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16. Purple, Green, and Gold
The yellow hen, stepping high and with an air of vast importance, walked slowly over the rich velvet carpets of the splendid palace, examining everything she met with her sharp little eyes.
Billina had a right to feel important; for she alone shared the Nome King's secret and knew how to tell the objects that were transformations from those that had never been alive. She was very sure that her guesses would be correct, but before she began to make them she was curious to behold all the magnificence of this underground palace, which was perhaps one of the most splendid and beautiful places in any fairyland.
As she went through the rooms she counted the purple ornaments; and although some were small and hidden in queer places, Billina spied them all, and found the entire ten scattered about the various rooms. The green ornaments she did not bother to count, for she thought she could find them all when the time came.
Finally, having made a survey of the entire palace and enjoyed its splendor, the yellow hen returned to one of the rooms where she had noticed a large purple footstool. She placed a claw upon this and said "Ev," and at once the footstool vanished and a lovely lady, tall and slender and most beautifully robed, stood before her.
The lady's eyes were round with astonishment for a moment, for she could not remember her transformation, nor imagine what had restored her to life.
"Good morning, ma'am," said Billina, in her sharp voice. "You're looking quite well, considering your age."
"Who speaks?" demanded the Queen of Ev, drawing herself up proudly.
"Why, my name's Bill, by rights," answered the hen, who was now perched upon the back of a chair; "although Dorothy has put scollops on it and made it Billina. But the name doesn't matter. I've saved you from the Nome King, and you are a slave no longer."
"Then I thank you for the gracious favor," said the Queen, with a graceful courtesy. "But, my children--tell me, I beg of you--where are my children?" and she clasped her hands in anxious entreaty.
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