The Tin Woodman Of Oz: The Man of Tin (15/24)

Ozma and Dorothy were quite pleased with Woot the Wanderer, whom they found modest and intelligent and very well mannered. The boy was truly grateful for his release from the cruel enchantment, and he promised to love, revere and defend the girl Ruler of Oz forever afterward, as a faithful subject.

“You may visit me at my palace, if you wish,” said Ozma, “where I will be glad to introduce you to two other nice boys, Ojo the Munchkin and Button-Bright.”

“Thank your Majesty,” replied Woot, and then he turned to the Tin Woodman and inquired: “What are your further plans, Mr. Emperor? Will you still seek Nimmie Amee and marry her, or will you abandon the quest and return to the Emerald City and your own castle?”

The Tin Woodman, now as highly polished and well-oiled as ever, reflected a while on this question and then answered:

“Well, I see no reason why I should not find Nimmie Amee. We are now in the Munchkin Country, where we are perfectly safe, and if it was right for me, before our enchantment, to marry Nimmie Amee and make her Empress of the Winkies, it must be right now, when the enchantment has been broken and I am once more myself. Am I correct, friend Scarecrow?”

“You are, indeed,” answered the Scarecrow. “No one can oppose such logic.”

“But I’m afraid you don’t love Nimmie Amee,” suggested Dorothy.

“That is just because I can’t love anyone,” replied the Tin Woodman. “But, if I cannot love my wife, I can at least be kind to her, and all husbands are not able to do that.”

“Do you s’pose Nimmie Amee still loves you, after all these years?” asked Dorothy.

“I’m quite sure of it, and that is why I am going to her to make her happy. Woot the Wanderer thinks I ought to reward her for being faithful to me after my meat body was chopped to pieces and I became tin. What do you think, Ozma?”

Ozma smiled as she said:

“I do not know your Nimmie Amee, and so I cannot tell what she most needs to make her happy. But there is no harm in your going to her and asking her if she still wishes to marry you. If she does, we will give you a grand wedding at the Emerald City and, afterward, as Empress of the Winkies, Nimmie Amee would become one of the most important ladies in all Oz.”

So it was decided that the Tin Woodman would continue his journey, and that the Scarecrow and Woot the Wanderer should accompany him, as before. Polychrome also decided to join their party, somewhat to the surprise of all.

“I hate to be cooped up in a palace,” she said to Ozma, “and of course the first time I meet my Rainbow I shall return to my own dear home in the skies, where my fairy sisters are even now awaiting me and my father is cross because I get lost so often. But I can find my Rainbow just as quickly while traveling in the Munchkin Country as I could if living in the Emerald City—or any other place in Oz—so I shall go with the Tin Woodman and help him woo Nimmie Amee.”

Dorothy wanted to go, too, but as the Tin Woodman did not invite her to join his party, she felt she might be intruding if she asked to be taken. She hinted, but she found he didn’t take the hint. It is quite a delicate matter for one to ask a girl to marry him, however much she loves him, and perhaps the Tin Woodman did not desire to have too many looking on when he found his old sweetheart, Nimmie Amee. So Dorothy contented herself with the thought that she would help Ozma prepare a splendid wedding feast, to be followed by a round of parties and festivities when the Emperor of the Winkies reached the Emerald City with his bride.

Ozma offered to take them all in the Red Wagon to a place as near to the great Munchkin forest as a wagon could get. The Red Wagon was big enough to seat them all, and so, bidding good-bye to Jinjur, who gave Woot a basket of ripe cream-puffs and caramels to take with him, Ozma commanded the Wooden Sawhorse to start, and the strange creature moved swiftly over the lanes and presently came to the Road of Yellow Bricks. This road led straight to a dense forest, where the path was too narrow for the Red Wagon to proceed farther, so here the party separated.

Ozma and Dorothy and Toto returned to the Emerald City, after wishing their friends a safe and successful journey, while the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, Woot the Wanderer and Polychrome, the Rainbow’s Daughter, prepared to push their way through the thick forest. However, these forest paths were well known to the Tin Man and the Scarecrow, who felt quite at home among the trees.

“I was born in this grand forest,” said Nick Chopper, the tin Emperor, speaking proudly, “and it was here that the Witch enchanted my axe and I lost different parts of my meat body until I became all tin. Here, also—for it is a big forest—Nimmie Amee lived with the Wicked Witch, and at the other edge of the trees stands the cottage of my190 friend Ku-Klip, the famous tinsmith who made my present beautiful form.”

“He must be a clever workman,” declared Woot, admiringly.

“He is simply wonderful,” declared the Tin Woodman.

“I shall be glad to make his acquaintance,” said Woot.

“If you wish to meet with real cleverness,” remarked the Scarecrow, “you should visit the Munchkin farmer who first made me. I won’t say that my friend the Emperor isn’t all right for a tin man, but any judge of beauty can understand that a Scarecrow is far more artistic and refined.”

“You are too soft and flimsy,” said the Tin Woodman.

“You are too hard and stiff,” said the Scarecrow, and this was as near to quarreling as the two friends ever came. Polychrome laughed at them both, as well she might, and Woot hastened to change the subject.

At night they all camped underneath the trees. The boy ate cream-puffs for supper and offered Polychrome some, but she preferred other food and at daybreak sipped the dew that was clustered thick on the forest flowers. Then they tramped onward again, and presently the Scarecrow paused and said:

“It was on this very spot that Dorothy and I first met the Tin Woodman, who was rusted so badly that none of his joints would move. But after we had oiled him up, he was as good as new and accompanied us to the Emerald City.”

“Ah, that was a sad experience,” asserted the Tin Woodman soberly. “I was caught in a rainstorm while chopping down a tree for exercise, and before I realized it, I was firmly rusted in every joint. There I stood, axe in hand, but unable to move, for days and weeks and months! Indeed, I have never known exactly how long the time was; but finally along came Dorothy and I was saved. See! This is the very tree I was chopping at the time I rusted.”

“You cannot be far from your old home, in that case,” said Woot.

“No; my little cabin stands not a great way off, but there is no occasion for us to visit it. Our errand is with Nimmie Amee, and her house is somewhat farther away, to the left of us.”

“Didn’t you say she lives with a Wicked Witch, who makes her a slave?” asked the boy.

“She did, but she doesn’t,” was the reply. “I am told the Witch was destroyed when Dorothy’s house fell on her, so now Nimmie Amee must live all alone. I haven’t seen her, of course, since the Witch was crushed, for at that time I was standing rusted in the forest and had been there a long time, but the poor girl must have felt very happy to be free from her cruel mistress.”

“Well,” said the Scarecrow, “let’s travel on and find Nimmie Amee. Lead on, your Majesty, since you know the way, and we will follow.”

So the Tin Woodman took a path that led through the thickest part of the forest, and they followed it for some time. The light was dim here, because vines and bushes and leafy foliage were all about them, and often the Tin Man had to push aside the branches that obstructed their way, or cut them off with his axe. After they had proceeded some distance, the Emperor suddenly stopped short and exclaimed: “Good gracious!”

The Scarecrow, who was next, first bumped into his friend and then peered around his tin body, and said in a tone of wonder:

“Well, I declare!”

Woot the Wanderer pushed forward to see what was the matter, and cried out in astonishment:

“For goodness’ sake!”

Then the three stood motionless, staring hard, until Polychrome’s merry laughter rang out behind them and aroused them from their stupor.

In the path before them stood a tin man who was the exact duplicate of the Tin Woodman. He was of the same size, he was jointed in the same manner, and he was made of shining tin from top to toe. But he stood immovable, with his tin jaws half parted and his tin eyes turned upward. In one of his hands was held a long, gleaming sword. Yes, there was the difference, the only thing that distinguished him from the Emperor of the Winkies. This tin man bore a sword, while the Tin Woodman bore an axe.

“It’s a dream; it must be a dream!” gasped Woot.

“That’s it, of course,” said the Scarecrow; “there couldn’t be two Tin Woodmen.”

“No,” agreed Polychrome, dancing nearer to the stranger, “this one is a Tin Soldier. Don’t you see his sword?”

The Tin Woodman cautiously put out one tin hand and felt of his double’s arm. Then he said in a voice that trembled with emotion:

“Who are you, friend?”

There was no reply.

“Can’t you see he’s rusted, just as you were once?” asked Polychrome, laughing again. “Here, Nick Chopper, lend me your oil-can a minute!”

The Tin Woodman silently handed her his oil-can, without which he never traveled, and Polychrome first oiled the stranger’s tin jaws and then worked them gently to and fro until the Tin Soldier said:

“That’s enough. Thank you. I can now talk. But please oil my other joints.”

Woot seized the oil-can and did this, but all the others helped wiggle the soldier’s joints as soon as they were oiled, until they moved freely.

The Tin Soldier seemed highly pleased at his release. He strutted up and down the path, saying in a high, thin voice:

“The Soldier is a splendid man
When marching on parade,
And when he meets the enemy
He never is afraid.
He rights the wrongs of nations,
His country’s flag defends,
The foe he’ll fight with great delight,
But seldom fights his friends.”

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