FictionForest

Chapter 11 – Zella Goes to Coregos

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

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The forest in which Nikobob lived with his wife and
daughter stood between the mountains and the City of
Regos, and a well-beaten path wound among the trees,
leading from the city to the mines. This path was used
by the King’s messengers, and captured prisoners were
also sent by this way from Regos to work in the
underground caverns.

Nikobob had built his cabin more than a mile away
from this path, that he might not be molested by the
wild and lawless soldiers of King Gos, but the family
of the charcoal-burner was surrounded by many creatures
scarcely less dangerous to encounter, and often in the
night they could hear savage animals growling and
prowling about the cabin. Because Nikobob minded his
own business and never hunted the wild creatures to
injure them, the beasts had come to regard him as one
of the natural dwellers in the forest and did not
molest him or his family. Still Zella and her mother
seldom wandered far from home, except on such errands
as carrying honey to Coregos, and at these times
Nikobob cautioned them to be very careful.

So when Zella set out on her journey to Queen Cor,
with the two pails of honey in her hands, she was
undertaking a dangerous adventure and there was no
certainty that she would return safely to her loving
parents. But they were poor, and Queen Cor’s money,
which they expected to receive for the honey, would
enable them to purchase many things that were needed;
so it was deemed best that Zella should go. She was a
brave little girl and poor people are often obliged to
take chances that rich ones are spared.

A passing woodchopper had brought news to Nikobob’s
cabin that Queen Cor had made a prisoner of the
conquering Prince of Pingaree and that Gos and his
warriors were again back in their city of Regos; but
these struggles and conquests were matters which,
however interesting, did not concern the poor charcoal-
burner or his family. They were more anxious over the
report that the warriors had become more reckless than
ever before, and delighted in annoying all the common
people; so Zella was told to keep away from the beaten
path as much as possible, that she might not encounter
any of the King’s soldiers.

“When it is necessary to choose between the warriors
and the wild beasts,” said Nikobob, “the beasts will be
found the more merciful.”

The little girl had put on her best attire for the
journey and her mother threw a blue silk shawl over her
head and shoulders. Upon her feet were the pretty red
shoes her father had brought her from Regos. Thus
prepared, she kissed her parents good-bye and started
out with a light heart, carrying the pails of honey in
either hand.

It was necessary for Zella to cross the path
that led from the mines to the city, but once on
the other side she was not likely to meet with
anyone, for she had resolved to cut through the
forest and so reach the bridge of boats without
entering the City of Regos, where she might be
interrupted. For an hour or two she found the
walking easy enough, but then the forest, which
in this part was unknown to her, became badly
tangled. The trees were thicker and creeping
vines intertwined between them. She had to
turn this way and that to get through at all, and
finally she came to a place where a network of
vines and branches effectually barred her farther
progress.

Zella was dismayed, at first, when she encountered
this obstacle, but setting down her pails she made an
endeavor to push the branches aside. At her touch they
parted as if by magic, breaking asunder like dried
twigs, and she found she could pass freely. At another
place a great log had fallen across her way, but the
little girl lifted it easily and cast it aside,
although six ordinary men could scarcely have moved it.

The child was somewhat worried at this evidence of a
strength she had heretofore been ignorant that she
possessed. In order to satisfy herself that it was no
delusion, she tested her new-found power in many ways,
finding that nothing was too big nor too heavy for her
to lift. And, naturally enough, the girl gained courage
from these experiments and became confident that she
could protect herself in any emergency. When,
presently, a wild boar ran toward her, grunting
horribly and threatening her with its great tusks, she
did not climb a tree to escape, as she had always done
before on meeting such creatures, but stood still and
faced the boar. When it had come quite close and Zella
saw that it could not injure her — a fact that
astonished both the beast and the girl — she suddenly
reached down and seizing it by one ear threw the great
beast far off amongst the trees, where it fell headlong
to the earth, grunting louder than ever with surprise
and fear.

The girl laughed merrily at this incident and,
picking up her pails, resumed her journey through the
forest. It is not recorded whether the wild boar told
his adventure to the other beasts or they had happened
to witness his defeat, but certain it is that Zella was
not again molested. A brown bear watched her pass
without making any movement in her direction and a
great puma — a beast much dreaded by all men — crept
out of her path as she approached, and disappeared
among the trees.

Thus everything favored the girl’s journey and she
made such good speed that by noon she emerged from the
forest’s edge and found she was quite near to the
bridge of boats that led to Coregos. This she crossed
safely and without meeting any of the rude warriors she
so greatly feared, and five minutes later the daughter
of the charcoal-burner was seeking admittance at the
back door of Queen Cor’s palace.

 

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