FictionForest

Chapter 23 – The Land of Oz

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

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The straw man’s appearance on the water was so sudden
that it startled Trot, but Cap’n Bill had the presence of
mind to stick his wooden leg out over the water and the
Scarecrow made a desperate clutch and grabbed the leg
with both hands. He managed to hold on until Trot and
Button-Bright knelt down and seized his clothing, but the
children would have been powerless to drag the soaked
Scarecrow ashore had not Cap’n Bill now assisted them.
When they laid him on the ledge of rubies he was the most
useless looking Scarecrow you can imagine — his straw
sodden and dripping with water, his clothing wet and
crumpled, while even the sack upon which his face was
painted had become so wrinkled that the old jolly
expression of their stuffed friend’s features was
entirely gone. But he could still speak, and when Trot
bent down her ear she heard him say:

“Get me out of here as soon as you can.”

That seemed a wise thing to do, so Cap’n Bill lifted
his head and shoulders, and Trot and Button-Bright each
took a leg; among them they partly carried and partly
dragged the damp Scarecrow out of the Ruby Cavern, along
the tunnel, and up the flight of rock steps. It was
somewhat difficult to get him past the edge of the
waterfall, but they succeeded, after much effort, and a
few minutes later laid their poor comrade on a grassy
bank where the sun shone upon him freely and he was
beyond the reach of the spray.

Cap’n Bill now knelt down and examined the straw that
the Scarecrow was stuffed with.

“I don’t believe it’ll be of much use to him, any
more,” said he, “for it’s full of polliwogs an’ fish
eggs, an’ the water has took all the crinkle out o’ the
straw an ruined it. I guess, Trot, that the best thing
for us to do is to empty out all his body an’ carry his
head an’ clothes along the road till we come to a field
or a house where we can get some fresh straw.”

“Yes, Cap’n,” she agreed, “there’s nothing else to be
done. But how shall we ever find the road to Glinda’s
palace, without the Scarecrow to guide us?”

“That’s easy,” said the Scarecrow, speaking in a rather
feeble but distinct voice. “If Cap’n Bill will carry my
head on his shoulders, eyes front, I can tell him which
way to go.”

So they followed that plan and emptied all the old, wet
straw out of the Scarecrow’s body. Then the sailor-man
wrung out the clothes and laid them in the sun till they
were quite dry. Trot took charge of the head and pressed
the wrinkles out of the face as it dried, so that after a
while the Scarecrow’s expression became natural again,
and as jolly as before.

This work consumed some time, but when it was completed
they again started upon their journey, Button-Bright
carrying the boots and hat, Trot the bundle of clothes,
and Cap’n Bill the head. The Scarecrow, having regained
his composure and being now in a good humor, despite his
recent mishaps, beguiled their way with stories of the
Land of Oz.

It was not until the next morning, however, that they
found straw with which to restuff the Scarecrow. That
evening they came to the same little house they had slept
in before, only now it was magically transferred to a new
place. The same bountiful supper as before was found
smoking hot upon the table and the same cosy beds were
ready for them to sleep in.

They rose early and after breakfast went out of doors,
and there, lying just beside the house, was a heap of
clean, crisp straw. Ozma had noticed the Scarecrow’s
accident in her Magic Picture and had notified the Wizard
to provide the straw, for she knew the adventurers were
not likely to find straw in the country through which
they were now traveling.

They lost no time in stuffing the Scarecrow anew, and
he was greatly delighted at being able to walk around
again and to assume the leadership of the little party.

“Really,” said Trot, “I think you’re better than you
were before, for you are fresh and sweet all through and
rustle beautifully when you move.”

“Thank you, my dear,” he replied gratefully. “I always
feel like a new man when I’m freshly stuffed. No one
likes to get musty, you know, and even good straw may be
spoiled by age.”

“It was water that spoiled you, the last time,”
remarked Button-Bright, “which proves that too much
bathing is as bad as too little. But, after all,
Scarecrow, water is not as dangerous for you as fire.”

“All things are good in moderation,” declared the
Scarecrow. “But now, let us hurry on, or we shall not
reach Glinda’s palace by nightfall.”

 

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