FictionForest

Chapter 1 – Woot the Wanderer

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

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The Tin Woodman sat on his glittering tin throne in the
handsome tin hall of his splendid tin castle in the
Winkie Country of the Land of Oz. Beside him, in a
chair of woven straw, sat his best friend, the
Scarecrow of Oz. At times they spoke to one another of
curious things they had seen and strange adventures
they had known since first they two had met and become
comrades. But at times they were silent, for these
things had been talked over many times between them,
and they found themselves contented in merely being
together, speaking now and then a brief sentence to
prove they were wide awake and attentive. But then,
these two quaint persons never slept. Why should they
sleep, when they never tired?

And now, as the brilliant sun sank low over the Winkie
Country of Oz, tinting the glistening tin towers and
tin minarets of the tin castle with glorious sunset
hues, there approached along a winding pathway Woot the
Wanderer, who met at the castle entrance a Winkie
servant.

The servants of the Tin Woodman all wore tin helmets
and tin breastplates and uniforms covered with tiny tin
discs sewed closely together on silver cloth, so that
their bodies sparkled as beautifully as did the tin
castle — and almost as beautifully as did the Tin
Woodman himself.

Woot the Wanderer looked at the man servant –all
bright and glittering — and at the magnificent castle
— all bright and glittering — and as he looked his
eyes grew big with wonder. For Woot was not very big
and not very old and, wanderer though he was, this
proved the most gorgeous sight that had ever met his
boyish gaze.

“Who lives here?” he asked.

“The Emperor of the Winkies, who is the famous Tin
Woodman of Oz,” replied the servant, who had been
trained to treat all strangers with courtesy.

“A Tin Woodman? How queer!” exclaimed the little
wanderer.

“Well, perhaps our Emperor is queer,” admitted the
servant; “but he is a kind master and as honest and
true as good tin can make him; so we, who gladly serve
him, are apt to forget that he is not like other
people.”

“May I see him?” asked Woot the Wanderer, after a
moment’s thought.

“If it please you to wait a moment, I will go and ask
him,” said the servant, and then he went into the hall
where the Tin Woodman sat with his friend the
Scarecrow. Both were glad to learn that a stranger had
arrived at the castle, for this would give them
something new to talk about, so the servant was asked
to admit the boy at once.

By the time Woot the Wanderer had passed through the
grand corridors — all lined with ornamental tin — and
under stately tin archways and through the many tin
rooms all set with beautiful tin furniture, his eyes
had grown bigger than ever and his whole little body
thrilled with amazement. But, astonished though he was,
he was able to make a polite bow before the throne and
to say in a respectful voice: “I salute your
Illustrious Majesty and offer you my humble services.”

“Very good!” answered the Tin Woodman in his
accustomed cheerful manner. “Tell me who you are, and
whence you come.”

“I am known as Woot the Wanderer,” answered the boy,
“and I have come, through many travels and by
roundabout ways, from my former home in a far corner of
the Gillikin Country of Oz.”

“To wander from one’s home,” remarked the Scarecrow,
“is to encounter dangers and hardships, especially if
one is made of meat and bone. Had you no friends in
that corner of the Gillikin Country? Was it not
homelike and comfortable?”

To hear a man stuffed with straw speak, and speak so
well, quite startled Woot, and perhaps he stared a bit
rudely at the Scarecrow. But after a moment he replied:

“I had home and friends, your Honorable Strawness,
but they were so quiet and happy and comfortable that I
found them dismally stupid. Nothing in that corner of
Oz interested me, but I believed that in other parts of
the country I would find strange people and see new
sights, and so I set out upon my wandering journey. I
have been a wanderer for nearly a full year, and now my
wanderings have brought me to this splendid castle.”

“I suppose,” said the Tin Woodman, “that in this year
you have seen so much that you have become very wise.”

“No,” replied Woot, thoughtfully, “I am not at all
wise, I beg to assure your Majesty. The more I wander
the less I find that I know, for in the Land of Oz much
wisdom and many things may be learned.”

“To learn is simple. Don’t you ask questions?”
inquired the Scarecrow.

“Yes; I ask as many questions as I dare; but some
people refuse to answer questions.”

“That is not kind of them,” declared the Tin Woodman.
“If one does not ask for information he seldom receives
it; so I, for my part, make it a rule to answer any
civil question that is asked me.”

“So do I,” added the Scarecrow, nodding.

“I am glad to hear this,” said the Wanderer, “for it
makes me bold to ask for something to eat.”

“Bless the boy!” cried the Emperor of the Winkies;
“how careless of me not to remember that wanderers are
usually hungry. I will have food brought you at once.”

Saying this he blew upon a tin whistle that was
suspended from his tin neck, and at the summons a
servant appeared and bowed low. The Tin Woodman
ordered food for the stranger, and in a few minutes the
servant brought in a tin tray heaped with a choice
array of good things to eat, all neatly displayed on
tin dishes that were polished till they shone like
mirrors. The tray was set upon a tin table drawn
before the throne, and the servant placed a tin chair
before the table for the boy to seat himself.

“Eat, friend Wanderer,” said the Emperor cordially,
“and I trust the feast will be to your liking. I,
myself, do not eat, being made in such manner that I
require no food to keep me alive. Neither does my
friend the Scarecrow. But all my Winkie people eat,
being formed of flesh, as you are, and so my tin
cupboard is never bare, and strangers are always
welcome to whatever it contains.”

The boy ate in silence for a time, being really
hungry, but after his appetite was somewhat satisfied,
he said:

“How happened your Majesty to be made of tin, and
still be alive?”

“That,” replied the tin man, “is a long story.”

“The longer the better,” said the boy. “Won’t you
please tell me the story?”

“If you desire it,” promised the Tin Woodman, leaning
back in his tin throne and crossing his tin legs. “I
haven’t related my history in a long while, because
everyone here knows it nearly as well as I do. But you,
being a stranger, are no doubt curious to learn how I
became so beautiful and prosperous, so I will recite
for your benefit my strange adventures.”

“Thank you,” said Woot the Wanderer, still eating.

“I was not always made of tin,” began the Emperor,
“for in the beginning I was a man of flesh and bone and
blood and lived in the Munchkin Country of Oz. There I
was, by trade, a woodchopper, and contributed my share
to the comfort of the Oz people by chopping up the
trees of the forest to make firewood, with which the
women would cook their meals while the children warmed
themselves about the fires. For my home I had a little
hut by the edge of the forest, and my life was one of
much content until I fell in love with a beautiful
Munchkin girl who lived not far away.”

“What was the Munchkin girl’s name?” asked Woot.

“Nimmie Amee. This girl, so fair that the sunsets
blushed when their rays fell upon her, lived with a
powerful witch who wore silver shoes and who had made
the poor child her slave. Nimmie Amee was obliged to
work from morning till night for the old Witch of the
East, scrubbing and sweeping her hut and cooking her
meals and washing her dishes. She had to cut firewood,
too, until I found her one day in the forest and fell
in love with her. After that, I always brought plenty
of firewood to Nimmie Amee and we became very friendly.
Finally I asked her to marry me, and she agreed to do
so, but the Witch happened to overhear our conversation
and it made her very angry, for she did not wish her
slave to be taken away from her. The Witch commanded me
never to come near Nimmie Amee again, but I told her I
was my own master and would do as I pleased, not
realizing that this was a careless way to speak to a
Witch.

“The next day, as I was cutting wood in the forest,
the cruel Witch enchanted my axe, so that it slipped
and cut off my right leg.”

“How dreadful!” cried Woot the Wanderer.

“Yes, it was a seeming misfortune,” agreed the Tin
Man, “for a one-legged woodchopper is of little use in
his trade. But I would not allow the Witch to conquer
me so easily. I knew a very skillful mechanic at the
other side of the forest, who was my friend, so I
hopped on one leg to him and asked him to help me. He
soon made me a new leg out of tin and fastened it
cleverly to my meat body. It had joints at the knee and
at the ankle and was almost as comfortable as the leg I
had lost.”

“Your friend must have been a wonderful workman!”
exclaimed Woot.

“He was, indeed,” admitted the Emperor. “He was a
tinsmith by trade and could make anything out of tin.
When I returned to Nimmie Amee, the girl was delighted
and threw her arms around my neck and kissed me,
declaring she was proud of me. The Witch saw the kiss
and was more angry than before. When I went to work in
the forest, next day, my axe, being still enchanted,
slipped and cut off my other leg. Again I hopped — on
my tin leg — to my friend the tinsmith, who kindly
made me another tin leg and fastened it to my body. So
I returned joyfully to Nimmie Amee, who was much
pleased with my glittering legs and promised that when
we were wed she would always keep them oiled and
polished. But the Witch was more furious than ever, and
as soon as I raised my axe to chop, it twisted around
and cut off one of my arms. The tinsmith made me a tin
arm and I was not much worried, because Nimmie Amee
declared she still loved me.”

 

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