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|Tik-Tok of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
Shaggy Seeks his Stray Brother
|Page 4 of 5||
"No, indeed!" came a chorus of soft voices, and looking around Betsy discovered that all the Roses had followed them from the greenhouse and were now grouped before the entrance.
"You see," explained the Gardener, "the subjects of Rose Kingdom don't want a girl Ruler. They want a King."
"A King! We want a King!" repeated the chorus of Roses.
"Isn't she Royal?" inquired Shaggy, admiring the lovely Princess.
"Of course, for she grows on a Royal Bush. This Princess is named Ozga, as she is a distant cousin of Ozma of Oz; and, were she but a man, we would joyfully hail her as our Ruler."
The Gardener then turned away to talk with his Roses and Betsy whispered to her companion: "Let's pick her, Shaggy."
"All right," said he. "If she's royal, she has the right to rule this Kingdom, and if we pick her she will surely protect us and prevent our being hurt, or driven away."
So Betsy and Shaggy each took an arm of the beautiful Rose Princess and a little twist of her feet set her free of the branch upon which she grew. Very gracefully she stepped down from the bush to the ground, where she bowed low to Betsy and Shaggy and said in a delightfully sweet voice: "I thank you."
But at the sound of these words the Gardener and the Roses turned and discovered that the Princess had been picked, and was now alive. Over every face flashed an expression of resentment and anger, and one of the Roses cried aloud.
"Audacious mortals! What have you done?"
"Picked a Princess for you, that's all," replied Betsy, cheerfully.
"But we won't have her! We want a King!" exclaimed a Jacque Rose, and another added with a voice of scorn: "No girl shall rule over us!"
The newly-picked Princess looked from one to another of her rebellious subjects in astonishment. A grieved look came over her exquisite features.
"Have I no welcome here, pretty subjects?" she asked gently. "Have I not come from my Royal Bush to be your Ruler?"
"You were picked by mortals, without our consent," replied the Moss Rose, coldly; "so we refuse to allow you to rule us."
"Turn her out, Gardener, with the others!" cried the Tea Rose.
"Just a second, please!" called Shaggy, taking the Love Magnet from his pocket. "I guess this will win their love, Princess. Here--take it in your hand and let the roses see it."
Princess Ozga took the Magnet and held it poised before the eyes of her subjects; but the Roses regarded it with calm disdain.
"Why, what's the matter?" demanded Shaggy in surprise. "The Magnet never failed to work before!"
"I know," said Betsy, nodding her head wisely. "These Roses have no hearts."
"That's it," agreed the Gardener. "They're pretty, and sweet, and alive; but still they are Roses. Their stems have thorns, but no hearts."
The Princess sighed and handed the Magnet to the Shaggy Man.
"What shall I do?" she asked sorrowfully.
"Turn her out, Gardener, with the others!" commanded the Roses. "We will have no Ruler until a man-rose--a King--is ripe enough to pick."
"Very well," said the Gardener meekly. "You must excuse me, my dear Shaggy, for opposing your wishes, but you and the others, including Ozga, must get out of Rose Kingdom immediately, if not before."
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|Tik-Tok of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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