Sky Island

Page 61

After breakfast was over, a procession was formed, headed by the Boolooroo, and they marched the prisoner through the palace until they came to the Room of the Great Knife. Invisible Trot followed soberly after them, still wondering what she could do to save her friend.

As soon as they entered the Room of the great Knife, the Boolooroo gave a yell of disappointment.

"What's become of Tiggle?" he shouted. "Where's Tiggle? Who has released Tiggle? Go at once, you dummies, and find him, or it will go hard with you!"

The frightened soldiers hurried away to find Tiggle, and Trot was well pleased because she knew Tiggle was by this time safely hidden.

The Boolooroo stamped up and down the room, muttering threats and declaring Cap'n Bill should be punished whether Tiggle was found or not, and while they waited, Trot took time to make an inspection of the place, which she now saw for the first time in broad daylight.

The Room of the Great Knife was high and big, and around it ran rows of benches for the spectators to sit upon. In one place at the head of the room was a raised platform for the royal family, with elegant throne-chairs for the King and Queen and six smaller but richly upholstered chairs for the Snubnosed Princesses. The poor Queen, by the way, was seldom seen, as she passed all her time playing solitaire with a deck that was one card short, hoping that before she had lived her entire six hundred years she would win the game. Therefore, her Majesty paid no attention to anyone and no one paid any attention to her.

In the center of the room stood the terrible knife that gave the place its name, a name dreaded by every inhabitant of the Blue City. The knife was built into a huge framework like a derrick, that reached to the ceiling, and it was so arranged that when the Boolooroo pulled a cord the great blade would drop down in its frame and neatly cut in two the person who stood under it. And in order that the slicing would be accurate, there was another frame to which the prisoner was tied so that he couldn't wiggle either way. This frame was on rollers so that it could be placed directly underneath the knife.

While Trot was observing this dreadful machine, the door opened and in walked the Six Snubnosed Princesses, all in a row and with their chins up as if they disdained everyone but themselves. They were magnificently dressed, and their blue hair was carefully arranged in huge towers upon their heads, with blue plumes stuck into the tops. These plumes waved gracefully in the air with every mincing step the Princesses took. Rich jewels of blue stones glittered upon their persons, and the royal ladies were fully as gorgeous as they were haughty and overbearing. They marched to their chairs and seated themselves to enjoy the cruel scene their father was about to enact, and Cap'n Bill bowed to them politely and said:

"Mornin', girls. Hope ye feel as well as ye look."

"Papa," exclaimed Turquoise angrily, "can you not prevent this vile Earth Being from addressing us? It is an insult to be spoken to by one about to be patched."

"Control yourselves, my dears," replied the Boolooroo. "The worst punishment I know how to inflict on anyone this prisoner is about to suffer. You'll see a very pretty patching, my royal daughters."

"When?" inquired Cobalt.

"When? As soon as the soldiers return with Tiggle," said he.

But just then in came the soldiers to say that Tiggle could not be found anywhere in the City; he had disappeared as mysteriously as had Ghip-Ghisizzle. Immediately, the Boolooroo flew into another towering rage.

"Villains!" he shouted. "Go out and arrest the first living thing you meet, and whoever it proves to be will be instantly patched to Cap'n Bill."

The Captain of the Guards hesitated to obey this order. "Suppose it's a friend?" he suggested.

"Friend!" roared the Boolooroo. "I haven't a friend in the country. Tell me, sir, do you know of anyone who is my friend?"

The Captain shook his head. "I can't think of anyone just now, your Spry and Flighty High and Mighty Majesty," he answered.

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