The wonderful wizard of.., p.11
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, p.11
 

           L. Frank Baum
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

  Then Toto came up, and immediately began to bark, but Dorothy made him be still.

  The Lion climbed the ladder next, and the Tin Woodman came last; but both of them cried, "Oh, my!" as soon as they looked over the wall. When they were all sitting in a row on the top of the wall, they looked down and saw a strange sight.

  Before them was a great stretch of country having a floor as smooth and shining and white as the bottom of a big platter. Scattered around were many houses made entirely of china and painted in the brightest colors. These houses were quite small, the biggest of them reaching only as high as Dorothy's waist. There were also pretty little barns, with china fences around them; and many cows and sheep and horses and pigs and chickens, all made of china, were standing about in groups.

  But the strangest of all were the people who lived in this queer country. There were milkmaids and shepherdesses, with brightly colored bodices and golden spots all over their gowns; and princesses with most gorgeous frocks of silver and gold and purple; and shepherds dressed in knee breeches with pink and yellow and blue stripes down them, and golden buckles on their shoes; and princes with jeweled crowns upon their heads, wearing ermine robes and satin doublets; and funny clowns in ruffled gowns, with round red spots upon their cheeks and tall, pointed caps. And, strangest of all, these people were all made of china, even to their clothes, and were so small that the tallest of them was no higher than Dorothy's knee.

  No one did so much as look at the travelers at first, except one little purple china dog with an extra-large head, which came to the wall and barked at them in a tiny voice, afterwards running away again.

  "How shall we get down?" asked Dorothy.

  They found the ladder so heavy they could not pull it up, so the Scarecrow fell off the wall and the others jumped down upon him so that the hard floor would not hurt their feet. Of course they took pains not to light on his head and get the pins in their feet. When all were safely down they picked up the Scarecrow, whose body was quite flattened out, and patted his straw into shape again.

  "We must cross this strange place in order to get to the other side," said Dorothy, "for it would be unwise for us to go any other way except due South."

  They began walking through the country of the china people, and the first thing they came to was a china milkmaid milking a china cow. As they drew near, the cow suddenly gave a kick and kicked over the stool, the pail, and even the milkmaid herself, and all fell on the china ground with a great clatter.

  Dorothy was shocked to see that the cow had broken her leg off, and that the pail was lying in several small pieces, while the poor milkmaid had a nick in her left elbow.

  "There!" cried the milkmaid angrily. "See what you have done! My cow has broken her leg, and I must take her to the mender's shop and have it glued on again. What do you mean by coming here and frightening my cow?"

  "I'm very sorry," returned Dorothy. "Please forgive us."

  But the pretty milkmaid was much too vexed to make any answer. She picked up the leg sulkily and led her cow away, the poor animal limping on three legs. As she left them the milkmaid cast many reproachful glances over her shoulder at the clumsy strangers, holding her nicked elbow close to her side.

  Dorothy was quite grieved at this mishap.

  "We must be very careful here," said the kind-hearted Woodman, "or we may hurt these pretty little people so they will never get over it."

  A little farther on Dorothy met a most beautifully dressed young Princess, who stopped short as she saw the strangers and started to run away.

  Dorothy wanted to see more of the Princess, so she ran after her. But the china girl cried out:

  "Don't chase me! Don't chase me!"

  She had such a frightened little voice that Dorothy stopped and said, "Why not?"

  "Because," answered the Princess, also stopping, a safe distance away, "if I run I may fall down and break myself."

  "But could you not be mended?" asked the girl.

  "Oh, yes; but one is never so pretty after being mended, you know," replied the Princess.

  "I suppose not," said Dorothy.

  "Now there is Mr. Joker, one of our clowns," continued the china lady, "who is always trying to stand upon his head. He has broken himself so often that he is mended in a hundred places, and doesn't look at all pretty. Here he comes now, so you can see for yourself."

  Indeed, a jolly little clown came walking toward them, and Dorothy could see that in spite of his pretty clothes of red and yellow and green he was completely covered with cracks, running every which way and showing plainly that he had been mended in many places.

  The Clown put his hands in his pockets, and after puffing out his cheeks and nodding his head at them saucily, he said:

  "My lady fair,

  Why do you stare

  At poor old Mr. Joker?

  You're quite as stiff

  And prim as if

  You'd eaten up a poker!"

  "Be quiet, sir!" said the Princess. "Can't you see these are strangers, and should be treated with respect?"

  "Well, that's respect, I expect," declared the Clown, and immediately stood upon his head.

  "Don't mind Mr. Joker," said the Princess to Dorothy. "He is considerably cracked in his head, and that makes him foolish."

  "Oh, I don't mind him a bit," said Dorothy. "But you are so beautiful," she continued, "that I am sure I could love you dearly. Won't you let me carry you back to Kansas, and stand you on Aunt Em's mantel? I could carry you in my basket."

  "That would make me very unhappy," answered the china Princess. "You see, here in our country we live contentedly, and can talk and move around as we please. But whenever any of us are taken away our joints at once stiffen, and we can only stand straight and look pretty. Of course that is all that is expected of us when we are on mantels and cabinets and drawing-room tables, but our lives are much pleasanter here in our own country."

  "I would not make you unhappy for all the world!" exclaimed Dorothy. "So I'll just say good-bye."

  "Good-bye," replied the Princess.

  They walked carefully through the china country. The little animals and all the people scampered out of their way, fearing the strangers would break them, and after an hour or so the travelers reached the other side of the country and came to another china wall.

  It was not so high as the first, however, and by standing upon the Lion's back they all managed to scramble to the top. Then the Lion gathered his legs under him and jumped on the wall; but just as he jumped, he upset a china church with his tail and smashed it all to pieces.

  "That was too bad," said Dorothy, "but really I think we were lucky in not doing these little people more harm than breaking a cow's leg and a church. They are all so brittle!"

  "They are, indeed," said the Scarecrow, "and I am thankful I am made of straw and cannot be easily damaged. There are worse things in the world than being a Scarecrow."

  21 - The Lion Becomes the King of Beasts

  *

  After climbing down from the china wall the travelers found themselves in a disagreeable country, full of bogs and marshes and covered with tall, rank grass. It was difficult to walk without falling into muddy holes, for the grass was so thick that it hid them from sight. However, by carefully picking their way, they got safely along until they reached solid ground. But here the country seemed wilder than ever, and after a long and tiresome walk through the underbrush they entered another forest, where the trees were bigger and older than any they had ever seen.

  "This forest is perfectly delightful," declared the Lion, looking around him with joy. "Never have I seen a more beautiful place."

  "It seems gloomy," said the Scarecrow.

  "Not a bit of it," answered the Lion. "I should like to live here all my life. See how soft the dried leaves are under your feet and how rich and green the moss is that clings to these old trees. Surely no wild beast could wish a pleasanter home."

  "Perhaps there are wild beasts in the
forest now," said Dorothy.

  "I suppose there are," returned the Lion, "but I do not see any of them about."

  They walked through the forest until it became too dark to go any farther. Dorothy and Toto and the Lion lay down to sleep, while the Woodman and the Scarecrow kept watch over them as usual.

  When morning came, they started again. Before they had gone far they heard a low rumble, as of the growling of many wild animals. Toto whimpered a little, but none of the others was frightened, and they kept along the well-trodden path until they came to an opening in the wood, in which were gathered hundreds of beasts of every variety. There were tigers and elephants and bears and wolves and foxes and all the others in the natural history, and for a moment Dorothy was afraid. But the Lion explained that the animals were holding a meeting, and he judged by their snarling and growling that they were in great trouble.

  As he spoke several of the beasts caught sight of him, and at once the great assemblage hushed as if by magic. The biggest of the tigers came up to the Lion and bowed, saying:

  "Welcome, O King of Beasts! You have come in good time to fight our enemy and bring peace to all the animals of the forest once more."

  "What is your trouble?" asked the Lion quietly.

  "We are all threatened," answered the tiger, "by a fierce enemy which has lately come into this forest. It is a most tremendous monster, like a great spider, with a body as big as an elephant and legs as long as a tree trunk. It has eight of these long legs, and as the monster crawls through the forest he seizes an animal with a leg and drags it to his mouth, where he eats it as a spider does a fly. Not one of us is safe while this fierce creature is alive, and we had called a meeting to decide how to take care of ourselves when you came among us."

  The Lion thought for a moment.

  "Are there any other lions in this forest?" he asked.

  "No; there were some, but the monster has eaten them all. And, besides, they were none of them nearly so large and brave as you."

  "If I put an end to your enemy, will you bow down to me and obey me as King of the Forest?" inquired the Lion.

  "We will do that gladly," returned the tiger; and all the other beasts roared with a mighty roar: "We will!"

  "Where is this great spider of yours now?" asked the Lion.

  "Yonder, among the oak trees," said the tiger, pointing with his forefoot.

  "Take good care of these friends of mine," said the Lion, "and I will go at once to fight the monster."

  He bade his comrades good-bye and marched proudly away to do battle with the enemy.

  The great spider was lying asleep when the Lion found him, and it looked so ugly that its foe turned up his nose in disgust. Its legs were quite as long as the tiger had said, and its body covered with coarse black hair. It had a great mouth, with a row of sharp teeth a foot long; but its head was joined to the pudgy body by a neck as slender as a wasp's waist. This gave the Lion a hint of the best way to attack the creature, and as he knew it was easier to fight it asleep than awake, he gave a great spring and landed directly upon the monster's back. Then, with one blow of his heavy paw, all armed with sharp claws, he knocked the spider's head from its body. Jumping down, he watched it until the long legs stopped wiggling, when he knew it was quite dead.

  The Lion went back to the opening where the beasts of the forest were waiting for him and said proudly:

  "You need fear your enemy no longer."

  Then the beasts bowed down to the Lion as their King, and he promised to come back and rule over them as soon as Dorothy was safely on her way to Kansas.

  22 - The Country of the Quadlings

  *

  The four travelers passed through the rest of the forest in safety, and when they came out from its gloom saw before them a steep hill, covered from top to bottom with great pieces of rock.

  "That will be a hard climb," said the Scarecrow, "but we must get over the hill, nevertheless."

  So he led the way and the others followed. They had nearly reached the first rock when they heard a rough voice cry out, "Keep back!"

  "Who are you?" asked the Scarecrow.

  Then a head showed itself over the rock and the same voice said, "This hill belongs to us, and we don't allow anyone to cross it."

  "But we must cross it," said the Scarecrow. "We're going to the country of the Quadlings."

  "But you shall not!" replied the voice, and there stepped from behind the rock the strangest man the travelers had ever seen.

  He was quite short and stout and had a big head, which was flat at the top and supported by a thick neck full of wrinkles. But he had no arms at all, and, seeing this, the Scarecrow did not fear that so helpless a creature could prevent them from climbing the hill. So he said, "I'm sorry not to do as you wish, but we must pass over your hill whether you like it or not," and he walked boldly forward.

  As quick as lightning the man's head shot forward and his neck stretched out until the top of the head, where it was flat, struck the Scarecrow in the middle and sent him tumbling, over and over, down the hill. Almost as quickly as it came the head went back to the body, and the man laughed harshly as he said, "It isn't as easy as you think!"

  A chorus of boisterous laughter came from the other rocks, and Dorothy saw hundreds of the armless Hammer-Heads upon the hillside, one behind every rock.

  The Lion became quite angry at the laughter caused by the Scarecrow's mishap, and giving a loud roar that echoed like thunder, he dashed up the hill.

  Again a head shot swiftly out, and the great Lion went rolling down the hill as if he had been struck by a cannon ball.

  Dorothy ran down and helped the Scarecrow to his feet, and the Lion came up to her, feeling rather bruised and sore, and said, "It is useless to fight people with shooting heads; no one can withstand them."

  "What can we do, then?" she asked.

  "Call the Winged Monkeys," suggested the Tin Woodman. "You have still the right to command them once more."

  "Very well," she answered, and putting on the Golden Cap she uttered the magic words. The Monkeys were as prompt as ever, and in a few moments the entire band stood before her.

  "What are your commands?" inquired the King of the Monkeys, bowing low.

  "Carry us over the hill to the country of the Quadlings," answered the girl.

  "It shall be done," said the King, and at once the Winged Monkeys caught the four travelers and Toto up in their arms and flew away with them. As they passed over the hill the Hammer-Heads yelled with vexation, and shot their heads high in the air, but they could not reach the Winged Monkeys, which carried Dorothy and her comrades safely over the hill and set them down in the beautiful country of the Quadlings.

  "This is the last time you can summon us," said the leader to Dorothy; "so good-bye and good luck to you."

  "Good-bye, and thank you very much," returned the girl; and the Monkeys rose into the air and were out of sight in a twinkling.

  The country of the Quadlings seemed rich and happy. There was field upon field of ripening grain, with well-paved roads running between, and pretty rippling brooks with strong bridges across them. The fences and houses and bridges were all painted bright red, just as they had been painted yellow in the country of the Winkies and blue in the country of the Munchkins. The Quadlings themselves, who were short and fat and looked chubby and good-natured, were dressed all in red, which showed bright against the green grass and the yellowing grain.

  The Monkeys had set them down near a farmhouse, and the four travelers walked up to it and knocked at the door. It was opened by the farmer's wife, and when Dorothy asked for something to eat the woman gave them all a good dinner, with three kinds of cake and four kinds of cookies, and a bowl of milk for Toto.

  "How far is it to the Castle of Glinda?" asked the child.

  "It is not a great way," answered the farmer's wife. "Take the road to the South and you will soon reach it."

  Thanking the good woman, they started afresh and walked by the fie
lds and across the pretty bridges until they saw before them a very beautiful Castle. Before the gates were three young girls, dressed in handsome red uniforms trimmed with gold braid; and as Dorothy approached, one of them said to her:

  "Why have you come to the South Country?"

  "To see the Good Witch who rules here," she answered. "Will you take me to her?"

  "Let me have your name, and I will ask Glinda if she will receive you." They told who they were, and the girl soldier went into the Castle. After a few moments she came back to say that Dorothy and the others were to be admitted at once.

  23 - Glinda the Good Witch Grants Dorothy's Wish

  *

  Before they went to see Glinda, however, they were taken to a room of the Castle, where Dorothy washed her face and combed her hair, and the Lion shook the dust out of his mane, and the Scarecrow patted himself into his best shape, and the Woodman polished his tin and oiled his joints.

  When they were all quite presentable they followed the soldier girl into a big room where the Witch Glinda sat upon a throne of rubies.

  She was both beautiful and young to their eyes. Her hair was a rich red in color and fell in flowing ringlets over her shoulders. Her dress was pure white but her eyes were blue, and they looked kindly upon the little girl.

  "What can I do for you, my child?" she asked.

  Dorothy told the Witch all her story: how the cyclone had brought her to the Land of Oz, how she had found her companions, and of the wonderful adventures they had met with.

  "My greatest wish now," she added, "is to get back to Kansas, for Aunt Em will surely think something dreadful has happened to me, and that will make her put on mourning; and unless the crops are better this year than they were last, I am sure Uncle Henry cannot afford it."

  Glinda leaned forward and kissed the sweet, upturned face of the loving little girl.

  "Bless your dear heart," she said, "I am sure I can tell you of a way to get back to Kansas." Then she added, "But, if I do, you must give me the Golden Cap."

 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Scroll
  • 33 236
  • 0
Add comment

Add comment