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Chapter 5 – The Roses Repulse the Refugees

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

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Gently the raft grated on the sandy beach. Then
Betsy easily waded ashore, the mule following
closely behind her. The sun was now shining and
the air was warm and laden with the fragrance of
roses.

“I’d like some breakfast, Hank,” remarked the
girl, feeling more cheerful now that she was on
dry land; “but we can’t eat the flowers, although
they do smell mighty good.”

“Hee-haw!” replied Hank and trotted up a little
pathway to the top of the bank.

Betsy followed and from the eminence looked
around her. A little way off stood a splendid big
greenhouse, its thousands of crystal panes
glittering in the sunlight.

“There ought to be people somewhere ’round,”
observed Betsy thoughtfully; “gardeners, or
somebody. Let’s go and see, Hank. I’m getting
hungrier ev’ry minute.”

So they walked toward the great greenhouse and
came to its entrance without meeting with anyone
at all. A door stood ajar, so Hank went in first,
thinking if there was any danger he could back out
and warn his companion. But Betsy was close at his
heels and the moment she entered was lost in
amazement at the wonderful sight she saw.

The greenhouse was filled with magnificent
rosebushes, all growing in big pots. On the
central stem of each bush bloomed a splendid Rose,
gorgeously colored and deliciously fragrant, and
in the center of each Rose was the face of a
lovely girl.

As Betsy and Hank entered, the heads of the
Roses were drooping and their eyelids were closed
in slumber; but the mule was so amazed that he
uttered a loud “Hee-haw!” and at the sound of his
harsh voice the rose leaves fluttered, the Roses
raised their heads and a hundred startled eyes
were instantly fixed upon the intruders.

“I–I beg your pardon!” stammered Betsy,
blushing and confused.

“O-o-o-h!” cried the Roses, in a sort of sighing
chorus; and one of them added: “What a horrid
noise!”

“Why, that was only Hank,” said Betsy, and as if
to prove the truth of her words the mule uttered
another loud “Hee-haw!”

At this all the Roses turned on their stems as
far as they were able and trembled as if some one
were shaking their hushes. A dainty Moss Rose
gasped: “Dear me! How dreadfully dreadful!”

“It isn’t dreadful at all,” said Betsy, somewhat
indignant. “When you get used to Hank’s voice it
will put you to sleep.”

The Roses now looked at the mule less fearfully
and one of them asked:

“Is that savage beast named Hank?”

“Yes; Hank’s my comrade, faithful and true,
answered the girl, twining her arms around the
little mule’s neck and hugging him tight. “Aren’t
you, Hank?”

Hank could only say in reply: “Hee-haw!” and at
his bray the Roses shivered again.

“Please go away!” begged one. “Can’t you see
you’re frightening us out of a week’s growth?”

“Go away!” echoed Betsy. “Why, we’ve no place to
go. We’ve just been wrecked.”

“Wrecked?” asked the Roses in a surprised
chorus.

“Yes; we were on a big ship and the storm came
and wrecked it,” explained the girl. “But Hank and
I caught hold of a raft and floated ashore to this
place, and–we’re tired and hungry. What country
is this, please?”

“This is the Rose Kingdom,” replied the Moss
Rose, haughtily, “and it is devoted to the culture
of the rarest and fairest Roses grown.”

“I believe it,” said Betsy, admiring the pretty
blossoms.

“But only Roses are allowed here,” continued a
delicate Tea Rose, bending her brows in a frown;
“therefore you must go away before the Royal
Gardener finds you and casts you back into the
sea.”

“Oh! Is there a Royal Gardener, then?” inquired
Betsy.

“To be sure.

“And is he a Rose, also?”

“Of course not; he’s a man–a wonderful man,”
was the reply.

“Well, I’m not afraid of a man,” declared the
girl, much relieved, and even as she spoke the
Royal Gardener popped into the greenhouse–a
spading fork in one hand and a watering pot in the
other.

He was a funny little man, dressed in a rose-
colored costume, with ribbons at his knees and
elbows, and a bunch of ribbons in his hair. His
eyes were small and twinkling, his nose sharp and
his face puckered and deeply lined.

“O-ho!” he exclaimed, astonished to find
strangers in his greenhouse, and when Hank gave a
loud bray the Gardener threw the watering pot over
the mule’s head and danced around with his fork,
in such agitation that presently he fell over the
handle of the implement and sprawled at full
length upon the ground.

Betsy laughed and pulled the watering pot off
from Hank’s head. The little mule was angry at the
treatment he had received and backed toward the
Gardener threateningly.

“Look out for his heels!” called Betsy warningly
and the Gardener scrambled to his feet and hastily
hid behind the Roses.

“You are breaking the Law!” he shouted, sticking
out his head to glare at the girl and the mule.

“What Law?” asked Betsy.

“The Law of the Rose Kingdom. No strangers
are allowed in these domains.”

“Not when they’re shipwrecked?” she inquired.

“The Law doesn’t except shipwrecks,” replied
the Royal Gardener, and he was about to say
more when suddenly there was a crash of glass
and a man came tumbling through the roof of
the greenhouse and fell plump to the ground.

 

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