FictionForest

Chapter 7 – The Merry-Go-Round Mountains

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

Light off Small Medium Large

The Rolling Prairie was not difficult to travel over, although it was
all uphill and downhill, so for a while they made good progress. Not
even a shepherd was to be met with now, and the farther they advanced
the more dreary the landscape became. At noon they stopped for a
“picnic luncheon,” as Betsy called it, and then they again resumed
their journey. All the animals were swift and tireless, and even the
Cowardly Lion and the Mule found they could keep up with the pace of
the Woozy and the Sawhorse.

It was the middle of the afternoon when first they came in sight of a
cluster of low mountains. These were cone-shaped, rising from broad
bases to sharp peaks at the tops. From a distance the mountains
appeared indistinct and seemed rather small–more like hills than
mountains–but as the travelers drew nearer, they noted a most unusual
circumstance: the hills were all whirling around, some in one
direction and some the opposite way.

“I guess these are the Merry-Go-Round Mountains, all right,” said
Dorothy.

“They must be,” said the Wizard.

“They go ’round, sure enough,” agreed Trot, “but they don’t seem very
merry.”

There were several rows of these mountains, extending both to the
right and to the left for miles and miles. How many rows there might
be none could tell, but between the first row of peaks could be seen
other peaks, all steadily whirling around one way or another.
Continuing to ride nearer, our friends watched these hills
attentively, until at last, coming close up, they discovered there was
a deep but narrow gulf around the edge of each mountain, and that the
mountains were set so close together that the outer gulf was
continuous and barred farther advance. At the edge of the gulf they
all dismounted and peered over into its depths. There was no telling
where the bottom was, if indeed there was any bottom at all. From
where they stood it seemed as if the mountains had been set in one
great hole in the ground, just close enough together so they would not
touch, and that each mountain was supported by a rocky column beneath
its base which extended far down in the black pit below. From the
land side it seemed impossible to get across the gulf or, succeeding
in that, to gain a foothold on any of the whirling mountains.

“This ditch is too wide to jump across,” remarked Button-Bright.

“P’raps the Lion could do it,” suggested Dorothy.

“What, jump from here to that whirling hill?” cried the Lion
indignantly. “I should say not! Even if I landed there and could
hold on, what good would it do? There’s another spinning mountain
beyond it, and perhaps still another beyond that. I don’t believe any
living creature could jump from one mountain to another when both are
whirling like tops and in different directions.”

“I propose we turn back,” said the Wooden Sawhorse with a yawn of his
chopped-out mouth as he stared with his knot eyes at the
Merry-Go-Round Mountains.

“I agree with you,” said the Woozy, wagging his square head.

“We should have taken the shepherd’s advice,” added Hank the Mule.

The others of the party, however they might be puzzled by the serious
problem that confronted them, would not allow themselves to despair.
“If we once get over these mountains,” said Button-Bright, “we could
probably get along all right.”

“True enough,” agreed Dorothy. “So we must find some way, of course,
to get past these whirligig hills. But how?”

“I wish the Ork was with us,” sighed Trot.

“But the Ork isn’t here,” said the Wizard, “and we must depend upon
ourselves to conquer this difficulty. Unfortunately, all my magic has
been stolen, otherwise I am sure I could easily get over the
mountains.”

“Unfortunately,” observed the Woozy, “none of us has wings. And we’re
in a magic country without any magic.”

“What is that around your waist, Dorothy?” asked the Wizard.

“That? Oh, that’s just the Magic Belt I once captured from the Nome
King,” she replied.

“A Magic Belt! Why, that’s fine. I’m sure a Magic Belt would take
you over these hills.”

“It might if I knew how to work it,” said the little girl. “Ozma
knows a lot of its magic, but I’ve never found out about it. All I
know is that while I am wearing it, nothing can hurt me.”

“Try wishing yourself across and see if it will obey you,” suggested
the Wizard.

“But what good would that do?” asked Dorothy. “If I got across, it
wouldn’t help the rest of you, and I couldn’t go alone among all those
giants and dragons while you stayed here.”

“True enough,” agreed the Wizard sadly. And then, after looking
around the group, he inquired, “What is that on your finger, Trot?”

“A ring. The Mermaids gave it to me,” she explained, “and if ever I’m
in trouble when I’m on the water, I can call the Mermaids and they’ll
come and help me. But the Mermaids can’t help me on the land, you
know, ’cause they swim, and–and–they haven’t any legs.”

“True enough,” repeated the Wizard, more sadly.

There was a big, broad, spreading tree near the edge of the gulf, and
as the sun was hot above them, they all gathered under the shade of
the tree to study the problem of what to do next. “If we had a long
rope,” said Betsy, “we could fasten it to this tree and let the other
end of it down into the gulf and all slide down it.”

“Well, what then?” asked the Wizard.

“Then, if we could manage to throw the rope up the other side,”
explained the girl, “we could all climb it and be on the other side of
the gulf.”

“There are too many ‘if’s’ in that suggestion,” remarked the little
Wizard. “And you must remember that the other side is nothing but
spinning mountains, so we couldn’t possibly fasten a rope to them,
even if we had one.”

“That rope idea isn’t half bad, though,” said the Patchwork Girl, who
had been dancing dangerously near to the edge of the gulf.

“What do you mean?” asked Dorothy.

The Patchwork Girl suddenly stood still and cast her button eyes
around the group. “Ha, I have it!” she exclaimed. “Unharness the
Sawhorse, somebody. My fingers are too clumsy.”

“Shall we?” asked Button-Bright doubtfully, turning to the others.

“Well, Scraps has a lot of brains, even if she IS stuffed with
cotton,” asserted the Wizard. “If her brains can help us out of this
trouble, we ought to use them.”

So he began unharnessing the Sawhorse, and Button-Bright and Dorothy
helped him. When they had removed the harness, the Patchwork Girl
told them to take it all apart and buckle the straps together, end to
end. And after they had done this, they found they had one very long
strap that was stronger than any rope. “It would reach across the
gulf easily,” said the Lion, who with the other animals had sat on his
haunches and watched this proceeding. “But I don’t see how it could
be fastened to one of those dizzy mountains.”

Scraps had no such notion as that in her baggy head. She told them to
fasten one end of the strap to a stout limb of the tree, pointing to
one which extended quite to the edge of the gulf. Button-Bright did
that, climbing the tree and then crawling out upon the limb until he
was nearly over the gulf. There he managed to fasten the strap, which
reached to the ground below, and then he slid down it and was caught
by the Wizard, who feared he might fall into the chasm. Scraps was
delighted. She seized the lower end of the strap, and telling them
all to get out of her way, she went back as far as the strap would
reach and then made a sudden run toward the gulf. Over the edge she
swung, clinging to the strap until it had gone as far as its length
permitted, when she let go and sailed gracefully through the air until
she alighted upon the mountain just in front of them.

Almost instantly, as the great cone continued to whirl, she was sent
flying against the next mountain in the rear, and that one had only
turned halfway around when Scraps was sent flying to the next mountain
behind it. Then her patchwork form disappeared from view entirely,
and the amazed watchers under the tree wondered what had become of
her. “She’s gone, and she can’t get back,” said the Woozy.

“My, how she bounded from one mountain to another!” exclaimed the
Lion.

“That was because they whirl so fast,” the Wizard explained. “Scraps
had nothing to hold on to, and so of course she was tossed from one
hill to another. I’m afraid we shall never see the poor Patchwork
Girl again.”

“I shall see her,” declared the Woozy. “Scraps is an old friend of
mine, and if there are really Thistle-Eaters and Giants on the other
side of those tops, she will need someone to protect her. So here I
go!” He seized the dangling strap firmly in his square mouth, and in
the same way that Scraps had done swung himself over the gulf. He let
go the strap at the right moment and fell upon the first whirling
mountain. Then he bounded to the next one back of it–not on his
feet, but “all mixed up,” as Trot said–and then he shot across to
another mountain, disappearing from view just as the Patchwork Girl
had done.

“It seems to work, all right,” remarked Button-Bright. “I guess I’ll
try it.”

“Wait a minute,” urged the Wizard. “Before any more of us make this
desperate leap into the beyond, we must decide whether all will go or
if some of us will remain behind.”

“Do you s’pose it hurt them much to bump against those mountains?”
asked Trot.

“I don’t s’pose anything could hurt Scraps or the Woozy,” said
Dorothy, “and nothing can hurt ME, because I wear the Magic Belt. So
as I’m anxious to find Ozma, I mean to swing myself across too.”

“I’ll take my chances,” decided Button-Bright.

“I’m sure it will hurt dreadfully, and I’m afraid to do it,” said the
Lion, who was already trembling, “but I shall do it if Dorothy does.”

“Well, that will leave Betsy and the Mule and Trot,” said the Wizard,
“for of course I shall go that I may look after Dorothy. Do you two
girls think you can find your way back home again?” he asked,
addressing Trot and Betsy.

“I’m not afraid. Not much, that is,” said Trot. “It looks risky, I
know, but I’m sure I can stand it if the others can.”

“If it wasn’t for leaving Hank,” began Betsy in a hesitating voice.

But the Mule interrupted her by saying, “Go ahead if you want to, and
I’ll come after you. A mule is as brave as a lion any day.”

“Braver,” said the Lion, “for I’m a coward, friend Hank, and you are
not. But of course the Sawhorse–”

“Oh, nothing ever hurts ME,” asserted the Sawhorse calmly. “There’s
never been any question about my going. I can’t take the Red Wagon,
though.”

“No, we must leave the wagon,” said the wizard, “and also we must
leave our food and blankets, I fear. But if we can defy these
Merry-Go-Round Mountains to stop us, we won’t mind the sacrifice of
some of our comforts.”

“No one knows where we’re going to land!” remarked the Lion in a voice
that sounded as if he were going to cry.

“We may not land at all,” replied Hank, “but the best way to find out
what will happen to us is to swing across as Scraps and the Woozy have
done.”

“I think I shall go last,” said the Wizard, “so who wants to go
first?”

“I’ll go,” decided Dorothy.

“No, it’s my turn first,” said Button-Bright. “Watch me!”

Even as he spoke, the boy seized the strap, and after making a run
swung himself across the gulf. Away he went, bumping from hill to
hill until he disappeared. They listened intently, but the boy uttered
no cry until he had been gone some moments, when they heard a faint
Hullo-a!” as if called from a great distance. The sound gave them courage,
however, and Dorothy picked up Toto and held him fast under one arm
while with the other hand she seized the strap and bravely followed
after Button-Bright.

When she struck the first whirling mountain, she fell upon it quite
softly, but before she had time to think, she flew through the air and
lit with a jar on the side of the next mountain. Again she flew and
alighted, and again and still again, until after five successive bumps
she fell sprawling upon a green meadow and was so dazed and bewildered
by her bumpy journey across the Merry-Go-Round Mountains that she lay
quite still for a time to collect her thoughts. Toto had escaped from
her arms just as she fell, and he now sat beside her panting with
excitement. Then Dorothy realized that someone was helping her to her
feet, and here was Button-Bright on one side of her and Scraps on the
other, both seeming to be unhurt. The next object her eyes fell upon
was the Woozy, squatting upon his square back end and looking at her
reflectively, while Toto barked joyously to find his mistress unhurt
after her whirlwind trip.

“Good!”said the Woozy. “Here’s another and a dog, both safe and
sound. But my word, Dorothy, you flew some! If you could have seen
yourself, you’d have been absolutely astonished.”

“They say ‘Time flies,’20” laughed Button-Bright, “but Time never
made a quicker journey than that.”

Just then, as Dorothy turned around to look at the whirling mountains,
she was in time to see tiny Trot come flying from the nearest hill to
fall upon the soft grass not a yard away from where she stood. Trot
was so dizzy she couldn’t stand at first, but she wasn’t at all hurt,
and presently Betsy came flying to them and would have bumped into the
others had they not retreated in time to avoid her. Then, in quick
succession, came the Lion, Hank and the Sawhorse, bounding from
mountain to mountain to fall safely upon the greensward. Only the
Wizard was now left behind, and they waited so long for him that
Dorothy began to be worried.

But suddenly he came flying from the nearest mountain and
tumbled heels over head beside them. Then they saw that
he had wound two of their blankets around his body to keep
the bumps from hurting him and had fastened the blankets with some of
the spare straps from the harness of the Sawhorse.

 

Leave a Reply