“Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?”
Stepping from the porch, Belle and Angel looked around. Never before had either of them seen so many colours all at once. After a while, their eyes were aching just looking at them.
“Tiny houses,” Belle observed. “I wonder who lives in them.”
“Hey, there’s a street sign,” Angel said, but before either of them could go to it, something happened that distracted them completely. A bright blue light, like a star, suddenly burst into being before them and then, as it faded, the figure of a woman stood where it had been. She was beautiful, with blonde hair and kind eyes and wearing a long blue dress.
Both Belle and Angel blinked at her. “Now I know we’re definitely not in France anymore,” Belle said.
The woman glided up to them and spoke, kindly, and inquiringly. “Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?”
“Who me?” Belle asked in surprise. “I’m not a witch at all. My name’s Belle Garland.”
“Oh.” The woman glanced at Angel and pointed with her wand at her. “Well, is that the witch?”
Angel blinked. “Witch? Me?”
“Angel’s my dog,” Belle explained.
“Oh. Well, pardon me, but I’m a little confused. You see, the Munchkins told me that a new witch had just landed and dropped a house on the Wicked Witch of the East. And here you are, and there’s the house, and that’s all that’s left of the Wicked Witch of the East.”
Belle and Angel turned and saw, for the first time, a pair of feet with red shoes on them sticking out from underneath the house. “Goodness!” Belle exclaimed.
“So that’s why the Munchkins want to know whether you’re a good witch or a bad witch,” the woman explained.
“But I already said, I’m not a witch at all.” Belle pulled a face. “Witches are old and ugly, and fly around on broomsticks in black.”
Sudden giggling came from the bushes, and Angel let off a volley of barks that quickly silenced it. “Angel, shush,” Belle told her, and then to the woman, “What was that?”
The woman smiled. “The Munchkins. They’re laughing because I am a witch. I am Evangeline, the Good Witch of the North.”
“Oh!” Belle blushed. “Oh, I beg your pardon, but I didn’t know that witches could be beautiful.”
Evangeline smiled. “Only bad witches are ugly. Well, most of them, anyway. And Miss Garland, the Munchkins are happy because you have freed them from the spell of the Wicked Witch of the East.”
“What exactly are Munchkins?” Angel asked.
“The people who live in this land. It’s Munchkinland.” As she spoke, people that came up to about Belle’s waist emerged from the greenery and began to bow to her. Evangeline smiled. “And they wish to thank you.”
A woman in red came forward and clasped Belle’s hand in both of her own. “We are eternally in your debt, Miss Garland. Your miracle has been just what we needed.”
“Oh, no, it wasn’t a miracle,” Belle insisted. “You see, we were lifted up from our town in France by an enormous twister and somehow we wound up here.”
“Even so, we’re free!” exclaimed a dwarf in red with a beige hat. “Free of the Witch.”
“Let the joyous news be spread; the Wicked old Witch at last is dead!” Evangeline said.
The Munchkins laughed in delight and began to dance. “Ding dong, the Witch is dead! Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch! Ding dong, the Wicked Witch is dead! Wake up your sleepy head! Rub your eyes, get out of bed! Ding dong, the Wicked Witch is dead! She’s gone where the Goblins go, below, below, below, yo ho! Let’s open up and sing! And ring the bells out! Ding dong, the merry ho! Sing it high! Sing it low! Let them know the Wicked Witch is dead!”
Belle and Angel found themselves hustled along to the Mayor’s house. “As Mayor of Munchkin City, in the County of the Land of Diz, I wish to welcome you most regally,” he said.
“But we’ve got to verify it legally,” a barrister reminded him. “To see if she is morally, ethically, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably, unreliably dead!”
But the coroner had brought the death certificate now that confirmed it. “She’s not only merely dead; she’s really most sincerely dead,” he said.
“Then this is a day of independence,” said the Mayor, “for all the Munchkins and their descendants. Yes, let the joyous news be spread; the Wicked old Witch at last is dead.”
“Ding dong, the Witch is dead! Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch! Ding dong, the Wicked Witch is dead! Wake up your sleepy head! Rub your eyes, get out of bed! Ding dong, the Wicked Witch is dead! She’s gone where the Goblins go, below, below, below, yo ho! Let’s open up and sing! And ring the bells out! Ding dong, the merry ho! Sing it high! Sing it low! Let them know the Wicked Witch is dead!”
Belle found herself handed a bunch of flowers by a group of dancer girls, and then a large lollipop from three tough lookin little boys, all to “Welcome you to Munchkinland.” Angel began to bark happily as the Munchkins began to sing again.
“Tra la la la la la la la la la la; tra la la la la la la! Tra la la la la la la la la la la; tra la la la la la la-!”
And then they all screamed and ducked down, as, in a blaze of green smoke, another woman appeared. She was dressed in a dark brown dress and though strikingly beautiful, her eyes were cold and angry. She had two large twisted horns on top of her head and enormous wings that swept the ground as she marched up to Belle, Angel and Evangeline.
“I thought we’d killed her!” Belle hissed to Evangeline, picking up Angel.
“That was Narissa, the Wicked Witch of the East. This is her sister, Maleficent, the Wicked Witch of the West; and I’m afraid she’s far worse,” Evangeline replied.
“I can hear you,” Maleficent said, pointedly, to Evangeline, and then she turned to Belle. “Did you kill my sister?”
“I...” Belle found she was trembling. “I didn’t mean to kill anyone. It was an accident. You see, there was this twister and my house-!”
“Didn’t mean to?” Maleficent cut across her, darkly. “An accident? Well, Beastie, I can cause accidents too, you know!”
“Aren’t you forgetting about the Ruby Slippers?” Evangeline cut in, curtly, placing a gentle hand on Belle’s shoulder.
“The Slippers?” Maleficent turned to the house and quickly ran up to her sister’s feet. Then, she turned and glared at Evangeline. “They’re gone! What have you done with them?”
“Too late,” laughed Evangeline, lightly, and she pointed her wand at Belle’s feet. “There they are, and there they’ll stay.”
Belle glanced down at her feet and gasped when she saw the glittering Slippers on her feet instead of her own black shoes.
“Give me those Slippers!” Maleficent demanded. “I’m the only one who knows how to use them! They’re no good to you!”
“Don’t do it, Belle,” Evangeline replied. “They must have very powerful magic, otherwise she wouldn’t want them!”
“You stay out of this, Evangeline!” Maleficent snapped. They were my sisters, so I want them! Give them to me, or I’ll fix you both!”
“Nonsense!” laughed Evangeline. “You’ve got no power here! Now, be gone, before someone drops a house on you too!”
Maleficent looked up at the sky as though expecting one to suddenly fall. “Very well,” she said, dropping her eyes to Belle. “I’ll bide my time. But you will regret this, Beastie. I will have those Slippers, one way or another; so just try and stay out of my way. Just try. I’ll get you, Beastie; and you’re little dog too!”
And then, with an evil laugh, Maleficent raised her wings and swooped away, in another cloud of smoke. Belle covered her head as the wings just brushed her in passing. Angel began to growl. Evangeline, coughing, brushed away the smoke.
“It’s alright,” she said to the Munchkins. “You can get up. She’s gone now.”
The Munchkins got to their feet, looking worried. “Oh,dear,” said the woman in red, “you’ve really made an enemy of her, Miss Garland.”
“Oh, what a smell of sulphur!” exclaimed Evangeline, waving her want and the smell vanished to be replaced by a floral fragrance. She turned to Belle. “I’m afraid that’s true, my dear. Keep tight inside those shoes, so she can’t get her hands on them.”
Belle sighed and looked all around. “I think I’d like to get back to France now; if there is a way.”
“Well, you certainly can’t go the way you came,” Evangeline pointed out. “The only person who might be able to help you would be the great and powerful, and wonderful, Wizard of Diz himself.”
At the words “Wizard of Diz,” the Munchkins all bowed low.
“Wizard of Diz?” Belle repeated. “Is he good or bad?”
“Oh, very good,” Evangeline answered, “but very mysterious. He resides in the emerald City; that’s miles away from here. Did you bring your broomstick?”
Belle laughed. “I’m afraid not.”
“Well, then, you’ll have to walk it,” Evangeline replied. “The easiest way to get there is to follow the Yellow Brick Road. The Munchkins will see you safe to the border of Munchkinland.”
Belle glanced down at the spiral of yellow bricks at her feet that marked the beginning of the Yellow Brick Road. Angel jumped down from her arms and grinned at her mistress. “Well, let’s get started!”
Belle looked up at Evangeline. “But what happens if-?”
“Just follow the Yellow Brick Road,” answered Evangeline, and then in a wave of her wand and a flash of blue sparkles, she vanished.
“People come and go so quickly here,” Belle commented, before stepping onto the Yellow Brick Road. “So, we just follow the Yellow Brick Road?”
“Follow the Yellow Brick Road,” the Munchkins agreed, as one, and then they began to sing “Follow the Yellow Brick Road, follow the Yellow Brick Road; follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the Yellow Brick Road! Follow the rainbow over the stream; follow the fellow who follows a dream! Follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the Yellow Brick Road! You’re off the see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Diz! You’ll find he is a wiz of a Wiz if ever a Wiz there is! If ever, oh ever, a wiz there is, the Wizard of Diz is one because, because, because, because, because, because...because of the wonderfulness he is! You’re off to see the Wizard; the Wonderful Wizard of Diz!”
They reached the border of Munchkinland and the Munchkins waved Belle and Angel off. Belle waved back and then turned to Angel. “Let’s hope this Wizard of Diz can help us get home. I hope Aunt Sarah and Uncle John aren’t too worried about us.”
“It’s Miss Mulch I’m worried about,” Angel replied, trotting along beside her. “Still, who knows? Maybe if we’re lucky, the twister will have blown her away.”
Belle laughed. “Fingers crossed! This is so weird being able to talk to you and hear you talk back.”
“You’re telling me,” Angel agreed. “Still, if there’s such a thing as magic here, that would explain one or two things.”
They walked along the road for a while in silence. Then, Angel said “Belle, I don’t suppose you brought anything to eat, did you?”
Belle realised then just how hungry she was. “Afraid not, Angel. Maybe we could find something out here, though.”
“Like an apple or something?” Angel wrinkled her nose. “That’s all very well for you but I’m a dog! I need meat!”
Even as she said it, something suddenly fell from the tree they were passing under and hit the road in front of them with sudden dull thud. Both Belle and Angel jumped.
“Jeepers, what’s that?” Angel exclaimed, stepping cautiously forwards and sniffing over the thing. It looked like a large, bucket shaped berry. “Hey, I think I can smell ham!”
Belle crouched down and saw the word Lunch written on the side of the berry. She tapped it. “It’s made from tin,” she said, and then, tugging at it, she found that the lid came off, revealing a white paper parcel inside. Suddenly a second one fell from the tree, narrowly missing Angel. She let out a yelp. “Hey, steady on!”
Belle picked up both pails and moved them over to a nearby fence. Together they sat down and inspected the contents of the first. In the white paper parcel were two ham sandwiches, a piece of sponge cake, a pickle, a slice of new cheese, an apple and a small clay bottle of water.
“I said I could smell ham!” Angel grinned, sitting patiently for Belle hand her one of the sandwiches.
Belle laid it on the floor, along with a small piece of the cake and a bit of the cheese. “You don’t like pickles, do you?” she said.
Angel shook her head, her mouth full of sandwich. Belle ate her own meal, occasionally pouring water into her cupped hand and holding it out for Angel whilst she drank from the bottle. “It’s a good idea,” she mused, “a tree that can grow lunchboxes in it.”
“Mm!” agreed Angel, licking her lips.
“We’ll save this other one for later,” Belle said, patting the other pail as she began to eat her apple.
Angel stretched and lay down beside her. “I hope this journey doesn’t take days. I don’t much fancy sleeping out in a place where a Wicked Witch could be watching us.”
“No, me neither,” Belle agreed. She thought longingly back to the Benbow Inn and Aunt Sarah and Uncle John, and gave a small sigh. “How did we land ourselves in this mess, Angel?”
Angel glanced up at her. “I blame Miss Mulch, myself.”
Belle smiled. “Me too. Come on.” She threw her apple core into the hedge and got to her feet. “Let’s press on. The sooner we get to the Emerald City, the sooner we can get back home.”
“We hope,” Angel agreed as she followed her mistress down the road again.
"Ding dong, the Witch is dead!"
"I’ll get you, Beastie; and you’re little dog too!”
“Well, let’s get started!”