Tik-Tok of Oz HTML version

6. Shaggy Seeks his Stray Brother
This sudden arrival was a queer looking man, dressed all in garments so shaggy that
Betsy at first thought he must be some animal. But the stranger ended his fall in a sitting
position and then the girl saw it was really a man. He held an apple in his hand, which he
had evidently been eating when he fell, and so little was he jarred or flustered by the
accident that he continued to munch this apple as he calmly looked around him.
"Good gracious!" exclaimed Betsy, approaching him. "Who are you, and where did you
come from?"
"Me? Oh, I'm Shaggy Man," said he, taking another bite of the apple. "Just dropped in for
a short call. Excuse my seeming haste."
"Why, I s'pose you couldn't help the haste," said Betsy.
"No. I climbed an apple tree, outside; branch gave way and--here I am."
As he spoke the Shaggy Man finished his apple, gave the core to Hank--who ate it
greedily --and then stood up to bow politely to Betsy and the Roses.
The Royal Gardener had been frightened nearly into fits by the crash of glass and the fall
of the shaggy stranger into the bower of Roses, but now he peeped out from behind a
bush and cried in his squeaky voice:
"You're breaking the Law! You're breaking the Law!"
Shaggy stared at him solemnly.
"Is the glass the Law in this country?" he asked.
"Breaking the glass is breaking the Law," squeaked the Gardener, angrily. "Also, to
intrude in any part of the Rose Kingdom is breaking the Law."
"How do you know?" asked Shaggy.
"Why, it's printed in a book," said the Gardener, coming forward and taking a small book
from his pocket. "Page thirteen. Here it is: 'If any stranger enters the Rose Kingdom he
shall at once be condemned by the Ruler and put to death.' So you see, strangers," he
continued triumphantly, "it's death for you all and your time has come!"
But just here Hank interposed. He had been stealthily backing toward the Royal
Gardener, whom he disliked, and now the mule's heels shot out and struck the little man
in the middle. He doubled up like the letter "U" and flew out of the door so swiftly--never
touching the ground --that he was gone before Betsy had time to wink.
But the mule's attack frightened the girl.
"Come," she whispered, approaching the Shaggy Man and taking his hand; "let's go
somewhere else. They'll surely kill us if we stay here!"