Ragbad, in the southwestern corner of the Quadling Country, is one of the tiny principalities of Oz; its total population is a mere 27 families. Conditions are bad and getting worse; the formerly rich output of fabrics and the lush tapis trees have declined, and even the year's rag crop is failing. Worse yet, King Fumbo has lost his head in a thunderstorm. (His headless body remains active, and has to be restrained.)
In this crisis, an old soldier called Grampa steps forward. He and Prince Tatters set forth to find the king's missing head — and a fortune to save the kingdom, and a princess for the Prince, while they're at it. They are joined by Bill, an iron weathercock from Chicago who has been brought to life in an electrical storm and blown to Oz.
In Perhaps City in the Maybe Mountains, the prophet Abrog (alias Gorba) predicts that Princess Pretty Good will marry a monster in four days. He suggests a quick marriage to forestall this fate — with himself as her bridegroom. When her father demurs, Abrog kidnaps the girl and tries to transform her into mud. Yet since she is, in fact, more than just pretty good as princesses go, she turns into the beautiful flower fairy Urtha.
Grampa, Tatters, and Bill meet Urtha in Gorba's subterranean garden. The foursome proceeds on a wide-ranging adventure, "through earth, air, fire and water," from the heart Fire Island to the cold of Isa Poso; for a time they are transformed into crows.
Meanwhile, Dorothy meets Percy Vere the forgetful poet, the only man in Perhaps City who was brave enough to descend the Maybe Mountains in search of Pretty Good. They, of course, have adventures of their own; they get carried off on a runaway road, and are held prisoner by the laundresses of Monday Mountain.
In time, the forces of good combine, culminating in the defeat of the evil magician Gorba and the restoration of King Fumbo's head. Urtha is restored to her natural form — she is, of course, the missing princess. Prince Tatters ends up married to Pretty Good (which is pretty good for him).
As in her second book, Kabumpo in Oz, but unlike the precedents of Baum's books, Thompson makes fairy-tale romance a key element in this book. She also introduces an economic motive unusual for Oz; Prince Tatters needs to marry a rich princess to restore the threadbare fortunes of Ragbad.
"Kings and Princes are getting poorer and poorer every day." (Chapter 4)
|Ruth Plumly Thompson's Oz books|