Lyman Frank Baum - 1856 – 1919
L. Frank Baum was an American author chiefly known for his children's books, particularly The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. He wrote thirteen novel sequels, nine other fantasy novels, and a host of other works (55 novels in total, plus four ”lost” novels, 83 short stories, over 200 poems, an unknown number of scripts, and many miscellaneous writings), and made numerous attempts to bring his works to the stage and screen.
His works anticipated such century-later commonplaces as television, augmented reality, laptop computers (The Master Key), wireless telephons (Tik-Tok of Oz), women in high risk, action-heavy occupations (Mary Louise in the Country), and the ubiquity of advertising on clothing (Aunt Jane's Nieces at Work).
THE GLASS DOG
An accomplished wizard once lived on the top floor of a tenement house and passed his time in thoughtful study and studious thought. What he didn't know about wizardry was hardly worth knowing, for he possessed all the books and recipes of all the wizards who had lived before him; and, moreover, he had invented several wizardments himself.
This admirable person would have been completely happy but for the numerous interruptions to his studies caused by folk who came to consult him about their troubles (in which he was not interested), and by the loud knocks of the iceman, the milkman, the baker's boy, the laundryman and the peanut woman. He never dealt with any of these people; but they rapped at his door every day to see him about this or that or to try to sell him their wares. Just when he was most deeply interested in his books or engaged in watching the bubbling of a cauldron there would come a knock at his door. And after sending the intruder away he always found he had lost his train of thought or ruined his compound.
At length these interruptions aroused his anger, and he decided he must have a dog to keep people away from his door. He didn't know where to find a dog, but in the next room lived a poor glass-blower with whom he had a slight acquaintance; so he went into the man's apartment and asked:
"Where can I find a dog?"
"What sort of a dog?" inquired the glass-blower.
"A good dog. One that will bark at people and drive them away. One that will be no trouble to keep and won't expect to be fed. One that has no fleas and is neat in his habits. One that will obey me when I speak to him. In short, a good dog," said the wizard.
"Such a dog is hard to find," returned the glass-blower, who was busy making a blue glass flower pot with a pink glass rosebush in it, having green glass leaves and yellow glass roses.
The wizard watched him thoughtfully.
"Why cannot you blow me a dog out of glass?" he asked, presently.
"I can," declared the glass-blower; "but it would not bark at people, you know."
"Oh, I'll fix that easily enough," replied the other. "If I could not make a glass dog bark I would be a mighty poor wizard."
"Very well; if you can use a glass dog I'll be pleased to blow one for you. Only, you must pay for my work."
"Certainly," agreed the wizard. "But I have none of that horrid stuff you call money. You must take some of my wares in exchange."
The glass-blower considered the matter for a moment.
"Could you give me something to cure my rheumatism?" he asked.
"Oh, yes; easily."
"Then it's a bargain. I'll start the dog at once. What color of glass shall I use?"
"Pink is a pretty color," said the wizard, "and it's unusual for a dog, isn't it?"
"Very," answered the glass-blower; "but it shall be pink."
So the wizard went back to his studies and the glass-blower began to make the dog.
Next morning he entered the wizard's room with the glass dog under his arm and set it carefully upon the table. It was a beautiful pink in color, with a fine coat of spun glass, and about its neck was twisted a blue glass ribbon. Its eyes were specks of black glass and sparkled intelligently, as do many of the glass eyes worn by men.
The wizard expressed himself pleased with the glass-blower's skill and at once handed him a small vial.
"This will cure your rheumatism," he said.
"But the vial is empty!" protested the glass-blower.
"Oh, no; there is one drop of liquid in it," was the wizard's reply.
"Will one drop cure my rheumatism?" inquired the glass-blower, in wonder.
"Most certainly. That is a marvelous remedy. The one drop contained in the vial will cure instantly any kind of disease ever known to humanity. Therefore it is especially good for rheumatism. But guard it well, for it is the only drop of its kind in the world, and I've forgotten the recipe."
"Thank you," said the glass-blower, and went back to his room.
Then the wizard cast a wizzy spell and mumbled several very learned words in the wizardese language over the glass dog. Whereupon the little animal first wagged its tail from side to side, then winked his left eye knowingly, and at last began barking in a most frightful manner—that is, when you stop to consider the noise came from a pink glass dog. There is something almost astonishing in the magic arts of wizards; unless, of course, you know how to do the things yourself, when you are not expected to be surprised at them.
The wizard was as delighted as a school teacher at the success of his spell, although he was not astonished. Immediately he placed the dog outside his door, where it would bark at anyone who dared knock and so disturb the studies of its master.
The glass-blower, on returning to his room, decided not to use the one drop of wizard cure-all just then.
"My rheumatism is better to-day," he reflected, "and I will be wise to save the medicine for a time when I am very ill, when it will be of more service to me."
So he placed the vial in his cupboard and went to work blowing more roses out of glass. Presently he happened to think the medicine might not keep, so he started to ask the wizard about it. But when he reached the door the glass dog barked so fiercely that he dared not knock, and returned in great haste to his own room. Indeed, the poor man was quite upset at so unfriendly a reception from the dog he had himself so carefully and skillfully made.
The next morning, as he read his newspaper, he noticed an article stating that the beautiful Miss Mydas, the richest young lady in town, was very ill, and the doctors had given up hope of her recovery.
The glass-blower, although miserably poor, hard-working and homely of feature, was a man of ideas. He suddenly recollected his precious medicine, and determined to use it to better advantage than relieving his own ills. He dressed himself in his best clothes, brushed his hair and combed his whiskers, washed his hands and tied his necktie, blackened his hoes and sponged his vest, and then put the vial of magic cure-all in his pocket.
Next he locked his door, went downstairs and walked through the streets to the grand mansion where the wealthy Miss Mydas resided.
Next he locked his door, went downstairs and walked through the streets to the grand mansion where the wealthy Miss Mydas resided.
The butler opened the door and said:
"No soap, no chromos, no vegetables, no hair oil, no books, no baking powder. My young lady is dying and we're well supplied for the funeral."
The glass-blower was grieved at being taken for a peddler.
"My friend," he began, proudly; but the butler interrupted him, saying:
"No tombstones, either; there's a family graveyard and the monument's built."
"The graveyard won't be needed if you will permit me to speak," said the glass-blower.
"No doctors, sir; they've given up my young lady, and she's given up the doctors," continued the butler, calmly.
"I'm no doctor," returned the glass-blower.
"Nor are the others. But what is your errand?"
"I called to cure your young lady by means of a magical compound."
"Step in, please, and take a seat in the hall. I'll speak to the housekeeper," said the butler, more politely.
So he spoke to the housekeeper and the housekeeper mentioned the matter to the steward and the steward consulted the chef and the chef kissed the lady's maid and sent her to see the stranger. Thus are the very wealthy hedged around with ceremony, even when dying.
When the lady's maid heard from the glass-blower that he had a medicine which would cure her mistress, she said:
"I'm glad you came."
"But," said he, "if I restore your mistress to health she must marry me."
"I'll make inquiries and see if she's willing," answered the maid, and went at once to consult Miss Mydas.
The young lady did not hesitate an instant.
"I'd marry any old thing rather than die!" she cried. "Bring him here at once!"
So the glass-blower came, poured the magic drop into a little water, gave it to the patient, and the next minute Miss Mydas was as well as she had ever been in her life.
"Dear me!" she exclaimed; "I've an engagement at the Fritters' reception to-night. Bring my pearl-colored silk, Marie, and I will begin my toilet at once. And don't forget to cancel the order for the funeral flowers and your mourning gown."
"But, Miss Mydas," remonstrated the glass-blower, who stood by, "you promised to marry me if I cured you."
"I know," said the young lady, "but we must have time to make proper announcement in the society papers and have the wedding cards engraved. Call to-morrow and we'll talk it over."
The glass-blower had not impressed her favorably as a husband, and she was glad to find an excuse for getting rid of him for a time. And she did not want to miss the Fritters' reception.
Yet the man went home filled with joy; for he thought his stratagem had succeeded and he was about to marry a rich wife who would keep him in luxury forever afterward.
The first thing he did on reaching his room was to smash his glass-blowing tools and throw them out of the window.
He then sat down to figure out ways of spending his wife's money.
The following day he called upon Miss Mydas, who was reading a novel and eating chocolate creams as happily as if she had never been ill in her life.
"Where did you get the magic compound that cured me?" she asked.
"From a learned wizard," said he; and then, thinking it would interest her, he told how he had made the glass dog for the wizard, and how it barked and kept everybody from bothering him.
"How delightful!" she said. "I've always wanted a glass dog that could bark."
"But there is only one in the world," he answered, "and it belongs to the wizard."
"You must buy it for me," said the lady.
"The wizard cares nothing for money," replied the glass-blower.
"Then you must steal it for me," she retorted. "I can never live happily another day unless I have a glass dog that can bark."
The glass-blower was much distressed at this, but said he would see what he could do. For a man should always try to please his wife, and Miss Mydas has promised to marry him within a week.
On his way home he purchased a heavy sack, and when he passed the wizard's door and the pink glass dog ran out to bark at him he threw the sack over the dog, tied the opening with a piece of twine, and carried him away to his own room.
The next day he sent the sack by a messenger boy to Miss Mydas, with his compliments, and later in the afternoon he called upon her in person, feeling quite sure he would be received with gratitude for stealing the dog she so greatly desired.
But when he came to the door and the butler opened it, what was his amazement to see the glass dog rush out and begin barking at him furiously.
"Call off your dog," he shouted, in terror.
"I can't, sir," answered the butler. "My young lady has ordered the glass dog to bark whenever you call here. You'd better look out, sir," he added, "for if it bites you, you may have glassophobia!"
This so frightened the poor glass-blower that he went away hurriedly. But he stopped at a drug store and put his last dime in the telephone box so he could talk to Miss Mydas without being bitten by the dog.
"Give me Pelf 6742!" he called.
"Hello! What is it?" said a voice.
"I want to speak with Miss Mydas," said the glass-blower.
Presently a sweet voice said: "This is Miss Mydas. What is it?"
"Why have you treated me so cruelly and set the glass dog on me?" asked the poor fellow.
"Well, to tell the truth," said the lady, "I don't like your looks. Your cheeks are pale and baggy, your hair is coarse and long, your eyes are small and red, your hands are big and rough, and you are bow-legged."
"But I can't help my looks!" pleaded the glass-blower; "and you really promised to marry me."
"If you were better looking I'd keep my promise," she returned. "But under the circumstances you are no fit mate for me, and unless you keep away from my mansion I shall set my glass dog on you!" Then she dropped the 'phone and would have nothing more to say.
The miserable glass-blower went home with a heart bursting with disappointment and began tying a rope to the bedpost by which to hang himself.
Some one knocked at the door, and, upon opening it, he saw the wizard.
"I've lost my dog," he announced.
"Have you, indeed?" replied the glass-blower tying a knot in the rope.
"Yes; some one has stolen him."
"That's too bad," declared the glass-blower, indifferently.
"You must make me another," said the wizard.
"But I cannot; I've thrown away my tools."
"Then what shall I do?" asked the wizard.
"I do not know, unless you offer a reward for the dog."
"But I have no money," said the wizard.
"Offer some of your compounds, then," suggested the glass-blower, who was making a noose in the rope for his head to go through.
"The only thing I can spare," replied the wizard, thoughtfully, "is a Beauty Powder."
"What!" cried the glass-blower, throwing down the rope, "have you really such a thing?"
"Yes, indeed. Whoever takes the powder will become the most beautiful person in the world."
"If you will offer that as a reward," said the glass-blower, eagerly, "I'll try to find the dog for you, for above everything else I long to be beautiful."
"But I warn you the beauty will only be skin deep," said the wizard.
"That's all right," replied the happy glass-blower; "when I lose my skin I shan't care to remain beautiful."
"Then tell me where to find my dog and you shall have the powder," promised the wizard.
So the glass-blower went out and pretended to search, and by-and-by he returned and said:
"I've discovered the dog. You will find him in the mansion of Miss Mydas."
The wizard went at once to see if this were true, and, sure enough, the glass dog ran out and began barking at him. Then the wizard spread out his hands and chanted a magic spell which sent the dog fast asleep, when he picked him up and carried him to his own room on the top floor of the tenement house.
Afterward he carried the Beauty Powder to the glass-blower as a reward, and the fellow immediately swallowed it and became the most beautiful man in the world.
The next time he called upon Miss Mydas there was no dog to bark at him, and when the young lady saw him she fell in love with his beauty at once.
"If only you were a count or a prince," she sighed, "I'd willingly marry you."
"But I am a prince," he answered; "the Prince of Dogblowers."
"Ah!" said she; "then if you are willing to accept an allowance of four dollars a week I'll order the wedding cards engraved."
The man hesitated, but when he thought of the rope hanging from his bedpost he consented to the terms.
So they were married, and the bride was very jealous of her husband's beauty and led him a dog's life. So he managed to get into debt and made her miserable in turn.
As for the glass dog, the wizard set him barking again by means of his wizardness and put him outside his door. I suppose he is there yet, and am rather sorry, for I should like to consult the wizard about the moral to this story.
THE GIRL WHO OWNED A BEAR
Mamma had gone down-town to shop. She had asked Nora to look after Jane Gladys, and Nora promised she would. But it was her afternoon for polishing the silver, so she stayed in the pantry and left Jane Gladys to amuse herself alone in the big sitting-room upstairs.
The little girl did not mind being alone, for she was working on her first piece of embroidery—a sofa pillow for papa's birthday present. So she crept into the big bay window and curled herself up on the broad sill while she bent her brown head over her work.
Soon the door opened and closed again, quietly. Jane Gladys thought it was Nora, so she didn't look up until she had taken a couple more stitches on a forget-me-not. Then she raised her eyes and was astonished to find a strange man in the middle of the room, who regarded her earnestly.
He was short and fat, and seemed to be breathing heavily from his climb up the stairs. He held a work silk hat in one hand and underneath his other elbow was tucked a good-sized book. He was dressed in a black suit that looked old and rather shabby, and his head was bald upon the top.
"Excuse me," he said, while the child gazed at him in solemn surprise. "Are you Jane Gladys Brown?"
"Yes, sir," she answered.
"Very good; very good, indeed!" he remarked, with a queer sort of smile. "I've had quite a hunt to find you, but I've succeeded at last."
"How did you get in?" inquired Jane Gladys, with a growing distrust of her visitor.
"That is a secret," he said, mysteriously.
This was enough to put the girl on her guard. She looked at the man and the man looked at her, and both looks were grave and somewhat anxious.
"What do you want?" she asked, straightening herself up with a dignified air.
"Ah!—now we are coming to business," said the man, briskly. "I'm going to be quite frank with you. To begin with, your father has abused me in a most ungentlemanly manner."
Jane Gladys got off the window sill and pointed her small finger at the door.
"Leave this room 'meejitly!" she cried, her voice trembling with indignation. "My papa is the best man in the world. He never 'bused anybody!"
"Allow me to explain, please," said the visitor, without paying any attention to her request to go away. "Your father may be very kind to you, for you are his little girl, you know. But when he's down-town in his office he's inclined to be rather severe, especially on book agents. Now, I called on him the other day and asked him to buy the 'Complete Works of Peter Smith,' and what do you suppose he did?"
She said nothing.
"Why," continued the man, with growing excitement, "he ordered me from his office, and had me put out of the building by the janitor! What do you think of such treatment as that from the 'best papa in the world,' eh?"
"I think he was quite right," said Jane Gladys.
"Oh, you do? Well," said the man, "I resolved to be revenged for the insult. So, as your father is big and strong and a dangerous man, I have decided to be revenged upon his little girl."
Jane Gladys shivered.
"What are you going to do?" she asked.
"I'm going to present you with this book," he answered, taking it from under his arm. Then he sat down on the edge of a chair, placed his hat on the rug and drew a fountain pen from his vest pocket.
"I'll write your name in it," said he. "How do you spell Gladys?"
"G-l-a-d-y-s," she replied.
"Thank you. Now this," he continued, rising and handing her the book with a bow, "is my revenge for your father's treatment of me. Perhaps he'll be sorry he didn't buy the 'Complete Works of Peter Smith.' Good-by, my dear."
He walked to the door, gave her another bow, and left the room, and Jane Gladys could see that he was laughing to himself as if very much amused.
When the door had closed behind the queer little man the child sat down in the window again and glanced at the book. It had a red and yellow cover and the word "Thingamajigs" was across the front in big letters.
Then she opened it, curiously, and saw her name written in black letters upon the first white leaf.
"He was a funny little man," she said to herself, thoughtfully.
She turned the next leaf, and saw a big picture of a clown, dressed in green and red and yellow, and having a very white face with three-cornered spots of red on each cheek and over the eyes. While she looked at this the book trembled in her hands, the leaf crackled and creaked and suddenly the clown jumped out of it and stood upon the floor beside her, becoming instantly as big as any ordinary clown.
After stretching his arms and legs and yawning in a rather impolite manner, he gave a silly chuckle and said:
"This is better! You don't know how cramped one gets, standing so long upon a page of flat paper."
Perhaps you can imagine how startled Jane Gladys was, and how she stared at the clown who had just leaped out of the book.
"You didn't expect anything of this sort, did you?" he asked, leering at her in clown fashion. Then he turned around to take a look at the room and Jane Gladys laughed in spite of her astonishment.
"What amuses you?" demanded the clown.
"Why, the back of you is all white!" cried the girl. "You're only a clown in front of you."
"Quite likely," he returned, in an annoyed tone. "The artist made a front view of me. He wasn't expected to make the back of me, for that was against the page of the book."
"But it makes you look so funny!" said Jane Gladys, laughing until her eyes were moist with tears.
The clown looked sulky and sat down upon a chair so she couldn't see his back.
"I'm not the only thing in the book," he remarked, crossly.
This reminded her to turn another page, and she had scarcely noted that it contained the picture of a monkey when the animal sprang from the book with a great crumpling of paper and landed upon the window seat beside her.
"He-he-he-he-he!" chattered the creature, springing to the girl's shoulder and then to the center table. "This is great fun! Now I can be a real monkey instead of a picture of one."
"Real monkeys can't talk," said Jane Gladys, reprovingly.
"How do you know? Have you ever been one yourself ?" inquired the animal; and then he laughed loudly, and the clown laughed, too, as if he enjoyed the remark.
The girl was quite bewildered by this time. She thoughtlessly turned another leaf, and before she had time to look twice a gray donkey leaped from the book and stumbled from the window seat to the floor with a great clatter.
"You're clumsy enough, I'm sure!" said the child, indignantly, for the beast had nearly upset her.
"Clumsy! And why not?" demanded the donkey, with angry voice. "If the fool artist had drawn you out of perspective, as he did me, I guess you'd be clumsy yourself."
"What's wrong with you?" asked Jane Gladys.
"My front and rear legs on the left side are nearly six inches too short, that's what's the matter! If that artist didn't know how to draw properly why did he try to make a donkey at all ?"
"I don't know," replied the child, seeing an answer was expected.
"I can hardly stand up," grumbled the donkey; "and the least little thing will topple me over."
"Don't mind that," said the monkey, making a spring at the chandelier and swinging from it by his tail until Jane Gladys feared he would knock all the globes off; "the same artist has made my ears as big as that clown's and everyone knows a monkey hasn't any ears to speak of—much less to draw."
"He should be prosecuted," remarked the clown, gloomily. "I haven't any back."
Jane Gladys looked from one to the other with a puzzled expression upon her sweet face, and turned another page of the book.
Swift as a flash there sprang over her shoulder a tawney, spotted leopard, which landed upon the back of a big leather armchair and turned upon the others with a fierce movement.
The monkey climbed to the top of the chandelier and chattered with fright. The donkey tried to run and straightway tipped over on his left side. The clown grew paler than ever, but he sat still in his chair and gave a low whistle of surprise.
The leopard crouched upon the back of the chair, lashed his tail from side to side and glared at all of them, by turns, including Jane Gladys.
"Which of us are you going to attack first?" asked the donkey, trying hard to get upon his feet again.
"I can't attack any of you," snarled the leopard. "The artist made my mouth shut, so I haven't any teeth; and he forgot to make my claws. But I'm a frightful looking creature, nevertheless; am I not?"
"Oh, yes;" said the clown, indifferently. "I suppose you're frightful looking enough. But if you have no teeth nor claws we don't mind your looks at all."
This so annoyed the leopard that he growled horribly, and the monkey laughed at him.
Just then the book slipped from the girl's lap, and as she made a movement to catch it one of the pages near the back opened wide. She caught a glimpse of a fierce grizzly bear looking at her from the page, and quickly threw the book from her. It fell with a crash in the middle of the room, but beside it stood the great grizzly, who had wrenched himself from the page before the book closed.
"Now," cried the leopard from his perch, "you'd better look out for yourselves! You can't laugh at him as you did at me. The bear has both claws and teeth."
"Indeed I have," said the bear, in a low, deep, growling voice. "And I know how to use them, too. If you read in that book you'll find I'm described as a horrible, cruel and remorseless grizzly, whose only business in life is to eat up little girls—shoes, dresses, ribbons and all! And then, the author says, I smack my lips and glory in my wickedness."
"That's awful!" said the donkey, sitting upon his haunches and shaking his head sadly. "What do you suppose possessed the author to make you so hungry for girls? Do you eat animals, also?"
"The author does not mention my eating anything but little girls," replied the bear.
"Very good," remarked the clown, drawing a long breath of relief. "you may begin eating Jane Gladys as soon as you wish. She laughed because I had no back."
"And she laughed because my legs are out of perspective," brayed the donkey.
"But you also deserve to be eaten," screamed the leopard from the back of the leather chair; "for you laughed and poked fun at me because I had no claws nor teeth! Don't you suppose Mr. Grizzly, you could manage to eat a clown, a donkey and a monkey after you finish the girl?"
"Perhaps so, and a leopard into the bargain," growled the bear. "It will depend on how hungry I am. But I must begin on the little girl first, because the author says I prefer girls to anything."
Jane Gladys was much frightened on hearing this conversation, and she began to realize what the man meant when he said he gave her the book to be revenged. Surely papa would be sorry he hadn't bought the "Complete Works of Peter Smith" when he came home and found his little girl eaten up by a grizzly bear—shoes, dress, ribbons and all!
The bear stood up and balanced himself on his rear legs.
"This is the way I look in the book," he said. "Now watch me eat the little girl."
He advanced slowly toward Jane Gladys, and the monkey, the leopard, the donkey and the clown all stood around in a circle and watched the bear with much interest.
But before the grizzly reached her the child had a sudden thought, and cried out:
"Stop! You mustn't eat me. It would be wrong."
"Why?" asked the bear, in surprise.
"Because I own you. You're my private property," she answered.
"I don't see how you make that out," said the bear, in a disappointed tone.
"Why, the book was given to me; my name's on the front leaf. And you belong, by rights, in the book. So you mustn't dare to eat your owner!"
The Grizzly hesitated.
"Can any of you read?" he asked.
"I can," said the clown.
"Then see if she speaks the truth. Is her name really in the book?"
The clown picked it up and looked at the name.
"It is," said he. "'Jane Gladys Brown;' and written quite plainly in big letters."
The bear sighed.
"Then, of course, I can't eat her," he decided. "That author is as disappointing as most authors are."
"But he's not as bad as the artist," exclaimed the donkey, who was still trying to stand up straight.
"The fault lies with yourselves," said Jane Gladys, severely. "Why didn't you stay in the book, where you were put?"
The animals looked at each other in a foolish way, and the clown blushed under his white paint.
"Really—" began the bear, and then he stopped short.
The door bell rang loudly.
"It's mamma!" cried Jane Gladys, springing to her feet. "She's come home at last. Now, you stupid creatures"
But she was interrupted by them all making a rush for the book. There was a swish and a whirr and a rustling of leaves, and an instant later the book lay upon the floor looking just like any other book, while Jane Gladys' strange companions had all disappeared.
This story should teach us to think quickly and clearly upon all occasions; for had Jane Gladys not remembered that she owned the bear he probably would have eaten her before the bell rang.
THE MAGIC BON BONS
There lived in Boston a wise and ancient chemist by the name of Dr. Daws, who dabbled somewhat in magic. There also lived in Boston a young lady by the name of Claribel Sudds, who was possessed of much money, little wit and an intense desire to go upon the stage.
So Claribel went to Dr. Daws and said:
"I can neither sing nor dance; I cannot recite verse nor play upon the piano; I am no acrobat nor leaper nor high kicker; yet I wish to go upon the stage. What shall I do?"
"Are you willing to pay for such accomplishments?" asked the wise chemist.
"Certainly," answered Claribel, jingling her purse.
"Then come to me to-morrow at two o'clock," said he.
All that night he practiced what is known as chemical sorcery; so that when Claribel Sudds came next day at two o'clock he showed her a small box filled with compounds that closely resembled French bonbons.
"This is a progressive age," said the old man, "and I flatter myself your Uncle Daws keeps right along with the procession. Now, one of your old-fashioned sorcerers would have made you some nasty, bitter pills to swallow; but I have consulted your taste and convenience. Here are some magic bonbons. If you eat this one with the lavender color you can dance thereafter as lightly and gracefully as if you had been trained a lifetime. After you consume the pink confection you will sing like a nightingale. Eating the white one will enable you to become the finest elocutionist in the land. The chocolate piece will charm you into playing the piano better than Rubenstein, while after eating you lemon-yellow bonbon you can easily kick six feet above your head."
"How delightful!" exclaimed Claribel, who was truly enraptured. "You are certainly a most clever sorcerer as well as a considerate compounder," and she held out her hand for the box.
"Ahem!" said the wise one; "a check, please."
"Oh, yes; to be sure! How stupid of me to forget it," she returned.
He considerately retained the box in his own hand while she signed a check for a large amount of money, after which he allowed her to hold the box herself.
"Are you sure you have made them strong enough?" she inquired, anxiously; "it usually takes a great deal to affect me."
"My only fear," replied Dr. Daws, "is that I have made them too strong. For this is the first time I have ever been called upon to prepare these wonderful confections."
"Don't worry," said Claribel; "the stronger they act the better I shall act myself."
She went away, after saying this, but stopping in at a dry goods store to shop, she forgot the precious box in her new interest and left it lying on the ribbon counter.
Then little Bessie Bostwick came to the counter to buy a hair ribbon and laid her parcels beside the box. When she went away she gathered up the box with her other bundles and trotted off home with it.
Bessie never knew, until after she had hung her coat in the hall closet and counted up her parcels, that she had one too many. Then she opened it and exclaimed:
"Why, it's a box of candy! Someone must have mislaid it. But it is too small a matter to worry about; there are only a few pieces." So she dumped the contents of the box into a bonbon dish that stood upon the hall table and picking out the chocolate piece—she was fond of chocolates—ate it daintily while she examined her purchases.
These were not many, for Bessie was only twelve years old and was not yet trusted by her parents to expend much money at the stores. But while she tried on the hair ribbon she suddenly felt a great desire to play upon the piano, and the desire at last became so overpowering that she went into the parlor and opened the instrument.
The little girl had, with infinite pains, contrived to learn two "pieces" which she usually executed with a jerky movement of her right hand and a left hand that forgot to keep up and so made dreadful discords. But under the influence of the chocolate bonbon she sat down and ran her fingers lightly over the keys producing such exquisite harmony that she was filled with amazement at her own performance.
That was the prelude, however. The next moment she dashed into Beethoven's seventh sonata and played it magnificently.
Her mother, hearing the unusual burst of melody, came downstairs to see what musical guest had arrived; but when she discovered it was her own little daughter who was playing so divinely she had an attack of palpitation of the heart (to which she was subject) and sat down upon a sofa until it should pass away.
Meanwhile Bessie played one piece after another with untiring energy. She loved music, and now found that all she need do was to sit at the piano and listen and watch her hands twinkle over the keyboard.
Twilight deepened in the room and Bessie's father came home and hung up his hat and overcoat and placed his umbrella in the rack. Then he peeped into the parlor to see who was playing.
"Great Caesar!" he exclaimed. But the mother came to him softly with her finger on her lips and whispered:
"Don't interrupt her, John. Our child seems to be in a trance. Did you ever hear such superb music?"
"Don't interrupt her, John. Our child seems to be in a trance. Did you ever hear such superb music?"
"Why, she's an infant prodigy!" gasped the astounded father. "Beats Blind Tom all hollow! It's—it's wonderful!"
As they stood listening the senator arrived, having been invited to dine with them that evening. And before he had taken off his coat the Yale professor—a man of deep learning and scholarly attainments—joined the party.
Bessie played on; and the four elders stood in a huddled but silent and amazed group, listening to the music and waiting for the sound of the dinner gong.
Mr. Bostwick, who was hungry, picked up the bonbon dish that lay on the table beside him and ate the pink confection. The professor was watching him, so Mr. Bostwick courteously held the dish toward him. The professor ate the lemon-yellow piece and the senator reached out his hand and took the lavender piece. He did not eat it, however, for, chancing to remember that it might spoil his dinner, he put it in his vest pocket. Mrs. Bostwick, still intently listening to her precocious daughter, without thinking what she did, took the remaining piece, which was the white one, and slowly devoured it.
The dish was now empty, and Claribel Sudds' precious bonbons had passed from her possession forever!
Suddenly Mr. Bostwick, who was a big man, began to sing in a shrill, tremolo soprano voice. It was not the same song Bessie was playing, and the discord was shocking that the professor smiled, the senator put his hands to his ears and Mrs. Bostwick cried in a horrified voice:
Her husband continued to sing as if endeavoring to emulate the famous Christine Nillson, and paid no attention whatever to his wife or his guests.
Fortunately the dinner gong now sounded, and Mrs. Bostwick dragged Bessie from the piano and ushered her guests into the dining-room. Mr. Bostwick followed, singing "The Last Rose of Summer" as if it had been an encore demanded by a thousand delighted hearers.
The poor woman was in despair at witnessing her husband's undignified actions and wondered what she might do to control him. The professor seemed more grave than usual; the senator's face wore an offended expression, and Bessie kept moving her fingers as if she still wanted to play the piano.
Mrs. Bostwick managed to get them all seated, although her husband had broken into another aria; and then the maid brought in the soup.
When she carried a plate to the professor, he cried, in an excited voice:
"Hold it higher! Higher—I say!" And springing up he gave it a sudden kick that sent it nearly to the ceiling, from whence the dish descended to scatter soup over Bessie and the maid and to smash in pieces upon the crown of the professor's bald head.
At this atrocious act the senator rose from his seat with an exclamation of horror and glanced at his hostess.
For some time Mrs. Bostwick had been staring straight ahead, with a dazed expression; but now, catching the senator's eye, she bowed gracefully and began reciting "The Charge of the Light Brigade" in forceful tones.
The senator shuddered. Such disgraceful rioting he had never seen nor heard before in a decent private family. He felt that his reputation was at stake, and, being the only sane person, apparently, in the room, there was no one to whom he might appeal.
The maid had run away to cry hysterically in the kitchen; Mr. Bostwick was singing "O Promise Me;" the professor was trying to kick the globes off the chandelier; Mrs. Bostwick had switched her recitation to "The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck," and Bessie had stolen into the parlor and was pounding out the overture from the "Flying Dutchman."
The senator was not at all sure he would not go crazy himself, presently; so he slipped away from the turmoil, and, catching up his had and coat in the hall, hurried from the house.
That night he sat up late writing a political speech he was to deliver the next afternoon at Faneuil hall, but his experiences at the Bostwicks' had so unnerved him that he could scarcely collect his thoughts, and often he would pause and shake his head pityingly as he remembered the strange things he had seen in that usually respectable home.
The next day he met Mr. Bostwick in the street, but passed him by with a stony glare of oblivion. He felt he really could not afford to know this gentleman in the future. Mr. Bostwick was naturally indignant at the direct snub; yet in his mind lingered a faint memory of some quite unusual occurrences at his dinner party the evening before, and he hardly knew whether he dared resent the senator's treatment or not.
The political meeting was the feature of the day, for the senator's eloquence was well known in Boston. So the big hall was crowded with people, and in one of the front rows sat the Bostwick family, with the learned Yale professor beside them. They all looked tired and pale, as if they had passed a rather dissipated evening, and the senator was rendered so nervous by seeing them that he refused to look in their direction a second time.
While the mayor was introducing him the great man sat fidgeting in his chair; and, happening to put his thumb and finger into his vest pocket, he found the lavender-colored bonbon he had placed there the evening before.
"This may clear my throat," thought the senator, and slipped the bonbon into his mouth.
A few minutes afterwards he arose before the vast audience, which greeted him with enthusiastic plaudits.
"My friends," began the senator, in a grave voice, "this is a most impressive and important occasion."
Then he paused, balanced himself upon his left foot, and kicked his right leg into the air in the way favored by ballet-dancers!
There was a hum of amazement and horror from the spectators, but the senator appeared not to notice it. He whirled around upon the tips of his toes, kicked right and left in a graceful manner, and startled a bald-headed man in the front row by casting a languishing glance in his direction.
Suddenly Claribel Sudds, who happened to be present, uttered a scream and sprang to her feet. Pointing an accusing finger at the dancing senator, she cried in a loud voice:
"That's the man who stole my bonbons! Seize him! Arrest him! Don't let him escape!"
But the ushers rushed her out of the hall, thinking she had gone suddenly insane; and the senator's friends seized him firmly and carried him out the stage entrance to the street, where they put him into an open carriage and instructed the driver to take him home.
The effect of the magic bonbon was still powerful enough to control the poor senator, who stood upon the rear seat of the carriage and danced energetically all the way home, to the delight of the crowd of small boys who followed the carriage and the grief of the sober-minded citizens, who shook their heads sadly and whispered that "another good man had gone wrong."
It took the senator several months to recover from the shame and humiliation of this escapade; and, curiously enough, he never had the slightest idea what had induced him to act in so extraordinary a manner. Perhaps it was fortunate the last bonbon had now been eaten, for they might easily have caused considerably more trouble than they did.
Of course Claribel went again to the wise chemist and signed a check for another box of magic bonbons; but she must have taken better care of these, for she is now a famous vaudeville actress.
Images by Richard Svensson