Shivers an' shakes ain't to my likin', an' this ice business ain't what it's sometimes cracked up to be. To be friz once is enough fer anybody, an' if I was a gal like you, I wouldn't even wear frizzes on my hair."
"You haven't any hair, Cap'n Bill," answered Trot, "so you needn't worry."
The queen and Clia had been talking together very earnestly. They now approached their earth friends, and Aquareine said:
"We have decided not to remain in this castle any longer. Zog's cruel designs upon our lives and happiness are becoming too dangerous for us to endure. The golden sword now bears a fairy charm, and by its aid I will cut a way through our enemies. Are you ready and willing to follow me?"
"Of course we are!" cried Trot.
"It don't seem 'zactly right to ask a lady to do the fightin'," remarked Cap'n Bill, "but magic ain't my strong p'int, and it seems to be yours, ma'am. So swim ahead, and we'll wiggle the same way you do, an' try to wiggle out of our troubles."
"If I chance to fail," said the Queen, "try not to blame me. I will do all in my power to provide for our escape, and I am willing to risk everything, because I well know that to remain here will mean to perish in the end."
"That's all right," said Trot with fine courage. "Let's have it over with."
"Then we will leave here at once," said Aquareine.
She approached the window of the room and with one blow of her golden sword shattered the thick pane of glass. The opening thus made was large enough for them to swim through if they were careful not to scrape against the broken points of glass. The queen went first, followed by Trot and Cap'n Bill, with Clia last of all.
And now they were in the vast dome in which the castle and gardens of Zog had been built. Around them was a clear stretch of water, and far above--full half a mile distant--was the opening in the roof guarded by the prince of the sea devils. The mermaid queen had determined to attack this monster. If she succeeded in destroying it with her golden sword, the little band of fugitives might then swim through the opening into the clear waters of the ocean. Although this prince of the sea devils was said to be big and wise and mighty, there was but one of him to fight; whereas, if they attempted to escape through any of the passages, they must encounter scores of such enemies.
"Swim straight for the opening in the dome!" cried Aquareine, and in answer to the command, the four whisked their glittering tails, waved their fins, and shot away through the water at full speed, their course slanting upward toward the top of the dome.
KING ANKO TO THE RESCUE
The great magician Zog never slept. He was always watchful and alert. Some strange power warned him that his prisoners were about to escape.
Scarcely had the four left the castle by the broken window when the monster stepped from a doorway below and saw them. Instantly he blew upon a golden whistle, and at the summons a band of wolf-fish appeared and dashed after the prisoners. These creatures swam so swiftly that soon they were between the fugitives and the dome, and then they turned and with wicked eyes and sharp fangs began a fierce attack upon the mermaids and the earth dwellers.
Trot was a little frightened at the evil looks of the sea wolves, whose heads were enormous, and whose jaws contained rows of curved and pointed teeth. But Aquareine advanced upon them with her golden sword, and every touch of the charmed weapon instantly killed an enemy, so that one by one the wolf-fish rolled over upon their backs and sank helplessly downward through the water, leaving the prisoners free to continue their way toward the opening in the dome.
Zog witnessed the destruction of his wolves and uttered a loud laugh that was terrible to hear. Then the dread monster determined to arrest the fugitives himself, and in order to do this he was forced to discover himself in all the horror of his awful form, a form he was so ashamed of and loathed so greatly that he always strove to keep it concealed, even from his own view.