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|Ozma of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
Billina Frightens the Nome King
|Page 2 of 3||
"What's wrong?" asked the Scarecrow.
"Don't take the egg unless the King will allow me to enter the palace and guess as the others have done," said Billina.
"Pshaw!" returned the King. "You're only a hen. How could you guess my enchantments?"
"I can try, I suppose," said Billina. "And, if I fail, you will have another ornament."
"A pretty ornament you'd make, wouldn't you?" growled the King. "But you shall have your way. It will properly punish you for daring to lay an egg in my presence. After the Scarecrow is enchanted you shall follow him into the palace. But how will you touch the objects?"
"With my claws," said the hen; "and I can speak the word 'Ev' as plainly as anyone. Also I must have the right to guess the enchantments of my friends, and to release them if I succeed."
"Very well," said the King. "You have my promise."
"Then," said Billina to the Scarecrow, "you may get the egg."
He knelt down and reached underneath the throne and found the egg, which he placed in another pocket of his jacket, fearing that if both eggs were in one pocket they would knock together and get broken.
Just then a bell above the throne rang briskly, and the King gave another nervous jump.
"Well, well!" said he, with a rueful face; "the girl has actually done it."
"Done what?" asked the Scarecrow.
"She has made one guess that is right, and broken one of my neatest enchantments. By ricketty, it's too bad! I never thought she would do it."
"Do I understand that she will now return to us in safety?" enquired the Scarecrow, joyfully wrinkling his painted face into a broad smile.
"Of course," said the King, fretfully pacing up and down the room. "I always keep my promises, no matter how foolish they are. But I shall make an ornament of the yellow hen to replace the one I have just lost."
"Perhaps you will, and perhaps you won't," murmured Billina, calmly. "I may surprise you by guessing right."
"Guessing right?" snapped the King. "How could you guess right, where your betters have failed, you stupid fowl?"
Billina did not care to answer this question, and a moment later the doors flew open and Dorothy entered, leading the little Prince Evring by the hand.
The Scarecrow welcomed the girl with a close embrace, and he would have embraced Evring, too, in his delight. But the little Prince was shy, and shrank away from the painted Scarecrow because he did not yet know his many excellent qualities.
But there was little time for the friends to talk, because the Scarecrow must now enter the palace. Dorothy's success had greatly encouraged him, and they both hoped he would manage to make at least one correct guess.
However, he proved as unfortunate as the others except Dorothy, and although he took a good deal of time to select his objects, not one did the poor Scarecrow guess aright.
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|Ozma of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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