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|Ozma of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
Letters in the Sand
|Page 3 of 4||
"Run!" screamed the yellow hen, fluttering away in great fright. "It's a Wheeler!"
"A Wheeler?" exclaimed Dorothy. "What can that be?"
"Don't you remember the warning in the sand: 'Beware the Wheelers'? Run, I tell you--run!"
So Dorothy ran, and the Wheeler gave a sharp, wild cry and came after her in full chase.
Looking over her shoulder as she ran, the girl now saw a great procession of Wheelers emerging from the forest--dozens and dozens of them--all clad in splendid, tight-fitting garments and all rolling swiftly toward her and uttering their wild, strange cries.
"They're sure to catch us!" panted the girl, who was still carrying the heavy dinner-pail she had picked. "I can't run much farther, Billina."
"Climb up this hill,--quick!" said the hen; and Dorothy found she was very near to the heap of loose and jagged rocks they had passed on their way to the forest. The yellow hen was even now fluttering among the rocks, and Dorothy followed as best she could, half climbing and half tumbling up the rough and rugged steep.
She was none too soon, for the foremost Wheeler reached the hill a moment after her; but while the girl scrambled up the rocks the creature stopped short with howls of rage and disappointment.
Dorothy now heard the yellow hen laughing, in her cackling, henny way.
"Don't hurry, my dear," cried Billina. "They can't follow us among these rocks, so we're safe enough now."
Dorothy stopped at once and sat down upon a broad boulder, for she was all out of breath.
The rest of the Wheelers had now reached the foot of the hill, but it was evident that their wheels would not roll upon the rough and jagged rocks, and therefore they were helpless to follow Dorothy and the hen to where they had taken refuge. But they circled all around the little hill, so the child and Billina were fast prisoners and could not come down without being captured.
Then the creatures shook their front wheels at Dorothy in a threatening manner, and it seemed they were able to speak as well as to make their dreadful outcries, for several of them shouted:
"We'll get you in time, never fear! And when we do get you, we'll tear you into little bits!"
"Why are you so cruel to me?" asked Dorothy. "I'm a stranger in your country, and have done you no harm."
"No harm!" cried one who seemed to be their leader. "Did you not pick our lunch-boxes and dinner-pails? Have you not a stolen dinner-pail still in your hand?"
"I only picked one of each," she answered. "I was hungry, and I didn't know the trees were yours."
"That is no excuse," retorted the leader, who was clothed in a most gorgeous suit. "It is the law here that whoever picks a dinner-pail without our permission must die immediately."
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|Ozma of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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