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       Baby Island, p.1

           Carol Ryrie Brink
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Baby Island


  Shipwrecked! For twelve-year-old Mary Wallace and her ten-year-old sister Jean, floating on the sea in a lifeboat seems more like a dream than reality—actually, more like a nightmare. But they’re not the only survivors of the ocean liner, sunk on its way to Australia. On board their tiny boat with them are four bouncing babies. Whether or not any of them will survive, though, is questionable.

  Hope comes in the form of a deserted island. But will this become their home for the rest of their lives?

  This is the classic tale of courage and dedication by one of the most popular authors of children’s books, CAROL RYRIE BRINK. Her other titles include Newbery Medal-winner Caddie Woodlawn, Magical Melons, and The Bad Times of Irma Baumlein, all available from Aladdin Paperbacks.


  Simon & Schuster

  Cover illustration © 1993 by Samson Pollen

  Cover design by Rebecca Tachna

  Ages 8-12



  Aladdin Paperbacks

  An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division

  1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

  Copyright © 1937 by The Macmillan Company

  All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

  First Aladdin Paperbacks edition, 1993


  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Brink, Carol Ryrie, date.

  Baby Island / by Carol Ryrie Brink; pictures by Helen Sewell.—1st Aladdin Books ed.

  p. cm.

  Summary: Twelve-year-old Mary Wallace and her ten-year-old sister Jean survive the wreck of an ocean liner on its way to Australia and manage to make it to a seemingly deserted island in a lifeboat with four babies.

  ISBN 0-689-71751-2

  [1. Shipwrecks—Fiction. 2. Babies—Fiction. 3. Sisters 4. Islands—Fiction.] I. Sewell, Helen, date. ill. II. Title.

  PZ7.B78Bab 1993

  [Fic]—dc20 92-45577


  When I was a small girl, it was the fashion in our circle to borrow the neighbors’ babies. I myself was never a very accomplished nursemaid, although I had many happy hours pushing the perambulator of a young cousin; but some of my friends had a positive genius for taking care of and amusing babies. They never thought of receiving pay for this delightful pastime. Minding a baby was its own reward.

  It is more difficult to borrow babies now, I understand. Whether this is due to a scarcity of babies or to more particular mothers, I am unable to say. But I am quite sure of this: there are just as many little girls who love babies as there ever were, and it is especially for them that I have written the story of BABY ISLAND.



  I The Wreck

  II The Lifeboat

  III A Wild Night

  IV Bananas!

  V Time and Tide

  VI The Tepee

  VII Mary Mixes the Twins

  VIII Hunting Friday

  IX Another Baby

  X Mr. Peterkin’s Toe

  XI Mary Preaches a Sermon

  XII Several Surprises

  XIII Mr. Peterkin Has His Ups and Downs

  XIV Lost in the Storm

  XV The Chest

  XVI An Answer to Jean’s Letters



  The Wreck

  ON THE night of September twentieth the S.S. Orminta, two weeks outward bound from San Francisco to Australia, was struck by a tropical storm and badly disabled. In the general panic which followed, nobody thought of the two little girls who were traveling alone to meet their father in Australia. But, although nobody remembered her, twelve-year-old Mary Wallace immediately thought of the babies. She was a motherly girl who was never so happy as when she had borrowed a baby to cuddle or care for.

  So, when she woke up and found that the boat was sinking, she thought at once of the three Snodgrass babies. She dressed herself, shook her sister Jean and made her dress, and ran to help Mrs. Snodgrass rescue them. Jean, who was ten and a sound sleeper, followed her sister down the corridor with just one eye open and that open only part way. She had been dreaming that she had already reached Australia and was riding beside her father in a big red wagon. When Mary made her get up and dress and follow her through the corridor, she really didn’t wake up at all, but kept on dreaming that the wagon had broken down and that she was obliged to walk.

  Mary, however, was as wide awake as a girl can be. She saw at once that she must be very quick if she were to help the Snodgrasses save their babies, for the big ocean liner was already tipping far over toward one side, and people were frantically rushing hither and thither in the darkness. Somewhere a woman was screaming, and the great engines deep inside the boat were pounding and throbbing terribly. Most girls of twelve would have been frightened, but Mary Wallace was not an ordinary girl. She made her way very coolly and deliberately to the far end of the boat, where Mr. Snodgrass, the Methodist field missionary, shared a large cabin with his wife and three babies. When she reached the cabin, she found the door open and the room apparently deserted.

  “They are gone!” cried Mary, and she couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed that they had not needed her help. “The babies are saved!”

  But she had spoken too soon, for just then a feeble wail arose from one of the berths. Mary plunged into the dark cabin, calling: “Mrs. Snodgrass! Mr. Snodgrass! The boat is sinking!”

  There was no response. Whether the missionary and his wife had gone for help or merely to ascertain the gravity of the wreck, Mary did not know. But it became plain to her at once that, if the babies were to be saved, she must save them herself. She took Jonah, the very young Snodgrass baby up quickly, and wrapped him as warmly as possible in his blankets. Finding his half-emptied bottle of milk beside him, she wrapped it in the blanket with him, and thrust the whole bundle into the arms of sleepy Jean.

  “Don’t you dare to drop him, Jean,” she cautioned.

  “Do, I wod’t,” said Jean with a long sigh.

  Then, wrapping the twins with the same hurried care, Mary took one under each arm, and, staggering under their combined weight, made her way up on deck. There the first thing she saw was a group of frightened sailors who were hurriedly preparing a lifeboat. Without a moment’s delay Mary presented herself before them and said, “Will you please save us?” The sailors readily did what they could for her, and Mary and the twins, the still-drowsy Jean and Jonah were securely installed in the small open boat.

  “Oh,” murmured Mary to herself, “if I only could have saved Ann Elizabeth, too! But, of course, she has two parents with only Ann Elizabeth and the white poodle to save, so she will probably be taken care of.”

  A great creaking windlass suddenly swung the lifeboat out over the side of the sinking vessel. They hung suspended in midair.

  “Hey!” called a hoarse voice on the deck above, “don’t let that boat down yet. She’s not half full.”

  Mary’s boat was drawn back toward the side of the vessel.

  “Don’t go without Mr. and Mrs. Snodgrass,” called Mary, but her voice was entirely drowned by the noise of wind and wave and the shouting of the people on the steamer. The lifeboat swung back and forth in the wind like a hammockful of dolls. Jean had sunk down in the bottom of the boat in deep slumber, with the Snodgrass baby’s head pillowed on her shoulder. Now she dreamed that they had reached the end of the journey and that she had at last been allowed to go to bed. Mary made the twins as comfortable as she could in the bottom of the boat, arranging a sort of bed
and cover for them out of a large tarpaulin which she had found in the boat. Fortunately they were good sleepers and very calm. Then she kept her small, scared face turned toward the ship’s railing looking for Mr. and Mrs. Snodgrass.

  Presently someone whom she knew looked over the rail. It was neither the missionary nor his wife, but it was the father of Ann Elizabeth Arlington, the cutest baby on the steamship. Mr. Arlington’s face looked very much frightened, but the sight of the half-empty boat seemed to give him courage. Then, seeing Mary, his face lost its anxious look entirely, and he cried: “Why, it’s Mary Wallace! Here, will you just take Ann Elizabeth for a moment while I go back for Mrs. Arlington and the poodle? I am very much afraid that Mrs. Arlington has fainted. We’ll be with you in just a moment.”

  Mary stretched out eager arms for Ann Elizabeth. Even if she was a teenty-weenty bit spoiled, she was the darlingest baby on the boat. The baby came smiling and cooing into Mary’s arms, for Mary had often borrowed her in the happy days before the wreck; and with a sigh of relief Mr. Arlington disappeared on the deck of the great steamer. The wind howled; the waves crashed. Mary drew her last-winter’s coat, which was a little too small this year, closer about her and Ann Elizabeth. She was growing more and more anxious for the Arlington and Snodgrass parents to come.

  Suddenly there was a terrific crashing and creaking noise. Then in the stillness which followed, Mary heard a voice above her cry: “She’s going to sink! Cast off the lifeboats!”

  An instant later someone began lowering Mary’s lifeboat. It struck the water with a splash, and bobbed there like a cork. For an instant it spun around and around, and Mary thought that it was going to be dashed against the side of the huge sinking steamer. But just then the wind and waves caught it and bore it safely away.

  The great ship did not sink at once as the voice on deck had said that it would. For a long time Mary could see it with its lighted portholes tilted up at an odd angle. Then, as her little boat drifted swiftly away, fog and darkness closed in and the sinking ship was lost to view. At last Mary realized with a strange thrill that she and Jean were adrift on an unknown sea with a boatful of parentless babies. Seeing that there was nothing she could do about it, she settled down with her usual patience and good sense to get what pleasure she could out of the voyage, and to wait for whatever events the morrow would bring.

  When the first flush of dawn broke over the troubled sea, Jean began to stir and waken. Her right arm and shoulder were terribly lame from the weight of the youngest Snodgrass baby, and she had just been dreaming that she had been hunting and an Australian kangaroo had kicked her in the shoulder.

  “Kesh kang-roo, Mary,” she mumbled sleepily. “He’s a’most killed me.”

  “There, there, Jeannie, you’re only dreaming,” said Mary kindly, reaching over the sleeping twins to pat Jean’s shoulder.

  Jean sat up and rubbed her eyes. She was tremendously surprised to find herself holding the Snodgrass baby. “Where am I?” she asked in a startled voice. For the first time since she had crawled into her berth on the big ocean liner the night before, she was wide awake.

  “Well,” said Mary, wishing to break it to her gently, “we’re at sea, dear.”

  “Great fishes! I should think so!” said Jean, gazing about her at the miles and miles of water spread out on every side. “But how did we get here? I thought—”

  “You see, Jean, there was a sort of a wreck,” admitted Mary.

  “A sort of a wreck?” repeated Jean with round eyes. “But how in the world—”

  “We’re in a lifeboat,” said Mary. “Can’t you remember how we rescued the babies and got in here and were lowered into the sea?”

  Jean thought hard, but finally Mary had to tell her the whole story.

  “But it’s terrible, Mary,” she said, when Mary had finished. “Why, what will the Snodgrasses and the Arlingtons do without their babies? And there is poor Father waiting for us in Australia and knowing very well that Aunt Emma put us on a boat. And most likely we’ll perish at sea and never see any of them again.” Jeannie began to fumble in her pockets for her handkerchief. Finally in desperation she took the blue one that always stuck out of the upper lefthand pocket of her coat. Mary was horrified.

  “Oh, Jeannie!” she cried. “Don’t cry on that! It’s your best one that Aunt Emma gave you two years ago Christmas! Besides you mustn’t cry at all. Do you suppose that Robinson Crusoe cried?”

  “N-n-no,” said Jean, “bu-bu-but I can’t help it.”

  “Remember who you are,” said Mary firmly. “Remember you’re a Wallace. Sing ‘Scots, Wha Hae wi’ Wallace Bled’ and you’ll be all right.”

  “ ‘Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled!’” sang Jean in a quavering voice.

  “Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,

  Welcome to your gory bed,

  Or to victorie!

  Now’s the day an’ now’s the hour.

  See the front of battle lour;

  See approach proud Edward’s pow’r,

  Chains and slaverie!”

  “Well, go on,” prompted Mary. “You don’t look very cheerful yet.”

  Jeannie swung mournfully into the second verse:

  “Wha would be a traitor knave?

  Wha would fill a coward’s grave?

  Wha sae base as be a slave?

  Let him turn an’ flee!

  Wha, for Scotland’s king an’ law,

  Freedom’s sword would strongly draw,

  Freeman stand, and freeman fa’,

  Let him on wi’ me!”

  But Jeannie never reached the third stanza, for just then the tiny Snodgrass baby woke up and began to cry.

  “I guess he doesn’t like my singing,” said Jean dolefully.

  “Rock him,” said Mary, “and let him have his thumb to suck. We’ll have to spoil them a little in order to keep them quiet for a few days.”

  Jean obeyed, and the Snodgrass baby unwrinkled his little red face and went back to sleep with his thumb in his mouth. Jean began to cry softly again. “It’s this terrible water,” she said; “there’s so much more of it than I ever thought there would be. Won’t we ever see land again?”

  “Now, Jean,” said Mary firmly, “we’ve just got to be brave. I planned everything out last night while you were asleep and the boat was drifting along. Mr. Snodgrass was telling me only the other day that there are hundreds of little islands in this part of the sea, and I’m hoping to reach one before night.”

  “What makes you think so?”

  “Because shipwrecked people always do,” said Mary decidedly. “Why, the public library at home is just full of books about shipwrecked people who landed on tropical islands. And did you ever see a book written by a person who was drowned at sea? I never did.”

  Jean thought hard. “No,” she said doubtfully, “but all I can say is, I wish we’d hurry up and get there.”

  “Goodness!” said Mary. “You can’t expect everything to happen at once. Why, we just got wrecked last night. If Mr. Snodgrass said there were lots of little islands around here, there must be. You wouldn’t catch a missionary making up a fib, Jeannie. I’m sure we’re due at one of those islands right now. Of course, we might be a little late, like the Interurban cars used to be at home.”

  Jean gulped three times at all this sisterly good sense, and then she managed a bleak and watery smile.


  The Lifeboat

  THE sea grew more and more calm as the round southern sun came higher and higher above the horizon. A stiff breeze still carried the lifeboat forward; but the waves no longer crashed about it, hurling it hither and thither as they had in the night.

  “The thing I’m most worried about is milk,” said Mary, with a little pucker between her eyes. “When these babies wake up, they will want milk, and all I have is what’s left in Jonah’s bottle.”

  “In my pocket,” said Jean, “I have the cake of milk cho’late that cousin Alex gave me before I left. I
ve been saving it for some special occasion. This is a special occasion, isn’t it, Mary? Don’t you wish you’d saved yours?”

  “Yes,” said Mary, “I do. But milk chocolate won’t help the babies any. Do you s’pose they could live on cocoanut milk, Jean?”

  “Wherever would you get the cocoanuts?”

  “Why on the desert island, silly!”

  Just then one of the Snodgrass twins sat up. Mary couldn’t tell whether he was Elijah or Elisha, because they were exactly alike. But this one had on a pink outing-flannel jacket, so Mary judged it to be Elisha or Pink as he was familiarly called. He was a fat baby nearly two years old. He wrinkled up his nose in a funny way and said, “Moo!”

  “Oh, the funny rascal!” said Jean. “He thinks he’s a cow.”

  The baby looked imploringly at Mary and stretched out his hands. “Me-me, moo,” he entreated.

  “The time has come,” said Mary tragically.

  He staggered to his feet and began to toddle unsteadily toward her. “Me-me, ba-ba moo,” he said.

  Mary knelt in the bottom of the boat and gathered him into her arms.

  “What does he say?” asked Jean, who never understood babies quite so well as Mary did.

  “He says, ‘Mary, give baby some milk,’” translated Mary.

  “What shall we do?” sighed Jean.

  “Me-me no have moo,” said Mary sadly, shaking her head at the baby.

  “Mary Wallace, I’m ashamed of you,” said Jean severely. “How many times have you heard Mr. Snodgrass say that the only way to help babies learn to talk is to speak to them sensibly as if they were grown-ups?”

  “Well, what should I say?” asked Mary, on the verge of tears.

  “Say: ‘Elisha, we have no food at the present time, but with good luck and a fair wind we hope to land on a cocoanut island where you shall be fed.’”

  At this speech Pink raised a terrible wail of protest.

  “Now see what you’ve gone and done,” said Mary.

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