"The very thing!" exclaimed Professor Wogglebug, bounding into the air and upsetting his gold inkwell. "The very next idea!"
"Who, me?" A round-faced little Munchkin boy stuck his head in the door and regarded Professor Wogglebug solemnly. He was working his way through the Professor's Athletic college, and one of his duties was to wait upon this eminent educator of Oz.
"Certainly not!" snapped Professor Wogglebug. "You're a nobody or a nothing.
Stop gaping and fetch me my hat. I'm off to the Emerald City. And mind the pupils take their history pills regularly while I'm gone," he added, clapping his tall hat Zif held out to him on the back of his head. "Yes, sir!" said the little Munchkin respectfully.
"Don't hurry back, sir!" This last remark the Professor did not hear, for he was already half way down the college steps.
"Ozma will be delighted with the idea. How clever I am!" he murmured, twirling his antennae and walking rapidly down the pleasant blue lane.
The Professor, whose College of Art and Athletic Perfection is in the southwestern part of the Munchkin country, is the biggest bug in Oz, or in anyplace else, for that matter. He has made education painless by substituting school pills for books. His students take Latin, history and spelling pills; they swallow knowledge of every kind with ease and pleasure and spend the rest of their time in sport. No wonder he is so well thought of in Oz! No wonder he thinks so well of himself! Swinging his cane jauntily, the Professor hurried toward the yellow brick road that leads to the Emerald City, and by nightfall had reached the lovely capital of Oz.
Oz! That marvelous country where no one grows old, where animals and birds talk as sensibly as people, and adventures happen every day. Indeed, of all fairylands in the world, Oz is the most delightful, and of all fairy cities, the Emerald City is the most beautiful. A soft green light shone for miles about, and the gemmed turrets and spires of the palace flashed more brightly than the stars. But its loveliness was familiar to Professor Wogglebug, and without a pause he proceeded to Ozma's palace and was at once admitted to the great hall.
A roar of merriment greeted his ears. Ozma, the lovely girl ruler of Oz, was having a party, and the room was full of most surprising people surprising to some, that is, but old friends to most of us.
Jack, holding tightly to his pumpkin head, was running as fast as his wooden feet and wobbly legs would take him from Dorothy. A game of blind-man's buff was in full swing, and Scraps and Tik-Tok, the Scarecrow and Nick Chopper, the Glass Cat and the Cowardly Lion, the Wizard of Oz and the wooden Sawhorse, Cap'n Bill and Betsy Bobbin, Billina and the Hungry Tiger were tumbling over each other in an effort to keep away from the blindfolded little girl. But Dorothy was too quick for them. With a sudden whirl, she spun 'round and grasped a coatsleeve.
"The Scarecrow!" she laughed triumphantly. "I can tell by the way he skwoshes and now he's it!"
"I'm always it!" chuckled the droll person. "But hah! Behold the learned Professor standing so aloofly in our midst."
No one had noticed Professor Wogglebug, who had been quietly watching the game. "I don't like to interrupt the party," he began, approaching Ozma's throne apologetically, "but I've just had a most brilliant idea!"
"What? Another?" murmured the Scarecrow, rolling up his eyes.
"Where did you lose it?" asked Jack Pumpkinhead, edging forward anxiously.
"Lose it! Who said I'd lost it?" snapped the Professor, glaring at poor Jack.
"Well, you said you'd had it, and had is the past tense, so" Jack's voice trailed off uncertainly, and Ozma, seeing he was embarrassed, begged the Professor to explain.
"Your Highness!" began Professor Wogglebug, while the company settled down in a resigned circle on the floor, "As Oz is the most interesting and delightful country on the Continent of Imagination and its people the most unusual and talented, I am about to compile a Royal Book which will give the names and history of all our people. In other words, I am to be the Great, Grand Genealogist of Oz!"
"Whatever that is," the Scarecrow whispered in Dorothy's ear.
"And," the Professor frowned severely on the Scarecrow, "with your Majesty's permission, I shall start at once!"
"Please do," said the Scarecrow with a wave toward the door, "and we will go on with the party!"
Scraps, the Patchwork Girl, who had been staring fixedly at the Professor with her silver suspender-button eyes, now sprang to her feet:
"What is a genealogist? It's something no one here has missed; What puts such notions in your head? Turn out your toes or go to bed!" she shouted gaily, then, catching Ozma's disapproving glance, fell over backwards.
"I don't understand it at all," said Jack Pumpkinhead in a depressed voice. "I'm afraid my head's too ripe."
"Nor I," said Tik-Tok, the copper clockwork man. "Please wind me up a lit-tle tight-er Dor-o-thy, I want to think!"
Dorothy obligingly took a key suspended from a hook on his back and wound him up under his left arm. Everybody began to talk at once, and what with the Cowardly Lion's deep growl and Tik-Tok's squeaky voice and all the rest of the tin and meat and wooden voices, the confusion was terrible. "Wait!" cried Ozma, clapping her hands. Immediately the room grew so still that one could hear Tik-Tok's machinery whirring 'round. "Now!" said Ozma, "One at a time, please, and let us hear from the Scarecrow first."
The Scarecrow rose. "I think, your Highness," he said modestly, "that anyone who has studied his Geozify already knows who we are and"
"Who you are?" broke in the Wogglebug scornfully, "Of course they do. But I shall tell them who you were!"
"Who I were?" gasped the Scarecrow in a dazed voice, raising his cotton glove to his forehead. "Who I were? Well, who were I?"
"That's just the point," said Professor Wogglebug. "Who were you? Who were your ancestors? Where is your family? Where is your family tree? From what did you descend?"
At each question, the Scarecrow looked more embarrassed. He repeated the last one several times. "From what did I descend? From what did I descend? Why, from a bean pole!" he cried.
This was perfectly true, for Dorothy, a little girl blown by a Kansas cyclone to the Kingdom of Oz, had discovered the Scarecrow in a farmer's cornfield and had lifted him down from his pole. Together they had made the journey to the Emerald City, where the Wizard of Oz had fitted him out with a fine set of brains. At one time, he had ruled Oz and was generally considered its cleverest citizen.
Before he could reply further, the Patchwork Girl, who was simply irrepressible, burst out:
"An ex-straw-ordinary man is he! A bean pole for his family tree, A Cornishman, upon my soul, Descended from a tall, thin Pole!"
"Nonsense!" said Professor Wogglebug sharply, "Being stuffed with straw may make him extraordinary, but it is quite plain that the Scarecrow was nobody before he was himself. He has no ancestors, no family; only a bean pole for a family tree, and is therefore entitled to the merest mention in the Royal Book of Oz!"
"How about my brains?" asked the Scarecrow in a hurt voice. "Aren't they enough?"
"Brains have simply nothing to do with royalty!" Professor Wogglebug waved his fountain pen firmly. "Now"
"But see here, wasn't I ruler of Oz?" put in the Scarecrow anxiously. "A Ruler but never a royalty!" snapped out the Professor. "Now, if you will all answer my questions as I call your names, I'll get the necessary data and be off." He took out a small memorandum book. "Your Highness," he bowed to Ozma, "need not bother. I have already entered your name at the head of the list. Being descended as you are from a long line of fairies, your family tree is the oldest and most illustrious in Oz. Princess Dorothy!"
At the sound of her name, the little girl stood up.
"I know you are from Kansas and were created a Princess of Oz by our gracious Ruler, but can you tell me anything of your ancestors in America?"
demanded the Professor, staring over the top of his thick glasses.
"You'll have to ask Uncle Henry and Aunt Em," said Dorothy rather sulkily.
The Professor had hurt the feelings of her best friend, the Scarecrow, and ancestors did not interest her one little bit.
"Very well," said the Professor, writing industriously in his book. "I'll just enter you as `Dorothy, Princess of Oz and sixth cousin to a President!' "
"I'm not!" Dorothy shook her head positively.
"Oh, everyone in America can claim that!" said the Professor easily. "Nick Chopper!"
Now up rose our old friend the Tin Woodman, who had also been discovered by Dorothy on her first trip to the Fairyland of Oz.
"You were a man of meat at one time and a woodman by trade?" queried Professor Wogglebug, poising his pen in the air.
"I am a Tin Woodman, and you may enter me in your book under the name of Smith, for a tin Smith made me, and as Royal Emperor of the Winkies, I do not care to go back to my meat connections," said the Tin Woodman in a dignified voice.
The company applauded, and the Cowardly Lion thumped the floor with his tail. "Smith is a very good name. I can work up a whole chapter on that," smiled the Professor. The Tin Woodman had once been a regular person, but a wicked witch enchanted his ax, and first it chopped off one leg, then the other, and next both arms and his head. After each accident, Nick went to a tinsmith for repairs, and finally was entirely made of tin. Nowhere but in Oz could such a thing happen. But no one can be killed in this marvelous country, and Nick, with his tin body, went gaily on living and was considered so distinguished that the Winkies had begged him to be their Emperor.
"Scraps!" called the Professor as Nick sat stiffly down beside Dorothy. The Patchwork Girl pirouetted madly to the front. Putting one finger in her mouth, she sang:
"I'm made of patches, as you see. A clothes tree is my family tree But, pshaw! It's all the same to me!"
A clothes tree? Even Professor Wogglebug grinned. Who could help laughing at Scraps? Made of odd pieces of goods and brought to life by the powder of life, the comical girl was the jolliest person imaginable.
"Put me down as a man of me-tal!" drawled Tik-Tok the copper man as the laugh following Scraps' rhyme had subsided. Tik-Tok was still another of Dorothy's discoveries, and this marvelous machine man, guaranteed to last a thousand years, could think, walk, and talk when properly wound.
The Cowardly Lion was entered as a King in his own right. One after the other, the celebrities of Oz came forward to answer Professor Wogglebug's questions. The Professor wrote rapidly in his little book. Ozma listened attentively to each one, and they all seemed interested except the Scarecrow. Slumped down beside Dorothy, he stared morosely at the ceiling, his jolly face all wrinkled down on one side.
"If I only knew who I were!" he muttered over and over. "I must think!"
"Don't you mind." Dorothy patted his shoulder kindly. "Royalties are out of date, and I'll bet the Professor's family tree was a milkweed!"
But the Scarecrow refused to be comforted, and long after the company had retired he sat hunched sadly in his corner. "I'll do it! I'll do it!" he exclaimed at last, rising unsteadily to his feet. Jellia Jamb, Ozma's little waiting maid, returning somewhat later to fetch a handkerchief her mistress had dropped, was surprised to see him running through the long hall.
"Why, where are you going?" asked Jellia.
"To find my family tree!" said the Scarecrow darkly, and drawing himself up to his full height, he fell through the doorway.