Frank Baum >> The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (page 23)

''We will do that gladly,'' returned the tiger; and all the other beasts roared with a mighty roar: ''We will!''

''Where is this great spider of yours now?'' asked the Lion.

''Yonder, among the oak trees,'' said the tiger, pointing with his forefoot.

''Take good care of these friends of mine,'' said the Lion, ''and I will go at once to fight the monster.''

He bade his comrades Good-bye and marched proudly away to do battle with the enemy.

The great spider was lying asleep when the Lion found him, and it looked so ugly that its foe turned up his nose in disgust. Its legs were quite as long as the tiger had said, and its body covered with coarse black hair. It had a great mouth, with a row of sharp teeth a foot long; but its head was joined to the pudgy body by a neck as slender as a wasp's waist. This gave the Lion a hint of the best way to attack the creature, and as he knew it was easier to fight it asleep than awake, he gave a great spring and landed directly upon the monster's back. Then, with one blow of his heavy paw, all armed with sharp claws, he knocked the spider's head from its body. Jumping down, he watched it until the long legs stopped wiggling, when he knew it was quite dead.

The Lion went back to the opening where the beasts of the forest were waiting for him and said proudly:

''You need fear your enemy no longer.''

Then the beasts bowed down to the Lion as their King, and he promised to come back and rule over them as soon as Dorothy was safely on her way to Kansas.

22. The Country of the Quadlings

The four travelers passed through the rest of the forest in safety, and when they came out from its gloom saw before them a steep hill, covered from top to bottom with great pieces of rock.

''That will be a hard climb,'' said the Scarecrow, ''but we must get over the hill, nevertheless.''

So he led the way and the others followed. They had nearly reached the first rock when they heard a rough voice cry out, ''Keep back!''

''Who are you?'' asked the Scarecrow.

Then a head showed itself over the rock and the same voice said, ''This hill belongs to us, and we don't allow anyone to cross it.''

''But we must cross it,'' said the Scarecrow. ''We're going to the country of the Quadlings.''

''But you shall not!'' replied the voice, and there stepped from behind the rock the strangest man the travelers had ever seen.

He was quite short and stout and had a big head, which was flat at the top and supported by a thick neck full of wrinkles. But he had no arms at all, and, seeing this, the Scarecrow did not fear that so helpless a creature could prevent them from climbing the hill. So he said, ''I'm sorry not to do as you wish, but we must pass over your hill whether you like it or not,'' and he walked boldly forward.

As quick as lightning the man's head shot forward and his neck stretched out until the top of the head, where it was flat, struck the Scarecrow in the middle and sent him tumbling, over and over, down the hill. Almost as quickly as it came the head went back to the body, and the man laughed harshly as he said, ''It isn't as easy as you think!''

A chorus of boisterous laughter came from the other rocks, and Dorothy saw hundreds of the armless Hammer - Heads upon the hillside, one behind every rock.

The Lion became quite angry at the laughter caused by the Scarecrow's mishap, and giving a loud roar that echoed like thunder, he dashed up the hill.

Again a head shot swiftly out, and the great Lion went rolling down the hill as if he had been struck by a cannon ball.

Dorothy ran down and helped the Scarecrow to his feet, and the Lion came up to her, feeling rather bruised and sore, and said, ''It is useless to fight people with shooting heads; no one can withstand them.''

''What can we do, then?'' she asked.

''Call the Winged Monkeys,'' suggested the Tin Woodman. ''You have still the right to command them once more.''

''Very well,'' she answered, and putting on the Golden Cap she uttered the magic words. The Monkeys were as prompt as ever, and in a few moments the entire band stood before her.

''What are your commands?'' inquired the King of the Monkeys, bowing low.

''Carry us over the hill to the country of the Quadlings,'' answered the girl.

''It shall be done,'' said the King, and at once the Winged Monkeys caught the four travelers and Toto up in their arms and flew away with them. As they passed over the hill the Hammer - Heads yelled with vexation, and shot their heads high in the air, but they could not reach the Winged Monkeys, which carried Dorothy and her comrades safely over the hill and set them down in the beautiful country of the Quadlings.

''This is the last time you can summon us,'' said the leader to Dorothy; ''so Good-bye and good luck to you.''

''Good-bye, and thank you very much,'' returned the girl; and the Monkeys rose into the air and were out of sight in a twinkling.

The country of the Quadlings seemed rich and happy. There was field upon field of ripening grain, with well - paved roads running between, and pretty rippling brooks with strong bridges across them. The fences and houses and bridges were all painted bright red, just as they had been painted yellow in the country of the Winkies and blue in the country of the Munchkins. The Quadlings themselves, who were short and fat and looked chubby and good - natured, were dressed all in red, which showed bright against the green grass and the yellowing grain.

The Monkeys had set them down near a farmhouse, and the four travelers walked up to it and knocked at the door. It was opened by the farmer's wife, and when Dorothy asked for something to eat the woman gave them all a good dinner, with three kinds of cake and four kinds of cookies, and a bowl of milk for Toto.

''How far is it to the Castle of Glinda?'' asked the child.

''It is not a great way,'' answered the farmer's wife. ''Take the road to the South and you will soon reach it.

Thanking the good woman, they started afresh and walked by the fields and across the pretty bridges until they saw before them a very beautiful Castle. Before the gates were three young girls, dressed in handsome red uniforms trimmed with gold braid; and as Dorothy approached, one of them said to her:

''Why have you come to the South Country?''

''To see the Good Witch who rules here,'' she answered. ''Will you take me to her?''

''Let me have your name, and I will ask Glinda if she will receive you.'' They told who they were, and the girl soldier went into the Castle. After a few moments she came back to say that Dorothy and the others were to be admitted at once.

23. Glinda The Good Witch Grants Dorothy's Wish

Before they went to see Glinda, however, they were taken to a room of the Castle, where Dorothy washed her face and combed her hair, and the Lion shook the dust out of his mane, and the Scarecrow patted himself into his best shape, and the Woodman polished his tin and oiled his joints.

When they were all quite presentable they followed the soldier girl into a big room where the Witch Glinda sat upon a throne of rubies.

She was both beautiful and young to their eyes. Her hair was a rich red in color and fell in flowing ringlets over her shoulders. Her dress was pure white but her eyes were blue, and they looked kindly upon the little girl.

''What can I do for you, my child?'' she asked.

Dorothy told the Witch all her story: how the cyclone had brought her to the Land of Oz, how she had found her companions, and of the wonderful adventures they had met with.

''My greatest wish now,'' she added, ''is to get back to Kansas, for Aunt Em will surely think something dreadful has happened to me, and that will make her put on mourning; and unless the crops are better this year than they were last, I am sure Uncle Henry cannot afford it.''

Glinda leaned forward and kissed the sweet, upturned face of the loving little girl.

''Bless your dear heart,'' she said, ''I am sure I can tell you of a way to get back to Kansas.'' Then she added, ''But, if I do, you must give me the Golden Cap.''

''Willingly!'' exclaimed Dorothy; ''indeed, it is of no use to me now, and when you have it you can command the Winged Monkeys three times.''

''And I think I shall need their service just those three times,'' answered Glinda, smiling.

Dorothy then gave her the Golden Cap, and the Witch said to the Scarecrow, ''What will you do when Dorothy has left us?''

''I will return to the Emerald City,'' he replied, ''for Oz has made me its ruler and the people like me. The only thing that worries me is how to cross the hill of the Hammer - Heads.''

''By means of the Golden Cap I shall command the Winged Monkeys to carry you to the gates of the Emerald City,'' said Glinda, ''for it would be a shame to deprive the people of so wonderful a ruler.''

Title: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Author: Frank Baum
Viewed 68808 times


Page generation 0.002 seconds