Tik-Tok of Oz
4. Betsy Braves the Billows
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.