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´╗┐Title: Rootabaga Stories
Author: Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Rootabaga Stories" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



file was made using scans of public domain material from
the Children's Books Online - Rosetta Project)



[Illustration: The balloons floated and filled the sky]

                              ROOTABAGA
                               STORIES

                                 BY
                            CARL SANDBURG


           Author of "Slabs of the Sunburnt West," "Smoke
             and Steel," "Chicago Poems," "Cornhuskers"


                    ILLUSTRATIONS AND DECORATIONS
                                 BY
                      MAUD AND MISKA PETERSHAM


                           [Illustration]

                              NEW YORK
                     HARCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANY


----------------------------------------------------------------------


                         COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY
                  HARCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANY, INC.


                     PRINTED IN THE U. S. A. BY
                      THE QUINN & BODEN COMPANY
                             RAHWAY, N J


----------------------------------------------------------------------


                                 TO
                         SPINK AND SKABOOTCH


----------------------------------------------------------------------


                              CONTENTS

                                   1.

   Three Stories About the Finding of the Zigzag Railroad,
       the Pigs with Bibs On, the Circus Clown Ovens,
       the Village of Liver-and-Onions, the
       Village of Cream Puffs.

   How They Broke Away to Go to the Rootabaga Country               3

   How They Bring Back the Village of Cream Puffs When the
   Wind Blows It Away                                              19

   How the Five Rusty Rats Helped Find a New Village               29


                                   2.

   Five Stories About the Potato Face Blind Man

   The Potato Face Blind Man Who Lost the Diamond Rabbit on
   His Gold Accordion                                              41

   How the Potato Face Blind Man Enjoyed Himself on a Fine
   Spring Morning                                                  45

   Poker Face the Baboon and Hot Dog the Tiger                     53

   The Toboggan-to-the-Moon Dream of the Potato Face Blind
   Man                                                             59

   How Gimme the Ax Found Out About
   the Zigzag Railroad and
   Who Made It Zigzag                                              65


                                   3.

   Three Stories About the Gold Buckskin Whincher

   The Story of Blixie Bimber and the Power
   of the Gold
   Buckskin Whincher                                               73

   The Story of Jason Squiff and Why He Had a Popcorn Hat,
   Popcorn Mittens and Popcorn Shoes                               79

   The Story of Rags Habakuk, the Two Blue Rats, and the Circus
   Man Who Came with Spot Cash Money                               89


                                   4.

   Four Stories About the Deep Doom of Dark Doorways

   The Wedding Procession of the Rag Doll and the Broom Handle
   and Who Was in It                                               99

   How the Hat Ashes Shovel Helped Snoo Foo                       105

   Three Boys With Jugs of Molasses and Secret Ambitions          109

   How Bimbo the Snip's Thumb Stuck to His Nose When the
   Wind Changed                                                   123


                                   5.

   Three Stories About Three Ways the Wind Went Winding

   The Two Skyscrapers Who Decided to Have a Child                133

   The Dollar Watch and the Five Jack Rabbits                     141

   The Wooden Indian and the Shaghorn Buffalo                     151


                                   6.

   Four Stories About Dear, Dear Eyes

   The White Horse Girl and the Blue Wind Boy                     159

   What Six Girls with Balloons Told the Gray Man on
   Horseback                                                      167

   How Henry Hagglyhoagly Played the Guitar with His Mittens
   On                                                             175


                                   7.

   One Story--"Only the Fire-Born Understand Blue"

   Never Kick a Slipper at the Moon                               185

   Sand Flat Shadows                                              191


                                   8.

   Two Stories About Corn Fairies, Blue Foxes, Flongboos
       and Happenings That Happened in the United States
       and Canada

   How to Tell Corn Fairies If You See 'Em                        205

   How the Animals Lost Their Tails and Got Them Back
   Traveling From Philadelphia to Medicine Hat                    213


----------------------------------------------------------------------


                       FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                                   PAGE

The balloons floated and filled the sky                    Frontispiece

He opened the ragbag and took out all the spot cash money             7

Then the uncles asked her the first question first                   21

They held on to the long curved tails of the rusty rats              33

"I am sure many people will stop and remember the
Potato Face Blind Man"                                               47

His hat was popcorn, his mittens popcorn and his
shoes popcorn                                                        83

They stepped into the molasses with their bare feet                 113

The monkey took the place of the traffic policeman                  129

So they stood looking                                               153

It seemed to him as though the sky came down close
to his nose                                                         177

Away off where the sun was coming up, there were
people and animals                                                  195

There on a high stool in a high tower, on a high hill
sits the Head Spotter of the Weather Makers                         215


----------------------------------------------------------------------


1. Three Stories About the Finding
   of the Zigzag Railroad, the Pigs
   with Bibs On, the Circus Clown
   Ovens, the Village of Liver-and-Onions,
   the Village of Cream
   Puffs.

          _People_: Gimme the Ax
                    Please Gimme
                    Ax Me No Questions
                    The Ticket Agent
                    Wing Tip the Spick
                    The Four Uncles
                    The Rat in a Blizzard
                    The Five Rusty Rats

          _More People_:
                    Balloon Pickers
                    Baked Clowns
                    Polka Dot Pigs


                            [Illustration]

                   How They Broke Away to Go to the
                          Rootabaga Country


Gimme the Ax lived in a house where everything is the same as it
always was.

"The chimney sits on top of the house and lets the smoke out," said
Gimme the Ax. "The doorknobs open the doors. The windows are always
either open or shut. We are always either upstairs or downstairs in
this house. Everything is the same as it always was."

So he decided to let his children name themselves.

"The first words they speak as soon as they learn to make words shall
be their names," he said. "They shall name themselves."

When the first boy came to the house of Gimme the Ax, he was named
Please Gimme. When the first girl came she was named Ax Me No
Questions.

And both of the children had the shadows of valleys by night in their
eyes and the lights of early morning, when the sun is coming up, on
their foreheads.

And the hair on top of their heads was a dark wild grass. And they
loved to turn the doorknobs, open the doors, and run out to have the
wind comb their hair and touch their eyes and put its six soft fingers
on their foreheads.

And then because no more boys came and no more girls came, Gimme the
Ax said to himself, "My first boy is my last and my last girl is my
first and they picked their names themselves."

Please Gimme grew up and his ears got longer. Ax Me No Questions grew
up and her ears got longer. And they kept on living in the house where
everything is the same as it always was. They learned to say just as
their father said, "The chimney sits on top of the house and lets the
smoke out, the doorknobs open the doors, the windows are always either
open or shut, we are always either upstairs or downstairs--everything
is the same as it always was."

After a while they began asking each other in the cool of the evening
after they had eggs for breakfast in the morning, "Who's who? How
much? And what's the answer?"

"It is too much to be too long anywhere," said the tough old man,
Gimme the Ax.

And Please Gimme and Ax Me No Questions, the tough son and the tough
daughter of Gimme the Ax, answered their father, "It _is_ too much to
be too long anywhere."

So they sold everything they had, pigs, pastures, pepper pickers,
pitchforks, everything except their ragbags and a few extras.

When their neighbors saw them selling everything they had, the
different neighbors said, "They are going to Kansas, to Kokomo, to
Canada, to Kankakee, to Kalamazoo, to Kamchatka, to the Chattahoochee."

One little sniffer with his eyes half shut and a mitten on his nose,
laughed in his hat five ways and said, "They are going to the moon and
when they get there they will find everything is the same as it always
was."

All the spot cash money he got for selling everything, pigs, pastures,
pepper pickers, pitchforks, Gimme the Ax put in a ragbag and slung on
his back like a rag picker going home.

Then he took Please Gimme, his oldest and youngest and only son, and
Ax Me No Questions, his oldest and youngest and only daughter, and
went to the railroad station.

The ticket agent was sitting at the window selling railroad tickets
the same as always.

[Illustration: He opened the ragbag and took out all the spot cash money]

"Do you wish a ticket to go away and come back or do you wish a ticket
to go away and _never_ come back?" the ticket agent asked wiping sleep
out of his eyes.

"We wish a ticket to ride where the railroad tracks run off into the
sky and never come back--send us far as the railroad rails go and then
forty ways farther yet," was the reply of Gimme the Ax.

"So far? So early? So soon?" asked the ticket agent wiping more sleep
out his eyes. "Then I will give you a new ticket. It blew in. It is a
long slick yellow leather slab ticket with a blue spanch across it."

Gimme the Ax thanked the ticket agent once, thanked the ticket agent
twice, and then instead of thanking the ticket agent three times he
opened the ragbag and took out all the spot cash money he got for
selling everything, pigs, pastures, pepper pickers, pitchforks, and
paid the spot cash money to the ticket agent.

Before he put it in his pocket he looked once, twice, three times at
the long yellow leather slab ticket with a blue spanch across it.

Then with Please Gimme and Ax Me No Questions he got on the railroad
train, showed the conductor his ticket and they started to ride to
where the railroad tracks run off into the blue sky and then forty
ways farther yet.

The train ran on and on. It came to the place where the railroad
tracks run off into the blue sky. And it ran on and on chick
chick-a-chick chick-a-chick chick-a-chick.

Sometimes the engineer hooted and tooted the whistle. Sometimes the
fireman rang the bell. Sometimes the open-and-shut of the steam hog's
nose choked and spit pfisty-pfoost, pfisty-pfoost, pfisty-pfoost. But
no matter what happened to the whistle and the bell and the steam hog,
the train ran on and on to where the railroad tracks run off into the
blue sky. And then it ran on and on more and more.

Sometimes Gimme the Ax looked in his pocket, put his fingers in and
took out the long slick yellow leather slab ticket with a blue spanch
across it.

"Not even the Kings of Egypt with all their climbing camels, and all
their speedy, spotted, lucky lizards, ever had a ride like this," he
said to his children.

Then something happened. They met another train running on the same
track. One train was going one way. The other was going the other way.
They met. They passed each other.

"What was it--what happened?" the children asked their father.

"One train went over, the other train went under," he answered. "This
is the Over and Under country. Nobody gets out of the way of anybody
else. They either go over or under."

Next they came to the country of the balloon pickers. Hanging down
from the sky strung on strings so fine the eye could not see them at
first, was the balloon crop of that summer. The sky was thick with
balloons. Red, blue, yellow balloons, white, purple and orange
balloons--peach, watermelon and potato balloons--rye loaf and wheat
loaf balloons--link sausage and pork chop balloons--they floated and
filled the sky.

The balloon pickers were walking on high stilts picking balloons. Each
picker had his own stilts, long or short. For picking balloons near
the ground he had short stilts. If he wanted to pick far and high he
walked on a far and high pair of stilts.

Baby pickers on baby stilts were picking baby balloons. When they fell
off the stilts the handful of balloons they were holding kept them in
the air till they got their feet into the stilts again.

"Who is that away up there in the sky climbing like a bird in the
morning?" Ax Me No Questions asked her father.

"He was singing too happy," replied the father. "The songs came out of
his neck and made him so light the balloons pulled him off his
stilts."

"Will he ever come down again back to his own people?"

"Yes, his heart will get heavy when his songs are all gone. Then he
will drop down to his stilts again."

The train was running on and on. The engineer hooted and tooted the
whistle when he felt like it. The fireman rang the bell when he felt
that way. And sometimes the open-and-shut of the steam hog had to go
pfisty-pfoost, pfisty-pfoost.

"Next is the country where the circus clowns come from," said Gimme
the Ax to his son and daughter. "Keep your eyes open."

They did keep their eyes open. They saw cities with ovens, long and
short ovens, fat stubby ovens, lean lank ovens, all for baking either
long or short clowns, or fat and stubby or lean and lank clowns.

After each clown was baked in the oven it was taken out into the
sunshine and put up to stand like a big white doll with a red mouth
leaning against the fence.

Two men came along to each baked clown standing still like a doll. One
man threw a bucket of white fire over it. The second man pumped a wind
pump with a living red wind through the red mouth.

The clown rubbed his eyes, opened his mouth, twisted his neck, wiggled
his ears, wriggled his toes, jumped away from the fence and began
turning handsprings, cartwheels, somersaults and flipflops in the
sawdust ring near the fence.

"The next we come to is the Rootabaga Country where the big city is
the Village of Liver-and-Onions," said Gimme the Ax, looking again in
his pocket to be sure he had the long slick yellow leather slab ticket
with a blue spanch across it.

The train ran on and on till it stopped running straight and began
running in zigzags like one letter Z put next to another Z and the
next and the next.

The tracks and the rails and the ties and the spikes under the train
all stopped being straight and changed to zigzags like one letter Z
and another letter Z put next after the other.

"It seems like we go half way and then back up," said Ax Me No
Questions.

"Look out of the window and see if the pigs have bibs on," said Gimme
the Ax. "If the pigs are wearing bibs then this is the Rootabaga
country."

And they looked out of the zigzagging windows of the zigzagging cars
and the first pigs they saw had bibs on. And the next pigs and the
next pigs they saw all had bibs on.

The checker pigs had checker bibs on, the striped pigs had striped
bibs on. And the polka dot pigs had polka dot bibs on.

"Who fixes it for the pigs to have bibs on?" Please Gimme asked his
father.

"The fathers and mothers fix it," answered Gimme the Ax. "The checker
pigs have checker fathers and mothers. The striped pigs have striped
fathers and mothers. And the polka dot pigs have polka dot fathers and
mothers."

And the train went zigzagging on and on running on the tracks and the
rails and the spikes and the ties which were all zigzag like the
letter Z and the letter Z.

And after a while the train zigzagged on into the Village of
Liver-and-Onions, known as the biggest city in the big, big Rootabaga
country.

And so if you are going to the Rootabaga country you will know when
you get there because the railroad tracks change from straight to
zigzag, the pigs have bibs on and it is the fathers and mothers who
fix it.

And if you start to go to that country remember first you must sell
everything you have, pigs, pastures, pepper pickers, pitchforks, put
the spot cash money in a ragbag and go to the railroad station and ask
the ticket agent for a long slick yellow leather slab ticket with a
blue spanch across it.

And you mustn't be surprised if the ticket agent wipes sleep from his
eyes and asks, "So far? So early? So soon?"

[Illustration]


                            [Illustration]

                  How They Bring Back the Village of
                   Cream Puffs When the Wind Blows
                               It Away


A girl named Wing Tip the Spick came to the Village of Liver-and-Onions
to visit her uncle and her uncle's uncle on her mother's side and her
uncle and her uncle's uncle on her father's side.

It was the first time the four uncles had a chance to see their little
relation, their niece. Each one of the four uncles was proud of the
blue eyes of Wing Tip the Spick.

The two uncles on her mother's side took a long deep look into her
blue eyes and said, "Her eyes are so blue, such a clear light blue,
they are the same as cornflowers with blue raindrops shining and
dancing on silver leaves after a sun shower in any of the summer
months."

And the two uncles on her father's side, after taking a long deep look
into the eyes of Wing Tip the Spick, said, "Her eyes are so blue, such
a clear light shining blue, they are the same as cornflowers with blue
raindrops shining and dancing on the silver leaves after a sun shower
in any of the summer months."

And though Wing Tip the Spick didn't listen and didn't hear what the
uncles said about her blue eyes, she did say to herself when they were
not listening, "I know these are sweet uncles and I am going to have a
sweet time visiting my relations."

The four uncles said to her, "Will you let us ask you two questions,
first the first question and second the second question?"

[Illustration: Then the uncles asked her the first question first]

"I will let you ask me fifty questions this morning, fifty questions
to-morrow morning, and fifty questions any morning. I like to listen
to questions. They slip in one ear and slip out of the other."

Then the uncles asked her the first question first, "Where do you come
from?" and the second question second, "Why do you have two freckles
on your chin?"

"Answering your first question first," said Wing Tip the Spick, "I
come from the Village of Cream Puffs, a little light village on the
upland corn prairie. From a long ways off it looks like a little hat
you could wear on the end of your thumb to keep the rain off your
thumb."

"Tell us more," said one uncle. "Tell us much," said another uncle.
"Tell it without stopping," added another uncle. "Interruptions nix
nix," murmured the last of the uncles.

"It is a light little village on the upland corn prairie many miles
past the sunset in the west," went on Wing Tip the Spick. "It is light
the same as a cream puff is light. It sits all by itself on the big
long prairie where the prairie goes up in a slope. There on the slope
the winds play around the village. They sing it wind songs, summer
wind songs in summer, winter wind songs in winter."

"And sometimes like an accident, the wind gets rough. And when the
wind gets rough it picks up the little Village of Cream Puffs and
blows it away off in the sky--all by itself."

"O-o-h-h," said one uncle. "Um-m-m-m," said the other three uncles.

"Now the people in the village all understand the winds with their
wind songs in summer and winter. And they understand the rough wind
who comes sometimes and picks up the village and blows it away off
high in the sky all by itself.

"If you go to the public square in the middle of the village you will
see a big roundhouse. If you take the top off the roundhouse you will
see a big spool with a long string winding up around the spool.

"Now whenever the rough wind comes and picks up the village and blows
it away off high in the sky all by itself then the string winds loose
of the spool, because the village is fastened to the string. So the
rough wind blows and blows and the string on the spool winds looser
and looser the farther the village goes blowing away off into the sky
all by itself.

"Then at last when the rough wind, so forgetful, so careless, has had
all the fun it wants, then the people of the village all come together
and begin to wind up the spool and bring back the village where it was
before."

"O-o-h-h," said one uncle. "Um-m-m-m," said the other three uncles.

"And sometimes when you come to the village to see your little
relation, your niece who has four such sweet uncles, maybe she will
lead you through the middle of the city to the public square and show
you the roundhouse. They call it the Roundhouse of the Big Spool. And
they are proud because it was thought up and is there to show when
visitors come."

"And now will you answer the second question second--why do you have
two freckles on your chin?" interrupted the uncle who had said before,
"Interruptions nix nix."

"The freckles are put on," answered Wing Tip the Spick. "When a girl
goes away from the Village of Cream Puffs her mother puts on two
freckles, on the chin. Each freckle must be the same as a little burnt
cream puff kept in the oven too long. After the two freckles looking
like two little burnt cream puffs are put on her chin, they remind the
girl every morning when she combs her hair and looks in the looking
glass. They remind her where she came from and she mustn't stay away
too long."

"O-h-h-h," said one uncle. "Um-m-m-m," said the other three uncles.
And they talked among each other afterward, the four uncles by
themselves, saying:

"She has a gift. It is her eyes. They are so blue, such a clear light
blue, the same as cornflowers with blue raindrops shining and dancing
on silver leaves after a sun shower in any of the summer months."

At the same time Wing Tip the Spick was saying to herself, "I know for
sure now these are sweet uncles and I am going to have a sweet time
visiting my relations."

[Illustration]


                           [Illustration]

                How the Five Rusty Rats Helped Find a
                             New Village


One day while Wing Tip the Spick was visiting her four uncles in the
Village of Liver-and-Onions, a blizzard came up. Snow filled the sky
and the wind blew and made a noise like heavy wagon axles grinding and
crying.

And on this day a gray rat came to the house of the four uncles, a rat
with gray skin and gray hair, gray as the gray gravy on a beefsteak.
The rat had a basket. In the basket was a catfish. And the rat said,
"Please let me have a little fire and a little salt as I wish to make
a little bowl of hot catfish soup to keep me warm through the
blizzard."

And the four uncles all said together, "This is no time for rats to be
around--and we would like to ask you where you got the catfish in the
basket."

"Oh, oh, oh, please--in the name of the five rusty rats, the five
lucky rats of the Village of Cream Puffs, please don't," was the
exclamation of Wing Tip the Spick.

The uncles stopped. They looked long and deep into the eyes of Wing
Tip the Spick and thought, as they had thought before, how her eyes
were clear light blue the same as cornflowers with blue raindrops
shining on the silver leaves in a summer sun shower.

And the four uncles opened the door and let the gray rat come in with
the basket and the catfish. They showed the gray rat the way to the
kitchen and the fire and the salt. And they watched the rat and kept
him company while he fixed himself a catfish soup to keep him warm
traveling through the blizzard with the sky full of snow.

After they opened the front door and let the rat out and said good-by,
they turned to Wing Tip the Spick and asked her to tell them about the
five rusty lucky rats of the Village of Cream Puffs where she lived
with her father and her mother and her folks.

"When I was a little girl growing up, before I learned all I learned
since I got older, my grandfather gave me a birthday present because I
was nine years old. I remember how he said to me, 'You will never be
nine years old again after this birthday, so I give you this box for a
birthday present.'

"In the box was a pair of red slippers with a gold clock on each
slipper. One of the clocks ran fast. The other clock ran slow. And he
told me if I wished to be early anywhere I should go by the clock that
ran fast. And if I wished to be late anywhere I should go by the clock
that ran slow.

"And that same birthday he took me down through the middle of the
Village of Cream Puffs to the public square near the Roundhouse of the
Big Spool. There he pointed his finger at the statue of the five rusty
rats, the five lucky rats. And as near as I can remember his words, he
said:

"'Many years ago, long before the snow birds began to wear funny
little slip-on hats and funny little slip-on shoes, and away back long
before the snow birds learned how to slip off their slip-on hats and
how to slip off their slip-on shoes, long ago in the faraway Village
of Liver-and-Onions, the people who ate cream puffs came together and
met in the streets and picked up their baggage and put their
belongings on their shoulders and marched out of the Village of
Liver-and-Onions saying, "We shall find a new place for a village and
the name of it shall be the Village of Cream Puffs.

[Illustration: They held on to the long curved tails of the rusty rats]

"'They marched out on the prairie with their baggage and belongings in
sacks on their shoulders. And a blizzard came up. Snow filled the sky.
The wind blew and blew and made a noise like heavy wagon axles
grinding and crying.

"'The snow came on. The wind twisted all day and all night and all the
next day. The wind changed black and twisted and spit icicles in their
faces. They got lost in the blizzard. They expected to die and be
buried in the snow for the wolves to come and eat them.

"'Then the five lucky rats came, the five rusty rats, rust on their
skin and hair, rust on their feet and noses, rust all over, and
especially, most especially of all, rust on their long curved tails.
They dug their noses down into the snow and their long curved tails
stuck up far above the snow where the people who were lost in the
blizzard could take hold of the tails like handles.

"'And so, while the wind and the snow blew and the blizzard beat its
icicles in their faces, they held on to the long curved tails of the
rusty rats till they came to the place where the Village of Cream
Puffs now stands. It was the rusty rats who saved their lives and
showed them where to put their new village. That is why this statue
now stands in the public square, this statue of the shapes of the five
rusty rats, the five lucky rats with their noses down in the snow and
their long curved tails lifted high out of the snow.'

"That is the story as my grandfather told it to me. And he said it
happened long ago, long before the snow birds began to wear slip-on
hats and slip-on shoes, long before they learned how to slip off the
slip-on hats and to slip off the slip-on shoes."

"O-h-h-h," said one of the uncles. "Um-m-m-m," said the other three
uncles.

"And sometime," added Wing Tip the Spick, "when you go away from the
Village of Liver-and-Onions and cross the Shampoo River and ride many
miles across the upland prairie till you come to the Village of Cream
Puffs, you will find a girl there who loves four uncles very much.

"And if you ask her politely, she will show you the red slippers with
gold clocks on them, one clock to be early by, the other to be late
by. And if you are still more polite she will take you through the
middle of the town to the public square and show you the statue of the
five rusty lucky rats with their long curved tails sticking up in the
air like handles. And the tails are curved so long and so nice you
will feel like going up and taking hold of them to see what will
happen to you."

[Illustration]


----------------------------------------------------------------------


2. Five Stories About the
   Potato Face Blind Man

          _People_: The Potato Face Blind Man
                    Any Ice Today
                    Pick Ups
                    Lizzie Lazarus
                    Poker Face the Baboon
                    Hot Dog the Tiger
                    Whitson Whimble
                    A Man Shoveling Money
                    A Watermelon Moon
                    White Gold Boys
                    Blue Silver Girls
                    Big White Moon Spiders
                    Zizzies
                    Gimme the Ax Again


                           [Illustration]

                  The Potato Face Blind Man Who Lost
                    the Diamond Rabbit on His Gold
                              Accordion


There was a Potato Face Blind Man used to play an accordion on the Main
Street corner nearest the postoffice in the Village of Liver-and-Onions.

Any Ice Today came along and said, "It looks like it used to be an 18
carat gold accordion with rich pawnshop diamonds in it; it looks like
it used to be a grand accordion once and not so grand now."

"Oh, yes, oh, yes, it was gold all over on the outside," said the
Potato Face Blind Man, "and there was a diamond rabbit next to the
handles on each side, two diamond rabbits."

"How do you mean diamond rabbits?" Any Ice Today asked.

"Ears, legs, head, feet, ribs, tail, all fixed out in diamonds to make
a nice rabbit with his diamond chin on his diamond toenails. When I
play good pieces so people cry hearing my accordion music, then I put
my fingers over and feel of the rabbit's diamond chin on his diamond
toenails, 'Attaboy, li'l bunny, attaboy, li'l bunny.'"

"Yes I hear you talking but it is like dream talking. I wonder why
your accordion looks like somebody stole it and took it to a pawnshop
and took it out and somebody stole it again and took it to a pawnshop
and took it out and somebody stole it again. And they kept on stealing
it and taking it out of the pawnshop and stealing it again till the
gold wore off so it looks like a used-to-be-yesterday."

"Oh, yes, o-h, y-e-s, you are right. It is not like the accordion it
used to be. It knows more knowledge than it used to know just the same
as this Potato Face Blind Man knows more knowledge than he used to
know."

"Tell me about it," said Any Ice Today.

"It is simple. If a blind man plays an accordion on the street to make
people cry it makes them sad and when they are sad the gold goes away
off the accordion. And if a blind man goes to sleep because his music
is full of sleepy songs like the long wind in a sleepy valley, then
while the blind man is sleeping the diamonds in the diamond rabbit all
go away. I play a sleepy song and go to sleep and I wake up and the
diamond ear of the diamond rabbit is gone. I play another sleepy song
and go to sleep and wake up and the diamond tail of the diamond rabbit
is gone. After a while all the diamond rabbits are gone, even the
diamond chin sitting on the diamond toenails of the rabbits next to
the handles of the accordion, even those are gone."

"Is there anything I can do?" asked Any Ice Today.

"I do it myself," said the Potato Face Blind Man. "If I am too sorry I
just play the sleepy song of the long wind going up the sleepy
valleys. And that carries me away where I have time and money to dream
about the new wonderful accordions and postoffices where everybody
that gets a letter and everybody that don't get a letter stops and
remembers the Potato Face Blind Man."

[Illustration]


                           [Illustration]

                How the Potato Face Blind Man Enjoyed
                   Himself on a Fine Spring Morning


On a Friday morning when the flummywisters were yodeling yisters high
in the elm trees, the Potato Face Blind Man came down to his work
sitting at the corner nearest the postoffice in the Village of
Liver-and-Onions and playing his gold-that-used-to-be accordion for
the pleasure of the ears of the people going into the postoffice to
see if they got any letters for themselves or their families.

"It is a good day, a lucky day," said the Potato Face Blind Man,
"because for a beginning I have heard high in the elm trees the
flummywisters yodeling their yisters in the long branches of the
lingering leaves. So--so--I am going to listen to myself playing on my
accordion the same yisters, the same yodels, drawing them like long
glad breathings out of my glad accordion, long breathings of the
branches of the lingering leaves."

And he sat down in his chair. On the sleeve of his coat he tied a
sign, "I Am Blind _Too_." On the top button of his coat he hung a
little thimble. On the bottom button of his coat he hung a tin copper
cup. On the middle button he hung a wooden mug. By the side of him on
the left side on the sidewalk he put a galvanized iron washtub, and on
the right side an aluminum dishpan.

"It is a good day, a lucky day, and I am sure many people will stop
and remember the Potato Face Blind Man," he sang to himself like a
little song as he began running his fingers up and down the keys of
the accordion like the yisters of the lingering leaves in the elm
trees.

[Illustration: "I am sure many people will stop and remember the
Potato Face Blind Man"]

Then came Pick Ups. Always it happened Pick Ups asked questions and
wished to know. And so this is how the questions and answers ran when
the Potato Face filled the ears of Pick Ups with explanations.

"What is the piece you are playing on the keys of your accordion so
fast sometimes, so slow sometimes, so sad some of the moments, so glad
some of the moments?"

"It is the song the mama flummywisters sing when they button loose the
winter underwear of the baby flummywisters and sing:

                     "Fly, you little flummies,
                     Sing, you little wisters."

"And why do you have a little thimble on the top button of your coat?"

"That is for the dimes to be put in. Some people see it and say, 'Oh,
I must put in a whole thimbleful of dimes.'"

"And the tin copper cup?"

"That is for the base ball players to stand off ten feet and throw in
nickels and pennies. The one who throws the most into the cup will be
the most lucky."

"And the wooden mug?"

"There is a hole in the bottom of it. The hole is as big as the
bottom. The nickel goes in and comes out again. It is for the very
poor people who wish to give me a nickel and yet get the nickel back."

"The aluminum dishpan and the galvanized iron washtub--what are they
doing by the side of you on both sides on the sidewalk?"

"Sometime maybe it will happen everybody who goes into the postoffice
and comes out will stop and pour out all their money, because they
might get afraid their money is no good any more. If such a happening
ever happens then it will be nice for the people to have some place to
pour their money. Such is the explanation why you see the aluminum
dishpan and galvanized iron tub."

"Explain your sign--why is it, 'I Am Blind _Too_.'"

"Oh, I am sorry to explain to you, Pick Ups, why this is so which.
Some of the people who pass by here going into the postoffice and
coming out, they have eyes--but they see nothing with their eyes. They
look where they are going and they get where they wish to get, but
they forget why they came and they do not know how to come away. They
are my blind brothers. It is for them I have the sign that reads, 'I
Am Blind _Too_.'"

"I have my ears full of explanations and I thank you," said Pick Ups.

"Good-by," said the Potato Face Blind Man as he began drawing long
breathings like lingering leaves out of the accordion--along with the
song the mama flummywisters sing when they button loose the winter
underwear of the baby flummywisters.


                           [Illustration]

                  Poker Face the Baboon and Hot Dog
                              the Tiger


When the moon has a green rim with red meat inside and black seeds on
the red meat, then in the Rootabaga Country they call it a Watermelon
Moon and look for anything to happen.

It was a night when a Watermelon Moon was shining. Lizzie Lazarus came
to the upstairs room of the Potato Face Blind Man. Poker Face the
Baboon and Hot Dog the Tiger were with her. She was leading them with
a pink string.

"You see they are wearing pajamas," she said. "They sleep with you
to-night and to-morrow they go to work with you like mascots."

"How like mascots?" asked the Potato Face Blind Man.

"They are luck bringers. They keep your good luck if it is good. They
change your bad luck if it is bad."

"I hear you and my ears get your explanations."

So the next morning when the Potato Face Blind Man sat down to play
his accordion on the corner nearest the postoffice in the Village of
Liver-and-Onions, next to him on the right hand side sitting on the
sidewalk was Poker Face the Baboon and on the left hand side sitting
next to him was Hot Dog the Tiger.

They looked like dummies--they were so quiet. They looked as if they
were made of wood and paper and then painted. In the eyes of Poker
Face was something faraway. In the eyes of Hot Dog was something
hungry. Whitson Whimble, the patent clothes wringer manufacturer, came
by in his big limousine automobile car without horses to pull it. He
was sitting back on the leather upholstered seat cushions.

"Stop here," he commanded the chauffeur driving the car.

Then Whitson Whimble sat looking. First he looked into the eyes of
Poker Face the Baboon and saw something faraway. Then he looked into
the eyes of Hot Dog the Tiger and saw something hungry. Then he read
the sign painted by the Potato Face Blind Man saying, "You look at 'em
and see 'em; I look at 'em and I don't. You watch what their eyes say;
I can only feel their hair." Then Whitson Whimble commanded the
chauffeur driving the car, "Go on."

Fifteen minutes later a man in overalls came down Main Street with a
wheelbarrow. He stopped in front of the Potato Face Blind Man, Poker
Face the Baboon, and Hot Dog the Tiger.

"Where is the aluminum dishpan?" he asked.

"On my left side on the sidewalk," answered the Potato Face Blind Man.

"Where is the galvanized iron washtub?"

"On my right side on the sidewalk."

Then the man in overalls took a shovel and began shoveling silver
dollars out of the wheelbarrow into the aluminum dishpan and the
galvanized iron washtub. He shoveled out of the wheelbarrow till the
dishpan was full, till the washtub was full. Then he put the shovel
into the wheelbarrow and went up Main Street.

Six o'clock that night Pick Ups came along. The Potato Face Blind Man
said to him, "I have to carry home a heavy load of money to-night, an
aluminum dishpan full of silver dollars and a galvanized iron washtub
full of silver dollars. So I ask you, will you take care of Poker Face
the Baboon and Hot Dog the Tiger?"

"Yes," said Pick Ups, "I will." And he did. He tied a pink string to
their legs and took them home and put them in the woodshed.

Poker Face the Baboon went to sleep on the soft coal at the north end
of the woodshed and when he was asleep his face had something faraway
in it and he was so quiet he looked like a dummy with brown hair of
the jungle painted on his black skin and a black nose painted on his
brown face. Hot Dog the Tiger went to sleep on the hard coal at the
south end of the woodshed and when he was asleep his eyelashes had
something hungry in them and he looked like a painted dummy with black
stripes painted over his yellow belly and a black spot painted away at
the end of his long yellow tail.

In the morning the woodshed was empty. Pick Ups told the Potato Face
Blind Man, "They left a note in their own handwriting on perfumed pink
paper. It said, '_Mascots never stay long_.'"

And that is why for many years the Potato Face Blind Man had silver
dollars to spend--and that is why many people in the Rootabaga Country
keep their eyes open for a Watermelon Moon in the sky with a green rim
and red meat inside and black seeds making spots on the red meat.

[Illustration]


                           [Illustration]

                The Toboggan-to-the-Moon Dream of the
                        Potato Face Blind Man


One morning in October the Potato Face Blind Man sat on the corner
nearest the postoffice.

Any Ice Today came along and said, "This is the sad time of the year."

"Sad?" asked the Potato Face Blind Man, changing his accordion from
his right knee to his left knee, and singing softly to the tune he was
fumbling on the accordion keys, "Be Happy in the Morning When the
Birds Bring the Beans."

"Yes," said Any Ice Today, "is it not sad every year when the leaves
change from green to yellow, when the leaves dry on the branches and
fall into the air, and the wind blows them and they make a song
saying, 'Hush baby, hush baby,' and the wind fills the sky with them
and they are like a sky full of birds who forget they know any songs."

"It is sad and not sad," was the blind man's word.

"Listen," said the Potato Face. "For me this is the time of the year
when the dream of the white moon toboggan comes back. Five weeks
before the first snow flurry this dream always comes back to me. It
says, 'The black leaves are falling now and they fill the sky but five
weeks go by and then for every black leaf there will be a thousand
snow crystals shining white.'"

"What was your dream of the white moon toboggan?" asked Any Ice Today.

"It came to me first when I was a boy, when I had my eyes, before my
luck changed. I saw the big white spiders of the moon working, rushing
around climbing up, climbing down, snizzling and sniffering. I looked
a long while before I saw what the big white spiders on the moon were
doing. I saw after a while they were weaving a long toboggan, a white
toboggan, white and soft as snow. And after a long while of snizzling
and sniffering, climbing up and climbing down, at last the toboggan
was done, a snow white toboggan running from the moon down to the
Rootabaga Country.

"And sliding, sliding down from the moon on this toboggan were the
White Gold Boys and the Blue Silver Girls. They tumbled down at my
feet because, you see, the toboggan ended right at my feet. I could
lean over and pick up the White Gold Boys and the Blue Silver Girls as
they slid out of the toboggan at my feet. I could pick up a whole
handful of them and hold them in my hand and talk with them. Yet, you
understand, whenever I tried to shut my hand and keep any of them they
would snizzle and sniffer and jump out of the cracks between my
fingers. Once there was a little gold and silver dust on my left hand
thumb, dust they snizzled out while slipping away from me.

"Once I heard a White Gold Boy and a Blue Silver Girl whispering. They
were standing on the tip of my right hand little finger, whispering.
One said, 'I got pumpkins--what did you get?' The other said, 'I got
hazel nuts.' I listened more and I found out there are millions of
pumpkins and millions of hazel nuts so small you and I can not see
them. These children from the moon, however, they can see them and
whenever they slide down on the moon toboggan they take back their
pockets full of things so little we have never seen them."

"They are wonderful children," said Any Ice Today. "And will you tell
me how they get back to the moon after they slide down the toboggan?"

"Oh, that is easy," said Potato Face. "It is just as easy for them to
slide _up_ to the moon as to slide down. Sliding up and sliding down
is the same for them. The big white spiders fixed it that way when
they snizzled and sniffered and made the toboggan."


                           [Illustration]

                   How Gimme the Ax Found Out About
                   the Zigzag Railroad and Who Made
                              It Zigzag


One day Gimme the Ax said to himself, "Today I go to the postoffice
and around, looking around. Maybe I will hear about something
happening last night when I was sleeping. Maybe a policeman began
laughing and fell in a cistern and came out with a wheelbarrow full of
goldfish wearing new jewelry. How do I know? Maybe the man in the moon
going down a cellar stairs to get a pitcher of butter-milk for the
woman in the moon to drink and stop crying, maybe he fell down the
stairs and broke the pitcher and laughed and picked up the broken
pieces and said to himself, 'One, two, three, four, accidents happen
in the best regulated families.' How do I know?"

So with his mind full of simple and refreshing thoughts, Gimme the Ax
went out into the backyard garden and looked at the different necktie
poppies growing early in the summer. Then he picked one of the necktie
poppies to wear for a necktie scarf going downtown to the postoffice
and around looking around.

"It is a good speculation to look nice around looking around in a
necktie scarf," said Gimme the Ax. "It is a necktie with a picture
like whiteface pony spots on a green frog swimming in the moonshine."

So he went downtown. For the first time he saw the Potato Face Blind
Man playing an accordion on the corner next nearest the postoffice. He
asked the Potato Face to tell him why the railroad tracks run zigzag
in the Rootabaga Country.

"Long ago," said the Potato Face Blind Man, "long before the necktie
poppies began growing in the backyard, long before there was a necktie
scarf like yours with whiteface pony spots on a green frog swimming in
the moonshine, back in the old days when they laid the rails for the
railroad they laid the rails straight."

"Then the zizzies came. The zizzy is a bug. He runs zigzag on zigzag
legs, eats zigzag with zigzag teeth, and spits zigzag with a zigzag
tongue.

"Millions of zizzies came hizzing with little hizzers on their heads
and under their legs. They jumped on the rails with their zigzag legs,
and spit and twisted with their zigzag teeth and tongues till they
twisted the whole railroad and all the rails and tracks into a zigzag
railroad with zigzag rails for the trains, the passenger trains and
the freight trains, all to run zigzag on.

"Then the zizzies crept away into the fields where they sleep and
cover themselves with zigzag blankets on special zigzag beds.

"Next day came shovelmen with their shovels, smooth engineers with
smooth blue prints, and water boys with water pails and water dippers
for the shovelmen to drink after shoveling the railroad straight. And
I nearly forgot to say the steam and hoist operating engineers came
and began their steam hoist and operating to make the railroad
straight.

"They worked hard. They made the railroad straight again. They looked
at the job and said to themselves and to each other, 'This is it--we
done it.'

"Next morning the zizzies opened their zigzag eyes and looked over to
the railroad and the rails. When they saw the railroad all straight
again, and the rails and the ties and the spikes all straight again,
the zizzies didn't even eat breakfast that morning.

"They jumped out of their zigzag beds, jumped onto the rails with
their zigzag legs and spit and twisted till they spit and twisted all
the rails and the ties and the spikes back into a zigzag like the
letter Z and the letter Z at the end of the alphabet.

"After that the zizzies went to breakfast. And they said to themselves
and to each other, the same as the shovelmen, the smooth engineers and
the steam hoist and operating engineers, 'This is it--we done it.'"

"So that is the how of the which--it was the zizzies," said Gimme the
Ax.

"Yes, it was the zizzies," said the Potato Face Blind Man. "That is
the story told to me."

"Who told it to you?"

"_Two little zizzies._ They came to me one cold winter night and slept
in my accordion where the music keeps it warm in winter. In the
morning I said, 'Good morning, zizzies, did you have a good sleep last
night and pleasant dreams?' And after they had breakfast they told me
the story. Both told it zigzag but it was the same kind of zigzag each
had together."

[Illustration]


----------------------------------------------------------------------


3. Three Stories About the
   Gold Buckskin Whincher

          _People_: Blixie Bimber
                    Peter Potato Blossom Wishes
                    Jimmie the Flea
                    Silas Baxby
                    Fritz Axenbax
                    James Sixbixdix
                    Jason Squiff, the Cistern Cleaner
                    Rags Habakuk, the Rag Man
                    Two Daughters of the Rag Man
                    Two Blue Rats
                    A Circus Man With Spot Cash
                    A Moving Picture Actor
                    A Taxicab Driver


                            [Illustration]

               The Story of Blixie Bimber and the Power
                    of the Gold Buckskin Whincher


Blixie Bimber grew up looking for luck. If she found a horseshoe she
took it home and put it on the wall of her room with a ribbon tied to
it. She would look at the moon through her fingers, under her arms,
over her right shoulder but never--never over her _left_ shoulder. She
listened and picked up everything anybody said about the ground hog
and whether the ground hog saw his shadow when he came out the second
of February.

If she dreamed of onions she knew the next day she would find a silver
spoon. If she dreamed of fishes she knew the next day she would meet a
strange man who would call her by her first name. She grew up looking
for luck.

She was sixteen years old and quite a girl, with her skirts down to
her shoe tops, when something happened. She was going to the
postoffice to see if there was a letter for her from Peter Potato
Blossom Wishes, her best chum, or a letter from Jimmy the Flea, her
best friend she kept steady company with.

Jimmy the Flea was a climber. He climbed skyscrapers and flagpoles and
smokestacks and was a famous steeplejack. Blixie Bimber liked him
because he was a steeplejack, a little, but more because he was a
whistler.

Every time Blixie said to Jimmy, "I got the blues--whistle the blues
out of me," Jimmy would just naturally whistle till the blues just
naturally went away from Blixie.

On the way to the postoffice, Blixie found a gold buckskin _whincher_.
There it lay in the middle of the sidewalk. How and why it came to be
there she never knew and nobody ever told her. "It's luck," she said
to herself as she picked it up quick.

And so--she took it home and fixed it on a little chain and wore it
around her neck.

She did not know and nobody ever told her a gold buckskin whincher is
different from just a plain common whincher. It has a _power_. And if
a thing has a power over you then you just naturally can't help
yourself.

So--around her neck fixed on a little chain Blixie Bimber wore the
gold buckskin whincher and never knew it had a power and all the time
the power was working.

"The first man you meet with an X in his name you must fall head over
heels in love with him," said the silent power in the gold buckskin
whincher.

And that was why Blixie Bimber stopped at the postoffice and went back
again asking the clerk at the postoffice window if he was sure there
wasn't a letter for her. The name of the clerk was Silas Baxby. For
six weeks he kept steady company with Blixie Bimber. They went to
dances, hayrack rides, picnics and high jinks together.

All the time the power in the gold buckskin whincher was working. It
was hanging by a little chain around her neck and always working. It
was saying, "The next man you meet with two X's in his name you must
leave all and fall head over heels in love with him."

She met the high school principal. His name was Fritz Axenbax. Blixie
dropped her eyes before him and threw smiles at him. And for six weeks
he kept steady company with Blixie Bimber. They went to dances,
hayrack rides, picnics and high jinks together.

"Why do you go with him for steady company?" her relatives asked.

"It's a power he's got," Blixie answered, "I just can't help it--it's
a power."

"One of his feet is bigger than the other--how can you keep steady
company with him?" they asked again.

All she would answer was, "It's a power."

All the time, of course, the gold buckskin whincher on the little
chain around her neck was working. It was saying, "If she meets a man
with three X's in his name she must fall head over heels in love with
him."

At a band concert in the public square one night she met James
Sixbixdix. There was no helping it. She dropped her eyes and threw her
smiles at him. And for six weeks they kept steady company going to
band concerts, dances, hayrack rides, picnics and high jinks together.

"Why do you keep steady company with him? He's a musical soup eater,"
her relatives said to her. And she answered, "It's a power--I can't
help myself."

Leaning down with her head in a rain water cistern one day, listening
to the echoes against the strange wooden walls of the cistern, the
gold buckskin whincher on the little chain around her neck slipped off
and fell down into the rain water.

"My luck is gone," said Blixie. Then she went into the house and made
two telephone calls. One was to James Sixbixdix telling him she
couldn't keep the date with him that night. The other was to Jimmy the
Flea, the climber, the steeplejack.

"Come on over--I got the blues and I want you to whistle 'em away,"
was what she telephoned Jimmy the Flea.

And so--if you ever come across a gold buckskin whincher, be careful.
It's got a power. It'll make you fall head over heels in love with the
next man you meet with an X in his name. Or it will do other strange
things because different whinchers have different powers.


                            [Illustration]

                 The Story of Jason Squiff and Why He
                  Had a Popcorn Hat, Popcorn Mittens
                          and Popcorn Shoes


Jason Squiff was a cistern cleaner. He had greenish yellowish hair. If
you looked down into a cistern when he was lifting buckets of slush
and mud you could tell where he was, you could pick him out down in
the dark cistern, by the lights of his greenish yellowish hair.

Sometimes the buckets of slush and mud tipped over and ran down on the
top of his head. This covered his greenish yellowish hair. And then it
was hard to tell where he was and it was not easy to pick him out down
in the dark where he was cleaning the cistern.

One day Jason Squiff came to the Bimber house and knocked on the door.

"Did I understand," he said, speaking to Mrs. Bimber, Blixie Bimber's
mother, "do I understand you sent for me to clean the cistern in your
back yard?"

"You understand exactly such," said Mrs. Bimber, "and you are welcome
as the flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la-la."

"Then I will go to work and clean the cistern, tra-la-la," he
answered, speaking to Mrs. Bimber. "I'm the guy, tra-la-la," he said
further, running his excellent fingers through his greenish yellowish
hair which was shining brightly.

He began cleaning the cistern. Blixie Bimber came out in the back
yard. She looked down in the cistern. It was all dark. It looked like
nothing but all dark down there. By and by she saw something greenish
yellowish. She watched it. Soon she saw it was Jason Squiff's head and
hair. And then she knew the cistern was being cleaned and Jason Squiff
was on the job. So she sang tra-la-la and went back into the house and
told her mother Jason Squiff was on the job.

The last bucketful of slush and mud came at last for Jason Squiff. He
squinted at the bottom. Something was shining. He reached his fingers
down through the slush and mud and took out what was shining.

It was the gold buckskin whincher Blixie Bimber lost from the gold
chain around her neck the week before when she was looking down into
the cistern to see what she could see. It was exactly the same gold
buckskin whincher shining and glittering like a sign of happiness.

"It's luck," said Jason Squiff, wiping his fingers on his greenish
yellowish hair. Then he put the gold buckskin whincher in his vest
pocket and spoke to himself again, "It's luck."

A little after six o'clock that night Jason Squiff stepped into his
house and home and said hello to his wife and daughters. They all
began to laugh. Their laughter was a ticklish laughter.

"Something funny is happening," he said.

"And you are it," they all laughed at him again with ticklish
laughter.

Then they showed him. His hat was popcorn, his mittens popcorn and his
shoes popcorn. He didn't know the gold buckskin whincher had a power
and was working all the time. He didn't know the whincher in his vest
pocket was saying, "You have a letter Q in your name and because you
have the pleasure and happiness of having a Q in your name you must
have a popcorn hat, popcorn mittens and popcorn shoes."

The next morning he put on another hat, another pair of mittens and
another pair of shoes. And the minute he put them on they changed to
popcorn.

So he tried on all his hats, mittens and shoes. Always they changed to
popcorn the minute he had them on.

[Illustration: His hat was popcorn, his mittens popcorn and his
shoes popcorn]

He went downtown to the stores. He bought a new hat, mittens and
shoes. And the minute he had them on they changed to popcorn.

So he decided he would go to work and clean cisterns with his popcorn
hat, popcorn mittens and popcorn shoes on.

The people of the Village of Cream Puffs enjoyed watching him walk up
the street, going to clean cisterns. People five and six blocks away
could see him coming and going with his popcorn hat, popcorn mittens
and popcorn shoes.

When he was down in a cistern the children enjoyed looking down into
the cistern to see him work. When none of the slush and mud fell on
his hat and mittens he was easy to find. The light of the shining
popcorn lit up the whole inside of the cistern.

Sometimes, of course, the white popcorn got full of black slush and
black mud. And then when Jason Squiff came up and walked home he was
not quite so dazzling to look at.

It was a funny winter for Jason Squiff.

"It's a crime, a dirty crime," he said to himself. "Now I can never be
alone with my thoughts. Everybody looks at me when I go up the
street."

"If I meet a funeral even the pall bearers begin to laugh at my
popcorn hat. If I meet people going to a wedding they throw all the
rice at me as if I am a bride and a groom all together.

"The horses try to eat my hat wherever I go. Three hats I have fed to
horses this winter.

"And if I accidentally drop one of my mittens the chickens eat it."

Then Jason Squiff began to change. He became proud.

"I always wanted a white beautiful hat like this white popcorn hat,"
he said to himself. "And I always wanted white beautiful mittens and
white beautiful shoes like these white popcorn mittens and shoes."

When the boys yelled, "Snow man! yah-de-dah-de-dah, Snow man!" he just
waved his hand to them with an upward gesture of his arm to show he
was proud of how he looked.

"They all watch for me," he said to himself, "I am distinquished--am I
not?" he asked himself.

And he put his right hand into his left hand and shook hands with
himself and said, "You certainly look fixed up."

One day he decided to throw away his vest. In the vest pocket was the
gold buckskin whincher, with the power working, the power saying, "You
have a letter Q in your name and because you have the pleasure and
happiness of having a Q in your name you must have a popcorn hat,
popcorn mittens and popcorn shoes."

Yes, he threw away the vest. He forgot all about the gold buckskin
whincher being in the vest.

He just handed the vest to a rag man. And the rag man put the vest
with the gold buckskin whincher in a bag on his back and walked away.

After that Jason Squiff was like other people. His hats would never
change to popcorn nor his mittens to popcorn nor his shoes to popcorn.

And when anybody looked at him down in a cistern cleaning the cistern
or when anybody saw him walking along the street they knew him by his
greenish yellowish hair which was always full of bright lights.

And so--if you have a Q in your name, be careful if you ever come
across a gold buckskin whincher. Remember different whinchers have
different powers.


                            [Illustration]

                  The Story of Rags Habakuk, the Two
                  Blue Rats, and the Circus Man Who
                      Came with Spot Cash Money


Rags Habakuk was going home. His day's work was done. The sun was
down. Street lamps began shining. Burglars were starting on their
night's work. It was no time for an honest ragman to be knocking on
people's back doors, saying, "Any rags?" or else saying, "Any rags?
any bottles? any bones?" or else saying "Any rags? any bottles? any
bones? any old iron? any copper, brass, old shoes all run down and no
good to anybody to-day? any old clothes, old coats, pants, vests? I
take any old clothes you got."

Yes, Rags Habakuk was going home. In the gunnysack bag on his back,
humped up on top of the rag humps in the bag, was an old vest. It was
the same old vest Jason Squiff threw out of a door at Rags Habakuk. In
the pocket of the vest was the gold buckskin whincher with a power in
it.

Well, Rags Habakuk got home just like always, sat down to supper and
smacked his mouth and had a big supper of fish, just like always. Then
he went out to a shanty in the back yard and opened up the gunnysack
rag bag and fixed things out classified just like every day when he
came home he opened the gunnysack bag and fixed things out classified.

The last thing of all he fixed out classified was the vest with the
gold buckskin whincher in the pocket. "Put it on--it's a glad rag," he
said, looking at the vest. "It's a lucky vest." So he put his right
arm in the right armhole and his left arm in the left armhole. And
there he was with his arms in the armholes of the old vest all fixed
out classified new.

Next morning Rags Habakuk kissed his wife g'by and his eighteen year
old girl g'by and his nineteen year old girl g'by. He kissed them just
like he always kissed them--in a hurry--and as he kissed each one he
said, "I will be back soon if not sooner and when I come back I will
return."

Yes, up the street went Rags Habakuk. And soon as he left home
something happened. Standing on his right shoulder was a blue rat and
standing on his left shoulder was a blue rat. The only way he knew
they were there was by looking at them.

There they were, close to his ears. He could feel the far edge of
their whiskers against his ears.

"This never happened to me before all the time I been picking rags,"
he said. "Two blue rats stand by my ears and never say anything even
if they know I am listening to anything they tell me."

So Rags Habakuk walked on two blocks, three blocks, four blocks,
squinting with his right eye slanting at the blue rat on his right
shoulder and squinting with his left eye slanting at the blue rat on
his left shoulder.

"If I stood on somebody's shoulder with my whiskers right up in
somebody's ear I would say something for somebody to listen to," he
muttered.

Of course, he did not understand it was the gold buckskin whincher and
the power working. Down in the pocket of the vest he had on, the gold
buckskin whincher power was saying, "Because you have two K's in your
name you must have two blue rats on your shoulders, one blue rat for
your right ear, one blue rat for your left ear."

It was good business. Never before did Rags Habakuk get so much old
rags.

"Come again--you and your lucky blue rats," people said to him. They
dug into their cellars and garrets and brought him bottles and bones
and copper and brass and old shoes and old clothes, coats, pants,
vests.

Every morning when he went up the street with the two blue rats on his
shoulders, blinking their eyes straight ahead and chewing their
whiskers so they sometimes tickled the ears of old Rags Habakuk,
sometimes women came running out on the front porch to look at him and
say, "Well, if he isn't a queer old mysterious ragman and if those
ain't queer old mysterious blue rats!"

All the time the gold buckskin whincher and the power was working. It
was saying, "So long as old Rags Habakuk keeps the two blue rats he
shall have good luck--but if he ever sells one of the blue rats then
one of his daughters shall marry a taxicab driver--and if he ever
sells the other blue rat then his other daughter shall marry a
moving-picture hero actor."

Then terrible things happened. A circus man came. "I give you one
thousand dollars spot cash money for one of the blue rats," he
expostulated with his mouth. "And I give you two thousand dollars spot
cash money for the two of the blue rats both of them together."

"Show me how much spot cash money two thousand dollars is all counted
out in one pile for one man to carry away home in his gunnysack rag
bag," was the answer of Rags Habakuk.

The circus man went to the bank and came back with spot cash
greenbacks money.

"This spot cash greenbacks money is made from the finest silk rags
printed by the national government for the national republic to make
business rich and prosperous," said the circus man, expostulating with
his mouth.

"T-h-e f-i-n-e-s-t s-i-l-k r-a-g-s," he expostulated again holding two
fingers under the nose of Rags Habakuk.

"I take it," said Rags Habakuk, "I take it. It is a whole gunnysack
bag full of spot cash greenbacks money. I tell my wife it is printed
by the national government for the national republic to make business
rich and prosperous."

Then he kissed the blue rats, one on the right ear, the other on the
left ear, and handed them over to the circus man.

And that was why the next month his eighteen year old daughter married
a taxicab driver who was so polite all the time to his customers that
he never had time to be polite to his wife.

And that was why his nineteen year old daughter married a moving-picture
hero actor who worked so hard being nice and kind in the moving pictures
that he never had enough left over for his wife when he got home after
the day's work.

And the lucky vest with the gold buckskin whincher was stolen from
Rags Habakuk by the taxicab driver.

[Illustration]


----------------------------------------------------------------------


4. Four Stories About the Deep
   Doom of Dark Doorways

          _People_: The Rag Doll
                    The Broom Handle
                    Spoon Lickers
                    Chocolate Chins
                    Dirty Bibs
                    Tin Pan Bangers
                    Clean Ears
                    Easy Ticklers
                    Musical Soup Eaters
                    Chubby Chubs
                    Sleepy Heads

                    Snoo Foo
                    Blink, Swink and Jink
                    Blunk, Swunk and Junk
                    Missus Sniggers

                    Eeta Peeca Pie
                    Meeny Miney
                    Miney Mo
                    A Potato Bug Millionaire

                    Bimbo the Snip
                    Bevo the Hike
                    A Ward Alderman
                    A Barn Boss
                    A Weather Man
                    A Traffic Policeman
                    A Monkey
                    A Widow Woman
                    An Umbrella Handle Maker


                            [Illustration]

                The Wedding Procession of the Rag Doll
                and the Broom Handle and Who Was in It


The Rag Doll had many friends. The Whisk Broom, the Furnace Shovel,
the Coffee Pot, they all liked the Rag Doll very much.

But when the Rag Doll married, it was the Broom Handle she picked
because the Broom Handle fixed her eyes.

A proud child, proud but careless, banged the head of the Rag Doll
against a door one day and knocked off both the glass eyes sewed on
long ago. It was then the Broom Handle found two black California
prunes, and fastened the two California prunes just where the eyes
belonged. So then the Rag Doll had two fine black eyes brand new. She
was even nicknamed Black Eyes by some people.

There was a wedding when the Rag Doll married the Broom Handle. It was
a grand wedding with one of the grandest processions ever seen at a
rag doll wedding. And we are sure no broom handle ever had a grander
wedding procession when he got married.

Who marched in the procession? Well, first came the Spoon Lickers.
Every one of them had a tea spoon, or a soup spoon, though most of
them had a big table spoon. On the spoons, what did they have? Oh,
some had butter scotch, some had gravy, some had marshmallow fudge.
Every one had something slickery sweet or fat to eat on the spoon. And
as they marched in the wedding procession of the Rag Doll and the
Broom Handle, they licked their spoons and looked around and licked
their spoons again.

Next came the Tin Pan Bangers. Some had dishpans, some had frying
pans, some had potato peeling pans. All the pans were tin with tight
tin bottoms. And the Tin Pan Bangers banged with knives and forks and
iron and wooden bangers on the bottoms of the tin pans. And as they
marched in the wedding procession of the Rag Doll and the Broom Handle
they banged their pans and looked around and banged again.

Then came the Chocolate Chins. They were all eating chocolates. And
the chocolate was slippery and slickered all over their chins. Some of
them spattered the ends of their noses with black chocolate. Some of
them spread the brown chocolate nearly up to their ears. And then as
they marched in the wedding procession of the Rag Doll and the Broom
Handle they stuck their chins in the air and looked around and stuck
their chins in the air again.

Then came the Dirty Bibs. They wore plain white bibs, checker bibs,
stripe bibs, blue bibs and bibs with butterflies. But all the bibs
were dirty. The plain white bibs were dirty, the checker bibs were
dirty, the stripe bibs, the blue bibs and the bibs with butterflies on
them, they were all dirty. And so in the wedding procession of the Rag
Doll and the Broom Handle, the Dirty Bibs marched with their dirty
fingers on the bibs and they looked around and laughed and looked
around and laughed again.

Next came the Clean Ears. They were proud. How they got into the
procession nobody knows. Their ears were all clean. They were clean
not only on the outside but they were clean on the inside. There was
not a speck of dirt or dust or muss or mess on the inside nor the
outside of their ears. And so in the wedding procession of the Rag
Doll and the Broom Handle, they wiggled their ears and looked around
and wiggled their ears again.

The Easy Ticklers were next in the procession. Their faces were
shining. Their cheeks were like bars of new soap. Their ribs were
strong and the meat and the fat was thick on their ribs. It was plain
to see they were saying, "Don't tickle me because I tickle so easy."
And as they marched in the wedding procession of the Rag Doll and the
Broom Handle, they tickled themselves and laughed and looked around
and tickled themselves again.

The music was furnished mostly by the Musical Soup Eaters. They
marched with big bowls of soup in front of them and big spoons for
eating the soup. They whistled and chuzzled and snozzled the soup and
the noise they made could be heard far up at the head of the
procession where the Spoon Lickers were marching. So they dipped their
soup and looked around and dipped their soup again.

The Chubby Chubs were next. They were roly poly, round faced smackers
and snoozers. They were not fat babies--oh no, oh no--not fat but just
chubby and easy to squeeze. They marched on their chubby legs and
chubby feet and chubbed their chubbs and looked around and chubbed
their chubbs again.

The last of all in the wedding procession of the Rag Doll and the
Broom Handle were the Sleepyheads. They were smiling and glad to be
marching but their heads were slimpsing down and their smiles were
half fading away and their eyes were half shut or a little more than
half shut. They staggered just a little as though their feet were not
sure where they were going. They were the Sleepyheads, the last of
all, in the wedding procession of the Rag Doll and the Broom Handle
and the Sleepyheads they never looked around at all.

It _was_ a grand procession, don't you think so?

[Illustration]


                           [Illustration]

                 How the Hat Ashes Shovel Helped Snoo
                                 Foo


If you want to remember the names of all six of the Sniggers children,
remember that the three biggest were named Blink, Swink and Jink but
the three littlest ones were named Blunk, Swunk and Junk. One day last
January the three biggest had a fuss with the three littlest. The fuss
was about a new hat for Snoo Foo, the snow man, about what kind of a
hat he should wear and how he should wear it. Blink, Swink and Jink
said, "He wants a crooked hat put on straight." Blunk, Swunk and Junk
said, "He wants a straight hat put on crooked." They fussed and
fussed. Blink fussed with Blunk, Swink fussed with Swunk, and Jink
fussed with Junk. The first ones to make up after the fuss were Jink
and Junk. They decided the best way to settle the fuss. "Let's put a
crooked hat on crooked," said Jink. "No, let's put a straight hat on
straight," said Junk. Then they stood looking and looking into each
other's shiny laughing eyes and then both of them exploded to each
other at the same time, "Let's put on two hats, a crooked hat crooked
and a straight hat straight."

Well, they looked around for hats. But there were not any hats
anywhere, that is, no hats big enough for a snow man with a big head
like Snoo Foo. So they went in the house and asked their mother for
_the hat ashes shovel_. Of course, in most any other house, the mother
would be all worried if six children came tramping and clomping in,
banging the door and all six ejaculating to their mother at once,
"Where is the hat ashes shovel?" But Missus Sniggers wasn't worried at
all. She rubbed her chin with her finger and said softly, "Oh lah de
dah, oh lah de dah, where is that hat ashes shovel, last week I had it
when I was making a hat for Mister Sniggers; I remember I had that hat
ashes shovel right up here over the clock, oh lah de dah, oh lah de
dah. Go out and ring the front door bell," she said to Jink Sniggers.
Jink ran away to the front door. And Missus Sniggers and the five
children waited. Bling-bling the bell began ringing and--listen--the
door of the clock opened and the hat ashes shovel fell out. "Oh lah de
dah, get out of here in a hurry," said Missus Sniggers.

Well, the children ran out and dug a big pail of hat ashes with the
hat ashes shovel. And they made two hats for Snoo Foo. One was a
crooked hat. The other was a straight hat. And they put the crooked
hat on crooked and the straight hat on straight. And there stood Snoo
Foo in the front yard and everybody who came by on the street, he
would take off his hat to them, the crooked hat with his arm crooked
and the straight hat with his arm straight. That was the end of the
fuss between the Sniggers children and it was Jink, the littlest one
of the biggest, and Junk, the littlest one of the littlest, who
settled the fuss by looking clean into each other's eyes and laughing.
If you ever get into a fuss try this way of settling it.


                            [Illustration]

                 Three Boys With Jugs of Molasses and
                           Secret Ambitions


In the Village of Liver-and-Onions, if _one_ boy goes to the grocery
for a jug of molasses it is just like always. And if _two_ boys go to
the grocery for a jug of molasses together it is just like always. But
if _three_ boys go to the grocery for a jug of molasses each and all
together then it is not like always at all, at all.

Eeta Peeca Pie grew up with wishes and wishes working inside him. And
for every wish inside him he had a freckle outside on his face.
Whenever he smiled the smile ran way back into the far side of his
face and got lost in the wishing freckles.

Meeny Miney grew up with suspicions and suspicions working inside him.
And after a while some of the suspicions got fastened on his eyes and
some of the suspicions got fastened on his mouth. So when he looked at
other people straight in the face they used to say, "Meeny Miney looks
so sad-like I wonder if he'll get by."

Miney Mo was different. He wasn't sad-like and suspicious like Meeny
Miney. Nor was he full of wishes inside and freckles outside like Eeta
Peeca Pie. He was all mixed up inside with wishes and suspicions. So
he had a few freckles and a few suspicions on his face. When he looked
other people straight in the face they used to say, "I don't know
whether to laugh or cry."

So here we have 'em, three boys growing up with wishes, suspicions and
mixed-up wishes and suspicions. They all looked different from each
other. Each one, however, had a secret ambition. And all three had the
same secret ambition.

An ambition is a little creeper that creeps and creeps in your heart
night and day, singing a little song, "Come and find me, come and find
me."

The secret ambition in the heart of Eeta Peeca Pie, Meeney Miney, and
Miney Mo was an ambition to go railroading, to ride on railroad cars
night and day, year after year. The whistles and the wheels of
railroad trains were music to them.

Whenever the secret ambition crept in their hearts and made them too
sad, so sad it was hard to live and stand for it, they would all three
put their hands on each other's shoulder and sing the song of Joe. The
chorus was like this:

                   Joe, Joe, broke his toe,
                   On the way to Mexico.
                   Came back, broke his back,
                   Sliding on the railroad track.

One fine summer morning all three mothers of all three boys gave each
one a jug and said, "Go to the grocery and get a jug of molasses." All
three got to the grocery at the same time. And all three went out of
the door of the grocery together, each with a jug of molasses together
and each with his secret ambition creeping around in his heart, all
three together.

Two blocks from the grocery they stopped under a slippery elm tree.
Eeta Peeca Pie was stretching his neck looking straight up into the
slippery elm tree. He said it was always good for his freckles and it
helped his wishes to stand under a slippery elm and look up.

While he was looking up his left hand let go the jug handle of the jug
of molasses. And the jug went ka-flump, ka-flumpety-flump down on the
stone sidewalk, cracked to pieces and let the molasses go running out
over the sidewalk.

If you have never seen it, let me tell you molasses running out of a
broken jug, over a stone sidewalk under a slippery elm tree, looks
peculiar and mysterious.

[Illustration: They stepped into the molasses with their bare feet]

Eeta Peeca Pie stepped into the molasses with his bare feet. "It's a
lotta fun," he said. "It tickles all over." So Meeney Miney and Miney
Mo both stepped into the molasses with their bare feet.

Then what happened just happened. One got littler. Another got
littler. All three got littler.

"You look to me only big as a potato bug," said Eeta Peeca Pie to
Meeney Miney and Miney Mo. "It's the same like you look to us," said
Meeney Miney and Miney Mo to Eeta Peeca Pie. And then because their
secret ambition began to hurt them they all stood with hands on each
other's shoulders and sang the Mexico Joe song.

Off the sidewalk they strolled, across a field of grass. They passed
many houses of spiders and ants. In front of one house they saw Mrs.
Spider over a tub washing clothes for Mr. Spider.

"Why do you wear that frying pan on your head?" they asked her.

"In this country all ladies wear the frying pan on their head when
they want a hat."

"But what if you want a hat when you are frying with the frying pan?"
asked Eeta Peeca Pie.

"That never happens to any respectable lady in this country."

"Don't you never have no new style hats?" asked Meeney Miney.

"No, but we always have new style frying pans every spring and fall."

Hidden in the roots of a pink grass clump, they came to a city of
twisted-nose spiders. On the main street was a store with a show
window full of pink parasols. They walked in and said to the clerk,
"We want to buy parasols."

"We don't sell parasols here," said the spider clerk.

"Well, lend us a parasol apiece," said all three.

"Gladly, most gladly," said the clerk.

"How do you do it?" asked Eeta.

"I don't have to," answered the spider clerk.

"How did it begin?"

"It never was otherwise."

"Don't you never get tired?"

"Every parasol is a joy."

"What do you do when the parasols are gone?"

"They always come back. These are the famous twisted-nose parasols made
from the famous pink grass. You will lose them all, all three. Then
they will all walk back to me here in this store on main street. I can
not sell you something I know you will surely lose. Neither can I ask
you to pay, for something you will forget, somewhere sometime, and when
you forget it, it will walk back here to me again. Look--look!"

As he said "Look," the door opened and five pink parasols came
waltzing in and waltzed up into the show window.

"They always come back. Everybody forgets. Take your parasols and go.
You will forget them and they will come back to me."

"He looks like he had wishes inside him," said Eeta Peeca Pie.

"He looks like he had suspicions," said Meeney Miney.

"He looks like he was all mixed up wishes and suspicions," said Miney
Mo.

And once more because they all felt lonesome and their secret
ambitions were creeping and eating, they put their hands on their
shoulders and sang the Mexico Joe song.

Then came happiness. They entered the Potato Bug Country. And they had
luck first of all the first hour they were in the Potato Bug Country.
They met a Potato Bug millionaire.

"How are you a millionaire?" they asked him.

"Because I got a million," he answered.

"A million what?"

"A million _fleems_."

"Who wants fleems?"

"You want fleems if you're going to live here."

"Why so?"

"Because fleems is our money. In the Potato Bug Country, if you got no
fleems you can't buy nothing nor anything. But if you got a million
fleems you're a Potato Bug millionaire."

Then he surprised them.

"I like you because you got wishes and freckles," he said to Eeta
Peeca Pie, filling the pockets of Eeta with fleems.

"And I like you because you got suspicions and you're sad-like," he
said to Meeney Miney filling Meeney Miney's pockets full of fleems.

"And I like you because you got some wishes and some suspicions and
you look mixed up," he said to Miney Mo, sticking handfuls and
handfuls of fleems into the pockets of Miney Mo.

Wishes do come true. And suspicions do come true. Here they had been
wishing all their lives, and had suspicions of what was going to
happen, and now it all came true.

With their pockets filled with fleems they rode on all the railroad
trains of the Potato Bug Country. They went to the railroad stations
and bought tickets for the fast trains and the slow trains and even
the trains that back up and run backward instead of where they start
to go.

On the dining cars of the railroads of the Potato Bug Country they ate
wonder ham from the famous Potato Bug Pigs, eggs from the Potato Bug
Hens, et cetera.

It seemed to them they stayed a long while in the Potato Bug Country,
years and years. Yes, the time came when all their fleems were gone.
Then whenever they wanted a railroad ride or something to eat or a
place to sleep, they put their hands on each other's shoulders and
sang the Mexico Joe song. In the Potato Bug Country they all said the
Mexico Joe song was wonderful.

One morning while they were waiting to take an express train on the
Early Ohio & Southwestern they sat near the roots of a big potato
plant under the big green leaves. And far above them they saw a dim
black cloud and they heard a shaking and a rustling and a spattering.
They did not know it was a man of the Village of Liver-and-Onions.
They did not know it was Mr. Sniggers putting paris green on the
potato plants.

A big drop of paris green spattered down and fell onto the heads and
shoulders of all three, Eeta Peeca Pie, Meeny Miney and Miney Mo.

Then what happened just happened. They got bigger and bigger--one,
two, three. And when they jumped up and ran out of the potato rows,
Mr. Sniggers thought they were boys playing tricks.

When they got home to their mothers and told all about the jug of
molasses breaking on the stone sidewalk under the slippery elm tree,
their mothers said it was careless. The boys said it was lucky because
it helped them get their secret ambitions.

And a secret ambition is a little creeper that creeps and creeps in
your heart night and day, singing a little song, "Come and find me,
come and find me."

[Illustration]


                           [Illustration]

                 How Bimbo the Snip's Thumb Stuck to
                    His Nose When the Wind Changed


Once there was a boy in the Village of Liver-and-Onions whose name was
Bimbo the Snip. He forgot nearly everything his father and mother told
him to do and told him not to do.

One day his father, Bevo the Hike, came home and found Bimbo the Snip
sitting on the front steps with his thumb fastened to his nose and the
fingers wiggling.

"I can't take my thumb away," said Bimbo the Snip, "because when I put
my thumb to my nose and wiggled my fingers at the iceman the wind
changed. And just like mother always said, if the wind changed the
thumb would stay fastened to my nose and not come off."

Bevo the Hike took hold of the thumb and pulled. He tied a clothes
line rope around it and pulled. He pushed with his foot and heel
against it. And all the time the thumb stuck fast and the fingers
wiggled from the end of the nose of Bimbo the Snip.

Bevo the Hike sent for the ward alderman. The ward alderman sent for
the barn boss of the street cleaning department. The barn boss of the
street cleaning department sent for the head vaccinator of the
vaccination bureau of the health department. The head vaccinator of
the vaccination bureau of the health department sent for the big main
fixer of the weather bureau where they understand the tricks of the
wind and the wind changing.

And the big main fixer of the weather bureau said, "If you hit the
thumb six times with the end of a traffic policeman's club, the thumb
will come loose."

So Bevo the Hike went to a traffic policeman standing on a street
corner with a whistle telling the wagons and cars which way to go.

He told the traffic policeman, "The wind changed and Bimbo the Snip's
thumb is fastened to his nose and will not come loose till it is hit
six times with the end of a traffic policeman's club."

"I can't help you unless you find a monkey to take my place standing
on the corner telling the wagons and cars which way to go," answered
the traffic policeman.

So Bevo the Hike went to the zoo and said to a monkey, "The wind
changed and Bimbo the Snip's thumb is fastened to his nose and will
not come loose till it is hit with the end of a traffic policeman's
club six times and the traffic policeman cannot leave his place on the
street corner telling the traffic which way to go unless a monkey
comes and takes his place."

The monkey answered, "Get me a ladder with a whistle so I can climb up
and whistle and tell the traffic which way to go."

So Bevo the Hike hunted and hunted over the city and looked and looked
and asked and asked till his feet and his eyes and his head and his
heart were tired from top to bottom.

Then he met an old widow woman whose husband had been killed in a
sewer explosion when he was digging sewer ditches. And the old woman
was carrying a bundle of picked-up kindling wood in a bag on her back
because she did not have money enough to buy coal.

Bevo the Hike told her, "You have troubles. So have I. You are
carrying a load on your back people can see. I am carrying a load and
nobody sees it."

"Tell me your troubles," said the old widow woman. He told her. And
she said, "In the next block is an old umbrella handle maker. He has a
ladder with a whistle. He climbs on the ladder when he makes long long
umbrella handles. And he has the whistle on the ladder to be
whistling."

Bevo the Hike went to the next block, found the house of the umbrella
handle maker and said to him, "The wind changed and Bimbo the Snip's
thumb is fastened to his nose and will not come loose till it is hit
with the end of a traffic policeman's club six times and the traffic
policeman cannot leave the corner where he is telling the traffic
which way to go unless a monkey takes his place and the monkey cannot
take his place unless he has a ladder with a whistle to stand on and
whistle the wagons and cars which way to go."

Then the umbrella handle maker said, "To-night I have a special job
because I must work on a long, long umbrella handle and I will need
the ladder to climb up and the whistle to be whistling. But if you
promise to have the ladder back by to-night you can take it."

Bevo the Hike promised. Then he took the ladder with a whistle to the
monkey, the monkey took the place of the traffic policeman while the
traffic policeman went to the home of Bevo the Hike where Bimbo the
Snip was sitting on the front steps with his thumb fastened to his
nose wiggling his fingers at everybody passing by on the street.

The traffic policeman hit Bimbo the Snip's thumb five times with the
club. And the thumb stuck fast. But the sixth time it was hit with the
end of the traffic policeman's thumb club, it came loose.

Then Bevo thanked the policeman, thanked the monkey, and took the
ladder with the whistle back to the umbrella handle maker's house and
thanked him.

When Bevo the Hike got home that night Bimbo the Snip was in bed and
all tickled. He said to his father, "I will be careful how I stick my
thumb to my nose and wiggle my fingers the next time the wind
changes."

[Illustration: The monkey took the place of the traffic policeman]


----------------------------------------------------------------------


5. Three Stories About Three
   Ways the Wind Went Winding

          _People_: Two Skyscrapers
                    The Northwest Wind
                    The Golden Spike Limited Train
                    A Tin Brass Goat
                    A Tin Brass Goose
                    Newsies

                    Young Leather
                    Red Slippers
                    A Man to be Hanged
                    Five Jackrabbits

                    The Wooden Indian
                    The Shaghorn Buffalo
                    The Night Policeman


                            [Illustration]

                  The Two Skyscrapers Who Decided to
                             Have a Child


Two skyscrapers stood across the street from each other in the Village
of Liver-and-Onions. In the daylight when the streets poured full of
people buying and selling, these two skyscrapers talked with each
other the same as mountains talk.

In the night time when all the people buying and selling were gone
home and there were only policemen and taxicab drivers on the streets,
in the night when a mist crept up the streets and threw a purple and
gray wrapper over everything, in the night when the stars and the sky
shook out sheets of purple and gray mist down over the town, then the
two skyscrapers leaned toward each other and whispered.

Whether they whispered secrets to each other or whether they whispered
simple things that you and I know and everybody knows, that is their
secret. One thing is sure: they often were seen leaning toward each
other and whispering in the night the same as mountains lean and
whisper in the night.

High on the roof of one of the skyscrapers was a tin brass goat
looking out across prairies, and silver blue lakes shining like blue
porcelain breakfast plates, and out across silver snakes of winding
rivers in the morning sun. And high on the roof of the other
skyscraper was a tin brass goose looking out across prairies, and
silver blue lakes shining like blue porcelain breakfast plates, and
out across silver snakes of winding rivers in the morning sun.

Now the Northwest Wind was a friend of the two skyscrapers. Coming so
far, coming five hundred miles in a few hours, coming so fast always
while the skyscrapers were standing still, standing always on the same
old street corners always, the Northwest Wind was a bringer of news.

"Well, I see the city is here yet," the Northwest Wind would whistle
to the skyscrapers.

And they would answer, "Yes, and are the mountains standing yet way
out yonder where you come from, Wind?"

"Yes, the mountains are there yonder, and farther yonder is the sea,
and the railroads are still going, still running across the prairie to
the mountains, to the sea," the Northwest Wind would answer.

And now there was a pledge made by the Northwest Wind to the two
skyscrapers. Often the Northwest Wind shook the tin brass goat and
shook the tin brass goose on top of the skyscrapers.

"Are you going to blow loose the tin brass goat on my roof?" one
asked.

"Are you going to blow loose the tin brass goose on my roof?" the
other asked.

"Oh, no," the Northwest Wind laughed, first to one and then to the
other, "if I ever blow loose your tin brass goat and if I ever blow
loose your tin brass goose, it will be when I am sorry for you because
you are up against hard luck and there is somebody's funeral."

So time passed on and the two skyscrapers stood with their feet among
the policemen and the taxicabs, the people buying and selling,--the
customers with parcels, packages and bundles--while away high on their
roofs stood the goat and the goose looking out on silver blue lakes
like blue porcelain breakfast plates and silver snakes of rivers
winding in the morning sun.

So time passed on and the Northwest Wind kept coming, telling the news
and making promises.

So time passed on. And the two skyscrapers decided to have a child.

And they decided when their child came it should be a _free_ child.

"It must be a free child," they said to each other. "It must not be a
child standing still all its life on a street corner. Yes, if we have
a child she must be free to run across the prairie, to the mountains,
to the sea. Yes, it must be a free child."

So time passed on. Their child came. It was a railroad train, the
Golden Spike Limited, the fastest long distance train in the Rootabaga
Country. It ran across the prairie, to the mountains, to the sea.

They were glad, the two skyscrapers were, glad to have a free child
running away from the big city, far away to the mountains, far away to
the sea, running as far as the farthest mountains and sea coasts
touched by the Northwest Wind.

They were glad their child was useful, the two skyscrapers were, glad
their child was carrying a thousand people a thousand miles a day, so
when people spoke of the Golden Spike Limited, they spoke of it as a
strong, lovely child.

Then time passed on. There came a day when the newsies yelled as
though they were crazy. "Yah yah, blah blah, yoh yoh," was what it
sounded like to the two skyscrapers who never bothered much about what
the newsies were yelling.

"Yah yah, blah blah, yoh yoh," was the cry of the newsies that came up
again to the tops of the skyscrapers.

At last the yelling of the newsies came so strong the skyscrapers
listened and heard the newsies yammering, "All about the great train
wreck! All about the Golden Spike disaster! Many lives lost! Many
lives lost!"

And the Northwest Wind came howling a slow sad song. And late that
afternoon a crowd of policemen, taxicab drivers, newsies and customers
with bundles, all stood around talking and wondering about two things
next to each other on the street car track in the middle of the
street. One was a tin brass goat. The other was a tin brass goose. And
they lay next to each other.


                           [Illustration]

                  The Dollar Watch and the Five Jack
                               Rabbits


Long ago, long before the waylacks lost the wonderful stripes of oat
straw gold and the spots of timothy hay green in their marvelous
curving tail feathers, long before the doo-doo-jangers whistled among
the honeysuckle blossoms and the bitter-basters cried their last and
dying wrangling cries, long before the sad happenings that came later,
it was then, some years earlier than the year Fifty Fifty, that Young
Leather and Red Slippers crossed the Rootabaga Country.

To begin with, they were walking across the Rootabaga Country. And
they were walking because it made their feet glad to feel the dirt of
the earth under their shoes and they were close to the smells of the
earth. They learned the ways of birds and bugs, why birds have wings,
why bugs have legs, why the gladdywhingers have spotted eggs in a
basket nest in a booblow tree, and why the chizzywhizzies scrape off
little fiddle songs all summer long while the summer nights last.

Early one morning they were walking across the corn belt of the
Rootabaga Country singing, "Deep Down Among the Dagger Dancers." They
had just had a breakfast of coffee and hot hankypank cakes covered
with cow's butter. Young Leather said to Red Slippers, "What is the
best secret we have come across this summer?"

"That is easy to answer," Red Slippers said with a long flish of her
long black eyelashes. "The best secret we have come across is a rope
of gold hanging from every star in the sky and when we want to go up
we go up."

Walking on they came to a town where they met a man with a sorry face.
"Why?" they asked him. And he answered, "My brother is in jail."

"What for?" they asked him again. And he answered again, "My brother
put on a straw hat in the middle of the winter and went out on the
streets laughing; my brother had his hair cut pompompadour and went
out on the streets bareheaded in the summertime laughing; and these
things were against the law. Worst of all he sneezed at the wrong time
and he sneezed before the wrong persons; he sneezed when it was not
wise to sneeze. So he will be hanged to-morrow morning. The gallows
made of lumber and the rope made of hemp--they are waiting for him
to-morrow morning. They will tie around his neck the hangman's necktie
and hoist him high."

The man with a sorry face looked more sorry than ever. It made Young
Leather feel reckless and it made Red Slippers feel reckless. They
whispered to each other. Then Young Leather said, "Take this dollar
watch. Give it to your brother. Tell him when they are leading him to
the gallows he must take this dollar watch in his hand, wind it up and
push on the stem winder. The rest will be easy."

So the next morning when they were leading the man to be hanged to the
gallows made of lumber and the rope made of hemp, where they were
going to hoist him high because he sneezed in the wrong place before
the wrong people, he used his fingers winding up the watch and pushing
on the stem winder. There was a snapping and a slatching like a gas
engine slipping into a big pair of dragon fly wings. The dollar watch
changed into a dragon fly ship. The man who was going to be hanged
jumped into the dragon fly ship and flew whonging away before anybody
could stop him.

Young Leather and Red Slippers were walking out of the town laughing
and singing again, "Deep Down Among the Dagger Dancers." The man with
a sorry face, not so sorry now any more, came running after them.
Behind the man and running after him were five long-legged spider
jack-rabbits.

"These are for you," was his exclamation. And they all sat down on the
stump of a booblow tree. He opened his sorry face and told the secrets
of the five long-legged spider jack-rabbits to Young Leather and Red
Slippers. They waved good-by and went on up the road leading the five
new jack-rabbits.

In the next town they came to was a skyscraper higher than all the
other skyscrapers. A rich man dying wanted to be remembered and left
in his last will and testament a command they should build a building
so high it would scrape the thunder clouds and stand higher than all
other skyscrapers with his name carved in stone letters on the top of
it, and an electric sign at night with his name on it, and a clock on
the tower with his name on it.

"I am hungry to be remembered and have my name spoken by many people
after I am dead," the rich man told his friends. "I command you,
therefore, to throw the building high in the air because the higher it
goes the longer I will be remembered and the longer the years men will
mention my name after I am dead."

So there it was. Young Leather and Red Slippers laughed when they
first saw the skyscraper, when they were far off along a country road
singing their old song, "Deep Down Among the Dagger Dancers."

"We got a show and we give a performance and we want the whole town to
see it," was what Young Leather and Red Slippers said to the mayor of
the town when they called on him at the city hall. "We want a license
and a permit to give this free show in the public square."

"What do you do?" asked the mayor.

"We jump five jack-rabbits, five long-legged spider jack-rabbits over
the highest skyscraper you got in your city," they answered him.

"If it's free and you don't sell anything nor take any money away from
us while it is daylight and you are giving your performance, then here
is your license permit," said the mayor speaking in the manner of a
politician who has studied politics.

Thousands of people came to see the show on the public square. They
wished to know how it would look to see five long-legged, spider
jack-rabbits jump over the highest skyscraper in the city.

Four of the jack-rabbits had stripes. The fifth had stripes--and
spots. Before they started the show Young Leather and Red Slippers
held the jack-rabbits one by one in their arms and petted them, rubbed
the feet and rubbed the long ears and ran their fingers along the long
legs of the jumpers.

"Zingo," they yelled to the first jack-rabbit. He got all ready. "And
now zingo!" they yelled again. And the jack-rabbit took a run, lifted
off his feet and went on and on and up and up till he went over the
roof of the skyscraper and then went down and down till he lit on his
feet and came running on his long legs back to the public square where
he started from, back where Young Leather and Red Slippers petted him
and rubbed his long ears and said, "That's the boy."

Then three jack-rabbits made the jump over the skyscraper. "Zingo,"
they heard and got ready. "And now zingo," they heard and all three
together in a row, their long ears touching each other, they lifted
off their feet and went on and on and up and up till they cleared the
roof of the skyscraper. Then they came down and down till they lit on
their feet and came running to the hands of Young Leather and Red
Slippers to have their long legs and their long ears rubbed and
petted.

Then came the turn of the fifth jack-rabbit, the beautiful one with
stripes and spots. "Ah, we're sorry to see you go, Ah-h, we're sorry,"
they said, rubbing his long ears and feeling of his long legs.

Then Young Leather and Red Slippers kissed him on the nose, kissed the
last and fifth of the five long-legged spider jack-rabbits.

"Good-by, old bunny, good-by, you're the dandiest bunny there ever
was," they whispered in his long ears. And he, because he knew what
they were saying and why they were saying it, he wiggled his long ears
and looked long and steady at them from his deep eyes.

"Zango," they yelled. He got ready. "And now zango!" they yelled
again. And the fifth jack-rabbit with his stripes and spots lifted off
his feet and went on and on and on and up and up and when he came to
the roof of the skyscraper he kept on going on and on and up and up
till after a while he was gone all the way out of sight.

They waited and watched, they watched and waited. He never came back.
He never was heard of again. He was gone. With the stripes on his back
and the spots on his hair, he was gone. And Young Leather and Red
Slippers said they were glad they had kissed him on the nose before he
went away on a long trip far off, so far off he never came back.

[Illustration]


                           [Illustration]

                  The Wooden Indian and the Shaghorn
                               Buffalo


One night a milk white moon was shining down on Main Street. The
sidewalks and the stones, the walls and the windows all stood out milk
white. And there was a thin blue mist drifted and shifted like a
woman's veil up and down Main Street, up to the moon and back again.
Yes, all Main Street was a mist blue and a milk white, mixed up and
soft all over and all through.

It was past midnight. The Wooden Indian in front of the cigar store
stepped down off his stand. The Shaghorn Buffalo in front of the
haberdasher shop lifted his head and shook his whiskers, raised his
hoofs out of his hoof-tracks.

Then--this is what happened. They moved straight toward each other. In
the middle of Main Street they met. The Wooden Indian jumped straddle
of the Shaghorn Buffalo. And the Shaghorn Buffalo put his head down
and ran like a prairie wind straight west on Main Street.

At the high hill over the big bend of the Clear Green River they
stopped. They stood looking. Drifting and shifting like a woman's blue
veil, the blue mist filled the valley and the milk white moon filled
the valley. And the mist and the moon touched with a lingering,
wistful kiss the clear green water of the Clear Green River.

So they stood looking, the Wooden Indian with his copper face and
wooden feathers, and the Shaghorn Buffalo with his big head and heavy
shoulders slumping down close to the ground.

[Illustration: So they stood looking]

And after they had looked a long while, and each of them got an eyeful
of the high hill, the big bend and the moon mist on the river all blue
and white and soft, after they had looked a long while, they turned
around and the Shaghorn Buffalo put his head down and ran like a
prairie wind down Main Street till he was exactly in front of the
cigar store and the haberdasher shop. Then whisk! both of them were
right back like they were before, standing still, taking whatever
comes.

This is the story as it came from the night policeman of the Village
of Cream Puffs. He told the people the next day, "I was sitting on the
steps of the cigar store last night watching for burglars. And when I
saw the Wooden Indian step down and the Shaghorn Buffalo step out, and
the two of them go down Main Street like the wind, I says to myself,
marvelish, 'tis marvelish, 'tis marvelish."


----------------------------------------------------------------------


6. Four Stories About
   Dear, Dear Eyes

          _People_: The White Horse Girl
                    The Blue Wind Boy
                    The Gray Man on Horseback
                    Six Girls With Balloons

                    Henry Hagglyhoagly
                    Susan Slackentwist
                    Two Wool Yarn Mittens

                    Peter Potato Blossom Wishes
                    Her Father
                    Many Shoes
                    Slippers
                    A Slipper Moon


                            [Illustration]

                The White Horse Girl and the Blue Wind
                                 Boy


When the dishes are washed at night time and the cool of the evening
has come in summer or the lamps and fires are lit for the night in
winter, then the fathers and mothers in the Rootabaga Country
sometimes tell the young people the story of the White Horse Girl and
the Blue Wind Boy.

The White Horse Girl grew up far in the west of the Rootabaga Country.
All the years she grew up as a girl she liked to ride horses. Best of
all things for her was to be straddle of a white horse loping with a
loose bridle among the hills and along the rivers of the west
Rootabaga Country.

She rode one horse white as snow, another horse white as new washed
sheep wool, and another white as silver. And she could not tell
because she did not know which of these three white horses she liked
best.

"Snow is beautiful enough for me any time," she said, "new washed
sheep wool, or silver out of a ribbon of the new moon, any or either
is white enough for me. I like the white manes, the white flanks, the
white noses, the white feet of all my ponies. I like the forelocks
hanging down between the white ears of all three--my ponies."

And living neighbor to the White Horse Girl in the same prairie
country, with the same black crows flying over their places, was the
Blue Wind Boy. All the years he grew up as a boy he liked to walk with
his feet in the dirt and the grass listening to the winds. Best of all
things for him was to put on strong shoes and go hiking among the
hills and along the rivers of the west Rootabaga Country, listening to
the winds.

There was a blue wind of day time, starting sometimes six o'clock on a
summer morning or eight o'clock on a winter morning. And there was a
night wind with blue of summer stars in summer and blue of winter
stars in winter. And there was yet another, a blue wind of the times
between night and day, a blue dawn and evening wind. All three of
these winds he liked so well he could not say which he liked best.

"The early morning wind is strong as the prairie and whatever I tell
it I know it believes and remembers," he said, "and the night wind
with the big dark curves of the night sky in it, the night wind gets
inside of me and understands all my secrets. And the blue wind of the
times between, in the dusk when it is neither night nor day, this is
the wind that asks me questions and tells me to wait and it will bring
me whatever I want."

Of course, it happened as it had to happen, the White Horse Girl and
the Blue Wind Boy met. She, straddling one of her white horses, and
he, wearing his strong hiking shoes in the dirt and the grass, it had
to happen they should meet among the hills and along the rivers of the
west Rootabaga Country where they lived neighbors.

And of course, she told him all about the snow white horse and the
horse white as new washed sheep wool and the horse white as a silver
ribbon of the new moon. And he told her all about the blue winds he
liked listening to, the early morning wind, the night sky wind, and
the wind of the dusk between, the wind that asked him questions and
told him to wait.

One day the two of them were gone. On the same day of the week the
White Horse Girl and the Blue Wind Boy went away. And their fathers
and mothers and sisters and brothers and uncles and aunts wondered
about them and talked about them, because they didn't tell anybody
beforehand they were going. Nobody at all knew beforehand or afterward
why they were going away, the real honest why of it.

They left a short letter. It read:

  _To All Our Sweethearts, Old Folks and Young Folks:_

  _We have started to go where the white horses come from and where
  the blue winds begin. Keep a corner in your hearts for us while
  we are gone._

                                              _The White Horse Girl._
                                                 _The Blue Wind Boy._

That was all they had to guess by in the west Rootabaga Country, to
guess and guess where two darlings had gone.

Many years passed. One day there came riding across the Rootabaga
Country a Gray Man on Horseback. He looked like he had come a long
ways. So they asked him the question they always asked of any rider
who looked like he had come a long ways, "Did you ever see the White
Horse Girl and the Blue Wind Boy?"

"Yes," he answered, "I saw them.

"It was a long, long ways from here I saw them," he went on, "it would
take years and years to ride to where they are. They were sitting
together and talking to each other, sometimes singing, in a place
where the land runs high and tough rocks reach up. And they were
looking out across water, blue water as far as the eye could see. And
away far off the blue waters met the blue sky.

"'Look!' said the Boy, 'that's where the blue winds begin.'

"And far out on the blue waters, just a little this side of where the
blue winds begin, there were white manes, white flanks, white noses,
white galloping feet.

"'Look!' said the Girl, 'that's where the white horses come from.'

"And then nearer to the land came thousands in an hour, millions in a
day, white horses, some white as snow, some like new washed sheep
wool, some white as silver ribbons of the new moon.

"I asked them, 'Whose place is this?' They answered, 'It belongs to
us; this is what we started for; this is where the white horses come
from; this is where the blue winds begin.'"

And that was all the Gray Man on Horseback would tell the people of
the west Rootabaga Country. That was all he knew, he said, and if
there was any more he would tell it.

And the fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers and uncles and
aunts of the White Horse Girl and the Blue Wind Boy wondered and
talked often about whether the Gray Man on Horseback made up the story
out of his head or whether it happened just like he told it.

Anyhow this is the story they tell sometimes to the young people of
the west Rootabaga Country when the dishes are washed at night and the
cool of the evening has come in summer or the lamps and fires are lit
for the night in winter.


                            [Illustration]

                What Six Girls with Balloons Told the
                        Gray Man on Horseback


Once there came riding across the Rootabaga Country a Gray Man on
Horseback. He looked as if he had come a long ways. He looked like a
brother to the same Gray Man on Horseback who said he had seen the
White Horse Girl and the Blue Wind Boy.

He stopped in the Village of Cream Puffs. His gray face was sad and
his eyes were gray deep and sad. He spoke short and seemed strong.
Sometimes his eyes looked as if they were going to flash, but instead
of fire they filled with shadows.

Yet--he did laugh once. It did happen once he lifted his head and face
to the sky and let loose a long ripple of laughs.

On Main Street near the Roundhouse of the Big Spool, where they wind
up the string that pulls the light little town back when the wind
blows it away, there he was riding slow on his gray horse when he met
six girls with six fine braids of yellow hair and six balloons apiece.
That is, each and every one of the six girls had six fine long braids
of yellow hair and each braid of hair had a balloon tied on the end. A
little blue wind was blowing and the many balloons tied to the braids
of the six girls swung up and down and slow and fast whenever the blue
wind went up and down and slow and fast.

For the first time since he had been in the Village, the eyes of the
Gray Man filled with lights and his face began to look hopeful. He
stopped his horse when he came even with the six girls and the
balloons floating from the braids of yellow hair.

"Where you going?" he asked.

"Who--hoo-hoo? Who--who--who?" the six girls cheeped out.

"All six of you and your balloons, where you going?"

"Oh, hoo-hoo-hoo, back where we came from," and they all turned their
heads back and forth and sideways, which of course turned all the
balloons back and forth and sideways because the balloons were
fastened to the fine braids of hair which were fastened to their
heads.

"And where do you go when you get back where you came from?" he asked
just to be asking.

"Oh, hoo-hoo-hoo, then we start out and go straight ahead and see what
we can see," they all answered just to be answering and they dipped
their heads and swung them up which of course dipped all the balloons
and swung them up.

So they talked, he asking just to be asking and the six balloon girls
answering just to be answering.

At last his sad mouth broke into a smile and his eyes were lit like a
morning sun coming up over harvest fields. And he said to them, "Tell
me why are balloons--that is what I want you to tell me--why are
balloons?"

The first little girl put her thumb under her chin, looked up at her
six balloons floating in the little blue wind over her head, and said:
"Balloons are wishes. The wind made them. The west wind makes the red
balloons. The south wind makes the blue. The yellow and green balloons
come from the east wind and the north wind."

The second little girl put her first finger next to her nose, looked
up at her six balloons dipping up and down like hill flowers in a
small wind, and said:

"A balloon used to be a flower. It got tired. Then it changed itself
to a balloon. I listened one time to a yellow balloon. It was talking
to itself like people talk. It said, 'I used to be a yellow pumpkin
flower stuck down close to the ground, now I am a yellow balloon high
up in the air where nobody can walk on me and I can see everything.'"

The third little girl held both of her ears like she was afraid they
would wiggle while she slid with a skip, turned quick, and looking up
at her balloons, spoke these words:

"A balloon is foam. It comes the same as soap bubbles come. A long
time ago it used to be sliding along on water, river water, ocean
water, waterfall water, falling and falling over a rocky waterfall,
any water you want. The wind saw the bubble and picked it up and
carried it away, telling it, 'Now you're a balloon--come along and see
the world.'"

The fourth little girl jumped straight into the air so all six of her
balloons made a jump like they were going to get loose and go to the
sky--and when the little girl came down from her jump and was standing
on her two feet with her head turned looking up at the six balloons,
she spoke the shortest answer of all, saying:

"Balloons are to make us look up. They help our necks."

The fifth little girl stood first on one foot, then another, bent her
head down to her knees and looked at her toes, then swinging straight
up and looking at the flying spotted yellow and red and green
balloons, she said:

"Balloons come from orchards. Look for trees where half is oranges and
half is orange balloons. Look for apple trees where half is red
pippins and half is red pippin balloons. Look for watermelons too. A
long green balloon with white and yellow belly stripes is a ghost. It
came from a watermelon said good-by."

The sixth girl, the last one, kicked the heel of her left foot with
the toe of her right foot, put her thumbs under her ears and wiggled
all her fingers, then stopped all her kicking and wiggling, and stood
looking up at her balloons all quiet because the wind had gone
down--and she murmured like she was thinking to herself:

"Balloons come from fire chasers. Every balloon has a fire chaser
chasing it. All the fire chasers are made terrible quick and when they
come they burn quick, so the balloon is made light so it can run away
terrible quick. Balloons slip away from fire. If they don't they can't
be balloons. Running away from fire keeps them light."

All the time he listened to the six girls the face of the Gray Man
kept getting more hopeful. His eyes lit up. Twice he smiled. And after
he said good-by and rode up the street, he lifted his head and face to
the sky and let loose a long ripple of laughs.

He kept looking back when he left the Village and the last thing he
saw was the six girls each with six balloons fastened to the six
braids of yellow hair hanging down their backs.

The sixth little girl kicked the heel of her left foot with the toe of
her right foot and said, "He is a nice man. I think he must be our
uncle. If he comes again we shall all ask him to tell us where he
thinks balloons come from."

And the other five girls all answered, "Yes," or "Yes, yes," or "Yes,
yes, yes," real fast like a balloon with a fire chaser after it.


                            [Illustration]

                  How Henry Hagglyhoagly Played the
                      Guitar with His Mittens On


Sometimes in January the sky comes down close if we walk on a country
road, and turn our faces up to look at the sky.

Sometimes on that kind of a January night the stars look like numbers,
look like the arithmetic writing of a girl going to school and just
beginning arithmetic.

It was this kind of a night Henry Hagglyhoagly was walking down a
country road on his way to the home of Susan Slackentwist, the
daughter of the rutabaga king near the Village of Liver-and-Onions.
When Henry Hagglyhoagly turned his face up to look at the sky it
seemed to him as though the sky came down close to his nose, and there
was a writing in stars as though some girl had been doing arithmetic
examples, writing number 4 and number 7 and 4 and 7 over and over
again across the sky.

"Why is it so bitter cold weather?" Henry Hagglyhoagly asked himself,
"if I say many bitter bitters it is not so bitter as the cold wind and
the cold weather."

"You are good, mittens, keeping my fingers warm," he said every once
in a while to the wool yarn mittens on his hands.

The wind came tearing along and put its chilly, icy, clammy clamps on
the nose of Henry Hagglyhoagly, fastening the clamps like a nipping,
gripping clothes pin on his nose. He put his wool yarn mittens up on
his nose and rubbed till the wind took off the chilly, icy, clammy
clamps. His nose was warm again; he said, "Thank you, mittens, for
keeping my nose warm."

[Illustration: It seemed to him as though the sky came down close
to his nose]

He spoke to his wool yarn mittens as though they were two kittens or
pups, or two little cub bears, or two little Idaho ponies. "You're my
chums keeping me company," he said to the mittens.

"Do you know what we got here under our left elbow?" he said to the
mittens, "I shall mention to you what is here under my left elbow.

"It ain't a mandolin, it ain't a mouth organ nor an accordion nor a
concertina nor a fiddle. It is a guitar, a Spanish Spinnish Splishy
guitar made special.

"Yes, mittens, they said a strong young man like me ought to have a
piano because a piano is handy to play for everybody in the house and
a piano is handy to put a hat and overcoat on or books or flowers.

"I snizzled at 'em, mittens. I told 'em I seen a Spanish Spinnish
Splishy guitar made special in a hardware store window for eight
dollars and a half.

"And so, mittens--are you listening, mittens?--after cornhusking was
all husked and the oats thrashing all thrashed and the rutabaga
digging all dug, I took eight dollars and a half in my inside vest
pocket and I went to the hardware store.

"I put my thumbs in my vest pocket and I wiggled my fingers like a man
when he is proud of what he is going to have if he gets it. And I said
to the head clerk in the hardware store, 'Sir, the article I desire to
purchase this evening as one of your high class customers, the article
I desire to have after I buy it for myself, is the article there in
the window, sir, the Spanish Spinnish Splishy guitar.'

"And, mittens, if you are listening, I am taking this Spanish Spinnish
Splishy guitar to go to the home of Susan Slackentwist, the daughter
of the rutabaga king near the Village of Liver-and-Onions, to sing a
serenade song."

The cold wind of the bitter cold weather blew and blew, trying to blow
the guitar out from under the left elbow of Henry Hagglyhoagly. And
the worse the wind blew the tighter he held his elbow holding the
guitar where he wanted it.

He walked on and on with his long legs stepping long steps till at
last he stopped, held his nose in the air, and sniffed.

"Do I sniff something or do I not?" he asked, lifting his wool yarn
mittens to his nose and rubbing his nose till it was warm. Again he
sniffed.

"Ah hah, yeah, yeah, this is the big rutabaga field near the home of
the rutabaga king and the home of his daughter, Susan Slackentwist."

At last he came to the house, stood under the window and slung the
guitar around in front of him to play the music to go with the song.

"And now," he asked his mittens, "shall I take you off or keep you on?
If I take you off the cold wind of the bitter cold weather will freeze
my hands so stiff and bitter cold my fingers will be too stiff to play
the guitar. _I will play with mittens on._"

Which he did. He stood under the window of Susan Slackentwist and
played the guitar with his mittens on, the warm wool yarn mittens he
called his chums. It was the first time any strong young man going to
see his sweetheart ever played the guitar with his mittens on when it
was a bitter night with a cold wind and cold weather.

Susan Slackentwist opened her window and threw him a snow-bird feather
to keep for a keepsake to remember her by. And for years afterward
many a sweetheart in the Rootabaga Country told her lover, "If you
wish to marry me let me hear you under my window on a winter night
playing the guitar with wool yarn mittens on."

And when Henry Hagglyhoagly walked home on his long legs stepping long
steps, he said to his mittens, "This Spanish Spinnish Splishy guitar
made special will bring us luck." And when he turned his face up, the
sky came down close and he could see stars fixed like numbers and the
arithmetic writing of a girl going to school learning to write number
4 and number 7 and 4 and 7 over and over.

[Illustration]


                            [Illustration]

                   Never Kick a Slipper at the Moon


When a girl is growing up in the Rootabaga Country she learns some
things to do, some things _not_ to do.

"Never kick a slipper at the moon if it is the time for the Dancing
Slipper Moon when the slim early moon looks like the toe and the heel
of a dancer's foot," was the advice Mr. Wishes, the father of Peter
Potato Blossom Wishes, gave to his daughter.

"Why?" she asked him.

"Because your slipper will go straight up, on and on to the moon, and
fasten itself on the moon as if the moon is a foot ready for dancing,"
said Mr. Wishes.

"A long time ago there was one night when a secret word was passed
around to all the shoes standing in the bedrooms and closets.

"The whisper of the secret was: 'To-night all the shoes and the
slippers and the boots of the world are going walking without any feet
in them. To-night when those who put us on their feet in the daytime,
are sleeping in their beds, we all get up and walk and go walking
where we walk in the daytime.'

"And in the middle of the night, when the people in the beds were
sleeping, the shoes and the slippers and the boots everywhere walked
out of the bedrooms and the closets. Along the sidewalks on the
streets, up and down stairways, along hallways, the shoes and slippers
and the boots tramped and marched and stumbled.

"Some walked pussyfoot, sliding easy and soft just like people in the
daytime. Some walked clumping and clumping, coming down heavy on the
heels and slow on the toes, just like people in the daytime.

"Some turned their toes in and walked pigeon-toe, some spread their
toes out and held their heels in, just like people in the daytime.
Some ran glad and fast, some lagged slow and sorry.

"Now there was a little girl in the Village of Cream Puffs who came
home from a dance that night. And she was tired from dancing round
dances and square dances, one steps and two steps, toe dances and toe
and heel dances, dances close up and dances far apart, she was so
tired she took off only one slipper, tumbled onto her bed and went to
sleep with one slipper on.

"She woke up in the morning when it was yet dark. And she went to the
window and looked up in the sky and saw a Dancing Slipper Moon dancing
far and high in the deep blue sea of the moon sky.

"'Oh--what a moon--what a dancing slipper of a moon!' she cried with a
little song to herself.

"She opened the window, saying again, 'Oh! what a moon!'--and kicked
her foot with the slipper on it straight toward the moon.

"The slipper flew off and flew up and went on and on and up and up in
the moonshine.

"It never came back, that slipper. It was never seen again. When they
asked the girl about it she said, 'It slipped off my foot and went up
and up and the last I saw of it the slipper was going on straight to
the moon.'"

And these are the explanations why fathers and mothers in the
Rootabaga Country say to their girls growing up, "Never kick a slipper
at the moon if it is the time of the Dancing Slipper Moon when the
ends of the moon look like the toe and the heel of a dancer's foot."


----------------------------------------------------------------------


7. One Story--"Only the
   Fire-Born Understand Blue"

          _People_: Fire the Goat
                    Flim the Goose
                    Shadows


                            [Illustration]

                          Sand Flat Shadows


Fire the Goat and Flim the Goose slept out. Stub pines stood over
them. And away up next over the stub pines were stars.

It was a white sand flat they slept on. The floor of the sand flat ran
straight to the Big Lake of the Booming Rollers.

And just over the sand flat and just over the booming rollers was a
high room where the mist people were making pictures. Gray pictures,
blue and sometimes a little gold, and often silver, were the pictures.

And next just over the high room where the mist people were making
pictures, next just over were the stars.

Over everything and always last and highest of all, were the stars.

Fire the Goat took off his horns. Flim the Goose took off his wings.
"This is where we sleep," they said to each other, "here in the stub
pines on the sand flats next to the booming rollers and high over
everything and always last and highest of all, the stars."

Fire the Goat laid his horns under his head. Flim the Goose laid his
wings under his head. "This is the best place for what you want to
keep," they said to each other. Then they crossed their fingers for
luck and lay down and went to sleep and slept. And while they slept
the mist people went on making pictures. Gray pictures, blue and
sometimes a little gold but more often silver, such were the pictures
the mist people went on making while Fire the Goat and Flim the Goose
went on sleeping. And over everything and always last and highest of
all, were the stars.

They woke up. Fire the Goat took his horns out and put them on. "It's
morning now," he said.

Flim the Goose took his wings out and put them on. "It's another day
now," he said.

Then they sat looking. Away off where the sun was coming up, inching
and pushing up far across the rim curve of the Big Lake of the Booming
Rollers, along the whole line of the east sky, there were people and
animals, all black or all so gray they were near black.

There was a big horse with his mouth open, ears laid back, front legs
thrown in two curves like harvest sickles.

There was a camel with two humps, moving slow and grand like he had
all the time of all the years of all the world to go in.

There was an elephant without any head, with six short legs. There
were many cows. There was a man with a club over his shoulder and a
woman with a bundle on the back of her neck.

And they marched on. They were going nowhere, it seemed. And they were
going slow. They had plenty of time. There was nothing else to do. It
was fixed for them to do it, long ago it was fixed. And so they were
marching.

Sometimes the big horse's head sagged and dropped off and came back
again. Sometimes the humps of the camel sagged and dropped off and
came back again. And sometimes the club on the man's shoulder got
bigger and heavier and the man staggered under it and then his legs
got bigger and stronger and he steadied himself and went on. And again
sometimes the bundle on the back of the neck of the woman got bigger
and heavier and the bundle sagged and the woman staggered and her legs
got bigger and stronger and she steadied herself and went on.

This was the show, the hippodrome, the spectacular circus that passed
on the east sky before the eyes of Fire the Goat and Flim the Goose.

"Which is this, who are they and why do they come?" Flim the Goose
asked Fire the Goat.

[Illustration: Away off where the sun was coming up, there were
people and animals]

"Do you ask me because you wish me to tell you?" asked Fire the Goat.

"Indeed it is a question to which I want an honest answer."

"Has never the father or mother nor the uncle or aunt nor the kith and
kin of Flim the Goose told him the what and the which of this?"

"Never has the such of this which been put here this way to me by
anybody."

Flim the Goose held up his fingers and said, "I don't talk to you with
my fingers crossed."

And so Fire the Goat began to explain to Flim the Goose all about the
show, the hippodrome, the mastodonic cyclopean spectacle which was
passing on the east sky in front of the sun coming up.

"People say they are shadows," began Fire the Goat. "That is a name, a
word, a little cough and a couple of syllables.

"For some people shadows are comic and only to laugh at. For some
other people shadows are like a mouth and its breath. The breath comes
out and it is nothing. It is like air and nobody can make it into a
package and carry it away. It will not melt like gold nor can you
shovel it like cinders. So to these people it means nothing.

"And then there are other people," Fire the Goat went on. "There are
other people who understand shadows. The fire-born understand. The
fire-born know where shadows come from and why they are.

"Long ago, when the Makers of the World were done making the round
earth, the time came when they were ready to make the animals to put
on the earth. They were not sure how to make the animals. They did not
know what shape animals they wanted.

"And so they practised. They did not make real animals at first. They
made only shapes of animals. And these shapes were shadows, shadows
like these you and I, Fire the Goat and Flim the Goose, are looking at
this morning across the booming rollers on the east sky where the sun
is coming up.

"The shadow horse over there on the east sky with his mouth open, his
ears laid back, and his front legs thrown in a curve like harvest
sickles, that shadow horse was one they made long ago when they were
practising to make a real horse. That shadow horse was a mistake and
they threw him away. Never will you see two shadow horses alike. All
shadow horses on the sky are different. Each one is a mistake, a
shadow horse thrown away because he was not good enough to be a real
horse.

"That elephant with no head on his neck, stumbling so grand on six
legs--and that grand camel with two humps, one bigger than the
other--and those cows with horns in front and behind--they are all
mistakes, they were all thrown away because they were not made good
enough to be real elephants, real cows, real camels. They were made
just for practice, away back early in the world before any real
animals came on their legs to eat and live and be here like the rest
of us.

"That man--see him now staggering along with the club over his
shoulder--see how his long arms come to his knees and sometimes his
hands drag below his feet. See how heavy the club on his shoulders
loads him down and drags him on. He is one of the oldest shadow men.
He was a mistake and they threw him away. He was made just for
practice.

"And that woman. See her now at the end of that procession across the
booming rollers on the east sky. See her the last of all, the end of
the procession. On the back of her neck a bundle. Sometimes the bundle
gets bigger. The woman staggers. Her legs get bigger and stronger. She
picks herself up and goes along shaking her head. She is the same as
the others. She is a shadow and she was made as a mistake. Early,
early in the beginnings of the world she was made, for practice.

"Listen, Flim the Goose. What I am telling you is a secret of the
fire-born. I do not know whether you understand. We have slept
together a night on the sand flats next to the booming rollers, under
the stub pines with the stars high over--and so I tell what the
fathers of the fire-born tell their sons."

And that day Fire the Goat and Flim the Goose moved along the sand
flat shore of the Big Lake of the Booming Rollers. It was a blue day,
with a fire-blue of the sun mixing itself in the air and the water.
Off to the north the booming rollers were blue sea-green. To the east
they were sometimes streak purple, sometimes changing bluebell
stripes. And to the south they were silver blue, sheet blue.

Where the shadow hippodrome marched on the east sky that morning was a
long line of blue-bird spots.

"Only the fire-born understand blue," said Fire the Goat to Flim the
Goose. And that night as the night before they slept on a sand flat.
And again Fire the Goat took off his horns and laid them under his
head while he slept and Flim the Goose took off his wings and laid
them under his head while he slept.

And twice in the night, Fire the Goat whispered in his sleep,
whispered to the stars, "Only the fire-born understand blue."


----------------------------------------------------------------------


8. Two Stories About Corn Fairies,
   Blue Foxes, Flongboos and Happenings
   That Happened in the
   United States and Canada

          _People_: Spink
                    Skabootch
                    A Man
                    Corn Fairies

                    Blue Foxes
                    Flongboos
                    A Philadelphia Policeman
                    Passenger Conductor
                    Chicago Newspapers
                    The Head Spotter of the Weather Makers at Medicine Hat


                           [Illustration]

               How to Tell Corn Fairies If You See 'Em


If you have ever watched the little corn begin to march across the
black lands and then slowly change to big corn and go marching on from
the little corn moon of summer to the big corn harvest moon of autumn,
then you must have guessed who it is that helps the corn come along.
It is the corn fairies. Leave out the corn fairies and there wouldn't
be any corn.

All children know this. All boys and girls know that corn is no good
unless there are corn fairies.

Have you ever stood in Illinois or Iowa and watched the late summer
wind or the early fall wind running across a big cornfield? It looks
as if a big, long blanket were being spread out for dancers to come
and dance on. If you look close and if you listen close you can see
the corn fairies come dancing and singing--sometimes. If it is a wild
day and a hot sun is pouring down while a cool north wind blows--and
this happens sometimes--then you will be sure to see thousands of corn
fairies marching and countermarching in mocking grand marches over the
big, long blanket of green and silver. Then too they sing, only you
must listen with your littlest and newest ears if you wish to hear
their singing. They sing soft songs that go pla-sizzy pla-sizzy-sizzy,
and each song is softer than an eye wink, softer than a Nebraska
baby's thumb.

And Spink, who is a little girl living in the same house with the man
writing this story, and Skabootch, who is another little girl in the
same house--both Spink and Skabootch are asking the question, "How can
we tell corn fairies if we see 'em? If we meet a corn fairy how will
we know it?" And this is the explanation the man gave to Spink who is
older than Skabootch, and to Skabootch who is younger than Spink:--

All corn fairies wear overalls. They work hard, the corn fairies, and
they are proud. The reason they are proud is because they work so
hard. And the reason they work so hard is because they have overalls.

But understand this. The overalls are corn gold cloth, woven from
leaves of ripe corn mixed with ripe October corn silk. In the first
week of the harvest moon coming up red and changing to yellow and
silver the corn fairies sit by thousands between the corn rows weaving
and stitching the clothes they have to wear next winter, next spring,
next summer.

They sit cross-legged when they sew. And it is a law among them each
one must point the big toe at the moon while sewing the harvest moon
clothes. When the moon comes up red as blood early in the evening they
point their big toes slanting toward the east. Then towards midnight
when the moon is yellow and half way up the sky their big toes are
only half slanted as they sit cross-legged sewing. And after midnight
when the moon sails its silver disk high overhead and toward the west,
then the corn fairies sit sewing with their big toes pointed nearly
straight up.

If it is a cool night and looks like frost, then the laughter of the
corn fairies is something worth seeing. All the time they sit sewing
their next year clothes they are laughing. It is not a law they have
to laugh. They laugh because they are half-tickled and glad because it
is a good corn year.

And whenever the corn fairies laugh then the laugh comes out of the
mouth like a thin gold frost. If you should be lucky enough to see a
thousand corn fairies sitting between the corn rows and all of them
laughing, you would laugh with wonder yourself to see the gold frost
coming from their mouths while they laughed.

Travelers who have traveled far, and seen many things, say that if you
know the corn fairies with a real knowledge you can always tell by the
stitches in their clothes what state they are from.

In Illinois the corn fairies stitch fifteen stitches of ripe corn silk
across the woven corn leaf cloth. In Iowa they stitch sixteen
stitches, in Nebraska seventeen, and the farther west you go the more
corn silk stitches the corn fairies have in the corn cloth clothes
they wear.

In Minnesota one year there were fairies with a blue sash of
corn-flowers across the breast. In the Dakotas the same year all the
fairies wore pumpkin-flower neckties, yellow four-in-hands and yellow
ascots. And in one strange year it happened in both the states of Ohio
and Texas the corn fairies wore little wristlets of white morning
glories.

The traveler who heard about this asked many questions and found out
the reason why that year the corn fairies wore little wristlets of
white morning glories. He said, "Whenever fairies are sad they wear
white. And this year, which was long ago, was the year men were
tearing down all the old zigzag rail fences. Now those old zigzag rail
fences were beautiful for the fairies because a hundred fairies could
sit on one rail and thousands and thousands of them could sit on the
zigzags and sing pla-sizzy pla-sizzy, softer than an eye-wink, softer
than a baby's thumb, all on a moonlight summer night. And they found
out that year was going to be the last year of the zigzag rail fences.
It made them sorry and sad, and when they are sorry and sad they wear
white. So they picked the wonderful white morning glories running
along the zigzag rail fences and made them into little wristlets and
wore those wristlets the next year to show they were sorry and sad."

Of course, all this helps you to know how the corn fairies look in the
evening, the night time and the moonlight. Now we shall see how they
look in the day time.

In the day time the corn fairies have their overalls of corn gold
cloth on. And they walk among the corn rows and climb the corn stalks
and fix things in the leaves and stalks and ears of the corn. They
help it to grow.

Each one carries on the left shoulder a mouse brush to brush away the
field mice. And over the right shoulder each one has a cricket broom
to sweep away the crickets. The brush is a whisk brush to brush away
mice that get foolish. And the broom is to sweep away crickets that
get foolish.

Around the middle of each corn fairy is a yellow-belly belt. And stuck
in this belt is a purple moon shaft hammer. Whenever the wind blows
strong and nearly blows the corn down, then the fairies run out and
take their purple moon shaft hammers out of their yellow-belly belts
and nail down nails to keep the corn from blowing down. When a rain
storm is blowing up terrible and driving all kinds of terribles across
the cornfield, then you can be sure of one thing. Running like the
wind among the corn rows are the fairies, jerking their purple moon
shaft hammers out of their belts and nailing nails down to keep the
corn standing up so it will grow and be ripe and beautiful when the
harvest moon comes again in the fall.

Spink and Skabootch ask where the corn fairies get the nails. The
answer to Spink and Skabootch is, "Next week you will learn all about
where the corn fairies get the nails to nail down the corn if you will
keep your faces washed and your ears washed till next week."

And the next time you stand watching a big cornfield in late summer or
early fall, when the wind is running across the green and silver,
listen with your littlest and newest ears. Maybe you will hear the
corn fairies going pla-sizzy pla-sizzy-sizzy, softer than an eye wink,
softer than a Nebraska baby's thumb.


                            [Illustration]

                 How the Animals Lost Their Tails and
                     Got Them Back Traveling From
                     Philadelphia to Medicine Hat


Far up in North America, near the Saskatchewan river, in the Winnipeg
wheat country, not so far from the town of Moose Jaw named for the jaw
of a moose shot by a hunter there, up where the blizzards and the
chinooks begin, where nobody works unless they have to and they nearly
all have to, there stands the place known as Medicine Hat.

And there on a high stool in a high tower on a high hill sits the Head
Spotter of the Weather Makers.

When the animals lost their tails it was because the Head Spotter of
the Weather Makers at Medicine Hat was careless.

The tails of the animals were stiff and dry because for a long while
there was dusty dry weather. Then at last came rain. And the water
from the sky poured on the tails of the animals and softened them.

Then the chilly chills came whistling with icy mittens and they froze
all the tails stiff. A big wind blew up and blew and blew till all the
tails of the animals blew off.

It was easy for the fat stub hogs with their fat stub tails. But it
was not so easy for the blue fox who uses his tail to help him when he
runs, when he eats, when he walks or talks, when he makes pictures or
writes letters in the snow or when he puts a snack of bacon meat with
stripes of fat and lean to hide till he wants it under a big rock by a
river.

[Illustration: There on a high stool in a high tower, on a high hill
sits the Head Spotter of the Weather Makers]

It was easy enough for the rabbit who has long ears and no tail at all
except a white thumb of cotton. But it was hard for the yellow
flongboo who at night lights up his house in a hollow tree with his
fire yellow torch of a tail. It is hard for the yellow flongboo to
lose his tail because it lights up his way when he sneaks at night on
the prairie, sneaking up on the flangwayers, the hippers and
hangjasts, so good to eat.

The animals picked a committee of representatives to represent them in
a parleyhoo to see what steps could be taken by talking to do
something. There were sixty-six representatives on the committee and
they decided to call it the Committee of Sixty Six. It was a
distinguished committee and when they all sat together holding their
mouths under their noses (just like a distinguished committee) and
blinking their eyes up over their noses and cleaning their ears and
scratching themselves under the chin looking thoughtful (just like a
distinguished committee) then anybody would say just to look at them,
"This must be quite a distinguished committee."

Of course, they would all have looked more distinguished if they had
had their tails on. If the big wavy streak of a blue tail blows off
behind a blue fox, he doesn't look near so distinguished. Or, if the
long yellow torch of a tail blows off behind a yellow flongboo, he
doesn't look so distinguished as he did before the wind blew.

So the Committee of Sixty Six had a meeting and a parleyhoo to decide
what steps could be taken by talking to do something. For chairman
they picked an old flongboo who was an umpire and used to umpire many
mix-ups. Among the flongboos he was called "the umpire of umpires,"
"the king of umpires," "the prince of umpires," "the peer of umpires."
When there was a fight and a snag and a wrangle between two families
living next door neighbors to each other and this old flongboo was
called in to umpire and to say which family was right and which family
was wrong, which family started it and which family ought to stop it,
he used to say, "The best umpire is the one who knows just how far to
go and how far not to go." He was from Massachusetts, born near
Chappaquiddick, this old flongboo, and he lived there in a horse
chestnut tree six feet thick half way between South Hadley and
Northampton. And at night, before he lost his tail, he lighted up the
big hollow cave inside the horse chestnut tree with his yellow torch
of a tail.

After he was nominated with speeches and elected with votes to be the
chairman, he stood up on the platform and took a gavel and banged with
the gavel and made the Committee of Sixty Six come to order.

"It is no picnic to lose your tail and we are here for business," he
said, banging his gavel again.

A blue fox from Waco, Texas, with his ears full of dry bluebonnet
leaves from a hole where he lived near the Brazos river, stood up and
said, "Mr. Chairman, do I have the floor?"

"You have whatever you get away with--I get your number," said the
chairman.

"I make a motion," said the blue fox from Waco, "and I move you, Sir,
that this committee get on a train at Philadelphia and ride on the
train till it stops and then take another train and take more trains
and keep on riding till we get to Medicine Hat, near the Saskatchewan
river, in the Winnipeg wheat country where the Head Spotter of the
Weather Makers sits on a high stool in a high tower on a high hill
spotting the weather. There we will ask him if he will respectfully
let us beseech him to bring back weather that will bring back our
tails. It was the weather took away our tails; it is the weather can
bring back our tails."

"All in favor of the motion," said the chairman, "will clean their
right ears with their right paws."

And all the blue foxes and all the yellow flongboos began cleaning
their right ears with their right paws.

"All who are against the motion will clean their left ears with their
left paws," said the chairman.

And all the blue foxes and all the yellow flongboos began cleaning
their left ears with their left paws.

"The motion is carried both ways--it is a razmataz," said the
chairman. "Once again, all in favor of the motion will stand up on the
toes of their hind legs and stick their noses straight up in the air."
And all the blue foxes and all the yellow flongboos stood up on the
toes of their hind legs and stuck their noses straight up in the air.

"And now," said the chairman, "all who are against the motion will
stand on the top and the apex of their heads, stick their hind legs
straight up in the air, and make a noise like a woof woof."

And then not one of the blue foxes and not one of the yellow flongboos
stood on the top and the apex of his head nor stuck his hind legs up
in the air nor made a noise like a woof woof.

"The motion is carried and this is no picnic," said the chairman.

So the committee went to Philadelphia to get on a train to ride on.

"Would you be so kind as to tell us the way to the union depot," the
chairman asked a policeman. It was the first time a flongboo ever
spoke to a policeman on the streets of Philadelphia.

"It pays to be polite," said the policeman.

"May I ask you again if you would kindly direct us to the union depot?
We wish to ride on a train," said the flongboo.

"Polite persons and angry persons are different kinds," said the
policeman.

The flongboo's eyes changed their lights and a slow torch of fire
sprang out behind where his tail used to be. And speaking to the
policeman, he said, "Sir, I must inform you, publicly and respectfully,
that we are The Committee of Sixty Six. We are honorable and
distinguished representatives from places your honest and ignorant
geography never told you about. This committee is going to ride on the
cars to Medicine Hat near the Saskatchewan river in the Winnipeg wheat
country where the blizzards and chinooks begin. We have a special
message and a secret errand for the Head Spotter of the Weather
Makers."

"I am a polite friend of all respectable people--that is why I wear
this star to arrest people who are not respectable," said the
policeman, touching with his pointing finger the silver and nickel
star fastened with a safety pin on his blue uniform coat.

"This is the first time ever in the history of the United States that
a committee of sixty-six blue foxes and flongboos has ever visited a
city in the United States," insinuated the flongboo.

"I beg to be mistaken," finished the policeman. "The union depot is
under that clock." And he pointed to a clock near by.

"I thank you for myself, I thank you for the Committee of Sixty Six, I
thank you for the sake of all the animals in the United States who
have lost their tails," finished the chairman.

Over to the Philadelphia union depot they went, all sixty-six, half
blue foxes, half flongboos. As they pattered pitty-pat, pitty-pat,
each with feet and toenails, ears and hair, everything but tails, into
the Philadelphia union depot, they had nothing to say. And yet though
they had nothing to say the passengers in the union depot waiting for
trains thought they had something to say and were saying it. So the
passengers in the union depot waiting for trains listened. But with
all their listening the passengers never heard the blue foxes and
yellow flongboos say anything.

"They are saying it to each other in some strange language from where
they belong," said one passenger waiting for a train.

"They have secrets to keep among each other, and never tell us," said
another passenger.

"We will find out all about it reading the newspapers upside down
to-morrow morning," said a third passenger.

Then the blue foxes and the yellow flongboos pattered pitty-pat,
pitty-pat, each with feet and toenails, ears and hair, everything
except tails, pattered scritch scratch over the stone floors out into
the train shed. They climbed into a special smoking car hooked on
ahead of the engine.

"This car hooked on ahead of the engine was put on special for us so
we will always be ahead and we will get there before the train does,"
said the chairman to the committee.

The train ran out of the train shed. It kept on the tracks and never
left the rails. It came to the Horseshoe Curve near Altoona where the
tracks bend like a big horseshoe. Instead of going around the long
winding bend of the horseshoe tracks up and around the mountains, the
train acted different. The train jumped off the tracks down into the
valley and cut across in a straight line on a cut-off, jumped on the
tracks again and went on toward Ohio.

The conductor said, "If you are going to jump the train off the
tracks, tell us about it beforehand."

"When we lost our tails nobody told us about it beforehand," said the
old flongboo umpire.

Two baby blue foxes, the youngest on the committee, sat on the front
platform. Mile after mile of chimneys went by. Four hundred smokestacks
stood in a row and tubs on tubs of sooty black soot marched out.

"This is the place where the black cats come to be washed," said the
first baby blue fox.

"I believe your affidavit," said the second blue fox.

Crossing Ohio and Indiana at night the flongboos took off the roof of
the car. The conductor told them, "I must have an explanation." "It
was between us and the stars," they told him.

The train ran into Chicago. That afternoon there were pictures upside
down in the newspapers showing the blue foxes and the yellow flongboos
climbing telephone poles standing on their heads eating pink ice cream
with iron axes.

Each blue fox and yellow flongboo got a newspaper for himself and each
one looked long and careful upside down to see how he looked in the
picture in the newspaper climbing a telephone pole standing on his
head eating pink ice cream with an iron ax.

Crossing Minnesota the sky began to fill with the snow ghosts of
Minnesota snow weather. Again the foxes and flongboos lifted the roof
off the car, telling the conductor they would rather wreck the train
than miss the big show of the snow ghosts of the first Minnesota snow
weather of the winter.

Some went to sleep but the two baby blue foxes stayed up all night
watching the snow ghosts and telling snow ghost stories to each other.

Early in the night the first baby blue fox said to the second, "Who
are the snow ghosts the ghosts of?" The second baby blue fox answered,
"Everybody who makes a snowball, a snow man, a snow fox or a snow fish
or a snow pattycake, everybody has a snow ghost."

And that was only the beginning of their talk. It would take a big book
to tell all that the two baby foxes told each other that night about
the Minnesota snow ghosts, because they sat up all night telling old
stories their fathers and mothers and grandfathers and grandmothers
told them, and making up new stories never heard before about where the
snow ghosts go on Christmas morning and how the snow ghosts watch the
New Year in.

Somewhere between Winnipeg and Moose Jaw, somewhere it was they
stopped the train and all ran out in the snow where the white moon was
shining down a valley of birch trees. It was the Snowbird Valley where
all the snowbirds of Canada come early in the winter and make their
snow shoes.

At last they came to Medicine Hat, near the Saskatchewan River, where
the blizzards and the chinooks begin, where nobody works unless they
have to and they nearly all have to. There they ran in the snow till
they came to the place where the Head Spotter of the Weather Makers
sits on a high stool in a high tower on a high hill watching the
weather.

"Let loose another big wind to blow back our tails to us, let loose a
big freeze to freeze our tails onto us again, and so let us get back
our lost tails," they said to the Head Spotter of the Weather Makers.

Which was just what he did, giving them exactly what they wanted, so
they all went back home satisfied, the blue foxes each with a big wavy
brush of a tail to help him when he runs, when he eats, when he walks
or talks, when he makes pictures or writes letters in the snow or when
he puts a snack of bacon meat with stripes of fat and lean to hide
till he wants it under a big rock by the river--and the yellow
flongboos each with a long yellow torch of a tail to light up his home
in a hollow tree or to light up his way when he sneaks at night on the
prairie, sneaking up on the flangwayer, the hipper or the hangjast.

[Illustration]





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