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new! What was going on?
The silly old cloud king approached the seat royal with a
diffident air. He held out a pair of green spectacles in one hand,
until he remembered that in the orient, if you have the least bit
of respect for the recipient, you always hold an object in both
hands to present it.  Here. Try these.
 I think you mean, instructed the seated queen:   If you
please, you might like to put these on. Run it past me again... if
you please.
The king was getting a crash course in how to behave. He d
obviously spent far too many eons having his own way and never
needing to try to please anybody. This was salutary instruction.
He did as he was told.
Queen Ozma deigned to put on the specs. Just in time too,
because the four sets of double doors, one at each cardinal point,
now burst open suddenly and a glare of emerald brilliance might
have dazzled the young ruler save for the spectacles.
Butlers stood at each door, footmen tried to make presenta-
tions, but all was a chaos in moments as all Ozma s friends
poured in at every doorway and shouts of  Surprise! and  Have
a happy! and  Felicitations! rent the air. The Cloud King was
shunted to one side and got lost in the shuffle.
He had prepared a presentation speech but now, put in his
place, he just muttered it into a corner and then quitted the throne
hall.  This is my gift to you. I wanted you to have the brightest
city in all Oz.
Just as well Ozma never heard that inept little spiel. She might
have been tempted to retort tartly:  You picked a funny way of
going about it. What did I ever do to you that you should abuse
me so grossly?...
Just the same, the Emerald City really did look splendid.
Every ornamental emerald, down to the very smallest, was
back in its (code-numbered) place and sparkled with a lustre
never seen before even when the stones were fresh-carved.
This was because King Welkin had caused them to be coated
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THE CLOUD KING OF OZ
with a magical wash that enhanced the natural green gleam,
reflected sunlight with even more than natural brilliance, and
also automatically shed air pollutants. If the Emerald City
now shone with an effulgence that nearly rivaled the  north-
ern lights that had near-blinded the crowd at the Ruby City
it was not surprising.
Each and every of the scattered Emerald Citizens had been
magically transported back to their home town. Thus it was that
the Wizard of Oz and Scraps the magic Patchwork Girl were in
the reception line that filed past Queen Ozma s throne. Stand-
ing, the Girl Ruler received gratefully the handshake and kiss of
Glinda the Good and Princesses Dorothy, Trot, and Betsy, and
of hundreds of others great and small, as the day wore on and
she was, frankly, getting the least bit weary. Thank goodness for
that fine night s sleep!
Toward noon the chastened Cloud King crept back into the
throne room and resumed his place in the corner. At last the
crowd around the throne was beginning to thin. He saw his erst-
while prisoner surreptitiously wipe her hand down the thigh of
the gabardine suit and then reach out to new hands that desired
shaking.
Welkin, for all his subdued manner now, had not lost a whit
of his power or majesty. Now he drew himself up, fetched a
breath, and clapped his eighty hands together. It was a true clap
of thunders! Everyone in the hall stopped in his tracks as if shot.
With a genial grin the Cloud King turned to direct attention
to the south doors of the throne room. There a portable table
(not a collapsible card table exactly) was being borne into the
hall by a cluster of footmen, while close behind followed Glinda
the Good and Wizard Diggs arm in arm and looking rather smug.
The table was set down conveniently close to the receiving
line so that Ozma wouldn t have to stop giving her subjects the
grip while she admired what now was disclosed.
It was a cake. But not one of your ordinary cakes. This one
was eight feet wide and four high and seemed inordinately
heavy. It was covered with brown and purple icing two inches
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THE CLOUD KING OF OZ
thick and was stuck full of statuettes of Oz celebrities molded
out of marzipan and painted (in vegetable dyes) true to life.
Ozma was quite bowled over and got a stomach ache just think-
ing about eating any of it. Good thing she d had a bang-up
breakfast. Maybe she d be able to put off tasting the cake indefi-
nitely, pleading fullness.
 How splendid, she cried at her first encounter with the
cake. Then, adept at public relations, she asked every question
under the sun about it: who had designed it, how many had
been involved in the construction of it, how long had it taken?
Chef Etam Upp and all the palace bakers and confectioners
beamed at the interest shown and Ozma was treated to an exact
description of every stage in the production of the fabulous
pastry.
 Took a week to create, eh? said the girl ruler musingly.
 And I never knew a thing about it.
 No, that s because you were away, Chef Upp hastened to
clarify for her.
 Er where did you bake the cake? asked the queen with
true curiosity.
 At the palace kitchens of His Majesty the Emperor of the
Winkies, said Upp.  Emperor Nick had everything in readi-
ness and we went straight to work as soon as we reached there.
 That s strange, said Ozma.  The decision to send some of
the displaced Emerald Citizens into the Winkie country was very
impromptu. No one there knew you d be coming.
 Sure they did, insisted the chef.  Everybody knew the
Emerald City was going to be  borrowed for a bit. You know:
so it could be tarted up oh, sorry, Your Grace! cleansed and
polished and embellished and made like new and better than
new.
 Oh, indeed? spoke the little queen, great light bulbs going
on in balloons over her head.  I did not. You say everyone knew?
As, for example, Glinda the Good, Sorceress of the South? or
O.Z. Diggs, Wizard of Oz? or perhaps one Princess Dorothy of
Oz and Kansas..?
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THE CLOUD KING OF OZ
 Everyone, Your Majesty, affirmed the chef.  Everybody
except just you.
It was only then, at the expression on the young queen s face,
that the great goof knew he had dropped a brick greater even
than that Queen Ozma had had dealings with the night before.
Poor Chef Upp: he had supposed that the great and wonderful
surprise had been revealed while he still toiled in the subter- [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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