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|Ozma of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
Dorothy Tries to be Brave
|Page 2 of 4||
"What color will you make the Kansas girl?" asked the Steward.
"Gray, I think," said his Majesty.
"And the Scarecrow and the machine man?"
"Oh, they shall be of solid gold, because they are so ugly in real life."
Then the voices died away, and Billina knew that the King and his Steward had left the room. She fixed up some of her tail feathers that were not straight, and then tucked her head under her wing again and went to sleep.
In the morning Dorothy and the Lion and Tiger were given their breakfast in their rooms, and afterward joined the King in his throne room. The Tiger complained bitterly that he was half starved, and begged to go into the palace and become an ornament, so that he would no longer suffer the pangs of hunger.
"Haven't you had your breakfast?" asked the Nome King.
"Oh, I had just a bite," replied the beast. "But what good is a bite, to a hungry tiger?"
"He ate seventeen bowls of porridge, a platter full of fried sausages, eleven loaves of bread and twenty-one mince pies," said the Steward.
"What more do you want?" demanded the King.
"A fat baby. I want a fat baby," said the Hungry Tiger. "A nice, plump, juicy, tender, fat baby. But, of course, if I had one, my conscience would not allow me to eat it. So I'll have to be an ornament and forget my hunger."
"Impossible!" exclaimed the King. "I'll have no clumsy beasts enter my palace, to overturn and break all my pretty nick-nacks. When the rest of your friends are transformed you can return to the upper world, and go about your business."
"As for that, we have no business, when our friends are gone," said the Lion. "So we do not care much what becomes of us."
Dorothy begged to be allowed to go first into the palace, but Tiktok firmly maintained that the slave should face danger before the mistress. The Scarecrow agreed with him in that, so the Nome King opened the door for the machine man, who tramped into the palace to meet his fate. Then his Majesty returned to his throne and puffed his pipe so contentedly that a small cloud of smoke formed above his head.
Bye and bye he said:
"I'm sorry there are so few of you left. Very soon, now, my fun will be over, and then for amusement I shall have nothing to do but admire my new ornaments."
"It seems to me," said Dorothy, "that you are not so honest as you pretend to be."
"How's that?" asked the King.
"Why, you made us think it would be easy to guess what ornaments the people of Ev were changed into."
"It IS easy," declared the monarch, "if one is a good guesser. But it appears that the members of your party are all poor guessers."
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|Ozma of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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