MAGICBOOK







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The
Magic Book of
? Oz ? 

 

Chapter One

Queen Lurline and Ozymandius

THERE WAS a time very long ago when the world was fast becoming a civilized place. Becoming civilized is in many ways a good thing, for it is like growing up; but to the magic-folk and fairy-peoples, it is a most discouraging turn of affairs. When this happens, when a country becomes civilized, when there are too many buildings and roads and people concerned with working and money, it drives away the magic from a land and all the magical beings must go elsewhere to live. That is just what happened back in those days.

A band of fairy-people on their way from here to there, led by their Queen, whose name was Lurline, happened to look down in their flight and saw, between the clouds, a beautiful landscape far below. What they saw was a little continent—smaller than any of the others—in the middle of the great ocean, far away from Australia or America or the rest. This continent, called Imagination (the "magi" part refers to magic, you know), was so isolated that it had remained uncivilized; and between its shores dwelt many humble mortals with childlike hearts who still lived among the magic-folk. Some parts were desolate, even a little dangerous; but on the whole it was a quaint and lovely place.

"It surely isn’t right that this land below will finally be like all the rest," said Queen Lurline to her fairy-advisers, as they flew around her in wide circles, still looking down. "They too must become civilized in time; and then the magic will depart from their midst, and the last contact between our kind and mortals will be broken."

"Sad, sad, how sad!" cried her advisers all together, looking anxiously at their queen to see what sort of advice might please her.

"But perhaps something can be done," continued Lurline after thinking for a moment. "Of course we are not permitted to meddle too much in the destinies of the earth-people. But limited though our powers may be by fairy-law, we are not helpless to do what is right."

What she did was this. With the help of her fairies she wove a spell of separation and protection around the continent, causing the nearby parts of the ocean to be cut off forever from the rest of it, so that it would be very difficult—not impossible, but almost—for the outside world to get in. The small part of the ocean that was now enclosed by the magic wall, and which surrounded the continent of Imagination on all sides, was given a new name, the Nonestic Ocean.

"You have done well, O Queen," chorused the advisers.

"Yes, I think I have," agreed Queen Lurline, who always agreed with praise. "If they wish to become civilived, they will do so. But it shall be on their own schedule, and nothing shall be forced upon them by the rest of the world. We have done a good deed, haven’t we? And now," she concluded, "let us proceed on our way."

The fairy-band flew on, and many years passed before they happened that way again.

"Look," said Queen Lurline, "there below is that happy continent we protected from civilization and its discontents."

Now the Queen had one adviser, a boy-fairy, whose name was Ozymandius; this means "the great and good knower of What Is To Be" in the language of the magical folk, where names always describe the real nature of the person. As he knew What Was To Be—insofar as it could be known at all—he often had to disagree with the decisions made by other beings less blessed with the wisdom of foresight. Because of this the others usually did not like him as much as they liked themselves. Now, frowning, he spoke up.

"Good Queen," said he, "if it was your wish to protect the mortals who live in this beautiful land, I fear there may be a bit more to be done. Let us fly on a little further, and I will show you another sight."

The fairy-band flew on, not sure whether to smile or frown, looking at their Queen, who wasn’t so sure herself. After a little while the clouds below began to thin out and finally disappeared altogether, and they saw what Ozymandius had wanted them to see.

In the middle of the continent was a large fresh lake of the purest water, sparkling a deep blue-green beneath the sun. The lake was so big that, if it had been nothing but water all the way across, it would have covered quite a portion of the continent—like the hole in a doughnut. But it wasn’t all-water after all, for it was mostly filled by a four-sided island. The lake waters surrounded the island like the moat around a castle.

This island was the most splendorous expanse the band had yet seen, covered completely by a lush green quilt of different kinds of trees and grasses, with round hills and modest mountains poking their heads up here and there, and the sunlight making little diamonds on merry streams and laughing waterfalls that no mortal eye had ever seen.

"Listen to the birds!" cried Queen Lurline.

"We are listening, O Queen," chorused the others.

"They are more content here than anyplace else on earth," said Ozymandius. "My foresight tells me so. It is so with all the beasts, as well. And what is more remarkable, they have this great contentment even in the presence of mortal men!"

This statement provoked many outbursts of astonishment. It is well known that mankind and beastkind generally do not get along.

"You say there are men here, Ozymandius." Queen Lurline turned a rather serious gaze upon her subject, who now hung immobile in his flight, like a dragonfly. "What sort of men are they?"

"There are men and women and children, four tribes of them living in four separate settlements on the four sides of the island. In the eastern part of the island the people call themselves Munchkins. In the west are the Winkies; in the north, the Gillikins; and in the south, the Quadlings. They are pleasant, peaceful, innocent mortals; most of them are farmers. All the settled areas are close-by to the shore, and some of the people travel across the lake, where they have commerce with the people on the opposite side. The island people are not afflicted with any great ambition for themselves or their children. For now, they are as content as the beasts and birds that live in the forests."

The Queen nodded to show that she understood, but said pointedly, "You have shown us this for a reason, Ozymandius."

"I have indeed, gracious Queen," he replied. "It is my fate to know something of What Is To Be, and I foresee your happiness darkened by regret one day to come."

"But why?"

"Because these peaceful people will come to a bad end unless we do more than we have done," said Ozymandius. "The people of the mainland will increase in number, for they cannot help it, and some day they will cross the lake from all directions in fleets of boats and claim the island for themselves. Then there will be terrible fighting."

"I cannot bear the thought of it!" exclaimed the Queen. "It seems I must think once again."

She proved equal to this daunting task, and a plan of action was evolved in a few fairy-heartbeats—which is very little time indeed, for fairy hearts beat as fast as those of hummingbirds. First, by magical art, all the living things in the lake that surrounded the island were moved gently to new homes that were safer and more pleasant for them. And then the fairies flew low above the now-empty waters, almost touching the waves and moving very fast as they spoke the words of a spell of evaporation. All the waters rose up, and the waves became a fine spray, the spray became a cloud of steam, the steam became a mist that was hard to see, and finally the faint mist became nothing at all. The lake bed, which was several score miles between its former shores even at the narrowest, lay dry and empty all around the island.

Then the fairies of Queen Lurline ordered the lesser spirits of the lower air, who have no will of their own and must do the bidding of others, to gather sand and dust and sharp bits of rock from all around the world and fill up the lake bed all the way to the top, making a flat surface. They then cast three enchantments on this desert waste.

The effect of the First Enchantment was to make the whole desert as bleak and hot and forbidding as possible, day or night. Even the air above became repellant, full of fumes that rose straight up into the sky, foul enough to discourage all but the highest-flying of birds.

The Second Enchantment began at the second mile out—from the island side and from the opposite side as well. It would cause anyone hardy enough to pass the first mile to become overwhelmed with the instinct to turn back and flee to safety.

But the Third Enchantment, which began with the third mile and extended all across the desert to the other side, was the most dreadful, and would only catch those who were blindly foolhardy. Should any living creature touch the surface of the desert from that point forward, even through materials like leather or wood that had once been part of something living, that unlucky traveller would turn instantly to sand and dust and fall to pieces with the very first step.

"This terrible enchantment is necessary if we are to achieve our purpose," said Queen Lurline. "Now the island is no longer an island in water, but an island in a deadly desert, like an oasis. In fact, it is doubly protected, for the continent around it is also cut off from the mortal world." With that the fairy-band flew off again; and if anyone noticed Ozymandius shaking his head, no one cared to mention it.

Time passes swiftly in the sky-world, which is where fairy-folk of Queen Lurline’s type reside. When they once again found themselves in the neighborhood, it seemed they had been there recently; though in fact generations of mortals had lived and died down below.

"That desert is surely an ugly scar upon the land," commented Lurline. "One wonders what it is doing so close to such a lush and pretty country."

"You ordered it put there yourself," Ozymandius made answer as he flew nearby.

"Did I?" she exclaimed—though it was rather languid for an exclamation. "I wonder why."

"To protect the people of the country and preserve their innocence."

"A worthy goal," said the Queen. "I was wise to have done it, not to mention good; and vice-versa."

The boy-fairy lowered his eyes. "I must speak honestly, O Queen," he said softly. "The desert is not enough, if it is your wish that the people below remain happy. Even now there are so few of them, and the land surrounded by the desert is so wide and spacious, that the four tribes haven’t yet bumped into one another. But that will change, as it always does. They will meet; and when mortals meet, there are disagreements and wars, and soon enough their present contentment will be lost to them."

The Queen shook her head impatiently, and all her advisers—except Ozymandius—shook their heads too. "What fools these mortals be!" Lurline liked the sound of that, and repeated it a few times, for emphasis.

"Sadly, my Queen, foolish is just what they are," concurred Ozymandius, "for they are very young compared to us. Consider this. The lovely land below us has no name as yet—no single name, that is. The whole of it is called by the Munchkins, Munchkin Land, for they think they dwell there alone and it is theirs to name as they please. But the Gillikins call it the Nation of the Gillikins. To the Winkies it is Great Winkiedom. The Quadlings know it as the Country of the Quadlings. I foresee and forehear that when the tribes meet, they will fight a war on the subject of which name shall be the official and proper one, and that will be the end of happiness."

"I won’t have it!" cried the Queen imperiously. "But I have already cut the continent off from the rest of the mortal world with an ocean barrier, and I have cut this central land off from the rest of the continent with a desert barrier. What is left for me to try?"

Said Ozymandius, "I see what you will do, and I see what will happen if you didn’t do it—though of course you will."

"Then I command you to advise me," said the Queen.

"The four peoples of this cut-off land are too innocent and unworldly to live forever in peace. They will ruin their own happiness if they are left to be ruled in the manner of mortals, by monarchs and generals and bullies and persons who think themselves better than everyone else. They need someone wise and foresighted to settle their disputes and to advise them—" Here Ozymandius gulped. "—just as I have advised you."

The Queen nodded her agreement. "I must leave one of my band behind."

"And it shall be me, Queen."

"It shall be you, Ozymandius," said Queen Lurline in the manner of a royal decree.

"And you have some further thoughts," said the boy-fairy with sorrow shading his voice; for it is a hard thing for a fairy-being to be deprived of fellowship with his kind for even a short span of time.

"I do. They are coming swiftly now, my thoughts. Mortals do not like being told what to do. It makes them unhappy. They will not accept the judgments of someone too different from themselves. Furthermore, it is a bad thing to have a ruler who cannot sympathize with her subjects, and there is much about mortals that fairies, with all our magical arts, cannot understand. So what is wanted is someone who is both fairy and mortal in one. You know that I am right."

"Yes," he replied in resignation.

"Then there is no reason to wait," said Queen Lurline as the rest of the band looked on in wonder. "It is my decree that you shall live among these mortals as one of them, with half your fairy magic taken away; and as you will have to get used to being less than you were, Ozymandius, I am shortening your name to Oz, which means ‘the great and good’ with all the rest left off. Come to think of it, we will call the country below the Land of Oz, to instill respect for you among the people and prevent their fighting over the name."

"It is a good plan—that I know," said Ozymandius, now called Oz.

"Of course it is. And there is more. So as not to show favor to one tribe or another, you will dwell in the very center of Oz, in a house where the north winds and the south winds meet. Let the animals show you their secret paths, and you shall make them wide enough for people to use as well, so they can come to you when they require your advice and good judgment."

Oz smiled at his queen. "I will pave the principal paths with yellow brick from the fairy kilns, so the rains and forest roots will not destroy them over time."

"That is a fine idea," Lurline said approvingly. "Now you’re in the spirit of the thing."

"But my Queen, in all humility, there is a request I must make." Oz tried to look both humble and imploring. "You have commanded me to give up a great deal, and depart from the company of my brothers and sisters. Shall I go through all my days without love or companionship, alone?"

"No, that would be too cruel," said the Queen thoughtfully. "Though we fairy-beings and mortals do not mix well, it is true that you will be only half a fairy from here on, and the other half mortal. Yes—and you will seek love, and marry, a mortal of the Land of Oz. Your firstborn child, whether boy or girl, will inherit your fairy powers, but only when he or she is ready to take over the crown of the Rightful Ruler. And that will be the rule from then on."

"And then?"

"And then there will be a new Oz; or if it is a girl, an Ozma. The former ruler may choose freely to retire to the sky as a full-fledged fairy again, or to remain on earth among mortals. That seems fair," she said definitely. "As to the Oz mortals, we will make it so there is no illness and no death among them as long as the Rightful Ruler is upon the throne. They will not grow old haphazardly as mortals usually do, but will always stay at their true ages, which is the age they are inside, in their spirits. All they need to do is be good and faithful subjects and in general behave themselves; and anyone can do that, you know."

And so it was done, and Queen Lurline and her fairy band travelled on, leaving one of their kind in Oz to serve as Rightful Ruler. Ozymandius was right, as always, when he said that these actions would prevent Lurline from feeling any regret; for the fact is, over the ages she forgot about Oz and its people completely.

 

 

 

Chapter Two

Princess Dorothy and Glinda’s Handmaid

 

THE southernmost part of the Land of Oz is the Quadling Country, just as it was many ages ago when Ozymandius became the very first Rightful Ruler; and in the southernmost part of this southernmost part, on the very edge of the Deadly Desert (which the Quadlings sometimes call the Great Sandy Waste) stands the proud and many-spired castle of Glinda the Good, sorceress supreme and special adviser to Princess Ozma, ruler of all Oz. That the castle is itself a thing of magic is clear to all who pass, for its walls of polished marble are trimmed in row after row of tiny rubies that gleam an inviting red in the daylight and glow a soft crimson at night. From all the high places on the castle roof wave the special banner that is the emblem of the Quadlings, consisting of five stripes in different shades of red, with three silver-white stars arranged in the center like the points of a triangle, two stars above and one below. Red, as you may know, is the favorite color of the Quadling people, and silver-white is the color of all who work good magic; so the banner well represents the love and loyalty of the Quadlings to the great sorceress who is their friend and protectress. She is not exactly their ruler. They have—somewhere or other—their own Quadling King and Queen for that purpose, if it should ever be necessary to make a law or issue a decree. But it never is necessary. Furthermore, the Country of the Quadlings is part of the Land of Oz, and Princess Ozma, living in the City of Emeralds at the exact center of that fortunate land, is their true sovereign.

On this day, which might well have been in Autumn, any of the ornamental girl guards who took turns standing by the castle gates might have seen, if they had been looking, a tiny dot far off on the winding road that leads from the Emerald City to Glinda’s domicile. To a rapid clip-clopping sound the tiny dot grew swiftly into the form of Princess Dorothy, who rode in a comfortable little two-wheeled buggy of the kind called a shay, adorned with the royal ensign and filligree of Ozma’s court. The horse that drew the shay might at first glance have seemed too small to pull such a load, for it was hardly larger than a big dog; but closer inspection revealed the quaint shape of the Sawhorse of Oz, a being fashioned entirely of wood who had been brought to life by a magical powder and who had great knotted muscles beneath the tree-bark that served him for skin.

"We have arrived, Princess," the Sawhorse called out in his rough and gnarly voice over the monotonous sound of his gold-shod wooden hooves.

"I can see it with my own eyes, Sawhorse," replied Dorothy. "But thanks. I was just afraid I might nod off along the way, you know. You’re not ’specially talkative company."

"No," conceded the wooden beast. "But then again, what have I to say?"

The contraption came to a stop, almost too suddenly, before the gates of the castle. Dorothy, the Kansas girl who had been made a real Princess of Oz by Ozma, stretched and stepped down daintily to the tiles of the forecourt.

It would be hard to say just how old Dorothy Gale really was, for ever since she had come to live in Oz permanently—and this was many many years ago—she had not aged even a single day in appearance. She still seemed a sweet golden-haired child, perhaps no more than ten or eleven years of age, and her manner was as breezy and venturesome as when the terrible cyclone had first carried her to the Country of the Munchkins more than—could it be?—one hundred years before.

Dorothy straightened her stylish dress of true Ozian gingham, and nodded at the two girl guards at the gate, who knew her well; for she was a frequent visitor to the castle of Glinda the Good. One of them touched a hidden mechanism and the ruby-studded gates, which had seemed solid and formidable, melted away into thin air. At this a girl rushed out, paused for a moment, and then bowed low before Dorothy.

"Oh, please don’t!" cried Dorothy. "I’m just reg’lar folks, you know."

"No, you are most irregular," responded the girl as she stood upright again, "for you are a Princess, Princess Dorothy of Oz. I ought to have known you right away from your portrait in my mistress’s bedchamber."

"Well, perhaps I’m not so reg’lar at that," admitted Dorothy, "but still, I don’t care for too much bowing. You’re new, aren’t you?"

The girl nodded and gave Dorothy a shy smile, which brightened a plump pretty face wreathed in hair the color of sun-darkened brick. Dorothy noticed that the girl had blue green eyes, the blue one being the one on the left. "Yes, Princess. I am one of Glinda’s new handmaidens, those privileged to wait upon her inside her private living chambers. There are new ones all the time; for my mistress does not like to see anyone wear out, and thinks we should all do many different things so as to stockpile our remembery with good things. My name is Notmarie."

"To be sure," said Dorothy, "but what is your name?"

"Why, that is my name," Notmarie replied.

"Oh. Then That is what I’ll call you." Dorothy clasped Notmarie’s hands. "And you just call me Dorothy."

"I shall," said Notmarie, as they began to walk hand-in-hand into the inner courtyard of the castle.

"Since you have red hair, I figure you must be a Quadling," observed Dorothy. "Where in Quadling Country do you come from?"

"It’s far away from here, to the north, near the further edge of the Dark Forest. Do you know that forest, Dorothy?"

Dorothy nodded. "I should say! That’s where my friend the Cowardly Lion once fought a giant spider—such a dreadful old thing! And then—do you know of the Hammer-Heads, That?"

"The Hammer-Heads that what?"

"Oh, you’d know ’em if you saw ’em," answered Dorothy. "Their necks stretch out like Jack-’n-the-Boxes."

"I have heard of them," said Notmarie, "and of the Fighting Trees, and the tiny city made of China. But those are all many Quadling miles from the cottage where I lived with my mother and father and three brothers and three sisters."

"That’s a pretty big family, That," commented Princess Dorothy.

"That it is. You might have heard of them," continued the little handmaiden. "My brothers are Notalbert, Notaworri, and Notanuff. My sisters are Notalice, Nottewdaye, and Notaneemoor."

"Not any more?"

"She’s the youngest. Our father is Notmomma..."

" ’Course he is."

"And our dear mother is Whooalze."

"Is she well known, then?" inquired Dorothy politely.

"Not especially, Princess. Why do you ask?"

Dorothy frowned, for this exchange left her in some perplexitude. "Well, since we’re friends, I don’t mind telling you, That, I’m really quite muddled."

Notmarie put a conspiratorial finger to her lips. "Oh, what a lovely name, if a bit unusual. But if you don’t mind I will still call you Dorothy. It’s shorter, and I am short myself. Now let me announce you to my mistress."

None of this at all helped Dorothy in her muddlement, but she wisely decided to let it pass. Notmarie pressed a button next to a speaking-tube that protruded from the wall of the inner courtyard, and the tube stretched out to form a real mouth with perfect lips of ruby-red. "Yes?" asked the tube.

"Please tell Mistress Glinda that Princess Dorothy has come to visit," said the little handmaid.

"Mistress Glinda already knows," replied the speaking-tube, "and awaits the Princess in the Hall of Receiving." With that the tube ceased to look like a mouth and became once again just a little funnel of red copper.

"Will your animal friend need any attending?" asked Notmarie, gesturing Dorothy toward the great double-door that led from the sunlit inner courtyard into the castle proper.

"The Sawhorse? Not a bit!" laughed Dorothy. "He is content to just stand in one place without moving until I come back. I ’member I once asked him what he thought about during all that time, and he told me he was so ’mazed at being alive he didn’t need to think of anything else."

Notmarie led Dorothy through the high doorway and into the richly appointed halls of Glinda’s castle. A pastel light, gentle and inviting, glowed everywhere, not from any lamp but from every corner of the air.

In the Hall of Reception stood Glinda the Good herself, who greeted the Kansas girl warmly like the old friend she was.

The sorceress Glinda, stately and elegant, appeared to every eye a beautiful young woman. Her long lustrous hair was of scarlet color with the glint of gold, and her silver-white gown bore many red gemstones to dazzle the eye. Her lips were as calm and perfect as a painted doll’s, and her eyes, which shone with wisdom and just a trace of mischief, were of a crystalline blue-violet hue not found anywhere else on earth. About her neck was a golden ribbon intertwined with silver, to which was attached a single ruby pendant; and on her head she wore a crown of the Egyptian style—backward-sweeping quills of pink metal, imitating the wings of a heron, with a woven veil that draped down to the middle of her back.

"What may I do for you today, dear?" asked Glinda as she released Dorothy from her embrace. "I am always glad to see you, but I sense you have come here on a mission."

"I have for sure," replied the girl. "You see, it’s Professor Woggle-Bug. He’s gotten one of his ideas again, and just won’t let up on it. He’s worried about my edj’cation."

Glinda smiled at the mention of one of Oz’s queerer inhabitants. "If he is concerned about your education, why does he not give you a few of his Learning Pills?"

Professor Woggle-Bug, an ordinary woggle-bug who had become Thoroughly Educated by classroom learning, and later on Highly Magnified to the stature of a grown man, was known far and wide for his self-proclaimed attainments as a thinker and an educator. Perhaps his most notable invention is the Learning Pill, which comes in a variety of pleasing flavors and allows the absorption of an entire college course in a single swallow.

"Well," said Dorothy, "you know those pills of his don’t always work so well on folks like me who came to Oz from the outside world. All the facts get scrambled up so you end up knowing less’n when you started. So Woggles thinks I should go all around Oz and learn interesting things the old-fashioned way—not in a classroom, thanks to goodness, but by asking questions."

"There is some wisdom in that," admitted Glinda. "Then have you come here to ask me questions?"

"If you don’t mind," Dorothy nodded. " ’Course I already know a lot of things general-like, but I was thinking just the other day that I don’t know too many of the details; and it’s details that the Professor thinks I’m slow in."

Dorothy and Glinda now retired to a comfortable sitting room, with the handmaid Notmarie following behind in case her mistress should have any further instructions. The sorceress clapped her hands, two brisk claps, and a little fire sprung up in the fireplace. She and Dorothy sat down on a sofa that curved like a half-moon, so they could face one another.

"Ask what you wish, dear," said Glinda; "and then we shall have lunch."

 

 

 

 

Chapter Three

Dorothy Asks Her Questions

 

DOROTHY opened her purse of polished green leather and withdrew a small brass box fashioned in the shape of an ear, decorated with many intricate curly-cues. A little key protruded from the side, and this Dorothy wound tightly.

"The Wizard came up with this," the girl explained. "He calls it his Magic Mechanical Ear. When it’s all wound-up, it listens to everything that’s said that is worth listening to; and then later on you can ask it questions, and it’ll tell you what it heard. He says they have things like this in the outside world now, even in Kansas—but his is much better, because it just ignores all the silly things people say when they’re not being ’specially careful."

"How very useful!" said Glinda with just a trace of amusement.

"I’ll use it to keep ahold of your words, so I can hear ’em over and over when I write my report for the Professor," continued Dorothy, setting the box down on the sofa. "Now then. I’ve worked out my questions all in my mind. The first one is, Are you really a mortal or a fairy-person? I’m asking because I got to thinking that when I first met you, when the Winged Monkeys carried me over the Quadling Forest, you were called the Good Witch of the South, but when Ozma brought me back to Oz just a couple years later you called yourself a sorceress."

Glinda regarded her friend thoughtfully. "I remember those days," she replied. "I have never told you much of my story—not you or anyone—because Ozma had asked that knowledge of the workings of the magical realms not be spread too widely, for it can do great injury to ordinary people; and as our Rightful Ruler she wishes happiness for her subjects. Do you promise, dear, that you will be cautious what you write about these secret things?"

Glinda looked very serious, and Dorothy nodded her head gravely and crossed her heart.

"Then I think it will be all right to tell you," said the Sorceress. "You ask whether I am a mortal or a fairy-person. It’s not quite so simple as all that. Did you know that Ozma and I are relatives?"

"No!" Dorothy exclaimed, her eyes wide at all the new things she was learning.

"Yes; I am her eighty-eighth cousin thrice removed. Both of us have the same ancestor, Oz Mandius, the first Rightful Ruler of this land, who was by transformation half-mortal and half-fairy himself, and who wed a mortal woman. So you see I am descended of a line in which the two sorts are mixed together."

"You haven’t ever told me about your parents, Glinda," observed Dorothy. "I just thought you never had any, being a fairy."

"My parents are no longer living," Glinda replied, "for they opposed the rule of the old Wicked Witch of the South, and as punishment she turned them to glass goblets and dashed them to pieces in the fireplace after a toast, which prevented them from living."

"Oh my!" Dorothy gasped. "How awful!"

"Oh, it was a long time ago, Princess," said the sorceress in a comforting tone. "even before the Wizard, whom we called the Great Oz, came down from the sky in his balloon. But the Rightful Ruler, Oz Pastoria, had been stolen and hidden away by enchantment; and I think if he had still occupied his throne at the center of the Land of Oz, the full force of Queen Lurline’s protective fairy-spell would have preserved them. Many things were different when the Rightful Rulership was a vacant position, you know. People grew older and it was not impossible to die. I was a young girl when my parents were lost to me, and I was heartbroken. I vowed to myself to master whatever magical arts were necessary to defeat old Kragmagda, who held the whole Country of the Quadlings in thrall."

"In what?" interrupted Dorothy politely.

"It means she was mistress of everything, her will supreme. For many years I lived in the Quadling Forest and studied the arts of nature magic; and because I had some fairy blood in my veins, and was working toward a good end, the fairies of the ground and air, of the plants and animals, told me a few of their secrets. And so I became the Good Witch of the South and deposed the evil Kragmagda. But for all my knowledge, I was only a sort of magician, really, and had not the power to defend the Quadlings from all danger. But I feared to advance myself further, lest I attract the attention of the Great Oz and his armies."

"It seems so silly to think that way about the Wizard, knowing him now," commented Dorothy. "But I s’pose you didn’t know he was just a humbug."

"I only knew that he had driven back the witches of the east and west, and that Kragmagda was afraid of him. It was after his departure, while the Scarecrow ruled in the Emerald City, that I began my course of study in silver sorcery, which is sorcery used in the service of good. I mastered my craft in time. But I could not honorably call myself a true sorceress until I was officially admitted to high sorceriety and received my Great Gift."

Here Glinda paused mischievously, enjoying the fascination on the face of her friend. "Oh, Glinda!" cried Dorothy. "Don’t leave me all pins-an’-needles! Tell me what your gift was! Was it a dress?"

"No."

"Your necklace?"

"No."

"I know! Your castle."

"No indeed," smiled Glinda. "But it is something wonderful and full of power, like nothing else in this or any other world as far as I know; and you have seen it so many times I think you have long since taken it for granted."

Dorothy leapt to her feet excitedly. "Please don’t make me guess! You’ve just got to show it to me!"

"And so I shall," laughed Glinda the Good merrily, rising from the sofa. She led Princess Dorothy through the halls of the castle, the girl guards saluting at every turning as their mistress passed. Little Notmarie—who had been awaiting Glinda’s further wishes outside the room where she and Dorothy had been speaking (for that is what a handmaid does)—followed a respectful distance behind.

Even before Glinda opened the brass door of her private study with a double-clap of her hands, Dorothy thought she knew the identity of the Great Gift; and now a gesture confirmed it. "There it is," said Glinda.

In the center of the high-domed, circular chamber (which Glinda called her magiquary) was a broad pedestal of white marble veined in ruby. The top was cut off at a slant, like an old-fashioned writing desk—the kind that you write on while standing up. Resting upon this surface, fastened to it by sturdy chains and six golden padlocks, was a very large and thick book. This was Glinda’s Great Book of Records, which Dorothy had seen ever so many times over the years. It was illuminated by a sunbeam which fell from a round window in the middle of the dome high above; and the fact that the sunbeam shone down day or night proved that it was magical in nature.

No doubt you have heard of this magic book, for it is surely the most useful tome in all the world. It is very large, bigger even than the Atlases that you find in libraries, and taken as a whole, cover and all, it is too heavy for even three strong men to lift—much less three typical Quadlings, who in general are not especially strong. But for all that, it had once been stolen by a wicked magician named Ugu the Shoemaker. It was after its return that the Record Book had been moved from a table in Glinda’s drawing room to its present place, which is much more secure.

But I have yet to remind you of exactly why the Book is an item wonderful enough to be a Great Gift for a would-be sorceress. The Book of Records, which has existed in one place or another since the very beginning of time on our planet Earth, contains notations of every interesting event that has happened anywhere in any country at any time, all in perfect order and—though not always very detailed—completely correct; which is a claim even the best encyclopedias dare not make. As a great many events are occurring in every second of every minute of every hour, each and every day of the year, more and more notations are constantly being added to the last page of the Book. Indeed, Dorothy once took a look at that page and could see only a blur that made her eyes ache, so rapidly did the page fill up. You might think the Record Book would by now have spilled over from between its covers. If it had not been a magic book, I hesitate to imagine how many pages it would contain after all these centuries of years. But it is indeed a magical object, printed by the elves of Inka upon a finely-woven paper milled by the wood-nymphs, and they arranged it so that the book never grows any thicker or needs any more pages than it already has.

Furthermore, to allow a record of so much information to be useful at all, it is part of the enchantment that the Book always falls open at just the place where the events are listed that one is interested in at the moment.

All these things Dorothy already knew; but she had never known that the Book of Records was a gift conferred upon Glinda to signify her advancement from Good Witch to full Sorceress.

"But ’zackly how did you beat the Wicked Witch, Glinda?" asked Dorothy, holding the Magic Mechanical Ear in her hand after winding it with the little key. "It must have been hard, since you weren’t yet a sorceress."

"I had to outwit her," was Glinda’s answer. "I was not powerful enough to destroy her, for she could not be melted like the Wicked Witch of the West, who was conquered by one litle girl and a pail of water." She was referring, of course, to Dorothy herself, who had accidentally destroyed the Witch on her first journey to Oz. "Besides, I didn’t know Kragmagda well enough to judge whether she could help being evil, and it is wrong to punish someone for something they cannot help."

"That’s true," Dorothy admitted.

"But I found another way. I used my witchcraft to create a dustpan filled with magic dust, which I threw into the air upwind of Kragmagda’s red-brick bungalow. Now the upstairs of the house was Kragmagda’s personal quarters, where she lived, and it had open windows all around; for she liked the shivery breezes and enjoyed looking down at her many Quadling slaves as they labored. The magic dust rode the breeze through the windows, and she breathed it in without knowing it. Once inside her it worked its charm, which she could not remove without knowing the cause."

"What did it do to her?"

"It aggravated her allergies," answered Glinda. "Whenever she tried to use any instrument of magic, she broke out in hives and had to scratch so fiercely she couldn’t concentrate. And when she tried to speak the words of any spell or enchantment—even a little one—she began to sneeze, one sneeze after another, which spoiled it completely."

Dorothy couldn’t help laughing at the thought of a wicked witch laid low in this way. "Why, that would be more than enough to discourage a person, I ’spect."

Glinda nodded. "She was very discouraged. And so one day she was gone; she had crept away in the night with just her cuckoo-clock and her piggy-bank. Nailed to the door of her house was a notice written on her official letterhead, which went like this—‘I hereby resign, quit, and renounce my position as Incorrigible Dictator and National Witch, as it appears my services are no longer desired.’ She had signed underneath and gone away, no one knows where. It was then that the Quadlings pulled their old King out of safe storage and had him give me the authority to watch over the Quadlings—who are my own people, after all—for as long as I live, and for as long as I am good. And that," concluded the Good Sorceress, "is enough to tell you before lunch."

 

 

 

 

Chapter Four

The Book and The Quill

 

As Princess Dorothy and Glinda the Good entered the hallway from the study, Glinda took notice of Notmarie waiting demurely four steps from the door.

"You may dust the magiquary now, if you wish," Glinda said with a smile; for her servants came to her willingly from all over the Land of Oz, and she treated them as friends and equals.

"Yes, Mistress," responded Notmarie with an anxious nod of her head and a dainty curtsey. She was something of a shy and retiring sort of girl (much too much so, to tell the truth) and very much wanted to please Glinda and remain in her employ, for this was considered a great honor.

In the study Notmarie went straightway to the broom closet, which was hidden behind an ornate panel that blended nicely with the rest of the wall. The little Quadling took out a feather duster, dust rag, and dustpan; but she had scarcely begun to work when she paused. On the carpet next to the base of the marble pedestal was something that glinted in the bright magic sunbeam from above. She picked it up and examined it closely. It was a tiny, delicate key made of polished green metal into which a single emerald had been set.

"Oh, I know what this is," Notmarie said to herself; for she had heard Dorothy speak of the Magic Mechanical Ear and the key that was used to wind it up. "Princess Dorothy must have dropped this." This thought led to another and another, as thoughts do when one is distracted, and Notmarie found herself thinking of the bits of conversation she had overheard concerning the history of the Land of Oz and the magic of the Great Book of Records. Of course, she had dusted the covers of the book, and the pedestal upon which it rested, many times. But she had never looked up anything in it. Now it occurred to her to look up what her parents had been doing at that time long ago when the Great Oz—whose Nebraska name was O. Z. Diggs—had first come to the Land of Oz in his big balloon. She set down her dusting things and opened the magic book.

The Record Book fell open at Notmarie’s touch as if its great weight had been turned to nothing at all. At the top of the big page thus revealed was a heading, denoting a certain second of a certain hour of a certain date of a year many years ago, and the first entry below this heading spoke of Mr. Diggs and his balloon. Searching the page for a mention of her parents, little Notmarie stood on the decorative rim that girdled the base of the pedestal, and rose up on tip-toe. That, I’m sorry to say, was the girl’s first real mistake, for one foot slipped and she thought she might take a spill to the floor. It was then that she made her second mistake. Flinging out her hands to soften the fall, she plucked from its holding-clip Glinda’s quill pen.

Some of my readers may not know what a quill pen is, as they are no longer in fashion. It is a stiff long plume donated by some bird or other for the purpose of writing. The spiny point, on the end opposite the feather, is to be dipped in a little well of ink and used to write with. Sometimes a whole word or two can be written before another dip is necessary. But that is an ordinary quill pen, and a sorceress could not be expected to use something so plain as that. Glinda’s magic quill, with which she made notes while studying the Book of Records, did not require dipping or any ink at all. It made its black mark on any kind of paper just by the touch of its point. Its other end, the feather end, was like a perfect eraser, able to whisk aside and completely remove any word or letter that it swept across. This extraordinary quill had been given to Glinda by a lavender oztryx whom Glinda had assisted in the northern Gillikin Country, where purple hues are favored. The oztryx had plucked it from among her own tail feathers, and as the hen was versed in scratch-magic, the quill was magical as well.

With the quill in her hand, Notmarie fell across the open book. Then she steadied herself and caught her breath. "I’m so clumsy," she thought, "but no harm done." That was her first thought; but then she looked down at the page that the Book of Records was open to.

As you recall, Notmarie had been looking at the page that spoke of the moment O. Z. Diggs had first landed in Oz. Near the top of the page had been this notation—which, by the way, Notmarie had not had a chance to read:

O. Z. Diggs has now come down in his balloon in the Land of Oz.

That is what had been written in the Book. But Notmarie had brushed against the page with the feather-end of the magic quill, and one part of the sentence had been erased. It now read like this:

O. Z. Diggs has n come down in his balloon in the Land of Oz.

There was a blank space where something used to be—we know it was where the "o" and "w" of "now" had been printed. The blank was easy to see, even though only two letters were gone, and the longer Notmarie stared at the page, the more the blank seemed to stand out. "What have I done?" thought the handmaid in a guilty whirl, ashamed of the displeasure her carelessness would cause her mistress. "And what shall I do?"

Now the smart thing to do would have been to confess to Glinda; for after all, Notmarie’s action was just an accident, and Glinda the Good was always a loving and forgiving mistress. But people often do not think as clearly as they might at just the time clear thinking is most needed. Notmarie impulsively turned the quill around in her hand and, after the briefest moment, wrote two letters upon the page before her. The two letters hardly matched the printing of the book; nevertheless, they made the blank space less obvious.

"Perhaps Mistress Glinda will never notice," Notmarie thought hopefully. "And if she does—and asks who did it—then there will be time enough to explain and beg her pardon."

The little handmaid tried to finish her dusting; but the incident seemed to have left her in a nervous state, for all the things on the various shelves now struck her as out of place, as if someone had come in behind her back and rearranged them. So she put away her dusting-things and went out into the hallway.

But leaving the magiquary only made matters worse. The hallways of the castle, which had become so familiar since Notmarie had come to work there, were now different in ways not easy to put one’s finger on. It seemed the halls failed to cross one another where they ought to; doors opened into rooms that the girl had never noticed before; the wallpaper had pastel stripes where it should have had tasteful polka-dots; and even the pattern in the carpet seemed different to Notmarie’s eyes.

"Oh, something terrible has happened to me," she murmured to herself, all in a panic. "My eyes have gone bad—or perhaps my memory. It’s because I wrote in that magic book! But Mistress Glinda won’t mind using a touch of her magic to put me right."

It was strangely difficult for Notmarie to make her way through the castle to the private, sunlit patio where she knew the sorceress would be luncheoning with Dorothy. But finally she stood blinking before her mistress, who was half-reclined upon a thickly cushioned chaise-longue.

Glinda’s eyes fell upon the Quadling girl just as she began to speak.

"Mistress, I—"

That is as far as she got, for something in Glinda’s expression brought her to a stop.

"How did you get in here, my child?" asked Glinda. Her tone was not unkind, yet there was firmness in it. "It is really best to wait to be announced. But no matter. What is your name?"

Notmarie was taken aback by this greeting and was silent for a moment. It was then that she noticed for the first time that there was no hint of any luncheon food, nor of Princess Dorothy, and that Glinda was no longer wearing her beautifully crafted crown, but only a silver tiara.

Finally Notmarie found the voice to respond. "Mistress Glinda, you know who I am. You left me only minutes ago. I’m Notmarie, one of your handmaids."

Glinda shook her head, the smile on her lovely face sympathetic but cautious as well. "I am pleased to meet you, Notmarie. But I think we have never met before. And I am always right about such things, you know."

 

 

 

Chapter Five

The Difference Between W and T

 

Glinda’s calm pronouncement left Notmarie in quite a state, as you might well imagine. In a matter of minutes her everyday world seemed to have been turned upside-down, and things were getting worse.

Notmarie could only think of one thing to say. "Oh mistress, you must be joking!"

"I do not joke, child," said Glinda briskly, "except when I do. And now you must tell me what you wish of me."

But Notmarie scarcely heard this reply. Her brain was in a spin. "Why, Princess Dorothy must be having some fun with me! Is she hiding?"

"And who," asked Glinda, "is Princess Dorothy?"

At this little Notmarie burst out in tears, for she thought her mistress was making fun of her. Glinda gently drew her down next to her on the chaise-longue and touched her hand reassuringly. "Let’s see what this is all about," said the sorceress. She cupped her two hands together, one above the other, and Notmarie had to stop sobbing in order to watch what was about to happen. Glinda began to raise her upper hand very slowly, as if something were pushing it up from beneath; and there between her hands was a little pair of opera-glasses—like dainty binoculars—resting upon her left palm. These she held up to her eyes, aiming them directly at Notmarie’s forehead as she turned the little wheel that adjusted the lenses.

"Oh, I see," said Glinda the Good thoughtfully. "Yes indeed. Your name is Notmarie, and you do believe that you have served me here in the castle for several months. And you think I know a Princess Dorothy—what a sweet smile she has!—who came from a place in the outside world across the desert, and who lives in the Emerald City at the center of this Land of Oz, well to the north of us. There are many other things like that, I see; and right now you are fearful and very confused."

Glinda now folded-up the opera-glasses into themselves with a click, and they vanished from sight. She stood and regarded Notmarie with uncertainty. "But what shall we do with you?" said Glinda, mostly to herself. "These things that you have in your brain are all untrue—except, perhaps, your name. I wonder if you are the victim of a spell."

Taking her by the hand, Glinda led Notmarie into the castle. For an hour she tried to free the girl from her enchantment, using all manner of incantations and magical instruments. But it was no use in the end, for Notmarie still believed what she believed, and Glinda still thought it was all wrong.

"I can’t help you," conceded Glinda. "It seems we have made no progress at all. But let me see." The sorceress went over to her bookshelf, which went from floor to ceiling, and pulled out a compact volume which said on its cover, "The Wizard’s and Sorceress’s New Concise Almanac and Weather-Reckoner." "You see, Notmarie, there is magical weather as well as natural weather," she explained. "When the invisible climate is poor, my abilities are diminished; and—there, you see? The weather is inclement today and for most of the week to come, but Wednesday after next it will turn round, but just for about an hour. Go home to your family and give me time to research the problem. Return to me Wednesday after next at three minutes past eleven in the morning. Perhaps I will have an answer for you then. But you mustn’t be late, for good weather is not expected again for quite a long time, and there is nothing anyone can do about the weather."

Notmarie wasn’t so sure that what she wanted was an "answer." What she really wanted was for everything to be as it had been before. Nevertheless she was too worn-down to argue with the great sorceress. Perhaps if she had carefully explained her accident with the Great Book of Records, there might have been a better result right away; but Notmarie was far too timid and shy for her own good. She thought she daren’t speak up lest she lose her job at the palace. So the next hour found her walking down the northerly road that would take her to the cottage in the Quadling Forest where she had grown up.

As she walked along, sometimes in the shadows of high arching trees and sometimes in the afternoon sunshine, she went over the events of the day in her mind—over and over, with no clue as to what had happened.

But I know what happened, and I will tell you now, so that we will both know a bit more than Notmarie.

You will recall that the Great Book of Records had an entry which read:

O. Z. Diggs has now come down in his balloon in the Land of Oz.

And that by accident Notmarie had erased two letters, leaving the sentence this way:

O. Z. Diggs has n come down in his balloon in the Land of Oz.

She tried to replace the two missing letters, using Glinda’s magic quill. But in her nervous excitment and haste, she made a simple mistake. She wrote in the "o" perfectly well; but instead of writing "w" as she should have, she wrote the letter "t." This made a word, all right, but not the right one. If she had stopped to read the sentence carefully, she would have noticed that it now read:

O. Z. Diggs has not come down in his balloon in the Land of Oz.

As it happens, there is quite a difference between "now" and "not." In almost any other place, this little mistake, which is called a typographical error, would be unimportant. But the Great Book of Records is a magic book, tied by a powerful enchantment to everything that happens, and part of the enchantment is that whatever is inscribed upon its pages must be exactly correct. So when Notmarie carelessly changed "now" to "not," there was only one way for the Book to remain correct, and that was to change the historic facts themselves to match what had been written. As a result it had become true—as if it had always been true—that the balloon bearing the man who would have been the Great Oz failed to come to ground in Oz at all, but passed on over without descending. That is what happened; and everything that would have happened afterwards in Oz, everything that depended upon the erased event, failed to occur. All of which is to say that because of Notmarie, a slip of the toe, and a quill pen, the history of Oz had been turned into a new story.

Notmarie knew nothing of this as she walked along through the Country of the Quadlings. She thought that Glinda, who was after all a sorceress and very wise, must be right. Some person, or perhaps the Book of Records itself, must have put a spell upon the girl, a spell which could only be broken by superior power. It was probably a punishment for her carelessness, she thought.

An hour of pleasant walking passed, and then another. As the shadows began to lengthen a bit, Notmarie took a fork in the road and found that she was leaving behind the more populous southern part of the country, dotted with many farmhouses, and approaching the outer edge of the Great Dark Quadling Forest. This forest extended almost all the way northward to the borders of the open countryside surrounding the Emerald City. To the northwest it ran right up against the Great Dark Winkie Forest, and to the northeast it abutted the Great Dark Munchkin Forest, and both of those forests in turn spread further toward the north until they turned toward one another and joined the Great Dark Gillikin Forest from either side. For in truth there is only one Great Dark Forest in the Land of Oz, a round band of trees many score miles broad enclosing an open region of farms and meadows, called the middle country, with the Emerald City at its center.

Notmarie was a child of this forest, and was not afraid of it. Still, it would be one more day of solid walking before she would arrive home, and she would need some suitable place to sleep. The road had gradually become little more than a path between the tall trees—which was not at all the way she remembered it—and for quite a long time she walked without sight of man or beast. Only the birds called from high above. Now and then she could catch what they were saying to each other. It was mostly gossip.

Suppertime came, and the little handmaid sat herself on a fallen log by the path and pulled from a pocket in her blouse a tiny bundle, wrapped in a red-striped handkerchief bearing Glinda’s monogram. Upon being untied the handkerchief fell open, and its contents grew rapidly to full size, becoming a healthful and satisfying dinner of stork-burgers, fried marshmallows, and tickled carrots, with coconut fizz to drink and chocolate celery for dessert. Glinda’s kitchen servants had prepared this portable meal for Notmarie, as well as two more for the next day; and the girl gratefully finished every bite and drop.

Just as she was wiping her lips with the handkerchief, she noticed a red squirrel eyeing her from a few feet away. "Oh, I beg your pardon!" exclaimed Notmarie. "If I had known you were there, I would have offered you something."

"Quite all right, little miss," responded the squirrel in the sort of twangy, nasal voise you might expect a squirrel to have—slightly Cape Codish. "Most human food is not to my taste, nor is it good for we squirrels who are untame. My brother-in-law lived in a public garden, where the humans fed him a diet of peanuts and macadamias; the salt was bad for his blood pressure. Salt is bad, you know—also pepper, sugar, and butter."

"I didn’t know that," said Notmarie. "Is there any place nearby where I might sleep tonight?"

"There are many such places," replied the red squirrel, "but they are all much too small for a human." After a pause to think, he continued, "Tell me, do you have any objections to bears?"

"Of course not," Notmarie replied quickly, "not if they’re clean and friendly."

"Well, some humans don’t much care for bears however they smell or act," observed the squirrel. "Seeing as you are open-minded, though, I think I can help you."

 

 

 

 

Chapter Six

Ogogo The Bear and Not-Notmarie

 

The red squirrel scampered off into the underbrush and for a moment Notmarie thought she had lost him. But then he reappeared and gestured impatiently for her to follow. This time he moved more slowly, pausing now and then for the girl to catch up; and occasionally he would point out, with his tiny paws, places where Notmarie could make her way—for the growth was thick and it was getting to be twilight.

Presently they came to a mound of earth with a dug-out place in front of it, like a hollow circled by drooping trees and twisted roots. The squirrel climbed up the trunk of a tree and sharply knocked on it several times with an acorn. "Ogogo!" he called out, placing the accent upon the first syllable—Og. There was a rustling in the hollow and a deep gruff sound that might have been a yawn, and a big crimson bear reared up not six feet distant.

"Watterya wan, Zeef?" asked the bear somewhat irritably. "I’uz sleeping."

"You are never not sleeping," retorted Zeef the squirrel, "except when you are hibernating. But if you will rub your eyes open," he continued, "and take a look, you will see that I have brought a guest with me."

Ogogo rubbed his eyes and stood silently for a little while, staring at Notmarie. "Yup-yup. I see ’er," he said at last. " ’sa human cub. Watcher name, girl-cub?"

"Notmarie," she said, nodding politely; for it seemed too fussy to curtsey to a forest creature. "I hope I’m not inconveniencing you."

"Oh no, no, no," Ogogo replied; "not so far. But then we’ve jus’ met. If’n you stay, that might be a diff’ent pail o’ water."

"She needs a nice warm cuddlesome place to sleep tonight," Zeef said, "and as you are able to provide a good many of the needed qualities, I do believe you have an ethical obligation to do so. That is—how recently have you bathed, Ogogo?"

"Jus’n this affernoon."

"That’s all right, then. I am told human girls are sensitive."

"Oh, I’m not a bit sensitive," Notmarie said quickly; for she was looking forward to a night alongside Ogogo, who was as plush and cuddly as a toy.

"A done deal!" exclaimed the red squirrel. He bowed once to Notmarie, very formally—for a squirrel—and suddenly was gone with barely a flutter of leaves.

"The bear is large and burly," said Ogogo after a long silent pause, as if in answer to a question. "For this reason, he is presumed to be mentally sluggish and without wit. Yet the brain of the bear is typically larger than the squirrel, the sparrow, the wood-mouse, or the wildcat. How sad that we must hide our intellectual prowess behind a false front."

"But why must you hide it?" inquired Notmarie.

"Because, little girl, beasts can be as prideful and jealous as humans," he answered gravely. "If I wish to have the companionship of anyone other than my fellow bears—who can be rather dry and stuffy, alas—I must take care not to appear to be better than various lesser personages think themselves to be."

"You have learned to do it well," observed Notmarie.

"Thank you," Ogogo replied with great dignity, leading her through the bushes with surprising daintiness. They entered the dug-out hollow area, which was Ogogo’s home. The place was furnished with a wooden table and a sturdy bench, an elaborately carved wooden rocking chair twice as wide as the human kind, and a huge bed, its mattress bulging with forest leaves. "I regret that I have no library of books with which to entertain you and while away the time," he commented, "but the fact is, we bears tend to have poor eyesight, and no one has yet designed spectacles large enough to fit our faces. So I have had to develop my personal philosophy on my own, strictly through intuition and the observation of nature." He assumed a seat upon the rocking chair, and indicated that Notmarie was to sit upon the edge of the bed, which made a crinkly noise as she did so. Ogogo added: "I do hope you like to talk before falling asleep. I am bursting with insights."

"Oh yes, very much," was Notmarie’s response. But this was said out of politeness. In fact the girl was tired after a trying day. Nevertheless she tried to listen with open eyes as the crimson bear discoursed upon many obscure topics, repeating a number of maxims, proverbs, and sayings he had heard over the years from any number of beasts and birds—and even a few fish, though not many. A good deal of what Ogogo spoke of had to do with food; and most of the rest, with sleeping. Notmarie was glad when the bear lay down next to her, causing the mattress to sag down all around him like a valley. She snuggled up to his warm fur—to try to go anywhere else would have been like rolling uphill; but luckily his fur was very soft, his fat like a pillow, and his breathing as soothing as a lullaby. The last thing she remembered of the night was the drone of a deep bear voice repeating something he had once learnt from a Wise Donkey who lived far away.

A shaft of red-tinted sunlight awakened the Quadling girl to a new day. Ogogo was nowhere to be seen; but as she stretched, he lumbered out of the bushes carrying a brass basin filled with clear spring water.

"Drink some first," he advised, "and then wash yourself. I will go off to gather my breakfast, for I know you already have your own."

Twenty minutes later the girl and the bear were seated side by side on the wooden bench, their breakfasts on the table. Notmarie’s breakfast, from the handkerchief, consisted of lemon-peel sausage and round pink eggs from the golifbird of Munchkin Land, which are laid hard-boiled. There was also some appleseed tea, which warms itself in the apple, leaving the rest of the apple to be consumed separately. Of Ogogo’s breakfast I will say nothing, save that Notmarie took care not to look at it.

"You have told me nothing of yourself, little girl-cub," commented Ogogo. "It is only fair that you give in return as much wisdom as you have received."

So Notmarie commenced telling of her short life and career, ending with the queer events of the day previous. "And so you see, I must return to Glinda a week from next Wednesday, so that she may work her magic and restore my rightful memories to me."

"We beasts know of Glinda the Good," Ogogo said thoughtfully. "She is kind to us, and has never allowed even one tree to be cut down within the borders of the Great Dark Forest. All the naiads and dryads and other nature-spirits commend her highly. If anyone can help you, it is she. But then," he added, "perhaps no one can help you."

Notmarie’s face fell at this, and she finished her tea in silence.

"Memory is overrated," continued the bear presently. "That which it contains does not exist, as it is past. What is now occurring is whisked away in an instant, and what is to come serves only to make us worry. It is best to contemplate only what is eternal and thus is always with us. That is my advice."

"I’m sure it is wise advice," Notmarie said. "Now I must be on my way, I think."

"If you must." Ogogo rose from the bench and led the girl back to the path through the forest. "Keep walking steadily, and by the time you are hungry again, you will have come to a place where many paths come together. Turn around three times to the left and once to the right, and then take the path between the two rose bushes, which ought to take you where you want to go, if you are not too particular."

Notmarie began to thank him; but he turned away in the middle of her sentence and trotted into the underbrush on all fours, vanishing from sight. And that was the last she saw of Ogogo the crimson bear, who was more crimson than ever in the bright morning light.

Fortified by her magical breakfast, Notmarie made her way along the path with a constant step. Sometimes the branches of the trees joined together above her, and she walked in shadow; but much of the time the trail broadened out and became a real road, and she could enjoy the coppery sunshine. She saw no animals along the way, but the birds darted here and there above her and chirped out their greetings.

Just as the sun was at its highest the path entered upon a flat clearing many yards wide, covered with a lawn of green grass, each blade turning to pink at the tip. A number of forest paths came together here; and she remembered what Ogogo had said and what she was to do. Standing in the middle of the open space she turned herself around three times to the left and once to the right. Then she looked for a path between two rose bushes, which she saw right away as there was only one path of that description. Starting along the new path, Notmarie reflected that her memories told her nothing at all of these things.

Some time later, her luncheon complete and the last of the three handkerchiefs used up, Notmarie became aware of another person on the pathway far ahead of her. Taking longer steps, Notmarie began to catch up. The other person proved to be a Quadling girl pushing a sort of wheelbarrow piled with goods of various kinds.

"Hello!" cried out Notmarie. "Wait a moment!"

The girl with the wheelbarrow stopped and looked back over her shoulder. Her face was sweet, round, and pleasant, but as Notmarie closed the distance between them she thought she detected a slight trace of suspicion upon it.

"Hello," repeated Notmarie with a friendly nod.

"Hello yourself," responded the girl. I am told this is a common manner of speaking and not meant to be impolite.

"It seems we are going the same way," said Notmarie.

"So it seems," the girl replied.

"Perhaps we might walk together," Notmarie added.

"Perhaps we might," said the girl; and without further comment, she began to walk, pushing the wheelbarrow which had, Notmarie now noticed, a squeaky wheel. They walked along side by side for a while, the silence broken only by the squeaking, which was very persistent. Then Notmarie said: "I’m on my way home, to the house where I was brought up—the house of my family."

The girl gave a slight nod, and Notmarie was afraid she was not going to say anything at all, which would have made for a dull sort of journey. But after a moment the girl did speak.

"I am also returning to home," she said. "I’ve been to the village that is a half-day’s trip away, south and east, to buy food and other things to last the next few weeks; and then I must go back again."

"I know of that village," remarked Notmarie. "But what do you mean exactly—to buy food?" For in the Land of Oz as Notmarie remembered it, money was not in use. Work was done for the pleasure it gave, and goods were given freely to whomever asked.

The girl now looked at Notmarie wth an ironic expression. "And just where are you from, miss," she asked, "not to know that you have to pay for what you want?"

"I am from here," replied Notmarie somewhat haughtily. "I live with my family in a big cottage of red oak and orange ivy about an hour’s walk further on."

"You are quite wrong," declared the other girl, "for there is only one dwelling on this trail, and it is my own."

Rather than engage in what promised to become a heated dispute, Notmarie asked the girl: "What is your name?"

"My name," replied the girl, "is Notmarie."

At this our Notmarie shuddered and put her hands to her face. She had begun to weep for the first time since the day previous.

"I’m Notmarie!" she insisted through her tears. "You most certainly are not Notmarie!"

"Call me whatever pleases you, I’m sure," said the other girl, somewhat alarmed. "But the fact is, I have always had that name, and I live in a cottage that is just as you described—and it is the only one along this trail, which comes to an end there."

Notmarie—our Notmarie, that is, and not Not-Notmarie—gave a great deep sigh and stopped crying, realizing for almost the first time that it would do no good at all. "I’m sorry. Some strange things have happened to me since yesterday morning, when I was at the castle of Glinda the Good. A spell has been put on me, and I think things are so that never were at all."

Not-Notmarie raised an eyebrow at this. "How peculiar."

"It is very peculiar and very distressing, and I just don’t know which memories are true and which are false. Tell me, is your father named Notmomma, and your mother Whooalze? And are your brothers Notalbert, Notaworri, and Notanuff, and your sisters Notalice, Nottewdaye, and Notaneemoor?"

"Indeed they are," responded the other girl, "just as you say."

"Well," said Notmarie sadly, "I suppose it will be pleasant to see them again, even if they don’t know that I am me; or that the me I think I am is really the you you think you are."

"But you shall not be meeting any of them," said Not-Notmarie.

"Why not?"

"Because not a one of them still lives in the cottage. They have all gone their separate ways, and I live there alone."

"Gone!—but where to?"

"Oh, here and there," Not-Notmarie continued. "Notalbert is a barrister in Winkie Village. Notaworri is a banker in Munchkin Land. Notanuff went off one day to seek his fortune; I don’t know if he found it, but he has never returned. As to the girls, they are all married to stupid Quadling men and live among other people in the south. But I chose not to marry."

"But what," asked Notmarie, "about Mother and Father?—whether they are yours or mine."

"Why, they retired years ago after a hard life, and moved to the east. They live in a nice little hamlet on a bluff overlooking the Deadly Desert."

This answer greatly bemused Notmarie. "I have never heard of anyone retiring," she commented, "nor of anyone having a hard life."

"What would you call it?" asked Not-Notmarie indignantly. "The old cottage, and the little farm around it, is claimed by the Princeling of Guyle. He has always required us to give him half of everything we grow, sew, raise, or otherwise produce. That is our rent, and if there isn’t as much as he expects in a year, he has the right to evict us. So Mother and Father were worn out by their labors, especially after the others had left us. I was always the best and cleverest worker, and can almost keep up by myself; but I think this year might be the very last."

"I know nothing of this Princeling of Guyle," said Notmarie. "Cannot Glinda protect you?"

"No, for she has made a treaty with him in order to protect the rest of the Quadling Country."

"But surely Princess Ozma herself will not allow this!" exclaimed Notmarie. "The Emerald City is not so far from here, and she will make things right."

"Oh, no doubt she will," replied Not-Notmarie; "that is, if you say so. But who is this Ozma? And where is the Emerald City?"

 

 

 

 

Chapter Seven

The Whittled Canary’s Tale

 

I NEED not describe for you how these simple statements affected Notmarie, as by now you surely know. But to her credit, she managed not to cry. She was forming the habit to not do so.

"You must know of the Emerald City," she implored. "Why it’s the only true city in all the Land of Oz. In the middle is the royal palace which can be seen for miles around, which stands at the location of the stone hut where all the former Ozzes and Ozmas used to receive those who came to them for advice; and the city itself is full of wide streets and big buildings of graceful design, decorated with gold trim and many emeralds. It was built by the Great Oz himself years ago, you know. It is said he wished to duplicate some of the finery and grandeur he was used to in Omaha, Nebraska, which is where he came from."

"It sounds well worth seeing," commented Not-Notmarie.

"And you have never heard of it?"

"Not a word. Nor of Ozma, nor this Great Oz you speak of."

Not-Notmarie asked no questions, and our Notmarie had no answers, and so they continued on in a silence broken only by the monotonous squeak of the wheelbarrow wheel.

Along toward sunset, the trail took a bend, bringing to view a cleared area in the forest, several acres square.

"My home," said Not-Notmarie simply. To Notmarie it was her home as well; yet it had changed. The cottage seemed an older, sadder place, and the little swatch of farmland beyond appeared overworked and touched with desperation.

"If you will let me spend the night here," Notmarie said, "I will continue on tomorrow to the Emerald City—whether it is there or not. Perhaps someone there will know something that can help me."

"Spend the night if you wish," the other girl replied indifferently. "I can share one meal with you, I suppose; but one only. And do not expect much talk out of me, for I have been alone here for some time and am quite out of the habit of speaking."

Notmarie smiled at this, which was her first smile in some time. "That’s all right. Last night Ogogo the Bear talked way too much."

They had a small supper in the cottage, sitting quietly as the shadows deepened in a room that was mostly bare. Afterwards Notmarie took the air, strolling a ways down to the old orchard. She remembered it as full of nice smells and healthy fruit trees of several varieties, such as the apple-pear, the banana-peach, and a small stand of mincemeat trees. Those memories were only a few months old, but now, somehow, the orchard was mostly dry dead branches.

Notmarie managed to find a living dessert bush. She was eating the creampuff she had picked—it was a poor and scrawny thing—when something darted across the starry Oz sky and came to rest on the bough of a long-dead calapatha tree. A big moon was out and the starlight was bright, so the girl had no difficulty seeing that it was a tiny canary-bird.

"Hello," was her greeting.

"And to you," the canary responded in a small and chirpy but courteous tone. "I have come for you."

"For me?"

"Yes, for you, Notmarie; that is, if that is your name."

The Quadling girl shook her head sadly. "I think it is. I do hope it is. There is a girl in there who thinks she is me," she said, gesturing toward the cottage.

The bird hopped down to a lower branch and lited right next to Notmarie’s ear. "I know about that," he said. "But it is you I am here for. Here, hold out your finger—I wish you to look at me closely."

Notmarie extended a finger, and the canary leapt onto it, grasping it gently with his tiny claws. He seemed to weigh no more than a pile of dandelions, and Notmarie easily lifted him to eye level to examine him carefully. What she saw surprised her; though how any inhabitant of the Land of Oz could still be surprised by anything is a mystery. The canary was not made of feathers and bird-flesh, but entirely of wood—one single piece of wood without a break, joint, or nail. Despite this, he could unfold and flutter his wings, move his beak and legs, and generally do everything an ordinary canary can do.

"I am whittled from a single branch of pineaway wood," the canary explained, quite unbidden. "If the light were better, you would see how intricately I am made, every feather sculpted with exquisite craftsmanship. My outside is polished smooth where it is not supposed to be rough like feathers, and then varnished with macadamia oil. On top of that, I am painted a variety of bright colors—mostly green, it is true, for I am of the middle country; but with lively trimmings of this and that."

Notmarie looked him over carefully. "Yes, I see. You’re a wonderful sort of thing."

"I am," agreed the whittled canary. "And yet I am not happy. Strange, isn’t it?"

"How did you come to be what you are?" asked Notmarie. "And why did you come looking especially for me?"

The canary ruffled up his wooden feathers once, hopped off Notmarie’s finger, and settled down on her left shoulder. "I will tell you. It is a story that goes back some ways."

And this is the story the canary told.

For centuries after the start of Queen Lurline’s enchantment, all was well among the peoples of Oz, and there was great contentment and peace. The people became more numerous, it is true; babies were born and grew up to their true ages, whatever age it might be, and now and then it became necessary to build a new house or to move a bit further from everyone else. Occasionally some dispute would arise between two persons, or two families, or—very rarely indeed—between two of the four countries: as when the Winkies and the Quadlings argued whether Orange Meadow, right on the border, belonged to one or the other. In such cases the disputants would travel the roads of yellow brick to the middle country where the four principal countries cornered together at the center of Oz, there to consult with the reigning Oz or Ozma in the Hut of Green Stone. All arguments were settled by the Rightful Ruler, whose judgments were always just, kindly, and wise, and from whose decree there was no appeal. Nor did anyone ever wish to appeal.

Starting with Oz Mandius there had been many Ozzes and Ozmas, just as Queen Lurline had planned. Each ruled until his or her firstborn child came of age—which was not a matter of any set number of years, but of inner character—and then the old ruler gave way to the new one, whose fairy abilities and gifts had just then come alive.

During all these centuries there remained local sovereigns in each of the four countries; for some people like to have an aristocracy, and some people like to be the aristocracy, and so the arrangement worked out for the best all around. The Winkies had an Emperor, the Munchkins a Monarch, the Quadlings a King, and the Gillikins a Sovereign—or if a woman held the office, an Empress, Monarchess, Queen, or Sovereigna. As a matter of national pride and popular inspiration, these leaders were usually provided with a better dwelling than those around them, as well as fine clothes, fanfares, and jewelled crowns. They were not expected to do anything with their time. In this way they were just like the kings and queens of the outer world.

About a hundred and a half years ago, the throne of the Rightful Ruler was occupied by a man called Oz Bozkinz—that is, Oz is what he was, and Bozkinz was his own private name. He was a wise and good ruler, but perhaps not so watchful as he might have been, for he failed to notice that four powerful witches, all of them wicked, had turned up, one in each of the nations. Of Kragmagda, in the southern Country of the Quadlings, you have already been told. In the north, where the Gillikins live, the wicked witch was named Mombi. The Wicked Witch of the East, in the Land of the Munchkins, was Quoribble; and her counterpart in the Winkie Country to the west was named Hagnag. Hagnag was the very worst of them.

The four witches leagued together in secret, helping one another seize power in the four lands, deposing the local rulers and compelling them to find some useful employment. The witches ruled their peoples cruelly—or at least, they did them no favors; but the Rightful Ruler, Bozkinz, thought he ought not intervene unless someone asked him to, and the people were too afraid of the witches to ask.

Still, the witches knew that Oz was Rightful Ruler, and feared that he might some day go against them with his fairy magic, which was very strong as long as he held the ancient throne of the land. So they combined their separate powers and plotted against him.

One day Bozkinz left for a few days to hunt gump in the Great Dark Munchkin Forest. A week passed, and another. Had something happened to the King? Even the several gumps who were Bozkinz’s prey became concerned; when the King failed to show up, they made their way to the Stone Hut to ask after him, only to find that his whereabouts were completely unknown.

Then after three weeks a purple vulture with flaming eyes came whirling down from the sky and perched on a tree next to the Hut of Green Stone. All the leaves of the tree turned a deadish brown and fell off in a pile, and the people who had gathered around began to suspect an ill omen. The vulture threw back his head, and a huge flame flashed from his beak, like a bonfire floating in mid-air. In the middle of the fire appeared the face of old Mombi, the Wicked Witch of the North. "Oz Bozkinz is our prisoner," said she. "Do not bother to hope for his escape, for it can’t be done. He and his descendants shall live in captivity to the end of time, and we witches shall run this Land of Oz as we please." Then the flame burst outward and consumed the vulture, and nothing was left but black cinders and a plume of smoke.

With no Rightful Ruler actually ruling, the enchantment of Lurline was weakened a good deal. It was now possible for people to die—and for people to be killed. The four witches weighed the advantages of killing Oz Bozkinz, conferring together at a table with the King himself held captive nearby. But if the Rightful Ruler were destroyed and not just dethroned, Lurline’s spell would be lifted completely and the witches would have to deal with the one enemy they feared most, which was Time itself. For the witches, being gnarled and evil old crones in spirit, showed the signs of great age in their bodies as well. With the Great Enchantment weakened, it was all their powers could do to keep themselves intact and alive. If it were ended utterly, it would be their own end. So they resolved that Bozkinz must be allowed to live out his days.

They decided that Mombi, who had cast a spell upon Oz Bozkinz in the forest, would continue to play the role of his captor: for Kragmagda was too vain, Quoribble too foolish, and Hagnag too vicious to be trusted with such an important responsibility. Mombi went to the little Valley of Narr in her own Gillikin Country, and there she released the King from her enchantment, only to put upon him a curse, a well-contrived but terrible one. If he set one foot outside the borders of the valley, or if he used the least bit of his fairy magic, or if he told to anyone a single word as to his true history and identity—he would begin to shrink in size. In a half-minute he would be half his normal size, and in the next quarter-minute he would be a quarter his normal size; and so on until, by the end of a minute, he would have shrunk down to nothing. He would not be dead, not exactly, but there would be nothing left of him—and that is as good as being dead for the person concerned. Mombi alone could not have imposed such a curse on a fairy-being, not even a half-fairy like Bozkinz. But she was backed by the other three witches, whose power was considerable when pooled together.

Bozkinz resigned himself to living in the Valley of Narr. As to the four witches, no sooner was their goal in sight than they fell to quareling amongst themselves, as selfish people do; for no one of them could bear the thought of any of the others having a part in the rulership of the Land of Oz. So Mombi and Kragmagda, with their armies of Gillikins and Quadlings, went to war against the combined forces of Quoribble and Hagnag. Then Hagnag betrayed Quoribble and made a pact with Kragmagda, just as Mombi abandoned her erstwhile ally and went over to Quoribble. The Wars of the Wicked Witches went on for many a year; and all this while the former king of all Oz, Bozkinz, lived in secrecy. No one knew what had happened to him; only that he was missing.

Bozkinz met and married a girl of the valley, and in time they had a son, whom they named Pastoria. For years all was well as could be—given the circumstances—but when Pastoria reached his eighteenth year he began to show signs of his inherited fairy-magic coming alive in him. If Mombi, the Wicked Witch of the North, had known of this, perhaps she would have risked destroying Pastoria right off. But she had been busy with war, and had forgotten that the offspring of the Rightful Ruler might in time cause her some trouble.

Bozkinz’s conscience weighed heavy upon him, for he knew that his carelessness had allowed the four witches to depose him and bring unhappiness to all Oz. The morning came when, with great sorrow, he resolved to tell his wife and son the truth, whatever the consequences to himself. So Bozkinz wrote it all down in a letter; and then, after kissing and embracing his bewildered family, handed the letter to Pastoria. The youth began to read, but no sooner had his eyes taken in the very first word than Bozkinz began to wither down in size, smaller and smaller, until at the end of a minute he had winked out of existence like a grain of sugar in a cup of hot tea.

As he was of sufficient years in both spirit and age, Pastoria was now the rightful King of Oz. Not confined to the Valley of Narr by a curse as his father had been, but knowing of Mombi’s spies, he slipped out of the Valley one night with his mother and made his way to the middle country, raising an army along the way from the many Ozites who were sick and tired of what the four witches had wrought. Of course the threat of an enemy other than each other brought the four witches together, and the two sides fought it out not far from the Hut of Green Stone. The valor of Pastoria’s army was enough to overcome the witchery of his opponents, who barely trusted one another, and with good reason. And so the witches were driven back to their own countries, where they stewed about this turn of affairs for some time; and Pastoria took the throne of Oz.

Years passed. The witches still ruled in their separate lands, but with the Rightful Ruler upon the throne the enchantment of Lurline had returned to full force. Once again, no one aged or died, and no one ever became ill. In time Pastoria, now known as King Oz Pastoria, became complacent; as anyone does when things go well and our days are occupied.

Alas!—the witches had not given up the fight. They created a magic handbag, emerald-green in color, and then one of their number, old Mombi herself, went to the Hut of Green Stone in disguise (taking care to select shoes that matched the handbag) and humbly requested an audience. No sooner had she been ushered into the presence of Pastoria then she opened wide the handbag and held it up. A smoky black light shone forth in a beam; and when it struck the Rightful Ruler, it caused him to be flattened and folded upon himself twenty times, like a newspaper. He was not hurt at all, but was in no shape to rule the land. Mombi slipped him into the handbag, snapped it shut, and returned to the Country of the Gillikins with Oz Pastoria her prisoner, just as his father Bozkinz had been before him. There she opened the magic handbag and restored the King to himself. And then—but no one knows what happened then, for Mombi did not include it in her press-release.

Since that time (said the canary) more than a hundred years have passed. The Wicked Witch of the East, Quoribble, was scrunched to dust when the house of Dorothy Gale of Kansas fell upon her head. The Wicked Witch of the South, Kragmagda, was defeated and made to flee the Quadling Country by Glinda the Good. In the Country of the Gillikins to the north, old Mombi was put down, and most of her witchcraft taken away from her, by the secretive Good Witch of the North, whose name is Locasta; even so, neither threats nor magic succeeded in forcing her to reveal the fate of Oz Pastoria or his descendants, who would be the Rightful Rulers of Oz. Of the four evil ones, only one remains—Hagnag, the Wicked Witch of the West, who has cruelly enslaved the Winkies and rules to this day from her castle next to Bilious Gorge.

 

 

 

Chapter Eight

Off To The East

 

THE WHITTLED CANARY paused at last and bobbed his head modestly, to show that his story had reached an end.

"That can’t be all," declared Notmarie firmly, "for you have yet to tell me about yourself, or why you sought me out."

"Why, that’s true," responded the canary, "true as truffles on trees. It’s quite a long tale, actually—"

"Oh please," interrupted Notmarie anxiously, "won’t you make it a short one?"

"If I must," replied the wooden bird with sore gruntility. "As to who I am, perhaps you won’t believe me when I tell you."

"I’ll believe you. I promise."

"Then the fact is that it is Oz Mandius, the first Rightful Ruler of the Land of Oz, who now sits upon your shoulder."

"Oh my!" Notmarie exclaimed. As she had promised to believe the canary, she thought she ought to try; but it was far from easy to imagine the ancient king of Oz in the form of a whittled canary.

"You may call me Mandi," added Oz Mandius, "for I hope we shall be friends. Indeed, I know we shall be. I was once called The Great and Good Knower of What Is To Be, and even when I was sent down to earth to rule Oz, I was permitted to keep a large share of that talent."

"But it wasn’t enough to keep you from becoming a wooden canary," Notmarie observed.

"Quite true," Mandi admitted, "true as termites. It goes to show that we don’t always take time to think when there is something we want. You see, after I had sat upon that throne in the Hut of Green Stone for a great many years, I fell in love with a mortal girl from the Country of the Winkies, a pretty girl with short yellow hair curled all in a bunch, like a dandelion puff. Her name was Yammy, and—in keeping with Queen Lurline’s enchantment—we married and soon had with us a daughter, whom we named Ebrateb. In the fairy language, ‘Ebrateb’ means ‘true gold is wisdom.’ She came of age, and we had a grand ceremony to symbolize the passing of the Rightful Rulership. Yammy and I continued to live in the middle country, in a nice house near the Stone Hut; and we had Ozma Ebrateb over for dinner every Sunday."

"I’m sure it was all very quaint," said Notmarie impatiently, "but I do wish you would come to the point."

"Ah!" responded Mandi. "Well. Perhaps Yammy grew tired of having a husband who could see What Is To Be and could never be surprised, for one day she told me she would be happier going off to live by herself in the Winkie Country where she was born; and I saw that this was true. So I told her to do as she pleased. But that didn’t mean that I stopped loving her, for she was quite unique—which is redundant, but true as tinfoil."

Notmarie wanted to ask what "redundant" meant (it means a word that is unnecessary), but she forebore asking and prolonging the story.

"And so," Mandi continued, "I decided to try to reawaken her love with a gift unlike any in the world. At the edge of the middle country lived an old woodcarver and whittler by the name of Parikutt. I went to him and described what I wanted, and a week later a messenger came and told me it was ready. You see his exquisite work before you. I was overwhelmed with its intricate beauty. ‘Do you like it, O Former Oz?’ Parikutt asked me. I should have said ‘Yes indeed’ and left it at that; but I missed Yammy greatly and my judgment, and magical foresight, was much clouded. So I added: ‘I wonder if we might make it move and sing and fly about, like a living bird?’ Now most of my own fairy-magic was gone, you know; for that is what happens when a new Rightful Ruler takes the throne from the old one. But Parikutt assured me he had a few connections among the dryads and wood-nymphs and even the knooks, who tend the infant trees. So he asked me to return in one week more. When I did, he placed the whittled canary between my two hands clasped together, winked twice at me—once with each eye—and pronounced the word ykleuropflescu."

As Mandi had paused again, Notmarie prodded him: "And then?"

"And then my half-mortal half-fairy body turned into a single green bubble, my clothes dropping to the floor in a heap; and the bubble, which surrounded and enclosed the whittled canary, popped with a tinkling sound. And my next thought came from within the canary’s solid wooden head. I had become the very gift I had intended to give to my beloved!"

"My goodness!"

"It was traumatic," agreed Mandi. "Of course old Parikutt was most apologetic, and promised to track down the boastful knook who had given him the incantation. In truth, I think the old man may have mis-heard the pronunciation of the magic word. But nothing would reverse the spell—not even the fairy magic of my daughter Ozma Ebrateb. In desperation, not even bothering to look into the future, I flew on my new wooden wings to Yammy in the Winkie Country and begged her to return to me. But though she was sympathetic, she said she just couldn’t see herself with a carved wooden canary as her husband. And so I went off to live in the woods, and as the centuries passed—"

"Now," interrupted Notmarie, "tell me why you came to me. Do you know something about what has happened?"

The canary flitted up to a nearby branch. "Yes. Two days ago, in the morning, I was overcome quite suddenly by the strangest feeling, as if a lost memory were trying to nag its way into my brain. I felt a sort of urge to use my gift—that is, to know What Is To Be—to look over the times that were coming. Now what I see when I do that is not exactly a picture. It’s more like feelings and twinges, sometimes connected with words. On this occasion I felt I must fly about and seek out someone named Notmarie, and guide her along to someplace else. And so I did. The little twinges led me here, and I knew you by a prickly feeling I felt when I first saw you below me."

Notmarie nodded at this. "I understand. But now that you have found me, can you tell me about the spell that has hurt my memory?"

"Even as you ask, I am feeling my way to an answer: for What Is To Be ultimately holds the answers to everything if one knows just where to look. I see that you made a change of some sort to the Record Book owned by the sorceress Glinda, and in consequence you have changed the whole history of the Land of Oz from that point forward. Your memories are not so much wrong, Notmarie, as out of date. You remember things as they used to be, you see: but a new ‘used to be’ has replaced the old one."

At this explanation the Quadling girl felt considerable shame. But she did not cry, but only asked, "Then what can be done? After the accident I restored the book to the way it had been before, but there must have been something I didn’t do properly. Perhaps if I went back to Glinda the Good, she would try out different spells upon the book until something worked."

Mandi hopped off his branch and perched again on her shoulder. "No, we won’t be doing that. Neither Glinda nor anyone else will believe that the history of the last hundred years, which they all remember so clearly and well, never existed until the morning before last. We cannot prove to them that what one little girl remembers is the truth as it was meant to be, nor are they likely to accept that I am their former king—and your story is a good deal more peculiar than mine. No, I foresee that we shall travel to the eastern part of Oz, to the blue Country of the Munchkins. As to why we shall do it, I’m sure I don’t know; but these intuitions of mine are never wrong." And with that the whittled canary flew off into the darkness.

Notmarie spent a comfortable night in her old house, which was strangely changed yet strangely familiar. In the morning Not-Notmarie bade her goodbye.

"If you travel toward where the sun is rising, you are sure to find Munchkin Land," she said. "I can’t say I understand what you have told me, but I wish you good fortune. Perhaps," she added, "you might do something for me, if all goes well."

"What?" asked Notmarie.

"If you mean to rub elbows with the magical and the powerful, perhaps you might ask someone to take on the Princeling of Guyle and banish him somewhere. Otherwise I don’t know what will become of this little farm, which is all I have left."

"I’ll do what I can," said Notmarie.

"Do you promise?"

"Yes, I promise."

"Well," said Not-Notmarie, "that’s something, anyway." She turned back into the house and closed the door without so much as a wave.

It was easy to see which way was east, for the morning sky was bright in that direction. But there was no path heading that way, and Notmarie had to stop at the edge of the farm where the cleared land met the woods. Just then she heard the sound of tiny wings, and Mandi swooped down before her eyes, fluttering so rapidly that he was almost able to hang in midair.

"You’re ready to commence our journey, I take it," observed the former king of Oz.

"Yes," responded Notmarie. "But there’s no road, or even a trail, leading from here to there."

"What nonsense!" asserted Mandi. "Wait here a moment."

He darted away, returning in a few heartbeats with a small curved stick clutched in his claws. He dropped it into Notmarie’s outstretched palm, and she examined it closely. It was queerly shaped, like a shepherd’s crook or question mark, and the wood it was made of seemed very hard.

"This," announced the whittled canary, "is a trailblazing twig, rare as the aluminum rose and the squared circle but known to the various birds of the forest, who have been my comrades for years and years. There can’t be more than a few in all Oz, and it is good fortune indeed that one happened to be found so near."

"But how can this little twig help us?" Notmarie asked skeptically.

"Hold it between the second and third fingers of your left hand, and walk forward."

She did as she was told; and to her astonishment a smooth grassy pathway, wide enough for two to walk abreast, unrolled before her to a length of ten feet or so, as if the dark forest had never grown there. She took a few steps down this path, and found that the far end of it kept moving along in step with her, while behind her the trees and bushes closed in again.

"I think you’ll agree that the trailblazing twig is just what the situation requires," said Mandi. "Now you will be able to walk easily in whatever direction you choose, and I will fly by your shoulder without having to worry about low branches."

And so in this way, with the trail unrolling before them, the Quadling girl and the wooden bird began their long trek toward the Country of the Munchkins.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Nine

The Tilted House and Who Lived There

 

THERE IS no need to recount the details of the several days’ journey eastward; for nothing of interest occurred. It is true enough that a great many things did not occur. But as they never came to the attention of Notmarie and Mandi, I think we are free to ignore them.

Very soon after they had begun, the faint tinge of Quadling red in the things around them faded away, to be replaced by green. They were cutting across a corner of the middle country, where the Emerald City ought to have stood in all its glittering magnificence. Now, however, there was nothing special to be seen, only a few green-painted farmhouses scattered here and there surrounded by neat greenwashed fences, and a few farmers clad in green overalls working the land that they themselves had cleared and ploughed under.

"We are not far from my old home," commented Mandi, "nor from the Hut of Green Stone, which has stood empty since the disappearance of Oz Pastoria. But it would be best to keep near the border, for the Princeling of Guyle is an unpleasant fellow who might well impede our journey."

"Who is this Princeling?" inquired Notmarie.

"He is a nobody," replied the wooden bird, "a nobody who thinks he is a somebody. You see, with Oz Pastoria a captive, the witches began to fight again amongst themselves; and no one of them was powerful enough to hold this middle land against the other three. Therefore it remained free until a young upstart arose among the local people, got together an army of nine or ten, and proclaimed himself a princeling. His name is Malodo. He calls this country of his, Guyle; and claims that it includes bits and pieces of the four real countries that border it. Now that money has come into style in Oz, he has made a habit of collecting it from others. He has built himself up nicely, and has a house with three turrets, two towers, and nineteen flagpoles flying the national flag of Guyle, which bears a flattering picture of himself on a moss-green background. Every house is required to hoist the flag of Guyle, as a matter of fact. He takes it poorly if you don’t."

"Then he is well worth avoiding," Notmarie agreed.

"Yes," said Mandi, adding, "He is thought to have some wizardry about him, for he has grown only a little older over the last hundred years; and those who have commerce with wizards and witches are usually dangerous."

The magic trail unrolled before them, and soon the colors began to change again, from green to blue; for they had crossed over into the Country of the Munchkins. The surroundings also became darker, the trees taller and thicker in their trunks. They were now in the Great Dark Munchkin Forest, and though the trailblazing twig provided a path to walk on, it did not do anything to light the way.

While keeping generally eastward in their trek, Mandi guided Notmarie here and there to point out good food to eat, visible to his sharp wooden bird’s-eyes but not to those of his human companion. There were berries and fruits in abundance, nuts both shelled and unshelled, an occasional pork-rind bush, and a variety of bread flowers. Patches of chilled milkweed provided liquid refreshment. Night came when the sun went down, and Mandi—who could see in the dark—was always able to find soft spots thatched in moss and clover for Notmarie to sleep on. She never needed a blanket, for it was never cold.

It was strange that neither the Quadling girl nor the former king of Oz knew precisely where they were heading. Mandi simply flew along, guided by his inner sense of What Is To Be.

Around noon of the third day of the journey, the end of the magic trail ahead of the travellers suddenly opened up, revealing bright sunlight, golden with just the slightest trace of powder-blue. The forest had come to a halt at a place where the ground began to slope gently downward, and as Notmarie was thus standing at a high point, she could see for a distance of many miles. "It’s beautiful!" she cried happily; and indeed it was.

Stretched out before Notmarie and Mandi was the broad farmland of the Munchkins, a patchwork of little farms and stands of dainty trees crisscrossed by roads. Far in the distance the horizon was cut off by a streak of an ugly whitish-gray color, like the color of sand, which gave the pretty scene a contrasting stark frame.

"The Deadly Desert!" said Mandi simply.

They made their way down the slope—that is, Notmarie made her way, for Mandi needed only to fly along as usual. But it was a shallow and easy slope, with many flat places to stop and rest; and even here in the open, the trailblazing twig proved its worth, providing a smooth path to walk on.

At the foot of the slope was a stream, which Notmarie crossed on a sheep-bridge made of blue logs. Twenty steps beyond the end of the bridge she came to a road paved in yellow brick.

"I thought I remembered this road," Mandi declared with satisfaction. "You know, it was I who had the several Yellow Brick Roads constructed in the first place, long long ago."

"It has held up well," Notmarie observed.

"Of course," responded the whittled canary, "for I had it made from brick forged in the fairy kilns. It will never wear down from traffic, nor head off in some new direction without permission."

As is the case with roads, this one offered two ways to go—to the right, and to the left. Mandi flew around in a circle, once, twice, three times; and then he gestured with his beak toward the left-hand direction, which appeared to run north of east.

"This is the way," he said. "I feel it."

They went along for another hour and a half, exchanging greetings now and then with the Munchkins they encountered, most of whom were as short as Notmarie, if not shorter still. The people of the east country are the most diminutive of all those in the Land of Oz: and perhaps that is the reason they wear especially tall pointed hats.

The road of yellow brick took a curve round a grove of trees, bringing a new scene into view, and Notmarie suddenly called out, "Oh, look!"

Before the two travellers was a small house made of wood planks. Two things were odd about this house. First, it had four flat sides and a peaked roof, which was quite unlike the round, domed houses favored in most of Oz. But what was really odd was the way it sat on the ground. It seemed to be at a slant, as if one whole side of the floor were lifted up a couple feet higher than the other. And as all the sides were nailed and bolted to the floor, the entire structure was tilted to one side in consequence.

It seemed the tilted house had its backside to the road. Between the road and the house was a broad space which was a flower garden in one place and a vegetable patch in another, all enclosed in a low pickett fence painted robin’s-egg blue. Just as Notmarie spoke, a woman, who had been bending over picking turnips, stood upright. She was a very old woman, quite old indeed, with wispy white hair tucked up in a bun; and though she was little more than five feet tall, she seemed like a giant compared to the Munchkins Notmarie and Mandi had become accustomed to.

The old woman squinted at Notmarie through five-sided spectacles, and then nodded. "Hello," she called out in a sweet friendly voice. "Have you come to see me, my child?"

"I’m afraid I don’t know yet," Notmarie replied. She turned to Mandi, who was fluttering beside her. "Have we come to see her?"

"Yes," answered Mandi decisively.

"Oh, I didn’t notice your canary-bird," the woman said. "Well, if you wish to visit me, you must both come around front, around front I say—so you may enter properly through the front door."

Notmarie and Mandi followed the old woman around the corner of the tilted house, to the side that was the front, although it faced away from the road. In the middle of the front side was a plain wooden door. Leading up to the threshold were several broad steps, each one a little more angled than the one below it, so that the top step matched the tilt of the floor. And next to the steps was a post with a bright blue sign at the top, upon which these words had been neatly painted:

MISS DOROTHY GALE

Late of Kansas, United States of America.

By royal decree

granted permanent citizenship of the

Country of the Munchkins.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Ten

The King and His Prime Minister

 

"SO YOU’VE noticed my sign," said the very old woman with a chuckle. "Not that it is easy to miss, even if you try. The Munchkins made it for me. And they made my fence. Such clever workmen! A little short, I s’pose, but clever just the same."

She opened the door wide—which was not very wide at all—and led Notmarie into what she called her "parlor." But the parlor was the same as the bedroom, and the bedroom was the same as the dining room, and the dining room was the same as the kitchen: for in fact the little house was no more than one square room with a door in front, a door in back, and a single window over on the side, next to an old-fashioned cookstove of cast iron. Although the slant of the floor was not too great, Notmarie noticed that all the furnishings in the room had been nailed down to the floorboards to keep them from sliding to the side. There was a thick carpet on the floor, artfully woven in shades of blue, and also a bed with a quilt, a table, a rocking chair, a big basin with a hand-pump for water, and a few pieces of simple furniture; and that was all.

"All I need," said the woman, as if responding to Notmarie’s unspoken thought. She bade the girl sit down in the rocker, which was attached to the floor on a clever sort of hinge, and then without asking she began to prepare a meal. All the while she talked. And what she said was something like this.

"I came here on a cyclone," said Miss Dorothy Gale. "Do you know what that is, child? A big round windstorm. Picked up the whole house and carried it through the air all the way from Kansas to Oz, right over the desert. Oh my, what a fright! But it put me down gentle enough, I guess; right on top of the old Witch of the East too. Nothing left of her but her shoes—silver shoes. Locasta took ’em: that’s the good witch who lives in the Gillikin Country up north. The house, now, the house was set down on some rocks; it’s all a-slant, y’see. Oh well, can’t expect a cyclone to lay a good foundation, I s’pose."

"Have you lived here ever since, Ma’am?" inquired Notmarie politely.

"Yes, yes," replied the old woman over the clatter of pots and pans. "It was all I had from the old days. Just a little bit of Kansas. But you know, I teach the children here in Munchkin Land," she went on. "Not that I know so much of book-learning. I was just a little thing, my goodness. I did go to the schoolhouse at Calliope Station now and then. I do ’member how to read and write and do sums, and I stored up a pinch of history and map-reading—though it doesn’t do one bit of good, since Oz isn’t anywhere the map, you know. Still, I teach what I can, and I learn what I can. Guess I’m just an old schoolmarm."

"What is a marm?" whispered Notmarie to Mandi, who had perched on the back of the rocker.

"One who marms, of course," he replied. "As in ‘marmalade’."

Miss Gale didn’t hear this low exchange, as she was whipping mashed potatoes in a metal bowl. "So I’ve been here all these years. They say I’m over a hundred. Land sake! You know, when I was a little girl Aunt Em took me to T’peka to visit her cousin, and she was a hundred ’r so herself. But the poor woman couldn’t see or hear or even think straight proper, poor frail little thing. As for me, I’m still healthy as a horse. Must be the air, I s’pect—better than a tonic. But then, looky at this." She pointed at her forehead, and for the first time Notmarie noticed a faint round mark there that reflected the light. "Can you see it? That’s where the good witch kissed me, for protection. I do b’lieve it’s helped me get along as well as I do."

The sound of the woman’s voice was soothing and quite continuous, like the murmur of a brook, and Notmarie felt herself nodding off; only to be startled by the bang of the oven door clanging shut. "Now then," said the old woman, wiping her hands on her apron as she sat down in a spare and straight-backed chair facing the rocker. "I am Miss Gale, my girl, and that is just what you may call me. And what do you call yourself? And where are you come from, and going to?"

"I am Notmarie, from the Quadling Country," Notmarie began. She proceeded to tell a brief version of recent events, leaving out the parts that were hardest to believe, or that involved Dorothy Gale. "And so you see," she concluded, "I am just following Mandi, who knows What Is To Be—though not all of it. It is he who led me to you."

"And so here you are." Miss Gale rose from her chair and served up a nice Kansas-style meal, saying nothing more about what Notmarie had told her; but now and then the Quadling girl thought she noticed the old woman eyeing her curiously.

"Now then," said Dorothy Gale after the pots and pans and dishes were all washed and put away in an old cabinet on the wall. "After you have rested—and you too, Mr. Bird—I do believe we have a bit of walking to do; or walking and flying, I s’pose. For you know, you are strangers here in this country, and I am obliged to show you to the King, who is currently in residence at his Autumn palace, which isn’t far. Besides, you cannot sleep here tonight, as there’s hardly enough room to swing a cat." So Notmarie rested, grateful for the comfort of a real bed after so many days and nights, while Miss Gale finished her tasks in the garden. Mandi simply perched unmoving on the back of the rocking chair, looking like a little painted toy: for he had no need of rest.

The late afternoon found the three of them on the road of yellow brick heading toward the Autumn palace of His Majesty the King of the Munchkins, well fed and well rested—those who partook of food and sleep. In spite of her advanced age and rather frail appearance, Miss Gale was as hardy and vigorous as a soldier on parade, sweeping along in her blue-checked frock and sky-blue sunbonnet, which was tied beneath her chin by a long navy-blue scarf. In her hand she carried a small folded parasol with a lace trim, and the handle of a little wicker basket was looped over her arm. She chatted a great deal, in something of a lecturing tone; and now and then she would use the parasol to point out some sight of interest along the way.

After about an hour the road took a turn around a low blue hill, and when they came out of the hill’s shadow a fence had joined the road, running along beside it for as far as they could see. The fence was made of wrought-iron hoops elaborately interlaced like a string of figure-eights, and instead of ordinary fenceposts it was held upright by round marble columns set in the ground at intervals. All in all the fence barely came up to Notmarie’s shoulder, and Miss Gale could easily rest her arm upon it; for it was made for Munchkins, who are the smallest people in Oz. As you might expect, it was all painted shades of blue, marble and all.

"Why, I think it’s fresh paint!" Notmarie commented.

"My keen eyes confirm it," said Mandi. "Painted just this afternoon."

"Yes," Miss Gale said. "And I know it for a fact, because the King—who is a personal friend of mine, y’see—requires all the Royal Properties and Possessions in Munchkin Land to be kept up right nice; and this fence of his, which surrounds the palace estate, is so long that the Royal Handyman, Painter, and Groundskeeper has to keep t’painting it ’most every day of the year. He does one section at a time, then moves along to the next; and in a year he’s worked his way back to the start and it is time to paint it all over again."

"Is the Royal Handyman, Painter, and Groundskeeper one person or three?" inquired Notmarie.

"Neither one nor three, but seven-in-one at last count," Miss Gale replied with a little-old-lady laugh. "That is t’say, he has seven principal jobs, and must be ready at any time to do any of them, as the King wishes."

"It sounds as though this King of yours is rather on the demanding side," said Mandi as he swooped in circles around the two meat-people. "The best kings are modest in their demands, if they wish to keep the job." Though the whittled canary couldn’t wink, Notmarie heard something in his voice that suggested that he would have if he could have.

"Oh, applefeathers!" responded Dorothy Gale. "All our monarchs are of a kind nature and an even disposition, and no one is ever asked to work more than he wants to. But look now, there he is."

She pointed with the tip of her parasol, and Notmarie saw, far on the other side of a grassy lawn, a figure in Munchkin garb painting the distant fence.

"Is that the King?" asked Notmarie, squinting into the sun.

"Of course not," Dorothy Gale replied. "As if His Majesty would paint his own fences! That, child, is the Royal Handyman, Painter, and Groundskeeper—a very important personage."

A ways further on, they came to a wide gateway in the fence, next to which a bronze plaque was posted:

 

Autumn Palace of

His Majesty

The King of the Munchkins

And Defender of Their Liberty.

His Majesty is

IN

Today.

THERE IS NO CHARGE TO VISITORS.

DONATIONS ARE APPRECIATED.

"Where does the King live the rest of the year?" Notmarie inquired after reading the sign aloud.

"Oh, he always lives here; this is the only palace he has," Miss Gale explained. "As the seasons change they just replace the word Autumn with Winter, Spring, or Summer."

The three passed through the gate and trod up the palace road, which wound its way gracefully among stately low trees and flowering bushes and was paved in blue marbles of various sizes (mostly blue aggies). Finally they came in sight of the palace, which to Notmarie’s eyes was unimpressive compared to the castle of Glinda the Good or, of course, the glorious Palace of Princess Ozma of Oz, which she had seen many times on visits to the Emerald City. The Munchkin Royal Palace resembled all the other houses in Munchkin Land, which are little more than high-vaulted domes, like an igloo, with tall chimneys at either end. But the Palace had three domes instead of one, and many chimneys set here and there instead of just two; so it really looked like several Munchkin houses grown together. There was an open courtyard attending the front door, paved with brick of cornflower blue. A comfortable-looking chair had been set in this courtyard, next to the front door and beneath the national flag of the Munchkins, which depicted three bluebells against a field of periwinkle. A figure was sitting upon the chair, who now rose to his feet with a hearty wave.

"Here he is," announced Miss Gale with a smile. "His Majesty King Ojo IV, monarch of the Country of the Munchkins and Such Related Dominions As May Be." As Notmarie curtseyed with a grave formality, Dorothy Gale continued, "And this girl, Your Majesty, is Notmarie, a stranger to these parts from the Quadling Country; and also Mandi, a magical bird whittled from a single piece of pineaway wood."

"Most pleased to make your distinguished acquaintances," said King Ojo with a broad smile, shaking Notmarie’s hand and nodding at Mandi in a pleasant way. Ojo had jet-black hair and thick dark lashes that set off his eyes, which were a pale turquoise-blue in color. He appeared to be a youth, perhaps only twelve or thirteen as we might think of it, and was no taller than little Notmarie. He did not wear a crown on his head, but his garment was plush and elaborate in design, and he wore gold and silver bracelets and a great many jeweled rings. As it was a warm afternoon and he had been enjoying the air, he had opened up his high collar and undone the top few buttons on his royal shirt.

"I’ve heard of you," commented Notmarie as His Majesty led the party into the palace. "At least," she quickly added, "I do believe I’ve heard your name." She was thinking of an Ojo she had once read about, a Munchkin boy who had had many adventures while seeking the ingredients of a magic potion.

"The name is well known," said King Ojo proudly, "for I am the fourth to bear it, and my predecessors were all esteemed rulers. Come, I’ll show you the Hall of Portraits." He led his guests into a long room, one whole wall of which was covered with framed canvasses the size of men—which in this case was not terribly large. Ojo stopped before one and gestured. "Here you see a most lifelike portrait of King Nunkie, surnamed ‘The Silent,’ who was restored to the throne when Miss Gale, our national heroine, dropped her house upon the head of the Wicked Witch of the East. He said very little during his reign, but if you look closely you can see the gleam of wisdom in his eyes. And here," continued the King, moving along, "is my grandfather’s father, King Ojo the First, who became king when his uncle, King Nunkie, died without an heir."

"Do you mean he was bald?" interrupted Mandi from mid-air.

"No indeed," His Majesty responded, "I mean he had no children. Ojo was King for many years and was well loved. He is also known as Ojo the Lucky."

"Why?" asked Notmarie.

"Because he was not named ‘Aloysius.’ Now here is his son, Ojo II, very nicely rendered. As you can easily see, the artist was in his blue period at the time of the sitting. Ojo II, my grandfather, is known for adding thirty-eight chimneys to the Royal Palace, which formerly had been a bit cool in winter. And this last is my father, King Ojo III, surnamed ‘The Brief’."

"Was he very short?" inquired Notmarie.

"No," His Majesty replied. "It’s because of the tragic brevity of his reign. You see, on the very day I was born my father was so blinded with joy that he tripped and drowned in a big vat of oyster soup, which was being prepared for the celebration. The day was spoiled; and so was the soup." Ojo seemed lost in thought for a moment, gazing at the canvas. Then he said, "I never met my father, but my mother did, and she says I resemble him a great deal. What do you think?"

Neither Notmarie nor Mandi knew quite how to respond to this question, for in actual fact all the canvasses they had seen, like all the others in the room, were quite blank, showing nothing at all. "I’m afraid I can’t see a resemblance," Notmarie said after pausing to think.

"Really? Not a bit?" His Majesty had a hint of merriment in his voice. "Well, perhaps we should move on." They all left the room, and Notmarie had not taken more than a dozen steps when she suddenly exclaimed, "Oh! My goodness!" It was the oddest thing: although the canvasses had all been blank to look upon, she suddenly found that she could remember, in great detail, the four portraits that the King had described, just as if she had really seen them.

Ojo laughed in an innocent boyish way, without a touch of meanness to it. "I always play that joke on new visitors. You see, those are what we call ‘memory portraits,’ crafted in such a way that their looks go straight away into one’s memory without anything being visible to the eye. That way you will always have it with you, wherever you go; whereas ordinary pictures, which show their form but make just a little trace upon the mind, must be left behind and finally are forgotten."

"It’s all most sensible," commented Miss Gale.

"And now," said King Ojo, "I believe I shall summon my Prime Minister, to inspect and pronounce upon you."

Notmarie wasn’t sure she liked the sound of that. Indeed, she was almost sure she didn’t like the sound of it. "What does a Prime Minister do, Your Majesty?"

"Oh, his duties are very important," the boy King replied. "You see, the Monarch must have the unquestioned respect and affection of all the people; or else they will discover that they have no need of him, and throw him out. So whenever a decision is to be made, I make sure the Prime Minister is present. If things turn out poorly, he is always to blame; but if they turn out well, he informs the people that I insisted upon it over his objections."

Mandi lit upon Ojo’s shoulder, which the King of the Munchkins seemed not to mind in the least. "I believe I have heard that the ancient Kings and Queens of Oz had no need of such an arrangement."

"No," Ojo admitted. "But then, they were all half-fairies. And it is a tradition here. And besides," he added quickly, "it was the Prime Minister’s idea, after all."

His Majesty withdrew from his pants pocket a small silver pipe. He put it to his lips and moved his fingers up and down over several of the holes along its length; but no sound was heard.

"A ‘memory pipe,’ no doubt," commented Mandi dryly.

"It’s a magic whistle," said the King, "and the only thing found among the instruments of Quoribble, the Wicked Witch of the East, that came with a card of instructions. Its charm is that it is audible only to the ear of the person desired, and no one else; and it can be heard up to a distance of eight Munchkin furlongs. I have signaled that the Prime Minister should come in from the back yard of the palace to greet a foreign delegation."

"Oh," Notmarie asked, "do you keep him outdoors normally?"

"No, but that is usually where he is, for he is also the Royal Handyman, Painter, and Groundskeeper."

The King, Miss Gale, Notmarie, and Mandi repaired to what His Majesty called the Hall of Emissaries. This turned out to be a large room with an especially high ceiling, hung with banners of many colors—for a change, not just blue. The humans took their seats facing a door opposite the one by which they had entered. Scarcely had they done so but the door swung open and a dignified but quite peculiar figure strode into the Hall.

King Ojo made the introductions. "Miss Notmarie of the Quadling realm; Your Flightiness Mandi, wooden bird of the air; I give you His Lesser Excellency the Prime Minister of the Country of the Munchkins."

But little Notmarie barely attended to the King’s words, for the figure who stood in front of her was already familiar, known not only to her own Quadling people but to the peoples of all the four nations, and the middle country as well. King Ojo’s Prime Minister was none other than the esteemed and famous and congenially stuffed Scarecrow of Oz.

 

 

 

Chapter Eleven

How Two Became Three, Four, and Five

 

 

"CHARMED, I’m sure," said the Prime Minister in a cheerful voice, bowing low, recovering his balance, and then offering Notmarie a gloved hand bulging with crisp straw.

Although the Prime Minister had pulled a gold-trimmed official jacket over his paint-stained overalls, it was easy to see that he was basically a suit of Munchkin clothes, sewn into a pair of curl-toed boots and white gloves and stuffed with straw. His head was a white sack, also stuffed, upon which the farmer who made him had painted a merry face; and he wore upon his head a tall pointed hat which had a wide brim studded with little tinkling bells. Because the Scarecrow—like all scarecrows—had been intended to frighten the crows, the farmer had let out the Munchkin clothing, so that his creation was rather larger than life. He was almost as tall as the grown-up Dorothy; and that is tall indeed for a Munchkin man.

The Scarecrow shook Notmarie’s hand vigorously, if a bit flimsily, and warmly embraced Miss Gale, who was well known at court and a frequent guest of King Ojo, for she was a favorite of His Majesty and His Majesty’s several predecessors, and had been schoolteacher to all of them. When he came to Mandi the Scarecrow had to hesitate, not knowing the proper diplomatic greeting for a small wooden canary. He finally wagged his little finger and made a cooing noise, to which Mandi responded with a dignified bob of his head.

As afternoon turned to evening, King Ojo’s servants provided a light supper, which everyone enjoyed; even those who could not eat it because they had no stomachs or, in the case of the Prime Minister, had only a painted mouth that could not be opened. The locals, royal and otherwise, regaled the visitors with humorous stories, clever rhymes, as well as an odd song about a romance between an ear of corn and a sentimental crow, which the Scarecrow sang in a high tenor. After finishing a carafe of cobalt champagne, which is a Munchkin specialty, the King bade Notmarie, Mandi, and Miss Gale goodnight, and the Scarecrow directed them to the warm and well-appointed guest bedrooms that had been prepared for them.

"As long as you are in Munchkin Land, you shall be welcome guests here in King Ojo’s palace," said the Scarecrow, fumbling with the doorknob to Notmarie’s bedroom.

"Thank you," responded Mandi. "In truth, we shall be departing tomorrow at 9:12 AM." When Notmarie and Miss Gale looked at him in surprise, he added, "I know we shall, for it is a ‘What Is To Be,’ and thus I am able to know it."

"And where will you be headed?" asked the scarecrow Prime Minister.

"Perhaps we shall not be headed at all," replied the whittled canary; "for one cannot be headed without a head, and I have only hindsight to offer. Admittedly it is hindsight in reverse, as it is directed toward the future; but it has no guiding wisdom."

"Alas," said the Scarecrow, "I cannot seem to follow you at all. I haven’t a brain, you see—not a one. The Munchkin farmer who was my father and stuffer did not expect me to be alive, and didn’t happen to think to provide me with anything useful inside this sack upon which my face is painted. I do not even know why I am called a scarecrow and not a crow-scarer."

"You are able to see and hear and speak and walk about, and many other things that a person ought not be able to do without a brain." It was Notmarie who made this observation.

"In fact," said Mandi, "you have been made a Prime Minister; and a completely brainless Prime Minister is hardly to be expected."

"I can make nothing of that, though it seems you ought to be right," was the Scarecrow’s sorrowful reply. "Without a brain I cannot be sure whether I am thinking or not, and so I never know what to do. It’s all very trying."

"Perhaps," said Dorothy Gale, "you ought to stop trying and commence doing."

This brought no comfort to the suddenly pensive Scarecrow, who could not determine whether it was wise advice or something else, or even whether he knew what it meant. "But you know," Miss Gale continued, "if you want, and if King Ojo says yes to it, you might go along with these two on the next part of their journey, wherever it may take them. You may find a brain there."

"Where?" asked the Scarecrow.

"We don’t know yet," Notmarie admitted.

"But still," the Scarecrow continued, rubbing his gloved hands together in what would have been, in others, a thoughtful manner; "still, in all these many years I have not stumbled across a brain here, in the Country of the Munchkins. It stands to reason—though I wouldn’t know so, of course—that I can only do better elsewhere."

"Think it over," said Miss Gale.

"If only I could!" was the Prime Minister’s reply.

Yet he must have done something with the straw in his head during the night, for by breakfast time he had already spoken to the King and received permission to undertake the journey. "Of course it may take quite a while to happen upon a suitable brain," observed King Ojo. "But I can do without a Prime Minister for a season or so. Perhaps I will paint the fence myself, for exercise, as I’m tired of doing nothing." He ordered his servants to clean and press the Prime Minister and stuff him with fresh straw, and also to touch up his painted eyes to ensure that his vision would be especially sharp during the search.

They all said their goodbyes to King Ojo IV, and soon had reached the Yellow Brick Road again. Here Miss Gale surprised them by turning to the right with them, rather than leftward, in which direction her house lay. "I have decided to join you as well," she said firmly. "I should like to see more of this Land of Oz before I die; and as I am already well over one hundred, I s’pose I ought to get about doing it." She did not ask whether the others had any objection, but in fact they enjoyed her personality, which was more Kansas than Oz even after so many years.

"I knew it all along," whispered Mandi to Notmarie; "or at least since the middle of the night."

So now there were four of them, a varied troop of travellers, a Quadling girl, a parasolled American, a wooden bird, and a stuffed straw man. It was not always easy for the four to stay together, for they had different natural speeds. Mandi was swift, like all tiny birds; he tended to dart off this way and that, and then circle back. Miss Gale marched along with a steady stride, sometimes having to pause so that the stragglers could catch up. Notmarie was one of the stragglers; she had never done so much continuous walking in all her life, and were it not for an ointment given her by Ojo, she might have developed bunions. As for the Scarecrow, he was tireless and could probably move about as fast as he wished. Unfortunately his stuffed body had never been particularly well-balanced, and every swing of his heavy Munchkin boots seemed to send him off-course. As a result even his most vigorous walking produced little forward progress—although Notmarie found him most amusing to watch.

They spent the night at the house of the Boq family, who were prosperous farmers and provided them with good food to eat and comfortable beds to sleep in; and by midmorning of the next day Dorothy Gale noted that they had managed to go quite a ways already. "You can see where the road enters the Great Dark Munchkin Forest up ahead. We have almost run out of farmland. I’ve only got this far a few times in my life; sometimes I’ve been asked to tutor a child who lives on an isolated farm."

"But you know, I’ve the oddest feeling I’ve been here before," commented the Scarecrow as his whirling course took him in one direction after another.

"I’m not surprised," said Miss Gale. "It was somewhere near here, within sight of the road of yellow brick, that you were assigned your post by the farmer who made you."

At this the Scarecrow laughed, which threw him into a comical somersault. "Of course! And that accounts for the warm and sentimental feeling in the straw beneath my shirt. I was afraid it might be spontaneous combustion, which is something that happens to straw, you know—straws burst into flame if packed together poorly."

"I didn’t know that," said Notmarie.

"Few people do," observed the Scarecrow. "But I am an expert on the subject of straw, its varieties and characteristic activities."

Soon they had passed the last of the farms, and had entered upon the dark forest region of the country. Here the road of yellow brick had not been maintained. Despite their magical origin, the bricks of the road had become uneven as the ground beneath had given way; and nothing could prevent leaves and branches from coming down, and over the years some parts of the road had become covered up.

"I hope the road won’t become impassible," Miss Gale commented.

"Even the impassible will not prove impossible," said Mandi from high above. "Don’t forget, we still possess the Trailblazing Twig."

Miss Gale carried in her wicker basket a roll of Munchkin sausage that produced a different kind of meat whenever a slice was cut off, as well as a long loaf of bread baked around a filling of butter, mayonaise, and blue mustard. So she and Notmarie always had a sandwich to eat, and the lemon trees that grew here and there beside the Yellow Brick Road could always be tapped for fresh lemonade, which ran inside them like sap. All in all, they had no fear of growing hungry.

In the early afternoon, Mandi reported that he foresaw a cottage coming up around the next bend. Sure enough, there it was, set back from the road a ways.

"I wonder who lives here, out in the middle of the forest," said Notmarie.

"It seems to me—for what it’s worth—that no one at all lives here," said the Scarecrow in reply; "although I suppose someone must have lived here once. Or do houses sometimes come up by themselves, like mushrooms?"

Even in the deep shadows of the forest, it was plain that the cottage was very old and in ill repair, its windows cracked or broken and part of its roof fallen in. Moss caked the walls, and the doorway was covered over with thick indigo-ivy and blueberry vines.

"We won’t get anywhere trying that door," observed Miss Gale. But Notmarie took hold of the Trailblazing Twig, and the vines were magically replaced by a clear pathway leading right through the door and into the living room. However, the effort was to little value. Inside it was clearer than ever that the cottage had been without occupation for a good many years.

"I’ve seen many different kinds of houses," Notmarie remarked, "but never an abandoned house that no one cared to live in. I guess we’ll never solve the mystery."

"And I guess we will," retorted Miss Gale, gripping her parasol; "for I insist on it. I don’t intend to go traipsing around the Land of Oz collecting unsolved mysteries."

"A solved mystery wouldn’t still be a mystery, though," the Scarecrow pointed out.

Miss Gale led the others back out of the cottage and around the side of it, looking for clues right and left, up and down. Suddenly she drew up short and pointed with the tip of her parasol. "There!" said Dorothy Gale in triumph. "What do you make of that?"

At first it was hard to make out anything at all in the shadowy gloom. But after a moment Notmarie had descried a tall tree some distance away. Despite a thickness of moss on the trunk of the tree, one could just see where a wedge had once been cut out of it—long ago, to be sure; for the exposed wood had weathered down and turned the same dark color as the bark.

But that was not the remarkable thing. What was remarkable was a strange shape planted in the ground next to the tree.

"What is that supposed to be?" asked Mandi, swooping around in figure-eights. "I cannot understand what my instincts are trying to tell me."

"I do believe it’s a statue," answered Miss Gale. "Though why anyone should choose to erect a monument out here in the middle of nowhere is a puzzle in itself." She worked her way up close to the statue, her feet sinking deep into the mounds of old leaves that carpetted the forest floor. When she was close enough, she gave it a tap with her parasol. It gave forth a hollow and metallic sound. "Made of pewter! It’s surely a memorial to someone; anyone’s guess what he’s supposed to be doing."

The statue had a manlike form, though lacking in human details. Its body was just a plain cylinder, like a huge thermos bottle, to which jointed arms and legs had been attached. The statue’s head looked a bit like a percolator coffee-pot, adorned with a hinged jaw; and for a hat he wore a large metal funnel. It was his stance that was particularly strange, for statues normally pose in a dignified or heroic manner, whereas this statue was twisted awkwardly with both arms flung up and back.

"Possibly getting ready to pitch a ball in a ball game," commented Dorothy Gale after circling the statue completely. "All I can think of—oh!" Her exclamation burst forth because she had stubbed her toe on something buried deep in the leaves. She bent low and rose a moment later with a large axe in her hand, which she had to strain to uphold, as it was quite heavy. "Now I see!" she said. "It’s a woodman. He once held an axe in chopping position, but it has fallen to the ground."

"And now, my dear lady, tell me why anyone would make a pewter statue of a woodman and leave it out here where no one can enjoy it?" This came from Mandi, who had perched on a neaby branch.

"He’s not pewter," said Notmarie. "He’s tin. He’s the—I mean, a—Tin Woodman." For she had known almost from the start that this was the famous Tin Woodman of Oz, whom she had seen many times in her young life.

The Scarecrow put a hand to his face as if trying to think; and though his painted expression did not change, for it couldn’t, he was able to wrinkle the fabric of his brow. "You see," said he, "this is surely one of those occasions whereupon having a brain would confer a great advantage. I confess I cannot see how one thing can be a man and wood and tin all at one time." Miss Gale was about to make answer, but suddenly she stopped and raised a finger to her lips. In the silence that followed, they all heard a slight sound.

"Like a rusty hinge," said Mandi.

"Perhaps the thing’s joints are about to give way," the Scarecrow commented. "For the sound certainly seems to be coming from the statue."

"My gracious!" exclaimed Miss Gale. "Not just from the statue, but from inside its throat! The statue is alive!"

"Ah," said the Scarecrow calmly. "I was not aware statues ever lived; but no doubt they think the same of scarecrows."

A faint, piteous groaning was now audible to all of them.

"I think if we oil his jaw-hinge, he’ll be able to tell us how else to assist him," said Notmarie urgently—for like every schoolchild she remembered the details of the story of the Tin Woodman. "But we don’t have any oil."

"No, no oil," agreed the Scarecrow; "but on the other hand, or foot, we do have the bunion cream given us by King Ojo, which is certified to have magical healing properties."

"What an absurd idea!" said Dorothy Gale. "But no harm in trying, I s’pose. And if it doesn’t work, well, you are the Prime Minister." She took the little jar of cream from her wicker basket, and in a moment was dabbing it into the Tin Woodman’s jaw-hinges. Following the directions on the back of the jar, she waited for about a minute; and then she took hold of the tin man’s jaw and jiggled it up and down to free it up. A few jiggles later a hollow and rusty voice burst forth: "Enough! Enough! Now my elbows! My wrists!" In less than five minutes the last of the Tin Woodman’s joints had been freed, and he suddenly crouched down and sat upon the leaves that had piled around him. "Oh, that’s good! What wonderful relief!" he sighed. "I thank you ever so much! Not, as it happens, with all my heart—but with all my metal, at least."

"How long have you been standing that way, sir?" inquired the Scarecrow.

"Why, I don’t know," replied the Tin Woodman. "You see, I was caught in a sudden rainstorm, fierce enough to reach down to the ground through all these leafy branches. I didn’t notice that my lower joints had rusted-up, for I was intent on chopping yonder tree. By the time I realized I could only move my upper joints with difficulty, there was nothing to be done but call for help; which I did for a long while, but Alas!—hardly anyone ever passes on the road over there since the witches stole Oz Pastoria away. After a while my jaw was rusted too, and all I could do was look with tin eyes at the spot in front of me; and think."

"At least you could do that," commented the Scarecrow; "which I myself can not. But did your thinking also rust-over in time?"

"Not exactly," answered the tin man. "But the monotony of my existence seemed to put my brain to sleep, for which I am grateful. It was not until just now, when you disturbed me, that I became fully alert again."

"If that is your cottage over there, many years must have passed," came the voice of Mandi from above. The Tin Woodman looked around in surprise until Notmarie offered, "It’s Mandi who spoke. He’s a carved wooden bird."

"Oh," said the tin man. "But yes, I do suppose some great time has passed."

"How long?" asked Miss Gale.

"All I can say is that the rainstorm happened shortly after I became all tin; and at that time the wicked witch, Quorrible, still held the Munchkins in bondage."

"It was my own house that fell on that witch and knocked her flat," said Dorothy Gale. "I am told more than a hundred of years have passed since then."

"Indeed?" said the Tin Woodman; and there was sorrow in his voice. "I was afraid of such a thing. All those I knew and loved must be long since gone; even she whom I was to marry."

"No sense weeping over spoilt marriages," Dorothy retorted. "You might just be glad we came along."

"Oh, I am; surely, I am." The tin man rose to his feet, stretching like one awakening from a good night’s sleep. He looked critically at his arm. "My metal is dulled almost to black," he said. "I look like a stovepipe."

Still talking, they all walked back to the road of yellow brick together—Notmarie, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman; with Mandi flying alongside them. "Am I to understand," asked the Tin Woodman presently, "that you are traveling along the road with no particular destination in mind?"

"That’s so," said Notmarie. "But it appears we are following the road into the interior."

"Then I think you will eventually arrive in the middle country of Oz," observed the tin man. "And you must pass through some dangerous places between here and there."

"Tell you what," said Miss Gale impulsively. "Why don’t you come along with us? You could be a help—you and that axe of yours."

The Tin Woodman looked back at his ruined cottage for a long moment. "I will, for there is nothing for me here any more."

"I’m in search of a brain to supplement my natural, but woefully inadequate, straw intellect," the Scarecrow said. "If there is something you want, you may find it by going from where you are to where you are not. That is what I have been told, at least."

The Tin Woodman nodded, his head-joint making a slight squeak. "What I wish is a heart, a loving heart like the one I once had as a meat person. If there is a chance I might find such a thing by joining you, then I am doubly glad you happened along to rescue me."

 

 

 

 

Chapter Twelve

The Three Wells and Their Guardians

 

"MY NAME is Nick Chopper," explained the new travelling companion as the group resumed their journey. "That was the name I had during my former life as a man of flesh and blood. But there toward the last, my fellow Munchkins were calling me ‘the Tin Woodman of The Forest’."

"And how did you come to give up meat and take up tin?" inquired Miss Gale.

"Let us all tell our stories," suggested Mandi. And so they did. The Scarecrow told of his creation by a Munchkin farmer, his long and tedious years stuck on a post in the farmer’s cornfield as he tried in vain to frighten away the crows, and his more successful career after the first King Ojo discovered him there and gave him a new post at court. Dorothy Gale told of her unexpected trip from Kansas to Oz, its consequences to the Wicked Witch, and her long life as a friend to the Munchkins. Mandi and then Notmarie told the stories you already know well; but Mandi did not mention that he was once the famous Oz Mandius, made King of Oz by the fairy queen Lurline; nor did Notmarie go into the specific reason for her own quest, which was to discover a way to restore the history of all Oz to what it was supposed to be.

Then it was the Tin Woodman’s turn to speak. "I am spared the need to tell you the last part of my biography," he began, "because you have lived it with me. As to the earlier part, I was born in the northern part of Munchkin Land, near the border of the purple Gillikin Country. My father’s name was Twom and my mother’s name was Quimmi, and they gave me the name ‘Jaxd,’ which was most unfortunate, as every third Munchkin you meet is named Jaxd. But I was an unusually strong youth, and very good with an axe; so when I began winning log-splitting and wood-chopping competitions, I took on the name Nick Chopper as a sort of stage-name."

"It is most descriptive," the Scarecrow commented. "But surely it is more a nick-name than a stage-name."

"Now as I grew into manhood," the tin man continued, "I discovered that I had a restless and sentimental nature; I have noticed the two often go together. When I left the place of my birth I spent some time in travel, finally settling for a while here in this part of the country. One day, while at the farmers market buying food, I cast my eyes upon the beauteous form of Nimmie Amee, a Munchkin girl who told me she was in the employ of an old woman who would permit her to see no man. This is no discouragement to the ardent heart, which I possessed at that time; so I courted Nimmee Ammee in secret, whenever she would come to market, and despite all dangers she finally said she would marry me."

"What if you married her first?" asked the Scarecrow.

"Oh, hush!" commanded Miss Gale.

"Well, a complication developed," the Tin Woodman said, resuming his story. "The old woman was in fact Quorrible, the Wicked Witch of the East, who had deposed the ruling royals and held the Munchkins in bondage with her magical arts. She wished to keep Nimmee Amee as a useful servant, and could not afford to have her married; for marriage is said to be a great distraction. So Quorrible placed an enchantment upon my axe, and the next time I used it, it slipped and cut off my left leg."

Though Nick Chopper said this very blandly, Miss Gale gasped. "Land! Your leg must’ve hurt something fierce!"

"Not so much," responded the tin man. "Before the cut, it didn’t hurt at all, for nothing had happened yet; and after the cut, I had no way of knowing how the leg felt, as it was no longer connected to me. At any rate, the loss of that particular leg was quite a hardship, as I happened to be left-legged. So I went to a talented tinsmith, and he made me a substitute leg all of tin, though with joints of iron."

"I think I can guess what happened next," interjected Notmarie, who, of course, already knew the story. "The axe cut off different parts of your body piece by piece, and you replaced those parts with tin; and finally you were tin from top to bottom."

"Except for my iron joints," said the Tin Woodman. "And it was all for naught. Though Nimmie Amee didn’t mind having a metal husband, I could no longer love her, as I no longer possessed a heart. So I lived in my lonely cottage in the forest as a recluse, and then the rains came and rusted my iron joints—which, incidentally, were of the finest imported iron and had been guaranteed against rust for three years, two hours, twelve minutes, and seventeen seconds."

"Well, it’s a most interesting story," observed Miss Gale, "and the sort of thing that could never have happened in Kansas."

"I am sure Kansas has many wonders of its own," the Tin Woodman commented, out of kindness, not knowledge.

There had been a lot of talking, so now it was something of a relief to walk along in silence for a long while. But suddenly Mandi, who had been flying on ahead as a scout, came back and reported that the road was sundered by a wide and deep crack in the earth that appeared to run for miles into the forest on either side. "Then our way is blocked," said Notmarie. "What shall we do now?"

"You could toss me across to the other side," suggested the Scarecrow.

"That would accomplish nothing at all," Miss Gale declared.

"Given time, I might be able to build you a bridge of logs," Nick Chopper said.

"Given time, the crack in the earth might close up by itself," retorted Miss Gale somewhat scornfully.

"I foresee no difficulty," said Mandi calmly. "And please remember that I am the knower of What Is To Be."

In minutes the party had arrived at the edge of the crevice, and were looking down at the jagged rocks far below.

"Any ideas?" asked Miss Gale of Mandi.

"Notmarie has the idea in her pocket," the whittled canary replied; and Notmarie realized he was referring to the Trailblazing Twig. She took it out and grasped it in the proper manner, and immediately a clear trail made of solid air appeared faintly before them, crossing the gap that clove the road in twain as if it had never existed.

"Will that support my weight?" asked the Tin Woodman. "I would not wish any of you to witness the terrible sight of my destruction."

"I’m sure it will hold me up," said the Scarecrow, "for I am only a suit of clothes and a baggle of straw."

Despite the misgivings of the Tin Woodman, the magic trail held up perfectly, allowing them all to cross with no difficulty and then vanishing as Notmarie put the twig back in her pocket to keep it safe. As there was a clearing next to the road, and it was becoming late in the day, the travellers decided to stop and encamp for the night.

That evening the two members of the party who slept, slept comfortably on a mound of soft blue clover, while the others retired some little distance away, where their low conversations would not be bothersome.

It was in the early morning of the following day, just after breakfast, when Mandi announced that they ought to leave the road for a bit and travel through the forest. "Just follow behind me," he said. The Scarecrow asked: "Could one follow in front of you?"; but no one made answer.

With the help of the Trailblazing Twig, they followed Mandi through the forest for much of the morning, crossing more cracks in the ground, some of them wider than the one they had already forded-over. At last the little wooden canary fluttered down around Notmarie’s head and chirped out, "There!"

Before them was a sunlit clearing as broad as a meadow. Within the clearing was a neat circle formed of many different kinds of trees growing side by side, as if planted by a gardener; and within the circle they could see the tops of three old stone wells. With Dorothy leading the way, they approached the well nearest them, which bore an inscription upon the rim of stones that rose above the surface of the ground. The inscription said:

Well And Good

They proceeded to the second well, which had its own inscription:

Well Enough

And at the third well they read:

Well Whatever

"Very mysterious," commented the Tin Woodman.

"Is it the custom to give names to holes in the ground?" asked the Scarecrow.

"Not to my knowledge," responded Notmarie.

"Kindly be respectful or do not be at all," came an odd voice.

"Did you say something?" asked Dorothy Gale, glancing at Mandi.

"These are holy wells, not mere holes in the ground," said another voice, seemingly nearby.

"Who speaks?" challenged the Tin Woodman, raising his axe. "Are you friend or foe?"

"We are friends to our friends and foes to our foes," pronounced a third voice in a calming tone; "but mostly we are trees." And then the travellers realized that the voices were coming from the various trees that encircled the three wells.

"By the way," said an ash tree, "you might consider lowering that axe of yours if your intent is to make a friendly impression." Seeing no danger, the tin man complied, and the ash tree added, "There! Much better, to my way of thinking."

"Momma, that metal man scared me!" sobbed a baby pine tree at the foot of a large one. "Never mind, Eulabranchia," said the mother tree in a soothing tone. "He has put down that awful blade."

"As you can imagine, an axe is no friend of ours," declared an old elm. "Now do tell if there is something you wish of us."

"Or have you just come here to annoy and disturb us and rustle our foliage?" murmured a restless oak sarcastically.

"It’s a little hard to explain why we’re here," said Notmarie shyly, "for we are not entirely sure ourselves. We are guided by Mandi, a wooden canary; and he is a knower of What Is To Be, and his instincts are never in error."

"I suppose you are referring to the tiny thing presently digging its claws into my eighteenth radial bough," continued the oak, who seemed to have a chip on his shoulder. "What sort of wood is he made of?"

"I am whittled from a single piece of pineaway wood," Mandi replied.

"That explains it," said the oak. "We wouldn’t have a pineaway tree in our encampment."

"Now, now, let us be polite," urged a lady redwood tree who, even at her young age, commanded a good deal of respect due to her height. "Strangers, you are welcome here as long as you don’t plan to stay—and are careful with your words, as we don’t care to be cut down."

Miss Gale assurred the circle of trees that neither was contemplated, and then asked them about the three wells; for she knew that Mandi had led them there with a purpose in mind.

"We are the appointed guardians of the three wells," replied the ash tree, "and have been gathered from all over the world and replanted here by the knooks to serve that purpose. We are all speaking-trees, you see."

"It doesn’t seem to me that I see any ‘speaking’," said the Scarecrow. "Not that my opinion is worth anything, as I don’t know what it would look like, or even what it means."

"Perhaps ‘see’ means ‘hear’ in the language of trees," suggested Nick Chopper hopefully. "But tell us, how is it you are able to speak?" he continued, addressing the trees as a group—that is, as a grove.

"All things speak," declared the sarcastic oak. "How is it you are unable to notice?"

"Let us be fair to our visitors," the elm interjected. "Most often we trees speak only in whispers and rustles, and we undertake no effort to make ourselves understood at ground level. But we here have been specially bred and cultivated to speak to ground-dwellers, for that is our purpose here."

"Of course some of us have better diction than others," remarked a eucalyptus. "Those who cannot speak well are at times an embarassment to the rest of us. Not all varieties show an equal aptitude for public speaking, and we have here a rather broad mix."

"Any fruit trees?" asked the Tin Woodman, looking about; for he had the idea Notmarie and Miss Gale might like a change from their sandwich diet.

"Over here!" cried a voice from the other side of the circle. "Strawberry!"

"I’m banana and proud of it," announced another, "and if you don’t care for me, partake of someone else."

"I have always been partial to apple," said Miss Gale. "I don’t s’pose I could pick a few?" She had espied a large apple tree near the "Well Enough."

"I’m Dutch apple, somewhat heavy on the cinnamon," the apple tree responded in a voice with a slight accent. "Take what you wish; I don’t mind."

"No tree minds sharing with others what they are born to produce," said the elm tree, who seemed the wisest among them. "The myth of the selfish tree is just so much story-talk. All we ask is that you refrain from uprooting us, or chopping us down." At this comment Nick Chopper lowered his head in shame, and wished he had anything else in his hand but a woodman’s axe.

"Some trees are not so nice and friendly," Notmarie observed, though somewhat hesitant to speak out. "In the Quadling Country we have Fighting Trees that are a real danger to others."

This comment seemed to provoke an awkward silence that lasted an uncomfortable length of time. Finally the ash tree said, "In every family tree one finds a few rotten branches. Those distant cousins of ours come from bad seed. We have nothing to do with them, nor they with us."

"Let us speak of pleasanter things," said the lady redwood with an attempt at cheeriness. "You asked about our charges, the three wells."

"Yes," said the Tin Woodman, who was anxious to change the subject. "What are they, and who made them?"

"They were dug by three brothers, who were identical triplets who not only looked alike but did everything alike," the redwood responded. "Consequently they were very jealous of one another, and quarreled a good deal. One of them found this nice spot in the forest and dug a deep well, for he intended to build his house here. But alas, the other two dug wells of their own, each one trying to dig deeper than the others. As no one of them was willing to be the first to give up, they simply continued digging until they were lost to sight—perhaps they are digging still. Years later, to bring some good out of this sad affair, the Rightful Ruler of Oz declared this an enchanted place, and brought we speaking-trees here to act as guardians and guides to any who pass by."

"Well, well," Nick Chopper said.

"And why is each well named as it is?" Miss Gale inquired, pausing from her apple-picking.

It was the elm who answered. "They are named after the special varieties of magic that each one has absorbed from deep within the earth. The waters of the ‘Well And Good’ are a powerful moral solvent and spirit-cleanser. A single application will dissolve all wickedness in a person, if it is not too deeply ingrained, thus turning that person from bad to good."

"It doesn’t last," added the oak; "but such scourings never do."

"Now as to the ‘Well Whatever’," continued the elm, "it is so called because one can draw from it whatever item one needs most, or will need most. But only one item is given per person."

"And what of the ‘Well Enough’?" asked Notmarie.

"Leave it alone!" warned the oak tree.

"But why?" persisted the little Quadling.

"One hears different things," said the ash tree in reply. "A marmoset once told me that those who look down the well and see their own reflection lose their souls forever."

"I have heard that the well extends down through the center of the earth," commented the mother pine. "If you were to lean over the edge you would be irresistibly drawn in."

A loud sneeze caused everyone to turn. "It is a well known fact," declared a somewhat withered pepper tree, "that ‘Well Enough’ contains an acid that will strip the flesh from your bones, or the bark from your trunk, in less than—" (Here the pepper tree sneezed again.) "—four seconds."

"In other words, no one know what it will do," pronounced Mandi the whittled canary. "But it is enough of a hazard that we would be wise to avoid it, which is probably why it is called ‘Well Enough’; and I foresee us doing just that."

 

 

 

 

Chapter Thirteen

The Powerful Princeling of Guyle

 

"I’M NOT about to leave here without taking a crack at that ‘Well Whatever’," stated Dorothy Gale with her usual invincible determination. "I am not so old that I have nothing to need."

"We will all try it," said Mandi. "And we shall take some water from the ‘Well And Good’ as well."

"It would have to be ‘as well,’ for well-water is what it is," commented the Scarecrow.

Miss Gale walked over to the ‘Well Whatever’ and sat down upon the stonework surrounding the circular opening, gazing deeply into its clear crystalline waters. "I don’t see anything," she said. Nevertheless she dipped a hand in, and immediately felt, just beneath the surface, a small round object. She grasped it and drew it out into the air. It was a glass bottle with a silver stopper wedged in its neck, looking somewhat like a perfume bottle—all the more so in that it was made of frosted glass, which obscured its contents. "I’ve no use for perfume," Dorothy said tartly.

"Don’t open it yet, madam," advised Mandi. "It is not for the present moment, but for later." So she put it into her wicker basket.

The Tin Woodman drew out a tin jar with a screw-down tin lid. As Mandi did not warn him otherwise, he unscrewed the top and looked within; then he turned the jar over, and found a single word stamped upon the bottom in bold letters:

GUARANTEED

He read the word aloud, and shook the jar once. "It contains nothing at all," he said.

"Then ‘nothing’ is just what you need," observed Mandi.

The Scarecrow added, "At least it is a guaranteed nothing."

"You go next, my straw-stuffed friend," said the Tin Woodman.

The Scarecrow hesitated for fear that the well’s water might soggen his straw. But upon realizing that it required a brain to consider such things, he stuck his hand in and pulled out a tiny porcelaine bell with a polished wooden handle.

"What is it?" asked Notmarie.

"I would say it was a bell," replied the Scarecrow; "and if I had any brains in my head, I would probably be right. But things being as they are, I don’t know. Ought I try ringing it?"

"If you don’t know that it is a bell, it seems to me the thought of ringing it wouldn’t even occur to you," the Tin Woodman observed; so the Scarecrow put the bell away in his shirt pocket.

Mandi now flew to the lip of the well, liting upon the stonework and dipping his head down low. When his head came up, he had something in his beak that was hard to see. "It looks like a worm," said Notmarie. Mandi set the thing down on the stones and looked it over. "No," he said. "It’s not alive. It’s a little round hoop-of-a-thing made of flexible rubber. I believe it can easily be stretched to fit around my neck, where I shall keep it until my foresight tells me it is time to make use of it." So the rubber band was fitted around the wooden bird’s neck, where he wore it like a necklace.

Now only Notmarie remained to take something from the ‘Well Whatever.’ She plunged her hand in and felt all around, but nothing came within her grasp. Finally she withdrew her hand in disappointment, shaking the water from it. "I guess I don’t get anything," she said. "I wonder what went wrong."

"Nothing went wrong," said the elm tree. "The wells cannot fail to do their job; so if you came up without a gift, you must already have in your possession the thing you require." But Notmarie had no idea what it might be (much less what it was).

Now the party gathered at the ‘Well And Good’ to take some of the water that scours-away wickedness. "What ever shall we carry it in?" asked Miss Gale. "It will just sop all away between the wickers of my basket." This prompted the Scarecrow to say, "Doesn’t one of us have a jar now, with a lid?"

"Why, yes indeed," exclaimed Nick Chopper. "It had slipped my mind."

"I appear to have caught it by accident," said the Scarecrow.

"Then it is our good fortune you were standing in just the right place," the Tin Woodman commented as he dipped out some of the well water into the jar. His tin fingers had to touch the water, and Notmarie asked, "Do you feel any different, Mr. Chopper?"

"No," he replied. "Either my wickedness is very deep-rooted and stubborn, or I am not wicked enough to know the difference. I’m sure a man with a real heart would have sufficient wickedness in his soul for the change to be noticed."

At the prompting of Mandi, the travellers now bade the circle of guardian trees farewell; and even the sarcastic oak managed to utter a polite goodbye from amid his gnarled boughs.

It was not very long before the party had rejoined the road of yellow brick, and were heading again in a slightly north-of-west direction.

"We shall cross the border into the middle country soon," noted the Tin Woodman as he clanked along. "Is it really the right thing to do, to bother this Princeling you say lives there now?"

"Right or not, it is what we shall do," Mandi answered. "For it is to be: and What Is To Be cannot not be."

"That made sense to me," said the Scarecrow.

"Which makes it highly suspect," Miss Gale retorted. "But as my only purpose is to see as much of Oz as I can, I have no cause for complaint; as long as we don’t start repeating ourselves."

"I—I think I shall have to meet this Malodo, who claims the middle country to himself, as well as parts of the four countries around it," Notmarie said. "I gave a Quadling girl my promise that I would do what I could, so her land would not be seized."

"We will all stand together with you, my girl, in keeping your promise," said Dorothy. "But I wonder if a tyrant will pay much attention to us."

"He might be a very accomodating tyrant," observed the Scarecrow. "I have noticed that in many cases one need do no more than ask for what one wants, to get it. The trouble is, so few people ever think to ask."

"It seems to me you are almost showing wisdom," commented Nick Chopper, who had become fond of his stuffed comrade. "I wonder if you wouldn’t do better to do without a brain and stay just as you are."

"A person with brains might reach that conclusion," the Scarecrow agreed. "But as I have none, I am convinced I will be unhappy until I get what I seek."

They journeyed on, and it was just coming on twilight when the Great Dark Munchkin Forest began to thin out on both sides of the Yellow Brick Road. They beheld, stretched wide before them, the pretty blue farmlands of this western part of the Country of the Munchkins; and far ahead in the distance they seemed to see just a hint of green.

There were now farmhouses here and there. The party stopped at the first one with lighted windows, where the farmer and his wife greeted them in a friendly way and invited them to stay for supper and remain the night.

"Does Malodo cause you any trouble here?" asked Notmarie at the dining table.

"He has not bothered us so far," replied the farmer’s wife, with a glance at her husband, who was smoking a long-stemmed pipe. "But we know he is very powerful and very vain."

"I see you don’t fly the national flag of Guyle," said Mandi.

"No," said the farmer, "we don’t."

"But we have one in a drawer, just in case," added the wife.

"He is very powerful," said the farmer.

"Malodo once came by wrapped in a cloak and riding a green-striped zebra, along with his great army. There were hundreds of marching men, all in uniform, carrying swords and whips and—what else, my plum?" the wife asked her husband.

"Sticks."

"Yes," she finished, "big sticks to hit people with. A terrible man!"

"Very powerful," said the farmer; and then he added, "Very vain."

Notmarie was feeling less hopeful with each breath, and it was partly to boost her own spirits that she declared, "Nevertheless, we will meet him."

"Yup," said the farmer. "And I think he will meet you as well."

In the morning the travellers had a hot breakfast and proceeded on their way, thanking the Munchkin couple for their hospitality. By the time the morning sun had mounted high in the sky, the change in local color from blue to green told them that they had crossed the border into the middle country. There were many farmhouses here and about, and all the farms seemed to have been industriously worked; but they saw few people out in the open, and those they did see went indoors as soon as the party approached.

"These people are all afraid," said Notmarie.

"Ought I be afraid?" inquired the Scarecrow.

"Not until I tell you to be," Miss Gale answered.

A village had sprung up in the middle of the middle country, and it was easy to find the palace of the Princeling Malodo, with its three turrets and many flags and banners. Notmarie now took the lead. Despite her throbbing heart, she strode up the front sidewalk with the others close behind. Then, with a gulp, she pressed a trembling finger to the doorbell button next to the imposing iron door. A chime sounded faintly within.

A moment passed; and then the door was wrenched open and a large man with a black beard scowled out at the visitors. "Well?" he asked in a rough voice.

"We—we wish to see His Highness, the Princeling of Guyle," stammered little Notmarie. "Is he at home?"

"The question," replied the man, "is not whether you want to see him, but whether he wants to see you. And furthermore, he is to be addressed as ‘His Lowness,’ as my master considers it a well-earned mark of distinction."

Notmarie gathered her courage and said, "Then please do tell His Lowness that Notmarie of the Quadling County, Mandi the whittled canary, the living Scarecrow of Oz, Nick Chopper the Tin Woodman, and Miss Dorothy Gale, killer of witches and official citizen by royal decree, request an audience."

The man looked at each of the travellers in turn, shaking his head skeptically. "Do you ask to see him collectively or individually?"

Notmarie did not know how to answer this; but Mandi quickly chirped out, "Collectively, if you please."

"It is not what I please, but what he pleases," growled the man, closing the door upon them. They all waited there on the doorstep for what seemed an awfully long time, although truth to tell it was only a matter of minutes. But finally the iron door swung open and the scowly-growly man ushered them in.

"His Irritance Malodo, Princeling of Guyle and Various and Sundry Possessions Thereof, has graciously consented to see you," announced the man. "However, he is busy as always with affairs of state, and will only allow you eighty-eight seconds of his time. Do not use them foolishly." He proceeded to lead the little group this way and that through the halls of the palace, which was little better furnished than a cave.

"His Lowness could use a decorator," muttered Miss Gale.

"Indeed he could," said their guide; "but no palace employee remains on the job very long, for Malodo is inclined to fly into a tantrum for no reason and order them destroyed. Of course, it would be wrong to obey such an order, so I let the servants sneak away and then tell the Princeling that the job has been done."

"That is very kind of you," the Tin Woodman commented. "To a person with a heart your actions would surely be quite moving."

"What’s your name?" asked Notmarie.

"I am Razbree Jamb," the man replied. He was still scowling, but his tone had become somewhat less growly.

"Tell me," Notmarie continued, "are you any relation to Jellia Jamb?" She remembered that Jellia Jamb was a favorite housemaid at the court of Princess Ozma.

"Yes, as a matter of fact," said Razbree Jamb. "Jellia Jamb is my grandmother’s mother. She is still very spry at 117 years of age, and lives not far away."

Seeing that the man was in a talkative mood, the Scarecrow now asked, "Are you the official Bell-Answerer here at His Lowness’s palace? I only inquire because, as Prime Minister to the King of Munchkin Land, I thought we might have many things in common."

Unfortunately, this question seemed to remind Razbree Jamb of a complaint that he often brooded over. "I am not, and never have been, any sort of ‘official Bell-Answerer’," he declared somewhat hotly. "I am the official Buzzer-Answerer. I only answer the bell because the true official Bell-Answerer was recently let go—as I described—and the position has not been filled."

"I meant no offense, to be sure," said the Scarecrow hastily.

Razbree Jamb was not entirely placated, adding: "It may seem a small matter to you, but do remember that life is made up of such small matters."

At length he led the visitors into a large chamber lit by smokeless torches. There, seated at a massive desk of polished green wood which was cluttered with many papers, was a muscular man, himself massive, fierce of demeanor and bald of head, who barely glanced up as they entered.

"I am Malodo," announced the man coldly. "What do you want?" Then he added, "Eighty-one seconds left."

Notmarie stepped forward. "We want you to reform yourself and cease oppressing the people who live here and about."

"Please," added the Scarecrow.

Malodo turned over one of the papers on his desk, and then glanced at a small hourglass sitting nearby—an egg-timer. "Sixty-eight seconds."

"It would be a great kindness if you would change your ways," said the Tin Woodman. "You may not realize that you have made many persons unhappy."

"I do realize it," was the Princeling’s response. "Fifty-five seconds remain."

Mandi now boldly landed on Malodo’s desk, right before his eyes; which gave the Princeling something of a start. "Are we to take it that you have no intention of abandoning your wickedness?" At this Malodo stood up from his swivel-chair, and for the first time his visitors realized that the Princeling of Guyle was not so very big a man after all. His arms and shoulders and chest were hugely muscular, but his lower body was as slight as a child’s. In total effect he resembled an ape.

"Is Your Lowness standing in a hole?" asked the Scarecrow in his usual courteous tone.

"Bah!" exclaimed Malodo. "You foolish folk have wasted my precious time, and your own, with this mission of yours. I shall not change, as I have discovered that altering one’s ways requires considerable effort invested, with little likelihood of gain. Furthermore, I do not have the sort of heroic figure that inspires loyalty and love in a citizenry; as you now can plainly see. If I am to have a job like this, doing it in the manner of a wicked tyrant is all that is left to me."

"Still," observed Miss Gale, "it looks like a lot of paperwork and fuss." She gestured at Malodo’s desk.

"Yes," conceded the Princeling, "you’re right at that. There are times when I would much prefer being an annoying private citizen—perhaps a bothersome neighbor—to being His Lowness the Princeling of Guyle. But I dare not quit. It was Hagnag, the Wicked Witch of the West, who appointed me; and it would be unwise to risk the anger of a witch."

During this little speech, Miss Gale had been whispering to the Tin Woodman. Now she said, "Gracious me, why don’t you just take the medicine like everyone else does?"

Malodo frowned at her. "Medicine? What medicine?"

"The medicine, of course!" she responded. "Surely you have it here in the middle country of Oz, just as we do in the Country of the Munchkins." She now produced the sealed metal jar that the Tin Woodman had slipped to her behind her back, and handed it to Malodo, who examined it suspiciously.

"What is it?" he asked. "What does it do?"

"Saved my life, that’s what it does," Dorothy answered smartly. "It’s how I got to this great age of mine—for you know, I’m Dorothy Gale, the one who dropped a house on old Quoribble back at the turn of the last century."

Malodo nodded. "Yes; and that is the only reason I consented to see you. Now I demand to know what is in this jar."

"Hmmph!" sniffed Miss Gale. "I was about to tell you anyway. What you hold is a jar of Professor Biloxi’s Patented Pasture-ized Spellbreaking Formula. One drop a day, under the nail of your right index-finger, is guaranteed to completely ward off any spell, enchantment, bewitchment, or fuddlejam, no matter what the source. Just the thing to keep the witch from your door. I use it reg’lar, and you will notice that I am still alive."

"You say it’s guaranteed?" asked Malodo doubtfully.

" ’Course it is," said Dorothy. "Turn it over and read—if you know how."

"I know how!" said Malodo peevishly. He turned the jar over and read the word stamped into its bottom—

GUARANTEED

and this seemed to satisfy him. "I shall try some now," he said. "And then, as a show of ingratitude, I shall have my army take you all out into the backyard and cut off your heads."

"Thank you," the Scarecrow said. Glancing at the others, he added, "I wouldn’t wish to be beaten with sticks, as it might disturb the lay of my straw."

 

 

 

 

Chapter Fourteen

Earklops the Giant

 

 

THE POWERFUL Princeling of Guyle gave his guests his best ugly glare, which was ugly indeed, and unscrewed the tin top of the tin jar. He sniffed the clear fluid within, and then dipped the tip of his right index finger in it. Immediately a perplexed expression ran across his face and out the other side.

"Something wrong, Your Lowness?" inquired Miss Gale.

"Don’t call me that!" Malodo gasped out. He rubbed a hand to his forehead. "What did you do to me?"

"I b’lieve we’ve cured you of your wickedness," answered Dorothy with a smile, winking an old wrinkled eye at her friends.

"Indeed; indeed you have," said the Princeling, sinking down into his chair. "I regret everything I’ve done for the hundred years I’ve been here."

"Then you won’t bother the people any more with your taxes and decrees?" asked Notmarie anxiously. "You won’t seize their lands?"

Malodo thought for a moment. "As I am no longer wicked, I must be honest in answering you. There must be a few taxes here and there to pay for the things that benefit everyone. But I shall make them fair from now on, and I shall return any lands I seized wrongly, out of wickedness."

"That’s good of you," said the Scarecrow.

"I hope you don’t bear us any grudge for having tricked you," added the Tin Woodman, concern in his voice. "It was ungentlemanly and perhaps unkind; but really, there was nothing else to be done."

"Oh yes," said Malodo, "I see that very clearly. My wicked nature was too lazy and stubborn to consider fairly the possibility of reforming itself out of existence. Neither it, nor I, holds a grudge—indeed, we are most gratified."

"Then this one goal has been accompished," said Notmarie happily, "and I have kept my promise to—to a fellow Quadling."

"And all you had to do was ask," the Scarecrow observed; "just as I suggested."

The Princeling summoned Razbree Jamb and the rest of his palace retinue; and when they had nervously assembled, he announced his reformation and declared a day of feasting and celebration. "Send out invitations to all who live in these lands here and around, the lands that my wickedness claimed for me," directed Malodo.

"And if they do not wish to attend, are they to be destroyed?" asked the head of the Army of Guyle, who was named Imbo Amby.

"Not at all," responded the Princeling, "for I have been scoured clean of my wickedness."

At this the assembled servants and soldiers gave a cheer—a weak and wary one, to be sure—and went about their business.

The party of travellers stayed at the palace of Malodo for two nights. Then, on the third day, they joined the grand banquet and celebration. Nearly all the population of the middle country and nearby areas were in attendance; perhaps because they had heard a rumor that the Princeling was to return to them a portion of the taxes he had taken. And the rumor was true. Malodo spent the better part of the afternoon ladling out coins from the Royal Treasury Trough, using a big soup ladle of hardened gold, which is a common substance in the Land of Oz. The coins, which bore another flattering portrait of the ruler, but this time in profile, were made of good green iron; and if the coins had little real value in themselves, the people knew they could be melted down and made into farm implements or false teeth.

The girl Not-Notmarie was absent from the celebration, and for this our Notmarie was rather glad, as the resemblance between them was enough to have given cause for explanations that Notmarie did not think it best to provide. But she secured a promise from the Princeling that the Quadling farm girl would receive her share of coin.

After the event was over and the revelers had left, Malodo asked Miss Gale and the others what they would do next.

"Don’t rightly know," said Dorothy. "We just follow the tailfeathers of our wooden canary."

Notmarie turned to Mandi, who had perched himself in a small alcove on the wall nearby. "Do you foresee where we ought to go next?"

"I do," said the whittled bird. "It has come to me clearly. From here we must travel further west—west and north."

"Ah, you’ve given us a puzzle to solve," the Scarecrow remarked; "for it seems that one could go west, or one could go north, but not both at once."

There was no reply to the Scarecrow’s foolish comment, for the Tin Woodman immediately said, "West of here is the yellow Winkie Country; and if we travel far enough northward in that land, I believe we shall be in danger of running across its evil mistress, the Wicked Witch of the West."

"Her name is Hagnag," said Malodo, "and I have a score to settle with her; for it is she who tore me from my family as a child and imposed upon me the wickedness that I have now got rid of."

"I thought you were afraid of her, Mr. Princeling," Notmarie observed.

"I was afraid," he confirmed. "But now that I am reformed, I seem to be hardly afraid of anything. Perhaps cowardice is just a form of wickedness."

"Maybe so. Do you wish to come along, then?" asked Miss Gale. But it was Mandi the whittled canary who answered on his behalf: "He will come along, for it is What Is To Be." And that was that.

Early the next morning, equipped with good leftovers from the royal banquet, the group set out for the Country of the Winkies and whatever adventures it might hold for them. Malodo, who was now called "His Most Excellency and Jolly Good Fellow," left the running of the middle country to Razbree Jamb. Razbree Jamb did not complain of this addition to his duties, for there was no working door buzzer to answer at present, and sitting at Malodo’s desk absolved him from the necessity of answering the bell.

No road of any kind led from the middle country into the interior of the Winkie Country, for all the roads of yellow brick had long since been destroyed in an effort to impede the advance of old Hagnag and her enslaved Winkie armies. But with the aid of the Trailblazing Twig they journeyed steadily westward as the sun rose at their backs, peaked overhead, and began its slow descent.

Upon first crossing the border, the party passed through delightful fields of buttercups and daisies, all aglow with yellow in the bright sunshine. But soon enough they were again traversing the forest, which was here called the Great Dark Winkie Forest. It looked very much like the other forests Notmarie had seen in her travels, except that shades of yellow seemed to predominate among the wooded shadows.

"What unusual trees!" remarked the Scarecrow, who of course had never been anywhere outside his native Munchkin Land. He pointed to some enormous stalks that were indeed as thick as tree-trunks.

"Those are not trees, but flowers," responded the Tin Woodman.

"Sunflowers," said Miss Gale, "giant-sized yellow sunflowers! I wouldn’t ’spect to find ’em in all this shade; but then, this is Oz."

"Why, so it is!" the Scarecrow said.

Not long after lunchtime, Mandi, who was flying on ahead as usual, directed the travellers to make a half-turn to the right, which put them on a northerly heading.

"Hagnag’s castle is up there, perhaps a day away, almost to the border of the Gillikin Country," said Malodo. "It is located in the Spiny Mountains on the edge of a deep gorge, and we shall have to cross the first part of the mountains to get to it." This announcement did nothing to improve the mood of the party.

They pitched camp in the forest and spent a warm and comfortable night. In the morning, shortly after they resumed, Notmarie called their attention to the fact that the ground had acquired a very slight upward slope. Within a few hours, the bright yellows splashed throughout the forest had given way to darker shades of yellow, tending toward amber or even brown; and boulders of all kinds and sizes were now seen scattered among the fallen leaves. Finally the trees themselves became scarcer, as if shrinking back in fear of some evil ahead of them, and the travellers found themselves walking in the shadows of low, barren, steep-sided mountain crags.

"We must cross these mountains to reach the castle of Hagnag," explained the Princeling Malodo. "I know and remember the way, for I passed through as a youth, in the opposite direction; and my memory is quite remarkable."

"Then you are not native to the middle country, Your—Your Princelinguity?" inquired the Tin Woodman.

"No," Malodo replied. "I come from a Winkie family. I was the only child, they say, and Hagnag had me snatched from the cradle. I lived in her draughty old castle until I was eleven, while she herself taught me the ways of wickedness and evil. Then, when the Wars of the Witches came to an end—for the other three were either dead or deposed—she sent me to the middle country to insinuate myself into power there; which she assisted by means of her witchly craft. You see, she wanted to make very sure that neither Glinda in the south, nor Locasta in the north, nor the Munchkin King and his witchicidal assistant Dorothy, could seize the central part of Oz. So it is ultimately Hagnag’s fault that I did all those many deeds that now weigh so heavily upon my conscience."

"If conscience gives such trouble, I am glad not to have one," remarked the Scarecrow. "But I suppose that is just a foolish comment, of the kind I am prone to make."

The Trailblazing Twig worked its magic among the rocks just as nicely as among trees, creating a smooth pathway that bridged any gap, dissolved any obstacle, and led them ever onward toward their goal. But it had this disadvantage, that sometimes, in allowing the party to proceed through rather than over or around things, they found their view blocked off on all sides. And that was just what it was like when the travellers began to cross the more uneven parts of the Spiny Mountains. For hours on end they seemed to be walking along at the bottom of a high-sided well—which moved forward just as they did—and which was open only to the sky.

Then suddenly the yellow sunlight was replaced by dark shadow, and the travellers halted in surprise and gazed upward, tilting their heads so far back that the clumsy Scarecrow tumbled over.

What they saw far above was a huge face, the face of a giant, looming like a thundercloud; and what they heard was a thundering voice every bit as big as the face. "Who dares?" boomed the voice. "Who dares intrude upon the Valley of Earklops?"

"He sounds unwelcoming," observed the Tin Woodman, "but we ought not be too hasty to judge. Sounds, like looks, can be deceiving."

The Scarecrow was happy to agree with this sentiment. "He may have a sore throat, you know."

"He probably can’t help having such a deep and echoey tone to his voice, if you consider his size," added Notmarie, trying to convince herself more than anyone else.

Miss Gale gave a sort of snort. "You are all being most ridiculous!"

"If you wish to know who we are," shouted Princeling Malodo upward toward the giant, "then you must tell us who you are."

"There is no need to raise your voice," rumbled Earklops; "for if you will use those organs you have which, I am informed, are called your ‘eyes,’ you will see what manner of thing I am; and then shall you know true fear." The face of the giant had been in his own shadow, the bright sky behind him; now he turned so that the light fell full upon his features. All the meat people—Notmarie and Dorothy and even Malodo—gave a shriek of horror. As to the whittled canary and the tin man, they were struck dumb with surprise; leaving only the brainless Scarecrow to look on with his usual bland equanimity.

Earklops, who had at first looked like a giant man in outline, was in fact a monster. His overall form seemed to be human, though at ten times man-size or twenty times Munchkin-size. But in the place of human ears he had great flapping ears like those of an elephant. Humanlike ears protruded from the front of his face where his eyes should have been, to frightful effect; and in place of a nose he had yet another ear set in the middle of his face, resembling the ear of a cat. His mouth appeared normal, although full of sharp teeth, but instead of eight fingers and two thumbs, long donkey-like ears spread out from his palms and made a bizarre sort of hand. It may seem that what I have described is more to be laughed at than feared, but try to imagine a face with ears in the place of eyes, and you may understand.

"I know you are gazing upon me, little ones," he said in his giant’s voice, "for I can hear your hearts pounding and the blood racing in your veins with terror. And you are right to be afraid of Earklops."

"Why must we be afraid of you?" challenged Mandi. "We mean you no harm, and have done you no ill."

"That may all be so," Earklops responded, "but it really has no bearing on the situation. You see, I am a prisoner here in this valley of mine, which is hemmed-in on all sides by steep mountains."

"Aren’t you big enough to climb out?" asked the Scarecrow.

"No, for my weight is in proportion to my size. When I start to climb, the mountainside crumbles beneath me, and I slide back to the floor of the valley."

"How unfortunate," observed Nick Chopper; "especially if you are unhappy there."

"Oh, I am unhappy," Earklops confirmed. "I do not require food or drink, being a magical creation of the witch Hagnag; nor do I sleep. All I can do to pass the time is play games with boulders, rolling or tossing them about. And now we come to the point; for you see, my favorite game of all is to drop boulders upon those who come to remind me of the world outside." With that he leaned over out of view; and when he rose back into sight a moment later, the party could see that his hands were filled with boulders of all sizes.

"Run, Notmarie!" cried Mandi. "Follow her, everyone—close behind!" The wooden bird was barely able to get the words from his beak when the looming giant released several big boulders upon them. The six travellers began to run as fast as possible—or at least as fast as little Notmarie; and as they ran they could hear the boulders clattering against the earthen sides of the well that the Trailblazing Twig had created for them. The first several of the boulders must have gotten more than halfway to the bottom when the ground closed in around them and held them fast: for Notmarie’s forward motion had opened up a new pathway and closed-off the old one behind them. But they could not pause for even a moment, for they were still in a sort of short hallway open to the sky, and in a moment the giant’s face appeared again, along with a huge cupped hand carrying boulders as if they were marbles.

"Good, good!" exclaimed Earklops with a booming laugh. "Run like lightning, zig and zag—I can hear your every move, even through the ground itself, and you are giving me great sport!" Again he tossed the boulders down, and again his quarries darted into the earth to evade them. And so it went for a long time, the thunder of falling rock and giant’s laughter close at their heels, until even Miss Gale was panting from exhaustion. As for Mandi, he could not tire, but he possessed a canary’s instinct for directions; and he knew that Earklops was trying to drive them all the rest of the way through the peaks surrounding his valley, and into the open valley itself, where they could do nothing to avoid destruction.

This made him think (for he could think and fly at the same time, you know). He alone had little to fear when they emerged into the open, for he could easily fly away into the sky. But Notmarie, Dorothy Gale, and the Princeling Malodo would be crushed, and the Tin Woodman would be crunched; and as for the Scarecrow, he would be as good as destroyed, flattened beneath a boulder for all time. "If that happens, the thing he needed most would never have been used at all," Mandi thought, remembering the gifts of the Well Whatever; "and that surely can not be." So he ducked down to the painted ear of the Scarecrow and chirped, "Now! Now is the time!"

It was indeed the time, as much "the time" as it ever could be, for at that very moment the front of the little moving hallway created by the magic twig fell away into sunlight, and Notmarie emerged onto the flat open floor of the giant’s valley. Everyone followed her out—there really was nothing else to do—and as they stood there blinking and uncertain, they could not help but pause and look behind them. Earklops stood upon the lower slope of one of the mountains encircling the valley, which was like a round crater. Although his feet had sunk some little ways into the fragile crust of earth, he was able to move well enough, and he was coming at them rapidly, whooping like a child at play in the mud, every ear on his face red as a beet.

Now Mandi had been rather distracted of late, and had not been a very good Knower of What Is To Be; but just then one of his glimpses came to him, and in as big a voice as his little body could muster he ordered everyone to throw themselves face-down upon the ground—except the Scarecrow. "Go ahead, Scarecrow—use the gift of the Well!" commanded the whittled canary, who then went to ground himself.

The Scarecrow reached into his pocket for the little porcelaine bell. But the pocket was empty, for it had a rip on the inside of it and the bell had worked its way through. The Scarecrow patted his other pockets, thinking he had stupidly misremembered which pocket it was in; but it was nowhere to be found. "Oh dear," said the Scarecrow to the others. "You may be suffering the indignity of dirt and dust for nothing. The bell seems to be missing."

"What bell?" demanded Earklops, who was now standing at the foot of the slope, ready to hurl his boulders but curious nevertheless. "Have you misplaced something, you who rustle like hay?"

"Just one moment, sir; if you please," the Scarecrow replied, still searching himself. And then he said, "Ah!"—for he had discovered the bell deep in his straw, and was fumbling to withdraw it.

"What do you have?" asked the giant. "You must tell me, you know; for it makes no sound, and I lack the power of sight."

The Scarecrow held the bell up by its polished wood handle. "I apologize," said he in a jolly tone of voice. "Here is what it sounds like." And he rang the little porcelaine bell.

—which produced, after all that, just a little porcelaine tinkle.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Fifteen

In The Castle of Hagnag

 

 

EARKLOPS the giant chuckled, and his chuckle became a giggle, and his giggle grew into a great fit of loud laughter that echoed off the mountains all around.

"Is that your weapon against me, little ones?" he chortled. "Hah, you give me endless amusement, you intruders!"

"Perhaps I’m doing it improperly," conceded the Scarecrow, the sack-cloth of his brow creased in puzzlement. "But still," he added, "I have made you happy for the moment; and that is worth something."

"Yes you have," Earklops agreed, wiping his ears, which were wet with merriment, "but that will not dissuade me from my game of destroying you. By the way, you may stop ringing your little bell now; I have heard enough."

This last was a puzzling remark, for the Scarecrow had given up ringing the bell several moments ago.

"Do not get up," Mandi warned the others.

There now was heard a very slight sound, which seemed to come from all directions. It was the same tinkling sound they had all heard a moment before, echoing back to them. But contrary to the habit of echoes, which fall off and become mute after a short time, this echo grew louder and louder, and louder still. Earklops lost his grin and seemed rooted in place, unsure of what to do; and as the tinkle rose to a clanging roar, his face furrowed with pain like a plowed field and he tried to cover his ears. But the giant had a great many ears to cover, and only two hands. We may suppose that Earklops himself was roaring—the travellers could not hear it—and then as the sound went higher still and the earth below trembled, the giant suddenly reared back and fell upon the ground, which raised a cloud of dust. And then all was silent.

"My!" said the Scarecrow, looking at the little porcelaine bell in his hand. "Didn’t you come in handy!"

"Have we killed him?" asked the Tin Woodman; and there was genuine concern in his voice.

"No," responded Mandi. "We have only momentarily stunned and deafened him, for I foresee him getting to his feet and shaking his fists at us—if one should call them that, as they are mostly ear. But by then we shall be long gone, further into the mountains than he can follow."

"Let us make haste, then," urged the Princeling of Guyle; and this seemed wise advice to everyone.

The party rose and, having dusted themselves off, set out across the valley of Earklops as fast as they could walk, following Mandi. Soon they had left Earklops far behind, and were again making their way through the Spiny Mountains of the Country of the Winkies. By a bit of experimentation Notmarie learned how to adjust the way the Trailblazing Twig worked its magic. It no longer put them at the bottom of a moving well, but provided instead a smooth trail more or less upon the surface of the mountains, ducking into the earth only when the mountainside was too steep to be managed. In this way the travellers made good time; and just as the orange-yellow sun was touching the western horizon, they came out upon a high open ledge and caught their first sight of the castle of Hagnag, Wicked Witch of the West.

The castle was still some miles away, squatting like a vulture upon a desolate peak separate from the one upon which they stood. Between the two peaks, and curving around the further mountain on both sides, was a sort of deep valley or crack in the ground—so deep that its bottom, if it had one, was lost in shadow. Hundreds of waterfalls issued from the sides of the chasm, which were jagged and rocky and almost as up-and-down as the wall of a room. But the waterfalls did not seem to be of ordinary water, but something thick and oozey, tinged with shades of yellow and wreathed in amber steam. Both mountain and valley lay beneath a smoky haze, which the three who breathed found pungent and unpleasant.

"Rotten eggs and patent medicine!" snorted Miss Gale, flapping at the wisps of haze with her parasol; which did not the slightest good.

"If it is so bad even here," said Notmarie, "I don’t see how we shall be able to stand going deeply into it."

"One gets used to it quickly," replied Malodo. "I remember."

"And I foresee it," added Mandi.

The Tin Woodman looked right and left, and craned his tin neck to look down into the valley. "I regret having to make an unkind remark about anything," he said, "including a view—for the view cannot help being what it is—but this is surely the ugliest place in all the Land of Oz."

"It is one of the highest, at any rate," Malodo commented. "If you will look past the witch’s mountain, to the north you can begin to see some traces of purple here and there. We are not far from the Gillikin Country."

"That is more than enough sightseeing," Miss Gale said sharply. "It is soon twilight, and we must get to somewhere before dark."

The Scarecrow pondered this statement; for he had lately determined to put effort into mimicking the power of thought, knowing that he might never have for himself the genuine article. "Perhaps I am wrong, but won’t we be somewhere wherever we are?"

"A fine point, my friend," said the Tin Woodman encouragingly. "You are becoming as sharp as the blade of my axe."

"There is no way to go but forward," said Mandi; and everyone knew he was speaking from knowledge. Resuming the journey, they followed the magical trail down to a lower level, where they could look straight across to the witch’s castle; and then the unrolling trail became a bridge suspended in mid-air above Bilious Gorge, which was what the deep valley was called. The bridge did not at any time span the gorge from side to side, for it only existed so many yards before and behind the Trailblazing Twig, supported by nothing at all; but as the bearer of the Twig moved forward, so did the little section of bridge.

At the very middle of the great gulf the party paused to take account of themselves and their surroundings. Looking down through the bridge-path (which was now made of solid air and transparent as glass), there was still no floor of the gorge to be seen; only darkness. But higher up, among the rocks of the walls, jets of yellowish flame burst forth now and then, adding smoke and ash to the steam of the bile-like waterfalls.

"This was once as lovely a place as any in Oz," remarked the Princeling of Guyle in a sad voice. "But the pure evil of the Wicked Witch has seeped into the ground for more than a hundred years. She herself dug and blasted out the gorge with her magical arts and her slave armies."

"But why did she do that?" asked Notmarie.

Malodo pointed ahead. "There is your answer," he said. They all knew he was referring to the castle, a plump round tower that seemed to reflect no light at all, as if it were made all of black velour. "It is covered with layer upon layer of black coal, compressed by witchery into a substance as hard as steel and as heavy as lead. Hagnag was always engaged in having new siding put on over the old; for that sort of material was supposed to be proof against the magic of her enemies. When I knew her she had long since ceased venturing out, lest the other witches find out and destroy her."

"But the other witches are dead," said the Scarecrow. "I believe I heard someone say that; perhaps it was me."

"Only Quoribble is known to be dead," Malodo retorted; "thanks be to our Miss Gale and her hurtling household. Kragmagda of the south is deposed and her powers made harmless; and Locasta, the Good Witch of the North, who is reclusive and mysterious, wrote a message upon a cloud that old Mombi would trouble the world no longer. But Hagnag still has Locasta herself to contend with."

"There is also Glinda the Sorceress, who lives in the Quadling Country," Notmarie added.

"In any event, she thinks she must be very cautious. I know her well," he explained. "She watched over me and used her magic to help whatever wickedness I came up with."

"Perhaps we’re the ones who are being foolhardy," observed Dorothy Gale. "Much as I’d like to meet this old witch, I would not care to have this elongated life of mine cut short afore I’m ready. Seems to me our coming at her this way, in plain sight, doesn’t make for much of a strategy."

"It doesn’t matter, not a bit," responded the Princeling. "However we made our approach, she would know of it, and be prepared; you may be sure of that."

"We must do our best," said Mandi from above them. "Important matters depend upon the outcome." Notmarie heard these words and knew that those around her thought they referred to Malodo and his quest to confront Hagnag with the injustices she had imposed upon him, and somehow to end her reign. But she knew the whittled canary had in mind Notmarie’s own quest to put right the history of Oz, which she had changed by altering Glinda’s magic book. The girl did not know in what way her long journey across Oz, which had now taken her to the very threshold of a powerful evil, had to do with that purpose; but she trusted Mandi.

They finished crossing Bilious Gorge, and at long last stood before the portal of the black castle of Hagnag. It was now twilight, and somewhere above the sultry haze the stars were coming out; but little of their light reached down to the estate of the wicked witch, and the party of travellers stood almost in darkness.

"She has had the door opened for us," announced Malodo, pointing. "It is the only door, too—indeed, the only opening of any kind in the walls of the tower, for there are no windows."

"We ought to go in," the Scarecrow remarked, his jolly expression now all but invisible. "It would be impolite to ignore her invitation."

"Perhaps she will be pleasant after all," said Nick Chopper the tin man. "They do say people mellow with age."

"I expect she is more along the lines of cabbage than wine," was Miss Gale’s skeptical reply. "But we’re here, so let’s go ahead."

It was Malodo, Princeling of Guyle, who now took the lead. They climbed two dozen steps of yellow-black marble and passed beneath the high arch of the doorway, which had a stone gargoyle at its peak that winked at them evilly. They found themselves in a long and narrow antechamber glowing with a strange and smudgy phosphorescence of the sort one sometimes finds in marshlands. This eerie colorless light was so faint the travellers could only see one another as dim shadows.

The party advanced a ways very cautiously, listening; but there was nothing to be heard but silence.

"This is not the proper way to greet the Prime Minister of Munchkin Land," remarked the Scarecrow, his unexpected voice making everyone give a little jump of fear.

"Never mind that," retorted Nick Chopper in low tones. "Where are we to go next?" Well might he ask, for, looking into the dimness ahead, he could see no door anywhere.

"Perhaps we ought to go back outside," Notmarie suggested. But as she and the others turned about they found to their great astonishment that the door had silently swung shut.

As they turned again to move forward, a new surprise awaited them. At the far end of the chamber a square doorway had appeared in the wall, through which streamed a weak sort of yellowish lamplight.

"Is this as you remember, Mr. Malodo?" inquired Miss Gale.

"Not at all," he replied. "Then again, it has been a hundred years or so."

"No so proud of your memory now, are you," commented Miss Gale in reply. "And how about you, bird? What do you have to tell us?"

Mandi swooped down to take a position on the shoulders of the Scarecrow, where he could get a good grip with his little wooden claws. "I must confess, my fairy power to be a Knower of What Is To Be seems much diminished since we first entered the Spiny Mountains, as if there is a fog blocking my view of things. I know only a bit here and a bit there; and as we approach the Wicked Witch of the West, it is getting worse."

"Well, fine help you two are," said Dorothy Gale, bobbing her head once in disgust. "I s’pose we’ll just have to make the best of it and go on through that door."

"I have my axe ready," the Tin Woodman said.

"I have the courage of my moral scrubbing," said Malodo, Princeling of Guyle.

"I have a sharp beak and swift wooden wings," said Mandi the whittled canary.

"I have good Kansas gumption and a parasol," said Dorothy Gale.

"I must have something," said the Scarecrow. "Dear me. Oh, I know—fresh straw, and a little bell that deafens giants—if they are named Earklops."

Only Notmarie had nothing to say. All she had was the knowledge of her mission, and that seemed to be of no benefit at all.

The six of them now walked, and rode (for Mandi was still on the Scarecrow’s shoulder), to the further end of the antechamber, where the open doorway beckoned. A long long stairway extended downward from this portal, as if deep into the ground; and far away at the bottom they could see the light of the room upon which the stairway opened. Following Miss Gale and the tin man they descended step by step, trying not to stumble and lose their various dignities. It took several minutes to reach the bottom; but finally they did, and stepped out into the light, which was not so very bright but nonetheless made them blink—those who happened to have eyelids.

What met their eyes was a peculiar sight.

They were in a big round room which was longer than it was wide, having the form of an oval. The ceiling was quite high-up where it met the walls all around; but then it dipped downward and, toward the center of the room, was so near the floor a person would scarcely be able to stand upright. The walls and ceiling and floor were of some rough gray stone and bare of decoration, except for the part in front of the door by which they had entered: here there began a thick carpet, black as ink, which led to the center of the floor. It stopped before something that looked like a huge black toadstool, which, along with another toadstool rising behind and twisting sideways, formed the seat and the back of a sort of chair. The chair was in fact a throne; and upon this throne sat the form of a beautiful woman, her hands folded neatly in her lap.

"Who is that?" asked the Scarecrow.

"I don’t know," replied Malodo. "She is strange to me."

"It can’t be the Wicked Witch," declared the Tin Woodman. "Witches are old and ugly."

"Only wicked witches are old and ugly," corrected Notmarie.

"Then if she happens to be a witch at all, I expect she’s a good one," Miss Gale said, adding, "and so we have nothing to fear from her." And with that she led the group up the black carpet to the throne, where they all stood side by side at a respectful distance—surprised and unnerved that the woman did not speak, nor even move a muscle.

From that position they could examine her more closely, and what they saw was less pleasing to the eye than had first appeared. Her skin was smooth as margarine, yet it was tinged with the color of old newspapers or antique ivory: things very old and decaying with time. Her hair was jet black, and fell in soft waves about her shoulders, but something about it struck one as wrong; Notmarie finally realized that it didn’t seem to be made up of single hairs at all, but appeared all-of-a-piece and unnatural. Her face and form were all too perfect and symmetrical, which gave them an inhuman cast. Her lips were dark, but there was not even a hint of red to them, but rather other shades, mostly brown; it was as if she had no blood inside her.

However, the thing about the lady that was most disturbing was her eyes, which loomed large beneath her thick black lashes. The white of her eyes was not really white at all, but the color of curdled cream. The dark part was flecked with amber, and in her left eye it seemed to smolder with an inner light, like a coal. All the travellers could not help finding their gaze drawn to those eyes, which stared without once blinking.

"She is looking at me!" whispered Notmarie.

"No, at me, to be sure!" responded Dorothy Gale.

"It is into my tin eyes that she looks," declared the Tin Woodman. And so the party came to realize that the woman’s eyes seemed by some enchantment to be looking straight into the face of each one of them, although they stood apart from one another.

This is how matters stood for some good length of time, with our travellers unable to turn away or move from the spot. And then at last the woman spoke. "You have come back to me," she said in a soft and gentle voice that barely parted her lips.

Malodo knew somehow that it was to him that she addressed these words; and he knew then who she was. "Yes, Mother," he said. "I have come back."

There was a long pause, and then Hagnag—for that is who it was after all—spoke again. "But you have come back changed, my Malodo. You are not as you were." Her voice remained calm and placid; nor did her visage betray the slightest emotion, or her eyes move one way or another. "I fear these companions of yours have undone you."

"No," replied Malodo, "they have put me right."

The Wicked Witch seemed to ignore this comment. She now addressed the party in general. "Why have you come to me?" she asked softly.

The Scarecrow took a step toward her. "As Prime Minister to His Majesty Ojo the Fourth, King of the Munchkins, I come before you to counsel and advise you, in a diplomatic sense, to mend your ways and become a better person." This was admittedly a rather long and complicated speech for the brainless Scarecrow to utter, but he had been planning it for some time and was able to get through it with little difficulty.

"That is, we urge that you consider it," the Tin Woodman hastened to add; for he had no wish to give offense to his hostess.

"I cannot become a better person," said Hagnag in response; "for I am not a person at all to begin with."

"Oh?" said the Scarecrow. "Perhaps I was misinformed."

"Perhaps you were," observed the Wicked Witch. "But it is an understandable error. I was once a person; I was even a little girl—once. Now, and for many years since, I am only a glob of wickedness that thinks and speaks."

There was some silence after this announcement. Then Miss Gale stepped forward, brandishing her folded parasol like a sword. "Person or not," said she in a loud voice, "your behavior has been very bad and quite tiresome for everyone concerned. I must insist that you either reform yourself or step down."

"You have no power here, Dorothy Gale," replied Hagnag calmly. "You have no house to drop on my head, as you did to old Quoribble, who was too brittle and feeble to know what was happening. Why then should I bother trying to change myself?"

"Don’t know," Dorothy admitted. "You have a point, I s’pose."

The Tin Woodman stepped forward and raised his axe. "Though we lack a house to inflict upon you, madam, it is a kindness to call to your attention this axe of mine."

"You do not have the stomach to do me any harm, Nick Chopper," she said languidly; "even if such a thing as a mere axe could hurt me, which it can not. Witchcraft has come a long ways since the time of Quoribble, and I can easily protect myself against chopping or flattening. And you, my distinguished bird of pineaway wood, what have you to say?"

"I come to bargain with you," said Mandi.

"What do you possess that I might wish to have?"

"A wonderful lotion which will confer upon you immunity to the spells of your enemies." All the travellers secretly thrilled to this little speech, for they knew he was trying to get Hagnag to touch the scouring fluid that had reformed Malodo so completely, which they still carried with them.

"No thank you," she replied. "I do not care to be tricked. On the wall of my bedroom hangs a magic picture. At a word from me, the repulsively peaceful scene upon it is replaced by a view of whatever I wish to see, wherever in the world it is. I have used it to inform me of anything that might serve to do me ill; and in this way I saw the conversion of Malodo. Yes, I have watched you ever since, hour by hour. Search yourselves now if you wish—you will not find the metal jar, nor the porcelaine bell, for I have spirited them away and put them in my collection of useless objects. And now you, little Quadling girl. Do you come to threaten or cajole?"

Notmarie gulped and her knees shook; unable to speak, she could only shake her head.

"Neither one, then? I see. Then tell me why you have come to me with these others. And do not think to lie to me; for I can read a lie in the face of others, and I do not like it."

The girl found her voice and said simply, "I don’t know why I came here." This was the exact truth, for Notmarie only followed the whittled canary and knew not the ultimate reason for their journeying.

There was another pause, as if Hagnag were considering this answer. Then the witch said, "Ah well, it is not as if a little girl such as you could do harm to my wickedness. And so only one is left to say what is to be said."

Malodo, Princeling of Guyle, now stepped forward, his upper half muscular and menacing, however foolish it looked joined to his underdone lower half. "You must account for the evil you have done me, old woman. It was you who made me see the world as if through magic colored spectacles locked around my head. You must make such amends as you can; and the first thing you must do is to restore to the throne the Rightful Ruler of Oz, whether it is still Pastoria or some descendant of his."

"I fear old Oz Pastoria is long gone," the Wicked Witch replied. "But because I adopted and raised you, my Malodo, and taught you the ways of the world, I will allow myself to be moved by the ties of affection; and so I shall do just what you ask of me. Know, then, that when Pastoria assumed his throne in the middle country, he took himself a wife. This he did in secret, to protect her from wicked ones such as myself. When he was stolen in the forest and brought to Mombi, the witch of the north, her magic made him reveal all his secrets; and it was no difficult matter to steal his hidden queen as well, and cause her to join him in captivity. And finally Mombi stole their child, a daughter whom they had named Tippetaria, which means in fairy language ‘beautiful of face and fortune.’ With Mombi defeated in the Gillikin land I took that child and placed an enchantment upon her. But be assurred, her youth has been preserved like gooseberries in a canning-jar, and she lives yet. As Princess Ozma Tippetaria, it is she who is the Rightful Ruler of the Land of Oz."

"You wicked creature!" exclaimed Miss Gale. "You must release this ‘Ozma’ at once!"

Hagnag paid this outburst no attention, but continued to speak to Malodo. "What is your wish, Malodo? Shall I release Ozma Tippetaria?"

"Yes," he replied.

"Then look behind you." All the party turned about with a start, and found that a full-length mirror, upon a stand, had silently appeared behind them.

"Approach the mirror, Malodo," directed the Wicked Witch, and as he did so, he saw within the depths of the mirror an image that was not his own, but the form of a beautiful young girl in a silver-white gown, with chrysanthemums in her long black hair. "It is she," said Hagnag. "It is Ozma."

"What must I do to free her?" Malodo asked.

"Stretch out your hand to hers," she replied; "and draw her forth from the mirror."

The Princeling of Guyle reached out his hand, and the figure in the mirror reached out her own. It seemed that their fingertips would meet. But instead, Malodo’s fingers only rapped against the hard, cold glass of the mirror. "What is this?" he cried aloud; for instead of grasping the hand of the Princess Ozma, his own hand had changed. It was no longer the big, rough hand of a man.

Malodo turned to face the throne and his companions, and Hagnag said:

"Behold! Princess Ozma of Oz!"

 

 

 

 

Chapter Sixteen

Woc Ardyl’s Foolish Servants

 

 

"OH MY gracious sakes!" said Dorothy Gale.

"What’s happened to me?" cried the sweet voice of a young girl—the voice of the long-lost Princess Ozma.

"To judge by appearances, you have turned into a girl," said the Scarecrow. "Of course, it is considered unwise to judge by appearances."

"A very pretty girl," added Nick Chopper reassurringly. "The change suits you well, I would say."

The former Princeling Malodo, who was now Ozma of Oz herself, took a long look at her reflection in the mirror. Then she turned and approached the toadstool throne. "Is this the truth or a trick? Was my father Oz Pastoria, and my mother his queen?"

"Indeed so," Hagnag confirmed.

"And I have been under a transformation all my life?"

"You have," she replied.

"What was your purpose?"

"Wickedness requires no definite purpose, as it is its own reward," responded the Wicked Witch, her hands still neatly folded, just as when the party had first entered her presence. "But I gather you do not understand about wickedness. True wickedness is not easily attained. One must try very hard for a very long time, and practice diligently; it is like learning to play the trumpet. There are two great difficulties along the way. First is human laziness. One is always tempted to stop and have fun, or enjoy oneself, or just set it aside for an hour. But it won’t do—you must discipline yourself, until all such mortal frailty is extinguished. And then you face the second and greater difficulty, which is your own conscience. It took me a good many years to cast out my conscience. I recall that it was a painful struggle, and the final effort was like pulling a bad tooth. However, at length I succeeded in the extraction."

"You have no conscience left at all?" inquired Miss Gale.

"None," said Hagnag. "And that is a very freeing thing, for without a conscience one can feel neither pleasure nor the desire for it, and so your time is fully your own from then on. I wished only to continue endlessly—for no special reason—and thus did what I could to prevent my being destroyed. When I became the captor of Pastoria and his queen and newborn child, after Mombi was defeated by Locasta, I didn’t dare try to destroy them, but I exchanged their old memories for new ones, so that escaping me, as Pastoria had once escaped from Mombi, would not even occur to them. At the same time I stole Tippetaria away and put another babe in her place; and then I changed her into a boy baby, whom I named Malodo. It was my whim to send the Rightful Ruler back to the middle country in disguise, there to practice wickedness on my behalf. If you don’t know your dictionary, that is called irony. And now my dear boy has come back to me."

"But I am no longer a boy," said Ozma.

"No," said the witch. "It is no longer necessary. Your coming here gave me a new purpose, my first new idea in ages and ages."

"Not a very wicked idea, I beg you!" pled the kindly tin man.

"It is surely the wickedest ever seen in this Land of Oz," Hagnag observed, without the least trace of pride. "It seems to me that with Ozma, the Rightful Ruler, restored to herself and in my power, I ought to be able to accomplish what no one has ever dared attempt—to unravel backwards the grand spell of Queen Lurline and make Oz as other countries, as if it had never been otherwise. You will agree, I trust, that this is not only exceedingly wicked, but entirely novel."

This announcement, so calmly delivered, was a staggering one. In fact, the Scarecrow lost what little balance he possessed and fell upon the floor.

"But you can’t do such a terrible thing!" cried Ozma.

"No," agreed the witch, "not just now. For I have a great deal of study to do first, to make absolutely sure that I myself will escape harm when the spell is dissipated; and I must stir potions and mutter incantations and summon demonic spirits—the sort of thing witches do. And the hour is late and past my bedtime." The travellers now saw an eerie and remarkable thing. Hagnag had been seated all along upon her black toadstool throne, poised like a perfect statue and moving only her lips—and those very slightly. Now in the blink of an eye she was no longer seated, but standing before the throne; she seemed not to have moved from one place to another but was simply there. The throne itself withered and shriveled before their eyes, until nothing was left to see but a rotted black clump on the floor.

"What do you intend to do with my companions, and with me?" demanded Ozma.

"Not a thing at the moment," Hagnag replied. "It will keep until tomorrow or the next day. I must consider the matter with care. Until then I shall keep you alive and unbothered, as I don’t care to be bothered to bother you. You will be fed and given places to sleep. But it is impossible for you to escape my tower. And now, I bid you good evening." With that the Wicked Witch of the West was suddenly facing away from them, not having moved a muscle; and then she walked across the great chamber—though it seemed she almost floated, for her feet were covered by her witchly robes, which trailed upon the floor. As she reached the further wall an archway opened up for her, to disappear again after she had passed through.

Now they were alone: Notmarie, Dorothy Gale, the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, Princess Ozma, and Mandi the whittled canary. They all exchanged glances (or perhaps it was just one glance that they all passed around between them) but were quite silent until Miss Gale spoke up. "Let me see," she said, "let me see. Miss Ozma, you are a half-fairy, I do b’lieve."

"Yes, that’s so," said Ozma.

"Then why don’t you use your half-fairy magic to get us out of here? Even half-way out would be a help, you know."

"I would if I knew how," answered the girl earnestly. "But I have never been educated in it. I don’t know what to do, or how to begin."

"Oh, ’course not," Miss Gale said. "So what have we got? One untrained fairy princess, one little Quadling girl, tin brains, wood brains, and—" She pointed at the Scarecrow with the tip of her parasol. "—no brains. A nice convention of useless sorts, I must say."

"Then perhaps you ought to take charge, Miss Gale," said Notmarie, a bit huffily.

"Already planned to," the old woman responded. "Now then. I am open to ideas. How shall we escape this tower?"

"Mightn’t we open the front door?" suggested the Scarecrow.

"It is locked," said Mandi. "I am able to sense it."

"Ah, I see!" was the Scarecrow’s comment. "Then we ought to go get the key."

"No doubt we should, my stuffed comrade," responded Nick Chopper. "But we don’t know where it is, or even where to begin to look." As the Scarecrow had no comment on this, the Tin Woodman continued, "I would gladly chop away at that door with my axe day and night, until my fine blade was blunt as a bean, if it would do any good."

"It wouldn’t," Mandi said. "Your steel cannot affect its magic."

"Why, I know how we can escape the witch!" cried Notmarie suddenly. "If the Trailblazing Twig can open a path for us through rocks and mountains, it shouldn’t be so hard for it to get us through a couple of walls." But when she reached inside the little pocket in which she had been keeping the twig, wrapped in a handkerchief to keep it safe, she couldn’t find it.

"I was afraid of that," said Princess Ozma. "Hagnag was watching us for a long time in that magic picture she has, and undoubtedly saw what the twig was used for. She has locked it away in her collection."

"Then that’s that," said Dorothy. "Any more ideas? The floor is still open."

At this the Scarecrow looked downward. "Is it? Perhaps that is our route of escape."

"It’s just an expression," said the Tin Woodman, and that was the last any of them said for quite a while, until their silent despondency was suddenly interrupted by the appearance of a new door off to the side of Hagnag’s throne room. The door swung open upon them, disclosing a strange unmet inhabitant of the wicked witch’s castle.

In the doorway stood a Winkie man of middle age, very big and round and bulky, like a plump barrel with arms and legs, his thick mane of yellow hair like a tangle of yarn going every which way. He had a big dark nose, both long and broad, and beneath the nose a half-smile that was friendly in its way but perhaps a bit sad as well. He was dressed in a dark costume trimmed in yellow, with knee-breeches; it seemed to be made mostly of black corduroy, and made him look like a royal steward.

"Good evening to you, sir," said the Scarecrow politely.

"And to you all," the man replied with a little bow. "I beg to inform you that I am Woc Ardyl, chief servant to Her Nefarious Majesty Hagnag, Wicked Witch Supreme. I am to see that you are fed and slept, and to that end I have prepared a table in the next room." He gestured them into the dining hall, where they found a stone table set with five stone chairs and a stone perch, and place settings for all—though of course only half the guests had any use for them.

As the travellers were seating themselves, the Tin Woodman remarked, "For a Wicked Witch, Hagnag seems quite well-versed in the proper accomodation of guests."

"There is no reason why even the wickedest witch should be lacking in ettiquette," retorted Woc Ardyl mildly. "Witches are just people, you know, though of a peculiarly evil disposition. The idea of the witch who spends her hours ranting and raving and pushing lost children into ovens like a demented school-mistress is the stuff of old fairy tales. And a good thing, too, for I am a timid soul myself and my poor nerves could hardly have stood it for all these many years."

"Have you been with her so very long?" asked Notmarie; to which Ozma added, "Do you remember young Malodo, who was adopted and raised by the witch?"

"I remember all too little," admitted the Winkie, "for despite my robust apearance I have lived far too long, and my memories stumble over one another in my head. I was once told I have been here in this castle year after year after year since Hagnag came to power in this western land, and I recall nothing from before."

"Then she must approve of your service," remarked the Scarecrow jovially, "which is something of a compliment, I suppose."

"Oh, I’m sure she would dispense with my services readily enough, except—" His voice lowered and his eyes darted nervously toward the distant wall behind which Hagnag had her private quarters. "Except I am her last living servant, you know; and the others are not always quite dependable." Just then yet another portal, an open archway, appeared in the blank wall. "But now you shall see for yourselves, for here is the first course of your dinner."

There now entered the dining hall several of Hagnag’s peculiar servants; and most peculiar they were, for they had neither heads nor feet nor much of anything else, being no more than suits of clothes of various kinds with elegant white gloves floating at the ends of the sleeves. Some of the suits were those of men, such as a fine butler or waiter might wear. Others were garments for women or girls, appropriate to the wardrobe of a maid or serving-girl; and some of these had a little cap of lacy frills and ribbons floating above their empty blouses, as if on top of a head. But there was no head to be seen.

"Land! What are they—ghosts?" cried Miss Gale.

"It must be a spell of invisibility," observed Ozma.

"Neither one," replied Woc Ardyl. "Her Maleficence has no use for persons at all, especially since she got rid of her conscience and threw it away. These servants are just what they appear to be—animated outfits of clothing in the current style, which she has magicked-up to walk about and do her bidding. They are all right for simple tasks like cleaning and cooking and doing her laundry; but they have no brains, you know."

"Pardon me," said the Tin Woodman; "but perhaps you don’t realize that one of the persons at this very table happens to labor under that slight disability."

"Oh, I don’t mind," said the Scarecrow pleasantly. "It is how I have always been and how I shall always be—so it seems—and it can’t be helped."

Hagnag’s servants now proceded to serve the dinner, which came in several courses; but alas! Each course seemed to come with a problem all its own.

First came walnuts, in the shell, and slices of gaily colored cheeses of different kinds. Miss Gale took a nut and tried to crack it open in various polite and proper ways, as Aunt Em had taught her so long ago, finally resorting to the use of her knife; but nothing would do the trick.

"If you wish, madam, I might apply my axe," offered Nick Chopper; but Dorothy wisely declined, as it is unsafe to swing an axe in the vicinity of dinner guests.

As for the cheese, the various colors turned out to be due to mold that was growing on the slices. Not one piece could be eaten.

"Away with it," commanded Woc Ardyl to the servants, who waited respectfully at the backs of the guests—and silently, of course, for they had no heads and thus no mouths with which to speak. So they took away the nuts and cheeses.

Next came a broad-shouldered suit of clothes bearing a large silver tureen with a lid, followed by six frilly serving-girl costumes holding soup bowls in their long delicate gloves. The tureen was set down in the middle of the table and the lid whisked off, and a reassuring puff of steam wafted up into the air.

"This is more like it," Miss Gale remarked. "My Aunt Em said that there wasn’t very much that could go wrong with soup."

"I’m not sure," said Notmarie, for she had noticed that steam was rising only from the soup on the right side of the tureen, and none from the soup on the left, though of course it was all the same soup. The servants ladelled out the soup into the bowls, and as it happened Notmarie’s suspicions were well justified, for the soup in the right side of each bowl was scalding hot, while the soup in the left side was freezing cold.

"There must be a way to mix it together," said Princess Ozma; but then she glanced up at Mandi, who sat upon his perch, and the whittled canary shook his head. "No," said he, "it is magical wickedness that has got into everything, and I don’t see us making any advances against it."

"Intolerable!" exclaimed their host, and in a moment the soup and bowls had been removed to make way for the next course, which was a green salad. It appeared rather appetizing, and Woc Ardyl declared, "Oil and vinegar dressing."

"Hmm," said Miss Gale. She touched the tip of her finger to a bit of the dressing and held it under her nose. "Smells funny."

"I recognize the smell," said Nick Chopper, "for old Ku-Klip the tinsmith gave me a very sharp tin nose, as you can see. The oil is machine oil. You meat people ought not eat it; but I might use a touch of it to lubricate my joints."

"At least it’s not a complete waste, then," observed the Scarecrow.

"But it is not what was wanted," said Woc Ardyl, who seemed to take seriously the responsibilities of his position. "It was intended to be eaten."

"Nevertheless, it goes well with the dinner so far, I should say," remarked Miss Gale sarcastically.

"I can hardly wait to see what comes next!" the Scarecrow said, as all eyes turned toward the kitchen. Out came two fancy long-tailed jackets bearing between them a broad oval platter. As the platter was lowered, the diners could see the brown of good meat, the yellow of yams, and the green of fresh peas; and they could see six cobs of corn wrapped in an elegant waxen paper.

"Looks proper," commented Dorothy Gale with suspicion showing on her face.

The Tin Woodman pointed his long pointy nose in the direction of the platter. "The aroma is delicate. On occasions of this sort, I wish I could eat."

"Ah, friend Nick, remember that at least you have a brain to wish with," remonstrated the Scarecrow. "Tin can be shaped and welded and made into something, but straw, however fresh, cannot be organized."

"That is so," said the tin man, ashamed lest he had carelessly offended his friend.

The main course was served all around the table, along with water from a crystal pitcher and red wine from six bottles, each freshly uncorked.

"You will like this dish," insisted Woc Ardyl with perhaps a hint of anxiety in his voice. "It is a Winkie specialty, and well regarded across all the Land of Oz."

"I’m sure it will be delicious," said Ozma soothingly. She touched her knife and fork to the meat on her plate—that is, she attempted to; but the utensils seemed to pass right through the meat without finding any resistance, and clanked against the plate itself. Ozma blinked her eyes and shook her head, not quite sure of what she had seen, and even as she did so she heard a similar clank from the plate of Notmarie, who was sitting next to her. Notmarie had begun with the yams, which were steaming merrily and smelled delicious, but her fork set them swirling like little puffs of smoke before it too struck the plate. As for Dorothy, she had tried to scoop a mound of peas into her spoon, and it seemed for one moment that she had succeeded. Yet when she raised the spoon away from the plate, the peas remained behind and the spoon was empty.

Dorothy clacked down her spoon and glared at Woc Ardyl silently. Flushed with embarassment, the big round Winkie bent close and examined the food; and then he sighed. "Oh dear, oh dear," said he. "These foolish servants have prepared for you the sights and smells of a wonderful meal, but forgot to prepare the meal itself."

"Is this sort of problem common in Kansas, Miss Gale?" asked the Scarecrow.

"Not in the finer sort of restaurants, I’m quite sure," she sniffed.

"There is still the corn," said Notmarie with wan hopefulness. She picked up the wrapped cob that had been placed neatly upon her plate. "It feels solid inside."

"A good sign," observed the Tin Woodman. Everyone watched Notmarie in great suspense and anticipation as she unwraped the paper that had been folded around the corn cob in a very pretty and elaborate manner. Finally the paper fell away, and Notmarie’s face fell. "Never mind. It’s just a raggedy bare cob, with no corn on it."

The Scarecrow held out his hand. "May I? I am something of an expert on corn in all its forms and fancies, having stood in a farmer’s cornfield for all those years." He examined the barren cob from every angle, and then handed it back to Notmarie. "You’re right—bereft of even a single golden kernel, which is a tragedy; for there is nothing finer than corn. Unless it is sweet, fresh straw, of course," he added.

The table was cleared of the plates and the platter, leaving behind the goblets of water and wine. The water turned out to be vinegar—Ozma touched it with the tip of her tongue and her face told the story—and the red wine turned out to be concentrated beet juice. So they had nothing to drink.

The dessert course was Woc Ardyl’s last chance to redeem himself, but he failed miserably. There was a big three-layer cake frosted all over in bright yellow. But when Woc Ardyl himself made to cut it, the whole thing collapsed to rubble, for the dessert chef had neglected to put a cake beneath the frosting. (And the frosting, by the way, was yellow mustard.) There remained only ice cream to be served.

"We have two flavors to choose from," said Woc Ardyl, "and you may have your choice, or both together if you wish."

"What are the two flavors?" inquired the Scarecrow. "I cannot taste them, of course, but having no brain I try to discover as many facts as possible about this wonderful world we inhabit."

"There is brocolli-flavored ice cream," the Winkie answered, "which I myself prefer; and the other is pork with just a hint of gardenia."

After a pause all around, as stony as the table, Miss Gale said sourly: "I do b’lieve dinner is over."

"It’s too bad, too bad," remarked the Tin Woodman as he rose from his chair. "I recall that pork ice cream was my favorite."

 

 

 

 

Chapter Seventeen

The Fall of the Wicked Witch

 

WOC ARDYL, much abashed, led Hagnag’s unwilling guests into another chamber, where there were sofas and chairs, all richly upholstered though perhaps a bit shabby and worn in spots (as Miss Gale pointed out). As they sat down, he said, "I fear your dinner was not the success I had hoped, but I will bring each of you a snack before you retire."

"No ice cream for me, if you please," responded Miss Gale in her sternest tone.

"As you like," said the Winkie. "Oh, I do hope no one is angry with me—I have a very mild nature, and am easily upset."

Ozma touched him upon the hand, which seemed to calm him. "We’re not angry," said the princess. "In fact, we’re very grateful for the information you are about to give us."

"What information is that, Miss?" asked Woc Ardyl.

"First of all," she replied, "I should like to know how it comes to be that the Wicked Witch has so altered her appearance. She is much changed from when I lived here as a boy."

Woc Ardyl raised his eyebrows ever so slightly. "Oh, were you a boy?"

"Yes," said Ozma. "I was a boy, and later a man, for almost all my life; but I was born a girl. Hagnag transformed me, and it seems she has transformed herself as well."

"No; for though she has changed her appearance, it has not been through transformation," explained the Winkie, taking a seat to face them all. "I am told she was once very ugly, and wrinkled as an old dishrag. She had one blind eye and one good eye, and she was so afraid some enemy might creep up on her bad side that she made a practice of switching the eyes back and forth, so you never knew which was the good one and which was the bad."

"It is no wonder she developed wrinkles, having such a hard life," commented the Tin Woodman sympathetically.

"After she discarded her conscience, she no longer felt any particular attachment to her old appearance," Woc Ardyl continued, "and so she enchanted a flock of spiders and compelled them to weave for her a special garment, which she puts on every morning and takes off every night at bedtime, laying it neatly across the back of a chair so as not to wrinkle it. The garment consists of the face and form of a beautiful young maiden—even the hair, lips, and teeth; and for convenience it comes with a long gown already stitched on to it. There is an opening in the mouth through which she speaks, and holes for her own eyes to look through, but almost everything you see when you meet her is artifice."

"I saw, in my way, that such a thing was true when we first entered the throne room," said Mandi the whittled canary. "But the general wickedness has so filled the air in this place that my fairy arts are weakened and unreliable."

"It’s terrible, isn’t it?" agreed their host readily. "The wickedness of Hagnag is everywhere. It settles upon the furniture and the carpet, you know, and no amount of dusting seems to make a difference."

"Then surely you feel no loyalty to your mistress," urged Princess Ozma with great feeling. "She is an evil creature who must be prevented from doing a terrible evil to the whole Land of Oz, even if it means destroying her."

Everyone leaned forward, awaiting Woc Ardyl’s reply. He glanced about nervously before finally speaking in low tones. "Oh, I know very well the truth of what you say," he admitted. "And there were times, in the old days, when I was close enough to her to strike her. But to do such a thing requires a degree of bravery that I do not possess—for I possess no degree of bravery at all. I do not wish to meet the fate of all the other living people who have served her."

"What fate might that be?" inquired the Scarecrow.

"Why, they are tossed!" Woc Ardyl exclaimed (though very quietly). "They are tossed into the great gulf of Bilious Gorge, and none has ever been seen again."

"’Course they haven’t been seen again!" snorted Dorothy Gale. "A fall like that would be the death of anyone."

"If anyone has ever died from a fall, I have never heard of it," the Scarecrow remarked. "It is hitting the ground that does the trick."

"Nevertheless, they do not return," said the big Winkie, "and I have no wish to share their fate."

Mandi now chirped-up from his perch, a former lampstand. "You will share with the rest of us a terrible fate anyway, whether you want to or not, for the Wicked Witch means to dissolve the great spell of Lurline that has kept Oz a fairyland for many centuries."

"I know nothing about that," said Woc Ardyl. "Is it something to be afraid of?"

At this the Scarecrow calmly interjected, "You needn’t trouble yourself. Miss Gale has promised to tell us when to be afraid." But Mandi ignored this and said to Woc Ardyl, "You may be afraid or you may not, as you please, but it is only the remnant of that spell—the faint shadow of its magic that is still active while there is no Rightful Ruler upon the throne—that preserves the lives of all the ordinary Ozites. Without its protection, this land will become at once what it would have been if Queen Lurline had never noticed it in the first place."

Ozma asked, "Do you mean to say even my half-fairy magic will be made useless?"

"It is much worse than that, I’m afraid," the wooden bird made answer. "Hagnag means for Oz to become from the beginning what it always would have been, and all who live now—except only Hagnag, perhaps—will no longer exist, having been replaced by their descendants many generations removed; for that is how things would be today if the grand spell hadn’t freed everyone from age, sickness, and death for centuries at a time."

"And how do you know so much about it?" demanded Miss Gale.

"I know because I know," Mandi retorted, "because—but I think it is time to reveal myself." And so the whittled canary briefly told his story, from his days with the fairy band of Queen Lurline to his transformation, and, finally, his being led by intuition to Notmarie. He ended his tale by saying, "Now I understand why my instincts led me as they have, for the destiny of Oz itself has been at stake all along."

His listeners were astonished at all this, and Ozma cried, "Do you mean to tell me you are my ancestor?"

"I mean to tell you now," replied Mandi. "Before now, I meant not to tell you."

"Well," said Miss Gale, "it just goes to show. A lot of good it does to have a famous ancestor when it’s the present that makes the jelly!" This Kansas aphorism left the Scarecrow puzzled, but he wisely refrained from asking for an explanation; which may show that he was growing a brain after all.

They all talked some more, for about an hour, reaching no conclusion; and in the meantime Woc Ardyl brought them some real food from the kitchen—odds and ends, to be sure, but at least eatable and drinkable. Finally he showed each of the six travellers to their appointed chambers. Predictably, each room came equipped with unexplained cool draughts, though there were neither windows nor vents by which they could enter, and each mattress came equipped with lumps, and the sheets were too short and became shorter still as one pulled upon them. Still and all, Notmarie and Ozma and Dorothy Gale found themselves the weariest of meat-people, and fell fast asleep; while in their own rooms the Scarecrow, the tin man, and the whittled canary all waited patiently for morning.

Morning came, and with it a good breakfast served—at Miss Gale’s insistence—by Woc Ardyl himself. Notmarie sat in silence as the others talked, for she had awakened early and spent her time recalling what she knew of Oz history, and in particular the history off the Wicked Witch of the West. "I mustn’t say a word," she thought to herself, "lest Hagnag hear it; and I must be careful what I do, lest she see it in her magic picture and prepare herself." She had evolved a plan, you see.

At the end of breakfast, while Ozma and Miss Gale sipped tea, Notmarie asked Woc Ardyl for a glass of water. She put the glass to her lips but drank nothing, for she intended to take the full glass with her to her chamber.

Just then there came a ringing sound echoing through the air. "My mistress wishes to see you now," announced Woc Ardyl, gesturing toward the archway that had appeared in the wall. They all rose in fearful anticipation (except the Scarecrow, who had never been afraid and wasn’t quite sure what it was); and in a moment they stood once again before Hagnag, seated as before upon her black toadstool throne, which had grown back again.

"Have you come up with a way to destroy me?" she asked, her eyes—or rather, her eye—seeming to burn into each one of them. "No, I thought not. Well, you will have no more chances. I got up early—which has put me into something of a foul mood—and have already made my preparations. From here on I have no need of anyone but our sweet Princess Ozma Tippetaria. The rest of you are dispensible and thus disposable; it is only a question of detail." The witch blinked her eyes three times, which set off the servant bell, and in a moment Woc Aryl came scurrying into the throne room. "How may I serve you, Mistress Hagnag?" he asked breathlessly.

"I wish you to advise me," said she. "Here you see my six captives. Ozma I must keep, but the others are just taking up space. What would you have me do with them?"

"Ah me! You’re asking my advice?" Woc Ardyl wrinkled his brow. Then he said, "I advise you to let them all go." He made this bold statement in a manner less than bold, and full of apology; and he added, "And if I may say, Mistress, it would be best if you quit your job as witch right away and began to enjoy your retirement." He had been searching his soul all night, and had discovered that if he had not even a touch of real bravery, he nevertheless could play-act that he did.

The Scarecrow applauded, though his soft padded hands made not much of a sound. "Bravo!" he said. And to this he added: "I believe that means ‘oh, how brave!’."

"I see," said Hagnag, addressing Woc Ardyl. "But I choose not to follow your advice, as it comes from a weakness called sympathy, and I do not trade in weaknesses. No, here is what I think we shall do. Woc Ardyl, take the old woman and the little girl to the edge of the gorge and toss them forthwith."

"I wonder," responded the Winkie with a quaver, "if you would mind very much if I asked one of the salad-makers to toss them?—for I think it might disquiet me a bit."

"No, you must do it yourself," declared the witch. "It will build character. Now then, as to the man of tin, I think I will melt you down and use you to tin-plate some of my flatware. And you, wooden bird—I believe I shall lock you in a birdcage with my hundred magic woodpeckers, and then use what is left of you to filter my morning coffee. Mmm, have I overlooked anyone?"

The Scarecrow raised his hand.

"Oh yes. Man of straw, I will burn your clothes to ash, and then weave your insides together to make a mat to place on the floor next to my bed."

"Will it say ‘welcome’?" asked the Scarecrow.

"No," replied Hagnag, "I think it will say ‘rise and shine’."

It was at this very moment that little Notmarie chose to act. Though all a-tremble with fear, she had managed to carry her glass of water with her into the throne room without spilling a drop, which was something she had learnt while in service to Glinda the Good. She had kept the glass out of sight in the folds of her Quadling skirt; but now she drew it forth and dashed its contents full-on at the Wicked Witch of the West!

The water hit Hagnag full upon her chin, and she shrieked, extending her arms for a moment as if in great alarm. The witch trembled, and Notmarie watched expectantly, recalling how a bucket of water had once reduced the very same witch to ruin. Hagnag shrieked again—but it was not a shiek of fear, but of wicked laughter. The water did not penetrate, or even wet, Hagnag’s woven shell; it just beaded-up and rolled down to the floor.

"How wise I was," said Hagnag, "to have insisted that my covering be waterproofed!"

Notmarie was crestfallen and in despair, but Ozma said comfortingly, "It was a brave attempt, nevertheless."

"Wouldn’t have guessed it m’self," added Dorothy Gale. "A waterproof witch! My, my! What ever will they think of next?" Miss Gale now reached down deep into the insides of her folded parasol, which was hanging from her arm as usual. When her hand reappeared it held in its grasp a pretty crystalline bottle with a silver stopper in the top.

"What is it?" demanded the Wicked Witch, one eye flashing. To this demand Dorothy replied only, "Why, I don’t honestly know—but a little bird tells me it’s time to find out." And with that she pulled out the silver stopper, which came out with a pop like a cork. Instantly there rushed from the neck of the bottle something thick and white, like milk, but all aglow with an inner fire. The strange fluid swirled around and around in the air, faster and faster, until suddenly all the swirls and parts seemed to knit themselves together into a white silhouette, like a glowing shadow hanging in space. Though no detail could be seen within the shadow, its general form was that of a woman.

"Hello!" said the Scarecrow to the silhouette. But the shadow-form paid no heed and turned toward Hagnag, casting a whitish light upon the Wicked Witch of the West. At the touch of this light Hagnag shrunk back in her toadstool throne, as if in fear; indeed, for the first time in a great many years, she knew a feeling.

"Get away from me!" cried the witch, all in a panic. Then she turned to Woc Ardyl. "Keep it away from me, fool!"

But Woc Ardyl found himself feeling a thrill of bravery in proportion to Hagnag’s thrill of fear. He rushed forward and boldly tore his mistress from her seat upon the throne and held her by the shoulders, forcing her to face the gleaming white shadow. "No, no!" cried the witch in true terror. "It is my conscience come back to me, the very one I extracted and threw into the gorge! If it touches me—oh!" She could not finish.

"Her conscience!" exclaimed Princess Ozma. "Have you had her conscience with you all along?"

"I didn’t know that’s what it was," replied Miss Gale. "And don’t ask me how it happened to end up in that bottle in the Well Whatever."

Hagnag’s conscience never spoke a word—at least, not a word that anyone but Hagnag herself could hear. But the silhouette stretched out two luminous white arms and began to slowly advance upon the witch, who was still struggling in Woc Ardyl’s powerful grasp, which was strong as the jaws of a lion. However, strong as it was, Hagnag’s terror was stronger, for the old wicked witch, still clothed in the form of a beautiful girl, managed to writhe her way free. In three leaps she made her way across the throne room and through one of her magical doors; but swift as she was, her conscience proved equally swift, and Hagnag exited with her conscience barely at arm’s-length behind her.

"Hagnag had no fear of my axe," observed Nick Chopper. "Why was she so afraid of that shadow?"

"Because it was her conscience," explained Mandi. "A conscience cannot be destroyed, but only cut off from its owner; and wherever it is kept, it knows what its owner is up to. Hagnag’s conscience has recorded every one of Hagnag’s wicked acts since the two of them were born, and it desires to do what consciences are supposed to do, which is to make their owners regret their evil."

"Hagnag’s badnesses have all been stored up for years," Miss Gale added, "so she’ll have to do her regretting in one big swoosh—which won’t hardly be pleasant."

They could all hear shrieking rising and falling from the door in the wall, which had remained open. Now and then the witch herself darted past the door, fleeing in a frenzy, her conscience now only inches behind. And something else was happening too. Each time Hagnag was glimpsed, she seemed older and more skin-and-bones.

"Her woven covering is falling to tatters," said Ozma.

"It is rapidly fraying away and wearing out, because it was only her wicked magic that kept it in shape to begin with," chirped Mandi as he flew in great loops around the throne room. "She is trying to concentrate herself upon escaping, and she is sopping all her other magic back into herself."

"The poor old woman!" cried the Tin Woodman, wiping a tear from the corner of his tin eye; for the tinsmith had made his eyes with such perfection that they were able to cry real tears, though they tasted of tin rather than salt.

Now the Scarecrow spoke up. "You know," said he, "it seems very true that one learns something new every day. I would not have guessed that a person with no brain could have an imagination, yet it really seems to me that the floor of this room is starting to tilt over."

"You’re not wrong, friend Scarecrow," cried the Tin Woodman. "I have a tiny carpenter’s-level built in to my ear, and it tells me that the floor has begun to slope towards the far wall."

"But what could be happening?" asked Notmarie in alarm.

"Oh, I don’t know what could be happening," Mandi replied, "but I can tell you what is happening. This castle of Hagnag’s is coated with many layers of heavy siding; and now that she is taking back the wicked magic that had oozed and seeped into the ground, the tired old ground is becoming too weak to hold it up. I really think—yes, I foresee it now—that the whole castle is starting to slide into Bilious Gorge."

"And that will be the end of us all unless we manage to escape!" Woc Ardyl exclaimed. "Come, to the door!" Even as the Winkie spoke, the tilt of the floor became very noticeable. It was like being on the deck of a sinking ship, if any of my readers have had that unusual experience.

Woc Ardyl led them up the stairs, dodging stone and brick as it fell all around them. There was a sort of groaning and rumbling coming from the walls, and still, far behind them, they could hear Hagnag fleeing her conscience. But perhaps her conscience had finally caught her, for the cries were piteous indeed.

With great effort they reached the entrance hall, and ran for the door. "Still locked!" Miss Gale exclaimed, quite out of breath.

"But not locked by magic," advised the whittled canary, "and it may be possible to break it down."

The Tin Woodman raised his axe and began making wide and powerful swings against the door. He seemed to be making progress, and the hinges started to bend; but still the door held, for Nick Chopper’s strength was only human after all, tin-plated though it was.

"Stand aside!" shouted Woc Ardyl. He made a roaring sound from deep within his chest and then, starting from halfway across the room, charged at the door full force. He struck it with his shoulder—and it burst free of its hinges, letting in a broad shaft of welcome sunlight.

"Forward!" cried the Tin Woodman, and in the space of a moment they were all outside and down the front steps. The stone gargoyle screeched at them to stop, and they might have obeyed, but Dorothy Gale and Mandi led them further, away from the edge of the cliff upon which the tower of Hagnag rested and toward the main body of the mountain peak. Even as they ran they could feel the ledge beneath them sagging more and more toward the great emptiness of Bilious Gorge, and they could hear the thundercrack of huge boulders clattering down as the ground broke apart beneath the weight of the black castle.

There was another ledge, much smaller, set further back on the mountain; and it was to that place of safety that Mandi led them with loud chirps. The Scarecrow, who was at the rear by virtue of his awkwardness as a runner, had barely thrown himself upon the ledge with the others when the mountainside behind them—where they had been a scarce moment before—gave forth a full-throated roar and fell to pieces like a badly-made cake. They glimpsed the tower of the Wicked Witch of the West toppling over toward the gulf and then, in less time than it takes to tell it, that whole portion of the mountain plunged down like an elevator and was lost to sight. The fall of so much rock and earth drew quite a lot of air along with it, and Notmarie and Nick Chopper had to hold the arms of the Scarecrow lest the rush of wind steal him away.

Dust swirled up and filled the sky, and a thunderous boom-boom-booming echoed up from Bilious Gorge. But in a minute or so it was all over, and things were as they were before—or even better; for the haze of wickedness had been swept away by the wind, and the air was clear and sweet and bright with morning sunshine.

"I suppose it can’t be held against us," said the Scarecrow thoughtfully, "our not saying goodbye—all things considered."

 

 

 

 

Chapter Eighteen

Many Surprises

 

"SAY," SAID MISS GALE suddenly, "what has happened to Woc Ardyl?"

It was true enough. No one had seen what had become of the big Winkie after he had saved them by breaking down their imprisoning door.

"Perhaps he knows," said the Scarecrow with a gesture. The rest turned to look, and most of them gave a gasp of fear; for there, higher up on the side of the mountain, stood a great, powerful lion, switching his tail back and forth like a contented cat. And as if that weren’t bad enough, the travellers then saw what they hadn’t noticed at first—shreds of black and gold cloth scattered about the lion on the ground, some of them tangled in his claws. And as if that weren’t bad enough, the lion suddenly reared up and, with a roar, came bounding down the mountainside straight toward them!

"Stand behind me!" cried the Tin Woodman, raising his axe. "Our friend Woc Ardyl shall be avenged!" For he was sure, as were the others, that the lion had pounced upon the mild-hearted Winkie and eaten him without sauce or seasoning.

The lion saw and heard this, and skidded himself to a stop in surprise. "Do put that thing down, Nick Chopper, I beg you!" he exclaimed in a plaintive tone. "You almost parted Miss Gale’s hair with your blade when you swung back the axe just then."

"Oh!" said Dorothy Gale. "It seems this beast has made our acquaintance on some prior occasion."

"I think he has indeed," Notmarie said with wonder in her voice. For now she recognized another famous figure from the Emerald City. "I’m quite sure this is the Cowardly Lion of Oz!"

"Yes," replied the lion with a deep and growly voice that somehow was not frightening in the least, "I suppose, being that I am an admitted coward and a lion, that ‘Cowardly Lion’ is as good a name as any. Yet your words strike me as ungenerous, after my efforts to free you all from the castle—and while my shoulder is still aching, by the way."

"Why, this lion is our friend Woc Ardyl!" gasped Princess Ozma.

"You mean, I suppose, that our friend Woc Ardyl is inside this lion," retorted the Scarecrow.

"Not at all," said the lion. "It was as Woc Ardyl that you knew me, and as Woc Ardyl that I labored for many-oh-many long years, a victim of Hagnag’s evil transformations; but it is as a lion of the forest that I was born."

"But which you is the real you?" asked Miss Gale.

"This is my true form," responded the great beast with the dignity of a sovereign. "I recall everything now. I was a young lion when the witch Quorribble caught me in a trap in my forest home. She gave me as a gift to Mombi, who had no use for me and passed me on to Kragmagda the Quadling, who gave me in trade, for twenty yellow swans and a gilded duck, to the Wicked Witch of the West. Hagnag made me a man of the human kind, so that I would require less to eat, and enslaved me; and as human brains are not designed to retain animal memories, I soon forgot that I had not always been an ordinary Winkie. It was only when she drew-up the very last dregs of her scattered witchery that I returned to myself and burst out of my absurd human clothes."

"And now, shall we still call you Woc Ardyl?" Nick Chopper inquired, anxious as always to give no offense. "We would not want to remind you of an unpleasant episode in your life."

"I will no longer answer to a human name," replied the lion proudly, mumbling a bit (for he was licking his paw, as cats do). "If you care to call me ‘Cowardly Lion,’ go ahead. Others have called me worse, you know."

So the little group, which had begun with just one little Quadling girl, now came to be seven in number—Notmarie, Mandi, Dorothy Gale, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, Princess Ozma, and their new companion the Cowardly Lion. "But tell me," said Miss Gale pointedly to Notmarie. "How did you happen to know of this lion prior to his having introduced himself?"

"I suppose I ought to tell you the whole thing," she said. "I have held off because I thought you might not believe me, or because—well, because you might not care for what I think I must do; for it will change who you think you are, into who you really are."

"You must trust in our friendship, Notmarie, and our good judgment," said Ozma in a serious tone. So Notmarie told them of Glinda’s magic book, and of the consequences of her accidental erasure; and she spoke in a general way of the true history of Oz.

"Do you mean to say," Miss Gale burst out, "that I am really still a young and pretty child?"

"You are indeed," Notmarie answered, "and you will be one always."

"And in truth, I have found a brain for myself?" asked the Scarecrow.

"Yes," said Notmarie; "for it was the wonderful Wizard of Oz himself who gave it to you."

"Then despite this present feeling of emptiness, in actual fact there beats a heart within my tin breast?" cried the Tin Woodman with great emotion.

"A very fine heart," the Quadling girl responded, "so I have been told."

"As for me," declared the Cowardly Lion, "it seems I have accumulated some bravery on my own. Nevertheless, I should like to have true courage added in on top."

"Everyone says you are the most courageous Cowardly Lion in existence," Notmarie assured him.

"And it seems I am a wise Rightful Ruler of this land after all," was Ozma’s comment. "Is that right?"

"You are not only well renowned for your wisdom, but everyone who meets you loves you dearly," observed Notmarie. She then held out her hand, and Mandi settled upon it. "But you, Mandi—you have been my guide and special friend through all of this, but I have to confess I know nothing about you in your real life. I’m afraid you are no one I ever heard of."

"Don’t mind that," said the whittled canary, "for I was once King of Oz, you know; and now I am content knowing that the rest of you have all found wonderful things with which to fill your lives."

"We will only find those things if Notmarie is able to mend her accident," Miss Gale declared; "and as of this moment that seems as distant as ever."

They talked some more of this and that, and then, urged onward by Mandi’s instincts, began making their way toward the other side of Hagnag’s mountain, thence to descend toward the northern Country of the Gillikins. Now that the great evil was behind them and dissolved away, the journey seemed much easier—but of course it is easier to go downhill than uphill in any event. So by early evening the party was out of the mountains completely, and found themselves walking through the broad purple-flowered fields of the Gillikin Country.

"I have never been here before," Notmarie remarked. "This northern land is at the other end of Oz from the Quadling Country. If only it weren’t so!—for tomorrow is Wednesday, and I am to appear before Glinda at three minutes past eleven in the morning. And after that the magical weather turns bad, and perhaps she will be unable to put things right for a very long time."

"I fear we are nowhere close to the southern edge of Oz, my dear girl," growled the Cowardly Lion sympathetically.

"But you mustn’t give up hope," advised Nick Chopper. "The hour has not yet arrived."

"Perhaps Miss Gale will be so good as to tell us when hope ought to be given up," added the Scarecrow.

"You may count on it, I’m sure, Mr. Scarecrow," was Dorothy’s response, with a wink in the direction of Ozma and Notmarie.

The whittled canary, who had been flying on ahead, now swooped into sight, and Princess Ozma called out to him. "Have you found us a place to spend the night?"

"Yes I have," said he. "I know now just where I am leading you; though why I am leading you there I cannot yet imagine." As the shadows lengthened, he led them to the very outskirts of the Great Dark Gillikin Forest. They stopped at the foot of a big gnarled tree with a very thick trunk, and pudgy boughs that made the tree look like an uplifted hand. Nestled firmly in the place where the boughs came together, and thus resting its weight on the top of the tree-trunk, was something large and square-sided, like a sort of box.

"What can it be?" asked Notmarie, walking around the base of the tree. And then when she reached the other side, she cried out, "Why, it’s a big bird-house!"

And so it was—a bird-house almost as big as a person-house, with a curve-sided roof of the sort one sees on Chinese pagodas, a sort of balcony or front porch of round logs set side-by-side, and a single circular opening on the one wall, covered over by a circular door that just fit. The structure was solidly built of some light-colored wood, and pretty carvings decorated every wall.

"Here is where we shall spend the night," Mandi pronounced. "It is the home of a Noixz; but as this is an odd-numbered century, she is out at the moment, nesting in Antarctica."

"Is the Noixz a bird?" Ozma inquired.

"Not just a bird, but the bird," answered Mandi; "the veritable bird of birds. A Noixz is the size of a row-boat, with great wings shaped like those of an eagle. Its body is much like a falcon’s, and its tail is like that of a peacock. It lives for a thousand years, but lays only two eggs, one a boy and one a girl; consequently the Noixz population is very small. There are no more than ten or so in the whole world at present, I am told."

"I didn’t know this was an odd-numbered century," the Scarecrow remarked. "How long will it remain that way?"

"For about a hundred years," Mandi replied.

It now remained to get up to the bird-house, which was, after all, well over their heads in the limbs of the tree. But this proved to be less difficult than expected, for they were able to toss the Scarecrow, who was very light in weight, up to the balcony; and from there, by twining his legs around a log, he was able to swing down and grasp the up-stretched hands of those below, Notmarie and Ozma requiring special boosts from the Tin Woodman. Finally the Cowardly Lion joined them, attaining the balcony in a single great jump, his weight making the whole tree shake. Only then did Nick Chopper venture to push on the ornate wooden door, which by good luck was unlocked and opened easily on well-oiled hinges.

"I can’t see a thing," said Miss Gale. But the tin man’s tin eyes detected a button on the wall by the door, and when this was pushed the room was flooded by a bright clear light. "It seems the Noixz has put in electricity," noted Mandi. "Or it is some form of magic that is very much like electricity, for the Noixz is a skilled practitioner of bird-magic."

This was evidently quite true, for the single room was outfitted with a broad sink, like a trough, above which were copper faucets marked HOT and COLD which were found to work perfectly well although they were not connected to any pipe. There was also a gigantic swinging perch hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the room, upholstered in cloth of a lovely violet shade, and a cupboard attached to the wall. The doors of the cupboard were open, and the travellers could see that the shelves within were bare.

"It looks like we won’t be having supper tonight," said Notmarie in disappointment.

"Yes; that is how it looks," agreed Mandi. But he told the Quadling girl to close the cupboard doors and think of the sort of food she most wanted to eat. When she had done this, the doors seemed to spring open by themselves, and the shelves were stocked with everything she had just imagined.

"I hope it’s not just more imaginary food, like we had over at the Wicked Witch’s," Miss Gale commented. But Notmarie tasted a purple pear, and pronounced it fresh, sweet, and solid as anything.

That night the travellers dined well and slept well, though the carpetted floor was their only bed.

When Notmarie awoke, she crept over to the door and opened it a crack. It was just dawn, and the few clouds in the Ozian sky were streaked with the favorite color of the Gillikin Country, mixed with pale gold. The girl looked at the sky wistfully, knowing that in just a few hours, many miles to the south, Glinda the Good would be awaiting her for an important appointment that she would be unable to keep.

There was a whuffle of air and Mandi came down lightly upon her shoulder. "There is still hope, little Notmarie," he chirped softly in her ear. "As I do not sleep, I have been free over the last few hours to think."

"And what did you think?" asked the girl.

"Many things," he responded. "But the best thought was this. I remembered that there is still one gift from the Well Whatever that has not been used, namely my own."

"Why, I’d forgotten all about that one!" exclaimed Notmarie. "It’s small and narrow and hard to notice."

"Yes," Mandi said; "and my wooden body has no sense of touch except at the tips of my claws, so I too forgot that the hoop of rubber was stretched around my neck. But there it is, and we must discover what it’s for and how to make it serve us."

Now the use of rubber bands was something that the little Wizard of Oz had introduced into the fairyland, which had never heard of such a thing, so common in the civilized countries. But of course in this Oz, the false Oz, there never had been such a person, and the humble rubber band (and the paper clip) was still unknown—a fact Notmarie now realized.

"You know, Mandi, the thing is called a ‘rubber band’," said she.

"And what is it used for?"

"Well—I’ve heard that some people use it to remind them of something, by wrapping it around a finger or their wrist. But its main use is to put around bunches of things, to hold them together."

"I believe I understand," said the whittled canary. He said no more for a long while, as unmoving as the block of wood he really was. Then all of a sudden he spoke again. "I find that I am thinking over and over about Miss Gale. Could that be what I am supposed to be reminded of?" Another long pause ensued, and when Mandi spoke again it was with a flutter of wings and a chirp of enthusiasm. "I have it! I know what to do!"

"You do?" cried Notmarie.

"I do," he replied; "for at last I see myself doing it—it is What Is To Be, and nothing less!" All the others had now awakened and taken notice, and Miss Gale pushed the button to turn on the electric light. What they saw was Mandi the whittled canary with his claws dug firmly into the wood of the round door-sill, flapping his wooden wings with all his might.

"If you’re planning to carry off this bird-house in your claws, friend canary, I really think you will need a course in muscle-building," commented the Cowardly Lion, giving a great cat’s-yawn after his night of sleep.

"But something is happening," said Ozma.

"I have supposed something is always happening," the Scarecrow observed, "though I may be wrong, of course."

"I’ll be ever so happy when you finally get yourself a brain," said Miss Gale.

"Thank you," responded the Scarecrow with equanimity.

Something was happening, though for a long time no one quite knew what it was. To the flapping-sound of Mandi’s wings was added the rushing-sound of the air that the wings were beating back against itself, and this rushing-sound grew louder and louder, whistling all around the outside of the bird-house and shrieking like a powerful wind whenever it turned a corner. It was a sound Dorothy Gale remembered from long ago. "Good gravy and giblets, that little wooden bird is stirring up a cyclone!" she exclaimed in great excitement.

It was true. The magic rubber band was binding together all the winds and breezes so that instead of heading off on their own and dissipating, they were made to run circles around the house, over and over. And it is in the nature of winds and breezes that when they trip up against others of their kind, the others are forced to whirl along with them in an ever-growing storm shaped like a funnel—a cyclone, just like the one that had carried Dorothy Gale’s prairie home from Kansas to Oz so many years before.

After a little while Mandi was able to stop his flapping, for the cyclone had got to the point of growing all on its own. It grew and grew, and the winds rustled and roared and shook the walls; and the boughs of the tree that held the bird-house were turning and twisting every which-way. The floor rocked back and forth, and everyone had to find something to hold on to—except the Scarecrow, who didn’t mind bouncing around and couldn’t be hurt by it.

Of a sudden there was a great shudder, and the party could feel the house rising up and up, faster and faster. The cyclone had torn the bird-house from its perch in the big tree and now was carrying it through the air!

"Dear, oh dear, what shall become of us?" cried the Cowardly Lion, trying to cover his eyes with his paws—for after all, he really was cowardly, though sometimes in a brave sort of way.

"Been through it all before! This is nothing!" responded Miss Gale, sheer pleasure glowing on her wrinkled face.

The bird-house was actually moving more steadily than before, and the travellers gathered at the round doorway to enjoy the sights. They seemed higher-up than even the witch’s mountain, and fancied they could see a bit of all the four nations of Oz at the same time. That may have been just a trick of the light, but it was certain that they had already crossed the boundary of the Country of the Gillikins—which they had only penetrated a little ways—for below them were the green fields of the middle country. Sometimes the cyclone itself obscured their view, for it reached all the way to the ground and swept up a goodly amount of dirt and leaves, giving it a clouded appearance. But the bottom of the cyclone jumped about merrily, and they often had quite a lovely view.

They travelled on in this way for hours, the cyclone carrying them ever southward; for such had been the command that Mandi had been able to give the cyclone, and the magic rubber band continued to bind the cyclone and force its unruly winds to obey. They crossed the middle country quickly, with just a glimpse of the Palace of the Now-Former Princeling of Guyle far below; then the lands took on the red of the Quadling Country. And so it was, through breakfast-time and for the rest of the morning. It was Princess Ozma who cried out, "Look!" She pointed, and the others saw a beautiful ruby-red castle coming into view, with the harsh and ugly desert lurking just beyond.

They felt a sensation of falling, and there was a moment of panic for those who could feel such a thing. But it was for nought. The cyclone set the bird-house down as gently as you please in the forecourt of Glinda the Good. And then the winds, finally set free, fled off in all directions and were gone.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Nineteen

Notmarie Has What Is Needed

 

"I was afraid you were going to be late," said Glinda. "But here you are; and you have brought some interesting friends to meet me."

"I try never to be late, Mistress Glinda," replied Notmarie, giving a little curtsey. She and the others—even the big Cowardly Lion—had been assembled by the Sorceress in her magiquary immediately upon their arrival.

Glinda cast a glance in the direction of a grandfather clock. "But do we have time to do what is to be done, before the magical weather turns bad?" she asked.

"I should think so," the clock answered in ringing tones. "But you had best be about your business, for time and tide wait for no man."

Notmarie now stepped forward and said, her face reddening, "Mistress, I have something I must tell you. Just before I met you that morning on the patio, I—I accidently erased something in your magic book."

"I know it," said Glinda, looking serenely into her eyes.

"And then I tried to fix it, in a way that you wouldn’t notice; because I was ashamed to tell you what I had done," Notmarie continued.

"I know it," said the sorceress again.

"But I must not have fixed it properly, because things didn’t go back to the way they ought to be," concluded the Quadling girl.

"I know it," Glinda the Good said a third time.

"She seems to be repeating herself," the Scarecrow whispered to Nick Chopper.

Glinda smiled in good humor at this, and said gently, "I know all these things, because after Notmarie left I spent a long time reading in the Great Book of Records; and it wasn’t at all difficult to uncover what had happened. Since then I have been following your adventures from one side of Oz to the other. I was not powerful enough to protect you against the Wicked Witch of the West, but there were several times when I warded off a danger that would have harmed you, though you never knew it."

"If you know all this," said Princess Ozma, "then why haven’t you corrected the mistake in your magic book?"

"I have corrected it," said the sorceress. "But you see, my dears, this Great Book of Records that you see before you is not the real one, nor am I the real Glinda. Everything here—perhaps everything in the world—is only a revised version of itself. Changing the false Record Book has no effect at all."

Miss Gale uttered "Hmm hmm hmm!" and then added with some asperity, "Another useless case, I see. What then shall we do, Miss Wands-and-Witchery?"

"Only this girl here is truly as she is supposed to be," replied Glinda the Good. "Having changed everything else, she herself remained unchanged, and remembers things as they were. Only she, and she alone, can put things right."

"But how?" Notmarie asked. "I don’t have any idea what to do."

"It must be done by magic," chirped Mandi, "for at last I see that it is so. And it must be Notmarie’s own magic and no one else’s."

This announcement left everyone is a state of puzzlement, though Glinda nodded as if she knew already that it was true.

Notmarie shook her head. "I don’t know any magic at all," she protested. "I’m just a girl who grew up in the forest, and nothing I do ever comes out right."

Glinda knelt down and drew the little girl to her reassuringly. "No one is asking you to do what is impossible," said she. "But are you quite sure you didn’t bring something with you that has some magic in it? Something from Oz-as-it-should-be?"

"You know, the guardian trees did say that she already possessed the gift she needed," the Tin Woodman observed.

"And even I don’t hesitate to say that words usually mean something," the Scarecrow added.

"You’ve just got to think, child," said Dorothy Gale; "think and be brave."

"I’ll try," said Notmarie doubtfully. She tried to remember everything that had happened since that fateful morning. Had she had anything with her that had slipped her mind, anything magical?

Deep in thought, anxious faces all around her, she slipped her hand into one of the pockets of her Quadling skirt; and after a moment she noticed that her fingers were brushing against something in an absent-minded way. She pulled it forth into the light and looked at it. It was a little thing, and at first she couldn’t imagine where she had got it from or what it was for—it was a tiny key of green metal, with a single emerald set in it. "Oh, I remember now," said Notmarie finally. "This is the key I picked up from the floor just before I fell against the Book of Records."

"And what is its purpose?" asked Glinda.

"It winds up something that the Wizard of Oz made, called—called the Magic Mechanical Ear!"

"Magic!" roared the Cowardly Lion; and it was a roar of glee.

"I do believe we have found just what is needed," declared the great sorceress. "Now we must put its magic to use; and we must do so quickly, for I can feel the magical climate changing around me."

Glinda the Good took the key and examined it minutely with several of her special instruments. Then she consulted various books, murmuring now and then to herself. At length she looked up and said, "All right, I know what must be done." She held the key between her thumb and forefinger and looked at it with a steady gaze, and suddenly, with a little crackling spark, the key disappeared.

"What do I do now?" asked Notmarie anxiously.

"It’s very simple, and you will find it easy to do," Glinda responded. "Do you see that table over there?" The sorceress pointed at a small end-table. When Notmarie nodded, Glinda continued, "Approach the table and keep looking at it until you see the key. Pick up the key in your left hand, and hold it tightly there; then walk over to the Record Book and open it with your right hand. The book you will see will be the true one, and the sentence at the top of the page will be the one you changed. All you have to do is read it aloud—but with the right word instead of the wrong one."

"What will happen to us?" the Cowardly Lion asked in a nervous tone.

"Nothing at all," said Glinda. "True, you will not exist any more as you now seem to yourselves to be. But the way you seem to yourself now is untrue and just a thing of imagination. You will become the real Lion once more."

"That’s well and good," he said, "but my bravery is ebbing and I’m afraid it will hurt."

"You needn’t be afraid," Glinda replied. "How can it hurt to replace what never existed in the first place with what really existed all along?"

"When you put it that way, I suppose it makes sense," said Princess Ozma. "Isn’t it strange to think that all that has happened—even my hundred years as Malodo—why, it never really happened at all."

"It happened in imagination, and that is where it ought to have stayed."

"But still," said Notmarie a little wistfully (for she was already beginning to miss her comrades, imaginary though they might be), "it seems like a lot of trouble for nothing. If it all goes back to never having happened at all—well, what’s the point of it? Will I even remember it?"

"No, dear, you won’t," was Glinda’s answer. "But I can tell you this. Nothing is without purpose, even imaginary things; and nothing is ever really lost for good. You can be sure something was gained by all of us, and whatever that ‘something’ is will remain, though we will never know just how we came to acquire it."

They all said their goodbyes to one another, as if going their separate ways on journeys no one else could join. Notmarie gave Miss Gale a kiss, and was surprised to see that the old woman, who had sometimes seemed a bit brusque and outspoken—even more than a bit—had tears in her eyes.

"I had a wonderful time," said Dorothy Gale; and that was all.

Now Notmarie walked over to the little table and looked down at it. At first there was nothing at all to be seen. But in the space of a blink, there was a green key on the table-top. The girl picked it up as she had been instructed and held it fast.

Instantly everything around Notmarie disappeared—not only Glinda the Good and the others, but all the furniture, the walls, the floor, and even Notmarie’s own body. There was just a great glowing blankness all around; and suspended in the middle was the wonderful magic book. Notmarie took three steps toward the Great Book of Records (though she seemed to be walking on nothing at all, with nothing at all) and touched it with her invisible right hand. This was peculiarly difficult to do, but after several attempts she felt the cover of the book beneath her fingers. The book fell open easily; and at the top of the page thus revealed the girl saw this sentence printed out in black letters—

O. Z. Diggs has not come down in his balloon in the Land of Oz.

That was, of course, the mistaken sentence, the word not written in Notmarie’s own hand. Still grasping the key, she said aloud, in a clear voice, "O. Z. Diggs has now come down in his balloon in the Land of Oz."

And—

 

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty

A Few Words Here and There

 

"OH LOOK, here is That," said Dorothy, putting down the pink tea-biscuit that she had covered with sweet red blueberry jam.

"Why do you call her ‘that’?" asked Glinda.

"’Cause That is her name, you know," replied the little princess. "To tell the truth, Glinda, her whole family seems most p’culiar when it comes to what they like to be called."

Notmarie walked into the sunshine of the patio where her mistress and Princess Dorothy were having their luncheon. She smiled and held out her hand.

"I think this is yours, Princess," she said. "It was in the magiquary."

"Oh me, I’m always dropping it somewhere!" Dorothy exclaimed, holding up the little key so Glinda could see it. "I s’pose some day I’ll lose it for good."

After the little handmaid had left the patio to resume her tasks, Glinda cast an affectionate glance at Dorothy and said, "You have such a thoughtful expression on your face, my princess. What are you thinking?"

"Oh, nothing that matters much," replied Princess Dorothy, looking at the key in her hand. "It’s just that I was daydreaming in the buggy this morning ’bout how I’m still a girl, and will always be a girl—I’ll never grow up, and I’ll never grow old like Uncle Henry and Aunt Em; so I’ll never know what growing old is like."

"Does that bother you, dear?" asked Glinda. "No one needs to be unhappy for very long here in Oz."

"Now and then it’s bothered me just a little, I s’pose," Dorothy admitted; and Glinda could tell it had bothered her friend more than just a little, and more than now and then. "But you know, just now, just a minute ago, it struck me all-in-a-lick that I already know all I ever need to know about getting old and wrinkley."

"But how?"

"Just by pure ’magination, Glinda," said the little girl from Kansas; "and I think that’s good enough after all."

That was one conversation that took place late that morning. But before I can bring this story to its close, I must report a few more that took place at about the same time.

In the Emerald City, dazzling and green, Princess Ozma of Oz played at hoops in her courtyard with Jellia Jamb and two girls who had come to Oz from the United States like Dorothy—though without the services of a cyclone—named Betsy Bobbin and Tiny Trot. As they laughed and played, the little old Wizard of Oz, who for a time long long ago had been called "Oz the Great and Terrible," sat nearby on a bench under a tree, enjoying their laughter and the shade on his bald wrinkled head.

When the others ran off for refreshment, Ozma came and sat next to the Wizard, looking up into his face with a sweet smile but a brow that bespoke a matter of some gravity.

"Wizard," she said, "you are one of my most trusted counselors."

"It is my privilege to serve you, my dear," he responded.

Her face now grew very sober indeed. "It is in that official capacity that I must ask your judgment on something."

"I am listening."

"You know, of course, that I spent quite a few years as a boy named Tip, because Mombi the witch transformed me and held me a captive."

"Yes," said the Wizard. "I ought to know, for I played a part in the scheme, I am ashamed to say."

"I don’t mean to bring up a painful subject," Ozma continued quickly. "But every now and then, for as long as I can remember..."

"Yes?"

"Well—" she said haltingly, glancing about to make certain no one else was in the courtyard. "Much as I am dedicated to doing my duty, to doing good and being just and fair, and ruling all my subjects with love and kindness—"

"And no one has ever found you lacking," interrupted the Wizard.

"No, but—but sometimes I do wonder what it would be like to be able to be—" And here Ozma sighed. "To be mischievous, as boys are at times," she concluded.

"Ah, I see," said the Wizard with a twinkle in both his eyes. "To be free to be a little imperfect, a little not-so-good, even just a tad wicked, perhaps?"

Ozma lowered her eyes in shame. "But only in a nice way. Of course I am duty-bound not to try such a thing at all. Still, I think about it and grow wistful; and I wonder if perhaps even thinking about it is a betrayal of all those who trust in me."

The little Wizard nodded thoughtfully and rubbed his chin. "It may surprise you to know that I—yes, even I!—did a few wicked things when I was running the show as the Great Oz. Perhaps there is a smidgen of mischief in all of us; but never more than we can bear. You don’t feel tempted to do anything awfully bad right now, do you?"

"No," Ozma answered. And after a silence her eyes brightened, and she said, "In fact, I think just speaking to you of this has helped me, for I feel as if a burden has suddenly been lifted. How strange! For the first time I don’t even feel curious about what it would be like to be wicked. It’s not at all tempting, for I think it would turn out to be ever so dull in the end."

As Ozma’s bright smile beamed out again, the Wizard gave a wink and said, "Believe me, my dear, I have found, by long personal experience in all the eight continents of the world, that serious and dedicated wickedness is not all it’s cracked up to be."

Meanwhile, many miles to the west in the yellow Winkie Country, two excellent friends and longtime companions sat side-by-side on elegant thrones, one of polished tin and the other of straw woven together in wicker-fashion. They sat thus in silence, often for days at a time, never requiring food or sleep, each deriving from the other whatever warmth of companionship he needed. Because the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow had been friends for year upon year, they had long ago exhausted their opinions on every subject under the sun, and so had nothing further to say. But they were content just to enjoy the presence of one another, and wait in the Tin Castle for whatever might happen their way.

The last word had been spoken three days previous, when Nick Chopper had said "Ahhh!" while one of the castle servants was oiling his joints. The Scarecrow had nodded his head but had seen no need to make a verbal rejoinder. It was something of a surprise, then, when suddenly, late in the morning, both these quaint and distinguished characters started to speak at the very same moment.

"I—" began the tin man.

"You know—" began the straw man.

"Oh, sorry," said the Tin Woodman immediately.

"No, do go on," said the Scarecrow.

Of course they were equally perplexed as to who ought to speak, so they settled the matter by an arm-wrestling match. The Tin Woodman was much the stronger, but having a kind heart he pretended to lose; and the Scarecrow, who had a superior brain of pins and bran-mush, was wise enough to pretend not to notice.

So the Scarecrow had won the right to speak first, and what he said was, "Very well then, Nick, tell me what you wished to say."

"Only that, at a distinct moment just then, I came to appreciate your friendship a good deal more than before," replied the tin man.

"This, after so many years?" responded his companion in surprise.

"Remarkable, isn’t it? But there is a difference between enjoying and appreciating," Nick Chopper continued, "and it has suddenly become plain to me that without your company I should be alone—except for the various others, of course—and I have never been really alone but once in my life."

"When was that?" asked the Scarecrow.

"When I stood all rusted in the Munchkin Forest for a year or so, way back when. It was the longest and loneliest year of my life, until you and Dorothy and little Toto found me and oiled my joints."

"Ah! those were the days," said the Scarecrow.

"Yes. And what has occurred to me is that if the three of you hadn’t happened my way, I mightn’t have been discovered for a great many such years—if ever; for I was back a distance from the Yellow Brick Road. But you did discover me, and we have been companions ever since, and—I believe I shall start appreciating you," the Tin Woodman finished. "Now then, my hay-fellow-well-met, were you about to express some similar thought?"

"No," replied the Scarecrow simply, "nothing like that. I was only going to say that I am pleased to have these fine sharp brains inside the burlap sack that is my only head; for it seems to me that those who lack brains are often given tedious sorts of jobs that no one else cares to do. And though I do not grow tired like a meat person, nor feel pain, I am as sensitive as anyone to an injury to my dignity."

"Then I am glad you have such brains as you have," said the tin man; "perhaps as glad as you are."

"Thank you," said the straw man.

"Don’t mention it," replied the other; and then they were silent again, and quite content.

On a crowded and bustling avenue of the City of Emeralds that morning, two great handsome beasts trotted along shoulder to shoulder, just as if they were hitched to a wagon. But nothing bound the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger together but their mutual regard and affection. They proceeded in their customary regal and elegant manner, pausing now and then to permit some little Ozmie child to pet them before they trotted off on their way. They exchanged few words, not even in the gruff and growly language of the animals, which they sometimes used when they wished privacy from human ears. But as they rounded a corner by a nursery school, the Hungry Tiger began to speak as usual of his bottomless hunger, and how tasty it would be to sup on a few dozen fat babies, doubtless to their detriment. After a good while of this the Cowardly Lion cleared his throat to speak. But all he said was, "Perhaps so." Just that.

"What do you mean, ‘perhaps so’?" demanded the Hungry Tiger indignantly.

"I mean only what I said," answered the great lion. "You have ears."

"Yes indeed, and a stomach," said his companion, "but I have never heard you say ‘perhaps so’ to me. Do you not intend to lecture me in your customary disagreeable manner? Are you going to allow me to run on and on obsessively about this debilitating hunger of mine—which I surely never asked for, but which dominates my every thought? Won’t you cuff me a bit, just to prove you are you?"

"Since you inquired as to what I meant by ‘perhaps so,’ I shall tell you," the Cowardly Lion replied majestically. "I mean that I have arrived at the opinion—abruptly, it is true—that as animals we are designed to eat, and as animals that eat it is proper that we feel hunger to tell us when to do so. Eating is the blessing and the curse of all fleshly creatures, you know; and if you happen to be constructed with somewhat finicky or excessive tastes built into you, I dare not judge you—perhaps. It is unplanned circumstance and chance opportunity that provide each of us the good fortune to become master of ourselves, our appetitites or our debilities. I can no more blame you for your bottomless hunger than I ought to be blamed for my natural cowardice, which I would never have been able to keep in check had I not been placed unwillingly in situations in which courage was the only way out. And so, friend tiger, if I am ever again disagreeable on that particular subject, do mention it and I shall cease. I may decide to tear you to pieces for your impudence, of course; but I shall do it sympathetically, you may be sure."

The Hungry Tiger snorted and gave forth a suspicious growl at the conclusion of this speech. But his stomach rumbled, and he decided to let that be his answer.

I have one more scene to place before you. It comes last because it happened last, not on that same morning, but several months later, and in the afternoon.

Notmarie was at work behind the castle of Glinda the Good, taking down the dry linens from the clothesline and putting them in her basket. She was not quite the same Notmarie as we have known up till now. Her acquaintances among the servants of Glinda, and even her mother and father and many brothers and sisters (except Nottewdaye), said that something had changed, though they couldn’t quite put their many fingers on it. She was not so shy, and more willing to speak her mind. Her disposition, formerly a little fretful, had become sunnier, as if life were no longer a worrisome burden. Where once she was withdrawn and perhaps too concerned about herself, there was now a concern for others that is the first sign of a loving heart. The impulsiveness that she had sometimes shown, of which we have seen several examples, now was tempered by a little wisdom and maturity, as if she had come to realize that how she conducted herself might be of importance to others. And she showed flashes of—perhaps not the courage of a lion—but at least the bravery of a brave Quadling girl. These traits were not always quite so obvious as I have made them out to be, but they were there just the same. And an odd thing it was, if you think of it. We normally improve ourselves by imitating others who inspire us, persons whom we admire; but though many admirable characters came to see Glinda all the time, Notmarie couldn’t recall having met anyone recently with just those qualities.

It was a mystery for sure, and she was thinking about it that afternoon when she felt the clothesline bounce up and down a little. A small bird, a canary in fact, had landed on the line and was watching her. It was mostly a beautiful emerald green in color, but with splashes of other bright colors here and there to lovely effect; and as Notmarie approached she saw with great surprise that it wasn’t an ordinary feather-canary at all, as she had supposed. It was all of wood, as if made by some expert whittler.

"Hello," said the girl. "My, how pretty you are! I wonder, can you talk?"

"Yes I can, and thank you," answered the canary. "My name is Mandi, and I am pleased to make your acquaintance."

"My name is Notmarie," she answered, "and I’m pleased too, for I don’t yet have many friends here to talk to, and I think such an unusual thing as yourself must have many a story to tell. How did you get to be as you are?"

"That," Mandi replied, "is quite a long story."

"Then let us make it a continued serial," said the Quadling girl, "for I have my work to do. But I hope we’ll be friends."

"Friends we shall be, my little Notmarie," chirped the whittled canary. "I know we shall be very good friends. And you may take it on authority that when I say I know—I know!"

And then he spread his wooden wings and darted away, and was lost to sight in the reddish-blue sky.

The End