Tiger Tales #36 - The Story of a Stone Lion

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"The Story of a Stone Lion"
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of The Cowardly Lion of Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, September 10, 1916.

Once upon a time a proud and haughty stone lion lived in a garden. He stood at the end of a lovely walk and from his high stone base looked disdainfully at every one who passed. How proud and haughty he was you could never imagine unless you had seen him. With his cold eyes looking sternly at the garden wall and his stone head reared scornfully in the air, he stood year after year, through sun and showers and snow--always the same.

The birds came in the spring and built their nests, the flowers peeped shyly from their garden beds, bloomed and sweetened the air with their fragrance as the birds made it lovely with their songs; but children came into the garden to play and the stone lion never noticed them. Fall came and turned the leaves to gold and red, the birds flew away again and the chill November winds heaped the leaves in little piles at the lion's feet. Then down whirled the snow and covered the garden with its lovely mantle of white. Again the children came running out to play, but still the stone lion heeded nothing, and, thinking his cold thoughts, stood proudly alone.

Then one spring two little robins fluttered down upon the lion's head. "Same old garden," chirped the first robin, "for here is the LION!" "Oh, isn't it sweet to come back? Oh, isnt it lovely?" And for very happiness the second little robin began to twitter so merrily that 'tis a wonder the stone lion did not melt upon the spot. But he did nothing of the kind and paid no attention to the little birds, till one stuck its head on one side and said: "Why, you poor old lion you, it must be dreadful to be made of stone and never to move about, nor sing, nor be happy!" What was that? Were these poor, little, insignificant robins pitying HIM? Why,k the very idea, the impudence! The stone lion fairly shook with rage, but, being stone, of course, said nothing. Just then a little squirrel whisked across the lawn and stopped to call "Howde" to the robins. "I was just saying to Reddy how dreadful it must be for this lion," chirped the robin sociably. "Never to move, nor talk; never to do ANYTHING. Why, it's sad, that's what it is!" The squirrel shook his head thoughtfully. "That's so," said he. "But he'll last a long time. Why, he might stay here for CENTURIES; at least, that's what Solomon Owl tells me!"

"Centuries! Centuries!" scoffed the little robin. "Why, I'd rather be a robin for FIVE minutes than a stone lion for a HUNDRED YEARS!" Which statement so astonished the proud lion that he almost fell off of his pedestal. What was all this talk, anyway? Wasn't if enough to stand grandly aloof? Wasn't it enough for him to BE in the garden for the people to admire? From being angry he grew curious. He began to notice the birds in the garden, to listen to their songs and wonder what they saw when they flew over the high wall. He watched the squirrel whisking from tree to tree, and it somehow made him feel old and stiff. The children came and picked flowers, and a lively little puppy tumbled about with them. "My," thought the stone lion. "How nice it would be to roll in the grass and run down the path and out of the gate! What COULD be on the other side, now?" Indeed, he grew so interested and curious about the life in the garden that he quite forgot to be proud and self-satisfied. He wished he could turn around so he would not miss what was going on back of him; and, OH, how he longed to talk to the merry little robins who perched on his back every afternoon and told strange stories of the countries they visited. Then summer went so quickly the stone lion could hardly believe it when the last bird had gone and the last flower had fallen. He grew lonely, and one night he could contain himself no longer and he wept--REAL tears, too, for he wasn't stone inside any more. And the tears trickled down into the home of the Fairy of the Garden. And it didn't take her long to find out, honeys; and next thing she had waved her wand and the stone lion was gone. On his stone pedestal perched a gay little robin, and as it looked it spread its wings and flew up and up and away over the garden wall. The Fairy had granted the wish in the lion's heart, for the lion had been saying over and over again, "I had rather be a live robin than a STONE LION. I had rather live than last." Better a robin for five minutes than a stone lion for five centuries! And I think so, too!

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 3, 1917

Some More Riddles That Rhyme

The Forgetful Poet says that some folks think there is more rhyme than reason in his verses, but that the boys and girls know just what he means. And I believe you do, judging from the answers that come tumbling into the office on Monday mornings. He says that the blanks this week should be filled in by authors and poets. Well, did you ever?

The Tale of a Stolen Cake

Oh, once a laddie stole a cake
And ran with might and main,
Tripped down and fell. Ah, dear! Ah, well!
He broke the cake in ------.
The baker caught him. I regret
To say, he used his ------,
Which in a passion he did wield
Till the lad escaped across the ------.
The baker looking very ------
Declared he'd tell his dad on him.
While on his shop his back he turns
Alas! his largest plum pie ------.

Send your answers to the Forgetful Poet, care of the Public Ledger. The Forgetful Poet wishes to compliment Hamor Michener on his correct answers, also Miss Jean Page.

[Answers next time. Last time's answers: gnu, bear, deer, ?]

Copyright © 2004 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

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