The Road to Oz - Baum Lyman Frank - Страница 2
"Can't say, miss," he responded, sitting down upon the ground as if tired with standing. "Wasn't it here a minute ago?"
"I thought so," she answered, greatly perplexed. "And I saw the gopher holes, too, and the dead stump; but they're not here now. These roads are all strange – and what a lot of them there are! Where do you suppose they all go to?"
"Roads," observed the shaggy man, "don't go anywhere. They stay in one place, so folks can walk on them."
He put his hand in his side-pocket and drew out an apple – quick, before Toto could bite him again. The little dog got his head out this time and said "Bow-wow!" so loudly that it made Dorothy jump.
"O, Toto!" she cried; "where did you come from?"
"I brought him along," said the shaggy man.
"What for?" she asked.
"To guard these apples in my pocket, miss, so no one would steal them."
With one hand the shaggy man held the apple, which he began eating, while with the other hand he pulled Toto out of his pocket and dropped him to the ground. Of course Toto made for Dorothy at once, barking joyfully at his release from the dark pocket. When the child had patted his head lovingly, he sat down before her, his red tongue hanging out one side of his mouth, and looked up into her face with his bright brown eyes, as if asking her what they should do next.
Dorothy didn't know. She looked around her anxiously for some familiar landmark; but everything was strange. Between the branches of the many roads were green meadows and a few shrubs and trees, but she couldn't see anywhere the farm-house from which she had just come, or anything she had ever seen before – except the shaggy man and Toto. Besides this, she had turned around and around so many times trying to find out where she was, that now she couldn't even tell which direction the farm-house ought to be in; and this began to worry her and make her feel anxious.
"I'm 'fraid, Shaggy Man," she said, with a sigh, "that we're lost!"
"That's nothing to be afraid of," he replied, throwing away the core of his apple and beginning to eat another one. "Each of these roads must lead somewhere, or it wouldn't be here. So what does it matter?"
"I want to go home again," she said.
"Well, why don't you?" said he.
"I don't know which road to take."
"That is too bad," he said, shaking his shaggy head gravely. "I wish I could help you; but I can't. I'm a stranger in these parts."
"Seems as if I were, too," she said, sitting down beside him. "It's funny. A few minutes ago I was home, and I just came to show you the way to Butterfield – "
"So I shouldn't make a mistake and go there – "
"And now I'm lost myself and don't know how to get home!"
"Have an apple," suggested the shaggy man, handing her one with pretty red cheeks.
"I'm not hungry," said Dorothy, pushing it away.
"But you may be, to-morrow; then you'll be sorry you didn't eat the apple," said he.
"If I am, I'll eat the apple then," promised Dorothy.
"Perhaps there won't be any apple then," he returned, beginning to eat the red-cheeked one himself. "Dogs sometimes can find their way home better than people," he went on; "perhaps your dog can lead you back to the farm."
"Will you, Toto?" asked Dorothy.
Toto wagged his tail vigorously.
"All right," said the girl; "let's go home."
Toto looked around a minute and dashed up one of the roads.
"Good-bye, Shaggy Man," called Dorothy, and ran after Toto. The little dog pranced briskly along for some distance; when he turned around and looked at his mistress questioningly.
"Oh, don't 'spect ME to tell you anything; I don't know the way," she said. "You'll have to find it yourself."
But Toto couldn't. He wagged his tail, and sneezed, and shook his ears, and trotted back where they had left the shaggy man. From here he started along another road; then came back and tried another; but each time he found the way strange and decided it would not take them to the farm-house. Finally, when Dorothy had begun to tire with chasing after him, Toto sat down panting beside the shaggy man and gave up.
Dorothy sat down, too, very thoughtful. The little girl had encountered some queer adventures since she came to live at the farm; but this was the queerest of them all. To get lost in fifteen minutes, so near to her home and in the unromantic State of Kansas, was an experience that fairly bewildered her.
"Will your folks worry?" asked the shaggy man, his eyes twinkling in a pleasant way.
"I s'pose so," answered Dorothy with a sigh. "Uncle Henry says there's ALWAYS something happening to me; but I've always come home safe at the last. So perhaps he'll take comfort and think I'll come home safe this time."
"I'm sure you will," said the shaggy man, smilingly nodding at her. "Good little girls never come to any harm, you know. For my part, I'm good, too; so nothing ever hurts me."
Dorothy looked at him curiously. His clothes were shaggy, his boots were shaggy and full of holes, and his hair and whiskers were shaggy. But his smile was sweet and his eyes were kind.
"Why didn't you want to go to Butterfield?" she asked.
"Because a man lives there who owes me fifteen cents, and if I went to Butterfield and he saw me he'd want to pay me the money. I don't want money, my dear."
"Why not?" she inquired.
"Money," declared the shaggy man, "makes people proud and haughty. I don't want to be proud and haughty. All I want is to have people love me; and as long as I own the Love Magnet, everyone I meet is sure to love me dearly."
"The Love Magnet! Why, what's that?"
"I'll show you, if you won't tell any one," he answered, in a low, mysterious voice.
"There isn't any one to tell, 'cept Toto," said the girl.
The shaggy man searched in one pocket, carefully; and in another pocket; and in a third. At last he drew out a small parcel wrapped in crumpled paper and tied with a cotton string. He unwound the string, opened the parcel, and took out a bit of metal shaped like a horseshoe. It was dull and brown, and not very pretty.
"This, my dear," said he, impressively, "is the wonderful Love Magnet. It was given me by an Eskimo in the Sandwich Islands – where there are no sandwiches at all – and as long as I carry it every living thing I meet will love me dearly."
"Why didn't the Eskimo keep it?" she asked, looking at the Magnet with interest.
"He got tired of being loved and longed for some one to hate him. So he gave me the Magnet and the very next day a grizzly bear ate him."
"Wasn't he sorry then?" she inquired.
"He didn't say," replied the shaggy man, wrapping and tying the Love Magnet with great care and putting it away in another pocket. "But the bear didn't seem sorry a bit," he added.
"Did you know the bear?" asked Dorothy.
"Yes; we used to play ball together in the Caviar Islands. The bear loved me because I had the Love Magnet. I couldn't blame him for eating the Eskimo, because it was his nature to do so."
"Once," said Dorothy, "I knew a Hungry Tiger who longed to eat fat babies, because it was his nature to; but he never ate any because he had a Conscience."
"This bear," replied the shaggy man, with a sigh, "had no Conscience, you see."