Chapter 4 – The Road Through the Forest
After a few hours, the road became rough and walking became so difficult that the scarecrow often stumbled. The yellow bricks were uneven. Sometimes they were broken or even missing. Toto jumped over the holes and Dorothy walked around them. As for the scarecrow, having no brains, he walked straight ahead and stepped into the hold. He continued to fall at full length on the hard bricks. It never hurt him, however, and Dorothy picked him up and stood him on his feet again. He laughed happily at his own mistakes.
The farms were not well cared for here. There were fewer houses and fewer fruit trees. The farther they went, the more dreary and lonely the country became.
At noon, they sat down on the roadside near a little brook. Dorothy opened her basket and took out some break. She offered a piece to the scarecrow, but he refused.
“I am never hungry,” he said, “and it is a lucky thing. My mouth is only a painted mouth. If I cut a hole in my mouth so that I could eat, the straw would fall out of my head.”
Dorothy saw that this was true, so she nodded and continued to eat her bread.
“Tell me something about yourself and the country that you came from,” said the Scarecrow when she had finished her dinner. So she told him all about Kansas and how gray everything was there. She told him how the cyclone had carried her to this strange Land of Oz.
The scarecrow listened carefully and said, “I can’t understand why you wish to leave this beautiful country and go back to the dry, gray place that you call Kansas.”
“That is because you have no brains,” answered the girl. “No matter how dull and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live in our home than in any other country. Even if the other country is very beautiful. There is no place like home.”
The scarecrow sighed.
“Of course I can’t understand it,” he said. “If your heads were stuffed with straw, like mine, you would probably all live in beautiful places. Then Kansas would have no people at all. It is fortunate for Kansas that you have brains.
“Won’t you tell me a story, while we are resting?” asked the child.
The scarecrow looked at her sadly and answered,
“My live has been so short that I really don’t know anything at all. I was only created the day before yesterday. Before that, I don’t know anything. Luckily, when the farmer made my head, one of the first things he did was paint my ears. I could hear what was going on. There was another Munchkin with him, and the first thing I heard was the farmer saying, ‘How do you like those ears?’
“‘They aren’t straight,’ answered the other.
“‘Never mind,’ said the farmer. ‘They aren’t perfect, but they are ears.’ Which was true.
“‘Now I’ll make the eyes,’ said the farmer. So he painted my right eye, and as soon as it was finished, I found myself looking at him and at everything around me. This was my first glimpse of the world.
“‘That’s a pretty eye,’ said the Munchkin who was watching the farmer. ‘Blue paint is just the perfect color for eyes.’
“‘I think I’ll make the other eye a little bigger,’ said the farmer. And when the second eye was done, I could see much better than before. Then he made my nose and my mouth. But I did not speak because I didn’t know what a mouth was for. I had the fun of watching them make my body and my arms and legs. When they put my head on, at last, I felt very proud. I thought I was just as good as a man.
“‘This fellow will scare the crows,’ said the farmer. ‘He looks just like a man.’
“‘Well, he is a man,’ said the other. I agreed with him. The farmer carried me under his arm to the corn field. He put me on the tall stick where you found me. He and his friend walked away and left me alone.
“I did not like to be deserted, so I tried to walk after them. But my feet couldn’t touch the ground and I was forced to stay on that pole. It was a lonely life because I had nothing to think about. Many crows and other birds flew into the corn field. As soon as they saw me, they flew away again because they thought that I was a Munchkin. This pleased me and made me feel that I was important. After a while, an old crow flew near me. He looked at me carefully and then perched on my shoulder and said,
“‘I wonder if that farmer though he could fool me. Any smart crow can see that you are only a straw man.’ Then he hopped down at my feet and ate all the corn that he wanted. The other birds, seeing that he was not harmed by me, came to eat the corn, too. In a short time, there was a huge flock of birds around me.
“I felt sad about this because it showed that I was not a good scarecrow after all. But the old crow comforted me by saying, ‘If you only had brains in your head, you would be as good as the other men, and maybe better than some men. A brain is the most important thing in the world, whether you are a crow or a man.’
“After the crows left, I thought about this over and over. I decided that I would try hard to get some brains. By good luck, you came along and pulled me off the pole. Now I’m sure that the Great Oz will give me brains as soon as we get to the Emerald City.”
“I hope so,” Dorothy said sincerely, “because you seem anxious to get them.”
“Oh, yes. I am anxious,” said the scarecrow. “It is such an uncomfortable feeling to know that I am a fool.”
“Well,” said the girl, “let’s go.” And she handed the basket to the scarecrow.
There were no fences at all by the roadside now, and the land was rough.
Toward evening, they came to a great forest where the trees grew so big and close together that their branches met over the yellow brick road. It was very dark under the branches. But the group did not stop walking, and they continued into the forest.
“If this road goes into the forest, then it must come out of the forest,” said the scarecrow, “and because this road goes to the Emerald City, we must follow it.”
“Anyone would know that,” said Dorothy.
“Of course. That is why I know it,” said the scarecrow. “If it required brains to figure out, I couldn’t have thought it.”
After an hour or so, the light completely faded away. They stumbled along in the darkness. Dorothy could not see at all, but Toto could. Some dogs see very well in the dark. And the scarecrow declared that he could see as well as by day. So she took hold of his arm and managed to walk along.
“If you see any house or any place where we can spend the night,” she said, “you must tell me. It is very uncomfortable walking in the dark.”
Soon after, the scarecrow stopped.
“I see a little cottage to the right,” he said, “built of logs and branches. Should we stop there?”
“Yes, indeed,” answered the girl. “I am all tired out.”
So the scarecrow led her through the trees until they reached the cottage. Dorothy entered and found a bed of dried leaves in one corner. She lied down at once and soon fell asleep with Toto beside her. The scarecrow, who was never tired, stood in another corner and waited patiently until morning came.