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Chapter 8 – Queen Coo-ee-oh

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

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Princess Ozma considered the situation gravely. Then
she tied her handkerchief to her wand and, standing at
the water’s edge, waved the handkerchief like a flag,
as a signal. For a time they could observe no response.

“I don’t see what good that will do,” said Dorothy.
“Even if the Skeezers are on that island and see us,
and know we’re friends, they haven’t any boats to come
and get us.”

But the Skeezers didn’t need boats, as the girls soon
discovered. For on a sudden an opening appeared at the
base of the palace and from the opening came a slender
shaft of steel, reaching out slowly but steadily across
the water in the direction of the place where they
stood. To the girls this steel arrangement looked like
a triangle, with the base nearest the water. It came
toward them in the form of an arch, stretching out from
the palace wall until its end reached the bank and
rested there, while the other end still remained on the
island.

Then they saw that it was a bridge, consisting of a
steel footway just broad enough to walk on, and two
slender guide rails, one on either side, which were
connected with the footway by steel bars. The bridge
looked rather frail and Dorothy feared it would not
bear their weight, but Ozma at once called, “Come on!”
and started to walk across, holding fast to the rail on
either side. So Dorothy summoned her courage and
followed after. Before Ozma had taken three steps she
halted and so forced Dorothy to halt, for the bridge
was again moving and returning to the island.

“We need not walk after all,” said Ozma. So they
stood still in their places and let the steel bridge
draw them onward. Indeed, the bridge drew them well
into the glass-domed building which covered the island,
and soon they found themselves standing in a marble
room where two handsomely dressed young men stood on a
platform to receive them.

Ozma at once stepped from the end of the bridge to
the marble platform, followed by Dorothy, and then the
bridge disappeared with a slight clang of steel and a
marble slab covered the opening from which it had
emerged.

The two young men bowed profoundly to Ozma, and one
of them said:

“Queen Coo-ee-oh bids you welcome, O Strangers. Her
Majesty is waiting to receive you in her palace.”

“Lead on,” replied Ozma with dignity.

But instead of “leading on,” the platform of marble
began to rise, carrying them upward through a square
hole above which just fitted it. A moment later they
found themselves within the great glass dome that
covered almost all of the island.

Within this dome was a little village, with houses,
streets, gardens and parks. The houses were of colored
marbles, prettily designed, with many stained-glass
windows, and the streets and gardens seemed well cared
for. Exactly under the center of the lofty dome was a
small park filled with brilliant flowers, with an
elaborate fountain, and facing this park stood a
building larger and more imposing than the others.
Toward this building the young men escorted Ozma and
Dorothy.

On the streets and in the doorways or open windows of
the houses were men, women and children, all richly
dressed. These were much like other people in different
parts of the Land of Oz, except that instead of seeming
merry and contented they all wore expressions of much
solemnity or of nervous irritation. They had beautiful
homes, splendid clothes, and ample food, but Dorothy at
once decided something was wrong with their lives and
that they were not happy. She said nothing, however,
but looked curiously at the Skeezers.

At the entrance of the palace Ozma and Dorothy were
met by two other young men, in uniform and armed with
queer weapons that seemed about halfway between pistols
and guns, but were like neither. Their conductors bowed
and left them, and the two in uniforms led the girls
into the palace.

In a beautiful throne room, surrounded by a dozen or
more young men and women, sat the Queen of the
Skeezers, Coo-ee-oh. She was a girl who looked older
than Ozma or Dorothy — fifteen or sixteen, at least —
and although she was elaborately dressed as if she were
going to a ball she was too thin and plain of feature
to be pretty. But evidently Queen Coo-ee-oh did not
realize this fact, for her air and manner betrayed her
as proud and haughty and with a high regard for her own
importance. Dorothy at once decided she was “snippy”
and that she would not like Queen Coo-ee-oh as a
companion.

The Queen’s hair was as black as her skin was white
and her eyes were black, too. The eyes, as she calmly
examined Ozma and Dorothy, had a suspicious and
unfriendly look in them, but she said quietly:

“I know who you are, for I have consulted my Magic
Oracle, which told me that one calls herself Princess
Ozma, the Ruler of all the Land of Oz, and the other is
Princess Dorothy of Oz, who came from a country called
Kansas. I know nothing of the Land of Oz, and I know
nothing of Kansas.”

“Why, this is the Land of Oz!” cried Dorothy. “It’s a
part of the Land of Oz, anyhow, whether you know it or
not.”

“Oh, in-deed!” answered Queen Coo-ee-oh, scornfully.
“I suppose you will claim next that this Princess Ozma,
ruling the Land of Oz, rules me!”

“Of course,” returned Dorothy. “There’s no doubt of
it.”

The Queen turned to Ozma.

“Do you dare make such a claim?” she asked.

By this time Ozma had made up her mind as to the
character of this haughty and disdainful creature,
whose self-pride evidently led her to believe herself
superior to all others.

“I did not come here to quarrel with your Majesty,”
said the girl Ruler of Oz, quietly. “What and who I am
is well established, and my authority comes from the
Fairy Queen Lurline, of whose band I was a member when
Lurline made all Oz a Fairyland. There are several
countries and several different peoples in this broad
land, each of which has its separate rulers, Kings,
Emperors and Queens. But all these render obedience to
my laws and acknowledge me as the supreme Ruler.”

“If other Kings and Queens are fools that does not
interest me in the least,” replied Coo-ee-oh,
disdainfully. “In the Land of the Skeezers I alone am
supreme. You are impudent to think I would defer to you
— or to anyone else.”

“Let us not speak of this now, please,” answered
Ozma. “Your island is in danger, for a powerful foe is
preparing to destroy it.”

“Pah! The Flatheads. I do not fear them.”

“Their Supreme Dictator is a Sorcerer.”

“My magic is greater than his. Let the Flatheads
come! They will never return to their barren mountain-
top. I will see to that.”

Ozma did not like this attitude, for it meant that
the Skeezers were eager to fight the Flatheads, and
Ozma’s object in coming here was to prevent fighting
and induce the two quarrelsome neighbors to make peace.
She was also greatly disappointed in Coo-ee-oh, for the
reports of Su-dic had led her to imagine the Queen more
just and honorable than were the Flatheads. Indeed Ozma
reflected that the girl might be better at heart than
her self-pride and overbearing manner indicated, and in
any event it would be wise not to antagonize her but to
try to win her friendship.

“I do not like wars, your Majesty,” said Ozma. “In
the Emerald City, where I rule thousands of people, and
in the countries near to the Emerald City, where
thousands more acknowledge my rule, there is no army at
all, because there is no quarreling and no need to
fight. If differences arise between my people, they
come to me and I judge the cases and award justice to
all. So, when I learned there might be war between two
faraway people of Oz, I came here to settle the dispute
and adjust the quarrel.”

“No one asked you to come,” declared Queen Coo-ee-oh.
“It is my business to settle this dispute, not yours.
You say my island is a part of the Land of Oz, which
you rule, but that is all nonsense, for I’ve never
heard of the Land of Oz, nor of you. You say you are a
fairy, and that fairies gave you command over me. I
don’t believe it! What I do believe is that you are an
impostor and have come here to stir up trouble among my
people, who are already becoming difficult to manage.
You two girls may even be spies of the vile Flatheads,
for all I know, and may be trying to trick me. But
understand this,” she added, proudly rising from her
jeweled throne to confront them, “I have magic powers
greater than any fairy possesses, and greater than any
Flathead possesses. I am a Krumbic Witch — the only
Krumbic Witch in the world — and I fear the magic of
no other creature that exists! You say you rule
thousands. I rule one hundred and one Skeezers. But
every one of them trembles at my word. Now that Ozma of
Oz and Princess Dorothy are here, I shall rule one
hundred and three subjects, for you also shall bow
before my power. More than that, in ruling you I also
rule the thousands you say you rule.”

Dorothy was very indignant at this speech.

“I’ve got a pink kitten that sometimes talks like
that,” she said, “but after I give her a good whipping
she doesn’t think she’s so high and mighty after all.
If you only knew who Ozma is you’d be scared to death
to talk to her like that!”

Queen Coo-ee-oh gave the girl a supercilious look.
Then she turned again to Ozma.

“I happen to know,” said she, “that the Flatheads
intend to attack us tomorrow, but we are ready for
them. Until the battle is over, I shall keep you two
strangers prisoners on my island, from which there is
no chance for you to escape.”

She turned and looked around the band of courtiers
who stood silently around her throne.

“Lady Aurex,” she continued, singling out one of the
young women, “take these children to your house and
care for them, giving them food and lodging. You may
allow them to wander anywhere under the Great Dome, for
they are harmless. After I have attended to the
Flatheads I will consider what next to do with these
foolish girls.”

She resumed her seat and the Lady Aurex bowed low and
said in a humble manner:

“I obey your Majesty’s commands.” Then to Ozma and
Dorothy she added, “Follow me,” and turned to leave the
throne room.

Dorothy looked to see what Ozma would do. To her
surprise and a little to her disappointment Ozma turned
and followed Lady Aurex. So Dorothy trailed after them,
but not without giving a parting, haughty look toward
Queen Coo-ee-oh, who had her face turned the other way
and did not see the disapproving look

 

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