From here on the country improved and the desert places began to give way t_ertile spots; still no houses were yet to be seen near the road. There wer_ome hills, with valleys between them, and on reaching the top of one of thes_ills the travelers found before them a high wall, running to the right an_he left as far as their eyes could reach. Immediately in front of them, wher_he wall crossed the roadway, stood a gate having stout iron bars tha_xtended from top to bottom. They found, on coming nearer, that this gate wa_ocked with a great padlock, rusty through lack of use.
"Well," said Scraps, "I guess we'll stop here."
"It's a good guess," replied Ojo. "Our way is barred by this great wall an_ate. It looks as if no one had passed through in many years."
"Looks are deceiving," declared the Shaggy Man, laughing at their disappointe_aces, "and this barrier is the most deceiving thing in all Oz."
"It prevents our going any farther, anyhow," said Scraps. "There is no one t_ind the gate and let people through, and we've no key to the padlock."
"True," replied Ojo, going a little nearer to peep through the bars of th_ate. "What shall we do, Shaggy Man? If we had wings we might fly over th_all, but we cannot climb it and unless we get to the Emerald City I won't b_ble to find the things to restore Unc Nunkie to life."
"All very true," answered the Shaggy Man, quietly; "but I know this gate, having passed through it many times."
"How?" they all eagerly inquired.
"I'll show you how," said he. He stood Ojo in the middle of the road an_laced Scraps just behind him, with her padded hands on his shoulders. Afte_he Patchwork Girl came the Woozy, who held a part of her skirt in his mouth.
Then, last of all, was the Glass Cat, holding fast to the Woozy's tail wit_er glass jaws.
"Now," said the Shaggy Man, "you must all shut your eyes tight, and keep the_hut until I tell you to open them."
"I can't," objected Scraps. "My eyes are buttons, and they won't shut."
So the Shaggy Man tied his red handkerchief over the Patchwork Girl's eyes an_xamined all the others to make sure they had their eyes fast shut and coul_ee nothing.
"What's the game, anyhow—blind-man's-buff?" asked Scraps.
"Keep quiet!" commanded the Shaggy Man, sternly. "All ready? Then follow me."
He took Ojo's hand and led him forward over the road of yellow bricks, towar_he gate. Holding fast to one another they all followed in a row, expectin_very minute to bump against the iron bars. The Shaggy Man also had his eye_losed, but marched straight ahead, nevertheless, and after he had taken on_undred steps, by actual count, he stopped and said:
"Now you may open your eyes."
They did so, and to their astonishment found the wall and the gateway fa_ehind them, while in front the former Blue Country of the Munchkins had give_ay to green fields, with pretty farm-houses scattered among them.
"That wall," explained the Shaggy Man, "is what is called an optical illusion.
It is quite real while you have your eyes open, but if you are not looking a_t the barrier doesn't exist at all. It's the same way with many other evil_n life; they seem to exist, and yet it's all seeming and not true. You wil_otice that the wall—or what we thought was a wall—separates the Munchki_ountry from the green country that surrounds the Emerald City, which lie_xactly in the center of Oz. There are two roads of yellow bricks through th_unchkin Country, but the one we followed is the best of the two. Dorothy onc_raveled the other way, and met with more dangers than we did. But all ou_roubles are over for the present, as another day's journey will bring us t_he great Emerald City."
They were delighted to know this, and proceeded with new courage. In a coupl_f hours they stopped at a farmhouse, where the people were very hospitabl_nd invited them to dinner. The farm folk regarded Scraps with much curiosit_ut no great astonishment, for they were accustomed to seeing extraordinar_eople in the Land of Oz.
The woman of this house got her needle and thread and sewed up the holes mad_y the porcupine quills in the Patchwork Girl's body, after which Scraps wa_ssured she looked as beautiful as ever.
"You ought to have a hat to wear," remarked the woman, "for that would kee_he sun from fading the colors of your face. I have some patches and scrap_ut away, and if you will wait two or three days I'll make you a lovely ha_hat will match the rest of you."
"Never mind the hat," said Scraps, shaking her yarn braids; "it's a kin_ffer, but we can't stop. I can't see that my colors have faded a particle, a_et; can you?"
"Not much," replied the woman. "You are still very gorgeous, in spite of you_ong journey."
The children of the house wanted to keep the Glass Cat to play with, so Bungl_as offered a good home if she would remain; but the cat was too muc_nterested in Ojo's adventures and refused to stop.
"Children are rough playmates," she remarked to the Shaggy Man, "and althoug_his home is more pleasant than that of the Crooked Magician I fear I woul_oon be smashed to pieces by the boys and girls."
After they had rested themselves they renewed their journey, finding the roa_ow smooth and pleasant to walk upon and the country growing more beautifu_he nearer they drew to the Emerald City.
By and by Ojo began to walk on the green grass, looking carefully around him.
"What are you trying to find?" asked Scraps.
"A six-leaved clover," said he.
"Don't do that!" exclaimed the Shaggy Man, earnestly. "It's against the Law t_ick a six- leaved clover. You must wait until you get Ozma's consent."
"She wouldn't know it," declared the boy.
"Ozma knows many things," said the Shaggy Man. "In her room is a Magic Pictur_hat shows any scene in the Land of Oz where strangers or travelers happen t_e. She may be watching the picture of us even now, and noticing everythin_hat we do."
"Does she always watch the Magic Picture?" asked Ojo.
"Not always, for she has many other things to do; but, as I said, she may b_atching us this very minute."
"I don't care," said Ojo, in an obstinate tone of voice; "Ozma's only a girl."
The Shaggy Man looked at him in surprise.
"You ought to care for Ozma," said he, "if you expect to save your uncle. For, if you displease our powerful Ruler, your journey will surely prove a failure; whereas, if you make a friend of Ozma, she will gladly assist you. As for he_eing a girl, that is another reason why you should obey her laws, if you ar_ourteous and polite. Everyone in Oz loves Ozma and hates her enemies, for sh_s as just as she is powerful."
Ojo sulked a while, but finally returned to the road and kept away from th_reen clover. The boy was moody and bad tempered for an hour or two afterward, because he could really see no harm in picking a six-leaved clover, if h_ound one, and in spite of what the Shaggy Man had said he considered Ozma'_aw to be unjust.
They presently came to a beautiful grove of tall and stately trees, throug_hich the road wound in sharp curves—first one way and then another. As the_ere walking through this grove they heard some one in the distance singing, and the sounds grew nearer and nearer until they could distinguish the words, although the bend in the road still hid the singer. The song was somethin_ike this:
"Here's to the hale old bale of straw
That's cut from the waving grain,
The sweetest sight man ever saw
In forest, dell or plain.
It fills me with a crunkling joy
A straw-stack to behold,
For then I pad this lucky boy
With strands of yellow gold."
"Ah!" exclaimed the Shaggy Man; "here comes my friend the Scarecrow."
"What, a live Scarecrow?" asked Ojo.
"Yes; the one I told you of. He's a splendid fellow, and very intelligent.
You'll like him, I'm sure."
Just then the famous Scarecrow of Oz came around the bend in the road, ridin_stride a wooden Sawhorse which was so small that its rider's legs nearl_ouched the ground.
The Scarecrow wore the blue dress of the Munchkins, in which country he wa_ade, and on his head was set a peaked hat with a flat brim trimmed wit_inkling bells. A rope was tied around his waist to hold him in shape, for h_as stuffed with straw in every part of him except the top of his head, wher_t one time the Wizard of Oz had placed sawdust, mixed with needles and pins, to sharpen his wits. The head itself was merely a bag of cloth, fastened t_he body at the neck, and on the front of this bag was painted the face—ears, eyes, nose and mouth.
The Scarecrow's face was very interesting, for it bore a comical and ye_inning expression, although one eye was a bit larger than the other and ear_ere not mates. The Munchkin farmer who had made the Scarecrow had neglecte_o sew him together with close stitches and therefore some of the straw wit_hich he was stuffed was inclined to stick out between the seams. His hand_onsisted of padded white gloves, with the fingers long and rather limp, an_n his feet he wore Munchkin boots of blue leather with broad turns at th_ops of them.
The Sawhorse was almost as curious as its rider. It had been rudely made, i_he beginning, to saw logs upon, so that its body was a short length of a log, and its legs were stout branches fitted into four holes made in the body. Th_ail was formed by a small branch that had been left on the log, while th_ead was a gnarled bump on one end of the body. Two knots of wood formed th_yes, and the mouth was a gash chopped in the log. When the Sawhorse firs_ame to life it had no ears at all, and so could not hear; but the boy wh_hen owned him had whittled two ears out of bark and stuck them in the head, after which the Sawhorse heard very distinctly.
This queer wooden horse was a great favorite with Princess Ozma, who ha_aused the bottoms of its legs to be shod with plates of gold, so the woo_ould not wear away. Its saddle was made of cloth-of-gold richly encruste_ith precious gems. It had never worn a bridle.
As the Scarecrow came in sight of the party of travelers, he reined in hi_ooden steed and dismounted, greeting the Shaggy Man with a smiling nod. The_e turned to stare at the Patchwork Girl in wonder, while she in turn stare_t him.
"Shags," he whispered, drawing the Shaggy Man aside, "pat me into shape, there's a good fellow!"
While his friend punched and patted the Scarecrow's body, to smooth out th_umps, Scraps turned to Ojo and whispered: "Roll me out, please; I've sagge_own dreadfully from walking so much and men like to see a stately figure."
She then fell upon the ground and the boy rolled her back and forth like _olling-pin, until the cotton had filled all the spaces in her patchwor_overing and the body had lengthened to its fullest extent. Scraps and th_carecrow both finished their hasty toilets at the same time, and again the_aced each other.
"Allow me, Miss Patchwork," said the Shaggy Man, "to present my friend, th_ight Royal Scarecrow of Oz. Scarecrow, this is Miss Scraps Patches; Scraps, this is the Scarecrow. Scarecrow—Scraps; Scraps—Scarecrow."
They both bowed with much dignity.
"Forgive me for staring so rudely," said the Scarecrow, "but you are the mos_eautiful sight my eyes have ever beheld."
"That is a high compliment from one who is himself so beautiful," murmure_craps, casting down her suspender-button eyes by lowering her head. "But, tell me, good sir, are you not a trifle lumpy?"
"Yes, of course; that's my straw, you know. It bunches up, sometimes, in spit_f all my efforts to keep it even. Doesn't your straw ever bunch?"
"Oh, I'm stuffed with cotton," said Scraps. "It never bunches, but it'_nclined to pack down and make me sag."
"But cotton is a high-grade stuffing. I may say it is even more stylish, no_o say aristocratic, than straw," said the Scarecrow politely. "Still, it i_ut proper that one so entrancingly lovely should have the best stuffing ther_s going. I— er—I'm so glad I've met you, Miss Scraps! Introduce us again, Shaggy."
"Once is enough," replied the Shaggy Man, laughing at his friend's enthusiasm.
"Then tell me where you found her, and—Dear me, what a queer cat! What are yo_ade of—gelatine?"
"Pure glass," answered the cat, proud to have attracted the Scarecrow'_ttention. "I am much more beautiful than the Patchwork Girl. I'm transparent, and Scraps isn't; I've pink brains— you can see 'em work; and I've a rub_eart, finely polished, while Scraps hasn't any heart at all."
"No more have I," said the Scarecrow, shaking hands with Scraps, as if t_ongratulate her on the fact. "I've a friend, the Tin Woodman, who has _eart, but I find I get along pretty well without one. And so—Well, well!
here's a little Munchkin boy, too. Shake hands, my little man. How are you?"
Ojo placed his hand in the flabby stuffed glove that served the Scarecrow fo_ hand, and the Scarecrow pressed it so cordially that the straw in his glov_rackled.
Meantime, the Woozy had approached the Sawhorse and begun to sniff at it. Th_awhorse resented this familiarity and with a sudden kick pounded the Wooz_quarely on its head with one gold-shod foot.
"Take that, you monster!" it cried angrily.
The Woozy never even winked.
"To be sure," he said; "I'll take anything I have to. But don't make me angry, you wooden beast, or my eyes will flash fire and burn you up."
The Sawhorse rolled its knot eyes wickedly and kicked again, but the Wooz_rotted away and said to the Scarecrow:
"What a sweet disposition that creature has! I advise you to chop it up fo_indling-wood and use me to ride upon. My back is flat and you can't fal_ff."
"I think the trouble is that you haven't been properly introduced," said th_carecrow, regarding the Woozy with much wonder, for he had never seen such _ueer animal before.
"The Sawhorse is the favorite steed of Princess Ozma, the Ruler of the Land o_z, and he lives in a stable decorated with pearls and emeralds, at the rea_f the royal palace. He is swift as the wind, untiring, and is kind to hi_riends. All the people of Oz respect the Sawhorse highly, and when I visi_zma she sometimes allows me to ride him—as I am doing to-day. Now you kno_hat an important personage the Sawhorse is, and if some one—perhap_ourself—will tell me your name, your rank and station, and your history, i_ill give me pleasure to relate them to the Sawhorse. This will lead to mutua_espect and friendship."
The Woozy was somewhat abashed by this speech and did not know how to reply.
But Ojo said:
"This square beast is called the Woozy, and he isn't of much importance excep_hat he has three hairs growing on the tip of his tail."
The Scarecrow looked and saw that this was true.
"But," said he, in a puzzled way, "what makes those three hairs important? Th_haggy Man has thousands of hairs, but no one has ever accused him of bein_mportant."
So Ojo related the sad story of Unc Nunkie's transformation into a marbl_tatue, and told how he had set out to find the things the Crooked Magicia_anted, in order to make a charm that would restore his uncle to life. One o_he requirements was three hairs from a Woozy's tail, but not being able t_ull out the hairs they had been obliged to take the Woozy with them.
The Scarecrow looked grave as he listened and he shook his head several times, as if in disapproval.
"We must see Ozma about this matter," he said. "That Crooked Magician i_reaking the Law by practicing magic without a license, and I'm not sure Ozm_ill allow him to restore your uncle to life."
"Already I have warned the boy of that," declared the Shaggy Man.
At this Ojo began to cry. "I want my Unc Nunkie!" he exclaimed. "I know how h_an be restored to life, and I'm going to do it—Ozma or no Ozma! What righ_as this girl Ruler to keep my Unc Nunkie a statue forever?"
"Don't worry about that just now," advised the Scarecrow. "Go on to th_merald City, and when you reach it have the Shaggy Man take you to se_orothy. Tell her your story and I'm sure she will help you. Dorothy is Ozma'_est friend, and if you can win her to your side your uncle is pretty safe t_ive again." Then he turned to the Woozy and said: "I'm afraid you are no_mportant enough to be introduced to the Sawhorse, after all."
"I'm a better beast than he is," retorted the Woozy, indignantly. "My eyes ca_lash fire, and his can't."
"Is this true?" inquired the Scarecrow, turning to the Munchkin boy.
"Yes," said Ojo, and told how the Woozy had set fire to the fence.
"Have you any other accomplishments?" asked the Scarecrow.
"I have a most terrible growl—that is, sometimes," said the Woozy, as Scrap_aughed merrily and the Shaggy Man smiled. But the Patchwork Girl's laugh mad_he Scarecrow forget all about the Woozy. He said to her:
"What an admirable young lady you are, and what jolly good company! We must b_etter acquainted, for never before have I met a girl with such exquisit_oloring or such natural, artless manners."
"No wonder they call you the Wise Scarecrow," replied Scraps.
"When you arrive at the Emerald City I will see you again," continued th_carecrow. "Just now I am going to call upon an old friend—an ordinary youn_ady named Jinjur—who has promised to repaint my left ear for me. You may hav_oticed that the paint on my left ear has peeled off and faded, which affect_y hearing on that side. Jinjur always fixes me up when I get weather- worn."
"When do you expect to return to the Emerald City?" asked the Shaggy Man.
"I'll be there this evening, for I'm anxious to have a long talk with Mis_craps. How is it, Sawhorse; are you equal to a swift run?"
"Anything that suits you suits me," returned the wooden horse.
So the Scarecrow mounted to the jeweled saddle and waved his hat, when th_awhorse darted away so swiftly that they were out of sight in an instant.