Part 2: Helping the Friends
THE STRANGE LETTER
About a year passed since Dorothy returned to Kansas from the Land of Oz. In Kansas, everything was the same as it used to be: the fields of wheat, the flat plane, and the dusty streets. The only new thing was a house, replacing the one the hurricane took.
One summer day, a traveler appeared on Uncle Henry's house. He was middle aged, with a peg leg on his left foot.
He walked like a sailor, rocking back and forth, like he was walking on a deck. His brown eyes stared into the distance, like he was looking into the ocean horizon.
Toto started to bark at the stranger and tried to bite him on his wooden leg. Aunt Em turned around when she heard the barking, and ran out to meet him.
"Brother Charley!" cried Aunt Em. "You returned, you're alive!"
"Of course I'm alive, if I returned." said the man, hugging his sister.
"But your captain told us five years ago that you were taken prisoner by the cannibals of the island Kuru-Kus you were visiting."
Dorothy wondered, why she never heard of Charley.
Aunt Em then said: "Dorothy, this is your Uncle Charley!"
Dorothy then walked forward, and held out her hand for him to shake, but Uncle Charley lifted the girl and asked: "Do you remember me? Of course you don't, you were only three when I was at your house last time. But didn't Aunt Em tell you about me?"
Dorothy looked at her, not knowing how to answer the question.
Em answered: "Sorry brother: when the news came to us, Dorothy was five. We decided not to tell her about it. Dorothy grew, and started remembered less and less that she had an Uncle Charley... and then completely forgot about it."
Charles wasn't mad, and turned to his niece. "Well, since you can see that I am alive. Well, now that I'm here, I hope we can be friends."
"Of course Uncle Charley. By the way, how did you survive the cannibals?"
"I managed to convince them that I would be more useful alive than in a bonfire, and they admitted me in. They taught me five new ways to cook fish, showed me nine new species of edible plants, and on my fourth year with them, they put me on a boat with supplies and sent me out. After a few weeks on it, I found a ship, and now I am at your house."
Henry, learning from his neighbors that a stranger was near his house, and when he arrived, he was surprised to see Charley.
"I have business here Henry," stated Charley.
"Why? Couldn't you just come here as a guest?" asked Henry.
"For someone like me, there will always be a job," answered Charley. "Anyway, I want to buy my own ship, and I am a thousand dollars short…"
"Okay, we'll talk about it tomorrow, but for now, let's go eat."
After supper, Charley told everyone about his adventures, well until midnight.
"And I see that you have gotten richer." noticed Charley. "You now have a multi room house, and before you had one with only one room and a cyclone shelter."
And then Aunt Em and Uncle Henry remembered about Dorothy's adventure. But when Aunt Em started telling Charley about how a cyclone picked up their old house and Dorothy and Toto with it, Charley said: "Stop! As curious as I am, I would like to hear the story from my niece.
In the morning, Charley sat down with Dorothy, who told him about her adventure.
"Toto and I were very scared when the cyclone lifted the house far above the land. But I would have been more scared if I knew that the cyclone wasn't natural, but enchanted."
"What do you mean, enchanted?" asked Charles, interested.
"Well, a standard enchanted cyclone that evil witches send on people."
"How did you offend a witch so badly, that she sent a cyclone at you? That's like firing a cannon at robins."
"No, Uncle Charley, she wanted to kill everyone with the cyclone, but the Witch of the North stopped her."
Dorothy told him about her adventures, about how the cyclone took her house to the Land of Oz, how she made three good friends, how they got to Oz, and then went to confront the Wicked Witch of the West.
When Dorothy was finished her tale with how the silver shoes took her and Toto back home, the sailor didn't speak for some time.
"Well girl, I swear by all the gods of Kuru-Kus that that was a story filled with plenty of unordinary things. I would give ten years of my life to see this wonderful land!"
The story of Emerald City saddened Dorothy. She told Charley that she missed her friends, and that she would probably never see them again.
Charley and his niece got along very well. They talked through entire evenings, discussing their stories.
The sailor had plenty of things to talk about: how he fought white bears in the northern ice caps, hunted Rhinoceroses in Africa. But he admitted that he never heard of Kalihads or Flying Monkeys.
Charley was a jack of all trades: Dorothy was amazed at the contents of his tools that fit into his pockets. For example, his pocket knife also had scissors and a screw.
When needed, rope, nuts bolts, a saw, and much more came out of Charley's pockets. Sometimes Dorothy wondered if her uncle was a wizard, and made whatever he needed simply appear in his pockets.
He once made a mechanical scarecrow for the farm, one that swung its arms everywhere and amplified the winds' sounds into shrieks.
After two days, Aunt Em asked Charley to turn off the voice, saying: "I would rather have more sleep than a bigger harvest." Indeed, the scarecrow's shrieks didn't let anyone sleep.
In the evening, when Dorothy was finished with her homework, she and Charley would take a walk through the fields. The dust that was stirred up from the day settled down to the ground, the setting sun caused the stalks to cast long shadows. They would walk slowly through the field, talking.
On one of these walks something strange happened.
The sun was about to set, when Dorothy saw a large crow flying toward her. It flew up and down erratically, and harshly cawing.
The bird was pursued by Jim, one of the neighbor's kids, who was trying to hit it with the rocks he threw.
With its last strength, the bird flew to Dorothy and collapsed at her feet. The girl picked up the tired crow, and then yelled at Jim: "Go away, you horrible boy!"
"Give me the crow," he demanded. "It's my prey. You see how well I hit its wing?"
"Go away if you don't want to get what's coming to you."
Jim returned to his house, kicking rocks and mumbling curses under his breath, deciding not to mess with Dorothy and Charley.
"Poor bird," exclaimed Dorothy, holding the crow in her hands. "You're hurt."
While cradling the bird, Dorothy felt something on her right foot. When she looked at it, she saw a leaf tied on with a string.
She unwrapped the string and unfurled the leaf. What she saw startled her.
"Uncle Charley, there is something on the leaf," the girl cried.
The two stared at the leaf, and in the light of the setting sun, saw a strange picture etched on it: a pair of heads, one with a wide hat with a pointed top, round face, and round eyes, while the other had a pointed nose, and a hat and a smooth head.
"Uncle Charley, these are… the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman," exclaimed a surprised Dorothy.
Upon closer inspection, the two noticed vertical and horizontal lines going through the figures, like a grid.
"What does this mean, Uncle Charley?" asked the girl.
"It appears like your friends are behind bars and are asking for help," answered the experienced sailor.
"Craw, craw, craw," the bird squawked, and it sounded like: "Yes, yes, yes."
"If this bird could talk, I'm sure it could tell us plenty of interesting things," Charley noticed.
But birds don't talk in Kansas, and Dorothy didn't find out for a long time what happened with the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman, and why it happened.