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|The Emerald City of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
26. How Ozma Refused to Fight for Her Kingdom
|Page 3 of 5||
"The Nome King is not so particular," remarked the Scarecrow. "He intends to destroy us all and ruin our beautiful country."
"Because the Nome King intends to do evil is no excuse for my doing the same," replied Ozma.
"Self-preservation is the first law of nature," quoted the Shaggy Man.
"True," she said, readily. "I would like to discover a plan to save ourselves without fighting."
That seemed a hopeless task to them, but realizing that Ozma was determined not to fight, they tried to think of some means that might promise escape.
"Couldn't we bribe our enemies, by giving them a lot of emeralds and gold?" asked Jack Pumpkinhead.
"No, because they believe they are able to take everything we have," replied the Ruler.
"I have thought of something," said Dorothy.
"What is it, dear?" asked Ozma.
"Let us use the Magic Belt to wish all of us in Kansas. We will put some emeralds in our pockets, and can sell them in Topeka for enough to pay off the mortgage on Uncle Henry's farm. Then we can all live together and be happy."
"A clever idea!" exclaimed the Scarecrow.
"Kansas is a very good country. I've been there," said the Shaggy Man.
"That seems to me an excellent plan," approved the Tin Woodman.
"No!" said Ozma, decidedly. "Never will I desert my people and leave them to so cruel a fate. I will use the Magic Belt to send the rest of you to Kansas, if you wish, but if my beloved country must be destroyed and my people enslaved I will remain and share their fate."
"Quite right," asserted the Scarecrow, sighing. "I will remain with you."
"And so will I," declared the Tin Woodman and the Shaggy Man and Jack Pumpkinhead, in turn. Tiktok, the machine man, also said he intended to stand by Ozma. "For," said he, "I should be of no use at all in Kan-sas."
"For my part," announced Dorothy, gravely, "if the Ruler of Oz must not desert her people, a Princess of Oz has no right to run away, either. I'm willing to become a slave with the rest of you; so all we can do with the Magic Belt is to use it to send Uncle Henry and Aunt Em back to Kansas."
"I've been a slave all my life," Aunt Em replied, with considerable cheerfulness, "and so has Henry. I guess we won't go back to Kansas, anyway. I'd rather take my chances with the rest of you."
Ozma smiled upon them all gratefully.
"There is no need to despair just yet," she said. "I'll get up early to-morrow morning and be at the Forbidden Fountain when the fierce warriors break through the crust of the earth. I will speak to them pleasantly and perhaps they won't be so very bad, after all."
"Why do they call it the Forbidden Fountain?" asked Dorothy, thoughtfully.
"Don't you know, dear?" returned Ozma, surprised.
"No," said Dorothy. "Of course I've seen the fountain in the palace grounds, ever since I first came to Oz; and I've read the sign which says: 'All Persons are Forbidden to Drink at this Fountain.' But I never knew WHY they were forbidden. The water seems clear and sparkling and it bubbles up in a golden basin all the time."
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|The Emerald City of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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