"It seems to me," began the Scarecrow, when all were again assembled in th_hrone room, "that the girl Jinjur is quite right in claiming to be Queen. An_f she is right, then I am wrong, and we have no business to be occupying he_alace."
"But you were the King until she came," said the Woggle-Bug, strutting up an_own with his hands in his pockets; "so it appears to me that she is th_nterloper instead of you."
"Especially as we have just conquered her and put her to flight," added th_umpkinhead, as he raised his hands to turn his face toward the Scarecrow.
"Have we really conquered her?" asked the Scarecrow, quietly. "Look out of th_indow, and tell me what you see."
Tip ran to the window and looked out.
"The palace is surrounded by a double row of girl soldiers," he announced.
"I thought so," returned the Scarecrow. "We are as truly their prisoners as w_ere before the mice frightened them from the palace."
"My friend is right," said Nick Chopper, who had been polishing his breas_ith a bit of chamois-leather. "Jinjur is still the Queen, and we are he_risoners."
"But I hope she cannot get at us," exclaimed the Pumpkinhead, with a shiver o_ear. "She threatened to make tarts of me, you know."
"Don't worry," said the Tin Woodman. "It cannot matter greatly. If you sta_hut up here you will spoil in time, anyway. A good tart is far more admirabl_han a decayed intellect."
"Very true," agreed the Scarecrow.
"Oh, dear!" moaned Jack; "what an unhappy lot is mine! Why, dear father, di_ou not make me out of tin—or even out of straw—so that I would kee_ndefinitely."
"Shucks!" returned Tip, indignantly. "You ought to be glad that I made you a_ll." Then he added, reflectively, "everything has to come to an end, som_ime."
"But I beg to remind you," broke in the Woggle-Bug, who had a distressed loo_n his bulging, round eyes, "that this terrible Queen Jinjur suggested makin_ goulash of me—Me! the only Highly Magnified and Thoroughly Educated Woggle- Bug in the wide, wide world!"
"I think it was a brilliant idea," remarked the Scarecrow, approvingly.
"Don't you imagine he would make a better soup?" asked the Tin Woodman, turning toward his friend.
"Well, perhaps," acknowledged the Scarecrow.
The Woggle-Bug groaned.
"I can see, in my mind's eye," said he, mournfully, "the goats eating smal_ieces of my dear comrade, the Tin Woodman, while my soup is being cooked on _onfire built of the Saw-Horse and Jack Pumpkinhead's body, and Queen Jinju_atches me boil while she feeds the flames with my friend the Scarecrow!"
This morbid picture cast a gloom over the entire party, making them restles_nd anxious.
"It can't happen for some time," said the Tin Woodman, trying to spea_heerfully; "for we shall be able to keep Jinjur out of the palace until sh_anages to break down the doors."
"And in the meantime I am liable to starve to death, and so is the Woggle- Bug," announced Tip.
"As for me," said the Woggle-Bug, "I think that I could live for some time o_ack Pumpkinhead. Not that I prefer pumpkins for food; but I believe they ar_omewhat nutritious, and Jack's head is large and plump."
"How heartless!" exclaimed the Tin Woodman, greatly shocked. "Are w_annibals, let me ask? Or are we faithful friends?"
"I see very clearly that we cannot stay shut up in this palace," said th_carecrow, with decision. "So let us end this mournful talk and try t_iscover a means to escape."
At this suggestion they all gathered eagerly around the throne, wherein wa_eated the Scarecrow, and as Tip sat down upon a stool there fell from hi_ocket a pepper-box, which rolled upon the floor.
"What is this?" asked Nick Chopper, picking up the box.
"Be careful!" cried the boy. "That's my Powder of Life. Don't spill it, for i_s nearly gone."
"And what is the Powder of Life?" enquired the Scarecrow, as Tip replaced th_ox carefully in his pocket.
"It's some magical stuff old Mombi got from a crooked sorcerer," explained th_oy. "She brought Jack to life with it, and afterward I used it to bring th_aw-Horse to life. I guess it will make anything live that is sprinkled wit_t; but there's only about one dose left."
"Then it is very precious," said the Tin Woodman.
"Indeed it is," agreed the Scarecrow. "It may prove our best means of escap_rom our difficulties. I believe I will think for a few minutes; so I wil_hank you, friend Tip, to get out your knife and rip this heavy crown from m_orehead."
Tip soon cut the stitches that had fastened the crown to the Scarecrow's head, and the former monarch of the Emerald City removed it with a sigh of relie_nd hung it on a peg beside the throne.
"That is my last memento of royalty" said he; "and I'm glad to get rid of it.
The former King of this City, who was named Pastoria, lost the crown to th_onderful Wizard, who passed it on to me. Now the girl Jinjur claims it, and _incerely hope it will not give her a headache."
"A kindly thought, which I greatly admire," said the Tin Woodman, noddin_pprovingly.
"And now I will indulge in a quiet think," continued the Scarecrow, lying bac_n the throne.
The others remained as silent and still as possible, so as not to disturb him; for all had great confidence in the extraordinary brains of the Scarecrow.
And, after what seemed a very long time indeed to the anxious watchers, th_hinker sat up, looked upon his friends with his most whimsical expression, and said:
"My brains work beautifully today. I'm quite proud of them. Now, listen! If w_ttempt to escape through the doors of the palace we shall surely be captured.
And, as we can't escape through the ground, there is only one other thing t_e done. We must escape through the air!"
He paused to note the effect of these words; but all his hearers seeme_uzzled and unconvinced.
"The Wonderful Wizard escaped in a balloon," he continued. "We don't know ho_o make a balloon, of course; but any sort of thing that can fly through th_ir can carry us easily. So I suggest that my friend the Tin Woodman, who is _killful mechanic, shall build some sort of a machine, with good strong wings, to carry us; and our friend Tip can then bring the Thing to life with hi_agical powder."
"Bravo!" cried Nick Chopper.
"What splendid brains!" murmured Jack.
"Really quite clever!" said the Educated Woggle-Bug.
"I believe it can be done," declared Tip; "that is, if the Tin Woodman i_qual to making the Thing."
"I'll do my best," said Nick, cheerily; "and, as a matter of fact, I do no_ften fail in what I attempt. But the Thing will have to be built on the roo_f the palace, so it can rise comfortably into the air."
"To be sure," said the Scarecrow.
"Then let us search through the palace," continued the Tin Woodman, "and carr_ll the material we can find to the roof, where I will begin my work."
"First, however," said the Pumpkinhead, "I beg you will release me from thi_orse, and make me another leg to walk with. For in my present condition I a_f no use to myself or to anyone else."
So the Tin Woodman knocked a mahogany center-table to pieces with his axe an_itted one of the legs, which was beautifully carved, on to the body of Jac_umpkinhead, who was very proud of the acquisition.
"It seems strange," said he, as he watched the Tin Woodman work, "that my lef_eg should be the most elegant and substantial part of me."
"That proves you are unusual," returned the Scarecrow. "and I am convince_hat the only people worthy of consideration in this world are the unusua_nes. For the common folks are like the leaves of a tree, and live and di_nnoticed."
"Spoken like a philosopher!" cried the Woggle-Bug, as he assisted the Ti_oodman to set Jack upon his feet.
"How do you feel now?" asked Tip, watching the Pumpkinhead stump around to tr_is new leg.
"As good as new" answered Jack, joyfully, "and quite ready to assist you al_o escape."
"Then let us get to work," said the Scarecrow, in a business-like tone.
So, glad to be doing anything that might lead to the end of their captivity, the friends separated to wander over the palace in search of fitting materia_o use in the construction of their aerial machine.