FictionForest

Chapter 15 – The Great Sorceress

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

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Betsy and Trot, when they heard of the rescue
expedition, begged the Wizard to permit them to join it
and he consented. The Glass Cat, overhearing the
conversation, wanted to go also and to this the Wizard
made no objection.

This Glass Cat was one of the real curiosities of Oz.
It had been made and brought to life by a clever
magician named Dr. Pipt, who was not now permitted to
work magic and was an ordinary citizen of the Emerald
City. The cat was of transparent glass, through which
one could plainly see its ruby heart beating and its
pink brains whirling around in the top of the head.

The Glass Cat’s eyes were emeralds; its fluffy tail
was of spun glass and very beautiful. The ruby heart,
while pretty to look at, was hard and cold and the
Glass Cat’s disposition was not pleasant at all times.
It scorned to catch mice, did not eat, and was
extremely lazy. If you complimented the remarkable cat
on her beauty, she would be very friendly, for she
loved admiration above everything. The pink brains were
always working and their owner was indeed more
intelligent than most common cats.

Three other additions to the rescue party were made
the next morning, just as they were setting out upon
their journey. The first was a little boy called Button
Bright, because he had no other name that anyone could
remember. He was a fine, manly little fellow, well
mannered and good humored, who had only one bad fault.
He was continually getting lost. To be sure, Button
Bright got found as often as he got lost, but when he
was missing his friends could not help being anxious
about him.

“Some day,” predicted the Patchwork Girl, “he won’t
be found, and that will be the last of him.” But that
didn’t worry Button Bright, who was so careless that he
did not seem to be able to break the habit of getting
lost.

The second addition to the party was a Munchkin boy
of about Button Bright’s age, named Ojo. He was often
called “Ojo the Lucky,” because good fortune followed
him wherever he went. He and Button Bright were close
friends, although of such different natures, and Trot
and Betsy were fond of both.

The third and last to join the expedition was an
enormous lion, one of Ozma’s regular guardians and the
most important and intelligent beast in all Oz. He
called himself the Cowardly Lion, saying that every
little danger scared him so badly that his heart
thumped against his ribs, but all who knew him knew
that the Cowardly Lion’s fears were coupled with
bravery and that however much he might be frightened he
summoned courage to meet every danger he encountered.
Often he had saved Dorothy and Ozma in times of peril,
but afterward he moaned and trembled and wept because
he had been so scared.

“If Ozma needs help, I’m going to help her,” said the
great beast. “Also, I suspect the rest of you may need
me on the journey — especially Trot and Betsy — for
you may pass through a dangerous part of the country. I
know that wild Gillikin country pretty well. Its
forests harbor many ferocious beasts.”

They were glad the Cowardly Lion was to join them,
and in good spirits the entire party formed a
procession and marched out of the Emerald City amid the
shouts of the people, who wished them success and a
safe return with their beloved Ruler.

They followed a different route from that taken by
Ozma and Dorothy, for they went through the Winkie
Country and up north toward Oogaboo. But before they
got there they swerved to the left and entered the
Great Gillikin Forest, the nearest thing to a
wilderness in all Oz. Even the Cowardly Lion had to
admit that certain parts of this forest were unknown to
him, although he had often wandered among the trees,
and the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman, who were great
travelers, never had been there at all.

The forest was only reached after a tedious tramp,
for some of the Rescue Expedition were quite awkward on
their feet. The Patchwork Girl was as light as a
feather and very spry; the Tin Woodman covered the
ground as easily as Uncle Henry and the Wizard; but
Tik-Tok moved slowly and the slightest obstruction in
the road would halt him until the others cleared it
away. Then, too, Tik-Tok’s machinery kept running down,
so Betsy and Trot took turns in winding it up.

The Scarecrow was more clumsy but less bother, for
although he often stumbled and fell he could scramble
up again and a little patting of his straw-stuffed body
would put him in good shape again.

Another awkward one was Jack Pumpkinhead, for walking
would jar his head around on his neck and then he would
be likely to go in the wrong direction. But the Frogman
took Jack’s arm and then he followed the path more
easily.

Cap’n Bill’s wooden leg didn’t prevent him from
keeping up with the others and the old sailor could
walk as far as any of them.

When they entered the forest the Cowardly Lion took
the lead. There was no path here for men, but many
beasts had made paths of their own which only the eyes
of the Lion, practiced in woodcraft, could discern. So
he stalked ahead and wound his way in and out, the
others following in single file, Glinda being next to
the Lion.

There are dangers in the forest, of course, but as
the huge Lion headed the party he kept the wild
denizens of the wilderness from bothering the
travelers. Once, to be sure, an enormous leopard sprang
upon the Glass Cat and caught her in his powerful jaws,
but he broke several of his teeth and with howls of
pain and dismay dropped his prey and vanished among the
trees.

“Are you hurt?” Trot anxiously inquired of the Glass
Cat.

“How silly!” exclaimed the creature in an irritated
tone of voice; “nothing can hurt glass, and I’m too
solid to break easily. But I’m annoyed at that
leopard’s impudence. He has no respect for beauty or
intelligence. If he had noticed my pink brains work,
I’m sure he would have realized I’m too important to be
grabbed in a wild beast’s jaws.”

“Never mind,” said Trot consolingly; “I’m sure he
won’t do it again.”

They were almost in the center of the forest when
Ojo, the Munchkin boy, suddenly said: “Why, where’s
Button Bright?”

They halted and looked around them. Button Bright was
not with the party.

Dear me,” remarked Betsy, “I expect he’s lost again!”

“When did you see him last, Ojo?”inquired Glinda.

“It was some time ago,” replied Ojo. “He was trailing
along at the end and throwing twigs at the squirrels in
the trees. Then I went to talk to Betsy and Trot, and
just now I noticed he was gone.”

“This is too bad,” declared the Wizard, “for it is
sure to delay our journey. We must find Button Bright
before we go any farther, for this forest is full of
ferocious beasts that would not hesitate to tear the
boy to pieces.”

“But what shall we do?” asked the Scarecrow. “If any
of us leaves the party to search for Button Bright he
or she might fall a victim to the beasts, and if the
Lion leaves us we will have no protector.

“The Glass Cat could go,” suggested the Frogman.
“The beasts can do her no harm, as we have discovered.”

The Wizard turned to Glinda.

“Cannot your sorcery discover where Button Bright
is?” he asked.

“I think so,” replied the Sorceress.

She called to Uncle Henry, who had been carrying her
wicker box, to bring it to her, and when he obeyed she
opened it and drew out a small round mirror. On the
surface of the glass she dusted a white powder and then
wiped it away with her handkerchief and looked in the
mirror. It reflected a part of the forest, and there,
beneath a wide-spreading tree, Button Bright was lying
asleep. On one side of him crouched a tiger, ready to
spring; on the other side was a big gray wolf, its
bared fangs glistening in a wicked way.

“Goodness me!” cried Trot, looking over Glinda’s
shoulder. “They’ll catch and kill him sure.”

Everyone crowded around for a glimpse at the magic
mirror.

“Pretty bad — pretty bad!” said the Scarecrow
sorrowfully.

“Comes of getting lost!” said Cap’n Bill, sighing.

“Guess he’s a goner!” said the Frogman, wiping his
eyes on his purple silk handkerchief.

“But where is he? Can’t we save him?” asked Ojo the
Lucky.

“If we knew where he is we could probably save him,”
replied the little Wizard, “but that tree looks so much
like all the other trees, that we can’t tell whether
it’s far away or near by.”

“Look at Glinda!” exclaimed Betsy

Glinda, having handed the mirror to the Wizard, had
stepped aside and was making strange passes with her
outstretched arms and reciting in low, sweet tones a
mystical incantation. Most of them watched the
Sorceress with anxious eyes, despair giving way to the
hope that she might be able to save their friend. the
Wizard, however, watched the scene in the mirror, while
over his shoulders peered Trot, the Scarecrow and the
Shaggy Man.

What they saw was more strange than Glinda’s actions.
The tiger started to spring on the sleeping boy, but
suddenly lost its power to move and lay flat upon the
ground. The gray wolf seemed unable to lift its feet
from the ground. It pulled first at one leg and then at
another, and finding itself strangely confined to the
spot began to back and snarl angrily. They couldn’t
hear the barkings and snarls, but they could see the
creature’s mouth open and its thick lips move. Button
Bright, however, being but a few feet away from the
wolf, heard its cries of rage, which wakened him from
his untroubled sleep. The boy sat up and looked first
at the tiger and then at the wolf. His face showed that
for a moment he was quite frightened, but he soon saw
that the beasts were unable to approach him and so he
got upon his feet and examined them curiously, with a
mischievous smile upon his face. Then he deliberately
kicked the tiger’s head with his foot and catching up a
fallen branch of a tree he went to the wolf and gave it
a good whacking. Both the beasts were furious at such
treatment but could not resent it.

Button Bright now threw down the stick and with his
hands in his pockets wandered carelessly away.

“Now,” said Glinda, “let the Glass Cat run and find
him. He is in that direction,” pointing the way, “but
how far off I do not know. Make haste and lead him back
to us as quickly as you can.”

The Glass Cat did not obey everyone’s orders, but she
really feared the great Sorceress, so as soon as the
words were spoken the crystal animal darted away and
was quickly lost to sight.

The Wizard handed the mirror back to Glinda, for the
woodland scene had now faded from the glass. Then those
who cared to rest sat down to await Button Bright’s
coming. It was not long before be appeared through the
trees and as he rejoined his friends he said in a
peevish tone:

“Don’t ever send that Glass Cat to find me again. She
was very impolite and, if we didn’t all know that she
had no manners, I’d say she insulted me.”

Glinda turned upon the boy sternly.

“You have caused all of us much anxiety and
annoyance,” said she. “Only my magic saved you from
destruction. I forbid you to get lost again.”

“Of course,” he answered. “It won’t be my fault if I
get lost again; but it wasn’t my fault this time.”

 

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