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Free Download "Little Wizard Stories of Oz" by L.Frank Baum

The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger 15

Little Dorothy and Toto 39

Tiktok and the Nome King 63

Ozma and the Little Wizard 87

Jack Pumpkinhead and the Sawhorse 111

The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman 135


THE COWARDLY LION AND THE HUNGRY TIGERIn the splendid palace of the Emerald City, which is in the center of
the fairy Land of Oz, is a great Throne Room, where Princess Ozma, the
Ruler, for an hour each day sits in a throne of glistening emeralds and
listens to all the troubles of her people, which they are sure to tell
her about. Around Ozma's throne, on such occasions, are grouped all
the important personages of Oz, such as the Scarecrow, Jack Pumpkinhead,
Tiktok the Clockwork Man, the Tin Woodman, the Wizard of Oz, the Shaggy
Man and other famous fairy people. Little Dorothy usually has a seat at
Ozma's feet, and crouched on either side the throne are two enormous
beasts known as the Hungry Tiger and the Cowardly Lion.



These two beasts are Ozma's chief guardians, but as everyone loves the
beautiful girl Princess there has never been any disturbance in the
great Throne Room, or anything for the guardians to do but look fierce
and solemn and keep quiet until the Royal Audience is over and the
people go away to their homes.

Of course no one would dare be naughty while the huge Lion and Tiger
crouched beside the throne; but the fact is, the people of Oz are very
seldom naughty. So Ozma's big guards are more ornamental than useful,
and no one realizes that better than the beasts themselves.

One day, after everybody had left the Throne Room except the Cowardly
Lion and the Hungry Tiger, the Lion yawned and said to his friend:

"I'm getting tired of this job. No one is afraid of us and no one pays
any attention to us."

"That is true," replied the big Tiger, purring softly. "We might as well
be in the thick jungles where we were born, as trying to protect Ozma
when she needs no protection. And I'm dreadfully hungry all the time."

"You have enough to eat, I'm sure," said the Lion, swaying his tail
slowly back and forth.

"Enough, perhaps; but not the kind of food I long for," answered the
Tiger. "What I'm hungry for is fat babies. I have a great desire to eat
a few fat babies. Then, perhaps, the people of Oz would fear me and I'd
become more important."



"True," agreed the Lion. "It would stir up quite a rumpus if you ate but
_one_ fat baby. As for myself; my claws are sharp as needles and strong
as crowbars, while my teeth are powerful enough to tear a person to
pieces in a few seconds. If I should spring upon a man and make chop
suey of him, there would be wild excitement in the Emerald City and the
people would fall upon their knees and beg me for mercy. That, in my
opinion, would render me of considerable importance."

"After you had torn the person to pieces, what would you do next?" asked
the Tiger sleepily.

"Then I would roar so loudly it would shake the earth and stalk away to
the jungle to hide myself, before anyone could attack me or kill me for
what I had done."

"I see," nodded the Tiger. "You are really cowardly."

"To be sure. That is why I am named the Cowardly Lion. That is why I
have always been so tame and peaceable. But I'm awfully tired of being
tame," added the Lion, with a sigh, "and it would be fun to raise a row
and show people what a terrible beast I really am."

The Tiger remained silent for several minutes, thinking deeply as he
slowly washed his face with his left paw. Then he said:

"I'm getting old, and it would please me to eat at least one fat baby
before I die. Suppose we surprise these people of Oz and prove our
power. What do you say? We will walk out of here just as usual and the
first baby we meet I'll eat in a jiffy, and the first man or woman you
meet you will tear to pieces. Then we will both run out of the city
gates and gallop across the country and hide in the jungle before anyone
can stop us."

"All right; I'm game," said the Lion, yawning again so that he showed
two rows of dreadfully sharp teeth.

The Tiger got up and stretched his great, sleek body.

"Come on," he said. The Lion stood up and proved he was the larger of
the two, for he was almost as big as a small horse.

Out of the palace they walked, and met no one. They passed through the
beautiful grounds, past fountains and beds of lovely flowers, and met no
one. Then they unlatched a gate and entered a street of the city, and
met no one.

"I wonder how a fat baby will taste," remarked the Tiger, as they
stalked majestically along, side by side.

"I imagine it will taste like nutmegs," said the Lion.

"No," said the Tiger, "I've an idea it will taste like gumdrops."

They turned a corner, but met no one, for the people of the Emerald City
were accustomed to take their naps at this hour of the afternoon.

"I wonder how many pieces I ought to tear a person into," said the Lion,
in a thoughtful voice.

"Sixty would be about right," suggested the Tiger.



"Would that hurt any more than to tear one into about a dozen pieces?"
inquired the Lion, with a little shudder.

"Who cares whether it hurts or not?" growled the Tiger.

The Lion did not reply. They entered a side street, but met no one.

Suddenly they heard a child crying.

"Aha!" exclaimed the Tiger. "There is my meat."

He rushed around a corner, the Lion following, and came upon a nice fat
baby sitting in the middle of the street and crying as if in great
distress.

"What's the matter?" asked the Tiger, crouching before the baby.

"I--I--I-lost my m-m-mamma!" wailed the baby.

"Why, you poor little thing," said the great beast, softly stroking the
child's head with its paw. "Don't cry, my dear, for mamma can't be far
away and I'll help you to find her."

"Go on," said the Lion, who stood by.

"Go on where?" asked the Tiger, looking up.

"Go on and eat your fat baby."

"Why, you dreadful creature!" said the Tiger reproachfully; "would you
want me to eat a poor little lost baby, that doesn't know where its
mother is?" And the beast gathered the little one into its strong, hairy
arms and tried to comfort it by rocking it gently back and forth.



The Lion growled low in his throat and seemed very much disappointed;
but at that moment a scream reached their ears and a woman came bounding
out of a house and into the street. Seeing her baby in the embrace of
the monster Tiger the woman screamed again and rushed forward to rescue
it, but in her haste she caught her foot in her skirt and tumbled head
over heels and heels over head, stopping with such a bump that she saw
many stars in the heavens, although it was broad daylight. And there she
lay, in a helpless manner, all tangled up and unable to stir.

With one bound and a roar like thunder the huge Lion was beside her.
With his strong jaws he grasped her dress and raised her into an upright
position.



[Illustration]

"Poor thing! Are you hurt?" he gently asked.

Gasping for breath the woman struggled to free herself and tried to
walk, but she limped badly and tumbled down again.

"My baby!" she said pleadingly.

"The baby is all right; don't worry," replied the Lion; and then he
added: "Keep quiet, now, and I'll carry you back to your house, and the
Hungry Tiger will carry your baby."

The Tiger, who had approached the place with the child in its arms,
asked in astonishment:

"Aren't you going to tear her into sixty pieces?"



"No, nor into six pieces," answered the Lion indignantly. "I'm not
such a brute as to destroy a poor woman who has hurt herself trying to
save her lost baby. If you are so ferocious and cruel and bloodthirsty,
you may leave me and go away, for I do not care to associate with you."

"That's all right," answered the Tiger. "I'm not cruel--not in the
least--I'm only hungry. But I thought _you_ were cruel."

"Thank heaven I'm respectable," said the Lion, with dignity. He then
raised the woman and with much gentleness carried her into her house,
where he laid her upon a sofa. The Tiger followed with the baby, which
he safely deposited beside its mother. The little one liked the Hungry
Tiger and grasping the enormous beast by both ears the baby kissed the
beast's nose to show he was grateful and happy.

"Thank you very much," said the woman. "I've often heard what good
beasts you are, in spite of your power to do mischief to mankind, and
now I know that the stories are true. I do not think either of you have
ever had an evil thought."

The Hungry Tiger and the Cowardly Lion hung their heads and did not look
into each other's eyes, for both were shamed and humbled. They crept
away and stalked back through the streets until they again entered the
palace grounds, where they retreated to the pretty, comfortable rooms
they occupied at the back of the palace. There they silently crouched in
their usual corners to think over their adventure.

[Illustration]

After a while the Tiger said sleepily:

"I don't believe fat babies taste like gumdrops. I'm quite sure they
have the flavor of raspberry tarts. My, how hungry I am for fat babies!"

The Lion grunted disdainfully.

"You're a humbug," said he.

"Am I?" retorted the Tiger, with a sneer. "Tell me, then, into how many
pieces you usually tear your victims, my bold Lion?"

The Lion impatiently thumped the floor with his tail.

"To tear anyone into pieces would soil my claws and blunt my teeth," he
said. "I'm glad I didn't muss myself up this afternoon by hurting that
poor mother."

The Tiger looked at him steadily and then yawned a wide, wide yawn.

"You're a coward," he remarked.

"Well," said the Lion, "it's better to be a coward than to do wrong."

"To be sure," answered the other. "And that reminds me that I nearly
lost my own reputation. For, had I eaten that fat baby I would not now
be the Hungry Tiger. It's better to go hungry, seems to me, than to be
cruel to a little child."

And then they dropped their heads on their paws and went to sleep.