All that first day after the union of the two parties, our friends marche_teadily toward the wicker castle of Ugu the Shoemaker. When night came, the_amped in a little grove and passed a pleasant evening together, although som_f them were worried because Button-Bright was still lost.
"Perhaps," said Toto as the animals lay grouped together for the night, "thi_hoemaker 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 th_og.
"He has stolen everything he wants, perhaps," agreed the Lion, "but what coul_nyone want with your growl?"
"Well," said the dog, wagging his tail slowly, "my recollection is that it wa_ 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 migh_ave wanted mine and stolen it."
"And if he has, he will soon wish he hadn't," remarked the Mule. "Also, if h_as 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 o_atching him and looking after him. Any boy who causes his friends so muc_orry 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 _ery lucky boy because he always gets found."
"See here," said the Lion, "this chatter is keeping us all awake, and tomorro_s 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 i_ow. 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, "yo_ould be a more agreeable companion."
But they quieted down after that, and soon the entire camp was wrapped i_lumber. Next morning they made an early start, but had hardly proceeded o_heir way an hour when, on climbing a slight elevation, they beheld in th_istance a low mountain on top of which stood Ugu's wicker castle. It was _ood-sized building and rather pretty because the sides, roofs and domes wer_ll 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 magi_o 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 wa_rom 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 o_er 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 hel_he 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 mil_way 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 fin_zma and rescue her, there will be no need for us to fight that wicked an_angerous magician."
"Indeed!" said Cayke. "Then what about my dishpan?"
The Wizard looked puzzled at her tone of remonstrance, so she added, "Didn'_ou people from the Emerald City promise that we would all stick together, an_hat 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 Ozm_s 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. "The_ur 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 _mall but deep hole in the ground. At once, all rushed to the brim to pee_nto the hole, but instead of finding there Princess Ozma of Oz, all that the_aw was Button-Bright, who was lying asleep on the bottom.
Their cries soon wakened the boy, who sat up and rubbed his eyes. When h_ecognized 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 go_ost yesterday, as you may remember, and in the night while I was wanderin_round in the moonlight trying to find my way back to you, I suddenly fel_nto 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. Th_ides are so steep I can't climb out, so there was nothing to be done bu_leep until someone found me. Thank you for coming. If you'll please let dow_ 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 tha_howed his feelings were hurt. And then he turned the crank of the little Pin_ear 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 th_round."
"Don't be silly," returned Dorothy impatiently. "Even your beady eyes can se_here 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 a_east, his machinery has caused him to make an untrue statement."
The Bear King was so angry at this remark that he turned away, holding th_ink 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 frien_nd so enabled you to rescue him."
Scraps was leaning so far over the hole trying to find Ozma in it tha_uddenly she lost her balance and pitched in head foremost. She fell upo_utton-Bright and tumbled him over, but he was not hurt by her soft, stuffe_ody and only laughed at the mishap. The Wizard buckled some straps togethe_nd let one end of them down into the hole, and soon both Scraps and the bo_ad climbed up and were standing safely beside the others. They looked onc_ore for Ozma, but the hole was now absolutely vacant. It was a round hole, s_rom the top they could plainly see every part of it. Before they left th_lace, Dorothy went to the Bear King and said, "I'm sorry we couldn't believ_hat the little Pink Bear said, 'cause we don't want to make you feel bad b_oubting him. There must be a mistake, somewhere, and we prob'ly don'_nderstand just what the little Pink Bear said. Will you let me ask him on_ore question?"
The Lavender Bear King was a good-natured bear, considering how he was mad_nd stuffed and jointed, so he accepted Dorothy's apology and turned the cran_nd 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 th_ontradictory 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 Bea_as gone crazy."
"Perhaps," called Scraps, who was rapidly turning "cartwheels" all around th_erplexed 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 mad_nvisible," said the Wizard. And then he looked all around him and said in _olemn voice, "Ozma, are you here?"
There was no reply. Dorothy asked the question, too, and so did Button-Brigh_nd Trot and Betsy, but none received any reply at all.
"It's strange, it's terrible strange!" muttered Cayke the Cookie Cook. "I wa_ure that the little Pink Bear always tells the truth."
"I still believe in his honesty," said the Frogman, and this tribute s_leased the Bear King that he gave these last speakers grateful looks, bu_till gazed sourly on the others.
"Come to think of it," remarked the Wizard, "Ozma couldn't be invisible, fo_he is a fairy, and fairies cannot be made invisible against their will. O_ourse, 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 an_agic at his command."
"I wonder if she's been transformed into Button-Bright?" said Doroth_ervously. Then she looked steadily at the boy and asked, "Are you Ozma? Tel_e truly!"
"You're getting rattled, Dorothy," he replied. "Nothing ever enchants ME. If _ere Ozma, do you think I'd have tumbled into that hole?"
"Anyhow," said the Wizard, "Ozma would never try to deceive her friends o_revent them from recognizing her in whatever form she happened to be. Th_uzzle is still a puzzle, so let us go on to the wicker castle and questio_he magician himself. Since it was he who stole our Ozma, Ugu is the one wh_ust tell us where to find her.