Now when Dorothy had entered
the palace to make her guesses
and the Scarecrow was left with
the Nome King, the two sat in
moody silence for several minutes.
Then the monarch exclaimed, in
a tone of satisfaction:
"Who is very good?" asked
man. He won't need to be wound
up any more,
for he has now become a very
neat ornament. Very neat, indeed."
"How about Dorothy?" the
"Oh, she will begin to guess,
pretty soon," said the King,
cheerfully. "And then she will
join my collection, and it will
be your turn."
The good Scarecrow was much
distressed by the thought that
his little friend was about to
suffer the fate of Ozma and the
rest of their party; but while
he sat in gloomy reverie a shrill
voice suddenly cried:
kut--ka-daw-kutt! Kut, kut,
The Nome King nearly jumped
off his seat, he was so startled.
"Good gracious! What's that?" he
"Why, it's Billina," said
"What do you mean by making
a noise like that?" shouted the
King, angrily, as the yellow
hen came from under the throne
and strutted proudly about the
"I've got a right to cackle,
I guess," replied Billina. "I've
just laid my egg."
"What! Laid an egg! In my throne
room! How dare you do such a
thing?" asked the King, in a
voice of fury.
"I lay eggs wherever I happen
to be," said the hen, ruffling
her feathers and then shaking
them into place.
you know that eggs are poison?" roared
the King, while his rock-colored
eyes stuck out in great terror.
"Poison! well, I declare," said
Billina, indignantly. "I'll have
you know all my eggs are warranted
strictly fresh and up to date.
"You don't understand," retorted
the little monarch, nervously. "Eggs
belong only to the outside world--to
the world on the earth's surface,
where you came from. Here, in
my underground kingdom, they
are rank poison, as I said, and
we Nomes can't bear them around."
"Well, you'll have to bear
this one around," declared Billina; "for
I've laid it."
"Under your throne," said
The King jumped three feet
into the air, so anxious was
he to get away from the throne.
"Take it away! Take it away
at once!" he shouted.
"I can't," said Billina. "I
haven't any hands."
"I'll take the egg," said the
Scarecrow. "I'm making a collection
of Billina's eggs. There's one
in my pocket now, that she laid
Hearing this, the monarch hastened
to put a good distance between
himself and the Scarecrow, who
was about to reach under the
throne for the egg when the hen
"What's wrong?" asked
"Don't take the egg unless
the King will allow me to enter
the palace and guess as the others
have done," said Billina.
"Pshaw!" returned the King. "You're
only a hen. How could you guess
"I can try, I suppose," said
Billina. "And, if I fail, you
will have another ornament."
"A pretty ornament you'd make,
wouldn't you?" growled the King. "But
you shall have your way. It will
properly punish you for daring
to lay an egg in my presence.
After the Scarecrow is enchanted
you shall follow him into the
palace. But how will you touch
"With my claws," said the hen; "and
I can speak the word 'Ev' as
plainly as anyone. Also I must
have the right to guess the enchantments
of my friends, and to release
them if I succeed."
"Very well," said the King. "You
have my promise."
"Then," said Billina to the
Scarecrow, "you may get the egg."
He knelt down and reached underneath
the throne and found the egg,
which he placed in another pocket
of his jacket, fearing that if
both eggs were in one pocket
they would knock together and
Just then a bell above the
throne rang briskly, and the
King gave another nervous jump.
"Well, well!" said he, with
a rueful face; "the girl has
actually done it."
"Done what?" asked
"She has made
one guess that is right, and
broken one of my
neatest enchantments. By ricketty,
it's too bad! I never thought
she would do it."
"Do I understand that she will
now return to us in safety?" enquired
the Scarecrow, joyfully wrinkling
his painted face into a broad
"Of course," said the King,
fretfully pacing up and down
the room. "I always keep my promises,
no matter how foolish they are.
But I shall make an ornament
of the yellow hen to replace
the one I have just lost."
"Perhaps you will, and perhaps
you won't," murmured Billina,
calmly. "I may surprise you by
"Guessing right?" snapped the
King. "How could you guess right,
where your betters have failed,
you stupid fowl?"
Billina did not care to answer
this question, and a moment later
the doors flew open and Dorothy
entered, leading the little Prince
Evring by the hand.
The Scarecrow welcomed the
girl with a close embrace, and
he would have embraced Evring,
too, in his delight. But the
little Prince was shy, and shrank
away from the painted Scarecrow
because he did not yet know his
many excellent qualities.
But there was little time for
the friends to talk, because
the Scarecrow must now enter
the palace. Dorothy's success
had greatly encouraged him, and
they both hoped he would manage
to make at least one correct
However, he proved as unfortunate
as the others except Dorothy,
and although he took a good deal
of time to select his objects,
not one did the poor Scarecrow
So he became a solid gold card-receiver,
and the beautiful but terrible
palace awaited it's next visitor.
"It's all over," remarked the
King, with a sigh of satisfaction; "and
it has been a very amusing performance,
except for the one good guess
the Kansas girl made. I am richer
by a great many pretty ornaments.
"It is my turn, now," said
"Oh, I'd forgotten you," said
the King. "But you needn't go
if you don't wish to. I will
be generous, and let you off."
"No you won't," replied the
hen. "I insist upon having my
guesses, as you promised."
"Then go ahead, you absurd
feathered fool!" grumbled the
King, and he caused the opening
that led to the palace to appear
"Don't go, Billina," said Dorothy,
earnestly. "It isn't easy to
guess those orn'ments, and only
luck saved me from being one
myself. Stay with me and we'll
go back to the Land of Ev together.
I'm sure this little Prince will
give us a home."
"Indeed I will," said
Evring, with much dignity.
"Don't worry, my dear," cried
Billina, with a cluck that was
meant for a laugh. "I may not
be human, but I'm no fool, if
I AM a chicken."
"Oh, Billina!" said Dorothy, "you
haven't been a chicken in a long
time. Not since you--you've been--grown
"Perhaps that's true," answered
Billina, thoughtfully. "But if
a Kansas farmer sold me to some
one, what would he call me?--a
hen or a chicken!"
"You are not a Kansas farmer,
Billina," replied the girl, "and
that, Dorothy. I'm going. I
won't say good-bye,
because I'm coming back. Keep
up your courage, for I'll see
you a little later."
gave several loud "cluck-clucks" that
seemed to make the fat little
King MORE nervous than ever,
and marched through the entrance
into the enchanted palace.
"I hope I've seen the last
of THAT bird," declared the monarch,
seating himself again in his
throne and mopping the perspiration
from his forehead with his rock-colored
handkerchief. "Hens are bothersome
enough at their best, but when
they can talk they're simply
"Billina's my friend," said
Dorothy quietly. "She may not
always be 'zactly polite; but
she MEANS well, I'm sure."