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Chapter 19 – King Kaliko

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

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After the King had made good his escape Files said
to the dragon, in a sad voice:

“Alas! why did you not come before? Because you
were sleeping instead of conquering, the lovely
Rose Princess has become a fiddle without a how,
while poor Shaggy sits there a cooing dove!”

“Don’t worry,” replied Quox. “Tititi-Hoochoo
knows his business, and I have my orders from the
Great Jinjin himself. Bring the fiddle here and
touch it lightly to my pink ribbon.”

Files obeyed and at the moment of contact with
the ribbon the Nome King’s charm was broken and
the Rose Princess herself stood before them as
sweet and smiling as ever.

The dove, perched on the back of the throne, had
seen and heard all this, so without being told
what to do it flew straight to the dragon and
alighted on the ribbon. Next instant Shaggy was
himself again and Quox said to him grumblingly:

“Please get off my left toe, Shaggy Man, and be
more particular where you step.”

“I beg your pardon!” replied Shaggy, very
glad to resume his natural form. Then he ran
to lift the heavy diamond off Tik-Tok’s chest
and to assist the Clockwork Man to his feet.

“Ma-ny thanks!” said Tik-Tok. “Where is the
wicked King who want-ed to melt me in a cru-ci-
ble?”

“He has gone, and gone for good,” answered
Polychrome, who had managed to squeeze into the
room beside the dragon and had witnessed the
occurrences with much interest. “But I wonder
where Betsy Bobbin and Hank can be, and if any
harm has befallen them.”

“We must search the cavern until we find them,”
declared Shaggy; but when he went to the door
leading to the other caverns he found it shut and
barred.

“I’ve a pretty strong push in my forehead,” said
Quox, “and I believe I can break down that door,
even though it’s made of solid gold.”

“But you are a prisoner, and the chains that
hold you are fastened in some other room, so that
we cannot release you,” Files said anxiously.

“Oh, never mind that,” returned the dragon. “I
have remained a prisoner only because I wished to
be one,” and with this he stepped forward and
burst the stout chains as easily as if they had
been threads.

But when he tried to push in the heavy metal
door, even his mighty strength failed, and after
several attempts he gave it up and squatted
himself in a corner to think of a better way.

“I’ll o-pen the door,” asserted Tik-Tok, and
going to the King’s big gong he pounded upon It
until the noise was almost deafening.

Kaliko, in the next cavern, was wondering what
had happened to Ruggedo and if he had escaped the
eggs and outwitted the dragon. But when he heard
the sound of the gong, which had so often called
him into the King’s presence, he decided that
Ruggedo had been victorious; so he took away the
bar, threw open the door and entered the royal
cavern.

Great was his astonishment to find the King gone
and the enchantments removed from the Princess and
Shaggy. But the eggs were also gone and so Kaliko
advanced to the dragon, whom he knew to be
Tititi-Hoochoo’s messenger, and bowed humbly
before the beast.

“What is your will?” he inquired.

“Where is Betsy?” demanded the dragon.

“Safe in my own private room,” said Kaliko.

“Go and get her!” commanded Quox.

So Kaliko went to Betsy’s room and gave three
raps upon the door. The little girl had been
asleep, but she heard the raps and opened the
door.

“You may come out now,” said Kaliko. “The King
has fled in disgrace and your friends are asking
for you.”

So Betsy and Hank returned with the Royal
Chamberlain to the throne cavern, where she was
received with great joy by her friends. They told
her what had happened to Ruggedo and she told them
how kind Kaliko had been to her. Quox did not have
much to say until the conversation was ended, but
then he turned to Kaliko and asked:

“Do you suppose you could rule your nomes better
than Ruggedo has done?”

“Me?” stammered the Chamberlain, greatly
surprised by the question. “Well, I couldn’t be a
worse King, I’m sure.”

“Would the nomes obey you?” inquired the dragon.

“Of course,” said Kaliko. “They like me better
than ever they did Ruggedo.”

“Then hereafter you shall be the Metal Monarch,
King of the Nomes, and Tititi-Hoochoo expects you
to rule your Kingdom wisely and well,” said Quox.

“Hooray!” cried Betsy; “I’m glad of that. King
Kaliko, I salute Your Majesty and wish you joy in
your gloomy old Kingdom!”

“We all wish him joy,” said Polychrome; and then
the others made haste to congratulate the new
King.

“Will you release my dear brother?” asked
Shaggy.

“The Ugly One? Very willingly,” replied Kaliko.
“I begged Ruggedo long ago to send him away, but
he would not do so. I also offered to help your
brother to escape, but he would not go.”

“He’s so conscientious!” said Shaggy, highly
pleased. “All of our family have noble natures.
But is my dear brother well?” he added anxiously.

“He eats and sleeps very steadily,” replied the
new King.

“I hope he doesn’t work too hard,” said Shaggy.

“He doesn’t work at all. In fact, there is
nothing he can do in these dominions as well as
our nomes, whose numbers are so great that it
worries us to keep them all busy. So your brother
has only to amuse himself.”

“Why, it’s more like visiting, than being a
prisoner,” asserted Betsy.

“Not exactly,” returned Kaliko. “A prisoner
cannot go where or when he pleases, and is not
his own master.”

“Where is my brother now?” inquired Shaggy.

“In the Metal Forest.”

“Where is that?”

“The Metal Forest is in the Great Domed Cavern,
the largest in all our dominions,” replied Kaliko.
“It is almost like being out of doors, it is so
big, and Ruggedo made the wonderful forest to
amuse himself, as well as to tire out his hard-
working nomes. All the trees are gold and silver
and the ground is strewn with precious stones, so
it is a sort of treasury.”

“Let us go there at once and rescue my dear
brother,” pleaded Shaggy earnestly.

Kaliko hesitated.

“I don’t believe I can find the way,” said he.
“Ruggedo made three secret passages to the Metal
Forest, but he changes the location of these
passages every week, so that no one can get to the
Metal Forest without his permission. However, if
we look sharp, we may be able to discover one of
these secret ways.”

“That reminds me to ask what has become of Queen
Ann and the Officers of Oogaboo,” said Files.

“I’m sure I can’t say,” replied Kaliko.

“Do you suppose Ruggedo destroyed them?”

“Oh, no; I’m quite sure he didn’t. They fell
into the big pit in the passage, and we put the
cover on to keep them there; but when the
executioners went to look for them they had all
disappeared from the pit and we could find no
trace of them.”

“That’s funny,” remarked Betsy thoughtfully. “I
don’t believe Ann knew any magic, or she’d have
worked it before. But to disappear like that seems
like magic; now, doesn’t it?”

They agreed that it did, but no one could
explain the mystery.

“However,” said Shaggy, “they are gone, that is
certain, so we cannot help them or be helped by
them. And the important thing just now is to
rescue my dear brother from captivity.”

“Why do they call him the Ugly One?” asked
Betsy.

“I do not know,” confessed Shaggy. “I can not
remember his looks very well, it is so long since
I have seen him; but all of our family are noted
for their handsome faces.”

Betsy laughed and Shaggy seemed rather hurt; but
Polychrome relieved his embarrassment by saying
softly: “One can be ugly in looks, but lovely in
disposition.”

“Our first task,” said Shaggy, a little
comforted by this remark, “is to find one of those
secret passages to the Metal Forest.”

“True,” agreed Kaliko. “So I think I will
assemble the chief nomes of my kingdom in this
throne room and tell them that I am their new
King. Then I can ask them to assist us in
searching for the secret passages.

“That’s a good idea,” said the dragon, who
seemed to be getting sleepy again.

Kaliko went to the big gong and pounded on it
just as Ruggedo used to do; but no one answered
the summons.

“Of course not,” said he, jumping up from the
throne, where he had seated himself. “That is my
call, and I am still the Royal Chamberlain, and
will be until I appoint another in my place.”

So he ran out of the room and found Guph and
told him to answer the summons of the King’s gong.
Having returned to the royal cavern, Kaliko first
pounded the gong and then sat in the throne,
wearing Ruggedo’s discarded ruby crown and holding
in his hand the sceptre which Ruggedo had so often
thrown at his head.

When Guph entered he was amazed.

“Better get out of that throne before old
Ruggedo comes back,” he said warningly.

“He isn’t coming back, and I am now the King of
the Nomes, in his stead,” announced Kaliko.

“All of which is quite true,” asserted the
dragon, and all of those who stood around the
throne bowed respectfully to the new King.

Seeing this, Guph also bowed, for he was glad to
be rid of such a hard master as Ruggedo. Then
Kaliko, in quite a kingly way, informed Guph that
he was appointed the Royal Chamberlain, and
promised not to throw the sceptre at his head
unless he deserved it.

All this being pleasantly arranged, the new
Chamberlain went away to tell the news to all the
nomes of the underground Kingdom, every one of
whom would be delighted with the change in Kings.

 

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