Mr. H.M. Wogglebug T.E. Was sitting contentedly on a bench in a park as he was watching the children playing. He and his three companions had come to America to see the ways of American mortals and so far they had met with many surprises. They were also greatly pleased do something for them when they could, especially if it happened to be a child.
Mr. Wogglebug took off his hat and sat it down on the bench beside him. He then took out his handkerchief and wiped his forehead with it as the sun was rather warm for the time of the year. Then suddenly, hardly before he had any time to notice it, a little boy who was about ten years old with tousled brown curls and wearing a play shirt and short baggy trousers, ran up beside him and snatched his hat off of the bench and then ran away with it.
Mr. Wogglebug sat frozen with shock for a moment and then he got up and began to chase after the boy as he ran through the park with his hat. The boy was very fast and was far ahead of him, however, and so it looked like Mr. Wogglebug wouldn't get his hat back from him anytime soon.
"You come back here and give me back my hat, will you please?" Mr. Wogglebug called to the boy as politely as he could under the circumstances.
"Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah! You can't catch me, you old dung bug!" the boy called back to him mockingly.
Mr. Wogglebug began chasing after the boy faster now. Then suddenly the boy glanced over his shoulder at him and stuck his tongue out at him, and then before he could turn back around he bumped fully into a girl who was about his age as she was standing very primly right in his path.
The boy stopped abruptly and so Mr. Wogglebug now had his chance to catch up with him. He stood next to the boy and girl and said as he panted to catch his breath, "Now, will you please give me back my hat?"
"No!" the boy said loudly.
Then the girl gave him a very hard pressed look with just her eyes and said, "Eddie Ryland, you give him back his hat right now, or I will tell your mother on you."
"But he's just a stupid old bug!" said Eddie. "What does he need a hat for anyway?"
"I'm sure he is really a nice gentleman on the inside," said the girl in a serious tone. "So you had better give him back his hat, or I will tell your mother and your father, and you know how he is about things like this, right?"
The boy grimaced and then grunted in defeat as handed Mr. Wogglebug back his hat and said, "Here, Mr. Dung Bug! Take your stupid old hat and get out of here!"
"Thank you very much, Eddie," Mr. Wogglebug said, "and by the way, my name is Mr. Wogglebug. H.M. Wogglebug T.E. H.M. Stands for Highly Magnified and T.E. stands for Thoroughly Educated."
"You have a funny voice," said Eddie grumpily.
Just then they heard a woman's voice calling Eddie's name from across the park and so Eddie was off and running to her fast. Mr. Wogglebug looked after him and then turned back to the girl who looked absolutely exasperated.
"I'm so sorry about Eddie, Mr. Wogglebug," she said. "I don't know what it is about him. He just always seems to cause trouble for everyone wherever he goes."
"Well, I wouldn't worry about him too much," Mr. Wogglebug replied with a smile. "He is just a boy after all so he'll soon grow out of it and become a fine man."
The girl gave a short laugh and said, "Eddie, a fine man! I could never see him as such. Oh! And my name is Samantha, by the way. I'm Samantha Parkington."
Samantha held out her hand to Mr. Wogglebug and he shook it cordially. Then he said, "I'm very honored to meet such a fine girl as yourself, Samantha. And Eddie could grow into a fine person someday with time and patience because I can already see a bit of a fine woman in you now."
"Thank you," said Samantha smiling. "That's what my Grandmother says too."
"So do you live around here, Samantha?" asked Mr. Wogglebug.
"Yes, I do," said Samantha. "I live with Grandmary in our big house up the block." Then her face and voice took on a somewhat sad note as she continued, "Or rather I used to live there. In a few weeks I'll be moving out of Grandmary's house and go to live with my aunt and uncle in their house in New York City."
"Oh," said Mr. Wogglebug. "Why is that?"
"Because my Grandmary is getting married to the Admiral Archibald Beemis and so she'll be moving in with him across the sea," Samantha explained softly.
"I see," said Mr. Wogglebug. "And aren't you happy for her? Don't you like the Admiral?"
"Oh yes, of course, I really love him!" Samantha assured him. "I know he'll make a great step-grandfather. And I also love my Uncle Gard and Aunt Cornelia, too. Really. It's just that everything is changing so much and so quickly in my life. I was very happy with the way things were before."
"I understand," said Mr. Wogglebug sympathetically. "But what about your mother and father? Where are they?"
Samantha lowered her gaze slightly as she explained, "They're gone. They died five years ago in a boating accident near Piny Point. That's why I've lived with my Grandmother."
"Oh! I'm sorry about your parents!" Mr. Wogglebug said sincerely. "It seems to me you've had to face changes in your life before now and you got used to them," he added, "so you may also get used to the new changes now just as easily with time and patience."
"Perhaps I will," said Samantha. "It's just I'll be away from all my friends, including the ones I have at Mount Bedford Academy, and the servants in Grandmary's house, Jessie, and Hawkins and his wife. Although I can't say I'll really miss Elsa much," she added thoughtfully. "But I will certainly miss the others, and most of all I'll miss Nellie, my dear friend who works for the Van Sicklens next door.
"I see," said Mr. Wogglebug. "Tell me more about Nellie."
"She is a very poor girl with two smaller sisters," said Samantha. "She used to work in a factory in New York before she came here and it was just terrible for her and her family. She never got to go to school before she came here either and so she had to start at a grade lower than she should have. But then I started giving her private lessons at my house in the attic and she went up to the next grade in a few months."
"How very thoughtfully of you to be her tutor," said Mr. Wogglebug much approvingly. "I knew the moment I saw you were a wise girl with a great big heart. And you and Nellie can still reach each other through letters now and then. And, who knows, maybe someday she'll even be able to come to live with you in New York. And you can still come here to visit her, can't you?"
"Yes, I suppose so," said Samantha. "It's just hard to take in so many changes all at once."
"Change is often a good thing though," Mr. Wogglebug said. "It's how the world works and what the spice of life really is. I mean, after all, just look around you at all the trees with their formerly green leaves turning red, orange, yellow, and brown and falling to the ground. Then as soon as Spring starts the trees will have brand new leaves on them. Also, not to mention you'll be a year older and so will all your friends, and in a few more years you will be older still."
"And after those few more years I will be having to go to finishing school and then there will be even more changes," said Samantha. "My Grandmary wants me to be a proper woman as just about every woman I know is proper, with the possible exception of Agnes and Agatha," she added with a smile. "And my Aunt Cornelia is always saying change is progress which is good and she loves the progress we've made in America. I just hope by the time I have children we will have made so much more progress they will have more freedom in their lives to do what they want."
Mr. Wogglebug smiled and nodded. "I hope so, too. Where I come from everyone is absolutely free to do whatever they want to do as long as it is for the good, of course."
"Then you must come from very far away," said Samantha.
"Yes, indeed," said Mr. Wogglebug. "I live in a place called Oz."
"I'd really like to know more about such a place," said Samantha.
"Well, actually you can read all about in two books by a fellow named L. Frank Baum," Mr. Wogglebug said proudly. "The first came out four years ago and the second one has recently appeared and that's the one I'm in and you will learn of my marvelous history in it."
"Then I'll go and check out those books at the bookstore as soon as I can," said Samantha. "It was a pleasure meeting and talking with you, Mr. Wogglebug.
"The same with you," Mr. Wogglebug said with a bow.
Then Samantha curtsied to him and ran along. Then Mr. Wogglebug looked around and noticed his friend the Scarecrow was sitting on a bench and surrounded by children and seemed to be talking to them, perhaps telling them a story. He went over to them to find out.