Monday, December 20, 2021


By Ruth Plumly Thompson  
Author of The Giant Horse of Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 7, 1919.
Swish—sh! Splash—sh! Oliver Elephant was busy. Filling his trunk with the cool river water and sending it spraying backward, he stood knee-deep in the soft mud of the river bank.

“Wonder what the two-legs do to keep cool and clean—they have no trunk!” he thought to himself. The more he thought about it the more he wondered, until he became so careless that he squirted a vigorous spray of water straight in Tommy Crocodile’s eye. Tommy was usually very patient—but Oliver had interrupted a wonderful dream and he was so cross that the little elephant finished his bath in a hurry and humpety-humped through the forest to his elephant jungleow.

When supper-time came he was still wondering, and ate only a small piece of a wonderful hay pie Mother Elephant had made specially for him. She made him stick out his tongue and felt his pulse and then decided it must be because it was nearly time for school to open and did not bother about him any further.

As for Oliver, he was planning to do a very naughty thing. For “don’t go beyond that grove of trees,” said Mother Elephant. And “don’t go beyond that grove of trees” warned Father Elephant and Uncle Abner. And he was planning to do just that—to find out for himself how the two-legs kept clean and cool.

The next morning early he started out very quietly, pushing aside the branches and underbrush with his swinging trunk, and keeping a sharp lookout for enemies. Once a bad little monkey dropped a cocoa-nut right on his head with a loud “thwack,” and once a big mosquito flew into his big flapping ear, and buzzed loud and long. Otherwise the journey was very dull and Oliver had just filled his trunk for a drink and a bath when he came suddenly almost on top of a group of tents with black two-legs running hither and thither.

Wide-eyed the little elephant watched while they stretched a piece of canvas to four poles and carried enough water from the river to make a very fair bathtub.

“What wouldn’t I give this minute for a good cold shower,” complained a white two-legs to his companion as he started toward their bath.

And then—well that same wicked little monkey that had hit Oliver with the cocoa-nut—stole up behind the big little elephant and pinched his stubby tail very hard indeed. And Oliver, surprised and chagrined, lifted his trunk to trumpet his disapproval of such treatment, and gave those two white men the strangest shower bath of their lives.

“It’s a baby elephant,” some one said excitedly.

Black two-legs and white two-legs started to chase poor Oliver, and he went crash-crashing through the forest and never stopped until he reached dear Mother Elephant and told her the whole story.

“Well, anyhow, Oliver Elephant, you found out how two-legs keep cool and clean. Instead of a trunk they use a pipe with holes in the end and the water sprays them, just as you spray yourself down in the river,” laughed the wise old Mother Elephant.

And Oliver promised never to disobey again—though I’m sure the white men would have appreciated many another jungle shower bath—don’t you think so too?

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 9, 1917. 
Sir Solomon Tremendous Wise Has Another Idea

Sir Solomon Tremendous Wise
All dubious surveys the skies;
No cloud doth mar its pristine blue;
“There’s just one thing for me to do,”
The sage unto himself doth speak
In some strange language (prob’bly Greek!)
Then gath’ring up his robe of state
He hies him hence at quite a gait.

Sir Solomon claims our close attentions—
Well, chiefly through his queer inventions;
And in his tower on the Hill
He works for all Supposyville.
No problem is too large or small
For him, he tries to solve them all.
His way, still hurrying, he doth take
Down to the edge of Mirror Lake.

Addresses it in language grim;
It shivers at the scorn of him;
So cold his glance and harsh his word,
Pshaw, now, it does seem quite absurd;
Whatever, dears, do you suppose?
That lake just heaved a sigh—then FROZE!
“This,” said Sir Solomon, “is first rate,
High time it is for us to skate.”

Away he waddles with the news;
With silver skates, in threes and twos
The good Supposies reach the lake,
And how they chuckle, mercy sake!
And how they cheer old Mr. Wise
And thank him for his fine surprise;
In rings they skate, and figures fancy
Perform, both marvelous and chancy.

The boys and girls, and merchants, too;
The King and Queen and courtiers flew
On silver heels, while merry peals
Of laughter tell how each one feels;
But, oh! my stars, my eyes, my nose,
My heart, my heels, my head and toes!
There came a creak, and then a snap—
The ice gave way, and in the lap

Of that cold lake the party tumbled,
Head over heels together, jumbled
Like raisins in a pudding—Whew!
How they did splash and splutter, too;
And there upon the bank they dried
Their clothes, and laughed until they cried;
It was, well, such a big surprise;
And don’t blame it on Mr. Wise,
Indeed I’m very sure, dears, ’tis
No parcel of a fault of his;
That lake with such warm smiles was pelted
It couldn’t keep its ice, and melted.

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