Sunny Mode   Night Mode

     Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz

       L. Frank Baum / Fantasy
1 ... 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 ... 21
CHAPTER 8.

THE VALLEY OF VOICES

By journeying through the glass mountain they had reached a delightfulvalley that was shaped like the hollow of a great cup, with anotherrugged mountain showing on the other side of it, and soft and prettygreen hills at the ends. It was all laid out into lovely lawns andgardens, with pebble paths leading through them and groves of beautifuland stately trees dotting the landscape here and there. There wereorchards, too, bearing luscious fruits that are all unknown in ourworld. Alluring brooks of crystal water flowed sparkling between theirflower-strewn banks, while scattered over the valley were dozens of thequaintest and most picturesque cottages our travelers had ever beheld.None of them were in clusters, such as villages or towns, but each hadample grounds of its own, with orchards and gardens surrounding it.

As the new arrivals gazed upon this exquisite scene they were enrapturedby its beauties and the fragrance that permeated the soft air, whichthey breathed so gratefully after the confined atmosphere of the tunnel.Several minutes were consumed in silent admiration before they noticedtwo very singular and unusual facts about this valley. One was that itwas lighted from some unseen source; for no sun or moon was in thearched blue sky, although every object was flooded with a clear andperfect light. The second and even more singular fact was the absence ofany inhabitant of this splendid place. From their elevated position theycould overlook the entire valley, but not a single moving object couldthey see. All appeared mysteriously deserted.

The mountain on this side was not glass, but made of a stone similar togranite. With some difficulty and danger Jim drew the buggy over theloose rocks until he reached the green lawns below, where the paths andorchards and gardens began. The nearest cottage was still some distanceaway.

”Isn't it fine?” cried Dorothy, in a joyous voice, as she sprang out ofthe buggy and let Eureka run frolicking over the velvety grass.

”Yes, indeed!” answered Zeb. ”We were lucky to get away from thosedreadful vegetable people.”

”It wouldn't be so bad,” remarked the Wizard, gazing around him, ”if wewere obliged to live here always. We couldn't find a prettier place, I'msure.”

He took the piglets from his pocket and let them run on the grass, andJim tasted a mouthful of the green blades and declared he was verycontented in his new surroundings.

”We can't walk in the air here, though,” called Eureka, who had tried itand failed; but the others were satisfied to walk on the ground, and theWizard said they must be nearer the surface of the earth than they hadbeen in the Mangaboo country, for everything was more homelike andnatural.

”But where are the people?” asked Dorothy.

The little man shook his bald head.

”Can't imagine, my dear,” he replied.

They heard the sudden twittering of a bird, but could not find thecreature anywhere. Slowly they walked along the path toward the nearestcottage, the piglets racing and gambolling beside them and Jim pausingat every step for another mouthful of grass.

Presently they came to a low plant which had broad, spreading leaves, inthe center of which grew a single fruit about as large as a peach. Thefruit was so daintily colored and so fragrant, and looked so appetizingand delicious that Dorothy stopped and exclaimed:

”What is it, do you s'pose?”

The piglets had smelled the fruit quickly, and before the girl couldreach out her hand to pluck it every one of the nine tiny ones hadrushed in and commenced to devour it with great eagerness.

”It's good, anyway,” said Zeb, ”or those little rascals wouldn't havegobbled it up so greedily.”

”Where are they?” asked Dorothy, in astonishment.

They all looked around, but the piglets had disappeared.

”Dear me!” cried the Wizard; ”they must have run away. But I didn't seethem go; did you?”

”No!” replied the boy and the girl, together.

”Here,--piggy, piggy, piggy!” called their master, anxiously.

Several squeals and grunts were instantly heard at his feet, but theWizard could not discover a single piglet.

”Where are you?” he asked.

”Why, right beside you,” spoke a tiny voice. ”Can't you see us?”

”ARE THERE REALLY PEOPLE IN THIS ROOM?”]

”No,” answered the little man, in a puzzled tone.

”We can see you,” said another of the piglets.

The Wizard stooped down and put out his hand, and at once felt the smallfat body of one of his pets. He picked it up, but could not see what heheld.

”It is very strange,” said he, soberly. ”The piglets have becomeinvisible, in some curious way.”

”I'll bet it's because they ate that peach!” cried the kitten.

”It wasn't a peach, Eureka,” said Dorothy. ”I only hope it wasn'tpoison.”

”It was fine, Dorothy,” called one of the piglets.

”We'll eat all we can find of them,” said another.

”But _we_ mus'n't eat them,” the Wizard warned the children, ”or we toomay become invisible, and lose each other. If we come across another ofthe strange fruit we must avoid it.”

Calling the piglets to him he picked them all up, one by one, and putthem away in his pocket; for although he could not see them he couldfeel them, and when he had buttoned his coat he knew they were safe forthe present.

The travellers now resumed their walk toward the cottage, which theypresently reached. It was a pretty place, with vines growing thicklyover the broad front porch. The door stood open and a table was set inthe front room, with four chairs drawn up to it. On the table wereplates, knives and forks, and dishes of bread, meat and fruits. The meatwas smoking hot and the knives and forks were performing strange anticsand jumping here and there in quite a puzzling way. But not a singleperson appeared to be in the room.

”How funny!” exclaimed Dorothy, who with Zeb and the Wizard now stood inthe doorway.

A peal of merry laughter answered her, and the knives and forks fell tothe plates with a clatter. One of the chairs pushed back from the table,and this was so astonishing and mysterious that Dorothy was almosttempted to run away in fright.

”Here are strangers, mama!” cried the shrill and childish voice of someunseen person.

”So I see, my dear,” answered another voice, soft and womanly.

”What do you want?” demanded a third voice, in a stern, gruff accent.

”Well, well!” said the Wizard; ”are there really people in this room?”

”Of course,” replied the man's voice.

”And--pardon me for the foolish question--but, are you all invisible?”

”Surely,” the woman answered, repeating her low, rippling laughter.”Are you surprised that you are unable to see the people of Voe?”

”Why, yes,” stammered the Wizard. ”All the people I have ever met beforewere very plain to see.”

”Where do you come from, then?” asked the woman, in a curious tone.

”We belong upon the face of the earth,” explained the Wizard, ”butrecently, during an earthquake, we fell down a crack and landed in theCountry of the Mangaboos.”

”Dreadful creatures!” exclaimed the woman's voice. ”I've heard of them.”

”They walled us up in a mountain,” continued the Wizard; ”but we foundthere was a tunnel through to this side, so we came here. It is abeautiful place. What do you call it?”

”It is the Valley of Voe.”

”Thank you. We have seen no people since we arrived, so we came to thishouse to enquire our way.”

”Are you hungry?” asked the woman's voice.

”I could eat something,” said Dorothy.

”So could I,” added Zeb.

”But we do not wish to intrude, I assure you,” the Wizard hastened tosay.

”That's all right,” returned the man's voice, more pleasantly thanbefore. ”You are welcome to what we have.”

As he spoke the voice came so near to Zeb that he jumped back in alarm.Two childish voices laughed merrily at this action, and Dorothy was surethey were in no danger among such light-hearted folks, even if thosefolks couldn't be seen.

”What curious animal is that which is eating the grass on my lawn?”enquired the man's voice.

”That's Jim,” said the girl. ”He's a horse.”

”What is he good for?” was the next question.

”He draws the buggy you see fastened to him, and we ride in the buggyinstead of walking,” she explained.

”Can he fight?” asked the man's voice.

”No! he can kick pretty hard with his heels, and bite a little; but Jimcan't 'zactly fight,” she replied.

”Then the bears will get him,” said one of the children's voices.

”Bears!” exclaimed Dorothy. ”Are these bears here?”

”That is the one evil of our country,” answered the invisible man. ”Manylarge and fierce bears roam in the Valley of Voe, and when they cancatch any of us they eat us up; but as they cannot see us, we seldom getcaught.”

”Are the bears invis'ble, too?” asked the girl.

”Yes; for they eat of the dama-fruit, as we all do, and that keeps themfrom being seen by any eye, whether human or animal.”

”Does the dama-fruit grow on a low bush, and look something like apeach?” asked the Wizard.

”Yes,” was the reply.

”If it makes you invis'ble, why do you eat it?” Dorothy enquired.

”For two reasons, my dear,” the woman's voice answered. ”The dama-fruitis the most delicious thing that grows, and when it makes us invisiblethe bears cannot find us to eat us up. But now, good wanderers, yourluncheon is on the table, so please sit down and eat as much as youlike.”




1 ... 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 ... 21
Scroll Up
Scroll
Add comment

Add comment