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|The Wonderful Wizard of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
10. The Guardian of the Gate
|Page 2 of 5||
A woman opened it just far enough to look out, and said, "What do you want, child, and why is that great Lion with you?"
"We wish to pass the night with you, if you will allow us," answered Dorothy; "and the Lion is my friend and comrade, and would not hurt you for the world."
"Is he tame?" asked the woman, opening the door a little wider.
"Oh, yes," said the girl, "and he is a great coward, too. He will be more afraid of you than you are of him."
"Well," said the woman, after thinking it over and taking another peep at the Lion, "if that is the case you may come in, and I will give you some supper and a place to sleep."
So they all entered the house, where there were, besides the woman, two children and a man. The man had hurt his leg, and was lying on the couch in a corner. They seemed greatly surprised to see so strange a company, and while the woman was busy laying the table the man asked:
"Where are you all going?"
"To the Emerald City," said Dorothy, "to see the Great Oz."
"Oh, indeed!" exclaimed the man. "Are you sure that Oz will see you?"
"Why not?" she replied.
"Why, it is said that he never lets anyone come into his presence. I have been to the Emerald City many times, and it is a beautiful and wonderful place; but I have never been permitted to see the Great Oz, nor do I know of any living person who has seen him."
"Does he never go out?" asked the Scarecrow.
"Never. He sits day after day in the great Throne Room of his Palace, and even those who wait upon him do not see him face to face."
"What is he like?" asked the girl.
"That is hard to tell," said the man thoughtfully. "You see, Oz is a Great Wizard, and can take on any form he wishes. So that some say he looks like a bird; and some say he looks like an elephant; and some say he looks like a cat. To others he appears as a beautiful fairy, or a brownie, or in any other form that pleases him. But who the real Oz is, when he is in his own form, no living person can tell."
"That is very strange," said Dorothy, "but we must try, in some way, to see him, or we shall have made our journey for nothing."
"Why do you wish to see the terrible Oz?" asked the man.
"I want him to give me some brains," said the Scarecrow eagerly.
"Oh, Oz could do that easily enough," declared the man. "He has more brains than he needs."
"And I want him to give me a heart," said the Tin Woodman.
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|The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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