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The Wizard of Oz - Chapter 1


Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle

Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer's wife. Their

house was small, for the lumber to build it had to be carried by wagon

many miles. There were four walls, a floor and a roof, which made one

room; and this room contained a rusty looking cookstove, a cupboard for

the dishes, a table, three or four chairs, and the beds. Uncle Henry

and Aunt Em had a big bed in one corner, and Dorothy a little bed in

another corner. There was no garret at all, and no cellar--except a

small hole dug in the ground, called a cyclone cellar, where the family

could go in case one of those great whirlwinds arose, mighty enough to

crush any building in its path. It was reached by a trap door in the

middle of the floor, from which a ladder led down into the small, dark

hole.

When Dorothy stood in the doorway and looked around, she could see

nothing but the great gray prairie on every side. Not a tree nor a

house broke the broad sweep of flat country that reached to the edge of

the sky in all directions. The sun had baked the plowed land into a

gray mass, with little cracks running through it. Even the grass was

not green, for the sun had burned the tops of the long blades until

they were the same gray color to be seen everywhere. Once the house

had been painted, but the sun blistered the paint and the rains washed

it away, and now the house was as dull and gray as everything else.

When Aunt Em came there to live she was a young, pretty wife. The sun

and wind had changed her, too. They had taken the sparkle from her

eyes and left them a sober gray; they had taken the red from her cheeks

and lips, and they were gray also. She was thin and gaunt, and never

smiled now. When Dorothy, who was an orphan, first came to her, Aunt

Em had been so startled by the child's laughter that she would scream

and press her hand upon her heart whenever Dorothy's merry voice

reached her ears; and she still looked at the little girl with wonder

that she could find anything to laugh at.

Uncle Henry never laughed. He worked hard from morning till night and

did not know what joy was. He was gray also, from his long beard to

his rough boots, and he looked stern and solemn, and rarely spoke.

It was Toto that made Dorothy laugh, and saved her from growing as gray

as her other surroundings. Toto was not gray; he was a little black

dog, with long silky hair and small black eyes that twinkled merrily on

either side of his funny, wee nose. Toto played all day long, and

Dorothy played with him, and loved him dearly.

Today, however, they were not playing. Uncle Henry sat upon the

doorstep and looked anxiously at the sky, which was even grayer than

usual. Dorothy stood in the door with Toto in her arms, and looked at

the sky too. Aunt Em was washing the dishes.

From the far north they heard a low wail of the wind, and Uncle Henry

and Dorothy could see where the long grass bowed in waves before the

coming storm. There now came a sharp whistling in the air from the

south, and as they turned their eyes that way they saw ripples in the

grass coming from that direction also.

Suddenly Uncle Henry stood up.

"There's a cyclone coming, Em," he called to his wife. "I'll go look

after the stock." Then he ran toward the sheds where the cows and

horses were kept.

Aunt Em dropped her work and came to the door. One glance told her of

the danger close at hand.

"Quick, Dorothy!" she screamed. "Run for the cellar!"

Toto jumped out of Dorothy's arms and hid under the bed, and the girl

started to get him. Aunt Em, badly frightened, threw open the trap

door in the floor and climbed down the ladder into the small, dark

hole. Dorothy caught Toto at last and started to follow her aunt.

When she was halfway across the room there came a great shriek from the

wind, and the house shook so hard that she lost her footing and sat

down suddenly upon the floor.

Then a strange thing happened.

The house whirled around two or three times and rose slowly through the

air. Dorothy felt as if she were going up in a balloon.

The north and south winds met where the house stood, and made it the

exact center of the cyclone. In the middle of a cyclone the air is

generally still, but the great pressure of the wind on every side of

the house raised it up higher and higher, until it was at the very top

of the cyclone; and there it remained and was carried miles and miles

away as easily as you could carry a feather.

It was very dark, and the wind howled horribly around her, but Dorothy

found she was riding quite easily. After the first few whirls around,

and one other time when the house tipped badly, she felt as if she were

being rocked gently, like a baby in a cradle.

Toto did not like it. He ran about the room, now here, now there,

barking loudly; but Dorothy sat quite still on the floor and waited to

see what would happen.

Once Toto got too near the open trap door, and fell in; and at first

the little girl thought she had lost him. But soon she saw one of his

ears sticking up through the hole, for the strong pressure of the air

was keeping him up so that he could not fall. She crept to the hole,

caught Toto by the ear, and dragged him into the room again, afterward

closing the trap door so that no more accidents could happen.

Hour after hour passed away, and slowly Dorothy got over her fright;

but she felt quite lonely, and the wind shrieked so loudly all about

her that she nearly became deaf. At first she had wondered if she

would be dashed to pieces when the house fell again; but as the hours

passed and nothing terrible happened, she stopped worrying and resolved

to wait calmly and see what the future would bring. At last she

crawled over the swaying floor to her bed, and lay down upon it; and

Toto followed and lay down beside her.

In spite of the swaying of the house and the wailing of the wind,

Dorothy soon closed her eyes and fell fast asleep.


QUIZ TIME!

  1. Where did Dorothy live with her uncle and aunt?

  • A. In a big city

  • B. On a farm in Kansas

  • C. In a castle

  • D. In a desert

  1. What was special about Dorothy’s dog, Toto?

  • A. He had long ears

  • B. He could talk

  • C. He was gray in color

  • D. He had small black eyes and silky hair

  1. What was the purpose of the small hole dug in the ground near Dorothy’s house?

  • A. It was a cellar for storing food

  • B. It was a play area for Toto

  • C. It was a garden for Aunt Em

  • D. It was a cyclone cellar for shelter during storms

  1. What event prompted Uncle Henry to take action and Aunt Em to scream for Dorothy to run to safety?

  • A. A tornado

  • B. A flood

  • C. A thunderstorm

  • D. A wildfire

  1. How did Dorothy and her house end up in the air during the cyclone?

  • A. They were lifted by a giant bird

  • B. They were blown away by the wind

  • C. They were carried by a hot air balloon

  • D. They were transported by a magical spell

Answers:

  1. B. On a farm in Kansas

  2. D. He had small black eyes and silky hair

  3. D. It was a cyclone cellar for shelter during storms

  4. A. A tornado

  5. B. They were blown away by the wind



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