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|Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz||L. Frank Baum|
A Wonderful Escape
|Page 3 of 6||
From their platform a stair descended into the house, and the children and the Wizard explored it after lighting a lantern to show them the way. Several stories of empty rooms rewarded their search, but nothing more; so after a time they came back to the platform again. Had there been any doors or windows in the lower rooms, or had not the boards of the house been so thick and stout, escape could have been easy; but to remain down below was like being in a cellar or the hold of a ship, and they did not like the darkness or the damp smell.
In this country, as in all others they had visited underneath the earth's surface, there was no night, a constant and strong light coming from some unknown source. Looking out, they could see into some of the houses near them, where there were open windows in abundance, and were able to mark the forms of the wooden Gargoyles moving about in their dwellings.
"This seems to be their time of rest," observed the Wizard. "All people need rest, even if they are made of wood, and as there is no night here they select a certain time of the day in which to sleep or doze."
"I feel sleepy myself," remarked Zeb, yawning.
"Why, where's Eureka?" cried Dorothy, suddenly.
They all looked around, but the kitten was no place to be seen.
"She's gone out for a walk," said Jim, gruffly.
"Where? On the roof?" asked the girl.
"No; she just dug her claws into the wood and climbed down the sides of this house to the ground."
"She couldn't climb DOWN, Jim," said Dorothy. "To climb means to go up."
"Who said so?" demanded the horse.
"My school-teacher said so; and she knows a lot, Jim."
"To 'climb down' is sometimes used as a figure of speech," remarked the Wizard.
"Well, this was a figure of a cat," said Jim, "and she WENT down, anyhow, whether she climbed or crept."
"Dear me! how careless Eureka is," exclaimed the girl, much distressed. "The Gurgles will get her, sure!"
"Ha, ha!" chuckled the old cab-horse; "they're not 'Gurgles,' little maid; they're Gargoyles."
"Never mind; they'll get Eureka, whatever they're called."
"No they won't," said the voice of the kitten, and Eureka herself crawled over the edge of the platform and sat down quietly upon the floor.
"Wherever have you been, Eureka?" asked Dorothy, sternly.
"Watching the wooden folks. They're too funny for anything, Dorothy. Just now they are all going to bed, and--what do you think?--they unhook the hinges of their wings and put them in a corner until they wake up again."
"What, the hinges?"
"No; the wings."
"That," said Zeb, "explains why this house is used by them for a prison. If any of the Gargoyles act badly, and have to be put in jail, they are brought here and their wings unhooked and taken away from them until they promise to be good."
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|Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
L. Frank Baum
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