The Tin Woodman sat on his glittering tin throne in the handsome tin hall o_is splendid tin castle in the Winkie Country of the Land of Oz. Beside him,
in a chair of woven straw, sat his best friend, the Scarecrow of Oz. At time_hey spoke to one another of curious things they had seen and strang_dventures they had known since first they two had met and become comrades.
But at times they were silent, for these things had been talked over man_imes between them, and they found themselves contented in merely bein_ogether, speaking now and then a brief sentence to prove they were wide awak_nd attentive. But then, these two quaint persons never slept. Why should the_leep, when they never tired?
And now, as the brilliant sun sank low over the Winkie Country of Oz, tintin_he glistening tin towers and tin minarets of the tin castle with gloriou_unset hues, there approached along a winding pathway Woot the Wanderer, wh_et at the castle entrance a Winkie servant.
The servants of the Tin Woodman all wore tin helmets and tin breastplates an_niforms covered with tiny tin discs sewed closely together on silver cloth,
so that their bodies sparkled as beautifully as did the tin castle — an_lmost as beautifully as did the Tin Woodman himself.
Woot the Wanderer looked at the man servant —all bright and glittering — an_t the magnificent castle — all bright and glittering — and as he looked hi_yes grew big with wonder. For Woot was not very big and not very old and,
wanderer though he was, this proved the most gorgeous sight that had ever me_is boyish gaze.
"Who lives here?" he asked.
"The Emperor of the Winkies, who is the famous Tin Woodman of Oz," replied th_ervant, who had been trained to treat all strangers with courtesy.
"A Tin Woodman? How queer!" exclaimed the little wanderer.
"Well, perhaps our Emperor is queer," admitted the servant; "but he is a kin_aster and as honest and true as good tin can make him; so we, who gladl_erve him, are apt to forget that he is not like other people."
"May I see him?" asked Woot the Wanderer, after a moment's thought.
"If it please you to wait a moment, I will go and ask him," said the servant,
and then he went into the hall where the Tin Woodman sat with his friend th_carecrow. Both were glad to learn that a stranger had arrived at the castle,
for this would give them something new to talk about, so the servant was aske_o admit the boy at once.
By the time Woot the Wanderer had passed through the grand corridors — al_ined with ornamental tin — and under stately tin archways and through th_any tin rooms all set with beautiful tin furniture, his eyes had grown bigge_han ever and his whole little body thrilled with amazement. But, astonishe_hough he was, he was able to make a polite bow before the throne and to sa_n a respectful voice: "I salute your Illustrious Majesty and offer you m_umble services."
"Very good!" answered the Tin Woodman in his accustomed cheerful manner. "Tel_e who you are, and whence you come."
"I am known as Woot the Wanderer," answered the boy, "and I have come, throug_any travels and by roundabout ways, from my former home in a far corner o_he Gillikin Country of Oz."
"To wander from one's home," remarked the Scarecrow, "is to encounter danger_nd hardships, especially if one is made of meat and bone. Had you no friend_n that corner of the Gillikin Country? Was it not homelike and comfortable?"
To hear a man stuffed with straw speak, and speak so well, quite startle_oot, and perhaps he stared a bit rudely at the Scarecrow. But after a momen_e replied:
"I had home and friends, your Honorable Strawness, but they were so quiet an_appy and comfortable that I found them dismally stupid. Nothing in tha_orner of Oz interested me, but I believed that in other parts of the countr_ would find strange people and see new sights, and so I set out upon m_andering journey. I have been a wanderer for nearly a full year, and now m_anderings have brought me to this splendid castle."
"I suppose," said the Tin Woodman, "that in this year you have seen so muc_hat you have become very wise."
"No," replied Woot, thoughtfully, "I am not at all wise, I beg to assure you_ajesty. The more I wander the less I find that I know, for in the Land of O_uch wisdom and many things may be learned."
"To learn is simple. Don't you ask questions?" inquired the Scarecrow.
"Yes; I ask as many questions as I dare; but some people refuse to answe_uestions."
"That is not kind of them," declared the Tin Woodman. "If one does not ask fo_nformation he seldom receives it; so I, for my part, make it a rule to answe_ny civil question that is asked me."
"So do I," added the Scarecrow, nodding.
"I am glad to hear this," said the Wanderer, "for it makes me bold to ask fo_omething to eat."
"Bless the boy!" cried the Emperor of the Winkies; "how careless of me not t_emember that wanderers are usually hungry. I will have food brought you a_nce."
Saying this he blew upon a tin whistle that was suspended from his tin neck,
and at the summons a servant appeared and bowed low. The Tin Woodman ordere_ood for the stranger, and in a few minutes the servant brought in a tin tra_eaped with a choice array of good things to eat, all neatly displayed on ti_ishes that were polished till they shone like mirrors. The tray was set upo_ tin table drawn before the throne, and the servant placed a tin chair befor_he table for the boy to seat himself.
"Eat, friend Wanderer," said the Emperor cordially, "and I trust the feas_ill be to your liking. I, myself, do not eat, being made in such manner tha_ require no food to keep me alive. Neither does my friend the Scarecrow. Bu_ll my Winkie people eat, being formed of flesh, as you are, and so my ti_upboard is never bare, and strangers are always welcome to whatever i_ontains."
The boy ate in silence for a time, being really hungry, but after his appetit_as somewhat satisfied, he said:
"How happened your Majesty to be made of tin, and still be alive?"
"That," replied the tin man, "is a long story."
"The longer the better," said the boy. "Won't you please tell me the story?"
"If you desire it," promised the Tin Woodman, leaning back in his tin thron_nd crossing his tin legs. "I haven't related my history in a long while,
because everyone here knows it nearly as well as I do. But you, being _tranger, are no doubt curious to learn how I became so beautiful an_rosperous, so I will recite for your benefit my strange adventures."
"Thank you," said Woot the Wanderer, still eating.
"I was not always made of tin," began the Emperor, "for in the beginning I wa_ man of flesh and bone and blood and lived in the Munchkin Country of Oz.
There I was, by trade, a woodchopper, and contributed my share to the comfor_f the Oz people by chopping up the trees of the forest to make firewood, wit_hich the women would cook their meals while the children warmed themselve_bout the fires. For my home I had a little hut by the edge of the forest, an_y life was one of much content until I fell in love with a beautiful Munchki_irl who lived not far away."
"What was the Munchkin girl's name?" asked Woot.
"Nimmie Amee. This girl, so fair that the sunsets blushed when their rays fel_pon her, lived with a powerful witch who wore silver shoes and who had mad_he poor child her slave. Nimmie Amee was obliged to work from morning til_ight for the old Witch of the East, scrubbing and sweeping her hut an_ooking her meals and washing her dishes. She had to cut firewood, too, unti_ found her one day in the forest and fell in love with her. After that, _lways brought plenty of firewood to Nimmie Amee and we became very friendly.
Finally I asked her to marry me, and she agreed to do so, but the Witc_appened to overhear our conversation and it made her very angry, for she di_ot wish her slave to be taken away from her. The Witch commanded me never t_ome near Nimmie Amee again, but I told her I was my own master and would d_s I pleased, not realizing that this was a careless way to speak to a Witch.
"The next day, as I was cutting wood in the forest, the cruel Witch enchante_y axe, so that it slipped and cut off my right leg."
"How dreadful!" cried Woot the Wanderer.
"Yes, it was a seeming misfortune," agreed the Tin Man, "for a one-legge_oodchopper is of little use in his trade. But I would not allow the Witch t_onquer me so easily. I knew a very skillful mechanic at the other side of th_orest, who was my friend, so I hopped on one leg to him and asked him to hel_e. He soon made me a new leg out of tin and fastened it cleverly to my mea_ody. It had joints at the knee and at the ankle and was almost as comfortabl_s the leg I had lost."
"Your friend must have been a wonderful workman!" exclaimed Woot.
"He was, indeed," admitted the Emperor. "He was a tinsmith by trade and coul_ake anything out of tin. When I returned to Nimmie Amee, the girl wa_elighted and threw her arms around my neck and kissed me, declaring she wa_roud of me. The Witch saw the kiss and was more angry than before. When _ent to work in the forest, next day, my axe, being still enchanted, slippe_nd cut off my other leg. Again I hopped — on my tin leg — to my friend th_insmith, who kindly made me another tin leg and fastened it to my body. So _eturned joyfully to Nimmie Amee, who was much pleased with my glittering leg_nd promised that when we were wed she would always keep them oiled an_olished. But the Witch was more furious than ever, and as soon as I raised m_xe to chop, it twisted around and cut off one of my arms. The tinsmith mad_e a tin arm and I was not much worried, because Nimmie Amee declared sh_till loved me."