The wall completely surrounded the wicker castle, and its sharp points prevented anyone from climbing it. Even the Patchwork Girl might be ripped to pieces if she dared attempt it. "Ah!" exclaimed the Wizard cheerfully, "Ugu is now using one of my own tricks against me. But this is more serious than the Barrier of Fire, because the only way to destroy the wall is to get on the other side of it."
"How can that be done?" asked Dorothy.
The Wizard looked thoughtfully around his little party, and his face grew troubled. "It's a pretty high wall," he sadly remarked. "I'm pretty sure the Cowardly Lion could not leap over it."
"I'm sure of that, too!" said the Lion with a shudder of fear. "If I foolishly tried 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. "It is an uphill jump as well as being a high jump, but I'm considered something of a jumper by my friends in the Yip Country, and I believe a good, strong leap 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 Frogman modestly, "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 the Frogman, giving him the pin, "is to stick this into the other side of the wall."
"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 pin into the wall, and it will disappear."
The Frogman took off his handsome coat and carefully folded it and laid it on the grass. Then he removed his hat and laid it together with his gold-headed cane beside the coat. He then went back a way and made three powerful leaps in rapid succession. The first two leaps took him to the wall, and the third leap carried him well over it, to the amazement of all. For a short time, he disappeared from their view, but when he had obeyed the Wizard's injunction and had thrust the pin into the wall, the huge barrier vanished and showed them the form of the Frogman, who now went to where his coat lay and put it on again.
"We thank you very much," said the delighted Wizard.
"That was the most wonderful leap I ever saw, and it has saved us from defeat by our enemy. Let us now hurry on to the castle before Ugu the Shoemaker thinks 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 his own," replied the Wizard. "So if he is half as clever as he ought to be, we shall have trouble with him yet."
He had scarcely spoken these words when out from the gates of the wicker castle marched a regiment of soldiers, clad in gay uniforms and all bearing long, pointed spears and sharp battle axes. These soldiers were girls, and the uniforms were short skirts of yellow and black satin, golden shoes, bands of gold across their foreheads and necklaces of glittering jewels. Their jackets were scarlet, braided with silver cords. There were hundreds of these girl-soldiers, and they were more terrible than beautiful, being strong and fierce in appearance. They formed a circle all around the castle and faced outward, their spears pointed toward the invaders, and their battle axes held over their shoulders, ready to strike. Of course, our friends halted at once, for they had not expected this dreadful array of soldiery. The Wizard seemed puzzled, and his companions exchanged discouraged looks.
"I'd no idea Ugu had such an army as that," said Dorothy. "The castle doesn't look 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 the Shoemaker had so many people living with him, I'm sure the Czarover of Herku would have mentioned the fact to us."
"They're only girls!" laughed Scraps.