On the east edge of the Land of Oz, in the Munchkin Country, is
a big, tall hill called Mount Munch. One one side, the bottom of
this hill just touches the Deadly Sandy Desert that separates the
Fairyland of Oz from all the rest of the world, but on the other
side, the hill touches the beautiful, fertile Country of the
The Munchkin folks, however, merely stand off and look at Mount
Munch and know very little about it; for, about a third of the way
up, its sides become too steep to climb, and if any people live
upon the top of that great towering peak that seems to reach nearly
to the skies, the Munchkins are not aware of the fact.
But people DO live there, just the same. The top of Mount Munch
is shaped like a saucer, broad and deep, and in the saucer are
fields where grains and vegetables grow, and flocks are fed, and
brooks flow and trees bear all sorts of things. There are houses
scattered here and there, each having its family of Hyups, as the
people call themselves. The Hyups seldom go down the mountain, for
the same reason that the Munchkins never climb up: the sides are
In one of the houses lived a wise old Hyup named Bini Aru, who
used to be a clever Sorcerer. But Ozma of Oz, who rules everyone in
the Land of Oz, had made a decree that no one should practice magic
in her dominions except Glinda the Good and the Wizard of Oz, and
when Glinda sent this royal command to the Hyups by means of a
strong-winged Eagle, old Bini Aru at once stopped performing
magical arts. He destroyed many of his magic powders and tools of
magic, and afterward honestly obeyed the law. He had never seen
Ozma, but he knew she was his Ruler and must be obeyed.
There was only one thing that grieved him. He had discovered a
new and secret method of transformations that was unknown to any
other Sorcerer. Glinda the Good did not know it, nor did the little
Wizard of Oz, nor Dr. Pipt nor old Mombi, nor anyone else who dealt
in magic arts. It was Bini Aru's own secret. By its means, it was
the simplest thing in the world to transform anyone into beast,
bird or fish, or anything else, and back again, once you know how
to pronounce the mystical word: "Pyrzqxgl."
Bini Aru had used this secret many times, but not to cause evil
or suffering to others. When he had wandered far from home and was
hungry, he would say: "I want to become a cow—Pyrzqxgl!" In an
instant he would be a cow, and then he would eat grass and satisfy
his hunger. All beasts and birds can talk in the Land of Oz, so
when the cow was no longer hungry, it would say: "I want to be Bini
Aru again: Pyrzqxgl!" and the magic word, properly pronounced,
would instantly restore him to his proper form.
Now, of course, I would not dare to write down this magic word
so plainly if I thought my readers would pronounce it properly and
so be able to transform themselves and others, but it is a fact
that no one in all the world except Bini Aru, had ever (up to the
time this story begins) been able to pronounce "Pyrzqxgl!" the
right way, so I think it is safe to give it to you. It might be
well, however, in reading this story aloud, to be careful not to
pronounce Pyrzqxgl the proper way, and thus avoid all danger of the
secret being able to work mischief.
Bini Aru, having discovered the secret of instant
transformation, which required no tools or powders or other
chemicals or herbs and always worked perfectly, was reluctant to
have such a wonderful discovery entirely unknown or lost to all
human knowledge. He decided not to use it again, since Ozma had
forbidden him to do so, but he reflected that Ozma was a girl and
some time might change her mind and allow her subjects to practice
magic, in which case Bini Aru could again transform himself and
others at will,—unless, of course, he forgot how to pronounce
Pyrzqxgl in the meantime.
After giving the matter careful thought, he decided to write the
word, and how it should be pronounced, in some secret place, so
that he could find it after many years, but where no one else could
ever find it.
That was a clever idea, but what bothered the old Sorcerer was
to find a secret place. He wandered all over the Saucer at the top
of Mount Munch, but found no place in which to write the secret
word where others might not be likely to stumble upon it. So
finally he decided it must be written somewhere in his own
Bini Aru had a wife named Mopsi Aru who was famous for making
fine huckleberry pies, and he had a son named Kiki Aru who was not
famous at all. He was noted as being cross and disagreeable because
he was not happy, and he was not happy because he wanted to go down
the mountain and visit the big world below and his father would not
let him. No one paid any attention to Kiki Aru, because he didn't
amount to anything, anyway.
Once a year there was a festival on Mount Munch which all the
Hyups attended. It was held in the center of the saucer-shaped
country, and the day was given over to feasting and merry-making.
The young folks danced and sang songs; the women spread the tables
with good things to eat, and the men played on musical instruments
and told fairy tales.
Kiki Aru usually went to these festivals with his parents, and
then sat sullenly outside the circle and would not dance or sing or
even talk to the other young people. So the festival did not make
him any happier than other days, and this time he told Bini Aru and
Mopsi Aru that he would not go. He would rather stay at home and be
unhappy all by himself, he said, and so they gladly let him
But after he was left alone Kiki decided to enter his father's
private room, where he was forbidden to go, and see if he could
find any of the magic tools Bini Aru used to work with when he
practiced sorcery. As he went in Kiki stubbed his toe on one of the
floor boards. He searched everywhere but found no trace of his
father's magic. All had been destroyed.
Much disappointed, he started to go out again when he stubbed
his toe on the same floor board. That set him thinking. Examining
the board more closely, Kiki found it had been pried up and then
nailed down again in such a manner that it was a little higher than
the other boards. But why had his father taken up the board? Had he
hidden some of his magic tools underneath the floor?
Kiki got a chisel and pried up the board, but found nothing
under it. He was just about to replace the board when it slipped
from his hand and turned over, and he saw something written on the
underside of it. The light was rather dim, so he took the board to
the window and examined it, and found that the writing described
exactly how to pronounce the magic word Pyrzqxgl, which would
transform anyone into anything instantly, and back again when the
word was repeated.
Now, at first, Kiki Aru didn't realize what a wonderful secret
he had discovered; but he thought it might be of use to him and so
he took a piece of paper and made on it an exact copy of the
instructions for pronouncing Pyrzqxgl. Then he folded the paper and
put it in his pocket, and replaced the board in the floor so that
no one would suspect it had been removed.
After this Kiki went into the garden and sitting beneath a tree
made a careful study of the paper. He had always wanted to get away
from Mount Munch and visit the big world—especially the Land of
Oz—and the idea now came to him that if he could transform himself
into a bird, he could fly to any place he wished to go and fly back
again whenever he cared to. It was necessary, however, to learn by
heart the way to pronounce the magic word, because a bird would
have no way to carry a paper with it, and Kiki would be unable to
resume his proper shape if he forgot the word or its
So he studied it a long time, repeating it a hundred times in
his mind until he was sure he would not forget it. But to make
safety doubly sure he placed the paper in a tin box in a neglected
part of the garden and covered the box with small stones.
By this time it was getting late in the day and Kiki wished to
attempt his first transformation before his parents returned from
the festival. So he stood on the front porch of his home and
"I want to become a big, strong bird, like a hawk—Pyrzqxgl!" He
pronounced it the right way, so in a flash he felt that he was
completely changed in form. He flapped his wings, hopped to the
porch railing and said: "Caw-oo! Caw-oo!"
Then he laughed and said half aloud: "I suppose that's the funny
sound this sort of a bird makes. But now let me try my wings and
see if I'm strong enough to fly across the desert."
For he had decided to make his first trip to the country outside
the Land of Oz. He had stolen this secret of transformation and he
knew he had disobeyed the law of Oz by working magic. Perhaps
Glinda or the Wizard of Oz would discover him and punish him, so it
would be good policy to keep away from Oz altogether.
Slowly Kiki rose into the air, and resting on his broad wings,
floated in graceful circles above the saucer-shaped mountain-top.
From his height, he could see, far across the burning sands of the
Deadly Desert, another country that might be pleasant to explore,
so he headed that way, and with strong, steady strokes of his
wings, began the long flight.