FictionForest

Chapter 23

L. Frank BaumAug 04, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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I wish I could tell you how fine the company was that assembled that
evening at Ozma’s royal banquet. A long table was spread in the
center of the great dining-hall of the palace and the splendor of the
decorations and the blaze of lights and jewels was acknowledged to be
the most magnificent sight that any of the guests had ever seen.

The jolliest person present, as well as the most important, was of
course old Santa Claus; so he was given the seat of honor at one end
of the table while at the other end sat Princess Ozma, the hostess.

John Dough, Queen Zixi, King Bud, the Queen of Ev and her son Evardo,
and the Queen of Merryland had golden thrones to sit in, while the
others were supplied with beautiful chairs.

At the upper end of the banquet room was a separate table provided for
the animals. Toto sat at one end of this table with a bib tied around
his neck and a silver platter to eat from. At the other end was
placed a small stand, with a low rail around the edge of it, for Billina
and her chicks. The rail kept the ten little Dorothys from falling
off the stand, while the Yellow Hen could easily reach over and take
her food from her tray upon the table. At other places sat the Hungry
Tiger, the Cowardly Lion, the Saw-Horse, the Rubber Bear, the Fox King
and the Donkey King; they made quite a company of animals.

At the lower end of the great room was another table, at which sat the
Ryls and Knooks who had come with Santa Claus, the wooden soldiers who
had come with the Queen of Merryland, and the Hilanders and Lolanders
who had come with John Dough. Here were also seated the officers of
the royal palace and of Ozma’s army.

The splendid costumes of those at the three tables made a gorgeous and
glittering display that no one present was ever likely to forget;
perhaps there has never been in any part of the world at any time
another assemblage of such wonderful people as that which gathered
this evening to honor the birthday of the Ruler of Oz.

When all members of ethe company were in their places an orchestra of
five hundred pieces, in a balcony overlooking the banquet room, began to
play sweet and delightful music. Then a door draped with royal green
opened, and in came the fair and girlish Princess Ozma, who now
greeted her guests in person for the first time.

As she stood by her throne at the head of the banquet table every eye
was turned eagerly upon the lovely Princess, who was as dignified as
she was bewitching, and who smiled upon all her old and new friends in
a way that touched their hearts and brought an answering smile to
every face.

Each guest had been served with a crystal goblet filled with lacasa,
which is a sort of nectar famous in Oz and nicer to drink than
soda-water or lemonade. Santa now made a pretty speech in verse,
congratulating Ozma on having a birthday, and asking every one present
to drink to the health and happiness of their dearly beloved hostess.
This was done with great enthusiasm by those who were made so they
could drink at all, and those who could not drink politely touched the
rims of their goblets to their lips. All seated themselves at the
tables and the servants of the Princess began serving the feast.

I am quite sure that only in Fairyland could such a delicious repast
be prepared. The dishes were of precious metals set with brilliant
jewels and the good things to eat which were placed upon them were
countless in number and of exquisite flavor. Several present, such as
the Candy Man, the Rubber Bear, Tik-tok, and the Scarecrow, were not
made so they could eat, and the Queen of Merryland contented herself
with a small dish of sawdust; but these enjoyed the pomp and glitter
of the gorgeous scene as much as did those who feasted.

The Woggle-Bug read his “Ode to Ozma,” which was written in very good
rhythm and was well received by the company. The Wizard added to the
entertainment by making a big pie appear before Dorothy, and when the
little girl cut the pie the nine tiny piglets leaped out of it and
danced around the table, while the orchestra played a merry tune. This
amused the company very much, but they were even more pleased when
Polychrome, whose hunger had been easily satisfied, rose from the
table and performed her graceful and bewildering Rainbow Dance for
them. When it was ended, the people clapped their hands and the
animals clapped their paws, while Billina cackled and the Donkey King
brayed approval.

Johnny Dooit was present, and of course he proved he could do wonders
in the way of eating, as well as in everything else that he undertook
to do; the Tin Woodman sang a love song, every one joining in the
chorus; and the wooden soldiers from Merryland gave an exhibition of a
lightning drill with their wooden muskets; the Ryls and Knooks danced
the Fairy Circle; and the Rubber Bear bounced himself all around the
room. There was laughter and merriment on every side, and everybody
was having a royal good time. Button-Bright was so excited and
interested that he paid little attention to his fine dinner and a
great deal of attention to his queer companions; and perhaps he was
wise to do this, because he could eat at any other time.

The feasting and merrymaking continued until late in the evening,
when they separated to meet again the next morning and take part
in the birthday celebration, to which this royal banquet was merely
the introduction.

 

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