The girls rowed over to the island in a short time. It was a lovely day, and not too warm on the water.
“I wonder, Phil, if there is a chance of our coming across the thief who attacked you on the houseboat? He may he in hiding on this island,” said Madge as the four girls pulled their skiff up on the beach. “From your description I feel almost certain that he is the same boy who went off with our sailboat. I’d like to come across him again.”
“Well, I wouldn’t,” declared Lillian. “I am not so bloodthirsty as you girls are.”
The girls met no one along the beach, except a few children. Phil led them straight to the tent, where she had talked with the afflicted girl. “Of course, there isn’t much of a chance that we shall find Mollie in the tent,” explained Phil, “but I thought I would look here first.”
“Do you know the girl’s name, Phil?” queried Eleanor.
Phyllis shook her head. “Not her real name. I only call her Mollie because her dreadful old father called her ‘Moll,’ and ‘Moll’ is an ugly name.”
The tent was more forlorn and dilapidated than ever. It was empty. There was not a sign of life anywhere about, except for a few faded wild flowers cast carelessly in the corner of the tent.
Madge picked them up. “These flowers make me think of poor ‘Ophelia’ in the play of ‘Hamlet.’ Ophelia went mad, you know, and wandered about with wild flowers in her hair.”
“Mollie isn’t the least bit crazy, Madge. You will understand that as soon as you see her,” protested Phil. “It is only that she is like a child, and does not remember things. Would you girls mind going around to the other side of the island? Mollie said their shanty boat was over there. I do so want to find her.”
Lillian hesitated. “I don’t think we ought to go among those rough fishermen again,” she protested. “We are sure to see some rude sailors over there who might speak to us.”
“Oh, don’t worry, Lillian,” reassured Madge. “I am sure no one would dare say anything to us.”
Madge was now deeply interested in the discovery of Phil’s friend and longing for any kind of adventure. She had fully made up her mind to see Mollie if it were possible.
It was more than a mile walk around the island. But the girls came, at last, to a spot where they again beheld a dirty canal boat made fast to a tree on the sandy shore. A huge woman, with a coarse, dreadful face, sat out on deck holding a baby in her lap. Several small children played near her. But there was no sign of Mollie. Captain Mike was gone, and with him his sailboat.
Phil went as near the edge of the shore as she could. The woman gazed at the four chums with sullen curiosity. She presumed that they had come to ask her husband to take them out sailing. But Phil spoke up boldly: “May we see your daughter?” she inquired politely. “I met her the other day on the island and told her we would come to see her.”