Produced by an anonymous Project volunteer.
Here is a short message from the author of Baartock:
This book is directed at children, up to about third
grade, though it should be read to them by an adult.
Baartock, by Lewis Roth (C)1989
by Lewis Roth
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 why he was sobbing, tears running down his cheeks. He had grown up in the forest, he was used to being alone, except for his parents. He wasn’t lost and he hadn’t run away from home, though he felt so ashamed he didn’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’t been anyone to scare. It was such a bad thing to happen to a troll on his first day.
Today was such an important day. Today was the very first day that Baartock was to go out scaring all by himself. He had stayed up late the night before and had gotten up early, so he would be all tired and cranky. He had gone out of the cave where he lived and rolled in the smelliest, nastiest mud he could find, so he would look his scariest. And he had practiced his screams and shrieks, until both his parents yelled 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 make fun of him. He missed and that made him even angrier. When he got to the 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 concrete pipe that went under the road for rain-water to go through. He wished that 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 to scare people. He crouched down to wait and listen.
He knew what he was listening for. The sound of someone walking down the road. Baartock had practiced at home, just the way his father had shown him. He would stand waiting, just out of sight. Then, when he heard something, he would run up the hill, roaring and
screaming. 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 of squirrels, a deer, two opossum, and a skunk. Baartock didn’t like to remember the skunk. They had scared each other.
To help pass the time, Baartock remembered of some of the stories that his father told. Stories about the famous trolls in his family, and how they had scared people. How his Great-great-uncle Sssssgnaarll had chased a whole village. He had come running down the side of the mountain and right into the village, yelling and screaming his loudest, and everybody had run away. And how wonderfully ugly his mother’s grandfather Munchch-Crunchch had been. So ugly, that just as soon as he looked up over the side of a bridge, people would faint right where they were standing. It was fun to think about things like that, while he was waiting.
He thought about the name he was going to earn for himself. Something really scary and wonderful. Baartock wasn’t his real name. That was just what his mother called him. His father would just
yell ‘kid’, and Baartock knew that meant him. That’s the way it is with trolls. But he wouldn’t get a name, a real troll name until he was twelve years old, and had scared lots of people. He wanted to earn a really scary name like Arrrggrr-Munch Slinurp, which was his father’s name.
He waited for a long time, but no one came. After a while, when he got tired, he ate his sandwiches. They were really good. His mother had put extra sand in them. Just as he finished his lunch, a bee stung him. That got him angry again, and he felt that he could scare anybody who came along. He settled down again to wait and listen. But he didn’t hear anything. He kept waiting. When he got tired of waiting down under the road in the culvert, he climbed up and hid in a bush by the side of the road. Baartock waited some more, but still nobody came walking down the road. The sun was right overhead. He was hot and tired and hungry and lots of things, but mostly unhappy. The longer he waited, the unhappier he got.
He was sitting by the side of the road, crying, when the car drove up and 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 shown him how to scare a car. He did hear the car door slam, when Mr. Fennis got out.
“What’s the matter?” Mr. Fennis didn’t know anything about trolls, but he knew about children. And what he saw was a very dirty little child sitting by the side of the road, crying. Mr. Fennis taught third grade and would have been at school, but this morning he had to go to the dentist. He was hurrying to get back to school. He didn’t want to miss more than half the day. The substitute teacher had been sick and Mrs. Jackson, the principal, was teaching his class. That was almost as 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 his crying 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 out was “scare.”
“You don’t have to be scared. I’ll try to help you. Do you know how to get home?”
Baartock nodded his head and sobbed some more. He hadn’t been able to scare 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 be talking mostly to himself. Then he asked “How old are you?”
“Seven,” answered Baartock.
“You should be in school today.”