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Every part of the room—walls, floor, ceiling, and throne—was bedecked with the ubiquitous, sparkling emeralds that Dorothy by now had come to expect.

Floating above the throne, like a monstrous apparition, was a gargantuan Head, normal in every way except that it was hairless, bigger than the head of the biggest giant, and unattached to a body to support it! Dorothy and her friends gazed at the Head with a mixture of wonder and fear. The Head’s eyes moved slowly until they focused on the little group. Then the mouth began to move, and an alarmingly stentorian voice said, “I am Oz, the Great and Terrible! Who are you, and why do you seek me?”

The Lion’s heart beat a frantic tattoo on his ribs. He let out a shriek and began to turn and run, but the Tin Woodman grabbed him by the tail and pulled him back. Our plucky protagonist, with nervous determination in her voice, said, “I am Dorothy, the Small and Meek, and I have come to ask you to send me back to Kansas.”

The Head thoughtfully examined the little girl for a while, as if trying to assess her honesty. Noticing the Silver Shoes and the mark upon her forehead, he asked how she got them. Dorothy quickly explained, “The good Witch of the North gave them to me after the Wicked Witch of the East was killed by my falling house.” Ordinarily, any story this fantastic would sound apocryphal, but the Head’s eyes could see she was telling the truth.

Now the Head asked each of Dorothy’s friends, in turn, what they wanted, and each answered in turn. The Scarecrow explained that he wanted a brain so he could be as much a man as any other in the Wizard’s kingdom. The Tin Woodman echoed the Scarecrow’s sentiments, saying he wanted a heart so that he, too, could be like other men. The Lion, now slightly less fearful, said he wanted courage so he could in reality be the King of Beasts, as the underlings of the jungle called him.

“If you expect me to use my vaunted powers to grant your wishes,” answered the Head, “then you must do something for me in return.”

“What can we do?” asked Dorothy, who was ready to do just about anything.

In a sepulchral tone the Head answered, “Kill the Wicked Witch of the West.”

Dorothy protested that she was just a helpless, little girl who couldn’t knowingly kill anyone, but the Head dogmatically adduced the argument that because Dorothy was able to crush to death the Witch of the East, she could easily accomplish the same coup with her antipodal sister.

Smelling sophistry, the Scarecrow, having quickly marshaled some counter-arguments, started to repudiate the faulty logic, but the Head, with obstinate finality, cut him off with a curt but bellowing “That is all!”

Back in the hallway outside the Throne Room, the Scarecrow, disgruntled by the Head’s specious reasoning, brooded awhile, then vented by hurling a string of imprecatory epithets in the Head’s general direction.

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