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|Tik-Tok of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
The Long-Eared Hearer Learns by Listening
|Page 2 of 4||
"Aha! Then it will be some time before they arrive," said Ruggedo, "and when they get here I shall be ready to receive them.
He rushed to his gong and pounded upon it so fiercely that Kaliko came bounding into the cavern with one shoe off and one shoe on, for he was just dressing himself after a swim in the hot bubbling lake of the Underground Kingdom.
"Kaliko, those invaders whom we threw down the Tube are coming back again!" he exclaimed.
"I thought they would," said the Royal Chamberlain, pulling on the other shoe. "Tititi-Hoo-choo would not allow them to remain in his kingdom, of course, and so I've been expecting them back for some time. That was a very foolish action of yours, Rug."
"What, to throw them down the Tube?"
"Yes. Tititi-Hoochoo has forbidden us to throw even rubbish into the Tube."
"Pooh! what do I care for the Jinjin?" asked Ruggedo scornfully. "He never leaves his own kingdom, which is on the other side of the world."
"True; but he might send some one through the Tube to punish you," suggested Kaliko.
"I'd like to see him do it! Who could conquer my thousands of nomes?"
"Why, they've been conquered before, if I remember aright," answered Kaliko with a grin. "Once I saw you running from a little girl named Dorothy, and her friends, as if you were really afraid."
"Well, I was afraid, that time," admitted the Nome King, with a deep sigh, "for Dorothy had a Yellow Hen that laid eggs!"
The King shuddered as he said "eggs," and Kaliko also shuddered, and so did the Long-Eared Hearer; for eggs are the only things that the nomes greatly dread. The reason for this is that eggs belong on the earth's surface, where birds and fowl of all sorts live, and there is something about a hen's egg, especially, that fills a nome with horror. If by chance the inside of an egg touches one of these underground people, he withers up and blows away and that is the end of him--unless he manages quickly to speak a magical word which only a few of the nomes know. Therefore Ruggedo and his followers had very good cause to shudder at the mere mention of eggs.
"But Dorothy," said the King, "is not with this band of invaders; nor is the Yellow Hen. As for Tititi-Hoochoo, he has no means of knowing that we are afraid of eggs."
"You mustn't be too sure of that," Kaliko warned him. "Tititi-Hoochoo knows a great many things, being a fairy, and his powers are far superior to any we can boast."
Ruggedo shrugged impatiently and turned to the Hearer.
"Listen," said he, "and tell me if you hear any eggs coming through the Tube."
The Long-Eared one listened and then shook his head. But Kaliko laughed at the King.
"No one can hear an egg, Your Majesty," said he. "The only way to discover the truth is to look through the Magic Spyglass."
"That's it!" cried the King. "Why didn't I think of it before? Look at once, Kaliko!"
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|Tik-Tok of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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