"I am everywhere," answered the Voice, "but to the eyes of common mortals I am invisible. I will now seat myself upon my throne, that you may converse with me." Indeed, the Voice seemed just then to come straight from the throne itself; so they walked toward it and stood in a row while Dorothy said:
"We have come to claim our promise, O Oz."
"What promise?" asked Oz.
"You promised to send me back to Kansas when the Wicked Witch was destroyed," said the girl.
"And you promised to give me brains," said the Scarecrow.
"And you promised to give me a heart," said the Tin Woodman.
"And you promised to give me courage," said the Cowardly Lion.
"Is the Wicked Witch really destroyed?" asked the Voice, and Dorothy thought it trembled a little.
"Yes," she answered, "I melted her with a bucket of water."
"Dear me," said the Voice, "how sudden! Well, come to me tomorrow, for I must have time to think it over."
"You've had plenty of time already," said the Tin Woodman angrily.
"We shan't wait a day longer," said the Scarecrow.
"You must keep your promises to us!" exclaimed Dorothy.
The Lion thought it might be as well to frighten the Wizard, so he gave a large, loud roar, which was so fierce and dreadful that Toto jumped away from him in alarm and tipped over the screen that stood in a corner. As it fell with a crash they looked that way, and the next moment all of them were filled with wonder. For they saw, standing in just the spot the screen had hidden, a little old man, with a bald head and a wrinkled face, who seemed to be as much surprised as they were. The Tin Woodman, raising his axe, rushed toward the little man and cried out, "Who are you?"
"I am Oz, the Great and Terrible," said the little man, in a trembling voice. "But don't strike me--please don't--and I'll do anything you want me to."
Our friends looked at him in surprise and dismay.
"I thought Oz was a great Head," said Dorothy.
"And I thought Oz was a lovely Lady," said the Scarecrow.
"And I thought Oz was a terrible Beast," said the Tin Woodman.
"And I thought Oz was a Ball of Fire," exclaimed the Lion.
"No, you are all wrong," said the little man meekly. "I have been making believe."
"Making believe!" cried Dorothy. "Are you not a Great Wizard?"
"Hush, my dear," he said. "Don't speak so loud, or you will be overheard--and I should be ruined. I'm supposed to be a Great Wizard."
"And aren't you?" she asked.
"Not a bit of it, my dear; I'm just a common man."
"You're more than that," said the Scarecrow, in a grieved tone; "you're a humbug."
"Exactly so!" declared the little man, rubbing his hands together as if it pleased him. "I am a humbug."
"But this is terrible," said the Tin Woodman. "How shall I ever get my heart?"
"Or I my courage?" asked the Lion.
"Or I my brains?" wailed the Scarecrow, wiping the tears from his eyes with his coat sleeve.
"My dear friends," said Oz, "I pray you not to speak of these little things. Think of me, and the terrible trouble I'm in at being found out."
"Doesn't anyone else know you're a humbug?" asked Dorothy.
"No one knows it but you four--and myself," replied Oz. "I have fooled everyone so long that I thought I should never be found out. It was a great mistake my ever letting you into the Throne Room. Usually I will not see even my subjects, and so they believe I am something terrible."
"But, I don't understand," said Dorothy, in bewilderment. "How was it that you appeared to me as a great Head?"