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15. Billina Frightens the Nome King
Now when Dorothy had entered the palace to make her guesses and the Scarecrow was left with the Nome King, the two sat in moody silence for several minutes. Then the monarch exclaimed, in a tone of satisfaction:
"Who is very good?" asked the Scarecrow.
"The machine man. He won't need to be wound up any more, for he has now become a very neat ornament. Very neat, indeed."
"How about Dorothy?" the Scarecrow enquired.
"Oh, she will begin to guess, pretty soon," said the King, cheerfully. "And then she will join my collection, and it will be your turn."
The good Scarecrow was much distressed by the thought that his little friend was about to suffer the fate of Ozma and the rest of their party; but while he sat in gloomy reverie a shrill voice suddenly cried:
"Kut, kut, kut--ka-daw-kutt! Kut, kut, kut--ka-daw-kutt!"
The Nome King nearly jumped off his seat, he was so startled.
"Good gracious! What's that?" he yelled.
"Why, it's Billina," said the Scarecrow.
"What do you mean by making a noise like that?" shouted the King, angrily, as the yellow hen came from under the throne and strutted proudly about the room.
"I've got a right to cackle, I guess," replied Billina. "I've just laid my egg."
"What! Laid an egg! In my throne room! How dare you do such a thing?" asked the King, in a voice of fury.
"I lay eggs wherever I happen to be," said the hen, ruffling her feathers and then shaking them into place.
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