Sky Island

Page 09

"When I were younger--which is ancient history--an' afore I had a wooden leg, I could climb a ship's ropes with the best of 'em, an' walk out on a boom or stand atop a mast. So you know very well I ain't skeered about the highupness."

"Why can't we all go together?" asked the boy. "Make another seat, Cap'n, and swing it right under ours. Then we can all three ride anywhere we want to go."

"Yes, do!" exclaimed Trot. "And see here, Cap'n, let's take a day off and have a picnic. Mother is a little cross today, and she wants to finish knitting your new stockin', so I guess she'll be glad to get rid of us."

"Where'll we go?" he asked, shifting on his wooden leg uneasily.

"Anywhere. I don't care. There'll be the air-ride there an' the air-ride back, an' that's the main thing with ME. If you say we'll go, Cap'n, I'll run in an' pack a basket of lunch."

"How'll we carry it?"

"Swing it to the bottom of your seat."

The old sailor stood silent a moment. He really longed to take the air-ride but was fearful of danger. However, Trot had gone safely to town and back and had greatly enjoyed the experience. "All right," he said. "I'll risk it, mate, although I guess I'm an old fool for temptin' fate by tryin' to make a bird o' myself. Get the lunch, Trot, if your mother'll let you have it, and I'll rig up the seat."

He went into the shed and Trot went to her mother. Mrs. Griffith, busy with her work, knew nothing of what was going on in regard to the flight of the Magic Umbrella. She never objected when Trot wanted to go away with Cap'n Bill for a day's picnicking. She knew the child was perfectly safe with the old sailor, who cared for Trot even better than her mother would have done. If she had asked any questions today and had found out they intended to fly in the air, she might have seriously objected, but Mrs. Griffith had her mind on other things and merely told the girl to take what she wanted from the cupboard and not bother her. So Trot, remembering that Button-Bright would be with them and had proved himself to be a hearty eater, loaded the basket with all the good things she could find.

By the time she came out, lugging the basket with both hands, Cap'n Bill appeared with the new seat he had made for his own use, which he attached by means of ropes to the double seat of the boy and girl. "Now then, where'll we go?" asked Trot.

"Anywhere suits me," replied Cap'n Bill. They had walked to the high bluff overlooking the sea, where a gigantic acacia tree stood on the very edge. A seat had been built around the trunk of the tree, for this was a favorite spot for Trot and Cap'n Bill to sit and talk and watch the fleet of fishing boats sail to and from the village. When they came to this tree, Trot was still trying to think of the most pleasant place to picnic. She and Cap'n Bill had been every place that was desirable and nearby, but today they didn't want a nearby spot. They must decide upon one far enough away to afford them a fine trip through the air. Looking far out over the Pacific, the girl's eyes fell upon a dim island lying on the horizon line just where the sky and water seemed to meet, and the sight gave her an idea.

"Oh, Cap'n Bill!" she exclaimed. "Let's go to that island for our picnic. We've never been there yet, you know."

The sailor shook his head. "It's a good many miles away, Trot," he said, "further than it looks to be from here."

"That won't matter," remarked Button-Bright. "The umbrella will carry us there in no time."

"Let's go!" repeated Trot. "We'll never have another such chance, Cap'n. It's too far to sail or row, and I've always wanted to visit that island."

"What's the name of it?" inquired Button-Bright while the sailor hesitated to decide.

"Oh, it's got an awful hard name to pernounce," replied the girl, "so Cap'n Bill and I jus' call it 'Sky Island' 'cause it looks as if it was half in the sky. We've been told it's a very pretty island, and a few people live there and keep cows and goats and fish for a living.

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