FictionForest

Chapter 6 – Shaggy Seeks his Stray Brother

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

Light off Small Medium Large

This sudden arrival was a queer looking man,
dressed all in garments so shaggy that Betsy at
first thought he must he some animal. But the
stranger ended his fall in a sitting position and
then the girl saw it was really a man. He held an
apple in his hand, which he had evidently been
eating when he fell, and so little was he jarred
or flustered by the accident that he continued to
munch this apple as he calmly looked around him.

“Good gracious!” exclaimed Betsy, approaching
him. “Who are you, and where did you come from?”

“Me? Oh, I’m Shaggy Man,” said he, taking
another bite of the apple. “Just dropped in for a
short call. Excuse my seeming haste.”

“Why, I s’pose you couldn’t help the haste,”
said Betsy.

“No. I climbed an apple tree, outside; branch
gave way and–here I am.”

As he spoke the Shaggy Man finished his apple,
gave the core to Hank–who ate it greedily –and
then stood up to bow politely to Betsy and the
Roses.

The Royal Gardener had been frightened nearly
into fits by the crash of glass and the fall of
the shaggy stranger into the bower of Roses, but
now he peeped out from behind a bush and cried in
his squeaky voice:

“You’re breaking the Law! You’re breaking the
Law!”

Shaggy stared at him solemnly.

“Is the glass the Law in this country?” he
asked.

“Breaking the glass is breaking the Law,”
squeaked the Gardener, angrily. “Also, to intrude
in any part of the Rose Kingdom is breaking the
Law.”

“How do you know?” asked Shaggy.

“Why, it’s printed in a book,” said the
Gardener, coming forward and taking a small book
from his pocket. “Page thirteen. Here it is: ‘If
any stranger enters the Rose Kingdom he shall at
once be condemned by the Ruler and put to death.’
So you see, strangers,’ he continued triumphantly,
“it’s death for you all and your time has come!”

But just here Hank interposed. He had been
stealthily backing toward the Royal Gardener, whom
he disliked, and now the mule’s heels shot out and
struck the little man in the middle. He doubled up
like the letter “U” and flew out of the door so
swiftly–never touching the ground –that he was
gone before Betsy had time to wink.

But the mule’s attack frightened the girl.

“Come,” she whispered, approaching the Shaggy
Man and taking his hand; “let’s go somewhere else.
They’ll surely kill us if we stay here!”

“Don’t worry, my dear,” replied Shaggy, patting
the child’s head. “I’m not afraid of anything, so
long as I have the Love Magnet.”

“The Love Magnet! Why, what is that?” asked
Betsy.

“It’s a charming little enchantment that wins
the heart of everyone who looks upon it,” was
the reply. “The Love Magnet used to hang over
the gateway to the Emerald City, in the Land
of Oz; but when I started on this journey our
beloved Ruler, Ozma of Oz, allowed me to take
it with me.”

“Oh!” cried Betsy, staring hard at him; “are
you really from the wonderful Land of Oz?”

“Yes. Ever been there, my dear?”

“No; but I’ve heard about it. And do you know
Princess Ozma?”

“Very well indeed.”

“And–and Princess Dorothy?”

“Dorothy’s an old chum of mine,” declared
Shaggy.

“Dear me!” exclaimed Betsy. “And why did
you ever leave such a beautiful land as Oz?”

“On an errand,” said Shaggy, looking sad and
solemn. “I’m trying to find my dear little
brother.”

“Oh! Is he lost?” questioned Betsy, feeling
very sorry for the poor man.

“Been lost these ten years, replied Shaggy,
taking out a handkerchief and wiping a tear from
his eye. “I didn’t know it until lately, when I
saw it recorded in the magic Record Book of
the Sorceress Glinda, in the Land of Oz. So
now I’m trying to find him.”

“Where was he lost?” asked the girl
sympathetically.

“Back in Colorado, where I used to live before I
went to Oz. Brother was a miner, and dug gold out
of a mine. One day he went into his mine and never
came out. They searched for him, but he was not
there. Disappeared entirely,” Shaggy ended
miserably.

“For goodness sake! What do you s’pose became of
him?” she asked.

“There is only one explanation,” replied
Shaggy, taking another apple from his pocket
and eating it to relieve his misery. “The Nome
King probably got him.”

“The Nome King! Who is he?”

“Why, he’s sometimes called the Metal Monarch,
and his name is Ruggedo. Lives in some underground
cavern. Claims to own all the metals hidden in the
earth. Don’t ask my why.”

“Why?”

“Cause I don’t know. But this Ruggedo gets
wild with anger if anyone digs gold out of the
earth, and my private opinion is that he captured
brother and carried him off to his underground
kingdom. No–don’t ask me why. I see you’re
dying to ask me why. But I don’t know.”

“But–dear me!–in that case you will never
find your lost brother!” exclaimed the girl.

“Maybe not; but it’s my duty to try,” answered
Shaggy. “I’ve wandered so far without finding
him, but that only proves he is not where I’ve
been looking. What I seek now is the hidden
passage to the underground cavern of the terrible
Metal Monarch.”

“Well,” said Betsy doubtfully, “it strikes me
that if you ever manage to get there the Metal
Monarch will make you, too, his prisoner.”

“Nonsense!” answered Shaggy, carelessly.
“You mustn’t forget the Love Magnet.”

“What about it?” she asked.

“When the fierce Metal Monarch sees the Love
Magnet, he will love me dearly and do anything I
ask.”

“It must be wonderful,” said Betsy, with awe.

“It is,” the man assured her. “Shall I show it
to you?”

“Oh, do!” she cried; so Shaggy searched in his
shaggy pocket and drew out a small silver magnet,
shaped like a horseshoe.

The moment Betsy saw it she began to like the
Shaggy Man better than before. Hank also saw
the Magnet and crept up to Shaggy to rub his
head lovingly against the man’s knee.

But they were interrupted by the Royal Gardener,
who stuck his head into the greenhouse and shouted
angrily:

“You are all condemned to death! Your only
chance to escape is to leave here instantly.”

This startled little Betsy, but the Shaggy Man
merely waved the Magnet toward the Gardener, who,
seeing it, rushed forward and threw himself at
Shaggy’s feet, murmuring in honeyed words:

“Oh, you lovely, lovely man! How fond I am of
you! Every shag and bobtail that decorates you is
dear to me–all I have is yours! But for goodness’
sake get out of here before you die the death.”

“I’m not going to die,” declared Shaggy Man.

“You must. It’s the Law,” exclaimed the
Gardener, beginning to weep real tears. “It breaks
my heart to tell you this bad news, but the Law
says that all strangers must be condemned by the
Ruler to die the death.”

“No Ruler has condemned us yet,” said Betsy.

“Of course not,” added Shaggy. “We haven’t
even seen the Ruler of the Rose Kingdom.”

“Well, to tell the truth,” said the Gardener, in
a perplexed tone of voice, “we haven’t any real
Ruler, just now. You see, all our Rulers grow on
bushes in the Royal Gardens, and the last one we
had got mildewed and withered before his time. So
we had to plant him, and at this time there is no
one growing on the Royal Bushes who is ripe enough
to pick.”

“How do you know?” asked Betsy.

“Why, I’m the Royal Gardener. Plenty of
royalties are growing, I admit; but just now they
are all green. Until one ripens, I am supposed to
rule the Rose Kingdom myself, and see that its
Laws are obeyed. Therefore, much as I love you,
Shaggy, I must put you to death.”

“Wait a minute,” pleaded Betsy. “I’d like to
see those Royal Gardens before I die.”

“So would I,” added Shaggy Man. “Take us there,
Gardener.”

“Oh, I can’t do that,” objected the Gardener.
But Shaggy again showed him the Love Magnet
and after one glance at it the Gardener could
no longer resist.

He led Shaggy, Betsy and Hank to the end
of the great greenhouse and carefully unlocked
a small door. Passing through this they came
into the splendid Royal Garden of the Rose
Kingdom.

It was all surrounded by a tall hedge and within
the enclosure grew several enormous rosebushes
having thick green leaves of the texture of
velvet. Upon these bushes grew the members of the
Royal Family of the Rose Kingdom–men, women and
children in all stages of maturity. They all
seemed to have a light green hue, as if unripe or
not fully developed, their flesh and clothing
being alike green. They stood perfectly lifeless
upon their branches, which swayed softly in the
breeze, and their wide open eyes stared straight
ahead, unseeing and unintelligent.

While examining these curious growing people,
Betsy passed behind a big central bush and at once
uttered an exclamation of surprise and pleasure.
For there, blooming in perfect color and shape,
stood a Royal Princess, whose beauty was amazing.

“Why, she’s ripe!” cried Betsy, pushing aside
some of the broad leaves to observe her more
clearly.

“Well, perhaps so,” admitted the Gardener,
who had come to the girl’s side; “but she’s a girl,
and so we can’t use her for a Ruler.”

“No, indeed!” came a chorus of soft voices,
and looking around Betsy discovered that all the
Roses had followed them from the greenhouse
and were now grouped before the entrance.

“You see,” explained the Gardener, “the subjects
of Rose Kingdom don’t want a girl Ruler. They want
a King.”

“A King! We want a King!” repeated the
chorus of Roses.

“Isn’t she Royal?” inquired Shaggy, admiring
the lovely Princess.

“Of course, for she grows on a Royal Bush.
This Princess is named Ozga, as she is a distant
cousin of Ozma of Oz; and, were she but a man,
we would joyfully hail her as our Ruler.”

The Gardener then turned away to talk with
his Roses and Betsy whispered to her companion:
“Let’s pick her, Shaggy.”

“All right,” said he. “If she’s royal, she has
the right to rule this Kingdom, and if we pick
her she will surely protect us and prevent our
being hurt, or driven away.”

So Betsy and Shaggy each took an arm of the
beautiful Rose Princess and a little twist of her
feet set her free of the branch upon which she
grew. Very gracefully she stepped down from
the bush to the ground, where she bowed low
to Betsy and Shaggy and said in a delightfully
sweet voice: “I thank you.”

But at the sound of these words the Gardener and
the Roses turned and discovered that the Princess
had been picked, and was now alive. Over every
face flashed an expression of resentment and
anger, and one of the Roses cried aloud.

“Audacious mortals! What have you done?”

“Picked a Princess for you, that’s all,” replied
Betsy, cheerfully.

“But we won’t have her! We want a King!”
exclaimed a Jacque Rose, and another added with a
voice of scorn: “No girl shall rule over us!”

The newly-picked Princess looked from one to
another of her rebellious subjects in
astonishment. A grieved look came over her
exquisite features.

“Have I no welcome here, pretty subjects?” she
asked gently. “Have I not come from my Royal Bush
to be your Ruler?”

“You were picked by mortals, without our
consent,” replied the Moss Rose, coldly; “so we
refuse to allow you to rule us.”

“Turn her out, Gardener, with the others!” cried
the Tea Rose.

“Just a second, please!” called Shaggy, taking
the Love Magnet from his pocket. “I guess this
will win their love, Princess. Here–take it in
your hand and let the roses see it.”

Princess Ozga took the Magnet and held it
poised before the eyes of her subjects; but the
Roses regarded it with calm disdain.

“Why, what’s the matter?” demanded Shaggy in
surprise. “The Magnet never failed to work
before!”

“I know,” said Betsy, nodding her head wisely.
“These Roses have no hearts.”

“That’s it,” agreed the Gardener. “They’re
pretty, and sweet, and alive; but still they are
Roses. Their stems have thorns, but no hearts.”

The Princess sighed and handed the Magnet
to the Shaggy Man.

“What shall I do?” she asked sorrowfully.

“Turn her out, Gardener, with the others!”
commanded the Roses. “We will have no Ruler until
a man-rose–a King–is ripe enough to pick.”

“Very well,” said the Gardener meekly. “You must
excuse me, my dear Shaggy, for opposing your
wishes, but you and the others, including Ozga,
must get out of Rose Kingdom immediately, if not
before.”

“Don’t you love me, Gardy?” asked Shaggy,
carelessly displaying the Magnet.

“I do. I dote on thee!” answered the Gardener
earnestly; “but no true man will neglect his duty
for the sake of love. My duty is to drive you out,
so–out you go!”

With this he seized a garden fork and began
jabbing it at the strangers, in order to force them
to leave. Hank the mule was not afraid of the
fork and when he got his heels near to the
Gardener the man fell back to avoid a kick.

But now the Roses crowded around the outcasts
and it was soon discovered that beneath their
draperies of green leaves were many sharp thorns
which were more dangerous than Hank’s heels.
Neither Betsy nor Ozga nor Shaggy nor the mule
cared to brave those thorns and when they pressed
away from them they found themselves slowly
driven through the garden door into the
greenhouse. From there they were forced out at the
entrance and so through the territory of the
flower-strewn Rose Kingdom, which was not of very
great extent.

The Rose Princess was sobbing bitterly; Betsy
was indignant and angry; Hank uttered defiant
“Hee-haws” and the Shaggy Man whistled softly to
himself.

The boundary of the Rose Kingdom was a deep
gulf, but there was a drawbridge in one place and
this the Royal Gardener let down until the
outcasts had passed over it. Then he drew it up
again and returned with his Roses to the
greenhouse, leaving the four queerly assorted
comrades to wander into the bleak and unknown
country that lay beyond.

“I don’t mind, much,” remarked Shaggy, as he led
the way over the stony, barren ground. “I’ve got
to search for my long-lost little brother, anyhow,
so it won’t matter where I go.”

“Hank and I will help you find your brother,”
said Betsy in her most cheerful voice. “I’m so far
away from home now that I don’t s’pose I’ll ever
find my way back; and, to tell the truth, it’s
more fun traveling around and having adventures
than sticking at home. Don’t you think so, Hank?”

“Hee-haw!” said Hank, and the Shaggy Man thanked
them both.

“For my part,” said Princess Ozga of Roseland,
with a gentle sigh, “I must remain forever exiled
from my Kingdom. So I, too, will be glad to help
the Shaggy Man find his lost brother.”

“That’s very kind of you, ma’am,” said Shaggy.
“But unless I can find the underground cavern of
Ruggedo, the Metal Monarch, I shall never find
poor brother.”

(“This King was formerly named “Roquat,” but after he
drank of the “Waters of Oblivion” he forgot his own name
and had to take another.)

“Doesn’t anyone know where it is?” inquired
Betsy.

“Some one must know, of course,” was Shaggy’s
reply. “But we are not the ones. The only way to
succeed is for us to keep going until we find a
person who can direct us to Ruggedo’s cavern.”

“We may find it ourselves, without any help,”
suggested Betsy. “Who knows?”

“No one knows that, except the person who’s
writing this story,” said Shaggy. “But we won’t
find anything–not even supper–unless we travel
on. Here’s a path. Let’s take it and see where it
leads to.”

 

Leave a Reply