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The Cowardly Lion and
the Hungry Tiger
In the splendid palace of the Emerald City, which is 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 wherewe 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 stopus."
"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...