Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz HTML version

13. The Den of the Dragonettes
Our friends had a good start and were able to maintain it, for with their eight wings they
could go just as fast as could the Gargoyles. All the way to the great rock the wooden
people followed them, and when Jim finally alighted at the mouth of the cavern the
pursuers were still some distance away.
"But, I'm afraid they'll catch us yet," said Dorothy, greatly excited.
"No; we must stop them," declared the Wizard. "Quick Zeb, help me pull off these
wooden wings!"
They tore off the wings, for which they had no further use, and the Wizard piled them in
a heap just outside the entrance to the cavern. Then he poured over them all the kerosene
oil that was left in his oil-can, and lighting a match set fire to the pile.
The flames leaped up at once and the bonfire began to smoke and roar and crackle just as
the great army of wooden Gargoyles arrived. The creatures drew back at once, being
filled with fear and horror; for such as dreadful thing as a fire they had never before
known in all the history of their wooden land.
Inside the archway were several doors, leading to different rooms built into the mountain,
and Zeb and the Wizard lifted these wooden doors from their hinges and tossed them all
on the flames.
"That will prove a barrier for some time to come," said the little man, smiling pleasantly
all over his wrinkled face at the success of their stratagem. "Perhaps the flames will set
fire to all that miserable wooden country, and if it does the loss will be very small and the
Gargoyles never will be missed. But come, my children; let us explore the mountain and
discover which way we must go in order to escape from this cavern, which is getting to
be almost as hot as a bake-oven."
To their disappointment there was within this mountain no regular flight of steps by
means of which they could mount to the earth's surface. A sort of inclined tunnel led
upward for a way, and they found the floor of it both rough and steep. Then a sudden turn
brought them to a narrow gallery where the buggy could not pass. This delayed and
bothered them for a while, because they did not wish to leave the buggy behind them. It
carried their baggage and was useful to ride in wherever there were good roads, and since
it had accompanied them so far in their travels they felt it their duty to preserve it. So Zeb
and the Wizard set to work and took off the wheels and the top, and then they put the
buggy edgewise, so it would take up the smallest space. In this position they managed,
with the aid of the patient cab-horse, to drag the vehicle through the narrow part of the
passage. It was not a great distance, fortunately, and when the path grew broader they put
the buggy together again and proceeded more comfortably. But the road was nothing
more than a series of rifts or cracks in the mountain, and it went zig-zag in every
direction, slanting first up and then down until they were puzzled as to whether they were
any nearer to the top of the earth than when they had started, hours before.
"Anyhow," said Dorothy, "we've 'scaped those awful Gurgles, and that's ONE comfort!"