all children know and love; and the name of which I'll tell you by and
by. So busily was I reading, that I never minded the tide; and
presently discovered that I was floating out to sea, with neither sail
nor oar. At first I was very much frightened; for there was no one in
sight on land or sea, and I didn't know where I might drift to. But
the water was calm, the sky clear, and the wind blew balmily; so I
waited for what should happen.
Presently I saw a speck on the sea, and eagerly watched it; for it
drew rapidly near, and seemed to be going my way. When it came closer,
I was much amazed; for, of all the queer boats I ever saw, this was
the queerest. It was a great wooden bowl, very cracked and old; and in
it sat three gray-headed little gentlemen with spectacles, all reading
busily, and letting the boat go where it pleased. Now, right in their
way was a rock; and I called out, "Sir, sir, take care."
But my call came too late: crash went the bowl, out came the bottom,
and down plumped all the little gentlemen into the sea. I tried not to
laugh, as the books, wigs, and spectacles flew about; and, urging my
boat nearer, I managed to fish them up, dripping and sneezing, and
looking like drowned kittens. When the flurry was over, and they had
got their breath, I asked who they were, and where they were going.
"We are from Gotham, ma'am," said the fattest one wiping a very wet
face on a very wet handkerchief. "We were going to that island yonder.
We have often tried, but never got there: it's always so, and I begin
to think the thing can't be done."
I looked where he pointed; and, sure enough, there was an island where
I had never seen one before. I rubbed my eyes, and looked again. Yes:
there it was,--a little island, with trees and people on it; for I saw
smoke coming out of the chimney of a queerly-shaped house on the
"What is the name of it?" I asked.
The little old gentleman put his finger on his lips, and said, with a
"I couldn't tell you, ma'am. It's a secret; but, if you manage to land
there, you will soon know."
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About the Author
Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) was an American novelist and poet best known as the author of the novel Little Women and its sequels Little Men and Jo's Boys. Raised by her transcendentalist parents, she grew up among many of the well-known intellectuals of the day such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. Little Women is loosely based on Alcott's childhood experiences with her three sisters.