Folklore, legends, myths and fairy tales have followed childhood through the
ages, for every healthy youngster has a wholesome and instinctive love for stories
fantastic, marvelous and manifestly unreal. The winged fairies of Grimm and Andersen
have brought more happiness to childish hearts than all other human creations.
Yet the old time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now be classed
as ''historical'' in the children's library; for the time has come for a series
of newer ''wonder tales'' in which the stereotyped genie, dwarf and fairy are eliminated,
together with all the horrible and blood - curdling incidents devised by their authors
to point a fearsome moral to each tale. Modern education includes morality; therefore
the modern child seeks only entertainment in its wonder tales and 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 a modernized fairy
tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares
are left out.
L. Frank Baum,
1. The Cyclone
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
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.
2. The Council with the Munchkins
She was awakened by a shock, so sudden and severe that if Dorothy had not been
lying on the soft bed she might have been hurt. As it was, the jar made her catch
her breath and wonder what had happened; and Toto put his cold little nose into
her face and whined dismally. Dorothy sat up and noticed that the house was not
moving; nor was it dark, for the bright sunshine came in at the window, flooding
the little room. She sprang from her bed and with Toto at her heels ran and opened
The little girl gave a cry of amazement and looked about her, her eyes growing
bigger and bigger at the wonderful sights she saw.
The cyclone had set the house down very gently - for a cyclone - in the midst
of a country of marvelous beauty. There were lovely patches of greensward all about,
with stately trees bearing rich and luscious fruits. Banks of gorgeous flowers were
on every hand, and birds with rare and brilliant plumage sang and fluttered in the
trees and bushes. A little way off was a small brook, rushing and sparkling along
between green banks, and murmuring in a voice very grateful to a little girl who
had lived so long on the dry, gray prairies.
While she stood looking eagerly at the strange and beautiful sights, she noticed
coming toward her a group of the queerest people she had ever seen. They were not
as big as the grown folk she had always been used to; but neither were they very
small. In fact, they seemed about as tall as Dorothy, who was a well - grown child
for her age, although they were, so far as looks go, many years older.
Three were men and one a woman, and all were oddly dressed. They wore round hats
that rose to a small point a foot above their heads, with little bells around the
brims that tinkled sweetly as they moved. The hats of the men were blue; the little
woman's hat was white, and she wore a white gown that hung in pleats from her shoulders.
Over it were sprinkled little stars that glistened in the sun like diamonds. The
men were dressed in blue, of the same shade as their hats, and wore well - polished
boots with a deep roll of blue at the tops. The men, Dorothy thought, were about
as old as Uncle Henry, for two of them had beards. But the little woman was doubtless
much older. Her face was covered with wrinkles, her hair was nearly white, and she
walked rather stiffly.