"The First Day of Spring"
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, March 9, 1919.
Through the bare boughs of the trees the bright plumage of the cardinal stood out with startling brilliancy. He skipped about from tree to tree seeking the best place for the nest. He and Mrs. Cardinal were going to set up housekeeping shortly, before all the multitude of songsters arrived. The robin, the catbird, the thrush, would all be here shortly, but he should find the best residence of all before they came. He flitted from branch to branch, so beautiful, so delighted at the approach of spring, his throat ever voicing his delight in a glad song.
The old house cat, Billy, lay drowsily enjoying the bright spring sunshine; he opened one eye and meditated on how long it would be before summer would make outdoor life agreeable, sleepily watched the cardinal and Mrs. Cardinal, who had started a conversation with two sparrows, chattering and quarreling as ever on the exact locality of their next home. It was advisable to move. The drain pipe under which they lived had started to leak and dripped down cold showers upon them whenever it started to rain. A squirrel came leaping across the grass and up the big cherry tree. Billy often tried to catch them, but now he was older he saw the foolishness and uselessness of chasing them as they passed so swiftly before his sight that sometimes he rubbed his eye with his paw and wondered whether he had really seen them at all. Jerry, the dog, also enjoyed the warm spring breeze and stalked across the lawn, taking a sniff in Billy's direction, but keeping his distance. Billy's claws were sharp and he resented any familiarity. Finally the cheerful song of the cardinal called to Mrs. Cardinal that he had found the place. He stopped to talk to Mr. Sparrow: "Why do you always quarrel? Is there not room enough for us all in these beautiful trees?" Mr. Sparrow looked at him thoughtfully. He commenced smoothing his feathers, as he felt positively ill-dressed and insignificant near this resplendent songster.
"'Tis better to find all the fault before you build!" he finally said. "Besides, you know, my throat seems only suited to chirping and fault-finding, but I mean well. Perhaps, Master Cardinal, what you say may be dismal, too, if we could understand it, but you have a presence and a voice and it sounds well!" The cardinal sighed and flew off to find more congenial company.
The site he had selected in the old oak tree was approved by Mrs. Cardinal, and they started after building material. Such funny material, too! Little thought the old pony that many of his long hairs would grace a cardinal's nest. Jerry contributed also and a nice piece of pussy's fur make the loveliest lining, all of these strange materials being woven together upon tiny twigs.
Old Mr. Sun, looking down through the branches of the tree at the cozy little home, called good-night. "You have made good use of this fine spring day!" said he, and so they had, my loves--so they had.
THE FORGETFUL POET
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, February 24, 1918.
I told the Forgetful Poet that I never heard of a reasonable riddle, but he says that they are the most reasonable things in the world, because they can always be answered.
"Then just kindly answer the ones you gave us last week!" I suggested, for to tell the truth more than one of his verses had puzzled me. "Certainly, certainly," said this singular gentleman, and rattled off the following: "Date, loaf, meat, bran, pear, jam, rye, preserves and bread."
"Do you know any more like that?" I asked, gloomily, "because - "
"There once was a man
Who felt aw'fly bad--
Such a terrible deep chested
-------? had er--"
Before he could start another one, I hastened to finish my sentence which had been cut short by his verse. "Because, if yo do, I hope you forget them!"
Without paying the slightest attention he rattled off another--
"Who'll -------- the depths of knowledge must
Go through a lot that's dry as dust!"
"Just fill in the places where I said blank with something to drink and something to eat!" he chuckled. "And now if you'll just excuse me, I'll be getting hence!" Which he proceeded to do. Can you tell me now what the the three finest letters in the alphabet? And can you tell me the sentence written here?
C U R 1 2 X L.
And the following words: y10--oacccc--z 10 u 8? R K D A.
For the neatest and most correctly spelled answer there will be a surprise. Send your letters to the Forgetful Poet, care of the Ledger.
[Answers next time. This is a historical presentation of Ruth Plumly Thompson's writing. Please don't send in any answers--no surprise will be awarded.]
Copyright © 2006 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.
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