Sunday, April 2, 2023


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

Published in the Houston (TX) Post, September 12, 1915.

Uncle Abner had gone hunting. Oliver Elephant and Tommy Tapir had begged and begged, but “You’re too small—why, you wouldn’t have sense to run if Shaggy Lion charged—or a Two Leg. No, I will not take you with me and that’s all there is to it!” Uncle Abner had said. “Run! I guess not! I don’t know just exactly what I WOULD do, but I would NOT run,” Oliver had said indignantly, but Uncle Abner would not relent.

There had been reports in the Jungle Ledger that the Two Legs were seen near the jungle, but Uncle Abner did not worry himself about that. After a journey of about two days, in the early evening, while he was taking a fine roll in some soft, oozy mud, the most horrifying noises broke out and torches and dancing brown bodies seemed to almost surround him. “The Two Legs,” thought Uncle Abner Elephant. “NOW is the time to run away!” and turning he plunged in the only direction that was free from the noise and lights.

On and on he ran through the forest until bang!—BUMP—his head went crashing into a solid wall of logs. Madly he tore around the inclosure searching for an opening, but the wily black men had closed the huge gate and Uncle Abner was fairly trapped.

Once again that dreadful night the gate was opened and a small elephant came crashing into the stockade, and Uncle Abner, quiet by that time, walking over to sympathize with the newcomer, found Oliver Elephant crying as if his heart would break. “You—t—t—told me to run—and I DID. And now how in the jungle world are we going to get out?” “Never mind, Oliver Elephant, we’ll—!” began Uncle Abner, but Oliver Elephant almost shrieked, “Don’t talk to me—I want to THINK!” And he thought and thought and thought, waving his big ears and swaying from side to side. In the very early morning he crept over to Uncle Abner and unfolded a plan to him.

So it happened that when the mahouts came in the morning they found two very tame elephants in the stockade, who allowed the chain to be put on their feet without any resistance and who tried in every elephant way to make them understand that they wished to be friends. “The largest and the smallest, but the tamest we have ever caught,” the men said to each other.

A week went by uneventfully and then the looked-for day came to Oliver and Uncle Abner. The chain was unfastened and, together with the tame elephants, they were led down to the river for a bath, a mahout on the head of each elephant. Lazily Uncle Abner swam out, with Oliver Elephant close behind him. Playfully they filled their trunks with water and gave their mahout a shower bath, and then, watching their opportunity, each elephant ducked suddenly and, turning, grasped the black men and threw them far toward the land—and before the rest of the party knew what to do they were climbing up the opposite bank and tearing through the jungle as fast as only an elephant can.

By running evenly and not stopping for either food or rest, they reached home in the early morning of the following day, where Mother and Father Elephant, who had given them up for lost, wept for joy and gave them lovely fresh hay to eat and were so happy to see them again that they did not even scold Oliver for running away with Uncle Abner.

“Just the same,” said Oliver Elephant, when he was telling Tommy Tapir about it, “I learned one thing. NEVER run from a thing you are afraid of. One of the tame elephants told me that if we had charged the men instead of running just the way they wanted us to we would have upset all their plans and scared them so we would have gotten safely away. No more running for me. I’d rather face the music.”

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 14, 1918

Supposyville’s Boys and Girls

Supposyville is quite unlike
The countries that we know of.
It must be a delicious place
To play and stay and grow, love!

They think of boys and girls in that
Quaint kingdom as they should.
No wonder that they’re merry and
So very, VERY good.

The King has glanced through all the books
And rules and regulations
On raising children practiced in
The foremost Christian nations.

And he and Solomon Tremendous
Wise were sadly shaken
To find a great majority
Of theories quite mistaken.

“Why, boys and girls are like the birds
And flowers. Lots of sun
And love and air and happiness
And just old-fashioned fun

“Is what they need. Too many rules,
Too many don’ts and can’ts
Will chill the lads and lassies
Like the winter frosts the plants.

“Our treasures are our children,
And I want them understood;
And here our plans will be to make
It easy to be good!”

Thus saying did the good King many
A jolly scheme devise.
Assisted by the keen old head
Of Solomon Tremendous Wise.

And first of all they changed the motto
Which so many tears
Relentlessly have drawn and sent
Cascading down the years!

You will remember it, I’m sure.
’Tis, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.”
Upon the so few law books of
Supposyville in manner mild,

With all the stings withdrawn it reads
Thus: “Spare the child and spoil the rod,”
And no one finds it any ways
Remarkable or queer or odd.

They haven’t any dismal signs—
No “Get off of the grasses,”
“Beware of Watchdogs” and “The law
Will deal with all trespasses!”

And what is more, they never whip
Small boys for going swimming.
“’Tis just an instinct to be clean
And spirits overbrimming,”

The King declared, and fixed the pools
With diving boards and slides, dears,
And gave them unexpected swimming
Holidays besides, dear.

That’s why I said some fifty lines
Or maybe more ago
It is the most delicious and
Delightful place I know.
Copyright © 2023 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.