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Tip Manufactures a Pumpkin
In the Country of the Gillikins, which is at the North of the Land of Oz, lived a youth called Tip. There was more to his name than that, for old Mombi oftendeclared that his whole name was Tippetarius; but no one was expected to say such a long word when "Tip" would do just as well.
This boy remembered nothing of his parents, for he had been brought when quite young to be reared by the old woman known as Mombi, whose reputation, I am sorry to say, was none of the best. For the Gillikin people had reason to suspect her of indulging in magical arts, and therefore hesitated to associate with her.
Mombi was not exactly a Witch, because the Good Witch who ruled that part of the Land of Ozhad forbidden any other Witch to exist in her dominions. So Tip's guardian, however much she might aspire to working magic, realized it was unlawful to be morethan a Sorceress, or at most a Wizardess.
Tip was made to carry wood from the forest, that the old woman might boil her pot. He also worked in the corn-fields, hoeing and husking; and he fed the pigs andmilked the four-horned cow that was Mombi's especial pride.
But you must not suppose he worked all the time, for he felt that would be bad for him. When sent to the forest Tip often climbed trees for birds' eggs or amusedhimself chasing the fleet white rabbits or fishing in the brooks with bent pins. Then he would hastily gather his armful of wood and carry it home. And when he was supposed to be working in the corn-fields, and the tall stalks hid him from Mombi's view, Tip would often dig in the gopher holes, or -- if the mood seized him -- lie upon his back between the rows ofcorn and take a nap. So, by taking care not to exhaust his strength, he grew as strong and rugged as a boy may be.
Mombi's curious magic often frightened her neighbors, and they treated her shyly, yet respectfully, because of her weird powers. But Tip frankly hated her, andtook no pains to hide his feelings. Indeed, he sometimes showed less respect for the old woman than he should have done, considering she was his guardian.
There were pumpkins in Mombi's corn-fields, lying golden red among the rows of green stalks; and these had been planted and carefully tended that thefour-horned cow might eat of them in the winter time. But one day, after the corn had all been cut and stacked, and Tip was carrying the pumpkins to the stable, hetook a notion to make a "Jack Lantern" and try to give the old woman a fright with it.
So he selected a fine, big pumpkin -- one with a lustrous, orange-red color -- and began carving it. With the point of his knife he made two round eyes, a three-cornered nose, and a mouth shaped like a new moon. The face, when completed, could not have been considered strictly beautiful; but it wore a smile so big and broad, and was sojolly in expression, that even Tip laughed as he looked admiringly at his work.
The child had no playmates, so he did not know that boys often dig out the inside of a "pumpkinjack, " and in the space thus made put a lighted candle to renderthe face more startling; but he conceived an idea of his own that promised to be quite as effective. He decided to manufacture the form of a man, who would wearthis pumpkin head, and to stand it in a place where old Mombi would meet it face to face.
"And then, " said Tip to himself , with a laugh, "she'll squeal louder than the brown pig does when I pull her tail, and shiver with fright worse than I did last yearwhen I had the ague!"
He had plenty of time to accomplish this task, for Mombi had gone to a village-to buy groceries, she said-and it was a journey of at least two days.
So he took his axe to the forest, and selected some stout, straight saplings, which he cut down and trimmed of all their twigs and leaves. From these he wouldmake the arms, and legs, and feet of his man. For the body he stripped a sheet of thickbark from around a big tree, and with much labor fashioned it into a cylinder of about the right size, pinning the edges together with wooden pegs. Then, whistlinghappily as he worked, he carefully jointed the limbs and fastened them to the body with pegs whittled into shape with his knife.
By the time this feat had been accomplished it began to grow dark, and Tip remembered he must milk the cow and feed the pigs. So he picked up his wooden manand carried it back to the house with him.
During the evening, by the light of the fire in the kitchen, Tip carefully rounded all the edges of the joints and smoothed the rough places in a neat and workmanlikemanner. Then he stood the figure up against the wall and admired it. It seemed remarkably tall, even for a full-grown man; but that was a good point in a smallboy's eyes, and Tip did not object at all to the size of his creation.
Next morning, when he looked at his work again, Tip saw he had forgotten to give the dummy a neck, by means of which he might fasten the pumpkinhead to thebody. So he went again to the forest, which was not far away, and chopped from a tree several pieces of wood with which to complete his work. When he returned he fastened a cross-pieceto the upper end of the body, making a hole through the center to hold upright the neck. The Marvelous Land of Oz. Copyright © by L. Baum. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.