FictionForest

Chapter 4 – Among the Winkies

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

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The settled parts of the Winkie Country are full of happy and
contented people who are ruled by a tin Emperor named Nick Chopper,
who in turn is a subject of the beautiful girl Ruler, Ozma of Oz. But
not all of the Winkie Country is fully settled. At the east, which
part lies nearest the Emerald City, there are beautiful farmhouses and
roads, but as you travel west, you first come to a branch of the
Winkie River, beyond which there is a rough country where few people
live, and some of these are quite unknown to the rest of the world.
After passing through this rude section of territory, which no one
ever visits, you would come to still another branch of the Winkie
River, after crossing which you would find another well-settled part
of the Winkie Country extending westward quite to the Deadly Desert
that surrounds all the Land of Oz and separates that favored fairyland
from the more common outside world. The Winkies who live in this west
section have many tin mines, from which metal they make a great deal
of rich jewelry and other articles, all of which are highly esteemed
in the Land of Oz because tin is so bright and pretty and there is not
so much of it as there is of gold and silver.

Not all the Winkies are miners, however, for some till the fields and
grow grains for food, and it was at one of these far-west Winkie farms
that the Frogman and Cayke the Cookie Cook first arrived after they
had descended from the mountain of the Yips. “Goodness me!” cried
Nellary the Winkie wife when she saw the strange couple approaching
her house. “I have seen many queer creatures in the Land of Oz, but
none more queer than this giant frog who dresses like a man and walks
on his hind legs. Come here, Wiljon,” she called to her husband, who
was eating his breakfast, “and take a look at this astonishing freak.”

Wiljon the Winkie came to the door and looked out. He was still
standing in the doorway when the Frogman approached and said with a
haughty croak, “Tell me, my good man, have you seen a diamond-studded
gold dishpan?”

“No, nor have I seen a copper-plated lobster,” replied Wiljon in an
equally haughty tone.

The Frogman stared at him and said, “Do not be insolent, fellow!”

“No,” added Cayke the Cookie Cook hastily, “you must be very polite to
the great Frogman, for he is the wisest creature in all the world.”

“Who says that?” inquired Wiljon.

“He says so himself,” replied Cayke, and the Frogman nodded and
strutted up and down, twirling his gold-headed cane very gracefully.

“Does the Scarecrow admit that this overgrown frog is the wisest
creature in the world?” asked Wiljon.

“I do not know who the Scarecrow is,” answered Cayke the Cookie Cook.

“Well, he lives at the Emerald City, and he is supposed to have the
finest brains in all Oz. The Wizard gave them to him, you know.”

“Mine grew in my head,” said the Frogman pompously, “so I think they
must be better than any wizard brains. I am so wise that sometimes my
wisdom makes my head ache. I know so much that often I have to forget
part of it, since no one creature, however great, is able to contain
so much knowledge.”

“It must be dreadful to be stuffed full of wisdom,” remarked Wiljon
reflectively and eyeing the Frogman with a doubtful look. “It is my
good fortune to know very little.”

“I hope, however, you know where my jeweled dishpan is,” said the
Cookie Cook anxiously.

“I do not know even that,” returned the Winkie.”We have trouble
enough in keeping track of our own dishpans without meddling with the
dishpans of strangers.”

Finding him so ignorant, the Frogman proposed that they walk on and
seek Cayke’s dishpan elsewhere. Wiljon the Winkie did not seem
greatly impressed by the great Frogman, which seemed to that personage
as strange as it was disappointing. But others in this unknown land
might prove more respectful.

“I’d like to meet that Wizard of Oz,” remarked Cayke as they walked
along a path. “If he could give a Scarecrow brains, he might be able
to find my dishpan.”

“Poof!” grunted the Frogman scornfully. “I am greater than any
wizard. Depend on ME. If your dishpan is anywhere in the world, I am
sure to find it.”

“If you do not, my heart will be broken,” declared the Cookie Cook in
a sorrowful voice.

For a while the Frogman walked on in silence. Then he asked, “Why do
you attach so much importance to a dishpan?”

“It is the greatest treasure I possess,” replied the woman. “It
belonged to my mother and to all my grandmothers since the beginning
of time. It is, I believe, the very oldest thing in all the Yip
Country–or was while it was there–and,” she added, dropping her
voice to an awed whisper, “it has magic powers!”

“In what way?” inquired the Frogman, seeming to be surprised at this
statement.

“Whoever has owned that dishpan has been a good cook, for one thing.
No one else is able to make such good cookies as I have cooked, as you
and all the Yips know. Yet the very morning after my dishpan was
stolen, I tried to make a batch of cookies and they burned up in the
oven! I made another batch that proved too tough to eat, and I was so
ashamed of them that I buried them in the ground. Even the third
batch of cookies, which I brought with me in my basket, were pretty
poor stuff and no better than any woman could make who does not own my
diamond-studded gold dishpan. In fact, my good Frogman, Cayke the
Cookie Cook will never be able to cook good cookies again until her
magic dishpan is restored to her.”

“In that case,” said the Frogman with a sigh, “I suppose we must
manage to find it.”

 

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