While Dickie was in the midst of his adventures at the ho-bo village, his charming sister Eleanor made her cunning way towards town in the hopes of finding some sign of the departed corpse of Little Sigmundt.
She passed through a wood ripe with the tang of mid-summer; here she saw the industrious toil of many tiny forest creatures, and she paused only to savor the lilting song of the Whorled Flopbird before knocking it from the air with a sprig of rhubarb and devouring it whole with her strong, rubbery lips.
By and by she came to the town, which was newly decked with streamers and used tires to celebrate the coming of Count Otto's Twig, Nut, and Moss Harvest Ball. Eleanor shivered with joy, for she could barely imagine the happy times awaiting her at this, her first formal dance! Why, anything could happen there! Would some handsome young man ask to dance with her? Would he hold her hand? Would she be -- could she be -- the Belle of the Ball?
These happy thoughts were soon driven from her head when she heard raised voices coming from the Druggist's shop by the side of the little stream where children cast their fishing lines and dove for "soggy knees," a kind of submarine pretzel. Inside the shop she found the mayor, the doctor, and Count Otto himself, all in deep discussion with a small figure crouched in shadow atop a barrel of cheese.
"Now, now, son," the Mayor was saying. "Let's be a good boy and get down from the cheese barrel, there's a nice little fellow."
"No fellow am I," responded the shadowy lad in a husky snarl, "nor even human. I am Beast-Demon Polternstoerung, and I have come to foretell your doom!"
The figure moved into the light, and Eleanor felt herself shiver, for she was suddenly looking at none other than Little Sigmundt himself; but such a Little Sigmundt as she had never seen! His eyes were sunken, empty pools; his once neatly-oiled locks were now a wild, tangled mane, and also there was a thin stream of pungent smoke curling from his nostrils at the moment.
"Doom," repeated Little Sigmundt. "Doooooooooooooom!"
"This shall not do," commented the mayor. "We cannot have a beast-demon as a resident of our town! Where would he live? Zoning laws must apply."
"There is also a threat to our citizens' moral health," replied the doctor. "The druggist tells me that the lad came here demanding to purchase spirits and obscene Turkish postcards."
"I object to the threatening tenor of his expression," remaked Count Otto irritably. "What is this 'doom' to which he refers?"
Little Sigmundt leered grotesquely at the assembled gentlemen. "You shall all be soon covered in a thick blanket of ash; your city will be crushed by fire from the depths of the Earth!"
"I have no idea to what event the boy refers," shrugged the mayor, as off in the distance Old Smokey rumbled and shook the glass bottles on the druggist's shelves.
"Nor I," said the doctor. "As inscrutable threats go, this one is particularly obscure."
"Ask the wolf-girl, then," replied Little Sigmundt, and pointed a snaky finger at Eleanor.
Count Otto turned and gasped as he beheld her standing at the door. "My dear!" he exclaimed, and hobbled rapidly over to kiss her hand. "I regret that you should have witnessed such a scene! Come, let me take you far from here, to luncheon at my estate. Hans, bring my donkey!"
"But, Count," exclaimed the mayor. "What of the boy and his threat of doom?"
"They concern me not one whit," replied Count Otto as he escorted Eleanor from the shop. "Let the lad eat the barrel of cheese -- that will keep him busy."
"It is true, I love cheese," remarked the beast-demon that was once Little Sigmundt.
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