Chapter 17 - The Workshop of Ku-Klip
It was not more than a two hours' journey to the house where Nimmie Amee had lived, but when our travelers arrived there they found the place deserted. The door was partly off its hinges, the roof had fallen in at the rear and the interior of the cottage was thick with dust. Not only was the place vacant, but it was evident that no one had lived there for a long time.
"I suppose," said the Scarecrow, as they all stood looking wonderingly at the ruined house, "that after the Wicked Witch was destroyed, Nimmie Amee became lonely and went somewhere else to live."
"One could scarcely expect a young girl to live all alone in a forest," added Woot. "She would want company, of course, and so I believe she has gone where other people live."
"And perhaps she is still crying her poor little heart out because no tin man comes to marry her," suggested Polychrome.
"Well, in that case, it is the clear duty of you two tin persons to seek Nimmie Amee until you find her," declared the Scarecrow.
"I do not know where to look for the girl," said the Tin Soldier, "for I am almost a stranger to this part of the country."
"I was born here," said the Tin Woodman, "but the forest has few inhabitants except the wild beasts. I cannot think of anyone living near here with whom Nimmie Amee might care to live."
"Why not go to Ku-Klip and ask him what has become of the girl?" proposed Polychrome.
That struck them all as being a good suggestion, so once more they started to tramp through the forest, taking the direct path to Ku-Klip's house, for both the tin twins knew the way, having followed it many times.
Ku-Klip lived at the far edge of the great forest, his house facing the broad plains of the Munchkin Country that lay to the eastward. But, when they came to this residence by the forest's edge, the tinsmith was not at home.
It was a pretty place, all painted dark blue with trimmings of lighter blue. There was a neat blue fence around the yard and several blue benches had been placed underneath the shady blue trees which marked the line between forest and plain. There was a blue lawn before the house, which was a good sized building. Ku- Klip lived in the front part of the house and had his work-shop in the back part, where he had also built a lean-to addition, in order to give him more room.
Although they found the tinsmith absent on their arrival, there was smoke coming out of his chimney, which proved that he would soon return.
"And perhaps Nimmie Amee will be with him," said the Scarecrow in a cheerful voice.
While they waited, the Tin Woodman went to the door of the workshop and, finding it unlocked, entered and looked curiously around the room where he had been made.
"It seems almost like home to me," hie told his friends, who had followed him in. "The first time I came here I had lost a leg, so I had to carry it in my hand while I hopped on the other leg all the way from the place in the forest where the enchanted axe cut me. I remember that old Ku-Klip carefully put my meat leg into a barrel -- I think that is the same barrel, still standing in the corner yonder -- and then at once he began to make a tin leg for me. He worked fast and with skill, and I was much interested in the job."
"My experience was much the same," said the Tin Soldier. "I used to bring all the parts of me, which the enchanted sword had cut away, here to the tinsmith, and Ku-Klip would put them into the barrel."
"I wonder," said Woot, "if those cast-off parts of you two unfortunates are still in that barrel in the corner?"
"I suppose so." replied the Tin Woodman. "In the Land of Oz no part of a living creature can ever be destroyed."
"If that is true, how was that Wicked Witch destroyed?" inquired Woot.
"Why, she was very old and was all dried up and withered before Oz became a fairyland," explained the Scarecrow. "Only her magic arts had kept her alive so long, and when Dorothy's house fell upon her she just turned to dust, and was blown away and scattered by the wind. I do not think, however, that the parts cut away from these two young men could ever be entirely destroyed and, if they are still in those barrels, they are likely to be just the same as when the enchanted axe or sword severed them."
"It doesn't matter, however," said the Tin Woodman; "our tin bodies are more brilliant and durable, and quite satisfy us."
"Yes, the tin bodies are best," agreed the Tin Soldier. "Nothing can hurt them."
"Unless they get dented or rusted," said Woot, but both the tin men frowned on him.
Scraps of tin, of all shapes and sizes, lay scattered around the workshop. Also there were hammers and anvils and soldering irons and a charcoal furnace and many other tools such as a tinsmith works with. Against two of the side walls had been built stout work-benches and in the center of the room was a long table. At the end of the shop, which adjoined the dwelling, were several cupboards.
After examining the interior of the workshop until his curiosity was satisfied, Woot said;
"I think I will go outside until Ku-Klip comes. It does not seem quite proper for us to take possession of his house while he is absent."
"That is true," agreed the Scarecrow, and they were all about to leave the room when the Tin Woodman said: "Wait a minute," and they halted in obedience to the command.