FictionForest

Chapter 7

L. Frank BaumOct 04, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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“These are your rooms,” said Dorothy, opening a door.

Aunt Em drew back at the sight of the splendid furniture and draperies.

“Ain’t there any place to wipe my feet?” she asked.

“You will soon change your slippers for new shoes,” replied Dorothy.
“Don’t be afraid, Aunt Em. Here is where you are to live, so walk
right in and make yourself at home.”

Aunt Em advanced hesitatingly.

“It beats the Topeka Hotel!” she cried admiringly. “But this place is
too grand for us, child. Can’t we have some back room in the attic,
that’s more in our class?”

“No,” said Dorothy. “You’ve got to live here, ’cause Ozma says so.
And all the rooms in this palace are just as fine as these, and some
are better. It won’t do any good to fuss, Aunt Em. You’ve got to be
swell and high-toned in the Land of Oz, whether you want to or not;
so you may as well make up your mind to it.”

“It’s hard luck,” replied her aunt, looking around with an awed
expression; “but folks can get used to anything, if they try.
Eh, Henry?”

“Why, as to that,” said Uncle Henry, slowly, “I b’lieve in takin’
what’s pervided us, an’ askin’ no questions. I’ve traveled some, Em,
in my time, and you hain’t; an’ that makes a difference atween us.”

Then Dorothy showed them through the rooms. The first was a handsome
sitting-room, with windows opening upon the rose gardens. Then came
separate bedrooms for Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, with a fine bathroom
between them. Aunt Em had a pretty dressing room, besides, and Dorothy
opened the closets and showed several exquisite costumes that had been
provided for her aunt by the royal dressmakers, who had worked all
night to get them ready. Everything that Aunt Em could possibly need
was in the drawers and closets, and her dressing-table was covered
with engraved gold toilet articles.

Uncle Henry had nine suits of clothes, cut in the popular Munchkin
fashion, with knee-breeches, silk stockings, and low shoes with
jeweled buckles. The hats to match these costumes had pointed tops
and wide brims with small gold bells around the edges. His shirts
were of fine linen with frilled bosoms, and his vests were richly
embroidered with colored silks.

Uncle Henry decided that he would first take a bath and then dress
himself in a blue satin suit that had caught his fancy. He accepted
his good fortune with calm composure and refused to have a servant to
assist him. But Aunt Em was “all of a flutter,” as she said, and it
took Dorothy and Jellia Jamb, the housekeeper, and two maids a long
time to dress her and do up her hair and get her “rigged like a
popinjay,” as she quaintly expressed it. She wanted to stop and admire
everything that caught her eye, and she sighed continually and declared
that such finery was too good for an old country woman, and that she
never thought she would have to “put on airs” at her time of life.

Finally she was dressed, and when she went into the sitting-room
there was Uncle Henry in his blue satin, walking gravely up and down
the room. He had trimmed his beard and mustache and looked very
dignified and respectable.

“Tell me, Dorothy,” he said; “do all the men here wear duds like these?”

“Yes,” she replied; “all ‘cept the Scarecrow and the Shaggy Man–and
of course the Tin Woodman and Tiktok, who are made of metal. You’ll
find all the men at Ozma’s court dressed just as you are–only perhaps
a little finer.”

“Henry, you look like a play-actor,” announced Aunt Em, looking at her
husband critically.

“An’ you, Em, look more highfalutin’ than a peacock,” he replied.

“I guess you’re right,” she said regretfully; “but we’re helpless
victims of high-toned royalty.”

Dorothy was much amused.

“Come with me,” she said, “and I’ll show you ’round the palace.”

She took them through the beautiful rooms and introduced them to all
the people they chanced to meet. Also she showed them her own pretty
rooms, which were not far from their own.

“So it’s all true,” said Aunt Em, wide-eyed with amazement, “and what
Dorothy told us of this fairy country was plain facts instead of dreams!
But where are all the strange creatures you used to know here?”

“Yes, where’s the Scarecrow?” inquired Uncle Henry.

“Why, he’s just now away on a visit to the Tin Woodman, who is Emp’ror
of the Winkie Country,” answered the little girl. “You’ll see him
when he comes back, and you’re sure to like him.”

“And where’s the Wonderful Wizard?” asked Aunt Em.

“You’ll see him at Ozma’s luncheon, for he lives here in this palace,”
was the reply.

“And Jack Pumpkinhead?”

“Oh, he lives a little way out of town, in his own pumpkin field.
We’ll go there some time and see him, and we’ll call on Professor
Wogglebug, too. The Shaggy Man will be at the luncheon, I guess, and
Tiktok. And now I’ll take you out to see Billina, who has a house of
her own.”

So they went into the back yard, and after walking along winding paths
some distance through the beautiful gardens they came to an attractive
little house where the Yellow Hen sat on the front porch sunning herself.

“Good morning, my dear Mistress,” called Billina, fluttering down to
meet them. “I was expecting you to call, for I heard you had come
back and brought your uncle and aunt with you.”

“We’re here for good and all, this time, Billina,” cried Dorothy,
joyfully. “Uncle Henry and Aunt Em belong to Oz now as much as I do!”

“Then they are very lucky people,” declared Billina; “for there
couldn’t be a nicer place to live. But come, my dear; I must show you
all my Dorothys. Nine are living and have grown up to be very
respectable hens; but one took cold at Ozma’s birthday party and died
of the pip, and the other two turned out to be horrid roosters, so I
had to change their names from Dorothy to Daniel. They all had the
letter ‘D’ engraved upon their gold lockets, you remember, with your
picture inside, and ‘D’ stands for Daniel as well as for Dorothy.”

“Did you call both the roosters Daniel?” asked Uncle Henry.

“Yes, indeed. I’ve nine Dorothys and two Daniels; and the nine
Dorothys have eighty-six sons and daughters and over three hundred
grandchildren,” said Billina, proudly.

“What names do you give ’em all, dear?” inquired the little girl.

“Oh, they are all Dorothys and Daniels, some being Juniors and some
Double-Juniors. Dorothy and Daniel are two good names, and I see no
object in hunting for others,” declared the Yellow Hen. “But just
think, Dorothy, what a big chicken family we’ve grown to be, and our
numbers increase nearly every day! Ozma doesn’t know what to do with
all the eggs we lay, and we are never eaten or harmed in any way, as
chickens are in your country. They give us everything to make us
contented and happy, and I, my dear, am the acknowledged Queen and
Governor of every chicken in Oz, because I’m the eldest and started the
whole colony.”

“You ought to be very proud, ma’am,” said Uncle Henry, who was
astonished to hear a hen talk so sensibly.

“Oh, I am,” she replied. “I’ve the loveliest pearl necklace you ever
saw. Come in the house and I’ll show it to you. And I’ve nine leg
bracelets and a diamond pin for each wing. But I only wear them on
state occasions.”

They followed the Yellow Hen into the house, which Aunt Em declared
was neat as a pin. They could not sit down, because all Billina’s
chairs were roosting-poles made of silver; so they had to stand while
the hen fussily showed them her treasures.

Then they had to go into the back rooms occupied by Billina’s nine
Dorothys and two Daniels, who were all plump yellow chickens and
greeted the visitors very politely. It was easy to see that they were
well bred and that Billina had looked after their education.

In the yards were all the children and grandchildren of these eleven
elders and they were of all sizes, from well-grown hens to tiny
chickens just out of the shell. About fifty fluffy yellow youngsters
were at school, being taught good manners and good grammar by a young
hen who wore spectacles. They sang in chorus a patriotic song of the
Land of Oz, in honor of their visitors, and Aunt Em was much impressed
by these talking chickens.

Dorothy wanted to stay and play with the young chickens for awhile,
but Uncle Henry and Aunt Em had not seen the palace grounds and
gardens yet and were eager to get better acquainted with the marvelous
and delightful land in which they were to live.

“I’ll stay here, and you can go for a walk,” said Dorothy. “You’ll be
perfec’ly safe anywhere, and may do whatever you want to. When you
get tired, go back to the palace and find your rooms, and I’ll come to
you before luncheon is ready.”

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.”

“To be sure,” said Aunt Em, nodding. “But the King of Beasts
shouldn’t be cowardly.”

“I’ve heard that said before,” remarked the Lion, yawning till he
showed two great rows of sharp white teeth; “but that does not keep
me from being frightened whenever I go into battle.”

“What do you do, run?” asked Uncle Henry.

“No; that would be foolish, for the enemy would run after me,”
declared the Lion. “So I tremble with fear and pitch in as hard as I
can; and so far I have always won my fight.”

“Ah, I begin to understand,” said Uncle Henry.

“Were you scared when I looked at you just now?” inquired Aunt Em.

“Terribly scared, madam,” answered the Lion, “for at first I thought
you were going to have a fit. Then I noticed you were trying to
overcome me by the power of your eye, and your glance was so fierce
and penetrating that I shook with fear.”

This greatly pleased the lady, and she said quite cheerfully:

“Well, I won’t hurt you, so don’t be scared any more. I just wanted
to see what the human eye was good for.”

“The human eye is a fearful weapon,” remarked the Lion, scratching his
nose softly with his paw to hide a smile. “Had I not known you were
Dorothy’s friends I might have torn you both into shreds in order to
escape your terrible gaze.”

Aunt Em shuddered at hearing this, and Uncle Henry said hastily:

“I’m glad you knew us. Good morning, Mr. Lion; we’ll hope to see you
again–by and by–some time in the future.”

“Good morning,” replied the Lion, squatting down upon the lawn again.
“You are likely to see a good deal of me, if you live in the Land of Oz.”

 

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