...chapter ten of The Lost Princess of Oz...previous...next...
For a while the travelers were constantly losing their direction, for beyond the thistle fields they again found themselves upon the turning-lands, which swung them around one way and then another. But by keeping the City of Thi constantly behind them, the adventurers finally passed the treacherous turning-lands and came upon a stony country where no grass grew at all. There were plenty of bushes, however, and although it was now almost dark, the girls discovered some delicious yellow berries growing upon the bushes, one taste of which set them all to picking as many as they could find. The berries relieved their pangs of hunger for a time, and as it now became too dark to see anything, they camped where they were.
The three girls lay down upon one of the blankets--all in a row--and the Wizard covered them with the other blanket and tucked them in. Button-Bright crawled under the shelter of some bushes and was asleep
The Wizard sat down with his back to a big stone and looked at the stars in the sky and thought gravely upon the dangerous adventure they had undertaken, wondering if they would ever be able to find their beloved Ozma again. The animals lay in a group by themselves, a little distance from the others. "I've lost my growl!" said Toto, who had been very silent and sober all that day. "What do you suppose has become of it?"
"If you had asked me to keep track of your growl, I might be able to tell you," remarked the Lion sleepily. "But frankly, Toto, I supposed you were taking care of it yourself."
"It's an awful thing to lose one's growl," said Toto, wagging his tail disconsolately. "What if you lost your roar, Lion? Wouldn't you feel terrible?"
"My roar,"replied the Lion, "is the fiercest thing about me. I depend on it to frighten my enemies so badly that they won't dare to fight me."
"Once," said the Mule, "I lost my bray so that I couldn't call to Betsy to let her know I was hungry. That was before I could talk, you know, for I had not yet come into the Land of Oz, and I found it was certainly very uncomfortable not to be able to make a noise."
"You make enough noise now," declared Toto. "But none of you have answered my question: Where is my growl?"
"You may search ME," said the Woozy. "I don't care for such things, myself."
"You snore terribly," asserted Toto.
"It may be," said the Woozy. "What one does when asleep one is not accountable for. I wish you would wake me up sometime when I'm snoring and let me hear the sound. Then I can judge whether it is terrible or delightful."
"It isn't pleasant, I assure you," said the Lion, yawning.
"To me it seems wholly unnecessary," declared Hank the Mule.
"You ought to break yourself of the habit," said the Sawhorse. "You never hear me snore, because I never sleep. I don't even whinny as those puffy meat horses do. I wish that whoever stole Toto's growl had taken the Mule's bray and the Lion's roar and the Woozy's snore at the same time."
"Do you think, then, that my growl was stolen?"
"You have never lost it before, have you?" inquired inquired the Sawhorse.
"Only once, when I had a sore throat from barking too long at the moon."
"Is your throat sore now?" asked the Woozy.
"No," replied the dog.
"I can't understand," said Hank, "why dogs bark at the moon. They can't scare the moon, and the moon doesn't pay any attention to the bark. So why do dogs do it?"
"Were you ever a dog?" asked Toto.
"No indeed," replied Hank. "I am thankful to say I was created a mule--the most beautiful of all beasts--and have always remained one."
The Woozy sat upon his square haunches to examine Hank with care. "Beauty," he said, "must be a matter of taste. I don't say your judgment is bad, friend Hank, or that you are so vulgar as to be conceited. But if you admire big, waggy ears and a tail like a paintbrush and hoofs big enough for an elephant and a long neck and a body so skinny that one can count the ribs with one eye shut--if that's your idea of beauty, Hank, then either you or I must be much mistaken."
"You're full of edges," sneered the Mule. "If I were square as you are, I suppose you'd think me lovely."
"Outwardly, dear Hank, I would," replied the Woozy. "But to be really lovely, one must be beautiful without and within."
The Mule couldn't deny this statement, so he gave a disgusted grunt and rolled over so that his back was toward the Woozy. But the Lion, regarding the two calmly with his great, yellow eyes, said to the dog, "My dear Toto, our friends have taught us a lesson in humility. If the Woozy and the Mule are indeed beautiful creatures as they seem to think, you and I must be decidedly ugly."
"Not to ourselves," protested Toto, who was a shrewd little dog. "You and I, Lion, are fine specimens of our own races. I am a fine dog, and you are a fine lion. Only in point of comparison, one with another, can we be properly judged, so I will leave it to the poor old Sawhorse to decide which is the most beautiful animal among us all. The Sawhorse is wood, so he won't be prejudiced and will speak the truth."
"I surely will," responded the Sawhorse, wagging his ears, which were chips set in his wooden head. "Are you all agreed to accept my judgment?"
"We are!" they declared, each one hopeful.
"Then," said the Sawhorse, "I must point out to you the fact that you are all meat creatures, who tire unless they sleep and starve unless they eat and suffer from thirst unless they drink. Such animals must be very imperfect, and imperfect creatures cannot be beautiful. Now, I am made of wood."
"You surely have a wooden head," said the Mule.
"Yes, and a wooden body and wooden legs, which are as swift as the wind and as tireless. I've heard Dorothy say that 'handsome is as handsome does,' and I surely perform my duties in a handsome manner. Therefore, if you wish my honest judgment, I will confess that among us all I am the most beautiful."
The Mule snorted, and the Woozy laughed; Toto had lost his growl and could only look scornfully at the Sawhorse, who stood in his place unmoved. But the Lion stretched himself and yawned, saying quietly, "Were we all like the Sawhorse, we would all be Sawhorses, which would be too many of the kind. Were we all like Hank, we would be a herd of mules; if like Toto, we would be a pack of dogs; should we all become the shape of the Woozy, he would no longer be remarkable for his unusual appearance. Finally, were you all like me, I would consider you so common that I would not care to associate with you. To be individual, my friends, to be different from others, is the only way to become distinguished from the common herd. Let us be glad, therefore, that we differ from one another in form and in disposition. Variety is the spice of life, and we are various enough to enjoy one another's society; so let us be content."
"There is some truth in that speech," remarked Toto reflectively. "But how about my lost growl?"
"The growl is of importance only to you," responded the Lion, "so it is your business to worry over the loss, not ours. If you love us, do not afflict your burdens on us; be unhappy all by yourself."
"If the same person stole my growl who stole Ozma," said the little dog, "I hope we shall find him very soon and punish him as he deserves. He must be the most cruel person in all the world, for to prevent a dog from growling when it is his nature to growl is just as wicked, in my opinion, as stealing all the magic in Oz."
...chapter ten of The Lost Princess of Oz...previous...next...