The Magic of Oz
Kiki Aru didn't know much about Oz and didn't know much about the beasts who
lived there, but the old Nome's plan seemed to him to be quite reasonable. He
had 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 he
kept to himself the secret word of the transformations, Ruggedo would not dare
to harm him, and he promised himself that as soon as they had conquered Oz,
he would transform the old Nome into a marble statue and keep him in that form
Ruggedo, on his part, decided that he could, by careful watching and listening,
surprise the boy's secret, and when he had learned the magic word he would
transform Kiki Aru into a bundle of faggots and burn him up and so be rid of him.
This is always the way with wicked people. They cannot be trusted even by one
another. Ruggedo thought he was fooling Kiki, and Kiki thought he was fooling
Ruggedo; so both were pleased.
"It's a long way across the Desert," remarked the boy, "and the sands are hot and
send up poisonous vapors. Let us wait until evening and then fly across in the
night when it will be cooler."
The former Nome King agreed to this, and the two spent the rest of that day in
talking over their plans. When evening came they paid the inn-keeper and
walked 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 walking
swiftly away, he left the Nome standing in the grove. Ruggedo wondered where
he had gone, but stood quietly in his place until, all of a sudden, his form
changed to that of a great eagle, and he uttered a piercing cry of astonishment
and flapped his wings in a sort of panic. At once his eagle cry was answered
from beyond the grove, and another eagle, even larger and more powerful than
the transformed Ruggedo, came sailing through the trees and alighted beside
"Now we are ready for the start," said the voice of Kiki, coming from the eagle.
Ruggedo realized that this time he had been outwitted. He had thought Kiki
would utter the magic word in his presence, and so he would learn what it was,
but the boy had been too shrewd for that.