FictionForest

Chapter 9

L. Frank BaumOct 04, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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It did not take Dorothy long to establish herself in her new home, for
she knew the people and the manners and customs of the Emerald City
just as well as she knew the old Kansas farm.

But Uncle Henry and Aunt Em had some trouble in getting used to the
finery and pomp and ceremony of Ozma’s palace, and felt uneasy because
they were obliged to be “dressed up” all the time. Yet every one was
very courteous and kind to them and endeavored to make them happy.
Ozma, especially, made much of Dorothy’s relatives, for her little
friend’s sake, and she well knew that the awkwardness and strangeness
of their new mode of life would all wear off in time.

The old people were chiefly troubled by the fact that there was no
work for them to do.

“Ev’ry day is like Sunday, now,” declared Aunt Em, solemnly, “and I
can’t say I like it. If they’d only let me do up the dishes after
meals, or even sweep an’ dust my own rooms, I’d be a deal happier.
Henry don’t know what to do with himself either, and once when he
stole out an’ fed the chickens Billina scolded him for letting ’em
eat between meals. I never knew before what a hardship it is to be
rich and have everything you want.”

These complaints began to worry Dorothy; so she had a long talk with
Ozma upon the subject.

“I see I must find them something to do,” said the girlish Ruler of
Oz, seriously. “I have been watching your uncle and aunt, and I
believe they will be more contented if occupied with some light tasks.
While I am considering this matter, Dorothy, you might make a trip
with them through the Land of Oz, visiting some of the odd corners and
introducing your relatives to some of our curious people.”

“Oh, that would be fine!” exclaimed Dorothy, eagerly.

“I will give you an escort befitting your rank as a Princess,”
continued Ozma; “and you may go to some of the places you have not yet
visited yourself, as well as some others that you know. I will mark
out a plan of the trip for you and have everything in readiness for
you to start to-morrow morning. Take your time, dear, and be gone as
long as you wish. By the time you return I shall have found some
occupation for Uncle Henry and Aunt Em that will keep them from being
restless and dissatisfied.”

Dorothy thanked her good friend and kissed the lovely Ruler gratefully.
Then she ran to tell the joyful news to her uncle and aunt.

Next morning, after breakfast, everything was found ready for
their departure.

The escort included Omby Amby, the Captain General of Ozma’s army,
which consisted merely of twenty-seven officers besides the Captain
General. Once Omby Amby had been a private soldier–the only private
in the army–but as there was never any fighting to do Ozma saw no
need of a private, so she made Omby Amby the highest officer of them
all. He was very tall and slim and wore a gay uniform and a fierce
mustache. Yet the mustache was the only fierce thing about Omby Amby,
whose nature was as gentle as that of a child.

The wonderful Wizard had asked to join the party, and with him came
his friend the Shaggy Man, who was shaggy but not ragged, being
dressed in fine silks with satin shags and bobtails. The Shaggy Man
had shaggy whiskers and hair, but a sweet disposition and a soft,
pleasant voice.

There was an open wagon, with three seats for the passengers, and the
wagon was drawn by the famous wooden Sawhorse which had once been
brought to life by Ozma by means of a magic powder. The Sawhorse wore
wooden shoes to keep his wooden legs from wearing away, and he was
strong and swift. As this curious creature was Ozma’s own favorite
steed, and very popular with all the people of the Emerald City,
Dorothy knew that she had been highly favored by being permitted to
use the Sawhorse on her journey.

In the front seat of the wagon sat Dorothy and the Wizard. Uncle
Henry and Aunt Em sat in the next seat and the Shaggy Man and Omby
Amby in the third seat. Of course Toto was with the party, curled up
at Dorothy’s feet, and just as they were about to start, Billina came
fluttering along the path and begged to be taken with them. Dorothy
readily agreed, so the Yellow Hen flew up and perched herself upon the
dashboard. She wore her pearl necklace and three bracelets upon each
leg, in honor of the occasion.

Dorothy kissed Ozma good-bye, and all the people standing around waved
their handkerchiefs, and the band in an upper balcony struck up a
military march. Then the Wizard clucked to the Sawhorse and said:
“Gid-dap!” and the wooden animal pranced away and drew behind him the
big red wagon and all the passengers, without any effort at all. A
servant threw open a gate of the palace enclosure, that they might
pass out; and so, with music and shouts following them, the journey
was begun.

“It’s almost like a circus,” said Aunt Em, proudly. “I can’t help
feelin’ high an’ mighty in this kind of a turn-out.”

Indeed, as they passed down the street, all the people cheered them
lustily, and the Shaggy Man and the Wizard and the Captain General all
took off their hats and bowed politely in acknowledgment.

When they came to the great wall of the Emerald City, the gates were
opened by the Guardian who always tended them. Over the gateway hung
a dull-colored metal magnet shaped like a horse-shoe, placed against a
shield of polished gold.

“That,” said the Shaggy Man, impressively, “is the wonderful Love
Magnet. I brought it to the Emerald City myself, and all who pass
beneath this gateway are both loving and beloved.”

“It’s a fine thing,” declared Aunt Em, admiringly. “If we’d had it
in Kansas I guess the man who held a mortgage on the farm wouldn’t
have turned us out.”

“Then I’m glad we didn’t have it,” returned Uncle Henry. “I like Oz
better than Kansas, even; an’ this little wood Sawhorse beats all the
critters I ever saw. He don’t have to be curried, or fed, or watered,
an’ he’s strong as an ox. Can he talk, Dorothy?”

“Yes, Uncle,” replied the child. “But the Sawhorse never says much.
He told me once that he can’t talk and think at the same time, so he
prefers to think.”

“Which is very sensible,” declared the Wizard, nodding approvingly.
“Which way do we go, Dorothy?”

“Straight ahead into the Quadling Country,” she answered. “I’ve got a
letter of interduction to Miss Cuttenclip.”

“Oh!” exclaimed the Wizard, much interested. “Are we going there?
Then I’m glad I came, for I’ve always wanted to meet the Cuttenclips.”

“Who are they?” inquired Aunt Em.

“Wait till we get there,” replied Dorothy, with a laugh; “then you’ll
see for yourself. I’ve never seen the Cuttenclips, you know, so I
can’t ‘zactly ‘splain ’em to you.”

Once free of the Emerald City the Sawhorse dashed away at tremendous
speed. Indeed, he went so fast that Aunt Em had hard work to catch
her breath, and Uncle Henry held fast to the seat of the red wagon.

“Gently–gently, my boy!” called the Wizard, and at this the Sawhorse
slackened his speed.

“What’s wrong?” asked the animal, slightly turning his wooden head to
look at the party with one eye, which was a knot of wood.

“Why, we wish to admire the scenery, that’s all,” answered the Wizard.

“Some of your passengers,” added the Shaggy Man, “have never been out
of the Emerald City before, and the country is all new to them.”

“If you go too fast you’ll spoil all the fun,” said Dorothy.
“There’s no hurry.”

“Very well; it is all the same to me,” observed the Sawhorse;
and after that he went at a more moderate pace.

Uncle Henry was astonished.

“How can a wooden thing be so intelligent?” he asked.

“Why, I gave him some sawdust brains the last time I fitted his head
with new ears,” explained the Wizard. “The sawdust was made from hard
knots, and now the Sawhorse is able to think out any knotty problem he
meets with.”

“I see,” said Uncle Henry.

“I don’t,” remarked Aunt Em; but no one paid any attention
to this statement.

Before long they came to a stately building that stood upon a green
plain with handsome shade trees grouped here and there.

“What is that?” asked Uncle Henry.

“That,” replied the Wizard, “is the Royal Athletic College of Oz,
which is directed by Professor H. M. Wogglebug, T.E.”

“Let’s stop and make a call,” suggested Dorothy.

So the Sawhorse drew up in front of the great building and they were
met at the door by the learned Wogglebug himself. He seemed fully as
tall as the Wizard, and was dressed in a red and white checked vest
and a blue swallow-tailed coat, and had yellow knee breeches and purple
silk stockings upon his slender legs. A tall hat was jauntily set
upon his head and he wore spectacles over his big bright eyes.

“Welcome, Dorothy,” said the Wogglebug; “and welcome to all your friends.
We are indeed pleased to receive you at this great Temple of Learning.”

“I thought it was an Athletic College,” said the Shaggy Man.

“It is, my dear sir,” answered the Wogglebug, proudly. “Here it
is that we teach the youth of our great land scientific College
Athletics–in all their purity.”

“Don’t you teach them anything else?” asked Dorothy. “Don’t they get
any reading, writing and ‘rithmetic?”

“Oh, yes; of course. They get all those, and more,” returned the
Professor. “But such things occupy little of their time. Please
follow me and I will show you how my scholars are usually occupied.
This is a class hour and they are all busy.”

They followed him to a big field back of the college building, where
several hundred young Ozites were at their classes. In one place they
played football, in another baseball. Some played tennis, some golf;
some were swimming in a big pool. Upon a river which wound through
the grounds several crews in racing boats were rowing with great
enthusiasm. Other groups of students played basketball and cricket,
while in one place a ring was roped in to permit boxing and wrestling
by the energetic youths. All the collegians seemed busy and there
was much laughter and shouting.

“This college,” said Professor Wogglebug, complacently, “is a great
success. Its educational value is undisputed, and we are turning out
many great and valuable citizens every year.”

“But when do they study?” asked Dorothy.

“Study?” said the Wogglebug, looking perplexed at the question.

“Yes; when do they get their ‘rithmetic, and jogerfy, and such things?”

“Oh, they take doses of those every night and morning,” was the reply.

“What do you mean by doses?” Dorothy inquired, wonderingly.

“Why, we use the newly invented School Pills, made by your friend the
Wizard. These pills we have found to be very effective, and they save
a lot of time. Please step this way and I will show you our
Laboratory of Learning.”

He led them to a room in the building where many large bottles were
standing in rows upon shelves.

“These are the Algebra Pills,” said the Professor, taking down one of
the bottles. “One at night, on retiring, is equal to four hours of
study. Here are the Geography Pills–one at night and one in the
morning. In this next bottle are the Latin Pills–one three times a
day. Then we have the Grammar Pills–one before each meal–and the
Spelling Pills, which are taken whenever needed.”

“Your scholars must have to take a lot of pills,” remarked Dorothy,
thoughtfully. “How do they take ’em, in applesauce?”

“No, my dear. They are sugar-coated and are quickly and easily
swallowed. I believe the students would rather take the pills than
study, and certainly the pills are a more effective method. You see,
until these School Pills were invented we wasted a lot of time in
study that may now be better employed in practicing athletics.”

“Seems to me the pills are a good thing,” said Omby Amby,
who remembered how it used to make his head ache as a boy
to study arithmetic.

“They are, sir,” declared the Wogglebug, earnestly. “They give us an
advantage over all other colleges, because at no loss of time our boys
become thoroughly conversant with Greek and Latin, Mathematics and
Geography, Grammar and Literature. You see they are never obliged to
interrupt their games to acquire the lesser branches of learning.”

“It’s a great invention, I’m sure,” said Dorothy, looking admiringly
at the Wizard, who blushed modestly at this praise.

“We live in an age of progress,” announced Professor Wogglebug,
pompously. “It is easier to swallow knowledge than to acquire it
laboriously from books. Is it not so, my friends?”

“Some folks can swallow anything,” said Aunt Em, “but to me this seems
too much like taking medicine.”

“Young men in college always have to take their medicine, one way or
another,” observed the Wizard, with a smile; “and, as our Professor
says, these School Pills have proved to be a great success. One day
while I was making them I happened to drop one of them, and one of
Billina’s chickens gobbled it up. A few minutes afterward this chick
got upon a roost and recited ‘The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck’
without making a single mistake. Then it recited ‘The Charge of the
Light Brigade’ and afterwards ‘Excelsior.’ You see, the chicken had
eaten an Elocution Pill.”

They now bade good-bye to the Professor, and thanking him for his kind
reception mounted again into the red wagon and continued their journey.

 

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