FictionForest

Chapter 6 – Flathead Mountain

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

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When they saw that the intruders on their mountain
were only two little girls, the Flatheads grunted with
satisfaction and drew back, permitting them to see what
the mountain top looked like. It was shaped like a
saucer, so that the houses and other buildings — all
made of rocks — could not be seen over the edge by
anyone standing in the plain below.

But now a big fat Flathead stood before the girls and
in a gruff voice demanded:

“What are you doing here? Have the Skeezers sent you
to spy upon us?”

“I am Princess Ozma, Ruler of all the Land of Oz.”

“Well, I’ve never heard of the Land of Oz, so you may
be what you claim,” returned the Flathead.

“This is the Land of Oz — part of it, anyway,”
exclaimed Dorothy. “So Princess Ozma rules you Flathead
people, as well as all the other people in Oz.”

The man laughed, and all the others who stood around
laughed, too. Some one in the crowd called:

“She’d better not tell the Supreme Dictator about
ruling the Flatheads. Eh, friends?”

“No, indeed!” they all answered in positive tones.

“Who is your Supreme Dictator?” answered Ozma.

“I think I’ll let him tell you that himself,”
answered the man who had first spoken. “You have broken
our laws by coming here; and whoever you are the
Supreme Dictator must fix your punishment. Come along
with me.”

He started down a path and Ozma and Dorothy followed
him without protest, as they wanted to see the most
important person in this queer country. The houses they
passed seemed pleasant enough and each had a little
yard in which were flowers and vegetables. Walls of
rock separated the dwellings, and all the paths were
paved with smooth slabs of rock. This seemed their only
building material and they utilized it cleverly for
every purpose.

Directly in the center of the great saucer stood a
larger building which the Flathead informed the girls
was the palace of the Supreme Dictator. He led them
through an entrance hall into a big reception room,
where they sat upon stone benches and awaited the
coming of the Dictator. Pretty soon he entered from
another room — a rather lean and rather old Flathead,
dressed much like the others of this strange race, and
only distinguished from them by the sly and cunning
expression of his face. He kept his eyes half closed
and looked through the slits of them at Ozma and
Dorothy, who rose to receive him.

“Are you the Supreme Dictator of the Flatheads?”
inquired Ozma.

“Yes, that’s me,” he said, rubbing his hands slowly
together. “My word is law. I’m the head of the
Flatheads on this flat headland.”

“I am Princess Ozma of Oz, and I have come from the
Emerald City to –”

“Stop a minute,” interrupted the Dictator, and turned
to the man who had brought the girls there. “Go away,
Dictator Felo Flathead!” he commanded. “Return to your
duty and guard the Stairway. I will look after these
strangers.” The man bowed and departed, and Dorothy
asked wonderingly:

“Is he a Dictator, too?”

“Of course,” was the answer. “Everybody here is a
dictator of something or other. They’re all office
holders. That’s what keeps them contented. But I’m the
Supreme Dictator of all, and I’m elected once a year.
This is a democracy, you know, where the people are
allowed to vote for their rulers. A good many others
would like to be Supreme Dictator, but as I made a law
that I am always to count the votes myself, I am always
elected.”

“What is your name?” asked Ozma.

“I am called the Su-dic, which is short for Supreme
Dictator. I sent that man away because the moment you
mentioned Ozma of Oz, and the Emerald City, I knew who
you are. I suppose I’m the only Flathead that ever
heard of you, but that’s because I have more brains
than the rest.”

Dorothy was staring hard at the Su-dic.

“I don’t see how you can have any brains at all,” she
remarked, “because the part of your head is gone where
brains are kept.”

“I don’t blame you for thinking that,” he said. “Once
the Flatheads had no brains because, as you say, there
is no upper part to their heads, to hold brains. But
long, long ago a band of fairies flew over this country
and made it all a fairyland, and when they came to the
Flatheads the fairies were sorry to find them all very
stupid and quite unable to think. So, as there was no
good place in their bodies in which to put brains the
Fairy Queen gave each one of us a nice can of brains to
carry in his pocket and that made us just as
intelligent as other people. See,” he continued, “here
is one of the cans of brains the fairies gave us.” He
took from a pocket a bright tin can having a pretty red
label on it which said: Concentrated Brains, Extra
Quality.”

“And does every Flathead have the same kind of
brains?” asked Dorothy.

“Yes, they’re all alike. Here’s another can.” From
another pocket he produced a second can of brains.

“Did the fairies give you a double supply?” inquired
Dorothy.

“No, but one of the Flatheads thought he wanted to be
the Su-dic and tried to get my people to rebel against
me, so I punished him by taking away his brains. One
day my wife scolded me severely, so I took away her can
of brains. She didn’t like that and went out and robbed
several women of their brains. Then I made a law that
if anyone stole another’s brains, or even tried to
borrow them, he would forfeit his own brains to the Su-
dic. So each one is content with his own canned brains
and my wife and I are the only ones on the mountain
with more than one can. I have three cans and that
makes me very clever — so clever that I’m a good
Sorcerer, if I do say it myself. My poor wife had four
cans of brains and became a remarkable witch, but alas!
that was before those terrible enemies, the Skeezers,
transformed her into a Golden Pig.”

“Good gracious!” cried Dorothy; “is your wife really
a Golden Pig?”

“She is. The Skeezers did it and so I have declared
war on them. In revenge for making my wife a Pig I
intend to ruin their Magic Island and make the Skeezers
the slaves of the Flatheads!”

The Su-dic was very angry now; his eyes flashed and
his face took on a wicked and fierce expression. But
Ozma said to him, very sweetly and in a friendly voice:

“I am sorry to hear this. Will you please tell me
more about your troubles with the Skeezers? Then
perhaps I can help you.”

She was only a girl, but there was dignity in her
pose and speech which impressed the Su-dic.

“If you are really Princess Ozma of Oz,” the Flathead
said, “you are one of that band of fairies who, under
Queen Lurline, made all Oz a Fairyland. I have heard
that Lurline left one of her own fairies to rule Oz,
and gave the fairy the name of Ozma.”

“If you knew this why did you not come to me at the
Emerald City and tender me your loyalty and obedience?”
asked the Ruler of Oz.

“Well, I only learned the fact lately, and I’ve been
too busy to leave home,” he explained, looking at the
floor instead of into Ozma’s eyes. She knew he had
spoken a falsehood, but only said:

“Why did you quarrel with the Skeezers?”

“It was this way,” began the Su-dic, glad to change
the subject. “We Flatheads love fish, and as we have no
fish on this mountain we would sometimes go to the Lake
of the Skeezers to catch fish. This made the Skeezers
angry, for they declared the fish in their lake
belonged to them and were under their protection and
they forbade us to catch them. That was very mean and
unfriendly in the Skeezers, you must admit, and when we
paid no attention to their orders they set a guard on
the shore of the lake to prevent our fishing.

“Now, my wife, Rora Flathead, having four cans of
brains, had become a wonderful witch, and fish being
brain food, she loved to eat fish better than any one
of us. So she vowed she would destroy every fish in the
lake, unless the Skeezers let us catch what we wanted.
They defied us, so Rora prepared a kettleful of magic
poison and went down to the lake one night to dump it
all in the water and poison the fish. It was a clever
idea, quite worthy of my dear wife, but the Skeezer
Queen — a young lady named Coo-ee-oh — hid on the
bank of the lake and taking Rora unawares, transformed
her into a Golden Pig. The poison was spilled on the
ground and wicked Queen Coo-ee-oh, not content with her
cruel transformation, even took away my wife’s four
cans of brains, so she is now a common grunting pig
without even brains enough to know her own name.”

“Then,” said Ozma thoughtfully, “the Queen of the
Skeezers must be a Sorceress.”

“Yes,” said the Su-dic, “but she doesn’t know much
magic, after all. She is not as powerful as Rora
Flathead was, nor half as powerful as I am now, as
Queen Coo-ee-oh will discover when we fight our great
battle and destroy her.”

“The Golden Pig can’t be a witch any more, of
course,” observed Dorothy.

“No; even had Queen Coo-ee-oh left her the four cans
of brains, poor Rora, in a pig’s shape, couldn’t do any
witchcraft. A witch has to use her fingers, and a pig
has only cloven hoofs.”

“It seems a sad story,” was Ozma’s comment, “and all
the trouble arose because the Flatheads wanted fish
that did not belong to them.”

“As for that,” said the Su-dic, again angry, “I made
a law that any of my people could catch fish in the
Lake of the Skeezers, whenever they wanted to. So the
trouble was through the Skeezers defying my law.”

“You can only make laws to govern your own people,”
asserted Ozma sternly. “I, alone, am empowered to make
laws that must be obeyed by all the peoples of Oz.”

“Pooh!” cried the Su-dic scornfully. “You can’t make
me obey your laws, I assure you. I know the extent of
your powers, Princess Ozma of Oz, and I know that I am
more powerful than you are. To prove it I shall keep
you and your companion prisoners in this mountain until
after we have fought and conquered the Skeezers. Then,
if you promise to be good, I may let you go home
again.”

Dorothy was amazed by this effrontery and defiance of
the beautiful girl Ruler of Oz, whom all until now had
obeyed without question. But Ozma, still unruffled and
dignified, looked at the Su-dic and said:

“You did not mean that. You are angry and speak
unwisely, without reflection. I came here from my
palace in the Emerald City to prevent war and to make
peace between you and the Skeezers. I do not approve of
Queen Coo-ee-oh’s action in transforming your wife Rora
into a pig, nor do I approve of Rora’s cruel attempt to
poison the fishes in the lake. No one has the right to
work magic in my dominions without my consent, so the
Flatheads and the Skeezers have both broken my laws —
which must be obeyed.”

“If you want to make peace,” said the Su-dic, “make
the Skeezers restore my wife to her proper form and
give back her four cans of brains. Also make them agree
to allow us to catch fish in their lake.”

“No,” returned Ozma, “I will not do that, for it
would be unjust. I will have the Golden Pig again
transformed into your wife Rora, and give her one can
of brains, but the other three cans must be restored to
those she robbed. Neither may you catch fish in the
Lake of the Skeezers, for it is their lake and the fish
belong to them. This arrangement is just and honorable,
and you must agree to it.”

“Never!” cried the Su-dic. Just then a pig came
running into the room, uttering dismal grunts. It was
made of solid gold, with joints at the bends of the
legs and in the neck and jaws. The Golden Pig’s eyes
were rubies, and its teeth were polished ivory.

“There!” said the Su-dic, “gaze on the evil work of
Queen Coo-ee-oh, and then say if you can prevent my
making war on the Skeezers. That grunting beast was
once my wife — the most beautiful Flathead on our
mountain and a skillful witch. Now look at her!”

“Fight the Skeezers, fight the Skeezers, fight the
Skeezers!” grunted the Golden Pig.

“I will fight the Skeezers,” exclaimed the Flathead
chief, “and if a dozen Ozmas of Oz forbade me I would
fight just the same.”

“Not if I can prevent it!” asserted Ozma.

“You can’t prevent it. But since you threaten me,
I’ll have you confined in the bronze prison until the
war is over,” said the Su-dic. He whistled and four
stout Flatheads, armed with axes and spears, entered
the room and saluted him. Turning to the men he said:
“Take these two girls, bind them with wire ropes and
cast them into the bronze prison.”

The four men bowed low and one of them asked:

“Where are the two girls, most noble Su-dic?”

The Su-dic turned to where Ozma and Dorothy had stood
but they had vanished!

 

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