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|Tik-Tok of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
A Terrible Tumble Through a Tube
|Page 3 of 5||
Out came the officers, in quick succession, tumbling heels over head and striking the ground in many undignified attitudes.
"For the love of sassafras!" exclaimed a Peculiar Person who was hoeing pink violets in a garden. "What can all this mean?"
For answer, Queen Ann sailed up from the Tube, took a ride through the air as high as the treetops, and alighted squarely on top of the Peculiar Person's head, smashing a jeweled crown over his eyes and tumbling him to the ground.
The mule was heavier and had Betsy clinging to his back, so he did not go so high up. Fortunately for his little rider he struck the ground upon his four feet. Betsy was jarred a trifle but not hurt and when she looked around her she saw the Queen and the Peculiar Person struggling together upon the ground, where the man was trying to choke Ann and she had both hands in his bushy hair and was pulling with all her might. Some of the officers, when they got upon their feet, hastened to separate the combatants and sought to restrain the Peculiar Person so that he could not attack their Queen again.
By this time, Shaggy, Polychrome, Ozga and Files had all arrived and were curiously examining the strange country in which they found themselves and which they knew to be exactly on the opposite side of the world from the place where they had fallen into the Tube. It was a lovely place, indeed, and seemed to be the garden of some great Prince, for through the vistas of trees and shrubbery could be seen the towers of an immense castle. But as yet the only inhabitant to greet them was the Peculiar Person just mentioned, who had shaken off the grasp of the officers without effort and was now trying to pull the battered crown from off his eyes.
Shaggy, who was always polite, helped him to do this and when the man was free and could see again he looked at his visitors with evident amazement.
"Well, well, well!" he exclaimed. "Where did you come from and how did you get here?"
Betsy tried to answer him, for Queen Ann was surly and silent.
"I can't say, exac'ly where we came from, cause I don't know the name of the place," said the girl, "but the way we got here was through the Hollow Tube."
"Don't call it a 'hollow' Tube, please," exclaimed the Peculiar Person in an irritated tone of voice. "If~it's a tube, it's sure to be hollow."
"Why?" asked Betsy.
"Because all tubes are made that way. But this Tube is private property and everyone is forbidden to fall into it."
"We didn't do it on purpose," explained Betsy, and Polychrome added: "I am quite sure that Ruggedo, the Nome King, pushed us down that Tube."
"Ha! Ruggedo! Did you say Ruggedo?" cried the man, becoming much excited.
"That is what she said," replied Shaggy, "and I believe she is right. We were on our way to conquer the Nome King when suddenly we fell into the Tube."
"Then you are enemies of Ruggedo?" inquired the peculiar Person.
"Not exac'ly enemies," said Betsy, a little puzzled by the question, "'cause we don't know him at all; "but we started out to conquer him, which isn't as friendly as it might be."
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|Tik-Tok of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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