Tiger Tales #15 - Nelebel's Fairyland

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"Nelebel's Fairyland"
By L. Frank Baum
Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Woggle-Bug Book, The Woggle-Bug Sheet Music Book, etc.

Originally published in The Russ (a publication of San Diego High School), San Diego, California, June, 1905.

I do not know exactly what naughty thing Princess Nelebel had done. Perhaps she had been making eyes at the Gnomes - which all fairies are forbidden to do. Anyway, she had been guilty of something so sadly unfairy-like, that her punishment was of a grievous nature. She was no more to inhabit the palace of the Fairy Queen, in the beautiful forest of Burzee--she was not even to live in Burzee at all, at least for a hundred years--but was condemned to banishment and exile in the first land she might come to, after crossing the ocean to the eastward.

Really, Nelebel must have done more than merely make eyes at the Gnomes; for the punishment she incurred was something awful. Yet the sweet, dainty little fairy could not have been very wicked, I am sure; for she was not the only one that wept when she prepared to leave Burzee, with its hosts of immortals, to take residence in some dreary, unknown land across the seas.

Of course, the beautiful fairy was not to go unattended, even into exile. Queen Lulea appointed forty of the crooked wood-knooks, and forty of the sprightly field-ryls, and forty of the monstrous gigans to accompany and protect Nelebel in her new home. The knooks, you know, are the immortals that make the trees and shrubs grow and thrive; and the ryls feed the flowers and grasses, and color them brilliantly with their brushes and paint-pots. As for the gigans, they were only strong and faithful.

On a fine morning, while the eyes of her old comrades were all wet with sorrowful tears, Princess Nelebel waved her wand and vanished with her little band from Burzee, to begin that exile which had been decreed, in punishment of her fault.

Although I have examined the Records of Fairyland with great care, I do not find anywhere the slightest reference to that journey of Nelebel across the great ocean; which leads me to believe the flight was so instantaneous, that there was no time for anything to happen; or else the journey was too unimportant to need recording.

But we know that she came to a strip of beach both rocky and sandstrewn--a barren waste, gently washed by the waves of the mighty Pacific--and that her first act, upon setting foot on this shore, was to throw herself flat upon the ground and sob until the very earth shook with the tremor of his wild expression of grief and loneliness.

The forty knooks squatted about her, silent and scowling. These creatures are very kindhearted, in spite of their ugly crookedness, and they scowled because the lovely princess was so sad. The restless ryls, sorrowful but busy, pattered around and touched the knolls and hills, here and there, with their magic fingers. So presently the brown earth and yellow sands were covered with emerald grasses, wherein banks of fragrant roses and gorgeous poppies nestled. And, as Nelebel wriggled around in the abandon of her grief, her fair head finally rested upon a mass of blooming flowers, and their touch soothed her. And sweet grasses brushed and cooled her tearstained cheeks, till under their comforting influence she fell asleep. And upon her fell the warm rays of the kindliest sun that any country has ever known--or ever will know--and brought to the little maid forgetfulness of all her woes.

The crooked knooks, noting the transformations effected by the busy ryls, seemed suddenly to become ashamed of their own sullen inaction. They sprang up and bestirred themselves; and when they do this, something is bound to happen. Before long their masterful art had evoked a grove of graceful palms, which now, for the first time, vanquished the barrenness of this neglected coast, and gave the evening zephyrs something to play with. When the sun wooed the sleeping fairy too warmly, the palms threw their shadows over her; but the breeze crept low and kissed her brow and whispered lovingly into her pink ears. And Nelebel smiled, and sighed, and slumbered sweetly.

But what do you suppose the gigans were doing all this time? Where do you imagine they disposed of their enormous bodies, that the repose of their wee mistress might not be disturbed? From all accounts those gigans were the largest of all beings ever known, and even the giants that Jack killed must have been mere pygmies beside them. I am informed that seventy-four years, five months and eight days after the events I am recording, Queen Lulea, becoming annoyed at the awkwardness of the huge gigans, transformed them into rampsies--the smallest of all immortals. So there are no gigans at all, in these days.

Well, while Princess Nelebel was sleeping away her grief on the brow of the hill,* her forty gigans were squatting in the sand of the beach, close to the water's edge. And here, idly amusing themselves, the big fellows began digging in the sand--just as children do now-adays. They scooped up huge mountains of sand at every handful and tossed it out into the sea; and this soon built up a ridge of land between them and the ocean, while the hollow they made filled up with seawater and became an inland lake. When, in their digging, they came across a rock, they tossed it to the north of them; and thus was formed the promontory we now know as Point Loma. Then these playful gigans--not knowing they were changing the geography of a country--heaped piles of rock and sand and earth to the southward, forming those peaks, known to future ages as the San Bernardino range of mountains. And one of the gigans, finding the inland lake was now deep enough, stretched out an arm and hollowed a trench against the side of Point Loma, that soon connected the lake with the ocean, thus creating a bay that is now world famous.**

What more those tremendous gigans might have accomplished, is uncertain. The ryls and knooks had, until now, been too busy to interfere with their big comrades' pastimes. But, at this moment, Nelebel awoke and sat up, and gave a little cry of delight.

All about her spread a carpet of green grass, inlaid with exquisite patterns of wild flowers. Gracious pepper and eucalyptus trees nodded to her a pleasant greeting. At her feet lay the beautiful bay, its wave-tips sparkling like millions of diamonds. And, while Nelebel gazed, a sun of golden red sank toward the rugged head of Loma and touched it with a caressing good-night kiss.

The exiled fairy, turning with indrawn breath to gaze upon the purple and rose tints of the mountains, clapped her pretty hands in an ecstacy of joy, and cried to her faithful servants:

"Here is a new Fairyland, my friends! and to me it is far more lovely than the dark and stately groves of old Burzee. What matters our exile, when the beauties of this earthly paradise are ours to enjoy?"

They are silent people--these knooks and ryls and gigans--so they did not bother to tell Princess Nelebel, that the magic of busy hands and loving hearts had made a barren waste beautiful to soothe her sorrow. Instead, they contended themselves with bowing mutely before their mistress.

But Nelebel wished a response to her enthusiasm.

"Speak!" she commanded. "Is it not, indeed, a new Fairyland?"

So now a crooked, scarred and grey-bearded knook made bold to answer:

"Wherever the fairest of the fairies dwells," said he, "that place must be Fairyland." Whereat she smiled; for even fairies love compliments.

The Records, after dwelling long upon the beauties of this favored spot (which, long afterward, was called "Coronado"), relate the grief of Nelebel when her term of exile expired, and she was compelled to leave it. But the charm of her fairy presence still lingers over land and sea, and to this day casts its influence upon the lives of those pilgrims who stray, by good fortune, into the heart of Nelebel's Fairyland.

* Now called Florence Heights.

** The Bay of San Diego.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, January 21, 1917.

The Puzzle Corner

The Forgetful Poet sent us some puzzles, for he is convinced that you like his puzzles just as much as you do Mr. G. Ography's--and here THEY are:

It rises, not to bow, though,
'Tis needed in two ways;
'Tis known where'ere a man can go
And all men sound its praise?

Round like a ball,
Gold like the sun,
With little white fairies
In every one?

It isn't a soldier,
And yet it marks time,
'Tis good but a year,
And it costs but a dime!

My first rhymes with well,
And my second is A,
My third stands for merchandise,
What river, pray?

Last week's answers were Monterey, the Sea of Marmora and New Orleans.

Send in your answers to Mr. G. Ography and the boy or girl having the best puzzle record for the month will be surprised, and so will the second best puzzle guesser. So far Hamor Michener is ahead.

[Answers next time. No prize or surprises will be offered--this is merely a historical presentation of Thompson's writings.]

Copyright © 2002 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

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