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Chapter 15 Ozma's Prisoner

  • The boy was so bewildered by this calamity that he made no resistance at all.
  • He knew very well he was guilty, but it surprised him that Ozma also knew it.
  • He wondered how she had found out so soon that he had picked the six-leave_lover. He handed his basket to Scraps and said:
  • "Keep that, until I get out of prison. If I never get out, take it to th_rooked Magician, to whom it belongs."
  • The Shaggy Man had been gazing earnestly in the boy's face, uncertain whethe_o defend him or not; but something he read in Ojo's expression made him dra_ack and refuse to interfere to save him. The Shaggy Man was greatly surprise_nd grieved, but he knew that Ozma never made mistakes and so Ojo must reall_ave broken the Law of Oz.
  • The Soldier with the Green Whiskers now led them all through the gate and int_ little room built in the wall. Here sat a jolly little man, richly dresse_n green and having around his neck a heavy gold chain to which a number o_reat golden keys were attached. This was the Guardian of the Gate and at th_oment they entered his room he was playing a tune upon a mouth-organ.
  • "Listen!" he said, holding up his hand for silence. "I've just composed a tun_alled 'The Speckled Alligator.' It's in patch-time, which is much superior t_ag-time, and I've composed it in honor of the Patchwork Girl, who has jus_rrived."
  • "How did you know I had arrived?" asked Scraps, much interested.
  • "It's my business to know who's coming, for I'm the Guardian of the Gate. Kee_uiet while I play you 'The Speckled Alligator.'"
  • It wasn't a very bad tune, nor a very good one, but all listened respectfull_hile he shut his eyes and swayed his head from side to side and blew th_otes from the little instrument. When it was all over the Soldier with th_reen Whiskers said:
  • "Guardian, I have here a prisoner."
  • "Good gracious! A prisoner?" cried the little man, jumping up from his chair.
  • "Which one? Not the Shaggy Man?"
  • "No; this boy."
  • "Ah; I hope his fault is as small as himself," said the Guardian of the Gate.
  • "But what can he have done, and what made him do it?"
  • "Can't say," replied the soldier. "All I know is that he has broken the Law."
  • "But no one ever does that!"
  • "Then he must be innocent, and soon will be released. I hope you are right, Guardian. Just now I am ordered to take him to prison. Get me a prisoner'_obe from your Official Wardrobe."
  • The Guardian unlocked a closet and took from it a white robe, which th_oldier threw over Ojo. It covered him from head to foot, but had two hole_ust in front of his eyes, so he could see where to go. In this attire the bo_resented a very quaint appearance.
  • As the Guardian unlocked a gate leading from his room into the streets of th_merald City, the Shaggy Man said to Scraps:
  • "I think I shall take you directly to Dorothy, as the Scarecrow advised, an_he Glass Cat and the Woozy may come with us. Ojo must go to prison with th_oldier with the Green Whiskers, but he will be well treated and you need no_orry about him."
  • "What will they do with him?" asked Scraps.
  • "That I cannot tell. Since I came to the Land of Oz no one has ever bee_rrested or imprisoned— until Ojo broke the Law."
  • "Seems to me that girl Ruler of yours is making a big fuss over nothing,"
  • remarked Scraps, tossing her yarn hair out of her eyes with a jerk of he_atched head. "I don't know what Ojo has done, but it couldn't be anythin_ery bad, for you and I were with him all the time."
  • The Shaggy Man made no reply to this speech and presently the Patchwork Gir_orgot all about Ojo in her admiration of the wonderful city she had entered.
  • They soon separated from the Munchkin boy, who was led by the Soldier with th_reen Whiskers down a side street toward the prison. Ojo felt very miserabl_nd greatly ashamed of himself, but he was beginning to grow angry because h_as treated in such a disgraceful manner. Instead of entering the splendi_merald City as a respectable traveler who was entitled to a welcome and t_ospitality, he was being brought in as a criminal, handcuffed and in a rob_hat told all he met of his deep disgrace.
  • Ojo was by nature gentle and affectionate and if he had disobeyed the Law o_z it was to restore his dear Unc Nunkie to life. His fault was mor_houghtless than wicked, but that did not alter the fact that he had committe_ fault. At first he had felt sorrow and remorse, but the more he though_bout the unjust treatment he had received—unjust merely because he considere_t so—the more he resented his arrest, blaming Ozma for making foolish law_nd then punishing folks who broke them. Only a six-leaved clover! A tin_reen plant growing neglected and trampled under foot. What harm could ther_e in picking it? Ojo began to think Ozma must be a very bad and oppressiv_uler for such a lovely fairyland as Oz. The Shaggy Man said the people love_er; but how could they?
  • The little Munchkin boy was so busy thinking these things—which many guilt_risoners have thought before him—that he scarcely noticed all the splendor o_he city streets through which they passed. Whenever they met any of th_appy, smiling people, the boy turned his head away in shame, although non_new who was beneath the robe.
  • By and by they reached a house built just beside the great city wall, but in _uiet, retired place. It was a pretty house, neatly painted and with man_indows. Before it was a garden filled with blooming flowers. The Soldier wit_he Green Whiskers led Ojo up the gravel path to the front door, on which h_nocked.
  • A woman opened the door and, seeing Ojo in his white robe, exclaimed:
  • "Goodness me! A prisoner at last. But what a small one, Soldier."
  • "The size doesn't matter, Tollydiggle, my dear. The fact remains that he is _risoner," said the soldier. "And, this being the prison, and you the jailer, it is my duty to place the prisoner in your charge."
  • "True. Come in, then, and I'll give you a receipt for him."
  • They entered the house and passed through a hall to a large circular room, where the woman pulled the robe off from Ojo and looked at him with kindl_nterest. The boy, on his part, was gazing around him in amazement, for neve_ad he dreamed of such a magnificent apartment as this in which he stood. Th_oof of the dome was of colored glass, worked into beautiful designs. Th_alls were paneled with plates of gold decorated with gems of great size an_any colors, and upon the tiled floor were soft rugs delightful to walk upon.
  • The furniture was framed in gold and upholstered in satin brocade and i_onsisted of easy chairs, divans and stools in great variety. Also there wer_everal tables with mirror tops and cabinets filled with rare and curiou_hings. In one place a case filled with books stood against the wall, an_lsewhere Ojo saw a cupboard containing all sorts of games.
  • "May I stay here a little while before I go to prison?" asked the boy, pleadingly.
  • "Why, this is your prison," replied Tollydiggle, "and in me behold you_ailor. Take off those handcuffs, Soldier, for it is impossible for anyone t_scape from this house."
  • "I know that very well," replied the soldier and at once unlocked th_andcuffs and released the prisoner.
  • The woman touched a button on the wall and lighted a big chandelier that hun_uspended from the ceiling, for it was growing dark outside. Then she seate_erself at a desk and asked:
  • "What name?"
  • "Ojo the Unlucky," answered the Soldier with the Green Whiskers.
  • "Unlucky? Ah, that accounts for it," said she. "What crime?"
  • "Breaking a Law of Oz."
  • "All right. There's your receipt, Soldier; and now I'm responsible for th_risoner. I'm glad of it, for this is the first time I've ever had anything t_o, in my official capacity," remarked the jailer, in a pleased tone.
  • "It's the same with me, Tollydiggle," laughed the soldier. "But my task i_inished and I must go and report to Ozma that I've done my duty like _aithful Police Force, a loyal Army and an honest Body-Guard—as I hope I am."
  • Saying this, he nodded farewell to Tollydiggle and Ojo and went away.
  • "Now, then," said the woman briskly, "I must get you some supper, for you ar_oubtless hungry. What would you prefer: planked whitefish, omelet with jell_r mutton-chops with gravy?"
  • Ojo thought about it. Then he said: "I'll take the chops, if you please."
  • "Very well; amuse yourself while I'm gone; I won't be long," and then she wen_ut by a door and left the prisoner alone.
  • Ojo was much astonished, for not only was this unlike any prison he had eve_eard of, but he was being treated more as a guest than a criminal. There wer_any windows and they had no locks. There were three doors to the room an_one were bolted. He cautiously opened one of the doors and found it led int_ hallway. But he had no intention of trying to escape. If his jailor wa_illing to trust him in this way he would not betray her trust, and moreover _ot supper was being prepared for him and his prison was very pleasant an_omfortable. So he took a book from the case and sat down in a big chair t_ook at the pictures.
  • This amused him until the woman came in with a large tray and spread a clot_n one of the tables. Then she arranged his supper, which proved the mos_aried and delicious meal Ojo had ever eaten in his life.
  • Tollydiggle sat near him while he ate, sewing on some fancy work she held i_er lap. When he had finished she cleared the table and then read to him _tory from one of the books.
  • "Is this really a prison?" he asked, when she had finished reading.
  • "Indeed it is," she replied. "It is the only prison in the Land of Oz."
  • "And am I a prisoner?"
  • "Bless the child! Of course."
  • "Then why is the prison so fine, and why are you so kind to me?" he earnestl_sked.
  • Tollydiggle seemed surprised by the question, but she presently answered:
  • "We consider a prisoner unfortunate. He is unfortunate in two ways—because h_as done something wrong and because he is deprived of his liberty. Therefor_e should treat him kindly, because of his misfortune, for otherwise he woul_ecome hard and bitter and would not be sorry he had done wrong. Ozma think_hat one who has committed a fault did so because he was not strong and brave; therefore she puts him in prison to make him strong and brave. When that i_ccomplished he is no longer a prisoner, but a good and loyal citizen an_veryone is glad that he is now strong enough to resist doing wrong. You see, it is kindness that makes one strong and brave; and so we are kind to ou_risoners."
  • Ojo thought this over very carefully. "I had an idea," said he, "tha_risoners were always treated harshly, to punish them."
  • "That would be dreadful!" cried Tollydiggle. "Isn't one punished enough i_nowing he has done wrong? Don't you wish, Ojo, with all your heart, that yo_ad not been disobedient and broken a Law of Oz?"
  • "I—I hate to be different from other people," he admitted.
  • "Yes; one likes to be respected as highly as his neighbors are," said th_oman. "When you are tried and found guilty, you will be obliged to mak_mends, in some way. I don't know just what Ozma will do to you, because thi_s the first time one of us has broken a Law; but you may be sure she will b_ust and merciful. Here in the Emerald City people are too happy and contente_ver to do wrong; but perhaps you came from some faraway corner of our land, and having no love for Ozma carelessly broke one of her Laws."
  • "Yes," said Ojo, "I've lived all my life in the heart of a lonely forest, where I saw no one but dear Unc Nunkie."
  • "I thought so," said Tollydiggle. "But now we have talked enough, so let u_lay a game until bedtime."