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Chapter 5 – Mrs. Yoop, the Giantess

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

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When they had reached the end of the path, where they
had first seen the warning sign, they set off across
the country in an easterly direction. Before long they
reached Rolling Lands, which were a succession of hills
and valleys where constant climbs and descents were
required, and their journey now became tedious, because
on climbing each hill, they found before them nothing
in the valley below it except grass, or weeds or
stones.

Up and down they went for hours, with nothing to
relieve the monotony of the landscape, until finally,
when they had topped a higher hill than usual, they
discovered a cup-shaped valley before them in the
center of which stood an enormous castle, built of
purple stone. The castle was high and broad and
long, but had no turrets and towers. So far as they
could see, there was but one small window and one
big door on each side of the great building.

“This is strange!” mused the Scarecrow. “I’d no idea
such a big castle existed in this Gillikin Country. I
wonder who lives here?”

“It seems to me, from this distance,” remarked the
Tin Woodman, “that it’s the biggest castle I ever saw.
It is really too big for any use, and no one could open
or shut those big doors without a stepladder.”

“Perhaps, if we go nearer, we shall find out whether
anybody lives there or not,” suggested Woot. “Looks to
me as if nobody lived there.”

On they went, and when they reached the center of the
valley, where the great stone castle stood, it was
beginning to grow dark. So they hesitated as to what to
do.

“If friendly people happen to live here,” said Woot.
I shall be glad of a bed; but should enemies occupy the
place, I prefer to sleep upon the ground.”

“And if no one at all lives here,” added the
Scarecrow, “we can enter, and take possession, and
make ourselves at home.”

While speaking he went nearer to one of the great
doors, which was three times as high and broad as any
he had ever seen in a house before, and then he
discovered, engraved in big letters upon a stone over
the doorway, the words:

“YOOP CASTLE”

“Oho!” he exclaimed; “I know the place now. This was
probably the home of Mr. Yoop, a terrible giant whom I
have seen confined in a cage, a long way from here.
Therefore this castle is likely to be empty and we may
use it in any way we please.”

“Yes, yes,” said the Tin Emperor, nodding; “I also
remember Mr. Yoop. But how are we to get into his
deserted castle? The latch of the door is so far above
our heads that none of us can reach it.”

They considered this problem for a while, and then
Woot said to the Tin Man:

“If I stand upon your shoulders, I think I can
unlatch the door.”

“Climb up, then,” was the reply, and when the boy was
perched upon the tin shoulders of Nick Chopper, he was
just able to reach the latch and raise it.

At once the door swung open, its great hinges making
a groaning sound as if in protest, so Woot leaped down
and followed his companions into a big, bare hallway.
Scarcely were the three inside, however, when they
heard the door slam shut behind them, and this
astonished them because no one had touched it. It had
closed of its own accord, as if by magic. Moreover,
the latch was on the outside, and the thought occurred
to each one of them that they were now prisoners in
this unknown castle.

“However,” mumbled the Scarecrow, “we are not to
blame for what cannot be helped; so let us push bravely
ahead and see what may be seen.”

It was quite dark in the hallway, now that the
outside door was shut, so as they stumbled along a
stone passage they kept close together, not knowing
what danger was likely to befall them.

Suddenly a soft glow enveloped them. It grew
brighter, until they could see their surroundings
distinctly. They had reached the end of the passage and
before them was another huge door. This noiselessly
swung open before them, without the help of anyone, and
through the doorway they observed a big chamber, the
walls of which were lined with plates of pure gold,
highly polished.

This room was also lighted, although they could
discover no lamps, and in the center of it was a great
table at which sat an immense woman. She was clad in
silver robes embroidered with gay floral designs, and
wore over this splendid raiment a short apron of
elaborate lace-work. Such an apron was no protection,
and was not in keeping with the handsome gown, but the
huge woman wore it, nevertheless. The table at which
she sat was spread with a white cloth and had golden
dishes upon it, so the travelers saw that they had
surprised the Giantess while she was eating her supper.

She had her back toward them and did not even turn
around, but taking a biscuit from a dish she began to
butter it and said in a voice that was big and deep but
not especially unpleasant:

“Why don’t you come in and allow the door to shut?
You’re causing a draught, and I shall catch cold and
sneeze. When I sneeze, I get cross, and when I get
cross I’m liable to do something wicked. Come in, you
foolish strangers; come in!”

Being thus urged, they entered the room and
approached the table, until they stood where they faced
the great Giantess. She continued eating, but smiled in
a curious way as she looked at them. Woot noticed that
the door had closed silently after they had entered,
and that didn’t please him at all.

“Well,” said the Giantess, “what excuse have you to
offer?”

“We didn’t know anyone lived here, Madam,” explained
the Scarecrow; “so, being travelers and strangers in
these parts, and wishing to find a place for our boy
friend to sleep, we ventured to enter your castle.”

“You knew it was private property, I suppose?” said
she, buttering another biscuit.

“We saw the words, ‘Yoop Castle,’ over the door, but
we knew that Mr. Yoop is a prisoner in a cage in a far-
off part of the land of Oz, so we decided there was no
one now at home and that we might use the castle for
the night.”

“I see,” remarked the Giantess, nodding her head and
smiling again in that curious way — a way that made
Woot shudder. “You didn’t know that Mr. Yoop was
married, or that after he was cruelly captured his wife
still lived in his castle and ran it to suit herself.”

“Who captured Mr. Yoop?” asked Woot, looking gravely
at the big woman.

“Wicked enemies. People who selfishly objected to
Yoop’s taking their cows and sheep for his food. I must
admit, however, that Yoop had a bad temper, and had the
habit of knocking over a few houses, now and then, when
he was angry. So one day the little folks came in a
great crowd and captured Mr. Yoop, and carried him away
to a cage somewhere in the mountains. I don’t know
where it is, and I don’t care, for my husband treated
me badly at times, forgetting the respect a giant owes
to a giantess. Often he kicked me on my shins, when I
wouldn’t wait on him. So I’m glad he is gone.”

“It’s a wonder the people didn’t capture you, too,”
remarked Woot.

“Well, I was too clever for them,” said she, giving a
sudden laugh that caused such a breeze that the wobbly
Scarecrow was almost blown off his feet and had to grab
his friend Nick Chopper to steady himself. “I saw the
people coining,” continued Mrs. Yoop, “and knowing they
meant mischief I transformed myself into a mouse and
hid in a cupboard. After they had gone away, carrying
my shin-kicking husband with them, I transformed myself
back to my former shape again, and here I’ve lived in
peace and comfort ever since.”

“Are you a Witch, then? ” inquired Woot.

“Well, not exactly a Witch,” she replied, “but I’m an
Artist in Transformations. In other words, I’m more of
a Yookoohoo than a Witch, and of course you know that
the Yookoohoos are the cleverest magic-workers in the
world.”

The travelers were silent for a time, uneasily
considering this statement and the effect it might have
on their future. No doubt the Giantess had wilfully
made them her prisoners; yet she spoke so cheerfully,
in her big voice, that until now they had not been
alarmed in the least.

By and by the Scarecrow, whose mixed brains had been
working steadily, asked the woman:

“Are we to consider you our friend, Mrs. Yoop, or do
you intend to be our enemy?”

“I never have friends,” she said in a matter-of-fact
tone, “because friends get too familiar and always
forget to mind their own business. But I am not your
enemy; not yet, anyhow. Indeed, I’m glad you’ve come,
for my life here is rather lonely. I’ve had no one to
talk to since I transformed Polychrome, the Daughter of
the Rainbow, into a canary-bird.”

“How did you manage to do that?” asked the Tin
Woodman, in amazement. “Polychrome is a powerful
fairy!”

“She was,” said the Giantess; “but now she’s a
canary-bird. One day after a rain, Polychrome danced
off the Rainbow and fell asleep on a little mound in
this valley, not far from my castle. The sun came out
and drove the Rainbow away, and before Poly wakened, I
stole out and transformed her into a canary-bird in a
gold cage studded with diamonds. The cage was so she
couldn’t fly away. I expected she’d sing and talk and
we’d have good times together; but she has proved no
company for me at all. Ever since the moment of her
transformation, she has refused to speak a single
word.”

“Where is she now?” inquired Woot, who had heard tales
of lovely Polychrome and was much interested in her.

“The cage is hanging up in my bedroom,” said the
Giantess, eating another biscuit. The travelers were
now more uneasy and suspicious of the Giantess than
before. If Polychrome, the Rainbow’s Daughter, who was
a real fairy, had been transformed and enslaved by this
huge woman, who claimed to be a Yookoohoo, what was
liable to happen to them? Said the Scarecrow, twisting
his stuffed head around in Mrs. Yoop’s direction:

“Do you know, Ma’am, who we are?”

“Of course,” said she; “a straw man, a tin man and a boy.”

“We are very important people,” declared the Tin Woodman.

“All the better,” she replied. “I shall enjoy your
society the more on that account. For I mean to keep
you here as long as I live, to amuse me when I get
lonely. And,” she added slowly, “in this Valley no one
ever dies.”

They didn’t like this speech at all, so the Scarecrow
frowned in a way that made Mrs. Yoop smile, while
the Tin Woodman looked so fierce that Mrs. Yoop
laughed. The Scarecrow suspected she was going to
laugh, so he slipped behind his friends to escape the
wind from her breath. From this safe position he
said warningly:

“We have powerful friends who will soon come to
rescue us.”

“Let them come,” she returned, with an accent of
scorn. “When they get here they will find neither a
boy, nor a tin man, nor a scarecrow, for tomorrow
morning I intend to transform you all into other
shapes, so that you cannot be recognized.”

This threat filled them with dismay. The good-natured
Giantess was more terrible than they had imagined. She
could smile and wear pretty clothes and at the same
time be even more cruel than her wicked husband had been.

Both the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman tried to
think of some way to escape from the castle before
morning, but she seemed to read their thoughts and
shook her head.

“Don’t worry your poor brains,” said she. “You can’t
escape me, however hard you try. But why should you
wish to escape? I shall give you new forms that are
much better than the ones you now have. Be contented
with your fate, for discontent leads to unhappiness,
and unhappiness, in any form, is the greatest evil that
can befall you.”

“What forms do you intend to give us?” asked Woot
earnestly.

“I haven’t decided, as yet. I’ll dream over it
tonight, so in the morning I shall have made up my mind
how to transform you. Perhaps you’d prefer to choose
your own transformations?”

“No,” said Woot, “I prefer to remain as I am.”

“That’s funny,” she retorted. “You are little, and
you’re weak; as you are, you’re not much account,
anyhow. The best thing about you is that you’re alive,
for I shall be able to make of you some sort of live
creature which will be a great improvement on your
present form.”

She took another biscuit from a plate and dipped it
in a pot of honey and calmly began eating it.

The Scarecrow watched her thoughtfully.

“There are no fields of grain in your Valley,” said he;
“where, then. did you get the flour to make your biscuits?”

“Mercy me! do you think I’d bother to make biscuits
out of flour?” she replied. “That is altogether too
tedious a process for a Yookoohoo. I set some traps
this afternoon and caught a lot of field-mice, but as I
do not like to eat mice, I transformed them into hot
biscuits for my supper. The honey in this pot was once
a wasp’s nest, but since being transformed it has
become sweet and delicious. All I need do, when I wish
to eat, is to take something I don’t care to keep, and
transform it into any sort of food I like, and eat it.
Are you hungry?”

“I don’t eat, thank you,” said the Scarecrow.

“Nor do I,” said the Tin Woodman.

“I have still a little natural food in my knapsack,”
said Woot the Wanderer, “and I’d rather eat that than
any wasp’s nest.”

“Every one to his taste,” said the Giantess
carelessly, and having now finished her supper she rose
to her feet, clapped her hands together, and the supper
table at once disappeared.

 

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