"The Great Leaping Match"
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, The Wish Express, "King, King! Double King!", etc.
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 26, 1920.
Up in the mountains of Vermont lives an old Dwyer Dwarf, who each year gives a gift to one of the little animals of the mountain top, and never do they know until the day of the giving how the gift shall be won. Dwyer Dwarfs are queer little men, who have always lived in those green mountains, nor does any one know what their name means. But just let a small animal greet one with, "Good morning, Mr. Dwarf!" instead of "Good morning, Mr. Dwyer Dwarf!" and like as not he will have his tail or ear wished off in a twinkling.
But the Dwyer Dwarf that I am telling you about was kinder than his fellows and every New Year's day he would appear on a particular stump and give to one of the animals a tiny charm, which kept him from every enemy and all harm for a whole year.
So on New Year's day the animals forgot their grudges and assembled at the dwarf's meeting place and, when the last one had arrived, a little door in the top opened and out popped the Dwyer Dwarf, his beard all combed and his face twinkling with good humor.
And after he had wished them all the good things on Green Mountain and said "Howde" to all the new children, he rubbed his hands and said he was minded to have a leaping contest, and to the one leaping the greatest number of feet the good gift should be given. At this the smaller animals were very downcast.
"Use your wits as well as your heels, remember!" chuckled the dwarf, "and come back here in one hour for the contest.
The animals walked off talking among themselves, the deer stepping proudly, for it seemed that one of their number surely would win the prize - although there were some who thought the foxes and rabbits might have a chance, too, though of the smaller animals no one had a thought.
But a little Father Wood Mouse, who had a new family of girls and boys, was thinking of the Dwyer Dwarf's last words, "Remember to use your wits as well as your heels," and he sat down right where he was and thought and thought, and pretty soon he went pattering off to see a friend of his who lived in a hole in an abandoned lumber camp.
"Come along with me, Featherfoot, for I've an idea you will be of use to me," said the little creature.
Now, Featherfoot, being an obliging fellow, went along with Father Mouse, and when the animals were assembled for the contest he was there also. But no one saw him, for he was so very, very hard to see.
And now began the most wonderful leaping match ever held. The rabbits hurled themselves like furry cannon balls into the air and squirrels seemed fairly to fly. Even the bears made surprising springs, while the foxes outdid themselves. But when the deer floated like feathers over a huge pile of logs the whole company felt that one of these would win the contest, and the Dwyer Dwarf himself thought so, and bade them line up for another trial.
"Not until I have tried!" piped up a small voice, and Father Wood Mouse stepped forward. He made a queer little jump, then cried excitedly:
"I have won the good gift; I have jumped over a hundred feet!"
And when the animals rolled over with laughter he only cried it the louder, till the dwarf came down to see what he meant by such a statement. Then he laughed till the tears rolled like pearls off his beard and gave the prize to that tiny Wood Mouse, for he had indeed jumped over a hundred feet and won the contest with his wits. He had jumped over Featherfoot, the thousand-legger, whose feet numbered more than a hundred. Think of that, dears and ducks!
THE FORGETFUL POET
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 15, 1918.
I really do not think we need any puzzles this week. I think we are all puzzled enough, sweethearts, over our Christmas lists. To find for every one that we love at Christmas just the right and loveliest gift, to choose something no one else may, why surely this is a riddle worthy of Solomon Tremendous Wise himself! Don't you think?
The Forgetful Poet is so busy solving it that he merely sent a slip of paper with the answer to his last week's query - no sign of a new verse or riddle! He says that a sailor should never be hungry because he walks with a roll. Ho, ho; did you ever!
The following puzzle was handed in by a bird who evidently got it from a fairy:
An Elf's Room
I have a room all to myself,
With ceiling but no walls;
And there I sit and sip my tea
And wait for fairy calls.
What kind of room do you 'spose it could be?
[Answers next time]
Copyright © 2009 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.
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