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Chapter 22 – In the Wicker Castle

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

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No sooner were the Wizard of Oz and his followers well within the
castle entrance when the big gates swung to with a clang and heavy
bars dropped across them. They looked at one another uneasily, but no
one cared to speak of the incident. If they were indeed prisoners in
the wicker castle, it was evident they must find a way to escape, but
their first duty was to attend to the errand on which they had come
and seek the Royal Ozma, whom they believed to be a prisoner of the
magician, and rescue her.

They found they had entered a square courtyard, from which an entrance
led into the main building of the castle. No person had appeared to
greet them so far, although a gaudy peacock perched upon the wall
cackled with laughter and said in its sharp, shrill voice, “Poor
fools! Poor fools!”

“I hope the peacock is mistaken,” remarked the Frogman, but no one
else paid any attention to the bird. They were a little awed by the
stillness and loneliness of the place. As they entered the doors of
the castle, which stood invitingly open, these also closed behind them
and huge bolts shot into place. The animals had all accompanied the
party into the castle because they felt it would be dangerous for them
to separate. They were forced to follow a zigzag passage, turning
this way and that, until finally they entered a great central hall,
circular in form and with a high dome from which was suspended an
enormous chandelier.

The Wizard went first, and Dorothy, Betsy and Trot followed him, Toto
keeping at the heels of his little mistress. Then came the Lion, the
Woozy and the Sawhorse, then Cayke the Cookie Cook and Button-Bright,
then the Lavender Bear carrying the Pink Bear, and finally the Frogman
and the Patchwork Girl, with Hank the Mule tagging behind. So it was
the Wizard who caught the first glimpse of the big, domed hall, but
the others quickly followed and gathered in a wondering group just
within the entrance.

Upon a raised platform at one side was a heavy table on which lay
Glinda’s Great Book of Records, but the platform was firmly fastened
to the floor and the table was fastened to the platform and the Book
was chained fast to the table, just as it had been when it was kept in
Glinda’s palace. On the wall over the table hung Ozma’s Magic
Picture. On a row of shelves at the opposite side of the hall stood
all the chemicals and essences of magic and all the magical
instruments that had been stolen from Glinda and Ozma and the Wizard,
with glass doors covering the shelves so that no one could get at
them.

And in a far corner sat Ugu the Shoemaker, his feet lazily extended,
his skinny hands clasped behind his head. He was leaning back at his
ease and calmly smoking a long pipe. Around the magician was a sort
of cage, seemingly made of golden bars set wide apart, and at his
feet, also within the cage, reposed the long-sought diamond-studded
dishpan of Cayke the Cookie Cook. Princess Ozma of Oz was nowhere to
be seen.

“Well, well,” said Ugu when the invaders had stood in silence for a
moment, staring about them. “This visit is an unexpected pleasure, I
assure you. I knew you were coming, and I know why you are here. You
are not welcome, for I cannot use any of you to my advantage, but as
you have insisted on coming, I hope you will make the afternoon call
as brief as possible. It won’t take long to transact your business
with me. You will ask me for Ozma, and my reply will be that you may
find her–if you can.”

“Sir,” answered the Wizard in a tone of rebuke, “you are a very wicked
and cruel person. I suppose you imagine, because you have stolen this
poor woman’s dishpan and all the best magic in Oz, that you are more
powerful than we are and will be able to triumph over us.”

“Yes,” said Ugu the Shoemaker, slowly filling his pipe with fresh
tobacco from a silver bowl that stood beside him, “that is exactly
what I imagine. It will do you no good to demand from me the girl who
was formerly the Ruler of Oz, because I will not tell you where I have
hidden her, and you can’t guess in a thousand years. Neither will I
restore to you any of the magic I have captured. I am not so foolish.
But bear this in mind: I mean to be the Ruler of Oz myself, hereafter,
so I advise you to be careful how you address your future Monarch.”

“Ozma is still Ruler of Oz, wherever you may have hidden her,”
declared the Wizard. “And bear this in mind, miserable Shoemaker: we
intend to find her and to rescue her in time, but our first duty and
pleasure will be to conquer you and then punish you for your
misdeeds.”

“Very well, go ahead and conquer,” said Ugu. “I’d really like to see
how you can do it.”

Now although the little Wizard had spoken so boldly, he had at the
moment no idea how they might conquer the magician. He had that
morning given the Frogman, at his request, a dose of zosozo from his
bottle, and the Frogman had promised to fight a good fight if it was
necessary, but the Wizard knew that strength alone could not avail
against magical arts. The toy Bear King seemed to have some pretty
good magic, however, and the Wizard depended to an extent on that.
But something ought to be done right away, and the Wizard didn’t know
what it was.

While he considered this perplexing question and the others stood
looking at him as their leader, a queer thing happened. The floor of
the great circular hall on which they were standing suddenly began to
tip. Instead of being flat and level, it became a slant, and the
slant grew steeper and steeper until none of the party could manage to
stand upon it. Presently they all slid down to the wall, which was
now under them, and then it became evident that the whole vast room
was slowly turning upside down! Only Ugu the Shoemaker, kept in place
by the bars of his golden cage, remained in his former position, and
the wicked magician seemed to enjoy the surprise of his victims
immensely.

First they all slid down to the wall back of them, but as the room
continued to turn over, they next slid down the wall and found
themselves at the bottom of the great dome, bumping against the big
chandelier which, like everything else, was now upside down. The
turning movement now stopped, and the room became stationary. Looking
far up, they saw Ugu suspended in his cage at the very top, which had
once been the floor.

“Ah,” said he, grinning down at them, “the way to conquer is to act,
and he who acts promptly is sure to win. This makes a very good
prison, from which I am sure you cannot escape. Please amuse
yourselves in any way you like, but I must beg you to excuse me, as I
have business in another part of my castle.”

Saying this, he opened a trap door in the floor of his cage (which was
now over his head) and climbed through it and disappeared from their
view. The diamond dishpan still remained in the cage, but the bars
kept it from falling down on their heads.

“Well, I declare,” said the Patchwork Girl, seizing one of the bars of
the chandelier and swinging from it, “we must peg one for the
Shoemaker, for he has trapped us very cleverly.”

“Get off my foot, please,” said the Lion to the Sawhorse.

“And oblige me, Mr. Mule,” remarked the Woozy, “by taking your tail
out of my left eye.”

“It’s rather crowded down here,” explained Dorothy, “because the dome
is rounding and we have all slid into the middle of it. But let us
keep as quiet as possible until we can think what’s best to be done.”

“Dear, dear!”wailed Cayke, “I wish I had my darling dishpan,” and she
held her arms longingly toward it.

“I wish I had the magic on those shelves up there,” sighed the Wizard.

“Don’t you s’pose we could get to it?” asked Trot anxiously.

“We’d have to fly,” laughed the Patchwork Girl.

But the Wizard took the suggestion seriously, and so did the Frogman.
They talked it over and soon planned an attempt to reach the shelves
where the magical instruments were. First the Frogman lay against the
rounding dome and braced his foot on the stem of the chandelier; then
the Wizard climbed over him and lay on the dome with his feet on the
Frogman’s shoulders; the Cookie Cook came next; then Button-Bright
climbed to the woman’s shoulders; then Dorothy climbed up and Betsy
and Trot, and finally the Patchwork Girl, and all their lengths made a
long line that reached far up the dome, but not far enough for Scraps
to touch the shelves.

“Wait a minute. Perhaps I can reach the magic,” called the Bear King,
and began scrambling up the bodies of the others. But when he came to
the Cookie Cook, his soft paws tickled her side so that she squirmed
and upset the whole line. Down they came, tumbling in a heap against
the animals, and although no one was much hurt, it was a bad mix-up,
and the Frogman, who was at the bottom, almost lost his temper before
he could get on his feet again.

Cayke positively refused to try what she called “the pyramid act”
again, and as the Wizard was now convinced they could not reach the
magic tools in that manner, the attempt was abandoned. “But SOMETHING
must be done,” said the Wizard, and then he turned to the Lavender
Bear and asked, “Cannot Your Majesty’s magic help us to escape from
here?”

“My magic powers are limited,” was the reply. “When I was stuffed,
the fairies stood by and slyly dropped some magic into my stuffing.
Therefore I can do any of the magic that’s inside me, but nothing
else. You, however, are a wizard, and a wizard should be able to do
anything.”

“Your Majesty forgets that my tools of magic have been stolen,” said
the Wizard sadly, “and a wizard without tools is as helpless as a
carpenter without a hammer or saw.”

“Don’t give up,” pleaded Button-Bright, “20’cause if we can’t get
out of this queer prison, we’ll all starve to death.”

“Not I!” laughed the Patchwork Girl, now standing on top of the
chandelier at the place that was meant to be the bottom of it.

“Don’t talk of such dreadful things,” said Trot, shuddering. “We came
here to capture the Shoemaker, didn’t we?”

“Yes, and to save Ozma,” said Betsy.

“And here we are, captured ourselves, and my darling dishpan up there
in plain sight!” wailed the Cookie Cook, wiping her eyes on the tail
of the Frogman’s coat.

“Hush!” called the Lion with a low, deep growl. “Give the Wizard time
to think.”

“He has plenty of time,” said Scraps. “What he needs is the
Scarecrow’s brains.”

After all, it was little Dorothy who came to their rescue, and her
ability to save them was almost as much a surprise to the girl as it
was to her friends. Dorothy had been secretly testing the powers of
her Magic Belt, which she had once captured from the Nome King, and
experimenting with it in various ways ever since she had started on
this eventful journey. At different times she had stolen away from
the others of her party and in solitude had tried to find out what the
Magic Belt could do and what it could not do. There were a lot of
things it could not do, she discovered, but she learned some things
about the Belt which even her girl friends did not suspect she knew.

For one thing, she had remembered that when the Nome King owned it,
the Magic Belt used to perform transformations, and by thinking hard
she had finally recalled the way in which such transformations had
been accomplished. Better than this, however, was the discovery that
the Magic Belt would grant its wearer one wish a day. All she need do
was close her right eye and wiggle her left toe and then draw a long
breath and make her wish. Yesterday she had wished in secret for a
box of caramels, and instantly found the box beside her. Today she
had saved her daily wish in case she might need it in an emergency,
and the time had now come when she must use the wish to enable her to
escape with her friends from the prison in which Ugu had caught them.

So without telling anyone what she intended to do–for she had only
used the wish once and could not be certain how powerful the Magic
Belt might be–Dorothy closed her right eye and wiggled her left big
toe and drew a long breath and wished with all her might. The next
moment the room began to revolve again, as slowly as before, and by
degrees they all slid to the side wall and down the wall to the
floor–all but Scraps, who was so astonished that she still clung to
the chandelier. When the big hall was in its proper position again
and the others stood firmly upon the floor of it, they looked far up
the dome and saw the Patchwork girl swinging from the chandelier.

“Good gracious!” cried Dorothy.”How ever will you get down?”

“Won’t the room keep turning?” asked Scraps.

“I hope not. I believe it has stopped for good,” said Princess
Dorothy.

“Then stand from under, so you won’t get hurt!” shouted the
PatchworkGirl, and as soon as they had obeyed this request, she let go the
chandelier and came tumbling down heels over head and twisting and
turning in a very exciting manner. Plump! She fell on the tiled
floor, and they ran to her and rolled her and patted her into shape
again.

 

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