FictionForest

Chapter 4 – Betsy Braves the Billows

L. Frank BaumOct 04, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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The waves dashed and the lightning flashed and the
thunder rolled and the ship struck a rock. Betsy
Bobbin was running across the deck and the shock
sent her flying through the air until she fell
with a splash into the dark blue water. The same
shock caught Hank, a thin little, sad-faced mule,
and tumbled him also into the sea, far from the
ship’s side.

When Betsy came up, gasping for breath because
the wet plunge had surprised her, she reached out
in the dark and grabbed a bunch of hair. At first
she thought it was the end of a rope, but
presently she heard a dismal “Hee-haw!” and knew
she was holding fast to the end of Hank’s tail.

Suddenly the sea was lighted up by a vivid
glare. The ship, now in the far distance, caught
fire, blew up and sank beneath the waves.

Betsy shuddered at the sight, but just then
her eye caught a mass of wreckage floating near
her and she let go the mule’s tail and seized the
rude raft, pulling herself up so that she rode
upon it in safety. Hank also saw the raft and
swam to it, but he was so clumsy he never would
have been able to climb upon it had not Betsy
helped him to get aboard.

They had to crowd close together, for their
support was only a hatch-cover torn from the
ship’s deck; but it floated them fairly well and
both the girl and the mule knew it would keep
them from drowning.

The storm was not over, by any means, when the
ship went down. Blinding bolts of lightning shot
from cloud to cloud and the clamor of deep
thunderclaps echoed far over the sea. The waves
tossed the little raft here and there as a child
tosses a rubber ball and Betsy had a solemn
feeling that for hundreds of watery miles in every
direction there was no living thing besides
herself and the small donkey.

Perhaps Hank had the same thought, for he gently
rubbed his nose against the frightened girl and
said “Hee-haw!” in his softest voice, as if to
comfort her.

“You’ll protect me, Hank dear, won’t you?” she
cried helplessly, and the mule said “Hee-haw!”
again, in tones that meant a promise.

On board the ship, during the days that preceded
the wreck, when the sea was calm, Betsy and Hank
had become good friends; so, while the girl might
have preferred a more powerful protector in this
dreadful emergency, she felt that the mule would
do all in a mule’s power to guard her safety.

All night they floated, and when the storm had
worn itself out and passed away with a few distant
growls, and the waves had grown smaller and easier
to ride, Betsy stretched herself out on the wet
raft and fell asleep.

Hank did not sleep a wink. Perhaps he felt it
his duty to guard Betsy. Anyhow, he crouched
on the raft beside the tired sleeping girl and
watched patiently until the first light of dawn
swept over the sea.

The light wakened Betsy Bobbin. She sat up,
rubbed her eyes and stared across the water.

“Oh, Hank; there’s land ahead!” she exclaimed.

“Hee-haw!” answered Hank in his plaintive voice.

The raft was floating swiftly toward a very
beautiful country and as they drew near Betsy
could see banks of lovely flowers showing brightly
between leafy trees. But no people were to be seen
at all.

 

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