The Princess was just about to order Eureka's head chopped off with the Tin Woodman's axe when that brilliant personage once more arose and addressed her.
"Your Highness," said he, "see how easy it is for a jury to be mistaken. The kitten could not have eaten your piglet--for here it is!"
He took off his funnel hat and from beneath it produced a tiny white piglet, which he held aloft that all might see it clearly.
Ozma was delighted and exclaimed, eagerly:
"Give me my pet, Nick Chopper!"
And all the people cheered and clapped their hands, rejoicing that the prisoner had escaped death and been proved to be innocent.
As the Princess held the white piglet in her arms and stroked its soft hair she said: "Let Eureka out of the cage, for she is no longer a prisoner, but our good friend. Where did you find my missing pet, Nick Chopper?"
"In a room of the palace," he answered.
"Justice," remarked the Scarecrow, with a sigh, "is a dangerous thing to meddle with. If you hadn't happened to find the piglet, Eureka would surely have been executed."
"But justice prevailed at the last," said Ozma, "for here is my pet, and Eureka is once more free."
"I refuse to be free," cried the kitten, in a sharp voice, "unless the Wizard can do his trick with eight piglets. If he can produce but seven, then this is not the piglet that was lost, but another one."
"Hush, Eureka!" warned the Wizard.
"Don't be foolish," advised the Tin Woodman, "or you may be sorry for it."
"The piglet that belonged to the Princess wore an emerald collar," said Eureka, loudly enough for all to hear.
"So it did!" exclaimed Ozma. "This cannot be the one the Wizard gave me."
"Of course not; he had nine of them, altogether," declared Eureka; "and I must say it was very stingy of him not to let me eat just a few. But now that this foolish trial is ended, I will tell you what really became of your pet piglet."
At this everyone in the Throne Room suddenly became quiet, and the kitten continued, in a calm, mocking tone of voice:
"I will confess that I intended to eat the little pig for my breakfast; so I crept into the room where it was kept while the Princess was dressing and hid myself under a chair. When Ozma went away she closed the door and left her pet on the table. At once I jumped up and told the piglet not to make a fuss, for he would be inside of me in half a second; but no one can teach one of these creatures to be reasonable. Instead of keeping still, so I could eat him comfortably, he trembled so with fear that he fell off the table into a big vase that was standing on the floor. The vase had a very small neck, and spread out at the top like a bowl. At first the piglet stuck in the neck of the vase and I thought I should get him, after all, but he wriggled himself through and fell down into the deep bottom part--and I suppose he's there yet."
All were astonished at this confession, and Ozma at once sent an officer to her room to fetch the vase. When he returned the Princess looked down the narrow neck of the big ornament and discovered her lost piglet, just as Eureka had said she would.
There was no way to get the creature out without breaking the vase, so the Tin Woodman smashed it with his axe and set the little prisoner free.
Then the crowd cheered lustily and Dorothy hugged the kitten in her arms and told her how delighted she was to know that she was innocent.
"But why didn't you tell us at first?" she asked.
"It would have spoiled the fun," replied the kitten, yawning.
Ozma gave the Wizard back the piglet he had so kindly allowed Nick Chopper to substitute for the lost one, and then she carried her own into the apartments of the palace where she lived. And now, the trial being over, the good citizens of the Emerald City scattered to their homes, well content with the day's amusement.
20. Zeb Returns to the Ranch
Eureka was much surprised to find herself in disgrace; but she was, in spite of the fact that she had not eaten the piglet.