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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesAladdin O'brien - Book 1 - Chapter 2
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Aladdin O'brien - Book 1 - Chapter 2 Post by :Ben_Gylsen Category :Long Stories Author :Gouverneur Morris Date :May 2012 Read :1420

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Aladdin O'brien - Book 1 - Chapter 2

BOOK I CHAPTER II

It is absurdly difficult to get help in this world. If a lady puts her head out of a window and yells "Police," she is considered funny, or if a man from the very bottom of his soul calls for help, he is commonly supposed to be drunk. Thus if, cast away upon an island, you should wave your handkerchief to people passing in a boat, they would imagine that you wanted to be friendly, and wave back; or, if they were New York aldermen out for a day's fishing in the Sound, call you names. And so it was with Margaret and Aladdin. With shrill piping voices they called tearfully to a party sailing up the river from church, waved and waved, were answered in kind, and tasted the bitterest cup possible to the Crusoed.

Then after much wandering in search of the boat it got to be hunger-time, and two small stomachs calling lustily for food did not add to the felicity of the situation.

With hunger-time came dusk, and afterward darkness, blacker than the tall hat of Margaret's father. For at the last moment nature had thought better of the fine weather which man had been enjoying for the past month, and drawn a vast curtain of inkiness over the luminaries from one horizon even unto the other, and sent a great puff of wet fog up the valley of the river from the ocean, so that teeth chattered and the ends of fingers became shriveled and bloodless. And had not vanity gone out with the entrance of sin, Margaret would have noticed that her tight little curls were looser and the once stately ostrich feather upon her Sunday hat, the envy of little girls whom the green monster possessed, as flabby as a long sermon.

Meanwhile the tide having turned, little sister boat made fine way of it down the river, and, burrowing in the fog, holding her breath as it were, and greatly assisted by the tide, slipped past the town unseen, and put for open sea, where it 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 wanted a pretty fire with green lights in it. The main point is that she went her selfish way undetected, so that the wide-lanterned search which presently arose for little Margaret tumbled and stumbled about clueless, and halted to take drinks, and came back about morning and lay down all day, and said it never did, which it certainly hadn't. All the to-do was over Margaret, for Aladdin had not been missed, and, even if he had, nobody would have looked for him. His father was at home bending over the model of the wonderful lamp which was to make his fortune, and over which he had been bending for fifteen rolling years. It had come to him, at about the time that he fell in love with Aladdin's mother, that a certain worthless biproduct of something would, if combined with something else and steeped in water, generate a certain gas, which, though desperately explosive, would burn with a flame as white as day. Over the perfection of this 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 fashion of the human babe, and had no name, so because of the wonderful lamp 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 wonderful names. Aladdin's mother went out of the world in the very natural act 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 Aladdin or to waste the valuable night in looking for him.

About this time Margaret began to cry and Aladdin to comfort her, and they stumbled about in the woods trying to find--anything. After awhile they happened into a grassy glade between two steep rocks, and there agreeing to rest, scrunched into a depression of the rock on the right. And Margaret, her nose very red, her hat at an angle, and her head on Aladdin's shoulder, sobbed herself to sleep. And then, because being trusted is next to being God, and the most moving and gentlest condition possible, Aladdin, for the first time, felt the full measure of his crime in leading Margaret from the straight way home, and he pressed her close to him and stroked her draggled hair with his cold little hands and cried. Whenever she moved in sleep, his heart went out to her, and before the night was old he loved her forever.

Sleep did not come to Aladdin, who had suddenly become a father and a mother and a nurse and a brother and a lover and a man who must not be afraid. 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 come open in front because there was a button gone. The fog came in thicker and colder, and night with her strange noises moved slower and slower. There was an old loon out on the river, who would suddenly throw back his head and laugh for no reason at all. And once a great strange bird went rushing past, squeaking like a mouse; and once two bright eyes came, flashing out of the night and swung this way and that like signal-lanterns and disappeared. Aladdin gave himself up for lost and would have screamed if he had been alone.

Presently his throat began to tickle, then the base of his nose, then the bridge thereof, and then he felt for a handkerchief and found none. For a little while he 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 sudden imperative ultimatum, and, when all was over, Margaret had waked.

They talked for a long time, for she could not go to sleep again, and Aladdin told her many things and kept her from crying, but he did not tell her about the awful bird or the more awful eyes. He told her about his little brother, and the yellow cat they had, and about the great city where he had once lived, and why he was called Aladdin. And when the real began to grow dim, he told her stories out of strange books that he had read, as he remembered them--first the story of Aladdin and then others.

"Once," began Aladdin, though his teeth were knocking together and his arms aching and his nose running--"once there was a man named Ali Baba, and he had forty thieves--"

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BOOK I CHAPTER I"It was many and many a year ago, In a kingdom by the sea, That a maiden there lived whom you may know By the name of Annabel Lee. And this maiden she lived with no other thought Than to love and be loved by me. I was a child and she was a child"--CHAPTER I It was on the way home from Sunday-school that Aladdin had enticed Margaret to the forbidden river. She
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