Chapter 10. The Guardian of the Gate
It was some time before the Cowardly Lion awakened, for he had lain among the poppies a long while, breathing in their deadly fragrance; but when he did open his eyes and roll off the truck he was very glad to find himself still alive.
"I ran as fast as I could," he said, sitting down and yawning, "but the flowers were too strong for me. How did you get me out?"
Then they told him of the field mice, and how they had generously saved him from death; and the Cowardly Lion laughed, and said:
"I have always thought myself very big and terrible; yet such little things as flowers came near to killing me, and such small animals as mice have saved my life. How strange it all is! But, comrades, what shall we do now?"
"We must journey on until we find the road of yellow brick again," said Dorothy, "and then we can keep on to the Emerald City."
So, the Lion being fully refreshed, and feeling quite himself again, they all started upon the journey, greatly enjoying the walk through the soft, fresh grass; and it was not long before they reached the road of yellow brick and turned again toward the Emerald City where the Great Oz dwelt.
The road was smooth and well paved, now, and the country about was beautiful, so that the travelers rejoiced in leaving the forest far behind, and with it the many dangers they had met in its gloomy shades. Once more they could see fences built beside the road; but these were painted green, and when they came to a small house, in which a farmer evidently lived, that also was painted green. They passed by several of these houses during the afternoon, and sometimes people came to the doors and looked at them as if they would like to ask questions; but no one came near them nor spoke to them because of the great Lion, of which they were very much afraid. The people were all dressed in clothing of a lovely emerald-green color and wore peaked hats like those of the Munchkins.
"This must be the Land of Oz," said Dorothy, "and we are surely getting near the Emerald City."
"Yes," answered the Scarecrow. "Everything is green here, while in the country of the Munchkins blue was the favorite color. But the people do not seem to be as friendly as the Munchkins, and I'm afraid we shall be unable to find a place to pass the night."
"I should like something to eat besides fruit," said the girl, "and I'm sure Toto is nearly starved. Let us stop at the next house and talk to the people."
So, when they came to a good-sized farmhouse, Dorothy walked boldly up to the door and knocked.
A woman opened it just far enough to look out, and said, "What do you want, child, and why is that great Lion with you?"
"We wish to pass the night with you, if you will allow us," answered Dorothy; "and the Lion is my friend and comrade, and would not hurt you for the world."
"Is he tame?" asked the woman, opening the door a little wider.
"Oh, yes," said the girl, "and he is a great coward, too. He will be more afraid of you than you are of him."
"Well," said the woman, after thinking it over and taking another peep at the Lion, "if that is the case you may come in, and I will give you some supper and a place to sleep."
So they all entered the house, where there were, besides the woman, two children and a man. The man had hurt his leg, and was lying on the couch in a corner. They seemed greatly surprised to see so strange a company, and while the woman was busy laying the table the man asked:
"Where are you all going?"
"To the Emerald City," said Dorothy, "to see the Great Oz."
"Oh, indeed!" exclaimed the man. "Are you sure that Oz will see you?"
"Why not?" she replied.