Originally published January 29, 1905.
Mr. Wimble was one of the heroes of the Spanish War. In climbing San Juan Hill, a cannon ball carried away his left leg, and now he was obliged to strap a wooden leg to the stump that remained and so hobbled around with the aid of a cane.
The government paid him enough pension money to enable him to live frugally, and Mrs. Wimble was such a good manager that she kept the little cottage neat and comfortable and cooked her hero husband dainty meals and cared for him most tenderly.
She placed a cushioned chair for him on the front porch every morning, where he sat and enjoyed the sunshine and the admiration of the crowd of children that always assembled to look with awe upon his wooden leg and listen enraptured to his tales of war. When he wanted a match to light his pipe, one of the children would eagerly run to fetch it, and it was considered a great honor to any child to be permitted to get the hero a cup of water from the pump.
At evening Mrs. Wimble helped him into the little parlor, where his slipper was warming beside the stove, and she hung up his hat and waited upon him lovingly, seeing that his place was supplied with the choicest bits she could afford to provide.
It is really delightful to know how our gallant soldiers are honored when they have suffered for their country.
Well, our friend Jack Pumpkinhead, one of the queer people from the Marvelous Land of Oz, passed by one day and noticed Mr. Wimble’s wooden leg as he sat upon the porch sunning himself. “Poor fellow!” thought Jack. “I must really do something to relieve him!”
Jack is a bit stupid (being a Pumpkinhead), but he has a heart of oak, so he went home and performed a magical incantation that a powerful witch in the Land of Oz had once taught him. Mr. Wimble knew nothing of what Jack was doing, and went to bed in a peaceful frame of mind, his good wife unstrapping his wooden leg and hanging it on a peg beside the bed. But during the night the Pumpkinhead!s incantation took effect, causing a new leg of flesh and blood to grow upon the stump of Mr. Wimble’s old leg, so that when he got up next morning he found, to his amazement, that he was just as good a man as he was before he went to war!
Mrs. Wimble was too astonished to say much. All her husband’s trousers had the left leg cut off, so she had to patch up two pair to make one of them have both legs, and this seemed to her very wasteful.
While they were at breakfast the pension agent came around and, finding the hero had now two legs, refused to pay him any more money. This made Mrs. Wimble nervous and angry.
“Get out of here!” she cried, pushing her husband toward the door. “You must find a job, now that you are an able man, and hustle to earn us a living!”
Poor Mr. Wimble knew not what to do. He had got out of the habit of work, and now found that, instead of being petted and cuddled, he would be called upon to lead a strenuous life. Formerly he had been a bookkeeper, but he knew it would be quite difficult for him to get another position as good as the one he had abandoned to fight for his country.
As he stood upon the front porch thinking of this, the children came along, but finding that their formerly interesting hero was now just like other men, they passed on their way to school with jeers and jokes at his expense.
Poor Mr. Wimble! The grocer came up, having met the pension agent, and said: “Now that you are no longer paid by the government, I must have cash in advance for my goods.” And the tailor followed, waving a bill for the last one-legged trouser he had made and demanding his money.
Then came Jack Pumpkinhead, proud and glad to see the hero with two whole legs, and he told Mr. Wimble of his incantation.
“Alas!” cried the unhappy man, “why did you interfere with the decrees of Providence? With one leg I was happy and honored; with two I am miserable and despised!”
“Well,” said Jack, surprised to find his kind intentions had done harm rather than good. “It is easy enough to remove the leg again.”
“Then do! Do it by all means!” begged Mr. Wimble, anxiously. “It was really shot away in the war, you know; and you had no right to replace it without my consent.”
So Jack did another incantation that same night, and when Mr. Wimble awoke the following morning he called to his wife:
“Come, Susie, and strap on my wooden leg!” And, sure enough, there was only a stump where his left leg should have been!
As he sat on the porch that morning, telling stories to an awed group of children while his wife arranged cushions to support his back, Mr. Wimble looked and saw the Pumpkinhead.
Supposyville Prepares for Spring
Fragrant breath of spring—
The castle’s in a bustle of
Some kind. The Queen and King
Are chuckling over yards of silk,
Of ribbons, cloth and twillings;
Exulting over trimmings, buttons,
Lace and chiffon frillings!
And in the ballroom, in the garden,
In the castle hall,
A-sitting on the golden stairs
And perching on the wall,
Five hundred costume makers stitch
And clip and baste and sew,
Helped out by all the ladies of
The court, while to and fro,
The pages and prime ministers
Run fetching spools and shears.
Oh, what a hum of cheeriness
And gayety, my dears.
The fiddlers fiddled valiantly,
Upon my heels and toes!
The King and Queen and court could never
Wear out all these clothes!
But pshaw—they will not have to, dears,
Wear all these suits and frocks.
These laceful, graceful bonnets,
Waistcoats, dress coats, bows and sox
Are given to his subjects by
The good Supposy King—
So they in proper spirits will
Enjoy the gladsome spring.
Each man and maid, each lad and lass,
Completely is outfitted.
No, not a single one of them’s
Forgotten or omitted.
“You wouldn’t ’spect a flower to
Dance lightly on its stem,
With half its petals withered and
The trees—just look at them!
“Decked out all new, the meadows, too.
Do you suppose they’d bring
With fallen leaves and faded grass
The message of the spring?
And people are the same, you know;
They need a gay renewing;
They need to dress for springtime as
The trees and flowers are doing!”
Thus spoke the dear Supposy King,
And he is right, and reasonable,
This springtime dressing isn’t pride
At all! It’s simply seasonable.
Pshaw! pshaw! just now a-thinking
Of that dear delicious place,
I’d love to hie me hither and
Leave neither sign nor trace!