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3. A Queer Village
Button-Bright took the shaggy man's hand willingly; for the shaggy man had the Love Magnet, you know, which was the reason Button-Bright had loved him at once. They started on, with Dorothy on one side, and Toto on the other, the little party trudging along more cheerfully than you might have supposed. The girl was getting used to queer adventures, which interested her very much. Wherever Dorothy went Toto was sure to go, like Mary's little lamb. Button-Bright didn't seem a bit afraid or worried because he was lost, and the shaggy man had no home, perhaps, and was as happy in one place as in another.
Before long they saw ahead of them a fine big arch spanning the road, and when they came nearer they found that the arch was beautifully carved and decorated with rich colors. A row of peacocks with spread tails ran along the top of it, and all the feathers were gorgeously painted. In the center was a large fox's head, and the fox wore a shrewd and knowing expression and had large spectacles over its eyes and a small golden crown with shiny points on top of its head.
While the travelers were looking with curiosity at this beautiful arch there suddenly marched out of it a company of soldiers - only the soldiers were all foxes dressed in uniforms. They wore green jackets and yellow pantaloons, and their little round caps and their high boots were a bright red color. Also, there was a big red bow tied about the middle of each long, bushy tail. Each soldier was armed with a wooden sword having an edge of sharp teeth set in a row, and the sight of these teeth at first caused Dorothy to shudder.
A captain marched in front of the company of fox-soldiers, his uniform embroidered with gold braid to make it handsomer than the others.
Almost before our friends realized it the soldiers had surrounded them on all sides, and the captain was calling out in a harsh voice:
"Surrender! You are our prisoners."
"What's a pris'ner?" asked Button-Bright.
"A prisoner is a captive," replied the fox-captain, strutting up and down with much dignity.
"What's a captive?" asked Button-Bright.
"You're one," said the captain.
That made the shaggy man laugh
"Good afternoon, captain," he said, bowing politely to all the foxes and very low to their commander. "I trust you are in good health, and that your families are all well?"
The fox-captain looked at the shaggy man, and his sharp features grew pleasant and smiling.
"We're pretty well, thank you, Shaggy Man," said he; and Dorothy knew that the Love Magnet was working and that all the foxes now loved the shaggy man because of it. But Toto didn't know this, for he began barking angrily and tried to bite the captain's hairy leg where it showed between his red boots and his yellow pantaloons.
"Stop, Toto!" cried the little girl, seizing the dog in her arms. "These are our friends."
"Why, so we are!" remarked the captain in tones of astonishment. "I thought at first we were enemies, but it seems you are friends instead. You must come with me to see King Dox."
"Who's he?" asked Button-Bright, with earnest eyes.
"King Dox of Foxville; the great and wise sovereign who rules over our community."
"What's sov'rin, and what's c'u'nity?" inquired Button-Bright.
"Don't ask so many questions, little boy."
"Ah, why indeed?" exclaimed the captain, looking at Button-Bright admiringly. "If you don't ask questions you will learn nothing. True enough. I was wrong. You're a very clever little boy, come to think of it - very clever indeed. But now, friends, please come with me, for it is my duty to escort you at once to the royal palace."
The soldiers marched back through the arch again, and with them marched the shaggy man, Dorothy, Toto, and Button-Bright. Once through the opening they found a fine, big city spread out before them, all the houses of carved marble in beautiful colors. The decorations were mostly birds and other fowl, such as peacocks, pheasants, turkeys, prairie-chickens, ducks, and geese. Over each doorway was carved a head representing the fox who lived in that house, this effect being quite pretty and unusual.
As our friends marched along, some of the foxes came out on the porches and balconies to get a view of the strangers. These foxes were all handsomely dressed, the girl-foxes and women-foxes wearing gowns of feathers woven together effectively and colored in bright hues which Dorothy thought were quite artistic and decidedly attractive.
Button-Bright stared until his eyes were big and round, and he would have stumbled and fallen more than once had not the shaggy man grasped his hand tightly. They were all interested, and Toto was so excited he wanted to bark every minute and to chase and fight every fox he caught sight of; but Dorothy held his little wiggling body fast in her arms and commanded him to be good and behave himself. So he finally quieted down, like a wise doggy, deciding there were too many foxes in Foxville to fight at one time.
By-and-by they came to a big square, and in the center of the square stood the royal palace. Dorothy knew it at once because it had over its great door the carved head of a fox just like the one she had seen on the arch, and this fox was the only one who wore a golden crown.
There were many fox-soldiers guarding the door, but they bowed to the captain and admitted him without question. The captain led them through many rooms, where richly dressed foxes were sitting on beautiful chairs or sipping tea, which was being passed around by fox-servants in white aprons. They came to a big doorway covered with heavy curtains of cloth of gold.
Beside this doorway stood a huge drum. The fox-captain went to this drum and knocked his knees against it - first one knee and then the other - so that the drum said: "Boom-boom."
"You must all do exactly what I do," ordered the captain; so the shaggy man pounded the drum with his knees, and so did Dorothy and so did Button-Bright. The boy wanted to keep on pounding it with his little fat knees, because he liked the sound of it; but the captain stopped him. Toto couldn't pound the drum with his knees and he didn't know enough to wag his tail against it, so Dorothy pounded the drum for him and that made him bark, and when the little dog barked the fox-captain scowled.
The golden curtains drew back far enough to make an opening, through which marched the captain with the others.
The broad, long room they entered was decorated in gold with stained-glass windows of splendid colors. In the corner of the room upon a richly carved golden throne, sat the fox-king, surrounded by a group of other foxes, all of whom wore great spectacles over their eyes, making them look solemn and important.
Dorothy knew the King at once, because she had seen his head carved on the arch and over the doorway of the palace. Having met with several other kings in her travels, she knew what to do, and at once made a low bow before the throne. The shaggy man bowed, too, and Button-Bright bobbed his head and said "Hello."
"Most wise and noble Potentate of Foxville," said the captain, addressing the King in a pompous voice, "I humbly beg to report that I found these strangers on the road leading to your Foxy Majesty's dominions, and have therefore brought them before you, as is my duty."
"So - so," said the King, looking at them keenly. "What brought you here, strangers?"
"Our legs, may it please your Royal Hairiness," replied the shaggy man.
"What is your business here?" was the next question.
"To get away as soon as possible," said the shaggy man.
The King didn't know about the Magnet, of course; but it made him love the shaggy man at once.
"Do just as you please about going away," he said; "but I'd like to show you the sights of my city and to entertain your party while you are here. We feel highly honored to have little Dorothy with us, I assure you, and we appreciate her kindness in making us a visit. For whatever country Dorothy visits is sure to become famous."
This speech greatly surprised the little girl, who asked:
"How did your Majesty know my name?"
"Why, everybody knows you, my dear," said the Fox-King. "Don't you realize that? You are quite an important personage since Princess Ozma of Oz made you her friend."
"Do you know Ozma?" she asked, wondering.
"I regret to say that I do not," he answered, sadly; "but I hope to meet her soon. You know the Princess Ozma is to celebrate her birthday on the twenty-first of this month."
"Is she?" said Dorothy. "I didn't know that."
"Yes; it is to be the most brilliant royal ceremony ever held in any city in Fairyland, and I hope you will try to get me an invitation."
Dorothy thought a moment.
"I'm sure Ozma would invite you if I asked her," she said; "but how could you get to the Land of Oz and the Emerald City? It's a good way from Kansas."
"Kansas!" he exclaimed, surprised.
"Why, yes; we are in Kansas now, aren't we?" she returned.
"What a queer notion!" cried the Fox-King, beginning to laugh. "Whatever made you think this is Kansas?"
"I left Uncle Henry's farm only about two hours ago; that's the reason," she said, rather perplexed.
"But, tell me, my dear, did you ever see so wonderful a city as Foxville in Kansas?" he questioned.
"No, your Majesty."
"And haven't you traveled from Oz to Kansas in less than half a jiffy, by means of the Silver Shoes and the Magic Belt?"
"Yes, your Majesty," she acknowledged.
"Then why do you wonder that an hour or two could bring you to Foxville, which is nearer to Oz than it is to Kansas?"
"Dear me!" exclaimed Dorothy; "is this another fairy adventure?"
"It seems to be," said the Fox-King, smiling.
Dorothy turned to the shaggy man, and her face was grave and reproachful.
"Are you a magician? or a fairy in disguise?" she asked. "Did you enchant me when you asked the way to Butterfield?"
The shaggy man shook his head.
"Who ever heard of a shaggy fairy?" he replied. "No, Dorothy, my dear; I'm not to blame for this journey in any way, I assure you. There's been something strange about me ever since I owned the Love Magnet; but I don't know what it is any more than you do. I didn't try to get you away from home, at all. If you want to find your way back to the farm I'll go with you willingly, and do my best to help you."
"Never mind," said the little girl, thoughtfully. "There isn't so much to see in Kansas as there is here, and I guess Aunt Em won't be VERY much worried; that is, if I don't stay away too long."
"That's right," declared the Fox-King, nodding approval. "Be contented with your lot, whatever it happens to be, if you are wise. Which reminds me that you have a new companion on this adventure - he looks very clever and bright."
"He is," said Dorothy; and the shaggy man added:
"That's his name, your Royal Foxiness - Button-Bright."
Turn to the next chapter: 4. King Dox