The Valley of Love

Despite the late hour at which they had gone to bed, Tom awakened
bright and early in the morning, hurried into his clothes and bounded
into Twink’s room.

The bed was empty!

Thinking that Twink might have risen before him, Tom dashed into the
living room. There he found Twiffle alone, deep in thought.

“Twiffle! Twiffle! Twink is gone!” exclaimed Tom.

Twiffle nodded his head gravely. “I know,” he said. “I looked for
her about half an hour ago and she was gone. I was afraid this would
happen.”

“But this is terrible!” protested Tom. “Think of poor Twink–one
of those senseless dummies, just for the amusement of these wicked
people.” The boy was thoroughly incensed as he went on. “They call this
the Valley of Romance! Why, they must be heartless. They don’t even
know what real romance or love is!”

Twiffle let out a shout and leaped to his feet.

“My boy, you’ve done it!” he cried.

“Done what?” gasped the astonished Tom.

“You’ve just given me the solution of all our problems. I now know how
we can save not only Twink and the Shaggy Man, but all the other people
enslaved by King Ticket and Queen Curtain!”

“You do?” said Tom wonderingly.

“Yes,” responded Twiffle. “You were wrong about only one thing–King
Ticket, Queen Curtain, and the Lords and Ladies are not heartless. They
have hearts, all right. But you were very right when you said they
don’t know what real romance or love is. They don’t. We’re going to
show them, and in the process we will rescue Twink and Shaggy!”

Twiffle excitedly unfolded his plan. As Tom listened he grew more and
more cheerful. When Twiffle finished, Tom picked up the little clown
and danced exuberantly about the room with him.

“Twiffle,” the boy shouted, “you’re a wonder!”

Twiffle grinned from ear to ear. “It was you who gave me the idea,” he
reminded Tom modestly. “But we must plan very carefully,” he went on,
becoming serious. “Remember, there is only a slim chance that our plan
will work. We must take that chance and hope for the best. As there is
nothing we can do until tonight when the play is again presented, we
should make use of this time to work out every single detail of our
plan.”

Twiffle and Tom went over their plan again and again. Nevertheless, the
day seemed to Tom one of the longest he had ever spent. The long hours
of waiting were broken only three times–when Lady Cue brought in Tom’s
meals.

The food was quite good, but a bit mixed up. For breakfast the
befuddled Lady brought Tom a large slice of roast beef with corn flakes
and apple pie. Lunch consisted of fried eggs, mashed potatoes, and
doughnuts; while dinner was made up of broiled apricots, strawberry
shortcake, and graham crackers. But Tom was hungry and didn’t mind the
strange assortment of foods too much. He managed to eat everything even
though Lady Cue brought him six spoons with each meal and no knives or
forks.

When Lady Cue appeared with the evening meal, Tom was a bit worried
because they had not been asked to dine with the Lords and Ladies in
the Royal Dining Room. Could this mean they would not be invited to
the play? If so, then their plan of rescue would be ruined.

Twiffle was not worried. He was sure they would be asked to share the
King and Queen’s Royal Box, if only as a form of punishment, since they
would be compelled to see Twink as one of the puppets on the stage.

Twiffle proved to be right. Early in the evening Lady Cue appeared in
the doorway and led them again to the theater.

King Ticket and Queen Curtain were already settled in the Royal Box
when Tom and Twiffle arrived. Except to give them an icy stare, the
monarchs paid no attention to their guests. Twiffle winked at Tom, but
both of them were quaking lest Twiffle’s plan might not work. If it did
not work, they would be worse off than ever.

If possible the play–it was the same one–was even worse than on the
previous night. The players went through their parts in a dream-like
fashion, chanting their lines woodenly. Scenery fell apart, the curtain
came down at the wrong moments and everything possible went wrong. But
King Ticket and Queen Curtain were enchanted. Along with the Lords
and Ladies they applauded vociferously and reacted to the ridiculous
performance with even more enthusiasm than they had displayed the
night before.

This night, Tom had no trouble in keeping awake. He squirmed about in
his seat with impatience, waiting until Twink and the Shaggy Man would
appear. This didn’t happen until the play was well into the fourth and
last act.

As on the night before, the Shaggy Man wandered blindly onto the stage,
speaking the same lines in an almost indistinguishable voice.

A moment later Tom tensed with excitement. A new character had been
added. It was Twink. Her eyes stared as she moved mechanically across
the stage, murmuring the words of her lines. Tom took a deep breath and
glanced at Twiffle. The time had come to act. Twiffle nodded.

In the next instant Tom climbed to the wide rail that encircled the
Royal Box. Poised there for a moment, he gave a leap and landed on the
stage. Without hesitating a moment he dashed to the Shaggy Man, and to
the amazement of everyone in the audience except Twiffle, went through
the Shaggy Man’s pockets. Tom gave an exultant cry. He had found what
he wanted. He held the Love Magnet before him, waving it first at the
Shaggy Man and then at Twink.

Shaggy and Twink started, then rubbed their eyes and stared about
them unbelievingly. Meanwhile Tom was busy. He didn’t hesitate until
he had exposed the Love Magnet to the gaze of each of the enchanted
actors and actresses. As each one looked at the Love Magnet he lost
his glassy stare and came to life. In a few seconds the stage was
filled–not with dummies–but with human beings, bewildered, but freed
from the thralldom of King Ticket and Queen Curtain’s evil spell. As
they recovered, several of them threw their arms around Tom, while all
gazed at the boy with fondness and love in their eyes. Twink suddenly
realized how greatly she loved her brother, and the first thing the
Shaggy Man said was, “A great boy, that Tom!”

Meanwhile King Ticket and Queen Curtain, as well as the entire audience
of Lords and Ladies had risen to their feet. None of them spoke. The
real drama suddenly being lived on the stage held them fascinated.

At this very moment, Tom advanced to the front center of the stage and
with all eyes upon him, flashed the Love Magnet before the audience.

A vast sigh went through the theater. And then there was a confused
babel as the Lords and Ladies crowded into the aisle, each of them bent
upon reaching the stage and embracing Tom, who, they realized suddenly,
was quite the most lovable person they had ever beheld.

King Ticket leaped from the Royal Box onto the stage, hurrying toward
Tom. “My dear boy,” he exclaimed, “how could I have been so blind?
Isn’t there something I can do for you? Name it, and you shall have it!
My Kingdom is yours for the asking!”

Queen Curtain was standing in the box, arms out-stretched appealingly
to Tom. “You darling boy!” she cried, “How wonderful it is that you
have come to visit us!”

Twiffle was sitting quietly in the Royal Box, grinning broadly.
“Wouldn’t old Conjo be surprised,” he thought, “if he knew how well the
Love Magnet has done its work?–Tom really is quite a boy!”

That night there was a great feast in the Grand Dining Room of the
castle. Tom was the guest of honor, sitting at the head of the table
between King Ticket and Queen Curtain. Twink, feeling very proud of her
brother, sat at the Queen’s right with the Shaggy Man and Twiffle at
her side. In addition to the Lords and Ladies of the castle, all the
people who had formerly been actors and actresses were seated about
the table. There were speeches, merrymaking and much laughter while
everyone enjoyed course after course of the delicious food served.

King Ticket and Queen Curtain talked together during the feast, seeming
to discuss something on which they finally appeared to reach a decision.

King Ticket arose and, banging with a silver fork against a drinking
goblet, obtained the attention and silence of the merrymakers.

“My dear friends,” began the King, beaming on his audience, “good Queen
Curtain and I have been discussing a proposal which we are sure will
meet with your approval. You are well aware that although we did not
know it, we, the people of the Valley of Romance, have been living in
a bondage that was even greater than that which we cast over the poor
unfortunates who wandered into the castle. For we lived without knowing
the meaning of true romance and love. We found our only pleasure in
artificial romance as we saw it on the stage. We had no love for each
other–no romance among ourselves.

“Now all that is changed. Not only do we now appreciate and know the
true meaning of real love–but the people whom we enslaved are freed
and happy once more.

“We have one person to thank for this–Tom, who, with the Love Magnet,
brought us our present joy and happiness. Queen Curtain and I propose
that we yield our thrones and that Tom become the new King of the
Valley of Romance.”

The applause was tremendous. Apparently everyone in the Grand Dining
Room favored King Ticket’s startling plan.

But Tom leaped to his feet and exclaimed:

“Your Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen–Thank you for this great honor,
but I cannot be your King. Maybe I’ll never get the chance to be a king
again. But the important thing for Twink and me is to find our way
home. The Shaggy Man has promised that Ozma of Oz will send us home if
we can only reach Oz. That is the thing we want most. Anyway, I have
no right to be your King–I don’t know anything about the job, and you
should really be grateful to the Love Magnet for making you happy–not
me. Now that you folks know the meaning of real love, I’m sure King
Ticket will make you a fine King and Queen Curtain will be a real
Queen.”

Again the applause resounded. At last King Ticket rose again,
expressing his regret that Tom could not remain with them to be their
King. King Ticket promised that he would do his best to be a kind and
loving monarch. His first move, he said, would be to grant complete
freedom to the people who had wandered to the castle and had become
slaves on the Stage of False Romance. These people, he said, might
return to their own homes, or they might, if they wished, remain to
dwell as Lords and Ladies in the Castle of Romance.

Since they would have no further use for the theater, King Ticket
promised to have the seats removed and the theater remodeled into a
real Temple of Learning, where each of his subjects might learn some
craft or art that would be useful or pleasing to his fellows. Here
they would meet each day and study and work at their arts and crafts,
enjoying companionship and the satisfaction of real accomplishment and
creation.

“If you do manage to get to the Land of Oz,” King Ticket said to the
Shaggy Man, “I wonder if you would ask Professor Wogglebug if he would
like to come to our Temple of Learning as a visiting Professor? I
am sure there are many things he could teach us that would be both
interesting and useful.”

Shaggy promised to extend the invitation to the learned Wogglebug, who
was head of the Royal College of Oz.

In spite of all the excitement, Twink and Tom were nodding by the time
the feasting and speech-making were ended.

Everyone bade them a happy goodnight and Lady Cue conducted them once
more to their rooms. The Love Magnet had wrought its change on Lady
Cue, too. Gone was her former befuddled state in which she was not at
all sure of anything or anyone. Now she was a charming, gracious lady
with the manners of a cordial and perfect hostess.

Shaggy and the children were fast asleep almost as soon as their heads
touched the soft pillows. Twiffle passed the night looking at the
pictures in the books on the living room shelves.

By the middle of the following morning they were ready to begin their
adventures again. They found that King Ticket, Queen Curtain, the Lords
and Ladies, and the former actors and actresses, many of whom had
decided to make their homes in the Valley of Romance, were gathered in
the courtyard to bid them farewell.

King Ticket gave them general directions for traveling to reach the
Deadly Desert. That was the nearest he could come to directing them to
the Land of Oz.

Just as they were about to leave, Lady Cue arrived breathlessly on
the scene. She was so excited that she nearly lapsed into her old
bewildered state.

“I–I–I have been so busy all morning cooking this for you that I was
afraid I would miss you.” Lady Cue looked anxiously at Shaggy and his
friends, as though she couldn’t believe they were still there. As she
spoke, she handed Shaggy a large lunch basket filled with deliciously
prepared good things to eat.

Shaggy, Twink, Tom, and even Twiffle–who didn’t eat–thanked Lady
Cue warmly for her thoughtfulness. They were glad she had not changed
entirely, for they had grown fond of her. As they turned away from her
and started once again on their journey, Lady Cue was staring after
them and dabbing at her eyes with a dish-cloth.

Waving goodbye, the little band of adventurers followed the stream to
the south as it wound through the green and peaceful Valley of Romance.

When they were almost out of sight of the Castle of Romance, Twink
looked back and saw the delicately fashioned spires shimmering in the
sun.

“Now,” the girl said, “it is truly as beautiful a castle as it looks.”

Continue Reading

A Midnight Adventure

The Grand Dining Room of the castle was brilliantly lighted by three
huge crystal chandeliers. Each of the chandeliers flamed with more than
a score of tapering lights which were reflected shimmeringly in the
alabaster ceiling and walls.

As soon as Twink, Tom, and Twiffle entered the dining room, they were
espied by Queen Curtain who motioned them to seat themselves at her
right. Queen Curtain and King Ticket occupied the head of the table.
The Lords and Ladies of the Castle were filing into the dining room,
chattering spiritedly, and all handsomely gowned and garbed. In a few
minutes all were seated. There were a few curious glances at the three
strangers at the table, but for the most part the Lords and Ladies of
the Valley of Romance were far too excited over the play they were to
witness that evening to give more than a passing glance to the children
and the little clown.

The meal passed, through many delicious and elaborate courses, with no
incidents. Queen Curtain played the charming host, occasionally tossing
pleasant remarks to the children and Twiffle. Poor Lady Cue put salt in
her tea instead of sugar, but she drank the entire cup without seeming
to notice her mistake.

“Perhaps she really likes it that way,” Twink whispered to Tom.

At the end of the meal, King Ticket rose and addressed the assemblage
solemnly: “The moment has come for which we have prepared these many
days. We will now pass into the theater for the first performance of
the new play.”

No one spoke. This, apparently was an important moment. The only sound
in the vast dining room was the rustling of the ladies’ skirts and the
patter of footsteps on the alabaster floor.

Queen Curtain took Twink by the hand, and Tom and Twiffle followed into
the theater. It was brilliantly lighted as the Lords and Ladies settled
into their seats. A few of them hurried backstage–they were the ones
who worked the scenery and otherwise aided in the presentation of the
play. Twink, Tom, and Twiffle found themselves seated in the Royal Box
with King Ticket and Queen Curtain.

The houselights dimmed, the curtains went up, and with no preliminaries
the play was under way.

Two actors walked woodenly forward on the stage. They were dressed
in what Twink and Tom could tell was supposed to be armor, but was
obviously kitchen utensils strung together and about to fall off.
From the words they were saying, the two knights seemed to be getting
very angry at each other. But they looked at the audience, instead of
looking at each other, and spoke their lines in a dazed, unexcited way
as though they were talking in their sleep. Impossible as it seemed
from their lack of action, it became apparent that they were so enraged
they had decided to fight out in a tournament, their quarrel over
a lady. Oh, yes, there she was at the side of the stage, paying no
attention at all to the knights.

The tournament scene came next. The knights in their pots and pans were
mounted on extraordinary horses. Each was made up of two men covered
with tufted candlewick bedspreads. They too moved about the stage in a
slow and sleepy way. The lady who had inspired the fight looked on from
her box seat at the side of the stage, waving her handkerchief. But it
had slipped her mind apparently that it was the tournament she was
watching, and she looked straight at the audience and listlessly waved
her handkerchief as if trying to attract the attention of anyone who
might care to wave back at her.

When the knights supposedly rushed their horses at each other and aimed
their spears, the steeds ambled slowly in opposite directions, so far
apart that they seemed not to be aware of each other at all. When they
did finally get together, the horse of the knight who was to be winner
slipped and fell down, and the bedspread slid to the floor. The horse
and the knight who was to be victorious had to be re-assembled before
he could triumph over his victim who had been watching him pick himself
up off the floor.

Twink and Tom had to clap their hands over their mouths to keep from
bursting out with laughter. They did this because it was apparent that
King Ticket, Queen Curtain, and the Lords and Ladies took the play
quite seriously. Indeed, they were wildly enthusiastic.

Throughout the entire play the scenery kept toppling over, Lord
Props provided the wrong sound effects, and stage furniture at every
opportunity, and Lady Cue became so interested in a book of poetry that
she read from this instead of giving the actors and actresses their
proper lines.

Twink and Tom thought it strange that the people on the stage should
mumble their lines so badly and behave altogether as though they were
only half awake and were moving by clockwork.

Act after act continued in this fashion. But the audience saw only
the drama as it was intended. The Queen and the Ladies wept openly,
applying delicate lace handkerchiefs to their eyes. King Ticket and the
Lords, being men, contented themselves with brushing away a furtive
tear and repeatedly blowing their noses loudly in their spotless white
linen kerchiefs.

“Magnificent!” exclaimed King Ticket.

“Glorious!” proclaimed Queen Curtain through her tears. “This play will
run for years–it is one of the greatest romances we have ever staged!”

“Romance!” sighed King Ticket. “Ah, sublime romance–there is nothing
in the world so touching and beautiful!”

It was near the end of the last act. Twink and Tom were nodding.
Suddenly a new actor appeared upon the stage. Twink’s half shut eyes
flew open. She grasped Tom by the arms and shook him awake. Twiffle
leaned forward, holding on to the rail of the box. None of them said a
word. For a few seconds they merely stared, unbelievingly.

The new character who had come on the stage and was even then mumbling
his lines in a mechanical voice was the Shaggy Man!

At the sight of the Shaggy Man on the stage, Twink couldn’t contain
herself. She leaned far out of the box and called “Shaggy Man! Here we
are–it’s Tom, Twiffle, and Twink!”

If the Shaggy Man heard, he gave no indication of it. His eyes stared
straight ahead of him, and he mumbled the words of his lines as though
he were speaking in a dream in which he was only half awake.

But King Ticket and Queen Curtain, as well as the audience of Lords and
Ladies heard. A wave of annoyed “Sshhhhhhs” arose from the audience,
while Queen Curtain grabbed Twink by the arm, pulling her back into her
seat and saying angrily: “How dare you interrupt the play! For that you
shall join your precious Shaggy Man on the stage tomorrow night.”

Tom started from his seat indignantly at the Queen’s threatening words,
but Twiffle, who looked worried, pulled him back. The three unwilling
play-goers fell into an uneasy silence.

A few moments later the curtain came down with a crash and the play was
over.

“Dear, dear me,” remarked King Ticket. “There go the curtain ropes
again. We shall have to repair them tomorrow.”

Queen Curtain turned to Twiffle and the children. “Go to your rooms
immediately,” she ordered sternly. “You know where they are. Don’t try
to escape. That is impossible. All the doors leading out of the castle
are securely locked. And as for you,” she said, shooting Twink an angry
glance, “you will be taken care of tomorrow. Now be gone–all of you!”

Twink shivered. Tom took her hand, and with Twiffle following, they
made their way out of the theater to their rooms. They passed unnoticed
through the Lords and Ladies who were noisily discussing the play,
exclaiming over its excellence, and looking forward to the next night’s
performance–of the same play.

As soon as they were in their rooms, Twiffle quickly closed the door
and silently motioned the children to his side.

The little clown was plainly excited. “Listen,” he whispered to the
children. “I believe I have figured out what has happened to the Shaggy
Man–and all the rest of the actors and actresses, for that matter.
They have been enchanted. King Ticket and Queen Curtain have cast some
kind of spell upon them so that they are only half awake. The only
existence they have is their dream-like life on the stage as they go
through their parts in the play.”

“I see,” nodded Twink. “I believe you’re right. Otherwise Shaggy would
surely have answered when I called to him from the box.”

“Of course,” said Twiffle.

“Then you don’t think,” surmised Tom, “that any of the actors and
actresses are Lords and Ladies of the castle?”

“Not a bit of it,” stated Twiffle firmly. “It is my belief that they
are people from adjoining countries, who, like ourselves, have wandered
unwittingly into the castle, and have been enchanted for the pleasure
of King Ticket, Queen Curtain, and the Lords and Ladies who have always
lived here.”

“You must be right,” murmured Twink, recalling how King Ticket had
brushed aside their question as to the identity of the actors and
actresses.

“Of course, I am right,” asserted Twiffle. “It is the only solution
that answers all the questions. What we must do now is find a way to
rescue the Shaggy Man tonight before King Ticket and Queen Curtain have
a chance to cast their disgusting old spell on Twink tomorrow.”

“Then, let’s get started,” said Tom. “What do we do, Twiffle?”

“Nothing now,” replied Twiffle. “We must wait until everyone in the
castle is asleep. Only then will it be safe for us to act.”

Twink and Tom tried to be calm during the next hour, as they discussed
with Twiffle their chances of rescuing the Shaggy Man and making an
escape from the castle.

At last Twiffle went quietly to the door and slowly opened it, peering
up and down the hall corridor. The entire castle seemed to be wrapped
in deep silence. There was not a sound.

“Come,” whispered Twiffle, “I believe it is safe to proceed now.
Everyone seems to be asleep. You must walk on your tip-toes, so your
steps won’t be heard.”

“Where are we going, Twiffle?” whispered Tom.

“To the theater, and then backstage–that is where I am almost sure we
will find the Shaggy Man and all the rest of the unfortunate actors and
actresses.”

The lights of the castle were dimmed to a soft glow, but this was
enough for the adventurers to find their way to the theater with no
trouble. Here, the same soft light glowed, filling the theater with a
thin, ghostly luminescence.

Twiffle quickly led the way down the aisle, then up the small flight
of stairs to the stage. Beckoning the children to follow him, Twiffle
darted through the wings to the back of the stage. Here an amazing
sight greeted them.

Lined up in two rows, like soldiers on a drill field, were about fifty
men, women, and children. Some of them Twink and Tom recalled having
seen on the stage earlier that evening. They ranged in age from small
children to elderly men and women. They stood stiffly, as though they
were at attention. Their eyes were tight shut. So still were these
figures that Twink couldn’t tell whether or not they were breathing. In
the front row stood the Shaggy Man.

“Every type for every part,” muttered Twiffle to himself. Then,
turning to the children, he whispered, “Here they are, just as I
suspected–the unfortunate victims of King Ticket and Queen Curtain.
They have no more life than mere dummies, until the curtain goes up and
they walk on the stage to play their parts in that absurd drama.”

Twiffle approached the Shaggy Man and studied him intently. At last he
sighed and shook his head. “I am afraid there is nothing we can do just
now,” he admitted. “I learned a little magic from Conjo, and I hoped
that I might be able to release the Shaggy Man, but the spell that is
upon him is a strange one. I have no power to break it.”

“There must surely be _something_ we can do,” said Tom, thinking of
Queen Curtain’s threatening speech to Twink.

“I must have time to think,” said Twiffle. “At least we have discovered
the whereabouts of the Shaggy Man and we know what has happened to him
and all these other poor people. There must be some way to release
them, if only I can hit upon it. I suggest we return to our rooms. We
certainly don’t want to be discovered here.”

“But what about Twink?” asked Tom with dismay.

“I am hoping I can prevent Queen Curtain from making good her threat,”
replied Twiffle grimly.

“Oh, don’t worry about me,” said Twink bravely. “If worst comes to
worst and I don’t make a better actress than the rest of these folks,
I’ll be awfully disappointed in myself.”

Continue Reading

The Valley of Romance

Before the travelers lay one of the most beautiful valleys they had
ever seen. Gently sloping hills led down to green fields. Through the
middle of the valley flowed a stream that looked like a shimmering
blue ribbon stretched out on a green carpet. On the near bank of the
stream, in the very center of the valley, stood a castle. Its spires,
turrets, and towers were so delicately formed that they glistened like
lace-filigree in the sunlight.

Twink’s eyes glowed. “Isn’t it just the most beautiful sight you ever
saw!” she exclaimed.

“It certainly is elegant,” admitted the Shaggy Man. “But what we want
to know is, what kind of folks live in it.”

“Oh, I’m sure they must be very happy and contented,” said Twink. “They
just _must_ be to live in a place like that.”

“Then we are going to visit the castle?” asked Twiffle a bit doubtfully.

“It seems the only thing to do,” replied the Shaggy Man. “I admit I
have no idea where we are, and there is just the possibility that
whoever lives in that castle may be able to help us get to Oz, or at
least give us directions to the Deadly Desert.”

Tom was already on his way, running happily down the green slope toward
the stream and the castle.

A ten-minute walk in the bright sunlight brought the little group of
adventurers to the doors of the castle. So far they had seen no living
persons. Birds sang in the trees, and once a white rabbit had bounded
across Tom’s path, but there were no signs of human beings.

The Shaggy Man stepped forward and knocked boldly on the heavy door.
Instantly it swung silently open. As the adventurers stepped inside,
Twink gasped and even the Shaggy Man, accustomed as he was to the
splendour of Ozma’s Royal Palace, was impressed with the magnificence
of his surroundings.

The floor and walls of the castle were of the whitest alabaster,
polished so that the creamy depths of the stone mirrored the luxurious
furnishings, casting a luster that enhanced the woven richness of the
deep-hued draperies in the paneled walls.

Who had built such a castle? Each of the travelers tried to picture
in his own mind the kind of people who might live here. Would they be
friendly or unfriendly, helpful or dangerous?

Still there was no sign of people. The only sound that broke the
stillness of the foyer in which Shaggy and his friends stood was the
tinkling of water as it flowed from a small fountain in the center
of the room. This fountain was fashioned like an ordinary drinking
fountain, the stream of water that rose from it being not more than
three or four inches in height. Around the rim of the alabaster
fountain was a metal plate with writing inscribed upon it.

Her curiosity aroused, Twink advanced to the fountain and read:

This is a Phontain.
Any visitors are
requested to speak
their messages into it.
Signed: Rex Ticket & Regina Curtain.

“What in the world can it mean?” whispered Twink. Her companions had
gathered about her and were reading the metal plate with wonder.

“Rex and Regina,” ventured the Shaggy Man, “are King and Queen–that’s
Latin. So evidently the head-folks of this castle are King Ticket and
Queen Curtain. Hmmmm–certainly odd names for a King and Queen.”

“A Phontain–and we’re supposed to talk into it!” sniffed Twiffle with
disgust. “Whoever heard of such nonsense!”

“Well,” observed the Shaggy Man, “I’ve heard of babbling brooks, so why
not a talking fountain that will carry our words?”

“A phoney fountain, I suppose,” said Tom, grinning.

Shaggy stooped over the Phontain and spoke clearly and distinctly:

“This is the Shaggy Man of Oz speaking. In behalf of my friends, Twink
and Tom of the United States of America, Twiffle, late of the Isle of
Conjo, and myself, I request an audience with King Ticket and Queen
Curtain.”

Almost immediately a red neon sign lighted up over two large double
doors at the opposite end of the foyer. The sign flashed the single
word “ENTRANCE.”

“I guess this is where we go in,” remarked the Shaggy Man as he walked
to the door and pushed the large metal handle.

They were in a small, brightly lighted theater containing about one
hundred seats. On the stage, seated on two thrones, were a man and a
woman–evidently King Ticket and Queen Curtain.

All about the King and Queen on the stage there was a bustle of the
most frenzied activity. There sounded the clash and clatter of hammers,
the ripping of saws and the whirring of drills and bits. Perhaps
fifteen or twenty men were hard at work knocking together and erecting
a bewildering array of scenery. Calmly seated about the stage on
three-cornered stools, their sewing baskets at their sides, were a
number of ladies sewing on costumes. Others were apparently sewing
together large pieces of canvas. Still other ladies were engaged in
painting artistic pictures on the canvas which was then stretched on
wooden frameworks to serve as backdrops for the stage.

After Shaggy and his friends had watched this display of industry for
several minutes, they advanced down the middle aisle of the theater.

The King and Queen had been doing no actual work. They merely issued
directions to the others who seemed not to pay them the slightest heed,
but continued with their tasks.

King Ticket looked up. “Well,” he said to the Shaggy Man, “you
certainly took your time getting here. It was at least three minutes
ago that you announced yourselves on the Phontain.”

“Do you mean you really heard us through that water fountain?” asked
the Shaggy Man.

“Water hath a limpid tongue with which to lave the naked ear,” said
King Ticket in a voice which was meant to be impressive. “Of course we
heard you through the Phontain. There are Phontains in all the rooms
of the Castle–even in the theater, here–which repeat messages when we
speak into them.”

Twink thought this was much nicer than telephones which rudely jangling
bells, although probably not as private.

“You didn’t think,” commented Queen Curtain, as though she had read
Twink’s thoughts, “that we would use ordinary means of communication,
such as telephones, in the Valley of Romance, did you?”

“Oh,” said the Shaggy Man, “is this the Valley of Romance?”

“It is, and since you are from the Land of Oz,” said King Ticket, “you
must surely have heard of the Valley of Romance.”

The Shaggy Man reflected. It seemed he could recall Ozma mentioning
something about some such valley, but he couldn’t remember anything
that she had said about it.

“How far are we from the Land of Oz?” asked Twiffle.

“Dear me!” exclaimed King Ticket staring at Twiffle. “For a moment I
thought you were real!”

“I am real,” stated Twiffle with dignity. “I just don’t happen to be
made of flesh and blood and bones, that’s all.”

“And as for the Land of Oz,” remarked Queen Curtain meditatively, “it
is indeed very far away–over the stream and over the hill–far, far
away to the desert, and then over that, too. In fact, it isn’t even in
the Valley of Romance, so that means it must be quite some distance
off. Too far even to think of,” she added as though to say that closed
the subject.

The Shaggy Man shrugged. Evidently these two weren’t going to be of
much help to the travelers in finding their way back to Oz. Well, they
would make a lunch of the apples he carried in his pockets and then
continue on their journey.

Shaggy and his friends made themselves comfortable in the deeply
upholstered seats in the front row of the theater. Shaggy divided the
apples between Twink, Tom, and himself. He offered several to King
Ticket and Queen Curtain, who refused them rather disdainfully.

Shaggy and his friends ate in silence while they watched the activity
on the stage. Not one of the busily working men and women seemed even
to be aware of the presence of the strangers.

Finishing his apples, the Shaggy Man arose and said, “Looks like you
folks are getting ready for quite a play. What’s the name of it?”

Unexpectedly one of the workers on a ladder stopped his task of
hammering together a bit of framework for the scenery and replied
to Shaggy’s question: “That we won’t know until the curtain goes up
tonight. Tonight’s the First Night of this new play, and I shall be in
charge.” The fellow added impressively, “For I am the First Knight of
the Realm, you know.”

“No,” replied the Shaggy Man, “I didn’t know.” Shaggy was a little
angry for he thought the man was making fun of him.

“Oh, yes,” Queen Curtain went on placidly. “He is the First Knight of
the Realm–in fact all these people are Lords and Ladies of the Royal
Theater.”

“And do you always build your own scenery and make your own costumes?”
asked the Shaggy Man.

King Ticket shifted uneasily on his throne. “Yes, and it always seems
to turn out rather badly. I suppose all we were really meant to do was
to enjoy the magnificent performances on the stage. And,” the King
brightened, “that is all we truly have any desire to do. That is a
full life for us and quite enough–to sit in the theater and watch
great drama unfold. What need have we for any lives of our own, when
the stage is a world in itself and therein we are content to dwell.”
The King’s voice gently subsided to a whisper, and his eyes stared
dreamily into space.

Queen Curtain took up the story. “During the performances Lord Props
and Lady Cue help the actors, although none too well, I must admit.
Lord Props seldom gets things right: when a gun shot is called for
there is very likely to be a bell ringing. Once when the scene required
a bowl of goldfish, Lord Props actually managed to cram a whole live
lobster into a soup tureen. Lady Cue does, however, manage to do a bit
better with her cues. She is seldom more than two lines behind the
actors.”

“How long do your plays run?” asked Shaggy.

“Night after night after glorious night for years and years and
years–sometimes as long as we can remember there has been the same
wonderful play for us to see on the stage at night,” said the King who
had awakened from his dream.

“And what do you do the rest of the time?” queried the Shaggy Man.

“Nothing–nothing but sleep,” answered King Ticket. “Why should we? We
have the glorious stage for our lives.” The King looked about him at
the work going on.

“Who are your actors?” asked Tom.

For a moment King Ticket seemed embarrassed. Then he replied vaguely
with a wave of his hand as if to dismiss the matter as of little
importance: “Oh, just actors–you know, the usual thing, leading man,
leading lady, villain, comedian, and so forth.”

“Come,” said the Shaggy Man, “we’re wasting time here. We should be on
our way if we ever hope to reach the Land of Oz.”

Queen Curtain looked up. “You won’t stay for dinner and the theater?”

“No, thank you,” replied Shaggy. “We have a long journey ahead of us
and we really must be going on our way now.”

With this, Shaggy and his friends walked up the aisle toward the door
by which they had entered the theater. King Ticket had been staring
intently at the Shaggy Man and now he whispered something in a low
voice to Queen Curtain. The Queen considered for a moment and then
nodded her head.

Twink and Tom, who were directly behind the Shaggy Man, stopped and
stared at each other. They were only half way up the aisle. The Shaggy
Man had been only a step ahead of them.

Now he was gone–vanished completely!

Twink and Tom were utterly bewildered at their friend’s disappearance.
They didn’t know what to do next.

Twiffle turned to King Ticket and Queen Curtain on the stage and
demanded: “Where is the Shaggy Man?”

King Ticket looked up innocently. “Why, has he gone somewhere?”

“Certainly he has gone somewhere,” said Twiffle, who was becoming
angry. “And you had better tell us where. Don’t forget that the Shaggy
Man is an important personage of the Land of Oz. If anything happens to
him you will be sorry.”

“Pooh!” sniffed King Ticket. “We know all about the Land of Oz and its
silly girl ruler, Ozma. But your famous Shaggy Man had not even heard
of the Valley of Romance. What can anyone in Oz do? They don’t even
know of our existence.”

“I wouldn’t be too sure of that,” declared Twiffle with more courage
than he felt.

“Anyway,” continued King Ticket musingly, “the Land of Oz is vastly
over-rated. Why, as far as I know, there isn’t a single theater in all
the country!”

“And so,” began Queen Curtain quietly, “why don’t you children just
make yourselves comfortable until dinner time? Then you may join us for
the meal and afterwards you shall be our guests in the Royal Box to
witness the performance of our new play.”

Twiffle was aroused now. He climbed right up on the arm of King
Ticket’s chair. “We don’t want your dinner. We don’t want to see your
play. All we want is the Shaggy Man and then we shall continue our
journey.”

“Tut, tut,” admonished King Ticket. “What a violent disposition the
little puppet has.”

“I am afraid,” said Queen Curtain, “that you really have no choice. You
must stay here until we are ready for you to depart. After all, you
came of your own accord, you know.”

Twiffle was silent. He was at a loss to know what to say or do. Twink
and Tom felt suddenly alone and a little bit frightened, now that the
Shaggy Man was gone. Even in the brief time they had known him, they
had grown very fond of him, and had come to rely upon him.

Seeing this, Twiffle returned to stand by the children and said: “Never
you mind. We’ll find the Shaggy Man all right. Perhaps it would be wise
to remain here tonight as these people wish us to do. That will give us
a chance to find out what they have done with Shaggy.”

This was said in a whisper, to which Tom answered: “Well, I could enjoy
a good meal. We haven’t had anything to eat but fruit since yesterday.”
Actually Tom was as worried about Shaggy as Twink, but, being a boy, he
didn’t want to let the girl know.

Twink was indignant. “I’m surprised at you, Tom! The idea of talking
about food when we’ve just lost our best friend! But I suppose Twiffle
is right.”

“Good!” said King Ticket. “Then that is settled and you will be with us
for dinner and the theater!”

“Gosh!” exclaimed Tom, “do you suppose he heard everything we said?”

“I don’t have any doubt of it,” replied Twiffle calmly. “Therefore we
might as well converse in our ordinary voices.”

“You were indeed fortunate to have arrived just in time for the opening
night of our new play,” said Queen Curtain pleasantly. “I am sure you
will enjoy it immensely. Tell me, have you children seen many plays?”

“Oh, yes,” replied Tom, “we have seen lots of our school plays, and
last Christmas Twink and I had important parts in the Christmas
pageant.”

“Well, then, you will certainly enjoy yourselves tonight,” said the
Queen, smiling happily at the children. “We will work only about an
hour more. Then everything will be in readiness. That will give us
plenty of time to tidy up, dress in our finest, and enjoy the dinner
and the play to the utmost.”

The hour passed swiftly. The children apparently were engrossed in the
work going on, on the stage, but actually their thoughts were busy
puzzling over the mystery of what had happened to the Shaggy Man.

“Lady Cue will show you to your rooms, children,” announced Queen
Curtain, rising from her throne. The Lords and Ladies were putting away
their tools and sewing. A tall, thin, worried-looking woman, sewing
basket on her arm, stepped down a short flight of stairs from the stage
and smiled rather absent-mindedly at Twink and Tom.

“You will come with me, I think?” she said hesitantly.

Twink and Tom looked at Twiffle, who nodded, and all three followed
the tall lady who was proceeding uncertainly up the aisle.

Outside the theater, Lady Cue led Twiffle and the children up a broad
staircase leading to the second floor of the castle. Here there was a
long corridor, with smaller corridors leading off of it, each with many
doors opening into various suites and rooms. Lady Cue had advanced only
a short distance down the main corridor when she stopped uncertainly
before a door and turned to her charges.

“This is a door,” she said, “but do you think it is the right one?”

“I’m sure we wouldn’t know, Madame,” replied Twiffle. “After all, you
live in this castle and should know all about it.”

Lady Cue sighed. “Of course, of course. I forgot for the moment that
you are the strangers. Well, we shall have to do our best to find the
right door.”

“Haven’t you been in any of these rooms?” asked Tom curiously.

“_In_ them?” asked Lady Cue vaguely. “Oh, I must have since I live
here, you know. Once inside the rooms I am sure I would be able to find
my way with no trouble. But outside them it is most confusing. How is
one to know what is _inside_ when one is _outside_?”

Lady Cue looked at them beseechingly and wandered down the corridor to
another door exactly like the one she had just left. She stared at this
one for several minutes, then boldly opened it a crack and peered in.

“Oh, Goodness! I beg your pardon,” she said to someone in the room,
hastily closing the door. “Well,” she said, “that’s one that isn’t the
one. The First Knight of the Realm is in there pressing his breeches
for tonight’s performance.”

“The First Knight of the Realm presses his own clothes?” asked Twink.

“He does, he does,” asserted Lady Cue wagging her head. “I did it for
him once, but somehow the creases ran zig-zag and he looked like he was
corrugated. It is my opinion, though,” Lady Cue added in a confidential
whisper, “that he wears a poor quality garment.”

Lady Cue turned and started off down one of the smaller corridors.
Twink, Tom, and Twiffle followed her, at which Lady Cue stopped and
looked at them with a puzzled expression. “Did you wish to see me?” she
asked.

“You were taking us to our rooms,” reminded Twiffle.

“I was?” exclaimed Lady Cue greatly surprised. “Well, then you just
show me where your rooms are and I will be glad to take you to them.”

“But you were supposed to show _us_ to our rooms,” said Tom.

“I was? Oh, dear, this is confusing,” said Lady Cue.

“Have you no idea where our rooms are, Madame?” asked Twiffle.

“I wouldn’t say that,” replied Lady Cue. “I did have a very good idea,
but it seems I mislaid it somewhere. There are so very many rooms you
know–and any one of them might be yours, if only there weren’t so many
other people in the castle. That’s what we must be careful about, you
know. You will want your very own rooms, won’t you? I don’t think you
would want to share rooms with someone else, would you, maybe?”

All the time they were wandering from corridor to corridor while Lady
Cue became more and more unsure of her bearings.

At last she stopped and said hopelessly, “You’ll have to pardon me, my
friends, but I am afraid I am lost. I haven’t the faintest idea where
we are.”

“What shall we do?” asked Twink.

“I have it,” said Lady Cue. “I will pin my handkerchief to this door,”
and she indicated a door opposite them, “so that we can’t get more
lost. Whenever we pass this door with the handkerchief on it, we will
know exactly where we are.”

“And where will that be?” asked Twiffle.

“Why, where the handkerchief is, of course,” replied Lady Cue. With
that Lady Cue reached in her pocket and pulled out a large linen napkin
that bore traces of food on it.

“Oh, dear,” she exclaimed. “I seem to have picked this up at luncheon.
How thoughtless of me.” She advanced to the door, and removing a large
safety pin from the front of her dress, carefully pinned the napkin to
the door.

“Whose rooms are these?” asked Twiffle.

“I haven’t the faintest idea,” replied Lady Cue.

“Why not open the door and find out?” pursued Twiffle.

“Why not?” echoed Lady Cue as she turned the knob and pushed open the
door. They all stepped inside. There was no sign of any occupants
of the room. The closets were all empty and there were no personal
articles about. The suite consisted of a large, beautifully furnished
living room, with doors leading to two comfortable bedrooms with baths.

“Why can’t we use these rooms?” asked Twiffle.

“What a wonderful idea,” exclaimed Lady Cue. “Then we won’t have to
hunt any longer for your rooms, because these will be your rooms. But
are you sure it’s all right? It sounds much too simple.” And with a
worried look the poor lady started to take down the napkin from the
door.

“No, no,” said Twiffle. “Leave the napkin there. Then you will be able
to find us again. Remember now–just look for the napkin on the door
and you’ll know which is our room.”

Lady Cue nodded and extracted a large, old-fashioned watch from the
depths of her sewing basket. She squinted at it, and said, “You have
just one-half hour to prepare for dinner. I will call for you and take
you to the–the–oh yes, the dining room. That,” she confided, “is
where they are serving dinner tonight.” With that the befuddled Lady
Cue closed the door, only to find she was still in the room. So, she
opened it, stepped outside, and then carefully closed it again.

Twink, Tom, and Twiffle, in spite of their troubles, burst out
laughing. If anything went right with the play tonight they were sure
it wouldn’t be due to Lady Cue’s efforts.

While Twiffle waited patiently, the children bathed, scrubbed their
faces and hands, and reappeared much refreshed and quite ready for the
dinner that had been promised them.

Twink was fascinated with the long rows of books on one side of the
luxuriously furnished room, but she hardly had time to do more than
glance at a few pictures, when there came a gentle rapping on their
door.

Twiffle opened it. There stood Lady Cue. Her dress was on backwards and
she had forgotten to do her hair. Solemnly she counted Twink, Tom, and
Twiffle–one, two, three. “Is that right?” she asked them anxiously.
“Were there just three of you? So often when I count I have something
left over. This time it seems to come out even. That’s very odd.”

“Three would be odd,” muttered Twiffle. Fortunately Lady Cue didn’t
hear him, or she might have become even more confused. She was
already on her way through the corridors, so the children and the
clown followed her. After several false starts, and wandering through
a number of corridors, they finally found their way to the great
staircase.

Continue Reading

The Lord High Mayor

The Shaggy Man was awake in an instant. “What is it, Twiffle, what is
wrong?”

“There is no time to lose,” whispered Twiffle. “Quick, get into your
clothes, and I will arouse the children.”

Shaggy dressed as speedily as possible, but no sooner had he finished
than Twiffle, followed by Twink and Tom, now wide-eyed with excitement
and fully dressed, appeared in the doorway. “Come,” Twiffle whispered.

Silently Shaggy and the children followed Twiffle down the marble
stairway to the elevator. The castle was not entirely dark, thanks to
the bright moonlight flowing through the windows. They stepped into
the elevator which had a dim light of its own. Once more it shot up to
the roof of the tower. Stepping out on the roof, Twiffle beckoned them
after him. The clown made his way straight to the Magic Airmobile. He
climbed in, motioning for Shaggy and the children to do likewise. They
all squeezed into the contraption after him. Twink noted the cushioned
seats in each end of the Airmobile were soft and yielding–Conjo
certainly liked comfort.

“Where are we going? And why?” demanded the Shaggy Man.

“There is no time to talk now,” retorted Twiffle briefly. “Wait until
we are well in the air.”

“Do you know how to operate this thing?” asked Tom.

“I have watched Conjo run it many times. I am sure I can manage it,”
replied Twiffle.

The little clown was busy with the buttons which exposed the gravity
resistor plates, and almost before they realized it, the Airmobile had
risen gently from the roof and was moving silently through the night.

“Ah, that is a relief,” sighed Twiffle as he watched Conjo’s castle
recede in the distance.

“But where are we going?” asked Twink, who was thoroughly enjoying the
ride through the cool night air.

“The main thing,” explained Twiffle, “is to get as far away from Conjo
as possible.”

“Then he is a villain, as I suspected,” said Shaggy.

Twiffle nodded. “Conjo is a curious man. He repaired the Love Magnet
because he couldn’t bear seeing one of his own charms broken. He is
very vain. Actually he doesn’t care anything about the Love Magnet,
which has no effect on him, since he made it. He doesn’t love anyone
and he doesn’t want anyone to love him. He came to this island many
years ago. He wanted to be alone, since he disliked people and desired
only to work on his wizard charms and incantations. He brought me to
life merely to amuse himself and to have someone to talk to when he
felt like boasting. Recently he has become restless. He has found that,
after all, he wants someone before whom he can show off his magic
tricks. But he hesitated to bring many people to the island, fearing
they would steal some of his precious magic tools.”

Twiffle paused and sighed. He went on, “I had made the mistake of
telling him about you, Twink and Tom. Those visits he permitted me to
your home, while you slept, were the only kindness Conjo ever showed
me, so I don’t feel I owe him any allegiance, even though he did bring
me to life. Well, yesterday Conjo announced he was going to use his
magic to bring you children to his island.”

“I see,” murmured Twink, “And so you have rescued us.”

“I hope so,” replied Twiffle. “After what I found out tonight I
couldn’t let you stay here. Conjo talks in his sleep a great deal, and
tonight he mumbled enough for me to learn completely for the first time
what his plans are for you two children.”

“What do you mean ‘plans’?” asked Tom.

“Why, Conjo was going to make you drink a magic potion that would wipe
out all memory of your home, parents, and former lives. Then you would
be content to stay on the island with him.”

“How dreadful!” exclaimed Twink, shuddering.

“And I suppose he never meant for me to return to the Land of Oz,” said
the Shaggy Man.

“Oh, no,” replied Twiffle. “Conjo wanted your magic Compass badly,
because it possesses a kind of magic that he knows nothing about. I
believe he meant to transport you to the Land of Ev, where you could
find your way back to Oz as best you could.”

“But now,” said Twink happily, “the Airmobile will take us all to the
Land of Oz.”

Twiffle shook his head. “No,” he said, “I’m afraid it won’t. Conjo is
a clever wizard of sorts, but he is not powerful enough to invent a
machine that will fly across the Deadly Desert.”

“You mean this contraption won’t carry us over the desert and back to
Oz?” the Shaggy Man asked, greatly disturbed.

“No,” said Twiffle. “I have heard of powerful birds managing to fly
high enough to cross the Deadly Desert, but I know of no magic that
can penetrate the barrier of invisibility that Glinda the Good spread
across the deadly waste many years ago–certainly not Conjo’s magic!”

“Then what shall we do?” asked the Shaggy Man.

“As I said,” reminded Twiffle, “the most important thing was to get
out of Conjo’s power. The Airmobile will carry us to the edge of the
Deadly Desert, but no farther.”

The Shaggy Man was silent considering. Once he had managed to cross the
Deadly Desert in a sandboat–that had been before Glinda had laid down
the magic barrier. But even since then, others had crossed the desert.
So, the Shaggy Man didn’t give up all hope.

The Airmobile was carrying them swiftly and silently through the night.
Below them the waters of the Nonestic Ocean gleamed silver in the
moonlight. There was just the faintest rocking motion as the Airmobile
sped along. Perhaps it was this and the fact that Shaggy and the two
children were deep in their own thoughts that made them all fall
asleep before they knew it. Twiffle smiled and applied himself to the
operation of the Airmobile. He had no need for sleep.

Twink was the first to awaken. The sun was well up in the sky, and the
morning was bright and clear. She shook Tom awake and at the same time
the Shaggy Man aroused himself. They looked over the side of the craft
and saw below them a pleasant land of hills and rolling farmlands.

“The Land of Ev,” announced the Shaggy Man. “We shouldn’t be so very
far from the Deadly Desert now.”

Twiffle had looked up and was staring ahead of him in amazement. The
little clown slowed down the Airmobile.

Directly ahead of them was a cluster of little houses and buildings–a
good sized village–in the sky.

“What in the world can that be?” gasped Twink.

The Airmobile was moving very slowly as they approached the sky
village. Directly before them, on what would have been the outskirts of
the town, had it been on the earth, was a sign reading:

YOU ARE NOW ENTERING HIGHTOWN
Population–522
Altitude–approximately 15,000 feet (but it varies)

They could see people walking about among the houses, just as though
they were on solid ground.

The Shaggy Man shook his head.

Twink and Tom were staring, fascinated.

The Airmobile glided silently a few feet past the sign. Then it jerked
several times and came to an abrupt halt.

Twiffle looked puzzled. He pushed one button, then another, and
another. Nothing happened. Twiffle did it all over again, a bit
frantically this time. Still nothing happened.

“It’s no use,” said Twiffle. “The Airmobile won’t budge. We’re stuck in
mid-air!”

While Twiffle fussed with the controls of the Magic Airmobile, a crowd
of curious people began to gather about the stalled aircraft. They
were men, women, children, and even dogs, and they walked on the air
easily and unconcernedly, as if it were the normal thing to do. These
people were all very tall and exceedingly thin. The grown-ups were well
over eight feet in height, while the older children averaged about six
feet tall. Perhaps the fact that they lived so high up had caused
them to grow that way, too. Their clothing was what we would consider
old-fashioned, but was neat and well cared for. The women wore the
brightest of colors which flashed gaily in the clear sunlight.

The people chattered among themselves, pointing toward the Airmobile,
and several dogs barked excitedly. A loud voice exclaimed:

“What is the meaning of this? What is going on here?”

The crowd made way for the speaker who proved to be a sour-faced, tall
individual, wearing a frock coat and a high silk hat–a stovepipe hat,
the Shaggy Man would have called it.

“Pardon us,” began the Shaggy Man, “but I am afraid we are the cause of
all the excitement. You see our airship has stalled just inside your
town.”

The tall man stared curiously at the occupants of the Airmobile as he
said: “Of course your machine won’t operate in Hightown. In fact a
flying machine in Hightown is an utter absurdity–against all the town
ordinances and rules. I must ask you to remove it immediately.”

“Not very friendly, is he?” remarked Tom.

But Twiffle was interested. “What do you mean, sir, that our aircraft
is against your laws?”

The tall man sniffed. “It should be apparent to you that the last thing
in the sky we need is an airplane. Here, in this favored spot, we walk
on air and are not compelled to crawl across the earth like worms.”

“Yes,” said the Shaggy Man, “we can see all that. But tell us, your
Honor, do you think we would be able to walk on air as you do?”

The top-hatted man was distinctly flattered by the Shaggy Man’s mode
of address. “Ah,” he replied, “I can see that you recognize me as a
person of importance. I am the Lord High Mayor of Hightown and my word
here represents the highest law of the land. As for your being able to
walk as we do on the air, I see no reason why you shouldn’t since in
Hightown there is no gravity to pull you to the earth.”

“What was that you said?–no gravity?” Twiffle was obviously excited.

“Exactly,” replied the Lord High Mayor with great dignity. “Within the
boundaries of Hightown, the earth does not exert the least bit of
gravity–none whatsoever.”

“Then that explains it,” said Twiffle. “The Airmobile operates on the
principle of gravity, and since there is no gravity here, the craft is
useless.”

“What are we to do?” asked the Shaggy Man. “I am not sure I want to
go walking around on the air, although these folks seem to take to it
naturally enough.”

“Tell me,” said Twiffle, addressing the Lord High Mayor, “is Hightown
of very great area?”

“Oh,” exclaimed the Lord High Mayor, “it is simply enormous–no less
than four square acres of the most delightful air!”

“Have you any idea, your Honor,” asked the Shaggy Man, “how we can get
our flying machine out of Hightown?”

“Oh, that’s very simple,” replied the Lord High Mayor. “Since your
craft has only just crossed the boundary into Hightown, I would suggest
that you get out and push the machine to the edge of the boundary–then
push it a few inches more and it will be in the field of gravity again
where it is equipped to operate.”

“Of course!” exclaimed Twiffle joyfully. “Why didn’t I think of that?”

The Lord High Mayor smiled with smug satisfaction.

“I’ll adjust these gravity plates now,” continued Twiffle, “so the
plane won’t fall when it passes the boundary.” After he had pressed
some buttons, he and the Shaggy Man and Twink and Tom climbed out of
the Airmobile. The air seemed as solid under their feet as the earth.
Nevertheless, this walking on thin air was a most curious experience,
and in spite of themselves they found they were treading gingerly, as
though they were walking on eggs.

The Lord High Mayor and the crowd of Hightowners that had gathered
watched curiously as the Shaggy Man and Tom slowly pushed the Airmobile
toward the boundary of Hightown. It was no task at all, since the
Airmobile had no weight. They knew the sign that had greeted them as
they entered Hightown marked the spot where gravity again exerted its
pull, so they pushed the Airmobile slowly over this invisible line.

Zoom! Like an arrow shot from a bow the Airmobile darted upward. Far
above their heads it continued its mad climb into the sky. So fast did
it move that within a few seconds it was visible only as a tiny speck
far above them.

“What in the sky has happened?” gasped the Shaggy Man.

“It is all my fault,” said Twiffle despondently. “I must have exposed
the gravity plates too much when I adjusted them. I was so afraid the
plane would fall. When the Airmobile passed into the area of gravity it
shot _upward_. Now it is lost to us forever.” Twiffle looked as if he
were about to weep.

“Cheer up, Twiffle,” said the Shaggy Man. “Maybe we can get the
Airmobile back.” Shaggy turned to the Lord High Mayor and asked: “Since
we can walk on air as well as you, couldn’t we just walk up there and
climb into the Airmobile?”

“You could, if you wanted to stop breathing,” said the Lord High Mayor
cheerfully.

“Why do you say that?” asked the Shaggy Man.

“Because,” exclaimed the Lord High Mayor, “we have discovered that
the higher up you go, the thinner the air becomes. At the altitude
now attained by your craft, the air would be so thin that it would be
unbreathable.”

“Anyway,” said Twink with a sigh, “the Airmobile isn’t there any more.”

They all stared upward. The girl was right. The speck that had been
the Airmobile had vanished completely.

“Wonder where it went?” said Twink.

The Lord High Mayor explained pompously. “Apparently your craft
attained so great a speed that it shot off into space, beyond the power
of gravity. From now on there’s no telling where it will go.”

“And astronomers will report that folks from earth are about to visit
another world, I suppose,” grinned the Shaggy Man.

“Too bad old Conjo isn’t in it,” grumbled Twiffle.

“The question is,” said Tom, “what do we do now?”

“Right,” agreed the Shaggy Man, as he turned to the Lord High Mayor and
asked: “Sir, can you tell us how we can leave Hightown and proceed on
our journey?”

“You wish to leave Hightown? Where could you possibly wish to go?”
inquired the Lord High Mayor.

“Well, eventually we hope to reach the Emerald City in the Land of
Oz,” replied the Shaggy Man, “so we’re heading for the Deadly Desert
surrounding the Land of Oz. Then we’ll have to figure out some way to
cross the desert.”

The Lord High Mayor stared at Shaggy in horror. “The Deadly Desert!”
he exclaimed. “Do you mean to stand here in the sky and tell me
you actually wish to go near that terrible, burning, dry waste of
shifting, deadly sands, when you can stay here and enjoy the delightful
perfection of the aerial climate of Hightown?”

“No,” began the Shaggy Man patiently, “we don’t like the Desert any
more than you do, but in order to get to Oz we must cross the Desert. I
assure you the Land of Oz has a climate just as delightful as that of
Hightown.”

“That is impossible!” declared the Lord High Mayor indignantly.
“Hightown has the only perfect climate in the world, and now that you
are here, you might as well stay and enjoy it.”

“Wonder if he ever heard of California?” murmured Tom to Twink.

“We would like very much to stay and enjoy your climate, your Honor,”
replied the Shaggy Man, “but it is impossible. We must be on our way
to the Land of Oz, much as we admire your high airs. So, if you will
kindly tell us how we may leave your town, we will be much obliged.”

The Lord High Mayor seemed to be deep in thought. “Leave our town?”
he said incredulously. “I don’t believe it. No one could want to
leave Hightown. It is the pinnacle of civilization, the highest point
in high life ever reached by man. Sir, I conclude that I must have
misunderstood you. It is beyond comprehension that you should wish to
depart from this exalted community and go crawling about the lowly
earth like a worm. I simply must have misunderstood you.”

“There’s nothing wrong with your ears,” replied the Shaggy Man. “I said
it and I’ll say it again–we want to leave Hightown! Maybe we haven’t
advanced to the state where we can fully appreciate your hi-falutin’
ways, and if you want to know the truth we actually like to feel the
earth beneath our feet.”

The Lord High Mayor stared at the Shaggy Man unbelievingly. There was
a suspicion of tears in his eyes. “My poor, dear fellow,” he said.
“How I grieve for you–to have such low tastes. The earth under one’s
feet–ugh! But then,” he went on, brightening, “you have not been here
long enough to appreciate the soaring virtues of life in Hightown. Once
you have become accustomed to the lofty plane on which we live and the
superiority we enjoy over earth-crawlers, I am sure that all the sod
in the world will not tempt you to put foot upon earth again.”

“Please,” said the Shaggy Man in exasperation. “Will you stop talking
like the Chamber of Commerce and tell us how we can get back to earth?”

The Lord High Mayor eyed Shaggy narrowly. “Well,” he said, “if you
insist on leaving Hightown, you could walk to the boundary there, where
gravity begins again, step over and fall very quickly to the earth.
That is the fastest way I can think of leaving Hightown, but I wouldn’t
recommend it.”

“No, no,” the Shaggy Man assured him. “We have no desire to _fall_ to
the earth.” Shaggy looked below him with a shudder. “We would be in no
shape to continue our travels if we did that.”

“Well, then, you see, it is all settled,” said the Lord High Mayor with
a beaming smile. “You will stay with us. Everything is settled and
there is not the slightest doubt that you will find Hightown the Garden
Spot of the Sky. Now, since I am the Lord High Mayor of Hightown,
it is my elevated privilege and honor to welcome you and make you
comfortable. You will please follow me on what is the most fortunate
journey of your life–for you are on your way to savoring the high and
flighty life of Hightown.”

There seemed nothing else to do, so Shaggy and his friends followed the
Lord High Mayor, stepping gingerly on what seemed to them to be the
airiest space. As the Mayor proceeded, the crowd of curious Hightowners
made way for him and the little company of adventurers.

“Might I inquire,” asked Twiffle, “where you are taking us?”

“Why, to my Air Castle, of course,” answered the Lord High Mayor.
“Since you are guests, you must be treated with the greatest courtesy.
Later we will find a permanent dwelling for you.”

They had now reached the center of the small town, and here the Lord
High Mayor paused before a dwelling that was little different from any
other of the houses which were scarcely more than bungalows, except
that they were all quite high and narrow to suit the shapes of the
Hightowners.

“This is your Air Castle?” asked the Shaggy Man. “It looks no different
from the other houses.”

“And why should it be different?” demanded the Lord High Mayor. “Here
we all live in Air Castles. You people who crawl around on the earth
just dream of them. We are privileged to enjoy them.” This last was
said with an air of great pride.

One thing did distinguish the Lord High Mayor’s dwelling from the
others in the town. Directly in front of it there stood a handsome
flower pot in which was blossoming a beautiful magnolia. The Lord High
Mayor paused to enjoy the delightful aroma of the flower.

“Ah, magnolia! That means we shall have a south wind soon. You visitors
are indeed fortunate to have arrived in Hightown at this time.”

“I’m not so sure we would be fortunate to arrive here any time,”
grumbled Twiffle.

“You see,” the Mayor went on, disregarding Twiffle’s remark. “When the
magnolia blossoms that means a south wind is coming. And _that_ means
we shall soon have a delightful southern cloud on which to walk. I
assure you there is nothing more delightful than walking on a southern
cloud.”

“Seems to me clouds of any sort would be sort of squiggy for walking
purposes, no matter how pretty they are to look at,” said the Shaggy
Man.

“What happens when there’s a north wind coming?” asked Twink curiously.

“Oh, then the plant blossoms with a beautiful wild thyme and we are
privileged to enjoy that delightful scent. When there’s an east wind
on its way,” the Lord High Mayor continued, “then the plant bears
chrysanthemums. When the west wind is coming, we enjoy the blossoms and
scent of wild roses.”

“Doesn’t the west wind bring rain clouds?” asked Tom, remembering that
it usually did in Buffalo.

“Yes,” said the Mayor, “that is right.”

“Then it _rains_ here in Hightown where you have a perfect climate?”
asked the boy, remembering his disgust with the rain at home.

“Not at all,” replied the Mayor. “There is no gravity to pull the
raindrops earthward, so it can’t rain. We just go out wading in the
rain cloud.”

“That’s quite a plant,” said the Shaggy Man, staring at the flower pot
with its beautiful blossoms.

“It’s much more than that,” said the Mayor. “Certainly since we have
the most perfect weather in the world in Hightown, we would have the
most perfect weather forecaster. That’s just what the plant is.”

While Tom was trying to puzzle out why, if Hightown always had perfect
weather, it needed any weather forecaster at all, the door of the
Mayor’s home opened and they were welcomed by a tall, thin woman in a
blue checked bungalow apron. She proved to be the Mayor’s wife.

The good woman immediately served dinner, hurrying about and doing her
best to make the visitors at home. She was particularly pleasant to
Twink and Tom and was greatly amazed and a little awed by Twiffle.

Strangely enough, the food consisted entirely of fruits, but they were
all fresh and tasty.

When the meal was over, the Lord High Mayor announced that it was time
for a nap.

“A nap!” exclaimed the Shaggy Man. “Why, it is only a little past noon.
We can’t sleep now.”

“It is the custom in Hightown,” remarked the Mayor placidly, “and you
will soon come to enjoy the siesta as much as we. However, if you
cannot sleep, you may sit on the front porch. But don’t go off the
porch and wander about, as you may come to the edge of the town and
fall to the earth.”

With this, the Lord High Mayor and his wife retired to their room and
the visitors were left to themselves. There seemed nothing else to do
but to follow the Mayor’s suggestion and while away the Town’s hour of
sleep on the front porch. Here they found several chairs and a swing
and soon made themselves comfortable.

There was nothing interesting about the scenery, and little to talk
about, and they were beginning to be a bit bored when a saucy brown
wren flitted out of the sky and perched on the porch railing, regarding
Shaggy and his friends with bright little eyes.

“Strangers here, aren’t you?” asked the bird. “Fine place to live.
You’ll like it, I’m sure.”

“We don’t like it and we don’t intend to stay,” said the Shaggy Man, a
bit ill-humoredly.

“Well, if you don’t like it, then why don’t you leave right away?”
asked the bird.

“How?” asked Shaggy. “Walk to the edge of the town and fall to the
earth? We can’t fly like you, you know.”

“You don’t need to fly. You can walk down through the air–or rather,
swim down–using your arms to push you through the air. There’s no
gravity, you know.” And with a flirt of its saucy tail the bird was
gone.

With a shout, Twiffle leaped to his feet. “What fools we’ve been! Of
course there’s no gravity, and we can push ourselves right down to
earth! Come on, let’s be on our way.”

Twiffle ran to the edge of the porch and leaped off head first. They
could see the little clown below them, moving his arms like a swimmer.

“Should we try it?” asked the Shaggy Man doubtfully.

Tom didn’t wait for an answer. He jumped from the porch just as Twiffle
had done. He found that by moving his arms he could force himself
downward. Indeed, it was no more effort than walking on a level on the
air. In a short time he discovered that, since there was no gravity,
he could move at will, up or down through the air. Now Twink was at
his side, thoroughly enjoying the novel experience. The Shaggy Man was
following close behind. Twink glanced upward once and saw the spectacle
of a whole town, suspended in the air above her. She could even make
out the Mayor’s house and the flower pot in front of it.

They were all swimming earthward at about the same level, when there
was a flirt of small wings and the wren who had spoken to them on the
porch of the Lord High Mayor’s house, alighted on the Shaggy Man’s
shoulder.

“I see you took my advice,” said the wren.

“Yes,” said the Shaggy Man, “and we are grateful to you for telling us
about this easy way to leave Hightown.”

“Think nothing of it,” replied the wren airily. “I always feel sorry
for anyone who gets stuck in Hightown. There isn’t a stupider place in
the world. Those Hightowners have never seen anything but their own
silly little town, so they just can’t imagine there’s anything else in
the world.”

“You get around quite a bit, I suppose,” ventured the Shaggy Man.

“Being a bird, naturally,” retorted the wren with a saucy flirt of his
tail.

“Well, then,” said Shaggy, “would you mind doing your own flying and
getting off my shoulder?”

“That’s gratitude for you,” said the wren reproachfully. “I save you
from a life of boredom and you refuse to let me hitchhike down to
earth.” But the bird didn’t move from Shaggy’s shoulder.

“Where are you going–anywhere in particular?” asked Twink.

“Oh yes, of course,” the wren replied. “Just below Hightown there
is a lovely orchard of all kinds of fruit trees. That’s where the
Hightowners get all their food. They live on fruit. They can boast
about their silly town all they like, but when they want food you can
bet they hurry down to the orchard on earth for it. That’s why they
don’t like us birds. We enjoy eating the fruit in the orchard, too. We
seldom go near Hightown, except when the people are asleep. They are
so disagreeable they throw things at us and accuse us of stealing from
their orchard. Their orchard, indeed!”

“Tell me,” said the Shaggy Man, “was your mother a magpie?”

“Of course not,” replied the wren indignantly.

“I thought she must have been,” said the Shaggy Man, “because you
certainly chatter like a magpie.”

“That’s enough,” declared the wren. “If you can’t appreciate
intelligent conversation, I shan’t waste it upon you. You are far too
slow for me anyway. No hard feelings, though–good luck to all of you.”

And with that the wren was off, darting swiftly earthward.

Shaggy and his friends all had a good laugh over the gossipy little
bird.

Ten minutes more “swimming” brought them within sight of the orchard
about which the bird had told them.

“The Hightown sign said ‘altitude 15,000 feet,'” said Tom. “That’s
almost three miles. I can’t believe we’ve been swimming that far.”

“Probably they boosted that figure as high as their opinion of
Hightown,” said Twiffle, “and anyway, it did say the altitude varied.
Varies very much, I’d say.”

A few minutes later they were standing on the earth in a grove of
apple, plum, and cherry trees. Every branch was filled with ripe,
luscious fruit. Twink looked for their friend, the wren, but saw
nothing of him. The Shaggy Man began looking about the ground for
apples. Suddenly he laughed.

“That was really stupid of me,” he called to Twink and Tom. “Of course
there aren’t any apples on the ground. They can’t fall off the trees!”

“This must be where the Hightowners get their fruit,” said Twink.

“Of course,” replied Shaggy. “They thought they would keep us with them
by not telling us how easy it is to reach the earth from Hightown.”

“But they must have known we would see some of them coming and going
to the orchard, and find out sooner or later how to escape,” said Tom.

“Well, thanks to that bird, we found out sooner,” said Twiffle.

Before they left the grove, Shaggy walked in the air to the upper
branches of the biggest apple tree in the orchard and filled his
pockets with the largest and ruddiest of the fruit. “Can’t tell where
we’ll find our next meal,” he explained.

Knowing the area that was freed from the force of gravity was of very
small extent, Shaggy and his friends walked steadily in one direction,
treading several feet in the air, since that was easier than walking
on the earth. As there was no difference in the appearance of the
countryside, where gravity exerted itself again, they had no way of
telling when they would suddenly emerge from the gravity-less land.

Shaggy was in the lead when he suddenly experienced that curious
sensation that comes when you step unexpectedly into a hole. The result
was that Shaggy toppled forward and found himself sprawled on the
grass. Following him came Twink, Tom and Twiffle. Only Tom managed to
maintain his balance. What he had realized in time, was simply that the
others had stepped off the air, on which they had been walking, to the
earth a foot or two below them.

The Shaggy Man sighed. “Give me the earth to crawl around on any day,
as our friend the Lord High Mayor would put it, even though it does
mean an occasional tumble.”

Continue Reading

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!”

Continue Reading

Magic Belt

“Ozma! Where is Ozma? I must see her at once–immediately!”

The Soldier with the Green Whiskers had run all the way from the
gates of the Emerald City of Oz to the Royal Palace with his whiskers
streaming at least six feet behind him. Now that he had arrived at the
palace, he was panting and wild-eyed with excitement.

“Whatever is the matter with you, Omby Amby?” asked Jellia Jamb,
Ozma’s dainty little maid, eyeing the distraught Guardian of the Gates
with undisguised curiosity.

Omby Amby groaned. “Something terrible has happened. I must report it
to Ozma at once.”

“Can’t you give me just an inkling of what it is?” coaxed Jellia.

“No,” replied Omby Amby firmly. The Soldier, who was Ozma’s Royal Army,
was rapidly regaining his composure–and his breath–after his wild
dash through the emerald-studded streets of the city.

“Well, then come along,” replied Jellia Jamb with a sigh. “I suppose I
shall have to wait for Ozma to tell me what has upset you so terribly.”

The little maid led the way down the corridors of the Royal Palace
until she came to a large double door. Here she knocked and a moment
later Ozma’s voice answered: “Come in.”

Jellia Jamb opened the door and the Soldier with the Green Whiskers
followed her into the room. This was Ozma’s library, where the shelves
that rose from the floor to the ceiling were filled with Magic Books
of Records. The little ruler of Oz was seated at a table, deep in the
study of one of the books. She looked up questioningly as Omby Amby
stood before her. Jellia Jamb silently departed, closing the door
behind her.

“Your Highness,” began Omby Amby, “it is my painful duty to report a
most regrettable misfortune.”

“What is it, Omby Amby,” asked Ozma with a kindly smile. “What has
happened?”

“It’s the Love Magnet, your Highness,” gulped the Soldier. “It’s been
broken!”

“Broken!” exclaimed Ozma, rising from her chair. “How could that ever
have happened?”

“It was the nail,” explained Omby Amby miserably. “If your highness
will recall the Love Magnet has been hanging from a nail over the Gates
of the Emerald City for many years–in fact, ever since the Shaggy Man
came to live in the Land of Oz.”

“Yes, I know,” said Ozma.

“Well,” went on the Soldier, “the nail must have rusted and this
morning it snapped. The Love Magnet fell to the bricks of the Yellow
Road and broke into two pieces.”

Ozma’s face was grave. “You brought the pieces with you?” she asked.

“Yes, your Highness, I did,” replied Omby Amby. Delving into one of his
pockets, he handed Ozma the two pieces of the Love Magnet, a small bit
of metal, shaped like a horseshoe when it was whole.

Ozma held the broken Love Magnet in her hand, regarding it sadly. “It
is too bad,” she said, “that so wonderful a charm should be broken.”

“Do you mean it can’t be repaired, your Highness?” asked Omby Amby.

“Of that I am not sure,” replied Ozma. “Perhaps the first thing we
should do is ask the Shaggy Man to come here and explain to him how the
Love Magnet came to be broken, since it does, after all, really belong
to him.”

“I will go for him immediately,” said the Soldier, turning to the door.

“You will find him in the garden with Dorothy and Jack Pumpkinhead, who
is trying on a new head,” said Ozma, as Omby Amby made a low bow and
closed the door behind him.

By luck, Ozma reflected, the Shaggy Man was in the Emerald City. She
knew that Shaggy was fond of making long trips about the Land of Oz,
exploring the little-known corners and regions of this most famous of
all Fairylands. Now he had just returned from a visit with his brother
who was in the Gillikin Country. While she waited, Ozma recalled how
the Shaggy Man had befriended Dorothy in the Great Outside World and
had found his way to the Land of Oz in the company of little Dorothy.
With him he had brought the Love Magnet, a curious magical talisman,
which caused whoever carried it to be loved by all he met. Shaggy had
gratefully accepted Ozma’s invitation to make his home in the Land
of Oz, and since he had no further need for the Love Magnet, Ozma
had caused it to be hung over the Gates of the Emerald City so that
all who entered might be loving and loved. Before she had done this,
however, Ozma had wisely altered the powers of the Love Magnet so that
the talisman did not automatically cause the person who carried it to
be loved by all he met, but must be _displayed_ by its carrier before
the eyes of the person or persons whose love he wished to win. Thus,
control of the powers of the Magnet were given to its owner. All this
had happened so long ago that it was now duly written down in Professor
Wogglebug’s Chronicles of the Land of Oz.

Ozma’s reflections were ended by the appearance of Omby Amby and the
Shaggy Man who had no idea that anything was the matter.

“Dorothy said to tell you, your Highness, that it’s one of the best
heads Jack ever had,” the Shaggy Man announced with satisfaction, as he
entered the room. “Dorothy’s fitting it on Jack’s body now.”

“Won’t you sit down, please, Shaggy Man?” invited Ozma.

The little Ruler’s expression was so serious that the Shaggy Man asked
with concern, “What is it, Ozma? What’s wrong?”

Ozma answered silently by extending her palm on which lay the halves of
the broken Love Magnet.

The Shaggy Man’s eyes clouded. “Oh, that _is_ too bad. I was very fond
of the Love Magnet. It always made me feel happy whenever I entered or
left the Emerald City. How did it come to be broken?”

Ozma explained in a few words what had happened.

“But can’t the Love Magnet be repaired?” asked the Shaggy Man. “I
should think it would be an easy matter for you or the Wizard or Glinda
to put it together again as good as new.”

“No,” Ozma shook her head. “It isn’t as simple as that. A long time
ago I looked up the history of the Love Magnet in my Magic Record
Books and I found that, if broken, it could be made whole only by one
person–the person who created it.”

“And who,” asked the Shaggy Man with deep interest, “is that?”

“It has been so long ago,” admitted Ozma, “that I have forgotten who it
was. But I can look it up in a few seconds.”

Ozma moved to the far side of the library, where she selected one of
the Magic Record Books and opened it on a table. After turning the
pages until she found the one containing the Love Magnet’s history,
Ozma ran her finger down the finely printed column.

“Here it is,” she announced. “The man who made the Love Magnet, and the
only person who can repair it, is a Wizard named Conjo, who lives on a
tiny island in the middle of the Nonestic Ocean.”

Omby Amby had returned to his post at the Gates of the Emerald City and
Ozma and the Shaggy Man had retired to the Chamber of Magic. Here were
kept many of the most valuable magical instruments in all the Land of
Oz.

“There is only one thing to be done,” the Shaggy Man was saying. “I
must take the broken Love Magnet to this Conjo and ask him to repair
it.”

“I am not sure at all that Conjo will agree to repair the Love Magnet
for you,” Ozma replied with a troubled expression. “You see, we know
very little about this Conjo. He lives alone on this tiny island in the
middle of the Nonestic Ocean and practices magic. There is no record of
his actually misusing his magical powers. Nor, so far as we know, has
he caused trouble for anyone. However, we have reason to believe he is
rather selfish and thoughtless and that he might cause harm, without
really meaning to, just to satisfy his vanity. Also, it might not suit
his whim to mend the Love Magnet.”

“What is the name of the island on which Conjo lives?” asked the Shaggy
Man musingly.

“It is called the Isle of Conjo, and since it is many miles from the
Land of Oz, I have no power over the Wizard at all. In fact,” concluded
Ozma, “that is the reason we here in the Land of Oz know so little
about Conjo.”

“Nevertheless,” maintained the Shaggy Man, “I think I should go as soon
as possible to this island and do everything I can to persuade Conjo to
make the Love Magnet whole.”

“Even after you crossed the Deadly Desert, you would have several
days’ journey through the Land of Ev, and then you would only be on the
shores of the Nonestic Ocean. So, I think it would be best, since you
are determined to make the journey, for me to use the Magic Belt to
transport you directly to the Isle of Conjo.”

The Shaggy Man willingly agreed to this plan, stating that he was ready
to leave at once.

“First,” said Ozma, “let us have a look at the Isle of Conjo in the
Magic Picture.”

The girl Ruler swept aside the velvet curtain that hung over the Magic
Picture when it was not in use. The picture appeared to be a peaceful,
country farmland scene with purple hills rising in the distance. “Show
us the Isle of Conjo in the Nonestic Ocean,” said Ozma.

Immediately the picture shifted and changed. It now reflected a gently
rolling meadowland with a great castle in the distance. Approaching
the castle were a young girl and a boy, accompanied by the figure of a
little wooden clown.

Ozma gasped in surprise. “Those are human children, Shaggy Man! What
can they be doing there when my Magic Record Books state that Conjo
is the only human being on the island? We can see that the clown
accompanying them is a puppet, evidently brought to life by Conjo.”

“Perhaps they are lost,” ventured the Shaggy Man.

“But how would they get to the island? It is surrounded by miles and
miles of ocean.”

“I don’t know,” admitted the Shaggy Man, “but it is one more good
reason for me to go there as quickly as possible–those children may be
in need of help.”

“I agree with you,” said Ozma quickly. “You must find out what the
children are doing on the island and see that they are returned to
their homes. If you cannot do that, then you must bring them with you
to the Land of Oz.”

“Will you use the Magic Belt to transport us back to the Land of Oz?”
asked the Shaggy Man.

“That will be impossible,” stated Ozma, “since I must leave this
afternoon to visit Glinda the Good. We are working on some extremely
important magic charms in which the powers of the Magic Belt are
needed. I am not sure how long I will be gone–perhaps for several
weeks.

“However,” Ozma went on, as she stepped to a heavy wooden chest, opened
one of its drawers, and withdrew a small object, “I want you to take
this with you. It will enable you to return to the Land of Oz anytime
you wish.”

“What is it?” asked the Shaggy Man curiously.

“It is a Magic Compass,” explained Ozma. “You will notice that it
is not round in shape like ordinary compasses, but is formed like a
rectangle, as is the Land of Oz.”

Shaggy looked at the Magic Compass and found that instead of being
marked, North, South, East, and West as is the usual compass, it bore
the words, Gillikin, Quadling, Winkie, and Munchkin, which are the
four countries making up the Land of Oz.

“Should you wish to return to any one of the four countries,” Ozma
went on, “just set the compass needle to the one to which you wish to
journey. If you want to come directly to the Emerald City, you have
only to spin the needle of the compass, and you will be here as quickly
as the Magic Belt could bring you.”

The Shaggy Man inspected the Magic Compass more closely and found that
the pivot on which the needle rested, rose from a spot of green in the
very center of the compass. This green spot, he knew, represented the
Emerald City.

“But what about the children?” the Shaggy Man asked. “If I can find no
way to send them home, I cannot simply leave them on the island.”

“Of course not,” replied Ozma. “If you think it necessary to bring them
to Oz with you, just have them put their arms in yours; then spin the
compass needle, and all three of you will be transported to the Emerald
City.”

The Shaggy Man placed the Magic Compass carefully in his pocket and
said: “Perhaps it would be well for me to be on my way. There’s no
telling what will happen on that island and those two children may
need help.”

Ozma slipped on the Magic Belt. “Goodbye, dear friend,” she said,
smiling fondly at the Shaggy Man. “Return as quickly as you can.” Then
she made the magic signal, and the Shaggy Man was no longer in the
Chamber of Magic.

Continue Reading

On the Isle of Conjo

“It just isn’t fair,” declared Tom, staring unhappily through the
window at the heavy rain pelting the lawn and garden about the house.

“Well, there’s nothing we can do about it so we might as well make the
best of it,” replied Twink philosophically.

“But I wanted to go outdoors and play this afternoon–you know we have
only a few more weeks until school starts. Besides, I’m sick and tired
of this old house and of every single thing we have to play with.”

Almost as if he understood Tom’s words, Twoffle, the children’s wooden
clown, tumbled over on his face in the corner where he had been
standing neglected.

“Now look what you’ve done! You’ve hurt Twoffle’s feelings,” accused
Twink reprovingly as she hastened to stand the funny little clown erect
again in his corner of the room.

Twink was especially fond of Twoffle. The little wooden clown, with
his hinged joints and gaudily painted features and clothing, had been
a part of their lives almost as long as Twink could remember. He had
taken part in many of their games, and being constructed of a fine
grade of durable wood, he had outlasted many other more fragile toys
that had come and gone.

Twink and Tom were twins. They lived in a large, comfortable house in
the city of Buffalo, New York, with their Mother and Father and Rosie
the cook.

This afternoon the house was very quiet. Twink’s and Tom’s father,
Professor Jones, was at work at the University, where he taught young
people all about electrons, atoms, molecules, and other mysterious
matters. Mrs. Jones was attending a meeting of her Club of Lady
Voters. Rosie, the cook, dozed in her warm kitchen, nodding over the
latest issue of a fashion magazine.

So it was no wonder the twins were a bit lonesome. The rain streamed
down the window monotonously and it seemed the afternoon would drag on
forever.

Twink glanced at the clock on the mantle. It was a little Dutch cottage
clock and the hands indicated it was almost three o’clock. Twink was
struck with a sudden idea.

“Come on, Tom!” she called. “Look at the time. If we don’t hurry we’ll
miss Chapter Four of Buffalo Bill Rides Again!”

Tom came to life immediately, and in an instant both children were
dashing down the broad stairway and into the library.

Here was the solution to their dull afternoon–a television set that
Professor Jones had built himself and installed in the library. It was
a very special set with a large “projection screen.” The glass tube of
the television set enlarged the picture on the screen. At three o’clock
each afternoon Twink and Tom could see another chapter in the exciting
moving picture serial of the wild west. The children were sure, of
course, that Buffalo Bill had been named after their own city, and this
made the picture all the more interesting.

Tom was busily turning knobs and dials and making adjustments. In a
few seconds the big screen lighted up with a bluish-green glare and
a moment later the pictures appeared. Buffalo Bill was ambushed by a
wildly howling mob of Redskins who were on the war-path. There was no
doubt in Twink’s and Tom’s minds that the famous scout would emerge
unharmed while the Indians would take to noisy flight.

But just as Buffalo Bill brought his rifle to his shoulder and was
sighting the nearest Redskin, something happened.

The flickering motion picture vanished from the television screen,
and in its place appeared a picture that made the children gasp. It
was one of the most beautiful scenes they could imagine: a peaceful,
rolling meadowland, bright with all kinds of wild-flowers on which the
sun shown down from a blue sky dotted with white, baby clouds. In the
distance rose the spires and minarets of a great castle, glittering and
glistening in the sunlight.

But it was not the castle or the sunny meadowland that held the
children’s attention.

Twink and Tom stared unbelievingly at a figure that stood in the center
of the television picture looking out at them with the most familiar of
smiles.

It was Twoffle, their wooden clown.

“Good afternoon, children,” said the clown quite clearly and calmly.

“G-g-g-good afternoon!” stammered Twink and Tom.

The little clown suddenly doubled up with merriment and then gasped:
“If you could only see yourselves! You’re all eyes–positively bug-eyed
if I ever saw anyone who was!”

“But what are you doing in the television picture?” asked Twink,
regaining a little of her composure.

The clown disregarded her question and was suddenly serious. “Come on,”
he ordered. “Conjo can hold this picture only a few minutes and you
just have time to walk through.”

“Walk through?” echoed Tom. “What do you mean?”

“Start walking toward the television screen and you’ll find out,”
answered the clown. “Or perhaps,” he added, “you would rather stay
there where it is raining and you can’t go outdoors.”

“But you’re only a picture,” objected Twink.

“Will you please do as I tell you and start walking toward the
television screen?” asked the clown sternly.

Twink and Tom looked at each other questioningly. Tom smiled and
shrugged. “Might as well try it–can’t do any harm,” he said.

“That’s the spirit!” exclaimed the little clown, smiling again. “Just
join hands and walk straight toward me.”

Tom took Twink’s hand and the two children slowly advanced toward the
television screen. The screen was nearly five feet high–several inches
taller than the children–and almost six feet wide. So vivid and real
was the picture that Twink imagined she could really walk right into it.

Just as the children were about to take the last step that would bring
them directly in front of the television screen, a sudden powerful gust
of wind hit their backs and sent them tumbling forward.

“This is where we’ll catch it,” thought Tom, sure that the wind must
have blown them into the screen. He sat up, fully expecting to see the
expensive screen torn to shreds.

Instead he saw an expanse of rolling meadowland, and he felt the warm
sun beating down on his head. Twink was sitting beside him on the
green grass, staring about in utter bewilderment. Before them stood the
clown, smiling broadly.

“It’s magic,” breathed Twink, “pure magic.”

“Well, it’s magic, all right,” answered the clown, “but I wouldn’t say
how pure it is.”

“But what has become of our library, and how did we get here, and how
can this be real, and why is it you’re not upstairs in my room?” The
questions tumbled out almost faster than Twink could ask them.

“One question at a time, please,” said the clown, “and I’ll try to
answer. Your library is right where it always is. This can be real
because it _is_ real. And I am not in your room because I belong here.”

“But, Twoffle,” protested Tom, “we left you in Twink’s room not fifteen
minutes ago.”

“You didn’t leave me there, and don’t call me Twoffle,” objected the
clown.

By this time Twink and Tom were standing up and brushing off their
clothes. “But you _are_ our Twoffle, you know,” stated the girl. “We
have had you for years and years.”

“I am not your Twoffle–of all the silly names,” said the clown with
some irritation. “I am my own Twiffle.”

“Then how is it you look so much like our Twoffle?” asked Tom, who
noted the clown was the same size as Twoffle and looked like his double.

“I was about to tell you,” explained the clown, “that my name is
Twiffle, and Twoffle is my third cousin.”

“Oh, so then you know Twoffle?” asked Twink curiously.

“Know him?” replied Twiffle. “Of course I know him. And I also know you
two very well. Many nights Twoffle and I have sat in your rooms with
the moonlight streaming through the window and talked by the hour while
you children slept.”

Twink and Tom said nothing. They were busy thinking. All this was so
strange and had happened so unexpectedly and suddenly that they were
still bewildered. Tom’s eyes were puzzled as he asked: “Just before we
came through the screen, you said something about Conjo being able to
‘hold the picture for only a few minutes.’ Who is Conjo?”

Twiffle was suddenly alert. “That reminds me,” he said, “that we must
be on our way at once. Conjo is expecting you and we mustn’t keep him
waiting.”

Without another word, Twiffle started walking across the grass. The
children followed.

“But who is this Conjo, and where does he live?” asked Twink.

“And what does he want with us?” added Tom.

Without pausing to look at the children, Twiffle answered: “Conjo is
a Wizard–the sole ruler of this island, the Isle of Conjo. He lives
in the castle you can see in the distance. What he wants with you, he
will undoubtedly tell you himself.” With this, the little clown flashed
Twink and Tom a bright smile and then walked steadily on toward the
glittering castle.

Twink found that she had no trouble at all in keeping up with Twiffle,
because his legs were so short and his stride so small. She had plenty
of time to pause occasionally and gather the colorful wild flowers that
dotted the green meadowland.

Continue Reading

I will agree to any conditions

Three days later, in the early evening, Loammi Little met Harold in the
street.

“Hi, you boy!” he said, with malicious pleasure; “you lost your place at
my father’s store, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” answered Harold, calmly.

“That will teach you to treat me with respect hereafter.”

“I suppose I am indebted to you for getting me discharged.”

“Yes,” answered Loammi, with a smile.

“Then I want to thank you.”

“To thank me!” exclaimed Loammi, in surprise.

“Yes, for I have now a better place.”

“Where?”

“With Tower, Douglas & Co.”

“Did Scott Walton get it for you?” asked Loammi, quickly.

“Yes.”

“Then he had better mind his own business. My father may get him
discharged from his place there.”

“That is more than he can do. Mr. Tower puts great confidence in Scott.”

“Do you know what he pays him?”

“Forty dollars a week.”

“Nonsense!” said Loammi, angrily.

“It is true.”

“Then Mr. Tower is a fool.”

“Why don’t you call and tell him so?”

A really mean person can receive no heavier blow than to find his
malicious attempt to injure another of no avail. This was the case with
Loammi.

When he was forced to believe that Scott really received the high salary
he had contemptuously scoffed at, he became more discontented than ever.
He tried to get his father to increase his allowance, but without
success. He was mortified to find that even Harold vied with him in
dress.

“How these beggarly upstarts are coming up!” he said to himself,
bitterly. “It makes me sick.”

But a heavier blow was in store for him. Dull times came in business,
retail trade fell off, and one morning it was announced in the papers
that the great house of Ezra Little had suspended.

Mr. Little made desperate efforts to secure financial assistance, but in
vain. No one liked him, and it looked as if he was irretrievably ruined.

When things looked darkest, a plain-looking old man entered the store,
and asked to see Mr. Little.

“Seth Lawton!” exclaimed the merchant. “I can’t see you. I am very
busy.”

“I hear you are in trouble,” said Cousin Seth.

“And I suppose you are glad of it,” replied Ezra, bitterly.

“No, I have come to help you,” responded Mr. Lawton.

“You help me!” repeated Ezra, scornfully. “What good will a few hundred
dollars do?”

“How much help do you need?”

“With forty thousand dollars I could weather the storm handsomely,”
replied Mr. Little.

“You shall have it, if you will secure me well.”

“Have you got forty thousand dollars? I thought you a poor man.”

“It isn’t the only mistake you have made, Cousin Ezra. At the time you
looked down upon me I was richer than yourself. But I will only help you
on conditions.”

“I will agree to any conditions,” said Ezra, his pride humbled. “Only
help me out of my present trouble.”

So the house of Ezra Little was saved, and its head received a lesson.
His pride had had a fall. Those whom he looked down upon proved to
surpass him in the only thing on which he prided himself–the possession
of money.

One of Cousin Seth’s conditions was that Loammi should go into his
father’s store, and exchange his elegant leisure for honest work. He
complained a good deal, but Seth Lawton and his father insisted. He may
in time become a useful, hard-working man of business, but he has a good
deal to learn first.

Scott continues to prosper, and next year will become a partner in the
firm of Tower, Douglas & Co. Harold is earning a good salary now, and
his father’s troubles are over. He gets more remunerative work at his
profession, and, with his family, occupies a pleasant home in Bayonne.

Mr. Lawton has leased a handsome house uptown, and Scott lives with him.
He is rich–how rich no one knows–and Scott is generally supposed to be
his heir.

Continue Reading

THE SEALED PACKET

One day, in looking over his trunk, Scott’s eye fell on the sealed
packet, referred to at the opening of this story, which was inscribed:

_For my Son._

_To be opened a year from my death._

Singularly, the next day would be the anniversary of his father’s
passing away.

Scott had been so busy that he had given little thought to this packet.
Now his interest was excited, and the next day he broke the seal, and
read the letter which it contained.

It ran thus:

“MY DEAR SCOTT: When you open this packet twelve months will have
passed, and I hope you will be in a position to live comfortably on
your earnings. I assume that you will be in the employ of Ezra
Little, who I understand is well to do, and who will not, I think,
turn his back upon a needy relative.

“You will find nothing in this letter that will provide for your
future prospects. Indeed, I wish to pass on to you a debt which I
am unable to pay.

“During early manhood, I received many favors from a young man
named Robert Kent, who afterward emigrated to America. I heard a
report two years since that he had been unfortunate, and that his
family was suffering. I should like to be able to help him in
memory of the past, but my life is nearing the end. Should you ever
fall in with Mr. Kent or his family, if you can do anything for
them on your father’s account, I shall be very glad. It may seem
strange that I give you this legacy of duty, considering that I
leave you well-nigh penniless, but I have confidence that sooner or
later you will succeed, and I hope you may be in a position to help
my early friend or his family.

“The only clew I can give you as to my old friend’s whereabouts is,
that he was an artist by profession, and that he went to New York.
Probably, if living, he is in that city, or near it. You may not be
in a position to help him, but I should like to have you make his
acquaintance, and tell him that I have not forgotten him or his
past kindness.”

There was something more, but this was the substance of the letter. It
was sufficient to interest Scott greatly.

“I wish I could find my father’s friend,” he reflected. “Though but a
year has passed, I am amply able to pay the debt which my poor father
owed. It would be pleasant, besides, to see one of his friends.”

Naturally, Scott’s first reference was to the New York directory. He
found numerous Kents, but none that seemed likely to be Robert Kent.
There was no artist of that name included in the list.

He thought of advertising, but this would involve a greater degree of
publicity than he desired, and might lead to attempted imposture.

A month passed, and Scott was as perplexed as ever. To seek for any
particular man in a crowded city like New York was like seeking a needle
in a haystack. Besides, he might have left New York and gone to some
other city, perhaps to the West.

Yet the man of whom he was in search was, at that very moment, occupying
a shabby lodging on Bleecker Street, with his wife and two children.
Moreover, his son, a boy a few months younger than Scott, was employed
by Ezra Little, in his Eighth Avenue store, at a salary of three
dollars a week.

Let us look in upon the Kents in their humble home.

The apartments consisted of three rooms, after the usual fashion of New
York tenements. In the one large room, sitting in a big rocking-chair,
was a man of middle age, with an expression of pain upon his delicate
and refined features. He had been for some time the victim of a
rheumatic affection which at times prevented him from working.

At half-past six the door opened, and a slender, dark-haired boy entered
the room.

“How do you feel, father?” asked the boy, with a glance of sympathy
toward his suffering parent.

“No better, Harold. It is very trying to be tied hand and foot by pain
when I ought to be at work.”

“If your father would worry less,” said Mrs. Kent, a pleasant-looking
woman, somewhat younger than her husband, “he would be more likely to
get well.”

“How can I help worrying, Clara? We are barely able to live when I can
work. Now, with only Harold’s wages coming in, it is difficult to tell
how we shall come out. Did you ask Mr. Little if he would raise you,
Harold?”

“Yes, father; but he only shook his head, and told me he could get
plenty of boys at the wages he paid me, and perhaps for less.”

“Yet he is rich,” said Mr. Kent, bitterly. “He and his can live on the
fat of the land.”

“Has he a son?” asked Mrs. Kent.

“Yes, mother. He has one son–Loammi.”

“Do you know him?”

“Yes, a little.”

“What sort of a boy is he?”

“He is the most disagreeable boy I ever met When he comes to the store
he struts through it as if he were a prince.”

“His father was poor enough in the old country.”

“He is rich now.”

“If I were rich now, I would only be too glad to help those who were
less fortunate than myself. I had one friend in England, an artist, like
myself, John Walton, who would have done the same. I wish he were in
Ezra Little’s place.”

“Did he have a son named Scott.”

“I think it probable. He married a Scott.”

“Then he may be in New York. I have heard that there was a boy named
Scott Walton in the store a year since.”

“That must be his son,” said Mr. Kent, eagerly. “Is he in the store
now?”

“No. I understand that he and Loammi could not get along together, and
he was discharged. But I was told that his father was dead.”

“Poor Walton! I am sorry to hear it. It seems to me that it is those who
best deserve to live who are summoned first.”

“Harold,” said his mother, “will you go to the grocery at the corner and
get a quarter of a pound of tea and half a pound of butter?”

“Yes, mother, but–shall I pay for them?”

“Ask Mr. Muller to trust us till Saturday night, when you get your
week’s salary.”

Harold took his hat and went downstairs.

The grocery store was kept by a stout, good natured German named Muller.
It was a small place, but Herr Muller did a thriving trade.

Harold entered the store and preferred his request.

“And how is your poor father, Harold?” asked the grocer.

“He is in a good deal of pain from rheumatism, Mr. Muller.”

“That is too bad. And how is business with him?”

“Very poor,” answered Harold, soberly.

“That is bad. How much does he charge now for a portrait?”

“Ten dollars.”

“I have been thinking I might get him to paint me. In a month, my wife
and I will be twenty-five years married. That is what they call a silver
wedding. Gretchen wants to have my portrait to show our friends on that
occasion.”

“My father will be very glad to paint it, Mr. Muller.”

“But he can’t work now.”

“He will soon be able, I am sure.”

“Well, if he can do it in time. We wouldn’t like to be disappointed.”

“I am sure he will do his best.”

Harold carried home the welcome intelligence to his father. It made Mr.
Kent somewhat more cheerful.

Ten dollars would help him not a little, though the time had been when
he received seventy-five dollars for a portrait no better than he
produced now for ten.

“Now, father, you must get well as soon as you can,” said Harold.

“Ah, no need to say that.”

“I am afraid your father will only worry the more if he finds that he
is not soon in a condition to work.”

“It seems so little to make a portrait for ten dollars,” added Mrs.
Kent.

“I should only be too glad if I could get all the work I could do at
that price.”

The new order somewhat cheered the poor artist. Once, in his early days,
he was ambitious, and hoped for a reputation; but long since his
ambitions had faded, and he was content and glad to work for a bare
livelihood.

Even now, he would not have succeeded but for the small help his son was
able to give him. Three dollars a week in many an unfortunate household
in the metropolis plays an important part in the finances of a poor
family.

But a new trial was in store for the Kent family. The next day, just
before the store closed, Loammi visited it.

He wanted to ask a favor of his father, and as he walked through the
store he looked about him with the air of a prince of the blood royal.
It happened that as he passed along he managed to drop his handkerchief.
Instead of picking it up himself, he signaled to Harold Kent to do it.

“Pick up my handkerchief, boy!” he said, in a lofty tone.

“I can’t leave my place behind the counter.”

“Pick it up, I say!” said Loammi, stamping his foot.

“That is not what I am hired to do,” retorted Harold, indignant at the
other’s tone.

“What is your name?”

“Harold Kent.”

“I won’t forget it,” said Loammi, significantly.

When, on Saturday night, Harold was paid his weekly wages he was told
that he need not report for duty on Monday morning.

“Why is this?” asked Harold, in dismay.

“Loammi has complained of you,” he was told.

It was too late to appeal to the superintendent, and Harold left the
store, grief-stricken and discouraged.

Walking along Eighth Avenue, Scott Walton saw a boy coming out of Ezra
Little’s store with sad face and eyes red as with weeping. The boy was
poorly dressed, and Scott’s experience of poverty had been so recent
that he felt quick sympathy.

“Are you in trouble? Can I assist you?” he asked, kindly.

Harold turned to see who was addressing him.

“I have just lost my place,” he said, briefly.

“Were you working for Mr. Little?”

“Yes.”

“How did you lose your place? Tell me, if you don’t mind.”

“I offended Mr. Little’s son, Loammi. He got me discharged.”

“I am not surprised to hear it. Loammi got me discharged some months
ago.”

“You!” exclaimed Harold, in surprise, for he noticed that Scott was
handsomely dressed.

“Yes.”

“But you are not a poor boy. You do not mind it.”

“I was a poor boy then. How much salary did you receive?”

“Three dollars a week.”

“I think I can promise you five dollars a week with another firm.”

“Can you?” asked Harold, overjoyed. “But how can you? You are only a
boy.”

Scott smiled.

“I have some influence with the firm of Tower, Douglas & Co. I think
they will take you on at my request. But where do you live, and what is
your name?”

“I live at 940 Bleecker Street, and my name is Harold Kent.”

“You are not related to Robert Kent?” said Scott, in excitement.

“He is my father.”

“He is an Englishman, is he not?”

“Yes; do you know him?”

“Not yet, but I mean to. If you are going home, take me with you.”

“I shall be glad to do so, but may I ask your name?”

“My name is Scott Walton. Our fathers were friends, and I will be your
father’s friend.”

“I have heard my father speak of your family. He will be delighted to
see you–and is your father living?”

“No; father is dead. I judge that you are poor.”

“Yes, very poor. My father is an artist, but he has very little to do.
Lately he has taken to portrait painting, but he only gets ten dollars
for a portrait. Now he is sick with rheumatism and cannot work.”

“Cheer up, Harold! Better times are in store for you. I am prosperous,
and my father commissioned me to seek you out and help you.”

Scott followed Harold up into the poor apartment occupied by his father.
As he entered the room, Mr. Kent looked in surprise at his companion.
“Is this one of your fellow clerks, Harold?” he asked.

“No, father. I have been discharged from Mr. Little’s store, and I have
no fellow clerks.”

Mr. Kent’s countenance fell.

“Then we have no income,” he said, sadly. “It only needed this blow. Why
were you discharged?”

“It was on account of Loammi Little, but don’t be troubled, father. I
am to have a better place, at five dollars a week.”

“Who will give it to you?”

“I will see that he has such a place, Mr. Kent,” said Scott.

“But–why should you feel an interest in my poor boy?”

“Because my name is Scott Walton, and you were a friend of my poor
father.”

“Not John Walton’s son?”

“Yes; I have been looking for you for a month. This evening fortune
threw your son in my way. He tells me that you have been unfortunate.”

“I am sick and out of work, but you–you look prosperous.”

“I am.”

“Did your father leave property?”

“No, but I have met with good friends.”

“Has Ezra Little treated you better than he has Harold?”

“Ezra Little took me into his store, and after a few week discharged me,
as a result of Loammi’s meanness and falsehood. I met with other
friends, secured another situation, and I am able to help you, Mr. Kent.
I want you to find better rooms.”

“But I cannot pay the rent of these.”

Scott drew out his pocketbook and selected five ten-dollar bills.

“Take this,” he said, “and when you have moved I will see what more I
can do for you.”

“Fifty dollars!” ejaculated the artist, in amazement. “Can you afford
this?”

“Easily. I will tell you later how I have prospered.”

“Won’t you stop and eat supper with us, Mr. Walton?” asked Mrs. Kent.

“Gladly, if you will call me Scott. I want to ask Mr. Kent about his
early acquaintance with my poor father.”

The evening was spent in social chat, and it was ten o’clock before
Scott left his new friends.

“I shall expect to see you on Monday morning at the store, Harold,” he
said, as he went away.

Continue Reading

INVENTION

Four days later, Scott received the following note:

“DEAR SCOTT: I am at the Windsor Hotel. Can you call this evening?
WINDERMERE.”

Scott lost no time in responding to the invitation. He was greeted with
the greatest cordiality.

“I am delighted to see you,” said the earl. “I missed you more than I
anticipated after you left me. Now I have a favor to ask.”

“What is it?” asked Scott.

“I have taken a suite of rooms here, and I have set aside a bedroom for
you. I shall be in the city for four weeks, and I want you with me.”

“I am afraid you have forgotten that I am only a boy working for my
living.”

“No; I don’t forget it. I respect you more for it. In fact, Scott, I
want your company. Will you come?”

“Thank you, Mr. Grant–I can’t refuse. I seem to forget that you are an
earl.”

“That is what I wish.”

Just then there was a knock at the door, and a hall boy entered with a
card.

The person whose name it bore came up directly afterward.

He brought a dinner invitation from a well-known social club. The earl
good-naturedly accepted.

The visitor regarded Scott inquiringly.

“Is this young gentleman one of your party, my lord?” he asked.

“Yes, sir. It is my young friend, Mr. Scott Walton.”

“Then I am authorized to include him in the invitation.”

Scott looked at the earl inquiringly.

“I accept for him,” said the earl, promptly.

He smiled when his visitor left the room.

“You are in for it, Scott,” he said. “I advise you to order a dress suit
at once, if you are not provided with one.”

“Won’t the club think they are imposed upon when they find that I am
only a humble business boy?”

“You are not invited on that ground, but as my intimate friend.”

“Then, Mr. Grant, I will throw the whole responsibility upon you,” said
Scott, smiling.

“I will accept it. How will it do for me to dub you Sir Scott Walton?”

“It might embarrass me in my business.”

“True. Then you shall be plain Mr. Walton. Mind that you get a handsome
suit. It will be expected, as you belong to my party.”

One of the leading New York dailies, a few days later, in describing the
dinner, after giving the earl’s modest little speech, continued thus:
“The earl was accompanied by a handsome young gentleman, Mr. Scott
Walton, who is understood to be a near relative. Mr. Walton was called
upon for a speech, but modestly declined.”

When Ezra Little read this paragraph, he was immensely surprised.

“Read that, Loammi,” he said.

“What a humbug that boy is!” said Loammi, much disgusted.

“Humbug or not, he has got into the best society and his success
reflects credit upon us, his cousins.”

“The idea of his palming himself off as a relative of the earl!”

“Perhaps he didn’t. It was probably a conjecture of the reporter.”

“I don’t believe it. I feel sure Scott put him up to it. I’d like to
tell him it is all a mistake.”

“I won’t allow you to do anything of the sort. As the matter stands, it
may lead to the supposition that we also are related to the earl.”

This seemed such a clever idea that Ezra determined to act upon it.

When one of his business acquaintances inquired whether Scott was really
a connection of the earl’s, he answered: “He is related to me, and there
may also be a distant relationship to the earl. Probably the earl
authorized the statement.”

“Why don’t you invite the earl to dinner?”

“Egad, I will!” exclaimed the merchant.

The next day Scott received the following note from Mr. Little:

“DEAR SCOTT: Can you induce your friend, the earl, to accept an
invitation to dinner at our house any day next week? It would give
me great pleasure, as an Englishman born, to pay some attention to
so distinguished a representative of my native country. The choice
of the day rests entirely with the earl. We shall be only too glad
to receive him at any time.

“Sincerely, your cousin, EZRA LITTLE.”

Scott showed this letter to the earl.

The earl smiled.

“I am glad,” he said, “that I have been the means of so cordially
uniting your cousin and yourself. Of course, I know that I am only
invited as your friend.”

Scott laughed.

“That didn’t occur to me,” he said.

“But as to accepting the invitation,” continued the earl, “I am afraid I
cannot. Should I accept Mr. Little’s invitation, I should be overwhelmed
by similar invitations from other parties.”

“He will be terribly disappointed.”

“I can partially make it up to him. I will secure a box at one of the
theatres for some evening next week, and invite your uncle’s family to
join our party. That will involve no embarrassment.”

“I am sure Cousin Ezra will be delighted to accept.”

“Then I will make out an invitation which I will send by you. I will
also invite Mr. Tower, your senior employer, as it may help you with
him.”

“It will, I am sure.”

When Scott called at his uncle’s house, Ezra inquired, eagerly: “Did you
receive my note?”

“Yes, Cousin Ezra.”

“Will the earl accept my invitation?”

“He would be glad to do so, but it would bring upon him so many others
that it would prove embarrassing.”

Mr. Little’s face fell.

“Can’t you influence him to accept?” he asked, with a degree of
deference that was new to Scott.

“No, but he sends you an invitation.”

Scott put in Mr. Little’s hands this missive:

“The Earl of Windermere will be glad to have Mr. Ezra Little and
family join him at the Star Theatre next Wednesday evening to see
Henry Irving in ‘Hamlet.’

“R. S. V. P.”

“Tell the earl I shall be delighted, and so will Mrs. Little and
Loammi,” said the gratified merchant.

“I think, Cousin Ezra, etiquette requires a written acceptance.”

“Tell me what to write, and I will copy it.”

Scott did so, and succeeded in toning down the exuberant terms in which
Mr. Little was at first inclined to couch his acceptance.

Mr. Tower, though a more sensible man, was undeniably flattered by the
invitation which Scott brought him. The earl had called at the store, so
that the invitation was _en r├Ęgle_.

“Really, Scott,” he said, “I shall feel obliged to raise your pay,
since, in addition to your services here, you are introducing me into
such distinguished society.”

“I have no objection to that, Mr. Tower,” said Scott, smiling.

“And you are really the guest of the earl at the Windsor Hotel? It is
most extraordinary.”

“I hope, Mr. Tower, you will appreciate me as much as the earl does.”

“I do already, Scott, but for business reasons.”

Mr. Little sent for reporters on two of the daily papers, and managed to
have his presence in the earl’s box prominently mentioned. Loammi was
immensely gratified, and contrived to make himself conspicuous, while
Scott modestly withdrew into the background.

Seth Lawton happened to reach New York on the morning following the
theatre party. He read in amazement the paragraph which served to
indicate the intimacy of his relatives with the earl.

“My young cousin is getting on,” he said. “Well, he deserves it.”

Mr. Lawton himself was modest, and was considerably surprised when
Scott brought him a cordial invitation to dine at the Windsor with the
earl.

“I don’t know, Scott,” he said. “I am an old-fashioned fellow. I am not
used to stylish company.”

“The earl will like you all the better on that account.”

Scott was right. The Earl of Windermere could see the sterling gold in
Cousin Seth’s character, and treated him with a cordiality that pleased
the old man.

“I never thought I should like an earl,” he said afterward to Scott,
“but your friend is a trump. He ought to be an American citizen.”

Ezra Little was rather disgusted when he heard that Seth Lawton had been
the earl’s guest.

“You ought to have prevented it, Scott,” he said. “What will the earl
think of us when such a homely old fellow is introduced as a cousin?”

“Cousin Seth and the earl are great friends,” replied Scott.

“Humph! I suppose he felt obliged to be polite to him. Seth is a mere
clodhopper.”

He would have been surprised to learn that the earl rated the
“clodhopper” higher than himself.

From this time forth Ezra Little began to pay more attention to his poor
relation. Scott’s social and business success had surprised him. He was
compelled, though reluctantly, to consider him a young man of promise.

He had no idea, however, how successful Scott was, and would have been
very much amazed to learn the extent of his income.

One result, however, was to excite the jealousy of Loammi. He found that
Scott dressed better than himself and had more command of money.
Accordingly, he applied to his father for an increased allowance.

“What do you want more money for, Loammi?” asked his father, in a tone
far from encouraging. “Don’t you get a dollar a week?”

“What can I do with a dollar a week, pa?”

“It was more than I received at your age.”

“You were a poor boy, while I am the son of a rich man.”

“Ahem! not exactly rich, Loammi,” said Ezra Little, complacently.

“Everybody calls you rich, pa.”

“I have some money,” admitted Mr. Little, cautiously, “but it is only by
great care that I am moderately well off.”

“Scott dresses better than I, and always has money in his pocket.”

“He is very foolish to spend all his spare money on clothes. By the time
he is twenty-one he won’t have a cent laid up.”

“At any rate, he has plenty of cash now. The fact is, pa, people are
beginning to notice that he dresses better than I. Percy Shelton was
walking with me the other day when we met Scott. ‘I thought your cousin
was poor,’ he said. ‘He only has his wages to depend upon,’ I said.
‘Then he must be pretty well paid,’ he replied. ‘I saw him at Patti’s
concert Tuesday night, occupying a three-dollar seat.’ That made me feel
awfully mean, for you wouldn’t let me go to hear Patti.”

“No; it would be throwing money away.”

“All the fashionable people go. People that know you are rich think it
strange not to see me there.”

This argument had some effect on Mr. Little, who was anxious that his
son should be admitted into fashionable society, but was too close to
supply him with the necessary means.

“How much do you want, Loammi?” he asked, cautiously.

“Percy Shelton gets five dollars a week.”

“Well, you won’t,” said his father, sharply. “You must think that I am
made of money.”

“I will try to make it do with four, pa.”

“You won’t get that either. I will give you two dollars a week, and that
ought to be enough to satisfy you.”

Loammi was not satisfied, but did not think it prudent to say any more
just then.

There was one more concert by Patti, and he had hoped to attend. Indeed,
he had told Percy that he expected to do so. He might, indeed, have
bought a dollar ticket, but he was ashamed to be seen occupying a cheap
seat.

Loammi had not much taste for music, and cared chiefly to attend the
concert because most of his fashionable friends would be there.

In this dilemma he received unexpected assistance.

He met Scott one evening near the Fifth Avenue Hotel. His poor cousin
was handsomely dressed, and looked to be on good terms with the world,
as indeed he was.

“Good-evening, Loammi,” he said.

“Good-evening, Scott. Are you still working for Tower, Douglas & Co.?”

“Oh, yes.”

“Do they pay you well?”

“I am quite satisfied.”

“How much do you get?”

“I would rather not tell.”

“Percy Shelton told me he saw you at Patti’s concert Tuesday evening.”

“Yes, I was there.”

“The tickets are rather high, ain’t they?”

“I paid three dollars for mine.”

“I want to go ever so much; but pa, though he is rolling in wealth,
keeps me very close. How much do you think I get for my weekly
allowance?”

“I couldn’t guess.”

“Only two dollars.”

“But you have nothing to pay for board or clothes.”

“That is true; but of course I can’t go to hear Patti.”

“Do you really want to go?”

“Of course I do. All my friends have attended.”

“Then I will invite you to accompany me to-morrow evening.”

“On three-dollar tickets?”

“Yes.”

“You’re a good fellow, Scott,” said Loammi, overjoyed. “I always said
so.”

Scott smiled. He did not feel quite certain about that, but forbore to
remind Loammi of certain recent experiences.

“When will you buy the tickets?”

“We will go now if you have time.”

“All right.”

Two days afterward Loammi fell in with Percy Shelton.

“I saw you at the concert last evening,” said his friend.

“Yes.”

“Was that your cousin with you?”

“Yes; I thought he would like to go.”

“That was very kind of you,” said Percy, who naturally concluded that
Scott went by Loammi’s invitation.

“Scott must get a good salary,” thought Loammi. “I wonder how much he is
paid.”

But Scott preferred to keep this to himself. He knew that if Loammi
were told, he would have frequent occasion to borrow, and he felt that
it would be prudent in him to lay by a portion of his earnings.

It will be remembered that his friend, Justin Wood, had bought for him
an interest in the invention of Mr. Babcock, advancing the inventor a
sum of money, which put him on his feet.

Scott had not forgotten this, but forbore to look up Mr. Babcock, not
having quite so much confidence in his success as the inventor himself.

One evening, however, as he was preparing to go out to walk, he met
Babcock coming upstairs.

“Good-evening, Mr. Babcock,” he said; “I am glad to see you.”

“You were going out?” asked the inventor.

“Only for a walk. I shall be better pleased to receive a visit from
you.”

“Then I will accept your invitation. I thought you would look me up.”

“I was afraid I might interfere with you. I presume you are busy.”

“Yes, very busy, I am glad to say. And how is your friend, Mr. Wood?”

“At present he is out of the city.”

“I should like to see him to thank him for his timely aid.”

“Then it has been of service to you?”

“I should say so. I am succeeding beyond my anticipations.”

“I am glad to hear that,” said Scott, cordially.

“You have reason to be. Are you not my partner?”

“I believe I do own an interest in your discovery,” said Scott, smiling.

“I see you do not attach much importance to it. You have not considered
what your profits will amount to.”

“No, Mr. Babcock, I have not thought of that at all. I only hoped that
it would give you a fair living.”

“It will do more. In fact, I have come to see you on business to-night.
The parties who are manufacturing my window fastener have made me an
offer for it. As you hold a one-third interest, I cannot accept without
consulting you.”

“How much do they offer, Mr. Babcock?”

Scott thought the sum might be a thousand dollars, and was very much
surprised when the inventor answered: “Fifteen thousand dollars!”

“Is it possible?” he ejaculated.

“I thought you would be surprised. But it is true. That would give you
five thousand dollars.”

“I don’t see how so small an article can pay so well.”

“It is the small inventions that pay best. What do you say?”

“I want to consult your interest in the matter, Mr. Babcock. This would
give you ten thousand dollars, to be sure, but it would throw you out of
work.”

“No. They engage me as superintendent of the manufactory at a salary of
a hundred dollars per month.”

“That is very good. In that case, if you think it wise to sell, I will
agree.”

“Then you can come to-morrow to see them, and conclude the bargain?”

“I shall be occupied, but I am sure my employers will give me leave of
absence when I tell them the cause. But I don’t think I ought to receive
so large a sum as five thousand dollars. It was you who made the
discovery.”

“True, but I never should have reaped any benefit from it if you had not
introduced me to your friend, Mr. Wood.”

The next day the sale was made, and Scott found himself enriched by
five thousand dollars. It seemed to him almost like a dream, from which
he was afraid that he might awake.

“What would Mr. Little say if he knew?” thought Scott. “He did me a
great favor when he discharged me from his store under a cloud.”

Continue Reading