THE PROSECUTOR OF OZ
By Don Reynolds
THE PROSECUTOR OF OZ
By Don Reynolds
Chapter One: Murder Most Foul
The Wogglebug had his back to the lecture hall scribbling equations on the blackboard simultaneously with all four hands. "Now according to Professor Einstein's new Theory of Relativity, which he hasn't published yet, there is no absolute time. Time moves at different speeds relative to the speed and acceleration of the observer relative to the speed of light. Now that . . ."
"Professor Wogglebug!" A pretty young girl with a green dress and apron stood in the doorway. "Princess Ozma sent me to tell you that we have visitors from the outside world! She would like you to come to the palace and meet them!"
Professor Wogglebug's eyes rose in surprise. "Visitors! That is unusual! My sweet Miss Jamb, tell Ozma I'll be there as soon as I finish explaining Relativity to my class."
"It's quite alright sir!" A young Quadling lad on the front row spoke out. "None of us has the slightest idea of what you're talking about anyway."
"My brain's full!" A Winkie girl moaned clutching her head with both hands.
"Hmm," The Wogglebug looked thoughtful. "Professor Einstein has prepared us a grand intellectual repast but perhaps it can be digested much better with smaller bites. Very well, you may all go out to the Ozball field. And while you're playing, contemplate how Newton's laws of motion and universal gravity affect the movement and trajectory of the ball. Class dismissed!"
The Wogglebug removed his academic robes revealing a brightly colored red, orange, blue and green suit. He replaced his morterboard with a bright yellow top hat and the two of them set off to the city gates. "How do you get all the latest scientific information from the outside world?" Jellia asked the Wogglebug as they walked to the Palace together.
"On a recent trip to the United States, Glinda was able to obtain the services of a bookdealer to act as my agent. For a few small, commonplace gems he procures the latest books and sends them to me."
"How very clever!" she exclaimed.
"Yes it is." The Wogglebug stated proudly. "Remarkably clever! I have a vulture friend named Wattleneck who flies back and forth on a regular basis. I usually have no idea what new treasure he will bring me."
"A vulture! Ugh!" Jellia wrinkled her nose.
Professor Wogglebug frowned at her. "Now we shouldn't be bigoted. All creatures were put on Earth for a reason. Vultures are splendid creatures who can stay aloft for hours with but one flap of their wings! They are remarkably strong and can cover vast distances. We shouldn't despise a creature for just being what they are! Why our friend, Jack Pumpkinhead is remarkably stupid. He doesn't know if the earth goes around the sun or if the sun goes around the earth and I don't believe he cares. He's certainly not someone I would want to discuss deep matters of science and philosophy. But he's a good, loyal fellow and a jolly companion. I enjoy his company and I count myself lucky to have him as a friend."
When they entered the palace the Wogglebug stopped in front of a mirror to make sure his clothing was straight and clean. He straightened his bow tie and brushed some lint off his lapel. As he approached the door he could see the small party within. Of course he recognized little Dorothy Gale, there was no sign of Toto but Dorothy did have a small white cat. He also saw a young man he didn't recognize with a horse. There were no horses in Oz but he had seen thousands of them in America, this one was older than most. He then spotted the older man and his eyes narrowed. It couldn't be, what was he doing here?
The boy looked startled when the Wogglebug walked in but Princess Ozma just smiled. "This is my friend Mr. H. M. Wogglebug T.E., who assisted me one time when I was in great distress, and is now the Dean of the Royal College of Athletic Science."
"Ah," said the Wizard; "I'm pleased to meet so distinguished a personage." He extended his hand to the Wogglebug.
The Wogglebug ignored the hand. "H. M.," he said pompously, 'means Highly Magnified; and T. E. means Thoroughly Educated. I am, in reality, a very big bug and doubtless the most intelligent being in all this broad domain."
"How well you disguise it," said the Wizard, "But I don't doubt your word in the least." The Wogglebug detected a tone of sarcasm in his voice.
"Nobody doubts it, sir," the Wogglebug replied. He didn't want to keep talking to this horrible man, didn't want to stay in his presence. How could Ozma just sit there smiling through all this? Couldn't she remember who he was? What he did? He turned away and walked to a chair in the corner pulling a small book out of his pocket. Father Gregor Mendel would prove a much better companion and there were a few areas of his Laws of Genetic Inheritance that he wanted to brush up on. The conversation in the room carried on but the Wogglebug paid no attention as he read the book. With his mind's eye he could see himself in the garden of an Augustinian monastery in far away Austria. Dressed casually with his sleeves rolled up he was helping Brother Gregor take detailed, meticulous notes on his pea plants as the two of them tried to unravel the secrets of nature.
The next day the Wogglebug marched in the grand parade leading a group of his students dressed in identical striped sweaters. After the parade, Professor Wogglebug crowded into the throne room to see the Wizard perform his tricks. The Wogglebug had seen magicians perform in America and knew they had no more magic powers than Dorothy's cat. Some of them were remarkably clever and the Wizard was one of the clever ones. The first thing he did was pull a tiny pig out of his hat. Professor Wogglebug was astonished. He'd never seen a pig that small in either America or Oz and he wondered where the Wizard had found it. He watched the Wizard as he seemed to pull it apart making two piglets. He kept repeating the process until there were nine little piglets running around on the floor.
There was great applause to this trick but the Wogglebug kept all four arms crossed. He also noticed that Dorothy's cat was staring at the piglets with an intense, hungry look. The Wizard then picked up the tiny piglets one at a time and pushed them together until they all disappeared.
"Oh, I'm so sorry they're gone!" Ozma exclaimed. "I would love to have one for a pet!"
The Wizard smiled at her. "For you my queen, anything!" He then apparently pulled a piglet out of Ozma's hair and presented it to her.
"Oh, isn't he darling!" she exclaimed. "I'll make him a collar studded with emeralds and keep him near me so he'll always be around to amuse me!"
The Wogglebug stuck around to see the rest of the magic show but left for the college before the athletic games started. He later heard that Jim the cab horse lost a horse race to the Sawhorse and behaved in a beastly manner afterwards.
One morning a few days later Jellia Jamb strode into the halls of the College of Athletic Science. She stopped one of the students. "Do you know where Professor Wogglebug is?"
The young man eyed the pretty young girl in the green apron and grinned sheepishly. "Down that hall, last door on the right. I can escort you if you like."
"It's quite all right. I'm sure I can find him. Thank you." She smiled at him and went down the hall to the door. She knocked on it.
"Come on in!"
She opened the door only to find Professor Wogglebug stripped to the waist, scrubbing a huge, ugly bird in a large gold tub of soapy water. The Wogglebug smiled at her.
"Hello Jellia, I'd like to introduce you to my good friend Wattleneck the vulture."
The horrible looking bird turned his large featherless head at her and looked her up and down. "Please ta meetcha!" he said in a hoarse, raspy voice.
"Wattleneck just arrived with some new books." The Wogglebug nodded at a cloth bag on a table with a couple of paper books stacked on top of it. The title of the top one read Basic Principles of Radio. The word meant nothing to her but the Wogglebug knew all kinds of strange words.
"Mr. Castle, my agent, cuts the covers off to save on weight. But we have several excellent bookbinders here. As for Mr. Wattleneck, like most vultures he's usually filthy and covered with parasites due to the nature of his diet. He doesn't like it anymore than anyone else would so I always give him a good antiseptic bath whenever he arrives."
Jellia hesitated. She considered Wattleneck to be one of the most repulsive creatures she'd ever met but Mr. Wogglebug seemed to consider him to be a friend and the reason she became a maid in the first place was because she loved to clean. She rolled her sleeves up, picked up a scrub brush and lifted
Wattleneck's right wing to scrub underneath it. "Ozma sent me. Dorothy's kitten, Eureka, ate Ozma's piglet. There's going to be a trial."
"Hmm," The Wogglebug looked thoughtful as he cleaned some old blood off the top of Wattleneck's head. "We'll have to create a judicial system from scratch. What can you tell me about the case."
"This morning Ozma sent me into her boudoir to get her piglet. When I opened the door, Eureka crept out and ran up the stairs. I looked all over the room but couldn't find the piglet. When I told Ozma she and Dorothy also searched the room and found no trace of it. Ozma was very angry and Dorothy was very upset."
She began cleaning Wattleneck's stomach and he grunted in happiness. "Dorothy sent me to get Eureka. She was hiding under Dorothy's bed and threatened to scratch my eyes out if I touched her. Dorothy had to threaten to send her to the Gargoyle country to get her out. The kitten acted very rudely and said there was no evidence of the crime and that Ozma was just guessing that she did it. Ozma ordered the kitten locked up and sent me here to find you. There will be a trial at three o'clock this afternoon."
The Wogglebug glanced up at the clock. "We should be finished here in about fifteen minutes or so. Mr. Wattleneck, I apologize that we won't have time for our usual tea and chat."
"'S'okay." He rasped.
Forty five minutes later the Wogglebug entered the Royal Library of Oz. It was a familiar place that he felt very comfortable in. Must be the reason Ozma chose to meet him here he mused. He walked on the highly polished marble floor between high shelves filled with books. Ahead of him he saw Princess Ozma sitting at a large cherry-wood table with a large silver bowl of fruit in the center of it.
Professor Wogglebug bowed to her then took a seat at her right hand side. His left eye fixed on her as his right eye locked independently on the bowl of fruit. "May I?"
Ozma nodded, "Yes, of course." She told the Wogglebug who was already popping a grape into his mouth.
"Weren't you rather rude to our visitors the other day?"
The Wogglebug glanced over at her. "Was I?"
"You came in and introduced yourself as the most intelligent being in Oz."
"But I am the most intelligent being in Oz. You wouldn't want me to start lying would you?"
Ozma smiled, "Of course not. But you then walked away and ignored them."
The Wogglebug stared at a painting across the room of a little girl with a bucket standing next to a melting witch. "I didn't want to socialize with the Wizard or anyone who would accompany him."
"Don't your remember who he is? This is the man who sold you to Mombi to be her slave! He's a horrible man. I don't see why you even let him into the palace!"
Ozma gently tapped her fingertips on the table. "Things were complicated at that time. The Wizard had no real magical powers and was surrounded by very hostile people who did. He had to maintain a front as being an all powerful wizard. My father had disappeared and he was afraid of being exposed at any time. I was a mere baby and he was afraid I would be destroyed by one of the wicked witches if they ever found out he was a humbug. He had to hide me magically."
The Wogglebug was indignant, "But surely Glinda . . ."
"Glinda was behind the forest of fighting trees and the hill of the Hammerheads. But there was another witch. A good witch of the North. So he went into the Gillikin Country. There he eventually found Mombi who tricked him into thinking she was the Good Witch." Ozma stared off into the distance. "My childhood wasn't the happiest but I did survive. Oscar Diggs is a good man. He maintained an uneasy stalemate at a time when Oz could have erupted into open warfare. You should be friends."
The Wogglebug held his head high. "Friendship cannot be ordered, it must be earned! But I promise to treat him in a civil manner and if he is as good a man as you say then friendship may follow." He pulled a nice plump plum from the fruit bowl. "But you didn't call me in here to chide me on my lack of manners. Shall we move on to the main topic?"
Chapter Two: A Heavy Burden
"I'm sure you know about Eureka the kitten and my piglet." Ozma said.
The Wogglebug nodded, "I'm aware of the incident."
"We are going to have a trial this afternoon at three o'clock in the throne room. I have chosen you to be the Public Accuser. We decided that you are so learned that no one would be able to fool you."
"True enough," The Wogglebug agreed. "I'm not an attorney but then again, no one is. So who will be the defense attorney?"
"Nick Chopper will defend Eureka. He has such a kind heart that he would do his best to save her."
"A good choice. He does lack my intellect but he is very clever and determined."
The Wogglebug bit into a gooseberry. "And the judge?"
"I will be the judge."
"I see, since this is our first trial everything we do will set a legal
precedence. Shall we wear wigs in the British fashion?"
"I should say not!" Ozma stated with determination.
"Oh very well," the Wogglebug said with a tone of disapointment. "So if the defendant is found guilty?"
"If she is found guilty, the sentence will be death! Nine times if necessary!"
Professor Wogglebug's face fell. "Did you state this in front of witnesses?"
"Yes, I stated it in the throne room in front of dozens of people."
The Wogglebug seemed to suddenly lose his appetite. He lost all interest in the fruit bowl. "That is most unfortunate." His voice seemed to croak.
"In what way?" Ozma seemed puzzled.
"Because you are an absolute monarch. You're very word becomes law. We have no legislature. No court system. Just you." He drummed his fingers on the table.
"The case is purely circumstantial. There are no witnesses. No trace of blood. No real proof that a crime ever took place."
"So you think Eureka's innocent?"
"No, I am convinced she is guilty. Otherwise I would be helping the Tin Woodman with his defense, I'm just saying . . ." He stared off into the distance. "You are aware that it is the nature of cats to kill and eat small animals. Are you sure you're not just trying her for the crime of being a cat?"
"We can't very well have the Cowardly Lion and The Hungry Tiger wandering around the palace eating people!" Ozma's tone was curt.
"Of course not! I was just saying ... " The Wogglebug looked thoughtful. "The Lion and Tiger are adults. They know the rules and how to behave themselves. Eureka is only a half grown kitten. A juvenile if you will. Perhaps she's not fully responsible for her actions."
"Eureka is fully aware that she's not to eat my piglet!" Ozma was getting angry. "She's old enough to understand that!"
"Perhaps," The Wogglebug nodded. "Since you are so close to the case, your pet being victim, do you think you should be the one serving as judge?"
"You don't think I would be a fair judge!?"
"No, I'm sure you can be a good and fair judge, Just saying . . ." The Wogglebug seemed to get more and more gloomy. "You are aware of course that I wasn't always the magnificent creature that you see before you."
"I have heard your story before. So has everyone who has ever spent more than five minutes in your presence."
The Wogglebug gave her a sideways look, a slight embarrassed smile on his lips. "Very well. I was once a tiny little wogglebug hiding in the grass and crawling under rocks. It was a horrible existance. There were larger bugs that were constantly hunting me trying to eat me. Birds were constantly pecking at me. Frogs shooting their tongues at me. I once got trapped in a spider's web and thought that would be the end of me. These creatures filled me with terror. And while I did fear them, one thing I never did was hate them. They were just acting as nature intended for them to act. And I do confess that when I found a bug smaller than myself I thought of it only as a meal. Anything Eureka is guilty of, I'm guilty of also. Hunger is a terrible thing."
"Eureka wasn't hungry."
"No, but predation is how nature culls out the weak, the slow, and the stupid. It improves the species as a whole. It was hunger and fear that drove me into Professor Nowitall's classroom in the first place. There I found food, warmth, safety, and knowledge. It was by avoiding predators that I became what you see before you. The very pinnacle of Wogglebug evolution!"
Ozma nodded, "You do have a point, you've made some excellent arguments. Never the less, one of the purposes of good government is to protect the weak and the helpless. The piglet was under my protection and I was responsible for his safety. You seem reluctant to take the case. If you can't handle it I can choose someone else."
The Wogglebug shook his head. "You've chosen me for an onerous burden. But I will not thrust it on someone else's shoulders just because I refuse to do my duty. You are my queen and you've given me a difficult task. I promise that I will perform it to the best of my ability." He started to get up. "Now if that is all I'll go prepare my case."
"Just one other thing my friend." Ozma put her hand on his upper left arm. "Jellia mentioned that you are buying science books from the outside world."
The Wogglebug nodded. "Yes, I'm purchasing them from an agent with gems. Only the smallest gems and only a few. Flooding the gem market over there would destabilize the economy."
Ozma nodded. "I can understand that. Is it just curiosity or are you planning to apply this knowledge."
Professor Wogglebug smiled. "I don't believe science and magic are entirely antithetical. Our friend Tik-Tok proves that magic and technology can be combined. When I was in America I saw automobiles that were no more alive than this table but capable of traveling a mile a minute. They've started building crude flying machines called aeroplanes, they can barely fly but they show great potential. I believe that by studying science and technology we can combine it with magic and achieve marvelous results. The potential is unlimited."
Ozma stroked her chin thoughtfuly, "You just might have something there. I'll have to think more about this. Very well, you may go and prepare your case."
Professor Wogglebug decided the first thing he should do is interview the prisoner. He found her in an antichamber near the throne room locked in a cage calmly licking her paw. Captain-General Omby Amby was standing by with his musket at port arms. His heels clicked at attention when the Wogglebug walked in. "Would you like me to step outside?"
Professor Wogglebug shook his head. "No, I would prefer you to stay. It would be better to have a witness present." He picked up a chair and placed it near the cage.
"Well, if it isn't the world's biggest cockroach!" Eureka sneered.
"I'm not actually a cockroach but a wogglebug," he said while taking his seat "There are several physiological differences. To start with, my thorax . . ."
"Spare me your lectures cockroach! I'm not one of your students."
"Hmm, you keep calling me 'cockroach' even after I pointed out that I wasn't one. I do believe you're trying to insult me. To try to make me angry. It won't succeed of course. I happen to think that cockroaches are magnificent creatures well adapted to the niche that nature places them in. So let's cut to the chase shall we? I will be prosecuting you." He leaned forward. "Did you or did you not eat Ozma's piglet. You don't have to reply of course. Anything you say could be used against you in court."
"Do you mind leaning a little bit more. I can't quite reach your eyes with my claws from here." Eureka smirked. "The way I see it you don't really have much of a case. There were no witnesses to my alleged crime. No evidence that I ate anything in Ozma's quarters. You'll have an awful tough time proving anything." Eureka gave the Wogglebug a nasty grin.
Professor Wogglebug frowned. She was right, he didn't have much of a case. But Ozma was very angry and the whole palace was convinced Eureka was guilty. He didn't like this nasty, bad tempered cat but he didn't want to have her executed either. The fact that he might have to participate in her execution tugged at his heart. "Ozma is very mad at you right now but if you tell her you're sorry and beg for her forgiveness I'm sure she would spare you. She's a very good, kind hearted person."
"Begging's for dogs. Cats don't beg. Go ahead and try me. Do your worst!"
Professor Wogglebug pulled his watch from his vest pocket. The trial will start in half an hour. He had done his best to help Eureka. he got up and trudged out with a heavy heart. Now he would have to do his duty. He had to try to destroy her.
Chapter 3: The Trial
Professor Wogglebug sat in his seat awaiting the trial. Eureka was sitting casually in a golden cage licking her paw, Mr. Wogglebug glanced over at Nick Chopper seated at the defence table. The jury of people, animals and animated objects filed in and the ones who could sat in the chairs provided. The Cowardly Lion and The Hungry Tiger sat on the cushions set out for them.
With a blaring of trumpets the twenty eight officers of the Royal Army of Oz marched in smartly down the aisle in single file. The line moved behind the throne and Omby Amby yelled. "Halt!"
Mr. Wogglebug sighed as the officers in the back pancaked into the ones in front. Eureka yowled in laughter. With a clatter of guns and swords they straightened themselves out and did a clumsy right face. It was a good thing that the Royal Army of Oz wasn't necessary to fight wars.
With a trumpet fanfare Ozma entered the throne room dressed in her most splendid robes of state her jewelled scepter in her hand and a glittering diamond and emerald coronet on her head.. Everyone rose to their feet as she marched up the aisle to her throne.
Ozma sat upon the throne and gave the Wogglebug a slight nod. He rose and holding his head high, strutted to the jury. "Your Royal Highness and Fellow Citizens," he spoke as loudly as he could to make sure everyone in the vast throne room could hear him." The small cat you see a prisoner before you is accused of the crime of first murdering and then eating our esteemed ruler Ruler's fat piglet or else first eating and then murdering it. In either case a grave crime has been committed with deserves a grave punishment."
"Do you mean my kitten must be put in a grave?" Dorothy interrupted his train of thought.
Mr. Wogglebug hated to be interrupted. "Don't interrupt, little girl." He said. "When I get my thoughts arranged in good order I do not like to have anything upset them or throw them into confusion."
"If your thoughts were any good they wouldn't become confused," remarked the Scarecrow from the jury. "My thoughts are always . . ."
"Is this a trial of thoughts, or of kittens?" The Wogglebug was getting irritated. Interrupting attorny's statements wasn't permited in most courts and everything done here would set a legal precedence. He had no plans to interrupt the Tin Woodman.
"It's a trial of one kitten," replied the Scarecrow; "but your manner is a trial to us all."
"Let the Public Accuser continue," Ozma declared, "and I pray you do not interrupt him."
"The criminal who now sits before the court licking her paws," the Wogglebug continued, "has long desired to unlawfully eat the fat piglet, which was no bigger than a mouse. And finally she made a wicked plan to satisfy her depraved appetite for pork. I can see her in my mind's eye. . ."
"What's that?" interrupted the Scarecrow again showing no sign that he had heard a single word Ozma had just said.
"I say I can see her in my mind's eye . . ."
"The mind has no eye," declared the Scarecrow. "It's blind."
The Wogglebug gave the Scarecrow an irritated sideways glance. Apparently the fancy brains he was always bragging about contained no imagination at all. He turned to the judge. "Your Highness, have I a mind's eye or haven't I?"
"If you have, it is invisible." Ozma replied.
The Wogglebug gave her a bow. "Very true." He started pacing and reenacting the crime with all four hands as he spoke. "I say I see the criminal creeping steathily into the room of our Oxma and secreting herself when no one was looking, until the Princess had gone away and the door was closed. Then the murderer was alone with her helpless victim, the fat piglet, and I see her pounce upon the innocent creature and eat it up . . . !
"Are you still seeing with your mind's eye?" The Scarecrow seemed incapable of keeping quiet."
"Of course; how else could I see it? And we know thing is true because since the time of that interview there is no piglet to be found anywhere."
"I suppose, if the cat had been gone, instead of the piglet, your mind's eye would see the piglet eating the cat," suggested the Scarecrow.
The Wogglebug nodded, "Very likely," He then turned toward the jury. "And now, Fellow Citizens and Creatures of the Jury, I assert that so awful a crime deserves death, and in the case of the ferocious criminal before you—who is now washing her face –- the death penalty should be inflicted nine times."
The Wogglebug sat down to great applause but he heard none of it. All he could see were the tears trickling down Dorothy's cheeks and his heart ached. In spite of the Scarecrow's rude interruptions and the fact that all his evidence was circumstantial, he felt he'd done a good job. But he felt no triumph. He had done his duty.
Princess Ozma addressed the kitten in a stern voice. "Prisoner, what have you to say for yourself? Are you guilty or not guilty?"
"Why, that's for you to find out," Eureka replied. "If you can prove I'm guilty, I'll be willing to die nine times, but a mind's eye is no proof, because the Wogglebug has no mind to see with."
"Never mind, dear," said Dorothy.
It was Nick Chopper's turn to present his case so he stood up and said: "Respected Jury and dearly beloved Ozma. I pray you not to judge this feline prisoner unfeelingly. I do not think the innocent kitten can be guilty, and surely it is unkind to accuse a luncheon of being a murder. Eureka is the sweet pet of a lovely little girl whom we all admire, and gentleness and innocence are her chief virtues. Look at the kitten's intelligent eyes;" (here Eureka closed her eyes sleepily) "gaze at her smiling countenance!" (here Eureka snarled and showed her teeth) "mark the tender pose of her soft, padded little hands!" (here Eureka bared her sharp claws and scratched at the bars of the cage.) "Would such a gentle animal be guilty of eating a fellow creature? No! A thousand times, no!"
"Oh, cut it short," snarled Eureka; "you've talked long enough."
"I'm trying to defend you."
"Then say something sensible," retorted the white kitten. "Tell them it would be foolish for me to eat the piglet, because I had sense enough to know it would raise a row if I did. But don't try to make out I'm too innocent to eat a fat piglet if I could do it and not be found out. I imagine it would taste mighty good."
"Perhaps it would, to those who eat," remarked the Tin Woodman. "I myself, not being built to eat, have no personal experience in such matters. But I remember that our great poet once said:
"To eat is sweet
When hunger's seat
Demands a treat
Of savory meat."
In the Wogglebug's opinion that was not great poetry but he kept his mouth shut.
The Tin Woodman continued. "Take this into consideration, friends of the Jury, and you will readily decide that the kitten is wrongfully accused and should be set at liberty."
When he sat down the silence was deafening. Mr. Wogglebug reflected that Nick Chopper was a poor lawyer with a completely unconvincing argument. The jury mumbled and whispered among themselves for a few minutes then the Hungry Tiger arose and stepped away from the others.
"Kittens have no consciences, so they eat whatever pleases them. The jury believes the white kitten known as Eureka is guilty of having eaten the piglet owned by Princess Ozma and recommends that she be put to death in punishment of the crime."
The verdict was greeted with a great deal of applause from the crowd. Mr. Wogglebug didn't applaud. He just sat quietly watching little Dorothy sobbing miserably. He had succeeded. He had triumphed. And all he felt was misery and horror... Princess Ozma merely nodded and gestured toward the Tin Woodman's ax.
Nick Chopper then rose and addressed Ozma. "Your Highness," he said, "see how easy it is for a jury to be mistaken. The kitten could not have eaten your piglet . . . for here it is!" He removed his funnel hat revealing a tiny white piglet which he held aloft for all to see. The crowd now roared with cheers and applause.
Ozma clapped her hands in delight, "Give me my pet!" The Tin Woodman proudly marched up to her throne and placed it in her arms.
Professor Wogglebug was stunned. It couldn't be the same piglet. The Wizard had nine didn't he? He looked over at Dorothy. She was so happy. He couldn't but he had to. He had his duty to do. He opened his mouth then shut it.
Ozma held the piglet and stroked it gently. "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.
The Wogglebug didn't know what to say. He'd been friends with the Tin Woodman for years and never once known him to lie. Could he be telling the truth? He made a promise to Ozma to do his utmost. A Wogglebug always keeps its promises.
He opened his mouth again but the Scarecrow again interrupted. "Justice," he sighed, "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."
The Wogglebug's stomach was tied up in knots. Justice hadn't prevailed. He didn't want to ruin everybody's happiness. He didn't want to expose his friend Nick to be a liar. To shame him publicly. He didn't want Dorothy to cry again. And as much as he disliked Eureka, he didn't want her executed. But he was an officer of the law. Appointed by Ozma, he could never violate her trust. He opened his mouth to speak.
"I refuse to be free!" cried Eureka 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."
Professor Wogglebug was shocked. Did Eureka actually want to die? What was she playing at?
"The piglet that belonged to the Princess wore an emerald collar," said Eureka loudly enough for everyone 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."
The whole throne room fell silent. Mr. Woggle craned his neck to hear the story as Eureka continued in a 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 Pricess 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 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 wiggled himself through and fell down into the deep bottom part . . . and I suppose he's there yet."
Ozma turned to one of the army officers, "Quickly! Go get the vase!" When he returned with the vase she looked inside and saw the piglet. "There he is! Nick, break the vase!"
The Tin Woodman quickly broke the vase and freed the little pig. The crowd cheered enthusiastically as Ozma picked up her pet.
Dorothy hugged her kitten tightly. "I'm so happy that you're innocent! But why didn't you tell us at first?"
"That would have spoiled the fun." Replied Eureka yawning.
Professsor Wogglebug approached Dorothy. "I'm so glad that Eureka was innocent. It would have broken my heart if she were executed."
"It's quite alright!" Dorothy smiled. "Everything ended well."
"And I'm sorry I called you a cockroach." Eureka grinned. "You seem more like a dung beetle. Why don't you go play with someone's poop?!"
"Hush Eureka!" Dorothy scolded. "Why must you be so rude?"
"It's quite alright," the Wogglebug replied. "She is still very young. She'll learn manners as she matures or live a long and very lonely life. Besides, she can't insult me. I know more about dung beetles than she ever imagined. Did you know that the Ancient Egyptians associated the dung beetle or Scarabaeus Sacer as a symbol of rebirth and immortality? They were associated with the god Kephri who pushed the sun across the sky. The image of the scarab was as important to Egyptians as the cross is to Christians. I could tell you more."
"Please don't!" Eureka said. "Beheading is a much quicker end than being bored to death!"
"Please forgive her, I would love to sit through some of your classes. It's very fascinating."
Professor Wogglebug bowed to her. "You are welcome any time. Now if you will excuse me." He quickly walked over to Ozma who was leaving the throne room with her piglet. "Princess Ozma, may I speak with you privately. It's very important."
She nodded. "Very well, the library in one hour."
Chapter 4: A Time for Truth
Professor Wogglebug was happy to change from his drab, black judicial robes back into his colorful suit and top hat. He removed the hat and placed it in the crook of his arm as he entered the Royal Library for the second time that day. He smiled at Ozma as he gave her a deep bow and was delighted to see that the fruit bowl was still there.
Ozma nodded as he took his seat. "I just spoke to Dorothy, She's going to confine Eureka to her rooms in the palace."
The Wogglebug nodded with approval, "That is a fitting punishment. Cats are instinctual hunters, they do love to roam about."
"So you are satisfied with the results of the trial?"
"I couldn't be more delighted! Not only did I obtain a conviction establishing my superior legal skills but the defendant was also found innocent thus obviating the need for an execution. You were most fortunate!"
Ozma smiled, "Yes, I got my little piglet back."
"That too but that's not what I meant." He began carefully peeling an orange. " Eureka's life was spared. Now you might not like that obnoxious little cat and I certainly don't like that obnoxious little cat but Dorothy loves that obnoxious little cat." He popped an orange slice into his mouth. "Her execution would have driven a wedge between you and Dorothy. It might have been subtle, nearly invisible but it would have always been there."
Ozma looked up at the painting of Dorothy and the Wicked Witch. "I didn't think of that, I was just so angry at the time."
"You were making decisions based entirely on emotion. Not only this but your expedition to the Nome Kingdom. An expedition that you didn't invite me on." He added with a hurt tone.
"You didn't want to go."
Professor Wogglebug drummed his fingers on the table, "I never said that I didn't want to go, I didn't want you to go. I didn't want anyone to go. The whole expedition was poorly planned. You were very lucky it didn't end in a total disaster."
"It all ended well," Ozma said smugly. "We rescued the Royal Family of Ev. Or don't you care about them?"
"Of course I care about them! I'm the one who taught you the history of Ev! I was worried sick about their fate. But you set off without any plan and only a vague idea of what a Nome was or even of the location to the entrance of the Nome Kingdom. You knew nothing about the Nome King. You had too few troops for an invasion and too many for a diplomatic mission. If you hadn't have met Dorothy and if she didn't have a chicken with her, you and thirty two of your subjects would have disapeared into the depths of the earth and not even Glinda could have gotten you out." The Wogglebug remained silent for a moment. "But since you were going anyway I wanted to go with you."
"Why would you want to go on an expedition that you felt was doomed?"
"The same reason all your other friends and subjects went, because we love you. But you were making important decisions based entirely on fevered emotions. Putting other people's lives in jepardy. All you have to do is lift a finger and we would all jump into the Deadly Desert for you. That means that you must be very careful before you lift a finger." He plucked a nice red apple from the bowl. "You were just very lucky. If Dorothy had brought Toto or Eureka along instead of Billina we wouldn't be having this conversation. A ruler can only depend on luck so far."
"So you would have just left the Queen of Ev and her ten children to their fate?"
Professor Wogglebug shook his head. "No, but you should be guided more by your intellect and keep your emotions under control. Collect intelligence on the Nome Kingdom first. Find out what their strengths and weaknesses are. There are millions of Nomes. Perhaps we could have found one and asked him questions. Found out what kind of person the Nome King was, what he likes, what his weakness are. By using brains and education you could be a much better ruler."
Ozma nodded, "So you don't approve of how I've been running things so far?"
"Ozma, I've known you since you were a boy." He glanced at Ozma and smiled as she rolled her eyes in exasperation. "On the whole you've been an excellent ruler." He stopped munching on the fruit and turned toward her with a solemn expression. "But I do fear for the future."
Ozma was puzzled. "In what way?"
"I am a scholar of history as well as all the other sciences. There are two axioms that have been proved time and time again. 'Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely.' And 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions.'"
Ozma frowned. "You think I'm turning into a tyrant? Really?"
"You are immortal; you will rule Oz for an indefinite amount of time. What will you be like a hundred years from now? Most tyrannies began with the best of intentions. The ruler knows what's best. Wants to do good for the people. The opposition will only undo all the good that's been accomplished. They must be put down. You have already taken the first baby steps in this direction. It's not too late to back up."
Ozma pursed her lips. "I don't necessarily agree with you but what would you suggest?"
"What I suggest might be frightening at first. What you should do is give up some of your power."
"How could I do that?"
"Oz does not presently have a strong central government. It is made up of dozens of small kingdoms. Make a handful of laws for the whole country but only a handful. Allow each little king or queen to make their own laws and rule as they see fit. Do not interfere as long as they don't harm their own people or molest their neighbors. They might do things that you don't approve of. A good ruler always tolerates people and things that they don't approve of. If the people in one area don't like their rulers they can always move to another area. It's called voting with your feet."
"Hmm," Ozma stroked her chin. "I'll consider your advice. And I hope that if I ever go too far you will always be there to pull me back. I trust you to give me blunt, honest advice. I've also been thinking about what you said this morning. About combining magic and technology. The Wizard plans to remain in Oz and I plan on having Glinda teach him real magic. He is a very clever engineer and would be the perfect candidate for combining the two. You should work closely with him on the project. Perhaps someday you will go ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz."
"Perish the thought!" The Wogglebug exclaimed.
For plot synopsis and continuity notes, go here