Tuesday, August 13, 2013
The Characters of Oz — Billina
One night, the coop was washed overboard in a terrible storm. All of the other hens scattered away, but Bill stayed right where she was, and noticed a young girl climb aboard the coop.
Dorothy and Billina washed up on the shores of Ev, where they had many amusing conversations, and Billina found a golden key while digging for bugs and other tiny creatures to eat. When Dorothy found the warning "Beware the Wheelers" in the sand, Billina suggested that they were automobiles. However, when the two did meet a Wheeler, it was Billina who correctly identified it and the two fled for safety, where they discovered Tik-Tok, who helped them reach the city of Evna.
When Princess Langwidere decided to punish Dorothy for refusing to surrender her head, she said she would eventually cook Billina. Billina bluffed that her breed was poison to princess, so she was instead kept to lay eggs. (Langwidere added that if Billina didn't do this, she would be drowned in the horse trough.) After Ozma rescued Dorothy, Dorothy set Billina free.
Billina joined Dorothy and Tik-Tok in going with Ozma and her troops to rescue the Queen of Ev and her children from the Nome King. Along the way, Billina had to stop to lay an egg, which the Scarecrow collected.
Upon arriving in the Nome Kingdom, none of the Nomes seemed to notice Billina, but she paid attention to what was going on. After eating some crumbs, she went to sleep under the Nome King's throne, where she managed to overhear the Nome King tell his Steward what he had transformed the Royal Family and the people from Oz into.
The Scarecrow started to get this egg, but Billina made him refuse to get it unless the Nome King let her guess in the ornament rooms like her friends. He eventually agreed.
Of course, Billina knew what to look for and found and restored everyone (except the Tin Woodman, who they would find on the way back to Evna), but the Nome King was defiant and set his army to attack. Thanks to the Scarecrow hurling Billina's eggs and Billina telling Dorothy to take the Magic Belt, the Nome King was soon subdued and the entire company left the Nome Kingdom.
In The Road to Oz, Billina reveals that she has been hatching chicks, and she names them all Dorothy after Dorothy. In The Emerald City of Oz, she reveals that when her chicks turn out to be roosters instead of hens, she renames them Daniel. All of her brood wear lockets with the letter "D" and Dorothy's picture inside. The people of Oz are welcome to any of the eggs that Billina and her descendants don't care to hatch.
In The Emerald City of Oz, the Nomes had once believed that there were no chickens in the Land of Oz, but the Nome King says that a goshawk told him of Billina and her brood. However, in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, we are told of a rooster and a hen in the Emerald City who just laid an egg. What became of this pair? Did Billina's key role in Ozma of Oz make people forget about them?
Another curious thing: anyone who knows about chickens knows that a hen cannot hatch eggs without being fertilized by a rooster. We are never told of a rooster in Billina's life. Did she somehow just start reproducing asexually? Or is that rooster from Wonderful Wizard getting around?