Книга Ozma of Oz. Содержание - 19. The King of Ev

Sadly they returned to the throne room, where the King, seeing that they had met with failure, jeered at Dorothy, saying:

“You do not know how to use my belt, so it is of no use to you. Give it back to me and I will let you go free – you and all the people who came with you. As for the royal family of Ev, they are my slaves, and shall remain here.”

“I shall keep the belt,” said Dorothy.

“But how can you escape, without my consent?” asked the King.

“Easily enough,” answered the girl. “All we need to do is to walk out the way that we came in.”

“Oh, that’s all, is it?” sneered the King. “Well, where is the passage through which you entered this room?”

They all looked around, but could not discover the place, for it had long since been closed. Dorothy, however, would not be dismayed. She waved her hand toward the seemingly solid wall of the cavern and said:

“I command the passage to open!”

Instantly the order was obeyed; the opening appeared and the passage lay plainly before them.

The King was amazed, and all the others overjoyed.

“Why, then, if the belt obeys you, were we unable to discover the Tin Woodman?” asked Ozma.

“I can’t imagine,” said Dorothy.

“See here, girl,” proposed the King, eagerly; “give me the belt, and I will tell you what shape the Tin Woodman was changed into, and then you can easily find him.”

Dorothy hesitated, but Billina cried out:

“Don’t you do it! If the Nome King gets the belt again he will make every one of us prisoners, for we will be in his power. Only by keeping the belt, Dorothy, will you ever be able to leave this place in safety.”

“I think that is true,” said the Scarecrow. “But I have another idea, due to my excellent brains. Let Dorothy transform the King into a goose-egg unless he agrees to go into the palace and bring out to us the ornament which is our friend Nick Chopper, the Tin Woodman.”

“A goose-egg!” echoed the horrified King. “How dreadful!”

“Well, a goose-egg you will be unless you go and fetch us the ornament we want,” declared Billina, with a joyful chuckle.

“You can see for yourself that Dorothy is able to use the magic belt all right,” added the Scarecrow.

The Nome King thought it over and finally consented, for he did not want to be a goose-egg. So he went into the palace to get the ornament which was the transformation of the Tin Woodman, and they all awaited his return with considerable impatience, for they were anxious to leave this underground cavern and see the sunshine once more. But when the Nome King came back he brought nothing with him except a puzzled and anxious expression upon his face.

“He’s gone!” he said. “The Tin Woodman is nowhere in the palace.”

“Are you sure?” asked Ozma, sternly.

“I’m very sure,” answered the King, trembling, “for I know just what I transformed him into, and exactly where he stood. But he is not there, and please don’t change me into a goose-egg, because I’ve done the best I could.”

They were all silent for a time, and then Dorothy said:

“There is no use punishing the Nome King any more, and I’m ’fraid we’ll have to go away without our friend.”

“If he is not here, we cannot rescue him,” agreed the Scarecrow, sadly. “Poor Nick! I wonder what has become of him.”

“And he owed me six weeks back pay!” said one of the generals, wiping the tears from his eyes with his gold-laced coat sleeve.

Very sorrowfully they determined to return to the upper world without their former companion, and so Ozma gave the order to begin the march through the passage.

The army went first, and then the royal family of Ev, and afterward came Dorothy, Ozma, Billina, the Scarecrow and Tiktok.

They left the Nome King scowling at them from his throne, and had no thought of danger until Ozma chanced to look back and saw a large number of the warriors following them in full chase, with their swords and spears and axes raised to strike down the fugitives as soon as they drew near enough.

Evidently the Nome King had made this last attempt to prevent their escaping him; but it did him no good, for when Dorothy saw the danger they were in she stopped and waved her hand and whispered a command to the magic belt.

Instantly the foremost warriors became eggs, which rolled upon the floor of the cavern in such numbers that those behind could not advance without stepping upon them. But, when they saw the eggs, all desire to advance departed from the warriors, and they turned and fled madly into the cavern, and refused to go back again.

Our friends had no further trouble in reaching the end of the passage, and soon were standing in the outer air upon the gloomy path between the two high mountains. But the way to Ev lay plainly before them, and they fervently hoped that they had seen the last of the Nome King and of his dreadful palace.

The cavalcade was led by Ozma, mounted on the Cowardly Lion, and the Queen of Ev, who rode upon the back of the Tiger. The children of the Queen walked behind her, hand in hand. Dorothy rode the Sawhorse, while the Scarecrow walked and commanded the army in the absence of the Tin Woodman.

Presently the way began to lighten and more of the sunshine to come in between the two mountains. And before long they heard the “thump! thump! thump!” of the giant’s hammer upon the road.

“How may we pass the monstrous man of iron?” asked the Queen, anxious for the safety of her children. But Dorothy solved the problem by a word to the magic belt.

The giant paused, with his hammer held motionless in the air, thus allowing the entire party to pass between his cast-iron legs in safety.

19. The King of Ev

If there were any shifting, rock-colored Nomes on the mountain side now, they were silent and respectful, for our adventurers were not annoyed, as before, by their impudent laughter. Really the Nomes had nothing to laugh at, since the defeat of their King.

On the other side they found Ozma’s golden chariot, standing as they had left it. Soon the Lion and the Tiger were harnessed to the beautiful chariot, in which was enough room for Ozma and the Queen and six of the royal children.

Little Evring preferred to ride with Dorothy upon the Sawhorse, which had a long back. The Prince had recovered from his shyness and had become very fond of the girl who had rescued him, so they were fast friends and chatted pleasantly together as they rode along. Billina was also perched upon the head of the wooden steed, which seemed not to mind the added weight in the least, and the boy was full of wonder that a hen could talk, and say such sensible things.

When they came to the gulf, Ozma’s magic carpet carried them all over in safety; and now they began to pass the trees, in which birds were singing; and the breeze that was wafted to them from the farms of Ev was spicy with flowers and new-mown hay; and the sunshine fell full upon them, to warm them and drive away from their bodies the chill and dampness of the underground kingdom of the Nomes.

“I would be quite content,” said the Scarecrow to Tiktok, “were only the Tin Woodman with us. But it breaks my heart to leave him behind.”

“He was a fine fel-low,” replied Tiktok, “al-though his ma-ter-i-al was not ve-ry du-ra-ble.”

“Oh, tin is an excellent material,” the Scarecrow hastened to say; “and if anything ever happened to poor Nick Chopper he was always easily soldered. Besides, he did not have to be wound up, and was not liable to get out of order.”

“I some-times wish,” said Tiktok, “that I was stuffed with straw, as you are. It is hard to be made of cop-per.”

“I have no reason to complain of my lot,” replied the Scarecrow. “A little fresh straw, now and then, makes me as good as new. But I can never be the polished gentleman that my poor departed friend, the Tin Woodman, was.”

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