Chapter 17 – How the Ballon was Launched
For three days, Dorothy heard nothing from Oz. These were sad days for the little girl, although her friends were all quite happy. The scarecrow told them there were wonderful thought in his head. But he didn’t say what they were because he knew that no one could understand them but himself. When the tin man walked around, he felt his little heart rattling around in his chest. He told Dorothy he had discovered it was a kinder and more tender heart than the one he had when he was made of flesh. The lion declared that he was afraid of nothing on earth, and would gladly face an army of fierce Kalidahs.
Each of the little party was satisfied except Dorothy, who longed more than ever to get back to Kansas.
On the fourth day, to her great joy, Oz sent for her. When she entered the Throne Room, he greeted her pleasantly.
“Sit down, my dear. I think I have found the way to get you out of this country.”
“And back to Kansas?” she asked eagerly.
“Well, I’m not sure about Kansas,” said Oz, “because I have no idea which way it is. But the first thing to do is to cross the desert. Then, it should be easy to find your way home.”
“How can I cross the desert?” she inquired.
“Well, I’ll tell you what I think,” said the little man. You see, when I came to this country, it was in a balloon. You also came through the air, by a cyclone. So I believe the best way to get across the desert will be through the air. Now, it is quite beyond my powers to make a cyclone, but I believe I can make a balloon.”
“How?” asked Dorothy.
“A balloon,” said Oz, “is made of silk, which is coated with glue to keep the gas in it. I have plenty of silk in the Palace, so it will be no trouble to make the balloon. But in all this country, there is no gas to fill the balloon with, to make it float.”
“If it won’t float,” said Dorothy, “it will be useless.”
“True,” answered Oz. “But there is another way to make it float, which is to fill it with hot air. Hot air isn’t as reliable as gas because if the air gets cold, the balloon will fall into the desert, and we would be lost.”
“We!” exclaimed the girl. “Are you going with me?”
“Yes, of course,” replied Oz. “I’m tired of being such a humbug. If I left this palace, my people would soon discover that I’m not a wizard, so I have to stay shut up in these rooms all day. It gets boring. I’d rather go back to Kansas with you and be in a circus again.”
“I will be glad to have your company,” said Dorothy.
“Thank you,” he answered. “Now, if you will help me sew the silk together, we will begin to work on our balloon.”
So Dorothy took a needle and thread, and as fast as Oz but the strips of silk, the girl sewed them together neatly. First, there was a strip of light green silk, then a strip of dark green, and then a strip of emerald green. It took three days to sew all the strips together, but when it was finished, they had a big bag of green silk more than twenty feet long.
Then Oz painted it on the inside with a coat of thin glue to make it airtight. After that, he announced that the balloon was ready.
“But we must have a basket to ride in,” he said. So he sent the soldier with the green beard to get a big basket, which he fastened to the bottom of the ballon with ropes.
When it was all ready, Oz sent word to his people that he was going to make a visit to his great brother wizard who lived in the clouds. The news spread rapidly throughout the city, and everyone came to see the wonderful sight.
Oz ordered the balloon to be carried out in front of the Palace. The people gaze upon it with curiosity. The tin man had chopped a big pile of wood, and now he made a fire from it. Oz held the bottom of the balloon over the fire so that the hot air could be caught in the silk bag. Gradually, the balloon swelled out and rose into the air.
Then Oz got into the basket and said to all the people in a loud voice:
“I am going away to make a visit. While I am gone, the scarecrow will rule over you. I command you to obey him, as you would obey me.”
The balloon was tugging hard at the rope that held it to the ground. The air in it was hot, and this made the balloon much lighter in weight than the air. Without the rope, it would rise to the sky.
“Come, Dorothy!” cried the wizard. “Hurry up, or the balloon will fly away.”
“I can’t find Toto anywhere,” replied Dorothy, who didn’t want to leave her little dog behind. Toto had run into the crowd to back at a kitten, and Dorothy, at last, found him. She picked him up and ran towards the balloon.
She was within a few steps of it, and Oz was holding out his hands to help her into the basket, when, CRACK!, the rope broke and the balloon rose into the air without her.
“Come back!” she screamed. “I want to go, too!”
“I can’t come back, my dear,” called Oz from the basket. “Goodbye!”
“Goodbye!” shouted everyone, and all eyes watched the wizard riding up in the basket. Every moment, he rose farther and farther into the sky.
And that was the last time they ever saw Oz, the Wonderful Wizard. He might have reached Omaha safely, and be there now, but we will never know. The people remembered him lovingly and said to one another:
“Oz was always our friend. When he was here, he built this beautiful Emerald City for us, and now he has left the wise scarecrow to rule over us.”
For many days, the people of Emerald City grieved over the loss of the Wonderful Wizard.