FictionForest

Chapter 17 – Ozma and Her Friends

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

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The Shaggy Man had a room of his own in the royal
palace, so there he went to change his shaggy suit
of clothes for another just as shaggy but not so
dusty from travel. He selected a costume of
peagreen and pink satin and velvet, with
embroidered shags on all the edges and iridescent
pearls for ornaments. Then he bathed in an
alabaster pool and brushed his shaggy hair and
whiskers the wrong way to make them still more
shaggy. This accomplished, and arrayed in his
splendid shaggy garments, he went to Ozma’s
banquet hall and found the Scarecrow, the Wizard
and Dorothy already assembled there. The Scarecrow
had made a quick trip and returned to the Emerald
City with his left ear freshly painted.

A moment later, while they all stood in waiting,
a servant threw open a door, the orchestra struck
up a tune and Ozma of Oz entered.

Much has been told and written concerning the
beauty of person and character of this sweet girl
Ruler of the Land of Oz–the richest, the happiest
and most delightful fairyland of which we have any
knowledge. Yet with all her queenly qualities Ozma
was a real girl and enjoyed the things in life
that other real girls enjoy. When she sat on her
splendid emerald throne in the great Throne Room
of her palace and made laws and settled disputes
and tried to keep all her subjects happy and
contented, she was as dignified and demure as any
queen might be; but when she had thrown aside her
jeweled robe of state and her sceptre, and had
retired to her private apartments, the girl–
joyous, light-hearted and free–replaced the
sedate Ruler.

In the banquet hall to-night were gathered
only old and trusted friends, so here Ozma was
herself–a mere girl. She greeted Dorothy with
a kiss, the Shaggy Man with a smile, the little
old Wizard with a friendly handshake and then
she pressed the Scarecrow’s stuffed arm and
cried merrily:

“What a lovely left ear! Why, it’s a hundred
times better than the old one.”

“I’m glad you like it,” replied the Scarecrow,
well pleased. “Jinjur did a neat job, didn’t she?
And my hearing is now perfect. Isn’t it wonderful
what a little paint will do, if it’s properly
applied?”

“It really is wonderful,” she agreed, as they
all took their seats; “but the Sawhorse must
have his legs twinkle to have carried you so far
in one day. I didn’t expect you back before
tomorrow, at the earliest.”

“Well,” said the Scarecrow, “I met a charming
girl on the road and wanted to see more of her, so
I hurried back.”

Ozma laughed.

“I know,” she returned; “it’s the Patchwork
Girl. She is certainly bewildering, if not strictly
beautiful.”

“Have you seen her, then?” the straw man eagerly
asked.

“Only in my Magic Picture, which shows me all
scenes of interest in the Land of Oz.”

“I fear the picture didn’t do her justice,” said
the Scarecrow.

“It seemed to me that nothing could be more
gorgeous,” declared Ozma. “Whoever made that
patchwork quilt, from which Scraps was formed,
must have selected the gayest and brightest bits
of cloth that ever were woven.

“I am glad you like her,” said the Scarecrow
in a satisfied tone. Although the straw man did
not eat, not being made so he could, he often
dined with Ozma and her companions, merely
for the pleasure of talking with them. He sat at
the table and had a napkin and plate, but the
servants knew better than to offer him food.
After a little while he asked: “Where is the
Patchwork Girl now?”

“In my room,” replied Dorothy. “I’ve taken a
fancy to her; she’s so queer and-and-uncommon.”

“She’s half crazy, I think,” added the Shaggy
Man.

“But she is so beautiful!” exclaimed the
Scarecrow, as if that fact disarmed all criticism.
They all laughed at his enthusiasm, but the
Scarecrow was quite serious. Seeing that he was
interested in Scraps they forbore to say anything
against her. The little band of friends Ozma had
gathered around her was so quaintly assorted that
much care must be exercised to avoid hurting their
feelings or making any one of them unhappy. It was
this considerate kindness that held them close
friends and enabled them to enjoy one another’s
society.

Another thing they avoided was conversing
on unpleasant subjects, and for that reason Ojo
and his troubles were not mentioned during the
dinner. The Shaggy Man, however, related his
adventures with the monstrous plants which
had seized and enfolded the travelers, and told
how he had robbed Chiss, the giant porcupine,
of the quills which it was accustomed to throw
at people. Both Dorothy and Ozma were pleased
with this exploit and thought it served Chiss
right.

Then they talked of the Woozy, which was the
most remarkable animal any of them had ever before
seen–except, perhaps, the live Sawhorse. Ozma had
never known that her dominions contained such a
thing as a Woozy, there being but one in existence
and this being confined in his forest for many
years. Dorothy said she believed the Woozy was a
good beast, honest and faithful; hut she added
that she did not care much for the Glass Cat.

“Still,” said the Shaggy Man, “the Glass Cat
is very pretty and if she were not so conceited
over her pink brains no one would object to her
as a companion.

The Wizard had been eating silently until
now, when he looked up and remarked:

“That Powder of Life which is made by the
Crooked Magician is really a wonderful thing.
But Dr. Pipt does not know its true value and
he uses it in the most foolish ways.”

“I must see about that,” said Ozma, gravely.
Then she smiled again and continued in a
lighter tone: “It was Dr. Pipt’s famous Powder
of Life that enabled me to become the Ruler
of Oz.”

“I’ve never heard that story,” said the Shaggy
Man, looking at Ozma questioningly.

“Well, when I was a baby girl I was stolen by an
old Witch named Mombi and transformed into a boy,”
began the girl Ruler. “I did not know who I was
and when I grew big enough to work, the Witch made
me wait upon her and carry wood for the fire and
hoe in the garden. One day she came back from a
journey bringing some of the Powder of Life, which
Dr. Pipt had given her. I had made a pumpkin-
headed man and set it up in her path to frighten
her, for I was fond of fun and hated the Witch.
But she knew what the figure was and to test her
Powder of Life she sprinkled some of it on the man
I had made. It came to life and is now our dear
friend Jack Pumpkinhead. That night I ran away
with Jack to escape punishment, and I took old
Mombi’s Powder of Life with me. During our journey
we came upon a wooden Sawhorse standing by the
road and I used the magic powder to bring it to
life. The Sawhorse has been with me ever since.
When I got to the Emerald City the good Sorceress,
Glinda, knew who I was and restored me to my
proper person, when I became the rightful Ruler of
this land. So you see had not old Mombi brought
home the Powder of Life I might never have run
away from her and become Ozma of Oz, nor would we
have had Jack Pumpkinhead and the Sawhorse to
comfort and amuse us.”

That story interested the Shaggy Man very much,
as well as the others, who had often heard it
before. The dinner being now concluded, they all
went to Ozma’s drawing-room, where they passed a
pleasant evening before it came time to retire.

 

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