And now we meet the great arch-villain of the Oz books once again: Ruggedo the Nome King — alias Roquat, as he was originally known. I don't know why L. Frank Baum changed the Nome King's name; the in-story explanation is that Roquat forgo his original name upon drinking the memory-erasing Water of Oblivion in The Emerald City of Oz, and so had to come up with a new one. Personally, I prefer Roquat, if only because Ruggedo isn't particularly rugged, and the new name isn't a good match.
Like any good supervillain, Ruggedo can detect the approach of enemies from afar, and has defenses ready. He first tries to halt the combined Oz/Oklahoma/Oogaboo incursion by activating the Rubber Country, which he hopes will bounce them away. But our heroes get through with only a little physical comedy. A little Googling indicates that the technology to make a proto-trampoline called a "bouncing bed" was already part of theatrical stagecraft at the time Baum wrote Tik-Tok of Oz, so I guess he wrote this section with that in mind.
The Rubber Country having failed, Ruggedo employs his ultimate weapon: the Hollow Tube. The Tube is nothing less than a tunnel which passes right through the center of the Earth! As Polychrome explains as the entire party falls down the Tube, it was built by a wizard to allow him to travel more conveniently, but the first time he used it, he shot out the other end and collided with a star.
Thankfully, the heroes emerge with much less residual velocity, and tumble safely to the ground on the other side of the world. What's interesting is that Baum's physics is pretty correct here: if something were to fall through the center of a solid sphere, it would accelerate on the way down (though the force of acceleration would steadily decrease to zero) and then decelerate on the upward leg, emerging with a net velocity close to zero.
Of course, air resistance would utterly negate this, limiting the tube-travellers' speed to the point at which drag counteracts acceleration, so they'd never reach the other side but instead oscillate back and forth several times before coming to rest in zero gravity at the center of the planet.
Perhaps the same magic which keeps the mass of the Earth from collapsing the Hollow Tube (and which protects travellers from the 5400° Centigrade temperature at the center of the planet) also negates air resistance, as it only takes the party an hour to reach the opposite side of the planet. That's pretty close to correct, which makes me wonder if Mr. Baum consulted someone to do the math for him — possibly at the nearby Throop Institute, better known today as Cal Tech.
On the far side of the world they meet a Peculiar Person (with Baumian Capitals), who wears a crown and a scarlet robe decorated with a dragon's head emblem. His limbs are different colors — yellow, green, blue, and pink — and his feet are jet black. The Person leads them to a huge palace called the Private Residence. Just as the Army of Oogaboo has twenty officers and one private, this country is populated entirely by kings and queens, which means the ruler is he sole Private Citizen.
It helps that the Private Citizen is Tititi Hoochoo, the Great Jinjin, which means he's roughly as powerful as Galactus. When the Great Jinjin learns that it was Ruggedo who was responsible for sending the travellers against their will through the forbidden Hollow Tube, he resolves to punish the Nome King, and then vanishes.
His visitors, still a bit intimidated, are given the hospitality of the land. Betsy Bobbin and Polychrome are guests of the Queen of Light, who lives in a crystal palace and is attended by six lovely maidens, each representing a different form of light: Sunlight, Moonlight, Starlight, Daylight, Firelight, and Electra. Each one's costume is, of course, described in minute detail by Mr. Baum. (Presumably they could be played on stage by some of the same chorines who wore the Rose costumes earlier.)
The Queen of Light explains that this country is another Fairyland, and the maidens aren't just costumed attendants but actual fairy personifications of light. Polychrome seems to be at least vaguely familiar with them, being fellow fairies and all, but Betsy is full of questions until bedtime.
After the travellers fall into the Tube, Tik-Tok of Oz finally starts to get good. Baum's no longer recycling old material, and when he lets his imagination go wild about fairies he can really deliver the goods. Tititi-Hoochoo is properly intimidating, and the maidens of Light are a wonderful bit of new mythology. Before undertaking this Ozblogging exercise, I hadn't read Tik-Tok of Oz since some time in the 1970s, and had no memory of the earlier chapters. In fact, I was beginning to wonder if I had ever read it before. But the land beyond the Tube was familiar territory. That's the part I remember after forty years.
Next time: the Instrument of Vengeance!
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