Here he comes, and you may examine him for yourselves."
They heard a low rumble and a shrill squeaking sound, and going out to the front of the house, they saw coming around the corner a car drawn by a gorgeous jeweled dragon, which moved its head to right and left and flashed its eyes like headlights of an automobile and uttered a growling noise as it slowly moved toward them. When it stopped before the High Coco-Lorum's house, Toto barked sharply at the sprawling beast, but even tiny Trot could see that the dragon was not alive. Its scales were of gold, and each one was set with sparkling jewels, while it walked in such a stiff, regular manner that it could be nothing else than a machine. The chariot that trailed behind it was likewise of gold and jewels, and when they entered it, they found there were no seats. Everyone was supposed to stand up while riding. The charioteer was a little, diamond-headed fellow who straddled the neck of the dragon and moved the levers that made it go.
"This," said the High Coco-Lorum pompously, "is a wonderful invention. We are all very proud of our auto-dragons, many of which are in use by our wealthy inhabitants. Start the thing going, charioteer!"
The charioteer did not move.
"You forgot to order him in music," suggested Dorothy.
"Ah, so I did."
He touched a button and a music box in the dragon's head began to play a tune. At once the little charioteer pulled over a lever, and the dragon began to move, very slowly and groaning dismally as it drew the clumsy chariot after it. Toto trotted between the wheels. The Sawhorse, the Mule, the Lion and the Woozy followed after and had no trouble in keeping up with the machine. Indeed, they had to go slow to keep from running into it. When the wheels turned, another music box concealed somewhere under the chariot played a lively march tune which was in striking contrast with the dragging movement of the strange vehicle, and Button-Bright decided that the music he had heard when they first sighted this city was nothing else than a chariot plodding its weary way through the streets.
All the travelers from the Emerald City thought this ride the most uninteresting and dreary they had ever experienced, but the High Coco-Lorum seemed to think it was grand. He pointed out the different buildings and parks and fountains in much the same way that the conductor does on an American "sightseeing wagon" does, and being guests they were obliged to submit to the ordeal. But they became a little worried when their host told them he had ordered a banquet prepared for them in the City Hall. "What are we going to eat?"asked Button-Bright suspiciously.
"Thistles," was the reply. "Fine, fresh thistles, gathered this very day."
Scraps laughed, for she never ate anything, but Dorothy said in a protesting voice, "OUR insides are not lined with gold, you know."
"How sad!"exclaimed the High Coco-Lorum, and then he added as an afterthought, "but we can have the thistles boiled, if you prefer."
I'm 'fraid they wouldn't taste good even then," said little Trot. "Haven't you anything else to eat?"
The High Coco-Lorum shook his diamond-shaped head.
"Nothing that I know of," said he. "But why should we have anything else when we have so many thistles? However, if you can't eat what we eat, don't eat anything. We shall not be offended, and the banquet will be just as merry and delightful."
Knowing his companions were all hungry, the Wizard said, "I trust you will excuse us from the banquet, sir, which will be merry enough without us, although it is given in our honor. For, as Ozma is not in your city, we must leave here at once and seek her elsewhere."
"Sure we must!" Dorothy, and she whispered to Betsy and Trot, "I'd rather starve somewhere else than in this city, and who knows, we may run across somebody who eats reg'lar food and will give us some."
So when the ride was finished, in spite of the protests of the High Coco-Lorum, they insisted on continuing their journey.