Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Brass Watch

Here is the first draft of the first chapter of The Borderlands of Oz, which I later started over from scratch and eventually retitled Outsiders from Oz. For those of you that have already read Outsiders, you can see the big difference here, and for those that haven't read it yet, it does give you an idea of how the story started.
Jellia Jamb swept the floor of the Royal Banquet Hall. The long, ornately decorated room had not been used in a long time, and even though it was in a fairyland, dust would still show up everywhere, and sometimes Jellia was even obliged to politely ask a spider to move elsewhere, having taken up residence in a corner.

Although there had been many royal banquets since Jellia had started to serve in the Palace, back when the Wizard was still ruling Oz, there had been none in the past few months. Ozma would take her meals in the dining room, as did Dorothy and many of the other residents in the Palace. No grand celebrations had been held for awhile, but everyone was still happy and contented, so no one minded much.

Jellia did not mind her tasks, and for someone who had held that position for as long as she had, it was quite a feat that Jellia did not tire of her work. After all, even though she was a servant, she considered Ozma one of her dearest friends, and of course she was fond of Princess Dorothy, as well as the other girls in the palace, Trot and Betsy Bobbin. These three were Ozma's very special friends, all having come from the Great Outside World, from a country called America. Of course Jellia's closest friend was Omby Amby, the tall soldier with the green whiskers, and it might be suspected that the two may have been the Wizard's only confidants while he ruled the Emerald City. Whether that was true or not, Jellia was friends with the Wizard, although the state of his workshop often bothered her. She also liked Cap'n Bill, and the Shaggy Man, and Button-Bright, the young boy who would disappear for sometimes months at a time but always return.

Today, however, Jellia noticed an ornamental cabinet that she had often seen but never paid much attention to. It was made of rosewood, with crystal windows, and inside were kept a few odd treasures. As Jellia looked at this, she realized that the legs of the cabinet placed it about two inches from the floor. She could not remember when she had last cleaned underneath this cabinet, so she moved it in order to sweep up any dust that had collected.

As Jellia did this, she discovered a pocket watch on the floor. She reflected sadly that she may have found it before had she cleaned underneath the cabinet earlier. She picked it up and looked at it. It appeared to be very old and plain. She pressed the catch on the side, and it sprung open. The clock had stopped a long time ago. The watch was very ordinary for a pocket watch. All the numbers were in Roman numerals, and the hands were elegantly formed. In the other side of the watch was inscribed the words, "von Smith."

"Who is von Smith?" wondered Jellia, "And how did his watch come to be here?" She put the watch in her apron pocket and finished sweeping.

After finishing her duties, she went to Ozma's throne room, where she found the girl ruler of Oz playing a game of cards with Dorothy and Button-Bright.

"Hello, Jellia," said Dorothy. "Would you like to join our game?"

"Not just now, Princess," replied the pretty maid. She took the watch out of her pocket and showed it to Ozma. "I found this in the banquet hall."

Button-Bright looked at the watch curiously. "It looks familiar," he said.

Without replying, Jellia pressed the spring that opened it.

"It belongs to a 'von Smith,'" Ozma noted.

Button-Bright's eyes brightened.

"That's it!" he exclaimed. "I brought it to Oz!"

"When did you do that?" asked Dorothy. "I don't remember seeing it."

"Oh, it was back when I first visited Oz," the boy explained. "I was much younger, but I had it with me. I kept it in my pocket." He took it out of Jellia's hands. "It actually stopped working when I dove into the Truth Pond."

"But why didn't you ever show it to me?" asked Dorothy.

"Don't know. You were older than I was then, maybe I didn't think you'd be interested. Anyways, I must have lost it when I was playing with some of the other children at the party."

"And that's how it got under the cabinet," mused Jellia. "I'm sorry I never thought to clean under that cabinet before."

"Do not worry," replied Ozma. "You did not mean to let it slip, so I do not think you were negligent in your duties."

"But where did it come from?" asked Dorothy, "And who is 'von Smith'?"

"I am, I suppose," replied Button-Bright. "I told Trot once that my full name was Saladin Paracelsus de Lambertine Evagne von Smith. The watch belonged to my father, and one day, I took it out to our backyard to play with. I tried to wind it up, but suddenly, I found myself under the tree where you found me, Dorothy, although you didn't show up until much later."

"But wasn't your father cross with you for losing it?" asked Ozma, who was interested in her young friend's story.

"He was," admitted the boy, "but he wasn't too angry. I'd been missing for a few days, and he told me I was worth more than a hundred watches, but he was sorry the watch was gone all the same. He said it had belonged to a great-great-grandfather. Maybe it was the same grandfather who had the Magic Umbrella that took me to Sky Island."

"So, it could be a magic watch?" asked Jellia, who had given the watch to Button-Bright.

"Maybe," replied the boy.

"I would like to know more about this watch," continued Ozma, "especially since it seems to be magical. You may keep it, Button-Bright, as it is yours by right and I trust you. I only ask that you be careful, as you know my feelings about magic in Oz."

"I will, Ozma," he promised, pocketing the watch.

Ozma was thoughtful for awhile.

"I'm going to send you and the Wizard to see Glinda," Ozma decided at last. "They can analyze the watch and discover its magical properties, if any."

"Now, if we can continue our game," said Dorothy, "It's your turn, Ozma."

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