So Polychrome jerked again and again till slowly the great lids raised and the dragon looked at her steadily. Said he, in a sleepy tone: "What's the matter, little Rainbow?" "Come quick!" exclaimed Polychrome. "Ruggedo has captured all our friends and is about to destroy them." "Well, well," said Quox, "I suspected that would happen.
"I hope, Mr. Dragon, you won't mind our riding on your back." "Not a bit," replied Quox. "I'm in disgrace just now, you know, and the only way to redeem my good name is to obey the orders of the Jinjin. If he makes me a beast of burden, it is only a part of my punishment, and I must bear it like a dragon. I don't blame you people at all, and I hope you'll enjoy the ride. Hop on, please.
He gave a long sigh, as he said this, and a sheet of flame, several feet in length, shot from his mouth. Betsy shuddered and Hank said "Hee-haw!" while some of the officers screamed in terror. But the dragon did not notice that he had done anything unusual. "Is there fire inside of you?" asked Shaggy. "Of course," answered Quox. "What sort of a dragon would I be if my fire went out?"
"You are not a live thing; you're a dummy." "But I can do things, you must ad-mit," said Tik-Tok. "Yes, when you are wound up," sneered the dragon. "But if you run down, you are helpless." "What would happen to you, Quox, if you ran out of gasoline?" inquired Shaggy, who did not like this attack upon his friend. "I don't use gasoline." "Well, suppose you ran out of fire."
The head and face of Quox were not especially ugly, when you consider that he was a dragon; but his eyes were so large that it took him a long time to wink and his teeth seemed very sharp and terrible when they showed, which they did whenever the beast smiled.
"We must search the cavern until we find them," declared Shaggy; but when he went to the door leading to the other caverns he found it shut and barred. "I've a pretty strong push in my forehead," said Quox, "and I believe I can break down that door, even though it's made of solid gold."
Therefore I have selected Quox as my royal Instrument of Vengeance and he shall go through the Tube with these people and inflict upon Ruggedo the punishment I have decreed." All had listened quietly to this speech and now the Kings and Queens bowed gravely to signify their approval of the Jinjin's judgment. Tititi-Hoochoo turned to Tubekins.
"Good-bye, and good luck to you!" called Tubekins; but no one thought to reply, because just then the dragon slid his great body into the Tube and the journey to the other side of the world had begun. At first they went so fast that they could scarcely catch their breaths, but presently Quox slowed up and said with a sort of cackling laugh: "My scales! but that is some tumble.
Some of the officers tumbled off their seats when Quox struck the ground, but most of the dragon's passengers only felt a slight jar. All were glad to be on solid earth again and they at once dismounted and began to look about them.
So he called out: "Welcome, my dear Quox, to my royal entertainment. Since you are here, you shall witness some very neat magic, and after I have finished with Files and Tik-Tok I mean to transform you into a tiny lizard one of the chameleon sort and you shall live in my cavern and amuse me."