FictionForest

Chapter 7 – The Troublesome Phonograph

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

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When the boy opened his eyes next morning he
looked carefully around the room. These small
Munchkin houses seldom had more than one room in
them. That in which Ojo now found himself had
three beds, set all in a row on one side of it.
The Glass Cat lay asleep on one bed, Ojo was in
the second, and the third was neatly made up and
smoothed for the day. On the other side of the
room was a round table on which breakfast was
already placed, smoking hot. Only one chair was
drawn up to the table, where a place was set for
one person. No one seemed to be in the room except
the boy and Bungle.

Ojo got up and put on his shoes. Finding a
toilet stand at the head of his bed he washed his
face and hands and brushed his hair. Then he
went to the table and said:

“I wonder if this is my breakfast?”

“Eat it!” commanded a Voice at his side, so
near that Ojo jumped; But no person could he
see.

He was hungry, and the breakfast looked
good; so he sat down and ate all he wanted.
Then, rising, he took his hat and wakened the
Glass Cat.

“Come on, Bungle,” said he; “we must go.

He cast another glance about the room and,
speaking to the air, he said: “Whoever lives here
has been kind to me, and I’m much obliged.”

There was no answer, so he took his basket
and went out the door, the cat following him.
In the middle of the path sat the Patchwork
Girl, playing with pebbles she had picked up.

“Oh, there you are!” she exclaimed cheerfully.
“I thought you were never coming out. It has been
daylight a long time.”

“What did you do all night?” asked the boy.

“Sat here and watched the stars and the
moon,” she replied. “They’re interesting. I never
saw them before, you know.”

“Of course not,” said Ojo.

“You were crazy to act so badly and get
thrown outdoors,” remarked Bungle, as they
renewed their journey.

“That’s all right,” said Scraps. “If I hadn’t
been thrown out I wouldn’t have seen the stars,
nor the big gray wolf.”

“What wolf?” inquired Ojo.

“The one that came to the door of the house
three times during the night.”

“I don’t see why that should be,” said the
boy, thoughtfully; “there was plenty to eat in
that house, for I had a fine breakfast, and I
slept in a nice bed.”

“Don’t you feel tired?” asked the Patchwork
Girl, noticing that the boy yawned.

“Why, yes; I’m as tired as I was last night;
and yet I slept very well.”

“And aren’t you hungry?”

“It’s strange,” replied Ojo. “I had a good
breakfast, and yet I think I’ll now eat some of
my crackers and cheese.”

Scraps danced up and down the path. Then
she sang:

“Kizzle-kazzle-kore;
The wolf is at the door,
There’s nothing to eat but a bone without meat,
And a bill from the grocery store.”

“What does that mean?” asked Ojo.

“Don’t ask me,” replied Scraps. “I say what
comes into my head, but of course I know nothing
of a grocery store or bones without meat or
very much else.”

“No,” said the cat; “she’s stark, staring,
raving crazy, and her brains can’t be pink, for
they don’t work properly.”

“Bother the brains!” cried Scraps. “Who cares
for ’em, anyhow? Have you noticed how beautiful my
patches are in this sunlight?”

Just then they heard a sound as of footsteps
pattering along the path behind them and all three
turned to see what was coming. To their
astonishment they beheld a small round table
running as fast as its four spindle legs could
carry it, and to the top was screwed fast a
phonograph with a big gold horn.

“Hold on!” shouted the phonograph. “Wait for
me!”

“Goodness me; it’s that music thing which the
Crooked Magician scattered the Powder of Life
over,” said Ojo.

“So it is,” returned Bungle, in a grumpy tone of
voice; and then, as the phonograph overtook them,
the Glass Cat added sternly: “What are you doing
here, anyhow?”

“I’ve run away,” said the music thing. “After
you left, old Dr. Pipt and I had a dreadful
quarrel and he threatened to smash me to pieces if
I didn’t keep quiet. Of course I wouldn’t do that,
because a talking-machine is supposed to talk and
make a noise–and sometimes music. So I slipped out
of the house while the Magician was stirring his
four kettles and I’ve been running after you all
night. Now that I’ve found such pleasant company,
I can talk and play tunes all I want to.”

Ojo was greatly annoyed by this unwelcome
addition to their party. At first he did not know
what to say to the newcomer, but a little thought
decided him not to make friends.

“We are traveling on important business,” he
declared, “and you’ll excuse me if I say we can’t
be bothered.”

“How very impolite!” exclaimed the phonograph.

“I’m sorry; but it’s true,” said the boy. “You’ll
have to go somewhere else.”

“This is very unkind treatment, I must say,
whined the phonograph, in an injured tone.
“Everyone seems to hate me, and yet I was intended
to amuse people.”

“It isn’t you we hate, especially,” observed
the Glass Cat; “it’s your dreadful music. When
I lived in the same room with you I was much
annoyed by your squeaky horn. It growls and
grumbles and clicks and scratches so it spoils
the music, and your machinery rumbles so that
the racket drowns every tune you attempt.”

“That isn’t my fault; it’s the fault of my
records. I must admit that I haven’t a clear
record,” answered the machine.

“Just the same, you’ll have to go away,” said
Ojo.

“Wait a minute,” cried Scraps. “This music
thing interests me. I remember to have heard
music when I first came to life, and I would like
to hear it again. What is your name, my poor
abused phonograph?”

“Victor Columbia Edison,” it answered.

“Well, I shall call you ‘Vic’ for short,” said
the Patchwork Girl. “Go ahead and play something.”

“It’ll drive you crazy,” warned the cat.

“I’m crazy now, according to your statement.
Loosen up and reel out the music, Vic.”

“The only record I have with me,” explained
the phonograph, “is one the Magician attached
just before we had our quarrel. It’s a highly
classical composition.”

“A what?” inquired Scraps.

“It is classical music, and is considered the
best and most puzzling ever manufactured.
You’re supposed to like it, whether you do or
not, and if you don’t, the proper thing is to look
as if you did. Understand?”

“Not in the least,” said Scraps.

“Then, listen!”

At once the machine began to play and in a
few minutes Ojo put his hands to his ears to
shut out the sounds and the cat snarled and
Scraps began to Jaugh.

“Cut it out, Vic,” she said. “That’s enough.”

But the phonograph continued playing the dreary
tune, so Ojo seized the crank, jerked it free and
threw it into the road. However, the moment the
crank struck the ground it hounded back to the
machine again and began winding it up. And still
the music played.

“Let’s run!” cried Scraps, and they all started
and ran down the path as fast as they could go.
But the phonograph was right behind them
and could run and play at the same time. It
called out, reproachfully:

“What’s the matter? Don’t you love classical
music?”

“No, Vic,” said Scraps, halting. “We will
passical the classical and preserve what joy we
have left. I haven’t any nerves, thank goodness,
but your music makes my cotton shrink.”

“Then turn over my record. There’s a rag-time
tune on the other side,” said the machine.

“What’s rag-time?”

“The opposite of classical.”

“All right,” said Scraps, and turned over the
record.

The phonograph now began to play a jerky jumble
of sounds which proved so bewildering that after a
moment Scraps stuffed her patchwork apron into the
gold horn and cried: “Stop–stop! That’s the other
extreme. It’s extremely bad!”

Muffled as it was, the phonograph played on.

“If you don’t shut off that music I’ll smash
your record,” threatened Ojo.

The music stopped, at that, and the machine
turned its horn from one to another and said
with great indignation: “What’s the matter
now? Is it possible you can’t appreciate rag-
time?”

“Scraps ought to, being rags herself,” said
the cat; “but I simply can’t stand it; it makes
my whiskers curl.”

“It is, indeed, dreadful!” exclaimed Ojo, with
a shudder.

“It’s enough to drive a crazy lady mad,”
murmured the Patchwork Girl. “I’ll tell you what,
Vic,” she added as she smoothed out her apron and
put it on again, “for some reason or other you’ve
missed your guess. You’re not a concert; you’re a
nuisance. ”

“Music hath charms to soothe the savage
breast,” asserted the phonograph sadly.

“Then we’re not savages. I advise you to go
home and beg the Magician’s pardon.”

“Never! He’d smash me.”

“That’s what we shall do, if you stay here,”
Ojo declared.

“Run along, Vic, and bother some one else,”
advised Scraps. “Find some one who is real
wicked, and stay with him till he repents. In
that way you can do some good in the world.”

The music thing turned silently away and
trotted down a side path, toward a distant
Munchkin village.

“Is that the way we go?” asked Bungle anxiously.

“No,” said Ojo; “I think we shall keep straight
ahead, for this path is the widest and best.
When we come to some house we will inquire
the way to the Emerald City.”

 

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