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Red Head

Click to return to index    Author:  Edward Eager
Copyright Date:  1951
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin
Pagination:  24 p.

Fritz had hair of a beautiful red,
Not auburn, or ginger, or sandy, but red.

And when he went out on his bike or his sled
Collections of strangers came up and said,
“Hi, Red.”

Fritz didn’t like it; his name was Fritz!
And he blamed his hair, ’cause the fault was its,
And he wished it were yellow, or brown, or black,
And he wished he could take it and give it back,
And he got so angry he told his father
He wished he were bald; he’d really rather!
And he got so angry at last one day
He ran, and he ran, and he ran away!

He ran and he ran for about an hour
And some bees and things
With wings and stings
Came following after with speed and power,
Saying, “My, a new kind of bright-red flower!”

He ran from the stings, and he tried to hide,
But he hid in a field with a bull inside!
And the bull looked up at that bright red head
And saw red!

He gave a bellow! He charged! And then...
Fritz started running and running again!
And he ran and he ran for about a day,
And the bees and the bull followed all the way!

And other folks joined that desperate chase—
(By this time Fritz was red in the face!)—

A woman looking for carrots for dinner
Who thought that Fritz would taste lovely in her,
A bricklayer wanting to lay bricks higher,
And some firemen yelling out, “Look! A fire!”

And Fritz looked back, and he muttered, “There!
That’s what I mean about red hair!”
And he wished he’d been born some other fellow,
With hair that was black, or maybe yellow.

They all ran on till they came to the coast.
And a fog came up that was thicker than most,
And the sun went down to its home in the West,
And the bull grew bored with its angry quest,
And the things with stings lost interest,

And the woman remembered her dinner guest,
And the bricklayer had a pain in his chest,
And the firemen tired of their zeal and zest
And went back to the firehouse and got undressed,
And they all went home, ’cause home is best,
And Fritz sat down to rest.

But his hair gleamed red through the misty grey
To some ships at sea that had lost their way,
And their captains cried, in a tone of shock,
“See! A lighthouse! Beware of the rock!”
And quick as a wink the ships turned round
And sailed into harbor all safe and sound,
And none of the sailors and passengers drowned!
(Fritz afterwards found.)

But now, as he sat where the dark waves tossed,
Fritz discovered that he was lost!

It was time for supper and time for bed,
And he wished he were bathed and undressed and fed,
And he’d have been glad if someone had said,
“Hi, Red!”

He looked around, but nobody came,
And each way he looked looked just the same!
He looked around, and he shook with fright,
But he chose the path that he thought was right
And he started walking. To his delight
His hair shone out through the dark of night,
Just like a flashlight, except more bright;
Just like a flashlight, except bright red...
And lit the way ahead!

And at all of the dangerous intersections
Traffic coming from different directions
Stopped with unusually sudden stops,
Saying, “Red Light! Danger! Possibly cops!”
And Fritz walked homeward from where he’d been to,
And wasn’t run into!

Meanwhile his parents were tearing their hair
And wildly wondering, “Where, oh, where?”
And hiring detectives named Sherlock Holmes
And combing the country with fine-tooth combs,
And whittling switches of silver birch,
And forming search parties and starting to search.

They saw him first from a mile or more
Like a firefly moving along the shore.
They saw him next from a mile or under
And wondered, “Is it the moon, I wonder?”

They took out a spyglass at half a mile
And his mother said, “Yes, I can see his smile!”
They followed the gleam that beamed around him
A quarter mile more . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . and found him!

If his hair had been brown they’d have gone right by him.
If his hair had been black, they’d have never come nigh him!
If his hair had been yellow, they might have said, “This him?”
But his hair was red. They couldn’t miss him.

They hurried home with their sunny sonny
And paid the detectives their hard-earned money,
And the search parties left, when they’d been thanked,
And they were all so happy Fritz wasn’t spanked!
He was kissed and undressed and bathed and fed

With the very best butter and home-made bread,
With Spam and with Prem and with sandwich spread,
And carried upstairs by his father instead!

And the last they heard from that sleepyhead
As he snuggled down in his safe warm bed,

“I’m glad that my hair is very red,”
Fritz said.

Cover variant Flap copy

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