“I don’t think we ought to leave you and Phil alone on this island,” remonstrated Eleanor, “especially when you won’t have a boat. If anything should happen, there would be no chance of your getting away.”
“I’ll tell you what to do, Nellie,” suggested Phil. “Suppose you and Lillian go home and then send our boat over to us immediately. The farmer boy will bring it for us. He can tow it and then row back in his own skiff. Ask him to anchor our boat in this same place. Madge and I will come home as soon as we find out whether there is anything we can do for poor Mollie.”
Lillian and Eleanor were reluctant to leave their two friends. But there seemed nothing else to be done. The thought of their chaperon’s anxiety at last persuaded them to go, and they departed after promising to send the boat over immediately they reached the “Merry Maid.”
“What do you think we had better do, Phil?” asked Madge as the other two girls rowed out of sight.
Phil frowned and shook her head. “I haven’t the faintest idea, Madge; I am afraid we are too late to do anything. That dreadful Mike has already taken his daughter away. I believe she wrote us several days ago, when she first heard what they meant to do with her. But I can’t understand why her father wishes to put her in an asylum. She is much too useful to them. She does nearly all the washing and cooking on that miserable old shanty boat.”
“I do wish we had some money,” declared Madge thoughtfully. “I believe Mike would do anything for money. If we could only take care of Mollie, perhaps her father would let us have her. But you and I are as poor as church mice, Phil. Isn’t it horrid?”
“I don’t believe the man would give his daughter to us if we merely offered to take care of her. She is too useful to him. But he might let her come with us if we could pay him a great deal of money besides. At least, if we offered him a bribe he might be influenced to tell us where poor Mollie is. However, there is no use in talking about money. We’ll have to do the best we can without it,” finished Phil.
The two friends were walking disconsolately along the shore of the island. Neither one of them was anxious to return to the shanty boat for another interview with the slatternly woman who presided over it.
“Phil,” Madge’s eyes brightened, “if we need any money to help this girl, I feel sure Mrs. Curtis will be glad to give it to us. She is rich and generous, and Tom says she dearly loves to do things for those who are in need. I should not mind in the least asking her help. She is very fond of young girls.”
“She is very fond of you, at any rate,” returned Phyllis, with a smothered sigh. “Sometimes I feel as though she wanted to take you away from us for keeps.”
Madge laughed. “What nonsense, Phil. Why should she wish to take me away for ’keeps’?”