The mother had taken the little Prince in her lap and was fondling and kissing him lovingly, for he was her youngest born.
But the others went with Dorothy, and when she came to the middle of the first room the girl waved her hand, as she had seen the King do, and commanded the Tin Woodman, whatever form he might then have, to resume his proper shape. No result followed this attempt, so Dorothy went into another room and repeated it, and so through all the rooms of the palace. Yet the Tin Woodman did not appear to them, nor could they imagine which among the thousands of ornaments was their transformed friend.
Sadly they returned to the throne room, where the King, seeing that they had met 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 back to me and I will let you go free--you and all the people who came with you. As for 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 way that we came in."
"Oh, that's all, is it?" sneered the King. "Well, where is the passage through which you entered this room?"
They all looked around, but could not discover the place, for it had long since been closed. Dorothy, however, would not be dismayed. She waved her hand toward 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 lay plainly before them.
The King was amazed, and all the others overjoyed.
"Why, then, if the belt obeys you, were we unable to discover the Tin Woodman?" asked Ozma.
"I can't imagine," said Dorothy.
"See here, girl," proposed the King, eagerly; "give me the belt, and I will tell you what shape the Tin Woodman was changed into, and then you can easily find him."
Dorothy hesitated, but Billina cried out:
"Don't you do it! If the Nome King gets the belt again he will make every one of 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 to my excellent brains. Let Dorothy transform the King into a goose-egg unless he agrees to go into the palace and bring out to us the ornament which is our friend 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 we want," declared Billina, with a joyful chuckle.
"You can see for yourself that Dorothy is able to use the magic belt all right," added the Scarecrow.
The Nome King thought it over and finally consented, for he did not want to be a goose-egg. So he went into the palace to get the ornament which was the transformation of the Tin Woodman, and they all awaited his return with considerable impatience, for they were anxious to leave this underground cavern and see the sunshine once more. But when the Nome King came back he brought nothing with him except a puzzled and anxious expression upon his face.
"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 I transformed him into, and exactly where he stood. But he is not there, and please 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 have to go away without our friend."
"If he is not here, we cannot rescue him," agreed the Scarecrow, sadly. "Poor Nick! I wonder what has become of him."
"And he owed me six weeks back pay!" said one of the generals, wiping the tears from his eyes with his gold-laced coat sleeve.
Very sorrowfully they determined to return to the upper world without their former companion, and so Ozma gave the order to begin the march through the passage.