FictionForest

Chapter 1 – Ann’s Army

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

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“I won’t!” cried Ann; “I won’t sweep the floor. It
is beneath my dignity.”

“Some one must sweep it,” replied Ann’s younger
sister, Salye; “else we shall soon he wading in
dust. And you are the eldest, and the head of the
family.”

“I’m Queen of Oogaboo,” said Ann, proudly.
“But,” she added with a sigh, “my kingdom is the
smallest and the poorest in all the Land of Oz.”

This was quite true. Away up in the mountains,
in a far corner of the beautiful fairyland of Oz,
lies a small valley which is named Oogaboo, and in
this valley lived a few people who were usually
happy and contented and never cared to wander over
the mountain pass into the more settled parts of
the land. They knew that all of Oz, including
their own territory, was ruled by a beautiful
Princess named Ozma, who lived in the splendid
Emerald City; yet the simple folk of Oogaboo
never visited Ozma. They had a royal family of
their own–not especially to rule over them, but
just as a matter of pride. Ozma permitted the
various parts of her country to have their Kings
and Queens and Emperors and the like, but all were
ruled over by the lovely girl Queen of the Emerald
City.

The King of Oogaboo used to he a man named
Jol Jemkiph Soforth, who for many years did
all the drudgery of deciding disputes and telling
his people when to plant cabbages and pickle
onions. But the King’s wife had a sharp tongue
and small respect for the King, her husband;
therefore one night King Jol crept over the pass
into the Land of Oz and disappeared from
Oogaboo for good and all. The Queen waited
a few years for him to return and then started
in search of him, leaving her eldest daughter,
Ann Soforth, to act as Queen.

Now, Ann had not forgotten when her birthday
came, for that meant a party and feasting and
dancing, but she had quite forgotten how many
years the birthdays marked. In a land where people
live always, this is not considered a cause for
regret, so we may justly say that Queen Ann of
Oogaboo was old enough to make jelly–and let it go
at that.

But she didn’t make jelly, or do any more of the
housework than she could help. She was an
ambitious woman and constantly resented the fact
that her kingdom was so tiny and her people so
stupid and unenterprising. Often she wondered what
had become of her father and mother, out beyond
the pass, in the wonderful Land of Oz, and the
fact that they did not return to Oogaboo led Ann
to suspect that they bad found a better place to
live. So, when Salye refused to sweep the floor of
the living room in the palace, and Ann would not
sweep it, either, she said to her sister:

“I’m going away. This absurd Kingdom of Oogaboo
tires me.”

“Go, if you want to,” answered Salye; “but you
are very foolish to leave this place.”

“Why?” asked Ann.

“Because in the Land of Oz, which is Ozma’s
country, you will be a nobody, while here you
are a Queen.”

“Oh, yes! Queen over eighteen men, twenty-seven
women and forty-four children!” returned Ann
bitterly.

“Well, there are certainly more people than that
in the great Land of Oz,” laughed Salye. “Why
don’t you raise an army and conquer them, and be
Queen of all Oz?” she asked, trying to taunt Ann
and so to anger her. Then she made a face at her
sister and went into the back yard to swing in the
hammock.

Her jeering words, however, had given Queen Ann
an idea. She reflected that Oz was reported to be
a peaceful country and Ozma a mere girl who ruled
with gentleness to all and was obeyed because her
people loved her. Even in Oogaboo the story was
told that Ozma’s sole army consisted of twenty-
seven fine officers, who wore beautiful uniforms
but carried no weapons, because there was no one
to fight. Once there had been a private soldier,
besides the officers, but Ozma had made him a
Captain-General and taken away his gun for fear it
might accidentally hurt some one.

The more Ann thought about the matter the more
she was convinced it would be easy to conquer the
Land of Oz and set herself up as Ruler in Ozma’s
place, if she but had an Army to do it with.
Afterward she could go out into the world and
conquer other lands, and then perhaps she could
find a way to the moon, and conquer that. She had
a warlike spirit that preferred trouble to
idleness.

It all depended on an Army, Ann decided. She
carefully counted in her mind all the men of her
kingdom. Yes; there were exactly eighteen of them,
all told. That would not make a very big Army, but
by surprising Ozma’s unarmed officers her men
might easily subdue them. “Gentle people are
always afraid of those that bluster,” Ann told
herself. “I don’t wish to shed any blood, for that
would shock my nerves and I might faint; but if we
threaten and flash our weapons I am sure the
people of Oz will fall upon their knees before me
and surrender.”

This argument, which she repeated to herself
more than once, finally determined the Queen of
Oogaboo to undertake the audacious venture.

“Whatever happens,” she reflected, “can make
me no more unhappy than my staying shut up
in this miserable valley and sweeping floors and
quarreling with Sister Salye; so I will venture
all, and win what I may.”

That very day she started out to organize her
Army.

The first man she came to was Jo Apple, so
called because he had an apple orchard.

“Jo,” said Ann, “I am going to conquer the
world, and I want you to join my Army.”

“Don’t ask me to do such a fool thing, for I
must politely refuse Your Majesty,” said Jo
Apple.”

“I have no intention of asking you. I shall
command you, as Queen of Oogaboo, to join,” said
Ann.

“In that case, I suppose I must obey,” the man
remarked, in a sad voice. “But I pray you to
consider that I am a very important citizen, and
for that reason am entitled to an office of high
rank.”

“You shall be a General,” promised Ann.

“With gold epaulets and a sword?” he asked.

“Of course,” said the Queen.

Then she went to the next man, whose name was Jo
Bunn, as he owned an orchard where graham-buns and
wheat-buns, in great variety, both hot and cold,
grew on the trees.

“Jo,” said Ann, “I am going to conquer the
world, and I command you to join my Army.”

“Impossible!” he exclaimed. “The bun crop has to
be picked.”

“Let your wife and children do the picking,”
said Ann.

“But I’m a man of great importance, Your
Majesty,” he protested.

“For that reason you shall be one of my
Generals, and wear a cocked hat with gold
braid, and curl your mustaches and clank a long
sword,” she promised.

So he consented, although sorely against his
will, and the Queen walked on to the next
cottage. Here lived Jo Cone, so called because
the trees in his orchard bore crops of excellent
ice-cream cones.

“Jo,” said Ann, “I am going to conquer the
world, and you must join my Army.”

“Excuse me, please,” said Jo Cone. “I am a
bad fighter. My good wife conquered me years
ago, for she can fight better than I. Take her,
Your Majesty, instead of me, and I’ll bless you
for the favor.”

“This must be an army of men-fierce, ferocious
warriors,” declared Ann, looking sternly upon the
mild little man.

“And you will leave my wife here in Oogaboo?” he
asked.

“Yes; and make you a General.”

“I’ll go,” said Jo Cone, and Ann went on to
the cottage of Jo Clock, who had an orchard of
clock-trees. This man at first insisted that he
would not join the army, but Queen Ann’s
promise to make him a General finally won his
consent.

“How many Generals are there in your army?”
he asked.

“Four, so far,” replied Ann.

“And how big will the army he?” was his next
question.

“I intend to make every one of the eighteen
men in Oogaboo join it,” she said.

“Then four Generals are enough,” announced
Jo Clock. “I advise you to make the rest of them
Colonels.”

Ann tried to follow his advice. The next four
men she visited–who were Jo Plum, Jo Egg, Jo
Banjo and Jo Cheese, named after the trees in
their orchards–she made Colonels of her Army; but
the fifth one, Jo Nails, said Colonels and
Generals were getting to be altogether too common
in the Army of Oogaboo and he preferred to be a
Major. So Jo Nails, Jo Cake, Jo Ham and Jo
Stockings were all four made Majors, while the
next four–Jo Sandwich, Jo Padlocks, Jo Sundae and
Jo Buttons–were appointed Captains of the Army.

But now Queen Ann was in a quandary. There
remained but two other men in all Oogaboo,
and if she made these two Lieutenants, while
there were four Captains, four Majors, four
Colonels and four Generals, there was likely to
be jealousy in her army, and perhaps mutiny
and desertions.

One of these men, however, was Jo Candy, and he
would not go at all. No promises could tempt him,
nor could threats move him. He said he must remain
at home to harvest his crop of jackson-balls,
lemon-drops, bonbons and chocolate-creams. Also he
had large fields of cracker-jack and buttered
popcorn to be mowed and threshed, and he was
determined not to disappoint the children of
Oogaboo by going away to conquer the world and so
let the candy crop spoil.

Finding Jo Candy so obstinate, Queen Ann
let him have his own way and continued her
journey to the house of the eighteenth and last
man in Oogaboo, who was a young fellow
named Jo Files. This Files had twelve trees
which bore steel files of various sorts; but also
he had nine book-trees, on which grew a choice
selection of story-books. In case you have never
seen books growing upon trees, I will explain
that those in Jo Files’ orchard were enclosed
in broad green husks which, when fully ripe,
turned to a deep red color. Then the books were
picked and husked and were ready to read. If
they were picked too soon, the stories were found
to be confused and uninteresting and the spelling
bad. However, if allowed to ripen perfectly, the
stories were fine reading and the spelling and
grammar excellent.

Files freely gave his books to all who wanted
them, but the people of Oogaboo cared little for
books and so he had to read most of them himself,
before they spoiled. For, as you probably know, as
soon as the books were read the words disappeared
and the leaves withered and faded–which is the
worst fault of all books which grow upon trees.

When Queen Ann spoke to this young man Files,
who was both intelligent and ambitious, he said he
thought it would be great fun to conquer the
world. But he called her attention to the fact
that he was far superior to the other men of her
army. Therefore, he would not be one of her
Generals or Colonels or Majors or Captains, but
claimed the honor of being sole Private.

Ann did not like this idea at all.

“I hate to have a Private Soldier in my army,
she said; “they’re so common. I am told that
Princess Ozma once had a private soldier, but
she made him her Captain-General, which is
good evidence that the private was unnecessary.

“Ozma’s army doesn’t fight,” returned Files;
“but your army must fight like fury in order to
conquer the world. I have read in my books that it
is always the private soldiers who do the
fighting, for no officer is ever brave enough to
face the foe. Also, it stands to reason that your
officers must have some one to command and to
issue their orders to; therefore I’ll be the one.
I long to slash and slay the enemy and become a
hero. Then, when we return to Oogaboo, I’ll take
all the marbles away from the children and melt
them up and make a marble statue of myself for all
to look upon and admire.”

Ann was much pleased with Private Files. He
seemed indeed to be such a warrior as she needed
in her enterprise, and her hopes of success took
a sudden bound when Files told her he knew
where a gun-tree grew and would go there at
once and pick the ripest and biggest musket the
tree bore.

 

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