught.

So the little girl took her blue-and-white sun-bonnet, and climbed over the garden fence and ran across the corn-field and through the rye until she came to the red-clover patch on the hill.

She knew perfectly well where the woodchuck’s hole was, for she had looked at it curiously many times; so she approached it carefully and found the trap set just in front of the hole. If the woodchuck stepped on it, when he came out, it would grab his leg and hold him fast; and there was a chain fastened to the trap, and also to a stout post driven into the ground, so that when the woodchuck was caught he couldn’t run away with the trap.
But although the day was bright and sunshiny, and just the kind of day woodchucks like, the clover-eater had not yet walked out of his hole to get caught in the trap.

So Twinkle lay down in the clover-field, half hidden by a small bank in front of the woodchuck’s hole, and began to watch for the little animal to come out. Her eyes could see right into the hole, which seemed to slant upward into the hill instead of downward; but of course she couldn’t see very far in, because the hole wasn’t straight, and grew black a little way from the opening.

It was somewhat wearisome, waiting and watching so long, and the warm sun and the soft chirp of the crickets that hopped through the clover made Twinkle drowsy. She didn’t intend to go to sleep, because then she might miss the woodchuck; but there was no harm in closing her eyes just one little minute; so she allowed the long lashes to droop over her pretty pink cheeks—just because they felt so heavy, and there was no way to prop them up.

Then, with a start, she opened her eyes again, and saw the trap and the woodchuck hole just as they were before. Not quite, though, come to look carefully. The hole seemed to be bigger than at first; yes, strange as it might seem, the hole was growing bigger every minute! She watched it with much surprise, and then looked at the trap, which remained the same size it had always been. And when she turned her eyes upon the hole once more it had not only become very big and high, but a stone arch appeared over it, and a fine, polished front door now shut it off from the outside world. She could even read a name upon the silver door-plate, and the name was this:

Mr. Woodchuck.
 

Chapter II
Mister Woodchuck Captures a Girl

“Well, I declare!” whispered Twinkle to herself; “how could all that have happened?”

On each side of the door was a little green bench, big enough for two to sit upon, and between the benches was a doorstep of white marble, with a mat lying on it. On one side Twinkle saw an electric door-bell.

While she gazed at this astonishing sight a sound of rapid footsteps was heard, and a large Jack- Rabbit, almost as big as herself, and dressed in a messenger-boy’s uniform, ran up to the woodchuck’s front door and rang the bell.

Almost at once the door opened inward, and a curious personage stepped out.

Twinkle saw at a glance that it was the woodchuck himself,—but what a big and queer woodchuck it was!

He wore a swallow-tailed coat, with a waistcoat of white satin and fancy knee-breeches, and upon his feet were shoes with silver buckles. On his head was perched a tall silk hat that made him look just as high as Twinkle’s father, and in one paw he held a gold-headed cane. Also he wore big spectacles over his eyes, which made him look more dignified than any other woodchuck Twinkle had ever seen.

When this person opened the door and saw the Jack-Rabbit messenger-boy, he cried out:

“Well, what do you mean by ringing my bell so violently? I suppose you’re half an hour late, and trying to make me think you’re in a hurry.”

The Jack-Rabbit took a telegram from its pocket and handed it to the woodchuck without a word in reply. At once the woodchuck tore open the envelope and read the telegram carefully.

“Thank you. There’s no answer,” he said; and in an instant the Jack-Rabbit had whisked away and was gone.

“Well, well,” said the woodchuck, as if to himself, “the foolish farmer has set a trap for me, it seems, and my friends have sent a telegram to warn me. Let’s see—where is the thing?”

He soon discovered the trap, and seizing hold of the chain he pulled the peg out of the ground and threw the whole thing far away into the field.

“I must give that farmer a sound scolding,” he muttered, “for he’s becoming so impudent lately that soon he will think he owns the whole country.”

But now his eyes fell upon Twinkle, who lay in the clover staring up at him; and the woodchuck gave a laugh and grabbed her fast by one arm.

“Oh ho!” he exclaimed; “you’re spying upon me, are you?”

“I’m just waiting to see you get caught in the trap,” said the girl, standing up because the big creature pulled upon her arm. She wasn’t much frightened, strange to say, because this woodchuck had a good-humored way about him that gave her confidence.

“You would have to wait a long time for that,” he said, with a laugh that was a sort of low chuckle. “Instead of seeing me caught, you’ve got caught yourself. That’s turning the tables, sure enough; isn’t it?”

“I suppose it is,” said Twinkle, regretfully. “Am I a prisoner?”

“You might call it that; and then, again, you mightn’t,” answered the woodchuck. “To tell you the truth, I hardly know what to do with you. But come inside, and we’ll talk it over. We musn’t be seen out here in the fields.”

Still holding fast to her arm, the woodchuck led her through the door, which he carefully closed and locked. Then they passed through a kind of hallway, into which opened several handsomely furnished rooms, and out again into a beautiful garden at the back, all filled with flowers and brightly colored plants, and with a pretty fountain playing in the middle. A high stone wall was built around the garden, shutting it off from all the rest of the world.

The woodchuck led his prisoner to a bench beside the fountain, and told her to sit down and make herself comfortable.


Chapter III
Mister Woodchuck Scolds Twinkle

Twinkle was much pleased with her surroundings, and soon discovered several gold-fishes swimming in the water at the foot of the mountain.

“Well, how does it strike you?” asked the woodchuck, strutting up and down the gravel walk before her and swinging his gold-headed cane rather gracefully.

“It seems like a dream,” said Twinkle.

“To be sure,” he answered, nodding. “You’d no business to fall asleep in the clover.”

“Did I?” she asked, rather startled at the suggestion.

“It stands to reason you did,” he replied. “You don’t for a moment think this is real, do you?”

“It seems real,” she answered. “Aren’t you the woodchuck?”

“Mister Woodchuck, if you please. Address me properly, young lady, or you’ll make me angry.”

“Well, then, aren’t you Mister Woodchuck?”

“At present I am; but when you wake up, I won’t be,” he said.

“Then you think I’m dreaming?”

“You must figure that out for yourself,” said Mister Woodchuck.

“What do you suppose made me dream?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you think it’s something I’ve eaten?” she asked anxiously.

“I hardly think so. This isn’t any nightmare, you know, because there’s nothing at all horrible about it so far. You’ve probably been reading some of those creepy, sensational story-books.”

“I haven’t read a book in a long time,” said Twinkle.

“Dreams,” remarked Mister Woodchuck, thoughtfully, “are not always to be accounted for. But this conversation is all wrong. When one is dreaming one doesn’t talk about it, or even know it’s a dream. So let’s speak of something else.”

“It’s very pleasant in this garden,” said Twinkle. “I don’t mind being here a bit.”

“But you can’t stay here,” replied Mister Woodchuck, “and you ought to be very uncomfortable in my presence. You see, you’re one of the deadliest enemies of my race. All you human beings live for or think of is how to torture and destroy woodchucks.”

“Oh, no!” she answered. “We have many more important things than that to think of. But when a woodchuck gets eating our clover and the vegetables, and spoils a lot, we just have to do something to stop it. That’s why my papa set the trap.”

“You’re selfish,” said Mister Woodchuck, “and you’re cruel to poor little animals that can’t help themselves, and have to eat what they can find, or starve. There’s enough for all of us growing in the broad fields.”

Twinkle felt a little ashamed.

“We have to sell the clover and the vegetables to earn our living,” she explained; “and if the animals eat them up we can’t sell them.”

“We don’t eat enough to rob you,” said the woodchuck, “and the land belonged to the wild creatures long before you people came here and began to farm. And really, there is no reason why you should be so cruel. It hurts dreadfully to be caught in a trap, and an animal captured in that way sometimes has to suffer for many hours before the man comes to kill it. We don’t mind the killing so much. Death doesn’t last but an instant. But every minute of suffering seems to be an hour.”

“That’s true,” said Twinkle, feeling sorry and repentant. “I’ll ask papa never to set another trap.”

“That will be some help,” returned Mister Woodchuck, more cheerfully, “and I hope you’ll not forget the promise when you wake up. But that isn’t enough to settle the account for all our past sufferings, I assure you; so I am trying to think of a suitable way to punish you for the past wickedness of your father, and of all other men that have set traps.”

“Why, if you feel that way,” said the little girl, “you’re just as bad as we are!”

“How’s that?” asked Mister Woodchuck, pausing in his walk to look at her.

“It’s as naughty to want revenge as it is to be selfish and cruel,” she said.

“I believe you are right about that,” answered the animal, taking off his silk hat and rubbing the fur smooth with his elbow. “But woodchucks are not perfect, any more than men are, so you’ll have to take us as you find us. And now I’ll call my family, and exhibit you to them. The children, especially, will enjoy seeing the wild human girl I’ve had the luck to capture.”

“Wild!” she cried, indignantly.

“If you’re not wild now, you will be before you wake up,” he said.


Chapter IV
Mrs. Woodchuck and Her Family

But Mister Woodchuck had no need to call his family, for just as he spoke a chatter of voices was heard and Mrs. Woodchuck came walking down a path of the garden with several young woodchucks following after her.

The lady animal was very fussily dressed, with puffs and ruffles and laces all over her silk gown, and perched upon her head was a broad white hat with long ostrich plumes. She was exceedingly fat, even for a woodchuck, and her head fitted close to her body, without any neck whatever to separate them. Although it was shady in the garden, she held a lace parasol over her head, and her walk was so mincing and airy that Twinkle almost laughed in her face.

The young woodchucks were of several sizes and kinds. One little woodchuck girl rolled before her a doll’s baby-cab, in which lay a woodchuck doll made of cloth, in quite a perfect imitation of a real woodchuck. It was stuffed with something soft to make it round and fat, and its eyes were two glass beads sewn upon the face. A big boy woodchuck wore knickerbockers and a Tam o’ Shanter cap and rolled a hoop; and there were several smaller boy and girl woodchucks, dressed quite as absurdly, who followed after their mother in a long train.

“My dear,” said Mister Woodchuck to his wife, “here is a human creature that I captured just outside our front door.”

“Huh!” sneered the lady woodchuck, looking at Twinkle in a very haughty way; “why will you bring such an animal into our garden, Leander? It makes me shiver just to look at the horrid thing!”

“Oh, mommer!” yelled one of the children, “see how skinny the beast is!”

“Hasn’t any hair on its face at all,” said another, “or on its paws!”

“And no sign of a tail!” cried the little woodchuck girl with the doll.

“Yes, it’s a very strange and remarkable creature,” said the mother. “Don’t touch it, my precious darlings. It might bite.”

“You needn’t worry,” said Twinkle, rather provoked at these speeches. “I wouldn’t bite a dirty, greasy woodchuck on any account!”

“Whoo! did you hear what she called us, mommer? She says we’re greasy and dirty!” shouted the children, and some of them grabbed pebbles from the path in their paws, as if to throw them at Twinkle.

“Tut, tut! don’t be cruel,” said Mister Woodchuck. “Remember the poor creature is a prisoner, and isn’t used to good society; and besides that, she’s dreaming.”

“Really?” exclaimed Mrs. Woodchuck, looking at the girl curiously.

“To be sure,” he answered. “Otherwise she wouldn’t see us dressed in such fancy clothes, nor would we be bigger than she is. The whole thing is unnatural, my dear, as you must admit.”

“But we’re not dreaming; are we, Daddy?” anxiously asked the boy with the hoop.

“Certainly not,” Mister Woodchuck answered; “so this is a fine opportunity for you to study one of those human animals who have always been our worst enemies. You will notice they are very curiously made. Aside from their lack of hair in any place except the top of the head, their paws are formed in a strange manner. Those long slits in them make what are called fingers, and their claws are flat and dull—not at all sharp and strong like ours.”

“I think the beast is ugly,” said Mrs. Woodchuck. “It would give me the shivers to touch its skinny flesh.”

“I’m glad of that,” said Twinkle, indignantly. “You wouldn’t have all the shivers, I can tell you! And you’re a disagreeable, ign’rant creature! If you had any manners at all, you’d treat strangers more politely.”

“Just listen to the thing!” said Mrs. Woodchuck, in a horrified tone. “Isn’t it wild, though!”
 

Chapter V
 Mr. Woodchuck Argues the Question

“Really,” Mister Woodchuck said to his wife, “you should be more considerate of the little human’s feelings. She is quite intelligent and tame, for one of her kind, and has a tender heart, I am sure.”

“I don’t see anything intelligent about her,” said the girl woodchuck.

“I guess I’ve been to school as much as you have,” said Twinkle.

“School! Why, what’s that?”

“Don’t you know what school is?” cried Twinkle, much amused.

“We don’t have school here,” said Mister Woodchuck, as if proud of the fact.

“Don’t you know any geography?” asked the child.

“We haven’t any use for it,” said Mister Woodchuck; “for we never get far from home, and don’t care a rap what state bounds Florida on the south. We don’t travel much, and studying geography would be time wasted.”

“But don’t you study arithmetic?” she asked; “don’t you know how to do sums?”

“Why should we?” he returned. “The thing that bothers you humans most, and that’s money, is not used by us woodchucks. So we don’t need to figure and do sums.”

“I don’t see how you get along without money,” said Twinkle, wonderingly. “You must have to buy all your fine clothes.”

“You know very well that woodchucks don’t wear clothes, under ordinary circumstances,” Mister Woodchuck replied. “It’s only because you are dreaming that you see us dressed in this way.”

“Perhaps that’s true,” said Twinkle. “But don’t talk to me about not being intelligent, or not knowing things. If you haven’t any schools it’s certain I know more than your whole family put together!”

“About some things, perhaps,” acknowledged Mister Woodchuck. “But tell me: do you know which kind of red clover is the best to eat?”

“No,” she said.

“Or how to dig a hole in the ground to live in, with different rooms and passages, so that it slants up hill and the rain won’t come in and drown you?”

“No,” said Twinkle.

“And could you tell, on the second day of February (which is woodchuck day, you know), whether it’s going to be warm weather, or cold, during the next six weeks?”

“I don’t believe I could,” replied the girl.

“Then,” said Mister Woodchuck, “there are some things that we know that you don’t; and although a woodchuck might not be of much account in one of your schoolrooms, you must forgive me for saying that I think you ‘d make a mighty poor woodchuck.”

“I think so, too!” said Twinkle, laughing.

“And now, little human,” he resumed, after looking at his watch, “it’s nearly time for you to wake up; so if we intend to punish you for all the misery your people has inflicted on the woodchucks, we won’t have a minute to spare.”

“Don’t be in a hurry,” said Twinkle. “I can wait.”

“She’s trying to get out of it,” exclaimed Mrs. Woodchuck, scornfully. “Don’t you let her, Leander.”

“Certainly not, my dear,” he replied; “but I haven’t decided how to punish her.”

“Take her to Judge Stoneyheart,” said Mrs. Woodchuck. “He will know what to do with her.”


Chapter VI
Twinkle is Taken to the Judge

At this the woodchuck children all hooted with joy, crying: “Take her, Daddy! Take her to old Stoneyheart! Oh, my! won’t he give it to her, though!”

“Who is Judge Stoneyheart?” asked Twinkle, a little uneasily.

“A highly respected and aged woodchuck who is cousin to my wife’s grandfather,” was the reply. “We consider him the wisest and most intelligent of our race; but, while he is very just in all things, the judge never shows any mercy to evil-doers.”

“I haven’t done anything wrong,” said the girl.

“But your father has, and much wrong is done us by the other farmers around here. They fight my people without mercy, and kill every woodchuck they can possibly catch.”

Twinkle was silent, for she knew this to be true.

“For my part,” continued Mister Woodchuck, “I’m very soft-hearted, and wouldn’t even step on an ant if I could help it. Also I am sure you have a kind disposition. But you are a human, and I am a woodchuck; so I think I will take you to old Stoneyheart and let him decide your fate.”

“Hooray!” yelled the young woodchucks, and away they ran through the paths of the garden, followed slowly by their fat mother, who held the lace parasol over her head as if she feared she would be sunstruck.

Twinkle was glad to see them go. She didn’t care much for the woodchuck children, they were so wild and ill-mannered, and their mother was even more disagreeable than they were. As for Mister Woodchuck, she did not object to him so much; in fact, she rather liked to talk to him, for his words were polite and his eyes pleasant and kindly.

“Now, my dear,” he said, “as we are about to leave this garden, where you have been quite secure, I must try to prevent your running away when we are outside the wall. I hope it won’t hurt your feelings to become a real prisoner for a few minutes.”

Then Mister Woodchuck drew from his pocket a leather collar, very much like a dog-collar, Twinkle thought, and proceeded to buckle it around the girl’s neck. To the collar was attached a fine chain about six feet long, and the other end of the chain Mister Woodchuck held in his hand.

“Now, then,” said he, “please come along quietly, and don’t make a fuss.”

He led her to the end of the garden and opened a wooden gate in the wall, through which they passed. Outside the garden the ground was nothing but hard, baked earth, without any grass or other green thing growing upon it, or any tree or shrub to shade it from the hot sun. And not far away stood a round mound, also of baked earth, which Twinkle at once decided to be a house, because it had a door and some windows in it.

There was no living thing in sight—not even a woodchuck—and Twinkle didn’t care much for the baked-clay scenery.

Mister Woodchuck, holding fast to the chain, led his prisoner across the barren space to the round mound, where he paused to rap softly upon the door.


Chapter VII
Twinkle is Condemned

“Come in!” called a voice.

Mister Woodchuck pushed open the door and entered, drawing Tinkle after him by the chain.

In the middle of the room sat a woodchuck whose hair was grizzled with old age. He wore big spectacles upon his nose, and a round knitted cap, with a tassel dangling from the top, upon his head. His only garment was an old and faded dressing-gown.

When they entered, the old woodchuck was busy playing a game with a number of baked-clay dominoes, which he shuffled and arranged upon a baked-mud table; nor did he look up for a long time, but continued to match the dominoes and to study their arrangement with intense interest.

Finally, however, he finished the game, and then he raised his head and looked sharply at his visitors.

“Good afternoon, Judge,” said Mister Woodchuck, taking off his silk hat and bowing respectfully.

The judge did not answer him, but continued to stare at Twinkle.

“I have called to ask your advice,” continued Mister Woodchuck. “By good chance I have been able to capture one of those fierce humans that are the greatest enemies of peaceful woodchucks.”

The judge nodded his gray head wisely, but still answered nothing.

“But now that I’ve captured the creature, I don’t know what to do with her,” went on Mister Woodchuck; “although I believe, of course, she should be punished in some way, and made to feel as unhappy as her people have made us feel. Yet I realize that it’s a dreadful thing to hurt any living creature, and as far as I’m concerned I’m quite willing to forgive her.” With these words he wiped his face with a red silk handkerchief, as if really distressed.

“She’s dreaming,” said the judge, in a sharp, quick voice.

“Am I?” asked Twinkle.

“Of course. You were probably lying on the wrong side when you went to sleep.”

“Oh!” she said. “I wondered what made it.”

“Very disagreeable dream, isn’t it?” continued the judge.

“Not so very,” she answered. “It’s interesting to see and hear woodchucks in their own homes, and Mister Woodchuck has shown me how cruel it is for us to set traps for you.”

“Good!” said the judge. “But some dreams are easily forgotten, so I’ll teach you a lesson you’ll be likely to remember. You shall be caught in a trap yourself.”

“Me!” cried Twinkle, in dismay.

“Yes, you. When you find how dreadfully it hurts you’ll bear the traps in mind forever afterward. People don’t remember dreams unless the dreams are unusually horrible. But I guess you’ll remember this one.”

He got up and opened a mud cupboard, from which he took a big steel trap. Twinkle could see that it was just like the trap papa had set to catch the woodchucks, only it seemed much bigger and stronger.

The judge got a mallet and with it pounded a stake into the mud floor. Then he fastened the chain of the trap to the stake, and afterward opened the iron jaws of the cruel-looking thing and set them with a lever, so that the slightest touch would spring the trap and make the strong jaws snap together.

“Now, little girl,” said he, “you must step in the trap and get caught.”

“Why, it would break my leg!” cried Twinkle.

“Did your father care whether a woodchuck got its leg broken or not?” asked the judge.

“No,” she answered, beginning to be greatly frightened.

“Step!” cried the judge, sternly.

“It will hurt awfully,” said Mister Woodchuck; “but that can’t be helped. Traps are cruel things, at the best.”

Twinkle was now trembling with nervousness and fear.

“Step!” called the judge, again.

“Dear me!” said Mister Woodchuck, just then, as he looked earnestly into Twinkle’s face, “I believe she’s going to wake up!”

“That’s too bad,” said the judge.

“No, I’m glad of it,” replied Mister Woodchuck.

And just then the girl gave a start and opened her eyes.

She was lying in the clover, and before her was the opening of the woodchuck’s hole, with the trap still set before it.
 

Chapter VIII 
Twinkle Remembers

“Papa,” said Twinkle, when supper was over and she was nestled snugly in his lap, “I wish you wouldn’t set any more traps for the woodchucks.”

“Why not, my darling?” he asked in surprise.

“They’re cruel,” she answered. “It must hurt the poor animals dreadfully to be caught in them.”

“I suppose it does,” said her father, thoughtfully. “But if I don’t trap the woodchucks they eat our clover and vegetables.”

“Never mind that,” said Twinkle, earnestly. “Let’s divide with them. God made the woodchucks, you know, just as He made us, and they can’t plant and grow things as we do; so they have to take what they can get, or starve to death. And surely, papa, there’s enough to eat in this big and beautiful world, for all of God’s creatures.”

Papa whistled softly, although his face was grave; and then he bent down and kissed his little girl’s forehead.

“I won’t set any more traps, dear,” he said.

And that evening, after Twinkle had been tucked snugly away in bed, her father walked slowly through the sweet-smelling fields to the woodchuck’s hole; there lay the trap, showing plainly in the bright moonlight. He picked it up and carried it back to the barn. It was never used again.
 

THE END




Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 1, 1917.

The Solemn, Most Solemn Proclamation

The clock was on the stroke of twelve
And all were deep asleep,
For in Supposyville, my dears,
Folks early hours keep.
When all at once the courtyard bell
Began to toll so loud
The people tumbled from their beds
And hastened in a crowd.
“What can it be?” “What’s happened?” and
“Whatever do you s’pose?”
Each asked the other, shivering
In the courtyard. No one knows.
Then lights shine from the window
In the palace and appears
The Royal Chief Prime Minister,
His pen behind his ears.
Upon the balcony above
The King and Queen as well,
And all stand listening to the
Tolling of the courtyard bell!
Full twenty strokes it sounds and then
Quite suddenly is still.
“I’ve called you hither!” quoth the King
Of all Supposyville,
“To hear a solemn proclamation.
Oh, my children, don’t despair.
Alas! That it should come to pass.
Behold! Behear! BEWARE!”
The King stepped back and hid his face,
And now what doleful looks
They turn upon each other,
All the merchants, lords and cooks,
The lords and ladies and the other
Good Supposy folk.
Two blasts the courier pages blew,
Again the good King spoke:
“Read out the proclamation, sir,
Yes, let the WHOLE be told!”
The Prime Minister steps forward
And his paper is unrolled.
Then groans are groaned and sighs are sighed
And every one gives ear,
Wondering with shaking knees
What horrid news he’ll hear.
“Know all ye people!” boomed the voice,
“Prepare ye for the worst,
The clock has struck and I announce
That it is APRIL FIRST!”
With what astonishment and gasps
The shivering townfolk hear,
And what a joke it was on them,
And HOW THEY LAUGHED, dear, dear!


Copyright © 2019 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 1, 2019

MISS FORTUNE

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of The Purple Prince of Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.

Illustrated by Salvador Baguez.
Published in the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, February 25, 1934.


“You make me sick!” fumed the dark-haired girl, stirring her tea impatiently. “I should think you’d be worried to death.”

“Something’ll happen,” insisted the red-haired girl cheerfully. “Something always happens. Look!” Expertly she turned her cup upside down, drained out the tea and gazed intently at the fortune the leaves had left in the bottom. “I see a tall stranger coming in the evening time. I see a roll of real bills; money, Nance, money! And here’s a foreigner handing me an honest to roses bouquet!”




“Really, Mollie, you’re incorrigible!”

“No, just Irish!” Setting down the teacup Mollie regarded her visitor with a mischievous twinkle. But it kindled no answering gleam in the practical eye of her friend.

“Your tall man is probably a collector; your roll, a wad of gas and coal bills; the foreigner, an Italian trying to sell you a bunch of bananas.” Having cryptically spoken her mind on the subject and having helpfully eaten all the cake and toast, Nance pushed back her chair. “I’m awfully short myself, but if I can do anything—” Her voice trailed away indefinitely and glancing around with a little shudder she took her efficient departure.

As the door of the small gift shop closed Mollie allowed herself the luxury of a sigh. And well might she sigh, for between Mollie and the wide world there was but one small dime.

“Anyway, it’s new!” The girl peered anxiously into the cash drawer to see if it were still there, then walking about softly began to clear away the dishes. Beautifully enough Mollie’s adventure had started. The tiny house on the edge of the Philadelphia slums, that was to furnish atmosphere and interest, had gayly been leased. The lamp shades, jolly little dogs and mottoes Mollie had been gathering all summer took their place on the shelves of the small front room that was the shop.

At first all had gone well. Friends attracted by the novelty of the location and by Molly’s gay self came in troops. But alas, more to talk than to buy. An overstock of Christmas novelties, and understock of cash, an unexpected flood of bills, a sudden falling off of customers, and Mollie found herself in mid-January with no capital to renew her wares and not even enough money to pay up her debts and return to the small town from which she had set out so bravely to make her fortune.

As for the neighborhood that was to have furnished atmosphere and interest, it exhaled instead and awful elixir of smoke, garlic and garbage. Too proud to admit defeat, Mollie held her small red head high and vowed to herself that she’d stick. But today, in spite of her gay jests, Mollie’s spirits had begun to droop and there was a tiny panic in the mere thought of tomorrow.

“Some folks,” murmured the girl whimsically, “some folks, cat dear, might call this tea, but tonight we’ll be calling it dinner!” Jock, huge and black, waved his tail just enough to let Mollie know that it was all right with him, then leaped into a chair and surveyed the table hungrily.

“She’s left you no cake and precious little milk, but don’t you care; tomorrow you shall have a fine fish!” As if reassured by this brave promise puss gravely lapped up his saucer of milk and Mollie, having finished her task of clearing away, lit a bright candle and set it in the tiny window. “To light luck to our door!” she whispered rather wistfully into the silky ear of Jock, who had curled up on the counter. “Something’s going to happen, cat dear, something has to happen!”

But the long winter afternoon slipped gayly by and nothing did. Footsteps went maddeningly up and down the narrow street, but no one turned in to inquire the price of the peasant dolls in the window nor to buy a tea cozy for Aunt Susan. As the shadows grew longer and longer Mollie’s sewing dropped into her lap and she gazed pensively out into the dusk. A soft slap against the door made her jump up and, scurrying across the room she flung it open.

“Why, it’s the foreigner!” chuckled Mollie as a swarthy youth distributing samples nodded pleasantly from the next step—“and the roses!” Scooping up the small box of breakfast food Mollie ran back into the shop. “The milkman still trusts us and here’s breakfast, Your Honor!” Waving the bright package at the cat and unnaccountably cheered, Mollie skipped back to her sewing. Even the candle seemed to flicker more brightly after that, and when a moment later the latch of the door was lifted and a tall stranger strode in Mollie was not even surprised.

“It’s himself!”  breathed the girl softly. The stranger removed his hat and cleared his throat in the manner of a man who has disagreeable work ahead of him.

“Good evening,” said Mollie demurely. “I’ve been expecting you.”

“Expecting me!” The stranger eyed her uncomfortably, then took a quick survey of the shop.

“Sure, and I saw you in my teacup!” Leaning her elbows on the little counter, Mollie’s merry blue eyes smiled into the anxious brown ones.

“But you see—” The brown eyes grew more anxious still, and fumbling in his coat pocket the young man brought out a bundle of paper. “You see, I’m a collector and this—”

“I knew,” confided Mollie, clasping her hands in delight, “I knew the minute I set eyes on you that you were a collector. Would it be antiques or pictures that you’re collecting?” With a slight gasp the young man returned the wad of papers to his pocket and after a long look into Mollie’s vivid little face decided that it would be pictures.

In a flash Mollie had whisked to the back of the shop, returning in a moment with a small, dingily framed landscape. “We haven’t many right now, but this—this goes so to the heart!” Snatching the candle from the window Mollie held it close to the painting. First the young man looked at the landscape and then at Mollie. And whether one or both went to the heart it was hard to tell. Reluctantly at last he tore his gaze from the girl and fastened it again upon the landscape. To his amazement he discovered it was a good picture. Great Scott, more than that! Taking the candle from Mollie he examined it with growing excitement.

“Where did you get this?” His voice was so sharp Mollie jumped. At first she was inclined to make up a beautiful story about it being in her family for years and years. But something in the earnest brown eyes brought out the truth. A young English chap, confided Mollie, who had rented her second story for a studio and then gone on the rocks, had left it instead of rent.




“Some rent!” The young man gave a low whistle. “Do you realize, young lady, that this is a genuine Corot? Look at the signature! I know a lot about pictures myself, but I’d like to show this to a friend of mine. Do you care?” Puzzling over just what a Corot might be, for Mollie’s knowledge of art was rather of the lamp shade and embroidery variety, she shook her head, and the stranger, muttering incoherent promises, rushed out of the shop.

It never occurred to Mollie that he might not return. It never occurred to the young man either, and before the little Dutch clock had ticked off an hour he was back with an excited gentleman in a fur coat. Would she accept $2000 for the landscape?

Would she? Mollie clapped her hand to her head and sank wearily into a chair; then as the tall stranger signaled vigorously for her to accept the man’s offer she nodded her head. “But the English lad shall have half,” murmured Mollie in a daze of disbelief. And now the fur-coated angel had actually made out the check and gone and Mollie and the tall stranger were alone.

“Well, Miss King,” sighed the collector regretfully, “I suppose I must be going too.” But there was no conviction in his voice nor in the bewildered nod Mollie gave to this statement. And seeing her so puzzled and happy, what was there for him to do but stay and tell her a bit about the life of Corot, the artist chap, and from that how easy it was to drift into the life story of another chap, who was doing quite well in the collecting line, working his way up through the various departments of his father’s firm.

Indeed it was hours later that the door of the little shop really closed behind him and not then, till he had added another picture to his collection, the picture of Mollie herself that had perched so saucily on the mantel beside the Dutch clock.


*   *   *   *   *   *   *

“Well?” The matter-of-fact voice of Nancy made Mollie look up with a start from her account book the next morning.

“Woman!” cried Mollie, dancing across the shop. “It all came true!”

“What came true?” Nancy stared in amazement at this new and exuberant Mollie.

“The fortune! Girl, dear, the fortune!” Snatching the check from the drawer Mollie waved it over her head, and it was quite fifteen minutes before Nancy had the story straight.

“And are you going to buy some new stock and start again—are you going to—?”

“Maybe!” Speculatively Mollie chewed her pencil, glancing sideways at the empty spot beside the Dutch clock. “Maybe, but I’m thinking perhaps there might be other plans.”

And let it be said that “other plans” were indeed actively brewing, at that very moment, in certain other quarters.



Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, March 25, 1917.


The Secret Sorrow of the Queen

The daffodils are nodding
In the gardens and the hedges
And showing Spring’s first signal greens
Along their blushing edges.
The air is soft and teasing and
All in Supposyville
Are happy, ’cepting one, the Queen—
The lovely Queen is ill.
The sweetest singers cheer her not,
The garden makes her sigh,
And when no one’s about to hear,
She murmurs sadly, “WHY?”
The doctors first look at her tongue,
Next listen to her heart,
Then feel her pulse and shake their heads
And solemnly depart.
The wise men come in tens and fives,
The poor King is distraught,
And everywhere throughout the land
A remedy is sought.
But just as things are at their worst
A wrinkled dame declares
She’ll cure the Queen—Nine footmen tall
Conduct her up the stairs!
She whispers but one word. The Queen
Sits up and claps her hands;
Out from her apron comes a box—
“BEGONE!” the Queen commands.
The twelve attendants go at once,
Then trembling with delight
She opens the box and, dears and ducks,
The wise old dame was right!
A lovely bonnet, dainty as a
Rainbow after showers,
She’s brought a new spring bonnet,
Ribbons, bits of lace and flowers!
“I don’t mind my crown in winter!”
Sighed the Queen, “but in the spring
I’ve got to have a bonnet. Now
Do you suppose the King
Would mind if I put by my jeweled
Crown until the fall?”
“Of course he wouldn’t, dearie.
Why, he wouldn’t mind at all!”
Just then the King himself appeared—
I can’t describe the way
The Queen looked in that bonnet—
First the King had naught to say,
But gazed in speechless wonderment.
“You’re twice a Queen in that!
Sweet Pozy, put your crown away
And wear that lovely hat!”
And now on fair and balmy days
Queen Pozy wears her bonnet
Which is quite as it should be, dears,
The more I think upon it.
And all Supposyville kneels to
The bonnet, bending down
Thrice deeper than they ever bent,
Sweethearts, to her gold crown.


Copyright © 2019 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 1, 2019

THE DANCING LESSON

Verse and illustration by John R. Neill
Author of The Runaway in Oz, The Wonder City of Oz, Lucky Bucky in Oz, etc. 

Originally published in The Sunday Magazine, December 25, 1904

Click on image to enlarge.

“To be a society beau
Good manners you clearly must kneau,”
Said the maitre de danse
With a flourish from France
As he gracefully stood on his teau.

The children advanced in a reau
And gracefully courtesied leau,
And when they succeeded
In doing as he did
They cried in their rapture: “Heau-Heau!”


Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, March 18, 1917.


The Invasion of Supposyville

What happened in that Kingdom
Of Supposyville last week
Is really so remarkable
I hesitate to speak
About it. Still I might as well
Tell you, sweethearts, I s’pose,
’Cause every single person
In the Maybe Kingdom knows!
’Twas the time when all Supposyville
Turns out to promenade,
Just 3 o’clock, but scare had the
Procession gone a rod
Before the tramp of heavy feet,
The sound of beating drums,
The tooting of a hundred horns
To all the company comes!
The gates are opened in a trice
And all Supposyville
Turns out to see AN ARMY HUGE
A-charging down the hill.
The Queen dispatched her cooks with haste—
“A FEAST and lemonade,
How nice of them to call on us
And what a fine parade!”
The lads and lassies clap their hands
And all stand in a row
And wave their ’kerchiefs and the
Children fairy kisses blow.
The trumpeter toots on his horn,
The Queen’s pet tickle bird
Flies off to meet the army.
’Fore a man could say a word
He’d flown beneath each chin and flicked
His tickle feathers lightly;
Each soldier man tried not to grin
But roared at last outrightly.
Before the Captain’s face is straight
Enough to thunder, “CHARGE!”
The cooks approach, the first one armed
With an apple pie SO large,
So juicy and delectable
The army is distraught,
Broke ranks, advanced. Not for the Kingdom,
For the PIE they fought!
“Why, there is plenty, plenty more,
You famished men, ne’er fear;
We’ve lemonade and apple pie
For every soldier here,”
The Queen assured them, while the Captain
Tried to frown a frown,
And say, “Go to, we’ve conquered you!”
Instead, he just sat down
On a chair a page brought. Never, dears,
Were soldier men so treated;
At 6 o’clock they marched away
Delighted, and defeated.
“How can one fight an enemy
Who fills you up with PIE?”
The Captain chuckled to his men,
“No use at all to try!”
And on the records that he keeps
He wrote this sentence down:
“We cannot capture them, because
We’re captured by the town!”

Copyright © 2019 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

OLIVER ELEPHANT GOT EVEN

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of Ojo in Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 20, 1914.
 


One day Oliver Elephant and his cousin, Tommy Tapir, were walking through the deep forest together. They were going after cocoanuts. Tommy was such a happy little chap that he could not help singing the song that his mother sang to him in the morning. This is it:

“Oh, Tommy, Tommy Tapir,
If you’re good as you can be,
You can have some bread and ’lasses
And some ginger snaps for tea.”

Oliver Elephant didn’t have much of a voice, but he rumbled tumpty, tum tum under his breath. He swung his trunk to and fro and felt that the world was a very nice place for little elephants. So you see, they both were happy.

Pretty soon they came to the tall cocoanut trees. “Oooh,” sighed Oliver Elephant, shutting one eye. “Ummmm,” chuckled Tommy Tapir, licking his chops. Then Oliver and Tommy both began picking up the cocoanuts that were lying on the ground. Tommy pushed his into a pile with his nose and Oliver picked his up in his trunk. After they each had about twenty, I guess, they sat down to rest. “Betcha I can eat mine faster than you,” aid Oliver Elephant. “Betcha can’t,” said Tommy Tapir. “All right now,” said Oliver, “when I count three we’ll start.”

“One—two—three,” sang out Oliver Elephant. Whackety—bang!! Down came a cocoanut on Oliver Elephant’s head, and at the same minute another bounced on Tommy Tapir’s nose. “Ooooooh,” screamed Oliver Elephant. “Ouch,” screamed Tommy, jumping up and kicking over all his cocoanuts. You see it was mighty surprisesome getting cocoanuts on the outside when you’re expecting them on the in.

“Huh—who did that,” screamed Oliver Elephant. “Huh—who—” began Tommy Tapir. But just then down came a whole shower of cocoanuts. Bang!! Bump!! Bump!! They hit Oliver Elephant on the head and on the trunk and on the foot—and—oh—they just hit him EVERYWHERE. They hit Tommy Tapir, too. “Run away, run away, come again some other day,” sang two voices and two bad little monkeys stuck their heads out of the leaves and made faces at Oliver and Tommy. “Come down here, and I’ll shake you to pieces,” roared Oliver Elephant. “If I ever get hold of your tail—” said Tommy Tapir. “Ha, Ha,” laughed the monkeys, and shook the trees till cocoanuts came down like a hailstorm on poor Oliver and Tommy.

Now I don’t want you to think that Oliver and Tommy weren’t brave. They were. I don’t believe even you could have stood all those cocoanuts bumping on top of you without running. “I’ll get even—I’ll get even—I’ll get even” sobbed Oliver Elephant over and over as he ran off home. I don’t know what Tommy Tapir said.

“What’s the matter?” asked his big kind mother as he came plunging in the door. Then he told her about the bad little monkeys. “But I’ll get even—I’ll get even,” he kept sobbing. His big kind mother didn’t say much, but she tied his poor bumped head up in a big palm leaf. Then she went and got her hat. “Where are you going?” asked Oliver, looking out from under the palm leaf. “To help you get even,” said his mother. Then she whispered a few words in Oliver’s big ear and went along down the road.

Pretty soon the bad little monkeys saw her coming and they hid behind their mammy, ’cause they surely thought they were going to get—well, what little folks usually get when they are very bad indeed. Oliver Elephant’s mother just knocked very gently on the tree and said, “I just came over to see whether you and the boys wouldn’t take supper with us.” And their mammy, who didn’t know how naughty they had been, said, “Why, we’d love to.” Then Oliver Elephant’s mother went home and she and Oliver had a big laugh together.

Soon the bad little monkeys and their mammy came knocking at the door, and when their mammy saw Oliver Elephant with his head all tied up, she threw up her hands. “Oh, what is the matter with big little Oliver Elephant?” Then the two little monkeys began to shiver and shake and hang their heads, but Oliver Elephant’s mother just shook her head. “Oliver Elephant has had a very sad accident,” and that’s all she did say. Then Oliver Elephant got out all his best toys for the monkeys to play with (they didn’t feel much like playing), and after a while Tommy Tapir came over. His head was tied up, too. “Oh, what’s the matter with Tommy Tapir?” cried the bad little monkeys’ mammy again. “He’s had a very sad accident,” said Oliver Elephant’s mother, and that’s all she did say. Then she showed the boys how to play the games she used to play when she was a little elephant, and they all played “tails up and tails down” till tea time.

For tea they had the most delightful things. I can’t remember just what, and every time the two little bad monkeys looked at Oliver’s and Tommy’s bandaged heads they felt SO ashamed that they never threw cocoanuts at anybody again. So you see that Mother Elephant’s way of getting even was best.

(Oliver Elephant has just told me that the two little monkeys said they were sorry. I am very glad of this.)



Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, March 11, 1917.

 
More About Supposyville

Now in Supposyville there lived,
Besides the king and queen,
Enough Supposyvillers to
Count up to umpty steen!
And all of them were happy.
Well, no wonder, in a town
Where posies sprang up everywhere
And none knew how to frown;
Where every maid and lad could dance
And every one could sing,
And every week the whole sweet town
Went calling on the king.
The queen would order cakes and tea,
And what a time they had;
No wonder that they all, I say,
Were good and never bad!
But one night as they frolicked
At the Court Supposy ball,
A rumbling sounded out of doors
That fairly shook the hall!
The king took off his crown and stood
Upon his tippy toes
To look out of the casement.
“Mercy! What do you suppose?”
Each murmured to the other.
OPEN burst the door and then
In strode a pirate and his crew.
“My, what delightful men!”
The king exclaimed, and hurried up
Before a dirk was drawn,
And clapped the chief upon the back,
Was e’er such goings on?
The chieftain muttered to his mates;
Ere they knew how or why
There they were, dancing with the rest,
If anything, more spry.
The queen pressed on the scalawags
The choice of all her roses,
For in this quaint, queer country
Every one, you know, supposes
Each person to be just as nice
As he or she is—WHEW * *
Those pirates were embarrassed so
They scarce knew what to do;
They stood it for an hour,
Then they left without a spoon.
“With such goings on I’m blessed if I
Could take a chipped doubloon!”
The chieftain rumbled as he pushed
The boat out from the shore;
“If all the world were like that town
I’d be a rogue no more!”

Copyright © 2019 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.