Книга Ozma of Oz. Содержание - 7. Ozma of Oz to the Rescue

“Oh!” said Langwidere, slightly lifting the nose of No. 17. “I thought some one of importance had called.”

“Then you were right,” declared Dorothy. “I’m a good deal of ‘portance myself, and when Billina lays an egg she has the proudest cackle you ever heard. As for Tiktok, he’s the – ”

“Stop – Stop!” commanded the Princess, with an angry flash of her splendid eyes. “How dare you annoy me with your senseless chatter?”

“Why, you horrid thing!” said Dorothy, who was not accustomed to being treated so rudely.

The Princess looked at her more closely.

“Tell me,” she resumed, “are you of royal blood?”

“Better than that, ma’am,” said Dorothy. “I came from Kansas.”

“Huh!” cried the Princess, scornfully. “You are a foolish child, and I cannot allow you to annoy me. Run away, you little goose, and bother some one else.”

Dorothy was so indignant that for a moment she could find no words to reply. But she rose from her chair, and was about to leave the room when the Princess, who had been scanning the girl’s face, stopped her by saying, more gently:

“Come nearer to me.”

Dorothy obeyed, without a thought of fear, and stood before the Princess while Langwidere examined her face with careful attention.

“You are rather attractive,” said the lady, presently. “Not at all beautiful, you understand, but you have a certain style of prettiness that is different from that of any of my thirty heads. So I believe I’ll take your head and give you No. 26 for it.”

“Well, I b’lieve you won’t!” exclaimed Dorothy.

“It will do you no good to refuse,” continued the Princess; “for I need your head for my collection, and in the Land of Ev my will is law. I never have cared much for No. 26, and you will find that it is very little worn. Besides, it will do you just as well as the one you’re wearing, for all practical purposes.”

“I don’t know anything about your No. 26, and I don’t want to,” said Dorothy, firmly. “I’m not used to taking cast-off things, so I’ll just keep my own head.”

“You refuse?” cried the Princess, with a frown.

“Of course I do,” was the reply.

“Then,” said Langwidere, “I shall lock you up in a tower until you decide to obey me. Nanda,” turning to her maid, “call my army.”

Nanda rang a silver bell, and at once a big fat colonel in a bright red uniform entered the room, followed by ten lean soldiers, who all looked sad and discouraged and saluted the princess in a very melancholy fashion.

“Carry that girl to the North Tower and lock her up!” cried the Princess, pointing to Dorothy.

“To hear is to obey,” answered the big red colonel, and caught the child by her arm. But at that moment Tiktok raised his dinner-pail and pounded it so forcibly against the colonel’s head that the big officer sat down upon the floor with a sudden bump, looking both dazed and very much astonished.

“Help!” he shouted, and the ten lean soldiers sprang to assist their leader.

There was great excitement for the next few moments, and Tiktok had knocked down seven of the army, who were sprawling in every direction upon the carpet, when suddenly the machine paused, with the dinner-pail raised for another blow, and remained perfectly motionless.

“My ac-tion has run down,” he called to Dorothy. “Wind me up, quick.”

She tried to obey, but the big colonel had by this time managed to get upon his feet again, so he grabbed fast hold of the girl and she was helpless to escape.

“This is too bad,” said the machine. “I ought to have run six hours lon-ger, at least, but I sup-pose my long walk and my fight with the Wheel-ers made me run down fast-er than us-u-al.”

“Well, it can’t be helped,” said Dorothy, with a sigh.

“Will you exchange heads with me?” demanded the Princess.

“No, indeed!” cried Dorothy.

“Then lock her up,” said Langwidere to her soldiers, and they led Dorothy to a high tower at the north of the palace and locked her securely within.

The soldiers afterward tried to lift Tiktok, but they found the machine so solid and heavy that they could not stir it. So they left him standing in the center of the drawing-room.

“People will think I have a new statue,” said Langwidere, “so it won’t matter in the least, and Nanda can keep him well polished.”

“What shall we do with the hen?” asked the colonel, who had just discovered Billina in the work-basket.

“Put her in the chicken-house,” answered the Princess. “Someday I’ll have her fried for breakfast.”

“She looks rather tough, Your Highness,” said Nanda, doubtfully.

“That is a base slander!” cried Billina, struggling frantically in the colonel’s arms. “But the breed of chickens I come from is said to be poison to all princesses.”

“Then,” remarked Langwidere, “I will not fry the hen, but keep her to lay eggs; and if she doesn’t do her duty I’ll have her drowned in the horse trough.”

7. Ozma of Oz to the Rescue

Nanda brought Dorothy bread and water for her supper, and she slept upon a hard stone couch with a single pillow and a silken coverlet.

In the morning she leaned out of the window of her prison in the tower to see if there was any way to escape. The room was not so very high up, when compared with our modern buildings, but it was far enough above the trees and farm houses to give her a good view of the surrounding country.

To the east she saw the forest, with the sands beyond it and the ocean beyond that. There was even a dark speck upon the shore that she thought might be the chicken-coop in which she had arrived at this singular country.

Then she looked to the north, and saw a deep but narrow valley lying between two rocky mountains, and a third mountain that shut off the valley at the further end.

Westward the fertile Land of Ev suddenly ended a little way from the palace, and the girl could see miles and miles of sandy desert that stretched further than her eyes could reach. It was this desert, she thought, with much interest, that alone separated her from the wonderful Land of Oz, and she remembered sorrowfully that she had been told no one had ever been able to cross this dangerous waste but herself. Once a cyclone had carried her across it, and a magical pair of silver shoes had carried her back again. But now she had neither a cyclone nor silver shoes to assist her, and her condition was sad indeed. For she had become the prisoner of a disagreeable princess who insisted that she must exchange her head for another one that she was not used to, and which might not fit her at all.

Really, there seemed no hope of help for her from her old friends in the Land of Oz. Thoughtfully she gazed from her narrow window. On all the desert not a living thing was stirring.

Wait, though! Something surely WAS stirring on the desert – something her eyes had not observed at first. Now it seemed like a cloud; now it seemed like a spot of silver; now it seemed to be a mass of rainbow colors that moved swiftly toward her.

What COULD it be, she wondered?

Then, gradually, but in a brief space of time nevertheless, the vision drew near enough to Dorothy to make out what it was.

A broad green carpet was unrolling itself upon the desert, while advancing across the carpet was a wonderful procession that made the girl open her eyes in amazement as she gazed.

First came a magnificent golden chariot, drawn by a great Lion and an immense Tiger, who stood shoulder to shoulder and trotted along as gracefully as a well-matched team of thoroughbred horses. And standing upright within the chariot was a beautiful girl clothed in flowing robes of silver gauze and wearing a jeweled diadem upon her dainty head. She held in one hand the satin ribbons that guided her astonishing team, and in the other an ivory wand that separated at the top into two prongs, the prongs being tipped by the letters “O” and “Z”, made of glistening diamonds set closely together.

© 2012-2016 Электронная библиотека booklot.ru