Edited by Charles Aldarondo (email@example.com)
American Fairy Tales
By L. FRANK BAUM
FATHER GOOSE; HIS BOOK,
THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, ETC.
The BOX OF ROBBERS
No one intended to leave Martha alone that afternoon, but it happened that everyone was called away, for one reason or another. Mrs. McFarland was attending the weekly card party held by the Women’s Anti-Gambling League. Sister Nell’s young man had called quite unexpectedly to take her for a long drive. Papa was at the office, as usual. It was Mary Ann’s day out. As for Emeline, she certainly should have stayed in the house and looked after the little girl; but Emeline had a restless nature.
“Would you mind, miss, if I just crossed the alley to speak a word to Mrs. Carleton’s girl?” she asked Martha.
“‘Course not,” replied the child. “You’d better lock the back door, though, and take the key, for I shall be upstairs.”
“Oh, I’ll do that, of course, miss,” said the delighted maid, and ran away to spend the afternoon with her friend, leaving Martha quite alone in the big house, and locked in, into the bargain.
The little girl read a few pages in her new book, sewed a few stitches in her embroidery and started to “play visiting” with her four favorite dolls. Then she remembered that in the attic was a doll’s playhouse that hadn’t been used for months, so she decided she would dust it and put it in order.
Filled with this idea, the girl climbed the winding stairs to the big room under the roof. It was well lighted by three dormer windows and was warm and pleasant. Around the walls were rows of boxes and trunks, piles of old carpeting, pieces of damaged furniture, bundles of discarded clothing and other odds and ends of more or less value. Every well-regulated house has an attic of this sort, so I need not describe it.
The doll’s house had been moved, but after a search Martha found it away over in a corner near the big chimney.
She drew it out and noticed that behind it was a black wooden chest which Uncle Walter had sent over from Italy years and years ago–before Martha was born, in fact. Mamma had told her about it one day; how there was no key to it, because Uncle Walter wished it to remain unopened until he returned home; and how this wandering uncle, who was a mighty hunter, had gone into Africa to hunt elephants and had never been heard from afterwards.
The little girl looked at the chest curiously, now that it had by accident attracted her attention.
It was quite big–bigger even than mamma’s traveling trunk–and was studded all over with tarnished brassheaded nails. It was heavy, too, for when Martha tried to lift one end of it she found she could not stir it a bit. But there was a place in the side of the cover for a key. She stooped to examine the lock, and saw that it would take a rather big key to open it.
Then, as you may suspect, the little girl longed to open Uncle Walter’s big box and see what was in it. For we are all curious, and little girls are just as curious as the rest of us.
“I don’t b’lieve Uncle Walter’ll ever come back,” she thought. “Papa said once that some elephant must have killed him. If I only had a key–” She stopped and clapped her little hands together gayly as she remembered a big basket of keys on the shelf in the linen closet. They were of all sorts and sizes; perhaps one of them would unlock the mysterious chest!
She flew down the stairs, found the basket and returned with it to the attic. Then she sat down before the brass-studded box and began trying one key after another in the curious old lock. Some were too large, but most were too small. One would go into the lock but would not turn; another stuck so fast that she feared for a time that she would never get it out again. But at last, when the basket was almost empty, an oddly-shaped, ancient brass key slipped easily into the lock. With a cry of joy Martha turned the key with both hands; then she heard a sharp “click,” and the next moment the heavy lid flew up of its own accord!
The little girl leaned over the edge of the chest an instant, and the sight that met her eyes caused her to start back in amazement.
Slowly and carefully a man unpacked himself from the chest, stepped out upon the floor, stretched his limbs and then took off his hat and bowed politely to the astonished child.
He was tall and thin and his face seemed badly tanned or sunburnt.
Then another man emerged from the chest, yawning and rubbing his eyes like a sleepy schoolboy. He was of middle size and his skin seemed as badly tanned as that of the first.
While Martha stared open-mouthed at the remarkable sight a third man crawled from the chest. He had the same complexion as his fellows, but was short and fat.
All three were dressed in a curious manner. They wore short jackets of red velvet braided with gold, and knee breeches of sky-blue satin with silver buttons. Over their stockings were laced wide ribbons of red and yellow and blue, while their hats had broad brims with high, peaked crowns, from which fluttered yards of bright-colored ribbons.
They had big gold rings in their ears and rows of knives and pistols in their belts. Their eyes were black and glittering and they wore long, fierce mustaches, curling at the ends like a pig’s tail.
“My! but you were heavy,” exclaimed the fat one, when he had pulled down his velvet jacket and brushed the dust from his sky-blue breeches. “And you squeezed me all out of shape.”
“It was unavoidable, Luigi,” responded the thin man, lightly; “the lid of the chest pressed me down upon you. Yet I tender you my regrets.”
“As for me,” said the middle-sized man, carelessly rolling a cigarette and lighting it, “you must acknowledge I have been your nearest friend for years; so do not be disagreeable.”
“You mustn’t smoke in the attic,” said Martha, recovering herself at sight of the cigarette. “You might set the house on fire.”
The middle-sized man, who had not noticed her before, at this speech turned to the girl and bowed.
“Since a lady requests it,” said he, “I shall abandon my cigarette,” and he threw it on the floor and extinguished it with his foot.
“Who are you?” asked Martha, who until now had been too astonished to be frightened.
“Permit us to introduce ourselves,” said the thin man, flourishing his hat gracefully. “This is Lugui,” the fat man nodded; “and this is Beni,” the middle-sized man bowed; “and I am Victor. We are three bandits–Italian bandits.”
“Bandits!” cried Martha, with a look of horror.
“Exactly. Perhaps in all the world there are not three other bandits so terrible and fierce as ourselves,” said Victor, proudly.
“‘Tis so,” said the fat man, nodding gravely.
“But it’s wicked!” exclaimed Martha.
“Yes, indeed,” replied Victor. “We are extremely and tremendously wicked. Perhaps in all the world you could not find three men more wicked than those who now stand before you.”
“‘Tis so,” said the fat man, approvingly.
“But you shouldn’t be so wicked,” said the girl; “it’s–it’s–naughty!”
Victor cast down his eyes and blushed.
“Naughty!” gasped Beni, with a horrified look.
“‘Tis a hard word,” said Luigi, sadly, and buried his face in his hands.
“I little thought,” murmured Victor, in a voice broken by emotion, “ever to be so reviled–and by a lady! Yet, perhaps you spoke thoughtlessly. You must consider, miss, that our wickedness has an excuse. For how are we to be bandits, let me ask, unless we are wicked?”
Martha was puzzled and shook her head, thoughtfully. Then she remembered something.
“You can’t remain bandits any longer,” said she, “because you are now in America.”
“America!” cried the three, together.
“Certainly. You are on Prairie avenue, in Chicago. Uncle Walter sent you here from Italy in this chest.”
The bandits seemed greatly bewildered by this announcement. Lugui sat down on an old chair with a broken rocker and wiped his forehead with a yellow silk handkerchief. Beni and Victor fell back upon the chest and looked at her with pale faces and staring eyes.
When he had somewhat recovered himself Victor spoke.
“Your Uncle Walter has greatly wronged us,” he said, reproachfully. “He has taken us from our beloved Italy, where bandits are highly respected, and brought us to a strange country where we shall not know whom to rob or how much to ask for a ransom.”
“‘Tis so!” said the fat man, slapping his leg sharply.
“And we had won such fine reputations in Italy!” said Beni, regretfully.
“Perhaps Uncle Walter wanted to reform you,” suggested Martha.
“Are there, then, no bandits in Chicago?” asked Victor.
“Well,” replied the girl, blushing in her turn, “we do not call them bandits.”
“Then what shall we do for a living?” inquired Beni, despairingly.
“A great deal can be done in a big American city,” said the child. “My father is a lawyer” (the bandits shuddered), “and my mother’s cousin is a police inspector.”
“Ah,” said Victor, “that is a good employment. The police need to be inspected, especially in Italy.”
“Everywhere!” added Beni.
“Then you could do other things,” continued Martha, encouragingly. “You could be motor men on trolley cars, or clerks in a department store. Some people even become aldermen to earn a living.”
The bandits shook their heads sadly.
“We are not fitted for such work,” said Victor. “Our business is to rob.”
Martha tried to think.
“It is rather hard to get positions in the gas office,” she said, “but you might become politicians.”
“No!” cried Beni, with sudden fierceness; “we must not abandon our high calling. Bandits we have always been, and bandits we must remain!”
“‘Tis so!” agreed the fat man.
“Even in Chicago there must be people to rob,” remarked Victor, with cheerfulness.
Martha was distressed.
“I think they have all been robbed,” she objected.
“Then we can rob the robbers, for we have experience and talent beyond the ordinary,” said Beni.
“Oh, dear; oh, dear!” moaned the girl; “why did Uncle Walter ever send you here in this chest?”
The bandits became interested.
“That is what we should like to know,” declared Victor, eagerly.
“But no one will ever know, for Uncle Walter was lost while hunting elephants in Africa,” she continued, with conviction.
“Then we must accept our fate and rob to the best of our ability,” said Victor. “So long as we are faithful to our beloved profession we need not be ashamed.”
“‘Tis so!” cried the fat man.
“Brothers! we will begin now. Let us rob the house we are in.”
“Good!” shouted the others and sprang to their feet.
Beni turned threateningly upon the child.
“Remain here!” he commanded. “If you stir one step your blood will be on your own head!” Then he added, in a gentler voice: “Don’t be afraid; that’s the way all bandits talk to their captives. But of course we wouldn’t hurt a young lady under any circumstances.”
“Of course not,” said Victor.
The fat man drew a big knife from his belt and flourished it about his head.
“S’blood!” he ejaculated, fiercely.
“S’bananas!” cried Beni, in a terrible voice.
“Confusion to our foes!” hissed Victor.
And then the three bent themselves nearly double and crept stealthily down the stairway with cocked pistols in their hands and glittering knives between their teeth, leaving Martha trembling with fear and too horrified to even cry for help.
How long she remained alone in the attic she never knew, but finally she heard the catlike tread of the returning bandits and saw them coming up the stairs in single file.
All bore heavy loads of plunder in their arms, and Lugui was balancing a mince pie on the top of a pile of her mother’s best evening dresses. Victor came next with an armful of bric-a-brac, a brass candelabra and the parlor clock. Beni had the family Bible, the basket of silverware from the sideboard, a copper kettle and papa’s fur overcoat.
“Oh, joy!” said Victor, putting down his load; “it is pleasant to rob once more.”
“Oh, ecstacy!” said Beni; but he let the kettle drop on his toe and immediately began dancing around in anguish, while he muttered queer words in the Italian language.
“We have much wealth,” continued Victor, holding the mince pie while Lugui added his spoils to the heap; “and all from one house! This America must be a rich place.”
With a dagger he then cut himself a piece of the pie and handed the remainder to his comrades. Whereupon all three sat upon the floor and consumed the pie while Martha looked on sadly.
“We should have a cave,” remarked Beni; “for we must store our plunder in a safe place. Can you tell us of a secret cave?” he asked Martha.
“There’s a Mammoth cave,” she answered, “but it’s in Kentucky. You would be obliged to ride on the cars a long time to get there.”
The three bandits looked thoughtful and munched their pie silently, but the next moment they were startled by the ringing of the electric doorbell, which was heard plainly even in the remote attic.
“What’s that?” demanded Victor, in a hoarse voice, as the three scrambled to their feet with drawn daggers.
Martha ran to the window and saw it was only the postman, who had dropped a letter in the box and gone away again. But the incident gave her an idea of how to get rid of her troublesome bandits, so she began wringing her hands as if in great distress and cried out:
“It’s the police!”
The robbers looked at one another with genuine alarm, and Lugui asked, tremblingly:
“Are there many of them?”
“A hundred and twelve!” exclaimed Martha, after pretending to count them.
“Then we are lost!” declared Beni; “for we could never fight so many and live.”
“Are they armed?” inquired Victor, who was shivering as if cold.
“Oh, yes,” said she. “They have guns and swords and pistols and axes and–and–“
“And what?” demanded Lugui.
The three wicked ones groaned aloud and Beni said, in a hollow voice:
“I hope they will kill us quickly and not put us to the torture. I have been told these Americans are painted Indians, who are bloodthirsty and terrible.”
“‘Tis so!” gasped the fat man, with a shudder.
Suddenly Martha turned from the window.
“You are my friends, are you not?” she asked.
“We are devoted!” answered Victor.
“We adore you!” cried Beni.
“We would die for you!” added Lugui, thinking he was about to die anyway.
“Then I will save you,” said the girl.
“How?” asked the three, with one voice.
“Get back into the chest,” she said. “I will then close the lid, so they will be unable to find you.”
They looked around the room in a dazed and irresolute way, but she exclaimed:
“You must be quick! They will soon be here to arrest you.”
Then Lugui sprang into the chest and lay fat upon the bottom. Beni tumbled in next and packed himself in the back side. Victor followed after pausing to kiss her hand to the girl in a graceful manner.
Then Martha ran up to press down the lid, but could not make it catch.
“You must squeeze down,” she said to them.
“I am doing my best, miss,” said Victor, who was nearest the top; “but although we fitted in very nicely before, the chest now seems rather small for us.”
“‘Tis so!” came the muffled voice of the fat man from the bottom.
“I know what takes up the room,” said Beni.
“What?” inquired Victor, anxiously.
“The pie,” returned Beni.
“‘Tis so!” came from the bottom, in faint accents.
Then Martha sat upon the lid and pressed it down with all her weight. To her great delight the lock caught, and, springing down, she exerted all her strength and turned the key.
* * * * *
This story should teach us not to interfere in matters that do not concern us. For had Martha refrained from opening Uncle Walter’s mysterious chest she would not have been obliged to carry downstairs all the plunder the robbers had brought into the attic.
THE GLASS DOG.
An accomplished wizard once lived on the top floor of a tenement house and passed his time in thoughtful study and studious thought. What he didn’t know about wizardry was hardly worth knowing, for he possessed all the books and recipes of all the wizards who had lived before him; and, moreover, he had invented several wizardments himself.
This admirable person would have been completely happy but for the numerous interruptions to his studies caused by folk who came to consult him about their troubles (in which he was not interested), and by the loud knocks of the iceman, the milkman, the baker’s boy, the laundryman and the peanut woman. He never dealt with any of these people; but they rapped at his door every day to see him about this or that or to try to sell him their wares. Just when he was most deeply interested in his books or engaged in watching the bubbling of a cauldron there would come a knock at his door. And after sending the intruder away he always found he had lost his train of thought or ruined his compound.
At length these interruptions aroused his anger, and he decided he must have a dog to keep people away from his door. He didn’t know where to find a dog, but in the next room lived a poor glass-blower with whom he had a slight acquaintance; so he went into the man’s apartment and asked:
“Where can I find a dog?”
“What sort of a dog?” inquired the glass-blower.
“A good dog. One that will bark at people and drive them away. One that will be no trouble to keep and won’t expect to be fed. One that has no fleas and is neat in his habits. One that will obey me when I speak to him. In short, a good dog,” said the wizard.
“Such a dog is hard to find,” returned the glass-blower, who was busy making a blue glass flower pot with a pink glass rosebush in it, having green glass leaves and yellow glass roses.
The wizard watched him thoughtfully.
“Why cannot you blow me a dog out of glass?” he asked, presently.
“I can,” declared the glass-blower; “but it would not bark at people, you know.”
“Oh, I’ll fix that easily enough,” replied the other. “If I could not make a glass dog bark I would be a mighty poor wizard.”
“Very well; if you can use a glass dog I’ll be pleased to blow one for you. Only, you must pay for my work.”
“Certainly,” agreed the wizard. “But I have none of that horrid stuff you call money. You must take some of my wares in exchange.”
The glass-blower considered the matter for a moment.
“Could you give me something to cure my rheumatism?” he asked.
“Oh, yes; easily.”
“Then it’s a bargain. I’ll start the dog at once. What color of glass shall I use?”
“Pink is a pretty color,” said the wizard, “and it’s unusual for a dog, isn’t it?”
“Very,” answered the glass-blower; “but it shall be pink.”
So the wizard went back to his studies and the glass-blower began to make the dog.
Next morning he entered the wizard’s room with the glass dog under his arm and set it carefully upon the table. It was a beautiful pink in color, with a fine coat of spun glass, and about its neck was twisted a blue glass ribbon. Its eyes were specks of black glass and sparkled intelligently, as do many of the glass eyes worn by men.
The wizard expressed himself pleased with the glass-blower’s skill and at once handed him a small vial.
“This will cure your rheumatism,” he said.
“But the vial is empty!” protested the glass-blower.
“Oh, no; there is one drop of liquid in it,” was the wizard’s reply.
“Will one drop cure my rheumatism?” inquired the glass-blower, in wonder.
“Most certainly. That is a marvelous remedy. The one drop contained in the vial will cure instantly any kind of disease ever known to humanity. Therefore it is especially good for rheumatism. But guard it well, for it is the only drop of its kind in the world, and I’ve forgotten the recipe.”
“Thank you,” said the glass-blower, and went back to his room.
Then the wizard cast a wizzy spell and mumbled several very learned words in the wizardese language over the glass dog. Whereupon the little animal first wagged its tail from side to side, then winked his left eye knowingly, and at last began barking in a most frightful manner–that is, when you stop to consider the noise came from a pink glass dog. There is something almost astonishing in the magic arts of wizards; unless, of course, you know how to do the things yourself, when you are not expected to be surprised at them.
The wizard was as delighted as a school teacher at the success of his spell, although he was not astonished. Immediately he placed the dog outside his door, where it would bark at anyone who dared knock and so disturb the studies of its master.
The glass-blower, on returning to his room, decided not to use the one drop of wizard cure-all just then.
“My rheumatism is better to-day,” he reflected, “and I will be wise to save the medicine for a time when I am very ill, when it will be of more service to me.”
So he placed the vial in his cupboard and went to work blowing more roses out of glass. Presently he happened to think the medicine might not keep, so he started to ask the wizard about it. But when he reached the door the glass dog barked so fiercely that he dared not knock, and returned in great haste to his own room. Indeed, the poor man was quite upset at so unfriendly a reception from the dog he had himself so carefully and skillfully made.
The next morning, as he read his newspaper, he noticed an article stating that the beautiful Miss Mydas, the richest young lady in town, was very ill, and the doctors had given up hope of her recovery.
The glass-blower, although miserably poor, hard-working and homely of feature, was a man of ideas. He suddenly recollected his precious medicine, and determined to use it to better advantage than relieving his own ills. He dressed himself in his best clothes, brushed his hair and combed his whiskers, washed his hands and tied his necktie, blackened his hoes and sponged his vest, and then put the vial of magic cure-all in his pocket. Next he locked his door, went downstairs and walked through the streets to the grand mansion where the wealthy Miss Mydas resided.
The butler opened the door and said:
“No soap, no chromos, no vegetables, no hair oil, no books, no baking powder. My young lady is dying and we’re well supplied for the funeral.”
The glass-blower was grieved at being taken for a peddler.
“My friend,” he began, proudly; but the butler interrupted him, saying:
“No tombstones, either; there’s a family graveyard and the monument’s built.”
“The graveyard won’t be needed if you will permit me to speak,” said the glass-blower.
“No doctors, sir; they’ve given up my young lady, and she’s given up the doctors,” continued the butler, calmly.
“I’m no doctor,” returned the glass-blower.
“Nor are the others. But what is your errand?”
“I called to cure your young lady by means of a magical compound.”
“Step in, please, and take a seat in the hall. I’ll speak to the housekeeper,” said the butler, more politely.
So he spoke to the housekeeper and the housekeeper mentioned the matter to the steward and the steward consulted the chef and the chef kissed the lady’s maid and sent her to see the stranger. Thus are the very wealthy hedged around with ceremony, even when dying.
When the lady’s maid heard from the glass-blower that he had a medicine which would cure her mistress, she said:
“I’m glad you came.”
“But,” said he, “if I restore your mistress to health she must marry me.”
“I’ll make inquiries and see if she’s willing,” answered the maid, and went at once to consult Miss Mydas.
The young lady did not hesitate an instant.
“I’d marry any old thing rather than die!” she cried. “Bring him here at once!”
So the glass-blower came, poured the magic drop into a little water, gave it to the patient, and the next minute Miss Mydas was as well as she had ever been in her life.
“Dear me!” she exclaimed; “I’ve an engagement at the Fritters’ reception to-night. Bring my pearl-colored silk, Marie, and I will begin my toilet at once. And don’t forget to cancel the order for the funeral flowers and your mourning gown.”
“But, Miss Mydas,” remonstrated the glass-blower, who stood by, “you promised to marry me if I cured you.”
“I know,” said the young lady, “but we must have time to make proper announcement in the society papers and have the wedding cards engraved. Call to-morrow and we’ll talk it over.”
The glass-blower had not impressed her favorably as a husband, and she was glad to find an excuse for getting rid of him for a time. And she did not want to miss the Fritters’ reception.
Yet the man went home filled with joy; for he thought his stratagem had succeeded and he was about to marry a rich wife who would keep him in luxury forever afterward.
The first thing he did on reaching his room was to smash his glass-blowing tools and throw them out of the window.
He then sat down to figure out ways of spending his wife’s money.
The following day he called upon Miss Mydas, who was reading a novel and eating chocolate creams as happily as if she had never been ill in her life.
“Where did you get the magic compound that cured me?” she asked.
“From a learned wizard,” said he; and then, thinking it would interest her, he told how he had made the glass dog for the wizard, and how it barked and kept everybody from bothering him.
“How delightful!” she said. “I’ve always wanted a glass dog that could bark.”
“But there is only one in the world,” he answered, “and it belongs to the wizard.”
“You must buy it for me,” said the lady.
“The wizard cares nothing for money,” replied the glass-blower.
“Then you must steal it for me,” she retorted. “I can never live happily another day unless I have a glass dog that can bark.”
The glass-blower was much distressed at this, but said he would see what he could do. For a man should always try to please his wife, and Miss Mydas has promised to marry him within a week.
On his way home he purchased a heavy sack, and when he passed the wizard’s door and the pink glass dog ran out to bark at him he threw the sack over the dog, tied the opening with a piece of twine, and carried him away to his own room.
The next day he sent the sack by a messenger boy to Miss Mydas, with his compliments, and later in the afternoon he called upon her in person, feeling quite sure he would be received with gratitude for stealing the dog she so greatly desired.
But when he came to the door and the butler opened it, what was his amazement to see the glass dog rush out and begin barking at him furiously.
“Call off your dog,” he shouted, in terror.
“I can’t, sir,” answered the butler. “My young lady has ordered the glass dog to bark whenever you call here. You’d better look out, sir,” he added, “for if it bites you, you may have glassophobia!”
This so frightened the poor glass-blower that he went away hurriedly. But he stopped at a drug store and put his last dime in the telephone box so he could talk to Miss Mydas without being bitten by the dog.
“Give me Pelf 6742!” he called.
“Hello! What is it?” said a voice.
“I want to speak with Miss Mydas,” said the glass-blower.
Presently a sweet voice said: “This is Miss Mydas. What is it?”
“Why have you treated me so cruelly and set the glass dog on me?” asked the poor fellow.
“Well, to tell the truth,” said the lady, “I don’t like your looks. Your cheeks are pale and baggy, your hair is coarse and long, your eyes are small and red, your hands are big and rough, and you are bow-legged.”
“But I can’t help my looks!” pleaded the glass-blower; “and you really promised to marry me.”
“If you were better looking I’d keep my promise,” she returned. “But under the circumstances you are no fit mate for me, and unless you keep away from my mansion I shall set my glass dog on you!” Then she dropped the ‘phone and would have nothing more to say.
The miserable glass-blower went home with a heart bursting with disappointment and began tying a rope to the bedpost by which to hang himself.
Some one knocked at the door, and, upon opening it, he saw the wizard.
“I’ve lost my dog,” he announced.
“Have you, indeed?” replied the glass-blower tying a knot in the rope.
“Yes; some one has stolen him.”
“That’s too bad,” declared the glass-blower, indifferently.
“You must make me another,” said the wizard.
“But I cannot; I’ve thrown away my tools.”
“Then what shall I do?” asked the wizard.
“I do not know, unless you offer a reward for the dog.”
“But I have no money,” said the wizard.
“Offer some of your compounds, then,” suggested the glass-blower, who was making a noose in the rope for his head to go through.
“The only thing I can spare,” replied the wizard, thoughtfully, “is a Beauty Powder.”
“What!” cried the glass-blower, throwing down the rope, “have you really such a thing?”
“Yes, indeed. Whoever takes the powder will become the most beautiful person in the world.”
“If you will offer that as a reward,” said the glass-blower, eagerly, “I’ll try to find the dog for you, for above everything else I long to be beautiful.”
“But I warn you the beauty will only be skin deep,” said the wizard.
“That’s all right,” replied the happy glass-blower; “when I lose my skin I shan’t care to remain beautiful.”
“Then tell me where to find my dog and you shall have the powder,” promised the wizard.
So the glass-blower went out and pretended to search, and by-and-by he returned and said:
“I’ve discovered the dog. You will find him in the mansion of Miss Mydas.”
The wizard went at once to see if this were true, and, sure enough, the glass dog ran out and began barking at him. Then the wizard spread out his hands and chanted a magic spell which sent the dog fast asleep, when he picked him up and carried him to his own room on the top floor of the tenement house.
Afterward he carried the Beauty Powder to the glass-blower as a reward, and the fellow immediately swallowed it and became the most beautiful man in the world.
The next time he called upon Miss Mydas there was no dog to bark at him, and when the young lady saw him she fell in love with his beauty at once.
“If only you were a count or a prince,” she sighed, “I’d willingly marry you.”
“But I am a prince,” he answered; “the Prince of Dogblowers.”
“Ah!” said she; “then if you are willing to accept an allowance of four dollars a week I’ll order the wedding cards engraved.”
The man hesitated, but when he thought of the rope hanging from his bedpost he consented to the terms.
So they were married, and the bride was very jealous of her husband’s beauty and led him a dog’s life. So he managed to get into debt and made her miserable in turn.
* * * * *
As for the glass dog, the wizard set him barking again by means of his wizardness and put him outside his door. I suppose he is there yet, and am rather sorry, for I should like to consult the wizard about the moral to this story.
THE QUEEN OF QUOK
A king once died, as kings are apt to do, being as liable to shortness of breath as other mortals.
It was high time this king abandoned his earth life, for he had lived in a sadly extravagant manner, and his subjects could spare him without the slightest inconvenience.
His father had left him a full treasury, both money and jewels being in abundance. But the foolish king just deceased had squandered every penny in riotous living. He had then taxed his subjects until most of them became paupers, and this money vanished in more riotous living. Next he sold all the grand old furniture in the palace; all the silver and gold plate and bric-a-brac; all the rich carpets and furnishings and even his own kingly wardrobe, reserving only a soiled and moth-eaten ermine robe to fold over his threadbare raiment. And he spent the money in further riotous living.
Don’t ask me to explain what riotous living is. I only know, from hearsay, that it is an excellent way to get rid of money. And so this spendthrift king found it.
He now picked all the magnificent jewels from this kingly crown and from the round ball on the top of his scepter, and sold them and spent the money. Riotous living, of course. But at last he was at the end of his resources. He couldn’t sell the crown itself, because no one but the king had the right to wear it. Neither could he sell the royal palace, because only the king had the right to live there.
So, finally, he found himself reduced to a bare palace, containing only a big mahogany bedstead that he slept in, a small stool on which he sat to pull off his shoes and the moth-eaten ermine robe.
In this straight he was reduced to the necessity of borrowing an occasional dime from his chief counselor, with which to buy a ham sandwich. And the chief counselor hadn’t many dimes. One who counseled his king so foolishly was likely to ruin his own prospects as well.
So the king, having nothing more to live for, died suddenly and left a ten-year-old son to inherit the dismantled kingdom, the moth-eaten robe and the jewel-stripped crown.
No one envied the child, who had scarcely been thought of until he became king himself. Then he was recognized as a personage of some importance, and the politicians and hangers-on, headed by the chief counselor of the kingdom, held a meeting to determine what could be done for him.
These folk had helped the old king to live riotously while his money lasted, and now they were poor and too proud to work. So they tried to think of a plan that would bring more money into the little king’s treasury, where it would be handy for them to help themselves.
After the meeting was over the chief counselor came to the young king, who was playing peg-top in the courtyard, and said:
“Your majesty, we have thought of a way to restore your kingdom to its former power and magnificence.”
“All right,” replied his majesty, carelessly. “How will you do it?”
“By marrying you to a lady of great wealth,” replied the counselor.
“Marrying me!” cried the king. “Why, I am only ten years old!”
“I know; it is to be regretted. But your majesty will grow older, and the affairs of the kingdom demand that you marry a wife.”
“Can’t I marry a mother, instead?” asked the poor little king, who had lost his mother when a baby.
“Certainly not,” declared the counselor. “To marry a mother would be illegal; to marry a wife is right and proper.”
“Can’t you marry her yourself?” inquired his majesty, aiming his peg-top at the chief counselor’s toe, and laughing to see how he jumped to escape it.
“Let me explain,” said the other. “You haven’t a penny in the world, but you have a kingdom. There are many rich women who would be glad to give their wealth in exchange for a queen’s coronet–even if the king is but a child. So we have decided to advertise that the one who bids the highest shall become the queen of Quok.”
“If I must marry at all,” said the king, after a moment’s thought, “I prefer to marry Nyana, the armorer’s daughter.”
“She is too poor,” replied the counselor.
“Her teeth are pearls, her eyes are amethysts, and her hair is gold,” declared the little king.
“True, your majesty. But consider that your wife’s wealth must be used. How would Nyana look after you have pulled her teeth of pearls, plucked out her amethyst eyes and shaved her golden head?”
The boy shuddered.
“Have your own way,” he said, despairingly. “Only let the lady be as dainty as possible and a good playfellow.”
“We shall do our best,” returned the chief counselor, and went away to advertise throughout the neighboring kingdoms for a wife for the boy king of Quok.
There were so many applicants for the privilege of marrying the little king that it was decided to put him up at auction, in order that the largest possible sum of money should be brought into the kingdom. So, on the day appointed, the ladies gathered at the palace from all the surrounding kingdoms–from Bilkon, Mulgravia, Junkum and even as far away as the republic of Macvelt.
The chief counselor came to the palace early in the morning and had the king’s face washed and his hair combed; and then he padded the inside of the crown with old newspapers to make it small enough to fit his majesty’s head. It was a sorry looking crown, having many big and little holes in it where the jewels had once been; and it had been neglected and knocked around until it was quite battered and tarnished. Yet, as the counselor said, it was the king’s crown, and it was quite proper he should wear it on the solemn occasion of his auction.
Like all boys, be they kings or paupers, his majesty had torn and soiled his one suit of clothes, so that they were hardly presentable; and there was no money to buy new ones. Therefore the counselor wound the old ermine robe around the king and sat him upon the stool in the middle of the otherwise empty audience chamber.
And around him stood all the courtiers and politicians and hangers-on of the kingdom, consisting of such people as were too proud or lazy to work for a living. There was a great number of them, you may be sure, and they made an imposing appearance.
Then the doors of the audience chamber were thrown open, and the wealthy ladies who aspired to being queen of Quok came trooping in. The king looked them over with much anxiety, and decided they were each and all old enough to be his grandmother, and ugly enough to scare away the crows from the royal cornfields. After which he lost interest in them.
But the rich ladies never looked at the poor little king squatting upon his stool. They gathered at once about the chief counselor, who acted as auctioneer.
“How much am I offered for the coronet of the queen of Quok?” asked the counselor, in a loud voice.
“Where is the coronet?” inquired a fussy old lady who had just buried her ninth husband and was worth several millions.
“There isn’t any coronet at present,” explained the chief counselor, “but whoever bids highest will have the right to wear one, and she can then buy it.”
“Oh,” said the fussy old lady, “I see.” Then she added: “I’ll bid fourteen dollars.”
“Fourteen thousand dollars!” cried a sour-looking woman who was thin and tall and had wrinkles all over her skin–“like a frosted apple,” the king thought.
The bidding now became fast and furious, and the poverty-stricken courtiers brightened up as the sum began to mount into the millions.
“He’ll bring us a very pretty fortune, after all,” whispered one to his comrade, “and then we shall have the pleasure of helping him spend it.”
The king began to be anxious. All the women who looked at all kind-hearted or pleasant had stopped bidding for lack of money, and the slender old dame with the wrinkles seemed determined to get the coronet at any price, and with it the boy husband. This ancient creature finally became so excited that her wig got crosswise of her head and her false teeth kept slipping out, which horrified the little king greatly; but she would not give up.
At last the chief counselor ended the auction by crying out:
“Sold to Mary Ann Brodjinsky de la Porkus for three million, nine hundred thousand, six hundred and twenty-four dollars and sixteen cents!” And the sour-looking old woman paid the money in cash and on the spot, which proves this is a fairy story.
The king was so disturbed at the thought that he must marry this hideous creature that he began to wail and weep; whereupon the woman boxed his ears soundly. But the counselor reproved her for punishing her future husband in public, saying:
“You are not married yet. Wait until to-morrow, after the wedding takes place. Then you can abuse him as much as you wish. But at present we prefer to have people think this is a love match.”
The poor king slept but little that night, so filled was he with terror of his future wife. Nor could he get the idea out of his head that he preferred to marry the armorer’s daughter, who was about his own age. He tossed and tumbled around upon his hard bed until the moonlight came in at the window and lay like a great white sheet upon the bare floor. Finally, in turning over for the hundredth time, his hand struck against a secret spring in the headboard of the big mahogany bedstead, and at once, with a sharp click, a panel flew open.
The noise caused the king to look up, and, seeing the open panel, he stood upon tiptoe, and, reaching within, drew out a folded paper. It had several leaves fastened together like a book, and upon the first page was written:
“When the king is in trouble
This leaf he must double
And set it on fire
To obtain his desire.”
This was not very good poetry, but when the king had spelled it out in the moonlight he was filled with joy.
“There’s no doubt about my being in trouble,” he exclaimed; “so I’ll burn it at once, and see what happens.”
He tore off the leaf and put the rest of the book in its secret hiding place. Then, folding the paper double, he placed it on the top of his stool, lighted a match and set fire to it.
It made a horrid smudge for so small a paper, and the king sat on the edge of the bed and watched it eagerly.
When the smoke cleared away he was surprised to see, sitting upon the stool, a round little man, who, with folded arms and crossed legs, sat calmly facing the king and smoking a black briarwood pipe.
“Well, here I am,” said he.
“So I see,” replied the little king. “But how did you get here?”
“Didn’t you burn the paper?” demanded the round man, by way of answer.
“Yes, I did,” acknowledged the king.
“Then you are in trouble, and I’ve come to help you out of it. I’m the Slave of the Royal Bedstead.”
“Oh!” said the king. “I didn’t know there was one.”
“Neither did your father, or he would not have been so foolish as to sell everything he had for money. By the way, it’s lucky for you he did not sell this bedstead. Now, then, what do you want?”
“I’m not sure what I want,” replied the king; “but I know what I don’t want, and that is the old woman who is going to marry me.”
“That’s easy enough,” said the Slave of the Royal Bedstead. “All you need do is to return her the money she paid the chief counselor and declare the match off. Don’t be afraid. You are the king, and your word is law.”
“To be sure,” said the majesty. “But I am in great need of money. How am I going to live if the chief counselor returns to Mary Ann Brodjinski her millions?”
“Phoo! that’s easy enough,” again answered the man, and, putting his hand in his pocket, he drew out and tossed to the king an old-fashioned leather purse. “Keep that with you,” said he, “and you will always be rich, for you can take out of the purse as many twenty-five-cent silver pieces as you wish, one at a time. No matter how often you take one out, another will instantly appear in its place within the purse.”
“Thank you,” said the king, gratefully. “You have rendered me a rare favor; for now I shall have money for all my needs and will not be obliged to marry anyone. Thank you a thousand times!”
“Don’t mention it,” answered the other, puffing his pipe slowly and watching the smoke curl into the moonlight. “Such things are easy to me. Is that all you want?”
“All I can think of just now,” returned the king.
“Then, please close that secret panel in the bedstead,” said the man; “the other leaves of the book may be of use to you some time.”
The boy stood upon the bed as before and, reaching up, closed the opening so that no one else could discover it. Then he turned to face his visitor, but the Slave of the Royal Bedstead had disappeared.
“I expected that,” said his majesty; “yet I am sorry he did not wait to say good-by.”
With a lightened heart and a sense of great relief the boy king placed the leathern purse underneath his pillow, and climbing into bed again slept soundly until morning.
When the sun rose his majesty rose also, refreshed and comforted, and the first thing he did was to send for the chief counselor.
That mighty personage arrived looking glum and unhappy, but the boy was too full of his own good fortune to notice it. Said he:
“I have decided not to marry anyone, for I have just come into a fortune of my own. Therefore I command you return to that old woman the money she has paid you for the right to wear the coronet of the queen of Quok. And make public declaration that the wedding will not take place.”
Hearing this the counselor began to tremble, for he saw the young king had decided to reign in earnest; and he looked so guilty that his majesty inquired:
“Well! what is the matter now?”
“Sire,” replied the wretch, in a shaking voice, “I cannot return the woman her money, for I have lost it!”
“Lost it!” cried the king, in mingled astonishment and anger.
“Even so, your majesty. On my way home from the auction last night I stopped at the drug store to get some potash lozenges for my throat, which was dry and hoarse with so much loud talking; and your majesty will admit it was through my efforts the woman was induced to pay so great a price. Well, going into the drug store I carelessly left the package of money lying on the seat of my carriage, and when I came out again it was gone. Nor was the thief anywhere to be seen.”
“Did you call the police?” asked the king.
“Yes, I called; but they were all on the next block, and although they have promised to search for the robber I have little hope they will ever find him.”
The king sighed.
“What shall we do now?” he asked.
“I fear you must marry Mary Ann Brodjinski,” answered the chief counselor; “unless, indeed, you order the executioner to cut her head off.”
“That would be wrong,” declared the king. “The woman must not be harmed. And it is just that we return her money, for I will not marry her under any circumstances.”
“Is that private fortune you mentioned large enough to repay her?” asked the counselor.
“Why, yes,” said the king, thoughtfully, “but it will take some time to do it, and that shall be your task. Call the woman here.”
The counselor went in search of Mary Ann, who, when she heard she was not to become a queen, but would receive her money back, flew into a violent passion and boxed the chief counselor’s ears so viciously that they stung for nearly an hour. But she followed him into the king’s audience chamber, where she demanded her money in a loud voice, claiming as well the interest due upon it over night.
“The counselor has lost your money,” said the boy king, “but he shall pay you every penny out of my own private purse. I fear, however, you will be obliged to take it in small change.”
“That will not matter,” she said, scowling upon the counselor as if she longed to reach his ears again; “I don’t care how small the change is so long as I get every penny that belongs to me, and the interest. Where is it?”
“Here,” answered the king, handing the counselor the leathern purse. “It is all in silver quarters, and they must be taken from the purse one at a time; but there will be plenty to pay your demands, and to spare.”
So, there being no chairs, the counselor sat down upon the floor in one corner and began counting out silver twenty-five-cent pieces from the purse, one by one. And the old woman sat upon the floor opposite him and took each piece of money from his hand.
It was a large sum: three million, nine hundred thousand, six hundred and twenty-four dollars and sixteen cents. And it takes four times as many twenty-five-cent pieces as it would dollars to make up the amount.
The king left them sitting there and went to school, and often thereafter he came to the counselor and interrupted him long enough to get from the purse what money he needed to reign in a proper and dignified manner. This somewhat delayed the counting, but as it was a long job, anyway, that did not matter much.
The king grew to manhood and married the pretty daughter of the armorer, and they now have two lovely children of their own. Once in awhile they go into the big audience chamber of the palace and let the little ones watch the aged, hoary-headed counselor count out silver twenty-five-cent pieces to a withered old woman, who watched his every movement to see that he does not cheat her.
It is a big sum, three million, nine hundred thousand, six hundred and twenty-four dollars and sixteen cents in twenty-five-cent pieces.
But this is how the counselor was punished for being so careless with the woman’s money. And this is how Mary Ann Brodjinski de la Porkus was also punished for wishing to marry a ten-year-old king in order that she might wear the coronet of the queen of Quok.
THE GIRL WHO OWNED A BEAR
Mamma had gone down-town to shop. She had asked Nora to look after Jane Gladys, and Nora promised she would. But it was her afternoon for polishing the silver, so she stayed in the pantry and left Jane Gladys to amuse herself alone in the big sitting-room upstairs.
The little girl did not mind being alone, for she was working on her first piece of embroidery–a sofa pillow for papa’s birthday present. So she crept into the big bay window and curled herself up on the broad sill while she bent her brown head over her work.
Soon the door opened and closed again, quietly. Jane Gladys thought it was Nora, so she didn’t look up until she had taken a couple more stitches on a forget-me-not. Then she raised her eyes and was astonished to find a strange man in the middle of the room, who regarded her earnestly.
He was short and fat, and seemed to be breathing heavily from his climb up the stairs. He held a work silk hat in one hand and underneath his other elbow was tucked a good-sized book. He was dressed in a black suit that looked old and rather shabby, and his head was bald upon the top.
“Excuse me,” he said, while the child gazed at him in solemn surprise. “Are you Jane Gladys Brown?”
“Yes, sir,” she answered.
“Very good; very good, indeed!” he remarked, with a queer sort of smile. “I’ve had quite a hunt to find you, but I’ve succeeded at last.”
“How did you get in?” inquired Jane Gladys, with a growing distrust of her visitor.
“That is a secret,” he said, mysteriously.
This was enough to put the girl on her guard. She looked at the man and the man looked at her, and both looks were grave and somewhat anxious.
“What do you want?” she asked, straightening herself up with a dignified air.
“Ah!–now we are coming to business,” said the man, briskly. “I’m going to be quite frank with you. To begin with, your father has abused me in a most ungentlemanly manner.”
Jane Gladys got off the window sill and pointed her small finger at the door.
“Leave this room ‘meejitly!” she cried, her voice trembling with indignation. “My papa is the best man in the world. He never ‘bused anybody!”
“Allow me to explain, please,” said the visitor, without paying any attention to her request to go away. “Your father may be very kind to you, for you are his little girl, you know. But when he’s down-town in his office he’s inclined to be rather severe, especially on book agents. Now, I called on him the other day and asked him to buy the ‘Complete Works of Peter Smith,’ and what do you suppose he did?”
She said nothing.
“Why,” continued the man, with growing excitement, “he ordered me from his office, and had me put out of the building by the janitor! What do you think of such treatment as that from the ‘best papa in the world,’ eh?”
“I think he was quite right,” said Jane Gladys.
“Oh, you do? Well,” said the man, “I resolved to be revenged for the insult. So, as your father is big and strong and a dangerous man, I have decided to be revenged upon his little girl.”
Jane Gladys shivered.
“What are you going to do?” she asked.
“I’m going to present you with this book,” he answered, taking it from under his arm. Then he sat down on the edge of a chair, placed his hat on the rug and drew a fountain pen from his vest pocket.
“I’ll write your name in it,” said he. “How do you spell Gladys?”
“G-l-a-d-y-s,” she replied.
“Thank you. Now this,” he continued, rising and handing her the book with a bow, “is my revenge for your father’s treatment of me. Perhaps he’ll be sorry he didn’t buy the ‘Complete Works of Peter Smith.’ Good-by, my dear.”
He walked to the door, gave her another bow, and left the room, and Jane Gladys could see that he was laughing to himself as if very much amused.
When the door had closed behind the queer little man the child sat down in the window again and glanced at the book. It had a red and yellow cover and the word “Thingamajigs” was across the front in big letters.
Then she opened it, curiously, and saw her name written in black letters upon the first white leaf.
“He was a funny little man,” she said to herself, thoughtfully.
She turned the next leaf, and saw a big picture of a clown, dressed in green and red and yellow, and having a very white face with three-cornered spots of red on each cheek and over the eyes. While she looked at this the book trembled in her hands, the leaf crackled and creaked and suddenly the clown jumped out of it and stood upon the floor beside her, becoming instantly as big as any ordinary clown.
After stretching his arms and legs and yawning in a rather impolite manner, he gave a silly chuckle and said:
“This is better! You don’t know how cramped one gets, standing so long upon a page of flat paper.”
Perhaps you can imagine how startled Jane Gladys was, and how she stared at the clown who had just leaped out of the book.
“You didn’t expect anything of this sort, did you?” he asked, leering at her in clown fashion. Then he turned around to take a look at the room and Jane Gladys laughed in spite of her astonishment.
“What amuses you?” demanded the clown.
“Why, the back of you is all white!” cried the girl. “You’re only a clown in front of you.”
“Quite likely,” he returned, in an annoyed tone. “The artist made a front view of me. He wasn’t expected to make the back of me, for that was against the page of the book.”
“But it makes you look so funny!” said Jane Gladys, laughing until her eyes were moist with tears.
The clown looked sulky and sat down upon a chair so she couldn’t see his back.
“I’m not the only thing in the book,” he remarked, crossly.
This reminded her to turn another page, and she had scarcely noted that it contained the picture of a monkey when the animal sprang from the book with a great crumpling of paper and landed upon the window seat beside her.
“He-he-he-he-he!” chattered the creature, springing to the girl’s shoulder and then to the center table. “This is great fun! Now I can be a real monkey instead of a picture of one.”
“Real monkeys can’t talk,” said Jane Gladys, reprovingly.
“How do you know? Have you ever been one yourself?” inquired the animal; and then he laughed loudly, and the clown laughed, too, as if he enjoyed the remark.
The girl was quite bewildered by this time. She thoughtlessly turned another leaf, and before she had time to look twice a gray donkey leaped from the book and stumbled from the window seat to the floor with a great clatter.
“You’re clumsy enough, I’m sure!” said the child, indignantly, for the beast had nearly upset her.
“Clumsy! And why not?” demanded the donkey, with angry voice. “If the fool artist had drawn you out of perspective, as he did me, I guess you’d be clumsy yourself.”
“What’s wrong with you?” asked Jane Gladys.
“My front and rear legs on the left side are nearly six inches too short, that’s what’s the matter! If that artist didn’t know how to draw properly why did he try to make a donkey at all?”
“I don’t know,” replied the child, seeing an answer was expected.
“I can hardly stand up,” grumbled the donkey; “and the least little thing will topple me over.”
“Don’t mind that,” said the monkey, making a spring at the chandelier and swinging from it by his tail until Jane Gladys feared he would knock all the globes off; “the same artist has made my ears as big as that clown’s and everyone knows a monkey hasn’t any ears to speak of–much less to draw.”
“He should be prosecuted,” remarked the clown, gloomily. “I haven’t any back.”
Jane Gladys looked from one to the other with a puzzled expression upon her sweet face, and turned another page of the book.
Swift as a flash there sprang over her shoulder a tawney, spotted leopard, which landed upon the back of a big leather armchair and turned upon the others with a fierce movement.
The monkey climbed to the top of the chandelier and chattered with fright. The donkey tried to run and straightway tipped over on his left side. The clown grew paler than ever, but he sat still in his chair and gave a low whistle of surprise.
The leopard crouched upon the back of the chair, lashed his tail from side to side and glared at all of them, by turns, including Jane Gladys.
“Which of us are you going to attack first?” asked the donkey, trying hard to get upon his feet again.
“I can’t attack any of you,” snarled the leopard. “The artist made my mouth shut, so I haven’t any teeth; and he forgot to make my claws. But I’m a frightful looking creature, nevertheless; am I not?”
“Oh, yes;” said the clown, indifferently. “I suppose you’re frightful looking enough. But if you have no teeth nor claws we don’t mind your looks at all.”
This so annoyed the leopard that he growled horribly, and the monkey laughed at him.
Just then the book slipped from the girl’s lap, and as she made a movement to catch it one of the pages near the back opened wide. She caught a glimpse of a fierce grizzly bear looking at her from the page, and quickly threw the book from her. It fell with a crash in the middle of the room, but beside it stood the great grizzly, who had wrenched himself from the page before the book closed.
“Now,” cried the leopard from his perch, “you’d better look out for yourselves! You can’t laugh at him as you did at me. The bear has both claws and teeth.”
“Indeed I have,” said the bear, in a low, deep, growling voice. “And I know how to use them, too. If you read in that book you’ll find I’m described as a horrible, cruel and remorseless grizzly, whose only business in life is to eat up little girls–shoes, dresses, ribbons and all! And then, the author says, I smack my lips and glory in my wickedness.”
“That’s awful!” said the donkey, sitting upon his haunches and shaking his head sadly. “What do you suppose possessed the author to make you so hungry for girls? Do you eat animals, also?”
“The author does not mention my eating anything but little girls,” replied the bear.
“Very good,” remarked the clown, drawing a long breath of relief. “you may begin eating Jane Gladys as soon as you wish. She laughed because I had no back.”
“And she laughed because my legs are out of perspective,” brayed the donkey.
“But you also deserve to be eaten,” screamed the leopard from the back of the leather chair; “for you laughed and poked fun at me because I had no claws nor teeth! Don’t you suppose Mr. Grizzly, you could manage to eat a clown, a donkey and a monkey after you finish the girl?”
“Perhaps so, and a leopard into the bargain,” growled the bear. “It will depend on how hungry I am. But I must begin on the little girl first, because the author says I prefer girls to anything.”
Jane Gladys was much frightened on hearing this conversation, and she began to realize what the man meant when he said he gave her the book to be revenged. Surely papa would be sorry he hadn’t bought the “Complete Works of Peter Smith” when he came home and found his little girl eaten up by a grizzly bear–shoes, dress, ribbons and all!
The bear stood up and balanced himself on his rear legs.
“This is the way I look in the book,” he said. “Now watch me eat the little girl.”
He advanced slowly toward Jane Gladys, and the monkey, the leopard, the donkey and the clown all stood around in a circle and watched the bear with much interest.
But before the grizzly reached her the child had a sudden thought, and cried out:
“Stop! You mustn’t eat me. It would be wrong.”
“Why?” asked the bear, in surprise.
“Because I own you. You’re my private property,” she answered.
“I don’t see how you make that out,” said the bear, in a disappointed tone.
“Why, the book was given to me; my name’s on the front leaf. And you belong, by rights, in the book. So you mustn’t dare to eat your owner!”
The Grizzly hesitated.
“Can any of you read?” he asked.
“I can,” said the clown.
“Then see if she speaks the truth. Is her name really in the book?”
The clown picked it up and looked at the name.
“It is,” said he. “‘Jane Gladys Brown;’ and written quite plainly in big letters.”
The bear sighed.
“Then, of course, I can’t eat her,” he decided. “That author is as disappointing as most authors are.”
“But he’s not as bad as the artist,” exclaimed the donkey, who was still trying to stand up straight.
“The fault lies with yourselves,” said Jane Gladys, severely. “Why didn’t you stay in the book, where you were put?”
The animals looked at each other in a foolish way, and the clown blushed under his white paint.
“Really–” began the bear, and then he stopped short.
The door bell rang loudly.
“It’s mamma!” cried Jane Gladys, springing to her feet. “She’s come home at last. Now, you stupid creatures–“
But she was interrupted by them all making a rush for the book. There was a swish and a whirr and a rustling of leaves, and an instant later the book lay upon the floor looking just like any other book, while Jane Gladys’ strange companions had all disappeared.
* * * * *
This story should teach us to think quickly and clearly upon all occasions; for had Jane Gladys not remembered that she owned the bear he probably would have eaten her before the bell rang.
THE ENCHANTED TYPES
One time a knook became tired of his beautiful life and longed for something new to do. The knooks have more wonderful powers than any other immortal folk–except, perhaps, the fairies and ryls. So one would suppose that a knook who might gain anything he desired by a simple wish could not be otherwise than happy and contented. But such was not the case with Popopo, the knook we are speaking of. He had lived thousands of years, and had enjoyed all the wonders he could think of. Yet life had become as tedious to him now as it might be to one who was unable to gratify a single wish.
Finally, by chance, Popopo thought of the earth people who dwell in cities, and so he resolved to visit them and see how they lived. This would surely be fine amusement, and serve to pass away many wearisome hours.
Therefore one morning, after a breakfast so dainty that you could scarcely imagine it, Popopo set out for the earth and at once was in the midst of a big city.
His own dwelling was so quiet and peaceful that the roaring noise of the town startled him. His nerves were so shocked that before he had looked around three minutes he decided to give up the adventure, and instantly returned home.
This satisfied for a time his desire to visit the earth cities, but soon the monotony of his existence again made him restless and gave him another thought. At night the people slept and the cities would be quiet. He would visit them at night.
So at the proper time Popopo transported himself in a jiffy to a great city, where he began wandering about the streets. Everyone was in bed. No wagons rattled along the pavements; no throngs of busy men shouted and halloaed. Even the policemen slumbered slyly and there happened to be no prowling thieves abroad.
His nerves being soothed by the stillness, Popopo began to enjoy himself. He entered many of the houses and examined their rooms with much curiosity. Locks and bolts made no difference to a knook, and he saw as well in darkness as in daylight.
After a time he strolled into the business portion of the city. Stores are unknown among the immortals, who have no need of money or of barter and exchange; so Popopo was greatly interested by the novel sight of so many collections of goods and merchandise.
During his wanderings he entered a millinery shop, and was surprised to see within a large glass case a great number of women’s hats, each bearing in one position or another a stuffed bird. Indeed, some of the most elaborate hats had two or three birds upon them.
Now knooks are the especial guardians of birds, and love them dearly. To see so many of his little friends shut up in a glass case annoyed and grieved Popopo, who had no idea they had purposely been placed upon the hats by the milliner. So he slid back one of the doors of the case, gave the little chirruping whistle of the knooks that all birds know well, and called:
“Come, friends; the door is open–fly out!”
Popopo did not know the birds were stuffed; but, stuffed or not, every bird is bound to obey a knook’s whistle and a knook’s call. So they left the hats, flew out of the case and began fluttering about the room.
“Poor dears!” said the kind-hearted knook, “you long to be in the fields and forests again.”
Then he opened the outer door for them and cried: “Off with you! Fly away, my beauties, and be happy again.”
The astonished birds at once obeyed, and when they had soared away into the night air the knook closed the door and continued his wandering through the streets.
By dawn he saw many interesting sights, but day broke before he had finished the city, and he resolved to come the next evening a few hours earlier.
As soon as it was dark the following day he came again to the city and on passing the millinery shop noticed a light within. Entering he found two women, one of whom leaned her head upon the table and sobbed bitterly, while the other strove to comfort her.
Of course Popopo was invisible to mortal eyes, so he stood by and listened to their conversation.
“Cheer up, sister,” said one. “Even though your pretty birds have all been stolen the hats themselves remain.”
“Alas!” cried the other, who was the milliner, “no one will buy my hats partly trimmed, for the fashion is to wear birds upon them. And if I cannot sell my goods I shall be utterly ruined.”
Then she renewed her sobbing and the knook stole away, feeling a little ashamed to realized that in his love for the birds he had unconsciously wronged one of the earth people and made her unhappy.
This thought brought him back to the millinery shop later in the night, when the two women had gone home. He wanted, in some way, to replace the birds upon the hats, that the poor woman might be happy again. So he searched until he came upon a nearby cellar full of little gray mice, who lived quite undisturbed and gained a livelihood by gnawing through the walls into neighboring houses and stealing food from the pantries.
“Here are just the creatures,” thought Popopo, “to place upon the woman’s hats. Their fur is almost as soft as the plumage of the birds, and it strikes me the mice are remarkably pretty and graceful animals. Moreover, they now pass their lives in stealing, and were they obliged to remain always upon women’s hats their morals would be much improved.”
So he exercised a charm that drew all the mice from the cellar and placed them upon the hats in the glass case, where they occupied the places the birds had vacated and looked very becoming–at least, in the eyes of the unworldly knook. To prevent their running about and leaving the hats Popopo rendered them motionless, and then he was so pleased with his work that he decided to remain in the shop and witness the delight of the milliner when she saw how daintily her hats were now trimmed.
She came in the early morning, accompanied by her sister, and her face wore a sad and resigned expression. After sweeping and dusting the shop and drawing the blinds she opened the glass case and took out a hat.
But when she saw a tiny gray mouse nestling among the ribbons and laces she gave a loud shriek, and, dropping the hat, sprang with one bound to the top of the table. The sister, knowing the shriek to be one of fear, leaped upon a chair and exclaimed:
“What is it? Oh! what is it?”
“A mouse!” gasped the milliner, trembling with terror.
Popopo, seeing this commotion, now realized that mice are especially disagreeable to human beings, and that he had made a grave mistake in placing them upon the hats; so he gave a low whistle of command that was heard only by the mice.
Instantly they all jumpped from the hats, dashed out the open door of the glass case and scampered away to their cellar. But this action so frightened the milliner and her sister that after giving several loud screams they fell upon their backs on the floor and fainted away.
Popopo was a kind-hearted knook, but on witnessing all this misery, caused by his own ignorance of the ways of humans, he straightway wished himself at home, and so left the poor women to recover as best they could.
Yet he could not escape a sad feeling of responsibility, and after thinking upon the matter he decided that since he had caused the milliner’s unhappiness by freeing the birds, he could set the matter right by restoring them to the glass case. He loved the birds, and disliked to condemn them to slavery again; but that seemed the only way to end the trouble.
So he set off to find the birds. They had flown a long distance, but it was nothing to Popopo to reach them in a second, and he discovered them sitting upon the branches of a big chestnut tree and singing gayly.
When they saw the knook the birds cried:
“Thank you, Popopo. Thank you for setting us free.”
“Do not thank me,” returned the knook, “for I have come to send you back to the millinery shop.”
“Why?” demanded a blue jay, angrily, while the others stopped their songs.
“Because I find the woman considers you her property, and your loss has caused her much unhappiness,” answered Popopo.
“But remember how unhappy we were in her glass case,” said a robin redbreast, gravely. “And as for being her property, you are a knook, and the natural guardian of all birds; so you know that Nature created us free. To be sure, wicked men shot and stuffed us, and sold us to the milliner; but the idea of our being her property is nonsense!”
Popopo was puzzled.
“If I leave you free,” he said, “wicked men will shoot you again, and you will be no better off than before.”
“Pooh!” exclaimed the blue jay, “we cannot be shot now, for we are stuffed. Indeed, two men fired several shots at us this morning, but the bullets only ruffled our feathers and buried themselves in our stuffing. We do not fear men now.”
“Listen!” said Popopo, sternly, for he felt the birds were getting the best of the argument; “the poor milliner’s business will be ruined if I do not return you to her shop. It seems you are necessary to trim the hats properly. It is the fashion for women to wear birds upon their headgear. So the poor milliner’s wares, although beautified by lace and ribbons, are worthless unless you are perched upon them.”
“Fashions,” said a black bird, solemnly, “are made by men. What law is there, among birds or knooks, that requires us to be the slaves of fashion?”
“What have we to do with fashions, anyway?” screamed a linnet. “If it were the fashion to wear knooks perched upon women’s hats would you be contented to stay there? Answer me, Popopo!”
But Popopo was in despair. He could not wrong the birds by sending them back to the milliner, nor did he wish the milliner to suffer by their loss. So he went home to think what could be done.
After much meditation he decided to consult the king of the knooks, and going at once to his majesty he told him the whole story.
The king frowned.
“This should teach you the folly of interfering with earth people,” he said. “But since you have caused all this trouble, it is your duty to remedy it. Our birds cannot be enslaved, that is certain; therefore you must have the fashions changed, so it will no longer be stylish for women to wear birds upon their hats.”
“How shall I do that?” asked Popopo.
“Easily enough. Fashions often change among the earth people, who tire quickly of any one thing. When they read in their newspapers and magazines that the style is so-and-so, they never question the matter, but at once obey the mandate of fashion. So you must visit the newspapers and magazines and enchant the types.”
“Enchant the types!” echoed Popopo, in wonder.
“Just so. Make them read that it is no longer the fashion to wear birds upon hats. That will afford relief to your poor milliner and at the same time set free thousands of our darling birds who have been so cruelly used.”
Popopo thanked the wise king and followed his advice.
The office of every newspaper and magazine in the city was visited by the knook, and then he went to other cities, until there was not a publication in the land that had not a “new fashion note” in its pages. Sometimes Popopo enchanted the types, so that whoever read the print would see only what the knook wished them to. Sometimes he called upon the busy editors and befuddled their brains until they wrote exactly what he wanted them to. Mortals seldom know how greatly they are influenced by fairies, knooks and ryls, who often put thoughts into their heads that only the wise little immortals could have conceived.
The following morning when the poor milliner looked over her newspaper she was overjoyed to read that “no woman could now wear a bird upon her hat and be in style, for the newest fashion required only ribbons and laces.”
Popopo after this found much enjoyment in visiting every millinery shop he could find and giving new life to the stuffed birds which were carelessly tossed aside as useless. And they flew to the fields and forests with songs of thanks to the good knook who had rescued them.
Sometimes a hunter fires his gun at a bird and then wonders why he did not hit it. But, having read this story, you will understand that the bird must have been a stuffed one from some millinery shop, which cannot, of course, be killed by a gun.
THE LAUGHING HIPPOPOTAMUS
On one of the upper branches of the Congo river lived an ancient and aristocratic family of hippopotamuses, which boasted a pedigree dating back beyond the days of Noah–beyond the existence of mankind–far into the dim ages when the world was new.
They had always lived upon the banks of this same river, so that every curve and sweep of its waters, every pit and shallow of its bed, every rock and stump and wallow upon its bank was as familiar to them as their own mothers. And they are living there yet, I suppose.
Not long ago the queen of this tribe of hippopotamuses had a child which she named Keo, because it was so fat and round. Still, that you may not be misled, I will say that in the hippopotamus language “Keo,” properly translated, means “fat and lazy” instead of fat and round. However, no one called the queen’s attention to this error, because her tusks were monstrous long and sharp, and she thought Keo the sweetest baby in the world.
He was, indeed, all right for a hippopotamus. He rolled and played in the soft mud of the river bank, and waddled inland to nibble the leaves of the wild cabbage that grew there, and was happy and contented from morning till night. And he was the jolliest hippopotamus that ancient family had ever known. His little red eyes were forever twinkling with fun, and he laughed his merry laugh on all occasions, whether there was anything to laugh at or not.
Therefore the black people who dwelt in that region called him “Ippi”–the jolly one, although they dared not come anigh him on account of his fierce mother, and his equally fierce uncles and aunts and cousins, who lived in a vast colony upon the river bank.
And while these black people, who lived in little villages scattered among the trees, dared not openly attack the royal family of hippopotamuses, they were amazingly fond of eating hippopotamus meat whenever they could get it. This was no secret to the hippopotamuses. And, again, when the blacks managed to catch these animals alive, they had a trick of riding them through the jungles as if they were horses, thus reducing them to a condition of slavery.
Therefore, having these things in mind, whenever the tribe of hippopotamuses smelled the oily odor of black people they were accustomed to charge upon them furiously, and if by chance they overtook one of the enemy they would rip him with their sharp tusks or stamp him into the earth with their huge feet.
It was continual warfare between the hippopotamuses and the black people.
Gouie lived in one of the little villages of the blacks. He was the son of the chief’s brother and grandson of the village sorcerer, the latter being an aged man known as the “the boneless wonder,” because he could twist himself into as many coils as a serpent and had no bones to hinder his bending his flesh into any position. This made him walk in a wabbly fashion, but the black people had great respect for him.
Gouie’s hut was made of branches of trees stuck together with mud, and his clothing consisted of a grass mat tied around his middle. But his relationship to the chief and the sorcerer gave him a certain dignity, and he was much addicted to solitary thought. Perhaps it was natural that these thoughts frequently turned upon his enemies, the hippopotamuses, and that he should consider many ways of capturing them.
Finally he completed his plans, and set about digging a great pit in the ground, midway between two sharp curves of the river. When the pit was finished he covered it over with small branches of trees, and strewed earth upon them, smoothing the surface so artfully that no one would suspect there was a big hole underneath. Then Gouie laughed softly to himself and went home to supper.
That evening the queen said to Keo, who was growing to be a fine child for his age:
“I wish you’d run across the bend and ask your Uncle Nikki to come here. I have found a strange plant, and want him to tell me if it is good to eat.”
The jolly one laughed heartily as he started upon his errand, for he felt as important as a boy does when he is sent for the first time to the corner grocery to buy a yeast cake.
“Guk-uk-uk-uk! guk-uk-uk-uk!” was the way he laughed; and if you think a hippopotamus does not laugh this way you have but to listen to one and you will find I am right.
He crawled out of the mud where he was wallowing and tramped away through the bushes, and the last his mother heard as she lay half in and half out of the water was his musical “guk-uk-uk-uk!” dying away in the distance.
Keo was in such a happy mood that he scarcely noticed where he stepped, so he was much surprised when, in the middle of a laugh, the ground gave way beneath him, and he fell to the bottom of Gouie’s deep pit. He was not badly hurt, but had bumped his nose severely as he went down; so he stopped laughing and began to think how he should get out again. Then he found the walls were higher than his head, and that he was a prisoner.
So he laughed a little at his own misfortune, and the laughter soothed him to sleep, so that he snored all through the night until