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  • CHAPTER 5. DOROTHY PICKS THE PRINCESS

  • The words of the cold and moist vegetable Prince were not very comforting, and as he

  • spoke them he turned away and left the enclosure.

  • The children, feeling sad and despondent, were about to follow him when the Wizard

  • touched Dorothy softly on her shoulder. "Wait!" he whispered.

  • "What for?" asked the girl.

  • "Suppose we pick the Royal Princess," said the Wizard.

  • "I'm quite sure she's ripe, and as soon as she comes to life she will be the Ruler,

  • and may treat us better than that heartless Prince intends to."

  • "All right!" exclaimed Dorothy, eagerly.

  • "Let's pick her while we have the chance, before the man with the star comes back."

  • So together they leaned over the great bush and each of them seized one hand of the

  • lovely Princess.

  • "Pull!" cried Dorothy, and as they did so the royal lady leaned toward them and the

  • stems snapped and separated from her feet.

  • She was not at all heavy, so the Wizard and Dorothy managed to lift her gently to the

  • ground.

  • The beautiful creature passed her hands over her eyes an instant, tucked in a stray

  • lock of hair that had become disarranged, and after a look around the garden made

  • those present a gracious bow and said, in a sweet but even toned voice:

  • "I thank you very much." "We salute your Royal Highness!" cried the

  • Wizard, kneeling and kissing her hand.

  • Just then the voice of the Prince was heard calling upon them to hasten, and a moment

  • later he returned to the enclosure, followed by a number of his people.

  • Instantly the Princess turned and faced him, and when he saw that she was picked

  • the Prince stood still and began to tremble.

  • "Sir," said the Royal Lady, with much dignity, "you have wronged me greatly, and

  • would have wronged me still more had not these strangers come to my rescue.

  • I have been ready for picking all the past week, but because you were selfish and

  • desired to continue your unlawful rule, you left me to stand silent upon my bush."

  • "I did not know that you were ripe," answered the Prince, in a low voice.

  • "Give me the Star of Royalty!" she commanded.

  • Slowly he took the shining star from his own brow and placed it upon that of the

  • Princess. Then all the people bowed low to her, and

  • the Prince turned and walked away alone.

  • What became of him afterward our friends never knew.

  • The people of Mangaboo now formed themselves into a procession and marched

  • toward the glass city to escort their new ruler to her palace and to perform those

  • ceremonies proper to the occasion.

  • But while the people in the procession walked upon the ground the Princess walked

  • in the air just above their heads, to show that she was a superior being and more

  • exalted than her subjects.

  • No one now seemed to pay any attention to the strangers, so Dorothy and Zeb and the

  • Wizard let the train pass on and then wandered by themselves into the vegetable

  • gardens.

  • They did not bother to cross the bridges over the brooks, but when they came to a

  • stream they stepped high and walked in the air to the other side.

  • This was a very interesting experience to them, and Dorothy said:

  • "I wonder why it is that we can walk so easily in the air."

  • "Perhaps," answered the Wizard, "it is because we are close to the center of the

  • earth, where the attraction of gravitation is very slight.

  • But I've noticed that many queer things happen in fairy countries."

  • "Is this a fairy country?" asked the boy. "Of course it is," returned Dorothy,

  • promptly.

  • "Only a fairy country could have veg'table people; and only in a fairy country could

  • Eureka and Jim talk as we do." "That's true," said Zeb, thoughtfully.

  • In the vegetable gardens they found the strawberries and melons, and several other

  • unknown but delicious fruits, of which they ate heartily.

  • But the kitten bothered them constantly by demanding milk or meat, and called the

  • Wizard names because he could not bring her a dish of milk by means of his magical

  • arts.

  • As they sat upon the grass watching Jim, who was still busily eating, Eureka said:

  • "I don't believe you are a Wizard at all!" "No," answered the little man, "you are

  • quite right.

  • In the strict sense of the word I am not a Wizard, but only a humbug."

  • "The Wizard of Oz has always been a humbug," agreed Dorothy.

  • "I've known him for a long time."

  • "If that is so," said the boy, "how could he do that wonderful trick with the nine

  • tiny piglets?" "Don't know," said Dorothy, "but it must

  • have been humbug."

  • "Very true," declared the Wizard, nodding at her.

  • "It was necessary to deceive that ugly Sorcerer and the Prince, as well as their

  • stupid people; but I don't mind telling you, who are my friends, that the thing was

  • only a trick."

  • "But I saw the little pigs with my own eyes!" exclaimed Zeb.

  • "So did I," purred the kitten. "To be sure," answered the Wizard.

  • "You saw them because they were there.

  • They are in my inside pocket now. But the pulling of them apart and pushing

  • them together again was only a sleight-of- hand trick."

  • "Let's see the pigs," said Eureka, eagerly.

  • The little man felt carefully in his pocket and pulled out the tiny piglets, setting

  • them upon the grass one by one, where they ran around and nibbled the tender blades.

  • "They're hungry, too," he said.

  • "Oh, what cunning things!" cried Dorothy, catching up one and petting it.

  • "Be careful!" said the piglet, with a squeal, "you're squeezing me!"

  • "Dear me!" murmured the Wizard, looking at his pets in astonishment.

  • "They can actually talk!" "May I eat one of them?" asked the kitten,

  • in a pleading voice.

  • "I'm awfully hungry." "Why, Eureka," said Dorothy, reproachfully,

  • "what a cruel question! It would be dreadful to eat these dear

  • little things."

  • "I should say so!" grunted another of the piglets, looking uneasily at the kitten;

  • "cats are cruel things." "I'm not cruel," replied the kitten,

  • yawning.

  • "I'm just hungry." "You cannot eat my piglets, even if you are

  • starving," declared the little man, in a stern voice.

  • "They are the only things I have to prove I'm a wizard."

  • "How did they happen to be so little?" asked Dorothy.

  • "I never saw such small pigs before."

  • "They are from the Island of Teenty-Weent," said the Wizard, "where everything is small

  • because it's a small island.

  • A sailor brought them to Los Angeles and I gave him nine tickets to the circus for

  • them."

  • "But what am I going to eat?" wailed the kitten, sitting in front of Dorothy and

  • looking pleadingly into her face. "There are no cows here to give milk; or

  • any mice, or even grasshoppers.

  • And if I can't eat the piglets you may as well plant me at once and raise catsup."

  • "I have an idea," said the Wizard, "that there are fishes in these brooks.

  • Do you like fish?"

  • "Fish!" cried the kitten. "Do I like fish?

  • Why, they're better than piglets--or even milk!"

  • "Then I'll try to catch you some," said he.

  • "But won't they be veg'table, like everything else here?" asked the kitten.

  • "I think not.

  • Fishes are not animals, and they are as cold and moist as the vegetables

  • themselves.

  • There is no reason, that I can see, why they may not exist in the waters of this

  • strange country."

  • Then the Wizard bent a pin for a hook and took a long piece of string from his pocket

  • for a fish-line.

  • The only bait he could find was a bright red blossom from a flower; but he knew

  • fishes are easy to fool if anything bright attracts their attention, so he decided to

  • try the blossom.

  • Having thrown the end of his line in the water of a nearby brook he soon felt a

  • sharp tug that told him a fish had bitten and was caught on the bent pin; so the

  • little man drew in the string and, sure

  • enough, the fish came with it and was landed safely on the shore, where it began

  • to flop around in great excitement.

  • The fish was fat and round, and its scales glistened like beautifully cut jewels set

  • close together; but there was no time to examine it closely, for Eureka made a jump

  • and caught it between her claws, and in a few moments it had entirely disappeared.

  • "Oh, Eureka!" cried Dorothy, "did you eat the bones?"

  • "If it had any bones, I ate them," replied the kitten, composedly, as it washed its

  • face after the meal.

  • "But I don't think that fish had any bones, because I didn't feel them scratch my

  • throat." "You were very greedy," said the girl.

  • "I was very hungry," replied the kitten.

  • The little pigs had stood huddled in a group, watching this scene with frightened

  • eyes. "Cats are dreadful creatures!" said one of

  • them.

  • "I'm glad we are not fishes!" said another. "Don't worry," Dorothy murmured,

  • soothingly, "I'll not let the kitten hurt you."

  • Then she happened to remember that in a corner of her suit-case were one or two

  • crackers that were left over from her luncheon on the train, and she went to the

  • buggy and brought them.

  • Eureka stuck up her nose at such food, but the tiny piglets squealed delightedly at

  • the sight of the crackers and ate them up in a jiffy.

  • "Now let us go back to the city," suggested the Wizard.

  • "That is, if Jim has had enough of the pink grass."

  • The cab-horse, who was browsing near, lifted his head with a sigh.

  • "I've tried to eat a lot while I had the chance," said he, "for it's likely to be a

  • long while between meals in this strange country.

  • But I'm ready to go, now, at any time you wish."

  • So, after the Wizard had put the piglets back into his inside pocket, where they

  • cuddled up and went to sleep, the three climbed into the buggy and Jim started back

  • to the town.

  • "Where shall we stay?" asked the girl.

  • "I think I shall take possession of the House of the Sorcerer," replied the Wizard;

  • "for the Prince said in the presence of his people that he would keep me until they

  • picked another Sorcerer, and the new

  • Princess won't know but that we belong there."

  • They agreed to this plan, and when they reached the great square Jim drew the buggy

  • into the big door of the domed hall.

  • "It doesn't look very homelike," said Dorothy, gazing around at the bare room.

  • "But it's a place to stay, anyhow."