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Chapter 3 – The Patchwork Girl

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

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Ojo examined this curious contrivance with wonder.
The Patchwork Girl was taller than he, when she
stood upright, and her body was plump and rounded
because it had been so neatly stuffed with cotton.
Margolotte had first made the girl’s form from the
patchwork quilt and then she had dressed it with a
patchwork skirt and an apron with pockets in it–
using the same gay material throughout. Upon the
feet she had sewn a pair of red leather shoes with
pointed toes. All the fingers and thumbs of the
girl’s hands had been carefully formed and stuffed
and stitched at the edges, with gold plates at the
ends to serve as finger-nails.

“She will have to work, when she comes to
life,” said Marglotte.

The head of the Patchwork Girl was the most
curious part of her. While she waited for her
husband to finish making his Powder of Life the
woman had found ample time to complete the head as
her fancy dictated, and she realized that a good
servant’s head must be properly constructed. The
hair was of brown yarn and hung down on her neck
in several neat braids. Her eyes were two silver
suspender-buttons cut from a pair of the
Magician’s old trousers, and they were sewed on
with black threads, which formed the pupils of the
eyes. Margolotte had puzzled over the ears for
some time, for these were important if the servant
was to hear distinctly, but finally she had made
them out of thin plates of gold and attached them
in place by means of stitches through tiny holes
bored in the metal. Gold is the most common metal
in the Land of Oz and is used for many purposes
because it is soft and pliable.

The woman had cut a slit for the Patchwork
Girl’s mouth and sewn two rows of white pearls
in it for teeth, using a strip of scarlet plush for
a tongue. This mouth Ojo considered very artistic
and lifelike, and Margolotte was pleased when the
boy praised it. There were almost too many patches
on the face of the girl for her to be considered
strictly beautiful, for one cheek was yellow and
the other red, her chin blue, her forehead purple
and the center, where her nose had been formed and
padded, a bright yellow.

“You ought to have had her face all pink,”
suggested the boy.

“I suppose so; but I had no pink cloth,” replied
the woman. “Still, I cannot see as it matters
much, for I wish my Patchwork Girl to be useful
rather than ornamental. If I get tired looking at
her patched face I can whitewash it.”

“Has she any brains?” asked Ojo.

“No; I forgot all about the brains!” exclaimed
the woman. “I am glad you reminded me of
them, for it is not too late to supply them, by
any means. Until she is brought to life I can
do anything I please with this girl. But I must
be careful not to give her too much brains, and
those she has must be such as are fitted to the
station she is to occupy in life. In other words,
her brains mustn’t be very good.”

“Wrong,” said Unc Nunkie.

“No; I am sure I am right about that,” returned
the woman.

“He means,” explained Ojo, “that unless your
servant has good brains she won’t know how to obey
you properly, nor do the things you ask her to
do.”

“Well, that may be true,” agreed Margolotte;
“but, on the contrary, a servant with too much
brains is sure to become independent and high-
and-mighty and feel above her work. This is a
very delicate task, as I said, and I must take
care to give the girl just the right quantity of
the right sort of brains. I want her to know just
enough, but not too much.”

With this she went to another cupboard which was
filled With shelves. All the shelves were lined
With blue glass bottles, neatly labeled by the
Magician to show what they contained. One whole
shelf was marked: “Brain Furniture,” and the
bottles on this shelf were labeled as follows:
“Obedience,” “Cleverness,” “Judgment,” “Courage,”
“Ingenuity,” “Amiability,” “Learning,” “Truth,”
“Poesy,” “Self Reliance.”

“Let me see,” said Margolotte; “of those
qualities she must have ‘Obedience’ first of all,”
and she took down the bottle bearing that label
and poured from it upon a dish several grains of
the contents. “‘Amiability’ is also good and
‘Truth.'” She poured into the dish a quantity from
each of these bottles. “I think that will do,” she
continued, “for the other qualities are not needed
in a servant.”

Unc Nunkie, who with Ojo stood beside her,
touched the bottle marked “Cleverness.”

“Little,” said he.

“A little ‘Cleverness’? Well, perhaps you are
right, sir,” said she, and was about to take down
the bottle when the Crooked Magician suddenly
called to her excitedly from the fireplace.

“Quick, Margolotte! Come and help me.”

She ran to her husband’s side at once and
helped him lift the four kettles from the fire.
Their contents had all boiled away, leaving in
the bottom of each kettle a few grains of fine
white powder. Very carefully the Magician removed
this powder, placing it all together in a golden
dish, where he mixed it with a golden spoon. When
the mixture was complete there was scarcely a
handful, all told.

“That,” said Dr. Pipt, in a pleased and
triumphant tone, “is the wonderful Powder of Life,
which I alone in the world know how to make. It
has taken me nearly six years to prepare these
precious grains of dust, but the little heap on
that dish is worth the price of a kingdom and many
a king would give all he has to possess it. When
it has become cooled I will place it in a small
bottle; but meantime I must watch it carefully,
lest a gust of wind blow it away or scatter it.’

Unc Nunkie, Margolotte and the Magician
all stood looking at the marvelous Powder, but
Ojo was more interested just then in the Patchwork
Girl’s brains. Thinking it both unfair and unkind
to deprive her of any good qualities that were
handy, the boy took down every bottle on the shelf
and poured some of the contents in Margolotte’s
dish. No one saw him do this, for all were looking
at the Powder of Life; but soon the woman
remembered what she had been doing, and came back
to the cupboard.

“Let’s see,” she remarked; “I was about to give
my girl a little ‘Cleverness,’ which is the
Doctor’s substitute for ‘Intelligence’–a quality
he has not yet learned how to manufacture.” Taking
down the bottle of “Cleverness” she added some of
the powder to the heap on the dish. Ojo became a
bit uneasy at this, for he had already put quite
a lot of the “Cleverness” powder in the dish; but
he dared not interfere and so he comforted himself
with the thought that one cannot have too much
cleverness.

Margolotte now carried the dish of brains to
the bench. Ripping the seam of the patch on
the girl’s forehead, she placed the powder within
the head and then sewed up the seam as neatly
and securely as before.

“My girl is all ready for your Powder of Life,
my dear,” she said to her husband. But the
Magician replied:

“This powder must not be used before tomorrow
morning; but I think it is now cool enough to be
bottled.”

He selected a small gold bottle with a pepper-
box top, so that the powder might be sprinkled on
any object through the small holes. Very carefully
he placed the Powder of Life in the gold bottle
and then locked it up in a drawer of his cabinet.

“At last,” said he, rubbing his hands together
gleefully, “I have ample leisure for a good talk
with my old friend Unc Nunkie. So let us sit
down cosily and enjoy ourselves. After stirring
those four kettles for six years I am glad to
have a little rest.”

“You will have to do most of the talking,”
said Ojo, “for Unc is called the Silent One and
uses few words.”

“I know; but that renders your uncle a
most agreeable companion and gossip,” declared
Dr. Pipt. “Most people talk too much, so it is
a relief to find one who talks too little.”

Ojo looked at the Magician with much awe
and curiosity.

“Don’t you find it very annoying to be so
crooked?” he asked.

“No; I am quite proud of my person,” was
the reply. “I suppose I am the only Crooked
Magician in all the world. Some others are accused
of being crooked, but I am the only genuine.”

He was really very crooked and Ojo wondered how
he managed to do so many things with such a
twisted body. When he sat down upon a crooked
chair that had been made to fit him, one knee was
under his chin and the other near the small of his
back; but he was a cheerful man and his face bore
a pleasant and agreeable expression.

“I am not allowed to perform magic, except
for my own amusement,” he told his visitors,
as he lighted a pipe with a crooked stem and
began to smoke. “Too many people were working
magic in the Land of Oz, and so our lovely
Princess Ozma put a stop to it. I think she was
quite right. There were several wicked Witches who
caused a lot of trouble; but now they are all out
of business and only the great Sorceress, Glinda
the Good, is permitted to practice her arts, which
never harm anybody. The Wizard of Oz, who used to
be a humbug and knew no magic at all, has been
taking lessons of Glinda, and I’m told he is
getting to be a pretty good Wizard; but he is
merely the assistant of the great Sorceress. I’ve
the right to make a servant girl for my wife, you
know, or a Glass Cat to catch our mice–which she
refuses to do–but I am forbidden to work magic for
others, or to use it as a profession.”

“Magic must be a very interesting study,”
said Ojo.

“It truly is,” asserted the Magician. “In my
time I’ve performed some magical feats that were
worthy of the skill of Glinda the Good. For
instance, there’s the Powder of Life, and my
Liquid of Petrifaction, which is contained in that
bottle on the shelf yonder-over the window.”

“What does the Liquid of Petrifaction do?”
inquired the boy.

“Turns everything it touches to solid marble.
It’s an invention of my own, and I find it very
useful. Once two of those dreadful Kalidahs,
with bodies like bears and heads like tigers,
came here from the forest to attack us; but I
sprinkled some of that Liquid on them and
instantly they turned to marble. I now use them
as ornamental statuary in my garden. This table
looks to you like wood, and once it really was
wood; but I sprinkled a few drops of the Liquid
of Petrifaction on it and now it is marble. It
will never break nor wear out.

“Fine!” said Unc Nunkie, wagging his head
and stroking his long gray beard.

“Dear me; what a chatterbox you’re getting
to be, Unc,” remarked the Magician, who was
pleased with the compliment. But just then
there came a scratching at the back door and a
shrill voice cried:

“Let me in! Hurry up, can’t you? Let me in!”

Margolotte got up and went to the door.

“Ask like a good cat, then,” she said.

“Meeee-ow-w-w! There; does that suit your
royal highness?” asked the voice, in scornful
accents.

“Yes; that’s proper cat talk,” declared the
woman, and opened the door. At once a cat entered,
came to the center of the room and stopped short
at the sight of strangers. Ojo and Unc Nunkie both
stared at it with wide open eyes, for surely no
such curious creature had ever existed before–
even in the Land of Oz.

 

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