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|The Road to Oz||L. Frank Baum|
|Page 1 of 4||
First entered a band of Ryls from the Happy Valley, all merry little sprites like fairy elves. A dozen crooked Knooks followed from the great Forest of Burzee. They had long whiskers and pointed caps and curling toes, yet were no taller than Button-Bright's shoulder. With this group came a man so easy to recognize and so important and dearly beloved throughout the known world, that all present rose to their feet and bowed their heads in respectful homage, even before the High Chamberlain knelt to announce his name.
"The most Mighty and Loyal Friend of Children, His Supreme Highness--Santa Claus!" said the Chamberlain, in an awed voice.
"Well, well, well! Glad to see you--glad to meet you all!" cried Santa Claus, briskly, as he trotted up the long room.
He was round as an apple, with a fresh rosy face, laughing eyes, and a bushy beard as white as snow. A red cloak trimmed with beautiful ermine hung from his shoulders and upon his back was a basket filled with pretty presents for the Princess Ozma.
"Hello, Dorothy; still having adventures?" he asked in his jolly way, as he took the girl's hand in both his own.
"How did you know my name, Santa?" she replied, feeling more shy in the presence of this immortal saint than she ever had before in her young life.
"Why, don't I see you every Christmas Eve, when you're asleep?" he rejoined, pinching her blushing cheek.
"Oh, do you?"
"And here's Button-Bright, I declare!" cried Santa Claus, holding up the boy to kiss him. "What a long way from home you are; dear me!"
"Do you know Button-Bright, too?" questioned Dorothy, eagerly.
"Indeed I do. I've visited his home several Christmas Eves."
"And do you know his father?" asked the girl.
"Certainly, my dear. Who else do you suppose brings him his Christmas neckties and stockings?" with a sly wink at the Wizard.
"Then where does he live? We're just crazy to know, 'cause Button-Bright's lost," she said.
Santa laughed and laid his finger aside of his nose as if thinking what to reply. He leaned over and whispered something in the Wizard's ear, at which the Wizard smiled and nodded as if he understood.
Now Santa Claus spied Polychrome, and trotted over to where she stood.
"Seems to me the Rainbow's Daughter is farther from home than any of you," he observed, looking at the pretty maiden admiringly. "I'll have to tell your father where you are, Polly, and send him to get you."
"Please do, dear Santa Claus," implored the little maid, beseechingly.
"But just now we must all have a jolly good time at Ozma's party," said the old gentleman, turning to put his presents on the table with the others already there. "It isn't often I find time to leave my castle, as you know; but Ozma invited me and I just couldn't help coming to celebrate the happy occasion."
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|The Road to Oz
L. Frank Baum
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