Read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Page 1


Folklore, legends, myths and fairy tales have followed childhoodthrough the ages, for every healthy youngster has a wholesome andinstinctive love for stories fantastic, marvelous and manifestlyunreal. The winged fairies of Grimm and Andersen have brought morehappiness to childish hearts than all other human creations.

Yet the old time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now beclassed as ”historical” in the children's library; for the time hascome for a series of newer ”wonder tales” in which the stereotypedgenie, dwarf and fairy are eliminated, together with all the horribleand blood-curdling incidents devised by their authors to point afearsome moral to each tale. Modern education includes morality;therefore the modern child seeks only entertainment in its wonder talesand gladly dispenses with all disagreeable incident.

Having this thought in mind, the story of ”The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”was written solely to please children of today. It aspires to being amodernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained andthe heartaches and nightmares are left out.

L. Frank Baum

Chicago, April, 1900.


1. The Cyclone

Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with UncleHenry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer's wife. Theirhouse was small, for the lumber to build it had to be carried by wagonmany miles. There were four walls, a floor and a roof, which made oneroom; and this room contained a rusty looking cookstove, a cupboard forthe dishes, a table, three or four chairs, and the beds. Uncle Henryand Aunt Em had a big bed in one corner, and Dorothy a little bed inanother corner. There was no garret at all, and no cellar--except asmall hole dug in the ground, called a cyclone cellar, where the familycould go in case one of those great whirlwinds arose, mighty enough tocrush any building in its path. It was reached by a trap door in themiddle of the floor, from which a ladder led down into the small, darkhole.

When Dorothy stood in the doorway and looked around, she could seenothing but the great gray prairie on every side. Not a tree nor ahouse broke the broad sweep of flat country that reached to the edge ofthe sky in all directions. The sun had baked the plowed land into agray mass, with little cracks running through it. Even the grass wasnot green, for the sun had burned the tops of the long blades untilthey were the same gray color to be seen everywhere. Once the househad been painted, but the sun blistered the paint and the rains washedit 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 sunand wind had changed her, too. They had taken the sparkle from hereyes and left them a sober gray; they had taken the red from her cheeksand lips, and they were gray also. She was thin and gaunt, and neversmiled now. When Dorothy, who was an orphan, first came to her, AuntEm had been so startled by the child's laughter that she would screamand press her hand upon her heart whenever Dorothy's merry voicereached her ears; and she still looked at the little girl with wonderthat she could find anything to laugh at.

Uncle Henry never laughed. He worked hard from morning till night anddid not know what joy was. He was gray also, from his long beard tohis rough boots, and he looked stern and solemn, and rarely spoke.

It was Toto that made Dorothy laugh, and saved her from growing as grayas her other surroundings. Toto was not gray; he was a little blackdog, with long silky hair and small black eyes that twinkled merrily oneither side of his funny, wee nose. Toto played all day long, andDorothy played with him, and loved him dearly.

Today, however, they were not playing. Uncle Henry sat upon thedoorstep and looked anxiously at the sky, which was even grayer thanusual. Dorothy stood in the door with Toto in her arms, and looked atthe sky too. Aunt Em was washing the dishes.

From the far north they heard a low wail of the wind, and Uncle Henryand Dorothy could see where the long grass bowed in waves before thecoming storm. There now came a sharp whistling in the air from thesouth, and as they turned their eyes that way they saw ripples in thegrass coming from that direction also.

Suddenly Uncle Henry stood up.

”There's a cyclone coming, Em,” he called to his wife. ”I'll go lookafter the stock.” Then he ran toward the sheds where the cows andhorses were kept.

Aunt Em dropped her work and came to the door. One glance told her ofthe 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 girlstarted to get him. Aunt Em, badly frightened, threw open the trapdoor in the floor and climbed down the ladder into the small, darkhole. Dorothy caught Toto at last and started to follow her aunt.When she was halfway across the room there came a great shriek from thewind, and the house shook so hard that she lost her footing and satdown suddenly upon the floor.

Then a strange thing happened.

The house whirled around two or three times and rose slowly through theair. Dorothy felt as if she were going up in a balloon.

The north and south winds met where the house stood, and made it theexact center of the cyclone. In the middle of a cyclone the air isgenerally still, but the great pressure of the wind on every side ofthe house raised it up higher and higher, until it was at the very topof the cyclone; and there it remained and was carried miles and milesaway as easily as you could carry a feather.

It was very dark, and the wind howled horribly around her, but Dorothyfound 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 werebeing 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 tosee what would happen.

Once Toto got too near the open trap door, and fell in; and at firstthe little girl thought she had lost him. But soon she saw one of hisears sticking up through the hole, for the strong pressure of the airwas 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, afterwardclosing 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 abouther that she nearly became deaf. At first she had wondered if shewould be dashed to pieces when the house fell again; but as the hourspassed and nothing terrible happened, she stopped worrying and resolvedto wait calmly and see what the future would bring. At last shecrawled over the swaying floor to her bed, and lay down upon it; andToto 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.