Cruise of the Little Dipper Page 13

“But then I’ll have to pay you,” said Birdling, “and I have no money. Shall I pay you with music? I’ll whistle one tune for every Shrimp once a week.”

“It’s a bargain,” replied the crew.

All night long Bumble flew to and fro between the witch-hazel bushes on the hill and the boat upon the beach, carrying fairy-bread and honey-dew for the voyage. The crew packed all these provisions into big barnacles that made splendid kegs and barrels. Birdling was brave enough to go back along the beach by moonlight and pick up the mullen-leaf blankets he had dropped when he fled from the Cat, and at the crack of dawn, the Little Dipper was ready to put to sea. They cleared the harbor and with the outgoing tide floated out upon the ocean. Bumble flew above the mast and accompanied them for several miles; two fiddler crabs came to the edge of the beach and fiddled until the good ship was out of sight, and Birdling stood at the bow with the great green sail blowing behind him. At last everybody shouted: “Goodbye, goodbye, good luck, thank you, thank- you!,” then the Little Dipper sailed out of sight.

For three days they journeyed, always pointing their course to Eastward, but they did not know just where to look for the Fairy Islands. Sometimes a flock of birds would fly above them also going Eastward, but they flew so fast that it was never possible to follow and learn their path.

On the fourth day, just as the pink dawn spread over the sky, Birdling saw a whole fleet of tiny sails. They were no bigger than his own, but they were pearly white and shimmered with lovely colors, so he knew they must be Nautilus ships.

“Heigh-ho!” he shouted, catching up to them. “Heigh-ho, heigh-ho!”