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|The Emerald City of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
20. How Dorothy Lunched With a King
|Page 1 of 4||
A line of rabbit soldiers was drawn up before the palace entrance, and they wore green and gold uniforms with high shakos upon their heads and held tiny spears in their hands. The Captain had a sword and a white plume in his shako.
"Salute!" called the Keeper of the Wicket. "Salute Princess Dorothy, who comes from Ozma of Oz!"
"Salute!" yelled the Captain, and all the soldiers promptly saluted.
They now entered the great hall of the palace, where they met a gaily dressed attendant, from whom the Keeper of the Wicket inquired if the King were at leisure.
"I think so," was the reply. "I heard his Majesty blubbering and wailing as usual only a few minutes ago. If he doesn't stop acting like a cry-baby I'm going to resign my position here and go to work."
"What's the matter with your King?" asked Dorothy, surprised to hear the rabbit attendant speak so disrespectfully of his monarch.
"Oh, he doesn't want to be King, that's all; and he simply HAS to," was the reply.
"Come!" said the Keeper of the Wicket, sternly; "lead us to his Majesty; and do not air our troubles before strangers, I beg of you."
"Why, if this girl is going to see the King, he'll air his own troubles," returned the attendant.
"That is his royal privilege," declared the Keeper.
So the attendant led them into a room all draped with cloth-of-gold and furnished with satin-covered gold furniture. There was a throne in this room, set on a dais and having a big, cushioned seat, and on this seat reclined the Rabbit King. He was lying on his back, with his paws in the air, and whining very like a puppy-dog.
"Your Majesty! your Majesty! Get up. Here's a visitor," called out the attendant.
The King rolled over and looked at Dorothy with one watery pink eye. Then he sat up and wiped his eyes carefully with a silk handkerchief and put on his jeweled crown, which had fallen off.
"Excuse my grief, fair stranger," he said, in a sad voice. "You behold in me the most miserable monarch in all the world. What time is it, Blinkem?"
"One o'clock, your Majesty," replied the attendant to whom the question was addressed.
"Serve luncheon at once!" commanded the King. "Luncheon for two--that's for my visitor and me--and see that the human has some sort of food she's accustomed to."
"Yes, your Majesty," answered the attendant, and went away.
"Tie my shoe, Bristle," said the King to the Keeper of the Wicket. "Ah me! how unhappy I am!"
"What seems to be worrying your Majesty?" asked Dorothy.
"Why, it's this king business, of course," he returned, while the Keeper tied his shoe. "I didn't want to be King of Bunnybury at all, and the rabbits all knew it. So they elected me--to save themselves from such a dreadful fate, I suppose--and here I am, shut up in a palace, when I might be free and happy."
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|The Emerald City of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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