Tik-Tok of Oz HTML version

11. The Famous Fellowship of Fairies
After a short walk through very beautiful gardens they came to the castle and followed
Tubekins through the entrance and into a great domed chamber, where he commanded
them to be seated.
From the crown which he wore, Betsy had thought this man must be the King of the
country they were in, yet after he had seated all the strangers upon benches that were
ranged in a semicircle before a high throne, Tubekins bowed humbly before the vacant
throne and in a flash became invisible and disappeared.
The hall was an immense place, but there seemed to be no one in it beside themselves.
Presently, however, they heard a low cough near them, and here and there was the faint
rustling of a robe and a slight patter as of footsteps. Then suddenly there rang out the
clear tone of a bell and at the sound all was changed.
Gazing around the hall in bewilderment they saw that it was filled with hundreds of men
and women, all with beautiful faces and staring blue eyes and all wearing scarlet robes
and jeweled crowns upon their heads. In fact, these people seemed exact duplicates of
Tubekins and it was difficult to find any mark by which to tell them apart.
"My! what a lot of Kings and Queens!" whispered Betsy to Polychrome, who sat beside
her and appeared much interested in the scene but not a bit worried.
"It is certainly a strange sight," was Polychrome's reply; "but I cannot see how there can
be more than one King, or Queen, in any one country, for were these all rulers, no one
could tell who was Master."
One of the Kings who stood near and overheard this remark turned to her and said: "One
who is Master of himself is always a King, if only to himself. In this favored land all
Kings and Queens are equal, and it is our privilege to bow before one supreme Ruler--the
Private Citizen."
"Who's he?" inquired Betsy.
As if to answer her, the clear tones of the bell again rang out and instantly there appeared
seated in the throne the man who was lord and master of all these royal ones. This fact
was evident when with one accord they fell upon their knees and touched their foreheads
to the floor.
The Private Citizen was not unlike the others, except that his eyes were black instead of
blue and in the centers of the black irises glowed red sparks that seemed like coals of fire.
But his features were very beautiful and dignified and his manner composed and stately.
Instead of the prevalent scarlet robe, he wore one of white, and the same dragon's head
that decorated the others was embroidered upon its bosom.
"What charge lies against these people, Tubekins?" he asked in quiet, even tones.
"They came through the forbidden Tube, O Mighty Citizen," was the reply.