FictionForest

Chapter 18

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

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Princess Ozma was a very busy little ruler, for she looked carefully
after the comfort and welfare of her people and tried to make them
happy. If any quarrels arose she decided them justly; if any one
needed counsel or advice she was ready and willing to listen to them.

For a day or two after Dorothy and her companions had started on their
trip, Ozma was occupied with the affairs of her kingdom. Then she
began to think of some manner of occupation for Uncle Henry and Aunt
Em that would be light and easy and yet give the old people something
to do.

She soon decided to make Uncle Henry the Keeper of the Jewels, for
some one really was needed to count and look after the bins and barrels
of emeralds, diamonds, rubies and other precious stones that were in
the Royal Storehouses. That would keep Uncle Henry busy enough, but
it was harder to find something for Aunt Em to do. The palace was
full of servants, so there was no detail of housework that Aunt Em
could look after.

While Ozma sat in her pretty room engaged in thought she happened
to glance at her Magic Picture.

This was one of the most important treasures in all the Land of Oz.
It was a large picture, set in a beautiful gold frame, and it hung
in a prominent place upon a wall of Ozma’s private room.

Usually this picture seemed merely a country scene, but whenever
Ozma looked at it and wished to know what any of her friends or
acquaintances were doing, the magic of this wonderful picture was
straightway disclosed. For the country scene would gradually fade
away and in its place would appear the likeness of the person or
persons Ozma might wish to see, surrounded by the actual scenes in
which they were then placed. In this way the Princess could view any
part of the world she wished, and watch the actions of any one in whom
she was interested.

Ozma had often seen Dorothy in her Kansas home by this means, and now,
having a little leisure, she expressed a desire to see her little
friend again. It was while the travelers were at Fuddlecumjig, and
Ozma laughed merrily as she watched in the picture her friends trying
to match the pieces of Grandmother Gnit.

“They seem happy and are doubtless having a good time,” the girl
Ruler said to herself; and then she began to think of the many
adventures she herself had encountered with Dorothy.

The image of her friends now faded from the Magic Picture and the old
landscape slowly reappeared.

Ozma was thinking of the time when with Dorothy and her army she
marched to the Nome King’s underground cavern, beyond the Land of Ev,
and forced the old monarch to liberate his captives, who belonged to
the Royal Family of Ev. That was the time when the Scarecrow nearly
frightened the Nome King into fits by throwing one of Billina’s eggs
at him, and Dorothy had captured King Roquat’s Magic Belt and brought
it away with her to the Land of Oz.

The pretty Princess smiled at the recollection of this adventure, and
then she wondered what had become of the Nome King since then. Merely
because she was curious and had nothing better to do, Ozma glanced at
the Magic Picture and wished to see in it the King of the Nomes.

Roquat the Red went every day into his tunnel to see how the work was
getting along and to hurry his workmen as much as possible. He was
there now, and Ozma saw him plainly in the Magic Picture.

She saw the underground tunnel, reaching far underneath the Deadly
Desert which separated the Land of Oz from the mountains beneath which
the Nome King had his extensive caverns. She saw that the tunnel was
being made in the direction of the Emerald City, and knew at once it
was being dug so that the army of Nomes could march through it and
attack her own beautiful and peaceful country.

“I suppose King Roquat is planning revenge against us,” she said,
musingly, “and thinks he can surprise us and make us his captives and
slaves. How sad it is that any one can have such wicked thoughts!
But I must not blame King Roquat too severely, for he is a Nome,
and his nature is not so gentle as my own.”

Then she dismissed from her mind further thought of the tunnel, for
that time, and began to wonder if Aunt Em would not be happy as Royal
Mender of the Stockings of the Ruler of Oz. Ozma wore few holes in
her stockings; still, they sometimes needed mending. Aunt Em ought to
be able to do that very nicely.

Next day, the Princess watched the tunnel again in her Magic Picture,
and every day afterward she devoted a few minutes to inspecting the work.
It was not especially interesting, but she felt that it was her duty.

Slowly but surely the big, arched hole crept through the rocks
underneath the deadly desert, and day by day it drew nearer and
nearer to the Emerald City.

 

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