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.