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Chapter 1 Ojo and Unc Nunkie

  • "Where's the butter, Unc Nunkie?" asked Ojo.
  • Unc looked out of the window and stroked his long beard. Then he turned to th_unchkin boy and shook his head.
  • "Isn't," said he.
  • "Isn't any butter? That's too bad, Unc. Where's the jam then?" inquired Ojo,
  • standing on a stool so he could look through all the shelves of the cupboard.
  • But Unc Nunkie shook his head again.
  • "Gone," he said.
  • "No jam, either? And no cake—no jelly—no apples—nothing but bread?"
  • "All," said Unc, again stroking his beard as he gazed from the window.
  • The little boy brought the stool and sat beside his uncle, munching the dr_read slowly and seeming in deep thought.
  • "Nothing grows in our yard but the bread tree," he mused, "and there are onl_wo more loaves on that tree; and they're not ripe yet. Tell me, Unc; why ar_e so poor?"
  • The old Munchkin turned and looked at Ojo. He had kindly eyes, but he hadn'_miled or laughed in so long that the boy had forgotten that Unc Nunkie coul_ook any other way than solemn. And Unc never spoke any more words than he wa_bliged to, so his little nephew, who lived alone with him, had learned t_nderstand a great deal from one word.
  • "Why are we so poor, Unc?" repeated the boy.
  • "Not," said the old Munchkin.
  • "I think we are," declared Ojo. "What have we got?"
  • "House," said Unc Nunkie.
  • "I know; but everyone in the Land of Oz has a place to live. What else, Unc?"
  • "Bread."
  • "I'm eating the last loaf that's ripe. There; I've put aside your share, Unc.
  • It's on the table, so you can eat it when you get hungry. But when that i_one, what shall we eat, Unc?"
  • The old man shifted in his chair but merely shook his head.
  • "Of course," said Ojo, who was obliged to talk because his uncle would not,
  • "no one starves in the Land of Oz, either. There is plenty for everyone, yo_now; only, if it isn't just where you happen to be, you must go where it is."
  • The aged Munchkin wriggled again and stared at his small nephew as i_isturbed by his argument.
  • "By to-morrow morning," the boy went on, "we must go where there is somethin_o eat, or we shall grow very hungry and become very unhappy."
  • "Where?" asked Unc.
  • "Where shall we go? I don't know, I'm sure," replied Ojo. "But you must know,
  • Unc. You must have traveled, in your time, because you're so old. I don'_emember it, because ever since I could remember anything we've lived righ_ere in this lonesome, round house, with a little garden back of it and th_hick woods all around. All I've ever seen of the great Land of Oz, Unc dear,
  • is the view of that mountain over at the south, where they say the Hammerhead_ive—who won't let anybody go by them—and that mountain at the north, wher_hey say nobody lives."
  • "One," declared Unc, correcting him.
  • "Oh, yes; one family lives there, I've heard. That's the Crooked Magician, wh_s named Dr. Pipt, and his wife Margolotte. One year you told me about them; _hink it took you a whole year, Unc, to say as much as I've just said abou_he Crooked Magician and his wife. They live high up on the mountain, and th_ood Munchkin Country, where the fruits and flowers grow, is just the othe_ide. It's funny you and I should live here all alone, in the middle of th_orest, isn't it?"
  • "Yes," said Unc.
  • "Then let's go away and visit the Munchkin Country and its jolly, good-nature_eople. I'd love to get a sight of something besides woods, Unc Nunkie."
  • "Too little," said Unc.
  • "Why, I'm not so little as I used to be," answered the boy earnestly. "I thin_ can walk as far and as fast through the woods as you can, Unc. And now tha_othing grows in our back yard that is good to eat, we must go where there i_ood."
  • Unc Nunkie made no reply for a time. Then he shut down the window and turne_is chair to face the room, for the sun was sinking behind the tree-tops an_t was growing cool.
  • By and by Ojo lighted the fire and the logs blazed freely in the broa_ireplace. The two sat in the firelight a long time—the old, white-bearde_unchkin and the little boy. Both were thinking. When it grew quite dar_utside, Ojo said:
  • "Eat your bread, Unc, and then we will go to bed."
  • But Unc Nunkie did not eat the bread; neither did he go directly to bed. Lon_fter his little nephew was sound asleep in the corner of the room the old ma_at by the fire, thinking.