Baartock, p.1
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       Baartock, p.1
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           Laura Dent Crane
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  Here is a short message from the author of Baartock:

  This book is directed at children, up to about third grade, though itshould be read to them by an adult.

  Baartock, by Lewis Roth (C)1989


  by Lewis Roth

  Chapter 1

  Baartock was sitting by the side of the old two lane country road,crying. Seven years old and all alone for hours, but that wasn't whyhe was sobbing, tears running down his cheeks. He had grown up in theforest, he was used to being alone, except for his parents. He wasn'tlost and he hadn't run away from home, though he felt so ashamed hedidn't want to go home. It had been a bad day, a terrible day.Baartock had been waiting all day to scare someone, but there hadn'tbeen anyone to scare. It was such a bad thing to happen to a troll onhis first day.

  Today was such an important day. Today was the very first day thatBaartock was to go out scaring all by himself. He had stayed up latethe night before and had gotten up early, so he would be all tired andcranky. He had gone out of the cave where he lived and rolled in thesmelliest, nastiest mud he could find, so he would look his scariest.And he had practiced his screams and shrieks, until both his parentsyelled at him to shut-up and to go scare somebody. He had set out,going down the old dry stream-bed, just like his father had told him.On the way, he fell down and cut his knee, which made him really angry.He threw a rock at a bird that was singing in the trees, trying to makefun of him. He missed and that made him even angrier. When he got tothe road and looked both ways, he crossed it and hid in the culvert.Then he waited and listened.

  The culvert wasn't much of a bridge. It was just a big, old concretepipe that went under the road for rain-water to go through. He wishedthat it was a bridge, any kind of bridge at all. Even a wooden bridge,but a real bridge that he could hide under and come rushing out toscare people. He crouched down to wait and listen.

  He knew what he was listening for. The sound of someone walking downthe road. Baartock had practiced at home, just the way his father hadshown him. He would stand waiting, just out of sight. Then, when he heard something, he would run up the hill, roaring andscreaming. The practice had all gone so well. When he did it at home,he never had to wait long to hear something. He had scared lots ofsquirrels, a deer, two opossum, and a skunk. Baartock didn't like toremember the skunk. They had scared each other.

  To help pass the time, Baartock remembered of some of the stories thathis father told. Stories about the famous trolls in his family, andhow they had scared people. How his Great-great-uncle Sssssgnaarll hadchased a whole village. He had come running down the side of themountain and right into the village, yelling and screaming his loudest,and everybody had run away. And how wonderfully ugly his mother'sgrandfather Munchch-Crunchch had been. So ugly, that just as soon as helooked up over the side of a bridge, people would faint right wherethey were standing. It was fun to think about things like that, whilehe was waiting.

  He thought about the name he was going to earn for himself. Somethingreally scary and wonderful. Baartock wasn't his real name. That was just what his mother called him. His father would justyell 'kid', and Baartock knew that meant him. That's the way it iswith trolls. But he wouldn't get a name, a real troll name until hewas twelve years old, and had scared lots of people. He wanted to earna really scary name like Arrrggrr-Munch Slinurp, which was his father'sname.

  He waited for a long time, but no one came. After a while, when he gottired, he ate his sandwiches. They were really good. His mother hadput extra sand in them. Just as he finished his lunch, a bee stunghim. That got him angry again, and he felt that he could scare anybodywho came along. He settled down again to wait and listen. But hedidn't hear anything. He kept waiting. When he got tired of waitingdown under the road in the culvert, he climbed up and hid in a bush bythe side of the road. Baartock waited some more, but still nobody camewalking down the road. The sun was right overhead. He was hot andtired and hungry and lots of things, but mostly unhappy. The longer hewaited, the unhappier he got.

  He was sitting by the side of the road, crying, when the car drove upand stopped near him. He was sobbing so hard that he didn't hear it.It wouldn't have mattered if he had heard it. His father hadn't shownhim how to scare a car. He did hear the car door slam, when Mr. Fennisgot out.

  "What's the matter?" Mr. Fennis didn't know anything about trolls, buthe knew about children. And what he saw was a very dirty little childsitting by the side of the road, crying. Mr. Fennis taught third gradeand would have been at school, but this morning he had to go to thedentist. He was hurrying to get back to school. He didn't want tomiss more than half the day. The substitute teacher had been sick andMrs. Jackson, the principal, was teaching his class. That was almostas bad as the pain in his mouth.

  As soon as Baartock saw Mr. Fennis, he knew what he was supposed to do.If he hadn't been sobbing so hard, he might have been able to scare him.

  "Ahgrr," Baartock started to yell, but it got all mixed up with hiscrying and didn't come out scary at all.

  "What's the matter?" Mr. Fennis asked again. "Are you hurt?"

  Baartock could only shake his head.

  "Are you lost? What's wrong?"

  Baartock tried to say, "I'm trying to scare you," but all that came outwas "scare."

  "You don't have to be scared. I'll try to help you. Do you know how toget home?"

  Baartock nodded his head and sobbed some more. He hadn't been able toscare this person. Now they were even talking. Oh, this was awful.

  "Let me take you home," said Mr. Fennis. "Which way do you live?"

  Baartock pointed up the hill. "I don't think anyone lives up there.You must live in the old Howard place." Mr. Fennis seemed to betalking mostly to himself. Then he asked "How old are you?"

  "Seven," answered Baartock.

  "You should be in school today."

  "No school." Baartock didn't know what school was, but he didn't thinkhe should be there. "Father said 'wait here'. I came early today, butnobody came."

  "You've been waiting for a school bus all this time?" Mr. Fennis knewwhat the trouble was now. The poor kid. Missed the bus, and he's beensitting here ever since. No wonder he was crying. Though he could havegone back home and gotten cleaned up. I'd better take him home andexplain things to his mother.

  "What's your name?"

  "Don't have name," Baartock was feeling a little better. Just sobbingevery now and then.

  "Well then, what can I call you?" asked Mr. Fennis. After all, he wasa teacher and he knew how to get an answer.

  "Baartock. Mother calls me Baartock."

  "All right, Baartock. You can call me, Mr. Fennis. I teach thirdgrade at the school where you should be today. I'm going to take youhome." Then he had a thought. No point in driving back to the oldHoward house if no one would be there. So many mothers had jobs.Besides, he was in a hurry to get back to school. "Is your mother homenow?" he asked.

  "No." Baartock knew that his mother would be out gathering poison ivyand catching lizards for dinner.

  "Well, Baartock. You should be in school and I'm going there. You canride there with me and come home on the school bus." Taking Baartock'shand, they walked to the car.

  For some trollish reason, Baartock's mother hadn't told him not to talkwith strangers, or not to go anywhere with them. Maybe it was becauseshe didn't think that he would ever get the chance. But, Baartock knewthat he was supposed to be scaring someone, not talking to them. Orgoing in a car with them.

  Because he had stayed up in the woods until today, Baartock had neverseen a car. He didn't know a car was, or what it looked like. Hecertainly had never ridden in one, but he liked this thing they gotinto. Mr. Fennis was neat about most things, but his car was
a mess.The paint was scratched, one of the fenders was dented, and on thefloor were some paper coffee cups and soda cans. On the back seat wereseven over-due library books, an overflowing litter bag, a couple ofcans of oil, which should have been in the trunk, and some plastictubing for a science project. To Baartock, it looked just like home.He was busy looking around when Mr. Fennis started the engine and beganto drive off. Then Baartock went wild and really did scare Mr. Fennis.

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