The Road to Oz HTML version

24. The Birthday Celebration
A clear, perfect day, with a gentle breeze and a sunny sky, greeted Princess Ozma as she
wakened next morning, the anniversary of her birth. While it was yet early all the city
was astir and crowds of people came from all parts of the Land of Oz to witness the
festivities in honor of their girl Ruler's birthday.
The noted visitors from foreign countries, who had all been transported to the Emerald
City by means of the Magic Belt, were as much a show to the Ozites as were their own
familiar celebrities, and the streets leading from the royal palace to the jeweled gates
were thronged with men, women, and children to see the procession as it passed out to
the green fields where the ceremonies were to take place.
And what a great procession it was!
First came a thousand young girls--the prettiest in the land--dressed in white muslin, with
green sashes and hair ribbons, bearing green baskets of red roses. As they walked they
scattered these flowers upon the marble pavements, so that the way was carpeted thick
with roses for the procession to walk upon.
Then came the Rulers of the four Kingdoms of Oz: the Emperor of the Winkies, the
Monarch of the Munchkins, the King of the Quadlings and the Sovereign of the Gillikins,
each wearing a long chain of emeralds around his neck to show that he was a vassal of
the Ruler of the Emerald City.
Next marched the Emerald City Cornet Band, clothed in green-and-gold uniforms and
playing the "Ozma Two-Step." The Royal Army of Oz followed, consisting of twenty-
seven officers, from the Captain-General down to the Lieutenants. There were no privates
in Ozma's Army because soldiers were not needed to fight battles, but only to look
important, and an officer always looks more imposing than a private.
While the people cheered and waved their hats and handkerchiefs, there came walking
the Royal Princess Ozma, looking so pretty and sweet that it is no wonder her people love
her so dearly. She had decided she would not ride in her chariot that day, as she preferred
to walk in the procession with her favored subjects and her guests. Just in front of her
trotted the living Blue Bear Rug owned by old Dyna, which wobbled clumsily on its four
feet because there was nothing but the skin to support them, with a stuffed head at one
end and a stubby tail at the other. But whenever Ozma paused in her walk the Bear Rug
would flop down flat upon the ground for the princess to stand upon until she resumed
her progress.
Following the Princess stalked her two enormous beasts, the Cowardly Lion and the
Hungry Tiger, and even if the Army had not been there these two would have been
powerful enough to guard their mistress from any harm.