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|Tik-Tok of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
A Terrible Tumble Through a Tube
|Page 2 of 5||
"Mercy, no!" answered the little girl. "How could anyone be safe when she's going about sixty miles a minute?" Then, after a pause, she added: "But where do you s'pose we're going to, Your Maj'sty?"
"Don't ask her that, please don't!" said Shaggy, who was not too far away to overhear them. "And please don't ask me why, either."
"Why?" said Betsy.
"No one can tell where we are going until we get there," replied Shaggy, and then he yelled "Ouch!" for Polychrome had overtaken him and was now sitting on his head.
The Rainbow's Daughter laughed merrily, and so infectious was this joyous laugh that Betsy echoed it and Hank said "Hee haw!" in a mild and sympathetic tone of voice.
"I'd like to know where and when we'll arrive, just the same," exclaimed the little girl.
"Be patient and you'll find out, my dear," said Polychrome. "But isn't this an odd experience? Here am I, whose home is in the skies, making a journey through the center of the earth--where I never expected to be!"
"How do you know we're in the center of the earth?" asked Betsy, her voice trembling a little through nervousness.
"Why, we can t be anywhere else," replied Polychrome. "I have often heard of this passage, which was once built by a Magician who was a great traveler. He thought it would save him the bother of going around the earth's surface, but he tumbled through the Tube so fast that he shot out at the other end and hit a star in the sky, which at once exploded."
"The star exploded?" asked Betsy wonderingly.
"Yes; the Magician hit it so hard."
"And what became of the Magician?" inquired the girl.
"No one knows that," answered Polychrome. "But I don't think it matters much."
"It matters a good deal, if we also hit the stars when we come out," said Queen Ann, with a moan.
"Don't worry," advised Polychrome. "I believe the Magician was going the other way, and probably he went much faster than we are going."
"It's fast enough to suit me," remarked Shaggy, gently removing Polychrome's heel from his left eye. "Couldn't you manage to fall all by yourself, my dear?"
"I'll try," laughed the Rainbow's Daughter.
All this time they were swiftly falling through the Tube, and it was not so easy for them to talk as you may imagine when you read their words. But although they were so helpless and altogether in the dark as to their fate, the fact that they were able to converse at all cheered them, considerably.
Files and Ozga were also conversing as they clung tightly to one another, and the young fellow bravely strove to reassure the Princess, although he was terribly frightened, both on her account and on his own.
An hour, under such trying circumstances, is a very long time, and for more than an hour they continued their fearful journey. Then, just as they began to fear the Tube would never end, Tik-Tok popped out into broad daylight and, after making a graceful circle in the air, fell with a splash into a great marble fountain.
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|Tik-Tok of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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