The Road to Oz HTML version

19. The Shaggy Man's Welcome
The shaggy man stood in the great hall, his shaggy hat in his hands, wondering what
would become of him. He had never been a guest in a fine palace before; perhaps he had
never been a guest anywhere. In the big, cold, outside world people did not invite shaggy
men to their homes, and this shaggy man of ours had slept more in hay-lofts and stables
than in comfortable rooms. When the others left the great hall he eyed the splendidly
dressed servants of the Princess Ozma as if he expected to be ordered out; but one of
them bowed before him as respectfully as if he had been a prince, and said:
"Permit me, sir, to conduct you to your apartments."
The shaggy man drew a long breath and took courage.
"Very well," he answered. "I'm ready."
Through the big hall they went, up the grand staircase carpeted thick with velvet, and so
along a wide corridor to a carved doorway. Here the servant paused, and opening the
door said with polite deference:
"Be good enough to enter, sir, and make yourself at home in the rooms our Royal Ozma
has ordered prepared for you. Whatever you see is for you to use and enjoy, as if your
own. The Princess dines at seven, and I shall be here in time to lead you to the drawing-
room, where you will be privileged to meet the lovely Ruler of Oz. Is there any
command, in the meantime, with which you desire to honor me?"
"No," said the shaggy man; "but I'm much obliged."
He entered the room and shut the door, and for a time stood in bewilderment, admiring
the grandeur before him.
He had been given one of the handsomest apartments in the most magnificent palace in
the world, and you can not wonder that his good fortune astonished and awed him until
he grew used to his surroundings.
The furniture was upholstered in cloth of gold, with the royal crown embroidered upon it
in scarlet. The rug upon the marble floor was so thick and soft that he could not hear the
sound of his own footsteps, and upon the walls were splendid tapestries woven with
scenes from the Land of Oz. Books and ornaments were scattered about in profusion, and
the shaggy man thought he had never seen so many pretty things in one place before. In
one corner played a tinkling fountain of perfumed water, and in another was a table
bearing a golden tray loaded with freshly gathered fruit, including several of the red-
cheeked apples that the shaggy man loved.