The Magic Airmobile

“Hello!”

Twink, Tom, and Twiffle stopped in their tracks. From out of nowhere
had suddenly appeared a man of medium height with rosy cheeks,
twinkling blue eyes, shaggy hair and clothing that, while it was
composed of the finest silks and satins, was nevertheless a mass of
shags and bobtails.

Twiffle was so surprised he found it impossible to speak. Twink was
regarding the stranger seriously. Suddenly recognition lighted up her
eyes. “Oh, it can’t be!” the little girl cried. “You just can’t be the
famous Shaggy Man of Oz!”

The Shaggy Man smiled. “Don’t know about the famous part, but I am
known as the Shaggy Man, and until a few seconds ago I was in the Land
of Oz.”

“Oh! Seeing you here made me think maybe this was a part of the Land
of Oz,” said Twink, who had begun to hope since the moment she had
recognized the Shaggy Man.

Tom was regarding the new arrival curiously. “Yes,” he said, “you
certainly do look just like your pictures in the books. How did you get
here so fast?–magic? I suppose the Land of Oz is quite a distance.”

“Right, both times!” replied the Shaggy Man. “Ozma sent me here with
her Magic Belt, and the Land of Oz is many miles away from here.”

“Why did Ozma send you?” asked Twink.

“Oh, I have a little business with this Conjo fellow,” answered the
Shaggy Man.

“You have business with Conjo?” Twiffle had recovered from his
astonishment. “Then you must forgive me for not greeting you more
properly. It is so seldom that we have visitors on the island.”

“Looks like you already have two visitors,” observed the Shaggy Man,
staring at Twink and Tom.

“Yes, but they were expected–and invited,” pointed out Twiffle primly.
“However, since you have business with Conjo, and we are on our way to
see him, there is no reason you should not accompany us.”

“No reason whatever,” agreed the Shaggy Man. “I hope this Conjo has
plenty of big red apples.”

“Why?” asked Tom.

“They happen to be my favorite food, that’s all,” explained the Shaggy
Man.

Led by Twiffle, the Shaggy Man and the two children were advancing
over the meadow toward the Castle of Conjo. The sun was now setting,
burnishing the spires and turrets of the castle with rich hues of gold
and copper. The Shaggy Man judged they had less than a half a mile to
travel to the castle doors.

“Don’t you children think introductions are in order?” asked the Shaggy
Man, “since you seem to know me already.”

“Well,” Twink began, “this is Twiffle who is a third cousin of Twoffle.”

Twiffle bowed briefly and the Shaggy Man nodded.

“And this is Tom, and I am Twink. We live in Buffalo.”

“Wait a minute,” interrupted the Shaggy Man. “How did you happen to get
a name like Twink?”

“Twink and Tom are not our real names,” explained Tom. “Our parents
named us Abbadiah and Zebbidiah.”

“Why did they do that?” asked the Shaggy Man indignantly.

“Well,” Tom went on, “they didn’t expect twins–we are twins, you
know–and they couldn’t make up their minds what to name us. So they
just picked names at the beginning and end of the alphabet. That’s how
we came to be named from A to Z.”

The Shaggy Man sighed.

“And then,” Twink carried on, “I began to toddle when I was supposed
to be still crawling, and everyone called me Twink, because I got from
one place to another in a twinkle. Tom got his nickname in a funny way,
too.”

“I have always been interested in everything mechanical and
electrical,” explained Tom, “so when I was only two years old and took
my toy phonograph apart to see where the little men and women who made
the talking and music were, my Father said: ‘Why, you’re a regular
little Tom Edison.’ And so ever since then I have been Tom.”

“At least they are better than those other names,” said the Shaggy Man.

Conjo’s castle loomed even larger, casting lengthening shadows, as the
sun lowered behind it. In a few more minutes Twiffle had led them to a
large door that was evidently the entrance of the castle. Hanging on
the door was a sign which Twink, Tom, and the Shaggy Man read.

CASTLE OF CONJO
WORKING WIZARD

“This way, please,” said Twiffle. The door opened at his touch, and
they entered.

All they could see was a vast corridor with doors on each side. At the
end of the corridor was a handsome marble staircase that wound to the
upper floors.

Twiffle’s little wooden feet pattered busily down the polished marble
floor of the corridor, until he came to an arch-shaped doorway upon
which hung the sign:

QUIET!
WIZARD AT WORK

As they paused before this door with its strange admonition, the Shaggy
Man and his friends heard a sound that reminded them of a buzz-saw.

“I wonder,” ventured Twink, “if Conjo is building some new magical
machine?”

Twiffle disregarded the little girl’s question and proceeded to push
the door which opened as easily as had the door of the castle.

Inside they found a vast, domed room. All around the sides of the
room was a series of tables, work-benches, and tall cabinets. The
tables and benches were filled with every kind of chemical instrument
imaginable–beakers, retorts, test tubes, hundreds of bottles of
different kinds of colored liquids, crucibles, and a series of burners
over which simmered vials and pots of chemical mixtures. From these
rose vari-colored vapors, filling the room with a pungent haze. The
cabinet shelves were crowded and jumbled with thousands of containers
of various powders, ointments, and mixtures used by wizards in working
their magic spells. One cabinet contained nothing but books of magic
recipes and formulas–everything from changing people into door-knobs
to curing headaches.

The Shaggy Man and the children had scarcely glanced at all this array
of tools and materials for working magic, when their attention was
drawn to a huge divan that rested in the very middle of the marble
floor of the great chamber. This luxurious divan was covered with the
softest and most expensive of rich velvet robes and comforts. Curled
up in a ball in the midst of the blankets and downy, satin-covered
cushions was a little man. He was snoring.

Twink almost laughed aloud. So this was Conjo, the working Wizard! She
realized now it was Conjo’s snoring they had mistaken for the sound of
a buzz-saw.

Twiffle seemed neither surprised nor disturbed to find his master
sound asleep. The little clown trotted over to the handsome divan and,
seizing Conjo by the shoulders, shook him vigorously.

The Shaggy Man was grinning broadly, and Tom was holding a hand over
his mouth to suppress his laughter.

Sputtering and yawning, Conjo sat up on the divan. Since he was rubbing
the sleep out of his eyes with his knuckles, he did not see his guests
for several seconds. Then he blinked, yawned widely, and smiling a
little foolishly said: “Well, wiz my wand if it isn’t Twink and Tom.”

“You already know us?” asked Twink.

“Oh, goodness yes,” replied Conjo, stretching lazily. “Twiffle has been
telling me about you for years–ever since you were mere babies. I let
Twiffle visit your friend Twoffle in your home, you know. Send him
there by my magic,” explained Conjo proudly.

Conjo was coming more awake every minute. “Jumping June Bugs!” he
exclaimed as his eyes fell on the Shaggy Man. “I didn’t tell Twiffle to
bring your Father along–or is this person your Grandfather?”

“Neither one,” said the Shaggy Man with an amused smile. “Your magic
had nothing to do with my coming here, Conjo. I came of my own accord.”

“Came from where?” demanded Conjo, and then went on before the Shaggy
Man had a chance to answer: “You were shipwrecked–that must be it, of
course–you are a poor, forlorn castaway–a helpless victim of the deep
and mighty ocean.”

“No,” contradicted the Shaggy Man, “I was not shipwrecked. I came here
from the Land of Oz.”

Conjo started. “The Land of Oz!” he exclaimed incredulously. “You
mean the Emerald City–Ozma–Dorothy–the Scarecrow–the Tin
Woodman–Scraps–Toto—-” and then because he was out of breath the
Wizard concluded weakly “and all of that?”

“I see you have heard of the Land of Oz,” said the Shaggy Man, “so
perhaps you will know why I am here.”

Conjo, who was a fat, bald little man, not much taller than Twink or
Tom, with a fringe of white hair about his pink head, closed his
little eyes, placed a forefinger on his cherry-like nose, and thought
hard.

“You will just have to tell me,” he said, opening his eyes and staring
appealingly at the Shaggy Man. “I don’t have a single idea. It usually
takes several hours after I wake up before I get any ideas–and it is
so seldom that we have shipwrecks.”

“I told you,” the Shaggy Man reminded Conjo patiently, “that I was not
shipwrecked. I came here from the Land of Oz to ask you to do me a
favor.”

“A favor?” said Conjo, thinking hard. “Why, that is strange indeed!
The last shipwrecked person who was here wanted me to do him a favor,
too. He stayed several months and then wanted to return to his home. He
asked me to make a boat for him. That was an easy trick. And because
the fellow wasn’t a bad sort at all, I made him a present–I gave him
one of my newest creations–the Love Magnet.”

“The Love Magnet,” gasped the Shaggy Man.

“Don’t interrupt, please,” went on Conjo. “Not polite, you know. This
shipwrecked person tied the Love Magnet onto the mast of his boat and
set sail. Last I ever saw of him. Understand he encountered a whale,
who, upon seeing the man and the Love Magnet, became so fond of the
fellow that he ate him.”

Conjo wiped a tear from his eye.

The Shaggy Man wasn’t sure whether the Wizard was serious or was poking
fun at him. He decided to pretend, at any rate, that he accepted
Conjo’s absurd story, saying, “Well, apparently the unfortunate man’s
boat was blown ashore and an Eskimo found the Love Magnet, for it was
an Eskimo who gave it to me, and I took it to the Land of Oz.”

“My Love Magnet in the Land of Oz!” exclaimed Conjo.

“No,” replied the Shaggy Man, “not _your_ Love Magnet, since you gave
it away. It now belongs to all the people of the Land of Oz. That is
why I am here now. The Love Magnet has been broken. The favor I ask you
is to repair it, since you, its creator, are the only person who can do
that.”

Twink and Tom had been listening with deep interest to this
conversation. They had read about the Love Magnet and they were
surprised to learn that it had been broken.

“Of course, of course, my dear Shaggy Man, for I perceive that is
indeed who you are–a quite famous personage of the Land of Oz,” Conjo
was wide awake now. “I shall be most happy to mend the Love Magnet if
it can be mended. But surely you don’t expect me to do so important and
difficult a feat of magic without–a–er–let us say–a reward?”

“Yes, that’s it,” said Conjo, nodding his round head so violently that
his three chins rippled like the steps of an escalator. “You have asked
me to do you a favor–a very great favor–so it is only just that I
should claim a reward. That’s fair, isn’t it?”

Conjo was regarding the Shaggy Man with eyes from which was gone the
somewhat foolish innocence.

The Shaggy Man considered uneasily. He was beginning to remember
Ozma’s warning that Conjo was not to be trusted entirely. “What kind of
a reward could I give you?” the Shaggy Man asked.

Conjo’s finger shot out, pointing toward the Shaggy Man. “That,” he
said. “That in your pocket will be my reward!”

Involuntarily the Shaggy Man’s hand went to his pocket in which rested
the Magic Compass Ozma had given him.

“You must be joking,” said the Shaggy Man incredulously. “The Magic
Compass belongs to Ozma. And if I did give it to you how would I return
to the Land of Oz? No, what you ask is impossible.”

Conjo’s voice was wheedling. “Surely you don’t think Ozma expected me
to repair the Love Magnet for nothing, do you? I can assure you that
Ozma will regard the trading of the Magic Compass for the repair of the
Love Magnet an excellent bargain. Actually the Magic Compass is, by
Ozma’s standards, a minor bit of magic.”

The Shaggy Man was perplexed. Perhaps Conjo was right.

“Supposing I do give you the Magic Compass–then how will I get back to
Oz?”

Conjo’s eyes glowed. “Nothing to it!” he declared. “You can return to
Oz anytime you like–just as soon as I repair the Love Magnet, if you
wish. Of course I would be happy should you care to remain my guest for
a time, but the decision is entirely up to you.”

“How do you propose that I return to Oz?” asked the Shaggy Man. “I
can’t walk across the Deadly Desert, you know.”

“Ha, ha–ho, ho, ho!” Conjo laughed. “Walk across the Deadly Desert!
Certainly not! He, he, he! You shall sail high across it–swiftly and
safely! Come with me! I have something to show you.”

Conjo wriggled about until his fat little body emerged from the
cushions and silken coverings of the divan. As he stood up, the Shaggy
Man and his friends saw that the little man was dressed in a loose robe
of rich purple on which were embroidered stars, crescents, black cats,
and the signs of the Zodiac. All these designs were in the brightest
colors, while the robe flowed about him, secured by a golden cord tied
about his middle. On his feet were sandals woven of silver thread, with
toes that curled up like question marks.

“Come with me,” repeated the fat little Wizard as he waddled to the
door, “and I will show you how you can sail away in a jiffy.”

The Shaggy Man and the two children followed Conjo, while Twiffle
remained behind, busily arranging and straightening the royal cushions
and comforters of the regal divan.

In the great corridor, Conjo paused before a small door that opened at
his touch, revealing a cage-like little room.

“Step in,” the Wizard invited his guests. “This is an elevator that
will whisk us to the roof of the tallest tower of the castle–an
improvement over the stairway, up which I find it difficult to whisk
myself in my present state of, shall we say–stoutness? Ho, ho, ho, ho,
he, he, he!”

Conjo beamed good humor and friendliness as the elevator shot
noiselessly upward. In a few seconds the door clicked, slid open, and
Conjo led his guests to the roof of the great tower. From this height
they could see that the Isle of Conjo was small indeed, for the blue
waters of the Nonestic Ocean were visible in any direction they looked.
The sun was a great red ball of fire in the west, but it would still be
several minutes before actual twilight set in.

“And here,” said Conjo, leading them across the roof, “is the means by
which I propose you return to the Land of Oz.”

The Shaggy Man and the children saw before them a most curious object.
It might have been the body of an automobile, except that it seemed to
have neither front nor back. Both ends of it curled up like a gondola.
Nor did it have wheels. The flat bottom rested solidly on the roof. To
all appearances it had no means of locomotion.

Conjo was regarding the strange object proudly. “Behold!” he said,
“one of my most ingenious creations–the Airmobile!”

“You mean to say,” the Shaggy Man sighed, “that this thing is actually
supposed to fly through the air?”

Conjo looked hurt. “You see before you,” he said resentfully, “the most
perfect means of air travel yet invented.”

Tom broke in: “But how can it fly? It has no wings, no propeller, no
jets–nothing but places to sit down!”

Conjo regarded the boy pityingly. “Do you suppose I would rely upon
such clumsy and inefficient means of flying as propellers, wings, and
jets? The Airmobile is the perfect flying machine. It repels gravity.”

“It does what?” asked the Shaggy Man.

Conjo stepped to the machine and opened one of the doors. “Look,”
he said. “See these metal plates on the floor of the ship? They are
gravity resistor plates. You must know,” he went on patiently, “that
it’s the force of gravity pulling objects to the earth that causes
things to have weight. Well, my gravity resistor plates overcome
gravity when exposed. Hence the ship has no weight whatever.”

“Yes,” said Tom, “I can understand that. But what makes it
move?–backward and forward and upward, I mean.”

“Oh, that,” sniffed Conjo. “These are gravity _resistor_ plates. They
not only overcome gravity, but _resist_ it. The power of resistance
forces the machine upward. The more surface of the plates you expose,
the higher you will go. And you will notice,” Conjo continued, reaching
inside the ship and pressing a button, “that the metal plates are
mounted on rods through their middle so that they may be operated
like flaps or fins–and they rotate. Thus, if you tilt them in one
direction, the resistance to gravity forces you ahead in one way; tilt
them in the other direction and you travel in the opposite way. Rotate
them, and you can veer to right or left.”

“If it works, it is wonderful,” said the Shaggy Man doubtfully.

“Oh, it works to perfection,” assured Conjo. “If it were not so late
in the day, I would propose a little trip. As it is, I suggest that we
go downstairs for dinner. Then I will have to leave you to examine the
Love Magnet. We will all arise early in the morning, at which time you
will have the pleasure of a journey over the island in my Airmobile.”

Twink guessed that Conjo’s dinner must have been prepared and served
by magic, for there were no servants in the grand dining room into
which their round little host ushered them. But the food was quite as
elaborate and rich as the dining room itself. The Shaggy Man and the
children were hungry and they ate heartily. Even so, they could not
help noticing that Conjo ate nearly twice as much as the Shaggy Man.
Shaggy was gratified to find a large bowl of rosey-cheeked apples in
the center of the table, which made the meal a perfect one for him.

Conjo sighed with content, wiping his lips on a fine damask napkin.

“Inhospitable as it may seem,” he apologized, “I must leave you now
to see if the Love Magnet can be repaired. I will examine it in my
laboratory and tell you tomorrow if it can be fixed. Please give me the
Love Magnet.”

This the Shaggy Man did and Conjo waddled to the door, pausing to say,
“Twiffle will show you to your rooms. I hope you sleep well. I know I
shall, after I finish this work.” Conjo was already yawning as he left
the dining room.

A few seconds later Twiffle appeared in the doorway and invited Shaggy
and the children to follow him.

The sleeping rooms to which Twiffle led them up the marble stairway
were on the second floor and were beautifully furnished with every
convenience and comfort. Twink and Tom’s room contained two inviting
beds, and Twink noticed that pajamas of just the right size had been
carefully laid out. Conjo seemed to think of everything.

“See you children in the morning,” said the Shaggy Man as he entered
his room which adjoined that of Twink and Tom.

The Shaggy Man found his bed soft and luxurious, so he slipped off his
shaggy clothes, carefully arranging them on a chair so that not one
frill or furbelow was out of place, put on the pajamas which Conjo had
also provided for him, and slipped into bed. Instantly the light faded
from the room. More magic, thought the Shaggy Man a bit uneasily, for
it had appeared to him that the light was an ordinary electric one
which he might switch on and off at will. But moonlight was beginning
to fall through the window, so the Shaggy Man sighed with content and
in a minute was sound asleep.

It was several hours later when the Shaggy Man stirred, and then sat
up, wide awake. What had awakened him? He was sure he had heard a
clicking sound–like the door of his bedchamber closing. The moonlight
revealed that the door was closed just as he had left it. Shaggy
glanced at his clothes on the chair. He leaped from bed and searched
through the pockets of his clothing. He gave a gasp of dismay.

The Magic Compass was gone!

What was this? In another pocket, Shaggy found a hard metallic object,
the Love Magnet, perfectly repaired with no trace of its ever having
been broken.

The Shaggy Man sat down on his bed and thought hard. What should he
do? For some reason Conjo had evidently entered the room, slipped the
repaired Love Magnet into Shaggy’s pocket, removed the Magic Compass,
and left the room. It was the clicking of the door that Shaggy had
heard. And Conjo had slightly disarranged Shaggy’s clothes–that had
called his attention to them.

What did all this mean? Shaggy was sure now that Conjo was not the
jolly, straightforward person he pretended to be. Perhaps he was not
exactly evil, either, but he was so vain and scheming and selfish
that he would bear watching. Then a sudden thought struck Shaggy and
made him extremely uneasy. He had come to the Isle of Conjo of his own
accord to seek out Conjo. But it was Conjo himself who had brought
Twink and Tom there. Why? Were the twins in danger? What was Conjo’s
purpose in taking them from their home? It was up to him, thought the
Shaggy Man, to find out and protect them if Conjo meant them harm or
had some crazy plan that would endanger them.

Shaggy unhappily concluded there was nothing he could do now. In
the morning he would find out if the Airmobile was everything Conjo
claimed. Then he would try to discover Conjo’s plans for Twink and Tom.
Perhaps Twiffle could enlighten him. Shaggy sighed. Well, at least he
did have the Love Magnet.

The Shaggy Man lay down on the bed and tried to sleep. After a long
time he drifted into a fitful slumber broken by dreams in which Conjo
sailed through the air, clutching the Love Magnet, and Twink and Tom
were transformed into dolls, no larger than Twiffle. In his dream the
Shaggy Man seemed to be bound with ropes to his bed, powerless to stop
any of Conjo’s mischief, while Twiffle tugged at his bonds saying,
“Wake up, Shaggy Man, wake up!”

Shaggy opened his eyes and stared. There was Twiffle at the side of his
bed, shaking him and saying:

“Wake up, Shaggy Man, wake up!”

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