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Chapter 18 The Fate of the Tin Woodman

  • Dorothy obeyed. She ran at once behind the Nome King, who was still trying t_ree his eyes from the egg, and in a twinkling she had unbuckled his splendi_eweled belt and carried it away with her to her place beside the Tiger an_ion, where, because she did not know what else to do with it, she fastened i_round her own slim waist.
  • Just then the Chief Steward rushed in with a sponge and a bowl of water, an_egan mopping away the broken eggs from his master's face. In a few minutes, and while all the party stood looking on, the King regained the use of hi_yes, and the first thing he did was to glare wickedly upon the Scarecrow an_xclaim:
  • "I'll make you suffer for this, you hay-stuffed dummy! Don't you know eggs ar_oison to Nomes?"
  • "Really," said the Scarecrow, "they DON'T seem to agree with you, although _onder why."
  • "They were strictly fresh and above suspicion," said Billina. "You ought to b_lad to get them."
  • "I'll transform you all into scorpions!" cried the King, angrily, and bega_aving his arms and muttering magic words.
  • But none of the people became scorpions, so the King stopped and looked a_hem in surprise.
  • "What's wrong?" he asked.
  • "Why, you are not wearing your magic belt," replied the Chief Steward, afte_ooking the King over carefully. "Where is it? What have you done with it?"
  • The Nome King clapped his hand to his waist, and his rock colored face turne_hite as chalk.
  • "It's gone," he cried, helplessly. "It's gone, and I am ruined!"
  • Dorothy now stepped forward and said:
  • "Royal Ozma, and you, Queen of Ev, I welcome you and your people back to th_and of the living. Billina has saved you from your troubles, and now we wil_eave this drea'ful place, and return to Ev as soon as poss'ble."
  • While the child spoke they could all see that she wore the magic belt, and _reat cheer went up from all her friends, which was led by the voices of th_carecrow and the private. But the Nome King did not join them. He crept bac_nto his throne like a whipped dog, and lay there bitterly bemoaning hi_efeat.
  • "But we have not yet found my faithful follower, the Tin Woodman," said Ozm_o Dorothy, "and without him I do not wish to go away."
  • "Nor I," replied Dorothy, quickly. "Wasn't he in the palace?"
  • "He must be there," said Billina; "but I had no clue to guide me in guessin_he Tin Woodman, so I must have missed him."
  • "We will go back into the rooms," said Dorothy. "This magic belt, I am sure, will help us to find our dear old friend."
  • So she re-entered the palace, the doors of which still stood open, an_veryone followed her except the Nome King, the Queen of Ev and Prince Evring.
  • The mother had taken the little Prince in her lap and was fondling and kissin_im lovingly, for he was her youngest born.
  • But the others went with Dorothy, and when she came to the middle of the firs_oom the girl waved her hand, as she had seen the King do, and commanded th_in Woodman, whatever form he might then have, to resume his proper shape. N_esult followed this attempt, so Dorothy went into another room and repeate_t, and so through all the rooms of the palace. Yet the Tin Woodman did no_ppear to them, nor could they imagine which among the thousands of ornament_as their transformed friend.
  • Sadly they returned to the throne room, where the King, seeing that they ha_et with failure, jeered at Dorothy, saying:
  • "You do not know how to use my belt, so it is of no use to you. Give it bac_o me and I will let you go free—you and all the people who came with you. A_or the royal family of Ev, they are my slaves, and shall remain here."
  • "I shall keep the belt," said Dorothy.
  • "But how can you escape, without my consent?" asked the King.
  • "Easily enough," answered the girl. "All we need to do is to walk out the wa_hat we came in."
  • "Oh, that's all, is it?" sneered the King. "Well, where is the passage throug_hich you entered this room?"
  • They all looked around, but could not discover the place, for it had lon_ince been closed. Dorothy, however, would not be dismayed. She waved her han_oward the seemingly solid wall of the cavern and said:
  • "I command the passage to open!"
  • Instantly the order was obeyed; the opening appeared and the passage la_lainly before them.
  • The King was amazed, and all the others overjoyed.
  • "Why, then, if the belt obeys you, were we unable to discover the Ti_oodman?" asked Ozma.
  • "I can't imagine," said Dorothy.
  • "See here, girl," proposed the King, eagerly; "give me the belt, and I wil_ell you what shape the Tin Woodman was changed into, and then you can easil_ind him."
  • Dorothy hesitated, but Billina cried out:
  • "Don't you do it! If the Nome King gets the belt again he will make every on_f us prisoners, for we will be in his power. Only by keeping the belt, Dorothy, will you ever be able to leave this place in safety."
  • "I think that is true," said the Scarecrow. "But I have another idea, due t_y excellent brains. Let Dorothy transform the King into a goose-egg unless h_grees to go into the palace and bring out to us the ornament which is ou_riend Nick Chopper, the Tin Woodman."
  • "A goose-egg!" echoed the horrified King. "How dreadful!"
  • "Well, a goose-egg you will be unless you go and fetch us the ornament w_ant," declared Billina, with a joyful chuckle.
  • "You can see for yourself that Dorothy is able to use the magic belt al_ight," added the Scarecrow.
  • The Nome King thought it over and finally consented, for he did not want to b_ goose-egg. So he went into the palace to get the ornament which was th_ransformation of the Tin Woodman, and they all awaited his return wit_onsiderable impatience, for they were anxious to leave this undergroun_avern and see the sunshine once more. But when the Nome King came back h_rought nothing with him except a puzzled and anxious expression upon hi_ace.
  • "He's gone!" he said. "The Tin Woodman is nowhere in the palace."
  • "Are you sure?" asked Ozma, sternly.
  • "I'm very sure," answered the King, trembling, "for I know just what _ransformed him into, and exactly where he stood. But he is not there, an_lease don't change me into a goose-egg, because I've done the best I could."
  • They were all silent for a time, and then Dorothy said:
  • "There is no use punishing the Nome King any more, and I'm 'fraid we'll hav_o go away without our friend."
  • "If he is not here, we cannot rescue him," agreed the Scarecrow, sadly. "Poo_ick! I wonder what has become of him."
  • "And he owed me six weeks back pay!" said one of the generals, wiping th_ears from his eyes with his gold-laced coat sleeve.
  • Very sorrowfully they determined to return to the upper world without thei_ormer companion, and so Ozma gave the order to begin the march through th_assage.
  • The army went first, and then the royal family of Ev, and afterward cam_orothy, Ozma, Billina, the Scarecrow and Tiktok.
  • They left the Nome King scowling at them from his throne, and had no though_f danger until Ozma chanced to look back and saw a large number of th_arriors following them in full chase, with their swords and spears and axe_aised to strike down the fugitives as soon as they drew near enough.
  • Evidently the Nome King had made this last attempt to prevent their escapin_im; but it did him no good, for when Dorothy saw the danger they were in sh_topped and waved her hand and whispered a command to the magic belt.
  • Instantly the foremost warriors became eggs, which rolled upon the floor o_he cavern in such numbers that those behind could not advance withou_tepping upon them. But, when they saw the eggs, all desire to advanc_eparted from the warriors, and they turned and fled madly into the cavern, and refused to go back again.
  • Our friends had no further trouble in reaching the end of the passage, an_oon were standing in the outer air upon the gloomy path between the two hig_ountains. But the way to Ev lay plainly before them, and they fervently hope_hat they had seen the last of the Nome King and of his dreadful palace.
  • The cavalcade was led by Ozma, mounted on the Cowardly Lion, and the Queen o_v, who rode upon the back of the Tiger. The children of the Queen walke_ehind her, hand in hand. Dorothy rode the Sawhorse, while the Scarecro_alked and commanded the army in the absence of the Tin Woodman.
  • Presently the way began to lighten and more of the sunshine to come in betwee_he two mountains. And before long they heard the "thump! thump! thump!" o_he giant's hammer upon the road.
  • "How may we pass the monstrous man of iron?" asked the Queen, anxious for th_afety of her children. But Dorothy solved the problem by a word to the magi_elt.
  • The giant paused, with his hammer held motionless in the air, thus allowin_he entire party to pass between his cast-iron legs in safety.