Full text for Tik-Tok of Oz
To Louis F. Gottschalk, whose sweet and dainty melodies breathe the true spirit of fairyland, this book is affectionately dedicated
To My Readers
The very marked success of my last year's fairy book, "The PatchworkGirl of Oz," convinces me that my readers like the Oz stories "best ofall," as one little girl wrote me. So here, my dears, is a new Oz storyin which is introduced Ann Soforth, the Queen of Oogaboo, whom Tik-Tokassisted in conquering our old acquaintance, the Nome King. It alsotells of Betsy Bobbin and how, after many adventures, she finallyreached the marvelous Land of Oz.
There is a play called "The Tik-Tok Man of Oz," but it is not like thisstory of "Tik-Tok of Oz," although some of the adventures recorded inthis book, as well as those in several other Oz books, are included inthe play. Those who have seen the play and those who have read theother Oz books will find in this story a lot of strange characters andadventures that they have never heard of before.
In the letters I receive from children there has been an urgent appealfor me to write a story that will take Trot and Cap'n Bill to the Landof Oz, where they will meet Dorothy and Ozma. Also they thinkButton-Bright ought to get acquainted with Ojo the Lucky. As you know,I am obliged to talk these matters over with Dorothy by means of the"wireless," for that is the only way I can communicate with the Land ofOz. When I asked her about this idea, she replied: "Why, haven't youheard?" I said "No." "Well," came the message over the wireless, "I'lltell you all about it, by and by, and then you can make a book of thatstory for the children to read."
So, if Dorothy keeps her word and I am permitted to write another Ozbook, you will probably discover how all these characters came togetherin the famous Emerald City. Meantime, I want to tell all my littlefriends--whose numbers are increasing by many thousands everyyear--that I am very grateful for the favor they have shown my booksand for the delightful little letters I am constantly receiving. I amalmost sure that I have as many friends among the children of Americaas any story writer alive; and this, of course, makes me very proud andhappy.
L. Frank Baum.
"OZCOT" at HOLLYWOOD in CALIFORNIA, 1914.
LIST OF CHAPTERS
1 - Ann's Army 2 - Out of Oogaboo 3 - Magic Mystifies the Marchers 4 - Betsy Braves the Bellows 5 - The Roses Repulse the Refugees 6 - Shaggy Seeks His Stray Brother 7 - Polychrome's Pitiful Plight 8 - Tik-Tok Tackles a Tough Task 9 - Ruggedo's Rage is Rash and Reckless 10 - A Terrible Tumble Through a Tube 11 - The Famous Fellowship of Fairies 12 - The Lovely Lady of Light 13 - The Jinjin's Just Judgment 14 - The Long-Eared Hearer Learns by Listening 15 - The Dragon Defies Danger 16 - The Naughty Nome 17 - A Tragic Transformation 18 - A Clever Conquest 19 - King Kaliko 20 - Quox Quietly Quits 21 - A Bashful Brother 22 - Kindly Kisses 23 - Ruggedo Reforms 24 - Dorothy is Delighted 25 - The Land of Love
TIK-TOK of OZ
"I won't!" cried Ann; "I won't sweep the floor. It is beneath mydignity."
"Some one must sweep it," replied Ann's younger sister, Salye; "else weshall soon be wading in dust. And you are the eldest, and the head ofthe family."
"I'm Queen of Oogaboo," said Ann, proudly. "But," she added with asigh, "my kingdom is the smallest and the poorest in all the Land ofOz."
This was quite true. Away up in the mountains, in a far corner of thebeautiful fairyland of Oz, lies a small valley which is named Oogaboo,and in this valley lived a few people who were usually happy andcontented and never cared to wander over the mountain pass into themore settled parts of the land. They knew that all of Oz, includingtheir own territory, was ruled by a beautiful Princess named Ozma, wholived in the splendid Emerald City; yet the simple folk of Oogaboonever visited Ozma. They had a royal family of their own--notespecially to rule over them, but just as a matter of pride. Ozmapermitted the various parts of her country to have their Kings andQueens and Emperors and the like, but all were ruled over by the lovelygirl Queen of the Emerald City.
The King of Oogaboo used to be a man named Jol Jemkiph Soforth, who formany years did all the drudgery of deciding disputes and telling hispeople when to plant cabbages and pickle onions. But the King's wifehad a sharp tongue and small respect for the King, her husband;therefore one night King Jol crept over the pass into the Land of Ozand disappeared from Oogaboo for good and all. The Queen waited a fewyears for him to return and then started in search of him, leaving hereldest daughter, Ann Soforth, to act as Queen.
Now, Ann had not forgotten when her birthday came, for that meant aparty and feasting and dancing, but she had quite forgotten how manyyears the birthdays marked. In a land where people live always, this isnot considered a cause for regret, so we may justly say that Queen Annof Oogaboo was old enough to make jelly--and let it go at that.
But she didn't make jelly, or do any more of the housework than shecould help. She was an ambitious woman and constantly resented the factthat her kingdom was so tiny and her people so stupid andunenterprising. Often she wondered what had become of her father andmother, out beyond the pass, in the wonderful Land of Oz, and the factthat they did not return to Oogaboo led Ann to suspect that they hadfound a better place to live. So, when Salye refused to sweep the floorof the living room in the palace, and Ann would not sweep it, either,she said to her sister:
"I'm going away. This absurd Kingdom of Oogaboo tires me."
"Go, if you want to," answered Salye; "but you are very foolish toleave this place."
"Why?" asked Ann.
"Because in the Land of Oz, which is Ozma's country, you will be anobody, while here you are a Queen."
"Oh, yes! Queen over eighteen men, twenty-seven women and forty-fourchildren!" returned Ann bitterly.
"Well, there are certainly more people than that in the great Land ofOz," laughed Salye. "Why don't you raise an army and conquer them, andbe Queen of all Oz?" she asked, trying to taunt Ann and so to angerher. Then she made a face at her sister and went into the back yard toswing in the hammock.
Her jeering words, however, had given Queen Ann an idea. She reflectedthat Oz was reported to be a peaceful country and Ozma a mere girl whoruled with gentleness to all and was obeyed because her people lovedher. Even in Oogaboo the story was told that Ozma's sole army consistedof twenty-seven fine officers, who wore beautiful uniforms but carriedno weapons, because there was no one to fight. Once there had been aprivate soldier, besides the officers, but Ozma had made him aCaptain-General and taken away his gun for fear it might accidentallyhurt some one.
The more Ann thought about the matter the more she was convinced itwould be easy to conquer the Land of Oz and set herself up as Ruler inOzma's place, if she but had an Army to do it with. Afterward she couldgo out into the world and conquer other lands, and then perhaps shecould find a way to the moon, and conquer that. She had a warlikespirit that preferred trouble to idleness.
It all depended on an Army, Ann decided. She carefully counted in hermind all the men of her kingdom. Yes; there were exactly eighteen ofthem, all told. That would not make a very big Army, but by surprisingOzma's unarmed officers her men might easily subdue them. "Gentlepeople are always afraid of those that bluster," Ann told herself. "Idon't wish to shed any blood, for that would shock my nerves and Imight faint; but if we threaten and flash our weapons I am sure thepeople of Oz will fall upon their knees before me and surrender."
This argument, which she repeated to herself more than once, finallydetermined the Queen of Oogaboo to undertake the audacious venture.
"Whatever happens," she reflected, "can make me no more unhappy than mystaying shut up in this miserable valley and sweeping floors andquarreling with Sister Salye; so I will venture all, and win what Imay."
That very day she started out to organize her Army.
The first man she came to was Jo Apple, so called because he had anapple orchard.
"Jo," said Ann, "I am going to conquer the world, and I want you tojoin my Army."
"Don't ask me to do such a fool thing, for I must politely refuse YourMajesty," said Jo Apple.
"I have no intention of asking you. I shall command you, as Queen ofOogaboo, to join," said Ann.
"In that case, I suppose I must obey," the man remarked, in a sadvoice. "But I pray you to consider that I am a very important citizen,and for that reason am entitled to an office of high rank."
"You shall be a General," promised Ann.
"With gold epaulets and a sword?" he asked.
"Of course," said the Queen.
Then she went to the next man, whose name was Jo Bunn, as he owned anorchard where graham-buns and wheat-buns, in great variety, both hotand cold, grew on the trees.
"Jo," said Ann, "I am going to conquer the world, and I command you tojoin my Army."
"Impossible!" he exclaimed. "The bun crop has to be picked."
"Let your wife and children do the picking," said Ann.
"But I'm a man of great importance, Your Majesty," he protested.
"For that reason you shall be one of my Generals, and wear a cocked hatwith gold braid, and curl your mustaches and clank a long sword," shepromised.
So he consented, although sorely against his will, and the Queen walkedon to the next cottage. Here lived Jo Cone, so called because the treesin his orchard bore crops of excellent ice-cream cones.
"Jo," said Ann, "I am going to conquer the world, and you must join myArmy."
"Excuse me, please," said Jo Cone. "I am a bad fighter. My good wifeconquered me years ago, for she can fight better than I. Take her, YourMajesty, instead of me, and I'll bless you for the favor."
"This must be an army of men--fierce, ferocious warriors," declaredAnn, looking sternly upon the mild little man.
"And you will leave my wife here in Oogaboo?" he asked.
"Yes; and make you a General."
"I'll go," said Jo Cone, and Ann went on to the cottage of Jo Clock,who had an orchard of clock-trees. This man at first insisted that hewould not join the army, but Queen Ann's promise to make him a Generalfinally won his consent.
"How many Generals are there in your army?" he asked.
"Four, so far," replied Ann.
"And how big will the army be?" was his next question.
"I intend to make every one of the eighteen men in Oogaboo join it,"she said.
"Then four Generals are enough," announced Jo Clock. "I advise you tomake the rest of them Colonels."
Ann tried to follow his advice. The next four men she visited--who wereJo Plum, Jo Egg, Jo Banjo and Jo Cheese, named after the trees in theirorchards--she made Colonels of her Army; but the fifth one, Jo Nails,said Colonels and Generals were getting to be altogether too common inthe Army of Oogaboo and he preferred to be a Major. So Jo Nails, JoCake, Jo Ham and Jo Stockings were all four made Majors, while the nextfour--Jo Sandwich, Jo Padlocks, Jo Sundae and Jo Buttons--wereappointed Captains of the Army.
But now Queen Ann was in a quandary. There remained but two other menin all Oogaboo, and if she made these two Lieutenants, while there werefour Captains, four Majors, four Colonels and four Generals, there waslikely to be jealousy in her army, and perhaps mutiny and desertions.
One of these men, however, was Jo Candy, and he would not go at all. Nopromises could tempt him, nor could threats move him. He said he mustremain at home to harvest his crop of jackson-balls, lemon-drops,bonbons and chocolate-creams. Also he had large fields of crackerjackand buttered pop corn to be mowed and threshed, and he was determinednot to disappoint the children of Oogaboo by going away to conquer theworld and so let the candy crop spoil.
Finding Jo Candy so obstinate, Queen Ann let him have his own way andcontinued her journey to the house of the eighteenth and last man inOogaboo, who was a young fellow named Jo Files. This Files had twelvetrees which bore steel files of various sorts; but also he had ninebook-trees, on which grew a choice selection of story-books. In caseyou have never seen books growing upon trees, I will explain that thosein Jo Files' orchard were enclosed in broad green husks which, whenfully ripe, turned to a deep red color. Then the books were picked andhusked and were ready to read. If they were picked too soon, thestories were found to be confused and uninteresting and the spellingbad. However, if allowed to ripen perfectly, the stories were finereading and the spelling and grammar excellent.
Files freely gave his books to all who wanted them, but the people ofOogaboo cared little for books and so he had to read most of themhimself, before they spoiled. For, as you probably know, as soon as thebooks were read the words disappeared and the leaves withered andfaded--which is the worst fault of all books which grow upon trees.
When Queen Ann spoke to this young man Files, who was both intelligentand ambitious, he said he thought it would be great fun to conquer theworld. But he called her attention to the fact that he was far superiorto the other men of her army. Therefore, he would not be one of herGenerals or Colonels or Majors or Captains, but claimed the honor ofbeing sole Private.
Ann did not like this idea at all.
"I hate to have a Private Soldier in my army," she said; "they're socommon. I am told that Princess Ozma once had a private soldier, butshe made him her Captain-General, which is good evidence that theprivate was unnecessary."
"Ozma's army doesn't fight," returned Files; "but your army must fightlike fury in order to conquer the world. I have read in my books thatit is always the private soldiers who do the fighting, for no officeris ever brave enough to face the foe. Also, it stands to reason thatyour officers must have some one to command and to issue their ordersto; therefore I'll be the one. I long to slash and slay the enemy andbecome a hero. Then, when we return to Oogaboo, I'll take all themarbles away from the children and melt them up and make a marblestatue of myself for all to look upon and admire."
Ann was much pleased with Private Files. He seemed indeed to be such awarrior as she needed in her enterprise, and her hopes of success tooka sudden bound when Files told her he knew where a gun-tree grew andwould go there at once and pick the ripest and biggest musket the treebore.
Out of Oogaboo
Three days later the Grand Army of Oogaboo assembled in the square infront of the royal palace. The sixteen officers were attired ingorgeous uniforms and carried sharp, glittering swords. The Private hadpicked his gun and, although it was not a very big weapon, Files triedto look fierce and succeeded so well that all his commanding officerswere secretly afraid of him.
The women were there, protesting that Queen Ann Soforth had no right totake their husbands and fathers from them; but Ann commanded them tokeep silent, and that was the hardest order to obey they had everreceived.
The Queen appeared before her Army dressed in an imposing uniform ofgreen, covered with gold braid. She wore a green soldier-cap with apurple plume in it and looked so royal and dignified that everyone inOogaboo except the Army was glad she was going. The Army was sorry shewas not going alone.
"Form ranks!" she cried in her shrill voice.
Salye leaned out of the palace window and laughed.
"I believe your Army can run better than it can fight," she observed.
"Of course," replied General Bunn, proudly. "We're not looking fortrouble, you know, but for plunder. The more plunder and the lessfighting we get, the better we shall like our work."
"For my part," said Files, "I prefer war and carnage to anything. Theonly way to become a hero is to conquer, and the story-books all saythat the easiest way to conquer is to fight."
"That's the idea, my brave man!" agreed Ann. "To fight is to conquerand to conquer is to secure plunder and to secure plunder is to becomea hero. With such noble determination to back me, the world is mine!Good-bye, Salye. When we return we shall be rich and famous. Come,Generals; let us march."
At this the Generals straightened up and threw out their chests. Thenthey swung their glittering swords in rapid circles and cried to theColonels:
Then the Colonels shouted to the Majors: "For-ward March!" and theMajors yelled to the Captains: "For-ward March!" and the Captainsscreamed to the Private:
So Files shouldered his gun and began to march, and all the officersfollowed after him. Queen Ann came last of all, rejoicing in her noblearmy and wondering why she had not decided long ago to conquer theworld.
In this order the procession marched out of Oogaboo and took the narrowmountain pass which led into the lovely Fairyland of Oz.
Magic Mystifies the Marchers
Princess Ozma was all unaware that the Army of Oogaboo, led by theirambitious Queen, was determined to conquer her Kingdom. The beautifulgirl Ruler of Oz was busy with the welfare of her subjects and had notime to think of Ann Soforth and her disloyal plans. But there was onewho constantly guarded the peace and happiness of the Land of Oz andthis was the Official Sorceress of the Kingdom, Glinda the Good.
In her magnificent castle, which stands far north of the Emerald Citywhere Ozma holds her court, Glinda owns a wonderful magic Record Book,in which is printed every event that takes place anywhere, just as soonas it happens.
The smallest things and the biggest things are all recorded in thisbook. If a child stamps its foot in anger, Glinda reads about it; if acity burns down, Glinda finds the fact noted in her book.
The Sorceress always reads her Record Book every day, and so it was sheknew that Ann Soforth, Queen of Oogaboo, had foolishly assembled anarmy of sixteen officers and one private soldier, with which sheintended to invade and conquer the Land of Oz.
There was no danger but that Ozma, supported by the magic arts ofGlinda the Good and the powerful Wizard of Oz--both her firmfriends--could easily defeat a far more imposing army than Ann's; butit would be a shame to have the peace of Oz interrupted by any sort ofquarreling or fighting. So Glinda did not even mention the matter toOzma, or to anyone else. She merely went into a great chamber of hercastle, known as the Magic Room, where she performed a magical ceremonywhich caused the mountain pass that led from Oogaboo to make severalturns and twists. The result was that when Ann and her army came to theend of the pass they were not in the Land of Oz at all, but in anadjoining territory that was quite distinct from Ozma's domain andseparated from Oz by an invisible barrier.
As the Oogaboo people emerged into this country, the pass they hadtraversed disappeared behind them and it was not likely they would everfind their way back into the valley of Oogaboo. They were greatlypuzzled, indeed, by their surroundings and did not know which way togo. None of them had ever visited Oz, so it took them some time todiscover they were not in Oz at all, but in an unknown country.
"Never mind," said Ann, trying to conceal her disappointment; "we havestarted out to conquer the world, and here is part of it. In time, aswe pursue our victorious journey, we will doubtless come to Oz; but,until we get there, we may as well conquer whatever land we findourselves in."
"Have we conquered this place, Your Majesty?" anxiously inquired MajorCake.
"Most certainly," said Ann. "We have met no people, as yet, but when wedo, we will inform them that they are our slaves."
"And afterward we will plunder them of all their possessions," addedGeneral Apple.
"They may not possess anything," objected Private Files; "but I hopethey will fight us, just the same. A peaceful conquest wouldn't be anyfun at all."
"Don't worry," said the Queen. "We can fight, whether our foes do ornot; and perhaps we would find it more comfortable to have the enemysurrender promptly."
It was a barren country and not very pleasant to travel in. Moreover,there was little for them to eat, and as the officers became hungrythey became fretful. Many would have deserted had they been able tofind their way home, but as the Oogaboo people were now hopelessly lostin a strange country they considered it more safe to keep together thanto separate.
Queen Ann's temper, never very agreeable, became sharp and irritable asshe and her army tramped over the rocky roads without encounteringeither people or plunder. She scolded her officers until they becamesurly, and a few of them were disloyal enough to ask her to hold hertongue. Others began to reproach her for leading them into difficultiesand in the space of three unhappy days every man was mourning for hisorchard in the pretty valley of Oogaboo.
Files, however, proved a different sort. The more difficulties heencountered the more cheerful he became, and the sighs of the officerswere answered by the merry whistle of the Private. His pleasantdisposition did much to encourage Queen Ann and before long sheconsulted the Private Soldier more often than she did his superiors.
It was on the third day of their pilgrimage that they encountered theirfirst adventure. Toward evening the sky was suddenly darkened and MajorNails exclaimed:
"A fog is coming toward us."
"I do not think it is a fog," replied Files, looking with interest atthe approaching cloud. "It seems to me more like the breath of a Rak."
"What is a Rak?" asked Ann, looking about fearfully.
"A terrible beast with a horrible appetite," answered the soldier,growing a little paler than usual. "I have never seen a Rak, to besure, but I have read of them in the story-books that grew in myorchard, and if this is indeed one of those fearful monsters, we arenot likely to conquer the world."
Hearing this, the officers became quite worried and gathered closerabout their soldier.
"What is the thing like?" asked one.
"The only picture of a Rak that I ever saw in a book was ratherblurred," said Files, "because the book was not quite ripe when it waspicked. But the creature can fly in the air and run like a deer andswim like a fish. Inside its body is a glowing furnace of fire, and theRak breathes in air and breathes out smoke, which darkens the sky formiles around, wherever it goes. It is bigger than a hundred men andfeeds on any living thing."
The officers now began to groan and to tremble, but Files tried tocheer them, saying:
"It may not be a Rak, after all, that we see approaching us, and youmust not forget that we people of Oogaboo, which is part of thefairyland of Oz, cannot be killed."
"Nevertheless," said Captain Buttons, "if the Rak catches us, and chewsus up into small pieces, and swallows us--what will happen then?"
"Then each small piece will still be alive," declared Files.
"I cannot see how that would help us," wailed Colonel Banjo. "Ahamburger steak is a hamburger steak, whether it is alive or not!"
"I tell you, this may not be a Rak," persisted Files. "We will know,when the cloud gets nearer, whether it is the breath of a Rak or not.If it has no smell at all, it is probably a fog; but if it has an odorof salt and pepper, it is a Rak and we must prepare for a desperatefight."
They all eyed the dark cloud fearfully. Before long it reached thefrightened group and began to envelop them. Every nose sniffed thecloud--and every one detected in it the odor of salt and pepper.
"The Rak!" shouted Private Files, and with a howl of despair thesixteen officers fell to the ground, writhing and moaning in anguish.Queen Ann sat down upon a rock and faced the cloud more bravely,although her heart was beating fast. As for Files, he calmly loaded hisgun and stood ready to fight the foe, as a soldier should.
They were now in absolute darkness, for the cloud which covered the skyand the setting sun was black as ink. Then through the gloom appearedtwo round, glowing balls of red, and Files at once decided these mustbe the monster's eyes.
He raised his gun, took aim and fired.
There were several bullets in the gun, all gathered from an excellentbullet-tree in Oogaboo, and they were big and hard. They flew towardthe monster and struck it, and with a wild, weird cry the Rak camefluttering down and its huge body fell plump upon the forms of thesixteen officers, who thereupon screamed louder than before.
"Badness me!" moaned the Rak. "See what you've done with that dangerousgun of yours!"
"I can't see," replied Files, "for the cloud formed by your breathdarkens my sight!"
"Don't tell me it was an accident," continued the Rak, reproachfully,as it still flapped its wings in a helpless manner. "Don't claim youdidn't know the gun was loaded, I beg of you!"
"I don't intend to," replied Files. "Did the bullets hurt you verybadly?"
"One has broken my jaw, so that I can't open my mouth. You will noticethat my voice sounds rather harsh and husky, because I have to talkwith my teeth set close together. Another bullet broke my left wing, sothat I can't fly; and still another broke my right leg, so that I can'twalk. It was the most careless shot I ever heard of!"
"Can't you manage to lift your body off from my commanding officers?"inquired Files. "From their cries I'm afraid your great weight iscrushing them."
"I hope it is," growled the Rak. "I want to crush them, if possible,for I have a bad disposition. If only I could open my mouth, I'd eatall of you, although my appetite is poorly this warm weather."
With this the Rak began to roll its immense body sidewise, so as tocrush the officers more easily; but in doing this it rolled completelyoff from them and the entire sixteen scrambled to their feet and madeoff as fast as they could run.
Private Files could not see them go but he knew from the sound of theirvoices that they had escaped, so he ceased to worry about them.
"Pardon me if I now bid you good-bye," he said to the Rak. "The partingis caused by our desire to continue our journey. If you die, do notblame me, for I was obliged to shoot you as a matter ofself-protection."
"I shall not die," answered the monster, "for I bear a charmed life.But I beg you not to leave me!"
"Why not?" asked Files.
"Because my broken jaw will heal in about an hour, and then I shall beable to eat you. My wing will heal in a day and my leg will heal in aweek, when I shall be as well as ever. Having shot me, and so caused meall this annoyance, it is only fair and just that you remain here andallow me to eat you as soon as I can open my jaws."
"I beg to differ with you," returned the soldier firmly. "I have madean engagement with Queen Ann of Oogaboo to help her conquer the world,and I cannot break my word for the sake of being eaten by a Rak."
"Oh; that's different," said the monster. "If you've an engagement,don't let me detain you."
So Files felt around in the dark and grasped the hand of the tremblingQueen, whom he led away from the flapping, sighing Rak. They stumbledover the stones for a way but presently began to see dimly the pathahead of them, as they got farther and farther away from the dreadfulspot where the wounded monster lay. By and by they reached a littlehill and could see the last rays of the sun flooding a pretty valleybeyond, for now they had passed beyond the cloudy breath of the Rak.Here were huddled the sixteen officers, still frightened and pantingfrom their run. They had halted only because it was impossible for themto run any farther.
Queen Ann gave them a severe scolding for their cowardice, at the sametime praising Files for his courage.
"We are wiser than he, however," muttered General Clock, "for byrunning away we are now able to assist Your Majesty in conquering theworld; whereas, had Files been eaten by the Rak, he would have desertedyour Army."
After a brief rest they descended into the valley, and as soon as theywere out of sight of the Rak the spirits of the entire party rosequickly. Just at dusk they came to a brook, on the banks of which QueenAnn commanded them to make camp for the night.
Each officer carried in his pocket a tiny white tent. This, when placedupon the ground, quickly grew in size until it was large enough topermit the owner to enter it and sleep within its canvas walls. Fileswas obliged to carry a knapsack, in which was not only his own tent butan elaborate pavilion for Queen Ann, besides a bed and chair and amagic table. This table, when set upon the ground in Ann's pavilion,became of large size, and in a drawer of the table was contained theQueen's supply of extra clothing, her manicure and toilet articles andother necessary things. The royal bed was the only one in the camp, theofficers and private sleeping in hammocks attached to their tent poles.
There was also in the knapsack a flag bearing the royal emblem ofOogaboo, and this flag Files flew upon its staff every night, to showthat the country they were in had been conquered by the Queen ofOogaboo. So far, no one but themselves had seen the flag, but Ann waspleased to see it flutter in the breeze and considered herself alreadya famous conqueror.
Betsy Braves the Billows
The waves dashed and the lightning flashed and the thunder rolled andthe ship struck a rock. Betsy Bobbin was running across the deck andthe shock sent her flying through the air until she fell with a splashinto the dark blue water. The same shock caught Hank, a thin little,sad-faced mule, and tumbled him also into the sea, far from the ship'sside.
When Betsy came up, gasping for breath because the wet plunge hadsurprised her, she reached out in the dark and grabbed a bunch of hair.At first she thought it was the end of a rope, but presently she hearda dismal "Hee-haw!" and knew she was holding fast to the end of Hank'stail.
Suddenly the sea was lighted up by a vivid glare. The ship, now in thefar distance, caught fire, blew up and sank beneath the waves.
Betsy shuddered at the sight, but just then her eye caught a mass ofwreckage floating near her and she let go the mule's tail and seizedthe rude raft, pulling herself up so that she rode upon it in safety.Hank also saw the raft and swam to it, but he was so clumsy he neverwould have been able to climb upon it had not Betsy helped him to getaboard.
They had to crowd close together, for their support was only ahatch-cover torn from the ship's deck; but it floated them fairly welland both the girl and the mule knew it would keep them from drowning.
The storm was not over, by any means, when the ship went down. Blindingbolts of lightning shot from cloud to cloud and the clamor of deepthunderclaps echoed far over the sea. The waves tossed the little rafthere and there as a child tosses a rubber ball and Betsy had a solemnfeeling that for hundreds of watery miles in every direction there wasno living thing besides herself and the small donkey.
Perhaps Hank had the same thought, for he gently rubbed his noseagainst the frightened girl and said "Hee-haw!" in his softest voice,as if to comfort her.
"You'll protect me, Hank dear, won't you?" she cried helplessly, andthe mule said "Hee-haw!" again, in tones that meant a promise.
On board the ship, during the days that preceded the wreck, when thesea was calm, Betsy and Hank had become good friends; so, while thegirl might have preferred a more powerful protector in this dreadfulemergency, she felt that the mule would do all in a mule's power toguard her safety.
All night they floated, and when the storm had worn itself out andpassed away with a few distant growls, and the waves had grown smallerand easier to ride, Betsy stretched herself out on the wet raft andfell asleep.
Hank did not sleep a wink. Perhaps he felt it his duty to guard Betsy.Anyhow, he crouched on the raft beside the tired sleeping girl andwatched patiently until the first light of dawn swept over the sea.
The light wakened Betsy Bobbin. She sat up, rubbed her eyes and staredacross the water.
"Oh, Hank; there's land ahead!" she exclaimed.
"Hee-haw!" answered Hank in his plaintive voice.
The raft was floating swiftly toward a very beautiful country and asthey drew near Betsy could see banks of lovely flowers showing brightlybetween leafy trees. But no people were to be seen at all.
The Roses Repulse the Refugees
Gently the raft grated on the sandy beach. Then Betsy easily wadedashore, the mule following closely behind her. The sun was now shiningand the air was warm and laden with the fragrance of roses.
"I'd like some breakfast, Hank," remarked the girl, feeling morecheerful now that she was on dry land; "but we can't eat the flowers,although they do smell mighty good."
"Hee-haw!" replied Hank and trotted up a little pathway to the top ofthe bank.
Betsy followed and from the eminence looked around her. A little wayoff stood a splendid big greenhouse, its thousands of crystal panesglittering in the sunlight.
"There ought to be people somewhere 'round," observed Betsythoughtfully; "gardeners, or somebody. Let's go and see, Hank. I'mgetting hungrier ev'ry minute."
So they walked toward the great greenhouse and came to its entrancewithout meeting with anyone at all. A door stood ajar, so Hank went infirst, thinking if there was any danger he could back out and warn hiscompanion. But Betsy was close at his heels and the moment she enteredwas lost in amazement at the wonderful sight she saw.
The greenhouse was filled with magnificent rosebushes, all growing inbig pots. On the central stem of each bush bloomed a splendid Rose,gorgeously colored and deliciously fragrant, and in the center of eachRose was the face of a lovely girl.
As Betsy and Hank entered, the heads of the Roses were drooping andtheir eyelids were closed in slumber; but the mule was so amazed thathe uttered a loud "Hee-haw!" and at the sound of his harsh voice therose leaves fluttered, the Roses raised their heads and a hundredstartled eyes were instantly fixed upon the intruders.
"I--I beg your pardon!" stammered Betsy, blushing and confused.
"O-o-o-h!" cried the Roses, in a sort of sighing chorus; and one ofthem added: "What a horrid noise!"
"Why, that was only Hank," said Betsy, and as if to prove the truth ofher words the mule uttered another loud "Hee-haw!"
At this all the Roses turned on their stems as far as they were ableand trembled as if some one were shaking their bushes. A dainty MossRose gasped: "Dear me! How dreadfully dreadful!"
"It isn't dreadful at all," said Betsy, somewhat indignant. "When youget used to Hank's voice it will put you to sleep."
The Roses now looked at the mule less fearfully and one of them asked:
"Is that savage beast named Hank?"
"Yes; Hank's my comrade, faithful and true," answered the girl, twiningher arms around the little mule's neck and hugging him tight. "Aren'tyou, Hank?"
Hank could only say in reply: "Hee-haw!" and at his bray the Rosesshivered again.
"Please go away!" begged one. "Can't you see you're frightening us outof a week's growth?"
"Go away!" echoed Betsy. "Why, we've no place to go. We've just beenwrecked."
"Wrecked?" asked the Roses in a surprised chorus.
"Yes; we were on a big ship and the storm came and wrecked it,"explained the girl. "But Hank and I caught hold of a raft and floatedashore to this place, and--we're tired and hungry. What country isthis, please?"
"This is the Rose Kingdom," replied the Moss Rose, haughtily, "and itis devoted to the culture of the rarest and fairest Roses grown."
"I believe it," said Betsy, admiring the pretty blossoms.
"But only Roses are allowed here," continued a delicate Tea Rose,bending her brows in a frown; "therefore you must go away before theRoyal Gardener finds you and casts you back into the sea."
"Oh! Is there a Royal Gardener, then?" inquired Betsy.
"To be sure."
"And is he a Rose, also?"
"Of course not; he's a man--a wonderful man," was the reply.
"Well, I'm not afraid of a man," declared the girl, much relieved, andeven as she spoke the Royal Gardener popped into the greenhouse--aspading fork in one hand and a watering pot in the other.
He was a funny little man, dressed in a rose-colored costume, withribbons at his knees and elbows, and a bunch of ribbons in his hair.His eyes were small and twinkling, his nose sharp and his face puckeredand deeply lined.
"O-ho!" he exclaimed, astonished to find strangers in his greenhouse,and when Hank gave a loud bray the Gardener threw the watering pot overthe mule's head and danced around with his fork, in such agitation thatpresently he fell over the handle of the implement and sprawled at fulllength upon the ground.
Betsy laughed and pulled the watering pot off from Hank's head. Thelittle mule was angry at the treatment he had received and backedtoward the Gardener threateningly.
"Look out for his heels!" called Betsy warningly and the Gardenerscrambled to his feet and hastily hid behind the Roses.
"You are breaking the Law!" he shouted, sticking out his head to glareat the girl and the mule.
"What Law?" asked Betsy.
"The Law of the Rose Kingdom. No strangers are allowed in thesedomains."
"Not when they're shipwrecked?" she inquired.
"The Law doesn't except shipwrecks," replied the Royal Gardener, and hewas about to say more when suddenly there was a crash of glass and aman came tumbling through the roof of the greenhouse and fell plump tothe ground.
Shaggy Seeks his Stray Brother
This sudden arrival was a queer looking man, dressed all in garments soshaggy that Betsy at first thought he must be some animal. But thestranger ended his fall in a sitting position and then the girl saw itwas really a man. He held an apple in his hand, which he had evidentlybeen eating when he fell, and so little was he jarred or flustered bythe accident that he continued to munch this apple as he calmly lookedaround him.
"Good gracious!" exclaimed Betsy, approaching him. "Who are you, andwhere did you come from?"
"Me? Oh, I'm Shaggy Man," said he, taking another bite of the apple."Just dropped in for a short call. Excuse my seeming haste."
"Why, I s'pose you couldn't help the haste," said Betsy.
"No. I climbed an apple tree, outside; branch gave way and--here I am."
As he spoke the Shaggy Man finished his apple, gave the core toHank--who ate it greedily--and then stood up to bow politely to Betsyand the Roses.
The Royal Gardener had been frightened nearly into fits by the crash ofglass and the fall of the shaggy stranger into the bower of Roses, butnow he peeped out from behind a bush and cried in his squeaky voice:
"You're breaking the Law! You're breaking the Law!"
Shaggy stared at him solemnly.
"Is the glass the Law in this country?" he asked.
"Breaking the glass is breaking the Law," squeaked the Gardener,angrily. "Also, to intrude in any part of the Rose Kingdom is breakingthe Law."
"How do you know?" asked Shaggy.
"Why, it's printed in a book," said the Gardener, coming forward andtaking a small book from his pocket. "Page thirteen. Here it is: 'Ifany stranger enters the Rose Kingdom he shall at once be condemned bythe Ruler and put to death.' So you see, strangers," he continuedtriumphantly, "it's death for you all and your time has come!"
But just here Hank interposed. He had been stealthily backing towardthe Royal Gardener, whom he disliked, and now the mule's heels shot outand struck the little man in the middle. He doubled up like the letter"U" and flew out of the door so swiftly--never touching theground--that he was gone before Betsy had time to wink.
But the mule's attack frightened the girl.
"Come," she whispered, approaching the Shaggy Man and taking his hand;"let's go somewhere else. They'll surely kill us if we stay here!"
"Don't worry, my dear," replied Shaggy, patting the child's head. "I'mnot afraid of anything, so long as I have the Love Magnet."
"The Love Magnet! Why, what is that?" asked Betsy.
"It's a charming little enchantment that wins the heart of everyone wholooks upon it," was the reply. "The Love Magnet used to hang over thegateway to the Emerald City, in the Land of Oz; but when I started onthis journey our beloved Ruler, Ozma of Oz, allowed me to take it withme."
"Oh!" cried Betsy, staring hard at him; "are you really from thewonderful Land of Oz?"
"Yes. Ever been there, my dear?"
"No; but I've heard about it. And do you know Princess Ozma?"
"Very well indeed."
"And--and Princess Dorothy?"
"Dorothy's an old chum of mine," declared Shaggy.
"Dear me!" exclaimed Betsy. "And why did you ever leave such abeautiful land as Oz?"
"On an errand," said Shaggy, looking sad and solemn. "I'm trying tofind my dear little brother."
"Oh! Is he lost?" questioned Betsy, feeling very sorry for the poor man.
"Been lost these ten years," replied Shaggy, taking out a handkerchiefand wiping a tear from his eye. "I didn't know it until lately, when Isaw it recorded in the magic Record Book of the Sorceress Glinda, inthe Land of Oz. So now I'm trying to find him."
"Where was he lost?" asked the girl sympathetically.
"Back in Colorado, where I used to live before I went to Oz. Brotherwas a miner, and dug gold out of a mine. One day he went into his mineand never came out. They searched for him, but he was not there.Disappeared entirely," Shaggy ended miserably.
"For goodness sake! What do you s'pose became of him?" she asked.
"There is only one explanation," replied Shaggy, taking another applefrom his pocket and eating it to relieve his misery. "The Nome Kingprobably got him."
"The Nome King! Who is he?"
"Why, he's sometimes called the Metal Monarch, and his name is Ruggedo.Lives in some underground cavern. Claims to own all the metals hiddenin the earth. Don't ask me why."
"Cause I don't know. But this Ruggedo gets wild with anger if anyonedigs gold out of the earth, and my private opinion is that he capturedbrother and carried him off to his underground kingdom. No--don't askme why. I see you're dying to ask me why. But I don't know."
"But--dear me!--in that case you will never find your lost brother!"exclaimed the girl.
"Maybe not; but it's my duty to try," answered Shaggy. "I've wanderedso far without finding him, but that only proves he is not where I'vebeen looking. What I seek now is the hidden passage to the undergroundcavern of the terrible Metal Monarch."
"Well," said Betsy doubtfully, "it strikes me that if you ever manageto get there the Metal Monarch will make you, too, his prisoner."
"Nonsense!" answered Shaggy, carelessly. "You mustn't forget the LoveMagnet."
"What about it?" she asked.
"When the fierce Metal Monarch sees the Love Magnet, he will love medearly and do anything I ask."
"It must be wonderful," said Betsy, with awe.
"It is," the man assured her. "Shall I show it to you?"
"Oh, do!" she cried; so Shaggy searched in his shaggy pocket and drewout a small silver magnet, shaped like a horseshoe.
The moment Betsy saw it she began to like the Shaggy Man better thanbefore. Hank also saw the Magnet and crept up to Shaggy to rub his headlovingly against the man's knee.
But they were interrupted by the Royal Gardener, who stuck his headinto the greenhouse and shouted angrily:
"You are all condemned to death! Your only chance to escape is to leavehere instantly."
This startled little Betsy, but the Shaggy Man merely waved the Magnettoward the Gardener, who, seeing it, rushed forward and threw himselfat Shaggy's feet, murmuring in honeyed words:
"Oh, you lovely, lovely man! How fond I am of you! Every shag andbobtail that decorates you is dear to me--all I have is yours! But forgoodness' sake get out of here before you die the death."
"I'm not going to die," declared Shaggy Man.
"You must. It's the Law," exclaimed the Gardener, beginning to weepreal tears. "It breaks my heart to tell you this bad news, but the Lawsays that all strangers must be condemned by the Ruler to die thedeath."
"No Ruler has condemned us yet," said Betsy.
"Of course not," added Shaggy. "We haven't even seen the Ruler of theRose Kingdom."
"Well, to tell the truth," said the Gardener, in a perplexed tone ofvoice, "we haven't any real Ruler, just now. You see, all our Rulersgrow on bushes in the Royal Gardens, and the last one we had gotmildewed and withered before his time. So we had to plant him, and atthis time there is no one growing on the Royal Bushes who is ripeenough to pick."
"How do you know?" asked Betsy.
"Why, I'm the Royal Gardener. Plenty of royalties are growing, I admit;but just now they are all green. Until one ripens, I am supposed torule the Rose Kingdom myself, and see that its Laws are obeyed.Therefore, much as I love you, Shaggy, I must put you to death."
"Wait a minute," pleaded Betsy. "I'd like to see those Royal Gardensbefore I die."
"So would I," added Shaggy Man. "Take us there, Gardener."
"Oh, I can't do that," objected the Gardener. But Shaggy again showedhim the Love Magnet and after one glance at it the Gardener could nolonger resist.
He led Shaggy, Betsy and Hank to the end of the great greenhouse andcarefully unlocked a small door. Passing through this they came intothe splendid Royal Garden of the Rose Kingdom.
It was all surrounded by a tall hedge and within the enclosure grewseveral enormous rosebushes having thick green leaves of the texture ofvelvet. Upon these bushes grew the members of the Royal Family of theRose Kingdom--men, women and children in all stages of maturity. Theyall seemed to have a light green hue, as if unripe or not fullydeveloped, their flesh and clothing being alike green. They stoodperfectly lifeless upon their branches, which swayed softly in thebreeze, and their wide open eyes stared straight ahead, unseeing andunintelligent.
While examining these curious growing people, Betsy passed behind a bigcentral bush and at once uttered an exclamation of surprise andpleasure. For there, blooming in perfect color and shape, stood a RoyalPrincess, whose beauty was amazing.
"Why, she's ripe!" cried Betsy, pushing aside some of the broad leavesto observe her more clearly.
"Well, perhaps so," admitted the Gardener, who had come to the girl'sside; "but she's a girl, and so we can't use her for a Ruler."
"No, indeed!" came a chorus of soft voices, and looking around Betsydiscovered that all the Roses had followed them from the greenhouse andwere now grouped before the entrance.
"You see," explained the Gardener, "the subjects of Rose Kingdom don'twant a girl Ruler. They want a King."
"A King! We want a King!" repeated the chorus of Roses.
"Isn't she Royal?" inquired Shaggy, admiring the lovely Princess.
"Of course, for she grows on a Royal Bush. This Princess is named Ozga,as she is a distant cousin of Ozma of Oz; and, were she but a man, wewould joyfully hail her as our Ruler."
The Gardener then turned away to talk with his Roses and Betsywhispered to her companion: "Let's pick her, Shaggy."
"All right," said he. "If she's royal, she has the right to rule thisKingdom, and if we pick her she will surely protect us and prevent ourbeing hurt, or driven away."
So Betsy and Shaggy each took an arm of the beautiful Rose Princess anda little twist of her feet set her free of the branch upon which shegrew. Very gracefully she stepped down from the bush to the ground,where she bowed low to Betsy and Shaggy and said in a delightfullysweet voice: "I thank you."
But at the sound of these words the Gardener and the Roses turned anddiscovered that the Princess had been picked, and was now alive. Overevery face flashed an expression of resentment and anger, and one ofthe Roses cried aloud.
"Audacious mortals! What have you done?"
"Picked a Princess for you, that's all," replied Betsy, cheerfully.
"But we won't have her! We want a King!" exclaimed a Jacque Rose, andanother added with a voice of scorn: "No girl shall rule over us!"
The newly-picked Princess looked from one to another of her rebellioussubjects in astonishment. A grieved look came over her exquisitefeatures.
"Have I no welcome here, pretty subjects?" she asked gently. "Have Inot come from my Royal Bush to be your Ruler?"
"You were picked by mortals, without our consent," replied the MossRose, coldly; "so we refuse to allow you to rule us."
"Turn her out, Gardener, with the others!" cried the Tea Rose.
"Just a second, please!" called Shaggy, taking the Love Magnet from hispocket. "I guess this will win their love, Princess. Here--take it inyour hand and let the roses see it."
Princess Ozga took the Magnet and held it poised before the eyes of hersubjects; but the Roses regarded it with calm disdain.
"Why, what's the matter?" demanded Shaggy in surprise. "The Magnetnever failed to work before!"
"I know," said Betsy, nodding her head wisely. "These Roses have nohearts."
"That's it," agreed the Gardener. "They're pretty, and sweet, andalive; but still they are Roses. Their stems have thorns, but nohearts."
The Princess sighed and handed the Magnet to the Shaggy Man.
"What shall I do?" she asked sorrowfully.
"Turn her out, Gardener, with the others!" commanded the Roses. "Wewill have no Ruler until a man-rose--a King--is ripe enough to pick."
"Very well," said the Gardener meekly. "You must excuse me, my dearShaggy, for opposing your wishes, but you and the others, includingOzga, must get out of Rose Kingdom immediately, if not before."
"Don't you love me, Gardy?" asked Shaggy, carelessly displaying theMagnet.
"I do. I dote on thee!" answered the Gardener earnestly; "but no trueman will neglect his duty for the sake of love. My duty is to drive youout, so--out you go!"
With this he seized a garden fork and began jabbing it at thestrangers, in order to force them to leave. Hank the mule was notafraid of the fork and when he got his heels near to the Gardener theman fell back to avoid a kick.
But now the Roses crowded around the outcasts and it was soondiscovered that beneath their draperies of green leaves were many sharpthorns which were more dangerous than Hank's heels. Neither Betsy norOzga nor Shaggy nor the mule cared to brave those thorns and when theypressed away from them they found themselves slowly driven through thegarden door into the greenhouse. From there they were forced out at theentrance and so through the territory of the flower-strewn RoseKingdom, which was not of very great extent.
The Rose Princess was sobbing bitterly; Betsy was indignant and angry;Hank uttered defiant "Hee-haws" and the Shaggy Man whistled softly tohimself.
The boundary of the Rose Kingdom was a deep gulf, but there was adrawbridge in one place and this the Royal Gardener let down until theoutcasts had passed over it. Then he drew it up again and returned withhis Roses to the greenhouse, leaving the four queerly assorted comradesto wander into the bleak and unknown country that lay beyond.
"I don't mind, much," remarked Shaggy, as he led the way over thestony, barren ground. "I've got to search for my long-lost littlebrother, anyhow, so it won't matter where I go."
"Hank and I will help you find your brother," said Betsy in her mostcheerful voice. "I'm so far away from home now that I don't s'pose I'llever find my way back; and, to tell the truth, it's more fun travelingaround and having adventures than sticking at home. Don't you think so,Hank?"
"Hee-haw!" said Hank, and the Shaggy Man thanked them both.
"For my part," said Princess Ozga of Roseland, with a gentle sigh, "Imust remain forever exiled from my Kingdom. So I, too, will be glad tohelp the Shaggy Man find his lost brother."
"That's very kind of you, ma'am," said Shaggy. "But unless I can findthe underground cavern of Ruggedo, the Metal Monarch, I shall neverfind poor brother."
(This King was formerly named "Roquat," but after he drank of the"Waters of Oblivion" he forgot his own name and had to take another.)
"Doesn't anyone know where it is?" inquired Betsy.
"Some one must know, of course," was Shaggy's reply. "But we are notthe ones. The only way to succeed is for us to keep going until we finda person who can direct us to Ruggedo's cavern."
"We may find it ourselves, without any help," suggested Betsy. "Whoknows?"
"No one knows that, except the person who's writing this story," saidShaggy. "But we won't find anything--not even supper--unless we travelon. Here's a path. Let's take it and see where it leads to."
Polychrome's Pitiful Plight
The Rain King got too much water in his basin and spilled some over thebrim. That made it rain in a certain part of the country--a real hardshower, for a time--and sent the Rainbow scampering to the place toshow the gorgeous colors of his glorious bow as soon as the mist ofrain had passed and the sky was clear.
The coming of the Rainbow is always a joyous event to earth folk, yetfew have ever seen it close by. Usually the Rainbow is so far distantthat you can observe its splendid hues but dimly, and that is why weseldom catch sight of the dancing Daughters of the Rainbow.
In the barren country where the rain had just fallen there appeared tobe no human beings at all; but the Rainbow appeared, just the same, anddancing gayly upon its arch were the Rainbow's Daughters, led by thefairylike Polychrome, who is so dainty and beautiful that no girl hasever quite equalled her in loveliness.
Polychrome was in a merry mood and danced down the arch of the bow tothe ground, daring her sisters to follow her. Laughing and gleeful,they also touched the ground with their twinkling feet; but all theDaughters of the Rainbow knew that this was a dangerous pastime, sothey quickly climbed upon their bow again.
All but Polychrome. Though the sweetest and merriest of them all, shewas likewise the most reckless. Moreover, it was an unusual sensationto pat the cold, damp earth with her rosy toes. Before she realized itthe bow had lifted and disappeared in the billowy blue sky, and herewas Polychrome standing helpless upon a rock, her gauzy draperiesfloating about her like brilliant cobwebs and not a soul--fairy ormortal--to help her regain her lost bow!
"Dear me!" she exclaimed, a frown passing across her pretty face, "I'mcaught again. This is the second time my carelessness has left me onearth while my sisters returned to our Sky Palaces. The first time Ienjoyed some pleasant adventures, but this is a lonely, forsakencountry and I shall be very unhappy until my Rainbow comes again and Ican climb aboard. Let me think what is best to be done."
She crouched low upon the flat rock, drew her draperies about her andbowed her head.
It was in this position that Betsy Bobbin spied Polychrome as she camealong the stony path, followed by Hank, the Princess and Shaggy. Atonce the girl ran up to the radiant Daughter of the Rainbow andexclaimed:
"Oh, what a lovely, lovely creature!"
Polychrome raised her golden head. There were tears in her blue eyes.
"I'm the most miserable girl in the whole world!" she sobbed.
The others gathered around her.
"Tell us your troubles, pretty one," urged the Princess.
"I--I've lost my bow!" wailed Polychrome.
"Take me, my dear," said Shaggy Man in a sympathetic tone, thinking shemeant "beau" instead of "bow."
"I don't want you!" cried Polychrome, stamping her foot imperiously; "Iwant my Rainbow."
"Oh; that's different," said Shaggy. "But try to forget it. When I wasyoung I used to cry for the Rainbow myself, but I couldn't have it.Looks as if you couldn't have it, either; so please don't cry."
Polychrome looked at him reproachfully.
"I don't like you," she said.
"No?" replied Shaggy, drawing the Love Magnet from his pocket; "not alittle bit?--just a wee speck of a like?"
"Yes, yes!" said Polychrome, clasping her hands in ecstasy as she gazedat the enchanted talisman; "I love you, Shaggy Man!"
"Of course you do," said he calmly; "but I don't take any credit forit. It's the Love Magnet's powerful charm. But you seem quite alone andfriendless, little Rainbow. Don't you want to join our party until youfind your father and sisters again?"
"Where are you going?" she asked.
"We don't just know that," said Betsy, taking her hand; "but we'retrying to find Shaggy's long-lost brother, who has been captured by theterrible Metal Monarch. Won't you come with us, and help us?"
Polychrome looked from one to another of the queer party of travelersand a bewitching smile suddenly lighted her face.
"A donkey, a mortal maid, a Rose Princess and a Shaggy Man!" sheexclaimed. "Surely you need help, if you intend to face Ruggedo."
"Do you know him, then?" inquired Betsy.
"No, indeed. Ruggedo's caverns are beneath the earth's surface, whereno Rainbow can ever penetrate. But I've heard of the Metal Monarch. Heis also called the Nome King, you know, and he has made trouble for agood many people--mortals and fairies--in his time," said Polychrome.
"Do you fear him, then?" asked the Princess, anxiously.
"No one can harm a Daughter of the Rainbow," said Polychrome proudly."I'm a sky fairy."
"Then," said Betsy, quickly, "you will be able to tell us the way toRuggedo's cavern."
"No," returned Polychrome, shaking her head, "that is one thing Icannot do. But I will gladly go with you and help you search for theplace."
This promise delighted all the wanderers and after the Shaggy Man hadfound the path again they began moving along it in a more happy mood.The Rainbow's Daughter danced lightly over the rocky trail, no longersad, but with her beautiful features wreathed in smiles. Shaggy camenext, walking steadily and now and then supporting the Rose Princess,who followed him. Betsy and Hank brought up the rear, and if she tiredwith walking the girl got upon Hank's back and let the stout littledonkey carry her for a while.
At nightfall they came to some trees that grew beside a tiny brook andhere they made camp and rested until morning. Then away they tramped,finding berries and fruits here and there which satisfied the hunger ofBetsy, Shaggy and Hank, so that they were well content with their lot.
It surprised Betsy to see the Rose Princess partake of their food, forshe considered her a fairy; but when she mentioned this to Polychrome,the Rainbow's Daughter explained that when Ozga was driven out of herRose Kingdom she ceased to be a fairy and would never again be morethan a mere mortal. Polychrome, however, was a fairy wherever shehappened to be, and if she sipped a few dewdrops by moonlight forrefreshment no one ever saw her do it.
As they continued their wandering journey, direction meant very littleto them, for they were hopelessly lost in this strange country. Shaggysaid it would be best to go toward the mountains, as the naturalentrance to Ruggedo's underground cavern was likely to be hidden insome rocky, deserted place; but mountains seemed all around them exceptin the one direction that they had come from, which led to the RoseKingdom and the sea. Therefore it mattered little which way theytraveled.
By and by they espied a faint trail that looked like a path and afterfollowing this for some time they reached a crossroads. Here were manypaths, leading in various directions, and there was a signpost so oldthat there were now no words upon the sign. At one side was an oldwell, with a chain windlass for drawing water, yet there was no houseor other building anywhere in sight.
While the party halted, puzzled which way to proceed, the muleapproached the well and tried to look into it.
"He's thirsty," said Betsy.
"It's a dry well," remarked Shaggy. "Probably there has been no waterin it for many years. But, come; let us decide which way to travel."
No one seemed able to decide that. They sat down in a group and triedto consider which road might be the best to take. Hank, however, couldnot keep away from the well and finally he reared up on his hind legs,got his head over the edge and uttered a loud "Hee-haw!" Betsy watchedher animal friend curiously.
"I wonder if he sees anything down there?" she said.
At this, Shaggy rose and went over to the well to investigate, andBetsy went with him. The Princess and Polychrome, who had become fastfriends, linked arms and sauntered down one of the roads, to find aneasy path.
"Really," said Shaggy, "there does seem to be something at the bottomof this old well."
"Can't we pull it up, and see what it is?" asked the girl.
There was no bucket at the end of the windlass chain, but there was abig hook that at one time was used to hold a bucket. Shaggy let downthis hook, dragged it around on the bottom and then pulled it up. Anold hoopskirt came with it, and Betsy laughed and threw it away. Thething frightened Hank, who had never seen a hoopskirt before, and hekept a good distance away from it.
Several other objects the Shaggy Man captured with the hook and drewup, but none of these was important.
"This well seems to have been the dump for all the old rubbish in thecountry," he said, letting down the hook once more. "I guess I'vecaptured everything now. No--the hook has caught again. Help me, Betsy!Whatever this thing is, it's heavy."
She ran up and helped him turn the windlass and after much effort aconfused mass of copper came in sight.
"Good gracious!" exclaimed Shaggy. "Here is a surprise, indeed!"
"What is it?" inquired Betsy, clinging to the windlass and panting forbreath.
For answer the Shaggy Man grasped the bundle of copper and dumped itupon the ground, free of the well. Then he turned it over with hisfoot, spread it out, and to Betsy's astonishment the thing proved to bea copper man.
"Just as I thought," said Shaggy, looking hard at the object. "Butunless there are two copper men in the world this is the mostastonishing thing I ever came across."
At this moment the Rainbow's Daughter and the Rose Princess approachedthem, and Polychrome said:
"What have you found, Shaggy One?"
"Either an old friend, or a stranger," he replied.
"Oh, here's a sign on his back!" cried Betsy, who had knelt down toexamine the man. "Dear me; how funny! Listen to this."
Then she read the following words, engraved upon the copper plates ofthe man's body:
SMITH & TINKER'S Patent Double-Action, Extra-Responsive, Thought-Creating, Perfect-Talking MECHANICAL MAN Fitted with our Special Clockwork Attachment. Thinks, Speaks, Acts, and Does Everything but Live.
"Isn't he wonderful!" exclaimed the Princess.
"Yes; but here's more," said Betsy, reading from another engraved plate:
DIRECTIONS FOR USING:
For THINKING:--Wind the Clockwork Man under his left arm, (marked No. 1). For SPEAKING:--Wind the Clockwork Man under his right arm, (marked No. 2). For WALKING and ACTION:--Wind Clockwork Man in the middle of his back, (marked No. 3).
N. B.--This Mechanism is guaranteed to work perfectly for a thousand years.
"If he's guaranteed for a thousand years," said Polychrome, "he oughtto work yet."
"Of course," replied Shaggy. "Let's wind him up."
In order to do this they were obliged to set the copper man upon hisfeet, in an upright position, and this was no easy task. He wasinclined to topple over, and had to be propped again and again. Thegirls assisted Shaggy, and at last Tik-Tok seemed to be balanced andstood alone upon his broad feet.
"Yes," said Shaggy, looking at the copper man carefully, "this must be,indeed, my old friend Tik-Tok, whom I left ticking merrily in the Landof Oz. But how he came to this lonely place, and got into that oldwell, is surely a mystery."
"If we wind him, perhaps he will tell us," suggested Betsy. "Here's thekey, hanging to a hook on his back. What part of him shall I wind upfirst?"
"His thoughts, of course," said Polychrome, "for it requires thought tospeak or move intelligently."
So Betsy wound him under his left arm, and at once little flashes oflight began to show in the top of his head, which was proof that he hadbegun to think.
"Now, then," said Shaggy, "wind up his phonograph."
"What's that?" she asked.
"Why, his talking-machine. His thoughts may be interesting, but theydon't tell us anything."
So Betsy wound the copper man under his right arm, and then from theinterior of his copper body came in jerky tones the words: "Ma-nythanks!"
"Hurrah!" cried Shaggy, joyfully, and he slapped Tik-Tok upon the backin such a hearty manner that the copper man lost his balance andtumbled to the ground in a heap. But the clockwork that enabled him tospeak had been wound up and he kept saying: "Pick-me-up! Pick-me-up!Pick-me-up!" until they had again raised him and balanced him upon hisfeet, when he added politely: "Ma-ny thanks!"
"He won't be self-supporting until we wind up his action," remarkedShaggy; so Betsy wound it, as tight as she could--for the key turnedrather hard--and then Tik-Tok lifted his feet, marched around in acircle and ended by stopping before the group and making them all a lowbow.
"How in the world did you happen to be in that well, when I left yousafe in Oz?" inquired Shaggy.
"It is a long sto-ry," replied Tik-Tok, "but I'll tell it in a fewwords. Af-ter you had gone in search of your broth-er, Oz-ma saw youwan-der-ing in strange lands when-ev-er she looked in her mag-icpic-ture, and she also saw your broth-er in the Nome King's cavern; soshe sent me to tell you where to find your broth-er and told me to helpyou if I could. The Sor-cer-ess, Glin-da the Good, trans-port-ed me tothis place in the wink of an eye; but here I met the Nome Kinghim-self--old Rug-ge-do, who is called in these parts the Met-alMon-arch. Rug-ge-do knew what I had come for, and he was so an-gry thathe threw me down the well. Af-ter my works ran down I was help-lessun-til you came a-long and pulled me out a-gain. Ma-ny thanks."
"This is, indeed, good news," said Shaggy. "I suspected that my brotherwas the prisoner of Ruggedo; but now I know it. Tell us, Tik-Tok, howshall we get to the Nome King's underground cavern?"
"The best way is to walk," said Tik-Tok. "We might crawl, or jump, orroll o-ver and o-ver until we get there; but the best way is to walk."
"I know; but which road shall we take?"
"My ma-chin-er-y is-n't made to tell that," replied Tik-Tok.
"There is more than one entrance to the underground cavern," saidPolychrome; "but old Ruggedo has cleverly concealed every opening, sothat earth dwellers can not intrude in his domain. If we find our wayunderground at all, it will be by chance."
"Then," said Betsy, "let us select any road, haphazard, and see whereit leads us."
"That seems sensible," declared the Princess. "It may require a lot oftime for us to find Ruggedo, but we have more time than anything else."
"If you keep me wound up," said Tik-Tok, "I will last a thou-sandyears."
"Then the only question to decide is which way to go," added Shaggy,looking first at one road and then at another.
But while they stood hesitating, a peculiar sound reached their ears--asound like the tramping of many feet.
"What's coming?" cried Betsy; and then she ran to the left-hand roadand glanced along the path. "Why, it's an army!" she exclaimed. "Whatshall we do, hide or run?"
"Stand still," commanded Shaggy. "I'm not afraid of an army. If theyprove to be friendly, they can help us; if they are enemies, I'll showthem the Love Magnet."
Tik-Tok Tackles a Tough Task
While Shaggy and his companions stood huddled in a group at one side,the Army of Oogaboo was approaching along the pathway, the tramp oftheir feet being now and then accompanied by a dismal groan as one ofthe officers stepped on a sharp stone or knocked his funnybone againsthis neighbor's sword-handle.
Then out from among the trees marched Private Files, bearing the bannerof Oogaboo, which fluttered from a long pole. This pole he stuck in theground just in front of the well and then he cried in a loud voice:
"I hereby conquer this territory in the name of Queen Ann Soforth ofOogaboo, and all the inhabitants of the land I proclaim her slaves!"
Some of the officers now stuck their heads out of the bushes and asked:
"Is the coast clear, Private Files?"
"There is no coast here," was the reply, "but all's well."
"I hope there's water in it," said General Cone, mustering courage toadvance to the well; but just then he caught a glimpse of Tik-Tok andShaggy and at once fell upon his knees, trembling and frightened andcried out:
"Mercy, kind enemies! Mercy! Spare us, and we will be your slavesforever!"
The other officers, who had now advanced into the clearing, likewisefell upon their knees and begged for mercy.
Files turned around and, seeing the strangers for the first time,examined them with much curiosity. Then, discovering that three of theparty were girls, he lifted his cap and made a polite bow.
"What's all this?" demanded a harsh voice, as Queen Ann reached theplace and beheld her kneeling army.
"Permit us to introduce ourselves," replied Shaggy, stepping forward."This is Tik-Tok, the Clockwork Man--who works better than some meatpeople. And here is Princess Ozga of Roseland, just now unfortunatelyexiled from her Kingdom of Roses. I next present Polychrome, a skyfairy, who lost her Bow by an accident and can't find her way home. Thesmall girl here is Betsy Bobbin, from some unknown earthly paradisecalled Oklahoma, and with her you see Mr. Hank, a mule with a long tailand a short temper."
"Puh!" said Ann, scornfully; "a pretty lot of vagabonds you are,indeed; all lost or strayed, I suppose, and not worth a Queen'splundering. I'm sorry I've conquered you."
"But you haven't conquered us yet," called Betsy indignantly.
"No," agreed Files, "that is a fact. But if my officers will kindlycommand me to conquer you, I will do so at once, after which we canstop arguing and converse more at our ease."
The officers had by this time risen from their knees and brushed thedust from their trousers. To them the enemy did not look very fierce,so the Generals and Colonels and Majors and Captains gained courage toface them and began strutting in their most haughty manner.
"You must understand," said Ann, "that I am the Queen of Oogaboo, andthis is my invincible Army. We are busy conquering the world, and sinceyou seem to be a part of the world, and are obstructing our journey, itis necessary for us to conquer you--unworthy though you may be of suchhigh honor."
"That's all right," replied Shaggy. "Conquer us as often as you like.We don't mind."
"But we won't be anybody's slaves," added Betsy, positively.
"We'll see about that," retorted the Queen, angrily. "Advance, PrivateFiles, and bind the enemy hand and foot!"
But Private Files looked at pretty Betsy and fascinating Polychrome andthe beautiful Rose Princess and shook his head.
"It would be impolite, and I won't do it," he asserted.
"You must!" cried Ann. "It is your duty to obey orders."
"I haven't received any orders from my officers," objected the Private.
But the Generals now shouted: "Forward, and bind the prisoners!" andthe Colonels and Majors and Captains repeated the command, yelling itas loud as they could.
All this noise annoyed Hank, who had been eyeing the Army of Oogaboowith strong disfavor. The mule now dashed forward and began backingupon the officers and kicking fierce and dangerous heels at them. Theattack was so sudden that the officers scattered like dust in awhirlwind, dropping their swords as they ran and trying to seek refugebehind the trees and bushes.
Betsy laughed joyously at the comical rout of the "noble army," andPolychrome danced with glee. But Ann was furious at this ignoble defeatof her gallant forces by one small mule.
"Private Files, I command you to do your duty!" she cried again, andthen she herself ducked to escape the mule's heels--for Hank made nodistinction in favor of a lady who was an open enemy. Betsy grabbed herchampion by the forelock, however, and so held him fast, and when theofficers saw that the mule was restrained from further attacks theycrept fearfully back and picked up their discarded swords.
"Private Files, seize and bind these prisoners!" screamed the Queen.
"No," said Files, throwing down his gun and removing the knapsack whichwas strapped to his back, "I resign my position as the Army of Oogaboo.I enlisted to fight the enemy and become a hero, but if you want someone to bind harmless girls you will have to hire another Private."
Then he walked over to the others and shook hands with Shaggy andTik-Tok.
"Treason!" shrieked Ann, and all the officers echoed her cry.
"Nonsense," said Files. "I've the right to resign if I want to."
"Indeed you haven't!" retorted the Queen. "If you resign it will breakup my Army, and then I cannot conquer the world." She now turned to theofficers and said: "I must ask you to do me a favor. I know it isundignified in officers to fight, but unless you immediately capturePrivate Files and force him to obey my orders there will be no plunderfor any of us. Also it is likely you will all suffer the pangs ofhunger, and when we meet a powerful foe you are liable to be capturedand made slaves."
The prospect of this awful fate so frightened the officers that theydrew their swords and rushed upon Files, who stood beside Shaggy, in atruly ferocious manner. The next instant, however, they halted andagain fell upon their knees; for there, before them, was the glisteningLove Magnet, held in the hand of the smiling Shaggy Man, and the sightof this magic talisman at once won the heart of every Oogabooite. EvenAnn saw the Love Magnet, and forgetting all enmity and anger threwherself upon Shaggy and embraced him lovingly.
Quite disconcerted by this unexpected effect of the Magnet, Shaggydisengaged himself from the Queen's encircling arms and quickly hid thetalisman in his pocket. The adventurers from Oogaboo were now his firmfriends, and there was no more talk about conquering and binding any ofhis party.
"If you insist on conquering anyone," said Shaggy, "you may march withme to the underground Kingdom of Ruggedo. To conquer the world, as youhave set out to do, you must conquer everyone under its surface as wellas those upon its surface, and no one in all the world needs conqueringso much as Ruggedo."
"Who is he?" asked Ann.
"The Metal Monarch, King of the Nomes."
"Is he rich?" inquired Major Stockings in an anxious voice.
"Of course," answered Shaggy. "He owns all the metal that liesunderground--gold, silver, copper, brass and tin. He has an idea healso owns all the metals above ground, for he says all metal was once apart of his kingdom. So, by conquering the Metal Monarch, you will winall the riches in the world."
"Ah!" exclaimed General Apple, heaving a deep sigh, "that would beplunder worth our while. Let's conquer him, Your Majesty."
The Queen looked reproachfully at Files, who was sitting next to thelovely Princess and whispering in her ear.
"Alas," said Ann, "I have no longer an Army. I have plenty of braveofficers, indeed, but no private soldier for them to command. ThereforeI cannot conquer Ruggedo and win all his wealth."
"Why don't you make one of your officers the Private?" asked Shaggy;but at once every officer began to protest and the Queen of Oogabooshook her head as she replied:
"That is impossible. A private soldier must be a terrible fighter, andmy officers are unable to fight. They are exceptionally brave incommanding others to fight, but could not themselves meet the enemy andconquer."
"Very true, Your Majesty," said Colonel Plum, eagerly. "There are manykinds of bravery and one cannot be expected to possess them all. Imyself am brave as a lion in all ways until it comes to fighting, butthen my nature revolts. Fighting is unkind and liable to be injuriousto others; so, being a gentleman, I never fight."
"Nor I!" shouted each of the other officers.
"You see," said Ann, "how helpless I am. Had not Private Files provedhimself a traitor and a deserter, I would gladly have conquered thisRuggedo; but an Army without a private soldier is like a bee without astinger."
"I am not a traitor, Your Majesty," protested Files. "I resigned in aproper manner, not liking the job. But there are plenty of people totake my place. Why not make Shaggy Man the private soldier?"
"He might be killed," said Ann, looking tenderly at Shaggy, "for he ismortal, and able to die. If anything happened to him, it would break myheart."
"It would hurt me worse than that," declared Shaggy. "You must admit,Your Majesty, that I am commander of this expedition, for it is mybrother we are seeking, rather than plunder. But I and my companionswould like the assistance of your Army, and if you help us to conquerRuggedo and to rescue my brother from captivity we will allow you tokeep all the gold and jewels and other plunder you may find."
This prospect was so tempting that the officers began whisperingtogether and presently Colonel Cheese said: "Your Majesty, by combiningour brains we have just evolved a most brilliant idea. We will make theClockwork Man the private soldier!"
"Who? Me?" asked Tik-Tok. "Not for a sin-gle sec-ond! I can-not fight,and you must not for-get that it was Rug-ge-do who threw me in thewell."
"At that time you had no gun," said Polychrome. "But if you join theArmy of Oogaboo you will carry the gun that Mr. Files used."
"A sol-dier must be a-ble to run as well as to fight," protestedTik-Tok, "and if my works run down, as they of-ten do, I could nei-therrun nor fight."
"I'll keep you wound up, Tik-Tok," promised Betsy.
"Why, it isn't a bad idea," said Shaggy. "Tik-Tok will make an idealsoldier, for nothing can injure him except a sledge hammer. And, sincea private soldier seems to be necessary to this Army, Tik-Tok is theonly one of our party fitted to undertake the job."
"What must I do?" asked Tik-Tok.
"Obey orders," replied Ann. "When the officers command you to doanything, you must do it; that is all."
"And that's enough, too," said Files.
"Do I get a salary?" inquired Tik-Tok.
"You get your share of the plunder," answered the Queen.
"Yes," remarked Files, "one-half of the plunder goes to Queen Ann, theother half is divided among the officers, and the Private gets therest."
"That will be sat-is-fac-tor-y," said Tik-Tok, picking up the gun andexamining it wonderingly, for he had never before seen such a weapon.
Then Ann strapped the knapsack to Tik-Tok's copper back and said: "Nowwe are ready to march to Ruggedo's Kingdom and conquer it. Officers,give the command to march."
"Fall--in!" yelled the Generals, drawing their swords.
"Fall--in!" cried the Colonels, drawing their swords.
"Fall--in!" shouted the Majors, drawing their swords.
"Fall--in!" bawled the Captains, drawing their swords.
Tik-Tok looked at them and then around him in surprise.
"Fall in what? The well?" he asked.
"No," said Queen Ann, "you must fall in marching order."
"Can-not I march without fall-ing in-to it?" asked the Clockwork Man.
"Shoulder your gun and stand ready to march," advised Files; so Tik-Tokheld the gun straight and stood still.
"What next?" he asked.
The Queen turned to Shaggy.
"Which road leads to the Metal Monarch's cavern?"
"We don't know, Your Majesty," was the reply.
"But this is absurd!" said Ann with a frown. "If we can't get toRuggedo, it is certain that we can't conquer him."
"You are right," admitted Shaggy; "but I did not say we could not getto him. We have only to discover the way, and that was the matter wewere considering when you and your magnificent Army arrived here."
"Well, then, get busy and discover it," snapped the Queen.
That was no easy task. They all stood looking from one road to anotherin perplexity. The paths radiated from the little clearing like therays of the midday sun, and each path seemed like all the others.
Files and the Rose Princess, who had by this time become good friends,advanced a little way along one of the roads and found that it wasbordered by pretty wild flowers.
"Why don't you ask the flowers to tell you the way?" he said to hiscompanion.
"The flowers?" returned the Princess, surprised at the question.
"Of course," said Files. "The field-flowers must be second-cousins to aRose Princess, and I believe if you ask them they will tell you."
She looked more closely at the flowers. There were hundreds of whitedaisies, golden buttercups, bluebells and daffodils growing by theroadside, and each flower-head was firmly set upon its slender butstout stem. There were even a few wild roses scattered here and thereand perhaps it was the sight of these that gave the Princess courage toask the important question.
She dropped to her knees, facing the flowers, and extended both herarms pleadingly toward them.
"Tell me, pretty cousins," she said in her sweet, gentle voice, "whichway will lead us to the Kingdom of Ruggedo, the Nome King?"
At once all the stems bent gracefully to the right and the flower headsnodded once--twice--thrice in that direction.
"That's it!" cried Files joyfully. "Now we know the way."
Ozga rose to her feet and looked wonderingly at the field-flowers,which had now resumed their upright position.
"Was it the wind, do you think?" she asked in a low whisper.
"No, indeed," replied Files. "There is not a breath of wind stirring.But these lovely blossoms are indeed your cousins and answered yourquestion at once, as I knew they would."
Ruggedo's Rage is Rash and Reckless
The way taken by the adventurers led up hill and down dale and woundhere and there in a fashion that seemed aimless. But always it drewnearer to a range of low mountains and Files said more than once thathe was certain the entrance to Ruggedo's cavern would be found amongthese rugged hills.
In this he was quite correct. Far underneath the nearest mountain was agorgeous chamber hollowed from the solid rock, the walls and roof ofwhich glittered with thousands of magnificent jewels. Here, on a throneof virgin gold, sat the famous Nome King, dressed in splendid robes andwearing a superb crown cut from a single blood-red ruby.
Ruggedo, the Monarch of all the Metals and Precious Stones of theUnderground World, was a round little man with a flowing white beard, ared face, bright eyes and a scowl that covered all his forehead. Onewould think, to look at him, that he ought to be jolly; one mightthink, considering his enormous wealth, that he ought to be happy; butthis was not the case. The Metal Monarch was surly and cross becausemortals had dug so much treasure out of the earth and kept it aboveground, where all the power of Ruggedo and his nomes was unable torecover it. He hated not only the mortals but also the fairies who liveupon the earth or above it, and instead of being content with theriches he still possessed he was unhappy because he did not own all thegold and jewels in the world.
Ruggedo had been nodding, half asleep, in his chair when suddenly hesat upright, uttered a roar of rage and began pounding upon a huge gongthat stood beside him.
The sound filled the vast cavern and penetrated to many caverns beyond,where countless thousands of nomes were working at their unendingtasks, hammering out gold and silver and other metals, or melting oresin great furnaces, or polishing glittering gems. The nomes trembled atthe sound of the King's gong and whispered fearfully to one anotherthat something unpleasant was sure to happen; but none dared pause inhis task.
The heavy curtains of cloth-of-gold were pushed aside and Kaliko, theKing's High Chamberlain, entered the royal presence.
"What's up, Your Majesty?" he asked, with a wide yawn, for he had justwakened.
"Up?" roared Ruggedo, stamping his foot viciously. "Those foolishmortals are up, that's what! And they want to come down."
"Down here?" inquired Kaliko.
"How do you know?" continued the Chamberlain, yawning again.
"I feel it in my bones," said Ruggedo. "I can always feel it when thosehateful earth-crawlers draw near to my Kingdom. I am positive, Kaliko,that mortals are this very minute on their way here to annoy me--and Ihate mortals more than I do catnip tea!"
"Well, what's to be done?" demanded the nome.
"Look through your spyglass, and see where the invaders are," commandedthe King.
So Kaliko went to a tube in the wall of rock and put his eye to it. Thetube ran from the cavern up to the side of the mountain and turnedseveral curves and corners, but as it was a magic spyglass Kaliko wasable to see through it just as easily as if it had been straight.
"Ho--hum," said he. "I see 'em, Your Majesty."
"What do they look like?" inquired the Monarch.
"That's a hard question to answer, for a queerer assortment ofcreatures I never yet beheld," replied the nome. "However, such acollection of curiosities may prove dangerous. There's a copper man,worked by machinery--"
"Bah! that's only Tik-Tok," said Ruggedo. "I'm not afraid of him. Why,only the other day I met the fellow and threw him down a well."
"Then some one must have pulled him out again," said Kaliko. "Andthere's a little girl--"
"Dorothy?" asked Ruggedo, jumping up in fear.
"No; some other girl. In fact, there are several girls, of varioussizes; but Dorothy is not with them, nor is Ozma."
"That's good!" exclaimed the King, sighing in relief.
Kaliko still had his eye to the spyglass.
"I see," said he, "an army of men from Oogaboo. They are all officersand carry swords. And there is a Shaggy Man--who seems veryharmless--and a little donkey with big ears."
"Pooh!" cried Ruggedo, snapping his fingers in scorn. "I've no fear ofsuch a mob as that. A dozen of my nomes can destroy them all in ajiffy."
"I'm not so sure of that," said Kaliko. "The people of Oogaboo are hardto destroy, and I believe the Rose Princess is a fairy. As forPolychrome, you know very well that the Rainbow's Daughter cannot beinjured by a nome."
"Polychrome! Is she among them?" asked the King.
"Yes; I have just recognized her."
"Then these people are coming here on no peaceful errand," declaredRuggedo, scowling fiercely. "In fact, no one ever comes here on apeaceful errand. I hate everybody, and everybody hates me!"
"Very true," said Kaliko.
"I must in some way prevent these people from reaching my dominions.Where are they now?"
"Just now they are crossing the Rubber Country, Your Majesty."
"Good! Are your magnetic rubber wires in working order?"
"I think so," replied Kaliko. "Is it your Royal Will that we have somefun with these invaders?"
"It is," answered Ruggedo. "I want to teach them a lesson they willnever forget."
Now, Shaggy had no idea that he was in a Rubber Country, nor had any ofhis companions. They noticed that everything around them was of a dullgray color and that the path upon which they walked was soft andspringy, yet they had no suspicion that the rocks and trees were rubberand even the path they trod was made of rubber.
Presently they came to a brook where sparkling water dashed through adeep channel and rushed away between high rocks far down themountain-side. Across the brook were stepping-stones, so placed thattravelers might easily leap from one to another and in that mannercross the water to the farther bank.
Tik-Tok was marching ahead, followed by his officers and Queen Ann.After them came Betsy Bobbin and Hank, Polychrome and Shaggy, and lastof all the Rose Princess with Files. The Clockwork Man saw the streamand the stepping stones and, without making a pause, placed his footupon the first stone.
The result was astonishing. First he sank down in the soft rubber,which then rebounded and sent Tik-Tok soaring high in the air, where heturned a succession of flip-flops and alighted upon a rubber rock farin the rear of the party.
General Apple did not see Tik-Tok bound, so quickly had he disappeared;therefore he also stepped upon the stone (which you will guess wasconnected with Kaliko's magnetic rubber wire) and instantly shot upwardlike an arrow. General Cone came next and met with a like fate, but theothers now noticed that something was wrong and with one accord theyhalted the column and looked back along the path.
There was Tik-Tok, still bounding from one rubber rock to another, eachtime rising a less distance from the ground. And there was GeneralApple, bounding away in another direction, his three-cornered hatjammed over his eyes and his long sword thumping him upon the arms andhead as it swung this way and that. And there, also, appeared GeneralCone, who had struck a rubber rock headforemost and was so crumpled upthat his round body looked more like a bouncing-ball than the form of aman.
Betsy laughed merrily at the strange sight and Polychrome echoed herlaughter. But Ozga was grave and wondering, while Queen Ann becameangry at seeing the chief officers of the Army of Oogaboo boundingaround in so undignified a manner. She shouted to them to stop, butthey were unable to obey, even though they would have been glad to doso. Finally, however, they all ceased bounding and managed to get upontheir feet and rejoin the Army.
"Why did you do that?" demanded Ann, who seemed greatly provoked.
"Don't ask them why," said Shaggy earnestly. "I knew you would ask themwhy, but you ought not to do it. The reason is plain. Those stones arerubber; therefore they are not stones. Those rocks around us arerubber, and therefore they are not rocks. Even this path is not a path;it's rubber. Unless we are very careful, your Majesty, we are alllikely to get the bounce, just as your poor officers and Tik-Tok did."
"Then let's be careful," remarked Files, who was full of wisdom; butPolychrome wanted to test the quality of the rubber, so she begandancing. Every step sent her higher and higher into the air, so thatshe resembled a big butterfly fluttering lightly. Presently she made agreat bound and bounded way across the stream, landing lightly andsteadily on the other side.
"There is no rubber over here," she called to them. "Suppose you alltry to bound over the stream, without touching the stepping-stones."
Ann and her officers were reluctant to undertake such a riskyadventure, but Betsy at once grasped the value of the suggestion andbegan jumping up and down until she found herself bounding almost ashigh as Polychrome had done. Then she suddenly leaned forward and thenext bound took her easily across the brook, where she alighted by theside of the Rainbow's Daughter.
"Come on, Hank!" called the girl, and the donkey tried to obey. Hemanaged to bound pretty high but when he tried to bound across thestream he misjudged the distance and fell with a splash into the middleof the water.
"Hee-haw!" he wailed, struggling toward the far bank. Betsy rushedforward to help him out, but when the mule stood safely beside her shewas amazed to find he was not wet at all.
"It's dry water," said Polychrome, dipping her hand into the stream andshowing how the water fell from it and left it perfectly dry.
"In that case," returned Betsy, "they can all walk through the water."
She called to Ozga and Shaggy to wade across, assuring them the waterwas shallow and would not wet them. At once they followed her advice,avoiding the rubber stepping stones, and made the crossing with ease.This encouraged the entire party to wade through the dry water, and ina few minutes all had assembled on the bank and renewed their journeyalong the path that led to the Nome King's dominions.
When Kaliko again looked through his magic spyglass he exclaimed:
"Bad luck, Your Majesty! All the invaders have passed the RubberCountry and now are fast approaching the entrance to your caverns."
Ruggedo raved and stormed at the news and his anger was so great thatseveral times, as he strode up and down his jeweled cavern, he pausedto kick Kaliko upon his shins, which were so sensitive that the poornome howled with pain. Finally the King said:
"There's no help for it; we must drop these audacious invaders down theHollow Tube."
Kaliko gave a jump, at this, and looked at his master wonderingly.
"If you do that, Your Majesty," he said, "you will make Tititi-Hoochoovery angry."
"Never mind that," retorted Ruggedo. "Tititi-Hoochoo lives on the otherside of the world, so what do I care for his anger?"
Kaliko shuddered and uttered a little groan.
"Remember his terrible powers," he pleaded, "and remember that hewarned you, the last time you slid people through the Hollow Tube, thatif you did it again he would take vengeance upon you."
The Metal Monarch walked up and down in silence, thinking deeply.
"Of two dangers," said he, "it is wise to choose the least. What do yousuppose these invaders want?"
"Let the Long-Eared Hearer listen to them," suggested Kaliko.
"Call him here at once!" commanded Ruggedo eagerly.
So in a few minutes there entered the cavern a nome with enormous ears,who bowed low before the King.
"Strangers are approaching," said Ruggedo, "and I wish to know theirerrand. Listen carefully to their talk and tell me why they are cominghere, and what for."
The nome bowed again and spread out his great ears, swaying them gentlyup and down and back and forth. For half an hour he stood silent, in anattitude of listening, while both the King and Kaliko grew impatient atthe delay. At last the Long-Eared Hearer spoke:
"Shaggy Man is coming here to rescue his brother from captivity," saidhe.
"Ha, the Ugly One!" exclaimed Ruggedo. "Well, Shaggy Man may have hisugly brother, for all I care. He's too lazy to work and is alwaysgetting in my way. Where is the Ugly One now, Kaliko?"
"The last time Your Majesty stumbled over the prisoner you commanded meto send him to the Metal Forest, which I did. I suppose he is stillthere."
"Very good. The invaders will have a hard time finding the MetalForest," said the King, with a grin of malicious delight, "for half thetime I can't find it myself. Yet I created the forest and made everytree, out of gold and silver, so as to keep the precious metals in asafe place and out of the reach of mortals. But tell me, Hearer, do thestrangers want anything else?"
"Yes, indeed they do!" returned the nome. "The Army of Oogaboo isdetermined to capture all the rich metals and rare jewels in yourkingdom, and the officers and their Queen have arranged to divide thespoils and carry them away."
When he heard this Ruggedo uttered a bellow of rage and began dancingup and down, rolling his eyes, clicking his teeth together and swinginghis arms furiously. Then, in an ecstasy of anger he seized the longears of the Hearer and pulled and twisted them cruelly; but Kalikograbbed up the King's sceptre and rapped him over the knuckles with it,so that Ruggedo let go the ears and began to chase his RoyalChamberlain around the throne.
The Hearer took advantage of this opportunity to slip away from thecavern and escape, and after the King had tired himself out chasingKaliko he threw himself into his throne and panted for breath, while heglared wickedly at his defiant subject.
"You'd better save your strength to fight the enemy," suggested Kaliko."There will be a terrible battle when the Army of Oogaboo gets here."
"The Army won't get here," said the King, still coughing and panting."I'll drop 'em down the Hollow Tube--every man Jack and every girl Jillof 'em!"
"And defy Tititi-Hoochoo?" asked Kaliko.
"Yes. Go at once to my Chief Magician and order him to turn the pathtoward the Hollow Tube, and to make the tip of the Tube invisible, sothey'll all fall into it."
Kaliko went away shaking his head, for he thought Ruggedo was making agreat mistake. He found the Magician and had the path twisted so thatit led directly to the opening of the Hollow Tube, and this opening hemade invisible.
Having obeyed the orders of his master, the Royal Chamberlain went tohis private room and began to write letters of recommendation ofhimself, stating that he was an honest man, a good servant and a smalleater.
"Pretty soon," he said to himself, "I shall have to look for anotherjob, for it is certain that Ruggedo has ruined himself by this recklessdefiance of the mighty Tititi-Hoochoo. And in seeking a job nothing isso effective as a letter of recommendation."
A Terrible Tumble Through a Tube
I suppose that Polychrome, and perhaps Queen Ann and her Army, mighthave been able to dispel the enchantment of Ruggedo's Chief Magicianhad they known that danger lay in their pathway; for the Rainbow'sDaughter was a fairy and as Oogaboo is a part of the Land of Oz itsinhabitants cannot easily be deceived by such common magic as the NomeKing could command. But no one suspected any especial danger untilafter they had entered Ruggedo's cavern, and so they were journeyingalong in quite a contented manner when Tik-Tok, who marched ahead,suddenly disappeared.
The officers thought he must have turned a corner, so they kept ontheir way and all of them likewise disappeared--one after another.Queen Ann was rather surprised at this, and in hastening forward tolearn the reason she also vanished from sight.
Betsy Bobbin had tired her feet by walking, so she was now riding uponthe back of the stout little mule, facing backward and talking toShaggy and Polychrome, who were just behind. Suddenly Hank pitchedforward and began falling and Betsy would have tumbled over his headhad she not grabbed the mule's shaggy neck with both arms and held onfor dear life.
All around was darkness, and they were not falling directly downwardbut seemed to be sliding along a steep incline. Hank's hoofs wereresting upon some smooth substance over which he slid with theswiftness of the wind. Once Betsy's heels flew up and struck a similarsubstance overhead. They were, indeed, descending the "Hollow Tube"that led to the other side of the world.
"Stop, Hank--stop!" cried the girl; but Hank only uttered a plaintive"Hee-haw!" for it was impossible for him to obey.
After several minutes had passed and no harm had befallen them, Betsygained courage. She could see nothing at all, nor could she hearanything except the rush of air past her ears as they plunged downwardalong the Tube. Whether she and Hank were alone, or the others werewith them, she could not tell. But had some one been able to take aflash-light photograph of the Tube at that time a most curious picturewould have resulted. There was Tik-Tok, flat upon his back and slidingheadforemost down the incline. And there were the Officers of the Armyof Oogaboo, all tangled up in a confused crowd, flapping their arms andtrying to shield their faces from the clanking swords, which swung backand forth during the swift journey and pommeled everyone within theirreach. Now followed Queen Ann, who had struck the Tube in a sittingposition and went flying along with a dash and abandon that thoroughlybewildered the poor lady, who had no idea what had happened to her.Then, a little distance away, but unseen by the others in the inkydarkness, slid Betsy and Hank, while behind them were Shaggy andPolychrome and finally Files and the Princess.
When first they tumbled into the Tube all were too dazed to thinkclearly, but the trip was a long one, because the cavity led straightthrough the earth to a place just opposite the Nome King's dominions,and long before the adventurers got to the end they had begun torecover their wits.
"This is awful, Hank!" cried Betsy in a loud voice, and Queen Ann heardher and called out: "Are you safe, Betsy?"
"Mercy, no!" answered the little girl. "How could anyone be safe whenshe's going about sixty miles a minute?" Then, after a pause, sheadded: "But where do you s'pose we're going to, Your Maj'sty?"
"Don't ask her that, please don't!" said Shaggy, who was not too faraway to overhear them. "And please don't ask me why, either."
"Why?" said Betsy.
"No one can tell where we are going until we get there," repliedShaggy, and then he yelled "Ouch!" for Polychrome had overtaken him andwas now sitting on his head.
The Rainbow's Daughter laughed merrily, and so infectious was thisjoyous laugh that Betsy echoed it and Hank said "Hee haw!" in a mildand sympathetic tone of voice.
"I'd like to know where and when we'll arrive, just the same,"exclaimed the little girl.
"Be patient and you'll find out, my dear," said Polychrome. "But isn'tthis an odd experience? Here am I, whose home is in the skies, making ajourney through the center of the earth--where I never expected to be!"
"How do you know we're in the center of the earth?" asked Betsy, hervoice trembling a little through nervousness.
"Why, we can t be anywhere else," replied Polychrome. "I have oftenheard of this passage, which was once built by a Magician who was agreat traveler. He thought it would save him the bother of going aroundthe earth's surface, but he tumbled through the Tube so fast that heshot out at the other end and hit a star in the sky, which at onceexploded."
"The star exploded?" asked Betsy wonderingly.
"Yes; the Magician hit it so hard."
"And what became of the Magician?" inquired the girl.
"No one knows that," answered Polychrome. "But I don't think it mattersmuch."
"It matters a good deal, if we also hit the stars when we come out,"said Queen Ann, with a moan.
"Don't worry," advised Polychrome. "I believe the Magician was goingthe other way, and probably he went much faster than we are going."
"It's fast enough to suit me," remarked Shaggy, gently removingPolychrome's heel from his left eye. "Couldn't you manage to fall allby yourself, my dear?"
"I'll try," laughed the Rainbow's Daughter.
All this time they were swiftly falling through the Tube, and it wasnot so easy for them to talk as you may imagine when you read theirwords. But although they were so helpless and altogether in the dark asto their fate, the fact that they were able to converse at all cheeredthem, considerably.
Files and Ozga were also conversing as they clung tightly to oneanother, and the young fellow bravely strove to reassure the Princess,although he was terribly frightened, both on her account and on his own.
An hour, under such trying circumstances, is a very long time, and formore than an hour they continued their fearful journey. Then, just asthey began to fear the Tube would never end, Tik-Tok popped out intobroad daylight and, after making a graceful circle in the air, fellwith a splash into a great marble fountain.
Out came the officers, in quick succession, tumbling heels over headand striking the ground in many undignified attitudes.
"For the love of sassafras!" exclaimed a Peculiar Person who was hoeingpink violets in a garden. "What can all this mean?"
For answer, Queen Ann sailed up from the Tube, took a ride through theair as high as the treetops, and alighted squarely on top of thePeculiar Person's head, smashing a jeweled crown over his eyes andtumbling him to the ground.
The mule was heavier and had Betsy clinging to his back, so he did notgo so high up. Fortunately for his little rider he struck the groundupon his four feet. Betsy was jarred a trifle but not hurt and when shelooked around her she saw the Queen and the Peculiar Person strugglingtogether upon the ground, where the man was trying to choke Ann and shehad both hands in his bushy hair and was pulling with all her might.Some of the officers, when they got upon their feet, hastened toseparate the combatants and sought to restrain the Peculiar Person sothat he could not attack their Queen again.
By this time, Shaggy, Polychrome, Ozga and Files had all arrived andwere curiously examining the strange country in which they foundthemselves and which they knew to be exactly on the opposite side ofthe world from the place where they had fallen into the Tube. It was alovely place, indeed, and seemed to be the garden of some great Prince,for through the vistas of trees and shrubbery could be seen the towersof an immense castle. But as yet the only inhabitant to greet them wasthe Peculiar Person just mentioned, who had shaken off the grasp of theofficers without effort and was now trying to pull the battered crownfrom off his eyes.
Shaggy, who was always polite, helped him to do this and when the manwas free and could see again he looked at his visitors with evidentamazement.
"Well, well, well!" he exclaimed. "Where did you come from and how didyou get here?"
Betsy tried to answer him, for Queen Ann was surly and silent.
"I can't say, exac'ly where we came from, cause I don't know the nameof the place," said the girl, "but the way we got here was through theHollow Tube."
"Don't call it a 'hollow' Tube, please," exclaimed the Peculiar Personin an irritated tone of voice. "If it's a tube, it's sure to be hollow."
"Why?" asked Betsy.
"Because all tubes are made that way. But this Tube is private propertyand everyone is forbidden to fall into it."
"We didn't do it on purpose," explained Betsy, and Polychrome added: "Iam quite sure that Ruggedo, the Nome King, pushed us down that Tube."
"Ha! Ruggedo! Did you say Ruggedo?" cried the man, becoming muchexcited.
"That is what she said," replied Shaggy, "and I believe she is right.We were on our way to conquer the Nome King when suddenly we fell intothe Tube."
"Then you are enemies of Ruggedo?" inquired the peculiar Person.
"Not exac'ly enemies," said Betsy, a little puzzled by the question,"'cause we don't know him at all; but we started out to conquer him,which isn't as friendly as it might be."
"True," agreed the man. He looked thoughtfully from one to another ofthem for a while and then he turned his head over his shoulder andsaid: "Never mind the fire and pincers, my good brothers. It will bebest to take these strangers to the Private Citizen."
"Very well, Tubekins," responded a Voice, deep and powerful, thatseemed to come out of the air, for the speaker was invisible.
All our friends gave a jump, at this. Even Polychrome was so startledthat her gauze draperies fluttered like a banner in a breeze. Shaggyshook his head and sighed; Queen Ann looked very unhappy; the officersclung to each other, trembling violently.
But soon they gained courage to look more closely at the PeculiarPerson. As he was a type of all the inhabitants of this extraordinaryland whom they afterward met, I will try to tell you what he lookedlike.
His face was beautiful, but lacked expression. His eyes were large andblue in color and his teeth finely formed and white as snow. His hairwas black and bushy and seemed inclined to curl at the ends. So far noone could find any fault with his appearance. He wore a robe ofscarlet, which did not cover his arms and extended no lower than hisbare knees. On the bosom of the robe was embroidered a terribledragon's head, as horrible to look at as the man was beautiful. Hisarms and legs were left bare and the skin of one arm was bright yellowand the skin of the other arm a vivid green. He had one blue leg andone pink one, while both his feet--which showed through the opensandals he wore--were jet black.
Betsy could not decide whether these gorgeous colors were dyes or thenatural tints of the skin, but while she was thinking it over the manwho had been called "Tubekins" said:
"Follow me to the Residence--all of you!"
But just then a Voice exclaimed: "Here's another of them, Tubekins,lying in the water of the fountain."
"Gracious!" cried Betsy; "it must be Tik-Tok, and he'll drown."
"Water is a bad thing for his clockworks, anyway," agreed Shaggy, aswith one accord they all started for the fountain. But before theycould reach it, invisible hands raised Tik-Tok from the marble basinand set him upon his feet beside it, water dripping from every joint ofhis copper body.
"Ma--ny tha--tha--tha--thanks!" he said; and then his copper jawsclicked together and he could say no more. He next made an attempt towalk but after several awkward trials found he could not move hisjoints.
Peals of jeering laughter from persons unseen greeted Tik-Tok'sfailure, and the new arrivals in this strange land found it veryuncomfortable to realize that there were many creatures around them whowere invisible, yet could be heard plainly.
"Shall I wind him up?" asked Betsy, feeling very sorry for Tik-Tok.
"I think his machinery is wound; but he needs oiling," replied Shaggy.
At once an oil-can appeared before him, held on a level with his eyesby some unseen hand. Shaggy took the can and tried to oil Tik-Tok'sjoints. As if to assist him, a strong current of warm air was directedagainst the copper man which quickly dried him. Soon he was able to say"Ma-ny thanks!" quite smoothly and his joints worked fairly well.
"Come!" commanded Tubekins, and turning his back upon them he walked upthe path toward the castle.
"Shall we go?" asked Queen Ann, uncertainly; but just then she receiveda shove that almost pitched her forward on her head; so she decided togo. The officers who hesitated received several energetic kicks, butcould not see who delivered them; therefore they also decided--verywisely--to go. The others followed willingly enough, for unless theyventured upon another terrible journey through the Tube they must makethe best of the unknown country they were in, and the best seemed to beto obey orders.
The Famous Fellowship of Fairies
After a short walk through very beautiful gardens they came to thecastle and followed Tubekins through the entrance and into a greatdomed chamber, where he commanded them to be seated.
From the crown which he wore, Betsy had thought this man must be theKing of the country they were in, yet after he had seated all thestrangers upon benches that were ranged in a semicircle before a highthrone, Tubekins bowed humbly before the vacant throne and in a flashbecame invisible and disappeared.
The hall was an immense place, but there seemed to be no one in itbeside themselves. Presently, however, they heard a low cough nearthem, and here and there was the faint rustling of a robe and a slightpatter as of footsteps. Then suddenly there rang out the clear tone ofa bell and at the sound all was changed.
Gazing around the hall in bewilderment they saw that it was filled withhundreds of men and women, all with beautiful faces and staring blueeyes and all wearing scarlet robes and jeweled crowns upon their heads.In fact, these people seemed exact duplicates of Tubekins and it wasdifficult to find any mark by which to tell them apart.
"My! what a lot of Kings and Queens!" whispered Betsy to Polychrome,who sat beside her and appeared much interested in the scene but not abit worried.
"It is certainly a strange sight," was Polychrome's reply; "but Icannot see how there can be more than one King, or Queen, in any onecountry, for were these all rulers, no one could tell who was Master."
One of the Kings who stood near and overheard this remark turned to herand said: "One who is Master of himself is always a King, if only tohimself. In this favored land all Kings and Queens are equal, and it isour privilege to bow before one supreme Ruler--the Private Citizen."
"Who's he?" inquired Betsy.
As if to answer her, the clear tones of the bell again rang out andinstantly there appeared seated in the throne the man who was lord andmaster of all these royal ones. This fact was evident when with oneaccord they fell upon their knees and touched their foreheads to thefloor.
The Private Citizen was not unlike the others, except that his eyeswere black instead of blue and in the centers of the black irisesglowed red sparks that seemed like coals of fire. But his features werevery beautiful and dignified and his manner composed and stately.Instead of the prevalent scarlet robe, he wore one of white, and thesame dragon's head that decorated the others was embroidered upon itsbosom.
"What charge lies against these people, Tubekins?" he asked in quiet,even tones.
"They came through the forbidden Tube, O Mighty Citizen," was the reply.
"You see, it was this way," said Betsy. "We were marching to the NomeKing, to conquer him and set Shaggy's brother free, when on a sudden--"
"Who are you?" demanded the Private Citizen sternly.
"Me? Oh, I'm Betsy Bobbin, and--"
"Who is the leader of this party?" asked the Citizen.
"Sir, I am Queen Ann of Oogaboo, and--"
"Then keep quiet," said the Citizen. "Who is the leader?"
No one answered for a moment. Then General Bunn stood up.
"Sit down!" commanded the Citizen. "I can see that sixteen of you aremerely officers, and of no account."
"But we have an Army," said General Clock, blusteringly, for he didn'tlike to be told he was of no account.
"Where is your Army?" asked the Citizen.
"It's me," said Tik-Tok, his voice sounding a little rusty. "I'm theon-ly Pri-vate Sol-dier in the par-ty."
Hearing this, the Citizen rose and bowed respectfully to the ClockworkMan.
"Pardon me for not realizing your importance before," said he. "Willyou oblige me by taking a seat beside me on my throne?"
Tik-Tok rose and walked over to the throne, all the Kings and Queensmaking way for him. Then with clanking steps he mounted the platformand sat on the broad seat beside the Citizen.
Ann was greatly provoked at this mark of favor shown to the humbleClockwork Man, but Shaggy seemed much pleased that his old friend'simportance had been recognized by the ruler of this remarkable country.The Citizen now began to question Tik-Tok, who told in his mechanicalvoice about Shaggy's quest of his lost brother, and how Ozma of Oz hadsent the Clockwork Man to assist him, and how they had fallen in withQueen Ann and her people from Oogaboo. Also he told how Betsy and Hankand Polychrome and the Rose Princess had happened to join their party.
"And you intended to conquer Ruggedo, the Metal Monarch and King of theNomes?" asked the Citizen.
"Yes. That seemed the on-ly thing for us to do," was Tik-Tok's reply."But he was too cle-ver for us. When we got close to his cav-ern hemade our path lead to the Tube, and made the op-en-ing in-vis-i-ble, sothat we all fell in-to it be-fore we knew it was there. It was an eas-yway to get rid of us and now Rug-gedo is safe and we are far a-way in astrange land."
The Citizen was silent a moment and seemed to be thinking. Then he said:
"Most noble Private Soldier, I must inform you that by the laws of ourcountry anyone who comes through the Forbidden Tube must be torturedfor nine days and ten nights and then thrown back into the Tube. But itis wise to disregard laws when they conflict with justice, and it seemsthat you and your followers did not disobey our laws willingly, beingforced into the Tube by Ruggedo. Therefore the Nome King is alone toblame, and he alone must be punished."
"That suits me," said Tik-Tok. "But Rug-ge-do is on the o-ther side ofthe world where he is a-way out of your reach."
The Citizen drew himself up proudly.
"Do you imagine anything in the world or upon it can be out of thereach of the Great Jinjin?" he asked.
"Oh! Are you, then, the Great Jinjin?" inquired Tik-Tok.
"Then your name is Ti-ti-ti-Hoo-choo?"
Queen Ann gave a scream and began to tremble. Shaggy was so disturbedthat he took out a handkerchief and wiped the perspiration from hisbrow. Polychrome looked sober and uneasy for the first time, whileFiles put his arms around the Rose Princess as if to protect her. Asfor the officers, the name of the great Jinjin set them moaning andweeping at a great rate and every one fell upon his knees before thethrone, begging for mercy. Betsy was worried at seeing her companionsso disturbed, but did not know what it was all about. Only Tik-Tok wasunmoved at the discovery.
"Then," said he, "if you are Ti-ti-ti-Hoo-choo, and think Rug-ge-do isto blame, I am sure that some-thing queer will hap-pen to the King ofthe Nomes."
"I wonder what 'twill be," said Betsy.
The Private Citizen--otherwise known as Tititi-Hoochoo, the GreatJinjin--looked at the little girl steadily.
"I will presently decide what is to happen to Ruggedo," said he in ahard, stern voice. Then, turning to the throng of Kings and Queens, hecontinued: "Tik-Tok has spoken truly, for his machinery will not allowhim to lie, nor will it allow his thoughts to think falsely. Thereforethese people are not our enemies and must be treated with considerationand justice. Take them to your palaces and entertain them as guestsuntil to-morrow, when I command that they be brought again to myResidence. By then I shall have formed my plans."
No sooner had Tititi-Hoochoo spoken than he disappeared from sight.Immediately after, most of the Kings and Queens likewise disappeared.But several of them remained visible and approached the strangers withgreat respect. One of the lovely Queens said to Betsy:
"I trust you will honor me by being my guest. I am Erma, Queen ofLight."
"May Hank come with me?" asked the girl.
"The King of Animals will care for your mule," was the reply. "But donot fear for him, for he will be treated royally. All of your partywill be reunited on the morrow."
"I--I'd like to have some one with me," said Betsy, pleadingly.
Queen Erma looked around and smiled upon Polychrome.
"Will the Rainbow's Daughter be an agreeable companion?" she asked.
"Oh, yes!" exclaimed the girl.
So Polychrome and Betsy became guests of the Queen of Light, whileother beautiful Kings and Queens took charge of the others of the party.
The two girls followed Erma out of the hall and through the gardens ofthe Residence to a village of pretty dwellings. None of these was solarge or imposing as the castle of the Private Citizen, but all werehandsome enough to be called palaces--as, in fact, they really were.
The Lovely Lady of Light
The palace of the Queen of Light stood on a little eminence and was amass of crystal windows, surmounted by a vast crystal dome. When theyentered the portals Erma was greeted by six lovely maidens, evidentlyof high degree, who at once aroused Betsy's admiration. Each bore awand in her hand, tipped with an emblem of light, and their costumeswere also emblematic of the lights they represented. Erma introducedthem to her guests and each made a graceful and courteousacknowledgment.
First was Sunlight, radiantly beautiful and very fair; the second wasMoonlight, a soft, dreamy damsel with nut-brown hair; next cameStarlight, equally lovely but inclined to be retiring and shy. Thesethree were dressed in shimmering robes of silvery white. The fourth wasDaylight, a brilliant damsel with laughing eyes and frank manners, whowore a variety of colors. Then came Firelight, clothed in a fleecyflame-colored robe that wavered around her shapely form in a veryattractive manner. The sixth maiden, Electra, was the most beautiful ofall, and Betsy thought from the first that both Sunlight and Daylightregarded Electra with envy and were a little jealous of her.
But all were cordial in their greetings to the strangers and seemed toregard the Queen of Light with much affection, for they flutteredaround her in a flashing, radiant group as she led the way to her regaldrawing-room.
This apartment was richly and cosily furnished, the upholstery being ofmany tints, and both Betsy and Polychrome enjoyed resting themselvesupon the downy divans after their strenuous adventures of the day.
The Queen sat down to chat with her guests, who noticed that Daylightwas the only maiden now seated beside Erma. The others had retired toanother part of the room, where they sat modestly with entwined armsand did not intrude themselves at all.
The Queen told the strangers all about this beautiful land, which isone of the chief residences of fairies who minister to the needs ofmankind. So many important fairies lived there that, to avoid rivalry,they had elected as their Ruler the only important personage in thecountry who had no duties to mankind to perform and was, in effect, aPrivate Citizen. This Ruler, or Jinjin, as was his title, bore the nameof Tititi-Hoochoo, and the most singular thing about him was that hehad no heart. But instead of this he possessed a high degree of Reasonand Justice and while he showed no mercy in his judgments he neverpunished unjustly or without reason. To wrong-doers Tititi-Hoochoo wasas terrible as he was heartless, but those who were innocent of evilhad nothing to fear from him.
All the Kings and Queens of this fairyland paid reverence to Jinjin,for as they expected to be obeyed by others they were willing to obeythe one in authority over them.
The inhabitants of the Land of Oz had heard many tales of thisfearfully just Jinjin, whose punishments were always equal to thefaults committed. Polychrome also knew of him, although this was thefirst time she had ever seen him face to face. But to Betsy the storywas all new, and she was greatly interested in Tititi-Hoochoo, whom sheno longer feared.
Time sped swiftly during their talk and suddenly Betsy noticed thatMoonlight was sitting beside the Queen of Light, instead of Daylight.
"But tell me, please," she pleaded, "why do you all wear a dragon'shead embroidered on your gowns?"
Erma's pleasant face became grave as she answered:
"The Dragon, as you must know, was the first living creature ever made;therefore the Dragon is the oldest and wisest of living things. By goodfortune the Original Dragon, who still lives, is a resident of thisland and supplies us with wisdom whenever we are in need of it. He isold as the world and remembers everything that has happened since theworld was created."
"Did he ever have any children?" inquired the girl.
"Yes, many of them. Some wandered into other lands, where men, notunderstanding them, made war upon them; but many still reside in thiscountry. None, however, is as wise as the Original Dragon, for whom wehave great respect. As he was the first resident here, we wear theemblem of the dragon's head to show that we are the favored people whoalone have the right to inhabit this fairyland, which in beauty almostequals the Fairyland of Oz, and in power quite surpasses it."
"I understand about the dragon, now," said Polychrome, nodding herlovely head. Betsy did not quite understand, but she was at presentinterested in observing the changing lights. As Daylight had given wayto Moonlight, so now Starlight sat at the right hand of Erma the Queen,and with her coming a spirit of peace and content seemed to fill theroom. Polychrome, being herself a fairy, had many questions to askabout the various Kings and Queens who lived in this far-away, secludedplace, and before Erma had finished answering them a rosy glow filledthe room and Firelight took her place beside the Queen.
Betsy liked Firelight, but to gaze upon her warm and glowing featuresmade the little girl sleepy, and presently she began to nod. ThereuponErma rose and took Betsy's hand gently in her own.
"Come," said she; "the feast time has arrived and the feast is spread."
"That's nice," exclaimed the small mortal. "Now that I think of it, I'mawful hungry. But p'raps I can't eat your fairy food."
The Queen smiled and led her to a doorway. As she pushed aside a heavydrapery a flood of silvery light greeted them, and Betsy saw before hera splendid banquet hall, with a table spread with snowy linen andcrystal and silver. At one side was a broad, throne-like seat for Ermaand beside her now sat the brilliant maid Electra. Polychrome wasplaced on the Queen's right hand and Betsy upon her left. The otherfive messengers of light now waited upon them, and each person wassupplied with just the food she liked best. Polychrome found her dishof dewdrops, all fresh and sparkling, while Betsy was so lavishlyserved that she decided she had never in her life eaten a dinner halfso good.
"I s'pose," she said to the Queen, "that Miss Electra is the youngestof all these girls."
"Why do you suppose that?" inquired Erma, with a smile.
"'Cause electric'ty is the newest light we know of. Didn't Mr. Edisondiscover it?"
"Perhaps he was the first mortal to discover it," replied the Queen."But electricity was a part of the world from its creation, andtherefore my Electra is as old as Daylight or Moonlight, and equallybeneficent to mortals and fairies alike."
Betsy was thoughtful for a time. Then she remarked, as she looked atthe six messengers of light:
"We couldn't very well do without any of 'em; could we?"
Erma laughed softly. "I couldn't, I'm sure," she replied, "and I thinkmortals would miss any one of my maidens, as well. Daylight cannot takethe place of Sunlight, which gives us strength and energy. Moonlight isof value when Daylight, worn out with her long watch, retires to rest.If the moon in its course is hidden behind the earth's rim, and mysweet Moonlight cannot cheer us, Starlight takes her place, for theskies always lend her power. Without Firelight we should miss much ofour warmth and comfort, as well as much cheer when the walls of housesencompass us. But always, when other lights forsake us, our gloriousElectra is ready to flood us with bright rays. As Queen of Light, Ilove all my maidens, for I know them to be faithful and true."
"I love 'em too!" declared Betsy. "But sometimes, when I'm real sleepy,I can get along without any light at all."
"Are you sleepy now?" inquired Erma, for the feast had ended.
"A little," admitted the girl.
So Electra showed her to a pretty chamber where there was a soft, whitebed, and waited patiently until Betsy had undressed and put on ashimmery silken nightrobe that lay beside her pillow. Then thelight-maid bade her good night and opened the door.
When she closed it after her Betsy was in darkness. In six winks thelittle girl was fast asleep.
The Jinjin's Just Judgment
All the adventurers were reunited next morning when they were broughtfrom various palaces to the Residence of Tititi-Hoochoo and usheredinto the great Hall of State.
As before, no one was visible except our friends and their escortsuntil the first bell sounded. Then in a flash the room was seen to befilled with the beautiful Kings and Queens of the land. The second bellmarked the appearance in the throne of the mighty Jinjin, whosehandsome countenance was as composed and expressionless as ever.
All bowed low to the Ruler. Their voices softly murmured: "We greet thePrivate Citizen, mightiest of Rulers, whose word is Law and whose Lawis just."
Tititi-Hoochoo bowed in acknowledgment. Then, looking around thebrilliant assemblage, and at the little group of adventurers beforehim, he said:
"An unusual thing has happened. Inhabitants of other lands than ours,who are different from ourselves in many ways, have been thrust upon usthrough the Forbidden Tube, which one of our people foolishly madeyears ago and was properly punished for his folly. But these strangershad no desire to come here and were wickedly thrust into the Tube by acruel King on the other side of the world, named Ruggedo. This King isan immortal, but he is not good. His magic powers hurt mankind morethan they benefit them. Because he had unjustly kept the Shaggy Man'sbrother a prisoner, this little band of honest people, consisting ofboth mortals and immortals, determined to conquer Ruggedo and to punishhim. Fearing they might succeed in this, the Nome King misled them sothat they fell into the Tube.
"Now, this same Ruggedo has been warned by me, many times, that if everhe used this Forbidden Tube in any way he would be severely punished. Ifind, by referring to the Fairy Records, that this King's servant, anome named Kaliko, begged his master not to do such a wrong act as todrop these people into the Tube and send them tumbling into ourcountry. But Ruggedo defied me and my orders.
"Therefore these strangers are innocent of any wrong. It is onlyRuggedo who deserves punishment, and I will punish him." He paused amoment and then continued in the same cold, merciless voice:
"These strangers must return through the Tube to their own side of theworld; but I will make their fall more easy and pleasant than it wasbefore. Also I shall send with them an Instrument of Vengeance, who inmy name will drive Ruggedo from his underground caverns, take away hismagic powers and make him a homeless wanderer on the face of theearth--a place he detests."
There was a little murmur of horror from the Kings and Queens at theseverity of this punishment, but no one uttered a protest, for allrealized that the sentence was just.
"In selecting my Instrument of Vengeance," went on Tititi-Hoochoo, "Ihave realized that this will be an unpleasant mission. Therefore no oneof us who is blameless should be forced to undertake it. In thiswonderful land it is seldom one is guilty of wrong, even in theslightest degree, and on examining the Records I found no King or Queenhad erred. Nor had any among their followers or servants done anywrong. But finally I came to the Dragon Family, which we highlyrespect, and then it was that I discovered the error of Quox.
"Quox, as you well know, is a young dragon who has not yet acquired thewisdom of his race. Because of this lack, he has been disrespectfultoward his most ancient ancestor, the Original Dragon, telling him onceto mind his own business and again saying that the Ancient One hadgrown foolish with age. We are aware that dragons are not the same asfairies and cannot be altogether guided by our laws, yet suchdisrespect as Quox has shown should not be unnoticed by us. Therefore Ihave selected Quox as my royal Instrument of Vengeance and he shall gothrough the Tube with these people and inflict upon Ruggedo thepunishment I have decreed."
All had listened quietly to this speech and now the Kings and Queensbowed gravely to signify their approval of the Jinjin's judgment.
Tititi-Hoochoo turned to Tubekins.
"I command you," said he, "to escort these strangers to the Tube andsee that they all enter it."
The King of the Tube, who had first discovered our friends and broughtthem to the Private Citizen, stepped forward and bowed. As he did so,the Jinjin and all the Kings and Queens suddenly disappeared and onlyTubekins remained visible.
"All right," said Betsy, with a sigh; "I don't mind going back so verymuch, 'cause the Jinjin promised to make it easy for us."
Indeed, Queen Ann and her officers were the only ones who looked solemnand seemed to fear the return journey. One thing that bothered Ann washer failure to conquer this land of Tititi-Hoochoo. As they followedtheir guide through the gardens to the mouth of the Tube she said toShaggy:
"How can I conquer the world, if I go away and leave this rich countryunconquered?"
"You can't," he replied. "Don't ask me why, please, for if you don'tknow I can't inform you."
"Why not?" said Ann; but Shaggy paid no attention to the question.
This end of the Tube had a silver rim and around it was a gold railingto which was attached a sign that read.
"IF YOU ARE OUT, STAY THERE. IF YOU ARE IN, DON'T COME OUT."
On a little silver plate just inside the Tube was engraved the words:
"Burrowed and built by Hiergargo the Magician, In the Year of the World 1 9 6 2 5 4 7 8 For his own exclusive uses."
"He was some builder, I must say," remarked Betsy, when she had readthe inscription; "but if he had known about that star I guess he'd havespent his time playing solitaire."
"Well, what are we waiting for?" inquired Shaggy, who was impatient tostart.
"Quox," replied Tubekins. "But I think I hear him coming."
"Is the young dragon invisible?" asked Ann, who had never seen a livedragon and was a little fearful of meeting one.
"No, indeed," replied the King of the Tube. "You'll see him in aminute; but before you part company I'm sure you'll wish he wasinvisible."
"Is he dangerous, then?" questioned Files.
"Not at all. But Quox tires me dreadfully," said Tubekins, "and Iprefer his room to his company."
At that instant a scraping sound was heard, drawing nearer and neareruntil from between two big bushes appeared a huge dragon, whoapproached the party, nodded his head and said: "Good morning."
Had Quox been at all bashful I am sure he would have felt uncomfortableat the astonished stare of every eye in the group--except Tubekins, ofcourse, who was not astonished because he had seen Quox so often.
Betsy had thought a "young" dragon must be a small dragon, yet here wasone so enormous that the girl decided he must be full grown, if notovergrown. His body was a lovely sky-blue in color and it was thicklyset with glittering silver scales, each one as big as a serving-tray.Around his neck was a pink ribbon with a bow just under his left ear,and below the ribbon appeared a chain of pearls to which was attached agolden locket about as large around as the end of a bass drum. Thislocket was set with many large and beautiful jewels.
The head and face of Quox were not especially ugly, when you considerthat he was a dragon; but his eyes were so large that it took him along time to wink and his teeth seemed very sharp and terrible whenthey showed, which they did whenever the beast smiled. Also hisnostrils were quite large and wide, and those who stood near him wereliable to smell brimstone--especially when he breathed out fire, as itis the nature of dragons to do. To the end of his long tail wasattached a big electric light.
Perhaps the most singular thing about the dragon's appearance at thistime was the fact that he had a row of seats attached to his back, oneseat for each member of the party. These seats were double, with curvedbacks, so that two could sit in them, and there were twelve of thesedouble seats, all strapped firmly around the dragon's thick body andplaced one behind the other, in a row that extended from his shouldersnearly to his tail.
"Aha!" exclaimed Tubekins; "I see that Tititi-Hoochoo has transformedQuox into a carryall."
"I'm glad of that," said Betsy. "I hope, Mr. Dragon, you won't mind ourriding on your back."
"Not a bit," replied Quox. "I'm in disgrace just now, you know, and theonly way to redeem my good name is to obey the orders of the Jinjin. Ifhe makes me a beast of burden, it is only a part of my punishment, andI must bear it like a dragon. I don't blame you people at all, and Ihope you'll enjoy the ride. Hop on, please. All aboard for the otherside of the world!"
Silently they took their places. Hank sat in the front seat with Betsy,so that he could rest his front hoofs upon the dragon's head. Behindthem were Shaggy and Polychrome, then Files and the Princess, and QueenAnn and Tik-Tok. The officers rode in the rear seats. When all hadmounted to their places the dragon looked very like one of thosesightseeing wagons so common in big cities--only he had legs instead ofwheels.
"All ready?" asked Quox, and when they said they were he crawled to themouth of the Tube and put his head in.
"Good-bye, and good luck to you!" called Tubekins; but no one thoughtto reply, because just then the dragon slid his great body into theTube and the journey to the other side of the world had begun.
At first they went so fast that they could scarcely catch theirbreaths, but presently Quox slowed up and said with a sort of cacklinglaugh:
"My scales! but that is some tumble. I think I shall take it easy andfall slower, or I'm likely to get dizzy. Is it very far to the otherside of the world?"
"Haven't you ever been through this Tube before?" inquired Shaggy.
"Never. Nor has anyone else in our country; at least, not since I wasborn."
"How long ago was that?" asked Betsy.
"That I was born? Oh, not very long ago. I'm only a mere child. If Ihad not been sent on this journey, I would have celebrated my threethousand and fifty-sixth birthday next Thursday. Mother was going tomake me a birthday cake with three thousand and fifty-six candles onit; but now, of course, there will be no celebration, for I fear Ishall not get home in time for it."
"Three thousand and fifty-six years!" cried Betsy. "Why, I had no ideaanything could live that long!"
"My respected Ancestor, whom I would call a stupid old humbug if I hadnot reformed, is so old that I am a mere baby compared with him," saidQuox. "He dates from the beginning of the world, and insists on tellingus stories of things that happened fifty thousand years ago, which areof no interest at all to youngsters like me. In fact, Grandpa isn't upto date. He lives altogether in the past, so I can't see any goodreason for his being alive to-day.... Are you people able to see yourway, or shall I turn on more light?"
"Oh, we can see very nicely, thank you; only there's nothing to see butourselves," answered Betsy.
This was true. The dragon's big eyes were like headlights on anautomobile and illuminated the Tube far ahead of them. Also he curledhis tail upward so that the electric light on the end of it enabledthem to see one another quite clearly. But the Tube itself was onlydark metal, smooth as glass but exactly the same from one of its endsto the other. Therefore there was no scenery of interest to beguile thejourney.
They were now falling so gently that the trip was proving entirelycomfortable, as the Jinjin had promised it would be; but this meant alonger journey and the only way they could make time pass was to engagein conversation. The dragon seemed a willing and persistent talker andhe was of so much interest to them that they encouraged him to chatter.His voice was a little gruff but not unpleasant when one became used toit.
"My only fear," said he presently, "is that this constant sliding overthe surface of the Tube will dull my claws. You see, this hole isn'tstraight down, but on a steep slant, and so instead of tumbling freelythrough the air I must skate along the Tube. Fortunately, there is afile in my tool-kit, and if my claws get dull they can be sharpenedagain."
"Why do you want sharp claws?" asked Betsy.
"They are my natural weapons, and you must not forget that I have beensent to conquer Ruggedo."
"Oh, you needn't mind about that," remarked Queen Ann, in her mosthaughty manner; "for when we get to Ruggedo I and my invincible Armycan conquer him without your assistance."
"Very good," returned the dragon, cheerfully. "That will save me a lotof bother--if you succeed. But I think I shall file my claws, just thesame."
He gave a long sigh, as he said this, and a sheet of flame, severalfeet in length, shot from his mouth. Betsy shuddered and Hank said"Hee-haw!" while some of the officers screamed in terror. But thedragon did not notice that he had done anything unusual.
"Is there fire inside of you?" asked Shaggy.
"Of course," answered Quox. "What sort of a dragon would I be if myfire went out?"
"What keeps it going?" Betsy inquired.
"I've no idea. I only know it's there," said Quox. "The fire keeps mealive and enables me to move; also to think and speak."
"Ah! You are ver-y much like my-self," said Tik-Tok. "The on-lydif-fer-ence is that I move by clock-work, while you move by fire."
"I don't see a particle of likeness between us, I must confess,"retorted Quox, gruffly. "You are not a live thing; you're a dummy."
"But I can do things, you must ad-mit," said Tik-Tok.
"Yes, when you are wound up," sneered the dragon. "But if you run down,you are helpless."
"What would happen to you, Quox, if you ran out of gasoline?" inquiredShaggy, who did not like this attack upon his friend.
"I don't use gasoline."
"Well, suppose you ran out of fire."
"What's the use of supposing that?" asked Quox. "Mygreat-great-great-grandfather has lived since the world began, and hehas never once run out of fire to keep him going. But I will confide toyou that as he gets older he shows more smoke and less fire. As forTik-Tok, he's well enough in his way, but he's merely copper. And theMetal Monarch knows copper through and through. I wouldn't be surprisedif Ruggedo melted Tik-Tok in one of his furnaces and made copperpennies of him."
"In that case, I would still keep going," remarked Tik-Tok, calmly.
"Pennies do," said Betsy regretfully.
"This is all nonsense," said the Queen, with irritation. "Tik-Tok is mygreat Army--all but the officers--and I believe he will be able toconquer Ruggedo with ease. What do you think, Polychrome?"
"You might let him try," answered the Rainbow's Daughter, with hersweet ringing laugh, that sounded like the tinkling of tiny bells. "Andif Tik-Tok fails, you have still the big fire-breathing dragon to fallback on."
"Ah!" said the dragon, another sheet of flame gushing from his mouthand nostrils; "it's a wise little girl, this Polychrome. Anyone wouldknow she is a fairy."
The Long-Eared Hearer Learns by Listening
During this time Ruggedo, the Metal Monarch and King of the Nomes, wastrying to amuse himself in his splendid jeweled cavern. It was hardwork for Ruggedo to find amusement to-day, for all the nomes werebehaving well and there was no one to scold or to punish. The King hadthrown his sceptre at Kaliko six times, without hitting him once. Notthat Kaliko had done anything wrong. On the contrary, he had obeyed theKing in every way but one: he would not stand still, when commanded todo so, and let the heavy sceptre strike him.
We can hardly blame Kaliko for this, and even the cruel Ruggedo forgavehim; for he knew very well that if he mashed his Royal Chamberlain hecould never find another so intelligent and obedient. Kaliko could makethe nomes work when their King could not, for the nomes hated Ruggedoand there were so many thousands of the quaint little undergroundpeople that they could easily have rebelled and defied the King hadthey dared to do so. Sometimes, when Ruggedo abused them worse thanusual, they grew sullen and threw down their hammers and picks. Then,however hard the King scolded or whipped them, they would not workuntil Kaliko came and begged them to. For Kaliko was one of themselvesand was as much abused by the King as any nome in the vast series ofcaverns.
But to-day all the little people were working industriously at theirtasks and Ruggedo, having nothing to do, was greatly bored. He sent forthe Long-Eared Hearer and asked him to listen carefully and report whatwas going on in the big world.
"It seems," said the Hearer, after listening for awhile, "that thewomen in America have clubs."
"Are there spikes in them?" asked Ruggedo, yawning.
"I cannot hear any spikes, Your Majesty," was the reply.
"Then their clubs are not as good as my sceptre. What else do you hear?'
"There's a war.
"Bah! there's always a war. What else?"
For a time the Hearer was silent, bending forward and spreading out hisbig ears to catch the slightest sound. Then suddenly he said:
"Here is an interesting thing, Your Majesty. These people are arguingas to who shall conquer the Metal Monarch, seize his treasure and drivehim from his dominions."
"What people?" demanded Ruggedo, sitting up straight in his throne.
"The ones you threw down the Hollow Tube."
"Where are they now?"
"In the same Tube, and coming back this way," said the Hearer.
Ruggedo got out of his throne and began to pace up and down the cavern.
"I wonder what can be done to stop them," he mused.
"Well," said the Hearer, "if you could turn the Tube upside down, theywould be falling the other way, Your Majesty."
Ruggedo glared at him wickedly, for it was impossible to turn the Tubeupside down and he believed the Hearer was slyly poking fun at him.Presently he asked:
"How far away are those people now?"
"About nine thousand three hundred and six miles, seventeen furlongs,eight feet and four inches--as nearly as I can judge from the sound oftheir voices," replied the Hearer.
"Aha! Then it will be some time before they arrive," said Ruggedo, "andwhen they get here I shall be ready to receive them."
He rushed to his gong and pounded upon it so fiercely that Kaliko camebounding into the cavern with one shoe off and one shoe on, for he wasjust dressing himself after a swim in the hot bubbling lake of theUnderground Kingdom.
"Kaliko, those invaders whom we threw down the Tube are coming backagain!" he exclaimed.
"I thought they would," said the Royal Chamberlain, pulling on theother shoe. "Tititi-Hoochoo would not allow them to remain in hiskingdom, of course, and so I've been expecting them back for some time.That was a very foolish action of yours, Rug."
"What, to throw them down the Tube?"
"Yes. Tititi-Hoochoo has forbidden us to throw even rubbish into theTube."
"Pooh! what do I care for the Jinjin?" asked Ruggedo scornfully. "Henever leaves his own kingdom, which is on the other side of the world."
"True; but he might send some one through the Tube to punish you,"suggested Kaliko.
"I'd like to see him do it! Who could conquer my thousands of nomes?"
"Why, they've been conquered before, if I remember aright," answeredKaliko with a grin. "Once I saw you running from a little girl namedDorothy, and her friends, as if you were really afraid."
"Well, I was afraid, that time," admitted the Nome King, with a deepsigh, "for Dorothy had a Yellow Hen that laid eggs!"
The King shuddered as he said "eggs," and Kaliko also shuddered, and sodid the Long-Eared Hearer; for eggs are the only things that the nomesgreatly dread. The reason for this is that eggs belong on the earth'ssurface, where birds and fowl of all sorts live, and there is somethingabout a hen's egg, especially, that fills a nome with horror. If bychance the inside of an egg touches one of these underground people, hewithers up and blows away and that is the end of him--unless he managesquickly to speak a magical word which only a few of the nomes know.Therefore Ruggedo and his followers had very good cause to shudder atthe mere mention of eggs.
"But Dorothy," said the King, "is not with this band of invaders; noris the Yellow Hen. As for Tititi-Hoochoo, he has no means of knowingthat we are afraid of eggs."
"You mustn't be too sure of that," Kaliko warned him. "Tititi-Hoochooknows a great many things, being a fairy, and his powers are farsuperior to any we can boast."
Ruggedo shrugged impatiently and turned to the Hearer.
"Listen," said he, "and tell me if you hear any eggs coming through theTube."
The Long-Eared one listened and then shook his head. But Kaliko laughedat the King.
"No one can hear an egg, Your Majesty," said he. "The only way todiscover the truth is to look through the Magic Spyglass."
"That's it!" cried the King. "Why didn't I think of it before? Look atonce, Kaliko!"
So Kaliko went to the Spyglass and by uttering a mumbled charm hecaused the other end of it to twist around, so that it pointed down theopening of the Tube. Then he put his eye to the glass and was able togaze along all the turns and windings of the Magic Spyglass and thendeep into the Tube, to where our friends were at that time falling.
"Dear me!" he exclaimed. "Here comes a dragon."
"A big one?" asked Ruggedo.
"A monster. He has an electric light on the end of his tail, so I cansee him very plainly. And the other people are all riding upon hisback."
"How about the eggs?" inquired the King.
Kaliko looked again.
"I can see no eggs at all," said he; "but I imagine that the dragon isas dangerous as eggs. Probably Tititi-Hoochoo has sent him here topunish you for dropping those strangers into the Forbidden Tube. Iwarned you not to do it, Your Majesty."
This news made the Nome King anxious. For a few minutes he paced up anddown, stroking his long beard and thinking with all his might. Afterthis he turned to Kaliko and said:
"All the harm a dragon can do is to scratch with his claws and bitewith his teeth."
"That is not all, but it's quite enough," returned Kaliko earnestly."On the other hand, no one can hurt a dragon, because he's the toughestcreature alive. One flop of his huge tail could smash a hundred nomesto pancakes, and with teeth and claws he could tear even you or me intosmall bits, so that it would be almost impossible to put us togetheragain. Once, a few hundred years ago, while wandering through somedeserted caverns, I came upon a small piece of a nome lying on therocky floor. I asked the piece of nome what had happened to it.Fortunately the mouth was a part of this piece--the mouth and the lefteye--so it was able to tell me that a fierce dragon was the cause. Ithad attacked the poor nome and scattered him in every direction, and asthere was no friend near to collect his pieces and put him together,they had been separated for a great many years. So you see, YourMajesty, it is not in good taste to sneer at a dragon."
The King had listened attentively to Kaliko. Said he:
"It will only be necessary to chain this dragon which Tititi-Hoochoohas sent here, in order to prevent his reaching us with his claws andteeth."
"He also breathes flames," Kaliko reminded him.
"My nomes are not afraid of fire, nor am I," said Ruggedo.
"Well, how about the Army of Oogaboo?"
"Sixteen cowardly officers and Tik-Tok! Why, I could defeat themsingle-handed; but I won't try to. I'll summon my army of nomes todrive the invaders out of my territory, and if we catch any of them Iintend to stick needles into them until they hop with pain."
"I hope you won't hurt any of the girls," said Kaliko.
"I'll hurt 'em all!" roared the angry Metal Monarch. "And that brayingMule I'll make into hoof-soup, and feed it to my nomes, that it may addto their strength."
"Why not be good to the strangers and release your prisoner, the ShaggyMan's brother?" suggested Kaliko.
"It may save you a lot of annoyance. And you don't want the Ugly One."
"I don't want him; that's true. But I won't allow anybody to order mearound. I'm King of the Nomes and I'm the Metal Monarch, and I shall doas I please and what I please and when I please!"
With this speech Ruggedo threw his sceptre at Kaliko's head, aiming itso well that the Royal Chamberlain had to fall flat upon the floor inorder to escape it. But the Hearer did not see the sceptre coming andit swept past his head so closely that it broke off the tip of one ofhis long ears. He gave a dreadful yell that quite startled Ruggedo, andthe King was sorry for the accident because those long ears of theHearer were really valuable to him.
So the Nome King forgot to be angry with Kaliko and ordered hisChamberlain to summon General Guph and the army of nomes and have themproperly armed. They were then to march to the mouth of the Tube, wherethey could seize the travelers as soon as they appeared.
The Dragon Defies Danger
Although the journey through the Tube was longer, this time, thanbefore, it was so much more comfortable that none of our friends mindedit at all. They talked together most of the time and as they found thedragon good-natured and fond of the sound of his own voice they soonbecame well acquainted with him and accepted him as a companion.
"You see," said Shaggy, in his frank way, "Quox is on our side, andtherefore the dragon is a good fellow. If he happened to be an enemy,instead of a friend, I am sure I should dislike him very much, for hisbreath smells of brimstone, he is very conceited and he is so strongand fierce that he would prove a dangerous foe."
"Yes, indeed," returned Quox, who had listened to this speech withpleasure; "I suppose I am about as terrible as any living thing. I amglad you find me conceited, for that proves I know my good qualities.As for my breath smelling of brimstone, I really can't help it, and Ionce met a man whose breath smelled of onions, which I consider farworse."
"I don't," said Betsy; "I love onions.
"And I love brimstone," declared the dragon, "so don't let us quarrelover one another's peculiarities."
Saying this, he breathed a long breath and shot a flame fifty feet fromhis mouth. The brimstone made Betsy cough, but she remembered about theonions and said nothing.
They had no idea how far they had gone through the center of the earth,nor when to expect the trip to end. At one time the little girlremarked:
"I wonder when we'll reach the bottom of this hole. And isn't it funny,Shaggy Man, that what is the bottom to us now, was the top when we fellthe other way?"
"What puzzles me," said Files, "is that we are able to fall both ways."
"That," announced Tik-Tok, "is be-cause the world is round."
"Exactly," responded Shaggy. "The machinery in your head is in fineworking order, Tik-Tok. You know, Betsy, that there is such a thing asthe Attraction of Gravitation, which draws everything toward the centerof the earth. That is why we fall out of bed, and why everything clingsto the surface of the earth."
"Then why doesn't everyone go on down to the center of the earth?"inquired the little girl.
"I was afraid you were going to ask me that," replied Shaggy in a sadtone. "The reason, my dear, is that the earth is so solid that othersolid things can't get through it. But when there's a hole, as there isin this case, we drop right down to the center of the world."
"Why don't we stop there?" asked Betsy.
"Because we go so fast that we acquire speed enough to carry us rightup to the other end."
"I don't understand that, and it makes my head ache to try to figure itout," she said after some thought. "One thing draws us to the centerand another thing pushes us away from it. But--"
"Don't ask me why, please," interrupted the Shaggy Man. "If you can'tunderstand it, let it go at that."
"Do you understand it?" she inquired.
"All the magic isn't in fairyland," he said gravely. "There's lots ofmagic in all Nature, and you may see it as well in the United States,where you and I once lived, as you can here."
"I never did," she replied.
"Because you were so used to it all that you didn't realize it wasmagic. Is anything more wonderful than to see a flower grow andblossom, or to get light out of the electricity in the air? The cowsthat manufacture milk for us must have machinery fully as remarkable asthat in Tik-Tok's copper body, and perhaps you've noticed that--"
And then, before Shaggy could finish his speech, the strong light ofday suddenly broke upon them, grew brighter, and completely envelopedthem. The dragon's claws no longer scraped against the metal Tube, forhe shot into the open air a hundred feet or more and sailed so far awayfrom the slanting hole that when he landed it was on the peak of amountain and just over the entrance to the many underground caverns ofthe Nome King.
Some of the officers tumbled off their seats when Quox struck theground, but most of the dragon's passengers only felt a slight jar. Allwere glad to be on solid earth again and they at once dismounted andbegan to look about them. Queerly enough, as soon as they had left thedragon, the seats that were strapped to the monster's back disappeared,and this probably happened because there was no further use for themand because Quox looked far more dignified in just his silver scales.Of course he still wore the forty yards of ribbon around his neck, aswell as the great locket, but these only made him look "dressed up," asBetsy remarked.
Now the army of nomes had gathered thickly around the mouth of theTube, in order to be ready to capture the band of invaders as soon asthey popped out. There were, indeed, hundreds of nomes assembled, andthey were led by Guph, their most famous General. But they did notexpect the dragon to fly so high, and he shot out of the Tube sosuddenly that it took them by surprise. When the nomes had rubbed theastonishment out of their eyes and regained their wits, they discoveredthe dragon quietly seated on the mountainside far above their heads,while the other strangers were standing in a group and calmly lookingdown upon them.
General Guph was very angry at the escape, which was no one's fault buthis own.
"Come down here and be captured!" he shouted, waving his sword at them.
"Come up here and capture us--if you dare!" replied Queen Ann, who waswinding up the clockwork of her Private Soldier, so he could fight morebriskly.
Guph's first answer was a roar of rage at the defiance; then he turnedand issued a command to his nomes. These were all armed with sharpspears and with one accord they raised these spears and threw themstraight at their foes, so that they rushed through the air in aperfect cloud of flying weapons.
Some damage might have been done had not the dragon quickly crawledbefore the others, his body being so big that it shielded every one ofthem, including Hank. The spears rattled against the silver scales ofQuox and then fell harmlessly to the ground. They were magic spears, ofcourse, and all straightway bounded back into the hands of those whohad thrown them, but even Guph could see that it was useless to repeatthe attack.
It was now Queen Ann's turn to attack, so the Generals yelled"For--ward march!" and the Colonels and Majors and Captains repeatedthe command and the valiant Army of Oogaboo, which seemed to becomposed mainly of Tik-Tok, marched forward in single column toward thenomes, while Betsy and Polychrome cheered and Hank gave a loud"Hee-haw!" and Shaggy shouted "Hooray!" and Queen Ann screamed: "At'em, Tik-Tok--at 'em!"
The nomes did not await the Clockwork Man's attack but in a twinklingdisappeared into the underground caverns. They made a great mistake inbeing so hasty, for Tik-Tok had not taken a dozen steps before hestubbed his copper toe on a rock and fell flat to the ground, where hecried: "Pick me up! Pick me up! Pick me up!" until Shaggy and Files ranforward and raised him to his feet again.
The dragon chuckled softly to himself as he scratched his left ear withhis hind claw, but no one was paying much attention to Quox just then.
It was evident to Ann and her officers that there could be no fightingunless the enemy was present, and in order to find the enemy they mustboldly enter the underground Kingdom of the nomes. So bold a stepdemanded a council of war.
"Don't you think I'd better drop in on Ruggedo and obey the orders ofthe Jinjin?" asked Quox.
"By no means!" returned Queen Ann. "We have already put the army ofnomes to flight and all that yet remains is to force our way into thosecaverns, and conquer the Nome King and all his people."
"That seems to me something of a job," said the dragon, closing hiseyes sleepily. "But go ahead, if you like, and I'll wait here for you.Don't be in any hurry on my account. To one who lives thousands ofyears the delay of a few days means nothing at all, and I shallprobably sleep until the time comes for me to act."
Ann was provoked at this speech.
"You may as well go back to Tititi-Hoochoo now," she said, "for theNome King is as good as conquered already."
But Quox shook his head. "No," said he; "I'll wait."
The Naughty Nome
Shaggy Man had said nothing during the conversation between Queen Annand Quox, for the simple reason that he did not consider the matterworth an argument. Safe within his pocket reposed the Love Magnet,which had never failed to win every heart. The nomes, he knew, were notlike the heartless Roses and therefore could be won to his side as soonas he exhibited the magic talisman.
Shaggy's chief anxiety had been to reach Ruggedo's Kingdom and now thatthe entrance lay before him he was confident he would be able to rescuehis lost brother. Let Ann and the dragon quarrel as to who shouldconquer the nomes, if they liked; Shaggy would let them try, and ifthey failed he had the means of conquest in his own pocket.
But Ann was positive she could not fail, for she thought her Army coulddo anything. So she called the officers together and told them how toact, and she also instructed Tik-Tok what to do and what to say.
"Please do not shoot your gun except as a last resort," she added, "forI do not wish to be cruel or to shed any blood--unless it is absolutelynecessary."
"All right," replied Tik-Tok; "but I do not think Rug-ge-do would bleedif I filled him full of holes and put him in a ci-der press."
Then the officers fell in line, the four Generals abreast and then thefour Colonels and the four Majors and the four Captains. They drewtheir glittering swords and commanded Tik-Tok to march, which he did.Twice he fell down, being tripped by the rough rocks, but when hestruck the smooth path he got along better. Into the gloomy mouth ofthe cavern entrance he stepped without hesitation, and after himproudly pranced the officers and Queen Ann. The others held back alittle, waiting to see what would happen.
Of course the Nome King knew they were coming and was prepared toreceive them. Just within the rocky passage that led to the jeweledthrone-room was a deep pit, which was usually covered. Ruggedo hadordered the cover removed and it now stood open, scarcely visible inthe gloom.
The pit was so large around that it nearly filled the passage and therewas barely room for one to walk around it by pressing close to the rockwalls. This Tik-Tok did, for his copper eyes saw the pit clearly and heavoided it; but the officers marched straight into the hole and tumbledin a heap on the bottom. An instant later Queen Ann also walked intothe pit, for she had her chin in the air and was careless where sheplaced her feet. Then one of the nomes pulled a lever which replacedthe cover on the pit and made the officers of Oogaboo and their Queenfast prisoners.
As for Tik-Tok, he kept straight on to the cavern where Ruggedo sat inhis throne and there he faced the Nome King and said:
"I here-by con-quer you in the name of Queen Ann So-forth of Oo-ga-boo,whose Ar-my I am, and I de-clare that you are her pris-on-er!"
Ruggedo laughed at him.
"Where is this famous Queen?" he asked.
"She'll be here in a min-ute," said Tik-Tok. "Per-haps she stopped totie her shoe-string."
"Now, see here, Tik-Tok," began the Nome King, in a stern voice, "I'vehad enough of this nonsense. Your Queen and her officers are allprisoners, having fallen into my power, so perhaps you'll tell me whatyou mean to do."
"My or-ders were to con-quer you," replied Tik-Tok, "and myma-chin-er-y has done the best it knows how to car-ry out thoseor-ders."
Ruggedo pounded on his gong and Kaliko appeared, followed closely byGeneral Guph.
"Take this copper man into the shops and set him to work hammeringgold," commanded the King. "Being run by machinery he ought to be asteady worker. He ought never to have been made, but since he exists Ishall hereafter put him to good use."
"If you try to cap-ture me," said Tik-Tok, "I shall fight."
"Don't do that!" exclaimed General Guph, earnestly, "for it will beuseless to resist and you might hurt some one."
But Tik-Tok raised his gun and took aim and not knowing what damage thegun might do the nomes were afraid to face it.
While he was thus defying the Nome King and his high officials, BetsyBobbin rode calmly into the royal cavern, seated upon the back of Hankthe mule. The little girl had grown tired of waiting for "something tohappen" and so had come to see if Ruggedo had been conquered.
"Nails and nuggets!" roared the King; "how dare you bring that beasthere and enter my presence unannounced?"
"There wasn't anybody to announce me," replied Betsy. "I guess yourfolks were all busy. Are you conquered yet?"
"No!" shouted the King, almost beside himself with rage.
"Then please give me something to eat, for I'm awful hungry," said thegirl. "You see, this conquering business is a good deal like waitingfor a circus parade; it takes a long time to get around and don'tamount to much anyhow."
The nomes were so much astonished at this speech that for a time theycould only glare at her silently, not finding words to reply. The Kingfinally recovered the use of his tongue and said:
"Earth-crawler! this insolence to my majesty shall be yourdeath-warrant. You are an ordinary mortal, and to stop a mortal fromliving is so easy a thing to do that I will not keep you waiting halfso long as you did for my conquest."
"I'd rather you wouldn't stop me from living," remarked Betsy, gettingoff Hank's back and standing beside him. "And it would be a prettycheap King who killed a visitor while she was hungry. If you'll give mesomething to eat, I'll talk this killing business over with youafterward; only, I warn you now that I don't approve of it, and neverwill."
Her coolness and lack of fear impressed the Nome King, although he borean intense hatred toward all mortals.
"What do you wish to eat?" he asked gruffly.
"Oh, a ham-sandwich would do, or perhaps a couple of hard-boiled eggs--"
"Eggs!" shrieked the three nomes who were present, shuddering tilltheir teeth chattered.
"What's the matter?" asked Betsy wonderingly. "Are eggs as high here asthey are at home?"
"Guph," said the King in an agitated voice, turning to his General,"let us destroy this rash mortal at once! Seize her and take her to theSlimy Cave and lock her in."
Guph glanced at Tik-Tok, whose gun was still pointed, but just thenKaliko stole softly behind the copper man and kicked his knee-joints sothat they suddenly bent forward and tumbled Tik-Tok to the floor, hisgun falling from his grasp.
Then Guph, seeing Tik-Tok helpless, made a grab at Betsy. At the sametime Hank's heels shot out and caught the General just where his beltwas buckled. He rose into the air swift as a cannon-ball, struck theNome King fairly and flattened his Majesty against the wall of rock onthe opposite side of the cavern. Together they fell to the floor in adazed and crumpled condition, seeing which Kaliko whispered to Betsy:
"Come with me--quick!--and I will save you."
She looked into Kaliko's face inquiringly and thought he seemed honestand good-natured, so she decided to follow him. He led her and the mulethrough several passages and into a small cavern very nicely andcomfortably furnished.
"This is my own room," said he, "but you are quite welcome to use it.Wait here a minute and I'll get you something to eat."
When Kaliko returned he brought a tray containing some broiledmushrooms, a loaf of mineral bread and some petroleum-butter. Thebutter Betsy could not eat, but the bread was good and the mushroomsdelicious.
"Here's the door key," said Kaliko, "and you'd better lock yourself in."
"Won't you let Polychrome and the Rose Princess come here, too?" sheasked.
"I'll see. Where are they?"
"I don't know. I left them outside," said Betsy.
"Well, if you hear three raps on the door, open it," said Kaliko; "butdon't let anyone in unless they give the three raps."
"All right," promised Betsy, and when Kaliko left the cosy cavern sheclosed and locked the door.
In the meantime Ann and her officers, finding themselves prisoners inthe pit, had shouted and screamed until they were tired out, but no onehad come to their assistance. It was very dark and damp in the pit andthey could not climb out because the walls were higher than their headsand the cover was on. The Queen was first angry and then annoyed andthen discouraged; but the officers were only afraid. Every one of thepoor fellows heartily wished he was back in Oogaboo caring for hisorchard, and some were so unhappy that they began to reproach Ann forcausing them all this trouble and danger.
Finally the Queen sat down on the bottom of the pit and leaned her backagainst the wall. By good luck her sharp elbow touched a secret springin the wall and a big flat rock swung inward. Ann fell over backward,but the next instant she jumped up and cried to the others:
"A passage! A passage! Follow me, my brave men, and we may yet escape."
Then she began to crawl through the passage, which was as dark and dankas the pit, and the officers followed her in single file. They crawled,and they crawled, and they kept on crawling, for the passage was notbig enough to allow them to stand upright. It turned this way andtwisted that, sometimes like a corkscrew and sometimes zigzag, butseldom ran for long in a straight line.
"It will never end--never!" moaned the officers, who were rubbing allthe skin off their knees on the rough rocks.
"It must end," retorted Ann courageously, "or it never would have beenmade. We don't know where it will lead us to, but any place is betterthan that loathsome pit."
So she crawled on, and the officers crawled on, and while they werecrawling through this awful underground passage Polychrome and Shaggyand Files and the Rose Princess, who were standing outside the entranceto Ruggedo's domains, were wondering what had become of them.
A Tragic Transformation
"Don't let us worry," said Shaggy to his companions, "for it may takethe Queen some time to conquer the Metal Monarch, as Tik-Tok has to doeverything in his slow, mechanical way."
"Do you suppose they are likely to fail?" asked the Rose Princess.
"I do, indeed," replied Shaggy. "This Nome King is really a powerfulfellow and has a legion of nomes to assist him, whereas our bold Queencommands a Clockwork Man and a band of faint-hearted officers."
"She ought to have let Quox do the conquering," said Polychrome,dancing lightly upon a point of rock and fluttering her beautifuldraperies. "But perhaps the dragon was wise to let her go first, forwhen she fails to conquer Ruggedo she may become more modest in herambitions."
"Where is the dragon now?" inquired Ozga.
"Up there on the rocks," replied Files. "Look, my dear; you may see himfrom here. He said he would take a little nap while we were mixing upwith Ruggedo, and he added that after we had gotten into trouble hewould wake up and conquer the Nome King in a jiffy, as his master theJinjin has ordered him to do."
"Quox means well," said Shaggy, "but I do not think we shall need hisservices; for just as soon as I am satisfied that Queen Ann and herarmy have failed to conquer Ruggedo, I shall enter the caverns and showthe King my Love Magnet. That he cannot resist; therefore the conquestwill be made with ease."
This speech of Shaggy Man's was overheard by the Long-Eared Hearer, whowas at that moment standing by Ruggedo's side. For when the King andGuph had recovered from Hank's kick and had picked themselves up, theirfirst act was to turn Tik-Tok on his back and put a heavy diamond ontop of him, so that he could not get up again. Then they carefully puthis gun in a corner of the cavern and the King sent Guph to fetch theLong-Eared Hearer.
The Hearer was still angry at Ruggedo for breaking his ear, but heacknowledged the Nome King to be his master and was ready to obey hiscommands. Therefore he repeated Shaggy's speech to the King, who atonce realized that his Kingdom was in grave danger. For Ruggedo knew ofthe Love Magnet and its powers and was horrified at the thought thatShaggy might show him the magic talisman and turn all the hatred in hisheart into love. Ruggedo was proud of his hatred and abhorred love ofany sort.
"Really," said he, "I'd rather he conquered and lose my wealth and myKingdom than gaze at that awful Love Magnet. What can I do to preventthe Shaggy Man from taking it out of his pocket?"
Kaliko returned to the cavern in time to overhear this question, andbeing a loyal nome and eager to serve his King, he answered by saying:
"If we can manage to bind the Shaggy Man's arms, tight to his body, hecould not get the Love Magnet out of his pocket."
"True!" cried the King in delight at this easy solution of the problem."Get at once a dozen nomes, with ropes, and place them in the passagewhere they can seize and bind Shaggy as soon as he enters."
This Kaliko did, and meanwhile the watchers outside the entrance weregrowing more and more uneasy about their friends.
"I don't worry so much about the Oogaboo people," said Polychrome, whohad grown sober with waiting, and perhaps a little nervous, "for theycould not be killed, even though Ruggedo might cause them muchsuffering and perhaps destroy them utterly. But we should not haveallowed Betsy and Hank to go alone into the caverns. The little girl ismortal and possesses no magic powers whatever, so if Ruggedo capturesher she will be wholly at his mercy."
"That is indeed true," replied Shaggy. "I wouldn't like to haveanything happen to dear little Betsy, so I believe I'll go in rightaway and put an end to all this worry."
"We may as well go with you," asserted Files, "for by means of the LoveMagnet, you can soon bring the Nome King to reason."
So it was decided to wait no longer. Shaggy walked through the entrancefirst, and after him came the others. They had no thought of danger tothemselves, and Shaggy, who was going along with his hands thrust intohis pockets, was much surprised when a rope shot out from the darknessand twined around his body, pinning down his arms so securely that hecould not even withdraw his hands from the pockets. Then appearedseveral grinning nomes, who speedily tied knots in the ropes and thenled the prisoner along the passage to the cavern. No attention was paidto the others, but Files and the Princess followed on after Shaggy,determined not to desert their friend and hoping that an opportunitymight arise to rescue him.
As for Polychrome, as soon as she saw that trouble had overtaken Shaggyshe turned and ran lightly back through the passage and out of theentrance. Then she easily leaped from rock to rock until she pausedbeside the great dragon, who lay fast asleep.
"Wake up, Quox!" she cried. "It is time for you to act."
But Quox did not wake up. He lay as one in a trance, absolutelymotionless, with his enormous eyes tight closed. The eyelids had bigsilver scales on them, like all the rest of his body.
Polychrome might have thought Quox was dead had she not known thatdragons do not die easily or had she not observed his huge bodyswelling as he breathed. She picked up a piece of rock and poundedagainst his eyelids with it, saying:
"Wake up, Quox--wake up!" But he would not waken.
"Dear me, how unfortunate!" sighed the lovely Rainbow's Daughter. "Iwonder what is the best and surest way to waken a dragon. All ourfriends may be captured and destroyed while this great beast liesasleep."
She walked around Quox two or three times, trying to discover sometender place on his body where a thump or a punch might be felt; but helay extended along the rocks with his chin flat upon the ground and hislegs drawn underneath his body, and all that one could see was histhick sky-blue skin--thicker than that of a rhinoceros--and his silverscales.
Then, despairing at last of wakening the beast, and worried over thefate of her friends, Polychrome again ran down to the entrance andhurried along the passage into the Nome King's cavern.
Here she found Ruggedo lolling in his throne and smoking a long pipe.Beside him stood General Guph and Kaliko, and ranged before the Kingwere the Rose Princess, Files and the Shaggy Man. Tik-Tok still layupon the floor, weighted down by the big diamond.
Ruggedo was now in a more contented frame of mind. One by one he hadmet the invaders and easily captured them. The dreaded Love Magnet wasindeed in Shaggy's pocket, only a few feet away from the King, butShaggy was powerless to show it and unless Ruggedo's eyes beheld thetalisman it could not affect him. As for Betsy Bobbin and her mule, hebelieved Kaliko had placed them in the Slimy Cave, while Ann and herofficers he thought safely imprisoned in the pit. Ruggedo had no fearof Files or Ozga, but to be on the safe side he had ordered goldenhandcuffs placed upon their wrists. These did not cause them any greatannoyance but prevented them from making an attack, had they beeninclined to do so.
The Nome King, thinking himself wholly master of the situation, waslaughing and jeering at his prisoners when Polychrome, exquisitelybeautiful and dancing like a ray of light, entered the cavern.
"Oho!" cried the King; "a Rainbow under ground, eh?" and then he staredhard at Polychrome, and still harder, and then he sat up and pulled thewrinkles out of his robe and arranged his whiskers. "On my word," saidhe, "you are a very captivating creature; moreover, I perceive you area fairy."
"I am Polychrome, the Rainbow's Daughter," she said proudly.
"Well," replied Ruggedo, "I like you. The others I hate. I hateeverybody--but you! Wouldn't you like to live always in this beautifulcavern, Polychrome? See! the jewels that stud the walls have every tintand color of your Rainbow--and they are not so elusive. I'll have freshdewdrops gathered for your feasting every day and you shall be Queen ofall my nomes and pull Kaliko's nose whenever you like."
"No, thank you," laughed Polychrome. "My home is in the sky, and I'monly on a visit to this solid, sordid earth. But tell me, Ruggedo, whymy friends have been wound with cords and bound with chains?"
"They threatened me," answered Ruggedo. "The fools did not know howpowerful I am."
"Then, since they are now helpless, why not release them and send themback to the earth's surface?"
"Because I hate 'em and mean to make 'em suffer for their invasion. ButI'll make a bargain with you, sweet Polly. Remain here and live with meand I'll set all these people free. You shall be my daughter or my wifeor my aunt or grandmother--whichever you like--only stay here tobrighten my gloomy kingdom and make me happy!"
Polychrome looked at him wonderingly. Then she turned to Shaggy andasked:
"Are you sure he hasn't seen the Love Magnet?"
"I'm positive," answered Shaggy. "But you seem to be something of aLove Magnet yourself, Polychrome."
She laughed again and said to Ruggedo: "Not even to rescue my friendswould I live in your kingdom. Nor could I endure for long the societyof such a wicked monster as you."
"You forget," retorted the King, scowling darkly, "that you also are inmy power."
"Not so, Ruggedo. The Rainbow's Daughter is beyond the reach of yourspite or malice."
"Seize her!" suddenly shouted the King, and General Guph sprang forwardto obey. Polychrome stood quite still, yet when Guph attempted toclutch her his hands met in air, and now the Rainbow's Daughter was inanother part of the room, as smiling and composed as before.
Several times Guph endeavored to capture her and Ruggedo even came downfrom his throne to assist his General; but never could they lay handsupon the lovely sky fairy, who flitted here and there with theswiftness of light and constantly defied them with her merry laughteras she evaded their efforts.
So after a time they abandoned the chase and Ruggedo returned to histhrone and wiped the perspiration from his face with a finely-wovenhandkerchief of cloth-of-gold.
"Well," said Polychrome, "what do you intend to do now?"
"I'm going to have some fun, to repay me for all my bother," repliedthe Nome King. Then he said to Kaliko: "Summon the executioners."
Kaliko at once withdrew and presently returned with a score of nomes,all of whom were nearly as evil looking as their hated master. Theybore great golden pincers, and prods of silver, and clamps and chainsand various wicked-looking instruments, all made of precious metals andset with diamonds and rubies.
"Now, Pang," said Ruggedo, addressing the leader of the executioners,"fetch the Army of Oogaboo and their Queen from the pit and torturethem here in my presence--as well as in the presence of their friends.It will be great sport."
"I hear Your Majesty, and I obey Your Majesty," answered Pang, and wentwith his nomes into the passage. In a few minutes he returned and bowedto Ruggedo.
"They're all gone," said he.
"Gone!" exclaimed the Nome King. "Gone where?"
"They left no address, Your Majesty; but they are not in the pit."
"Picks and puddles!" roared the King; "who took the cover off?"
"No one," said Pang. "The cover was there, but the prisoners were notunder it."
"In that case," snarled the King, trying to control his disappointment,"go to the Slimy Cave and fetch hither the girl and the donkey. Andwhile we are torturing them Kaliko must take a hundred nomes and searchfor the escaped prisoners--the Queen of Oogaboo and her officers. If hedoes not find them, I will torture Kaliko."
Kaliko went away looking sad and disturbed, for he knew the King wascruel and unjust enough to carry out this threat. Pang and theexecutioners also went away, in another direction, but when they cameback Betsy Bobbin was not with them, nor was Hank.
"There is no one in the Slimy Cave, Your Majesty," reported Pang.
"Jumping jellycakes!" screamed the King. "Another escape? Are you sureyou found the right cave?"
"There is but one Slimy Cave, and there is no one in it," returned Pangpositively.
Ruggedo was beginning to be alarmed as well as angry. However, thesedisappointments but made him the more vindictive and he cast an evillook at the other prisoners and said:
"Never mind the girl and the donkey. Here are four, at least, whocannot escape my vengeance. Let me see; I believe I'll change my mindabout Tik-Tok. Have the gold crucible heated to a white, seething heat,and then we'll dump the copper man into it and melt him up."
"But, Your Majesty," protested Kaliko, who had returned to the roomafter sending a hundred nomes to search for the Oogaboo people, "youmust remember that Tik-Tok is a very curious and interesting machine.It would be a shame to deprive the world of such a clever contrivance."
"Say another word, and you'll go into the furnace with him!" roared theKing. "I'm getting tired of you, Kaliko, and the first thing you knowI'll turn you into a potato and make Saratoga-chips of you! The next toconsider," he added more mildly, "is the Shaggy Man. As he owns theLove Magnet, I think I'll transform him into a dove, and then we canpractice shooting at him with Tik-Tok's gun. Now, this is a veryinteresting ceremony and I beg you all to watch me closely and see thatI've nothing up my sleeve."
He came out of his throne to stand before the Shaggy Man, and then hewaved his hands, palms downward, in seven semicircles over his victim'shead, saying in a low but clear tone of voice the magic wugwa:
"Adi, edi, idi, odi, udi, oo-i-oo! Idu, ido, idi, ide, ida, woo!"
The effect of this well-known sorcery was instantaneous. Instead of theShaggy Man, a pretty dove lay fluttering upon the floor, its wingsconfined by tiny cords wound around them. Ruggedo gave an order toPang, who cut the cords with a pair of scissors. Being freed, the dovequickly flew upward and alighted on the shoulder of the Rose Princess,who stroked it tenderly.
"Very good! Very good!" cried Ruggedo, rubbing his hands gleefullytogether. "One enemy is out of my way, and now for the others."
(Perhaps my readers should be warned not to attempt the abovetransformation; for, although the exact magical formula has beendescribed, it is unlawful in all civilized countries for anyone totransform a person into a dove by muttering the words Ruggedo used.There were no laws to prevent the Nome King from performing thistransformation, but if it should be attempted in any other country, andthe magic worked, the magician would be severely punished.)
When Polychrome saw Shaggy Man transformed into a dove and realizedthat Ruggedo was about do something as dreadful to the Princess andFiles, and that Tik-Tok would soon be melted in a crucible, she turnedand ran from the cavern, through the passage and back to the placewhere Quox lay asleep.
A Clever Conquest
The great dragon still had his eyes closed and was even snoring in amanner that resembled distant thunder; but Polychrome was nowdesperate, because any further delay meant the destruction of herfriends. She seized the pearl necklace, to which was attached the greatlocket, and jerked it with all her strength.
The result was encouraging. Quox stopped snoring and his eyelidsflickered. So Polychrome jerked again--and again--till slowly the greatlids raised and the dragon looked at her steadily. Said he, in a sleepytone:
"What's the matter, little Rainbow?"
"Come quick!" exclaimed Polychrome. "Ruggedo has captured all ourfriends and is about to destroy them."
"Well, well," said Quox, "I suspected that would happen. Step a littleout of my path, my dear, and I'll make a rush for the Nome King'scavern."
She fell back a few steps and Quox raised himself on his stout legs,whisked his long tail and in an instant had slid down the rocks andmade a dive through the entrance.
Along the passage he swept, nearly filling it with his immense body,and now he poked his head into the jeweled cavern of Ruggedo.
But the King had long since made arrangements to capture the dragon,whenever he might appear. No sooner did Quox stick his head into theroom than a thick chain fell from above and encircled his neck. Thenthe ends of the chain were drawn tight--for in an adjoining cavern athousand nomes were pulling on them--and so the dragon could advance nofurther toward the King. He could not use his teeth or his claws and ashis body was still in the passage he had not even room to strike hisfoes with his terrible tail.
Ruggedo was delighted with the success of his stratagem. He had justtransformed the Rose Princess into a fiddle and was about to transformFiles into a fiddle bow, when the dragon appeared to interrupt him. Sohe called out:
"Welcome, my dear Quox, to my royal entertainment. Since you are here,you shall witness some very neat magic, and after I have finished withFiles and Tik-Tok I mean to transform you into a tiny lizard--one ofthe chameleon sort--and you shall live in my cavern and amuse me."
"Pardon me for contradicting Your Majesty," returned Quox in a quietvoice, "but I don't believe you'll perform any more magic."
"Eh? Why not?" asked the King in surprise.
"There's a reason," said Quox. "Do you see this ribbon around my neck?"
"Yes; and I'm astonished that a dignified dragon should wear such asilly thing."
"Do you see it plainly?" persisted the dragon, with a little chuckle ofamusement.
"I do," declared Ruggedo.
"Then you no longer possess any magical powers, and are as helpless asa clam," asserted Quox. "My great master, Tititi-Hoochoo, the Jinjin,enchanted this ribbon in such a way that whenever Your Majesty lookedupon it all knowledge of magic would desert you instantly, nor will anymagical formula you can remember ever perform your bidding."
"Pooh! I don't believe a word of it!" cried Ruggedo, half frightened,nevertheless. Then he turned toward Files and tried to transform himinto a fiddle bow. But he could not remember the right words or theright pass of the hands and after several trials he finally gave up theattempt.
By this time the Nome King was so alarmed that he was secretly shakingin his shoes.
"I told you not to anger Tititi-Hoochoo," grumbled Kaliko, "and now yousee the result of your disobedience."
Ruggedo promptly threw his sceptre at his Royal Chamberlain, who dodgedit with his usual cleverness, and then he said with an attempt toswagger:
"Never mind; I don't need magic to enable me to destroy these invaders;fire and the sword will do the business and I am still King of theNomes and lord and master of my Underground Kingdom!"
"Again I beg to differ with Your Majesty," said Quox. "The Great Jinjincommands you to depart instantly from this Kingdom and seek the earth'ssurface, where you will wander for all time to come, without a home orcountry, without a friend or follower, and without any more riches thanyou can carry with you in your pockets. The Great Jinjin is so generousthat he will allow you to fill your pockets with jewels or gold, butyou must take nothing more."
Ruggedo now stared at the dragon in amazement.
"Does Tititi-Hoochoo condemn me to such a fate?" he asked in a hoarsevoice.
"He does," said Quox.
"And just for throwing a few strangers down the Forbidden Tube?"
"Just for that," repeated Quox in a stern, gruff voice.
"Well, I won't do it. And your crazy old Jinjin can't make me do it,either!" declared Ruggedo. "I intend to remain here, King of the Nomes,until the end of the world, and I defy your Tititi-Hoochoo and all hisfairies--as well as his clumsy messenger, whom I have been obliged tochain up!"
The dragon smiled again, but it was not the sort of smile that madeRuggedo feel very happy. Instead, there was something so cold andmerciless in the dragon's expression that the condemned Nome Kingtrembled and was sick at heart.
There was little comfort for Ruggedo in the fact that the dragon wasnow chained, although he had boasted of it. He glared at the immensehead of Quox as if fascinated and there was fear in the old King's eyesas he watched his enemy's movements.
For the dragon was now moving; not abruptly, but as if he had somethingto do and was about to do it. Very deliberately he raised one claw,touched the catch of the great jeweled locket that was suspended aroundhis neck, and at once it opened wide.
Nothing much happened at first; half a dozen hen's eggs rolled out uponthe floor and then the locket closed with a sharp click. But the effectupon the nomes of this simple thing was astounding. General Guph,Kaliko, Pang and his band of executioners were all standing close tothe door that led to the vast series of underground caverns whichconstituted the dominions of the nomes, and as soon as they saw theeggs they raised a chorus of frantic screams and rushed through thedoor, slamming it in Ruggedo's face and placing a heavy bronze baracross it.
Ruggedo, dancing with terror and uttering loud cries, now leaped uponthe seat of his throne to escape the eggs, which had rolled steadilytoward him. Perhaps these eggs, sent by the wise and craftyTititi-Hoochoo, were in some way enchanted, for they all rolleddirectly after Ruggedo and when they reached the throne where he hadtaken refuge they began rolling up the legs to the seat.
This was too much for the King to bear. His horror of eggs was real andabsolute and he made a leap from the throne to the center of the roomand then ran to a far corner.
The eggs followed, rolling slowly but steadily in his direction.Ruggedo threw his sceptre at them, and then his ruby crown, and then hedrew off his heavy golden sandals and hurled these at the advancingeggs. But the eggs dodged every missile and continued to draw nearer.The King stood trembling, his eyes staring in terror, until they werebut half a yard distant; then with an agile leap he jumped clear overthem and made a rush for the passage that led to the outer entrance.
Of course the dragon was in his way, being chained in the passage withhis head in the cavern, but when he saw the King making toward him hecrouched as low as he could and dropped his chin to the floor, leavinga small space between his body and the roof of the passage.
Ruggedo did not hesitate an instant. Impelled by fear, he leaped to thedragon's nose and then scrambled to his back, where he succeeded insqueezing himself through the opening. After the head was passed therewas more room and he slid along the dragon's scales to his tail andthen ran as fast as his legs would carry him to the entrance. Notpausing here, so great was his fright, the King dashed on down themountain path, but before he had gone very far he stumbled and fell.
When he picked himself up he observed that no one was following him,and while he recovered his breath he happened to think of the decree ofthe Jinjin--that he should be driven from his Kingdom and made awanderer on the face of the earth. Well, here he was, driven from hiscavern in truth; driven by those dreadful eggs; but he would go backand defy them; he would not submit to losing his precious Kingdom andhis tyrannical powers, all because Tititi-Hoochoo had said he must.
So, although still afraid, Ruggedo nerved himself to creep back alongthe path to the entrance, and when he arrived there he saw the six eggslying in a row just before the arched opening.
At first he paused a safe distance away to consider the case, for theeggs were now motionless. While he was wondering what could be done, heremembered there was a magical charm which would destroy eggs andrender them harmless to nomes. There were nine passes to be made andsix verses of incantation to be recited; but Ruggedo knew them all. Nowthat he had ample time to be exact, he carefully went through theentire ceremony.
But nothing happened. The eggs did not disappear, as he had expected;so he repeated the charm a second time. When that also failed, heremembered, with a moan of despair, that his magic power had been takenaway from him and in the future he could do no more than any commonmortal.
And there were the eggs, forever barring him from the Kingdom which hehad ruled so long with absolute sway! He threw rocks at them, but couldnot hit a single egg. He raved and scolded and tore his hair and beard,and danced in helpless passion, but that did nothing to avert the justjudgment of the Jinjin, which Ruggedo's own evil deeds had brought uponhim.
From this time on he was an outcast--a wanderer upon the face of theearth--and he had even forgotten to fill his pockets with gold andjewels before he fled from his former Kingdom!
After the King had made good his escape Files said to the dragon, in asad voice:
"Alas! why did you not come before? Because you were sleeping insteadof conquering, the lovely Rose Princess has become a fiddle without abow, while poor Shaggy sits there a cooing dove!"
"Don't worry," replied Quox. "Tititi-Hoochoo knows his business, and Ihave my orders from the Great Jinjin himself. Bring the fiddle here andtouch it lightly to my pink ribbon."
Files obeyed and at the moment of contact with the ribbon the NomeKing's charm was broken and the Rose Princess herself stood before themas sweet and smiling as ever.
The dove, perched on the back of the throne, had seen and heard allthis, so without being told what to do it flew straight to the dragonand alighted on the ribbon. Next instant Shaggy was himself again andQuox said to him grumblingly:
"Please get off my left toe, Shaggy Man, and be more particular whereyou step."
"I beg your pardon!" replied Shaggy, very glad to resume his naturalform. Then he ran to lift the heavy diamond off Tik-Tok's chest and toassist the Clockwork Man to his feet.
"Ma-ny thanks!" said Tik-Tok. "Where is the wicked King who want-ed tomelt me in a cru-ci-ble?"
"He has gone, and gone for good," answered Polychrome, who had managedto squeeze into the room beside the dragon and had witnessed theoccurrences with much interest. "But I wonder where Betsy Bobbin andHank can be, and if any harm has befallen them."
"We must search the cavern until we find them," declared Shaggy; butwhen he went to the door leading to the other caverns he found it shutand barred.
"I've a pretty strong push in my forehead," said Quox, "and I believe Ican break down that door, even though it's made of solid gold."
"But you are a prisoner, and the chains that hold you are fastened insome other room, so that we cannot release you," Files said anxiously.
"Oh, never mind that," returned the dragon. "I have remained a prisoneronly because I wished to be one," and with this he stepped forward andburst the stout chains as easily as if they had been threads.
But when he tried to push in the heavy metal door, even his mightystrength failed, and after several attempts he gave it up and squattedhimself in a corner to think of a better way.
"I'll o-pen the door," asserted Tik-Tok, and going to the King's biggong he pounded upon it until the noise was almost deafening.
Kaliko, in the next cavern, was wondering what had happened to Ruggedoand if he had escaped the eggs and outwitted the dragon. But when heheard the sound of the gong, which had so often called him into theKing's presence, he decided that Ruggedo had been victorious; so hetook away the bar, threw open the door and entered the royal cavern.
Great was his astonishment to find the King gone and the enchantmentsremoved from the Princess and Shaggy. But the eggs were also gone andso Kaliko advanced to the dragon, whom he knew to be Tititi-Hoochoo'smessenger, and bowed humbly before the beast.
"What is your will?" he inquired.
"Where is Betsy?" demanded the dragon.
"Safe in my own private room," said Kaliko.
"Go and get her!" commanded Quox.
So Kaliko went to Betsy's room and gave three raps upon the door. Thelittle girl had been asleep, but she heard the raps and opened the door.
"You may come out now," said Kaliko. "The King has fled in disgrace andyour friends are asking for you."
So Betsy and Hank returned with the Royal Chamberlain to the thronecavern, where she was received with great joy by her friends. They toldher what had happened to Ruggedo and she told them how kind Kaliko hadbeen to her. Quox did not have much to say until the conversation wasended, but then he turned to Kaliko and asked:
"Do you suppose you could rule your nomes better than Ruggedo has done?"
"Me?" stammered the Chamberlain, greatly surprised by the question."Well, I couldn't be a worse King, I'm sure."
"Would the nomes obey you?" inquired the dragon.
"Of course," said Kaliko. "They like me better than ever they didRuggedo."
"Then hereafter you shall be the Metal Monarch, King of the Nomes, andTititi-Hoochoo expects you to rule your Kingdom wisely and well," saidQuox.
"Hooray!" cried Betsy; "I'm glad of that. King Kaliko, I salute YourMajesty and wish you joy in your gloomy old Kingdom!"
"We all wish him joy," said Polychrome; and then the others made hasteto congratulate the new King.
"Will you release my dear brother?" asked Shaggy.
"The Ugly One? Very willingly," replied Kaliko. "I begged Ruggedo longago to send him away, but he would not do so. I also offered to helpyour brother to escape, but he would not go."
"He's so conscientious!" said Shaggy, highly pleased. "All of ourfamily have noble natures. But is my dear brother well?" he addedanxiously.
"He eats and sleeps very steadily," replied the new King.
"I hope he doesn't work too hard," said Shaggy.
"He doesn't work at all. In fact, there is nothing he can do in thesedominions as well as our nomes, whose numbers are so great that itworries us to keep them all busy. So your brother has only to amusehimself."
"Why, it's more like visiting, than being a prisoner," asserted Betsy.
"Not exactly," returned Kaliko. "A prisoner cannot go where or when hepleases, and is not his own master."
"Where is my brother now?" inquired Shaggy.
"In the Metal Forest."
"Where is that?"
"The Metal Forest is in the Great Domed Cavern, the largest in all ourdominions," replied Kaliko. "It is almost like being out of doors, itis so big, and Ruggedo made the wonderful forest to amuse himself, aswell as to tire out his hard-working nomes. All the trees are gold andsilver and the ground is strewn with precious stones, so it is a sortof treasury."
"Let us go there at once and rescue my dear brother," pleaded Shaggyearnestly.
"I don't believe I can find the way," said he. "Ruggedo made threesecret passages to the Metal Forest, but he changes the location ofthese passages every week, so that no one can get to the Metal Forestwithout his permission. However, if we look sharp, we may be able todiscover one of these secret ways."
"That reminds me to ask what has become of Queen Ann and the Officersof Oogaboo," said Files.
"I'm sure I can't say," replied Kaliko.
"Do you suppose Ruggedo destroyed them?"
"Oh, no; I'm quite sure he didn't. They fell into the big pit in thepassage, and we put the cover on to keep them there; but when theexecutioners went to look for them they had all disappeared from thepit and we could find no trace of them."
"That's funny," remarked Betsy thoughtfully. "I don't believe Ann knewany magic, or she'd have worked it before. But to disappear like thatseems like magic; now, doesn't it?"
They agreed that it did, but no one could explain the mystery.
"However," said Shaggy, "they are gone, that is certain, so we cannothelp them or be helped by them. And the important thing just now is torescue my dear brother from captivity."
"Why do they call him the Ugly One?" asked Betsy.
"I do not know," confessed Shaggy. "I can not remember his looks verywell, it is so long since I have seen him; but all of our family arenoted for their handsome faces."
Betsy laughed and Shaggy seemed rather hurt; but Polychrome relievedhis embarrassment by saying softly: "One can be ugly in looks, butlovely in disposition."
"Our first task," said Shaggy, a little comforted by this remark, "isto find one of those secret passages to the Metal Forest."
"True," agreed Kaliko. "So I think I will assemble the chief nomes ofmy kingdom in this throne room and tell them that I am their new King.Then I can ask them to assist us in searching for the secret passages.
"That's a good idea," said the dragon, who seemed to be getting sleepyagain.
Kaliko went to the big gong and pounded on it just as Ruggedo used todo; but no one answered the summons.
"Of course not," said he, jumping up from the throne, where he hadseated himself. "That is my call, and I am still the Royal Chamberlain,and will be until I appoint another in my place."
So he ran out of the room and found Guph and told him to answer thesummons of the King's gong. Having returned to the royal cavern, Kalikofirst pounded the gong and then sat in the throne, wearing Ruggedo'sdiscarded ruby crown and holding in his hand the sceptre which Ruggedohad so often thrown at his head.
When Guph entered he was amazed.
"Better get out of that throne before old Ruggedo comes back," he saidwarningly.
"He isn't coming back, and I am now the King of the Nomes, in hisstead," announced Kaliko.
"All of which is quite true," asserted the dragon, and all of those whostood around the throne bowed respectfully to the new King.
Seeing this, Guph also bowed, for he was glad to be rid of such a hardmaster as Ruggedo. Then Kaliko, in quite a kingly way, informed Guphthat he was appointed the Royal Chamberlain, and promised not to throwthe sceptre at his head unless he deserved it.
All this being pleasantly arranged, the new Chamberlain went away totell the news to all the nomes of the underground Kingdom, every one ofwhom would be delighted with the change in Kings.
Quox Quietly Quits
When the chief nomes assembled before their new King they joyfullysaluted him and promised to obey his commands. But, when Kalikoquestioned them, none knew the way to the Metal Forest, although allhad assisted in its making. So the King instructed them to searchcarefully for one of the passages and to bring him the news as soon asthey had found it.
Meantime Quox had managed to back out of the rocky corridor and soregain the open air and his old station on the mountain-side, and therehe lay upon the rocks, sound asleep, until the next day. The others ofthe party were all given as good rooms as the caverns of the nomesafforded, for King Kaliko felt that he was indebted to them for hispromotion and was anxious to be as hospitable as he could.
Much wonderment had been caused by the absolute disappearance of thesixteen officers of Oogaboo and their Queen. Not a nome had seen them,nor were they discovered during the search for the passages leading tothe Metal Forest. Perhaps no one was unhappy over their loss, but allwere curious to know what had become of them.
On the next day, when our friends went to visit the dragon, Quox saidto them: "I must now bid you good-bye, for my mission here is finishedand I must depart for the other side of the world, where I belong."
"Will you go through the Tube again?" asked Betsy.
"To be sure. But it will be a lonely trip this time, with no one totalk to, and I cannot invite any of you to go with me. Therefore, assoon as I slide into the hole I shall go to sleep, and when I pop outat the other end I will wake up at home."
They thanked the dragon for befriending them and wished him a pleasantjourney. Also they sent their thanks to the great Jinjin, whose justcondemnation of Ruggedo had served their interests so well. Then Quoxyawned and stretched himself and ambled over to the Tube, into which heslid headforemost and disappeared.
They really felt as if they had lost a friend, for the dragon had beenboth kind and sociable during their brief acquaintance with him; butthey knew it was his duty to return to his own country. So they wentback to the caverns to renew the search for the hidden passages thatled to the forest, but for three days all efforts to find them provedin vain.
It was Polychrome's custom to go every day to the mountain and watchfor her father, the Rainbow, for she was growing tired with wanderingupon the earth and longed to rejoin her sisters in their sky palaces.And on the third day, while she sat motionless upon a point of rock,whom should she see slyly creeping up the mountain but Ruggedo!
The former King looked very forlorn. His clothes were soiled and tornand he had no sandals upon his feet or hat upon his head. Having lefthis crown and sceptre behind when he fled, the old nome no longerseemed kingly, but more like a beggerman.
Several times had Ruggedo crept up to the mouth of the caverns, only tofind the six eggs still on guard. He knew quite well that he mustaccept his fate and become a homeless wanderer, but his chief regretnow was that he had neglected to fill his pockets with gold and jewels.He was aware that a wanderer with wealth at his command would fare muchbetter than one who was a pauper, so he still loitered around thecaverns wherein he knew so much treasure was stored, hoping for achance to fill his pockets.
That was how he came to recollect the Metal Forest.
"Aha!" said he to himself, "I alone know the way to that Forest, andonce there I can fill my pockets with the finest jewels in all theworld."
He glanced at his pockets and was grieved to find them so small.Perhaps they might be enlarged, so that they would hold more. He knewof a poor woman who lived in a cottage at the foot of the mountain, sohe went to her and begged her to sew pockets all over his robe, payingher with the gift of a diamond ring which he had worn upon his finger.The woman was delighted to possess so valuable a ring and she sewed asmany pockets on Ruggedo's robe as she possibly could.
Then he returned up the mountain and, after gazing cautiously around tomake sure he was not observed, he touched a spring in a rock and itswung slowly backward, disclosing a broad passageway. This he entered,swinging the rock in place behind him.
However, Ruggedo had failed to look as carefully as he might have done,for Polychrome was seated only a little distance off and her clear eyesmarked exactly the manner in which Ruggedo had released the hiddenspring. So she rose and hurried into the cavern, where she told Kalikoand her friends of her discovery.
"I've no doubt that that is a way to the Metal Forest," exclaimedShaggy. "Come, let us follow Ruggedo at once and rescue my poorbrother!"
They agreed to this and King Kaliko called together a band of nomes toassist them by carrying torches to light their way.
"The Metal Forest has a brilliant light of its own," said he, "but thepassage across the valley is likely to be dark."
Polychrome easily found the rock and touched the spring, so in lessthan an hour after Ruggedo had entered they were all in the passage andfollowing swiftly after the former King.
"He means to rob the Forest, I'm sure," said Kaliko; "but he will findhe is no longer of any account in this Kingdom and I will have my nomesthrow him out."
"Then please throw him as hard as you can," said Betsy, "for hedeserves it. I don't mind an honest, out-an'-out enemy, who fightssquare; but changing girls into fiddles and ordering 'em put into SlimyCaves is mean and tricky, and Ruggedo doesn't deserve any sympathy. Butyou'll have to let him take as much treasure as he can get in hispockets, Kaliko."
"Yes, the Jinjin said so; but we won't miss it much. There is moretreasure in the Metal Forest than a million nomes could carry in theirpockets."
It was not difficult to walk through this passage, especially when thetorches lighted the way, so they made good progress. But it proved tobe a long distance and Betsy had tired herself with walking and wasseated upon the back of the mule when the passage made a sharp turn anda wonderful and glorious light burst upon them. The next moment theywere all standing upon the edge of the marvelous Metal Forest.
It lay under another mountain and occupied a great domed cavern, theroof of which was higher than a church steeple. In this space theindustrious nomes had built, during many years of labor, the mostbeautiful forest in the world. The trees--trunks, branches andleaves--were all of solid gold, while the bushes and underbrush wereformed of filigree silver, virgin pure. The trees towered as high asnatural live oaks do and were of exquisite workmanship.
On the ground were thickly strewn precious gems of every hue and size,while here and there among the trees were paths pebbled with cutdiamonds of the clearest water. Taken all together, more treasure wasgathered in this Metal Forest than is contained in all the rest of theworld--if we except the land of Oz, where perhaps its value is equalledin the famous Emerald City.
Our friends were so amazed at the sight that for a while they stoodgazing in silent wonder. Then Shaggy exclaimed.
"My brother! My dear lost brother! Is he indeed a prisoner in thisplace?"
"Yes," replied Kaliko. "The Ugly One has been here for two or threeyears, to my positive knowledge."
"But what could he find to eat?" inquired Betsy. "It's an awfully swellplace to live in, but one can't breakfast on rubies and di'monds, oreven gold."
"One doesn't need to, my dear," Kaliko assured her. "The Metal Forestdoes not fill all of this great cavern, by any means. Beyond these goldand silver trees are other trees of the real sort, which bear foodsvery nice to eat. Let us walk in that direction, for I am quite sure wewill find Shaggy's brother in that part of the cavern, rather than inthis."
So they began to tramp over the diamond-pebbled paths, and at everystep they were more and more bewildered by the wondrous beauty of thegolden trees with their glittering foliage.
Suddenly they heard a scream. Jewels scattered in every direction assome one hidden among the bushes scampered away before them. Then aloud voice cried: "Halt!" and there was the sound of a struggle.
A Bashful Brother
With fast beating hearts they all rushed forward and, beyond a group ofstately metal trees, came full upon a most astonishing scene.
There was Ruggedo in the hands of the officers of Oogaboo, a dozen ofwhom were clinging to the old nome and holding him fast in spite of hisefforts to escape. There also was Queen Ann, looking grimly upon thescene of strife; but when she observed her former companionsapproaching she turned away in a shamefaced manner.
For Ann and her officers were indeed a sight to behold. Her Majesty'sclothing, once so rich and gorgeous, was now worn and torn into shredsby her long crawl through the tunnel, which, by the way, had led herdirectly into the Metal Forest. It was, indeed, one of the three secretpassages, and by far the most difficult of the three. Ann had not onlytorn her pretty skirt and jacket, but her crown had become bent andbattered and even her shoes were so cut and slashed that they wereready to fall from her feet.
The officers had fared somewhat worse than their leader, for holes wereworn in the knees of their trousers, while sharp points of rock in theroof and sides of the tunnel had made rags of every inch of their oncebrilliant uniforms. A more tattered and woeful army never came out of abattle, than these harmless victims of the rocky passage. But it hadseemed their only means of escape from the cruel Nome King; so they hadcrawled on, regardless of their sufferings.
When they reached the Metal Forest their eyes beheld more plunder thanthey had ever dreamed of; yet they were prisoners in this huge dome andcould not escape with the riches heaped about them. Perhaps a moreunhappy and homesick lot of "conquerors" never existed than this bandfrom Oogaboo.
After several days of wandering in their marvelous prison they werefrightened by the discovery that Ruggedo had come among them. Rendereddesperate by their sad condition, the officers exhibited courage forthe first time since they left home and, ignorant of the fact thatRuggedo was no longer King of the nomes, they threw themselves upon himand had just succeeded in capturing him when their fellow adventurersreached the spot.
"Goodness gracious!" cried Betsy. "What has happened to you all?"
Ann came forward to greet them, sorrowful and indignant.
"We were obliged to escape from the pit through a small tunnel, whichwas lined with sharp and jagged rocks," said she, "and not only was ourclothing torn to rags but our flesh is so bruised and sore that we arestiff and lame in every joint. To add to our troubles we find we arestill prisoners; but now that we have succeeded in capturing the wickedMetal Monarch we shall force him to grant us our liberty."
"Ruggedo is no longer Metal Monarch, or King of the nomes," Filesinformed her. "He has been deposed and cast out of his kingdom by Quox;but here is the new King, whose name is Kaliko, and I am pleased toassure Your Majesty that he is our friend."
"Glad to meet Your Majesty, I'm sure," said Kaliko, bowing ascourteously as if the Queen still wore splendid raiment.
The officers, having heard this explanation, now set Ruggedo free; but,as he had no place to go, he stood by and faced his former servant, whowas now King in his place, in a humble and pleading manner.
"What are you doing here?" asked Kaliko sternly.
"Why, I was promised as much treasure as I could carry in my pockets,"replied Ruggedo; "so I came here to get it, not wishing to disturb YourMajesty."
"You were commanded to leave the country of the nomes forever!"declared Kaliko.
"I know; and I'll go as soon as I have filled my pockets," saidRuggedo, meekly.
"Then fill them, and be gone," returned the new King.
Ruggedo obeyed. Stooping down, he began gathering up jewels by thehandful and stuffing them into his many pockets. They were heavythings, these diamonds and rubies and emeralds and amethysts and thelike, so before long Ruggedo was staggering with the weight he bore,while the pockets were not yet filled. When he could no longer stoopover without falling, Betsy and Polychrome and the Rose Princess cameto his assistance, picking up the finest gems and tucking them into hispockets.
At last these were all filled and Ruggedo presented a comical sight,for surely no man ever before had so many pockets, or any at all filledwith such a choice collection of precious stones. He neglected to thankthe young ladies for their kindness, but gave them a surly nod offarewell and staggered down the path by the way he had come. They lethim depart in silence, for with all he had taken, the masses of jewelsupon the ground seemed scarcely to have been disturbed, so numerouswere they. Also they hoped they had seen the last of the degraded King.
"I'm awful glad he's gone," said Betsy, sighing deeply. "If he doesn'tget reckless and spend his wealth foolishly, he's got enough to start abank when he gets to Oklahoma."
"But my brother--my dear brother! Where is he?" inquired Shaggyanxiously. "Have you seen him, Queen Ann?"
"What does your brother look like?" asked the Queen.
Shaggy hesitated to reply, but Betsy said: "He's called the Ugly One.Perhaps you'll know him by that."
"The only person we have seen in this cavern," said Ann, "has run awayfrom us whenever we approached him. He hides over yonder, among thetrees that are not gold, and we have never been able to catch sight ofhis face. So I can not tell whether he is ugly or not."
"That must be my dear brother!" exclaimed Shaggy.
"Yes, it must be," assented Kaliko. "No one else inhabits this splendiddome, so there can be no mistake."
"But why does he hide among those green trees, instead of enjoying allthese glittery golden ones?" asked Betsy.
"Because he finds food among the natural trees," replied Kaliko, "and Iremember that he has built a little house there, to sleep in. As forthese glittery golden trees, I will admit they are very pretty at firstsight. One cannot fail to admire them, as well as the rich jewelsscattered beneath them; but if one has to look at them always, theybecome pretty tame."
"I believe that is true," declared Shaggy. "My dear brother is verywise to prefer real trees to the imitation ones. But come; let us gothere and find him."
Shaggy started for the green grove at once, and the others followedhim, being curious to witness the final rescue of his long-sought,long-lost brother.
Not far from the edge of the grove they came upon a small hut, cleverlymade of twigs and golden branches woven together. As they approachedthe place they caught a glimpse of a form that darted into the hut andslammed the door tight shut after him.
Shaggy Man ran to the door and cried aloud:
"Who calls," demanded a sad, hollow voice from within.
"It is Shaggy--your own loving brother--who has been searching for youa long time and has now come to rescue you."
"Too late!" replied the gloomy voice. "No one can rescue me now."
"Oh, but you are mistaken about that," said Shaggy. "There is a newKing of the nomes, named Kaliko, in Ruggedo's place, and he haspromised you shall go free."
"Free! I dare not go free!" said the Ugly One, in a voice of despair.
"Why not, Brother?" asked Shaggy, anxiously.
"Do you know what they have done to me?" came the answer through theclosed door.
"No. Tell me, Brother, what have they done?"
"When Ruggedo first captured me I was very handsome. Don't youremember, Shaggy?"
"Not very well, Brother; you were so young when I left home. But Iremember that mother thought you were beautiful."
"She was right! I am sure she was right," wailed the prisoner. "ButRuggedo wanted to injure me--to make me ugly in the eyes of all theworld--so he performed a wicked enchantment. I went to bedbeautiful--or you might say handsome--to be very modest I will merelyclaim that I was good-looking--and I wakened the next morning thehomeliest man in all the world! I am so repulsive that when I look in amirror I frighten myself."
"Poor Brother!" said Shaggy softly, and all the others were silent fromsympathy.
"I was so ashamed of my looks," continued the voice of Shaggy'sbrother, "that I tried to hide; but the cruel King Ruggedo forced me toappear before all the legion of nomes, to whom he said: 'Behold theUgly One!' But when the nomes saw my face they all fell to laughing andjeering, which prevented them from working at their tasks. Seeing this,Ruggedo became angry and pushed me into a tunnel, closing the rockentrance so that I could not get out. I followed the length of thetunnel until I reached this huge dome, where the marvelous Metal Foreststands, and here I have remained ever since."
"Poor Brother!" repeated Shaggy. "But I beg you now to come forth andface us, who are your friends. None here will laugh or jeer, howeverunhandsome you may be."
"No, indeed," they all added pleadingly.
But the Ugly One refused the invitation.
"I cannot," said he; "indeed, I cannot face strangers, ugly as I am."
Shaggy Man turned to the group surrounding him.
"What shall I do?" he asked in sorrowful tones. "I cannot leave my dearbrother here, and he refuses to come out of that house and face us."
"I'll tell you," replied Betsy. "Let him put on a mask."
"The very idea I was seeking!" exclaimed Shaggy joyfully; and then hecalled out: "Brother, put a mask over your face, and then none of uscan see what your features are like."
"I have no mask," answered the Ugly One.
"Look here," said Betsy; "he can use my handkerchief."
Shaggy looked at the little square of cloth and shook his head.
"It isn't big enough," he objected; "I'm sure it isn't big enough tohide a man's face. But he can use mine."
Saying this he took from his pocket his own handkerchief and went tothe door of the hut.
"Here, my Brother," he called, "take this handkerchief and make a maskof it. I will also pass you my knife, so that you may cut holes for theeyes, and then you must tie it over your face."
The door slowly opened, just far enough for the Ugly One to thrust outhis hand and take the handkerchief and the knife. Then it closed again.
"Don't forget a hole for your nose," cried Betsy. "You must breathe,you know."
For a time there was silence. Queen Ann and her army sat down upon theground to rest. Betsy sat on Hank's back. Polychrome danced lightly upand down the jeweled paths while Files and the Princess wanderedthrough the groves arm in arm. Tik-Tok, who never tired, stoodmotionless.
By and by a noise sounded from within the hut.
"Are you ready?" asked Shaggy.
"Yes, Brother," came the reply and the door was thrown open to allowthe Ugly One to step forth.
Betsy might have laughed aloud had she not remembered how sensitive toridicule Shaggy's brother was, for the handkerchief with which he hadmasked his features was a red one covered with big white polka dots. Inthis two holes had been cut--in front of the eyes--while two smallerones before the nostrils allowed the man to breathe freely. The clothwas then tightly drawn over the Ugly One's face and knotted at the backof his neck.
He was dressed in clothes that had once been good, but now were sadlyworn and frayed. His silk stockings had holes in them, and his shoeswere stub-toed and needed blackening. "But what can you expect,"whispered Betsy, "when the poor man has been a prisoner for so manyyears?"
Shaggy had darted forward, and embraced his newly found brother withboth his arms. The brother also embraced Shaggy, who then led himforward and introduced him to all the assembled company.
"This is the new Nome King," he said when he came to Kaliko. "He is ourfriend, and has granted you your freedom."
"That is a kindly deed," replied Ugly in a sad voice, "but I dread togo back to the world in this direful condition. Unless I remain forevermasked, my dreadful face would curdle all the milk and stop all theclocks."
"Can't the enchantment be broken in some way?" inquired Betsy.
Shaggy looked anxiously at Kaliko, who shook his head.
"I am sure I can't break the enchantment," he said. "Ruggedo was fondof magic, and learned a good many enchantments that we nomes knownothing of."
"Perhaps Ruggedo himself might break his own enchantment," suggestedAnn; "but unfortunately we have allowed the old King to escape."
"Never mind, my dear Brother," said Shaggy consolingly; "I am veryhappy to have found you again, although I may never see your face. Solet us make the most of this joyful reunion."
The Ugly One was affected to tears by this tender speech, and the tearsbegan to wet the red handkerchief; so Shaggy gently wiped them awaywith his coat sleeve.
"Won't you be dreadful sorry to leave this lovely place?" Betsy askedthe Ugly One.
"No, indeed," said he. "Jewels and gold are cold and heartless things,and I am sure I would presently have died of loneliness had I not foundthe natural forest at the edge of the artificial one. Anyhow, withoutthese real trees I should soon have starved to death."
Betsy looked around at the quaint trees.
"I don't just understand that," she admitted. "What could you find toeat here."
"The best food in the world," Ugly answered. "Do you see that grove atyour left?" he added, pointing it out; "well, such trees as those donot grow in your country, or in any other place but this cavern. I havenamed them 'Hotel Trees,' because they bear a certain kind of tabled'hote fruit called 'Three-Course Nuts.'"
"That's funny!" said Betsy. "What are the 'Three-Course Nuts' like?"
"Something like cocoanuts, to look at," explained the Ugly One. "Allyou have to do is to pick one of them and then sit down and eat yourdinner. You first unscrew the top part and find a cupfull of good soup.After you've eaten that, you unscrew the middle part and find a hollowfilled with meat and potatoes, vegetables and a fine salad. Eat that,and unscrew the next section, and you come to the dessert in the bottomof the nut. That is, pie and cake, cheese and crackers, and nuts andraisins. The Three-Course Nuts are not all exactly alike in flavor orin contents, but they are all good and in each one may be found acomplete three-course dinner."
"But how about breakfasts?" inquired Betsy.
"Why, there are Breakfast Trees for that, which grow over there at theright. They bear nuts, like the others, only the nuts contain coffee orchocolate, instead of soup; oatmeal instead of meat-and-potatoes, andfruits instead of dessert. Sad as has been my life in this wonderfulprison, I must admit that no one could live more luxuriously in thebest hotel in the world than I have lived here; but I will be glad toget into the open air again and see the good old sun and the silverymoon and the soft green grass and the flowers that are kissed by themorning dew. Ah, how much more lovely are those blessed things than theglitter of gems or the cold gleam of gold!"
"Of course," said Betsy. "I once knew a little boy who wanted to catchthe measles, because all the little boys in his neighborhood but himhad 'em, and he was really unhappy 'cause he couldn't catch 'em, try ashe would. So I'm pretty certain that the things we want, and can'thave, are not good for us. Isn't that true, Shaggy?"
"Not always, my dear," he gravely replied. "If we didn't want anything,we would never get anything, good or bad. I think our longings arenatural, and if we act as nature prompts us we can't go far wrong."
"For my part," said Queen Ann, "I think the world would be a drearyplace without the gold and jewels."
"All things are good in their way," said Shaggy; "but we may have toomuch of any good thing. And I have noticed that the value of anythingdepends upon how scarce it is, and how difficult it is to obtain."
"Pardon me for interrupting you," said King Kaliko, coming to theirside, "but now that we have rescued Shaggy's brother I would like toreturn to my royal cavern. Being the King of the Nomes, it is my dutyto look after my restless subjects and see that they behave themselves."
So they all turned and began walking through the Metal Forest to theother side of the great domed cave, where they had first entered it.Shaggy and his brother walked side by side and both seemed rejoicedthat they were together after their long separation. Betsy didn't darelook at the polka dot handkerchief, for fear she would laugh aloud; soshe walked behind the two brothers and led Hank by holding fast to hisleft ear.
When at last they reached the place where the passage led to the outerworld, Queen Ann said, in a hesitating way that was unusual with her:
"I have not conquered this Nome Country, nor do I expect to do so; butI would like to gather a few of these pretty jewels before I leave thisplace."
"Help yourself, ma'am," said King Kaliko, and at once the officers ofthe Army took advantage of his royal permission and began filling theirpockets, while Ann tied a lot of diamonds in a big handkerchief.
This accomplished, they all entered the passage, the nomes going firstto light the way with their torches. They had not proceeded far whenBetsy exclaimed:
"Why, there are jewels here, too!"
All eyes were turned upon the ground and they found a regular trail ofjewels strewn along the rock floor.
"This is queer!" said Kaliko, much surprised. "I must send some of mynomes to gather up these gems and replace them in the Metal Forest,where they belong. I wonder how they came to be here?"
All the way along the passage they found this trail of jewels, but whenthey neared the end the mystery was explained. For there, squatted uponthe floor with his back to the rock wall, sat old Ruggedo, puffing andblowing as if he was all tired out. Then they realized it was he whohad scattered the jewels, from his many pockets, which one by one hadburst with the weight of their contents as he had stumbled along thepassage.
"But I don't mind," said Ruggedo, with a deep sigh. "I now realize thatI could not have carried such a weighty load very far, even had Imanaged to escape from this passage with it. The woman who sewed thepockets on my robe used poor thread, for which I shall thank her."
"Have you any jewels left?" inquired Betsy.
He glanced into some of the remaining pockets.
"A few," said he, "but they will be sufficient to supply my wants, andI no longer have any desire to be rich. If some of you will kindly helpme to rise, I'll get out of here and leave you, for I know you alldespise me and prefer my room to my company."
Shaggy and Kaliko raised the old King to his feet, when he wasconfronted by Shaggy's brother, whom he now noticed for the first time.The queer and unexpected appearance of the Ugly One so startled Ruggedothat he gave a wild cry and began to tremble, as if he had seen a ghost.
"Wh--wh--who is this?" he faltered.
"I am that helpless prisoner whom your cruel magic transformed from ahandsome man into an ugly one!" answered Shaggy's brother, in a voiceof stern reproach.
"Really, Ruggedo," said Betsy, "you ought to be ashamed of that meantrick."
"I am, my dear," admitted Ruggedo, who was now as meek and humble asformerly he had been cruel and vindictive.
"Then," returned the girl, "you'd better do some more magic and givethe poor man his own face again."
"I wish I could," answered the old King; "but you must remember thatTititi-Hoochoo has deprived me of all my magic powers. However, I nevertook the trouble to learn just how to break the charm I cast overShaggy's brother, for I intended he should always remain ugly."
"Every charm," remarked pretty Polychrome, "has its antidote; and, ifyou knew this charm of ugliness, Ruggedo, you must have known how todispel it."
He shook his head.
"If I did, I--I've forgotten," he stammered regretfully.
"Try to think!" pleaded Shaggy, anxiously. "Please try to think!"
Ruggedo ruffled his hair with both hands, sighed, slapped his chest,rubbed his ear, and stared stupidly around the group.
"I've a faint recollection that there was one thing that would breakthe charm," said he; "but misfortune has so addled my brain that Ican't remember what it was."
"See here, Ruggedo," said Betsy, sharply, "we've treated you prettywell, so far, but we won't stand for any nonsense, and if you knowwhat's good for yourself you'll think of that charm!"
"Why?" he demanded, turning to look wonderingly at the little girl.
"Because it means so much to Shaggy's brother. He's dreadfully ashamedof himself, the way he is now, and you're to blame for it. Fact is,Ruggedo, you've done so much wickedness in your life that it won't hurtyou to do a kind act now."
Ruggedo blinked at her, and sighed again, and then tried very hard tothink.
"I seem to remember, dimly," said he, "that a certain kind of a kisswill break the charm of ugliness."
"What kind of a kiss?"
"What kind? Why, it was--it was--it was either the kiss of a MortalMaid; or--or--the kiss of a Mortal Maid who had once been a Fairy;or--or the kiss of one who is still a Fairy. I can't remember which.But of course no maid, mortal or fairy, would ever consent to kiss aperson so ugly--so dreadfully, fearfully, terribly ugly--as Shaggy'sbrother."
"I'm not so sure of that," said Betsy, with admirable courage; "I'm aMortal Maid, and if it is my kiss that will break this awful charm,I--I'll do it!"
"Oh, you really couldn't," protested Ugly. "I would be obliged toremove my mask, and when you saw my face, nothing could induce you tokiss me, generous as you are."
"Well, as for that," said the little girl, "I needn't see your face atall. Here's my plan: You stay in this dark passage, and we'll send awaythe nomes with their torches. Then you'll take off the handkerchief,and I--I'll kiss you."
"This is awfully kind of you, Betsy!" said Shaggy, gratefully.
"Well, it surely won't kill me," she replied; "and, if it makes you andyour brother happy, I'm willing to take some chances."
So Kaliko ordered the torch-bearers to leave the passage, which theydid by going through the rock opening. Queen Ann and her army also wentout; but the others were so interested in Betsy's experiment that theyremained grouped at the mouth of the passageway. When the big rockswung into place, closing tight the opening, they were left in totaldarkness.
"Now, then," called Betsy in a cheerful voice, "have you got thathandkerchief off your face, Ugly?"
"Yes," he replied.
"Well, where are you, then?" she asked, reaching out her arms.
"Here," said he.
"You'll have to stoop down, you know."
He found her hands and clasping them in his own stooped until his facewas near to that of the little girl. The others heard a clear, smackingkiss, and then Betsy exclaimed:
"There! I've done it, and it didn't hurt a bit!"
"Tell me, dear brother; is the charm broken?" asked Shaggy.
"I do not know," was the reply. "It may be, or it may not be. I cannottell."
"Has anyone a match?" inquired Betsy.
"I have several," said Shaggy.
"Then let Ruggedo strike one of them and look at your brother's face,while we all turn our backs. Ruggedo made your brother ugly, so I guesshe can stand the horror of looking at him, if the charm isn't broken."
Agreeing to this, Ruggedo took the match and lighted it. He gave onelook and then blew out the match.
"Ugly as ever!" he said with a shudder. "So it wasn't the kiss of aMortal Maid, after all."
"Let me try," proposed the Rose Princess, in her sweet voice. "I am aMortal Maid who was once a Fairy. Perhaps my kiss will break the charm."
Files did not wholly approve of this, but he was too generous tointerfere. So the Rose Princess felt her way through the darkness toShaggy's brother and kissed him.
Ruggedo struck another match, while they all turned away.
"No," announced the former King; "that didn't break the charm, either.It must be the kiss of a Fairy that is required--or else my memory hasfailed me altogether."
"Polly," said Betsy, pleadingly, "won't you try?"
"Of course I will!" answered Polychrome, with a merry laugh. "I'venever kissed a mortal man in all the thousands of years I have existed,but I'll do it to please our faithful Shaggy Man, whose unselfishaffection for his ugly brother deserves to be rewarded."
Even as Polychrome was speaking she tripped lightly to the side of theUgly One and quickly touched his cheek with her lips.
"Oh, thank you--thank you!" he fervently cried. "I've changed, thistime, I know. I can feel it! I'm different. Shaggy--dear Shaggy--I ammyself again!"
Files, who was near the opening, touched the spring that released thebig rock and it suddenly swung backward and let in a flood of daylight.
Everyone stood motionless, staring hard at Shaggy's brother, who, nolonger masked by the polka-dot handkerchief, met their gaze with a gladsmile.
"Well," said Shaggy Man, breaking the silence at last and drawing along, deep breath of satisfaction, "you are no longer the Ugly One, mydear brother; but, to be entirely frank with you, the face that belongsto you is no more handsome than it ought to be."
"I think he's rather good looking," remarked Betsy, gazing at the mancritically.
"In comparison with what he was," said King Kaliko, "he is reallybeautiful. You, who never beheld his ugliness, may not understand that;but it was my misfortune to look at the Ugly One many times, and I sayagain that, in comparison with what he was, the man is now beautiful."
"All right," returned Betsy, briskly, "we'll take your word for it,Kaliko. And now let us get out of this tunnel and into the world again."
It did not take them long to regain the royal cavern of the Nome King,where Kaliko ordered served to them the nicest refreshments the placeafforded.
Ruggedo had come trailing along after the rest of the party and whileno one paid any attention to the old King they did not offer anyobjection to his presence or command him to leave them. He lookedfearfully to see if the eggs were still guarding the entrance, but theyhad now disappeared; so he crept into the cavern after the others andhumbly squatted down in a corner of the room.
There Betsy discovered him. All of the little girl's companions werenow so happy at the success of Shaggy's quest for his brother, and thelaughter and merriment seemed so general, that Betsy's heart softenedtoward the friendless old man who had once been their bitter enemy, andshe carried to him some of the food and drink. Ruggedo's eyes filledwith tears at this unexpected kindness. He took the child's hand in hisown and pressed it gratefully.
"Look here, Kaliko," said Betsy, addressing the new King, "what's theuse of being hard on Ruggedo? All his magic power is gone, so he can'tdo any more harm, and I'm sure he's sorry he acted so badly toeverybody."
"Are you?" asked Kaliko, looking down at his former master.
"I am," said Ruggedo. "The girl speaks truly. I'm sorry and I'mharmless. I don't want to wander through the wide world, on top of theground, for I'm a nome. No nome can ever be happy any place butunderground."
"That being the case," said Kaliko, "I will let you stay here as longas you behave yourself; but, if you try to act badly again, I shalldrive you out, as Tititi-Hoochoo has commanded, and you'll have towander."
"Never fear. I'll behave," promised Ruggedo. "It is hard work being aKing, and harder still to be a good King. But now that I am a commonnome I am sure I can lead a blameless life."
They were all pleased to hear this and to know that Ruggedo had reallyreformed.
"I hope he'll keep his word," whispered Betsy to Shaggy; "but if hegets bad again we will be far away from the Nome Kingdom and Kalikowill have to 'tend to the old nome himself."
Polychrome had been a little restless during the last hour or two. Thelovely Daughter of the Rainbow knew that she had now done all in herpower to assist her earth friends, and so she began to long for her skyhome.
"I think," she said, after listening intently, "that it is beginning torain. The Rain King is my uncle, you know, and perhaps he has read mythoughts and is going to help me. Anyway I must take a look at the skyand make sure."
So she jumped up and ran through the passage to the outer entrance, andthey all followed after her and grouped themselves on a ledge of themountain-side. Sure enough, dark clouds had filled the sky and a slow,drizzling rain had set in.
"It can't last for long," said Shaggy, looking upward, "and when itstops we shall lose the sweet little fairy we have learned to love.Alas," he continued, after a moment, "the clouds are already breakingin the west, and--see!--isn't that the Rainbow coming?"
Betsy didn't look at the sky; she looked at Polychrome, whose happy,smiling face surely foretold the coming of her father to take her tothe Cloud Palaces. A moment later a gleam of sunshine flooded themountain and a gorgeous Rainbow appeared.
With a cry of gladness Polychrome sprang upon a point of rock and heldout her arms. Straightway the Rainbow descended until its end was ather very feet, when with a graceful leap she sprang upon it and was atonce clasped in the arms of her radiant sisters, the Daughters of theRainbow. But Polychrome released herself to lean over the edge of theglowing arch and nod, and smile and throw a dozen kisses to her latecomrades.
"Good-bye!" she called, and they all shouted "Good-bye!" in return andwaved their hands to their pretty friend.
Slowly the magnificent bow lifted and melted into the sky, until theeyes of the earnest watchers saw only fleecy clouds flitting across theblue.
"I'm dreadful sorry to see Polychrome go," said Betsy, who felt likecrying; "but I s'pose she'll be a good deal happier with her sisters inthe sky palaces."
"To be sure," returned Shaggy, nodding gravely. "It's her home, youknow, and those poor wanderers who, like ourselves, have no home, canrealize what that means to her."
"Once," said Betsy, "I, too, had a home. Now, I've only--only--dear oldHank!"
She twined her arms around her shaggy friend who was not human, and hesaid: "Hee-haw!" in a tone that showed he understood her mood. And theshaggy friend who was human stroked the child's head tenderly and said:"You're wrong about that, Betsy, dear. I will never desert you."
"Nor I!" exclaimed Shaggy's brother, in earnest tones.
The little girl looked up at them gratefully, and her eyes smiledthrough their tears.
"All right," she said. "It's raining again, so let's go back into thecavern."
Rather soberly, for all loved Polychrome and would miss her, theyreentered the dominions of the Nome King.
Dorothy is Delighted
"Well," said Queen Ann, when all were again seated in Kaliko's royalcavern, "I wonder what we shall do next. If I could find my way back toOogaboo I'd take my army home at once, for I'm sick and tired of thesedreadful hardships."
"Don't you want to conquer the world?" asked Betsy.
"No; I've changed my mind about that," admitted the Queen. "The worldis too big for one person to conquer and I was happier with my ownpeople in Oogaboo. I wish--Oh, how earnestly I wish--that I was backthere this minute!"
"So do I!" yelled every officer in a fervent tone.
Now, it is time for the reader to know that in the far-away Land of Ozthe lovely Ruler, Ozma, had been following the adventures of her ShaggyMan, and Tik-Tok, and all the others they had met. Day by day Ozma,with the wonderful Wizard of Oz seated beside her, had gazed upon aMagic Picture in a radium frame, which occupied one side of the Ruler'scosy boudoir in the palace of the Emerald City. The singular thingabout this Magic Picture was that it showed whatever scene Ozma wishedto see, with the figures all in motion, just as it was taking place. SoOzma and the Wizard had watched every action of the adventurers fromthe time Shaggy had met shipwrecked Betsy and Hank in the Rose Kingdom,at which time the Rose Princess, a distant cousin of Ozma, had beenexiled by her heartless subjects.
When Ann and her people so earnestly wished to return to Oogaboo, Ozmawas sorry for them and remembered that Oogaboo was a corner of the Landof Oz. She turned to her attendant and asked:
"Can not your magic take these unhappy people to their old home,Wizard?"
"It can, Your Highness," replied the little Wizard.
"I think the poor Queen has suffered enough in her misguided effort toconquer the world," said Ozma, smiling at the absurdity of theundertaking, "so no doubt she will hereafter be contented in her ownlittle Kingdom. Please send her there, Wizard, and with her theofficers and Files."
"How about the Rose Princess?" asked the Wizard.
"Send her to Oogaboo with Files," answered Ozma. "They have become suchgood friends that I am sure it would make them unhappy to separatethem."
"Very well," said the Wizard, and without any fuss or mystery whateverhe performed a magical rite that was simple and effective. Thereforethose seated in the Nome King's cavern were both startled and amazedwhen all the people of Oogaboo suddenly disappeared from the room, andwith them the Rose Princess. At first they could not understand it atall; but presently Shaggy suspected the truth, and believing that Ozmawas now taking an interest in the party he drew from his pocket a tinyinstrument which he placed against his ear.
Ozma, observing this action in her Magic Picture, at once caught up asimilar instrument from a table beside her and held it to her own ear.The two instruments recorded the same delicate vibrations of sound andformed a wireless telephone, an invention of the Wizard. Thoseseparated by any distance were thus enabled to converse together withperfect ease and without any wire connection.
"Do you hear me, Shaggy Man?" asked Ozma.
"Yes, Your Highness," he replied.
"I have sent the people of Oogaboo back to their own little valley,"announced the Ruler of Oz; "so do not worry over their disappearance."
"That was very kind of you," said Shaggy. "But Your Highness mustpermit me to report that my own mission here is now ended. I have foundmy lost brother, and he is now beside me, freed from the enchantment ofugliness which Ruggedo cast upon him. Tik-Tok has served me and mycomrades faithfully, as you requested him to do, and I hope you willnow transport the Clockwork Man back to your fairyland of Oz."
"I will do that," replied Ozma. "But how about yourself, Shaggy?"
"I have been very happy in Oz," he said, "but my duty to others forcesme to exile myself from that delightful land. I must take care of mynew-found brother, for one thing, and I have a new comrade in a dearlittle girl named Betsy Bobbin, who has no home to go to, and no otherfriends but me and a small donkey named Hank. I have promised Betsynever to desert her as long as she needs a friend, and so I must giveup the delights of the Land of Oz forever."
He said this with a sigh of regret, and Ozma made no reply but laid thetiny instrument on her table, thus cutting off all furthercommunication with the Shaggy Man. But the lovely Ruler of Oz stillwatched her magic picture, with a thoughtful expression upon her face,and the little Wizard of Oz watched Ozma and smiled softly to himself.
In the cavern of the Nome King Shaggy replaced the wireless telephonein his pocket and turning to Betsy said in as cheerful a voice as hecould muster:
"Well, little comrade, what shall we do next?"
"I don't know, I'm sure," she answered with a puzzled face. "I'm kindof sorry our adventures are over, for I enjoyed them, and now thatQueen Ann and her people are gone, and Polychrome is gone, and--dearme!--where's Tik-Tok, Shaggy?"
"He also has disappeared," said Shaggy, looking around the cavern andnodding wisely. "By this time he is in Ozma's palace in the Land of Oz,which is his home."
"Isn't it your home, too?" asked Betsy.
"It used to be, my dear; but now my home is wherever you and my brotherare. We are wanderers, you know, but if we stick together I am sure weshall have a good time."
"Then," said the girl, "let us get out of this stuffy, undergroundcavern and go in search of new adventures. I'm sure it has stoppedraining."
"I'm ready," said Shaggy, and then they bade good-bye to King Kaliko,and thanked him for his assistance, and went out to the mouth of thepassage.
The sky was now clear and a brilliant blue in color; the sun shonebrightly and even this rugged, rocky country seemed delightful aftertheir confinement underground. There were but four of them now--Betsyand Hank, and Shaggy and his brother--and the little party made theirway down the mountain and followed a faint path that led toward thesouthwest.
During this time Ozma had been holding a conference with the Wizard,and later with Tik-Tok, whom the magic of the Wizard had quicklytransported to Ozma's palace. Tik-Tok had only words of praise forBetsy Bobbin, "who," he said, "is al-most as nice as Dor-o-thyher-self."
"Let us send for Dorothy," said Ozma, and summoning her favorite maid,who was named Jellia Jamb, she asked her to request Princess Dorothy toattend her at once. So a few moments later Dorothy entered Ozma's roomand greeted her and the Wizard and Tik-Tok with the same gentle smileand simple manner that had won for the little girl the love of everyoneshe met.
"Did you want to see me, Ozma?" she asked.
"Yes, dear. I am puzzled how to act, and I want your advice."
"I don't b'lieve it's worth much," replied Dorothy, "but I'll do thebest I can. What is it all about, Ozma?"
"You all know," said the girl Ruler, addressing her three friends,"what a serious thing it is to admit any mortals into this fairyland ofOz. It is true I have invited several mortals to make their home here,and all of them have proved true and loyal subjects. Indeed, no one ofyou three was a native of Oz. Dorothy and the Wizard came here from theUnited States, and Tik-Tok came from the Land of Ev. But of course heis not a mortal. Shaggy is another American, and he is the cause of allmy worry, for our dear Shaggy will not return here and desert the newfriends he has found in his recent adventures, because he believes theyneed his services."
"Shaggy Man was always kind-hearted," remarked Dorothy. "But who arethese new friends he has found?"
"One is his brother, who for many years has been a prisoner of the NomeKing, our old enemy Ruggedo. This brother seems a kindly, honestfellow, but he has done nothing to entitle him to a home in the Land ofOz."
"Who else?" asked Dorothy.
"I have told you about Betsy Bobbin, the little girl who wasshipwrecked--in much the same way you once were--and has since beenfollowing the Shaggy Man in his search for his lost brother. Youremember her, do you not?"
"Oh, yes!" exclaimed Dorothy. "I've often watched her and Hank in theMagic Picture, you know. She's a dear little girl, and old Hank is adarling! Where are they now?"
"Look and see," replied Ozma with a smile at her friend's enthusiasm.
Dorothy turned to the Picture, which showed Betsy and Hank, with Shaggyand his brother, trudging along the rocky paths of a barren country.
"Seems to me," she said, musingly, "that they're a good way from anyplace to sleep, or any nice things to eat."
"You are right," said Tik-Tok. "I have been in that coun-try, and it isa wil-der-ness."
"It is the country of the nomes," explained the Wizard, "who are somischievous that no one cares to live near them. I'm afraid Shaggy andhis friends will endure many hardships before they get out of thatrocky place, unless--"
He turned to Ozma and smiled.
"Unless I ask you to transport them all here?" she asked.
"Yes, your Highness."
"Could your magic do that?" inquired Dorothy.
"I think so," said the Wizard.
"Well," said Dorothy, "as far as Betsy and Hank are concerned, I'd liketo have them here in Oz. It would be such fun to have a girl playmateof my own age, you see. And Hank is such a dear little mule!"
Ozma laughed at the wistful expression in the girl's eyes, and then shedrew Dorothy to her and kissed her.
"Am I not your friend and playmate?" she asked.
"You know how dearly I love you, Ozma!" she cried. "But you're so busyruling all this Land of Oz that we can't always be together."
"I know, dear. My first duty is to my subjects, and I think it would bea delight to us all to have Betsy with us. There's a pretty suite ofrooms just opposite your own where she can live, and I'll build agolden stall for Hank in the stable where the Sawhorse lives. Thenwe'll introduce the mule to the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger, andI'm sure they will soon become firm friends. But I cannot very welladmit Betsy and Hank into Oz unless I also admit Shaggy's brother."
"And, unless you admit Shaggy's brother, you will keep out poor Shaggy,whom we are all very fond of," said the Wizard.
"Well, why not ad-mit him?" demanded Tik-Tok.
"The Land of Oz is not a refuge for all mortals in distress," explainedOzma. "I do not wish to be unkind to Shaggy Man, but his brother has noclaim on me."
"The Land of Oz isn't crowded," suggested Dorothy.
"Then you advise me to admit Shaggy's brother?" inquired Ozma.
"Well, we can't afford to lose our Shaggy Man, can we?"
"No, indeed!" returned Ozma. "What do you say, Wizard?"
"I'm getting my magic ready to transport them all."
"And you, Tik-Tok?"
"Shag-gy's broth-er is a good fel-low, and we can't spare Shag-gy."
"So, then; the question is settled," decided Ozma. "Perform your magic,Wizard!"
He did so, placing a silver plate upon a small standard and pouringupon the plate a small quantity of pink powder which was contained in acrystal vial. Then he muttered a rather difficult incantation which thesorceress Glinda the Good had taught him, and it all ended in a puff ofperfumed smoke from the silver plate. This smoke was so pungent that itmade both Ozma and Dorothy rub their eyes for a moment.
"You must pardon these disagreeable fumes," said the Wizard. "I assureyou the smoke is a very necessary part of my wizardry."
"Look!" cried Dorothy, pointing to the Magic Picture; "they're gone!All of them are gone."
Indeed, the picture now showed the same rocky landscape as before, butthe three people and the mule had disappeared from it.
"They are gone," said the Wizard, polishing the silver plate andwrapping it in a fine cloth, "because they are here."
At that moment Jellia Jamb entered the room.
"Your Highness," she said to Ozma, "the Shaggy Man and another man arein the waiting room and ask to pay their respects to you. Shaggy iscrying like a baby, but he says they are tears of joy."
"Send them here at once, Jellia!" commanded Ozma.
"Also," continued the maid, "a girl and a small-sized mule havemysteriously arrived, but they don't seem to know where they are or howthey came here. Shall I send them here, too?"
"Oh, no!" exclaimed Dorothy, eagerly jumping up from her chair; "I'llgo to meet Betsy myself, for she'll feel awful strange in this bigpalace."
And she ran down the stairs two at a time to greet her new friend,Betsy Bobbin.
The Land of Love
"Well, is 'hee-haw' all you are able to say?" inquired the Sawhorse, ashe examined Hank with his knot eyes and slowly wagged the branch thatserved him for a tail.
They were in a beautiful stable in the rear of Ozma's palace, where thewooden Sawhorse--very much alive--lived in a gold-paneled stall, andwhere there were rooms for the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger,which were filled with soft cushions for them to lie upon and goldentroughs for them to eat from.
Beside the stall of the Sawhorse had been placed another for Hank, themule. This was not quite so beautiful as the other, for the Sawhorsewas Ozma's favorite steed; but Hank had a supply of cushions for a bed(which the Sawhorse did not need because he never slept) and all thisluxury was so strange to the little mule that he could only stand stilland regard his surroundings and his queer companions with wonder andamazement.
The Cowardly Lion, looking very dignified, was stretched out upon themarble floor of the stable, eyeing Hank with a calm and critical gaze,while near by crouched the huge Hungry Tiger, who seemed equallyinterested in the new animal that had just arrived. The Sawhorse,standing stiffly before Hank, repeated his question:
"Is 'hee-haw' all you are able to say?"
Hank moved his ears in an embarrassed manner.
"I have never said anything else, until now," he replied; and then hebegan to tremble with fright to hear himself talk.
"I can well understand that," remarked the Lion, wagging his great headwith a swaying motion. "Strange things happen in this Land of Oz, asthey do everywhere else. I believe you came here from the cold,civilized, outside world, did you not?"
"I did," replied Hank. "One minute I was outside of Oz--and the nextminute I was inside! That was enough to give me a nervous shock, as youmay guess; but to find myself able to talk, as Betsy does, is a marvelthat staggers me."
"That is because you are in the Land of Oz," said the Sawhorse. "Allanimals talk, in this favored country, and you must admit it is moresociable than to bray your dreadful 'hee-haw,' which nobody canunderstand."
"Mules understand it very well," declared Hank.
"Oh, indeed! Then there must be other mules in your outside world,"said the Tiger, yawning sleepily.
"There are a great many in America," said Hank. "Are you the only Tigerin Oz?"
"No," acknowledged the Tiger, "I have many relatives living in theJungle Country; but I am the only Tiger living in the Emerald City."
"There are other Lions, too," said the Sawhorse; "but I am the onlyhorse, of any description, in this favored Land."
"That is why this Land is favored," said the Tiger. "You mustunderstand, friend Hank, that the Sawhorse puts on airs because he isshod with plates of gold, and because our beloved Ruler, Ozma of Oz,likes to ride upon his back."
"Betsy rides upon my back," declared Hank proudly.
"Who is Betsy?"
"The dearest, sweetest girl in all the world!"
The Sawhorse gave an angry snort and stamped his golden feet. The Tigercrouched and growled. Slowly the great Lion rose to his feet, his manebristling.
"Friend Hank," said he, "either you are mistaken in judgment or you arewillfully trying to deceive us. The dearest, sweetest girl in the worldis our Dorothy, and I will fight anyone--animal or human--who dares todeny it!"
"So will I!" snarled the Tiger, showing two rows of enormous whiteteeth.
"You are all wrong!" asserted the Sawhorse in a voice of scorn. "Nogirl living can compare with my mistress, Ozma of Oz!"
Hank slowly turned around until his heels were toward the others. Thenhe said stubbornly:
"I am not mistaken in my statement, nor will I admit there can be asweeter girl alive than Betsy Bobbin. If you want to fight, comeon--I'm ready for you!"
While they hesitated, eyeing Hank's heels doubtfully, a merry peal oflaughter startled the animals and turning their heads they beheld threelovely girls standing just within the richly carved entrance to thestable. In the center was Ozma, her arms encircling the waists ofDorothy and Betsy, who stood on either side of her. Ozma was nearlyhalf a head taller than the two other girls, who were almost of onesize. Unobserved, they had listened to the talk of the animals, whichwas a very strange experience indeed to little Betsy Bobbin.
"You foolish beasts!" exclaimed the Ruler of Oz, in a gentle butchiding voice. "Why should you fight to defend us, who are all threeloving friends and in no sense rivals? Answer me!" she continued, asthey bowed their heads sheepishly.
"I have the right to express my opinion, your Highness," pleaded theLion.
"And so have the others," replied Ozma. "I am glad you and the HungryTiger love Dorothy best, for she was your first friend and companion.Also I am pleased that my Sawhorse loves me best, for together we haveendured both joy and sorrow. Hank has proved his faith and loyalty bydefending his own little mistress; and so you are all right in one way,but wrong in another. Our Land of Oz is a Land of Love, and herefriendship outranks every other quality. Unless you can all be friends,you cannot retain our love."
They accepted this rebuke very meekly.
"All right," said the Sawhorse, quite cheerfully; "shake hoofs, friendMule."
Hank touched his hoof to that of the wooden horse.
"Let us be friends and rub noses," said the Tiger. So Hank modestlyrubbed noses with the big beast.
The Lion merely nodded and said, as he crouched before the mule:
"Any friend of a friend of our beloved Ruler is a friend of theCowardly Lion. That seems to cover your case. If ever you need help oradvice, friend Hank, call on me."
"Why, this is as it should be," said Ozma, highly pleased to see themso fully reconciled. Then she turned to her companions: "Come, mydears, let us resume our walk."
As they turned away Betsy said wonderingly:
"Do all the animals in Oz talk as we do?"
"Almost all," answered Dorothy. "There's a Yellow Hen here, and she cantalk, and so can her chickens; and there's a Pink Kitten upstairs in myroom who talks very nicely; but I've a little fuzzy black dog, namedToto, who has been with me in Oz a long time, and he's never said asingle word but 'Bow-wow!'"
"Do you know why?" asked Ozma.
"Why, he's a Kansas dog; so I s'pose he's different from these fairyanimals," replied Dorothy.
"Hank isn't a fairy animal, any more than Toto," said Ozma, "yet assoon as he came under the spell of our fairyland he found he couldtalk. It was the same way with Billina, the Yellow Hen whom you broughthere at one time. The same spell has affected Toto, I assure you; buthe's a wise little dog and while he knows everything that is said tohim he prefers not to talk."
"Goodness me!" exclaimed Dorothy. "I never s'pected Toto was fooling meall this time." Then she drew a small silver whistle from her pocketand blew a shrill note upon it. A moment later there was a sound ofscurrying footsteps, and a shaggy black dog came running up the path.
Dorothy knelt down before him and shaking her finger just above hisnose she said:
"Toto, haven't I always been good to you?"
Toto looked up at her with his bright black eyes and wagged his tail.
"Bow-wow!" he said, and Betsy knew at once that meant yes, as well asDorothy and Ozma knew it, for there was no mistaking the tone of Toto'svoice.
"That's a dog answer," said Dorothy. "How would you like it, Toto, if Isaid nothing to you but 'bow-wow'?"
Toto's tail was wagging furiously now, but otherwise he was silent.
"Really, Dorothy," said Betsy, "he can talk with his bark and his tailjust as well as we can. Don't you understand such dog language?"
"Of course I do," replied Dorothy. "But Toto's got to be more sociable.See here, sir!" she continued, addressing the dog, "I've just learned,for the first time, that you can say words--if you want to. Don't youwant to, Toto?"
"Woof!" said Toto, and that meant "no."
"Not just one word, Toto, to prove you're as any other animal in Oz?"
"Just one word, Toto--and then you may run away."
He looked at her steadily a moment.
"All right. Here I go!" he said, and darted away as swift as an arrow.
Dorothy clapped her hands in delight, while Betsy and Ozma both laughedheartily at her pleasure and the success of her experiment. Arm in armthey sauntered away through the beautiful gardens of the palace, wheremagnificent flowers bloomed in abundance and fountains shot theirsilvery sprays far into the air. And by and by, as they turned acorner, they came upon Shaggy Man and his brother, who were seatedtogether upon a golden bench.
The two arose to bow respectfully as the Ruler of Oz approached them.
"How are you enjoying our Land of Oz?" Ozma asked the stranger.
"I am very happy here, Your Highness," replied Shaggy's brother. "AlsoI am very grateful to you for permitting me to live in this delightfulplace."
"You must thank Shaggy for that," said Ozma. "Being his brother, I havemade you welcome here."
"When you know Brother better," said Shaggy earnestly, "you will beglad he has become one of your loyal subjects. I am just gettingacquainted with him myself and I find much in his character to admire."
Leaving the brothers, Ozma and the girls continued their walk.Presently Betsy exclaimed:
"Shaggy's brother can't ever be as happy in Oz as I am. Do you know,Dorothy, I didn't believe any girl could ever have such a goodtime--anywhere--as I'm having now?"
"I know," answered Dorothy. "I've felt that way myself, lots of times."
"I wish," continued Betsy, dreamily, "that every little girl in theworld could live in the Land of Oz; and every little boy, too!"
Ozma laughed at this.
"It is quite fortunate for us, Betsy, that your wish cannot begranted," said she, "for all that army of girls and boys would crowd usso that we would have to move away."
"Yes," agreed Betsy, after a little thought, "I guess that's true."