FictionForest

Chapter 9 – The Kingdom of Jinxland

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

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Trot rode with more comfort than she had expected,
although the swing swayed so much that she had to hold on
tight with both hands. Cap’n Bill’s bird followed the
Ork, and Trot came next, with Button-Bright trailing
behind her. It was quite an imposing procession, but
unfortunately there was no one to see it, for the Ork had
headed straight for the great sandy desert and in a few
minutes after starting they were flying high over the
broad waste, where no living thing could exist.

The little girl thought this would be a bad place for
the birds to lose strength, or for the cloth ropes to
give way; but although she could not help feeling a
trifle nervous and fidgety she had confidence in the huge
and brilliantly plumaged bird that bore her, as well as
in Cap’n Bill’s knowledge of how to twist and fasten a
rope so it would hold.

That was a remarkably big desert. There was nothing to
relieve the monotony of view and every minute seemed an
hour and every hour a day. Disagreeable fumes and gases
rose from the sands, which would have been deadly to the
travelers had they not been so high in the air. As it
was, Trot was beginning to feel sick, when a breath of
fresher air filled her nostrils and on looking ahead she
saw a great cloud of pink-tinted mist. Even while she
wondered what it could be, the Ork plunged boldly into
the mist and the other birds followed. She could see
nothing for a time, nor could the bird which carried her
see where the Ork had gone, but it kept flying as
sturdily as ever and in a few moments the mist was passed
and the girl saw a most beautiful landscape spread out
below her, extending as far as her eye could reach.

She saw bits of forest, verdure clothed hills, fields
of waving grain, fountains, rivers and lakes; and
throughout the scene were scattered groups of pretty
houses and a few grand castles and palaces.

Over all this delightful landscape — which from Trot’s
high perch seemed like a magnificent painted picture —
was a rosy glow such as we sometimes see in the west at
sunset. In this case, however, it was not in the west
only, but everywhere.

No wonder the Ork paused to circle slowly over this
lovely country. The other birds followed his action, all
eyeing the place with equal delight. Then, as with one
accord, the four formed a group and slowly sailed
downward. This brought them to that part of the newly-
discovered land which bordered on the desert’s edge; but
it was just as pretty here as anywhere, so the Ork and
the birds alighted and the three passengers at once got
out of their swings.

“Oh, Cap’n Bill, isn’t this fine an’ dandy?” exclaimed
Trot rapturously. “How lucky we were to discover this
beautiful country!”

“The country seems rather high class, I’ll admit,
Trot,” replied the old sailor-man, looking around him,
“but we don’t know, as yet, what its people are like.”

“No one could live in such a country without being
happy and good — I’m sure of that,” she said earnestly.
“Don’t you think so, Button-Bright?”

“I’m not thinking, just now,” answered the little boy.
“It tires me to think, and I never seem to gain anything
by it. When we see the people who live here we will know
what they are like, and no ‘mount of thinking will make
them any different.”

“That’s true enough,” said the Ork. “But now I want to
make a proposal. While you are getting acquainted with
this new country, which looks as if it contains
everything to make one happy, I would like to fly along –
– all by myself — and see if I can find my home on the
other side of the great desert. If I do, I will stay
there, of course. But if I fail to find Orkland I will
return to you in a week, to see if I can do anything more
to assist you.”

They were sorry to lose their queer companion, but
could offer no objection to the plan; so the Ork bade
them good-bye and rising swiftly in the air, he flew over
the country and was soon lost to view in the distance.

The three birds which had carried our friends now
begged permission to return by the way they had come, to
their own homes, saying they were anxious to show their
families how big they had become. So Cap’n Bill and Trot
and Button-Bright all thanked them gratefully for their
assistance and soon the birds began their long flight
toward the Land of Mo. Being now left to themselves in
this strange land, the three comrades selected a pretty
pathway and began walking along it. They believed this
path would lead them to a splendid castle which they
espied in the distance, the turrets of which towered far
above the tops of the trees which surrounded it. It did
not seem very far away, so they sauntered on slowly,
admiring the beautiful ferns and flowers that lined the
pathway and listening to the singing of the birds and the
soft chirping of the grasshoppers.

Presently the path wound over a little hill. In a
valley that lay beyond the hill was a tiny cottage
surrounded by flower beds and fruit trees. On the shady
porch of the cottage they saw, as they approached, a
pleasant faced woman sitting amidst a group of children,
to whom she was telling stories. The children quickly
discovered the strangers and ran toward them with
exclamations of astonishment, so that Trot and her
friends became the center of a curious group, all
chattering excitedly. Cap’n Bill’s wooden leg seemed to
arouse the wonder of the children, as they could not
understand why he had not two meat legs. This attention
seemed to please the old sailor, who patted the heads of
the children kindly and then, raising his hat to the
woman, he inquired:

“Can you tell us, madam, just what country this is?”

She stared hard at all three of the strangers as she
replied briefly: “Jinxland.”

“Oh!” exclaimed Cap’n Bill, with a puzzled look. “And
where is Jinxland, please?”

“In the Quadling Country,” said she.

“What!” cried Trot, in sudden excitement. “Do you mean
to say this is the Quadling Country of the Land of Oz?”

“To be sure I do,” the woman answered. “Every bit of
land that is surrounded by the great desert is the Land
of Oz, as you ought to know as well as I do; but I’m
sorry to say that Jinxland is separated from the rest of
the Quadling Country by that row of high mountains you
see yonder, which have such steep sides that no one can
cross them. So we live here all by ourselves, and are
ruled by our own King, instead of by Ozma of Oz.”

“I’ve been to the Land of Oz before,” said Button-
Bright, “but I’ve never been here.”

“Did you ever hear of Jinxland before?” asked Trot.

“No,” said Button-Bright.

“It is on the Map of Oz, though,” asserted the woman,
“and it’s a fine country, I assure you. If only,” she
added, and then paused to look around her with a
frightened expression. “If only –” here she stopped
again, as if not daring to go on with her speech.

“If only what, ma’am?” asked Cap’n Bill.

The woman sent the children into the house. Then she
came closer to the strangers and whispered: “If only we
had a different King, we would be very happy and
contented.”

“What’s the matter with your King?” asked Trot,
curiously. But the woman seemed frightened to have said
so much. She retreated to her porch, merely saying:

“The King punishes severely any treason on the part of
his subjects.”

“What’s treason?” asked Button-Bright.

“In this case,” replied Cap’n Bill, “treason seems to
consist of knockin’ the King; but I guess we know his
disposition now as well as if the lady had said more.”

“I wonder,” said Trot, going up to the woman, “if you
could spare us something to eat. We haven’t had anything
but popcorn and lemonade for a long time.”

“Bless your heart! Of course I can spare you some
food,” the woman answered, and entering her cottage she
soon returned with a tray loaded with sandwiches, cakes
and cheese. One of the children drew a bucket of clear,
cold water from a spring and the three wanderers ate
heartily and enjoyed the good things immensely.

When Button-Bright could eat no more he filled the
pockets of his jacket with cakes and cheese, and not even
the children objected to this. Indeed they all seemed
pleased to see the strangers eat, so Cap’n Bill decided
that no matter what the King of Jinxland was like, the
people would prove friendly and hospitable.

“Whose castle is that, yonder, ma’am?” he asked, waving
his hand toward the towers that rose above the trees.

“It belongs to his Majesty, King Krewl.” she said.

“Oh, indeed; and does he live there?”

“When he is not out hunting with his fierce courtiers
and war captains,” she replied.

“Is he hunting now?” Trot inquired.

“I do not know, my dear. The less we know about the
King’s actions the safer we are.”

It was evident the woman did not like to talk about
King Krewl and so, having finished their meal, they said
good-bye and continued along the pathway.

“Don’t you think we’d better keep away from that
King’s castle, Cap’n?” asked Trot.

“Well,” said he, “King Krewl would find out, sooner or
later, that we are in his country, so we may as well face
the music now. Perhaps he isn’t quite so bad as that
woman thinks he is. Kings aren’t always popular with
their people, you know, even if they do the best they
know how.”

“Ozma is pop’lar,” said Button-Bright.

“Ozma is diff’rent from any other Ruler, from all I’ve
heard,” remarked Trot musingly, as she walked beside the
boy. “And, after all, we are really in the Land of Oz,
where Ozma rules ev’ry King and ev’rybody else. I never
heard of anybody getting hurt in her dominions, did you,
Button-Bright?”

“Not when she knows about it,” he replied. “But those
birds landed us in just the wrong place, seems to me.
They might have carried us right on, over that row of
mountains, to the Em’rald City.”

“True enough,” said Cap’n Bill; “but they didn’t, an’
so we must make the best of Jinxland. Let’s try not to be
afraid.”

“Oh, I’m not very scared,” said Button-Bright, pausing
to look at a pink rabbit that popped its head out of a
hole in the field near by.

“Nor am I,” added Trot. “Really, Cap’n, I’m so glad to
be anywhere at all in the wonderful fairyland of Oz that
I think I’m the luckiest girl in all the world. Dorothy
lives in the Em’rald City, you know, and so does the
Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman and Tik-Tok and the Shaggy
Man — and all the rest of ’em that we’ve heard so much
about — not to mention Ozma, who must be the sweetest
and loveliest girl in all the world!”

“Take your time, Trot,” advised Button-Bright. “You
don’t have to say it all in one breath, you know. And you
haven’t mentioned half of the curious people in the
Em’rald City.”

“That ‘ere Em’rald City,” said Cap’n Bill impressively,
“happens to be on the other side o’ those mountains, that
we’re told no one is able to cross. I don’t want to
discourage of you, Trot, but we’re a’most as much
separated from your Ozma an’ Dorothy as we were when we
lived in Californy.”

There was so much truth in this statement that they all
walked on in silence for some time. Finally they reached
the grove of stately trees that bordered the grounds of
the King’s castle. They had gone halfway through it when
the sound of sobbing, as of someone in bitter distress,
reached their ears and caused them to halt abruptly.

 

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