Preview from The WINDMILL — pages 67-69
And so our little troop of investigators got up from our perch on the front steps. We made our way along the sidewalk, around the house, past the well shed, the chicken house, the vegetable garden, and the dinner bell post.
The windmill looked very tall as we approached it. The wheel with the wooden blades at the top was turning rapidly in the strong breeze. The hairs on my arms stood straight out.
When we had washed our hands at the base of the windmill earlier, I hadn't allowed myself to look at it directly. Now I did. I saw a very large concrete holding tank on the ground beside the wooden windmill structure. As we got closer, I realized that I could barely peep over the top edge to see that the tank was filled with water.
Ted explained, "This water is used for keeping all the animals alive during the summer when it's hot and dry. We have cows for milkin', cows for slaughterin' for food, plough horses and mules, plus two ridin' horses."
"Not to mention all the hogs and chickens we keep," Evelyn joined in. "And my Billy goat! "
"I didn't know you had a goat," I said. "I haven't seen him yet."
"I've had Billy for a pet ever since he was a cute little kid. Now he's a grown-up goat, but he's nice as can be. I have a goat cart, too, that’s all painted with flowers and designs. It has fringe around the top. Billy pulls me around the yard in it like I’m a princess. Maybe you'll have a chance to ride in it sometime." Her eyes sparkled with the thought.
"I'd like that," I agreed." Wouldn't you, Ed?"
"Hmmm? Oh, yes, I'd like that a lot," he said thoughtfully. He was looking up the ladder toward the platform that was perched at the top of the structure, just below the paddles of the windmill.
"Why are you staring up at the windmill?" I asked. I knew him well enough to know that look on his face. He was having a serious thought about something important.
"Well, it's probably just my imagination, but I keep thinkin’ I hear a sound comin’ from up there," he answered.
We were all silent for a moment, looking upward toward the whirling paddles . . . and listening.
"All I can hear is the paddles turning," Evelyn said, shaking her head.
"That's all I hear, too," agreed Ted.
We listened for a few moments longer, still staring upward. The fast-moving clouds in the sky beyond the windmill made me feel dizzy as I stared up at the rapidly turning blades.
"Wait a minute," I said. "Now I'm beginning to hear something different. What does it sound like, Ed?" I asked.
"I'm sure it's my imagination, but it sounds like a whimper," he whispered.
"Why, that's not possible," Ted said. "There's no way anybody could carry a big collie up this ladder and cram him onto that little platform."
"I’m sure you’re right, Ted," Edward nodded, still whispering, "but I’m just sayin,’ that's what it sounds like to me."
"That's what I thought, too, Ed, before you even said it," I agreed. Now I was speaking in a hushed voice as I stared up at the windmill. Suddenly it seemed like a circle of eyes were peering down at me from a formation in the clouds, compelling me to move forward, yet warning me. "It must be the power of suggestion, but I'm hearing it louder now."
"Me, too," Evelyn added, her eyes growing big with wonder.
Only Ted remained unaffected. As we stood there listening to the whirring sound of the windmill paddles, the whimper-like sound seemed to be growing louder and more distinct.
Ted's eyes grew big, now, as the sound rose in volume. We all stared toward the platform at the top. The wind was getting stronger as another dark cloud was moving in, threatening more rain. The paddles spun faster and faster.
In spite of the earlier warnings about not climbing the windmill, it seemed as if we had been caught in a spell. Edward was the first to begin to climb, slowly, slowly, ever so slowly.
Without saying a word, Ted followed. I was next to climb behind Ted, never taking my eyes off the whirling blades. Without looking back, I knew Evelyn was also climbing the dangerous ladder.
As we slowly inched our way upward, the whimpering sound grew stronger. It seemed to be beckoning us to the top of the windmill. Step by step we climbed, clinging tightly to the metal handles of the ladder. The sound grew louder as the wind blew even harder. The blades of the windmill were just a blur, like the circle of faces I had seen last night, spinning out of control.
As we stepped onto the platform at the top, a huge gust of wind swept across. Whoosh! The entire windmill shuddered.
“Hold on!” yelled Ted, reaching out to grab onto us. We clutched each other to keep from falling, but it was too late.
The four of us were swept backwards off the platform, as if we were one, and down we fell. Down, down, down toward the holding tank of water.
There wasn't time to do anything but think, "We'll all be killed!" Then we hit the water!