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she did have plenty of company, for right in front of her face stood the mountain of filthy crockery, and upon her face flowed the many little rivulets of tears that striated her expression of utter hopelessness.

With each dismal day, the forlorn child became more despairing of ever seeing her aunt and uncle again. She tried to picture Uncle Henry’s long, equine face and unkempt hair, but found her recollection of him becoming increasingly nebulous, and this made her more disconsolate than ever. In an attempt to cheer herself, she pictured Aunt Em’s glorious smile. How often she’d seen her flash it at her reticent, laconic uncle in an attempt, usually unsuccessful, to break through his stiff barrier of stolid reserve.

She considered writing Aunt Em a letter but immediately dismissed the idea when she realized that her missive had no chance of ever finding a mailbox—assuming, that is, that mailboxes even existed in this crazy place. Oh, how she longed for that bastion of normalcy called Kansas!

At night, in her dim, cell-like bedroom, an anemic overhead light fixture, rather than dilute the gloom, served more to accentuate it by giving it contrast. Its niggardly illumination seemed to mock her, to say, “Look, little girl, this is what brightness is like—when there is any.”

Gradually her fear diminished, only to be supplanted by an endless tedium that was equally horrible, pushing what little was left of her dwindling fortitude to its limit. Her swollen, downcast eyes, drooping mouth, and sallow cheeks rendered her almost unrecognizable, even to Toto.

Finding a scrap of paper one day, she imagined it to be a letter from Aunt Em. She composed it in her mind: “Dearest Dorothy, We love and miss you very much. We know where you are and are coming to rescue you. All our love, Aunt Em and Uncle Henry.” Below their names she imagined she saw a string of x’s and o’s representing kisses and hugs. Every day the scrap of paper became another letter, each worded less succinctly and with more x’s and o’s than the previous, but all of the same theme. She carefully stored all these imaginary epistles in a secret drawer in her mind.

Chapter 16 “The Escape”

Meanwhile, the Witch was becoming more and more covetous of Dorothy’s enchanted Silver Shoes. Even forgetting about their wonderful power, the mere ownership of them conferred a certain cachet she found irresistible.

If only she could have them, she thought, her power would reach the acme of its supremacy, exceeding that of even the Great Oz himself! But how to get them…how to get them? The only time Dorothy took them off was when she took a bath. But water was anathema to the Witch, so she didn’t dare go near when the girl bathed. She considered simply asking the child for them, or, failing that, trying to wheedle them out of her, but couldn’t think of any way to broach the subject without sounding humiliatingly supplicatory.

A savage passion now seethed within the Witch.

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