"It's a charming little enchantment that wins the heart of everyone who looks upon it," was the reply. "The Love Magnet used to hang over the gateway to the Emerald City, in the Land of Oz; but when I started on this journey our beloved Ruler, Ozma of Oz, allowed me to take it with me."
"Oh!" cried Betsy, staring hard at him; "are you really from the wonderful Land of Oz?"
"Yes. Ever been there, my dear?"
"No; but I've heard about it. And do you know Princess Ozma?"
"Very well indeed."
"And--and Princess Dorothy?"
"Dorothy's an old chum of mine," declared Shaggy.
"Dear me!" exclaimed Betsy. "And why did you ever leave such a beautiful land as Oz?"
"On an errand," said Shaggy, looking sad and solemn. "I'm trying to find my dear little brother."
"Oh! Is he lost?" questioned Betsy, feeling very sorry for the poor man.
"Been lost these ten years," replied Shaggy, taking out a handkerchief and wiping a tear from his eye. "I didn't know it until lately, when I saw it recorded in the magic Record Book of the Sorceress Glinda, in the Land of Oz. So now I'm trying to find him."
"Where was he lost?" asked the girl sympathetically.
"Back in Colorado, where I used to live before I went to Oz. Brother was a miner, and dug gold out of a mine. One day he went into his mine and never came out. They searched for him, but he was not there. Disappeared entirely," Shaggy ended miserably.
"For goodness sake! What do you s'pose became of him?" she asked.
"There is only one explanation," replied Shaggy, taking another apple from his pocket and eating it to relieve his misery. "The Nome King probably got him."
"The Nome King! Who is he?"
"Why, he's sometimes called the Metal Monarch, and his name is Ruggedo. Lives in some underground cavern. Claims to own all the metals hidden in the earth. Don't ask me why."
"Cause I don't know. But this Ruggedo gets wild with anger if anyone digs gold out of the earth, and my private opinion is that he captured brother and carried him off to his underground kingdom. No--don't ask me why. I see you're dying to ask me why. But I don't know."
"But--dear me!--in that case you will never find your lost brother!" exclaimed the girl.
"Maybe not; but it's my duty to try," answered Shaggy. "I've wandered so far without finding him, but that only proves he is not where I've been looking. What I seek now is the hidden passage to the underground cavern of the terrible Metal Monarch."
"Well," said Betsy doubtfully, "it strikes me that if you ever manage to get there the Metal Monarch will make you, too, his prisoner."
"Nonsense!" answered Shaggy, carelessly. "You mustn't forget the Love Magnet."
"What about it?" she asked.
"When the fierce Metal Monarch sees the Love Magnet, he will love me dearly and do anything I ask."
"It must be wonderful," said Betsy, with awe.
"It is," the man assured her. "Shall I show it to you?"
"Oh, do!" she cried; so Shaggy searched in his shaggy pocket and drew out a small silver magnet, shaped like a horseshoe.
The moment Betsy saw it she began to like the Shaggy Man better than before. Hank also saw the Magnet and crept up to Shaggy to rub his head lovingly against the man's knee.
But they were interrupted by the Royal Gardener, who stuck his head into the greenhouse and shouted angrily:
"You are all condemned to death! Your only chance to escape is to leave here instantly."
This startled little Betsy, but the Shaggy Man merely waved the Magnet toward the Gardener, who, seeing it, rushed forward and threw himself at Shaggy's feet, murmuring in honeyed words:
"Oh, you lovely, lovely man! How fond I am of you! Every shag and bobtail that decorates you is dear to me--all I have is yours! But for goodness' sake get out of here before you die the death."
"I'm not going to die," declared Shaggy Man.
"You must. It's the Law," exclaimed the Gardener, beginning to weep real tears. "It breaks my heart to tell you this bad news, but the Law says that all strangers must be condemned by the Ruler to die the death."
"No Ruler has condemned us yet," said Betsy.