FictionForest

Chapter 19 – Trouble with the Tottenhots

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

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A day’s journey from the Emerald City brought the
little band of adventurers to the home of Jack
Pumpkinhead, which was a house formed from the
shell of an immense pumpkin. Jack had made it
himself and was very proud of it. There was a
door, and several windows, and through the top was
stuck a stovepipe that led from a small stove
inside. The door was reached by a flight of three
steps and there was a good floor on which was
arranged some furniture that was quite
comfortable.

It is certain that Jack Pumpkinhead might
have had a much finer house to live in bad he
wanted it, for Ozma loved the stupid fellow,
who had been her earliest companion; but Jack
preferred his pumpkin house, as it matched
himself very well, and in this he was not so
stupid, after all.

The body of this remarkable person was made of
wood, branches of trees of various sizes having
been used for the purpose. This wooden framework
was covered by a red shirt–with white spots in
it–blue trousers, a yellow vest, a jacket of
green-and-gold and stout leather shoes. The neck
was a sharpened stick on which the pumpkin head
was set, and the eyes, ears, nose and mouth were
carved on the skin of the pumpkin, very like a
child’s jack-o’-lantern.

The house of this interesting creation stood
in the center of a vast pumpkin-field, where the
vines grew in profusion and bore pumpkins of
extraordinary size as well as those which were
smaller. Some of the pumpkins now ripening
on the vines were almost as large as Jack’s house,
and he told Dorothy he intended to add another
pumpkin to his mansion.

The travelers were cordially welcomed to this
quaint domicile and invited to pass the night
there, which they had planned to do. The
Patchwork Girl was greatly interested in Jack
and examined him admiringly.

“You are quite handsome,” she said; “but not
as really beautiful as the Scarecrow.”

Jack turned, at this, to examine the Scarecrow
critically, and his old friend slyly winked one
painted eye at him.

“There is no accounting for tastes,” remarked
the Pumpkinhead, with a sigh. “An old crow
once told me I was very fascinating, but of
course the bird might have been mistaken. Yet
I have noticed that the crows usually avoid the
Scarecrow, who is a very honest fellow, in his
way, but stuffed. I am not stuffed, you will
observe; my body is good solid hickory.”

“I adore stuffing,” said the Patchwork Girl.

“Well, as for that, my head is stuffed with
pumpkin-seeds,” declared Jack. “I use them for
brains, and when they are fresh I am intellectual.
Just now, I regret to say, my seeds are rattling a
bit, so I must soon get another head.”

“Oh; do you change your head?” asked Ojo.

“To be sure. Pumpkins are not permanent, more’s
the pity, and in time they spoil. That is why I
grow such a great field of pumpkins–that I may
select a new head whenever necessary.”

“Who carves the faces on them?” inquired the
boy.

“I do that myself. I lift off my old head, place
it on a table before me, and use the face for a
pattern to go by. Sometimes the faces I carve are
better than others–more expressive and cheerful,
you know–but I think they average very well.”

Before she had started on the journey Dorothy
had packed a knapsack with the things she might
need, and this knapsack the Scarecrow carried
strapped to his back. The little girl wore a plain
gingham dress and a checked sunbonnet, as she knew
they were best fitted for travel. Ojo also had
brought along his basket, to which Ozma had added
a bottle of “Square Meal Tablets” and some fruit.
But Jack Pumpkinhead grew a lot of things in his
garden besides pumpkins, so he cooked for them a
fine vegetable soup and gave Dorothy, Ojo and
Toto, the only ones who found it necessary to eat,
a pumpkin pie and some green cheese. For beds they
must use the sweet dried grasses which Jack had
strewn along one side of the room, but that
satisfied Dorothy and Ojo very well. Toto, of
course, slept beside his little mistress.

The Scarecrow, Scraps and the Pumpkinhead
were tireless and had no need to sleep, so they
sat up and talked together all night; but they
stayed outside the house, under the bright stars,
and talked in low tones so as not to disturb the
sleepers. During the conversation the Scarecrow
explained their quest for a dark well, and asked
Jack’s advice where to find it.

The Pumpkinhead considered the matter gravely.

“That is going to be a difficult task,” said he,
“and if I were you I’d take any ordinary well
and enclose it, so as to make it dark.”

“I fear that wouldn’t do,” replied the
Scarecrow. “The well must be naturally dark, and
the water must never have seen the light of day,
for otherwise the magic charm might not work at
all.”

“How much of the water do you need?” asked Jack.

“A gill.”

“How much is a gill?”

“Why–a gill is a gill, of course,” answered
the Scarecrow, who did not wish to display his
ignorance.

“I know!” cried Scraps. “Jack and Jill went up
the hill to fetch–”

“No, no; that’s wrong,” interrupted the
Scarecrow. “There are two kinds of gills, I think;
one is a girl, and the other is–”

“A gillyflower,” said Jack.

“No; a measure.”

“How big a measure?”

“Well, I’ll ask Dorothy.”

So next morning they asked Dorothy, and she
said:

“I don’t just know how much a gill is, but I’ve
brought along a gold flask that holds a pint.
That’s more than a gill, I’m sure, and the Crooked
Magician may measure it to suit himself. But the
thing that’s bothering us most, Jack, is to find
the well.”

Jack gazed around the landscape, for he was
standing in the doorway of his house.

“This is a flat country, so you won t find any
dark wells here,” said he. “You must go into the
mountains, where rocks and caverns are.

“And where is that?” asked Ojo.

“In the Quadling Country, which lies south
of here,” replied the Scarecrow. “I’ve known all
along that we must go to the mountains.”

“So have I,” said Dorothy.

“But–goodness me!–the Quadling Country is full
of dangers,” declared Jack. “I’ve never been there
myself, but–”

“I have,” said the Scarecrow. “I’ve faced the
dreadful Hammerheads, which have no arms and butt
you like a goat; and I’ve faced the Fighting
Trees, which bend down their branches to pound and
whip you, and had many other adventures there.”

“It’s a wild country,” remarked Dorothy,
soberly, “and if we go there we’re sure to have
troubles of our own. But I guess we’ll have to go,
if we want that gill of water from the dark well.”

So they said good-bye to the Pumpkinhead and
resumed their travels, heading now directly toward
the South Country, where mountains and rocks and
caverns and forests of great trees abounded. This
part of the Land of Oz, while it belonged to Ozma
and owed her allegiance, was so wild and secluded
that many queer peoples hid in its jungles and
lived in their own way, without even a knowledge
that they had a Ruler in the Emerald City. If they
were left alone, these creatures never troubled
the inhabitants of the rest of Oz, but those who
invaded their domains encountered many dangers
from them.

It was a two days journey from Jack Pumkinhead’s
house to the edge of the Quadling Country, for
neither Dorothy nor Ojo could walk very fast and
they often stopped by the wayside to rest. The
first night they slept on the broad fields, among
the buttercups and daisies, and the Scarecrow
covered the children with a gauze blanket taken
from his knapsack, so they would not be chilled by
the night air. Toward evening of the second day
they reached a sandy plain where walking was
difficult; but some distance before them they saw
a group of palm trees, with many curious black
dots under them; so they trudged bravely on to
reach that place by dark and spend the night under
the shelter of the trees.

The black dots grew larger as they advanced and
although the light was dim Dorothy thought they
looked like big kettles turned upside down. Just
beyond this place a jumble of huge, jagged rocks
lay scattered, rising to the mountains behind
them.

Our travelers preferred to attempt to climb
these rocks by daylight, and they realized that
for a time this would be their last night on the
plains.

Twilight had fallen by the time they came to the
trees, beneath which were the black, circular
objects they had marked from a distance. Dozens of
them were scattered around and Dorothy bent near
to one, which was about as tall as she was, to
examine it more closely. As she did so the top
flew open and out popped a dusky creature, rising
its length into the air and then plumping down
upon the ground just beside the little girl.
Another and another popped out of the circular,
pot-like dwelling, while from all the other black
objects came popping more creatures–very like
jumping-jacks when their boxes are unhooked–until
fully a hundred stood gathered around our little
group of travelers.

By this time Dorothy had discovered they
were people, tiny and curiously formed, but still
people. Their skins were dusky and their hair
stood straight up, like wires, and was brilliant
scarlet in color. Their bodies were bare except
for skins fastened around their waists and they
wore bracelets on their ankles and wrists, and
necklaces, and great pendant earrings.

Toto crouched beside his mistress and wailed
as if he did not like these strange creatures a bit.
Scraps began to mutter something about “hopity,
poppity, jumpity, dump!” but no one paid any
attention to her. Ojo kept close to the Scarecrow
and the Scarecrow kept close to Dorothy; but the
little girl turned to the queer creatures and
asked:

“Who are you?”

They answered this question all together, in
a sort of chanting chorus, the words being as follows:

“We’re the jolly Tottenhots;
We do not like the day,
But in the night ’tis our delight
To gambol, skip and play.

“We hate the sun and from it run,
The moon is cool and clear,
So on this spot each Tottenhot
Waits for it to appear.

“We’re ev’ry one chock full of fun,
And full of mischief, too;
But if you’re gay and with us play
We’ll do no harm to you.

“Glad to meet you, Tottenhots,” said the
Scarecrow solemnly. “But you mustn’t expect us
to play with you all night, for we’ve traveled
all day and some of us are tired.”

“And we never gamble,” added the Patchwork Girl.
“It’s against the Law.”

These remarks were greeted with shouts of
laughter by the impish creatures and one seized
the Scarecrow’s arm and was astonished to find the
straw man whirl around so easily. So the Tottenhot
raised the Scarecrow high in the air and tossed
him over the heads of the crowd. Some one caught
him and tossed him back, and so with shouts of
glee they continued throwing the Scarecrow here
and there, as if he had been a basket-ball.

Presently another imp seized Scraps and began to
throw her about, in the same way. They found her a
little heavier than the Scarecrow but still light
enough to be tossed like a sofa-cushion, and they
were enjoying the sport immensely when Dorothy,
angry and indignant at the treatment her friends
were receiving, rushed among the Tottenhots and
began slapping and pushing them until she had
rescued the Scarecrow and the Patchwork Girl and
held them close on either side of her. Perhaps she
would not have accomplished this victory so easily
had not Toto helped her, barking and snapping at
the bare legs of the imps until they were glad to
flee from his attack. As for Ojo, some of the
creatures had attempted to toss him, also, but
finding his body too heavy they threw him to the
ground and a row of the imps sat on him and held
him from assisting Dorothy in her battle.

The little brown folks were much surprised
at being attacked by the girl and the dog, and
one or two who had been slapped hardest began
to cry. Then suddenly they gave a shout, all
together, and disappeared in a flash into their
various houses, the tops of which closed with a
series of pops that sounded like a bunch of
firecrackers being exploded.

The adventurers now found themselves alone,
and Dorothy asked anxiously:

“Is anybody hurt?”

“Not me,” answered the Scarecrow. “They have
given my straw a good shaking up and taken all the
lumps out of it. I am now in splendid condition
and am really obliged to the Tottenhots for their
kind treatment.”

“I feel much the same way,” said Scraps.
“My cotton stuffing had sagged a good deal with
the day’s walking and they’ve loosened it up
until I feel as plump as a sausage. But the play
was a little rough and I’d had quite enough of
it when you interfered.”

“Six of them sat on me,” said Ojo, “but as
they are so little they didn’t hurt me much.”

Just then the roof of the house in front of
them opened and a Tottenhot stuck his head
out, very cautiously, and looked at the strangers.

“Can’t you, take a joke?” he asked,
reproachfully; “haven t you any fun in you at
all?”

“If I had such a quality,” replied the
Scarecrow, “your people would have knocked it out
of me. But I don’t bear grudges. I forgive you.”

“So do I,” added Scraps. “That is, if you behave
yourselves after this.”

“It was just a little rough-house, that’s all,”
said the Tottenhot. “But the question is not if
we will behave, but if you will behave? We
can’t be shut up here all night, because this
is our time to play; nor do we care to come out
and be chewed up by a savage beast or slapped
by an angry girl. That slapping hurts like sixty;
some of my folks are crying about it. So here’s
the proposition: you let us alone and we’ll let
you alone.”

“You began it,” declared Dorothy.

“Well, you ended it, so we won’t argue the
matter. May we come out again? Or are you still
cruel and slappy?”

“Tell you what we’ll do,” said Dorothy. “We’re
all tired and want to sleep until morning. If
you’ll let us get into your house, and stay there
until daylight, you can play outside all you want
to.”

“That’s a bargain!” cried the Tottenhot
eagerly, and he gave a queer whistle that
brought his people popping out of their houses
on all sides. When the house before them was
vacant, Dorothy and Ojo leaned over the hole
and looked in, but could see nothing because
it was so dark. But if the Tottenhots slept there
all day the children thought they could sleep
there at night, so Ojo lowered himself down
and found it was not very deep.”

“There’s a soft cushion all over,” said he.
“Come on in.”

Dorothy handed Toto to the boy and then climbed
in herself. After her came Scraps and the
Scarecrow, who did not wish to sleep but preferred
to keep out of the way of the mischievous
Tottenhots.

There seemed no furniture in the round den, but
soft cushions were strewn about the floor and
these they found made very comfortable beds. They
did not close the hole in the roof but left it
open to admit air. It also admitted the shouts and
ceaseless laughter of the impish Tottenhots as
they played outside, but Dorothy and Ojo, being
weary from their journey, were soon fast asleep.

Toto kept an eye open, however, and uttered low,
threatening growls whenever the racket made by the
creatures outside became too boisterous; and the
Scarecrow and the Patchwork Girl sat leaning
against the wall and talked in whispers all night
long. No one disturbed the travelers until
daylight, when in popped the Tottenhot who owned
the place and invited them to vacate his premises.

 

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