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|The Scarecrow of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
Pon, the Gardener's Boy
|Page 1 of 3||
It was Button-Bright who first discovered, lying on his face beneath a broad spreading tree near the pathway, a young man whose body shook with the force of his sobs. He was dressed in a long brown smock and had sandals on his feet, betokening one in humble life. His head was bare and showed a shock of brown, curly hair. Button-Bright looked down on the young man and said:
"Who cares, anyhow?"
"I do!" cried the young man, interrupting his sobs to roll over, face upward, that he might see who had spoken. "I care, for my heart is broken!"
"Can't you get another one?" asked the little boy.
"I don't want another!" wailed the young man.
By this time Trot and Cap'n Bill arrived at the spot and the girl leaned over and said in a sympathetic voice:
"Tell us your troubles and perhaps we may help you."
The youth sat up, then, and bowed politely. Afterward he got upon his feet, but still kept wringing his hands as he tried to choke down his sobs. Trot thought he was very brave to control such awful agony so well.
"My name is Pon," he began. "I'm the gardener's boy."
"Then the gardener of the King is your father, I suppose," said Trot.
"Not my father, but my master," was the reply
"I do the work and the gardener gives the orders. And it was not my fault, in the least, that the Princess Gloria fell in love with me."
"Did she, really?" asked the little girl.
"I don't see why," remarked Button-Bright, staring at the youth.
"And who may the Princess Gloria be?" inquired Cap'n Bill.
"She is the niece of King Krewl, who is her guardian. The Princess lives in the castle and is the loveliest and sweetest maiden in all Jinxland. She is fond of flowers and used to walk in the gardens with her attendants. At such times, if I was working at my tasks, I used to cast down my eyes as Gloria passed me; but one day I glanced up and found her gazing at me with a very tender look in her eyes. The next day she dismissed her attendants and, coming to my side, began to talk with me. She said I had touched her heart as no other young man had ever done. I kissed her hand. Just then the King came around a bend in the walk. He struck me with his fist and kicked me with his foot. Then he seized the arm of the Princess and rudely dragged her into the castle."
"Wasn't he awful!" gasped Trot indignantly.
"He is a very abrupt King," said Pon, "so it was the least I could expect. Up to that time I had not thought of loving Princess Gloria, but realizing it would be impolite not to return her love, I did so. We met at evening, now and then, and she told me the King wanted her to marry a rich courtier named Googly-Goo, who is old enough to be Gloria's father. She has refused Googly-Goo thirty-nine times, but he still persists and has brought many rich presents to bribe the King. On that account King Krewl has commanded his niece to marry the old man, but the Princess has assured me, time and again, that she will wed only me. This morning we happened to meet in the grape arbor and as I was respectfully saluting the cheek of the Princess, two of the King's guards seized me and beat me terribly before the very eyes of Gloria, whom the King himself held back so she could not interfere."
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|The Scarecrow of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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