Phyllis obediently followed her companion into the marsh, and then began a never-to-be-forgotten walk. With each step they took the salt water oozed up from the ground and covered their shoes. Madge felt her way carefully. She was obliged to put one foot cautiously forth to see if the earth ahead were firm enough to bear the weight of her body. On she went, with Phyllis close behind her. In spite of the difficulty the girls were plainly making headway. “Hurrah!” called Madge, “we are almost out of this quagmire. There is dry land ahead!” With one long leap she made the solid ground which stretched just ahead of her. Phyllis was not so fortunate. She lunged blindly after Madge, struck an unusually bad part of the marsh and sank knee deep in the soft mud. With a terrified cry she began struggling to free herself, but the harder she struggled the deeper she became imbedded in the marsh.
The moon was just coming up. Madge could faintly see what had happened to her friend. She ran toward Phyllis, but the latter cried out warningly: “Go back. If you try to help me, you’ll only sink into this marsh with me.”
Madge hesitated only a minute. “Don’t move, Phil, if you can possibly help it,” she cried. “But in a few minutes from now call out, so that I can tell where you are. Good-bye for a little while; I am going for help.” Madge never knew how she covered the space that lay between her and the nearest house. This house had a low stone wall around it, and stood on top of a steep hill that sloped down to this wall. Madge scrambled over the wall and climbed the hill, sometimes on her feet, but as often on her hands and knees. There was a light in a window. She staggered to it and rapped on the window pane. A moment later a man appeared in a doorway at the right of the window.
“Who’s there?” he called out sharply. “What do you mean by knocking on my window? Answer me at once!”
Madge stumbled over to him. “Oh, won’t you please come with me?” she said. “My friend Phyllis is stuck fast in the marsh. I must have help to get her out.”
Without a word the man disappeared into the house. For one dreadful instant, Madge thought he did not intend to help her; she thought he must believe that she was an impostor and was making up her story. The next minute the man returned, wearing a pair of high rubber hoots and carrying a dark lantern and a heavy rope.
“Don’t be frightened,” he said kindly to her as she walked wearily after him. “People often lose their way in this marsh after dark. We’ll soon find your friend.”
But to himself Judge Arthur Hilliard asked the question: “What in the world are two young girls doing alone on this dangerous shore at such an hour of the night?”
It was well that Phyllis remembered Madge’s order, else they might have had some trouble in locating her. As soon as Phyllis saw the friendly light from the oncoming lantern she called at the top of her lungs: “Here I am! Here I am!”