FictionForest

Chapter 20 – More Surprises

L. Frank BaumOct 05, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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All that first day after the union of the two parties, our friends
marched steadily toward the wicker castle of Ugu the Shoemaker. When
night came, they camped in a little grove and passed a pleasant
evening together, although some of them were worried because
Button-Bright was still lost.

“Perhaps,” said Toto as the animals lay grouped together for the
night, “this Shoemaker who stole my growl and who stole Ozma has also
stolen Button-Bright.”

“How do you know that the Shoemaker stole your growl?” demanded the
Woozy.

“He has stolen about everything else of value in Oz, hasn’t he?”
replied the dog.

“He has stolen everything he wants, perhaps,” agreed the Lion, “but
what could anyone want with your growl?”

“Well,” said the dog, wagging his tail slowly, “my recollection is
that it was a wonderful growl, soft and low and–and–”

“And ragged at the edges,” said the Sawhorse.

“So,” continued Toto, “if that magician hadn’t any growl of his own,
he might have wanted mine and stolen it.”

“And if he has, he will soon wish he hadn’t,” remarked the Mule.
“Also, if he has stolen Button-Bright, he will be sorry.”

“Don’t you like Button-Bright, then?” asked the Lion in surprise.

“It isn’t a question of liking him,” replied the Mule. “It’s a
question of watching him and looking after him. Any boy who causes
his friends so much worry isn’t worth having around. I never get
lost.”

“If you did,” said Toto, “no one would worry a bit. I think
Button-Bright is a very lucky boy because he always gets found.”

“See here,” said the Lion, “this chatter is keeping us all awake, and
tomorrow is likely to be a busy day. Go to sleep and forget your
quarrels.”

“Friend Lion,” retorted the dog, “if I hadn’t lost my growl, you would
hear it now. I have as much right to talk as you have to sleep.”

The Lion sighed.

“If only you had lost your voice when you lost your
growl,” said he, “you would be a more agreeable companion.”

But they quieted down after that, and soon the entire camp was wrapped
in slumber. Next morning they made an early start, but had hardly
proceeded on their way an hour when, on climbing a slight elevation,
they beheld in the distance a low mountain on top of which stood Ugu’s
wicker castle. It was a good-sized building and rather pretty because
the sides, roofs and domes were all of wicker, closely woven as it is
in fine baskets.

“I wonder if it is strong?”said Dorothy musingly as she eyed the
queer castle.

“I suppose it is, since a magician built it,” answered the Wizard.
“With magic to protect it, even a paper castle might be as strong as
if made of stone. This Ugu must be a man of ideas, because he does
things in a different way from other people.”

“Yes. No one else would steal our dear Ozma,” sighed tiny Trot.

“I wonder if Ozma is there?” said Betsy, indicating the castle with a
nod of her head.

“Where else could she be?” asked Scraps.

“Suppose we ask the Pink Bear,” suggested Dorothy.

That seemed a good idea, so they halted the procession, and the Bear
King held the little Pink Bear on his lap and turned the crank in its
side and asked, “Where is Ozma of Oz?”

And the little Pink Bear answered, “She is in a hole in the ground a
half mile away at your left.”

“Good gracious!” cried Dorothy.

“Then she is not in Ugu’s castle at all.”

“It is lucky we asked that question,” said the Wizard, “for if we can
find Ozma and rescue her, there will be no need for us to fight that
wicked and dangerous magician.”

“Indeed!” said Cayke. “Then what about my dishpan?”

The Wizard looked puzzled at her tone of remonstrance, so she added,
“Didn’t you people from the Emerald City promise that we would all
stick together, and that you would help me to get my dishpan if I
would help you to get your Ozma? And didn’t I bring to you the little
Pink Bear, which has told you where Ozma is hidden?”

“She’s right,” said Dorothy to the Wizard.

“We must do as we agreed.”

“Well, first of all, let us go and rescue Ozma,” proposed the Wizard.
“Then our beloved Ruler may be able to advise us how to conquer Ugu
the Shoemaker.” So they turned to the left and marched for half a
mile until they came to a small but deep hole in the ground. At once,
all rushed to the brim to peer into the hole, but instead of finding
there Princess Ozma of Oz, all that they saw was Button-Bright, who
was lying asleep on the bottom.

Their cries soon wakened the boy, who sat up and rubbed his eyes.
When he recognized his friends, he smiled sweetly, saying, “Found
again!”

“Where is Ozma?” inquired Dorothy anxiously.

“I don’t know,” answered Button-Bright from the depths of the hole.
“I got lost yesterday, as you may remember, and in the night while I
was wandering around in the moonlight trying to find my way back to
you, I suddenly fell into this hole.”

“And wasn’t Ozma in it then?”

“There was no one in it but me, and I was sorry it wasn’t entirely
empty. The sides are so steep I can’t climb out, so there was nothing
to be done but sleep until someone found me. Thank you for coming.
If you’ll please let down a rope, I’ll empty this hole in a hurry.”

“How strange!” said Dorothy, greatly disappointed.

“It’s evident the Pink Bear didn’t tell the truth.”

“He never makes a mistake,” declared the Lavender Bear King in a tone
that showed his feelings were hurt. And then he turned the crank of
the little Pink Bear again and asked, “Is this the hole that Ozma of
Oz is in?”

“Yes,” answered the Pink Bear.

“That settles it,” said the King positively. “Your Ozma is in this
hole in the ground.”

“Don’t be silly,” returned Dorothy impatiently. “Even your beady eyes
can see there is no one in the hole but Button-Bright.”

“Perhaps Button-Bright is Ozma,” suggested the King.

“And perhaps he isn’t!

Ozma is a girl, and Button-Bright is a boy.”

“Your Pink Bear must be out of order,” said the Wizard, “for, this
time at least, his machinery has caused him to make an untrue
statement.”

The Bear King was so angry at this remark that he turned away, holding
the Pink Bear in his paws, and refused to discuss the matter in any
further way.

“At any rate,” said the Frogman, “the Pink Bear has led us to your boy
friend and so enabled you to rescue him.”

Scraps was leaning so far over the hole trying to find Ozma in it that
suddenly she lost her balance and pitched in head foremost. She fell
upon Button-Bright and tumbled him over, but he was not hurt by her
soft, stuffed body and only laughed at the mishap. The Wizard buckled
some straps together and let one end of them down into the hole, and
soon both Scraps and the boy had climbed up and were standing safely
beside the others. They looked once more for Ozma, but the hole was
now absolutely vacant. It was a round hole, so from the top they
could plainly see every part of it. Before they left the place,
Dorothy went to the Bear King and said, “I’m sorry we couldn’t believe
what the little Pink Bear said, ’cause we don’t want to make you feel
bad by doubting him. There must be a mistake, somewhere, and we
prob’ly don’t understand just what the little Pink Bear said. Will
you let me ask him one more question?”

The Lavender Bear King was a good-natured bear, considering how he was
made and stuffed and jointed, so he accepted Dorothy’s apology and
turned the crank and allowed the little girl to question his wee Pink
Bear.

“Is Ozma REALLY in this hole?” asked Dorothy.

“No,” said the little Pink Bear.

This surprised everybody. Even the Bear King was now
puzzled by the contradictory statements of his oracle.

“Where IS she?” asked the King.

“Here, among you,” answered the little Pink Bear.

“Well,” said Dorothy, “this beats me entirely! I guess the little
Pink Bear has gone crazy.”

“Perhaps,” called Scraps, who was rapidly turning “cartwheels” all
around the perplexed group, “Ozma is invisible.”

“Of course!” cried Betsy. That would account for it.”

“Well, I’ve noticed that people can speak, even when they’ve been made
invisible,” said the Wizard. And then he looked all around him and
said in a solemn voice, “Ozma, are you here?”

There was no reply. Dorothy asked the question, too, and so did
Button-Bright and Trot and Betsy, but none received any reply at all.

“It’s strange, it’s terrible strange!” muttered Cayke the Cookie Cook.
“I was sure that the little Pink Bear always tells the truth.”

“I still believe in his honesty,” said the Frogman, and this tribute
so pleased the Bear King that he gave these last speakers grateful
looks, but still gazed sourly on the others.

“Come to think of it,” remarked the Wizard, “Ozma couldn’t be
invisible, for she is a fairy, and fairies cannot be made invisible
against their will. Of course, she could be imprisoned by the
magician or enchanted or transformed, in spite of her fairy powers,
but Ugu could not render her invisible by any magic at his command.”

“I wonder if she’s been transformed into Button-Bright?” said Dorothy
nervously. Then she looked steadily at the boy and asked, “Are you
Ozma? Tell me truly!”

Button-Bright laughed.

“You’re getting rattled, Dorothy,” he replied.
“Nothing ever enchants ME. If I were Ozma, do you think I’d have
tumbled into that hole?”

“Anyhow,” said the Wizard, “Ozma would never try to deceive her
friends or prevent them from recognizing her in whatever form she
happened to be. The puzzle is still a puzzle, so let us go on to the
wicker castle and question the magician himself. Since it was he who
stole our Ozma, Ugu is the one who must tell us where to find her.”

 

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