The Journey to the Tin Woodman
Tip was well soaked and dripping water from every angle of his body. But he managed to lean forward and shout in the ear of the Saw-Horse:
"Keep still, you fool! Keep still!"
The horse at once ceased struggling and floated calmly upon the surface, its wooden body being as buoyant as a raft.
"What does that word 'fool' mean?" enquired the horse.
"It is a term of reproach," answered Tip, somewhat ashamed of the expression. "I only use it when I am angry."
"Then it pleases me to be able to call you a fool, in return," said the horse. "For I did not make the river, nor put it in our way; so only a term of, reproach is fit for one who becomes angry with me for falling into the water."
"That is quite evident," replied Tip; "so I will acknowledge myself in the wrong." Then he called out to the Pumpkinhead: "are you all right, Jack?"
There was no reply. So the boy called to the King "are you all right, your majesty?"
The Scarecrow groaned.
"I'm all wrong, somehow," he said, in a weak voice. "How very wet this water is!"
Tip was bound so tightly by the cord that he could not turn his head to look at his companions; so he said to the Saw-Horse:
"Paddle with your legs toward the shore."
The horse obeyed, and although their progress was slow they finally reached the opposite river bank at a place where it was low enough to enable the creature to scramble upon dry land.
With some difficulty the boy managed to get his knife out of his pocket and cut the cords that bound the riders to one another and to the wooden horse. He heard the Scarecrow fall to the ground with a mushy sound, and then he himself quickly dismounted and looked at his friend Jack.
The wooden body, with its gorgeous clothing, still sat upright upon the horse's back; but the pumpkin head was gone, and only the sharpened stick that served for a neck was visible. As for the Scarecrow, the straw in his body had shaken down with the jolting and packed itself into his legs and the lower part of his body—which appeared very plump and round while his upper half seemed like an empty sack. Upon his head the Scarecrow still wore the heavy crown, which had been sewed on to prevent his losing it; but the head was now so damp and limp that the weight of the gold and jewels sagged forward and crushed the painted face into a mass of wrinkles that made him look exactly like a Japanese pug dog.
Tip would have laughed—had he not been so anxious about his man Jack. But the Scarecrow, however damaged, was all there, while the pumpkin head that was so necessary to Jack's existence was missing; so the boy seized a long pole that fortunately lay near at hand and anxiously turned again toward the river.
Far out upon the waters he sighted the golden hue of the pumpkin, which gently bobbed up and down with the motion of the waves. At that moment it was quite out of Tip's reach, but after a time it floated nearer and still nearer until the boy was able to reach it with his pole and draw it to the shore. Then he brought it to the top of the bank, carefully wiped the water from its pumpkin face with his handkerchief, and ran with it to Jack and replaced the head upon the man's neck.
"Dear me!" were Jack's first words. "What a dreadful experience! I wonder if water is liable to spoil pumpkins?"
Tip did not think a reply was necessary, for he knew that the Scarecrow also stood in need of his help. So he carefully removed the straw from the King's body and legs, and spread it out in the sun to dry. The wet clothing he hung over the body of the Saw-Horse.
"If water spoils pumpkins," observed Jack, with a deep sigh, "then my days are numbered."
"I've never noticed that water spoils pumpkins," returned Tip; "unless the water happens to be boiling. If your head isn't cracked, my friend, you must be in fairly good condition."
"Oh, my head isn't cracked in the least," declared Jack, more cheerfully.
"Then don't worry," retorted the boy. "Care once killed a cat."
"Then," said Jack, seriously, "I am very glad indeed that I am not a cat."
The sun was fast drying their clothing, and Tip stirred up his Majesty's straw so that the warm rays might absorb the moisture and make it as crisp and dry as ever. When this had been accomplished he stuffed the Scarecrow into symmetrical shape and smoothed out his face so that he wore his usual gay and charming expression.
"Thank you very much," said the monarch, brightly, as he walked about and found himself to be well balanced. "There are several distinct advantages in being a Scarecrow. For if one has friends near at hand to repair damages, nothing very serious can happen to you."
"I wonder if hot sunshine is liable to crack pumpkins," said Jack, with an anxious ring in his voice.
"Not at all—not at all!" replied the Scarecrow, gaily. "All you need fear, my boy, is old age. When your golden youth has decayed we shall quickly part company—but you needn't look forward to it; we'll discover the fact ourselves, and notify you. But come! Let us resume our journey. I am anxious to greet my friend the Tin Woodman."
So they remounted the Saw-Horse, Tip holding to the post, the Pumpkinhead clinging to Tip, and the Scarecrow with both arms around the wooden form of Jack.
"Go slowly, for now there is no danger of pursuit," said Tip to his steed.
"All right!" responded the creature, in a voice rather gruff.
"Aren't you a little hoarse?" asked the Pumpkinhead politely.
The Saw-Horse gave an angry prance and rolled one knotty eye backward toward Tip.
"See here," he growled, "can't you protect me from insult?"
"To be sure!" answered Tip, soothingly. "I am sure Jack meant no harm. And it will not do for us to quarrel, you know; we must all remain good friends."
"I'll have nothing more to do with that Pumpkinhead," declared the Saw-Horse, viciously; "he loses his head too easily to suit me."
There seemed no fitting reply to this speech, so for a time they rode along in silence.
After a while the Scarecrow remarked:
"This reminds me of old times. It was upon this grassy knoll that I once saved Dorothy from the Stinging Bees of the Wicked Witch of the West."
"Do Stinging Bees injure pumpkins?" asked Jack, glancing around fearfully.
"They are all dead, so it doesn't matter," replied the Scarecrow. "And here is where Nick Chopper destroyed the Wicked Witch's Grey Wolves."
"Who was Nick Chopper?" asked Tip.
"That is the name of my friend the Tin Woodman, answered his Majesty. And here is where the Winged Monkeys captured and bound us, and flew away with little Dorothy," he continued, after they had traveled a little way farther.
"Do Winged Monkeys ever eat pumpkins?" asked Jack, with a shiver of fear.
"I do not know; but you have little cause to, worry, for the Winged Monkeys are now the slaves of Glinda the Good, who owns the Golden Cap that commands their services," said the Scarecrow, reflectively.
Then the stuffed monarch became lost in thought recalling the days of past adventures. And the Saw-Horse rocked and rolled over the flower-strewn fields and carried its riders swiftly upon their way.
Twilight fell, bye and bye, and then the dark shadows of night. So Tip stopped the horse and they all proceeded to dismount.
"I'm tired out," said the boy, yawning wearily; "and the grass is soft and cool. Let us lie down here and sleep until morning."
"I can't sleep," said Jack.
"I never do," said the Scarecrow.
"I do not even know what sleep is," said the Saw-Horse.
"Still, we must have consideration for this poor boy, who is made of flesh and blood and bone, and gets tired," suggested the Scarecrow, in his usual thoughtful manner. "I remember it was the same way with little Dorothy. We always had to sit through the night while she slept."
"I'm sorry," said Tip, meekly, "but I can't help it. And I'm dreadfully hungry, too!"
"Here is a new danger!" remarked Jack, gloomily. "I hope you are not fond of eating pumpkins."
"Not unless they're stewed and made into pies," answered the boy, laughing. "So have no fears of me, friend Jack."
"What a coward that Pumpkinhead is!" said the Saw-Horse, scornfully.
"You might be a coward yourself, if you knew you were liable to spoil!" retorted Jack, angrily.
"There!—there!" interrupted the Scarecrow; "don't let us quarrel. We all have our weaknesses, dear friends; so we must strive to be considerate of one another. And since this poor boy is hungry and has nothing whatever to eat, let us all remain quiet and allow him to sleep; for it is said that in sleep a mortal may forget even hunger."
"Thank you!" exclaimed Tip, gratefully. "Your Majesty is fully as good as you are wise—and that is saying a good deal!"
He then stretched himself upon the grass and, using the stuffed form of the Scarecrow for a pillow, was presently fast asleep.