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Chapter 12 The Eleven Guesses

  • Hearing this condition imposed by the Nome King, Ozma became silent an_houghtful, and all her friends looked at her uneasily.
  • "Don't you do it!" exclaimed Dorothy. "If you guess wrong, you will b_nslaved yourself."
  • "But I shall have eleven guesses," answered Ozma. "Surely I ought to guess on_bject in eleven correctly; and, if I do, I shall rescue one of the roya_amily and be safe myself. Then the rest of you may attempt it, and soon w_hall free all those who are enslaved."
  • "What if we fail?" enquired the Scarecrow. "I'd look nice as a piece o_ric-a-brac, wouldn't I?"
  • "We must not fail!" cried Ozma, courageously. "Having come all this distanc_o free these poor people, it would be weak and cowardly in us to abandon th_dventure. Therefore I will accept the Nome King's offer, and go at once int_he royal palace."
  • "Come along, then, my dear," said the King, climbing down from his throne wit_ome difficulty, because he was so fat; "I'll show you the way."
  • He approached a wall of the cave and waved his hand. Instantly an openin_ppeared, through which Ozma, after a smiling farewell to her friends, boldl_assed.
  • She found herself in a splendid hall that was more beautiful and grand tha_nything she had ever beheld. The ceilings were composed of great arches tha_ose far above her head, and all the walls and floors were of polished marbl_xquisitely tinted in many colors. Thick velvet carpets were on the floor an_eavy silken draperies covered the arches leading to the various rooms of th_alace. The furniture was made of rare old woods richly carved and covere_ith delicate satins, and the entire palace was lighted by a mysterious ros_low that seemed to come from no particular place but flooded each apartmen_ith its soft and pleasing radiance.
  • Ozma passed from one room to another, greatly delighted by all she saw. Th_ovely palace had no other occupant, for the Nome King had left her at th_ntrance, which closed behind her, and in all the magnificent rooms ther_ppeared to be no other person.
  • Upon the mantels, and on many shelves and brackets and tables, were clustere_rnaments of every description, seemingly made out of all sorts of metals,
  • glass, china, stones and marbles. There were vases, and figures of men an_nimals, and graven platters and bowls, and mosaics of precious gems, and man_ther things. Pictures, too, were on the walls, and the underground palace wa_uite a museum of rare and curious and costly objects.
  • After her first hasty examination of the rooms Ozma began to wonder which o_ll the numerous ornaments they contained were the transformations of th_oyal family of Ev. There was nothing to guide her, for everything seeme_ithout a spark of life. So she must guess blindly; and for the first time th_irl came to realize how dangerous was her task, and how likely she was t_ose her own freedom in striving to free others from the bondage of the Nom_ing. No wonder the cunning monarch laughed good naturedly with his visitors,
  • when he knew how easily they might be entrapped.
  • But Ozma, having undertaken the venture, would not abandon it. She looked at _ilver candelabra that had ten branches, and thought: "This may be the Quee_f Ev and her ten children." So she touched it and uttered aloud the word
  • "Ev," as the Nome King had instructed her to do when she guessed. But th_andelabra remained as it was before.
  • Then she wandered into another room and touched a china lamb, thinking i_ight be one of the children she sought. But again she was unsuccessful. Thre_uesses; four guesses; five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten she made, an_till not one of them was right!
  • The girl shivered a little and grew pale even under the rosy light; for no_ut one guess remained, and her own fate depended upon the result.
  • She resolved not to be hasty, and strolled through all the rooms once more,
  • gazing earnestly upon the various ornaments and trying to decide which sh_ould touch. Finally, in despair, she decided to leave it entirely to chance.
  • She faced the doorway of a room, shut her eyes tightly, and then, thrustin_side the heavy draperies, she advanced blindly with her right ar_utstretched before her.
  • Slowly, softly she crept forward until her hand came in contact with an objec_pon a small round table. She did not know what it was, but in a low voice sh_ronounced the word "Ev."
  • The rooms were quite empty of life after that. The Nome King had gained a ne_rnament. For upon the edge of the table rested a pretty grasshopper, tha_eemed to have been formed from a single emerald. It was all that remained o_zma of Oz.
  • In the throne room just beyond the palace the Nome King suddenly looked up an_miled.
  • "Next!" he said, in his pleasant voice.
  • Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman, who had been sitting in anxiou_ilence, each gave a start of dismay and stared into one another's eyes.
  • "Has she failed?" asked Tiktok.
  • "So it seems," answered the little monarch, cheerfully. "But that is no reaso_ne of you should not succeed. The next may have twelve guesses, instead o_leven, for there are now twelve persons transformed into ornaments. Well,
  • well! Which of you goes next?"
  • "I'll go," said Dorothy.
  • "Not so," replied the Tin Woodman. "As commander of Ozma's army, it is m_rivilege to follow her and attempt her rescue."
  • "Away you go, then," said the Scarecrow. "But be careful, old friend."
  • "I will," promised the Tin Woodman; and then he followed the Nome King to th_ntrance to the palace and the rock closed behind him.