Chapter 6 Jack Pumpkinhead's Ride to the Emerald City
At daybreak Tip was awakened by the Pumpkinhead. He rubbed the sleep from hi_yes, bathed in a little brook, and then ate a portion of his bread an_heese. Having thus prepared for a new day the boy said:
"Let us start at once. Nine miles is quite a distance, but we ought to reac_he Emerald City by noon if no accidents happen." So the Pumpkinhead was agai_erched upon the back of the Saw-Horse and the journey was resumed.
Tip noticed that the purple tint of the grass and trees had now faded to _ull lavender, and before long this lavender appeared to take on a greenis_inge that gradually brightened as they drew nearer to the great City wher_he Scarecrow ruled.
The little party had traveled but a short two miles upon their way when th_oad of yellow brick was parted by a broad and swift river. Tip was puzzle_ow to cross over; but after a time he discovered a man in a ferry-boa_pproaching from the other side of the stream.
When the man reached the bank Tip asked:
"Will you row us to the other side?"
"Yes, if you have money," returned the ferryman, whose face looked cross an_isagreeable.
"But I have no money," said Tip.
"None at all?" inquired the man.
"None at all," answered the boy.
"Then I'll not break my back rowing you over," said the ferryman, decidedly.
"What a nice man!" remarked the Pumpkinhead, smilingly.
The ferryman stared at him, but made no reply. Tip was trying to think, for i_as a great disappointment to him to find his journey so suddenly brought t_n end.
"I must certainly get to the Emerald City," he said to the boatman; "but ho_an I cross the river if you do not take me?"
The man laughed, and it was not a nice laugh.
"That wooden horse will float," said he; "and you can ride him across. As fo_he pumpkinheaded loon who accompanies you, let him sink or swim it won'_atter greatly which."
"Don't worry about me," said Jack, smiling pleasantly upon the crabbe_erryman; "I'm sure I ought to float beautifully."
Tip thought the experiment was worth making, and the Saw-Horse, who did no_now what danger meant, offered no objections whatever. So the boy led it dow_nto the water and climbed upon its back. Jack also waded in up to his knee_nd grasped the tail of the horse so that he might keep his pumpkin head abov_he water.
"Now," said Tip, instructing the Saw-Horse, "if you wiggle your legs you wil_robably swim; and if you swim we shall probably reach the other side."
The Saw-Horse at once began to wiggle its legs, which acted as oars and move_he adventurers slowly across the river to the opposite side. So successfu_as the trip that presently they were climbing, wet and dripping, up th_rassy bank.
Tip's trouser-legs and shoes were thoroughly soaked; but the Saw-Horse ha_loated so perfectly that from his knees up the boy was entirely dry. As fo_he Pumpkinhead, every stitch of his gorgeous clothing dripped water.
"The sun will soon dry us," said Tip "and, anyhow, we are now safely across, in spite of the ferryman, and can continue our journey."
"I didn't mind swimming, at all," remarked the horse.
"Nor did I," added Jack.
They soon regained the road of yellow brick, which proved to be a continuatio_f the road they had left on the other side, and then Tip once more mounte_he Pumpkinhead upon the back of the Saw-Horse.
"If you ride fast," said he, "the wind will help to dry your clothing. I wil_old on to the horse's tail and run after you. In this way we all will becom_ry in a very short time."
"Then the horse must step lively," said Jack.
"I'll do my best," returned the Saw-Horse, cheerfully.
Tip grasped the end of the branch that served as tail to the Saw-Horse, an_alled loudly: "Get-up!"
The horse started at a good pace, and Tip followed behind. Then he decide_hey could go faster, so he shouted: "Trot!"
Now, the Saw-Horse remembered that this word was the command to go as fast a_e could; so he began rocking along the road at a tremendous pace, and Tip ha_ard work—running faster than he ever had before in his life—to keep his feet.
Soon he was out of breath, and although he wanted to call "Whoa!" to th_orse, he found he could not get the word out of his throat. Then the end o_he tail he was clutching, being nothing more than a dead branch, suddenl_roke away, and the next minute the boy was rolling in the dust of the road, while the horse and its pumpkin-headed rider dashed on and quickly disappeare_n the distance.
By the time Tip had picked himself up and cleared the dust from his throat s_e could say "Whoa!" there was no further need of saying it, for the horse wa_ong since out of sight.
So he did the only sensible thing he could do. He sat down and took a goo_est, and afterward began walking along the road.
"Some time I will surely overtake them," he reflected; "for the road will en_t the gates of the Emerald City, and they can go no further than that."
Meantime Jack was holding fast to the post and the Saw-Horse was tearing alon_he road like a racer. Neither of them knew Tip was left behind, for th_umpkinhead did not look around and the Saw-Horse couldn't.
As he rode, Jack noticed that the grass and trees had become a bright emerald- green in color, so he guessed they were nearing the Emerald City even befor_he tall spires and domes came into sight.
At length a high wall of green stone, studded thick with emeralds, loomed u_efore them; and fearing the Saw-Horse would not know enough to stop and s_ight smash them both against this wall, Jack ventured to cry "Whoa!" as lou_s he could.
So suddenly did the horse obey that had it not been for his post Jack woul_ave been pitched off head foremost, and his beautiful face ruined.
"That was a fast ride, dear father!" he exclaimed; and then, hearing no reply, he turned around and discovered for the first time that Tip was not there.
This apparent desertion puzzled the Pumpkinhead, and made him uneasy. An_hile he was wondering what had become of the boy, and what he ought to d_ext under such trying circumstances, the gateway in the green wall opened an_ man came out.
This man was short and round, with a fat face that seemed remarkably good- natured. He was clothed all in green and wore a high, peaked green hat upo_is head and green spectacles over his eyes. Bowing before the Pumpkinhead h_aid:
"I am the Guardian of the Gates of the Emerald City. May I inquire who yo_re, and what is your business?"
"My name is Jack Pumpkinhead," returned the other, smilingly; "but as to m_usiness, I haven't the least idea in the world what it is."
The Guardian of the Gates looked surprised, and shook his head as i_issatisfied with the reply.
"What are you, a man or a pumpkin?" he asked, politely.
"Both, if you please," answered Jack.
"And this wooden horse—is it alive?" questioned the Guardian.
The horse rolled one knotty eye upward and winked at Jack. Then it gave _rance and brought one leg down on the Guardian's toes.
"Ouch!" cried the man; "I'm sorry I asked that question. But the answer i_ost convincing. Have you any errand, sir, in the Emerald City?"
"It seems to me that I have," replied the Pumpkinhead, seriously; "but _annot think what it is. My father knows all about it, but he is not here."
"This is a strange affair very strange!" declared the Guardian. "But you see_armless. Folks do not smile so delightfully when they mean mischief."
"As for that," said Jack, "I cannot help my smile, for it is carved on my fac_ith a jack-knife."
"Well, come with me into my room," resumed the Guardian, "and I will see wha_an be done for you."
So Jack rode the Saw-Horse through the gateway into a little room built int_he wall. The Guardian pulled a bell-cord, and presently a very tal_oldier—clothed in a green uniform—entered from the opposite door. Thi_oldier carried a long green gun over his shoulder and had lovely gree_hiskers that fell quite to his knees. The Guardian at once addressed him, saying:
"Here is a strange gentleman who doesn't know why he has come to the Emeral_ity, or what he wants. Tell me, what shall we do with him?"
The Soldier with the Green Whiskers looked at Jack with much care an_uriosity. Finally he shook his head so positively that little waves ripple_own his whiskers, and then he said:
"I must take him to His Majesty, the Scarecrow."
"But what will His Majesty, the Scarecrow, do with him?" asked the Guardian o_he Gates.
"That is His Majesty's business," returned the soldier. "I have trouble_nough of my own. All outside troubles must be turned over to His Majesty. S_ut the spectacles on this fellow, and I'll take him to the royal palace."
So the Guardian opened a big box of spectacles and tried to fit a pair t_ack's great round eyes.
"I haven't a pair in stock that will really cover those eyes up," said th_ittle man, with a sigh; "and your head is so big that I shall be obliged t_ie the spectacles on."
"But why need I wear spectacles?" asked Jack.
"It's the fashion here," said the Soldier, "and they will keep you from bein_linded by the glitter and glare of the gorgeous Emerald City."
"Oh!" exclaimed Jack. "Tie them on, by all means. I don't wish to be blinded."
"Nor I!" broke in the Saw-Horse; so a pair of green spectacles was quickl_astened over the bulging knots that served it for eyes.
Then the Soldier with the Green Whiskers led them through the inner gate an_hey at once found themselves in the main street of the magnificent Emeral_ity.
Sparkling green gems ornamented the fronts of the beautiful houses and th_owers and turrets were all faced with emeralds. Even the green marbl_avement glittered with precious stones, and it was indeed a grand an_arvelous sight to one who beheld it for the first time.
However, the Pumpkinhead and the Saw-Horse, knowing nothing of wealth an_eauty, paid little attention to the wonderful sights they saw through thei_reen spectacles. They calmly followed after the green soldier and scarcel_oticed the crowds of green people who stared at them in surprise. When _reen dog ran out and barked at them the Saw-Horse promptly kicked at it wit_ts wooden leg and sent the little animal howling into one of the houses; bu_othing more serious than this happened to interrupt their progress to th_oyal palace.
The Pumpkinhead wanted to ride up the green marble steps and straight into th_carecrow's presence; but the soldier would not permit that. So Jac_ismounted, with much difficulty, and a servant led the Saw-Horse around t_he rear while the Soldier with the Green Whiskers escorted the Pumpkinhea_nto the palace, by the front entrance.
The stranger was left in a handsomely furnished waiting room while the soldie_ent to announce him. It so happened that at this hour His Majesty was a_eisure and greatly bored for want of something to do, so he ordered hi_isitor to be shown at once into his throne room.
Jack felt no fear or embarrassment at meeting the ruler of this magnificen_ity, for he was entirely ignorant of all worldly customs. But when he entere_he room and saw for the first time His Majesty the Scarecrow seated upon hi_littering throne, he stopped short in amazement.