FictionForest

Chapter 8 – Tik-Tok Tackles a Tough Task

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

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While Shaggy and his companions stood huddled in a
group at one side, the Army of Oogaboo was
approaching along the pathway, the tramp of their
feet being now and then accompanied by a dismal
groan as one of the officers stepped on a sharp
stone or knocked his funnybone against his
neighbor’s sword-handle.

Then out from among the trees marched Private
Files, bearing the banner of Oogaboo, which
fluttered from a long pole. This pole he stuck in
the ground just in front of the well and then he
cried in a loud voice.

“I hereby conquer this territory in the name of
Queen Ann Soforth of Oogaboo, and all the
inhabitants of the land I proclaim her slaves!”

Some of the officers now stuck their heads out
of the bushes and asked:

“Is the coast clear, Private Files?”

“There is no coast here,” was the reply, “but
all’s well.”

“I hope there’s water in it,” said General Cone,
mustering courage to advance to the well; but just
then he caught a glimpse of Tik-Tok and Shaggy and
at once fell upon his knees, trembling and
frightened and cried out:

“Mercy, kind enemies! Mercy! Spare us, and
we will be your slaves forever!”

The other officers, who had now advanced into
the clearing, likewise fell upon their knees and
begged for mercy.

Files turned around and, seeing the strangers
for the first time, examined them with much
curiosity. Then, discovering that three of the
party were girls, he lifted his cap and made a
polite bow.

“What’s all this?” demanded a harsh voice, as
Queen Ann reached the place and beheld her
kneeling army.

“Permit us to introduce ourselves,” replied
Shaggy, stepping forward. “This is Tik-Tok, the
Clockwork Man–who works better than some meat
people. And here is Princess Ozga of Roseland,
just now unfortunately exiled from her Kingdom of
Roses. I next present Polychrome, a sky fairy, who
lost her Bow by an accident and can’t find her way
home. The small girl here is Betsy Bobbin, from
some unknown earthly paradise called Oklahoma,
and with her you see Mr. Hank, a mule with a long
tail and a short temper.

“Puh!” said Ann, scornfully; “a pretty lot of
vagabonds you are, indeed; all lost or strayed,
I suppose, and not worth a Queen’s plundering.
I’m sorry I’ve conquered you.”

“But you haven’t conquered us yet,” called
Betsy indignantly.

“No,” agreed Files, “that is a fact. But if my
officers will kindly command me to conquer you,
I will do so at once, after which we can stop
arguing and converse more at our ease.”

The officers had by this time risen from their
knees and brushed the dust from their trousers. To
them the enemy did not look very fierce, so the
Generals and Colonels and Majors and Captains
gained courage to face them and began strutting in
their most haughty manner.

“You must understand,” said Ann, “that I am the
Queen of Oogaboo, and this is my invincible Army.
We are busy conquering the world, and since you
seem to be a part of the world, and are
obstructing our journey, it is necessary for us to
conquer you unworthy though you may be of such
high honor.”

“That’s all right,” replied Shaggy. “Conquer us
as often as you like. We don’t mind.”

“But we won’t be anybody’s slaves,” added Betsy,
positively.

“We’ll see about that,” retorted the Queen,
angrily. “Advance, Private Files, and bind the
enemy hand and foot!”

But Private Files looked at pretty Betsy and
fascinating Polychrome and the beautiful Rose
Princess and shook his head.

“It would be impolite, and I won’t do it,” he
asserted.

“You must!” cried Ann. “It is your duty to obey
orders.”

“I haven’t received any orders from my
officers,” objected the Private.

But the Generals now shouted: “Forward, and bind
the prisoners!” and the Colonels and Majors and
Captains repeated the command, yelling it as loud
as they could.

All this noise annoyed Hank, who had been eyeing
the Army of Oogaboo with strong disfavor. The mule
now dashed forward and began backing upon the
officers and kicking fierce and dangerous heels at
them. The attack was so sudden that the officers
scattered like dust in a whirlwind, dropping their
swords as they ran and trying to seek refuge
behind the trees and bushes.

Betsy laughed joyously at the comical rout of
the “noble army,” and Polychrome danced with glee.
But Ann was furious at this ignoble defeat of her
gallant forces by one small mule.

“Private Files, I command you to do your duty!”
she cried again, and then she herself ducked to
escape the mule’s heels–for Hank made no
distinction in favor of a lady who was an open
enemy. Betsy grabbed her champion by the forelock,
however, and so held him fast, and when the
officers saw that the mule was restrained from
further attacks they crept fearfully back and
picked up their discarded swords.

“Private Files, seize and bind these prisoners!”
screamed the Queen.

“No,” said Files, throwing down his gun and
removing the knapsack which was strapped to his
back, “I resign my position as the Army of
Oogaboo. I enlisted to fight the enemy and become
a hero, but if you want some one to bind harmless
girls you will have to hire another Private.”

Then he walked over to the others and shook
hands with Shaggy and Tik-Tok.

“Treason!” shrieked Ann, and all the officers
echoed her cry.

“Nonsense,” said Files. “I’ve the right to
resign if I want to.”

“Indeed you haven’t!” retorted the Queen. “If
you resign it will break up my Army, and then I
cannot conquer the world.” She now turned to the
officers and said: “I must ask you to do me a
favor. I know it is undignified in officers to
fight, but unless you immediately capture Private
Files and force him to obey my orders there will
be no plunder for any of us. Also it is likely you
will all suffer the pangs of hunger, and when we
meet a powerful foe you are liable to be captured
and made slaves.”

The prospect of this awful fate so frightened
the officers that they drew their swords and
rushed upon Files, who stood beside Shaggy, in a
truly ferocious manner. The next instant, however,
they halted and again fell upon their knees; for
there, before them, was the glistening Love
Magnet, held in the hand of the smiling Shaggy
Man, and the sight of this magic talisman at once
won the heart of every Oogabooite. Even Ann saw
the Love Magnet, and forgetting all enmity and
anger threw herself upon Shaggy and embraced him
lovingly.

Quite disconcerted by this unexpected effect of
the Magnet, Shaggy disengaged himself from the
Queen’s encircling arms and quickly hid the
talisman in his pocket. The adventurers from
Oogaboo were now his firm friends, and there was
no more talk about conquering and binding any of
his party.

“If you insist on conquering anyone,” said
Shaggy, “you may march with me to the underground
Kingdom of Ruggedo. To conquer the world, as you
have set out to do, you must conquer everyone
under its surface as well as those upon its
surface, and no one in all the world needs
conquering so much as Ruggedo.”

“Who is he?” asked Ann.

“The Metal Monarch, King of the Nomes.”

“Is he rich?” inquired Major Stockings in an
anxious voice.

“Of course,” answered Shaggy. “He owns all
the metal that lies underground–gold, silver,
copper, brass and tin. He has an idea he also
owns all the metals above ground, for he says all
metal was once a part of his kingdom. So, by
conquering the Metal Monarch, you will win all
the riches in the world.”

“Ah!” exclaimed General Apple, heaving a
deep sigh, “that would be plunder worth our
while. Let’s conquer him, Your Majesty.”

The Queen looked reproachfully at Files, who was
sitting next to the lovely Princess and whispering
in her ear.

“Alas,” said Ann, “I have no longer an Army.
I have plenty of brave officers, indeed, but no
private soldier for them to command. Therefore
I cannot conquer Ruggedo and win all his
wealth.”

“Why don’t you make one of your officers the
Private?” asked Shaggy; but at once every officer
began to protest and the Queen of Oogaboo shook
her head as she replied:

“That is impossible. A private soldier must be a
terrible fighter, and my officers are unable to
fight. They are exceptionally brave in commanding
others to fight, but could not themselves meet
the enemy and conquer.”

“Very true, Your Majesty,” said Colonel Plum,
eagerly. “There are many kinds of bravery and one
cannot be expected to possess them all. I myself
am brave as a lion in all ways until it comes to
fighting, but then my nature revolts. Fighting is
unkind and liable to be injurious to others; so,
being a gentleman, I never fight.”

“Nor I!” shouted each of the other officers.

“You see,” said Ann, “how helpless I am. Had not
Private Files proved himself a traitor and a
deserter, I would gladly have conquered this
Ruggedo; but an Army without a private soldier is
like a bee without a stinger.”

“I am not a traitor, Your Majesty,” protested
Files. “I resigned in a proper manner, not liking
the job. But there are plenty of people to take my
place. Why not make Shaggy Man the private
soldier?”

“He might be killed,” said Ann, looking tenderly
at Shaggy, “for he is mortal, and able to die. If
anything happened to him, it would break my
heart.”

“It would hurt me worse than that,” declared
Shaggy. “You must admit, Your Majesty, that I am
commander of this expedition, for it is my brother
we are seeking, rather than plunder. But I and my
companions would like the assistance of your Army,
and if you help us to conquer Ruggedo and to
rescue my brother from captivity we will allow you
to keep all the gold and jewels and other
plunder you may find.”

This prospect was so tempting that the officers
began whispering together and presently Colonel
Cheese said: “Your Majesty, by combining our
brains we have just evolved a most brilliant idea.
We will make the Clockwork Man the private
soldier!”

“Who? Me?” asked Tik-Tok. “Not for a sin-gle
sec-ond! I can-not fight, and you must not for-get
that it was Rug-ge-do who threw me in the well.”

“At that time you had no gun,” said Polychrome.
“But if you join the Army of Oogaboo you will
carry the gun that Mr. Files used.”

“A sol-dier must be a-ble to run as well as to
fight,” protested Tik-Tok, “and if my works run
down, as they of-ten do, I could nei-ther run nor
fight.”

“I’ll keep you wound up, Tik-Tok,” promised
Betsy.

“Why, it isn’t a bad idea,” said Shaggy. “Tik-
Tok will make an ideal soldier, for nothing can
injure him except a sledge hammer. And, since a
Private soldier seems to be necessary to this
Army, Tik-Tok is the only one of our party fitted
to undertake the job.”

“What must I do?” asked Tik-Tok.

“Obey orders,” replied Ann. “When the officers
command you to do anything, you must do
it; that is all.”

“And that’s enough, too,” said Files.

“Do I get a salary?” inquired Tik-Tok.

“You get your share of the plunder,” answered
the Queen.

“Yes,” remarked Files, “one-half of the plunder
goes to Queen Ann, the other half is divided
among the officers, and the Private gets the
rest.”

“That will be sat-is-fac-tor-y,” said Tik-Tok,
picking up the gun and examining it wonderingly,
for he had never before seen such a weapon.

Then Ann strapped the knapsack to Tik-Tok’s
copper back and said: “Now we are ready to march
to Ruggedo’s Kingdom and conquer it. Officers,
give the command to march.”

“Fall-in!” yelled the Generals, drawing their
swords.

“Fall-in!” cried the Colonels, drawing their
swords.

“Fall-in!” shouted the Majors, drawing their
swords.

“Fall-in!” bawled the Captains, drawing their
swords.

Tik-Tok looked at them and then around him in
surprise.

“Fall in what? The well?” he asked.

“No,” said Queen Ann, “you must fall in marching
order.”

“Can-not I march without fall-ing in-to it?”
asked the Clockwork Man.

“Shoulder your gun and stand ready to march,”
advised Files; so Tik-Tok held the gun straight
and stood still.”

“What next?” he asked.

The Queen turned to Shaggy.

“Which road leads to the Metal Monarch’s
cavern?”

“We don’t know, Your Majesty,” was the reply.

“But this is absurd!” said Ann with a frown.
“If we can’t get to Ruggedo, it is certain that we
can’t conquer him.”

“You are right,” admitted Shaggy; “but I did
not say we could not get to him. We have only
to discover the way, and that was the matter we

were considering when you and your magnificent
Army arrived here.”

“Well, then, get busy and discover it,” snapped
the Queen.

That was no easy task. They all stood looking
from one road to another in perplexity. The paths
radiated from the little clearing like the rays of
the midday sun, and each path seemed like all the
others.

Files and the Rose Princess, who had by this
time become good friends, advanced a little way
along one of the roads and found that it was
bordered by pretty wild flowers.

“Why don’t you ask the flowers to tell you the
way?” he said to his companion.

“The flowers?” returned the Princess, surprised
at the question.

“Of course,” said Files. “The field-flowers must
be second-cousins to a Rose Princess, and I
believe if you ask them they will tell you.”

She looked more closely at the flowers. There
were hundreds of white daisies, golden buttercups,
bluebells and daffodils growing by the roadside,
and each flower-head was firmly set upon its
slender but stout stem. There were even a few wild
roses scattered here and there and perhaps it was
the sight of these that gave the Princess courage
to ask the important question.

She dropped to her knees, facing the flowers,
and extended both her arms pleadingly toward them.

“Tell me, pretty cousins,” she said in her
sweet, gentle voice, “which way will lead us to
the Kingdom of Ruggedo, the Nome King?”

At once all the stems bent gracefully to the
right and the flower heads nodded once-twice-
thrice in that direction.

“That’s it!” cried Files joyfully. “Now we
know the way.”

Ozga rose to her feet and looked wonderingly
at the field-flowers, which had now resumed
their upright position.

“Was it the wind, do you think?” she asked
in a low whisper.

“No, indeed,” replied Files. “There is not a
breath of wind stirring. But these lovely blossoms
are indeed your cousins and answered your question
at once, as I knew they would.”

 

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