Chapter 10 – The Guardian of the Gate
It was some time before the cowardly lion woke up, because he had lied down among the poppies for a long time. When he opened his eyes and rolled off the cart, he was very glad to find himself alive.
“I ran as fast as I could,” he said, sitting up and yawning, “but the flowers were too strong for me. How did you get me out?”
They told him about the field mice and how they had generously saved him from death. The cowardly lion laughed and said:
“I have always thought that I was very big and terrible, yet I was almost killed by flowers and little mice saved my life. How strange! But, friends, what are we going to do now?”
“We must keep going until we find the yellow brick road again,” said Dorothy, “and then we can continue on to the Emerald City.”
So the lion, being fully rested and feeling good, stood up. They all started on their journey again, greatly enjoying the walk through the soft, dress grass. It was not long before they reached the yellow brick road and started toward the Emerald City where the Great Oz lived.
The road was smooth and well paved now, and the country was beautiful. The travelers felt joy leaving the forest far behind. They had met many dangers in its gloom. Once more, they saw fences built beside the road, but these were painted green. When they came to a small house, in which a farmer lived, that was also painted green. They passed several green houses during the afternoon and sometimes people came to the doors and looked at them as if they wanted to ask questions. But no one came near them or spoke to them because they were scared of the great lion. The people were all dressed in clothing of a lovely emerald color and wore pointed hats like the Munchkins’ hats.
“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, but was the favorite color. But the people here do not seem to be as friendly as the Munchkins. I’m afraid that we won’t be able to find a place to spend the night.”
“I want something to eat besides fruit,” said the girl, “and I’m sure Toto is nearly starved. Let’s 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 only enough to look out, and said, “What do you want, child, and why is that great lion with you?”
“We wish to spend the night with you, if that’s alright,” Dorothy answered, “and the lion is my friend. He won’t harm you at all.”
“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 afraid of him.”
“Well,” said the woman, after thinking it over and taking another look at the lion, “if that is the case, you may come in. I will give you some dinner and a place to sleep.”
So they all entered the house. Besides the woman, there were 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 such a strange group. While the woman was setting the table, the man asked:
“Where are you all going?”
“To the Emerald City,” explained Dorothy, “to see the Great Oz.”
“Oh, indeed!” exclaimed the man. “Are you sure that Oz will meet with you?”
“Why not?” she replied.
“Well, it is said that he never lets anyone see him. I have been to the Emerald City many times, and it is a beautiful and wonderful place, but I have never been allowed to see the Great Oz. I don’t know any living person who has seen him.”
“Does he never go out?” asked the scarecrow.
“Never. He sits day after day in the great Throne Room of his palace. Even those who take care of him do not see him face to face.”
“What is he like?” asked the girl.
“That is hard to say,” said the man thoughtfully. “You see, Oz is a great wizard, and can change into any form. Some say he looks like a bird. Some say he looks like an elephant. Some say he looks like a cat. To others, he appears as a beautiful fairy, or a cake, or any form that he chooses. But nobody knows the Oz’s real form.”
“That is very strange,” said Dorothy, “but we must try, somehow, to see him, or our journey will be worthless.”
“Why do you wish to see the terrible Oz?” asked the man.
“I want him to give me a brain,” said the scarecrow eagerly.
“Oh, Oz could do that easily,” said the man. “He has more brains than he needs.”
“And I want him to give me a heart,” said the tin man.
“That will be no trouble for him,” continued the man, “because Oz has a large collection of hearts. All sizes and shapes.”
“And I want him to give me courage,” said the cowardly lion.
“Oz keeps a big pot of courage in his Throne Room,” said the man, “which he has covered with a golden lid, so that it doesn’t spill over. He will be glad to give you some.”
“And I want him to send me back to Kansas,” said Dorothy.
“Where is Kansas?” the man asked, with surprise.
“I don’t know,” replied Dorothy sadly, “but it is my home, and I’m sure it is somewhere.”
“Well, Oz can do anything, so I suppose he will find Kansas for you. But first, you must get him to see you, and that will be a hard task. The great wizard does not like to see anyone. But what do YOU want?” he continued, speaking to Toto. Toto only wagged his tail. It’s strange, but Toto can not speak.
The woman now called them to dinner. They gathered around the table and Dorothy ate some delicious porridge, scrambled eggs and bread. The lion ate some of the porridge, but didn’t like it because it was made from oats, and oats were food for horses, not for lions. The scarecrow and the tin man ate nothing at all. Toto ate a little of everything, and he was glad to have a good dinner.
The woman gave Dorothy a bed to sleep in, and Toto lied down beside her. The lion guarded the door of her room so that she wouldn’t be bothered. The scarecrow and the tin man stood in a corner and kept quiet all night, although of course, they couldn’t sleep.
The next morning, as soon as the sun was up, they started on their way and soon saw a beautiful green glow ahead.
“That must be the Emerald City,” said Dorothy.
As they walked on, the green glow became brighter and brighter. It seemed that, at last, they were nearing the end of their travels. But it was afternoon before they reached the great wall that surrounded the city. It was tall and bright green.
In front of them, at the end of the yellow brick road, was a big gate. It was studded with emeralds that glittered in the sun. Even the painted eyes of the scarecrow were dazzled by the emeralds.
There was a bell next to the gate, and Dorothy pushed the button. They heard a silvery tinkle sound within. Then, the big gate opened slowly, and they all walked through and found themselves in a high arched room. The walls glittered with countless emeralds.
In front of them, there was a little man who was about the same size as a Munchkin. He was wearing all green, from his head to his feet. Even his skin was greenish. There was a large green box at his side.
When he saw Dorothy and her companions, the man asked, “What is the reason for your visit?”
“We came here to see the Great Oz,” said Dorothy.
The man was so surprised that he sat down to think.
“It has been many years since anyone asked me to see Oz,” he said, shaking his head. “He is powerful and terrible, and if you come for a foolish reason, he might be angry and destroy you all in an instant.”
“But it is not a foolish reason,” replied the scarecrow, “it is important. And we have been told that Oz is a good wizard.”
“He is,” said the green man, “and he rules the Emerald City wisely and well. But to those who are not honest or who are curious about him, he is terrible. Few have ever dared to ask to see his face. I am the Guardian of the Gates, and since you demand to see the Great Oz, I must take you to his Palace. But first, you must put on the glasses.”
“Why?” asked Dorothy.
“Because if you did not wear glasses, the Emerald City’s brightness and glory would blind you. Even the people who live in the City must wear glasses day and night. They are locked on, because Oz ordered it when the City was first build. I have the only key that will unlock the glasses.”
He opened the big box, and Dorothy saw that it was filled with glasses of every size and shape. All of them had green lenses in them. The Guardian of the Gates found a pair that would fit Dorothy and put them over her eyes. There were two golden bands that fastened around the back of her head. The two bands were locked together by the little key that the Guardian of the Gates wore on a necklace. When the glasses were on, Dorothy could not take them off, even if she tried to. But of course, she did not want to be blinded by the brightness of the Emerald City, so she said nothing.
Then, the green man put glasses on the scarecrow, the tin man, the lion, and even on little Toto. They were all locked with the key.
Then the Guardian of the Gates put on his own glasses and told them that they were ready to go to the palace. Taking a big golden key from a peg on the wall, he opened another gate. They all followed him through the gate, into the streets of the Emerald City.