When they were back at the witch-queen's palace in the city of Ix, the queen insisted that Bud and Fluff with their Aunt Rivette should remain her guests until the cloak could be restored to its former complete state. And for fear something else might happen to the precious garment, a silver chest was placed in Princess Fluff's room and the magic cloak safely locked therein, the key being carried upon the chain around the girl's neck.
But their plans to wait patiently were soon interfered with by the arrival at Zixi's court of the talking dog, Ruffles, which had with much difficulty escaped from the Roly-Rogues. Ruffles brought to them so sad and harrowing a tale of the sufferings of the five high counselors and all the people of Noland at the hands of the fierce Roly-Rogues that Princess Fluff wept bitterly for her friends, and Bud became so cross and disagreeable that even Zixi was provoked with him.
"Something really must be done," declared the queen. "I'll brew a magical mess in my witch kettle tonight and see if I can find a way to destroy those detestable Roly-Rogues."
Indeed, she feared the creatures would some day find their way into Ix, so when all the rest of those in the palace were sound asleep, Zixi worked her magic spell, and from the imps she summoned she obtained advice how to act in order to get rid of the Roly-Rogues. Next morning she questioned Ruffles carefully. "What do the Roly-Rogues eat?" she asked.
"Everything," said the dog, "for they have no judgment and consume buttons and hairpins as eagerly as they do food. But there is one thing they are really fond of, and that is soup. They oblige old Tollydob, the lord high general who works in the palace kitchen, to make them a kettle of soup every morning, and this they all eat as if they were half starving."
"Very good!" exclaimed the witch-queen with pleasure. "I think I see a way of ridding all Noland of these monsters. Here is a Silver Vial filled with a magic liquid. I will tie it around your neck, and you must return to the city of Nole and carry the vial to Tollydob, the lord high general. Tell him that on Thursday morning, when he makes the kettle of soup, he must put the contents of the vial into the compound. But let no one taste it afterward except the Roly-Rogues."
"And what then?" asked Ruffles curiously.
"Then I will myself take charge of the monsters, and I have reason to believe the good citizens of Noland will no longer find themselves slaves."
"All right," said the dog. "I will do as you bid me, for I long to free my master and have revenge on the Roly-Rogues."
So Queen Zixi tied the Silver Vial to the dog's neck by means of a broad ribbon, and he started at once to return to Nole. And when he had gone, the queen summoned all her generals and bade them assemble the entire army and prepare to march into Noland again. Only this time, instead of being at enmity with the people of Noland, the army of Ix was to march to their relief, and instead of bearing swords and spears, each man bore a coil of strong rope. "For," said Zixi, "swords and spears are useless where the Roly-Rogues are concerned, as nothing can pierce their tough, rubber-like bodies. And more nations have been conquered by cunning than by force of arms."
Bud and Fluff, not knowing what the witch-queen meant to do, were much disturbed by these preparations to march upon the Roly-Rogues. The monsters had terrified them so greatly that they dreaded to meet with them again, and Bud declared that the safest plan was to remain in Zixi's kingdom and await the coming of the miller's son with the necktie.
"But," remonstrated Zixi, "in the meantime your people are suffering terribly."
"I know," said Bud, "and it nearly drives me frantic to think of it. But they will be no better off if we try to fight the Roly-Rogues and are ourselves made slaves."
"Why not try the magic cloak as it is," suggested the little princess, "and see if it won't grant wishes as before? There's only a small piece missing, and it may not make any difference with the power the fairies gave to it."
"Hooray!" shouted Bud. "That's a good idea. It's a magic cloak just the same, even if there is a chunk cut out of it."
Zixi agreed that it was worth a trial, so the cloak was taken from the silver casket and brought into the queen's reception room. "Let us try it on one of your maids of honor first," said Fluff, "and if it grants her wish, we will know the cloak has lost none of its magic powers. Then you and Bud may both make your wishes."
"Very well," returned the queen, and she summoned one of her maids.
"I am going to give you my cloak," said the princess to the maid, "and while you wear it, you must make a wish."
She threw the cloak over the girl's shoulders and after a moment's thought, the maid said, "I wish for a bushel of candies."
"Fudge!" said Bud scornfully.
"No, all kinds of candies," answered the maid of honor. But although they watched her intently, the wish failed absolutely, for no bushel of candies appeared in sight.
"Let us try it again," suggested Fluff while the others wore disappointed expressions. "It was a foolish wish anyhow, and perhaps the fairies did not care to grant it."
So another maid was called and given the cloak to wear. "And may I wish for anything I desire?" she asked eagerly.
"Of course," answered the princess, "but as you can have but one wish, you must choose something sensible."
"Oh, I will," declared the maid. "I wish I had yellow hair and blue eyes."
"Why did you wish that?" asked Fluff angrily, for the girl had pretty brown hair and eyes.
"Because the young man I am going to marry says he likes blondes better than brunettes," answered the maid, blushing.
But her hair did not change its color, for all the wish, and the maid said, with evident disappointment, "Your magic cloak seems to be a fraud."
"It does not grant foolish wishes," returned the princess as she dismissed her.
When the maid had gone, Zixi asked, "Well, are you satisfied?"
"Yes," acknowledged Fluff. "The cloak will not grant wishes unless it is complete. We must wait for the sailorman's necktie."
"Then my army shall march tomorrow morning," said the queen, and she went away to give the order to her generals.