Dot and Tot of Merryland eBook: Page2

L. Frank Baum (2011)


  The boy was a year or two younger than Dot, and seemed a chubbylittle fellow as he sat with his legs spread apart and his dark eyesraised wonderingly to the face of his unexpected visitor. Waves ofbrown hair clustered loosely about his broad forehead, and his dresswas neat, though of a coarse material.

  He paused in his play and stared hard at Dot for a moment; thendropped his eyes bashfully and ran his fingers through the whitepebbles in an embarrassed way.

  "Who are you?" asked the girl, in the calm, matter-of-fact tonepeculiar to children, while she continued to regard the boy with theinterest of a discoverer.

  "Tot," was the low reply.

  "Tot who?" she demanded.

  "Tot Tompum," murmured the boy.

  "Tompum! That doesn't mean anything," said Dot, decidedly.

  This positive statement seemed to annoy the little fellow. He raisedhis eyes half shyly a moment and said, in a louder voice:

  "Papa Tompum cuts the grass, an' makes the flowers grow. I'm TotTompum."

  "Oh," said Dot; "you must mean Thompson. Thompson's the gardener, Iknow, and gardeners make the flowers grow and cut the grass."

  The boy nodded his head twice as if to say she was right.

  "Gard'ner," he repeated. "Papa Tompum. I'm Tot Tompum."

  Then he took courage to look up again, and seeing a friendly smileupon Dot's face he asked boldly, "Who is you?"

  "Oh, I'm Dot," she answered, sitting down beside him. "My whole nameis Dot Freeland."

  "Dot F'eelan'," said Tot.

  "Freeland," corrected Dot.

  "F'eelan'," said Tot.

  "Never mind," laughed the girl; "let us play together. What were youdoing with the pebbles?"

  "Jack-stones," said the boy, and gravely picking out five of thewhite pebbles, nearly of one size, he tossed them into the air andtried to catch them on the back of his hand. Two tumbled off, and Dotlaughed. The boy laughed, too, and tried it again. Before long theyhad become fast friends, and were laughing and chatting together ashappily as if they had known one another for months.

  Tot's mother, hearing their voices, came to the door of her cottage;but seeing her boy's new playmate was "the young lady at themansion," she smiled and returned to her work.

  Presently Dot jumped up.

  "Come, Tot," she cried, "let us go where your father is working. Isaw him weeding one of the flower beds this morning."

  Tot scrambled to his feet and poured the white pebbles from his hat,after which he placed it upon the back of his head; so far back,indeed, that Dot wondered why it did not tumble off.

  "We'll go see Papa Tompum," he said, trotting along beside his newfriend.

  Thompson, the gardener, was quite surprised to see his little boyholding fast to the hand of the rich banker's daughter, and chattingaway as frankly as if he had known her for years; but Thompson hadlearned by this time that Dot ruled everyone about the place and didexactly as she pleased, so he made no protest. As he watched thechildren running about the grounds where Tot was usually forbidden toplay, Thompson felt proud that his boy had been selected by "theyoung lady" for so high and honorable a position as her playmate.

  He made no protest when they raced across a flower bed and left theprints of their small feet upon the soft earth, for Dot held Totfirmly by the hand, and he obediently followed wherever she led. Thebig red roses attracted her fancy, and she ruthlessly plucked ahandful and stuck them in rows around the rim of Tot's hat as well asher own, although the poor gardener, who had tended these flowers sopatiently that they had become precious in his eyes, actually wincedand shivered with dismay at witnessing the careless and, to him,cruel manner in which the young mistress of the house destroyed them.But Dot knew they were her property and enjoyed the roses in her ownway; while Tot, although he may have felt guilty, wisely shifted allresponsibility to his companion, and admired the royal way in whichshe accepted everything about the place as her very own.

  When the luncheon gong sounded from the big house, and Dot left Totto obey the summons, she said to him, "Tomorrow I will bring a basketof sandwiches and cake, and we'll have a picnic down by the riverbank."

  "All right!" answered Tot, and trotted away toward his father'scottage.

  It had been an eventful day to him, for he had found a delightfulplaymate.