FictionForest

Chapter 3 – Of Cayke the Cookie Cook

L. Frank BaumOct 05, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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One more important theft was reported in the Land of Oz that eventful
morning, but it took place so far from either the Emerald City or the
castle of Glinda the Good that none of those persons we have mentioned
learned of the robbery until long afterward.

In the far southwestern corner of the Winkie Country is a broad
tableland that can be reached only by climbing a steep hill, whichever
side one approaches it. On the hillside surrounding this tableland
are no paths at all, but there are quantities of bramble bushes with
sharp prickers on them, which prevent any of the Oz people who live
down below from climbing up to see what is on top. But on top live
the Yips, and although the space they occupy is not great in extent,
the wee country is all their own. The Yips had never–up to the time
this story begins–left their broad tableland to go down into the Land
of Oz, nor had the Oz people ever climbed up to the country of the
Yips.

Living all alone as they did, the Yips had queer ways and notions of
their own and did not resemble any other people of the Land of Oz.
Their houses were scattered all over the flat surface; not like a
city, grouped together, but set wherever their owners’ fancy dictated,
with fields here, trees there, and odd little paths connecting the
houses one with another. It was here, on the morning when Ozma so
strangely disappeared from the Emerald City, that Cayke the Cookie
Cook discovered that her diamond-studded gold dishpan had been stolen,
and she raised such a hue and cry over her loss and wailed and
shrieked so loudly that many of the Yips gathered around her house to
inquire what was the matter.

It was a serious thing in any part of the Land of Oz to accuse one of
stealing, so when the Yips heard Cayke the Cookie Cook declare that
her jeweled dishpan had been stolen, they were both humiliated and
disturbed and forced Cayke to go with them to the Frogman to see what
could be done about it. I do not suppose you have ever before heard
of the Frogman, for like all other dwellers on that tableland, he had
never been away from it, nor had anyone come up there to see him. The
Frogman was in truth descended from the common frogs of Oz, and when
he was first born he lived in a pool in the Winkie Country and was
much like any other frog. Being of an adventurous nature, however, he
soon hopped out of his pool and began to travel, when a big bird came
along and seized him in its beak and started to fly away with him to
its nest. When high in the air, the frog wriggled so frantically that
he got loose and fell down, down, down into a small hidden pool on the
tableland of the Yips. Now that pool, it seems, was unknown to the
Yips because it was surrounded by thick bushes and was not near to any
dwelling, and it proved to be an enchanted pool, for the frog grew
very fast and very big, feeding on the magic skosh which is found
nowhere else on earth except in that one pool. And the skosh not only
made the frog very big so that when he stood on his hind legs he was
as tall as any Yip in the country, but it made him unusually
intelligent, so that he soon knew more than the Yips did and was able
to reason and to argue very well indeed.

No one could expect a frog with these talents to remain in a hidden
pool, so he finally got out of it and mingled with the people of the
tableland, who were amazed at his appearance and greatly impressed by
his learning. They had never seen a frog before, and the frog had
never seen a Yip before, but as there were plenty of Yips and only one
frog, the frog became the most important. He did not hop any more,
but stood upright on his hind legs and dressed himself in fine clothes
and sat in chairs and did all the things that people do, so he soon
came to be called the Frogman, and that is the only name he has ever
had. After some years had passed, the people came to regard the
Frogman as their adviser in all matters that puzzled them. They
brought all their difficulties to him, and when he did not know
anything, he pretended to know it, which seemed to answer just as
well. Indeed, the Yips thought the Frogman was much wiser than he
really was, and he allowed them to think so, being very proud of his
position of authority.

There was another pool on the tableland which was not enchanted but
contained good, clear water and was located close to the dwellings.
Here the people built the Frogman a house of his own, close to the
edge of the pool so that he could take a bath or a swim whenever he
wished. He usually swam in the pool in the early morning before
anyone else was up, and during the day he dressed himself in his
beautiful clothes and sat in his house and received the visits of all
the Yips who came to him to ask his advice. The Frogman’s usual
costume consisted of knee-breeches made of yellow satin plush, with
trimmings of gold braid and jeweled knee-buckles; a white satin vest
with silver buttons in which were set solitaire rubies; a
swallow-tailed coat of bright yellow; green stockings and red leather
shoes turned up at the toes and having diamond buckles. He wore, when
he walked out, a purple silk hat and carried a gold-headed cane. Over
his eyes he wore great spectacles with gold rims, not because his eyes
were bad, but because the spectacles made him look wise, and so
distinguished and gorgeous was his appearance that all the Yips were
very proud of him.

There was no King or Queen in the Yip Country, so the simple
inhabitants naturally came to look upon the Frogman as their leader as
well as their counselor in all times of emergency. In his heart the
big frog knew he was no wiser than the Yips, but for a frog to know as
much as a person was quite remarkable, and the Frogman was shrewd
enough to make the people believe he was far more wise than he really
was. They never suspected he was a humbug, but listened to his words
with great respect and did just what he advised them to do.

Now when Cayke the Cookie Cook raised such an outcry over the theft of
her diamond-studded dishpan, the first thought of the people was to
take her to the Frogman and inform him of the loss, thinking that of
course he would tell her where to find it. He listened to the story
with his big eyes wide open behind his spectacles, and said in his
deep, croaking voice, “If the dishpan is stolen, somebody must have
taken it.”

“But who?”asked Cayke anxiously. “Who is the thief?”

“The one who took the dishpan, of course,” replied the Frogman, and
hearing this all the Yips nodded their heads gravely and said to one
another, “It is absolutely true!”

“But I want my dishpan!” cried Cayke.

“No one can blame you for that wish,” remarked the Frogman.

“Then tell me where I may find it,” she urged.

The look the Frogman gave her was a very wise look, and he rose from
his chair and strutted up and down the room with his hands under his
coattails in a very pompous and imposing manner. This was the first
time so difficult a matter had been brought to him, and he wanted time
to think. It would never do to let them suspect his ignorance, and so
he thought very, very hard how best to answer the woman without
betraying himself. “I beg to inform you,” said he, “that nothing in
the Yip Country has ever been stolen before.”

“We know that already,” answered Cayke the Cookie Cook impatiently.

“Therefore,” continued the Frogman, “this theft
becomes a very important matter.”

“Therefore,” continued the Frogman, “this theft becomes a very
important matter.”

“Well, where is my dishpan?” demanded the woman.

“It is lost, but it must be found. Unfortunately, we have no
policemen or detectives to unravel the mystery, so we must employ
other means to regain the lost article. Cayke must first write a
Proclamation and tack it to the door of her house, and the
Proclamation must read that whoever stole the jeweled dishpan must
return it at once.”

“But suppose no one returns it,” suggested Cayke.

“Then,” said the Frogman, “that very fact will be proof that no one
has stolen it.”

Cayke was not satisfied, but the other Yips seemed to approve the plan
highly. They all advised her to do as the Frogman had told her to, so
she posted the sign on her door and waited patiently for someone to
return the dishpan–which no one ever did. Again she went,
accompanied by a group of her neighbors, to the Frogman, who by this
time had given the matter considerable thought. Said he to Cayke, “I
am now convinced that no Yip has taken your dishpan, and since it is
gone from the Yip Country, I suspect that some stranger came from the
world down below us in the darkness of night when all of us were
asleep and took away your treasure. There can be no other explanation
of its disappearance. So if you wish to recover that golden,
diamond-studded dishpan, you must go into the lower world after it.”

This was indeed a startling proposition. Cayke and her friends went
to the edge of the flat tableland and looked down the steep hillside
to the plains below. It was so far to the bottom of the hill that
nothing there could be seen very distinctly, and it seemed to the Yips
very venturesome, if not dangerous, to go so far from home into an
unknown land. However, Cayke wanted her dishpan very badly, so she
turned to her friends and asked, “Who will go with me?”

No one answered the question, but after a period of silence one of the
Yips said, “We know what is here on the top of this flat hill, and it
seems to us a very pleasant place, but what is down below we do not
know. The chances are it is not so pleasant, so we had best stay
where we are.”

“It may be a far better country than this is,” suggested the Cookie
Cook.

“Maybe, maybe,” responded another Yip, “but why take chances?
Contentment with one’s lot is true wisdom.

Perhaps in some other country there are better cookies than you cook,
but as we have always eaten your cookies and liked them–except when
they are burned on the bottom–we do not long for any better ones.”

Cayke might have agreed to this argument had she not been so anxious
to find her precious dishpan, but now she exclaimed impatiently, “You
are cowards, all of you! If none of you are willing to explore with
me the great world beyond this small hill, I will surely go alone.”

“That is a wise resolve,” declared the Yips, much relieved. “It is
your dishpan that is lost, not ours. And if you are willing to risk
your life and liberty to regain it, no one can deny you the
privilege.”

While they were thus conversing, the Frogman joined them and looked
down at the plain with his big eyes and seemed unusually thoughtful.
In fact, the Frogman was thinking that he’d like to see more of the
world. Here in the Yip Country he had become the most important
creature of them all, and his importance was getting to be a little
tame. It would be nice to have other people defer to him and ask his
advice, and there seemed no reason so far as he could see why his fame
should not spread throughout all Oz. He knew nothing of the rest of
the world, but it was reasonable to believe that there were more
people beyond the mountain where he now lived than there were Yips,
and if he went among them he could surprise them with his display of
wisdom and make them bow down to him as the Yips did. In other words,
the Frogman was ambitious to become still greater than he was, which
was impossible if he always remained upon this mountain. He wanted
others to see his gorgeous clothes and listen to his solemn sayings,
and here was an excuse for him to get away from the Yip Country. So
he said to Cayke the Cookie Cook, “I will go with you, my good woman,”
which greatly pleased Cayke because she felt the Frogman could be of
much assistance to her in her search.

But now, since the mighty Frogman had decided to undertake the
journey, several of the Yips who were young and daring at once made up
their minds to go along, so the next morning after breakfast the
Frogman and Cayke the Cookie Cook and nine of the Yips started to
slide down the side of the mountain. The bramble bushes and cactus
plants were very prickly and uncomfortable to the touch, so the
Frogman quickly commanded the Yips to go first and break a path, so
that when he followed them he would not tear his splendid clothes.
Cayke, too, was wearing her best dress and was likewise afraid of the
thorns and prickers, so she kept behind the Frogman.

They made rather slow progress and night overtook them before they
were halfway down the mountainside, so they found a cave in which they
sought shelter until morning. Cayke had brought along a basket full
of her famous cookies, so they all had plenty to eat. On the second
day the Yips began to wish they had not embarked on this adventure.
They grumbled a good deal at having to cut away the thorns to make the
path for the Frogman and the Cookie Cook, for their own clothing
suffered many tears, while Cayke and the Frogman traveled safely and
in comfort.

“If it is true that anyone came to our country to steal your diamond
dishpan,” said one of the Yips to Cayke, “it must have been a bird,
for no person in the form of a man, woman or child could have climbed
through these bushes and back again.”

“And, allowing he could have done so,” said another Yip, “the
diamond-studded gold dishpan would not have repaid him for his
troubles and his tribulations.”

“For my part,” remarked a third Yip, “I would rather go back home and
dig and polish some more diamonds and mine some more gold and make you
another dishpan than be scratched from head to heel by these dreadful
bushes. Even now, if my mother saw me, she would not know I am her
son.”

Cayke paid no heed to these mutterings, nor did the Frogman. Although
their journey was slow, it was being made easy for them by the Yips,
so they had nothing to complain of and no desire to turn back. Quite
near to the bottom of the great hill they came upon a great gulf, the
sides of which were as smooth as glass. The gulf extended a long
distance–as far as they could see in either direction–and although
it was not very wide, it was far too wide for the Yips to leap across
it. And should they fall into it, it was likely they might never get
out again. “Here our journey ends,” said the Yips. “We must go back
again.”

Cayke the Cookie Cook began to weep.

“I shall never find my pretty dishpan again, and my heart will be broken!”
she sobbed.

The Frogman went to the edge of the gulf and with his eye carefully
measured the distance to the other side. “Being a frog,” said he, “I
can leap, as all frogs do, and being so big and strong, I am sure I
can leap across this gulf with ease. But the rest of you, not being
frogs, must return the way you came.”

“We will do that with pleasure,” cried the Yips, and at once they
turned and began to climb up the steep mountain, feeling they had had
quite enough of this unsatisfactory adventure. Cayke the Cookie Cook
did not go with them, however. She sat on a rock and wept and wailed
and was very miserable.

“Well,” said the Frogman to her, “I will now bid you goodbye. If I
find your diamond-decorated gold dishpan, I will promise to see that
it is safely returned to you.”

“But I prefer to find it myself!” she said. “See here, Frogman, why
can’t you carry me across the gulf when you leap it? You are big and
strong, while I am small and thin.”

The Frogman gravely thought over this suggestion. It was a fact that
Cayke the Cookie Cook was not a heavy person. Perhaps he could leap
the gulf with her on his back. “If you are willing to risk a fall,”
said he, “I will make the attempt.”

At once she sprang up and grabbed him around his neck with both her
arms. That is, she grabbed him where his neck ought to be, for the
Frogman had no neck at all. Then he squatted down, as frogs do when
they leap, and with his powerful rear legs he made a tremendous jump.
Over the gulf they sailed, with the Cookie Cook on his back, and he
had leaped so hard–to make sure of not falling in–that he sailed
over a lot of bramble bushes that grew on the other side and landed in
a clear space which was so far beyond the gulf that when they looked
back they could not see it at all.

Cayke now got off the Frogman’s back and he stood erect again and
carefully brushed the dust from his velvet coat and rearranged his white
satin necktie.

“I had no idea I could leap so far,” he said wonderingly. “Leaping is
one more accomplishment I can now add to the long list of deeds I am
able to perform.”

“You are certainly fine at leap-frog,” said the Cookie Cook
admiringly, “but, as you say, you are wonderful in many ways. If we
meet with any people down here, I am sure they will consider you the
greatest and grandest of all living creatures.”

“Yes,” he replied, “I shall probably astonish strangers, because they
have never before had the pleasure of seeing me. Also, they will
marvel at my great learning. Every time I open my mouth, Cayke, I am
liable to say something important.”

“That is true,” she agreed, “and it is fortunate your mouth is so very
wide and opens so far, for otherwise all the wisdom might not be able
to get out of it.”
“Perhaps nature made it wide for that very reason,” said the Frogman.
“But come, let us now go on, for it is getting late and we must find
some sort of shelter before night overtakes us.”

 

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