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Then Oz climbed into the basket and said to all the spectators in a resonant, official voice, “The Great Wizards of the World conference—which, as you know, is a yearly gathering of the world’s most preeminent wizards—will be starting shortly. Because I fit that rubric, my attendance is mandatory. But don’t think of this as my swan song, for I shall return,” he lied. “During my junket, the Scarecrow, by virtue of his inimitable brain, will rule over you. I hereby enjoin you to abide by his orders as you would mine.”

This announcement came as a surprise to the aggrandized Scarecrow, who was about to demur on the grounds of obtuseness. But then, remembering his new brain, he kept quiet.

The balloon was by this time tugging hard at the ropes that held it to the ground, for the air within it was hot, and this made it so much lighter than the air outside it that it pulled hard to rise into the sky.

“Come, Dorothy!” urged Oz. “Hurry, or the balloon will fly away!”

“I can’t find Toto anywhere!” yelled the girl, who refused to leave her little dog behind. Toto had run into the crowd to chase a kitten, causing a frenetic melee. Dorothy tried to follow after them, but they were too quick. As the pursuer and his spry little quarry darted here and there, the onlookers, trying to be helpful, kept screaming out Toto’s location to her, but their words were lost in the confused babel of everyone talking at the same time. Then, when Toto, in his feisty chase, fortuitously passed right before her, Dorothy ended the fracas by scooping him into her arms. Now, while simultaneously chiding the dog for acting like a naughty little scamp and dotingly petting him, she worked her way as expeditiously as possible through the throng, toward the balloon. She was within a few steps of it, and Oz was holding out his hands to help her into the basket, when her passage was unexpectedly blocked by a passing woman with a green parasol. Just then the ropes cracked and the tumescent balloon started rising into the air without her.

“Come back!” she screamed, appalled. “I want to go, too!”

“I can’t come back, my dear,” called Oz helplessly from the basket. “I don’t know how.”

Now the ersatz Wizard, the cynosure of all eyes, rose swiftly into the sky. With every passing moment he grew smaller and smaller. As they watched him vanish into nothingness, the Tin Woodman’s metal hand, as if of its own volition, gently placed itself upon Dorothy’s shoulder in a kind of mute consolation.

Chapter 22 “The Letter”

Feeling she had reached the nadir of her hopes, a mantle of profound hopelessness enveloped Dorothy. And her companions grieved over losing their kindly mentor.

The next morning the four travelers met in the Throne Room to discuss matters. The Scarecrow sat on the Throne with his lanky limbs splayed awkwardly over its edges.

“Well then, what can be done about getting

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