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From: "William H. Ansley" <wansley@warwick.net>
Subject: (urth) Ozflash Revised, Part 4
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 1999 23:59:28 

The New Improved Wonderful Eyeflash of Oz
Oz References in "The Eyeflash Miracles" Part 4

Little Tib, Nitty and Mr. Parker are picked up while hitchhiking by the
driver of an old school bus which has been converted into a temple of the
god Deva. The driver's name is Dr. Prithivi. He is a "Doctor of Divinity of
the University of Bombay."

The bus stops at a "road-side park" which has a "lookout point" from which
you can see "parts of seven counties." Dr. Prithivi comments on how he once
saw a leopard at a summer cottage his family rented in the Himalayas.

Hearing this, Little Tib tries to remember what a leopard looks like but
cannot. He then tries to visualize a cat. At first he cannot, but then he
succeeds and an image appears in front of him. But it is not a cat, but a
lion standing on its hind legs with a red ribbon knotted in its mane. It is
dancing and Little Tib joins it in the dance. After he has danced for some
time he is grabbed from behind by many hands. He realizes that he has been
dancing in the air over the lookout point, with a very long drop below him.

I am counting this event as the third miracle. The lion Little Tib sees is
almost certainly the Cowardly Lion from the movie _The Wizard of Oz_, at
least in part. The lion's face starts out as a "kindly blur" and as they
dance it becomes "clearer and clearer" until "it was a funny, friendly,
frightening face." This certainly could be a description of Bert Lahr's
lion makeup in the movie. After he got spruced up in the Emerald City, the
Cowardly Lion did have a red ribbon in his mane[16]. The Cowardly Lion in
the books also wore one or more ribbons but he was always described as
walking on all fours like a real lion, so the dancing lion seems closer to
the movie version. However the dancing lion never speaks and the Cowardly
Lion doesn't dance in the books and the dancing he does in the movie is
quite different from the dancing Little Tib's lion does, so the fit is not

Later, when Little Tib described what he thought was happening when the
other people at the lookout point (there was a small crowd of them) saw him
dancing on the air by himself, Dr. Prithivi decided that the lion might be
Vishnu in his lion-headed form. There was a picture of Vishnu portrayed
this way, destroying the demon Hiranyakasipu, painted on Dr. Prithivi's
bus. Since Little Tib's lion was dancing to Indian flute music, this also
seems to be a valid interpretation. Dr. Prithivi goes on to list other
"significations" of the lion: among the Jews, an emblem of the tribe of
Judah; in Islam, the son-in-law of Mohammed was known as the Lion of God;
in Christianity, a winged lion is the badge of St. Mark and one without
wings indicates Christ. When Dr. Prithivi asks Little Tib, "George, when
you were dancing with the lion man, did you perhaps feel him to be the
god?" Little Tib replies, "No, an angel."

Dr. Prithivi takes Little Tib to his bus/temple and asks him to pray to
Deva. While Little Tib tries to do this he thinks about the rocks he might
have fallen on when he was in the air. He dreams of a rocky land where
nothing grows. It is sunny and very hot and when he finds a cave he goes
into it to try to escape the heat. But even though it is dark in the cave
it gets hotter and hotter. Little Tib hears a tapping sound like a bag of
marbles poured out, bouncing, onto a stone floor and stops to listen. He is
captured by small, grotesque-looking men with torches and axes[17]. They
are gnomes[18]. They take him before the Gnome King in his throne room,
which is full of gold and jewels. Little Tib and the Gnome King have this
exchange. The Gnome King speaks first.

"You have trespassed my dominions," he said. "How do you plead?" He looked
like the other gnomes, but thinner and meaner.
  "For mercy," Little Tib said.
  "Then you are guilty?"
  Little Tib shook his head.
  "You have to be. Only the guilty can plead for mercy."
  "You are supposed to forgive trespasses," Little Tib said, and as soon as
he had said that, all the bright lamps in the throne room went out.

At this point Little Tib escapes. He finds his way to a lighted area with
trees and grass and thinks he is outside for a moment. Then he notices that
the trees are made of silver with gold leaves, the grass is a carpet of
green gems and the sky is a vault of stone. Mechanical birds sing and fly
about. The light comes from the trees somehow.

Little Tib is very thirsty by this time and nearly cries when he sees there
is no water in the cave. Then he notices the trees have gold fruit. He
picks one. It is the size of a grapefruit and he finds that he can unscrew
it into two halves. Inside is a meal that is too hot to eat. Little Tib
finally finds a container of scalding tea and he is so thirsty he tries to
drink some, even though it blisters his lips.

Suddenly he is in the dark again, except for a small spot of light. He
hears the tapping noise again and realizes this time that it is the
pounding of hundreds and hundreds of picks. The gnomes are digging for gold
in their mines. He sees the gnomes coming for him from the lighted area and
he wakes up.

The nomes are introduced in _Ozma of Oz_. The land outside the Nome King's
cave is very much as Wolfe describes it. Baum's Nome King's throne room is
similar to Wolfe's description, but there are differences. Baum's nomes are
constantly digging with picks and shovels when they are not smelting gold
or hammering it in their smithies. They only stop when the Nome King needs
them to serve as soldiers.

The Metal Forest is described in _Tik-Tok of Oz_ (Chapter 19, "King
Kaliko"). It is a sort of treasury for the nomes. Again some details differ
from Wolfe's description[19]. The major one is that the cave of the Metal
Forest also contains living trees called Hotel Trees which bear
Three-Course Nuts (described in Chapter 22: "Kindly Kisses"). The fruits
are cocoanut-sized and unscrew into three sections (soup, main course and
dessert) but they are obviously the source of Little Tib's golden fruit.

The constant heat in Little Tib's dream was apparently due to his fever and
he probably dreamed of drinking the scalding tea when Nitty was giving him
his medicine with ice water.

William Ansley

[16] In the Oz movie, the ribbon in the Cowardly Lion's mane was red. In
the book _Ozma of Oz_ the Lion had a blue ribbon tied in a bow in his mane
(in Chapter 8: "The Hungry Tiger"). Somewhat surprisingly, the color of
this ribbon has no significance in the book.

[17] The description of the gnomes is based mostly on the illustrations in
the book, as before.

[18] Baum consistently used the spelling 'nome' because he thought the word
gnome with its silent 'g' would be too hard for a child reading the Oz
books to himself. (Thank you, alga.) Wolfe "corrected" nome to gnome.

[19] Baum's metal trees are all gold and the underbrush is silver. There
are no mechanical birds in Baum's Metal Forest, but in the twelfth Oz book,
_The Tin Woodman of Oz_ (Chapter 3, "Roundabout") the Tin Woodman has tin
mechanical (clockwork) birds in the tin garden near his tin palace in the
Country of the Winkies.

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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