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|Tik-Tok of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
A Bashful Brother
|Page 3 of 5||
"I believe that is true," declared Shaggy. "My dear brother is very wise to prefer real trees to the imitation ones. But come; let us go there and find him."
Shaggy started for the green grove at once, and the others followed him, being curious to witness the final rescue of his long-sought, long-lost brother.
Not far from the edge of the grove they came upon a small hut, cleverly made of twigs and golden branches woven together. As they approached the place they caught a glimpse of a form that darted into the hut and slammed the door tight shut after him.
Shaggy Man ran to the door and cried aloud:
"Who calls," demanded a sad, hollow voice from within.
"It is Shaggy--your own loving brother--who has been searching for you a long time and has now come to rescue you."
"Too late!" replied the gloomy voice. "No one can rescue me now.
"Oh, but you are mistaken about that," said Shaggy. "There is a new King of the nomes, named Kaliko, in Ruggedo's place, and he has promised you shall go free."
"Free! I dare not go free!" said the Ugly One, in a voice of despair.
"Why not, Brother?" asked Shaggy, anxiously.
"Do you know what they have done to me?" came the answer through the closed door.
"No. Tell me, Brother, what have they done?"
"When Ruggedo first captured me I was very handsome. Don't you remember, Shaggy?"
"Not very well, Brother; you were so young when I left home. But I remember that mother thought you were beautiful."
"She was right! I am sure she was right," wailed the prisoner. "But Ruggedo wanted to injure me--to make me ugly in the eyes of all the world--so he performed a wicked enchantment. I went to bed beautiful--or you might say handsome--to be very modest I will merely claim that I was good-looking--and I wakened the next morning the homeliest man in all the world! I am so repulsive that when I look in a mirror I frighten myself."
"Poor Brother!" said Shaggy softly, and all the others were silent from sympathy.
"I was so ashamed of my looks," continued the voice of Shaggy's brother, "that I tried to hide; but the cruel King Ruggedo forced me to appear before all the legion of nomes, to whom he said: 'Behold the Ugly One!' But when the nomes saw my face they all fell to laughing and jeering, which prevented them from working at their tasks. Seeing this, Ruggedo became angry and pushed me into a tunnel, closing the rock entrance so that I could not get out. I followed the length of the tunnel until I reached this huge dome, where the marvelous Metal Forest stands, and here I have remained ever since.
"Poor Brother!" repeated Shaggy. "But I beg you now to come forth and face us, who are your friends. None here will laugh or jeer, however unhandsome you may be."
"No, indeed," they all added pleadingly.
But the Ugly One refused the invitation.
"I cannot," said he; "indeed, I cannot face strangers, ugly as I am."
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|Tik-Tok of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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