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12. The Search for the Wicked Witch
The soldier with the green whiskers led them through the streets of the
Emerald City until they reached the room where the Guardian of the Gates lived.
This officer unlocked their spectacles to put them back in his great box,
and then he politely opened the gate for our friends.
"Which road leads to the Wicked Witch of the West?" asked
"There is no road," answered the Guardian of the Gates.
"No one ever wishes to go that way."
"How, then, are we to find her?" inquired the girl.
"That will be easy," replied the man, "for when she knows
you are in the country of the Winkies she will find you, and make you all her
"Perhaps not," said the Scarecrow, "for we mean to destroy
"Oh, that is different," said the Guardian of the Gates.
"No one has ever destroyed her before, so I naturally thought she would
make slaves of you, as she has of the rest.
But take care; for she is wicked and fierce, and may not allow you to
destroy her. Keep to the West, where the sun sets, and you cannot fail to find
They thanked him and bade him good-bye, and turned toward the West,
walking over fields of soft grass dotted here and there with daisies and
buttercups. Dorothy still wore the
pretty silk dress she had put on in the palace, but now, to her surprise, she
found it was no longer green, but pure white.
The ribbon around Toto's neck had also lost its green color and was as
white as Dorothy's dress.
The Emerald City was soon left far behind.
As they advanced the ground became rougher and hillier, for there were no
farms nor houses in this country of the West, and the ground was untilled.
In the afternoon the sun shone hot in their faces, for there were no
trees to offer them shade; so that before night Dorothy and Toto and the Lion
were tired, and lay down upon the grass and fell asleep, with the Woodman and
the Scarecrow keeping watch.
Now the Wicked Witch of the West had but one eye, yet that was as
powerful as a telescope, and could see everywhere.
So, as she sat in the door of her castle, she happened to look around and
saw Dorothy lying asleep, with her friends all about her.
They were a long distance off, but the Wicked Witch was angry to find
them in her country; so she blew upon a silver whistle that hung around her
At once there came running to her from all directions a pack of great
wolves. They had long legs and
fierce eyes and sharp teeth.
"Go to those people," said the Witch, "and tear them to
"Are you not going to make them your slaves?" asked the leader
of the wolves.
"No," she answered, "one is of tin, and one of straw; one
is a girl and another a Lion. None
of them is fit to work, so you may tear them into small pieces."
"Very well," said the wolf, and he dashed away at full speed,
followed by the others.
It was lucky the Scarecrow and the Woodman were wide awake and heard the
"This is my fight," said the Woodman, "so get behind me
and I will meet them as they come."
He seized his axe, which he had made very sharp, and as the leader
of the wolves came on the Tin Woodman swung his arm and chopped the wolf's head
from its body, so that it immediately died. As soon as he could raise his axe
another wolf came up, and he also fell under the sharp edge of the Tin Woodman's
weapon. There were forty wolves,
and forty times a wolf was killed, so that at last they all lay dead in a heap
before the Woodman.
Then he put down his axe and sat beside the Scarecrow, who said, "It
was a good fight, friend."
They waited until Dorothy awoke the next morning.
The little girl was quite frightened when she saw the great pile of
shaggy wolves, but the Tin Woodman told her all.
She thanked him for saving them and sat down to breakfast, after which
they started again upon their journey.
Now this same morning the Wicked Witch came to the door of her castle and
looked out with her one eye that could see far off. She saw all her wolves lying
dead, and the strangers still traveling through her country.
This made her angrier than before, and she blew her silver whistle twice.
Straightway a great flock of wild crows came flying toward her, enough to
darken the sky.
And the Wicked Witch said to the King Crow, "Fly at once to the
strangers; peck out their eyes and tear them to pieces."
The wild crows flew in one great flock toward Dorothy and her companions.
When the little girl saw them coming she was afraid.
But the Scarecrow said, "This is my battle, so lie down beside me
and you will not be harmed."
So they all lay upon the ground except the Scarecrow, and he stood up and
stretched out his arms. And when
the crows saw him they were frightened, as these birds always are by scarecrows,
and did not dare to come any nearer. But
the King Crow said:
"It is only a stuffed man. I
will peck his eyes out."
The King Crow flew at the Scarecrow, who caught it by the head and
twisted its neck until it died. And
then another crow flew at him, and the Scarecrow twisted its neck also.
There were forty crows, and forty times the Scarecrow twisted a neck,
until at last all were lying dead beside him.
Then he called to his companions to rise, and again they went upon their
When the Wicked Witch looked out again and saw all her crows lying in a
heap, she got into a terrible rage, and blew three times upon her silver
Forthwith there was heard a great buzzing in the air, and a swarm of
black bees came flying toward her.
"Go to the strangers and sting them to death!" commanded the
Witch, and the bees turned and flew rapidly until they came to where Dorothy and
her friends were walking. But the
Woodman had seen them coming, and the Scarecrow had decided what to do.
"Take out my straw and scatter it over the little girl and the dog
and the Lion," he said to the Woodman, "and the bees cannot sting
them." This the Woodman did,
and as Dorothy lay close beside the Lion and held Toto in her arms, the straw
covered them entirely.
The bees came and found no one but the Woodman to sting, so they flew at
him and broke off all their stings against the tin, without hurting the Woodman
at all. And as bees cannot live
when their stings are broken that was the end of the black bees, and they lay
scattered thick about the Woodman, like little heaps of fine coal.
Then Dorothy and the Lion got up, and the girl helped the Tin Woodman put
the straw back into the Scarecrow again, until he was as good as ever.
So they started upon their journey once more.
The Wicked Witch was so angry when she saw her black bees in little heaps
like fine coal that she stamped her foot and tore her hair and gnashed her
teeth. And then she called a dozen
of her slaves, who were the Winkies, and gave them sharp spears, telling them to
go to the strangers and destroy them.
The Winkies were not a brave people, but they had to do as they were
told. So they marched away until
they came near to Dorothy. Then the Lion gave a great roar and sprang towards them, and
the poor Winkies were so frightened that they ran back as fast as they could.
When they returned to the castle the Wicked Witch beat them well with a
strap, and sent them back to their work, after which she sat down to think what
she should do next. She could not
understand how all her plans to destroy these strangers had failed; but she was
a powerful Witch, as well as a wicked one, and she soon made up her mind how to
There was, in her cupboard, a Golden Cap, with a circle of diamonds and
rubies running round it. This
Golden Cap had a charm. Whoever owned it could call three times upon the Winged
Monkeys, who would obey any order they were given.
But no person could command these strange creatures more than three
times. Twice already the Wicked Witch had used the charm of the Cap. Once was
when she had made the Winkies her slaves, and set herself to rule over their
country. The Winged Monkeys had helped her do this.
The second time was when she had fought against the Great Oz himself, and
driven him out of the land of the West. The Winged Monkeys had also helped her
in doing this. Only once more could she use this Golden Cap, for which
reason she did not like to do so until all her other powers were exhausted.
But now that her fierce wolves and her wild crows and her stinging bees
were gone, and her slaves had been scared away by the Cowardly Lion, she saw
there was only one way left to destroy Dorothy and her friends.
So the Wicked Witch took the Golden Cap from her cupboard and placed it
upon her head. Then she stood upon
her left foot and said slowly:
"Ep-pe, pep-pe, kak-ke!"
Next she stood upon her right foot and said:
"Hil-lo, hol-lo, hel-lo!"
After this she stood upon both feet and cried in a loud voice:
"Ziz-zy, zuz-zy, zik!"
Now the charm began to work. The
sky was darkened, and a low rumbling sound was heard in the air.
There was a rushing of many wings, a great chattering and laughing, and
the sun came out of the dark sky to show the Wicked Witch surrounded by a crowd
of monkeys, each with a pair of immense and powerful wings on his shoulders.
One, much bigger than the others, seemed to be their leader. He flew
close to the Witch and said, "You have called us for the third and last
time. What do you command?"
"Go to the strangers who are within my land and destroy them all
except the Lion," said the Wicked Witch.
"Bring that beast to me, for I have a mind to harness him like a
horse, and make him work."
"Your commands shall be obeyed," said the leader.
Then, with a great deal of chattering and noise, the Winged Monkeys flew
away to the place where Dorothy and her friends were walking.
Some of the Monkeys seized the Tin Woodman and carried him through the
air until they were over a country thickly covered with sharp rocks.
Here they dropped the poor Woodman, who fell a great distance to the
rocks, where he lay so battered and dented that he could neither move nor groan.
Others of the Monkeys caught the Scarecrow, and with their long fingers
pulled all of the straw out of his clothes and head. They made his hat and boots
and clothes into a small bundle and threw it into the top branches of a tall
The remaining Monkeys threw pieces of stout rope around the Lion and
wound many coils about his body and head and legs, until he was unable to bite
or scratch or struggle in any way. Then they lifted him up and flew away with
him to the Witch's castle, where he was placed in a small yard with a high iron
fence around it, so that he could not escape.
But Dorothy they did not harm at all.
She stood, with Toto in her arms, watching the sad fate of her comrades
and thinking it would soon be her turn. The
leader of the Winged Monkeys flew up to her, his long, hairy arms stretched out
and his ugly face grinning terribly; but he saw the mark of the Good Witch's
kiss upon her forehead and stopped short, motioning the others not to touch her.
"We dare not harm this little girl," he said to them, "for
she is protected by the Power of Good, and that is greater than the Power of
Evil. All we can do is to carry her
to the castle of the Wicked Witch and leave her there."
So, carefully and gently, they lifted Dorothy in their arms and carried
her swiftly through the air until they came to the castle, where they set her
down upon the front doorstep. Then the leader said to the Witch:
"We have obeyed you as far as we were able.
The Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow are destroyed, and the Lion is tied up
in your yard. The little girl we dare not harm, nor the dog she carries in her
arms. Your power over our band is now ended, and you will never see us
Then all the Winged Monkeys, with much laughing and chattering and noise,
flew into the air and were soon out of sight.
The Wicked Witch was both surprised and worried when she saw the mark on
Dorothy's forehead, for she knew well that neither the Winged Monkeys nor she,
herself, dare hurt the girl in any way. She looked down at Dorothy's feet, and
seeing the Silver Shoes, began to tremble with fear, for she knew what a
powerful charm belonged to them. At
first the Witch was tempted to run away from Dorothy; but she happened to look
into the child's eyes and saw how simple the soul behind them was, and that the
little girl did not know of the wonderful power the Silver Shoes gave her.
So the Wicked Witch laughed to herself, and thought, "I can still
make her my slave, for she does not know how to use her power." Then she
said to Dorothy, harshly and severely:
"Come with me; and see that you mind everything I tell you, for if
you do not I will make an end of you, as I did of the Tin Woodman and the
Dorothy followed her through many of the beautiful rooms in her castle
until they came to the kitchen, where the Witch bade her clean the pots and
kettles and sweep the floor and keep the fire fed with wood.
Dorothy went to work meekly, with her mind made up to work as hard as she
could; for she was glad the Wicked Witch had decided not to kill her.
With Dorothy hard at work, the Witch thought she would go into the
courtyard and harness the Cowardly Lion like a horse; it would amuse her, she
was sure, to make him draw her chariot whenever she wished to go to drive.
But as she opened the gate the Lion gave a loud roar and bounded at her
so fiercely that the Witch was afraid, and ran out and shut the gate again.
"If I cannot harness you," said the Witch to the Lion, speaking
through the bars of the gate, "I can starve you. You shall have nothing to
eat until you do as I wish."
So after that she took no food to the imprisoned Lion; but every day she
came to the gate at noon and asked, "Are you ready to be harnessed like a
And the Lion would answer, "No.
If you come in this yard, I will bite you."
The reason the Lion did not have to do as the Witch wished was that every
night, while the woman was asleep, Dorothy carried him food from the cupboard.
After he had eaten he would lie down on his bed of straw, and Dorothy
would lie beside him and put her head on his soft, shaggy mane, while they
talked of their troubles and tried to plan some way to escape.
But they could find no way to get out of the castle, for it was
constantly guarded by the yellow Winkies, who were the slaves of the Wicked
Witch and too afraid of her not to do as she told them.
The girl had to work hard during the day, and often the Witch threatened
to beat her with the same old umbrella she always carried in her hand.
But, in truth, she did not dare to strike Dorothy, because of the mark
upon her forehead. The child did
not know this, and was full of fear for herself and Toto.
Once the Witch struck Toto a blow with her umbrella and the brave little
dog flew at her and bit her leg in return.
The Witch did not bleed where she was bitten, for she was so wicked that
the blood in her had dried up many years before.
Dorothy's life became very sad as she grew to understand that it would be
harder than ever to get back to Kansas and Aunt Em again. Sometimes she would
cry bitterly for hours, with Toto sitting at her feet and looking into her face,
whining dismally to show how sorry he was for his little mistress.
Toto did not really care whether he was in Kansas or the Land of Oz so
long as Dorothy was with him; but he knew the little girl was unhappy, and that
made him unhappy too.
Now the Wicked Witch had a great longing to have for her own the Silver
Shoes which the girl always wore. Her
bees and her crows and her wolves were lying in heaps and drying up, and she had
used up all the power of the Golden Cap; but if she could only get hold of the
Silver Shoes, they would give her more power than all the other things she had
lost. She watched Dorothy carefully, to see if she ever took off
her shoes, thinking she might steal them. But the child was so proud of her
pretty shoes that she never took them off except at night and when she took her
bath. The Witch was too much afraid
of the dark to dare go in Dorothy's room at night to take the shoes, and her
dread of water was greater than her fear of the dark, so she never came near
when Dorothy was bathing. Indeed, the old Witch never touched water, nor ever
let water touch her in any way.
But the wicked creature was very cunning, and she finally thought of a
trick that would give her what she wanted.
She placed a bar of iron in the middle of the kitchen floor, and then by
her magic arts made the iron invisible to human eyes.
So that when Dorothy walked across the floor she stumbled over the bar,
not being able to see it, and fell at full length. She was not much hurt, but in
her fall one of the Silver Shoes came off; and before she could reach it, the
Witch had snatched it away and put it on her own skinny foot.
The wicked woman was greatly pleased with the success of her trick, for
as long as she had one of the shoes she owned half the power of their charm, and
Dorothy could not use it against her, even had she known how to do so.
The little girl, seeing she had lost one of her pretty shoes, grew angry,
and said to the Witch, "Give me back my shoe!"
"I will not," retorted the Witch, "for it is now my shoe,
and not yours."
"You are a wicked creature!" cried Dorothy.
"You have no right to take my shoe from me."
"I shall keep it, just the same," said the Witch, laughing at
her, "and someday I shall get the other one from you, too."
This made Dorothy so very angry that she picked up the bucket of water
that stood near and dashed it over the Witch, wetting her from head to foot.
Instantly the wicked woman gave a loud cry of fear, and then, as Dorothy
looked at her in wonder, the Witch began to shrink and fall away.
"See what you have done!" she screamed.
"In a minute I shall melt away."
"I'm very sorry, indeed," said Dorothy, who was truly
frightened to see the Witch actually melting away like brown sugar before her
"Didn't you know water would be the end of me?" asked the
Witch, in a wailing, despairing voice.
"Of course not," answered Dorothy.
"How should I?"
"Well, in a few minutes I shall be all melted, and you will have the
castle to yourself. I have been wicked in my day, but I never thought a little
girl like you would ever be able to melt me and end my wicked deeds.
Look out--here I go!"
With these words the Witch fell down in a brown, melted, shapeless mass
and began to spread over the clean boards of the kitchen floor.
Seeing that she had really melted away to nothing, Dorothy drew another
bucket of water and threw it over the mess. She then swept it all out the door.
After picking out the silver shoe, which was all that was left of the old
woman, she cleaned and dried it with a cloth, and put it on her foot again.
Then, being at last free to do as she chose, she ran out to the courtyard
to tell the Lion that the Wicked Witch of the West had come to an end, and that
they were no longer prisoners in a strange land.
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