"The Witch of the East was proud of those silver shoes," said one of the Munchkins, "and there is some charm connected with them; but what it is we never knew."
Dorothy carried the shoes into the house and placed them on the table. 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 they will worry about me. Can you help me find my way?"
The Munchkins and the Witch first looked at one another, and then at Dorothy, 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 there and 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. And that country, where the Winkies live, is ruled by the Wicked Witch of the 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 the same great desert that surrounds this Land of Oz. I'm afraid, my dear, you will have to live with us."
Dorothy began to sob at this, for she felt lonely among all these strange people. Her tears seemed to grieve the kind-hearted Munchkins, for they immediately took out their handkerchiefs and began to weep also. As for the little old woman, she took off her cap 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 a slate, 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 read the 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, the Great Wizard I told you of."
"Is he a good man?" inquired the girl anxiously.
"He is a good Wizard. Whether he is a man or not I cannot tell, for I have never seen him."
"How can I get there?" asked Dorothy.
"You must walk. It is a long journey, through a country that is sometimes pleasant and sometimes dark and terrible. However, I will use 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 upon the 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 Witch of 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, as Dorothy found out soon after.
"The road to the City of Emeralds is paved with yellow brick," said the Witch, "so you cannot miss it. When you get to Oz do not be afraid of him, 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 pleasant journey, after which they walked away through the trees. The Witch gave Dorothy a friendly little nod, whirled around on her left heel three times, and straightway disappeared, much to the surprise of little Toto, who barked after her loudly enough when she had gone, because he had been afraid even to growl while she stood by.