FictionForest

Chapter 2 – The Crooked Magician

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

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Just at dawn next morning Unc Nunkie laid his hand
tenderly on Ojo’s head and awakened him.

“Come,” he said.

Ojo dressed. He wore blue silk stockings, blue
knee pants with gold buckles, a blue ruffled
waist and a jacket of bright blue braided with
gold. His shoes were of blue leather and turned up
at the toes, which were pointed. His hat had a
peaked crown and a flat brim, and around the brim
was a row of tiny golden bells that tinkled when
he moved. This was the native costume of those
who inhabited the Munchkin Country of the Land of
Oz, so Unc Nunkie’s dress was much like that of
his nephew. Instead of shoes, the old man wore
boots with turnover tops and his blue coat had
wide cuffs of gold braid.

The boy noticed that his uncle had not eaten
the bread, and supposed the old man had not
been hungry. Ojo was hungry, though; so he
divided the piece of bread upon the table and
ate his half for breakfast, washing it down with
fresh, cool water from the brook. Unc put the
other piece of bread in his jacket pocket, after
which he again said, as he walked out through
the doorway: “Come.”

Ojo was well pleased. He was dreadfully
tired of living all alone in the woods and wanted
to travel and see people. For a long time he had
wished to explore the beautiful Land of Oz
in which they lived. When they were outside,
Unc simply latched the door and started up the
path. No one would disturb their little house,
even if anyone came so far into the thick forest
while they were gone.

At the foot of the mountain that separated the
Country of the Munchkins from the Country of the
Gillikins, the path divided. One way led to the
left and the other to the right–straight up the
mountain. Unc Nunkie took this right–hand path and
Ojo followed without asking why. He knew it would
take them to the house of the Crooked Magician,
whom he had never seen but who was their nearest
neighbor.

All the morning they trudged up the mountain path
and at noon Unc and Ojo sat on a fallen tree-trunk
and ate the last of the bread which the old
Munchkin had placed in his pocket. Then they
started on again and two hours later came in sight
of the house of Dr. Pipt.

It was a big house, round, as were all the
Munchkin houses, and painted blue, which is the
distinctive color of the Munchkin Country of Oz.
There was a pretty garden around the house, where
blue trees and blue flowers grew in abundance and
in one place were beds of blue cabbages, blue
carrots and blue lettuce, all of which were
delicious to eat. In Dr. Pipt’s garden grew bun-
trees, cake-trees, cream-puff bushes, blue
buttercups which yielded excellent blue butter and
a row of chocolate-caramel plants. Paths of blue
gravel divided the vegetable and flower beds and a
wider path led up to the front door. The place was
in a clearing on the mountain, but a little way
off was the grim forest, which completely
surrounded it.

Unc knocked at the door of the house and
a chubby, pleasant-faced woman, dressed all in
blue, opened it and greeted the visitors with a
smile.

“Ah,” said Ojo; “you must be Dame Margolotte,
the good wife of Dr. Pipt.”

“I am, my dear, and all strangers are welcome
to my home.”

“May we see the famous Magician, Madam?”

“He is very busy just now,” she said, shaking
her head doubtfully. “But come in and let me
give you something to eat, for you must have
traveled far in order to get our lonely place.”

“We have,” replied Ojo, as he and Unc entered
the house. “We have come from a far lonelier place
than this.”

“A lonelier place! And in the Munchkin Country?”
she exclaimed. “Then it must be somewhere in the
Blue Forest.”

“It is, good Dame Margolotte.”

“Dear me!” she said, looking at the man, “you
must be Unc Nunkie, known as the Silent One.” Then
she looked at the boy. “And you must be Ojo the
Unlucky,” she added.

“Yes,” said Unc.

“I never knew I was called the Unlucky,”
said Ojo, soberly; “but it is really a good name
for me.”

“Well,” remarked the woman, as she bustled
around the room and set the table and brought food
from the cupboard, “you were unlucky to live all
alone in that dismal forest, which is much worse
than the forest around here; but perhaps your luck
will change, now you are away from it. If, during
your travels, you can manage to lose that ‘Un’ at
the beginning of your name Unlucky,’ you will
then become Ojo the Lucky, which will be a great
improvement.”

“How can I lose that ‘Un,’ Dame Margolotte?”

“I do not know how, but you must keep the
matter in mind and perhaps the chance will
come to you,” she replied.

Ojo had never eaten such a fine meal in all
his life. There was a savory stew, smoking hot,
a dish of blue peas, a bowl of sweet milk of a
delicate blue tint and a blue pudding with blue
plums in it. When the visitors had eaten heartily
of this fare the woman said to them:

“Do you wish to see Dr. Pipt on business or
for pleasure?”

Unc shook his head.

“We are traveling,” replied Ojo, “and we
stopped at your house just to rest and refresh
ourselves. I do not think Unc Nunkie cares
very much to see the famous Crooked Magician;
but for my part I am curious to look at such
a great man.

The woman seemed thoughtful.

“I remember that Unc Nunkie and my husband used
to be friends, many years ago,” she said, “so
perhaps they will be glad to meet again. The
Magician is very busy, as I said, but if you will
promise not to disturb him you may come into his
workshop and watch him prepare a wonderful charm.”

“Thank you,” replied the boy, much pleased.
“I would like to do that.”

She led the way to a great domed hall at the
back of the house, which was the Magician’s
workshop. There was a row of windows extending
nearly around the sides of the circular room,
which rendered the place very light, and there was
a back door in addition to the one leading to the
front part of the house. Before the row of windows
a broad seat was built and there were some chairs
and benches in the room besides. At one end stood
a great fireplace, in which a blue log was blazing
with a blue flame, and over the fire hung four
kettles in a row, all bubbling and steaming at a
great rate. The Magician was stirring all four of
these kettles at the same time, two with his
hands and two with his feet, to the latter, wooden
ladles being strapped, for this man was so very
crooked that his legs were as handy as his arms.

Unc Nunkie came forward to greet his old
friend, but not being able to shake either his
hands or his feet, which were all occupied in
stirring, he patted the Magician’s bald head and
asked: “What?”

“Ah, it’s the Silent One,” remarked Dr. Pipt,
without looking up, “and he wants to know
what I’m making. Well, when it is quite finished
this compound will be the wonderful Powder
of Life, which no one knows how to make but
myself. Whenever it is sprinkled on anything,
that thing will at once come to life, no matter
what it is. It takes me several years to make this
magic Powder, but at this moment I am pleased
to say it is nearly done. You see, I am making it
for my good wife Margolotte, who wants to use
some of it for a purpose of her own. Sit down
and make yourself comfortable, Unc Nunkie,
and after I’ve finished my task I will talk to
you.

“You must know,” said Margolottte, when they
were all seated together on the broad window-seat,
“that my husband foolishly gave away all the
Powder of Life he first made to old Mombi the
Witch, who used to live in the Country of the
Gillikins, to the north of here. Mombi gave to Dr.
Pipt a Powder of Perpetual Youth in exchange for
his Powder of Life, but she cheated him wickedly,
for the Powder of Youth was no good and could work
no magic at all.”

“Perhaps the Powder of Life couldn’t either,”
said Ojo.

“Yes; it is perfection,” she declared. “The first
lot we tested on our Glass Cat, which not only
began to live but has lived ever since. She’s
somewhere around the house now.”

“A Glass Cat!” exclaimed Ojo, astonished.

“Yes; she makes a very pleasant companion, but
admires herself a little more than is considered
modest, and she positively refuses to catch mice,”
explained Margolotte. “My husband made the cat
some pink brains, but they proved to be too high-
bred and particular for a cat, so she thinks it is
undignified in her to catch mice. Also she has a
pretty blood-red heart, but it is made of stone–a
ruby, I think–and so is rather hard and unfeeling.
I think the next Class Cat the Magician makes will
have neither brains nor heart, for then it will
not object to catching mice and may prove of some
use to us.”

“What did old Mombi the Witch do with the
Powder of Life your husband gave her?” asked
the boy.

“She brought Jack Pumpkinhead to life, for
one thing,” was the reply. “I suppose you’ve
heard of jack Pumpkinhead. He is now living
near the Emerald City and is a great favorite
with the Princess Ozma, who rules all the Land
of Oz.”

“No; I’ve never heard of him,” remarked
Ojo. “I’m afraid I don’t know much about the
Land of Oz. You see, I’ve lived all my life with
Unc Nunkie, the Silent One, and there was no
one to tell me anything.”

“That is one reason you are Ojo the Unlucky,”
said the woman, in a sympathetic tone. “The more
one knows, the luckier he is, for knowledge is the
greatest gift in life.”

“But tell me, please, what you intend to do
With this new lot of the Powder of Life, which
Dr. Pipt is making. He said his wife wanted it
for some especial purpose.

“So I do,” she answered. “I want it to bring
my Patchwork Girl to life.”

“Oh! A Patchwork Girl? What is that?” Ojo
asked, for this seemed even more strange and
unusual than a Glass Cat.

“I think I must show you my Patchwork
Girl,” said Margolotte, laughing at the boy’s
astonishment, “for she is rather difficult to
explain. But first I will tell you that for many
years I have longed for a servant to help me with
the housework and to cook the meals and wash the
dishes. No servant will come here because the
place is so lonely and out-of-the-way, so my
clever husband, the Crooked Magician, proposed
that I make a girl out of some sort of material
and he would make her live by sprinkling over her
the Powder of Life. This seemed an excellent
suggestion and at once Dr. Pipt set to work to
make a new batch of his magic powder. He has been
at it a long, long while, and so I have had plenty
of time to make the girl. Yet that task was not so
easy as you may suppose. At first I couldn’t think
what to make her of, but finally in searching
through a chest I came across an old patchwork
quilt, which my grandmother once made when she was
young.

“What is a patchwork quilt?” asked Ojo.

“A bed-quilt made of patches of different kinds
and colors of cloth, all neatly sewed together.
The patches are of all shapes and sizes, so a
patchwork quilt is a very pretty and gorgeous
thing to look at. Sometimes it is called a
‘crazyquilt,’ because the patches and colors are
so mixed up. We never have used my grand-mother’s
manycolored patchwork quilt, hand-some as it is,
for we Munchkins do not care for any color other
than blue, so it has been packed away in the chest
for about a hundred years. When I found it, I said
to myself that it would do nicely for my servant
girl, for when she was brought to life she would
not be proud nor haughty, as the Glass Cat is, for
such a dreadful mixture of colors would discourage
her from trying to, be as dignified as the blue
Munchkins are.

“Is blue the only respectable color, then?”
inquired Ojo.

“Yes, for a Munchkin. All our country is blue,
you know. But in other parts of Oz the people
favor different colors. At the Emerald City,
where our Princess Ozma lives, green is the
popular color. But all Munchkins prefer blue
to anything else and when my housework girl
is brought to life she will find herself to be of
so many unpopular colors that she’ll never dare
be rebellious or impudent, as servants are
sometimes liable to be when they are made the same
way their mistresses are.”

Unc Nunkie nodded approval.

“Good idea,” he said; and that was a long
speech for Unc Nunkie because it was two
words.

“So I cut up the quilt,” continued Margolotte,
“and made from it a very well-shaped girl,
which I stuffed with cotton-wadding. I will
show you what a good job I did,” and she went
to a tall cupboard and threw open the doors.

Then back she came, lugging in her arms the
Patchwork Girl, which she set upon the bench
and propped up so that the figure would not
tumble over.

 

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