Книга Ozma of Oz. Содержание - 17. The Scarecrow Wins the Fight

Billina, having restored all of the royal family of Ev to their proper forms, now began to select the green ornaments which were the transformations of the people of Oz. She had little trouble in finding these, and before long all the twenty-six officers, as well as the private, were gathered around the yellow hen, joyfully congratulating her upon their release. The thirty-seven people who were now alive in the rooms of the palace knew very well that they owed their freedom to the cleverness of the yellow hen, and they were earnest in thanking her for saving them from the magic of the Nome King.

“Now,” said Billina, “I must find Ozma. She is sure to be here, somewhere, and of course she is green, being from Oz. So look around, you stupid soldiers, and help me in my search.”

For a while, however, they could discover nothing more that was green. But the Queen, who had kissed all her nine children once more and could now find time to take an interest in what was going on, said to the hen:

“Mayhap, my gentle friend, it is the grasshopper whom you seek.”

“Of course it’s the grasshopper!” exclaimed Billina. “I declare, I’m nearly as stupid as these brave soldiers. Wait here for me, and I’ll go back and get it.”

So she went into the room where she had seen the grasshopper, and presently Ozma of Oz, as lovely and dainty as ever, entered and approached the Queen of Ev, greeting her as one high born princess greets another.

“But where are my friends, the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman?” asked the girl Ruler, when these courtesies had been exchanged.

“I’ll hunt them up,” replied Billina. “The Scarecrow is solid gold, and so is Tiktok; but I don’t exactly know what the Tin Woodman is, because the Nome King said he had been transformed into something funny.”

Ozma eagerly assisted the hen in her quest, and soon the Scarecrow and the machine man, being ornaments of shining gold, were discovered and restored to their accustomed forms. But, search as they might, in no place could they find a funny ornament that might be the transformation of the Tin Woodman.

“Only one thing can be done,” said Ozma, at last, “and that is to return to the Nome King and oblige him to tell us what has become of our friend.”

“Perhaps he won’t,” suggested Billina.

“He must,” returned Ozma, firmly. “The King has not treated us honestly, for under the mask of fairness and good nature he entrapped us all, and we would have been forever enchanted had not our wise and clever friend, the yellow hen, found a way to save us.”

“The King is a villain,” declared the Scarecrow.

“His laugh is worse than another man’s frown,” said the private, with a shudder.

“I thought he was hon-est, but I was mis-tak-en,” remarked Tiktok. “My thoughts are us-u-al-ly cor-rect, but it is Smith & Tin-ker’s fault if they some-times go wrong or do not work prop-er-ly.”

“Smith & Tinker made a very good job of you,” said Ozma, kindly. “I do not think they should be blamed if you are not quite perfect.”

“Thank you,” replied Tiktok.

“Then,” said Billina, in her brisk little voice, “let us all go back to the Nome King, and see what he has to say for himself.”

So they started for the entrance, Ozma going first, with the Queen and her train of little Princes and Princesses following. Then came Tiktok, and the Scarecrow with Billina perched upon his straw-stuffed shoulder. The twenty-seven officers and the private brought up the rear.

As they reached the hall the doors flew open before them; but then they all stopped and stared into the domed cavern with faces of astonishment and dismay. For the room was filled with the mail-clad warriors of the Nome King, rank after rank standing in orderly array. The electric lights upon their brows gleamed brightly, their battle-axes were poised as if to strike down their foes; yet they remained motionless as statues, awaiting the word of command.

And in the center of this terrible army sat the little King upon his throne of rock. But he neither smiled nor laughed. Instead, his face was distorted with rage, and most dreadful to behold.

17. The Scarecrow Wins the Fight

After Billina had entered the palace Dorothy and Evring sat down to await the success or failure of her mission, and the Nome King occupied his throne and smoked his long pipe for a while in a cheerful and contented mood.

Then the bell above the throne, which sounded whenever an enchantment was broken, began to ring, and the King gave a start of annoyance and exclaimed, “Rocketty-ricketts!”

When the bell rang a second time the King shouted angrily, “Smudge and blazes!” and at a third ring he screamed in a fury, “Hippikaloric!” which must be a dreadful word because we don’t know what it means.

After that the bell went on ringing time after time; but the King was now so violently enraged that he could not utter a word, but hopped out of his throne and all around the room in a mad frenzy, so that he reminded Dorothy of a jumping-jack.

The girl was, for her part, filled with joy at every peal of the bell, for it announced the fact that Billina had transformed one more ornament into a living person. Dorothy was also amazed at Billina’s success, for she could not imagine how the yellow hen was able to guess correctly from all the bewildering number of articles clustered in the rooms of the palace. But after she had counted ten, and the bell continued to ring, she knew that not only the royal family of Ev, but Ozma and her followers also, were being restored to their natural forms, and she was so delighted that the antics of the angry King only made her laugh merrily.

Perhaps the little monarch could not be more furious than he was before, but the girl’s laughter nearly drove him frantic, and he roared at her like a savage beast. Then, as he found that all his enchantments were likely to be dispelled and his victims every one set free, he suddenly ran to the little door that opened upon the balcony and gave the shrill whistle that summoned his warriors.

At once the army filed out of the gold and silver doors in great numbers, and marched up a winding stairs and into the throne room, led by a stern featured Nome who was their captain. When they had nearly filled the throne room they formed ranks in the big underground cavern below, and then stood still until they were told what to do next.

Dorothy had pressed back to one side of the cavern when the warriors entered, and now she stood holding little Prince Evring’s hand while the great Lion crouched upon one side and the enormous Tiger crouched on the other side.

“Seize that girl!” shouted the King to his captain, and a group of warriors sprang forward to obey. But both the Lion and Tiger snarled so fiercely and bared their strong, sharp teeth so threateningly, that the men drew back in alarm.

“Don’t mind them!” cried the Nome King; “they cannot leap beyond the places where they now stand.”

“But they can bite those who attempt to touch the girl,” said the captain.

“I’ll fix that,” answered the King. “I’ll enchant them again, so that they can’t open their jaws.”

He stepped out of the throne to do this, but just then the Sawhorse ran up behind him and gave the fat monarch a powerful kick with both his wooden hind legs.

“Ow! Murder! Treason!” yelled the King, who had been hurled against several of his warriors and was considerably bruised. “Who did that?”

“I did,” growled the Sawhorse, viciously. “You let Dorothy alone, or I’ll kick you again.”

“We’ll see about that,” replied the King, and at once he waved his hand toward the Sawhorse and muttered a magical word. “Aha!” he continued; “NOW let us see you move, you wooden mule!”

But in spite of the magic the Sawhorse moved; and he moved so quickly toward the King, that the fat little man could not get out of his way. Thump – BANG! came the wooden heels, right against his round body, and the King flew into the air and fell upon the head of his captain, who let him drop flat upon the ground.

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