Chapter Seven begins with a nice bit of Baum's own particular fairy mythology. The Rain King gets too much water in his basin and it spills over, causing rain on Earth. Then the Rainbow arrives, and the Rainbow's Daughters dance on the bow, daring each other to touch the ground. And — as happens so very often — Polychrome, the most adventurous of the Rainbow's Daughters, lingers too long on the ground and gets left behind when the Rainbow leaves again. (Again, it's easy to imagine this as a musical number on stage.)
Polychrome is lamenting her carelessness when Betsy, Hank, Ozga the Rose Princess, and the Shaggy Man come along. There's a little comic wordplay, and the Shaggy Man wins over the disconsolate Polychrome with his Love Magnet. (I've already mentioned elsewhere that the Love Magnet turns every scene involving the Shaggy Man into a mass of sleazy innuendo.) Neither Shaggy nor Polychrome remember their previous meeting in The Road to Oz, which may be due to Mr. Baum trying not to remind his readers how much material he's recycling here. She agrees to accompany them to search for the entrance to the kingdom of Ruggedo the Nome King.
The five of them wander about for a while before stumbling across an abandoned well. Hank spies something at the bottom of the well and does the classic Lassie maneuver until the others come over to look, and then the Shaggy Man hauls out Tik-Tok, the clockwork man!
Shaggy actually remembers Tik-Tok, and Betsy follows the directions printed on the clockwork man's back to wind up his speech, thought, and action workings. Once he's wound, Tik-Tok relates (in his in-im-it-able sty-le) that Ozma located Shaggy's brother by means of the Magic Picture and sent Tik-Tok to help Shaggy find him, but the Nome King found Tik-Tok first and pitched him down the well.
Despite having been sent to help Shaggy locate the Nome King's realm, Tik-Tok doesn't know where the entrance is, and the six of them are standing around trying to decide what to do when they are interrupted by the sound of marching feet.
The Oogaboo Expeditionary Force has arrived! Private Files plants a flag and announces that this territory has been conquered by Oogaboo. Queen Ann orders him to conquer the Shaggy Man et al, but Files is too much of a gentleman to take arms against Betsy, Ozga, and Polychrome. Hank the mule and the Love Magnet are too much for the Army of Oogaboo, and the Shaggy Man talks them into helping conquer the Nome King — who is, he points out, extremely rich and thus will furnish lots of plunder.
Since World War I hadn't actually gotten rolling when Mr. Baum wrote this book, I wonder if the Oogabooan campaign of world conquest isn't a little dig at the scramble for colonies among the Great Powers of Europe (plus America and Japan). Strangers showing up, planting a flag, and informing the locals that they had just been added to somebody's Empire was a feature of life in Africa, the South Pacific, and parts of Asia in the late 19th century.
The United States had recently joined the club by taking the Philippines and Puerto Rico away from Spain, and had joined in the multinational mission to Peking to put down the Boxer Rebellion. President Theodore Roosevelt had sent a fleet of American battleships on a round-the-world cruise not unlike the march of Queen Ann's Army.
Because of her sole Private's mutiny, Queen Ann's Army is unable to fight, but Tik-Tok volunteers to take the job. The question of finding the Nome King's cavern is solved when ex-Private Files suggests that the Rose Princess Ozga ask some of the nearby flowers. Being a flower herself, she can talk to them. She does, and a stand of daisies point the way.
Let me now point out that our story currently has eight major protagonists (Queen Ann, ex-Pfc Files, Betsy, Hank, the Shaggy Man, ex-Princess Ozga, and Tik-Tok) along with twenty supporting characters (the officers of Ann's Army). That's a huge cast for a stage play and a rather unwieldy one for a short novel. Why is ex-Princess Ozga in this story at all? Polychrome could do all the "lovely fairy maiden" jobs (and has a much more colorful personality; Ozga's a bit of a wallflower).
Thinking about it, this is a feature of many Oz books, and I'm not sure why Mr. Baum felt it necessary to cram so many speaking parts into his later stories. Was it just padding? If six or eight people have to introduce themselves every time they encounter some new wacky wayside tribe or band of randomly hostile freaks, that's good for an extra page or two per chapter. Or was he being governed by his dreams of making the books into shows? But I can't really think why he would want to crowd his stage — each extra character meant an actor who'd want a paycheck. Perhaps he was playing to his strengths: Baum was good at creating interesting characters, and maybe he found that easier than plotting.
Next time: Nomes!
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