FictionForest

Chapter 11 – The Famous Fellowship of Fairies

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

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After a short walk through very beautiful gardens
they came to the castle and followed Tubekins
through the entrance and into a great domed
chamber, where he commanded them to be seated.

From the crown which he wore, Betsy had thought
this man must be the King of the country they were
in, yet after he had seated all the strangers upon
benches that were ranged in a semicircle before a
high throne, Tubekins bowed humbly before the
vacant throne and in a flash became invisible and
disappeared.

The hall was an immense place, but there seemed
to be no one in it beside themselves. Presently,
however, they heard a low cough near them, and
here and there was the faint rustling of a robe
and a slight patter as of footsteps. Then suddenly
there rang out the clear tone of a bell and at the
sound all was changed.

Gazing around the hall in bewilderment they saw
that it was filled with hundreds of men and women,
all with beautiful faces and staring blue eyes and
all wearing scarlet robes and jeweled crowns upon
their heads. In fact, these people seemed exact
duplicates of Tubekins and it was difficult to
find any mark by which to tell them apart.

“My! what a lot of Kings and Queens!” whispered
Betsy to Polychrome, who sat beside her and
appeared much interested in the scene but not a
bit worried.

“It is certainly a strange sight,” was
Polychrome’s reply; “but I cannot see how there
can be more than one King, or Queen, in any one
country, for were these all rulers, no one could
tell who was Master.”

One of the Kings who stood near and overheard
this remark turned to her and said: “One who is
Master of himself is always a King, if only to
himself. In this favored land all Kings and Queens
are equal, and it is our privilege to bow before
one supreme Ruler–the Private Citizen.”

“Who’s he?” inquired Betsy.

As if to answer her, the clear tones of the bell
again rang out and instantly there appeared
seated in the throne the man who was lord and
master of all these royal ones. This fact was
evident when with one accord they fell upon their
knees and touched their foreheads to the floor.

The Private Citizen was not unlike the others,
except that his eyes were black instead of blue
and in the centers of the black irises glowed red
sparks that seemed like coals of fire. But his
features were very beautiful and dignified and
his manner composed and stately. Instead of the
prevalent scarlet robe, he wore one of white,
and the same dragon’s head that decorated the
others was embroidered upon its bosom.

“What charge lies against these people,
Tubekins?” he asked in quiet, even tones.

“They came through the forbidden Tube, O Mighty
Citizen,” was the reply.

“You see, it was this way,” said. Betsy. “We
were marching to the Nome King, to conquer him and
set Shaggy’s brother free, when on a sudden–”

“Who are you?” demanded the Private Citizen
sternly.

“Me? Oh, I’m Betsy Bobbin, and–”

“Who is the leader of this party?” asked the
Citizen.

“Sir, I am Queen Ann of Oogaboo, and–”

“Then keep quiet,” said the Citizen. “Who is the
leader?”

No one answered for a moment. Then General Bunn
stood up.

“Sit down!” commanded the Citizen. “I can see
that sixteen of you are merely officers, and of no
account.”

“But we have an Army,” said General Clock,
blusteringly, for he didn’t like to be told he was
of no account.

“Where is your Army?” asked the Citizen.

“It’s me,” said Tik-Tok, his voice sounding a
little rusty. “I’m the on-ly Pri-vate Sol-dier in
the par-ty.”

Hearing this, the Citizen rose and bowed
respectfully to the Clockwork Man.

“Pardon me for not realizing your importance
before,” said he. “Will you oblige me by taking
a seat beside me on my throne?”

Tik-Tok rose and walked over to the throne, all
the Kings and Queens making way for him. Then with
clanking steps he mounted the platform and sat on
the broad seat beside the Citizen.

Ann was greatly provoked at this mark of favor
shown to the humble Clockwork Man, but Shaggy
seemed much pleased that his old friend’s
importance had been recognized by the ruler of
this remarkable country. The Citizen now began to
question Tik-Tok, who told in his mechanical voice
about Shaggy’s quest of his lost brother, and how
Ozma of Oz had sent the Clockwork Man to assist
him, and how they had fallen in with Queen Ann and
her people from Oogaboo. Also he told how Betsy
and Hank and Polychrome and the Rose Princess had
happened to join their party.

“And you intended to conquer Ruggedo, the Metal
Monarch and King of the Nomes?” asked the Citizen.

“Yes. That seemed the on-ly thing for us to do,”
was Tik-Tok’s reply. “But he was too cle-ver for
us. When we got close to his cav-ern he made our
path lead to the Tube, and made the op-en-ing in-
vis-i-ble, so that we all fell in-to it be-fore we
knew it was there. It was an eas-y way to get rid
of us and now Rug-gedo is safe and we are far a-
way in a strange land.”

The Citizen was silent a moment and seemed to be
thinking. Then he said:

“Most noble Private Soldier, I must inform you
that by the laws of our country anyone who comes
through the Forbidden Tube must be tortured for
nine days and ten nights and then thrown back into
the Tube. But it is wise to disregard laws when
they conflict with justice, and it seems that you
and your followers did not disobey our laws
willingly, being forced into the Tube by Ruggedo.
Therefore the Nome King is alone to blame, and he
alone must be punished.”

“That suits me,” said Tik-Tok. “But Rug-ge-do
is on the o-ther side of the world where he is
a-way out of your reach.”

The Citizen drew himself up proudly.

“Do you imagine anything in the world or upon it
can be out of the reach of the Great Jinjin?” he
asked.

“Oh! Are you, then, the Great Jinjin?” inquired
Tik-Tok.

“I am.”

“Then your name is Ti-ti-ti-Hoo-choo?”

“It is.”

Queen Ann gave a scream and began to tremble.
Shaggy was so disturbed that he took out a
handkerchief and wiped the perspiration from his
brow. Polychrome looked sober and uneasy for the
first time, while Files put his arms around the
Rose Princess as if to protect her. As for the
officers, the name of the great Jinjin set them
moaning and weeping at a great rate and every one
fell upon his knees before the throne, begging for
mercy. Betsy was worried at seeing her companions
so disturbed, but did not know what it was all
about. Only Tik-Tok was unmoved at the discovery.

“Then,” said he, “if you are Ti-ti-ti-Hoo-choo,
and think Rug-ge-do is to blame, I am sure that
some-thing queer will hap-pen to the King of the
Nomes.”

“I wonder what ’twill be,” said Betsy.

The Private Citizen–otherwise known as Tititi-
Hoochoo, the Great Jinjin–looked at the little
girl steadily.

“I will presently decide what is to happen to
Ruggedo,” said he in a hard, stern voice. Then,
turning to the throng of Kings and Queens, he
continued: “Tik-Tok has spoken truly, for his
machinery will not allow him to lie, nor will it
allow his thoughts to think falsely. Therefore
these people are not our enemies and must be
treated with consideration and justice. Take them
to your palaces and entertain them as guests until
to-morrow, when I command that they be brought
again to my Residence. By then I shall have formed
my plans.”

No sooner had Tititi-Hoochoo spoken than he
disappeared from sight. Immediately after, most of
the Kings and Queens likewise disappeared. But
several of them remained visible and approached
the strangers with great respect. One of the
lovely Queens said to Betsy:

“I trust you will honor me by being my guest. I
am Erma, Queen of Light.”

“May Hank come with me?” asked the girl.

“The King of Animals will care for your mule,”
was the reply. “But do not fear for him, for he
will be treated royally. All of your party will be
reunited on the morrow.”

“I–I’d like to have some one with me,” said
Betsy, pleadingly.

Queen Erma looked around and smiled upon
Polychrome.

“Will the Rainbow’s Daughter be an agreeable
companion?” she asked.

“Oh, yes!” exclaimed the girl.

So Polychrome and Betsy became guests of the
Queen of Light, while other beautiful Kings and
Queens took charge of the others of the party.

The two girls followed Erma out of the hall
and through the gardens of the Residence to a
village of pretty dwellings. None of these was so
large or imposing as the castle of the Private
Citizen, but all were handsome enough to be
called palaces–as, in fact, they really were.

 

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