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18. The Fate of the Tin Woodman
Dorothy obeyed. She ran at once behind the Nome King, who was still trying to free his eyes from the egg, and in a twinkling she had unbuckled his splendid jeweled belt and carried it away with her to her place beside the Tiger and Lion, where, because she did not know what else to do with it, she fastened it around her own slim waist.
Just then the Chief Steward rushed in with a sponge and a bowl of water, and began mopping away the broken eggs from his master's face. In a few minutes, and while all the party stood looking on, the King regained the use of his eyes, and the first thing he did was to glare wickedly upon the Scarecrow and exclaim:
"I'll make you suffer for this, you hay-stuffed dummy! Don't you know eggs are poison to Nomes?"
"Really," said the Scarecrow, "they DON'T seem to agree with you, although I wonder why."
"They were strictly fresh and above suspicion," said Billina. "You ought to be glad to get them."
"I'll transform you all into scorpions!" cried the King, angrily, and began waving his arms and muttering magic words.
But none of the people became scorpions, so the King stopped and looked at them in surprise.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"Why, you are not wearing your magic belt," replied the Chief Steward, after looking the King over carefully. "Where is it? What have you done with it?"
The Nome King clapped his hand to his waist, and his rock colored face turned white as chalk.
"It's gone," he cried, helplessly. "It's gone, and I am ruined!"
Dorothy now stepped forward and said:
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