"The Tale of the Enchanted Broom"
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of Speedy in Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, The Wish Express, "King, King! Double King!" etc.
Originally published in the Phildelphia Public Ledger, May 30, 1920.
Once upon a time two girls were left alone in the world with only a tumble-down cottage and a crooked-horned cow. No, that is not quite all; for to Elsa, their old grandmother had left a long-handled broom and to Ellen a stout scubbing brush.
"Fie!" said Ellen the day after the funeral, and, picking up the scrubbing brush, hurled it out of the window.
"I'm going to sell the cow, sister, and go to the city to find pleasant work. You may stay here and drudge if you care to!" Elsa said nothing, for she knew Ellen would have her way. After Ellen had gone she sat sadly down by the hearth and wept. It would have been better had she cleaned up the cottage, but, no one to scold her if she did not - what was the use? Pretty soon there came a knock at the door. It was a weary traveler and his wife riding through the village on their way to the city.
"Can we rest here, my good girl?" asked the man; but his wife looked round the untidy room and pulled him out.
"I will not stay in such a place!" said she. They both turned away, and Ellen [sic] saw the man slip a piece of silver back in his purse.
"Ah, how unfortunate I am!" wailed Elsa, and started to weep again. There was only a moldy loaf of bread in the cupboard, and after that was gone she would surely starve. That night a neighbor called and found Elsa still sitting by the hearth.
"Sorrow is well enough, but it will not get you far in the world," said the old lady, looking at her reprovingly.
"Now I am old and you are young. If you will clean out my cottage every day I will give you a fine cow, and you may make butter and sell it in town."
"I'm no drudge," said Elsa, suddenly, and away went the old lady in a huff. At this the broomstick standing in the corner fell to the floor with a crash. The second day Elsa had eaten the last of the loaf.
"No one cares whether I starve!" groaned poor Elsa.
"I do," said a queer little voice, and Elsa looked all around the room, but not a soul was in sight.
"Here I am," said the same voice, and Elsa found that it came from the broom.
"Why don't you clean up?" asked the broom. Elsa was cross and hungry, and when she found it was nothing but a broom talking she gave it a push with her foot and flung herself on the floor. By night time she was hungrier than ever.
"I'll starve! I'll starve!" she wailed dismally.
"No, you won't! No, you won't!" persisted the patient broom.
"I'll help you! I'll help you!" Elsa poked her fingers in her ears, but the broom kept calling till at last she tumbled across the room determined to toss it out the window. But no sooner had her fingers closed on the handle than the broom began to sweep.
"Maybe I will go to the old lady's," murmured Elsa, pleased with the light way the broom slid over the floor. At this the broom gave a little skip, and before she realized it Elsa had swept out the whole cottage. And just as she finished a knock came on the door. It was the same traveler and his wife, this time on the way back.
"How cozy it looks here," sighed the little lady. "Can we remain all night, my dear, and cook our supper over your fire?" And not only did they stay, but invited Elsa to share supper with them, and before they went off in the morning left a goldpiece behind them. Away to the old lady's skipped Elsa with her broom, and so diligently did she work that there was soon a great demand for her services.Moreover, wherever that broom swept old carpet became new and old floors polished and fine. So it was not long before Elsa was rich - rich enough to buy a big, handsome cottage and to invite Ellen backfrom the city to live with her. And not only did they have twenty frocks apiece, but ice cream every day. Ellen searched everywhere for the lost scrubbing bush, but it never was found, which is a pity, for I think it was enchanted, too; though the broom said over and over, "Industry was the only magic to overcome misfortune!"
THE FORGETFUL POET
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, January 25, 1920.
The Puzzle Corner
The Forgetful Poet begs to state that the minutes of a meeting are red (read) and the some stockings can tell time because they have clocks.
"And now," says he, "what ocean has a relation?"
What shoe, now guess
This rhyme for me,
Will name a
What is it takes
Most all man earns,
And is alive, sirs,
When it ------?
[Answers next time.]
Copyright © 2013 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.
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