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´╗┐Title: Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz
Author: Baum, L. Frank (Lyman Frank), Thompson, Ruth Plumly
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz" ***

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                            OZOPLANING WITH
                           THE WIZARD OF OZ

                                 _By_

                         RUTH PLUMLY THOMPSON

            Founded on and continuing the Famous Oz Stories

                                 _By_

                             L. FRANK BAUM

                        "Royal Historian of Oz"

                           _Illustrated by_

                             JOHN R. NEILL

                   OZOPLANING WITH THE WIZARD OF OZ
                            Copyright 1939
                                  By
                             REILLY & LEE
                        Printed in the U. S. A.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Dear Boys and Girls:_


I often have wondered about the Strat, have not you? Bet a bushel of
peanuts you have! Well, while we've been wondering the Wizard of Oz
has been inventing an Ozoplane to go Strato-sphering! Oh, there's some
pretty high sky-riding in this adventure, I can tell you! And with Dot,
Jellia Jam, the Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and Tin Woodman along, you can
imagine the thrills and excitement. And the Soldier with Green Whiskers
hopes you'll give him credit for the part _he_ played in the affair!

You know--it's grand to get together over a book once a year and have a
good laugh, isn't it? I'd like to know what makes you laugh loudest and
longest.... I think I laughed most at the Cowardly Lion!

Yours for fun--now, and OZ always!

RUTH PLUMLY THOMPSON

254 S. Farragut Terrace,

West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

       *       *       *       *       *

                       This book is dedicated to

                             JOHN R. NEILL

                   Whose drawings have added much to
                  the merriment and gaiety of all my
                            IMAGI-NATIONS!

    So--

    From the "Royal Historian of Oz,"
    To its "Imperial Illustrator--"
    Bows, cheers and heartfelt appreciation!

                         RUTH PLUMLY THOMPSON

       *       *       *       *       *

                               CHAPTERS

       1 At Home with the Wizard of Oz

       2 The Wizard's Spy Glass

       3 Latest Invention of the Wizard of Oz

       4 First Flight of the Oztober

       5 The Spikers

       6 Strut of the Strat

       7 A Most Reluctant Starina

       8 Strut of the Strat Sets Off for Oz

       9 Jellia in a Frightful Jam

      10 The Wizard in Stratovania!

      11 King, King-Double King!

      12 The Flight to Oz

      13 The King of the Kudgers

      14 Azarine the Red

      15 In the Red Castle

      16 Escape from Red Top

      17 The Wizard Gets to Work

      18 Strut of the Strat Arrives in Oz!

      19 The Travellers Return!

      20 Azarine Is Restored to Red Top



[Illustration: Map of Oz]



CHAPTER 1

At Home with the Wizard of Oz


In his big brightly lighted laboratory back of the throne room, the
Wizard of Oz paced impatiently forth and back, his hands clasped
tightly behind him. Every minute or two he would glance at the clock or
dart over to peer out to the already darkening garden.

"Are you sure you told them all, Jellia? Are you sure you told them
tonight?" he asked, turning to the pretty little serving maid who was
setting a table near the fire, for the fall evening was quite cool and
frosty.

"Four--five--six--seven--." Jellia, counting places, nodded her head
firmly to answer the Wizard's question, then stepped back to regard her
handiwork with complete satisfaction. "Oh, doesn't that tiny house in
the center look too cute and cunningish? Real smoke coming out of the
chimney, too. How ever did you manage it, Wiz? And having those silver
slippers at each place for nuts and candies is just, plain beautiful."

"Do you really think so?" The little Wizard positively blushed with
pleasure. "Well, ye see, Jellia, this party is to celebrate Dorothy's
first trip to the Emerald City. That is an exact model of the house
in which she blew from Kansas to Oz in a cyclone, the house that fell
on the wicked witch of the West and destroyed her--all but her silver
slippers. Remember?"

"Ho, everybody remembers that," said Jellia with a toss of her head
that set all her green cap ribbons fluttering. "If I live to be a
million, I'll never forget the day she came to this castle with the
Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman. Not if I live to be
a million! Will I light the candles now, Wiz dear, or wait until they
arrive?"

"Oh, wait till they arrive, by all means. But see here," the Wizard
taking a last look at the party table was plainly distressed. "You've
only seven places, Jellia, and there are eight of us. My idea was to
have everyone immediately associated with Dorothy's first visit, and
that would be, one--Dorothy herself; two--myself; three--yourself;
four--the Cowardly Lion; five--the Scarecrow; six--the Tin Woodman;
seven--the Soldier with Green Whiskers, and eight--the Guardian of the
Gate. Quick, my dear! Another plate for the Guardian of the Gate."

"He's not coming," announced Jellia primly. "He says he has not
deserted his post for forty years and does not intend to desert it now.
But if you'll send his refreshments to the Guard House, he'll take it
very kindly. I've already fixed him a basket," said Jellia, smoothing
her apron.

"Good old Guardy!" The Wizard absently brushed back the hair he no
longer had, then, hearing voices and steps in the corridor, bounced
over to open the door while Jellia tripped joyously about, lighting
the candles set everywhere in the big work shop. Candle and fire
light are much cozier for parties, and it all looked so cheery and
gay that Dorothy, who was first, stopped short in the doorway with an
exclamation of delight.

"Oh, Wizard! How beautiful! Oh, how I do wish Ozma could see it all!"

"Tut tut!" chuckled the Wizard, leading her into the room. "Ozma is
having a fine time in Glinda's palace, by now. To tell the truth,
Dorothy, this party is just for YOU and to remind us all of the old Oz
days when--"

"--You were nothing but a humbug," snorted the Scarecrow, laughing so
hard he had to lean against the door jam.

"Don't forget he gave you your famous brains, friend." The Tin Woodman
spoke reprovingly, for Nick Chopper did not like anyone's feelings to
be hurt, even in fun. "And don't forget he gave me my splendid heart!"

"And me, my grade A, double distilled, instant acting courage," purred
the Cowardly Lion. Moving over to the fire, the big beast stretched
himself luxuriously on the hearth rug.

"And don't forget our little Wiz was once Supreme Ruler of Oz!" boomed
the Soldier with Green Whiskers. Marching three times round the party
table the thin, immensely tall soldier brought up with a smart salute
before their embarrassed little host.

"Three cheers for the Wizard of Oz!" cried Jellia Jam. Seizing a
silver bell with an emerald clapper, she rang it so hard the Cowardly
Lion's mane blew straight back and even the candles flickered.

"Thank you! Thank you very much!" The Wizard bowed and rubbed his ear
which still tingled from the cheers and bell ringing. "But where is
Toto, Dorothy? I thought of course you'd bring your little dog."

"Oh, Toto's with Ozma," explained Dorothy, drawn in spite of herself
to the brightly decorated party table. "You know how he dotes on
travelling, so Ozma took him along for company."

"Then of course he cannot be here?" sighed the Wizard regretfully. "Now
Jellia, off with that cap and apron. Tonight you are my guest and not a
maid in waiting to Ozma or anyone else. Besides, I've asked Fredjon to
serve the supper. Dorothy, suppose you sit at the head. I'll sit at the
foot and the others may find their own places."

"My place will always be next to little Dorothy," rumbled the Cowardly
Lion, hoisting himself sleepily to the chair beside the little girl.

"Mine will be next to the pickles. MM-mmmm! I LOVE pickles," said the
soldier, slipping into the seat next to the lion, while Jellia, with a
purposeful bounce, settled near a plate of green cookies. There was no
doubt where the Tin Woodman and Scarecrow would sit, for at one plate
the Wizard had put a silver box of metal polish and an emerald bottle
containing purest oil. Then, instead of a chair, he had provided a bale
of freshly packed straw for the Scarecrow.

"Well, well, here we all are!" Rubbing his hands briskly the Wizard
beamed on his guests as Fredjon, wearing his best suit of green and
silver, bustled in with the first course.

"And isn't it fun to be here?" Dorothy took a long, satisfying sip of
her Ozade. "I'm awfully glad I came back to live in the Land of Oz.
Aren't you, Wizard?"

"A country where a body grows no older, where animals talk as easily
as men and where the practice of magic is not only possible but
practical--a country like that has many advantages," admitted the
Wizard, winking at the Cowardly Lion who was drinking his fruit juice
in a refined way from a huge, green aquarium. "I, myself, never have
regretted the years spent in this marvelous fairy land. Sometimes I
hardly can believe I ever did live in Omaha, or travel through the West
with a circus."

"I know," agreed Dorothy, nodding her head slowly. "Kansas, when I
think of it, seems very far away--as much like a dream, I suppose, as
Oz seems like a dream to boys and girls in Kansas who read Oz history."

"Oh, why think of Kansas?" Jellia spoke scornfully. "In Kansas you were
only an ordinary little girl, while here you are a Princess and second
in importance to our Ruler, Ozma herself."

"And in Kansas," observed the Scarecrow, as Dorothy rather
self-consciously straightened her crown, "I'll bet you never had as
much fun nor as many adventures as we have here." The Scarecrow, being
well stuffed with straw, never indulged in any refreshments. In fact,
he just came to parties for the conversation, and to be sure of a good
time he tried to do all the talking himself.

"That's right," said Dorothy thoughtfully, "That cyclone was about the
only thing that ever happened in Kansas."

"A great blow to you, my dear, but a fortunate thing for Nick and me."
The Scarecrow patted the Tin Woodman affectionately on the funnel he
wore for a hat. "If you had not blown to Oz, I'd probably still be
hanging on a pole in that cornfield and Nick would be rusting away his
life in the greenwood."

"And in some ways," mused Dorothy, looking dreamily at the model of
her small Kansas house, "in some ways that first adventure always will
seem best. Just imagine how surprised I was to blow all those miles
and find myself in a strange, wonderful country like Oz. The Munchkins
thought I was a sorceress because my house had killed the wicked witch
of the East. Then, the Good Witch of the North told me to put on her
silver shoes and go to the Emerald City to ask the great OZ to send
me home. And on the way I discovered you, and do you remember how
astonished I was when I lifted you down from your pole and found you
really were alive and could talk?"

The Scarecrow nodded cheerfully.

"And remember how we travelled on together till we found the Tin
Woodman?" went on Dorothy. "And Nick told us about the witch who had
enchanted his axe so that it chopped off a leg here, and an arm there,
and finally his head and body, too. And after each accident he'd go to
a tinsmith who made him new tin arms and legs and finally even a body
and a head. You didn't mind being Tin at all, did you, Nick? Except
that day you went out to chop wood and left your oil can at home. Then
that storm came up, your joints rusted and you couldn't move, and there
you had been--rusting and helpless for months!"

"But we hustled back to your hut, fetched the oil can and fixed you up
in fine shape, didn't we, old fellow?" The Scarecrow flung his flimsy
arm around Nick Chopper's shoulder and the Tin Woodman, at the mere
mention of rust, uncorked the emerald bottle and let three drops of oil
slide down his neck.

"I never shall forget your kindness," he told them earnestly, turning
his head first to look at Dorothy and then at the Scarecrow.

"And after that, you came along so the Wizard could give you a new
heart," Dorothy reminded him gaily. "And right afterwards, we met the
Cowardly Lion."

"And he was more afraid of us than we were of him," teased the
Scarecrow, leaning across the table to give the lion a poke.

"Yes, I was just a big coward in those days," admitted the lion,
blinking approvingly at the rare roast Fredjon had brought him instead
of the chicken he was serving the others. "Just a great, big coward! Ho
hum!"

"But not too cowardly to fight for us," said Dorothy, taking quick
little bites of her biscuit, "and to come with us to the Emerald City."

"Oh, that was because I wanted the Wizard to give me some courage,"
roared the lion. "And weren't we surprised when we did reach the
Emerald City to find it all built of green marble, studded with real
emeralds! And remember how the Guardian of the Gate gave us all green
specs, even me, and then led us up to the palace?"

"You looked awfully funny in those specs!" laughed Dorothy. "I'll never
forget how funny!"

"But remember, it was I who carried your messages to Oz," put in the
Soldier with Green Whiskers.

"Of course it was," said Dorothy nodding her head quickly. "You gave
us some splendid advice, Soldier, and Jellia showed us to the grandest
rooms in the castle and loaned me the loveliest dresses to wear."

"I liked you from the very first!" declared Jellia, choking a bit on
her seventh cooky.

"But Old Man Wizzy wouldn't give us a thing!" said the Scarecrow,
waving his napkin toward the head of the table. "He told us we'd have
to kill the Witch of the West before he'd send Dorothy home or grant
any of our requests."

"But, you see--I didn't know any real magic then." The Wizard looked
quite unhappy for he did not like to remember the time before he was a
real Wizard. "And besides, I needed more time."

"Ho ho! You were doing very well for yourself!" chuckled the Scarecrow,
"living in a splendid castle and having the whole country eating out
of your hand. As it happened, we did kill the witch of the West, or at
least Dorothy melted her with a bucket of water and the Winkies were
so tickled they gave us all presents and made Nick their Emperor. So
when we got back at last, you did give me some brand new brains, and
Nick a red plush heart--"

"And me some real red, true-blue courage," grinned the Cowardly Lion,
wiping his mouth delicately with the tip of his tail.

"And you made me Ruler of OZ! Ah!--My Majesty the Scarecrow, Hah--those
were the days!" The Scarecrow thumped his pudgy chest and fairly
glowed, at the memory.

"You would have taken me back to Kansas, too, only your balloon flew
away too fast, didn't it?" Dorothy leaned all the way across the table
to pat the Wizard's arm.

"But don't forget it was I, who told you to go to the palace of Glinda,
the Good Sorceress of the South," interrupted the Soldier with Green
Whiskers again.

"So we all went to Glinda's," rumbled the Cowardly Lion, half closing
his eyes. "And Glinda told Dorothy the Witch's silver shoes would carry
her home and--they did!" There was a little silence following the
lion's last sentence, as if all of Dorothy's friends were recalling
their sorrow at that first parting from their cheerful little comrade.

"But you soon came back," declared the Scarecrow, balancing a fork on
the edge of his tumbler. "And so did our little Wizard."

"Well, to tell the truth, Omaha seemed rather dull after the Emerald
City," admitted the Wizard, motioning for Fredjon to bring on the
dessert. This caused many admiring "Oh's" and "Ah's" when it arrived,
for it was ice cream moulded into small Tin Woodmen, Scarecrows, Lions
and all the other guests. Then, out of a huge, frosted cake the footman
set down before Dorothy, flew four little witches riding green broom
sticks, straight into the fire.

"I tell you it takes a real Wizard to perform a trick like that." Nick
Chopper wagged his head solemnly. "You certainly have made progress
since Ozma made you Chief Magician of the Realm."

"Well--" drawled the Wizard, pushing the pickle dish away from the
Soldier with Green Whiskers who already had eaten twenty-seven and
was looking rather dill. "Magic is like any other science--it takes
practice. Of course, if you are a born fairy like Ozma and the former
rulers of Oz, working spells and charms just comes natural--like
playing the piano by ear. But if you are not a Fairy, you must study
witchcraft and sorcery as I have done with Glinda the Good. It only
has been by continuous study and research that I have managed to
perfect myself in the arts of wizardry."

"Well, how is wizness lately?" inquired the Scarecrow, wrinkling his
cotton forehead at all the big words.

"Fine, just fine!" The Wizard assured him brightly. Marching over
to his desk, he returned with a long, tube-like object resembling a
seaman's spy glass. "This is one of my latest inventions," he confessed
modestly. "Here, take a look." Beaming with anticipation, he pressed
the spy glass into Dorothy's hands.



CHAPTER 2

The Wizard's Spy Glass


With the Wizard's latest invention clapped to one eye and pointed
straight at the Wizard himself, Dorothy peered through the green glass
hardly knowing what to expect. Certainly not what happened, for,
from the other end of the instrument, a composed voice began making
announcements proudly and impressively as a radio speaker.

"You are now looking at Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle
Emmanuel Ambroise Diggs," it informed them crisply. "Calls himself Oz
after the first letters of his first two names, as his other initials
spell Pinhead. Born in Omaha, Diggs ran away as a young man to join
a circus where he made balloon ascensions to amuse the crowds, his
balloon bearing his initials O. Z.

"One day in a storm, Oscar's balloon was carried to our wonderful Land
of Oz. At that time, the rightful King of the Country and his son had
been destroyed by Mombi the Witch, who also had enchanted and hidden
away Ozma, the little Granddaughter of this unfortunate monarch.
And four witches had divided the country between them. When the
balloon bearing the name OZ on its side sailed out of the clouds, the
inhabitants instantly hailed the traveller from America as their ruler,
supposing him to be another member of the famous fairy family of Oz.
Unable to return to America, Oz accepted the people's decision with
good grace and ruled the realm for many years. Under his wise direction
the people built this castle and the famous city of Emeralds; and the
four witches, thinking Oz more powerful than they, did not question his
rule or authority.

"Later, when little Dorothy from Kansas arrived in Oz, the Wizard
decided to return with her to the United States, leaving the Scarecrow
to rule in his place. The Scarecrow was deposed by Jinjur and her Army
of Girls. Jinjur, in turn was conquered by Glinda, the Good Witch of
the South, who also forced Mombi to disenchant Ozma, the young and
rightful girl ruler of the realm. Ozma has ruled over Oz ever since.
Not long after Ozma was restored to her throne, the Wizard returned
to Oz and our clever girl ruler made him Chief Magician of the realm.
In this ancient and honorable capacity he has served ever since,
PERIOD--STOP--DROP OR POINT ELSEWHERE!" These last words were
uttered so rudely, Dorothy almost did drop the spy glass.

"My! MY GOODNESS!" gasped the little girl.

"It always says that, when it has told all it knows. You see, it is a
'tell-all-escope.'" explained the Wizard, reaching out for his spy
glass with an embarrassed cough.

"And it certainly tells ALL, all right!" roared the Scarecrow, pushing
back his chair. "Congratulations, my dear Mr. Diggs!"

"Look out! Be careful! Don't you point that thing at me! _Please_
don't!" The big lion simply cowered in his chair, and no wonder he felt
nervous. There had been some pretty savage incidents in that old lion's
life before he met Dorothy and came to live in the Emerald City as a
civilized citizen of Oz. And the thought of the tell-all-escope telling
all it knew about him made the Cowardly Lion positively shudder. But
the others were so busy examining the Wizard's spy glass, they did not
even notice the lion's terrific agitation.

"You know, a thing like that would be of great value to a traveller,"
remarked Nick Chopper, tapping the tell-all-escope thoughtfully with
his tin fingers.

"That's just what I figured," grinned the Wizard, thrusting the
instrument into his pocket. "And, speaking of travelling, I have
something else to show you!"

Clapping on his high hat, Ozma's Chief Magician hastened over to the
door that opened on the garden, signalling for the others to come
along.

Having had experience with inventors before, Dorothy and Jellia
snatched up coats, Dorothy, her own, and Jellia, one of the Wizard's.
Then, followed by the rest of the party, they stepped out into the
sparkling, starlit evening. The Soldier with Green Whiskers, who had
stopped to eat the last pickle in the dish and stuff an extra piece of
cake in his pocket, came last of all. At each step he gave a little
groan, for--all by himself--the soldier had eaten enough for a whole
army. But then, he was a whole army; he was every single man, private,
corporal, captain, major, colonel and general in the entire fighting
force of Oz.

Anxious to exhibit his latest treasure, the Wizard walked rapidly
along, leading the little party across the park, through the Emerald
City, out of the Gates and into the thick woodland beyond.

"Where _do_ you suppose he is taking us?" shivered Jellia, thinking
longingly of the cozy fire back in the laboratory.

"No knowing," giggled the Scarecrow. "But a-hunting we shall go!
A-hunting we shall go! Ta-Ta-Ta-Ta-Ta-Ta-Ta-TAH!" Blowing an imaginary
horn, the Scarecrow pretended to gallop and fell flat on his face, his
legs never being what you really could call reliable.

"Sh--hh!" whispered the Wizard, looking back warningly as the Tin
Woodman jerked the straw man to his feet. "What I am about to show you
has been seen by no one in Oz except my faithful assistants! So please
be more quiet!"

"You mean it's a secret?" whispered Dorothy, skipping forward to catch
up with the Wizard and linking her arm through his.

"Two secrets!" confided Ozma's Chief Magician mysteriously. Pushing
impatiently through the last fringe of trees, the group stepped into a
moonlit clearing.



CHAPTER 3

Latest Invention of the Wizard of Oz


"Ooooooh! A conservatory!" murmured Jellia, blinking at the shining
glass structure that occupied the entire treeless space.

"A barn, if you ask me!" guessed the Scarecrow. "But why build it of
glass, Mr. Wiz?"

"Because glass is the latest and lightest building material known. But
this is no barn, as you'll soon discover." Handing his flashlight to
Dorothy, the Wizard slid back the vast doors, switched on the lights
and stood back, his hands in his pockets, as the little group in
silence and astonishment viewed the two shining planes housed as snugly
as giant butterflys in a glass cocoon.

"Airplanes!" exclaimed Dorothy, when she found her voice at last.

"No, Ozoplanes," corrected the Wizard, trying to keep the excitement
out of his voice. "Somewhat like the planes in America, but more
powerful, for remember, my dear, I had not only the scientific
knowledge of aeronautics available to mortals, but the scientific
knowledge of magic to help me as well!"

"Well!" echoed the Tin Woodman, gazing approvingly at the Wizard's
planes, which, except for their silver wings, might have been huge,
silver-and-glass torpedoes.

"Not for the army, I hope," exclaimed the Soldier, clutching his
whiskers nervously. Being the entire army himself, and quite
old-fashioned and set in his ways, the Soldier felt sure he never could
pilot these gleaming airplanes.

"Oh, No! No! NO!" The Wizard frowned at the mere thought of war. "These
are pleasure planes for travelling and exploring the unknown regions
of the upper air. As soon as Ozma returns from the South, I plan to
present them both to our illustrious young Ruler and arrange for her to
make the first triumphant flight."

"But there are two," said Dorothy a little wistfully. She had hoped to
make the first flight with the Wizard, herself.

"Of course, of course!" he answered in a matter-of-fact way. "Most
experimental flights fail because they depend on _one_ ship. We shall
have two!"

"We?" Dorothy brightened up considerably at the Wizard's plural.

"Yes, we," repeated the Wizard, turning round to smile at the little
girl. "Counting Ozma and those of us here, there will be eight
passengers--four for each plane."

"Now please don't bother about me!" begged the Cowardly Lion, his tail
dragging on the ground at the very thought of flying. "I'd not think of
troubling you. Besides, I'm much too heavy for flying."

"Not at all, not at all," the Wizard reassured him with a wink. "I
have made exact calculations about weight, old fellow, and you and the
Scarecrow balance each other nicely. So don't worry about that."

"Oh, I'm not worrying about _that_!" rumbled the lion, rearing up on
his hind legs to read the names outlined in emeralds on the luminous
sides of the Wizard's ships.

"Ozpril and Oztober!" The lion spoke in a slightly trembling roar.
"Mmmn! Mmmnnnnmn! Kerumph!"

"Why, those are beautiful names," exclaimed Dorothy, tilting back her
head to spell them out for herself.

"I thought they were rather neat," said the Wizard complacently.
"Suitable too, one to rise and one to fall!" Expressively he lifted an
arm and let it fall limply to his side.

"To--to fall?" quavered the lion, dropping to all fours.

"Oh, just in a figurative way, of course." The Wizard shrugged his
shoulders. "You will observe," he went on enthusiastically, "that these
planes need no runway or special track to take off. They really are
balloonaplanes. Note those round packets on the top of the fusilage."
The lion blinked rapidly, for he had no idea that fusilage meant
the body of the plane, but the others nodded quite knowingly. "Well
those," declared the inventor proudly "are my own, patented, balloon
attachments. At the touch of a button, the wings are depressed and the
balloon inflated with a magic gas, lighter than helium, that carries
the ship as high and as far as desired. Then the balloon can be
deflated and the Ozoplane can continue under its own power. But you
will readily see how my ship, with its balloon attachment, has twice
the altitude possibilities of an ordinary airplane. Hah! We shall fly
_higher_ than higher!" boasted the little Wizard, happily.

"Oh, quite!" agreed the Tin Woodman, mounting the ladder of the
Oztober, the Soldier with Green Whiskers pressing nervously at his
heels.

"But how will you move them out of here?" inquired the Scarecrow,
taking off his hat and scratching his cotton head.

"Oh, as to that--" The Wizard pulled a switch just behind him,
whereupon the top of the glass airdrome lifted, like the lid of an
enormous jewel box.

"Hmmmmn! I see!" The Scarecrow slapped his knee and grinned with
appreciation. "Off with the roof! Up with the planes!"

"Exactly!" Seizing the Straw Man's arm, the Wizard urged him toward
the ladder of the Ozpril, Dorothy skipping cheerfully behind them.
After Dorothy plodded the Cowardly Lion, talking to himself in anxious
whispers and growls.

"Be sure not to touch anything over there," called the Wizard, as Nick
and the Soldier with Green Whiskers disappeared into the cabin of the
other plane.

"I'll keep an eye on them," promised Jellia, tripping up the ladder as
lightly as a feather. "Don't give us a thought, Wiz, dear."

"Jellia's so funny!" laughed Dorothy.

"Sensible, too," added the Wizard, helping the little girl over the
high door sill and into the plane. While he and the Scarecrow went
forward to examine the steering gear, Dorothy looked delightedly 'round
the snug little cabin. There were four seats upholstered in pale, green
leather, along one side. The whole top was of thick glass, through
which she could distinctly see the moon and stars winking down at
her. The side walls of the Ozpril were of a silvery grey, with all
trimmings in green. At the back was a small dinette, with chairs and
table locked to the floors as they are on sea-going vessels. A cabinet
full of china, a wall full of charts, a book case full of books and a
tiny kitchen and dressing room, completed the equipment.

"It's just as cozy as a little house," sighed Dorothy contentedly, as
the Cowardly Lion, having glanced round in a discouraged way, seated
himself in one of the green chairs and pressed his nose against the
round window pane. "Won't we have fun, Liony, when we really get off?"

"_Getting off_ will be the best fun of all," sniffed the lion, glancing
briefly at the door. The Lion, as you probably have guessed, felt no
enthusiasm for the trip. Once, much against his will, he had been
carried to an island in the sky, and that experience had been more than
enough. In his own mind he already had decided not to accompany the
Wizard on his proposed flight. Yessir, when the party assembled for the
trip he would just turn up missing and manage to stay behind. Immensely
relieved by this secret decision, he ambled forward.

"You will notice," the Wizard was pointing out briskly, "that I have
done away with all controls and levers. On this board are all the
buttons necessary to operate the ship."

"Looks like an organ," observed Dorothy, squinting at the bright array
of buttons set in the top of the table within easy reach of the first
seat. "Must you play all those stops and starters to guide the plane?"

"Not quite all," smiled the Wizard, "but if we wished to start, I'd
first press this green button to depress the wings and inflate our
balloon. Next, I'd push the button marked 'up' and, if I decided to go
North, this 'North' button, as well. Then I'd use the wheel to hold her
steady, and if I preferred to go up in a gradual way, I'd push this
button marked 'zig.'"

"And I suppose if you saw something interesting, or wished to dodge
a mountain, you'd 'zag,'" suggested the Scarecrow, indicating the
"zag" button with his pudgy finger. "Or you could 'spin,' 'spiral' or
'level-off'--"

"Stop! Stop!" panted the Cowardly Lion, clapping his paw to one eye,
"all this up-zig and down-zig makes me positively giddy!"

"It does seem a little complicated," said Dorothy, looking dubiously at
the Wizard's button-board.

"Why, it's perfectly simple!" the Wizard assured her brightly. "All you
have to do is touch the right buttons at the right time!"

"But--"

The Scarecrow, who had been about to ask another question, whirled
round on one heel, and flopped on his back in the aisle. The Cowardly
Lion skidded rapidly past, to wedge under the little dining table
while Dorothy and the Wizard clung to the steering board to keep from
falling. For--a terrific roar like the tearing of a gigantic sheet
had made the Ozpril tremble like a leaf. There came a sudden flash of
silver smoke, and the gradual dying away of all sound. Then--a complete
and ominous silence.

"WHAT? WHAT!!! Why, it's _gone_!" shouted the Wizard, racing over
to the door and staring amazedly at the empty space occupied a moment
before by the Oztober. Then he glanced up into the starlit expanse of
sky.

"Gone?" Creeping on hands and knees, the Scarecrow peered out to see
for himself. "Why, what right have they to go off like that?" he
demanded, pulling himself up by the door jam. "April comes before
October and goes before October, too. Fall before spring--why, that's
ridiculous! The Ozpril should have led off!"

"Oh, what will become of them?" cried Dorothy in distress, clasping her
hands anxiously. "I'm sure it was a dreadful mistake."

"Mistake!" moaned the Wizard, pushing back his high hat. "Worse than
that, Dorothy! Why, everything is ruined! Here they've gone off
before I even had a chance to _show_ the plane to Ozma. They have no
directions, no supplies; they'll crash, smash or wreck themselves. I
intended to teach Nick Chopper to navigate the plane before we started!"

"But can't we stop them? Can't we go after them?" exclaimed Dorothy,
clutching the Wizard's coat tails.

"Go after them?--Yes! that's the idea, go after them! Of course!"
panted the Wizard, falling over the Cowardly Lion who was making a
stream-lion for the door.

"I was just going back for my over-shoes," wheezed the lion, slinking
rather guiltily into his seat at the Wizard's reproachful glance.

"Stay where you are!" the Wizard directed sharply. "Now then,
steady--everybody steady! Shut that door, Scarecrow, we are about to
ascend." The Wizard bent over the steering board to touch the green
button that would inflate the Ozpril's balloon. "But I never expected
to go without my black bag of magic, an extra vest, or even my bottle
of hair tonic."

"Haven't you any magic at all?" called Dorothy, as the Ozpril began to
vibrate and tremble from the rush of gas into its balloon.

"A little, a little," confessed the Wizard, pressing the buttons marked
"Up" and "South". "Here, Dorothy, take the tell-all-escope and see if
you can catch a glimpse of the Oztober when we are aloft." Grasping the
wheel, the Wizard settled grimly into the pilot's seat. Dorothy had
just time to clutch the tell-all-escope before the Ozpril rose straight
into the air. Lifted and borne by its buoyant gas bag, the graceful
ship pointed toward the stars.



CHAPTER 4

First Flight of the Oztober


Now the start of the Oztober had been nothing like the orderly take-off
of the Ozpril. The first hint Jellia had of their departure was when a
china coffee pot from the open china closet into which she was looking
with great interest, hit her a sharp clip on the chin. Next moment she
was rolling round on the floor of the cabin, dodging all the rest of
the green dishes.

"Oh! Oh! Dishes awful!" choked poor Jellia Jam, not even realizing she
was making a pun.

"Stop!" yelled the Tin Woodman, turning a complete somersault and
coming down on his funnel with one leg hooked through the luggage rack.
"Stop! Who did that?"

"Pickles!" moaned a faint voice from the forward end of the cabin, "Oh,
those pickles!" And that was probably as correct an answer as any to
Nick's indignant question. Even upside down as he was, and subject to
the fierce rocketing of the plane, the Tin Woodman could see a tall,
green figure sprawled across the navigator's table. As he had bent
over to examine the Oztober's steering apparatus, the Soldier with
Green Whiskers had been taken with a violent cramp from the twenty-nine
pickles he had eaten at the party. Falling heavily on the board he had
pushed down ten of the Wizard's bright colored buttons. Following the
directions of all ten, one after the other, the Oztober had exploded
into the air and now, whistling and whirling like a comet bound for
Mars, was charging into the Heavens.

Jellia Jam was too bruised and shaken to do anything but cling to
the side of one of the seats. The Soldier, after his head had been
whacked down three times on the board had lapsed into complete and
utter silence. Only Nick managed to preserve a semblance of his usual
calm and composure. Though severely dented by the plane's take-off,
the Tin Woodman, being of metal, felt no pain. Nor was he subject
to the giddiness that assailed ordinary flesh and bone bodies under
such trying conditions. Even standing on his head did not greatly
inconvenience him, and after the first dreadful shock, he began to
perceive a certain order and rhythm in their flight. This was not
strange.

The Soldier's fall had pressed down the button to inflate the Oztober's
balloon, the "Up" and the "South" buttons, the "fast," "spin,"
"spiral," "zig," "zag," "slow" and "circle" buttons as well. So first,
the Oztober would shoot up, then it would go into a fast spin, and
spiral. The zigs and zags were a little less terrible, and on one of
the slow circles, the Tin Woodman managed to extricate his foot from
the luggage rack. Clattering full length in the aisle, he lay still,
till the next slow circle. Then, leaping to his feet, he rushed forward
and pulled the soldier off the steering board. He had just time to prop
the unconscious army into the third chair, and fall into the pilot's
seat himself, when the Oztober went into another fast spin and spiral.
This rather upset Nick.

He had taken a hasty look at the navigator's table when he entered
the ship and then, more interested in the metal of which the plane
was constructed, had gone tapping about, testing it with his tin
knuckles--intending to return to the steering gear later. He naturally
had supposed that when he pulled the soldier off the board the plane
would slow down or change its course. But nothing of the kind happened.
All the buttons the soldier had fallen on stayed down. Grasping the
wheel, Nick was relieved to find he could steady the Oztober a bit in
this way. Holding to it with one hand, he tried to pull out the "spin"
and "spiral" buttons with the other. But even his strong tin fingers
could not budge them. Next, he glanced frantically over the board for
a "stop" or a "down" button, but the "down" button when he found it,
filled him with apprehension. If they shot down at the speed they were
hurling upward, the plane most certainly would be wrecked. No, decided
Nick, drawing his fingers hastily back from the "down" button--they
were much safer in the air until he learned a little more about flying,
and he'd just have to hang on till he discovered how the Ozoplane
worked.

Grasping the wheel resignedly in both hands, he glanced back to see how
Jellia was faring. Jellia was sitting dizzily in the middle of the
aisle. But she was so encouraged to see Nick actually at the wheel,
that she made her way to him and hung firmly to the arm of his chair.
Just then, the Oztober whirled into its twentieth spin and spiral, and
Jellia--dislodged from the chair--caught at the steering table to save
herself from falling.

"Oh, now you've done it!" gasped Nick, as the Oztober gave a wicked
lurch. "Oh, now--" His voice trailed off into a hoarse squeak, for, as
abruptly as it had started, the plane stopped, and, held aloft by its
still buoyant balloon, swung easily to and fro in the faint wind that
stirred above the clouds. "Say! how did you _do_ it?" Letting go the
wheel, the Tin Woodman seized Jellia by the shoulders.

"What?" panted Jellia. "What did I do?"

"Why, you saved the ship. You stopped her. See, all the buttons are up
again!" Removing Jellia's clutching fingers gently from the table top,
Nick discovered a flat bar on the under side of the board. As soon as
Jellia pressed the bar, all the buttons had popped back to their normal
position. "So THAT'S it!" exclaimed Nick, rubbing his tin forehead
anxiously. "Each time you want to change the course, you press this bar
and then begin all over again."

"But now we're sinking," groaned Jellia. And sinking herself, into the
seat back of Nick, she stared at him with round, desperate eyes.

"Sinking, are we? Well, I'll soon put a stop to _that_!" Pouncing on
the green button to inflate the Oztober's gas bag, Nick pressed it
quickly, for of course, as soon as Jellia had touched the bar, the
buttons all had sprung up and the magic gas had begun to seep out of
the plane's balloon attachment. As it again filled and became taut, the
slow downward drift of the ship ceased, and again it hung motionless
between a cloud and a star. "Now!" breathed the Tin Woodman eyeing the
button board with grim purpose and determination, "Now we can take our
time and start off right."

"Oh, Nick! Must we go through all that again?" Jellia began to cry
softly, drying her eyes on the sash of her party dress. "Oh, Nick, I
never thought flying would be like this. Please can't we just stay as
we are?"

"Certainly not," said the Tin Woodman briskly. "Hanging 'round the sky
is dangerous. We might be hit by a shooting star or even by a meteor.
Now, just trust yourself to me, my dear Jellia. Remember I am the
Emperor of the East!" Nick smote his tin chest a resounding blow. "And
after ruling the Winkies all these years, I surely can handle one small
plane!"

Reassuring himself, if not Jellia, the Tin Woodman searched the array
of buttons for one marked "slow." After he had found it, he slowly
began to map his course. He would continue to fly up, for a time. Next
he would take a horizontal direction until he grew more accustomed to
piloting the Ozoplane. Then, as night passed and the sun rose, he would
zig and zag slowly downward and make a safe landing near the Emerald
City.

The Soldier with Green Whiskers had regained consciousness, only to
fall at once into a heavy slumber. His snores blended nicely with
Jellia's sobs, as Nick Chopper pushed the "up," the "South" and the
"slow" buttons. Braced for a new shock, Jellia grasped the arms of her
seat. But this time the Oztober soared gently and gracefully aloft,
the motion of the plane so smooth and pleasant, Ozma's little Maid in
Waiting soon forgot all her fears. Relaxing against the soft green
cushions, she, too, fell asleep. This left only Nick awake and alert.
But if the Wizard had searched all over Oz, he could not have found
a better pilot than the Tin Woodman. Being practically tireless and
requiring neither food nor rest, he could keep his place at the wheel
for days if necessary. Delighted at the way the Oztober responded
to his clever manipulation of the wheel and buttons, he flew up and
up and on and on, scarcely realizing the distance he was putting
between himself and Oz. Glancing out the round window beside him, Nick
viewed the starry expanse of the upper air with growing interest and
enthusiasm. Sometimes he was almost tempted to waken Jellia to point
out the splendid cloud mountains and cities they were passing. As he
swept along, the sky turned from deep blue to grey and was now suffused
with the rainbow tints of early morning. Switching off the lights, the
Tin Woodman slightly changed his course.

"I really need a lot more practice before I go back or try to make a
safe landing," he observed softly to himself. "It never would do to
crack up a valuable ship like this." But the truth of the matter was,
the Tin Woodman did not wish to turn back. And after all--who was to
insist? The Soldier and Jellia still slept on, and far ahead, between a
bank of fog and an arch of platinum sun rays, loomed a long, lavender
crescent. Nick even fancied he could see people moving about its
glittering surface.

"A new world!" gloated the Tin Woodman, setting his funnel at a more
daring angle. If this were so, he would be its discoverer. Not only
that, but he could claim it for Ozma and win for himself as much honor
and renown as Samuel Salt, the Royal Explorer of Oz. "Even if it's not
inhabited, it would be a good place to practice landing," reflected
Nick happily. So again he pressed the black bar, touched the button to
deflate the Oztober's balloon and raise the wings. For now he wished
to fly horizontally, and the wings would be faster than the gas bag.
Next, touching the "straight-on" and "faster" buttons, and twirling the
wheel expertly, he headed the ship straight for the tip of the lavender
island.



CHAPTER 5

The Spikers


Nick waited until he was well over the crescent before he attempted to
land. As he flew along he planned exactly how he would go about it and
everything worked out as planned, except for one thing. The "slow,"
the "zig" and the "down" buttons brought the Oztober within a foot of
the glittering air Isle, but the "stop" button functioned a bit late.
Instead of stopping on the surface, the plane dropped clear through
with a crash like the smashing of a thousand thin tumblers. Peering up
through a spray of splinters, the Tin Woodman found he had knocked a
jagged hole in the Crescent.

"Attention! Shoulder arms! Company, fall in!" yelled the Soldier with
Green Whiskers. Jolted completely awake, he sprang up in the aisle,
aiming his gun at the ceiling.

"Yes? Yes! Coming, your Majesty!" Jellia, mistaking the musical crash
for the ringing of Ozma's morning bell, rolled sleepily out of her seat
and started down the aisle after the Soldier.

"Now, now--don't be alarmed," remarked Nick Chopper. "I was just trying
to land."

"Land? Where is it? Quick! Let me out of here!" panted Jellia Jam,
remembering all in a rush where she was, and the dreadful experiences
of the night before.

"I see no land," said the Soldier pressing his nose against one of the
windows.

"Well, it certainly looked like land!" The Tin Woodman spoke in a
slightly exasperated voice. The Oztober, still quivering from its
impact with the island, was hanging motionless about ten feet below the
Crescent. "Can't tell about these Sky Countries till you try them."

"I'll bet it's nothing but a cake of ice," shivered Jellia, hugging
herself to keep warm. "Being of tin, I don't suppose you'd notice it
was freezing! I wonder if that stove lights?"

"Ice?" meditated Nick, as Jellia hurried toward the back of the cabin.
"Why, I do believe you are right, my dear. In the upper stratas the air
does become colder. We probably cracked through a frozen cloud!"

Jellia, turning all the switches on the stove, paid little attention to
Nick's scientific discourse. She was too busy warming herself over the
glowing burners.

"If we just had something to cook," sighed the little Oz maid, staring
wistfully into the cupboard beside the stove. But the shelves were
perfectly empty. Reflecting that the Wizard had not had time to stock
up for the flight, Jellia, who was an orderly little soul, began
picking up the china that had broken when it fell from the cabinet the
night before. Rather pompously, the Soldier with Green Whiskers began
to help her.

"Will someone kindly explain what we are doing, flying around in this
dangerous and haphazard manner?" he inquired loftily. "I understood
we were to wait for Ozma's return before we made a trial flight! And
really, you know, I'm needed at home to guard the castle."

"Oh, indeed!" sniffed Jellia. "And who do you suppose started us off,
Mr. Whiskers. Nobody but yourself. A fine pickle you put us in when
you fell on that steering board."

"I?" The Soldier straightened up, aghast.

"Yes, YOU!" declared Jellia. "You and your pickles." Sweeping the rest
of the broken plates into her skirt, she marched to the end of the
cabin and dumped them into the big basket beside the water cooler.
"Goodness knows whether we shall ever get back," she sighed, sinking
despondently into the last seat and staring out the window.

"But we're backing now," muttered the Soldier. This was quite true,
for Nick, to avoid hitting the crescent of ice again, was maneuvering
the plane from beneath; then, feeling it might be dangerous to go any
higher, he began slowly and cautiously to descend. Neither he nor
Jellia paid any more attention to the Soldier with Green Whiskers, who
glanced uncomfortably from one to the other. After a little silence he
remarked in a hollow voice: "I shall consider myself under arrest. I
shall walk guard for two hours without a pause for rest or rations!"

"Oh, don't be a goose!" giggled Jellia. "You'll probably go without
rations because there aren't any. But what good will walking guard do?"

"As Commander-in-Chief, I have sentenced myself to walk guard. As
a first class Private in the Army of Oz, I shall carry out this
sentence," insisted the Soldier. "Discipline must be maintained!"
Hoisting his old fashioned blunder-buss to his shoulder, he began
tramping stiffly up and down the short aisle of the cabin.

Born in a small Munchkin village to a family named Battles who had
promptly christened him Wantowin, he had applied as soon as he was
grown for a position in the army of Oz. The Wizard, then Supreme Ruler
of the Kingdom, impressed by the Soldier's height and long green
whiskers, had immediately hired him. Later he had been promoted by Ozma
to fill the position of the entire staff and army of Oz. Wantowin had
never been much of a fighter, but as war in Oz is practically outlawed,
and victories usually won by magic, he had got on very well. At his
tenth about-face, Wantowin suddenly recalled the piece of cake he had
stuffed into his pocket the night before, and generously offered it to
Jellia.

"Oh, Wanny, how wonderful!" To the famished girl, the cake tasted
even better than it had at the Wizard's party. Breaking it in half,
she tried to force the soldier to eat a piece, but raising his hand
sternly, Wantowin continued his self-imposed sentence. Seeing argument
was useless, Jellia ate her own share and put the other half in the
cupboard for the soldier's supper.

The plane still was slanting smoothly downward. After oiling all of
Nick's joints and thinking how fortunate it was they had brought along
the oil can, Jellia began marching up and down behind the Soldier,
examining the pictures and charts on the wall as she went along.
The cake and a long drink of water from the cooler had done much to
restore her courage and cheerfulness, and an occasional glance out
the window was both pleasant and reassuring. The Oztober was dropping
through fluffs and puffs of creamy cloud. "Just like whipped cream on
strawberries--if we had any strawberries!" mused Jellia, withdrawing
her gaze reluctantly from the window and resuming her march. "Oh, Nick,
here are some directions!" she cried suddenly, stopping before a finely
printed notice beside the water cooler.

"Directions?" The Tin Woodman looked round rather annoyed. He felt he
had almost mastered the mechanism of the Ozoplane and did not care
to start a new system. But the directions that Jellia read off had
nothing to do with the navigation of the plane. They were rules for
the behavior of passengers in the strat. "The air in this cabin has
been magically treated," stated the notice. "So long as the windows and
doors are closed, riders may safely pass through the highest stratas.
On debarking, however, it would be well to don my patent protective air
helmets, see chest beneath second seat, or to take one, for each mile
up, of my elutherated altitude pills, from the recess in the table leg."

Jellia, whose bump of curiosity was larger than most, lost no time
hunting for the helmets. Dragging the chest from beneath the second
seat and paying no attention to the marching soldier, who stepped over
her each time he passed, she impatiently lifted the lid. The four
helmets in the chest were of some pliant, glassy material resembling
cellophane. They belted in at the waist and after holding one up for
Nick's inspection, Jellia put them back and returned the chest to its
place.

"Now _which_ leg of _which_ table?" pondered the little Maid in
Waiting, her mind turning to the altitude pills.

"Oh, what does it matter?" grinned the Tin Woodman as Jellia crawled
under the navigator's table and began tapping its legs one after the
other. "You'll soon be on solid earth and won't need altitude pills."
Nick had made up his mind to bring the Oztober down to a landing
wherever they happened to be. But Jellia scarcely heard him for at
that moment she had discovered a small hook on one of the front legs of
the table. Pulling it down, she disclosed a tall, triangular bottle in
the hollow center. The pills were triangular too, and of every color in
the rainbow.

"Take one after each mile," read Jellia, uncorking the bottle and
taking a good sniff. The pills smelled as good as they looked and she
was about to sample one, when the Soldier with Green Whiskers gave a
hoarse scream and such a leap that his head hit the ceiling.

"_Now_ what's the matter?" demanded Nick Chopper, turning around
stiffly, while Jellia hastily corked the bottle, shoved it back into
the tableleg and crawled into the aisle.

"NICK!" shrieked poor Jellia. "What is it? What are they? Oh, Ozma! Oh,
Wizard! Oh, help! HELP!"

And well might Jellia scream, for swarming round the tail of the
Oztober came a perfect horde of iridescent monsters. In shape each
resembled an octopus, but instead of arms, they had long, horny spikes
and spines. Pressing close to the plane they ogled at the shivering
passengers as if they were fish in some strange aquarium. Then,
evidently angered at what they saw, they began hurling and banging
themselves against the sides of the Oztober till it sounded like
the rattle of machine guns. At this juncture, I am sorry to report,
Wantowin Battles, after sounding a shrill retreat on the bugle attached
to his belt, rushed into the dressing room and wrapped himself in the
shower curtain.

Nick Chopper, who already loved the Wizard's ship as if it were his
own, shuddered as each spike struck the shining metal. Then, deciding
that flight was the better part of valor, he hastily changed course,
zooming up and up, faster and faster and FASTER! For perhaps a thousand
feet the goggle-eyed monsters pursued them, but at last, the air grew
too thin and rare for the spikers and one by one they fell away. Their
horrid squeals and screeches still came faintly to the three voyagers,
and Jellia ran quickly to the back window to stare down after them.

"Why, I never knew there were wild animals in the air," stuttered
Jellia, blinking her eyes rapidly.

"Now, I wouldn't exactly call them wild animals," said Nick
argumentatively, twisting his neck from side to side to be sure he was
not rusting.

"Well, they certainly weren't birds!" declared Jellia indignantly. "And
how did they fly without wings? Come on out, Soldier, they're gone."

"Ah, so we have won?" Jauntily the Soldier stepped out of the dressing
room and resumed his marching. "Give me credit for sounding the
retreat, comrades," he observed cheerfully. Jellia sniffed, and Nick
Chopper said nothing.

"What are we going to do now?" inquired the little Oz Maid, going over
to stand by the wheel. "How can we ever fly down with those awful
creatures below?"

"We'll just travel horizontally till we are out of their area," Nick
told her, complacently. "But for a while, anyway, we'll go up. After
all, one has to go up to come down, you know. And when we do come
down--" Nick gave a satisfied little nod, "it will be in a safe spot
and far from those spiky airimals."

"So that's what they are! But how did you know?" Jellia looked
admiringly at the Tin Woodman.

"Oh, it just came to me," admitted Nick, with a modest cough. "Beasts
of the air must have names, I suppose. Make a note of those monsters,
will you Wantowin?"

"I'm writing them up in my little green book now," mumbled the Soldier,
who was, in fact, scribbling away hastily as he tramped up and down.
"I've made a sketch of one, too."

"Good!--although I didn't suppose you'd looked at them long enough
for that!" said Nick, a bit sarcastically. He glanced hastily at the
page the soldier held before his nose. Then, deciding they had flown
high enough, he pointed the Oztober toward the east and after an hour's
leisurely flying, again began a slow and cautious descent.

"I do wonder where we'll land?" mused Jellia, trying to pierce with her
bright eyes the bank of fog that lay beneath.

"Somewhere in the Quadling Country, I should judge," answered Nick,
twirling the wheel deftly to the right. "And when we do--" At that
instant, the Soldier with Green Whiskers let out another panicky
squawk.

"Climb! Climb!" he panted, running up and down the aisle so fast he
almost ran himself down on the about-faces. "We're ambushed, comrades!
Fire in the fog! Land on the stern!"

"Oh, tin cups and canyons!" rasped Nick Chopper, losing his temper at
last. "If this keeps up, how are we ever to get down? Hammer and tong
it! Something's always getting in the way. WILL you stop that silly
marching?" he yelled, snatching at the Soldier's sleeve as he raced by.

"HALT!" quavered Wantowin. Instantly obeying his own command, he stood
trembling beside the navigator's table as Nick peered desperately down
through the fog.



CHAPTER 6

Strut of the Strat


"What is it, Hippenscop?" Strutoovious the Seventh looked up
impatiently as his first and fastest messenger came to a panting halt
under the Imperial Canopy. Instead of answering, Hippenscop, his
chest heaving and his eyes bulging, made a wordless gesture over his
shoulder. Then, catching his foot in the royal boot-scraper, he fell
violently up the steps of the dais. This was not unusual, for anyone
who falls in Stratovania, falls up instead of down. Rather relieved to
find himself before the throne at last, Hippenscop scrambled to his
feet. Sucking in his breath he announced hoarsely:

"I beg to report a strange and sonorbious monster falling through the
fog over Half Moon Lake."

"Are you sure it is not a Zoomer?" Throwing down the morning star which
he had been reading, Strutoovious stared coldly at the messenger.

"Ho, no! Ho, NO!" Hippenscop shook his head positively. "It has wings
and a tail, your Strajesty. Wings, a tail and seven eyes! But HARK!!"
The menacing whirr and sputter following the messenger's speech made
even the Ruler of all the Stratovanians leap off his throne. Striding
rapidly after the terrified servitor, Strut, followed by half the
inhabitants of his irradiant Tip-toposphere, reached the shores of Half
Moon Lake.

"Skydragon!" he announced, after a brief glance at the gleaming shape
drifting down through the fog. "Quick Hippen! Summon the Royal Blowmen!
Back, stand back, you witless woffs! Do you wish to be crushed and
eaten? Yon monster will alight on the North shore any moonite now!" At
Strut's loud warning, half of his subjects took to their heels while
the rest scurried round to the South side of the lake, every head
turned up toward the mysterious dragon.

Only, of course, it was not a dragon. It was the silver-bodied
Oztober--inside of which the agitation was almost as great as the alarm
of the Airlanders below.

"How long have we? How long'll it be before we land?" gulped Jellia.
Remembering the Wizard's instructions, she jerked out the box of air
helmets and next made a dive under the navigator's table. "Here, take
one--two--three. Oh, how many shall we take?" groaned the little Oz
Maid, holding up the bottle of altitude pills. "'One, after each mile
up,' but how many miles have we come?"

"One hundred and one thousand, eight hundred and sixty-seven feet!"
mumbled the Soldier with Green Whiskers, reading the figures from a
shining metal hypsometer clamped to the navigator's table. "All we have
to do is figure how many feet in a mile."

"Fifty-two hundred and some," puffed Nick, working away desperately
at his wheel and buttons to bring the Oztober down without crashing.
"Oh, take twenty!" he directed sharply, as Jellia and the Soldier stood
regarding him with open mouths. It was no time, as Jellia later told
Ozma, to be doing long divisions. With trembling fingers she counted
out twenty pills for the Soldier with Green Whiskers. Then, popping
twenty into her own mouth and crunching them desperately between her
teeth, she handed the bottle to Nick Chopper.

"No, No! None for me!" The Tin Woodman waved the bottle impatiently
aside. "High altitude won't injure my metal, but keep this oil can
handy, Jellia, and whatever happens, don't let me rust!" Choking on
the pills which were dry and rather bitter, Jellia nodded earnestly.
Tucking the oil can into the little bag that hung from her wrist, she
began nervously dragging on her air helmet. Wantowin Battles already
had adjusted his, and swallowed his pills. Now, peering out one of the
round windows, he trembled so violently all his weapons rattled and
clanked to the dismal tune of his fright.

"Th--thousands of them!" quavered the Soldier. "What kind of place is
this, anyway! It's so bright it hurts my eyes. Oh, I just know there'll
be fighting! Look, I'd far better stay in the cabin, as someone must
guard the plane!"

"But not YOU!" Nick Chopper spoke with great firmness. Then, spinning
the wheel rapidly and gauging to a nicety the distance between the ship
and the sparkling airosphere, he touched the "down" and "stop" buttons
simultaneously. Coasting down the last little hill of wind, the Oztober
came to a gentle and complete stop on the shore of a rainbow-hued body
of water.

"Now, now! Take your time," cautioned the Tin Woodman, as Jellia
started impulsively toward the door. Pulling off one of the cushion
covers Nick began polishing himself vigorously. As the discoverer of
this new and astonishing airland, he wished to make a good impression.
From what he had seen, it was a country well worth claiming for Ozma
of Oz. "Here, let me go first," he said, tossing aside the cushion
cover. "Keep close to me, Jellia, and Soldier--under no circumstances
are you to retreat unless I give the signal. Great Tinhoppers, what was
_that_?" A long wail rather like the squall of a cat suddenly had rent
the quiet air of the cabin.

"Stowaway!" cried Jellia, as another unmistakable meough followed the
first. "Sounds like Dorothy's cat." But it was not Eureka that Jellia
pulled from behind the second seat cushion. It was a small, black
kit-bag. The green eyes turned off and on like electric lights, and the
tail curved over the back to form a handle. Round its neck hung a green
placard:

    "_This Kit-Bag of Magic to be used
      Only in cases of extreme emergency.
    To open pull the tail.--WIZ._"

"Well, Geewhiz--is this an emergency?" Jellia held the bag out,
nervously.

"Er--YES!" declared Nick Chopper after a second glance out of the
window. "Bring it along! And remember--you have nothing to fear! I, the
Emperor of all the Winkies, am with you. With kind words and courteous
gestures we will win the friendship and allegiance of these strange
airlanders for Ozma of Oz."

Jellia knew Nick's red plush heart, given him by the Wizard, was the
kindest in all Oz. Nevertheless she took a firmer hold on the kit
bag, and only after assuring herself that Wantowin had his saber and
blunder-buss did she follow the Tin Woodman down the Oztober's ladder.

There was a complete and astonished silence as the three Ozians stepped
from the plane. And it must be confessed, Jellia and the Soldier in
their transparent helmets, and the Tin Woodman without a helmet,
were strange enough to startle any airbody. So it's no wonder the
Stratovanians were as amazed at the appearance of the travellers, as
the travellers were amazed at the Stratovanians. Separated only by
the waters of Half Moon Lake, they confronted each other with growing
alarm. Strut, who had expected this dragon to roar, spurt flames and
then rush forward to attack them, hardly knew what to do when these
three curious beings stepped from the monster's interior. Noting with
alarm that his Blowmen had not yet arrived, he determined to hold the
invaders in conversation, if possible.

So, with his head and chest high, and walking with the queer, strutting
gait that characterized all of the dwellers in Stratovania, he advanced
slowly around the edge of Half Moon Lake. A few paces behind strutted
the rest of his retainers. Just as slowly, Nick Chopper and his two
companions advanced to meet them.

The Airlanders were a head taller than even the Tin Woodman. Their hair
grew straight up on end, sparkling and crackling with electricity in
a really terrifying manner. Their eyes were star shaped and shaded by
long, silver lashes, the noses and mouths were straight and firm, the
foreheads transparent. Some shone as from a hidden sun, while across
the brows of others tiny black clouds chased one another in rapid
succession. Watching their foreheads would be a good way, decided
Jellia Jam, to find out whether they were pleased or angry. Strut
and his subjects wore belted tunics of some iridescent, rainbow-hued
material, and silver sandals laced to the knee.

From the ears of the men hung huge, crescent pendants, while from those
of the women, star earrings danced and dangled. Each Stratovanian
carried a tall staff, tipped with wings. Beyond, Jellia saw a country
of such dazzling beauty--she was almost afraid to breathe lest it
vanish before her eyes. The trees were tall and numerous, with
gleaming, prism-shaped trunks and a mass of cloud-like foliage. Some
bore fruit that actually seemed to be illuminated--oranges, pears,
and peaches glowing like decorated electric light bulbs! Moon and
star flowers grew in great profusion, and in the distance, caves and
grottoes of purest crystal scintillated in the high noon sun. So far
as Jellia could see, there were no houses or castles, but there were
hundreds of gay canopies held up by crystal poles. Jellia was just
standing on tip-toe to glimpse the furnishings of the nearest Canopy
when Nick Chopper, feeling the time had come to speak, raised his tin
arm and called out imperiously:

"I, Emperor of the East and the Winkies, hereby claim this new and
beautiful airosphere for Ozma of Oz, and bid you, its illustrious
inhabitants, pledge to her your allegiance! At the same time, I bestow
upon all of you Upper Airians, free citizenship in the glorious Land of
Oz!"

At this bold speech Strut stopped and stood as if rooted to the spot.
Not only was he dumbfounded to discover he could understand the
language of these curious beings, but if what he heard were correct,
they actually were claiming his Kingdom for their own.

"Well, how was that?" whispered Nick, looking down sideways at Jellia.

"Terrible! Terrible!" moaned the little Oz Maid. "Oh, my! We'd better
look out!" Catching hold of Wantowin's hand, for he already showed
signs of retreating, she looked anxiously at the approaching Airman.
Black clouds were simply racing across his imperial brow; his eyes
flashed red and blue lights and his hair positively crackled with
indignation and fury.

"Oh, my--I do hope you are feeling well?" ventured Jellia, as Strut
took an enormous stride toward them. "If you have a headache or
anything, we could easily come back tomorrow."

"Stand where you are!" sneered Strut. Looking over his shoulder he
made sure his twenty, tall Blowmen had arrived and were pushing their
way through the crowd. "Stand where you are or I'll have you blown to
atoms!"

"Now, now, let us not come to blows!" begged Nick Chopper. "We have
much to learn from you and you from us, and I assure you we have come
in the spirit of highest friendship!"

"Humph! So that's what it is--a friend ship! Looks like a dragon to
me!" Folding his arms, Strut scowled past the three travellers to where
the Oztober rested like some giant butterfly on the shore of Half Moon
Lake. Then, making a secret signal to the Blowmen who had lined up
before him, he shouted fiercely, "I am Strut of the Strat and Supreme
Ruler of all the Upper Areas. In daring to claim Stratovania for your
foolish countrywoman, you indeed aim high and will go, I promise you,
still higher! Three blasts and a toot, men!" As Strut issued this cruel
command, his twenty, stern-looking warriors lifted their curved horns
and puffed out their cheeks for a tremendous blow.

Jellia Jam, feeling that if they ever needed help it was right here and
now, frantically sought with her one free hand to open the Wizard's
Kit-Bag. As she fumbled with the curved handle, Strut raised his long
arm.

"Wait!" he cried tensely. "Not yet!" Lowering their horns and exhaling
their breaths in loud whistles, the Blowmen stared at him in surprise.
Strut had been examining the strangers from Oz more attentively. Now
he strode over to Jellia, jerked off her helmet and ran his hand
slowly over her smooth brown hair. Jellia, expecting to faint or
expire without the helmet, let out a piteous groan. But the altitude
pills were evidently powerful enough to protect her, and feeling no
ill effects, she glanced up timidly at the towering Stratovanian. Dark
clouds no longer flitted across his brow. Indeed, he looked almost
pleasant. "Ve-ry pret-ty!" he mused, stroking Jellia's hair softly.
"Not wiry or stand-uppish like ours. Hippenscop! Summon her Majesty
the Queen. She'll be delighted with this beautiful little creature!
But--it is my intention to blow away these other insolent invaders from
Oz--keeping only this smooth-haired lassie for our Starina."

"Oh, No! Oh, NO!" begged Jellia, pulling back with all her strength.

"Stop! You can't have Jellia," yelled Nick Chopper, flinging out his
arms.

"Ready--aim--fire!" quavered the Soldier with Green Whiskers. And
pointing his ancient gun at Strut, he valiantly pulled the trigger. But
Wantowin's aim was very bad. The twenty marbles with which the gun was
loaded, zipped harmlessly past the Airman's ears, stinging quite a few
of his subjects and frightening at least fifty into full flight. Strut
himself was not impressed. Giving Nick a push that sent him sprawling,
and the Soldier a shove, he drew Jellia firmly away from her friends.

Terrified as she was, the little Oz Maid could not help a small thrill
of satisfaction to have been chosen by a monarch as High and Mighty as
Strut of the Strat, to be Starina to him and his Queen.

"As for you two," said Strut to Nick and the Soldier, "blowing up is
quite painless, I assure you, and if you ever do come down you'll
doubtless have many interesting things to tell."

The Blowmen placed a guard around Nick and the Soldier, and stepped
back to their posts. Nick Chopper and Wantowin, stunned by the
swiftness of events, stared sadly at their little Jellia as the
Blowmen for a second time raised their horns. But Strut, intent on his
Warriors, had dropped Jellia's hand. Quick as a flash she pulled the
kit-bag's tail and pulled out the first object her fingers closed on.
It was a small green trumpet. Without stopping to think or reason,
Jellia placed it to her lips and blew three frantic toots.

Instantly a light green vapor flowed from the mouth of the horn,
spreading like a fast-moving cloud over the entire assemblage--a light
green vapor accompanied by three musical notes.



CHAPTER 7

A Most Reluctant Starina


As the last note died away in a sweet, reluctant echo, Strut's Blowmen
threw down their horns. With wild shouts and cheers they began to
embrace as if each were the other's long lost brother. The behavior of
the rest of the Stratovanians was equally puzzling. They sang, they
whistled, they laughed and stamped their feet from sheer gaiety. Strut,
hurrying over to Nick Chopper, shook him heartily by the hand.

"Say, Hay-Hurray! How ARE you?" he demanded exuberantly. "How are you
and all of your aunts, uncles and infant nieces?"

"Wha--what's that?" sputtered Nick Chopper completely taken aback
by this sudden show of friendliness. Kabebe the Queen, tears of joy
streaming down her moon-shaped face, seized the hands of the Soldier
with Green Whiskers and was dancing him 'round and 'round. Unnoticed
in the general hubbub and hilarity, Jellia managed to steal another
glance at the green trumpet. Printed in white letters on the handle was
this surprising sentence: "_This trumpet contains cheer gas._" Cheer
Gas! With a tremulous sigh, for the last few moments had been a great
strain, Jellia slipped the Wizard's instrument back into the kit bag
and zipped it shut. Strangely enough the gas had not affected any of
the people from Oz. In fact Jellia had never felt less like cheering in
her whole life.

"This way! Ray, Ray, hur_ray_!" shouted Strut, who now had Nick by one
arm and the Soldier by the other. "Quickly! Go and prepare the Guest
Canopies, Queen Kabebe! These travellers are doubtless weary, and need
rest and refreshment. Have you any preference as to canopies?" he
inquired, leaning down to look in Nick Chopper's face.

"Do you have any _tin_ canopies?" asked Nick hoarsely. He was still
dazed by Strut's unaccountable change of manner. "I always feel safer
under a tin roof. It is such a beautiful and dependable metal."

"Tin? Oh, Ha-Ha-HA!" Strut blinked his star eyes rapidly. "I'm afraid
we have no tin, but any other kind, my dear--"

"Nick Chopper, Tin Woodman of Oz," put in Jellia, who felt it was high
time they were properly introduced. "And there--" She hastily indicated
the Soldier with Green Whiskers--"There is Wantowin Battles, the Grand
Army of Oz!" At Jellia's introduction, Wantowin dropped Strut's arm to
shake hands.

"And who are you, my lively little Skylark?" he questioned.

"Oh, I'm just Jellia Jam, Ozma's Chief Maid in Waiting," Jellia said as
she trotted uneasily along at his side. The rest of the Stratovanians,
still cheering and singing, but in a more subdued way, came streaming
after them. Rather anxiously Jellia wondered how long the effects of
the cheer gas would last, and how soon Strut would remember about
blowing Nick and the Soldier away again. It seemed unlikely that she
would have another chance to open the kit bag without detection. The
Queen, who had not been as cheered by the gas as the others, seemed
somewhat unfriendly as she walked along behind her Royal Husband. Every
few minutes, in fact, she would lean forward and give Jellia a spiteful
pinch. Jellia bore this rude treatment with extreme patience, making
no complaint or out-cry and merely walking a little faster to keep
out of the creature's way. Jellia wanted to see all she could of this
wonderful, sparkling airland so she could tell Ozma and Dorothy all
about it when she returned to Oz.

The Soldier with Green Whiskers had fallen back to a place beside Queen
Kabebe and was gazing about him with contemptuous snorts. Any country
that was not green like the land surrounding the Emerald City, held no
interest for him. Noticing that Jellia was faring quite well without
her helmet, and finding his rather stuffy, he took it off and slung it
over one shoulder. As he did so he caught the Queen in the very act
of pinching Jellia. Disgusted by such conduct, he sternly took her
arm, and each time Kabebe pinched Jellia, the Soldier would slap her
fingers. After the fifth slap the Queen peered at him with astonished
admiration, for on this whole Tip-toposphere there was no man bold
enough to strike a member of the reigning family. Soon, Kabebe was so
fascinated by Wantowin's flowing green whiskers she forgot all about
pinching Jellia. By this time the strange and still faintly cheering
procession had reached Strut's Royal Canopy. Waving away his giggling
Blowmen, Strut lifted Jellia to one of the splendid Star Thrones.

To Kabebe King Strut spoke impatiently. "Don't you remember you were to
see about the Guest Canopies?" Kabebe dared not object but looked quite
displeased. "Just tell Bittsywittle to bring us a tray of air-ades and
a wind pudding," ordered Strut, giving the Queen a jovial shove to help
her on her way. "You'd like an air-ade wouldn't you, little lady?"
Poor Jellia shook her head no and then quickly changed it to yes. The
furnishings of the Royal Pavilion were so rich and dazzling and the
Star Throne so high and grand that she felt completely bewildered. As
Kabebe shuffled away, Jellia smiled nervously at Nick and the Soldier.
At Strut's invitation they had seated themselves cross legged on bright
blue air cushions, and looked as uncomfortable as they felt.

"Well, what do you think of Stratovania by now?" inquired Strut,
settling back complacently. "I believe you will all enjoy high life as
much as we do, once you are used to it."

Nick Chopper was on the point of saying they had no intention of
getting used to it, or of staying one single moment longer than was
positively necessary, when he caught Jellia's worried expression and
muttered instead. "Beautiful--very beautiful."

"But where are the houses?" asked the Soldier with Green Whiskers,
bluntly. "These tent tops are all right for a war, or for field sports,
but I should think you'd find them rather chilly for all year 'round
living."

"Stratovania," explained Strut as he crossed his long legs, "is
never chilly. It is surrounded by a rim of warm air that keeps the
temperature just as you find it today. No wind, no rain, no storms of
any kind," he concluded, proudly.

"And it's all so bright and shiny," sighed Jellia Jam, blinking down
at the floor of the pavilion which was an inlay of sparkling glass,
and then off to the countless bright canopies that dotted the airscape
beyond. The surface of Strut's curious Skyland was of gleaming crystal,
sometimes smooth as ice, sometimes rough and rocky, but always flashing
with the brilliance of diamonds. "Everything sparkles so," finished
Jellia, rather wishing she had brought her dark glasses.

"That's because Stratovania is formed of solid air," smiled Strut,
tapping one of the iridescent posts that supported the silken canopy
over their heads. "And I am its High and Mighty Sovereign, ruler of the
Spikers who inhabit the strata below, and of the Zoomers who inhabit
the strata above, and of all the other spheres and half-spheres in
this particular area. Strut of the Strat! Consider THAT, Little One,
and be proud that you have been chosen to be our Starina!"

"But Jellia can't stay here!" cried the Soldier with Green Whiskers,
springing indignantly to his feet. "Jellia's--"

"Tut! Tut! Now do not excite yourself! Here comes Bittsywittle and
we'll all have a glass of liquid air." As Strut leaned forward to speak
to his small, electric-haired page, Jellia shook her head sharply at
Nick and the Soldier, for both seemed on the point of dragging her off
the throne.

"Wait!" Jellia formed the word soundlessly, and with puzzled frowns her
two friends sank back on their air cushions, accepting rather glumly
the sparkling goblets of air-ade from the light-footed servitor. With
the air-ade Bittsywittle passed heaping saucers of wind pudding, a
fluffy, cloud-like confection that made Jellia's mouth positively water.

"You will find the diet here light, but nourishing," Strut informed
them blandly. "Our atmosphere is so rare and exhilarating, we need
little but sun and star light to keep us going. But now, friends, I
propose a toast to Jellia, our new Starina!" As Nick and Wantowin
rose unwillingly to their feet, for the whole affair struck them as
perfectly preposterous, Strut lifted his glass and downed his air-ade.
Then the Soldier rather sulkily drank his. Nick, who never partook
of food or drink of any kind, set his goblet on a small tabouret and
stared sadly at Jellia Jam. The Tin Woodman feared she was seriously
considering Strut's proposal. Jellia surmised what Nick was thinking,
but as there was no way of explaining that she was just trying to gain
time till they could find some way to escape, she smiled wanly back at
him and swallowed her own air-ade.

Suddenly Jellia felt herself rising into the air. Before she could
utter a sound, her head was pressed tightly against the top of the
canopy. Then, dizzily, she began to float 'round and 'round like a
pretty balloon just let off its string.

"Ho, Ho!" roared Strut. "Our air-ade has made you light-headed, m'lass!
But wait--I'll fetch you down!" He tapped the winged staff he held in
his right hand sharply on the floor. Instantly it spread its wings,
carrying him up beside Jellia. Grasping her hand he drew her down to
the throne.

"There," he chuckled, handing her a heavy glass globe to hold, "that
will weigh you down!" Reflecting that one of these winged sticks might
be a handy thing to have, Jellia clutched the glass globe. Still weak
and giddy from her flight, she could not bring herself to touch the
wind pudding Bittsywittle had placed on the arm of the throne. The
Soldier with Green Whiskers, on account of his heavy weapons and boots,
had not gone so high as Jellia, but even he, instead of sitting on his
air cushion, was now seated on nothing--three feet above Nick Chopper's
head. He looked extremely unhappy, as indeed he was.

"Don't worry," grinned Strut, who seemed highly amused by the whole
affair, "you'll come down presently." He tapped his winged staff on the
head as he spoke, and the staff immediately folded its wings. "Tell
me," he urged, turning to Nick Chopper who was looking anxiously from
the Soldier to Jellia. "Do you come from below or be-high?"

"Be-oth," answered the Tin Woodman, too confused by this time to know
what he was saying. "Taking off from the Emerald City of Oz, we first
flew up, then over, then up and next down!"

"Hmm--mmmn, OZ?" Two very black clouds floated across Strut's
transparent brow. "I seem to remember your mentioning Oz before! I seem
to remember--" Strut's voice was no longer pleasant, and watching his
brow growing blacker and blacker, Jellia frantically sought to open the
Wizard's kit bag. Unless she could release some more of the cheer gas,
almost anything might happen.

Out of the third point of his left star eye, Strut saw what she was
doing. "Don't fidget, my dear," he snapped crossly. "It is unbecoming
for our new Starina of Stratovania to fidget, or to unpack her own bag.
Here--" Taking the kit bag from her he tossed it carelessly beneath his
throne. Jellia's heart sank. She hoped Nick would say no more about
claiming Stratovania for Ozma. But the Tin Woodman, already launched
upon a glowing description of their famous Fairy Land, was working up
to that very point.

"One hundred and one thousand, eight hundred and sixty-seven feet below
this airosphere," began Nick, taking a long breath, "lies the great,
grand and incomparable Fairyland of Oz. Oblong in shape, it is divided
into four triangular Kingdoms. The Northern and Purple Land of the
Gillikens is ruled by Jo King; the Blue, Western Land of the Munchkins,
by his Majesty King Cheeriobed; the Eastern, Yellow Land of the Winkies
is governed by myself; the Southern Red Land of the Quadlings, by
Glinda the Good Sorceress.

"But all of us are subject to the benign rule of Ozma, the young Fairy
Ruler of the whole Kingdom. Her capitol, the Emerald City, in the exact
center of Oz, is one of the most beautiful cities out of the world!
Surrounding Oz and protecting it from invasions is a deadly desert, and
in Ozma's possession are more jewels and treasure than you doubtless
have seen in the whole of your air existence."

"Humph!" growled Strut, looking fiercer than ever. But paying no
heed to the ominous storm clouds forming on his brow, Nick loftily
proceeded. "Not only is Ozma possessed of more jewels than any other
sovereign known, but in her castle are magic appliances that make her
the most powerful of rulers. For instance, Ozma has a magic belt
with which she can transport anyone anywhere. On her wall hangs a
magic picture in which she can see what is happening to her friends
or foes--right while it is happening. In her safe is a magic fan to
blow away her enemies, and so many other strange instruments of magic,
I have not time to describe them. Among her advisors is the famous
Wizard of Oz, who spends all his time studying magic and perfecting
new inventions. The Ozoplane in which we made this perilous flight is
his latest masterpiece. And now that you know a bit more of Ozma and
her famous country, I am sure you will be delighted to become a part
of our happy realm and acknowledge Ozma as the Supreme Sovereign of
Stratovania."

"What?" screamed Strut, bounding off his throne and furiously
confronting the Tin Woodman. "How DARE you suggest such a thing? This
is the second time you have done so! Why should I, Strut of the Strat,
acknowledge this miserable earthlander as my supreme anything? I am a
thousand times richer and more important than any Belowlander below.
Oz! OZ! Indeed!"

As Nick backed off in some alarm, Strut shook his long staff over the
Tin Woodman's head. "Why, you can't even pronounce the name of your
own country!" he sneered. "It is not Oz, as you say it, but OHS--the
zone of Ohs, to be more correct. And if Ohs is in the zone of Ohs it is
Ozone, which means AIR--and that makes it belong to ME! So I, Strut of
the Strat, hereby do claim OZONIA for myself and my people, and you, my
fine Mr. Funnel Top, shall take me there!"



CHAPTER 8

Strut of the Strat Sets Off for Oz


"Don't you do it! Don't you do it!" Plumping down on his air cushion,
for the effects of the air-ade had worn off at last, the Soldier with
Green Whiskers wildly sounded retreat on his green bugle. Jellia,
knowing he would run as fast as he could and perhaps wreck the Ozoplane
before she and Nick could reach it, jumped off her throne and seized
him by the coat tails. As she did so, Strut gave the glass gong beside
him a resounding whack. Before any of the three travellers could take
another step, the twenty Blowmen tramped back into the Royal Pavilion.
The cheer engendered by the cheer gas had entirely evaporated by now,
and they looked very grim indeed. At a signal from Strut, one seized
Nick, a second the Soldier. A third was taking hold of Jellia, when
Strut sternly waved him aside.

"No No! Not that one! She is our new Starina!" he told the Blowman
roughly. "Now you are to stay right here, Jellia, my dear, and help
rule over Stratovania while I descend to Ohs and take possession of
that rich and prosperous country. And, sooner than soon, I will return,
bringing you the magic treasure and jewels and the crown and scepter of
this Ohsma!"

"Oh, but you mustn't!" wailed Jellia, clasping her hands desperately.
"Ozma is a _real_ Princess and much more beautiful than I!"

"In that case, I shall bring Ohsma back and make her a Starina also!"
promised Strut.

"Now Hippenscop," he directed, shaking his finger at the odd-looking
page, "you and Junnenrump are to obey Jellia in everything. I'll leave
three Blowmen here to protect our Starina. The others, and all of my
able-bodied fighters, shall fly with me to Ohs."

"The Ozoplane holds only four!" cried Jellia, looking desperately over
at Nick who was struggling angrily to free himself from the Blowmen.
But they had his arms pinioned behind his back, and the poor Tin
Woodman was unable to help himself.

"Oh, that's all right!" answered Strut, "I and this Tin Emperor will
ride in the Friend-ship, and the others will follow on their flying
sticks and soon I will return with all the treasures of Ohs!" As the
Blowmen started away, shoving Nick and the Soldier ahead of them,
Jellia felt so frightened and alone that she burst into tears.

"Oh, please, please--couldn't you leave the Soldier to keep me
company?" she sobbed, wiping her streaming eyes on her sash.

"Of course, if you wish!" Motioning to the Blowmen, they picked up
Wantowin as if he had been a sack of potatoes, and tossed him roughly
back into the Royal Pavilion. He landed with a clatter at Jellia's feet.

"But see here! I am not sure I can find the way back to Oz!" protested
Nick Chopper as Strut fell into step at his side. "I happened upon this
airosphere by the merest chance, and have no idea in which direction Oz
now lies."

"Just the same--I think you will take me there!" Strut grinned
wickedly, tapping Nick on the shoulder with his staff. He already had
sent Junnenrump to summon the army, and, glancing over his shoulder,
Nick saw a thousand young airmen strutting along behind them. As they
came to the shores of Half Moon Lake, Hippenscop came panting and
gasping into view.

"Her Skyness the new Starina, bade me give you this," he puffed,
handing the Tin Woodman the small oil can the Wizard had given him at
the party. Nick had forgotten all about his oil can and without it he
was likely to rust and become perfectly helpless. Taking it thankfully
from the messenger, he hung it on a hook beneath his arm and headed
reluctantly for the Oztober. Nick had no intention of flying Strut to
the Emerald City. Even if he had to wreck the plane, he would find some
way to keep the greedy airman and his legions from conquering Oz. Then
he would return and rescue Jellia and the soldier.

But, without a word to Strut, for argument at this point would have
been useless, he mounted the ladder, walked through the cozy cabin and
seated himself in the pilot's chair. Strut paused on the top rung of
the ladder before he entered.

"Follow us closely, men," he commanded gruffly, "no matter how far
or fast we fly." Strut's young warriors raised their flying staffs
to show that they understood, and with a few final directions, the
Stratovanian stepped over the sill, slammed the door of the Oztober
and walked rapidly forward, examining everything with lively interest.

"So this dragon-body really flys?" he said, bending curiously over the
navigator's table. "Ho, what's this? I thought you told me you had
no way of finding the route back?" Nick Chopper, much more surprised
than Strut, picked up the tidy map that lay on top of the buttons.
It certainly had not been there when he left the plane, but here it
was now, showing the complete course they had taken since leaving the
Emerald City. Concluding this was some of the Wizard's magic, Nick
examined the map attentively. Each turn up or down, each mile east or
west, was charted accurately.

"All you have to do is follow this in reverse," exclaimed Strut.
Unaccustomed as he was to flying except by staff, he was nevertheless
sharp enough to realize the value of a good map when he saw one. "And
remember now--no tricks!" he warned, sternly. "Land me safely in Ohs
and you will be suitably rewarded. But land me anywhere else and you
will be completely obliterated!"

Nick said nothing. Weary of Strut's threats and boasts, the Woodman
touched the button to inflate the Oztober's balloon, and the "up,"
"south" and "fast" buttons. In the whirr and splutter of their
take-off, the Airlander's further remarks and directions were
completely drowned out.



CHAPTER 9

Jellia in a Frightful Jam


For a long time after the departure of the Tin Woodman and of Strut
and his legions, Jellia sat forlornly on the Star Throne, trying to
stem the tears that coursed slowly down her cheeks. To be stranded on
this high and dangerous airosphere was bad enough, but the thought of
Strut flying off to destroy Ozma and steal all her treasures was more
frightening still.

"What on airth shall we do?" questioned Jellia with a rueful smile, of
the Soldier with Green Whiskers who was tramping morosely up and down
the pavilion. Halting in his march, Wantowin shook his head dubiously.

"That I cannot say!" he murmured, taking off his cap and staring
gloomily inside. "I have no standing in this country at all! But you,
Jellia, are a Starina. Therefore you must decide what is to be done.
And whatever your Majesty's orders may be, I will carry them out to the
letter. To the _letter_!" declared Wantowin, standing up very straight
and tall.

"Oh, bother 'my Majesty!'" scolded Jellia. "You know perfectly well I
didn't _ask_ to be a Starina of this terrible place!"

"It is not what you want but what you are, that counts!" insisted the
Soldier, stubbornly. "And there's no getting round it, Jellia, you
_are_ a Starina! So while you are deciding what is to be done, I'll
just do a bit of reconnoitering. It might be well to know the lay of
the air!"

"Wait!" cried Jellia as Wantowin started smartly down the steps.
"Whatever you do, Wanny--don't run!" she implored earnestly. "You
might easily run off the edge and then where'd you be? So do please be
careful, and if anything frightens you run straight back here! Do you
promise?"

"Nothing ever frightens me!" said the Soldier in an offended voice.
Marching sternly down the steps he was off at a double-quick, without
even a glance over his shoulder. Feeling more alone than ever, Jellia
sighed and folded her hands in her lap. But Wantowin's words, foolish
as they were, had done her good. After all she was a Starina, for
the time being anyway. So, straightening her crown, and drying her
tears, Jellia tried to think how she should act under such bewildering
circumstances. How would Ozma act, for instance, if she were sitting
on the throne of this singular airtry? Even thinking of the gentle and
dignified little Girl Ruler of Oz, steadied Jellia. Holding her head
very high, she stepped down from the dais and began pacing slowly
up and down the pavilion, switching her green skirts in such a regal
manner that the two messengers who had returned quietly to their posts,
stared at her with new interest and admiration.

"Is there anything we might bring your Strajesty?" asked Junnenrump,
bowing from the waist and clicking his heels smartly together. At his
question Jellia paused and eyed the two, speculatively.

"Why, yes," she decided after a moment's thought. "You, Junnenrump, may
send some one to amuse me, and you, Hippenscop, may bring me two of
those winged staffs. It is neither safe nor proper for a Starina and
her Army to be without them!"

"But, your Skyness!" Hippenscop leaped into the air and spun round
and round in an agony of embarrassment. "There are no extra staffs!"
he blurted, finally coming to a stop before her. The little fellow
looked so distressed, Jellia was on the point of letting him off. Then,
remembering just in time that she was bound to be obeyed, she raised
her arm.

"Go!" she commanded haughtily. "And do not return without two winged
staffs!" Junnenrump already had started, and at Jellia's stern command
Hippenscop backed dejectedly down the steps, his eyes bulging with
dismay and consternation.

"If Wanny and I had flying sticks, we'd at least be as well off as
the rest of these Airlanders," reasoned Jellia, resuming her walk.
"But what funny names," she mused, as the messengers disappeared in
two different directions and at two different speeds. "They make me
think of--" here Jellia took a little run and jump, following it with
a skip and a hop. "I suppose" she continued, talking conversationally
to herself, "that is what their names really mean, everything is so
mixed up here." Regaining her throne in one long slide, Jellia brought
up with a slight start. This, she decided, was no way for a Starina
to act. Smoothing down her dress, she walked sedately to Strut's
throne and reached underneath. The real reason she had got rid of the
messengers, of course, was so she could recover the kit-bag and have a
chance to examine its contents without being observed. The cheer gas
had saved them on one occasion, and perhaps there was magic powerful
enough to enable her and the Soldier to escape from the airosphere
before Strut returned. The bag was still there and snatching it up
in her arms, Jellia climbed back on the throne. But just as she was
about to zip it open, Junnenrump bounded up the steps of the pavilion,
dragging a lean old Skylander by the hand.

"His Majesty's Piper!" announced Junnenrump, giving the Piper a shove
forward and seating himself expectantly on the messenger's bench.
Jellia was annoyed to have Junnenrump return so soon. But since she
had sent for someone to amuse her, she could not very well object.
So, resting her chin in her hand she looked curiously at the royal
Piper. The old Skylander was tremendously tall and thin. His tunic was
short and plaited, and under his arms he carried a pair of enormous
bag pipes. Jellia never had cared for bag pipes, but on an airosphere
she supposed wind instruments such as this naturally would be popular.
The Piper, however, did not immediately play on his pipes. Instead he
struck a few light and pleasant chords on the top buttons of his tunic.

    "Shall I do a buck and wing, or a little Skyland fling?
    Shall I sing a little sing, for you, Dear?"

bawled the Piper cheerfully. He looked so funny that Jellia burst out
laughing. Thus encouraged, the Piper proceeded to sing, punctuating his
song with extraordinary leaps and toe tappings.

    "When we Skylanders feel low, we just
      Dance the stratispho;
    Step it high, kick and fly, toss the
      Partner up ski-high. High HO!

"Would you care to try it?" he asked politely, holding out his hand to
Jellia.

"No, No! Not today!" gasped the Oz maid, backing as far as the star
throne would allow. "But I've really enjoyed watching you very much,
and your singing is lovely," she added, generously.

"Ah, but wait until you hear me play," puffed the Piper. Raising his
pipes he blew forth such a hurricane of whistles, squeals and fierce
thunderings that poor Jellia clapped both hands to her ears. "Tell him
to go away," she screamed above the awful din, wildly motioning to
Junnenrump who was tapping his foot in time to the pipes and looking
highly diverted. "Tell him to come back tomorrow." The fierce music
of the bag pipes had brought airlanders running from every direction.
Crowding round the pavilion they waved and bowed to the new Starina.
Realizing she never would have any privacy under the Imperial Canopy,
Jellia slipped off her throne. The messenger had the Piper by the
tunic tails and was easing him gently down the steps. Jellia waited
till they reached the bottom, then, as all the airlanders began to run
after the still furiously pumping piper, Jellia started in the opposite
direction. Surely somewhere, she thought, clutching the kit-bag close
to her, somewhere she could find a quiet corner or cave or clump of
bushes where she could examine the contents of the Wizard's bag without
interruption.

So anxious was Jellia to be by herself, she broke into a run. Failing
to notice a crystal bar stretched across the path, she tripped and fell
violently _up_ a tune tree. Falling down is bad enough, but falling up
is worse still. Jellia not only had barked her shins on the crystal
bar, but had bounced into the air so high she lost her breath and
plunged down so abruptly among the top branches of the tune tree that
she was somewhat scratched and shaken. She knew it must be a tune tree
because plump black notes grew in clusters like cherries between the
leaves. Several, dislodged by her fall, broke into gay little arias and
chords. At any other time Jellia would have been quite interested, but
now she was too agitated and upset to care.

"Such a country--or airtry!" groaned the Oz maid, rubbing her left
ankle and her right knee. "One can't even fall down in their own way!"
Parting the branches the ruffled little girl looked crossly out. It
was quite a long way to the ground, but nevertheless Jellia decided to
climb down. But suddenly it occurred to her that the top of the tune
tree was as good a place as any, to open the kit-bag. Easing herself to
a larger limb, she balanced the bag carefully in her lap and stretched
out her hand to pull the tail. Then a piercing scream and the thump
of a hundred footsteps made her draw it back in a hurry. Parting the
branches of the tree for a second time, she saw Wantowin Battles
running toward her like the wind.

"Help! Help! Save me!" yelled the Soldier with Green Whiskers. And
he had reason to yell for just two leaps behind him panted Kabebe,
waving an enormous crystal rolling-pin. After the Queen pounded the
three big Blowmen, and after the Blowmen came nearly a hundred men,
women, and children. Before Jellia had time even to guess why they were
chasing the Army, Wantowin tripped over the same crystal bar that had
caused her upfall, and landed with a terrific grunt in the branches
beside her, scattering half and quarter-notes in every direction. The
Airlanders stopped short and watched with breathless interest as the
Soldier disappeared into the thick foliage of the tune tree.

"What's the matter? What happened?" whispered Jellia reaching out to
steady the soldier who was bouncing wildly up and down on a nearby limb.

"YOU?" gasped Wantowin, almost losing his balance at the shock of
seeing her. "Oh, Jellia! We must leave at once! At ONCE! As I was
passing the cooking caves, Kabebe rushed out and grabbed me. She has
decided to blow us away most any minute now. She has persuaded the
Airlanders that Strut is lost and never will return. Oh why, WHY, did
we ever fly to this terrible place?"

"Be quiet!" hissed Jellia, frightened almost out of her wits at this
new turn of affairs. "How can I think with you making all that noise?"

"Come down! Come down!" bawled Kabebe. "Come down before I shake you
down!" Grasping the trunk of the tune tree she gave it a playful shake.

Rolling his eyes up, the Soldier glanced desperately at Jellia, and
Jellia, as desperately, glanced back.

"You might as well go down," she whispered resignedly, as the Queen
gave the tree a tremendous shake that nearly dislodged them both.

"Not without you," shivered Wantowin, hugging his branch for dear life.

"Oh, well--let's get it over with," said Jellia despairingly. "Blowing
away may not be so bad, and I'd rather do anything than stay up here."
Tucking the kit-bag under one arm, Jellia swung herself down by the
other and dropped lightly to the ground.

"What is the meaning of this outrageous behavior?" she demanded, as
Wantowin dropped fearfully beside her. "His Majesty shall hear of this,
I promise you!"

Kabebe, astonished to see Jellia as well as the Soldier with Green
Whiskers drop out of the tree, took a hasty step backward. Jellia
quickly followed up her advantage. "I'm amazed!" she said sternly.
"I thought you knew that I was to help you rule while King Strut is
away!" At this bold speech, Wantowin looked at Jellia in round-eyed
admiration. Though her cheeks were scratched and her crown slightly
askew, the little Waiting Maid looked every inch a ruler's helper, if
not a ruler. Even the Blowmen began to shift uneasily from one foot
to the other, their mouths falling open at Jellia's indignation. But
Kabebe raised both arms and fairly screeched at the little Oz Maid.

"How dare you speak to me like that?" she shrieked. "King Strut is lost
and never will return! I am Queen here--and I don't need your help!
Blowmen! Seize this impudent pair, march them to the edge of the cliffs
and blow them away." The crowd of Stratovanians looked uncertainly from
Kabebe to Jellia.

"His Highness left you here to _protect_ me!" Jellia reminded them
sternly. But even as she spoke, she knew they had decided to obey
Kabebe. She was flashing her star eyes so threateningly, and waving her
winged stick so close to their heads, that the Blowmen were afraid to
defy her.

"Come along, now," grumbled the first Blowman, taking Jellia roughly by
the arm. "You've made enough trouble here!"

The other two Blowmen seized the trembling Soldier and began marching
sternly toward the edge of Strut's Skyland. Jellia pulled back with
all her strength, as also did Wantowin, but, hustled along by the huge
Skylanders, they could do little to help themselves. Relentlessly, with
the jeering citizens of Stratovania running along after them, the
unfortunate Oz pair was dragged on.

"Just wait till your Master hears about this," sobbed Jellia, as the
Blowmen shoved them as near to the edge of the cliffs as they dared
go themselves. Then they stepped back to lift their horns. Jellia had
managed to retain her hold on the Wizard's kit-bag, but even so she
felt that their last moment had come.

Jellia gave a final sad little wave to the Soldier, who really was
quite brave now that his doom had arrived. The Blowmen pointed their
horns straight at them, but before they even could inflate their
cheeks, a fierce roar and splutter from the clouds caused every head
to turn upwards.

"The ship--the ship! The flying ship!" cried the First Blowman, letting
his horn fall disregarded to the ground.

"It's Strut!" screamed the Stratovanians, treading on one another's
toes in their sudden frenzy to be out of sight of their Master when he
landed.

"'Tis the Master himself!" cried the first Blowman, yanking Jellia and
the Soldier back from the edge of the Skyland. Pulling Kabebe along
with them, the Blowmen ran as never before, closely followed by Strut's
scurrying subjects. One moment later there was not a single airbody
in sight. Convinced that their cruel and brilliant ruler had returned,
they ran like rabbits. Some even flew, helping themselves along with
their winged staffs, while Jellia, sinking on a large, crystal boulder,
stared dazedly at the silver-bodied plane dropping rapidly toward them.

"It can't be the Oztober!" cried Jellia, delightedly. "It couldn't have
come back so soon!"

"It's _not_!" cried Wantowin Battles, tossing up his cap and waving his
arms exuberantly. "It's the other one, the Ozpril, and that means--"
In his extreme excitement, the Soldier tripped over a balloon bush and
fell seven feet into the air. "It means the Wizard himself has come to
help us," sputtered Wantowin, blinking rapidly as he landed hard on the
rock beside the young Oz maid. "Three cheers, Jellia! The Wizard of Oz
has saved us!"



CHAPTER 10

The Wizard in Stratovania!


It was indeed the Ozpril, just as the Soldier with Green Whiskers
had said. Even at a distance, Jellia could spell out the name on the
gleaming body and, as the silvery plane came swooping toward them, she
could not repress a shout of joy.

Too exhausted by the dreadful ordeal she had just been through to run
to meet the ship, she jerked off her scarf and waved it wildly over her
head.

About ten feet from the crystal boulder on which she had been sitting,
the Ozpril came to a gentle and perfect landing. Scarcely had the
whirr and sputter of its engine died away before the door of the
cabin burst open and down climbed the little Wizard of Oz, followed
by Dorothy and the Scarecrow. The Cowardly Lion, last of all, had
difficulty fitting his paws on the rungs and, after a trembling
descent, rolled over on his back, his four feet straight up in the air.
The trip had not agreed with the Cowardly Lion at all. Weak and dizzy,
he made no attempt to rise.

"Here you are at last!" cried the Wizard happily, rushing over to
Jellia and seizing both of her hands. "So THIS is where you've been!
Well I must say it's a fine place. Why it's beautiful, beautiful!"
Swinging round so he could look in all directions, the Wizard
positively glowed with interest and enthusiasm.

"What's so beautiful about it?" growled the lion without turning over.
"Is there any grass? Are there any trees? Is there anything to eat?"
Dorothy, on the point of embracing Jellia, gave a little scream, for
the Tell-all-escope, which she had picked up just before leaving the
plane, was making terse announcements. At this point it happened to be
pointed at Jellia. Clearing its throat it remarked in a superior way:
"You are now looking at Miss Jellia Jam, formerly of Oz, at present new
Starina of the Strat, by edict of Strutoovious the Seventh. Miss Jellia
Jam, Starina of Stratovania! Period! Stop, drop or point elsewhere!"

"Why, _Jellia_!" gasped Dorothy, letting the Tell-all-escope fall with
a crash, "are you, really? Oh my! I don't suppose you'll _ever_ want to
return to Oz, now. Why, you must be having a wonderful time!"

"Humph!" sniffed Jellia, with a slightly wan smile. "If being pinched,
chased and nearly blown to atoms is having a wonderful time, then I
guess I've been having it all right!"

"Tell me," requested the Scarecrow, who had been walking in a slow
circle around Jellia. "Does one prostrate oneself before a Starina,
or does one merely kiss her hand?"

"Neither," laughed Jellia. Jumping up she gave the Scarecrow such a hug
he was out of shape for hours. "But quick!--Let's all hop in the Ozpril
and fly away before something terrible happens."

"Fly away?" cried the Wizard, shoving back his high hat. "But, my
_dear_--we've only just come! I've been flying all night and need a
little rest and refreshment before we start off again. Besides, I would
like to see more of this interesting airland and its people, and add to
my data on the Strata."

"That's what Nick thought," observed Jellia, putting both hands on her
hips. "And look what happened to him!"

"What _did_ happen to him?" demanded the Wizard, realizing for the
first time that Nick was not among those present.

"You tell him," sighed Jellia to the Soldier. Sinking back on the
boulder she held her aching head in both hands. All eyes turned toward
the Soldier with Green Whiskers who opened and closed his mouth several
times without saying a word. The Wizard, now thoroughly alarmed, began
shaking him on one side and the Scarecrow on the other, until finally
Wantowin took a tremendous swallow and gave them the whole story.

When the narrator reached the part where Strut had ordered Nick and him
blown away, the Scarecrow hurried over to the balloon bush and began
picking the almost ripe balloons as fast as his clumsy cotton fingers
would permit. Not till he had about twenty did he even pause. So light
and flimsy was the straw man that the bunch of balloons on their long
stems kept jerking him into the air. After each jerk he would give a
little grunt of satisfaction.

"These are just to keep me aloft--in case of accidents," he explained
hastily to Dorothy who was watching him intently.

"But what of us?" asked the little girl, looking anxiously toward the
Canopied City which, at present, seemed absolutely deserted.

"You say that this wretched Strut, after naming Jellia Starina, forced
Nick to fly him to Oz?" exclaimed the Wizard, grasping Wantowin Battles
by both arms and gazing into his face.

"Not only that," Wantowin told him hoarsely, "but he's taken his
Blowmen and a thousand fighting men to conquer the country! He intends
to bring back Ozma's crown, scepter, jewels and all the treasures in
our castle!" finished the Soldier, dolefully.

"Oh, can't we do something Wizard?" cried Jellia determinedly. "I
simply won't be Starina! I won't! I WON'T!"

"Just the same--you make a very pretty one," murmured the Scarecrow,
patting the little Oz Maid consolingly on the shoulder. "But of course,
we cannot allow this bounding airlander to take Oz!"

"If Nick had not 'taken possession' of Stratovania for Ozma, he'd never
have thought of it," groaned Jellia. Rising stiffly, she picked up the
kit-bag from the crystal rock beside her.

"Ah--so you still have my magic kitty!" In spite of his anxiety the
Wizard smiled.

"Indeed I have," said Jellia firmly. "It saved us from being blown
away. I used some of your cheer gas, Wiz, but I didn't have time to try
out any of the other magic. Here, you'd better take it now and do let's
be starting. No telling when Kabebe and those three Blowmen will be
coming back."

"Forward march! Forward march!" Wantowin Battles started off all by
himself for the Ozpril. "Hurry, hurry!" he called over his shoulder.
"If those fearful people return they'll surely make trouble!" yelled
the Soldier, his voice growing more emphatic.

"Well, it's certainly a mix-up," said Dorothy, moving closer to the
Wizard.

"What do these people look like, Jellia?" she asked curiously. "Really
I'd enjoy seeing a few."

"They look like nothing you ever have imagined!" Jellia told her with
a slight shudder. "Goochers! Here come some now! And oh--it's those
Blowmen--and all the others! Look, Wizard! Could we reach the Ozpril
before they reach us?"

"Let's not try," decided the Wizard, as the Blowmen broke into a run.
"Even if we made the plane, they might blow us to bits before I could
get her started. Let's stay here and reason with them till I find
something in this bag to help us."

"Oh, woe is we! Oh, woe is we!" gulped the Scarecrow, taking little
runs and leaps into the air, hopeful that his balloons would lift him
out of the danger zone as the threatening company drew closer. The
Queen was marching grimly ahead of her subjects. In some way, decided
Jellia, she had discovered Strut had not been in the silver plane. As
the Wizard opened his kit bag the little Oz Maid rushed over to the
Cowardly Lion.

"Get up!" directed Jellia, giving him a desperate prod with her toe.
"Get up! We need your growl--and LISTEN!" she begged, as the big beast
rolled over and blinked sleepily at the approaching airlanders. "Do
everything I tell you or we are lost, LOST!"

Dorothy concluded Jellia had been quite right about the inhabitants
of Stratovania. They certainly were like no one she ever had seen, and
she could not help admiring the bold way Jellia stepped out to meet her
dangerous adversary.

"Just what are you doing here?" demanded Jellia, folding her arms and
tilting up her chin. "Did I not order you to leave us strictly alone?
Blowmen, take this Kabebe woman away!"

"Kabebe's our Queen," muttered one of the Blowmen, scowling at Jellia.
"At least," he corrected, glancing at his comrades, "she is our Queen
until Strut returns."

"What makes you think Strut has NOT returned!" questioned Jellia,
grandly. "Do you not recognize your Master!" With a regal wave,
Jellia pointed to the Cowardly Lion. "Do you not believe that this is
Strut--changed to this great beast by Ozma of Oz? But he is as powerful
and able as ever, to rule this Kingdom! Strut!" Imperiously Jellia
appealed to the Cowardly Lion. "Am I the Starina of Stratovania?"

The poor lion was as startled at Jellia's question as the
Stratovanians. From sheer shock, he rose on his hind legs and let out a
perfectly awful roar--which was perhaps as convincing an answer as he
could have given.

"There! You see?" Jellia shrugged her shoulders as Queen Kabebe and the
Blowmen turned white as ghosts and began to move away.

"It does sound like the Master," stuttered the Blowman, as the Cowardly
Lion followed up his roar with a reverberating growl.

"What are your Majesty's wishes?" inquired Jellia, inclining her head
graciously toward the trembling lion.

"Take that woman away, and have our supper prepared and served at once
in the Royal Pavilion!" directed the lion in his most commanding roar!



CHAPTER 11

King, King-Double King!


The effect of the Cowardly Lion's speech was astonishing, indeed. The
Stratovanians behind the Queen turned and ran for their lives. They
started backing away so fast they fell up at every step, so that their
progress was curious enough to watch. There were few animals on the
airosphere and certainly none that talked. Thoroughly convinced that
the Cowardly Lion was Strut and Strut was the lion, his terrified
subjects fled in all directions.

"Whew!" exclaimed the Wizard, snatching out his green handkerchief and
mopping his moist forehead. "That was quick thinking, my dear. Good
acting, too," he puffed, leaning down to give the lion an approving pat.

"Oh, wasn't he WONDERFUL?" Jellia hugged the lion so energetically he
fairly gasped for breath.

"Not so hard for ME to play King," he wheezed when he managed to escape
from Jellia's embrace. "After all--I AM King of the Forest!"

"Well, however that may be, Jellia is certainly Starina of the Strat!"
declared the Scarecrow. "I'm beginning to think Strut was right in
choosing her! You've been wasting your talents in Oz, my dear, and you
surely have earned a crown today!"

"But I don't want a crown!" asserted Jellia with spirit. Nevertheless
she was quite pleased at such high praise. "Now, look! Since the
Cowardly Lion ordered supper in the Royal Pavilion, perhaps we'd better
go. It will be as good a place as any to rest while we plan our next
move."

"Hi, there--is everything all right?" Wantowin Battles, who had hidden
himself behind a crystal rock at the Blowmens' approach, now peered out
nervously.

"For the present," called the Wizard, waving his kerchief, "for the
present. Come along, Soldier, we're going to have supper in the Royal
Pavilion!"

"Not I," said the Soldier, falling in step with the Scarecrow. "Count
me out of that!"

"I'm sure I'll not be able to eat a bite," sighed Dorothy, picking up
the tell-all-escope. "How can you even think of supper with those awful
airmen flying to the Emerald City. Oh, why don't we go after them now?"

"Because I do not believe Nick will take them to the Emerald City,"
said Jellia, straightening her crown. "He'll lose them somehow and then
come back here for Wanny and me."

"My own deduction, exactly," agreed the Wizard walking briskly along
beside Jellia. "But wherever Nick is, we'll find him--same as we have
found you."

"How did you find us?" asked Jellia, stopping short and staring up into
the Wizard's face. "I've been wondering about that."

"Well, you see," explained the little magician impressively. "On the
Ozpril there is a magnetic compass that shows the exact course taken
by the Oztober, provided both planes are in flight. By following the
compass, I followed your exact route. The delay in our arrival was
caused by the difference in speed!"

"Why, then you saw the very same things we did," cried Jellia, nodding
distantly to several airlanders who were bowing to the ground as the
little procession passed.

"The very same," said the Wizard. Then, as a little afterthought--"By
the way, what did you see?"

"Oh, nothing much but clouds, fog, an icecloud, and some flying
airimals with spikes," Jellia told him briefly, as she started up the
long steps to the Royal Pavilion.

"The same with us," said the Wizard, taking out a little book and
squinting hastily at the precisely written entries, "'Clouds, fogs,
spiked monsters,' AH!" He closed the book with a little exclamation of
admiration. "So this is the seat of Government?"

"I must say I prefer a castle," observed the Scarecrow, jumping up the
steps three at a time. "Still, all these columns are very pretty. Very
pretty indeed!"

"Is my throne comfortable?" inquired the Cowardly Lion with a lordly
sniff.

"That's right," giggled Jellia, "you _will_ have to sit on the
throne--that is, if Wanny doesn't mind?" The little maid turned
mischievously to the Soldier with Green Whiskers. "After all you are a
kind of King, too!"

"Not on your life!" declared Wantowin violently. "I wouldn't trade one
button on my uniform for all the jewels in Strut's crown, nor one
blade of Oz grass for all the rocks in Stratovania!"

"Bravo! Bravo!" applauded the Scarecrow. Having tied his balloons to
one of the pillars, he was bouncing up and down on a blue air cushion.
"Try one," he invited, shoving a couple toward the Wizard. Instead of
one, the Wizard put three of the air cushions together and stretched
out at full length.

"You can't imagine how tired a fellow grows after sixteen hours of
flying," he murmured drowsily. "Hah, hoh, HUM! I hope you girls will
excuse me if I take a little nap?"

"I wouldn't mind a nap myself," yawned Dorothy. Though she had dozed
part of the night before, she felt extremely sleepy. Without much
urging from Jellia, she curled up on a couch at the back of the
pavilion and was asleep almost before her head touched the pillows.

"Best thing in the world for them," grinned the Scarecrow, as Jellia
looked rather nervously from one sleeper to the other. "We'll probably
have to fly all night--if we get away from here at all! The Wiz needs a
good rest before he does any more piloting."

"Yes," agreed Jellia with a sigh, "I suppose he does. But I hope the
lion's not going to sleep, too?" Climbing to her throne, Jellia gave
him a good poke in the ribs. The lion, who was leaning back against the
cushions with both eyes closed, shook his head.

"I never sleep on an empty stomach," he declared firmly. "Besides, a
lion can go for days--if necessary--without rest or refreshment."

"Didn't you have anything to eat, at all?" inquired Jellia. Being
terribly hungry herself, she could sympathize with the hungry beast.

"Oh," answered the lion without opening his eyes, "we did have a few
square meal tablets the Wizard happened to have in his pocket. But,
while they fill you up, they don't seem to satisfy."

"Same with the food here," said Jellia.

"Food!" The Cowardly Lion's nose began to twitch with eagerness. "Where
is any?"

"If I am not mistaken, supper is approaching now!" announced the
Scarecrow, peering out through the side draperies of the Canopy. "Is
this one of your many servants, my dear?"

"Oh, I suppose so," said Jellia, as Bittsywittle trudged up the crystal
steps balancing a huge tray on his head. He had been warned of the
change in Strut, but the sight of the huge monster on the throne
unnerved the little fellow and he began to tremble so violently, the
dishes on the tray danced a regular jig.

"Just put the tray on the table," directed Jellia, patiently. "And
don't jump, Bittsywittle! Strut won't bite you."

"How do you know I won't?" roared the Cowardly Lion, opening his eyes
so wide Bittsywittle set down the tray and scuttled off like a hare.
Without much enthusiasm, Jellia noted Kabebe had sent them six saucers
of wind pudding and six glasses of air-ade.

"Don't touch it!" warned the Soldier with Green Whiskers, as the lion
slithered off the throne and ambled to the table. "It will make you
feel very funny."

"Well, I'd rather feel funny than sad," said the lion, sniffing the
pudding delicately, "and I'd rather feel funny than starve. Aren't you
having any, Jellia?"

"No, thank you!" Jellia shook her head sharply and exchanged a quiet
wink with Wantowin. But the Cowardly Lion did not notice the wink. Or
at least, he pretended not to and hurriedly lapped up all six saucers.

"Why, it's delicious!" he murmured rapturously, "Deli--"

"Hey, where you going?" The Scarecrow had been watching him enviously,
for the pink pudding looked so good he almost wished he found it
necessary to eat. But now he spun round in alarm, for without any
warning at all, the lion had swelled and puffed up like a carnival
balloon and gone wafting upward to soar in dizzy circles over their
heads.

"Oh, he's just putting on airs because he's King," teased Jellia,
wishing Dorothy were awake to enjoy the fun.

"But he might easily float off," worried the Scarecrow, pursuing the
luckless lion with outstretched arms. "Wait--I'll save you!" he puffed,
and snatching the cord from a long bell pull, he leaped on Strut's
throne. After several unsuccessful attempts he managed to lasso the
lion and tie him fast to the arm of the throne. "How do you feel?" he
called solicitously, for the lion, with closed eyes and a desperate
expression, was paddling his legs like a drowning dog.

"Oh, take it easy!" advised Jellia, relenting a little, "You'll float
around all by yourself and come down presently, as light as a feather.
I know 'cause I've tried it. Hello--here's Hippenscop! Now I wonder
what he wants? Oh! My goodness! He's actually brought me two of those
flying sticks!"

"Flying sticks?" exclaimed the Scarecrow, sliding off Strut's throne.
"You don't tell me?" The messenger, by this time had reached the top
step of the Pavilion. After a fearful look at the people from Oz, he
advanced timidly toward Jellia.

"I have brought the flying sticks, your Majesty!" explained Hippenscop,
holding them out with great pride and satisfaction. "I stole them from
two sleeping watchmen, and managed to bring them here without Kabebe
seeing me."

"KABEBE?" said Jellia, with an uncomfortable start. "Why, where is
Kabebe?"

"In Star Park," whispered the Messenger, hoarsely. "She's got all the
people worked up and excited! They're coming here presently to blow you
away!"

"What?" gasped Jellia in an exasperated voice, "Again? Why she knows
Strut will never allow that."

"But Kabebe says HE isn't Strut!" said the messenger with an apologetic
bow toward the Cowardly Lion, who, paying no attention to the
conversation, was floating in distracted circles above the throne.
"Now Junnenrump and I believe your Majesty, and consider you the best
and prettiest Starina Stratovania ever had! But no one else does, so
first they are going to blow away the Friend Ship and then they are
coming here to blow _you_ all away! So--while I do not presume to give
orders--if I were in your Majesty's place, I'd fly, this very instant
and while there still is time!"

"The boy is right," declared the Soldier, grabbing up his blunder-buss.
"Company! Fall in! Forward march!"

"Wake up! Wake up!" cried the Scarecrow, pummeling the Wizard with both
hands. "The Airlanders are destroying our Ozoplane!" While Jellia,
really touched by the messenger's loyalty, gave him one of her emerald
rings, Wantowin Battles lifted Dorothy off the sofa and set her hastily
on her feet.

"Forward! Forward!" he urged, pushing her ahead of him. "Kabebe's
coming to blow us away!" Dorothy--blinking her eyes after a look at
the Cowardly Lion floating over the throne--concluded she still was
dreaming. But the Soldier kept shaking her till she finally realized
she was awake and in danger.

"This way!" cried Jellia, as the Wizard bounced off his cushions.
"This way! The thing for us to do is to run to the other side of the
airosphere. Then, while those villains are blowing the Ozpril away, we
can be reaching the edge--and--"

"And WHAT?" queried Dorothy, looking at Jellia with round, scared eyes.
Jellia, for reasons of her own, did not answer. The Scarecrow already
had retrieved his balloons. Now he pressed the cord, still attached to
the Cowardly Lion, into Wantowin's hand.

"You must pull him along with you," directed the Scarecrow, earnestly.
"I am too light. And DO let's be starting!" The angry buzz of the crowd
on its way to Half Moon Lake, already could be heard. So, without
stopping to plan or reason, the travellers from Oz slipped through
the back curtains of the Royal Pavilion and began running as fast as
they could toward the other side of Strut's curious air realm. The
Wizard, grasping his kit bag in one hand and Dorothy by the other, went
first. Next came Jellia, carrying the two flying sticks; the Scarecrow
clutched his bunch of balloons. Last of all ran Wantowin, dragging the
growling and disgusted lion after him through the air. Fortunately
Stratovania is long and narrow. In less time than they had dared hope,
the little cavalcade came to the edge. Forbidding cliffs stretched
along the whole coast and the moist, blue air seemed actually to be
breaking in great waves against the rocks. As they all gazed unhappily
outward, a terrific "BOOM" made them all shudder.

"Well--there goes the Ozpril," mourned Jellia, patting the Wizard
compassionately on the shoulder. The Wizard, looking very angry and
grim, nodded his head. "Come on," puffed Jellia stepping closer to the
cliffs, "unless we want to go up with the ship we've got to jump! And
really--it's not so bad as it sounds! I've seen the airlanders fly with
these winged staffs, and these two will have to do for us all."

"How do they work?" asked Dorothy in a faint voice.

"Why, you tap them once on the ground to start, and once on the handle
to stop," explained Jellia breathlessly! "Now, suppose Dot and I and
the Scarecrow ride one, and Wiz and the Soldier, the other. And for
cake's sake--don't let go our lion!" added Jellia.

"But suppose he deflates and pulls us all down with his weight,"
groaned the Soldier. "Why can't he float along by himself?"

"Because I'm not going to have it!" said Jellia determinedly. "You must
hold on to him and risk whatever happens! And if anything does happen,
the Wizard will think of something!"

"I _have_ thought of something!" said the Wizard, composedly. "But
first we must do as Jellia says. HARK! Isn't that Kabebe calling you?"
As a matter of fact, it was. The Stratovanians, after witnessing the
blow-off of the Ozpril, had rushed back to the Royal Pavilion. Furious
at the disappearance of their victims, they now were rushing toward the
crystal cliffs, the screams of Kabebe rising above all the rest.

"What do we do--ride 'em like broomsticks?" jabbered the Scarecrow, as
Jellia with shaking hands held out one of the sticks to the Wizard.

"A good idea!" approved the little magician, watching with deep
interest as the wings on the tip of the staff opened and spread. "Come
along, Soldier, or the mob will get you yet!" With wildly beating
hearts, Dorothy and Jellia watched the Wizard and the Soldier mount
the flying stick and boldly leap from the cliff's edge. The Cowardly
Lion let out a terrified howl as he was dragged after them, but Jellia,
Dorothy and the Scarecrow, without further hesitation, mounted their
own staff and hurled themselves into space, just as the Queen and her
cohorts came panting into view.



CHAPTER 12

The Flight to Oz


Keeping the flying sticks in a more or less level position so they
would not slip off, and at the same time pointing them downward,
required no little skill. The Wizard, being used to magic appliances,
mastered his in double quick time. But Jellia, who sat in front on the
other staff soared up for seventy feet and across for fifty before she
learned the trick of flying it. During the first twenty minutes of
their flight, not a word was spoken. Each had enough to do to hold on,
and the Cowardly Lion, hurtling through the air beside the Soldier
with Green Whiskers, looked the picture of despair and discouragement.
A dozen times Dorothy, after a glance downward, gave herself up for
lost. But gradually the strangeness of their situation wore off.
Passing out of the moist, clammy strata just below Strut's Kingdom
into a dryer and less clouded area, the spirits of the little band of
adventurers rose. The wings of each flying staff, though not large,
were powerful as airplane propellers, and they flapped as rhythmically
as the wings of a bird.

"Not exactly like riding in an Ozoplane!" called the Wizard, waving
cheerfully to Jellia! "Still--it's better than falling, eh?" Jellia,
who had maneuvered her staff to a position close to his, nodded
emphatically.

"What worries me, is--the--altitude!" she called back presently.
"Somewhere or other we lost our air helmets. Will the effects of those
altitude pills wear off before we're out of the strat?"

"No, we'll be all right," promised the Wizard. "My altitude pills
condition one for the upper areas for several days at a time!"

"Oh! Then everything's splendid!" sighed Jellia, pushing back her curly
locks and smiling at Dorothy.

"Unless we meet a meteor, and then our flight will soon be o'er,"
quavered the Scarecrow, waving his arm in a doleful circle.

"Now, now, don't anticipate!" advised the Wizard, guiding the staff
with one hand and opening his kit bag with the other. For several
moments he had been anxiously regarding the Cowardly Lion. The buoyancy
resulting from the wind pudding was at last subsiding, and the swelled
and bloated appearance of the unfortunate beast was fast disappearing.
At almost any time now, the lion would become a dead weight. His
poundage--added to the Wizard's and the Soldier's--would be too much
for the flying staff and they all would plunge like plummets to the
earth. Feeling hurriedly around in the kit-bag, the Wizard pulled out
a small, black bottle. Uncorking it with his teeth, he turned it upside
down and held it out at arm's length until not a drop of its oily
contents remained.

"Now, don't be alarmed at a sudden bump!" he warned, as his companions
watched him with surprise and curiosity! "Whatever happens--hold on to
your staff!" Scarcely had the Wizard issued his warning when the air
directly beneath them froze into a solid block of blue ice on which
they landed with a series of bumps, and began sliding around in great
confusion. "Nothing to worry about! Nothing to worry about!" panted the
Wizard, keeping a firm hold on his flying stick and at the same time
managing to extract a large envelope from the kit-bag. "Hold on to
that stick, Jellia, and keep it down!"

The Cowardly Lion, completely deflated by his smack against the
ice, was sprawled flat as an animal skin in the center of the berg.
Dismounting from his own staff, the Wizard scurried perilously round
the edges of the rapidly falling block of ice scattering seeds from his
envelope with a lavish hand. Instantly, or so it seemed to Dorothy, a
thick green hedge sprang up, enclosing them snugly inside.

"To keep us from tumbling off," explained the Wizard, sliding anxiously
after Wantowin Battles, who was galloping round and round on his flying
stick like a child on a merry-go-round. "Whoa, whoa!" cried Ozma's
chief magician, grabbing the Soldier's coat-tails. "We need these
sticks to act as brakes to stop our fall!" Unseating the Soldier, the
Wizard lifted the flying stick and stuck it through the top branches
of the hedge. Bidding the others dismount from their staff, he thrust
it through the hedge on the opposite side. The wings of both staffs
kept up their steady beating and, as the Wizard had predicted, acted as
strong brakes on the plunging cake of ice.

"I was afraid we'd lose the lion," explained the Wizard as the little
company of adventurers gathered breathlessly round him.

"I'd just as lief be lost as frozen!" Sneezing plaintively, the lion
pulled himself to his feet and slid over to the hedge, bracing his back
against its stouter branches.

"It won't be long before we strike solid earth now, old fellow," the
Wizard observed brightly.

"Strike the earth!" roared the lion. "Well, good-bye, friends! I'll say
it now--before I'm squashed and scattered to the four points of the
compass!"

"Never mind, you'll make a lovely splatter!" teased the Scarecrow.
"Better stamp your feet, girls, to keep from freezing!"

"Here, stand on my coat," offered the Wizard, gallantly. "Not YOU!"
Indignantly he pushed the Soldier with Green Whiskers aside. "You can
stand on your own coat!"

"But it's against regulations for a soldier to appear without his
jacket," shivered Wantowin, piteously. "The manual of arms says--"

"How about the manual of feet?" snorted the Scarecrow, thankful he was
stuffed with cotton and incapable of feeling the cold. "Say, Wiz, I
guess this is about the oddest flying trip a band of explorers ever
had?"

"Did those magic drops freeze the air into ice?" called Dorothy. "And
how'd you grow the hedge so fast?"

"Yes, the drops froze the air," the Wizard bawled back, for the
rush of air as they shot downward made it difficult to hold polite
conversation, "And I just happened to have some of my instant sprouting
saplings in that kit-bag."

To keep up their spirits they continued to shout back and forth as
they fell. "I don't suppose we'll _ever_ catch up with Strut and Nick
Chopper now," screamed Jellia, hooking her arms securely through the
hedge.

"Why not?" cried the Wizard. "As soon as we land, we can fly these
flying sticks straight to the Emerald City, and be there before the
Oztober arrives. Remember now, the first one up after we hit the earth
is to snatch a winged staff."

"And how do you suppose we will be able to rise, after striking the
earth at one hundred and forty miles an hour?" roared the lion, a
trifle sarcastically.

"Well, it won't hurt _me_!" boasted the Scarecrow, holding to his hat
with both hands. He had lost the balloons long ago. "And I promise to
pick up the rest of you as soon as possible. Is--there--anything in
that kit-bag for breaks, sprains and bruises, Wiz?"

"Oh, hold your tongue!" snapped Jellia, trying to peer over the hedge.
"We're not going to crash at all! We'll probably get stuck on a steeple
or tower!"

"How'd Nick manage with his flying?" shrieked the Wizard, who was
anxious to change the subject. The less said about their landing the
better. Of course, they could take to the flying sticks and abandon the
Cowardly Lion, but that did not seem exactly sporting. So he resolutely
put the thought of it out of his mind.

"Grand, just grand!" answered Jellia, making a megaphone of her hands.
"Nick had the Oztober going smoothly as a swallow."

"That's good!" boomed the Wizard, beating his arms against his breast
to keep warm. "Maybe he'll get the best of Strut yet and bring the
Oztober safely down. I'd certainly like to have one ship left to
present to Ozma!"

"How long'll it be before we do get down?" called Dorothy, as the
Wizard paused for breath. "Seems to me we're falling faster. FASTER AND
FASTER!"

"Any minute now," predicted the Wizard, popping his head over the top
of the hedge. "Oh! It's going to be all right!" he shouted joyfully.
"We're coming down right in the middle of a great big--"

SPLASH!!!

Before the Wizard could finish his sentence, the block of ice struck
the smooth surface of a large, mountain lake, and went completely
under. As it came bobbing to the top, its drenched and shivering
passengers looked at one another with mingled dismay and relief.
Dorothy, picking up the Wizard's coat, handed it back and then
went slipping and sliding over to help the Scarecrow, who was too
water-soaked and sodden even to move.

"Wring me out! Hang me up to dry, somebody!" gurgled the straw man
dismally.

"Grrr--rah!" The Cowardly Lion, outraged at the cold plunge after all
the other shocks and indignities of the day, jumped over the hedge and
began to swim grimly for the shore. The Soldier with Green Whiskers,
better at carrying out orders than the others, already was pulling
one of the flying sticks from the hedge. As it came loose he took a
brief glance over the top, gave an agonized shriek and fell backward,
stepping all over the Wizard who was just behind him.

"An army!" shivered Wantowin, clutching his dripping
beard--"Thou--sands of them!"

"It is an army, too!" echoed Jellia, who had parted the hedge to have a
look for herself.

"What do they look like?" demanded the Wizard, shoving past the soldier
and grabbing the winged staff which was on the point of flying off by
itself.

"Like trouble!" said Jellia, reaching for Dorothy's hand. "They have
long bows and pointed red beards and--my goodyness--their beards are
pointed straight at us!"

"Bearded Bowmen, eh?" grunted the Wizard. "Well, that doesn't prove
they're unfriendly." The Wizard stuck his head over the hedge, barely
avoiding the arrow that sped past his ear.

"I suppose you'd call THAT friendly," sniffed Jellia, flopping on her
stomach and pulling Dorothy down with her. The Wizard had no time to
answer, for Wantowin Battles had one of the winged staffs and was
preparing to ride by himself.

"Drop it! Drop it at once!" commanded the Wizard sharply. "How dare
you fly off without us? Why it's plain desertion, that's what!"

"I was just going to do a bit of reconnoitering," mumbled the Soldier,
looking terrible abashed and then diving to a place beside Jellia as
three more arrows came hissing over the hedge. Quickly recovering the
staff, the wet little Wizard crouched down.

"Now girls!" he directed, panting from the exertion of holding down
both sticks. "When I give the signal, you and the Scarecrow mount one
staff, and Wantowin and I will mount the other, and fly high over the
enemy lines!"

"The higher the better," said Jellia, as a perfect shower of arrows
whizzed over their heads.



CHAPTER 13

The King of the Kudgers


The Wizard's plan worked very well, at first. He and the Soldier
astride one stick, Dorothy and Jellia, holding the poor, sodden
Scarecrow between them on the other, shot high into the air, across
the lake and over the amazed ranks of Bowmen drawn up on the bank.
Before the Red Beards had recovered from their surprise, the travellers
were winging strongly toward the turretted red castle that crowned the
mountain top. The Cowardly Lion, to escape the flying arrows, had swum
under water. Now, scrambling up the bank, he neatly skirted the enemy
and ran swiftly beneath the two, flying staffs.

"As soon as we're safely past this castle, we'll descend, rest, dry
our clothes and then proceed to the Emerald City," called the Wizard,
turning to wave encouragingly at the two girls.

But at that moment a dreadful thing happened. Sprawled on a huge camp
chair on the sloping terrace before the castle, its huge, red-bearded
owner suddenly sighted the flying sticks and their riders. Seizing
the long bow that lay beside him on the grass, he sent two arrows
speeding upward, one right after the other. Each arrow found its mark
and splintered a flying stick. With spine-shattering suddenness the
travellers crashed to earth. Dorothy, describing it to Ozma later,
explained that although she never had been in a battle, she knew
exactly how a warrior felt when his horse was shot from under him.
Except, of course, that a horseman would not have had so far to fall.
The Scarecrow, tumbling off first, softened the bump for both girls.
The Wizard and Soldier plunged headlong into a red-pepper bush. While
not seriously injured, they were grievously scratched and shaken. But
the worst was not the blow to their pride and persons, the worst was to
see the upper and winged halves of their precious sticks flying away
without them.

"Oh! Oh!" groaned the Wizard, leaping out of the pepper bush and
running for an anguished yard or two after the vanishing staffs. "This
is awful, AWFUL! Come back! Come down!" he implored, realizing even as
he shouted that the sticks could neither hear nor obey.

"Noo then, whew are yew?" The startled Red Beard hoisted himself out of
his camp chair. "W--itches riding on br--hoom sticks? Noo then, call
off yewer dog!" The Cowardly Lion, noting the mischief already done by
the Red King's bow, had seized it in his teeth and backed rapidly into
the bushes. The Wizard, reluctantly withdrawing his gaze from the sky,
now stamped over to the astonished owner of the castle.

"Just see what you've done," he cried angrily. "Destroyed the only
winged staffs in Oz. We flew them all the way from the Strat and now,
how are we to reach the Emerald City in time to stop the airlanders?
Don't you realize--but how could you?" In sudden discouragement the
Wizard broke off and stared despondently around the rugged mountain
top. "I must tell you," he began again in a hoarse and desperate voice,
"that Ozma and the Emerald City are in great danger. Strut of the
Strat and a host of his flying Stratovanians are descending to conquer
Oz and carry off Ozma's treasure. If we fail to warn her the city is
lost--doomed--I tell you! Since you have shattered our flying sticks
you must quickly supply us with some other means of travel. We must
reach the capital before morning!"

"MUST!" roared the Bearded Bowman. "Are yew shouting 'must' at ME?"

"Be careful!" cried Dorothy. For the Wizard, in his earnestness, had
stepped closer and closer to the red King. But her cry was too late.
Without any warning, the King's pointed beard, rising with his wrath,
pointed straight out and struck the valiant Wizard to the earth. For
a whole minute he lay perfectly still, staring up at this curious
phenomenon. Though he had seen many a beard in his day, he had never
been knocked down by one before.

"Whew are yew?" demanded the burly mountain monarch again. "How dare
yew fly over my castle and swim in my lake without permission?"
Stroking his beard which gradually resumed a vertical position on his
chest, he stared from one to the other of the adventurers. "No use to
run," he sneered as Wantowin Battles began to back toward the bushes.
"My bowmen will be here any moment now! But WHEW are YEW?"

"Wheww!" groaned Jellia, propping the bedraggled Scarecrow against a
rock. "A body'd hardly know, after such a welcome. Whew are yew,
yewerself, yew old Redbeard!"

"I?" roared the Bowman, taken completely by surprise. "Why, don't yew
know? I am Bustabo, King of the Kudgers and Red Top Mountain."

"I don't believe it," said the Wizard, leaping agilely to his feet and
shaking his fist under Bustabo's long nose. "A _real_ King would not
treat travellers as you have done, shoot away valuable flying sticks
and keep two lovely girls standing out here in the wind."

"How dew yew know what a King would dew?" demanded Bustabo, puckering
his forehead in an uneasy frown.

"Because," stated the Wizard, folding his arms disdainfully, "I
personally know all the most important rulers in Oz, and none of them
would behave as you have done. If you are a King, act like a King!"

"Whew are yew?" repeated the Ruler of Red Top, walking around the
little group with hands clasped behind his back.

"Oh, for Oz sake--tell him!" snarled the Cowardly Lion, poking his head
out of the bushes. "If he asks that question again I might eat him up,
pointed beard and all!"

"Well, this is the Wizard of Oz," explained Dorothy, as the Lion
stalked grimly out of the bushes, "Chief Magician for Ozma of Oz.
This--" Dorothy, with a wave of her hand, indicated the trembling
soldier, "This is Wantowin Battles, the Grand Army of Oz. Beside him
is our famous, live Scarecrow. I am Princess Dorothy of Oz and this is
Jellia Jam, First Lady in Waiting to Ozma. Coming toward you is the
Cowardly Lion of Oz."

"He doesn't look very cowardly to me," muttered Bustabo, putting the
camp chair between himself and the approaching beast.

"Oh, but I am cowardly," growled the lion growlishly, "and when I'm
frightened I never know what I'll do. I might even chew up the King of
this Mountain! Whoever heard of a King pointing his beard at harmless
travellers! Whoever heard of a King with a beard as hard and red as
yours, anyway! It's hard as iron from the looks of it."

"Harder!" agreed the King, evidently considering the lion's remark a
compliment. "All we Kudgers have red beards--not of soft hair like
his--" The Red King gazed contemplatively at the Soldier with Green
Whiskers, "but of hard hair like mine. I don't suppose yew've ever
seen a beard like this before. The point's sharp as a dagger, too," he
warned, as the lion sprang a pace closer.

"Oh, I'm sure it is," said Dorothy nervously. "And it's dreadfully
handsome, too. But could your Majesty please let us dry out in your
castle and then could you show us the quickest route to the Emerald
City? If you don't," finished Dorothy, clasping her hands anxiously,
"the ruler of this whole country of Oz may be captured and carried to
the Strat."

"What do I care about the Ruler of Oz?" sniffed Bustabo, scratching his
head in a most unkingly manner. "Ozma never does anything for me! Even
if she were conquered I'd still have my Mountain. Why should I help yew
or her or them?" His scornful wave included the whole little group.
"What can yew dew for me?" he asked sullenly. "Can yew sing?" His dull
eye brightened momentarily as it rested inquiringly on Dorothy.

"Well, a little," confessed Dorothy, smoothing down her damp dress.
Clearing her throat and fixing her eye on the top of a red pine, she
started in rather a choked voice:

    "Oh, Bright and gay is the Land of Oz
    We love its lakes and hills becoz--"

"There, there! That will dew!" Bustabo snapped his fingers impatiently,
and taking out a little book scribbled hastily: "Can't sing."

"Can yew dance?" he demanded, addressing himself to Jellia. "We are
short of good dancers on this mountain." Jellia by this time was in
such a state of cold and temper, she stamped her foot and turned her
back on the unmannerly monarch. "Can't dance," wrote Bustabo under the
first entry.

"Well, then--what _dew_ yew dew?" he asked, turning in exasperation to
the Wizard.

"I?" said the Wizard, twirling his water-soaked topper, "I, am a
Wizard. Naturally I supposed a King like yourself would have everything
he desired. But if that is not the case, tell me what you wish and
perhaps I can help you. Only be quick!" he added earnestly, "for we
have no time to lose."

"Sooo, yew really are a Wizard!" Bustabo's expression became almost
agreeable. "Well, then," he drew himself up pompously. "The Princess
whom I wish to wed has unaccountably disappeared. Find and return her
to this castle, and I will speed yew and yewer friends to the Emerald
City by the safest and swiftest route!"

"But that would take too much time," objected the Wizard, rubbing his
chin anxiously. "Who is this Princess? Why has she gone? What is her
name and what does she look like?"

"If yew were a real Wizard yew would know all these things without my
telling yew," answered Bustabo, looking suspiciously at Ozma's Chief
Magician. "I'll tell you this much, though. The Princess whom I would
marry is called Azarine, the Red. Not three days ago she was in this
castle, but on the morning of our wedding day she ran off into the
forest, and though all my Bowmen have been searching ever since, not a
trace of her have they found!"

"Humph, the girl showed very good sense, if you ask me," sniffed the
Cowardly Lion, shaking his mane, "What did you do? Point your beard at
her? Come on, Wiz! Let's go. We're just wasting time here."

"Aha, but yew cannot leave! Look behind yew!" Bustabo, with an enormous
laugh, pointed over his shoulder. Silently as Indians the Bearded
Bowmen had crept up and entirely surrounded the little company on the
green. Standing in a circle with bows raised and beards pointed, they
fairly dared anyone to take a step. "Soo, then, it's all settled!" The
Red King clapped the Wizard heartily on the back. "Don't think I have
not heard of yewer skill, Mister Weezard. Even here on Red Top we've
heard rumors of the wonderful Weezard of Oz. Now all yew have to dew
is walk into that forest, find the Princess and bring her back to me.
Meanwhile, I shall treat these others as my guests. They shall rest and
warm themselves and have all they wish to eat. If by morning yew have
failed to return, I shall regretfully be forced to throw them off the
mountain. If yew dew return, yew will find that Bustabo will keep his
word and bargain."

The Wizard hardly knew what to say.

"If he knows so much, why does he not help himself?" demanded one of
the Red Beards, stepping insolently out of the circle. "People who
can fly through the air on icebergs and sticks do not need help from
ordinary folk like us. Why doesn't he fly to the Emerald City if he's
so smart? I'll tell you why--because he's not the Wizard of Oz! He's a
fraud, that's what!"

"If he's a fraud then you're a rascal!" cried Jellia Jam, remembering
suddenly that she recently had been a Starina. "Your Princess is as
good as found, Mister King! Isn't that so, Wizard?" Meeting Jellia's
firm gaze, the Wizard nodded quickly.

"This young Oz maid is right, your Majesty! Before the sun rises
Azarine will return to this castle!"

"Yes--and now bid your vassals lead us into the castle!" ordered Jellia
sharply. "Bring us soup, meat, bread, vegetables, salad and plenty of
fruit and cake!"

Bustabo, after a long look both at Jellia and the Wizard, motioned for
the Bowmen to lead the visitors into the castle. The Cowardly Lion
trailed suspiciously along in the rear, keeping a sharp watch to see
that no beards were pointed at his friends. The Wizard accompanied
them part way, conversing in earnest whispers with Jellia and Dorothy.
Wantowin Battles supported the dripping and still helpless Scarecrow,
and each tried not to show the anxiety he felt when the Wizard finally
turned to leave them.

"Goodbye, all!" he said, lifting his dripping hat. "Goodbye,
Jellia--_here is your bag_!" Tapping the kit-bag significantly, he
pressed it into Jellia's cold hands. Then, without a word to Bustabo or
his Henchmen, he strode resolutely toward the dark forest that covered
the sides and more than half of the top of the mountain. Relenting a
little, the Red King sent a Bowman running after him with a basket of
provisions. Taking the basket with a brief nod of thanks, the Wizard
waved again to his friends and marched straight into the gloomy and
forbidding woods.



CHAPTER 14

Azarine the Red


The late afternoon shadows made the forest seem even gloomier. The
little Wizard, trudging along under the rustling red trees, hands
thrust deep into his pockets, never had felt more depressed or
unhappy. He had hated to leave his friends with a Monarch as cruel and
untrustworthy as Bustabo. Still, he had the utmost confidence in Jellia
Jam. The Young Oz Miss doubtless had some plan in her clever little
head and had chosen this way for him to escape, meaning to follow with
the others at the first opportunity. Anyway, he reflected, dropping
down on a heap of fallen leaves and resting his back against a tree,
they had the kit-bag to help them, if worst came to worst. Perhaps if
he concentrated and thought very hard, he could recall the powerful
incantation for locating missing persons and articles.

But a Wizard without his books and equipment, is almost as helpless
as a doctor without his pills and medicine bag. Try as he would, the
Wizard could not remember the proper combination of words to bring
back the missing Princess. His short nap in Stratovania had rested him
a little, but he still was dreadfully weary from his gruelling flight
and the recent shocks and mischances. The loss of the Ozpril had been
the worst blow of all and now his tired brain simply refused to work.
So, sitting sadly under the tree, he munched the sandwiches from the
basket, drank from the bottle of cold tea and wished fervently for a
fire to warm himself, for his clothes were still damp and clammy from
the dive in Bustabo's lake. It comforted him a little to know that the
others were drying out and enjoying a good supper in the castle. But
it was no comfort at all to realize that Strut and his legions were
winging their way toward the Emerald City--the city _he_ had built and
lived in so long it seemed more like home than any place he had known
in America.

The Wizard crammed the rest of the sandwiches into the basket and
started recklessly through the forest, tripping over tough vines and
rocks, bumping into trees and peering desperately about for traces of
a Princess, or for any sign that might tell him in which direction
the Emerald City lay. From the slant of the ground he knew he was
travelling down the mountain, and the deep, red foliage told him he was
somewhere in the Quadling country of Oz. But with night coming on and
the shadows growing deeper and darker, he probably would lose his
way entirely and never get out of the forest at all. He felt uneasy at
leaving his comrades behind in the Red King's Castle. Was it better to
try to save Ozma and the Emerald City, or to stay in this forest and
help Dorothy and Jellia and the devoted friends who had embarked on
this unexpected adventure with him?

Stopping short, the Wizard pressed both hands to his forehead in an
effort to make up his mind. Night already had overtaken him and it
was now so dark, it was impossible to see more than a foot or so in
any direction. Occasional roars, the snapping of twigs and the gleam
of yellow eyes from the thicket, caused him no little anxiety. At an
especially savage roar, he suddenly stopped worrying about Ozma and the
others and began to do considerable worrying about himself.

How humbling for a Wizard to be devoured by a hungry beast. Backing
softly away from the approaching monster, he began looking sharply
about for a hollow tree, a cave or even a clump of bushes where he
might conceal himself. On the tip of his tongue and ready for instant
use was the magic word which would render him invisible. Fortunately
he did remember that. But the Wizard never wasted words, magic or
otherwise. Resolving to wait till the last possible moment, he
continued to back rapidly and cautiously. Then, unexpectedly from
behind him came another distraction--the clear ringing of a silver
bell. At the same time the gloom was pierced by a dancing ray of
light. Swinging round, the Wizard flung up both arms and not knowing
whether to dash into the teeth of the monster in front of him, or risk
the lowered horns of the huge beast behind him, the startled magician
uttered the word that rendered him invisible.

"Brr--rah!" raged the burly, bear-like creature, rearing up on his hind
legs. "Where is that pesky man-creature? I saw him a moment ago, but
now, though I still catch his scent, he has hidden from me. And why
must you, Shagomar, come horning in to spoil my supper? Why cannot you
mind your own business, Br-rrah!"

"I am minding my own business," roared the creature addressed as
Shagomar. "AWAY--you Entomophagus monster! Haven't I told you time
and again to keep away from the cave of the Princess? The very next
bug-bear that comes prowling 'round shall have a taste of my antlers!
Get on with you now, and after this--leave harmless travellers alone!"

The great red stag made a short rush at the ugly beast blocking his
path. Large as a Grizzly, half insect and half bear, it held its
ground uncertainly for a moment, then shuffled off into the darkness,
grunting angrily.

The Wizard, who had jumped hastily from between the two beasts, had
listened to the stag's words with lively interest and astonishment.
Huge and sandy, with antlers of tremendous breadth, the huge creature
now stood quiet as a statue. From one antler prong hung a flashing
silver lantern. From another dangled the bell which had so startled the
Wizard.

"Well, friend! Are you still there?" whispered the Stag, softly.
Instead of answering, the Wizard uttered the word that would make him
visible. "Come with me!" directed the Stag, showing neither surprise
nor curiosity at the Wizard's sudden reappearance. "You will be safer
with us in the cave. Surely you are a stranger on Red Top or you would
know it is dangerous to wander in this forest at night."

"Oh, I don't mind danger," said the Wizard, striding sturdily beside
the Stag. "I am used to danger--and I must reach the Emerald City
before morning! Ozma and her whole capitol are threatened by a band
of ruthless Airlanders, and unless I can give them some warning, the
Emerald City certainly will be captured by Strut of the Strat. I am
Ozma's Chief Magician, fallen by great misfortune into this forest."

"I thought you might be a Wizard," murmured Shagomar, pausing to nibble
at a few tender leaves. "And you say the Ruler of the whole Land of Oz
is in danger? Hah, well--we all have our troubles." Exhaling his breath
noisily, Shagomar looked off between the trees with a troubled frown.
"I cannot direct you to the Emerald City, but I'm sure the Princess can
help you."

"What Princess do you mean?" asked the Wizard, curious to hear what
Shagomar would say.

"Azarine!" whispered the Stag, looking around carefully to see that no
one was listening. "Azarine the Red--Ruler of Red Top Mountain!"

"But I thought Bustabo was ruler of the mountain! I just came from his
castle!" sputtered the Wizard. "He certainly told me he was King of the
Kudgers."

"King of the Kudgers--pfui!" The stag shook his head as if a bee
were in his ear, while his bell played a regular roundelay. "Bustabo
was, till a week ago, Chief Bowman in Her Majesty's Guard. Using his
position and his men to help him, he has wickedly seized Azarine's
throne, insisting that Azarine permit him to be the King of all the
Kudgers. When our little Princess refused, she was locked up in the
tower. But, with the assistance of a faithful servant, she managed to
escape, and has been hiding in this forest ever since. I, being an old
and trusted friend, have been looking out for her and will protect her
with horn and hoof until her own loyal subjects unseat this miserable
imposter!"

"Whew--so that's the way it is?" The Wizard thrust his hands more
deeply into his pockets. "Well, that settles _that_! I won't do it--no
matter what happens!"

"Won't do what?" questioned the Stag, looking down sideways at the
little man.

"Oh--nothing!" Kicking at a stone, the Wizard walked along in a
depressed silence. Surely no one ever had been in a worse dilemma. If
he managed by a trick or by force to carry Azarine back to the Red
Castle, Dorothy and his friends would be released instantly and all
of them speeded on their way to the Capitol. If he did not return
the Princess to the castle, his brave and faithful companions would
be flung off the mountain, Strut would conquer the Emerald City and
everything would be lost. LOST!

But when, a few minutes later, the Stag pushed through a cluster of
bushes that concealed the entrance to the cave, and the Wizard stepped
into the presence of Azarine herself, he knew he never would force her
surrender to the infamous Bustabo.

Seated pensively on a rough boulder beside a small fire was the
prettiest little Princess the Wizard had almost ever seen. Her hair,
long and red as Glinda's, fell in satiny waves to her feet. She wore a
little mesh cap of pearls and a white satin, Princess dress. A long,
red velvet cloak hung loosely from her shoulders. Not exactly the
costume for a cave, but vastly becoming. Azarine's pale and flower-like
face was sweet and gentle and, when she saw the wet and weary traveller
with Shagomar, she jumped up to welcome him as graciously as though she
still were mistress of her castle.

"Why, it's the Wizard of Oz!" she cried joyfully, after a second look
at the guest. "Oh, we _all_ know the Wizard of Oz! I have a picture of
you right over the grand piano in my castle. Wherever did you find him,
Shaggy dear? Has he come all this way to help us?"

"It will be a great pleasure and privilege, if I may," said the Wizard,
sitting on a rock opposite the Princess and placing his high hat
between his knees. "Just now, I happen to be in as much trouble as your
Highness. But perhaps--" the Wizard looked thoughtfully at the Stag
standing motionless at the entrance of the cave--"can Shagomar run?"

"Oh, yes! Terribly fast!" Azarine assured him, eagerly. "Faster than
eagles can fly, than water can fall down the mountain, faster than any
creature on Red Top. Shaggy can do anything!" Jumping up, the Princess
ran over to lean her head against the Red Stag's shoulder. "He goes to
the village each day and returns with food. He has brought me blankets
for my bed, pillows for my head, and has kept away the fierce Bug-bears
and all other wild beasts that roam the Red Wood. I don't know what I
should have done without him!" The Princess added softly, "Shaggy's
such a dear!"

"You're both dears!" agreed the Wizard.

"Are we?" Azarine twinkled her eyes at the Wizard, "But Shaggy's the
biggest, and we've always been friends, haven't we?" The Stag, looking
down at Azarine with his bright, steadfast eyes, nodded so vigorously
that the bell on his antlers rang a veritable medley, and the rays from
the silver lantern danced into every corner of the dreary cavern.

"Well then," the Wizard rubbed his hands briskly together, "Shaggy
shall carry us straight to the Palace of Glinda, the Good Sorceress of
the South. As Red Top Mountain is in the Quadling Country, her palace
must be somewhere quite near."

"Oh, it is! It is!" beamed Azarine. "I've often seen her lights, from
the towers on Red Top. It's just a mile or two from the base of this
mountain. I never have seen Glinda, but I have heard she is very good
and a Powerful Sorceress. Do you think she can force Bustabo to give me
back my castle and my Kingdom?"

"I know it!" declared the Wizard, picking up his hat and clapping it on
the back of his head. "But before we start for Glinda's, I must go back
and rescue my friends from that thieving Red Beard."

Marching forth and back before the fire, the Wizard related all
that had happened since he and his party had started off in the two
Ozoplanes. Hearing the strange tale, Azarine almost forgot her own
troubles. When the Wizard told how Bustabo had broken the winged staffs
on which they hoped to ride to the Emerald City, and of the wicked
bargain he had driven, the little Princess generously offered to return
to the Red Castle so that Ozma and Oz might be saved. But the Wizard
would not hear of such a thing. "No!" he decided--"Shaggy and I will go
back and manage, somehow, to release my comrades from the castle. Then,
we all can start for Glinda's together."

"Wait," whistled the Stag, who had been listening to the Wizard's story
with distended eyes and nostrils. "Wait, first I will fetch Dear Deer."

"Who in Oz, is Dear Deer?" inquired the Wizard, as Shagomar melted like
a shadow through the dark opening of the cavern.

"His wife," explained Azarine with an excited skip. "And that will be
just splendid, for Dear Deer shall carry all of your friends, and we
can ride Shaggy!"



CHAPTER 15

In the Red Castle


And now let us peek into the doings of Jellia, Dorothy and the others,
after they mournfully watched the Wizard stalk off into the forest.

With Bowmen ahead of them and Bowmen closely following, the prisoners
marched slowly into the castle. Afraid not to hurry on account of the
sharp-pointed beards of the Guards, the little party progressed almost
at a run.

Hurrying them through the beautiful throne room and other cheerful
apartments on the first floor, the Bowmen lead them to a covered stone
stairway curving up from the back courtyard. Up, up, and up, tramped
the Bowmen, and up, up, and up trudged the weary travellers. It seemed
to Dorothy they had climbed a thousand steps before they reached the
top. Both girls were frightened, but holding their backs straight and
their chins high, they stepped haughtily along without even a glance at
their red-bearded captors. Unlocking an iron door at the head of the
stair, the Guards gruffly ushered them into a round, stone-walled room
at the very top of the tower. Relocking the door just as gruffly, they
took their departure.

"Thank gooseness, there's a fire!" shivered Jellia, running across
the room to hold out her hands to the crackling blaze. "As soon as
we're warm and dry we can decide what to do. Pull up a couple of those
benches, Wantowin, and for cake's sake, don't look so glum! Nobody's
been hurt yet!"

"Ah--but what of the morning?" The Soldier with Green Whiskers wagged
his head, dismally. "That rogue of a Red Beard will pitch us off this
mountain quick as _that_!" Wantowin snapped his cold fingers. "One toss
from this tower and we're done!" groaned the Army, turning away from
one of the barred windows with a positive shudder. Glancing out the
window nearest her, Dorothy saw that the tower had been built at the
very edge of the mountain. Jagged rocks far below, and long-dead trees
jutting out from the sides of the sheer precipice, made it even more
formidable.

"I'm going to sleep," mumbled the lion, settling himself near the fire.
"What I don't see, won't make me feel more cowardly."

"How true," thought Dorothy. Backing away from the window and
resolutely keeping her mind off the precipice, she began to help Jellia
drape the Scarecrow over a bench close to the fire.

"Not too close, girls," begged the Straw Man nervously. "Fire's almost
as bad for me as water. One little spark and--pouff! Nothing but a
bonfire of your old friend and comrade!"

At this point a sharp tap on the door made them all jump, but it was
only a servant carrying a large tray. At least, Bustabo was keeping
his promise about supper. The servant was round and jolly. He looked
sympathetically at the little company, but evidently was afraid to
speak to them. Placing his tray on a table in the center of the room,
he bowed stiffly and withdrew, locking the door carefully behind him.

"Not bad," said Jellia, lifting cover after cover from the silver
serving dishes. "Not bad at all! Give us a hand, Wanny, and we'll pull
the table over to the fire. My gooseness, this is almost as good as a
party!"

Seating herself next to Dorothy who already was busy, Jellia bit
rapturously into a crisp roll. "Mmm--mmm! This is the first food I've
tasted since we left the Emerald City. Draw up, Liony! This roast lamb
will make you forget that wind pudding. You may have _all_ the roast,
and we'll manage with the vegetables, the soup, salad and dessert!"

Dusk was falling and the tower room was hardly cheerful, but sitting
on their hard benches close to the fire, the prisoners dined almost as
well as though they had been in the Emerald City. Now that his hunger
was satisfied, even the Soldier with Green Whiskers began to look less
desperate. The Scarecrow, now completely dry though a little wrinkled,
was his old, witty self again.

As it grew darker, Jellia lit the rusty lantern on the stone mantel,
and Wantowin placed another log on the fire. There was a heap of
blankets on one of the benches. No other beds being visible, the
girls spread several on the hearth. Resting their backs comfortably
against the sleeping lion, they conversed in low and guarded whispers.
Wantowin, considering it his duty to stand guard, dragged a bench
across the doorway. Wrapping himself up in a blanket, he was soon
snoring louder than the Cowardly Lion. The servant had removed the
tray, and sounds from below had long since ceased. They knew it must be
way past midnight, but Dorothy and Jellia were unable to relax.

"I wonder how the Wizard's getting along!" mused Dorothy, pulling the
blanket a little closer. "It must be awfully dark in that forest."

"Oh, Wiz'll be all rights--depend on that!" Jellia spoke with a
heartiness she was far from feeling. "He'll have that Princess here
before sun-up. If he doesn't, we'll just light out and find him!"

"Light out?" inquired the Scarecrow, drawing back still further from
the fire. "How do you mean?"

"Yes," echoed Dorothy, moving closer to Jellia as a board creaked
somewhere below. "How do you mean?"

"Oh, I don't just know," admitted Jellia, frankly. "But there might be
something in this kit-bag to help! Let's have a look, anyway." Dragging
it from under a bench where she had stowed it on their arrival, Jellia
zipped it open and began feeling inside, curiously. "I never have had
a chance to examine it properly," Jellia said. "But that cheer gas
certainly came in handy, and the freezing fluid and sapling seeds were
pretty neat, too! My, whatever are these, now?" Folded neatly on the
very top were four suits of blue pajamas, with hoods and feet attached
like those in an infant's sleeping garment.

Holding one near to the blaze so she could read the pink placard on
the pocket, Jellia gave a little gasp. "Oh, listen!" she whispered,
catching Dorothy's sleeve. "It says:

    '_These falling-out suits have not been tested, but I believe
    they will work and prove safe and practical in case of
    accident.--WIZ._'"

"I suppose the Wizard meant them for his Ozoplane passengers to
use, instead of parachutes," decided Dorothy, fingering one rather
doubtfully. "Well, I should hate to be the _first_ to try one!"

"Oh, I don't know," Jellia, her head on one side, pensively considered
the blue pajamas. "I think they're real cute. I think--HARK! What was
that?" Dropping the pajamas, she clutched Dorothy as the unmistakable
tread of a heavy boot came stamping up the stair.

"Bustabo!" shivered Dorothy. "Oh--he's not going to wait till morning!
He's coming for us now! Oh, Jellia, JELLIA--what shall we DO?"
Dorothy's voice, rising almost to a shriek, roused the Cowardly Lion.
Cocking one ear and arriving at exactly the same conclusion as the
little girl, the lion sprang over to waken the Soldier with Green
Whiskers. The Scarecrow already was hurrying from window to window,
trying the bars with his flimsy, cotton fingers. At the window nearest
the fireplace he gave a joyful little grunt, for some former prisoner
had managed to saw through three of the iron bars. As the Scarecrow
pushed, they moved creakily outward.

"Quick! Come help me!" urged the Scarecrow, dragging the terrified
and only half-awake Soldier to the window. "On with those parachute
suits, girls! We'll jump before we're tossed out!" Dorothy and Jellia
exchanged desperate glances and then--as the steps on the stair thumped
louder and nearer--each grabbed a falling-out suit and zipped herself
tidily inside.

"Here!" panted Jellia, down on her hands and knees beside the Cowardly
Lion, "you can put your front feet in anyway--and _anything_ will be
better than _nothing_, when you fall!" To her relief and surprise, she
discovered that the pajamas would stretch! Even the lion could wear
them without too much discomfort. Except for a cramp in his tail which
was coiled tightly on his back, the lion fitted into his pajamas
nicely.

As the Soldier with Green Whiskers was trembling too violently to help
himself or anyone else, Jellia jerked and pushed him into one of the
falling-out suits. Then, picking up the Wizard's kit-bag and looking
solemnly back at her anxious comrades, Jellia climbed to the window
sill. "I'll go first," she announced, closing her eyes so she would not
see the rocks below, and her mouth, to keep her teeth from chattering.

"No! Let me! I insist on going first," cried the Scarecrow, springing
nimbly up beside Jellia. "Falling does not hurt me at all."

"Oh, hurry! Hurry!" begged Dorothy, glancing fearfully over her
shoulder. The footsteps were now so loud and near, she expected the
door to burst right open and Bustabo's red face to appear.

"Goodbye! I'm off!" Before the Scarecrow could stop her, Jellia was
off, indeed! Clutching the kit-bag to her bosom, she squeezed through
the opening between the bars and dove headlong into space! Next, the
Scarecrow, with a sad little wave to Dorothy, dropped out of sight.
"Help me push this so-called Soldier out!" puffed Dorothy, as the
Cowardly Lion signalled for her to go next. "If we leave him till
last--he'll never jump at all!"

"Halt! About face! Help! Mama! Papa! Help! Help! HELP!" wailed Wantowin
Battles. But Dorothy relentlessly forced him to the sill and through
the opening. As his wildly thrashing legs disappeared over the edge,
whoever was coming up the stairs, broke into a run. Thump, thump,
THUMPETY-THUMP! Trembling in every muscle, Dorothy climbed to the sill.
Spreading both arms, she launched herself into the air.

She heard the grunt of the Cowardly Lion as he forced his way through
the opening. Then the fierce rush of wind past her ears as she pitched
downward, drowned out all other sounds. At first she was sure the
Wizard's falling-out suits were failures, for the lion plunged past
her, falling like a plummet. She, too, was whirling downward so
fast she felt sure she would be crushed on the rocks below. Closing
her eyes, she tried to resign herself to whatever was coming. Then,
suddenly, the pajamas filled with air, ballooning out till she floated
lightly as a feather. The question now was--would she _ever_ come down?

There was no moon, and in the faint starlight she could make out three
other, bulky shapes spinning through the air just beneath her. By
kicking her legs and flapping her arms, Dorothy managed to miss several
jutting rocks and tree limbs. As she floated lower, the suit began
gradually to deflate, finally letting her down as softly as could be,
on a strip of sand at the base of the mountain. A little distance away
she could see Jellia, already stepping out of her falling-out suit,
and the Cowardly Lion, waiting impatiently for someone to help him out
of his. Wantowin Battles, very brave now that the danger was past,
already had stripped off his flying suit and was shaking and patting
the Scarecrow into shape, for the poor straw man had been completely
flattened out by his fall.

"Well, how did you like it?" called Jellia, hurrying over to help the
lion untangle himself. "After the first swoop, it wasn't bad at all.
Really, I quite enjoyed it!"

"_Enjoyed_ it!" choked the Lion, looking indignantly from Dorothy
to Jellia. "I'll never set foot in a plane again as long as I live.
Brrrrah! Ever since we left the Emerald City we've been falling--flying
and blowing about like yesterday's papers. Now that I'm on solid ground
at last, I intend to stay there! The rest of you may do as you please,
but I shall walk home if it takes a year!"

"I don't blame you," said Jellia, patting the lion soothingly on the
nose. "But we can't start without the Wizard. We'll have to hide here
till morning and then try to find him."

"Let him find us," growled the Lion, lashing his tail experimentally
to see whether there was any wag left in it after the shameful way it
had been cramped in the suit, "The whole trip was his idea--not mine!"

"Oh, hush," warned Dorothy. "Someone will hear you! Ooooh! Someone
has!" And sure enough, the faint tinkle of a bell come mysteriously
through the gloom.

"Mercy, do you suppose those Red Beards have started after us already?"
cried Jellia looking around for the kit-bag. "But how could they have
come down the mountain as fast as we fell?"

"They couldn't," whispered the Scarecrow, picking up the bag and
handing it to Jellia. "But don't worry, my dears! It's probably a
herd of goats or cattle. These mountaineers often put bells on their
animals. Just keep still and don't move and they won't notice us at
all." Flattening themselves against the rocks at the foot of the
mountain, the five adventurers waited tensely. But when a huge, shaggy
shape loomed out of the darkness and came charging straight toward
them, all five screamed and started to slither sideways.

"Wait! Don't run! Don't be frightened!" begged an agitated voice.
"Don't you know me? It's I! It's _me_! THE WIZARD!"



CHAPTER 16

Escape from Red Top


As the great stag came to a sliding halt, the rays from his silver
lantern cast a wavering light over the little group crouched against
the rocks.

"Hello! How ever did you escape from the castle?" demanded Ozma's
little Magician, sliding recklessly off the high back of his steed and
embracing them jubilantly. "We were just coming to help you. Girls,
Scarecrow, Soldier, Lion--may I present Azarine, the real Princess of
this Mountain, and Shagomar and Dear Deer, her friends!"

Dorothy and Jellia were so stunned by the unexpected appearance of the
Wizard, they were able only to manage a couple of breathless bows. And
indeed, the lovely picture Azarine made, seated demurely on the huge,
red stag, was enough to render anyone speechless. Shaggy himself was
breath-taking, too. Not only the lantern and bell hung from his antlers
now, but perched unconcernedly on the tallest prong, was a lovely,
white pigeon with a key in his bill.

"This pigeon was going to fly up to the tower with the key to the
door," explained the Wizard, as his five comrades continued to gaze
at him in stupefied silence. "Fortunately Azarine, who was imprisoned
there before you, had an extra key. She said Bustabo would lock you up
in the tower!" exclaimed the Wizard with a nod at the Princess. "But
since you already are out and down, we'll not need the key. Tell me,
how did you manage to escape? What did you do? Break down the door?"

"No--we just stepped out the window," the Scarecrow told him with a
nonchalant wave upward.

"You mean, you jumped all this distance?" gasped Azarine leaning
forward to peer between Shaggy's branching antlers, while Dear Deer
trotted closer to nudge Dorothy with her soft, moist nose.

"Well--sort of," explained Jellia, putting an arm around the Cowardly
Lion, who still was looking extremely sulky. "But first we put on those
falling-out suits, Wiz, and you'll be glad to know they really worked."

"Splendid! _Splendid!_" beamed the Wizard, with a satisfied shake of
his head. "You know--I'd completely forgotten them, but I felt sure
you'd find some useful magic in the kit. Did Bustabo keep his promises?"

"Well, he locked us up in the tower, and he gave us a pretty good
supper," answered Dorothy. "But we didn't like being prisoners, and
we didn't feel safe in that castle. Then, a little while ago when we
heard him thumping up the stair--we just decided to leave! And so--we
left!"

"So we see! So we see!" The Wizard grinned appreciatively, delighted
by the spirit of the two girls. "But perhaps we'd better be off! No
knowing when Bustabo and his Bowmen will be coming to look for you.
Shagomar and Dear Deer have kindly agreed to carry us to the castle of
Glinda the Good. Once there--with Glinda's magic to help me, I'll find
some way to deal with Strut, and to force Bustabo to give up Azarine's
throne.

"Now suppose you two girls and the Scarecrow mount Dear Deer, and the
Soldier and I will ride with the Princess." Dear Deer, at the Wizard's
words, moved over to a flat rock. Without any trouble at all, Jellia
and Dorothy climbed to places on her back. Then the Scarecrow vaulted
up behind, clasping his arms 'round Jellia to keep from slipping off.
When Wantowin and the Wizard had mounted behind Azarine, the two Deer
swung away from the mountain. With the Cowardly Lion loping easily
between, they ran swiftly toward the Southlands.

Their gait was so smooth it seemed to Jellia they were flying like
figures in a dream through the shadowy forest, with only the twinkle
of the silver lantern to light their way. As they raced along Azarine
again told the story of Bustabo's treachery and how Shagomar had
brought the Wizard to her hidden cave. Then the two girls amused the
little Princess with the story of their experiences in the Strat. They
told her all about their life at home in the Emerald City, and of the
curious celebrities who lived in the palace with Ozma. Azarine already
was charmed with the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion, and kept leaning
down to have a better look at the tawny beast trotting so unconcernedly
between the two deer.

"I tell you," she proposed generously. "I tell you--if Strut destroys
the Emerald City--you all can come back and live with me. That is--if
Glinda and the Wizard can make Bustabo give my castle and Kingdom back?"

"But I do hope we'll find some way to stop Strut! How long will it take
him to reach the capitol?" Dorothy called across to the Wizard.

"Well, it took us a night, and half a day to fly to Stratovania,"
calculated the little Magician, wrinkling his forehead. "So I'm afraid
if Strut and the Tin Woodman left yesterday, they'll be in the Emerald
City tomorrow. That is--today."

"And it's almost morning now," shivered Jellia, glancing off toward the
East where the sky already showed the first streaks of lavender and
rose.

"Now, don't you worry," begged the Wizard, holding fast to his high
hat, "As soon as we reach Glinda's castle and I have some proper magic
to work with, I'll find a way to make both Strut and Bustabo behave.
The few trifles in this kit-bag are a help, but not nearly powerful
enough for rascals like those. Look, girls, isn't that Glinda's castle
now?"

"Oh, it is! It is!" cried Dorothy, clasping Dear Deer around the neck
she was so relieved and happy. And the silver trimmed towers and spires
of Glinda's lovely, red castle, shimmering through the early morning
mists, were enough to make anyone happy. Flashing through the beautiful
gardens and parks, leaping hedges and flower beds as lightly as
swallows, the stag and his mate brought the little band of adventurers
to the very door of the castle.

"Goodbye, now," breathed the stag, as the Wizard and Soldier slipped
off his back and the Wizard lifted Azarine down. "Take care of my
little Princess!"

"Oh, don't go!" cried Dorothy, for Dear Deer seemed on the point of
vanishing, too. "Do stay and see how it all turns out. Later on,
wouldn't you like to go to the Emerald City and meet the famous
animals who live in the capitol?" Shagomar looked questioningly at
Dear Deer, and as his pretty little wife seemed interested, he allowed
himself to be persuaded.

"We'll wait in the garden," he whistled softly. "Houses and castles are
too stuffy and shut in for Deer people. If you need me, Princess, just
ring the silver bell." Lowering his head so the Princess could slip the
bell from his antlers, the stag stood looking at her solemnly.

"I will," promised Azarine, waving her little red handkerchief as the
two deer sprang away. They actually seemed to float off above the
flowers, so lightly and easily did they run.



CHAPTER 17

The Wizard Gets to Work


"Please announce us to your Mistress at once!" directed the Wizard to
the sleepy little castle-maid who presently came, in answer to his loud
knock.

"But Her Highness and Princess Ozma are not here!" stuttered the maid,
her eyes popping at sight of visitors so early in the morning. "They
left yesterday to visit Prince Tatters and Grampa in Ragbad!"

"Ha, well," the Wizard turned to the others with a little shrug. "Looks
as if I shall have to manage alone. A fortunate thing Ozma did not
start back to the Emerald City. At least _she_ will not fall into
Strut's hands. Here, HERE! Don't shut the door!" The Wizard quickly
pushed past the little serving maid. "Glinda will wish us to make
ourselves comfortable in her absence. Now then, Miss--Miss--?"

"Greta," mumbled the girl, looking bashfully at her feet.

"Oho--a Greta to greet, eh?" chuckled the Scarecrow, taking off his
hat and bowing to the ground. "Well, now, my dear Miss Greta, will you
kindly show these young ladies to suitable apartments, and tell the
cook to prepare breakfast for six."

"Make it twelve!" growled the Cowardly Lion, with a little bounce
toward the maid. "I could eat six all by myself!"

"Yes Sirs! Yes _Sirs_!" quavered Greta, running off so fast she lost
one of her red slippers.

"Never mind," laughed Dorothy. "Jellia and I know this castle as well
as our own. We'll show Azarine about and have time for a short nap
before breakfast." The hundred pretty girls who acted as Glinda's
Maids in Waiting were still asleep. In fact no one was stirring in
the castle except a few servants. Waving briskly to the girls as they
started up the marble stairway, the Wizard went striding toward the red
study where the Sorceress kept all her books on witchcraft, her magic
potions, her phials and appliances.

The exquisite palace of Glinda, over which Azarine was exclaiming at
every step, was an old story to the Cowardly Lion. Throwing himself
down on a huge bearskin, he soon was in a doze and making up the sleep
he had lost on the two, previous nights. Wantowin Battles had at once
gone off to waken an old Soldier Crony of his who drilled Glinda's Girl
Guard, and the Scarecrow, about to follow the Wizard into the study,
paused to look at the great record book.

This book, fastened with golden chains to a marble table in the
reception room of the castle, records each event as it happens, in the
Land of Oz. When Glinda goes on a journey, she usually locks the Record
book and takes the key with her. But this time, she had neglected to do
so, and sentences were popping up, row after row on the open pages. As
he bent over to peruse the latest entry, the Scarecrow's painted blue
eyes almost popped from his cotton head.

"Fierce Airlanders from the Upper Strat are descending on the Emerald
City of Oz," read the Straw Man, nearly losing his balance. "If
measures of defense are not taken at once, the capitol will fall under
the fierce attack of the invaders!"

"Wiz! YO, WIZ!" yelled the Scarecrow, taking a furious slide into the
study. "Hurry! HURRY! For the love of Oz, hurry--or Strut will blow
Ozma's castle into the Strat! The Record Book says so!" he panted,
grabbing the Wizard's arm to steady himself. The Wizard, working over
the delicate apparatus on a long table, looked up with an anxious frown.

"Now, now, you must be a little patient," he told the Scarecrow,
earnestly. "I'm hurrying just as fast as ever I can."

"But what do you propose to do?" demanded the Scarecrow, puckering
his forehead into almost forty deep wrinkles. "Can't you whiz these
Stratovanians away, or send them back where they came from?"

"Not without Ozma's magic belt," sighed the Wizard. "And you know
perfectly well that the belt is back in the Emerald safe in the castle!"

"Then can't you transport the safe here?" asked the Scarecrow, playing
a frantic little tune on the edge of the table.

"Just what I'm trying to do!" admitted the Wizard, turning a lever here
and a wheel there. "But this triple-edged, zentomatic transporter of
Glinda's does not seem to be working as it should. I'll probably be
able to fix it in a little while, but meantime--I tell you what you can
do. Post yourself beside that record book and the minute it announces
Strut's arrival in the Emerald City, rush straight back here to me!"

Before he had finished his sentence the Scarecrow was gone, and for the
next two hours the faithful Straw Man, without once lifting his eyes,
bent over the great book of records, reading with tense interest and
lively apprehension of the progress of the Oztober and the Airlanders
toward the Capitol of Oz.



CHAPTER 18

Strut of the Strat Arrives in Oz!


For several hours after leaving Stratovania, Nick followed the Wizard's
map implicitly. With Strut leaning over the back of his seat, eyes
glued to both map and board, there was nothing else he could do. If he
deviated from the course so much as a hair's breadth, the Airlander
would tap him on his tin head with his staff. The Tin Woodman had not
expected Strut to be so clever about navigating and as time passed, he
grew less and less hopeful of outwitting the wily Airman.

If he increased the speed of the Oztober in an effort to outdistance
Strut's flying warriors, they also increased their speed. Try as he
would it seemed quite impossible to lose them. But Nick Chopper did
not despair. He was counting on the night to help him. Never tiring or
needing sleep, he would have the advantage of Strut, then. As soon as
the Airlander relaxed in his seat, the Tin Woodman meant to fall upon
him, hurl him from a window, put all the plane's lights out and speed
off in the dark so swiftly the Stratovanians would be unable to follow.
That failing, he depended on the difference in altitude to subdue the
enemy. Perhaps when they reached the lower areas, Strut and his Airmen
would faint, wilt, and become harmless.

So, bolstering his spirits with these heartening hopes, Nick bore as
patiently as he could the long afternoon and the unpleasant taunts and
company of his captor. Repassing the ice crescent without meeting any
Spikers, the Tin Woodman zoomed along, not even bothering to answer
Strut's many questions about Oz and its inhabitants.

Night, when it did come, was especially dark and murky. No moon and
only a few stars dotted the arching Skyway. The darker the better,
rejoiced the Tin Woodman, taking quick little glances over his
shoulder to see whether Strut was falling asleep or showing any signs
of drowsiness. If it were just dark enough, he'd rid himself of
these flying pests in a hurry. But all his plans proved futile. As
the Oztober rushed on and on, and the hours dragged slowly by, Strut
grew even more alert and watchful. His star-shaped eyes twinkled and
glowed with sulphurous lights and he showed no more signs of weariness
than the Tin Woodman himself. The endurance of the Airlander and his
warriors was positively uncanny, and Nick, maneuvering the buttons
and wheel of the plane, grew increasingly discouraged and gloomy.
Flying at this rate they would arrive in the Emerald City early in the
morning, and to think that he was leading this band of savages upon the
defenseless City almost broke Nick Chopper's heart. As it was a red
plush heart, it could not really break, but it fluttered up and down in
his tin bosom like a bird beating against the bars of a cage. To Nick's
suggestion that he rest, Strut gave a contemptuous snort.

"I'll rest in Ohsma's palace," he sneered maliciously. "D'ye think
I trust you enough to sleep? Ho no! Just attend to your flying, Mr.
Funnel Top, and I'll take care of the rest of this little adventure."
After this, Nick made no further remarks, and morning found the Oztober
sailing high above the Hammerhead Mountains in the Quadling Country of
Oz. All too soon the Tin Woodman made out the glittering green turrets
and spires of the Emerald City itself.

"Quite a pretty little town," observed Strut condescendingly, as Nick,
his thoughts in a perfect tumult, tried to think of some excuse for not
landing.

"Why are you not flying over the castle?" demanded Strut sharply. "It's
the castle I am most anxious to reach. There--you can come down right
inside the walls. My, My! So this is the wonderful Land of OHS. Well,
it owes me its crown jewels and treasure to pay for your insolent
invasion of the Strat. Collecting them should prove pleasant! Very
pleasant indeed!"

"I wouldn't be too sure of that," snapped Nick, turning his head
stiffly. "I suppose you realize you are in great danger? If Ozma sees
you before you have time to storm the castle, you and your silly flock
of flyers are likely to be turned to crows or sparrows! The chances
are, she HAS seen you," concluded Nick, slanting the Oztober sharply
downward. At Nick's warning, the few clouds flitting across the
Airman's forehead became positively thunderous.

"Pouf!" he sniffed, snapping his fingers scornfully. "Do you suppose a
mere girl like this Ohsma of Ohs can frighten me? My Blowmen will soon
attend to her and anyone else who stands in our way!"

"That," shouted Nick, raising his voice above the roar of the
engine,--"remains to be seen!" As a matter of fact, the Oztober and
the swarm of flying Warriors had been sighted almost as soon as they
appeared above the green lands edging the capitol. Long before they
reached the Emerald City itself, terrified messengers had brought word
of the approaching airmen. Ozma being absent, Bettsy and Trot, the two
little mortal girls who lived with Dorothy and the Supreme Ruler in the
Emerald Palace, were in charge.

After one glance at the flying army, they had called all the
celebrities, servants and courtiers together and bade them flee for
their lives. Then Bettsy, Trot, and the Patchwork Girl, climbed into
the Red Wagon. With the Saw Horse to pull them, they set off at a
gallop to hide in the Blue Forests of the Munchkin Country till the
invasion was over. Tik Tok, the Machine Man, carrying all of Ozma's
loose jewels and valuables, marched rapidly after them. The Medicine
Man rode the Hungry Tiger and the rest of the palace inmates ran
helter-skelter down the yellow brick highway from the Capitol.

The inhabitants of the Emerald City itself, never having seen the
Wizard's Ozoplanes and having no way of knowing that Nick Chopper
was inside this one, were almost as afraid of the Oztober as of the
Stratovanians. Pelting into their houses and shops, they bolted windows
and doors and waited in terror-stricken silence for whatever was to
come. Only the Guardian of the Gate stayed bravely at his post, waving
his bunch of keys defiantly as the Ozoplane and the Airlanders swooped
over the castle wall.

"Ho! No you don't!" cried Strut, as Nick, having brought the plane
to a landing, started to run for the door. "You'll stay with me, as
a hostage!" he rasped, gripping the Tin Woodman's arm. Furious but
helpless in the iron grasp of the Stratovanian, Nick was forced to lead
him into Ozma's beautiful castle.

Strut's warriors, after fluttering like curious birds from tree to tree
and alighting in chattering groups on the wall, finally furled the
wings of their staffs, formed ranks and marched, singing and shouting,
up the steps after their jubilant leader.

In vain Nick watched for any signs of weakening among them. The Airmen
seemed as comfortable and carefree in this lower altitude as they had
been on their own airosphere. The Tin Woodman's only consolation was
that he had brought back the Wizard's Ozoplane in as good condition as
when it had started away so unexpectedly. It was also a great relief to
him to find the castle deserted. Not a courtier, servant or celebrity
was in sight--not even the Glass Cat or Dorothy's little kitten Eureka.
Strut and his rude army stamped through the first floor from end to end
without encountering a single soul.

"Very good," sniffed the Ruler of all the Stratovanians, shooting his
eyes sharply to left and right, "so this powerful fairy Ohsma of Ohs
has run off and left us her castle, and we win the war without blowing
a blow! Ho, Ho! I shall spend my summers in this enchanting palace,"
he added, with a malicious wink at the Tin Woodman. "But now," his
grasp on Nick's arm tightened. "Where are these famous, magic treasures
and jewels you were boasting of--this belt and fan and all the other
foolishments and fripperies?"

"In a safe in Ozma's own apartment," Nick told him, reluctantly. Now
that Strut was in complete possession of the castle, little was to be
gained by concealing the location of the treasures.

"Take me there at once," he commanded Nick, and--because the thousand
Airlanders were a bit too numerous for comfort--Strut ordered them out
to the garden, bidding them man the walls, guard the gates and all
entrances, and give the alarm should any of the Ozlanders approach.
Then, with lowered head and dragging feet, the Tin Woodman led the
way to Ozma's private sitting room. The safe, sparkling with emeralds
imbedded in metal more valuable than platinum, stood in an alcove
behind a pair of silk curtains. Giving little heed to the elegant
appointments of the apartment itself, Strut knelt before the safe,
fairly panting with impatience and curiosity.

"How does it open?" he asked, spinning the little knob on the door,
round and round without any results whatsoever.

"I am sure I cannot say." Resting one elbow on the golden mantel, the
Tin Woodman looked indifferently at the kneeling Airman. "Only Ozma and
our Wizard ever open that safe."

"Oh, is that so!" Strut straightened up angrily, "We shall see about
that. All I have to do is call one of my Blowmen and BLOW it open."

"Suit yourself," said Nick, with a shrug of his shoulders. "Only if you
do, the safe probably will blow away--and all the treasures with it!"

"Then how in the Dix shall I open it?" screamed Strut, giving it a
spiteful kick with his silver-shod toe. Worn out by his long vigil
of the night and the excitement of taking possession of the castle, he
lost his temper completely, and stamped and raged up and down before
Ozma's jewelled strong box. But thump and bang at the door as he
would, it still remained shut. "Ha!" he puffed at last, "I'll call my
Swordsmith! He can hammer it open!" Racing over to the window he yelled
loudly for the Swordsmith to come up.

But Strut's Swordsmith had no more success than his Master. Kindling
a fire in the grate, he heated a poker red hot and tried to burn a
hole in the door, but the poker did not leave even a scratch on the
glittering surface. "Stop! Stop! You Witless Woff. I'll do it myself,"
raged Strut. "I'll blow it open with star powder!"

"Surely you wouldn't do that," protested Nick, who up to this time had
been watching the effort of the two airmen with quiet amusement. "If
you blow up the safe you might set fire to the castle and destroy all
the treasures you have won."

"Oh, hold your tongue!" advised Strut. Dragging two smouldering logs
from the grate, he shoved them under the safe. Then, unscrewing the end
of his flying stick, he sprinkled a fine, black powder that smelled and
looked like gun powder, over the logs. Lighting a twisted paper, he
stuck it beneath the logs and jumped back, waiting impatiently for the
safe to fly apart.

Nick Chopper waited not a moment longer. Darting into the dressing room
he hastily filled a pitcher with water. But before he could return, an
ear-splitting explosion rocked the castle and flung him and the pitcher
through the doorway of the sitting room.

Without stopping to recover his breath, the Tin Woodman jumped up and
hurried across the room. The two airmen, with blackened clothes and
faces, stared dazedly at the spot where the safe had been. _Where it
had been_--because it was no longer there! Not a sign, emerald or
single splinter of it! There was no hole in the ceiling, so it could
not have blown up; there was no hole in the floor, so it could not have
blown down. The windows were unbroken, the walls, intact. Only the
two logs, smoking sullenly on Ozma's priceless rug, remained of the
Airlander's bonfire--unless we count the expression on Strut's face,
which simply blazed with wrath, bafflement and unadulterated fury.



CHAPTER 19

The Travellers Return!


"I told you not to do that," said Nick, running over to Strut and the
Swordsmith. "I warned you! Now see what you've done!"

"But where is it? Where did it go? Where did it BLOW?" screamed the
Airlander, his electric hair standing more on end than ever and
crackling like summer lightning.

"Ask Ozma! Ask the Wizard!" suggested Nick, folding his arms and
surveying the two quite calmly. "But if you take my advice, you'll
hustle right out of this castle before the same thing happens to YOU!"

"Who asked for your advice?" cried Strut, streaking over to the window
to see whether the safe had blown into the garden, though how it could
have done so without knocking a hole in the wall or ceiling, he could
neither imagine nor understand. Drawing aside the curtain he gave a
great gasp. Nick, who had hurried after him, uttered a loud shout of
joy.

"See! I told you!" cried Nick, and unhooking his oil can the Tin
Woodman let four drops of oil slide down his neck. "I told you!" Strut
made no reply. He just hung on to the curtain as if he were drowning
and the flimsy portiere, a life preserver. "See!" shouted Nick again.

But it was what Strut _didn't_ see that upset the Airman! What he
_didn't_ see was his entire army of nine hundred and ninety-nine
splendid fighters! The garden below was as empty and quiet as a park
on a rainy Sunday. "Calm yourself, Man! Calm yourself!" advised Nick
as Strut, turning from the window and noting the disappearance of his
Swordsmith, began running in frenzied circles, overturning chairs and
tables and tripping over rugs and foot-stools.

"Quick," he hissed, making a dive for the Tin Woodman. "Fly me back to
the Strat. At once! At ONCE! Do you hear?"

"Oh, yes! I hear you--quite well!" said Nick, eluding Strut easily.
"But I'll never fly you anywhere again! Besides, don't you realize you
cannot fly from magic! You'll have to stay, my good man, and face the
music!"

Nick's words seemed to bring the Airlander to his senses. Remembering,
even in defeat, that he was a powerful King and Ruler, he straightened
up proudly and, with one hand resting on an emerald-topped table, stood
looking tensely from Nick Chopper to the door. He did not have long
to wait, for in less time than it takes to count ten, nine excited
Ozians burst into the Royal Sitting room.

"Oh, Nick! Are you really safe? Is everything all right?" Jellia Jam
rushed over to the Tin Woodman and took both of his hands in her own.

"So _that's_ the fellow I was supposed to impersonate!" roared the
Cowardly Lion, thrusting his head between Dorothy and the Soldier,
"Well, Goosengravy, girls--I'm insulted!"

"And _is_ this really Strut--the high and mighty Stratovanian who has
come to conquer us?" Ozma, who was just behind the Soldier, gazed so
steadily and sorrowfully at the Airman that he uncomfortably averted
his gaze. He was, to tell the truth, astonished at the youth, beauty
and regal manner of the young Fairy. He cast a questioning look at
the others, crowding through the doorway. He already knew the Soldier
with Green Whiskers, but the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, the small,
High-Hatted gentleman talking earnestly to a cheerful little girl, the
little, red-cloaked Princess and the tall, imposing, red-haired Glinda
were all new and bewildering strangers. For the first time since they
had met, Nick felt sorry for his discomfited foe, and as each of the
celebrities approached, he called out the names.

"Our famous live Scarecrow, His Majesty the Cowardly Lion, Glinda the
Good Sorceress, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Princess Dorothy of Kansas
and the Emerald City and--"

"Azarine, the Red," finished Dorothy, helping him out. For Nick,
completely at sea, looked inquiringly at the pretty little Princess in
the red cloak. At each introduction Strut bowed stiffly. If he could
have reached his flying stick which he had left standing beside the
mantel, he would have flown out the window--regardless of the fact that
he might never find his way back to the Strat. But as he could not
reach the staff, he stood stonily waiting for whatever was to befall.

"How'd you find Jellia and the Soldier? What became of the Ozpril?
Where's the Emerald safe?" questioned Nick, leaving Strut's side and
hurrying to seize the little Wizard by both lapels, for he could
restrain his curiosity no longer.

"Quite a story--quite a story," puffed the Wizard, closing one eye,
"Ask me again some long winter evening." Jerking away from Nick, he ran
off to fetch his black bag of magic, from which he had been separated
far too long.

"I suppose you are quite anxious to return to your own country,"
said Ozma, addressing herself to the Ruler of the Strat as she seated
herself on a small, satin sofa.

"Not without my army," blustered Strut, defiantly. "It is neither fair
nor honest for one ruler to destroy by magic the fighting forces of
another!"

"Your army is not destroyed," Ozma told him evenly. "It already is
in Stratovania, transported there by this magic belt." Lightly, the
dark-haired fairy touched the gem-studded girdle she was wearing.
"And--speaking of honesty and fairness," she went on seriously, "did
you think it honest or fair to come here, take possession of my castle,
and try to steal all my treasure and jewels?" Strut had the grace to
blush, and as there was no good answer to Ozma's question, he looked
haughtily over the heads of the company regarding him so accusingly.

"Well, have you anything to say?" inquired Ozma sternly. "Whether
or not you return to your Kingdom depends entirely upon yourself
and how you treat Kabebe." At mention of his Queen, Strut started,
involuntarily.

"By the way--here's that silly crown you made me wear!" said Jellia,
handing over the star-tipped circlet she had been wearing since her
visit to the Strat. "Remember me to the Piper when you see him and to
Junnenrump and Hippenscop."

"Are you sure you'd rather not live in the Strat as a Starina, than
stay here with us?" asked Ozma, smiling mischievously, as Jellia backed
away from the frowning airman.

"Never! Never! NEVER!" cried Jellia, taking a long step backward at
each word. "I've had enough of Kings to last me the rest of my life!"

A little ripple of laughter followed Jellia's blunt refusal, and taking
pity on the mortified Airlander, Ozma touched her belt and whispered
the magic word that would transport him to his own country.

"But can you trust him?" worried Nick Chopper, as the Stratovanian
vanished before their eyes. "How do you know he won't blow things up as
soon as he returns?"

"Because I've removed all power from his Blowmen's horns," Ozma told
him quietly. "He'll be all right, and for the kind of people he
rules--Strut probably is the best sort of ruler they could have."

"If you ask me," observed the Cowardly Lion, shaking his mane
vigorously, "the worst punishment anyone could have would be to live on
wind pudding and air-ade. Wooof!"

"Oh, what a shame!" Dorothy ran over to the mantel where the flying
stick had been standing. "The winged staff's gone! I rather had hoped
we could keep it for Hallow'een or New Year's or something!"

"Haven't you had enough flying?" grinned the Scarecrow, settling on the
green sofa beside Ozma. "By the way, where's the tell-all-escope?"

"Oh, I'm so sorry," Dorothy felt ruefully in the pocket of her coat. "I
must have left it in Strut's Royal Pavilion!"

"Never mind! I'll bring it back with the magic belt," smiled Ozma, "and
I presume it's all right to bring the safe back, too?" As Glinda nodded
in agreement, the Ruler of Oz touched her belt twice, and with two
thumps--one louder than the other--the safe and tell-all-escope thumped
down on the floor beside the sofa. The tell-all-escope was pointing
directly at Ozma, and it immediately began broadcasting her whole
history. So the little Fairy, with a chuckle of amusement locked it up
in her desk drawer.

While Ozma had been meting out her gentle justice, Jellia had been
telling Nick all that had happened since he was forced to fly Strut to
Oz. She told him of the arrival of the Ozpril, the escape of the whole
party from the angry Kabebe, their fall to Red Top Mountain, their rude
treatment by Bustabo, their meeting with Azarine and the red Deer, and
their final journey to Glinda's castle.

Spellbound, Nick learned how the Wizard finally had mastered the
intricacies of Glinda's zentomatic transporter and brought the safe
to her red castle just as Strut was on the point of taking violent
measures. With the safe in his possession, it had been an easy matter
for the Wizard to open it, take out the magic belt and transport both
Glinda and Ozma from Ragbad. After listening to the whole, exciting
story Glinda, Ozma and the Wizard had sent the Stratovanian army back
to the Strat and returned to the Emerald City to deal with Strut,
personally.

"It's certainly handy to have a Fairy around," sighed Dorothy, slipping
an arm around Ozma's slim waist. "One little wave of Ozma's wand and
we soared right into this castle! Isn't it grand to be home again? Not
that I didn't enjoy the trip," she added hastily, as the Wizard came
briskly into the room with his black bag. "Oh, Ozma! Just wait till you
see the beautiful Ozoplanes our Wizard has built for you!"

"She'll need pretty strong glasses to see the Ozpril," observed the
Wizard, looking rather sadly at the ceiling. "I expect it's hanging to
the tip of a star by this time! And I suppose Strut made hash of the
Oztober!"

"Hash!" sputtered Nick Chopper, indignantly, "I should say NOT. I've
taken splendid care of your ship, Wiz, and you'll find the Oztober
below in the garden, as bright and beautiful as the night she was
launched!"

"Hurray for Nick," shouted Jellia, waving the duster she already was
flipping briskly over pictures and books. "He should have a medal,
your Majesty! No one could have flown that Plane better than the Tin
Woodman!"

"He _shall_ have a medal!" promised Ozma, with a special smile for Nick
Chopper who was one of her special favorites. "And when he needs a
vacation from the Winkies, he can come here and be our official Pilot
answerable only to me and to the Wizard!"

"And I hereby present your Majesty with my two, splendid Ozoplanes--for
exploring, for pleasure, or for warfare!" announced the little Wizard,
extending both arms, dramatically. "But now you will have to excuse me,
as the Tin Woodman and I are leaving at once!"

"Leaving!" wailed Jellia, plumping down on a foot stool. "But you've
only just returned!"

"Can't help it," panted the Wizard, who seemed in a perfect phiz to
be off, "I'll show you the Ozoplanes later, Ozma, but now--Goodbye!
Goodbye, Dorothy! Goodbye Jellia! Take good care of Azarine till I
return!"

"But look--where are we going?" demanded Nick Chopper, as the Wizard
seized his arm and marched him rapidly toward the door.

"To find the Ozpril, of course!" explained the Wizard impatiently, as
if that should have been clear to everybody! "To find the Ozpril and
bring her back to the Emerald City!"

"But think how high those Blowmen may have blown it?" worried Dorothy.
"They may even have blown it to Bitz!"

"Then we'll bring back the pieces," declared the Wizard, firmly. "How
about coming along?" With a wink at Jellia Jam, he paused beside the
Lion who was busy licking his front paws.

"WHAT?" roared the Lion, springing up as if someone had shot him. With
a thoroughly indignant glance at Ozma's little magician, he bolted
through the curtains and was gone.

"Just _not_ a flyer!" mused the Wizard, shaking his head in amusement.
"Well, Goodbye, Friends! Farewell--all!" With an energetic nod he
stepped through the door, pulling Nick along with him.

"Couldn't you bring the Ozpril back with your magic belt?" questioned
Dorothy, hurrying over to the window to watch the plane's take off.

"I suppose so," answered Ozma, thoughtfully. "But they both are so fond
of flying, they'd much rather _bring_ it back, themselves! I'm sure of
it!"



CHAPTER 20

Azarine Is Restored to Red Top


From the castle window, the whole party cheered wildly as the Ozoplane,
roaring with power, soared over the wall, over the tree tops and up,
up, and up, till it vanished into the cloudless, blue sky.

"My pie! I do hope Nick doesn't start claiming any more countries,"
sighed Jellia, drawing in her head reluctantly. "And for cake's sake
why couldn't they have waited a few days? Of course the Tin Woodman
is never tired, but Wiz certainly needed a rest after all we've been
through!"

"Never you mind about that!" Glinda patted the kind-hearted little
Jellia on the shoulder. "The Wizard has his black bag along this time,
and in that bag there is a cure for almost everything--even lack of
sleep!"

"Look!" called Dorothy, pulling Jellia back to the window. "Shaggy
and Dear Deer are running races round the pond and here come all our
servants and celebrities! Hiah, Tik Tok! Hello, Scraps! See, Azarine!
That's the Patch Work Girl! You'll simply love her! We all do! Someone
must have sent word that Strut had been defeated!"

"I did--I dispatched one of my doves," explained Glinda. "And now, my
dear," the tall and lovely Sorceress motioned significantly to Ozma,
"is it not time to deal with Bustabo, and restore this Little Lady to
her Castle?"

"Oh, not yet! Please, not yet!" begged Dorothy, as Azarine looked
expectantly from Glinda to Ozma. "We want Azarine to stay here a long
time, don't we, Jellia? Come on Azzy, dear, I'll lend you an old dress
and we'll all go for a ride before lunch! You, on Shaggy--Jellia and I
on Dear Deer--Bettsy and Trot on the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow
on the Hungry Tiger!"

"It's all right, go ahead," Ozma nodded indulgently as the little
Princess hung back. She did want so much to stay and meet all the
interesting people in the garden, but she felt it her real duty to
return to her subjects, now suffering under the cruel rule and temper
of Bustabo.

Then:

"I've already turned Bustabo into a red Squirrel!" Ozma told the
Princess, gravely. "In that form he still can enjoy himself, but do no
harm to others. I've also sent a message saying you will be home in a
few days, and placed Archibald the Archer in charge till you return!"

"Oh, how did you know Archy is the one I trust most?" marveled
Azarine, her eyes shining with happiness and astonishment. "Bustabo
threw Archy into a dungeon a week ago, because he tried to help me!"

"Ozma knows everything," confided Dorothy, with an adoring glance
toward the little Ruler of all Oz. "And everything's going to be
lovely! Come on, Azzy! I'll beat you to the fountain in the garden!"

So now, with her last worry removed, the little Princess of Red Top
skipped off with Dorothy to meet all the exciting celebrities in the
garden. The two deer, alarmed by the strange appearance of some of the
Ozlanders, had hidden themselves in a snow-ball bush. But Azarine soon
coaxed them out and in no time at all, they were chatting like old
friends with the Hungry Tiger and the Saw Horse.

Jellia stayed in the garden only a short while, for Jellia had other
things to do. The little Oz Maid was determined to have a party to
celebrate their home coming and soon, in deep conference with the
castle chef, she was planning the most gorgeous feast the Green Castle
ever had known.

It began at noon and lasted till nightfall. Even long after the tall
candles had burned low, the cheery company sat around the royal table
while Dorothy, Jellia and the Scarecrow told and retold their amazing
adventures in the Strat and on Red Top Mountain.

So delightful did Azarine and the two Deer find life in the capitol,
they stayed on and on. Each evening, the girls and Ozma, and her most
important counselors, would gather in her private sitting room. There,
looking at the magic screen, they followed the progress of Nick and the
Wizard as they flew on and on through the strange Highways and Byways
of the Stratosphere.

What a story they will have to tell us when they return.... WHAT a
story!

The End





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