The Glass Dog
by L. Frank Baum
(about 2750 words)
In this charming fairy tale, a wizard desires a watch dog who will bark at anyone who comes close enough to disturb his work. He commissions a glassblower to make him a little pink dog which he then enchants to do the desired task. In exchange, the wizard gives him a phial containing a single drop of the most powerful medicine in the world, which can cure any illness. The glassblower happily takes this and the wizard gets his enchanted glass watchdog. Since this is a fairytale, there is a beautiful (and rich) young woman in some serious need of saving. It turns out that she is ill from something that no doctor has been able to cure. Since she’s all but in the ground, she decides to wager her life against her marriage, and offers herself as a prize to the glassblower is he can cure her with his phial of medicine. The next day the beautiful, rich girl is back on her feet and reneging on her promise to marry the poor, old man. She puts it off and puts it off and in the meantime the glass blower has thrown out all the tools of his trade and is eagerly thinking up ways to spend his new wife’s money. Eventually, the glassblower starts getting anxious and asks her about their marriage date. She responds by asking him how he happened to cure her. Well, he tells her the whole story and she insists that she needs to have her own enchanted glass dog and the glassblower had best get busy stealing the wizard’s. For some reason the old man can’t see what a colossal bitch his intended is, and does what she asks, bringing her the glass dog. When he returns to her the next day, wouldn’t you know it, but the glass dog rushes at him and barks up a storm, and she won’t do anything to call it off, saying she never wanted to marry him anyway. He’s just too ugly. Heartbroken, the glassblower goes home to hang himself. Fortunately(?) the wizard interrupts him, saying that he’s lost his glass dog. He laments that he has no money to offer as a reward, but only has a beauty powder that he can spare. Of course the man jumps on this opportunity as well, re-steals and returns the glass dog in exchange for the beauty powder and returns to marry the uppity woman. And if you think either of them is happy with the match, you haven’t been paying attention to the rest of the story.
Lyman Frank Baum was born on May 15, 1856, in Chittenango, New York. His early education was a bit spotty, starting with home tutors and then a stint in a military academy which he had to quit because of a heart condition. He skipped high school, and like many authors of the time, worked as a journalist, as well as exploring his love of the theater. He wrote his most famous book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900 which was adapted into a Broadway musical two years later. Baum continued to write children’s stories until his death on May 6, 1919.