18 June 2009

Humbugs Inside the Earth

Yesterday I mentioned my article on Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz in the latest Baum Bugle. Here is a passage from the book itself, as L. Frank Baum has his usual fun with authority figures.

Dorothy Gale and her cousin Zeb have fallen through a crack in the earth into a subterranean kingdom full of glass buildings, and receive a cold welcome.

The Sorcerer, hearing the laugh, looked toward the little girl with cold, cruel eyes, and his glance made her grow sober in an instant.

“Why have you dared to intrude your unwelcome persons into the secluded Land of the Mangaboos?” he asked, sternly.

“’Cause we couldn’t help it,” said Dorothy.

“Why did you wickedly and viciously send the Rain of Stones to crack and break our houses?” he continued.

“We didn’t,” declared the girl.

“Prove it!” cried the Sorcerer.

“We don’t have to prove it,” answered Dorothy, indignantly. “If you had any sense at all you’d known it was the earthquake.”

“We only know that yesterday came a Rain of Stones upon us, which did much damage and injured some of our people. Today came another Rain of Stones, and soon after it you appeared among us.”

“By the way,” said the man with the star, looking steadily at the Sorcerer, “you told us yesterday that there would not be a second Rain of Stones. Yet one has just occurred that was even worse than the first. What is your sorcery good for if it cannot tell us the truth?”

“My sorcery does tell the truth!” declared the thorn-covered man. “I said there would be but one Rain of Stones. This second one was a Rain of People-and-Horse-and-Buggy. And some stones came with them.”

“Will there be any more Rains?” asked the man with the star.

“No, my Prince.”

“Neither stones nor people?”

“No, my Prince.”

“Are you sure?”

“Quite sure, my Prince. My sorcery tells me so.”

Just then a man came running into the hall and addressed the Prince after making a low bow.

“More wonders in the air, my Lord,” said he.
Who should float down onto the kingdom, descending slowly in a circus balloon, but our old friend the Wizard of Oz? After Dorothy greets him, the Prince of the Mangaboos takes the old man back into the palace.
“Come with me,” said the Prince to him. “I wish to meet our Sorcerer.”

The Wizard did not like this invitation, but he could not refuse to accept it. So he followed the Prince into the great domed hall, and Dorothy and Zeb came after them, while the throng of people trooped in also.

There sat the thorny Sorcerer in his chair of state, and when the Wizard saw him he began to laugh, uttering comical little chuckles.

“What an absurd creature!” he exclaimed.

“He may look absurd,” said the Prince, in his quiet voice; “but he is an excellent Sorcerer. The only fault I find with him is that he is so often wrong.”

“I am never wrong,” answered the Sorcerer.

“Only a short time ago you told me there would be no more Rain of Stones or of People,” said the Prince.

“Well, what then?”

“Here is another person descended from the air to prove you were wrong.”

“One person cannot be called ‘people,’“ said the Sorcerer. “If two should come out of the sky you might with justice say I was wrong; but unless more than this one appears I will hold that I was right.”

“Very clever,” said the Wizard, nodding his head as if pleased. “I am delighted to find humbugs inside the earth, just the same as on top of it.”


Rabid Fox said...

Hmmm. I never expected much of a satirical element from Baum's writing. I may have to re-read "Wizard of Oz" to see what is to be seen. :)

Nice post.

J. L. Bell said...

Baum’s satire became more pronounced in the later Oz books. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz stands out from the series stylistically, in ways I discussed back here.

Rabid Fox said...

Thanks for the link. I'll be sure to check that out today.