Tuesday, August 25, 2020


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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, February 13, 1916.

“Well, there’s no use fussing about it, we just won’t win the championship, that’s all! We simply cannot play with four of our best girls gone and one of them the captain!” Bess was on the verge of tears and she was desperately in earnest. “Let’s go down and coax Miss Jamison to let Doris play, anyhow! She has 7 ¾  points in her lessons and I think it’s mean that ¼ point should keep her out of the game. She is our best player. Come on, girls, it won’t hurt to ask.” And Marion, followed by the other five, trooped in to the “gym” teacher to try to soften her “hard” heart to the extent of letting Doris play basketball.

You see, the whole trouble was this. All the girls in the athletic association in the school were so enthusiastic about their “gym” and basketball that lessons had suffered sadly. The day before the championship game was to be played, the gymnastic teacher, Miss Jamison, announced that no girl could play in the game who had not made 8 points in her lessons and the team had lost, as Bessie said, four of their best players, one (Doris, the captain) losing by ¼ point.

Miss Jamison was busy making out report cards when the six girls came rushing into the office, but knowing how disappointed they were about the game, she put down her work to listen to what they had to say.

“Please, Miss Jamison, can’t Doris play? She’s the only one who can save the day for us and w-w-what difference does ¼ point make?” Marion fairly stuttered in her excitement. “Please! Please!” pleaded the others. “We’ll all study extra hard if you’ll just let her play this once!”

“It wouldn’t be fair, girls, to the others!” Miss Jamison argued. But “Please, please!” the girls insisted, until finally Miss Jamison suggested leaving the matter up to Doris herself. “Oh, you’re a dear!” “We’ll study our heads off!” “Come on and tell Doris!” Really, it sounded more like sixty girls than six, and when they finally left to break the news to their captain, Miss Jamison turned back to her work with a shake of her head. The game looked hopeless to her, but she would not tell the girls that—it was too serious a matter to them.

She was not much surprised when, a half hour later the girls came trooping in, dragging Doris with them. “She won’t do it!” “YOU coax her!” “Haven’t you any school spirit?” (This last was addressed Doris.) “I cannot—please, girls! I want to so bad it hurts, but it wouldn’t be square!” Doris was firm and when the girls really were sure she would not play, black gloom settled on the team.

“Why don’t you pick out four girls and coach them this afternoon and in the morning before school?” Miss Jamison suggested.

“Well, you see, we have three girls we can put in from the ‘sub’ team, but there’s not a single girl can take Doris’ place and—oh! what’s the use, we’ll lose!” Elsie explained.

“No, we won’t!” Doris chimed in. “Now, where’s your school spirit? All of you THINK! Who is the likeliest girl you know. If none of you have any one else to suggest, I think Barbara Harlow could be taught—you know how keen she is about the games. She just watches them breathlessly!”

“But she never played!” objected Bess.

“How do you know?” Doris asked. “And anyhow, she knows the game from A to Z and that’s something to start on! Go and ask her, while I hunt up a suit to fit her—and hurry!”

The six girls scattered in all directions and triumphantly returned with a dazed and breathless Barbara in their midst. “But I never—” “Never mind!” finished Doris for her. “Get into this suit and we’ll work like sixty!” And they did!

Even if you have watched basketball and know it, playing it is quite another matter, and by 5:30 o’clock Barbara was worn out and hopeless.

“But,” as Bess said to Marion on the way home, “she did do remarkably well for the first time and all we can expect is to keep from being ‘white-washed.’” “We’ll be lucky if they don’t have a score of 100,” gloomily agreed Marion.

Doris and Barbara were both on the floor at the gym at 7:45 o’clock the next morning and Doris was able to give Barbara some points that helped her play wonderfully. “And remember,” she finished, as the first bell rang and they scurried into their clothes, “Don’t lose your head—don’t get mad—and for pity sakes don’t take any chances!”

There is no use trying to describe the game held that afternoon. It was simply one unexpected event after another and the first half closed with a tie score. Barbara, true to Doris’ teaching, took no chances, and the enthusiastic cheering for “Barbara Harlow” showed what the school thought of their new player. But it was in the last half that Barbara’s excitement told, and while the school watched breathless, she took one daring chance after another, her long arms seeming to be everywhere at once. And, as for the ball, it seemed, in some uncanny way, to always drop in her hands. Indeed, the very last-minute goal that won the game was her doing, and at that the school went quite mad. “What’s the matter with Barbara? – she’s ALL right!” “Why didn’t you tell us you could play?” were shouted at her. “I never did! I’ve played ball with my brother, though, and I’ve watched—BUT I think it really is Doris’ victory!” said Barbara modestly. “Three cheers for Doris—true as steel and square as a die!” Bess led the cheering and the school joined with a will.

“The Double Victory,” Miss Jamison called it. And I think she was about right, don’t you?

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 5, 1917. 
His Highness Tripameasure

Pray let me introduce you to
A wight both bright and jolly,
Whose disposition is the very
Opposite of melancholy,
My Lord of Dancing and the Masque
His Highness Tripameasure,
Of dear Supposyville—you will
I’m sure meet him with pleasure;
He says the trouble with most folks
Is that they quite neglect their heels;
A man must have a way, says he,
To just express the way he feels,
And in each person is a deal
Of spirits that must be expressed,
Or they will sour and turn him dour,
And leave him simply all depressed;
Then, hearts get shaken down, he says,
And must be danced in place;
Besides, to dance is to acquire
A bit of elegance and grace;
We can’t all sing, or play, or write,
But every one can dance;
And in Supposyville he sees
That each one has his chance;
Both old and young, and fat and tall
Assemble in the palace hall;
And there they scrape and bend and bow,
And point and turn and learn just how
Their spirits to express, and when
The weather’s fine and fair
They dance upon the palace lawn
And have the best times there;
It gets to be a habit and scarce
Knowing that they do it,
Each day they trip about and skip,
And gayly dance their way clean through it;
And if you’d shake your troubles
And your stiffness and your sorrow,
Just take a chance and learn to dance;
And now, dear hearts, good morrow!

Copyright © 2020 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.