Thursday, April 1, 2021

OLIVER ELEPHANT AND COURAGE

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, October 14, 1917.
 

“What is ‘courage,’ Tommy Tapir?” asked Oliver Elephant, swinging his books by the strap as the two walked slowly toward the schoolhouse.

“Why—why—courage is not being afraid of the dark or any one larger than you. I have courage, Oliver Elephant, because I’m not afraid of you, and you’re MUCH larger than I am. I don’t believe, Oliver, that you have any courage at all. Look how you ran when you pulled Tabora Crocodile’s tooth. Yes, Oliver Elephant, I truly do think you must be a COWARD.”

At this Oliver elephant looked very sad, indeed, His trunk hung straight down, and so did his tail. No courage! What would his mother think, for Oliver had heard her say that morning that if there was one thing she detested in this world it was coward elephant. The school bell made both cousins quicken their steps, and Tommy Tapir, anxious to show Oliver Elephant how brave he was, pushed him aside and hurried to his seat.

Professor Bear was exceedingly bearish that day, and big little Oliver was so sad and sorrowful thinking how dreadful it was to have your own mother detest you that he could not remember his lessons at all—not even how much twice two cocoanuts equaled. So his big ears drooped more and more and his trunk got sniffly, and his eyes filled with huge tears that rolled splash on to his new jacket. Frantically he looked for his clean handkerchief, but remembered that he had used it that morning to collect dried bugs and had left it under a stone for safe keeping.

Tommy Tapir was watching Oliver and was really feeling dreadfully sorry he had called him a coward, and when he saw the huge tears roll slowly down Oliver’s trunk he handed him his handkerchief. Oliver’s eyes were so misty that he never noticed the wiggeldy things tied up in the corner.

“Oliver Elephant, come here!” Professor Bear’s voice was very stern, indeed. “What is that sticking out of the corner of your handkerchief, CANDY?” “I dod’t dow!” sobbed Oliver Elephant. “Don’t tell stories, Oliver Elephant!” thundered the professor. He jerked the handkerchief out of Oliver’s hand, and, untying it, shook out of the desk a little snake cut in three pieces. The professor’s glasses fell with a crash to the floor, so shocked was he. “What a cowardly thing to do! The poor little snake! You are not only a story teller, Oliver Elephant, but a COWARD; and I cannot have cowards in my schoolroom. Go home at ONCE!!”

That dreadful words again! Oliver Elephant looked beseechingly at Tommy Tapir, but Tommy turned his head away  and, crying as if his heart would break, Oliver ran from the school and threw himself on the soft ground. “It’s not fair! It’s not fair,” he sobbed over and over.

“Why, Oliver Elephant, what’s the matter?” Mother Elephant had baked a great big juicy cocoanut pie, and was carrying it to school for Oliver’s lunch.

“I’M A COWARD!!” choked Oliver Elephant as soon as he could make himself understood. “Who says so?” asked Mother Elephant, glaring around threateningly. “Tommy Tapir—and Professor Bear—and every one thinks so!” sobbed Oliver. With his trunk to his eyes he told her all about it, and when he came to the part about the snake, Mother Elephant looked very grave indeed. “That was cowardly, Oliver. It was so much smaller and you cut it up to die!” At this Oliver looked more dejected than ever. “I am sorry you are a --------.” Just as she was about to say that hateful word again, a forlorn little figure, all out of breath, came racing out of the schoolhouse door. “Oliver, Oliver Elephant! I told the professor it was mine, and he wants you to come right back. He says you aren’t a coward, Oliver, and I was only fooling this morning. I don’t think so either. I—I—think you are the bravest elephant there is. But I AM A COWARD!!” And Tommy Tapir threw himself down on the selfsame spot which was all soggy with Oliver’s tears.

Mother Elephant thought a moment with her trunk to her head, then she looked very wise. “I don’t think you meant to hurt the poor little snake, did you, Tommy?” she asked gently. “Ung-ung! Tabora Crocodile told me it wouldn’t hurt it and that the pieces would wiggle until the sun went down!” sniffled Tommy. “Oh, I didn’t mean to be a coward!”

“Don’t cry, Tommy Tapir. Neither of you is a coward!” said Mother Elephant, putting her trunk around the two little cousins. “I am proud of you, Oliver, for not telling on Tommy. That took courage. And I am proud of you, Tommy, for telling on yourself. That took a great deal of courage. For, you see, real courage is not being afraid to do the RIGHT thing no mater how hard it is.”

Then they all sat down to eat cocoanut pie, which didn’t take any courage at all.

 

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 30, 1917. 
 
 
Supposyville Goes A-Nutting

A touch of frost is in the air;
Jack Rabbit homeward scurrying
Points his long ears, forsooth he hears
A reason for more hurrying.
A silver horn, clear as the morn,
Its merry summons peals;
Jack Rabbit pauses for no more
But takes him to his heels;
He need not run, nor fear the gun
Of huntsman bold, for here
None come to do him harm;
’Tis the Supposyfolk, my dear,
Laden with sticks, with sacks and bags;
With tarts and sweets delectable
They’re out upon a frolic,
Which is surely quite expectable;
Off toward the royal forests,
Where the nuts are growing thick as peas,
They turn their steps, and soon
Are circling merrily beneath the trees;
But scarce their sacks and lunches
Are disposed upon the ground,
Before queer crossish rumblings
And grumblings begin to sound;
The trees swish to and fro
As from a giant wind storm tossed;
The burry nuts pelt down like hail;
With grievous scratches all criss-crossed;
The poor Supposies cling together;
Several there have brought umbrellas,
And these they raise and thus ward off
The stinging missiles (lucky fellows);
“Bear up!” the King calls to the rest;
Bear up! Well, I should say
There were two dozen up there
In the trees. Oh, deep dismay!
Why even in Supposyville they
Have bears. I declare
If there was one place free of them
I’d think it would be there.
“Bear up, is very well,” a wise man cried;
“If they bear down,
And bear us off, what then?”
The King took off his golden crown
In great distress; not so the Queen.
She rushed off toward the lunch
And tossed aloft some apple tarts;
Down in a furry bunch
The bears descended; and not heeding
Warnings, there here highness
Gave all the goodies to the bears,
Nor seemed to mind their nighness;
And while they ate, with sundry grunts,
The good Supposies fill
Their socks [sic] and bags chock full
And run back to Supposyville.
And any one there will bear out
This tale. I’ve barely time
To finish this, because I have
To write another rhyme.
(So please excuse me.)

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 1, 2021

THINK IT OVER!

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

Hungry Tiger Press celebrates twenty years of bringing you short works by the Royal Historians of Oz with the following song lyric, likely intended for the unproduced stage show The Octopus, circa 1901.
Courtesy of Robert A. Baum


If a girl declares she loves you and forever will be true—
Think it over! Think it over!
If you’re living up your income how can you provide for two?
Think it over care-ful-ly!
It’s nice to have a little wife to cook and pour your tea;
It’s nice to have some little ones to clamber on your knee,
But you can’t afford the luxury on ten a week, you see—
Think it over! Think it over!

If you run across a slot-machine that promises you wealth—
Think it over! Think it over!
Perhaps the thing is standing there to benefit its health—
Think it over care-ful-ly!
Also the man who wants to sell you gold-mines mighty cheap
Is either a philanthropist or thinks you’re sound asleep;
Perhaps he needs the money or the gold he’d surely keep—
Think it over! Think it over!

When you breakfast at your boarding-house and find the dish is hash—
Think it over! Think it over!
Perhaps it’s mixed with buttons or the darky cook’s mustache—
Think it over care-ful-ly!
Or when a friend relates to you the well-known tale of woe:
Just changed his trousers but forgot to change his purse, you know:
Perhaps he’s gently stringing you, and yet perhaps ’tis so—
Think it over! Think it over!

When a politician claims he’s fighting for the peoples’ right—
Think it over! Think it over!
Perhaps some corporation will his services requite—
Think it over carefully!
Likewise restrain your envy when you find your neighbor man
Is riding in a yellow Auto., new and spick and span:
Perhaps he’s paying for it on the new installment plan—
Think it over! Think it over!

 

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 7, 1917.

Hunting Season in Supposyville

Of course, you know the hunting
Season is at hand; one hears
The sound of popping guns;
And in Supposyville, my dears,
With horns and hounds and revelry
The season is acclaimed.
Oh, indeedy, for festivities
This season is far-famed.
And what do you suppose they hunt?
Big game? The fox or hares?
Upon my word ’tis none of these;
Nor lions, no; nor bears.
A-riding down the lanes and streets
All merrily they canter,
And in the courtyard all dismount
With jollity and banter;
And there are posted high the lists
Of game, dears, and next minute
Away they go, and high and low
They hunt when they begin it.
They rummage through the cellars,
And they scurry through the halls;
And in their haste, I tell you now,
They take some pretty falls;
But long about threeteen o’clock
(Supposyville for four)
A great bell sounds and men and hounds
Crowd ’round the castle door;
And hanging to their saddles
And around their necks they bring
The game. Ha! Ho! ’Tis funny. Oh,
They’ve hunted everything!
Yes, everything that has been lost
For months back; books and purses,
Umbrellas, dogs and overshoes;
Well, really, dears, these verses
Could hardly tell the list of them;
And all the lovely prizes
The King and Queen award the huntsmen.
But how very wise is
This hunting business; oh, I wish
We’d have one, too, and find
Just all the lost belongings
That have strayed or stayed behind.

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 1, 2021

THE HOUSEKEEPING ADVENTURES OF TIMMY TWITCHET

By Ruth Plumly Thompson  
Author of The Purple Prince of Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.
 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 21, 1917.
 

Timmy Twitchet, as I told you a while back, had moved into the old dollhouse that had been sent up to the attic. It was an ideal home for a mouse, so roomy and with so many comforts and conveniences. There were several spare beds and Timmy often had his friends to stay all night. He took great pride in his establishment, I can tell you!

Several of his cousins, who were handy with the needle, had made him curtains from an old white dimity dress that someone had left on a chair in the attic, and there was plenty for bedspreads, too, so you can imagine how cozy it was. Captain Twirler, an old gentleman mouse who had often called upon the dolls when the house stood in the playroom, assured Timmy that even in its heyday (whenever that was) the house had never been so well kept. And I dare say this is true, for dolls are seldom good housekeepers. More than one bachelor mouse tried to rent a room from Timmy, but as Timmy said he didn’t care for boarders, they had to apply elsewhere.

And now that Timmy was set up so well he was invited everywhere by the mouse mamas, who were quite anxious for their daughters to marry a gentleman mouse with such a comfortable home. This was all very well, but Timmy could not seem to find among the young lady mice any with whom he would care to trust his heart and his housekeeping. “They don’t know how to cook or mend and spend all their time running to cheese parties,” he confided to his friend, Bobby Grey, and they both shook their heads over the frivolities of the day.

One night as he and Bobby sat discussing the matter over a glass of cider, they were surprised to hear a rumbling outside. “What can that be?” cried Timmy springing up in alarm, “Sounds like—” Bobby got no further, for right on the heels of the thunder came a terrible slam, the house shook all over, the lamp fell on the floor and smashed to bits, it grew dark, well, as dark as an attic can be at night. For five minutes Timmy and his friend did not move. Then, as nothing more seemed to be happening, Timmy crawled cautiously out from beneath the piano, where he had rolled, and felt in his pocket for a match.

“Are you hurt?” quavered Bobby tremulously from under the sofa. “Seem to have twisted my tail and there’s a lump coming on my head!” replied Timmy, as he found the match. “How about you?” holding the flickering light above Bobby.

“A little shaken, thank you!” Bobby scrambled to his feet and both stared about uneasily, but still nothing else happened. “Suppose we look out and see what it was,” suggested Timmy bravely. Fetching a candle from the kitchen the two went to the front door, but it wouldn’t open. They pushed and shoved till they were red in the face, but could not budge it. “That’s funny,” said Timmy. “It never stuck before!”

They ran up stairs as fast as they could patter and threw up the windows. Timmy thrust his head impulsively out the window. Another lump began to come, for he had bumped his head on something and before he could say anything Bobby had bumped his head. It was very painful, as well as provoking.

They went up to the third story and felt out the little window; a big black mountain seemed to be jammed tightly against the house. “This is terrible,” said Timmy Twitchet, sitting down on a doll’s trunk in the corner. Bobby set the candle down on the floor. “Have you a chimney?” he asked at last. There was a chimney, and with a small lantern they climbed cautiously up and looked out the top. Fortunately Timmy had brought the doll opera glasses that he found in his bureau drawer and with this help they made out a GREAT TRUNK. It had been pushed right up against the dollhouse. “This ruins everything,” wailed Timmy. “Let’s go to bed,” proposed Bobby sensibly, and as there seemed nothing else to do they turned in, after tying up their bruises with witch hazel.

For several days Timmy was in deepest despair, and no wonder, with his view cut off in this sudden fashion. It was humiliating, too, to have to enter one’s house by the chimney. None of his friends, excepting Bobby, would come to see him, and he was not invited to any more parties, “for who would want one’s daughter to live in THAT dungeon,” whispered the mouse mothers to one another. But joy, one morning when Timmy wakened up everything was light again. He rushed to the window, and much to his delight found that the trunk had been pushed aside. He called Bobby right up on the telephone and that very day he received invitations to twenty parties. “Don’t go,” advised Bobby, and Timmy did not go to any of them. All I hope is that he finds a nice, quiet, demure little mouse to share his house, and if he does, I shall certainly tell you about it.


Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 30, 1917. 
 
 
The Autumnal Fete in Supposyville

Now in Supposyville, my loves,
Before the frosty days come flying,
They have a grand autumnal fete;
And hitherward each goes a-hying
Beneath the autumn skies to dance
And sing, and frolic on the green,
And hold high carnival and pledge
Allegiance to the King and Queen.

And there are booths for this and that,
And goodies, too, in every guise;
Fair fortune telling, and the like,
To please, amuse and oft surprise.
Upon these preparations grand
The giant from his garden wall
Looked in high glee. He lived next door,
As you, my love, no doubt recall.

Now everything’s in readiness,
Supposies come from far and near;
The band strikes up its blithest air—
Behold! the King and Queen are here.
Now twirl the dancers round and round,
Now cries the candy man his wares,
And in this gay, delightful way
Each drops his worries and his cares.

When desolation! Oh, dismay!
Down suddenly, without a warning,
The rain comes pattering, cruelly spattering
The merry dancers. Oh, what mourning!
“Back to the palace!” calls the King.
The boothmen try to save their wares;
And gathering up its skirts and hats,
For flight the company prepares.

But stop, you’ll never once suppose
What happened next—upon my word
It is too comical, I say,
Too comical and too absurd;
For stepping o’er the garden wall,
That giant, the obliging fellow,
Stood in the center like a pole
And kindly held his big umbrella.

And while outside the rain came pouring,
Beneath this sort of circus tent
All dryly, and delightful, highly,
The frolicsome proceedings went.

Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 1, 2021

WHO CALLED "PERRY?"

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

Originally published in the Chicago Times-Herald, January 15, 1896. This transcription has been prepared from reprintings in Detroit Free Press, January 28, 1896, and the Buffalo Evening News, January 31, 1896, which differ slightly.


The Mystery of the Voice That Miraculously Saved a Traveler’s Life Though it Delayed Him.

It was nearly midnight when I boarded the train, and, entering the chair car, prepared to doze during the hours of my journey. “Call me at Perry,” I said to the conductor, as I surrendered my ticket, “for I may be asleep.”

He promised and I settled myself comfortably for my nap.

I don’t know how long I had slept, when some one shook me by the shoulder and shouted, “Perry!”

Opening my eyes I found the train was slowing up, and presently it came to a full stop. “Perry!” again shouted the voice in my ear. This time I sprang to my feet, seized my valise and stepped from the car to the platform just as the train glided away up the track.

I turned to look for the town and found myself confronted by a station agent holding a lantern.

“In which direction is the town?” I asked.

“Town!” he answered, in surprise; “there’s no town here.”

“Isn’t this Perry?”

“No; this is Head’s Crossing. Perry is twenty miles further on.”

“But the conductor,” I said, angry at my misadventure, “called Perry, and so I left the car. I shall report him to the superintendent.”

“The conductor was on the front car,” replied the man, “and you stepped from the rear car. He could not possibly have called you.”

“But some one shouted ‘Perry.’”

The agent looked at me incredulously and said nothing.

“Is there another train?” I asked.

“Not till morning.”

“Where can I sleep?”

“I’ll give you the cot in my office, if you like. The station is the only building within miles.”

Rather ungraciously, I fear, I accepted his hospitality; but the cot was hard and I was too much annoyed to sleep, so I tossed about until suddenly the agent, who was at the telegraph key, startled me by exclaiming:

“Good God!”

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“No. 16 has gone through the bridge at Coon Rapids, and the whole train is lying twenty feet under water!”

No. 16 was the train I had left to spend the night at Head’s Crossing.



Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 23, 1917.
 
 
The Supposies and the Bachelor Giant
 
You remember the 
Bachelor Giant, no doubt,
Whom just awhile back
I was telling about?
He lives, as you know,
Near that realm of renown--
Delightful, delicious
Supposyville town;
But, alas, the poor fellow,
The last of his tribe,
Has more troubles than I
Have time to describe.

The holes in his socks
Are as big as barn doors,
While the state of his kitchen
He daily deplores;
The buttons are burst from
His coat and his breeches;
Insecurely he mends them
With safety pin stitches;
No wife to keep house
Nor to mend, nor to bake;
A condition, my loves,
Fair to make one's heart ache.

All breathless from flying,
The help-a-bit bird
One night to Supposyville
Comes with the word
Of the giant's distress;
First the King is aroused;
In a minute not one
Of the populace drowsed;
In a trice they are dressed
And off over the wall,
Right into the castle.
There's work here for all.

While the giant, unconscious
Of everything, sleeps;
The spirit of order
O'er everything creeps;
They sewed on his buttons,
They mended his socks,
They patched up his breeches
And laundered his stocks.
And resolving at least
Once a month to come back,
Scampered chuckling away
Leaving never a track!
(Well, did you ever?)

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