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The Cowardly Lion
All this time Dorothy and her companions had been walking through the
thick woods. The road was still
paved with yellow brick, but these were much covered by dried branches and dead
leaves from the trees, and the walking was not at all good.
There were few birds in this part of the forest, for birds love the open
country where there is plenty of sunshine.
But now and then there came a deep growl from some wild animal hidden
among the trees. These sounds made
the little girl's heart beat fast, for she did not know what made them; but Toto
knew, and he walked close to Dorothy's side, and did not even bark in return.
"How long will it be," the child asked of the Tin Woodman,
"before we are out of the forest?"
"I cannot tell," was the answer, "for I have never been to
the Emerald City. But my father went there once, when I was a boy, and he said
it was a long journey through a dangerous country, although nearer to the city
where Oz dwells the country is beautiful. But I am not afraid so long as I have
my oil-can, and nothing can hurt the Scarecrow, while you bear upon your
forehead the mark of the Good Witch's kiss, and that will protect you from
"But Toto!" said the girl anxiously.
"What will protect him?"
"We must protect him ourselves if he is in danger," replied the
Just as he spoke there came from the forest a terrible roar, and the next
moment a great Lion bounded into the road.
With one blow of his paw he sent the Scarecrow spinning over and over to
the edge of the road, and then he struck at the Tin Woodman with his sharp
claws. But, to the Lion's surprise, he could make no impression on
the tin, although the Woodman fell over in the road and lay still.
Little Toto, now that he had an enemy to face, ran barking toward the
Lion, and the great beast had opened his mouth to bite the dog, when Dorothy,
fearing Toto would be killed, and heedless of danger, rushed forward and slapped
the Lion upon his nose as hard as she could, while she cried out:
"Don't you dare to bite Toto! You
ought to be ashamed of yourself, a big beast like you, to bite a poor little
"I didn't bite him," said the Lion, as he rubbed his nose with
his paw where Dorothy had hit it.
"No, but you tried to," she retorted.
"You are nothing but a big coward."
"I know it," said the Lion, hanging his head in shame.
"I've always known it. But
how can I help it?"
"I don't know, I'm sure. To
think of your striking a stuffed man, like the poor Scarecrow!"
"Is he stuffed?" asked the Lion in surprise, as he watched her
pick up the Scarecrow and set him upon his feet, while she patted him into shape
"Of course he's stuffed," replied Dorothy, who was still angry.
"That's why he went over so easily," remarked the Lion.
"It astonished me to see him whirl around so.
Is the other one stuffed also?"
"No," said Dorothy, "he's made of tin."
And she helped the Woodman up again.
"That's why he nearly blunted my claws," said the Lion.
"When they scratched against the tin it made a cold shiver run down my
back. What is that little animal
you are so tender of?"
"He is my dog, Toto," answered Dorothy.
"Is he made of tin, or stuffed?" asked the Lion.
"Neither. He's a--a--a meat dog," said the girl.
"Oh! He's a curious animal and seems remarkably small, now that I
look at him. No one would think of
biting such a little thing, except a coward like me," continued the Lion
"What makes you a coward?" asked Dorothy, looking at the great
beast in wonder, for he was as big as a small horse.
"It's a mystery," replied the Lion.
"I suppose I was born that way.
All the other animals in the forest naturally expect me to be brave, for
the Lion is everywhere thought to be the King of Beasts.
I learned that if I roared very loudly every living thing was frightened
and got out of my way. Whenever
I've met a man I've been awfully scared; but I just roared at him, and he has
always run away as fast as he could go. If
the elephants and the tigers and the bears had ever tried to fight me, I should
have run myself--I'm such a coward; but just as soon as they hear me roar they
all try to get away from me, and of course I let them go."
"But that isn't right. The
King of Beasts shouldn't be a coward," said the Scarecrow.
"I know it," returned the Lion, wiping a tear from his eye with
the tip of his tail. "It is my great sorrow, and makes my life very unhappy.
But whenever there is danger, my heart begins to beat fast."
"Perhaps you have heart disease," said the Tin Woodman.
"It may be," said the Lion.
"If you have," continued the Tin Woodman, "you ought to be
glad, for it proves you have a heart. For
my part, I have no heart; so I cannot have heart disease."
"Perhaps," said the Lion thoughtfully, "if I had no heart
I should not be a coward."
"Have you brains?" asked the Scarecrow.
"I suppose so. I've
never looked to see," replied the Lion.
"I am going to the Great Oz to ask him to give me some,"
remarked the Scarecrow, "for my head is stuffed with straw."
"And I am going to ask him to give me a heart," said the
"And I am going to ask him to send Toto and me back to Kansas,"
"Do you think Oz could give me courage?" asked the Cowardly
"Just as easily as he could give me brains," said the
"Or give me a heart," said the Tin Woodman.
"Or send me back to Kansas," said Dorothy.
"Then, if you don't mind, I'll go with you," said the Lion,
"for my life is simply unbearable without a bit of courage."
"You will be very welcome," answered Dorothy, "for you
will help to keep away the other wild beasts.
It seems to me they must be more cowardly than you are if they allow you
to scare them so easily."
"They really are," said the Lion, "but that doesn't make
me any braver, and as long as I know myself to be a coward I shall be
So once more the little company set off upon the journey, the Lion
walking with stately strides at Dorothy's side.
Toto did not approve this new comrade at first, for he could not forget
how nearly he had been crushed between the Lion's great jaws.
But after a time he became more at ease, and presently Toto and the
Cowardly Lion had grown to be good friends.
During the rest of that day there was no other adventure to mar the peace
of their journey. Once, indeed, the Tin Woodman stepped upon a beetle that was
crawling along the road, and killed the poor little thing.
This made the Tin Woodman very unhappy, for he was always careful not to
hurt any living creature; and as he walked along he wept several tears of sorrow
and regret. These tears ran slowly
down his face and over the hinges of his jaw, and there they rusted.
When Dorothy presently asked him a question the Tin Woodman could not
open his mouth, for his jaws were tightly rusted together.
He became greatly frightened at this and made many motions to Dorothy to
relieve him, but she could not understand.
The Lion was also puzzled to know what was wrong. But the Scarecrow
seized the oil-can from Dorothy's basket and oiled the Woodman's jaws, so that
after a few moments he could talk as well as before.
"This will serve me a lesson," said he, "to look where I
step. For if I should kill another bug or beetle I should surely cry again, and
crying rusts my jaws so that I cannot speak."
Thereafter he walked very carefully, with his eyes on the road, and when
he saw a tiny ant toiling by he would step over it, so as not to harm it.
The Tin Woodman knew very well he had no heart, and therefore he took
great care never to be cruel or unkind to anything.
"You people with hearts," he said, "have something to
guide you, and need never do wrong; but I have no heart, and so I must be very
careful. When Oz gives me a heart of course I needn't mind so much."
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