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|The Emerald City of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
7. How Aunt Em Conquered the Lion
|Page 4 of 5||
So Uncle Henry and Aunt Em started out alone to explore the grounds, and Dorothy knew that they couldn't get lost, because all the palace grounds were enclosed by a high wall of green marble set with emeralds.
It was a rare treat to these simple folk, who had lived in the country all their lives and known little enjoyment of any sort, to wear beautiful clothes and live in a palace and be treated with respect and consideration by all around them. They were very happy indeed as they strolled up the shady walks and looked upon the gorgeous flowers and shrubs, feeling that their new home was more beautiful than any tongue could describe.
Suddenly, as they turned a corner and walked through a gap in a high hedge, they came face to face with an enormous Lion, which crouched upon the green lawn and seemed surprised by their appearance.
They stopped short, Uncle Henry trembling with horror and Aunt Em too terrified to scream. Next moment the poor woman clasped her husband around the neck and cried:
"Save me, Henry, save me!"
"Can't even save myself, Em," he returned, in a husky voice, "for the animile looks as if it could eat both of us an' lick its chops for more! If I only had a gun--"
"Haven't you, Henry? Haven't you?" she asked anxiously.
"Nary gun, Em. So let's die as brave an' graceful as we can. I knew our luck couldn't last!"
"I won't die. I won't be eaten by a lion!" wailed Aunt Em, glaring upon the huge beast. Then a thought struck her, and she whispered, "Henry, I've heard as savage beastses can be conquered by the human eye. I'll eye that lion out o' countenance an' save our lives."
"Try it, Em," he returned, also in a whisper. "Look at him as you do at me when I'm late to dinner."
Aunt Em turned upon the Lion a determined countenance and a wild dilated eye. She glared at the immense beast steadily, and the Lion, who had been quietly blinking at them, began to appear uneasy and disturbed.
"Is anything the matter, ma'am?" he asked, in a mild voice.
At this speech from the terrible beast Aunt Em and Uncle Henry both were startled, and then Uncle Henry remembered that this must be the Lion they had seen in Ozma's Throne Room.
"Hold on, Em!" he exclaimed. "Quit the eagle eye conquest an' take courage. I guess this is the same Cowardly Lion Dorothy has told us about."
"Oh, is it?" she cried, much relieved.
"When he spoke, I got the idea; and when he looked so 'shamed like, I was sure of it," Uncle Henry continued.
Aunt Em regarded the animal with new interest.
"Are you the Cowardly Lion?" she inquired. "Are you Dorothy's friend?"
"Yes'm," answered the Lion, meekly. "Dorothy and I are old chums and are very fond of each other. I'm the King of Beasts, you know, and the Hungry Tiger and I serve Princess Ozma as her body guards."
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|The Emerald City of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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