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|The Marvelous Land of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
The Marvelous Powder of Life
|Page 3 of 4||
"I hope you are not reflecting on my personal appearance," said Jack; and it was so funny to hear his grave voice, while his face continued to wear its jolly smile, that Tip again burst into a peal of laughter.
Even Mombi was not without a curious interest in the man her magic had brought to life; for, after staring at him intently, she presently asked:
"What do you know?"
"Well, that is hard to tell," replied Jack. "For although I feel that I know a tremendous lot, I am not yet aware how much there is in the world to find out about. It will take me a little time to discover whether I am very wise or very foolish."
"To be sure," said Mombi, thoughtfully.
"But what are you going to do with him, now he is alive?" asked Tip, wondering.
"I must think it over," answered Mombi. "But we must get home at once, for it is growing dark. Help the Pumpkinhead to walk."
"Never mind me," said Jack; "I can walk as well as you can. Haven't I got legs and feet, and aren't they jointed?"
"Are they?" asked the woman, turning to Tip.
"Of course they are; I made 'em myself," returned the boy, with pride.
So they started for the house, but when they reached the farm yard old Mombi led the pumpkin man to the cow stable and shut him up in an empty stall, fastening the door securely on the outside.
"I've got to attend to you, first," she said, nodding her head at Tip.
Hearing this, the boy became uneasy; for he knew Mombi had a bad and revengeful heart, and would not hesitate to do any evil thing.
They entered the house. It was a round, domeshaped structure, as are nearly all the farm houses in the Land of Oz.
Mombi bade the boy light a candle, while she put her basket in a cupboard and hung her cloak on a peg. Tip obeyed quickly, for he was afraid of her.
After the candle had been lighted Mombi ordered him to build a fire in the hearth, and while Tip was thus engaged the old woman ate her supper. When the flames began to crackle the boy came to her and asked a share of the bread and cheese; but Mombi refused him.
"I'm hungry!" said Tip, in a sulky tone.
"You won't be hungry long," replied Mombi, with a grim look.
The boy didn't like this speech, for it sounded like a threat; but he happened to remember he had nuts in his pocket, so he cracked some of those and ate them while the woman rose, shook the crumbs from her apron, and hung above the fire a small black kettle.
Then she measured out equal parts of milk and vinegar and poured them into the kettle. Next she produced several packets of herbs and powders and began adding a portion of each to the contents of the kettle. Occasionally she would draw near the candle and read from a yellow paper the recipe of the mess she was concocting.
As Tip watched her his uneasiness increased.
"What is that for?" he asked.
"For you," returned Mombi, briefly.
Tip wriggled around upon his stool and stared awhile at the kettle, which was beginning to bubble. Then he would glance at the stern and wrinkled features of the witch and wish he were any place but in that dim and smoky kitchen, where even the shadows cast by the candle upon the wall were enough to give one the horrors. So an hour passed away, during which the silence was only broken by the bubbling of the pot and the hissing of the flames.
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|The Marvelous Land of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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