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Chapter 21 Magic Against Magic

  • The Wizard's advice was good, so again they started in the direction of th_ow mountain on the crest of which the wicker castle had been built. They ha_een gradually advancing uphill, so now the elevation seemed to them more lik_ round knoll than a mountaintop. However, the sides of the knoll were slopin_nd covered with green grass, so there was a stiff climb before them yet.
  • Undaunted, they plodded on and had almost reached the knoll when they suddenl_bserved that it was surrounded by a circle of flame. At first, the flame_arely rose above the ground, but presently they grew higher and higher unti_ circle of flaming tongues of fire taller than any of their heads quit_urrounded the hill on which the wicker castle stood. When they approached th_lames, the heat was so intense that it drove them back again.
  • "This will never do for me!" exclaimed the Patchwork Girl. "I catch fire ver_asily."
  • "It won't do for me either," grumbled the Sawhorse, prancing to the rear.
  • "I also strongly object to fire," said the Bear King, following the Sawhors_o a safe distance and hugging the little Pink Bear with his paws.
  • "I suppose the foolish Shoemaker imagines these blazes will stop us," remarke_he Wizard with a smile of scorn for Ugu. "But I am able to inform you tha_his is merely a simple magic trick which the robber stole from Glinda th_ood, and by good fortune I know how to destroy these flames as well as how t_roduce them. Will some one of you kindly give me a match?"
  • You may be sure the girls carried no matches, nor did the Frogman or any o_he animals. But Button-Bright, after searching carefully through his pockets,
  • which contained all sorts of useful and useless things, finally produced _atch and handed it to the Wizard, who tied it to the end of a branch which h_ore from a small tree growing near them. Then the little Wizard carefull_ighted the match, and running forward thrust it into the nearest flame.
  • Instantly, the circle of fire began to die away, and soon vanished completel_eaving the way clear for them to proceed.
  • "That was funny!" laughed Button-Bright.
  • "Yes," agreed the Wizard, "it seems odd that a little match could destroy suc_ great circle of fire, but when Glinda invented this trick, she believed n_ne would ever think of a match being a remedy for fire. I suppose even Ug_oesn't know how we managed to quench the flames of his barrier, for onl_linda and I know the secret. Glinda's Book of Magic which Ugu stole told ho_o make the flames, but not how to put them out."
  • They now formed in marching order and proceeded to advance up the slope of th_ill, but had not gone far when before them rose a wall of steel, the surfac_f which was thickly covered with sharp, gleaming points resembling daggers.
  • The wall completely surrounded the wicker castle, and its sharp point_revented anyone from climbing it. Even the Patchwork Girl might be ripped t_ieces if she dared attempt it. "Ah!" exclaimed the Wizard cheerfully, "Ugu i_ow using one of my own tricks against me. But this is more serious than th_arrier of Fire, because the only way to destroy the wall is to get on th_ther side of it."
  • "How can that be done?" asked Dorothy.
  • The Wizard looked thoughtfully around his little party, and his face gre_roubled. "It's a pretty high wall," he sadly remarked. "I'm pretty sure th_owardly Lion could not leap over it."
  • "I'm sure of that, too!" said the Lion with a shudder of fear. "If I foolishl_ried such a leap, I would be caught on those dreadful spikes."
  • "I think I could do it, sir," said the Frogman with a bow to the Wizard. "I_s an uphill jump as well as being a high jump, but I'm considered somethin_f a jumper by my friends in the Yip Country, and I believe a good, stron_eap will carry me to the other side."
  • "I'm sure it would," agreed the Cookie Cook.
  • "Leaping, you know, is a froglike accomplishment," continued the Frogma_odestly, "but please tell me what I am to do when I reach the
  • "You're a brave creature," said the Wizard admiringly. "Has anyone a pin?"
  • Betsy had one, which she gave him. "All you need do," said the Wizard to th_rogman, giving him the pin, "is to stick this into the other side of th_all."
  • "But the wall is of steel!" exclaimed the big frog.
  • "I know. At least, it SEEMS to be steel, but do as I tell you. Stick the pi_nto the wall, and it will disappear."
  • The Frogman took off his handsome coat and carefully folded it and laid it o_he grass. Then he removed his hat and laid it together with his gold-heade_ane beside the coat. He then went back a way and made three powerful leaps i_apid succession. The first two leaps took him to the wall, and the third lea_arried him well over it, to the amazement of all. For a short time, h_isappeared from their view, but when he had obeyed the Wizard's injunctio_nd had thrust the pin into the wall, the huge barrier vanished and showe_hem the form of the Frogman, who now went to where his coat lay and put it o_gain.
  • "We thank you very much," said the delighted Wizard.
  • "That was the most wonderful leap I ever saw, and it has saved us from defea_y our enemy. Let us now hurry on to the castle before Ugu the Shoemake_hinks up some other means to stop us."
  • "We must have surprised him so far," declared Dorothy.
  • "Yes indeed. The fellow knows a lot of magic—all of our tricks and some of hi_wn," replied the Wizard. "So if he is half as clever as he ought to be, w_hall have trouble with him yet."
  • He had scarcely spoken these words when out from the gates of the wicke_astle marched a regiment of soldiers, clad in gay uniforms and all bearin_ong, pointed spears and sharp battle axes. These soldiers were girls, and th_niforms were short skirts of yellow and black satin, golden shoes, bands o_old across their foreheads and necklaces of glittering jewels. Their jacket_ere scarlet, braided with silver cords. There were hundreds of these girl-
  • soldiers, and they were more terrible than beautiful, being strong and fierc_n appearance. They formed a circle all around the castle and faced outward,
  • their spears pointed toward the invaders, and their battle axes held ove_heir shoulders, ready to strike. Of course, our friends halted at once, fo_hey had not expected this dreadful array of soldiery. The Wizard seeme_uzzled, and his companions exchanged discouraged looks.
  • "I'd no idea Ugu had such an army as that," said Dorothy. "The castle doesn'_ook big enough to hold them all."
  • "It isn't," declared the Wizard.
  • "But they all marched out of it."
  • "They seemed to, but I don't believe it is a real army at all. If Ugu th_hoemaker had so many people living with him, I'm sure the Czarover of Herk_ould have mentioned the fact to us."
  • "They're only girls!" laughed Scraps.
  • "Girls are the fiercest soldiers of all," declared the Frogman. "They are mor_rave than men, and they have better nerves. That is probably why the magicia_ses them for soldiers and has sent them to oppose us."
  • No one argued this statement, for all were staring hard at the line o_oldiers, which now, having taken a defiant position, remained motionless.
  • "Here is a trick of magic new to me," admitted the Wizard after a time. "I d_ot believe the army is real, but the spears may be sharp enough to prick us,
  • nevertheless, so we must be cautious. Let us take time to consider how to mee_his difficulty."
  • While they were thinking it over, Scraps danced closer to the line of gir_oldiers. Her button eyes sometimes saw more than did the natural eyes of he_omrades, and so after staring hard at the magician's army, she boldl_dvanced and danced right through the threatening line! On the other side, sh_aved her stuffed arms and called out, "Come on, folks. The spears can't hur_ou." said the Wizard gaily. "An optical illusion, as I thought. Let us al_ollow the Patchwork Girl." The three little girls were somewhat nervous i_ttempting to brave the spears and battle axes, but after the others ha_afely passed the line, they ventured to follow. And when all had passe_hrough the ranks of the girl army, the army itself magically disappeared fro_iew.
  • All this time our friends had been getting farther up the hill and nearer t_he wicker castle. Now, continuing their advance, they expected something els_o oppose their way, but to their astonishment nothing happened, and presentl_hey arrived at the wicker gates, which stood wide open, and boldly entere_he domain of Ugu the Shoemaker.