FictionForest

Chapter 14

L. Frank BaumOct 05, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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Now, the Goose was the transformation of old Ruggedo, who was at one
time King of the Nomes, and he was even more angry at Kiki Aru than
were the others who shapes had been changed. The Nome detested
anything in the way of a bird, because birds lay eggs and eggs are
feared by all the Nomes more than anything else in the world. A goose
is a foolish bird, too, and Ruggedo was dreadfully ashamed of the
shape he was forced to wear. And it would make him shudder to reflect
that the Goose might lay an egg!

So the Nome was afraid of himself and afraid of everything around
him. If an egg touched him he could then be destroyed, and almost any
animal he met in the forest might easily conquer him. And that would
be the end of old Ruggedo the Nome.

Aside from these fears, however, he was filled with anger against
Kiki, whom he had meant to trap by cleverly stealing from him the
Magic Word. The boy must have been crazy to spoil everything the way
he did, but Ruggedo knew that the arrival of the Wizard had scared
Kiki, and he was not sorry the boy had transformed the Wizard and
Dorothy and made them helpless. It was his own transformation that
annoyed him and made him indignant, so he ran about the forest hunting
for Kiki, so that he might get a better shape and coax the boy to
follow his plans to conquer the Land of Oz.

Kiki Aru hadn’t gone very far away, for he had surprised himself as
well as the others by the quick transformations and was puzzled as to
what to do next. Ruggedo the Nome was overbearing and tricky, and
Kiki knew he was not to be depended on; but the Nome could plan and
plot, which the Hyup boy was not wise enough to do, and so, when he
looked down through the branches of a tree and saw a Goose waddling
along below and heard it cry out, “Kiki Aru! Quack–quack! Kiki
Aru!” the boy answered in a low voice, “Here I am,” and swung himself
down to the lowest limb of the tree.

The Goose looked up and saw him.

“You’ve bungled things in a dreadful way!” exclaimed the Goose.
“Why did you do it?”

“Because I wanted to,” answered Kiki. “You acted as if I was your
slave, and I wanted to show these forest people that I am more
powerful than you.”

The Goose hissed softly, but Kiki did not hear that.

Old Ruggedo quickly recovered his wits and muttered to himself:
“This boy is the goose, although it is I who wear the goose’s shape.
I will be gentle with him now, and fierce with him when I have him in
my power.” Then he said aloud to Kiki:

“Well, hereafter I will be content to acknowledge you the master.
You bungled things, as I said, but we can still conquer Oz.”

“How?” asked the boy.

“First give me back the shape of the Li-Mon-Eag, and then we can
talk together more conveniently,” suggested the Nome.

“Wait a moment, then,” said Kiki, and climbed higher up the tree.
There he whispered the Magic Word and the Goose became a Li-Mon-Eag,
as he had been before.

“Good!” said the Nome, well pleased, as Kiki joined him by dropping
down from the tree. “Now let us find a quiet place where we can talk
without being overheard by the beasts.”

So the two started away and crossed the forest until they came to a
place where the trees were not so tall nor so close together, and
among these scattered trees was another clearing, not so large as the
first one, where the meeting of the beasts had been held. Standing on
the edge of this clearing and looking across it, they saw the trees on
the farther side full of monkeys, who were chattering together at a
great rate of the sights they had witnessed at the meeting.

The old Nome whispered to Kiki not to enter the clearing or allow
the monkeys to see them.

“Why not?” asked the boy, drawing back.

“Because those monkeys are to be our army–the army which will
conquer Oz,” said the Nome. “Sit down here with me, Kiki, and keep
quiet, and I will explain to you my plan.”

Now, neither Kiki Aru nor Ruggedo had noticed that a sly Fox had
followed them all the way from the tree where the Goose had been
transformed to the Li-Mon-Eag. Indeed, this Fox, who was none other
than the Wizard of Oz, had witnessed the transformation of the Goose
and now decided he would keep watch on the conspirators and see what
they would do next.

A Fox can move through a forest very softly, without making any
noise, and so the Wizard’s enemies did not suspect his presence. But
when they sat down by the edge of the clearing, to talk, with their
backs toward him, the Wizard did not know whether to risk being seen,
by creeping closer to hear what they said, or whether it would be
better for him to hide himself until they moved on again.

While he considered this question he discovered near him a great
tree which had a hollow trunk, and there was a round hole in this
tree, about three feet above the ground. The Wizard Fox decided it
would be safer for him to hide inside the hollow tree, so he sprang
into the hole and crouched down in the hollow, so that his eyes just
came to the edge of the hole by which he had entered, and from here he
watched the forms of the two Li-Mon-Eags.

“This is my plan,” said the Nome to Kiki, speaking so low that the
Wizard could only hear the rumble of his voice. “Since you can
transform anything into any form you wish, we will transform these
monkeys into an army, and with that army we will conquer the Oz people.”

“The monkeys won’t make much of an army,” objected Kiki.

“We need a great army, but not a numerous one,” responded the Nome.
“You will transform each monkey into a giant man, dressed in a fine
uniform and armed with a sharp sword. There are fifty monkeys over
there and fifty giants would make as big an army as we need.”

“What will they do with the swords?” asked Kiki. “Nothing can kill
the Oz people.”

“True,” said Ruggedo. “The Oz people cannot be killed, but they can
be cut into small pieces, and while every piece will still be alive,
we can scatter the pieces around so that they will be quite helpless.
Therefore, the Oz people will be afraid of the swords of our army, and
we will conquer them with ease.”

“That seems like a good idea,” replied the boy, approvingly. “And
in such a case, we need not bother with the other beasts of the forest.”

“No; you have frightened the beasts, and they would no longer
consent to assist us in conquering Oz. But those monkeys are foolish
creatures, and once they are transformed to Giants, they will do just
as we say and obey our commands. Can you transform them all at once?”

“No, I must take one at a time,” said Kiki. “But the fifty
transformations can be made in an hour or so. Stay here, Ruggedo, and
I will change the first monkey–that one at the left, on the end of
the limb–into a Giant with a sword.”

“Where are you going?” asked the Nome.

“I must not speak the Magic Word in the presence of another person,”
declared Kiki, who was determined not to allow his treacherous
companion to learn his secret, “so I will go where you cannot hear me.”

Ruggedo the Nome was disappointed, but he hoped still to catch the
boy unawares and surprise the Magic Word. So he merely nodded his
lion head, and Kiki got up and went back into the forest a short
distance. Here he spied a hollow tree, and by chance it was the same
hollow tree in which the Wizard of Oz, now in the form of a Fox, had
hidden himself.

As Kiki ran up to the tree the Fox ducked its head, so that it was
out of sight in the dark hollow beneath the hole, and then Kiki put
his face into the hole and whispered: “I want that monkey on the
branch at the left to become a Giant man fifty feet tall, dressed in a
uniform and with a sharp sword–Pyrzqxgl!”

Then he ran back to Ruggedo, but the Wizard Fox had heard quite
plainly every word that he had said.

The monkey was instantly transformed into the Giant, and the Giant
was so big that as he stood on the ground his head was higher than the
trees of the forest. The monkeys raised a great chatter but did not
seem to understand that the Giant was one of themselves.

“Good!” cried the Nome. “Hurry, Kiki, and transform the others.”

So Kiki rushed back to the tree and putting his face to the
hollow, whispered:

“I want the next monkey to be just like the first–Pyrzqxgl!”

Again the Wizard Fox heard the Magic Word, and just how it was
pronounced. But he sat still in the hollow and waited to hear it again,
so it would be impressed on his mind and he would not forget it.

Kiki kept running to the edge of the forest and back to the hollow
tree again until he had whispered the Magic Word six times and six
monkeys had been changed to six great Giants. Then the Wizard decided
he would make an experiment and use the Magic Word himself. So, while
Kiki was running back to the Nome, the Fox stuck his head out of the
hollow and said softly: “I want that creature who is running to become
a hickory-nut–Pyrzqxgl!”

Instantly the Li-Mon-Eag form of Kiki Aru the Hyup disappeared and a
small hickory-nut rolled upon the ground a moment and then lay still.

The Wizard was delighted, and leaped from the hollow just as Ruggedo
looked around to see what had become of Kiki. The Nome saw the Fox
but no Kiki, so he hastily rose to his feet. The Wizard did not know
how powerful the queer beast might be, so he resolved to take no chances.

“I want this creature to become a walnut–Pyrzqxgl!” he said aloud.
But he did not pronounce the Magic Word in quite the right way, and
Ruggedo’s form did not change. But the Nome knew at once that
“Pyrzqxgl!” was the Magic Word, so he rushed at the Fox and cried:

“I want you to become a Goose–Pyrzqxgl!”

But the Nome did not pronounce the word aright, either, having never
heard it spoken but once before, and then with a wrong accent. So the
Fox was not transformed, but it had to run away to escape being caught
by the angry Nome.

Ruggedo now began pronouncing the Magic Word in every way he could
think of, hoping to hit the right one, and the Fox, hiding in a bush,
was somewhat troubled by the fear that he might succeed. However, the
Wizard, who was used to magic arts, remained calm and soon remembered
exactly how Kiki Aru had pronounced the word. So he repeated the sentence
he had before uttered and Ruggedo the Nome became an ordinary walnut.

The Wizard now crept out from the bush and said: “I want my own form
again–Pyrzqxgl!”

Instantly he was the Wizard of Oz, and after picking up the
hickory-nut and the walnut, and carefully placing them in his pocket,
he ran back to the big clearing.

Dorothy the Lamb uttered a bleat of delight when she saw her old friend
restored to his natural shape. The others were all there, not having
found the Goose. The fat Gillikin woman, the Munchkin boy, the Rabbit
and the Glass Cat crowded around the Wizard and asked what had happened.

Before he explained anything of his adventure, he transformed them
all–except, of course, the Glass Cat–into their natural shapes, and
when their joy permitted them to quiet somewhat, he told how he had by
chance surprised the Magician’s secret and been able to change the two
Li-Mon-Eags into shapes that could not speak, and therefore would be
unable to help themselves. And the little Wizard showed his
astonished friends the hickory-nut and the walnut to prove that he had
spoken the truth.

“But–see here!”–exclaimed Dorothy. “What has become of those
Giant Soldiers who used to be monkeys?”

“I forgot all about them!” admitted the Wizard; “but I suppose they
are still standing there in the forest.”

 

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