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|The Marvelous Land of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
Jack Pumpkinhead's Ride to the Emerald City
|Page 3 of 4||
This man was short and round, with a fat face that seemed remarkably good-natured. He was clothed all in green and wore a high, peaked green hat upon his head and green spectacles over his eyes. Bowing before the Pumpkinhead he said:
"I am the Guardian of the Gates of the Emerald City. May I inquire who you are, and what is your business?"
"My name is Jack Pumpkinhead," returned the other, smilingly; "but as to my business, I haven't the least idea in the world what it is."
The Guardian of the Gates looked surprised, and shook his head as if dissatisfied with the reply.
"What are you, a man or a pumpkin?" he asked, politely.
"Both, if you please," answered Jack.
"And this wooden horse -- is it alive?" questioned the Guardian.
The horse rolled one knotty eye upward and winked at Jack. Then it gave a prance and brought one leg down on the Guardian's toes.
"Ouch!" cried the man; "I'm sorry I asked that question. But the answer is most convincing. Have you any errand, sir, in the Emerald City?"
"It seems to me that I have," replied the Pumpkinhead, seriously; "but I cannot think what it is. My father knows all about it, but he is not here."
"This is a strange affair very strange!" declared the Guardian. "But you seem harmless. Folks do not smile so delightfully when they mean mischief."
"As for that," said Jack, "I cannot help my smile, for it is carved on my face with a jack-knife."
"Well, come with me into my room," resumed the Guardian, "and I will see what can be done for you."
So Jack rode the Saw-Horse through the gateway into a little room built into the wall. The Guardian pulled a bell-cord, and presently a very tall soldier -- clothed in a green uniform -- entered from the opposite door. This soldier carried a long green gun over his shoulder and had lovely green whiskers that fell quite to his knees. The Guardian at once addressed him, saying:
"Here is a strange gentleman who doesn't know why he has come to the Emerald City, or what he wants. Tell me, what shall we do with him?"
The Soldier with the Green Whiskers looked at Jack with much care and curiosity. Finally he shook his head so positively that little waves rippled down his whiskers, and then he said:
"I must take him to His Majesty, the Scarecrow."
But what will His Majesty, the Scarecrow, do with him?" asked the Guardian of the Gates.
"That is His Majesty's business," returned the soldier. "I have troubles enough of my own. All outside troubles must be turned over to His Majesty. So put the spectacles on this fellow, and I'll take him to the royal palace."
So the Guardian opened a big box of spectacles and tried to fit a pair to Jack's great round eyes.
"I haven't a pair in stock that will really cover those eyes up," said the little man, with a sigh; "and your head is so big that I shall be obliged to tie the spectacles on."
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|The Marvelous Land of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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