FictionForest

Chapter 22 – The Waterfall

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

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Glinda’s castle was a long way from the mountains, but
the Scarecrow began the journey cheerfully, since time
was of no great importance in the Land of Oz and he had
recently made the trip and knew the way. It never
mattered much to Button-Bright where he was or what he
was doing; the boy was content in being alive and having
good companions to share his wanderings. As for Trot and
Cap’n Bill, they now found themselves so comfortable and
free from danger, in this fine fairyland, and they were
so awed and amazed by the adventures they were
encountering, that the journey to Glinda’s castle was
more like a pleasure trip than a hardship, so many
wonderful things were there to see.

Button-Bright had been in Oz before, but never in this
part of it, so the Scarecrow was the only one who knew
the paths and could lead them. They had eaten a hearty
breakfast, which they found already prepared for them and
awaiting them on the table when they arose from their
refreshing sleep, so they left the magic house in a
contented mood and with hearts lighter and more happy
than they had known for many a day. As they marched
along through the fields, the sun shone brightly and the
breeze was laden with delicious fragrance, for it carried
with it the breath of millions of wildflowers.

At noon, when they stopped to rest by the bank of a
pretty river, Trot said with a long-drawn breath that was
much like a sigh:

“I wish we’d brought with us some of the food that was
left from our breakfast, for I’m getting hungry again.”

Scarcely had she spoken when a table rose up before
them, as if from the ground itself, and it was loaded
with fruits and nuts and cakes and many other good things
to eat. The little girl’s eyes opened wide at this
display of magic, and Cap’n Bill was not sure that the
things were actually there and fit to eat until he had
taken them in his hand and tasted them. But the Scarecrow
said with a laugh:

“Someone is looking after your welfare, that is
certain, and from the looks of this table I suspect my
friend the Wizard has taken us in his charge. I’ve known
him to do things like this before, and if we are in the
Wizard’s care you need not worry about your future.”

“Who’s worrying?” inquired Button-Bright, already at
the table and busily eating.

The Scarecrow looked around the place while the others
were feasting, and finding many things unfamiliar to him
he shook his head and remarked:

“I must have taken the wrong path, back in that last
valley, for on my way to Jinxland I remember that I
passed around the foot of this river, where there was a
great waterfall.”

“Did the river make a bend, after the waterfall?” asked
Cap’n Bill.

“No, the river disappeared. Only a pool of whirling
water showed what had become of the river; but I suppose
it is under ground, somewhere, and will come to the
surface again in another part of the country.”

“Well,” suggested Trot, as she finished her luncheon,
“as there is no way to cross this river, I s’pose we’ll
have to find that waterfall, and go around it.”

“Exactly,” replied the Scarecrow; so they soon renewed
their journey, following the river for a long time until
the roar of the waterfall sounded in their ears. By and
by they came to the waterfall itself, a sheet of silver
dropping far, far down into a tiny lake which seemed to
have no outlet. From the top of the fall, where they
stood, the banks gradually sloped away, so that the
descent by land was quite easy, while the river could do
nothing but glide over an edge of rock and tumble
straight down to the depths below.

“You see,” said the Scarecrow, leaning over the brink,
“this is called by our Oz people the Great Waterfall,
because it is certainly the highest one in all the land;
but I think — Help!”

He had lost his balance and pitched headforemost into
the river. They saw a flash of straw and blue clothes,
and the painted face looking upward in surprise. The
next moment the Scarecrow was swept over the waterfall
and plunged into the basin below.

The accident had happened so suddenly that for a moment
they were all too horrified to speak or move.

“Quick! We must go to help him or he will be drowned,”
Trot exclaimed.

Even while speaking she began to descend the bank to
the pool below, and Cap’n Bill followed as swiftly as his
wooden leg would let him. Button-Bright came more slowly,
calling to the girl:

“He can’t drown, Trot; he’s a Scarecrow.”

But she wasn’t sure a Scarecrow couldn’t drown and
never relaxed her speed until she stood on the edge of
the pool, with the spray dashing in her face. Cap’n Bill,
puffing and panting, had just voice enough to ask, as he
reached her side:

“See him, Trot?”

“Not a speck of him. Oh, Cap’n, what do you s’pose has
become of him?”

“I s’pose,” replied the sailor, “that he’s in that
water, more or less far down, and I’m ‘fraid it’ll make
his straw pretty soggy. But as fer his bein’ drowned, I
agree with Button-Bright that it can’t be done.”

There was small comfort in this assurance and Trot
stood for some time searching with her eyes the bubbling
water, in the hope that the Scarecrow would finally come
to the surface. Presently she heard Button-Bright
calling: “Come here, Trot!” and looking around she saw
that the boy had crept over the wet rocks to the edge of
the waterfall and seemed to be peering behind it. Making
her way toward him, she asked:

“What do you see?”

“A cave,” he answered. “Let’s go in. P’r’aps we’ll find
the Scarecrow there.”

She was a little doubtful of that, but the cave
interested her, and so did it Cap’n Bill. There was just
space enough at the edge of the sheet of water for them
to crowd in behind it, but after that dangerous entrance
they found room enough to walk upright and after a time
they came to an opening in the wall of rock. Approaching
this opening, they gazed within it and found a series of
steps, cut so that they might easily descend into the
cavern.

Trot turned to look inquiringly at her companions. The
falling water made such din and roaring that her voice
could not be heard. Cap’n Bill nodded his head, but
before he could enter the cave, Button-Bright was before
him, clambering down the steps without a particle of
fear. So the others followed the boy.

The first steps were wet with spray, and slippery, but
the remainder were quite dry. A rosy light seemed to come
from the interior of the cave, and this lighted their
way. After the steps there was a short tunnel, high
enough for them to walk erect in. and then they reached
the cave itself and paused in wonder and admiration.

They stood on the edge of a vast cavern, the walls
and domed roof of which were lined with countless
rubies, exquisitely cut and flashing sparkling rays
from one to another. This caused a radiant light that
permitted the entire cavern to be distinctly seen, and
the effect was so marvelous that Trot drew in her
breath with a sort of a gasp, and stood quite still in
wonder.

But the walls and roof of the cavern were merely a
setting for a more wonderful scene. In the center was a
bubbling caldron of water, for here the river rose again,
splashing and dashing till its spray rose high in the
air, where it took the ruby color of the jewels and
seemed like a seething mass of flame. And while they
gazed into the tumbling, tossing water, the body of the
Scarecrow suddenly rose in the center, struggling and
kicking, and the next instant wholly disappeared from
view.

“My, but he’s wet!” exclaimed Button-Bright; but none
of the others heard him.

Trot and Cap’n Bill discovered that a broad ledge —
covered, like the walls, with glittering rubies — ran
all around the cavern; so they followed this gorgeous
path to the rear and found where the water made its final
dive underground, before it disappeared entirely. Where
it plunged into this dim abyss the river was black and
dreary looking, and they stood gazing in awe until just
beside them the body of the Scarecrow again popped up
from the water.

 

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