FictionForest

Chapter 16 – The Scarecrow Takes Time to Think

L. Frank BaumJul 08, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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“It seems to me,” began the Scarecrow, when all were again assembled in the
throne room, “that the girl Jinjur is quite right in claiming to be Queen.
And if she is right, then I am wrong, and we have no business to be
occupying her palace.”

“But you were the King until she came,” said the Woggle-Bug, strutting up
and down with his hands in his pockets; “so it appears to me that she is the
interloper instead of you.”

“Especially as we have just conquered her and put her to flight,” added the
Pumpkinhead, as he raised his hands to turn his face toward the Scarecrow.

“Have we really conquered her?” asked the Scarecrow, quietly. “Look out of
the window, and tell me what you see.”

Tip ran to the window and looked out.

“The palace is surrounded by a double row of girl soldiers,” he announced.

“I thought so,” returned the Scarecrow. “We are as truly their prisoners as
we were before the mice frightened them from the palace.”

“My friend is right,” said Nick Chopper, who had been polishing his breast
with a bit of chamois-leather. “Jinjur is still the Queen, and we are her
prisoners.”

“But I hope she cannot get at us,” exclaimed the Pumpkinhead, with a shiver
of fear. “She threatened to make tarts of me, you know.”

“Don’t worry,” said the Tin Woodman. “It cannot matter greatly. If you stay
shut up here you will spoil in time, anyway. A good tart is far more
admirable than a decayed intellect.”

“Very true,” agreed the Scarecrow.

“Oh, dear!” moaned Jack; “what an unhappy lot is mine! Why, dear father, did
you not make me out of tin — or even out of straw — so that I would keep
indefinitely.”

“Shucks!” returned Tip, indignantly. “You ought to be glad that I made you
at all.” Then he added, reflectively, “everything has to come to an end,
some time.”

“But I beg to remind you,” broke in the Woggle-Bug, who had a distressed
look in his bulging, round eyes, “that this terrible Queen Jinjur suggested
making a goulash of me — Me! the only Highly Magnified and Thoroughly
Educated Woggle-Bug in the wide, wide world!”

“I think it was a brilliant idea,” remarked the Scarecrow, approvingly.

“Don’t you imagine he would make a better soup?” asked the Tin Woodman,
turning toward his friend.

“Well, perhaps,” acknowledged the Scarecrow.

The Woggle-Bug groaned.

“I can see, in my mind’s eye,” said he, mournfully, “the goats eating small
pieces of my dear comrade, the Tin Woodman, while my soup is being cooked on
a bonfire built of the Saw-Horse and Jack Pumpkinhead’s body, and Queen
Jinjur watches me boil while she feeds the flames with my friend the
Scarecrow!”

This morbid picture cast a gloom over the entire party, making them restless
and anxious.

“It can’t happen for some time,” said the Tin Woodman, trying to speak
cheerfully; “for we shall be able to keep Jinjur out of the palace until she
manages to break down the doors.”

“And in the meantime I am liable to starve to death, and so is the Woggle-
Bug,” announced Tip.

“As for me,” said the Woggle-Bug, “I think that I could live for some time
on Jack Pumpkinhead. Not that I prefer pumpkins for food; but I believe they
are somewhat nutritious, and Jack’s head is large and plump.”

“How heartless!” exclaimed the Tin Woodman, greatly shocked. “Are we
cannibals, let me ask? Or are we faithful friends?”

“I see very clearly that we cannot stay shut up in this palace,” said the
Scarecrow, with decision. “So let us end this mournful talk and try to
discover a means to escape.”

At this suggestion they all gathered eagerly around the throne, wherein was
seated the Scarecrow, and as Tip sat down upon a stool there fell from his
pocket a pepper-box, which rolled upon the floor.

“What is this?” asked Nick Chopper, picking up the box.

“Be careful!” cried the boy. “That’s my Powder of Life. Don’t spill it, for
it is nearly gone.”

“And what is the Powder of Life?” enquired the Scarecrow, as Tip replaced
the box carefully in his pocket.

“It’s some magical stuff old Mombi got from a
crooked sorcerer,” explained the boy. “She brought Jack to life with it, and
afterward I used it to bring the Saw-Horse to life. I guess it will make
anything live that is sprinkled with it; but there’s only about one dose
left.”

“Then it is very precious,” said the Tin Woodman.

“Indeed it is,” agreed the Scarecrow. “It may prove our best means of escape
from our difficulties. I believe I will think for a few minutes; so I will
thank you, friend Tip, to get out your knife and rip this heavy crown from
my forehead.”

Tip soon cut the stitches that had fastened the crown to the Scarecrow’s
head, and the former monarch of the Emerald City removed it with a sigh of
relief and hung it on a peg beside the throne.

“That is my last memento of royalty” said he; “and I’m glad to get rid of
it. The former King of this City,
who was named Pastoria, lost the crown to the Wonderful Wizard, who passed
it on to me. Now the girl Jinjur claims it, and I sincerely hope it will not
give her a headache.”

“A kindly thought, which I greatly admire,” said the Tin Woodman, nodding
approvingly.

“And now I will indulge in a quiet think,” continued the Scarecrow, lying
back in the throne.

The others remained as silent and still as possible, so as not to disturb
him; for all had great confidence in the extraordinary brains of the
Scarecrow.

And, after what seemed a very long time indeed to the anxious watchers, the
thinker sat up, looked upon his friends with his most whimsical expression,
and said:

“My brains work beautifully today. I’m quite proud of them. Now, listen! If
we attempt to escape through the doors of the palace we shall surely be
captured. And, as we can’t escape through the ground, there is only one
other thing to be done. We must escape through the air!”

He paused to note the effect of these words; but all his hearers seemed
puzzled and unconvinced.

“The Wonderful Wizard escaped in a balloon,” he continued. “We don’t know
how to make a balloon, of course; but any sort of thing that can
fly through the air can carry us easily. So I suggest that my friend the Tin
Woodman, who is a skillful mechanic, shall build some sort of a machine,
with good strong wings, to carry us; and our friend Tip can then bring the
Thing to life with his magical powder.”

“Bravo!” cried Nick Chopper.

“What splendid brains!” murmured Jack.

“Really quite clever!” said the Educated Woggle-Bug.

“I believe it can be done,” declared Tip; “that is, if the Tin Woodman is
equal to making the Thing.”

“I’ll do my best,” said Nick, cheerily; “and, as a matter of fact, I do not
often fail in what I attempt. But the Thing will have to be built on the
roof of the palace, so it can rise comfortably into the air.”

“To be sure,” said the Scarecrow.

“Then let us search through the palace,” continued the Tin Woodman, “and
carry all the material we can find to the roof, where I will begin my work.”

“First, however,” said the Pumpkinhead, “I beg you will release me from this
horse, and make me another leg to walk with. For in my present condition I
am of no use to myself or to anyone else.”

So the Tin Woodman knocked a mahogany center-table to pieces with his axe
and fitted one of the legs, which was beautifully carved, on to the body of
Jack Pumpkinhead, who was very proud of the acquisition.

“It seems strange,” said he, as he watched the Tin Woodman work, “that my
left leg should be the most elegant and substantial part of me.”

“That proves you are unusual,” returned the Scarecrow. “and I am convinced
that the only people worthy of consideration in this world are the unusual
ones. For the common folks are like the leaves of a tree, and live and die
unnoticed.”

“Spoken like a philosopher!” cried the Woggle-Bug, as he assisted the Tin
Woodman to set Jack upon his feet.

“How do you feel now?” asked Tip, watching
the Pumpkinhead stump around to try his new leg.”

As good as new” answered Jack, Joyfully, “and quite ready to assist you all
to escape.”

“Then let us get to work,” said the Scarecrow, in a business-like tone.

So, glad to be doing anything that might lead to the end of their captivity,
the friends separated to wander over the palace in search of fitting
material to use in the construction of their aerial machine.

 

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