Mike drew his boat close along the flight of steps that led to the top of the pier.
“Jump off, quick!” he called sharply.
It was night. Neither Madge nor Phyllis had the faintest idea of the hour. Neither one of them knew in what place they were being cast ashore, nor had they a cent of money between them. But anything was better than to remain longer on the sailboat.
With a defiant glance at the scowling man Madge climbed out on the steps of the pier. She gave her hand to Phyllis, who leaped after her.
Captain Mike watched them walk up the steps to the top of the pier. Then, turning his boat about, he sailed away, leaving the two girls to the darkness of an unknown shore.
FINDING A WAY TO HELP MOLLIE
Girls do not keep silent long, no matter how grave the situation. The two castaways were no exception.
Madge shook her clenched fist after the retreating mast of the sail boat. “You horrid, horrid old man!” she cried. “We won’t give up trying to save poor Mollie, no matter what you do to us. Come on, Phil,” she said, taking Phyllis by the hand, “let us go up to the shore and ask some one where we are. I suppose nobody will believe our story, because it seems so improbable, but perhaps some kind soul will give us a drink of water, even if we do look perfectly disreputable.”
Phyllis giggled softly in spite of their plight. Madge had lost her hat. Her curls had long since come loose from the knot in which she wore them, and her gown was sadly wrinkled.
Madge was in no mood for laughter. “You needn’t make fun of me, Phyllis Alden,” she said reproachfully. “You are just as tattered and torn as I. We do look like a couple of beggars. Your hair is not down, but your collar is crumpled and your dress is almost as soiled as mine.”
“I look much worse than you do, Madge, I am sure of it,” conceded Phil cheerfully. “You see, I am not pretty to begin with.” To this speech Madge would not deign to reply. Phyllis laughed good-humoredly. “Loyal little Madge, you won’t acknowledge my lack of fatal beauty.” Then in a graver tone she added, “What do you think we had better do, Madge?”
“Find out where we are and how far away the ‘Merry Maid’ is,” returned Madge decisively. “We must reach there to-night, Phil. Miss Jenny Ann and the girls will believe something dreadful has happened to us.”
The chums had walked to the end of the pier. Between them and the nearest house lay a stretch of treacherous marsh. They paused irresolutely, staring at the marsh with anxious eyes. “I am afraid we shall get lost in the marsh if we try to find our way through it on a dark night like this,” faltered Phyllis.
Madge shook her head determinedly. “We must try to pass through it. I don’t like the looks of it any better than you do, but we can’t stay here all night, that is certain. Come on. Here goes.”