FictionForest

Chapter 14 – Ojo Breaks the Law

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

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“What a queer man,” remarked the Munchkin boy,
when the party had resumed its journey.

“And so nice and polite,” added Scraps, bobbing
her Lead. “I think he is the handsomest man I’ve
seen since I came to life.”

“Handsome is as handsome does,” quoted the
Shaggy Man; “but we must admit that no living
scarecrow is handsomer. The chief merit of my
friend is that he is a great thinker, and in Oz it
is considered good policy to follow his advice.”

“I didn’t notice any brains in his head,”
observed the Glass Cat.

“You can’t see ’em work, but they’re there, all
right,” declared the Shaggy Man. “I hadn’t much
confidence in his brains myself, when first I came
to Oz, for a humbug Wizard gave them to him; but I
was soon convinced that the Scarecrow is really
wise; and, unless his brains make him so, such
wisdom is unaccountable.”

“Is the Wizard of Oz a humbug?” asked Ojo.

“Not now. He was once, but he has reformed
and now assists Glinda the Good, who is the
Royal Sorceress of Oz and the only one licensed
to practice magic or sorcery. Glinda has taught
our old Wizard a good many clever things, so
he is no longer a humbug.”

They walked a little while in silence and
then Ojo said:

“If Ozma forbids the Crooked Magician to
restore Unc Nunkie to life, what shall I do?”

The Shaggy Man shook his head.

“In that case you can’t do anything,” he said.
“But don’t be discouraged yet. We will go to
Princess Dorothy and tell her your troubles, and
then we will let her talk to Ozma. Dorothy has the
kindest little heart in the world, and she has
been through so many troubles herself that she is
sure to sympathize with you.”

“Is Dorothy the little girl who came here from
Kansas?” asked the boy.

“Yes. In Kansas she was Dorothy Gale. I used to
know her there, and she brought me to the Land of
Oz. But now Ozma has made her a Princess, and
Dorothy’s Aunt Em and Uncle Henry are here, too.”
Here the Shaggy Man uttered a long sigh, and then
he continued: “It’s a queer country, this Land of
Oz; but I like it, nevertheless.”

“What is queer about it?” asked Scraps.

“You, for instance,” said he.

“Did you see no girls as beautiful as I am in
your own country?” she inquired.

“None with the same gorgeous, variegated
beauty,” he confessed. “In America a girl stuffed
with cotton wouldn’t be alive, nor would anyone
think of making a girl out of a patchwork quilt.”

“What a queer country America must be!” she
exclaimed in great surprise. “The Scarecrow, whom
you say is wise, told me I am the most beautiful
creature he has ever seen.”

“I know; and perhaps you are-from a scarecrow
point of view,” replied the Shaggy Man; but why he
smiled as he said it Scraps could not imagine.

As they drew nearer to the Emerald City the
travelers were filled with admiration for the
splendid scenery they beheld. Handsome houses
stood on both sides of the road and each had a
green lawn before it as well as a pretty flower
garden.

“In another hour,” said the Shaggy Man, “we
shall come in sight of the walls of the Royal
City.”

He was walking ahead, with Scraps, and behind
them came the Woozy and the Glass Cat. Ojo had
lagged behind, for in spite of the warnings he
had received the boy’s eyes were fastened on the
clover that bordered the road of yellow bricks and
he was eager to discover if such a thing as a
six-leaved clover really existed.

Suddenly he stopped short and bent over to
examine the ground more closely. Yes; here at last
was a clover with six spreading leaves. He counted
them carefully, to make sure. In an instant his
heart leaped with joy, for this was one of the
important things he had come for–one of the
things that would restore dear Unc Nunkie to life.

He glanced ahead and saw that none of his
companions was looking back. Neither were any
other people about, for it was midway between
two houses. The temptation was too strong to
be resisted.

“I might search for weeks and weeks, and
never find another six-leaved clover,” he told
himself, and quickly plucking the stem from the
plant he placed the prized clover in his basket,
covering it with the other things he carried
there. Then, trying to look as if nothing had
happened, he hurried forward and overtook his
comrades.

The Emerald City, which is the most splendid as
well as the most beautiful city in any fairyland,
is surrounded by a high, thick wall of green
marble, polished smooth and set with glistening
emeralds. There are four gates, one facing the
Munchkin Country, one facing the Country of the
Winkies, one facing the Country of the Quadlings
and one facing the Country of the Gillikins. The
Emerald City lies directly in the center of these
four important countries of Oz. The gates had bars
of pure gold, and on either side of each gateway
were built high towers, from which floated gay
banners. Other towers were set at distances along
the walls, which were broad enough for four people
to walk abreast upon.

This enclosure, all green and gold and
glittering with precious gems, was indeed a
wonderful sight to greet our travelers, who first
observed it from the top of a little hill; but
beyond the wall was the vast city it surrounded,
and hundreds of jeweled spires, domes and
minarets, flaunting flags and banners, reared
their crests far above the towers of the gateways.
In the center of the city our friends could see
the tops of many magnificent trees, some nearly as
tall as the spires of the buildings, and the
Shaggy Man told them that these trees were in the
royal gardens of Princess Ozma.

They stood a long time on the hilltop, feasting
their eyes on the splendor of the Emerald City.

“Whee!” exclaimed Scraps, clasping her padded
hands in ecstacy, “that’ll do for me to live in,
all right. No more of the Munchkin Country for
these patches–and no more of the Crooked
Magician!”

“Why, you belong to Dr. Pipt,” replied Ojo,
looking at her in amazement. “You were made for a
servant, Scraps, so you are personal property and
not your own mistress.”

“Bother Dr. Pipt! If he wants me, let him
come here and get me. I’ll not go back to his
den of my own accord; that’s certain. Only one
place in the Land of Oz is fit to live in, and
that’s the Emerald City. It’s lovely! It’s almost
as beautiful as I am, Ojo.”

“In this country,” remarked the Shaggy Man,
“people live wherever our Ruler tells them to. It
wouldn’t do to have everyone live in the Emerald
City, you know, for some must plow the land and
raise grains and fruits and vegetables, while
others chop wood in the forests, or fish in the
rivers, or herd the sheep and the cattle.”

“Poor things!” said Scraps.

“I’m not sure they are not happier than the city
people,” replied the Shaggy Man. “There’s a
freedom and independence in country life that not
even the Emerald City can give one. I know that
lots of the city people would like to get back to
the land. The Scarecrow lives in the country, and
so do the Tin Woodman and Jack Pumpkinhead; yet
all three would be welcome to live in Ozma’s
palace if they cared to. Too much splendor becomes
tiresome, you know. But, if we’re to reach the
Emerald City before sundown, we must hurry, for it
is yet a long way off.”

The entrancing sight of the city had put new
energy into them all and they hurried forward
with lighter steps than before. There was much
to interest them along the roadway, for the
houses were now set more closely together and
they met a good many people who were coming
or going from one place or another. All these
seemed happy-faced, pleasant people, who
nodded graciously to the strangers as they
Passed, and exchanged words of greeting.

At last they reached the great gateway, just
as the sun was setting and adding its red glow
to the glitter of the emeralds on the green walls
and spires. Somewhere inside the city a band
could be heard playing sweet music; a soft,
subdued hum, as of many voices, reached their
ears; from the neighboring yards came the low
mooing of cows waiting to be milked.

They were almost at the gate when the golden
bars slid back and a tall soldier stepped out and
faced them. Ojo thought he had never seen so
tall a man before. The soldier wore a handsome
green and gold uniform, with a tall hat in which
was a waving plume, and he had a belt thickly
encrusted with jewels. But the most peculiar
thing about him was his long green beard,
which fell far below his waist and perhaps
made him seem taller than he really was.

“Halt!” said the Soldier with the Green
Whiskers, not in a stern voice but rather in a
friendly tone.

They halted before he spoke and stood looking at
him.

“Good evening, Colonel,” said the Shaggy
Man. “What’s the news since I left? Anything
important?”

“Billina has hatched out thirteen new chickens,”
replied the Soldier with the Green Whiskers, “and
they’re the cutest little fluffy yellow balls you
ever saw. The Yellow Hen is mighty proud of those
children, I can tell you.”

“She has a right to be,” agreed the Shaggy
Man. “Let me see; that’s about seven thousand
chicks she has hatched out; isn’t it, General?”

“That, at least,” was the reply. “You will have
to visit Billina and congratulate her.”

“It will give me pleasure to do that,” said the
Shaggy Man. “But you will observe that I have
brought some strangers home with me. I am
going to take them to see Dorothy.”

“One moment, please,” said the soldier, barring
their way as they started to enter the gate. “I am
on duty, and I have orders to execute. Is anyone
in your party named Ojo the Unlucky?”

“Why, that’s me!” cried Ojo, astonished at
hearing his name on the lips of a stranger.

The Soldier with the Green Whiskers nodded. “I
thought so,” said he, “and I am sorry to announce
that it is my painful duty to arrest you.”

“Arrest me!” exclaimed the boy. “What for?”

“I haven’t looked to see,” answered the soldier.
Then he drew a paper from his breast pocket and
glanced at it. “Oh, yes; you are to be arrested
for willfully breaking one of the Laws of Oz.”

“Breaking a law!” said Scraps. “Nonsense,
Soldier; you’re joking.”

“Not this time,” returned the soldier, with a
sigh. “My dear child what are you, a rummage sale
or a guess-me quick?–in me you be hold the Body
Guard of our gracious Ruler, Princess Ozma, as
well as the Royal Army of Oz and the Police Force
of the Emerald City.”

“And only one man!” exclaimed the Patchwork Girl.

“Only one, and plenty enough. In my official
positions I’ve had nothing to do for a good many
years–so long that I began to fear I was
absolutely useless–until today. An hour ago I was
called to the presence of her Highness, Ozma of
Oz, and told to arrest a boy named Ojo the
Unlucky, who was journeying from the Munchkin
Country to the Emerald City and would arrive in a
short time. This command so astonished me that I
nearly fainted, for it is the first time anyone
has merited arrest since I can remember. You are
rightly named Ojo the Unlucky. my poor boy, since
you have broken a Law of Oz.

“But you are wrong,” said Scraps. “Ozma is
wrong–you are all wrong–for Ojo has broken no
Law.”

“Then he will soon be free again,” replied the
Soldier with the Green Whiskers. “Anyone accused
of crime is given a fair trial by our Ruler and
has every chance to prove his innocence. But just
now Ozma’s orders must be obeyed.”

With this he took from his pocket a pair of
handcuffs made of gold and set with rubies and
diamonds, and these he snapped over Ojo’s wrists.

 

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