Edward Edson Lee, who wrote under the pen name of Leo Edwards, was a popular children's literature author in the 1920s and 1930s. The 16 Jerry Todd books proved to be his most popular series.
In Jerry Todd and the Purring Egg, Jerry thinks he has found a real dinosaur egg worth five million dollars—with the usual comical results!
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Table of Contents
JERRY TODD AND THE PURRING EGG
THE JERRY TODD SERIES
JERRY TODD SAYS
THE SECRET ORDER OF HUMPTY-DUMPTY, THE REJUVENATED EGG
Copyright © 1925 by The Sprague Publishing Company.
Published by Wildside Press LLC.
wildsidepress.com | bcmystery.com
Edward Edson Lee (1884-1944), who published under the pen name “Leo Edwards,” was a highly popular children's author in the 1920s and 1930s. Lee had a difficult childhood, dropping out of school to go to work in his early teens. He got his start as a writer of serialized stories, most notably in The American Boy magazine. His first book, Andy Blake in Advertising, was published in 1922 (reprinted in 1928 as the first volume in the Andy Blake series).
He wrote five series of books: the Jerry Todd series (16 titles); the Poppy Ott series (11 titles); the Trigger Berg series (4 titles); the Andy Blake series (4 titles); and the Tuffy Bean series (4 titles). All five series were interrelated in some way; the Todd and Ott stories took place in the town of Tutter, Illinois (a fictional town modeled on the Utica), where Lee lived in his childhood. The supporting characters in the Todd and Ott books—including “Red” Meyers, “Scoop” Ellery, and “Peg” Shaw—were real boys that Lee befriended around the time he began writing the stories. He lived in Shelby, Ohio at the time.
Initially forgotten after his death, Lee's books (most of them featuring gaudy illustrations by artist Bert Salg) have become highly valued by juvenile book collectors.
The first editions of each Jerry Todd book had an unusual feature: they included letters from readers, paired with Lee's warm, informal responses to them. This tradition—and intimate tone—was later imitated by Marvel Comics editor/publisher Stan Lee (no relation) in the “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” pages printed in the pages of all Marvel comics.
Edward Edson Lee died in Rockford, Illinois in 1944 and was buried in Beloit, Wisconsin.
Cabin John, Maryland
Jerry Todd series
Jerry Todd and the Whispering Mummy (1923)
Jerry Todd and the Rose-Colored Cat (1924)
Jerry Todd and the Oak Island Treasure (1925)
Jerry Todd and the Waltzing Hen (1924)
Jerry Todd and the Talking Frog (1925)
Jerry Todd and the Purring Egg (1925)
Jerry Todd in the Whispering Cave (1927)
Jerry Todd, Pirate (1928)
Jerry Todd and the Bob-Tailed Elephant (1929)
Jerry Todd, Editor-In-Grief (1930)
Jerry Todd, Caveman (1932)
Jerry Todd and the Flying Flapdoodle (1934)
Jerry Todd and the Buffalo Bill Bathtub (1936)
Jerry Todd's Up-The-Ladder Club (1937)
Jerry Todd's Poodle Parlor (1938)
Jerry Todd's Cuckoo Camp (1940)
HERB AND EUGENE
Just think how excited you’d be to start out in the morning a poor kid with patches on the seat of your pants and come home at night a young millionaire. Sounds like a fairy story, hey? Well, that is what happens to me in this story of mystery and hilarious adventure. Boy, the fun I was going to have with my fortune, I said.
But I wasn’t stingy with my new wealth. I remembered my chums. Scoop, Red and Peg each got fifty thousand dollars. Also I gave old Cap’n Tinkertop ten thousand dollars. In one day I spent one hundred and sixty thousand dollars out of my million dollars.
What was the humpback’s secret? Why was he hiding nights in the Cap’n’s barn? Why did he set fire to the barn? And, as amazing as anything else, though a small thing in itself, why did he come back to the barn after the fire, while we were in the haymow where the pool of blood was, to steal a common china nest egg?
There is mystery and shivers in this story. Br-r-r-r-r! Caught alone once, I thought I was done for. Yet we had crazy fun in the adventure too, like the night we abducted Humpty-Dumpty, the rejuvenated dodo egg taken from King Tut’s tomb. That was the craziest scheme ever—abducting an egg! And while hidden in the spooky cellar we heard those same queer padded footsteps over our heads. Pat! . . . Pat! . . . Pat! . . . Creepy, I’ll tell the world. For it was in the dead of night.
Then came a gurgling scream. Old Cap’n Tinkertop! A “hairy” catchup bottle had jumped at him, he told us, dizzy after his mysterious attack. A “hairy” catchup bottle; a hair-lined cave nest! What was the hidden connection? Was it a dodo hen’s nest? Were the eggs we found real dodo eggs? The story tells in rollicking style. You’ll laugh your head off one minute and shiver the next.
This is my sixth JERRY TODD book. The titles of my other books in their order are:
JERRY TODD AND THE WHISPERING MUMMY
JERRY TODD AND THE ROSE-COLORED CAT
JERRY TODD AND THE OAK ISLAND TREASURE
JERRY TODD AND THE WALTZING HEN
JERRY TODD AND THE TALKING FROG
My seventh book will be about a mysterious man with a strange “sleeping toe.” Remember our show boat, The Sally Ann, in my third book, JERRY TODD AND THE OAK ISLAND TREASURE? Well, we went back to the island in our clever little ark to empty a bee tree. There we found the Rev. Joshua Jonathan Jacobs living in a hidden cave.
What was the secret of the cave’s sighing, whispering voice? Was the black toe on the white man’s foot a cannibal’s toe, as he said? Was the toe actually hypnotized? We thought the man’s story was bunk. He was trying to string us, we said. But an amazing thing happened when the toe “woke up.” Boy, it was a narrow escape for me!
A real shipwreck, just like in a sea story, a tub raft patterned after the one in the Swiss Family Robinson book, cannibals, wild battles on an isolated island, hidden treasure, a smart rich kid who thought he owned the earth—plenty of material here for a corking good fun-mystery-adventure story. So watch for my seventh book, JERRY TODD IN THE WHISPERING CAVE.
THE EGG IN THE CAVE
This story starts in a cave in Higbee’s ravine. I was in the cave hunting for crystals. I guess you know what a crystal is. It’s like a hunk of glass only it isn’t glass. As much as I’ve hunted for crystals in the caves near Tutter, where I live, I’ve never found one. I guess I never will find one. But crystal hunting is fun, anyway.
I had a candle. For it was dark in the cave where I was. And all of a sudden I saw something at my feet that made my eyes pop. It was a great big egg. Say, it was a whopper. There it lay in a sort of hollowed-out sand nest. I was excited, I want to tell you. A hundred crystals wouldn’t have excited me half as much as this big egg. I knew I had made a big find. A dinosaur egg—that’s what it was. I could think of nothing else.
I ran back to the mouth of the cave.
“Hey!” I yipped to my three chums, who were playing leapfrog in the bed of the ravine. “Come quick! I’ve found something.”
“It must be a gold mine,” said Peg Shaw, coming on the run with the other two leapfroggers.
“Or a hunk of licorice,” panted Red Meyers.
Peg Shaw is the biggest one in our four-cornered gang. Red is the smallest. We call him Red because he has red hair and freckles. I’ve got freckles, too. But I haven’t got red hair. I’m glad of that.
“Say,” I cried, “did you fellows see in the newspaper the other day about Roy Chapman Andrews’ dinosaur eggs?”
“No,” said Peg. “What about it?”
“Well, I’ve found one, too.”
“Found one what?”
“A dinosaur egg.”
Scoop Ellery laughed in ridicule.
“Aw, Jerry. Tell that to the marines. There never was any dinosaurs around here. I read that newspaper article about Mr. Andrews. He found his petrified dinosaur eggs over in China. And this isn’t China. It’s Illinois.”
“There’s one here in the cave,” I declared.
“In that cave?” Scoop pointed, and then he laughed some more. “You poor fish! Don’t you know that a dinosaur is as big as a house? Why, sure thing it is. A dinosaur, let me tell you, is as big as the Methodist Church. So how could it have gotten into a little cave like that?”
“I don’t know how it did it,” I cried, “but the egg is there. That’s enough for me. And it’s worth five thousand dollars, too. For that’s what Mr. Andrews got for his dinosaur eggs.”
Peg put his head in the cave and let out four or five inches of neck.
“Come on with your candle,” said he. “I want to see this wonderful egg.”
Pretty soon we came to the sand nest.
“There,” I pointed in triumph. “I guess you fellows won’t laugh at me now.”
Peg gave the big egg a kick.
“Nothing but a stone,” he grunted.
“It’s petrified,” I told him, remembering what the newspaper had said about the eggs that Mr. Andrews had found.
“So is your head,” he laughed.
“But look at the shape,” I hung on. “It’s a perfect egg. You can see that, can’t you?”
“It looks like an egg,” said Scoop, after he had examined it. “But it isn’t—not even a petrified egg. As Peg says, it’s nothing but a queer-shaped stone.”
“But how did it get here?” I cried, disappointed. “And how about the nest?”
“Search me how it got here,” said Scoop, shrugging. “But it isn’t an egg—that’s one sure thing.”
“It’s awful,” I said, “to have five thousand dollars and lose it that easy. I thought I was going to be rich.”
“Now that we’ve got it,” laughed Peg, giving the big egg another kick, “what are we going to do with it?”
“I found it,” I said. “It ought to be mine by rights. But if you fellows want it you can have it. I don’t want to be piggy.”
“Help yourself,” said Red Meyers. “I wouldn’t lug it home for fifty cents.”
“Yah,” put in Scoop, with a liberal gesture. “It’s yours, Jerry. Take it home and hatch it if you can.”
“It’s a curiosity,” I told the others, “and I’m going to keep it.”
The leader thought he could have some fun with me.
“Who knows,” he laughed, “but what it will turn out to be a real dinosaur egg after all.”
“It might at that,” said Peg.
“And if Jerry hatches it,” added the leader, “he’ll be the father of the only dinosaur in captivity.”
“We’ll help you bring up your baby, Jerry,” offered Red.
“Sure thing,” laughed Scoop. “I’ll be its godfather if you’ll let me. And when it has the tummy ache I’ll help you dose it with castor oil.”
“Jerry’s going to be famous,” said Peg.
“And rich,” said Scoop.
Red jiggled my arm, trying to make me drop the big egg. “Watch out there, old kid. Don’t drop your fortune and crack it.”
“If you fellows don’t dry up,” I threatened, “one of you will get this egg on his bean.”
Scoop drew his face down.
“No kidding, Jerry,” said he, “but are you going to tell Mr. Stair about your dinosaur egg?”
“Mr. Stair?” I repeated.
“The editor of the Tutter newspaper. He’ll think this egg is a big piece of news. See? And I bet you he’ll have your name spread all over the front page of his newspaper. You’ll be as famous as Mr. Andrews.”
“Let’s not tell the newspaper man about our egg. Let’s keep it a secret. Maybe we can have some fun with it.”
“What kind of fun?” inquired Scoop.
“The egg fooled Jerry. So why can’t we fool other people?”
“I’d like to fool Bid Stricker,” said Red, speaking the name of the leader of the Zulutown gang. “For he’s always butting in on us. And it would be fun to make a monkey of him.”
We haven’t any use for the Zulutown gang, especially Bid, the leader. He’s a roughneck and his whole gang are roughnecks.
“I know how we can fool Bid,” said Peg. “We’ll bury the egg in some gravel pit, along with a lot of old horse-bones. Then we’ll make up a story that will start Bid and his gang to digging in the gravel with picks and shovels. When they uncover the bones and the egg they’ll think it’s a real dinosaur egg. See?”
“If you want to fool somebody,” I spoke up,’ “why don’t you go after old Cap’n Tinkertop? We owe him something, anyway, for the trick he played on me the day he had me chasing all over town after a kitchen wrench.”
“Hot dog!” cried Peg, his eyes dancing. “I never thought of the Cap’n.”
“He’s interested in eggs,” I added.
“Hen eggs,” said Red.
“We’ll tell him this is a goofle egg,” I laughed.
“Did I tell you the joke I played on the old man today?”
“No. What was it?”
“I figured he had something coming to him for the kitchen-wrench trick. So this morning when he came in the store to buy a dozen fresh eggs I sold him six hen eggs and six china eggs.”
“Nest eggs?” laughed Peg.
“He’ll come back to the store and bounce the china eggs on your bean,” I told the leader. “For you know his temper. He hasn’t any sense when he gets mad.”
“I should worry,” shrugged Scoop. “If I see him coming I’ll duck. He won’t get me. Not today, kid, nor to-morrow, either.”
Starting for home, we took turns carrying the big egg. It was pretty heavy. I guess it weighed eight or ten pounds. I sort of measured it in carrying it and found that it was bigger around than I could span and touch with my fingers and thumbs. And from one end to the other it was fully eight inches. In shape, as I have said, it was a perfect egg. Nature certainly had done a good job on it. I couldn’t help wondering if it wasn’t a petrified egg, after all.
Coming into town, we hurried through Zulutown, which is the name that the Tutter people have for the tough section of town beyond Dad’s brickyard. Bid Stricker lives in Zulutown. The Cap’n, too. So in the interests of our coming trick we kept our big egg out of sight. For we didn’t want either the Cap’n or Bid to see it. That would spoil our fun—though just what our trick was going to be we hadn’t determined.
Pretty soon I turned into our yard. Mother was in the kitchen getting supper. Her warm smile turned into a stare when she saw what I was carrying.
“Goodness gracious!” she cried. “Is it an egg?”
“A goofle egg,” I joked.
“Well, you can ‘goofle’ it outside,” said she, sort of shooing me toward the door. “For there’s enough of your truck scattered throughout the house as it is.”
I saw a chance to have some fun with her.
“Why can’t we keep it in the parlor?” I said.
“I can paint it pink with green spots,” I said, earnest-like. “It’ll look awful pretty.”
“Jerry! It’s a wonder to me that you don’t want to lug in an armful of your father’s paving bricks and paint them red, white and blue.”
“It’s a curiosity,” I defended, continuing my joke.
“Of course it is. But this is no museum.”
While I was washing my face and hands in the kitchen sink Dad came into the room, whistling and jiggling his feet in time to the music. In hugging Mother he reached behind and untied her apron strings. Then he gave me a swat on the head with the evening newspaper. When it comes to being lively and full of fun I’ll put my dad up against any other man in La Salle County. He’s great!
“Well, well,” said he, getting his eyes on my big stone egg. “Who says the hens aren’t laying this summer?”
“It isn’t a hen egg,” I grinned. “It’s a goofle egg.”
“How do we eat it?”
“We don’t eat it,” I said.
“It’s just a stone,” I explained.
“And can you imagine,” Mother sputtered, when Dad got in her way, “Jerry actually wants to paint it pink with green spots and put it in the parlor!”
“Fine!” laughed Dad, giving me the wink. “I always said that home wasn’t complete without a pink and green goofle egg. I think we’re pretty lucky to have one. Yes, sir-ee! Think of all the poor families who can’t afford to own a goofle egg.”
“It’ll look swell on the piano beside Aunt Hattie’s wedding picture,” I said.
“Let me catch you putting it on the piano,” sputtered Mother, “and something will happen to you, young man.”
Here Dad thought of something.
“Speaking of goofle eggs,” said he, “reminds me that I have a message for you, Jerry.”
“Yes?” I said.
“It’s from Cap’n Tinkertop.”
“That silly old bachelor!” sputtered Mother, fussing with her apron strings. “I can’t understand what the boys see in him. I sometimes wish Jerry didn’t go there so much.”
“The Cap’n’s all right,” I defended.
Dad looked at me and laughed.
“You didn’t think so the day he had you chasing all over town after a kitchen wrench. Hey?”
I grinned, sheepish-like.
“Who told you about the kitchen wrench?” I inquired.
“Oh, I found out about it,” he laughed. “I didn’t think you were so dumb, Jerry.”
“Just the same,” I waggled, “the Cap’n’s all right, even if he does play tricks on us. For when we’re at his house he lets us do anything we want to do.”
“Yes,” said Mother, “Mrs. Meyers told me how you and Donald baked biscuits the day you had dinner in Zulutown. . . . Did you actually eat them?”
I stared at her. That was a queer thing for her to ask. What would we do with them if we didn’t eat them? It was like asking what good is a clock, or why does a cow breathe?
“The Cap’n,” followed up Dad, “was peg-legging for the depot when I saw him. He was on his way to Ashton, he said, to get a new thing-um-bob for his incubator. He may be away all night. So he wants you to take care of his incubator until he gets back.”
“Has he got eggs in it?”
“I don’t know anything about incubators,” I said.
“Oh,” laughed Dad, “I’ve got the whole dope for you. All you’ve got to do is to listen to me and do as I tell you. You’re to go over to his barn after supper and see that the incubator is kept at a hundred and three. There’s a thermometer to go by. And you regulate the temperature by raising or lowering the wick of the incubator lamp. See? If the Cap’n doesn’t come home on number seven you’re to take the eggs out of the incubator at ten-thirty and give them a bath in lukewarm water.”
“I’ll get Scoop to help me,” I said.
“Yes,” said he, “the Cap’n mentioned Scoop.”
When supper was over I hunted up Scoop, telling him about my job, and the two of us headed for Zulutown. As we turned into the Cap’n’s yard Bid Stricker, who lives close by, came into sight. I don’t remember what he said to us, but it was something smart. That’s the kind of a kid he is. It’s no wonder we have it in for him.
“He’s still out there in the Cap’n’s yard,” said Scoop, when we had gone into the barn where the incubator was.
I got my nose to a crack in the barn’s wooden wall.
“There comes Jimmy Stricker,” I pointed, naming Bid’s smaller cousin.
“I can see Hib Milden, too,” said Scoop.
“One, two, three, four, five,” I counted. “Look! Bid’s telling the gang something about us—he’s pointing this way.”
“Maybe they’re going to attack us,” said Scoop. “Let’s get the door closed and lock ourselves in.”
Pretty soon there was a bang! bang! of rocks on the side of the barn. But that didn’t worry us. We were safe. And we had a lot of fun yelling stuff at the rock throwers.
“I wish, though,” said Scoop, during the bombardment, “that we had some rocks, too. Then we’d show them that this is a game that two sides can play at.”
“I’d rather have a stack of rotten eggs,” I laughed. “Oh, boy! Wouldn’t it be fun to paste Bid with a nice ripe egg! One that had been laying around in the sun for a month or two.”
Five or ten minutes passed. It was quiet outside the barn now. The yard was deserted. Having failed in their attack on us, the enemy had vanished.
“But let’s not be fooled,” said Scoop, using his head. “They may be up to some kind of a trick. You know Bid. Before we open the door we’ll make sure that they’ve gone.”
As I say, the Cap’n’s incubator was in the barn. And now, in the quiet following the enemy’s attack, we gave the home-made egg hatcher some attention. Dad had said that we were to keep the thermometer at a hundred and three. We found that the thermometer was all right. So there was nothing for us to do except to wait around until the old man came home on the ten-thirty train.
Now, ten-thirty isn’t late. Lots of nights I’ve been up until eleven or twelve o’clock. I can remember a few nights when I stayed up even later than that. But watching an incubator isn’t very exciting sport. And as it got close to ten o’clock we had a fight on our hands to keep the sleep out of our eyes.
“Ho-hum!” yawned Scoop, stretching. “I’m pretty near asleep, Jerry.”
“Me, too,” I yawned.
“It looks foolish to me staying here. The incubator’s all right.”
“The Cap’n wouldn’t have asked us to stay,” I said, “if it wasn’t important.”
“Do you suppose he’s testing the incubator?”
“Probably. He’s been working on it for weeks. You know that.”
“Huh!” grunted Scoop, turning up his nose at the home-made egg hatcher. “It doesn’t look like much of an invention to me. All it is is a box with a lamp in it.”
“The Cap’n thinks it’s a very wonderful invention,” I said.
“Yah, he told me how he was going to get it patented and make a fortune.”
“I hope he does,” I waggled.
I was thinking at the moment how very poor the Cap’n was. And I was thinking, too, how bully it would be if he did get a fortune out of his invention.
It was years and years ago that the old man first came to Tutter. He was a canal-boat captain then. That was before I was born. We don’t have canal boats in and through Tutter now. They sort of went out of business. I guess they were too slow. Anyway, the Cap’n found himself out of a job. And because he had lost a leg at the knee he was given a small monthly pension. He lives in one of Dad’s houses in Zulutown.
Scoop and I kept on yawning and stretching. Then the leader went to the door and squinted outside into the moonlit yard.
“I wonder if the Strickers are still laying for us.”
“You don’t see them?”
“Anyway,” I said, “they’d be hid.”
“Sure thing. . . . Say, Jerry, I’ve got a notion to do some scouting.”
“If they catch you,” I said, “they’ll paste you good and proper.”
“Oh, I won’t let them catch me. They aren’t smart enough for that. Lock the door when I go out. When I want to come in I’ll whisper ‘eggs.’ See?”
Left alone in the silent, shadowy barn I suddenly got the queer, shaky feeling that I was being watched. I don’t know what gave me that feeling—certainly I hadn’t heard anything or seen anything to alarm me. But, as I say, the feeling came to me suddenly.
I had a lantern. And turning up the wick as high as it would stand without smoking, I took a look around the barn. There was nobody in the lower part of the building. I was sure of that.
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