They now followed Diksey to the farther end of
the great cave, beyond the Horner city, where
there were several round, dark holes leading into
the ground in a slanting direction. Diksey went to
one of these holes and said:
“Here is the mine in which lies the dark well
you are seeking. Follow me and step care fully and
I’ll lead you to the place.”
He went in first and after him came Ojo, and
then Dorothy, with the Scarecrow behind her.
The Patchwork Girl entered last of all, for Toto
kept close beside his little mistress.
A few steps beyond the mouth of the opening it
was pitch dark. “You won’t lose your way, though,”
said the Homer, “for there’s only one way to go.
The mine’s mine and I know every step of the way.
How’s that for a joke, eh? The mine’s mine.” Then
he chuckled gleefully as they followed him
silently down the steep slant. The hole was just
big enough to permit them to walk upright,
although the Scarecrow, being much the taller of
the party, often had to bend his head to keep from
hitting the top.
The floor of the tunnel was difficult to walk
upon because it had been worn smooth as glass, and
pretty soon Scraps, who was some distance behind
the others, slipped and fell head foremost. At
once she began to slide downward, so swiftly that
when she came to the Scarecrow she knocked him off
his feet and sent him tumbling against Dorothy,
who tripped up Ojo. The boy fell against the
Horner, so that all went tumbling down the slide
in a regular mix-up, unable to see where they were
going because of the darkness.
Fortunately, when they reached the bottom the
Scarecrow and Scraps were in front, and the others
bumped against them, so that no one was hurt. They
found themselves in a vast cave which was dimly
lighted by the tiny grains of radium that lay
scattered among the loose rocks.
“Now,” said Diksey, when they had all re
gained their feet, “I will show you where the
dark well is. This is a big place, but if we hold
fast to each other we won’t get lost.”
They took hold of hands and the Homer led
them into a dark corner, where he halted.
“Be careful,” said he warningly. “The well is
at your feet.”
“All right,” replied Ojo, and kneeling down
he felt in the well with his hand and found
that it contained a quantity of water. “Where’s
the gold flask, Dorothy?” he asked, and the
little girl handed him the flask, which she had
brought with her.
Ojo knelt again and by feeling carefully in
the dark managed to fill the flask with the
unseen water that was in the well. Then he
screwed the top of the flask firmly in place and
put the precious water in his pocket.
“All right!” he said again, in a glad voice;
“now we can go back.”
They returned to the mouth of the tunnel and
began to creep cautiously up the incline. This
time they made Scraps stay behind, for fear she
would slip again; but they all managed to get up
in safety and the Munchkin boy was very happy when
he stood in the Horner city and realized that the
water from the dark well, which he and his friends
had traveled so far to secure, was safe in his