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The Man-Fairy

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"The Man-Fairy" is a short story by L. Frank Baum. It was originally published in the December 1910 issue of The Ladies' World. It was reprinted in the Spring 1995 issue of The Baum Bugle, with an illustration by Eric Shanower.


Meg Harridan is a poor child; her mother works in a garment factory, and they live in a city tenement. One day, she is gazing through the front window of a little toy shop in the neighborhood, longing for the items within. A fat little man, kindly and well-dressed, asks her what she wishes for; he offers to be her "fairy," and grant her wish. Meg surprises him by wishing she owned the entire toy shop.

Yet the little man is as good as his word; as Meg watches from outside, he goes in and speaks to the proprietor. They exchange a wad of currency, and sign a paper; then Mr. Wegg, the elderly shop owner, puts on his hat and coat, takes the money and leaves quickly, as though afraid that the buyer might change his mind.

The little gentleman then turns the shop over to Meg. She waits on her first customers, without knowing what to charge for her goods — none of the prices are marked. She inadvertently gives out great bargains, and soon the children of the neighborhood are flocking to the store. Meg takes advantage of an occasional lull to set aside the toys she likes best, for herself and special friends; for the shelves are emptying fast.

After a pause for lunch, they resume commerce in the afternoon. At first the little gentleman mostly observes; but as the store grows busy, he pitches in to wrap purchases for customers. By the end of the afternoon, the shop's shelves are almost bare; a few broken odds and ends are given away. Mr. Wegg, the former proprietor, stops by; the new owners turn the shop over to him once more. The little gentleman helps Meg gather up her profits, and warns her to use the money wisely and make it last — "for man-fairies are scarce in this world." He helps the girl carry her stash of toys up to her "dingy room at 29 Bobbins Row, third floor back."

When Meg thanks her benefactor for all he has done for her, he explains, "I was a sad and lonely man when I met you this morning, Meg, and you've given me the happiest day of my life."

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