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The 500 Stamps of Miss Philla O’Tellic

  by Erika St. Dennis


There once was a girl named Miss Philla O’Tellic

Who found a strange letter – a tattered old relic.

It was hidden up high on the uppermost shelf

Of her Auntie’s apartment by the Bay of New Nelf.


A fountain pen traced in a spidery scrawl

Addresses of places she knew not at all:

People named Nilssen in Stockholm and Malmo

Crossed all their sevens and dotted their vowels.


Young Philla tore open the yellowing flap

And out fell a note with an odd looking map—

A dragon and oceans surrounded a land

Described in a tongue she could not understand.


“Oh well,” Philla sighed, as she put it away,

“I guess I’ll just go to the park now and play.”

But suddenly in the bright light of a lamp

She noticed a truly particular stamp.


It was quite poorly centered and orangey-yellow;

A crest in the center looked much like a cello.

On top of the crest sat an intricate crown...

It surely was from a far land of renown!


“Oh, Aunt, may I keep it?  It’s ever so nice!

I’ll bake you a cake with some Niffy-Nuff spice.”

“Of course,” said her Auntie, “please take it, my dear.

I’ve been meaning to clean off that shelf for a year.”


Now the king of New Nelf had a wonderful job:

He collected rare stamps and ate corn on the cob.

Though his album was heavy, the king grew quite sad---

“I think I own all that the world’s ever had.”


So he trumpeted out the great news of a race

To find him a stamp to fill up a blank space.

The town was abuzz as all searched high and low;

The promise of prizes had faces aglow.


They cleaned out their attics and basements and shacks

And turned up Graf Zeppelins and nice Penny Blacks,

Upside down airplanes and some rarer grills,

Cancelled by corks and by fine ostrich quills.


But the king was forlorn in his royal procession,

For none of the stamps were not yet in his possession.

Yet just as he turned to go back to the castle,

He spied a young girl who was wearing a tassel.


She held an old letter whose stamp was so bright

The king rubbed his eyes to make sure he’d seen right.

A three skilling-banco with rare color switch!

He leaped in excitement and fell in the ditch!


Young Philla was brought to the castle that day

To be given her prize in a most royal way:

Four hundred and ninety-nine stamps in a box

That was made out of gold and had eighty-nine locks.


“Your highness,” she said, “may I ask, if I dare,

To keep the stamp jointly; in other words, share.

My teacher is always reminding at school

That to treat others kindly is our Golden Rule.”


The king was so moved he agreed right away

And put the new stamp in a public display.

So this is the way that the tattered old relic

Meant five hundred stamps for Miss Philla O’Tellic.



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