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|The Magic of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
23. The Fountain of Oblivion
|Page 3 of 4||
"I do not seem to know anything," he replied.
"It's very curious," remarked the Wizard. "He wears the dress of the Munchkins, so he must have lived at one time in the Munchkin Country. Of course the boy can tell us nothing of his history or his family, for he has forgotten all that he ever knew."
"He seems a nice boy, now that all the wickedness has gone from him," said Ozma. "So we will keep him here with us and teach him our ways--to be true and considerate of others."
"Why, in that case, it's lucky for him he drank the Water of Oblivion," said Dorothy.
"It is indeed," agreed the Wizard. "But the remarkable thing, to me, is how such a young boy ever learned the secret of the Magic Word of Transformation. Perhaps his companion, who is at present this walnut, was the real magician, although I seem to remember that it was this boy in the beast's form who whispered the Magic Word into the hollow tree, where I overheard it."
"Well, we will soon know who the other is," suggested Ozma. "He may prove to be another Munchkin boy."
The Wizard placed the walnut near the fountain and said, as slowly and solemnly as before:
"I want you to resume your natural form, and to be very thirsty--Pyrzqxgl!"
Then the walnut disappeared and Ruggedo the Nome stood in its place. He also was facing the fountain, and he reached for the cup, filled it, and was about to drink when Dorothy exclaimed:
"Why, it's the old Nome King!"
Ruggedo swung around and faced them, the cup still in his hand.
"Yes," he said in an angry voice, "it's the old Nome King, and I'm going to conquer all Oz and be revenged on you for kicking me out of my throne." He looked around a moment, and then continued: "There isn't an egg in sight, and I'm stronger than all of you people put together! I don't know how I came here, but I'm going to fight the fight of my life--and I'll win!"
His long white hair and beard waved in the breeze; his eyes flashed hate and vengeance, and so astonished and shocked were they by the sudden appearance of this old enemy of the Oz people that they could only stare at him in silence and shrink away from his wild glare.
Ruggedo laughed. He drank the water, threw the cup on the ground and said fiercely:
"And now--and now--and--"
His voice grew gentle. He rubbed his forehead with a puzzled air and stroked his long beard.
"What was I going to say?" he asked, pleadingly.
"Don't you remember?" said the Wizard.
"No; I've forgotten."
"Who ARE you?" asked Dorothy.
He tried to think. "I--I'm sure I don't know," he stammered.
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|The Magic of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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