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|Ozma of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
The Giant with the Hammer
|Page 1 of 4||
The road led for a time through a pretty farm country, and then past a picnic grove that was very inviting. But the procession continued to steadily advance until Billina cried in an abrupt and commanding manner:
Ozma stopped her chariot so suddenly that the Scarecrow's Sawhorse nearly ran into it, and the ranks of the army tumbled over one another before they could come to a halt. Immediately the yellow hen struggled from Dorothy's arms and flew into a clump of bushes by the roadside.
"What's the matter?" called the Tin Woodman, anxiously.
"Why, Billina wants to lay her egg, that's all," said Dorothy.
"Lay her egg!" repeated the Tin Woodman, in astonishment.
"Yes; she lays one every morning, about this time; and it's quite fresh," said the girl.
"But does your foolish old hen suppose that this entire cavalcade, which is bound on an important adventure, is going to stand still while she lays her egg?" enquired the Tin Woodman, earnestly.
"What else can we do?" asked the girl. "It's a habit of Billina's and she can't break herself of it."
"Then she must hurry up," said the Tin Woodman, impatiently.
"No, no!" exclaimed the Scarecrow. "If she hurries she may lay scrambled eggs."
"That's nonsense," said Dorothy. "But Billina won't be long, I'm sure."
So they stood and waited, although all were restless and anxious to proceed. And by and by the yellow hen came from the bushes saying:
"Kut-kut, kut, ka-daw-kutt! Kut, kut, kut--ka-daw-kut!"
"What is she doing--singing her lay?" asked the Scarecrow.
"For-ward--march!" shouted the Tin Woodman, waving his axe, and the procession started just as Dorothy had once more grabbed Billina in her arms.
"Isn't anyone going to get my egg?" cried the hen, in great excitement.
"I'll get it," said the Scarecrow; and at his command the Sawhorse pranced into the bushes. The straw man soon found the egg, which he placed in his jacket pocket. The cavalcade, having moved rapidly on, was even then far in advance; but it did not take the Sawhorse long to catch up with it, and presently the Scarecrow was riding in his accustomed place behind Ozma's chariot.
"What shall I do with the egg?" he asked Dorothy.
"I do not know," the girl answered. "Perhaps the Hungry Tiger would like it."
"It would not be enough to fill one of my back teeth," remarked the Tiger. "A bushel of them, hard boiled, might take a little of the edge off my appetite; but one egg isn't good for anything at all, that I know of."
"No; it wouldn't even make a sponge cake," said the Scarecrow, thoughtfully. "The Tin Woodman might carry it with his axe and hatch it; but after all I may as well keep it myself for a souvenir." So he left it in his pocket.
They had now reached that part of the valley that lay between the two high mountains which Dorothy had seen from her tower window. At the far end was the third great mountain, which blocked the valley and was the northern edge of the Land of Ev. It was underneath this mountain that the Nome King's palace was said to be; but it would be some time before they reached that place.
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|Ozma of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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