Chapter 3 - Which Witch Was Which?
So sudden and severe was the jolt of the cabin landing that could have been hurt, but to my amazement, she remained asleep on her soft bed. Fortunately, the cabin remained intact for the most part and as the fall knocked the front door partly from its hinges, I tumbled out unharmed onto soft grass. William regained her hind legs and followed me. Looking about, she said, “Where are the witches?”
“One might be under our cabin and the other…who knows?”
“I smell water,” William said.
“Right you are and to that creek yonder, I’m heading.” With a wag of my tail, I added, “want to come?”
“Nope,” she said. “I see a perfectly fine patch of grass straight ahead.”
The brook was musical. I drank deeply, looked around out, drank, and looked around again. Unlike bleak and barren Kansas, with its limited plant and typical animal spore, this place assaulted my senses. The sweet floral perfume of rainbow colored flowers and the scent of bitter green of purple veined waterweeds tickled my tonsils. Pungent and earthy animal scents, free of fear and caution, widened my eyes in amazement.
Returning to the cabin, I checked on Dorothy, and then bathed peacefully by the door in a pool of warm and invigorating sunshine. This was a perfect day. Gizzards would have made it perfectly perfect, but perfect was still very good.
Dorothy cut through my idle thoughts with a cry of amazement. Standing in the doorframe, she greeted me with a gasp as her innocent brown eyes took in the wonderful sights. It pleased me to see her amazement, beautiful smile, and brow, free from lines of fear and worry. However, her peace of mind would not last, and that saddened me greatly. Soon she would get over the surprise of her surroundings and the relief of landing unharmed. She would then do all in her power to find Uncle Henry and Aunt Em to know with certainty that they were safe.
“Toto, am I dreaming that we’re alive, well, and have landed in a place of marvelous beauty.”
“It’s beautiful, indeed,” I replied. “Our landing was interesting and a tale for another day.”
“Never, never, never ever, will I ever get used to hearing you speak,” she said shaking her head and rubbing her eyes.
“Woof, woof,” I barked. We shared a laugh with Dorothy’s being sweet as a bell.
“How about this fine grass,” Dorothy said as she watched William chomp through a thick carpet of greenery. “And I see my breakfast,” she said as she pointed toward a thicket of stately trees bearing large and luscious fruits. First, I need to wash up. Good morning, William,” Dorothy said as we walked past William toward the small creek I enjoyed earlier.
“Listen. Here it splash and tinkle like the ring of a crystal bell,” she said with enormous eyes. “Do all brooks sound that way, Toto? I thought I was lucky when once in Kansas I saw a creek.”
“No, they don’t,” answered William. “The tinkling is an anomaly caused by the current carrying heavy pebbles over crystalline rocks, most likely quartzite. If that sound pleases you, be thankful that there’s molecular disenchantment between the two.”
“Thank you William, you can tell me what you’re talking about later on, but right now I’m happy just to sit beside it.”
The remainder of the day, we spent for the most part, in a silence of gratefulness. Had anyone else in the history of Kansas survived such a storm?
Later, we built a fire and rested comfortably beside it.
“I can tell by your wistful Dorothy eyes and the sadness in your voice that you’re worrying about Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. Tomorrow, ” I added, “we need to figure out how to get home.”
“I know they must be worried sick about me. If I could just let them know that we’re alive and well…” Lines of worry replaced Dorothy’s look of contentment.
“Perhaps we can or perhaps Kansas is closer than we think,” I said. “What about you William, you want to go home?”
“Mm-m-m-m,” William said with a mouth of chew. “I like Jim a lot – the lad I told you about who came with me…, his Ma is nice also. But…, I never ate this well back home…. In Omaha, one must be diligent in their watch for bugs. I’ve filled one of my stomachs already and havn’t tasted the first bug or cursed the first burr. This tornado led me to green pastures and set me down beside still waters. What more could a cow hope for?”
William was a mystery. I hoped she wasn’t a Bible-thumper. She was surely fun, her peaceful demeanor calmed my jitters, and Dorothy liked her too. But…whoever heard of a cow named William? That didn’t set well with me, it warranted the attention and suspicion that I bestowed upon it, and I intended to the source of that great mystery sooner than later. Who knows what other secrets she might be hiding?
The next day William awoke before Dorothy and I. She was doing what she did best, grazing. Later, I watched while Dorothy milked her. “If we’re to get you home, Dorothy, the road beckons us. But…, I’ve no idea which way to go….”
“Look,” Dorothy said.
I looked up to find a group of colorful people walking toward us. Both men and women of about the same size wore blue boots, hats, pants, shirts, and overalls. There was one exception; and old woman - she wore a dark cloak. Her face bore more wrinkles than an un-ironed cotton shirt and her white hair was bridal gown white. Furthermore, I was certain that this old woman was the witch that pushed the other beneath our cabin. Where was the one she pushed? I shuddered…perhaps I answered my own question, but by now, I’d surely have caught the scent of decay….
As these people drew near our cabin, I said,“Pick me up, Dorothy and step inside the cabin until we’re certain that they mean well.”
They paused and whispered among themselves, as if afraid to come farther. However, the witch walked up to us, made a low bow to Dorothy and then turned to the short man beside her.
"You’re welcome, most noble Sorceress, to the land of the Munchkins,” said the short man. “We’re so grateful to you for having killed the Wicked Witch of the East, and for setting us free from bondage."
Dorothy's jaw bounced off her chest. My hackles twitched. What was up with this? Why would he blame Dorothy, an innocent harmless little girl of fifteen, for the dastardly deed that the old lady next to him committed?
Dorothy pursed her lips and shook her head as she said, "…You’re very kind to welcome us, but there must be some mistake. I haven’t killed anything."
"Your house did, anyway," replied the wrinkled rag, "and that’s the same thing. See!" she said as she pointed to the corner of the house. "There are her two feet, still sticking out from under that block of wood."
If those silver booties belonged to Agnus, how could a woman with such a big mouth have had such small feet? Before I could raise that question, Dorothy cut me off.
“Those silver things are…are her feet? This is terrible!" cried Dorothy. Her eyes widened as she covered her mouth with her hands. "There’s nothing to be done," said the old sack of bones. "She was the Wicked Witch of the East, as I said. She held all these poor Munchkins in bondage for many years, making them slave for her night and day. Now they’re free and shall be ever grateful to you."
As the lot of them bobbed and bowed repeatedly, hats in hands, I looked for signs of slavery and captivity, but I found neither rope burns on their wrists, nor the markings of ankle bracelets and chains.
"Are you a Munchkin?" Dorothy asked the old lady.
"No, but I’m their friend. My name is Dilibus; I’m the good, Good Witch of the North and these fine folk in my company are Munchkins.”
A rumble deep from within came out as a growl…if being a “good witch” meant pushing people under falling cabins, I was thankful that I never knew that dead bad witch. Until I figured out what game this Good Witch played, I vowed not trust her.
"Oh, gracious!" cried Dorothy. "Are you a real witch?"
“She’s a liar…and worse,” I whispered. “Don’t trust her.”
The munchkin’s eyes doubled in size, their jaws dropped, and they stared stupidly between one another before settling their gaze at me.
Dorothy shot me a curious glance and frowned.
"Yes, indeed," the little woman cast her evil eye on me."As I said, I’m a good witch, and the people love me. I was not as powerful as the Wicked Witch who ruled here, or I should have set the people free myself."
Dorothy held herself tightly and said with a shiver, "But I thought all witches were wicked."
"Oh, no, that’s a great mistake. In all the Land of Oz, three of us witches remain. The Witch of the South is also good and the third is the Wicked Black Witch of the West. If what I say was not so, would these little folk be happy?” she asked with a toothy smile that reminded me of a beaver, an old scary beaver.
“Got any snake oil for sale,” I asked with a growl. I felt self-righteous knowing her dark murderous secret, and I also enjoyed Munchkin’s reaction.
"But," Dorothy said after she popped me smartly on the head, "Aunt Em told me that the witches were all dead--years and years ago."
"Who’s Aunt Em?" inquired the short man with a twist of his head.
The small talk and pleasantries continued for some time. Like Uncle Henry, I had no time or patience for small talk. Plus, I was concerned about this lying Witch, so I wiggled until Dorothy put me down and then I trotted over to William. I decided to devote some of my brain cells to the seriousness of this matter and to apologize to William.
“William,” I said, “we’ve a situation here.”
“Mmmm,” she replied as she pulled a huge mouthful of green from the lush carpet of grass.
“Here is the deal. That old woman claims to be the good, Good Witch of the North. She’s the one who pushed the other one under our cabin, but she’s blaming it on Dorothy. You saw her push the other, right?”
“Mmmm,” William replied without missing a chew.
“The situation is complicated because I am not sure if the killing was a bad thing or good as the Munchkins are not upset about the dead witch lying beneath our cabin. To what end, I know not, but the Good Witch is calling Dorothy a sorceress. She is talking up Dorothy as this powerful slayer of evil and hero for killing the bad Witch. So here lies the betwixt and between. Do we confront the nasty nutty North Witch or be silent and maintain what appears to be a very positive public image?”
“The downside, as I see it,” I continued, “is the consequence of Dorothy being blamed for the evil deed of that old viper. Your thoughts on this matter, William, are?” I …waited…and waited.
“This situation is as clear as fresh milk,” William pushed a mouthful of grass aside and continued, “A cabin falling on someone could neither be defined as contrived nor in any way premeditated…a crime of passion, perhaps, but premeditated...? Therefore, based upon the laws of the great state of Nebraska, this would be viewed as an accident, thereby rendering all parties innocent. However, it’s likely that we aren’t in Nebraska.” Then she went back to eating.
“Your point?” I said.
After another three great bites, William cast her gaze upon me. She quit chewing, fluttered her right ear and said, “One shouldn’t eat grass on a slippery slope.”
“I eyed William suspiciously…, and responded, “but William, doesn’t the grass take the slip from the slope?”
“Mmmm,” she replied and her left ear twitched. She resumed her grazing.
If that cow was ever fool enough to sit down before me with some poker chips, her ears would give her away. “Well spoken, William, we will take no action at this time. But I need your support and your word on two matters. First,” I held my paw up, “I need your back if we’re called upon to testify against the old lady over there. Second, William...look at me please! See my ears? See how I’ve perked them so that they stand at attention? This is the horn sign. If I ever give you the horn sign, you have to ram and butt whomever I nod at. Can I count on you?”
“Mmmm,” William rolled her eyes and continued to rip the fine green turf from the earth.
I waited…and waited.
“Yes to the first, and maybe to the second.”
“Maybe what? This is serious William.”
“Maybe if you milk me regularly,” William spoke slowly, savoring her words as she did her grass. “Life is about give and take. You take care of me and I take care of you.”
“William the horn thing is for the protection of our group.”
“What a considerate little dog you are,” she rumbled softly in her ever-humble William way, “wanting to protect me…with me!”