by Damon Z. Pythias


"How much longer until the Cook comes back?" asked Mandy, as she opened the stove door with one hand, placed a kettle of hot water on a burner with another hand, turned on the sink with yet another hand, held a pot with a fifth hand, and fixed her hair with her two remaining hands.

"Well," answered a page-boy, "he said he'd be back by the twenty-seventh, and today is the twentieth, so I s'pose it'll be another week."

"A week? Oh, good goats and gravy! Which reminds me, I need to start the gravy."

Now, Mandy was a seven-armed goat girl from Mount Mern, who had once ridden to Keretaria on a stone. And Keretaria, as you may know, is a small Kingdom in the blue Munchkin Country of Oz, not far north of Lake Orizon. When Mandy had arrived in Keretaria, King Kerry was a captive of the evil Wizard of Wutz, but the goat girl, with the aid of Nox, the Royal Ox of the Kingdom, rescued the young Ruler, and, from that point on, the girl had lived in the Castle of Keretaria, where she was called "Handy Mandy," and was very popular with almost everyone. About two weeks before the beginning of this story, Kerry's Royal Cook had left the domain to visit a cousin in nearby Regalia, and Mandy, being the only other castle-dweller who could cook, took over the kitchen.

The interim cook had soon prepared a dinner of roast beef, gravy, mashed potatoes, string-beans, applesauce, and hot herbal tea, and ten pages brought the food to the King's table. While dinner was in progress, Mandy hurried over to the Royal Stable, where Nox was eating his own supper.

"Nox, this cooking is killing me!" complained Handy Mandy to the Royal Ox.

"It can't be killing you," replied Nox. "Surely you know that nobody in Oz can die."

"You know what I mean, and don't call me Shirley. I think I need a vacation."

"But what will the palace people eat? You know very well you're the only person around here who can cook."

"Oh, let them eat cake!" laughed Mandy. "But seriously, it's not hard to find a meal in Oz. There are plenty of sandwich trees around here, and I'm sure that someone in the castle will be able to heat them up."

"Where were you thinking of going?"

"Maybe to the Sapphire City, to visit King Cheeriobed and Queen Orin. They told us we could visit them anytime, remember?"

"We? So you're planning on MY coming along?"

"Do you think that I'd go without you, Old Toggins?"

"Well, all right. I could use a vacation myself."

So, as soon as Nox had finished eating, Mandy mounted the ox, and the two of them set out toward the south. Soon, they came to the great Munchkin River. On the other side of this river towered the Munchkin Mountains, and beyond these mountains, as both of the travellers knew quite well, were the salty blue Lake of Orizon, and the beautiful Sapphire City, the capital of Munchkinland.

"How are we going to cross this river?" inquired the Royal Ox.

"There should be a bridge somewhere around here," was the goat girl's reply.

The girl and the ox searched the area for a bridge, but found no sign of one. Finally, Mandy exclaimed, "Now I remember! The bridge is invisible!"

"Invisible? By my hide and horns, why do they always have to make these things so difficult?"

"Well, I should think you'd be used to it. You've lived in Oz longer than I have, dear-ear."

"No matter how long you live in Oz, you can never really get used to it."

Handy Mandy was already looking for the bridge, by feeling around with her foot, and she soon found it. The girl from Mount Mern hurried along the invisible structure, followed more slowly by the Royal Ox. The two crossed the bridge in safety, but Nox grumbled, "Those invisible bridges are dangerous! No one will know when they need repairs until it's too late."

"We got across, didn't we?" pointed out the ox's more optimistic companion. "My-y, look at this cave."

"Cave? Don't tell me you want to explore some cave. You know I don't like underground places."

But the impulsive Mernite had already entered the dark cave, the mouth of which stood in the side of one of the Munchkin Mountains, and the Royal Ox followed her, grumbling the whole way. However, Nox's grumbling suddenly stopped, and Mandy turned around to see what had happened to her friend. Although the cave was dark, there could be no doubt of the fact that Nox had disappeared.

"Nox! Nox!" called the goat girl. "Where are you, Old Toggins? Where in Oz did you get to?"

There was no reply, and Mandy decided that her companion must have been enchanted. This was entirely possible in the Land of Oz, where many wicked witches and black-hearted sorcerors dwell, and the mountains were often the favorite haunts of these magicians.

"My-y, it looks like I'll have to go to the Emerald City," said the girl out loud.

"No, there is no need for that," stated a strange voice. "Only the Three Jewels of Munchkenny can break the enchantment on the Royal Ox."

"Who said that?"

"I did." Suddenly, a large torch lit up, and many smaller ones followed suit, allowing Mandy to see the place quite plainly. The cavern contained several chairs, a blue marble table, and a book-shelf. On the shelf were a few old books bound in blue leather, and a small marble ox with golden horns.

"Where am I?" inquired the goat girl.

"You are in the cave formerly inhabited by Wunchie, a Wicked Witch. I am Wunchie's Master Torch."

The voice did seem to be coming from the largest torch, so Mandy asked this light source, "What happened to Nox?"

"He's on the shelf."

"Do you mean that that statue is Nox?"

"Yes. Wunchie did not want any of the Royal Oxen of Keretaria to enter her cave, so she cast an spell on the entrance. I never knew exactly what the enchantment would do, but, as soon as that statuette appeared on the shelf, I knew that it was the Royal Ox. A very interesting spell. Blue magic, I believe, and only the Three Jewels of Munchkenny can break it."

"Yes, you said that before. What in Oz are the Three Jewels of Munchkenny?"

"Well, several centuries ago, the King of the Munchkins wore a crown containing these three jewels, which were given him by a wizard named Wam. But Wunchie stole the crown, and she hid the jewels in three distant locations."

"Oh, dear-ear. If they're in three distant locations, however in ever am I going to find them?"

"Actually, it won't be all that hard. Wunchie has a transportation device in the closet, and it can take you to the locations of the jewels."

"And how will I recognize the jewels when I do find them?"

"Well," said the Torch contemplatively, "all three of them are blue. Three different shades of blue, if I remember correctly. Also, they are all marked with the Oz symbol, and a picture of the King's head."

"The King's head?"

"Yes, it looks sort of like this." The Master Torch projected the image of a King's head on the far wall. It resembled that of King Cheeriobed, which was not surprising, considering that this Ruler was an ancestor of Cheeriobed.

"All right, I'll probably recognize them. Now, where is that closet you mentioned?"

"Through the door." And just as the Master said this, a door appeared on the southern side of the cavern. The Goat Girl rushed over to the portal, opened it, and saw an extremely untidy closet.

"Oh, my-y! Wunchie wasn't much of a house-keeper, was she?" observed Mandy.

"Well, no, she wasn't. Now, the transportation device that you need should be hanging on the door."

A long, blue cloak, a white dress, and a blue marble ring, which resembled a hula hoop, hung from the door. When Mandy doubtfully removed the hoop from its place, the Torch exclaimed, "Yes! That's it!"

"This? And how does one work this thing?"

"Just spin it around on your hips, and tell it where you want to go."

So the girl placed the device around her waist, and attempted to spin it around. However, Mandy had never used a hula hoop before, and the ring fell to the cave floor. She tried again, and this time, she was very successful. As she waved her hips, the Goat Girl commanded, "Take me to the location of the first of the Three Jewels of Munchkenny!"

The magical hoop did its work, sending Mandy to the inside of a darkened building, where many odd items were displayed in glass cases. These items included swords, spears, ancient treasure chests, and large gems.

"Why, it's a museum," decided the Goat Girl. "And that must be the jewel I want!"

Although the room was dark, one blue jewel shone with a light of its own. Mandy examined the gem, and found that it looked just as the Master Torch had described it. So she whacked the glass with her iron hand. The protective case was strong, but it yielded to Mandy's iron-fisted blow. However, before the girl could grab the gem, the lights turned on, a siren began sounding, and a short, stout security guard entered the room.

"Don't move, thief!" commanded the guard, pointing a silver gun at the Goat Girl.

Handy Mandy did not obey the officer. Instead, she did the first thing that came to her mind. She hurled Wunchie's hoop at the man. Luckily, Mandy had often played quoits in Keretaria, and the ring hit its target. The guard's arms became pinned to his sides, and he dropped the gun. While the man was rolling on the floor, trying in vain to remove the hoop, Mandy tapped him on the head with her iron hand, causing him to lose all consciousness.

Unfortunately for the Goat Girl, more guards soon ran toward her. Without really thinking, Mandy picked up the stout guard's weapon, and pulled the trigger. A cloud of gas was released from the gun, and this cloud flew over the heads of the patrollers, sending them all into deep slumber. When a third group of soldiers came into the chamber, the Mernite attempted to repeat the process, but the gas gun was empty, and Mandy's adversaries soon overpowered her, and tied her to a chair.

"Why, just look at the girl!" shouted one of the guards. "She's a freak!"

"I am NOT a freak, you old Willagooper!" objected Handy Mandy. "I am a goat girl from the Kingdom of Keretaria."

"Keretaria? Never heard of it! But you won't be going back there! You are now museum property."

"Why-y, that's kidnapping, you rascal!"

"No, actually, it isn't," argued another guard calmly. "You attempted to steal the largest and rarest gem in the museum, and we have decided to put you on display, rather than send you to jail."

"But it isn't your gem! It is the property of the Royal Family of the Munchkins, wickedly stolen by Wunchie the Witch."

"I beg to differ with you. The Curator paid a fair price for the jewel."

"Yes," agreed a third guard. "It cost him half his Kingdom!"

"Kingdom? You mean to say the Curator is also a King?"

"Quite correct, my pretty young freak. And we'll just go ask him about the best place to display you."

All of the conscious guards but one left the room. The remaining man marched back and forth in front of Mandy's chair. The Goat Girl attempted to loosen the ropes, and managed to free the arm with her wooden hand at the end of it. With this hand, Mandy rummaged in her pockets, not really expecting to find anything. Fortunately, however, she did find something. The Mernite extracted a magical boomerang, which the Wizard of Oz had given to her on her last birthday, from her pocket, told it to retrieve the Jewel of Munchkenny, and threw the magical device toward the broken display case. Although her aim was rather poor, the boomerang caught the gem and brought it right to the Goat Girl's hand. Mandy used the blue jewel's sharp point to cut the ropes, and, when she had finished with this task, she leapt up from the chair and ran over to the short guard, who still wore the magical hoop around his waist.

While Handy Mandy was removing the hoop, the conscious soldier was pointing and firing his gun. Fortunately for the Mernite, the weak sleeping gas that was released took some time to take effect. Mandy was able to get the hoop to transport her to the site of the next Jewel of Munchkenny before she dozed off.

When Mandy awakened in the morning, it was in a quite different location. Green grass and beautiful wild-flowers surrounded her, and a tall mountain, with a white cottage at its foot, stood not far to the east. To the southwest lay a pretty city of domed houses.

"My-y, where am I now?" wondered Mandy. "It can't be Oz, because this place doesn't fit in with any of the Ozian color schemes. But I'm out of that horrid museum, and the second jewel should be somewhere around here. Before I look for it, though, I'd better find some breakfast. Why, I'm as hungry as a goat!"

At first, the Goat Girl considered travelling to the town, but something about the mountain reminded her of her old home, Mount Mern, so she pointed her steps toward the little cottage.

As the girl came closer to this house, she noticed a pasture containing a flock of goats in the yard. Upon seeing this, she became anxious to meet the owner of the cottage, since she knew that this person had something in common with her.

Mandy knocked on the door of the cottage, and it was soon answered by a pleasant young lady with red hair. This lady bade Mandy a good morning, and invited her to come into the house for a cup of tea.

After Mandy's hostess had poured the tea, she looked into the cup, and said, "You are on some kind of quest, are you not?"

"How did you know?" asked Mandy suspiciously.

"Why, I can read fortunes in tea leaves. I'm known around here as the Seeress of Saucerville."

"Is Saucerville that town to the southwest of here?" questioned Handy Mandy, as she sipped her tea.

"Yes. You mean you've never heard of Saucerville?"

Mandy shook her head, and her hostess inquired, "Where are you from, anyway?"

"Why, I live in the Kingdom of Keretaria, which is in the northern Munchkin Country of Oz," was the reply.

"Oz? Why, I've read a great deal about Oz. I don't remember reading about the Kingdom of Keretaria, though."

"Well, Oz is a big place, and Keretaria isn't a very important Oz Kingdom. But it's a nice place to live, and a wonderful place to raise goats."

"What? Do you raise goats?"

"Oh, absolutely! I've been taking care of a flock of goats for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was orphaned on Mount Mern, to the east of Oz."

"You mean you're an orphan, too? Why, it seems we have quite a bit in common, Miss-"

"Mandy is my name, but my friends call me Handy Mandy, because of my seven hands. Everyone on Mount Mern has seven arms, but most Ozites have only two."

"Well, we only have two, here in Whatalow Valley, but it seems that it would be quite useful to have seven."

"Well, it is useful. By the way, what's your name?"

"Oh, I'm Sally. My husband, Questor, works in the mill at the brook near here. Are you married?"

"No, I'm not. Oh, and I haven't eaten since yesterday. Do you have anything I could eat?"

"How about some scrambled eggs?"

Mandy accepted this offer, and, while Sally prepared the eggs, the Mernite told about her life on Mount Mern, how she first came to Oz, the Kingdom of Keretaria, and her current quest for the Jewels of Munchkenny.

"So one of these jewels is in Whatalow Valley? Well, I'm sure I haven't seen it. We can go to town after breakfast and ask the King to help us find it," suggested Sally.

Both girls partook of the wonderful breakfast of eggs, bacon, orange juice, and tea that the Seeress had prepared. Sally explained that she had been orphaned, and, like Mandy, had raised a flock of goats. The Whatalower had not had anywhere near as many adventures as the Mernite had, but she did tell the story of how she met her husband.

Just as Sally and Mandy were ready to leave the cottage, there was a knock at the door. Sally opened her front door, revealing an old salesman with a cart full of odds and ends.

"Would either of you ladies be interested in buying something?" asked the man.

Mandy and Sally promptly stepped out of the house, and looked over the merchant's goods. They included various clocks, kitchen utensils, necklaces, dresses, and daggers. But the item that interested Mandy the most was a shiny blue stone.

"Ah, that one's a beauty, ain't it?" said the merchant, as the Mernite examined the rock. "I just found it today, in a tree."

"What would you want for this stone?" inquired Mandy.

"Well, I don't know..."

"What about some herbs and cheese?" offered Sally.

"No, I don't deal in foodstuffs. They're likely to perish on my long journeys. But I would like that hula hoop."

"Hula hoop? Oh, do you mean this?" asked Mandy, holding out Wunchie's magical hoop.

"Yes, that."

Mandy thought for a few minutes. She had an opportunity to procure the second Jewel of Munchkenny, but without the hoop, she might not be able to return to her home. She finally decided to make the trade, and, after the merchant left, Sally inquired, "Without that magical hula hoop, or whatever he called it, how are you going to get back to your home?"

"I really don't know," admitted Mandy, "but there must be some way to get there, and besides, I now have the second Jewel!"

The Mernite held both gems up so that Sally could see them. The Seeress stated that the color of the second was lighter than that of the first.

"Yes, the Master Torch told me that they would be different shades of blue," said Mandy, as she absently tapped the stones together. "But they both-"

Mandy did not get to finish her sentence, as Sally interrupted her with a loud scream. When the Mernite asked the Seeress what the matter was, Sally told her friend that they were in a completely different place.

"Oh, my goats and goodness, we are in a different place!" exclaimed Mandy. "We're on a beach, and I think that's the Nonestic Ocean. But however did we get here?"

"I don't know, but I think it happened when you tapped those jewels together," replied Sally.

"My-y, I guess these jewels have more power than I thought. But now I know where we are! And neither of us need to worry, because there's the Castle of the Red Jinn!"

As Sally looked at the tall red palace at which Mandy was pointing, she asked, "Who is the Red Jinn?"

"Why, he's the Wizard of Ev, and his red magic can easily help me find the remaining jewel, and send you back to your valley."

As the two ladies hurried toward the castle, Handy Mandy explained, "I've never actually been to this castle, but I've seen pictures of it, so I recognized it at once."

"What's it made of?"

"Glass. Magically reinforced red glass."

"Glass? Are all the buildings in Oz as odd as this one?"

"Some of them are odder, actually. But we're not really in Oz right now. We're in Ev, which lies to the northwest of Oz."

By this time, Mandy and Sally had reached the hundred steps leading to the Red Jinn's front doors. As the girls rushed up the stairs, through the palace doors, which were opened by a dark-skinned servant, and down the long hallway leading to the Jinn's throne, Mandy explained to Sally about the Wizard of Ev, but these explanations did not prepare the Seeress for what she actually saw. The figure seated on the throne seemed to be a red jar with arms, legs, and a head. This jarred wizard, whose name was Jinnicky, pointed a finger at Mandy and merrily said, "I remember you! I met you at Ozma's birthday party. Your name is-"

"Mandy, Your Highness," replied the Mernite. "Handy Mandy, from Keretaria."

"Ah, yes. And who is this? Your sister?"

"Sister? My-y, what a ridiculous idea! Why, I have seven arms and she only has two!"

"Just the same, you look like you're related. Would you mind if I ran some tests?"

"Tests? Will they be painful?"

"Oh, no, no, not at all! Har har!" And, after Mandy and Sally consented, the Jinn clapped his hands twice, and told the servant who entered the room to fetch his Jinnglass. The servant ran to one of Jinnicky's store-rooms, but soon returned with an odd device. It looked like two telescopes attached to each other, with a dial at the top, and a pair of spectacles attached to the red-tinted lenses. There was a switch on top of each telescope, and the Jinn fiddled with the switches and the dial before he held the Jinnglass up to his eyes.

"Yes, you two have the same mother, but different fathers," announced the wizard, after staring intently at the pair of girls for five minutes. "I can't tell anything besides that, but you two are half-sisters."

"Are you sure, Jinnicky?" asked Handy Mandy.

"What? Are you doubting my magical powers?" inquired the Jinn, in mock anger.

"Oh, no, of course not!" And Mandy promptly used all seven of her arms to embrace her newly-found sibling. Sally returned the embrace, and Jinnicky began to laugh and cry at once.

"Oh, har har, what a joyful reunion you must be having," said the wizard, as he wiped his face with a red silk handkerchief.

"Would you like to live in Keretaria with me?" offered Mandy. "I'm sure your goats would love to meet mine."

"I don't know," said Sally. "I've grown rather fond of Whatalow Valley, but I'd love to live in Oz, especially with my dear long-lost sister."

"Well, you think about it, dear-ear. Ozma or Jinnicky can transport you, your husband, and your goats to Oz whenever you want to move there."

"Oh, thank you, Mandy. And thank you, Jinnicky."

"Yes, thank you, Jinnicky."

"Oh, har har har, don't mention it! Don't mention it!" said the Red Jinn.

When everyone had calmed down somewhat, the Jinn asked, "By the way, why did you come to my castle?"

"Oh, well, I was looking for the last Jewel of Munchkenny," replied Mandy.

"Jewel of Munchkenny? What does it look like?"

Handy Mandy explained to Jinnicky how the jewels looked, and why she needed to find them, while showing him the other two gems. She said, "I was wondering if you could lend me your Looking Glasses to look for the jewel."

"Oh, there's no need of that!" Jinnicky summoned the servant who had brought the Jinnglass, and told this nimble little man to fetch the blue jewel. When the servant returned with the last Jewel of Munchkenny, the Jinn explained how one of his miners had discovered it in a ruby mine.

"When I looked at it, I knew it belonged in Oz, and I planned to bring it there on my next trip. And I believe I will!"

"But I need the jewel now!" objected Mandy.

"Oh, of course! But I'm going to travel to Oz with you, if you don't mind."

Mandy did not mind, so she, Jinnicky, and Sally crowded into the Jinn's Jinrikisha, which flew them swiftly across the Deadly Desert and most of Oz, eventually coming to a stop just outside of Wunchie's cave, which Mandy pointed out to him.

When the three travellers entered the cavern, the torches promptly lit up. The Master Torch asked, "Did you find the Jewels of Munchkenny?"

"Yes, we did," replied Mandy.

Jinnicky threw all three jewels into the air. As they came down, he shouted, "I command the Royal Ox of Keretaria to return to his true form!" He then nimbly caught the magical stones.

Nox immediately appeared at the mouth of the cave, and he continued his grumbling. Then, when he noticed that Mandy was accompanied by the Seeress and the Red Jinn, he began asking numerous questions, which Mandy, Sally, Jinnicky, and even the Master Torch answered.

Handy Mandy, the Seeress of Saucerville, Jinnicky, and Nox all visited the King and Queen of the Munchkins, and these Rulers were extremely interested in all of Mandy's odd adventures. The Jinn presented Cheeriobed with the Three Jewels of Munchkenny, and the King promised to keep them safe, in case they were ever needed in the future.

The four travellers then journeyed to the Emerald City, where Mandy introduced Sally to many of her famous friends. Ozma gave her permission for the Seeress to live in Oz, and she and the Wizard of Oz managed to send Sally's cottage and goats, as well as Questor and his mill, to Keretaria. And Mandy and Sally eventually found out the story of their mother, with some help from Glinda the Good. If I find out this story, I may be able to tell it to you at some time. But for now, it is:





Handy Mandy and Nox the Ox were introduced in Handy Mandy in Oz. When I read a short story by Ruth Plumly Thompson, entitled "Seeress of Saucerville," I was struck by the resemblance between Handy Mandy and Sally the Seeress. This tale tells of the reason for this similarity. It also introduces the Three Jewels of Munchkenny, given so long ago to the original King of the Munchkins by the legendary wizard Wam, but later stolen by his perennial enemy Wunchie. The Jewels would later play a part in the tale of Prince Trelnor, and will become even more prominent in the story of "The Golden Hammer," if I ever get around to finishing it.

Back to Oz Tales