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Chapter 8 Queen Coo-ee-oh

  • Princess Ozma considered the situation gravely. Then she tied her handkerchie_o her wand and, standing at the water's edge, waved the handkerchief like _lag, as a signal. For a time they could observe no response.
  • "I don't see what good that will do," said Dorothy. "Even if the Skeezers ar_n that island and see us, and know we're friends, they haven't any boats t_ome and get us."
  • But the Skeezers didn't need boats, as the girls soon discovered. For on _udden an opening appeared at the base of the palace and from the opening cam_ slender shaft of steel, reaching out slowly but steadily across the water i_he direction of the place where they stood. To the girls this stee_rrangement looked like a triangle, with the base nearest the water. It cam_oward them in the form of an arch, stretching out from the palace wall unti_ts end reached the bank and rested there, while the other end still remaine_n the island.
  • Then they saw that it was a bridge, consisting of a steel footway just broa_nough to walk on, and two slender guide rails, one on either side, which wer_onnected with the footway by steel bars. The bridge looked rather frail an_orothy feared it would not bear their weight, but Ozma at once called, "Com_n!" and started to walk across, holding fast to the rail on either side. S_orothy summoned her courage and followed after. Before Ozma had taken thre_teps she halted and so forced Dorothy to halt, for the bridge was agai_oving and returning to the island.
  • "We need not walk after all," said Ozma. So they stood still in their place_nd let the steel bridge draw them onward. Indeed, the bridge drew them wel_nto the glass-domed building which covered the island, and soon they foun_hemselves standing in a marble room where two handsomely dressed young me_tood on a platform to receive them.
  • Ozma at once stepped from the end of the bridge to the marble platform,
  • followed by Dorothy, and then the bridge disappeared with a slight clang o_teel and a marble slab covered the opening from which it had emerged.
  • The two young men bowed profoundly to Ozma, and one of them said:
  • "Queen Coo-ee-oh bids you welcome, O Strangers. Her Majesty is waiting t_eceive you in her palace."
  • "Lead on," replied Ozma with dignity.
  • But instead of "leading on," the platform of marble began to rise, carryin_hem upward through a square hole above which just fitted it. A moment late_hey found themselves within the great glass dome that covered almost all o_he island.
  • Within this dome was a little village, with houses, streets, gardens an_arks. The houses were of colored marbles, prettily designed, with man_tained-glass windows, and the streets and gardens seemed well cared for.
  • Exactly under the center of the lofty dome was a small park filled wit_rilliant flowers, with an elaborate fountain, and facing this park stood _uilding larger and more imposing than the others. Toward this building th_oung men escorted Ozma and Dorothy.
  • On the streets and in the doorways or open windows of the houses were men,
  • women and children, all richly dressed. These were much like other people i_ifferent parts of the Land of Oz, except that instead of seeming merry an_ontented they all wore expressions of much solemnity or of nervou_rritation. They had beautiful homes, splendid clothes, and ample food, bu_orothy at once decided something was wrong with their lives and that the_ere not happy. She said nothing, however, but looked curiously at th_keezers.
  • At the entrance of the palace Ozma and Dorothy were met by two other youn_en, in uniform and armed with queer weapons that seemed about halfway betwee_istols and guns, but were like neither. Their conductors bowed and left them,
  • and the two in uniforms led the girls into the palace.
  • In a beautiful throne room, surrounded by a dozen or more young men and women,
  • sat the Queen of the Skeezers, Coo-ee-oh. She was a girl who looked older tha_zma or Dorothy—fifteen or sixteen, at least —and although she was elaboratel_ressed as if she were going to a ball she was too thin and plain of featur_o be pretty. But evidently Queen Coo-ee-oh did not realize this fact, for he_ir and manner betrayed her as proud and haughty and with a high regard fo_er own importance. Dorothy at once decided she was "snippy" and that sh_ould not like Queen Coo-ee-oh as a companion.
  • The Queen's hair was as black as her skin was white and her eyes were black,
  • too. The eyes, as she calmly examined Ozma and Dorothy, had a suspicious an_nfriendly look in them, but she said quietly:
  • "I know who you are, for I have consulted my Magic Oracle, which told me tha_ne calls herself Princess Ozma, the Ruler of all the Land of Oz, and th_ther is Princess Dorothy of Oz, who came from a country called Kansas. I kno_othing of the Land of Oz, and I know nothing of Kansas."
  • "Why, this is the Land of Oz!" cried Dorothy. "It's a part of the Land of Oz,
  • anyhow, whether you know it or not."
  • "Oh, in-deed!" answered Queen Coo-ee-oh, scornfully. "I suppose you will clai_ext that this Princess Ozma, ruling the Land of Oz, rules me!"
  • "Of course," returned Dorothy. "There's no doubt of it."
  • The Queen turned to Ozma.
  • "Do you dare make such a claim?" she asked.
  • By this time Ozma had made up her mind as to the character of this haughty an_isdainful creature, whose self-pride evidently led her to believe hersel_uperior to all others.
  • "I did not come here to quarrel with your Majesty," said the girl Ruler of Oz,
  • quietly. "What and who I am is well established, and my authority comes fro_he Fairy Queen Lurline, of whose band I was a member when Lurline made all O_ Fairyland. There are several countries and several different peoples in thi_road land, each of which has its separate rulers, Kings, Emperors and Queens.
  • But all these render obedience to my laws and acknowledge me as the suprem_uler."
  • "If other Kings and Queens are fools that does not interest me in the least,"
  • replied Coo-ee-oh, disdainfully. "In the Land of the Skeezers I alone a_upreme. You are impudent to think I would defer to you—or to anyone else."
  • "Let us not speak of this now, please," answered Ozma. "Your island is i_anger, for a powerful foe is preparing to destroy it."
  • "Pah! The Flatheads. I do not fear them."
  • "Their Supreme Dictator is a Sorcerer."
  • "My magic is greater than his. Let the Flatheads come! They will never retur_o their barren mountain-top. I will see to that."
  • Ozma did not like this attitude, for it meant that the Skeezers were eager t_ight the Flatheads, and Ozma's object in coming here was to prevent fightin_nd induce the two quarrelsome neighbors to make peace. She was also greatl_isappointed in Coo-ee-oh, for the reports of Su-dic had led her to imagin_he Queen more just and honorable than were the Flatheads. Indeed Ozm_eflected that the girl might be better at heart than her self-pride an_verbearing manner indicated, and in any event it would be wise not t_ntagonize her but to try to win her friendship.
  • "I do not like wars, your Majesty," said Ozma. "In the Emerald City, where _ule thousands of people, and in the countries near to the Emerald City, wher_housands more acknowledge my rule, there is no army at all, because there i_o quarreling and no need to fight. If differences arise between my people,
  • they come to me and I judge the cases and award justice to all. So, when _earned there might be war between two faraway people of Oz, I came here t_ettle the dispute and adjust the quarrel."
  • "No one asked you to come," declared Queen Coo-ee-oh. "It is my business t_ettle this dispute, not yours. You say my island is a part of the Land of Oz,
  • which you rule, but that is all nonsense, for I've never heard of the Land o_z, nor of you. You say you are a fairy, and that fairies gave you comman_ver me. I don't believe it! What I do believe is that you are an impostor an_ave come here to stir up trouble among my people, who are already becomin_ifficult to manage. You two girls may even be spies of the vile Flatheads,
  • for all I know, and may be trying to trick me. But understand this," sh_dded, proudly rising from her jeweled throne to confront them, "I have magi_owers greater than any fairy possesses, and greater than any Flathea_ossesses. I am a Krumbic Witch—the only Krumbic Witch in the world—and I fea_he magic of no other creature that exists! You say you rule thousands. I rul_ne hundred and one Skeezers. But every one of them trembles at my word. No_hat Ozma of Oz and Princess Dorothy are here, I shall rule one hundred an_hree subjects, for you also shall bow before my power. More than that, i_uling you I also rule the thousands you say you rule."
  • Dorothy was very indignant at this speech.
  • "I've got a pink kitten that sometimes talks like that," she said, "but afte_ give her a good whipping she doesn't think she's so high and mighty afte_ll. If you only knew who Ozma is you'd be scared to death to talk to her lik_hat!"
  • Queen Coo-ee-oh gave the girl a supercilious look. Then she turned again t_zma.
  • "I happen to know," said she, "that the Flatheads intend to attack u_omorrow, but we are ready for them. Until the battle is over, I shall kee_ou two strangers prisoners on my island, from which there is no chance fo_ou to escape."
  • She turned and looked around the band of courtiers who stood silently aroun_er throne.
  • "Lady Aurex," she continued, singling out one of the young women, "take thes_hildren to your house and care for them, giving them food and lodging. Yo_ay allow them to wander anywhere under the Great Dome, for they are harmless.
  • After I have attended to the Flatheads I will consider what next to do wit_hese foolish girls."
  • She resumed her seat and the Lady Aurex bowed low and said in a humble manner:
  • "I obey your Majesty's commands." Then to Ozma and Dorothy she added, "Follo_e," and turned to leave the throne room.
  • Dorothy looked to see what Ozma would do. To her surprise and a little to he_isappointment Ozma turned and followed Lady Aurex. So Dorothy trailed afte_hem, but not without giving a parting, haughty look toward Queen Coo-ee-oh,
  • who had her face turned the other way and did not see the disapproving look.