FictionForest

Chapter 6 – The Flight of the Midgets

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

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Cap’n Bill and Trot rode very comfortably in the
sunbonnet. The motion was quite steady, for they
weighed so little that the Ork flew without effort. Yet
they were both somewhat nervous about their future
fate and could not help wishing they were safe on
land and their natural size again.

“You’re terr’ble small, Trot,” remarked Cap’n Bill,
looking at his companion.

“Same to you, Cap’n,” she said with a laugh; “but
as long as we have the purple berries we needn’t
worry about our size.”

“In a circus,” mused the old man, “we’d be curiosities.
But in a sunbonnet — high up in the air — sailin’ over a
big, unknown ocean — they ain’t no word in any
booktionary to describe us.”

“Why, we’re midgets, that’s all,” said the little girl.
The Ork flew silently for a long time. The slight swaying
of the sunbonnet made Cap’n Bill drowsy, and he began to
doze. Trot, however, was wide awake, and after enduring
the monotonous journey as long as she was able she called
out:

“Don’t you see land anywhere, Mr. Ork?”

“Not yet,” he answered. “This is a big ocean and I’ve
no idea in which direction the nearest land to that
island lies; but if I keep flying in a straight line I’m
sure to reach some place some time.”

That seemed reasonable, so the little people in the
sunbonnet remained as patient as possible; that is, Cap’n
Bill dozed and Trot tried to remember her geography
lessons so she could figure out what land they were
likely to arrive at.

For hours and hours the Ork flew steadily, keeping to
the straight line and searching with his eyes the horizon
of the ocean for land. Cap’n Bill was fast asleep and
snoring and Trot had laid her head on his shoulder to
rest it when suddenly the Ork exclaimed:

“There! I’ve caught a glimpse of land, at last.”

At this announcement they roused themselves. Cap’n Bill
stood up and tried to peek over the edge of the
sunbonnet.

“What does it look like?” he inquired.

“Looks like another island,” said the Ork; “but I can
judge it better in a minute or two.”

“I don’t care much for islands, since we visited that
other one,” declared Trot.

Soon the Ork made another announcement.

“It is surely an island, and a little one, too,” said
he. “But I won’t stop, because I see a much bigger land
straight ahead of it.”

“That’s right,” approved Cap’n Bill. “The bigger the
land, the better it will suit us.”

“It’s almost a continent,” continued the Ork after a
brief silence, during which he did not decrease the speed
of his flight. “I wonder if it can be Orkland, the place
I have been seeking so long?”

“I hope not,” whispered Trot to Cap’n Bill — so softly
that the Ork could not hear her — “for I shouldn’t like
to be in a country where only Orks live. This one Ork
isn’t a bad companion, but a lot of him wouldn’t be much
fun.”

After a few more minutes of flying the Ork called out
in a sad voice:

“No! this is not my country. It’s a place I have never
seen before, although I have wandered far and wide. It
seems to be all mountains and deserts and green valleys
and queer cities and lakes and rivers –mixed up in a
very puzzling way.”

“Most countries are like that,” commented Cap’n Bill.
“Are you going to land?”

“Pretty soon,” was the reply. “There is a mountain
peak just ahead of me. What do you say to our landing on
that?”

“All right,” agreed the sailor-man, for both he and
Trot were getting tired of riding in the sunbonnet and
longed to set foot on solid ground again.

So in a few minutes the Ork slowed down his speed and
then came to a stop so easily that they were scarcely
jarred at all. Then the creature squatted down until the
sunbonnet rested on the ground, and began trying to
unfasten with its claws the knotted strings.

This proved a very clumsy task, because the strings
were tied at the back of the Ork’s neck, just where his
claws would not easily reach. After much fumbling he
said:

“I’m afraid I can’t let you out, and there is no one
near to help me.”

This was at first discouraging, but after a little
thought Cap’n Bill said:

“If you don’t mind, Trot, I can cut a slit in your
sunbonnet with my knife.”

“Do,” she replied. “The slit won’t matter, ’cause I can
sew it up again afterward, when I am big.”

So Cap’n Bill got out his knife, which was just as
small, in proportion, as he was, and after considerable
trouble managed to cut a long slit in the sunbonnet.
First he squeezed through the opening himself and
then helped Trot to get out.

When they stood on firm ground again their first act
was to begin eating the dark purple berries which they
had brought with them. Two of these Trot had guarded
carefully during the long journey, by holding them in her
lap, for their safety meant much to the tiny people.

“I’m not very hungry,” said the little girl as she
handed a berry to Cap’n Bill, “but hunger doesn’t count,
in this case. It’s like taking medicine to make you well,
so we must manage to eat ’em, somehow or other.”

But the berries proved quite pleasant to taste and as
Cap’n Bill and Trot nibbled at their edges their forms
began to grow in size — slowly but steadily. The bigger
they grew the easier it was for them to eat the berries,
which of course became smaller to them, and by the time
the fruit was eaten our friends had regained their
natural size.

The little girl was greatly relieved when she found
herself as large as she had ever been, and Cap’n Bill
shared her satisfaction; for, although they had seen the
effect of the berries on the Ork, they had not been sure
the magic fruit would have the same effect on human
beings, or that the magic would work in any other country
than that in which the berries grew.

“What shall we do with the other four berries?”
asked Trot, as she picked up her sunbonnet, marveling
that she had ever been small. enough to ride in it.
“They’re no good to us now, are they, Cap’n?”

“I’m not sure as to that,” he replied. “If they were
eaten by one who had never eaten the lavender berries,
they might have no effect at all; but then, contrarywise,
they might. One of ’em has got badly jammed, so I’ll
throw it away, but the other three I b’lieve I’ll carry
with me. They’re magic things, you know, and may come
handy to us some time.”

He now searched in his big pockets and drew out a small
wooden box with a sliding cover. The sailor had kept an
assortment of nails, of various sizes, in this box, but
those he now dumped loosely into his pocket and in the
box placed the three sound purple berries.

When this important matter was attended to they found
time to look about them and see what sort of place the
Ork had landed them in.

 

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