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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Frank Baum > Fairy tale "The Royal Book of Oz"

The Royal Book of Oz

" Here the Scarecrow sighed deeply.

"Have you a family?" he asked the A-B-Sea Serpent curiously.

"Yes, indeed," replied the monster, snapping its tape-measure tongue in and out, "I have five great-grandmothers, twenty-one grandnieces, seven brothers, and six sisters-in-law!"

"Ah!" murmured the Scarecrow, clasping his hands tragically, "How I envy you. I have no one—no aunts—no ancestors—no family—no family tree but a bean pole. I am, alas, a man without a past!" The Scarecrow looked so dejected that the Rattlesnake thought he was going to cry.

"Oh, cheer up!" it begged in a distressed voice. "Think of your presence—here—I give you permission to shake me!" The Scarecrow was so affected by this kind offer that he cheered up immediately.

"No past but a presence—I'll remember that!" He swelled out his straw chest complacently, and leaning over, stroked the Rattlesnake on the head.

"Are you good at riddles?" asked the Rattlesnake timidly.

"Well," answered the Scarecrow judiciously, "I have very good brains, given me by the famous Wizard of Oz."

"Then why is the A-B-Sea Serpent like a city?" asked the Rattlesnake promptly.

The Scarecrow thought hard for several seconds.

"Because it is made up of blocks!" he roared triumphantly. "That's easy; now it's my turn. Why is the A-B-Sea Serpent such a slow talker?"

"Give it up!" said the Rattlesnake after shaking himself several times.

"Because his tongue is a tape measure, and he has to measure his words!" cried the Scarecrow, snapping his clumsy fingers. "And that's a good one, if I did make it myself. I must remember to tell it to Dorothy!"

Then he sobered quite suddenly, for the thought of Dorothy brought back the purpose of his journey. Interrupting the Rattlesnake in the midst of a new riddle, he explained how anxious he was to return to the little farm where he had been discovered and try to find some traces of his family.

"And the real riddle," he sighed with a wave of his hand, "is how to cross this river."

"That's easy and no riddle at all," rumbled the A-B-Sea Serpent, who had been listening attentively to the Scarecrow's remarks.

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