"King Kik-a-bray says you must not forget his invitation," said the brown donkey, as they passed through the opening in the wall.
"I shan't," promised Dorothy.
Perhaps no one ever beheld a more strangely assorted group than the one which now walked along the road, through pretty green fields and past groves of feathery pepper-trees and fragrant mimosa. Polychrome, her beautiful gauzy robes floating around her like a rainbow cloud, went first, dancing back and forth and darting now here to pluck a wild-flower or there to watch a beetle crawl across the path. Toto ran after her at times, barking joyously the while, only to become sober again and trot along at Dorothy's heels. The little Kansas girl walked holding Button-Bright's hand clasped in her own, and the wee boy with his fox head covered by the sailor hat presented an odd appeaance. Strangest of all, perhaps, was the shaggy man, with his shaggy donkey head, who shuffled along in the rear with his hands thrust deep in his big pockets.
None of the party was really unhappy. All were straying in an unknown land and had suffered more or less annoyance and discomfort; but they realized they were having a fairy adventure in a fairy country, and were much interested in finding out what would happen next.
8. The Musicker
About the middle of the forenoon they began to go up a long hill. By-and-by this hill suddenly dropped down into a pretty valley, where the travelers saw, to their surprise, a small house standing by the road-side.
It was the first house they had seen, and they hastened into the valley to discover who lived there. No one was in sight as they approached, but when they began to get nearer the house they heard queer sounds coming from it. They could not make these out at first, but as they became louder our friends thought they heard a sort of music like that made by a wheezy hand-organ; the music fell upon their ears in this way:
Tiddle-widdle-iddle oom pom-pom! Oom, pom-pom! oom, pom-pom! Tiddle-tiddle-tiddle oom pom-pom! Oom, pom-pom--pah!
"What is it, a band or a mouth-organ?" asked Dorothy.
"Don't know," said Button-Bright.
"Sounds to me like a played-out phonograph," said the shaggy man, lifting his enormous ears to listen.
"Oh, there just COULDN'T be a funnygraf in Fairyland!" cried Dorothy.
"It's rather pretty, isn't it?" asked Polychrome, trying to dance to the strains.
Tiddle-widdle-iddle, oom pom-pom, Oom pom-pom; oom pom-pom!
came the music to their ears, more distinctly as they drew nearer the house. Presently, they saw a little fat man sitting on a bench before the door. He wore a red, braided jacket that reached to his waist, a blue waistcoat, and white trousers with gold stripes down the sides. On his bald head was perched a little, round, red cap held in place by a rubber elastic underneath his chin. His face was round, his eyes a faded blue, and he wore white cotton gloves. The man leaned on a stout gold-headed cane, bending forward on his seat to watch his visitors approach.
Singularly enough, the musical sounds they had heard seemed to come from the inside of the fat man himself; for he was playing no instrument nor was any to be seen near him.
They came up and stood in a row, staring at him, and he stared back while the queer sounds came from him as before:
Tiddle-iddle-iddle, oom pom-pom, Oom, pom-pom; oom pom-pom! Tiddle-widdle-iddle, oom pom-pom, Oom, pom-pom--pah!
Why, he's a reg'lar musicker!" said Button-Bright.
"What's a musicker?" asked Dorothy.
"Him!" said the boy.
Hearing this, the fat man sat up a little stiffer than before, as if he had received a compliment, and still came the sounds:
Tiddle-widdle-iddle, oom pom-pom, Oom pom-pom, oom--
"Stop it!" cried the shaggy man, earnestly. "Stop that dreadful noise."
The fat man looked at him sadly and began his reply. When he spoke the music changed and the words seemed to accompany the notes. He said--or rather sang:
It isn't a noise that you hear, But Music, harmonic and clear. My breath makes me play Like an organ, all day-- That bass note is in my left ear.