Tik-Tok of Oz
16. The Naughty Nome
Shaggy Man had said nothing during the conversation between Queen Ann and Quox, for
the simple reason that he did not consider the matter worth an argument. Safe within his
pocket reposed the Love Magnet, which had never failed to win every heart. The nomes,
he knew, were not like the heartless Roses and therefore could be won to his side as soon
as he exhibited the magic talisman.
Shaggy's chief anxiety had been to reach Ruggedo's Kingdom and now that the entrance
lay before him he was confident he would be able to rescue his lost brother. Let Ann and
the dragon quarrel as to who should conquer the nomes, if they liked; Shaggy would let
them try, and if they failed he had the means of conquest in his own pocket.
But Ann was positive she could not fail, for she thought her Army could do anything. So
she called the officers together and told them how to act, and she also instructed Tik-Tok
what to do and what to say.
"Please do not shoot your gun except as a last resort," she added, "for I do not wish to be
cruel or to shed any blood--unless it is absolutely necessary."
"All right," replied Tik-Tok; "but I do not think Rug-ge-do would bleed if I filled him full
of holes and put him in a ci-der press."
Then the officers fell in line, the four Generals abreast and then the four Colonels and the
four Majors and the four Captains. They drew their glittering swords and commanded
Tik-Tok to march, which he did. Twice he fell down, being tripped by the rough rocks,
but when he struck the smooth path he got along better. Into the gloomy mouth of the
cavern entrance he stepped without hesitation, and after him proudly pranced the officers
and Queen Ann. The others held back a little, waiting to see what would happen.
Of course the Nome King knew they were coming and was prepared to receive them. Just
within the rocky passage that led to the jeweled throne-room was a deep pit, which was
usually covered. Ruggedo had ordered the cover removed and it now stood open, scarcely
visible in the gloom.
The pit was so large around that it nearly filled the passage and there was barely room for
one to walk around it by pressing close to the rock walls. This Tik-Tok did, for his copper
eyes saw the pit clearly and he avoided it; but the officers marched straight into the hole
and tumbled in a heap on the bottom. An instant later Queen Ann also walked into the pit,
for she had her chin in the air and was careless where she placed her feet. Then one of the
nomes pulled a lever which replaced the cover on the pit and made the officers of
Oogaboo and their Queen fast prisoners.
As for Tik-Tok, he kept straight on to the cavern where Ruggedo sat in his throne and
there he faced the Nome King and said:
"I here-by con-quer you in the name of Queen Ann So-forth of Oo-ga-boo, whose Ar-my
I am, and I de-clare that you are her pris-on-er!"
Ruggedo laughed at him.