Junipee and Stot
"Where are we,
Junipee?" asked Stot.
"I don’t know," said Junipee once again.
"Well, I’m scared," said Stot.
"If you don’t know where you are, what’s there to be
These were two children, Junipee and Stot, sister and
brother. Juniperea was a little older than her brother, and Aristotle was
quite a bit younger than his sister. Most of the time they got along
famously, for Junipee had to be both sister and mother, and so the sister
was a little bit wise and the mother was a little bit playful, and on the
whole they tempered one another nicely.
They had now been in the sky, above the clouds, for two
days. Or was it three? They were very hungry, for the candy bars in their
pockets had long ago given out. They would have been very thirsty, too, but
for some rain now and then, which had made a shallow puddle of sweet clear
water about their feet, filling Chubby Cub’s bowl to a depth of about an
Chubby Cub was a bear on the front of a cereal box, and
the bowl he held between his round stubby paws was supposed to be full of
cereal flakes. But the two children had made a game of kicking the styrofoam
flakes overboard, which might have been a bad idea; for they had nothing to
cover-up with during the chill night but their green winter jackets and the
puffs of white breath from their mouths. So they became very cold and clung
Two—or perhaps three—days before, they had climbed a tall
spreading tree to watch the big parade that came down the boulevard of the
great city once every year, the parade of the big balloons. The balloons
were as big as houses and were pulled along and guided by many strong men,
and they were all in the shapes of different whimsical characters;
especially those with something to sell—like Chubby Cub, who looked like a
plump balloon even before he was one.
Now it seemed the wind had gotten up on the wrong side of
the bed that morning. He was in an ornery mood and fit to be tied. So just
as the Chubby Cub balloon passed the tree in which Junipee and Stot were
hiding, he picked up the balloon and dashed it up against the tree. The
children tumbled out, and it was a long way to the ground, which was covered
with cement. They would have been hurt badly if the wind had not had a
change of mood just then and pushed Chubby Cub’s enormous cereal bowl
underneath them, which broke their fall instead of their fall breaking
Alas, the wind cannot manage to do a good deed without
doing a bad one to make up for it. He pulled the balloon upward with such
force that the men below had to let loose their cables, and the balloon
floated free. It bobbed up into the grey-blue sky in a great hasty rush,
scraping a skyscraper or two along the way and tossing the little girl and
boy this way and that. Soon enough, though, everything was far below them.
They mounted high high up, up to where the air is a deep
blue and the sun is white as a china plate. Up there it seemed to Junipee
and Stot that they were perfectly still. But that is a trick the wind plays,
for in reality they were moving along very quickly indeed.
For many hours they swept along over cities and towns,
forests and fields, prairies and deserts and finally the shiny blue ocean.
In the first hours they saw many signs of man down below, though the people
themselves were too small to be seen. But the prairies and deserts seemed
all but deserted, except for an occasional dark line that Junipee said was a
highway. Over the ocean they saw nothing but empty water, not even a bird.
"Where are the airplanes?" Stot had asked.
"We saw lots of planes before," was the reply.
"But where are they now?" the boy had demanded,
and Junipee had been forced to admit that she didn’t know.
There had been beautiful orange sunsets and pale golden
sunrises. There had been nights of frosty stars crowded together so thickly
that it was not possible to say where one star ended and another began. And
there was cold rain, sometimes falling upward, whipped by the winds as
lightning played tag all around them. On they flew, on and on; and Junipee
told Stot she thought they were travelling to the south and the west.
"Both?" he whined.
One night—it might have been the third one—it seemed to
both children, as they peered carefully over the edge of the cereal bowl,
that they were no longer over water. Below them was a mushy darkness that
reflected no light.
"Is it land?" asked Stot.
"I think so, Stot," responded Junipee doubtfully.
"You don’t know?"
"I’m not so sure," she said. "If it was land, we’d see
the lights of cars and cities. But all I see is darkness."
"I know why!" chirped the boy. "They must all have gone
When the dawn came, the sky was pearl-grey and the land
below was pewter-grey as far as the eye could see.
Junipee sighed in disappointment. "It’s a desert."
"Junipee," said Stot, "I think we’re going to come down
in it." In truth, Chubby Cub seemed to be flying lower than before—lower and
They didn’t want to come down in the desert. The air felt
hot, and smelled as though it had breakfasted on onions and radishes. And as
the sun rose, the desert turned ugly shades of yellow and brown. But they
were not being given any choice as to destination.
Then something happened, something unexpected, swift as
the turning of a page in a book. Below them, in front of them, and on both
sides of them, the ugly desert winked out and completely disappeared. It
remained behind them—only there.
"Oh!" gasped Junipee in pleasure, while Stot could think
of nothing to say at all.
Spread out before them was a strange and lovely
countryside. There were low rounded hills and grassy meadows, and little
square patches that might have been farms, with roads threading their ways
between them. Ahead was a darker region, which looked like a woodlands; and
strange to say, everything that they could see was tinted in purple.
Sometimes the purple shading was bright and bold, sometimes deep, and
sometimes so faint that the usual colors of things could be seen through it,
like looking through a mist. There were shades of royal purple, of dark
indigo, of violet tending toward red. But it was altogether a purple land,
and even the sunlight was just a little bit touched with purple.
"What a funny kind of place!" giggled little Stot.
The Chubby Cub balloon dropped lower toward the ground
and brushed the tops of some trees. Just beyond the trees was a meadow,
where the two were gently dipped out of the bowl and sent somersaulting as
Chubby Cub’s paws scraped the ground.
Emptied of its burden, the big balloon took to the sky
again; and what became of it after that, I do not know.
Junipee and Stot sat in
the meadow and watched the big balloon until it was lost to sight.
"I’ll miss him," said Stot very gravely.
"Let’s find someone who will give us something to eat,"
said his sister.
They rose and walked through the meadow in the gentle
morning sunlight, back in the direction where they thought they had seen
some farms from above. They passed through a stand of trees, and on the
other side of the trees they found a road, a broad path worn into the grassy
ground. And there on the road stood two peculiar persons.
The persons were men. In fact, they were farmers, it
seemed, for one of them held a hoe, and the other held a sprig of alfalfa in
his mouth. They were peculiar because they were dressed in odd,
old-fashioned costumes, like people in a pageant. Their garments were of
various shades of purple, and had many buckles and little buttons, and
something like shoe-laces everywhere but on their shoes, which turned up at
the toes. They wore pointed hats with wide flat brims, and little Stot found
these very comical.
"Why is he laughing?" asked one of the men.
"Oh, he laughs at everything," Junipee replied.
The men both nodded. "How wise!" remarked the man with
"I suppose," the girl agreed. "Do you know where
The farmer with the alfalfa in his mouth removed it. "Why
yes," he said. "You are right there, for we can see you."
"You ought to look yourself before asking," added the
other man. "It would save you breath, and others inconvenience."
"But what is the name of the place we’re at?" demanded
"The name?" repeated the farmer with the hoe. "I don’t
believe it has a name. Or if it does, it has never mentioned it. We
call it ‘the road’."
"But—!" Junipee didn’t know how to untangle this jumbled
conversation, and Stot just giggled.
"I am Ubb," said the man with the hoe, "and this is
Genfa. What are you?"
Stot answered. "I’m Stot. She’s Junipee."
"Indeed," said Genfa; "but that was not the question. You
are not Gillikins, for everyone here in the Country of the Gillikins is
tinged with a purplish hue. You are not blue enough to be Munchkins, nor
yellow enough to be Winkies, nor red enough to be Quadlings."
"And although your garments are shades of green, your
skins are not," added Ubb; "and so you cannot be visitors from the City of
Emeralds. But none of the countries in this Land of Oz favors the color of
chocolate with milk. That is why I wondered what you were."
"You mean ever’body here is colored like crayons?" asked
"We are colored like ourselves," Ubb declared.
"We’re African-Americans," said Junipee. "Haven’t you
ever seen a black person?"
Genfa removed his tall hat and scratched his head. "Never
"Is this Connetty-cut?" little Stot inquired.
"They just told us this place is called Oz," Junipee
reproved. "Now hush." She turned again to the farmers. "I have never heard
of Oz. Are we still in America?"
The farmers exchanged glances. "If there is more than one
of you, little girl, then I suppose you may still be in America. But if
there is only one of you at a time, then that one is here in Oz."
This was Ubb’s commentary. Genfa lay a cautioning hand
upon the other’s arm. "Ubb, I wonder if they have come from the great
outside world beyond the desert. They say it happens now and then."
Stot waved his hand for attention. "We went over the
desert in the Chubby Cub balloon!"
"Then that accounts for it," said Ubb with satisfaction.
"Well, small America-ites, you are in the Gillikin Country of the Land of
Oz, the northmost and purplemost of its five principal regions. If that
answers your question, we shall bid the two of you good morning; for we have
not yet had breakfast."
"Neither have we," said Junipee, "and we’re mighty
Genfa nodded. "Then follow us."
They went down the road for a mile or so, and then turned
off on a small winding path through fields where there were sheep and cows
and pigs and chickens, all intermingled and strolling about casually.
Stot pointed. "Are they yours?"
"Oh, some of them are," Genfa said, not turning to look.
"We don’t much care to remember who is whose; nor do the animals trouble
themselves about it, as long as they are well fed and watered."
"It is the same with the corn and the wheat," Ubb added.
"And I have never heard the watermelons complain."
At the end of the path was a farmhouse, which was rounded
on top like a big bowler hat and had tall chimneys on either side. "In
America the houses don’t look like that at all," remarked Junipee. "Some of
them have roofs that slant together to a peak, and others are like boxes
that go up and up into the sky."
"For miles!" exclaimed Stot.
"Most interesting," said Ubb with a yawn. He led them
into the kitchen of the farmhouse and seated them at a simple wooden table
with a pretty lavendar trim. Soon they were eating purple porridge, drinking
purple orange juice, and munching purple bacon.
Stot asked Genfa if the bacon was from their own pigs.
"No," the farmer responded. "We do not require the pigs to work for their
bed and board, as their inherent beauty is a sufficient contribution to
life. We harvest the bacon ourselves. Look!" He gestured at the counter, and
the children beheld a large melon with layers of rind which could be pulled
off in strips like the skin of an onion. "We like to think our baconouba
melons are the most flavorful around."
Junipee sighed. This land of Oz was proving a most
perplexing sort of place. "Is there a bus or a train that will take us back
to New York?"
"I know nothing of ‘bus’ or ‘train’ or any York at all,
old or new," was Ubb’s reply. "Can you not return the way you came?"
Junipee explained—or tried to—that they had lost their
means of transport. Then she asked if the farmers had a telephone.
"I don’t think so," said Ubb hesitantly. "Is it something
water comes out of?"
The children shook their heads.
"Can you sleep on it?" asked Genfa.
The children shook their heads.
"Is it a thing you pound nails with?" asked Ubb.
The children shook their heads.
"Ah!" Genfa exclaimed. "Then it must be the thing you dig
"Uh-uh," said Stot. "You talk on it."
This puzzled the two farmers greatly. After a time Ubb
said, "It seems to me I vaguely recollect a hazy half-memory that someone
mentioned a word like that once. But who was it? Why, I think it was the
Pebble and Rock Man who said it."
Junipee stood up from her chair and drew her brother up
to his feet as well. "We ought to go see him, then."
"He is easy enough to see," responded Genfa, "if you
happen to be standing in the right place, and if it is not too dark. Just go
back to the road, and turn right. Walk on a ways; and when you come to a
fence that blocks the road, stop."
"And then what?" Junipee inquired.
"And then turn around and walk all the way back until you
see a sign painted on a big boulder that directs you to the home of the
Pebble and Rock Man."
Junipee frowned. "But why not just turn at the sign in
the first place?"
"If you wanted to take the short-cut," Ubb replied with a
patient smile, "you ought to have said so."
Junipee and Stot thanked the farmers for their
hospitality and left as quickly as possible. And as they were in some haste,
they did take the short-cut after all.
The Pebble and Rock Man
The two children came
to the sign on the boulder soon enough. It merely said what it needed to say—
THE PEBBLE AND ROCK MAN
IS THIS WAY
This was followed by an arrow pointing to a narrow dirt
path that led off through the fields.
As Junipee stood reading the notice aloud to Stot, who
could not yet read and had to be read-to, a nearby voice said:
They were startled and looked about right and left. There
was no one to be seen. Then the voice came again:
And the children saw it issued from a fat lady turkey
squatting contentedly on a patch of clover by the side of the road.
"Junipee!" gasped Stot. "The big bird talked!"
"Indeed," said the turkey, "it was I who spoke. Not that
I wish to interfere in your affairs, and it surely is none of my business;
but I perceive that you are starngers."
"How is it you talk?" demanded Junipee. "You’re not a
parrot or a mynah bird."
"Pray tell, has there been a law passed, a royal decree
issued, which restricts the right to speak one’s mind to those particular
species?" the turkey responded with some asperity.
"In New York, birds can’t talk, generally," explained
Stot. "They just chirp."
"Turkeys do not chirp, they gobble," said the bird in a
friendlier tone. "And here you will find that we converse most piquantly
upon many topics of interest."
Junipee approached the turkey and crouched down. "Why did
you tell us to be careful? Is the Pebble and Rock Man a bad man?"
"I don’t choose to gossip," she replied after a moment.
"But one might say he has something of a bad reputation. He is unfriendly
and keeps to himself, which naturally lends itself to—suspicion."
"Well, we have to see him, in order to get home."
"As you like," said the turkey. "Follow the path and you
will find him, or he will find you." So Junipee and Stot took to the little
path. The turkey watched them go, and after a moment a dozen little chicks
sprung forth from their hiding-places beneath her feathers and watched them
The path twisted and turned, but most of all it became
deeper, like a gash in the ground. As it tended downward, the sides became
high and steep, and soon Junipee and Stot could no longer see the open
fields around them. Finally the path came to the round mouth of a cave and
continued straight on into darkness.
"I don’t like the dark, Junipee," whined Stot.
"I’ll hold your hand, if you’re going to be a baby about
it," she responded; but her own voice was unsteady.
The walked on in—there was no bell to announce them—and
after just a few steps the narrow hallway broadened out into a round room
lined with many rocks fitted together so that there was no space between
them. The only light came from the entrance; and as it had to squeeze by the
two children, it was very dark.
"I can’t see!" Stot whispered.
"Course not," replied Junipee. "It’s dark in here. But
you can see a little, can’t you?"
"Guess so. But there’s nothing to see."
Indeed, the room was just an empty space with no exit and
no furnishings of any sort.
"The Pebble and Rock Man must be out," the girl declared.
"I wonder if we should wait for him."
But Stot tugged on Junipee’s sleeve. "He’s not
out," he breathed. "He’s sitting over there."
Junipee looked where her brother was pointing, but it
took a good while before she could make out what he was pointing at. Then it
occurred to her that some of the rocks in the far wall stood out from the
others behind. And then she realized that they were not rocks at all,
but the arms and legs and body and head of a man.
This little man, if you want to call him that, had a body
that was fat and round and rather lumpy, though his arms and legs were quite
spindly and looked as though they would snap like match-sticks if put to any
use. His head was plump and fat-cheeked, and a long scraggly beard tumbled
from his chin and obscured any neck he might have. The long hair on top of
his head seemed to fall upward rather than down, curving together to a
point. And much though it was hard to make out colors in the dimness, the
man seemed to be mostly shades of tan, beige, brown, and grey—just like a
pile of rocks: for on closer examination it was clear that although he
resembled a person of flesh, his whole body (except his hair) was really a
concoction of bits and pieces of rock, put together very smoothly and
intricately. Altogether he looked like a combination of Santa Claus, a
rockpile, and an onion.
At that moment the Pebble and Rock Man was smoking a
long-stemmed pipe, the bowl of which glowed faintly like an ember. Upon his
face he bore a calm, if somewhat sly, expression.
After several quiet puffs, he finally spoke in a deep and
rather gravelly voice. "I won’t ask you what I can do to make you happy,"
said he. He then drew upon his pipe and fell silent again for a little time.
Then he removed the pipe and said, "I have learnt by hard experience that
you cannot make children happy no matter what you do, for they will not be
satisfied." He put the pipe back in his mouth and was silent again.
"Are you the—the Man?" inquired Stot, forgetting what the
man was called.
"The farmers said you could help us," said Junipee.
The Rock Man blew a smoke ring. "I fear they wanted only
to be rid of you, child, for I can help no one."
"They said you had a telephone," continued Junipee; "and
if you do, we’d like to call the police—or somebody—and arrange to go back
home to New York, where we live."
"The farmers have poor ears and misunderstood. I do not
have a ‘telephone,’ but rather a tellus-stone."
"What’s that?" asked Stot, getting over his fear.
"It is a little flat stone with which you may tell things
to anyone else who also has such a stone," the man answered. "That is why it
is named ‘tell-us stone’." He smoked for a bit, thoughtfully. "I use the
tellus-stone to keep in touch with some of my old compatriots."
"What’s that?" Of course it was Stot who spoke.
"Compatriots are fellow beings of one’s own kind," the
Rock Man explained. "And before you ask: the kind they are, are Nomes. And
so am I."
"I’ve never heard of Nomes," declared Junipee somewhat
"Well," said the Rock Man, "you have now, haven’t you."
Junipee took a step closer, trying to see him more
clearly. "Do they all look like you?"
"No indeed," he replied. "We all have our own looks which
make us ourselves and not someone else. But I am the Nome King, you know,
and all my subjects resemble me in this way or that. However, to preserve my
royal dignity I take some care not to resemble them back."
"Goshee!" cried Stot in delight. "A king!"
"Well, to be precise—I was the Nome King," the
Rock Man added reluctantly. "I, Ruggedo, His Mineralific Majesty, was
deposed as Metal Monarch and King of the Nomes by a little girl and her army
of meddlesome friends. My place was taken by my chamberlain Kaliko, who is
not even of the royal vein. He occupies my throne yet, years and years
later. Ah me, it is a brittle, crumblesome, sandstone life." With the long
stem of his pipe he gestured toward one side of the room, which was really a
little cavern, and when Junipee turned to look she found two flat-topped
stones there which had certainly not been there before. "Do sit down," said
the former Nome King.
"They don’t look very soft," Stot commented suspiciously.
"They are soft enough for you weak-bottomed mortals,"
Ruggedo retorted. "I have made them that way, for I have power over stones
and rocks, metals and gems, and can cause them to be as I wish them to be."
To demonstrate this he waved his free hand, and some of the stones in the
ceiling began to glow with a pale amber light. The children sat down, to be
polite, and found that the stones were soft as feather cushions.
Junipee arranged herself daintily and said, "Mr. Ruggedo,
we don’t have Nomes in the United States of America, so you really ought to
"You are quite wrong," countered the Rock Man after a
draw upon his pipe. "There are Nomes in your country—underneath it,
anyway—just as there are everywhere else upon this wonderful world of ours.
Who do you suppose breaks the solid earth into stones, the stones into
rocks, and the rocks into pebbles? Who do you suppose labors unceasingly to
stock your mines with useful metals and precious gems? Without my people,
working in silence down beneath your feet, your civilization would fall to
ruins, and your lovely ladies—like you, my child—would have nothing to hang
from their ears."
Stot had by now lost all fear; and so he giggled. "You’re
Ruggedo smiled a smile that could have meant anything.
"Am I? Perhaps so, for it’s a habit of mine. But the young lady did
"This whole country is a magic place, sure enough,"
Junipee said slowly. "Can ever’body here in Oz do magic?"
Ruggedo chuckled mildly. "No, no, not everyone—first of
all, it is forbidden by our gracious dictatress, Ozma, for anyone to
practice magic but those in her little circle. But even so, magic comes
naturally only to fairy-folk, such as the elves and knooks and mer-people;
and the Nomes, who rule the vast underground world. I used to be able to do
much more, you know," he continued dreamily, "for I owned a magic wishing
belt that was good for all sorts of common uses and conveniences, such as
transportation and, especially, transformations. But that was long, long
"Did its batteries wear out?" asked Stot.
"It was stolen from me!" replied Ruggedo sharply. "In
fact, it was a little girl from America who stole it."
"Oh!" Junipee cried. "I wonder if I know her. Is she the
one who dis-posed you?"
The former Nome King shook his head. "No, that was
another meddlesome little girl from America named Betsy Bobbin. It was
Dorothy, who is now a Princess of Oz, who first attacked me and stole the
Magic Belt—Dorothy and Ozma herself—and a terrible chicken named Billina."
"Won’t they give it back?" Stot inquired.
"Of course not!" growled the Nome. "They are wicked,
selfish, vindictive people, as are so many of you meat-people who swarm upon
the chilly outer crust of the earth." Then he caught hold of his temper and
puffed his pipe philosophically for a time. When he resumed speaking his
tone was much milder. "Well, that is only my opinion, and I am often in the
wrong. Perhaps I deserved the treatment I received. But here’s a thought!"
he added brightly. "Why don’t I tell you my story, and let you judge for
"All right," said Junipee; "just so long as it isn’t
The Pillar of Truth
"I was quite a pleasant
and happy child, you know," began the former King of the Nomes. "I wandered among the
stalagmites and stalactites in all innocence and purity, thinking only of
what was kindly and generous."
"What are those?" interrupted Stot. "The mites and
"They are like icicles of rock," Ruggedo answered. "The
stalactites hang down from the ceiling, and the stalagmites rise up from the
ground; and sometimes they meet right in the middle. Now then. When I was of
a certain age, and my dear father Cavernonko grew weary of the duties of
kingship and gave up the job, I took over—reluctantly—and was crowned King
Roquat the Red. I begged everyone to call me ‘Red,’ as I didn’t wish to
appear to have put on airs."
"Is Roquat your first name?" asked Junipee.
"Just so," said Ruggedo, "for it was the first one I had.
I ruled my mineral kingdom wisely and peaceably for—eh, let us just say ‘for
a very long time’." He smiled at the memory, and smoked for a while.
"Well," he resumed, "much to my eventual regret, I had
some dealings with the surface people. I should never have done it, for it
led to my ruin. In exchange for performing an extraordinary service, I was
persuaded to accept ownership of the Royal Family of the Kingdom of Ev,
which lies on the other side of the desert that surrounds this Land of Oz. I
consented to the deal out of courtesy, for I knew them to be a very inferior
group of royals who could not serve me at all."
Junipee frowned at the former Nome King. "I hope
this was a long time ago, because now everyone knows that slavery is
wrong and wicked."
"Oh yes indeed, very long ago, when it was considered
quite the thing to do," said Ruggedo hastily. "At any rate, as they were no
good at service, and I had the right to get some use from my investment, I
used my Magic Belt to transform them into various pretty items of
"Like what?" Stot asked.
"Oh, vases and figurines and candy-dishes and so on. It
didn’t bother them, you know: it was as though they were asleep. But I
discovered—and here is a bit of free wisdom for you!—the world is full of
busybodies who are convinced they know best."
"I’ve met some," declared Junipee.
"I’m not surprised. And so," continued the Nome, "it
seems I had barely sat myself back upon my throne, but—here came Dorothy and
Ozma and that chicken, along with a wind-up man named Tik-Tok, and an army
of others from Oz, come to invade my underground kingdom and work their
mischief, liberating my bric-a-brac. And what did I do?"
"What?" asked Stot, wide-eyed.
"Why, I gave ’em a chance to win what they desired in a
pleasant manner, by means of a little game. But they cheated, cheated I say!
They even threatened me with poison; and in the end they took my transformed
decorations away with them, as well as my magic wishing belt, leaving the
Underground Kingdom devastated."
"It sounds to me like these people freed the slaves,"
said Junipee, "which is just what you ought to have done yourself."
The former Nome King scowled at her. "As to that, you may
think as you please; but it was surely excessive to deprive my people the
Nomes of their Magic Belt—which, as it could hardly fit around the entire
population, I wore upon my own person."
"Did you have your own person?" Stot asked in surprise.
"It was I myself, the Royal Me. Thus, as I say, the belt
was stolen. Years later, thinking the belt might be glad to see me, I paid a
visit to Princess Ozma in the Emerald City. You might think I would be
greeted with a certain abashedness and apology; but you would be wrong. They
used their magical arts to steal what little I had left to me—my memory—even
my very name. I was let loose to wander about, picking up a new name,
Ruggedo, along the way. Fortunately the enchantment wore off, though the
name has stuck; and so I returned to my kingdom."
"You were still king, though," Junipee observed, "so it
wasn’t as bad as it might have been."
Ruggedo nodded. "That is true, but even this small
kindness was only temporary. Some years later another girl, Betsy, appeared
in my kingdom along with a ferocious mule named Hank, and another army, and
also Tik-Tok, who had been conspiring with the Oz people between-times. They
kicked me out, they did, and gave my kingship to my dullwitted assistant
Junipee gave Ruggedo a look of skepticism, which came
naturally to her. "If this Kaliko is still King of the Nomes, he must be a
sight smarter than you’re letting on."
The former Nome King grew sulky. "Those Oz people gave
him many unfair advantages. They stole my memories again, for one thing; and
by the time the memories began to return, I was already established here in
the pebble and rock business."
Stot laughed. "You can’t make money sellin’ stuff like
"No, you can’t," conceded Ruggedo. "But fortunately money
is not used in Oz, where people are free to do whatever they wish, so long
as it is of some use. Many people can use pebbles and rocks—in a rock
garden, for example, or to keep people off a bathing beach. But in
conclusion, I ask you—have I not been treated most cruelly?"
"Very most!" Stot exclaimed. "If I see that Ozmer, I’ll
"Thank you," sniffed the former Nome King.
"Now that we’ve listened to your story, won’t you help
us, please?" asked Junipee. "It’s not that we like New York so much, but
it’s the only home we remember; and even if the lady who takes care of us
isn’t our mother, she’s someone."
Stot wrinkled up his forehead. "She makes us go to
"Does she now?" exclaimed Ruggedo in sympathy. "My
only schooling came in the School of Hard Rocks. That, and life in general."
"Please don’t change the subject, Mr. Ruggedo!" Junipee
demanded. "If you’re not going to help us, we’ll just have to go on our
The former Nome King rose to his feet, delicately
brushing pebbles from his round body as if they were bread crumbs. "I don’t
know that I can help you, my dear," he said. "But if you’ll consent to stay
a while, we might ask the Pillar of Truth."
"I don’t know," Junipee replied suspiciously. "What kind
of a person is this ‘pillar’?"
Ruggedo shone forth his smile, which was hard as a band
of polished metal. "The Pillar of Truth is not a person, but a thing—made
all of stone. He lives underground, in a further branch of this very cave in
which we stand. It was because I knew he resided somewhere hereabouts that I
first came here to live these many years ago, and just this very morning I
broke through into his hidden cavern. Follow me, and I will introduce you to
He didn’t wait for Junipee to agree, but turned about and
marched across his round room to a part that was especially gloomy. There
the children noticed for the first time a narrow crack in the wall that ran
from floor to ceiling. The Nome King—so we shall call him—walked right up to
the crack, and its sides seem to melt back so that he could just fit through
it. "Come along, little clodlings," he called back to Junipee and Stot.
Curious, they could not help but follow after him.
The crack continued for quite a ways, just exactly wide
enough to walk through one by one. Then it open up into another cave, a wild
one, that slanted downward. Junipee thought that it should have been
perfectly dark, but it wasn’t, for some of the rocks here and there were
giving forth a timid milky light, which their eyes grew accustomed to after
a time. Ruggedo had left them on.
The three of them wound their way down and down,
strolling along at a gentle pace. Presently the Nome King stopped. "There,"
said he. "There is the Pillar of Truth."
They were in a big, long open space which would have been
shaped like a loaf of bread if it had been filled with bread instead of air.
There were twisty fingers of rock all around, hanging down from the ceiling
and rising up from the floor, all of them looking like ice cream cones of
the sort only a Nome might enjoy. "Tights an’ mites!" whispered little Stot.
Before them in the middle of the space was a column of
white stone which joined to both floor and ceiling and was very narrow in
the middle. It had sparkly specks all over it, and places where it seemed
the stone had run like wax on a candle. Just above the narrow part, a little
higher than the Nome King’s head, the combination of ups and downs on the
surface of the column seemed to look, in the dim light, very much like a
face, the pinched face of an old old man. Where the eyes should have been
there were set two colored gems of rough shape which had a glow to them.
Above these crystalline eyes were jutting shards of rock which looked like
eyelids; and as Junipee stared at them, the eyelids raised up with a
dragging-rock sound and the eyes looked at her.
"Oh!" she cried out in surprise.
"You needn’t be afraid, child," said Ruggedo. "The Pillar
of Truth cannot move about. He has stood there for a million million years,
and there he will remain until the earth falls to pieces."
"Do you mind it?" asked Stot of the Pillar.
The Pillar of Truth creaked open a stone mouth, causing
streams of dust to rain down upon the floor of the cave. "You ask, and I
answer I do not mind it, for I do not have a mind to mind it
with," the Pillar responded in a voice as hollow as an echo.
Stot smiled. "That’s good."
"These children of the surface world, who are called Stot
and Junipee, wish to know how to return to a place called New York, in the
United States of America," Ruggedo declared. "Will you answer their
Said the Pillar, "You ask, and I answer I will,
for I can do nothing but give true answers to whatever questions are posed
Junipee waited, expecting more to come; but there was
nothing more. She looked at the Nome King. "Do I have to do something to
make him work?"
"You must ask your question," said Ruggedo. "I only asked
if he would answer you, that’s all."
"All right." She faced the Pillar squarely. "Tell us how
to get back to New York."
Still, there was only silence. Stot tugged on her sleeve.
"Junipee, that wasn’t a question!"
"How will we get back to New York?" she asked.
"You ask and I answer, by travelling with the Nome
King, for he knows the earth inside out and can lead you to any place
lower than the sky," was the reply.
"Ah! Well!" cried the old Nome King in surprise. "I had
not expected this!" Then he asked, "Tell me, Pillar of Truth, where shall I
go from here in order to achieve my great design, which is to reclaim my
rightful position in my underground dominions?"
The children turned to the Pillar of Truth expectantly.
And it said: "You ask, and I answer, go down deep into the earth and take
from the Queen of the Mangaboos her Colorless Gloves, for they will
confer the power required."
"A Queen!" Stot cheered. "Goshowee-gosh!"
In The Emerald Palace of Ozma
At the center of the
Land of Oz, which is more or less of a rectangle in shape, lies the great Emerald
City, the only real city in the whole of that favored country; and at the
center of the Emerald City there rises the palace of the Rightful Ruler of
Oz, Princess Ozma—whom the old Nome King liked to call a "dictatress." And
in a sense the word was apt enough. Ozma is royalty of the old-fashioned
sort; what she says, goes. But fortunately for the Ozites, her tyranny is a
wise and benevolent one, for she herself knew what it was like to be treated
as a slave. She hadn’t liked it.
The emerald palace of Ozma is a fine place. It looks as
grand as can be, which is just as a palace ought to look. It has many high
spires, visible for miles, upon which colorful banners flutter gaily in the
breeze. At its center is a great round dome, which encloses Ozma’s huge
throne room and chamber of audience; and a number of lesser domes spread out
from this center all around. The palace building is surrounded by a green
park, full of graceful trees and sparkling fountains, which is enclosed in
turn by a low wall of green stonework.
A number of curious characters have made their homes
within the grounds of the palace. There is a Patchwork Girl, a Shaggy Man,
and (as has been mentioned) a clockwork metal man named Tik-Tok. There are
also a number of notable personages of more common appearance, including
Dorothy Gale of Kansas, a girl named Trot and her friend Cap’n Bill, and
another little girl named Betsy Bobbin. And one cannot forebear mentioning
yet another American, the little Wizard of Oz himself, who was born a long
time ago in the state of Nebraska.
Some of the palace’s inhabitants are animals of one sort
or another. Of the feline sort there are four examples, two large and two
small. The large beasts are a Cowardly Lion and a Hungry Tiger. As to the
smaller cats, one of them is Eureka the Pink Kitten, who is Dorothy’s pet.
The other is made entirely of glass, except for her two emerald eyes, her
hard ruby heart, and her brains, which are a little bunch of pink marbles
that roll around amongst themselves when she bothers to think. This creature
is the famous Glass Cat of Oz, and her personal name (much to her regret) is
Now cats don’t generally get along as it is. So much the
worse, then, when one is of meat and the other of the mineral kingdom—if you
wish to call glass a kind of mineral. Eureka and Bungle did not exactly
hate one another, for it is a very difficult thing to hate in the Land
of Oz, and cats are notoriously lazy. But there was a rivalry between them.
They liked to tease one another, and their cutting remarks illustrated the
origin of the word "catty."
One morning both felines were present, ignoring one
another, in the great Throne Room while the Wizard of Oz made a
demonstration of a new invention of his—for he was quite a tinkerer.
"I call this my Little Wizard Patented Health Lamp," said
the Wizard, gesturing grandly at the object he had placed upon a small
round-topped table in the middle of the room. It looked like a big glass
electric lightbulb, with a globe the size of a cantaloup.
"I wouldn’t ’zackly call it little, Wizard,"
remarked Dorothy, who was one of the onlookers.
"And mind you, I don’t know lawyer-talk," added Cap’n
Bill, an old retired seaman with a wooden leg, "but it seems t’me you can’t
call something patented unless you reg’ster it with the U.S. Patent
"Ah well!" cried the Wizard in his theatrical way. "You
have failed to distinguish between adjective and noun, my friends. ‘Little
Wizard’ and ‘Patented’ are merely parts of its name, not of its description.
They are traditional terms applied to new inventions of some use to
"Of what use is your Lamp, Wizard?" inquired Princess
Ozma of Oz from her royal throne. "Our Emerald City is already equipped with
electric lighting, and the lightbulbs never wear out."
"True," he replied. "But this is a Health Lamp, you see.
Its inner filament, when animated by a current of pure wizardrous force,
gives forth a marvelous light that heals all wounds, salves the broken
heart, lifts the spirit, and induces an attractive sun-tan."
"Those are wonderful claims," said Ozma with a smile.
"And I am known as a wonderful wizard," said he. "And
that is no humbug, these days."
"You always talk a dreadful amount, sir," said the Hungry
Tiger, a great beast with a body as big as a horse’s. "But do hurry-up your
demonstration, as it has been more than an hour since breakfast and I grow
nervous and weak."
Dorothy held nestled in her arms a furry little bundle
with a pointy snout, which now wiggled. "Mistress," said Toto quietly, "do
you mind if I leave?"
"Oh Toto, don’t you want to see the Wizard’s show?"
"Not especially," said the dog. "And I have an
appointment with one of the piglets to play a game of checkers."
Dorothy whispered in his ear, "But really, we shouldn’t
disappoint the Wizard."
"Yes, I know," he whispered back with just the slightest
whine. "But I can’t give any decent sort of applause, not with my padded
paws. Besides, the two cats are here, and they are sure to start in
caterwauling; and it makes me nervous." So she let him down, and he padded
from the room.
The Wizard bowed to the tiger and his ever-present
hunger, and then to Ozma; and then, smiling, he pointed a pudgy finger and
dramatically speared a button on the table-top. But nothing happened.
"If that’s light," Dorothy said, "I sure couldn’t read by
"Maybe you forgot to plug it in," suggested little Betsy
"It does not require being plugged," the Wizard
responded, "as it is not a bath-tub. I can’t understand—no, I have it!" He
made a small adjustment at the porcelain base, which the bulb was screwed
into. "Now to try again," he said, and, in an absent-minded way, tapped a
finger against the globe.
The result of this tiny tap was catastrophic. The globe
lit up brightly with a purple-and-green light, which swept across the throne
room like a wave. Then the great bulb shattered into tiny pieces.
"Oh dear!" cried the Wizard, and everyone gasped—not
because the invention was destroyed, but because of what was happening all
The people were shrinking! They were not shrinking too
terribly fast, it is true, and—luckily—their clothing was shrinking too. But
there was no doubt at all that they had commenced to become smaller, even
the artificial people, namely Tik-Tok the Machine Man.
"Mizzen me tussle!" exclaimed Cap’n Bill. "Do somethin’,
Wizard, afore I wind up smaller than my peg-leg!"
But the Wizard could only gesture helplessly toward the
table, the top of which he could no longer reach. "I can’t reverse the
effect, for the lamp is destroyed," he said. "And as for doing anything by
wizardry, my bag of magical instruments is in my room."
"There is our help, I ob-serve," said Tik-Tok,
pointing with his skinny metal arm. Ozma, who was now no bigger than a
lap-dog, stood nobley upon the seat of her throne. In her hand she held the
silver wand that she always kept upon her person, secreted in a special
pocket in her gown. She made several passes with the wand, which responded
to her own natural fairy-magic; and when the last gesture was completed,
everyone could feel that some change had come over them. They were still
shrinking, but not so rapidly now. The shrinking became slower, slower, and
finally stopped altogether.
"Thank goodness!" cried Princess Dorothy.
"You may say ‘thank goodness’," complained the once-huge
Cowardly Lion, "but look at us!" He was now about as big as a gnat,
and those who had been of human size were no bigger than the tiny raspberry
seeds that you pick out from between your teeth.
Ozma had walked over to the edge of her throne, which was
quite a walk. She looked down at her much-reduced subjects as if from a high
cliff. "I tried to restore you," she called down at the top of her lungs,
"but it seems my magic has been diminished along with my size!" She stepped
off the throne and, grasping the silver wand, drifted gently down to the
"Al-though I am small-er," noted Tik-Tok in his
mechanical monotone, "I am hap-py to say my think-ing works are o-ther-wise
"Then what do you think?" asked Tiny Trot,
who now really was tiny.
"Some-one must go to Glin-da, whose sor-cer-y re-mains
ver-y pow-er-ful," answered Tik-Tok. "I will go my-self if you wish, Your
"No," said Ozma, "for though you are steadfast, strong,
and mechanically perfect, you are now so small that the journey would be
weeks of walking."
"And my ac-tion will wind down be-fore I e-ven reached
the ci-ty gates," Tik-Tok commented.
"My dear, perhaps you can contact Glinda by means of your
wand," the Wizard urged.
"It’s better than a wireless," added the Shaggy Man, who
knew something about radio.
"I have been trying, but the wand is now much too weak,"
"I beg your pardon if I’ve overlooked something obvious;
in which case I am prepared to be embarrassed," said the Shaggy Man. "But
why couldn’t we send one of them with a message?"
The Shaggy Man was looking at the Glass Cat and the Pink
Kitten. For some reason, yet unexplained, they were the only two creatures
present who had not been affected by the Wizard’s Health Lamp.
The Glass Cat, who had flattened down upon the floor in
order to hear the tiny people talk, now spoke. "That idea is plausible,
at least," she said indifferently. "But you have not yet asked whether I
would consent to this imposition upon my time. I had already made plans for
this afternoon, you know, and it is rather much to expect me to rearrange my
schedule at a moment’s notice."
"Aaa, you might as well give up on that Glass Cat,"
growled Cap’n Bill. "Nothin’ will do t’warm up that cold hard heart o’
"He’s right, Ozma," said Dorothy. "Eureka may be a little
saucy now and then, but she knows how to mind—when she has to."
"Thank you, mistress," purred the Pink Kitten. "It is
transparently true that Bungle, with her marble brains, is certain to botch
any assignment given her."
At this comment the Glass Cat hissed like a punctured
tire. "What cheek!" she muttered indignantly, stalking from the room.
"It is settled, then," said Princess Ozma.
After further discussion and instruction, Eureka set
forth upon her mission, slinking her way through the corridors of the palace
and out into the grounds. She was passing a tree, and beginning to pick up
speed, when she was startled by a thud just behind her. Spinning about she
beheld Bungle the Glass Cat standing with a vexed expression upon her face.
"What do you want?" asked Eureka impatiently. "I can’t be
bothered with you now; I am on assignment."
"Don’t be high-tailed with me," said Bungle. "I am here
to help you, you silly muncher of mice."
Eureka sniffed proudly. "I do not require help. This is a
job for a true American-born cat, not a four-legged window-pane such as
"I suppose, then, you are going south, to the Quadling
country, where Glinda’s castle is."
"Then it is you who will botch the assignment," said
Bungle, licking her unmoveable glass fur with her glass tongue, which made a
tinkling sound; "for I happen to know Glinda is not at home today."
The Pink Kitten’s eyes narrowed to slits. "Where is she,
"Oh, now you wish to talk. Well, just this
morning, during my patrol of the city, I happened upon the editor of the
daily newspaper, who was engaged in informing his printing-press of the news
of the day. I heard him mention that Glinda the Good had gone off in her
swan-chariot to the Country of the Winkies to assist the Tin Woodman in his
Tin Castle. You should be able to catch her there—if you hurry your little
Eureka considered this in silent suspicion for a moment.
Then, with a leap, she was off and away at top speed. Bungle noted, smugly,
that she was heading west, toward the Winkie Country, not south to the land
of the Quadlings. "Serves her right, gullible thing," said the Glass Cat to
herself. Of course Bungle’s news had been a lie through and through. It was
her plan—not very thoroughly thought-out—to win the praise of the others by
carrying out the mission to Glinda the Good herself.
Off she ran, southward, easily scaling the high wall that
surrounds the City of Emeralds and dashing across the fields of grass which
in that central part of Oz were, strangely enough, green. She crossed the
narrow stretch of farmland, and saw before her the red-hued meadows that
announce the borders of the Quadling Country. That at least is what she
expected to see and ought to have seen. But what she really saw, but did not
pause to consider, was a great deal of purple—as if she had gone north and
Suddenly, Bungle stopped running. Indeed, she stopped
running so abruptly and completely that she flipped head-over-heels, rolling
ten times in the long grass before she finally lay down flat, unable to
wiggle a single glass toe.
The Capture of a Cat
"Where is Mango-boo?"
asked Junipee of the Nome King. "Couldn’t you just take us back to New York
Ruggedo smiled his smile, but shook his head. "Alas, I no
longer have the power to travel such a distance, which would take us
straight through the earth. I believe, though, that the Pillar of Truth is
suggesting a means whereby I might regain my Magic Belt, which will not only
allow me to return to the Underground Kingdom, but also to send you wherever
you wish. Isn’t that right, Pillar?"
Said the Pillar of Truth, "You ask, and I answer Yes,
that is right, for that is indeed what you believe."
"You see?" pronounced the Nome King. "And the Pillar of
Truth cannot lie."
"All right, but what about that place and that queen?"
"Mangaboo?" Ruggedo scratched the side of his head with
his hand, making a sound like two pieces of flint trying to strike a spark.
"I’ve heard of it, for it is part of the underground world that I am in
charge of, by rights. But I don’t recall the details, nor do I know in what
direction it lies—except downward."
"I know!" piped Stot excitedly. "We can ask the big
rock!" He approached the Pillar of Truth and asked, "How can we find that
Magnanga place you talked about, the one with the queen?"
"You ask, and I answer, By being led by the cat
Eureka, the pet of Princess Dorothy, for she once was in Mangaboo and
knows the way back by instinct and memory."
The old Nome King did not like this answer. His dealings
with Dorothy and her patroness Ozma had brought him nothing but trouble in
his life. "I see," he said rather sourly. "There must be another way." But
the Pillar was silent—as no question had been asked.
Ruggedo now was anxious to leave the presence of the
Pillar of Truth, though there were many other questions that he might have
found useful to ask. He quickly herded the children back up to his private
"It seems we are destined to be useful to one another,
children," he said. "If I understand what the Pillar of Truth has so subtly
implied, it is somehow necessary that I have you with me to get what I need
from the Queen of the Mangaboos, just as my recapture of my belt is
necessary to you, in order to send you home."
"We’ll go if we have to," replied Junipee. "But remember,
we’re just people, not some of your Nomes. We can’t live underground—we need
real air and food."
"Yes, yes," Ruggedo responded impatiently. "Let us not
dilly-dally here with the Gillikins, for we must make our way to the Emerald
City to find this fool cat of Dorothy’s."
"Have you met it?" inquired Stot.
"No, for she didn’t have it with her when she first came
into my Dominions, only that horrible chicken, Billina." The Nome King
pronounced chicken as if it were a curse. "I have been to the palace
of Ozma on subsequent occasions, but don’t recall seeing a cat there."
Stot asked gravely, "Do you know what a cat looks like?
We have them in New York, but they don’t live in the ground, like you do."
"Of course I know!" retorted Ruggedo with dignity. "They
are like very large gophers, with tails that go back and forth."
"That’s not very good," said Junipee; "but I guess I can
help you keep a look-out."
The three got underway immediately, heading southward
toward the Emerald City. They walked along at an easy pace through most of
three days. The Nome King proved a taciturn companion, saying very little
and eyeing everything and everyone with an attitude of wariness and disdain.
They walked between low hills, and through the Great Dark Gillikin Forest,
following trails, some of which were paved, though most were not. There were
no settlements of people along the way, but now and then they came upon a
lonely farmhouse or forest dwelling, and the Gillikins within were courteous
and glad to provide food, though Ruggedo could only eat of strange minerals
and rocky things, which he had to sift out of the ground himself.
Finally came the morning upon which they rounded the bend
of a forest trail and beheld, far ahead in the distance, a lovely green glow
that seemed to fill the sky.
"I remember that," the Nome King remarked in a jovial
tone. "The Emerald City is made of real emeralds of all sizes and shapes,
and it is their reflection we see. We are getting near."
"What will we do when we get there?" asked Junipee, her
breath somewhat taken away by the beauty of the shining sky. "Will we find
Dorothy and ask to borrow her cat?"
"Bah! Certainly not; that is bad strategy, my girl,"
answered the Nome. "If we ask, she will turn us down, for she is wicked and
hates me—and will surely hate the two of you as well, for being my
companions. I have though of a different plan."
He withdrew from his vest pocket a small round stone,
which was flat on opposite sides.
"Bet I know what that is!" Stot cried happily. "It’s your
"No," the Nome King replied. "It is my spyglass: to be
precise, my tell-on-scope."
"Do you mean a telescope?" Junipee asked.
"I mean exactly what I say, child," Ruggedo said
brusquely. "It is an invention of the Nomes which tells on whoever you are
thinking about, by showing them to you."
Stot nodded as if he understood. "Uh-huh—like a
"Exactly like," Ruggedo confirmed. "For example, let us
be fore-warned by looking in upon Ozma." He held the stone so Junipee and
Stot could also see. On one of the flat sides they could make out the image
of a beautiful young girl with raven-dark hair and a gleaming crown upon her
"She’s so pretty!" Stot declared.
"You may think so; but she has a wicked heart, which the
tell-on-scope stone is powerless to reveal."
They looked in upon several others. Finally Ruggedo was
satisfied that they were unaware of the presence of their old enemy. "They
are all occupied with something," he commented. "Some nonsense of that
Wizard fellow they esteem so highly, for they are gathered together around
him. Perhaps we can sneak up on the palace undetected."
"But where is the cat, Eureka?" Junipee demanded. "We
ought to find that out first, you know."
"I suppose you are right," the Nome King conceded with a
scowl (for he did not like to be contradicted). "I have never heard of there
being but one cat of the plain sort in all Oz, so if—" But he did not need
to finish his sentence, for when he mentioned one cat, the image of a
cat appeared in the stone. "Ah, there is our cat!"
"That’s not a real cat!" Stot laughed. Then he added
soberly: "Is it?"
"It’s a glass statue," said Junipee. "But it’s moving!"
"That is the form cats take in this fairyland," observed
the Nome King sagely, pretending he knew what he was talking about—which he
did not. That cat was of course not Eureka the Pink Kitten at all, but
Bungle the Glass Cat, and they were looking in upon her at the moment she
was leaving the grounds of Ozma’s royal palace on her mission to Glinda the
"Now this is a right fine development, children," said
the Nome King with pleasure. "As the creature is made of glass, and thus
part of the kingdom of crystals and minerals, she is mine to command; or at
least her body is."
Junipee asked, "Can you bring her here to us?"
"I can indeed," Ruggedo said, putting his stone back in
its pocket. "I cannot bring her quite all-at-once, for she is still some
distance away. But I can give her many little pushes, each one too slight to
be felt, which will steer her in our direction without arousing any
resistance in her." His put his fingers up to the rocky outcropping of his
brow and concentrated mightily for a good length of time. Then at last he
said, "She is near! I feel it!"
They hid themselves behind some bushes, and soon caught a
glimpse of sunlight on glass. Ruggedo concentrated again, and now that
Bungle was very close-by his force was strong enough to freeze her glass
muscles and bring her to a tumbling halt almost at their feet.
"That was cool!" Stot cried. "But I’m glad you can’t do
it to people."
"Let us see what she has to say for herself," said the
Nome King, smugly satisfied.
They walked over to where Bungle lay flat in the grass,
and Ruggedo bent down low. "Good morning," said he, pleasantly.
"If it is good for you, congratulations," Bungle replied
with a catlike growl. "As for me, I’d just as soon give it back. Something
has tripped me up."
Ruggedo clucked his tongue. "Yes, I apologize for that. I
am responsible. If you promise not to run off, I will let you up."
The Glass Cat snarled but said, "I promise."
"And do you promise to keep your promise?"
"I do." And immediately Bungle found herself able to
stand and move again. She stretched as cats do, even glass ones, and said,
"All right. What do you want, you human stonework?"
"The matter is of the gravest importance," said Ruggedo.
"It can only be entrusted to someone of your renowned cleverness—for the
whole world has heard of Princess Dorothy’s precious pet Eureka."
"Ah. Yes," purred Bungle, quite unable to resist
continuing the mistake. "Well, as you have interrupted my morning run, and
it cannot be undone, perhaps I shall hear you out."
"Why are you glass?" Stot blurted out.
This gave pause to Bungle, for she did not care to reveal
that she was not the esteemed Eureka after all. "That makes for a nice
story," she said. "I once was an ordinary sort of cat, you know—from America
in the great outside world. But Princess Ozma made my mistress, Dorothy, a
princess too; and so a plain fluffy cat just wouldn’t do for her. Ozma used
a magical thing she owns, a belt, to transform me into what you see before
you, an exalted being of fine crystal suitable to consort with royalty."
"What are those colored things inside you?" Junipee then
inquired. "Something you ate for breakfast?"
"Indeed not," said Bungle scornfully. "The ruby item is
my fine heart, and the collection of pink balls is in truth my brains. You
can see ’em work, you know. I don’t mind if you stare."
"We have more important subjects of which to speak than
your body-parts," the Nome King declared. "We are in need of a guide to show
us the way to the underground kingdom of Mangaboo, and are informed that
you, madam, are able to perform that necessary duty."
"I can indeed," lied the Glass Cat. "I know the way very
well. But why should I assist you?"
"So we can get back home," Junipee said.
"Oh?" responded the cat. "Are you Mangaboos, then?"
"Nope!" giggled Stot. "We’re New Yorkers."
"The explanation is quite long and tiresome," said
Ruggedo shrewdly. "There is no need for you to bother with it. Suffice it to
say, our need is great and our cause is just."
Bungle snorted. "Just what?"
"You will help us, won’t you?" pled Junipee.
The Glass Cat looked away. "I may consider it—when
I am back around these parts again."
"That won’t do, I fear." This pronouncement was
Ruggedo’s, and his voice had become as ominous as a storm cloud. He picked
up a rock from the ground, and set it upon a tree-stump nearby. "Do you see
He raised his hand to his face and made an "O" with his
thumb and forefinger. He held it before his right eye, and stared a fierce
stare through the hole, looking directly at the rock.
There was a sharp sound like a shot, and the rock fell
apart into two pieces.
"You might as well know now, madam cat, that I am Ruggedo
the Nome King," he said. "Yes—and I have great power over the things of the
ground, such as the crystalline substance making you up. If you do not grant
the favor we have asked, I will shatter you. Of course, this being Oz, you
will not be dead; but as a pile of pieces your enjoyment of life will be
much impaired. Now, let us be off before your Dorothy and my nemesis Ozma
come out to ruin things for me."
Bungle had no idea in which direction to go, for she had
never heard of Mangaboo in her life. But the Nome King’s threat weighed upon
her (especially her vanity), and so she darted off in a direction chosen for
no reason at all.
"Halt!" cried Ruggedo. "Where are you going?"
The Glass Cat crept back and said, "I believe it is
"Little as I know of Mangaboo, I do know that it
is close to, though well beneath, my own kingdom," the Nome said darkly.
"And thus we must begin by going westward."
"I can see you know little of how to start a proper
journey in Oz," retorted Bungle, her brains churning furiously. "One must
take a few steps the opposite way, and then turn around: elsewise the route
will become as circuitous as a corkscrew."
"That’s right!" Stot exclaimed. "The farmer wanted us to
go in two directions to get to your hole, Mr. King."
Ruggedo looked doubtful indeed, but raised no protest as
the little party zig-zagged and then commenced a trek to the west.
They left the green middle country of Oz very quickly,
for it is of no great extent, and entered the Country of the Winkies, where
the color yellow is favored. This unsettled Bungle, for she had no wish to
run across the real Eureka, who no doubt would be put out with her. But
there was no way around it.
They walked on for several hours, first through fields,
then through forest. At noon they stopped at a Winkie cottage, and Junipee
and Stot were given lunch while Ruggedo and the Glass Cat waited outside.
"I cannot stand to be still," said Bungle, "for it is
contrary to my cat-nature. We must prowl about, except when we are dozing."
"Go, then; but if you are too long away—remember what I
can do to you," was the Nome’s curt reply, as he gnawed a tart piece of fine
Bungle slinked away into the underbrush. When she was out
of sight, she began to hunt with her sharp emerald eyes, and soon enough she
found what she was seeking, a tiny brown mouse. She caught it between her
two paws, which—as they were perfectly clear—made it seem that the mouse was
imprisoned in a glass jar.
"Good day, crystal thing," cried the mouse politely. "I
like sport as much as anyone, but I have to tell you I am in something of a
hurry just at present." He was not in the least afraid—for this was Oz,
"I will let you go right away," said the cat. "But first,
allow me to trouble you for some information."
"Good. It occurs to me that, as you are a mouse and have
your ear to the ground even when standing up, you might be able to direct me
to a certain place called Mangaboo."
"Mangaboo!" the mouse exclaimed with something like a
laugh. "Why would anyone want to go there?"
"Kindly mind your business," snapped Bungle. "Do you know
The mouse nodded, his ears flopping. "I am acquainted
with a family of earthworms, and they tell me of many things underground, in
detail—too much detail, sometimes; it’s not as interesting as they suppose
it to be, but you know what earthworms are like."
"And you remember the details?"
"Indeed," the other answered, "for I am a mouse, you
know, and there is a reason why the scientists of the world choose us above
all others to run their mazes. My memory is excellent. The question is
whether you will remember all I say."
The Glass Cat sighed. She did not often sigh, for it was
difficult for her, having no lungs and no hollow in her glass throat. "As a
cat, I am lazy and languid, and I do not care for the effort of remembering.
But if it is absolutely necessary, the pink brains, which you see
before you, can retain almost anything. So go ahead."
The mouse then provided the directions. When he had
finished, and was about to scurry off, he added: "By the way, I hope you
know that all this is on the other side of the Deadly Desert. The earthworms
are not bothered, for they can go beneath it. But the sands are destructive
of life, and though you are not made of meat, you seem to be alive; so it
might not go well for you."
"Another problem to occupy my mind," Bungle said in
disgust. "Let old Ruggedo figure something out. But how I wish that foolish
Pink Kitten had outsmarted me at the start!"
The Mouse Republic
The pink tail of Eureka
the Pink Kitten had just whipped around the corner and out of view when
Cap’n Bill lit his pipe and said: "Well, Trot, mighty fine kettle we’re in
this time, eh?"
Trot nodded and smiled. "But we always get through our
adventures all right—and we have Ozma and ever’one with us, so the good’s
sure to outweigh the bad."
"Your confidence quite inspires me," remarked the little
Wizard warmly. "Had I my Black Bag, I’m sure I could return us all to our
customary magnitudities in the blink of an eye."
"And if I had my old Love Magnet in my pocket, we’d
surely love this size that’s come upon us," the Shaggy Man added, his eyes
a-twinkle. "But you don’t and I don’t, Wizard, so it seems we’ll just have
to bear up under it."
"Why, it’s not so bad t’be a diff’rent size, you know,"
Dorothy declared. "It doesn’t seem to hurt at all."
"But there are some plain disadvantages, and—coward that
I am—I cannot help but worry about them," said the Cowardly Lion. "We might
trip over our own shadows, for example; for though a shadow’s thickness may
be disregarded by a person of normal size, we are no bigger than a bug’s ear
"It doesn’t really worry you, does it, Lion?" asked
Dorothy with a dainty laugh.
"Not really," he admitted. "But only because my natural
cowardice is as small as I am."
"I think we have no reason for concern," advised Ozma.
"When Glinda hears of all this from the Pink Kitten, she will consult her
books of magical recipes and put something together to restore us. Eureka
can move swiftly; perhaps it will only be a few hours before she reaches
At that moment the royal party, all gathered together at
one spot on the floor before Ozma’s throne, heard a sound, then another,
then another—like the boom of distant thunder. "What’s that?" cried Betsy
"I re-cog-nize those sounds," answered Tik-Tok, "for I
have heard them ma-ny times, as have you all. It is on-ly the sound of
foot-steps up-on the tiled floor of the throne room."
"Footsteps? Seems they ought to be attached to someone’s
feet," Cap’n Bill commented. "I see no-one, though."
"But perhaps we are too small, and too close to the
floor, to see off into the distance," the Wizard said. "The other side of
the room is miles away, in a manner of speaking—for that is how it is for
The rhythmic booming continued, and made everyone
nervous. "I do wish it would stop!" said Trot.
Tik-Tok, who had been attending carefully, now spoke up
again. "My me-chan-i-cal eyes are all of brass and o-ther fine me-tals, and
they func-tion ex-ceed-ing-ly well when I am pro-per-ly wound. I can make
out that it is Jel-li-a Jamb who has en-tered this room."
"She has come in to clean, for it is that time of
morning," Ozma said. "That may present a danger to us. She will go over the
whole floor with her mop."
"I have always regarded an excess of cleanliness to be a
grave danger indeed," remarked the Shaggy Man.
"Bein’ clean ain’t the danger s’much as bein’ squashed
flat under her big feet, or swished away by her mop," said Cap’n Bill. "I
say we cut anchor and find us a hidin’ place. Seems we haven’t a hope o’
makin’ contact with a little girl big as th’ Rock o’ Gibraltar."
The Hungry Tiger, who had padded away from the group for
a minute in search of something to slake his ever-present hunger, now came
bounding back, just in time to hear what Cap’n Bill was saying. "If what is
needed is a place to hide, I’ve found one."
"What have you found?" asked Ozma.
"It’s a big ditch," he replied; "and I must say,
Excellent Princess, I am rather surprised to find such a thing in your
They all hastened to follow the striped beast, as the
menacing sounds of Jellia Jamb, and what might have been her mop, were
growing nearer. Soon they came to the edge of a great furrow, about twelve
feet wide and half as much deep (so it seemed to them), running off out of
sight to the right and the left, in a straight line.
"My!" said Dorothy. "I’ve never noticed this before."
"But of course you have, Dorothy," admonished the Wizard
indulgently. "I do believe it’s just one of the many cracks between the
square tiles with which the floor is paved."
"Step off the edge, everyone, and my wand will help you
down to the bottom," Ozma said.
Soon they were all standing in a row in the narrow flat
space at the bottom of the crevice, between the sloping sides. "That’s
better," observed Betsy. "Even if Jellia steps right on top of us, her
shoes’ll just make a roof to the ditch."
"Now this is somethin’," said Cap’n Bill, taking the pipe
from his mouth and bending over. "I’d say somethin’ has rubbed along the
bottom of this crack. Along the sides, too." They all looked, and indeed it
seemed that parts of the surface had been rubbed smooth by large objects
passing along it, perhaps over and over.
"Oh, let’s follow the trail!" Trot exclaimed, and before
anyone could reply she had run off. So there was nothing to do but follow
They caught up with Trot soon enough but continued to
stroll along single-file, for even Ozma and the fretful Cowardly Lion were
anxious to discover if there were any secret inhabitants in the throne room.
"They’d have to be awful small, though," said Dorothy.
"We’re small ourselves, do remember," retorted the Shaggy
Man. "They may be more than we can handle."
Ozma said, "I believe I still have enough magic to ward
off danger—and there are the Lion and the Tiger as well. So I intend to go
on; I think it’s my duty, you know."
"I al-so am a fierce fight-er," added Tik-Tok. "I am
ne-ver trou-bled by me-tal fa-tigue."
They trekked on for more than an hour, passing a number
of intersections where the edges of other tiles crossed their route. But the
Wizard pointed out that these other cracks showed no sign of use, so the
little expedition continued straight on.
Eventually Dorothy said, "Look, it’s all bright up ahead,
just like when the sky is all filled up with white clouds."
"I’d venture that we are approaching the wall of the
throne room," suggested the Shaggy Man.
"It’s not all bright, you know," Trot observed.
"The crack is headin’ right at something dark." And so it was. The darkness
was as big to them as a movie screen would be to us. It had fairly even,
straight sides, and a rounded top like an arch.
"Why, it’s a mouse hole in the wall!" said little
Dorothy. "Ozma, you should have set out some mousetraps."
"As if I would deliberately do such a thing to a poor
tiny creature!" protested the dainty princess of Oz.
"But after all, they can’t die."
"Perhaps not," Ozma replied; "but it would annoy
them. Remember, they are my subjects just as much as anyone. In fact, I
ought to meet with them, to find out if there is anything I can do to make
them happy, as we share houses, it seems."
"Worryin’ about the happiness o’ the mice!" grumbled
Cap’n Bill. "That’s fairyland for you."
They marched on under the archway and into a deep
darkness. Ozma withdrew her wand and caused it to produce a gentle emerald
light, which was sufficient to allow them to see their way forward.
"I don’t believe I ever anticipated being shut up inside
a wall," the Hungry Tiger muttered. "If there are fat babies here to be
eaten, they will be mouse-babies, and that’s no delicacy to a tiger." But he
kept his growly voice very low, for he knew Princess Ozma would never
countenance the idea.
"Now it seems to me there is a further mystery about all
this," commented the Wizard thoughtfully. "Mice are very small, but even the
tiniest mouse could never have made his way along a crack between floor
"I’ve been having a thought on that matter myself," the
Shaggy Man responded. "Perhaps it was just the very tips of their tails that
dragged along inside the crack, which they must have used as a landmark to
guide them home."
At that moment Ozma silenced them. "There is light up
ahead!" She put out her wand, and they all could make out a faint white
illumination which slowly grew brighter as they continued to walk. They
passed through a space between some boards, which overhung above them like a
great bridge, and found themselves looking out at a new wonder of the Land
They beheld an open space that seemed (to them) to extend
for miles; in fact, the further extent of it, even straight up above, was
lost in shadow. Within this space was a city of tall buildings many stories
in height, which seemed to be built of various odds and ends—twigs, bits of
concrete, scraps of paper, tiny nails bigger than telephone poles, shreds of
colored cloth, and all manner of cast-off things somehow fastened tightly
together. The sides of the buildings had no windows: instead they were
dotted by row after row of square doors, all of them uncovered. A ladder
depended from each door, leading down to the ground.
The buildings were grouped about a sort of central
square—though it was not so much square as round—and this square was crammed
with thousands of people, people who happened to be mice, every one of them.
Every other mouse appeared to be sitting down on the floor, the others
standing between on their hind legs. The Wizard pointed out, in a low voice,
that the seated mice all wore colorful scarves about their necks, while the
standing mice wore little round collars, such as a dog might wear.
"They’re watching a show!" whispered Dorothy.
At the center of the public square was a raised platform
strewn with banners, and on this platform stood two dignified mouse-men,
waving their arms and exclaiming loudly—though it was not easy to make out
the subjects—and now and then, it seemed, breaking into bits of song. The
crowd of mice seemed to find this a moving performance altogether, as every
now and then they broke into furies of applause, laughter, or cries of
appreciation. The result was a continuous tumult.
"It is easy to guess what this is," commented the Wizard,
"for I have seen many of them in my time. It is a political rally."
"Ah, yes indeedy," agreed the Shaggy Man; and Cap’n Bill
was also seen to nod.
"It is e-vi-dent these pal-ace mice are or-gan-ized as a
re-pub-lic, al-though they live un-der a mon-arch," Tik-Tok added. He then
turned to Ozma and said, "They may not be hos-pi-ta-ble to o-ver-tures from
"Nevertheless it is my duty to try," responded Ozma. "Let
us see what happens as it happens, and not presume the worst."
"Mighty good advice, that," Cap’n Bill commented. "On
t’other hand, I expect many a good ship has gone down in a storm, sailin’
under just that philosophy."
What the Ambassador Had to Say
Betsy Bobbin had been
standing quite enthralled, gazing at the scene of mouse politics, but when
she heard Ozma’s determination she spoke up right away. "No one could fault
you for wanting to do your duty, Ozma," said she. "But it won’t be so easy
as you think, cause we’re as small next to those mice as a mouse is next to
a reg’lar sized person. I don’t expect they’ll be able to hear you; and even
if you do get ’em to take some notice, they might just set on you with a
broom, like people do when they see a mouse."
"A cheery thought!" said the Hungry Tiger sarcastically.
"I can face any broom, even a giant one, in defense of my
friends and my princess," declared the Cowardly Lion. "I will be trembling
with fear, of course; but I shall do my duty."
"No one will need to face a broom, I think," said Ozma
with a smile, "for I have had an idea. Wizard, though I am powerless to make
any of us larger—not even as large as these mice—I wonder if I might not be
able to enlarge our shadows, and let them represent us."
"But what good’ll our shadows do?" inquired Dorothy.
"I propose to animate them, to allow them to walk about
like living things, and speak our own thoughts to the mice. And then, when
the mice reply, the shadows will hear them with their big shadow-ears; and
it never fails but that whatever is heard by the ears of your shadow is also
heard straightway by you yourself."
The Wizard stroked his chin and nodded, and the Shaggy
Man said, "I think you may have something there, Princess."
Ozma grasped her wand and concentrated. The shadows of
each member of the little group, which were spread out upon the floor behind
them, began to rise, like awakening people getting up in the morning. And as
they rose, they expanded as well, very rapidly.
It was President Harcheevchack who first noticed the
shadows, strange chunks of darkness moving about beyond the edge of the
Common Herd, as the ordinary mouse-citizens of the Republic of
Eroveechkeevna were known. He said the rest of his prepared speech very
quickly, then pointed. "Citizens, we are visited by most peculiar
creatures!" There was a hubbub of fear and curiosity, and the police cleared
an open way for the shadows to use in approaching the platform.
"Please do not be alarmed!" cried the dainty shadow of
Princess Ozma. "We are only harmless shadows, here to confer with your
leaders in a peaceable manner."
"Then it’s all right," said the other mouse,
Sorgheefdrock, who was also a President of the mouse republic. "We shall
postpone this debate for a brief time. But I caution you, Mr. President—do
not take advantage of this interruption to get any fresh ideas."
"Such a thing would not occur to me, Mr.
President," retorted President Harcheevchack, "though it appears to have
occurred to you."
One by one the various shadows climbed the seven steps up
to the top of the platform, where the shadow of Ozma said, "Now then, to
whom shall I address myself?"
"I represent the people," stated President Harcheevchack.
"As for me, I represent the persons," declared
"Oh dear!" murmured the shadow of Ozma. She consulted
with the shadow of the Wizard for a moment. Then she said: "I shall speak
with the both of you with even hands and an equal footing. Or do you mind?"
"I like the even hands," said one President.
"I like the equal footing," said the other.
"Very well. She who is my source and origin—she who casts
me—is Princess Ozma of Oz. Perhaps you are unaware that your city here is a
part of Oz, and indeed lies within Ozma’s own royal palace. But she is—"
"Yes, yes, Ozma, rightful ruler, Emerald City and all
that," said one or the other impatiently.
"We are well aware of political conditions among the
Colossicans," added a different one or the other.
"We’re humans—or Ozites—but I’m sure we’re not
C’losticians," said Dorothy with some indignation.
"Ah, but you are," retorted a President. "For that is
what we call you semi-hairless giants of the Oversized World. What you
choose to call yourselves is none of our business."
"And how is it your shadows are as small as we are?" a
"Let us just say that we are now offered at cut-rate,"
was the Wizard’s reply to this question. He did not think it wise to go into
"Then do I take it you already know of affairs in the
Land of Oz?" asked the Ozma-shadow.
"Surely we do," said Sorgheefdrock; "for are we not mice?
Do we not go everywhere, and overhear everything?"
The Cowardly Lion now mustered up the shadow of a
threatening growl. "If that is so, then how comes it to be that you have not
presented yourselves to your royal sovereign over all these many years, nor
to Oz the Great and Terrible, who once held the throne and whose shadow now
stands here before you?"
"Yes!" exclaimed Cap’n Bill pugnaciously. "How come?"
"I hope you are not so benighted as to believe that we,
citizens and leaders of this great Republic of Eroveechkeevna, would come to
grovel before the tyrant ruler of a monarchy!" declared one of the
Presidents. "No offense, ma’am," he added.
"If we are now asking questions, I have another," said
the Shaggy Man. "Where does all this fine light come from? Do you have
electricity down here?"
"Are we not mice?" cried President Harcheevchack. "Are we
not of the race which first invented that humble but clever servant the
electron, the race which first electified its living spaces?"
"I really think it came out of Edison," the shadow
of Dorothy pronounced. "And he was not a mouse, you know."
"Let us strive for a peaceful harmony of nations,
whatever our historical views," urged the President called Sorgheefdrock.
"It may well be time to establish relations of a diplomatic sort. We only
wish to know that Ozma, as one of the line of absolute tyrants derived from
the Original Original appointed by the fairy Lurline, does not wish to
conquer and enslave us."
"I would never do such a thing!" exclaimed the
shadow of Ozma. "By ‘I’ I mean ‘she,’ of course."
"Well, your word is good enough for us," said
Harcheevchack. "You are known to be kindly and honest, for a tyrant."
There now commenced a discussion of life in the Rodential
Republic of Eroveechkeevna. It developed that the mice were democratic in
spirit and held elections frequently to decide all sorts of things. At
present the question before the Common Herd was whether the incumbent First
President, Harcheevchack, would be permitted to continue in that office, or
would be turned out in favor of Sorgheefdrock, who was at present the
Dorothy asked Harcheevchack what would become of him if
he were voted out. "That won’t happen, of course," responded the mouse. "But
if it does, by our laws I take over the office vacated by my rival
Sorgheefdrock. I would then be Premier President."
"But what is the diff’rence between First Pres’dent and
Premier Pres’dent?" inquired Trot (who had already guessed the answer).
"Difference? There is no difference at all; they are
exactly equal-stequal, as we say," replied one or the other of them. "If one
office were better than the other, no sane person would wish to hold
the lesser of them and the whole system would collapse."
"Aye, that’s so," commented Cap’n Bill with a wink in
Trot’s direction. "But why have the election at all?"
"Because we like elections," said Sorgheefdrock.
"We find them most stimulating," continued his rival.
"Besides, we think they build civic feeling and good character."
"I always thought you mice had kings and queens,"
remarked the shadow of Princess Dorothy. "A long time ago, I met the Queen
of the Field Mice, who was a great help to me and my friends."
Harcheevchack nodded. "Yes; and it must have been
quite a time ago. Since those days, democratic revolution has swept
through all the nations of mousekind. All are republics now—on this
continent, at least. That queen of yours is long since deposed."
"Oh!" cried Dorothy. "That’s a shame."
"You needn’t feel sad for her," continued the President.
"The citizens of the field mouse nation immediately elected her to the new
office of Supreme President-For-Life and granted her absolute authority over
everything. Really, it is just a change of title."
"Your be-tailed race has evolved into politicians of the
most thoroughgoing variety," the Wizard-shadow commented. "And I do know
what politicians are like, for I am related to the famous Nebraska
politician William Jennings Bryan."
"I’ve heard of him," the Dorothy-shadow said, speaking on
behalf of the real Dorothy. "How are you related?"
"We are second-cousins on his gardener’s side."
The party of shadows talked some more with the two
presidents, and when there was a brief pause in the flow of speech
Tik-Tok—that is, his shadow—asked, "Per-haps you will sat-is-fy my
cur-i-o-si-ty, which is built in-to my thin-king ac-tion. Why are some of
your cit-i-zens seat-ed and wear-ing scarves, while the o-thers are
stan-ding and wear-ing col-lars?"
The two presidents exchanged glances of surprise. "Do you
not have eyes, ball-shaped being?" demanded Sorgheefdrock. "Can you not see
plainly that those in scarves are our females, and those in collars our
"I did not no-tice that," replied the clockwork shadow.
"Why are your women all seated upon the ground?" inquired
the Shaggy Man. "There are those who would call it a bit unseemly."
"They are all seated because the men are all standing,"
was Harcheevchack’s answer. "And if the females were to stand up, the men
would have to sit down."
"I see," said the Shaggy Man; though in fact he did not.
"My goodness, I don’t!" exclaimed the shadow of Tiny
Both presidents looked at Trot with an expression
bordering on pity. "You are young; perhaps you do not yet understand the way
of things," Harcheevchack said. "Male and female are different, and the
difference is an entirely sensible and deliberate one, planned and
instituted by Nature. It follows logically that male and female must
continue to be different in all respects. When one stands, the other sits.
When one smiles, the other frowns. When one speaks, the other must be
silent—and vice versa."
"Do you understand now, small Collosican?" inquired
Sorgheefdrock. Trot was about to make what would probably have been taken as
a rude retort. But there was an unexpected interruption.
A brown mouse was scurrying his way through the crowd
toward the platform. He mounted the platform and bowed low to the two
presidents. "I apologize for my tardiness, Your Electivities," said he. "I
was held back for a time in the Winkie Country by an odd catlike creature
made of crystal, who wished to ask questions."
Said the shadow of Cap’n Bill, "Sounds to me as like
you’ve met a mate of ours. Was the kitty made all o’ glass?"
"Yes, shadowed sir, now that you mention it."
"But what do you s’pose the Glass Cat was doing in the
Winkie Country?" wondered the shadow of Trot.
President Sorgheefdrock gestured and said, "Shadows, I
present the ambassador from the Republic of Beevboobrala, Torseechundo. We
know him well in our city. Mr. Ambassador, I give you the shadow of the
chief of the local Collosican monarchy, Ozma."
The ambassador bowed (though only halfway) and the shadow
of Ozma nodded respectfully. "We shall have to make your acquaintance," she
"Did the Glass Cat happen to say what she was up to?"
"Not definitely," responded the ambassador. "She asked
after the route to the Vegetable Kingdom of the Mangaboos, and mentioned
someone travelling with her, a certain Ruggedo."
"Ruggedo!" cried Dorothy in alarm. "Why would she be
going around with that old Nome King?"
"Why indeed?" muttered the Shaggy Man with a sage look.
"It cannot be for the sake of friendship, for Bungle has
no friends," the Wizard noted. "Her ruby heart will not permit any
friendship to enter it."
"It seems most like-ly to me that the Glass Cat has been
ab-duc-ted," declared the shadow of Tik-Tok. "Al-though Rug-ge-do has
re-formed, he has al-rea-dy re-formed se-ver-al times and it has ne-ver
The Wizard puckered his brow. "And let it not escape our
notice that the Vegetable Kingdom was mentioned. I still remember our visit
to the Mangaboos—Dorothy, Eureka, and myself."
"My goodness, Wizard, that was so long ago,"
Dorothy commented. "Too me it’s pretty much a jumble."
The little Wizard smiled. "Yes, my dear, but as a
charlatan and humbug—now reformed—it was necessary that I develop a very
sharp memory, as my tricks depended on it."
"If Bungle has been kidnapped by the former Nome King, we
may have to mount a rescue expedition," said Ozma’s shadow firmly. "I won’t
have members of my court being stolen." The shadow of the princess curtseyed
to the pair of presidents with great regal dignity and said, "I have done my
duty here, but now it seems I must repair to the throne room of the Emerald
Palace, there to consult with the sorceress Glinda and my other advisors. I
hope you will forgive my hasty departure, men of mousehood."
"I’m sure we’ll forgive it, and quickly too," replied
"Indeed, we ourselves were on the verge of suggesting
it," added President Harcheevchack politely.
Beneath the Deadly Desert
"Well now," said Bungle
the Glass Cat upon returning to the Nome King after her meeting with the
brown mouse, "I am quite impatient for us to get along on this trip of
Ruggedo gave her an amicable nod. "The two children are
approaching even now. They have finished eating, and so have I. Do you ever
"Hmmph!" she replied. "I am not built to eat. The only
thing I could eat would be my words—and I never have to."
Having thanked the Winkie couple who had hosted them for
lunch, Stot and Junipee rejoined Ruggedo and the Glass Cat, refreshed and
ready to proceed.
"Do we really know where we’re going, Mr. King?" asked
"And why would you care, you fortunate youth?" returned
the Nome King mildly. "Are you not happy in my presence?"
"Sure—now an’ then. But I get cranky if I don’t have my
"He really does," Junipee confirmed.
"I will see that he gets his nap," declared the Nome
King, "for I cannot abide crankiness." Of course, Ruggedo himself was always
cranky; but as he could not abide even himself, his statement was true.
Off they went following Bungle, who now pattered along
with renewed confidence and vanity, her tail in the air like a little
flagpole of glass—for she knew where she was going. "I will leave the fate
of those shrunken people in the paws of that powderpuff of a Pink Kitten,"
her thoughts murmured to her brain. "These people appreciate me, even if
they don’t know that it is me whom they appreciate."
They travelled westward, on something of a northern
slant. This was a longer distance than that from Ruggedo’s cave to the
environs of the Emerald City, yet they completed it in less than half the
time: for the directions provided by the brown mouse guided them away from
all obstructions and difficult stretches. Stot had his nap on a bed of
clover and dandelions, and around suppertime they came to a Winkie
metropolis of three cottages gathered at a clearing in the woods, where they
were given such food as they required, and a place to sleep the night.
By the early afternoon of the day following, the trek
through the yellow Winkie Country came to its end. The foursome had left the
Great Dark Winkie Forest some time earlier, and now were passing through a
sort of prairie landscape sprinkled with low rounded hills. Finally they
came out from the shadow of one such hill, and Junipee cried: "Look!"
A mile or so away the yellow grasses and amber shrubs
faded out rather suddenly, as if at the edge of a shoreline. The earth
sloped downward for a handful of yards to meet a great, ugly barrenness of
brown and tan and especially gray.
"Ah! Now there is a pretty sight," exclaimed
Ruggedo. "You children may not think so, for you are used to living among
the garish-colored molds that infect the surface of the world—and I don’t
care what you think of it, cat of glass—; but to a Nome, this vista
is one of serenity and uplift."
"Is that your plan, Your Former Majesty?" inquired
Junipee in a mocking tone; "to ‘uplift’ us over it? Cause if that’s the
Deadly Desert, I hear tell nobody can so much as touch it and live."
Ruggedo’s eyes widened a bit (for as much as he disliked
being contradicted, he liked being made fun of even less) but he remembered
to keep his temper under control. "That is the Deadly Desert, little
miss smarty-boots, and my mentioning my admiration for its appearance does
not mean I fail to recognize its power. Nomes are living creatures too, you
"And don’t forget me," interjected the Glass Cat. "I was
created by means of the wonderful Powder of Life, and I wouldn’t want to
lose what it gave me."
"Eureka, you told us you were already alive when that
Magic Belt turned you to glass," said Junipee in a suspicious tone.
"Precisely!" Bungle retorted, brains whirling. "But you
don’t suppose life of the meat kind could continue on in a glass body, do
you? Ozma had to use the Powder to make the glass alive."
"Well… whatever." Junipee turned back to the Nome King,
who was watching this exchange with amusement. "So how are we supposed to
get across this desert?"
"I know, I know!" shouted little Stot gleefully. "We can
go across the same way Yoo-reeka did before!"
This answer worried the Glass Cat. The mouse had told her
the exact route up to the desert, and how to continue on the other side. But
she had no idea how to get across, and couldn’t recall the story of how
Dorothy and Eureka had gotten across in the first place.
However, there was no need to worry, as Ruggedo had
already taken the desert into account. "If you have paid attention while
studying the history of Oz in school," he began; but then he stopped for
Junipee and Stot were looking at him blankly. So he turned to the Glass Cat,
whom he thought was Eureka.
"Don’t look at me," she said. "Cats don’t go to school.
We are born wise."
This time Ruggedo’s eyes narrowed rather than widened,
but he held his temper in check and said, "Yes, of course. Well then, some
years ago—and ‘some’ in this case means ‘very many’—when I came to visit my
Magic Belt in the Emerald City, I came by way of an underground tunnel."
The Glass Cat flashed Ruggedo an insolent smile. "As if
there were such a thing as a tunnel not underground!"
The Nome King scowled and growled, but continued. "I came
by tunnel, as I say, passing harmlessly beneath the desert. My Nomes dug it
for me, running it straight as a line from my cavern capitol to the royal
palace of Ozma. As I knew the four of us would be heading toward the land of
the Mangaboos, which is approximately beneath my old dominions, I have
anticipated that we would reach the edge of the Deadly Desert somewhere
close to the place where the tunnel crosses—for it still exists."
"Does not!" said Bungle. "I was told by—that is, I happen
to recall—that Princess Ozma used the Magic Belt to fill-in the tunnel after
that visit of yours, which most people call an invasion, you know."
"Of that I am well aware," responded the Nome sourly.
"Ozma has created a virtual industry of spreading false stories about the
Nomes. But I know something no-one else knows. The transformations produced
by the Magic Belt are not entirely permanent. After a span of ninety-one
years, four months, three weeks, two days, eight hours, twelve minutes, and
fifty-three and one-third seconds—approximately—the transformation wears off
and must be re-applied. By my calculations the air within the tunnel, which
was transformed by Ozma to stone and dirt, has now become air again."
"Then somebody could fall in at the end and get stuck,"
Stot pointed out with a little laugh. He found the image amusing.
"The last few feet, on the grounds of the palace, were
filled-in immediately upon my departure, by hand. The Magic Belt handled the
rest; and it is only that remainder that concerns us."
Junipee looked right and left, skeptically. "If your
tunnel is underground, like a subway, just how do you plan to find out where
"My native abilities as a Nome allow me to feel the
general layout of the underground regions," replied Ruggedo. "I can tell
that the tunnel lies just a bit further north. When we are directly over it,
I will cause the gravel and rocks beneath our feet to roll out of the way,
which will also carry off some of the dirt. We will then have an opening
through which to descend to the tunnel."
The foursome travelled northward along the edge of the
Deadly Desert. A short time later the former Nome King stopped and
announced, "Here!—we are over the tunnel." He then sank down upon his
narrow, spidery knees and placed the palms of his hands flat upon the
ground. After a minute, muffled noises and slight vibrations began to issue
through the ground. A minute more, and a hole, like a well, yawned open.
"Are there lights?" asked Stot. "I don’t want to stumble.
Besides, I don’t like the dark."
"He can make the rocks light up, Stot," Junipee
admonished, "just like he did in his little cave."
"Indeed I can," confirmed Ruggedo. "Now then, down we
They all climbed down the hole, using big rocks sticking
out of the sides as if they were stair-steps. Upon reaching the bottom, the
Nome waved his arms and they were flooded with a soft light. The broad
tunnel was revealed, stretching like a highway into the distance in both
"It’s not so big as the Holland Tunnel, but I guess it’ll
do," remarked Junipee. They commenced walking steadily in that portion of
the tunnel that went toward the west. This part of the trip was very dull.
Not much was happening underground, it seemed. Every now and then the Glass
Cat spied an earthworm hurrying out of the way, and she recollected that her
overall knowledge of how to get to Mangaboo came from such creatures. It
felt like a great indignity.
Though there was no way to know when it was nighttime
overhead, the two meat people knew when they were becoming sleepy, and even
the rock person had to sleep at intervals. So they slept in the tunnel,
Junipee and Stot sleeping upon stone mattresses made soft and springy by the
Nome King’s magic.
But Bungle, being a conglomeration of crystal, had no
need for sleep. She restlessly wandered ahead up the tunnel—for even a cat
of glass is curious. She meandered along for a mile or more when her sharp
emerald eyes caught a glint of something in the tunnel wall. A very large
hazel-colored eye, about twice as big as a human person’s, was gazing at her
steadily through a crack between two rocks.
"Hello," Bungle said indifferently, walking on; for
though she was curious, she was too vain to show it.
After a few minutes she again saw a big eye staring
through another crack, this time on the other side of the tunnel.
"Good evening," said she. There was no response, and she
A good deal further along, she paused to stretch herself
from end to end, as cats do. During the course of this elaborate stretch she
happen to look up at the tunnel ceiling; and there, looking down at her, was
another one of the eyes.
"I don’t mind if you some out to look at me," Bungle
said. "If you get closer you will see more easily that I am crystal-clear
and a great pleasure to the eye. Even taken by themselves my brains are a
marvel to observe; you can see ’em work."
"Can’t," said a voice as deep as a cavern, slightly
muffled and seeming to come from all directions at once.
"That’s too bad," responded the Glass Cat. "I’m sure I
would feel sorry for you if my heart were of some soft material." She
noticed now that a dozen more eyes were looking at her from all sides. It
was curiosity that caused her to say, "Couldn’t a few of you come out into
"Can’t," came the same voice; and more eyes appeared
behind more cracks.
"Just how many of you are there?" demanded the cat.
Bungle could not help showing some surprise at this. "You
mean to tell me there’s just one of you?"
"Truth," was the response, which Bungle took to mean,
"And all these different eyes go back to the same body?"
The Glass Cat considered this for a moment. She was not
at all afraid, but her curiosity had been tuned to a high pitch by this
peculiar situation. "Well," said said finally, "since there’s just one of
you, what is your name?"
"Sounds a bit foreign," she commented. "I am Bungle, the
famous Glass Cat of Oz. There!—now you know. Perhaps, though, I shouldn’t
have told you. Kindly refer to me as ‘Eureka’ when others are about, won’t
"Eureka," repeated Geodd.
"Ha! Multiple syllables. Tell me, then, how long has
there been just one of you?"
The answer was, "Always."
"And how long is that?"
"Always," said Geodd again.
"I take it you’re some sort of ignoramus," commented
Bungle. "Perhaps you can’t help it. Do you live inside the ground?"
"And just what do you do there?"
"Are you lonesome for company, perhaps?"
"No," said Geodd.
"Then I’ll be moving on," said the Glass Cat. "You don’t
mind, do you?"
"Truth," was the reply, which Bungle understood to mean,
"Then goodbye." As there was no reply to this, Bungle
turned and trotted back to where Stot and Junipee and the old Nome King were
sleeping. One by one, the many eyes of Geodd, whatever strange sort of thing
he was, withdrew from the cracks he had been looking through, leaving
The Rescue Expedition
When at last the royal
party of Princesss Ozma had returned to the palace throne room, Jellia Jamb
had finished her mopping and cleaning, and had gone on to other rooms. The
throne room was empty and again safe for the tiny people to inhabit.
As the party rose out of the tile-crack with the
assistance of Ozma’s silver wand, Princess Dorothy called out, "What’s that
over there?" She could see a hazy form of green and pink resting upon the
floor like a cloud low on the horizon. The huge form immediately began to
move, and could be recognized as Eureka the Pink Kitten, who wore about her
neck a collar of emerald green.
"Why Eureka! Are you back so soon?" exclaimed Betsy.
"Yes, I’ve returned; and if you want to know why, you
must question that wicked Glass Cat who is kept around here for reasons
that, I confess, I can’t comprehend," responded Eureka with the languid
indignation typical of cats.
"The Glass Cat again!" snorted Cap’n Bill. "Seems she’s
into ever’thing at once."
Eureka told how Bungle had misdirected her. "It was what
we used to call in Kansas a wild duck chase, for when I got to the Tin
Castle the Tin Woodman was there with the Scarecrow just like normal; and of
course there was no sign of Glinda at all. I turned over in my mind whether
to go on directly to Glinda’s castle down south; but I became anxious."
"Were you worried about us, dear?" asked Dorothy.
"No. I was anxious to see the Glass Cat punished."
"Bungle cannot be blamed for her attitude, for she is an
artificial creature and acts in accord with how she is made," said Ozma to
Eureka, gently. "But your heart is able to feel affection, and I know
you feel some for the Glass Cat."
"Perhaps so," replied Eureka as she licked a paw. "But it
must run very, very deep."
"And now, Princess, I think the ball is in your court,"
said the little Wizard of Oz. "If a rescue expedition is to be organized, it
is you who must authorize it."
"The al-ter-na-tive is to a-wait the ar-ri-val of the
sor-cer-ess Glin-da, and thus to re-gain our pro-per sta-tures," noted
Tik-Tok, who was being carefully rewound by Trot even as he spoke these
"But we don’t actually know whether Glinda can assist us,
or how long the process of reversal will take," Ozma said thoughtfully.
"She’s a whiz with magic and all," Cap’n Bill observed.
"But this special reducing diet the Wizard has exposed us to strikes me as
mostly scientific and mechanical, not s’much magical."
"That is a very excellent point," yawned the Hungry
Tiger—for some people tend to yawn when they are hungry. "I suspect
mechanics wasn’t much stressed during her education, hmm?"
"There is a further reason why I have decided we ought
not wait for Glinda," said Ozma. "Perhaps the Pink Kitten is mistaken in
supposing that what Bungle said she overheard is just so much mischief. It
may prove to be the case that Glinda was indeed making a visit to the Tin
Woodman, but simply had not yet arrived."
"Didn’t think of that," Eureka admitted. "I just went
with the odds, you know."
"Then as you have made your decision, Your Highness, the
next step is to name the members of your expedition, and to plan its
actions," advised the Wizard.
"I appoint all of you," Ozma responded. "I know you all
wish to go, and I know anyone left behind would feel disappointed."
They all bowed to their sovereign in one way or another,
even the animals: though Tik-Tok’s bow was what some might term perfunctory
"I suppose I don’t mind going," mewed the Pink Kitten.
"But I won’t have it gotten about that my purpose is to rescue that crazed
article of rotten glass Bungle. I think Ruggedo the Nome King is the main
danger, as he is not only wicked but smart; unlike Bungle, who is only
"Old Ruggedo surely is the main event," agreed Dorothy.
"Ozma, maybe we ought to bring along a canteen of water from the Forbidden
The Forbidden Fountain, on the grounds of the palace, was
so named because of a sign attached to it forbidding anyone to drink of its
inviting waters. These waters, the Waters of Oblivion, caused anyone who
drank to forget everything about themselves and to become as a child.
"Those waters are a marvel and a miracle, without a
doubt," observed the Shaggy Man. "But I can’t help saying that they’ve been
more than a little over-sold in their time—like hair tonics. The Nome King
himself took the gulp twice already, and all that really happened was that
he changed his name."
"That’s so," conceded Ozma. "It seems the effect wears
off over time, especially when one is exposed again to old surroundings and
habits. A person might even become immune, eventually."
"Guess you’re right," Dorothy said. "But what’ll we do?"
Ozma plopped herself down on the floor, no longer
affecting the airs of a royal princess but acting like the young girl she
really was. "I don’t really know what to do," she said. "Ruggedo
still has all the magical abilities of his race. We can hardly win by going
up against him directly; not when we are so small in size."
"I am sometimes annoyed by tics, and have to scratch,"
remarked the Cowardly Lion after a long and silent moment. "Being the size
we are, we might crawl up Ruggedo’s legs and bite him."
"We’re talkin’ about a fellow made all o’ rock," Cap’n
Bill retorted scornfully. "I’d like t’ see even your big teeth bite
into a hunk o’ granite, Lion."
"Well, I have some advice for our princess," said the
Wizard, hastening to forestall a quarrel. "I think we ought to do what we
must to get ourselves close to Ruggedo and Bungle—as close as possible.
Along the way we might think of something; in any event, we will have
to be close if we are to put any plan into operation."
"My clock-work men-tal-i-ty has come to the same
con-clu-sion," Tik-Tok droned.
"Then that is just what we shall do," decreed the
Rightful Ruler of Oz.
"We’ll need something to transport us, Ozma," Betsy
Bobbin noted. "You know, with Eureka here as our go-between, we could speak
to Hank and ask him to help us." Hank the Mule was Betsy’s personal friend
among the palace livestock.
"Would not the Sawhorse be the better choice?" asked the
Shaggy Man. "He is tireless and swift, which would be an advantage."
Dorothy thought of her Yellow Hen. "There’s Billina,
too—and she can fly—a little bit—and lay eggs."
Ozma laughed sweetly at these many suggestions. "What a
lot to choose from! But I don’t suppose any of them is as good at tracking
scents as is our Pink Kitten here. And also, we must remember that Ruggedo
seems to intend to visit Mangaboo, and we might not cross his path before
then. Though Dorothy and the Wizard may happen to recall something of the
way, Eureka has memories of the smell of the route, not just how it looks to
the eye; and that does double-duty for us."
Dorothy walked over to her Pink Kitten as if to pet her,
but of course that was not possible. She could only pat the end of Eureka’s
toe-nail. "Do you remember Mangaboo, Eureka, and the way we took when we
"I have a scent-picture of it in my mind, to be sure,"
replied Eureka. "But I trust you remember that we never did reach the
top of the ground at the end of our climb. Ozma transported us with that
Magic Belt she has."
"That’s true enough," said Ozma, "but perhaps it is not
as important as you think. I have studied Professor Wogglebug’s map of Oz
and the surrounding countries a great deal over the years, and I know how to
find that portion of the top of the earth that lies closest to the
underground kingdom of Mangaboo. All that is needed is for Eureka to guide
us the last little bit, when we go down into the earth."
"Well, if that’s all you require, Your Majesty, I suppose
I can accommodate you," said Eureka. "But I’m no luxury liner. You’ll have
to make yourselves as comfortable as possible on my back somewhere. And I’m
warning you—anyone who chooses to act like a flea or a tic will be scratched
away without hesitation; for I can’t help it." She said this with a
meaningful glance toward the Cowardly Lion.
The matter was settled, then. Ozma’s silver wand conveyed
the members of the expedition of rescue to a nice little valley that lay
just behind Eureka’s shoulder blades, where, nudged up against the roots of
the kitten’s pink fur, they could not easily be dislodged. The expeditioners
consisted of the Wizard, Dorothy, Tik-Tok, Trot, Cap’n Bill, Betsy, the
Shaggy Man, and the two once-great beasts the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry
Tiger; with Princess Ozma, Rightful Ruler of Oz, their commander.
"All right!" bellowed the Cowardly Lion—for it was a long
way to Eureka’s ears, and his was the most powerful voice. "Forward march!"
Having been given some general directions by Ozma, the
Pink Kitten again departed the emerald palace, heading to the west.
Ozma’s army, whose name is Omby Amby, saw Eureka streak
past as he stood at attention beside the gateway to the palace grounds.
"There she goes again," he said to himself. "One wonders what a little pink
kitten could have to do that could be of any importance at all."
The Ship of the Sandamanders
After another solid day
of monotonous walking through the old tunnel of the Nomes, the Glass Cat
called a halt.
"Do remember, Your Supreme Boulder-Dash, that I can only
be expected to lead you down a route that I myself have been over," said
Bungle imperiously. "If this dreary hole-way leads to your former haunts, we
shall have to get out of it beforehand."
Ruggedo reddened like molten lava. He was not accustomed
to being addressed in this saucy a manner, and as he slowly became more and
more his old self, he was growing accustomed to it even less. "You dare
take such a tone with me, you transparently obtuse quasi-feline? Let me
"Oh, stop it!" commanded Junipee with so much authority
in her voice that both the Nome King and the Glass Cat were taken aback.
"Ruggy, you need Eureka to get where you want to go, and it isn’t rocket
science to figure that you should give her some slack. As for you, cat—"
"What about me?" demanded Bungle.
Junipee had no ready response, for she had not thought
ahead, and so she was glad when Stot chortled, "Carry on, Yoo-reeka!"
They trudged on again, and when Ruggedo had calmed down
he said, "Very well, madam. From what place on the surface does your trail
The Glass Cat recollected what the brown mouse had told
her. "No doubt you know of a certain mountain shaped like the top of a
"I do," said Ruggedo. "It lies within the Land of the
Phanfasms, just over the border from the Nome Dominions." He became rather
nervous. "I hope you’re not suggesting that we must have some contact with
those awful Phanfasms!"
"I doubt they’d give me any trouble," Bungled
replied. "And ‘I don’t care’ what they do to you, rock-heap—to
quote one of your memorable utterances. But in any event, we won’t be
needing to stop and ask directions."
"They don’t sound nice," commented Stot. "Are they
"Honestly, Stot!" remonstrated his sister. "Everyone
"Mr. King isn’t."
"Well, no," she admitted.
"And the cat is made of glass."
"That’s true. But there are different kinds of
people, and these are just two more of the kinds."
"To give the child his answer, the Phanfasms are a kind
of fairy-people called erbs," Ruggedo explained. "They are quite selfish
beings of an evil nature, and their sorcery is powerful indeed. We would do
well to avoid them and their dwelling place atop Mount Phantastico."
Stot sighed. "Couldn’t we ask them to do just a few
"We could not," replied the Nome King.
They travelled along for a few more hours. Then Ruggedo
announced that he could sense that they were no longer beneath the Deadly
Desert and had in fact crossed beneath the border of his old dominions,
where it would be safe to come to the surface.
"About time!" grumbled the Glass Cat, and the other two
surface-dwellers did not disagree. Ruggedo created another of his
up-and-down holes, and in minutes they were again standing in the open air,
gazing at the sun, which was low and red.
"Now then," Ruggedo said. "If we walk due south along the
edge of the desert, I rather think we shall arrive at Eureka’s mountain by
no later than the middle of tomorrow."
Junipee shook her head. "I rather think we
won’t. We have to sleep, and we have to eat." The Winkies had given them
some sandwiches to eat, and some water-lillies to drink from; but by now
they were all used up.
Ruggedo scowled, but said only, "Very well."
Just to be disagreeable, Bungle interjected: "So you may
say, but it’s not so well unless you find some human food for these two."
"How trying it must be to be a meat-person. Look
about you." The Nome King gestured grandly, indicating the barren rocky
landscape that constituted the upper shell of his former domain. "My nose
twitches from the delicious aroma of no less than four hundred varieties of
tasty minerals, sumptuous gems, and rich metals. They lie about your feet;
but you are unable to partake of them."
"Is there any rock-candy?" inquired Stot with enthusiasm.
"Why of course, child!" responded the Nome. "There is a
whole canyon of sweet blue pumice chips not far from—"
"Stot, he doesn’t talk like normal people do; don’t pay
him any attention, and don’t eat anything that he picks off the
ground!" ordered Junipee in her most motherly tone.
"I think, Stonework Santa, you’d do well to concentrate
on digging up some meat and potatoes," purred the Glass Cat.
Very few meat-people dwelt upon the surface of the Nome
Dominions. It was not that the Nomes were particularly unfriendly to them;
but the underground creatures were naturally taciturn, and the land itself
was dry and unfertile—quite the opposite of the Land of Oz. There was
another difference, too. This land beyond the desert was subject to extremes
of heat and cold which were unknown to the Ozites. All the more reason to
find shelter as well as food for Junipee and Stot; but the old Nome King had
no idea where to seek after it.
"I daren’t take you into the Nome caverns beneath us," he
observed, "for the Nomes would tell Kaliko, and we’d all be in the stew for
As they had been talking the sun had been sinking lower,
and now it was mostly behind the distant high mountains. The sky was
becoming dark and starry.
"My keen emerald eyesight has detected something,"
declared Bungle presently. "Perhaps you’d care to know what it is."
"What?" asked Junipee.
"Straight ahead is a light, which just now came on. It
may be coming from a house."
"I hope it’s a restaurant," Stot declared.
Junipee frowned, for she had picked up some fright from
Ruggedo: fear can be caught just like a cold. "It’s not—those
"How should I know?" demanded the Glass Cat. "I only see
a light, not the plaque over the door-bell."
"We will approach with due caution," said Ruggedo in a
low voice. "But we are still very far from Mount Phantastico." He said this
mostly to reassure himself, for he was very much afraid of the evil
They all crept toward the light, each in his own way.
Junipee simply walked as softly as she could. Stot simply walked; he knew
nothing of being quiet, except that it involved not talking. The Nome King
made a comical figure, tiptoeing on his sticklike legs and twiglike feet,
his round body hovering above them like a tethered balloon. As for Bungle
she continued as always, for creeping is what cats do by right of birth.
The light turned out to be a good deal further away than
they had supposed. When they drew near at long last, what they found was not
a camp fire, nor a house, nor a restaurant.
"A pirate ship!" squeeled Stot in delight, causing
Junipee to shush him.
"Is that what a pirate is shipped in, Your
Mud-jesty?" asked the Glass Cat of Ruggedo, who glared back in silence.
Whether or not it was a pirate ship, it most surely was
some sort of ship. Its high curving sides were made of wooden planks, it had
a pointed prow and a squared-off stern, and a sort of wooden filligree all
around the flat top, which was evidently a deck. Two tall masts rose from
this deck, cloth sails rigged upon each, and at the top of each mast was a
long banner. The light they had seen emanated from a single lantern that
hung from a hook low down on the forward mast.
But the most notable thing about this old-fashioned ship
was the fact that there was no water anywhere for it to float in. Instead it
rested upon huge spoked wheels like those of a wagon, two on each side. Each
of the wheels was at least twenty feet across, and the bottom-beam of the
ship was lifted by them to several feet above the ground.
"Do you know what it is, Ruggedo?" asked Junipee. "It
looks like a Spanish galleon, or a frigate—or something."
"Well that narrows it down, eh?" the Nome King
responded with sarcasm.
Their voices evidently carried, for several dark
silhouettes suddenly appeared at the railings on the deck, and a voice cried
out: "Who? Who? Who goes there?"
"Oh, we’re not going just yet," Junipee called back.
"We’re just out for a walk and wondered if you could spare a bite to eat."
As if in answer a rope ladder shot out from the deck and
unrolled down the side of the ship.
"That’s neat!" laughed little Stot. "The pirates like
"That is a hasty assumption," warned Bungle. "But I don’t
suppose they can do anything to me, and I am inclined to indulge my
curiosity." She leapt up upon the bottom of the ladder and swiftly struggled
her way to the top, assisted by her sharp glass claws.
Seeing nothing else to do, the other three climbed the
rope ladder to the deck; and then Stot commenced to giggle, for he found the
appearance of his new hosts amusing indeed.
They were surrounded by a crowd of men and women whose
forms were most unusual—at least, the two children had never run across
anything like them. The men were handsome and square-jawed, and they wore
upon their heads peculiar hats that resembled baby bonnets, with long
plumes, like those of a peacock, stuck on. The women were fair of face, and
wore no hats; there wouldn’t have been room enough for hats, for their hair
was piled-up in a variety of exotic and decorous style, adorned also with
more of the bright-colored plumes.
This was perhaps enough to bring on Stot’s fit of glee.
But in case it wasn’t, from the neck down the creatures had the bodies of
lobsters, complete with big claws. At the bottom they had legs like
kangaroos or rabbits, with long flat feet. They were clothed in garments of
soft cloth wrapped about them criss-cross fashion, and they all wore leather
One man stepped forward and said in a commanding voice,
"I am The Admiral Whose Name Shall Not Be Pronounced, and these are my
crew." He motioned one of the women to come to his side. "This is my wife,
She Who Must Not Be Obeyed."
Junipee rolled her eyes. "Do we really need to meet more
weird-folk?" she asked, looking reproachfully at Ruggedo.
"It is you who simply had to have food!" he
retorted. He then nodded at the Admiral. "I am Ruggedo, King of the Nomes
and All Subsidiary Veins, Pockets, and Dominions." (You will notice he
neglected to include the word former.) "May I see your papers, if you
"We do not please, for we have no papers," replied the
"I see, I see. Then you are breaking the law; for my word
is law, and I tell you you must have papers to be here in my country."
"What sort of papers?" asked the Admiral.
"I have not decided yet," said the Nome King.
"Then perhaps while you are deciding, you and your
companions will accept our hospitality." The Admiral turned to Junipee. "Was
it you who spoke of food?"
Junipee nodded, but it was Stot who replied aloud,
saying, "I don’t like lobster!"
"Neither do we," said the Admiral with a smile; "we don’t
care to eat it, for we are it."
"Not all of you," the Glass Cat pointed out. "But most of
you is—the majority by a good percent, I’d say. You’re each quite a
"We are Sandamanders," said She Who, with a pleasant
smile. "All of our people look just as you see."
Junipee glanced about. "Are these here everybody?"
The Admiral chuckled at this. "No, not at all. There are
many thousands of us. We live beneath the sands of the desert, which are
quite transparent to our sort of eyes."
"The Deadly Desert?" Stot repeated in surprise. "I
thought it was poison!"
"Not to Sandamanders," She Who responded. "We call it the
Desert of the Sands of Life."
"Then you ought to have stayed there!" snapped the Nome
King peevishly. "You are treading your sands upon my precious ground, and I
didn’t say you could. It is my law that no one in this country can do
anything without asking."
"But you see, we are explorers," the man continued. "We
wish to see what we can of this upper world, where none of us can survive
without wrapping ourselves in packages of our lifegiving sands. Our first
explorers discovered wood, which we used to construct this wheelship of
ours. It took a great many years to complete it, and to perfect the great
cloth panels of propulsion you see above you."
"They’re called sails," Stot said.
"When the movement of the atmospheric envelope fills
"The wind," commented Bungle.
"—it causes the wheelship to roll forward," concluded the
As there was a pause, Junipee asked, "Why can’t anyone
pronounce your name?"
"Because it consists of thirteen syllables, with no
vowels," he said. "That is the case with all our names; which is why we use
what we call ‘gnick-gnames’ to refer to one another."
"My curiosity is more than satisfied," declared the Glass
Cat. "In fact, it is satiated. If you have any human food, do serve it up."
"We won’t have to eat sand, will we?" It was Stot, of
course, who had to ask this.
The wife of the Admiral shook her head, causing the
plumes in her hair to waggle about. "No indeed. We have used our
overhearing-tubes to listen to you of the upper world for a good many years,
though we could not see you. In that way we learned what you queer clawless
creatures like to eat. We brought human foods along with us, as signs of
friendship, and we will be glad to let you eat as much of it as you like."
A table was set for Junipee and Stot upon the deck, and
several of the Sandamanders went below to fetch the food.
"I hope you have a ’fridge so the food didn’t spoil,"
"We don’t require such a thing," a young Sandamander
replied, whose name was Minor Character of Little Importance. "Our sands
confer the gift of eternity upon all things. Time is made to stand still for
such things as food, and thus they cannot go bad." Minor quickly added that
the sands, which would have been deadly to the children if touched, had been
carefully plucked away from the edibles and the plates upon which they would
The foodstuffs turned out to be slices of different kinds
of pie, all of them equally fresh and delicious; fruit pies, meat pies,
vegetable pies, even ice cream pies. The children were filled up and then
given comfortable bunks to sleep in, for which they were grateful.
The Nome King and the Glass Cat lingered above deck,
talking in low tones to the Admiral.
"You are not very far from the edge of the desert here,"
"No. This is as far as we got. I’m afraid we are
becalmed," responded the Admiral. "But we anticipate moving along any time
"How long has your ship been stuck here?" inquired
"How long? Let me see." The Admiral thought for a moment,
as if counting things up in his head. "As of this noon, it was three-hundred
and nineteen years."
"A long time to be waiting for a breeze," Ruggedo said,
puffing on his long-stemmed rock pipe.
"Do you think so?" returned the Sandamander. "Time means
nothing to us. And tomorrow may solve all our problems; so we find it best
to be content."
Across Under Inside
The Pink Kitten may not
have been a "luxury liner," but to travel upon her back turned out to be
surprisingly pleasant nonetheless, for cats are able to slink along smoothly
and gracefully even at running speed—when they want to. There was a fairly
gentle, continuous rolling motion from side to side, and it proved easy for
the reduced Ozites to converse with one another, securely wedged between the
roots of Eureka’s hairs.
"Y’know, Wizard, I’ve been thinking," said Princess
"Very brave of you, my dear," rejoined the little Wizard,
who happed to have the hair next to her.
Dorothy smiled. "When I first went to Mangaboo with
Eureka and cousin Zeb—he’s my second-cousin, you know—and his horse Jim—"
"I remember them," said the Wizard.
"We got to the Mangaboo city when we fell down a big
crack during an earthquake. It swallered-up the whole buggy, horse and all."
"Yes; and I descended into a similar crack in my
demonstration balloon, which is how we came together down below."
"But here’s the thing, Wizard," Dorothy said very
seriously. "I came down from California, and you came down from Nebraska,
which is halfway across the United States, and we both ended up in the same
place right in the middle of the earth. Then we climbed up out of there, and
it wasn’t so very long before we came to that place where we could see
sunlight up above—so we were near the surface."
"Go on," said the Wizard.
"Well you must see it too, don’t you? We just couldn’t
have climbed up to the surface so quickly as all that. The world is pretty
big, and it must be hundreds of miles from the center to the outside."
"Your logic is quite impeccable, Dorothy," chuckled the
Wizard, his eyes twinkling merrily. "But you might as well wonder how there
could be a hollow deep down in the earth at all; or how a cyclone could
carry your old house all the way to Oz—which is nearer Australia than
"Then what’s the answer?"
The Wizard laughed gently at little Dorothy’s
earnestness. "Ah, the answer, my dear, is that as soon as you and I went
deeply into the ground, we passed beyond the confines of our common,
ordinary earth and entered fairyland; or perhaps I should say, the
fairy-earth, for it seems a very big place, doesn’t it?"
"Ozma brought me from Kansas to Oz more than once," said
the little girl. "But she used her Magic Belt to do it. All you and I did
was fall down a hole."
"That’s true," agreed the Wizard. "But I have come to
realize that our globe isn’t really ours after all—just a thin little
bit of it covering most of the outside, like the skin of an apple. Go down
or up very far and you find secret pockets of magic that lead you to
fairy-places like Oz, or Mangaboo. That is what I think happened to us, dear
Dorothy, and that is why we mustn’t be too surprised if even the distances
from one place to another refuse to settle down in an ordinary way."
The girl nodded as if she understood; which indeed she
almost did. And she knew that even the parts she didn’t quite understand
were full of wisdom.
Eureka ran on in her dedicated way, stopping now and then
for food, drink, or rest when she needed it. When night came, she was
careful to sleep with her chin resting on her paws, never endangering those
who were camped upon her back by rolling over.
At dawn the westward trek began anew. It was easy to lose
track of time there upon the back of the Pink Kitten, and Dorothy must have
dozed off; for it seemed that little time had passed when she felt a gentle
paw touching the top of her head.
"Wake up, little princess," murmured the Cowardly Lion.
"I am afraid to say that we have stopped."
"Why’re you afraid?"
"First, because I am the Cowardly Lion and am always
afraid. But more importantly, because we have come to the western borders of
Oz at the desert, and the desert is a dangerous place."
The party all climbed down to the ground by way of
Eureka’s right foreleg. As they were out in the open and not upon a tiled
floor, the ground was very uneven, which seemed to our travellers like a
landscape of hills and boulders, with clumps of yellow grass here and there
like tall trees.
"Can you see the desert, cat?" called Cap’n Bill in a
bellow. "I can’t see a blame thing from here next t’ the ground."
Came the distant, somewhat thunderous reply, "Within two
more steps the grass and plants stop, and there is a slope that ends in gray
desert sands. What do you want me to do now, Your Highness?"
"Do you see any sign of the Glass Cat, or of the old Nome
King?" Ozma inquired, speaking into the tip of the silver wand, which
conveyed her voice to Eureka’s pink ears.
"I see neither a sign, nor the individuals themselves,"
"Seems it’s just as you thought, Ozma," the Shaggy Man
remarked. "If we are to run into those two, it will have to be by going down
the hole to that underground kingdom of the Mango-boogles."
"First we must get to the other side of the Deadly Desert
without losing our lives; for the protective enchantment of Oz does not
extend beyond its borders," said Ozma.
"It is my o-pin-ion that if a-ny of you li-ving be-ings
were to lose your lives it would de-feat our purpose, for you would be in a
bad po-si-tion to find them a-gain," Tik-Tok pronounced.
"Why Tik-Tok, you could walk across the sands yourself!"
Dorothy noted excitedly. "The sands won’t hurt you, for you’re not alive in
the first place, and they couldn’t do anything to metal. You could carry us
across, one by one."
"A mo-ment of clear re-flec-tion will dis-a-buse you of
that no-tion," the clockwork man responded. "I would sink deep-ly in-to this
great sand trap."
Ozma wafted herself to the top of a pebble so that she
could be easily seen and heard by all, and there she sat herself down. Said
she, "I was hoping that by now a safe means of crossing the desert would
have occurred to me; but it hasn’t. What of the rest of you?—for you are all
my royal advisors."
"It might be well to review all the ways we know whereby
our enemy the desert has been conquered in the past," suggested the Wizard,
doffing his old-fashioned top hat. "I, of course, have specialized in
"But we have no balloon," Ozma said.
"Very true," admitted the former ruler of the land.
"Let me see, how was it Hank and I came over to Oz?"
asked Betsy Bobbin of herself. "Oh, I remember! The Wizard did a bit of his
magic, and it moved us clear ’cross the desert without touching it."
"It would carry us all in the other direction with ease,"
noted Ozma. "Unfortunately, it requires several magical instruments and
powders, all of which are locked up in the Wizard’s bag in the palace."
"As for us, Ozma, Trot ’n I came by air," declared Cap’n
"We were carried by a funny sort of bird called an Ork,"
continued his little comrade. "He had a tail that spun ’round, like a
propeller. But I don’t s’pose you have a way to get a message to the land of
the Orks, do you, Princess?"
"I’m afraid not," she replied.
Now Dorothy spoke up. "Well, I guess I’ve been back and
forth the most of any of us. First I came with my whole house in a cyclone.
Then I went back to Kansas on the Silver Shoes. Next I came back across the
desert on that magic carpet you had, Ozma—the one that rolls out in front of
you and rolls back up behind. After that it was the Magic Belt that did it,
the one that used to belong to the Nome King."
"You are indeed the most seasoned traveller amongst us,
Dorothy," said Ozma with a warm smile. "But there are no cyclones forecast
for the Country of the Winkies, the carpet is tucked away in the royal
closet, and even all of us together would not be able to wear the Magic Belt
around us to make it work."
"What about those shoes?" yawned the Hungry Tiger. "The
"They won’t do, for they fell off when they took me back
home, and nobody knows just where they are now," Dorothy explained.
Ozma sighed a royal sigh. "I myself crossed over the
deadly sands on the flying Gump long ago."
Trot asked, "Can Gumps fly? I thought they were like
"The Gump in question was just a Gump’s head mounted on a
plaque, which we attached to a thrown-together contraption made of sofas,
palm leaves, and a broom. It was brought to life by a powder. Alas, the Gump
was taken apart again, and we have no more of the powder to create a new
one, or anything like it."
"Then, to use an old seaman’s turn o’ phrase, I’d say
we’re sunk," declared Cap’n Bill.
The great rumbly voice of the Pink Kitten now was heard.
"I don’t know if it matters, but something is going on a ways out in the
"What sort of thing?" asked Ozma.
"I’m sure I wouldn’t know what sort it is,"
responded Eureka. "To my eyes it’s just a cloud of sand and dust and so on."
"Must be one of those desert whirlwinds they call a ‘dust
devil’," commented the Shaggy Man. "I’ve seen a few of them in my life."
But Eureka disagreed. "It’s not whirling, it’s
spouting—like a fountain. And I do believe it’s coming closer. If you want
to climb on again, people, I will carry you away to some safer spot."
"No!" commanded Princess Ozma. "I still retain my fairy
intuitions, and they tell me that this is somehow a good turn of fortune for
So the Pink Kitten remained where she was, with the
minute Oz people crowded close to her. The spout of dust and sand grew and
shrank in spurts, but in general was approaching the border. Suddenly a
large and bulky form rose up from the desert sands beneath the spout. It was
a living creature, and the plume of dust was squirting up from a hole in the
middle of the creature’s back.
"It’s rounded, and stretches out behind in a tail with a
couple of things that curve to a point, which flap back and forth in the
sand," said Eureka, knowing that the others could not see it.
"Aye then! Sounds like a whale t’me," cried Cap’n Bill.
"But it’s lost its way pretty badly if it’s flounderin’ around in the
The sand-whale came to rest right at the downslope that
rose from the desert and became the Country of the Winkies. It let out a
great deep breath and seemed to deflate a bit; then it opened an eye—a blue
one—and calmly regarded the Pink Kitten, who was a very tiny thing by
"If that color is meant to impress me," it said in a
squishy and not terribly pleasant voice, "you might as well turn it off,
little thing, for I do not impress easily."
"It isn’t meant for you at all," the cat replied. "And if
your plan is to be smart or insolent, I will do you the favor of informing
you that I am a member of the court of Princess Ozma of Oz, and it is her
country that you are rubbing your nose against."
"Accept my apologies," said the creature. "Had I known
you were of any importance, I would have spoken more carefully."
"Who and what are you, anyway?"
"Who and what—that is two questions—let me see now." He
was silent for a time. He might have scratched his head, if he had had
hands. "My name is Oot; so that is who I am. As to what I am,
I am a kwokkle."
Eureka remembered Cap’n Bill’s comment and said, "You
appear to be a whale of some kind and degree."
"That illustrates the maxim that appearances can be
deceiving," Oot responded. "A kwokkle has no more to do with whales than
with butterflies. Whales are mammals that live in the oceans; kwokkles are
voiptiggs that live in the sands of enchanted deserts."
"How is it that you can stay alive in this desert?"
inquired the Pink Kitten. "Its sands destroy all life and turn living
substance to dust; or didn’t you know?"
"I didn’t. I wish you hadn’t told me, for now I
suppose I'm obligated to die." There was a pause, which was just long enough for Eureka to realize
that Oot was speaking in terms of heavy irony. Then he said, "The
enchantment is only meant to affect ordinary surface life, not those who
cannot exist for long in this outer air of yours. We kwokkles swim through
the sands and dust with ease; we even breathe it."
The Pink Kitten licked her paw in a calculated show of
feline bravado. "Must be a rather dull sort of life down there."
"Not at all," the kwokkle replied. "I have my friends,
you know—or perhaps you don’t—and I have my work, too; for we are bred to
serve the people who live as we do within the desert, the Sandamanders. We pull their
wagons and provide transportation."
Now Ozma and the others had been attending to this
conversation with great interest, though they could not see the kwokkle, as
to them he was too large and distant. When Oot pronounced the word
"transportation" the Princess of Oz brightened and whispered something into
"The Rightful Ruler desires to cross the Deadly Desert
and, of course, she cannot touch its sands," explained the cat. "So I am
commanded to ask you, kwokkle, if you would be willing to carry Ozma and her
party to the other side."
"How many?" Oot inquired.
"Oh—a handful," said Eureka.
"And shall I be paid for my services?"
This was a complication Eureka had not anticipated. "No;
for money is not used in this Land of Oz at all."
"Good enough," responded Oot. "If you had offered money I
would have refused to do anything for you, as it is insulting; but I’m glad
to do a favor for free. However," he went on, "you cannot ride upon my back,
for I must submerge now and then to remain alive, and the sands would
When Ozma heard this she frowned, but the Wizard spoke up
and said, "Have Eureka ask the creature if he has ever heard of Jonah and
This Eureka did, and Oot answered, "Of course. I am
well-educated. Jonah was the mortal human who set up housekeeping inside a
whale for some length of time. Now, is that an idea? It might be." Oot shut
his eye, and the Pink Kitten wondered if he had drifted off to sleep. But he
was only thinking. "I suppose it would work," he said at last. "I can hold a
small number of persons in my mouth, if there are not too many. There will
be air inside, and the sands can’t enter; and I shall refrain from
"The royal party is rather on the small side today, and
if you can accommodate me, they will present no additional trouble," said
While Oot was scouring out every last grain of sand from
his cavernous mouth, using his tongue (which was the size of a bedsheet),
the Ozites climbed back upon the Pink Kitten and made themselves
comfortable. Then the kwokkle opened wide and Eureka jumped in, with a gulp
that she hoped Oot would not imitate.
The kwokkle snapped shut his huge mouth. It was dark, but
not completely so: a deep reddish light shone from deep within the
"He must be flame-powered," observed the Wizard.
"Mayhaps driven by coal and a boiler," Cap’n Bill
suggested. "Though sails full o’ wind are what I like, I’ve been on many a
steamship in my time, and I can’t say much bad about ’em."
The Shaggy Man, who knew a bit about machines, then
joined in; and so the journey of the expedition of rescue, across the desert
under its surface within the mouth of a sand-whale, was launched amid a
Oot angled down at first as he dove deep into the sands,
and the Pink Kitten had to hold on to his tongue with her sharp claws, which
seemed not to bother the kwokkle in the least. Presently he leveled off, and
the only sensation felt by his passengers was a steady weaving back and
forth as the beast swung his muscular tail from side to side. They went on
like this for hours. Their forward motion must have been swift indeed, for
the same journey that took up a couple days for Ruggedo and his party was
accomplished in half of a single day.
Finally there was another feeling of slanting, this time
upward; and then a little bump as Oot came to a stop. He opened his mouth,
admitting daylight, and Eureka said to those riding upon her, "We’ve arrived
somewhere; and that’s more than good enough to me." For no cat enjoys being
held captive in another creature’s mouth.
On A Mysterious Mountain
The former Nome King
was most anxious to resume the road to the Land of the Mangaboos, knowing as
he did that only a certain article owned by the Mangaboo Queen would allow
him to regain his precious Magic Belt.
He aimed to steal that article. It is safe to say that
old Ruggedo had become very much his old self and resumed his former ways
and habits. He had lived for a great many years in the purple Country of the
Gillikins in Oz, and that had been long enough to wear away most of the
effects of the Forbidden Fountain. Year by year a bit of his memory had come
back to him, and by the time he had met Junipee and Stot he could recall
every detail of every slight and indignity visited upon him by Dorothy and
Ozma and their varied comrades.
Still and all, it was not until Ruggedo actually left the
Land of Oz completely, while he was walking through the tunnel under the
desert, that the good in him was really snuffed out. The lovely and loving
fairyland of Oz has been subject to a wonderful enchantment for many
centuries of years, which has preserved the innocence of its inhabitants. As
long as a Rightful Ruler of Oz is rightfully ruling, true evil cannot show
its face in anyone. And Ozma has been Rightful Ruler for a good long time.
But now the former King of the Nomes was free of the Land of Oz and its
That is not to say that the Nome’s personal evils were
especially bad. It was more the case that Ruggedo was like a selfish and
mischievous child who always had to have his way, and felt ever so
much aggrieved if he didn’t get it. And besides, truth to tell, he had too
much time on his hands in Oz. There is nothing worse than a wicked person
who is bored.
At dawn, which is very gray and dismal in the barren
wastes above the caverns of the Nomes, even when the sky is clear, Ruggedo
insisted that Bungle go to awaken the two children.
"We must begin walking right away," he grumbled. "We must
reach that pineapple-shaped mountain for our real journey to
"Your moaning and groaning is a great annoyance to those
around you, rugged-rock," commented the Glass Cat haughtily. "If I were you
I should look into having myself demolished."
"If I care for your opinion, I’ll read about it in the
Sunday paper," snapped Ruggedo in angry reply. He made an ominous circle
with his thumb and forefinger, which stirred Bungle’s vanity enough to cause
her to slink away to do as he had commanded.
Junipee insisted that the children have a breakfast, and
take some food away with them in some of the little sealed containers that
the Sandamanders made available. "At least Stot and I won’t suffer along the
way," said she.
"Except from the sound of old Ruggedo’s voice," retorted
the Glass Cat, who was still pretending to be Eureka.
"I kind of like Ruggy-doo," said Stot. "He’s silly and—"
"And what?" asked his sister.
"And round like a ball."
Bidding the Sandamanders farewell, the four climbed down
to the ground and headed off in the direction where Ruggedo thought the
pineapple-top mountain lay. For hours they walked along steadily with little
that you could call real conversation—just occasional muttered complaints
from Ruggedo, replies from Bungle, and giggles from Stot at the both of
The pale gray sun rose high, paused, and began creeping
down again very slowly across a dull cardboard-colored sky.
Finally Junipee said, "Just how long will it be before we
get to anyplace at all?"
"I thought we would be able to see the mountain by now,"
admitted the Nome King. "Could I be mis-remembering? If so, blame it on the
Oz people and their evil fount of forgetfulness."
"But what shall we do?" persisted the girl. "We can’t
just keep walking."
"My metal content is fairly high, and I have a good deal
of endurance," Ruggedo said. "But I suppose I oughtn’t forget the
limitations of you lesser creatures. And what would you advise,
"We should ask directions," was her reply.
"An incisive plan indeed," said Ruggedo; "lacking only
one ingredient for success, a person we could ask directions of."
"We’re people!" cried Stot. "We could ask each
other." But no one cared for the little boy’s suggestion.
They now entered a flat, featureless plain that stretched
on for many miles. By good fortune it wasn’t hot, just mildly warm, but
without even a slight breeze to refreshen them.
"I’m getting tired, Juney," said Stot after a time.
"I know," Junipee replied. "You haven’t had your nap. But
I’m tired, too."
"Your flesh must be wearing out prematurely," was
Ruggedo’s comment. "We are walking along on as level a place as I’ve ever
seen, and at no great speed at all, for your sakes; and still you complain."
"And you complain of their complaints, which is a
complaint-squared," Bungle added. "I have no muscles inside, as you can all
easily see. Nothing makes me tired, except the rest of you."
But the two children were not inspired by this, and
trudged on more and more slowly. Even the Nome King found that he was
slowing down with every step. "It is this infernal flatness," he declared.
The Glass Cat was also affected, though not in quite the
same way. She found herself hearing thngs she could not account for. Now and
then there seemed to be faint whispers, or the beginnings of soft words
suddenly broken-off. And there were sounds like scuffings, jostlings, and
rustlings in her sharp little ears. Sometimes they made her glance about.
But there never was anything to be seen.
"It strikes me that you have forgotten something,
Ruggedo," said the cat at last.
"And what might that be?"
"The thing you warned us about," Bungle continued. "You
know, the—" But she could not go further, for she could not think of the
"What?" asked Ruggedo irritably.
"Oh, you know, Eureka means the—" That was how Junipee
began, but her beginning never found an end.
The former Nome King looked very cross, as he thought he
was being made fun of. "What?" he demanded.
"It was what you said before, Mr. King," laughed little
Stot. "About those—" Then he stopped laughing and looked puzzled. "It’s on
my tongue but it won’t jump off!" Stot finished.
"What is?" thundered Ruggedo. "Are you referring to
the—" Alas, he was dead-ended as well. "Sulphur and silicates! There was
something we were supposed to be very careful of! Now what was it, eh?" All
he could do was yank on his beard in irritation.
The foursome had come to a dead stop. Now they fell
completely silent. When they had stopped walking, a flat gray plain
surrounded them all about; but when they stopped talking, they were no
longer in the plain at all but in the middle of a strange little village, on
the cut-off top of a mountain, high up in the air.
"Ah!" breathed the Nome King. "Now I recall—the
The village consisted of many little huts of mud and
wood-bark, scattered haphazardly on all sides of the round open space in
which they stood. There was no sign of people, and all was silent.
"How did we get here?" breathed Junipee in fear. She was
more afraid than any of the others, for she had to be afraid for Stot as
well as herself.
"How indeed?" came a soft and mocking voice from
somewhere. But try as they would, they could see not a soul anywhere about.
"A well-behaved populace should be seen and not heard,"
the Glass Cat pronounced; "but these people have it backwards."
"I think—I really think—the Phanfasms are all around us,"
said Ruggedo, his voice raised to a nervous whisper and his knees shaking
beneath him. "They are masters of sorcery, and can appear in whatever form
Stot’s eyebrows flew up with delight. "You mean those
houses are people, Mr. King?"
"Could be," came another voice.
Bungle, ever curious, tried to examine the huts. But they
refused to cooperate. When she approached a hut, it seemed to melt away and
slide backwards, as the rainbow does. Furthermore, at the corner of her eye
she seemed to glimpse the sight of high, beautiful habitations; yet whenever
she would look at them directly, they were just poor hovels. "These
Phanfasms are wonderful tricksters," said she. "But they don’t yet realize
that I am made of glass and especially good at seeing through such things."
Instantly as she said this, the whole scene changed
around the four travellers. Now the huts were like small-sized palaces of
gleaming gold or silver, dotted with all manner of precious gems. And now
there was a crowd around them—a crowd of Glass Cats standing up upon their
hind legs, their arms crossed smugly.
"Perhaps you like this better?" inquired one of the cats.
Then the cats changed into boys and girls, the boys all
looking like Stot and the girls all looking like Junipee.
"Or do you like this?" asked one of the Junipees.
All at once there were no more boys and girls, only
Ruggedos all around them by the dozens and dozens. "Or this?"
inquired one of them.
"You can stop there," Ruggedo said. But the Phanfasms did
not stop, but changed into winged wolves, and then into huge owls with
fangs. Finally—perhaps they were becoming bored—they presented themselves as
sweet-faced toddlers in flame-colored jump-suits, and all of eight feet
"Stop trying to scare us!" demanded Junipee.
"We’re not merely trying; we are succeeding," retorted
one of the tots, who seemed to be the leader of them. "And that makes us
happy indeed, for we relish fear and disappointment and other such things,
as long as they are in people other than ourselves."
"It was rude to bring us here," Bungle said calmly. "I
belong to the court of a powerful fairy, Princess Ozma of Oz, and she will
not take kindly your treatment of me."
The crowd all laughed, and the leader said, "We didn’t
bring you here; you brought yourselves. It was you who climbed the winding
trail to the top of Mount Phantastico on your own two, or four, legs."
"We didn’t know it was a trail," Junipee objected. "You
"So we did," laughed the leader; "and that was a fine bit
of work to be sure. Now you are here, and now you will learn the penalty for
those who allow themselves to be fooled by the Phanfasms."
"I don’t want to play," Stot said. "It’s not fair."
The leader said, "That is the only kind of game we like."
Stot absorbed this and replied, "Okay." If he were afraid
at all, he didn’t show it. This seemed to unsettle the Phanfasms a bit.
"Do not bother to hide your shaking and quivering,"
advised the leading Phanfasm. "It will all come out soon enough, when you
learn of the terrible things we plan to do."
"Okay," said Stot again, indifferently. "What’s your
A mutter ran through the crowd on padded little feet. "I
am the First and Foremost Phanfasm of Phantastico," the leader said in
reply, no longer smiling with wicked delight.
Stot giggled. "That’s not a name!"
"No," the Phanfasm conceded. "But it is what I am
"Don’t you have a real name?"
"Of course I do!" said the First and Foremost with
rattled dignity. "It’s—um…" He glanced at the female Phanfasm standing next
to him, who shrugged.
"No doubt it’s been a few years since anyone bothered to
call you by name," commented the Glass Cat. "It’s slipped your mind, I see."
"Our names are all expressions of sorrow and pain,"
called out a scowling Phanfasm three rows back. "My name is Urgh."
This made Stot giggle again.
"And I am called Owooo," a girl Phanfasm declared, which
made Stot chortle.
"As for me—Hyeek!" was a contribution from near the back.
Soon every Phanfasm in the crowd was giving his or her name, one by one; and
by the finish of this report Stot was almost weak with helpless laughter.
"That’s good!" he choked gleefully. "Tell me those silly
"We won’t!" said the First and Foremost (who never had
managed to recall his personal name). "We have brought you to our city to
stricken you with terror, not to be a bother to us. Is this any way for a
guest to behave?"
"Oh, he’s young," said Bungle, winding her way betwixt
and between the legs of the crowd. "He doesn’t know enough to use
ettiquette, or even to be ‘stricken.’ The girl is too practical-minded to
fool around with something so useless as fear, and old Ruggedo here is just
a decrepit Nome—even you, F and F, can’t be so stupid as to expect to
instill terror in a rock-collection."
"I see," said the leading Phanfasm in disappointment.
"What about you, crystalline feline? No doubt you feel a twinge or two, eh?"
Bungle paused and shook her head. "Sorry, but I’m made of
glass almost all the way through, as I trust you’ve realized by now. Glass
may shake when a milk-truck goes past, or in an earthquake: that’s about it.
Glass has no emotions—though I’ve heard it said that I am a tad
self-regarding. I’d say you’ve come up dry, as far as finding good
candidates for your fear-factory up here."
One of the Phanfasms, who had given his name as Gugnarsh,
had assumed a particularly fierce expression, which was directed at the
First and Foremost. "Why did you disturb us with this nonsense?" he
demanded. "It’s not as if you have such a great work-load, as the only duty
of the First and Foremost is to bring us victims for our amusement."
"If you think you can do better, you’re welcome to the
job," sulked the leader.
"Now, now, wicked ones, these petty quarrels will get you
no-where," chided the Glass Cat. "I have an idea for you. But I cannot
announce it aloud; it is for the ears of the First and Foremost alone."
The First and Foremost stepped closer and leaned
down—quite a long way down. "Whisper it to me."
Bungle whispered, and the First and Foremost smiled. He
then stood upright again and made a grand mysterious gesture of the magical
And by the time the gesture was completed, every trace of
Mount Phantastico and the frightful Phanfasms had vanished like a popped
soap-bubble. The four travellers were standing again in the dull, craggy
wilderness above the caverns of the Nomes.
"Great plutonic puffery!" cried Ruggedo. "Where’d they
"Betcha they’re just fooling us," said Stot.
"No," responded Bungle. "That king of theirs sent us
"Now why would he do that?" demanded Junipee. "What did
you say to him?"
"Only something clever," the Glass Cat replied. "I
pointed out that if he could not enjoy filling his captives with fear, he
might nevertheless get something out of the deal by annoying and
disappointing his subjects. So I suggested he whisk us away, depriving the
Phanfasms of whatever sport they might have planned for us. And then he
could take credit for it, which would only help his reputation among those
Through the Magnifying Glass
When Eureka, the real
one, had leapt from the mouth of Oot the Kwokkle and onto the safety of the
land that bordered the Deadly Desert on the other side, Ozma asked her to
inquire of Oot precisely where they were.
"Couldn’t say," he said. "Geography was never a strong
subject for me. I was at my best studying Latin, and making pottery. Now,
good day to you." And the great sand-whale laboriously turned about and
slithered away into the desert.
"It seems there are many more ways across the desert than
we have supposed," remarked the Wizard of Oz. "I wonder, Your Highness, if
we ought not pay a bit more attention to national defense."
"I shall consider the matter," said Ozma.
"No ’fense, but I’d just as soon we put off worrying
about that till tomorrow," Trot declared. "I’m getting pretty tired of
living like a flea."
Cap’n Bill chuckled but nodded. "Aye t’ that, Trot. I’d
hate to have any of my old ship-mates see me like this."
"I am of much the same opinion," was the Cowardly Lion’s
comment. "The only reason my comrade the Hungry Tiger and I would not be the
laughingstock of the forest is that we are too small to be seen."
"I am not em-bar-assed to be of such com-pact sta-ture,"
said Tik-Tok. "I am gi-ven to un-der-stand that the out-er world re-gards
the min-i-a-tur-i-za-tion of ma-chin-er-y to be a great ac-com-plish-ment."
Dorothy cast a look at the Wizard that was both chiding
and imploring. "Oh, Wiz, what a fix you’ve got us all into! Do you s’pose
the effect of that health lamp will just wear off? It’s not guaranteed, is
"No, my dear," replied the Wizard. "And even if it were,
I’m afraid such guarantees are not worth the paper they are written on."
"I once partook of a lotion that was supposed to make me
young and handsome, and as energetic as a bull," said the Shaggy Man with a
gentle smile. "Alas, it seemed to wear off as the years passed; and now it
is too late to get my money back."
"I’m surprised at all of you," Ozma remonstrated, wearing
her sternest royal expression. "Our first duty is to rescue the Glass Cat
from Ruggedo. Then we will have the leisure to worry about restoring our
proper heights." She now spoke into her wand, so that her words would reach
the ears of the Pink Kitten. "Eureka, what sort of country has the Kwokkle
let us off in?"
The Pink Kitten was already looking about, even before
being asked. "It seems like a nice enough country, Princess. There are
"You mean house-plants," corrected Ozma.
"Are house-plants usually shaped like mice?"
"Not in my experience."
"Then I think my word for it was the better one,"
Eureka declared. "All around I see bunches of wriggling mice tied together
by their tails, hanging from bushes like flowers."
"That is most pe-cu-li-ar," Tik-Tok observed. "I know
some-thing of the lands that sur-round Oz, but I have ne-ver heard of such a
"Well, Tik-Tok, it has been quite a few years
since you’ve been over," said Dorothy Gale. "Things do change, you know."
"I do not dis-a-gree," was the response. "I hope we will
have the time to learn how this came a-bout."
The Meadow of Mice—that was how Eureka thought of
it—started at the very edge of the Deadly Desert and stretched off to the
horizon as far as the eye could see. The ground itself was covered with soft
green clover and otherwise fairly flat, but one could not go for more than a
few yards without running across a mouse-plant. The mouse-buds themselves
were in a great variety of sizes and colors, every one of them alive,
wiggling, and (now that Eureka came to notice it) squeeking like mice of the
"It sounds perfectly disgusting!" exclaimed Betsy Bobbin
when the Pink Kitten had provided a further description. "I’m ever so glad
I don’t have to walk around it it."
"That is because you are a human and not a cat, I should
imagine," retorted the Hungry Tiger. "Of course these little mouselings
would be nothing but appetizers to one such as I. But to an ordinary
American housecat, as Eureka is, they are a dream come true."
"I’d like to see them," said the Wizard. He withdrew from
a voluminous pocket in his old-timey coat a little round magnifying glass
and held it up to his right eye. The charm of the glass was not affected by
being smaller, and with its assistance the Wizard was able to look over
their surroundings as well as could Eureka.
"Eureka," he said after a moment, directing his voice at
the silver wand (as he was quite an accomplished ventriloquist), "didn’t you
say there were mouse-plants all around us?"
"They go on for miles and miles, and they make a
delicious sight," Eureka replied. "Don’t you think so?"
"Why, I don’t see a one of them," pronounced the Wizard.
"What do you see?" Ozma inquired.
"I see a grassy park, with winding walkways and benches,
and graceful pavilions next to pretty fountains made of cut-glass. There is
a little orchestra seated in a bandstand not far away, playing a lively
tune—surely you can all hear it now, can’t you? The girls are all wearing
gowns of bright colors, and the boys are handsome youths in striped jackets
and straw hats."
He lowered the magnifying glass and took note of the
blank expressions upon the faces of those all around him. "I remember that
tune, I think—from many years back, in Omaha."
"I don’t hear a thing," snorted the Hungry Tiger.
"Nor do I, and my hearing is very acute," said the
"Still, it’s sure the sort o’ thing a person might like
t’ see and hear," observed Cap’n Bill. "A certain sort o’ person, anyways.
Mind if I take a look-see, Wizard?"
The Wizard handed Bill the glass. He looked through it
for quite a while, turning first one way then another. When he lowered it,
there was a satisfied smile upon his face.
"Guess you’re the tie-breaker, Bill," Trot said. "Is it
the meadow or the park?"
The old captain shook his head thoughtfully. "Not
neither. We’re on what half-educated people like me call a spit, a little
strip o’ land. On the one side is the desert, on the other the sea, with a
right fine sandy beach runnin’ along it, too. Looks like a bit o’ wind
coming up, too—you can feel the touch of it in your hair. That salt
breeze!—sure do miss it now and then."
"Is your instrument in proper working order, Wizard?"
asked Ozma, quite perplexed. "We now have three different reports of the
very same countryside."
One by one, the others pressed forward to take a look.
Betsy saw a sort of outdoor theater in which a play of some kind was being
performed. The Shaggy Man declared they were at the edge of a vast apple
orchard, with hammocks slung from every tree and swaying in the breeze. The
lion saw a peaceful wooded scene, dappled with sun and flowers, but with no
trace of man or beast anywhere. Trot observed many boys and girls of her own
age, playing games or reading books. Ozma then took the glass in hand, and
studied what it revealed very intently.
"What is it?" Dorothy asked her.
"I see myself," was Ozma’s reply.
"Like in a mirror?"
"No. I see many girls doing many sorts of pleasant
things; and they all look just like me. I can hear their laughter and their
song. But I can’t be out there, in multiple, for I am right
here—singularly." The Princess of the Emerald City handed the glass to
Dorothy. "Now tell me what you see."
"It’s awful strange," she responded. "It seems to me
we’re right smack in the courtyard of the palace. There’s Jellia Jamb, and
there’s the Patchwork Girl doing cartwheels—and Toto—and Aunt Em and Uncle
Henry. I can hear what Scaps is saying, too; her usual rhyming nonsense. Oh,
it’s so nice to be back!"
Then the Hungry Tiger looked through the Wizard’s lens,
the Wizard holding it up to his great right eye as he had done for the
Cowardly Lion. The tiger looked for a long while, and when the glass was
removed he refused to describe what he had seen. But he was smiling
contentedly, and drooling.
"Now, Tik-Tok, it is your turn," Ozma said.
"I do not re-quire a turn," said the wind-up man. "I will
see no-thing of in-ter-est."
"Then you ought to look anyway, just to verify your
prediction," observed the Shaggy Man.
"I had not thought of that. Al-low me to take the glass."
Tik-Tok looked while slowly turning around. Then he handed the instrument
back to the Wizard, who returned it to his pocket.
"Well then?" demanded Cap’n Bill.
"It was ex-act-ly as I told you."
"But blast me, how’d you know?"
"I knew be-cause my think-ing me-chan-ism is tight-ly
wound and wor-king smooth-ly," said Tik-Tok. "I could see no-thing be-cause
I am a ma-chine and am not de-signed to dream; and it is the Kingdom of
Dreams that we have come to."
Down to Mangaboo
"You showed cleverness
and cunning, cat. I am a big enough Nome to admit it," pronounced the former
Nome King to Bungle.
"You’re smart," added little Stot. "Can I keep you?"
"Say ‘may I keep you’," Junipee admonished her
brother. "We’ve been to school, and we know how to talk right."
"Then you ought to say ‘talk well,’ not ‘talk
right’," commented Ruggedo; "unless you are talking out of the side of
your mouth. But enough of this—we have a mountain to catch."
Now that the magical illusions of the Phanfasms no longer
pressed upon him, Ruggedo was able to recognize where they were. "Look off
there. That is the mountain shaped like the top of a pineapple."
"It does look that way, a little," agreed Junipee.
"Once we are there, I will guide you the rest of the
way," said Bungle. "And unless that mountain is one of the moving kind,
which we have in Oz, I’d say we should be there in an hour or three."
After a long trek, broken for Stot’s nap and a bite to
eat of the Sandamanders’ food, the four journeyers stood at last next to the
small mountain, which was curved like the top part of a pineapple, with a
little crag at the peak that looked like a pineapple’s stem.
"Well, we couldn’t be more here if we tried,"
Junipee said. "So where do we go next, Eureka?"
"Will there be a lot of climbing?" inquired Stot.
"There will be no climbing at all," the false Eureka
assured them; "for we shall be travelling in a downward direction, and ‘to
climb’ means to go up. However, don’t blame me if there is a
good deal of lowering and descending. I didn’t care to visit these Mangoos
in the first place."
"What are they like?" asked Junipee.
"They are horrors," replied the Glass Cat. "No one in his
right mind would ever wish to go there. To keep myself in my usual good
spirits I try never to think of them, and I recommend the same to you."
"I wouldn’t pay a call on them myself if I could help
it," Ruggedo said. "Though inhabiting the interior of the earth they
consider themselves independent of the Nome Dominions and are a different
sort of fairy folk entirely. I expect I’ll have to use a good deal of guile
and treachery to get their queen to part with her gloves. But I don’t mind
the work, provided I achieve my goal."
Remembering the mouse’s careful instructions, Bungle led
the party around the base of the mountain to the far side, where there was a
round valley shaped like a cup. In the middle of the floor of the valley was
a round hole, where one might expect the drain in the bottom of a basin.
"Down there," commanded Bungle. They made their way down
the side of the valley, which was not too steep, and soon enough they found
themselves standing at the edge of the hole.
Junipee leaned over and looked into the depths. "It just
goes down and down, and the walls are smooth. How are we to lower
"Have you forgotten who you are with, or what I can do?"
demanded the former Nome King grandly. Squatting down on his bandy legs he
grasped the edge of the hole with his right hand while making magical passes
with his left. Bumps with flattened tops began to bulge out from the walls
of the hole, and with each gesture they grew larger.
Stot cheered at the sight. "Stair-steps!"
"Indeed so. But there is no bannister, so keep away from
the open side if you don’t relish falling all the way," Ruggedo said.
They began to descend, first the Glass Cat, then Junipee,
then Stot, and finally old Ruggedo bringing up the rear. The stone steps
were only wide enough to accommodate one person at a time, but as they were
set close together the descent was easy and rapid, with Bungle leaping
carelessly from step to step as if it were natural to her.
The hole was like a vertical tube or well, and the row of
steps curved around and around it, heading ever downward. When the light
falling from above became too dim to be useful, Ruggedo performed his trick
of making the rocks in the walls become luminous.
"It goes down awful far," said Stot, looking over.
"Nonsense," responded the Nome King. "Not even ten miles
down, I’d say: just a little pin-prick in the crust of our planet."
But as it happened they did not need to go down as far as
all that, for within ten minutes they had arrived at a sort of landing—a
downward-slanting cave which departed sideways from the shaft.
"It’s not healthful to spend so much time underground,"
Junipee commented. "A person needs sunlight to make vitamin D."
"You needn’t be concerned," said Ruggedo, who seemed more
cheerful with every downward step. "I do not require any of the vitamins you
meat people thrive upon. A little radium now and then, and some
sulphur-water when my back-stone starts to ache, and I am content."
"I note you have no interest in others, old gravel-pit,
and assume every comment has to do with you," the Glass Cat said. "It is an
attractive feature, I must admit."
A gentle current of air was breezing upward through the
cave from some source deep within the earth. Junipee noticed that it was
surprisingly fresh and invigorating, though full of odd smells.
Ruggedo explained. "It comes from the great kitchens of
the earth’s mantle, as the deeper parts of the ground are called. It is
where all the rocks and ingots and gems are mixed and baked, to be inserted
thereafter into the spaces that have been left for them."
"I like kitchens," Stot said. "I’d like to live in one."
"It would make you sick, Stot, and all the calories in
the air would make you as fat as him," declared Junipee, nodding in
Ruggedo’s direction. This made Stot burst out in gleeful laughter. On other
occasions the impudence might have made the Nome King angry; but he was so
enjoying the rockbound journey downward that he only smiled.
Suddenly Bungle paused on a step and exclaimed,
"Whiskerfiddles!" (This is an exclamation of annoyance used by glass
cats to annoy others.)
"What is it, Eureka?" Junipee asked in alarm.
"Look at my paws—my sides—anything about me!" Bungle
cried. "I’m fogging up!" Indeed, her crystalline form had become cloaked in
a dewy haze.
"Tha’s what glass does when it gets cold," Stot said.
"You can see it on windows."
"Surely you don’t find this change of temperature
cold!" the Nome King admonished. "It is well above the temperature at
which granite begins to melt, you know."
"Well, it is getting a little cold at that,"
Junipee replied with a shivver. "I thought it got warmer as you went down
into the earth."
"Ah, well," Ruggedo answered in a jovial tone, "that’s
ordinarily the case, little miss. But I do believe we are descending down an
"There’s no such thing!" declared the girl.
"No? Then I trust you are not cold, and we are
not going downward."
The Glass Cat now evinced a trace of worry. "See here, a
volcano is hardly a place to get caught in. Glass melts, I hope you
The former Nome King rolled his eyes, which made a sound
like two rocks rolling down a hillside. "I said ‘ice volcano.’
Nothing will harm you in here—unless it is your own sharp tongue."
They walked on, ever downward, and it grew quite cold
indeed. A layer of white frost formed on the walls, and delicate icicles
hung from the ceiling like the draping leaves of a weeping willow, forcing
all but the Glass Cat to duck and crouch as they went along.
Finally Junipee demanded that they halt. "Ruggedo, we
will be frozen meat-people if we go any further!" she cried, her
panting breath forming little white clouds.
"And I can barely see, my eyes are so frosty," added
"Can we make a snowman?" asked Stot.
"Perhaps we ought to sit down and think a bit," the Nome
King conceded. He caused a large flat stone to rise up from the floor of the
cave, about the size of a large sofa, and he softened the top of it so the
children could rest upon it as on a cushion. Junipee and Stot sat themselves
down gratefully, and Bungle jumped up beside them.
"Now then," began Ruggedo, lowering his rounded form on
to the top of the boulder. But the Nome King was a heavy mass, like a
boulder; and as soon as he took his weight off his feet and leaned back, the
stone shifted under him and started to move.
"Oh!" cried Junipee. "We’re sliding!"
The Glass Cat yawned majestically, Stot whooped with
excitement, and Ruggedo—Ruggedo didn’t know what to do, or indeed if
anything ought to be done, so he merely leaned back on his elbows and
advised the others to hold on.
They scooted along on the surface of ice that covered the
inside of this branch of the ice volcano. As the cave slanted downward, the
rocky sofa upon which they rode moved ever faster, smashing through forests
of hanging icicles and jolting this way and that as it struck hard against
stones and other irregularities in its course. The rough ride might have
spun them off right away, but Ruggedo caused the sides of the boulder to
rise up and the middle of its top to sink down, so that it ended up as a
sort of canoe of rock.
The deeper they went into the volcano, the colder it
became. This could have been hurtful to the two meat-children, whose green
jackets were not suited to an arctic climate; but fortunately their speed
became so great that the rush of air warmed them.
The rock-sled had passed almost immediately out of the
area that Ruggedo had lit up with his magic luminence. For a time they were
in a fearful darkness. Presently, though, the former Nome King thought to
make the front of their boulder glow like a headlight; and this illuminated
"Can’t you stop us?" cried Junipee to Ruggedo.
"I don’t know how," replied the Nome King, his long beard
trailing out behind him in the air.
"This is fun!" Stot giggled. "But why are we goin’ up on
It was true. They were no longer sliding on the floor of
the cave, but halfway up the right-hand wall.
"My eyes, which are real gems, tell me plainly what is
happening, now that they are not so fogged-over," said the Glass Cat, having
to speak loudly over the whoosh of the wind. "We are riding up the wall
because this cave is making a great curve, pushing us outward and upward as
Junipee looked carefully and saw that it was true. "Then
we’ll go right around and end up where we started!"
"Hardly," retorted Bungle. "We are still slanting
downwards even as we curve, describing a spiral course—the shape of a
bedspring. If the curve is tightening up as we go along, which I think is
the case, we will be going very fast indeed by the time we reach the end."
"If it’s a dead end that we reach, I think it won’t go so
well for you delicate earth-children," Ruggedo said. "Nor for you, cat—your
glass will break like an old clay pot. I will probably survive, though, as
it is difficult to kill living rock."
They really didn’t have time to contemplate the future as
they shot along faster and faster. They didn’t have time, and it seemed time
didn’t have them, for the riders lost all track of it. Down, down,
down they went through the curving tunnel, which must have been formed by
veins of hard ice expanding through the volcano and shoving the rock and
It may have been hours later when Stot suddenly called
out, "I see lights, Junipee!"
"Now that is a foolish question," admonished the
imperious Glass Cat. "There is only where we have been, and where we are
going; and it can’t be where we have been or we would have passed it
already. Therefore it must be up ahead."
Bungle was not only logical but correct. The cave
abruptly opened-out wide, and the boulder hurtled into a sort of gallery
that was about a mile wide, with its broad ceiling only a few yards above
them. They were sliding down a shallow natural trough in the floor of this
space—unless it was really a wall and not the floor—and heading toward an
opening on the far side that ran the entire breadth of the gallery, somewhat
like the opening at the front of a theater balcony.
A strange brilliance, blue in color, shone through this
opening and fell upon them.
"Ruggy, your face is blue!" Stot laughed.
"Everything has turned blue," retorted the Nome. "That is
a good sign, I think, for it means we are near one of the underground suns
that illuminate the Vegetable Kingdom of Mangaboo."
"We may come very near indeed, for we are about to go
over the edge," declared Bungle. She was very sober now, for she thought
this might be the end of her.
The rock-sofa did shoot over the edge of the gallery,
fast as a cannonball, and the four travellers found themselves gliding
through an open space so vast they could not see the end of it.
An Out-of-Order King
sparked many exclamations of curiosity, which Ozma had to quell to make
"I know of the Kingdom of Dreams," said she, "for I have
seen it for many years upon the map of Oz and her neighboring countries."
"Didn’t you use the Magic Picture to take a look at it?"
asked Princess Dorothy of her friend. Ozma’s Magic Picture allowed the
viewer to observe any spot in the wide world.
"I did. But all I could ever see was a bank of dense
mist, completely obscuring the land beneath."
Tik-Tok now raised one of his mechanical hands and bade
the others be silent. "I can tell you some-thing, for I was man-u-fac-tured
in the Land of Ev and put to ser-vice there, and we knew more of the lands
out-side the de-sert than do you of Oz."
"What can you tell us, then?" inquired the Wizard, his
brow creased with interest.
"The King-dom of Dreams o-per-ates un-der a pe-cu-li-ar
charm. Who-som-e-ver looks in-to its mists will find that the mists take the
forms of things that are plea-sant to that per-son; and it is dif-fer-ent
for ev-e-ry-one. The dreams are so-lid and com-plete-ly real to all the
"Why, that’s wonderful!" squeeled Betsy Bobbin. "Perhaps
we could vacation there for a day or two."
"A-las, it is not won-der-ful," continued Tik-Tok.
"The dreams are guar-an-teed to be pleas-ing on-ly while the sun is up. When
it sets, you see your most fright-ful fears."
"And can they—can they hurt you?" quavered the Cowardly
"Yes," the clockwork man replied. "They are as real as
an-y-thing to the person they be-long to. No one has e-ver sur-vived a full
night in the King-dom of Dreams."
Cap’n Bill, having lit his tiny pipe, now placed it in
his tiny mouth; which was a sign he was about to speak thoughtfully. "Seems
we’d best avoid this place, Your Majesty. I’ll admit to likin’ what I saw,
but I don’t think I’d care t’ meet my worst nightmares, thank ye very much."
Ozma nodded once, silently acknowledging that the old
sailor’s recommendation was a wise one. "To get to the upper end of the
route that Eureka, Dorothy, and our Wizard took in their escape from the
Vegetable Kingdom so many years ago, we must come to the spot on the surface
that is above it. That spot lies beyond the Kingdom of Dreams, and to get
there by the shortest road we must travel straight forward. We cannot spare
the time to go around."
"But it seems this dreamy kingdom will not spare us,"
observed the Shaggy Man. "Still, it is your decision, ma’am."
"I think it will not hurt us at all," the Wizard
declared. "The dreams take shape only when one looks into the mists, as when
we used the magnifying glass. But at our tiny size, with our tiny eyes, we
cannot see anything of the larger world without assistance."
"But what of Eureka?" asked Ozma, full of kindly concern.
"I know!" cried Betsy. "We can put a handkerchief or a
scarf, or something, over her eyes. She can go on instinc’ from there on,
till we get all the way through."
The Shaggy Man laughed. "You’re remembering how we
covered the face of my homely lost brother, aren’t you? But the Pink Kitten
does not carry a handkerchief, and none of ours will be big enough to fit
"I’m afraid she will just have to shut her eyes very
tightly," Princess Ozma pronounced soberly. "There is nothing else to be
The Hungry Tiger stretched and snorted. "I would
not be afraid," he muttered in a low tone. "I am only afraid of starvation,
not silly nightmares."
"And how I envy you, my dear comrade," said the Cowardly
Lion. "I am as full of fear as you are full of hunger. If I were to eat you,
which I am surely capable of doing, your impulsive bravado might be an
antidote to my cowardice."
"If you also gained my hunger, you would feel as though
you hadn’t eaten at all," retorted the tiger in a voice even more shrunk in
size than his miniaturization required.
The lion showed his long teeth in a great grin. "Still,
it is worth thinking about."
Ozma communicated her plan to Eureka, who replied: "Are
you commanding me to do it, Princess?"
"Yes, for it is my duty to do so."
"Then it is my duty to obey, I suppose," the Pink Kitten
said without enthusiasm. "But listen, with my eyes closed-up, how will I
avoid running into trees and rocks and things?"
Tik-Tok gestured, and Ozma passed the silver wand to him.
"You will have no pro-blem on that ac-count, Eu-re-ka, I as-sure you. I saw
the lay of the land just as it re-al-ly is when I looked through the
Wi-zard’s glass, and it is on-ly an ex-panse of dirt, as smooth as a dance
floor. You need on-ly run in the pro-per di-rec-tion as fast as you can go."
With all her tiny passengers comfortably passenged,
Eureka padded off in a direction slightly south of east. She did not need to
close her eyes right away, for the sky was still brightly lit, and the
endless stretch of mouse-plants made an appealing vista for the Pink Kitten
to look upon.
Knowing that Ozma was listening, Eureka said: "Your
Highness, I might make better speed if I stopped now and then to nibble a
"No, Eureka," came the response in her ear. "It would be
real to you at the time, but I hardly think such dream-food could be very
nutritious. Besides that, one shouldn’t encourage a bad habit."
The Pink Kitten kept on steadily one, two, three hours.
The Kingdom of Dreams was an odd sort of place to travel through. Whenever
Eureka would grow bored with the sight of the mouse-plants and turn her
thoughts elsewhere, the plants would commence to fade from sight, becoming
only colored wisps of mist. But this change attracted the Pink Kitten’s
attention again, and immediately the mists would regain a solid form. The
effect was a constant ebbing and flowing of the scenery.
A further and more serious complication was the absence
of the sun. Perhaps because of the mists that enveloped the whole country,
the sun’s disk could not be seen. The sky was simply a bright blankness
spreading from horizon to horizon: and in consequence it was not possible to
tell for sure how late in the day it was getting to be. When the night came,
it came with surprising swiftness. The sky changed in a few heartbeats from
bright to dark, as if a curtain of black lace had been pulled across it. In
the dimness the surroundings began to change as well, in ways the Pink
Kitten did not like at all. The central bushes of the mouse-plants began to
shrink and melt-away toward the ground. At the same time, the mice
themselves began to swell-up, their teeth growing longer and sharper, their
eyes growing beadier and more menacing.
"They’re turning to rats!" yowled Eureka in
fear—especially when she noted that their knotted tails were coming undone
from one another.
"Shut your eyes! Hurry!" came Ozma’s voice.
Eureka complied with Ozma’s command, but the rhythm of
her running was thrown off and she came to a stop. Then, eyes shut, she
started off again. But she thought she might have gone off-course, so she
halted. This starting-and-stopping happened a half-dozen times.
"Eureka, you must move forward steadily," Ozma said.
"I surely would if I could; but I can’t," replied the
Pink Kitten. "I’m afraid I’ve lost my way. Can’t you direct me?"
This Ozma tried to do, with the help of the Wizard and
Tik-Tok, who was holding the magnifying glass. But Eureka was in something
of a state, not quite sure that the monster rats she had seen were only
nightmares that had vanished when she had shut her eyes. Because she was
afraid, she took direction poorly. It was soon impossible for anyone to
determine whether she was headed the right way or just going in circles.
"This is very bad," Ozma declared. She turned to Princess
Dorothy. "Dorothy dear, perhaps you should take the wand and speak to
Eureka. She is your pet, after all, and your voice might calm her."
"I can try," replied the little girl from Kansas.
"Wait!" Tik-Tok interjected. "Eu-re-ka is com-ing to
What he saw through the magnifying glass was a building
shaped like a perfect cube and colored like the bare earth of the Kingdom of
Dreams, which caused it to blend-in with the background until one came
fairly close to it. The building, which was soon revealed to be very large
indeed, had no windows and but one door, which was in the exact middle of
one side and thus a good ways above the level of the ground.
"Who do you suppose lives there?" asked Trot.
"Oh, you can use your head on that one, Trot," said Cap’n
Bill. "As we’re in the Kingdom o’ Dreams, I’d say that must be the place
where the King hisself lives."
"Then he might be willing to give us directions," said
Princess Ozma. With the help of Tik-Tok, she guided the Pink Kitten toward
the side of the great structure that bore the doorway, which was open and
Suddenly Tik-Tok signalled for Eureka to halt, which she
did with such abruptness that her passengers almost fell over.
"There is a moat a-round the buil-ding," announced the
"Is it deep?" asked Dorothy.
Tik-Tok paused, holding the magnifying glass carefully.
"Yes. It is as deep as the buil-ding is high."
"I cannot swim," came the deep echoey voice of Eureka.
"You will not have to," said Tik-Tok; "for it is a moat
of air, with no wa-ter in it."
"Well and good, but I cannot swim in air any more than I
can in water," was Eureka’s rejoinder. As she said this she ventured to open
one eyelid just a slit, and through that slit she saw the side of the King’s
house—if indeed that is what it was—with the little doorway in the middle of
it. No sooner had she trained her eye upon the doorway than, with no warning
and no reason at all, she found herself standing beneath the arch and
looking down a long hall.
"How did that happen?" Eureka exclaimed in pure
"Just a part of being in a dream kingdom, I s’pose,"
responded little Dorothy. "But don’t mind it, Eureka dear."
The corridor was well lit, although no particular source
of light was visible (which is usually the way it is in a dream). As the
Pink Kitten advanced cautiously, she found that it curved smoothly in odd
and unpredictable ways, to the right, to the left, even upwards and
downwards. As a result she could only see a few yards ahead.
"This place makes no sense to me at all," she murmured
under her breath. "You know, the walls are coming closer together as I go
along, and I do believe the ceiling is getting lower. Pretty soon I’ll have
But just as the corridor became so narrow that Eureka’s
shoulders brushed against the walls, and so low that the tips of her pink
ears rubbed against the ceiling, a final turn revealed the end of it. Before
her stood what seemed to be the sole inhabitant of the great cube-building.
He filled the corridor, which merely meant that the top
of his head was on a level with Eureka’s, making him about the size of a
doll. His arms and legs and body were made entirely of smooth round balls
pressed together, and another ball on top gave him a head. He looked, in
other words, a bit like a snowman. But he had no eyes of coal, nor even a
carrot-nose: his head was perfectly featureless. Nor did he have any color
of his own—the balls reflected like mirrors, and every color or detail one
could see in him was a reflection of something in his surroundings. At
present he was mostly pink, for it was the Pink Kitten he reflected, and her
own face that she saw at the front of his round head.
Eureka reported all this to Ozma and the others. Then she
noticed something further. "There’s lettering on the front of him, right
where his nose should be." Having become well-educated during her many years
in the Royal Palace, she was able to read-off the message, which was printed
very neatly. It said:
Hello to you and welcome to my castle.
I am the Dream-King.
"You had better say something back to him," advised Ozma.
"Though writing may be how he speaks, he may be able to hear all right."
Eureka bobbed her head in a slight bow—for though a cat
is allowed to look at a king, she wasn’t too sure what other rules might
apply—and said. "Hello, I am Eureka the famous Pink Kitten, of the court of
Princess Ozma of Oz."
As she finished speaking, new lettering appeared on the
face of the Dream-King. The message read:
As this seemed to have nothing to do with anything,
Eureka asked, "Can you hear me, Your Polished Highness?" And the answer came
What does what mean?
"Hmmph!" snorted the Pink Kitten, who was beginning to
feel that the creature was mocking her—and she had almost as much
pride as the Glass Cat. "Now what does that mean?" To this the
As I am in my own kingdom, perhaps it is you who are.
"More nonsense," muttered Eureka. "I do believe this King
is badly out of order." The reply read:
If I can, I shall. What do you wish?
"Well, that’s better," the cat remarked. "Now then, King,
I’m here to ask if you’ll do me a favor, that’s all."
Please come back!
"I’ve about had my fill of this," said Eureka in disgust,
backing away down the corridor. She half-turned when there was enough space
to do so, and whispered to those riding upon her back, "Did you see all of
that through your lens, folks? The man wouldn’t know a sensible conversation
if it bit him!"
"Stop!" came the voice of the little Wizard of Oz. "I
believe I have figured out this mystery. If you please, my dear, go back to
the King and do two things, just as I tell you to."
"What are they?"
"First, pause for just a moment, so we can read the
Dream-King’s message before it is replaced. And then say to him, ‘I beg
your pardon, Your Highness, but do you happen to know, what is 2 plus 3?’.
Do precisely as I say."
"Oh, all right," said Eureka. She returned to the
presence of the monarch—who had remained as motionless as a statue, except
for the lettering coming and going on his face—and stood still for a moment.
The lettering spelled out one word:
Then the Pink Kitten said, "I beg your pardon, Your
Highness, but do you happen to know, what is 2 plus 3?" The reply to this
"Bad as ever!" whispered Eureka. "I—I—" And then she
sneezed, for there was a bit of dust in the air.
"Exactly as I surmised!" cried the Wizard in triumph.
"You see, Eureka, the Dream-King is answering you in quite a sensible way
after all; but he is not answering the question you just asked, but
the next question that you are going to ask. We might have
guessed that time would be a bit unstuck here, as time can pass in strange
ways when one is dreaming."
"But what am I to do, then?" asked Eureka plaintively. "I
can’t think in such a silly way."
"You must try," said the Wizard. "Just ask for his help,
for that is why we are here."
The Pink Kitten now lifted her eyes to the Dream-King
again, and saw his new message.
Run as fast as you can in any direction, and I will help
you, it said.
"Much obliged," responded Eureka. "What we want is to get
to a piece of land near your kingdom that is right over Mangaboo, which is
underground, if you don’t know." As she finished the sentence, she realized
that it had already been answered.
Good-bye. It was my pleasure, was the next message to
appear—the very last, as it turned out.
"Thank you ever so, Your Majesty," said the Pink Kitten
rather wearily, "and goodbye." She returned to the doorway, and as soon as
she caught sight of the ground—which seemed to be swarming with huge,
ferocious rats with eyes that burned in the darkness—she found herself down
amongst them. But she shut her eyes tightly, and they were gone.
Eureka began to run, just as fast as she could manage.
She could only keep it up for a minute or two. Then her little legs failed
her; but instead of stumbling and falling to the ground, she felt as though
she were sinking down and down into a soft feather pillow. In fact, she was
When the Pink Kitten opened her eyes, she was lying
well-rested upon the ground of a new country entirely; for it seemed the
Dream-King was as good as his word.
In The Vegetable Kingdom
The rock-sofa that
Ruggedo had created was moving very rapidly through the underground air
after its long slide down the ice volcano. Though not especially afraid (as
it is hard for glass to feel fear), Bungle ducked down behind the raised
edge of the sofa. She had no fear of being shattered, but didn’t look
forward to it either.
Junipee felt like ducking down also, but she knew she
ought to keep up a brave front for the good of Stot; though the little boy
was not in the least concerned. He reasoned that nothing very bad had
happened to them yet, and so—by little-boy logic—nothing would.
If there was any real fear on the rock-sofa, it belonged
to Ruggedo. The former Nome King was quaking, and if the cat and the
children had not been so preoccupied the rattling-clattering sound would
probably have irritated them. Though made of rocks of all sizes and shapes,
Ruggedo was not exactly what you would call a solid type of fellow. He was
as self-centered as a child, and something of a bully when circumstances
permitted: persons of that sort are very often cowards, unless they are too
stupid to know when danger threatens. In this case the danger was obvious
indeed, for they were gliding in the direction of a huge globe that glowed
with a strange blue light. This was one of the several colored suns of the
underground domain of the Mangaboos, and the Nome couldn’t be sure how it
would affect him.
"Oooh!" cried Stot. "It’s pretty! Can we land on it, Mr.
"I would prefer not to," responded Ruggedo in a gruff and
distracted tone. "In any event, what happens has nothing to do with me."
"Well," said Bungle, "we can’t very well ask the sofa,
now can we?"
The blue sun that they were approaching was not just
huge, but really immense, as large straight-across as the Empire State
Building is tall. Its light dazzled the eyes, and the travellers had to put
their various hands in front of their several faces—though for the
transparent Glass Cat this was a useless endeavor, of course. As they drew
nearer to the big ball, which was suspended in mid-air by some unknown
means, they could make out what looked like flames licking across its
rounded surface. But they must not have been real flames, just as the blue
sun was not a real sun, for they felt no heat at all.
At first it had seemed that the rock-sofa would crash
into the sun, but this turned out to be a trick of the light, for they
passed just beneath it. As it fell behind them, they saw for the first time
the other colored suns of this strange world. There was a central sun,
larger than the rest, which glowed white; and arranged evenly about it were
five more suns of different colors. In addition to the blue sun, there was
one of yellow, one of violet, one of orange, and one of rose-red. The white
of the middle sun seemed to blend with these other colors, producing an
overall pastel effect. As the five outer suns were slowly circling the one
in the center, the mix of colors was constantly changing.
Their course was now angling away from the family of
suns, which soon were definitely high above them.
"Aw, we’re slowin’ down," Stot observed in
disappointment. It was as if a carnival ride were coming to an end.
"But what’s with this air?" exclaimed Junipee. The air
about them was no longer soft and yeilding, like normal air, but felt thick
and dense, almost as if they were moving through a gelatin. Yet they could
see through it, and breathe without difficulty.
"I can explain that," said the Nome King, who had
regained some of his composure. "As one goes more deeply into the hollow of
the earth, the air becomes much thicker, because all the air that is piled
above it squeezes the lower air together. And that is why the sides of this
cavern-world don’t simply collapse—the thick air pushes back against them."
"Thank you for that unasked-for account," Bungle snipped.
"Now explain this, Gravel-guts." She rose up on her four feet—and continued
rising, floating into the air. Junipee was afraid the cat would keep going
and be lost to them; but Bungle merely stretched out her paws and walked
through the air, back to her place on the sofa.
"Can glass float?" inquired Stot.
"Not in my experience," the Glass Cat replied.
"It’s gravity, of course," declared Ruggedo. "As we’re
down deep in the middle of the earth, she pulls on us from all directions;
so we weigh very little."
Junipee had leaned over the raised edge of the rock-sofa
to get a better view of what lay below. "We’re coming to something."
"I should expect so," said Bungle. "What sort of
Junipee now sat upright again. "It’s flat ground, with
trees and water, and there’s a city too."
"Ah, yes indeed!" exclaimed Ruggedo with satisfaction.
"That will be the glass city of the Mangaboos, which means our journey is
"I hope you notice how expertly I have guided you there,"
the Glass Cat declared smugly. "I have even entertained you with some
thrills along the way. You can credit my brains, which—as you can easily see
if you bother to look—have been working vigorously at all times."
"You’re real good, Yoo-ree-ka," Stot pronounced. "You’re
the best glass cat I ever knowed." This pleasured Bungle, even though she
was not Eureka at all, but an impostor.
The rock-sofa was now moving downward very slowly, gently
as a leaf falling from a tree. In a few minutes they bumped to an easy stop,
coming to rest in the middle of a broad thoroughfare. The street was not
made of concrete or asphalt or brick, or even plain dirt, but of glass; and
every building, everything around them, was likewise made of glass.
"Window-washers must have a steady job around here,"
There were people in the boulevard, richly dressed and
beautiful to behold, every one of them. They stood silently here and there,
watching calmly; in fact they moved so little that they almost seemed like
dolls or store-mannikins.
After a time one of the men bestirred himself and
approached the rock-sofa. "Who are you, and what are you, and where do you
come from, and why are you here?" he asked, all in one breath.
"Um—huh?" asked Stot. He had forgotten which questions
"You’ll have to ask them one at a time if you expect an
answer," declared the Nome Kind arrogantly. "That’s common courtesy, and I
am visiting royalty." But the man only walked away, his face expressionless.
Soon a woman of mature years approached, dressed in an
elegant gown and a cloak. "If you have come to the Vegetable Kingdom to do
us harm," she said in a sweet voice, "then we shall have to regret your
"I have nothing to say in reply, madam," said Ruggedo,
"for that is not even a question." The woman walked gracefully away.
Now a younger woman drew near, silvery curls framing her
lovely little face. "You belong here," she said to Bungle, "for it is
clear that you are made of the same substance as our Glass City."
"For such a young and pretty girl, that is very good
thinking," Bungle replied.
"The rest of you do not belong here," continued the young
woman, turning to the others. "Two of you are made of some unknown material,
and you, sir, are made of rock and stone. So you must either leave us, or we
shall have to go to the trouble to destroy you."
"Bah! See here, you little turnip," growled Ruggedo
indignantly. "I am Ruggedo, King of the Nomes and Past-Master of their
Subterranean Dominions, and I do not care for your tone, nor your choice of
words—especially the word ‘destroy’."
"I can see you’re a whiz at making friends, Ruggy," the
Glass Cat remarked. "But as these people seem to like me, I suppose you can
get yourself into any hot water you choose."
The woman had now backed away. Stot turned to Bungle and
said, "These people don’t look too scary after all, Yoo-Ree-Ka."
"They have improved their looks over the years, I’ll
grant you," responded the cat. "On the other hand, they do wish to
destroy you, so I won’t vouch for their character."
"Junee, I don’t wanna be ’stroyed," Stot pouted.
"I don’t want it either," she replied. "But I can’t
wait to hear what our leader here plans to do about it."
"You needn’t be snippy, child," sniffed Ruggedo. "I can
reduce their glass metropolis to rubble if need be."
The Mangaboos heard this comment and immediately backed
away as if alarmed, though they showed nothing on their smooth pale faces. A
man standing nearby called out, "We prefer you not to do that; for if you do
that we will have no place to live until a new city is ripe."
"If you want us to behave, you had better treat us
properly," retorted the Nome King.
"What sort of treatment is proper?" the man inquired.
"Well, as we are visitors—royal visitors—you might
have the common sense to take us to whosomever is in charge of this place,"
said Ruggedo. "I believe you have a Queen, don’t you?"
"No, she has us, for we are her subjects and must do what
she tells us. Do you wish to meet Queen Ssyr?"
"I do," replied the Nome. "Indeed, I demand it!"
"You will not have to go to the extra work of demanding
it," the man said with a polite bow, "for we are willing to do it, if it is
proper. Follow me, if you wish; or if you do not, you may wander aimlessly
until you happen across her, whatever your custom may be."
"Oh, just take us to her," said Bungle. "This discourse
is tedious, and you can only watch things change colors for so long, you
Eureka Finds The Trail
The Pink Kitten
stretched and looked around, wondering for just a moment if she might still
be dreaming. But things seemed very normal and very real. A rocky, jagged
landscape extended in all directions, with low thickets of scraggly bushes
here and there. The sun could now be seen once again high above. It seemed
to be mid-morning.
"Are you all right, Eureka?" came the voice of Dorothy.
"Yes, I’m willing to say that I am," replied the cat. "In
fact, I feel quite refreshed. And you?"
"Very well, thank you," responded the little Princess of
Oz. "I think we all fell asleep when you did."
On Eureka’s back the much-reduced Ozites were all
clustered together about Ozma, who held in her hand the silver wand that
allowed them to speak to the Pink Kitten. "Anyone have a guess where we
are?" inquired the Shaggy Man.
Tik-Tok handed him the magnifying glass, and he took a
quick look around. "Mighty rough and barren country," said he. "No apple
trees or hammocks to be seen, that’s for sure and certain."
"That is good news," said Princess Ozma; "for it means we
are beyond the borders of the Kingdom of Dreams, just as the Dream-King
"If it was a promise, and not somethin’ out of
order and backwards," commented Trot. But as the glass was passed from hand
to hand, it became apparent that all of them were seeing the same landscape
"Beyond the Kingdom of Dreams lie several small countries
that I have no wish to visit," Ozma said thoughtfully. "But my
fairy-instincts are telling me that the Dream-King, who must be some sort of
magician, has transported us over them in our sleep. I think we have arrived
in that place on the map that says simply ‘Vegetable Kingdom.’ Of course the
actual Vegetable Kingdom of Mangaboo lies in a great hollow deep
underground, but this area above it is credited to them as a courtesy,
though my investigations with the Magic Picture have shown that it is at
present without inhabitants."
"That’s all well and good with me," said Cap’n Bill
heartily, a sentiment echoed by the Cowardly Lion.
"I guess we’ve had more’n enough of inhabitants,"
added Betsy Bobbin.
Princess Ozma directed her attention to the wand.
"Eureka, if you have refreshened enough, can you detect the way to the
little opening that leads down to the underground world?"
"Oh, I suppose I do smell a little something at that,"
replied the Pink Kitten through a languid yawn. "Of course it has been a
hundred years or so, Your Most Excellency."
"My wand is helping your memories," Ozma reassured her.
"Then that explains it," said Eureka; "for I now recall
every detail of that silly trial you put me through when I was thought to
have indulged my cat nature by eating one of the Wizard’s piglets—a thing
for which I could hardly have been blamed, even if I had done it."
"But you didn’t do it, Eureka dear," said Dorothy in some
haste. "And a good thing too, because you would have deprived yourself of a
wonderful little playmate if you had eaten him."
"That’s true," conceded the kitten. "And refined people
don’t play with their food, I’ve heard. Anyway, I’ll find the source of that
old familiar scent."
The Pink Kitten trotted off to the south and, after a
pause, a bit to the west.
"Not a very pleasant country we’re passing through now,"
commented the little Wizard of Oz as he gazed about through his magnifying
glass. "I’m surely glad my balloon carried me to a lovely and pleasant land
’way back when, for if I had to live here like a hermit, I would hardly have
cared to remain on earth at all."
"This quar-ter of the con-tin-ent of I-ma-gi-na-tion is
dry and in-hos-pi-table," Tik-Tok said. "In the land a-bove the Nome
Do-min-ions there are moun-tains, here there are on-ly low hills and rocks,
and in the King-dom of Dreams just dry and le-vel dirt. On-ly e-vil pe-ople,
ec-cen-tric pe-ople, and un-der-ground pe-ople choose to dwell here."
"My goodness, Tik-Tok, you sound just like a
school lesson," laughed little Dorothy.
"My thin-king ac-tion in-cludes a ge-o-gra-phy op-tion,"
explained the wind-up man, who was always modest (as he could not help it).
Presently Eureka announced that the scent from
underground had become very strong, and minutes later she came to a stop and
carefully lay down upon her stomach. "We’re here," she said simply.
Before her the earth sloped down a little ways into a
hollow, and at the bottom of the hollow, between several boulders, was a
small dark opening, a crack in the ground. Taking a look through his glass,
the Wizard said: "I remember that crack, Dorothy, and so should you and your
kitten—though admittedly we only saw it from down below."
"Well, I can’t say I know one from t’other," declared
Dorothy, having taken a glance. "But if you and Eureka will vouch for it,
that’s good enough for me."
"Then please do let the kitten get on with it," urged the
Hungry Tiger in plaintive tones. "There may be good food at the other end of
it, and it seems I am wasting away to nothing."
"Now, friend tiger, we are all of us nearly
nothing as it is, at this size," chuckled the Shaggy Man. "But you know,
strange to say, I find I don’t feel particularly hungry or thirsty, though
we haven’t eaten in more than a day—maybe two."
"Why, I expect that’s no mystery," observed Cap’n
Bill. "We’re just as small as those midgey seamen you find on
ships-in-bottles, an’ our bellies is small-sized too. We could live for a
week on a drop o’ rain and a crumb from last Tuesday’s breakfast."
"Of what use is a bot-tle of ships?" inquired Tik-Tok;
but Cap’n Bill could only gaze at him silently, wondering how to answer such
"Anyway," said Dorothy, "our troubles aren’t over yet,
you know. I remember that that crack is up in the ceiling of a big open
space, and even Eureka couldn’t get at it. If she jumps on through it,
she’ll just fall all the way."
"Nothing wrong with that, really, is there?" asked Betsy.
"It’s not as if she could die or even really hurt herself, and that goes for
the rest of us."
Ozma smiled at her little subject. "I wish that were
true, Betsy, but it isn’t. It is only within the borders of the Land of Oz
itself that the preserving spell of the fairy Lurline protects us. Here,
though magic can work, we are pretty much left to our own devices, and we
must be careful of illness, hurt, and death."
"Those who are a-ble to die might do so," agreed Tik-Tok.
"Of course I am un-a-ble to die, as I have ne-ver been a-live."
Princess Ozma asked Eureka to approach the edge of the
opening as closely as was safe, and look down through it. "What do you see?"
"Nothing," replied the Pink Kitten. "Indeed, quite a big
boodle of nothing."
"I wish to try an experiment," said Ozma. "Push a pebble
over the edge, and let us see how long it takes to reach the bottom of the
This Eureka did, and in a bare moment she reported, "I
can’t say I saw how long it took, Princess, but I heard its
clatter after just a second."
"That’s about right," the Wizard commented.
Ozma grasped her wand very firmly with eight fingers and
two thumbs. "Now try it once more."
This time there was a very long pause. Finally Eureka
muttered, "Well, I think I heard something, but it took quite a
"Good!" cried Ozma. "That means the silver wand is strong
enough to slow the fall of things even if they are of normal size. You may
go ahead and jump through, Eureka."
"Oh, may I?" responded the cat sarcastically. But
she obeyed the royal command of her princess and hurled herself through the
narrow hole. Darkness swallowed her up immediately, and for a good many
seconds she floated downward like a little pink parachute, her four legs
nervously stretched out in anticipation of meeting the ground. Finally she
settled down upon a rocky, dusty floor with a harmless thump.
"The underground phase of our journey has begun,"
declared the Wizard.
"Trot an’ I’ve been under th’ ground afore," Cap’n Bill
noted. "It’s no big thing, less’n you’re a gopher, or one o’ those Nomes."
Eureka was able to follow not only the faint and distant
scent of the Mangaboo land, but the distinctive scents of the several other
places she had passed through long before in trying to regain the surface of
the earth. These faint smells, which to you or I would be quite
undetectible, seemed to have accumulated on the rock walls over the ages.
As she walked along, slowly becoming used to seeing by
means of the single ray of sunlight that fell through the crack from high
above, she said: "I don’t have to just follow my nose right now, for there
are marks on the ground in the dust."
"What sort of marks?" asked the Cowardly Lion nervously:
for he was always inclined to suspect the worst.
"Just a pair of grooves running along side by side.
Pretty old, I’d venture—so you can stop your fretting, Lion."
"Ah!" exclaimed the Wizard with pleasure. "I know
precisely what they are—they are the tracks left by the buggy when we came
this way before. We are indeed revisiting our old haunts."
The trail led downward into deeper and deeper darkness,
zigging and zagging unpredictably. Suddenly there came a shock to those
riding Eureka, tumbling all of them forward toward the head of their mount.
"Eoww!" squeeled the Pink Kitten. "I’ve bumped my
"Did the wall turn in front of you?" inquired Dorothy
when she had picked herself up.
"Let’s see," Ozma said, causing her wand to act like a
flashlight. With the aid of the magnifying glass, they saw that Eureka had
run into a dead end, a bulging wall of stone that extended entirely acoss
"That’s odd," murmured the Wizard. "We came this way
"Perhaps there’s been some construction work underground
over the last century or so," suggested the Shaggy Man.
"No, I remember now," Dorothy said. "There was a big rock
that turned around and around on its own and blocked our way half the time."
"Oh yes, I recall it myself. It ended up getting stuck in
place after we had passed by it." The Wizard removed his top hat and
scratched his bald head in thoughtful frustration. "We said then that we
couldn’t go back even if we had wanted to; and now we want to, and we
But Cap’n Bill waved a finger in the air. "Now, now,
Wizard. You may be Ozma’s chief adviser, but we’re all in the business this
trip. I can see how we might get by it after all."
"Didja fergit how small we’ve got to? Blamme if we
couldn’t just slip single-file through the crack between the wall and the
boulder, the way fleas an’ ants always do—when you don’t want ’em to."
But Dorothy frowned. "What about Eureka? She isn’t
reduced at all, and we can’t just leave her behind."
If Cap’n Bill disagreed with that sentiment, he wisely
kept his own counsel. He didn’t care much for cats.
"I suppose my fear of being stuck here under the earth is
what puts the fire under my thinking, but I have an idea," pronounced the
Cowardly Lion. "Perhaps while we work our way through beneath the boulder,
we can find a way to free it so it can resume its turning motion. Then
Eureka could pass through while it is no longer blocking the way."
"That is ad-mi-ra-ble rea-son-ing," Tik-Tok said. "In
this in-stance you are as wise as the Scare-crow of Oz him-self."
With Eureka standing up close to the great boulder the
group of travellers dismounted and began to expedition along the place where
the face of the boulder met the cave floor. It was Trot, bounding merrily
ahead, who discovered a minute crack there. It was no higher than a playing
card is thick, but this was sufficient for even the Cowardly Lion and the
Hungry Tiger to crawl their way through, while the others had but to duck
low here and there.
"Look here!" cried Dorothy presently. She motioned for
Ozma to direct her magical beam of light off to the left. "That must be the
piece of hard rock that’s stuck in the works."
"Yes, you can see how it’s wedged in at the pivot point,"
the Shaggy Man observed. "But now, little girl, do tell me how we are to
move it. It looks as solid as a steel girder to me."
There was a long silence as Ozma and her many advisers
pondered this situation. But ultimately it was Ozma who advised herself.
"Just as I was able to separate and animate our shadows in the Mouse
Republic, I think I may be able to do the same thing with the strength of
our strongest members, the Lion and the Tiger." She turned to these great
beasts and said, "You two must lie all the way down, as if you are taking a
nap; for if you move a single muscle, the spell will be broken."
"I will close my eyes, so as not to use my blinking
muscle," the Cowardly Lion declared.
"As will I—and I will hold my breath as well," added the
"I’m afraid there is a bit of danger," Ozma said soberly.
"When the boulder is freed, it will begin to turn, and we will all have to
be very nimble to keep out of its way."
The dainty Rightful Ruler of Oz prepared for her endeavor
by using her wand to produce a stream of hot sparks that struck the piece of
rock in several places, causing it to soften. As she did so there was a
startling moment when the tiny rock shifted position, causing the big
boulder to groan and move slightly—for all the time, and for a hundred
years, it had been straining to resume its rotation. However, this amounted
to little, and so the Tiger and the Lion took their places as Ozma had
instructed them, lying absolutely flat and closing their eyes.
"Make ready," warned Princess Ozma, concentrating upon
the silver wand.
What happened then was hard to describe, for it happened
very quickly indeed. A sort of something, bright red in color, seemed to
rise out of the prone bodies of the two beasts and flash toward the shard of
rock. This was their strength, every bit of it. The Red Something threw
itself against the side of the rock, and instantly, with a terrible scraping
sound, the rock swung halfway around and shattered into a slew of small,
jagged pieces. In less than a heartbest the Red Something bounded back into
the bodies of the Lion and the Tiger, who groaned and sat up.
They sat up just in time, too. For now the great boulder
was freed, and, very relieved, it began to turn again.
"Be care-ful!" cried Tik-Tok, as everyone beat a hasty
retreat in the forward direction, avoiding the low-hanging parts of what
seemed like a ceiling in rapid motion above them.
The silver wand helped propel them along until they had
all reached safety and stood panting on the far side of the turning boulder,
which seemed to them as big as a mountain.
When the boulder had turned on its pivot point about
halfway, an opening appeared at one side between the boulder and the cave
wall. A pinkish packet of fur came shooting through this opening, her charge
ending with a somersault next to the others. Then, Eureka safe and the way
clear for the moment, the expedition of rescue resumed its journey.
The Queen of the Mangaboos
The Mangaboo man led
Ruggedo, Bungle, Junipee, and Stot through the glass streets of the Glass
City at a moderately brisk pace. The glass of the buildings was clearer even
than the sort of glass we use in our windows, almost as if the air itself
had turned solid; and for this reason it was easy for the travellers from
the surface world to observe much of life in the underground land that they
had fallen into. Everywhere they looked they could see the stately men and
women of Mangaboo moving about behind their transparent walls, sometimes
pressing close against them to have a look at the four strange visitors from
above. The inhabitants were of all ages—but not quite all: there were no
infants or young children anywhere to be seen.
Finally they came to an open square in the middle of the
city. On one side of the square was a beautiful glass palace with a round
central dome and four high towers. On the other side was a long and narrow
glass structure somewhat resembling a greenhouse. Ruggedo and the others
naturally turned toward the palace, but their guide called out for them to
"Do you not desire an audience with our ruler, Queen
"We do," said the former Nome King. "Is that grand
building not the royal palace?"
"No," replied the Mangaboo. "That is the Palace of the
Sorcerer, whose name is Murch." He pointed in the opposite direction, to the
small structure at the other side of the public square. "There is the
dwelling of Queen Ssyr."
"That’s funny!" said Stot.
"Why do you find it peculiar?" asked the guide, who
seemed not to know the other meaning of the word "funny."
"Cause where we come from, the more important you are,
the bigger the house you have."
"That is an odd arrangement," the man commented. "The
dignity of being the leader of an entire people is very great, and so to
keep things fair and even, we give our royal toptypes houses that are no
larger than they must be to accommodate those who come there on business."
"Then your sorcerer must be quite an inferior fellow, to
live in that plus-sized palace," commented the Glass Cat.
"He is regarded as the least ferior of all of us,"
replied the Mangaboo man, "as his only purpose is to serve the needs of all
the rest." He turned without further comment and continued on towards the
dwelling of the Queen.
They entered the little house single-file, and found that
it was really no more than a very long hallway leading to a single square
room, where upon a glass throne sat a silver-haired woman in a long, gauzy
gown, a star fixed in her hair just above her forehead.
"Well?" asked Queen Ssyr.
"For the most part," confirmed the man who had served as
guide. "But I bring you these four, who ask to see you, and say it is the
proper thing to do."
The Queen looked at each of the four surface-dwellers in
turn. "Although the small creature seems to be made of glass, like our
buildings, I perceive that none of you are Mangaboos. Therefore I deduce
that you come from elsewhere."
"You are absolutely correct," said Ruggedo with a show of
"How did you come here?" she asked.
"Let us say that we dropped in, and leave it at that,"
"I do not understand," said Queen Ssyr; "but it is of no
consequence, so long as you return to elsewhere immediately."
"Well, actually," began Junipee, "we had sort of a goal
to accomplish first. Then we’ll leave in a hurry, you can bet."
Ruggedo nudged the little girl, as he had not planned to
be anything like honest with the Queen. But Junipee continued, "It’s sort of
a scavenger hunt, Your Majesty. Do you happen to have something called
"Then," Stot piped up, "we need ’em."
"Oh, I don’t know exactly," the boy went on. "I guess Mr.
King needs to have them so he can get his belt."
The Queen nodded. "That I understand; for my Colorless
Gloves, having no color at all, will go with any belt or other article of
clothing. But they are national symbols, like the star upon my head, and
cannot be lent out."
"Then there is no reason to hang around, and we’ll be on
our way," said the Glass Cat.
"Just a moment!" put in Ruggedo in a commanding voice
that he reserved for such occasions. "I am King of the Nomes, and have an
enormous army at my disposal. You would be foolish to disregard my demands."
"I did not know that," Queen Ssyr replied. "It is
improper for the royal head of a country to be foolish. Must I then consider
your demands before turning them down?"
"I suppose that would be an improvement," the former Nome
King responded, with a show of restrained impatience. "But in truth,
speaking frankly as one royal personage to another, matters will not be
completely square until you give me what I want."
Her expression remaining as earnest and dignified as an
official portrait, Queen Ssyr nodded. "I understand, but what you ask
presents grave difficulties. Only the Supreme Vegetative Monarch of Mangaboo
has the authority to transfer possession of the Colorless Gloves to another;
but by our sacred and inalterable laws, any person who would even
contemplate doing so cannot be recognized as Monarch. Thus if I were to wish
to give them to you, I couldn’t, and if I didn’t wish to give them to
you, I wouldn’t. It is an insoluble problem of pure logic, and the
laws of logic are even less amenable to change than the laws of Mangaboo."
This careful explanation left the old Nome King utterly
nonplussed, as he was unable to follow it. "If you refuse my demand, I shall
have fifty-thousand of my brave Nomes—no, fifty million—attacking
your Glass City from all directions, including above and below. They are
fierce fighters, and I warn you, there wouldn’t be much left when they
finally bid you good-day."
The Mangaboo guide, who had remained close by, now spoke
up. "If there were fifty millions of them present, they would get in each
others’ way and be unable to do anything."
"Then I would call in another fifty million to replace
them," declared Ruggedo.
"I see," said the man, whose name was Brome.
"In any event, what will be will be; for I can do
nothing," the Queen concluded.
There was a silence, during which Stot, who was becoming
bored and a bit cranky (for his nap was overdue), wandered off to one side
of the royal chamber and began trying to write on the wall with his
fingertip; while Bungle, who was not so much bored as merely uninterested,
sat herself at the other side and began preening her crystaline fur. The
Nome King was frowning fiercely and turning red as a volcano—the fiery kind,
not the icy kind.
Finally Junipee spoke up and said, "Oh my goodness, if
this isn’t the silliest thing! Your Majesty, ma’am, we’re not interested in
just some every-day gloves that you call ‘the Colorless Gloves’ for
some reason or other. We have to have real colorless gloves, which
may be some other gloves entirely."
"But these are the only colorless gloves I am
familiar with at all," Queen Ssyr retorted. She held forward her two arms
for Junipee to see. "They extend from the ends of my fingers to my elbow,
and as you can see, they cannot be seen."
"I’m just not sure," the girl said doubtfully, leaning
closer and rubbing her fingers on the Queen’s forearm. "Seems to me I should
be able to feel them, even if I can’t see them."
"Yes," Ssyr confirmed. "Can’t you?" When Junipee shook
her head, the Queen added, "Just try a bit harder." So Junipee ran the tips
of her fingers from the crook in each of Her Majesty’s arms all the way to
the ends, pressing down firmly. But finally she took a step back and
"Are you sure you haven’t lost them along the way
somewhere?" she asked.
"This is most unsettling," responded Queen Ssyr; "for the
fact is that I myself can no longer feel them pressing upon my forearms and
hands. But in all known time of Mangaboo, they have never been known to fall
off by themselves." She felt about on her lap and legs, and then stood up
and ran her hands over the throne; then she knelt down and explored the
floor around the throne, at some cost to her royal dignity. "Come help me,
Citizen Brome," she called out. As the search expanded to a larger and
larger area, more Mangaboo citizens were recruited to take part. Soon every
inch of the throne room had been felt-over many times by many hands, and the
four visitors from above were compelled to withdraw down the hallway.
When they were out of earshot, Ruggedo gave Junipee a sly
and knowing look that was not lacking in admiration.
"So where did you put them?" he asked her.
"The zippered pocket inside my jacket," she replied.
"For a meat-person, and a young one at that, you are
quite sharp," Ruggedo declared. "I would have suggested that course of
action to you, but the stonework of my lips does not easily accommodate
"Stealing is wrong," Junipee said, looking sternly at her
brother. "But perhaps this is only borrowing."
"It was the only solution to the logic problem posed by
that foolish Queen, and as the dilemma is artificial and nonsensical in the
first place, I wouldn’t waste a second worrying over how you solved
it," commented Bungle. "You cut the—the—well, you cut something, I’d say."
The Glass Cat couldn’t quite recall the story of the Gordian Knot, as it
hadn’t interested her when she had heard it spoken of. But she got the point
Dragons, Gurgles, and Invisible Bears
"My nose still throbs,"
complained Eureka. "Perhaps no one cares about it, but you all might
consider how it will affect our mission. It is hard to pick up a scent
through a throbbing nose."
"I’m sure we all care about your nose, Eureka,"
responded Dorothy from her place on the Pink Kitten’s back, directing her
words towards Ozma’s wand. "But really, there’s not much we can do about
The Pink Kitten was now travelling—cautiously—down a
rough-hewn tunnel in the rock. They were going deeper and deeper into the
earth, and the route would have been inky-black if Ozma had not provided
some magical illumination. Sometimes the cave was broad, sometimes very
narrow, and sometimes it dipped downward at a rather alarming angle.
Finally, after passing through a narrow opening that was
almost like a slit in the rocks, Eureka found herself in a long cavern
broken up by many boulders. "I just remembered this place," she said
quietly, and with a bit of dread. "Can’t anyone else smell them?"
"Who?" asked Ozma.
"Dragons!" hissed the cat. "There is a whole brood of
insolent little ones who call themselves Dragonettes, and a mother off
somewhere. They are not particular what they eat, as long as there is
a lot of it."
"I hope I never get to such a place in life," remarked
the Hungry Tiger. "Desperate as I may be to slake my famishment, there are
some items I simply will not abide."
"Come closer, please," called a voice. On all sides
eyes as big as pie-plates began to open, slightly luminous from some inner
source of light.
"Pardon me, but I believe I won’t," Eureka responded.
"Oh, it’s you again," another voice said. "Why did
you return? Lose your way?"
Losing some of her dread, the Pink Kitten sniffed the air
haughtily. "You’ve obviously mistaken me for someone else."
"Please!" said the Dragonette scornfully. "Do you suppose
we’d forget you so soon? It’s been barely a century, you know. But what has
become of the rest of your party, cat? Where is the horse, the buggy, and
the several humans that were with you just now?"
"Tossed ’er over, I’d say!" snickered another Dragonette,
which provoked a good deal of muttering and rustling.
"I don’t care to engage in this conversation, as it seems
your mother has yet to teach you manners," declared Eureka.
"You won’t tell on us, will you?" quavered one of the
reptilian children. "Mother doesn’t like for us to talk to strangers unless
we eat them."
"Well, that tears it!" came a disgusted voice.
"Now that you’ve warned her good, Vdoxo, she won’t come near, and we might
as well go back to sleep."
"Oh, who wants to eat cat anyway!" groaned another
Dragonette. One by one the voices faded out and the big eyes closed shut.
"It seems to me all these creatures are tied to boulders
by their tails, just as they were before," said the Wizard as he examined
the chamber with the magnifying glass. "You may proceed safely, Eureka—but
stay clear of the big boulders."
She stayed very clear of the boulders, proceeding
in a straight line down the middle of the chamber. She did not choose to
run, however, as she felt it beneath her dignity to show the Dragonettes
that they had aroused any anxiety in her.
Suddenly there came a scraping sound not far behind,
followed by the pattering of great hard claws against rock.
"Run, run!" exclaimed the Wizard. "One of them has got
There are few things on earth faster than a frightened
cat. Eureka shot toward an opening at the far end of the cave like an arrow
in flight; but even so the loose Dragonette was almost nipping at her heels.
Just beyond the opening was a wall of stone, where the tunnel turned sharply
to one side. Perhaps it was the ache in her nose that inspired the Pink
Kitten to land on this wall with all her paws ahead of her, allowing her to
bound off it sideways as if she were a rubber ball. But the pursuing
Dragonette was not cautious at all, and rammed himself right into the wall
with a loud impact.
"Oh!" cried Ozma, her kind heart touched by sympathy for
the poor creature. "Has he killed himself, Eureka?"
The Pink Kitten—already almost a block away—ground to a
stop. "You’re not suggesting that I go back to check, are you?" she panted.
"No," Ozma said firmly. "I am commanding it."
Eureka wisely refrained from saying what she thought of
this. She returned warily until she was but a few yards from the opening to
the den of the dragons. A Dragonette, big as a truck, was crumpled halfway
into the tunnel. He was boo-hooing and rubbing his forehead.
"I—I forgot about the wall!" he wept. "I hurt
"Your mother will punish you for having untied yourself,"
observed Eureka. "This will teach you to mind what you’re told." She spoke
boldly, as she could see that the creature could not work himself any
further into the rocky corridor.
"It’s all your fault," sulked the Dragonette.
"That’s the sign of a crybaby," commented the Pink
Kitten. "Instead of blaming others, just go back inside and lie quietly for
a few decades. I’m sure Mother will be home soon."
"Oh… oh—kay," the dragon said. As Eureka left, she
could hear him squirming his way back inside.
The cave-corridor was now narrower and twistier than
ever, though still proceeding downward in a general way. As there was
nothing new to see, the passengers upon Eureka commenced to doze one by one,
until only Tik-Tok—who never tired and needed no sleep—remained active. The
Pink Kitten was becoming thirsty, but fortunately she came across a trickle
of clear water crossing her path and was thus able to satisfy herself. But
there was no food to be had anywhere along the route, and she knew she would
soon need to eat.
Finally she came to a stop and awakened the others with a
sharp whisper. "I have come to somewhere," she hissed, "and I can’t say I
"No sense tellin’ us what you can’t say," remarked
Cap’n Bill, who had been sleeping soundly.
"We are at the edge of a pe-cu-li-ar kind of coun-try,"
announced Tik-Tok, who had been given the magnifying glass to use while the
"I’ll bet it’s all made of wood, isn’t it?" Dorothy said.
"It’s that horrid County of the Gurgles. I ’membered it was next in line."
"The word is ‘gargoyles’," the Wizard corrected her. "I
suppose you recall them too, don’t you, Eureka?"
"I do," whispered the cat in reply. "I remember that they
were ugly, and hostile, and no good for a sweet little thing like myself."
"Not all of us are sweet," the Shaggy Man pointed out;
"though we surely are little. Perhaps the roughest and homeliest of us might
open negotiations for safe passage, eh?"
The Wizard chuckled at this and said, "No, Shaggy, I’m
afraid it would do no good. I’m not sure what sort of brains these creatures
have, or even if they happen to be alive; and besides, they cannot seem to
tolerate noise of any sort, so don’t count on being able to talk to them."
"But then what are we to do?" asked Trot. "Can we go
Ozma held out her hand for the magnifying glass. After
looking through it for a time, she said, "The sky above this strange land is
topped-off by a cottony material that glows like a fire-fly."
"Sounds like you have a plan in mind, Yer Excellentness,"
Cap’n Bill observed.
"I do," replied the Princess of Oz. "Haven’t you noticed,
all of you, that the air around us has thickened as we’ve gone deeper under
"I noticed it," said the Cowardly Lion. "I would have
mentioned it long ago, but it made me nervous, so I preferred not to think
"You can feel it when you swish your hands around," Betsy
Ozma smiled confidently and said, "I believe I shall be
able to cause Eureka to float in it, using my wand. And if I can draw enough
of the sky-substance around her to cover her up, the inhabitants—the
Gargoyles—will not see her at all as she passes over their heads."
This episode, which might have been the most dangerous of
all their adventures, turned out to be quite the easiest. The cottony stuff
that made up the vault of the sky was easily gathered by the silver wand,
and in fact it was as sticky as cotton-candy, so it clung to Eureka’s fur
with no difficulty at all. Presently Ozma said, "Eureka, walk forward upon
the thick air, and the wand will keep you up."
"All right," the Pink Kitten responded. "Here I go!" She
had been standing where the cave had come to an end, a square room cut into
the rock that was entirely open on one side. Now she stepped forward into
the air and found herself rising like a puff of smoke. Below her was spread
out the great cavern-land of the Gargoyles (which is officially called the
Land of Naught). There were trees and houses, pathways and lawns, all made
of wood, wood-shavings, and sawdust. Passing through the air, though at a
lower level, were many score of the queer Gargoyle creatures. They had short
bodies shaped like rounded wooden gate-posts, with clawed bow-legs upon
which they could hop or shuffle along when flying was inconvenient. They
also had wings that looked a bit like wooden shutters, which were fastened
to their bodies by wooden hinges held by hard wooden pegs pounded into
The heads of the Gargoyles were ugly and grotesque, at
least by our standards—though to one another they were probably attractive.
No two were alike: some had long curved noses, some had beaks like parrots
or humming-birds, while others had broad toothy snouts like a crocodile.
Some even looked like a poor attempt at representing a human face. And there
were many that looked like nothing living at all, just a sort of ornamental
The entire population seemed preoccupied with some task
or other, and if any one of them ever looked upward, Eureka did not notice
it. Nor did they notice the Pink Kitten, whose frothy disguise caused her to
blend-in with the sky above her.
The whole scene was lit by a dim light, somewhat
silver-and-blue in color, and there was not a sound to be heard anywhere.
"This place is deader’n a graveyard, Bill," whispered
Trot. "D’you suppose this is where the bad people go when they pass on?"
"Wouldn’t think so," answered the old seaman. "Not big
enough by a long-shot."
Eureka’s sense of smell was not as impaired by her
throbbing little nose as she had feared, and she quickly detetcted a trace
in the air of the scent of Mangaboo-land. Following along as the scent
became stronger, she finally spied a dark hole in the side of an outcropping
of rock, a sort of pinnacle rising up to a point, that pierced the wooden
floor of the Land of Naught near where the high cavern roof curved down to
the ground. In a minute Ozma’s silver wand had carried Eureka through the
opening and landed her on a cold flooring made up of smooth blocks of carved
stone fitted neatly together.
"Guess we’ve made port," Cap’n Bill remarked.
"I hope you’ll give me a few minutes to scrape this
sticky stuff off me and clean my fur," said Eureka. "I must be allowed an
ounce of dignity, or I’m no good for anything."
"Go ahead," Ozma said through the wand. Then she turned
to the Wizard and asked what he could see through the glass, and what they
were to expect.
He answered, "The kitten has come to rest upon a narrow
stone landing, which is really just the widened top step of a flight of
stairs that circles downward around and around, in the form of a spiral. It
was very hard, climbing up those stairs the first time. But this time we
don’t have a horse-and-buggy to contend with; and besides, it is easier to
go down than up."
"It’s the inside of Pyramid Mountain, Ozma," added
Dorothy, "and at the bottom of the stairs is a pretty country called the
Valley of Voe. But there’s invisible bears, you know, and Eureka will have
to be careful not to eat what they call the dama-fruit, or she’ll go
"But it might not be such a bad thing to be invisible,"
observed the Cowardly Lion.
"I don’t think I’d care for it," Betsy Bobbin said. "I
wouldn’t want to look in a mirror and not see anything at all. How could a
girl straighten her hair?"
"Oh, Betsy!" Trot laughed. "If you can’t be seen at all,
what difference would your hair make, anyways?"
"It’s just th’ principle of the thing," sniffed Betsy.
Now it isn’t as easy for a cat or other small animal to
handle stairs as it is for a human, as the stairs are usually too large. But
the thickened air made the Pink Kitten bouyant, like a bubble in water, so
she was able to almost glide down, just barely touching the stone steps with
the tips of her paws. In this way the cat and her crew made good time. There
were landings at intervals, and at one such landing there was a window
through which they could see fleecy clouds spread off into the far distance
like a blanket.
"Seems the wooden Gargoyle country rests upon clouds,"
the Shaggy Man commented. "Peculiar; but no more so than the country itself,
"I don’t believe we are seeing the underside of Naught at
all," said Princess Ozma in response. "The Country of the Gargoyles must be
in a great cavern on a higher level than this one."
Dorothy was just then holding the Wizard’s magnifying
glass. "I know ’zackly where we are. We’re going down inside of Pyramid
Mountain, and those are the clouds over Voe."
The journey now recommenced, and there was again nothing
to see for a little while. Presently, however, the stair-well opened upon
the floor of a broad open space, as if someone had taken a bite out of the
side of Pyramid Mountain. It was like a half-cavern, completely open on one
side; and through that huge opening the Pink Kitten could see another great
hollow in the underworld. It was not Voe, which lay on the opposite side of
the four-sided mountain, but a world of storm and tumult, with a black sea
dashing and crashing far below them.
"I believe I remember this," declared the Wizard
hesitantly. "Something occurred here, didn’t it, Dorothy?"
"Why, this is where the Braided Man lived," replied the
spirited little Kansan.
"Oh, the lunatic!" Eureka said dismissively.
Ozma couldn’t help laughing at the cat’s bluntness.
"Someday we will teach you to be kind, Eureka. But as for the Braided
Man, I used the Magic Belt to transport the poor thing back to his original
home many years ago, where I’m sure he has forgotten all about Oz and its
The Pink Kitten crossed the floor of the half-cavern
quickly, for the gusts of wind that tossed the underground sea were very
unpleasant. As she neared an arched doorway in the far wall, where the
stairway continued downward, Tik-Tok said:
"I am keep-ing watch through the glass, and I see a
cot-tage next to the door."
To call it a cottage was really a great kindness. It was
simply a crude lean-to made of dead branches, balanced against the wall.
The Wizard took a look and pronounced, "I believe it is a
cover to the small dug-out in which the Braided Man lived and worked. Of
course, no-one lives there now."
Eureka paused, and her curiosity caused her to draw
nearer. Abruptly she threw herself backwards in a fright, for a figure had
appeared at the open end of the structure—the horrid figure of a Gargoyle.
"Oh no!" cried Trot, who was then holding the magnifying
glass. "He’s the worst yet!"
Indeed, this Gargoyle was an unlovely specimen. His round
post-like body was all warped and scratched up, its wood—evidently of an
inferior grade—having many knots and imperfections in it. He was not wearing
his wings at the moment, and his head was just a notched-up block of wood,
with the merest suggestion of ears, eyes, nose, and mouth.
"Screech at him, Eureka," urged Dorothy into the wand
after taking a look at the creature. "They can’t stand sound, and it makes
’em turn tail."
Eureka fixed her four legs firmly on the ground and let
loose her loudest yeowl. The Gargoyle took a step back, and then said
"You are badly in need of tuning, whatever you are."
"Aren’t you frightened?" asked the cat.
"Should I be?"
"I was told you Garglers were allergic to noise. Matter
of fact, I didn’t know you could speak at all."
"We learn at an early age to be silent, for our parents
believe in stern discipline," responded the wooden creature. "The air of our
native land, which is called Naught, is very thick; consequently it conveys
sound as easily as a stream conveys water. And alas, nature has given us
"But not yours?"
"Over the years I have become used to noise, such as the
roaring of the sea and the howling of the wind."
Eureka’s face assumed a distracted expression. Then she
continued: "I am supposed to ask you what your name is, and whether there is
anything we can do for you."
The creature stood silently for a time. He may have been
looking at Eureka, although it was hard to tell, as his carved eyes were
very indistinct. "I don’t know what a ‘name’ is," he said at last.
The Pink Kitten explained, "It is what you call
"Then my name is ‘me.’ As to doing something for me, do
you happen to have a means of making me uglier?"
Taken aback by this queer suggestion, Eureka wondered for
a moment if the Gargoyle were pulling her leg. "Pardon my saying the
obvious, but I don’t see how anything could make you any uglier."
"No, I suppose not," said he. "I must content myself with
this lonely life of mine. As you might have guessed, I am one of those
beings who is born by accident to be so much more beautiful than those
around me that all who see me become discontented and wish to destroy
themselves. For that reason I was exiled to this spot. But if I could manage
to reduce the degree of my handsomeness, I would be allowed to return. Over
the years I’ve tried to uglify myself. I’ve even tried battering myself
against the rocks: but as you see, every imperfection only works to set off
the perfections around it, producing an ever more pleasing effect."
The Pink Kitten did not comment on this, but said,
"We—that is, I—am on a trip to Mangaboo by way of Voe. I suppose I
ought to be getting along."
"I know nothing of this ‘Mangaboo’," responded the
Gargoyle. "I have heard of Voe. But why do you wish to go there? It is a
place of horror, made all of soft colored things—mostly green, if you can
believe it. They say the creatures who live there are too ugly to bear
looking at, but by good fortune they have mostly become invisible.
Admittedly, you are of a rather disgusting form yourself. Of what sort of
wood are you constructed?"
"I am made of flesh and lovely soft fur, formerly white,
now pink," replied Eureka with haughty indignation. "I keep myself clean and
spotless, which is obviously a lesson lost on you."
"If I could manage to look just a bit more like you, my
brother Gargoyles would allow me back in, I’m certain," the wooden creature
said wistfully. "Perhaps, if I keep splintering myself on the rocks, the day
will yet come."
At Ozma’s behest the Pink Kitten bid the lonesome
Gargoyle a firm, and not very fond, farewell, and resumed her descent of the
"That spot must be an asylum," she muttered in plain
disgust. Her passengers, who had been able to hear most of the conversation,
were doing all they could to stifle their laughter.
"Can’t say the kitty didn’t deserve t’be taken down a peg
or two," chuckled Cap’n Bill.
"If she is wise, she has learned that beauty is just a
relative thing," Ozma said.
Observed Tik-Tok, "In my o-pin-ion, she is not that
It was not long at all before Eureka had at last
descended all the circling stairs within Pyramid Mountain, and stood looking
across the lovely Valley of Voe, a green vista almost as pretty as the nice
country that surrounds the Emerald City.
"I am glad to revisit this place," the Wizard said. "We
had our problems here, of course, but the view was worth it."
"What sort of problems?" asked the Cowardly Lion
"Oh, those invis’ble bears, mostly," answered Dorothy on
the Wizard’s behalf. "They’re pretty fierce, but they don’t like water."
"No doubt these bears would find us not worth the dime,
as they say," the Shaggy Man remarked. "We’re no bigger than gnats, and I’ve
never seen a bear go chasing after a gnat."
"But they’d go after my poor Eureka," Dorothy protested.
"Aye, and I s’pose we need her to carry us the rest of
the way. She’s not much good to us eaten." This was Cap’n Bill’s comment.
Betsy Bobbin approached Ozma and said, "Well here’s some
advice from one of your royal advisers, Ozmy dear. Use the wand to float
Eureka through the sky till we get to the road down to Mangy; that way the
bears can’t get ’er."
The Princess thought this suggestion a good one, but she
had no sooner explained this to Eureka than the Pink Kitten staged a
rebellion. "I’m sorry, forgive me and all that," she said, "but I don’t
think I can do anything unless I have something to eat. At this point, even
dream-food would probably keep me going—but nothing can make me eat clouds,
so you’ll have to let me prowl about on the ground for a little while
"I should have realized," Ozma said. "Go ahead then. But
be as quick as you can about it, for these invisible bears sound like a
The Hungry Tiger yawned—it seemed he had been doing
little else but yawning for quite a while—and added: "Invisible bears may be
reasoned with, or frightened off by a roar; but hunger won’t listen
Around and About The Glass City
The search for the
missing Colorless Gloves had become a vast enterprise, though not a frantic
one: for the Mangaboos were vegetables, like potatoes or cabbages, and you
have never seen a potato or a cabbage become excited about anything—not even
being boiled. But Queen Ssyr brought more and more of her subjects into her
modest palace to feel of the floor, walls, and ceiling, and finally there
were so many Mangaboos present that the surface-worlders were forced out
into the great square.
"Just as well," pronounced Ruggedo. "We don’t need any
further contact with the Mangaboos, for now we have what we came for."
"What did we come for, Ruggy?" asked Stot.
"The Colorless Gloves, of course."
"Oh, I ’member now. Can I look at them?"
The former Nome King gave Stot a superior smile. "Why, I
suppose you can look at them. But you won’t see anything, as
they have no color and offer nothing to the eye."
"Oh," Stot said. "Okay."
"I’m getting hungry, and I think Stot is too," declared
Junipee. "There’s nothing left of what the Sandamanders gave us, but if we
look around we ought to be able to find a vegetable stand."
"No," snapped the Nome King with childish willfulness.
"I’m tired of being led about by your need to eat. Give me the Colorless
Gloves, and let us get on with it." His voice sounded as if it were stamping
Junipee smiled at him, her eyes full of mischief. "All
right. I’ll give you the gloves if you answer one question, King Ruggedo."
"What is it?"
"It’s simple. Just tell me what a zipper is."
"A what? A zipper?" The Nome frowned deeply.
"There is no such thing—you made up that word!"
"But of course there is," the Glass Cat put in (for she
enjoyed annoying the stuffy old former King of the Nomes). "It’s much
discussed in the Emerald City. Is it possible news of the zipper has yet to
reach the Gillikin hinterlands?"
In an angry snarl, Ruggedo showed the rows of pointed
milk-white crystals that were his teeth. "You are all making fun of me, I
gather. Beware my anger!"
Retorted Bungle, "What’re you going to do, drop yourself
"Since you couldn’t answer my question, you don’t get the
gloves just yet," said Junipee smugly. "They are in my secret pocket which
is closed-up with a zipper; and now I know that you wouldn’t know how to
work it even if you could find it."
Ruggedo’s mood changed abruptly. "You know," said he with
a suave note to his rocky voice, "in your way you are really quite a
charmer. What would you think of being Princess of my Nome Dominions, and
thus my Royal Heiress-Apparent? I could easily transform you into a Nome
once I have my Magic Belt around me. Then you would enjoy the life
Junipee only smiled blandly at this repulsive idea. "I
think Stot and I—and Eureka, if she wants—need some time away from you."
"Very well," grumped the Nome. "I suppose I ought to eat
as well. I shall spend my precious time over there." He pointed across the
square to a little park criss-crossed with pathways of ground-glass and
gravel. All the trees were actually the giant stalks and fronds of leafy
vegetables, like celery and radishes.
"I didn’t think you ate veg’tables, Mr. King," Stot
"I don’t, of course. I’ll nibble on a few of those rocky
paths, as they look a bit tempting." The former Nome King wagged a finger in
Junipee’s direction. "But don’t make me wait long, little one, and don’t try
to escape me. If I find you missing, I’ll have my revenge, and you won’t
"That must be some sort of quaint Nome expression—‘find
you missing’ indeed!" remarked Bungle. "It’s one or the other, you
The children and the masquerading Glass Cat left Ruggedo
behind and crossed the square in the opposite direction, turning onto a
boulevard they had not seen before. This seemed as though it were the
shopkeepers’ section of the Glass City. At least the buildings did not
appear to be residences, though you couldn’t judge one way or the other by
their having glass windows in front, as the whole city was nothing but
one big glass window. There were no signs with words on them (it seemed the
Mangaboos had no written language at all), but there were placards and
billboards here and there with drawings of things for sale.
"Look at that sign!" cried Stot. "It shows people
eating!" The children went inside, followed by the Glass Cat, who of course
was barely noticeable. They were rewarded by the sight of tables and chairs,
and a long glass counter, behind which stood a heavy (but still handsome)
Mangaboo man wearing a sort of apron.
"Is this a restaurant?" Junipee asked the man.
"It is a café," he replied.
"That’s about the same," said Junipee. "We need to eat,
but to tell you the truth, we don’t have any money."
"You would be wise to pick some, then," the man advised
her. "There are money bushes all over the commercial district. But rather
than put you to the inconvenience, I will give you some of mine, as I have a
bit too much to fit in the till." He handed Junipee a number of rectangular
bills, which seemed to be white in color (though the shifting colors of the
suns made it difficult to judge). There were markings on the bills that
looked, from a distance, like writing; but when Junipee examined them
carefully, they were just streaks and splotches, as might be found on
"Aw, it’s just imitation money," Stot said in
Junipee asked, "How much money is this?"
"Three ounces," answered the man. "Or, if you prefer,
perhaps ten square feet laid out on the floor."
"Will this buy the two of us a good lunch?"
"That is the only kind I serve," he responded. "Now sit
anywhere you like, and I will bring it to you."
The children took a corner table and waited for a time,
watching the café slowly fill with patrons, who took seats without asking in
groups of two or three, speaking softly amongst themselves.
"I can’t wait," whispered Junipee. "I’m really hungry,
and my stomach is growling."
"You may be growling higher-up in a minute, for I suspect
you are due for an unpleasant surprise," commented the Glass Cat. "And I
pride myself on being rarely wrong when it comes to unpleasant surprises."
The man behind the counter seemed also to be the café’s
only cook and waiter. He moved among the other tables with a little cart
from which he dispensed various plates, bowls, and cups.
Stot said, "Junee, we were here first, so howcome we
don’t get our food first?"
"Probably the same reason the lowliest person gets the
best place to live," his sister replied. "It’s the way they do things."
Finally the counter-man came to their table and placed in
front of each of them a large plate, a soup bowl, an ornately decorated
drinking cup, and a set of oddly shaped implements.
"Enjoy," said the man.
"Enjoy what?" asked Stot. "There’s no food!"
"What do you mean, young sir?" was the man’s response.
"Are the portions not large enough?"
Junipee touched the plate and the bowl, making sure they
were not full of colorless food that could not be seen. But there was truly
nothing there at all. "Mister," she said, "there’s nothing here but air."
"But what else is food but air served for eating
purposes, while seated at a table?" The Mangaboo seemed quite baffled. "You
will find my air quite moist and healthful. Ah!—but perhaps you are on a
"Our diet requires that we eat real food," replied
Junipee. "You know, meat and potatoes or spaghetti or noodle soup or even—if
we have to—brussels-sprouts."
Stot raised his hand. "And a can of soda, please."
The counter-man rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "I am
unfamiliar with some of those air-dishes, and the others are vegetables,
which no one can eat."
The false Eureka jumped up from the floor onto one of the
chairs, and from there onto the table-top. "You see, children, we are in a
Vegetable Kingdom," she purred, satisfied that her prediction had come true.
"My pink brains told me from the start that these creatures would not eat as
you meat-people do. Look around you at the other diners." Junipee and Stot
did look around, and Stot began to giggle. Though the other Mangaboos were
going through the motions of eating, even making use of their utensils,
nothing solid or liquid was visible, and the diners never opened their
"I guess they’re breathing your air through their noses,"
"Why should they do that?" the cook inquired. "Air is
taken-in through the skin."
"And it’s everywhere, anyway," declared the girl. "Why
come here to your café?"
The man smiled. "For the atmosphere."
Further questioning of the man, whose name was Corje,
gave the surface-worlders a fuller picture of life in Mangaboo. It developed
that all the Mangaboo people were born with a sort of general, instinctive
knowledge of everything they were to do at every moment of their lives to
come, which usually lasted about five years. They went through the motions
of eating and sleeping, talking, working, having a family, and taking in
amusement, without a single thought as to the purpose of these activities,
nor the slightest curiosity concerning them. Their lives and health were
sustained by the thick moist air of their underground land, plus various
nutritional lotions that they sometimes spread upon their skin which acted
like fertilizer. The radiance of the colored suns also played its role; the
Mangaboos would not be able to survive long in anything other than
"My fine pink brains—which you can see working—cannot
imagine what it would be like to live without curiosity," remarked Bungle.
"I cannot say I pity you vegetable folk, as glass is hard and can’t be moved
by pity. But your situation is unusual."
"It is not unusual to us," was Corje’s calm rejoinder.
"Am I to understand that you force bits of other living things into an
opening in your bodies, and then down an interior tube into a
The Glass Cat pointed with the end of her tail toward
Junipee and Stot. "I don’t, but they do."
"If you don’t have meat or vegetables here, how about
some fruit?" implored Junipee, who was now dreadfully hungry and a little
afraid she might end up starving to death.
"Well, I do have some bits of fruits," admitted Corje.
"They release a moist essence into my air which makes it the talk of the
town." He went and fetched them a plateful of bits of fruit, which
fortunately were fresh. It was quite a mixture—mangoes, apples, pears,
bananas, grapes, and many other kinds, including some the children did not
recognize. But they were delicious and the meal was filling. Corje had never
heard of ‘soft drinks,’ but he brought them fresh water from his air
moisturizing apparatus, and that was satisfactory.
Junipee, Stot, and the Glass Cat had just left the café
and reentered the street when a group of large-jawed men in shiny uniforms
approached them. They carried in their hands stiff branches sporting long
sharp thorns, which they brandished in front of them.
One of the men stepped forward and said loudly,
"Outsiders, you are to come with us, immediately and without delay. I am
Fegrole, High-Knob of the Branchmen, and you must do what I say without
"I wouldn’t dream of asking a question at this juncture,"
Bungle declared. "I will merely announce that I won’t go anywhere unless you
can prove that you are who you say you are."
This puzzled High-Knob Fegrole and the others of his
troop. "I do not know how to prove who I am," he said. "But I say I am who I
am, and if I say something, it is true—how could it be otherwise?"
"Don’t you ever fib?" Stot asked in surprise.
"It seems not, as I do not know what that word means,"
"Well, I don’t know what it means to give-in to
foolish authority," said Bungle; and before the branchmen could even lower
their thorn-branches—which would hardly have been effective against a
creature of glass anyway—the cat had run away out of sight.
The Magic of Murch
article—made a gingerly climb down the slope in which the portal to the
great stairwell was set, which was really just the broad base of Pyramid
Mountain. At the bottom of this slope lay the Valley of Voe, with all its
"We won’t require the magnifying glass any further,"
announced the Wizard, placing that useful item back in his coat pocket. "It
seems the thicker air down here has some effect upon light and sound, for we
can see and hear almost as clearly as if we were our normal sizes again."
"Yes, and I don’t like it," said Trot. "It just reminds
me of how much I’d like to be big again."
"We’re farther than ever from that," Betsy Bobbin
observed. "Even if we rescue the Glass Cat, what shall we do then? How will
we get all the way back to the Emerald City?"
"You must place your trust in our fine Princess Ozma,"
chided the Shaggy Man gently. "I don’t think she’s ever done us wrong. Not
that there isn’t a first time for everything—for if a thing didn’t have a
first time, it wouldn’t have any time at all—but sometimes it’s best to just
eat your apples and let the tree take care of itself."
"For-give me for point-ing out that you are wor-ried
with-out rea-son." The speaker was, of course, Tik-Tok. "No-thing bad has
hap-pened to you for all the ma-ny mo-ments be-fore this one; and as this
pre-sent mo-ment is too short to be coun-ted, the odds are ve-ry much
a-gainst it be-ing a-ny dif-fer-ent." The wind-up man had a philosophy that
was similar to little Stot’s in many respects.
"If it will reassure you and lift your spirits, please
remember that Glinda the Good has her Great Book of Records, which she
checks frequently to keep track of all the things of interest that are
happening in the world," Ozma reminded them. "When she reads of our dilemma
it will be no trouble for her to return us to Oz, and to our proper sizes."
"That’s assumin’ that nice big cyclopedia of hers
considers us an interesting thing," retorted Cap’n Bill. "I can’t speak for
ever’one, but I never did take much interest in the comings and goings of
itty-bits the size of grains of salt an’ pepper."
"Cap’n Bill, you can be such a pess’mist sometimes," Trot
admonished him. "I wish you’d take to saying something hopeful."
"Well then, I do hope we’ll soon get that glassy
kitten, and back to our nat’rul selves."
Eureka herself was now engaged in grazing. Grazing is
more for cattle and sheep, of course, but the Pink Kitten was now too hungry
to be particular about her reputation; and besides she knew Ozma would not
allow her to chase down mice or other small delicious animals. So she
nibbled whatever she came across that smelled good to her. These were mostly
roots and fruits and berries, but she did condescend to sample the grass of
Voe, and found it to have a pleasant tuna-like flavor. There was also a
river flowing nearby, and she drank of its cool pure water.
Her fellow-travellers were in mid-discussion when they
all gasped as one. "Oh! What’s happened?" exclaimed Princess Dorothy.
"Someone has stolen the Pink Kitten right out from under
us!" growled the great Lion—and it was the sort of growl that expressed his
own dread. "My knees may shake, but give me the word, Your Majesty, and I
will put what is left of the courage the Wizard gave me to good use tracking
the culprit down."
"It seems that courage was not the only quality
the Wizard ought to have supplied you, C.L.," remarked the Hungry Tiger
drily, careful to have put some distance between himself and his friend.
"You might take notice that we are still suspended several inches off the
ground, and in fact can still feel Eureka’s hide beneath our paws."
Eureka herself now spoke, her thundrous voice chagrined.
"It seems I’ve gone invisible. I can’t see my paw in front of my face."
"Eureka! You didn’t eat one of those dama-fruits,
did you?" admonished Dorothy.
"I suppose it’s obvious that I did," replied the Pink
Kitten. "There must have been some baby ones in amongst the berries."
Ozma said, "Perhaps it’s for the best after all. Now
Eureka cannot be seen by either bird or beast, and she will be safer."
Just then a new voice was heard by all of them, a voice
that was young and girlish, if somewhat gruff. "Mommy!" cried the
voice. "There’s little tiny people over here—human people!"
"Now Poncha, what have I told you?" was the impatient
rejoinder from some further distance away in the forest. "Be a good little
cubette and let’s not play your games now. Mother is busy."
"But I can see ’em!" protested the unseen bear
cub. "I can smell ’em too, Mommy—something smells pink."
"Haw haw!" came the overlapping voices of two little
boy-bears. "Poncha’s being silly! Can we cuff her, Ma?"
"You two be good and leave your sister alone. Now Poncha,
let’s say our colors. ‘Pink is for—’."
Poncha sighed in invisible resignation. "Pink is for
"Hee hee!" chortled the boys. "Puma!—it’s
The Ozites never heard the end of this argument, for Ozma
had taken out her silver wand and wafted the Pink Kitten skyward, far out of
reach of the family of Invisible Bears. "Not a moment too soon," muttered
Eureka. "I’m sure the father would have come by to settle things before I
could have run away, and he would have been in a grumpy mood."
"Wouldn’t blame him for that," remarked Cap’n Bill. "I
never could stand young ones bellerin’ back and forth."
Said Trot, "Least-ways it’s behind us now."
"No," corrected the Shaggy Man; "it’s below us."
The Wizard and Dorothy remembered in general where lay
the cave by which they had entered the Valley of Voe so many years before,
and were able to instruct Ozma on where to direct the swooping flight of the
cat. Before too long Eureka declared that she had detected a clear scent of
Mangaboo country up ahead, and in a minute or so she could see the dark
mouth of the cave whence the scent emanated. "There is our goal," the Wizard
said. "It should take us the last bit downward to the Vegetable Kingdom;
unless it has been blocked or filled-in over the last hundred years."
"I can-not feel hope, nor can I cross my fin-gers, but it
would be a good thing to reach where we are go-ing," added Tik-Tok. "My
Think-ing Ac-tion tells me so."
Ozma sailed the bouyant Pink Kitten right into the dark
mouth of the cave, and as soon as Eureka was no longer subject to the
peculiar luminence of the Valley of Voe her invisibility fell away and she
could be seen once more.
"Do you need to rest now, dear?" Ozma called out, no
longer needing the silver wand to communicate.
"Whether or not I need to, I don’t wish to," answered
Eureka brusquely. "This place reminds me of a bear cave, and I’d just as
soon we get all the way through it and out into that queer colored-sun land.
I’d much rather fight vegetables than invisible beasts."
So it was that Eureka trotted downward through the
slanting cave, seeing her way by the magic light Ozma created for her.
"When we came through before we had to use oil lanterns,
as I recall," chuckled the little Wizard of Oz. "This way seems much better,
doesn’t it, Dorothy?"
"Surely does," replied the Princess. "Guess that’s
progress for you."
They travelled down at a fast pace, and presently the
Wizard called for a stop and asked Ozma to extinguish the glow from her
wand. When this had been done, the Wizard closed his eyes tightly for a
minute, then opened them again and looked about.
"Do you see something in the darkness, Wiz?" asked Betsy.
"I do," said he. "Light!" Indeed, the others were soon
able to detect this faint, mysterious light as well—first Tik-Tok, with his
well-crafted mechanical eyes, then the two sharp-eyed beasts, and then at
last the rest of them.
"It’s a funny kind o’ light," Cap’n Bill commented.
"Reminds me o’ what they call th’ Northern Lights. Where’s it coming from?"
"You will notice that it comes at us from all sides; even
from beneath us," the Wizard pointed out. "It is as I suspected. We have
finally crossed over into the great hollow that encloses the land of
Mangaboo, and this part of the mountain we are passing through—which is
really just a solid part of the earth itself—is composed of glass."
"Why, we must be seeing light from the Six Colored Suns,
then," Dorothy observed with delight. "But I don’t remember them being so
dim as all this."
"The problem is not with the colored suns, my dear. It’s
just that the mountain is thick and we are seeing them through many, many
layers of unpolished glass."
"Rather a nice effect," the Hungry Tiger said. "But I do
have a question at this juncture."
"What?" asked the Wizard.
"How is it that we have passed into, through, and
entirely out of the lovely Valley of Voe—and I have not yet had a thing
No one had a satisfactory answer to the tiger’s sarcastic
inquiry; so presently Ozma told Eureka to continue her journey.
But there was every indication that the trip was coming
to an end. The light that filtered through to the cave, though still very
faint, was nonetheless brightening, and after a time it was clear that the
light was no longer falling upon them from all directions but only from
above. Just then Eureka stopped and said, "Well, this is the end of the
line, far as I go."
"Why is that?" inquired the Shaggy Man. "We’re not out in
the open yet—if being in a big cavern counts as being ‘in the open’."
"No, but I have no desire to stub my poor nose again,"
was the Pink Kitten’s reply. "The cave comes to an end just a ways in front
of me, in a large rounded chamber made of glass rocks; and if you wish to go
any further you’ll have to tell me how to do it."
"That’s right," said Dorothy in disappointment. "How
could we have forgotten? The Mangaboos sealed up their end of the cave, to
The Wizard smiled a smile that creased his face from side
to side. "I hadn’t forgotten at all, Dorothy. After a hundred years it was
not unlikely that the barrier of rock had been cleared away. But as it
hasn’t been, no doubt Her Majesty here can use her wand to fix the deal, as
she did with the revolving rock."
"I am studying the matter," said Princess Ozma. "But
before there was only one small rock to be destroyed. Here it seems there is
no ready-made opening for the kitten to pass through, nor do I even detect a
tiny crack for the rest of us."
"Couldn’t you just turn loose our strengths and blast our
way through to the other side?" suggested Tiny Trot.
"I’m sorry, dear, but it wouldn’t work. I can tell that
even the combined force of all of us is too weak. Those rocks of glass have
not merely been piled-up, but have somehow been caused to seal themselves
onto one another."
Cap’n Bill now raised up his hand, which had his pipe in
it. "We ought t’pay a little more attention to what’s a-goin’ on around us,
port ’n starb’d, fore ’n aft. Look up here at my pipe-smoke." The smoke made
a thin and hazy plume, like a trail in the air, heading back up the cave in
the direction of Voe. "An’ what does that tell us?"
"It in-di-cates the flow of a cur-rent of air,"
"I suppose we might’ve guessed that all along,"
contributed the Shaggy Man with a shaggy little laugh. "After all, if the
smell of Mangaboo was reaching the Pink Kitten all the way up to the top
of the ground, the air of Mangaboo must be getting through somehow."
They all smiled and nodded at one another (with the
exception of the mechanical man, who was always smiling and whose metal neck
was too stiff for proper nodding). Princess Ozma withdrew from within her
gown a small golden compact studded with tiny emeralds.
"You don’t really need to fix up your make-up right now,
Highness, pardon me for sayin’," said Cap’n Bill. But Ozma paid him no
attention and opened the lid on the little compact, pursing her lips and
blowing gently into it. A wisp of green puffed into the air and quickly grew
into a small cloud, which rushed in a direction opposite that of the old
"This expanding magic powder travels against the breeze
rather than along with it," Ozma explained. "It will show us where the
air-current is coming from."
The powder streamed toward the jagged pile that formed
the wall blocking their way, and seemed to disappear into it halfway up to
the ceiling of the cave. "There!" Ozma pronounced. "The rocks in that
section don’t quite fit together, and a good amount of air is constantly
Said the Shaggy Man, "Speaking mechanically and
scientifically, that must mean that the air in Mangaboo is even thicker than
the air in here, giving it a greater pressure."
"It must be so," commented Eureka; "for I recall that I
was able to slink about in the air of the Vegetables without any kind of
magical aid whatever."
"We all could," noted Dorothy. "Even Jim the horse."
"But we are still faced with a good-sized problem,"
declared the Wizard. "I don’t think a dime could squeeze through those
little cracks, much less a Pink Kitten. Of course the rest of us are smaller
than a dime, so it won’t be a difficulty for us."
"They say a dime doesn’t go as far as it used to, these
days," was the Shaggy Man’s comment on the matter. "It seems they are
Tik-Tok now stepped forward and said to Ozma, "I pro-pose
that I be com-mand-ed to un-der-take a mis-sion of re-con-nai-sance, Your
Ma-jes-ty. Then per-haps we will have a bet-ter i-dea of what to do."
"Are you presently well-wound, Tik-Tok?" asked the
Rightful Ruler of Oz.
"I am as wound as I have ev-er been."
"Then I so-command it." Ozma magically elevated the Pink
Kitten until her back was just opposite one of the tiny openings, and then
conveyed the machine-man into it in similar fashion. The crack entered upon
a cave that was very uneven and very long—or so it appeared to Tik-Tok due
to his small stature. There was also a powerful and constant wind pressing
against him; yet his mechanical muscles were equal to the task and he
clomped along without pause, turning this way and that. The light, which was
mostly purple at the moment, grew ever more intense, and when it was almost
as bright as real daylight upon the surface of the outer world Tik-Tok came
to the end of the crack and found himself looking out upon the Vegetable
Kingdom of Mangaboo.
Next to the pile of glass there was a road that curved
gracefully downward, bridged a stream, and headed off toward the Glass City
that glistened in the colored sunlight. But closer than any of those things
was a Mangaboo man. His garment sparkled with small silver stars and other
decorative symbols, which made it a good deal more imposing than the man
himself; for this was one Mangaboo who was not especially handsome to look
upon. He had a shrivelled appearance, with long thorns and eyes—of the
potato sort—growing all over him.
As the man was leaning on the glass hillside very close
to where Tik-Tok had emerged, the mechanical man ventured to try
communication. "Hel-lo, ve-ge-ta-tive sir," boomed Tik-Tok in his loudest
The sounds were well carried by the air of Mangaboo,
which was almost as thick as molasses. The man stirred and looked about, as
if not quite certain what he had heard.
"I am here!" Tik-Tok cried, waving his arms. After a good
many tries the man took to examining closely the rocks near to him, and
finally he discerned the tiny metallic figure.
"Be warned," said the man; "if you are a potato bug or
anything of the kind, it is my duty to destroy you in the cause of the civic
"I am no kind of bug at all, but a me-chan-i-cal de-vice
in the shape of a man," replied Ozma’s clockwork subject. "I am Tik-Tok."
The Mangaboo studied Tik-Tok, pressing upon the sides of
his eyes—the ones he used for seeing—as if to adjust them like a microscope.
"I am the Sorcerer of this country of Mangaboo, and my name is Murch. If you
were a citizen of Mangaboo I would be required to do your bidding, as I am a
public servant; but it seems that you are not."
"No. I am a ci-ti-zen of the Land of Oz."
"Is this ‘Oz’ somewhere beyond the Valley of Voe?"
"It is ve-ry far be-yond."
"Then I have no interest in it," Murch said. "The
interest of a citizen extends no further than the place adjacent to his
country. We are vegetables here, and we must keep the part of our bodies
that we use for thinking clear of irrelevancies and trivia, or they will
become full-up and useless."
"I un-der-stand," Tik-Tok responded. "But are you
will-ing and a-ble to do ser-vi-ces for per-sons who are not ci-ti-zens?"
Murch thought a moment. Then he asked, "Is it proper to
"It is ve-ry pro-per and a mo-ral du-ty."
"I do not know what a ‘moral duty’ is, but if it is
proper for me to assist you, I will. What do you wish?"
Replied the clockwork man, "If you would clear a-way this
glass rock all the way to the cham-ber in-side, I would be much o-bliged."
"Your being obliged does not matter to me, but as you say
it is proper for me to do it, it is what I will do." The Sorcerer of
Mangaboo rubbed his palms together several times, which broke off some of
the thorns on them, and commenced to make complicated passes as he stared
fixedly at the side of the hill. There was a loud creaking sound, as a
door-hinge makes when it needs oil, and all of a sudden the glass rocks fell
back and seemed to dissolve into thin air—or rather, into thick air.
"I thank you," said Tik-Tok, who had walked through the
air to the Sorcerer’s ear and no longer needed to shout. "And now there is a
fur-ther ser-vice I shall ask you to per-form; a pro-per one in-deed."
The Colorless Gloves at Work
Fegrole and his troop
of civic policemen watched the Glass Cat until she could no longer be seen.
Then they turned again to Junipee and Stot.
"What caused the glass creature to do that?" the
High-Knob asked Junipee.
"She wanted to get away, of course," the girl replied.
"Way away!" added Stot.
"For what reason?"
"Oh, it’s just the way cats are. She wanted to be free.
Cats may lie around in one place all day long, but if you try to coop them
up, they claw and hiss and run away."
The men looked at one another in puzzlement, and Fegrole
said: "But did she not hear that she was to come along with us?"
"Mister, you can’t jus’ tell people what to do,"
"Because what if they don’t want to?"
One of the branchmen said, "Wanting is just doing what is
proper to be done. Does the glass creature not know this?"
Junipee sighed. "Let’s not talk any more about Eureka.
Where do you men want us to go?"
Fegrole and his men raised their thorn branches again, as
it was part of their official routine. "You are to come with us to the Bin
of Confinement, where you will be kept fresh," said the leader.
"You mean we’re ’rested? Goshowee!" cried Stot
Junipee folded her arms as if to resist. "Aren’t you
going to tell us why?"
"We don’t have to. It is not our job." Fegrole motioned
with his branch. "Now, if you please—this way." Junipee and Stot were
marched along one street after another until they reached the edge of the
city, where they found a wide, flat, square building awaiting them. There
was a small door in the middle of one side. Next to this door stood Citizen
Brome, their former guide.
"Hi!" Stot exclaimed.
Brome looked at the boy and said placidly, "I greet you."
Asked Junipee, "Mr. Brome, what’s this all about?"
"Our Queen has decided that you are a civic nuisance, and
has commanded that you be placed here, in the Bin of Confinement," he said
in an official voice. Then he moved closer and spoke more softly, saying,
"That is what I am instructed to say, though the real reason is otherwise."
Junipee gave the Mangaboo a shrewd look. "Bet this has to
do with those missing gloves, doesn’t it?"
Brome again spoke loudly. "The Colorless Gloves have been
found, and reside upon the royal forearms in the customary manner—so I say."
"Do not!" said Stot firmly. "We took ’em and we
"Here I thought you vegetable people couldn’t lie,"
remarked Junipee drily.
"Ordinarily we cannot," Brome agreed. "Lying is a rare
art known only to those descended from the root of the monarchy, passed down
from one royal personage to another. It is only made use of on special
"But you can’t lie, can you? You can tell us
"Certainly I can," he answered. "The gloves cannot be
found anywhere, and Her Majesty has come to think that one of you
strangers—from the unknown world far above the Colored Suns—has either taken
them, or possibly is just a bringer of bad luck. Either way, she thinks it
best to keep you in one place until she decides how to destroy you."
"I suppose she’s right, if you look at it that way," said
The Mangaboo hesitated and then inquired, "Did I
understand the small one to say that you do indeed have the Colorless
"Perhaps you did," was Junipee’s response. "But we’re
what they call meat-people, not vegetable; so, you know, we can lie whenever
Brome nodded. "Of course." He now reached over and opened
up a cloth sack that was hanging from a peg next to the door. From this sack
he removed a small pane of glass set in a silver frame. Junipee and Stot
could see that the pane was etched-over with a complicated pattern of lines.
"Now follow me to the Bin. I, Brome, have been appointed High-Knob and First
Sprout of the Solarium of Justice by Queen Ssyr as of today; for she
appointed by pointing, and I happened to be standing in front of her
Junipee and Stot did not even attempt to run away, as it
probably would have been useless to try to hide within a city made of glass.
The doorway into the Solarium entered onto a hall that ran straight along
the wall of the building and then, at the corner, turned to follow the
adjacent wall. They walked most of the way along the four sides until they
had almost circled (in a square manner) back to the door again. Then Brome,
consulting the etched pane, guided them through an inward door into another
corridor that led backwards a ways. This odd course continued for quite a
number of zigs and zags, slowly bringing them closer to the center of the
"The Solarium of Justice has one-hundred and seven twists
and turns to prevent those confined in the Bin from finding their own way
out," Brome said in a lecturing manner. "Specifically, there are
eighty-three twists and twenty-four turns."
"Junee, I know what this is," whispered Stot. "It’s like
the puzzle in my coloring book."
"It’s called a maze, Stot. It’s made to be complicated."
A maze it was, a maze of clear polished glass all the way
through, side to side and top to bottom. The children could see through to
the center, where there was evidently a room, and within that room they
could make out a small figure pacing back and forth. Long before they
finally entered the Bin of Confinement they could tell that the figure
belonged to Ruggedo, the former King of the Nomes, in a molten mood.
"Finally!" he grumbled as the children entered the Bin of
Confinement, a glass room comfortably furnished with beds, easy chairs, and
other conveniences—though not with privacy. "These vegetables are turning
out to be even more of an annoyance than Ozma and Dorothy and that whole
crowd. Imagine placing me, a King no less, under arrest!"
"In the case of this one, his being a nuisance is not a
made-up thing, for he really is one," Brome commented, standing just outside
"What did he do?" Junipee asked.
"He was discovered eating some of the gravel and
paving-stones covering a walkway in one of our city parks. It is contrary to
law to eat a public thoroughfare without permission."
"And who, may I ask, was I to get permission
from?" demanded Ruggedo.
Brome answered, "The law does not specify anyone in
particular. Had you asked one of your companions, it would have been all
right. But someone’s permission must be gotten."
The former Nome King scowled a dreadful scowl, of the
sort that could peel the paint off the side of a car. "Release me at once,
or I shall use my power to shatter every pane of glass in this city!"
"You made that threat before, when you were arrested,"
Brome responded without a hint of emotion.
"As if I would do it there, and have the glass pieces
fall on me." Ruggedo looked very smug in his royal indignation. "Not that
glass could cut stone, but it is hardly a suitable situation for a royal
personage representing his entire nation."
"Nor can you do it here, for the same reason," observed
Brome. "And as you cannot do it anyplace you are, nor anyplace you
are not, I think the citizens of Glass City need not pay you any
attention." And with that he turned and began negotiating the long and
complicated walk back to the entrance.
"He’s pretty cool," Stot said. "I like him."
"I make a practice of not liking jailers and
executioners, when I am their victim," the old Nome declared. "But now that
he is gone, I can cease posturing and pretending; for we possess the means
to get out of this situation in an instant." He looked at Junipee with the
smile of a conspirator.
"Oh, no," she said. "It’d be plain stupid to hand the
gloves over to you, so you could use them to run out on us. If they’re going
to be used, I’ll be he one to use them. You just tell me what to do, Ruggy."
"You’re right not to trust me," said he. "I’ll turn away;
then you can disenchant that zip-thing and take the gloves out without my
seeing how to work it."
Ruggedo turned around. In truth, he was hoping to be able
to watch the reflection of Junipee in the glass wall. But she had figured
this out, and had Stot stand so as to block the view.
"All right, I’ve put them on," she reported. "You can
turn around. Now—what do I do?"
"How should I know?" grumped Ruggedo irritably. "You’re
such a Little Miss Smarty, I’m sure you can work it out by yourself."
Stot’s face fell at these words. "Junee, don’t you have
"No," she responded. "I’ll have to experiment. Using the
gloves couldn’t be dangerous, or that Queen wouldn’t have worn them all the
time." She looked at her arms—though there was nothing to see, of course—and
said, "Gloves, I wish to be taken out of here."
But nothing happened. She tried again. "Gloves, please
take me out of here."
"Hmmph!" muttered Ruggedo.
Nothing happened again (if you see what I mean). So
Junipee said, "Gloves, make the walls of this place—oh, whatever it’s
called—turn soft, so we can walk through them."
The Nome King rapped upon the glass wall. The wall wasn’t
soft, and his rapping was sarcastic.
"Can you do any better?" demanded Junipee in
"Don’t mind me," replied Ruggedo mildly. "After all, I’m
only the rightful aged-in-the-rock absolute ruler of millions of
fairy-beings, you know."
Junipee made a dismissive gesture in his direction. But
when she drew back her hand, little Stot cried out, "Look!"–for her hand was
caked in mud.
The former Nome King came closer and sniffed at the mud.
"Ah yes!" he said. "From the bottom of a lake in the continent of Africa,
the name of which I shall not pronounce as you won’t have heard of it
The girl stretched out her other hand, and drew it back
covered in dry white sand which sifted through her fingers and trickled down
to the floor.
Ruggedo sniffed and said, "Gobi Desert. Not known for its
fragrance, I’m afraid."
Now Junipee extended both arms in front of her as far as
she could, and held them there.
"Can you feel anything?" asked Stot with wide eyes.
"Something cold and wet," she replied. And when she
pulled her arms back they were dripping with water, and the mud and sand had
been washed away.
"One of the oceans," commented the Nome King. "Not my
"Can you get us a fish, Junee?"
"I’ll try," was her answer. And at her very next attempt
she found her arms full of a large shiny fish that flopped about madly. So
she immediately stretched out her arms again, and they came back dripping,
with the fish having disappeared.
"I think I put him back where I took him from," Junipee
"And how do you know that?" asked Ruggedo
"I just do," she said. "It’s like a feeling. All I
have to do is think of where I want the gloves to reach to, and they do it."
Ruggedo sat down in a chair, pulling on his long scraggly
beard and sitting as proudly as if he were back on his old throne in the
Nome Dominions. "It is all coming clear to me now, children; yes indeed. It
was necessary for you to come with me to this Country of the Mangaboos,
because only you could have succeeded in stealing the Colorless
Gloves—because of that magical pocket you have, my girl. And with those
gloves on, I can retrieve the Magic Belt from Ozma’s palace in the City of
"I’m not ready to give them to you just yet," said
Junipee stubbornly. "First, I want to get us out of here. Then we’ll
Things Made Better But Not Quite Right
"I will do what you
wish, if I have the ability," said the Sorcerer Murch to tiny Tik-Tok, who
was standing in his ear.
"In the cave cham-ber a-head there is a Pink Kit-ten, and
on her back are se-ver-al peo-ple as small as I am," Tik-Tok said. "They are
not sup-posed to be so small, and I wish you to re-turn them to their
Responded Murch, "As it is proper to do so, I will do
Again the Mangaboo made gestures and motions, as if
drawing things in the air that no one could see. In the middle of this,
Eureka came gliding through the air from within the cave, and landed
blinking at the feet of the sorcerer, who then took several steps back to
make room. Suddenly he snapped his fingers, all of them at the same time,
which is something a meat-person could hardly have managed to do; and with a
sharp whoosh of air—for the air was pushed aside—all the Ozites stood in the
colored suns-light at their proper size and stature.
As the others all felt of themselves as if disbelieving,
Princess Ozma stepped forward and curseyed to Murch with great dignity.
"Sir, I thank you on behalf of the Kingdom of Oz."
Murch thought for a moment, and then returned the
curtsey, causing nearly every one of the Ozites to suppress startled
laughter. "On behalf of the Vegetable Kingdom of Mangaboo, I wouldn’t have
done it if the small metal being had not asked me to do it."
"Oh—where is Tik-Tok?" inquired Dorothy. "Didn’t
you make him big too?"
"That was not part of his request."
"Well then, I hereby request it."
"Is it then the proper thing to do?"
Ozma said, "It is proper. I tell you this as Rightful
Ruler of Oz."
"Very well, then." Murch did his routine, and in a moment
the clockwork man stood quietly ticking amongst his friends. He then gave an
account to Ozma of what he had done on his mission, which had amounted to
about twenty-two feet and thirty-three minutes.
"Seems you’ve saved the day for us, Tik!" exclaimed Trot
"I de-serve no spe-cial re-cog-ni-tion," he responded. "I
am in-tend-ed as a la-bor sa-ving de-vice."
The Pink Kitten had been contorting herself in the usual
catlike way, for she felt a great desire to lick her back clean. "I hope no
one will take this personally," she said between licks; "but I am glad to
get you all off my back."
"I shouldn’t wonder," commented the Cowardly Lion. "It
must have tickled something fierce."
"So now we are back in Mangaboo after all these years,"
the Wizard said with a glance at Dorothy. A thought struck him, and he
turned to Murch. "Sir, might you be the official Sorcerer of this
"That I am," he replied. "My name is Murch."
The Wizard nodded politely. "Very pleased to meet you. I
am a brother worker of magic and miracles, some of them genuine, called the
Wizard of Oz; formerly Oz the Great and Terrible, and before that Mr. O. Z.
Diggs of Omaha, Nebraska. Perhaps you’ve heard of me, eh?" The Wizard raised
an eyebrow, and Dorothy could tell her old friend had a reason for his
Murch stared at him silently (for the Mangaboos do not
frown when they are thinking) and finally said: "If we have met before, I do
not now recall it."
"But perhaps you have read of me in your Mangaboo history
books, for I paid a visit to your city once, long ago."
"I do not know what you mean by ‘books’," responded the
Sorcerer. "As to history, we have none in Mangaboo."
"Well then, I wish I’d been born a vegetable," the Shaggy
Man remarked, "for I never could make much of history lessons when I was a
boy—all those names and battles and Greeks."
"But tell me," Ozma inquired, "do you know nothing of
past times in your kingdom?"
"To the contrary, we know a good deal," answered the
Mangaboo. "You see, after a length of time, we gradually cease to move and
think, and our active lives are at an end. It is called ‘being dead.’ We are
then planted in the ground, and soon a fresh new Mangaboo has grown from us
who begins to think and move and speak when he is picked. But the new
Mangaboo is still a little bit of the old one from whom he has sprouted, and
even has some of his memories, though as a rule they are mixed and
"Copy of a copy!" muttered Cap’n Bill sagely. "Always
gets a little worse each time."
"What do you ’member of the old times, Mr. Murch?"
Dorothy asked. It was perhaps not the wisest thing to ask about, but the
little princess spoke on impulse.
There was a silence. "I recall now a great rain of
stones; and then other things came down past the Six Suns. There was a small
woman and a small man, and a black thing with legs that were round like
saucers, and a large being with four legs and no arms."
"And a pretty little kitten," purred Eureka. "You surely
recall that detail."
"Then," Murch continued, "something round like a huge
melon came down past the Suns, very slowly, and attached beneath it was a
sort of man with a shiny dark cylinder on the top of his head. He destroyed
my great-great-great—(this continued for a time)—great-sproutfather, who was
of course the Sorcerer of that time. His name was Gwig, and the stranger
sliced him in half with a large knife."
"I wonder," said Oz with a smile, "if you might happen to
recall the name of this stranger. The tale interests me."
"I know nothing else of that time," Murch replied.
"Just as well," the Wizard said with a wink in Dorothy’s
direction. "It’s best to forget what you don’t remember."
At that moment everyone made a startled turn to one side,
for the leafy vegetable bushes nearby were stirring and thrashing in a
commotion. Then a small form burst through them and skidded to a stop—with
an undignified tumble at the end—at the feet of the Hungry Tiger. The tiger
spread his huge mouth in a toothy grin, thinking for just a moment that fate
had brought him something to eat. But the grin collapsed right away.
"Oh, it’s you," he said sourly. "You are not even
worth considering as a meal, unless one has a glass stomach."
"It’s Bungle!" exclaimed Betsy Bobbin.
"My name is Eure—" the Glass Cat started to say. But as
she regained her footing, the first face she saw was that of the Pink
Kitten, looking colder than glass and twice as cross. So she glanced about
at the crowd, and trotted to the feet of Princess Ozma. "Your Majesty,"
Bungle said with as elaborate a bow as she could muster. "How nice to run
"We came all the way here to rescue you, Bungle," said
Ozma very soberly. "I hope you need rescuing, for if you don’t, we have all
gone to a good deal of trouble for nothing."
"I see." Bungle nodded, and everyone could see that her
pink brains were somersaulting around each other in a frenzy. "The fact is,
your mission of rescue was not in vain, for I have been attempting to help
two dear little children return to the United States of America; and if you
do not intervene, I fear old Ruggedo will—will—"
"Will what?" demanded Cap’n Bill without the least
twinge of sympathy in his voice.
"—will do the sort of mischief he always does," finished
the Glass Cat.
"We shall postpone receiving a full account of your
adventures for now," Ozma pronounced. "It seems we have a duty to aid these
children and return them to their homes."
"And to check on what old Ruggs is up to," added the
Shaggy Man, who had dealt with the former Nome King before.
"I was operating under-cover, as they say," Bungle
continued with a slight smile upon her thin feline lips. "I adopted the
false identity of our esteemed friend Eureka, as I had to use the name of
someone nobody had ever heard of."
Eureka hissed loudly.
"All right, all right then," interrupted Cap’n Bill
impatiently. "We’ll take up your yarn later on. Where’s these two kiddies
now, and old rock-a-fellow?"
The Glass Cat replied, "I know where they were,
but not precisely where they are. We were accosted by officials armed
with thorn branches, and I made my escape."
Princess Ozma turned to Murch. "Sir, as this is your
city, do you know where they might have been taken?"
"I do," responded the Sorcerer, "for the Law specifies
that the Branchmen are only to be called out when an offender is to be put
in the cooler for storage."
"Aha, the cooler!" exclaimed the Shaggy Man. "That’s the
local pokey, you know—the jail."
"No," Murch said, "it is the Bin of Confinement in the
Solarium of Justice, where a cooling moistness is maintained to keep fresh
those who are confined there, so they will be at peak condition when they
"Destroyed!" cried Dorothy, Betsy, and Trot at the
"We do not know these American children, and Ruggedo
probably deserves to be destroyed," Ozma said. "But ours is an Expedition of
Rescue, and I think we ought to continue it and rescue these persons from
Murch now looked thoughtful in his placid way. "But is it
proper for you to do so? They must have broken the Law of Glass City, and
that is as serious a matter as breaking the glass itself. I know where the
Solarium is, and could lead you there; but I won’t."
The Cowardly Lion made a deep muffled roar and crept
closer to Murch. "I do not ordinarily eat vegetables larger than my paw, and
my heart is pounding in fear of your sorcery, but if you do not obey our
Princess you will not see another sunset."
"Our suns do not set," said the Sorcerer calmly.
"Now now, brother magic-maker," the Wizard said, taking
Murch’s arm in a friendly manner. "You seem a clever fellow."
"I am," responded the wizened Mangaboo.
"Then surely there is a loophole in the Law somewhere? An
out, if you see? Surely it is unjust to punish visitors who have no
knowledge of your rules."
"Ignorance of the Law is an excuse," Murch said;
"but it is specified that the excuse only applies to persons who are
innocent. These strangers must be guilty, or they would have told the
"It is no use arguing with these vegetables," declared
Bungle scornfully; "for despite all their efforts to moisturize, they are
all dry and stiff as boards."
"It would not be right to break the laws of Mangaboo,"
admitted Princess Ozma. "But what my adviser the Wizard has said is
wise—there may be a loophole that people are not aware of. I make sure to
leave a secret loophole in all my royal decrees."
"I know!" Trot cried out suddenly. "Mr. Sorcerer, didn’t
you say the ‘ignorance’ excuse works for innocent folk?"
"And you think these people have got to be guilty,
’cause they didn’t tell those police that they weren’t?"
"Well then!" Trot exclaimed in triumph. "What if those
Branchers forgot to ask?"
This caused Murch to stare at her silently. During the
silence, the Glass Cat said, "I was there, you know; and I hereby declare
that Fegrole and his boys never asked about guilt or innocence at all. Never
passed their lips."
Added the little Wizard, "You Mangoobles do forget
things—you told us yourself just a while ago."
"These are new considerations," the Sorcerer said at
last. "It may be entirely proper for your friends to be taken out of the
cooler after all, in which case I am required to assist you." He now turned
to Princess Ozma. "Your Ripeness, you and your associates must follow me
immediately; and as this in an emergency matter, we shall go by air."
Murch now set off into the air with a brisk step, Ozma
and the rest of the Expedition of Rescue—and the Glass Cat—following behind
like the long long train of a bridal gown. They passed over the road, and
over many gardens where newly-sprouted Mangaboos were growing, and over the
city limits, which was marked on the ground with a thick dark line.
"Look, Wizard, there’s the city square where your balloon
came down," said Dorothy softly.
"Yes," he answered. "And the round dome of the Sorcerer’s
palace, where I subdivided old Gwig to keep him from taking my breath away."
"I would rather not think of those days, thank you,"
pronounced Eureka. "I was an innocent little white kitten then. Now I am
still a kitten, but wiser and more worldly, and pink with experience."
Ozma used her silver wand, which was now full-sized
again, to hurry them all along. In minutes they had come down on the flat
roof of the Solarium.
"We are here," Murch said simply. "There is no attendant
on guard, as the Solarium is inescapable, and in any event escape is not
allowed. But my sorcery will be sufficient to open a hole in the roof."
"Or if it isn’t, my wand will do so," Ozma declared.
But meanwhile Betsy Bobbin had been standing in the
center of the roof looking down into the Bin of Confinement, her feet spread
apart so they would not be in the way of her gaze. "I think before you do
anything, you should take a look here."
"Look at what, Betsy?" asked the Shaggy Man.
"Look at nothing," Betsy replied. "There’s nobody
The Magic Belt
When Junipee announced
that she would not allow Ruggedo to wear the Colorless Gloves just yet, the
Nome King went fairly wild in anger and frustration. He pounded a rocky fist
against his rocky head, breaking off little stone chips that clattered to
the floor. Of course this display made Stot laugh, and of course Stot’s
laughter made Ruggedo all the more enraged.
"You’re not seting a good example for my little brother,"
Junipee commented. "You’re old enough not to have a temper tantrum when you
don’t get your way."
"Great bubbling basalt!" rumbled Ruggedo. "I’m King of
the Nomes! I can have a tantrum any time I please!"
"I can see that," said Junipee. "But meanwhile, I think
I’ll get us out of jail." She stretched out her arms in the direction of the
cloth sack hanging by the outside door to the Solarium. They could all see
that sack clearly, despite the many glass walls that intervened, and they
could also discern a little bump in the bottom of the sack that was caused
by the inscribed pane within. Junipee moved a wrist and the distant sack
twitched in response. "I can feel that glass map between my fingers," she
Now she pulled back her arms, and at a certain point the
little framed pane appeared out of nothingness between her hands. At that
exact moment, the sack by the door went limp—for now it was empty.
Ruggedo had stopped hitting himself. But he gave Junipee
a balefull glare that suggested she was no longer under consideration as his
heir to the underground throne. "Well, go ahead, lead us out. I suppose
you’d leave me behind if you could, ungrateful surface-dweller."
"If I could," repeated the girl. "But I can’t."
She led Stot and Ruggedo out the door of the Bin of Confinement and down one
hallway after another, around and around the maze until at last they stepped
through the building entrance into the open air.
"I’m tired of glass," said Stot earnestly.
Junipee smiled. "Me too."
"Well," said the former Nome King, "you’d better get used
to it, for I don’t see you getting out of Mangaboo without my using the
Magic Belt, and you won’t be able to get the Belt without my cooperation."
Stot put a hand on one of Ruggedo’s outcroppings—that is
to say, an arm. "Mr. King, won’t you c’operate a little, please?"
Now it was his turn to be stubborn. "No, not a bit—unless
I get to wear the Colorless Gloves." Ruggedo enjoyed being stubborn.
Junipee’s pretty face was heavy with thought for a
minute. Then she said: "Tell you what—we’ll compromise."
"I don’t like compromise," sniffed the Nome King, "as it
means I don’t get exactly what I want, and I regard that as a tragedy. But I
am willing to listen to you."
She passed her right hand down her left forearm, starting
just below the elbow and going all the way to her fingertips. "There. I’ll
give you one of the Colorless Gloves to wear. Then we can both
reach for that Belt, and we’ll both be holding on to it when it comes.
"Which is merely another way of saying that I don’t get
my way," Ruggedo commented sourly. "But very well."
He took the invisible glove, and after fumbling with it
for quite a while, and having to turn it inside out, he was finally able to
work it onto his skinny left arm.
"Don’t rip it!" advised Stot. "The magic might leak!"
"It’s perfectly fine." Ruggedo turned to Junipee. "Now
then. When we were near the Emerald City, I used the tell-on-scope to
determine that the Magic Belt was resting upon the top of Ozma’s dresser
next to the royal bed."
"What does the belt look like?" asked Junipee.
"Oh, it’s round like a hoop and rather broad—more like a
girdle than a real belt, with many folds in it—as I recall."
"The better I know what I’m reaching for, the better I
can get it," Junipee explained. "So let’s do it, on the count of three."
The Nome King didn’t wait until the count of three. But
Junipee knew he would cheat, and was prepared to reach out at the same time
whenever it came. "I feel the top of the dresser," she said.
"So do I," agreed Ruggedo. "And there!—that’s the
Magic Belt itself."
He pulled back his left hand and Junippee pulled back her
right, and between them stretched the Magic Belt.
Ruggedo was overcome with emotion. "This is a great day
for the race of Nomes," he said finally. "We have recovered one of our
Stot looked at the belt and declared, "You can’t both
"It’s too small for you to wear even by yourself, Ruggy,"
said Junipee with a glance at Ruggedo’s formidable equator. "You must’ve
bulked-out over the years."
"Nonsense," replied the former Nome King. "That Ozma has
had it altered to fit her. She’s a tiny thing."
"Then I guess I’ll have to be the one to wear it," said
the girl. Ruggedo, seeing that there was no other way, let go of it. "What
do I do to make it work?"
"Just make a wish; and if the belt understands what you
want, and it isn’t too vain or ridiculous, it will come true." Then he added
very hastily, "However, should you wish anything hurtful to a Nome,
the belt will destroy you. It’s a safety feature." This was all untrue, but
Ruggedo wanted the children to believe it.
Not seeing a buckle, Junipee pulled the belt down over
her shoulders to her midsection, wearing it over her long green jacket. Then
she said very seriously, "I wish for the Colorless Gloves to be back on
Queen Ssyr’s arms."
"And there they go," grumbled Ruggedo. "Now why
inside the world did you do that?"
"To show Stot we were only borrowing them," she replied.
"Just as I said."
"You’ve made your point, then," the Nome pronounced. "Now
kindly wish the three of us into my throne room in the Nome Dominions."
"Uh-uh!" interjected little Stot. "Don’t forget
"We’ll get her in a second," said Junipee. She gathered
her thoughts and said aloud, "I wish us three to be in Princess Ozma’s
bedroom, where the belt was."
"No—not—" was the beginning of Ruggedo’s angry protest.
He never uttered the rest of it, for suddenly he and Junipee and Stot were
standing in the royal bedchamber in Ozma’s palace, right next to her
"Ohhh my!" cried Junipee, overwhelmed by the dazzling
emerald beauty of the big room. Stot covered his eyes with his fingers, and
then peeked between them.
But Ruggedo the Nome King was not easily dazzled and had
kept his wits about him. He knew something about the belt that was not
obvious to the casual observer, namely that there was a secret catch on the
side of it ingeniously contrived so that when it was flipped open, the whole
belt would come free of whoever was wearing it. His fingers darted forth,
and in a half second he was holding the Magic Belt in his hand.
"I might have known you would betray me to my enemies,
child," he smoldered. "Now I have the belt!" But Junipee did not
waste a second. She yanked the belt from Ruggedo’s grasp and ran across the
room with it.
"Give it!" demanded Ruggedo in fury, and the game was on.
Stot bounced across Ozma’s mattress, and as the Nome King neared Junipee,
she tossed the belt to her brother, who was giggling. On the next pass
Ruggedo managed to snag the belt in mid-air, but Stot swang on it like a
rope from a tree-limb, and it slipped from Ruggedo’s fingers. The Magic Belt
was tossed back and forth twenty times, until Stot was almost helpless with
laughter, Junipee was beginning to giggle, and even old Ruggedo was starting
to smile (for the enchantment of the Land of Oz was beginning to affect
At length the Nome King had the belt long enough to snap
it around the top of his head, like the silliest-looking crown on earth. He
instantly blurted out, "I wish those two to be rooted in place!" Immediately
Junipee and Stot found that the soles of their shoes were fixed firmly to
the floor, and they could no longer move in any direction.
"There, much better," said Ruggedo. "Now I can think.
Most of the world’s trouble comes from insufficient thinking, you know."
Think he did, for several minutes.
"You could just send us home, before you wish
yourself back to Nome Land," suggested Junipee.
"No, that doesn’t appeal to me," he replied. "I’ve
suffered a good deal over the years, and even you two meat-children have
offended my royal dignity by not allowing me to trick you as I was
intending. So it would hardly be proper for you to end up with what
you wanted, eh?" He thought some more, pacing a bit, and then he sat down on
the edge of Ozma’s bed (which the Princess had neglected to make on the
morning of the Wizard’s fateful demonstration). "No, I’ve changed my plan a
bit, as one ought to be flexible and open to opportunity. I don’t think I
would be content just being the Nome King again."
"You could be king of everything!" was Stot’s
Ruggedo nodded pleasantly. "I suppose I could. But that
strikes me as a lot of responsibility and worry. No, I think I’ll just take
over this Land of Oz and make it a colony of the Nome Dominions. But first,
the pleasant task of conquering my enemies." He leaned back with insolent
laziness and said, "Bring Ozma here before me, along with—well—whoever
happens to be of particular service to her at this present time." Ruggedo
couldn’t remember the names of all the members of Ozma’s court, and didn’t
want to leave anyone out.
Now those who were presently of particular service to
Ozma were, of course, those Ozites gathered with her on the roof of the
Solarium of Justice, who were just at that moment discovering the absence of
Junipee and Stot from the Bin. So every one of them popped into the space
between the end of Ozma’s bed and the wall—that is, Ozma herself, Dorothy,
the Shaggy Man, the Wizard, both the small cats and both the big ones,
Betsy, Trot, Cap’n Bill, and Tik-Tok. As Ruggedo had only Ozma’s court in
mind, the Sorcerer Murch was not included: so he went home.
"Oh, and let them be completely unable to move or speak,"
he added as an afterthought; and it was so.
"It’s Yoo-ree-ka!" cheered Stot, looking at Bungle. "But
who’re all these other people, Mr. King?"
"The tyranical rulerette of Oz, Ozma, and her sycophantic
followers," replied the Nome King, leaning back further on his hand.
"What’s that—sick-fannick?" asked the boy.
"You needn’t concern yourself with it," Ruggedo said;
"and besides, I have no idea. The point is that now these horrible humans
are entirely at my mercy. But let’s see, there’s also the chicken named
Billina, that feathered engine of destruction. I must make sure to attend to
"Uh-huh!" uttered Junipee with scorn. "The big bad
Nome King is afraid of a little chicken! Is it a phobia?"
Ruggedo shook his head. "I can’t expect you to
sympathize. The fact is, chickens lay eggs, and eggs are destructive to
Nomes—even fresh eggs. Eggs of any sort have to do with animal life and the
surface world, and we Nomes have a different sort of life entirely. Reptile
eggs and insect eggs are harmless, and duck eggs are not too bad, but
chicken eggs—!" He shuddered in horror, rattling his rocks all the way
"It must be just an old wives’ tale," observed Junipee.
"They don’t seem to be hurting you any."
The Nome King frowned. "What do you mean?"
Junipee raised her eyebrows and smiled sweetly and
mischievously. "Just look at your hand, Ruggy. You put it down on Ozma’s
plate, and I’d guess she had scrambled eggs for breakfast."
Oz or Otherwise?
The shriek of the
former Metal Monarch and King of the Nomes was a frightening thing to hear.
He leapt off the bed like a freed balloon—much like the Chubby Cub balloon,
in fact. Ozma’s plate, which had been sitting innocently on top of the
covers (for Jellia Jamb was not permitted to enter the royal bedchamber to
straighten and clean without permission from the Princess herself) bounced
up and flipped several times, sending Ozma’s rather elderly breakfast in all
"Eggs! Eggs!" screeched Ruggedo. "I’m poisoned!"
"You still look alive, Mr. King," said Stot.
"It won’t last," moaned the Nome. "And the Magic Belt has
no effect on egg-poisoning, or I would have made myself immune years ago."
He tried to calm himself and think. "Ozma! Ozma is a fairy with powers of
magic." In a trembling voice, he commanded: "Belt, release the Princess.
Make her normal, completely normal—better than normal!"
And it was so. The Rightful Ruler of Oz stepped forward
and extended her hand. "Give me the Magic Belt."
"But my dear, the Belt has no power to—"
"Just hand it over, if you want me to help you." Knees
knocking—for he was quite literally quaking—Ruggedo complied. "Thank you,"
she said, fitting it about her waist. She then said, "Let everyone—including
those two children—be returned to normal, and be able to move again."
It happened in an instant, and everyone began to rush
forward as if to attack old Ruggedo, who cowered back.
"No, stop," commanded Princess Ozma. "I have the Magic
Belt now, and Ruggedo can do nothing."
"Aye-aye," said Cap’n Bill skeptically; "and how many
times have we heard that over the years?"
Ruggedo fell to his spindly knees dramatically. "Your
Highness, Your Royal Highness—egg-poisoning is a terrible way to die, and
provides a fearful sight for these two delicate children. If your fairy
magic should provide a means of sparing my worthless life—worthless to
everyone else, that is, but not to me—it would be a monumental—"
"Oh, do stop your pitiful yammering," growled the
Hungry Tiger (though the growl might have come from his stomach). "Ozma, I’d
advise you to use the belt to transform Ruggedo into a piece of
"How about a polished stone paperweight?" suggested
Princess Dorothy. "Then he’d be useful for a change."
"It would be fit-ting for Rug-ge-do to stand for
e-ter-ni-ty on the front lawn of the pa-lace as a gar-den Gnome," offered
Tik-Tok. "That is what they call those lit-tle de-co-ra-tive sta-tues."
"With water coming out of his ears," Betsy Bobbin added.
"I remember how he treated Hank and me and all the Oogaboo people."
"And I have something of a grudge against him for the way
he kept my poor ugly brother in captivity," said the Shaggy Man with as much
of a frown as he had ever frowned (which wasn’t much of one). "Your Majesty,
my recommendation is to make him a gopher hole and drop him over by the
front gate. The gophers would like it, and I’d enjoy seeing him day in and
"Are there any other suggestions from my advisers?"
inquired Ozma, looking right and left. "I had thought of transforming him
into an egg custard and feeding him to Toto, but I am open to other ideas."
"Are you really goin’ to do all that to Mr. King?" asked
Stot in some alarm.
Ozma gave him a kindly look. "Don’t you want us to?"
"Nope!" he exclaimed. "He’s a lot of fun, and we had some
nice rides, and—"
"He’s round like a ball!"
"While you stand idly debating my fate, fate is deciding
my fate for you!" cried Ruggedo. "I have touched egg—not just a
chicken or an egg-shell, mind you, but the awful insides!"
The Wizard turned to Ozma and bowed slightly. "May I?"
Ozma nodded back and said, "If you please."
He turned to the Nome King and gave him a look of stern
reproach for a long moment. Then he said, "Ruggedo, about how long does a
Nome survive after contact with the deadly egg?"
"Seconds—mere seconds!" replied the Nome.
"Yet you are still with us, loudly, and it has been
several minutes, I believe. How do you account for such a thing?"
Ruggedo considered this. "Was it, perhaps, not a plate of
scrambled eggs after all?"
Ozma shook her head. "They were eggs, all right, courtesy
of our own Billina."
Ruggedo thought again. "Perhaps I failed to actually
"You’ve still got a mess of ’em between your fingers,"
Trot pointed out.
Ruggedo looked and wiped his hand on the royal carpet.
"Then I am forced to the obvious conclusion that I am not Ruggedo after
all," he declared. "Is that it?"
"Oh no, there’s no way out of that," said the
little Wizard. "If anyone is Ruggedo the Nome—if anyone has ever been
Ruggedo the Nome—you most surely are he."
"Sir, I feel you are mocking a dying King," huffed
Ruggedo, rising to his feet.
"Oh, Ruggedo!" remonstrated Dorothy. "Don’t you even know
where you are?"
He looked around sharply. "Why, I’m in the great palace
in the Emerald City—am I not?"
Ozma laughed the dainty laugh of a fairy princess. "You
are indeed, and the Emerald City is in Oz—where no one is able to die
or become sick. Did you forget?"
The Nome King fumed. Tiny wisps of flame appeared in the
corners of his eyes, and a thin haze of smoke rose from his ears. "Do you
mean—do you mean to stand there and tell me—that here in this Land of Oz of
yours, even eggs cannot harm me?"
The entire court of Ozma nodded—even Tik-Tok in his way.
"And I revitalized you Ozites, and turned over the Magic
Belt without a murmur—all for nothing?"
They all nodded again.
Ruggedo sighed. "That’s too bad," said he.
"Aren’t you gonna get mad?" Stot asked him. "It’s funny
when you do."
"No," he answered. "I am able to change moods
quickly—that’s what comes of being made largely of metamorphic rock. It is
much too late for anger to serve any purpose."
Said Ozma, "You feel that we have ill-used you over the
years, do you not?"
Ruggedo nodded. "If you will look at the facts, madam, I
hardly think you could blame me."
"I try never to blame anyone for their true nature; as
after all, they did not give it to themselves." She paused, and then said
seriously, "But you are to blame for having been lazy, and not having
tried harder to restrain the wickedness within you."
"But consider this, Princess," he responded. "The
enchantment of Oz acts to suppress wickedness on its own, so I was deprived
the exercise of fighting against it."
"A most clever argument," pronounced the Wizard. "You
ought to go into lawyering, Ruggedo."
"I say, get rid of him," the Glass Cat urged. "He’s
foolish and a liar, and if you could see his brains—as you see mine—I’m sure
you would find that they whirl and tumble only in the cause of mischief."
Said the Shaggy Man, "You’ve done your share of mischief
over the years, Bungle."
"I don’t deny it," she replied smoothly. "But I am a cat,
and it is expected."
Ozma addressed Ruggedo and said, "I would return you to
your underground kingdom right now, and let Kaliko look after you; but it
occurs to me that putting you out of Oz would destroy you."
"Why’s that, Ozma?" asked Dorothy.
"Because then he would be outside the enchantment, and
perhaps he would be destroyed after all by the eggs he touched here."
"She’s talkin’ about a d’layed reaction, Trot," whispered
Cap’n Bill to his little friend.
"Couldn’t you just wish the wickedness out of him,
with the Magic Belt?" Betsy suggested.
"I beg you not to do that," plead the old Nome. "I
wouldn’t be the same person—I might as well be destroyed."
"I do believe I have the answer," said the Wizard
suddenly. He approached Ozma and whispered in her ear. She brightened
"Come forward, Ruggedo," Ozma commanded. The former Nome
King stepped forward meekly, and she continued. "My chief adviser, who was
once the King of Oz and is now its premier Wizard, has recommended a unique
course of action that I don’t imagine I would have thought of on my own.
Ruggedo, I hereby royally dub you my personal ambassador to the underground
Dominions of the Nomes, and decree that the Ozite Embassy shall be whatever
patch of ground you are standing on. As the grounds of an embassy are
considered the soil of the nation sending the ambassador, the enchantments
of Oz will continue to protect you there."
"Dipl’matical immunity," whispered Cap’n Bill. "Heard of
it all around the world."
"And furthermore," Ozma continued, "the enchantments will
keep you from becoming too wicked for your own good, and ours. Do you accept
this decree of mine?"
"Will I have to do any particular work?" asked Ruggedo
"None that you would notice."
"Then it’s all right," he responded. "I accept."
The Nome King nodded goodbye to Junipee and Stot, frowned
at the Glass Cat, and then—at the end of a long and complicated wish by
"Whooop!" exclaimed little Stot.
"Well said," commented the Cowardly Lion. "Whenever
Ruggedo is in Oz I can’t help feeling a twinge, for I assume he’s up to
"And usually he is," Dorothy agreed. "But now,
Ozma dear, here are these two from the United States."
"I wondered when you’d get around to us," said
Junipee, who, you may have noticed, had been watching in silence.
"Those who find their way to Oz usually come here for a
reason," Princess Ozma noted. "Otherwise the barrier of invisibility that
surrounds us would not have opened to you in the first place."
"I expect we’ve learned some things, my brother and I,"
Junipee replied. "And I suppose we’ve had a good time—mostly."
Ozma asked, "I grant you the choice to remain in Oz, if
you wish, or to return home. If you stay, I will make it that no one will
miss you; if you go back, my wish will cause everyone to think you’ve been
there all along."
"So it’s really just whatever you want," Dorothy
Junipee thought for a while, and said, "I don’t suppose I
care too much one way or the other. I’ll let Stot decide for us
Stot came close to his sister and whispered in her ear.
She smiled at him affectionately and said to Ozma, "I guess it’s back to New
York we go, Princess." They said goodbye to the Glass Cat with real regret,
for she had been their companion for a long time and they didn’t mind having
been tricked by her (as no one had told them about it). Junipee whispered
something to Bungle; then she gave a polite nod to the others and said to
Ozma, "Go ahead."
In just a moment they were gone.
"I’m curious as a cat," remarked Dorothy. "Why did that
sweet little boy not want to stay here in Oz?"
"I wonder what he whispered to his sister," Ozma said.
"Did anyone overhear?"
"I did not have to overhear, for it was told to me
directly," pronounced Bungle condescendingly. "I take it as a sign that they
recognized my importance here, and my fine pink brains."
"What was it?" demanded Cap’n Bill. "What’d he tell his
"He whispered four words," replied the Glass Cat—who
naturally was enjoying the attention. "He whispered ‘They don’t have