Dorothy and the wizard i.., p.3
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       Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, p.3

          
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  "This child, who is from the crust of the earth, like yourself, called you a Wizard. Is not a Wizard something like a Sorcerer?"

  "It's better," replied Oz, promptly. "One Wizard is worth three Sorcerers."

  "Ah, you shall prove that," said the Prince. "We Mangaboos have, at the present time, one of the most wonderful Sorcerers that ever was picked from a bush; but he sometimes makes mistakes. Do you ever make mistakes?"

  "Never!" declared the Wizard, boldly.

  "Oh, Oz!" said Dorothy; "you made a lot of mistakes when you were in the marvelous Land of Oz."

  "Nonsense!" said the little man, turning red—although just then a ray of violet sunlight was on his round face.

  "Come with me," said the Prince to him. "I wish to meet our Sorcerer."

  The Wizard did not like this invitation, but he could not refuse to accept it. So he followed the Prince into the great domed hall, and Dorothy and Zeb came after them, while the throng of people trooped in also.

  There sat the thorny Sorcerer in his chair of state, and when the Wizard saw him he began to laugh, uttering comical little chuckles.

  "What an absurd creature!" he exclaimed.

  "He may look absurd," said the Prince, in his quiet voice; "but he is an excellent Sorcerer. The only fault I find with him is that he is so often wrong."

  "I am never wrong," answered the Sorcerer.

  "Only a short time ago you told me there would be no more Rain of Stones or of People," said the Prince.

  "Well, what then?"

  "Here is another person descended from the air to prove you were wrong."

  "One person cannot be called 'people,'" said the Sorcerer. "If two should come out of the sky you might with justice say I was wrong; but unless more than this one appears I will hold that I was right."

  "Very clever," said the Wizard, nodding his head as if pleased. "I am delighted to find humbugs inside the earth, just the same as on top of it. Were you ever with a circus, brother?"

  "No," said the Sorcerer.

  "You ought to join one," declared the little man seriously. "I belong to Bailum & Barney's Great Consolidated Shows—three rings in one tent and a menagerie on the side. It's a fine aggregation, I assure you."

  "What do you do?" asked the Sorcerer.

  "I go up in a balloon, usually, to draw the crowds to the circus. But I've just had the bad luck to come out of the sky, skip the solid earth, and land lower down than I intended. But never mind. It isn't everybody who gets a chance to see your Land of the Gabazoos."

  "Mangaboos," said the Sorcerer, correcting him. "If you are a Wizard you ought to be able to call people by their right names."

  "Oh, I'm a Wizard; you may be sure of that. Just as good a Wizard as you are a Sorcerer."

  "That remains to be seen," said the other.

  "If you are able to prove that you are better," said the Prince to the little man, "I will make you the Chief Wizard of this domain. Otherwise—"

  "What will happen otherwise?" asked the Wizard.

  "I will stop you from living and forbid you to be planted," returned the Prince.

  "That does not sound especially pleasant," said the little man, looking at the one with the star uneasily. "But never mind. I'll beat Old Prickly, all right."

  "My name is Gwig," said the Sorcerer, turning his heartless, cruel eyes upon his rival. "Let me see you equal the sorcery I am about to perform."

  He waved a thorny hand and at once the tinkling of bells was heard, playing sweet music. Yet, look where she would, Dorothy could discover no bells at all in the great glass hall.

  The Mangaboo people listened, but showed no great interest. It was one of the things Gwig usually did to prove he was a sorcerer.

  Now was the Wizard's turn, so he smiled upon the assemblage and asked:

  "Will somebody kindly loan me a hat?"

  No one did, because the Mangaboos did not wear hats, and Zeb had lost his, somehow, in his flight through the air.

  "Ahem!" said the Wizard, "will somebody please loan me a handkerchief?"

  But they had no handkerchiefs, either.

  "Very good," remarked the Wizard. "I'll use my own hat, if you please. Now, good people, observe me carefully. You see, there is nothing up my sleeve and nothing concealed about my person. Also, my hat is quite empty." He took off his hat and held it upside down, shaking it briskly.

  "Let me see it," said the Sorcerer.

  He took the hat and examined it carefully, returning it afterward to the Wizard.

  "Now," said the little man, "I will create something out of nothing."

  He placed the hat upon the glass floor, made a pass with his hand, and then removed the hat, displaying a little white piglet no bigger than a mouse, which began to run around here and there and to grunt and squeal in a tiny, shrill voice.

  The people watched it intently, for they had never seen a pig before, big or little. The Wizard reached out, caught the wee creature in his hand, and holding its head between one thumb and finger and its tail between the other thumb and finger he pulled it apart, each of the two parts becoming a whole and separate piglet in an instant.

  He placed one upon the floor, so that it could run around, and pulled apart the other, making three piglets in all; and then one of these was pulled apart, making four piglets. The Wizard continued this surprising performance until nine tiny piglets were running about at his feet, all squealing and grunting in a very comical way.

  "Now," said the Wizard of Oz, "having created something from nothing, I will make something nothing again."

  With this he caught up two of the piglets and pushed them together, so that the two were one. Then he caught up another piglet and pushed it into the first, where it disappeared. And so, one by one, the nine tiny piglets were pushed together until but a single one of the creatures remained. This the Wizard placed underneath his hat and made a mystic sign above it. When he removed his hat the last piglet had disappeared entirely.

  The little man gave a bow to the silent throng that had watched him, and then the Prince said, in his cold, calm voice:

  "You are indeed a wonderful Wizard, and your powers are greater than those of my Sorcerer."

  "He will not be a wonderful Wizard long," remarked Gwig.

  "Why not?" enquired the Wizard.

  "Because I am going to stop your breath," was the reply. "I perceive that you are curiously constructed, and that if you cannot breathe you cannot keep alive."

  The little man looked troubled.

  "How long will it take you to stop my breath?" he asked.

  "About five minutes. I'm going to begin now. Watch me carefully."

  He began making queer signs and passes toward the Wizard; but the little man did not watch him long. Instead, he drew a leathern case from his pocket and took from it several sharp knives, which he joined together, one after another, until they made a long sword. By the time he had attached a handle to this sword he was having much trouble to breathe, as the charm of the Sorcerer was beginning to take effect.

  So the Wizard lost no more time, but leaping forward he raised the sharp sword, whirled it once or twice around his head, and then gave a mighty stroke that cut the body of the Sorcerer exactly in two.

  Dorothy screamed and expected to see a terrible sight; but as the two halves of the Sorcerer fell apart on the floor she saw that he had no bones or blood inside of him at all, and that the place where he was cut looked much like a sliced turnip or potato.

  "Why, he's vegetable!" cried the Wizard, astonished.

  "Of course," said the Prince. "We are all vegetable, in this country. Are you not vegetable, also?"

  "No," answered the Wizard. "People on top of the earth are all meat. Will your Sorcerer die?"

  "Certainly, sir. He is really dead now, and will wither very quickly. So we must plant him at once, that other Sorcerers may grow upon his bush," continued the Prince.

  "What do you mean by that?" asked the little Wizard, greatly puzzled.

  "If you will accompany me to our public gardens," replied the Prince, "I will explain to you much better than I can here the mysteries of our Vegetable Kingdom."

  4 - The Vegetable Kingdom

  *

  After the Wizard had wiped the dampness from his sword and taken it apart and put the pieces into their leathern case again, the man with the star ordered some of his people to carry the two halves of the Sorcerer to the public gardens.

  Jim pricked up his ears when he heard they were going to the gardens, and wanted to join the party, thinking he might find something proper to eat; so Zeb put down the top of the buggy and invited the Wizard to ride with them. The seat was amply wide enough for the little man and the two children, and when Jim started to leave the hall the kitten jumped upon his back and sat there quite contentedly.

  So the procession moved through the streets, the bearers of the Sorcerer first, the Prince next, then Jim drawing the buggy with the strangers inside of it, and last the crowd of vegetable people who had no hearts and could neither smile nor frown.

  The glass city had several fine streets, for a good many people lived there; but when the procession had passed through these it came upon a broad plain covered with gardens and watered by many pretty brooks that flowed through it. There were paths through these gardens, and over some of the brooks were ornamental glass bridges.

  Dorothy and Zeb now got out of the buggy and walked beside the Prince, so that they might see and examine the flowers and plants better.

  "Who built these lovely bridges?" asked the little girl.

  "No one built them," answered the man with the star. "They grow."

  "That's queer," said she. "Did the glass houses in your city grow, too?"

  "Of course," he replied. "But it took a good many years for them to grow as large and fine as they are now. That is why we are so angry when a Rain of Stones comes to break our towers and crack our roofs."

  "Can't you mend them?" she enquired.

  "No; but they will grow together again, in time, and we must wait until they do."

  They first passed through many beautiful gardens of flowers, which grew nearest the city; but Dorothy could hardly tell what kind of flowers they were, because the colors were constantly changing under the shifting lights of the six suns. A flower would be pink one second, white the next, then blue or yellow; and it was the same way when they came to the plants, which had broad leaves and grew close to the ground.

  When they passed over a field of grass Jim immediately stretched down his head and began to nibble.

  "A nice country this is," he grumbled, "where a respectable horse has to eat pink grass!"

  "It's violet," said the Wizard, who was in the buggy.

  "Now it's blue," complained the horse. "As a matter of fact, I'm eating rainbow grass."

  "How does it taste?" asked the Wizard.

  "Not bad at all," said Jim. "If they give me plenty of it I'll not complain about its color."

  By this time the party had reached a freshly plowed field, and the Prince said to Dorothy:

  "This is our planting-ground."

  Several Mangaboos came forward with glass spades and dug a hole in the ground. Then they put the two halves of the Sorcerer into it and covered him up. After that other people brought water from a brook and sprinkled the earth.

  "He will sprout very soon," said the Prince, "and grow into a large bush, from which we shall in time be able to pick several very good sorcerers."

  "Do all your people grow on bushes?" asked the boy.

  "Certainly," was the reply. "Do not all people grow upon bushes where you came from, on the outside of the earth?"

  "Not that I ever hear of."

  "How strange! But if you will come with me to one of our folk gardens I will show you the way we grow in the Land of the Mangaboos."

  It appeared that these odd people, while they were able to walk through the air with ease, usually moved upon the ground in the ordinary way. There were no stairs in their houses, because they did not need them, but on a level surface they generally walked just as we do.

  The little party of strangers now followed the Prince across a few more of the glass bridges and along several paths until they came to a garden enclosed by a high hedge. Jim had refused to leave the field of grass, where he was engaged in busily eating; so the Wizard got out of the buggy and joined Zeb and Dorothy, and the kitten followed demurely at their heels.

  Inside the hedge they came upon row after row of large and handsome plants with broad leaves gracefully curving until their points nearly reached the ground. In the center of each plant grew a daintily dressed Mangaboo, for the clothing of all these creatures grew upon them and was attached to their bodies.

  The growing Mangaboos were of all sizes, from the blossom that had just turned into a wee baby to the full-grown and almost ripe man or woman. On some of the bushes might be seen a bud, a blossom, a baby, a half-grown person and a ripe one; but even those ready to pluck were motionless and silent, as if devoid of life. This sight explained to Dorothy why she had seen no children among the Mangaboos, a thing she had until now been unable to account for.

  "Our people do not acquire their real life until they leave their bushes," said the Prince. "You will notice they are all attached to the plants by the soles of their feet, and when they are quite ripe they are easily separated from the stems and at once attain the powers of motion and speech. So while they grow they cannot be said to really live, and they must be picked before they can become good citizens."

  "How long do you live, after you are picked?" asked Dorothy.

  "That depends upon the care we take of ourselves," he replied. "If we keep cool and moist, and meet with no accidents, we often live for five years. I've been picked over six years, but our family is known to be especially long lived."

  "Do you eat?" asked the boy.

  "Eat! No, indeed. We are quite solid inside our bodies, and have no need to eat, any more than does a potato."

  "But the potatoes sometimes sprout," said Zeb.

  "And sometimes we do," answered the Prince; "but that is considered a great misfortune, for then we must be planted at once."

  "Where did you grow?" asked the Wizard.

  "I will show you," was the reply. "Step this way, please."

  He led them within another but smaller circle of hedge, where grew one large and beautiful bush.

  "This," said he, "is the Royal Bush of the Mangaboos. All of our Princes and Rulers have grown upon this one bush from time immemorial."

  They stood before it in silent admiration. On the central stalk stood poised the figure of a girl so exquisitely formed and colored and so lovely in the expression of her delicate features that Dorothy thought she had never seen so sweet and adorable a creature in all her life. The maiden's gown was soft as satin and fell about her in ample folds, while dainty lace-like traceries trimmed the bodice and sleeves. Her flesh was fine and smooth as polished ivory, and her poise expressed both dignity and grace.

  "Who is this?" asked the Wizard, curiously.

  The Prince had been staring hard at the girl on the bush. Now he answered, with a touch of uneasiness in his cold tones:

  "She is the Ruler destined to be my successor, for she is a Royal Princess. When she becomes fully ripe I must abandon the sovereignty of the Mangaboos to her."

  "Isn't she ripe now?" asked Dorothy.

  He hesitated.

  "Not quite," said he, finally. "It will be several days before she needs to be picked, or at least that is my judgment. I am in no hurry to resign my office and be planted, you may be sure."

  "Probably not," declared the Wizard, nodding.

  "This is one of the most unpleasant things about our vegetable lives," continued the Prince, with a sigh, "that while we are in our full prime we must give way to another, and be covered up in the ground to sprout and grow and give birth to other people."

  "I'm sure the Princess is ready to be picked," asserted Dorothy, gazing hard at the beautiful girl on the bush. "She's as perfect as she can be."

  "Never mind," answered the Prince, hastily, "she will be all right for a few days longer, and it is best for me to rule until I can dispose of you strangers, who have come to our land uninvited and must be attended to at once."

  "What are you going to do with us?" asked Zeb.

  "That is a matter I have not quite decided upon," was the reply. "I think I shall keep this Wizard until a new Sorcerer is ready to pick, for he seems quite skillful and may be of use to us. But the rest of you must be destroyed in some way, and you cannot be planted, because I do not wish horses and cats and meat people growing all over our country."

  "You needn't worry," said Dorothy. "We wouldn't grow under ground, I'm sure."

  "But why destroy my friends?" asked the little Wizard. "Why not let them live?"

  "They do not belong here," returned the Prince. "They have no right to be inside the earth at all."

  "We didn't ask to come down here; we fell," said Dorothy.

  "That is no excuse," declared the Prince, coldly.

  The children looked at each other in perplexity, and the Wizard sighed. Eureka rubbed her paw on her face and said in her soft, purring voice:

  "He won't need to destroy ME, for if I don't get something to eat pretty soon I shall starve to death, and so save him the trouble."

  "If he planted you, he might grow some cat-tails," suggested the Wizard.

  "Oh, Eureka! perhaps we can find you some milk-weeds to eat," said the boy.

  "Phoo!" snarled the kitten; "I wouldn't touch the nasty things!"

  "You don't need milk, Eureka," remarked Dorothy; "you are big enough now to eat any kind of food."

  "If I can get it," added Eureka.

  "I'm hungry myself," said Zeb. "But I noticed some strawberries growing in one of the gardens, and some melons in another place. These people don't eat such things, so perhaps on our way back they will let us get them."

  "Never mind your hunger," interrupted the Prince. "I shall order you destroyed in a few minutes, so you will have no need to ruin our pretty melon vines and berry bushes. Follow me, please, to meet your doom."

 
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