Read Little Wizard Stories of Oz Page 1




  Illustrated by John R. Neill

  LittleWizardStoriesof Oz


  The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger 15

  Little Dorothy and Toto 39

  Tiktok and the Nome King 63

  Ozma and the Little Wizard 87

  Jack Pumpkinhead and the Sawhorse 111

  The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman 135


  In the splendid palace of the Emerald City, which is in the center ofthe fairy Land of Oz, is a great Throne Room, where Princess Ozma, theRuler, for an hour each day sits in a throne of glistening emeralds andlistens to all the troubles of her people, which they are sure to tellher about. Around Ozma's throne, on such occasions, are grouped allthe important personages of Oz, such as the Scarecrow, Jack Pumpkinhead,Tiktok the Clockwork Man, the Tin Woodman, the Wizard of Oz, the ShaggyMan and other famous fairy people. Little Dorothy usually has a seat atOzma's feet, and crouched on either side the throne are two enormousbeasts known as the Hungry Tiger and the Cowardly Lion.

  These two beasts are Ozma's chief guardians, but as everyone loves thebeautiful girl Princess there has never been any disturbance in thegreat Throne Room, or anything for the guardians to do but look fierceand solemn and keep quiet until the Royal Audience is over and thepeople go away to their homes.

  Of course no one would dare be naughty while the huge Lion and Tigercrouched beside the throne; but the fact is, the people of Oz are veryseldom naughty. So Ozma's big guards are more ornamental than useful,and no one realizes that better than the beasts themselves.

  One day, after everybody had left the Throne Room except the CowardlyLion and the Hungry Tiger, the Lion yawned and said to his friend:

  "I'm getting tired of this job. No one is afraid of us and no one paysany attention to us."

  "That is true," replied the big Tiger, purring softly. "We might as wellbe in the thick jungles where we were born, as trying to protect Ozmawhen she needs no protection. And I'm dreadfully hungry all the time."

  "You have enough to eat, I'm sure," said the Lion, swaying his tailslowly back and forth.

  "Enough, perhaps; but not the kind of food I long for," answered theTiger. "What I'm hungry for is fat babies. I have a great desire to eata few fat babies. Then, perhaps, the people of Oz would fear me and I'dbecome more important."

  "True," agreed the Lion. "It would stir up quite a rumpus if you ate but_one_ fat baby. As for myself; my claws are sharp as needles and strongas crowbars, while my teeth are powerful enough to tear a person topieces in a few seconds. If I should spring upon a man and make chopsuey of him, there would be wild excitement in the Emerald City and thepeople would fall upon their knees and beg me for mercy. That, in myopinion, would render me of considerable importance."

  "After you had torn the person to pieces, what would you do next?" askedthe Tiger sleepily.

  "Then I would roar so loudly it would shake the earth and stalk away tothe jungle to hide myself, before anyone could attack me or kill me forwhat I had done."

  "I see," nodded the Tiger. "You are really cowardly."

  "To be sure. That is why I am named the Cowardly Lion. That is why Ihave always been so tame and peaceable. But I'm awfully tired of beingtame," added the Lion, with a sigh, "and it would be fun to raise a rowand show people what a terrible beast I really am."

  The Tiger remained silent for several minutes, thinking deeply as heslowly washed his face with his left paw. Then he said:

  "I'm getting old, and it would please me to eat at least one fat babybefore I die. Suppose we surprise these people of Oz and prove ourpower. What do you say? We will walk out of here just as usual and thefirst baby we meet I'll eat in a jiffy, and the first man or woman youmeet you will tear to pieces. Then we will both run out of the citygates and gallop across the country and hide in the jungle before anyonecan stop us."

  "All right; I'm game," said the Lion, yawning again so that he showedtwo rows of dreadfully sharp teeth.

  The Tiger got up and stretched his great, sleek body.

  "Come on," he said. The Lion stood up and proved he was the larger ofthe two, for he was almost as big as a small horse.

  Out of the palace they walked, and met no one. They passed through thebeautiful grounds, past fountains and beds of lovely flowers, and met noone. Then they unlatched a gate and entered a street of the city, andmet no one.

  "I wonder how a fat baby will taste," remarked the Tiger, as theystalked majestically along, side by side.

  "I imagine it will taste like nutmegs," said the Lion.

  "No," said the Tiger, "I've an idea it will taste like gumdrops."

  They turned a corner, but met no one, for the people of the Emerald Citywere accustomed to take their naps at this hour of the afternoon.

  "I wonder how many pieces I ought to tear a person into," said the Lion,in a thoughtful voice.

  "Sixty would be about right," suggested the Tiger.

  "Would that hurt any more than to tear one into about a dozen pieces?"inquired the Lion, with a little shudder.

  "Who cares whether it hurts or not?" growled the Tiger.

  The Lion did not reply. They entered a side street, but met no one.

  Suddenly they heard a child crying.

  "Aha!" exclaimed the Tiger. "There is my meat."

  He rushed around a corner, the Lion following, and came upon a nice fatbaby sitting in the middle of the street and crying as if in greatdistress.

  "What's the matter?" asked the Tiger, crouching before the baby.

  "I--I--I-lost my m-m-mamma!" wailed the baby.

  "Why, you poor little thing," said the great beast, softly stroking thechild's head with its paw. "Don't cry, my dear, for mamma can't be faraway and I'll help you to find her."

  "Go on," said the Lion, who stood by.

  "Go on where?" asked the Tiger, looking up.

  "Go on and eat your fat baby."

  "Why, you dreadful creature!" said the Tiger reproachfully; "would youwant me to eat a poor little lost baby, that doesn't know where itsmother is?" And the beast gathered the little one into its strong, hairyarms and tried to comfort it by rocking it gently back and forth.

  The Lion growled low in his throat and seemed very much disappointed;but at that moment a scream reached their ears and a woman came boundingout of a house and into the street. Seeing her baby in the embrace ofthe monster Tiger the woman screamed again and rushed forward to rescueit, but in her haste she caught her foot in her skirt and tumbled headover heels and heels over head, stopping with such a bump that she sawmany stars in the heavens, although it was broad daylight. And there shelay, in a helpless manner, all tangled up and unable to stir.

  With one bound and a roar like thunder the huge Lion was beside her.With his strong jaws he grasped her dress and raised her into an uprightposition.

  "Poor thing! Are you hurt?" he gently asked.

  Gasping for breath the woman struggled to free herself and tried towalk, but she limped badly and tumbled down again.

  "My baby!" she said pleadingly.

  "The baby is all right; don't worry," replied the Lion; and then headded: "Keep quiet, now, and I'll carry you back to your house, and theHungry Tiger will carry your baby."

  The Tiger, who had approached the place with the child in its arms,asked in astonishment:

  "Aren't you going to tear her into sixty pieces?"

  "No, nor into six pieces," answered the Lion indignantly. "I'm notsuch a brute as to destroy a poor woman who has hurt hers
elf trying tosave her lost baby. If you are so ferocious and cruel and bloodthirsty,you may leave me and go away, for I do not care to associate with you."

  "That's all right," answered the Tiger. "I'm not cruel--not in theleast--I'm only hungry. But I thought _you_ were cruel."

  "Thank heaven I'm respectable," said the Lion, with dignity. He thenraised the woman and with much gentleness carried her into her house,where he laid her upon a sofa. The Tiger followed with the baby, whichhe safely deposited beside its mother. The little one liked the HungryTiger and grasping the enormous beast by both ears the baby kissed thebeast's nose to show he was grateful and happy.

  "Thank you very much," said the woman. "I've often heard what goodbeasts you are, in spite of your power to do mischief to mankind, andnow I know that the stories are true. I do not think either of you haveever had an evil thought."

  The Hungry Tiger and the Cowardly Lion hung their heads and did not lookinto each other's eyes, for both were shamed and humbled. They creptaway and stalked back through the streets until they again entered thepalace grounds, where they retreated to the pretty, comfortable roomsthey occupied at the back of the palace. There they silently crouched intheir usual corners to think over their adventure.

  After a while the Tiger said sleepily:

  "I don't believe fat babies taste like gumdrops. I'm quite sure theyhave the flavor of raspberry tarts. My, how hungry I am for fat babies!"

  The Lion grunted disdainfully.

  "You're a humbug," said he.

  "Am I?" retorted the Tiger, with a sneer. "Tell me, then, into how manypieces you usually tear your victims, my bold Lion?"

  The Lion impatiently thumped the floor with his tail.

  "To tear anyone into pieces would soil my claws and blunt my teeth," hesaid. "I'm glad I didn't muss myself up this afternoon by hurting thatpoor mother."

  The Tiger looked at him steadily and then yawned a wide, wide yawn.

  "You're a coward," he remarked.

  "Well," said the Lion, "it's better to be a coward than to do wrong."

  "To be sure," answered the other. "And that reminds me that I nearlylost my own reputation. For, had I eaten that fat baby I would not nowbe the Hungry Tiger. It's better to go hungry, seems to me, than to becruel to a little child."

  And then they dropped their heads on their paws and went to sleep.