"We can see you," said another of the piglets.
The Wizard stooped down and put out his hand, and at once felt the small fat body of one of his pets. He picked it up, but could not see what he held.
"It is very strange," said he, soberly. "The piglets have become invisible, in some curious way."
"I'll bet it's because they ate that peach!" cried the kitten.
"It wasn't a peach, Eureka," said Dorothy. "I only hope it wasn't poison."
"It was fine, Dorothy," called one of the piglets.
"We'll eat all we can find of them," said another.
"But WE mus'n't eat them," the Wizard warned the children, "or we too may become invisible, and lose each other. If we come across another of the strange fruit we must avoid it."
Calling the piglets to him he picked them all up, one by one, and put them away in his pocket; for although he could not see them he could feel them, and when he had buttoned his coat he knew they were safe for the present.
The travellers now resumed their walk toward the cottage, which they presently reached. It was a pretty place, with vines growing thickly over the broad front porch. The door stood open and a table was set in the front room, with four chairs drawn up to it. On the table were plates, knives and forks, and dishes of bread, meat and fruits. The meat was smoking hot and the knives and forks were performing strange antics and jumping here and there in quite a puzzling way. But not a single person appeared to be in the room.
"How funny!" exclaimed Dorothy, who with Zeb and the Wizard now stood in the doorway.
A peal of merry laughter answered her, and the knives and forks fell to the plates with a clatter. One of the chairs pushed back from the table, and this was so astonishing and mysterious that Dorothy was almost tempted to run away in fright.
"Here are strangers, mama!" cried the shrill and childish voice of some unseen person.
"So I see, my dear," answered another voice, soft and womanly.
"What do you want?" demanded a third voice, in a stern, gruff accent.
"Well, well!" said the Wizard; "are there really people in this room?"
"Of course," replied the man's voice.
"And--pardon me for the foolish question--but, are you all invisible?"
"Surely," the woman answered, repeating her low, rippling laughter. "Are you surprised that you are unable to see the people of Voe?"
"Why, yes," stammered the Wizard. "All the people I have ever met before were very plain to see."
"Where do you come from, then?" asked the woman, in a curious tone.
"We belong upon the face of the earth," explained the Wizard, "but recently, during an earthquake, we fell down a crack and landed in the Country of the Mangaboos."
"Dreadful creatures!" exclaimed the woman's voice. "I've heard of them."
"They walled us up in a mountain," continued the Wizard; "but we found there was a tunnel through to this side, so we came here. It is a beautiful place. What do you call it?"
"It is the Valley of Voe."
"Thank you. We have seen no people since we arrived, so we came to this house to enquire our way."
"Are you hungry?" asked the woman's voice.
"I could eat something," said Dorothy.
"So could I," added Zeb.
"But we do not wish to intrude, I assure you," the Wizard hastened to say.
"That's all right," returned the man's voice, more pleasantly than before. "You are welcome to what we have."
As he spoke the voice came so near to Zeb that he jumped back in alarm. Two childish voices laughed merrily at this action, and Dorothy was sure they were in no danger among such light-hearted folks, even if those folks couldn't be seen.
"What curious animal is that which is eating the grass on my lawn?" enquired the man's voice.
"That's Jim," said the girl. "He's a horse."
"What is he good for?" was the next question.
"He draws the buggy you see fastened to him, and we ride in the buggy instead of walking," she explained.
"Can he fight?" asked the man's voice.
"No! he can kick pretty hard with his heels, and bite a little; but Jim can't 'zactly fight," she replied.