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Chapter 10 The Famous Fellowship of Fairies

  • After a short walk through very beautiful gardens they came to the castle an_ollowed Tubekins through the entrance and into a great domed chamber, wher_e commanded them to be seated.
  • From the crown which he wore, Betsy had thought this man must be the King o_he country they were in, yet after he had seated all the strangers upo_enches that were ranged in a semicircle before a high throne, Tubekins bowe_umbly before the vacant throne and in a flash became invisible an_isappeared.
  • The hall was an immense place, but there seemed to be no one in it besid_hemselves. Presently, however, they heard a low cough near them, and here an_here was the faint rustling of a robe and a slight patter as of footsteps.
  • Then suddenly there rang out the clear tone of a bell and at the sound all wa_hanged.
  • Gazing around the hall in bewilderment they saw that it was filled wit_undreds of men and women, all with beautiful faces and staring blue eyes an_ll wearing scarlet robes and jeweled crowns upon their heads. In fact, thes_eople seemed exact duplicates of Tubekins and it was difficult to find an_ark by which to tell them apart.
  • "My! what a lot of Kings and Queens!" whispered Betsy to Polychrome, who sa_eside her and appeared much interested in the scene but not a bit worried.
  • "It is certainly a strange sight," was Polychrome's reply; "but I cannot se_ow there can be more than one King, or Queen, in any one country, for wer_hese all rulers, no one could tell who was Master."
  • One of the Kings who stood near and overheard this remark turned to her an_aid: "One who is Master of himself is always a King, if only to himself. I_his favored land all Kings and Queens are equal, and it is our privilege t_ow before one supreme Ruler—the Private Citizen."
  • "Who's he?" inquired Betsy.
  • As if to answer her, the clear tones of the bell again rang out and instantl_here appeared seated in the throne the man who was lord and master of al_hese royal ones. This fact was evident when with one accord they fell upo_heir knees and touched their foreheads to the floor.
  • The Private Citizen was not unlike the others, except that his eyes were blac_nstead of blue and in the centers of the black irises glowed red sparks tha_eemed like coals of fire. But his features were very beautiful and dignifie_nd his manner composed and stately. Instead of the prevalent scarlet robe, h_ore one of white, and the same dragon's head that decorated the others wa_mbroidered upon its bosom.
  • "What charge lies against these people, Tubekins?" he asked in quiet, eve_ones.
  • "They came through the forbidden Tube, O Mighty Citizen," was the reply.
  • "You see, it was this way," said Betsy. "We were marching to the Nome King, t_onquer him and set Shaggy's brother free, when on a sudden—"
  • "Who are you?" demanded the Private Citizen sternly.
  • "Me? Oh, I'm Betsy Bobbin, and—"
  • "Who is the leader of this party?" asked the Citizen.
  • "Sir, I am Queen Ann of Oogaboo, and—"
  • "Then keep quiet," said the Citizen. "Who is the leader?"
  • No one answered for a moment. Then General Bunn stood up.
  • "Sit down!" commanded the Citizen. "I can see that sixteen of you are merel_fficers, and of no account."
  • "But we have an Army," said General Clock, blusteringly, for he didn't like t_e told he was of no account.
  • "Where is your Army?" asked the Citizen.
  • "It's me," said Tik-Tok, his voice sounding a little rusty. "I'm the on-l_ri-vate Sol-dier in the par-ty."
  • Hearing this, the Citizen rose and bowed respectfully to the Clockwork Man.
  • "Pardon me for not realizing your importance before," said he. "Will yo_blige me by taking a seat beside me on my throne?"
  • Tik-Tok rose and walked over to the throne, all the Kings and Queens makin_ay for him. Then with clanking steps he mounted the platform and sat on th_road seat beside the Citizen.
  • Ann was greatly provoked at this mark of favor shown to the humble Clockwor_an, but Shaggy seemed much pleased that his old friend's importance had bee_ecognized by the ruler of this remarkable country. The Citizen now began t_uestion Tik-Tok, who told in his mechanical voice about Shaggy's quest of hi_ost brother, and how Ozma of Oz had sent the Clockwork Man to assist him, an_ow they had fallen in with Queen Ann and her people from Oogaboo. Also h_old how Betsy and Hank and Polychrome and the Rose Princess had happened t_oin their party.
  • "And you intended to conquer Ruggedo, the Metal Monarch and King of th_omes?" asked the Citizen.
  • "Yes. That seemed the on-ly thing for us to do," was Tik-Tok's reply. "But h_as too cle-ver for us. When we got close to his cav-ern he made our path lea_o the Tube, and made the op-en-ing in-vis-i-ble, so that we all fell in-to i_e-fore we knew it was there. It was an eas-y way to get rid of us and no_ug-gedo is safe and we are far a-way in a strange land."
  • The Citizen was silent a moment and seemed to be thinking. Then he said:
  • "Most noble Private Soldier, I must inform you that by the laws of our countr_nyone who comes through the Forbidden Tube must be tortured for nine days an_en nights and then thrown back into the Tube. But it is wise to disregar_aws when they conflict with justice, and it seems that you and your follower_id not disobey our laws willingly, being forced into the Tube by Ruggedo.
  • Therefore the Nome King is alone to blame, and he alone must be punished."
  • "That suits me," said Tik-Tok. "But Rug-ge-do is on the o-ther side of th_orld where he is a-way out of your reach."
  • The Citizen drew himself up proudly.
  • "Do you imagine anything in the world or upon it can be out of the reach o_he Great Jinjin?" he asked.
  • "Oh! Are you, then, the Great Jinjin?" inquired Tik-Tok.
  • "I am."
  • "Then your name is Ti-ti-ti-Hoo-choo?"
  • "It is."
  • Queen Ann gave a scream and began to tremble. Shaggy was so disturbed that h_ook out a handkerchief and wiped the perspiration from his brow. Polychrom_ooked sober and uneasy for the first time, while Files put his arms aroun_he Rose Princess as if to protect her. As for the officers, the name of th_reat Jinjin set them moaning and weeping at a great rate and every one fel_pon his knees before the throne, begging for mercy. Betsy was worried a_eeing her companions so disturbed, but did not know what it was all about.
  • Only Tik-Tok was unmoved at the discovery.
  • "Then," said he, "if you are Ti-ti-ti-Hoo-choo, and think Rug-ge-do is t_lame, I am sure that some-thing queer will hap-pen to the King of the Nomes."
  • "I wonder what 'twill be," said Betsy.
  • The Private Citizen—otherwise known as Tititi-Hoochoo, the Great Jinjin—looke_t the little girl steadily.
  • "I will presently decide what is to happen to Ruggedo," said he in a hard, stern voice. Then, turning to the throng of Kings and Queens, he continued:
  • "Tik-Tok has spoken truly, for his machinery will not allow him to lie, no_ill it allow his thoughts to think falsely. Therefore these people are no_ur enemies and must be treated with consideration and justice. Take them t_our palaces and entertain them as guests until to-morrow, when I command tha_hey be brought again to my Residence. By then I shall have formed my plans."
  • No sooner had Tititi-Hoochoo spoken than he disappeared from sight.
  • Immediately after, most of the Kings and Queens likewise disappeared. Bu_everal of them remained visible and approached the strangers with grea_espect. One of the lovely Queens said to Betsy:
  • "I trust you will honor me by being my guest. I am Erma, Queen of Light."
  • "May Hank come with me?" asked the girl.
  • "The King of Animals will care for your mule," was the reply. "But do not fea_or him, for he will be treated royally. All of your party will be reunited o_he morrow."
  • "I—I'd like to have some one with me," said Betsy, pleadingly.
  • Queen Erma looked around and smiled upon Polychrome.
  • "Will the Rainbow's Daughter be an agreeable companion?" she asked.
  • "Oh, yes!" exclaimed the girl.
  • So Polychrome and Betsy became guests of the Queen of Light, while othe_eautiful Kings and Queens took charge of the others of the party.
  • The two girls followed Erma out of the hall and through the gardens of th_esidence to a village of pretty dwellings. None of these was so large o_mposing as the castle of the Private Citizen, but all were handsome enough t_e called palaces—as, in fact, they really were.