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|The Emerald City of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
4. How The Nome King Planned Revenge
|Page 2 of 4||
"No, your Majesty," replied the Nome; "for it can't be done."
"Oh indeed!" exclaimed the King. Then he turned to his servants and said: "Please take General Crinkle to the torture chamber. There you will kindly slice him into thin slices. Afterward you may feed him to the seven-headed dogs."
"Anything to oblige your Majesty," replied the servants, politely, and led the condemned man away.
When they had gone, the King addressed the army again.
"Listen!" said he. "The General who is to command my armies must promise to carry out my orders. If he fails he will share the fate of poor Crinkle. Now, then, who will volunteer to lead my hosts to the Emerald City?"
For a time no one moved and all were silent. Then an old Nome with white whiskers so long that they were tied around his waist to prevent their tripping him up, stepped out of the ranks and saluted the King.
"I'd like to ask a few questions, your Majesty," he said.
"Go ahead," replied the King.
"These Oz people are quite good, are they not?"
"As good as apple pie," said the King.
"And they are happy, I suppose?" continued the old Nome.
"Happy as the day is long," said the King.
"And contented and prosperous?" inquired the Nome.
"Very much so," said the King.
"Well, your Majesty," remarked he of the white whiskers, "I think I should like to undertake the job, so I'll be your General. I hate good people; I detest happy people; I'm opposed to any one who is contented and prosperous. That is why I am so fond of your Majesty. Make me your General and I'll promise to conquer and destroy the Oz people. If I fail I'm ready to be sliced thin and fed to the seven-headed dogs."
"Very good! Very good, indeed! That's the way to talk!" cried Roquat the Red, who was greatly pleased. "What is your name, General?"
"I'm called Guph, your Majesty."
"Well, Guph, come with me to my private cave, and we'll talk it over." Then he turned to the army. "Nomes and soldiers," said he, "you are to obey the commands of General Guph until he becomes dog-feed. Any man who fails to obey his new General will be promptly thrown away. You are now dismissed."
Guph went to the King's private cave and sat down upon an amethyst chair and put his feet on the arm of the King's ruby throne. Then he lighted his pipe and threw the live coal he had taken from his pocket upon the King's left foot and puffed the smoke into the King's eyes and made himself comfortable. For he was a wise old Nome, and he knew that the best way to get along with Roquat the Red was to show that he was not afraid of him.
"I'm ready for the talk, your Majesty," he said.
The King coughed and looked at his new General fiercely.
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|The Emerald City of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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