"She Fills the Colonel's Stocking and Talks of the Charity Ball"
By L. Frank Baum
Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Woggle-Bug Book, The Woggle-Bug Sheet Music Book, etc.
From Baum's Our Landlady series. This episode originally published in the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, December 27, 1890.
"I say, Kernel," shouted our landlady, at the head of the head of the front stairs, "if ye want to see wat's in your sock an' eat the pancakes while their [sic] smokin' jest rustle a little an' come down to breakfus'!"
"What's that?" demanded Tom, as he came down stairs, "has the Colonel been hanging up his stocking?"
"Nothing of the kind," growled the veteran, making his appearance, "don't let Mrs. Bilkins make a fool of you."
They entered the dining-room, and there, sure enough, was a military looking stocking hung by the mantel and bulging out in a suspicious way.
"Ahem!" remarked the Colonel, turning red, "where did that sock come from?"
"Well," replied our landlady, reluctantly, as she looked fondly upon the Colonel's manly form, "it might 'a come outer the mendin', but the presincts is from Santa Claus sure!"
"Open it," said the doctr, [sic] entering the room.
"Open it," laughed Tom, "and we'll see what the Saint has sent you."
The Colonel looked from one to the other with a puzzled air.
"If this is a brutal joke," he suggested, "someone will die, but if it is a kind remembrance of Mrs. Bilkins, why I'm bound to accept it gratefully."
Our landlady smiled and blushed, and blew her nose on her apron with an embarassed [sic] air.
"You know, Kernel," she murmured, "that you allus was my favrite; not as you pays your board so mighty reglar as you might, but you allus treats me as a gentleman should treat his landlady, an' I flatters myself I know a good man when I sees him."
The Colonel bowed mechanically.
"Examine it, do!" urged Tom, refering [sic] to the stocking, "for we're getting hungry."
The Colonel unpinned the neatly-mended sock and took out a small parcel which he opened with a trembling hand.
It contained a yellowish looking cigar which he laid upon the table and Tom pocketed promptly.
The next production was a gaily-decorated blotter, bearing the inscription
"If you love me
As I love you,
No nife shall cut
Our love in to."
Tom laughed, the doctor coughed and the Colonel wiped the perspiration from his brow and made another dive at the sock.
"This," said he, "must be meant for a pen-wiper."
"Nothing of the kind!" protested Tom, indignantly, "it's a lock of hair, and it looks awfully like Mrs. Bilkins'."
The colonel darted a fierce glance at him and dropped the memento into the coal hod. Our landlady stopped giggling and looked solemnly out of the window.
"Boys," said the colonel desperately, "let's postpone the rest till new years."
"By no means," replied the doctor, "I am very interested and you know 'hope deferred maketh the heart sick.' "
"An' there's no good doctor in the neighborhood to cure it," murmurred our landlady.
"Go on," said Tom, "I think the next is a doll."
"No," said the colonel, examining the article musingly, "it's a picture of Ed. Lowe."
"What on earth makes his pockets bulge out so?" inquired the doctor.
"I suppose," replied the colonel, "that he was still secretary of the county committee when that was taken."
"That 'air," broke in our landlady, "was all a mistake, I -- that is -- Santa Claus, must 'a got hold o' the wrong pictur in the dark."
"Then he should certainly apologize," said the colonel. "What's this?"
"That," replied our landlady, with interest, "is a great thing. You can use it fer a watch key, a can-opener, a manicure set, a bread toaster, a watch charm or a corkscrew. I bought it at 33 1/3 per cent off, an' -- "
"You bought it!" shouted the colonel. "Now let me ask you, madam, by what right you inflict blotters and cigars and watch charms and locks of hair upon an inoffensive man? Have I ever done anything to warrant -- "
But our landlady had flown to the kitchen, and when she came back with red eyes and a plate of steaming cakes a quarter of an hour afterwards, the donations of Santa Claus had disappeared and the doctor was reading the paper and Tom teasing the cat and the colonel looking out of the window with an air as if wholly unconscious of the late unpleasantness. For they all liked Mrs. Bilkins, and a truce had been patched up with the colonel -- at least until after breakfast was over.
"How did you like the Charity Ball?" inquired the doctor, as our landlady poured out the coffee.
"Well, it were considerable high jinks," she replied, as the sunshine of her smile broke through her clouded face (copyrighted), "but I didn't stay long because it were so mixed an' Cholly Howard jumped on my toe so hard that I could not dance another step. But Miss. Joneses hired gal she said she never had so much fun in her life, and there was all the high toned an' the low toned jest mixed up like a hasty puddin' fer sweet Charity's sake, an' the sassiety made a heap o' money, too, altho' some cranky ones said the orchestra got half the receipts an' Hazeltine half an' the poor the other half. I seed a good many there that I know ain't paid their board bills fer weeks, but as long as it were for charity they're excusable for blowing in a dollar that way."
THE FORGETFUL POET
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, February 18, 1917.
The Puzzle Corner
Hamor Michener is president of the club for February, and the rest of you will have to brush up or he will run off with the honors again.
Last week's answers were hare and calf, Jack London, excuse and Saint Valentine.
Here is an old riddle. I wonder whether you know it: "Why does the letter B in the word JUBILEE resemble a secret known only to us two?"
A word meaning uncooked
Spelled backward will give
An event of the century
In which we live?
[Answers next time. No presidency will be offered--this is a historical presentation of Thompson's writings.]
Copyright © 2002 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.
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