FictionForest

Chapter 1 – Ojo and Unc Nunkie

L. Frank BaumOct 04, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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“Where’s the butter, Unc Nunkie?” asked Ojo.

Unc looked out of the window and stroked his
long beard. Then he turned to the Munchkin boy and
shook his head.

“Isn’t,” said he.

“Isn’t any butter? That’s too bad, Unc. Where’s
the jam then?” inquired Ojo, standing on a stool
so he could look through all the shelves of the
cupboard. But Unc Nunkie shook his head again.

“Gone,” he said.

“No jam, either? And no cake–no jelly–no
apples–nothing but bread?”

“All,” said Unc, again stroking his beard as he
gazed from the window.

The little boy brought the stool and sat be side
his uncle, munching the dry bread slowly and
seeming in deep thought.

“Nothing grows in our yard but the bread
tree,” he mused, “and there are only two more
loaves on that tree; and they’re not ripe yet. Tell
me, Unc; why are we so poor?”

The old Munchkin turned and looked at Ojo. He
had kindly eyes, but he hadn’t smiled or laughed
in so long that the boy had forgotten that Unc
Nunkie could look any other way than solemn. And
Unc never spoke any more words than he was obliged
to, so his little nephew, who lived alone with
him, had learned to understand a great deal from
one word.

“Why are we so poor, Unc?” repeated the

“Not,” said the old Munchkin.

“I think we are,” declared Ojo. “What have we
got?”

“House,” said Unc Nunkie.

“I know; but everyone in the Land of Oz
has a place to live. What else, Unc?”

“Bread.”

“I’m eating the last loaf that’s ripe. There;
I’ve put aside your share, Unc. It’s on the table,
so you can eat it when you get hungry. But when
that is gone, what shall we eat, Unc?”

The old man shifted in his chair but merely
shook his head.

“Of course,” said Ojo, who was obliged to talk
because his uncle would not, “no one starves in
the Land of Oz, either. There is plenty for
everyone, you know; only, if it isn’t just where
you happen to be, you must go where it is.”

The aged Munchkin wriggled again and stared at
his small nephew as if disturbed by his argument.

“By tomorrow morning,” the boy went on, we must
go where there is something to eat, or we shall
grow very hungry and become very unhappy.”

“Where?” asked Unc.

“Where shall we go? I don’t know, I’m sure,”
replied Ojo. “But you must know, Unc. You must
have traveled, in your time, because you’re so
old. I don’t remember it, because ever since I
could remember anything we’ve lived right here in
this lonesome, round house, with a little garden
back of it and the thick woods all around. All
I’ve ever seen of the great Land of Oz, Unc dear,
is the view of that mountain over at the south,
where they say the Hammerheads live–who won’t let
anybody go by them–and that mountain at the
north, where they say nobody lives.”

“One,” declared Unc, correcting him.

“Oh, yes; one family lives there, I’ve heard.
That’s the Crooked Magician, who is named
Dr. Pipt, and his wife Margolotte. One year you
told me about them; I think it took you a whole
year, Unc, to say as much as I’ve just said about
the Crooked Magician and his wife. They live
high up on the mountain, and the good Munchkin
Country, where the fruits and flowers grow, is
just the other side. It’s funny you and I should
live here all alone, in the middle of the forest,
Isn’t it?”

“Yes,” said Unc.

“Then let’s go away and visit the Munchkin
Country and its jolly, good-natured people. I’d
love to get a sight of something besides woods,
Unc Nunkie.”

“Too little,” said Unc.

“Why, I’m not so little as I used to be,”
answered the boy earnestly. “I think I can walk
as far and as fast through the woods as you
can, Unc. And now that nothing grows in our
back yard that is good to eat, we must go where
there is food.”

Unc Nunkie made no reply for a time. Then
he shut down the window and turned his chair
to face the room, for the sun was sinking behind
the tree-tops and it was growing cool.

By and by Ojo lighted the fire and the logs
blazed freely in the broad fireplace. The two sat
in the firelight a long time–the old, white-
bearded Munchkin and the little boy. Both were
thinking. When it grew quite dark out-side, Ojo
said:

“Eat your bread, Unc, and then we will go to
bed.”

But Unc Nunkie did not eat the bread; neither
did he go directly to bed. Long after his little
nephew was sound asleep in the corner of the room
the old man sat by the fire, thinking.

 

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