FictionForest

Chapter 6

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

Light off Small Medium Large

When noon came they opened the Fox-King’s basket of luncheon, and
found a nice roasted turkey with cranberry sauce and some slices of
bread and butter. As they sat on the grass by the roadside the
shaggy man cut up the turkey with his pocket-knife and passed slices
of it around.

“Haven’t you any dewdrops, or mist-cakes, or cloudbuns?” asked
Polychrome, longingly.

“‘Course not,” replied Dorothy. “We eat solid things, down here on
the earth. But there’s a bottle of cold tea. Try some, won’t you?”

The Rainbow’s Daughter watched Button-Bright devour one leg of the turkey.

“Is it good?” she asked.

He nodded.

“Do you think I could eat it?”

“Not this,” said Button-Bright.

“But I mean another piece?”

“Don’t know,” he replied.

“Well, I’m going to try, for I’m very hungry,” she decided, and took a
thin slice of the white breast of turkey which the shaggy man cut for
her, as well as a bit of bread and butter. When she tasted it
Polychrome thought the turkey was good–better even than
mist-cakes; but a little satisfied her hunger and she finished with a
tiny sip of cold tea.

“That’s about as much as a fly would eat,” said Dorothy, who was
making a good meal herself. “But I know some people in Oz who eat
nothing at all.”

“Who are they?” inquired the shaggy man.

“One is a scarecrow who’s stuffed with straw, and the other a woodman
made out of tin. They haven’t any appetites inside of ’em, you see;
so they never eat anything at all.”

“Are they alive?” asked Button-Bright.

“Oh yes,” replied Dorothy; “and they’re very clever and very nice,
too. If we get to Oz I’ll introduce them to you.”

“Do you really expect to get to Oz?” inquired the shaggy man, taking
a drink of cold tea.

“I don’t know just what to ‘spect,” answered the child, seriously; “but
I’ve noticed if I happen to get lost I’m almost sure to come to the
Land of Oz in the end, somehow ‘r other; so I may get there this time.
But I can’t promise, you know; all I can do is wait and see.”

“Will the Scarecrow scare me?” asked Button-Bright.

“No; ’cause you’re not a crow,” she returned. “He has the loveliest
smile you ever saw–only it’s painted on and he can’t help it.”

Luncheon being over they started again upon their journey, the shaggy
man, Dorothy and Button-Bright walking soberly along, side by side, and
the Rainbow’s Daughter dancing merrily before them.

Sometimes she darted along the road so swiftly that she was nearly out
of sight, then she came tripping back to greet them with her silvery
laughter. But once she came back more sedately, to say:

“There’s a city a little way off.”

“I ‘spected that,” returned Dorothy; “for the fox-people warned us
there was one on this road. It’s filled with stupid beasts of some
sort, but we musn’t be afraid of ’em ’cause they won’t hurt us.”

“All right,” said Button-Bright; but Polychrome didn’t know whether it
was all right or not.

“It’s a big city,” she said, “and the road runs straight through it.”

“Never mind,” said the shaggy man; “as long as I carry the Love
Magnet every living thing will love me, and you may be sure I shan’t
allow any of my friends to be harmed in any way.”

This comforted them somewhat, and they moved on again. Pretty soon
they came to a signpost that read:

“HAF A MYLE TO DUNKITON.”

“Oh,” said the shaggy man, “if they’re donkeys, we’ve nothing to fear
at all.”

“They may kick,” said Dorothy, doubtfully.

“Then we will cut some switches, and make them behave,” he replied.
At the first tree he cut himself a long, slender switch from one of
the branches, and shorter switches for the others.

“Don’t be afraid to order the beasts around,” he said; “they’re used
to it.”

Before long the road brought them to the gates of the city. There was
a high wall all around, which had been whitewashed, and the gate just
before our travelers was a mere opening in the wall, with no bars
across it. No towers or steeples or domes showed above the enclosure,
nor was any living thing to be seen as our friends drew near.

Suddenly, as they were about to boldly enter through the opening,
there arose a harsh clamor of sound that swelled and echoed on every
side, until they were nearly deafened by the racket and had to put
their fingers to their ears to keep the noise out.

It was like the firing of many cannon, only there were no cannon-balls
or other missiles to be seen; it was like the rolling of mighty
thunder, only not a cloud was in the sky; it was like the roar of
countless breakers on a rugged seashore, only there was no sea or
other water anywhere about.

They hesitated to advance; but, as the noise did no harm, they entered
through the whitewashed wall and quickly discovered the cause of the
turmoil. Inside were suspended many sheets of tin or thin iron, and
against these metal sheets a row of donkeys were pounding their heels
with vicious kicks.

The shaggy man ran up to the nearest donkey and gave the beast a sharp
blow with his switch.

“Stop that noise!” he shouted; and the donkey stopped kicking the
metal sheet and turned its head to look with surprise at the shaggy
man. He switched the next donkey, and made him stop, and then the
next, so that gradually the rattling of heels ceased and the awful
noise subsided. The donkeys stood in a group and eyed the strangers
with fear and trembling.

“What do you mean by making such a racket?” asked the shaggy man, sternly.

“We were scaring away the foxes,” said one of the donkeys, meekly.
“Usually they run fast enough when they hear the noise, which makes
them afraid.”

“There are no foxes here,” said the shaggy man.

“I beg to differ with you. There’s one, anyhow,” replied the donkey,
sitting upright on its haunches and waving a hoof toward
Button-Bright. “We saw him coming and thought the whole army of foxes
was marching to attack us.”

“Button-Bright isn’t a fox,” explained the shaggy man. “He’s only
wearing a fox head for a time, until he can get his own head back.”

“Oh, I see,” remarked the donkey, waving its left ear reflectively.
“I’m sorry we made such a mistake, and had all our work and worry
for nothing.”

The other donkeys by this time were sitting up and examining the
strangers with big, glassy eyes. They made a queer picture, indeed;
for they wore wide, white collars around their necks and the collars
had many scallops and points. The gentlemen-donkeys wore high
pointed caps set between their great ears, and the lady-donkeys wore
sunbonnets with holes cut in the top for the ears to stick through.
But they had no other clothing except their hairy skins, although many
wore gold and silver bangles on their front wrists and bands of
different metals on their rear ankles. When they were kicking they
had braced themselves with their front legs, but now they all stood or
sat upright on their hind legs and used the front ones as arms.
Having no fingers or hands the beasts were rather clumsy, as you may
guess; but Dorothy was surprised to observe how many things they could
do with their stiff, heavy hoofs.

Some of the donkeys were white, some were brown, or gray, or black,
or spotted; but their hair was sleek and smooth and their broad collars
and caps gave them a neat, if whimsical, appearance.

“This is a nice way to welcome visitors, I must say!” remarked the
shaggy man, in a reproachful tone.

“Oh, we did not mean to be impolite,” replied a grey donkey which had
not spoken before. “But you were not expected, nor did you send in
your visiting cards, as it is proper to do.”

“There is some truth in that,” admitted the shaggy man; “but, now
you are informed that we are important and distinguished travelers,
I trust you will accord us proper consideration.”

These big words delighted the donkeys, and made them bow to the shaggy
man with great respect. Said the grey one:

“You shall be taken before his great and glorious Majesty King
Kik-a-bray, who will greet you as becomes your exalted stations.”

“That’s right,” answered Dorothy. “Take us to some one who
knows something.”

“Oh, we all know something, my child, or we shouldn’t be donkeys,”
asserted the grey one, with dignity. “The word ‘donkey’ means
‘clever,’ you know.”

“I didn’t know it,” she replied. “I thought it meant ‘stupid’.”

“Not at all, my child. If you will look in the Encyclopedia
Donkaniara you will find I’m correct. But come; I will myself lead
you before our splendid, exalted, and most intellectual ruler.”

All donkeys love big words, so it is no wonder the grey one used so
many of them.

 

Leave a Reply