The Field of Feathers

All afternoon the four travelers moved through the Ixian forest,
Planetty exclaiming over the flowers, ferns and bright birds that
flitted from tree to tree, Thun sending up frequent high-flown
sentences, Kabumpo and Randy looking rather anxiously for some landmark
that would prove they were on the road to Ev. As it grew darker the
Elegant Elephant wisely decided to make camp, stopping in a small, tidy
clearing for that purpose. As Kabumpo swung to an impressive halt,
Randy slid to the ground, pulling the net bags with him, and began
to sort out the boxes containing food. Then he quickly gathered some
faggots for a fire, as the night was raw and chilly, and had Planetty
signal Thun to breathe on the wood. Thun, only too happy to be of some
use, quickly lighted the camp fire and he and the little Princess
watched curiously while Randy prepared his own and Kabumpo’s supper,
making coffee in a tin box with some water Kabumpo had fetched in his
collapsible canvas bucket. The Elegant Elephant did rather well with
the contents of seven cake boxes and four bread and cereal containers,
and Randy found so many good things to eat among Chillywalla’s presents
he felt sorry not to be able to share them with Planetty or Thun.

“It would be more fun if you ate too,” he observed, looking down
sideways at the little Princess, who was sitting on a boulder, hands
clasped about her knees, while she gazed contentedly up at the stars.

“Would it?” Planetty smiled faintly, tapping her silver heels against
the rock. “This seems nite enough,” she sighed, stretching up her arms
luxuriantly, “but now it is time to ret.”

Slipping off her long metal cape, the Princess of Anuther Planet tossed
one end against a white birch and the other to a tall pine. To Randy’s
surprise the ends of the cape instantly attached themselves to the
trees, making a soft flexible hammock. Into this Planetty climbed with
utmost ease and satisfaction.

“Good net, Randy and Big Bumpo, dear,” she called softly. “Take care of
Thun. I’ve told him to stay where he is till the earling, and he will,
he will.”

With a smile Planetty closed her bright eyes and the wind swaying her
silver hammock soon rocked her to sleep. It had been a long day and
Randy felt very drowsy himself. Walking over to the Thunder Colt, he
turned his head so that his fiery breath would fall harmlessly on a
cluster of damp rocks. He was pleased to find this steed from another
planet so obedient and gentle. Though formed of some live and lively
black metal, Thun was soft and satiny to the touch and seemed to enjoy
having his ears scratched and his neck rubbed as much as an ordinary
horse.

“Tap me twice on the shoulder if aught occurs, Slandy,” he signaled,
blowing the words out lazily between Randy’s pats. “And good net to
you, my Nozzies! Good net!”

“That language is just full of foolishness,” sniffed Kabumpo, spreading
a blanket on the ground for Randy, and then stretching himself full
length beneath a beech tree. “Put out the fire, Nozzy, my lad, the
creature’s breath makes light enough to frighten off any wild men or
monsters.”

“Oh, I don’t believe there are any wild beasts or savages in this
forest,” Randy said, stamping out the embers of the camp fire. “It’s
too quiet and peaceful. I have an idea we’re almost across Ix and will
reach Ev by morning. What do you think, Kabumpo?”

Kabumpo made no answer, for the Elegant Elephant had stopped thinking
and was already comfortably asnore. So, with a terrific yawn, Randy
wrapped himself in the blanket and, curling up close to his big and
faithful comrade, fell into an instant and pleasant slumber. Morning
came all too soon, and Randy was rudely awakened by Kabumpo, who was
shaking him violently by the shoulders.

“Come on! Come on!” blustered the Elegant Elephant impatiently. “Stir
out of it, my boy, we’ve all been up for hours. Is it proper to lie
abed and let a Princess light the fire?”

“She didn’t!” Sitting bolt upright, Randy saw that Planetty, with
Thun’s help, actually had lighted a fire and set water to boil in the
tin box just as he had done the evening before.

“Oh, my goodness, goodness, Planetty! You mustn’t do that rough work,”
he exclaimed, hurrying over to take the big cake box from Planetty’s
hands.

“Why not?” beamed the little Princess, hugging the box close. “See, I
have found the great choconut cake for Big Bumpo to eat–I mean neat.”

“Ha, ha! Choconut cake!” Kabumpo swayed merrily from side to side.
“Very neat, my dear. If there’s one thing I love for breakfast it’s
choconut cake.” Laughing so he could hardly keep his balance, Kabumpo
held out his trunk for the cake box. “What a splendid little castle
keeper you’ll make for some young King, Netty, my child!”

“Netty? Is that now my name?” Planetty pushed back her flying cloud of
hair with an interested sniff.

“If you like it,” said Randy, his ears turning quite red at Kabumpo’s
teasing remarks. Leading the little Princess to a flat rock, he sat her
down with great ceremony and then began opening up boxes of crackers
and fruit.

“Netty’s a nite name,” decided the Princess, her head thoughtfully on
one side. “I must tell Thun.”

Skipping over to the Thunder Colt, who with drooping head and tail was
enjoying a little colt nap, she tapped out her new nickname in the
strange code she used when talking to him.

“No longer Planetty of Anuther Planet!” flashed Thun, awake in a
twinkling and sending up his message in a shower of sparks. “But
Anetty of Oz!”

“At least he’s left off the N,” mumbled Kabumpo, speaking thickly
through the cocoanut cake which he had tossed whole into his capacious
mouth. “Sounds rather well, don’t you think?”

“Wonderful!” agreed Randy, who could scarcely keep his eyes off the
sparkling little Princess. “It’s too bad she’s not like us, Kabumpo,
then she could go back to Oz and stay there always.”

“If she were like us, she wouldn’t be so interesting,” said Kabumpo,
shaking his head judiciously. “Besides, down here the poor child is
completely out of her element and liable to disintegrate or suffocate
or Ev knows what–” he went on, discarding a box of prunes for a carton
of tea.

“How was the cake?” Randy changed the subject, for he could not bear to
think of Planetty in danger of any sort.

“Stale,” announced Kabumpo, making a wry face as he swallowed some tea
leaves. “I’ll certainly be glad to catch up with some regular elephant
food. This eating bits out of boxes is diabolical–simply diabolical!
Here, give me those crackers and eat some of that other stuff. And look
at little Netty Ann, would you, shaking out that blanket as if she’d
been traveling with us for years. Why, the lass is a born housewife!”

“And isn’t she pretty?” smiled Randy, waving to Planetty as he began
packing the boxes in the net bags again and stamping out the fire. “I
wonder what it’s like up where she lives, Kabumpo?”

“Why not ask her?” Swinging up his saddle sacks, Kabumpo called gaily
to the little Princess, who came running over, the blanket neatly
folded on her arm.

“Thank you, Netty. You are certainly a great help to us!” Taking the
blanket and giving her an approving pat on the shoulder, Randy caught
hold of Kabumpo’s belt strap and pulled himself easily aloft. “All
ready to go?”

Planetty nodded cheerfully as she mounted the Thunder Colt.

“Will this lightling be as nite as the last?” she demanded, tapping
Thun gently with her staff.

“Nicer,” promised Randy as Thun pranced merrily ahead, Planetty’s long
cape billowing like a silver cloud behind them.

“What do you do when you are at home?” called Randy as Kabumpo, giving
two short trumpets, followed close on the heels of the Thunder Colt.

“Home?” Planetty turned a frankly puzzled face.

“I mean, do you have a house or a castle?” persisted Randy, determined
to have the matter settled in his mind once for all. “Do you have
brothers and sisters, and is your father a King?”

“No house, no castle, no those other words,” answered Planetty in even
greater bewilderment. “On Anuther Planet each is to herself or himself
alone. One floats, rides, skips or drifts through the leadling heights
and lowlands, hanging the cape where one happens to be.”

“Regular gypsies,” murmured Kabumpo under his breath. “So nobody
belongs to nobody, and nobody has anybody? Sounds kind of crazy to me.”

“Yes, if you have no families, no fathers or mothers–” Randy was
plainly distressed by such a country and existence–“I don’t see how
you came to be at all.”

“We rise full grown from our Vanadium springs, and naturally I have my
own spring. Is that, then, my father?”

“Tell her ‘yes,'” hissed Kabumpo between his tusks. “Why mix her all
up with our way of doing things? If she wants a spring for a father,
let her have it!” Kabumpo waved his trunk largely. “Ho, ho, kerumph!
I’ve always thought of springs as a cure for rheumatism, but live and
learn–eh, Randy–live and learn.”

Randy paid small attention to the Elegant Elephant’s asides; he was
too busy explaining life as it was lived in Oz to Planetty, making it
all so bright and fascinating, the eyes of the little Princess fairly
sparkled with interest and envy.

“I think I will not go with you to this Wizard of Ev,” she announced in
a small voice as the young King paused for breath. “I do not believe I
shall like that old wizard or his castle.”

Touching Thun with her staff, Planetty turned the Thunder Colt sideways
and went zigzagging so rapidly through the trees they almost lost sight
of her entirely.

“Now what?” stormed the Elegant Elephant, charging recklessly after her
through the forest. “What’s come over the little netwit? Come back!
Come back, you foolish girl!” he trumpeted anxiously. “We’ll take
you to Oz after you’ve been to Ev,” he added with a sudden burst of
comprehension.

At Kabumpo’s promise, Planetty half turned on her charger. “But this
Wizard of Ev will send us back to Anuther Planet. It is yourself that
has said so.”

“No, no! We just said he would help you!” shouted Randy, leaning
forward and waving both arms for Planetty to turn back. “Oh, you really
must see Jinnicky,” he begged earnestly. “Without his magic you cannot
live away from that Vanadium spring. Do you want to be stiff and still
as a statue for the rest of your days?”

“I’d rather be a statue down here with you and Bumpo, where the birds
sing and the flowers grow and the woods are green and wonderful, than
to be a live Princess of Anuther Planet!” sighed the metal maiden,
hiding her face in Thun’s mane.

“You WOULD?” cried Randy, almost falling off the elephant in his
extreme joy and excitement. “Then you just SHALL, and Jinnicky will
change everything so you can live down here always and come back to Oz
with Kabumpo and me! Would you like that, Planetty?”

“Oh, that would be netiful!” Clasping Thun with both arms, the little
Princess laid her soft cheek against his neck. “NETIFUL!”

“Then ride on, Princess! Ride on!” Kabumpo spoke gruffly, for his
feelings had quite overcome him. “Toss me a ‘kerchief, will you,
Randy?” he gulped desperately. “Oh, boo hoo, kerSNIFF! To think she
really likes us that much! Do you think she’d hear if I blew my trunk?”

“No, no, she’s way ahead of us now,” whispered Randy, handing an
enormous handkerchief down to Kabumpo after taking a sly wipe on it
himself. “Oh, isn’t this a gorgeous day, Kabumpo, and isn’t everything
turning out splendidly? And see there–we’ve actually come to the end
of the forest.”

“Good Gapers, everything’s pink!” marveled Randy as Kabumpo, still
muttering and snuffling, pushed his way through the last fringe of the
forest.

“So now we’re in the pink, eh?” With a last convulsive snort, Kabumpo
stuffed the handkerchief into a lower pocket and trumpeted three times
for Thun to halt. “Are those flowers, d’ye ‘spose? May I see one of
them, my dear?”

Catching up with the little Princess who was already on the edge of the
field, Kabumpo took the long spray she had picked and passed it back
to Randy.

“My gooseness, it’s a feather! The largest and finest I’ve ever seen,”
Randy said in surprise. “Hey, I always thought feathers grew on birds,
yet here’s a whole field of feathers, Kabumpo–imagine that! And taller
than I am, too.”

“Well, there’s no harm in feathers,” observed Kabumpo jocularly. “Pick
a plume for your bonnet, my child. The girls in our countries adorn
themselves with these pretty fripperies. I’ve even worn them myself
at court functions,” he admitted self-consciously. “But do you think
you can hold the colt’s head up as we go through? Burnt feathers smell
rather awful, and we don’t wish to anger the owner or spoil his crop.”

A bit confused by the word “owner” and “crop,” Planetty nevertheless
caught the idea and explained it so cleverly to Thun, the Thunder Colt
started through the field, holding his head high and handsome so that
the flames spurted upward and not down.

“It was rather like ploughing through a wheat field,” decided Randy
as Kabumpo, treading lightly as he could, stepped after Thun. It was,
though, more like a sea of waving plumes, endlessly bending, nodding
and rippling in the wind. Planetty gathered armfuls of these bright
and newest treasures, liking them almost as much as the flowers in the
forest. Thun, for his part, found the whole experience irksome in the
extreme.

“These pink feathers give me the big pain in the neck,” he puffed up
indignantly as he trotted along with his head in the air. Planetty,
reading his message with a little smile, was astonished to hear a
series of roars and explosions behind her. Surely Thun’s remarks were
not as funny as all that! Turning round, she was shocked to see Kabumpo
swaying and stumbling in his tracks, coughing and spluttering, and torn
by such gigantic guffaws he had already shaken Randy from his back. The
young King himself rolled and twisted on the ground, fairly gasping for
breath.

“It’s the feathers!” he gasped weakly, as Planetty, leaping off the
Thunder Colt, ran back to investigate. “They’re tickling us to death.
Get away quickly, Netty, dear, before they get you–Oh, ha, ha, HAH!
Oh, ho, ho! Quick! Before it is too late. Oh, hi, hi, hi! I shall die
laughing!” To the startled little Princess he appeared to be dying
already.

“No, no! Please not!” she cried, dropping her armful of feathers.

With surprising strength she jerked Randy upright and, in spite of his
continued roars and wild writhing, managed to fling him across Thun’s
back. Now Kabumpo was down, kicking and rolling hysterically. It seemed
to Planetty that the feathers were wickedly alive and tickling them on
purpose. They tossed, swayed and brushed against her and Thun, too, but
having no effect on the metalic skin of the Nuthers, curled away in
distaste.

“Stop! Stop! I hate you!” screamed Planetty, stamping on the bunch she
had picked a moment before, then struggling in vain to pull Kabumpo up
by his trunk. “Thun! Thun! What shall we do?”

Racing back to the Thunder Colt, Planetty tapped out all that was
happening to their best and only friends, holding the convulsed and
still laughing Randy in place with one hand as she did so. Thun, from
anxious glances over his shoulder, had guessed more than half the
difficulty.

“Search in the Kabumpty’s pocket for something to tie round him so I
may pull him out of the feathers,” flashed the Thunder Colt, swinging
in a circle to prance and stamp on the plumes still curling down to
tickle the helpless boy on his back.

Feeling in Kabumpo’s pockets as he tossed and lashed about was hard
enough, but Planetty, who was quick and clever, soon found a long,
stout, heavily linked gold chain Kabumpo twisted round and round his
neck on important occasions. Slipping the chain through his belt,
the little Princess clasped the other ends round the Thunder Colt’s
chest, making a strong and splendid harness. Then, mounting quickly
and holding desperately to Randy, Planetty gave the signal for Thun to
start. And away through the deadly field charged the night black steed,
burning feathers left and right with his flashing breath and dragging
Kabumpo along as easily as if he had been a sack of potatoes instead of
a two-ton elephant. The feathers bending beneath made the going soft so
that the Elegant Elephant did not suffer so much as a scratch, and Thun
galloped so swiftly that in less than ten minutes they had reached the
other side of the beautiful but treacherous field. Going half a mile
beyond, Thun came to an anxious halt, the golden chain falling slack
around his ankles, while Planetty jumped down to see how Kabumpo was
doing now.

The Elegant Elephant had stopped laughing, but his eyes still rolled
and his muscles still twitched and rippled from the terrible tickling
he had endured. Randy, exhausted and weak, hung like a dummy stuffed
with straw over the Thunder Colt’s back.

“Oh, we were too late, too long!” mourned Planetty, wringing her
hands and running distractedly between the Elegant Elephant and the
insensible King. “Oh, my netness, they will become stiff and still as
Nuthers deprived of their springs,” she tapped out dolefully to Thun.

“Do not be too sure.” The Thunder Colt puffed out his message slowly.
“See, already the big Kabumpty is trying to rise.”

And such, indeed, was the case. Astonished and mortified to find
himself stretched on the ground in broad daylight and still too
confused to realize what had happened, the Elegant Elephant lurched to
his feet and stood blinking uncertainly around. Then, his eyes suddenly
coming into proper focus, he caught sight of Randy lying limply across
the Thunder Colt.

“What in Oz? What in Ix? What in Ev is the matter here?” he panted,
wobbling dizzily over to Thun.

“Feathers!” sighed Planetty, clasping both arms round Kabumpo’s trunk
and beginning to pat and smooth its wrinkled surface. “The feathers
tickled you and you fell down, my poor Bumpo. Randy too was almost
laughed to the death. What does death mean?” Planetty looked up
anxiously into his eyes.

“Great Grump! So that was it! Great Gillikens! I remember now, we were
both nearly tickled to death and it was awful, AWFUL! Not that Ozians
ever do die,” he explained hastily, “but, after all, we are not in Oz
and anything might have happened. And what I’d like to know is how in
Ev we ever got out of those feathers.”

“Thun pulled you out,” Planetty told him proudly. “And look, LOOK,
Bumpo dear, Randy is going to waken, too.”

“Randy! Randy, do you hear that?” Kabumpo lifted the young King down
and shook him gently backward and forward. “This colt of Planetty’s,
this Thunder Colt, all by himself, mind you, pulled us out of that
infernal feather field! You and me, but mostly me. Now tell me how did
he manage to pull an elephant all that way?”

Randy, only half comprehending what Kabumpo was saying, said nothing,
but Thun, guessing Kabumpo’s question, threw back his head and puffed
quickly:

“We Nuthers are strong as iron, Master. Strong for ourselves, strong
for our friends. Thun, the Thunder Colt, will always be strong for
Kabumpty!”

“Strong! Strong? Why, you’re marvelous,” gasped the Elegant Elephant.

Placing Randy on the ground, he fished jewels from his pocket with
a reckless trunk till he found a band of pearls to fit Thun. Then
carelessly risking the sparks from the Thunder Colt’s nostrils, he
fastened the pearls in place.

“Tell him, tell him THANKS!” he blurted out breathlessly. “Tell him
from now on we are friends and equals, friends and warriors, together!”

With a pleased nod Planetty translated for Thun, and the delighted
colt, tossing his flying mane, raced round and round his three
comrades, filling the air with high-flown and flaming sentences.

“Friends and warriors!” he heralded, rearing joyously. “Friends and
warriors!”

By this time Randy had recovered his breath and his memory and felt not
only able but impatient to continue the journey. The field of feathers
could still be seen waving pink and provokingly in the distance, but
without one backward glance the four travelers set their faces to the
north. A few of Chillywalla’s boxes had been crushed while Kabumpo
rolled in the feathers, and he and Randy still felt weak and worn from
their dreadful experience, but these were small matters when they
considered the dreadful fate they had escaped through the quick action
of Planetty and Thun.

“I always thought of Ix as a pleasant country,” sighed Randy as Kabumpo
moved slowly along a shady by-path.

“I don’t believe this is Ix,” stated the Elegant Elephant bluntly.
“The air’s different, smells salty, and this sandy road looks as if we
might be near the sea. I think myself that we’ve come north by east
through Ix into Ev and will reach the Nonestic Ocean by evening.”
Kabumpo paused to peer up at a rough board nailed to a pine.

“So! You got through the feathers, did you?” sneered the notice in
threatening red letters. “Then so much the worse for you! Beware! Watch
out! Gludwig the Glubrious has his eye on you.”

“Glubrious!” sniffed Kabumpo, elevating his trunk scornfully as Randy
read and re-read the impertinent message. “I don’t recall anyone named
Gludwig, do you?”

“Sounds rather awful, doesn’t it?” whispered Randy, sliding to the
ground to examine the billboard from all sides. “Say, look here,
Kabumpo, there’s something on the back. It’s been scratched out with
red chalk, but I can still read it.”

“Then read it,” advised Kabumpo briefly.

“This is the Land of Ev! Everybody welcome! Take this road to the
Castle of the Red Jinn.”

“Oh, that means we’re almost there!” exulted the young King, but his
joy evaporated quickly as he re-read the other side of the board.

“Looks as if someone had switched signs on Jinnicky,” he muttered,
pushing back his crown with a little whistle. “Do you think anything
has happened to him?”

“Probably some mischievous country boy trying out his chalk,” answered
the Elegant Elephant, not believing one of his own words. “Straight on,
my dear,” he called cheerfully to Planetty, who had pulled in the colt
and was looking questioningly back at them. “At last we are in the Land
of Ev, and just ahead lies the castle of our wizard.”

“Oh, Bumpo, how nite!” Planetty hugged herself from pure joy. “I’ve
never seen a castle, I’ve never seen a wizard!”

“But, Kabumpo–” worried Randy as the little Princess of Anuther Planet
galloped gaily ahead of them. “Suppose this Gludwig really has his eye
on us? Suppose he rushes out before we can reach Jinnicky’s castle?”

“Well, that will not be very ‘nite,’ will it?” The Elegant Elephant
spoke ruefully. “But what can we do? Are we going to stop for a mere
sign?”

“No!” declared Randy, feeling about for his sword. “Of course not. But
I’ll wager a Willikin he was the fellow who planted those feathers.”

“Very likely,” agreed Kabumpo, pushing grimly along through the sand.

The further they traveled into Ev, the more interesting the country
became to Planetty and Thun. Now wild orange and lemon trees added
their spicy tang to the salty air; waving palms edged the sandy
roadway, and after traversing a grove of lordly cocoanut trees the four
suddenly found themselves facing the great, green, rolling Nonestic.

“A spring!” caroled Planetty, galloping Thun down to the water’s edge.
“Oh, never have I seen so netiful a spring!”

“Not a spring, Princess, an ocean,” corrected Kabumpo, ambling good
naturedly after Thun. “This is a salt salt sea, full of ships, sailors,
shells, crabs, islands, fish and fishermen.”

“And will I see all of them?” Slipping from Thun’s back Planetty waded
out a little way, hopping gleefully over the edges of the smaller waves.

“Some time,” promised Randy, dismounting hastily to keep her from
venturing too far. “Look over your shoulder, Netty,” he urged, drawing
her back toward shore, “and then tell me what you think!”

Explaining this gay, wide and wonderful world to the little Princess of
Anuther Planet, Randy found more fun than anything he had ever done or
imagined. Tense with expectation, he and Kabumpo watched as Planetty
gazed off to the right.

“Why–’tis a high, high hill of red that glitters! Or what? What is
it?” Planetty whirled Thun round so he could see, too.

“It’s a castle, m’lass.” Kabumpo swaggered down the beach, as if he
alone were responsible for all its splendor and magnificence. “There
you see the imperial palace of the Wizard of Ev, built from turret to
cellar of finest red glass studded with rubies, and there, this night,
we will be suitably entertained by Jinnicky himself.”

“The inside’s even better than the outside,” Randy whispered in
Planetty’s ear, as she tapped out this astonishing news to the Thunder
Colt. “Come on, come on, it’s not more than a mile, and we can go
straight along the edge of the sea shore. Say, weren’t we lucky not to
run into Gludwig?” Pulling himself up on Kabumpo’s back, Randy spoke
the words softly. “It would have been too bad to have the first person
outside of ourselves that Planetty met turn out a villain. I believe
that sign WAS a joke.”

“Well, everything seems all right so far,” admitted the Elegant
Elephant guardedly. “But keep your eyes open, my boy–keep your eyes
open. Is that a welcome committee marching along the beach, or is it an
army?”

“They’re still too far away to tell,” answered Randy. “Looks to me like
all Jinnicky’s blacks; I can see their baggy red trousers and turbans.”

“Yes, but what’s that gleaming in the sunlight?” demanded Kabumpo,
curling up his trunk uneasily.

“Only their scimiters,” Randy said, standing up to have a better
view. “Each man is carrying a scimiter over his shoulder, but that’s
perfectly all right, they’re probably parading for our benefit.”

“Mm-mm! Sometimes things are not what they scim-iter!” sniffed Kabumpo,
snapping his eyes suspiciously. But Randy, paying no attention to
the Elegant Elephant’s remark, was feeling round in the net bags
for Chillywalla’s band box, and next moment the lively strains of a
military march filled the air.

Swinging along in time to the music, Kabumpo peered sharply at the
oncoming host for signs of Alibabble, or Ginger, the slave of the
bell, or some of Jinnicky’s other old and trusted counselors. But in
all that great throng there was no one familiar face, and because he
was beginning to feel more than a bit worried, Kabumpo lifted his feet
higher and higher. “Everything looks black, very black,” he muttered
dubiously.

“Why not?” cried Randy, waving his arms like a bandmaster. “They’re all
as black as the ace of spades. Mind you, Planetty, it takes all these
black men to take care of Jinnicky and his castle.”

“And will they take care of us?” Planetty eyed the marchers with
positive amazement and alarm. “So many,” she murmured in a hushed
voice, “so black. I thought everyone down here would be like you and
Bumpo.”

“My, no,” Randy told her complacently. “Everyone is liable to be
different. I believe I’ll toss out some of Chillywalla’s boxes.
Visitors should come bearing presents, you know!”

Hastily Randy began pulling out boxes of candy, boxes of cigarettes,
beads, cigars and whole suits of clothing to dazzle Jinnicky’s
subjects. But when the leader of the procession came within ten feet of
the travelers he threw back his head and emitted such a blood-curdling
howl, Randy’s hair rose on his head, and as the rest of the blacks,
brandishing scimiters and yelling threats and imprecations, came
leaping toward them, the desperate young King began hurling down boxes
as if they were bombs. He caught the Headman on the chin with the
bandbox, but while it stopped the music it did not stop the gigantic
Evian from slashing at Thun. As his scimiter fell, Kabumpo gave a
trumpet that felled the whole front rank of the enemy, and snatching up
the villain in his trunk, he hurled him back among his men.

“Is this–is this taking care of us?” shuddered Planetty, clasping her
arms round the neck of the plunging Thunder Colt.

“No, no! My goodness, NO! Is Thun hurt? Quick, Kabumpo!” screamed Randy
as a second scimiter slashed down on Thun’s flank. Then he managed
to breathe again, for the razor-sharp weapon glanced harmlessly off
the metal coat of Planetty’s coal black charger. The wielder of the
scimiter, however, did not escape so easily, for a hot blast from
Thun’s nostrils sent him reeling backward.

“That’s it! Give it to them! Give it to them!” shouted Randy,
forgetting in his excitement that Thun could not hear, and he himself
hurled Chillywalla’s boxes hard and viciously and one after the other.
As for Kabumpo, every time he raised his trunk there was a black man in
it, and as fast as they came he slung them over his shoulder.

But it was Planetty who really turned the tide of battle. While Randy,
who had exhausted his supply of boxes, was digging desperately in
Kabumpo’s pockets for some more missiles, he heard a perfect chorus of
terrified screeches. Popping up with an umbrella and an alarm clock,
he saw the Princess of Anuther Planet standing erect on the galloping
colt’s back, calmly and precisely casting her staff at the foe. Each
time the staff struck, the victim, in whatever attitude he happened to
be, was frozen into a motionless metal figure. After each stroke the
staff returned to Planetty’s hand.

“Yah, yah, mah–MASTER!” wailed the frantic blacks who were still able
to move, and tumbling over one another in their effort to escape, they
fled wildly back to the Red Castle, leaving behind sixty of their
vanquished brethren.

“You–you–YOU’LL be sorry for this!” shouted the Headman, tearing off
his turban and waving it as he ran.

“So will you!” bellowed Kabumpo fiercely. “Just wait till Jinnicky
hears about this! How dare you treat his visitors in this violent
wicked fashion?”

“Jinnicky! Jinnicky!” jeered the Headman as Planetty aimed her staff
threateningly at his back. “Jinnicky is at the bottom of the sea!”

“Mm–Mnnn! Mnmph! I knew it, I knew it!” groaned the Elegant Elephant
as the Headman reached the palace and scittered wildly up the glass
steps. “I knew something was wrong the moment I saw those scimiters.”

“Jinnicky gone! Jinnicky at the bottom of the sea? Why, I just can’t
believe it!” Randy, glancing over his shoulder at the tumbling
Nonestic, looked almost ready to cry. Then putting back his shoulders,
he declared fiercely, “Well, I’M not going off and leave this old
pirate in Jinnicky’s castle, are you? It must be Gludwig’s doing–all
this! Let’s go inside and throw him out of there! We have lots of help
now. Thun’s a regular flame thrower and Planetty’s worth a whole army,
and best of all nothing can hurt them. Why didn’t you tell me you had
a magic staff?” Randy looked admiringly down at the resolute little
Princess at his side. “Why, with that staff we can conquer anybody.”

“Is that what you call the magic?” Planetty regarded her staff with new
interest.

“It certainly is!” panted Kabumpo, fanning himself with a handy palm
leaf. “And we’re mighty sorry to have gotten you into all this danger
and trouble, my dear. Looks as if we had a war on our hands instead of
a pleasant vacation.”

“Oh, that! It is nothing, nothing!” Planetty shrugged her shoulders
eloquently. “On our planet we too have the bad beasts and Nuthers, and
when they try to hit or bite us, we just subdue them with our voral
staffs.”

“Mmmn–mn! So I see.” Kabumpo, still fanning himself, looked
thoughtfully at Gludwig’s petrified warriors. “There must be a goodly
bit of statuary on your planet, m’lass?”

“Very many,” answered Planetty soberly, polishing her staff on the end
of her cape. With a slight shudder the Elegant Elephant turned from the
fallen slaves, resolving then and there never to offend this pretty but
powerful little metal maiden.

“Well, have the scoundrels dispersed and gone for good?” inquired Thun,
sending up his question in a cloud of black smoke. Restively pawing
the ground, the Thunder Colt looked from one to the other waiting for
someone to enlighten him.

“Tell him they’ve gone, but for nobody’s good,” wheezed Kabumpo, who
was still out of breath from the violence of the combat. “Tell him
Gludwig the Glubrious has destroyed the Wizard of Ev and that we are
now going into the castle to continue the battle.”

“But where shall we start?” sighed Randy, staring despondently up at
the gay red palace where he and Kabumpo had been so royally entertained
on their last visit.

“We’ll start at the bottom of these steps,” announced Kabumpo grimly,
“and mount on up to the top. Then we’ll burst into the presence of this
wretched wart and fling him out of the window.”

“But that won’t help Jinnicky if he’s at the bottom of the sea,”
mourned Randy, trying to smile at Planetty, who was busily tapping off
instructions to Thun.

“Hah! but don’t forget, Jinnicky’s a wizard,” sniffed Kabumpo, pulling
in his belt a few inches, “and nobody can keep a good wizard down.
Besides,” Kabumpo dragged his robe a bit to the left and straightened
his head-piece, “once inside that castle, we can use some of the Red
Jinn’s own magic to help him.”

“Magic? Why, of course, I’d forgotten about that.” Randy’s face cleared
and brightened and seeing Planetty and Thun so eager and unafraid
beside him, he girded on his sword and standing upright on Kabumpo’s
back, gave the signal to start. As they trod up the hundred red glass
steps they could hear windows and doors slamming, the patter of running
feet and the tinkle of the hundred glass chimes in the tower. But step
by step, and without a pause, Thun and Kabumpo mounted to the top.

“Beware! Beware, Gludwig the Glubrious! Here march Kabumpty and Thun,
Slandy and Planetty, Princess of Anuther Planet. Friends, equals and
warriors!”

The Thunder Colt’s flaming message, floating like a battle emblem in
the air, alarmed the wicked occupant of Jinnicky’s castle even more
than the invaders themselves. But still confident of his power to
vanquish all comers, he waited in evil anticipation for the moment when
they would force their way into his presence. Did they imagine because
they had frightened a company of foolish slaves they could frighten him?

“Ha, ha!” Crouched on the Red Jinn’s throne and laughing mirthlessly,
Gludwig rubbed his long hands up and down his skinny knees.

You may also like