Author of The Ozmapolitan of Oz, illustrator of Merry Go Round in Oz, The Magic Map, and The Visitors from Oz, etc.
Originally published in No 10, June 1972.
Founded on and continuing the Famous Oz Stories by L. Frank Baum,
Ruth Plumly Thompson, John R. Neill, Jack Snow, Rachel Cosgrove, Eloise Jarvis McGraw, Lauren McGraw Wagner, etc., etc.
(With profuse apologies to nobody)
"Oh, Hell!" said Dorothy, viciously stubbing out her cigarette in an emerald ash-tray.
"That is no way for a Princess of Oz to talk, dear," Ozma rebuked gently.
The two girls were enjoying a heart-to-heart talk, as girls will, in the privacy of Ozma's lovely patio garden in the Royal Palace of Oz.
"You must remember," Ozma went on, "we all have positions to maintain, irksome as they may be."
"I b'lieve p'raps that's just what's so aggr'vating," Dorothy sighed. "How can we poss'bly be 'spected to keep it up all the time?"
Ozma smiled: "Here you are, a great big grown-up girl of seventy-three, still affecting that 'cute' diction. Apparently Professor Wogglebug's Elocution Pills haven't been doing you much good."
"Well, they make me kinda dizzy. I don't like to take them," complained the little Kansas girl.
"They wouldn't make you so dizzy, if you would swallow them with water instead of martinis," Ozma returned, with some tartness. "And that's another thing I've wanted to talk to you about, dear. Your Aunt Em and Uncle Henry are just as concerned as I am about your drinking."
Tears appeared in the little girl's blue eyes, and Ozma kissed her cheek.
"I'm sorry, darling," she said. "I don't mean to be an old crosspatch. Forgive me."
Dorothy smiled and wiped her tears away with a gossamer handkerchief of spun emeralds. She lit another cigarette, and Ozma continued:
"You see, dear, we've become Images. We're terribly important to Thousands of American Children. And we can't just say 'To Hell with Thousands of American Children,' because they're important to us, too! We owe it to them to continue being the simple, good, unaffected people we really are." Ozma took another sip of her martini and frowned. "Jellia Jamb is certainly getting careless - there's much too much vermouth in this."
"I think it's the Wizard's Oz-gin," declared Dorothy. "Unlike the 'ported stuff -" ("Imported, dear," Ozma interpolated.) "- it hasn't much kick. That's why the vermouth comes through so strong. Honestly! Wizzy and his Oz-gin experiments - he's got every bathtub in the Palace full of them!"
The garden echoed with the girls' silvery, tinkling laughter.
"Well, well! What's all this?" boomed a jovial voice. The merry, kindly, twinkling-eyed face of the wonderful Wizard of Oz appeared in the bower, framed in dangling sprays of roses. Jellia Jamb's face appeared alongside it.
"Jellia, my girl," he said, "I'm afraid we've been maligned!" He gave her a wink and a friendly slap, and the little maid ran off, giggling delightedly.
The trio became serious.
"I guess Ozma's right," Dorothy sighed. "If all those Thousands of American Children want to 'den'fy with us -" ("Identify, dear," said Ozma.) "- we've got to live up to it. Still, it would be nice if we could quit being 'quaint.' I mean, have tel'phones, and auto'biles, and such, like they do."
"Be sensible, darling," said Ozma. "Can you picture yourself in a Mercedes-Benz or a Jaguar, on our bumpy old Yellow Brick Roads? Of course not! The old Sawhorse-powered Red Wagon is what they want, anyway!"
"And don't forget, my dear," put in the Wizard, "my famous Wishing Pills can take you anywhere you want to go, or get you anything you want to have!"
"Pills, pills, pills," sighed Dorothy.
"Of course!" exclaimed Ozma triumphantly. "Pills, pills, pills! Pills for everything - just like America!"
"But we don't need pills for everything!" Dorothy objected.
"Certainly not!" smiled Ozma. "I've seen you making eyes at that nice young Munchkin boy in Professor Wogglebug's geozify class. That's Nature's Magic."
"But I'm a mortal, and he's a fairy," said Dorothy, blushing prettily. "But not that kind of fairy, I mean!" she added anxiously.
Ozma's silvery laughter tinkled. (Or, if you prefer, her tinkling laughter silvered.)
"Of course not!" Ozma said. "And so, I have invited him to dine with us this evening. I've placed him next to you at the table. Make the most of it - but be discreet, Dorothy dear."
"That's right," laughed the Wizard, "don't forget those Thousands of American Children!"
They all joined in a hearty laugh. Dorothy finished off her martini, and threw the olive to her little dog, Toto (whose silvery, tinkling bark added to the general merriment).
The two girls rose - a trifle unsteadily - and linked arms.
"And now," said Ozma, "if the Wizard will excuse us, we must retire and dress for dinner. Glinda the Good, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and all the rest of our dear, tired old friends will be here this evening."
Some Rhyming Riddles
The Forgetful Poet sent in the answers to his poetry puzzles and the following riddles in rhyme. He says he expects to spend August at camp. I wonder whether he will like it?
An article of furniture
To rest the feet upon
Will give an Empire, and
An ally of the vanquished Hun!
Part of the body will give a race
Who live in a very far Northern place.
You've heard of them yourself, perhaps,
And wondered why men called them -----?
This Indian tribe you surely know
Named for a bird, the thieving ------?
A girl's name, quite old fashioned, too,
Will give another tribe, the -----?
Of course, it is not spelled the same,
But see if you can guess the name.
The poems referred to in last Sunday's verses, in the order in which they appeared were: "The One Hoss Shay," by Oliver Wendell Holmes; "Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight," Rose Thorpe: "Sheridan's Ride," T. B. Read; "True Woman," William Wordsworth; "Planting the Apple Tree," William Cullen Bryant; "Ill [sic] Penseroso," Milton; "How They Brought the Good News From Ghent," Browning; "The Boys," O. W. Holmes; "Bill and Joe," O. W. Holmes; "Love of Country," Walter Scott; "Old Aunt Mary's," Riley; "Bannockburn," Robert Burns.
[Answers next time.]
Copyright © 2011 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.