The Road to Oz Ebook
Title: The Road to Oz
Author: Frank Baum
To My Readers
Well, my dears, here is what you have asked for: another "Oz Ebook" about Dorothy's strange adventures. Toto is in this story, because you wanted him to be there, and many other characters which you will recognize are in the story, too. Indeed, the wishes of my little correspondents have been considered as carefully as possible, and if the story is not exactly as you would have written it yourselves, you must remember that a story has to be a story before it can be written down, and the writer cannot change it much without spoiling it.
In the preface to "Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz" I said I would like to write some stories that were not "Oz" stories, because I thought I had written about Oz long enough; but since that volume was published I have been fairly deluged with letters from children imploring me to "write more about Dorothy," and "more about Oz," and since I write only to please the children I shall try to respect their wishes.
There are some new characters in this ebook that ought to win your live. I'm very fond of the shaggy man myself, and I think you will like him, too. As for Polychrome--the Rainbow's Daughter--and stupid little Button-Bright, they seem to have brought a new element of fun into these Oz stories, and I am glad I discovered them. Yet I am anxious to have you write and tell me how you like them.
Since this ebook was written I have received some very remarkable News from The Land of Oz, which has greatly astonished me. I believe it will astonish you, too, my dears, when you hear it. But it is such a long and exciting story that it must be saved for another book--and perhaps that ebook will be the last story that will ever be told about the Land of Oz.
L. FRANK BAUM
1. The Way to Butterfield
"Please, miss," said the shaggy man, "can you tell me the road to Butterfield?"
Dorothy looked him over. Yes, he was shaggy, all right, but there was a twinkle in his eye that seemed pleasant.
"Oh yes," she replied; "I can tell you. But it isn't this road at all."
"You cross the ten-acre lot, follow the lane to the highway, go north to the five branches, and take--let me see--"
"To be sure, miss; see as far as Butterfield, if you like," said the shaggy man.
"You take the branch next the willow stump, I b'lieve; or else the branch by the gopher holes; or else--"
"Won't any of 'em do, miss?"
"'Course not, Shaggy Man. You must take the right road to get to Butterfield."
"And is that the one by the gopher stump, or--"
"Dear me!" cried Dorothy. "I shall have to show you the way, you're so stupid. Wait a minute till I run in the house and get my sunbonnet."
The shaggy man waited. He had an oat-straw in his mouth, which he chewed slowly as if it tasted good; but it didn't. There was an apple-tree beside the house, and some apples had fallen to the ground. The shaggy man thought they would taste better than the oat-straw, so he walked over to get some. A little black dog with bright brown eyes dashed out of the farm-house and ran madly toward the shaggy man, who had already picked up three apples and put them in one of the big wide pockets of his shaggy coat. The little dog barked and made a dive for the shaggy man's leg; but he grabbed the dog by the neck and put it in his big pocket along with the apples. He took more apples, afterward, for many were on the ground; and each one that he tossed into his pocket hit the little dog somewhere upon the head or back, and made him growl. The little dog's name was Toto, and he was sorry he had been put in the shaggy man's pocket.
Pretty soon Dorothy came out of the house with her sunbonnet, and she called out:
"Come on, Shaggy Man, if you want me to show you the road to Butterfield." She climbed the fence into the ten-acre lot and he followed her, walking slowly and stumbling over the little hillocks in the pasture as if he was thinking of something else and did not notice them.
"My, but you're clumsy!" said the little girl. "Are your feet tired?"
"No, miss; it's my whiskers; they tire very easily in this warm weather," said he. "I wish it would snow, don't you?"
"'Course not, Shaggy Man," replied Dorothy, giving him a severe look. "If it snowed in August it would spoil the corn and the oats and the wheat; and then Uncle Henry wouldn't have any crops; and that would make him poor; and--"
"Never mind," said the shaggy man. "It won't snow, I guess. Is this the lane?"
"Yes," replied Dorothy, climbing another fence; "I'll go as far as the highway with you."
"Thankee, miss; you're very kind for your size, I'm sure," said he gratefully.
"It isn't everyone who knows the road to Butterfield," Dorothy remarked as she tripped along the lane; "but I've driven there many a time with Uncle Henry, and so I b'lieve I could find it blindfolded."
"Don't do that, miss," said the shaggy man earnestly; "you might make a mistake."
"I won't," she answered, laughing. "Here's the highway. Now it's the second--no, the third turn to the left--or else it's the fourth. Let's see. The first one is by the elm tree, and the second is by the gopher holes; and then--"
"Then what?" he inquired, putting his hands in his coat pockets. Toto grabbed a finger and bit it; the shaggy man took his hand out of that pocket quickly, and said "Oh!"
Dorothy did not notice. She was shading her eyes from the sun with her arm, looking anxiously down the road.
"Come on," she commanded. "It's only a little way farther, so I may as well show you."
After a while, they came to the place where five roads branched in different directions; Dorothy pointed to one, and said:
"That's it, Shaggy Man."
"That's it, Shaggy Man."
"I'm much obliged, miss," he said, and started along another road.
"Not that one!" she cried; "you're going wrong."
"I thought you said that other was the road to Butterfield," said he, running his fingers through his shaggy whiskers in a puzzled way.
"So it is."
"But I don't want to go to Butterfield, miss."
"Of course not. I wanted you to show me the road, so I shouldn't go there by mistake."
"Oh! Where DO you want to go, then?"
"I'm not particular, miss."
This answer astonished the little girl; and it made her provoked, too, to think she had taken all this trouble for nothing.
"There are a good many roads here," observed the shaggy man, turning slowly around, like a human windmill. "Seems to me a person could go 'most anywhere, from this place."
Dorothy turned around too, and gazed in surprise. There WERE a good many roads; more than she had ever seen before. She tried to count them, knowing there ought to be five, but when she had counted seventeen she grew bewildered and stopped, for the roads were as many as the spokes of a wheel and ran in every direction from the place where they stood; so if she kept on counting she was likely to count some of the roads twice.
"Dear me!" she exclaimed. "There used to be only five roads, highway and all. And now--why, where's the highway, Shaggy Man?"
"Can't say, miss," he responded, sitting down upon the ground as if tired with standing. "Wasn't it here a minute ago?"
"I thought so," she answered, greatly perplexed. "And I saw the gopher holes, too, and the dead stump; but they're not here now. These roads are all strange--and what a lot of them there are! Where do you suppose they all go to?"
"Roads," observed the shaggy man, "don't go anywhere. They stay in one place, so folks can walk on them."
He put his hand in his side-pocket and drew out an apple--quick, before Toto could bite him again. The little dog got his head out this time and said "Bow-wow!" so loudly that it made Dorothy jump.
"O, Toto!" she cried; "where did you come from?"
"I brought him along," said the shaggy man.
"What for?" she asked.
"To guard these apples in my pocket, miss, so no one would steal them."
With one hand the shaggy man held the apple, which he began eating, while with the other hand he pulled Toto out of his pocket and dropped him to the ground. Of course Toto made for Dorothy at once, barking joyfully at his release from the dark pocket. When the child had patted his head lovingly, he sat down before her, his red tongue hanging out one side of his mouth, and looked up into her face with his bright brown eyes, as if asking her what they should do next.
Dorothy didn't know. She looked around her anxiously for some familiar landmark; but everything was strange. Between the branches of the many roads were green meadows and a few shrubs and trees, but she couldn't see anywhere the farm-house from which she had just come, or anything she had ever seen before--except the shaggy man and Toto. Besides this, she had turned around and around so many times trying to find out where she was, that now she couldn't even tell which direction the farm-house ought to be in; and this began to worry her and make her feel anxious.
"I'm 'fraid, Shaggy Man," she said, with a sigh, "that we're lost!"
"That's nothing to be afraid of," he replied, throwing away the core of his apple and beginning to eat another one. "Each of these roads must lead somewhere, or it wouldn't be here. So what does it matter?"
"I want to go home again," she said.
"Well, why don't you?" said he.
"I don't know which road to take."
"That is too bad," he said, shaking his shaggy head gravely. "I wish I could help you; but I can't. I'm a stranger in these parts."
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