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|Tik-Tok of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
Polychrome's Pitiful Plight
|Page 3 of 6||
As they continued their wandering journey, direction meant very little to them, for they were hopelessly lost in this strange country. Shaggy said it would be best to go toward the mountains, as the natural entrance to Ruggedo's underground cavern was likely to be hidden in some rocky, deserted place; but mountains seemed all around them except in the one direction that they had come from, which led to the Rose Kingdom and the sea. Therefore it mattered little which way they traveled.
By and by they espied a faint trail that looked like a path and after following this for some time they reached a crossroads. Here were many paths, leading in various directions, and there was a signpost so old that there were now no words upon the sign. At one side was an old well, with a chain windlass for drawing water, yet there was no house or other building anywhere in sight.
While the party halted, puzzled which way to proceed, the mule approached the well and tried to look into it.
"He's thirsty," said Betsy.
"It's a dry well," remarked Shaggy. "Probably there has been no water in it for many years. But, come; let us decide which way to travel."
No one seemed able to decide that. They sat down in a group and tried to consider which road might be the best to take. Hank, however, could not keep away from the well and finally he reared up on his hind legs, got his head over the edge and uttered a loud "Hee-haw!" Betsy watched her animal friend curiously.
"I wonder if he sees anything down there?" she said.
At this, Shaggy rose and went over to the well to investigate, and Betsy went with him. The Princess and Polychrome, who had become fast friends, linked arms and sauntered down one of the roads, to find an easy path.
"Really," said Shaggy, "there does seem to be something at the bottom of this old well."
"Can't we pull it up, and see what it is?" asked the girl.
There was no bucket at the end of the windlass chain, but there was a big hook that at one time was used to hold a bucket. Shaggy let down this hook, dragged it around on the bottom and then pulled it up. An old hoopskirt came with it, and Betsy laughed and threw it away. The thing frightened Hank, who had never seen a hoopskirt before, and he kept a good distance away from it.
Several other objects the Shaggy Man captured with the hook and drew up, but none of these was important.
"This well seems to have been the dump for all the old rubbish in the country," he said, letting down the hook once more. "I guess I've captured everything now. No--the hook has caught again. Help me, Betsy! Whatever this thing is, it's heavy."
She ran up and helped him turn the windlass and after much effort a confused mass of copper came in sight.
"Good gracious!" exclaimed Shaggy. "Here is a surprise, indeed!"
"What is it?" inquired Betsy, clinging to the windlass and panting for breath.
For answer the Shaggy Man grasped the bundle of copper and dumped it upon the ground, free of the well. Then he turned it over with his foot, spread it out, and to Betsy's astonishment the thing proved to be a copper man.
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|Tik-Tok of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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