FictionForest

Chapter 9 – The Royal Family of Ev

L. Frank BaumJul 19, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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The Tin Woodman was the first to address the meeting.

“To begin with,” said he, “word came to our noble and illustrious
Ruler, Ozma of Oz, that the wife and ten children–five boys and five
girls–of the former King of Ev, by name Evoldo, have been enslaved by
the Nome King and are held prisoners in his underground palace. Also
that there was no one in Ev powerful enough to release them.
Naturally our Ozma wished to undertake the adventure of liberating the
poor prisoners; but for a long time she could find no way to cross the
great desert between the two countries. Finally she went to a
friendly sorceress of our land named Glinda the Good, who heard the
story and at once presented Ozma a magic carpet, which would
continually unroll beneath our feet and so make a comfortable path for
us to cross the desert. As soon as she had received the carpet our
gracious Ruler ordered me to assemble our army, which I did. You
behold in these bold warriors the pick of all the finest soldiers of
Oz; and, if we are obliged to fight the Nome King, every officer as
well as the private, will battle fiercely unto death.”

Then Tiktok spoke.

“Why should you fight the Nome King?” he asked. “He has done no wrong.”

“No wrong!” cried Dorothy. “Isn’t it wrong to imprison a queen mother
and her ten children?”

“They were sold to the Nome King by King Ev-ol-do,” replied Tiktok.
“It was the King of Ev who did wrong, and when he re-al-ized what he
had done he jumped in-to the sea and drowned him-self.”

“This is news to me,” said Ozma, thoughtfully. “I had supposed the
Nome King was all to blame in the matter. But, in any case, he must
be made to liberate the prisoners.”

“My uncle Evoldo was a very wicked man,” declared the Princess
Langwidere. “If he had drowned himself before he sold his family, no
one would have cared. But he sold them to the powerful Nome King in
exchange for a long life, and afterward destroyed the life by jumping
into the sea.”

“Then,” said Ozma, “he did not get the long life, and the Nome King
must give up the prisoners. Where are they confined?”

“No one knows, exactly,” replied the Princess. “For the king, whose
name is Roquat of the Rocks, owns a splendid palace underneath the
great mountain which is at the north end of this kingdom, and he has
transformed the queen and her children into ornaments and bric-a-brac
with which to decorate his rooms.”

“I’d like to know,” said Dorothy, “who this Nome King is?”

“I will tell you,” replied Ozma. “He is said to be the Ruler of the
Underground World, and commands the rocks and all that the rocks
contain. Under his rule are many thousands of the Nomes, who are
queerly shaped but powerful sprites that labor at the furnaces and
forges of their king, making gold and silver and other metals which
they conceal in the crevices of the rocks, so that those living upon
the earth’s surface can only find them with great difficulty. Also
they make diamonds and rubies and emeralds, which they hide in the
ground; so that the kingdom of the Nomes is wonderfully rich, and all
we have of precious stones and silver and gold is what we take from
the earth and rocks where the Nome King has hidden them.”

“I understand,” said Dorothy, nodding her little head wisely.

“For the reason that we often steal his treasures,” continued Ozma,
“the Ruler of the Underground World is not fond of those who live upon
the earth’s surface, and never appears among us. If we wish to see
King Roquat of the Rocks, we must visit his own country, where he is
all powerful, and therefore it will be a dangerous undertaking.”

“But, for the sake of the poor prisoners,” said Dorothy, “we ought to
do it.”

“We shall do it,” replied the Scarecrow, “although it requires a lot
of courage for me to go near to the furnaces of the Nome King. For I
am only stuffed with straw, and a single spark of fire might destroy
me entirely.”

“The furnaces may also melt my tin,” said the Tin Woodman;
“but I am going.”

“I can’t bear heat,” remarked the Princess Langwidere, yawning lazily,
“so I shall stay at home. But I wish you may have success in your
undertaking, for I am heartily tired of ruling this stupid kingdom,
and I need more leisure in which to admire my beautiful heads.”

“We do not need you,” said Ozma. “For, if with the aid of my brave
followers I cannot accomplish my purpose, then it would be useless for
you to undertake the journey.”

“Quite true,” sighed the Princess. “So, if you’ll excuse me, I will
now retire to my cabinet. I’ve worn this head quite awhile, and I
want to change it for another.”

When she had left them (and you may be sure no one was sorry to see
her go) Ozma said to Tiktok:

“Will you join our party?”

“I am the slave of the girl Dor-oth-y, who rescued me from pris-on,”
replied the machine. “Where she goes I will go.”

“Oh, I am going with my friends, of course,” said Dorothy, quickly.
“I wouldn’t miss the fun for anything. Will you go, too, Billina?”

“To be sure,” said Billina in a careless tone. She was smoothing down
the feathers of her back and not paying much attention.

“Heat is just in her line,” remarked the Scarecrow. “If she is nicely
roasted, she will be better than ever.”

“Then” said Ozma, “we will arrange to start for the Kingdom of the
Nomes at daybreak tomorrow. And, in the meantime, we will rest and
prepare ourselves for the journey.”

Although Princess Langwidere did not again appear to her guests, the
palace servants waited upon the strangers from Oz and did everything
in their power to make the party comfortable. There were many vacant
rooms at their disposal, and the brave Army of twenty-seven was easily
provided for and liberally feasted.

The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger were unharnessed from the
chariot and allowed to roam at will throughout the palace, where they
nearly frightened the servants into fits, although they did no harm at
all. At one time Dorothy found the little maid Nanda crouching in
terror in a corner, with the Hungry Tiger standing before her.

“You certainly look delicious,” the beast was saying. “Will you
kindly give me permission to eat you?”

“No, no, no!” cried the maid in reply.

“Then,” said the Tiger, yawning frightfully, “please to get me about
thirty pounds of tenderloin steak, cooked rare, with a peck of boiled
potatoes on the side, and five gallons of ice-cream for dessert.”

“I–I’ll do the best I can!” said Nanda, and she ran away as fast as
she could go.

“Are you so very hungry?” asked Dorothy, in wonder.

“You can hardly imagine the size of my appetite,” replied the Tiger,
sadly. “It seems to fill my whole body, from the end of my throat to
the tip of my tail. I am very sure the appetite doesn’t fit me, and
is too large for the size of my body. Some day, when I meet a dentist
with a pair of forceps, I’m going to have it pulled.”

“What, your tooth?” asked Dorothy.

“No, my appetite,” said the Hungry Tiger.

The little girl spent most of the afternoon talking with the Scarecrow
and the Tin Woodman, who related to her all that had taken place in
the Land of Oz since Dorothy had left it. She was much interested in
the story of Ozma, who had been, when a baby, stolen by a wicked old
witch and transformed into a boy. She did not know that she had ever
been a girl until she was restored to her natural form by a kind
sorceress. Then it was found that she was the only child of the
former Ruler of Oz, and was entitled to rule in his place. Ozma had
many adventures, however, before she regained her father’s throne, and
in these she was accompanied by a pumpkin-headed man, a highly
magnified and thoroughly educated Woggle-Bug, and a wonderful sawhorse
that had been brought to life by means of a magic powder. The
Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman had also assisted her; but the Cowardly
Lion, who ruled the great forest as the King of Beasts, knew nothing
of Ozma until after she became the reigning princess of Oz. Then he
journeyed to the Emerald City to see her, and on hearing she was about
to visit the Land of Ev to set free the royal family of that country,
the Cowardly Lion begged to go with her, and brought along his friend,
the Hungry Tiger, as well.

Having heard this story, Dorothy related to them her own adventures,
and then went out with her friends to find the Sawhorse, which Ozma
had caused to be shod with plates of gold, so that its legs would not
wear out.

They came upon the Sawhorse standing motionless beside the garden
gate, but when Dorothy was introduced to him he bowed politely and
blinked his eyes, which were knots of wood, and wagged his tail, which
was only the branch of a tree.

“What a remarkable thing, to be alive!” exclaimed Dorothy.

“I quiet agree with you,” replied the Sawhorse, in a rough but not
unpleasant voice. “A creature like me has no business to live, as we
all know. But it was the magic powder that did it, so I cannot justly
be blamed.”

“Of course not,” said Dorothy. “And you seem to be of some use,
’cause I noticed the Scarecrow riding upon your back.”

“Oh, yes; I’m of use,” returned the Sawhorse; “and I never tire, never
have to be fed, or cared for in any way.”

“Are you intel’gent?” asked the girl.

“Not very,” said the creature. “It would be foolish to waste
intelligence on a common Sawhorse, when so many professors need it.
But I know enough to obey my masters, and to gid-dup, or whoa, when
I’m told to. So I’m pretty well satisfied.”

That night Dorothy slept in a pleasant little bed-chamber next to that
occupied by Ozma of Oz, and Billina perched upon the foot of the bed
and tucked her head under her wing and slept as soundly in that
position as did Dorothy upon her soft cushions.

But before daybreak every one was awake and stirring, and soon the
adventurers were eating a hasty breakfast in the great dining-room of
the palace. Ozma sat at the head of a long table, on a raised
platform, with Dorothy on her right hand and the Scarecrow on her
left. The Scarecrow did not eat, of course; but Ozma placed him near
her so that she might ask his advice about the journey while she ate.

Lower down the table were the twenty-seven warriors of Oz, and at the
end of the room the Lion and the Tiger were eating out of a kettle
that had been placed upon the floor, while Billina fluttered around to
pick up any scraps that might be scattered.

It did not take long to finish the meal, and then the Lion and the
Tiger were harnessed to the chariot and the party was ready to start
for the Nome King’s Palace.

First rode Ozma, with Dorothy beside her in the golden chariot and
holding Billina fast in her arms. Then came the Scarecrow on the
Sawhorse, with the Tin Woodman and Tiktok marching side by side just
behind him. After these tramped the Army, looking brave and handsome
in their splendid uniforms. The generals commanded the colonels and
the colonels commanded the majors and the majors commanded the
captains and the captains commanded the private, who marched with an
air of proud importance because it required so many officers to give
him his orders.

And so the magnificent procession left the palace and started along
the road just as day was breaking, and by the time the sun came out
they had made good progress toward the valley that led to the Nome
King’s domain.

 

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