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Chapter 17 – Under the Great Dome

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

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When Glinda the Good and her followers of the Rescue
Expedition came in sight of the Enchanted Mountain of
the Flatheads, it was away to the left of them, for the
route they had taken through the Great Forest was some
distance from that followed by Ozma and Dorothy.

They halted awhile to decide whether they should call
upon the Supreme Dictator first, or go on to the Lake
of the Skeezers.

“If we go to the mountain,” said the Wizard, “we may
get into trouble with that wicked Su-dic, and then we
would be delayed in rescuing Ozma and Dorothy. So I
think our best plan will be to go to the Skeezer
Country, raise the sunken island and save our friends
and the imprisoned Skeezers. Afterward we can visit the
mountain and punish the cruel magician of the
Flatheads.”

“That is sensible,” approved the Shaggy Man. “I quite
agree with you.”

The others, too, seemed to think the Wizard’s plan
the best, and Glinda herself commended it, so on they
marched toward the line of palm trees that hid the
Skeezers’ lake from view.

Pretty soon they came to the palms. These were set
closely together, the branches, which came quite to the
ground, being so tightly interlaced that even the Glass
Cat could scarcely find a place to squeeze through. The
path which the Flatheads used was some distance away.

“Here’s a job for the Tin Woodman,” said the
Scarecrow.

So the Tin Woodman, who was always glad to be of use,
set to work with his sharp, gleaming axe, which he
always carried, and in a surprisingly short time had
chopped away enough branches to permit them all to pass
easily through the trees.

Now the clear waters of the beautiful lake were
before them and by looking closely they could see the
outlines of the Great Dome of the sunken island, far
from shore and directly in the center of the lake.

Of course every eye was at first fixed upon this
dome, where Ozma and Dorothy and the Skeezers were
still fast prisoners. But soon their attention was
caught by a more brilliant sight, for here was the
Diamond Swan swimming just before them, its long neck
arched proudly, the amethyst eyes gleaming and all the
diamond-sprinkled feathers glistening splendidly under
the rays of the sun.

“That,” said Glinda, “is the transformation of Queen
Coo-ce-oh, the haughty and wicked witch who betrayed
the three Adepts at Magic and treated her people like
slaves.”

“She’s wonderfully beautiful now,” remarked the
Frogman.

“It doesn’t seem like much of a punishment,” said
Trot. “The Flathead Su-dic ought to have made her a
toad.”

“I am sure Coo-ee-oh is punished,” said Glinda, “for
she has lost all her magic power and her grand palace
and can no longer misrule the poor Skeezers.”

“Let us call to her, and hear what she has to say,”
proposed the Wizard.

So Glinda beckoned the Diamond Swan, which swam
gracefully to a position near them. Before anyone could
speak Coo-ee-oh called to them in a rasping voice —
for the voice of a swan is always harsh and unpleasant
— and said with much pride:

“Admire me, Strangers! Admire the lovely Coo-ee-oh,
the handsomest creature in all Oz. Admire me!”

“Handsome is as handsome does,” replied the
Scarecrow. “Are your deeds lovely, Coo-ce-oh?”

“Deeds? What deeds can a swan do but swim around and
give pleasure to all beholders?” said the sparkling
bird.

“Have you forgotten your former life? Have you
forgotten your magic and witchcraft?” inquired the
Wizard.

“Magic — witchcraft? Pshaw, who cares for such silly
things?” retorted Coo-ee-oh. “As for my past life, it
seems like an unpleasant dream. I wouldn’t go back to
it if I could. Don’t you admire my beauty, Strangers?”

“Tell us, Coo-ee-oh,” said Glinda earnestly, “if you
can recall enough of your witchcraft to enable us to
raise the sunken island to the surface of the lake.
Tell us that and I’ll give you a string of pearls to
wear around your neck and add to your beauty.”

“Nothing can add to my beauty, for I’m the most
beautiful creature anywhere in the whole world.”

“But how can we raise the island?”

“I don’t know and I don’t care. If ever I knew I’ve
forgotten, and I’m glad of it,” was the response. “Just
watch me circle around and see me glitter!

“It’s no use,” said Button Bright; “the old Swan is
too much in love with herself to think of anything
else.”

“That’s a fact,” agreed Betsy with a sigh; “but we’ve
got to get Ozma and Dorothy out of that lake, somehow
or other.”

“And we must do it in our own way,” added the
Scarecrow.

“But how?” asked Uncle Henry in a grave voice, for he
could not bear to think of his dear niece Dorothy being
out there under water; “how shall we do it?”

“Leave that to Glinda,” advised the Wizard, realizing
he was helpless to do it himself.

“If it were just an ordinary sunken island,” said the
powerful sorceress, “there would be several ways by
which I might bring it to the surface again. But this
is a Magic Isle, and by some curious art of witchcraft,
unknown to any but Queen Coo-ce-oh, it obeys certain
commands of magic and will not respond to any other. I
do not despair in the least, but it will require some
deep study to solve this difficult problem. If the Swan
could only remember the witchcraft that she invented
and knew as a woman, I could force her to tell me the
secret, but all her former knowledge is now forgotten.”

“It seems to me,” said the Wizard after a brief
silence had followed Glinda’s speech, “that there are
three fishes in this lake that used to be Adepts at
Magic and from whom Coo-ee-oh stole much of her
knowledge. If we could find those fishes and return
them to their former shapes, they could doubtless tell
us what to do to bring the sunken island to the
surface.”

“I have thought of those fishes,” replied Glinda,
“but among so many fishes as this lake contains how are
we to single them out?”

You will understand, of course, that had Glinda been
at home in her castle, where the Great Book of Records
was, she would have known that Ervic the Skeezer
already had taken the gold and silver and bronze fishes
from the lake. But that act had been recorded in the
Book after Glinda had set out on this journey, so it
was all unknown to her.

“I think I see a boat yonder on the shore,” said Ojo
the Munchkin boy, pointing to a place around the edge
of the lake. “If we could get that boat and row all
over the lake, calling to the magic fishes, we might be
able to find them.”

“Let us go to the boat,” said the Wizard.

They walked around the lake to where the boat was
stranded upon the beach, but found it empty. It was a
mere shell of blackened steel, with a collapsible roof
that, when in position, made the submarine watertight,
but at present the roof rested in slots on either side
of the magic craft. There were no oars or sails, no
machinery to make the boat go, and although Glinda
promptly realized it was meant to be operated by
witchcraft, she was not acquainted with that sort of
magic.

“However,” said she, “the boat is merely a boat, and
I believe I can make it obey a command of sorcery, as
well as it did the command of witchcraft. After I have
given a little thought to the matter, the boat will
take us wherever we desire to go.”

“Not all of us,” returned the Wizard, “for it won’t
hold so many. But, most noble Sorceress, provided you
can make the boat go, of what use will it be to us?”

“Can’t we use it to catch the three fishes?” asked
Button Bright.

“It will not be necessary to use the boat for that
purpose,” replied Glinda. “Wherever in the lake the
enchanted fishes may be, they will answer to my call.
What I am trying to discover is how the boat came to be
on this shore, while the island on which it belongs is
under water yonder. Did Coo-ee-oh come here in the boat
to meet the Flatheads before the island was sunk, or
afterward?”

No one could answer that question, of course; but
while they pondered the matter three young men advanced
from the line of trees, and rather timidly bowed to the
strangers.

“Who are you, and where did you come from?” inquired
the Wizard.

“We are Skeezers,” answered one of them, “and our
home is on the Magic Isle of the Lake. We ran away when
we saw you coming, and hid behind the trees, but as you
are Strangers and seem to be friendly we decided to
meet you, for we are in great trouble and need
assistance.”

“If you belong on the island, why are you here?”
demanded Glinda.

So they told her all the story: How the Queen had
defied the Flatheads and submerged the whole island so
that her enemies could not get to it or destroy it;
how, when the Flatheads came to the shore, Coo-ee-oh
had commanded them, together with their friend Ervic,
to go with her in the submarine to conquer the Su-dic,
and how the boat had shot out from the basement of the
sunken isle, obeying a magic word, and risen to the
surface, where it opened and floated upon the water.

Then followed the account of how the Su-dic had
transformed Coo-ee-oh into a swan, after which she had
forgotten all the witchcraft she ever knew. The young
men told how, in the night when they were asleep, their
comrade Ervic had mysteriously disappeared, while the
boat in some strange manner had floated to the shore
and stranded upon the beach.

That was all they knew. They had searched in vain for
three days for Ervic. As their island was under water
and they could not get back to it, the three Skeezers
had no place to go, and so had waited patiently beside
their boat for something to happen.

Being questioned by Glinda and the Wizard, they told
all they knew about Ozma and Dorothy and declared the
two girls were still in the village under the Great
Dome. They were quite safe and would be well cared for
by Lady Aurex, now that the Queen who opposed them was
out of the way.

When they had gleaned all the information they could
from these Skeezers, the Wizard said to Glinda:

“If you find you can make this boat obey your
sorcery, you could have it return to the island,
submerge itself, and enter the door in the basement
from which it came. But I cannot see that our going to
the sunken island would enable our friends to escape.
We would only Join them as prisoners.”

“Not so, friend Wizard,” replied Glinda. “If the boat
would obey my commands to enter the basement door, it
would also obey my commands to come out again, and I
could bring Ozma and Dorothy back with me.”

“And leave all of our people still imprisoned?” asked
one of the Skeezers reproachfully.

“By making several trips in the boat, Glinda could
fetch all your people to the shore,” replied the
Wizard.

“But what could they do then?” inquired another
Skeezer. “They would have no homes and no place to go,
and would be at the mercy of their enemies, the
Flatheads.”

“That is true,” said Glinda the Good. “And as these
people are Ozma’s subjects, I think she would refuse to
escape with Dorothy and leave the others behind, or to
abandon the island which is the lawful home of the
Skeezers. I believe the best plan will be to summon the
three fishes and learn from them how to raise the
island.”

The little Wizard seemed to think that this was
rather a forlorn hope.

“How will you summon them,” he asked the lovely
Sorceress, “and how can they hear you?”

“That is something we must consider carefully,”
responded stately Glinda, with a serene smile. “I
think I can find a way.”

All of Ozma’s counsellors applauded this sentiment,
for they knew well the powers of the Sorceress.

“Very well,” agreed the Wizard. “Summon them, most
noble Glinda.”

 

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