Yes, it was a beautiful place; but enchantments lurked in every nook and corner, and she had not yet grown accustomed to the wizardries of these fairy countries, so different from the quiet and sensible common-places of her own native land.
Slowly she passed through several rooms until she came upon Tiktok, standing motionless. It really seemed, then, that she had found a friend in this mysterious palace, so she hastened to wind up the machine man's action and speech and thoughts.
"Thank you, Dor-oth-y," were his first words. "I have now one more guess to make."
"Oh, be very careful, Tiktok; won't you?" cried the girl.
"Yes. But the Nome King has us in his power, and he has set a trap for us. I fear we are all lost." he answered.
"I fear so, too," said Dorothy, sadly.
"If Smith & Tin-ker had giv-en me a guess-ing clock-work at-tach-ment," continued Tiktok, "I might have de-fied the Nome King. But my thoughts are plain and sim-ple, and are not of much use in this case."
"Do the best you can," said Dorothy, encouragingly, "and if you fail I will watch and see what shape you are changed into."
So Tiktok touched a yellow glass vase that had daisies painted on one side, and he spoke at the same time the word "Ev."
In a flash the machine man had disappeared, and although the girl looked quickly in every direction, she could not tell which of the many ornaments the room contained had a moment before been her faithful friend and servant.
So all she could do was to accept the hopeless task set her, and make her guesses and abide by the result.
"It can't hurt very much," she thought, "for I haven't heard any of them scream or cry out--not even the poor officers. Dear me! I wonder if Uncle Henry or Aunt Em will ever know I have become an orn'ment in the Nome King's palace, and must stand forever and ever in one place and look pretty--'cept when I'm moved to be dusted. It isn't the way I thought I'd turn out, at all; but I s'pose it can't be helped."
She walked through all the rooms once more, and examined with care all the objects they contained; but there were so many, they bewildered her, and she decided, after all, as Ozma had done, that it could be only guess work at the best, and that the chances were much against her guessing aright.
Timidly she touched an alabaster bowl and said: "Ev."
"That's one failure, anyhow," she thought. "But how am I to know which thing is enchanted, and which is not?"
Next she touched the image of a purple kitten that stood on the corner of a mantel, and as she pronounced the word "Ev" the kitten disappeared, and a pretty, fair-haired boy stood beside her. At the same time a bell rang somewhere in the distance, and as Dorothy started back, partly in surprise and partly in joy, the little one exclaimed:
"Where am I? And who are you? And what has happened to me?"
"Well, I declare!" said Dorothy. "I've really done it."
"Done what?" asked the boy.
"Saved myself from being an ornament," replied the girl, with a laugh, "and saved you from being forever a purple kitten."
"A purple kitten?" he repeated. "There IS no such thing."
"I know," she answered. "But there was, a minute ago. Don't you remember standing on a corner of the mantel?"
"Of course not. I am a Prince of Ev, and my name is Evring," the little one announced, proudly. "But my father, the King, sold my mother and all her children to the cruel ruler of the Nomes, and after that I remember nothing at all."
"A purple kitten can't be 'spected to remember, Evring," said Dorothy. "But now you are yourself again, and I'm going to try to save some of your brothers and sisters, and perhaps your mother, as well. So come with me."
She seized the child's hand and eagerly hurried here and there, trying to decide which object to choose next. The third guess was another failure, and so was the fourth and the fifth.
Little Evring could not imagine what she was doing, but he trotted along beside her very willingly, for he liked the new companion he had found.