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Tik-Tok of Oz

10. A Terrible Tumble Through a Tube
I suppose that Polychrome, and perhaps Queen Ann and her Army, might have been able
to dispel the enchantment of Ruggedo's Chief Magician had they known that danger lay
in their pathway; for the Rainbow's Daughter was a fairy and as Oogaboo is a part of the
Land of Oz its inhabitants cannot easily be deceived by such common magic as the Nome
King could command. But no one suspected any especial danger until after they had
entered Ruggedo's cavern, and so they were journeying along in quite a contented manner
when Tik-Tok, who marched ahead, suddenly disappeared.
The officers thought he must have turned a corner, so they kept on their way and all of
them likewise disappeared--one after another. Queen Ann was rather surprised at this,
and in hastening forward to learn the reason she also vanished from sight.
Betsy Bobbin had tired her feet by walking, so she was now riding upon the back of the
stout little mule, facing backward and talking to Shaggy and Polychrome, who were just
behind. Suddenly Hank pitched forward and began falling and Betsy would have tumbled
over his head had she not grabbed the mule's shaggy neck with both arms and held on for
dear life.
All around was darkness, and they were not falling directly downward but seemed to be
sliding along a steep incline. Hank's hoofs were resting upon some smooth substance
over which he slid with the swiftness of the wind. Once Betsy's heels flew up and struck
a similar substance overhead. They were, indeed, descending the "Hollow Tube" that led
to the other side of the world.
"Stop, Hank--stop!" cried the girl; but Hank only uttered a plaintive "Hee-haw!" for it
was impossible for him to obey.
After several minutes had passed and no harm had befallen them, Betsy gained courage.
She could see nothing at all, nor could she hear anything except the rush of air past her
ears as they plunged downward along the Tube. Whether she and Hank were alone, or the
others were with them, she could not tell. But had some one been able to take a flash-
light photograph of the Tube at that time a most curious picture would have resulted.
There was Tik-Tok, flat upon his back and sliding headforemost down the incline. And
there were the Officers of the Army of Oogaboo, all tangled up in a confused crowd,
flapping their arms and trying to shield their faces from the clanking swords, which
swung back and forth during the swift journey and pommeled everyone within their
reach. Now followed Queen Ann, who had struck the Tube in a sitting position and went
flying along with a dash and abandon that thoroughly bewildered the poor lady, who had
no idea what had happened to her. Then, a little distance away, but unseen by the others
in the inky darkness, slid Betsy and Hank, while behind them were Shaggy and
Polychrome and finally Files and the Princess.
When first they tumbled into the Tube all were too dazed to think clearly, but the trip was
a long one, because the cavity led straight through the earth to a place just opposite the
Nome King's dominions, and long before the adventurers got to the end they had begun
to recover their wits.
 
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