Frank Baum >> The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (page 17)

''`Swim out, my fine fellow,' cried my grandfather, `and see if the water has spotted your clothes.' Quelala was much too wise not to swim, and he was not in the least spoiled by all his good fortune. He laughed, when he came to the top of the water, and swam in to shore. But when Gayelette came running out to him she found his silks and velvet all ruined by the river.

''The princess was angry, and she knew, of course, who did it. She had all the Winged Monkeys brought before her, and she said at first that their wings should be tied and they should be treated as they had treated Quelala, and dropped in the river. But my grandfather pleaded hard, for he knew the Monkeys would drown in the river with their wings tied, and Quelala said a kind word for them also; so that Gayelette finally spared them, on condition that the Winged Monkeys should ever after do three times the bidding of the owner of the Golden Cap. This Cap had been made for a wedding present to Quelala, and it is said to have cost the princess half her kingdom. Of course my grandfather and all the other Monkeys at once agreed to the condition, and that is how it happens that we are three times the slaves of the owner of the Golden Cap, whosoever he may be.''

''And what became of them?'' asked Dorothy, who had been greatly interested in the story.

''Quelala being the first owner of the Golden Cap,'' replied the Monkey, ''he was the first to lay his wishes upon us. As his bride could not bear the sight of us, he called us all to him in the forest after he had married her and ordered us always to keep where she could never again set eyes on a Winged Monkey, which we were glad to do, for we were all afraid of her.

''This was all we ever had to do until the Golden Cap fell into the hands of the Wicked Witch of the West, who made us enslave the Winkies, and afterward drive Oz himself out of the Land of the West. Now the Golden Cap is yours, and three times you have the right to lay your wishes upon us.''

As the Monkey King finished his story Dorothy looked down and saw the green, shining walls of the Emerald City before them. She wondered at the rapid flight of the Monkeys, but was glad the journey was over. The strange creatures set the travelers down carefully before the gate of the City, the King bowed low to Dorothy, and then flew swiftly away, followed by all his band.

''That was a good ride,'' said the little girl.

''Yes, and a quick way out of our troubles,'' replied the Lion. ''How lucky it was you brought away that wonderful Cap!''

15. The Discovery of Oz, the Terrible

The four travelers walked up to the great gate of Emerald City and rang the bell. After ringing several times, it was opened by the same Guardian of the Gates they had met before.

''What! are you back again?'' he asked, in surprise.

''Do you not see us?'' answered the Scarecrow.

''But I thought you had gone to visit the Wicked Witch of the West.''

''We did visit her,'' said the Scarecrow.

''And she let you go again?'' asked the man, in wonder.

''She could not help it, for she is melted,'' explained the Scarecrow.

''Melted! Well, that is good news, indeed,'' said the man. ''Who melted her?''

''It was Dorothy,'' said the Lion gravely.

''Good gracious!'' exclaimed the man, and he bowed very low indeed before her.

Then he led them into his little room and locked the spectacles from the great box on all their eyes, just as he had done before. Afterward they passed on through the gate into the Emerald City. When the people heard from the Guardian of the Gates that Dorothy had melted the Wicked Witch of the West, they all gathered around the travelers and followed them in a great crowd to the Palace of Oz.

The soldier with the green whiskers was still on guard before the door, but he let them in at once, and they were again met by the beautiful green girl, who showed each of them to their old rooms at once, so they might rest until the Great Oz was ready to receive them.

The soldier had the news carried straight to Oz that Dorothy and the other travelers had come back again, after destroying the Wicked Witch; but Oz made no reply. They thought the Great Wizard would send for them at once, but he did not. They had no word from him the next day, nor the next, nor the next. The waiting was tiresome and wearing, and at last they grew vexed that Oz should treat them in so poor a fashion, after sending them to undergo hardships and slavery. So the Scarecrow at last asked the green girl to take another message to Oz, saying if he did not let them in to see him at once they would call the Winged Monkeys to help them, and find out whether he kept his promises or not. When the Wizard was given this message he was so frightened that he sent word for them to come to the Throne Room at four minutes after nine o'clock the next morning. He had once met the Winged Monkeys in the Land of the West, and he did not wish to meet them again.

The four travelers passed a sleepless night, each thinking of the gift Oz had promised to bestow on him. Dorothy fell asleep only once, and then she dreamed she was in Kansas, where Aunt Em was telling her how glad she was to have her little girl at home again.

Promptly at nine o'clock the next morning the green-whiskered soldier came to them, and four minutes later they all went into the Throne Room of the Great Oz.

Of course each one of them expected to see the Wizard in the shape he had taken before, and all were greatly surprised when they looked about and saw no one at all in the room. They kept close to the door and closer to one another, for the stillness of the empty room was more dreadful than any of the forms they had seen Oz take.

Presently they heard a solemn Voice, that seemed to come from somewhere near the top of the great dome, and it said:

''I am Oz, the Great and Terrible. Why do you seek me?''

They looked again in every part of the room, and then, seeing no one, Dorothy asked, ''Where are you?''

''I am everywhere,'' answered the Voice, ''but to the eyes of common mortals I am invisible. I will now seat myself upon my throne, that you may converse with me.'' Indeed, the Voice seemed just then to come straight from the throne itself; so they walked toward it and stood in a row while Dorothy said:

''We have come to claim our promise, O Oz.''

''What promise?'' asked Oz.

''You promised to send me back to Kansas when the Wicked Witch was destroyed,'' said the girl.

''And you promised to give me brains,'' said the Scarecrow.

''And you promised to give me a heart,'' said the Tin Woodman.

''And you promised to give me courage,'' said the Cowardly Lion.

''Is the Wicked Witch really destroyed?'' asked the Voice, and Dorothy thought it trembled a little.

''Yes,'' she answered, ''I melted her with a bucket of water.''

''Dear me,'' said the Voice, ''how sudden! Well, come to me tomorrow, for I must have time to think it over.''

''You've had plenty of time already,'' said the Tin Woodman angrily.

''We shan't wait a day longer,'' said the Scarecrow.

''You must keep your promises to us!'' exclaimed Dorothy.

The Lion thought it might be as well to frighten the Wizard, so he gave a large, loud roar, which was so fierce and dreadful that Toto jumped away from him in alarm and tipped over the screen that stood in a corner. As it fell with a crash they looked that way, and the next moment all of them were filled with wonder. For they saw, standing in just the spot the screen had hidden, a little old man, with a bald head and a wrinkled face, who seemed to be as much surprised as they were. The Tin Woodman, raising his axe, rushed toward the little man and cried out, ''Who are you?''

''I am Oz, the Great and Terrible,'' said the little man, in a trembling voice. ''But don't strike me - please don't - and I'll do anything you want me to.''

Our friends looked at him in surprise and dismay.

''I thought Oz was a great Head,'' said Dorothy.

''And I thought Oz was a lovely Lady,'' said the Scarecrow.

''And I thought Oz was a terrible Beast,'' said the Tin Woodman.

''And I thought Oz was a Ball of Fire,'' exclaimed the Lion.

''No, you are all wrong,'' said the little man meekly. ''I have been making believe.''

''Making believe!'' cried Dorothy. ''Are you not a Great Wizard?''

''Hush, my dear,'' he said. ''Don't speak so loud, or you will be overheard - and I should be ruined. I'm supposed to be a Great Wizard.''

''And aren't you?'' she asked.

''Not a bit of it, my dear; I'm just a common man.''

''You're more than that,'' said the Scarecrow, in a grieved tone; ''you're a humbug.''

Title: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Author: Frank Baum
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