FictionForest

Chapter 3 – Roundabout

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

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Woot the Wanderer slept that night in the tin castle of
the Emperor of the Winkies and found his tin bed quite
comfortable. Early the next morning he rose and took a
walk through the gardens, where there were tin
fountains and beds of curious tin flowers, and where
tin birds perched upon the branches of tin trees and
sang songs that sounded like the notes of tin whistles.
All these wonders had been made by the clever Winkie
tinsmiths, who wound the birds up every morning so that
they would move about and sing.

After breakfast the boy went into the throne room,
where the Emperor was having his tin joints carefully
oiled by a servant, while other servants were stuffing
sweet, fresh straw into the body of the Scarecrow.

Woot watched this operation with much interest, for
the Scarecrow’s body was only a suit of clothes filled
with straw. The coat was buttoned tight to keep the
packed straw from falling out and a rope was tied
around the waist to hold it in shape and prevent the
straw from sagging down. The Scarecrow’s head was a
gunnysack filled with bran, on which the eyes, nose and
mouth had been painted. His hands were white cotton
gloves stuffed with fine straw. Woot noticed that even
when carefully stuffed and patted into shape, the straw
man was awkward in his movements and decidedly wobbly
on his feet, so the boy wondered if the Scarecrow would
be able to travel with them all the way to the forests
of the Munchkin Country of Oz.

The preparations made for this important journey were
very simple. A knapsack was filled with food and given
Woot the Wanderer to carry upon his back, for the food
was for his use alone. The Tin Woodman shouldered an
axe which was sharp and brightly polished, and the
Scarecrow put the Emperor’s oil-can in his pocket, that
he might oil his friend’s joints should they need it.

“Who will govern the Winkie Country during your
absence?” asked the boy.

“Why, the Country will run itself,” answered the
Emperor. “As a matter of fact, my people do not need an
Emperor, for Ozma of Oz watches over the welfare of all
her subjects, including the Winkies. Like a good many
kings and emperors, I have a grand title, but very
little real power, which allows me time to amuse myself
in my own way. The people of Oz have but one law to
obey, which is: ‘Behave Yourself,’ so it is easy for
them to abide by this Law, and you’ll notice they
behave very well. But it is time for us to be off, and
I am eager to start because I suppose that that poor
Munchkin girl is anxiously awaiting my coming.”

“She’s waited a long time already, seems to me,”
remarked the Scarecrow, as they left the grounds of the
castle and followed a path that led eastward.

“True,” replied the Tin Woodman; “but I’ve noticed
that the last end of a wait, however long it has been,
is the hardest to endure; so I must try to make Nimmie
Amee happy as soon as possible.”

“Ah; that proves you have a Kind heart,” remarked the
Scarecrow, approvingly.

“It’s too bad he hasn’t a Loving Heart,” said Woot.
“This Tin Man is going to marry a nice girl through
kindness, and not because he loves her, and somehow
that doesn’t seem quite right.”

“Even so, I am not sure it isn’t best for the girl,”
said the Scarecrow, who seemed very intelligent for a
straw man, “for a loving husband is not always kind,
while a kind husband is sure to make any girl content.”

“Nimmie Amee will become an Empress!” announced the
Tin Woodman, proudly. “I shall have a tin gown made for
her, with tin ruffles and tucks on it, and she shall
have tin slippers, and tin earrings and bracelets, and
wear a tin crown on her head. I am sure that will
delight Nimmie Amee, for all girls are fond of finery.”

“Are we going to the Munchkin Country by way of the
Emerald City?” inquired the Scarecrow, who looked upon
the Tin Woodman as the leader of the party.

“I think not,” was the reply. “We are engaged upon a
rather delicate adventure, for we are seeking a girl
who fears her former lover has forgotten her. It will
be rather hard for me, you must admit, when I confess
to Nimmie Amee that I have come to marry her because it
is my duty to do so, and therefore the fewer witnesses
there are to our meeting the better for both of us.
After I have found Nimmie Amee and she has managed to
control her joy at our reunion, I shall take her to the
Emerald City and introduce her to Ozma and Dorothy, and
to Betsy Bobbin and Tiny Trot, and all our other
friends; but, if I remember rightly, poor Nimmie Amee
has a sharp tongue when angry, and she may be a trifle
angry with me, at first, because I have been so long in
coming to her.”

“I can understand that,” said Woot gravely. “But how
can we get to that part of the Munchkin Country where
you once lived without passing through the Emerald
City?”

“Why, that is easy,” the Tin Man assured him.

“I have a map of Oz in my pocket,” persisted the boy,
“and it shows that the Winkie Country, where we now
are, is at the west of Oz, and the Munchkin Country at
the east, while directly between them lies the Emerald
City.”

“True enough; but we shall go toward the north, first
of all, into the Gillikin Country, and so pass around
the Emerald City,” explained the Tin Woodman.

“That may prove a dangerous journey,” replied the
boy. “I used to live in one of the top corners of the
Gillikin Country, near to Oogaboo, and I have been told
that in this northland country are many people whom it
is not pleasant to meet. I was very careful to avoid
them during my journey south.”

“A Wanderer should have no fear,” observed the
Scarecrow, who was wobbling along in a funny, haphazard
manner, but keeping pace with his friends.

“Fear does not make one a coward,” returned Woot,
growing a little red in the face, “but I believe it is
more easy to avoid danger than to overcome it. The
safest way is the best way, even for one who is brave
and determined.”

“Do not worry, for we shall not go far to the north,”
said the Emperor. “My one idea is to avoid the Emerald
City without going out of our way more than is
necessary. Once around the Emerald City we will turn
south into the Munchkin Country, where the Scarecrow
and I are well acquainted and have many friends.”

“I have traveled some in the Gillikin Country,”
remarked the Scarecrow, “and while I must say I have
met some strange people there at times, I have never
yet been harmed by them.”

“Well, it’s all the same to me,” said Woot, with
assumed carelessness. “Dangers, when they cannot be
avoided, are often quite interesting, and I am willing
to go wherever you two venture to go.”

So they left the path they had been following and
began to travel toward the northeast, and all that day
they were in the pleasant Winkie Country, and all the
people they met saluted the Emperor with great respect
and wished him good luck on his journey. At night they
stopped at a house where they were well entertained and
where Woot was given a comfortable bed to sleep in.

“Were the Scarecrow and I alone,” said the Tin
Woodman, “we would travel by night as well as by day;
but with a meat person in our party, we must halt at
night to permit him to rest.”

“Meat tires, after a day’s travel,” added the
Scarecrow, “while straw and tin never tire at all.
Which proves,” said he, “that we are somewhat superior
to people made in the common way.”

Woot could not deny that he was tired, and he slept
soundly until morning, when he was given a good
breakfast, smoking hot.

“You two miss a great deal by not eating,” he said to
his companions.

“It is true,” responded the Scarecrow. “We miss
suffering from hunger, when food cannot be had, and we
miss a stomachache, now and then.”

As he said this, the Scarecrow glanced at the Tin
Woodman, who nodded his assent.

All that second day they traveled steadily,
entertaining one another the while with stories of
adventures they had formerly met and listening to the
Scarecrow recite poetry. He had learned a great many
poems from Professor Wogglebug and loved to repeat them
whenever anybody would listen to him. Of course Woot
and the Tin Woodman now listened, because they could
not do otherwise — unless they rudely ran away from
their stuffed comrade. One of the Scarecrow’s
recitations was like this:

“What sound is so sweet
As the straw from the wheat
When it crunkles so tender and low?
It is yellow and bright,
So it gives me delight
To crunkle wherever I go.

“Sweet, fresh, golden Straw!
There is surely no flaw
In a stuffing so clean and compact.
It creaks when I walk,
And it thrills when I talk,
And its fragrance is fine, for a fact.
“To cut me don’t hurt,

For I’ve no blood to squirt,
And I therefore can suffer no pain;
The straw that I use
Doesn’t lump up or bruise,
Though it’s pounded again and again!

“I know it is said
That my beautiful head
Has brains of mixed wheat-straw and bran,
But my thoughts are so good
I’d not change, if I could,
For the brains of a common meat man.

“Content with my lot,
I’m glad that I’m not
Like others I meet day by day;
If my insides get musty,
Or mussed-up, or dusty,
I get newly stuffed right away.”

 

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