“What’ll your father do, ’Laddin?”
Aladdin merely grinned, less by way of explaining what his father would do than of expressing to Margaret this: “Have courage; I am still with you.”
“’Laddin, we’re not going so fast.”
They had run into nominally still water, and the skiff was losing momentum.
“Maybe we’d better land on the island,” said Aladdin, “if we can, and wait till the tide turns; won’t be long now.”
Again he plied the oars, and this time with success. For after a little they came into the shadow of the island, the keel grunted upon sand, and they got out. There was a little crescent of white beach, with an occasional exclamatory green reed sticking from it, and above was a fine arch of birch and pine. They hauled up the boat as far as they could, and sat down to wait for the tide to turn. Firm earth, in spite of her awful spiritual forebodings, put Margaret in a more cheerful mood. Furthermore, the woods and the general mystery of islands were as inviting as Punch.
“It’s not much fun watching the tide come in,” she said after a time.
Aladdin got up.
“Let’s go away,” he said, “and come back. It never comes in if you watch for it to.”
Margaret arose, and they went into the woods.
A devil’s darning-needle came and buzzed for an instant on the bow of the skiff. A belated sandpiper flew into the cove, peeped, and flew out.
The tide rose a little and said:
“What is this heavy thing upon my back?”
Then it rose a little more.
“Why, it’s poor little sister boat stuck in the mud,” said the tide.
From far off came joyful crackling of twigs and the sounds of children at play.
The tide rose a little more and freed an end of the boat.
“That’s better,” said the boat, “ever so much better. I can almost float.”
Again the tide raised its broad shoulders a hair’s-breadth.
“Great!” said the boat. “Once more, Old Party!”
When the children came back, they found that poor little sister boat was gone, and in her stead all of their forgotten troubles had returned and were waiting for them, and looking them in the face.
It is absurdly difficult to get help in this world. If a lady puts her head out of a window and yells “Police,” she is considered funny, or if a man from the very bottom of his soul calls for help, he is commonly supposed to be drunk. Thus if, cast away upon an island, you should wave your handkerchief to people passing in a boat, they would imagine that you wanted to be friendly, and wave back; or, if they were New York aldermen out for a day’s fishing in the Sound, call you names. And so it was with Margaret and Aladdin. With shrill piping voices they called tearfully to a party sailing up the river from church, waved and waved, were answered in kind, and tasted the bitterest cup possible to the Crusoed.