But he never said anything, so far as
225 I can remember, about counting up to the odd number of seventeen by the even numbers of twos."
"Stop! stop!" cried the Pumpkinhead. "You're making my head ache."
"And mine," added the Scarecrow. "Your mathematics seem to me very like a bottle of mixed pickles the more you fish for what you want the less chance you have of getting it. I am certain that if the thing can be accomplished at all, it is in a very simple manner."
"Yes," said Tip. "old Mombi couldn't use x's and minuses, for she never went to school."
"Why not start counting at a half of one?" asked the Saw-Horse, abruptly. "Then anyone can count up to seventeen by twos very easily."
They looked at each other in surprise, for the Saw-Horse was considered the most stupid of the entire party.
"You make me quite ashamed of myself," said the Scarecrow, bowing low to the Saw-Horse.
"Nevertheless, the creature is right," declared the Woggle-Bug; for twice one-half is one, and if you get to one it is easy to count from one up to seventeen by twos."
"I wonder I didn't think of that myself," said the Pumpkinhead.
"I don't," returned the Scarecrow. "You're no wiser than the rest of us, are you? But let us make a wish at once. Who will swallow the first pill?"
"Suppose you do it," suggested Tip.
"I can't," said the Scarecrow.
"Why not? You've a mouth, haven't you?" asked the boy.
"Yes; but my mouth is painted on, and there's no swallow connected with it,' answered the Scarecrow. "In fact," he continued, looking from one to another critically, "I believe the boy and the Woggle-Bug are the only ones in our party that are able to swallow."
Observing the truth of this remark, Tip said:
"Then I will undertake to make the first wish. Give me one of the Silver Pills."
This the Scarecrow tried to do; but his padded gloves were too clumsy to clutch so small an object, and he held the box toward the boy while Tip selected one of the pills and swallowed it.
"Count!" cried the Scarecrow.
"One-half, one, three, five, seven, nine, eleven,!" counted Tip. thirteen, fifteen, seventeen.
"Now wish!" said the Tin Woodman anxiously:
But Just then the boy began to suffer such fearful pains that he became alarmed.
"The pill has poisoned me!" he gasped; "O -- h! O-o-o-o-o! Ouch! Murder! Fire! O-o-h!" and here he rolled upon the bottom of the nest in such contortions that he frightened them all.
"What can we do for you. Speak, I beg!" entreated the Tin Woodman, tears of sympathy running down his nickel cheeks.
"I -- I don't know!" answered Tip. "O -- h! I wish I'd never swallowed that pill!"
Then at once the pain stopped, and the boy rose to his feet again and found the Scarecrow looking with amazement at the end of the pepper-box.
"What's happened?" asked the boy, a little ashamed of his recent exhibition.
"Why, the three pills are in the box again!" said the Scarecrow.
"Of course they are," the Woggle-Bug declared. "Didn't Tip wish that he'd never swallowed one of them? Well, the wish came true, and he didn't swallow one of them. So of course they are all three in the box."
"That may be; but the pill gave me a dreadful pain, just the same," said the boy.
"Impossible!" declared the Woggle-
228 Bug. "If you have never swallowed it, the pill can not have given you a pain. And as your wish, being granted, proves you did not swallow the pill, it is also plain that you suffered no pain."
"Then it was a splendid imitation of a pain," retorted Tip, angrily. "Suppose you try the next pill yourself. We've wasted one wish already."
"Oh, no, we haven't!" protested the Scarecrow. "Here are still three pills in the box, and each pill is good for a wish."
"Now you're making my head ache," said Tip. "I can't understand the thing at all. But I won't take another pill, I promise you!" and with this remark he retired sulkily to the back of the nest.
"Well," said the Woggle-Bug, "it remains for me to save us in my most Highly Magnified and Thoroughly Educated manner; for I seem to be the only one able and willing to make a wish.