They walked slowly down the
path between the rocks, Tiktok
going first, Dorothy following
him, and the yellow hen trotting
At the foot of the path the
copper man leaned down and tossed
aside with ease the rocks that
encumbered the way. Then he turned
to Dorothy and said:
"Let me car-ry
She placed it in his right
hand at once, and the copper
fingers closed firmly over the
Then the little procession
marched out upon the level sands.
As soon as the three Wheelers
who were guarding the mound saw
them, they began to shout their
wild cries and rolled swiftly
toward the little group, as if
to capture them or bar their
way. But when the foremost had
approached near enough, Tiktok
swung the tin dinner-pail and
struck the Wheeler a sharp blow
over its head with the queer
weapon. Perhaps it did not hurt
very much, but it made a great
noise, and the Wheeler uttered
a howl and tumbled over upon
its side. The next minute it
scrambled to its wheels and rolled
away as fast as it could go,
screeching with fear at the same
"I told you they were harm-less," began
Tiktok; but before he could say
more another Wheeler was upon
them. Crack! went the dinner-pail
against its head, knocking its
straw hat a dozen feet away;
and that was enough for this
Wheeler, also. It rolled away
after the first one, and the
third did not wait to be pounded
with the pail, but joined its
fellows as quickly as its wheels
The yellow hen gave a cackle
of delight, and flying to a perch
upon Tiktok's shoulder, she said:
my copper friend! and wisely
thought of, too. Now
we are free from those ugly creatures."
But just then a large band
of Wheelers rolled from the forest,
and relying upon their numbers
to conquer, they advanced fiercely
upon Tiktok. Dorothy grabbed
Billina in her arms and held
her tight, and the machine embraced
the form of the little girl with
his left arm, the better to protect
her. Then the Wheelers were upon
Rattlety, bang! bang! went
the dinner-pail in every direction,
and it made so much clatter bumping
against the heads of the Wheelers
that they were much more frightened
than hurt and fled in a great
panic. All, that is, except their
leader. This Wheeler had stumbled
against another and fallen flat
upon his back, and before he
could get his wheels under him
to rise again, Tiktok had fastened
his copper fingers into the neck
of the gorgeous jacket of his
foe and held him fast.
"Tell your peo-ple to go a-way," commanded
The leader of the Wheelers
hesitated to give this order,
so Tiktok shook him as a terrier
dog does a rat, until the Wheeler's
teeth rattled together with a
noise like hailstones on a window
pane. Then, as soon as the creature
could get its breath, it shouted
to the others to roll away, which
they immediately did.
"Now," said Tiktok, "you
shall come with us and tell
I want to know."
"You'll be sorry for treating
me in this way," whined the Wheeler. "I'm
a terribly fierce person."
"As for that," answered Tiktok, "I
am only a ma-chine, and can-not
feel sor-row or joy, no mat-ter
what hap-pens. But you are wrong
to think your-self ter-ri-ble
"Why so?" asked
one else thinks as you do.
Your wheels make you
help-less to in-jure an-y one.
For you have no fists and can
not scratch or e-ven pull hair.
Nor have you an-y feet to kick
with. All you can do is to yell
and shout, and that does not
hurt an-y one at all."
The Wheeler burst into a flood
of tears, to Dorothy's great
"Now I and my people are ruined
forever!" he sobbed; "for you
have discovered our secret. Being
so helpless, our only hope is
to make people afraid of us,
by pretending we are very fierce
and terrible, and writing in
the sand warnings to Beware the
Wheelers. Until now we have frightened
everyone, but since you have
discovered our weakness our enemies
will fall upon us and make us
very miserable and unhappy."
"Oh, no," exclaimed Dorothy,
who was sorry to see this beautifully
dressed Wheeler so miserable; "Tiktok
will keep your secret, and so
will Billina and I. Only, you
must promise not to try to frighten
children any more, if they come
near to you."
"I won't--indeed I won't!" promised
the Wheeler, ceasing to cry and
becoming more cheerful. "I'm
not really bad, you know; but
we have to pretend to be terrible
in order to prevent others from
"That is not ex-act-ly true," said
Tiktok, starting to walk toward
the path through the forest,
and still holding fast to his
prisoner, who rolled slowly along
beside him. "You and your peo-ple
are full of mis-chief, and like
to both-er those who fear you.
And you are of-ten im-pu-dent
and dis-a-gree-a-ble, too. But
if you will try to cure those
faults I will not tell any-one
how help-less you are."
"I'll try, of course," replied
the Wheeler, eagerly. "And thank
you, Mr. Tiktok, for your kindness."
"I am on-ly a ma-chine," said
Tiktok. "I can not be kind an-y
more than I can be sor-ry or
glad. I can on-ly do what I am
wound up to do."
"Are you wound up to keep my
secret?" asked the Wheeler, anxiously.
"Yes; if you be-have your-self.
But tell me: who rules the Land
of Ev now?" asked the machine.
"There is no ruler," was the
answer, "because every member
of the royal family is imprisoned
by the Nome King. But the Princess
Langwidere, who is a niece of
our late King Evoldo, lives in
a part of the royal palace and
takes as much money out of the
royal treasury as she can spend.
The Princess Langwidere is not
exactly a ruler, you see, because
she doesn't rule; but she is
the nearest approach to a ruler
we have at present."
"I do not re-mem-ber her," said
Tiktok. "What does she look like?"
"That I cannot say," replied
the Wheeler, "although I have
seen her twenty times. For the
Princess Langwidere is a different
person every time I see her,
and the only way her subjects
can recognize her at all is by
means of a beautiful ruby key
which she always wears on a chain
attached to her left wrist. When
we see the key we know we are
beholding the Princess."
"That is strange," said Dorothy,
in astonishment. "Do you mean
to say that so many different
princesses are one and the same
"Not exactly," answered the
Wheeler. "There is, of course,
but one princess; but she appears
to us in many forms, which are
all more or less beautiful."
"She must be a witch," exclaimed
"I do not think so," declared
the Wheeler. "But there is some
mystery connected with her, nevertheless.
She is a very vain creature,
and lives mostly in a room surrounded
by mirrors, so that she can admire
herself whichever way she looks."
No one answered this speech,
because they had just passed
out of the forest and their attention
was fixed upon the scene before
them--a beautiful vale in which
were many fruit trees and green
fields, with pretty farm-houses
scattered here and there and
broad, smooth roads that led
in every direction.
In the center of this lovely
vale, about a mile from where
our friends were standing, rose
the tall spires of the royal
palace, which glittered brightly
against their background of blue
sky. The palace was surrounded
by charming grounds, full of
flowers and shrubbery. Several
tinkling fountains could be seen,
and there were pleasant walks
bordered by rows of white marble
All these details Dorothy was,
of course, unable to notice or
admire until they had advanced
along the road to a position
quite near to the palace, and
she was still looking at the
pretty sights when her little
party entered the grounds and
approached the big front door
of the king's own apartments.
To their disappointment they
found the door tightly closed.
A sign was tacked to the panel
which read as follows:
| | | OWNER ABSENT. | | | | Please
Knock at the Third | | Door in
the Left Wing. | | | +----------------------------+
"Now," said Tiktok to the captive
Wheeler, "you must show us the
way to the Left Wing."
"Very well," agreed the prisoner, "it
is around here at the right."
"How can the left wing be at
the right?" demanded Dorothy,
who feared the Wheeler was fooling
used to be three wings, and
two were torn down,
so the one on the right is the
only one left. It is a trick
of the Princess Langwidere to
prevent visitors from annoying
Then the captive led them around
to the wing, after which the
machine man, having no further
use for the Wheeler, permitted
him to depart and rejoin his
fellows. He immediately rolled
away at a great pace and was
soon lost to sight.
Tiktok now counted the doors
in the wing and knocked loudly
upon the third one.
It was opened by a little maid
in a cap trimmed with gay ribbons,
who bowed respectfully and asked:
"What do you
wish, good people?"
"Are you the Princess Langwidere?" asked
"No, miss; I am her servant," replied
"May I see
the Princess, please?"
"I will tell her you are here,
miss, and ask her to grant you
an audience," said the maid. "Step
in, please, and take a seat in
walked in, followed closely
by the machine. But as
the yellow hen tried to enter
after them, the little maid cried "Shoo!" and
flapped her apron in Billina's
"Shoo, yourself!" retorted
the hen, drawing back in anger
and ruffling up her feathers. "Haven't
you any better manners than that?"
"Oh, do you talk?" enquired
the maid, evidently surprised.
"Can't you hear me?" snapped
Billina. "Drop that apron, and
get out of the doorway, so that
I may enter with my friends!"
"The Princess won't like it," said
the maid, hesitating.
"I don't care whether she likes
it or not," replied Billina,
and fluttering her wings with
a loud noise she flew straight
at the maid's face. The little
servant at once ducked her head,
and the hen reached Dorothy's
side in safety.
"Very well," sighed the maid; "if
you are all ruined because of
this obstinate hen, don't blame
me for it. It isn't safe to annoy
the Princess Langwidere."
"Tell her we are waiting, if
you please," Dorothy requested,
with dignity. "Billina is my
friend, and must go wherever
Without more words the maid
led them to a richly furnished
drawing-room, lighted with subdued
rainbow tints that came in through
beautiful stained-glass windows.
"Remain here," she said. "What
names shall I give the Princess?"
"I am Dorothy Gale, of Kansas," replied
the child; "and this gentleman
is a machine named Tiktok, and
the yellow hen is my friend Billina."
The little servant bowed and
withdrew, going through several
passages and mounting two marble
stairways before she came to
the apartments occupied by her
Princess Langwidere's sitting-room
was paneled with great mirrors,
which reached from the ceiling
to the floor; also the ceiling
was composed of mirrors, and
the floor was of polished silver
that reflected every object upon
it. So when Langwidere sat in
her easy chair and played soft
melodies upon her mandolin, her
form was mirrored hundreds of
times, in walls and ceiling and
floor, and whichever way the
lady turned her head she could
see and admire her own features.
This she loved to do, and just
as the maid entered she was saying
with the auburn hair and hazel
eyes is quite
attractive. I must wear it more
often than I have done of late,
although it may not be the best
of my collection."
"You have company, Your Highness," announced
the maid, bowing low.
"Who is it?" asked
"Dorothy Gale of Kansas, Mr.
Tiktok and Billina," answered
"What a queer lot of names!" murmured
the Princess, beginning to be
a little interested. "What are
they like? Is Dorothy Gale of
"She might be called so," the
"And is Mr. Tiktok attractive?" continued
"That I cannot
say, Your Highness. But he
seems very bright. Will
Your Gracious Highness see them?"
"Oh, I may
as well, Nanda. But I am tired
head, and if my visitor has any
claim to beauty I must take care
that she does not surpass me.
So I will go to my cabinet and
change to No. 17, which I think
is my best appearance. Don't
"Your No. 17 is exceedingly
beautiful," answered Nanda, with
Again the Princess yawned.
Then she said:
"Help me to
So the maid assisted her to
gain her feet, although Langwidere
was the stronger of the two;
and then the Princess slowly
walked across the silver floor
to her cabinet, leaning heavily
at every step upon Nanda's arm.
Now I must
explain to you that the Princess
Langwidere had thirty
heads--as many as there are days
in the month. But of course she
could only wear one of them at
a time, because she had but one
neck. These heads were kept in
what she called her "cabinet," which
was a beautiful dressing-room
that lay just between Langwidere's
sleeping-chamber and the mirrored
sitting-room. Each head was in
a separate cupboard lined with
velvet. The cupboards ran all
around the sides of the dressing-room,
and had elaborately carved doors
with gold numbers on the outside
and jeweled-framed mirrors on
the inside of them.
When the Princess got out of
her crystal bed in the morning
she went to her cabinet, opened
one of the velvet-lined cupboards,
and took the head it contained
from its golden shelf. Then,
by the aid of the mirror inside
the open door, she put on the
head--as neat and straight as
could be--and afterward called
her maids to robe her for the
day. She always wore a simple
white costume, that suited all
the heads. For, being able to
change her face whenever she
liked, the Princess had no interest
in wearing a variety of gowns,
as have other ladies who are
compelled to wear the same face
Of course the thirty heads
were in great variety, no two
formed alike but all being of
exceeding loveliness. There were
heads with golden hair, brown
hair, rich auburn hair and black
hair; but none with gray hair.
The heads had eyes of blue, of
gray, of hazel, of brown and
of black; but there were no red
eyes among them, and all were
bright and handsome. The noses
were Grecian, Roman, retrousse
and Oriental, representing all
types of beauty; and the mouths
were of assorted sizes and shapes,
displaying pearly teeth when
the heads smiled. As for dimples,
they appeared in cheeks and chins,
wherever they might be most charming,
and one or two heads had freckles
upon the faces to contrast the
better with the brilliancy of
One key unlocked all the velvet
cupboards containing these treasures--a
curious key carved from a single
blood-red ruby--and this was
fastened to a strong but slender
chain which the Princess wore
around her left wrist.
When Nanda had supported Langwidere
to a position in front of cupboard
No. 17, the Princess unlocked
the door with her ruby key and
after handing head No. 9, which
she had been wearing, to the
maid, she took No. 17 from its
shelf and fitted it to her neck.
It had black hair and dark eyes
and a lovely pearl-and-white
complexion, and when Langwidere
wore it she knew she was remarkably
beautiful in appearance.
There was only one trouble
with No. 17; the temper that
went with it (and which was hidden
somewhere under the glossy black
hair) was fiery, harsh and haughty
in the extreme, and it often
led the Princess to do unpleasant
things which she regretted when
she came to wear her other heads.
But she did not remember this
today, and went to meet her guests
in the drawing-room with a feeling
of certainty that she would surprise
them with her beauty.
However, she was greatly disappointed
to find that her visitors were
merely a small girl in a gingham
dress, a copper man that would
only go when wound up, and a
yellow hen that was sitting contentedly
in Langwidere's best work-basket,
where there was a china egg used
for darning stockings. (It may
surprise you to learn that a
princess ever does such a common
thing as darn stockings. But,
if you will stop to think, you
will realize that a princess
is sure to wear holes in her
stockings, the same as other
people; only it isn't considered
quite polite to mention the matter.)
"Oh!" said Langwidere, slightly
lifting the nose of No. 17. "I
thought some one of importance
"Then you were right," declared
Dorothy. "I'm a good deal of
'portance myself, and when Billina
lays an egg she has the proudest
cackle you ever heard. As for
Tiktok, he's the--"
"Stop--Stop!" commanded the
Princess, with an angry flash
of her splendid eyes. "How dare
you annoy me with your senseless
"Why, you horrid thing!" said
Dorothy, who was not accustomed
to being treated so rudely.
The Princess looked at her
"Tell me," she resumed, "are
you of royal blood?"
"Better than that, ma'am," said
Dorothy. "I came from Kansas."
"Huh!" cried the Princess,
scornfully. "You are a foolish
child, and I cannot allow you
to annoy me. Run away, you little
goose, and bother some one else."
Dorothy was so indignant that
for a moment she could find no
words to reply. But she rose
from her chair, and was about
to leave the room when the Princess,
who had been scanning the girl's
face, stopped her by saying,
Dorothy obeyed, without a thought
of fear, and stood before the
Princess while Langwidere examined
her face with careful attention.
"You are rather attractive," said
the lady, presently. "Not at
all beautiful, you understand,
but you have a certain style
of prettiness that is different
from that of any of my thirty
heads. So I believe I'll take
your head and give you No. 26
"Well, I b'lieve you won't!" exclaimed
"It will do you no good to
refuse," continued the Princess; "for
I need your head for my collection,
and in the Land of Ev my will
is law. I never have cared much
for No. 26, and you will find
that it is very little worn.
Besides, it will do you just
as well as the one you're wearing,
for all practical purposes."
"I don't know anything about
your No. 26, and I don't want
to," said Dorothy, firmly. "I'm
not used to taking cast-off things,
so I'll just keep my own head."
"You refuse?" cried
the Princess, with a frown.
"Of course I do," was
"Then," said Langwidere, "I
shall lock you up in a tower
until you decide to obey me.
Nanda," turning to her maid, "call
Nanda rang a silver bell, and
at once a big fat colonel in
a bright red uniform entered
the room, followed by ten lean
soldiers, who all looked sad
and discouraged and saluted the
princess in a very melancholy
"Carry that girl to the North
Tower and lock her up!" cried
the Princess, pointing to Dorothy.
"To hear is to obey," answered
the big red colonel, and caught
the child by her arm. But at
that moment Tiktok raised his
dinner-pail and pounded it so
forcibly against the colonel's
head that the big officer sat
down upon the floor with a sudden
bump, looking both dazed and
very much astonished.
shouted, and the ten lean soldiers
sprang to assist
There was great excitement
for the next few moments, and
Tiktok had knocked down seven
of the army, who were sprawling
in every direction upon the carpet,
when suddenly the machine paused,
with the dinner-pail raised for
another blow, and remained perfectly
"My ac-tion has run down," he
called to Dorothy. "Wind me up,
She tried to obey, but the
big colonel had by this time
managed to get upon his feet
again, so he grabbed fast hold
of the girl and she was helpless
"This is too bad," said the
machine. "I ought to have run
six hours lon-ger, at least,
but I sup-pose my long walk and
my fight with the Wheel-ers made
me run down fast-er than us-u-al."
"Well, it can't be helped," said
Dorothy, with a sigh.
"Will you exchange heads with
me?" demanded the Princess.
"No, indeed!" cried
"Then lock her up," said
Langwidere to her soldiers,
and they led
Dorothy to a high tower at the
north of the palace and locked
her securely within.
The soldiers afterward tried
to lift Tiktok, but they found
the machine so solid and heavy
that they could not stir it.
So they left him standing in
the center of the drawing-room.
"People will think I have a
new statue," said Langwidere, "so
it won't matter in the least,
and Nanda can keep him well polished."
"What shall we do with the
hen?" asked the colonel, who
had just discovered Billina in
"Put her in the chicken-house," answered
the Princess. "Someday I'll have
her fried for breakfast."
"She looks rather tough, Your
Highness," said Nanda, doubtfully.
"That is a base slander!" cried
Billina, struggling frantically
in the colonel's arms. "But the
breed of chickens I come from
is said to be poison to all princesses."
"Then," remarked Langwidere, "I
will not fry the hen, but keep
her to lay eggs; and if she doesn't
do her duty I'll have her drowned
in the horse trough."