10 July 2009

Dorothy Meets Her Match

From L. Frank Baum's The Road to Oz, the focus of the Winkie Convention that starts today in California. While on a hike that will eventually take her to Oz, Dorothy meets a younger child.

In the shade sat a little boy dressed in sailor clothes, who was digging a hole in the earth with a bit of wood. He must have been digging some time, because the hole was already big enough to drop a football into.

Dorothy and Toto and the shaggy man came to a halt before the little boy, who kept on digging in a sober and persistent fashion.

"Who are you?" asked the girl.

He looked up at her calmly. His face was round and chubby and his eyes were big, blue and earnest.

"I'm Button-Bright," said he.

"But what's your real name?" she inquired.


"That isn't a really-truly name!" she exclaimed.

"Isn't it?" he asked, still digging.

"'Course not. It's just a--a thing to call you by. You must have a name."

"Must I?"

"To be sure. What does your mama call you?"

He paused in his digging and tried to think.

"Papa always said I was bright as a button; so mama always called me Button-Bright," he said.

"What is your papa's name?"

"Just Papa."

"What else?"

"Don't know."

"Never mind," said the shaggy man, smiling. "We'll call the boy Button-Bright, as his mama does. That name is as good as any, and better than some."

Dorothy watched the boy dig. . . . "What are you going to do?" she inquired.

"Dig," said he.

"But you can't dig forever; and what are you going to do then?" she persisted.

"Don't know," said the boy.

"But you must know something," declared Dorothy, getting provoked.

"Must I?" he asked, looking up in surprise.

"Of course you must."

"What must I know?"

"What's going to become of you, for one thing," she answered.

"Do you know what's going to become of me?" he asked.

"Not--not 'zactly," she admitted.

"Do you know what's going to become of you?" he continued, earnestly.

"I can't say I do," replied Dorothy, remembering her present difficulties.

The shaggy man laughed.

"No one knows everything, Dorothy," he said.

"But Button-Bright doesn't seem to know anything," she declared. "Do you, Button-Bright?"

He shook his head, which had pretty curls all over it, and replied with perfect calmness:

"Don't know."
And by the end of the book, we still don't know Button-Bright's real name, home, or how he came to be by the side of that road.

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