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Chapter 1 “The Tornado” 

Once upon a time, a winsome young orphan named Dorothy lived with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry on a bleak, hardscrabble Kansas farm. Located about fifty feet from their Spartan little house was a small underground room called a cyclone cellar, where the family could go in case one of those mighty, house-crushing whirlwinds arose.

Dorothy’s one real joy came from playing with Toto, her little black dog. Toto had long silky hair and small black eyes that twinkled merrily on either side of his funny little nose. Together they frittered away many an afternoon, frolicking among the haystacks in perpetual delight, far beneath the pellucid Kansas skies.

One day, while hunkered down to milk a mottled cow, Uncle Henry kept an anxious eye toward an increasingly ominous sky above. Suddenly seeing the long grass ripple before him, he froze. Now there came a sharp whistling from behind him, and as he turned his head he saw undulations in the grass in that direction also. The usually phlegmatic farmer bolted straight up in alert attention. “There’s a twister coming, Em,” he shouted to his wife. Ever solicitous of his livestock, he bolted toward the barn.

With uncommon alacrity, Aunt Em dropped her work and ran to the door. One glance at the lowering sky told her of the coming danger. “Quick, Dorothy!” she shrieked. “Run for the cyclone cellar!”

Galvanized into action by Aunt Em’s strident exhortation, Dorothy grabbed Toto and followed her aunt to the metal trap door that led to the sanctuary of the underground room. But just as she was about to enter, Toto jumped from her arms and scampered back into the house. After running this way and that, he found what seemed to be a safe haven—a spot under the center of Dorothy’s bed.

Not yet appreciating the full power of the storm, and despite her aunt’s hurried admonitions, Dorothy started back to retrieve the little dog from the house, which, framed against the eerie, electrified sky, lost its prosaic outlines and became mysterious and threatening. After she had taken only two steps, the tornado descended violently, decimating everything in sight. The wind, tearing past her at ninety miles an hour, seized a sharp-edged shingle from the roof and flung it downward through the air like a guillotine that missed Dorothy’s neck by mere inches.

Now the wind took hold of the girl and knocked her down. All around her, flying flowerpots, denuded branches, and pieces of fence smashed to bits as they struck the ground. She slowly raised herself to her feet, and, inclining her body sharply forward, set out again toward the house. But her flapping dress hobbled her as it clung to her legs at every step.

With her head down and arms stretched out before her, she stumbled on, feeling her way like a blind girl. After every few steps some unseen flying object appeared from the darkness and struck her. But when she screamed out in fear and pain, her own voice was

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