Murder Most Foul
Author's note: This story was inspired by Insectlover. She asked for a little advice and some suggestions on a story she was working on. Thinking about and discussing H.M. Wogglebug T.E. for several days inspired me to write a bug story of my own. Parts of this story was copied directly from the accounts of the trial in the Royal Library of Oz parts of which were reprinted in Dorothy And The Wizard in Oz. That story is copyright 1908 and is now in the public domain.
The Wogglebug had his back to the lecture hall scribbling equations on the blackboard simultaneously with all four hands. "Now according to Professor Einstein's new Theory of Relativity, there is no absoloute time. Time moves at different speeds relative to the speed and acceleration of the observer relative to the speed of light. Now that . . ."
"Professor Wogglebug!" A pretty young girl with a green dress and apron stood in the doorway. "Princess Ozma sent me to tell you that we have visitors from the outside world! She would like you to come to the palace and meet them!"
Professor Wogglebug's eyes rose in surprise. "Visitors! That is unusual! My sweet Miss Jamb, tell Ozma I'll be there as soon as I finish explaining Relativity to my class."
"It's quite alright sir!" A young Quadling lad on the front row spoke out. "None of us has the slightest idea of what you're talking about anyway."
"My brain's full!" A Winkie girl moaned clutching her head with both hands.
"Hmm," The Wogglebug looked thoughtful. "Professor Einstein has prepared us a grand intellectual repast but perhaps it can be digested much better with smaller bites. Very well, you may all go out to the Ozball field. And while you're playing, contemplate how Newton's laws of motion and universal gravity affect the movement and trajectory of the ball. Class dismissed!"
The Wogglebug removed his academic robes revealing a brightly colored red, orange, blue and green suit. He replaced his morterboard with a bright yellow top hat and the two of them set off to the city gates. "How do you get all the latest scientific information from the outside world?" Jellia asked the Wogglebug as they walked to the Palace together.
"On my recent trip to the United States, I was able to obtain the services of a bookdealer to act as my agent. For a few small, commonplace gems he procures the latest books and sends them to me."
"How very clever!" she exclaimed.
"Yes it is." The Wogglebug stated proudly. "Remarkably clever! I have a vulture friend named Wattleneck who flies back and forth on a regular basis. I usually have no idea what new treasure he will bring me."
"A vulture! Ugh!" Jellia wrinkled her nose.
Professor Wogglebug frowned at her. "Now we shouldn't be bigoted. All creatures were put on Earth for a reason. Vultures are splendid creatures who can stay aloft for hours with but one flap of their wings! They are remarkably strong and can cover vast distances. We shouldn't despise a creature for just being what they are! Why our friend, Jack Pumpkinhead is remarkably stupid. He doesn't know if the earth goes around the sun or if the sun goes around the earth and I don't believe he cares. He's certainly not someone I would want to discuss deep matters of science and philosophy. But he's a good, loyal fellow and a jolly companion. I enjoy his company and I count myself lucky to have him as a friend."
When they entered the palace the Wogglebug stopped in front of a mirror to make sure his clothing was straight and clean. He straightened his bow tie and brushed some lint off his lapel. As he approached the door he could see the small party within. Of course he recognized little Dorothy Gale, there was no sign of Toto but Dorothy did have a small white cat. He also saw a young man he didn't recognize with a horse. There were no horses in Oz but he had seen thousands of them in America, this one was older than most. He then spotted the older man and his eyes narrowed. It couldn't be, what was he doing here?
The boy looked startled when the Wogglebug walked in but Princess Ozma just smiled. "This is my friend Mr. H. M. Wogglebug T.E., who assisted me one time when I was in great distress, and is now the Dean of the Royal College of Athletic Science."
"Ah," said the Wizard; "I'm pleased to meet so distinguished a personage." He extended his hand to the Wogglebug.
The Wogglebug ignored the hand. "H. M.," he said pompously, 'means Highly Magnified; and T. E. means Thoroughly Educated. I am, in reality, a very big bug and doubtless the most intellegent being in all this broad domain."
"How well you disguise it," said the Wizard, "But I don't doubt your word in the least." The Wogglebug detected a tone of sarcasm in his voice.
"Nobody doubts it, sir," the Wogglebug replied. He didn't want to keep talking to this horrible man, didn't want to stay in his presence. How could Ozma just sit there smiling through all this? Couldn't she remember who he was? What he did? He turned away and walked to a chair in the corner pulling a small book out of his pocket. Father Gregor Mendel would prove a much better companion and there were a few areas of his Laws of Genetic Inheritance that he wanted to brush up on. The conversation in the room carried on but the Wogglebug paid no attention as he read the book. With his mind's eye he could see himself in the garden of an Augustinian monastery in far away Austria. Dressed casually with his sleeves rolled up he was helping Brother Gregor take detailed, meticulous notes on his pea plants as the two of them tried to unravel the secrets of nature.
The next day the Wogglebug marched in the grand parade leading a group of his students dressed in identical striped sweaters. After the parade, Professor Wogglebug crowded into the throne room to see the Wizard perform his tricks. The Wogglebug had seen magicians perform in America and knew they had no more magic powers than Dorothy's cat. Some of them were remarkably clever and the Wizard was one of the clever ones. The first thing he did was pull a tiny pig out of his hat. Professor Wogglebug was astonished. He'd never seen a pig that small in either America or Oz and he wondered where the Wizard had found it. He watched the Wizard as he seemed to pull it apart making two piglets. He kept repeating the process until there were nine little piglets running around on the floor. There was great applause to this trick but the Wogglebug kept all four arms crossed. He also noticed that Dorothy's cat was staring at the piglets with an intense, hungry look. The Wizard then picked up the tiny piglets one at a time and pushed them together until they all disappeared.
"Oh, I'm so sorry they're gone!" Ozma exclaimed. "I would love to have one for a pet!"
The Wizard smiled at her. "For you my queen, anything!" He then apparently pulled a piglet out of Ozma's hair and presented it to her.
"Oh, isn't he darling!" she exclaimed. "I'll make him a collar studded with emeralds and keep him near me so he'll always be around to amuse me!"
The Wogglebug stuck around to see the rest of the magic show but left for the college before the athletic games started. He later heard that Jim the cab horse lost a horse race to the Sawhorse and behaved in a beastly manner afterwards.
One morning a few days later Jellia Jamb strode into the halls of the College of Athletic Science. She stopped one of the students. "Do you know where Professor Wogglebug is?"
The young man eyed the pretty young girl in the green apron and grinned sheepishly. "Down that hall, last door on the right. I can escort you if you like."
"It's quite all right. I'm sure I can find him. Thank you." She smiled at him and went down the hall to the door. She knocked on it.
"Come on in!"
She opened the door only to find Professor Wogglebug stripped to the waist, scrubbing a huge, ugly bird in a large gold tub of soapy water. The Wogglebug smiled at her.
"Hello Jellia, I'd like to introduce you to my good friend Wattleneck the vulture."
The horrible looking bird turned his large featherless head at her and looked her up and down. "Please ta meetcha!" he said in a hoarse, raspy voice.
"Wattleneck just arrived with some new books." The Wogglebug nodded at a cloth bag on a table with a couple of paper books stacked on top of it. The title of the top one read Basic Principles of Radio. The word meant nothing to her but the Wogglebug knew all kinds of strange words.
"Mr. Castle, my agent, cuts the covers off to save on weight. But we have several excellent bookbinders here. As for Mr. Wattleneck, like most vultures he's usually filthy and covered with parasites due to the nature of his diet. He doesn't like it anymore than anyone else would so I always give him a good antiseptic bath whenever he arrives."
Jellia hesitated. She considered Wattleneck to be one of the most repulsive creatures she'd ever met but Mr. Wogglebug seemed to consider him to be a friend and the reason she became a maid in the first place was because she loved to clean. She rolled her sleeves up, picked up a scrub brush and lifted Wattleneck's right wing to scrub underneath it. "Ozma sent me. Dorothy's kitten, Eureka, ate Ozma's piglet. There's going to be a trial."
"Hmm," The Wogglebug looked thoughtful as he cleaned some old blood off the top of Wattleneck's head. "We'll have to create a judicial system from scratch. What can you tell me about the case."
"This morning Ozma sent me into her boudoir to get her piglet. When I opened the door, Eureka crept out and ran up the stairs. I looked all over the room but couldn't find the piglet. When I told Ozma she and Dorothy also searched the room and found no trace of it. Ozma was very angry and Dorothy was very upset." She began cleaning Wattleneck's stomach and he grunted in happiness. "Dorothy sent me to get Eureka. She was hiding under Dorothy's bed and threatened to scratch my eyes out if I touched her. Dorothy had to threaten to send her to the Gargoyle country to get her out. The kitten acted very rudely and said there was no evidence of the crime and that Ozma was just guessing that she did it. Ozma ordered the kitten locked up and sent me here to find you. There will be a trial at three o'clock this afternoon."
The Wogglebug glanced up at the clock. "We should be finished here in about fifteen minutes or so. Mr. Wattleneck, I apologize that we won't have time for our usual tea and chat."
" 'S okay." He rasped.
Forty five minutes later the Wogglebug entered the Royal Library of Oz. It was a familiar place that he felt very comfortable in. Must be the reason Ozma chose to meet him here he mused. He walked on the highly polished marble floor between high shelves filled with books. Ahead of him he saw Princess Ozma sitting at a large cherry-wood table with a large silver bowl of fruit in the center of it. Professor Wogglebug bowed to her then took a seat at her right hand side. His left eye fixed on her as his right eye locked independently on the bowl of fruit. "May I?"
Ozma nodded, "Yes, of course." She told the Wogglebug who was already popping a grape into his mouth.
"Weren't you rather rude to our visitors the other day?"
The Wogglebug glanced over at her. "Was I?"
"You came in and introduced yourself as the most intelligent being in Oz."
"But I am the most intellegent being in Oz. You wouldn't want me to start lying would you?"
Ozma smiled, "Of course not. But you then walked away and ignored them."
The Wogglebug stared at a painting across the room of a little girl with a bucket standing next to a melting witch. "I didn't want to socialize with the Wizard or anyone who would accompany him."
"Don't your remember who he is? This is the man who sold you to Mombi to be her slave! He's a horrible man. I don't see why you even let him into the palace!"
Ozma gently tapped her fingertips on the table. "Things were complicated at that time. The Wizard had no real magical powers and was surrounded by very hostile people who did. He had to maintain a front as being an all powerful wizard. My father had disappeared and he was afraid of being exposed at any time. I was a mere baby and he was afraid I would be destroyed by one of the wicked witches if they ever found out he was a humbug. He had to hide me magically."
The Wogglebug was indignant, "But surely Glinda . . ."
"Glinda was behind the forest of fighting trees and the hill of the Hammerheads. But there was another witch. A good witch of the North. So he went into the Gillikin Country. There he eventually found Mombi who tricked him into thinking she was the Good Witch." Ozma stared off into the distance. "My childhood wasn't the happiest but I did survive. Oscar Diggs is a good man. He maintained an uneasy stalemate at a time when Oz could have erupted into open warfare. You should be friends."
The Wogglebug held his head high. "Friendship cannot be ordered, it must be earned! But I promise to treat him in a civil manner and if he is as good a man as you say then friendship may follow." He pulled a nice plump plum from the fruit bowl. "But you didn't call me in here to chide me on my lack of manners. Shall we move on to the main topic?"