Skampavia is "a small, no-account country" in the area of Noland. It is ruled by King Skamperoo, who is fat and slovenly, greedy, and not very bright. Skamperoo taxes his people rigorously, taking one third of their produce and wealth; yet his kingdom is so poor and barren that his gleanings are meager. Skamperoo wastes his time in futile dreams of glory — such as the conquest of Oz on the other side of the Deadly Desert.
One day, his tax agents bring in a fabulous emerald necklace, acquired from a merchant. Since this is a one-third share, there must be two more; Skamperoo confiscates all three necklaces. Inadvertently, he learns that the necklaces are magic talismans, when they grant him a wish: a great white horse with golden mane and tail suddenly appears to the king. The charger identifies himself as Chalk, and takes a condescending liking to the disreputable monarch. There is a trick to working the necklaces, which Skamperoo is not clever enough to figure out; but the magic horse Chalk has more than enough cleverness to master their intricacy. Together, the two set out to conquer Oz.
In Oz, a great celebration is being held, in honor of its "discoverers" Dorothy Gale and the Wizard. All of the many "celebrities" from Baum's and Thompson's books are gathered in the Emerald City. At a banquet, the flowing beard of the Soldier with the Green Whiskers suddenly and inexplicably turns red. Some of those present wonder if this portends some hostile magic. Dorothy happens to have one of the Wizard's wishing pills with her; she swallows it, and wishes, "Whatever happens, help me to save Ozma and Oz."
Suddenly, people start to disappear. Ozma vanishes, as do Glinda, the Wizard, Jinnicky the Red Jinn, and all the principle rulers and magic-workers present. Worse yet, people at the banquet do not realize that something bad is happening. Dorothy searches for the missing; instead she finds Chalk seated on Ozma's throne, with Skamperoo on his back. Everyone accepts and acclaims Skamperoo as the Emperor of Oz, and acts as if this has always been true.
Dorothy encounters Pigasus, the winged and flying poetry pig from Pirates in Oz. Pigasus is psychic; when Dorothy sits on his back he shares her memories and recalls the missing Ozians. Together, the two set out to look for Ozma and the others, and to find a way to reverse the powerful enchantment that has been laid over Oz.
In the Winkie Country they stumble into the Black Forest, where everything and everyone is converted to blackness. They meet Gloma, the witch queen of the Forest; in her isolation she knows nothing of Ozma and recent events in Oz — but she knows of Dorothy, and assumes that the fierce conqueror of the Wicked Witches of the East and West has come to destroy her too. Dorothy and Pigasus endure some frightening magic before they can convince Gloma that they are harmless and potential friends. Gloma supplies Dorothy with a magic box of darkness, restores her visitors' natural colors, and transports them to the Land of Ev.
There, the would-be rescuers seek help from King Kaliko in the Nome Kingdom. Kaliko is not happy to see them; to rid himself of his guests, Kaliko locates the missing Ozians with his magic spyglass, and informs Dorothy and Pigasus that they are hidden away in Thunder Mountain. The two leave for the north.
When they reach the shore of the Nonestic Ocean, Dorothy and Pigasus encounter the Seer of Some Summit and his magical moving castle. The benevolent Seer perceives what has happened, and returns with them to the Emerald City. With Gloma's magic darkness and the Seer's cleverness, they obtain the necklaces and confront Skamperoo and Chalk. The wishing horse agrees that he and his master will leave Oz, in return for a supply of five wishes. Dorothy and Pigasus are suspicious, but the Seer looks into the future and sees that all will come out right. Once the usurpers are gone, the magic of the necklaces is used to restore Oz to its rightful order. The Seer, a new friend and ally of Oz and Ozma, explains the genesis of the necklaces and the secret of their power.
Back in Skampavia, Chalk wisely turns the five wishes over to Pinny Penny, the king's responsible prime minister; he uses them to make Skampavia a prosperous little land ruled by a wise and virtuous Skamperoo.
The Wishing Horse of Oz was the last of the "Famous Forty" Oz books to be published with color illustrations. It was edited rather poorly, with typographical and other errors. (In Chapter 16, Pigasus reaches out and grabs a railing with his "hand" — which he doesn't have, since he's a pig.)
Gloma is Thompson's main addition to the roster of good and evil witches in Oz.
|Ruth Plumly Thompson's Oz books|