Conjo in Control

The great beast that had plunged into the tunnel suddenly stopped
roaring, shook the gravel and dirt from his mane and back, and said
calmly:

“I’m surprised at you, Shaggy Man! What do you mean by digging holes
in Ozma’s garden and leaving them open for unsuspecting folks to fall
into? I might very easily have broken a leg or fractured a paw.”

The Shaggy Man was grinning broadly. “Ten to one you were running
away from something in an effort to work up your well-known, but
careful courage to the point of fighting.”

The huge lion looked down at the ground in embarrassment.

“You seem to know this great beast,” said the beaver King, who had been
regarding the sudden entrant into the tunnel with intense curiosity.

“Indeed, I do!” replied the Shaggy Man. “He’s an old friend of mine and
quite harmless–if he is your friend. For this, you see, is the famous
Cowardly Lion of Oz.”

Twink and Tom had been staring with fascination at the huge lion. It
was the first time they had ever come face to face with so great a
beast, and although they had read so much about the famous Cowardly
Lion of Oz that they recognized him, he had looked so fierce when he
had fallen into the tunnel that they would surely have been frightened
had it not been for Shaggy’s reassuring words.

“I don’t know what this is all about, Shaggy,” sighed the lion. “I was
told Ozma had sent you out of the country on an errand for her, and now
you turn up in a hole in her garden with a group of strange people and
animals.”

“It can all be explained,” soothed the Shaggy Man. “Meanwhile do you
think you can help us out of here?”

“Of course,” replied the Cowardly Lion, “any friends of yours are
friends of mine. Just climb on my back and you will have no difficulty
in pulling yourselves to level ground. Those little animals don’t bite,
do they?” The great lion looked anxiously at the beaver’s sharp teeth.
With a laugh Shaggy assured him he had nothing to fear.

The beavers and their King went first, followed by Twink and Tom, who
found the lion’s coat to be delightfully thick and soft, and finally by
Twiffle and the Shaggy Man.

The Cowardly Lion leaped from the tunnel and surveyed Shaggy and his
friends. “Children, animals, and a wooden clown–all popping up from
what I now perceive is the Nome King’s tunnel and not just a hole in
the ground as I thought when I first tumbled into it. Tell me, Shaggy,
have you had trouble with the Nome King again?”

Shaggy started to relate his adventures, but after a few words the
Cowardly Lion interrupted him. “That can wait, you can tell me all
about it later. The important thing is that you are here safely and–I
almost forgot–there is plenty going on here!”

“What do you mean?” asked the Shaggy Man.

“Well, to tell the truth, I was running because I was frightened. Then
the ground gave way beneath me and I fell into the tunnel.”

“But why were you frightened?” persisted the Shaggy Man.

“Something is going on in the Royal Palace that I don’t understand.
The Wizard is very excited. He claims someone has stolen his Black Bag
of Magic Tools and locked the door of the tower that leads to his magic
workshop so he can’t get in. I overheard him telling Dorothy about it
and they both seemed very upset. I decided I had better hide somewhere
until I had gathered enough courage to lead an attack on the enemy.”

The Shaggy Man smiled to himself. “You come with us,” he said to the
Lion. “First, I want you to meet my friends, Twink, Tom, Twiffle, and
the King of the Fairy Beavers. Then we must find the Wizard and Dorothy
and see what this is all about.”

The Cowardly Lion acknowledged the introduction so cordially that Twink
and Tom felt as if they had been friends for years.

They all walked through the beautiful gardens of Ozma’s Royal Palace
until they came to a large French door leading into a study. Here, by a
stroke of good luck, they found Princess Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz,
deep in conversation.

Dorothy and the Wizard looked up in amazement as Shaggy and his
strangely assorted band of followers trailed into the study.
Introductions were made again, and this time Twink and Tom were very
nearly tongue-tied as they realized they were actually in the company
of a real Princess of the Fairyland of Oz, and the one and only Wizard
of Oz. But Dorothy was so friendly and sweet that the little boy and
girl felt quite at ease almost at once.

Shaggy told his story as briefly as possible, and then asked the Wizard
for an explanation of what had been happening in the Palace.

“I wish I could tell you more definitely,” said the Wizard ruefully.
“But I am as mystified as anyone. Here is all I know: I had ordered the
Royal Stables to have the Sawhorse saddled so that I might ride him
to the College of Natural History, where I wished to consult some of
the books written by Professor Wogglebug. I had placed on the ground
my Black Bag of Magic Tools which I needed for some experiments I
planned to make at the College. I was about to mount the Sawhorse and
pick up the bag when suddenly from out of nowhere, a wild-eyed little
man appeared. He gave me one stare, picked up my Black Bag, and dashed
into the Palace. I was so startled that it was several moments before
I called to him to stop. Then I went dashing into the Palace after
him. But the little man was nowhere to be seen. I hurried to Dorothy’s
rooms and she accompanied me to the throne room. Just as we entered the
throne room, the little man whisked past us and was up the tower stairs
that lead to my magic workroom.”

“Did he have the Black Bag then?” asked Shaggy.

“No, that’s the strange part of it, he did not,” replied the Wizard.
“He locked the tower door securely after him, so Dorothy and I couldn’t
follow. We have searched everywhere, but there just is not a single
trace of the Black Bag.”

Twink and Tom listened, spellbound by the Wizard’s story. Here they
were–not only in the Emerald City of Oz, but in the midst of an
adventure that excited even the famous Wizard of Oz!

“I just can’t understand it,” said the Wizard rubbing his bald head in
perplexity.

“Well, can’t we break down the door to the tower?” asked Dorothy.

“Perhaps we could, but there are six other doors after that one before
my magic workroom can be reached. And all are protected by my own
magic!” groaned the Wizard.

“Are there no other magic tools that can be used?” inquired Shaggy.

“None,” said the Wizard despondently. “Ozma took Dorothy’s Magic Belt
with her when she went to visit Glinda, so we are helpless for the
moment.”

Twiffle had been listening with great interest. Now he said: “Tell
me, was the little man who suddenly appeared quite fat and bald save
for a fringe of white hair? And did he have blue eyes and a sort of
cherry-like nose?”

“Why, yes, that describes him quite well, from the glimpse I had of
him,” said the Wizard thoughtfully.

“I think,” Twiffle went on quietly, “that if you had had the
opportunity to observe him more closely, you would have seen that he
wore on his wrist Ozma’s Magic Compass!”

“Conjo!” exclaimed the Shaggy Man. “Of course that’s who it is. He used
Ozma’s Magic Compass to bring him to the Emerald City and then started
his mischief!”

“I wonder what he wants–what his purpose is in hiding my Black Bag and
then locking himself in the tower?” mused the Wizard.

“Perhaps,” said Dorothy, “it would be a good thing if Twiffle told us
all he knows about this Conjo, since he seems to be better acquainted
with him than anyone else is.”

“A good idea,” agreed the Wizard, and they all turned to Twiffle.

The little clown recounted his life with Conjo, telling all he could
remember from the time when Conjo brought him to life to his escape
with Shaggy and Twink and Tom in the Airmobile.

The Wizard considered. “Apparently the only really bad thing Conjo
has done is to take these children out of their home and plan to make
them prisoners. Outside of that he has been merely selfish, lazy, and
foolishly vain. Perhaps if we tried to talk with him, we could prove
the folly of his latest actions. He must know that as soon as Ozma
returns he will be helpless before her fairy powers.”

The Wizard led the way to Ozma’s Grand Throne Room, on one side of
which was the door that led to the tower and Magic Workroom. The young
beavers and their King hurried along after the Wizard and Shaggy and
the rest.

“Perhaps Conjo would listen to you,” the Wizard suggested to Twiffle,
“if you asked him to come out and talk with us.”

Twiffle walked to the tower door, knocked as loudly as he could on it,
and said: “Come out, Conjo. It is foolish of you to hide away in there.
These people want to talk with you and try to be your friends.”

Everyone waited with hushed breath. Had Conjo heard? Would he come out?

After a few moments the door opened a crack, then slowly farther and
farther, until Conjo stood revealed in the doorway. The little man was
quivering with excitement.

“Yes,” Conjo said with what was meant to be a smile, “I will talk to
you. But don’t any one of you come one step nearer this door. If you
do, I will transform you all into door-mats and jumping-jacks.”

“What do you want?” asked the Wizard quietly. “Why have you hidden my
Black Bag of Magic Tools and shut me off from my Magic Workroom?”

“You should be able to figure that out,” replied Conjo. “I had to do
that to render you helpless. Without your magic you are powerless to
defend yourselves. I now have at my command all of your magic as well
as my own. So, I rather think you will be glad enough to do as I say.”

“And just what is that?” asked the Wizard.

“From now on,” said Conjo, “_I_ am the Wizard of Oz, and _you_,” Conjo
pointed to the Wizard, “are my assistant!”

Dorothy gasped at the audacity of the little man, while the Shaggy Man
laughed aloud. The Wizard could only whisper unbelievingly: “_You_ want
to be _me_?”

“No,” said Conjo, who seemed relaxed now and enjoying the consternation
he had created, “I want to be the _Wizard of Oz_–it’s only a title
you know, and I deserve it just as much as you. I’m tired of being a
wizard nobody knows about. Now I have all your magic so who is there
to say I am not the Wizard of Oz? Ho, ho, ho–ha, ha, he, he, he!” The
little man seemed vastly amused.

“Ozma will have something to say about this,” said Dorothy indignantly.
“If you think she’ll let you come in here and steal all the Wizard’s
magic and then try to steal his name on top of all that you’re very
badly mistaken.”

“I’ll take care of Ozma when the time comes. After all, she’s only a
girl,” said Conjo easily. “And now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go
up and study the Wizard’s magic. Please set a place for me at dinner, I
shall be quite hungry. And don’t bother to look for the Wizard’s Black
Bag. You’ll never find it. Ha, ha, ha, ho, ho, he, he, he!”

Conjo was about to close the door, when the King of the Fairy Beavers
raised his beechwood wand. From the tip of it came a stream of water
that played directly on Conjo’s face. Conjo gasped and sputtered,
opened his mouth to cry out, and the stream of water filled his mouth.
He choked and swallowed a large amount of the water. Immediately the
stream ceased flowing from the beaver King’s wand.

Conjo stared at them all with innocent wonder in his eyes.

“Where am I?” he said.

You may also like