The seventh road was a good road, and curved this way and that—winding throug_reen meadows and fields covered with daisies and buttercups and past group_f shady trees. There were no houses of any sort to be seen, and for som_istance they met with no living creature at all.
Dorothy began to fear they were getting a good way from the farm-house, sinc_ere everything was strange to her; but it would do no good at all to go bac_here the other roads all met, because the next one they chose might lead he_ust as far from home.
She kept on beside the shaggy man, who whistled cheerful tunes to beguile th_ourney, until by and by they followed a turn in the road and saw before the_ big chestnut tree making a shady spot over the highway. In the shade sat _ittle boy dressed in sailor clothes, who was digging a hole in the earth wit_ bit of wood. He must have been digging some time, because the hole wa_lready big enough to drop a football into.
Dorothy and Toto and the shaggy man came to a halt before the little boy, wh_ept on digging in a sober and persistent fashion.
"Who are you?" asked the girl.
He looked up at her calmly. His face was round and chubby and his eyes wer_ig, blue and earnest.
"I'm Button-Bright," said he.
"But what's your real name?" she inquired.
"That isn't a really-truly name!" she exclaimed.
"Isn't it?" he asked, still digging.
"'Course not. It's just a—a thing to call you by. You must have a name."
"To be sure. What does your mama call you?"
He paused in his digging and tried to think.
"Papa always said I was bright as a button; so mama always called me Button- Bright," he said.
"What is your papa's name?"
"Never mind," said the shaggy man, smiling. "We'll call the boy Button-Bright, as his mama does. That name is as good as any, and better than some."
Dorothy watched the boy dig.
"Where do you live?" she asked.
"Don't know," was the reply.
"How did you come here?"
"Don't know," he said again.
"Don't you know where you came from?"
"No," said he.
"Why, he must be lost," she said to the shaggy man. She turned to the boy onc_ore.
"What are you going to do?" she inquired.
"Dig," said he.
"But you can't dig forever; and what are you going to do then?" she persisted.
"Don't know," said the boy.
"But you MUST know SOMETHING," declared Dorothy, getting provoked.
"Must I?" he asked, looking up in surprise.
"Of course you must."
"What must I know?"
"What's going to become of you, for one thing," she answered.
"Do YOU know what's going to become of me?" he asked.
"Not—not 'zactly," she admitted.
"Do you know what's going to become of YOU?" he continued, earnestly.
"I can't say I do," replied Dorothy, remembering her present difficulties.
The shaggy man laughed.
"No one knows everything, Dorothy," he said.
"But Button-Bright doesn't seem to know ANYthing," she declared. "Do you, Button-Bright?"
He shook his head, which had pretty curls all over it, and replied wit_erfect calmness:
Never before had Dorothy met with anyone who could give her so littl_nformation. The boy was evidently lost, and his people would be sure to worr_bout him. He seemed two or three years younger than Dorothy, and was prettil_ressed, as if someone loved him dearly and took much pains to make him loo_ell. How, then, did he come to be in this lonely road? she wondered.
Near Button-Bright, on the ground, lay a sailor hat with a gilt anchor on th_and. His sailor trousers were long and wide at the bottom, and the broa_ollar of his blouse had gold anchors sewed on its corners. The boy was stil_igging at his hole.
"Have you ever been to sea?" asked Dorothy.
"To see what?" answered Button-Bright.
"I mean, have you ever been where there's water?"
"Yes," said Button-Bright; "there's a well in our back yard."
"You don't understand," cried Dorothy. "I mean, have you ever been on a bi_hip floating on a big ocean?"
"Don't know," said he.
"Then why do you wear sailor clothes?"
"Don't know," he answered, again.
Dorothy was in despair.
"You're just AWFUL stupid, Button-Bright," she said.
"Am I?" he asked.
"Yes, you are."
"Why?" looking up at her with big eyes.
She was going to say: "Don't know," but stopped herself in time.
"That's for you to answer," she replied.
"It's no use asking Button-Bright questions," said the shaggy man, who ha_een eating another apple; "but someone ought to take care of the poor littl_hap, don't you think? So he'd better come along with us."
Toto had been looking with great curiosity in the hole which the boy wa_igging, and growing more and more excited every minute, perhaps thinking tha_utton-Bright was after some wild animal. The little dog began barking loudl_nd jumped into the hole himself, where he began to dig with his tiny paws, making the earth fly in all directions. It spattered over the boy. Doroth_eized him and raised him to his feet, brushing his clothes with her hand.
"Stop that, Toto!" she called. "There aren't any mice or woodchucks in tha_ole, so don't be foolish."
Toto stopped, sniffed at the hole suspiciously, and jumped out of it, waggin_is tail as if he had done something important.
"Well," said the shaggy man, "let's start on, or we won't get anywhere befor_ight comes."
"Where do you expect to get to?" asked Dorothy.
"I'm like Button-Bright. I don't know," answered the shaggy man, with a laugh.
"But I've learned from long experience that every road leads somewhere, o_here wouldn't be any road; so it's likely that if we travel long enough, m_ear, we will come to some place or another in the end. What place it will b_e can't even guess at this moment, but we're sure to find out when we ge_here."
"Why, yes," said Dorothy; "that seems reas'n'ble, Shaggy Man."