PERHAPS I should admit on the title page that this book is “By L. Frank Baum and his correspondents,” for I have used many suggestions conveyed to me in letters from children. Once on a time I really imagined myself “an author of fairy tales,” but now I am merely an editor or private secretary for a host of youngsters whose ideas I am requested to weave into the thread of my stories.
These ideas are often clever. They are also logical and interesting. So I have used them whenever I could find an opportunity, and it is but just that I acknowledge my indebtedness to my little friends.
My, what imaginations these children have developed! Sometimes I am fairly astounded by their daring and genius. There will be no lack of fairy-tale authors in the future, I am sure. My readers have told me what to do with Dorothy, and Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, and I have obeyed their mandates. They have also given me a variety of subjects to write about in the future: enough, in fact, to keep me busy for some time. I am very proud of this alliance. Children love these stories because children have helped to create them. My readers know what they want and realize that I try to please them. The result is very satisfactory to the publishers, to me, and (I am quite sure) to the children.
I hope, my dears, it will be a long time before we are obliged to dissolve partnership.
L. Frank Baum
The Nome King was in an angry mood, and at such times he was very disagreeable. Every one kept away from him, even his Chief Steward Kaliko.
Therefore the King stormed and raved all by himself, walking up and down in his jewel-studded cavern and getting angrier all the time. Then he remembered that it was no fun being angry unless he had some one to frighten and make miserable, and he rushed to his big gong and made it clatter as loud as he could.
In came the Chief Steward, trying not to show the Nome King how frightened he was.
“Send the Chief Counselor here!” shouted the angry monarch.
Kaliko ran out as fast as his spindle legs could carry his fat round body, and soon the Chief Counselor entered the cavern. The King scowled and said to him:
“I’m in great trouble over the loss of my Magic Belt. Every little while I want to do something magical, and find I can’t because the Belt is gone. That makes me angry, and when I’m angry I can’t have a good time. Now, what do you advise?”
“Some people,” said the Chief Counselor, “enjoy getting angry.”
“But not all the time,” declared the King. “To be angry once in a while is really good fun, because it makes others so miserable. But to be angry morning, noon and night, as I am, grows monotonous and prevents my gaining any other pleasure in life. Now, what do you advise?”
“Why, if you are angry because you want to do magical things and can’t, and if you don’t want to get angry at all, my advice is not to want to do magical things.”
Hearing this, the King glared at his Counselor with a furious expression and tugged at his own long white whiskers until he pulled them so hard that he yelled with pain.
“You are a fool!” he exclaimed.
“I share that honor with your Majesty,” said the Chief Counselor.
The King roared with rage and stamped his foot.
“Ho, there, my guards!” he cried. “Ho” is a royal way of saying, “Come here.” So, when the guards had hoed, the King said to them:
“Take this Chief Counselor and throw him away.”
Then the guards took the Chief Counselor, and bound him with chains to prevent his struggling, and threw him away. And the King paced up and down his cavern more angry than before.
Finally he rushed to his big gong and made it clatter like a fire-alarm. Kaliko appeared again, trembling and white with fear.
“Fetch my pipe!” yelled the King.
“Your pipe is already here, your Majesty,” replied Kaliko.
“Then get my tobacco!” roared the King.
“The tobacco is in your pipe, your Majesty,” returned the Steward.
“Then bring a live coal from the furnace!” commanded the King.
“The tobacco is lighted, and your Majesty is already smoking your pipe,” answered the Steward.
“Why, so I am!” said the King, who had forgotten this fact; “but you are very rude to remind me of it.”
“I am a lowborn, miserable villain,” declared the Chief Steward, humbly.
The Nome King could think of nothing to say next, so he puffed away at his pipe and paced up and down the room. Finally he remembered how angry he was, and cried out:
“What do you mean, Kaliko, by being so contented when your monarch is unhappy?”
“What makes you unhappy?” asked the Steward.
“I’ve lost my Magic Belt. A little girl named Dorothy, who was here with Ozma of Oz, stole my Belt and carried it away with her,” said the King, grinding his teeth with rage.
“She captured it in a fair fight,” Kaliko ventured to say.
“But I want it! I must have it! Half my power is gone with that Belt!” roared the King.
“You will have to go to the Land of Oz to recover it, and your Majesty can’t get to the Land of Oz in any possible way,” said the Steward, yawning because he had been on duty ninety-six hours, and was sleepy.
“Why not?” asked the King.
“Because there is a deadly desert all around that fairy country, which no one is able to cross. You know that fact as well as I do, your Majesty. Never mind the lost Belt. You have plenty of power left, for you rule this underground kingdom like a tyrant, and thousands of Nomes obey your commands. I advise you to drink a glass of melted silver, to quiet your nerves, and then go to bed.”
The King grabbed a big ruby and threw it at Kaliko’s head. The Steward ducked to escape the heavy jewel, which crashed against the door just over his left ear.
“Get out of my sight! Vanish! Go away — and send General Blug here,” screamed the Nome King.
Kaliko hastily withdrew, and the Nome King stamped up and down until the General of his armies appeared.
This Nome was known far and wide as a terrible fighter and a cruel, desperate commander. He had fifty thousand Nome soldiers, all well drilled, who feared nothing but their stern master. Yet General Blug was a trifle uneasy when he arrived and saw how angry the Nome King was.
“Ha! So you’re here!” cried the King.
“So I am,” said the General.
“March your army at once to the Land of Oz, capture and destroy the Emerald City, and bring back to me my Magic Belt!” roared the King.
“You’re crazy,” calmly remarked the General.
“What’s that? What’s that? What’s that?” And the Nome King danced around on his pointed toes, he was so enraged.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” continued the General, seating himself upon a large cut diamond. “I advise you to stand in a corner and count sixty before you speak again. By that time you may be more sensible.”
The King looked around for something to throw at General Blug, but as nothing was handy he began to consider that perhaps the man was right and he had been talking foolishly. So he merely threw himself into his glittering throne and tipped his crown over his ear and curled his feet up under him and glared wickedly at Blug.