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|The Magic of Oz||L. Frank Baum|
3. Two Bad Ones
|Page 1 of 5||
Kiki turned around and saw a queer old man standing near. He didn't stand straight, for he was crooked. He had a fat body and thin legs and arms. He had a big, round face with bushy, white whiskers that came to a point below his waist, and white hair that came to a point on top of his head. He wore dull-gray clothes that were tight fitting, and his pockets were all bunched out as if stuffed full of something.
"I didn't know you were here," said Kiki.
"I didn't come until after you did," said the queer old man.
"Who are you?" asked Kiki.
"My name's Ruggedo. I used to be the Nome King; but I got kicked out of my country, and now I'm a wanderer."
"What made them kick you out?" inquired the Hyup boy.
"Well, it's the fashion to kick kings nowadays. I was a pretty good King--to myself--but those dreadful Oz people wouldn't let me alone. So I had to abdicate."
"What does that mean?"
"It means to be kicked out. But let's talk about something pleasant. Who are you and where did you come from?"
"I'm called Kiki Aru. I used to live on Mount Munch in the Land of Oz, but now I'm a wanderer like yourself."
The Nome King gave him a shrewd look.
"I heard that bird say that you transformed yourself into a magpie and back again. Is that true?"
Kiki hesitated, but saw no reason to deny it. He felt that it would make him appear more important.
"Well--yes," he said.
"Then you're a wizard?"
"No; I only understand transformations," he admitted.
"Well, that's pretty good magic, anyhow," declared old Ruggedo. "I used to have some very fine magic, myself, but my enemies took it all away from me. Where are you going now?"
"I'm going into the inn, to get some supper and a bed," said Kiki.
"Have you the money to pay for it?" asked the Nome.
"I have one gold piece."
"Which you stole. Very good. And you're glad that you're wicked. Better yet. I like you, young man, and I'll go to the inn with you if you'll promise not to eat eggs for supper."
"Don't you like eggs?" asked Kiki.
"I'm afraid of 'em; they're dangerous!" said Ruggedo, with a shudder.
"All right," agreed Kiki; "I won't ask for eggs."
"Then come along," said the Nome.
When they entered the inn, the landlord scowled at Kiki and said:
"I told you I would not feed you unless you had money."
Kiki showed him the gold piece.
"And how about you?" asked the landlord, turning to Ruggedo. "Have you money?"
"I've something better," answered the old Nome, and taking a bag from one of his pockets he poured from it upon the table a mass of glittering gems--diamonds, rubies and emeralds.
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|The Magic of Oz
L. Frank Baum
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