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Chapter 15 – Trot Meets the Scarecrow

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

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Trot and Pon covered many leagues of ground, searching
through forests, in fields and in many of the little
villages of Jinxland, but could find no trace of either
Cap’n Bill or Button-Bright. Finally they paused beside a
cornfield and sat upon a stile to rest. Pon took some
apples from his pocket and gave one to Trot. Then he
began eating another himself, for this was their time for
luncheon. When his apple was finished Pon tossed the core
into the field.

“Tchuk-tchuk!” said a strange voice. “what do you mean
by hitting me in the eye with an apple-core?”

Then rose up the form of the Scarecrow, who had hidden
himself in the cornfield while he examined Pon and Trot
and decided whether they were worthy to be helped.

“Excuse me,” said Pon. “I didn’t know you were there.”

“How did you happen to be there, anyhow?” asked Trot.

The Scarecrow came forward with awkward steps and stood
beside them.

“Ah, you are the gardener’s boy,” he said to Pon. Then
he turned to Trot. “And you are the little girl who came
to Jinxland riding on a big bird, and who has had the
misfortune to lose her friend, Cap’n Bill, and her chum,
Button-Bright.”

“Why, how did you know all that?” she inquired.

“I know a lot of things,” replied the Scarecrow,
winking at her comically. “My brains are the Carefully-
Assorted, Double-Distilled, High-Efficiency sort that the
Wizard of Oz makes. He admits, himself, that my brains
are the best he ever manufactured.”

“I think I’ve heard of you,” said Trot slowly, as she
looked the Scarecrow over with much interest; “but you
used to live in the Land of Oz.”

“Oh, I do now,” he replied cheerfully. “I’ve just come
over the mountains from the Quadling Country to see if I
can be of any help to you.”

“Who, me?” asked Pon.

“No, the strangers from the big world. It seems they
need looking after.”

“I’m doing that myself,” said Pon, a little
ungraciously. “If you will pardon me for saying so, I
don’t see how a Scarecrow with painted eyes can look
after anyone.”

“If you don’t see that, you are more blind than the
Scarecrow,” asserted Trot. “He’s a fairy man, Pon, and
comes from the fairyland of Oz, so he can do ‘most
anything. I hope,” she added, turning to the Scarecrow,
“you can find Cap’n Bill for me.”

“I will try, anyhow,” he promised. “But who is that old
woman who is running toward us and shaking her stick at
us?”

Trot and Pon turned around and both uttered an
exclamation of fear. The next instant they took to their
heels and ran fast up the path. For it was old Blinkie,
the Wicked Witch, who had at last traced them to this
place. Her anger was so great that she was determined not
to abandon the chase of Pon and Trot until she had caught
and punished them. The Scarecrow understood at once that
the old woman meant harm to his new friends, so as she
drew near he stepped before her. His appearance was so
sudden and unexpected that Blinkie ran into him and
toppled him over, but she tripped on his straw body and
went rolling in the path beside him.

The Scarecrow sat up and said: “I beg your pardon!” but
she whacked him with her stick and knocked him flat
again. Then, furious with rage, the old witch sprang upon
her victim and began pulling the straw out of his body.
The poor Scarecrow was helpless to resist and in a few
moments all that was left of him was an empty suit of
clothes and a heap of straw beside it. Fortunately,
Blinkie did not harm his head, for it rolled into a
little hollow and escaped her notice. Fearing that Pon
and Trot would escape her, she quickly resumed the chase
and disappeared over the brow of a hill, following the
direction in which she had seen them go.

Only a short time elapsed before a gray grasshopper
with a wooden leg came hopping along and lit directly on
the upturned face of the Scarecrow’s head.

“Pardon me, but you are resting yourself upon my nose,”
remarked the Scarecrow

“Oh! are you alive?” asked the grasshopper.

“That is a question I have never been able to decide,”
said the Scarecrow’s head. “When my body is properly
stuffed I have animation and can move around as well as
any live person. The brains in the head you are now
occupying as a throne, are of very superior quality and
do a lot of very clever thinking. But whether that is
being alive, or not, I cannot prove to you; for one who
lives is liable to death, while I am only liable to
destruction.”

“Seems to me,” said the grasshopper, rubbing his nose
with his front legs, “that in your case it doesn’t matter
— unless you’re destroyed already.”

“I am not; all I need is re-stuffing,” declared the
Scarecrow; “and if Pon and Trot escape the witch, and
come back here, I am sure they will do me that favor.”

“Tell me! Are Trot and Pon around here?” inquired the
grasshopper, its small voice trembling with excitement.

The Scarecrow did not answer at once, for both his eyes
were staring straight upward at a beautiful face that was
slightly bent over his head. It was, indeed, Princess
Gloria, who had wandered to this spot, very much
surprised when she heard the Scarecrow’s head talk and
the tiny gray grasshopper answer it.

“This,” said the Scarecrow, still staring at her, “must
be the Princess who loves Pon, the gardener’s boy.”

“Oh, indeed!” exclaimed the grasshopper — who of
course was Cap’n Bill — as he examined the young lady
curiously.

“No,” said Gloria frigidly, “I do not love Pon, or
anyone else, for the Wicked Witch has frozen my heart.”

“What a shame!” cried the Scarecrow. “One so lovely
should be able to love. But would you mind, my dear,
stuffing that straw into my body again?”

The dainty Princess glanced at the straw and at the
well-worn blue Munchkin clothes and shrank back in
disdain. But she was spared from refusing the Scarecrow’s
request by the appearance of Trot and Pon, who had hidden
in some bushes just over the brow of the hill and waited
until old Blinkie had passed them by. Their hiding place
was on the same side as the witch’s blind eye, and she
rushed on in the chase of the girl and the youth without
being aware that they had tricked her.

Trot was shocked at the Scarecrow’s sad condition and
at once began putting the straw back into his body. Pon,
at sight of Gloria, again appealed to her to take pity on
him, but the frozen-hearted Princess turned coldly away
and with a sigh the gardener’s boy began to assist Trot.

Neither of them at first noticed the small grasshopper,
which at their appearance had skipped off the Scarecrow’s
nose and was now clinging to a wisp of grass beside the
path, where he was not likely to be stepped upon. Not
until the Scarecrow had been neatly restuffed and set
upon his feet again — when he bowed to his restorers and
expressed his thanks — did the grasshopper move from his
perch. Then he leaped lightly into the path and called
out:

“Trot — Trot! Look at me. I’m Cap’n Bill! See what the
Wicked Witch has done to me.”

The voice was small, to be sure, but it reached Trot’s
ears and startled her greatly. She looked intently at the
grasshopper, her eyes wide with fear at first; then she
knelt down and, noticing the wooden leg, she began to
weep sorrowfully.

“Oh, Cap’n Bill — dear Cap’n Bill! What a cruel thing
to do!” she sobbed.

“Don’t cry, Trot,” begged the grasshopper. “It didn’t
hurt any, and it doesn’t hurt now. But it’s mighty
inconvenient an’ humiliatin’, to say the least.”

“I wish,” said the girl indignantly, while trying hard
to restrain her tears, “that I was big ‘nough an’ strong
‘nough to give that horrid witch a good beating. She
ought to be turned into a toad for doing this to you,
Cap’n Bill!”

“Never mind,” urged the Scarecrow, in a comforting
voice, “such a transformation doesn’t last always, and as
a general thing there’s some way to break the
enchantment. I’m sure Glinda could do it, in a jiffy.”

“Who is Glinda?” inquired Cap’n Bill.

Then the Scarecrow told them all about Glinda, not
forgetting to mention her beauty and goodness and her
wonderful powers of magic. He also explained how the
Royal Sorceress had sent him to Jinxland especially to
help the strangers, whom she knew to be in danger because
of the wiles of the cruel King and the Wicked Witch.

 

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