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Chapter 4 Conspirators

  • Kiki Aru didn't know much about Oz and didn't know much about the beasts wh_ived there, but the old Nome's plan seemed to him to be quite reasonable. H_ad a faint suspicion that Ruggedo meant to get the best of him in some way,
  • and he resolved to keep a close watch on his fellow-conspirator. As long as h_ept to himself the secret word of the transformations, Ruggedo would not dar_o harm him, and he promised himself that as soon as they had conquered Oz, h_ould transform the old Nome into a marble statue and keep him in that for_orever.
  • Ruggedo, on his part, decided that he could, by careful watching an_istening, surprise the boy's secret, and when he had learned the magic wor_e would transform Kiki Aru into a bundle of faggots and burn him up and so b_id of him.
  • This is always the way with wicked people. They cannot be trusted even by on_nother. Ruggedo thought he was fooling Kiki, and Kiki thought he was foolin_uggedo; so both were pleased.
  • "It's a long way across the Desert," remarked the boy, "and the sands are ho_nd send up poisonous vapors. Let us wait until evening and then fly across i_he night when it will be cooler."
  • The former Nome King agreed to this, and the two spent the rest of that day i_alking over their plans. When evening came they paid the inn-keeper an_alked out to a little grove of trees that stood near by.
  • "Remain here for a few minutes and I'll soon be back," said Kiki, and walkin_wiftly away, he left the Nome standing in the grove. Ruggedo wondered wher_e had gone, but stood quietly in his place until, all of a sudden, his for_hanged to that of a great eagle, and he uttered a piercing cry o_stonishment and flapped his wings in a sort of panic. At once his eagle cr_as answered from beyond the grove, and another eagle, even larger and mor_owerful than the transformed Ruggedo, came sailing through the trees an_lighted beside him.
  • "Now we are ready for the start," said the voice of Kiki, coming from th_agle.
  • Ruggedo realized that this time he had been outwitted. He had thought Kik_ould utter the magic word in his presence, and so he would learn what it was,
  • but the boy had been too shrewd for that.
  • As the two eagles mounted high into the air and began their flight across th_reat Desert that separates the Land of Oz from all the rest of the world, th_ome said:
  • "When I was King of the Nomes I had a magic way of working transformation_hat I thought was good, but it could not compare with your secret word. I ha_o have certain tools and make passes and say a lot of mystic words before _ould transform anybody."
  • "What became of your magic tools?" inquired Kiki.
  • "The Oz people took them all away from me—that horrid girl, Dorothy, and tha_errible fairy, Ozma, the Ruler of Oz—at the time they took away m_nderground kingdom and kicked me upstairs into the cold, heartless world."
  • "Why did you let them do that?" asked the boy.
  • "Well," said Ruggedo, "I couldn't help it. They rolled eggs a_e—EGGS—dreadful eggs!—and if an egg even touches a Nome, he is ruined fo_ife."
  • "Is any kind of an egg dangerous to a Nome?"
  • "Any kind and every kind. An egg is the only thing I'm afraid of."