| Web and Book design
copyright, Kellscraft Studio
(Return to Web Text-ures)
Here to return to
Dorothy and the
Wizard of Oz
1. The Earthquake
The train from
'Frisco was very late.
have arrived at Hugson's Siding at midnight, but it was already five
the gray dawn was breaking in the east when the little train slowly
to the open shed that served for the station-house.
As it came to a stop the
conductor called out in a loud voice:
At once a
little girl rose from her seat and walked to the door of the car,
wicker suit-case in one hand and a round bird-cage covered up with
the other, while a parasol was tucked under her arm.
The conductor helped her off
the car and then the engineer started his
train again, so that it puffed and groaned and moved slowly away up the
The reason he was so late was
because all through the night there were
times when the solid earth shook and trembled under him, and the
afraid that at any moment the rails might spread apart and an accident
So he moved the
cars slowly and with caution.
girl stood still to watch until the train had disappeared around a
she turned to see where she was.
The shed at
Hugson's Siding was bare save for an old wooden bench, and did not look
As she peered through the
soft gray light not a house of any
sort was visible near the station, nor was any person in sight; but
while the child discovered a horse and buggy standing near a group of
short distance away.
toward it and found the horse tied to a tree and standing motionless,
head hanging down almost to the ground. It
was a big horse, tall and bony, with long legs and large knees and
could count his ribs easily where they showed through the skin of his
his head was long and seemed altogether too big for him, as if it did
His tail was short and
scraggly, and his harness had been broken in many
places and fastened together again with cords and bits of wire.
The buggy seemed almost new,
for it had a shiny top and side curtains. Getting
around in front, so that she could look inside, the
girl saw a boy curled up on the seat, fast asleep.
She set down
the bird-cage and poked the boy with her parasol. Presently he woke up,
a sitting position and rubbed his eyes briskly.
"Hello!" he said, seeing her, "are you Dorothy Gale?"
"Yes," she answered, looking gravely at his tousled hair and blinking
"Have you come to
take me to Hugson's Ranch?"
course," he answered.
couldn't be here if it wasn't," she said.
He laughed at
that, and his laugh was merry and frank. Jumping
out of the buggy he put Dorothy's suit-case under the seat and her
the floor in front.
"Canary-birds?" he asked.
it's just Eureka, my kitten.
thought that was the best way to carry her."
a funny name for a cat," he remarked.
my kitten that because I found it," she explained.
"Uncle Henry says 'Eureka'
means 'I have found it.'"
right; hop in."
into the buggy and he followed her. Then
the boy picked up the reins, shook them, and said "Gid-dap!"
The horse did
Dorothy thought he just
wiggled one of his drooping ears, but that was all.
"Gid-dap!" called the boy, again.
"Perhaps," said Dorothy, "if you untied him, he would go."
laughed cheerfully and jumped out.
I'm half asleep yet," he said, untying the horse.
"But Jim knows his business
all right – don't you, Jim?" patting
the long nose of the animal.
Then he got
into the buggy again and took the reins, and the horse at once backed
the tree, turned slowly around, and began to trot down the sandy road
just visible in the dim light.
that train would never come," observed the boy.
"I've waited at that station
for five hours."
"We had a
lot of earthquakes," said Dorothy. "Didn't
you feel the ground shake?"
we're used to such things in California," he replied.
"They don't scare us much."
conductor said it was the worst quake he ever knew."
Then it must have happened
while I was asleep," he said
Uncle Henry?" she enquired, after a pause during which the horse
to trot with long, regular strides.
He and Uncle Hugson
have been having a fine visit."
Hugson your uncle?" she asked.
Uncle Bill Hugson married
your Uncle Henry's wife's sister; so we must be
second cousins," said the boy, in an amused tone. "I work for Uncle
Bill on his ranch, and he pays me six dollars a month and my board."
that a great deal?" she asked, doubtfully.
it's a great deal for Uncle Hugson, but not for me.
I'm a splendid worker. I
work as well as I sleep," he added, with a laugh.
your name?" said Dorothy, thinking she liked the boy's manner and the
cheery tone of his voice.
very pretty one," he answered, as if a little ashamed.
"My whole name is Zebediah;
but folks just call me 'Zeb.'
You've been to Australia,
with Uncle Henry," she answered. "We
got to San Francisco a week ago, and Uncle Henry went right on to
for a visit while I stayed a few days in the city with some friends we
will you be with us?" he asked.
Tomorrow Uncle Henry and I
must start back for Kansas. We've
been away for a long time, you know, and so we're anxious to get home
The boy flicked the
big, boney horse with his whip and looked thoughtful.
Then he started to say
something to his little companion, but before he
could speak the buggy began to sway dangerously from side to side and
seemed to rise up before them.
minute there was a roar and a sharp crash, and at her side Dorothy saw
ground open in a wide crack and then come together again.
"Goodness!" she cried, grasping the iron rail of the seat.
an awful big quake," replied Zeb, with a white face.
"It almost got us that time,
The horse had
stopped short, and stood firm as a rock. Zeb
shook the reins and urged him to go, but Jim was stubborn.
Then the boy cracked his whip
and touched the animal's flanks with it,
and after a low moan of protest Jim stepped slowly along the road.
boy nor the girl spoke again for some minutes.
There was a breath of danger
in the very air, and every few moments the
earth would shake violently.
ears were standing erect upon his head and every muscle of his big body
tense as he trotted toward home. He was not going very fast, but on his
specks of foam began to appear and at times he would tremble like a
The sky had
grown darker again and the wind made queer sobbing sounds as it swept
was a rending, tearing sound, and the earth split into another great
beneath the spot where the horse was standing.
With a wild neigh of terror
the animal fell bodily into the pit, drawing
the buggy and its occupants after him.
grabbed fast hold of the buggy top and the boy did the same. The sudden
into space confused them so that they could not think.
Blackness engulfed them on every side, and in breathless silence they waited for the fall to end and crush them against jagged rocks or for the earth to close in on them again and bury them forever in its dreadful depths.
The horrible sensation of falling, the darkness and the terrifying noises, proved more than Dorothy could endure and for a few moments the little girl lost consciousness. Zeb, begin a boy, did not faint, but he was badly frightened, and clung to the buggy seat with a tight grip, expecting every moment would be his last.