Earthquake in the Early Morning
Jack opened his mouth to call to her. But dust filled his throat.
âJack!â Between coughs, Annie shouted his name. âJack!â
âIâm here!â he said hoarsely.
âI think Iâm in trouble,â she said.
Jack tried to sit up. He hurt all over. Hisclothes were ripped and covered with dirt. His cap was gone.
you?â he called.
âHere!â said Annie.
Jack started to stand. But he fell down again. His legs were like rubber.
âWh-where?â he repeated. Jack cleaned his glasses, then looked around. But he still couldnât see Annie through the thick haze of dust.
âI fell into the ground!â said Annie.
Jack crawled in the direction of Annieâs voice.
âKeep talking,â he said.
Jack felt a ledge with his hands. He looked down into a huge crack in the street. Through the dust, he could see Annie right below him.
âYou found me!â she said between coughs.
âIâll pull you out,â said Jack.
He grabbed Annieâs hands. He tried to pull her out of the crack, but she was too heavy.
âI canât do it,â he said.
âBring me something to stand on,â Annie said. âMaybe I can get out by myself.â
Jack stood up and stumbled away from the crack. He gathered an armload of bricks. Then he went back to the crack and handed them down to Annie, one by one.
Annie carefully stacked the bricks on top of each other.
âI need more,â she said.
Jack ran to get more bricks. He was afraid thereâd be another earthquake and the crack would closeâwith Annie inside!
He handed the bricks down to her.
âHurry!â he said.
âIâm hurrying,â she said.
At last, Annie finished stacking the bricks. She stood on the stack. With her bare hands, she slowly pulled herself up.
Jack helped her stand. She was covered with dirt. Her stockings were torn. Her knees were skinned.
âAre you hurt?â Jack asked.
âA little scraped,â said Annie. âHow about you?â
âA little shaky,â said Jack. Actually, he was
âMe too,â said Annie.
âI think San Francisco just had a really huge earthquake,â Jack said. He coughed. His throat was clogged with dust.
Annie coughed, too.
âWhatâs the book say?â she said.
Jack pulled his research book out of his leather bag. His hands were trembling. He could hardly turn the pages.
âIâll find it,â said Annie. She took the bookfrom him and found a picture of a torn-up street.
She read aloud:
At 5:13 A.M. on April 18, 1906, the people of San Francisco were shaken awake by one of the biggest earthquakes the United States has ever known. Some called it âthe Great Shake.â
âNo wonder we feel shaky,â said Jack.
âI wonder if a lot of people got hurt,â said Annie.
They looked around. Through the dust-filled air, families were stumbling out of their crumbling houses. They all were barefoot and still wore their nightclothes.
Some babies and small children were crying. But strangely, the grown-ups were allsilent. They just stared at the torn-up street and crumbling houses.
âEveryone must be in shock,â said Annie.
âI know how they feel,â said Jack. He gazed at the rubble all around them. He didnât know what to do. He couldnât think clearly.
Annie looked at the book again. She read aloud:
Just after the earthquake, broken chimneys, stoves, and lamps caused terrible fires. The fires raged for three days, nearly destroying all of San Francisco. Over 28,000 buildings burned down.
âThatâs terrible,â breathed Jack.
In the distance, a cloud of black smoke was rolling through the sky.
âThe fires are starting!â said Annie.
âMaybe we should leave,â Jack said in a panic. He wanted to get out of San Francisco before the fires spread.
âWe canât,â said Annie. âWe have to find our special writing for Morganâs library,
something to lend
âLetâs find it fast,â said Jack.
He and Annie started walking through the rubble. They stepped over piles of bricks, chunks of concrete, and broken glass.
They passed fallen lamps and twisted trolley-car tracks.
They saw houses leaning to one side and people hauling their things out to the street.
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