Prairie-Dog Town eBook: Page2
L. Frank Baum (2014)
Teenty and Weenty
All around the sides of the dining-room were pockets, or bins, in thewall; and these were full of those things the prairie-dogs are mostfond of eating. Clover-seeds filled one bin, and sweet roots another;dried mulberry leaves--that must have come from a long distance--werein another bin, and even kernels of yellow field corn were heaped inone place. The Puff-Pudgys were surely in no danger of starving forsome time to come.
"Teenty! Put back that grain of wheat," commanded the mother, in asevere voice.
THE CHILDREN EXAMINE THE DINING-ROOM]
Instead of obeying, Teenty put the wheat in his mouth and ate it asquickly as possible.
"The little dears are _so_ restless," Mrs. Puff-Pudgy said to Twinkle,"that it's hard to manage them."
"They don't behave," remarked Chubbins, staring hard at the children.
"No, they have a share of their father's obstinate nature," repliedMrs. Puff-Pudgy. "Excuse me a minute and I'll cuff them; It'll do themgood."
But before their mother could reach them, the children found troubleof their own. Teenty sprang at Weenty and began to fight, because hisbrother had pinched him, and Weenty fought back with all his mightand main. They scratched with their claws and bit with their teeth,and rolled over and over upon the floor, bumping into the wall andupsetting the chairs, and snarling and growling all the while like twopuppies.
Mrs. Puff-Pudgy sat down and watched them, but did not interfere.
"Won't they hurt themselves?" asked Twinkle, anxiously.
"Perhaps so," said the mother; "but if they do, it will punish them forbeing so naughty. I always let them fight it out, because they are sosore for a day or two afterward that they have to keep quiet, and thenI get a little rest."
Weenty set up a great howling, just then, and Teenty drew away fromhis defeated brother and looked at him closely. The fur on both of themwas badly mussed up, and Weenty had a long scratch on his nose, thatmust have hurt him, or he wouldn't have howled so. Teenty's left eyewas closed tight, but if it hurt him he bore the pain in silence.
Mrs. Puff-Pudgy now pushed them both into a little room and shut themup, saying they must stay there until bedtime; and then she led Twinkleand Chubbins into the kitchen and showed them a pool of clear water, ina big clay basin, that had been caught during the last rain and savedfor drinking purposes. The children drank of it, and found it cool andrefreshing.
Then they saw the bedrooms, and learned that the beds of prairie-dogswere nothing more than round hollows made in heaps of clay. Theseanimals always curl themselves up when they sleep, and the roundhollows just fitted their bodies; so, no doubt, they found them verycomfortable.
There were several bedrooms, for the Puff-Pudgy house was really verylarge. It was also very cool and pleasant, being all underground andnot a bit damp.
After they had admired everything in a way that made Mrs. Puff-Pudgyvery proud and happy, their hostess took one of the lighted candlesfrom a bracket and said she would now escort them to the house of theHonorable Mr. Bowko, the Mayor.
The Mayor Gives a Luncheon
"Don't we have to go upstairs and out of doors?" asked Twinkle.
"Oh, no," replied the prairie-dog, "we have halls connecting all thedifferent houses of importance. Just follow me, and you can't get lost."
They might easily have been lost without their guide, the little girlthought, after they had gone through several winding passages. Theyturned this way and that, in quite a bewildering manner, and there wereso many underground tunnels going in every direction that it was awonder Mrs. Puff-Pudgy knew which way to go.
"You ought to have sign-posts," said Chubbins, who had once been in acity.
"Why, as for that, every one in the town knows which way to go,"answered their guide; "and it isn't often we have visitors. Last weeka gray owl stopped with us for a couple of days, and we had a fineball in her honor. But you are the first humans that have ever beenentertained in our town, so it's quite an event with us." A few minuteslater she said: "Here we are, at the Mayor's house," and as they passedunder a broad archway she blew out her candle, because the Mayor'shouse was so brilliantly lighted.
THE LUNCHEON AT THE MAYOR'S]
"Welcome!" said Mr. Bowko, greeting the children with polite bows. "Youare just in time, for luncheon is about ready and my guests are waitingfor you."
He led them at once into a big dining-room that was so magnificentlypainted with colored clays that the walls were as bright as Junerainbow.
"How pretty!" cried Twinkle, clapping her hands together in delight.
"I'm glad you like it," said the Mayor, much pleased. "Some people,who are lacking in good taste, think it's a little overdone, but aMayor's house should be gorgeous, I think, so as to be a credit to thecommunity. My grandfather, who designed and painted this house, was avery fine artist. But luncheon is ready, so pray be seated."
They sat down on little clay chairs that were placed at the roundtable. The Mayor sat on one side of Twinkle and Mrs. Puff-Pudgy onthe other, and Chubbins was between the skinny old magician and Mr.Sneezeley. Also, in other chairs sat Dr. Dosem, and Mrs. Chatterby, andMrs. Fuzcum, and several others. It was a large company, indeed, whichshowed that the Mayor considered this a very important occasion.
They were waited upon by several sleek prairie-dog maids in whiteaprons and white caps, who looked neat and respectable, and were verygraceful in their motions.
Neither Twinkle nor Chubbins was very hungry, but they were curiousto know what kind of food the prairie-dogs ate, so they watchedcarefully when the different dishes were passed around. Only grainsand vegetables were used, for prairie-dogs do not eat meat. There wasa milk-weed soup at first; and then yellow corn, boiled and slicedthin. Afterward they had a salad of thistle leaves, and some bread madeof barley. The dessert was a dish of the sweet, dark honey made byprairie-bees, and some cakes flavored with sweet and spicy roots thatonly prairie-dogs know how to find.
The children tasted of several dishes, just to show their politeness;but they couldn't eat much. Chubbins spent most of his time watchingMr. Presto Digi, who ate up everything that was near him and seemedto be as hungry after the luncheon as he had been before.
MRS. FUZCUM SINGING]
Mrs. Puff-Pudgy talked so much about the social standing and dignityof the Puff-Pudgys that she couldn't find time to eat much, althoughshe asked for the recipe of the milk-weed soup. But most of the otherspresent paid strict attention to the meal and ate with very goodappetites.
On Top of the Earth Again
Afterward they all went into the big drawing-room, where Mrs. Fuzcumsang a song for them in a very shrill voice, and Mr. Sneezeley and Mrs.Chatterby danced a graceful minuet that was much admired by all present.
"We ought to be going home," said Twinkle, after this entertainment wasover. "I'm afraid our folks will worry about us."
"We regret to part with you," replied the Mayor; "but, if you reallythink you ought to go, we will not be so impolite as to urge you tostay."
"You'll find we have excellent manners," added Mrs. Puff-Pudgy.
"I want to get big again," said Chubbins.
"Very well; please step this way," said the Mayor.
So they all followed him through a long passage until they began to goupward, as if climbing a hill. And then a gleam of daylight showed justahead of them, and a few more steps brought them to the hole in themiddle of the mound.
The Mayor and Mrs. Puff-Pudgy jumped up first, and then they helpedTwinkle and Chubbins to scramble out. The strong sunlight made themblink their eyes for a time, but when they were able to look aroundthey found one or more heads of prairie-dogs sticking from every mound.
"DO YOU THINK WE'VE BEEN ASLEEP?"]
"Now, Mr. Presto Digi," said the Mayor, when all the party werestanding on the ground, "please enlarge our friends to their naturalsizes again."
"I will, some time," promised the Mayor. "Just now, this is all I canrequire of you."
So the magician waved his paw and gurgled, much in the same way he haddone before, and Twinkle and Chubbins began to grow and swell out untilthey were as large as ever, and the prairie-dogs again seemed verysmall beside them.
"Good-bye," said the little girl, "and thank you all, very much, foryour kindness to us."
"Good-bye!" answered a chorus of small voices, and then all theprairie-dogs popped into their holes and quickly disappeared.
Twinkle and Chubbins found they were sitting on the green bank again,at the edge of Prairie-Dog Town.
"Do you think we've been asleep, Chub?" asked the girl.
"'Course not," replied Chubbins, with a big yawn. "It's easy 'nough toknow that, Twink, 'cause I'm sleepy now!"