Cruise of the Little Dipper Page 11

Then they noticed a long line of little pink Crabs emerging from the foamy water and slowly ascending the sands.

“Backward—march!” shouted the Horse- Shoe Crab.

There was nothing for Birdling to do but sit down on an empty oyster shell and wait until the parade was over. They marched backward, and marked time with two feet, three feet, four feet, till they had learned to keep all six of them going, and they did squads right and left and exercised their jaws and joints and pincers. There was nothing they did not do.

At last the Horse-Shoe Crab shouted: “Dismiss!” and all the little Crabs tumbled back into the sea, pinching each other and betting who would be first down the beach. Then the old commander turned his attention to Birdling and Bumble.

“Who are you?”

“Nobody.”

“Where are you going?”

“I’m not going at all,” replied Bumble.

“You want to cross the parade-ground?”

“Yes.”

“What for?”

“To get to my ship.”

“Show your passport.”

“Here!” and Bumble unsheathed his shiny long bayonet.

“That will do,” said the Horse-Shoe Crab quickly, backing away a few steps and pulling in his tail. “You may pass.”