"Well, I'm not afraid of a man," declared the girl, much relieved, and even as she spoke the Royal Gardener popped into the greenhouse--a spading fork in one hand and a watering pot in the other.
He was a funny little man, dressed in a rose- colored costume, with ribbons at his knees and elbows, and a bunch of ribbons in his hair. His eyes were small and twinkling, his nose sharp and his face puckered and deeply lined.
"O-ho!" he exclaimed, astonished to find strangers in his greenhouse, and when Hank gave a loud bray the Gardener threw the watering pot over the mule's head and danced around with his fork, in such agitation that presently he fell over the handle of the implement and sprawled at full length upon the ground.
Betsy laughed and pulled the watering pot off from Hank's head. The little mule was angry at the treatment he had received and backed toward the Gardener threateningly.
"Look out for his heels!" called Betsy warningly and the Gardener scrambled to his feet and hastily hid behind the Roses.
"You are breaking the Law!" he shouted, sticking out his head to glare at the girl and the mule.
"What Law?" asked Betsy.
"The Law of the Rose Kingdom. No strangers are allowed in these domains."
"Not when they're shipwrecked?" she inquired.
"The Law doesn't except shipwrecks," replied the Royal Gardener, and he was about to say more when suddenly there was a crash of glass and a man came tumbling through the roof of the greenhouse and fell plump to the ground.
Shaggy Seeks his Stray Brother
This sudden arrival was a queer looking man, dressed all in garments so shaggy that Betsy at first thought he must be some animal. But the stranger ended his fall in a sitting position and then the girl saw it was really a man. He held an apple in his hand, which he had evidently been eating when he fell, and so little was he jarred or flustered by the accident that he continued to munch this apple as he calmly looked around him.
"Good gracious!" exclaimed Betsy, approaching him. "Who are you, and where did you come from?"
"Me? Oh, I'm Shaggy Man," said he, taking another bite of the apple. "Just dropped in for a short call. Excuse my seeming haste."
"Why, I s'pose you couldn't help the haste," said Betsy.
"No. I climbed an apple tree, outside; branch gave way and--here I am."
As he spoke the Shaggy Man finished his apple, gave the core to Hank--who ate it greedily --and then stood up to bow politely to Betsy and the Roses.
The Royal Gardener had been frightened nearly into fits by the crash of glass and the fall of the shaggy stranger into the bower of Roses, but now he peeped out from behind a bush and cried in his squeaky voice:
"You're breaking the Law! You're breaking the Law!"
Shaggy stared at him solemnly.
"Is the glass the Law in this country?" he asked.
"Breaking the glass is breaking the Law," squeaked the Gardener, angrily. "Also, to intrude in any part of the Rose Kingdom is breaking the Law."
"How do you know?" asked Shaggy.
"Why, it's printed in a book," said the Gardener, coming forward and taking a small book from his pocket. "Page thirteen. Here it is: 'If any stranger enters the Rose Kingdom he shall at once be condemned by the Ruler and put to death.' So you see, strangers," he continued triumphantly, "it's death for you all and your time has come!"
But just here Hank interposed. He had been stealthily backing toward the Royal Gardener, whom he disliked, and now the mule's heels shot out and struck the little man in the middle. He doubled up like the letter "U" and flew out of the door so swiftly--never touching the ground --that he was gone before Betsy had time to wink.
But the mule's attack frightened the girl.
"Come," she whispered, approaching the Shaggy Man and taking his hand; "let's go somewhere else. They'll surely kill us if we stay here!"
"Don't worry, my dear," replied Shaggy, patting the child's head. "I'm not afraid of anything, so long as I have the Love Magnet."
"The Love Magnet! Why, what is that?" asked Betsy.