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The Scarecrow of Oz

The Scarecrow of Oz

Lyman Frank Baum

Update: 2020-04-22

Chapter 1 The Great Whirlpool

  • "Seems to me," said Cap'n Bill, as he sat beside Trot under the big acaci_ree, looking out over the blue ocean, "seems to me, Trot, as how the more w_now, the more we find we don't know."
  • "I can't quite make that out, Cap'n Bill," answered the little girl in _erious voice, after a moment's thought, during which her eyes followed thos_f the old sailor-man across the glassy surface of the sea. "Seems to me tha_ll we learn is jus' so much gained."
  • "I know; it looks that way at first sight," said the sailor, nodding his head;
  • "but those as knows the least have a habit of thinkin' they know all there i_o know, while them as knows the most admits what a turr'ble big world thi_s. It's the knowing ones that realize one lifetime ain't long enough to gi_ore'n a few dips o' the oars of knowledge."
  • Trot didn't answer. She was a very little girl, with big, solemn eyes and a_arnest, simple manner. Cap'n Bill had been her faithful companion for year_nd had taught her almost everything she knew.
  • He was a wonderful man, this Cap'n Bill. Not so very old, although his hai_as grizzled — what there was of it. Most of his head was bald as an egg an_s shiny as oilcloth, and this made his big ears stick out in a funny way. Hi_yes had a gentle look and were pale blue in color, and his round face wa_ugged and bronzed. Cap'n Bill's left leg was missing, from the knee down, an_hat was why the sailor no longer sailed the seas. The wooden leg he wore wa_ood enough to stump around with on land, or even to take Trot out for a ro_r a sail on the ocean, but when it came to "runnin' up aloft" or performin_ctive duties on shipboard, the old sailor was not equal to the task. The los_f his leg had ruined his career and the old sailor found comfort in devotin_imself 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 bab_nd 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 chil_nd the sailor became close comrades and enjoyed many strange adventure_ogether. It is said the fairies had been present at Trot's birth and ha_arked her forehead with their invisible mystic signs, so that she was able t_ee and do many wonderful things.
  • The acacia tree was on top of a high bluff, but a path ran down the bank in _igzag way to the water's edge, where Cap'n Bill's boat was moored to a roc_y means of a stout cable. It had been a hot, sultry afternoon, with scarcel_ breath of air stirring, so Cap'n Bill and Trot had been quietly sittin_eneath the shade of the tree, waiting for the sun to get low enough for the_o take a row.
  • They had decided to visit one of the great caves which the waves had washe_ut of the rocky coast during many years of steady effort. The caves were _ource of continual delight to both the girl and the sailor, who loved t_xplore their awesome depths.
  • "I b'lieve, Cap'n," remarked Trot, at last, "that it's time for us to start."
  • 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 sailo_ould 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 abou_t; 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 t_isappoint her. "It's only a little way out, an' we'll be on the watch; s_ome along, Trot."
  • Together they descended the winding path to the beach. It was no trouble fo_he girl to keep her footing on the steep way, but Cap'n Bill, because of hi_ooden leg, had to hold on to rocks and roots now and then to save himsel_rom tumbling. On a level path he was as spry as anyone, but to climb up hil_r down required some care.
  • They reached the boat safely and while Trot was untying the rope Cap'n Bil_eached into a crevice of the rock and drew out several tallow candles and _ox 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 sailo_ore on all occasions — when he wore a coat at all — and the pockets alway_ontained a variety of objects, useful and ornamental, which made even Tro_onder where they all came from and why Cap'n Bill should treasure them. Th_ackknives — a big one and a little one — the bits of cord, the fishhooks, th_ails: these were handy to have on certain occasions. But bits of shell, an_in boxes with unknown contents, buttons, pincers, bottles of curious stone_nd the like, seemed quite unnecessary to carry around. That was Cap'n Bill'_usiness, however, and now that he added the candles and the matches to hi_ollection Trot made no comment, for she knew these last were to light thei_ay through the caves. The sailor always rowed the boat, for he handled th_ars with strength and skill. Trot sat in the stern and steered. The plac_here they embarked was a little bight or circular bay, and the boat cu_cross a much larger bay toward a distant headland where the caves wer_ocated, right at the water's edge. They were nearly a mile from shore an_bout halfway across the bay when Trot suddenly sat up straight and exclaimed:
  • "What's that, Cap'n?"
  • 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 mee_ith trouble, Trot. Things didn't look right. The air was too still."
  • "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 magnet!"
  • Trot's sun-bronzed face was a little paler as she grasped the tiller firml_nd 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 wa_earful to listen to. So fierce and powerful was the whirlpool that it dre_he surface of the sea into the form of a great basin, slanting downwar_oward the center, where a big hole had been made in the ocean — a hole wit_alls 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 edg_f this saucer-like slant, and the old sailor knew very well that unless h_ould quickly force the little craft away from the rushing current they woul_oon be drawn into the great black hole that yawned in the middle. So h_xerted all his might and pulled as he had never pulled before. He pulled s_ard that the left oar snapped in two and sent Cap'n Bill sprawling upon th_ottom of the boat.
  • He scrambled up quickly enough and glanced over the side. Then he looked a_rot, 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 th_ircular basin round and round and gradually drawing nearer to the great hol_n the center. Any further effort to escape the whirlpool was useless, an_ealizing 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 equa_hat which now faced them. Yet Cap'n Bill, noting the look in Trot's eyes an_emembering how often she had been protected by unseen powers, did not quit_ive way to despair.
  • The great hole in the dark water — now growing nearer and nearer — looked ver_errifying; but they were both brave enough to face it and await the result o_he adventure.