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|Ozma of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
The Hungry Tiger
|Page 1 of 3||
The first thing Dorothy did was to rush into the embrace of the Scarecrow, whose painted face beamed with delight as he pressed her form to his straw-padded bosom. Then the Tin Woodman embraced her--very gently, for he knew his tin arms might hurt her if he squeezed too roughly.
These greetings having been exchanged, Dorothy took the key to Tiktok from her pocket and wound up the machine man's action, so that he could bow properly when introduced to the rest of the company. While doing this she told them now useful Tiktok had been to her, and both the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman shook hands with the machine once more and thanked him for protecting their friend.
Then Dorothy asked: "Where is Billina?"
"I don't know," said the Scarecrow. "Who is Billina?"
"She's a yellow hen who is another friend of mine," answered the girl, anxiously. "I wonder what has become of her?"
"She is in the chicken house, in the back yard," said the Princess. "My drawing-room is no place for hens."
Without waiting to hear more Dorothy ran to get Billina, and just outside the door she came upon the Cowardly Lion, still hitched to the chariot beside the great Tiger. The Cowardly Lion had a big bow of blue ribbon fastened to the long hair between his ears, and the Tiger wore a bow of red ribbon on his tail, just in front of the bushy end.
In an instant Dorothy was hugging the huge Lion joyfully.
"I'm SO glad to see you again!" she cried.
"I am also glad to see you, Dorothy," said the Lion. "We've had some fine adventures together, haven't we?"
"Yes, indeed," she replied. "How are you?"
"As cowardly as ever," the beast answered in a meek voice. "Every little thing scares me and makes my heart beat fast. But let me introduce to you a new friend of mine, the Hungry Tiger."
"Oh! Are you hungry?" she asked, turning to the other beast, who was just then yawning so widely that he displayed two rows of terrible teeth and a mouth big enough to startle anyone.
"Dreadfully hungry," answered the Tiger, snapping his jaws together with a fierce click.
"Then why don't you eat something?" she asked.
"It's no use," said the Tiger sadly. "I've tried that, but I always get hungry again."
"Why, it is the same with me," said Dorothy. "Yet I keep on eating."
"But you eat harmless things, so it doesn't matter," replied the Tiger. "For my part, I'm a savage beast, and have an appetite for all sorts of poor little living creatures, from a chipmunk to fat babies.
"How dreadful!" said Dorothy.
"Isn't it, though?" returned the Hungry Tiger, licking his lips with his long red tongue. "Fat babies! Don't they sound delicious? But I've never eaten any, because my conscience tells me it is wrong. If I had no conscience I would probably eat the babies and then get hungry again, which would mean that I had sacrificed the poor babies for nothing. No; hungry I was born, and hungry I shall die. But I'll not have any cruel deeds on my conscience to be sorry for."
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|Ozma of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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