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Chapter 2 Ozma and Dorothy

  • Residing in Ozma's palace at this time was a live Scarecrow, a most remarkabl_nd intelligent creature who had once ruled the Land of Oz for a brief perio_nd was much loved and respected by all the people. Once a Munchkin farmer ha_tuffed an old suit of clothes with straw and put stuffed boots on the fee_nd used a pair of stuffed cotton gloves for hands. The head of the Scarecro_as a stuffed sack fastened to the body, with eyes, nose, mouth and ear_ainted on the sack. When a hat had been put on the head, the thing was a goo_mitation of a man. The farmer placed the Scarecrow on a pole in his cornfiel_nd it came to life in a curious manner. Dorothy, who was passing by th_ield, was hailed by the live Scarecrow and lifted him off his pole. He the_ent with her to the Emerald City, where the Wizard of Oz gave him som_xcellent brains, and the Scarecrow soon became an important personage.
  • Ozma considered the Scarecrow one of her best friends and most loyal subjects, so the morning after her visit to Glinda she asked him to take her place a_uler of the Land of Oz while she was absent on a journey, and the Scarecro_t once consented without asking any questions.
  • Ozma had warned Dorothy to keep their journey a secret and say nothing t_nyone about the Skeezers and Flatheads until their return, and Doroth_romised to obey. She longed to tell her girl friends, tiny Trot and Bets_obbin, of the adventure they were undertaking, but refrained from saying _ord on the subject although both these girls lived with her in Ozma's palace.
  • Indeed, only Glinda the Sorceress knew they were going, until after they ha_one, and even the Sorceress didn't know what their errand might be.
  • Princess Ozma took the Sawhorse and the Red Wagon, although she was not sur_here was a wagon road all the way to the Lake of the Skeezers. The Land of O_s a pretty big place, surrounded on all sides by a Deadly Desert which it i_mpossible to cross, and the Skeezer Country, according to the map, was in th_arthest northwestern part of Oz, bordering on the north desert. As th_merald City was exactly in the center of Oz, it was no small journey fro_here to the Skeezers.
  • Around the Emerald City the country is thickly settled in every direction, bu_he farther away you get from the city the fewer people there are, until thos_arts that border on the desert have small populations. Also those farawa_ections are little known to the Oz people, except in the south, where Glind_ives and where Dorothy has often wandered on trips of exploration.
  • The least known of all is the Gillikin Country, which harbors many strang_ands of people among its mountains and valleys and forests and streams, an_zma was now bound for the most distant part of the Gillikin Country.
  • "I am really sorry," said Ozma to Dorothy, as they rode away in the Red Wagon,
  • "not to know more about the wonderful Land I rule. It is my duty to b_cquainted with every tribe of people and every strange and hidden country i_ll Oz, but I am kept so busy at my palace making laws and planning for th_omforts of those who live near the Emerald City, that I do not often fin_ime to make long journeys."
  • "Well," replied Dorothy, "we'll prob'bly find out a lot on this trip, an_e'll learn all about the Skeezers and Flatheads, anyhow. Time doesn't mak_uch diff'rence in the Land of Oz, 'cause we don't grow up, or get old, o_ecome sick and die, as they do other places; so, if we explore one place at _ime, we'll by-an'-by know all about every nook and corner in Oz."
  • Dorothy wore around her waist the Nome King's Magic Belt, which protected he_rom harm, and the Magic Ring which Glinda had given her was on her finger.
  • Ozma had merely slipped a small silver wand into the bosom of her gown, fo_airies do not use chemicals and herbs and the tools of wizards and sorcerer_o perform their magic. The Silver Wand was Ozma's one weapon of offense an_efense and by its use she could accomplish many things.
  • They had left the Emerald City just at sunrise and the Sawhorse traveled ver_wiftly over the roads towards the north, but in a few hours the wooden anima_ad to slacken his pace because the farm houses had become few and far betwee_nd often there were no paths at all in the direction they wished to follow.
  • At such times they crossed the fields, avoiding groups of trees and fordin_he streams and rivulets whenever they came to them. But finally they reache_ broad hillside closely covered with scrubby brush, through which the wago_ould not pass.
  • "It will be difficult even for you and me to get through without tearing ou_resses," said Ozma, "so we must leave the Sawhorse and the Wagon here unti_ur return."
  • "That's all right," Dorothy replied, "I'm tired riding, anyhow. Do you s'pose, Ozma, we're anywhere near the Skeezer Country?"
  • "I cannot tell, Dorothy dear, but I know we've been going in the righ_irection, so we are sure to find it in time."
  • The scrubby brush was almost like a grove of small trees, for it reached a_igh as the heads of the two girls, neither of whom was very tall. They wer_bliged to thread their way in and out, until Dorothy was afraid they woul_et lost, and finally they were halted by a curious thing that barred thei_urther progress. It was a huge web—as if woven by gigantic spiders—and th_elicate, lacy film was fastened stoutly to the branches of the bushes an_ontinued to the right and left in the form of a half circle. The threads o_his web were of a brilliant purple color and woven into numerous artisti_atterns, but it reached from the ground to branches above the heads of th_irls and formed a sort of fence that hedged them in.
  • "It doesn't look very strong, though," said Dorothy. "I wonder if we couldn'_reak through." She tried but found the web stronger than it seemed. All he_fforts could not break a single thread.
  • "We must go back, I think, and try to get around this peculiar web," Ozm_ecided.
  • So they turned to the right and, following the web found that it seemed t_pread in a regular circle. On and on they went until finally Ozma said the_ad returned to the exact spot from which they had started. "Here is _andkerchief you dropped when we were here before," she said to Dorothy.
  • "In that case, they must have built the web behind us, after we walked int_he trap," exclaimed the little girl.
  • "True," agreed Ozma, "an enemy has tried to imprison us."
  • "And they did it, too," said Dorothy. "I wonder who it was."
  • "It's a spider-web, I'm quite sure," returned Ozma, "but it must be the wor_f enormous spiders."
  • "Quite right!" cried a voice behind them. Turning quickly around they beheld _uge purple spider sitting not two yards away and regarding them with it_mall bright eyes.
  • Then there crawled from the bushes a dozen more great purple spiders, whic_aluted the first one and said:
  • "The web is finished, O King, and the strangers are our prisoners."
  • Dorothy did not like the looks of these spiders at all. They had big heads, sharp claws, small eyes and fuzzy hair all over their purple bodies.
  • "They look wicked," she whispered to Ozma. "What shall we do?"
  • Ozma gazed upon the spiders with a serious face.
  • "What is your object in making us prisoners?" she inquired.
  • "We need someone to keep house for us," answered the Spider King. "There i_weeping and dusting to be done, and polishing and washing of dishes, and tha_s work my people dislike to do. So we decided that if any strangers came ou_ay we would capture them and make them our servants."
  • "I am Princess Ozma, Ruler of all Oz," said the girl with dignity.
  • "Well, I am King of all Spiders," was the reply, "and that makes me you_aster. Come with me to my palace and I will instruct you in your work."
  • "I won't," said Dorothy indignantly. "We won't have anything to do with you."
  • "We'll see about that," returned the Spider in a severe tone, and the nex_nstant he made a dive straight at Dorothy, opening the claws in his legs a_f to grab and pinch her with the sharp points. But the girl was wearing he_agic Belt and was not harmed. The Spider King could not even touch her. H_urned swiftly and made a dash at Ozma, but she held her Magic Wand over hi_ead and the monster recoiled as if it had been struck.
  • "You'd better let us go," Dorothy advised him, "for you see you can't hur_s."
  • "So I see," returned the Spider King angrily. "Your magic is greater tha_ine. But I'll not help you to escape. If you can break the magic web m_eople have woven you may go; if not you must stay here and starve." With tha_he Spider King uttered a peculiar whistle and all the spiders disappeared.
  • "There is more magic in my fairyland than I dreamed of," remarked th_eautiful Ozma, with a sigh of regret. "It seems that my laws have not bee_beyed, for even these monstrous spiders defy me by means of Magic."
  • "Never mind that now," said Dorothy; "let's see what we can do to get out o_his trap."
  • They now examined the web with great care and were amazed at its strength.
  • Although finer than the finest silken hairs, it resisted all their efforts t_ork through, even though both girls threw all their weight against it.
  • "We must find some instrument which will cut the threads of the web," sai_zma, finally. "Let us look about for such a tool."
  • So they wandered among the bushes and finally came to a shallow pool of water, formed by a small bubbling spring. Dorothy stooped to get a drink an_iscovered in the water a green crab, about as big as her hand. The crab ha_wo big, sharp claws, and as soon as Dorothy saw them she had an idea tha_hose claws could save them.
  • "Come out of the water," she called to the crab; "I want to talk to you."
  • Rather lazily the crab rose to the surface and caught hold of a bit of rock.
  • With his head above the water he said in a cross voice:
  • "What do you want?"
  • "We want you to cut the web of the purple spiders with your claws, so we ca_et through it," answered Dorothy. "You can do that, can't you?"
  • "I suppose so," replied the crab. "But if I do what will you give me?"
  • "What do you wish?" Ozma inquired.
  • "I wish to be white, instead of green," said the crab. "Green crabs are ver_ommon, and white ones are rare; besides the purple spiders, which infest thi_illside, are afraid of white crabs. Could you make me white if I should agre_o cut the web for you?"
  • "Yes," said Ozma, "I can do that easily. And, so you may know I am speakin_he truth, I will change your color now."
  • She waved her silver wand over the pool and the crab instantly became snow- white—all except his eyes, which remained black. The creature saw hi_eflection in the water and was so delighted that he at once climbed out o_he pool and began moving slowly toward the web, by backing away from th_ool. He moved so very slowly that Dorothy cried out impatiently: "Dear me, this will never do!" Caching the crab in her hands she ran with him to th_eb.
  • She had to hold him up even then, so he could reach with his claws stran_fter strand of the filmy purple web, which he was able to sever with one nip.
  • When enough of the web had been cut to allow them to pass, Dorothy ran back t_he pool and placed the white crab in the water, after which she rejoine_zma. They were just in time to escape through the web, for several of th_urple spiders now appeared, having discovered that their web had been cut, and had the girls not rushed through the opening the spiders would hav_uickly repaired the cuts and again imprisoned them.
  • Ozma and Dorothy ran as fast as they could and although the angry spider_hrew a number of strands of web after them, hoping to lasso them or entangl_hem in the coils, they managed to escape and clamber to the top of the hill.