There lived in the Land of Oz two queerly made men who were the best of friends. They were so much happier when together that they were seldom apart; yet they liked to separate, once in a while, that they might enjoy the pleasure of meeting again.
One was a Scarecrow. That means he was a suit of blue Munchkin clothes, stuffed with straw, on top of which was fastened a round cloth head, filled with bran to hold it in shape. On the head were painted two eyes, two ears, a nose, and a mouth. The Scarecrow had never been much of a success in scaring crows, but he prided himself on being a superior man because he could feel no pain, was never tired and did not have to eat or drink. His brains were sharp, for The Wizard of Oz had put pins and needles in the Scarecrow’s brains.
The other man was made all of tin, his arms and legs, and head being cleverly jointed so that he could move them freely. He was known as the Tin Woodman, having at one time been a woodchopper, and everyone loved him because the Wizard had given him an excellent heart of red plush.
The Tin Woodman lived in a magnificent tin castle, built on his country estate in the Winkie Land, not far from the Emerald City of Oz. It had pretty tin furniture and was surrounded by lovely gardens in which were many tin trees and beds of tin flowers. The palace of the Scarecrow was not far distant, on the banks of a river, and this palace was in the shape of an immense ear of corn.
One morning the Tin Woodman went to visit his friend the Scarecrow, and as they had nothing better to do, they decided to take a boat ride on the river. So they got into the Scarecrow’s boat, which was formed from a big corncob, hollowed out and pointed at both ends and decorated around the edges with brilliant jewels. The sail was of purple silk and glittered gayly in the sunshine.
There was a good breeze that day, so the boat glided swiftly over the water. By and by they came to a smaller river that flowed from out a deep forest, and the Tin Woodman proposed they sail up this stream, as it would be cool and shady beneath the trees of the forest. So the Scarecrow who was steering turned the boat up the stream and the friends continued talking together of old times and the wonderful adventures they had met with while traveling with Dorothy, the little Kansas girl. They became so much interested in this talk that they forgot to notice that the boat was now sailing through the forest, or that the stream was growing more narrow and crooked.
Suddenly the Scarecrow glanced up and saw a big rock just ahead of them.
“Look out!” he cried, but the warning came too late.
The Tin Woodman sprang to his feet just as the boat bumped into the rock, and the jar made him lose his balance. He toppled and fell overboard and being made of tin he sank to the bottom of the water in an instant and lay there at full length, faces up.
Immediately the Scarecrow threw out the anchor, so as to hold the boat in that place, and then he leaned over the side and through the clear water looked at his friend sorrowfully.
“Dear me!” he exclaimed; “what a misfortune!”
“It is, indeed,” replied the Tin Woodman, speaking in muffled tones because so much water covered him. “I cannot drown, of course, but I must lie here until you find a way to get me out. Meantime, the water is soaking into all my joints and I shall become badly rusted before I am rescued.”
“Very true,” agreed with the Scarecrow; “but be patient, my friend, and I’ll dive and get you. My straw will not rust and is easily replaced if damaged, so I’m not afraid of the water.”
The Scarecrow now took off his hat and made a dive from the boat into the water, but he was so light in weight that he barely dented the surface of the stream, nor could he reach the Tin Woodman with his outstretched straw arms. So he floated to the boat and climbed into it, saying the while:
“Do not despair, my friend. We have an extra anchor aboard, and I will tie it around my waist, to make me sink, and dive again.”
“Don’t do that!” called the tin man. “That would anchor you also to the bottom where I am, and we’d both be helpless.”
“True enough,” sighed the Scarecrow, wiping his wet face with a handkerchief; and then he gave a cry of astonishment, for he found he had wiped off one painted eye and now had but one eye to see with.
“How dreadful!” said the poor Scarecrow. “That eye must have been painted in water-color, instead of oil. I must be careful not to wipe off the other eye, for then I could not see to help you at all.”
A shriek of elfish laughter greeted this speech and looking up the Scarecrow found the trees full of black crows, who seemed much amused by the straw man’s one-eyed countenance. He knew the crows well, however, and they had usually been friendly to him because he had never deceived them into thinking he was a meat man the sort of man they really feared.
“Don’t laugh,” said he; “you may lose an eye yourselves someday.”
“We couldn’t look as funny as you if we did,” replied one old crow, the king of them. “But what has gone wrong with you?”
“The Tin Woodman, my dear friend, and companion has fallen overboard and is now on the bottom of the river,” said the Scarecrow. “I’m trying to get him out again, but I fear I shall not succeed.”
“Why, it’s easy enough,” declared the old crow. “Tie a string to him and all of my crows will fly down, take hold of the string, and pull him up out of the water. There are hundreds of us here, so our united strength could lift much more than that.”
“But I can’t tie a string to him,” replied the Scarecrow. “My straw is so light that I am unable to dive through the water. I’ve tried it and knocked one eye out.”
“Can’t you fish for him?”
“Ah, that is a good idea,” said the Scarecrow. “I’ll make the attempt.”
He found a fish line in the boat, with a stout hook at the end of it. No bait was needed, so the Scarecrow dropped the hook into the water till it touched the Woodman.
“Hook it into a joint,” advised the crow who was now perched upon a branch that stuck far out and bent down over the water.
The Scarecrow tried to do this, but having only one eye he could not see the joints very clearly.
“Hurry up, please,” begged the Tin Woodman; “you’ve no idea how damp it is down here.”
“Can’t you help?” asked the crow.
“How?” inquired the tin man.
“Catch the line and hook it around your neck.”
The Tin Woodman made the attempt and after several trials wound the line around his neck and hooked it securely.
“Good!” cried King Crow, a mischievous old fellow. “Now, then, we’ll all grab the line and pull you out.”
At once the air was filled with black crows, each of whom seized the cord with beak or talons. The Scarecrow watched them with much interest and forgot that he had tied the other end of the line around his own waist, so he would not lose it while fishing for his friend.
“All together for the good caws!” shrieked the King Crow, and with a great flapping of wings the birds rose into the air.
The Scarecrow clapped his stuffed hands in glee as he saw his friend drawn from the water into the air; but the next moment the straw man was himself in the air, his stuffed legs kicking wildly; for the crows had flown straight up through the trees. On one end of the line dangled the Tin Woodman, hung by the neck, and on the other dangled the Scarecrow, hung by the waist and clinging fast to the spare anchor of the boat which he had seized hoping to save himself.
“Hi, there be careful!” shouted the Scarecrow to the crows. “Don’t take us so high. Land us on the river bank.”
But the crows were bent on mischief. They thought it a good joke to bother the two, now that they held them captive.
“Here’s where the crows scare the Scarecrow!” chuckled the naughty King Crow, and at his command the birds flew over the forest to where a tall dead tree stood higher than all the other trees. At the very top was a crotch, formed by two dead limbs, and into the crotch, the crows dropped the center of the line. Then, letting go of their hold, they flew away, chattering with laughter, and left the two friends suspended high in the air one on each side of the tree.
Now the Tin Woodman was much heavier than the Scarecrow, but the reason they balanced so nicely was that the straw man still clung fast to the iron anchor. There they hung, not ten feet apart, yet unable to reach the bare tree-trunk.
“For goodness sake don’t drop that anchor,” said the Tin Woodman anxiously.
“Why not?” inquired the Scarecrow.
“If you did, I’d tumble to the ground, where my tin would be badly dented by the fall. Also, you would shoot into the air and alight somewhere among the tree-tops.”
“Then,” said the Scarecrow, earnestly, “I shall hold fast to the anchor.”
For a time they both dangled in silence, the breeze swaying them gently to and fro. Finally, the tin man said: “Here is an emergency, friend, where only brains can help us. We must think of some way to escape.”
“I’ll do the thinking,” replied the Scarecrow. “My brains are the sharpest.”
He thought so long that the tin man grew tired and tried to change his position, but found his joints had already rusted so badly that he could not move them. And his oil-can was back in the boat.
“Do you suppose your brains are rusted, friend Scarecrow?” he asked in a weak voice, for his jaws would scarcely move.
“No, indeed. Ah, here’s an idea at last!”
And with this the Scarecrow clapped his hands to his head, forgetting the anchor which tumbled to the ground. The result was astonishing; for, just as the tin man had said, the light Scarecrow flew into the air, sailed over the top of the tree and landed in a bramble-bush, while the tin man fell plump to the ground, and landing on a bed of dry leaves was not dented at all. The Tin Woodman’s joints were so rusted, however, that he was unable to move, while the thorns held the Scarecrow a fast prisoner.
While they were in this sad plight, the sound of hoofs was heard and along the forest, path rode the little Wizard of Oz, seated on a wooden Sawhorse. He smiled when he saw the one-eyed head of the Scarecrow sticking out of the bramble-bush, but he helped the poor straw man out of his prison.
“Thank you, dear Wiz,” said the grateful Scarecrow. “Now we must get the oil-can and rescue the Tin Woodman.”
Together they ran to the river bank, but the boat was floating in midstream and the Wizard was obliged to mumble some magic words to draw it to the bank, so the Scarecrow could get the oil-can. Then back they flew to the tin man, and while the Scarecrow carefully oiled each joint the little Wizard moved the joints gently back and forth until they worked freely. After an hour of this labor the Tin Woodman was again on his feet, and although still a little stiff he managed to walk to the boat.
The Wizard and the Sawhorse also got aboard the corncob craft and together they returned to the Scarecrow’s palace. But the Tin Woodman was very careful not to stand up in the boat again.