Just in Time

In Ozma’s palace in the Emerald City, everything was very quiet and
still. Not surprising when you consider that the wizard of Wutz had
blown his patent stupefying powder down all the chimneys before he and
Ruggedo dared to enter. Then, mooring the silver bubble to one of the
castle spires, the two conspirators had slipped through an open window
and proceeded without delay or interference to the private sitting room
of the absent ruler. There Ruggedo with a spiteful laugh, thrust his
head right into the mouths of the Hungry Tiger and Cowardly Lion. Rigid
and helpless they sat before Ozma’s safe, motionless and completely
stupefied, as were all of Ozma’s other faithful servants and retainers.
Reducing the safe to a heap of green ashes was the work of but a
moment, then, pulling the Gnome King’s belt from the sparkling heap of
treasures, Wutz sprang to his feet.

“Quick! How does it work?” he cried, clasping the belt round his thin
waist. “We’ll not have a second’s safety till Ozma, Glinda, the Wizard
of Oz and all those girl Princesses are out of the way.”

“But first you must restore my Kingdom!” insisted Ruggedo, dancing up
and down. “Here give it to me. I’m used to it and can work faster.
First I’ll wish Kaliko off my throne and myself back in my underground
castle, then–”

“Oh, no, you won’t!” declared Wutz, holding the bouncing Gnome King off
with one hand. “How do I know what you will do once you reach your own
Kingdom? Why–I might never see this belt again.”

“But I promise to send it back to you,” hissed Ruggedo, his eyes
snapping real sparks.

“I’d rather have the belt than the promise,” said Wutz, shaking his
head stubbornly.

“Give it to me, I say, GIVE it to me!” yelled Ruggedo, now in a perfect
rage. “How do I know what you will do when you know the trick of using
it? Why, you might even turn me to a rock to be rid of me.”

“What? Change my dearest friend and most powerful ally to a rock?”
exclaimed the Wizard with pretended horror. “By the left horn of my
silver cow, I promise to return this belt as soon as I am Ruler of
Oz!” Ruggedo longed to snatch his belt away from the scheming Silver
Monarch, but as he was neither big or strong enough to do this, there
was nothing for him to do but agree to the wizard’s terms.

“All right,” he groaned dismally. “Listen, then–” But as Wutz bent his
head and the little gnome began to whisper hoarse directions in his
ear, there was a dreadful thump and clatter behind them.

“STOP!” commanded the Goat Girl, the first to recover from the shock
of the landing, and dear knows Handy should have been used to sudden
landings by this time. “STOP!” Whirling round with a howl of fury,
Wutz sprang straight at her, but Handy, who still clutched the silver
hammer in her iron hand, was too quick for him and brought it down
with a resounding crack on the top of his head. “Take ’em away! Take
’em away!” cried Handy hysterically, as Wutz fell over backwards, and
Himself, appearing exactly where the hammer had struck, leaped off the
wizard’s head to save himself from a fall.

“But first we must have that magic belt,” chuckled the hammer elf.
Giving Ruggedo, who was struggling frantically to get his belt from
around the Silver King’s waist, a quick push, Himself unbuckled the
clasps and tossed the magic girdle to the Goat Girl. Then grabbing the
howling gnome and senseless wizard, each by his neck, the efficient
dwarf vanished in a flash of lightning and a crash of thunder that
shook the castle to its foundations. Nox dropped to his knees. Kerry,
still stunned by the hammer blow that had carried them to the Emerald
City, and Handy, herself, with her arms still upraised, stared in dumb
astonishment at the quivering vacuum where the two Kings and Himself,
the elf, had been whirling a moment before.

“Oh, Handy, HANDY, you’ve really done it!” shouted Kerry, finding his
voice at last. “Why, you’ve saved the whole of Ozma’s Kingdom and
struck only one blow! But watch out–are those beasts alive or just

“Statues, I hope,” grunted the Royal Ox, lurching dizzily to his feet.
“Well, here we are in the capital, m’lass, and I must say you have
handled everything beautifully, beautifully!”

“Halt! Who goes there! Whoa! HO! Halt and Surrender!” piped a
frightened voice. “Here they are, your Majesty, the robbers themselves,
caught red-handed in the act of robbing our royal safe!”

“Red–white–and–blue handed, if you ask me!” cried the Patchwork
Girl, blinking her shoe button eyes at the red rubber hand with which
Handy grasped the Gnome King’s belt, the white hand she had reached out
to hold on to Kerry, the iron hand still clutching the silver hammer.
All the rest of her hands the Goat Girl held stiffly before her.
Brushing aside the Soldier with the Green Whiskers, who promptly dived
behind a sofa, Scraps jerked the Gnome King’s belt out of Handy’s
rubber hand and gave her a shove that sent her flying over backwards.
“Take that, you Monster!” yelled Scraps.

“Well,” sputtered the Goat Girl, sprawling flat on her back, “here’s
gratitude for you!”

“How dare you call Handy a Monster?” bellowed Nox, charging angrily
after the Patchwork Girl.

“Oh! Do be careful!” called Ozma with a little scream, as Nox almost
caught up with Scraps, and Kerry began to belabor the Soldier with
Green Whiskers over the head with a candlestick. “Oh! Oh! My poor Lion!
My poor Tiger! My SAFE! Why, I–just–can’t believe it!” wailed the
little Fairy Ruler, staring sorrowfully down at the Goat Girl, who had
made no attempt to rise nor explain her embarrassing position.

“Then don’t believe it!” cried Kerry breathlessly. “For it isn’t
true! This brave girl and Nox have got the best of Wutz and the Gnome
King and saved your whole bally Kingdom and here you’ve gone and had
her knocked down. Shame on you! Get away from me, you cotton stuffed
horror!” screamed the little King, as Scraps, eluding the Ox, made a
determined jump in his direction.

“Quiet! QUIET!” The Scarecrow, who with Glinda, the Wizard, Dorothy,
Betsy and Trot, now came hurrying into the room, raised both arms and
looked around pleadingly. The whole royal party, traveling in Glinda’s
swan chariot, had just arrived on the balcony outside, but Ozma, Scraps
and the Soldier with Green Whiskers had been first on the scene of

“The boy is right,” declared Glinda, crossing slowly to a green sofa.
“I can see by her face and hands–” Glinda smiled faintly–“that this
girl is both honest and industrious.”

“Thanks!” murmured Handy, as the Scarecrow, ever a gentleman, bounded
forward to assist her to her feet. The flimsy straw stuffed fellow lost
his balance in the attempt, but his little act of gallantry did much to
relieve an awkward moment.

“You see,” puffed the Scarecrow, seating Handy with a flourish, “for
the last ten days we’ve all been pretty much upset around here and
you’ll have to excuse Scraps for jumping at conclusions.”

“Please do!” Ozma spoke pleasantly and seriously as she seated herself
in her small arm chair, leaning over to take the Gnome King’s belt
from Scraps. “But if some of you kind people will just explain?” The
Little Fairy looked anxiously from the stupefied Tiger and Lion to her
pulverized safe, her eyes coming back to rest on the Goat Girl, the
great White Ox and the handsome young Munchkin.

“Go ahead and explain,” said Handy, closing her eyes and leaning back
in her chair with all her hands hanging limply at her side. So Nox, a
bit haughtily and tossing his head proudly from time to time, began
at the beginning and told all that had happened since Handy Mandy had
flown from Mt. Mern. How the Goat Girl had found the magic in his horn,
how they had traveled together from Keretaria to the Silver Mountain
and there, in their search for the little King, discovered Wutz’s plot
to make himself Supreme Wizard of Oz. And last of all he explained how
Handy, with the help of the silver hammer, had subdued the two wicked

“Well, it certainly was very kind of you to take all this trouble for
us–after you had already had so many worries of your own,” sighed
Ozma, as Nox, finishing his story, gazed round the room with lordly

“Yes, wasn’t it?” Handy opened her eyes and thoughtfully regarded
the little Ruler of Oz. “Still, I’m glad now that we did save you.”
The Goat Girl’s round pleasant face was suddenly wreathed in smiles.
“I didn’t think I was going to like you, but I do,” she admitted
cheerfully. “I believe you’re about the best ruler Oz could have and
besides, you’re pretty as a goat.”

“As a goat!” gasped the Wizard of Oz while Dorothy and the other girls
had all they could do to keep from laughing right out loud. But Ozma,
who was a very understanding little person, smiled kindly back at Handy

“Goats _are_ pretty,” she agreed, nodding her head politely. “And since
you must miss your own goats very much, perhaps you would like me to
send you back to Mt. Mern after you’ve seen a bit of the capital?”

“Oh, Handy wouldn’t leave us!” snorted the Royal Ox, moving as close
to the Goat Girl as he could get. “We couldn’t get along without Handy
Mandy, your Majesty.”

“Oh, please let her stay in Keretaria,” begged the little King adding
his voice to that of his Royal Ox. “You will live with us in the
palace, won’t you Handy?”

“Well, if I just had my goats–” considered the seven-armed maiden.
“Mt. Mern would seem rather dull after Oz,” she acknowledged pensively.
“But what about that old King who’s still on Kerry’s throne–and what
am I to do with this silver hammer–and what do you suppose Himself has
done with Wutz and Ruggedo?”

“Yes, what’s to be done with Wutz?” echoed the Scarecrow wrinkling up
his cotton forehead. And now the little sitting room began fairly to
buzz with excited questions and suggestions, for there was still a lot
to be explained and settled. The Ozites could hardly keep their eyes
off the seven-armed Goat Girl, the handsome young ruler of Keretaria
and his Royal Ox. Dorothy longed to unscrew his horn and test its
magic power for herself, but Ozma, anxious to repair all the damage
done by the wicked wizard, now raised her scepter for silence.

Clasping on the Gnome King’s belt, Ozma first brought back her magic
picture and with a quick wish returned Glinda’s book of records to her
castle in the South. Next, though she knew neither the extent nor the
nature of the wizard’s other thefts she caused to be restored to their
rightful owners all the magic appliances in the Silver King’s den. The
Scarecrow had already reported the stupefied condition of the other
occupants of the palace, so Ozma’s next thought was to restore them
to their accustomed selves. No sooner was the Cowardly Lion released
than he crawled under a table, but the Hungry Tiger rushed out on the
balcony, growling and lashing his tail, as he thought of the indignity
he had suffered.

After a short conference with Handy Mandy, Ozma freed all the potted
prisoners of the wicked wizard, and made Nifflepok King of the Silver
Mountain. She moved the cliff dwellings of the people to the outside
of the mountain so Wutz’s pale subjects could enjoy with the rest of
the Gillikins, the bright sunshine and beneficent climate of Oz. The
Magic Mountain itself, with all its dark pits and jeweled caverns,
Ozma sealed up tightly and forever. The wizard’s agents were turned
to moles, for they were already more like these boring little animals
than men. After each magic wish or transformation, the little group in
the royal sitting room would look in the magic picture, which Ozma had
immediately repaired. And in each case Handy felt that the ruler of Oz
had used both wisdom and good judgment. Nox, as they were watching the
wizard’s agents turn to moles, gave a snort of surprise, for the first
figure shown was old King Kerr, who was really Number Nine. As the
wicked impostor changed quickly from a man to a mole and scurried off
the throne and away to bury himself in the blue forest, Nox and Handy
both heaved a sigh of relief and satisfaction.

While Ozma was working on the magic safe, Handy, deciding to try a
little of her own magic, softly tapped the silver hammer on the arm
of her chair. At once, and to the delight and interest of everyone,
Himself, the elf, appeared astride the arm, holding a small cactus
plant in each hand.

“I wish you in the future to obey the summons of her Majesty, Ozma of
Oz,” smiled the Goat Girl, placing the silver hammer as she spoke, in
Ozma’s lap. “This young fairy is more experienced in magic than I, and
will know how to use the hammer to best advantage.”

“Oh, all right! But I rather liked working for you,” grinned Himself.
“And say, I tried to turn these rascals to plants but this was the best
I could do.” Setting the two pots of cactus down on a small writing
desk, the hammer elf bowed first to Handy and then to Ozma. “Wait!
Don’t go!” begged the little Fairy as Himself showed unmistakable signs
of disappearing. “Do tell us about this silver hammer and who owned it

“It belonged to Wunchie, a witch of the West, who’s lived in the
Munchkin Mountains for about a thousand years, and used it to control
as many of the Munchkin Kings as she could,” explained the dwarf
balancing himself cleverly on an ink well.

“Then I suppose Wunchie was responsible for the prophecy in Keretaria?”
surmised Nox, blinking his eyes at the hammer elf. The dwarf nodded
cheerfully. “Yes, Wunchie invented that prophecy,” he told them, “and
placed her own white oxen in the country. Each time she had trouble
forcing the King to do as she wished, she tapped him and the ox on
the head with her hammer. But I took rather a fancy to you,” admitted
Himself looking fondly at Nox. “So, when she ordered me to tap you off
and traded little King Kerry to Wutz for a basket of jumping beans and
put Wutz’s agent on the throne of Keretaria, I decided to take a hand
myself. So I gave you only a light tap and at the same time, I stored
enough magic in your horns to help you find Kerry–and with the help of
this handy Goat Girl you DID find him!” beamed the hammer elf. “I knew
my magic was good. You can’t work for a witch without learning good
magic. But now, since everything is turning out so splendidly, I’ll
just go back to my tree stump. One, two–three, back–to–my–tree!”

“But what became of the witch?” cried Ozma catching hold of the dwarf’s
purple beard, for his head had already vanished.

“Ha, ha! She exploded and popped off!” roared a voice from the place
where the elf’s head had been. “I told her not to eat those jumping
beans! And after that, I buried her hammer in the garden of Keretaria
and there it stayed till Handy ploughed it up. Goodbye all!” And the
body of the hammer elf melted into nothing and was gone.

“My–y, what a clever fellow!” chuckled Handy. “So, now Wutz and
Ruggedo are a couple of cactuses! Mm–mmm! Mmmm–mm! Unpleasant to the
last! Do you suppose anyone can ever disenchant them? For goatness
sake be careful!” begged Handy as Jellia, in answer to her Mistress’s
ring, came to carry the plants to the conservatory. “Whatever you do,
don’t drop ’em. And to think that the Wizard is potted himself! Well,
I’ll never have a hand in breaking his enchantment!”

“I never thought anyone could ever break Ruggedo’s enchantment,”
confessed Ozma. “When I changed him to a jug, I commanded him to keep
that shape till he was broken by the seventh hand of a traveling
Mernite. And at that time I did not even know there was such a place as
Mt. Mern or a clever Goat Girl like Handy.”

“But aren’t you glad there was!” shouted the little Wizard of Oz
tossing up his hat and catching it on his nose. “Aren’t we all glad to
know Handy Mandy, Nox and this jolly young King?”

“Long live the Royal Ox and the Little King of Keretaria!” cried the
cheering Ozites. “Long live Handy Mandy, the seven-armed wonder of the
world and OZ!” And, of course, they will live long–everyone lives long
in Oz. But even if Handy lives to be a hundred, she will never forget
the grand banquet given that evening in her honor. Besides the famous
people she already knew, the Goat Girl was presented to all the other
celebrities at Ozma’s court, and shaking hands with them heartily and
seven at a time, she had never been so flattered and fussed over in
her life. Nox and Kerry came in for their share of honors, too. There
was nothing the Ozians would not have done for their three new friends
and rescuers. Ozma, overwhelmed by Handy’s generosity in giving her
the silver hammer, and already indebted to her for saving the Kingdom,
racked her brains for some wonderful gift to reward the brave mountain
lass. But it was Nox who solved the difficulty by confiding to Ozma
that Handy desired more than anything else a set of gloves for her
hands. It seemed she had never had enough gloves for more than two at
a time. So, smiling secretly to herself, Ozma gave the Goat Girl seven
sets of fine kid gloves and an emerald necklace that wound three times
round her sturdy neck. With the necklace, a complete new outfit and her
forty-nine gloves, Handy Mandy felt herself quite ready for high life
and royal society.

“Though you really should wear a boxing glove on that iron hand,”
whispered the Scarecrow, as Handy blushingly resumed her seat after
Ozma’s speech of presentation. “Stay in the Emerald City and we will
make you a general in the army,” promised the straw man earnestly. But
Handy shook her head with tears of merriment in her eyes. Though she
never quite forgave Scraps for pushing her over, she and the Scarecrow
were already as friendly and easy as an old pair of shoes. “Handy
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” the
straw man had nicknamed her because she had a hand for every day in the

Nox had insisted on Himself being invited to the banquet and the clever
elf added much to the pleasure and hilarity of that memorable occasion.
Indeed, many times afterward when she felt bored or lonely, Ozma would
summon Himself just to amuse and cheer her up. The silver hammer was
stored away with the other important magic treasures and is regarded
by many as the most powerful magic in the castle. Handy Mandy kept the
blue flower to help her on future journeys and after she and her two
friends had spent a happy week in the Emerald City, Ozma reluctantly
wished Kerry and Nox to Keretaria and the Goat Girl back to Mt. Mern.

Here, for a month, Handy Mandy astonished the villagers with the story
of her travels, then gathering up her goats she took herself and them
back by a fast wishing pill the Wizard had given her–to the Kingdom of
Keretaria. As the Goat Girl’s hands retained all of their strength and
willingness, and Nox’s horns all their magic–even to giving wise and
useful messages, these two and little Kerry ruled the Kingdom between
them with such skill and cleverness everyone was enormously happy and