"They once belonged to the Wicked Witch. Have you them here with you?"
"No; I lost them somewhere in the air," explained the child. "But the second time I went to the Land of Oz I owned the Nome King's Magic Belt, which is much more powerful than were the Silver Shoes."
"Where is that Magic Belt?" enquired the Wizard, who had listened with great interest.
"Ozma has it; for its powers won't work in a common, ordinary country like the United States. Anyone in a fairy country like the Land of Oz can do anything with it; so I left it with my friend the Princess Ozma, who used it to wish me in Australia with Uncle Henry."
"And were you?" asked Zeb, astonished at what he heard.
"Of course; in just a jiffy. And Ozma has an enchanted picture hanging in her room that shows her the exact scene where any of her friends may be, at any time she chooses. All she has to do is to say: 'I wonder what So-and-so is doing,' and at once the picture shows where her friend is and what the friend is doing. That's REAL magic, Mr. Wizard; isn't it? Well, every day at four o'clock Ozma has promised to look at me in that picture, and if I am in need of help I am to make her a certain sign and she will put on the Nome King's Magic Belt and wish me to be with her in Oz."
"Do you mean that Princess Ozma will see this cave in her enchanted picture, and see all of us here, and what we are doing?" demanded Zeb.
"Of course; when it is four o'clock," she replied, with a laugh at his startled expression.
"And when you make a sign she will bring you to her in the Land of Oz?" continued the boy.
"That's it, exactly; by means of the Magic Belt."
"Then," said the Wizard, "you will be saved, little Dorothy; and I am very glad of it. The rest of us will die much more cheerfully when we know you have escaped our sad fate."
"I won't die cheerfully!" protested the kitten. "There's nothing cheerful about dying that I could ever see, although they say a cat has nine lives, and so must die nine times."
"Have you ever died yet?" enquired the boy.
"No, and I'm not anxious to begin," said Eureka.
"Don't worry, dear," Dorothy exclaimed, "I'll hold you in my arms, and take you with me."
"Take us, too!" cried the nine tiny piglets, all in one breath.
"Perhaps I can," answered Dorothy. "I'll try."
"Couldn't you manage to hold me in your arms?" asked the cab-horse.
"I'll do better than that," she promised, "for I can easily save you all, once I am myself in the Land of Oz."
"How?" they asked.
"By using the Magic Belt. All I need do is to wish you with me, and there you'll be--safe in the royal palace!"
"Good!" cried Zeb.
"I built that palace, and the Emerald City, too," remarked the Wizard, in a thoughtful tone, "and I'd like to see them again, for I was very happy among the Munchkins and Winkies and Quadlings and Gillikins."
"Who are they?" asked the boy.
"The four nations that inhabit the Land of Oz," was the reply. "I wonder if they would treat me nicely if I went there again."
"Of course they would!" declared Dorothy. "They are still proud of their former Wizard, and often speak of you kindly."
"Do you happen to know whatever became of the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow?" he enquired.
"They live in Oz yet," said the girl, "and are very important people."
"And the Cowardly Lion?"
"Oh, he lives there too, with his friend the Hungry Tiger; and Billina is there, because she liked the place better than Kansas, and wouldn't go with me to Australia."
"I'm afraid I don't know the Hungry Tiger and Billina," said the Wizard, shaking his head. "Is Billina a girl?"
"No; she's a yellow hen, and a great friend of mine. You're sure to like Billina, when you know her," asserted Dorothy.
"Your friends sound like a menagerie," remarked Zeb, uneasily. "Couldn't you wish me in some safer place than Oz."
"Don't worry," replied the girl. "You'll just love the folks in Oz, when you get acquainted. What time is it, Mr. Wizard?"
The little man looked at his watch--a big silver one that he carried in his vest pocket.