"that is the minotaur's noise," whispered ariadne, closely grasping the hand of theseus, and pressing one of her own hands to her heart, which was all in a tremble. "you must follow that sound through the windings of the labyrinth, and, by and by, you will find him. stay! take the end of this silken string; i will hold the other end; and then, if you win the victory, it will lead you again to this spot. farewell, brave theseus."
as the screen fell with a crash they looked that way, and the next moment all of them were filled with wonder. for they saw, standing in just the spot the screen had hidden, a little old man, with a bald head and a wrinkled face, who seemed to be as much surprised as they were. the tin woodman, raising his axe, rushed toward the little man and cried out, "who are you?"
"i am oz, the great and terrible," said the little man, in a trembling voice. "but don't strike me--please don't--and i'll do anything you want me to."
our friends looked at him in surprise and dismay.
"i thought oz was a great head," said dorothy.
"and i thought oz was a lovely lady," said the scarecrow.
"and i thought oz was a terrible beast," said the tin woodman.
"and i thought oz was a ball of fire," exclaimed the lion.
"no, you are all wrong," said the little man meekly. "i have been making believe."
"making believe!" cried dorothy. "are you not a great wizard?"
"hush, my dear," he said. "don't speak so loud, or you will be overheard--and i should be ruined. i'm supposed to be a great wizard."
"and aren't you?" she asked.
"not a bit of it, my dear; i'm just a common man."
"oh, you cruel, CRUEL dog! whatever made you do such a thing as this? i never dreamt it of you, never."