Uncle Ebenezer's Umbrella
by James B.
"Oh, mamma, we're going to the orchard to play," said Archy. "May we
take an umbrella to keep the sun off?"
Mamma Stewardson, being up stairs, called in a low voice over the
baluster, "Yes, dears, and take a large one."
So Archy and Gertie took the very largest umbrella in the stand—an
enormous one. Its ribs were whalebone, its cover green gingham, and the
handle ended in a knob nearly as large as a door-knob. But that umbrella
was very highly valued by Uncle Ebenezer Stewardson, its owner, who
carried it with him wherever he went, rain or shine. Uncle Ebenezer's
grown nieces and nephews thought it very odd in him to carry such a
queer-looking umbrella. They often hoped that something would happen to
it, so that when they went about with him—he was one of the kindest and
happiest of uncles—every one wouldn't be attracted by that great green
bundle. How Cousin Adolphus did despise that umbrella!
But Gertie and Archy took the umbrella, only thinking it was a splendid
big one; and as Uncle Ebenezer was taking a nap, of course he couldn't
know who was carrying off his precious property. As they passed out,
Cousin Adolphus was arranging his sketching materials to go down to the
pond back of the woods to make a drawing of the mill for a young lady.
Among the daisies in the orchard Gertie started up a rabbit, which ran
slowly toward the woods. Gertie and Archy went skimming over the field
after it, laughing and flourishing the great green umbrella at such a
rate that the rabbit ran into the woods, where it could not be found.
However, they found a cleared space just within the edge of the woods
that was covered with soft green moss, and in its midst stood the most
inviting smooth-top tree trunk for them to rest on. And while they sat
talking about the rabbit, a young man all dressed in green approached
them. His face and hands were also green, and he carried a long green
"Children, welcome into my woods," said he, in a queer but pleasant
Archy was about to exclaim, "It's not your woods, but Uncle Eb's," when
the man in green went on to say: "I'm the Green Wizard of the Forest,
and take great pleasure in exhibiting my tricks to little folks. Would
you like to see me perform some of them?"
"Yes, please," said Archy, drawing a long breath, and looking intently
at the Wizard.
"My little girl, will you lend me your pocket-handkerchief?" asked the
Wizard, in that same queer, pleasant voice. "Now, then," continued he,
as he took off his green hat, and placed within it Gertie's
handkerchief, "I'll make you some fine candies."
Striking a match, the Wizard seemed to set the handkerchief on fire, as
he held the hat in the air. After a few moments he blew out the flame,
and then took from the hat four large handfuls of fine bonbons.
"And your handkerchief is just as pretty as ever," said the Wizard,
returning it to Gertie. Archy clapped his hands loudly and earnestly, as
though he was at a regular show, and Gertie joined in.
"My next trick will be to turn an umbrella into a music-box," said the
Wizard, shaking his green bag out to its full length. Even to think of
such a trick caused the audience of two to laugh so heartily that it
came near rolling off the stump. The Wizard picked up Uncle Ebenezer's
umbrella, and holding it in one hand, and the green bag in the other,
said "Presto!" three times, and then poked the umbrella inside the bag.
"Now, my little man, what do you see inside?"
Archy peeped, expecting to see the umbrella, but he saw nothing but a
neat little music-box.
"Oh, he's done it, Gertie, sure as anything," said Archy, gleefully.
"Let's have some music; it will play three tunes," said the Wizard,
lifting the music-box from the bag. It first played "Coming Through the
Eye," then "Violets Blue," and next struck up a lively German waltz.
The instant the waltz began, the Green Wizard of the Forest went dancing
all over the green moss with the long green bag for a partner, and
merrily called for Archy and Gertie to join in. When the music stopped,
they did also, but looking around for the Wizard, he was nowhere to be
seen. After vainly waiting his return some time, they started home, and
as Archy understood how to wind and start the music-box, they had music
all the way.
Mamma Stewardson was seated on the veranda as the children came toward
the house, and Uncle Ebenezer, in slippers and long linen summer coat,
could be seen nervously pacing up and down the wide hall that led to the
"My dears," said mamma, as they came near, "you should not have taken
Uncle Ebenezer's umbrella; but I hope you have taken good care of it."
Gertie looked at Archy and then at the music-box, and Archy looked at
the music-box and then at Gertie.
"Please never take my umbrella again," said Uncle Ebenezer, coming out
on the veranda. "I'll buy you as many umbrellas as you want, bless your
"But what have you done with it, Archy?" asked mamma, turning around as
she rose to have a full view of the children, and not seeing the
"Why, the Green Wizard turned it into this music-box; but we'll go right
off and get him to turn it back. He was a real nice Wizard, and will do
anything we ask."
"And he danced, and we danced," said Gertie, her eyes fairly dancing in
Mamma Stewardson was much puzzled to know what all this meant, so she
called Gertie and Archy to her, that they might slowly explain.
Uncle Ebenezer stood quiet almost a minute, running his fingers through
his hair, until it stood on end like porcupine quills. "Ha! I have it,"
said he. "Some rascally tramp has taken my umbrella from these innocent
children, and given them this trumpery music-box to amuse them while he
"Why, Uncle Ebenezer, the music plays splendidly," said Gertie.
"Yes, my dear; yet, though I can buy a thousand more boxes precisely
like that one, there isn't one more such an umbrella. But where is
Adolphus? He must go after that tramp."
"I think he is down at the pond sketching," answered mamma.
"Then I must go," exclaimed Uncle Ebenezer, reaching the hat-rack in
exactly five steps. He clapped on the first hat he came to—it was
mamma's sun-hat, all trimmed with wild grasses. Then running through the
kitchen, as the nearest way, he spied old John's stable boots, into
which he jumped, kicking off his slippers; and in a jiffy was on a full
run toward the woods, with his long coat flying out behind, mamma's hat
bouncing up and down on his head.
In the course of an hour Uncle Ebenezer came back, but without finding
the umbrella or catching the Wizard. He told mamma privately that he
thought the children must have fallen asleep in the woods and dreamed
about the Wizard, and that the umbrella was lost there somewhere.
However, you see, that wouldn't account for the music-box; and then
Uncle Ebenezer was puzzled. But Cousin Adolphus was the most puzzled of
all, and he shook his head and questioned the children as though he had
never heard of anything quite so amazing.
The next time Adolphus came from the city he brought Uncle Ebenezer a
present of a beautiful silk umbrella with an ivory handle, and it was so
much lighter than the old green gingham one that Uncle Ebenezer was
pleased with it at once.
One day, late that summer, while a merry party were out on the mill-pond
fishing, Uncle Ebenezer caught something tremendous on his line. It
proved to be that old great-handled green gingham umbrella; but then all
torn, rusty, and muddied. Mamma said that Cousin Adolphus looked
startled when he saw that poor umbrella drawn to the surface, and point
its slimy ribs at him like long fingers, and that he seemed glad when
the rusty frame was thrown back into the water.
About a month after that Uncle Ebenezer went to a masquerade party, and
the following day he saw Gertie and Archy.
"Children, I caught the Green Wizard of the Forest last night," said he,
exultantly. "He was dressed all in green, as you said, and his other
name is Adolphus Stewardson—the rogue! He wanted to get rid of that
umbrella, and now I don't blame him a particle because he did."