FictionForest

Chapter 1 – A Terrible Loss

L. Frank BaumOct 05, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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There could be no doubt of the fact: Princess Ozma, the lovely girl
ruler of the Fairyland of Oz, was lost. She had completely
disappeared.Not one of her subjects–not even her closest
friends–knew what had become of her. It was Dorothy who first
discovered it. Dorothy was a little Kansas girl who had come to the
Land of Oz to live and had been given a delightful suite of rooms in
Ozma’s royal palace just because Ozma loved Dorothy and wanted her to
live as near her as possible so the two girls might be much together.

Dorothy was not the only girl from the outside world who had been
welcomed to Oz and lived in the royal palace. There was another named
Betsy Bobbin, whose adventures had led her to seek refuge with Ozma,
and still another named Trot, who had been invited, together with her
faithful companion Cap’n Bill, to make her home in this wonderful
fairyland. The three girls all had rooms in the palace and were great
chums; but Dorothy was the dearest friend of their gracious Ruler and
only she at any hour dared to seek Ozma in her royal apartments. For
Dorothy had lived in Oz much longer than the other girls and had been
made a Princess of the realm.

Betsy was a year older than Dorothy and Trot was a year younger, yet
the three were near enough of an age to become great playmates and to
have nice times together. It was while the three were talking
together one morning in Dorothy’s room that Betsy proposed they make a
journey into the Munchkin Country, which was one of the four great
countries of the Land of Oz ruled by Ozma. “I’ve never been there
yet,” said Betsy Bobbin, “but the Scarecrow once told me it is the
prettiest country in all Oz.”

“I’d like to go, too,” added Trot.

“All right,” said Dorothy. “I’ll go and ask Ozma. Perhaps she will
let us take the Sawhorse and the Red Wagon, which would be much nicer
for us than having to walk all the way. This Land of Oz is a pretty
big place when you get to all the edges of it.”

So she jumped up and went along the halls of the splendid palace until
she came to the royal suite, which filled all the front of the second
floor. In a little waiting room sat Ozma’s maid, Jellia Jamb, who was
busily sewing. “Is Ozma up yet?” inquired Dorothy.

“I don’t know, my dear,” replied Jellia. “I haven’t heard a word from
her this morning. She hasn’t even called for her bath or her
breakfast, and it is far past her usual time for them.”

“That’s strange!” exclaimed the little girl.

“Yes,” agreed the maid, “but of course no harm could have happened to
her. No one can die or be killed in the Land of Oz, and Ozma is
herself a powerful fairy, and she has no enemies so far as we know.
Therefore I am not at all worried about her, though I must admit her
silence is unusual.”

“Perhaps,” said Dorothy thoughtfully, “she has overslept. Or she may
be reading or working out some new sort of magic to do good to her
people.”

“Any of these things may be true,” replied Jellia Jamb, “so I haven’t
dared disturb our royal mistress. You, however, are a privileged
character, Princess, and I am sure that Ozma wouldn’t mind at all if
you went in to see her.”

“Of course not,” said Dorothy, and opening the door of the outer
chamber, she went in. All was still here. She walked into another
room, which was Ozma’s boudoir, and then, pushing back a heavy drapery
richly broidered with threads of pure gold, the girl entered the
sleeping-room of the fairy Ruler of Oz. The bed of ivory and gold was
vacant; the room was vacant; not a trace of Ozma was to be found.
Very much surprised, yet still with no fear that anything had happened
to her friend, Dorothy returned through the boudoir to the other rooms
of the suite. the bath, the wardrobe, and even into the great throne
room, which adjoined the royal suite, but in none of these places
could she find Ozma.

So she returned to the anteroom where she had left the maid, Jellia
Jamb, and said, “She isn’t in her rooms now, so she must have gone
out.”

“I don’t understand how she could do that without my seeing her,”
replied Jellia, “unless she made herself invisible.”

“She isn’t there, anyhow,” declared Dorothy.

“Then let us go find her,” suggested the maid, who appeared to be a
little uneasy. So they went into the corridors, and there Dorothy
almost stumbled over a queer girl who was dancing lightly along the
passage.

“Stop a minute, Scraps!” she called, “Have you seen Ozma this
morning?”

“Not I!” replied the queer girl, dancing nearer.”I lost both my eyes
in a tussle with the Woozy last night, for the creature scraped ’em
both off my face with his square paws. So I put the eyes in my
pocket, and this morning Button-Bright led me to Aunt Em, who sewed
’em on again. So I’ve seen nothing at all today, except during the
last five minutes. So of course I haven’t seen Ozma.”

“Very well, Scraps,” said Dorothy, looking curiously at the eyes,
which were merely two round, black buttons sewed upon the girl’s face.

There were other things about Scraps that would have seemed curious to
one seeing her for the first time. She was commonly called “the
Patchwork Girl” because her body and limbs were made from a
gay-colored patchwork quilt which had been cut into shape and stuffed
with cotton. Her head was a round ball stuffed in the same manner and
fastened to her shoulders. For hair, she had a mass of brown yarn,
and to make a nose for her a part of the cloth had been pulled out
into the shape of a knob and tied with a string to hold it in place.
Her mouth had been carefully made by cutting a slit in the proper
place and lining it with red silk, adding two rows of pearls for teeth
and a bit of red flannel for a tongue.

In spite of this queer make-up, the Patchwork Girl was magically alive
and had proved herself not the least jolly and agreeable of the many
quaint characters who inhabit the astonishing Fairyland of Oz.
Indeed, Scraps was a general favorite, although she was rather flighty
and erratic and did and said many things that surprised her friends.
She was seldom still, but loved to dance, to turn handsprings and
somersaults, to climb trees and to indulge in many other active
sports.

“I’m going to search for Ozma,” remarked Dorothy, “for she isn’t in
her rooms, and I want to ask her a question.”

“I’ll go with you,” said Scraps, “for my eyes are brighter than yours,
and they can see farther.”

“I’m not sure of that,” returned Dorothy. “But come along, if you
like.”

Together they searched all through the great palace and even to the
farthest limits of the palace grounds, which were quite extensive, but
nowhere could they find a trace of Ozma. When Dorothy returned to
where Betsy and Trot awaited her, the little girl’s face was rather
solemn and troubled, for never before had Ozma gone away without
telling her friends where she was going, or without an escort that
befitted her royal state. She was gone, however, and none had seen
her go. Dorothy had met and questioned the Scarecrow, Tik-Tok, the
Shaggy Man, Button-Bright, Cap’n Bill, and even the wise and powerful
Wizard of Oz, but not one of them had seen Ozma since she parted with
her friends the evening before and had gone to her own rooms.

“She didn’t say anything las’ night about going anywhere,” observed
little Trot.

“No, and that’s the strange part of it,” replied Dorothy. “Usually
Ozma lets us know of everything she does.”

“Why not look in the Magic Picture?” suggested Betsy Bobbin. “That
will tell us where she is in just one second.”

“Of course!” cried Dorothy. “Why didn’t I think of that before?” And
at once the three girls hurried away to Ozma’s boudoir, where the
Magic Picture always hung. This wonderful Magic Picture was one of
the royal Ozma’s greatest treasures. There was a large gold frame in
the center of which was a bluish-gray canvas on which various scenes
constantly appeared and disappeared. If one who stood before it
wished to see what any person anywhere in the world was doing, it was
only necessary to make the wish and the scene in the Magic Picture
would shift to the scene where that person was and show exactly what
he or she was then engaged in doing. So the girls knew it would be
easy for them to wish to see Ozma, and from the picture they could
quickly learn where she was.

Dorothy advanced to the place where the picture was usually protected
by thick satin curtains and pulled the draperies aside. Then she
stared in amazement, while her two friends uttered exclamations of
disappointment.

The Magic Picture was gone. Only a blank space on
the wall behind the curtains showed where it had formerly hung.

 

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