15. The Discovery of Oz, the Terrible
The four travelers walked up to the great gate of Emerald City and rang the bell. After ringing several times, it was opened by the same Guardian of the Gates they had met before.
"What! are you back again?" he asked, in surprise.
"Do you not see us?" answered the Scarecrow.
"But I thought you had gone to visit the Wicked Witch of the West."
"We did visit her," said the Scarecrow.
"And she let you go again?" asked the man, in wonder.
"She could not help it, for she is melted," explained the Scarecrow.
"Melted! Well, that is good news, indeed," said the man. "Who melted her?"
"It was Dorothy," said the Lion gravely.
"Good gracious!" exclaimed the man, and he bowed very low indeed before her.
Then he led them into his little room and locked the spectacles from the great box on all their eyes, just as he had done before. Afterward they passed on through the gate into the Emerald City. When the people heard from the Guardian of the Gates that Dorothy had melted the Wicked Witch of the West, they all gathered around the travelers and followed them in a great crowd to the Palace of Oz.
The soldier with the green whiskers was still on guard before the door, but he let them in at once, and they were again met by the beautiful green girl, who showed each of them to their old rooms at once, so they might rest until the Great Oz was ready to receive them.
The soldier had the news carried straight to Oz that Dorothy and the other travelers had come back again, after destroying the Wicked Witch; but Oz made no reply. They thought the Great Wizard would send for them at once, but he did not. They had no word from him the next day, nor the next, nor the next. The waiting was tiresome and wearing, and at last they grew vexed that Oz should treat them in so poor a fashion, after sending them to undergo hardships and slavery. So the Scarecrow at last asked the green girl to take another message to Oz, saying if he did not let them in to see him at once they would call the Winged Monkeys to help them, and find out whether he kept his promises or not. When the Wizard was given this message he was so frightened that he sent word for them to come to the Throne Room at four minutes after nine o'clock the next morning. He had once met the Winged Monkeys in the Land of the West, and he did not wish to meet them again.
The four travelers passed a sleepless night, each thinking of the gift Oz had promised to bestow on him. Dorothy fell asleep only once, and then she dreamed she was in Kansas, where Aunt Em was telling her how glad she was to have her little girl at home again.
Promptly at nine o'clock the next morning the green-whiskered soldier came to them, and four minutes later they all went into the Throne Room of the Great Oz.
Of course each one of them expected to see the Wizard in the shape he had taken before, and all were greatly surprised when they looked about and saw no one at all in the room. They kept close to the door and closer to one another, for the stillness of the empty room was more dreadful than any of the forms they had seen Oz take.
Presently they heard a solemn Voice, that seemed to come from somewhere near the top of the great dome, and it said:
"I am Oz, the Great and Terrible. Why do you seek me?"
They looked again in every part of the room, and then, seeing no one, Dorothy asked, "Where are you?"
"I am everywhere," answered the Voice, "but to the eyes of common mortals I am invisible. I will now seat myself upon my throne, that you may converse with me." Indeed, the Voice seemed just then to come straight from the throne itself; so they walked toward it and stood in a row while Dorothy said:
"We have come to claim our promise, O Oz."
"What promise?" asked Oz.
"You promised to send me back to Kansas when the Wicked Witch was destroyed," said the girl.
"And you promised to give me brains," said the Scarecrow.
"And you promised to give me a heart," said the Tin Woodman.
"And you promised to give me courage," said the Cowardly Lion.
"Is the Wicked Witch...
(The entire section is 2,753 words.)