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Aladdin obrien

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Title:AladdinO'Brien
Author:GouverneurMorris
ReleaseDate:April13,2009[EBook#5172]
LastUpdated:November16,2016
Language:English

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ALADDINO’BRIEN


BYGOUVERNEURMORRIS


CONTENTS
ALADDINO’BRIEN
BOOKI
I
II
III
IV
V
VI
VII
VIII
IX
X
XI
XII
XIII


XIV
XV
XVI
XVII
XVIII
BOOKII
XIX
XX
XXI
XXII
XXIII
XXIV
XXV
XXVI
XXVII
XXVIII
XXIX
BOOKIII
XXX
XXXI
XXXII


XXXIII
XXXIV
XXXV


XXXVI
XXXVII


BOOKI
“Itwasmanyandmanyayearago,
Inakingdombythesea,
Thatamaidentherelivedwhomyoumayknow
BythenameofAnnabelLee.
Andthismaidenshelivedwithnootherthought
Thantoloveandbelovedbyme.
Iwasachildandshewasachild”—


ALADDINO’BRIEN


I
It was on the way home from Sunday-school that Aladdin had enticed
Margarettotheforbiddenriver.Shewasnotsurethatheknewhowtorow,for
hewaspronetoexaggeratehisprowessatthisandthat,andshewentbecauseof
thefinedefianceofit,andbecauseAladdinexercisedanirresistiblefascination.
Heitwaswhocouldwhistlethemostengaginglythroughhisfrontteeth;andhe
itwas,whensaddogsofboysoftheworldweremetbehindthebarn,whocould
blow the smoke of the fragrant grapevine through his nose, and swallow the
samewithoutalarmtohimselfortohisadmirers.Tobewithhimwasinitselfa
soulfulwickedness,adeliciousandelevatinglessonincorruption.Buttobewith
himwhenhehaddonewrong,andwassorryforit(asalwayswhenfoundout),
that was enough to give one visions of freckled angels, and the sweetness of
ParadiseinMay.
Aladdinbroughttheskiffintothefloat,sternfirst,withabump.Pridesathigh
uponhisfreckledbrow,andhewhistledpiercingnotes.
“Icandoit,”hesaid.“Nowgetin.”
Margaret embarked very gingerly and smoothed her dress carefully, before
andaftersittingdown.Itwasawhiteandstarchydressofprice,withlittleblue
ribbonsatthethroatandwrists—suchadressasthelittlegirlofaverypoorpapa
willfindlaidoutonthegiltandbrocadechairbesideherbedifshegoestosleep
andwakesupinheaven.
“Onlyalittleway,‘Laddin,please.”
Theboymadehalfadozencircular,jabbingstrokes,andtheskiffzigzagged
outfromthefloat.Itwasafineblueday,coolasacucumber,andacrosstheriver
fromthedesertedshipyards,where,uponloftybeamings,stoodallsortsofships
inallstagesofcomposition,thefrequentbeechesandmaplesshowedpinkand
redandyellowagainsttheevergreenpines.
“It’s easy ‘nough,” said Aladdin. And Margaret agreed in her mind, for it is
the splash of deeds rather than the skill or power which impresses a lady. The
littleladysatprimlyinthestern,hermittedpawsfolded;hereyes,innocentand
immense,fastenedadmiringlyupontherowingboy.
“Only‘bout’s far’s the cat-boat,‘Laddin,please,”shesaid.“Ioughtn’tto of
come‘tall.”


Somehow the cat-boat, anchored fifty yards out and straining back from her
moorings, would not allow herself to be approached. For although Aladdin
maintained a proper direction (at times), the ocean tide, setting rigidly in and
overbearing the current of the river, was beginning to carry the skiff to some
havenwhereshewouldnotbe.
Aladdinsawthisandtriedtogoback,catchingmanycrabsintheearnestness
of his endeavor. Then the little girl, without being told, perceived that matters
werenotentirelyinthehandsofman,andbegantolookwistfullyfromAladdin
totheshore.Afterawhilehestoppedgrinning,andthenrowing.
“Can’tyougetback,‘Laddin?”saidthelittlegirl.
“No,”saidtheboy,“Ican’t.”Hewasallangelnow,forhewasbeingvisited
forwrong.
Thelittlegirl’slipstrembledandgotwhite.
“I’mawfulsorry,Margaret.”
“What’llwedo,‘Laddin?”
“Justsitstill,‘n’whateverhappensI’lltakecareofyou,Margaret.”
They were passing the shipyards with a steady sweep, but the offices were
closed,themenathome,andnoonesawthedistressedexpedition.Thelastyard
ofallwasconspicuousbyathree-master,finished,painted,sparred,readyforthe
fragrant bottle to be cracked on her nose, and the long shivering slide into the
river.Thencameafinesquare,chimneyedhousewithsherry-glass-shapedelmtrees about it. The boy shouted to a man contorted under a load of wood. The
manlookedupandgrinnedvacantly,forhewasnotevenhalf-witted.Andthey
were swept on. Presently woods drew between them and the last traces of
habitation,—gorgeouswoodswithintensesplashesofcolor,standinguponclean
rocksthatemphaticallydividedthewaterfromtheland,—andtheyscurriedinto
aregionasuntroubledbymanaswasEdenonthefirstmorning.Thelittleboy
wasnotafraid,butsosorryandashamedthathecouldhavecried.Thelittlegirl,
however,wasevendeeperdownthethroatofremorse,forshehadsinnedthree
timesonSunday,—first,shehadspokentothe“inventor’sboy”;second,shehad
not“comestraighthome”;third,shehadbeenseducedintoaforbiddenboat,—
andtherewasnobalminGilead;noranyforgivenessforever.Shepicturedher
grand, dark father standing like a biblical allegory of “Hell and Damnation”
withinthesomberleatherncubeofhisbooks,thefiercelywhite,whalebonecane
uponwhichheandoldbrothergoutleaned,andthevastgloomycentersatthe
bases of which glowed his savage eyes. She thought of the rolling bitter voice
withwhichshehadonceheardhimstiffenthebacksofhisconstituents,andshe


wassoreafraid.Shedidnotrememberhowmuchhelovedher,ortheimpotence
ofhisprincipleswhereshewasconcerned.Andshedidnotrecollect,forshehad
notbeenoldenoughtoknow,thatthegreatbittervoice,withitsheavy,telling
sarcasm,hadbeenliftedforhumanity—formorehumanityuponearth.
“Oh,‘Laddin,”shesaidsuddenly,“Idaren’tgohomenow.”
“Maybewecangetherinfartherup,”saidAladdin,“andgohomethroughthe
woods.That’llbesomething,anyhow.”
Margaretshuddered.Shethoughtofthethinauntwhogaveherlessonsupon
the pianoforte—one of the elect, that aunt, who had never done wrong, and
whomanyhalowouldfit;whogavehertounderstandthattheAlmightywould
raiseCainwithanylittlegirlwhodidnotpractiseanhoureveryday,andpray
Him, night and morning, to help her keep off the black notes when the white
noteswereintended.Firsttherewouldbeareckoningwithpapa,thenonewith
AuntMarion,lastwithAlmightyGod,andafterward,horribiledictu,pitchforks
for little Margaret, and a vivid incandescent state to be maintained through
eternityatvast costofpit-coal toagentlemanwhocarriedoverhisarm, soas
nottosteponit,alongsnakytailwithapointlikeaharpoon’s.
Meanwhile,Aladdinmadesundryattemptstogettheboatashore,andfailed
signally. The current was as saucy as strong. Now it swept them into the very
shadeofthetrees,andashoperosehotintheboy’sheartandhebegantostab
thewaterwiththeoars,sentthemskippingforthemidriver.Occasionallyafish
jumpedtoshowhoweasyitwas,andhighoverheadaneaglepassedstatelilyin
the wake of a cloud. After the eagle came a V of geese flying south, moving
throughthetreacherouscurrentsandwhirlpoolsoftheupperairassteadilyand
directlyasatrainuponitstrack.Itseemedasifnaturehadconspiredwithher
children to demonstrate to Margaret and Aladdin the facility of precise
locomotion.Thenarrowdeepsoftheriverendedwheretheshorerolledintoa
highknoboftrees;abovethisitspreadoverthelowerlandintoagreat,shallow,
swiftly currented lake, having in its midst a long turtlebacked island of dense
woods and abrupt shores. Two currents met off the knob and formed in the
directionoftheislandalongcurveofspittingwhite.Aladdinrowedwithgreat
fervor.
“Doitifyoucan,‘Laddin,”saidthelittlegirl.
Itseemedforonemomentasifsuccesswereabouttocrowntheboy’seffort,
forhebroughttheboattoanexcitingnearnesstotheshore;butthatwasall.The
currentsaid:“No,Aladdin,thatisnotjusttheplacetoland;comewithme,and
bringtheboatandtheyounglady.”AndAladdinatoncewentwiththecurrent.


“Margaret,”hesaid,“Idonemybest.”Hecrossedhisheart.
“Iknowyoudoneyourbest,‘Laddin.”Margaret’scheekswereonthebrinkof
tears.“Iknowyoudoneit.”
They were dancing sportively farther and farther from the shore. The water
broke,nowandagain,andslappedtheboatplayfully.
“We‘vecome‘mostthreemiles,”saidAladdin.
“Idaren’tgobackifIcouldnow,”saidMargaret.
Meanwhile Aladdin scanned the horizon far and wide to see if he could see
anythingofAntheus,tossedbythewinds,orthePhrygiantriremes,orCapys,or
theshipshavingupontheirloftypoopsthearmsofCaicus.Therewasnohelpin
sight. Far and wide was the bubbling ruffled river, behind the mainland, and
aheadtheleafyisland.
“What’llyourfatherdo,‘Laddin?”
Aladdinmerelygrinned,lessbywayofexplainingwhathisfatherwoulddo
thanofexpressingtoMargaretthis:“Havecourage;Iamstillwithyou.”
“‘Laddin,we’renotgoingsofast.”
Theyhadrunintonominallystillwater,andtheskiffwaslosingmomentum.
“Maybewe’dbetterlandontheisland,”saidAladdin,“ifwecan,andwaittill
thetideturns;won’tbelongnow.”
Againhepliedtheoars,andthistimewithsuccess.Forafteralittletheycame
into the shadow of the island, the keel grunted upon sand, and they got out.
Therewasalittlecrescentofwhitebeach,withanoccasionalexclamatorygreen
reedstickingfromit,andabovewasafinearchofbirchandpine.Theyhauled
uptheboatasfarastheycould,andsatdowntowaitforthetidetoturn.Firm
earth,inspiteofherawfulspiritualforebodings,putMargaretinamorecheerful
mood. Furthermore, the woods and the general mystery of islands were as
invitingasPunch.
“It’snotmuchfunwatchingthetidecomein,”shesaidafteratime.
Aladdingotup.
“Let’sgoaway,”hesaid,“andcomeback.Itnevercomesinifyouwatchfor
itto.”
Margaretarose,andtheywentintothewoods.
A devil’s darning-needle came and buzzed for an instant on the bow of the
skiff.Abelatedsandpiperflewintothecove,peeped,andflewout.
Thetiderosealittleandsaid:


“Whatisthisheavythinguponmyback?”
Thenitrosealittlemore.
“Why,it’spoorlittlesisterboatstuckinthemud,”saidthetide.
Fromfaroffcamejoyfulcracklingoftwigsandthesoundsofchildrenatplay.
Thetiderosealittlemoreandfreedanendoftheboat.
“That’sbetter,”saidtheboat,“eversomuchbetter.Icanalmostfloat.”
Againthetideraiseditsbroadshouldersahair’s-breadth.
“Great!”saidtheboat.“Oncemore,OldParty!”
Whenthechildrencameback,theyfoundthatpoorlittlesisterboatwasgone,
andinhersteadalloftheirforgottentroubleshadreturnedandwerewaitingfor
them,andlookingthemintheface.


II
Itisabsurdlydifficulttogethelpinthisworld.Ifaladyputsherheadoutofa
window and yells“Police,”sheisconsideredfunny,orifamanfromthe very
bottomofhissoulcallsforhelp,heiscommonlysupposedtobedrunk.Thusif,
castawayuponanisland,youshouldwaveyourhandkerchieftopeoplepassing
inaboat,theywouldimaginethatyouwantedtobefriendly,andwaveback;or,
iftheywereNewYorkaldermenoutforaday’sfishingintheSound,callyou
names.AndsoitwaswithMargaretandAladdin.Withshrillpipingvoicesthey
called tearfully to a party sailing up the river from church, waved and waved,
wereansweredinkind,andtastedthebitterestcuppossibletotheCrusoed.
Thenaftermuchwanderinginsearchoftheboatitgottobehunger-time,and
two small stomachs calling lustily for food did not add to the felicity of the
situation.
Withhunger-timecamedusk,andafterwarddarkness,blackerthanthetallhat
ofMargaret’sfather.Foratthelastmomentnaturehadthoughtbetterofthefine
weather which man had been enjoying for the past month, and drawn a vast
curtainofinkinessovertheluminariesfromonehorizonevenuntotheother,and
sentagreatpuffofwetfogupthevalleyoftheriverfromtheocean,sothatteeth
chatteredandtheendsoffingersbecameshriveledandbloodless.Andhadnot
vanitygoneoutwiththeentranceofsin,Margaretwouldhavenoticedthather
tightlittlecurlswerelooserandtheoncestatelyostrichfeatheruponherSunday
hat, the envy of little girls whom the green monster possessed, as flabby as a
longsermon.
Meanwhilethetidehavingturned,littlesisterboatmadefinewayofitdown
the river, and, burrowing in the fog, holding her breath as it were, and greatly
assistedbythetide,slippedpastthetownunseen,andputforopensea,whereit
is to be supposed she enjoyed herself hugely and, finally, becoming a little
skeleton of herself on unknown shores, was gathered up by somebody who
wantedaprettyfirewithgreenlightsinit.Themainpointisthatshewenther
selfishwayundetected,sothatthewide-lanternedsearchwhichpresentlyarose
for little Margaret tumbled and stumbled about clueless, and halted to take
drinks,andcamebackaboutmorningandlaydownallday,andsaiditneverdid,
whichitcertainlyhadn’t.Alltheto-dowasoverMargaret,forAladdinhadnot
beenmissed,and,evenifhehad,nobodywouldhavelookedforhim.Hisfather


wasathomebendingoverthemodelofthewonderfullampwhichwastomake
hisfortune,andoverwhichhehadbeenbendingforfifteenrollingyears.Ithad
cometohim,ataboutthetimethathefellinlovewithAladdin’smother,thata
certain worthless biproduct of something would, if combined with something
else and steeped in water, generate a certain gas, which, though desperately
explosive,wouldburnwithaflameaswhiteasday.Overtheperfectionofthis
invention, with a brief honeymoon for vacation, he had spent fifteen years, a
small fortune,—till he had nothing left,—the most of his health, and indeed
everything but his conviction that it was a beautiful invention and sure of
success. When Aladdin arrived, he was red and wrinkled, after the everlasting
fashionofthehumanbabe,andhadnoname,sobecauseofthewonderfullamp
they called him Aladdin. And that rendered his first school-days wretched and
had nothing to do with the rest of his life, after the everlasting fashion of
wonderfulnames.Aladdin’smotherwentoutoftheworldintheverynaturalact
of ushering his young brother into it, and he remembered her as a thin person
who was not strictly honorable (for, having betrayed him with a kiss, she
punished him for smoking) and had a headache. So there was nobody to miss
Aladdinortowastethevaluablenightinlookingforhim.
AboutthistimeMargaretbegantocryandAladdintocomforther,andthey
stumbled about in the woods trying to find—anything. After awhile they
happenedintoagrassygladebetweentwosteeprocks,andthereagreeingtorest,
scrunched into a depression of the rock on the right. And Margaret, her nose
veryred,herhatatanangle,andherheadonAladdin’sshoulder,sobbedherself
to sleep. And then, because being trusted is next to being God, and the most
movingandgentlestconditionpossible,Aladdin,forthefirsttime,feltthefull
measure of his crime in leading Margaret from the straight way home, and he
pressedherclosetohimandstrokedherdraggledhairwithhiscoldlittlehands
andcried.Whenevershe moved in sleep,hisheartwent outto her,andbefore
thenightwasoldhelovedherforever.
Sleep did not come to Aladdin, who had suddenly become a father and a
motherandanurseandabrotherandaloverandamanwhomustnotbeafraid.
His coat was wrapped about Margaret, and his arms were wrapped about his
coat, and the body of him shivered against the damp, cold shirt, which would
comeopeninfrontbecausetherewasabuttongone.Thefogcameinthickerand
colder,andnightwithherstrangenoisesmovedslowerandslower.Therewasan
oldloonoutontheriver,whowouldsuddenlythrowbackhisheadandlaughfor
noreasonatall.Andonceagreatstrangebirdwentrushingpast,squeakinglike
a mouse; and once two bright eyes came, flashing out of the night and swung


thiswayandthatlikesignal-lanternsanddisappeared.Aladdingavehimselfup
forlostandwouldhavescreamedifhehadbeenalone.
Presentlyhisthroatbegantotickle,thenthebaseofhisnose,thenthebridge
thereof,andthenhefeltforahandkerchiefandfoundnone.Foralittlewhilehe
maintained the proprieties by a gentle sniffling, finally by one great agonized
snuff. It seemed after that as if he were to be left in peace. But no. His lips
parted, his chin went up a little, his eyes closed, the tickling gave place to a
suddenimperativeultimatum,and,whenallwasover,Margarethadwaked.
Theytalkedforalongtime,forshecouldnotgotosleepagain,andAladdin
toldhermanythingsandkeptherfromcrying,buthedidnottellheraboutthe
awfulbirdorthemoreawfuleyes.Hetoldherabouthislittlebrother,andthe
yellowcattheyhad,andaboutthegreatcitywherehehadoncelived,andwhy
hewascalledAladdin.Andwhentherealbegantogrowdim,hetoldherstories
outofstrangebooksthathehadread,asherememberedthem—firstthestoryof
Aladdinandthenothers.
“Once,”beganAladdin,thoughhisteethwereknockingtogetherandhisarms
aching and his nose running—“once there was a man named Ali Baba, and he
hadfortythieves—”


III
Eveninthegoodnorthcountry,wherethewhitebreathofthemeltingicebergs
takesturnandturnwithdiamondnightsanddays,peopledidnotrememberso
thickafog;norwasthereathickerrecordedinanychapteroftradition.Indeed,
iftheexpressionbeendurable,soblackwasthewhitenessthatitwasdifficultto
knowwhenmorningcame.Therewasafreshershiverinthecold,thesensibility
that tree-tops were stirring, a filmy distinction of objects near at hand, and the
possibilitythatsomewhere‘waybackintheeasttherosyfingersofdawnwere
spreaduponaclearhorizon.Collisionsbetweenshipsatseawerereported,and
manyagoodsailormanwentdownfullfathomfivetowaitforthewhistleofthe
GreatBoatswain.
The little children on the island roused themselves and groped about among
thechilled,drippingstemsofthetrees;theyhadnoendinview,andnoplaceto
go,butmotionwasnecessaryforthelamelegsandarms.Margarethadcaughta
frightful cold and Aladdin a worse, and they were hungrier than should be
allowed.Nowajarredtreerainedwaterdowntheirnecks,andnowtheirfaces
went with a splash and sting into low-hanging plumes of leaves; often there
would be a slip and a scrambling fall. And by the time Aladdin had done
grimacingoverabangedshin,Margaretwouldhaveabruisedanklebonetocry
about. The poor little soul was very tired and penitent and cold and hurt and
hungry,andshecriedmostofthetimeandwasnottobecomforted.ButAladdin
bithislipsandheldhisheadupandsaiditallwouldbewellsometime.Perhaps,
thoughhestillhadalittlecourageleft,Aladdinwasthemoretobepitiedofthe
two: he was not only desperately responsible for it all, but full of imagination
andthehorriblethingshehadread.Margaret,likemostwomen,sufferedalittle
fromself-centration,andtoherthetrunkofabirchwasjustanastyoldwettree,
but to Aladdin it was the clammy limb of one drowned, and drawn from the
waterstostandineternalunrest.Atlengththestumblingprogressbroughtthem
to a shore of the island: a slippery ledge of rock, past whose feet the water
slipped hurriedly, steaming with fog as if it had been hot, two big leaning
birches, and a ruddy mink that slipped like winking into a hole. The river,
evidentforonlyafewyards,becamelostinthefog,andwheretheywerecould
only be guessed, and which way the tide was setting could only be learned by
experiment.Aladdinplantedatwigatthepreciseedgeofthewater,andtheysat
downtowatch.Stubbornlyandunwillinglythewaterrecededfromthetwig,and


theyknewthatthetidewasrunningout.
“That’sthewayhome,”saidAladdin.Margaretlookedwistfullydown-stream,
hereyesasmistyasthefog.
“Ifwehadtheboatwecouldgonow,”saidAladdin.
Thenhesatmoody,evolvingenterprise,andneitherspokeforalongtime.
“Marg’ret,”saidAladdin,atlength,“helpmefindabiglognearthewater.”
“Whatyougoingtodo,‘Laddin?”
“You‘llsee.Helplook.”
Theycreptalongtheedgeoftheisland,nowamongtheclose-growingtrees
andnowonthebarestripbetweenthemandthewater,untilatlengththeycame
uponabiglog,lyinglikesomegnarledamphibianhalfintheriverandhalfon
thedryland.
“Helppush,”saidAladdin.
Theycouldmoveitonlyalittle,notenough.
“Wait till I get a lever,” said Aladdin. He went, and came back with a long,
stiff little birch, that, growing recklessly in the thin soil over a rock, had been
willingtoyieldtothepersuasionofachildandcomeupbytheroots.Andthen,
Margaretpushingherbest,andAladdinpryingandgrunting,thelogwasmoved
towithinanace oflaunching.Untilnow,for she was tooyoung tounderstand
aboutdaringandunselfishness,Margarethadconsideredthelog-launchingasa
gameinventedbyAladdintowhileawaythedrearytime;butnowsherealized,
fromthelookinthepale,set,freckly,almostcomicalfaceoftheboy,thatdeeds
more serious were afoot, and when he said, “Somebody’ll pick me up, sure,
Marg’ret,andhelpmecomebackandgetyou,”shebrokeoutcryingafreshand
said,“Don’t,‘Laddin!Doo-on’t,‘Laddin!”
“Don’tcry,Marg’ret,”saidAladdin,withagulp.“I’ddomore’nthatforyou,
andIcanswimalittle,too—b-better’nIcanrow.”
“Oh,‘Laddin,”saidMargaret,“it’ssocoldinthewater.”
“Shucks!”saidAladdin,whoseteethhadbeenknockingallnight.“She’sthe
stanch little craft” (he had the phrase of a book) “Good Luck. I’m the captain
andyou’rethebuilder’sdaughter”—andsoshewas.“Chrissen‘er,Marg’et.Kiss
heronthebowan’sayshe’stheGoodLuck.”
ThenMargaret,herhatoveroneear,andthedraggledostrichfeathergreatly
intheway,knelt,andputtingherarmsabouttheshorewardendofthelog,kissed
it,andsaidinadrawnlittlevoice


“TheGoodLuck.”
“Andnow,Margaret,”saidAladdin,“youmuststayrighthere’n’notgo‘way
fromtheshore,so’sIcanfindyouwhenIcomeback.Butdon’tjustsitstillall
thetime,—keepmoving,so’snottogetanycolder,—‘nI’llcomebackforyou
sure.”
Then, because he felt his courage failing, he said, “Good-by, Marg’ret,” and
turningabruptly,wadedintohisanklesandbentoverthelogtogiveitthatfinal
impetuswhichwastosetitadrift.Inhisheartwereseveralthings:thedesireto
makegood,fearoftheriver,and,poignantandbitter,thefeelingthatMargaret
didnotunderstand.Hewastooyoungtobelievethatdeathmightreallybenear
him (almost reckless enough not to care if he had), but keenly aware that his
undertaking was perilous enough to warrant a more adequate farewell. So he
bentbitterlyoverthelogandstiffenedhisbackfortheheave.Itmustbeowned
thatAladdinwantedmoreofascene.
“‘Laddin,Iforgotsomething.Comeback.”
He came, his white lips drawn into a sort of smile. Then they kissed each
otheronthemouthwiththeloud,innocentkissoflittlechildren,andafterthat
Aladdinfeltthattheriverwasonlyariver,thecoldonlycold,thedangeronly
dangerandflowers—morethanflowers.
Hemovedthelogeasilyandwadedwithitintotheicywaters,untilhisfeet
were draggedfromthebottom, andafteroneawfulinstant oftotalsubmersion
the stanch little ship Good Luck and valiant Captain Kissed-by-Margaret were
embarkedonthevoyageperilous.Hisleftarmoverandaboutthelog,hislegs
kicking lustily like the legs of a frog, his right hand paddling desperately for
stability, Aladdin disappeared into the fog. After a few minutes he became so
freezingcoldthathewouldhaveletgoanddrownedgladlyifithadnotbeenfor
thewonderfullampwhichhadbeenlightedinhisheart.
Margaret,whenshesawhimbornefromherbytheirresistiblecurrent,cried
outwithalltheillogicofherwomanlylittlesoul,“Comeback,‘Laddin,come
back!”andsanksobbingupontheemptyshore.


IV
However imminent the peril of the man, it is the better part of chivalry to
remainbythedistressedlady,andthoughimpotenttobeofassistance,wemust
linger near Margaret, and watch her gradually rise from prone sobbing to a
sitting attitude of tears. For a long time she sat crying on the empty shore,
regardingforthemostpartblacklifeandnotatallthesignsofcheerfulchange
which were becoming evident in the atmosphere about her. The cold breath
across her face and hands and needling through her shivering body, the
increasing sounds of treetops in commotion, the recurring appearance of
branches where before had been only an opaque vault, did little to inform her
that the fog was about to lift. The rising wind merely made her the more
miserableandalone.Norwasituntiladiskofgoldsmotesuddenlyontherock
beforeherthatshelookedupandbeheldatwinkleofbluesky.Thefogpuffed
acrosstheblue,thebluelookeddownagain,—abiggereyethanbefore,—awisp
of fog filmed it again, and again it gleamed out, ever larger and always more
blue.Thegoodwindlivingfartothesouthhadheardthatinafewdaysalittle
girlwastobealoneandcomfortlessuponafoggyisland,and,hearing,hadfilled
his vast chest with warmth and sunshine, and puffed out his merry cheeks and
blown.Thegreatbreathsentthebluewavesthunderinguponthecoralbeaches
of Florida, tore across the forests of palm and set them all waving hilariously,
shook the merry orange-trees till they rattled, whistled through the dismal
swamps of Georgia, swept, calling and shouting to itself, over the Carolinas,
where clouds were hatching in men’s minds, banked up the waters of the
Chesapeakesothattherewasagreathightideandtheducksweresentscudding
tothedecoysofthenearestgunner,wentroaringintotheoaksandhickoriesof
NewYork,warmedtheveinsofNewEnglandfruit-trees,andfinallycomingto
thegiantfog,rentitapartbyhandfulsasyoupluckfeathersfromagoose,and
hurled it this way and that, until once more the sky and land could look each
other in the face. Then the great wind laughed and ceased. For a long time
Margaret looked down the cleared face of the river, but there was no trace of
Aladdin,andinlifebutonecomfort:thesunwashotandshewasgettingwarm.
After a time, in the woods directly behind where she sat hoping and fearing
and trying to dry her tears, a gun sounded like an exclamation of hope. Had
Aladdin by any incredible circumstance returned so soon? Mindful of his
warningnottostrayfromwhereshewas,Margaretstoodupandcalledinashrill


littlevoice
“HereIam!HereIam!”
Silence in the woods immediately behind where Margaret stood hoping and
fearing!
“Here I am!” she cried. And it had been piteous to hear, so small and shrill
wasthevoice.
Presently,thoughmuchfartheroff,soundedthemerryyappingbarkofalittle
dog, and again, but this time like an echo of itself, the exclamation of hope—
hopedeferred.
“HereIam!Here—I—am!”calledMargaret.
Then there was a long silence—so long that it seemed as if nothing in the
worldcouldhavebeensolong.Margaretsatdowngasping.Thesunrosehigher,
theriverranon,andhopeflewaway.Andjustashopehadgoneforgood,the
merry yapping of the dog broke out so near that Margaret jumped, and bang
wentthegun—likeapromiseofsalvation.Instantlyshewasonherfeetwithher
shrill,
“HereIam!HereIam!”
Andthistimecamebackalustyyoungvoicecrying:
“I’mcoming!”
And hard behind the voice leaves shook, and a boy came striding into the
sunlight.Inonehandhetrailedagun,andathisheelstrottedawaggishspaniel
ofimmenseimportanceandinfinitesimalsize.Inhisotherhandtheboycarried
by the legs a splendid cock-grouse, ruffled and hunger-compelling. The boy,
perhapstwoyearsolderthanAladdin,wasbigandstrongforhisage,andbore
hisshiningheadlikeayoungwood-god.
Margaret ran to him, telling her story as she went, but so incoherently that
whenshereachedhimshehadtostopandbeginoveragain.
“Then Senator St. John is your father?” said the boy at length. “You know,
he’s a great friend of my father’s. My father’s name is Peter Manners, and he
usedtobeacongressmanforNewYork.Areyouhungry?”
Margaretcouldonlylookit.
They sat down, and the boy took wonderful things out of his wonderful
pockets—sandwichesofeggandsandwichesofjam;andMargaretfellto.
“IliveinNewYork,”saidtheboy,“butI’mstayingwithmycousinsupthe
river.Theytoldmetherewerepartridgesonthisisland,andIroweddowntotry


andgetsome,butImissedtwo.”Theboyblushedmostbecominglywhenever
hespoke,andhisvoice,andthewayhesaidwords,weredifferentfromanything
Margaret had ever heard. And she admired him tremendously. And the boy,
becauseshe hadspenta nightonadesert island,whichheneverhad,admired
herinturn.
“Maybe we’ll find ‘Laddin on the way,” said Margaret, cheerfully, and she
lookedupwithgreateyesathergodlikeyoungfriend.


V
Meanwhile to Aladdin and his log divers things had occurred, but the
wonderfullamp,burningloworhighatthewilloftheriver,hadnotgoneout.
Slidingthroughthesmokingfogatthreemilesanhour,kickingandpaddling,all
hadgonewellforawhile.Then,forhewasmorekeenthanMargarettonotethe
fog’spromisetolift,attheverymomentwhentheshoresbegantoappearand
markhiscourseasfavorable,attheverymomentwhenthesunstruckoneendof
the log, an eddy of the current struck the other, and sent the stanch little craft
Good Luck and her captain by a wide curve back up the river. The backward
journey was slow and tortuous, and twice when the Good Luck turned turtle,
submerging Aladdin, he gave himself up for lost; but amidships of the island,
fairlyoppositetothespotwherehehadleftMargaret,thelogwasagainseized
by the right current, and the voyage recommenced. But the same eddy seized
them,andbacktheycame,withonlyanarmstiffenedbycoldbetweenAladdin
and death. The third descent of the river, however, was more propitious. The
eddy, it is true, made a final snatch, but its fingers were weakened and its
murderous intentions thwarted. They passed by the knob of trees at the
narrowing of the river, and swept grandly toward the town. Past the first
shipyardtheytoreunnoticed,butatthesecondashoutingarose,andaboatwas
slipped overboard and put after them. Strong hands dragged Aladdin from the
water,and,gulpaftergulp,watergushedfromhismouth.Thentheyrowedhim
quicklytoland,andtheGoodLuck,havingdoneherduty,wentdowntheriver
alone. Years after, could Aladdin have met with that log, he would have
recognizeditlikethefaceofafriend,andwouldhaveembracedandkissedit,
painteditwhitetostaveoffthedecayofoldage,andsetitforemostamonghis
LaresandPenates.
For the present he was insensible. They put him naked into coarse, warm
horse-blankets,andlaidhimbeforethegreatfireintheblacksmith’sshopacross
the road from the shipyard. And at the same time they sent one flying with a
horseandbuggytothehouseofHannibalSt.John,forAladdinhadnotpassed
intounconsciousnesswithoutpartlycompletinghismission.
“Margaret—is—up—at—”hesaid,anddarknesscame.
AtthemomentwhenAladdincameto,thedoorofthesmithywasdarkened
bythetremendousfigureofHannibalSt.John.Wrappedinhislongblackcloak,


fastened at the throat by three links of steel chain, his face glowering and
cavernous, the great man strode like a controlled storm through the awed
underlingsandstoppedrigidatAladdin’sside.
“Cantheboyspeak?”hesaid.
To Aladdin, looking up, there was neither pity nor mercy apparent in the
senator’sface,andagreatfearshookhim.Wouldthewrathdescend?
“Doyouknowwheremydaughteris?”
The great rolling voice nearly broke between the “my” and the “daughter,”
andthefearleftAladdin.
“MisterSt.John,”hesaid,“she’supatoneoftheislands.Wewentinaboat
andcouldn’tgetback.Ifyou’llonlygetaboatandsomeonetorow,Icantake
yourighttoher.”ThenAladdinknewthathehadnotsaidalltherewastosay.
“MisterSt.John,”saidAladdin,“Idoneitall.”
Menranoutofthesmithytoprepareaboat.
“Whoisthisboy?”saidSt.John.
“It’sAladdinO’Brien,theinventor’sboy,”saidthesmith.
“Areyoustrongenoughtogowithme,O’Brien?”saidthesenator.
“Yes,sir;I’vegottogo,”saidAladdin.“IsaidI’dcomebackforher.”
“Givehimsomewhisky,”saidSt.John,inthevoiceofJupitersaying“Poison
him,”“andwraphimupwarm,andbringhimalong.”
Theyembarked.Aladdin,cuddledinblankets,waslaidinthebow,St.John,
notdeigningtosit,stoodlikeablacktree-trunkinthestern,andamidshipswere
fourmentorow.
A little distance up the river they met a boat coming down. In the stern sat
Margaret,andattheoarshergodlikeyoungfriend.Justoverthebowappeared
thesnoutandmerryeyesofthespaniel,oneofhisdelightfulearshangingover
oneachside.
“Iamgladtoseeyoualive,”saidSt.JohntoMargaretwhentheboatswere
withinhailingdistance,andtoherfriendhesaid,“Sinceyouhavebroughtherso
far,begoodenoughtobringhertherestoftheway.”Andtohisownrowershe
said,“Goback.”Whentheboatscametolandattheshipyard,Margaret’sfather
liftedheroutandkissedheronceoneachcheek.Ofthegodlikeboyheaskedhis
name, and when he learned that it was Peter Manners and that his father was
PeterManners,healmostsmiled,andheshooktheboy’shand.
“Iwillsendwordtoyourcousinsuptheriverthatyouarewithme,”hesaid,


andthuswastheinvitationextendedandaccepted.
“O’Brien,”saidthegreatmantoAladdin,“whenyoufeelable,cometomy
house;Ihavesomethingtosaytoyou.”
Then Senator St. John, and Margaret, and Margaret’s godlike young friend,
and the spaniel got into the carriage that was waiting for them, and drove off.
ButMargaretturnedandwavedtoAladdin.
“Good-by,Aladdin!”shecalled.


VI
TheyhelpedAladdinbacktothesmithy,forhisonlycoveringwasaclumsy
blanket;andthereheputonhisshrunkenclothes,whichmeanwhilehaddried.
The kindly men pressed food on him, but he could not eat. He could only sit
blanklybythefireandnursethenumb,overpoweringpaininhisheart.Another
had succeeded where he had failed. Even at parting, just now, Margaret’s eyes
hadnotbeenforhim,butforthestrangerwhohaddonesoeasilywhathehad
notbeenabletodoatall.Thevoyagedowntheriverhadbeenmerefoolishness
withoutresult.Hehadnotrescuedhisfairlady,butdesertedheruponadesert
island. For him no bouquets were flung, nor was there to be any clapping of
hands.Afteratimeheroselikeonedreaming,andwentslowly,forhewassick
andweak,uptothegreatpillaredhouseofHannibalSt.John.Thesenatorinthat
sternvoiceofhishadbadehimcome;nothingcouldbeanyworsethanitwas.
He would go. He knocked, and they showed him into the library. It was four
wallsofleatherbooks,anoaktableneaterthanapin,ahugechaircoveredwith
horsehairmuchworn,andablazingfireofbirchlogs.Beforethefire,onehand
thrust into his coat, the other resting somewhat heavily upon the head of a
whalebonecane,stoodthesenator.FaroffAladdinheardMargaret’slaughand
withitanotheryounglaugh.Thenhelookeduplikealittlehuntedthingintothe
senator’ssmolderingeyes.
“Sit down in that chair,” said the senator, pointing with his cane to the only
chairintheroom.Hisvoicehadtheeffectofastrongmuscularcompulsionto
whichmenatonceyielded.Aladdinsatintothebigchair,histoesswingingjust
clearoftheground.Thentherewassilence.Aladdinbrokeit.
“IsMargaretallright?”hegulped.
Thesenatordisregardedthequestion.Havingchosenhiswords,hesaidthem.
“Idonotknow,”hebegan,“whatmydaughterwasdoinginaboatwithyou.I
donotobjecttoherenjoyingthesocietyatpropertimesofsuitablecompanions
of her own age, but the society of those who lead her into temptation is not
suitable.” Aladdin fairly wilted under the glowering voice. “You will not be
allowedtoassociatewithheranymore,”saidthesenator.“Iwillspeaktoyour
fatherandseethatheforbidsit.”
Aladdinclimbedoutofthechair,andstumbledblindlyintothetable.Hehad
meanttofindthedoorandgo.


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