But when the adventurers looked more carefully around them they discovered that there were in a strong prison from which there was no hope of escape.
"But we're ALMOST on earth again," cried Dorothy, "for there is the sun--the most BEAU'FUL sun that shines!" and she pointed eagerly at the crack in the distant roof.
"Almost on earth isn't being there," said the kitten, in a discontented tone. "It wouldn't be possible for even me to get up to that crack--or through it if I got there."
"It appears that the path ends here," announced the Wizard, gloomily.
"And there is no way to go back," added Zeb, with a low whistle of perplexity.
"I was sure it would come to this, in the end," remarked the old cab-horse. "Folks don't fall into the middle of the earth and then get back again to tell of their adventures--not in real life. And the whole thing has been unnatural because that cat and I are both able to talk your language, and to understand the words you say."
"And so can the nine tiny piglets," added Eureka. "Don't forget them, for I may have to eat them, after all."
"I've heard animals talk before," said Dorothy, "and no harm came of it."
"Were you ever before shut up in a cave, far under the earth, with no way of getting out?" enquired the horse, seriously.
"No," answered Dorothy. "But don't you lose heart, Jim, for I'm sure this isn't the end of our story, by any means."
The reference to the piglets reminded the Wizard that his pets had not enjoyed much exercise lately, and must be tired of their prison in his pocket. So he sat down upon the floor of the cave, brought the piglets out one by one, and allowed them to run around as much as they pleased.
"My dears," he said to them, "I'm afraid I've got you into a lot of trouble, and that you will never again be able to leave this gloomy cave."
"What's wrong?" asked a piglet. "We've been in the dark quite a while, and you may as well explain what has happened."
The Wizard told them of the misfortune that had overtaken the wanderers.
"Well," said another piglet, "you are a wizard, are you not?"
"I am," replied the little man.
"Then you can do a few wizzes and get us out of this hole," declared the tiny one, with much confidence.
"I could if I happened to be a real wizard," returned the master sadly. "But I'm not, my piggy-wees; I'm a humbug wizard."
"Nonsense!" cried several of the piglets, together.
"You can ask Dorothy," said the little man, in an injured tone.
"It's true enough," returned the girl, earnestly. "Our friend Oz is merely a humbug wizard, for he once proved it to me. He can do several very wonderful things--if he knows how. But he can't wiz a single thing if he hasn't the tools and machinery to work with."
"Thank you, my dear, for doing me justice," responded the Wizard, gratefully. "To be accused of being a real wizard, when I'm not, is a slander I will not tamely submit to. But I am one of the greatest humbug wizards that ever lived, and you will realize this when we have all starved together and our bones are scattered over the floor of this lonely cave."
"I don't believe we'll realize anything, when it comes to that," remarked Dorothy, who had been deep in thought. "But I'm not going to scatter my bones just yet, because I need them, and you prob'ly need yours, too."
"We are helpless to escape," sighed the Wizard.
"WE may be helpless," answered Dorothy, smiling at him, "but there are others who can do more than we can. Cheer up, friends. "I'm sure Ozma will help us."
"Ozma!" exclaimed the Wizard. "Who is Ozma?"
"The girl that rules the marvelous Land of Oz," was the reply. "She's a friend of mine, for I met her in the Land of Ev, not long ago, and went to Oz with her."
"For the second time?" asked the Wizard, with great interest.
"Yes. The first time I went to Oz I found you there, ruling the Emerald City. After you went up in a balloon, and escaped us, I got back to Kansas by means of a pair of magical silver shoes."
"I remember those shoes," said the little man, nodding.