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|The Road to Oz||L. Frank Baum|
Escaping the Soup-Kettle
|Page 3 of 5||
"Ah, but you will be soon," retorted the Queen, a grim smile making her look more dreadful than before.
"Pardon me, most beautiful vision," said the shaggy man, bowing before the queen politely. "I must request your Serene Highness to let us go our way without being made into soup. For I own the Love Magnet, and whoever meets me must love me and all my friends."
"True," replied the Queen. "We love you very much; so much that we intend to eat your broth with real pleasure. But tell me, do you think I am so beautiful?"
"You won't be at all beautiful if you eat me," he said, shaking his head sadly. "Handsome is as handsome does, you know."
The Queen turned to Button-Bright.
"Do YOU think I'm beautiful?" she asked.
"No," said the boy; "you're ugly."
"I think you're a fright," said Dorothy.
"If you could see yourself you'd be terribly scared," added Polly.
The Queen scowled at them and flopped from her red side to her yellow side.
"Take them away," she commanded the guard, "and at six o'clock run them through the meat chopper and start the soup kettle boiling. And put plenty of salt in the broth this time, or I'll punish the cooks severely."
"Any onions, your Majesty?" asked one of the guard.
"Plenty of onions and garlic and a dash of red pepper. Now, go!"
The Scoodlers led the captives away and shut them up in one of the houses, leaving only a single Scoodler to keep guard.
The place was a sort of store-house; containing bags of potatoes and baskets of carrots, onions and turnips.
"These," said their guard, pointing to the vegetables, "we use to flavor our soups with."
The prisoners were rather disheartened by this time, for they saw no way to escape and did not know how soon it would be six o'clock and time for the meatchopper to begin work. But the shaggy man was brave and did not intend to submit to such a horrid fate without a struggle.
"I'm going to fight for our lives," he whispered to the children, "for if I fail we will be no worse off than before, and to sit here quietly until we are made into soup would be foolish and cowardly."
The Scoodler on guard stood near the doorway, turning first his white side toward them and then his black side, as if he wanted to show to all of his greedy four eyes the sight of so many fat prisoners. The captives sat in a sorrowful group at the other end of the room--except Polychrome, who danced back and forth in the little place to keep herself warm, for she felt the chill of the cave. Whenever she approached the shaggy man he would whisper something in her ear, and Polly would nod her pretty head as if she understood.
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|The Road to Oz
L. Frank Baum
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