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?"
"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.