The Roly-Rogues were so busy rioting that they did not look into the air and discover Aunt Rivette flying over the city. So she alighted, all unobserved, upon a balcony of the palace just outside the chamber of the Princess Fluff and succeeded in entering the room. The creatures had ransacked this apartment as they had every other part of the royal palace, and Fluff's pretty dresses and ornaments were strewn about in dreadful confusion. But the drawer in which rested the magic cloak was still locked, and in a few moments the old woman had the precious garment in her hands.
It was, as we know, the imitation cloak Queen Zixi had made and exchanged for the real one, but so closely did it resemble the fairy cloak that Aunt Rivette had no idea she was carrying a useless garment back to her little niece and nephew. On the contrary, she thought to herself, "Now we can quickly dispose of these monstrous rogues and drive them back to their own country."
Hearing someone moving about in the next room, she ran to the window and soon was flying away with the cloak to the place where she had left Bud and Fluff. "Good!" cried the lord high steward when he saw the cloak. "Now we have nothing more to fear. Put on your cloak, your Majesty, and make the wish."
Bud threw the cloak over his shoulders. "What shall I wish?" he asked.
"Let me see," answered Tallydab. "What we want is to get rid of these invaders. Wish them all in the kingdom of Ix."
"Oh, no!" cried Fluff. "It would be wicked to injure Queen Zixi and her people. Let us wish the Roly-Rogues back where they came from."
"That would be folly!" said the dog Ruffles with an accent of scorn. "For they could easily return again to our city of Nole, having once learned the way there."
"That is true," agreed Aunt Rivette. "The safest thing to do is to wish them all dead."
"But it would be an awful job to bury so many great balls," objected Bud. "It would keep all our people busy for a month at least."
"Why not wish them dead and buried?" asked Ruffles. "Then they would be out of the way for good and all."
"A capital idea!" responded Tallydab.
"But I haven't seen these curious creatures yet," said Bud, "and if I now wish them all dead and buried, I shall never get a glimpse of one of them. So let's walk boldly into the city, and when they appear to interfere with us, I'll make the wish and the Roly-Rogues will instantly disappear."
So the entire party returned to the city of Nole; Bud and Fluff riding their ponies, Aunt Rivette fluttering along beside them, and the lord high steward walking behind with his dog. The Roly-Rogues were so much surprised to see this little party boldly entering the streets of the city and showing no particle of fear of them that they at first made no offer to molest them. Even when Bud roared with laughter at their queer appearance and called them "mud-turtles" and "footballs" they did not resent the insults, for they had never heard of either a turtle or a football before.
When the party had reached the palace and the children had dismounted, Bud laughed yet louder, for the gigantic General Tollydob came to the kitchen door wearing an apron while he polished a big dishpan, the Roly-Rogues having made him a scullion.
The ruler of the Roly-Rogues was suffering from a tooth-ache, so he had rolled himself into a ball and made old Tullydub, the lord high counselor, rock him gently as he lay upon his back, just as one would rock a baby's cradle. Jikki was scratching the back of another Roly-Rogue with a sharp garden rake, while Jikki's six servants stood in a solemn row at his back. They would do anything for Jikki, but they would not lift a finger to serve anyone else, so the old valet had to do the scratching unaided.
These six young men had proved a great puzzle to the Roly-Rogues, for they found it impossible to touch them or injure them in any way; so, after several vain attempts to conquer them, they decided to leave Jikki's servants alone. The lord high pursebearer was waving a fan to keep the flies off two of the slumbering monsters, and the lord high executioner was feeding another Roly-Rogue with soup from a great ladle, the creature finding much amusement in being fed in this manner.
King Bud, feeling sure of making all his enemies disappear with a wish, found rare sport in watching his periwigged counselors thus serving their captors; so he laughed and made fun of them until the Roly-Rogue ruler stuck out his head and commanded the boy to run away. "Why, you ugly rascals, I'm the King of Noland," replied Bud, "so you'd better show me proper respect."
With that he picked up a good-sized pebble and threw it at the ruler. It struck him just over his aching tooth, and with a roar of anger the Roly-Rogue bounded toward Bud and his party. The assault was so sudden that they had much ado to scramble out of the way, and as soon as Bud could escape the rush of the huge ball, he turned squarely around and shouted, "I wish every one of the Roly-Rogues dead and buried!"
Hearing this and seeing that the king wore the magic cloak, all the high counselors at once raised a joyful shout, and Fluff and Bud gazed upon the Roly-Rogues expectantly, thinking that of course they would disappear. But Zixi's cloak had no magic powers whatever; and now dozens of the Roly-Rogues, aroused to anger, bounded toward Bud's little party.
I am sure the result would have been terrible had not Aunt Rivette suddenly come to the children's rescue. She threw one lean arm around Bud and the other around Fluff, and then, quickly fluttering her wings, she flew with them to the roof of the palace, which they reached in safety. The lord high steward and his dog went down before the rush, and the next moment old Tallydab was crying loudly for mercy, while Ruffles limped away to a safe spot beneath a bench under an apple tree, howling at every step and shouting angry epithets at the Roly-Rogues.
"I wonder what's wrong with the cloak," gasped Bud. "The old thing's a fraud; it didn't work."
"Something went wrong, that's certain," replied Fluff. "You're sure you hadn't wished before, aren't you?"
"Yes, I'm sure," said Bud.
"Perhaps," said Aunt Rivette, "the fairies have no power over these horrible creatures."
"That must be it, of course," said the princess. "But what shall we do now? Our country is entirely conquered by these monsters, so it isn't a safe place for us to stay in."
"I believe I can carry you anywhere you'd like to go," said Aunt Rivette. "You're not so very heavy."
"Suppose we go to Queen Zixi and ask her to protect us?" the princess suggested.
"That's all right if she doesn't bear us a grudge. You know we knocked out her whole army," remarked Bud.
"Quavo the minstrel says she is very beautiful and kind to her people," said the girl.
"Well, there's no one else we can trust," Bud answered gloomily, "so we may as well try Zixi. But if you drop either of us on the way, Aunt Rivette, I'll have to call in the lord high executioner."
"Never fear," said the old woman. "If I drop you, you'll never know what has happened. So each one of you put an arm around my neck and cling tight and I'll soon carry you over the mountain and the river into the kingdom of Ix."