Text - "The Scarecrow of Oz" Frank Baum

close and start typing
Not so very old, although his
hair was grizzled-what there was of it. Most of his head was bald as
an egg and as shiny as oilcloth, and this made his big ears stick out
in a funny way. His eyes had a gentle look and were pale blue in color,
and his round face was rugged and bronzed. Cap'n Bill's left leg was
missing, from the knee down, and that was why the sailor no longer
sailed the seas. The wooden leg he wore was good enough to stump around
with on land, or even to take Trot out for a row or a sail on the
ocean, but when it came to "runnin' up aloft" or performing active
duties on shipboard, the old sailor was not equal to the task. The loss
of his leg had ruined his career and the old sailor found comfort in
devoting himself to the education and companionship of the little girl.

The accident to Cap'n Bill's leg bad happened at about the time Trot
was born, and ever since that he had lived with Trot's mother as "a
star boarder," having enough money saved up to pay for his weekly
"keep." He loved the baby and often held her on his lap; her first
ride was on Cap'n Bill's shoulders, for she had no baby-carriage; and
when she began to toddle around, the child and the sailor became close
comrades and enjoyed many strange adventures together. It is said the
fairies had been present at Trot's birth and had marked her forehead
with their invisible mystic signs, so that she was able to see and do
many wonderful things.

The acacia tree was on top of a high bluff, but a path ran down the
bank in a zigzag way to the water's edge, where Cap'n Bill's boat was
moored to a rock by means of a stout cable. It had been a hot, sultry
afternoon, with scarcely a breath of air stirring, so Cap'n Bill and
Trot had been quietly sitting beneath the shade of the tree, waiting
for the sun to get low enough for them to take a row.

They had decided to visit one of the great caves which the waves had
washed out of the rocky coast during many years of steady effort. The
caves were a source of continual delight to both the girl and the
sailor, who loved to explore their awesome depths.

"I b'lieve, Cap'n," remarked Trot, at last, "that it's time for us to

The old man cast a shrewd glance at the sky, the sea and the motionless
boat. Then he shook his head.

"Mebbe it's time, Trot," he answered, "but I don't jes' like the looks
o' things this afternoon."

"What's wrong?" she asked wonderingly.

"Can't say as to that. Things is too quiet to suit me, that's all. No
breeze, not a ripple a-top the water, nary a gull a-flyin' anywhere,
an' the end o' the hottest day o' the year. I ain't no weather-prophet,
Trot, but any sailor would know the signs is ominous."

"There's nothing wrong that I can see," said Trot.

"If there was a cloud in the sky even as big as my thumb, we might
worry about it; but-look, Cap'n!-the sky is as clear as can be."

He looked again and nodded.

"P'r'aps we can make the cave, all right," he agreed, not wishing to
disappoint her. "It's only a little way out, an' we'll be on the
watch; so come along, Trot."

Together they descended the winding path to the beach. It was no
trouble for the girl to keep her footing on the steep way, but Cap'n
Bill, because of his wooden leg, had to hold on to rocks and roots now
and then to save himself from tumbling. On a level path he was as spry
as anyone, but to climb up hill or down required some care.

They reached the boat safely and while Trot was untying the rope Cap'n
Bill reached into a crevice of the rock and drew out several tallow
candles and a box of wax matches, which he thrust into the capacious
pockets of his "sou'wester." This sou'wester was a short coat of
oilskin which the old sailor wore on all occasions-when he wore a coat
at all-and the pockets always contained a variety of objects, useful
and ornamental, which made even Trot wonder where they all came from
and why Cap'n Bill should treasure them. The jackknives-a big one and
a little one-the bits of cord, the fishhooks, the nails: these were
handy to have on certain occasions. But bits of shell, and tin boxes
with unknown contents, buttons, pincers, bottles of curious stones and
the like, seemed quite unnecessary to carry around. That was Cap'n
Bill's business, however, and now that he added the candles and the
matches to his collection Trot made no comment, for she knew these last
were to light their way through the caves. The sailor always rowed the
boat, for he handled the oars with strength and skill. Trot sat in the
stern and steered. The place where they embarked was a little bight or
circular bay, and the boat cut across a much larger bay toward a
distant headland where the caves were located, right at the water's
edge. They were nearly a mile from shore and about halfway across the
bay when Trot suddenly sat up straight and exclaimed: "What's that,

He stopped rowing and turned half around to look.

"That, Trot," he slowly replied, "looks to me mighty like a whirlpool."

"What makes it, Cap'n?"

"A whirl in the air makes the whirl in the water. I was afraid as we'd
meet with trouble, Trot. Things didn't look right. The air was too

"It's coming closer," said the girl.

The old man grabbed the oars and began rowing with all his strength.

"Tain't comin' closer to us, Trot," he gasped; "it's we that are
comin' closer to the whirlpool. The thing is drawin' us to it like a

Trot's sun-bronzed face was a little paler as she grasped the tiller
firmly and tried to steer the boat away; but she said not a word to
indicate fear.

The swirl of the water as they came nearer made a roaring sound that
was fearful to listen to. So fierce and powerful was the whirlpool that
it drew the surface of the sea into the form of a great basin, slanting
downward toward the center, where a big hole had been made in the
ocean-a hole with walls of water that were kept in place by the rapid
whirling of the air.

The boat in which Trot and Cap'n Bill were riding was just on the outer
edge of this saucer-like slant, and the old sailor knew very well that
unless he could quickly force the little craft away from the rushing
current they would soon be drawn into the great black hole that yawned
in the middle. So he exerted all his might and pulled as he had never
pulled before. He pulled so hard that the left oar snapped in two and
sent Cap'n Bill sprawling upon the bottom of the boat.

He scrambled up quickly enough and glanced over the side. Then he
looked at Trot, who sat quite still, with a serious, far-away look in
her sweet eyes. The boat was now speeding swiftly of its own accord,
following the line of the circular basin round and round and gradually
drawing nearer to the great hole in the center. Any further effort to
escape the whirlpool was useless, and realizing this fact Cap'n Bill
turned toward Trot and put an arm around her, as if to shield her from
the awful fate before them. He did not try to speak, because the roar
of the waters would have drowned the sound of his voice.
These two faithful comrades had faced dangers before, but nothing to
equal that which now faced them. Yet Cap'n Bill, noting the look in
Trot's eyes and remembering how often she had been protected by unseen
powers, did not quite give way to despair.

The great hole in the dark water-now growing nearer and nearer-looked
very terrifying; but they were both brave enough to face it and await
the result of the adventure.