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:
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.