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The Iceberg Express (9)

2006-09-07 21:00

    Toy Land

    Now, when Mary Louise and the little white sailor duck woke up in the land of Nod, they both rubbed their eyes to make sure who stood there dressed in pink pajamas and little starry crown.

    It was the little Dream God. In his hand he carried a silver wand, in the handle of which was a little whistle which made a soft sound when he blew upon it.

    "Did you have a good sleep?" he asked, and with a laugh, he took off his crown and sat down on the grass. And oh, what a sweet laugh it was. Just like the tinkle of a far-away bell or the ripple of a little brook.

    Well, after a little talk, the big Dream Bird came out of his wicker cage and said: "I'm going to take Mary Louise for a ride," and away he flew, while the little white sailor duck went back to his boat and sailed away, too, over the ocean big and blue.

    "Where would you like to go?" asked the Dream Bird. "I'm the bird who brings dreams to people. Dreams of doing great big wonderful things, you know. Not sleepy dreams."

    "Take me to some place that is different from anything I've ever seen," answered Mary Louise.

    So the big Dream Bird scratched his head with his foot, but for a long time he couldn't tell where to go.

    Well, anyway, by and by, not so very long, for the big Dream Bird kept flying on as he scratched his head with his foot, they came to Toy Land where all the toys of the world are made by little dwarfs and fairies.

    "Now I'll leave you," said the big Dream Bird, and he flew away, leaving little Mary Louise in front of a pretty shop full of Little Jack Rabbits. and, would you believe it, there was a toy Puss in Boots, Junior, with red top boots and a hat with a gold feather and a sword. And the workman who made these toys was a funny little dwarf with a green suit and a red cap and a long white beard.

    "This is the land of wonderful toys That are made for good little girls and boys, Talking dolls and horses that run, Everything here is made for fun, But only good little girls and boys Can have our wonderful, beautiful toys."

    "Heigh ho," said Mary Louise, "what next, I wonder," and she looked at a toy regiment of wooden soldiers marching down the street.

    Just then an old hand organ began to play,

    "Oh, where are the songs of yesterday, And the songs we used to sing, When you and I in the days gone by Danced in the Fairy's Ring?"

    And up ran a little monkey dressed in a red coat and cap. Mary Louise gave him a penny, to hand to the old man who had stopped to set another tune to the organ.

    "Over the hills and far away, I've tramped all my life till I am gray, And now with my organ and monkey clown I find myself in little Toy Town,"

    sang the old organ grinder as he sat down to rest with the little monkey on his lap.

    "Are you very tired?" asked Mary Louise.

    "Pretty tired," answered the old man. "All these years I've tramped and played, and now I find myself in a town where they make toys for children. But I see no children. Only playthings which I have no use for," and the old man sighed and patted the monkey and then he closed his eyes and fell asleep. And I guess he was very, very tired.

    Then Mary Louise slipped away, out of Toy Town where the dwarfs and the fairies made all the toys in little workshops, only they had the shades pulled down so that nobody could see them, for they are queer little people and don't like to be watched.

    "Oh, dear," sighed Mary Louise, "I wish I were home. Mother will be dreadfully worried about me.

    "Oh, if I had a Wishing Stone I know what I would do I'd wish for lots of lovely things, And give a lot to you. But, Oh, dear me. I've never known Where is this wonder Wishing Stone."

    "I know," cried a little voice, and then, of course, Mary Louise looked all around to see who had spoken, but she couldn't see anybody. "Who are you?" she asked, halting Dapple Gray on the edge of a big forest.

    "Here I am," cried the same little voice, and then, quick as a wink, a tiny fairy jumped out from behind a bush.

    "Don't frighten my pony," said Mary Louise, as Dapple Gray stood up straight on his hind legs, "he isn't used to fairies."

    "No, indeed," whinnied the pony, for that is the way a horse talks, you know. "I've met lots of people in dear Old Mother Goose Land, but never a fairy."

    "If you come into this forest you will meet many little people like me," answered the fairy.

    "Will they object if I travel through it?" asked little Mary Louise anxiously. "You see, I'm on my way home."

    "You have my permission," answered the fairy. "I'm queen of the Forest Fays. But I thought you were looking for the Wishing Stone?"

    "Maybe I was," answered Mary Louise. "You see, I thought if I could find it, I'd wish I was home with my dear mother."

    "It is not very far from here," said the little fairy. "Follow this path through the trees and by and by you'll come to it. But let me give you some advice. Be sure before you make your wish to say,

    "Rose red, rose white, I will try to do what's right."

    "Thank you, I'll remember," answered little Mary Louise, and she turned Dapple Gray down the path to the woody glen.

    Well, by and by, after a while, she saw a big white stone. It looked very like a rude stone chair, only of course, it didn't have any nice soft cushion in it like the one my grandmother used.

    With a cry of joy little Mary Louise jumped from the saddle. "Now I'll make my wish!" And she sat down in the big stone chair and closed her eyes.

    But, oh dear me. She had been in such a hurry that she forgot to say the little fairy verse and when she opened her eyes, there she was in the very same spot.

    And, oh, dear me! again. Instead of the Dapple Gray, a little gray squirrel stood in the very spot where the little pony had been. "If you would have what you would wish You must obey each rule, No matter whether in your home Or in your Grammar School,"

    sang a little yellow bird, as Mary Louise stared in amazement at the little gray squirrel.

    "Oh, dear me," she sighed, "where is Dapple Gray?"

    "I was your little pony, And my name was Dapple Gray. But now I am a squirrel Because you did not say; 'Rose red, rose white, I will try to do what's right,'"

    answered the little squirrel.

    And then Mary Louise remembered what the little fairy had told her to say when she made the wish. Oh, dear me. How sad she felt! But it was too late, and pretty soon the little squirrel ran away, and poor Mary Louise was left alone in the big Wishing Stone chair.

    "Oh dear me," she sighed again, "now what shall I do?" But nobody answered, not even the little yellow bird, so she jumped down and started off through the wood, and by and by, after a mile, but never a smile, she heard somebody laughing. And, oh my, it was a great big, tremendous hearty laugh. Why, it made all the leaves tremble and the dry twigs fall to the ground. And then, all of a sudden, a giant walked by, carrying on his big finger the prettiest yellow bird you ever saw.

    "Why bless my big leather belt," he exclaimed, "it's little Mary Louise."

    "Oh, Mr. Giant," said Mary Louise, "I've disobeyed the Fairy Queen and lost my pony Dapple Gray."

    "Bless my big hob-nailed club," said Mr. Merry Laugh, for this was the giant's name, "how did you come to do that?"

    So Mary Louise told him how the Fairy Queen had directed her to the Wishing Stone, but that she had forgotten to say when making her wish,

    "Rose red, rose white, I will try to do what's right."

    "Well, I'll give you another chance," said the big kind giant. "Now let me see," and he took off his big leather cap and scratched his head, and then he whispered something to the little yellow bird, but his whisper was so loud that of course Mary Louise heard it, for when a giant whispers it sounds like a man shouting, so I've been told. "Come with me," said the giant after the little yellow bird had nodded her head, and pretty soon, not so very long, they came to his castle, where the giant made Mary Louise very comfortable in a little chair which had once belonged to his son.

    "Now you rest here while I go and get out my big Gold Book," said Mr. Merry Laugh.

    "Mr. Merry Laugh, the Giant, Has a big Gold Book, Bound with leather hinges And a big brass hook,"

    sang the little yellow bird.

    "Now let me see," said the good, kind giant, opening the book and turning over the pages with his great immense thumb. "Ah, here it is," but before he began to read he took off his spectacles which were as big as automobile lamps and wiped them carefully on his red silk handkerchief which was bigger than a sail;

    "Whoever disobeys the queen Can for his guilt atone By making a little whistle Out of a turkey's bone."

    "Ha, ha, ha!" roared the giant till the crystal chandelier tinkled like a million little bells and the portrait of his mother-in-law fell off the wall with a dreadful crash, "I never heard anything so funny before," and he picked up the portrait and laughed again, only this time even louder, for his mother-in-law's picture was all smashed to smithereens!

    "Well, that's easy," he said after wiping his eyes. "Tomorrow will be Thanksgiving and you shall dine with me. And after dinner I'll give you a magic knife and if you can't make a whistle out of the drumstick bone, I'll have another portrait made of my mother-in-law."

    "That's very good of you," said little Mary Louise.

    "Don't mention it," replied the giant. "I have a book that once belonged to my boy when he was a little fellow. It's called the Iceberg Express, and you look so like the little girl on the cover that I'd almost believe you were she."

    "I am, I am," shouted Mary Louise, jumping out of her chair. "And that's the reason I wanted to sit in the big Wishing Stone chair. I was going to wish I was home with mother."

    "You don't say so," exclaimed Mr. Merry Laugh. "Well, well, well. It takes me back to the time when my boy was a little fellow and sat on my knee to hear me read Little Journeys to Happyland. How time flies!" And the big kind giant took his pocket handkerchief out again to wipe his blue eyes, and after that he went over to the piano and sang:

    "If I had my little boy again How happy I should be, I'd piggyback him all around And trundle him on my knee.

    "But oh, dear me. It's so long ago, And he's been away so long, That all I can do is to wish and wish That he could hear this song."

    "Dear me," said little Mary Louise, when the giant had finished. "You want your little boy and I want my mother."

    Well pretty soon when Mary Louise walked into the dining room she saw the most wonderful turkey that ever graced a Thanksgiving table. Why, it weighed upty'leven pounds and was stuffed with a bushel of chestnuts.

    "Now eat slowly and tuck your napkin under your chin," said Mr. Merry Laugh, "for we don't have Thanksgiving every day, although we ought to be thankful every day, just the same." And he stuck in the fork which was as big as a pitch-fork and began to carve with a knife that was even larger than General Pershing's sword.

    Well, after a while, a mince pie was brought in, so large that it would have taken Mary Louise thirteen minutes to walk around it if the giant had placed it on the floor. But of course he didn't. No sireemam. He first cut a little piece for her and then a great big tremendous piece for himself, and would you believe he ate two pieces while she was eating one!

    At last, when the dinner was over, and the giant had dried the wish bone on the steam heater till it was nice and dry, he handed little Mary Louise the magic knife and told her to make it into a whistle. And would you believe it if I didn't say so, in less than five hundred short seconds she had carved out the prettiest little whistle you ever saw.

    "Now, little girl," said Mr. Merry Laugh, "blow on it and make a wish. But don't make the same wish you did before."

    "Oh dear me," sighed the little girl. "I only wish one thing, and that is to be home with mother."

    "Get your pony back and I'll help you," said Mr. Merry Laugh kindly. So Mary Louise blew on her whistle and made a wish, when, all of a sudden, quicker than a wink, they heard a neigh in the courtyard, and looking out of the window, saw Dapple Gray.

    "Here, take this little ring," said the giant, "and if ever you are in trouble, turn it around your finger three times and a half."

    Just then the little yellow bird began to sing:

    "'Tis a little golden ring, Such a tiny, pretty thing. But be careful lest you lose it, For you may have need to use it, It possesses such a charm It will keep you from all harm."

    "Good luck," said Mr. Merry Laugh as he opened the castle door. "Good-by and good luck. Drop in the next time you're in town, and don't forget Castle Merry Laugh, Forest City, U.S.A."

    "Thank you," answered Mary Louise.

    Just then down flew the beautiful Dream Bird.

    "I'll take you home," he said. "Climb up between my wings!"

    Then away he went through the air so softly that maybe the little girl fell asleep, for when she woke up, there she was on the beach where she had first met the little Mermaid Princess.

    "Oh, oh," yawned Mary Louise, "am I really here?" But nobody answered, so she jumped to her feet and ran home to her mother.

    Well, well, have we come to the end of the story, you and I, little reader? I'm sorry I've nothing more to tell you in this book, but listen-lean over to me and listen——I've written another book for the "Little Journeys to Happyland" series——it is called "The Wind Wagon." Isn't that a strange title? But I know you'll like it——yes, I'm sure you will.

    So don't forget. It will be published next year.

    Yours for a story,

    David Cory.

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