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to Toto.

For a while, she stood, mouth agape, in a state of transfixed incredulity. As she finally came out of her stupor, she noticed a knot of strange little people approaching her. They were only as tall as children, but they looked to her much older.

There were several men, but only one woman. The bewhiskered men Dorothy thought to be about as old as Uncle Henry. But the woman, wizened and hoary, with a stiff, deliberate gait, was doubtless much older.

When these diminutive creatures drew near to where Dorothy was standing, they suddenly paused, as if afraid to come any closer. Then, while the men timorously held back, the woman emboldened herself to walk up to Dorothy and say, “Welcome to the Land of the Munchkins. Thank you for killing the Wicked Witch of the East and for freeing our people from her heinous hegemony.”

Dorothy, an ingenuous little girl who had never killed anything in her life, was taken aback. She wondered what the little woman could possibly mean. “I didn’t kill anyone,” Dorothy protested. “There must be some mistake.”

“Your house fell on her, and therefore, however unwittingly, you killed her just the same,” rejoined the little woman. The Wicked Witch’s two feet, sticking out from under the corner of the house, evinced the veracity of the little woman’s claim.

The woman then told Dorothy that she herself was a witch! Sensing the girl’s sudden alarm, she quickly reassured her. “Not all witches are wicked,” she explained. “In the Land of Oz there were four witches. Two of them, the ones who live in the North and the South are good. I should know this is true because I am the Witch of the North.”

Elucidating further, the Witch of the North continued, “There were two wicked witches—the ones who lived in the East and West. But of course, now that the Witch of the East is patently dead, there remains only one wicked witch—the Witch of the West.”

Just then, the Munchkins, who had been silently standing by, began shouting and gesticulating. They were pointing toward the corner of the house where the Wicked Witch had been lying. Amazingly, her legs and feet began to disappear! The good Witch explained, “This is a case of what we call spontaneous desiccation. The Witch of the East was so old that, now that she is dead, the sun can quickly dry her up!”

All that remained was a pair of beautiful, gleaming, Silver Shoes that so belied the wickedness of the Witch. The good Witch reached down and picked them up, then handed them to Dorothy. “These Silver Shoes are yours to keep and to wear,” she said, beneficently waiving the putative claim she had on them herself.

“The Witch of the East was especially proud of the Silver Shoes,” one of the Munchkins chimed in, “because of their reputed magical powers. But so far, no one has discovered what the Shoes’ powers are or how they’re used. Over the years, a few ideas have been

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