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Tik-Tok of Oz

23. Ruggedo Reforms
It did not take them long to regain the royal cavern of the Nome King, where Kaliko
ordered served to them the nicest refreshments the place afforded.
Ruggedo had come trailing along after the rest of the party and while no one paid any
attention to the old King they did not offer any objection to his presence or command him
to leave them. He looked fearfully to see if the eggs were still guarding the entrance, but
they had now disappeared; so he crept into the cavern after the others and humbly
squatted down in a corner of the room.
There Betsy discovered him. All of the little girl's companions were now so happy at the
success of Shaggy's quest for his brother, and the laughter and merriment seemed so
general, that Betsy's heart softened toward the friendless old man who had once been
their bitter enemy, and she carried to him some of the food and drink. Ruggedo's eyes
filled with tears at this unexpected kindness. He took the child's hand in his own and
pressed it gratefully.
"Look here, Kaliko," said Betsy, addressing the new King, "what's the use of being hard
on Ruggedo? All his magic power is gone, so he can't do any more harm, and I'm sure
he's sorry he acted so badly to everybody."
"Are you?" asked Kaliko, looking down at his former master.
"I am," said Ruggedo. "The girl speaks truly. I'm sorry and I'm harmless. I don't want to
wander through the wide world, on top of the ground, for I'm a nome. No nome can ever
be happy any place but underground."
"That being the case," said Kaliko, "I will let you stay here as long as you behave
yourself; but, if you try to act badly again, I shall drive you out, as Tititi-Hoochoo has
commanded, and you'll have to wander."
"Never fear. I'll behave," promised Ruggedo. "It is hard work being a King, and harder
still to be a good King. But now that I am a common nome I am sure I can lead a
blameless life."
They were all pleased to hear this and to know that Ruggedo had really reformed.
"I hope he'll keep his word," whispered Betsy to Shaggy; "but if he gets bad again we
will be far away from the Nome Kingdom and Kaliko will have to 'tend to the old nome
himself."
Polychrome had been a little restless during the last hour or two. The lovely Daughter of
the Rainbow knew that she had now done all in her power to assist her earth friends, and
so she began to long for her sky home.
"I think," she said, after listening intently, "that it is beginning to rain. The Rain King is
my uncle, you know, and perhaps he has read my thoughts and is going to help me.
Anyway I must take a look at the sky and make sure."
 
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