Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 18, 1916.
Once upon a time the Manx Cat had as beautiful a tail as any, and she would have had it yet had she not had so long a tongue.
She was a great body to gossip—was this first Manx Cat. She would call upon the neighbors and talk from morning till night—not about pleasant things, mind you, but of all the little disagreeable things she had heard about the other cats of her acquaintance.
So whenever they saw her coming, they would meow sorrowfully: “Here comes that cat with her long tail!” I think they meant tale, but tail and tale were all the same in those old faraway days when the Manx Cat went visiting.
One day the king of the cats, who had a way of going about without his crown and mixing with his subjects, happened to drop in upon the cat family where the Manx Cat was visiting. He wore a slouch hat, and no one dreamed he was a king; and first thing you know old Mrs. Manx had him in the corner telling him all sorts of gossip!
The king pulled his whiskers and glared, but still she kept on talking; indeed, she was so busy chattering that she never noticed that the king was pronouncing a spell under his breath. Well, things went on about as usual for a little time. The Manx Cat still kept visiting and gossiping, but one day when she looked into her cheval glass she noticed—oh, my CATNIP—more than half of her tail was missing. She hurried off to her next door neighbor to tell her the terrible news, but when she saw the lady she became so interested in relating how Mrs. Greypuss had bitten her husband’s left ear that she forgot until a little jerk made her glance round at her tail. As she did a piece of it broke off; yes, sir, it broke right off. And after that every time she gossiped or told tales another bit of her tail fell off, till it was ALL TOLD—I mean all gone. And not until THEN did she learn to hold her tongue. That is why the Manx Cats today are so quiet and THAT is why there are bob-tailed cats. And whenever we gossip or tell tales, we lose a bit of ourself—really, a bit of the best of us—just as the Manx Cat lost the best of herself when her beautiful long tail broke off.
Winter Evenings in Supposyville
Oh, winter evenings in Supposyville
Aren’t sleepy, dull affairs—
For winter evenings—like all else—
This charming realm—forsooth—prepares.
“For,” says the King, “the daytimes bring,
As every wise man knows,
Their meed of toil—but evenings are
For joy—and sheer repose!”
So in his own quaint, merry way
The King proceeds to fill
The winter evenings with delight
In all Supposyville.
First trot the royal workmen
Briskly through the realm—to see
That each home has its open grate
And cheerful wide chimnee.
A fireplace is the heart of home—
And keeps folks all together,
Takes off the chill and puts a thrill
In stormy winter weather.
Not satisfied with this, the King
Goes searching up and down—
And you’ll agree I’m sure with me—
That underneath his crown
Ideas there are worth having, for
From east and north and west
He’s gathered in the minstrels
And the jugglers—and the best
And finest storytellers
And musicians—every night
This jolly company from the castle
Goes with footsteps light.
Then sounds a knock upon a door
And who, dear, should it be
But a merry singer come to cheer
A little family!
And so it goes; with all the rest
Each to a house goes scurrying
With songs and jokes and merry tales
This blithely company, hurrying.
And as Supposies never know
What night a merry man may call,
It lends a sort of magicness
And fascination to them all.
Think, dear, yourself—how fine ’twould be
If some night right into your hall
A story-telling man would step
And sitting by the fire, tell all
The jolly tales you’d want to hear;
’Tis surely something new
To stay at home and have the plays
And players come to you!
It seems to me, Supposyville’s
A kingdom that we well might model;
I don’t care—if it IS a realm
Existing largely in my noddle.
Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.