Chapter 14 - Two Goats for Simple Sara

 

And thus our travel progressed with clever jests, quips, and with better time than I had hoped. Yesterday, I feared we’d be censured for Scrobins’ water for oil ploy, but their reunion with Chip nothing else seemed to matter. Today I worried that the Metal Man would slow us down, but so far that was not so. Now, my hackles turned my attention to other things. I trotted alongside of William and said, “These woods grow increasingly thick and dark…, and with creatures…I fear.”

 

“And I hear things too, sounds that scare me,” said Dorothy.

 

“I’m only a frail little man of straw.” Scrobins hunched his shoulders, wrung his hands, peered sideways at William, and said, “I do hope that the beast that stalks us isn’t an herbivore, especially one with cloven foot!”

 

William was cool, calm, and collected. I knew I could rely on her in a pinch. “With an eye on each side of your head, you can watch both sides of the forest from the road. You recall the horn sign?” I said as I perked up my ears as a reminder. “I’ve decided to assign you the title of Creature Watcher. You are hereby tasked with warning us if danger approaches. Do you accept your new title?”

 

William plodded forward and looked down at me with her right-eye as she chewed an earlier meal. I could not read her. Twice she attempted to speak, but said nothing. As she studied me, her eye narrowed a bit, her forehead twitched, and she tilted her chin.

 

This brought back memories of Uncle Henry chewing tobacco. William had the same look that Uncle Henry got right before he took aim at some poor bug. I slowed my trot and dropped back to assign the title to the man of metal.

 

When the sun was overhead, our troop stopped to rest. William refueled, Dorothy picked some luscious fruits growing nearby, and I rested in the shade.

 

The metal man said, “I’ll watch the forest. I’ve no need for food and am quite content standing here twisting about my arms, legs, and feet. It feels wonderful moving my appendages again.”

 

 “Cottage told me that the Wicked Witch of the East turned you into what you are. Will you tell us why,” Dorothy asked once we were afoot. However, Dorothy could not walk and carry on a conversation. She had to look at you while she spoke, shake her head one way or the other, throw her hands in the air, or slam them down on her hips. But she could not do all of that and walk. Dorothy had much curiosity about the metal man. On the road not more than ten minutes, Dorothy was on Chip, like butter on bread, pestering him about his strange situation.

 

“The Witch was responsible in part for my transformation,” he replied. “I’ll tell you my story, and then you’ll know."

 

Dorothy immediately slowed her pace, but before she could come to a stop I hollered up from my sling-swing, “There will be no talking unless there’s walking. Dorothy, you have to do both or wait until we camp tonight to hear Mr. Metal.”

 

She sighed greatly, and smeared her pouty Dorothy-look upon her face, but… her curiosity got the best of her. She found within her, the ability to walk and listen. So, the Metal Woodman went on to say:

 

"I was born the son of a woodman who sold the wood for a living. When I grew up, I too became a wood chopper, and after my father died, I took care of my old mother as long as she lived. Then I made up my mind that a wife and a handful or so of little choppers would be a good way to go. One Munchkin girl, Simple Sara, is special. She is so beautiful that I soon grew to love her with all my heart. She promised to marry me as soon as I could earn enough money to build a house for her; so I set to work harder than ever. But, Simple Sara lived with an old woman who didn’t want her to marry anyone. She wished my Munchkin maiden to remain with her to do the cooking and the housework. So, the old woman went to the Wicked Witch of the East, and promised her two goats and a dollar if the witch would prevent the marriage. With the fee settled upon, the Wicked Witch hexed my axe, and when I was chopping away at my best one day, the axe wrenched itself from my hand and cut off my left leg. This at first seemed a great misfortune because a one-legged man couldn’t do very well as a wood chopper. Thereafter, I went to a warlock, who is one who blends the arts of science, alchemy, and sorcery. I had him make me a new leg out of metal. However, my action angered the Wicked Witch. When I returned to work, my ax cut off my right leg. Again, I went to the warlock, and again, the witch destroyed more of my body until there was nothing left but my head, strong chin, million-dollar smile, and the dimples of my cheeks…so cherished by the Munchkin maiden. Unlike my new friend of straw, Scrobins, I had retained my face and therefore enough humanity to share my sadness with tears of grief and my pleasure with the grandest smile.”

 

And smile grandly for Dorothy, he did.

 

The scarecrow shrugged his shoulders and threw his hands into the air. “Why didn’t you outbid the old lady? Had you given the witch three goats and two dollars to leave you alone, that would’ve been infinitely less painful and more affordable than constantly paying the warlock.”

 

Chip Chopper’s tan face purpled from cheeks to neck. Were he a pimple, I would have bet on him popping.

 

“I should’ve met you earlier, Scrobins, but I can see that would’ve been a mixed blessing,” he said. “I thank you for your hindsight, though worthless. Now, if there are no further comments or insights, I shall continue.”

 

“What a heartfelt and wonderful smile you have, Mr. Metal,” Dorothy responded with teasing eyes and an innocent smile. “And fine powerful muscles also. With a body like yours, you could pull a plow better than any ox in Kansas…, but please continue.”

 

Chip Chopper sighed. “Nigh on a year ago, a great storm came upon me. I feared nothing and fell great trees despite the lightning and thunder. Gradually a sickness came upon me. Motion became difficult. Before I realized the nature of my condition, my joints rusted and complete paralysis set in.… During the year I stood and rusted, I had time to realize that my greatest loss was the loss of my heart. While I was in love, I was the happiest man on earth; but no one can love who hasn’t a heart, and so, thanks to all of you, I am resolved to ask Oz to give me one. If he does, I’ll go back to the Simple Sara and marry her."

 

“You might stand a better chance this time,” added the scarecrow. “By now that little Munchkin maid would have that old woman’s house really clean and a good deal of the cooking done. Just be sure to bring along a few extra goats in case there is a bidding war.”

 

“Irrefutable logic,” added William as she watched me with her closest eye.

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