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The Stuffed Alligator

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"The Stuffed Alligator" is a short story by L. Frank Baum. It is the second of his Animal Fairy Tales, and was originally published in the February 1905 issue of The Delineator.


Mum'r Alligator warns her son Wolly never to cross the river to the village of men; but Wolly Alligator is young and hungry. He disobeys; he is caught and killed by the Man, and his hide is stuffed as a trophy.

A distraught Mum'r goes to consult the Red-Eyed One, the ancient magician of the alligators. He offers her a charm that will bring her son back to life; the price is one fat sheep per month for a year. Mum'r readily agrees. The Red-Eyed One gives her a gem to place on her stuffed son's head; this must be done in pitch blackness, for any light will rob the gem of its magic.

Mum'r takes the gem home, carrying it in her mouth. Wolly's father Dad'n happens to pick that day to quarrel with her. She cannot open her mouth to answer, or she will risk sacrificng the gem's magic. Dad'n naively thinks he has won the argument.

That night, Mum'r crawls to the village across the river. She finds her son's stuffed body on the porch of a house. Placed on his head, the gem sinks into him and restores him to life. They slink back home. The next day, Mum'r gives Dad'n a thorough thrashing with her tail, to disabuse him of the illusion that he is now dominant in the family.

Wolly takes up the responsibility of paying the Red-Eyed One his monthly fee; he proves to be a relentless and very successful hunter, since bullets from guns can no longer harm him, and he knows from experience to avoid ropes and traps. He feeds his parents richly. Dad'n recovers his sense of humor, and jokes that they are now a family of three stuffed alligators: the Man stuffed Wolly, and now Wolly stuffs his parents.


Slaughtered animals are magically brought back to life elsewhere is Baum's works. In The Road to Oz, the Powder of Life is used to re-animate the skin of a blue bear that has been turned into a rug.

An animal mother whose son is in trouble consults her tribe's mysterious oracle; the same plot device is used in Baum's "The Laughing Hippopotamus."

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