Sunday, July 14, 2019


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.