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Chapter 21 The Lion Becomes the King of Beasts

  • After climbing down from the china wall the travelers found themselves in _isagreeable country, full of bogs and marshes and covered with tall, ran_rass. It was difficult to walk without falling into muddy holes, for th_rass was so thick that it hid them from sight. However, by carefully pickin_heir way, they got safely along until they reached solid ground. But here th_ountry seemed wilder than ever, and after a long and tiresome walk throug_he underbrush they entered another forest, where the trees were bigger an_lder than any they had ever seen.
  • "This forest is perfectly delightful," declared the Lion, looking around hi_ith joy. "Never have I seen a more beautiful place."
  • "It seems gloomy," said the Scarecrow.
  • "Not a bit of it," answered the Lion. "I should like to live here all my life.
  • See how soft the dried leaves are under your feet and how rich and green th_oss is that clings to these old trees. Surely no wild beast could wish _leasanter home."
  • "Perhaps there are wild beasts in the forest now," said Dorothy.
  • "I suppose there are," returned the Lion, "but I do not see any of the_bout."
  • They walked through the forest until it became too dark to go any farther.
  • Dorothy and Toto and the Lion lay down to sleep, while the Woodman and th_carecrow kept watch over them as usual.
  • When morning came, they started again. Before they had gone far they heard _ow rumble, as of the growling of many wild animals. Toto whimpered a little,
  • but none of the others was frightened, and they kept along the well-trodde_ath until they came to an opening in the wood, in which were gathere_undreds of beasts of every variety. There were tigers and elephants and bear_nd wolves and foxes and all the others in the natural history, and for _oment Dorothy was afraid. But the Lion explained that the animals wer_olding a meeting, and he judged by their snarling and growling that they wer_n great trouble.
  • As he spoke several of the beasts caught sight of him, and at once the grea_ssemblage hushed as if by magic. The biggest of the tigers came up to th_ion and bowed, saying:
  • "Welcome, O King of Beasts! You have come in good time to fight our enemy an_ring peace to all the animals of the forest once more."
  • "What is your trouble?" asked the Lion quietly.
  • "We are all threatened," answered the tiger, "by a fierce enemy which ha_ately come into this forest. It is a most tremendous monster, like a grea_pider, with a body as big as an elephant and legs as long as a tree trunk. I_as eight of these long legs, and as the monster crawls through the forest h_eizes an animal with a leg and drags it to his mouth, where he eats it as _pider does a fly. Not one of us is safe while this fierce creature is alive,
  • and we had called a meeting to decide how to take care of ourselves when yo_ame among us."
  • The Lion thought for a moment.
  • "Are there any other lions in this forest?" he asked.
  • "No; there were some, but the monster has eaten them all. And, besides, ther_ere none of them nearly so large and brave as you."
  • "If I put an end to your enemy, will you bow down to me and obey me as King o_he Forest?" inquired the Lion.
  • "We will do that gladly," returned the tiger; and all the other beasts roare_ith a mighty roar: "We will!"
  • "Where is this great spider of yours now?" asked the Lion.
  • "Yonder, among the oak trees," said the tiger, pointing with his forefoot.
  • "Take good care of these friends of mine," said the Lion, "and I will go a_nce to fight the monster."
  • He bade his comrades good-bye and marched proudly away to do battle with th_nemy.
  • The great spider was lying asleep when the Lion found him, and it looked s_gly that its foe turned up his nose in disgust. Its legs were quite as lon_s the tiger had said, and its body covered with coarse black hair. It had _reat mouth, with a row of sharp teeth a foot long; but its head was joined t_he pudgy body by a neck as slender as a wasp's waist. This gave the Lion _int of the best way to attack the creature, and as he knew it was easier t_ight it asleep than awake, he gave a great spring and landed directly upo_he monster's back. Then, with one blow of his heavy paw, all armed with shar_laws, he knocked the spider's head from its body. Jumping down, he watched i_ntil the long legs stopped wiggling, when he knew it was quite dead.
  • The Lion went back to the opening where the beasts of the forest were waitin_or him and said proudly:
  • "You need fear your enemy no longer."
  • Then the beasts bowed down to the Lion as their King, and he promised to com_ack and rule over them as soon as Dorothy was safely on her way to Kansas.