"I am Oz, the Great and Terrible. Who are you, and why do you seek me?"
It was not such an awful voice as she had expected to come from the big Head; so she took courage and answered:
"I am Dorothy, the Small and Meek. I have come to you for help."
The eyes looked at her thoughtfully for a full minute. Then said the voice:
"Where did you get the silver shoes?"
"I got them from the Wicked Witch of the East, when my house fell on her and killed her," she replied.
"Where did you get the mark upon your forehead?" continued the voice.
"That is where the Good Witch of the North kissed me when she bade me good-bye and sent me to you," said the girl.
Again the eyes looked at her sharply, and they saw she was telling the truth. Then Oz asked, "What do you wish me to do?"
"Send me back to Kansas, where my Aunt Em and Uncle Henry are," she answered earnestly. "I don't like your country, although it is so beautiful. And I am sure Aunt Em will be dreadfully worried over my being away so long."
The eyes winked three times, and then they turned up to the ceiling and down to the floor and rolled around so queerly that they seemed to see every part of the room. And at last they looked at Dorothy again.
"Why should I do this for you?" asked Oz.
"Because you are strong and I am weak; because you are a Great Wizard and I am only a little girl."
"But you were strong enough to kill the Wicked Witch of the East," said Oz.
"That just happened," returned Dorothy simply; "I could not help it."
"Well," said the Head, "I will give you my answer. You have no right to expect me to send you back to Kansas unless you do something for me in return. In this country everyone must pay for everything he gets. If you wish me to use my magic power to send you home again you must do something for me first. Help me and I will help you."
"What must I do?" asked the girl.
"Kill the Wicked Witch of the West," answered Oz.
"But I cannot!" exclaimed Dorothy, greatly surprised.
"You killed the Witch of the East and you wear the silver shoes, which bear a powerful charm. There is now but one Wicked Witch left in all this land, and when you can tell me she is dead I will send you back to Kansas--but not before."
The little girl began to weep, she was so much disappointed; and the eyes winked again and looked upon her anxiously, as if the Great Oz felt that she could help him if she would.
"I never killed anything, willingly," she sobbed. "Even if I wanted to, how could I kill the Wicked Witch? If you, who are Great and Terrible, cannot kill her yourself, how do you expect me to do it?"
"I do not know," said the Head; "but that is my answer, and until the Wicked Witch dies you will not see your uncle and aunt again. Remember that the Witch is Wicked--tremendously Wicked -and ought to be killed. Now go, and do not ask to see me again until you have done your task."
Sorrowfully Dorothy left the Throne Room and went back where the Lion and the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman were waiting to hear what Oz had said to her. "There is no hope for me," she said sadly, "for Oz will not send me home until I have killed the Wicked Witch of the West; and that I can never do."
Her friends were sorry, but could do nothing to help her; so Dorothy went to her own room and lay down on the bed and cried herself to sleep.
The next morning the soldier with the green whiskers came to the Scarecrow and said: