The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Page 2L. Frank Baum
The Council with The Munchkins.
She was awakened by a shock, so sudden and severe that if Dorothyhad not been lying on the soft bed she might have been hurt. As itwas, the jar made her catch her breath and wonder what had happened;and Toto put his cold little nose into her face and whined dismally.Dorothy sat up and noticed that the house was not moving; nor was itdark, for the bright sunshine came in at the window, flooding thelittle room. She sprang from her bed and with Toto at her heels ranand opened the door.
The little girl gave a cry of amazement and looked about her, hereyes growing bigger and bigger at the wonderful sights she saw.
The cyclone had set the house down, very gently--for a cyclone--inthe midst of a country of marvelous beauty. There were lovely patchesof green sward all about, with stately trees bearing rich andluscious fruits. Banks of gorgeous flowers were on every hand, andbirds with rare and brilliant plumage sang and fluttered in the treesand bushes. A little way off was a small brook, rushing and sparklingalong between green banks, and murmuring in a voice very grateful toa little girl who had lived so long on the dry, gray prairies.
While she stood looking eagerly at the strange and beautiful sights,she noticed coming toward her a group of the queerest people she hadever seen. They were not as big as the grown folk she had always beenused to; but neither were they very small. In fact, they seemed aboutas tall as Dorothy, who was a well-grown child for her age, althoughthey were, so far as looks go, many years older.
"_I am the Witch of the North._"]
Three were men and one a woman, and all were oddly dressed. They woreround hats that rose to a small point a foot above their heads, withlittle bells around the brims that tinkled sweetly as they moved. Thehats of the men were blue; the little woman's hat was white, and shewore a white gown that hung in plaits from her shoulders; over it weresprinkled little stars that glistened in the sun like diamonds. The menwere dressed in blue, of the same shade as their hats, and wore wellpolished boots with a deep roll of blue at the tops. The men, Dorothythought, were about as old as Uncle Henry, for two of them had beards.But the little woman was doubtless much older: her face was coveredwith wrinkles, her hair was nearly white, and she walked rather stiffly.
When these people drew near the house where Dorothy was standing inthe doorway, they paused and whispered among themselves, as if afraidto come farther. But the little old woman walked up to Dorothy, madea low bow and said, in a sweet voice,
"You are welcome, most noble Sorceress, to the land of the Munchkins.We are so grateful to you for having killed the wicked Witch of theEast, and for setting our people free from bondage."
Dorothy listened to this speech with wonder. What could the littlewoman possibly mean by calling her a sorceress, and saying shehad killed the wicked Witch of the East? Dorothy was an innocent,harmless little girl, who had been carried by a cyclone many milesfrom home; and she had never killed anything in all her life.
But the little woman evidently expected her to answer; so Dorothysaid, with hesitation,
"You are very kind; but there must be some mistake. I have not killedanything."
"Your house did, anyway," replied the little old woman, with a laugh;"and that is the same thing. See!" she continued, pointing to thecorner of the house; "there are her two toes, still sticking out fromunder a block of wood."
Dorothy looked, and gave a little cry of fright. There, indeed, justunder the corner of the great beam the house rested on, two feet weresticking out, shod in silver shoes with pointed toes.
"Oh, dear! oh, dear!" cried Dorothy, clasping her hands together indismay; "the house must have fallen on her. What ever shall we do?"
"There is nothing to be done," said the little woman, calmly.
"But who was she?" asked Dorothy.
"She was the wicked Witch of the East, as I said," answered thelittle woman. "She has held all the Munchkins in bondage for manyyears, making them slave for her night and day. Now they are all setfree, and are grateful to you for the favour."
"Who are the Munchkins?" enquired Dorothy.
"They are the people who live in this land of the East, where thewicked Witch ruled."
"Are you a Munchkin?" asked Dorothy.
"No; but I am their friend, although I live in the land of the North.When they saw the Witch of the East was dead the Munchkins sent a swiftmessenger to me, and I came at once. I am the Witch of the North."
"Oh, gracious!" cried Dorothy; "are you a real witch?"
"Yes, indeed;" answered the little woman. "But I am a good witch, andthe people love me. I am not as powerful as the wicked Witch was whoruled here, or I should have set the people free myself."
"But I thought all witches were wicked," said the girl, who was halffrightened at facing a real witch.
"Oh, no; that is a great mistake. There were only four witches in allthe Land of Oz, and two of them, those who live in the North and theSouth, are good witches. I know this is true, for I am one of themmyself, and cannot be mistaken. Those who dwelt in the East and theWest were, indeed, wicked witches; but now that you have killed oneof them, there is but one wicked Witch in all the Land of Oz--the onewho lives in the West."
"But," said Dorothy, after a moment's thought, "Aunt Em has told methat the witches were all dead--years and years ago."
"Who is Aunt Em?" inquired the little old woman.
"She is my aunt who lives in Kansas, where I came from."
The Witch of the North seemed to think for a time, with her headbowed and her eyes upon the ground. Then she looked up and said,
"I do not know where Kansas is, for I have never heard that countrymentioned before. But tell me, is it a civilized country?"
"Oh, yes;" replied Dorothy.
"Then that accounts for it. In the civilized countries I believethere are no witches left; nor wizards, nor sorceresses, normagicians. But, you see, the Land of Oz has never been civilized, forwe are cut off from all the rest of the world. Therefore we stillhave witches and wizards amongst us."
"Who are the Wizards?" asked Dorothy.
"Oz himself is the Great Wizard," answered the Witch, sinking hervoice to a whisper. "He is more powerful than all the rest of ustogether. He lives in the City of Emeralds."
Dorothy was going to ask another question, but just then the Munchkins,who had been standing silently by, gave a loud shout and pointed to thecorner of the house where the Wicked Witch had been lying.
"What is it?" asked the little old woman; and looked, and beganto laugh. The feet of the dead Witch had disappeared entirely andnothing was left but the silver shoes.
"She was so old," explained the Witch of the North, "that she driedup quickly in the sun. That is the end of her. But the silver shoesare yours, and you shall have them to wear." She reached down andpicked up the shoes, and after shaking the dust out of them handedthem to Dorothy.
"The Witch of the East was proud of those silver shoes," said one ofthe Munchkins; "and there is some charm connected with them; but whatit is we never knew."
Dorothy carried the shoes into the house and placed them on thetable. Then she came out again to the Munchkins and said,
"I am anxious to get back to my Aunt and Uncle, for I am sure theywill worry about me. Can you help me find my way?"
The Munchkins and the Witch first looked at one another, and then atDorothy, and then shook their heads.
"At the East, not far from here," said one, "there is a great desert,and none could live to cross it."
"It is the same at the South," said another, "for I have been thereand seen it. The South is the country of the Quadlings."
"I am told," said the third man, "that it is the same at the West. Andthat country, where the Winkies live, is ruled by the wicked Witch ofthe West, who would make you her slave if you passed her way."
"The North is my home," said the old lady, "and at its edge is thesame gr
eat desert that surrounds this land of Oz. I'm afraid, mydear, you will have to live with us."
Dorothy began to sob, at this, for she felt lonely among allthese strange people. Her tears seemed to grieve the kind-heartedMunchkins, for they immediately took out their handkerchiefs andbegan to weep also. As for the little old woman, she took off hercap and balanced the point on the end of her nose, while she counted"one, two, three" in a solemn voice. At once the cap changed to aslate, on which was written in big, white chalk marks:
"LET DOROTHY GO TO THE CITY OF EMERALDS."
The little old woman took the slate from her nose, and, having readthe words on it, asked,
"Is your name Dorothy, my dear?"
"Yes," answered the child, looking up and drying her tears.
"Then you must go to the City of Emeralds. Perhaps Oz will help you."
"Where is this City?" asked Dorothy.
"It is exactly in the center of the country, and is ruled by Oz, theGreat Wizard I told you of."
"Is he a good man?" enquired the girl, anxiously.
"He is a good Wizard. Whether he is a man or not I cannot tell, for Ihave never seen him."
"How can I get there?" asked Dorothy.
"You must walk. It is a long journey, through a country that issometimes pleasant and sometimes dark and terrible. However, I willuse all the magic arts I know of to keep you from harm."
"Won't you go with me?" pleaded the girl, who had begun to look uponthe little old woman as her only friend.
"No, I cannot do that," she replied; "but I will give you my kiss,and no one will dare injure a person who has been kissed by the Witchof the North."
She came close to Dorothy and kissed her gently on the forehead.Where her lips touched the girl they left a round, shining mark, asDorothy found out soon after.
"The road to the City of Emeralds is paved with yellow brick," said theWitch; "so you cannot miss it. When you get to Oz do not be afraid ofhim, but tell your story and ask him to help you. Good-bye, my dear."
The three Munchkins bowed low to her and wished her a pleasantjourney, after which they walked away through the trees. The Witchgave Dorothy a friendly little nod, whirled around on her left heelthree times, and straightway disappeared, much to the surprise oflittle Toto, who barked after her loudly enough when she had gone,because he had been afraid even to growl while she stood by.
But Dorothy, knowing her to be a witch, had expected her to disappearin just that way, and was not surprised in the least.