It was not long before they left the passage and came to a great cave, so hig_hat it must have reached nearly to the top of the mountain within which i_ay. It was a magnificent cave, illumined by the soft, invisible light, s_hat everything in it could be plainly seen. The walls were of polishe_arble, white with veins of delicate colors running through it, and the roo_as arched and fantastic and beautiful.
Built beneath this vast dome was a pretty village—not very large, for ther_eemed not more than fifty houses altogether—and the dwellings were of marbl_nd artistically designed. No grass nor flowers nor trees grew in this cave, so the yards surrounding the houses carved in designs both were smooth an_are and had low walls around them to mark their boundaries.
In the streets and the yards of the houses were many people all having one le_rowing below their bodies and all hopping here and there whenever they moved.
Even the children stood firmly upon their single legs and never lost thei_alance.
"All hail, Champion!" cried a man in the first group of Hoppers they met;
"whom have you captured?"
"No one," replied the Champion in a gloomy voice; "these strangers hav_aptured me."
"Then," said another, "we will rescue you, and capture them, for we ar_reater in number."
"No," answered the Champion, "I can't allow it. I've surrendered, and it isn'_olite to capture those you've surrendered to."
"Never mind that," said Dorothy. "We will give you your liberty and set yo_ree."
"Really?" asked the Champion in joyous tones.
"Yes," said the little girl; "your people may need you to help conquer th_orners."
At this all the Hoppers looked downcast and sad. Several more had joined th_roup by this time and quite a crowd of curious men, women and childre_urrounded the strangers.
"This war with our neighbors is a terrible thing," remarked one of the women.
"Some one is almost sure to get hurt."
"Why do you say that, madam?" inquired the Scarecrow.
"Because the horns of our enemies are sharp, and in battle they will try t_tick those horns into our warriors," she replied.
"How many horns do the Horners have?" asked Dorothy.
"Each has one horn in the center of his forehead," was the answer.
"Oh, then they're unicorns," declared the Scarecrow.
"No; they're Horners. We never go to war with them if we can help it, o_ccount of their dangerous horns; but this insult was so great and s_nprovoked that our brave men decided to fight, in order to be revenged," sai_he woman.
"What weapons do you fight with?" the Scarecrow asked.
"We have no weapons," explained the Champion. "Whenever we fight the Horners, our plan is to push them back, for our arms are longer than theirs."
"Then you are better armed," said Scraps.
"Yes; but they have those terrible horns, and unless we are careful they pric_s with the points," returned the Champion with a shudder. "That makes a wa_ith them dangerous, and a dangerous war cannot be a pleasant one."
"I see very clearly," remarked the Scarecrow, "that you are going to hav_rouble in conquering those Horners—unless we help you."
"Oh!" cried the Hoppers in a chorus; "can you help us? Please do! We will b_reatly obliged! It would please us very much!" and by these exclamations th_carecrow knew that his speech had met with favor.
"How far is it to the Horner Country?" he asked.
"Why, it's just the other side of the fence," they answered, and the Champio_dded:
"Come with me, please, and I'll show you the Horners."
So they followed the Champion and several others through the streets and jus_eyond the village came to a very high picket fence, built all of marble, which seemed to divide the great cave into two equal parts.
But the part inhabited by the Horners was in no way as grand in appearance a_hat of the Hoppers. Instead of being marble, the walls and roof were of dul_ray rock and the square houses were plainly made of the same material. But i_xtent the city was much larger than that of the Hoppers and the streets wer_hronged with numerous people who busied themselves in various ways.
Looking through the open pickets of the fence our friends watched the Horners, who did not know they were being watched by strangers, and found them ver_nusual in appearance. They were little folks in size and had bodies round a_alls and short legs and arms. Their heads were round, too, and they had long, pointed ears and a horn set in the center of the forehead. The horns did no_eem very terrible, for they were not more than six inches long; but they wer_vory white and sharp pointed, and no wonder the Hoppers feared them.
The skins of the Horners were light brown, but they wore snow-white robes an_ere bare-footed. Dorothy thought the most striking thing about them was thei_air, which grew in three distinct colors on each and every head—red, yello_nd green. The red was at the bottom and sometimes hung over their eyes; the_ame a broad circle of yellow and the green was at the top and formed a brush- shaped top-knot.
None of the Horners was yet aware of the presence of strangers, who watche_he little brown people for a time and then went to the big gate in the cente_f the dividing fence. It was locked on both sides and over the latch was _ign reading:
"WAR IS DECLARED"
"Can't we go through?" asked Dorothy.
"Not now," answered the Champion.
"I think," said the Scarecrow, "that if I could talk with those Horners the_ould apologize to you, and then there would be no need to fight."
"Can't you talk from this side?" asked the Champion.
"Not so well," replied the Scarecrow. "Do you suppose you could throw me ove_hat fence? It is high, but I am very light."
"We can try it," said the Hopper. "I am perhaps the strongest man in m_ountry, so I'll undertake to do the throwing. But I won't promise you wil_and on your feet."
"No matter about that," returned the Scarecrow. "Just toss me over and I'll b_atisfied."
So the Champion picked up the Scarecrow and balanced him a moment, to see ho_uch he weighed, and then with all his strength tossed him high into the air.
Perhaps if the Scarecrow had been a trifle heavier he would have been easie_o throw and would have gone a greater distance; but, as it was, instead o_oing over the fence he landed just on top of it, and one of the sharp picket_aught him in the middle of his back and held him fast prisoner. Had he bee_ace downward the Scarecrow might have managed to free himself, but lying o_is back on the picket his hands waved in the air of the Horner Country whil_is feet kicked the air of the Hopper Country; so there he was.
"Are you hurt?" called the Patchwork Girl anxiously.
"Course not," said Dorothy. "But if he wiggles that way he may tear hi_lothes. How can we get him down, Mr. Champion?"
The Champion shook his head.
"I don't know," he confessed. "If he could scare Horners as well as he doe_rows, it might be a good idea to leave him there."
"This is terrible," said Ojo, almost ready to cry. "I s'pose it's because I a_jo the Unlucky that everyone who tries to help me gets into trouble."
"You are lucky to have anyone to help you," declared Dorothy. "But don'_orry. We'll rescue the Scarecrow somehow."
"I know how," announced Scraps. "Here, Mr. Champion; just throw me up to th_carecrow. I'm nearly as light as he is, and when I'm on top the fence I'l_ull our friend off the picket and toss him down to you."
"All right," said the Champion, and he picked up the Patchwork Girl and thre_er in the same manner he had the Scarecrow. He must have used more strengt_his time, however, for Scraps sailed far over the top of the fence and, without being able to grab the Scarecrow at all, tumbled to the ground in th_orner Country, where her stuffed body knocked over two men and a woman an_ade a crowd that had collected there run like rabbits to get away from her.
Seeing the next moment that she was harmless, the people slowly returned an_athered around the Patchwork Girl, regarding her with astonishment. One o_hem wore a jeweled star in his hair, just above his horn, and this seemed _erson of importance. He spoke for the rest of his people, who treated hi_ith great respect.
"Who are you, Unknown Being?" he asked.
"Scraps," she said, rising to her feet and patting her cotton wadding smoot_here it had bunched up.
"And where did you come from?" he continued.
"Over the fence. Don't be silly. There's no other place I could have com_rom," she replied.
He looked at her thoughtfully.
"You are not a Hopper," said he, "for you have two legs. They're not very wel_haped, but they are two in number. And that strange creature on top th_ence—why doesn't he stop kicking?—must be your brother, or father, or son, for he also has two legs."
"You must have been to visit the Wise Donkey," said Scraps, laughing s_errily that the crowd smiled with her, in sympathy. "But that reminds me, Captain—or King—"
"I am Chief of the Horners, and my name is Jak."
"Of course; Little Jack Horner; I might have known it. But the reason _olplaned over the fence was so I could have a talk with you about th_oppers."
"What about the Hoppers?" asked the Chief, frowning.
"You've insulted them, and you'd better beg their pardon," said Scraps. "I_ou don't, they'll probably hop over here and conquer you."
"We're not afraid—as long as the gate is locked," declared the Chief. "And w_idn't insult them at all. One of us made a joke that the stupid Hopper_ouldn't see."
The Chief smiled as he said this and the smile made his face look quite jolly.
"What was the joke?" asked Scraps.
"A Horner said they have less understanding than we, because they've only on_eg. Ha, ha! You see the point, don't you? If you stand on your legs, and you_egs are under you, then—ha, ha, ha!— then your legs are your under-standing.
Hee, hee, hee! Ho, ho! My, but that's a fine joke. And the stupid Hopper_ouldn't see it! They couldn't see that with only one leg they must have les_nder-standing than we who have two legs. Ha, ha, ha! Hee, hee! Ho, ho!" Th_hief wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes with the bottom hem of hi_hite robe, and all the other Horners wiped their eyes on their robes, fo_hey had laughed just as heartily as their Chief at the absurd joke.
"Then," said Scraps, "their understanding of the understanding you meant le_o the misunderstanding."
"Exactly; and so there's no need for us to apologize," returned the Chief.
"No need for an apology, perhaps, but much need for an explanation," sai_craps decidedly. "You don't want war, do you?"
"Not if we can help it," admitted Jak Horner. "The question is, who's going t_xplain the joke to the Horners? You know it spoils any joke to be obliged t_xplain it, and this is the best joke I ever heard."
"Who made the joke?" asked Scraps.
"Diksey Horner. He is working in the mines, just now, but he'll be home befor_ong. Suppose we wait and talk with him about it? Maybe he'll be willing t_xplain his joke to the Hoppers."
"All right," said Scraps. "I'll wait, if Diksey isn't too long."
"No, he's short; he's shorter than I am. Ha, ha, ha! Say! that's a better jok_han Diksey's. He won't be too long, because he's short. Hee, hee, ho!"
The other Horners who were standing by roared with laughter and seemed to lik_heir Chief's joke as much as he did. Scraps thought it was odd that the_ould be so easily amused, but decided there could be little harm in peopl_ho laughed so merrily.