18 June 2024

The Missing Princess of the Marvelous Land

I’ve been thinking about how The Marvelous Land of Oz could be more of a mystery. As it is, the book is a roller-coaster ride of political events. Every so often it raises the question of who should rule the Emerald City. But the book doesn’t give us all the clues to its ultimate answer until quite late.

Baum and his colleagues had introduced the character of Pastoria, former king of Oz, in the 1902 stage extravaganza The Wizard of Oz. Therefore, when the Scarecrow mentions his name in the sixteenth chapter of Land, it wouldn’t have been a complete surprise to all readers.

Nonetheless, that was two-thirds of the way through the book. Furthermore, Glinda doesn’t drop the bombshell that Pastoria left a missing daughter until four chapters later. That means readers have only three chapters to be thinking about this mystery, on which the conclusion of the story will hinge.

There are plenty of signs that Baum didn’t like going back to revise. He occasionally excised whole chapters or inserted new passages, but his surviving manuscripts and correspondence show none of the fiddling with details that other writers regularly performed.

I don’t think it would have taken much revising to cue readers into thinking about Pastoria and his daughter for much of the book. Here are some slightly rewritten passages in which characters discuss the history of Oz.

In Chapter 3, the boy Tip is trying to orient his creation, Jack Pumpkinhead:
“Where are we going?” asked Jack, when they had resumed their journey.

“I’m not exactly sure,” said the boy; “but I believe we are headed South, and that will bring us, sooner or later, to the Emerald City.”

“What city is that?” enquired the Pumpkinhead.

“Why, it’s the center of the Land of Oz, and the biggest town in all the country. I’ve never been there, myself, but I’ve heard all about its history. It was built by a mighty and wonderful Wizard named Oz, around the estate of the former king Pastoria, and [later] . . . the people of the Emerald City invited the Scarecrow to rule them.”

“Dear me!” said Jack. “I’m getting confused with all this history. Who is the Scarecrow?”

“Another friend of Dorothy’s,” replied Tip.

“And who is Dorothy?”

“She was a girl that came here from Kansas, a place in the big, outside World. She got blown to the Land of Oz by a cyclone, and while she was here the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman accompanied her on her travels.”

“And where is she now?” inquired the Pumpkinhead.

“Glinda the Good, who rules the Quadlings, sent her home again,” said the boy.

“Oh. And what became of the Scarecrow?”

“I told you. He rules the Emerald City,” answered Tip.

“I thought you said it was ruled by a wonderful Wizard,” objected Jack, seeming more and more confused.

“Well, so I did. Now, pay attention, and I’ll explain it,” said Tip, speaking slowly and looking the smiling Pumpkinhead squarely in the eye. “Around the time King Pastoria vanished, the Wizard came and built the Emerald City and ruled for many years. Dorothy went to the Emerald City to ask the Wizard to send her back to Kansas; and the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman went with her. But the Wizard couldn’t send her back, because he wasn’t so much of a Wizard as he might have been. And then they got angry at the Wizard, and threatened to expose him; so the Wizard made a big balloon and escaped in it, and no one has ever seen him since.”

“Now, that is very interesting history,” said Jack, well pleased; “and I understand it perfectly all but the explanation.”
After Jack and Tip get separated, the boy meets a pretty young woman in a colorful military uniform. With a little tweaking, this conversation could have been part of that Chapter 8:
“I am General Jinjur,” was the brief reply.

“Oh!” said the boy surprised. “What sort of a General?”

“I command the Army of Revolt in this war,” answered the General, with unnecessary sharpness.

“Oh!” he again exclaimed. “I didn’t know there was a war.”

“You were not supposed to know it,” she returned, “for we have kept it a secret; and considering that our army is composed entirely of girls,” she added, with some pride, “it is surely a remarkable thing that our Revolt is not yet discovered.”

“It is, indeed,” acknowledged Tip. “But where is your army?”

“About a mile from here,” said General Jinjur. “The forces have assembled from all parts of the Land of Oz, at my express command. For this is the day we are to conquer His Majesty the Scarecrow, and wrest from him the throne. The Army of Revolt only awaits my coming to march upon the Emerald City.”

“Well!” declared Tip, drawing a long breath, “this is certainly a surprising thing! May I ask why you wish to conquer His Majesty the Scarecrow?”

“Because the Emerald City has been ruled by men long enough, for one reason,” said the girl. “Before the Scarecrow there was the Wizard, and before the Wizard, or even the city as it stands today, there was King Pastoria. Some people say Pastoria had a daughter who was meant to rule over us, meaning that we should have had a girl ruler by this time, but no one has seen that child for years.”

That lost heir was not part of the history of Oz that Tip had heard from Mombi. He puzzled over this rumor as Jinjur went on:

“Moreover, the City glitters with beautiful gems, which might far better be used for rings, bracelets and necklaces; and there is enough money in the King’s treasury to buy every girl in our Army a dozen new gowns. So we intend to conquer the City and run the government to suit ourselves.”
Tip and Jack Pumpkinhead reunite in the Scarecrow’s palace, only for General Jinjur to seize the Emerald City. Later the Scarecrow seizes the palace back with the help of his close friend, the Tin Woodman. But at that point in Chapter 16, the straw-man ruler is ready to abdicate:
Tip soon cut the stitches that had fastened the crown to the Scarecrow’s head, and the former monarch of the Emerald City removed it with a sigh of relief and hung it on a peg beside the throne.

“That is my last memento of royalty,” said he; “and I’m glad to get rid of it. The former King of this City, who was named Pastoria, lost the crown to the Wonderful Wizard, who passed it on to me. Now the girl Jinjur claims it, and I sincerely hope it will not give her a headache.”

“A kindly thought, which I greatly admire,” said the Tin Woodman, nodding approvingly.

“Have you ever heard,” Tip asked the straw man, “that King Pastoria had a daughter who disappeared?”

“Some people do say that,” answered the Scarecrow, “and some say otherwise. That happened well before my time, so I cannot say anything about it. Why—do you think General Jinjur is this lost heir to Pastoria?”

Tip shook his head. After all, Jinjur was the person who had first told him about the missing princess, and she had made no claim to rule the Emerald City other than by force and cunning.

“Well, now I will indulge in a quiet think,” continued the Scarecrow, lying back in the throne.
Finally, the Scarecrow and his supporters reach Glinda’s palace in Chapter 20:
“Therefore I have come to beg your assistance,” resumed the Scarecrow, “for I believe you are always glad to succor the unfortunate and oppressed.”

“That is true,” replied the Sorceress, slowly. “But the Emerald City is now ruled by General Jinjur, who has caused herself to be proclaimed Queen. What right have I to oppose her?”

“Why, she stole the throne from me,” said the Scarecrow.

“And how came you to possess the throne?” asked Glinda.

“I got it from the Wizard of Oz, and by the choice of the people,” returned the Scarecrow, uneasy at such questioning.

“And where did the Wizard get it?” she continued gravely.

“I am told he took it after Pastoria, the former King, had not been heard from for some time,” said the Scarecrow, becoming confused under the intent look of the Sorceress.

“Then,” declared Glinda, “the throne of the Emerald City belongs neither to you nor to Jinjur, but to this Pastoria from whom the Wizard usurped it.”

“That is true,” acknowledged the Scarecrow, humbly; “but Pastoria has been gone for many years now, and some one must rule in his place.”

“Pastoria had a daughter, who is the rightful heir to the throne of the Emerald City. Did you know that?” questioned the Sorceress.

“Not for certain,” replied the Scarecrow. “But if that girl still lives I will not stand in her way. It will satisfy me as well to have Jinjur turned out, as an impostor, as to regain the throne myself. In fact, it isn’t much fun to be King, especially if one has good brains. I have known for some time that I am fitted to occupy a far more exalted position. But where is the girl who owns the throne, and what is her name?”

“Her name is Ozma,” answered Glinda. “But where she is I have tried in vain to discover. For the Wizard of Oz, when he stole the throne from Ozma’s father, hid the girl in some secret place; and by means of a magical trick with which I am not familiar he also managed to prevent her being discovered—even by so experienced a Sorceress as myself.”
By that point, readers would have been thinking about the Emerald City’s deep history for most of the book, and the mystery of the missing heir for a dozen chapters. Where could that child be?

12 June 2024

OzCon 2024 Getting into the Game

This July’s OzCon International in Pomona will be the sixtieth annual Oz fan convention on the west coast. OzCon started as the Winkie Convention, for people who lived in the western quadrant of the USA.

These days, OzCon attracts people from all over. Co-director Colin Ayres is from Shropshire, I’m from New England, and one of this year’s guests is from Australia.

Once again I’ve been helping to plan the program. I’ll speak briefly, moderate a panel on what stories the manuscripts of the Oz books can tell us, and help with other tasks.

As the graphic above from convention co-director Jay Davis says, the schedule is up now at OzConInternational.