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Chapter 9 The Isle of the Magic Flower

  • The Glass Cat was a good guide and led Trot and Cap'n Bill by straight an_asy paths through all the settled part of the Munchkin Country, and then int_he north section where there were few houses, and finally through a wil_ountry where there were no houses or paths at all. But the walking was no_ifficult and at last they came to the edge of a forest and stopped there t_ake camp and sleep until morning.
  • From branches of trees Cap'n Bill made a tiny house that was just big enoug_or the little girl to crawl into and lie down. But first they ate some of th_ood Trot had carried in the basket.
  • "Don't you want some, too?" she asked the Glass Cat.
  • "No," answered the creature.
  • "I suppose you'll hunt around an' catch a mouse," remarked Cap'n Bill.
  • "Me? Catch a mouse! Why should I do that?" inquired the Glass Cat.
  • "Why, then you could eat it," said the sailor-man.
  • "I beg to inform you," returned the crystal tabby, "that I do not eat mice.
  • Being transparent, so anyone can see through me, I'd look nice, wouldn't I, with a common mouse inside me? But the fact is that I haven't any stomach o_ther machinery that would permit me to eat things. The careless magician wh_ade me didn't think I'd need to eat, I suppose."
  • "Don't you ever get hungry or thirsty?" asked Trot.
  • "Never. I don't complain, you know, at the way I'm made, for I've never ye_een any living thing as beautiful as I am. I have the handsomest brains i_he world. They're pink, and you can see 'em work."
  • "I wonder," said Trot thoughtfully, as she ate her bread and jam, "if M_rains whirl around in the same way yours do."
  • "No; not the same way, surely," returned the Glass Cat; "for, in that case, they'd be as good as MY brains, except that they're hidden under a thick, boney skull."
  • "Brains," remarked Cap'n Bill, "is of all kinds and work different ways. Bu_'ve noticed that them as thinks that their brains is best is often mistook."
  • Trot was a little disturbed by sounds from the forest, that night, for man_easts seemed prowling among the trees, but she was confident Cap'n Bill woul_rotect her from harm. And in fact, no beast ventured from the forest t_ttack them.
  • At daybreak they were up again, and after a simple breakfast Cap'n Bill sai_o the Glass Cat:
  • "Up anchor, Mate, and let's forge ahead. I don't suppose we're far from tha_agic Flower, are we?"
  • "Not far," answered the transparent one, as it led the way into the forest,
  • "but it may take you some time to get to it."
  • Before long they reached the bank of a river. It was not very wide, at thi_lace, but as they followed the banks in a northerly direction it graduall_roadened.
  • Suddenly the blue-green leaves of the trees changed to a purple hue, and Tro_oticed this and said:
  • "I wonder what made the colors change like that?"
  • "It's because we have left the Munchkin Country and entered the Gilliki_ountry," explained the Glass Cat. "Also it's a sign our journey is nearl_nded."
  • The river made a sudden turn, and after the travelers had passed around th_end, they saw that the stream had now become as broad as a small lake, and i_he center of the Lake they beheld a little island, not more than fifty fee_n extent, either way. Something glittered in the middle of this tiny island, and the Glass Cat paused on the bank and said:
  • "There is the gold flower-pot containing the Magic Flower, which is ver_urious and beautiful. If you can get to the island, your task is ended—excep_o carry the thing home with you."
  • Cap'n Bill looked at the broad expanse of water and began to whistle a low, quavering tune. Trot knew that the whistle meant that Cap'n Bill was thinking, and the old sailor didn't look at the island as much as he looked at the tree_pon the bank where they stood. Presently he took from the big pocket of hi_oat an axe-blade, wound in an old cloth to keep the sharp edge from cuttin_is clothing. Then, with a large pocket knife, he cut a small limb from a tre_nd whittled it into a handle for his axe.
  • "Sit down, Trot," he advised the girl, as he worked. "I've got quite a jo_head of me now, for I've got to build us a raft."
  • "What do we need a raft for, Cap'n?"
  • "Why, to take us to the island. We can't walk under water, in the river bed, as the Glass Cat did, so we must float atop the water."
  • "Can you make a raft, Cap'n Bill?"
  • "O' course, Trot, if you give me time."
  • The little girl sat down on a log and gazed at the Island of the Magic Flower.
  • Nothing else seemed to grow on the tiny isle. There was no tree, no shrub, n_rass, even, as far as she could make out from that distance. But the gold po_littered in the rays of the sun, and Trot could catch glimpses of glowin_olors above it, as the Magic Flower changed from one sort to another.
  • "When I was here before," remarked the Glass Cat, lazily reclining at th_irl's feet, "I saw two Kalidahs on this very bank, where they had come t_rink."
  • "What are Kalidahs?" asked the girl.
  • "The most powerful and ferocious beasts in all Oz. This forest is thei_special home, and so there are few other beasts to be found except monkeys.
  • The monkeys are spry enough to keep out of the way of the fierce Kalidahs, which attack all other animals and often fight among themselves."
  • "Did they try to fight you when you saw 'em?" asked Trot, getting very muc_xcited.
  • "Yes. They sprang upon me in an instant; but I lay flat on the ground, so _ouldn't get my legs broken by the great weight of the beasts, and when the_ried to bite me I laughed at them and jeered them until they were franti_ith rage, for they nearly broke their teeth on my hard glass. So, after _ime, they discovered they could not hurt me, and went away. It was grea_un."
  • "I hope they don't come here again to drink,—not while we're here, anyhow,"
  • returned the girl, "for I'm not made of glass, nor is Cap'n Bill, and if thos_ad beasts bit us, we'd get hurt."
  • Cap'n Bill was cutting from the trees some long stakes, making them sharp a_ne end and leaving a crotch at the other end. These were to bind the logs o_is raft together. He had fashioned several and was just finishing anothe_hen the Glass Cat cried: "Look out! There's a Kalidah coming toward us."
  • Trot jumped up, greatly frightened, and looked at the terrible animal as i_ascinated by its fierce eyes, for the Kalidah was looking at her, too, an_ts look wasn't at all friendly. But Cap'n Bill called to her: "Wade into th_iver, Trot, up to your knees—an' stay there!" and she obeyed him at once. Th_ailor-man hobbled forward, the stake in one hand and his axe in the other, and got between the girl and the beast, which sprang upon him with a growl o_efiance.
  • Cap'n Bill moved pretty slowly, sometimes, but now he was quick as could be.
  • As the Kalidah sprang toward him he stuck out his wooden leg and the point o_t struck the beast between the eyes and sent it rolling upon the ground.
  • Before it could get upon its feet again the sailor pushed the sharp stak_ight through its body and then with the flat side of the axe he hammered th_take as far into the ground as it would go. By this means he captured th_reat beast and made it harmless, for try as it would, it could not get awa_rom the stake that held it.
  • Cap'n Bill knew he could not kill the Kalidah, for no living thing in Oz ca_e killed, so he stood back and watched the beast wriggle and growl and pa_he earth with its sharp claws, and then, satisfied it could not escape, h_old Trot to come out of the water again and dry her wet shoes and stocking_n the sun.
  • "Are you sure he can't get away?" she asked.
  • "I'd bet a cookie on it," said Cap'n Bill, so Trot came ashore and took of_er shoes and stockings and laid them on the log to dry, while the sailor-ma_esumed his work on the raft.
  • The Kalidah, realizing after many struggles that it could not escape, no_ecame quiet, but it said in a harsh, snarling voice:
  • "I suppose you think you're clever, to pin me to the ground in this manner.
  • But when my friends, the other Kalidahs, come here, they'll tear you to piece_or treating me this way."
  • "P'raps," remarked Cap'n Bill, coolly, as he chopped at the logs, "an' p'rap_ot. When are your folks comin' here?"
  • "I don't know," admitted the Kalidah. "But when they DO come, you can't escap_hem."
  • "If they hold off long enough, I'll have my raft ready," said Cap'n Bill.
  • "What are you going to do with a raft?" inquired the beast.
  • "We're goin' over to that island, to get the Magic Flower."
  • The huge beast looked at him in surprise a moment, and then it began to laugh.
  • The laugh was a good deal like a roar, and it had a cruel and derisive sound, but it was a laugh nevertheless.
  • "Good!" said the Kalidah. "Good! Very good! I'm glad you're going to get th_agic Flower. But what will you do with it?"
  • "We're going to take it to Ozma, as a present on her birthday."
  • The Kalidah laughed again; then it became sober. "If you get to the land o_our raft before my people can catch you," it said, "you will be safe from us.
  • We can swim like ducks, so the girl couldn't have escaped me by getting int_he water; but Kalidahs don't go to that island over there."
  • "Why not?" asked Trot.
  • The beast was silent.
  • "Tell us the reason," urged Cap'n Bill.
  • "Well, it's the Isle of the Magic Flower," answered the Kalidah, "and we don'_are much for magic. If you hadn't had a magic leg, instead of a meat one, yo_ouldn't have knocked me over so easily and stuck this wooden pin through me."
  • "I've been to the Magic Isle," said the Glass Cat, "and I've watched the Magi_lower bloom, and I'm sure it's too pretty to be left in that lonely plac_here only beasts prowl around it and no else sees it. So we're going to tak_t away to the Emerald City."
  • "I don't care," the beast replied in a surly tone. "We Kalidahs would be jus_s contented if there wasn't a flower in our forest. What good are the thing_nyhow?"
  • "Don't you like pretty things?" asked Trot.
  • "No."
  • "You ought to admire my pink brains, anyhow," declared the Glass Cat. "They'r_eautiful and you can see 'em work."
  • The beast only growled in reply, and Cap'n Bill, having now cut all his log_o a proper size, began to roll them to the water's edge and fasten the_ogether.