FictionForest

Chapter 10

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

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The day was nearly gone when, at last, the raft was ready.

“It ain’t so very big,” said the old sailor, “but I don’t weigh
much, an’ you, Trot, don’t weigh half as much as I do, an’ the glass
pussy don’t count.”

“But it’s safe, isn’t it?” inquired the girl.

“Yes; it’s good enough to carry us to the island an’ back again, an’
that’s about all we can expect of it.”

Saying this, Cap’n Bill pushed the raft into the water, and when it
was afloat, stepped upon it and held out his hand to Trot, who quickly
followed him. The Glass Cat boarded the raft last of all.

The sailor had cut a long pole, and had also whittled a flat paddle,
and with these he easily propelled the raft across the river. As they
approached the island, the Wonderful Flower became more plainly
visible, and they quickly decided that the Glass Cat had not praised
it too highly. The colors of the flowers that bloomed in quick
succession were strikingly bright and beautiful, and the shapes of the
blossoms were varied and curious. Indeed, they did not resemble
ordinary flowers at all.

So intently did Trot and Cap’n Bill gaze upon the Golden Flower-pot
that held the Magic Flower that they scarcely noticed the island
itself until the raft beached upon its sands. But then the girl
exclaimed: “How funny it is, Cap’n Bill, that nothing else grows here
excep’ the Magic Flower.”

Then the sailor glanced at the island and saw that it was all bare
ground, without a weed, a stone or a blade of grass. Trot, eager to
examine the Flower closer, sprang from the raft and ran up the bank
until she reached the Golden Flower-pot. Then she stood beside it
motionless and filled with wonder. Cap’n Bill joined her, coming more
leisurely, and he, too, stood in silent admiration for a time.

“Ozma will like this,” remarked the Glass Cat, sitting down to watch
the shifting hues of the flowers. “I’m sure she won’t have as fine a
birthday present from anyone else.”

“Do you ‘spose it’s very heavy, Cap’n? And can we get it home
without breaking it?” asked Trot anxiously.

“Well, I’ve lifted many bigger things than that,” he replied; “but
let’s see what it weighs.”

He tried to take a step forward, but could not lift his meat foot
from the ground. His wooden leg seemed free enough, but the other
would not budge.

“I seem stuck, Trot,” he said, with a perplexed look at his foot.
“It ain’t mud, an’ it ain’t glue, but somethin’s holdin’ me down.”

The girl attempted to lift her own feet, to go nearer to her friend,
but the ground held them as fast as it held Cap’n Bill’s foot. She
tried to slide them, or to twist them around, but it was no use; she
could not move either foot a hair’s breadth.

“This is funny!” she exclaimed. “What do you ‘spose has happened to
us, Cap’n Bill?”

“I’m tryin’ to make out,” he answered. “Take off your shoes, Trot.
P’raps it’s the leather soles that’s stuck to the ground.”

She leaned down and unlaced her shoes, but found she could not pull
her feet out of them. The Glass Cat, which was walking around as
naturally as ever, now said:

“Your foot has got roots to it, Cap’n, and I can see the roots going
into the ground, where they spread out in all directions. It’s the same
way with Trot. That’s why you can’t move. The roots hold you fast.”

Cap’n Bill was rather fat and couldn’t see his own feet very well,
but he squatted down and examined Trot’s feet and decided that the
Glass Cat was right.

“This is hard luck,” he declared, in a voice that showed he was
uneasy at the discovery. “We’re pris’ners, Trot, on this funny
island, an’ I’d like to know how we’re ever goin’ to get loose, so’s
we can get home again.”

“Now I know why the Kalidah laughed at us,” said the girl, “and why
he said none of the beasts ever came to this island. The horrid
creature knew we’d be caught, and wouldn’t warn us.”

In the meantime, the Kalidah, although pinned fast to the earth by
Cap’n Bill’s stake, was facing the island, and now the ugly expression
which passed over its face when it defied and sneered at Cap’n Bill
and Trot, had changed to one of amusement and curiosity. When it saw
the adventurers had actually reached the island and were standing
beside the Magic Flower, it heaved a breath of satisfaction–a long, deep
breath that swelled its deep chest until the beast could feel the stake
that held him move a little, as if withdrawing itself from the ground.

“Ah ha!” murmured the Kalidah, “a little more of this will set me
free and allow me to escape!”

So he began breathing as hard as he could, puffing out his chest as
much as possible with each indrawing breath, and by doing this he
managed to raise the stake with each powerful breath, until at last
the Kalidah–using the muscles of his four legs as well as his deep
breaths–found itself free of the sandy soil. The stake was sticking
right through him, however, so he found a rock deeply set in the bank
and pressed the sharp point of the stake upon the surface of this rock
until he had driven it clear through his body. Then, by getting the
stake tangled among some thorny bushes, and wiggling his body, he
managed to draw it out altogether.

“There!” he exclaimed, “except for those two holes in me, I’m as
good as ever; but I must admit that that old wooden-legged fellow
saved both himself and the girl by making me a prisoner.”

Now the Kalidahs, although the most disagreeable creatures in the
Land of Oz, were nevertheless magical inhabitants of a magical
Fairyland, and in their natures a certain amount of good was mingled
with the evil. This one was not very revengeful, and now that his late
foes were in danger of perishing, his anger against them faded away.

“Our own Kalidah King,” he reflected, “has certain magical powers of
his own. Perhaps he knows how to fill up these two holes in my body.”

So without paying any more attention to Trot and Cap’n Bill than
they were paying to him, he entered the forest and trotted along a
secret path that led to the hidden lair of all the Kalidahs.

While the Kalidah was making good its escape Cap’n Bill took his
pipe from his pocket and filled it with tobacco and lighted it. Then,
as he puffed out the smoke, he tried to think what could be done.

“The Glass Cat seems all right,” he said, “an’ my wooden leg didn’t
take roots and grow, either. So it’s only flesh that gets caught.”

“It’s magic that does it, Cap’n!”

“I know, Trot, and that’s what sticks me. We’re livin’ in a magic country,
but neither of us knows any magic an’ so we can’t help ourselves.”

“Couldn’t the Wizard of Oz help us–or Glinda the Good?” asked the
little girl.

“Ah, now we’re beginnin’ to reason,” he answered. “I’d probably
thought o’ that, myself, in a minute more. By good luck the Glass Cat
is free, an’ so it can run back to the Emerald City an’ tell the
Wizard about our fix, an’ ask him to come an’ help us get loose.”

“Will you go?” Trot asked the cat, speaking very earnestly.

“I’m no messenger, to be sent here and there,” asserted the curious
animal in a sulky tone of voice.

“Well,” said Cap’n Bill, “you’ve got to go home, anyhow, ’cause you
don’t want to stay here, I take it. And, when you get home, it
wouldn’t worry you much to tell the Wizard what’s happened to us.”

“That’s true,” said the cat, sitting on its haunches and lazily
washing its face with one glass paw. “I don’t mind telling the
Wizard–when I get home.”

“Won’t you go now?” pleaded Trot. “We don’t want to stay here any
longer than we can help, and everybody in Oz will be interested in
you, and call you a hero, and say nice things about you because you
helped your friends out of trouble.”

That was the best way to manage the Glass Cat, which was so vain
that it loved to be praised.

“I’m going home right away,” said the creature, “and I’ll tell the
Wizard to come and help you.”

Saying this, it walked down to the water and disappeared under the
surface. Not being able to manage the raft alone, the Glass Cat
walked on the bottom of the river as it had done when it visited the
island before, and soon they saw it appear on the farther bank and trot
into the forest, where it was quickly lost to sight among the trees.

Then Trot heaved a deep sigh.

“Cap’n,” said she, “we’re in a bad fix. There’s nothing here to
eat, and we can’t even lie down to sleep. Unless the Glass Cat
hurries, and the Wizard hurries, I don’t know what’s going to become
of us!”

 

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