FictionForest

Chapter 28

L. Frank BaumOct 04, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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The Scarecrow had no need to sleep; neither had the Tin Woodman or Tiktok
or Jack Pumpkinhead. So they all wandered out into the palace grounds
and stood beside the sparkling water of the Forbidden Fountain until
daybreak. During this time they indulged in occasional conversation.

“Nothing could make me forget what I know,” remarked the Scarecrow,
gazing into the fountain, “for I cannot drink the Water of Oblivion or
water of any kind. And I am glad that this is so, for I consider my
wisdom unexcelled.”

“You are cer-tain-ly ve-ry wise,” agreed Tiktok. “For my part, I can
on-ly think by ma-chin-er-y, so I do not pre-tend to know as much as
you do.”

“My tin brains are very bright, but that is all I claim for them,”
said Nick Chopper, modestly. “Yet I do not aspire to being very wise,
for I have noticed that the happiest people are those who do not let
their brains oppress them.”

“Mine never worry me,” Jack Pumpkinhead acknowledged. “There are
many seeds of thought in my head, but they do not sprout easily. I am
glad that it is so, for if I occupied my days in thinking I should
have no time for anything else.”

In this cheery mood they passed the hours until the first golden
streaks of dawn appeared in the sky. Then Ozma joined them, as fresh
and lovely as ever and robed in one of her prettiest gowns.

“Our enemies have not yet arrived,” said the Scarecrow, after greeting
affectionately the sweet and girlish Ruler.

“They will soon be here,” she said, “for I have just glanced at my
Magic Picture, and have seen them coughing and choking with the dust
in the tunnel.”

“Oh, is there dust in the tunnel?” asked the Tin Woodman.

“Yes; Ozma placed it there by means of the Magic Belt,” explained the
Scarecrow, with one of his broad smiles.

Then Dorothy came to them, Uncle Henry and Aunt Em following close
after her. The little girl’s eyes were heavy because she had had a
sleepless and anxious night. Toto walked by her side, but the little
dog’s spirits were very much subdued. Billina, who was always up by
daybreak, was not long in joining the group by the fountain.

The Wizard and the Shaggy Man next arrived, and soon after appeared
Omby Amby, dressed in his best uniform.

“There lies the tunnel,” said Ozma, pointing to a part of the ground
just before the Forbidden Fountain, “and in a few moments the dreadful
invaders will break through the earth and swarm over the land. Let us all
stand on the other side of the Fountain and watch to see what happens.”

At once they followed her suggestion and moved around the fountain of
the Water of Oblivion. There they stood silent and expectant until
the earth beyond gave way with a sudden crash and up leaped the powerful
form of the First and Foremost, followed by all his grim warriors.

As the leader sprang forward his gleaming eyes caught the play of the
fountain and he rushed toward it and drank eagerly of the sparkling
water. Many of the other Phanfasms drank, too, in order to clear
their dry and dusty throats. Then they stood around and looked at
one another with simple, wondering smiles.

The First and Foremost saw Ozma and her companions beyond the
fountain, but instead of making an effort to capture her he merely
stared at her in pleased admiration of her beauty–for he had
forgotten where he was and why he had come there.

But now the Grand Gallipoot arrived, rushing from the tunnel with a
hoarse cry of mingled rage and thirst. He too saw the fountain and
hastened to drink of its forbidden waters. The other Growleywogs were
not slow to follow suit, and even before they had finished drinking
the Chief of the Whimsies and his people came to push them away, while
they one and all cast off their false heads that they might slake
their thirst at the fountain.

When the Nome King and General Guph arrived they both made a dash to
drink, but the General was so mad with thirst that he knocked his King
over, and while Roquat lay sprawling upon the ground the General
drank heartily of the Water of Oblivion.

This rude act of his General made the Nome King so angry that for a
moment he forgot he was thirsty and rose to his feet to glare upon the
group of terrible warriors he had brought here to assist him. He saw
Ozma and her people, too, and yelled out:

“Why don’t you capture them? Why don’t you conquer Oz, you idiots?
Why do you stand there like a lot of dummies?”

But the great warriors had become like little children. They had
forgotten all their enmity against Ozma and against Oz. They had even
forgotten who they themselves were, or why they were in this strange
and beautiful country. As for the Nome King, they did not recognize
him, and wondered who he was.

The sun came up and sent its flood of silver rays to light the faces
of the invaders. The frowns and scowls and evil looks were all gone.
Even the most monstrous of the creatures there assembled smiled
innocently and seemed light-hearted and content merely to be alive.

Not so with Roquat, the Nome King. He had not drunk from the
Forbidden Fountain and all his former rage against Ozma and Dorothy
now inflamed him as fiercely as ever. The sight of General Guph
babbling like a happy child and playing with his hands in the cool
waters of the fountain astonished and maddened Red Roquat. Seeing
that his terrible allies and his own General refused to act, the Nome
King turned to order his great army of Nomes to advance from the
tunnel and seize the helpless Oz people.

But the Scarecrow suspected what was in the King’s mind and spoke a
word to the Tin Woodman. Together they ran at Roquat and grabbing him
up tossed him into the great basin of the fountain.

The Nome King’s body was round as a ball, and it bobbed up and down in
the Water of Oblivion while he spluttered and screamed with fear lest
he should drown. And when he cried out, his mouth filled with water,
which ran down his throat, so that straightway he forgot all he had
formerly known just as completely as had all the other invaders.

Ozma and Dorothy could not refrain from laughing to see their dreaded
enemies become as harmless as babies. There was no danger now that Oz
would be destroyed. The only question remaining to solve was how to
get rid of this horde of intruders.

The Shaggy Man kindly pulled the Nome King out of the fountain and set
him upon his thin legs. Roquat was dripping wet, but he chattered and
laughed and wanted to drink more of the water. No thought of injuring
any person was now in his mind.

Before he left the tunnel he had commanded his fifty thousand Nomes
to remain there until he ordered them to advance, as he wished to give
his allies time to conquer Oz before he appeared with his own army.
Ozma did not wish all these Nomes to overrun her land, so she advanced
to King Roquat and taking his hand in her own said gently:

“Who are you? What is your name?”

“I don’t know,” he replied, smiling at her. “Who are you, my dear?”

“My name is Ozma,” she said; “and your name is Roquat.”

“Oh, is it?” he replied, seeming pleased.

“Yes; you are King of the Nomes,” she said.

“Ah; I wonder what the Nomes are!” returned the King, as if puzzled.

“They are underground elves, and that tunnel over there is full of
them,” she answered. “You have a beautiful cavern at the other end of
the tunnel, so you must go to your Nomes and say: ‘March home!’ Then
follow after them and in time you will reach the pretty cavern where
you live.”

The Nome King was much pleased to learn this, for he had forgotten he
had a cavern. So he went to the tunnel and said to his army: ‘March
home!’ At once the Nomes turned and marched back through the tunnel,
and the King followed after them, laughing with delight to find his
orders so readily obeyed.

The Wizard went to General Guph, who was trying to count his fingers,
and told him to follow the Nome King, who was his master. Guph meekly
obeyed, and so all the Nomes quitted the Land of Oz forever.

But there were still the Phanfasms and Whimsies and Growleywogs
standing around in groups, and they were so many that they filled the
gardens and trampled upon the flowers and grass because they did not
know that the tender plants would be injured by their clumsy feet.
But in all other respects they were perfectly harmless and played
together like children or gazed with pleasure upon the pretty sights
of the royal gardens.

After counseling with the Scarecrow Ozma sent Omby Amby to the palace
for the Magic Belt, and when the Captain General returned with it the
Ruler of Oz at once clasped the precious Belt around her waist.

“I wish all these strange people–the Whimsies and the Growleywogs and
the Phanfasms–safe back in their own homes!” she said.

It all happened in a twinkling, for of course the wish was no sooner
spoken than it was granted.

All the hosts of the invaders were gone, and only the trampled grass
showed that they had ever been in the Land of Oz.

 

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