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perhaps most important of all!

Chapter 5 “The Cowardly Lion”

Walking with her companions through thickening, darkening woods, Dorothy began to feel a gnawing disquietude in her gut. She had a vague premonition of danger, but she wasn’t sure why. Maybe it was because in this part of the woods the birds no longer chirped. Or perhaps it was because here all the yellow bricks that made up the road were covered by dried branches and leaves. She nervously clutched the Scarecrow’s sleeve. In his mind he extrapolated that the darkening sky was merely a precursor to total darkness, but he didn’t announce this for he knew it would probably frighten the girl.

“How much longer until we’re out of the forest?” asked Dorothy in a tremulous little voice.

With a natural, avuncular affection, the Tin Woodman tried to assuage the child’s burgeoning panic by reminding her that no harm could come to her because she still carried on her forehead the protective mark of the good Witch’s kiss. “And you don’t need to worry about me or the Scarecrow either,” he told her, “because I’m made of tin and the Scarecrow of straw, so we can’t be hurt.”

“But what about Toto?” asked Dorothy anxiously. “What will protect him?” She knew she had always cosseted her dog—at least that’s what Uncle Henry claimed—but now she didn’t care if she coddled him; in fact, she was glad of it!

“We will protect him ourselves,” said the Tin Woodman, still hoping to placate the little girl.

Just as he was about to offer a few bromidic reassurances, he heard a terrifying roar and an enormous Lion jumped onto the road! With one swipe of his paw, the great beast sent the Scarecrow head over heels to the side of the road. With another blow, he easily knocked the Tin Woodman to the ground. They both began to get back up but then quailed, apparently cowed by the Lion’s size and pugilistic pose.

Little Toto intrepidly ran barking toward the Lion, whose gaping maw was ready. Dorothy, looking like a mother rushing to save her child from an oncoming train, raced forward and whacked the Lion on his nose as hard as she could!

Incredibly, the Lion started to cry, and blubbered, “What did you do that for? I didn’t hurt him.”

“No, but you tried to,” said Dorothy indignantly, gently dandling Toto in her arms. “You should be ashamed of yourself, a big beast like you trying to bite a poor little dog. Why, you’re nothing but a great big coward!”

“I know it,” said the Lion, hanging his head in shame. He went on to explain that his craven behavior was inherent in his nature, most likely congenital. “I learned early on,” he continued, “that my loud roar scared the other animals, so I’ve always used it to frighten them away. That way I avoided fights. Until now it had always worked.”

“It’s not right that the King of Beasts should be afraid,” said the Scarecrow.

“I know,” said the Lion, wiping

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