FictionForest

Chapter 18 – The Scarecrow Meets an Enemy

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

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The Scarecrow was not a bit afraid of King Krewl.
Indeed, he rather enjoyed the prospect of conquering the
evil King and putting Gloria on the throne of Jinxland in
his place. So he advanced boldly to the royal castle and
demanded admittance.

Seeing that he was a stranger, the soldiers allowed him
to enter. He made his way straight to the throne room,
where at that time his Majesty was settling the disputes
among his subjects.

“Who are you?” demanded the King.

“I’m the Scarecrow of Oz, and I command you to
surrender yourself my prisoner.”

“Why should I do that? ” inquired the King, much
astonished at the straw man’s audacity.

“Because I’ve decided you are too cruel a King to rule
so beautiful a country. You must remember that Jinxland
is a part of Oz, and therefore you owe allegiance to Ozma
of Oz, whose friend and servant I am.”

Now, when he heard this, King Krewl was much disturbed
in mind, for he knew the Scarecrow spoke the truth. But
no one had ever before come to Jinxland from the Land of
Oz and the King did not intend to be put out of his
throne if he could help it. Therefore he gave a harsh,
wicked laugh of derision and said:

“I’m busy, now. Stand out of my way, Scarecrow, and
I’ll talk with you by and by.”

But the Scarecrow turned to the assembled courtiers and
people and called in a loud voice:

“I hereby declare, in the name of Ozma of Oz, that this
man is no longer ruler of Jinxland. From this moment
Princess Gloria is your rightful Queen, and I ask all of
you to be loyal to her and to obey her commands.”

The people looked fearfully at the King, whom they all
hated in their hearts, but likewise feared. Krewl was now
in a terrible rage and he raised his golden sceptre and
struck the Scarecrow so heavy a blow that he fell to the
floor.

But he was up again, in an instant, and with Pon’s
riding-whip he switched the King so hard that the wicked
monarch roared with pain as much as with rage, calling on
his soldiers to capture the Scarecrow.

They tried to do that, and thrust their lances and
swords into the straw body, but without doing any damage
except to make holes in the Scarecrow’s clothes. However,
they were many against one and finally old Googly-Goo
brought a rope which he wound around the Scarecrow,
binding his legs together and his arms to his sides, and
after that the fight was over.

The King stormed and danced around in a dreadful fury,
for he had never been so switched since he was a boy —
and perhaps not then. He ordered the Scarecrow thrust
into the castle prison, which was no task at all because
one man could carry him easily, bound. as he was.

Even after the prisoner was removed the King could not
control his anger. He tried to figure out some way to be
revenged upon the straw man, but could think of nothing
that could hurt him. At last, when the terrified people
and the frightened courtiers had all slunk away, old
Googly-Goo approached the king with a malicious grin upon
his face.

“I’ll tell you what to do,” said he. “Build a big
bonfire and burn the Scarecrow up, and that will be the
end of him.”

The King was so delighted with this suggestion that he
hugged old Googly-Goo in his joy

“Of course!” he cried. “The very thing. Why did I not
think of it myself?”

So he summoned his soldiers and retainers and bade them
prepare a great bonfire in an open space in the castle
park. Also he sent word to all his people to assemble and
witness the destruction of the Scarecrow who had dared to
defy his power. Before long a vast throng gathered in the
park and the servants had heaped up enough fuel to make a
fire that might be seen for miles away — even in the
daytime.

When all was prepared, the King had his throne brought
out for him to sit upon and enjoy the spectacle, and then
he sent his soldiers to fetch the Scarecrow.

Now the one thing in all the world that the straw man
really feared was fire. He knew he would burn very easily
and that his ashes wouldn’t amount to much afterward. It
wouldn’t hurt him to be destroyed in such a manner, but
he realized that many people in the Land of Oz, and
especially Dorothy and the Royal Ozma, would feel sad if
they learned that their old friend the Scarecrow was no
longer in existence.

In spite of this, the straw man was brave and faced his
fiery fate like a hero. When they marched him out before
the concourse of people he turned to the King with great
calmness and said:

“This wicked deed will cost you your throne, as well as
much suffering, for my friends will avenge my
destruction.”

“Your friends are not here, nor will they know what I
have done to you, when you are gone and can-not tell
them,” answered the King in a scornful voice.

Then he ordered the Scarecrow bound to a stout stake
that he had had driven into the ground, and the materials
for the fire were heaped all around him. When this had
been done, the King’s brass band struck up a lively tune
and old Googly-Goo came forward with a lighted match and
set fire to the pile.

At once the flames shot up and crept closer and closer
toward the Scarecrow. The King and all his people were so
intent upon this terrible spectacle that none of them
noticed how the sky grew suddenly dark. Perhaps they
thought that the loud buzzing sound — like the noise of
a dozen moving railway trains — came from the blazing
fagots; that the rush of wind was merely a breeze. But
suddenly down swept a flock of Orks, half a hundred of
them at the least, and the powerful currents of air
caused by their revolving tails sent the bonfire
scattering in every direction, so that not one burning
brand ever touched the Scarecrow.

But that was not the only effect of this sudden
tornado. King Krewl was blown out of his throne and went
tumbling heels over head until he landed with a bump
against the stone wall of his own castle, and before he
could rise a big Ork sat upon him and held him pressed
flat to the ground. Old Googly-Goo shot up into the air
like a rocket and landed on a tree, where he hung by the
middle on a high limb, kicking the air with his feet and
clawing the air with his hands, and howling for mercy
like the coward he was.

The people pressed back until they were jammed close
together, while all the soldiers were knocked over and
sent sprawling to the earth. The excitement was great for
a few minutes, and every frightened inhabitant of
Jinxland looked with awe and amazement at the great Orks
whose descent had served to rescue the Scarecrow and
conquer King Krewl at one and the same time.

The Ork, who was the leader of the band, soon had the
Scarecrow free of his bonds. Then he said: “Well, we were
just in time to save you, which is better than being a
minute too late. You are now the master here, and we are
determined to see your orders obeyed.”

With this the Ork picked up Krewl’s golden crown, which
had fallen off his head, and placed it upon the head of
the Scarecrow, who in his awkward way then shuffled over
to the throne and sat down in it.

Seeing this, a rousing cheer broke from the crowd of
people, who tossed their hats and waved their
handkerchiefs and hailed the Scarecrow as their King. The
soldiers joined the people in the cheering, for now they
fully realized that their hated master was conquered and
it would be wise to show their good will to the
conqueror. Some of them bound Krewl with ropes and
dragged him forward, dumping his body on the ground
before the Scarecrow’s throne. Googly-Goo struggled until
he finally slid off the limb of the tree and came
tumbling to the ground. He then tried to sneak away and
escape, but the soldiers seized and bound him beside
Krewl.

“The tables are turned,” said the Scarecrow, swelling
out his chest until the straw within it crackled
pleasantly, for he was highly pleased; “but it was you
and your people who did it, friend Ork, and from this
time you may count me your humble servant.”

 

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