Frank Baum >> The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (page 12)

But what interested Dorothy most was the big throne of green marble that stood in the middle of the room. It was shaped like a chair and sparkled with gems, as did everything else. In the center of the chair was an enormous Head, without a body to support it or any arms or legs whatever. There was no hair upon this head, but it had eyes and a nose and mouth, and was much bigger than the head of the biggest giant.

As Dorothy gazed upon this in wonder and fear, the eyes turned slowly and looked at her sharply and steadily. Then the mouth moved, and Dorothy heard a voice say:

''I am Oz, the Great and Terrible. Who are you, and why do you seek me?''

It was not such an awful voice as she had expected to come from the big Head; so she took courage and answered:

''I am Dorothy, the Small and Meek. I have come to you for help.''

The eyes looked at her thoughtfully for a full minute. Then said the voice:

''Where did you get the silver shoes?''

''I got them from the Wicked Witch of the East, when my house fell on her and killed her,'' she replied.

''Where did you get the mark upon your forehead?'' continued the voice.

''That is where the Good Witch of the North kissed me when she bade me Good-bye and sent me to you,'' said the girl.

Again the eyes looked at her sharply, and they saw she was telling the truth. Then Oz asked, ''What do you wish me to do?''

''Send me back to Kansas, where my Aunt Em and Uncle Henry are,'' she answered earnestly. ''I don't like your country, although it is so beautiful. And I am sure Aunt Em will be dreadfully worried over my being away so long.''

The eyes winked three times, and then they turned up to the ceiling and down to the floor and rolled around so queerly that they seemed to see every part of the room. And at last they looked at Dorothy again.

''Why should I do this for you?'' asked Oz.

''Because you are strong and I am weak; because you are a Great Wizard and I am only a little girl.''

''But you were strong enough to kill the Wicked Witch of the East,'' said Oz.

''That just happened,'' returned Dorothy simply; ''I could not help it.''

''Well,'' said the Head, ''I will give you my answer. You have no right to expect me to send you back to Kansas unless you do something for me in return. In this country everyone must pay for everything he gets. If you wish me to use my magic power to send you home again you must do something for me first. Help me and I will help you.''

''What must I do?'' asked the girl.

''Kill the Wicked Witch of the West,'' answered Oz.

''But I cannot!'' exclaimed Dorothy, greatly surprised.

''You killed the Witch of the East and you wear the silver shoes, which bear a powerful charm. There is now but one Wicked Witch left in all this land, and when you can tell me she is dead I will send you back to Kansas - but not before.''

The little girl began to weep, she was so much disappointed; and the eyes winked again and looked upon her anxiously, as if the Great Oz felt that she could help him if she would.

''I never killed anything, willingly,'' she sobbed. ''Even if I wanted to, how could I kill the Wicked Witch? If you, who are Great and Terrible, cannot kill her yourself, how do you expect me to do it?''

''I do not know,'' said the Head; ''but that is my answer, and until the Wicked Witch dies you will not see your uncle and aunt again. Remember that the Witch is Wicked - tremendously Wicked - and ought to be killed. Now go, and do not ask to see me again until you have done your task.''

Sorrowfully Dorothy left the Throne Room and went back where the Lion and the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman were waiting to hear what Oz had said to her. ''There is no hope for me,'' she said sadly, ''for Oz will not send me home until I have killed the Wicked Witch of the West; and that I can never do.''

Her friends were sorry, but could do nothing to help her; so Dorothy went to her own room and lay down on the bed and cried herself to sleep.

The next morning the soldier with the green whiskers came to the Scarecrow and said:

''Come with me, for Oz has sent for you.''

So the Scarecrow followed him and was admitted into the great Throne Room, where he saw, sitting in the emerald throne, a most lovely Lady. She was dressed in green silk gauze and wore upon her flowing green locks a crown of jewels. Growing from her shoulders were wings, gorgeous in color and so light that they fluttered if the slightest breath of air reached them.

When the Scarecrow had bowed, as prettily as his straw stuffing would let him, before this beautiful creature, she looked upon him sweetly, and said:

''I am Oz, the Great and Terrible. Who are you, and why do you seek me?''

Now the Scarecrow, who had expected to see the great Head Dorothy had told him of, was much astonished; but he answered her bravely.

''I am only a Scarecrow, stuffed with straw. Therefore I have no brains, and I come to you praying that you will put brains in my head instead of straw, so that I may become as much a man as any other in your dominions.''

''Why should I do this for you?'' asked the Lady.

''Because you are wise and powerful, and no one else can help me,'' answered the Scarecrow.

''I never grant favors without some return,'' said Oz; ''but this much I will promise. If you will kill for me the Wicked Witch of the West, I will bestow upon you a great many brains, and such good brains that you will be the wisest man in all the Land of Oz.''

''I thought you asked Dorothy to kill the Witch,'' said the Scarecrow, in surprise.

''So I did. I don't care who kills her. But until she is dead I will not grant your wish. Now go, and do not seek me again until you have earned the brains you so greatly desire.''

The Scarecrow went sorrowfully back to his friends and told them what Oz had said; and Dorothy was surprised to find that the Great Wizard was not a Head, as she had seen him, but a lovely Lady.

''All the same,'' said the Scarecrow, ''she needs a heart as much as the Tin Woodman.''

On the next morning the soldier with the green whiskers came to the Tin Woodman and said:

''Oz has sent for you. Follow me.''

So the Tin Woodman followed him and came to the great Throne Room. He did not know whether he would find Oz a lovely Lady or a Head, but he hoped it would be the lovely Lady. ''For,'' he said to himself, ''if it is the head, I am sure I shall not be given a heart, since a head has no heart of its own and therefore cannot feel for me. But if it is the lovely Lady I shall beg hard for a heart, for all ladies are themselves said to be kindly hearted.

But when the Woodman entered the great Throne Room he saw neither the Head nor the Lady, for Oz had taken the shape of a most terrible Beast. It was nearly as big as an elephant, and the green throne seemed hardly strong enough to hold its weight. The Beast had a head like that of a rhinoceros, only there were five eyes in its face. There were five long arms growing out of its body, and it also had five long, slim legs. Thick, woolly hair covered every part of it, and a more dreadful-looking monster could not be imagined. It was fortunate the Tin Woodman had no heart at that moment, for it would have beat loud and fast from terror. But being only tin, the Woodman was not at all afraid, although he was much disappointed.

''I am Oz, the Great and Terrible,'' spoke the Beast, in a voice that was one great roar. ''Who are you, and why do you seek me?''

''I am a Woodman, and made of tin. Therefore I have no heart, and cannot love. I pray you to give me a heart that I may be as other men are. ''

''Why should I do this?'' demanded the Beast.

''Because I ask it, and you alone can grant my request,'' answered the Woodman.

Oz gave a low growl at this, but said, gruffly: ''If you indeed desire a heart, you must earn it.''

''How?'' asked the Woodman.

''Help Dorothy to kill the Wicked Witch of the West,'' replied the Beast. ''When the Witch is dead, come to me, and I will then give you the biggest and kindest and most loving heart in all the Land of Oz.''

So the Tin Woodman was forced to return sorrowfully to his friends and tell them of the terrible Beast he had seen. They all wondered greatly at the many forms the Great Wizard could take upon himself, and the Lion said:

''If he is a Beast when I go to see him, I shall roar my loudest, and so frighten him that he will grant all I ask. And if he is the lovely Lady, I shall pretend to spring upon her, and so compel her to do my bidding. And if he is the great Head, he will be at my mercy; for I will roll this head all about the room until he promises to give us what we desire. So be of good cheer, my friends, for all will yet be well.''

Title: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Author: Frank Baum
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