But the travellers were obliged to rest, and while they were sitting on the rocky floor the Wizard felt in his pocket and brought out the nine tiny piglets. To his delight they were now plainly visible, which proved that they had passed beyond the influence of the magical Valley of Voe.
"Why, we can see each other again!" cried one, joyfully.
"Yes," sighed Eureka; "and I also can see you again, and the sight makes me dreadfully hungry. Please, Mr. Wizard, may I eat just one of the fat little piglets? You'd never miss ONE of them, I'm sure!"
"What a horrid, savage beast!" exclaimed a piglet; "and after we've been such good friends, too, and played with one another!"
"When I'm not hungry, I love to play with you all," said the kitten, demurely; "but when my stomach is empty it seems that nothing would fill it so nicely as a fat piglet."
"And we trusted you so!" said another of the nine, reproachfully.
"And thought you were respectable!" said another.
"It seems we were mistaken," declared a third, looking at the kitten timorously, "no one with such murderous desires should belong to our party, I'm sure."
"You see, Eureka," remarked Dorothy, reprovingly, "you are making yourself disliked. There are certain things proper for a kitten to eat; but I never heard of a kitten eating a pig, under ANY cir'stances."
"Did you ever see such little pigs before?" asked the kitten. "They are no bigger than mice, and I'm sure mice are proper for me to eat."
"It isn't the bigness, dear; its the variety," replied the girl. "These are Mr. Wizard's pets, just as you are my pet, and it wouldn't be any more proper for you to eat them than it would be for Jim to eat you."
"And that's just what I shall do if you don't let those little balls of pork alone," said Jim, glaring at the kitten with his round, big eyes. "If you injure any one of them I'll chew you up instantly."
The kitten looked at the horse thoughtfully, as if trying to decide whether he meant it or not.
"In that case," she said, "I'll leave them alone. You haven't many teeth left, Jim, but the few you have are sharp enough to make me shudder. So the piglets will be perfectly safe, hereafter, as far as I am concerned."
"That is right, Eureka," remarked the Wizard, earnestly. "Let us all be a happy family and love one another."
Eureka yawned and stretched herself.
"I've always loved the piglets," she said; "but they don't love me."
"No one can love a person he's afraid of," asserted Dorothy. "If you behave, and don't scare the little pigs, I'm sure they'll grow very fond of you."
The Wizard now put the nine tiny ones back into his pocket and the journey was resumed.
"We must be pretty near the top, now," said the boy, as they climbed wearily up the dark, winding stairway.
"The Country of the Gurgles can't be far from the top of the earth," remarked Dorothy. "It isn't very nice down here. I'd like to get home again, I'm sure."
No one replied to this, because they found they needed all their breath for the climb. The stairs had become narrower and Zeb and the Wizard often had to help Jim pull the buggy from one step to another, or keep it from jamming against the rocky walls.
At last, however, a dim light appeared ahead of them, which grew clearer and stronger as they advanced.
"Thank goodness we're nearly there!" panted the little Wizard.
Jim, who was in advance, saw the last stair before him and stuck his head above the rocky sides of the stairway. Then he halted, ducked down and began to back up, so that he nearly fell with the buggy onto the others.
"Let's go down again!" he said, in his hoarse voice.
"Nonsense!" snapped the tired Wizard. "What's the matter with you, old man?"
"Everything," grumbled the horse. "I've taken a look at this place, and it's no fit country for real creatures to go to. Everything's dead, up there--no flesh or blood or growing thing anywhere."
"Never mind;. we can't turn back," said Dorothy; "and we don't intend to stay there, anyhow."
"It's dangerous," growled Jim, in a stubborn tone.