Illustration of Scarecrow in the river by W. W. Denslow from the original 1900 edition of the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Saving the Scarecrow | Oz – day 17

This is an ongoing NaNoWriMo project from 2021. My goal was, after reading the classic The Wizard of Oz, to retell the story; to fill out the parts that were missing. You can read about the project here or start with Chapter One here. You can read the original Wizard of Oz here.

Raw Writing Day 17

Rescuing the Scarecrow

They all looked at the Scarecrow, wrapped tightly around the setting pole.  He would start to slip down and then pull his way up again, but he continued to get closer and closer to the water.

“I could try to swim out to him,” suggested the Lion.

“No,” said Dorothy, “the current is too fast and, while you are the strongest fellow I have ever known, you are tired from pulling us to shore.  I am afraid that the water would pull you both under and you would drown.  Besides, the Scarecrow is only made of hay, and should he touch the water, he may break apart.”

“And he has my oil can riding inside him,” said the Woodman.  “If it fills with water, then I will have no oil and may rust before we make it to Oz.  So I would like it very much if he did not get wet.”

“Woodman!” Said Dorothy, and then whispered,  “That is not very kind of you.  We must think of Scarecrow right now.  We will find a way to get you to the Emerald City, even if you are covered with rust from top to bottom.”

“I’m sorry.  When I have a heart, I will understand better what it means to save my friend.” The Woodman sat down on the edge of the bank, his tin hand curled underneath his jaw.  He looked at Dorothy like a statue.

As they sat pondering the Scarecrow, a great crane with plumage the color sapphires, flew down the course of the river.  It spotted the unusual scene below the friends staring out into the river.  It began to move lower in the sky, wondering what they were each staring at.  As it swooped even lower, it saw that something was sticking out of the river, but it could not make out what it was.  Finally, it flew in a spiral over them and landed next to Dorothy.

The wind for the stork’s wings, as it landed next to Dorothy, pulled her from her thoughts.  Startled, she began to stand but the stork said, “Oh, you do not need to rise for me!  I am not royalty.  Are you royalty?”

“Us?” Said Dorothy, quite surprised. The stork stood taller than she did and its wings were longer than that of the Lion from nose to tail.  The deep blue of its feathers turned to rainbows as the light hit it directly.  Her neck was long and delicate and she had long iridescent tail feathers that lightly brushed the ground.

“Well yes,” said the Stork.  “You are wearing the Witch of the East’s shoes, and you have a friend that seems to be made of silver and a lion guard.  But what is that little creature?”

Toto sat looking at the stork, his head cocked sideways.

Dorothy picked him up and said, “This is my dog.  You don’t have them in Oz, from what I’ve been told.”

“Are you not from here?”

“No, we are from Kansas.  We are trying to go home.”

“I have flown over all of Oz, but I have never heard of a place called Kansas.  How do you get there?”
“That is the problem, you see, I don’t know.” 

“That is a problem,” and the stork stared out at the pole in the river, just as they had all before her arrival.  “What is that in the river?”

“That is my friend, the Scarecrow.”

“Oh!  I thought it looked familiar.  I have seen those in the fields of the Munchkin people, but I have never seen one in this land.  It looks quite strange, doesn’t it, all curled up around that stick?  What a strange place to put a scarecrow!’

“He doesn’t belong there,” said Dorothy.  “We are trying to make our way to the Emerald City to see Oz, the great Wizard.”

“Why would you want to do that?” Asked the bird.  

“Because I am hoping he can help me find my way home to Kansas.”

“And I am hoping the wizard will give me a heart,” spoke the Woodman.

“And I am in need of courage,” said the Lion.

“And what of your friend in the river?” Asked the bird.

“He needs a brain,” said Dorothy.

“What a strange group you are!  Homeless, foolish, unfeeling, and afraid.”

Dorothy looked at the Woodman and Lion, unsure of what to say.  The way the bird said it made her feel almost ashamed of their situation.

“Well, I should be off.  I have babies in my nest.”  

The great bird began to flap her wings, so large that they stretched over all of their heads, but before she could lift, Dorothy stood.

“Please wait!”  Dorothy held her hands out to the bird.  “Please, would you help us to get our friend back?”

The bird slowed her wings and looked into Dorothy’s eyes.

“Does he not wish to be out there?”

“No, he is out there by accident.”

“Then I will help.  But if he is too heavy, I may drop him in the water and there will be nothing I can do.”

“You will not drop him,” said Dorothy.  “For he is made of straw and cloth and is very light.  Even I am able to pick him up.  He does have a small can of oil in his chest, but it is very light.  And you are so majestic, it will be an easy job for you.”

“He has a heart made of a tin can!  How peculiar!” And the bird began once again to flap her wings. Dorothy ducked as the massive wings blew around the all and watched as the bird flew to Scarecrow.

“Don’t be afraid, Scarecrow!  Help is on the way.”

In his focus to not slip into the water, Scarecrow did not see the great bird.  Suddenly he felt claws on his shoulders.  He held tighter to the setting pole.

“Let go!” Yelled Dorothy.

“Let go,” said the Stork kindly.  “I will not drop you.”

Scarecrow let go and felt himself lift into the sky.  He had wondered what it would be to fly, having lived with the crows for so long.  He could see the river stretch out before him and the forest stretch out behind him and the rolling hills where they would go.  Far upstream, he could see the yellow brick winding away from the river and into the hills covered with deep scarlet flowers.  

The stork set him lightly down on his feet next to Dorothy and then hovered above.  “Goodbye, human girl!  Hold on to your slippers!”

And with that, the stork flew down the river and disappeared from view.  

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