It seems odd that a fairy should have a birthday, for fairies, they say, wer_orn at the beginning of time and live forever. Yet, on the other hand, i_ould be a shame to deprive a fairy, who has so many other good things, of th_elights of a birthday. So we need not wonder that the fairies keep thei_irthdays just as other folks do, and consider them occasions for feasting an_ejoicing.
Ozma, the beautiful girl Ruler of the Fairyland of Oz, was a real fairy, an_o sweet and gentle in caring for her people that she was greatly beloved b_hem all. She lived in the most magnificent palace in the most magnificen_ity in the world, but that did not prevent her from being the friend of th_ost humble person in her dominions. She would mount her Wooden Sawhorse, an_ide out to a farm house and sit in the kitchen to talk with the good wife o_he farmer while she did her family baking; or she would play with th_hildren and give them rides on her famous wooden steed; or she would stop i_ forest to speak to a charcoal burner and ask if he was happy or desire_nything to make him more content; or she would teach young girls how to se_nd plan pretty dresses, or enter the shops where the jewelers and craftsme_ere busy and watch them at their work, giving to each and all a cheering wor_r sunny smile.
And then Ozma would sit in her jeweled throne, with her chosen courtiers al_bout her, and listen patiently to any complaint brought to her by he_ubjects, striving to accord equal justice to all. Knowing she was fair in he_ecisions, the Oz people never murmured at her judgments, but agreed, if Ozm_ecided against them, she was right and they wrong.
When Dorothy and Trot and Betsy Bobbin and Ozma were together, one would thin_hey were all about of an age, and the fairy Ruler no older and no more "grow_p" than the other three. She would laugh and romp with them in regula_irlish fashion, yet there was an air of quiet dignity about Ozma, even in he_erriest moods, that, in a manner, distinguished her from the others. Th_hree girls loved her devotedly, but they were never able to quite forget tha_zma was the Royal Ruler of the wonderful Fairyland of Oz, and by birt_elonged to a powerful race.
Ozma's palace stood in the center of a delightful and extensive garden, wher_plendid trees and flowering shrubs and statuary and fountains abounded. On_ould walk for hours in this fascinating park and see something interesting a_very step. In one place was an aquarium, where strange and beautiful fis_wam; at another spot all the birds of the air gathered daily to a great feas_hich Ozma's servants provided for them, and were so fearless of harm tha_hey would alight upon one's shoulders and eat from one's hand. There was als_he Fountain of the Water of Oblivion, but it was dangerous to drink of thi_ater, because it made one forget everything he had ever before known, even t_is own name, and therefore Ozma had placed a sign of warning upon th_ountain. But there were also fountains that were delightfully perfumed, an_ountains of delicious nectar, cool and richly flavored, where all wer_elcome to refresh themselves.
Around the palace grounds was a great wall, thickly encrusted with glitterin_meralds, but the gates stood open and no one was forbidden entrance. O_olidays the people of the Emerald City often took their children to see th_onders of Ozma's gardens, and even entered the Royal Palace, if they felt s_nclined, for they knew that they and their Ruler were friends, and that Ozm_elighted to give them pleasure.
When all this is considered, you will not be surprised that the peopl_hroughout the Land of Oz, as well as Ozma's most intimate friends and he_oyal courtiers, were eager to celebrate her birthday, and made preparation_or the festival weeks in advance. All the brass bands practiced their nices_unes, for they were to march in the numerous processions to be made in th_inkie Country, the Gillikin Country, the Munchkin Country and the Quadlin_ountry, as well as in the Emerald City. Not all the people could go t_ongratulate their Ruler, but all could celebrate her birthday, in one way o_nother, however far distant from her palace they might be. Every home an_uilding throughout the Land of Oz was to be decorated with banners an_unting, and there were to be games, and plays, and a general good time fo_very one.
It was Ozma's custom on her birthday to give a grand feast at the palace, t_hich all her closest friends were invited. It was a queerly assorted company,
indeed, for there are more quaint and unusual characters in Oz than in all th_est of the world, and Ozma was more interested in unusual people than i_rdinary ones—just as you and I are.
On this especial birthday of the lovely girl Ruler, a long table was set i_he royal Banquet Hall of the palace, at which were place-cards for th_nvited guests, and at one end of the great room was a smaller table, not s_igh, for Ozma's animal friends, whom she never forgot, and at the other en_as a big table where all of the birthday gifts were to be arranged.
When the guests arrived, they placed their gifts on this table and then foun_heir places at the banquet table. And, after the guests were all placed, th_nimals entered in a solemn procession and were placed at their table b_ellia Jamb. Then, while an orchestra hidden by a bank of roses and fern_layed a march composed for the occasion, the Royal Ozma entered the Banque_all, attended by her Maids of Honor, and took her seat at the head of th_able.
She was greeted by a cheer from all the assembled company, the animals addin_heir roars and growls and barks and mewing and cackling to swell the gla_umult, and then all seated themselves at their tables.
At Ozma's right sat the famous Scarecrow of Oz, whose straw-stuffed body wa_ot beautiful, but whose happy nature and shrewd wit had made him a genera_avorite. On the left of the Ruler was placed the Tin Woodman, whose meta_ody had been brightly polished for this event. The Tin Woodman was th_mperor of the Winkie Country and one of the most important persons in Oz.
Next to the Scarecrow, Dorothy was seated, and next to her was Tik-Tok, th_lockwork Man, who had been wound up as tightly as his clockwork would permit,
so he wouldn't interrupt the festivities by running down. Then came Aunt E_nd Uncle Henry, Dorothy's own relations, two kindly old people who had a coz_ome in the Emerald City and were very happy and contented there. Then Bets_obbin was seated, and next to her the droll and delightful Shaggy Man, wh_as a favorite wherever he went.
On the other side of the table, opposite the Tin Woodman was placed Trot, an_ext to her, Cap'n Bill. Then was seated Button-Bright and Ojo the Lucky, an_r. Pipt and his good wife Margalot, and the astonishing Frogman, who had com_rom the Yip country to be present at Ozma's birthday feast.
At the foot of the table, facing Ozma, was seated the queenly Glinda, the goo_orceress of Oz, for this was really the place of honor next to the head o_he table where Ozma herself sat. On Glinda's right was the Little Wizard o_z, who owed to Glinda all of the magical arts he knew. Then came Jinjur, _retty girl farmer of whom Ozma and Dorothy were quite fond. The adjoinin_eat was occupied by the Tin Soldier, and next to him was Professor H. M.
Wogglebug, T.E., of the Royal Athletic College.
On Glinda's left was placed the jolly Patchwork Girl, who was a little afrai_f the Sorceress and so was likely to behave herself pretty well. The Shagg_an's brother was beside the Patchwork Girl, and then came that interestin_ersonage, Jack Pumpkinhead, who had grown a splendid big pumpkin for a ne_ead to be worn on Ozma's birthday, and had carved a face on it that was eve_ollier in expression than the one he had last worn. New heads were no_nusual with Jack, for the pumpkins did not keep long, and when th_eeds—which served him as brains—began to get soft and mushy, he realized hi_ead would soon spoil, and so he procured a new one from his great field o_umpkins—grown by him so that he need never lack a head.
You will have noticed that the company at Ozma's banquet table was somewha_ixed, but every one invited was a tried and trusted friend of the girl Ruler,
and their presence made her quite happy.
No sooner had Ozma seated herself, with her back to the birthday table, tha_he noticed that all present were eyeing with curiosity and pleasure somethin_ehind her, for the gorgeous Magic Flower was blooming gloriously and th_ammoth blossoms that quickly succeeded one another on the plant wer_eautiful to view and filled the entire room with their delicate fragrance.
Ozma wanted to look, too, to see what all were staring at, but she controlle_er curiosity because it was not proper that she should yet view her birthda_ifts.
So the sweet and lovely Ruler devoted herself to her guests, several of whom,
such as the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Patchwork Girl, Tik-Tok, Jac_umpkinhead and the Tin Soldier, never ate anything but sat very politely i_heir places and tried to entertain those of the guests who did eat.
And, at the animal table, there was another interesting group, consisting o_he Cowardly Lion, the Hungry Tiger, Toto—Dorothy's little shaggy blac_og—Hank the Mule, the Pink Kitten, the Wooden Sawhorse, the Yellow Hen, an_he Glass Cat. All of these had good appetites except the Sawhorse and th_lass Cat, and each was given a plentiful supply of the food it liked best.
Finally, when the banquet was nearly over and the ice-cream was to be served,
four servants entered bearing a huge cake, all frosted and decorated wit_andy flowers. Around the edge of the cake was a row of lighted candles, an_n the center were raised candy letters that spelled the words:
OZMA'S Birthday Cake from Dorothy and the Wizard "Oh, how beautiful!" crie_zma, greatly delighted, and Dorothy said eagerly: "Now you must cut the cake,
Ozma, and each of us will eat a piece with our ice-cream."
Jellia Jamb brought a large golden knife with a jeweled handle, and Ozma stoo_p in her place and attempted to cut the cake. But as soon as the frosting i_he center broke under the pressure of the knife there leaped from the cake _iny monkey three inches high, and he was followed by another and another,
until twelve monkeys stood on the tablecloth and bowed low to Ozma.
"Congratulations to our gracious Ruler!" they exclaimed in a chorus, and the_hey began a dance, so droll and amusing that all the company roared wit_aughter and even Ozma joined in the merriment. But after the dance th_onkeys performed some wonderful acrobatic feats, and then they ran to th_ollow of the cake and took out some band instruments of burnishe_old—cornets, horns, drums, and the like—and forming into a procession th_onkeys marched up and down the table playing a jolly tune with the ease o_killed musicians.
Dorothy was delighted with the success of her "Surprise Cake," and after th_onkeys had finished their performance, the banquet came to an end.
Now was the time for Ozma to see her other presents, so Glinda the Good ros_nd, taking the girl Ruler by her hand, led her to the table where all he_ifts were placed in magnificent array. The Magic Flower of course attracte_er attention first, and Trot had to tell her the whole story of thei_dventures in getting it. The little girl did not forget to give due credit t_he Glass Cat and the little Wizard, but it was really Cap'n Bill who ha_ravely carried the golden flower-pot away from the enchanted Isle.
Ozma thanked them all, and said she would place the Magic Flower in he_oudoir where she might enjoy its beauty and fragrance continually. But no_he discovered the marvelous gown woven by Glinda and her maidens from strand_rawn from pure emeralds, and being a girl who loved pretty clothes, Ozma'_cstasy at being presented with this exquisite gown may well be imagined. Sh_ould hardly wait to put it on, but the table was loaded with other prett_ifts and the night was far spent before the happy girl Ruler had examined al_er presents and thanked those who had lovingly donated them.