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Chapter 18 – Inga Parts with his Pink Pearl

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

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The White Pearl guided Inga truly in his pursuit of the
boat of King Gos, but the boy had been so delayed in
sending his people home to Pingaree that it was a full
day after Gos and Cor landed on the shore of the
Wheeler Country that Inga’s boat arrived at the same
place.

There he found the forty rowers guarding the barge of
Queen Cor, and although they would not or could not
tell the boy where the King and Queen had taken his
father and mother, the White Pearl advised him to
follow the path to the country and the caverns of the
nomes.

Rinkitink didn’t like to undertake the rocky and
mountainous journey, even with Bilbil to carry him, but
he would not desert Inga, even though his own kingdom
lay just beyond a range of mountains which could be
seen towering southwest of them. So the King bravely
mounted the goat, who always grumbled but always obeyed
his master, and the three set off at once for the
caverns of the nomes.

They traveled just as slowly as Queen Cor and King
Gos had done, so when they were about halfway they
discovered the King and Queen coming back to their
boat. The fact that Gos and Cor were now alone proved
that they had left Inga’s father and mother behind
them; so, at the suggestion of Rinkitink, the three hid
behind a high rock until the King of Regos and the
Queen of Coregos, who had not observed them, had passed
them by. Then they continued their journey, glad that
they had not again been forced to fight or quarrel with
their wicked enemies.

“We might have asked them, however, what they had
done with your poor parents,” said Rinkitink.

“Never mind,” answered Inga. “I am sure the White
Pearl will guide us aright.”

For a time they proceeded in silence and then
Rinkitink began to chuckle with laughter in the
pleasant way he was wont to do before his misfortunes
came upon him.

“What amuses Your Majesty?” inquired the boy.

“The thought of how surprised my dear subjects would
be if they realized how near to them I am, and yet how
far away. I have always wanted to visit the Nome
Country, which is full of mystery and magic and all
sorts of adventures, but my devoted subjects forbade me
to think of such a thing, fearing I would get hurt or
enchanted.”

“Are you afraid, now that you are here?” asked Inga.

“A little, but not much, for they say the new Nome
King is not as wicked as the old King used to be.
Still, we are undertaking a dangerous journey and I
think you ought to protect me by lending me one of your
pearls.”

Inga thought this over and it seemed a reasonable
request.

“Which pearl would you like to have?” asked the boy.

“Well, let us see,” returned Rinkitink; “you may need
strength to liberate your captive parents, so you must
keep the Blue Pearl. And you will need the advice of
the White Pearl, so you had best keep that also. But in
case we should be separated I would have nothing to
protect me from harm, so you ought to lend me the Pink
Pearl.”

“Very well,” agreed Inga, and sitting down upon a
rock he removed his right shoe and after withdrawing
the cloth from the pointed toe took out the Pink Pearl
— the one which protected from any harm the person who
carried it.

“Where can you put it, to keep it safely?” he asked.

“In my vest pocket,” replied the King. “The pocket
has a flap to it and I can pin it down in such a way
that the pearl cannot get out and become lost. As for
robbery, no one with evil intent can touch my person
while I have the pearl.”

So Inga gave Rinkitink the Pink Pearl and the little
King placed it in the pocket of his red-and-green
brocaded velvet vest, pinning the flap of the pocket
down tightly.

They now resumed their journey and finally reached
the entrance to the Nome King’s caverns. Placing the
White Pearl to his ear, Inga asked: “What shall I do
now?” and the Voice of the Pearl replied: “Clap your
hands together four times and call aloud the word
‘Klik.’ Then allow yourselves to be conducted to the
Nome King, who is now holding your father and mother
captive.”

Inga followed these instructions and when Klik
appeared in answer to his summons the boy requested an
audience of the Nome King. So Klik led them into the
presence of King Kaliko, who was suffering from a
severe headache, due to his revelry the night before,
and therefore was unusually cross and grumpy.

“I know what you’ve come for,” said he, before Inga
could speak. “You want to get the captives from Regos
away from me; but you can’t do it, so you’d best go away
again.”

“The captives are my father and mother, and I intend
to liberate them,” said the boy firmly.

The King stared hard at Inga, wondering at his
audacity. Then he turned to look at King Rinkitink and
said:

“I suppose you are the King of Gilgad, which is in
the Kingdom of Rinkitink.”

“You’ve guessed it the first time,” replied
Rinkitink.

“How round and fat you are!” exclaimed Kaliko.

“I was just thinking how fat and round you are,” said
Rinkitink. “Really, King Kaliko, we ought to be
friends, we’re so much alike in everything but
disposition and intelligence.”

Then he began to chuckle, while Kaliko stared hard at
him, not knowing whether to accept his speech as a
compliment or not. And now the nome’s eyes wandered to
Bilbil, and he asked:

“Is that your talking goat?”

Bilbil met the Nome King’s glowering look with a gaze
equally surly and defiant, while Rinkitink answered:
“It is, Your Majesty.”

“Can he really talk?” asked Kaliko, curiously.

“He can. But the best thing he does is to scold. Talk
to His Majesty, Bilbil.”

But Bilbil remained silent and would not speak.

“Do you always ride upon his back?” continued Kaliko,
questioning Rinkitink.

“Yes,” was the answer, “because it is difficult for a
fat man to walk far, as perhaps you know from
experience.

“That is true,” said Kaliko. “Get off the goat’s back
and let me ride him a while, to see how I like it.
Perhaps I’ll take him away from you, to ride through my
caverns.”

Rinkitink chuckled softly as he heard this, but at
once got off Bilbil’s back and let Kaliko get on. The
Nome King was a little awkward, but when he was firmly
astride the saddle he called in a loud voice: “Giddap!”

When Bilbil paid no attention to the command and
refused to stir, Kaliko kicked his heels viciously
against the goat’s body, and then Bilbil made a sudden
start. He ran swiftly across the great cavern, until he
had almost reached the opposite wall, when he stopped
so abruptly that King Kaliko sailed over his head and
bumped against the jeweled wall. He bumped so hard that
the points of his crown were all mashed out of shape
and his head was driven far into the diamond-studded
band of the crown, so that it covered one eye and a
part of his nose. Perhaps this saved Kaliko’s head from
being cracked against the rock wall, but it was hard on
the crown.

Bilbil was highly pleased at the success of his feat
and Rinkitink laughed merrily at the Nome King’s
comical appearance; but Kaliko was muttering and
growling as he picked himself up and struggled to pull
the battered crown from his head, and it was evident
that he was not in the least amused. Indeed, Inga could
see that the King was very angry, and the boy knew that
the incident was likely to turn Kaliko against the
entire party.

The Nome King sent Klik for another crown and ordered
his workmen to repair the one that was damaged. While
he waited for the new crown he sat regarding his
visitors with a scowling face, and this made Inga more
uneasy than ever. Finally, when the new crown was
placed upon his head, King Kaliko said: “Follow me,
strangers!” and led the way to a small door at one end
of the cavern.

Inga and Rinkitink followed him through the doorway
and found themselves standing on a balcony that
overlooked an enormous domed cave — so extensive that
it seemed miles to the other side of it. All around
this circular cave, which was brilliantly lighted from
an unknown source, were arches connected with other
caverns.

Kaliko took a gold whistle from his pocket and blew a
shrill note that echoed through every part of the cave.
Instantly nomes began to pour in through the side
arches in great numbers, until the immense space was
packed with them as far as the eye could reach. All
were armed with glittering weapons of polished silver
and gold, and Inga was amazed that any King could
command so great an army.

They began marching and countermarching in very
orderly array until another blast of the gold whistle
sent them scurrying away as quickly as they had
appeared. And as soon as the great cave was again empty
Kaliko returned with his visitors to his own royal
chamber, where he once more seated himself upon his
ivory throne.

“I have shown you,” said he to Inga, “a part of my
bodyguard. The royal armies, of which this is only a
part, are as numerous as the sands of the ocean, and
live in many thousands of my underground caverns. You
have come here thinking to force me to give up the
captives of King Gos and Queen Cor, and I wanted to
convince you that my power is too mighty for anyone to
oppose. I am told that you are a wizard, and depend
upon magic to aid you; but you must know that the nomes
are not mortals, and understand magic pretty well
themselves, so if we are obliged to fight magic with
magic the chances are that we are a hundred times more
powerful than you can be. Think this over carefully, my
boy, and try to realize that you are in my power. I do
not believe you can force me to liberate King Kitticut
and Queen Garee, and I know that you cannot coax me to
do so, for I have given my promise to King Gos.
Therefore, as I do not wish to hurt you, I ask you to
go away peaceably and let me alone.”

“Forgive me if I do not agree with you, King Kaliko,”
answered the boy. “However difficult and dangerous my
task may be, I cannot leave your dominions until every
effort to release my parents has failed and left me
completely discouraged.”

“Very well,” said the King, evidently displeased. “I
have warned you, and now if evil overtakes you it is
your own fault. I’ve a headache to-day, so I cannot
entertain you properly, according to your rank; but
Klik will attend you to my guest chambers and to-morrow
I will talk with you again.”

This seemed a fair and courteous way to treat one’s
declared enemies, so they politely expressed the wish
that Kaliko’s headache would be better, and followed
their guide, Klik, down a well-lighted passage and
through several archways until they finally reached
three nicely furnished bedchambers which were cut from
solid gray rock and well lighted and aired by some
mysterious method known to the nomes.

The first of these rooms was given King Rinkitink,
the second was Inga’s and the third was assigned to
Bilbil the goat. There was a swinging rock door
between the third and second rooms and another between
the second and first, which also had a door that opened
upon the passage. Rinkitink’s room was the largest, so
it was here that an excellent dinner was spread by some
of the nome servants, who, in spite of their crooked
shapes, proved to be well trained and competent.

“You are not prisoners, you know,” said Klik; neither
are you welcome guests, having declared your purpose to
oppose our mighty King and all his hosts. But we bear
you no ill will, and you are to be well fed and cared
for as long as you remain in our caverns. Eat hearty,
sleep tight, and pleasant dreams to you.”

Saying this, he left them alone and at once Rinkitink
and Inga began to counsel together as to the best means
to liberate King Kitticut and Queen Garee. The White
Pearl’s advice was rather unsatisfactory to the boy,
just now, for all that the Voice said in answer to his
questions was: “Be patient, brave and determined.”

Rinkitink suggested that they try to discover in what
part of the series of underground caverns Inga’s
parents had been confined, as that knowledge was
necessary before they could take any action; so
together they started out, leaving Bilbil asleep in his
room, and made their way unopposed through many
corridors and caverns. In some places were great
furnaces, where gold dust was being melted into bricks.
In other rooms workmen were fashioning the gold into
various articles and ornaments. In one cavern immense
wheels revolved which polished precious gems, and they
found many caverns used as storerooms, where treasure
of every sort was piled high. Also they came to the
barracks of the army and the great kitchens.

There were nomes everywhere — countless thousands of
them — but none paid the slightest heed to the
visitors from the earth’s surface. Yet, although Inga
and Rinkitink walked until they were weary, they were
unable to locate the place where the boy’s father and
mother had been confined, and when they tried to return
to their own rooms they found that they had hopelessly
lost themselves amid the labyrinth of passages.
However, Klik presently came to them, laughing at their
discomfiture, and led them back to their bedchambers.

Before they went to sleep they carefully barred the
door from Rinkitink’s room to the corridor, but the
doors that connected the three rooms one with another
were left wide open.

In the night Inga was awakened by a soft grating
sound that filled him with anxiety because he could not
account for it. It was dark in his room, the light
having disappeared as soon as he got into bed, but he
managed to feel his way to the door that led to
Rinkitink’s room and found it tightly closed and
immovable. Then he made his way to the opposite door,
leading to Bilbil’s room, to discover that also had
been closed and fastened.

The boy had a curious sensation that all of his room
— the walls, floor and ceiling — was slowly whirling
as if on a pivot, and it was such an uncomfortable
feeling that he got into bed again, not knowing what
else to do. And as the grating noise had ceased and the
room now seemed stationary, he soon fell asleep again.

When the boy wakened, after many hours, he found the
room again light. So he dressed himself and discovered
that a small table, containing a breakfast that was
smoking hot, had suddenly appeared in the center of
his room. He tried the two doors, but finding that he
could not open them he ate some breakfast, thoughtfully
wondering who had locked him in and why he had been
made a prisoner. Then he again went to the door which
he thought led to Rinkitink’s chamber and to his
surprise the latch lifted easily and the door swung
open.

Before him was a rude corridor hewn in the rock and
dimly lighted. It did not look inviting, so Inga closed
the door, puzzled to know what had become of
Rinkitink’s room and the King, and went to the opposite
door. Opening this, he found a solid wall of rock
confronting him, which effectually prevented his escape
in that direction.

The boy now realized that King Kaliko had tricked
him, and while professing to receive him as a guest had
plotted to separate him from his comrades. One way had
been left, however, by which he might escape and he
decided to see where it led to.

So, going to the first door, he opened it and
ventured slowly into the dimly lighted corridor. When
he had advanced a few steps he heard the door of his
room slam shut behind him. He ran back at once, but the
door of rock fitted so closely into the wall that he
found it impossible to open it again. That did not
matter so much, however, for the room was a prison and
the only way of escape seemed ahead of him.

Along the corridor he crept until, turning a
corner, he found himself in a large domed cavern that
was empty and deserted. Here also was a dim light that
permitted him to see another corridor at the opposite
side; so he crossed the rocky floor of the cavern and
entered a second corridor. This one twisted and turned
in every direction but was not very long, so soon the
boy reached a second cavern, not so large as the first.
This he found vacant also, but it had another corridor
leading out of it, so Inga entered that. It was
straight and short and beyond was a third cavern, which
differed little from the others except that it had a
strong iron grating at one side of it.

All three of these caverns had been roughly hewn from
the rock and it seemed they had never been put to use,
as had all the other caverns of the nomes he had
visited. Standing in the third cavern, Inga saw what he
thought was still another corridor at its farther side,
so he walked toward it. This opening was dark, and that
fact, and the solemn silence all around him, made him
hesitate for a while to enter it. Upon reflection,
however, he realized that unless he explored the place
to the very end he could not hope to escape from it, so
he boldly entered the dark corridor and felt his way
cautiously as he moved forward.

Scarcely had he taken two paces when a crash
resounded back of him and a heavy sheet of steel closed
the opening into the cavern from which he had just
come. He paused a moment, but it still seemed best to
proceed, and as Inga advanced in the dark, holding his
hands outstretched before him to feel his way,
handcuffs fell upon his wrists and locked themselves
with a sharp click, and an instant later he found he
was chained to a stout iron post set firmly in the rock
floor.

The chains were long enough to permit him to move a
yard or so in any direction and by feeling the walls he
found he was in a small circular room that had no
outlet except the passage by which he had entered, and
that was now closed by the door of steel. This was the
end of the series of caverns and corridors.

It was now that the horror of his situation occurred
to the boy with full force. But he resolved not to
submit to his fate without a struggle, and realizing
that he possessed the Blue Pearl, which gave him
marvelous strength, he quickly broke the chains and set
himself free of the handcuffs. Next he twisted the
steel door from its hinges, and creeping along the
short passage, found himself in the third cave.

But now the dim light, which had before guided him,
had vanished; yet on peering into the gloom of the cave
he saw what appeared to be two round disks of flame,
which cast a subdued glow over the floor and walls. By
this dull glow he made out the form of an enormous man,
seated in the center of the cave, and he saw that the
iron grating had been removed, permitting the man to
enter.

The giant was unclothed and its limbs were thickly
covered with coarse red hair. The round disks of flame
were its two eyes and when it opened its mouth to yawn
Inga saw that its jaws were wide enough to crush a
dozen men between the great rows of teeth.

Presently the giant looked up and perceived the boy
crouching at the other side of the cavern, so he called
out in a hoarse, rude voice:

“Come hither, my pretty one. We will wrestle
together, you and I, and if you succeed in throwing me
I will let you pass through my cave.”

The boy made no reply to the challenge. He realized
he was in dire peril and regretted that he had lent the
Pink Pearl to King Rinkitink. But it was now too late
for vain regrets, although he feared that even his
great strength would avail him little against this
hairy monster. For his arms were not long enough to
span a fourth of the giant’s huge body, while the
monster’s powerful limbs would be likely to crush out
Inga’s life before he could gain the mastery.

Therefore the Prince resolved to employ other means
to combat this foe, who had doubtless been placed there
to bar his return. Retreating through the passage he
reached the room where he had been chained and wrenched
the iron post from its socket. It was a foot thick and
four feet long, and being of solid iron was so heavy
that three ordinary men would have found it hard to
lift.

Returning to the cavern, the boy swung the great bar
above his head and dashed it with mighty force full at
the giant. The end of the bar struck the monster upon
its forehead, and with a single groan it fell full
length upon the floor and lay still.

When the giant fell, the glow from its eyes faded
away, and all was dark. Cautiously, for Inga was not
sure the giant was dead, the boy felt his way toward
the opening that led to the middle cavern. The entrance
was narrow and the darkness was intense, but, feeling
braver now, the boy stepped boldly forward. Instantly
the floor began to sink beneath him and in great alarm
he turned and made a leap that enabled him to grasp the
rocky sides of the wall and regain a footing in the
passage through which he had just come.

Scarcely had he obtained this place of refuge when a
mighty crash resounded throughout the cavern and the
sound of a rushing torrent came from far below. Inga
felt in his pocket and found several matches, one of
which he lighted and held before him. While it
flickered he saw that the entire floor of the cavern
had fallen away, and knew that had he not instantly
regained his footing in the passage he would have
plunged into the abyss that lay beneath him.

By the light of another match he saw the opening at
the other side of the cave and the thought came to him
that possibly he might leap across the gulf. Of course,
this could never be accomplished without the marvelous
strength lent him by the Blue Pearl, but Inga had the
feeling that one powerful spring might carry him over
the chasm into safety. He could not stay where he was,
that was certain, so he resolved to make the attempt.

He took a long run through the first cave and the
short corridor; then, exerting all his strength, he
launched himself over the black gulf of the second
cave. Swiftly he flew and, although his heart stood
still with fear, only a few seconds elapsed before his
feet touched the ledge of the opposite passageway and
he knew he had safely accomplished the wonderful feat.

Only pausing to draw one long breath of relief, Inga
quickly traversed the crooked corridor that led to the
last cavern of the three. But when he came in sight of
it he paused abruptly, his eyes nearly blinded by a
glare of strong light which burst upon them. Covering
his face with his hands, Inga retreated behind a
projecting corner of rock and by gradually getting his
eyes used to the light he was finally able to gaze
without blinking upon the strange glare that had so
quickly changed the condition of the cavern. When he
had passed through this vault it had been entirely
empty. Now the flat floor of rock was covered
everywhere with a bed of glowing coals, which shot up
little tongues of red and white flames. Indeed, the
entire cave was one monster furnace and the heat that
came from it was fearful.

Inga’s heart sank within him as he realized the
terrible obstacle placed by the cunning Nome King
between him and the safety of the other caverns. There
was no turning back, for it would be impossible for him
again to leap over the gulf of the second cave, the
corridor at this side being so crooked that he could
get no run before he jumped. Neither could he leap over
the glowing coals of the cavern that faced him, for it
was much larger than the middle cavern. In this dilemma
he feared his great strength would avail him nothing
and he bitterly reproached himself for parting with the
Pink Pearl, which would have preserved him from injury.

However, it was not in the nature of Prince Inga to
despair for long, his past adventures having taught him
confidence and courage, sharpened his wits and given
him the genius of invention. He sat down and thought
earnestly on the means of escape from his danger and at
last a clever idea came to his mind. This is the way to
get ideas: never to let adverse circumstances
discourage you, but to believe there is a way out of
every difficulty, which may be found by earnest
thought.

There were many points and projections of rock in the
walls of the crooked corridor in which Inga stood and
some of these rocks had become cracked and loosened,
although still clinging to their places. The boy picked
out one large piece, and, exerting all his strength,
tore it away from the wall. He then carried it to the
cavern and tossed it upon the burning coals, about ten
feet away from the end of the passage. Then he returned
for another fragment of rock, and wrenching it free
from its place, he threw it ten feet beyond the first
one, toward the opposite side of the cave. The boy
continued this work until he had made a series of
stepping-stones reaching straight across the cavern to
the dark passageway beyond, which he hoped would lead
him back to safety if not to liberty.

When his work had been completed, Inga did not long
hesitate to take advantage of his stepping-stones, for
he knew his best chance of escape lay in his crossing
the bed of coals before the rocks became so heated that
they would burn his feet. So he leaped to the first
rock and from there began jumping from one to the other
in quick succession. A withering wave of heat at once
enveloped him, and for a time he feared he would
suffocate before he could cross the cavern; but he held
his breath, to keep the hot air from his lungs, and
maintained his leaps with desperate resolve.

Then, before he realized it, his feet were pressing
the cooler rocks of the passage beyond and he rolled
helpless upon the floor, gasping for breath. His skin
was so red that it resembled the shell of a boiled
lobster, but his swift motion had prevented his being
burned, and his shoes had thick soles, which saved his
feet.

After resting a few minutes, the boy felt strong
enough to go on. He went to the end of the passage and
found that the rock door by which he had left his room
was still closed, so he returned to about the middle of
the corridor and was thinking what he should do next,
when suddenly the solid rock before him began to move
and an opening appeared through which shone a brilliant
light. Shielding his eyes, which were somewhat dazzled,
Inga sprang through the opening and found himself in
one of the Nome King’s inhabited caverns, where before
him stood King Kaliko, with a broad grin upon his
features, and Klik, the King’s chamberlain, who looked
surprised, and King Rinkitink seated astride Bilbil the
goat, both of whom seemed pleased that Inga had
rejoined them.

 

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