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Chapter 8 – The Menace of the Forest

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

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“Quick!” cried Polychrome the Canary; “we must hurry,
or Mrs. Yoop may find some way to recapture us, even
now. Let us get out of her Valley as soon as possible.”

So they set off toward the east, moving as swiftly as
they could, and for a long time they could hear the
yells and struggles of the imprisoned Giantess. The
Green Monkey could run over the ground very swiftly,
and he carried with him the bird-cage containing
Polychrome the Rain-bow’s Daughter. Also the Tin Owl
could skip and fly along at a good rate of speed, his
feathers rattling against one another with a tinkling
sound as he moved. But the little Brown Bear, being
stuffed with straw, was a clumsy traveler and the
others had to wait for him to follow.

However, they were not very long in reaching the
ridge that led out of Mrs. Yoop’s Valley, and when they
had passed this ridge and descended into the next
valley they stopped to rest, for the Green Monkey was
tired.

“I believe we are safe, now,” said Polychrome, when
her cage was set down and the others had all gathered
around it, “for Mrs. Yoop dares not go outside of her
own Valley, for fear of being captured by her enemies.
So we may take our time to consider what to do next.”

“I’m afraid poor Mrs. Yoop will starve to death, if
no one lets her out of her bedroom,” said Woot, who had
a heart as kind as that of the Tin Woodman. “We’ve
taken her Magic Apron away, and now the doors will
never open.”

“Don’t worry about that,” advised Polychrome. “Mrs.
Yoop has plenty of magic left to console her.”

“Are you sure of that?” asked the Green Monkey.

“Yes, for I’ve been watching her for weeks,” said the
Canary. “She has six magic hairpins, which she wears in
her hair, and a magic ring which she wears on her thumb
and which is invisible to all eyes except those of a
fairy, and magic bracelets on both her ankles. So I am
positive that she will manage to find a way out of her
prison.”

“She might transform the door into an archway,”
suggested the little Brown Bear.

“That would be easy for her,” said the Tin Owl; “but
I’m glad she was too angry to think of that before we
got out of her Valley.”

“Well, we have escaped the big woman, to be sure,”
remarked the Green Monkey, “but we still wear the
awful forms the cruel yookoohoo gave us. How are we
going to get rid of these shapes, and become ourselves
again?”

None could answer that question. They sat around the
cage, brooding over the problem, until the Monkey fell
asleep. Seeing this, the Canary tucked her head under
her wing and also slept, and the Tin Owl and the Brown
Bear did not disturb them until morning came and it was
broad daylight.

“I’m hungry,” said Woot, when he wakened, for his
knapsack of food had been left behind at the castle.

“Then let us travel on until we can find something
for you to eat,” returned the Scarecrow Bear.

“There is no use in your lugging my cage any
farther,” declared the Canary. “Let me out, and throw
the cage away. Then I can fly with you and find my own
breakfast of seeds. Also I can search for water, and
tell you where to find it.”

So the Green Monkey unfastened the door of the golden
cage and the Canary hopped out. At first she flew high
in the air and made great circles overhead, but after a
time she returned and perched beside them.

“At the east in the direction we were following,”
announced the Canary, “there is a fine forest, with a
brook running through it. In the forest there may be
fruits or nuts growing, or berry bushes at its edge, so
let us go that way.”

They agreed to this and promptly set off, this time
moving more deliberately. The Tin Owl, which had guided
their way during the night, now found the sunshine very
trying to his big eyes, so he shut them tight and
perched upon the back of the little Brown Bear, which
carried the Owl’s weight with ease. The Canary
sometimes perched upon the Green Monkey’s shoulder and
sometimes fluttered on ahead of the party, and in this
manner they traveled in good spirits across that valley
and into the next one to the east of it.

This they found to be an immense hollow, shaped like
a saucer, and on its farther edge appeared the forest
which Polychrome had seen from the sky.

“Come to think of it,” said the Tin Owl, waking up
and blinking comically at his friends, “there’s no
object, now, in our traveling to the Munchkin Country.
My idea in going there was to marry Nimmie Amee, but
however much the Munchkin girl may have loved a Tin
Woodman, I cannot reasonably expect her to marry a Tin
Owl.”

“There is some truth in that, my friend,” remarked
the Brown Bear. “And to think that I, who was
considered the handsomest Scarecrow in the world, am
now condemned to be a scrubby, no-account beast, whose
only redeeming feature is that he is stuffed with
straw!”

“Consider my case, please,” said Woot. “The cruel
Giantess has made a Monkey of a Boy, and that is the
most dreadful deed of all!”

“Your color is rather pretty,” said the Brown Bear,
eyeing Woot critically. “I have never seen a pea-green
monkey before, and it strikes me you are quite
gorgeous.”

“It isn’t so bad to be a bird,” asserted the Canary,
fluttering from one to another with a free and graceful
motion, “but I long to enjoy my own shape a gam.”

“As Polychrome, you were the loveliest maiden I have
ever seen — except, of course, Ozma,” said the Tin
Owl; “so the Giantess did well to transform you into
the loveliest of all birds, if you were to be
transformed at all. But tell me, since you are a fairy,
and have a fairy wisdom: do you think we shall be able
to break these enchantments?”

“Queer things happen in the Land of Oz,” replied the
Canary, again perching on the Green Monkey’s shoulder
and turning one bright eye thoughtfully toward her
questioner. “Mrs. Yoop has declared that none of her
transformations can ever be changed, even by herself,
but I believe that if we could get to Glinda the Good
Sorceress, she might find a way to restore us to our
natural shapes. Glinda, as you know, is the most
powerful Sorceress in the world, and there are few
things she cannot do if she tries.”

“In that case,” said the Little Brown Bear, “let us
return southward and try to get to Glinda’s castle. It
lies in the Quadling Country, you know, so it is a good
way from here.”

“First, however, let us visit the forest and search
for something to eat,” pleaded Woot. So they continued
on to the edge of the forest, which consisted of many
tall and beautiful trees. They discovered no fruit
trees, at first, so the Green Monkey pushed on into the
forest depths and the others followed close behind him.

They were traveling quietly along, under the shade of
the trees, when suddenly an enormous jaguar leaped upon
them from a limb and with one blow of his paw sent the
little Brown Bear tumbling over and over until he was
stopped by a tree-trunk. Instantly they all took alarm.
The Tin Owl shrieked: “Hoot — hoot!” and flew straight
up to the branch of a tall tree, although he could
scarcely see where he was going. The Canary swiftly
darted to a place beside the Owl, and the Green Monkey
sprang up, caught a limb, and soon scrambled to a high
perch of safety.

The Jaguar crouched low and with hungry eyes regarded
the little Brown Bear, which slowly got upon its feet
and asked reproachfully:

“For goodness’ sake, Beast, what were you trying to
do?”

“Trying to get my breakfast,” answered the Jaguar
with a snarl, “and I believe I’ve succeeded. You ought
to make a delicious meal — unless you happen to be old
and tough.”

“I’m worse than that, considered as a breakfast,”
said the Bear, “for I’m only a skin stuffed with straw,
and therefore not fit to eat.”

“Indeed!” cried the Jaguar, in a disappointed voice;
“then you must be a magic Bear, or enchanted, and I
must seek my breakfast from among your companions.”

With this he raised his lean head to look up at the
Tin Owl and the Canary and the Monkey, and he lashed
his tail upon the ground and growled as fiercely as any
jaguar could.

“My friends are enchanted, also,” said the little
Brown Bear.

“All of them?” asked the Jaguar.

“Yes. The Owl is tin, so you couldn’t possibly eat
him. The Canary is a fairy — Polychrome, the Daughter
of the Rainbow — and you never could catch her because
she can easily fly out of your reach.”

“There still remains the Green Monkey,” remarked the
Jaguar hungrily. “He is neither made of tin nor stuffed
with straw, nor can he fly. I’m pretty good at climbing
trees, myself, so I think I’ll capture the Monkey and
eat him for my breakfast.”

Woot the Monkey, hearing this speech from his perch
on the tree, became much frightened, for he knew the
nature of jaguars and realized they could climb trees
and leap from limb to limb with the agility of cats. So
he at once began to scamper through the forest as fast
as he could go, catching at a branch with his long
monkey arms and swinging his green body through space
to grasp another branch in a neighboring tree, and so
on, while the Jaguar followed him from below, his eyes
fixed steadfastly on his prey. But presently Woot got
his feet tangled in the Lace Apron, which he was still
wearing, and that tripped him in his flight and made
him fall to the ground, where the Jaguar placed one
huge paw upon him and said grimly:
I’ve got you, now!”
The fact that the Apron had tripped him made Woot
remember its magic powers, and in his terror he cried
out: “Open!” without stopping to consider how this
command might save him. But, at the word, the earth
opened at the exact spot where he lay under the
Jaguar’s paw, and his body sank downward, the earth
closing over it again. The last thing Woot the Monkey
saw, as he glanced upward, was the Jaguar peering into
the hole in astonishment.

“He’s gone!” cried the beast, with a long-drawn sigh
of disappointment; “he’s gone, and now I shall have no
breakfast.”

The clatter of the Tin Owl’s wings sounded above him,
and the little Brown Bear came trotting up and asked:

“Where is the monkey? Have you eaten him so quickly?”

“No, indeed,” answered the Jaguar. “He disappeared
into the earth before I could take one bite of him!”

And now the Canary perched upon a stump, a little way
from the forest beast, and said:

“I am glad our friend has escaped you; but, as it is
natural for a hungry beast to wish his breakfast, I
will try to give you one.”

“Thank you,” replied the Jaguar. “You’re rather small
for a full meal, but it’s kind of you to sacrifice
yourself to my appetite.”

“Oh, I don’t intend to be eaten, I assure you,” said
the Canary, “but as I am a fairy I know something of
magic, and though I am now transformed into a bird’s
shape, I am sure I can conjure up a breakfast that will
satisfy you.”

“If you can work magic, why don’t you break the
enchantment you are under and return to your proper
form?” inquired the beast doubtingly.

“I haven’t the power to do that,” answered the
Canary, “for Mrs. Yoop, the Giantess who transformed
me, used a peculiar form of yookoohoo magic that is
unknown to me. However, she could not deprive me of my
own fairy knowledge, so I will try to get you a
breakfast.”

“Do you think a magic breakfast would taste good, or
relieve the pangs of hunger I now suffer?” asked the
Jaguar.

“I am sure it would. What would you like to eat?”

“Give me a couple of fat rabbits,” said the beast.

“Rabbits! No, indeed. I’d not allow you to eat the
dear little things,” declared Polychrome the Canary.

“Well, three or four squirrels, then,” pleaded the
Jaguar.

“Do you think me so cruel?” demanded the Canary,
indignantly. “The squirrels are my especial friends.”

“How about a plump owl?” asked the beast. “Not a tin
one, you know, but a real meat owl.”

“Neither beast nor bird shall you have,” said
Polychrome in a positive voice.

“Give me a fish, then; there’s a river a little way
off,” proposed the Jaguar.

“No living thing shall be sacrificed to feed you,”
returned the Canary.

“Then what in the world do you expect me to
eat?” said the Jaguar in a scornful tone.

“How would mush-and-milk do?” asked the
Canary.

The Jaguar snarled in derision and lashed his tail
against the ground angrily

“Give him some scrambled eggs on toast, Poly,”
suggested the Bear Scarecrow. “He ought to like that.”

“I will,” responded the Canary, and fluttering her
wings she made a flight of three circles around the
stump. Then she flew up to a tree and the Bear and the
Owl and the Jaguar saw that upon the stump had appeared
a great green leaf upon which was a large portion of
scrambled eggs on toast, smoking hot.

“There!” said the Bear; “eat your breakfast, friend
Jaguar, and be content.”

The Jaguar crept closer to the stump and sniffed the
fragrance of the scrambled eggs. They smelled so good
that he tasted them, and they tasted so good that he
ate the strange meal in a hurry, proving he had been
really hungry.

“I prefer rabbits,” he muttered, licking his chops,
“but I must admit the magic breakfast has filled my
stomach full, and brought me comfort. So I’m much
obliged for the kindness, little Fairy, and I’ll now
leave you in peace.”

Saying this, he plunged into the thick underbrush and
soon disappeared, although they could hear his great
body crashing through the bushes until he was far
distant.

“That was a good way to get rid of the savage beast,
Poly,” said the Tin Woodman to the Canary; “but I’m
surprised that you didn’t give our friend Woot a magic
breakfast, when you knew he was hungry.”

“The reason for that,” answered Polychrome, “was
that my mind was so intent on other things that I quite
forgot my power to produce food by magic. But where is
the monkey boy?”

“Gone!” said the Scarecrow Bear, solemnly. “The earth
has swallowed him up.”

 

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