Headway

Now the Gapers were not dead, but only sleeping, and soon the dormant
natives of this strange Hibernation lifted up their headstones and
began blinking out indignantly to see what and who had got loose in
their quiet valley.

“Silence! Cease! Desist!” shuddered Sleeperoo the Great and Snorious,
holding up his headstone with one hand and waving his other arm feebly
at Kabumpo. “A bit more of that racket and we’ll be roused for months.
Who are you? And what is the meaning of all this Hah Hoh Humbuggery?”

Gaping ten times in quick succession, Sleeperoo stuck out his lip at
the Elegant Elephant. Kabumpo, startled by the spectacle of a hundred
lifted headstones and the round dirty moonlike faces gaping up at him,
said nothing for a whole minute. Then, stepping over to the Chief
Gaper, he burst out angrily:

“I am a traveler whom your guards stuck full of arrows and then tried
to bury. The young King who was with me has disappeared. I, the Elegant
Elephant of Oz and Pumperdink, DEMAND his release. What have you done
with the King of Regalia? Produce him at once, or I’ll stand here and
trumpet till doomsday!”

To show he meant what he said, Kabumpo let out such a terrific blast
the headstones of his listeners rocked and shivered.

“Oh, my head! My ears! My ears, my dears! Give him what he’s yelling
for,” sobbed Sleeperoo, crouching under his headstone as Kabumpo lifted
his trunk for another trumpet.

“Is this–a–king?” called a fretful voice, and, lurching round,
Kabumpo saw a fat old Gaper now half-way above ground. Balancing his
stone on his fat head, he held Randy out at arm’s length. “Instead of
digging him a proper bed, they stuck him in with me,” he complained.
“Here, take him–he kicks like a mule and I can’t abide a kicker.”
With a relieved grunt, Kabumpo snatched Randy from the Gaper’s damp
clutches, thankful the boy still had strength enough to kick. Randy’s
face was quite pale and covered with dirt, but after a few anxious
shakes he opened his eyes and looked confusedly round him.

“It’s nothing,” sniffed Kabumpo. “It’s quite all right, my boy. You’ve
just been buried to the ears and sleeping with a ground-hog.”

“Buried?” shivered Randy, as Kabumpo set him gently on his back.

“Not buried at all, just lying dormant as a sensible body should,”
corrected the old Gaper, dropping out of sight with a slam of his
headstone.

“Go away! Please go away!” begged Sleeperoo, as Kabumpo began stepping
gingerly between the stones. “You’re ruining our rest, you big bullying
Behemoth!”

“I’ll not stir a step till you send a guide to lead me out of this
gulch,” declared Kabumpo. “Call a guard or I’ll call one myself.”

“No. No! Please NOT! Torpy Snorpy–I say, Torpy,” wheezed Sleeperoo,
stretching up his thin neck. “Come, come all of you at once. At ONCE!”

As quickly as they had vanished, the Wakes slid from behind boulders
and trees and up out of rocky crevices, their buttons twinkling
cheerfully in the dark.

“Conduct these travelers to the head of the valley,” ordered Sleeperoo,
with a weak wave at the Gaper Guards.

“I thought this was a gulch,” yawned Kabumpo, while Randy began to
shake the dirt from his hair and ears.

“A gulch is a valley,” sniffed Sleeperoo, lowering himself crossly.
“Look it up in any pictionary. A gulch is a valley or chasm.”

“And Gaper’s Gulch is a yawning chasm,” mumbled Kabumpo, as the Chief
Gaper and all the others began ducking back into their holes like
rabbits into warrens. “Good night to you,” he added, as the last stone
slammed down. “Now, then, you boys fetch my head-piece and robe from
that pit and let’s start on.”

Kabumpo spoke so sharply ten Wakes sprang to obey, and after they
had brought them and both had been adjusted to Kabumpo’s liking, he
signaled imperiously for Torpy and Snorpy to lead the way, and their
companions took thankfully to their heels. For a while the two little
Wakes marched ahead in a subdued silence as the Elegant Elephant picked
his way around rocks and tree stumps.

“Not mad, I hope?” Torpy, most talkative of the two, looked anxiously
over his shoulder.

“No, no–certainly not. I don’t know when I’ve spent a more delightful
evening,” Kabumpo said. “Being stuck full of arrows and then buried
alive is such splendid entertainment.”

“Oh, I say now, we cannot all be alike,” put in Snorpy, coming to the
rescue of his embarrassed companion. “If those arrows had taken effect,
you’d have been dead asleep before we buried you, and known nothing for
six months. That’s a lot of sleep to miss, Mister–er–Mister?”

“Kabumpo,” chuckled Randy, who was now wide awake and quite recovered
from his harrowing experience. “But you see, Kabumpo and I sleep every
night and not all in one stretch as you do.”

“More trouble that way,” murmured Snorpy, shaking his head
disapprovingly. “Keeps you hopping up and down all the time. In the
Gulch we sleep half the year and then we are done with it.”

“And what do you do when you are not sleeping?” inquired Kabumpo,
stifling a yawn with his trunk.

“We eat,” grinned Snorpy, his eyes twinkling brighter than his buttons.
“Breakfast from July first to August thirty-first; lunch from September
first till October thirty-first; and dinner from November first till
New Year’s.”

“You mean you eat straight through without stopping?” gasped Randy,
raising himself on one elbow. “All the time you’re awake? Don’t you
ever work, play or go on journeys?”

“I do not know what you mean by ‘work, play and going on journeys,’
but whatever they are, we don’t. We eat and sleep, sleep and eat and
everything is perfectly gorgeous,” confided the Wake with a satisfied
skip.

“Gorging is gorgeous to some people, I suppose.” Kabumpo tossed his
head to show it was not his way. “Then how is it you fellows are not
sleeping along with the other Gapers?”

“Oh, we’re trained to sleep in summer and fall and to eat in winter and
spring. The Winks are not so clever at staying awake as we are, but
they’ll learn, and meanwhile the pebbles keep them fairly active.”

“Yes, active enough to shoot at visitors,” grunted Kabumpo, winking
back at Randy. “Do you shoot one another asleep or is that a special
treat you reserve for travelers?”

“We just shoot at travelers,” admitted Snorpy, quite cheerfully.
“Otherwise they would interfere with our customs, interrupt our
sleeping and eating and wake us up out of season.”

“Just as we did,” chuckled Randy. “I suppose we interrupted your
dinner, this being one of the dinner months?” Both Guards nodded,
exchanging pleased little smiles.

“Come on back and have a bite with us,” invited Snorpy generously.
“We’ve weak fish for the first week, chops for the second–”

Randy, tugging at Kabumpo’s collar, begged him to stop, for Randy was
hungry as a brace of bears, but the Elegant Elephant, shaking his
head till all his jewels rattled, declined the invitation with great
firmness.

“No knowing what will come of it,” he whispered to his disappointed
young comrade. “Might put us to sleep for a century and it’s about all
I can do to keep my eyes open now. Wait till we’re out of this goopy
gulch, my lad, and we’ll eat and sleep like gentlemen. After all, we
are gentlemen and not ground-hogs.”

Urging his guides to greater speed, the weary beast pushed doggedly
on through the brush and stubble. Snorpy and Torpy, insulted by the
shortness with which the Elegant Elephant had refused their invitation,
had little more to say, and in less than an hour had brought the
travelers to the end of the rocky little valley. From where they stood,
a crooked path wound crazily upward, and with a silent wave aloft the
two Wakes turned and ran.

“Back to their dinner,” sighed Randy, looking hungrily after them.
But Kabumpo, charmed to see the last of the ghostly gulch and its
inhabitants, began to ascend the path, not even stopping for breath
till he had come to the top. Even after this, he traveled on for about
five miles to make sure no sleepy vapors or Gapers would trouble them
again. The moon had waned and the stars grown faint as he stopped
at last in a small patch of woodland. Here, without removing his
head-piece or robe, Kabumpo braced his back against a mighty oak
and fell asleep on his feet, and Randy, soothed and rocked by his
tremendous snores, soon closed his eyes and slept also.

When Randy wakened, Kabumpo had already started on, grumbling under
his breath, because nowhere in sight was there a green bush, a tree or
anything at all that an elephant or little boy might eat.

“Where are we?” yawned Randy, sitting up and rubbing his eyes with his
knuckles. “Great Gillikens, this is as bad as Gaper’s Gulch!”

“All the countries bordering on the Deadly Desert are queer no-count
little places,” sniffed the Elegant Elephant, angrily jerking his robe
off a cactus. “And from the feel of the air, we must be near the
desert now.”

At mention of the Deadly Desert, Randy lapsed into an uneasy silence,
for how could they ever cross this tract of burning sand, and how could
they reach Ev or Jinnicky’s castles unless they did cross it? While
this vast belt of destroying sand effectively kept enemies out of Oz,
it also kept the Ozians in.

“If we only had some of Jinnicky’s magic or even his silver dinner bell
to bring us a good breakfast!” sighed Randy, glancing round hungrily.
“Pretty stupid of me not to have brought along a lunch, and there’s not
even a brook or stream in this miserable little patch of woods where a
body could quench his thirst. Maybe it will rain, and that would help a
little.”

“Maybe,” admitted Kabumpo, squinting up at the leaden sky. “Anyway,
here we are out of the woods, but take a look at those rocks!”

“And those heads behind the rocks,” whispered Randy, clutching
Kabumpo’s collar.

“There’s something pretty odd about those heads, if you ask me,”
wheezed the Elegant Elephant, curling up his trunk. “Odd or I’m losing
my eye and ear sight.”

“Odd!” hissed Randy, tightening his hold on Kabumpo’s collar. “Good
goats and gravy! They’re flying round loose like birds. Why, they’ve
got no bodies on ’em, no bodies at all!”

“Read the sign,” directed Kabumpo, uncurling his trunk and pointing
to a crude warning scratched on a flat slab at the edge of the road
leading to the rocky promontory above.

“Heads up! This road leads to Headland, nobody’s allowed.”

“Humph! Well, we won’t make much headway without our bodies,” grunted
Kabumpo, as Randy read the message slowly to himself. “Such impudence!
Why should we pay any attention to such stuff? Bodies or not, we’re
going on, and how can fellows minus feet and arms hope to stop us?”

“They might crash down on us with their heads,” worried Randy, as an
angry flock of Headmen circled round and round at the top of the road,
“and those heads look hard.”

“Not any harder than mine. Keep your crown on, Randy,” advised Kabumpo
grimly, “the spikes will dent ’em good, and if you reach down in my
left-hand pocket you’ll find a short club. The club will be better than
your sword; you can’t cut a head off no neck and besides we don’t
really want to injure the pests. All ready? Then here we go!”

Randy did not answer, for hooking his heels through Kabumpo’s harness,
he was already delving into the capacious pocket on the left side of
the Elegant Elephant’s robe, discovering not only a club, but a quiver
full of darts. Jerking himself upright, the club in one hand, the darts
in the other, he peered aloft with growing anxiety as foot over foot
Kabumpo climbed up the granite slope. The faces of the Headmen were
round and deeply wrinkled from the hot winds blowing off the desert;
their ears, huge and fan-shaped, flapped like wings, and like wings
propelled them through the air. Before Kabumpo reached the top, a whole
bevy came whizzing toward them, screaming out indignant threats and
warnings.

“Off, be off!” they shouted hysterically. “Off with their arms, off
with their legs, off with their bodies! Halt! Stop! Begone, you
miserable creepy crawly creatures. You dare not set a foot on our
beautiful Headland.”

“Oh, daren’t we?” Kabumpo shook his trunk belligerently. “And who is to
stop us, pray?”

“I am,” rasped the ugliest of the Headmen. Snatching a coil of wire
from a niche in the rocks with his teeth, the ugly little Mugly came
flapping toward them. Another of the Headmen hastened to seize the
opposite end of the wire in his teeth and, stretching it between them,
they came rushing on.

“Watch out!” warned Randy, dropping flat between Kabumpo’s ears.
“They’re going to trip you up.”

“Wrong, how wrong,” chattered all the Headmen, bobbing up and down like
balloons let off their strings. “They’re going to cut off his body,”
confided one of the long-nosed tribesmen, zooming down to whisper this
information in Randy’s ear. “The creature’s head is welcome enough
and with those enormous ears he’ll have no trouble flying, but his
body–oh, his body is awful and must stay behind. And your body, too,
you little monster, we’ll cut that off too,” promised the Headman
in his oily voice. “What use is a body, anyway? I see you have very
small ears, but they can be stretched. And just wait till you’ve been
debodicated, you’ll feel so right and light and flighty.”

“Help! Stop! Help! Help!” screamed Randy, as the ugly Mugly gave him a
playful nip on the ear. “Back up, Kabumpo, back down. They’re going to
catch you in that wire and choke you.”

“Pah! nonsense,” panted the Elegant Elephant. And heaving himself up
over the last barrier, he stepped confidently out on the rocky plateau.

“Heads up! Heads up!” shrilled the Headmen, while the two with the
wire, deftly encircling Kabumpo’s great neck, began to fly apart in
order to draw the noose tighter. Kabumpo ducked, but much too late,
and though his ferocious trumpeting sent swarms of Headmen fluttering
aloft, the two holding the wire stuck to their task, pulling and
jerking with all their teeth till Kabumpo’s jeweled collar was pressing
uncomfortably into his throat.

“Don’t worry,” he grunted gamely, “their teeth will give way before my
neck does. Calm yourself, my boy, ca–alm your–self.”

But how could Randy feel calm with his best friend in such a
predicament and already beginning to gasp for breath? Jumping up and
down on Kabumpo’s back, he rattled his club valiantly, but the Headmen
were too high up for him to reach, and when at last he flung the
club with all his strength at the one on the left, it seemed to make
no impression at all on the hard head of the enemy. Redoubling his
efforts, he drew the wire tighter and tighter in his yellow teeth. In
desperation, Randy suddenly remembered the darts, and drawing one
from the quiver, sent it speeding upward. The first missed, but as the
Elegant Elephant began to sway and quiver beneath him, the second found
its mark, striking the Headman squarely in the middle of the forehead.
An expression of surprise and dismay overspread his wrinkled features,
and next instant, with a terrific yawn, he dropped the wire and fell
headlong to the rocks, where he rolled over and over and over.

“Great Goopers!” exclaimed Randy, hardly able to believe his luck.
“Why, he’s not hurt at all, but has fallen asleep.”

“Watch the others, the–others!” gulped Kabumpo, shaking his head
in an effort to free it from the wire. Already another had flown to
take his fallen comrade’s place, but before he could snatch the wire,
Randy brought him to earth with one of his sharply pointed darts. The
next who ventured he shot down too, and as the rest of the band came
swarming down to see what was happening, Randy sent arrow after arrow
winging into their midst till the flat, smooth rock was dotted with
sleepy heads, for each one hit promptly fell asleep. Though his arm
ached and his heart thumped uncomfortably, Randy did not even pause
for breath till he had sent the last arrow into the air, and then quite
suddenly he realized he had won this strange and ridiculous battle.
More than half of the ear-men, as he could not help calling them to
himself, lay snoring on the ground; the rest with terrified shrieks and
whistles were flapping off as fast as their ears would carry them. Now
entirely free of the wire, but still trembling and gasping, Kabumpo
stared angrily after them.

“What I cannot understand,” puffed Randy, sliding to the ground to
examine a group of the enemy, “is what put them to sleep? I thought
your darts might hurt or head them off or puncture them like balloons,
but instead–here they are asleep, and How asleep! Shall I pull out
the arrows? I might need them later.”

“They’re not MY arrows,” Kabumpo said, wrinkling his forehead in
a puzzled frown. “I didn’t have any arrows, but Ha, Ha, Kerumph!”
The Elegant Elephant began to shake all over. “They must be Gaper
Arrows–the Wakes must have stuck them in my pocket when they fetched
my robe and head-piece. Pretty cute of the little rascals, at that.
Why, these must be the same arrows the Winks shot at me, Randy, but my
hide was too tough for them and they didn’t work.”

“Well, they certainly made short work of the Headmen,” said Randy,
turning one over gently with his foot. “Goodness! I thought you’d be
choked and done for, old fellow!”

“Who, ME? Nonsense! My neck would have broken their teeth in another
minute or two.”

“Well, then, shall I pull out the arrows?” asked Randy, who had his own
opinion about Kabumpo’s narrow escape. “We could use them again some
time.”

“No, NO! Leave them in! So long as those arrows stick fast the little
villains will sleep fast and that’s the only way I can stand ’em.”

“But suppose the others fly back?” Randy still hesitated.

“Pooh! Don’t you worry about that.” Kabumpo raised his trunk
scornfully. “They’re frightened out of their wits and probably half way
to the Sapphire City by this time. And when they do come back, we won’t
be here.”

“Won’t we?” Dubiously Randy began to pace across the bare and arid
plateau. “I certainly don’t think much of Headland, do you?”

“I wouldn’t have it for a gift, even if they threw in a tusk brush and
diamond earrings besides!” snorted Kabumpo. “Why, it’s nothing but a
humpy bumpy acre of rock without a tree, a house, a bird or even a
blade of grass. I’d give the whole country for a mouthful of hay or a
bucketful of water!”

“We might find a spring among the rocks,” proposed Randy, hurrying
along hopefully.

“More likely a fall,” predicted Kabumpo, trudging gloomily behind him.
But just then, Randy, who had vanished behind a sizable boulder, gave
an excited whoop.

“Hi, yi, Kabumpo! We’re here! We’re here, right on the edge of it!” he
shouted vociferously. “LOOK!” The Elegant Elephant, pushing round the
rock, did look, then, mopping his forehead with the tip of his robe,
sank heavily to his haunches and for a moment neither said a word. For,
truly enough, the jagged point of Headland projected over the desert
as a high cliff hangs over the sea. Below, the seething sand smoked,
churned and tumbled, sending up sulphurous waves of heat that made both
travelers cough and splutter.

“So, all we have to do is cross,” gasped Randy, dashing the tears
brought by the smoke out of his eyes.

“And a simple thing that will be,” grunted the Elegant Elephant
sarcastically, “seeing that one foot on the sand spells instant
destruction. If we could just flap our ears like the Headmen, we could
fly across.”

“But as we can’t,” sighed Randy, seating himself despondently on a
boulder. “What are we to do?”

“Well, that remains to be seen,” muttered Kabumpo, who had not the
faintest notion. “‘Never cross a Deadly Desert on an empty stomach,’ is
my motto, and I’m going to stick to it.”

“Sticking to mottoes won’t get us anywhere,” Randy said, skimming a
stone off the edge and watching with a little shudder as it was sucked
down into the whirling sand. “Doesn’t that desert make you thirsty?
Goopers, if I had a dipperful of water I’d gladly do without the
breakfast.”

“Humph! looks as if you might have that wish.” Feeling hurriedly in the
right pocket of his robe, Kabumpo dragged out a waterproof as large
as a tent. “Just spread this over me, will you?” he puffed anxiously.
“Storm coming. Hear that thunder? Storm coming.”

“Coming?” cried Randy, springing up to help Kabumpo with the buckles.
“Why, it’s here.” He had to raise his voice to a scream to make himself
heard above the gale that, arising apparently from nowhere, struck them
furiously from behind. He had just fastened the last strap of the
waterproof to Kabumpo’s left ankle when the rain swept down in perfect
torrents; rain, accompanied by hailstones as big as Easter eggs. There
was ample room for Randy beneath the Elegant Elephant, and standing
between his front legs the young monarch lifted the waterproof, and
reaching out caught a huge hailstone in his hand. Touching it against
his parched lips, Randy gave a sigh of content, then crunching it up
rapturously, stuck out his head and let the pelting downpour cool his
hot and dusty face.

“Wonder if this will put out the desert?” he mused, ducking back as a
terrible clap of thunder boomed like a cannon shot overhead. “SAY, it’s
a lucky thing you’re so big, Kabumpo,” he called up cheerily, “or we’d
be blown away. Whee–listen to that wind, would you!”

“Have to do more than listen,” howled the Elegant Elephant, bracing
his feet and lowering his head. “Ahoy! below–catch hold of something,
Randy! Help! Hi! Hold on! HOLD ON! For the love of blue–mountains!
Here we GO! Here we blow! Oooomph! Bloomph! Ker–AHHHHH!”

“Oh, no, Kabumpo! NO!” Leaping up, Randy caught the Elegant Elephant’s
broad belt. “Put on–the brakes! Quick!” And Kabumpo did try making a
futile stand against the tearing wind. But the mighty gale, whistling
under his waterproof filled it up and out like a balloon, and with a
regular ferry-boat blast, Kabumpo rose into the air and zoomed like a
Zeppelin over the Deadly Desert, while Randy, hanging grimly to the
strap of his belt, banged to and fro like the clapper on a bell.

Remembering the deadly and destroying nature of the sands below, Randy
did not dare to look down. Besides, holding on took all his strength
and attention, for Kabumpo was borne like a leaf before the howling
gale, faster and faster and faster, till he and Randy were too dazed
and dizzy to know or care how far they had gone or where they were
blowing to. Which was perhaps just as well, for, as suddenly as it had
risen, the gale abated and, coasting down the last high hill of the
wind, saved from a serious crash only by his faithful tarpaulin, which
now acted as a parachute, Kabumpo came jolting to earth. With closed
eyes and trunk held stiffly before him, the Elegant Elephant remained
perfectly motionless awaiting destruction and wondering vaguely how
it would feel. He was convinced that they had come down on the desert
itself. Then, as no fierce blasts of heat assailed him, he ventured
to open one eye. Randy, shaken loose by the force of the landing, had
rolled to the ground a few feet away, and now, jumping to his feet,
cried joyously:

“Why, it’s over, Kabumpo–over, and so are we! Ho! I never knew you
could fly, old Push-the-Foot.”

“Neither did I,” shuddered the Elegant Elephant, and jerking off the
waterproof he flung it as hard and as far as he could.

“Oh, don’t do that!” Randy dashed away to pick it up. “That good old
coat saved our bacon and ballooned us across the desert as light as a
couple of daisies.”

“But we’re no better off on this side than on the other,” grumbled
Kabumpo, surveying the barren countryside with positive hatred. “Not a
house, a field, a farm or a castle in sight.”

“The idea was to get away from castles, wasn’t it?” Randy grinned up
at his huge friend and, folding the waterproof into a neat packet,
tucked it back in its place.

“Well, there’s one thing about castles,” observed the Elegant Elephant,
giving his robe a quick tug here and there. “At least, the food’s
regular. I could eat a royal dinner from soup to napkins.”

“Give me a boost up that tree and I’ll have a look around,” proposed
Randy.

“Need a spy-glass to find anything worth looking at in this country,”
complained Kabumpo, lifting Randy into the fork of a gnarled old tree.
Shinning expertly up the rough trunk, Randy looked carefully in all
directions.

“We certainly cleared the desert by a nice margin,” he called down
gaily. “It’s at least a mile behind us, and toward the east I see a
cluster of white towers that might be a castle.”

“And nothing between,” mourned Kabumpo with a hungry swallow. “No
fields, orchards or melon patches?”

“There are fields, but they’re too far away for me to see what’s
growing, and there’s a forest too. What country is this, Kabumpo? Do
you know?”

“Depends on how we blew,” answered the Elegant Elephant, lifting Randy
out of the tree and tossing him lightly over his shoulder. “If we blew
straight from Headland, which is certainly the northwestern tip of the
Gilliken Country of Oz, we should be in No Land. If we blew slantwise,
this would be Ix.”

“Then I hope we blew slantwise.” Randy spread himself out luxuriantly
behind Kabumpo’s ears. “For if we are in Ix, we have only one country
to cross before we reach Ev and Jinnicky’s castle.”

“And the sooner we start, the sooner we’ll arrive,” agreed Kabumpo,
swinging into motion. “But if I drop in my tracks, boy, don’t be too
surprised. I’m hollow as a drum and weak as a violet.”

“Too bad we’re not like the Headmen,” said Randy, who felt dreadfully
hollow himself. “Without a body, I suppose one does not feel hungry.
Wonder what became of them, anyway?”

“Who cares?” sniffed Kabumpo, picking his way crossly through the rocks
and brambles. “They probably blew about for a while, but with ears like
sails, what’s a gale of wind or weather? Ho! what’s that I see yonder,
a farmer?”

“No, just a hat stuck on a pole to scare away the crows,” Randy told
him after a careful squint. “But nothing grows in the field but rocks,
so why do they bother?”

“Did you say a ‘hat’?” Kabumpo’s small eyes began to burn and twinkle,
and breaking into a run he was across the field like a flash.

“Kabumpo!” gasped Randy, as the Elegant Elephant snatched the hat from
the pole and took a huge bite from the brim. “Surely, surely you’re not
going to eat that old hat?”

“Why not?” demanded the Elegant Elephant, cramming the rest of the hat
into his mouth and crunching it up with great gusto. “It’s straw, isn’t
it? A little old and tough, to be sure, but nourishing, and anyway
better than nothing!” Almost strangling on the crown, Kabumpo glanced
sharply across the field, then looked apologetically back at his young
rider. “Great Gooselberries,” he muttered contritely, “I’m sorry as a
goat. Why, I never saved you even an edge!”

“Oh, never mind,” choked Randy, holding his sides at the very idea of
such a thing. “Even if I were starving, I couldn’t eat a hat. But look,
old Push-the-Foot, isn’t that a barn showing over the top of that hill?”

“Barn!” wheezed Kabumpo, lifting his trunk joyfully. “Why, so it is!
Ho! This is something like!” And hiccoughing excitedly, from the
effects of the hat, no doubt, Kabumpo went galloping over the brow of
the little hill.

A pleasant valley dotted with small farms stretched out below. Randy
was relieved to note that its inhabitants were usual-looking beings
like himself. Children rode gleefully on wagons piled high with
hay. Farmers in wide-brimmed yellow hats, rather like those worn by
the Winkies in Oz, worked placidly in the fields. Everyone seemed
contented, calm and happy; that is, until Kabumpo, delighted to
find himself again in a land of plenty, came charging down the hill
trumpeting like a whole band of music.

“Oh, too bad, you’ve frightened them nearly out of their wits,” mourned
Randy, hanging on to Kabumpo’s collar to keep his balance as the
Elegant Elephant, forgetting his elegance, made a dash for the nearest
hayrick.

“Help Hi–stop! Now see what you’ve done!”

To tell the truth, the havoc ensuing was not all Kabumpo’s fault. No
one in this tranquil valley of Ix had ever seen an elephant before, and
the sight of one rushing down upon them was so unnerving and strange
they fled in every direction, leaping into barns and houses, and
barring and double-barring the doors against this terrifying monster.
Horses hitched to their hay wagons cantered madly east and west,
and the air was filled with loud shrieks, neighs and the bellows of
stampeding cattle.

“Such dummies!” panted Kabumpo, coming to a complete standstill.
“Well,” he gave a tremendous sniff, “if they don’t want to meet a King,
a Prince and the most elegant elephant in Oz, what do we care? I’ve
invited myself to breakfast anyhow, and they can like it or Kabump it.
Just wait till I load away one stack of this hay, my boy, and I’ll find
you a breakfast fit for a King and Traveler.”

And the Elegant Elephant was good as his word. After tossing down
a great mound of new-mown hay, he swaggered over to the nearest
farmhouse. Pushing in the kitchen window with his trunk, he handed
up to Randy everything the little farmer’s wife had on her kitchen
table–a bowl of milk, a pat of butter, a loaf of bread, a cold half
chicken and three hard-boiled eggs.

“Do control yourself, madam,” he advised, as the palpitating little
lady flattened herself against the opposite wall. “These pearls will
more than pay for your provisions.”

Afraid to touch the lovely chain Kabumpo placed on the table, the
little Ixey watched with round eyes as Kabumpo backed away.

“Ho, I guess that will give her something to tell her grandchildren!”
snorted the Elegant Elephant. Randy was too busy taking rapturous
bites, first of bread and then of chicken, to answer.

“Why is it that everything tastes so much better when you are
traveling?” he remarked a bit later, as he finished off the rest of the
chicken and put the bread, butter and eggs away for his lunch.

“‘Cause we’re hungrier, I suppose,” smiled Kabumpo, crossing another
field, “and then, there’s the novelty.”

Recalling the straw hat with a little chuckle, Kabumpo winked back at
his young rider.

“But now that we’ve breakfasted I think we’d better be moving. I see
some of these farmers gathering up their courage and their pitchforks
and I’m too full to fight.”

“Pooh! they couldn’t hurt us,” boasted Randy, stretching out
comfortably. “I rather wish they hadn’t run off, though, I’d like to
ask them something about the country, and you know, Kabumpo–I’ve never
ridden on a hay wagon in all my life and I’d sorta like to try it.”

“That’s the worst of being a King,” observed Kabumpo, walking carefully
around a brown calf. “You miss a lot of the common and ordinary
pleasures. Hmm–mmn, let’s see, now, all the horses have run off, but
there’s still a heap of hay about–so why shouldn’t you have a ride?”

“Without any wagon?” inquired Randy, looking wistfully at the largest
of the haystacks.

“Why not?” puffed Kabumpo, and lifting Randy hurriedly down from his
back, he rushed at the hayrick, burrowing into it with tusk, feet and
trunk till he was in the exact center. Then heaving up with his back
and forward with his trunk, he pushed till his head stuck out the other
side. “Come ON!” he grunted triumphantly. “You’ll not only have your
hay ride, but I’ll have my lunch!”

Throwing Randy to the top of the load, the Elegant Elephant, looking
far from elegant, set off at a lumbersome gallop, carrying the haystack
right along with him. At sight of his prize hayrick apparently running
away by itself, the outraged owner stuck his head out of the window and
screamed. But that did not bother Kabumpo. The load was but a feather’s
weight to him, and with the young King of Regalia dancing and yelling
on the top, he swept merrily through the startled valley.

Those at the lower end who had not seen Kabumpo arrive, now catching
sight of a load of hay moving off by itself, simply fell against fences
and barn doors, blinking and gulping with astonishment, too stunned and
shocked to return the gay greetings of the nonchalant young Gilliken
riding the load. Kabumpo, sampling stray wisps as he ran and peering
out comically from under the hay, enjoyed to the utmost the sensation
he was causing.

“Make a wish, my boy,” he shouted exuberantly. “It’s awfully lucky to
wish on the first load of hay.”

“Then I wish we would reach the Red Jinn’s castle before night,”
decided Randy. “And wouldn’t Jinnicky laugh if he could see us now? Did
you leave a pearl for the hay, Kabumpo?”

“Certainly,” retorted the elephant, speaking rather stuffily through
the haystack. “We’re travelers, not thieves. Hi! what’s ahead, my lad?
This load has shifted a bit over my left eye and I can scarcely see out
of my right.”

“A dry river bed,” called Randy, bouncing up and down with the keenest
enjoyment. “Go slow, old Push-the-Foot, or you’ll lose your lunch.”

“Not on your life!” puffed the Elegant Elephant. “I’ll stop and eat it
first. Ho–”

“Hay foot, straw foot, any foot will do,
Down the bank and up the bank, and now, how is the view?”

“Elegant,” breathed Randy, grinning to himself at Kabumpo’s verses.
“More fields–meadows–forests, everything!”

“But even so, I smell sulphur!” Kabumpo moved his trunk slowly from
side to side. “Something’s burning, my lad, and close at hand, too.”

“Why, it’s a HORSE!” Randy’s voice cracked from the sheer shock of the
thing. “And coming straight for us, too. Wait! Stop! Hold on! No, maybe
you’d better run. Great Gillikens, it’s smoking!”

“A pipe?” inquired Kabumpo, trying to see through the fringe of hay
that was obscuring his vision. “And what if it is? Am I, the Elegant
Elephant of Oz, to run from a mere and miserable equine?”

“But this horse,” squealed Randy, sliding head first off the haystack,
“this horse is different. Oh, really, REALLY, Kabumpo, I think we’d
better run.”

“Never!” Pushing the hay off his forehead with his trunk, Kabumpo
looked fiercely out, then, with a start that dislodged half the load,
he began backing off as rapidly as he could, dragging Randy along by
the tail of his coat.

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