FictionForest

Chapter 23 – Ruggedo Reforms

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

Light off Small Medium Large

It did not take them long to regain the royal
cavern of the Nome King, where Kaliko ordered
served to them the nicest refreshments the place
afforded.

Ruggedo had come trailing along after the rest
of the party and while no one paid any attention
to the old King they did not offer any objection
to his presence or command him to leave them. He
looked fearfully to see if the eggs were still
guarding the entrance, but they had now
disappeared; so he crept into the cavern after the
others and humbly squatted down in a corner of the
room.

There Betsy discovered him. All of the little
girl’s companions were now so happy at the success
of Shaggy’s quest for his brother, and the
laughter and merriment seemed so general, that
Betsy’s heart softened toward the friendless old
man who had once been their bitter enemy, and she
carried to him some of the food and drink.
Ruggedo’s eyes filled with tears at this
unexpected kindness. He took the child’s hand in
his own and pressed it gratefully.

“Look here, Kaliko,” said Betsy, addressing the
new King, “what’s the use of being hard on
Ruggedo? All his magic power is gone, so he can’t
do any more harm, and I’m sure he’s sorry he acted
so badly to everybody.”

“Are you?” asked Kaliko, looking down at his
former master.

“I am,” said Ruggedo. “The girl speaks truly.
I’m sorry and I’m harmless. I don’t want to wander
through the wide world, on top of the ground, for
I’m a nome. No nome can ever be happy any place
but underground.”

“That being the case,” said Kaliko, “I will let
you stay here as long as you behave yourself;
but, if you try to act badly again, I shall drive
you out, as Tititi-Hoochoo has commanded, and
you’ll have to wander.”

“Never fear. I’ll behave,” promised Ruggedo. “It
is hard work being a King, and harder still to be
a good King. But now that I am a common nome I am
sure I can lead a blameless life.”

They were all pleased to hear this and to know
that Ruggedo had really reformed.

“I hope he’ll keep his word,” whispered Betsy to
Shaggy; “but if he gets bad again we will be far
away from the Nome Kingdom and Kaliko will have to
‘tend to the old nome himself.”

Polychrome had been a little restless during the
last hour or two. The lovely Daughter of the Rain
how knew that she had now done all in her power to
assist her earth friends, and so she began to long
for her sky home.

“I think,” she said, after listening intently,
“that it is beginning to rain. The Rain King is my
uncle, you know, and perhaps he has read my
thoughts and is going to help me. Anyway I must
take a look at the sky and make sure.”

So she jumped up and ran through the passage to
the outer entrance, and they all followed after
her and grouped themselves on a ledge of the
mountain-side. Sure enough, dark clouds had filled
the sky and a slow, drizzling rain had set in.

“It can’t last for long,” said Shaggy, looking
upward, “and when it stops we shall lose the sweet
little fairy we have learned to love. Alas,” he
continued, after a moment, “the clouds are already
breaking in the west, and–see!–isn’t that the
Rainbow coming?”

Betsy didn’t look at the sky; she looked at
Polychrome, whose happy, smiling face surely
foretold the coming of her father to take her to
the Cloud Palaces. A moment later a gleam of
sunshine flooded the mountain and a gorgeous
Rainbow appeared.

With a cry of gladness Polychrome sprang upon a
point of rock and held out her arms. Straightway
the Rainbow descended until its end was at her
very feet, when with a graceful leap she sprang
upon it and was at once clasped in
the arms of her radiant sisters, the Daughters of
the Rainbow. But Polychrome released herself
to lean over the edge of the glowing arch and
nod, and smile and throw a dozen kisses to her
late comrades.

“Good-bye!” she called, and they all shouted
“Good-bye!” in return and waves their hands to
their pretty friend.

Slowly the magnificent bow lifted and melted
into the sky, until the eyes of the earnest
watchers saw only fleecy clouds flitting across
the blue.

“I’m dreadful sorry to see Polychrome go,”
said Betsy, who felt like crying; “but I s’pose
she’ll be a good deal happier with her sisters in
the sky palaces.”

“To be sure,” returned Shaggy, nodding
gravely. “It’s her home, you know, and those
poor wanderers who, like ourselves, have no
home, can realize what the means to her.”

“Once,” said Betsy, “I, too, had a home. Now,
I’ve only–only–dear old Hank!”

She twined her arms around her shaggy friend who
was not human, and he said: “Hee-haw!” in a tone
that showed he understood her mood. And the shaggy
friend who was human stroked the child’s head
tenderly and said: “You’re wrong about that,
Betsy, dear. I will never desert you.”

“Nor I!” exclaimed Shaggy’s brother, in earnest
tones.

The little girl looked up at them gratefully,
and her eyes smiled through their tears.

“All right,” she said. “It’s raining again, so
let’s go back into the cavern.”

Rather soberly, for all loved Polychrome and
would miss her, they reentered the dominions of
the Nome King.

 

Leave a Reply