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´╗┐Title: Handy Mandy in 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 "Handy Mandy in Oz" ***

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                           HANDY MANDY IN 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

                         The Reilly & Lee Co.

                                CHICAGO


                            COPYRIGHT 1937
                                  By
                         THE REILLY & LEE CO.

                          ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

                        PRINTED IN THE U. S. A.

      [Transcriber's Note: Extensive research did not uncover any
      evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

       *       *       *       *       *

_Hello there!_


Another spring, another book and another old Wizard in Oz!
Imagine! And with Ruggedo mixed up in the story there's bound to be
fun and excitement.

Now I do hope you like Handy Mandy and Nox. I'm very fond of
the Royal Ox, myself. He rather reminds me of Kabumpo, while Kerry
is as nice a young King as I've met in an Oz age. But tell me what
YOU think. No one, not even Ozma, receives as fine letters as you all
write me, and I can hardly wait to hear all this year's news and those
interesting Ozzy suggestions. My news comes from the palace of the
Red Jinn, today. It seems that he and Kabumpo are really going to pay
that long-promised visit to Randy in Regalia. My--y, I'll have to look
into this. Meanwhile, best and merriest wishes and a high old happy-go-lucky
year to you!

                         RUTH PLUMLY THOMPSON.

    254 S. Farragut Terrace,
    West Philadelphia, Pa.

       *       *       *       *       *

                This book is lovingly dedicated to all
                  the boys and girls who have written
                  me letters! Yes, here's to YOU and
                            cheers to you!

                         RUTH PLUMLY THOMPSON

                              April, 1937

       *       *       *       *       *

                           Handy Mandy in Oz


On many a day had Handy, the Goat Girl of Mern, pursued her goats
up and down the rocky eminences of her native mountain. And
never--NEVER--in her fourteen or so years' experience had she
been blown up by a mountain spring. But there comes, in every one's
experience a day which is unlike every other day, and so it was with
the Goat Girl. As she was pursuing What-a-butter, her favorite goat,
there was a sudden crash, a whish, and up flew the slab of rock on
which she was standing, up and away.

The adventures into which she was carried by this simple though awefull
beginning take a whole book to relate. How she met Nox the Royal Ox of
Keretaria, how together they went in search of little King Kerry, how
at last they rescued him and found themselves feted guests of Ozma of
Oz, all these things you must read for yourselves.

Read what the University of Washington Chapbooks have to say about
the famous Oz series. They _have taught American children to look for
the elements of wonder in the life around them, to realize that even
smoke and machinery may be transformed into fairy lore if only we have
sufficient energy and vision to penetrate to their significance and
transform them to our use.... Some day we may have better fairytales
but that will not be until America is a better country._

(_Edward Wagenknecht._)



                  CONTENTS


        1 Mandy Leaves the Mountain

        2 The End of the Ride

        3 The King of Keretaria

        4 The Message in the Horn

        5 Out of Keretaria!

        6 Turn Town!

        7 A Horn of Plenty

        8 Handy Mandy Learns about Oz!

        9 The Magic Hammer

       10 The King of the Silver Mountain

       11 Down to the Prisoners' Pit!

       12 Prisoners of the Wizard

       13 In the Emerald City of Oz

       14 The Robbery Is Discovered

       15 The Pilgrim Returns to the Mountain

       16 The Wizard's Bargain!

       17 Out of the Prison Pit

       18 Wutz and the Gnome King Leave for the Capital!

       19 At the Bottom of the Mountain!

       20 Just in Time!

       21 The Hammer Elf Explains



CHAPTER 1

Mandy Leaves the Mountain


"What-a-BUTTER! What-a-BUTTER!" High and clear above the peaks of Mt.
Mern floated the voice of the Goat Girl calling the finest, fattest
but most troublesome of her flock. All the other goats were winding
obediently down toward the village that perched precariously on the
edge of the mountain. But of What-a-butter there was not a single sign
nor whisker.

"Serves me right for spoiling the contrary creature," panted Mandy,
pushing back her thick yellow braids with her second best hand. "Always
wants her own way, that goat--so she does. What-a-butter, I say
WHAT-A-BUTTER--come down here this instant." But only the tantalizing
tinkle of the goat's silver bell came to answer her, for What-a-butter
was climbing up, not down, and there was nothing for Mandy to do but go
after her.

Muttering dire threats which she was much too soft hearted ever to
carry out, the rosy cheeked mountain lass scrambled over crags and
stones, pulling herself up steep precipices, the goat always managing
to keep a few jumps ahead, till soon they were almost at the top of the
mountain!

Here, stopping on a jutting rock to catch her breath and remove the
burrs from her stockings, Mandy heard a dreadful roar and felt an
ominous rumbling beneath her feet. What-a-butter on a narrow ledge just
above heard it too, and cocked her head anxiously on one side. Perhaps
she had best jump down to Mandy. After all, the great silly girl did
feed and pet her, and from the sound of things a storm was brewing.
If there was one thing the goat feared more than another, it was a
thunder-storm, so, rolling her eyes as innocently as if she had not
dragged Mandy all over the mountain she stretched her nose down toward
her weary mistress.

"Bah--ah-ah-ahhhhhhhhhh!" bleated What-a-butter affectionately.

"Oh 'Bah' yourself!" fumed Mandy, making an angry snatch for the Nanny
Goat's beard. "Pets and children are all alike--never appreciate a body
till they have a stomach ache, or a thunder-storm is coming. Now then,
m'lass, be quick with you!"

Holding out her strong arms, Mandy made ready to catch the goat as it
jumped off the ledge. But before What-a-butter could stir, there was
a perfectly awful crash and explosion and up shot the slab of rock on
which Mandy was standing, up--UP and out of sight entirely. Where the
mountain girl had been, a crystal column of water spurted viciously
into the air, so high the bulging eyes of the goat could see no end to
it. Rearing up on her hind legs, What-a-butter turned round and round
in a frantic effort to catch a glimpse of her vanishing Mistress.
Then thinking suddenly what would happen should the torrent turn and
fall upon her, the goat sprang off the ledge and ran madly down the
mountain, bleating like a whole herd of Banshees.

And Mandy, as you can well believe, was as frightened as What-a-butter
and with twice as much reason. The first upheaval, as the rock left the
earth, flung her flat on her nose. Grasping the edges of the slab with
all hands, Mandy hung on for dear life and as a stinging shower of icy
water sprayed her from head to foot, wondered what under the earth was
happening to her. Thorns and thistles! Could the thunder-storm really
have come UP instead of down? Certainly it was raining up, and what
ever was carrying her aloft with such terrible force and relentlessness?

How could the Goat Girl know that a turbulent spring pent up for
thousands of years in the center of Mt. Mern had suddenly burst its
way to freedom! And you have no idea of the tremendous power in a
mountain spring once it uncoils and lets itself go. Mandy's rock might
just as well have been shot into the air by a magic cannon. First it
tore upward as if it meant to knock a hole in the sky, then, still
travelling at incalculable speed, began to arch and take a horizontal
course over the mountains, hills and valleys west of Mern. All poor
Mandy knew was that she was hurtling through space at break-neck speed
with nothing to save or stop her. The long yellow braids of the Goat
Girl streamed out like pennants, while her striped skirt and voluminous
petticoats snapped and fluttered like banners in the wind.

"What-a-butter! Oh What-a-butter!" moaned Mandy, gazing wildly
over the edge of the rock. But pshaw, what was the use of calling?
What-a-butter, even if she heard, could not fly after her through
the air, and when she herself came down not even her own goat would
recognize her. At this depressing thought, Mandy dropped her head on
her arms and began to weep bitterly, for she was quite sure she would
never see her friends--her home--or her goats again.

But the rough and frugal life on Mt. Mern had made the Goat Girl both
brave and resourceful, so she soon dried her tears and as the rock
still showed no signs of slowing up nor dashing down, she began to take
heart and even a desperate sort of interest in her experience. Slowly
and cautiously she pulled herself to a sitting position and still
clutching the edges of the rock, dared to look down at the countries
and towns flashing away below.

"After all," sniffed the reckless maiden, "nothing very dreadful has
happened yet. I've always wanted to travel and now I AM travelling. Not
many people have flown through the air on a rock--why it's really a
rocket!" decided Mandy, with a nervous giggle. "And that, I suppose,
makes me the first rocket rider in the country, and the LAST, too," she
finished soberly as she measured with her eye the distance she would
plunge when her rock started earthward. "Now if we'd just come down in
that blue lake, below, I might have a chance. Perhaps I should jump?"

But by the time Mandy made up her mind to jump the lake was far behind
and nothing but a great desert of smoking sand stretched beneath her.



CHAPTER 2

The End of the Ride


The sky, from the rosy pink of late afternoon, had faded to a
depressing grey, and Mandy could not help thinking longingly of the
appetizing little supper she had set out for herself before going up
to call the goats. Who would eat it now or even know she was flying
through the air like a comet? No one, she concluded drearily, for Mandy
was an orphan and lived all by herself in a small cottage on Mt. Mern,
high above the village of Fistikins. In a day or two, some of her
friends in the village might search the cottage and find her gone, but
NOW, now there was nothing to do but sit tight and hope for the best.

Mandy's next glance down was more encouraging. Instead of the dangerous
looking desert, she was sailing over misty blue hills and valleys
dotted with many small towns and villages. High as she was, she could
even hear the church bells tolling the hour, and this made Mandy feel
more lost and lonely than ever. All these people below were safely at
home and about to eat their suppers while she was flying high and far
from everything she knew and loved best.

Hungrily the Goat Girl cast her eyes over the rock she was riding,
thinking to find a small sprig of mountain berries or even a blade of
grass to nibble. At first glance, the rock seemed bare and barren, then
sticking up out of a narrow crevice Mandy spied a tiny blue flower.
"Poor little posy, it's as far from home as I am," murmured the Goat
Girl, and carefully breaking the stem, she lifted the blue flower to
her nose. Its faint fragrance was vaguely comforting and Mandy had just
begun to count the petals, when the rock gave a sickening lurch and
started to pitch down so fast Mandy's braids snapped like jumping ropes
and her skirts bellied out like a parachute in a gale.

"NOW for it," gasped the Goat Girl closing her eyes and clenching her
teeth. "OH! My poor little shins!" Mandy's shins were both stout and
sturdy, but even so we cannot blame Mandy for pitying them. Stouter
shins than hers would have splintered at such a fall. Hardly knowing
what she was doing, Mandy began to pull the petals from the blue
flower, calling in an agonized voice as she pulled each one the names
of her goats and friends. She had just come to Speckle, the smallest
member of her flock, when the end came.

Kimmeny Jimmeny! Was this ALL? Opening one eye, the Goat Girl looked
fearfully about her. She was sitting on top of a haystack, no, not
a haystack, but a heap of soft blue flower petals as soft as down.
Opening the other eye she saw the rock, on which she had travelled so
far, bump over a golden fence and fall with a satisfied splash into a
shimmering lake. But what lay beyond the lake made Mandy forget all her
troubles and fairly moan with surprise and pleasure.

"A CASTLE!" exulted the Goat Girl, putting one hand above her heart.
"Oh! I've always wanted to see a castle and now I AM." And this castle,
let me tell you, was well worth anyone's seeing, a castle of lacy blue
marble carved, and decorated with precious stones, in a way to astonish
the eyes of a simple mountain lass. From the tallest tower, a silken
pennant floated lazily in the evening breeze.

"K-E-R-E-T-A-R-I-A," Mandy spelled out slowly. Sliding off the heap of
flower petals she stood for a long delicious moment lost in admiration.
Then, giving herself a businesslike shake to be sure she was not broken
or bent by her amazing flight and tumble, Mandy turned to examine the
rest of her surroundings.

When she looked at the spot on which she had fallen the stack of blue
petals had disappeared, but there, twinkling up cheerfully, was the
blue flower as much at home as if it had grown there in the first
place. Thoroughly puzzled, Mandy picked the little flower a second time
and slipped it into the pocket of her apron.

Even without the mystery of the blue flower it was astonishing enough
to find herself in the stately park of this gorgeous blue castle. There
was a tree lined avenue and velvety lawns splashed with star shaped
flower beds stretched in every direction. Only the small patch of land
on which she was standing was bare and uncultivated. And evidently
someone was at work here, for a great white ox, with golden horns,
yoked to a gold plow stood with his back to Mandy, dozing cozily in the
pleasant dusk.

At sight of the ox, Mandy gave a little sigh of relief and content.
Long ago an old mountain woman had given her this sensible piece of
advice. "When you do not know what to do next, do the first useful
piece of work that comes to hand." Now here, right at hand, was a
useful piece of work, and while she was trying to figure out the whole
puzzle of the flying rock and strange blue flower, she might just as
well be ploughing. Then when the owner of the castle saw her working so
industriously, he might invite her to supper. So, grasping the tail of
the ancient plow, Mandy clicked her tongue in a cheerful signal for the
ox to start.

The white ox, who had not seen nor heard the Goat Girl till this minute
turned his head in a lordly fashion and gave her a long haughty look.
Not really believing what he saw, he took another look, and then, with
a bellow of fright and outrage went charging across the park pulling
the startled Goat Girl behind him. Mandy might have let go, but she
just did not think of it, and with pounding heart and flying braids
held fast to the pitching plough as it tore through flower beds, ripped
up lawns and cut fearful furrows in the pebbled paths. Clouds of earth,
stones and whole plants uprooted ruthlessly from their beds showered
round her ears, and as they reached the palace, a hard metal object
hit her squarely between the eyes. Putting up a hand, Mandy caught the
flying missile and mechanically slipped it into her pocket, and the
next instant the ox lunging through an open French window dragged her
into the magnificently furnished throne room of the castle. Not only
into the throne room, mind you, but into the lap of royalty itself!



CHAPTER 3

The King of Keretaria


The white ox in his mad dash across the throne room had run violently
into a marble pillar, hurling Mandy straight into the arms of a very
tall, very stern, and very blue looking monarch. Pages and courtiers
tripped and fell left and right in a scramble to get out of the way,
while the ox, snorting and trembling, looked balefully over his
shoulder at the Goat Girl.

"Whu-what is--the--meaning of--this out-rageous in-trusion?" panted
the King. "Unhand me, woman! Remove your finger from my eye and
your arms--your ARMS! Hi! Hi! Hi!" The King's sentence ended in
three frightened squeaks. "Is it a girl or an octopus?" he puffed,
heaving up his chest in an endeavor to dislodge Mandy. "Hi! Hi! Hi!
Are you going to allow this clumping savage to insult my Majesty in
this--er--high-handed manner?"

As the Goat Girl, by this time scarlet from anger and mortification,
jumped off the King's lap, three very high officials of the Court of
Keretaria darted forward.

"The High Qui-questioner! The Imperial Persuader! And the Lord High
Upper Dupper of the Realm!" bawled a page. Having delivered himself
of this impressive announcement the page bolted back of a curtain and
from there peered with astonished eyes at the visitor. Everyone in the
grand blue throne room looked frightened and ready to run at a moment's
notice. Wondering what could be the matter with them all, Mandy with
many misgivings watched the counselors of Keretaria advance in a
threatening row.

"Now then--not a move!" thundered the High Qui-questioner, tapping
her sharply on the shoulder with a golden staff shaped like a huge
interrogation point. "It is my duty to question all strangers who ride,
fall, fly or break into our Kingdom, and you," the Haughty Nobleman
gave Mandy a cold blue stare, "YOU are stranger than any stranger who
has ever come to Keretaria."

"It is my duty to persuade you to do as his Majesty commands," stated
the Imperial Persuader, raising his gold spiked club.

"And it is MY duty to put you in your place," sniffed the Lord High
Upper Dupper rattling a bunch of keys that hung from his belt.

"Well if you ask me," puffed the Ox, rolling his eyes wildly round at
the Goat Girl, "her place is in a museum and the sooner you lock her
upper dupper, the better." Now Mandy was so astonished to hear the Ox
actually speaking, she gave a loud cry and flung up her hands, every
single seven of them.

"Help! Help!" yelped the Courtiers, scurrying like mice into corners
and corridors. Only the white Ox, the King and his Counselors kept
their places.

"How DARE you come into a King's presence armed in this barbarous
fashion?" gasped the High Qui-questioner, taking a step toward the Goat
Girl, but too frightened to touch her.

"PIGS!" cried Mandy, suddenly losing her temper. "Can I help my seven
arms? All of us on Mt. Mern have seven arms and hands and you with
your skinny two seem far funnier than I. I am Mandy, the Goat Girl, as
anyone in his senses can see."

"The girl is right," observed the Ox, gazing more attentively at Mandy
and now speaking quite calmly, "she can no more help those seven arms
than you can help those seven warts on your nose, Questo. I tell you
this maiden is a real curiosity and if you three Hi-boys will cease
rattling your teeth and your clubs, perhaps she will explain why she
has come to Keretaria. I myself shall call her Handy Mandy."

"Why, the beast has more sense than its masters," thought the Goat Girl
in surprise.

"Well," rumbled the King ungraciously, "if you have anything to say
before we lock you up, SAY IT, but do not wave your arms about, PLEASE."

Swallowing nervously, clasping four of her hands behind her back and
stuffing the other three into convenient pockets in her apron, Mandy
began to speak. "I was driving my goats home from the mountain, Your
Majesty, when the rock on which I was standing exploded suddenly into
the air, flew like a bird over hill, valley, and desert and dropped me
into your garden--"

"And not a bruise nor a bump to show for it," grunted the Imperial
Persuader elevating his nose to show he was not taken in by such a
tale. In spite of his suspicious glance, Mandy decided to say nothing
of the blue flower that had so miraculously softened her fall.

"And since when have rocks flown through the air?" inquired the Lord
High Upper Dupper sarcastically.

"Ahem--in the garden," continued Mandy undaunted by the two
interruptions, "I saw this great white ox and thinking to do a bit of
honest work for my supper, grasped the plough, but--"

"That was a little oxident," murmured the great beast in a jovial
voice, "for, catching sight of a seven-armed maiden all at once and
without warning, I took to my heels and landed her in her present
unpleasant predicament. Is that not so, m'lass?"

Looking at the Ox with round eyes, Mandy nodded.

"But she still has not explained all these arms," complained the
Imperial Persuader. "Whoever heard of a seven-handed maiden?"

"I have!" asserted Mandy stoutly. "And what, pray, is there to explain?
This iron hand--" the Goat Girl raised it slowly and thoughtfully as
she spoke, "I use for ironing, lifting hot pots from the stove and all
horrid sort of hard work; this leather hand I keep for beating rugs,
dusting, sweeping, and so on; this wooden hand I use for churning and
digging in the garden; these two red rubber hands for dishwashing and
scrubbing, and my two fine white hands I keep for holding and braiding
my hair." With all seven hands extended before her, Mandy smiled
engagingly up at the King.

"Undoubtedly a witch," whispered the Imperial Persuader darkly, as
the King in spite of himself gazed curiously down at his seven-armed
visitor.

"A dangerous character, Your Majesty," hissed the High Qui-questioner,
shaking his head disapprovingly.

"To the dungeons with her!" rasped the Lord High Upper Dupper, rattling
his keys like castanets.

"WHAT?" bawled the white Ox, stamping all of his gold shod feet in
rapid succession. "You mean to consign this marvel of skill and
efficiency to a dungeon? What a set of dunces you are! Come, Handy, I
myself, will take you for a slave. Out of my way, DOLTS!" Swaggering a
bit, and with the golden plough still clanking and bumping behind him,
the Ox ambled at a dignified pace toward the door. Mandy, though she
did not relish the idea of becoming his slave, was greatly relieved at
the interest the Ox was taking in her case, but before following him,
she looked inquiringly up at the King.

"Yes, GO!" commanded His Majesty harshly, "I hereby give you into the
care and service of Nox, the Royal Ox of Keretaria. Harm one hair of
his head, and you will pay for it with your life and perish, I promise
you, most ignominiously."

"Mercy--ercy," muttered Mandy tiptoeing nervously after her new master,
"doesn't the fellow know any short words? How queer everything is on
this side of the mountain, people with only two arms, animals talking
and giving orders to Kings. Suppose the goats at home started bossing
the villagers?" And what would the villagers think of her strange
flight and reception in Keretaria? Well, from what she herself had seen
of Royalty, decided the Goat Girl, she much preferred her goats or even
the company of this haughty white Ox. Stepping briskly beside him,
Mandy resolved to humor the creature till she saw a bit more of the
country or found some safe way back to her mountain.

Nox swinging along at his own indolent gait paid no further attention
to the Goat Girl, but when they reached his royal quarters, which
to Mandy looked more like a castle than a stable, he began bawling
so fiercely for the stable boys she decided uncomfortably that being
his slave might prove both unpleasant and dangerous. However, when
six little boys dressed in blue overalls and aprons ran out, the
Royal Ox addressed them quite kindly. The first, without waiting for
instructions unhitched the plough and lifted the yoke from the royal
shoulders.

"Prepare Kerry's quarters for my new slave," directed Nox, turning to
the second and third. "You others, bring dinner for two, and mind you
fetch Handy Mandy everything they have at the King's table." With a
playful lunge Nox started them smartly on their way, then moved grandly
into the huge stone stable and along to his own luxurious gold-paved
stall.

"My--y!" exclaimed the Goat Girl, sinking breathlessly to a three
legged stool, "how grand and elegant you are here! My--y, I wish
What-a-butter could see this!"

"One of your goats?" murmured Nox, burying his nose in the huge marble
bowl he used for a drinking trough.

Mandy nodded. "I wish she were here now!" she added with a rapturous
little sigh.

"Well, I don't." Deliberately the Royal Ox licked the water from his
lips. "Do you suppose I'd allow a miserable goat in my sapphire trimmed
stall?"

"Miserable!" squealed Mandy, springing off the stool. "What-a-butter's
the smartest goat on the mountain; she wouldn't give two bleats and a
BAH for an old Hoopadoop like YOU!"

"Hoopadoop!" repeated the Ox in a dazed whisper. "Do you mean to stand
there and call the Royal Ox of Keretaria a Hoopadoop?"

"Yes," said Mandy firmly but backing off a bit as she spoke. "What
makes you think you're so much better than a goat even if you do talk,
put on airs and have golden horns?"

"Well," and to Mandy's surprise and relief, Nox cleared his throat and
grinned quite amiably, "after all I AM the Royal Ox, you know, more
precious to the King than all his court and subjects. Everyone jumps at
my least command, so why shouldn't I put on a few airs? Besides do you
think it's polite to call me an old Hoopadoop when I've just saved you
from a dungeon?"

"No," admitted Mandy, resuming her seat thoughtfully, "I don't suppose
it is. Maybe you _are_ as good as a goat," she added with a little
burst of generosity.

"Oh, thank you! Thank you very much!" Through half closed eyes the
Royal Ox looked quizzically at the Goat Girl. "I believe we shall get
on famously, m'lass, famously. The truth is, you amuse me no end and so
long as you amuse me everything will be smooth as silk. But of course,
if you bore me, I will bore you. Oh, positively!" Lowering his head Nox
shook his horns playfully.

"Now I shouldn't try that, if I were you," advised Mandy, raising her
iron hand and cracking the fingers warningly. "For if you do, I might
throw things!"

"Ha ha! I believe you would." The enormous beast, charmed by so much
spirit and independence fairly beamed upon his new slave. "I take it
you are pretty good at throwing things."

"Yes, and at catching them, too." Reaching up, Mandy took seven of the
dozen brushes off the shelf above her head. Tossing them all into the
air with three of her hands, she caught them easily with the other
four. Then dragging her stool closer, she began brushing the coat of
her royal charge so hard and vigorously he blinked with pleasure and
astonishment. "Will you have your tail plain, curled or plaited?" asked
Mandy in a businesslike voice.

"Er--er--plain, thank you." With admiration and some alarm, Nox
regarded the whirling arms of the Goat Girl, but the four little stable
boys, appearing at that moment, stared at her in glassy eyed fright and
consternation. For Nox they had brought a tray heaped high with corn
and oats and another with fresh sliced apples. For Mandy there were two
trays of gold dishes containing a sample of everything from the royal
table. Dropping her brushes Mandy seized all the trays at once in her
various hands, which so frightened the stable boys they took to their
heels yelling at the tops of their voices.

Winking at the Royal Ox, Mandy set his supper on the gold stand meant
for that purpose, then dropping to the floor before her own two trays
began her first dinner in a strange land. And WHAT a strange land,
mused Mandy helping herself from the gold dishes with first one hand
and then another.

"Well, m'lass?" inquired Nox, daintily nibbling his oats and apples.
"Is this not better than bread and water in a dungeon cell?" Too full
for utterance, Mandy rapturously nodded.



CHAPTER 4

The Message in the Horn


After the Goat Girl had finished her supper and the stable boys had
hurried off with the trays, Nox showed his new slave to her quarters.
Handy Mandy, who had expected nothing better than a heap of straw in
the corner of an empty stall, decided that for a slave, she was faring
pretty well. A small but complete apartment had been built in the wing
next to Nox's stall, with not only a comfortable bedroom and bath, but
a small sitting room as well. The bed was a huge gold four poster with
blue silk sheets and comforters. Never in her hard and simple life had
Handy dreamed of such elegance!

"Here, try the chairs," urged Nox, trotting almost briskly into the
sitting room. This, Mandy was only too willing to do, and the pretty
little room with its book shelves, lamps and pictures seemed to the
honest Goat Girl much more desirable than the palace.

"All belonged to Kerry," mumbled the Royal Ox, settling himself largely
on a white rug beside her.

"Was Kerry one of your slaves?" asked Mandy, rocking herself cheerfully
to and fro with all her hands resting quietly in her lap.

"SLAVE!" The Ox spoke sharply. "I should say not. Kerry was a King! Our
own little King up to a few years ago, and what a lad he was--what a
lad!"

"Was?" exclaimed Mandy. "Why--what happened to him?"

"He disappeared," Nox told her sadly. "Nobody knows how--or where, just
disappeared, my girl, on a hunting trip, and this blue nosed scoundrel
who claims to be his uncle, came to rule over Keretaria. Since then,"
Nox lowered his voice cautiously, "everything is different--and
changed. The people are treated no better than dogs. DOGS!" repeated
the Royal Ox bitterly. "Of course this fellow cannot interfere with me
nor take any chances for there is a prophecy on the west wall of the
castle that has stood for a thousand years."

"What does it say?" asked Mandy, leaning forward and clasping the arms
of the rocker with all hands.

Impressively Nox repeated the prophecy: "So long as the Royal Ox of
Keretaria is in good health and spirits, so long and no longer shall
the present King rule over the Land."

"But who wrote it?" Mandy's rocker stopped with a surprised squeak.

"Nobody knows," answered Nox soberly, "but it has come true dozens and
dozens of times. Each time a new King is crowned in Keretaria a new Ox
appears mysteriously at the Royal coronation. If anything happens to
the Royal Ox the King also is destroyed!"

"My--y!" The Goat Girl now rocked very fast indeed. "So that's the
reason they take such good care of you, old Toggins. But tell me, where
do all of you Royal Oxen come from in the first place? And how is it
you can speak? None of the beasts on Mount Mern can say a word."

"Oh, that--" the Royal Ox lifted his head lazily. "Keretaria is in the
wonderful Land of Oz, my dear Handy, and all Oz creatures can talk,
even the mice and squirrels. But what part of Oz we white oxen really
come from, I myself cannot rightly say. I seem to remember a great blue
forest and many happy days there. Then one evening a silver cloth was
thrown over my head and I fell into a deep and immediate slumber. When
I awakened, I was here in Keretaria and on that same day little King
Kerry was crowned King of the Realm. From the attendants and courtiers
I soon learned of the strange prophecy, but the young boy King was so
devoted to me--and I to him, I did not miss the forest or my former
freedom.

"To be near me, Kerry had this apartment built in the stable and spent
more than half of his time in my company. My life being easy and
pleasant, I gave little thought to the past or to the future, but spent
all my energies enjoying the present. Once in a while just for the
looks of the thing, I appeared in Royal Processions, and each day at
sundown I was yoked for an hour to the golden plough and required to
stand for an hour in the royal garden. But I never did any real work or
ploughing, till you, my reckless Handy, came along today."

"But what about the little King?" begged the Goat Girl, as Nox lapsed
into a thoughtful silence and seemed to have forgotten all about her.

"He disappeared, just as I told you." The Royal Ox rolled his big
eyes mournfully upward. "On this day, as on many others, I carried
him on my back to the edge of the wood. There, mounting his favorite
steed, he rode away with the Royal Huntsmen for an hour's sport. As
I was returning to the castle someone struck me a terrific blow that
felled me to the earth, where I lay for several hours in complete
unconsciousness. Whoever struck me down evidently thought I was
finished, for when I finally did regain my senses, I was buried beneath
a heap of loose earth and leaves. Still dazed and hardly knowing what
I was about, I struggled out and staggered back to the courtyard. One
of my horns had been bent during the encounter and my expression was
so wild and distracted no one recognized me as BOZ, the Royal Ox of
Little King Kerry. The whole castle was in an uproar, for a new King
had taken possession of the throne and thinking, of course, I was
the next and new Royal Ox, this rascally imposter named me NOX. The
Keretarians, without daring to inquire what had become of their former
ruler, crowned me with daisies and laurel and hurried to do the bidding
of their new ruler."

"WHY--the big _cowards_!" said Handy Mandy, clenching all of her fists,
"And do you mean to tell me nothing has been heard of the little King
since then?"

"Nothing." The Royal Ox moved his head drearily from side to side. "The
people think the Royal Prophecy has been fulfilled again and what can
they DO? A farmer's boy brought word that Boz, the Royal Ox, had been
struck down and spirited away, so naturally they felt sure that Kerry
also had been destroyed or taken prisoner."

"Then no one suspects you are really Boz and not NOX?" questioned the
Goat Girl, now on the very edge of her chair. "Oh, my--y, but don't you
see, if you are still the same Ox who came to Keretaria with King Kerry
and you are still all right, he must be all right, too. That is, if the
prophecy means _anything_."

"Sh--hh!" warned Nox, looking about nervously. "Someone might hear you.
That is what keeps me here," he went on seriously. "I felt if I stayed
quietly in my place, Kerry would some day return, claim his own throne
and drive this miserable tyrant out of the country."

"Stay quietly here when the little fellow may be needing you!" cried
Handy aghast. "Oh, why don't you go look for him, you great big OX you!
Come on, what are we waiting for? Why I'll drag that old rascal off the
throne with my own hands," promised the Goat Girl indignantly waving
her arms.

"Wait! Stop!" Nox sprang up with surprising lightness for one usually
so ponderous and slow. "Do you realize that I am treasured and watched
more closely than the crown jewels? At this very moment twenty
guardsmen stalk round and round the stable. I have as much chance of
leaving Keretaria as a goldfish has of flying through a forest."

As if to prove his words a tall soldier in a blue shako thrust his head
suddenly through the window from the outside. "Is everything in order
and as you wish, your Highness?" puffed the Guard, looking suspiciously
at the Goat Girl's revolving arms.

"Everything is lovely," murmured the Ox in a sleepy voice. "My slave
here is doing her exercises and when she finishes she will polish my
horns." At his warning wink, Handy Mandy dropped all her arms at her
side.

"Well! Well! A pleasant evening to you," mumbled the soldier,
withdrawing his head after another disapproving look at the Goat Girl.
For a moment after he had disappeared neither spoke, then Handy Mandy,
snatching a silk cover from one of the pillows fell to polishing Nox's
left horn for very dear life.

"I can always think faster when I'm working," she observed earnestly.

"Think away," replied the Ox, closing his eyes so as not to see the
numerous hands flashing past his nose. "But be careful what you say and
do. If you rouse the suspicions of old King Kerr, you'll be flung into
a dungeon in spite of all my influence."

"Now don't you be worrying about me," chortled Handy with a little wink
and nod. "I've been taking care of myself and a flock of goats for ten
years! Say, this is a bend, for sure." The Goat Girl ran her rubber
fingers curiously along the curve in the Ox's left horn and then, with
one of her sudden and kind-hearted impulses, tried to straighten the
quirk with a quick twist of her wrist. Imagine, then, if you can, her
horror and surprise when the golden horn came off in her hand.

"Oh my goats and my goodness!" shuddered Handy hopping from one foot
to the other. "What'll I do? Where's some glue? Oh My--igh--igh! I'm
mighty sorry!"

"Sorry!" gulped the Royal Ox, glaring at the Goat Girl with rolling
eyes and lashing tail. But before he could lunge forward as he
certainly intended to do, Handy gave a little scream of excitement.
"Oh look," she panted, pointing all thirty-five fingers at the base of
Nox's horn, "Oh, my dear--ear, it screws on--there are regular grooves.
Wait--I'll have it back in a jiffy."

Nox, who couldn't possibly see the top of his own head, merely gave a
grunt, but Handy Mandy, lifting the horn in her wooden hand, screamed
again and then began to shake the horn violently. At her second shake,
two silver balls tumbled out and rolled away into a corner. Scrambling
after them, with Nox now as interested as she, the Goat Girl recovered
them both and dropped breathlessly on a sofa.

On closer examination Handy discovered the balls would open as easily
as cardboard Easter eggs, and with Nox's head resting heavily on her
shoulder she gave the first a quick turn. It came apart at once and in
the hollow center lay a small folded paper. Spreading it out on her
knees, Handy read in a hoarse whisper: "Go to the Silver Mountain of
OZ."

"Silver Mountain? Do you know where that is?" exclaimed the Goat Girl,
looking wildly round at Nox.

"No, but I'll wager my head it has something to do with Kerry! Quick,
m'lass, open the other ball."

With the trembling fingers of her good white hand the Goat Girl obeyed.
Inside the second sphere lay a small silver key. After they had
examined this and read the message all over again, Handy carefully
tucked the two articles back in the silver balls and returned the balls
to the golden horn. Then, hastily screwing the horn back on its base,
the two began whispering earnestly together.

"Mean to say you never knew your horn came off?" questioned Handy,
clasping and unclasping her hands. "Mean to say you never heard of this
Silver Mountain?"

"No to both questions," answered the Ox with an anxious little sigh.
"But now that we _do_ know, we must start off at once to search for
it and see for ourselves whether Kerry is imprisoned there by his
enemies. Though how we'll escape these guards or ever get away with
half the Kingdom watching, I cannot imagine!"

"Never fear, we'll manage," promised Handy easily. "Why with your horns
and my hands it will take an army to stop us. Now get your rest, Ox
dear, and in the morn's morning we'll be journeying."

"You're right," breathed the Ox, starting obediently toward his stall.
"I more than half believe you."

"Good night, then," called the Goat Girl softly. "Don't talk in your
sleep and give our plans away."



CHAPTER 5

Out of Keretaria!


Nox was asleep on a heap of white flower petals in the corner of his
stall, asleep and dreaming of the Silver Mountain of Oz, when a sharp
tap on the shoulder rudely awakened him.

"Come!" whispered an urgent voice. "Time to start! Come, I've managed
everything." Lurching to his feet and still in a daze, the Royal Ox
looked askance and with no great favor at the Goat Girl.

"Why, it's not even light!" he moaned feebly.

"Of course not," admitted Handy Mandy guardedly, "but I poked my nose
out the door a moment ago and saw all the guards were a bit drowsyish,
so I tapped them on the head with this." Handy Mandy raised her iron
hand and with a little grimace beckoned for Nox to hurry. "Come along
now, and we can be out of here before they know what's what or who."

So Nox, with a regretful look round his comfortable stall and a sigh
for his morning bath and breakfast, moved quietly after her. While the
Royal Creature had spent most of his time during the past two years
thinking of ways to rescue his young Master, now that he was actually
starting out he was filled with doubt and dismay. How could they ever
find this Silver Mountain and overcome the enemies that most certainly
would beset them?

The sight of the twenty guards lying in a stiff row somewhat reassured
the downhearted beast and in the dim light of early morning he looked
thoughtfully up at the sturdy mountain lass stepping so resolutely
beside him. In each hand Handy carried a different weapon, and resting
on her broad shoulders was a rake, an axe, one guard's gun, another
guard's sword, a spade and a long handled broom. Noting his astonished
glance, the Goat Girl grinned and with her one free hand touched her
fingers to her lips. So, silently and without exchanging a word, the
two crossed the stable yard, the Royal Park, hurried through a little
wood, and came out on a dusty blue Highway.

"NOW!" said Handy, looking up and down the road to make sure no one was
coming, "now we can talk and decide which direction to take."

"How can we do that," objected Nox, panting a little from the
unaccustomed exertion before breakfast, "when neither of us knows
where this Silver Mountain is?"

"Well, we have tongues, haven't we? And can ask, can't we?" Handy Mandy
rattled her weapons impatiently. "But before we worry about the Silver
Mountain we must get out of Keretaria. Which is the quickest way to the
border?"

"Oh, North," answered Nox promptly. "Keretaria is in the upper part of
the Munchkin Country of Oz and once we cross the Northern branch of the
Munchkin River, we'll be entirely out of the country."

"Fine! Then we'll go North. And what lies beyond the Munchkin River?"
inquired the Goat Girl, shifting the axe to her left shoulder.

"I've never crossed myself," admitted Nox, moving along in his slow and
dignified manner, "but I have heard there are many mountains and if we
go far enough the Purple Land of the Gillikins."

"Sounds interesting," decided Handy Mandy, "and who knows, among all
those mountains we may find the one we are looking for! By the way, am
I to call you Boz, Nox or Goldie Horns? But I believe I'll call you
Nox, for somehow I like Nox the Ox best."

"Anything you say," yawned her companion, switching his tail
negligently, "but I shall always call YOU, Handy Mandy. It suits you,
m'lass, and you need no longer consider yourself a slave."

"Ho, ho, I never did," roared the Goat Girl, glancing cheerfully
down at her lordly companion. "That was just a joke, wasn't it? You
know, everything in this Land of Oz is extremely funny and peculiar.
Two-armed natives, animals talking, Kings disappearing and mysterious
messages and prophecies."

"People always think a new country strange!" observed the Ox
philosophically. "To us it seems quite right and natural. But I daresay
if I were to find myself on Mt. Mern I'd consider everything there
very odd and upsetting; rocks flying through the air, for instance,
and landing one soft and light as a daisy in a strange King's garden."

"But all of our rocks don't fly, in fact I never knew one to do such a
thing before. And no wonder I landed as soft as a daisy--there was a
blue daisy under me or I'd have been splintered to smithereens!"

"Daisy?" Nox licked his lips hungrily. "You never said anything about a
daisy."

"Oh, I never tell all I know," confided Handy, "especially to
Hi-qui-cockadoodlums like the King and his Counselors. But there was
a daisy--growing on the rock and I picked it. As I started to fall I
began pulling off the petals, and when I landed I came down on a high,
huge pile of them, a heap as high as a haystack," continued Handy Mandy
dreamily. "So I slid off the stack and turned to look at the castle,
and when I looked again, the petals were gone, but there was the daisy
itself growing up as pert as you please in this strange garden. So what
did I do but pick it again and here it is!" Triumphantly Handy pulled
the blue flower from her pocket.

"My, what a dear little daisy!" murmured the Ox. "How delicious it
would taste."

"No! NO!" cried Handy, as Nox rolled his long tongue out toward the
flower. "It's too pretty to eat."

"Nothing's too pretty to eat," replied the Ox plaintively. "Funny it
hasn't wilted, though."

"Well, I believe it's magic," stated the Goat Girl, with a positive
little shake of her head. As she returned the daisy to her pocket,
Handy felt the hard metal object that had hit her in the forehead when
she and Nox ploughed through the King's garden.

"Look! What do you suppose this is?" she queried, tapping the Ox
sharply on the shoulder, for he was walking sleepily along with his
eyes closed. "This is what we dug up when we rushed through the garden,
you know."

"How should I know?" grunted the Ox indifferently, opening one eye.
"Just a silver hammer, isn't it? Maybe we can trade it for a good
breakfast when we cross the river."

"My--y--how you talk!" scolded Handy. "We're not going to trade it at
all. See, there's an initial on it. A big W. Now what would W stand
for?"

"Who, what, which, where, oh why worry?" mumbled the Ox, plodding
resignedly along beside her.

"Well, anyway, it will make a splendid potato masher," concluded the
Goat Girl, returning the hammer to her pocket.

"Yes, if we had any potatoes." The Ox sighed heavily as he spoke,
looking off into the distance with such a mournful eye Handy Mandy
laughed a little all to herself.

"Oh cheer up," sniffed the Goat Girl, "you're not starved yet. And
hurry up, too, the sun's going higher every moment and we'd better pass
those farms before the people waken."

It was against Nox's nature to hurry, but realizing the wisdom of the
Goat Girl's advice, he broke into an awkward gallop. In spite of his
great weight, the Royal creature was light as a daisy on his feet, and
except for the faint rattle of Handy's weapons they made little noise
as they ran past the dome-shaped blue houses and barns of the Munchkin
farmers.

"Couldn't we stop for a few greens?" puffed Nox, looking longingly over
the fence at a field of cabbages.

"Not here, dear--ear!" Red faced and breathless, the Goat Girl ran on.
"Wait till we cross this river--iver."

"But I'm not used to this--sort--of--thing," complained Nox peevishly.
"Running races before breakfast on an empty stomach. No bath--no
brush--no rub down!"

"Well, here's your brush," gasped Handy, picking her way through a
dense thicket as the highway ended in a small wood, "and yonder's your
bath, Mister. My--y, what a blue river!"

"Everything's blue in the Munchkin Country of Oz," Nox told her
sulkily, as sharp briers and thorns reached out to scratch his satiny
hide.

"Even the Royal Ox of Keretaria," hinted Handy with a sly wink. "Oh the
river's blue and the houses are blue and even the wind blew--Hoo Hoo!
Come on."

"Don't try to be funny," with heaving sides, the Ox stopped on the edge
of the gleaming blue stream. "Don't try to be funny, I beg."

"Oh, I don't have to try, I am!" laughed Handy, flinging the axe, the
rake, the spade, the sword, the gun and the broomstick across the river.

"Wait!" snorted the Ox, as Handy, having got rid of her load, raised
all of her hands above her head and prepared to dive in. "Wait, can you
swim?"

"I don't know, but I'll soon find out," cried Handy, and before Nox
could prevent it, the Goat Girl leapt off the bank and disappeared
beneath the blue waters of the Munchkin River. For once, Nox forgot his
dignity and Royal station and plunged frantically after his reckless
companion. Swimming around with his head under water, he finally
located Handy Mandy and gripping her yellow plaits firmly in his teeth,
dragged her to the opposite bank. The Goat Girl was so full of water,
she had little to say and lay soggily on the grass while Nox looked
down at her with mingled admiration and concern.

"Never do such a thing again," he wheezed severely as Handy finally sat
up and began wringing the water from her voluminous skirts. "Swimming
is an art and must be learned and practiced. But for oat's sake, why
didn't you flap all those arms when you hit the water?" he finished
irritably.

"Oh, is that what you're supposed to do? This way?" Before Nox could
step a step, the Goat Girl had jumped into the river again. This time
instead of going down she splashed and whirled her seven arms so fast
and furiously she just managed to keep her head above water. But Nox,
now thoroughly annoyed and without giving her a chance to get far from
shore, waded in and determinedly dragged her back to dry land.

"What in skyblue onions are you trying to do?" he sputtered angrily,
"Drown yourself?"

"No, I'm trying to swim," coughed the Goat Girl, struggling to get
away from the angry Ox. "Do you suppose I'm going to let this Munchkin
River get the best of me?"

"Yes, and while you are swimming or rather practicing your swimming
some of these Keretarians will come and capture us," gurgled Nox. "Are
we escaping or are we swimming--quick now, make up your mind."

Nox's earnest words brought Handy quickly to her senses and as the
Royal Ox let go her skirts, she snatched up her weapons and without
waiting to wring out her clothes started briskly across the meadows.

"Never mind, you'll be a fine swimmer some day," said Nox, trotting
more amiably beside her. The cool river water had refreshed the Royal
creature and Handy Mandy's determination and courage made him a little
ashamed of his own complaints. "Takes a little practice, that's all."

"Practice!" repeated Handy, dripping water from every plait and pore.
"Well just wait till we come to the next river, I'll show you! But
LOOK, here are more blue houses, so we must still be in the Munchkin
Country."

"Yes, but we're out of Keretaria," Nox reminded her cheerfully. "What's
that signpost say, my girl?"

Hurrying forward, Handy squinted up at the rough board nailed to a blue
spruce and then began to clench and unclench her one free fist.

    "TURN HERE!"

directed the sign. "Turn here and go straight back where you came from."

"Well, I'll be buttered!" cried the Goat Girl, throwing down every one
of her weapons. "I'll be churned and buttered."

"But what had we butter do?" muttered the Royal Ox, so taken aback by
the saucy message that even his tongue was twisted.

"Why, we'll go straight on, of course," declared Handy Mandy, tossing
her yellow plaits defiantly. "Who are whoever they are to tell us our
business?" And recovering her weapons one by one, the Goat Girl tramped
down the crooked lane directly ahead of them, the Royal Ox with lifted
nose and horns, stepping warily behind her.



CHAPTER 6

Turn Town!


Determined as she was, Handy found it impossible to go straight on,
for the lane curved and twisted this way and that, ending finally in a
perfect corkscrew turn. The trees on both sides were now so dense Handy
and the Royal Ox could not have left the road even had they wished to
do so.

"We're going round and round and getting nowhere," said Nox in an
abused voice. "Of all the roads in Oz why did we have to pick this
one?"

"Because it dared us, I suppose. Hi--Yi!" exclaimed Handy, leaning
against a tree to rest. "I'm dizzy as a bat and hungry as a goat."

"Too bad you're not a goat," murmured Nox, who had stopped to nibble
the lower branches of a maple. "These leaves are quite tender."

"Well, I may come to them," sighed Handy, looking at him enviously.
"But shall we go on? I think one more turn will bring us out of here."

Handy was right for one more round brought them to the end of corkscrew
lane, but only to find themselves facing a high, forbidding wall. There
was a gate and turnstile in the wall, and beyond the Goat Girl caught
a glimpse of a confused whirling village where everything seemed to
be turning round or over. "It's just because I'm so dizzy," thought
Handy, clutching her head with her one free hand. But Nox, peering over
her shoulder gave a loud and indignant bellow as a house on the corner
of the street nearest them turned completely over and began spinning
merrily on its chimney, while the fence running round the bakery shop
next door started really to run around, kicking up its posts with great
glee and abandon.

"Hu--what kind of silly place is this?" rumbled the Ox backing hastily
away. But Handy Mandy had seen a whole row of little pies in the
bakeshop window and motioning vigorously for Nox to follow, stepped
over the stile and through the movable gate. It was too much of a
squeeze for Nox, but determined not to be left behind, he jumped neatly
over. A revolving sign on one of the large public buildings caught
their attention at once, but as the building was going one way and the
sign another, it was several minutes before they could discover what it
said.

"TURN TOWN!" read the Goat Girl in some surprise. "So that's where
we are! And would you loo--ook, every house on every street is going
round or over. Mercy--ercy on us and where do you suppose the people
are?"

"Turning over and over in their beds I take it, it is still quite
early, you know," whispered the Royal Ox, speaking cautiously out of
the corner of his mouth. "But come on, the streets are not turning, and
perhaps if we hurry we can go through before they waken and turn on us.
Hurry--hurry--what are you waiting for?"

"Food," sighed Handy wistfully. "I thought I might catch us a few pies,
Old Toggins. Here, watch my stuff and I'll bring us each some."

Nox looked sharply up and down the street as the Goat Girl set down
her axe, rake, spade, gun, broom and sword, and started off toward the
bakery.

Not only the fence but the shop itself was turning now. Handy quite
cleverly waited till the gate came opposite her and dashed through, but
the open door of the shop kept going by so rapidly she was knocked down
several times before she finally darted inside. As she disappeared Nox
gave an uneasy snort, but cheered up as the shop window came past and
he saw Handy with a pie in every hand, smile at him reassuringly. But
alas, the whirling floor of the shop was too much for the Goat Girl
and as she started out there was a clatter of broken china and falling
furniture.

"Great Gazoo, what's she done now?" moaned Nox as Handy leaped through
the door and fell sprawling in the little garden. She still had six of
the pies clutched in her various hands, but as she jumped up and raced
through the garden gate, windows all up and down the street were flung
open. From the right side up ones and the down side down ones kinky
black heads came popping out by the hundred.

"Turn out! Turn out! Topsies turn out!" yelled the excited citizens,
their voices going higher and higher. "Thieves, robbers, tramps and
Stand-Stillians!"

"Here," gasped the Goat Girl reaching Nox in one bound. "Eat these
quick and destroy the evidence." Stuffing one of the tarts into her own
mouth, Handy made a wry face. "Ugh, TURNIPS!" choked the Goat Girl,
dropping the other five in huge disgust. "Whoever heard of turnip
turnovers?"

"I'll eat them," offered Nox, lapping up the little pies in his stride,
"but run--hurry, here come the natives!" But before Handy could snatch
up her weapons, the Topsies, hurling out of windows and doors, came
whirling down upon them.

Startled though she was, the Goat Girl could not disguise her interest
and curiosity. With one arm round Nox's neck and the other six
stretched stiffly before her to keep back the screeching crowd, she
stared with round and fascinated eyes. And, no wonder! The Topsies were
about as tall as children, but where their feet should have been, they
had sharp horny pegs. Another peg of the same description sprung from
each kinky head. With their plump hands the small black and blue men
and women spun themselves along by cords attached to their round little
middles and they kept reversing themselves, spinning first on one end
and then another in a manner very upsetting and confusing to their
visitors. The hum made by the Topsies' spinning and their loud raucous
cries filled the early morning air, and as Handy tried to push her way
through the crowd, several butted her with their sharp pegs.

"Ouch! Stop that!" bellowed Nox, who had been butted too. "Keep still,
m'lass, and sooner or later these little pests will run down."

"Turn them out! Turn them in! Turn them round! Turn them over!"
shrieked the Topsies hysterically. In the midst of the dreadful
confusion, a Topsy taller than all the rest came zooming down the
middle of the street.

"Look! STAND-STILLIANS!" shouted a round little spinster waving both
arms. "Travelers with legs instead of pegs. Robbers! Thieves! And
tramps, your Topjesty."

"Yes, and they have broken into my shop and stolen all my turnip
turnovers," screamed the Topsy Baker, spinning round in indignant
circles. "Aha, you wait, here comes Tip-Topper. Now you'll catch it
you, you Turnover snatchers, you!"

"Now you'll catch it!" shrilled all the rest of the Topsies, spinning
faster and faster till Handy and Nox were dizzy just from looking at
them.

Except for his size and a flag fluttering from the peg on his head,
Tip-Topper looked just like his subjects.

"Spin! Spin!" he whistled angrily. "What do you mean standing still in
the middle of Turn Town? Don't you realize you are breaking every one
of our rotary laws? Why are you here--did you come to do us a good turn
or a bad?"

"Turn 'em down! Turn 'em out! Turn 'em over! Turn 'em round!" insisted
the townsmen shrilly.

Between the revolving houses and the spinning Topsies, Handy Mandy
scarcely knew which foot she was standing on. As for Nox, he gave a
great groan and closing his eyes, left everything to his companion.
Handy put two hands over her ears and raising all the others, addressed
Tip-Topper in a firm and reasonable manner.

"Tell your people to stand back," directed the Goat Girl calmly. "All
we wish is to pass quietly through your city and never return. NEVER!"
she repeated emphatically. It was hard to speak to a person who kept
going round and round, but at every third turn Handy managed to catch
Tip-Topper's eye and at last he seemed to catch her idea.

"Very well, then, GO!" he commanded haughtily. "And at once!" But
when Handy, without stopping to pick up her weapons, started forward,
perfect shrieks of anger rose on all sides.

"Not that way! Not that way. Turn! Turn! Turn!" yelled the Topsies.
And getting back of Handy and the Royal Ox, they tried to push them
round by main force.

"Stop! Stop! It's no use," panted Tip-Topper, as Nox letting out a
frightful bellow, laid seven Topsies by the pegs with his left hind
foot, and Handy with a sweep of her arms swept down ten more. "They're
all made wrong. Fetch the Turn Coat, drive them to the turning point
and we'll turn them to Topsies in two shakes of a tent pole."

"M--mmmmm! M--mmmmm! Did you hear what I heard?" Nox peered desperately
around at Handy, who was now spinning dizzily herself, as she was
flung and pushed from one group to another. "Could they really turn us
to Topsies?"

"I don't know! I don't know! Oh my head, my HEAD!" moaned the Goat
Girl, clutching it with all hands. "It's going round and round--"

"Fine! Fine! That's the way!" cheered the Topsies heartily. "You'll be
spinning circles before you know it and have beautiful wool like the
rest of us."

"Wool!" gasped Handy, who was extremely proud of her shining yellow
braids. "Oh, I wool not, that's just too much! Stand back you little
buzzards and I'll show you a turn or two myself."

"Go ahead," said Turn Uppins, who seemed next in importance to
Tip-Topper himself. "It's your turn anyway. Stand back Topsies, and let
this waddling whangus show us what she can do."

At a signal from their leader the Turn Towners fell back a pace and
spinning in a loud agitated circle, impatiently waited for the Goat
Girl to take her turn. First Handy shook her head to dispel the
dizziness, then with a loud screech, she flung her arms and heels into
the air in such a succession of hand springs that even the Topsies were
impressed. The seventh brought her back to the Royal Ox and in the
center of a now cheering and admiring circle, she turned fifty more so
fast that she looked like an animated cartwheel with arms and leg's for
spokes. A loud buzz of applause went up as Handy finally fell over from
sheer exhaustion, but then they began pointing accusing fingers at Nox.

"Look! Look at the stupid Gumflumox, why he hasn't turned a single
hair."

"How about turning on them," raged Nox, "and tossing a few dozen on my
horns? Hop on my back, m'lass, and we'll make a run for it."

"No! No! There are too many, we'll be perfectly punctured," worried
Handy, as seven Topsies prodded the Royal Ox sharply in the flank. "We
might run right into that turning point, too. Wait! Wait! I'll think
of something. We don't want to spin on here forever, whatever happens!
Whew--hewey, what a dust the little pests kick up. I'd give my best
hand for a drink, I'm choking with thirst. Oh! Oh! I wish I were in a
river right this minute." Steadying herself by holding to Nox's right
horn, Handy faced the angry multitude.

"Turn! Turn! Take your turn!" shouted the Topsies incessantly. "Can't
you even turn your head old four-leg!"

"Of course he can," shouted Handy Mandy, clapping six of her hands
for silence. "Not only his head, but his horns. Watch this, my
friends!" The Goat Girl gave the horn she was leaning on a sharp twist.

"Not that one. Not that one!" fumed the Ox anxiously. "Quick, the
other--it's the other one, I tell you! Oh, my hide, hair, and Heavens!
Ulp! Gurgle Ooooop!"

And "Oooop gurgle ULP!" it was with everyone, for at Handy Mandy's
second turn, Nox's horn came completely off and as the goat girl held
it up for the Topsies to see, out spurted a perfect torrent of water
that flooded the whole city till every Turner and Topsy-turvy house in
it was awash or afloat. In wild and astonished voices the kinky headed
little citizens called out to each other as they bobbed up and down
like corks on the raging tide. And just as wet and surprised as the
Topsies, the Goat Girl and Nox were swept along by the impetuous flood.



CHAPTER 7

A Horn of Plenty


After the first awful ducking, Handy, without losing a second began
to practice her swimming. Striking out with strength and purpose and
her seven good arms she managed to keep abreast of Nox, who was moving
easily along in the center of the torrent. Bothersome as the Topsies
had been, the Goat Girl could not help feeling sorry for the little
Turn Towners. At first, she feared they would all go down. But they
just spun round like water bugs on the surface and, while they made
no progress, seemed in little danger of drowning. In fact they could
no more sink than corks or kindling. So, busy with her own struggles,
Handy dismissed them from her mind and tried to figure out the reason
for the sudden and overwhelming rush of water that had deluged the city.

At any rate it was fine to be rid of the Topsies, she reflected
philosophically, and when the flood did recede, Turn Town would be good
as new and twice as clean. The current was racing along so swiftly
now, the last Topsy had long since disappeared, leaving only herself
and Nox in the broad tumbling expanse of water. Nox had not uttered
a word since his first outcry when the flood had overtaken them, but
he looked so glum and disagreeable that Handy, thrashing along beside
him, wondered what would be the best way to start a conversation. As it
happened, the Royal beast saved her the trouble by starting one himself.

"Well," he snorted bitterly. "I see you still have it."

"WHAT?" gulped the Goat Girl, forgetting to use her arms for a moment
and in consequence, shipping about a bucket of water. "Ulp--gulp--have
what?"

"My horn. HORN!" gurgled Nox, glaring at her angrily over a wave. "And
if in the future you will keep your hands, all of them, off my horns,
it will be the better for us." This seemed to Handy a very unjust and
unreasonable attitude for Nox to take, but she was too occupied keeping
afloat to stop and argue the matter.

"Swim closer and I'll screw it back," she offered, obligingly holding
up the wooden hand in which she still clutched the right half of the
royal headgear. But at this, poor Nox was deluged by a robust stream
that still poured from the golden horn. Hastily plunging it under the
surface again, Handy watched her fellow adventurer emerge sputtering
and furious from the depths.

"Well of all the stupid tricks!" gasped the Ox, swimming rapidly away
from her. "Stop--keep off--don't you dare come near me."

"But see here," panted Handy, going after him in real exasperation.
"After all it is your horn, and am I to blame if there is a river
inside? What do you want me to do, throw it away?"

"No! No!" bellowed the Ox, stopping short and looking frantically
over his shoulder. "If you throw it away I'll look like a fool, if
you keep holding it we'll spend the rest of our lives swimming round
in this torrent--if you screw it back on my head--it will probably
give me water on the brain. Oh--blub glub! what shall we do? THINK of
something, can't you, before we both drown in your stupid old river?"

"My river!" Handy Mandy was so indignant that for a moment she was
perfectly speechless.

"Yes, your river!" roared Nox, treading water angrily. "Didn't you wish
for a river just before you jerked off my horn. Well, this is it and I
hope you like it."

"Why Nox, how clever of you to guess," bubbled the Goat Girl, a great
light breaking over her wet head. "I remember now, I was thirsty and
wished for a drink, then a whole river, and lo! a river was here."

"You mean HIGH it was here," raged Nox, beginning to swim again.

"But look," cried Handy, beating and slapping the water exultantly
with her many hands. "If that is so, all we have to do is to wish it
away again. I'm still holding the horn and there's magic in it, old
Toddywax--MAGIC! I here and now wish this river AWAY."

Handy yelled her wish in a booming voice that almost split the Ox's
ear-drums and both were so sure the wish would be granted they stopped
swimming, so both had a fine ducking as the river continued to rush
merrily and unconcernedly over their heads.

"Bosh! It wasn't magic after all. My--y, if I ever get out of here,
I'll never go swimming again as long as I live," sobbed Handy, pushing
her arms and legs wearily through the water.

"Oh, I think I'll just sink and be done with it," moaned the Ox,
churning breathlessly along beside her.

"You think you'll sink!" exclaimed Handy, popping her head up
indignantly. "Don't you dare sink and leave me here all alone. Besides,
we set out to find that little King and we're going to find him!
Where's your sporting blood?"

"Watered!" gurgled the Royal Ox in a faint voice. "Goodbye, m'lass,
you probably did it all for the best!" It seemed to the Goat Girl that
Nox was really sinking so, flinging out her leather hand, she grasped
him firmly by his left horn. Then, acting quickly, and before he could
object, Handy pushed his head under water and quickly screwed his right
horn in place.

"I wish this dumb river would go straight back where it came from,"
quavered Handy as Nox bellowing and bubbling backed indignantly away.
And THIS time the river went. So suddenly and completely the Goat Girl
and the Ox were dropped forty feet to the bottom of a rocky gorge
through which the torrent had been tumbling. For a long moment they lay
where they had fallen, then stiffly they arose and peered anxiously
around them. Handy, thanks to her voluminous petticoats, was saved from
serious injury and Nox, who had landed in a patch of brush was not
dangerously hurt, either. But they both were so shocked, shaken and
worn out from their long swim they were perfectly content to stay where
they were.

"You see," sighed Handy, wringing out her skirts with four hands and
smoothing back her hair with the other three. "The magic is in the horn
and only works when you are wearing it. As soon as I screwed it back
and made the wish everything was all right."

"Oh, was it?" Scowling round at his scratched flanks and skinned shins,
the Royal Ox shook his head dubiously.

"And just think," continued the Goat Girl brightly. "If your horn
really is a wishing horn, as soon as we decide where we want to go, all
we have to do is wish ourselves there."

"No! No! Absolutely no more of that," squealed Nox, lashing his tail
and flashing his eyes dangerously. "Your last wish nearly killed me,
and if any more wishing is to be done, I'll attend to it myself."

"But how can you unscrew, or even touch your own horn all by yourself?"
inquired Handy reasonably. "You see, you need my hands, and I need
your horns." Throwing back her head, Handy burst into a loud chuckle,
thinking how comical she would look if she actually wore Nox's golden
headgear.

"Oh, why not go on the way we started?" said the Ox querulously. "I'd
rather travel on my feet than my horns any day, and had you noticed,
Handy, that these rocks are purple? Your river has carried us clear
into the Gillikin Country where there are mountains galore and even a
silver one for all we know."

"Yes, but is there anything to eat?" asked the Goat Girl in a hollow
voice. "If those rude little Topsies had just given us some breakfast."

"I expect all they eat is spinach or turnips," sniffed Nox, "and you
would not have cared for either. Well, at any rate we're even. You
certainly turned the tide on them, m'lass." Nox, who was beginning
to feel more cheerful, began to shake all over. "I'll wager my tail
they'll be more polite to travellers in the future."

"Well, as it all turned out so well, let's make another wish," proposed
Handy Mandy practically. "Let's wish ourselves out of here. No use
scrambling over all these rocks, when all we have to do is to wish
ourselves to the spot where your little King happens to be."

"M-m-mm, M-m-m!" mused Nox, half closing his eyes. "Nothing is as easy
as that, and I cannot help feeling--"

"Neither can I," said Handy, and stepping briskly up to the royal
Ox, she gave his right horn a determined twist, at the same time
saying softly: "I wish myself and Nox with Kerry, the rightful ruler
of Keretaria." Nox twitched his ears nervously as his horn came off
in the Goat Girl's best white hand and Handy herself, with all her
arms outspread as if she were a bird about to take flight, waited
in rapturous expectation for her wish to take effect. But this time
nothing at all happened. Neither she nor the Ox moved an inch.

"There you are, I told you it wouldn't work," grumbled Nox, looking at
her crossly. "It's probably not magic at all."

"Oh yes it is," insisted Handy, screwing up her eye and peering down
into the hollow interior. "It gave us a river when we asked for it and
you can't get away from that."

"We certainly had a hard enough time getting away from it," agreed her
companion. "Come now, be a good girl, screw back that horn and let's be
starting on."

"But I just cannot understand why it grants some wishes and not
others," muttered Handy discontentedly. "When I was thirsty and wished
for a river, I got a river--A-HA! I have it. This horn gives you
things but does not take you places. Now let's see, what do we need the
most?"

"Breakfast," suggested the Ox in an interested voice. "Oats and apples
for me, eggs, rolls and coffee for you. But for GOAT'S sake be careful
how you wish, m'lass. We don't want too much even of a good thing, and
one can drown in coffee or smother in oats. Remember the river and be
exact as to size and quantity."

"My--y, this wishing is dreadfully complicated." Rubbing her forehead
with one hand after the other, Handy Mandy prepared to order breakfast.
First she screwed the right horn back on the head of the Ox, then
pursing her lips firmly, she spoke: "I wish for Nox, two measures of
oats and apples, for myself, two plates of eggs and rolls and one cup
of coffee." Turning the horn round till it came off once more, the Goat
Girl almost held her breath as the two breakfasts were set promptly and
noiselessly down on the rock at her feet.

"Now you're getting the idea!" Happily Nox advanced upon his breakfast.

"Say, isn't this simply manubious?" cried Handy, snapping her
thirty-five fingers for sheer joy. "Why, Nox, your horn is a real horn
of plenty!"

"And plenty of trouble if you don't watch your wishes," mumbled her
partner, already up to his ears in oats.

"Oh, I'll be careful, never fear," promised Handy, screwing the horn
back on its base and falling upon her breakfast with a right good will
and appetite. "Won't the eyes of the villagers at home stick out when I
tell them about this?"

"Yes, provided you ever GET home," observed the Ox, who seemed always
to take a dark view of the future. But Handy Mandy, popping the last
of the biscuits into her mouth, scarcely heard him. Now that they need
no longer worry about provisions for the journey, she felt that they
would safely reach the Silver Mountain wherever it might be, rescue the
little King from his enemies and restore him to his throne. Then after
seeing all she wished of the marvelous country of Oz, she would return
to Mt. Mern and startle the country folk with the amazing story of her
travels.

"Come along," she called gaily. "Let's climb out of here." With some
astonishment they watched the empty containers and dishes vanish
away, and then saying very little but thinking a great deal, the two
adventurers began to scramble up the rocky sides of the gorge.



CHAPTER 8

Handy Mandy Learns about Oz!


Handy, who had climbed up and down mountains all her life, reached the
top of the gorge first and with her various hands tugged Nox up the
last steep incline.

"So--this is the Gillikin Country!" panted the Goat Girl, staring away
over the heather covered Highlands. "Now about the natives, do they
spin, bounce or tumble?"

"That, I really couldn't say," gasped Nox, leaning against a tree to
regain his wind, "but as you can see, my girl, all the hills, trees and
vegetation shade from violet to purple. Lovely color, purple!"

"I suppose purple would appeal to a Royal Ox like you." Resting her
hands on her hips, Handy Mandy squinted critically about her. "Now as
for me, I prefer the more cheerful colors, red, yellow or green, for
instance."

"Then you'd like the Quadling and Winkie Countries," murmured Nox,
nibbling languidly at the tops of the heather, "or the Emerald City. We
have all color countries in Oz and a body can take his choice."

"Oh, we'll just take them as they come," decided the Goat Girl
sensibly, "or at least, till we find your young Master and this Silver
Mountain. But tell me, Nox, is each country in Oz a different color and
is there really an Emerald City?" Moving slowly through the heather the
Royal Ox nodded his lordly head.

"Take that stick," he directed, coming to a ponderous stop, "and I'll
show you how Oz looks. See, on that level bit of sand there, just draw
an oblong." Quite interested, Handy marked out an oblong with the point
of the stick. "Connect the corners," breathed the Ox, lifting his
forefoot complacently, "and what have you?"

"Four triangles," answered the Goat Girl promptly.

"Put a circle in the center where all the triangles meet." Nox fairly
radiated pride and importance as his geozophy lesson progressed.

"Then what?" demanded Handy, the stick upraised in her rubber hand.

"That's all!" Tossing back his horns, the Ox surveyed his pupil
triumphantly. "Simple, isn't it? That triangle on the west is the blue
Munchkin Country we have just left, the triangle to the north is the
purple Gillikin Country we are just entering. Over there on the east,
we have the Yellow empire of the Winkies and to the south the red
lands of the Quadlings. In the circle is the Emerald City of Oz, and
surrounding the whole Kingdom is a deadly desert of burning sand."

"My--y!" marveled the Goat Girl, clasping all her hands but one behind
her back, "the desert I crossed when I fell in Keretaria?"

"Of course," answered Nox, snapping lazily at a purple dragon fly.
"Mt. Mern must lie to the west of Oz, on the other side of the deadly
desert. There are many countries beyond the desert, but I know very
little about them as there are only Oz maps in the castle at home."

"Then I suppose the King of Keretaria is King of the Munchkins?" said
Handy, looking thoughtfully down at her map.

"Oh, my, no!" The Royal Ox positively chuckled at such an idea.
"Keretaria is just one of the small countries of the West. Cheeriobed
is King of the Munchkins and he lives in the Sapphire City seventy
leagues below our southernmost borderline. Glinda, the Good Sorceress,
rules all the small Kingdoms in the Quadling Country, the Tin Woodman
of Oz is Emperor of the Winkies and Jo King governs the Gillikins.
Besides these, there are Kings, Queens and Princes galore, but most
important of all is Ozma, the young Fairy who lives in the Emerald
City, for Ozma is supreme sovereign of the entire Kingdom of Oz."

"Dear--ear what a lot to remember," groaned the Goat Girl. "And all
these other Kings and Queens have to do what Ozma says? However does
she keep track of them all? I'll bet they're worse than a flock of
goats."

"Oh, she manages," said the Ox, beginning to move slowly forward.
"Being a fairy and having a wizard right in her own castle, Ozma knows
what is going on without even turning her head."

"Even where we are going?" exclaimed Handy Mandy indignantly.
"Hi--yi--what a little busy-body. I just know I won't like her."

"Well, in that case she will just have to give up her throne and throw
her crown out of the window, I suppose! Better have a care, m'lass,
you're speaking of a powerful fairy, you know." Nox looked so stern
as he went plowing through the heather, Handy began to feel a little
uneasy herself.

"But how could a fairy in the center of Oz see way off here?" she
demanded scornfully.

"Magic, that's how!" explained Nox, looking very calm and superior.
"In her castle Ozma has a magic picture that shows her everything she
wishes to see."

"I don't believe it," scoffed the Goat Girl, swinging all her arms
recklessly, "and besides, why would she wish to see us and this
particular piece of country at this particular minute?"

"I'm sure I don't know," said the Royal Ox haughtily. "But I do say, be
careful. There, what did I tell you!" Framed in the woodwork of a small
summer-house they were approaching was a large poster.

"You are now in the Land of Oz," stated the poster, pleasantly enough.
"Be good to us and we'll be good to you. Keep our laws and practice
no magic, either for good or evil. By order of Her Imperial Highness,
Queen Ozma of Oz." Below was the bright green seal of Oz and a picture
of its pretty dark haired ruler.

"Why she's nothing but a little girl!" cried Handy, positively aghast
at such a state of affairs. "How could a little mite like that rule a
whole country and be so bossy?"

"Oh, hush!" begged Nox, rolling his eyes anxiously. "Mite or not, Ozma
is a mighty powerful and important fairy."

"Well, we're pretty important ourselves," sniffed the Goat Girl,
squinting at the poster with all her arms akimbo. "And besides," Handy
lifted her chin defiantly, "we've broken the law already when we used
your gold horn of plenty. 'Practice no magic.' Hoh! What does she
expect us to do with good magic right at hand--starve? But, ho ho! We
can get around that, old Toggins. After all, we are not practicing
magic, we don't have to practice it--our magic is perfect, so put that
in your pipe and smoke it Miss Ozma to Bozma." Snatching up a rock in
each of her seven hands, Handy flung them hilariously over a clump of
prune trees. (Yes, prunes already wrinkled grow in the Land of Oz.)
There was an uncomfortable little silence after Handy's rash outburst,
then a perfect tempest of shrieks and screeches.

"Now, see what you've done," gulped the Ox, switching his tail
nervously. "Quick, quick, jump on my back and we'll rush by. These
chaps look dangerous."

"Why, they have HOOK noses!" sputtered Handy, too startled to move, as
a band of kilted Highlanders came racing down toward them. The noses
of these singular Hill-men were long and thin, curving out and up far
above their foreheads. On these hooks hung dangerous looking rings
almost as large as barrel hoops. While Handy was wondering what they
could be for, the nearest Hooker pulled a ring from his nose and flung
it with all his might at her head.

"Up. UP!" bellowed Nox, pawing the ground in his agitation. "Are you
going to stand there till you are pegged like a top?" The iron ring
missed Handy by mere inches and grasping Nox's horn she pulled herself
to his back. There were about sixty of the hook noses, and swinging
to the left, Nox tried to skirt the war-like tribe, but they were too
quick for him, and spreading out in a long line they began hurling
their wicked whizzing weapons. One caught neatly on the horn of the
Royal Ox, another hit Handy a horrid blow on the knee, and as Nox,
snorting and furious turned to run, a dozen more came whanging down
about their ears. Dodging left and right, Handy Mandy leaned forward
and began to unscrew Nox's right horn.

"'Be good to us and we'll be good to you!' HOH! Like fun you will!"
muttered the Goat Girl, catching six of the flying missiles in her
clever hands and tossing them back with all her might. "Take that and
these and them and THOSE!" Pulling off the Ox's horn with the only
hand she had left, she added desperately, "I wish a barrel of molasses
over the head of each Hook Nose in this band. Cats, Bats and Billy
Goats! They've GOT me!" And they had, too, for just as Handy finished
her wish, down flashed an iron ring pinioning her arms tightly to her
sides. Still grasping the precious horn, Handy dug her heels into Nox.

"Hurt?" grunted the Ox, leaping forward.

"Not hurt, just hooked and humiliated, can't move a muscle," raged the
Goat Girl. "But ha ha! Neither can they! LOOK!" Nox, who had been
bellowing too hard to hear Handy's wish or miss his horn glanced back
hurriedly.

"Why! What's come over them?" he wheezed in astonishment. "Who snuffed
them out with barrels and what's that sticky fluid running all around?"

"Molasses," Handy told him with extreme satisfaction as she tried
vainly to wriggle out of her ring. "I wished barrels of molasses on
their heads and we'd better dash on while they're stopped and stuck
with it."

"Then you've been breaking the law again," reproached Nox, dodging in
and out and around their frantic enemies.

"Well, as between broken heads and broken laws, I choose the
laws. Besides, look what they did to me!" exclaimed the Goat Girl
indignantly. "I may never get this hoop off or be able to lift a hand
again. Nice people you have in Oz, I must say."

"If you hadn't hit them with stones, they wouldn't have hit us with
hoops," Nox reminded her sternly, at the same time breaking into a
gallop to put as much distance as possible between himself and the
troublesome Gillikins. A few had managed to lift the barrels from their
heads, but most of them were rolling over and over on the ground, half
choked with rage and molasses.

"When we stop I think I can help you," promised Nox, looking anxiously
at Handy, who was now quite purple in the face from her struggles with
the hoop. "Just forget it, can't you, and think of the interesting
people we are meeting. I'll wager you have no hook noses on Mt. Mern!"

"I should say NOT!" sputtered the Goat Girl in disgust, and then
realizing she was making no progress with the ring, sensibly gave up
the attempt to free herself. Somewhat comforted by the thought that
the Hook Noses were probably as uncomfortable as she was, Handy kept a
sharp lookout for natives. If they ran into any more she wanted to be
sure of seeing them first.

But the rocky hills and glades were entirely deserted and at every step
the way became more mountainous and lonely. Nox, panting and wheezing
from the long pull, slackened his pace to a walk. Handy Mandy with some
difficulty managed to dismount, and the Ox slipping his horn under the
offending ring, gently forced it upward till the Goat Girl was able
to wiggle free. Then together they climbed up the flinty inclines--up
and up till they came to a wide ledge and a sparkling waterfall. Here
they had a drink without having to wish for one, Nox sticking his head
right into the water and Handy cupping three pairs of her hands to hold
enough to satisfy her thirst.

"Ho hum," sighed the Ox, "I wonder how much farther we'll have to go
before we can find anyone who can direct us to this Silver Mountain?
I'm sure I saw some castles when we were below."

"So did I," said Handy, screwing his right horn back with a
businesslike flourish. "My--y, seems a long time since we started from
Keretaria. Do you suppose they have missed us yet?"

"Probably," yawned the Ox, scratching his back against a rock, while
Handy, suddenly deciding she needed another drink, stepped close to the
waterfall. But instead of quenching her thirst, the Goat Girl spilled
water all over her feet.

"Nox! Nox!" she screamed, jerking all her thumbs in his direction.
"Come! Look here! There's a big hollow behind this waterfall--a high
wall of rock with a door in it! I can see it!"

"Well," sniffed the Ox, rubbing his back luxuriously, "does it say
'come in'? Must we try every door we come to?"

"Yes," Handy Mandy told him firmly, "we must! Where there's a door
there's bound to be a door-keeper or at least someone who might tell us
where we are. Now then, I'll jump through the waterfall first and knock
on the door. There wouldn't be room for you on the ledge until the door
is open."

"Sounds risky!" objected the Royal Ox, putting back his ears. "What
kind of people would live behind a waterfall? Ask yourself that." But
the Goat Girl, without stopping to ask herself anything, had already
plunged through the misty sheet of water, and gasping and spluttering
was hammering on the door with all seven of her fists.



CHAPTER 9

The Magic Hammer


There was no answer to Handy's loud knocks, and pausing to catch her
breath and blow on her fingers, the Goat Girl wondered what to try
next. Then, in spite of Nox's warning bellow, she began to shove and
push the wet planks with her shoulder. But that did no good either,
so she felt in her pocket for something to use as a wedge. Almost at
once her fingers closed on the silver hammer they had ploughed up in
Keretaria. While the hammer would not do for a wedge, it would at
least save her knuckles, so, lifting it high above her head, Handy
Mandy brought it down with a resounding whack. A shower of silver
sparks followed the hammer blow, and Nox, peering through the waterfall
saw a gnarled and crooked elf with a purple beard dancing madly round
the startled girl.

    "_I am the elf of the hammer, who
    Must do whatever you ask me to_,"

sang the elf between his high leaps and prances.

"Then open this door," directed Handy, spinning round in a circle
herself to get a good look at the little fellow. "My--y, how funny Oz
is! Magic horns, Topsies, Hook Noses and now _you_! Don't tell me a
little body like you can really open this great heavy door?"

    "_Pick up the hammer and doubt no more--
    Himself, the elf, will now open the door._"

In a daze Handy Mandy picked up the hammer and put it back in her
pocket, and Nox, thunderstruck by the whole proceeding thrust his head
through the waterfall just in time to see the knobby little gnome push
the door open with one thump of his brown fist. Quick as a flash Handy
was on the other side.

"Come on! Come on!" she called hoarsely to Nox. "Can't you see it's
closing? Oh mercy--ercy, do you want to leave me here all alone?"

"Yes!" snorted Nox in an exasperated voice, but jumping as he snorted.
"I'd like nothing better." As he came to 'better,' he landed on the
other side of the waterfall and skidded through the open door into the
mountain. He had just time to tuck in his tail, when the door with an
ominous creak slammed shut.

"_Now_, see what you've done!" gasped Nox, eyeing the gloomy interior
with distaste and foreboding. "I--thought--you--were going to be a help
to me and all--puff--splutter--you do is get me into trouble! What sort
of place is this anyway?"

"A c-c-ave," quavered Handy, wrapping all her arms tightly round
herself. "My--y, it's so high--igh, I can hardly see the top. Where's
that elf?"

"Gone!" sighed the Ox, taking a cautious step forward. "But I expect
he'll come back at the first tap of that hammer. All very puzzling if
you ask me."

"Well, shall I call him back?" asked Handy uneasily. "It's kinda lonely
in here and maybe Himself could tell us where we are."

"Better wait till we need him," advised the Ox. "After all, we know we
are in a cave, seems to be of silver rock, too. Just cast your eye at
those stalactites, m'lass."

"So that's what you call 'em," the Goat Girl glanced curiously up at
the silver icicles hanging in jagged points from the ceiling. "We have
caves on Mt. Mern, but nothing like this." She looked apprehensively
round the silent cavern, from which a perfect honeycomb of passageways
branched off in all directions. "A fine place to get lost, I'd call
it," she shivered, moving as close as she could to her companion. "What
makes this lavender light? I see no lamps."

"Jewels!" confided the Ox in a hushed voice. "See, there are hundreds
of amethysts embedded in those rocks, each glowing like--"

"An eye!" finished Handy nervously. "And all watching us, I dare say.
My--y, do you suppose anyone lives here? But they must--" Unwinding her
arms, Handy suddenly began snapping all thirty-five of her fingers.
"Nox, Nox!" she cried excitedly. "I've just thought of something!"

"Can't you think without shouting?" asked the Ox, flashing his eyes
suspiciously from left to right.

"No," said Handy triumphantly, "for this is something to shout about.
Look, old Toggins, if this is a silver cave, why wouldn't a Silver
Mountain be on top? All we have to do is open that door and start
climbing again."

"As I remember there was a sheer precipice back of the waterfall, how
could we climb that? No, no! The best thing for us to do is to travel
down one of the passageways and hope it will bring us out on the side
of the mountain itself."

"Yes, but which one?" demanded the Goat Girl. "There are about a
hundred it seems to me."

"Let's try that first one to the right," proposed the Ox judiciously.
Their voices echoed and reverberated back and forth so uncannily in the
big hollow cavern that almost without realizing it they began to talk
in whispers and tread as softly as thieves in the night. Half-way to
their destination they stopped, rigid with horror and consternation.
Thumping footsteps were coming toward them from the labyrinth on the
left.

"Someone does live here, after all," said the Goat Girl. "Someone who
weighs a ton. Hark to that!"

"Watch yourself!" warned Nox, planting all four feet and making ready
to charge if the cave dweller proved unfriendly.

"Oh, my aunt--a GIANT!" With a shrill scream Handy flung all her arms
round Nox's neck and buried her face in his shoulder. Poor Nox, nearly
strangled by the Goat Girl's embrace could neither move nor speak and
could scarcely breathe. With rolling eyes and quaking legs he watched
the monster approach. The Giant's body, almost ten times the size of a
grizzly bear, was encased in a tight purple uniform with bells instead
of buttons that jingled whenever he moved. He wore a huge silver
helmet, and his neck, almost a foot long, kept darting up and down as
he shot his head in this direction and that.

"Ho! THERE you are!" he roared, suddenly catching sight of the two
travellers trembling together in the center of the cavern. "How
dare you enter the cave of the King of the Silver Mountain without
invitation or permission?"

"Then this really IS the Silver Mountain!" marveled Handy, twisting her
apron nervously in her wooden fingers.

"Of course!" yelled the giant, thumping the floor with an enormous
silver club. "And I, Snorpus the Mighty, am Keeper of the Hidden
Door. I am OUTKEEPER for this whole mountain," he boasted truculently
expanding his chest and looking complacently down at the two midgets at
his feet. But something in his manner began to reassure the Goat Girl.

"I'll bet he's dumb as he's big," she confided hurriedly to Nox. Then
raising her voice and all of her arms, she called up loudly, "Then you
must indeed be strong and sturdy!"

"Oh, I AM!" bawled the Giant, twirling his silver moustache and fixing
Handy for a moment with his glittering eye. "Snorpus the Door Keeper
is strong as an OX!" There was something very peculiar about the eye
of the Giant. It seemed to revolve on a moving belt, peering out as it
passed through the four wide open lids set at intervals round the top
of his head, so that half the time he was looking the other way.

"Did you ever see an ox?" inquired Handy politely as the eye of Snorpus
again flashed by.

"No, but I'd like to," admitted the Giant, shooting his head out to the
side.

"Well, this is an ox," cried Handy, tapping the anxious beast at her
side with a rubber hand. "And if you are strong as an ox you are strong
as Nox and nothing much can stop you."

"How strong is he?" asked Snorpus, lowering himself stiffly to one knee
in order to get a look at what he had first supposed to be a small and
insignificant animal.

"So strong," explained the Goat Girl impressively, as she pointed with
all hands to the side of the cave, "that if he so much as bumped into
that wall yonder, this whole cavern would collapse like a pack of
cards."

"Then I hope he'll be very careful," faltered Snorpus, taking out a
huge silk handkerchief to mop his forehead. "It would annoy the King
frightfully if you destroyed his cavern, and I might even lose my head
and position here."

"Oh, he'll be careful," promised Handy Mandy generously. "He, being an
ox, and you being strong as an ox, makes us all friends, doesn't it?"

"I--I suppose so," muttered Snorpus, tapping his knee uncertainly with
his club. "But just the same, I am still the outkeeper and must do my
duty at all hazards. AT ALL HAZARDS!" he shouted, standing up to give
himself courage and puffing out his cheeks like a porpoise.

"But you have done your duty," bellowed Nox in a voice even louder than
the door keeper's. "If we were outside the mountain it would be your
plain duty to keep us there, but since we are already inside, you have
nothing more to do with us. Isn't that so?" Lowering his head, Nox made
a little lunge at the Giant's shins. And backing away, Snorpus gave the
pair several long puzzled looks.

"Well, then," he decided finally, "if I have nothing more to do with
you, you had best come along to the King."

"That is exactly what we wish to do," answered the Goat Girl promptly.

"My, you _are_ brave, aren't you?" The Giant's eye flashed for a moment
in real admiration upon Handy Mandy, then, picking up his club, he
began clumping away to the left.

"Now I wonder what he meant by that?" puffed Nox, for they both had to
run to even keep the Giant in sight.

"I don't know," gasped Handy, "but never mind what he means. We still
have your golden horn and the silver hammer and will manage somehow.
But imagine getting right inside the Silver Mountain and never knowing
it!"

"Yes, and we may go out the same way," predicted the Royal Ox gloomily,
following the Giant down the wide glittering corridor. "I never did
like these tunnely places or people."



CHAPTER 10

The King of the Silver Mountain


"I hear water," worried Handy as Snorpus suddenly vanished round a bend
in the corridor. "Oh, dear--ear, I do hope we won't have to go swimming
again."

"Then mind your manners!" warned the Royal Ox, giving his horns a
little shake. "Remember it is safer to keep on the right side of Kings
and Giants, and if we are to learn anything about Kerry we must be
extremely patient and polite."

A loud gasp interrupted Nox's speech, for Handy Mandy, well in the
lead, had also stepped round the bend. Hastening to catch up with her,
the Ox, too, gave an involuntary exclamation of wonder and astonishment.

The silver corridor had brought them into a second cavern, smaller than
the entrance cave, but so light and lacy, so bright and beautiful, for
once Handy Mandy stood perfectly speechless. The silver sides of the
dome-shaped grotto had been carved to show all the historical figures
and characters of ancient Oz. Wizards, giants, knights, witches,
huntsmen, robbers, kings, queens and their patient subjects marched in
a splendid procession round the walls. Sparkling lavender sand covered
the floor and a lake of shimmering quicksilver took up the entire
center, lapping the shore with its swift soundless waves. On a small
island of purest amethyst in the middle of this lake the King of the
Silver Mountain reclined at ease. His back was toward the newcomers and
he seemed lost in some deep and entirely satisfactory contemplation.

"A king, if I ever saw one," breathed Nox moistly in Handy's ear.
With a wordless nod the Goat Girl agreed, for in this long, indolent
yet majestic figure Handy felt she was seeing royalty for the first
time. The unusual height of the silver monarch was at once apparent
and his tight-fitting suit of deepest purple, without ornament save for
his jeweled belt and sword, set off his handsome figure to the best
advantage. His hair, of an astonishing thickness, was as silver as his
cavern. When he turned his head, as he presently did at a little cough
from Snorpus, Handy saw that his eyes were of a clear and piercing
violet. Quietly and without hurry, the Silver King rose and, picking
up his filigreed crown, set it firmly on his head. Then, retrieving a
long-stemmed pipe from a crevice in the rock, he established himself in
a seat carved from the amethyst and looked inquiringly across at his
visitors.

"So," he whistled, his eyes sparkling with lively interest as they
rested for a long moment on the Goat Girl. "Two very, VERY clever
travellers."

"Why do you say that?" blurted out Handy, and was instantly overcome at
her own boldness in speaking to so grand a person.

"The fact that you are here in this cavern proves you are clever,"
answered the King, leaning over to fill his pipe in the quicksilver
lake. "You have opened the door in the mountain that does not open;
passed the impassable guardian and keeper of that door--SNORPUS!!" The
King's pleasant voice changed so quick and cruelly, Handy almost lost
her balance. "What have you to say for yourself, you lazy Bozwokel?"
roared His Majesty, his eyes flashing flinty sparks of purple. "I'll
have you potted for this, potted and reduced to a smithering smith, do
you hear?"

Poor Snorpus, who could not have helped hearing the King's booming
sentence, dropped to his knees and began pleading, explaining and
blubbering all in the same breath. Even Nox, startled as he was, tried
to put in a good word for him. But the muttering monarch, paying no
attention to any of them, had lifted his silver pipe to his lips and an
enormous bubble was rising from the bowl. Handy, with chattering teeth,
watched the bubble grow larger and larger, float off the pipe and hover
over the unlucky head of the Giant. As Snorpus tried in vain to dodge,
the bubble broke with the sound like a doomsday bell, enveloping him
in a cloudy mist. When it cleared away, the Giant was indeed reduced,
coming now scarcely to Handy's shoulder.

"How about it, shall we run?" whispered the Goat Girl as the King began
to blow another bubble. "Boy, do I feel a draft!"

"But he's not mad at us!" answered the Ox, ducking nervously as the
second bubble soared over their heads. "Wait! Be patient, remember
the little King." As Nox finished speaking the bubble sailed off
and away down one of the silver corridors leading away from the
royal cavern. Presently they heard a bell ringing in the distance
as the bubble broke, and before you could say Pop Robinson seventy
silver-jacketed little bell boys came trotting into the cave.

"Take this poor failure to Nifflepok and see that he is potted,"
directed the King sternly, setting down his bubble pipe. "Have Timano
guard the mountain door and see that I am not disturbed. Important
matters have come up this morning, important matters!"

"Yes! Yes! Your Highness! It shall be done, Your Excellency!" mumbled
the bell boys, pushing poor Snorpus ahead of them.

"Watch yourselves! Watch yourselves!" warned the little Giant as he was
rudely hustled out of the royal presence.

"Now," smiled the Silver King, positively beaming upon his visitors,
"now we can proceed with our conversation. Sorry to trouble you with
this small matter, but discipline, as the old army officers will tell
you, discipline must be maintained."

"Humph!" sniffed Handy Mandy under her breath, looking with dislike
and disillusion at the royal figure on the rocks. "The Giant was right,
you're a fellow who'll bear watching." Fortunately her words did not
carry, and lazily glancing at them through his long purple lashes the
Silver King continued his speech.

"Since you have so easily entered my mountain," he observed blandly,
"I assume you have some powerful magic treasure or appliance in your
possession. Am I right?" At the sudden forward lurch of the Royal Ox
and Handy Mandy's surprised expression, the King gave a satisfied
little nod. "Fine!" he chuckled, rubbing his hands together briskly.
"And now, let us waste no more time. WHO sent you? WHAT have you to
offer? As you doubtless know, the Wizard of Wutz pays well for magic
treasures and formulas."

"Wizard!" choked Handy Mandy, carelessly clapping her iron hand to her
forehead and knocking herself over backward. "Wizard!" she repeated,
dazedly picking herself up. "But I thought you were a King?"

"I am both!" stated the owner of the cavern proudly. "I am King of the
Silver Mountain and also the Wizard of Wutz, second in importance only
to Glinda and the Wizard of Oz. And, ha! ha! it won't be long before I
am the ONLY wizard, the sole, supreme and only Wizard of Oz! Not long!
Not long!" Again the Silver King rubbed his hands exultantly together.
"I have my secret agents in every Kingdom in this country and even in
the Emerald City of Oz," he told them impressively. "I already have the
Record Book of Glinda, the Good Sorceress, and many more of the magic
treasures of Oz, and soon I will have them all--ALL! My agents are
clever and I have trained them well."

"But I thought magic was against the law!" cried Nox with an outraged
snort. "I understood no one was allowed to practice magic but Ozma,
Glinda and the Wizard of Oz!"

"Then why are you here?" demanded Wutz sternly. "YOU have been
practicing magic or you could not have entered this mountain. Come,
now, let us stop all this nonsense and get down to silver tacks and
business. What have you to offer? Who sent you--Three, Six, Nine, Five
or Eleven?"

As you can imagine, this was perfect jargon to Nox and the Goat Girl,
but Handy Mandy, convinced by this time that the Silver King was both
sly and dangerous, resolved to fall in with his little supposition and
see what would come of it.

"Nine sent us," she answered boldly, while Nox looked across at her in
perfect stupefaction.

"You don't say! I rather thought you came from the Munchkin Country,"
mused the Wizard. "Something in the way the Ox talked, though you,
yourself, are not a native Ozian?"

"No!" Handy said noncommittally, and rather pleased she had chosen
Nine, since this number had something to do with the Munchkins.

"Did Nine say anything about the silver hammer?" asked the King,
twinkling his eyes at the Goat Girl.

"He told us nothing," stated Handy quite truthfully, this time.

"That's Nine for you," fumed the King discontentedly. "He's the slowest
and most unsatisfactory agent I have. Two years searching for that
hammer and no report yet. I've a good notion to kick him out and put
little King Kerry back on the throne. A bargain's a bargain and I've
kept my part. Besides, I've got to have that hammer before I can make
myself supreme ruler in Oz. Why, it's the second most important magic
in the four Kingdoms!" At this surprising statement Handy pricked up
her ears.

"What did you say about Kerry?" panted Nox, almost stepping into the
quicksilver lake at mention of the little King.

"Nothing. I was talking about Nine," scowled the Wizard. "If that
fellow does not show some action soon, I'll--I'll--" The King clenched
his fists and looked so terribly angry that Handy was afraid he was
going to blow bubbles again. But instead he glared across the lake and
demanded impatiently, "Well, if you didn't bring the silver hammer,
what did you bring?"

"A magic flower," explained the Goat Girl hurriedly, and before Nox
could give away the fact that they did have the silver hammer. She
could guess from the expression in his eye that he was about to offer
the hammer in exchange for Kerry.

"A flower!" bawled Wutz, his face turning from red to purple. "My
caves are full of flowers, frosted silver lilies, long-stemmed sterling
roses, daisies and violets with jeweled centers. I can grow any kind of
flower I wish. How dare you take up my time with a flower! PAH! Go back
and tell Nine he had better look out--he's flirting with dismissal and
destruction."

"But this flower saves you from injury when you fall," stammered Handy,
heartily wishing she had never got herself into such a controversy.

"Fall!" sneered the Silver King, simply bounding off his throne. "I
NEVER fall!" and had hardly finished speaking before he caught his toe
on a jutting amethyst and pitched headlong to the rocks. Horrified, and
without waiting for the irate monarch to regain his feet, Handy and
Nox began to run toward one of the outgoing corridors, the Goat Girl
colliding as she ran with a plump little dignitary in a jeweled robe
and high hat.

"Your Highness! Your Highness!" puffed the little fat man, stopping
long enough to glare at Handy Mandy. "At last our efforts are to be
crowned with success! Five has but this moment arrived with--with--"

"With what?" demanded the King, springing lightly as a cat to his feet.
"With a jug," exulted the little fat man, tossing his high hat into
the air. "With a jug that was Rug and the magic picture of Queen Ozma
herself."

"Ah, SPLENDID!" beamed the monarch, who could turn his smiles and
rages on and off like electric lights. "That will be a lesson to those
Emerald City-ites!" Then suddenly remembering Handy and Nox and his
undignified fall, he shouted shrilly:

"Stop those imposters! Stop them, Nifflepok, and lock them up in the
prison pits till I have time to demolish them. Hah! We'll pot the Ox's
tongue, make soup of his tail, saddles and boots of his hide and use
his head for a hat rack. As for that seven-armed monstrosity, she shall
work in the polishing caves for the rest of her stupid life."

"I'll polish your nose first!" promised Handy, shaking all her fists at
the King.

"Better come quiet," warned Nifflepok, looking so worried Handy felt a
little sorry for him. "Wutz'll blow bubbles if you make him too mad,
and that'll be much worse than being locked up, you know."

"Oh, let's go with the Little High-Hat," groaned Nox, blinking his eyes
at Handy to remind her they still had his horns and the silver hammer.
"For my part, I'd like a little peace and quiet."

"Take 'em away! Take 'em away!" ordered the King, stamping up and down
his rocky island. "Send in Five! Send in Five at once!"

"Come along, then," said Nifflepok, being careful to keep out of the
way of Nox's horns. "Come, give me your hand, maiden. Not that one! Not
THAT one!" he howled dismally as the Goat Girl clasped his outstretched
fingers in her iron hand. "Let go! Let go!"

"Let's go! Let's go!" chuckled Handy Mandy mischievously. And squealing
with pain the little Minister hurried them down a long dim passageway.



CHAPTER 11

Down to the Prisoners' Pit!


"Oh! Oh! Give me another hand and I'll do my best to help you,"
sputtered Nifflepok, as Handy Mandy ruthlessly continued to squeeze his
fingers.

"We'll help ourselves, thank you," retorted the Goat Girl tartly.
Then relenting a little, she relaxed her hold, for she could not help
pitying Nifflepok and all the subjects of this cruel King. "Where are
these prison pits?" she asked impatiently, for she was anxious to be
alone with Nox. "If you are going to lock us up, do hurry along with
it."

"Yes, yes, absolutely yes!" moaned Nifflepok, glancing nervously
over his shoulder to be sure the white Ox was not going to tread on
his heels. "You'll be there in no time, no time at all," he assured
them earnestly. "Step over here, please." Moving a sliding door in
the wall of the corridor, the King's assistant waved them toward a
smooth wheelless silver carriage. It looked to Handy a lot like an
old-fashioned sleigh, and as there were seats in front and a space in
back large enough for the Ox, she let go Nifflepok's hand and quite
willingly climbed aboard. Nox, grunting a little, stepped over the side
and settled himself behind her.

"Well, goodbye," sniffed Nifflepok, rubbing his bruised fingers
tenderly. "You'll find everything you need below, not that you'll
be needing anything," he added mournfully as he pulled out a silver
switch. "Goodbye, I'm sorry for you!" he shouted as the car with a
lurch that almost loosened Handy's teeth shot down a sliding runway to
the deep pits of darkness below.

Now, you and I, who are used to scenic railways and have enjoyed the
thrills of chute the chutes for years, would have been less startled
by the wild dizzy leaps, the swoops, curves and climbs, and the
sickening drops of the Silver King's chariot. But neither the Goat Girl
nor the Royal Ox had ever heard of a scenic railway, much less ridden
in one, and the underground car of the Silver Monarch was more like
a chute the chutes than anything else. Sometimes the two travellers
were in complete darkness, at other times they whirled by the narrow,
well-lighted ledges of a queer cave city, where the subjects of the
Mountain King lived in cell-like apertures in the silver rock like the
cliff dwellers of old. Then without warning the car would plunge to
the work caverns below, past the gloomy shafts of the silver mines, or
dart up to the living quarters and grottos of the King himself, caves
so lavishly furnished and glowing with jewels, Handy let out little
shrieks of astonishment. In the King's subterranean gardens, silver
swallows bathed in the silver fountains, silver maples rustled their
lacy branches in the lavender-scented breezes, silver-petalled flowers
with jeweled centers grew as riotously as daisies and buttercups in the
upstairs world.

The mountaineers themselves, working listless with pick and shovel in
the mines, or walking soberly along the ledges beside their little
cliff dwellings, seemed undersized and unhappy to the Goat Girl. Not
that she caught more than a flying glimpse of them as the silver car
tore by. In fact, she was so frantically busy holding on to the front
rail of the car with all her various hands and catching her breath
after each dizzy swoop, that her mind was in a perfect whirl. The
groans and snorts of Nox were far from reassuring, but afraid to look
back lest she herself be flung out, Handy clung desperately to the rail
wondering when the wild ride would end and where under the mountain
the silver car was taking them. The last words of Nifflepok rang
unpleasantly in her ears and as they raced by a cave marked "Potters
Den" the Goat Girl positively shuddered. Here, set out in vast silver
pots and buried to their chins in the silver earth, were scores of the
King's pale-faced prisoners. A grim-looking gardener was watering them
from a milk can, and from the hungry way they lapped up the few drops
that fell to them, Handy concluded that this was probably their only
food.

"First I shot over a mountain, and now I'm shooting through one!"
moaned the distracted Goat Girl, trying to collect her spinning
thoughts and faculties. "Oh, my--y, we're going to pot for sure. Oh,
this time we are really done for!"

Then all at once Handy's good common sense began to assert itself. And
as their strange chariot with a sudden increase of speed and power
again dashed down into the darkness, she snatched the precious blue
flower from her pocket and at the exact moment the silver car turned
over and flung them into space, Handy began pulling the petals from the
flower and letting them drift down ahead of her own rapidly falling
body. It was just light enough for her to see Nox, with bristling
horns and quivering nostrils, fall past, when she herself started to
turn so many and such dizzy somersaults she lost all count of time and
distance.



CHAPTER 12

Prisoners of the Wizard


What seemed to be hours later, though in reality it was only a few
moments, the two luckless prisoners found themselves side by side on a
heap of soft blue flower petals. They were in a small circular pit with
one amethyst burning dimly in the grating that covered the top. The
Goat Girl had no recollection of her final landing and gazing up at the
grilled ceiling wondered dully how they had come through without being
cut to pieces.

"It tilted," wheezed the Royal Ox, answering the unspoken question in
Handy's eyes, "just tilted and slid us down. A fortunate thing you
kept that magic flower, m'lass. Ha--rumph!" Weakly and still trembling
in every limb, Nox tried to rise, but his legs gave way beneath him
and for a good fifteen minutes he and the Goat Girl rested on the
flower petals saying never a word. The tapping of footsteps in the
corridor brought Handy quickly to her feet and as Nox managed to heave
himself upright, the blue petals vanished, leaving only a tiny flower
on the floor. Handy had just time to stuff it into her pocket when
an invisible door in the side of the pit opened and twelve depressed
workmen in silver cloth caps and overalls stepped inside. They
carried brooms, mops and dust pans and stood staring in dismay at the
seven-armed Goat Girl and angry-looking Ox.

"We--we were sent to brush up!" stuttered the first workman, touching
his cap uneasily. "But--there--seems--"

"To be nothing to brush!" finished Handy sarcastically. "Sorry to
disappoint you. Now get OUT!" ordered the Goat Girl furiously, and
seizing buckets, brooms and mops from their nerveless fingers, Handy
pummeled them left and right with her seven hands.

"Get out and don't come back till Christmas," she panted, as the
workmen, tumbling over one another, clawed open the door and banged it
to behind them. The knob was on the other side of the pit and not even
the edges of the door were now visible.

"What a place!" groaned Handy Mandy, leaning dejectedly against the
side of their prison. "What a King! And he looked so nice!" grieved the
Goat Girl, sliding down to a sitting position and holding her head in
all of her hands.

"Never mind," said the Ox, settling on the floor beside her. "He hasn't
gotten the best of us yet. It was pretty clever of you to remember that
flower, but what I can't understand, is why you did not tell him at
once that we _did_ have this silver hammer he is so anxious to possess?
Then we could have traded the hammer for the release of Kerry."

"I don't trust him," answered the Goat Girl somberly. "Why I wouldn't
trust that Wizard as far as a goat can butt. Didn't you hear him say
the hammer was the second most important magic in Oz? Didn't you hear
him say he was stealing and planning to steal the best magic from all
the four Kingdoms to make himself supreme ruler of Oz? Well, now that
Five has brought him this jug-a-rug or whatever it is and Ozma's own
magic picture he's probably well on the way to realizing his ambitions.
But he's not going to get our silver hammer. I found it, and I'm going
to keep it, for it's far safer with me than with him. Do you suppose
we're going to help an old Bozzywog like that? What good would it do
to put Kerry back on his throne if Wutz is to be Ruler of Oz? He'd
probably pot all the Kings and keep everything for himself."

"Very probably," agreed Nox, wagging his head mournfully. "But what
are we to do? Are we an army to fight a mountain full of silver moles
and minions, are we magicians to risk our necks with this wizard?
Besides," Nox's face grew thin and anxious, "if Wutz has treated Kerry
the way he has treated us, the boy needs us right now and this very
minute."

"But didn't you hear him say he'd put Kerry back on the throne if Nine
did not soon find the hammer?" put in Handy patiently. "That proves the
little King is still here, and safe. Of course we must find him and get
him out of this miserable mountain, but we're not going to give Wutz
our hammer or any help at all, and he can put that in his silver pipe
and blow bubbles till he bursts," said Handy vindictively. "Now the
thing to do is to rest and eat, and then set ourselves to find the way
out of this pit and this mountain. Wutz and Nifflepok think we're all
swept away by this time. Besides, they'll be too busy talking with Five
to bother us. So first to eat and then to think!" proposed Handy in a
businesslike manner.

"Perhaps you're right," sighed the Ox, "but I'll not have an easy
moment till we're out of this magic mountain. That ride!" Nox lashed
his tail and rolled his eyes at the mere thought of their dash down the
underground railway. "Did you ever experience anything like it in your
life?"

"Well," grinned Handy, "it's one way of seeing the country, I suppose.
But let's not look back, old Toggins, let's look ahead. Remember we
still have the Dwarf of the Hammer on our side and when we are ready to
leave he'll surely show us the way."

"Not before I put a few gores in that Wizard's pants and plans,"
rumbled Nox belligerently. "I'll teach him to take liberties with the
Royal Ox of Keretaria."

"Hi--yigh! That's the old Oz spirit!" cheered Handy, reaching out
to touch his golden horn. "Horn, dear, just serve two dinners, and
no fooling." Unscrewing Nox's horn of plenty as she spoke, the Goat
Girl held it quietly in her wooden hand. And there was certainly no
fooling about the two splendid dinners the horn delivered in answer
to Handy's wish. Never had she eaten a more appetizing repast and half
of the prison pit was taken up by the fresh hay, fruit and grains
brought to satisfy the hunger of the Royal Ox. So, forgetting for a
time their awful danger and their disagreeable imprisonment, the two
adventurers refreshed themselves, and after the dishes and containers
had disappeared, settled down to evolve some plan to outwit the Wizard
of Wutz.



CHAPTER 13

In the Emerald City of Oz


Ten days before the Goat Girl left Mt. Mern, a weary and footsore
pilgrim arrived in the Emerald City. At least, he gave that impression
to all who saw him shuffling with his long staff and beggar's cup along
the shining streets of the capital. The man's head was clean shaven
and his small cap, coarse belted robe and sandals marked him as a monk
of some old and ancient order. He nodded gently to each person he
passed, and seemed, in spite of his many years and wrinkles, innocent
and harmless as a child. The splendor and magnificence of the capital
astonished and bewildered the old gentleman and in a sort of stupefied
disbelief he stared at the emerald studded streets and houses, and
gazed up at the lofty peaks and spires of the royal palace. And this
was not strange, for of all the fairy cities out of the world, the
Emerald City of Oz is the most dazzling and beautiful. But its citizens
are kindly and simple, for all that, and many stopped to drop emeralds
in the pilgrim's cup and ask him if there was anything else that he
needed. To all he mumbled in a strange and indistinguishable tongue and
seeing that he was bound for the palace, and sure that Ozma herself
would know best how to deal with him, the Emerald City-ites let him go
his way unmolested.

The afternoon was warm and pleasant, and Ozma and some of her favorites
were having a lazy game of croquet in the royal garden. The click of
the gold mallets as they tapped the gold balls presently attracted the
attention of the old wayfarer, who paused to peer curiously over the
hedge. The simple summer dresses of the girls in the garden seemed out
of all keeping with their majestic surroundings. Except for Ozma's
frock, which was longer, the emerald crown on her dark curls, and the
golden circlets worn by her three companions, they might have been any
four little girls playing croquet in a garden. But all around were the
unmistakable signs of rank and royalty. At ease under a lime tree stood
a tall soldier with green whiskers leaning on his gun. Three footmen
in satin uniforms stood stiffly beside an emerald topped tea table,
ready at a moment's notice to serve Ozade and frosted cake. On a gold
bench nearby, a straw stuffed scarecrow was quietly reading the paper,
and walking arm in arm down a little path talking composedly together
were an energetic little man with a bald head and a curious fellow who
seemed to be constructed entirely of copper. To all who are familiar
with the quaint and merry folk at Ozma's court, there would be nothing
odd about a live scarecrow or a mechanical man, and most of us would
have recognized Ozma's companions at once as Dorothy, Betsy and Trot,
three mortal girls who long ago came to live in the royal palace.

It was Dorothy who had discovered the Scarecrow on her first visit
to Oz, lifting him down from his pole and traveling in his gay and
carefree company all the way to the Emerald City. In those days the
Wizard of Oz had been ruler of the country, he himself having flown
in a balloon from Omaha. Astonished by the circus tricks of this
little fellow, the Ozians believing him to be a real wizard, made him
their sovereign, and under his wise rule and direction, built the now
famous City of Emeralds. The sight of Dorothy had made the humbug
wizard homesick, and after presenting the Scarecrow with a fine set of
brains, he flew off to America in a balloon of his own construction,
leaving the straw man to rule in his place. Afterward, when Ozma was
disenchanted and proved to be the rightful ruler of Oz, the Scarecrow
had cheerfully resigned. But he still spends most of his time in the
palace and is one of Ozma's most trusted friends and counselors. Later
the Wizard himself returned to Oz and this time took up the study of
magic with such zeal and earnestness he was soon famous from one end
of the country to the other. This made him exceedingly valuable to the
young fairy ruler, and he, like the Scarecrow, is an old and honored
member of Ozma's cabinet.

It was the Wizard who was now talking so earnestly to Tik Tok. The
Metal Man was another of Dorothy's discoveries. She met Tik Tok
on her second visit to Oz and brought him to the Emerald City for
safe keeping. Tik Tok, made by the firm of Smith and Tinker, is a
completely mechanical man and a loyal and dependable citizen when he is
properly wound up and oiled. Betsy and Trot, like Dorothy, arrived more
or less by wind, wave and accident in the Land of Oz. They liked it so
well and proved so gay and amusing, Ozma begged them to stay with her
and Dorothy in the green castle and help rule the many merry Kingdoms
that make up her wonderful empire. This they were only too happy to do,
so here they are, Princesses in their own right and living in the most
gorgeous City out of the world.

Besides the celebrities in the garden, there are numerous other
important people at Ozma's court. For instance, there is Herby, the
Medicine Man, whose chest is really a medicine chest full of pills,
cures and ointments. Then there is Scraps, a lively girl made from a
patchwork quilt by a wizard's wife, and brought to life by the wizard;
and there's Pigasus, a flying pig. There's a doubtful dromedary, a
cowardly lion, a hungry tiger, and Dorothy's little dog Toto; a glass
cat belonging to Scraps, a wooden saw horse belonging to Ozma, an Iffin
whom Jack Pumpkinhead discovered near the Land of Barons, and a dozen
more unique and unusual characters.

The old pilgrim seemed to find the group in the garden surprising
enough, for he watched them closely and silently for almost ten
minutes, cupping his hand behind his ear in an endeavor to catch what
the Wizard was saying.

"It is just as I have told you," the little Wizard was remarking
earnestly to Tik Tok. "The great record book of Glinda has vanished
from her castle without trace or reason and even with my powerful
searchlight and looking glasses I have been unable to discover any
signs of it. Word of the theft came yesterday by pigeon post."

"Some-one has sto-len it for no good pur-pose," answered the Metal
Man solemnly. But the old man leaning over the hedge heard none of
this, for the two were conversing in low and guarded tones. So after a
long puzzled look at the Scarecrow the pilgrim took up his staff and
shuffled along the gold pebbled path to the palace itself. A pompous
footman in gold and green came to answer his timid knock at the door.

"What name, please, what business, and why in the wood does a fellow
like you come begging at the door of a castle?" inquired the footman in
a loud displeased voice.

"There, there, Puffup," admonished a rosy-cheeked maid in a ribboned
cap and apron, peering around the wide shoulders of the footman. "Don't
be so shouting proud. You've frightened the old gentleman half out of
his wits. Can't you see he is tired and hungry and probably in need of
a lunch?" At the little maid's kind speech, the pilgrim bowed at least
a dozen times, nodding his head energetically to show that she was
perfectly right in her conjecture. "Come along with you," urged Jellia
Jamb, giving him a friendly wink.

Edging nervously past the muttering footman, the old beggar followed
Jellia into the castle's spacious and splendid dining hall. "Wait right
here and I'll bring you some cake and apple sauce, an omelette and a
pot of tea," promised the obliging girl. "How will that be?" Jellia
Jamb, who was Ozma's own personal maid and a privileged character
around the castle, grinned cheerfully at her ancient visitor, and
though the old monk pretended not to understand a word that she said,
he nevertheless seated himself at the table and with round eyes watched
her skip through the swinging door into the pantry.

No sooner had Jellia disappeared, than the old rascal sprang nimbly to
his feet and began to peer eagerly all around him. Passing hurriedly
over a rich gold service on the sideboard, he pounced upon an earthen
jug on a crystal stand and tucking it under his robe, slipped silently
as a shadow out of the dining hall, up the green carpeted stairs and
straight into the private sitting room of Ozma of Oz. Once there, and
without losing a moment, he walked to the west wall, took down a large
gold framed picture, blew upon it with a small glass tube, till it
was no larger than a cake of chocolate--and thrust it into an inner
pocket. Then, holding his robe high above his skinny shins and with
the jug clasped tightly in his arms, he galloped down the stairs and
out an open window into the garden, reaching a large clump of snowball
bushes without encountering anyone. Hiding himself well in the bushes,
he tore off the monk's robe, turned it inside out, dragged a white wig
from his sock and presently emerged as dignified and plausible an old
grandmother as any one would wish to see. The other side of his monk's
robe was green and made up in a style much affected by old ladies in
the capital, so that now he attracted no attention whatever. The jug in
a large string bag dangled carelessly from his wrist, and smiling and
nodding amiably he hurried through the garden, passed rapidly down one
street and another, through the high city gates, on and on, till he was
far out in the country walking faster and faster and less like a monk
or an old lady at every step.



CHAPTER 14

The Robbery Is Discovered!


"Prunes and peppermints!" ejaculated the Scarecrow, springing up from
his bench as Jellia Jamb, with streaming eyes and cap ribbons, came
flying across the garden.

"Peanuts and pretzels!" Dorothy, about to hit the pole and win the
game, dropped her mallet at Jellia's fire siren screeches, while Ozma
and the others swung round in amazement as the little waiting maid,
sobbing and panting, rushed into their midst.

"Oh, that beggar! Oh, that pilgrim! That old Monk, or whatever he was!"
wailed Jellia, wiping her eyes on the corner of her apron. "He's gone
and stolen the jug, I mean Rug, and Oz knows what will become of us!"

"There, there, my girl. Stop crying! Begin at the beginning and tell us
just what happened," begged the Scarecrow, patting Jellia clumsily on
the shoulder.

"But this is serious, very serious," muttered the Wizard, who had at
once realized the importance of the little maid's news. "If Ruggedo is
released from that jug and enchantment, he'll be up to his old tricks
in no time and doing anything in his power to hurt and destroy us."

"But who could have known we turned Ruggedo into a jug, or where the
jug was kept? And why would anyone steal an old earthenware pitcher
when there are so many other rare and beautiful objects in the palace?"
Ozma, looking anxious and troubled, seated herself on the bench beside
the Scarecrow.

"The same person who knew the value of Glinda's record book and stole
that," answered the Wizard gloomily. "Dark forces are at work in Oz, my
dear, dark forces. Just how did this rascal look, Jellia?"

"Like an old monk with a beggar's cup," said the little maid with a
sorrowful sniff. "He seemed so poor and hungry I went off to get him
something to eat and no sooner was my back turned than he grabbed the
jug and ran off--though he shuffled slowly enough when he came into the
palace."

"Disguised, of course," observed the Scarecrow, raising one eyebrow,
"and no more a monk than I am. But what was he monkeying round here
for? And what could he want with that jug, even if he knew it was the
old Gnome King? Really, you know, you shouldn't let perfect strangers
into the palace, Jellia."

"Just what I was telling her," wheezed Puffup, breathlessly adding
himself to the group on the lawn, "and I hopes this will be a lesson to
you, Miss."

"If we just knew where the old villain came from," worried the Wizard,
tapping his fingers absently on Tik Tok's copper arm.

"Or where he was going," finished Dorothy, pushing back her crown.

"Why not look in the ma-gic pic-ture?" proposed the Machine Man calmly.
"The pic-ture would show us where he is now."

"Of course it would!" Ozma rewarded Tik Tok with a bright smile, and
jumping up, the little Fairy hurried across the garden and into the
palace with the others just a few steps behind her. But when they
reached the small sitting room where the magic picture was hung, of
course it was not there, and now in real distress and consternation
they all sat down to discuss the mysterious forces working against them.

"I thought Ruggedo was the only enemy I had left," sighed Ozma, leaning
wearily back in her satin tufted arm chair. "I thought when we turned
the Gnome King to a jug, all our troubles would be over."

"Who-ev-er stole the jug knows that Rug-ge-do was once the pow-er-ful
me-tal mon-arch who tried a-gain and a-gain to con-quer Oz," rasped Tik
Tok in his slow and precise fashion.

"Right!" agreed the Wizard, striding up and down with his hands clasped
behind his back. "And whoever stole that jug and the magic picture
plans to disenchant the Gnome King and learn from him the best way to
destroy us. But that will be pretty difficult," asserted the little
Wizard, thrusting out his chin. "That transformation was one of the
best you ever made, my dear Ozma, one of the best. It will take a
pretty smart wizard to turn that jug back to Rug again."

"Whoever stole the jug and Ozma's magic picture WAS pretty smart,"
Betsy Bobbin reminded him seriously. "And without the picture how're we
going to find out who it is? Can't you do something, Wiz dear, or do we
just have to sit around and wait to be conquered?"

"I shall go to my laboratory at once," decided the Wizard importantly,
"and there by some magic means I'll try to discover who is at the
bottom of all this wretched plotting and thievery. Lock up the magic
treasures in your safe, Ozma, especially the Gnome King's magic belt,
and have them guarded day and night." Briskly the little Wizard rushed
out of the room, returning in a moment to repeat gloomily, "DAY and
NIGHT!"

"And I'll go and drill the army," declared the Scarecrow, stepping
recklessly out an open French window and falling flat, but undaunted,
in a flower bed below.

"And I'd better call Tige and the Cowardly Lion," said Dorothy, who had
always found the lion a splendid fighter in spite of his cowardice, and
the Hungry Tiger, ready at the drop of a handkerchief to protect his
royal patrons with tooth and claw. "They can sit right here beside the
safe and I'd just like to see anyone get by them!"

"Maybe it will be someone they cannot see," shivered Betsy, peering out
into the darkening garden.

"Oh, my, isn't it too exciting!" Trot, bouncing up and down on a small
sofa, leaned over to touch Ozma on the knee. "It reminds me of the time
Ugu the Shoemaker stole all the magic treasures in Oz. Remember?"

Ozma, looking at the space where her magic picture had hung, nodded her
head sorrowfully, saddened and sobered by the thought that she still
had dangerous and unscrupulous enemies in Oz.



CHAPTER 15

The Pilgrim Returns to the Mountain


Travelling northward by foot and as quickly as he could, Number Five
had come to the Silver King's Mountain just a few moments after Nox
and Handy Mandy. Now, dressed in the silver armor and helmet worn by
all the Wizard's M-Men, he waited in great agitation for the wizard to
appear. Nifflepok had at once taken Five to the den where Wutz carried
on all his magic experiments and kept his valuable treasures, and quite
sure none of the other agents had been as successful as he, Five paced
impatiently up and down, fancying himself already co-ruler with the
wizard in Oz.

"So, there you are at last!" Entering from an invisible door in the
back of his work shop, Wutz stared coldly at Five. "Well, what trash is
that you have stolen?" was asked, finally. The wizard always pretended
the discoveries of his agents were of little use and importance. And
when Five, completely taken aback and crestfallen, began to explain the
wonderful properties of the magic picture and the fact that the old jug
had once been the powerful King of the Gnomes, the Silver Monarch cut
him short. "Yes, yes, but just see what Seven has brought," he told him
gloatingly. "Seven, by a trick known only to himself, has stolen and
transported to our mountain the great record book of Glinda the Good
Sorceress!" Following the direction of the King's imperious finger,
Five gazed jealously at a huge volume chained with golden chains to its
marble stand. "In that book," went on the wizard quickly, "everything
that ever happened in Oz is recorded, not only everything that has
happened, but everything that is happening. You can see the entries
appearing at this very minute on the open page."

"I see, I see!" Five scarcely glanced at the record book. "But this
magic picture shows you any person you desire to look at. With this
picture and the help of the powerful Gnome King, now disguised as a
jug, we can soon make ourselves rulers of Oz. All we need to do is
release Ruggedo from his enchantment. I have been told by people in the
Emerald City that Ruggedo is familiar with all the magic secrets of
Ozma and the Wizard of Oz, and is, besides, a skilful magician himself.
Once we have disenchanted him, everything will be easy."

"We? We?" sneered Wutz, who secretly agreed with Five, but would not
give him the satisfaction of knowing it. "Well, put the picture there
on that stand so I can examine it. Show us this silly ruler of Oz who
sets herself above all other rulers," he ordered sharply. "Where is
she now and what is she doing?" Then, though the wizard and Five and
Nifflepok, who had come noiselessly into the workshop, gazed into the
canvas till their eyes stung and watered, not a single figure appeared
to enlighten them. "HAH! A hoax!" raged the Silver King, rushing at
Five and shaking him till his armor rattled. "How dare you fool me in
this dangerous manner?"

"But it's not a hoax," screamed Five as soon as he could speak. "It
worked perfectly well in the castle."

"Perhaps it was hurt when you reduced it to carry it here," put in
Nifflepok nervously. He was always trying to keep peace between the
cruel King and his subjects. "Perhaps it only obeys the commands of
Ozma, its rightful owner. And remember, you still have the jug and
the magic record book. The record book might even explain about the
picture," he suggested hopefully. "I thought so, it says here: 'The
magic picture and Rug, the jug, have been stolen from the castle of
Ozma of Oz by an agent of the Silver King.'"

"There!" exclaimed Five, brushing himself off indignantly. "I told you
it was the one and only picture."

"Yes, but what good is it to me if it doesn't work?" scoffed the
wizard. "I'll not have you potted this time, Five, but next time don't
bring me damaged goods and old jugs, bring something of real value." As
Five, red faced and furious, jerked himself out of the King's presence,
Wutz turned joyfully to Nifflepok. "Getting on, old Tubbykins, we're
getting on! Without that magic picture Ozma will not be able to trace
her stolen property, and without the record book, Glinda will not
be able to help her. So who's to stop us from stealing everything?
Everything!" exulted Wutz, picking up the earthen jug and waving it
over his head.

"But do you think it wise to treat our agents so shabbily?" sighed
Nifflepok. "They might betray us, you know."

"Oh, no, they won't," sniffed the wizard, grinning broadly at his
anxious little assistant. "The way I treat them is perfectly all right,
keeps them on their toes, and with each trying to outdo the other we
get the best results."

"Well, I hope you're right," Nifflepok still looked unconvinced. "But I
cannot help thinking--"

"Out of your line, Niffy; just leave the thinking to me. Now fetch me
my magic blower, there's a good fellow, till I see what can be done
with this jug. It may take some time and doing to release this ugly
little gnome. By the way, did you pulverize those meddling Munchkins?"

"Oh, yes!" Nifflepok nodded his head with a little shudder of distaste.
"I shot them down into the prisoner's pit just as your Majesty
commanded."

"That's strange." The wizard in crossing the den to fetch a glass test
tube had paused for a moment beside the book of records. "It says
here, 'The Goat Girl from Mern and the Royal Ox are in the Silver
King's Mountain planning to release the little King of Keretaria.' So
that's what brought them here?" mused the wizard softly. "Now, then,
Nifflepok, something must have slipped up instead of down. If your
prisoners were powdered or pulverized, how could they be planning and
plotting?"

"They must have some powerful magic to help them," muttered Nifflepok,
"or how could they have survived that fall?"

"Better find out, my dear fellow. Go spy on those Munchkins, and
if their magic is important or worth while, come back and tell me.
And in the future be more careful how you carry out my orders and
instructions!" The wizard's voice was still low and pleasant, but his
eyes flashed so threateningly, Nifflepok rushed out of the royal work
den, flung himself in the silver car and went speeding down to the
prison pits at the bottom of the mountain.



CHAPTER 16

The Wizard's Bargain!


While Nifflepok had been interviewing Five, Handy and Nox had been
having a troublesome conference of their own. Each plan they devised
for finding the little King and escaping from the Silver King's
Mountain proved impractical. To summon the hammer elf to release them
from the prison pit would probably rouse the underground guards and
minions of the wizard, and give Wutz himself an opportunity to steal
the hammer. To tap the hammer lightly and ask the advice of Himself
had next seemed a good idea, but as Nox quickly pointed out, that, too,
was dangerous.

"In a wizard's den like this, anything can happen," groaned the Ox,
looking around with a gloomy eye. "How do we know we are not being
watched at this very moment? If you so much as show that hammer,
somebody may pounce in here and snatch it away, which will leave us
with nothing to protect ourselves with in a last emergency--except that
blue flower, my horns and your hands."

Handy did not like the sound of "last emergency," but even Handy
realized they would not escape from the mountain without some sort
of battle. To the free and sun-loving mountain girl every minute
underground was sheer torture. She longed for a breath of the pure
upper air, and the unreal light and pale faces of Wutz's underground
citizens and workers filled her with pity and loathing. "Of course, no
matter how long they leave us here, your horn of plenty will keep us
from starving, but if we don't soon find some way out, I believe I'll
explode!" she choked in a desperate voice.

"Let's look at the message in that silver ball again," suggested Nox
unexpectedly. "Are you sure you read it all, m'lass? There might have
been directions on the other side."

"I don't think so," said Handy, shaking her head. Then, because action
of any sort was a relief, she deftly twisted off Nox's left horn and
tilted the silver balls into one of her always handy palms. The first
ball when she opened it contained nothing further than the silver key.
In the center of the second lay the same folded paper, but this time
when Handy unfolded the paper there was a new message inside.

"Wait!" cautioned the little slip of paper in small blue letters. "Do
nothing until the wizard appears."

"Oh," breathed the Royal Ox, touching the paper gently with his nose.
"Someone is helping us."

"Then I'd better keep this silver ball in my pocket," decided the
Goat Girl, "where I can easily get it. In a tight corner I might not
have a chance to unscrew your horn. Dear--ear, how puzzling it all
grows! So we're to hear from the wizard again. Whist! What was that?"
As Handy, with her wooden hand, slipped the first ball back into the
horn, with her leather hand screwed the horn back on Nox's head and
with one of her best white hands stuffed the second ball and message
into her pocket, they heard agitated footsteps pattering along the
outside corridor. After a tense moment, however, they died away, and
exchanging a relieved glance, Nox and Handy settled down to wait for
the wizard.

The footsteps, as you have already guessed, belonged to Nifflepok.
Peering in at them through an invisible window, the King's messenger
had been just in time to see Handy shaking the silver balls from the
golden horn. Without waiting to see what use they would make of this
curious magic, Nifflepok rushed back to inform his master.

"They are wizards!" he panted, bursting unceremoniously into the Silver
King's den. "The magic is in the ox's horn. With my own eyes I saw the
seven-armed maiden shaking silver balls from his horn."

"What do _I_ care about silver balls?" snarled Wutz, who was in a
terrible temper. "If I had them here I'd bounce you over the head
with them." The den was full of sulphurous smoke, but the earthenware
jug still stood unchanged on the table before him. "The magic in the
Emerald City is still better than mine," hissed the Silver Monarch, his
voice quivering with anger and disappointment. "I've tried every single
formula in my book of incantations, every straight and crooked pass in
the magician's manual, every powder and potion on my shelves, and this
ugly jug is still a jug and nothing but a jug! What are we going to
do?" he yelled furiously. "Think of something, you noddle-headed pig! I
must have the help of this little Gnome King, but how'm I going to get
him out of the jug?"

"Perhaps, with a little more time," faltered Nifflepok, twisting his
high hat nervously in his hands.

"Time! TIME!" exploded the wizard. "When did time ever break an
enchantment?" Snatching up a pair of silver pliers he flung them
wrathfully at his assistant. Nifflepok, fortunately for his head,
caught the dangerous missile in his hat, and darting behind a tall
cabinet, looked pleadingly out at his unreasonable Master. "Wait!
Wait!" he begged earnestly as Wutz with a menacing frown took up his
silver bubble pipe. "I HAVE thought of something. Make these Munchkins
break the Gnome King's enchantment. They have passed all the hazards
of our mountain unharmed. Undoubtedly the girl is a sorceress and the
Ox a powerful magician in disguise. Let them do this trifling service
for your Majesty in return for the useless captive we are holding for
Number Nine."

"Hm--mmmm!" Deliberately the Silver Monarch put down his pipe. "That's
not a bad idea, Niffle, not a bad idea at all." Picking up the jug,
Wutz brushed rudely by his trembling little Minister and hurried out
of his workshop. A few minutes later, he stood bowing and smiling
before the two travelers in the prisoner's pit. But warned by the
message in the silver ball, his entrance through the invisible door
neither frightened nor impressed Handy Mandy or the Royal Ox.

"So here you are at last," exclaimed the Goat Girl, looking the Silver
Monarch sternly in the eye. "And about time, too. How dare you imprison
us in this miserable pit for no reason at all?"

"Oh, yes, there is a reason," stated Wutz a little surprised at Handy's
defiance. "You broke into my mountain without invitation or permission
and as you are nothing but a pair of trespassers, you certainly
deserve imprisonment and even destruction."

"Nonsense," snorted the Royal Ox, lurching forward heavily. "We came
here seeking a lost boy whom you are unlawfully holding captive. As
soon as you release the little King of Keretaria, we will take him and
leave this mountain!"

"And the sooner you tell us where he is, the better!" added Handy,
snapping her thirty-five fingers under the Silver King's nose.

"Ah, you think so?" sneered Wutz. "Well, nothing is ever given for
nothing in this mountain, but I may give you a chance to earn the boy's
release. Here in my hand is a jug, an ordinary enough looking jug. With
the magic you have in your possession, you must transform this jug to
its proper shape. If you succeed, you and the Ox and the Boy King of
Keretaria may leave my mountain unharmed. If you fail, ha ha!" The
heartless wizard threw back his head and laughed uproariously. "If you
fail, the walls of this pit will contract until you are--well, shall
we say--obliterated? To keep your part of the bargain and perform this
slight service I will give you _one half_ hour. Here is the jug, and in
case you fail, GOOD-BYE!"

"Good Gillikins!" whistled Nox, as the wizard strode through the
invisible door and left them alone. "What does that fool think we are,
wizards--magicians--necromancers?" Groaning and snorting, he began to
gallop round and round the hot little pit.

"Look out! Look out! You'll break the jug," warned Handy, snatching it
up in her arms. "And for goat's sake stop that galloping! I'm dizzy
enough as it is."

"But you heard what he said?" lowed the Ox, coming to a trembling stop
beside her. "What are we to do? We know nothing of magic or magic
transformations!" In their distress and excitement, they both forgot
there might be a message to help them in the silver ball, and Handy,
taking the jug in one of her white hands, surveyed it with horror and
curiosity.

"It's so old and ugly now," said the Goat Girl slowly, "I'll bet it
was something old and ugly to begin with. Didn't Nifflepok mention
something about a jug that was a rug? Maybe it's a rug, though more
likely a rogue. Say, I wonder if I broke the jug whether that would not
break the enchantment?"

"Oh, no, no, no! Don't do that!" begged Nox, rolling his eyes in
terror. "If you break the jug, the wizard will be furious, and how do
you know what will break the spell? Here, let me look at it." Passing
the jug rapidly from one hand to another, Handy started to place it
on the floor under Nox's nose with her seventh and last hand, when a
sudden and unexpected scream from the interior, made her drop it with a
loud crash to the silver stones.

"Ouch! Oh, stop! How dare you bang me around in this hateful manner?"
Up from the flying fragments of earthenware at Handy's feet sprang a
fierce little gnome with a long ragged beard, shaking his fists and
howling like a child.

"Oh, my--y! I've actually done it!" quavered the Goat Girl, falling
over against Nox. "Look! Look! Didn't I tell you it would be old and
ugly?" The gnome, at Handy's words suddenly stopped howling.

"Where am I? Where am I? WHO am I?" he mumbled in a frightened voice.

"Well, I don't know who you are, but I'm afraid you're in a pretty
bad place," said Handy, straightening up to have a better look at her
handiwork. "You're in the underground caverns of the King of the Silver
Mountain, if you must know."

"Caverns!" beamed the gnome, his face breaking into a wide smile.
"What's the matter with caverns? I LOVE caverns, why I used to live in
one myself. And who did you say I was?"

"We don't know who you are," explained Nox, in a cautious voice. "A
moment ago and before Handy took you in hand, you were nothing but a
jug."

"A jug?" pondered the gnome pulling his beard thoughtfully. "You mean
to say I was a JUG?"

"Maybe 'Was-a-jug's' your name," volunteered the Goat Girl, now quite
interested in her transformation.

"No, not 'Was-a-jug' but something like a jug. Let me think--Bug,
hug, chug, mug, pug, rug-RUG? That's it, THAT'S my name, _Ruggedo_!"
shrieked the little gnome joyfully, "and now I know who I am!"

"Well, who are you?" inquired the Ox, stretching his royal nose down
toward the whirling gnome.

"I, why, _I_ am the most important King on the other side of the
desert!" shouted Ruggedo exultantly. "I am the one and only Metal
Monarch and Ruler of all the Gnomes! My caves and caverns under the
mountains of Ev sparkle with jewels and precious stones, mined by my
faithful workers, and my grand army of gnomes outnumbers any army in
OZ." Proudly the ragged little King thumped himself upon the chest.

"Oh, my! Oh, me! Oh, mercy--ercy! If you're as powerful as all that,
maybe you'll help us!" cried the Goat Girl, clasping her hands eagerly.

"Help you? Why should I help you?" The little Gnome stared scornfully
at the two occupants of the cave.

"Because she broke your jug and enchantment, you ungrateful little
wretch!" snorted Nox, lowering his horns. "And you don't look like
a king to me, you just look like a plain ordinary wicked little
ragamuffin, a RUGAMUFFIN!" he bellowed angrily.



CHAPTER 17

Out of the Prison Pit


Nox's angry words had a strange effect on the boastful Gnome King.
Leaning dejectedly against the side of the pit, he drew his hand
wearily across his forehead.

"I remember now," he told them hoarsely. "I once was the Powerful Metal
Monarch, but that was before I fell into the hands of Ozma and that
wicked Wizard of Oz."

"So it was Ozma who turned you to a jug!" exclaimed Handy with all her
hands on her hips.

"Yes, and before that she deprived me of my Kingdom, ducked me in a
Truth Pond, marooned me for years on a desert island, struck me dumb,
and then, when she could think of nothing worse, turned me to this
jug!" screamed Ruggedo, kicking at the fragments of broken china at his
feet.

"You and Ozma have been enemies for a long time, then?" observed the
Ox, looking at the Gnome with great disfavor.

"Yes, yes, ever since that girl Dorothy stole my magic belt and gave
it to Ozma," raged Ruggedo, stamping furiously up and down. "And every
time I try to recover my own property, or capture those wretched girls
and the Emerald City, something goes wrong and they conquer ME! The
last time Ozma turned me to a jug!" cried Ruggedo, his voice rising to
a shrill whistle.

"Well, what did you expect?" inquired Handy Mandy sharply. "That Ozma
would sit calmly on her throne and allow you to conquer her? My--y such
goings on!"

"Oh, then you are friends of Ozma?" said the Gnome King suspiciously.
"But no, you could not be her friends or you would not have broken the
jug. Who ARE you? The Ox is usual enough, except for his golden horns,
but you"--Ruggedo's eyes grew round and anxious as he looked at the
seven-armed Goat Girl, "_YOU_ are odd, aren't you?"

"No, she's not odd!" snapped the Royal Ox severely. He had been through
so much with the sturdy mountain lass, he felt almost as if they were
related. "Handy is just seven times as smart and seven times as handy
as most people, that's all. And since her seven hands have served you
pretty well, try to keep a civil tongue in your head, will you?"

"Oh, all right!" Ruggedo scuffing his foot, looked sulkily from one to
the other. "Much obliged, I'm sure. But what in rockets are we doing
in this miserable hole and what are we waiting for?"

"For a fellow Metal Monarch and Wizard," answered a smooth voice, and
appearing as quietly as he had vanished, Wutz stood calmly before them.
"Come with me, Ruggedo, I have surprising news for you, comrade!" And
without so much as a nod or "thank you" to Nox and Handy Mandy, he
linked his arm through the Gnome's and drew him through the invisible
door, slamming it viciously behind him.

"Hi--yi!" yelled Handy Mandy indignantly. "Come back here! Come back
here! A bargain's a bargain, you old cheat and villain! We've kept our
part and you shall keep yours! Where have you hidden the little King of
Keretaria? Let us out! Let us out, you false faced rascal!"

Nox, as angry as Handy, charged forward, butting his head against the
exact spot where the wizard had disappeared. To his astonishment and
joy the whole section of wall swung outward and he and the Goat Girl,
rushing through, found themselves in a narrow dimly lit silver tunnel.

"To think, to think we could have got out any time!" gulped the Royal
Ox in a vexed voice. "The door was invisible but not locked. Imagine
that, m'lass!"

"Oh, I've other things to do," puffed Handy, peering down the long
passageway to see whether she could catch a glimpse of the two Kings.
"No use trying to imagine anything about this mountain, it's just plain
bewitched and goblinish. But that wizard made us a promise and I'm
going to see that he keeps it. Come on!"

"No! No!" said the Royal Ox, leaning weakly against the side of the
tunnel. "I couldn't bear to look at him again, at least, not just yet.
Wait! I may think of something else! WAIT!" bellowed Nox, as Handy, in
spite of his pleas, started off on a run. "There now, you've dropped
something out of your pocket."

"That silver ball," muttered Handy, scooping it up without slackening
her pace.

"The ball! The _BALL_?" exclaimed Nox, galloping breathlessly to catch
up with her. "Oh, what muddle heads, _WHAT_ muddle heads! It told us to
wait for the wizard. Quick, see what it says now?"

"Well, a lot of good it did waiting for that wizard," grumbled the Goat
Girl; but nevertheless, she stopped and opened the silver ball. Taking
out the folded paper, she held it up toward an amethyst gleaming dully
in the side of the tunnel.

    "Follow me."

directed the paper rather mysteriously.

"But who does 'me' mean?" asked Handy, as Nox, still breathing heavily,
read the message over her shoulder. "I don't see any me, do you? Beans
and butternuts! If you hadn't stopped me I'd have caught those villains
by this time!"

"And what good would that have done?" sniffed the Ox impatiently.
"Remember there are two of them now, and that little gnome is worse
than Wutz and twice as dangerous." Closing his eyes in an effort to
concentrate, Nox repeated over the message, "Follow me! Follow me!
Follow ME! Why of course, it's as plain as oats!" he snorted joyfully.
"'Me' means that ball. Put the message back in the ball, set the ball
down and then see what happens." And what happened, was amazing enough,
for the silver ball, once it was on the floor of the tunnel began to
roll rapidly along ahead of them, faster and faster and faster, till
Handy and Nox had all they could do to keep it in sight.

"Where do you suppose it's taking us?" gasped the Goat Girl, thankful
that so far the tunnel had been more or less straight and fairly well
lighted.

"To Kerry," said the Royal Ox positively. "Now watch that turn, m'lass.
What's ahead? It's growing so dark I can't even see my own shadow!"

"It's a flight of steps," whispered Handy, gazing fearfully into the
deep well of a circular stairway winding down into the darkness. They
could hear the chink of the silver ball as it rolled from step to
step, so, taking her courage in all hands, the Goat Girl, herself,
began to descend. Nox, grunting and muttering lugubriously, came just
behind her. Steps were difficult enough for the Ox at any time, but
negotiating a flight of circular steps in pitch darkness was terrifying
and dangerous in the extreme.

"Be careful!" warned Handy, looking up anxiously. "Don't slip, or
you'll break my heart."

"More than that, I'm afraid," quavered the Royal Ox, setting his front
feet cautiously on the step below while he balanced his hind quarters
perilously on the one above.



CHAPTER 18

Wutz and the Gnome King Leave for the Capital!


Meanwhile, Wutz and Ruggedo had shot up in the wizard's silver car and
were now in earnest conversation together.

"How in suds did that girl break your enchantment?" asked Wutz,
dropping irritably to his silver workbench. "I was watching her every
minute through an invisible window and I didn't see her do a thing but
break the jug. Now why couldn't I have thought of that?"

"Oh, what does it matter?" Ruggedo settled himself with a joyful little
wriggle beside the Silver Monarch. "What does it matter so long as I am
free and able to help you? So you really think you can make yourself
Ruler of Oz?" he went on, glancing enviously round the wizard's well
stocked den, with its tables full of magic apparatus and its shelves
and shelves of dusty volumes of wizard and witch works. Wutz had
confided his plans and intentions to Ruggedo on the ride up. "Say!"
exclaimed the Gnome King suddenly, "How did you get Glinda's record
book? That's the most important treasure in her castle!"

"Of course!" Lazily the wizard reached for his silver pipe. "Well, it's
a long story, Rug, but I don't mind telling you that I have agents
working in every Kingdom of the country. Seven, who was assigned to the
Quadling Country, brought in the record book, smallifying it in order
to steal and carry it here, and restoring it to proper size when it
arrived. Six and Eleven have brought me useful magic from the Winkies
and Gillikins, but Five managed to steal Ozma's own magic picture, and
ha ha! since he couldn't find the Gnome King's belt, he brought me the
Gnome King himself! Pretty clever of him to discover you were a jug,
eh?"

"Re-markable!" sighed Ruggedo, as Wutz paused to blow a silver bubble
which floated out of the work den, breaking somewhere outside with a
tinkling bell-like explosion.

"Two glasses of melted silver," snapped the wizard to a smart looking
bell boy who came in answer to this singular summons. "Now," continued
Wutz, looking at the Gnome King through half closed eyes, "before I
attempt to capture the Emerald City, I must have one of two things;
either the silver hammer belonging to a witch of the West or the magic
belt that once belonged to you. So far, none of my agents has been able
to find the witch, locate the hammer, or discover where Ozma now keeps
your magic belt. But you, its rightful owner, must know exactly where
it is hidden?"

Ruggedo, without saying anything, nodded briefly.

"Well then," said Wutz, "if you will help me steal the magic belt,
which I understand is the most potent and powerful magic in Ev or Oz, I
will kick Kaliko off your throne, restore your own Kingdom and give you
besides any one of the four Oz Kingdoms you may fancy."

"Oh, don't bother me with any of the Oz Kingdoms. I'm sick of the
place!" frowned the Gnome, wagging his beard vindictively. "All I
want is my own old Kingdom and my own magic belt! But I tell you what
I will do. I'll help you steal this belt, for I know exactly where it
is hidden, show you how it works so you can transform Ozma and all her
friends and counselors to rocks and rubble. BUT, when you are safely
established as supreme Wizard of Oz, you must return the belt to me."

"Oh, naturally!" promised the wizard, chuckling to himself as he
thought how quickly he would turn Ruggedo to a rock once he was wearing
the famous belt. Taking a glass of melted silver from the tray the boy
had just set down, Wutz lifted it to his lips, and Ruggedo, his eyes
glittering with all their old spitefulness, raised his own glass to
drink to the wicked bargain.

"Come," he sputtered, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand. "When
do we start? What magic have you to carry us to the capital and open
the emerald safe where the magic belt and other important treasures
of Ozma are hidden? But wait, perhaps we had better look in the magic
picture and see where Ozma and the Wizard of Oz are now?"

"I am afraid we cannot do that," Wutz explained regretfully. "Seven
spoiled the canvas in some way when he reduced it to carry it here.
It doesn't show anything now and I've not had time to repair the
damage."

"Pshaw, that's too bad," said Ruggedo, going over to touch the picture,
now hanging on the wizard's wall. "But the record book's still working,
I suppose?"

"Oh, yes," said the wizard, stepping up to the marble table and
glancing down at the open page. "And listen to this. It says," roared
the Silver King, holding his sides and simply rocking with wicked
merriment, "it says: 'The two metal monarchs are plotting the downfall
of the present ruler of Oz.'"

"What else does it say?" inquired the Gnome King, who had had more
experience than his companion in dealing with the magicians of the
Emerald City.

"It says, 'Ozma and her counselors have gone to the castle of Glinda
the Good,'" Wutz told him complacently closing and padlocking the big
volume.

"Then we'd better start at once and before they return," declared
Ruggedo. "For as soon as we have my belt we can change them to rocks,
wherever they are. The most important thing is to get that belt before
they know we are after it. But how are we going to get to the Emerald
City and how're we going to open that safe?"

"My silver blowpipe will reduce the safe to a heap of ashes without
injuring the contents," answered the wizard, "and reaching the capital
will be the simplest part of all!"

Taking a silver tube from a high shelf, Wutz put it in his pocket and
reaching for his bubble pipe, he began to blow an enormous quicksilver
bubble round himself and the Gnome King. Slowly and with both Kings
inside, the bubble rose, passed in a silver mist out of the wizard's
den, up through the honeycomb of caves, caverns and grottos, on up--and
up, till it floated right out of the top of the Silver King's Mountain.



CHAPTER 19

At the Bottom of the Mountain!


At the same moment the silver bubble carrying Wutz and Ruggedo burst
out of the top of the mountain, Handy Mandy and Nox reached the bottom,
arriving at last at the end of the winding stair. One amethyst burned
dimly on the small landing, and crowded uncomfortably together the two
prisoners found themselves facing a heavily barred door.

    Private Lower of the Wizard of Wutz.
                 Keep Out!

announced a surly sign. But Handy and Nox, their legs still quivering
from the long downward climb, were in no humor to be stopped by a sign.

"Lower!" sniffed Handy Mandy disgustedly. "I should think it was, we
must be at the very bottom of this miserable mountain. Lower--indeed!
Well, I expect a lower is the opposite of a tower, come on!" Picking up
the silver ball, Handy squinted sharply at the door, giving it a quick
shove to see whether it was locked or fitted with an invisible moving
panel. But there was nothing remarkable about this door, and nothing
on it except a very small silver keyhole, which at once recalled to
the Goat Girl the key she had been carrying around ever since she left
Keretaria.

"Oh, Nox, I believe the key in your horn will fit!" she cried
excitedly, and deftly removing the left prong of Nox's headgear she
shook out the ball. Then, while Nox fairly panting with impatience
looked on, Handy took the key from the ball and inserted it in the
silver lock. When it turned easily and smoothly she was almost afraid
to open the door. What would they find on the other side? What had the
wizard done to his helpless young captive? As Handy hesitated, Nox
rushed forward, banging the door open with his great shoulder.

"Kerry! Kerry!" wailed the faithful Ox, and falling to his knees,
Nox began to snort and blubber in real earnest. Handy, hurrying
after him into the small stuffy cell, saw a handsome boy in hunting
costume standing motionless and silent as a statue in the center of
a great shimmering violet bubble. Without thinking or reasoning, or
even stopping to consult the Ox, the Goat Girl flung out all her arms
toward the solitary figure, her iron hand puncturing the bubble with a
deafening pop.

"Why, hello Nox!" The Little King stepped calmly out of the misty
vapor, all that was left of the wizard's bubble. "Where's your other
horn? And who is this jolly looking girl?"

WHO, indeed? There was so much to be told and explained, even with
Handy and Nox talking as fast as they could and taking turns, it took
almost an hour to tell the story of their journey from Keretaria to the
Silver Mountain and their awful experiences with the Wizard of Wutz.

Kerry himself remembered nothing since he had started out on the
hunting expedition. He listened with angry exclamations and bounces
as Nox related the tale of King Kerr's treachery and the sad state of
affairs in Keretaria. "And I've been shut up in this bubble for two
years!" mourned the little King, looking round the dismal cell with a
shudder. "Why it makes my head ache just to think of it!"

"Mine, too," agreed Handy, clapping Nox's left horn in place. "But
it's almost over now, my lad. If we can just find some way out of this
mountain, I'll settle old King Kerr and his High Boys, not to speak of
this woozling wizard!"

Placing Kerry on Nox's back, Handy looked nervously out the door of
the Lower. At sight of the winding stair Nox gave a great groan and
shudder. "I'll never climb those steps again!" he declared, planting
his feet stubbornly. "Never! Where's that silver hammer, m'lass? Give
it a tap and see what the dwarf can do for us? Wutz and Ruggedo are too
busy with their wicked plans to bother us now."

"I wouldn't be too sure of that," muttered the Goat Girl. Nevertheless,
she pulled out the hammer and tapped it lightly on the floor.

"Well, what's wanted?" yawned Himself, appearing instantly and in the
exact spot the hammer had struck.

"We want to get out of here!" cried Kerry, so excited and delighted
with the purple bearded dwarf, he instantly forgot all his troubles.
With a crooked smile at the little King, Himself looked questioningly
at Handy, and at the Goat Girl's quick nod, rapped his knuckles on
the north wall of the Lower. At once, a small panel slipped aside,
revealing an elevator, its door invitingly open. Waving all her hands
to thank Himself, who was already beginning to disappear, Handy stepped
inside. Nox, with Kerry still perched on his back, just managed to
squeeze in, when the door snapped shut and the elevator sped upward
carrying its three passengers in double quicksilver time to the work
den of the wizard. Handy, a bit disappointed not to find herself on
top of the mountain, stepped out first. As Nox, with an awkward jump,
followed her, the door slammed sharply and the elevator dropped like a
plummet to the bottom of the mountain.

"Oh, this must be where Wutz works all his magic transformations,"
breathed Kerry, sliding off Nox's back and gazing around with deep
interest and curiosity. "I'll bet he blew a bubble round me right in
this very den. Wonder where he is now?" There was a slight cough at
Kerry's question and turning, they saw Nifflepok standing uncertainly
in the doorway.

"Ah, so we meet again!" cried Handy, doubling up all her fists and
walking grimly toward the Silver King's fat Minister. "Where is that
rascally Master of yours? As you probably know by this time, we kept
our part of the bargain, but he still has to keep his."

"Indeed, you are fortunate to have escaped with your lives," muttered
Wutz, taking off his hat and looking anxiously inside. "And I'm sorry
to tell you the Wizard of Wutz NEVER keeps his bargains. No matter how
hard we work or try to please him, sooner or later, we are all shelved
or potted!"

"Then why work for such a villain?" snorted the Royal Ox gruffly.
"Where is he now?"

"Yes, where is he now?" asked Kerry, who in spite of the terrible
stories he had heard, hoped to get a look at the wonderful wizard who
had enchanted him.

"Gone!" answer Nifflepok, putting on his high hat and giving it a
couple of taps. "He's bubbled off with the Gnome King to conquer Oz,
and I expect by this time they've bewitched about half the inhabitants
of the Emerald City."

"Oh, what a shame!" burst out Kerry.

"Bubbled off? What do you mean by that?" The Goat Girl reached out with
all her arms to pull the Silver King's little Minister closer.

"I mean, bubbled off," repeated Nifflepok, struggling to release
himself from Handy's clutches. "He blew a quicksilver bubble and he and
Ruggedo sailed away in it, if that's any plainer."

"Oh, then we had better go right after them," snorted the Ox in an
anxious voice. "Show us out of this mountain, you little pudding, or
I'll toss you higher than a kite."

"Oh, do let's do something!" begged Kerry, who, being young, was quite
daring and absolutely foolhardy. "We aren't going to let those dreadful
Kings conquer the country, are we, and not lift a hand?"

"Well, I'm sure I'd lift all seven if it would do any good," mused
Handy Mandy in a depressed voice. "But how can we stop them? Wutz and
Rug have probably stolen all the magic in Ozma's palace by this time,
the thieving rascals!"

"But surely YOU have some magic?" ventured Nifflepok, who had finally
jerked himself free. "Or you could never have disenchanted that gnome
or found the wizard's Lower and rescued this boy; and if you have--"
he warned, backing rapidly away, "if you have, you'd better use it
QUICK. When Wutz finishes conquering Oz, he's sure to remember you and
turn you to rocks and rubble. He's going to turn everyone to rocks and
rubble!" wailed Nifflepok, dashing out of the workshop.

"Great Gazoo, what shall we do? I don't want to be a rock," snorted
Nox.

"And I won't be a rock!" stormed the little King. "It was bad enough
being shut up in a bubble and missing two whole years--oh, you won't
let him turn us to rocks, will you, Handy? And do let's help poor Ozma,
before it's too late!"

Kerry looked up at her so pleadingly, Handy, against all her
inclinations and better judgment, pulled out the silver hammer again.
"The hammer will be better than the ball," she reasoned quickly, "for
the ball only seems to help Keretarians. Now then!" Lifting the hammer
in her iron hand, the Goat Girl brought it down sharply on the wizard's
marble table. Silver sparks flew up in every direction and out of the
very middle of the shower stepped the yawning dwarf.

"Say, I'm trying to take a nap," grumbled Himself, stretching his arms
up sleepily. "What do you fellows want now?"

"We want to go to the Emerald City of Oz and save Ozma from Wutz and
the Gnome King!" explained Handy in one breathless sentence.

"My! All that?" Stifling another yawn, Himself grinned mischievously at
the Goat Girl. "Then stand in line, please." So Handy placed herself
in front of the Royal Ox and Kerry stepped behind him, and the dwarf,
seizing the hammer, brought it down with a terrible blow just behind
the little King. And what a blow it was you can readily understand,
when I tell you that its force carried the three travelers clear out of
the Silver King's Mountain and all the way to the Emerald City itself.
Flying along for a moment beside them, Himself slipped the hammer
back in the Goat Girl's hand, and then with another tremendous yawn,
disappeared.



CHAPTER 20

Just in Time!


In Ozma's palace in the Emerald City, everything was very quiet and
still. Not surprising when you consider that the wizard of Wutz had
blown his patent stupefying powder down all the chimneys before he and
Ruggedo dared to enter. Then, mooring the silver bubble to one of the
castle spires, the two conspirators had slipped through an open window
and proceeded without delay or interference to the private sitting room
of the absent ruler. There Ruggedo with a spiteful laugh, thrust his
head right into the mouths of the Hungry Tiger and Cowardly Lion. Rigid
and helpless they sat before Ozma's safe, motionless and completely
stupefied, as were all of Ozma's other faithful servants and retainers.
Reducing the safe to a heap of green ashes was the work of but a
moment, then, pulling the Gnome King's belt from the sparkling heap of
treasures, Wutz sprang to his feet.

"Quick! How does it work?" he cried, clasping the belt round his thin
waist. "We'll not have a second's safety till Ozma, Glinda, the Wizard
of Oz and all those girl Princesses are out of the way."

"But first you must restore my Kingdom!" insisted Ruggedo, dancing up
and down. "Here give it to me. I'm used to it and can work faster.
First I'll wish Kaliko off my throne and myself back in my underground
castle, then--"

"Oh, no, you won't!" declared Wutz, holding the bouncing Gnome King off
with one hand. "How do I know what you will do once you reach your own
Kingdom? Why--I might never see this belt again."

"But I promise to send it back to you," hissed Ruggedo, his eyes
snapping real sparks.

"I'd rather have the belt than the promise," said Wutz, shaking his
head stubbornly.

"Give it to me, I say, GIVE it to me!" yelled Ruggedo, now in a perfect
rage. "How do I know what you will do when you know the trick of using
it? Why, you might even turn me to a rock to be rid of me."

"What? Change my dearest friend and most powerful ally to a rock?"
exclaimed the Wizard with pretended horror. "By the left horn of my
silver cow, I promise to return this belt as soon as I am Ruler of
Oz!" Ruggedo longed to snatch his belt away from the scheming Silver
Monarch, but as he was neither big or strong enough to do this, there
was nothing for him to do but agree to the wizard's terms.

"All right," he groaned dismally. "Listen, then--" But as Wutz bent his
head and the little gnome began to whisper hoarse directions in his
ear, there was a dreadful thump and clatter behind them.

"STOP!" commanded the Goat Girl, the first to recover from the shock
of the landing, and dear knows Handy should have been used to sudden
landings by this time. "STOP!" Whirling round with a howl of fury,
Wutz sprang straight at her, but Handy, who still clutched the silver
hammer in her iron hand, was too quick for him and brought it down
with a resounding crack on the top of his head. "Take 'em away! Take
'em away!" cried Handy hysterically, as Wutz fell over backwards, and
Himself, appearing exactly where the hammer had struck, leaped off the
wizard's head to save himself from a fall.

"But first we must have that magic belt," chuckled the hammer elf.
Giving Ruggedo, who was struggling frantically to get his belt from
around the Silver King's waist, a quick push, Himself unbuckled the
clasps and tossed the magic girdle to the Goat Girl. Then grabbing the
howling gnome and senseless wizard, each by his neck, the efficient
dwarf vanished in a flash of lightning and a crash of thunder that
shook the castle to its foundations. Nox dropped to his knees. Kerry,
still stunned by the hammer blow that had carried them to the Emerald
City, and Handy, herself, with her arms still upraised, stared in dumb
astonishment at the quivering vacuum where the two Kings and Himself,
the elf, had been whirling a moment before.

"Oh, Handy, HANDY, you've really done it!" shouted Kerry, finding his
voice at last. "Why, you've saved the whole of Ozma's Kingdom and
struck only one blow! But watch out--are those beasts alive or just
statues?"

"Statues, I hope," grunted the Royal Ox, lurching dizzily to his feet.
"Well, here we are in the capital, m'lass, and I must say you have
handled everything beautifully, beautifully!"

"Halt! Who goes there! Whoa! HO! Halt and Surrender!" piped a
frightened voice. "Here they are, your Majesty, the robbers themselves,
caught red-handed in the act of robbing our royal safe!"

"Red--white--and--blue handed, if you ask me!" cried the Patchwork
Girl, blinking her shoe button eyes at the red rubber hand with which
Handy grasped the Gnome King's belt, the white hand she had reached out
to hold on to Kerry, the iron hand still clutching the silver hammer.
All the rest of her hands the Goat Girl held stiffly before her.
Brushing aside the Soldier with the Green Whiskers, who promptly dived
behind a sofa, Scraps jerked the Gnome King's belt out of Handy's
rubber hand and gave her a shove that sent her flying over backwards.
"Take that, you Monster!" yelled Scraps.

"Well," sputtered the Goat Girl, sprawling flat on her back, "here's
gratitude for you!"

"How dare you call Handy a Monster?" bellowed Nox, charging angrily
after the Patchwork Girl.

"Oh! Do be careful!" called Ozma with a little scream, as Nox almost
caught up with Scraps, and Kerry began to belabor the Soldier with
Green Whiskers over the head with a candlestick. "Oh! Oh! My poor Lion!
My poor Tiger! My SAFE! Why, I--just--can't believe it!" wailed the
little Fairy Ruler, staring sorrowfully down at the Goat Girl, who had
made no attempt to rise nor explain her embarrassing position.

"Then don't believe it!" cried Kerry breathlessly. "For it isn't
true! This brave girl and Nox have got the best of Wutz and the Gnome
King and saved your whole bally Kingdom and here you've gone and had
her knocked down. Shame on you! Get away from me, you cotton stuffed
horror!" screamed the little King, as Scraps, eluding the Ox, made a
determined jump in his direction.

"Quiet! QUIET!" The Scarecrow, who with Glinda, the Wizard, Dorothy,
Betsy and Trot, now came hurrying into the room, raised both arms and
looked around pleadingly. The whole royal party, traveling in Glinda's
swan chariot, had just arrived on the balcony outside, but Ozma, Scraps
and the Soldier with Green Whiskers had been first on the scene of
action.

"The boy is right," declared Glinda, crossing slowly to a green sofa.
"I can see by her face and hands--" Glinda smiled faintly--"that this
girl is both honest and industrious."

"Thanks!" murmured Handy, as the Scarecrow, ever a gentleman, bounded
forward to assist her to her feet. The flimsy straw stuffed fellow lost
his balance in the attempt, but his little act of gallantry did much to
relieve an awkward moment.

"You see," puffed the Scarecrow, seating Handy with a flourish, "for
the last ten days we've all been pretty much upset around here and
you'll have to excuse Scraps for jumping at conclusions."

"Please do!" Ozma spoke pleasantly and seriously as she seated herself
in her small arm chair, leaning over to take the Gnome King's belt
from Scraps. "But if some of you kind people will just explain?" The
Little Fairy looked anxiously from the stupefied Tiger and Lion to her
pulverized safe, her eyes coming back to rest on the Goat Girl, the
great White Ox and the handsome young Munchkin.



CHAPTER 21

The Hammer Elf Explains


"Go ahead and explain," said Handy, closing her eyes and leaning back
in her chair with all her hands hanging limply at her side. So Nox, a
bit haughtily and tossing his head proudly from time to time, began
at the beginning and told all that had happened since Handy Mandy had
flown from Mt. Mern. How the Goat Girl had found the magic in his horn,
how they had traveled together from Keretaria to the Silver Mountain
and there, in their search for the little King, discovered Wutz's plot
to make himself Supreme Wizard of Oz. And last of all he explained how
Handy, with the help of the silver hammer, had subdued the two wicked
Kings.

"Well, it certainly was very kind of you to take all this trouble for
us--after you had already had so many worries of your own," sighed
Ozma, as Nox, finishing his story, gazed round the room with lordly
condescension.

"Yes, wasn't it?" Handy opened her eyes and thoughtfully regarded
the little Ruler of Oz. "Still, I'm glad now that we did save you."
The Goat Girl's round pleasant face was suddenly wreathed in smiles.
"I didn't think I was going to like you, but I do," she admitted
cheerfully. "I believe you're about the best ruler Oz could have and
besides, you're pretty as a goat."

"As a goat!" gasped the Wizard of Oz while Dorothy and the other girls
had all they could do to keep from laughing right out loud. But Ozma,
who was a very understanding little person, smiled kindly back at Handy
Mandy.

"Goats _are_ pretty," she agreed, nodding her head politely. "And since
you must miss your own goats very much, perhaps you would like me to
send you back to Mt. Mern after you've seen a bit of the capital?"

"Oh, Handy wouldn't leave us!" snorted the Royal Ox, moving as close
to the Goat Girl as he could get. "We couldn't get along without Handy
Mandy, your Majesty."

"Oh, please let her stay in Keretaria," begged the little King adding
his voice to that of his Royal Ox. "You will live with us in the
palace, won't you Handy?"

"Well, if I just had my goats--" considered the seven-armed maiden.
"Mt. Mern would seem rather dull after Oz," she acknowledged pensively.
"But what about that old King who's still on Kerry's throne--and what
am I to do with this silver hammer--and what do you suppose Himself has
done with Wutz and Ruggedo?"

"Yes, what's to be done with Wutz?" echoed the Scarecrow wrinkling up
his cotton forehead. And now the little sitting room began fairly to
buzz with excited questions and suggestions, for there was still a lot
to be explained and settled. The Ozites could hardly keep their eyes
off the seven-armed Goat Girl, the handsome young ruler of Keretaria
and his Royal Ox. Dorothy longed to unscrew his horn and test its
magic power for herself, but Ozma, anxious to repair all the damage
done by the wicked wizard, now raised her scepter for silence.

Clasping on the Gnome King's belt, Ozma first brought back her magic
picture and with a quick wish returned Glinda's book of records to her
castle in the South. Next, though she knew neither the extent nor the
nature of the wizard's other thefts she caused to be restored to their
rightful owners all the magic appliances in the Silver King's den. The
Scarecrow had already reported the stupefied condition of the other
occupants of the palace, so Ozma's next thought was to restore them
to their accustomed selves. No sooner was the Cowardly Lion released
than he crawled under a table, but the Hungry Tiger rushed out on the
balcony, growling and lashing his tail, as he thought of the indignity
he had suffered.

After a short conference with Handy Mandy, Ozma freed all the potted
prisoners of the wicked wizard, and made Nifflepok King of the Silver
Mountain. She moved the cliff dwellings of the people to the outside
of the mountain so Wutz's pale subjects could enjoy with the rest of
the Gillikins, the bright sunshine and beneficent climate of Oz. The
Magic Mountain itself, with all its dark pits and jeweled caverns,
Ozma sealed up tightly and forever. The wizard's agents were turned
to moles, for they were already more like these boring little animals
than men. After each magic wish or transformation, the little group in
the royal sitting room would look in the magic picture, which Ozma had
immediately repaired. And in each case Handy felt that the ruler of Oz
had used both wisdom and good judgment. Nox, as they were watching the
wizard's agents turn to moles, gave a snort of surprise, for the first
figure shown was old King Kerr, who was really Number Nine. As the
wicked impostor changed quickly from a man to a mole and scurried off
the throne and away to bury himself in the blue forest, Nox and Handy
both heaved a sigh of relief and satisfaction.

While Ozma was working on the magic safe, Handy, deciding to try a
little of her own magic, softly tapped the silver hammer on the arm
of her chair. At once, and to the delight and interest of everyone,
Himself, the elf, appeared astride the arm, holding a small cactus
plant in each hand.

"I wish you in the future to obey the summons of her Majesty, Ozma of
Oz," smiled the Goat Girl, placing the silver hammer as she spoke, in
Ozma's lap. "This young fairy is more experienced in magic than I, and
will know how to use the hammer to best advantage."

"Oh, all right! But I rather liked working for you," grinned Himself.
"And say, I tried to turn these rascals to plants but this was the best
I could do." Setting the two pots of cactus down on a small writing
desk, the hammer elf bowed first to Handy and then to Ozma. "Wait!
Don't go!" begged the little Fairy as Himself showed unmistakable signs
of disappearing. "Do tell us about this silver hammer and who owned it
first."

"It belonged to Wunchie, a witch of the West, who's lived in the
Munchkin Mountains for about a thousand years, and used it to control
as many of the Munchkin Kings as she could," explained the dwarf
balancing himself cleverly on an ink well.

"Then I suppose Wunchie was responsible for the prophecy in Keretaria?"
surmised Nox, blinking his eyes at the hammer elf. The dwarf nodded
cheerfully. "Yes, Wunchie invented that prophecy," he told them, "and
placed her own white oxen in the country. Each time she had trouble
forcing the King to do as she wished, she tapped him and the ox on
the head with her hammer. But I took rather a fancy to you," admitted
Himself looking fondly at Nox. "So, when she ordered me to tap you off
and traded little King Kerry to Wutz for a basket of jumping beans and
put Wutz's agent on the throne of Keretaria, I decided to take a hand
myself. So I gave you only a light tap and at the same time, I stored
enough magic in your horns to help you find Kerry--and with the help of
this handy Goat Girl you DID find him!" beamed the hammer elf. "I knew
my magic was good. You can't work for a witch without learning good
magic. But now, since everything is turning out so splendidly, I'll
just go back to my tree stump. One, two--three, back--to--my--tree!"

"But what became of the witch?" cried Ozma catching hold of the dwarf's
purple beard, for his head had already vanished.

"Ha, ha! She exploded and popped off!" roared a voice from the place
where the elf's head had been. "I told her not to eat those jumping
beans! And after that, I buried her hammer in the garden of Keretaria
and there it stayed till Handy ploughed it up. Goodbye all!" And the
body of the hammer elf melted into nothing and was gone.

"My--y, what a clever fellow!" chuckled Handy. "So, now Wutz and
Ruggedo are a couple of cactuses! Mm--mmm! Mmmm--mm! Unpleasant to the
last! Do you suppose anyone can ever disenchant them? For goatness
sake be careful!" begged Handy as Jellia, in answer to her Mistress's
ring, came to carry the plants to the conservatory. "Whatever you do,
don't drop 'em. And to think that the Wizard is potted himself! Well,
I'll never have a hand in breaking his enchantment!"

"I never thought anyone could ever break Ruggedo's enchantment,"
confessed Ozma. "When I changed him to a jug, I commanded him to keep
that shape till he was broken by the seventh hand of a traveling
Mernite. And at that time I did not even know there was such a place as
Mt. Mern or a clever Goat Girl like Handy."

"But aren't you glad there was!" shouted the little Wizard of Oz
tossing up his hat and catching it on his nose. "Aren't we all glad to
know Handy Mandy, Nox and this jolly young King?"

"Long live the Royal Ox and the Little King of Keretaria!" cried the
cheering Ozites. "Long live Handy Mandy, the seven-armed wonder of the
world and OZ!" And, of course, they will live long--everyone lives long
in Oz. But even if Handy lives to be a hundred, she will never forget
the grand banquet given that evening in her honor. Besides the famous
people she already knew, the Goat Girl was presented to all the other
celebrities at Ozma's court, and shaking hands with them heartily and
seven at a time, she had never been so flattered and fussed over in
her life. Nox and Kerry came in for their share of honors, too. There
was nothing the Ozians would not have done for their three new friends
and rescuers. Ozma, overwhelmed by Handy's generosity in giving her
the silver hammer, and already indebted to her for saving the Kingdom,
racked her brains for some wonderful gift to reward the brave mountain
lass. But it was Nox who solved the difficulty by confiding to Ozma
that Handy desired more than anything else a set of gloves for her
hands. It seemed she had never had enough gloves for more than two at
a time. So, smiling secretly to herself, Ozma gave the Goat Girl seven
sets of fine kid gloves and an emerald necklace that wound three times
round her sturdy neck. With the necklace, a complete new outfit and her
forty-nine gloves, Handy Mandy felt herself quite ready for high life
and royal society.

"Though you really should wear a boxing glove on that iron hand,"
whispered the Scarecrow, as Handy blushingly resumed her seat after
Ozma's speech of presentation. "Stay in the Emerald City and we will
make you a general in the army," promised the straw man earnestly. But
Handy shook her head with tears of merriment in her eyes. Though she
never quite forgave Scraps for pushing her over, she and the Scarecrow
were already as friendly and easy as an old pair of shoes. "Handy
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday," the
straw man had nicknamed her because she had a hand for every day in the
week.

Nox had insisted on Himself being invited to the banquet and the clever
elf added much to the pleasure and hilarity of that memorable occasion.
Indeed, many times afterward when she felt bored or lonely, Ozma would
summon Himself just to amuse and cheer her up. The silver hammer was
stored away with the other important magic treasures and is regarded
by many as the most powerful magic in the castle. Handy Mandy kept the
blue flower to help her on future journeys and after she and her two
friends had spent a happy week in the Emerald City, Ozma reluctantly
wished Kerry and Nox to Keretaria and the Goat Girl back to Mt. Mern.

Here, for a month, Handy Mandy astonished the villagers with the story
of her travels, then gathering up her goats she took herself and them
back by a fast wishing pill the Wizard had given her--to the Kingdom of
Keretaria. As the Goat Girl's hands retained all of their strength and
willingness, and Nox's horns all their magic--even to giving wise and
useful messages, these two and little Kerry ruled the Kingdom between
them with such skill and cleverness everyone was enormously happy and
prosperous!





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