Gaper’s Gulch

In a far-away northwestern corner of the Gilliken Country of Oz lies
the rugged little Kingdom of Regalia, and in an airy and elegant
castle, set high on the tallest mountain, lives Randy, its brave
young King. When the Regalians are not busy celebrating one of their
seventy-seven national holidays, they are busy tending their flocks of
goats or looking after the vines that cover every mountain and hill,
producing the largest and most luscious grapes in Oz. These proud and
independent mountain folk have much to recommend them, and if they
consider themselves superior to any and all of the other natives in
Oz, we must not blame them too much. Perhaps the sharp, clear air and
high altitude in which they live is responsible for their top-lofty
attitude. Randy, it must be confessed, found the stiff and unbending
manner of his subjects and their correct and formal behavior on all
occasions stuffy in the extreme; and of all the stuffy occasions he
had to endure the weekly court reception was the stuffiest. Just as I
started this story he was winding up another of these royal and boring

“Hail! Hail! Give Majesty its proper due,
Hail Randywell, King Handywell of Brandenburg and Bompadoo!
Boom! BOOM! BOOM!”

At each crash of the drums the young King winced and shuddered, then,
pulling himself together, he nodded resignedly to his richly attired
courtiers and subjects who were retiring backwards from the royal
presence. As the last bowing figure swished through the double doors,
Randy gave a huge sigh and groan. This was his three hundred and tenth
reception since ascending the throne. Ahead stretched hundreds more,
besides the daily courts where he acted as presiding Judge to settle
all disputes of the realm; countless reviewings of troops; inspections
of model goat farms; and attendance at numerous celebrations for
national heroes of Regalia.

“Oh, being a King is awful,” choked the youthful monarch, loosening his
regal cape and letting it fall unheeded to the floor. “AWFUL! Will it
always be like this, Uncle?”

“Like what?” His uncle, the Grand Duke Hoochafoo, who was still
inclining his head mechanically in the direction of the door, caught
himself abruptly in the middle of a bow.

“Oh, all this silly standing round and being bowed at, this ‘Hail!
Hail! and Way for His Majesty!’ stuff. Galloping Gollopers, Uncle,
I’d like to step out by myself occasionally without twenty footmen
springing to open doors and fifty pages tooting on their blasted
trumpets. Why, I cannot even cross the courtyard, that a dozen
guardsmen do not fall in behind me!” Flouncing over to the window,
Randy stared out over the royal terrace. “Even the goats on the
mountain have more fun than I do,” he observed bitterly. “They can
run, jump, climb and even butt one another, while I–” Randy let his
arms fall heavily at his sides. “I have not even anyone to fight with.
If just ONCE somebody would punch me in the nose instead of bowing.”
Randy clenched and unclenched his fists.

“Hm–mm! So that’s what you want!” Looking quizzically at his young
nephew, Uncle Hoochafoo crossed to the bell rope and gave it a savage
tug. As Randy’s personal servant and valet appeared to answer the ring,
he spoke sharply, “Dawkins, kindly hit His Majesty in the nose!”

“The nose? Oh, but Your Lordship, I couldn’t do a thing like that.
‘Tisn’t right, nor fitting–nor–”

“I said hit him in the nose,” commanded Uncle Hoochafoo, advancing
grimly upon the terrified valet.

“Yes, yes, like this!” Bringing up his fist, Randy made such a
splendid connection with the valet’s nose, Dawkins toppled over
backwards. Dancing from one foot to the other as the outraged servant
sprang to his feet, Randy prepared to defend himself. But with his hand
clapped to his nose, Dawkins was retiring rapidly. “Thank you!” he
muttered in a strangled voice, “thank you very much!”

“Did you hear that? He said ‘Thank you,'” screamed Randy as Dawkins
disappeared with an agitated bow. “Oh, this is too much; I wish I were
back with Nandywog in Tripedalia–or anywhere but here, doing anything
but this.”

“Now, now! Don’t take things so hard,” begged his uncle, patting him
kindly on the shoulder.

“Hard?” Randy glared at the old nobleman. “I can take things hard,
Uncle, but I cannot take them soft. I’ll never forgive my father for
getting me into this–NEVER!” Randy’s father, former King of Regalia,
tiring of a royal life and routine, had retired to a distant cave to
live the life of a hermit, and Randy, after traveling all over Oz to
fulfil the seven difficult tests required of a Regalian ruler, had
succeeded to the throne.

“You should not speak like that of your royal parent,” chided Uncle
Hoochafoo, tapping his spectacles absently against his teeth, “for you
are very much like him, my boy, very much like him. Hmm! Hmm! Harumph!”
Uncle Hoochafoo cleared his throat thoughtfully. “What you need is a
change, a new interest. Ah, I have it! You must marry, my lad, you
must marry! Some pretty little Princess or rich young Queen, and then
everything will be punjanoobious!”

“Is being married anything like being a King?” inquired Randy

“Oh, no. No, indeed, quite the reverse.” The eyes of the old Duke, who
had once been married, grew glazed and pensive. “Once you are married,
you will feel less like a King every day,” he promised solemnly. “And
the arguments alone will keep you occupied for hours.” Uncle Hoochafoo
raised both shoulders and eyebrows. “Wait, I’ll just go consult the
wise men about a proper Princess for you.”

“No! No! I do not wish to be married,” announced Randy, stamping his
foot. “I’ll not marry for years,” he declared stubbornly. Then, as
loud outcries and tremendous thumps interrupted them, he hurried over
to an open window just in time to meet a large rock that came crashing
through the amethyst pane.

“Look out!” blustered Uncle Hoochafoo, jerking Randy to his feet, for
the rock had completely bowled him over. “Well, I see you have your
wish. How’s that for a knock in the nose, my lad? Not only the nose,
but also the beginning of a beautiful black eye!”

“Have I really?” Racing over to a mirror, Randy proudly examined his
injured orb. “Oh, Uncle, isn’t this fun? Who did it? What’s up, d’ye
s’pose–a revolution?” Hurrying back to the window, Randy recklessly
thrust out his head to stare down into the courtyard. Kayub, the
Gatekeeper, had his shoulder braced against the gold-studded doors in
the castle wall, but even so, the doors were bulging and creaking from
the thunderous blows struck from the other side.

“Open in the name of the LAW!” boomed a tremendous voice. “Thump!
Thump! Kerbang! OPEN in the name of a Prince of the Realm! Open this
door, you unmannerly Scuppernong!”

“No, no, stay where you are!” panted Kayub, waving desperately with one
arm for the guards to come help him. “Stay where you are, or go to the
rear entrance! Who do you think you are, hammering on the doors of His
Majesty’s castle?”

“I don’t think, I know!” raged the voice from the other side of the
wall. “I am a Prince of Pumperdink, you unspeakable clod. Open up
this door before I break it down!” And after even more furious thumps
another shower of rocks came flying over the wall.

“Great Gillikens! I think–I believe–why it IS! Kayub, Kayub, open the
door! It is a Prince!” shouted Randy, using both hands as a megaphone.

“‘Tis nothing of the sort,” grunted the Gatekeeper obstinately. “I
looked through me little grill but a moment ago and it’s no Prince at
all, but a parade! A parade of one elephant, if you please, and when I
orders him to the rear entrance he ups with his trunk and flings rocks
over our wall!”

“But this elephant IS a Prince,” insisted Randy, banging on the window
ledge. “Besides, he’s a great friend of mine.”

“Open the door, fool!” directed Uncle Hoochafoo, leaning so far out the
window his crown fell to the paving stones. “The King has spoken. Admit
this elephant at once! At once!”

“And about time,” fumed an indignant voice, as Kayub reluctantly
drew the bolts and, swinging wide the doors, stepped back to let a
magnificently caparisoned elephant swing through. “A fine welcome this
is, I must say, for the Elegant Elephant of Oz! Out of my way, wart!”
Picking Kayub up in his trunk, the visitor jammed him down hard into a
golden trash barrel, trumpeted fiercely at the double line of guards
who had instantly sprung to attention, and went swaying across the

Now nowhere but in Oz could an elephant talk, much less come hammering
on the doors of a royal castle, but in Oz, as we very well know,
animals talk and act as sensibly as people, which makes Oz about ten
times as exciting as any other country on the map. But while I’ve been
explaining all this, Randy had run down the steps and was half-way
across the courtyard.

“Kabumpo, KABUMPO, is it really you? Oh, at last–AT LAST you are
here!” Impatiently waving aside the guards, Randy led his mammoth and
still muttering guest into the palace.

“Kaybumpo, is it?” sniffed Kayub, jerking himself with great
difficulty out of the trash barrel. “Such goings on. Well, all I
say–” The Gatekeeper peered carefully over his shoulder to see that
the elephant was safely inside the castle, then, raising his arm for
the benefit of the staring guards, he cried fiercely. “All I can say
is–just let him show his snoot around here again and I’ll kabump him
down the mountain!”

Fortunately the doors of Randy’s castle were high and wide, and the
rooms so large and spacious, even a guest as large as this elephant
could quite easily be accommodated. Still irritated by the Gatekeeper’s
insolence, Kabumpo followed the young ruler to the throne room where he
sank stiffly to his haunches and waited in outraged silence for Randy
to speak. Randy, however, was so surprised and happy to see his old
friend and comrade, he could not utter a word. But the Elegant Elephant
could not long withstand the honest delight and affection beaming from
the young King’s eyes, and under that kindly glow his wrath melted away
like fog in the sunshine.

“Well! Well!” he rumbled testily, “how do I look?”

“Elegant!” breathed Randy, stepping back to have a better view.
“Elegant as ever. You’ve worn your best robe and jewels, haven’t you?”

“Always wear my best when I call on a King,” said Kabumpo, smoothing
down his embroidered collar complacently with his trunk.

“And I believe you’ve grown a foot,” went on Randy, standing on tiptoe
to pat Kabumpo on the shoulder.

“A foot,” roared the Elegant Elephant, throwing back his head. “Oh,
come now, I couldn’t have grown a foot without noticing it, and I still
have but four–here, count ’em! Say, who in hay bales gave you that
black eye?”

“YOU did.” Randy fairly sputtered with mirth at Kabumpo’s discomfited
expression. “I was just wishing someone would hit me in the nose, when
along came that rock and NOW look at me!”

“Yes,” put in Uncle Hoochafoo, regarding Kabumpo severely through his
monocle. “Now look at him!”

“Well, why didn’t you tell that wart of a doorkeeper I was expected?”
demanded Kabumpo explosively.

“The King of Regalia does not hold conversation with his doorkeeper,”
explained Randy’s uncle, giving the Elegant Elephant a very sour look.

“Oh, he doesn’t!” Kabumpo lurched grandly to his feet. “Well, it’s time
somebody told him about the Elegant Elephant of Oz and how he should be
received and welcomed. Let me tell you, sirrah–trumpets blow when I
come and go in Pumperdink!”

“Then why did you ever leave there?” inquired the Duke coldly.

“Oh, Uncle, don’t you remember, we were to review the Purple Guard at
five? YOU go,” urged Randy, fearful lest the tempery old Duke would
still further insult the even more tempery old elephant. “Honestly, I
feel a cold coming on.” Randy coughed plaintively, at the same time
winking at Kabumpo.

“Very well, I’ll go,” agreed his uncle stiffly. “But do not forget
there is a dinner for the Grape Growers at seven, a concert of the
Goat Herdsmen at eight, maneuvers of our Highland Guards in the Royal
Barracks at nine and–”

“Yes, yes! All right!” Randy fairly pushed his royal relative toward
the door.

“An ancient pest if I ever saw one,” grumbled Kabumpo as the Grand Duke
disappeared with a very grim expression. “Great gooselberries! Do we
have to do all those dumb things? Why, it’s six years since I’ve seen
you, Randy, and I kinda thought we’d have a cozy time all to ourselves.”

“I never have any time to myself,” sighed the young monarch wistfully.
“I do nothing but lay cornerstones and raise flags and stand around at
Royal Courts and Receptions. Everybody bows and bows. Why, it’s got so
I even bow to myself when I look in the glass, and NOW–” Randy raised
his arms indignantly. “Now Uncle Hoochafoo says I must marry.”

“Marry!” trumpeted Kabumpo, twinkling his eyes angrily. “What nonsense!
Why, you are nowhere near old enough to marry. You were only about ten
when I met you and that makes you sixteen now, though I must say you
don’t look it!”

“Oh, no one in Oz looks his age,” grinned Randy, “and you know I’d been
ten for about four years before I knew you, Kabumpo, so that makes me
twenty or so, doesn’t it?”

“I don’t care what it makes you,” rumbled Kabumpo, “it makes me mad.
And to think I actually helped get you into all this boring business.
My ears and trunk, Kingling, it’s up to me to get you out of it.”

“How?” demanded Randy, folding his arms and leaning despondently
against the mantel. “How does one stop being a King, Kabumpo?”

“Why, by stopping,” announced the Elegant Elephant, spreading his ears
to their fullest extent. “By taking a vacation, my fine young sprig. By
departing and going hence for a suitable season. Do you suppose I came
all the way from Pumperdink to hear Goatherds tootling on bells and
Highlanders tramping round a barracks? I came to see you, my boy, and
nobody else.” Kabumpo paused to blow his trunk explosively on a violet
silk handkerchief. “And after that I thought we’d go and visit the Red

“Oh, Kabumpo, could we?” Randy’s face brightened and then as quickly
fell. “I don’t believe Uncle Hoochafoo will let me go,” he finished

“A King does not ask whether or not he may go, he GOES,” stated the
Elegant Elephant, beginning to sway like a ship under full sail. “But
to avoid all arguments we’ll not start till later. Could you be ready
by midnight, young one?”

“Oh, I’m ready now,” declared Randy, picking up his cloak from the
floor and snatching a sword from its bracket on the wall. “Why ever did
you wait so long, Kabumpo? You promised to visit me six months after I
was crowned.”

“Well, you know how it is at a court.” The Elegant Elephant sighed
and settled back on his haunches again. “If it isn’t one thing
it’s another, but here I am at last. So–order up your dinner and
a few bales of hay and a barrel of cider for me. I crave rest and

“And what about the Grape Growers, the Goatherds and Highlanders?”
worried Randy.

“Oh, them!” exclaimed Kabumpo inelegantly. “Here!” Seizing a pen from
the royal desk, he scribbled a defiant message on a handy piece of

“No admittance under extreme penalty of the Law. Do not disturb! By
special order of His Majesty, King Randywell Handywell of Brandenburg
and Bompadoo.”

“See, I remembered all your names, and I’ve used them all!” Opening
the door with his trunk, Kabumpo impaled the notice on the knob, then
quietly closed the door and turned the key in the lock. And only
once did they open it, and then to admit ten flustered footmen with
Randy’s dinner and Kabumpo’s cider and hay. To imperious raps, taps
and numerous notes thrust under the door by the young King’s agitated
uncle, they paid no attention whatever. They were too busy talking over
old times and the exciting days when they had journeyed all over Oz,
and with the help of Jinnicky, the little Red Jinn, saved the Royal
Family of Pumperdink from the Witch of Follensby Forest.

Pumperdink, as most of you know, is in the north central part of the
Gilliken Country of Oz, and ruled by King Pompus and Queen Posy.
Their son, Prince Pompadore, has much to say about affairs in that
Kingdom, but it is to Kabumpo, his Elegant Elephant, that Pompus turned
oftenest for counsel and comfort. Given to the King by a celebrated
Blue Emperor, Kabumpo has proved himself so wise and sagacious, Pompus
depends on him for almost everything. It is Kabumpo who advises His
Majesty when to have his hair cut and put aside his woolen underwear,
when to go to the dentist, when to turn in his old four-horse chariot
for a twelve-horse model, when to save money–when to spend it, how
to get on with neighboring Kings and how to get on without them. In
fact, so heavy are the duties and responsibilities of this remarkable
elephant, ’tis a wonder, even after six years, he managed this visit to

Randy’s first meeting with Kabumpo had been more or less by chance.
Sent out disguised as a poor mountain boy to pass the seven severe
tests of Kingship required of Regalian Rulers, Randy had happened to
come first to the Kingdom of Pumperdink and had been hailed before the
King as a vagrant. The Elegant Elephant, taking an instant fancy to
the boy, had insisted that he be allowed to stay on as his own royal
attendant, and in this comical capacity Randy’s adventures had begun.
For scarcely had he been in the palace of Pumperdink a week, before
Kettywig, the King’s brother, and the Witch of Follensby Forest,
plotting to steal the crown, caused the whole royal family to disappear
by some strange and fiery magic. Barely missing the same fate, Randy
and Kabumpo managed to escape. On their way through the forest they
met a Soothsayer who told them to seek out the Red Jinn. Now no one in
Oz had ever heard of this singular personage, but after many delays
and hair-raising experiences, Randy and Kabumpo finally arrived at his
splendid red glass castle. Jinnicky, it turned out, was the Wizard of
Ev, and a merry and strange person he was. Jinnicky’s whole body is
encased in a shiny red jar into which he can retire like a turtle at
will, and the little Wizard’s disposition is so gay and jolly everyone
around him feels the same way. Not only did he welcome his visitors,
but set off immediately to help the Royal Family of Pumperdink out of
their misfortunes and enchantment. Once in Pumperdink, Randy, with the
help of the Red Jinn’s magic looking-glasses, was able to trace the
lost King and his family and release them from the witch’s spell. But
before that, and while he was traveling here and there with Kabumpo and
Jinnicky, the little Prince was fulfilling all the tests and conditions
required by the ancient laws of Regalia of their Kings. In other words,
he had made three true friends, served a strange King, saved a Queen,
showed bravery in battle, overcome a fabulous monster, disenchanted
a Princess, and received from a Wizard an important magic treasure.
And now, looking back on those brave, bright days, he could not help
thinking that earning his crown had been more fun than wearing it.

“I wish we could do it all over again,” he mused, as Kabumpo, after
recalling their visit to Nandywog, the little giant, tossed off the
last of the cider.

“But think where we’re going now,” gurgled Kabumpo, setting down the
barrel with a resounding thud. “If something strange or exciting does
not happen on the way there or back, or in Jinnicky’s castle itself,
I do not know my Oz and Evistery. Can’t you just see Jinnicky’s face
when we arrive? I wonder if Alibabble is still Grand Advizier and if
the magic dinner bell is still working. Yes! Yes? Who’s there?” Kabumpo
raised his voice irritably as a persistent whistling came through the

“It’s Dawkins,” explained an anxious voice from the other side of the
door. “The Duke says as it’s high time His Highness was in bed, Your

“Oh, be off with you. Go dive in the feathers yourself. His Highness is
going to sleep in here on the floor.” Kabumpo stood so close and spoke
so violently through the keyhole, Dawkins was blown back against the
opposite wall. For a time footsteps pattered up and down the corridor,
then finally deciding the young King was to have his own way at last,
the footmen and courtiers and even Uncle Hoochafoo took themselves off.
But not till everything was absolutely quiet and still and everyone in
the castle asleep did Kabumpo and Randy venture forth. Then, stepping
softly as his own tremendous shadow, the Elegant Elephant with the
young King on his back slipped through the silent halls and deserted
courtyard, past the snoring sentries and keeper of the gate and on out
into the foresty Highlands beyond the palace wall. Here in the bright
white light of a smiling moon they took the highway to the north, for
the castle of the Red Jinn lies to the north by northeast of Regalia
and Oz.

“How’ll we cross the Deadly Desert?” murmured Randy, drowsily clutching
the few belongings he had tied up in an old silver table-cloth. In it
he had his oldest suit, some clean underwear, his tooth brush and his
trusty sword.

“Never cross a desert till you come to it,” advised Kabumpo. “And we’ve
crossed it before, you know.”

“Yes, I know.” Smiling to himself, Randy dropped his head on his
bundle, and lulled by the agreeable motion of his gigantic bearer, soon
fell asleep, to dream pleasantly of Alibabble and of Ginger, slave of
the Red Jinn’s dinner bell.

Kabumpo, as happy to escape from Court life as Randy, moved
rhythmically as a ship through the soft spring night. Humming to
himself and busy with his own thoughts, he scarcely noticed that the
highway was growing steeper and narrower until he was brought up sharp
by an impassable barrier of rock.

“Now, Bosh and Botherskites! I was sure this road ran straight to the
Deadly Desert,” he muttered, reaching back with his trunk to see that
Randy was still safely aboard and asleep. “Beets and butternuts! Do
I have to turn back, or plough through all this rubble?” The Elegant
Elephant’s small eyes twinkled with irritation, and easing himself
to the right off the highway, he peered crossly up at the offending
mass of stone. Finding no way round here, he swung over to the left
and examined it closely from that side, and was just about to start
resignedly through the brush when he discovered that what he had
taken for an especially dark shadow was really a cleft in the rock.
It was barely wide enough for him to squeeze through without scraping
the jewels from his robe. “Now then, shall I risk it or wait till
morning?” mused Kabumpo, swaying undecidedly to and fro. “It might take
us straight through to the other side of the highway. On the other
trunk, it might lead into a robber’s cave or plunge us suddenly over a

Edging closer, the Elegant Elephant thrust his trunk into the crevice.
It seemed smooth and solid, and, resolved to try it even though little
of the moonlight penetrated into the narrow opening, Kabumpo stepped
inside and proceeded to pick his way cautiously along the rocky
corridor. For about the length of a city street it ran straight ahead,
then curved sharply to the right. Here Kabumpo was heartened to see
a lantern hanging from an iron spike, while carved on the smooth rock
below was a blunt message.

“This is the entrance to Gaper’s Gulch. Pause here and give three yawns
and a stretch for Sleeperoo, Great, Grand and Most Snorious Gaper!”

“Snorious Gaper! Ho, Ho! kerumph! Who ever heard of such nonsense?”
snorted Kabumpo, squinting impatiently down at the notice. “Ah, Hah!
HOH, HUM!” At this point, and without seeming able to help it, the
Elegant Elephant yawned so terrifically his head-piece fell over one
ear, and his jaw was almost dislocated. To recover his dignity and
with tears starting from his eyes, he gave himself a quick shake, then
stretched up his trunk to straighten his headgear.

“Splen–did!” drawled a sleepy voice. “You may now proceed as before.”
Blinking angrily about to see who had addressed him, the Elegant
Elephant spied a round-faced and widely gaping guard standing in a
little niche in the rock. Strapped to his shoulders, instead of a
knapsack, was a fat feather pillow, and as Kabumpo came opposite the
guard’s eyes closed, and falling back against his cushion he began
gently to snore. As Kabumpo stopped in some astonishment, the guard’s
nap was rudely interrupted by a pailful of pebbles that cascaded
merrily down over his ears. There were twenty pails operating on a
moving belt above his head and at three-minute intervals they pelted
him awake, as Kabumpo presently discovered. The buttons on the guard’s
uniform were illuminated and spelled out his name, “WINKS.”

“Well, do I surprise you?” inquired Winks, shaking the pebbles from his
shoulders and rubbing his eyes with his yellow-gloved hands. Kabumpo,
too amused to speak, nodded.

“And you surprise me,” admitted the guard, gaping three times just to
prove it, “you big, enormous, impossible whatever you are–you! Why,
you should have been underground months ago! But that’ll all be taken
care of,” he added smoothly. “Just follow the arrows and you cannot
miss–just follow the arrows–just fol–”

As Kabumpo, fuming from what he considered a mortal insult, lunged
forward, the little soldier’s eyes fell shut again. Held more by
curiosity than by a desire to continue the conversation, Kabumpo waited
for the next bucket of pebbles to shower over the guard.

“‘Low the arrows,” went on Winks as calmly as if he had not been
interrupted at all. “There are forty guards to point the way. Forty
Winks,” he repeated, closing one eye. “Ha, Ha! To point the way. Ha,
Ha! HOH, HUM! Do you get the point?”

As Kabumpo started off with a little snort of disgust, he felt a slight
prick in his left hind leg, for Winks, just as he feel asleep, let fly
an arrow from his old-fashioned bow. Before Kabumpo had reached the
end of the passageway he had passed forty of the Gaper Guards. After
his experience with the first, he did not stop for further talk, but
made the best speed possible, resolved to rush through Gaper’s Gulch
when he came to it without even pausing to express his contempt. The
pebble awakeners were so neatly timed, each guard had a chance to speed
an arrow after the flying elephant, and by the time Kabumpo reached
the opening at the other end of the rocky pass, he had forty arrows
pricking through his robe or stuck here and there in his ears and
ankles. With his tough hide, they hurt no more than pin pricks, but
vastly indignant at such treatment, the Elegant Elephant began jerking
them out with his trunk.

“What do they think I am, a pincushion? Hoh!” he snorted, pulling out
the last one, and relieved to note that Randy had escaped the missiles
entirely. Indeed, the young King of Regalia was sleeping as placidly
as if he were home in his own castle. Kabumpo, too, felt unaccountably
drowsy, and as he pushed his way down into the rocky little glen his
steps grew slower and slower. So far as he could see by the light of
the fast waning moon, there were neither houses nor people in Gaper’s
Gulch. In the center of the valley the rough stones and brush had been
cleared away and a series of flat rocks were spaced out almost like
a gigantic checker-board. Pausing beside the largest rock, Kabumpo
spelled out the name of Sleeperoo the Great and Snorious.

“What is this, a cemetery?” gulped the Elegant Elephant. “But that
could not be, for no one in Oz ever dies. Ho, Hum!”

Leaning up against a dead pine and blinking furiously to keep awake,
he pondered the unpleasant situation. Then, deciding that, cemetery
or not, he must have some sleep, he lifted Randy down from his back
and rolled him in a blanket he had thoughtfully brought along. Then,
divesting himself of his jeweled robe and head-piece, Kabumpo stretched
out carefully beside his young comrade and in twenty minutes was fast

How long he slumbered Kabumpo never knew, but from a nightmare in which
he was struggling in a bank of treacherous quicksand, he awoke with a
frightful sinking feeling to find he was surrounded by forty more of
the Gaper Guards. Their buttons were also lit up and on each plump
chest he could read the word “Wake.” The Wakes were busily at work
with pick and spade, and, unlike the Winks, did not seem the least bit
drowsy. Half convinced he was still asleep and dreaming, Kabumpo peered
out at them through half-closed lids, then gave a tremendous grunt.
Great Gillikens! He was sinking! The busy little Wakes had dug a trench
at least twenty feet deep all around him and now, careless of their
own safety, were shoveling away at the mound on which he was still
precariously resting.

“Quick, a few more to the right,” directed a crisp little voice. “Watch
yourself there, Torpy. Ah, here he comes! Heads up, lads!”

As the Chief Wake spoke, Kabumpo felt the mound give way and down he
rolled into the pit, while the Wakes scrambled frantically up the sides.

“Did you hear that fierce TOOT?” puffed the little Guard addressed
as Torpy. “It’s awake, fellows! What’s wrong with those sleeping
arrows–don’t they work any more? I myself saw forty sticking in the
big Whatisit when he came pounding out of the pass. Hurry, hurry! let’s
get him under ground!” And, seizing their picks and spades again, the
Gaper Guards began shoveling dirt into the pit, paying no attention
to Kabumpo’s furious blasts and bellows, which grew wilder and more
anguished as he suddenly realized that Randy was no longer beside him.

“What have you done with the boy? Halt! Stop! How dare you cast dirt on
an Imperial Prince of Pumperdink or try to bury the Elegant Elephant of

Shaking the mud from his head and raising his trunk, Kabumpo let out
such an ear-splitting trumpet, twenty Wakes fell to their knees, and
the others dropped pick and shovel and stared at him in positive dismay.

“But, sir, it is quite customary to bury all visitors,” quavered Torpy
as soon as he could make himself heard. “We’ll dig you up in six months
and you’ll be good as new. Our dormitories are so very comfortable,
and all Gapers lie dormant for six months!”

“But I’m not a GAPER,” screamed Kabumpo, interrupting himself with a
yawn both wide and gusty.

“Oh, but you soon will be,” asserted Torpy, squinting down at him
earnestly. “Why, you’re gaping already. Now lie down like a good beast.
Sleeping underground is lovely.”

“LOVELY!” repeated all the rest of the Wakes, beginning to croon as
they shoveled. Kabumpo, opening his mouth to protest again, caught a
bushel of earth between his tusks and, half choked and blind with rage,
the Elegant Elephant hurled himself at the side of the pit. He could
almost reach the top with his trunk and, as the Wakes squealing with
alarm shoveled faster and faster, he wound his trunk round an old tree
stump and by main strength hauled himself up over the edge.

“NOW!” he bellowed, spreading his ears like sails. “Where have you
buried the boy? Quick, speak up or I’ll pound you to splinters.”

Snatching a log in his trunk, Kabumpo surged forward. But the terrified
Wakes, instead of answering, fled for their lives, leaving Kabumpo all
alone in the ghostly little valley.

“Randy! Randy, where are you? Oh, my poor boy, are you suffocated?”

Galloping this way and that, Kabumpo peered desperately about for a
patch of newly turned earth. But only the wind whistling drearily
through the dead branches of the pine trees came to answer him. Frantic
with worry, the Elegant Elephant began pounding with his log on the
headstones of the dormant Gapers, trumpeting at the same time in a way
to wake the dead.

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