The Cowardly Lion of Oz
The Cowardly Lion of Oz
RUTH PLUMLY THOMPSON
Founded on and continuing the Famous Oz Stories
BY L. FRANK BAUM
"Royal Historian of Oz"
JOHN R. NEILL
The Reilly & Lee Co.
Printed in the United States of America
The Cowardly Lion of Oz
Dear Girls and Boys:
This is the Cowardly Lion's book, because it is mostly about him andthe people who were hunting him. Why, I do not believe there has beenso much excitement in Oz since the Scarecrow fell down his family tree.Imagine anyone daring to hunt our dear old jolly friend, just as ifhe were a common, man-eating creature, and imagine—! But here I gotelling the whole story. Read it yourself and then tell me exactly whatyou think of this Mustafa of Mudge and his blue whiskers.
I hope you will like Snorer. It must be convenient to have a radioear like his. Speaking of radios, if you should happen to hear any OZnews over yours will you tell me? Will you? If there's anything I lovebetter than strawberries in January it's Oz news in July or December orAugust—or any time!
I've had some of the finest letters from boys and girls lately, butthere is always room in my letter box for just one more. Maybe there isone there now from you to dear me? I must run down and look. Lots ofgood Oz luck until the Emerald clock in the royal palace strikes booktime again!
Ruth Plumly Thompson.
July of 1923.
This book is dedicated to
Dorothy Thompson Curtiss
and all other lovely Dorothys
including Dorothy of Oz
Ruth Plumly Thompson
List of Chapters
Mustafa of Mudge
"Tazzywaller, I must have another lion," said Mustafa of Mudge, givinghis blue whiskers a terrible tweak. "Another lion, Tazzywaller, atonce!"
"Your Highness already has nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-ninelions and a half!" said Tazzywaller bowing humbly.
"Oh, that!" interrupted Mustafa impatiently. "Very careless of you,Tazzywaller, to bring me half a lion—the wrong half, too! Monstrousannoying to see the back legs and tail of a lion jumping about in thereservation. Unnatural, I call it."
"But, your Highness will remember that had not a fortunate blow of myscimitar cut off the right half of the lion I would have been devoured,eaten, destroyed!"
Tazzywaller's eyes bulged at the unhappy recollection.
"I'd have endeavored to console myself," sniffed Mustafa disagreeably,"and Panapee would make an excellent chamberlain. But this is wastingtime. I must have another lion. A lion, I tell you, at once!"
Mustafa's voice rose to a roar. Springing from his throne, he beganstamping first one foot, then the other. The round face of poorTazzywaller grew paler at each stamp.
"But there are no more lions in Mudge," he pleaded. "Your Highness mustknow that. The royal hunters have tracked them all down, and even ifthere were more, we cannot afford another single lion. I beg of yourHighness to consider the nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-ninealready eating us out of our sandals. The Mudgers are complaining ofthe lion tax—"
"Silence!" screamed Mustafa, jumping into the air so that he couldstamp both feet at the same time.
"You're making most of the noise yourself," said Tazzywaller sulkily.
"What is all this arguing about?" demanded a sleepy voice, and througha curtain at the back of the apartment appeared the huge, turbaned headof Mixtuppa, Queen of Mudge.
"Lions! your Majesty," sighed the chief chamberlain, looking uneasilyat Mustafa's wife, who was even more unreasonable than her royalhusband. "His Highness desires another lion."
"Well, why don't you get him one? You know I can't stand thisstamping," wheezed Mixtuppa irritably.
"Neither can I," grumbled Mustafa. "It hurts my royal feet."
"No one asked you to stamp. Why don't you stop it?" sniffed Tazzywaller.
"Will you get me the lion?" asked Mustafa, pausing with foot upraised.
"I would if there were any more, but there are no more lions inMudge!" wailed Tazzywaller. Down came Mustafa's foot with a terriblestamp.
"Great Gazupp!" screamed the monarch of Mudge. "What kind of achamberlain are you? I'll appoint Panapee chamberlain in your placeand you—you may feed the lions!" he finished furiously.
Mustafa clapped his hands sharply and to the small Mudger who bouncedinto the room he snapped, "Tell Panapee to appear before me at once."He paid no attention to the pleadings of Tazzywaller, who was bumpinghis head on the floor, nor to the advice of Mixtuppa, who was waggingher head through the curtain. The next moment Panapee stood before thethrone. He was as tall and thin as Tazzywaller was round and fat. Hislittle eyes snapped with glee at sight of the chamberlain rolling abouton the floor. As purse bearer he always had to walk back of Tazzywallerin royal processions, and to see his rival in disgrace was an exquisitepleasure to the envious old Mudger.
"Your Excellency sent for me?" asked Panapee bowing deeply.
"Yes," shrilled Mustafa, pushing back his turban and pointing atrembling finger at Tazzywaller. "He says there are no more lions inMudge and I, Mustafa, must have another lion."
"Your Highness knows best," murmured Panapee, rolling up his eyes andputting his finger tips together.
"You know as well as I that there are no more lions in Mudge," criedTazzywaller, springing to his feet and shaking his fist underPanapee's nose.
"There are other countries besides Mudge," said Panapee loftily. "NowI presume your Highness was thinking of an odd, unusual sort of lion;something bigger and better than the kind now fighting amiably in theroyal reservation?"
"How well you understand me," sighed Mustafa, sinking back among hiscushions. "That's just what I do want, Panny—a strange, rare, royalsort of lion; one who will keep the rest in order and add to the honorand dignity of our court."
"I have a book," confided Panapee, placing his finger mysteriouslybeside his nose, "a book of lions, and if your Highness will but excuseme I will fetch it from my tent."
"Are you going to get a lion out of a book?" asked Mixtuppa sleepily."How stupid of Tazzywaller not to have thought of that."
Now, while Panapee goes for his book, I must tell you that Mudge is ablue and barbarous country in the southwestern part of the Munchkincountry of Oz. It is a hot, dry, desert land and the Mudgers themselvesare a short-tempered, long-legged tribe of troublemakers. They live inblue, striped tents and, if it were not for their bright blue whiskers,you would take them for Arabs, as they wear sweeping white robes andturbans to protect themselves from the heat and desert sands.
In olden Oz times the Mudgers used to descend upon the helpless littlecountries that surrounded them and carry off everything of value. ButGlinda, the good sorceress of Oz, put a stop to that. One night, flyingover Mudge in her swan chariot, she had dropped a blue book and it hadfallen on the oldest Mudger in the kingdom, hitting him a terrible blowon the nose. It had been a blow to them all, for in gold letters on thefirst page of the book stood this sentence:
"From this day on, any Mudger leaving the land of Mudge shall lose hishead. By order of Ozma, Ruler of all Oz."
There were other warnings in the blue book, but the first had changedthe whole history of the country. No Mudger was brave enough to ventureout of Mudge after that, so the thieving raids on other countrieshad stopped instantly, and the Mudgers, deprived of the pleasure ofstealing from their neighbors, stole from each other, and were alwaysquarreling among themselves and moving their tents from place to place.The peoples of the surrounding countries would come to the borders ofMudge to bargain for the dates, figs and cocoanuts for which the landwas famous, but Mustafa's grandfather, who was then ruler of the desertkingdom, disagreeably decided that since no Mudger might leave Mudgeno outsider should enter his country. Warnings were posted on all theborders of Mudge and soon no one came near the horrid little kingdom,so that it went on growing more blue and barbarous all the time, aspeople are bound to do who have no friends or neighbors.
When Mustafa, who really was not a bad fellow at heart, assumed thethrone he tried to divert the minds of his quarrelsome subjects byorganizing hunts. There were many lions in the uninhabited parts of thedesert, and for a time hunting lions kept the Mudgers out of mischief.But soon they were quarreling over even that, and the royal huntingexpeditions were more in the nature of battles than pleasure excursions.
Mustafa, in despair, confided to Tazzywaller that he much preferred thelions to his subjects. So Tazzywaller had mildly suggested that he keepa few for company. Mustafa, who was terribly bored with his duties asKing, was delighted with the idea and issued orders that hereafter alllions should be brought to the royal tents.
At first he had kept two or three in a large enclosed cage in hisgarden, but as his subjects grew more unmanageable, his affectionfor lions increased. He insisted upon more and more lions, until,as Tazzywaller had stated, there were nine thousand nine hundredninety-nine and one-half in the royal collection. Mustafa pretendedthat he kept these lions to frighten away the enemies of Mudge, andfor this purpose he had a large iron enclosure erected all around thekingdom, so that no one could come in or go out without passing throughthe royal lion reservation. Indeed, when the little Munchkin boys andgirls recited their lessons, they always described Mudge as a countryentirely surrounded by lions. But this was only an excuse. Mustafa knewwell enough that no one dared leave Mudge, and that no one wanted tocome there, but it sounded well when the people complained of the liontax.
Mustafa's lions were a terrible trial to poor Tazzywaller. To keep hisposition as chief chamberlain of Mudge, he must produce a lion wheneverMustafa demanded one. This was pretty often. By his orders the wholecountry had been combed for lions and only the week before word hadbeen brought that there was not another lion left in the whole country.Then Tazzywaller himself had gone hunting, and after an exhaustingtrip had come upon the very last old lion of Mudge. When Tazzywallertried to capture him, the beast had selfishly tried to devour the fatchamberlain. In protecting himself Tazzywaller cut the old lion intwo with his scimitar. Before he could remedy the disaster the front,and best part, of the lion had jumped over the lion enclosure anddisappeared.
In the Fairy Kingdom of Oz nothing can really be killed, so that bothhalves of the