FictionForest

Chapter 4 – Daylight at Last

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

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Cap’n Bill rubbed his eyes, lit a match and consulted
his watch.

“Nine o’clock. Yes, I guess it’s another day, sure
enough. Shall we go on?” he asked.

“Of course,” replied the Ork. “Unless this tunnel
is different from everything else in the world, and
has no end, we’ll find a way out of it sooner or later.”

The sailor gently wakened Trot. She felt much rested
by her long sleep and sprang to her feet eagerly.

“Let’s start, Cap’n,” was all she said.

They resumed the journey and had only taken a
few steps when the Ork cried “Wow!” and made a
great fluttering of its wings and whirling of its tail.
The others, who were following a short distance
behind, stopped abruptly.

“What’s the matter?” asked Cap’n Bill.

“Give us a light,” was the reply. “I think we’ve come
to the end of the tunnel.” Then, while Cap’n Bill
lighted a candle, the creature added: “If that is true,
we needn’t have wakened so soon, for we were almost at
the end of this place when we went to sleep.”

The sailor-man and Trot came forward with a light. A
wall of rock really faced the tunnel, but now they saw
that the opening made a sharp turn to the left. So they
followed on, by a narrower passage, and then made
another sharp turn this time to the right.

“Blow out the light, Cap’n,” said the Ork, in a
pleased voice. “We’ve struck daylight.”

Daylight at last! A shaft of mellow light fell almost
at their feet as Trot and the sailor turned the corner
of the passage, but it came from above, and raising
their eyes they found they were at the bottom of a
deep, rocky well, with the top far, far above their
heads. And here the passage ended.

For a while they gazed in silence, at least two of
them being filled with dismay at the sight. But the Ork
merely whistled softly and said cheerfully:

“That was the toughest journey I ever had the
misfortune to undertake, and I’m glad it’s over. Yet,
unless I can manage to fly to the top of this pit, we
are entombed here forever.”

“Do you think there is room enough for you to fly
in?” asked the little girl anxiously; and Cap’n Bill
added:

“It’s a straight-up shaft, so I don’t see how you’ll
ever manage it.”

“Were I an ordinary bird — one of those horrid
feathered things — I wouldn’t even make the attempt to
fly out,” said the Ork. “But my mechanical propeller
tail can accomplish wonders, and whenever you’re ready
I’ll show you a trick that is worth while.”

“Oh!” exclaimed Trot; “do you intend to take us up,
too?”

“Why not?”

“I thought,” said Cap’n Bill, “as you’d go first, an’
then send somebody to help us by lettin’ down a rope.”

“Ropes are dangerous,” replied the Ork, “and I might
not be able to find one to reach all this distance.
Besides, it stands to reason that if I can get out
myself I can also carry you two with me.”

“Well, I’m not afraid,” said Trot, who longed to be
on the earth’s surface again.

“S’pose we fall?” suggested Cap’n Bill, doubtfully.

“Why, in that case we would all fall together,”
returned the Ork. “Get aboard, little girl; sit across
my shoulders and put both your arms around my neck.”

Trot obeyed and when she was seated on the Ork,
Cap’n Bill inquired:

“How ’bout me, Mr. Ork?”

“Why, I think you’d best grab hold of my rear
legs and let me carry you up in that manner,” was
the reply.

Cap’n Bill looked way up at the top of the well, and
then he looked at the Ork’s slender, skinny legs and
heaved a deep sigh.

“It’s goin’ to be some dangle, I guess; but if you
don’t waste too much time on the way up, I may be able
to hang on,” said he.

“All ready, then!” cried the Ork, and at once his
whirling tail began to revolve. Trot felt herself
rising into the air; when the creature’s legs left the
ground Cap’n Bill grasped two of them firmly and held
on for dear life. The Ork’s body was tipped straight
upward, and Trot had to embrace the neck very tightly
to keep from sliding off. Even in this position the Ork
had trouble in escaping the rough sides of the well.
Several times it exclaimed “Wow!” as it bumped its
back, or a wing hit against some jagged projection; but
the tail kept whirling with remarkable swiftness and
the daylight grew brighter and brighter. It was,
indeed, a long journey from the bottom to the top, yet
almost before Trot realized they had come so far, they
popped out of the hole into the clear air and sunshine
and a moment later the Ork alighted gently upon the
ground.

The release was so sudden that even with the
creature’s care for its passengers Cap’n Bill struck
the earth with a shock that sent him rolling heel over
head; but by the time Trot had slid down from her seat
the old sailor-man was sitting up and looking around
him with much satisfaction.

“It’s sort o’ pretty here,” said he.

“Earth is a beautiful place!” cried Trot.

“I wonder where on earth we are?” pondered the Ork,
turning first one bright eye and then the other to this
side and that. Trees there were, in plenty, and shrubs
and flowers and green turf. But there were no houses;
there were no paths; there was no sign of civilization
whatever.

“Just before I settled down on the ground I thought I
caught a view of the ocean,” said the Ork. “Let’s see
if I was right.” Then he flew to a little hill, near
by, and Trot and Cap’n Bill followed him more slowly.
When they stood on the top of the hill they could see
the blue waves of the ocean in front of them, to the
right of them, and at the left of them. Behind the
hill was a forest that shut out the view.

“I hope it ain’t an island, Trot,” said Cap’n Bill
gravely.

“If it is, I s’pose we’re prisoners,” she replied.

“Ezzackly so, Trot.”

“But, ‘even so, it’s better than those terr’ble
underground tunnels and caverns,” declared the girl.

“You are right, little one,” agreed the Ork.
“Anything above ground is better than the best that
lies under ground. So let’s not quarrel with our fate
but be thankful we’ve escaped.”

“We are, indeed!” she replied. “But I wonder if
we can find something to eat in this place?”

“Let’s explore an’ find out,” proposed Cap’n Bill.
“Those trees over at the left look like cherry-trees.”

On the way to them the explorers had to walk
through a tangle of vines and Cap’n Bill, who went
first, stumbled and pitched forward on his face.

“Why, it’s a melon!” cried Trot delightedly, as
she saw what had caused the sailor to fall.

Cap’n Bill rose to his foot, for he was not at all
hurt, and examined the melon. Then he took his big
jackknife from his pocket and cut the melon open. It
was quite ripe and looked delicious; but the old man
tasted it before he permitted Trot to eat any. Deciding
it was good he gave her a big slice and then offered
the Ork some. The creature looked at the fruit somewhat
disdainfully, at first, but once he had tasted its
flavor he ate of it as heartily as did the others.
Among the vines they discovered many other melons, and
Trot said gratefully: “Well, there’s no danger of our
starving, even if this is an island.”

“Melons,” remarked Cap’n Bill, “are both food an’
water. We couldn’t have struck anything better.”

Farther on they came to the cherry trees, where they
obtained some of the fruit, and at the edge of the
little forest were wild plums. The forest itself
consisted entirely of nut trees — walnuts, filberts,
almonds and chestnuts — so there would be plenty of
wholesome food for them while they remained there.

Cap’n Bill and Trot decided to walk through the
forest, to discover what was on the other side of it,
but the Ork’s feet were still so sore and “lumpy” from
walking on the rocks that the creature said he
preferred to fly over the tree-tops and meet them on
the other side. The forest was not large, so by walking
briskly for fifteen minutes they reached its farthest
edge and saw before them the shore of the ocean.

“It’s an island, all right,” said Trot, with a sigh.

“Yes, and a pretty island, too,” said Cap’n Bill,
trying to conceal his disappointment on Trot’s account.
“I guess, partner, if the wuss comes to the wuss, I
could build a raft — or even a boat — from those
trees, so’s we could sail away in it.”

The little girl brightened at this suggestion.
“I don’t see the Ork anywhere,” she remarked, looking
around. Then her eyes lighted upon something and she
exclaimed: “Oh, Cap’n Bill! Isn’t that a house, over
there to the left?”

Cap’n Bill, looking closely, saw a shed-like structure
built at one edge of the forest.

“Seems like it, Trot. Not that I’d call it much of a
house, but it’s a buildin’, all right. Let’s go over
an’ see if it’s occypied.”

 

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