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F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

The Century Magazine (December, 1928)

The automobile stopped at the corner of Sixteenth and some dingy-
looking street.  The lady got out.  The man and the little girl
stayed in the car.

"I'm going to tell him it can't cost more than twenty dollars,"
said the lady.

"All right.  Have you the plans?"

"Oh, yes"--she reached for her bag in the back seat--"at least I
have now."

"Dites qu'il ne faut pas avoir les forts placards," said the man.
"Ni le bon bois."

"All right."

"I wish you wouldn't talk French," said the little girl.

"Et il faut avoir un bon 'height.'  L'un des Murphys était comme

He held his hand five feet from the ground.  The lady went through
a door lettered "Cabinet-Maker" and disappeared up a small stairs.

The man and the little girl looked around unexpectantly.  The
neighborhood was red brick, vague, quiet.  There were a few darkies
doing something or other up the street and an occasional automobile
went by.  It was a fine November day.

"Listen," said the man to the little girl, "I love you."

"I love you too," said the little girl, smiling politely.

"Listen," the man continued.  "Do you see that house over the way?"

The little girl looked.  It was a flat in back of a shop.  Curtains
masked most of its interior, but there was a faint stir behind
them.  On one window a loose shutter banged from back to forth
every few minutes.  Neither the man nor the little girl had ever
seen the place before.

"There's a Fairy Princess behind those curtains," said the man.
"You can't see her but she's there, kept concealed by an Ogre.  Do
you know what an Ogre is?"


"Well, this Princess is very beautiful with long golden hair."

They both regarded the house.  Part of a yellow dress appeared
momentarily in the window.

"That's her," the man said.  "The people who live there are
guarding her for the Ogre.  He's keeping the King and Queen
prisoner ten thousand miles below the earth.  She can't get out
until the Prince finds the three--"  He hesitated.

"And what, Daddy?  The three what?"

"The three--Look!  There she is again."

"The three what?"

"The three--the three stones that will release the King and Queen."

He yawned.

"And what then?"

"Then he can come and tap three times on each window and that will
set her free."

The lady's head emerged from the upper story of the cabinetmaker's.

"He's busy," she called down.  "Gosh, what a nice day!"

"And what, Daddy?" asked the little girl.  "Why does the Ogre want
to keep her there?"

"Because he wasn't invited to the christening.  The Prince has
already found one stone in President Coolidge's collar-box.  He's
looking for the second in Iceland.  Every time he finds a stone the
room where the Princess is kept turns blue.  GOSH!"

"What, Daddy?"

"Just as you turned away I could see the room turn blue.  That
means he's found the second stone."

"Gosh!" said the little girl.  "Look!  It turned blue again, that
means he's found the third stone."

Aroused by the competition the man looked around cautiously and his
voice grew tense.

"Do you see what I see?" he demanded.  "Coming up the street--
there's the Ogre himself, disguised--you know: transformed, like
Mombi in 'The Land of Oz.'"

"I know."

They both watched.  The small boy, extraordinarily small and taking
very long steps, went to the door of the flat and knocked; no one
answered but he didn't seem to expect it or to be greatly
disappointed.  He took some chalk from his pocket and began drawing
pictures under the door-bell.

"He's making magic signs," whispered the man.  "He wants to be sure
that the Princess doesn't get out this door.  He must know that the
Prince has set the King and Queen free and will be along for her
pretty soon."

The small boy lingered for a moment; then he went to a window and
called an unintelligible word.  After a while a woman threw the
window open and made an answer that the crisp wind blew away.

"She says she's got the Princess locked up," explained the man.

"Look at the Ogre," said the little girl.  "He's making magic signs
under the window too.  And on the sidewalk.  Why?"

"He wants to keep her from getting out, of course.  That's why he's
dancing.  That's a charm too--it's a magic dance."

The Ogre went away, taking very big steps.  Two men crossed the
street ahead and passed out of sight.

"Who are they, Daddy?"

"They're two of the King's soldiers.  I think the army must be
gathering over on Market Street to surround the house.  Do you know
what 'surround' means?"

"Yes.  Are those men soldiers too?"

"Those too.  And I believe that the old one just behind is the King
himself.  He's keeping bent down low like that so that the Ogre's
people won't recognize him."

"Who is the lady?"

"She's a Witch, a friend of the Ogre's."

The shutter blew closed with a bang and then slowly opened again.

"That's done by the good and bad fairies," the man explained.
"They're invisible, but the bad fairies want to close the shutter
so nobody can see in and the good ones want to open it."

"The good fairies are winning now."

"Yes."  He looked at the little girl.  "You're my good fairy."

"Yes.  Look, Daddy!  What is that man?"

"He's in the King's army too."  The clerk of Mr. Miller, the
jeweler, went by with a somewhat unmartial aspect.  "Hear the
whistle?  That means they're gathering.  And listen--there goes the

"There's the Queen, Daddy.  Look at there.  Is that the Queen?"

"No, that's a girl called Miss Television."  He yawned.  He began
to think of something pleasant that had happened yesterday.  He
went into a trance.  Then he looked at the little girl and saw that
she was quite happy.  She was six and lovely to look at.  He kissed

"That man carrying the cake of ice is also one of the King's
soldiers," he said.  "He's going to put the ice on the Ogre's head
and freeze his brains so he can't do any more harm."

Her eyes followed the man down street.  Other men passed.  A darky
in a yellow darky's overcoat drove by with a cart marked The Del
Upholstery Co.  The shutter banged again and then slowly opened.

"See, Daddy, the good fairies are winning again."

The man was old enough to know that he would look back to that time--
the tranquil street and the pleasant weather and the mystery
playing before the child's eyes, mystery which he had created, but
whose luster and texture he could never see or touch any more
himself.  Again he touched his daughter's cheek instead and in
payment fitted another small boy and limping man into the story.

"Oh, I love you," he said.

"I know, Daddy," she answered, abstractedly.  She was staring at
the house.  For a moment he closed his eyes and tried to see with
her but he couldn't see--those ragged blinds were drawn against him
forever.  There were only the occasional darkies and the small boys
and the weather that reminded him of more glamorous mornings in the

The lady came out of the cabinet-maker's shop.

"How did it go?" he asked.

"Good.  Il dit qu'il a fait les maisons de poupée pour les Du
Ponts.  Il va le faire."


"Vingt-cinq.  I'm sorry I was so long."

"Look, Daddy, there go a lot more soldiers!"

They drove off.  When they had gone a few miles the man turned
around and said, "We saw the most remarkable thing while you were
there."  He summarized the episode.  "It's too bad we couldn't wait
and see the rescue."

"But we did," the child cried.  "They had the rescue in the next
street.  And there's the Ogre's body in that yard there.  The King
and Queen and Prince were killed and now the Princess is queen."

He had liked his King and Queen and felt that they had been too
summarily disposed of.

"You had to have a heroine," he said rather impatiently.

"She'll marry somebody and make him Prince."

They rode on abstractedly.  The lady thought about the doll's
house, for she had been poor and had never had one as a child, the
man thought how he had almost a million dollars and the little girl
thought about the odd doings on the dingy street that they had left

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