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Tik-Tok of Oz

13. The Jinjin's Just Judgment
All the adventurers were reunited next morning when they were brought from various
palaces to the Residence of Tititi-Hoochoo and ushered into the great Hall of State.
As before, no one was visible except our friends and their escorts until the first bell
sounded. Then in a flash the room was seen to be filled with the beautiful Kings and
Queens of the land. The second bell marked the appearance in the throne of the mighty
Jinjin, whose handsome countenance was as composed and expressionless as ever.
All bowed low to the Ruler. Their voices softly murmured: "We greet the Private Citizen,
mightiest of Rulers, whose word is Law and whose Law is just."
Tititi-Hoochoo bowed in acknowledgment. Then, looking around the brilliant
assemblage, and at the little group of adventurers before him, he said:
"An unusual thing has happened. Inhabitants of other lands than ours, who are different
from ourselves in many ways, have been thrust upon us through the Forbidden Tube,
which one of our people foolishly made years ago and was properly punished for his
folly. But these strangers had no desire to come here and were wickedly thrust into the
Tube by a cruel King on the other side of the world, named Ruggedo. This King is an
immortal, but he is not good. His magic powers hurt mankind more than they benefit
them. Because he had unjustly kept the Shaggy Man's brother a prisoner, this little band
of honest people, consisting of both mortals and immortals, determined to conquer
Ruggedo and to punish him. Fearing they might succeed in this, the Nome King misled
them so that they fell into the Tube.
"Now, this same Ruggedo has been warned by me, many times, that if ever he used this
Forbidden Tube in any way he would be severely punished. I find, by referring to the
Fairy Records, that this King's servant, a nome named Kaliko, begged his master not to
do such a wrong act as to drop these people into the Tube and send them tumbling into
our country. But Ruggedo defied me and my orders.
"Therefore these strangers are innocent of any wrong. It is only Ruggedo who deserves
punishment, and I will punish him." He paused a moment and then continued in the same
cold, merciless voice:
"These strangers must return through the Tube to their own side of the world; but I will
make their fall more easy and pleasant than it was before. Also I shall send with them an
Instrument of Vengeance, who in my name will drive Ruggedo from his underground
caverns, take away his magic powers and make him a homeless wanderer on the face of
the earth--a place he detests."
There was a little murmur of horror from the Kings and Queens at the severity of this
punishment, but no one uttered a protest, for all realized that the sentence was just.
"In selecting my Instrument of Vengeance," went on Tititi-Hoochoo, "I have realized that
this will be an unpleasant mission. Therefore no one of us who is blameless should be
forced to undertake it. In this wonderful land it is seldom one is guilty of wrong, even in
the slightest degree, and on examining the Records I found no King or Queen had erred.
Nor had any among their followers or servants done any wrong. But finally I came to the
 
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