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Chapter 19 – Red Reera, the Yookoohoo

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

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After the meal was over and Reera had fed her pets,
including the four monster spiders which had come down
from their webs to secure their share, she made the
table disappear from the floor of the cottage.

“I wish you’d consent to my transforming your
fishes,” she said, as she took up her knitting again.

The Skeezer made no reply. He thought it unwise to
hurry matters. All during the afternoon they sat
silent. Once Reera went to her cupboard and after
thrusting her hand into the same drawer as before,
touched the wolf and transformed it into a bird with
gorgeous colored feathers. This bird was larger than a
parrot and of a somewhat different form, but Ervic had
never seen one like it before.

“Sing!” said Reera to the bird, which had perched
itself on a big wooden peg — as if it had been in the
cottage before and knew just what to do.

And the bird sang jolly, rollicking songs with words
to them — just as a person who had been carefully
trained might do. The songs were entertaining and Ervic
enjoyed listening to them. In an hour or so the bird
stopped singing, tucked its head under its wing and
went to sleep. Reera continued knitting but seemed
thoughtful.

Now Ervic had marked this cupboard drawer well and
had concluded that Reera took something from it which
enabled her to perform her transformations. He thought
that if he managed to remain in the cottage, and Reera
fell asleep, he could slyly open the cupboard, take a
portion of whatever was in the drawer, and by dropping
it into the copper kettle transform the three fishes
into their natural shapes. Indeed, he had firmly
resolved to carry out this plan when the Yookoohoo put
down her knitting and walked toward the door.

“I’m going out for a few minutes,” said she; “do you
wish to go with me, or will you remain here?”

Ervic did not answer but sat quietly on his bench. So
Reera went out and closed the cottage door.

As soon as she was gone, Ervic rose and tiptoed to
the cupboard.

“Take care! Take care!” cried several voices, coming
from the kittens and chipmunks. “If you touch anything
we’ll tell the Yookoohoo!”

Ervic hesitated a moment but, remembering that he
need not consider Reera’s anger if he succeeded in
transforming the fishes, he was about to open the
cupboard when he was arrested by the voices of the
fishes, which stuck their heads above the water in the
kettle and called out:

“Come here, Ervic!”

So he went back to the kettle and bent over it

“Let the cupboard alone,” said the goldfish to him
earnestly. “You could not succeed by getting that magic
powder, for only the Yookoohoo knows how to use it. The
best way is to allow her to transform us into three
girls, for then we will have our natural shapes and be
able to perform all the Arts of Magic we have learned
and well understand. You are acting wisely and in the
most effective manner. We did not know you were so
intelligent, or that Reera could be so easily deceived
by you. Continue as you have begun and try to persuade
her to transform us. But insist that we be given the
forms of girls.”

The goldfish ducked its head down just as Reera re-
entered the cottage. She saw Ervic bent over the
kettle, so she came and joined him.

“Can your fishes talk?” she asked.

“Sometimes,” he replied, “for all fishes in the Land
of Oz know how to speak. Just now they were asking me
for some bread. They are hungry.”

“Well, they can have some bread,” said Reera. “But it
is nearly supper-time, and if you would allow me to
transform your fishes into girls they could join us at
the table and have plenty of food much nicer than
crumbs. Why not let me transform them?”

“Well,” said Ervic, as if hesitating, “ask the
fishes. If they consent, why — why, then, I’ll think
it over.”

Reera bent over the kettle and asked:

“Can you hear me, little fishes?”

All three popped their heads above water.

“We can hear you,” said the bronzefish.

“I want to give you other forms, such as rabbits, or
turtles or girls, or something; but your master, the
surly Skeezer, does not wish me to. However, he has
agreed to the plan if you will consent.”

“We’d like to be girls,” said the silverfish.

“No, no!” exclaimed Ervic.

“If you promise to make us three beautiful girls,
we will consent,” said the goldfish.

“No, no!” exclaimed Ervic again.

“Also make us Adepts at Magic,” added the bronzefish.

“I don’t know exactly what that means,” replied Reera
musingly, “but as no Adept at Magic is as powerful as
Yookoohoo, I’ll add that to the transformation.”

“We won’t try to harm you, or to interfere with your
magic in any way,” promised the goldfish. “On the
contrary, we will be your friends.”

“Will you agree to go away and leave me alone in my
cottage, whenever I command you to do so?” asked Reera.

“We promise that,” cried the three fishes.

“Don’t do it! Don’t consent to the transformation,”
urged Ervic.

“They have already consented,” said the Yookoohoo,
laughing in his face, “and you have promised me to
abide by their decision. So, friend Skeezer, I shall
perform the transformation whether you like it or not.”

Ervic seated himself on the bench again, a deep scowl
on his face but joy in his heart. Reera moved over to
the cupboard, took something from the drawer and
returned to the copper kettle. She was clutching
something tightly in her right hand, but with her left
she reached within the kettle, took out the three
fishes and laid them carefully on the floor, where they
gasped in distress at being out of water.

Reera did not keep them in misery more than a few
seconds, for she touched each one with her right hand
and instantly the fishes were transformed into three
tall and slender young women, with fine, intelligent
faces and clothed in handsome, clinging gowns. The one
who had been a goldfish had beautiful golden hair and
blue eyes and was exceedingly fair of skin; the one who
had been a bronzefish had dark brown hair and clear
gray eyes and her complexion matched these lovely
features. The one who had been a silverfish had snow-
white hair of the finest texture and deep brown eyes.
The hair contrasted exquisitely with her pink cheeks
and ruby-red lips, nor did it make her look a day older
than her two companions.

As soon as they secured these girlish shapes, all
three bowed low to the Yookoohoo and said:

“We thank you, Reera.”

Then they bowed to the Skeezer and said:

“We thank you, Ervic.”

“Very good!” cried the Yookoohoo, examining her work
with critical approval. “You are much better and more
interesting than fishes, and this ungracious Skeezer
would scarcely allow me to do the transformations. You
surely have nothing to thank him for. But now let us
dine in honor of the occasion.”

She clapped her hands together and again a table
loaded with food appeared in the cottage. It was a
longer table, this time, and places were set for the
three Adepts as well as for Reera and Ervic.

“Sit down, friends, and eat your fill,” said the
Yookoohoo, but instead of seating herself at the head
of the table she went to the cupboard, saying to the
Adepts: “Your beauty and grace, my fair friends, quite
outshine my own. So that I may appear properly at the
banquet table I intend, in honor of this occasion, to
take upon myself my natural shape.”

Scarcely had she finished this speech when Reera
transformed herself into a young woman fully as lovely
as the three Adepts. She was not quite so tall as they,
but her form was more rounded and more handsomely
clothed, with a wonderful jeweled girdle and a necklace
of shining pearls. Her hair was a bright auburn red,
and her eyes large and dark.

“Do you claim this is your natural form?” asked Ervic
of the Yookoohoo.

“Yes,” she replied. “This is the only form I am
really entitled to wear. But I seldom assume it because
there is no one here to admire or appreciate it and I
get tired admiring it myself.”

“I see now why you are named Reera the Red,” remarked
Ervic.

“It is on account of my red hair,” she explained
smiling. “I do not care for red hair myself, which is
one reason I usually wear other forms.”

“It is beautiful,” asserted the young man; and then
remembering the other women present he added: “But, of
course, all women should not have red hair, because
that would make it too common. Gold and silver and
brown hair are equally handsome.”

The smiles that he saw interchanged between the four
filled the poor Skeezer with embarrassment, so he fell
silent and attended to eating his supper, leaving the
others to do the talking. The three Adepts frankly told
Reera who they were. how they became fishes and how
they had planned secretly to induce the Yookoohoo to
transform them. They admitted that they had feared, had
they asked her to help, that she would have refused
them.

“You were quite right,” returned the Yookoohoo. “I
make it my rule never to perform magic to assist
others, for if I did there would always be crowd at my
cottage demanding help and I hate crowds and want to be
left alone.”

“However, now that you are restored to your proper
shapes, I do not regret my action and I hope you will
be of use in saving the Skeezer people by raising their
island to the surface of the lake, where it really
belongs. But you must promise me that after you go away
you will never come here again, nor tell anyone what I
have done for you.”

The three Adepts and Ervic thanked the Yookoohoo
warmly. They promised to remember her wish that they
should not come to her cottage again and so, with a
good-bye, took their departure.

 

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