"The Wogglebug Encourages Charity"
By L. Frank Baum
Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Woggle-Bug Book, The Woggle-Bug Sheet Music Book, etc.
An episode from the Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz comic page, February 26, 1905
[This story takes place during the visit of a group of Oz characters to the United States of America.]
The Wogglebug is greatly interested in American customs, yet our ways are sometimes difficult for him to understand.
The other day, in walking down the street, he came upon a beggar sitting silently at the edge of the curb. His limbs and body were bent and twisted, his clothing was old and ragged and his face expressed considerable misery. In his hand he held a tin cup, extended invitingly toward those who passed by.
The Wogglebug watched the beggar with much interest. A newsboy, who had sold out his stock, came along and cheerfully dropped a penny into the tin cup; a prosperous-looking gentleman passed by and never saw it; several ladies, nicely dressed and wearing diamonds and jewels, gave contemptuous glances at the beggar and passed on; a bartender, clothed in loud checks, rattled a silver quarter into the cup and a shop girl jumped on the car and gave the beggar the nickel which the conductor had neglected to collect from her.
Then for a time the people streamed past without seeming to know the beggar was there.
"It's a great shame," thought the Wogglebug, "that so few people take notice of this poor man and give him alms. I'll see if I cannot help him."
Then he ran to a big hardware store, and by leaving his watch for security (for he had no money) managed to borrow from the proprietor four large and bright tin cups. With these he returned to where the beggar sat, and holding one of the cups in each of his four hands he began rattling them noisily one against another, and crying out: "Help the poor, good people! Please help the poor!"
People stopped to stare wonderingly at the Wogglebug, and then laughingly began to rain pennies and nickels into his tin cups. If afforded them much amusement to see the four-handed, highly magnified insect thrusting his four cups in four directions at once, and when people are amused they are usually quite willing to pay for it. Before long the cups became so full that the Wogglebug had to empty them into the pockets of the beggar; and then he began to fill them anew.
For hours the generous Wogglebug stood there collecting coins for the miserable beggar, whose countenance seemed to grow more and more sad and pitiful as his wealth increased. But by and by evening came on and the crowds grew thinner, because so many people had gone home to supper. And now every pocket the beggar possessed was bulging with the weight of the money the Wogglebug had collected.
"These American people are not really uncharitable," said the insect. "I think the reason they did not stop to give you alms was because they failed to notice you sitting here by the curb."
"Oh, that's all right," answered the beggar, speaking quite cheerfully and for the first time. "Business is usually pretty good on this corner, but I have never known it half as good as it was to-day. I think I'll go home to dinner. Much obliged to you, I'm sure."
To the Wogglebug's surprise he straightened out his crooked limbs and slowly rose to his feet.
"A fellow gets cramped sitting like that all day," he remarked. "Here is my card; come and call on me some evening. I'll be glad to see you."
He thrust a soiled card into the Wogglebug's hand and walked away with scarcely a limp.
"Clever fellow, that," remarked a policeman, as the Insect gazed wonderingly after the beggar's departing form. "He's one of the syndicate, you know."
"What's that?" asked the Wogglebug.
"Why, the beggars' syndicate have all the good corners in the city, and pay us to let them stay here and keep the other fellows out. It's a pretty good business, too, and some of 'em get pretty rich. Why, only last week I was invited to the 'Blind and Crippled Beggars' Ball,' that was held in Turner Hall, and they were dressed just as gay as the Barbers' Ball the week before."
"But it's a shame and an imposition!" declared the Wogglebug, indignantly, "to solicit alms from the public when help is not needed!"
"Perhaps it is," answered the policeman, reflectively, "but it does the public a heap of good, too. Many a person drops a nickel into a tin cup and feels good all day because he's dome something generous. Lots of times it's real charity, too. They aren't all frauds, you know. I've thought it all over, and I believe the beggars a good thing, for they encourage the people to kind actions, and my experience with people is that they need just that sort of encouragement."
"Perhaps you are right," said the Wogglebug, and he carried the cups back to the hardware store and redeemed his watch.
THE FORGETFUL POET
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 24, 1916.
The Forgetful Poet's Christmas Puzzles
The very first puzzle I'm certain none of you can answer and the Forgetful Poet says he is SURE you can't. Here it is then:
What is in the toe of your Christmas stocking?
And what is--
Round like the earth
And full of -----?
Which you will find
To rhyme with thumbs?
What place and person are mixed up in this comical sentence: Can A help salt us or not?
What word of five letters equals a month that is windy?
Although he was in a good bit of a hurry, I managed to get last week's answers from him. The people Mr. G. Ography meant were: A Chinaman, an Irishman, an Englishman, an Italian, a German, an Eskimo, a Dutchman and an Arab. The vegetable that spells a month backward is yam (May) and the words left out of the verses--list and got.
[Answers next time.]
Copyright © 2002 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.
More Tiger Tales
For more books about the Wogglebug, click on these links:
The Woggle-Bug Book
The Woggle-Bug Sheet Music Book