Книга Glinda of Oz. Содержание - Chapter Nineteen Red Reera, the Yookoohoo
She laughed, saying: "During the heat of the day I like to be an ape, for an ape doesn't wear any clothes to speak of. But if one has gentlemen callers it is proper to dress up."
Ervic noticed her right hand was closed, as if she held something in it. She shut the cupboard door, bent over the crocodile and in a moment the creature had changed to a red wolf. It was not pretty even now, and the wolf crouched beside its mistress as a dog might have done. Its teeth looked as dangerous as had those of the crocodile.
Next the Yookoohoo went about touching all the lizards and toads, and at her touch they became kittens. The rats she changed into chipmunks. Now the only horrid creatures remaining were the four great spiders, which hid themselves behind their thick webs.
"There!" Reera cried, "now my cottage presents a more comfortable appearance. I love the toads and lizards and rats, because most people hate them, but I would tire of them if they always remained the same. Sometimes I change their forms a dozen times a day."
"You are clever," said Ervic. "I did not hear you utter any incantations or magic words. All you did was to touch the creatures."
"Oh, do you think so?" she replied. "Well, touch them yourself, if you like, and see if you can change their forms."
"No," said the Skeezer, "I don't understand magic and if I did I would not try to imitate your skill. You are a wonderful Yookoohoo, while I am only a common Skeezer."
This confession seemed to please Reera, who liked to have her witchcraft appreciated.
"Will you go away now?" she asked. "I prefer to be alone."
"I prefer to stay here," said Ervic.
"In another person's home, where you are not wanted?"
"Is not your curiosity yet satisfied?" demanded Reera, with a smile.
"I don't know. Is there anything else you can do?"
"Many things. But why should I exhibit my powers to a stranger?"
"I can think of no reason at all," he replied.
She looked at him curiously.
"You want no power for yourself, you say, and you're too stupid to be able to steal my secrets. This isn't a pretty cottage, while outside are sunshine, broad prairies and beautiful wildflowers. Yet you insist on sitting on that bench and annoying me with your unwelcome presence. What have you in that kettle?"
"Three fishes," he answered readily.
"Where did you get them?"
"I caught them in the Lake of the Skeezers."
"What do you intend to do with the fishes?"
"I shall carry them to the home of a friend of mine who has three children. The children will love to have the fishes for pets."
She came over to the bench and looked into the kettle, where the three fishes were swimming quietly in the water.
"They're pretty," said Reera. "Let me transform them into something else."
"No," objected the Skeezer.
"I love to transform things; it's so interesting. And I've never transformed any fishes in all my life."
"Let them alone," said Ervic.
"What shapes would you prefer them to have? I can make them turtles, or cute little sea-horses; or I could make them piglets, or rabbits, or guinea-pigs; or, if you like I can make chickens of them, or eagles, or bluejays."
"Let them alone!" repeated Ervic.
"You're not a very pleasant visitor," laughed Red Reera. "People accuse me of being cross and crabbed and unsociable, and they are quite right. If you had come here pleading and begging for favors, and half afraid of my Yookoohoo magic, I'd have abused you until you ran away; but you're quite different from that. You're the unsociable and crabbed and disagreeable one, and so I like you, and bear with your grumpiness. It's time for my midday meal; are you hungry?"
"No," said Ervic, although he really desired food.
"Well, I am," Reera declared and clapped her hands together. Instantly a table appeared, spread with linen and bearing dishes of various foods, some smoking hot. There were two plates laid, one at each end of the table, and as soon as Reera seated herself all her creatures gathered around her, as if they were accustomed to be fed when she ate. The wolf squatted at her right hand and the kittens and chipmunks gathered at her left.
"Come, Stranger, sit down and eat," she called cheerfully, "and while we're eating let us decide into what forms we shall change your fishes."
"They're all right as they are," asserted Ervic, drawing up his bench to the table. "The fishes are beauties—one gold, one silver and one bronze. Nothing that has life is more lovely than a beautiful fish."
"What! Am I not more lovely?" Reera asked, smiling at his serious face.
"I don't object to you—for a Yookoohoo, you know," he said, helping himself to the food and eating with good appetite.
"And don't you consider a beautiful girl more lovely than a fish, however pretty the fish may be?"
"Well," replied Ervic, after a period of thought, "that might be. If you transformed my three fish into three girls—girls who would be Adepts at Magic, you know they might please me as well as the fish do. You won't do that of course, because you can't, with all your skill. And, should you be able to do so, I fear my troubles would be more than I could bear. They would not consent to be my slaves—especially if they were Adepts at Magic—and so they would command me to obey them. No, Mistress Reeraq let us not transform the fishes at all."
The Skeezer had put his case with remarkable cleverness. He realized that if he appeared anxious for such a transformation the Yookoohoo would not perform it, yet he had skillfully suggested that they be made Adepts at Magic.
Red Reera, the Yookoohoo
After the meal was over and Reera had fed her pets, including the four monster spiders which had come down from their webs to secure their share, she made the table disappear from the floor of the cottage.
"I wish you'd consent to my transforming your fishes," she said, as she took up her knitting again.
The Skeezer made no reply. He thought it unwise to hurry matters. All during the afternoon they sat silent. Once Reera went to her cupboard and after thrusting her hand into the same drawer as before, touched the wolf and transformed it into a bird with gorgeous colored feathers. This bird was larger than a parrot and of a somewhat different form, but Ervic had never seen one like it before.
"Sing!" said Reera to the bird, which had perched itself on a big wooden peg—as if it had been in the cottage before and knew just what to do.
And the bird sang jolly, rollicking songs with words to them—just as a person who had been carefully trained might do. The songs were entertaining and Ervic enjoyed listening to them. In an hour or so the bird stopped singing, tucked its head under its wing and went to sleep. Reera continued knitting but seemed thoughtful.
Now Ervic had marked this cupboard drawer well and had concluded that Reera took something from it which enabled her to perform her transformations. He thought that if he managed to remain in the cottage, and Reera fell asleep, he could slyly open the cupboard, take a portion of whatever was in the drawer, and by dropping it into the copper kettle transform the three fishes into their natural shapes. Indeed, he had firmly resolved to carry out this plan when the Yookoohoo put down her knitting and walked toward the door.
"I'm going out for a few minutes," said she; "do you wish to go with me, or will you remain here?"
Ervic did not answer but sat quietly on his bench. So Reera went out and closed the cottage door.
As soon as she was gone, Ervic rose and tiptoed to the cupboard.
"Take care! Take care!" cried several voices, coming from the kittens and chipmunks. "If you touch anything we'll tell the Yookoohoo!"