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N. B.--This Mechanism is guaranteed to work perfectly for a thousand years.
"If he's guaranteed for a thousand years," said Polychrome, "he ought to work yet."
"Of course," replied Shaggy. "Let's wind him up."
In order to do this they were obliged to set the copper man upon his feet, in an upright position, and this was no easy task. He was inclined to topple over, and had to be propped again and again. The girls assisted Shaggy, and at last Tik- Tok seemed to be balanced and stood alone upon his broad feet.
"Yes," said Shaggy, looking at the copper man carefully, "this must be, indeed, my old friend Tik-Tok, whom I left ticking merrily in the Land of Oz. But how he came to this lonely place, and got into that old well, is surely a mystery."
"If we wind him, perhaps he will tell us," suggested Betsy. "Here's the key, hanging to a hook on his back. What part of him shall I wind up first?"
"His thoughts, of course," said Polychrome, "for it requires thought to speak or move intelligently."
So Betsy wound him under his left arm, and at once little flashes of light began to show in the top of his head, which was proof that he had begun to think.
"Now, then," said Shaggy, "wind up his phonograph."
"What's that?" she asked.
"Why, his talking-machine. His thoughts may be interesting, but they don't tell us anything."
So Betsy wound the copper man under his right arm, and then from the interior of his copper body came in jerky tones the words: "Ma-ny thanks!"
"Hurrah!" cried Shaggy, joyfully, and he slapped Tik-Tok upon the back in such a hearty manner that the copper man lost his balance and tumbled to the ground in a heap. But the clockwork that enabled him to speak had been wound up and he kept saying: "Pick-me-up! Pick-me-up! Pick-me-up!" until they had again raised him and balanced him upon his feet, when he added politely: "Ma-ny thanks!"
"He won't be self-supporting until we wind up his action," remarked Shaggy; so Betsy wound it, as tight as she could--for the key turned rather hard--and then Tik-Tok lifted his feet, marched around in a circle and ended by stopping before the group and making them all a low bow.
"How in the world did you happen to be in that well, when I left you safe in Oz?" inquired Shaggy.
"It is a long sto-ry," replied Tik-Tok, "but I'll tell it in a few words. Af-ter you had gone in search of your broth-er, Oz-ma saw you wan-der- ing in strange lands when-ev-er she looked in her mag-ic pic-ture, and she also saw your broth-er in the Nome King's cavern; so she sent me to tell you where to find your broth-er and told me to help you if I could. The Sor-cer-ess, Glin-da the Good, trans-port-ed me to this place in the wink of an eye; but here I met the Nome King him-self--old Rug-ge-do, who is called in these parts the Met-al Mon-arch. Rug-ge-do knew what I had come for, and he was so an-gry that he threw me down the well. Af-ter my works ran down I was help-less un-til you came a-long and pulled me out a-gain. Ma-ny thanks."
"This is, indeed, good news," said Shaggy. "I suspected that my brother was the prisoner of Ruggedo; but now I know it. Tell us, Tik-Tok, how shall we get to the Nome King's underground cavern?"
"The best way is to walk," said Tik-Tok. "We might crawl, or jump, or roll o-ver and o-ver until we get there; but the best way is to walk."
"I know; but which road shall we take?"
"My ma-chin-er-y is-n't made to tell that," replied Tik-Tok.
"There is more than one entrance to the underground cavern," said Polychrome; "but old Ruggedo has cleverly concealed every opening, so that earth dwellers can not intrude in his domain. If we find our way underground at all, it will be by chance."
"Then," said Betsy, "let us select any road, haphazard, and see where it leads us."
"That seems sensible," declared the Princess. "It may require a lot of time for us to find Ruggedo, but we have more time than anything else."
"If you keep me wound up," said Tik-Tok, "I will last a thou-sand years."
"Then the only question to decide is which way to go," added Shaggy, looking first at one road and then at another.
But while they stood hesitating, a peculiar sound reached their ears--a sound like the tramping of many feet.
"What's coming?" cried Betsy; and then she ran to the left-hand road and glanced along the path. "Why, it's an army!" she exclaimed. "What shall we do, hide or run?"
"Stand still," commanded Shaggy. "I'm not afraid of an army. If they prove to be friendly, they can help us; if they are enemies, I'll show them the Love Magnet."
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Tik-Tok of Oz -by- L. Frank BaumBottom Content goes here. Wikipedia content requires these links..... Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.