What Makes an Island Float

Very early in our experience of Popsipetel kindness we saw that if we were to get anything done at all, we would almost always have to do it secretly. The Doctor was so popular and loved by all that as soon as he showed his face at his door in the morning crowds of admirers, waiting patiently outside, flocked about him and followed him wherever he went. After his fire-making feat, this childlike people expected him, I think, to be continually doing magic; and they were determined not to miss a trick.

It was only with great difficulty that we escaped from the crowd the first morning and set out with Long Arrow to explore the island at our leisure.

In the interior we found that not only the plants and trees were suffering from the cold: the animal life was in even worse straits. Everywhere shivering birds were to be seen, their feathers all fluffed out, gathering together for flight to summer lands. And many lay dead upon the ground. Going down to the shore, we watched land-crabs in large numbers taking to the sea to find some better home. While away to the Southeast we could see many icebergs floating—a sign that we were now not far from the terrible region of the Antarctic.

As we were looking out to sea, we noticed our friends the porpoises jumping through the waves. The Doctor hailed them and they came inshore.

He asked them how far we were from the South Polar Continent.

About a hundred miles, they told him. And then they asked why he wanted to know.

“Because this floating island we are on,” said he, “is drifting southward all the time in a current. It’s an island that ordinarily belongs somewhere in the tropic zone—real sultry weather, sunstrokes and all that. If it doesn’t stop going southward pretty soon everything on it is going to perish.”