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virago before her. Her face was drained of all color, but bright sparks flashed deep within her dark pupils. With all her puny strength she fired the words explosively, cathartically: “GIVE ME BACK MY SHOE!!” Then, with her chest heaving and her reason returning, Dorothy watched to see how the wicked woman would respond.

But the Witch simply ignored the brazen outburst—except that her usual acerbic glower was now replaced by a horrible, mocking grin. Then, as she inhaled sharply through her scabrous, aquiline nose, Dorothy knew another fit of loathsome laughter was imminent. Without thinking, her body acting like a machine with a will of its own, Dorothy picked up a bucket of water that stood near and dashed it over the Witch, wetting her from head to toe. Amazingly, this stanched the flow of nauseating laughter as soon as it had begun. In the Witch’s wicked eyes, the evil black irises that had been riding a surging sea of supercilious disdain now became fixed in horror.

“No, no, no!” she shrieked in vociferous denial, water sluicing from her black dress. “Look what you’ve done! I’m melting! I’m melting!” As the Witch kept repeating the words “I’m melting,” she became smaller and smaller, and her voice got softer and softer, until nothing remained but a rancid, amorphous blob of turbid liquid that slowly spread over the kitchen floor.

Dorothy quickly drew another bucket of water and poured it over whatever vestiges of the Witch remained, then swept everything out the door. She plucked the precious Silver Shoe from the dross, cleaned and dried it, and put it back on.

It took a moment for her to realize she was actually free, and as she did, Toto leaped into her arms and licked her face. At once, as if by magic, her pallid cheeks regained their natural, rosy hue.

Then, with her heart tumultuously thumping with excitement, she ran to the yard where the Lion was trapped and quickly unlocked the gate. She hugged the beast fervidly and told him how the Wicked Witch had come to an end and that they were no longer prisoners.

Chapter 17 “The Rescue”

Dorothy and the Lion went together into the castle, where Dorothy called all the Winkies together and eagerly told them they were no longer in thrall to the Wicked Witch of the West. There was great rejoicing among the yellow-clad Winkies, for they had been kept in such abject subjugation and in such horribly abysmal conditions for so many years, that they had long ago given up hope of ever escaping the Witch’s pernicious tyranny.

“If our friends, the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman, were only with us,” said the Lion yearningly, “I would be quite happy.”

“Do you suppose we could rescue them?” asked the girl.

“We can try,” answered the Lion.

Dorothy asked the Winkies if they could help rescue her friends, and the Winkies replied that they would be delighted to do everything in their power for her.

They all traveled one full day and part of

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