FictionForest

Chapter 16 – Pon Summons the King to Surrender

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

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Gloria had drawn near to the group to listen to their
talk, and it seemed to interest her in spite of her
frigid manner. They knew, of course, that the poor
Princess could not help being cold and reserved, so they
tried not to blame her.

“I ought to have come here a little sooner,” said the
Scarecrow, regretfully; “but Glinda sent me as soon as
she discovered you were here and were likely to get into
trouble. And now that we are all together — except
Button-Bright, over whom it is useless to worry — I
propose we hold a council of war, to decide what is best
to be done.”

That seemed a wise thing to do, so they all sat down
upon the grass, including Gloria, and the grasshopper
perched upon Trot’s shoulder and allowed her to stroke
him gently with her hand.

“In the first place,” began the Scarecrow, “this King
Krewl is a usurper and has no right to rule this Kingdom
of Jinxland.”

“That is true,” said Pon, eagerly. “My father was King
before him, and I –”

“You are a gardener’s boy,” interrupted the Scarecrow.
“Your father had no right to rule, either, for the
rightful King of this land was the father of Princess
Gloria, and only she is entitled to sit upon the throne
of Jinxland.”

“Good!” exclaimed Trot. “But what’ll we do with King
Krewl? I s’pose he won’t give up the throne unless he has
to.”

“No, of course not,” said the Scarecrow. “Therefore it
will be our duty to make him give up the throne.”

“How?” asked Trot.

“Give me time to think,” was the reply. “That’s what my
brains are for. I don’t know whether you people ever
think, or not, but my brains are the best that the Wizard
of Oz ever turned out, and if I give them plenty of time
to work, the result usually surprises me.”

“Take your time, then,” suggested Trot. “There’s no
hurry.”

“Thank you,” said the straw man, and sat perfectly
still for half an hour. During this interval the
grasshopper whispered in Trot’s ear, to which he was very
close, and Trot whispered back to the grasshopper sitting
upon her shoulder. Pon cast loving glances at Gloria, who
paid not the slightest heed to them.

Finally the Scarecrow laughed aloud.

“Brains working?” inquired Trot.

“Yes. They seem in fine order to-day. We will conquer
King Krewl and put Gloria upon his throne as Queen of
Jinxland.”

“Fine!” cried the little girl, clapping her hands
together gleefully. “But how?”

“Leave the how to me,” said the Scarecrow proudly.

As a conqueror I’m a wonder. We will, first of all,
write a message to send to King Krewl, asking him to
surrender. If he refuses, then we will make him
surrender.”

“Why ask him. when we know he’ll refuse?” inquired Pon.

“Why, we must be polite, whatever we do,” explained the
Scarecrow. “It would be very rude to conquer a King
without proper notice.”

They found it difficult to write a message without
paper, pen and ink, none of which was at hand; so it was
decided to send Pon as a messenger, with instructions to
ask the King, politely but firmly, to surrender.

Pon was not anxious to be the messenger. Indeed, he
hinted that it might prove a dangerous mission. But the
Scarecrow was now the acknowledged head of the Army of
Conquest, and he would listen to no refusal. So off Pon
started for the King’s castle, and the others accompanied
him as far as his hut, where they had decided to await
the gardener’s boy’s return.

I think it was because Pon had known the Scarecrow such
a short time that he lacked confidence in the straw man’s
wisdom. It was easy to say: “We will conquer King Krewl,”
but when Pon drew near to the great castle he began to
doubt the ability of a straw-stuffed man, a girl, a
grasshopper and a frozen-hearted Princess to do it. As
for himself, he had never thought of defying the King
before.

That was why the gardener’s boy was not very bold when
he entered the castle and passed through to the enclosed
court where the King was just then seated, with his
favorite courtiers around him. None prevented Pon’s
entrance, because he was known to be the gardener’s boy,
but when the King saw him he began to frown fiercely. He
considered Pon to be to blame for all his trouble with
Princess Gloria, who since her heart had been frozen had
escaped to some unknown place, instead of returning to
the castle to wed Goqgly-Goo, as she had been expected to
do. So the King bared his teeth angrily as he demanded:

“What have you done with Princess Gloria?”

“Nothing, your Majesty! I have done nothing at all,”
answered Pon in a faltering voice. “She does not love me
any more and even refuses to speak to me.”

“Then why are you here, you rascal?” roared the King.

Pon looked first one way and then another, but saw no
means of escape; so he plucked up courage.

“I am here to summon your Majesty to surrender.”

“What!” shouted the King. “Surrender? Surrender to
whom?”

Pon’s heart sank to his boots.

“To the Scarecrow,” he replied.

Some of the courtiers began to titter, but King Krewl
was greatly annoyed. He sprang up and began to beat poor
Pon with the golden staff he carried. Pon howled lustily
and would have run away had not two of the soldiers held
him until his Majesty was exhausted with punishing the
boy. Then they let him go and he left the castle and
returned along the road, sobbing at every step because
his body was so sore and aching.

“Well,” said the Scarecrow, “did the King surrender?”

“No; but he gave me a good drubbing!” sobbed poor Pon.

Trot was very sorry for Pon, but Gloria did not seem
affected in any way by her lover’s anguish. The
grasshopper leaped to the Scarecrow’s shoulder and asked
him what he was going to do next.

“Conquer,” was the reply. “But I will go alone, this
time, for beatings cannot hurt me at all; nor can lance
thrusts — or sword cuts — or arrow pricks.”

“Why is that?” inquired Trot.

“Because I have no nerves, such as you meat people
possess. Even grasshoppers have nerves, but straw
doesn’t; so whatever they do — except just one thing —
they cannot injure me. Therefore I expect to conquer King
Krewl with ease.”

“What is that one thing you excepted?” asked Trot.

“They will never think of it, so never mind. And now,
if you will kindly excuse me for a time, I’ll go over to
the castle and do my conquering.”

“You have no weapons,” Pon reminded him.

“True,” said the Scarecrow. “But if I carried weapons I
might injure someone — perhaps seriously — and that
would make me unhappy. I will just borrow that riding-
whip, which I see in the corner of your hut, if you don’t
mind. It isn’t exactly proper to walk with a riding-whip,
but I trust you will excuse the inconsistency.”

Pon handed him the whip and the Scarecrow bowed to all
the party and left the hut, proceeding leisurely along
the way to the King’s castle.

 

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