The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – 5 – The Rescue of the Tin Man

Chapter 5 – The Rescue of the Tin Man

When Dorothy woke up, the sun was shining through the trees and Toto was outside chasing birds and squirrels. She sat up and looked around her. Scarecrow was still standing patiently in the corner, waiting for her.

“We must go and search for water,” she said to him.

“Why do you want water?” he asked.

“To wash my face and to drink.”

“It must be inconvenient to be made of flesh,” said the scarecrow thoughtfully, “because you must sleep and eat and drink. However, you have brains, and it is worth a lot of bother to be able to think properly.”

They left the cottage and walked through the trees until they found a little spring of clear water, where Dorothy drank and bathed and ate her breakfast. She saw there was not much bread left in the basket, and the girl was thankful that the scarecrow did not have to eat anything, because there was hardly enough for herself and Toto today.

When she had finished her meal, and was about to go back to the yellow brick road, she was surprised to hear a deep groan nearby.

“What was that?” she asked timidly.

“I can not imagine,” replied the scarecrow, “but we can go and see.”

They heard another groan from behind them.

They turned and walked through the forest a few steps. A ray of sunshine fell between the trees and Dorothy saw something shining in the ray. She ran over to it and then stopped. She cried out in surprise.

One of the big trees had been partly chopped through. Standing beside the tree was a man made entirely out of tin. In his hands, he had an ax lifted up high. His head, arms and legs had joints, but he stood perfectly motionless, as if he could not move at all.

Dorothy looked at him in amazement, and the scarecrow did, too. Toto barked sharply and bit the tin legs, which hurt his teeth.

“Did you groan?” asked Dorothy.

“Yes,” answered the tin man, “I did. I’ve been groaning for more than a year, and no one has ever heard me before or come to help me.”

“What can I do for you?” she asked softly, because she was moved by the tin man’s sad voice.

“Get an oil can and oil my joints,” he answered. “They are rusted so badly that I can not move them at all. If I am well oiled, I will soon be alright again. You can find an oil can on a shelf in my cottage.”

At once, Dorothy ran back to the cottage and found the oil can. She returned and asked anxiously, “Where are your joints?”

“Oil my neck, first,” replied the tin man. So she oiled it. It was badly rusted, so the scarecrow took hold of the tin head and moved it gently from side to side. He moved it until it turned smoothly and the tin man could turn it himself.

“Now oil the joints in my arms,” he said. And Dorothy oiled them and the scarecrow bent them carefully until they were free from rust.

The tin man sighed with satisfaction and lowered his ax. He leaned the ax against the tree.

“This is a great comfort,” he said. “I have been holding that ax in the air since I rusted, and I am glad to put it down at last. Now, if you oil the joints of my legs, I will be all fixed.”

So they oiled his legs until he could move them freely. He thanked them again and again. He seemed to be a polite creature, and very grateful.

I might have stood here forever if you hadn’t helped me,” he said, “so you have saved my life. How did you happen to be here?”

“We are on our way to the Emerald City to see the Great Oz,” she answered, “an we stopped at your cottage to spend the night.”

“Why do you wish to see Oz?” he asked.

“I want him to send me back to Kansas, and the scarecrow wants him to put a brain into his head,” she replied.

The tin man seemed to think deeply for a moment. Then he said,

“Do you suppose Oz could give me a heart?”

“Well, I guess so,” Dorothy answered. “It would be as easy as to give the scarecrow a brain.”

“True,” said the tin man. “So, if you allow me to join your party, I will also go to the Emerald City and ask Oz to help me.”

“Come along,” said the scarecrow heartily, and Dorothy added that she would be happy for him to join. So the tin man put his ax over his shoulder and they all walked back to the yellow brick road.

The tin man asked Dorothy to put the oil can in her basket. “Because,” he said, “if I get caught in the rain and rust again, I would need the oil can badly.”

It was good luck to have their new friend join the party because soon after they had begun their journey again, they came to a problem. The trees and branches grew so thickly over the road that the group could not pass. But the tin man got to work with his ax and chopped so well that he soon cleared the path.

They continued walking. Dorothy was so lost in thought that she did not notice when the scarecrow stumbled into a hole and got stuck. He had to call to her for help.

“Why didn’t you walk around the hole?” asked the tin man.

“I don’t know enough,” replied the scarecrow cheerfully. “My head is stuffed with straw, you know, and that is why I am going to Oz to ask him for a brain.”

“Oh, I see,” said the tin man. “But, after all, brains are not the best things in the world.”

“Do you have a brain?” asked the scarecrow.

“No, my head is empty,” answered the tin man. “But before, I had a brain and a heart also. So, having tried them both, I think having a heart is better.”

“And why is that?” asked the scarecrow.

“I will tell you my story, and then you will know.”

So while they were walking through the forest, the tin man told the following story:

“My father was a woodcutter who chopped down trees in the forest and sold the wood for money. When I grew up, I became a woodcutter, too. After my father died, I took care of my old mother as long as she lived. Then, I decided that instead of living alone, I would marry, so that I don’t become lonely.

“There was a beautiful Munchkin girl that I loved with all my heart. She promised to marry me as soon as I could make enough money to build a better house for her, so I got to work harder than ever. But the girl lived with an old woman who did not want her to marry anyone. The old woman was lazy, so she wanted the girl to remain with her to cook and clean. So the old woman went to the Wicked Witch of the East and made a deal. She promised to give two sheep and a cow if the witch prevented the marriage. The witch enchanted my ax. So when I was chopping hard one day (I was always chopping hard because I was anxious to get a new house and get married as soon as possible) the ax slipped out of my hands and cut off my left leg.

“This was a great misfortune, because I knew a one-legged man could not do a good job as a woodcutter. So I went to a tin smith and he made me a new leg out of tin. The leg worked very well, once I was used to it. But my action angered the Wicked Witch of the East, because she had promised the old woman that I would not marry the pretty Munchkin girl. When I began chopping again, my ax slipped and cut off my right leg. Again, I went to the tin smith and again, he made me a leg out of tin. After this, the enchanted ax cut off my arms, one after the other. I wasn’t daunted and I had them replaced with tin ones. The Wicked Witch then made the ax slip and cut off my head. At first, I thought that was the end of me, but the tin smith happed to come along and he made a new head out of tin.

“I thought I had beaten the Wicked Witch then, and I worked harder than ever. But I didn’t know how cruel my enemy was. She thought of a new way to kill my love for the beautiful Munchkin girl. She made my ax slip again so that it cut right through my body, splitting me into two. Once more, the tin smith helped me and made me a body of tin. But, oh. I had no heart now, so I lost all my love for the Munchkin girl and I did not care whether I married her or not. I suppose she is still living with the old woman and waiting for me to come.

“My body shined so brightly in the sun that I felt very proud of it. It didn’t matter if my ax slipped because it could not cut me. There was only one danger – that my joints could rust, but I kept an oil can in my cottage and took care to oil myself whenever I needed it. However, one day, I forgot to do this. And, being caught in a rainstorm, before I thought of the danger, my joints had rusted. There was nothing I could do except to stand and wait. It was a terrible thing to experience, but during the year that I stood there, I had time to think about my greatest loss: my heart. While I was in love, I was the happiest man on earth. But if you don’t have a heart, you can’t love. I must ask Oz to give me a heart. If he does, I will go back to the Munchkin girl and marry her.”

Both Dorothy and the scarecrow had been greatly interested in the story of the tin man and now they knew why he was so anxious to get a new heart.

“All the same,” said the scarecrow. “I will ask for brains instead of a heart. A fool would not know what to do with a heart.”

“I will take the heart,” said the tin man, “because brains do not make people happy, and happiness is the most important thing in the world.”

Dorothy did not say anything. She didn’t know whose idea was right. She decided that if she could get back to Kansas and Aunt Em, it did not matter whether the tin man was brainless or the scarecrow was heartless, as long as they got what they wanted.

She was worried that most of the bread was gone. One more meal for herself and Toto would empty the basket. The tin man and the scarecrow never ate anything, but she was not made of tin or straw, and she could not live without food.


Published by Judy Shinohara

Hello! I’m Judy, living in Osaka! I love teaching English to my students. In my free time, I enjoy simple gardening, reading and writing, art, and watching Netflix.

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