The Wizard triumphantly placed the platter upon the table in the dining tent and then they all sat down in camp chairs to the feast.
There were several other dishes on the table, all carefully covered, and when the time came to remove these covers they found bread and butter, cakes, cheese, pickles and fruits--including some of the luscious strawberries of Oz.
No one ventured to ask a question as to how these things came there. They contented themselves by eating heartily the good things provided, and Toto and Billina had their full share, you may be sure. After the meal was over, Aunt Em whispered to Dorothy:
"That may have been magic food, my dear, and for that reason perhaps it won't be very nourishing; but I'm willing to say it tasted as good as anything I ever et." Then she added, in a louder voice: "Who's going to do the dishes?"
"No one, madam," answered the Wizard. "The dishes have 'done' themselves."
"La sakes!" ejaculated the good lady, holding up her hands in amazement. For, sure enough, when she looked at the dishes they had a moment before left upon the table, she found them all washed and dried and piled up into neat stacks.
15. How Dorothy Happened to Get Lost
It was a beautiful evening, so they drew their camp chairs in a circle before one of the tents and began to tell stories to amuse themselves and pass away the time before they went to bed.
Pretty soon a zebra was seen coming out of the forest, and he trotted straight up to them and said politely:
"Good evening, people."
The zebra was a sleek little animal and had a slender head, a stubby mane and a paint-brush tail--very like a donkey's. His neatly shaped white body was covered with regular bars of dark brown, and his hoofs were delicate as those of a deer.
"Good evening, friend Zebra," said Omby Amby, in reply to the creature's greeting. "Can we do anything for you?"
"Yes," answered the zebra. "I should like you to settle a dispute that has long been a bother to me, as to whether there is more water or land in the world."
"Who are you disputing with?" asked the Wizard.
"With a soft-shell crab," said the zebra. "He lives in a pool where I go to drink every day, and he is a very impertinent crab, I assure you. I have told him many times that the land is much greater in extent than the water, but he will not be convinced. Even this very evening, when I told him he was an insignificant creature who lived in a small pool, he asserted that the water was greater and more important than the land. So, seeing your camp, I decided to ask you to settle the dispute for once and all, that I may not be further annoyed by this ignorant crab."
When they had listened to this explanation Dorothy inquired:
"Where is the soft-shell crab?"
"Not far away," replied the zebra. "If you will agree to judge between us I will run and get him."
"Run along, then," said the little girl.
So the animal pranced into the forest and soon came trotting back to them. When he drew near they found a soft-shell crab clinging fast to the stiff hair of the zebra's head, where it held on by one claw.
"Now then, Mr. Crab," said the zebra, "here are the people I told you about; and they know more than you do, who lives in a pool, and more than I do, who lives in a forest. For they have been travelers all over the world, and know every part of it."
"There is more of the world than Oz," declared the crab, in a stubborn voice.
"That is true," said Dorothy; "but I used to live in Kansas, in the United States, and I've been to California and to Australia and so has Uncle Henry."
"For my part," added the Shaggy Man, "I've been to Mexico and Boston and many other foreign countries."
"And I," said the Wizard, "have been to Europe and Ireland."
"So you see," continued the zebra, addressing the crab, "here are people of real consequence, who know what they are talking about."
"Then they know there's more water in the world than there is land," asserted the crab, in a shrill, petulant voice.