"The fools did not know how powerful I am."
"Then, since they are now helpless, why not release them and send them back to the earth's surface?"
"Because I hate 'em and mean to make 'em suffer for their invasion. But I'll make a bargain with you, sweet Polly. Remain here and live with me and I'll set all these people free. You shall be my daughter or my wife or my aunt or grandmother-- whichever you like--only stay here to brighten my gloomy kingdom and make me happy!"
Polychrome looked at him wonderingly. Then she turned to Shaggy and asked:
"Are you sure he hasn't seen the Love Magnet?"
"I'm positive," answered Shaggy. "But you seem to be something of a Love Magnet yourself, Polychrome."
She laughed again and said to Ruggedo: "Not even to rescue my friends would I live in your kingdom. Nor could I endure for long the society of such a wicked monster as you."
"You forget," retorted the King, scowling darkly, "that you also are in my power."
"Not so, Ruggedo. The Rainbow's Daughter is beyond the reach of your spite or malice."
"Seize her!" suddenly shouted the King, and General Guph sprang forward to obey. Polychrome stood quite still, yet when Guph attempted to clutch her his hands met in air, and now the Rainbow's Daughter was in another part of the room, as smiling and composed as before.
Several times Guph endeavored to capture her and Ruggedo even came down from his throne to assist his General; but never could they lay hands upon the lovely sky fairy, who flitted here and there with the swiftness of light and constantly defied them with her merry laughter as she evaded their efforts.
So after a time they abandoned the chase and Ruggedo returned to his throne and wiped the perspiration from his face with a finely-woven handkerchief of cloth-of-gold.
"Well," said Polychrome, "what do you intend to do now?"
"I'm going to have some fun, to repay me for all my bother," replied the Nome King. Then he said to Kaliko: "Summon the executioners."
Kaliko at once withdrew and presently returned with a score of nomes, all of whom were nearly as evil looking as their hated master. They bore great golden pincers, and prods of silver, and clamps and chains and various wicked-looking instruments, all made of precious metals and set with diamonds and rubies.
"Now, Pang," said Ruggedo, addressing the leader of the executioners, "fetch the Army of Oogaboo and their Queen from the pit and torture them here in my presence--as well as in the presence of their friends. It will be great sport."
"I hear Your Majesty, and I obey Your Majesty," answered Pang, and went with his nomes into the passage. In a few minutes he returned and bowed to Ruggedo.
"They're all gone," said he.
"Gone!" exclaimed the Nome King. "Gone where?"
"They left no address, Your Majesty; but they are not in the pit."
"Picks and puddles!" roared the King; "who took the cover off?"
"No one," said Pang. "The cover was there, but the prisoners were not under it."
"In that case," snarled the King, trying to control his disappointment, "go to the Slimy Cave and fetch hither the girl and the donkey. And while we are torturing them Kaliko must take a hundred nomes and search for the escaped prisoners--the Queen of Oogaboo and her officers. If he does not find them, I will torture Kaliko."
Kaliko went away looking sad and disturbed, for he knew the King was cruel and unjust enough to carry out this threat. Pang and the executioners also went away, in another direction, but when they came back Betsy Bobbin was not with them, nor was Hank.
"There is no one in the Slimy Cave, Your Majesty," reported Pang.
"Jumping jellycakes!" screamed the King. "Another escape? Are you sure you found the right cave?"
"There is but one Slimy Cave, and there is no one in it," returned Pang positively.
Ruggedo was beginning to be alarmed as well as angry. However, these disappointments but made him the more vindictive and he cast an evil look at the other prisoners and said:
"Never mind the girl and the donkey.