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Tik-Tok of Oz

8. Tik-Tok Tackles a Tough Task
While Shaggy and his companions stood huddled in a group at one side, the Army of
Oogaboo was approaching along the pathway, the tramp of their feet being now and then
accompanied by a dismal groan as one of the officers stepped on a sharp stone or
knocked his funnybone against his neighbor's sword-handle.
Then out from among the trees marched Private Files, bearing the banner of Oogaboo,
which fluttered from a long pole. This pole he stuck in the ground just in front of the well
and then he cried in a loud voice:
"I hereby conquer this territory in the name of Queen Ann Soforth of Oogaboo, and all
the inhabitants of the land I proclaim her slaves!"
Some of the officers now stuck their heads out of the bushes and asked:
"Is the coast clear, Private Files?"
"There is no coast here," was the reply, "but all's well."
"I hope there's water in it," said General Cone, mustering courage to advance to the well;
but just then he caught a glimpse of Tik-Tok and Shaggy and at once fell upon his knees,
trembling and frightened and cried out:
"Mercy, kind enemies! Mercy! Spare us, and we will be your slaves forever!"
The other officers, who had now advanced into the clearing, likewise fell upon their
knees and begged for mercy.
Files turned around and, seeing the strangers for the first time, examined them with much
curiosity. Then, discovering that three of the party were girls, he lifted his cap and made a
polite bow.
"What's all this?" demanded a harsh voice, as Queen Ann reached the place and beheld
her kneeling army.
"Permit us to introduce ourselves," replied Shaggy, stepping forward. "This is Tik-Tok,
the Clockwork Man--who works better than some meat people. And here is Princess
Ozga of Roseland, just now unfortunately exiled from her Kingdom of Roses. I next
present Polychrome, a sky fairy, who lost her Bow by an accident and can't find her way
home. The small girl here is Betsy Bobbin, from some unknown earthly paradise called
Oklahoma, and with her you see Mr. Hank, a mule with a long tail and a short temper."
"Puh!" said Ann, scornfully; "a pretty lot of vagabonds you are, indeed; all lost or
strayed, I suppose, and not worth a Queen's plundering. I'm sorry I've conquered you."
"But you haven't conquered us yet," called Betsy indignantly.
"No," agreed Files, "that is a fact. But if my officers will kindly command me to conquer
you, I will do so at once, after which we can stop arguing and converse more at our ease."
 
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