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|Ozma of Oz
|L. Frank Baum
Letters in the Sand
|Page 1 of 4
Walking a little way back from the water's edge, toward the grove of trees, Dorothy came to a flat stretch of white sand that seemed to have queer signs marked upon its surface, just as one would write upon sand with a stick.
"What does it say?" she asked the yellow hen, who trotted along beside her in a rather dignified fashion.
"How should I know?" returned the hen. "I cannot read."
"Oh! Can't you?"
"Certainly not; I've never been to school, you know."
"Well, I have," admitted Dorothy; "but the letters are big and far apart, and it's hard to spell out the words."
But she looked at each letter carefully, and finally discovered that these words were written in the sand:
"BEWARE THE WHEELERS!"
"That's rather strange," declared the hen, when Dorothy had read aloud the words. "What do you suppose the Wheelers are?"
"Folks that wheel, I guess. They must have wheelbarrows, or baby-cabs or hand-carts," said Dorothy.
"Perhaps they're automobiles," suggested the yellow hen. "There is no need to beware of baby-cabs and wheelbarrows; but automobiles are dangerous things. Several of my friends have been run over by them."
"It can't be auto'biles," replied the girl, "for this is a new, wild country, without even trolley-cars or tel'phones. The people here haven't been discovered yet, I'm sure; that is, if there ARE any people. So I don't b'lieve there CAN be any auto'biles, Billina."
"Perhaps not," admitted the yellow hen. "Where are you going now?"
"Over to those trees, to see if I can find some fruit or nuts," answered Dorothy.
She tramped across the sand, skirting the foot of one of the little rocky hills that stood near, and soon reached the edge of the forest.
At first she was greatly disappointed, because the nearer trees were all punita, or cotton-wood or eucalyptus, and bore no fruit or nuts at all. But, bye and bye, when she was almost in despair, the little girl came upon two trees that promised to furnish her with plenty of food.
One was quite full of square paper boxes, which grew in clusters on all the limbs, and upon the biggest and ripest boxes the word "Lunch" could be read, in neat raised letters. This tree seemed to bear all the year around, for there were lunch-box blossoms on some of the branches, and on others tiny little lunch-boxes that were as yet quite green, and evidently not fit to eat until they had grown bigger.
The leaves of this tree were all paper napkins, and it presented a very pleasing appearance to the hungry little girl.
But the tree next to the lunch-box tree was even more wonderful, for it bore quantities of tin dinner-pails, which were so full and heavy that the stout branches bent underneath their weight. Some were small and dark-brown in color; those larger were of a dull tin color; but the really ripe ones were pails of bright tin that shone and glistened beautifully in the rays of sunshine that touched them.
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|Ozma of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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