Tip Makes an Experiment in Magic
The boy, small and rather delicate in appearance seemed somewhat embarrassed at being called "father" by the tall, awkward, pumpkinheaded man, but to deny the relationship would involve another long and tedious explanation; so he changed the subject by asking, abruptly:
"Are you tired?"
"Of course not!" replied the other. "But," he continued, after a pause, "it is quite certain I shall wear out my wooden joints if I keep on walking."
Tip reflected, as they journeyed on, that this was true. He began to regret that he had not constructed the wooden limbs more carefully and substantially. Yet how could he ever have guessed that the man he had made merely to scare old Mombi with would be brought to life by means of a magical powder contained in an old pepper-box?
So he ceased to reproach himself, and began to think how he might yet remedy the deficiencies of Jack's weak joints.
While thus engaged they came to the edge of a wood, and the boy sat down to rest upon an old sawhorse that some woodcutter had left there.
"Why don't you sit down?" he asked the Pumpkinhead.
"Won't it strain my joints?" inquired the other.
"Of course not. It'll rest them," declared the boy.
So Jack tried to sit down; but as soon as he bent his joints farther than usual they gave way altogether, and he came clattering to the ground with such a crash that Tip feared he was entirely ruined.
He rushed to the man, lifted him to his feet, straightened his arms and legs, and felt of his head to see if by chance it had become cracked. But Jack seemed to be in pretty good shape, after all, and Tip said to him:
"I guess you'd better remain standing, hereafter. It seems the safest way."
"Very well, dear father." just as you say, replied the smiling Jack, who had been in no wise confused by his tumble.
Tip sat down again. Presently the Pumpkinhead asked:
"What is that thing you are sitting on?"
"Oh, this is a horse," replied the boy, carelessly.
"What is a horse?" demanded Jack.
"A horse? Why, there are two kinds of horses," returned Tip, slightly puzzled how to explain. "One kind of horse is alive, and has four legs and a head and a tail. And people ride upon its back."
"I understand," said Jack, cheerfully "That's the kind of horse you are now sitting on."
"No, it isn't," answered Tip, promptly.
"Why not? That one has four legs, and a head, and a tail." Tip looked at the saw-horse more carefully, and found that the Pumpkinhead was right. The body had been formed from a tree-trunk, and a branch had been left sticking up at one end that looked very much like a tail. In the other end were two big knots that resembled eyes, and a place had been chopped away that might easily be mistaken for the horse's mouth. As for the legs, they were four straight limbs cut from trees and stuck fast into the body, being spread wide apart so that the saw-horse would stand firmly when a log was laid across it to be sawed.
"This thing resembles a real horse more than I imagined," said Tip, trying to explain. "But a real horse is alive, and trots and prances and eats oats, while this is nothing more than a dead horse, made of wood, and used to saw logs upon."
"If it were alive, wouldn't it trot, and prance, and eat oats?" inquired the Pumpkinhead.
"It would trot and prance, perhaps; but it wouldn't eat oats," replied the boy, laughing at the idea." And of course it can't ever be alive, because it is made of wood."
"So am I," answered the man.
Tip looked at him in surprise.
"Why, so you are!" he exclaimed. "And the magic powder that brought you to life is here in my pocket."
He brought out the pepper box, and eyed it curiously.
"I wonder," said he, musingly, "if it would bring the saw-horse to life."
"If it would," returned Jack, calmly for nothing seemed to surprise him" I could ride on its back, and that would save my joints from wearing out."
"I'll try it!" cried the boy, jumping up. "But I wonder if I can remember the words old Mombi said, and the way she held her hands up."
He thought it over for a minute, and as he had watched carefully from the hedge every motion of the old witch, and listened to her words, he believed he could repeat exactly what she had said and done.
So he began by sprinkling some of the magic Powder of Life from the pepper- box upon the body of the saw-horse. Then he lifted his left hand, with the little finger pointing upward, and said: "Weaugh!"
"What does that mean, dear father?" asked Jack, curiously.
"I don't know," answered Tip. Then he lifted his right hand, with the thumb pointing upward and said: "Teaugh!"
"What's that, dear father?" inquired Jack.
"It means you must keep quiet!" replied the boy, provoked at being interrupted at so important a moment.
"How fast I am learning!" remarked the Pumpkinhead, with his eternal smile.
Tip now lifted both hands above his head, with all the fingers and thumbs spread out, and cried in a loud voice: "Peaugh!"
Immediately the saw-horse moved, stretched its legs, yawned with its chopped-out mouth, and shook a few grains of the powder off its back. The rest of the powder seemed to have vanished into the body of the horse.
"Good!" called Jack, while the boy looked on in astonishment. "You are a very clever sorcerer, dear father!"