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|Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz||L. Frank Baum|
The Braided Man of Pyramid Mountain
|Page 2 of 3||
"Are they real?" asked Zeb, in an awed voice.
"Of course," replied Dorothy, softly. "They are the Cloud Fairies."
"They seem like open-work," remarked the boy, gazing intently. "If I should squeeze one, there wouldn't be anything left of it."
In the open space between the clouds and the black, bubbling sea far beneath, could be seen an occasional strange bird winging its way swiftly through the air. These birds were of enormous size, and reminded Zeb of the rocs he had read about in the Arabian Nights. They had fierce eyes and sharp talons and beaks, and the children hoped none of them would venture into the cavern.
"Well, I declare!" suddenly exclaimed the little Wizard. "What in the world is this?"
They turned around and found a man standing on the floor in the center of the cave, who bowed very politely when he saw he had attracted their attention. He was a very old man, bent nearly double; but the queerest thing about him was his white hair and beard. These were so long that they reached to his feet, and both the hair and the beard were carefully plaited into many braids, and the end of each braid fastened with a bow of colored ribbon.
"Where did you come from?" asked Dorothy, wonderingly.
"No place at all," answered the man with the braids; "that is, not recently. Once I lived on top the earth, but for many years I have had my factory in this spot--half way up Pyramid Mountain."
"Are we only half way up?" enquired the boy, in a discouraged tone.
"I believe so, my lad," replied the braided man. "But as I have never been in either direction, down or up, since I arrived, I cannot be positive whether it is exactly half way or not."
"Have you a factory in this place?" asked the Wizard, who had been examining the strange personage carefully.
"To be sure," said the other. "I am a great inventor, you must know, and I manufacture my products in this lonely spot."
"What are your products?" enquired the Wizard.
"Well, I make Assorted Flutters for flags and bunting, and a superior grade of Rustles for ladies' silk gowns."
"I thought so," said the Wizard, with a sigh. "May we examine some of these articles?"
"Yes, indeed; come into my shop, please," and the braided man turned and led the way into a smaller cave, where he evidently lived. Here, on a broad shelf, were several card-board boxes of various sizes, each tied with cotton cord.
"This," said the man, taking up a box and handling it gently, "contains twelve dozen rustles--enough to last any lady a year. Will you buy it, my dear?" he asked, addressing Dorothy.
"My gown isn't silk," she said, smiling.
"Never mind. When you open the box the rustles will escape, whether you are wearing a silk dress or not," said the man, seriously. Then he picked up another box. "In this," he continued, "are many assorted flutters. They are invaluable to make flags flutter on a still day, when there is no wind. You, sir," turning to the Wizard, "ought to have this assortment. Once you have tried my goods I am sure you will never be without them."
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|Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
L. Frank Baum
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