An Oz Book

by L.Frank Baum

 Chapter I.

    THOSE of you who have a map of the marvelous Land of Oz --the newly discovered Fairyland--will note in the park surrounding Ozma's Emerald City a pretty lake, into which flow the Munchkin River from the East and the Winkie River from the West.

    This lake is very beautiful and is so close to Ozma's Palace of Magic that it has a right to possess magic qualities of its own.  Usually it strikes the beholder as a lovely sheet of water, with the winds rippling its blue surface; again it is smooth as an ice-pond, and then the water is so clear that you can see the fishes lying on the sandy bottom, and see as well as anything what has fallen into the lake.

    There was one boat drifting on the surface of this lake, for it was her own private property and no one except the girl Ruler of Oz or her personal friends was allowed to use it, and at times the people in Ozma's Palace or in the Emerald City would discover blue flames issuing directly from the center of the lake, forming a pyramid fifty feet high, but even then no one went near for fear of offending Ozma.  If curiosity had at such times taken them to the banks of the lake they would have found that the flames nearest the lake were crimson; a little higher up they were yellow; then came the blue, blending itself into the yellow and extending high into the air, where it lost its flickering rays against the clear skies.

    Like a good many things they did not understand, the Oz people regarded the lake and its fountain of tints with calm indifference.  There were other lakes in Oz, more important if smaller in size, and they seldom ventured to linger around that of Ozma's Palace grounds.  There was no law forbidding it, but the Oz people were shy and stood in awe of their gracious Queen, who had been, and was now, more powerful than anyone in the Land of Ozma, perhaps excepting Glinda, the Good Sorceress of Oz.

    It cannot be denied that anyone in the Palace grounds wore an expression of curiosity when the Girl Ruler came tripping out of the Palace with her ice skates over her arm.  She approached the lake one day and turning a faucet at the marble brim, shut off all the shifting colors.  Then she turned another faucet and gradually the surface of the water became frozen, until it was fully hard enough to bear Ozma's weight.

    During this period the girl was seated on the marble bank engaged in putting on her skates, the straps of which were covered with jewels.  They fastened very quickly with snaps of solid cut diamonds and in a few moments Ozma was gracefully flying over the ice, enjoying the sport while dressed in a light summer gown and swinging a broad straw hat in her hand by means of its pink ribbons.

    Suddenly the girl noticed a man standing by the fountain, gravely staring at her.  He was a very tall man and not dressed in the costume of any of the nations of the Land of Oz.  He carried a jeweled cane which he leaned against as he seriously examined the girl.

    Ozma came gliding up to him.

   "Good day," he said to her, stiffly, as he doffed his high hat and then put it on again; "is he still stuck in the pipe?"

    "Who?" asked Ozma.  "I did not know that anyone was stuck in the pipe."

    "It's Ahd," returned the man.  "He would climb into the other end of the pipe, although I warned him not to, because it is really too small for a fellow like Ahd; but he won't take advice, so there he is---somewhere in the pipe, and I'm anxious to get him out again."

    Ozma turned the faucets and said a few magic words, and gradually the ice melted.  Then the Ruler of Oz dove to the bottom of the lake, her costume sparkling wonderfully as she disappeared beneath the surface.  Presently, she found the great pipe leading from the bottom of the lake to the sea.  Almost at the end of the pipe was what seemed to her a huge ball of dark blue cloth, held fast by the encircling pipe.  Then she swam to the surface again and approached the man who was now sitting on the marble parapet and eagerly watching her.

    "Well?" he said, questioningly.

    "Well?" returned Ozma; "tell me who you are, please."

    "Me?" he rejoined, "why, I'm Gipper-Gupper-Gopp, one of the principal citizens of Hiland, which is ruled by John Dough, the Gingerbread Man, and Chick the Cherub."

    "But the Kingdom of Hiland is far away to the West, across the shifting sands that surround Oz.  It is not in the Land of Oz at all," protested Ozma.  "And the pipe that leads from the bottom of this little lake--into which all the rivers of Oz flow--runs Eastward, to empty its waters in the Nonestic Ocean.  The pipe runs under the Winkie Country of Oz, under the Deadly Desert, and under the dominions of the Nome King and of Rinkitink, before it reaches the Ocean."

    "Quite true," replied the tall man.

    "Then," said Ozma, "how does this boy, whom you call Ahd, happen to have entered the pipe from the Rinkitink Country, and crawled through it to my lake in Oz, while you, who come from a land the opposite side of this hidden Fairyland, meet him in this spot?"

    "I haven't met him, as yet," the man reminded her, looking into the lake intently.

    "But he's there, I'm quite sure," persisted Ozma.

    "My story is a simple one, if unusual," answered the man Gipper-Gupper-Gopp, thoughtfully, "and if I tell it you will understand me better."

    "I'm sure of that," she replied, watching her clothes gradually changing under his gaze to those of a fairy type.

    "Button Bright is coming."

    At that moment a small boy approached the lake, for he saw the tall stranger standing by its brink and wondered how he got there.

    "Button Bright, " Ozma said, "hasten away and command Lucion the gardener to come as quickly as possible to our aid."

    "What's the matter?" asked the boy, who was buttoned up tightly and whose round face was full of curiosity.

    "You will find out when you return," she replied.

    So off dashed the little fellow.

    "And tell him to bring the longest rake handle or pole he has," the girl called after him.

    Button Bright was not very big nor moved very fast, but in what she deemed a short while he returned with Lucion the gardener, who dragged a long, thin pole in his wake.

    "Here yer air, Miss," he said as he came to the border of the lake.  "It's a good deal longer than the lake an' so I kep' it in case anything might happen."

[End of fragment.]


Text scanned and edited by Scott Andrew Hutchins, based on the text in The Best of the Baum Bugle, 1965-1966.
Afterword forthcoming.