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The Road to Oz

23. The Grand Banquet
I wish I could tell you how fine the company was that assembled that evening at Ozma's
royal banquet. A long table was spread in the center of the great dining-hall of the palace
and the splendor of the decorations and the blaze of lights and jewels was acknowledged
to be the most magnificent sight that any of the guests had ever seen.
The jolliest person present, as well as the most important, was of course old Santa Claus;
so he was given the seat of honor at one end of the table while at the other end sat
Princess Ozma, the hostess.
John Dough, Queen Zixi, King Bud, the Queen of Ev and her son Evardo, and the Queen
of Merryland had golden thrones to sit in, while the others were supplied with beautiful
chairs.
At the upper end of the banquet room was a separate table provided for the animals. Toto
sat at one end of this table with a bib tied around his neck and a silver platter to eat from.
At the other end was placed a small stand, with a low rail around the edge of it, for
Billina and her chicks. The rail kept the ten little Dorothys from falling off the stand,
while the Yellow Hen could easily reach over and take her food from her tray upon the
table. At other places sat the Hungry Tiger, the Cowardly Lion, the Saw-Horse, the
Rubber Bear, the Fox King and the Donkey King; they made quite a company of animals.
At the lower end of the great room was another table, at which sat the Ryls and Knooks
who had come with Santa Claus, the wooden soldiers who had come with the Queen of
Merryland, and the Hilanders and Lolanders who had come with John Dough. Here were
also seated the officers of the royal palace and of Ozma's army.
The splendid costumes of those at the three tables made a gorgeous and glittering display
that no one present was ever likely to forget; perhaps there has never been in any part of
the world at any time another assemblage of such wonderful people as that which
gathered this evening to honor the birthday of the Ruler of Oz.
When all members of ethe company were in their places an orchestra of five hundred
pieces, in a balcony overlooking the banquet room, began to play sweet and delightful
music. Then a door draped with royal green opened, and in came the fair and girlish
Princess Ozma, who now greeted her guests in person for the first time.
As she stood by her throne at the head of the banquet table every eye was turned eagerly
upon the lovely Princess, who was as dignified as she was bewitching, and who smiled
upon all her old and new friends in a way that touched their hearts and brought an
answering smile to every face.
Each guest had been served with a crystal goblet filled with lacasa, which is a sort of
nectar famous in Oz and nicer to drink than soda-water or lemonade. Santa now made a
 
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