Книга The Marvelous Land of Oz. Содержание - A Highly Magnified History
"This is quite serious," said the Tin Woodman. "If there were trees near by I might soon manufacture another leg for this animal; but I cannot see even a shrub for miles around."
[Full page line-art drawing: THE TIN WOODMAN SKILLFULLY CAUGHT THE PUMPKIN]
"And there are neither fences nor houses in this part of the land of Oz," added the Scarecrow, disconsolately.
"Then what shall we do?" enquired the boy.
"I suppose I must start my brains working," replied his Majesty the Scarecrow; "for experience has, taught me that I can do anything if I but take time to think it out."
"Let us all think," said Tip; "and perhaps we shall find a way to repair the Saw-Horse."
So they sat in a row upon the grass and began to think, while the Saw-Horse occupied itself by gazing curiously upon its broken limb.
"Does it hurt?" asked the Tin Woodman, in a soft, sympathetic voice.
"Not in the least," returned the Saw-Horse; "but my pride is injured to find that my anatomy is so brittle."
For a time the little group remained in silent thought. Presently the Tin Woodman raised his head and looked over the fields.
"What sort of creature is that which approaches us?" he asked, wonderingly.
The others followed his gaze, and discovered coming toward them the most extraordinary object they had ever beheld. It advanced quickly and noiselessly over the soft grass and in a few minutes stood before the adventurers and regarded them with an astonishment equal to their own.
The Scarecrow was calm under all circumstances.
"Good morning!" he said, politely.
The stranger removed his hat with a flourish, bowed very low, and then responded:
"Good morning, one and all. I hope you are, as an aggregation, enjoying excellent health. Permit me to present my card."
With this courteous speech it extended a card toward the Scarecrow, who accepted it, turned it over and over, and handed it with a shake of his head to Tip.
The boy read aloud:
"MR. H. M. WOGGLE-BUG, T. E."
"Dear me!" ejaculated the Pumpkinhead, staring somewhat intently.
"How very peculiar!" said the Tin Woodman.
Tip's eyes were round and wondering, and the Saw-Horse uttered a sigh and turned away its head.
"Are you really a Woggle-Bug?" enquired the Scarecrow.
"Most certainly, my dear sir!" answered the stranger, briskly. "Is not my name upon the card?"
"It is," said the Scarecrow. "But may I ask what 'H. M.' stands for?"
"'H. M.' means Highly Magnified," returned the Woggle-Bug, proudly.
"Oh, I see." The Scarecrow viewed the stranger critically. "And are you, in truth, highly magnified?"
"Sir," said the Woggle-Bug, "I take you for a gentleman of judgment and discernment. Does it not occur to you that I am several thousand times greater than any Woggle-Bug you ever saw before? Therefore it is plainly evident that I am Highly Magnified, and there is no good reason why you should doubt the fact."
"Pardon me," returned the Scarecrow. "My brains are slightly mixed since I was last laundered. Would it be improper for me to ask, also, what the 'T.E.' at the end of your name stands for?"
"Those letters express my degree," answered the Woggle-Bug, with a condescending smile. "To be more explicit, the initials mean that I am Thoroughly Educated."
"Oh!" said the Scarecrow, much relieved.
Tip had not yet taken his eyes off this wonderful personage. What he saw was a great, round, buglike body supported upon two slender legs which ended in delicate feet – the toes curling upward. The body of the Woggle-Bug was rather flat, and judging from what could be seen of it was of a glistening dark brown color upon the back, while the front was striped with alternate bands of light brown and white, blending together at the edges. Its arms were fully as slender as its legs, and upon a rather long neck was perched its head – not unlike the head of a man, except that its nose ended in a curling antenna, or "feeler," and its ears from the upper points bore antennae that decorated the sides of its head like two miniature, curling pig tails. It must be admitted that the round, black eyes were rather bulging in appearance; but the expression upon the Woggle-Bug's face was by no means unpleasant.
For dress the insect wore a dark-blue swallowtail coat with a yellow silk lining and a flower in the button-hole; a vest of white duck that stretched tightly across the wide body; knickerbockers of fawn-colored plush, fastened at the knees with gilt buckles; and, perched upon its small head, was jauntily set a tall silk hat.
Standing upright before our amazed friends the Woggle-Bug appeared to be fully as tall as the Tin Woodman; and surely no bug in all the Land of Oz had ever before attained so enormous a size.
"I confess," said the Scarecrow, "that your abrupt appearance has caused me surprise, and no doubt has startled my companions. I hope, however, that this circumstance will not distress you. We shall probably get used to you in time."
"Do not apologize, I beg of you!" returned the Woggle-Bug, earnestly. "It affords me great pleasure to surprise people; for surely I cannot be classed with ordinary insects and am entitled to both curiosity and admiration from those I meet."
"You are, indeed," agreed his Majesty.
"If you will permit me to seat myself in your august company," continued the stranger, "I will gladly relate my history, so that you will be better able to comprehend my unusual – may I say remarkable? – appearance."
"You may say what you please," answered the Tin Woodman, briefly.
So the Woggle-Bug sat down upon the grass, facing the little group of wanderers, and told them the following story:
A Highly Magnified History
"It is but honest that I should acknowledge at the beginning of my recital that I was born an ordinary Woggle-Bug," began the creature, in a frank and friendly tone. "Knowing no better, I used my arms as well as my legs for walking, and crawled under the edges of stones or hid among the roots of grasses with no thought beyond finding a few insects smaller than myself to feed upon.
"The chill nights rendered me stiff and motionless, for I wore no clothing, but each morning the warm rays of the sun gave me new life and restored me to activity. A horrible existence is this, but you must remember it is the regular ordained existence of Woggle-Bugs, as well as of many other tiny creatures that inhabit the earth.
"But Destiny had singled me out, humble though I was, for a grander fate! One day I crawled near to a country school house, and my curiosity being excited by the monotonous hum of the students within, I made bold to enter and creep along a crack between two boards until I reached the far end, where, in front of a hearth of glowing embers, sat the master at his desk.
"No one noticed so small a creature as a Woggle-Bug, and when I found that the hearth was even warmer and more comfortable than the sunshine, I resolved to establish my future home beside it. So I found a charming nest between two bricks and hid myself therein for many, many months.
"Professor Nowitall is, doubtless, the most famous scholar in the land of Oz, and after a few days I began to listen to the lectures and discourses he gave his pupils. Not one of them was more attentive than the humble, unnoticed Woggle-Bug, and I acquired in this way a fund of knowledge that I will myself confess is simply marvelous. That is why I place 'T.E.' Thoroughly Educated upon my cards; for my greatest pride lies in the fact that the world cannot produce another Woggle-Bug with a tenth part of my own culture and erudition."
"I do not blame you," said the Scarecrow. "Education is a thing to be proud of. I'm educated myself. The mess of brains given me by the Great Wizard is considered by my friends to be unexcelled."