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|The Road to Oz||L. Frank Baum|
Escaping the Soup-Kettle
|Page 2 of 5||
Over this bridge the Scoodlers led their prisoners, through the opening into the mountain, which they found to be an immense hollow dome lighted by several holes in the roof. All around the circular space were built rock houses, set close together, each with a door in the front wall. None of these houses was more than six feet wide, but the Scoodlers were thin people sidewise and did not need much room. So vast was the dome that there was a large space in the middle of the cave, in front of all these houses, where the creatures might congregate as in a great hall.
It made Dorothy shudder to see a huge iron kettle suspended by a stout chain in the middle of the place, and underneath the kettle a great heap of kindling wood and shavings, ready to light.
"What's that?" asked the shaggy man, drawing back as they approached this place, so that they were forced to push him forward.
"The Soup Kettle!" yelled the Scoodlers, and then they shouted in the next breath:
Button-Bright, holding Dorothy's hand in one chubby fist and Polly's hand in the other, was so affected by this shout that he began to cry again, repeating the protest:
"Don't want to be soup, I don't!"
"Never mind," said the shaggy man, consolingly; "I ought to make enough soup to feed them all, I'm so big; so I'll ask them to put me in the kettle first."
"All right," said Button-Bright, more cheerfully.
But the Scoodlers were not ready to make soup yet. They led the captives into a house at the farthest side of the cave--a house somewhat wider than the others.
"Who lives here?" asked the Rainbow's Daughter. The Scoodlers nearest her replied:
It made Dorothy hopeful to learn that a woman ruled over these fierce creatures, but a moment later they were ushered by two or three of the escort into a gloomy, bare room--and her hope died away.
For the Queen of the Scoodlers proved to be much more dreadful in appearance than any of her people. One side of her was fiery red, with jet-black hair and green eyes and the other side of her was bright yellow, with crimson hair and black eyes. She wore a short skirt of red and yellow and her hair, instead of being banged, was a tangle of short curls upon which rested a circular crown of silver--much dented and twisted because the Queen had thrown her head at so many things so many times. Her form was lean and bony and both her faces were deeply wrinkled.
"What have we here?" asked the Queen sharply, as our friends were made to stand before her.
"Soup!" cried the guard of Scoodlers, speaking together.
"We're not!" said Dorothy, indignantly; "we're nothing of the sort."
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|The Road to Oz
L. Frank Baum
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