FictionForest

Chapter 18 – Ojo is Forgiven

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

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The next morning the Soldier with the Green
Whiskers went to the prison and took Ojo away to
the royal palace, where he was summoned to appear
before the girl Ruler for judgment. Again the
soldier put upon the boy the jeweled handcuffs and
white prisoner’s robe with the peaked top and
holes for the eyes. Ojo was so ashamed, both of
his disgrace and the fault he had committed, that
he was glad to be covered up in this way, so that
people could not see him or know who he was. He
followed the Soldier with the Green Whiskers very
willingly, anxious that his fate might be decided
as soon as possible.

The inhabitants of the Emerald City were polite
people and never jeered at the unfortunate; but it
was so long since they bad seen a prisoner that
they cast many curious looks toward the boy and
many of them hurried away to the royal palace to
be present during the trial.

When Ojo was escorted into the great Throne
Room of the palace he found hundreds of people
assembled there. In the magnificent emerald
throne, which sparkled with countless jewels, sat
Ozma of Oz in her Robe of State, which was
embroidered with emeralds and pearls. On her
right, but a little lower, was Dorothy, and on her
left the Scarecrow. Still lower, but nearly in
front of Ozma, sat the wonderful Wizard of Oz and
on a small table beside him was the golden vase
from Dorothy’s room, into which Scraps had dropped
the stolen clover.

At Ozma’s feet crouched two enormous beasts,
each the largest and most powerful of its kind.
Although these beasts were quite free, no one
present was alarmed by them; for the Cowardly Lion
and the Hungry Tiger were well known and respected
in the Emerald City and they always guarded the
Ruler when she held high court in the Throne Room.
There was still another beast present, but this
one Dorothy held in her arms, for it was her
constant companion, the little dog Toto. Toto knew
the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger and often
played and romped with them, for they were good
friends.

Seated on ivory chairs before Ozma, with a clear
space between them and the throne, were many of
the nobility of the Emerald City, lords and ladies
in beautiful costumes, and officials of the
kingdom in the royal uniforms of Oz. Behind these
courtiers were others of less importance, filling
the great hall to the very doors.

At the same moment that the Soldier with the
Green Whiskers arrived with Ojo, the Shaggy Man
entered from a side door, escorting the Patchwork
Girl, the Woozy and the Glass Cat. All these came
to the vacant space before the throne and stood
facing the Ruler.

“Hullo, Ojo,” said Scraps; “how are you?”

“All right,” he replied; but the scene awed the
boy and his voice trembled a little with fear.
Nothing could awe the Patchwork Girl, and although
the Woozy was somewhat uneasy in these splendid
surroundings the Glass Cat was delighted with the
sumptuousness of the court and the impressiveness
of the occasion–pretty big words but quite
expressive.

At a sign from Ozma the soldier removed Ojo’s
white robe and the boy stood face to face with the
girl who was to decide his punishment. He saw at a
glance how lovely and sweet she was, and his heart
gave a bound of joy, for he hoped she would be
merciful.

Ozma sat looking at the prisoner a long time.
Then she said gently:

“One of the Laws of Oz forbids anyone to
pick a six-leaved clover. You are accused of
having broken this Law, even after you had
been warned not to do so.

Ojo hung his head and while he hesitated how to
reply the Patchwork Girl stepped forward and spoke
for him.

“All this fuss is about nothing at all,” she
said, facing Ozma unabashed. “You can’t prove he
picked the six-leaved clover, so you’ve no right
to accuse him of it. Search him, if you like, but
you won’t find the clover; look in his basket and
you’ll find it’s not there. He hasn’t got it, so I
demand that you set this poor Munchkin boy free.”

The people of Oz listened to this defiance in
amazement and wondered at the queer Patchwork Girl
who dared talk so boldly to their Ruler. But Ozma
sat silent and motionless and it was the little
Wizard who answered Scraps.

“So the clover hasn’t been picked, eh?” he said.
“I think it has. I think the boy hid it in his
basket, and then gave the basket to you. I also
think you dropped the clover into this vase, which
stood in Princess Dorothy’s room, hoping to get
rid of it so it would not prove the boy guilty.
You’re a stranger here, Miss Patches, and so you
don’t know that nothing can be hidden from our
powerful Ruler’s Magic Picture–nor from the
watchful eyes of the humble Wizard of Oz. Look,
all of you!” With these words he waved his hands
toward the vase on the table, which Scraps now
noticed for the first time.

From the mouth of the vase a plant sprouted,
slowly growing before their eyes until it became a
beautiful bush, and on the topmost branch appeared
the six-leaved clover which Ojo had unfortunately
picked.

The Patchwork Girl looked at the clover and
said: “Oh, so you’ve found it. Very well; prove
he picked it, if you can.”

Ozma turned to Ojo.

“Did you pick the six-leaved clover?” she asked.

“Yes,” he replied. “I knew it was against the
Law, but I wanted to save Unc Nunkie and I was
afraid if I asked your consent to pick it you
would refuse me.”

“What caused you to think that?” asked the
Ruler.

“Why, it seemed to me a foolish law, unjust and
unreasonable. Even now I can see no harm in
picking a six-leaved clover. And I–I had not seen
the Emerald City, then, nor you, and I thought a
girl who would make such a silly Law would not be
likely to help anyone in trouble.”

Ozma regarded him musingly, her chin resting
upon her hand; but she was not angry. On the
contrary she smiled a little at her thoughts and
then grew sober again.

“I suppose a good many laws seem foolish to
those people who do not understand them,” she
said; “but no law is ever made without some
purpose, and that purpose is usually to protect
all the people and guard their welfare. As you are
a stranger, I will explain this Law which to you
seems so foolish. Years ago there were many
Witches and Magicians in the Land of Oz, and one
of the things they often used in making their
magic charms and transformations was a six-leaved
clover. These Witches and Magicians caused so much
trouble among my people, often using their powers
for evil rather than good, that I decided to
forbid anyone to practice magic or sorcery except
Glinda the Good and her assistant, the Wizard of
Oz, both of whom I can trust to use their arts
only to benefit my people and to make them
happier. Since I issued that Law the Land of Oz
has been far more peaceful and quiet; but I
learned that some of the Witches and Magicians
were still practicing magic on the sly and using
the six-leaved clovers to make their potions and
charms. Therefore I made another Law forbidding
anyone from plucking a six-leaved clover or from
gathering other plants and herbs which the Witches
boil in their kettles to work magic with. That has
almost put an end to wicked sorcery in our land,
so you see the Law was not a foolish one, but wise
and just; and, in any event, it is wrong to
disobey a Law.”

Ojo knew she was right and felt greatly
mortified to realize he had acted and spoken so
ridiculously. But he raised his head and looked
Ozma in the face, saying:

“I am sorry I have acted wrongly and broken
your Law. I did it to save Unc Nunkie, and
thought I would not be found out. But I am
guilty of this act and whatever punishment you
think I deserve I will suffer willingly.”

Ozma smiled more brightly, then, and nodded
graciously.

“You are forgiven,” she said. “For, although
you have committed a serious fault, you are now
penitent and I think you have been punished
enough. Soldier, release Ojo the Lucky and–”

“I beg your pardon; I’m Ojo the Unlucky,”
said the boy.

“At this moment you are lucky,” said she.
“Release him, Soldier, and let him go free.”

The people were glad to hear Ozma’s decree and
murmured their approval. As the royal audience was
now over, they began to leave the Throne Room and
soon there were none remaining except Ojo and his
friends and Ozma and her favorites.

The girl Ruler now asked Ojo to sit down and
tell her all his story, which he did, beginning
at the time he had left his home in the forest
and ending with his arrival at the Emerald City
and his arrest. Ozma listened attentively and
was thoughtful for some moments after the boy
had finished speaking. Then she said:

“The Crooked Magician was wrong to make the
Glass Cat and the Patchwork Girl, for it was
against the Law. And if he had not unlawfully kept
the bottle of Liquid of Petrifaction standing on
his shelf, the accident to his wife Margolotte and
to Unc Nunkie could not have occurred. I can
understand, however, that Ojo, who loves his
uncle, will be unhappy unless he can save him.
Also I feel it is wrong to leave those two victims
standing as marble statues, when they ought to be
alive. So I propose we allow Dr. Pipt to make the
magic charm which will save them, and that we
assist Ojo to find the things he is seeking. What
do you think, Wizard?”

“That is perhaps the best thing to do,” replied
the Wizard. “But after the Crooked Magician
has restored those poor people to life you must
take away his magic powers.”

“I will,” promised Ozma.

“Now tell me, please, what magic things must you
find?” continued the Wizard, addressing Ojo.

“The three hairs from the Woozy’s tail I
have,” said the boy. “That is, I have the Woozy,
and the hairs are in his tail. The six-leaved
clover I–I–”

“You may take it and keep it,” said Ozma. “That
will not be breaking the Law, for it is already
picked, and the crime of picking it is forgiven.”

“Thank you!” cried Ojo gratefully. Then he
continued: “The next thing, I must find is a gill
of water from a dark well.’

The Wizard shook his head. “That,” said he,
“will be a hard task, but if you travel far enough
you may discover it.”

“I am willing to travel for years, if it will
save Unc Nunkie,” declared Ojo, earnestly.

“Then you’d better begin your journey at
once,” advised the Wizard.

Dorothy bad been listening with interest to
this conversation. Now she turned to Ozma and
asked: “May I go with Ojo, to help him?”

“Would you like to?” returned Ozma.

“Yes. I know Oz pretty well, but Ojo doesn’t
know it at all. I’m sorry for his uncle and poor
Margolotte and I’d like to help save them. May
I go?”

“If you wish to,” replied Ozma.

“If Dorothy goes, then I must go to take care of
her,” said the Scarecrow, decidedly. “A dark well
can only be discovered in some out-of-the-way
place, and there may be dangers there.”

“You have my permission to accompany Dorothy,”
said Ozma. “And while you are gone I will take
care of the Patchwork Girl.”

“I’ll take care of myself,” announced Scraps,
“for I’m going with the Scarecrow and Dorothy.
I promised Ojo to help him find the things he
wants and I’ll stick to my promise.”

“Very well,” replied Ozma. “But I see no need
for Ojo to take the Glass Cat and the Woozy.”

“I prefer to remain here,” said the cat. “I’ve
nearly been nicked half a dozen times, already,
and if they’re going into dangers it’s best for me
to keep away from them.”

“Let Jellia Jamb keep her till Ojo returns,”
suggested Dorothy. “We won’t need to take the
Woozy, either, but he ought to be saved because
of the three hairs in his tail.”

“Better take me along,” said the Woozy. “My eyes
can flash fire, you know, and I can growl–a
little.”

“I’m sure you’ll be safer here,” Ozma decided,
and the Woozy made no further objection to the
plan.

After consulting together they decided that Ojo
and his party should leave the very next day to
search for the gill of water from a dark well, so
they now separated to make preparations for the
journey.

Ozma gave the Munchkin boy a room in the palace
for that night and the afternoon he passed with
Dorothy–getting acquainted, as she said–and
receiving advice from the Shaggy Man as to where
they must go. The Shaggy Man had wandered in many
parts of Oz, and so had Dorothy, for that matter,
yet neither of them knew where a dark well was to
be found.

“If such a thing is anywhere in the settled
parts of Oz,” said Dorothy, “we’d prob’ly have
heard of it long ago. If it’s in the wild parts of
the country, no one there would need a dark
well. P’raps there isn’t such a thing.”

“Oh, there must he!” returned Ojo, positively;
“or else the recipe of Dr. Pipt wouldn’t call
for it.”

“That’s true,” agreed Dorothy; “and, if it’s
anywhere in the Land of Oz, we’re bound to find
it.”

“Well, we’re bound to search for it, anyhow,”
said the Scarecrow. “As for finding it, we must
trust to luck.”

“Don’t do that,” begged Ojo, earnestly. “I’m
called Ojo the Unlucky, you know.”

 

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