FictionForest

Chapter 8 – The Deadly Poppy Field

L. Frank BaumJul 03, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

Light off Small Medium Large

Our little party of travelers awakened the next morning
refreshed and full of hope, and Dorothy breakfasted like a
princess off peaches and plums from the trees beside the river.
Behind them was the dark forest they had passed safely through,
although they had suffered many discouragements; but before them
was a lovely, sunny country that seemed to beckon them on to the
Emerald City.

To be sure, the broad river now cut them off from this
beautiful land. But the raft was nearly done, and after the Tin
Woodman had cut a few more logs and fastened them together with
wooden pins, they were ready to start. Dorothy sat down in the
middle of the raft and held Toto in her arms. When the Cowardly
Lion stepped upon the raft it tipped badly, for he was big and
heavy; but the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman stood upon the other
end to steady it, and they had long poles in their hands to push
the raft through the water.

They got along quite well at first, but when they reached the
middle of the river the swift current swept the raft downstream,
farther and farther away from the road of yellow brick. And the
water grew so deep that the long poles would not touch the bottom.

“This is bad,” said the Tin Woodman, “for if we cannot get to
the land we shall be carried into the country of the Wicked Witch
of the West, and she will enchant us and make us her slaves.”

“And then I should get no brains,” said the Scarecrow.

“And I should get no courage,” said the Cowardly Lion.

“And I should get no heart,” said the Tin Woodman.

“And I should never get back to Kansas,” said Dorothy.

“We must certainly get to the Emerald City if we can,”
the Scarecrow continued, and he pushed so hard on his long pole
that it stuck fast in the mud at the bottom of the river. Then,
before he could pull it out again–or let go–the raft was swept
away, and the poor Scarecrow left clinging to the pole in the
middle of the river.

“Good-bye!” he called after them, and they were very sorry to leave him.
Indeed, the Tin Woodman began to cry, but fortunately remembered that he
might rust, and so dried his tears on Dorothy’s apron.

Of course this was a bad thing for the Scarecrow.

“I am now worse off than when I first met Dorothy,” he
thought. “Then, I was stuck on a pole in a cornfield, where I
could make-believe scare the crows, at any rate. But surely there
is no use for a Scarecrow stuck on a pole in the middle of a
river. I am afraid I shall never have any brains, after all!”

Down the stream the raft floated, and the poor Scarecrow was
left far behind. Then the Lion said:

“Something must be done to save us. I think I can swim to the
shore and pull the raft after me, if you will only hold fast to
the tip of my tail.”

So he sprang into the water, and the Tin Woodman caught fast
hold of his tail. Then the Lion began to swim with all his might
toward the shore. It was hard work, although he was so big; but
by and by they were drawn out of the current, and then Dorothy took
the Tin Woodman’s long pole and helped push the raft to the land.

They were all tired out when they reached the shore at last
and stepped off upon the pretty green grass, and they also knew
that the stream had carried them a long way past the road of
yellow brick that led to the Emerald City.

“What shall we do now?” asked the Tin Woodman, as the Lion lay
down on the grass to let the sun dry him.

“We must get back to the road, in some way,” said Dorothy.

“The best plan will be to walk along the riverbank until we
come to the road again,” remarked the Lion.

So, when they were rested, Dorothy picked up her basket and
they started along the grassy bank, to the road from which the
river had carried them. It was a lovely country, with plenty of
flowers and fruit trees and sunshine to cheer them, and had they
not felt so sorry for the poor Scarecrow, they could have been
very happy.

They walked along as fast as they could, Dorothy only stopping
once to pick a beautiful flower; and after a time the Tin Woodman
cried out: “Look!”

Then they all looked at the river and saw the Scarecrow perched
upon his pole in the middle of the water, looking very lonely and sad.

“What can we do to save him?” asked Dorothy.

The Lion and the Woodman both shook their heads, for they did
not know. So they sat down upon the bank and gazed wistfully at
the Scarecrow until a Stork flew by, who, upon seeing them,
stopped to rest at the water’s edge.

“Who are you and where are you going?” asked the Stork.

“I am Dorothy,” answered the girl, “and these are my friends,
the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion; and we are going to the
Emerald City.”

“This isn’t the road,” said the Stork, as she twisted her long
neck and looked sharply at the queer party.

“I know it,” returned Dorothy, “but we have lost the
Scarecrow, and are wondering how we shall get him again.”

“Where is he?” asked the Stork.

“Over there in the river,” answered the little girl.

“If he wasn’t so big and heavy I would get him for you,”
remarked the Stork.

“He isn’t heavy a bit,” said Dorothy eagerly, “for he is
stuffed with straw; and if you will bring him back to us, we shall
thank you ever and ever so much.”

“Well, I’ll try,” said the Stork, “but if I find he is too
heavy to carry I shall have to drop him in the river again.”

So the big bird flew into the air and over the water till she
came to where the Scarecrow was perched upon his pole. Then the
Stork with her great claws grabbed the Scarecrow by the arm and
carried him up into the air and back to the bank, where Dorothy
and the Lion and the Tin Woodman and Toto were sitting.

When the Scarecrow found himself among his friends again, he
was so happy that he hugged them all, even the Lion and Toto; and
as they walked along he sang “Tol-de-ri-de-oh!” at every step, he
felt so gay.

“I was afraid I should have to stay in the river forever,”
he said, “but the kind Stork saved me, and if I ever get any brains
I shall find the Stork again and do her some kindness in return.”

“That’s all right,” said the Stork, who was flying along
beside them. “I always like to help anyone in trouble. But I
must go now, for my babies are waiting in the nest for me. I hope
you will find the Emerald City and that Oz will help you.”

“Thank you,” replied Dorothy, and then the kind Stork flew
into the air and was soon out of sight.

They walked along listening to the singing of the brightly
colored birds and looking at the lovely flowers which now became
so thick that the ground was carpeted with them. There were big
yellow and white and blue and purple blossoms, besides great
clusters of scarlet poppies, which were so brilliant in color they
almost dazzled Dorothy’s eyes.

“Aren’t they beautiful?” the girl asked, as she breathed in
the spicy scent of the bright flowers.

“I suppose so,” answered the Scarecrow. “When I have brains,
I shall probably like them better.”

“If I only had a heart, I should love them,” added the Tin Woodman.

“I always did like flowers,” said the Lion. “They of seem so
helpless and frail. But there are none in the forest so bright as these.”

They now came upon more and more of the big scarlet poppies,
and fewer and fewer of the other flowers; and soon they found
themselves in the midst of a great meadow of poppies. Now it is
well known that when there are many of these flowers together
their odor is so powerful that anyone who breathes it falls
asleep, and if the sleeper is not carried away from the scent of
the flowers, he sleeps on and on forever. But Dorothy did not
know this, nor could she get away from the bright red flowers that
were everywhere about; so presently her eyes grew heavy and she
felt she must sit down to rest and to sleep.

But the Tin Woodman would not let her do this.

“We must hurry and get back to the road of yellow brick before dark,”
he said; and the Scarecrow agreed with him. So they kept walking until
Dorothy could stand no longer. Her eyes closed in spite of herself and
she forgot where she was and fell among the poppies, fast asleep.

“What shall we do?” asked the Tin Woodman.

“If we leave her here she will die,” said the Lion. “The smell of
the flowers is killing us all. I myself can scarcely keep my eyes open,
and the dog is asleep already.”

It was true; Toto had fallen down beside his little mistress.
But the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman, not being made of flesh,
were not troubled by the scent of the flowers.

“Run fast,” said the Scarecrow to the Lion, “and get out of
this deadly flower bed as soon as you can. We will bring the
little girl with us, but if you should fall asleep you are too big
to be carried.”

So the Lion aroused himself and bounded forward as fast as he
could go. In a moment he was out of sight.

“Let us make a chair with our hands and carry her,” said the
Scarecrow. So they picked up Toto and put the dog in Dorothy’s
lap, and then they made a chair with their hands for the seat and
their arms for the arms and carried the sleeping girl between them
through the flowers.

On and on they walked, and it seemed that the great carpet of
deadly flowers that surrounded them would never end. They followed
the bend of the river, and at last came upon their friend the Lion,
lying fast asleep among the poppies. The flowers had been too strong
for the huge beast and he had given up at last, and fallen only a short
distance from the end of the poppy bed, where the sweet grass spread in
beautiful green fields before them.

“We can do nothing for him,” said the Tin Woodman, sadly; “for
he is much too heavy to lift. We must leave him here to sleep on
forever, and perhaps he will dream that he has found courage at last.”

“I’m sorry,” said the Scarecrow. “The Lion was a very good
comrade for one so cowardly. But let us go on.”

They carried the sleeping girl to a pretty spot beside the river,
far enough from the poppy field to prevent her breathing any more of
the poison of the flowers, and here they laid her gently on the soft
grass and waited for the fresh breeze to waken her.

 

Leave a Reply