The Road to Oz HTML version

12. The Deadly Desert Crossed
"Oh, that's too bad!" cried Dorothy; "I wanted to thank Johnny Dooit for all his kindness
to us."
"He hasn't time to listen to thanks," replied the shaggy man; "but I'm sure he knows we
are grateful. I suppose he is already at work in some other part of the world."
They now looked more carefully at the sand-boat, and saw that the bottom was modeled
with two sharp runners which would glide through the sand. The front of the sand-boat
was pointed like the bow of a ship, and there was a rudder at the stern to steer by.
It had been built just at the edge of the desert, so that all its length lay upon the gray sand
except the after part, which still rested on the strip of grass.
"Get in, my dears," said the shaggy man; "I'm sure I can manage this boat as well as any
sailor. All you need do is sit still in your places."
Dorothy got in, Toto in her arms, and sat on the bottom of the boat just in front of the
mast. Button-Bright sat in front of Dorothy, while Polly leaned over the bow. The shaggy
man knelt behind the mast. When all were ready he raised the sail half-way. The wind
caught it. At once the sand-boat started forward--slowly at first, then with added speed.
The shaggy man pulled the sail way up, and they flew so fast over the Deadly Desert that
every one held fast to the sides of the boat and scarcely dared to breathe.
The sand lay in billows, and was in places very uneven, so that the boat rocked
dangerously from side to side; but it never quite tipped over, and the speed was so great
that the shaggy man himself became frightened and began to wonder how he could make
the ship go slower.
"It we're spilled in this sand, in the middle of the desert," Dorothy thought to herself,
"we'll be nothing but dust in a few minutes, and that will be the end of us."
But they were not spilled, and by-and-by Polychrome, who was clinging to the bow and
looking straight ahead, saw a dark line before them and wondered what it was. It grew
plainer every second, until she discovered it to be a row of jagged rocks at the end of the
desert, while high above these rocks she could see a tableland of green grass and
beautiful trees.
"Look out!" she screamed to the shaggy man. "Go slowly, or we shall smash into the
He heard her, and tried to pull down the sail; but the wind would not let go of the broad
canvas and the ropes had become tangled.