Fixed price, Essay databank or Custom writing. You select.


Author: London, Jack

Genre: Comedy

Year: 1876


ack London was a man of adventure, a man of action and only he could have truly conceived such a dynamic and challenging credo as this. And only he, with his great physical strength, his intense intellect, and his turbulent spirit, could have successfully lived up to it. He died when he was only forty, but he accomplished more in this short lifetime than most men could in several lifetimes.
Source: Jack London's Tales of Adventure New York: Doubleday, 1956, Introduction by and edited by Irving Shepard

"Born in San Francisco in 1876 Jack London grew up in a world witnessing the settlement of the last frontier. Gone forever were the proud days of the pioneer. The country was beset with economic and cultural changes that for decades were to play havoc with the traditional American way of life. It was a world in transition. The easygoing days of an economy dominated by agriculture were being replaced by the world of machine, the factory, and the financial titan. America in the late 1800s was a battleground for unscrupulous tycoons and robber barons. The Far West was torn apart by the struggles of the big railroad interests. Financial panics followed one after the other as the "Big Four" plotted and conspired to gain more money and power. The economy remained in a state of flux. And the people were the pawns.
“The memory of Jack London's early life was etched and scarred by the bitterness of poverty.”

The memory of Jack London's early life was etched and scarred by the bitterness of poverty. His family was continually on the move to find subsistence. At the age of ten the boy was on the street selling newspapers to supplement the familiy's meager income. For fourteen years thereafter — until his first writing success at twenty-four — life was one vicious, downward cycle of toil, escape, toil, escape, toil. He became a "work beast" laboring in a cannery, a jute mill, a laundry, and shoveling coal in a power station. He worked for ten cents an hour, thirteen to fourteen hours a day, six and seven days a week. Is it any wonder that he saw life in terms of man's unending struggle against a ruthless nature? Is it any wonder that he saw in socialism a chance for the salvation of others as lost as he had once been? Is it any wonder that he hungered for knowledge and success that would lift him above the degrading plain of poverty? Look, then, to the formative years for a clue to the life and works of Jack London. There you will see the birth of that indomitable spirit which could eventually lead him only to a philosphy of individualism. In his heart and sympathies Jack London was a socialist; he could not forget the sufferings of his past. But in his mind and actions he struggled — he was an individualist — he could not forget his achievements. Throughout his life he struggled valiantly to reconcile these conflicting philosophies.

While he did not live long enough to begin the autobiography his notes indicate he planned to write, we are fortunate that so much of his writing is autobiographical in nature.

Jack LondonOyster pirate, deep-sea sailor, hobo, Alaskan prospector, all these incidents in his life make fascinating reading. But most important of all Jack London's adventures was his struggle to become a writer. Without guidance, writing under almost impossible circumstances, for the most part educating himself, and faced with continual economic hardship, he stumbled and groped for three long years in the literary wilderness. In the beginning the rejection slips followed one another with monotonous regularity. Had he been a weaker man he might have succumbed. Certainly the odds were against him. But at the end of his three-year travail success was his. He had conquered his Everest; the world was at his feet!"

He became the highest paid, most popular novelist and short story writer of his day. He wrote passionately and prolifically about the great questions of life and death, the struggle to survive with dignity and integrity, and he wove these elemental ideas into stories of high adventure based on his own firsthand experiences at sea, or in Alaska, or in the fields and factories of California. As a result, his writing appealed not to the few, but to millions of people all around the world.

Along with his books and stories, however, London was widely known for his personal exploits. He was a celebrity, a colorful and controversial personality who was often in the news. Generally fun-loving and playful, he could also be combative, and was quick to side with the underdog against injustice or oppression of any kind. He was a fiery and eloquent public speaker, and much sought after as a lecturer on socialism and other economic and political topics. Despite his avowed socialism, most people considered him a living symbol of rugged individualism, a man whose fabulous success was due not to special favor of any kind, but to a combination of unusual mental ability and immense vitality.

Strikingly handsome, full of laughter, restless and courageous to a fault, always eager for adventure on land or sea, he was one of the most attractive and romantic figures of his time.

He ascribed his literary success largely to hard work – to "dig," as he put it. He tried never to miss his early morning 1,000-word writing stint, and between 1900 and 1916 he completed over fifty books, including both fiction and non-fiction, hundreds of short stories, and numerous articles on a wide range of topics. Several of the books and many of the short stories are classics of their kind, well thought of in critical terms and still popular around the world. Today, almost countless editions of his writings are available and some of them have been translated into as many as seventy different languages.

In addition to his daily writing stint and his commitments as a lecturer, London also carried on voluminous correspondence (he received some 10,000 letters per year), read proofs of his work as it went to press, negotiated with his various agents and publishers, and conducted other business such as overseeing construction of his custom-built sailing ship, the Snark (1906 - 1907), construction of Wolf House (1910 - 1913), and the operation of his beloved Beauty Ranch, which became a primary preoccupation after about 1911. Along with all this, he had to continually generate new ideas for books and stories and do the research so necessary to his writing.
“...he often tried to make do with no more than four or five hours of sleep at night.”

Somehow, he managed to do all these things and still find time to go swimming, horseback riding, or sailing on San Francisco Bay. He also spent 27 months cruising the South Pacific in the Snark, put in two tours of duty as an overseas war correspondent, traveled widely for pleasure, entertained a continual stream of guests whenever he was at home in Glen Ellen, and did his fair share of barroom socializing and debating. In order to fit all this living into the narrow confines of one lifetime, he often tried to make do with no more than four or five hours of sleep at night.

Jack was first attracted to the Sonoma Valley by its magnificent natural landscape, a unique combination of high hills, fields and streams, and a beautiful mixed forest of oaks, madrones, California buckeyes, Douglas Fir, and redwood trees. He didn't care that the farm was badly run-down. Instead, he reveled in its deep canyons and forests, its year-round springs and streams. "All I wanted," he said later, "was a quiet place in the country to write and loaf in and get out of Nature that something which we all need, only the most of us don't know it." Soon, however, he was busy buying farm equipment and livestock for his "mountain ranch." He also began work on a new barn and started planning a fine new house.

By the age of 29 he was already internationally famous for The Call of the Wild (1903), The Sea-Wolf (1904), and other literary and journalistic accomplishments. He was divorced from Bessie (Maddern), his first wife and the mother of his two daughters, Joan and Little Bess, and he had married Charmian (Kittredge).

ADVENTURE by Jack London


He was a very sick white man. He rode pick-a-back on a woolly-
headed, black-skinned savage, the lobes of whose ears had been
pierced and stretched until one had torn out, while the other
carried a circular block of carved wood three inches in diameter.
The torn ear had been pierced again, but this time not so
ambitiously, for the hole accommodated no more than a short clay
pipe. The man-horse was greasy and dirty, and naked save for an
exceedingly narrow and dirty loin-cloth; but the white man clung to
him closely and desperately. At times, from weakness, his head
drooped and rested on the woolly pate. At other times he lifted
his head and stared with swimming eyes at the cocoanut palms that
reeled and swung in the shimmering heat. He was clad in a thin
undershirt and a strip of cotton cloth, that wrapped about his
waist and descended to his knees. On his head was a battered
Stetson, known to the trade as a Baden-Powell. About his middle
was strapped a belt, which carried a large-calibred automatic
pistol and several spare clips, loaded and ready for quick work.

The rear was brought up by a black boy of fourteen or fifteen, who
carried medicine bottles, a pail of hot water, and various other
hospital appurtenances. They passed out of the compound through a
small wicker gate, and went on under the blazing sun, winding about
among new-planted cocoanuts that threw no shade. There was not a
breath of wind, and the superheated, stagnant air was heavy with
pestilence. From the direction they were going arose a wild
clamour, as of lost souls wailing and of men in torment. A long,
low shed showed ahead, grass-walled and grass-thatched, and it was
from here that the noise proceeded. There were shrieks and
screams, some unmistakably of grief, others unmistakably of
unendurable pain. As the white man drew closer he could hear a low
and continuous moaning and groaning. He shuddered at the thought
of entering, and for a moment was quite certain that he was going
to faint. For that most dreaded of Solomon Island scourges,
dysentery, had struck Berande plantation, and he was all alone to
cope with it. Also, he was afflicted himself.

By stooping close, still on man-back, he managed to pass through
the low doorway. He took a small bottle from his follower, and
sniffed strong ammonia to clear his senses for the ordeal. Then he
shouted, "Shut up!" and the clamour stilled. A raised platform of
forest slabs, six feet wide, with a slight pitch, extended the full
length of the shed. Alongside of it was a yard-wide run-way.
Stretched on the platform, side by side and crowded close, lay a
score of blacks. That they were low in the order of human life was
apparent at a glance. They were man-eaters. Their faces were
asymmetrical, bestial; their bodies were ugly and ape-like. They
wore nose-rings of clam-shell and turtle-shell, and from the ends
of their noses which were also pierced, projected horns of beads
strung on stiff wire. Their ears were pierced and distended to
accommodate wooden plugs and sticks, pipes, and all manner of
barbaric ornaments. Their faces and bodies were tattooed or
scarred in hideous designs. In their sickness they wore no
clothing, not even loin-cloths, though they retained their shell
armlets, their bead necklaces, and their leather belts, between
which and the skin were thrust naked knives. The bodies of many
were covered with horrible sores. Swarms of flies rose and
settled, or flew back and forth in clouds.

The white man went down the line, dosing each man with medicine.
To some he gave chlorodyne. He was forced to concentrate with all
his will in order to remember which of them could stand
ipecacuanha, and which of them were constitutionally unable to
retain that powerful drug. One who lay dead he ordered to be
carried out. He spoke in the sharp, peremptory manner of a man who
would take no nonsense, and the well men who obeyed his orders
scowled malignantly. One muttered deep in his chest as he took the
corpse by the feet. The white man exploded in speech and action.
It cost him a painful effort, but his arm shot out, landing a back-
hand blow on the black's mouth.

"What name you, Angara?" he shouted. "What for talk 'long you, eh?
I knock seven bells out of you, too much, quick!"

With the automatic swiftness of a wild animal the black gathered
himself to spring. The anger of a wild animal was in his eyes; but
he saw the white man's hand dropping to the pistol in his belt.
The spring was never made. The tensed body relaxed, and the black,
stooping over the corpse, helped carry it out. This time there was
no muttering.

"Swine!" the white man gritted out through his teeth at the whole
breed of Solomon Islanders.

He was very sick, this white man, as sick as the black men who lay
helpless about him, and whom he attended. He never knew, each time
he entered the festering shambles, whether or not he would be able
to complete the round. But he did know in large degree of
certainty that, if he ever fainted there in the midst of the
blacks, those who were able would be at his throat like ravening

Part way down the line a man was dying. He gave orders for his
removal as soon as he had breathed his last. A black stuck his
head inside the shed door, saying, -

"Four fella sick too much."

Fresh cases, still able to walk, they clustered about the
spokesman. The white man singled out the weakest, and put him in
the place just vacated by the corpse. Also, he indicated the next
weakest, telling him to wait for a place until the next man died.
Then, ordering one of the well men to take a squad from the field-
force and build a lean-to addition to the hospital, he continued
along the run-way, administering medicine and cracking jokes in
beche-de-mer English to cheer the sufferers. Now and again, from
the far end, a weird wail was raised. When he arrived there he
found the noise was emitted by a boy who was not sick. The white
man's wrath was immediate.

"What name you sing out alla time?" he demanded.

"Him fella my brother belong me," was the answer. "Him fella die
too much."

"You sing out, him fella brother belong you die too much," the
white man went on in threatening tones. "I cross too much along
you. What name you sing out, eh? You fat-head make um brother
belong you die dose up too much. You fella finish sing out,
savvee? You fella no finish sing out I make finish damn quick."

He threatened the wailer with his fist, and the black cowered down,
glaring at him with sullen eyes.

"Sing out no good little bit," the white man went on, more gently.
"You no sing out. You chase um fella fly. Too much strong fella
fly. You catch water, washee brother belong you; washee plenty too
much, bime bye brother belong you all right. Jump!" he shouted
fiercely at the end, his will penetrating the low intelligence of
the black with dynamic force that made him jump to the task of
brushing the loathsome swarms of flies away.

Again he rode out into the reeking heat. He clutched the black's
neck tightly, and drew a long breath; but the dead air seemed to
shrivel his lungs, and he dropped his head and dozed till the house
was reached. Every effort of will was torture, yet he was called
upon continually to make efforts of will. He gave the black he had
ridden a nip of trade-gin. Viaburi, the house-boy, brought him
corrosive sublimate and water, and he took a thorough antiseptic
wash. He dosed himself with chlorodyne, took his own pulse, smoked
a thermometer, and lay back on the couch with a suppressed groan.
It was mid-afternoon, and he had completed his third round that
day. He called the house-boy.

"Take um big fella look along Jessie," he commanded.

The boy carried the long telescope out on the veranda, and searched
the sea.

"One fella schooner long way little bit," he announced. "One fella

The white man gave a little gasp of delight.

"You make um Jessie, five sticks tobacco along you," he said.

There was silence for a time, during which he waited with eager

"Maybe Jessie, maybe other fella schooner," came the faltering

The man wormed to the edge of the couch, and slipped off to the
floor on his knees. By means of a chair he drew himself to his
feet. Still clinging to the chair, supporting most of his weight
on it, he shoved it to the door and out upon the veranda. The
sweat from the exertion streamed down his face and showed through
the undershirt across his shoulders. He managed to get into the
chair, where he panted in a state of collapse. In a few minutes he
roused himself. The boy held the end of the telescope against one
of the veranda scantlings, while the man gazed through it at the
sea. At last he picked up the white sails of the schooner and
studied them.

"No Jessie," he said very quietly. "That's the Malakula."

He changed his seat for a steamer reclining-chair. Three hundred
feet away the sea broke in a small surf upon the beach. To the
left he could see the white line of breakers that marked the bar of
the Balesuna River, and, beyond, the rugged outline of Savo Island.
Directly before him, across the twelve-mile channel, lay Florida
Island; and, farther to the right, dim in the distance, he could
make out portions of Malaita--the savage island, the abode of
murder, and robbery, and man-eating--the place from which his own
two hundred plantation hands had been recruited. Between him and
the beach was the cane-grass fence of the compound. The gate was
ajar, and he sent the house-boy to close it. Within the fence grew
a number of lofty cocoanut palms. On either side the path that led
to the gate stood two tall flagstaffs. They were reared on
artificial mounds of earth that were ten feet high. The base of
each staff was surrounded by short posts, painted white and
connected by heavy chains. The staffs themselves were like ships'
masts, with topmasts spliced on in true nautical fashion, with
shrouds, ratlines, gaffs, and flag-halyards. From the gaff of one,
two gay flags hung limply, one a checkerboard of blue and white
squares, the other a white pennant centred with a red disc. It was
the international code signal of distress.

On the far corner of the compound fence a hawk brooded. The man
watched it, and knew that it was sick. He wondered idly if it felt
as bad as he felt, and was feebly amused at the thought of kinship
that somehow penetrated his fancy. He roused himself to order the
great bell to be rung as a signal for the plantation hands to cease
work and go to their barracks. Then he mounted his man-horse and
made the last round of the day.

In the hospital were two new cases. To these he gave castor-oil.
He congratulated himself. It had been an easy day. Only three had
died. He inspected the copra-drying that had been going on, and
went through the barracks to see if there were any sick lying
hidden and defying his rule of segregation. Returned to the house,
he received the reports of the boss-boys and gave instructions for
next day's work. The boat's crew boss also he had in, to give
assurance, as was the custom nightly, that the whale-boats were
hauled up and padlocked. This was a most necessary precaution, for
the blacks were in a funk, and a whale-boat left lying on the beach
in the evening meant a loss of twenty blacks by morning. Since the
blacks were worth thirty dollars apiece, or less, according to how
much of their time had been worked out, Berande plantation could
ill afford the loss. Besides, whale-boats were not cheap in the
Solomons; and, also, the deaths were daily reducing the working
capital. Seven blacks had fled into the bush the week before, and
four had dragged themselves back, helpless from fever, with the
report that two more had been killed and kai-kai'd {1} by the
hospitable bushmen. The seventh man was still at large, and was
said to be working along the coast on the lookout to steal a canoe
and get away to his own island.

Viaburi brought two lighted lanterns to the white man for
inspection. He glanced at them and saw that they were burning
brightly with clear, broad flames, and nodded his head. One was
hoisted up to the gaff of the flagstaff, and the other was placed
on the wide veranda. They were the leading lights to the Berande
anchorage, and every night in the year they were so inspected and
hung out.

He rolled back on his couch with a sigh of relief. The day's work
was done. A rifle lay on the couch beside him. His revolver was
within reach of his hand. An hour passed, during which he did not
move. He lay in a state of half-slumber, half-coma. He became
suddenly alert. A creak on the back veranda was the cause. The
room was L-shaped; the corner in which stood his couch was dim, but
the hanging lamp in the main part of the room, over the billiard
table and just around the corner, so that it did not shine on him,
was burning brightly. Likewise the verandas were well lighted. He
waited without movement. The creaks were repeated, and he knew
several men lurked outside.

"What name?" he cried sharply.

The house, raised a dozen feet above the ground, shook on its pile
foundations to the rush of retreating footsteps.

"They're getting bold," he muttered. "Something will have to be

The full moon rose over Malaita and shone down on Berande. Nothing
stirred in the windless air. From the hospital still proceeded the
moaning of the sick. In the grass-thatched barracks nearly two
hundred woolly-headed man-eaters slept off the weariness of the
day's toil, though several lifted their heads to listen to the
curses of one who cursed the white man who never slept. On the
four verandas of the house the lanterns burned. Inside, between
rifle and revolver, the man himself moaned and tossed in intervals
of troubled sleep.


In the morning David Sheldon decided that he was worse. That he
was appreciably weaker there was no doubt, and there were other
symptoms that were unfavourable. He began his rounds looking for
trouble. He wanted trouble. In full health, the strained
situation would have been serious enough; but as it was, himself
growing helpless, something had to be done. The blacks were
getting more sullen and defiant, and the appearance of the men the
previous night on his veranda--one of the gravest of offences on
Berande--was ominous. Sooner or later they would get him, if he
did not get them first, if he did not once again sear on their dark
souls the flaming mastery of the white man.

He returned to the house disappointed. No opportunity had
presented itself of making an example of insolence or
insubordination--such as had occurred on every other day since the
sickness smote Berande. The fact that none had offended was in
itself suspicious. They were growing crafty. He regretted that he
had not waited the night before until the prowlers had entered.
Then he might have shot one or two and given the rest a new lesson,
writ in red, for them to con. It was one man against two hundred,
and he was horribly afraid of his sickness overpowering him and
leaving him at their mercy. He saw visions of the blacks taking
charge of the plantation, looting the store, burning the buildings,
and escaping to Malaita. Also, one gruesome vision he caught of
his own head, sun-dried and smoke-cured, ornamenting the canoe
house of a cannibal village. Either the Jessie would have to
arrive, or he would have to do something.

The bell had hardly rung, sending the labourers into the fields,
when Sheldon had a visitor. He had had the couch taken out on the
veranda, and he was lying on it when the canoes paddled in and
hauled out on the beach. Forty men, armed with spears, bows and
arrows, and war-clubs, gathered outside the gate of the compound,
but only one entered. They knew the law of Berande, as every
native knew the law of every white man's compound in all the
thousand miles of the far-flung Solomons. The one man who came up
the path, Sheldon recognized as Seelee, the chief of Balesuna
village. The savage did not mount the steps, but stood beneath and
talked to the white lord above.

Seelee was more intelligent than the average of his kind, but his
intelligence only emphasized the lowness of that kind. His eyes,
close together and small, advertised cruelty and craftiness. A
gee-string and a cartridge-belt were all the clothes he wore. The
carved pearl-shell ornament that hung from nose to chin and impeded
speech was purely ornamental, as were the holes in his ears mere
utilities for carrying pipe and tobacco. His broken-fanged teeth
were stained black by betel-nut, the juice of which he spat upon
the ground.

As he talked or listened, he made grimaces like a monkey. He said
yes by dropping his eyelids and thrusting his chin forward. He
spoke with childish arrogance strangely at variance with the
subservient position he occupied beneath the veranda. He, with his
many followers, was lord and master of Balesuna village. But the
white man, without followers, was lord and master of Berande--ay,
and on occasion, single-handed, had made himself lord and master of
Balesuna village as well. Seelee did not like to remember that
episode. It had occurred in the course of learning the nature of
white men and of learning to abominate them. He had once been
guilty of sheltering three runaways from Berande. They had given
him all they possessed in return for the shelter and for promised
aid in getting away to Malaita. This had given him a glimpse of a
profitable future, in which his village would serve as the one
depot on the underground railway between Berande and Malaita.

Unfortunately, he was ignorant of the ways of white men. This
particular white man educated him by arriving at his grass house in
the gray of dawn. In the first moment he had felt amused. He was
so perfectly safe in the midst of his village. But the next
moment, and before he could cry out, a pair of handcuffs on the
white man's knuckles had landed on his mouth, knocking the cry of
alarm back down his throat. Also, the white man's other fist had
caught him under the ear and left him without further interest in
what was happening. When he came to, he found himself in the white
man's whale-boat on the way to Berande. At Berande he had been
treated as one of no consequence, with handcuffs on hands and feet,
to say nothing of chains. When his tribe had returned the three
runaways, he was given his freedom. And finally, the terrible
white man had fined him and Balesuna village ten thousand
cocoanuts. After that he had sheltered no more runaway Malaita
men. Instead, he had gone into the business of catching them. It
was safer. Besides, he was paid one case of tobacco per head. But
if he ever got a chance at that white man, if he ever caught him
sick or stood at his back when he stumbled and fell on a bush-
trail--well, there would be a head that would fetch a price in

Sheldon was pleased with what Seelee told him. The seventh man of
the last batch of runaways had been caught and was even then at the
gate. He was brought in, heavy-featured and defiant, his arms
bound with cocoanut sennit, the dry blood still on his body from
the struggle with his captors.

"Me savvee you good fella, Seelee," Sheldon said, as the chief
gulped down a quarter-tumbler of raw trade-gin. "Fella boy belong
me you catch short time little bit. This fella boy strong fella
too much. I give you fella one case tobacco--my word, one case
tobacco. Then, you good fella along me, I give you three fathom
calico, one fella knife big fella too much."

The tobacco and trade goods were brought from the store-room by two
house-boys and turned over to the chief of Balesuna village, who
accepted the additional reward with a non-committal grunt and went
away down the path to his canoes. Under Sheldon's directions the
house-boys handcuffed the prisoner, by hands and feet, around one
of the pile supports of the house. At eleven o'clock, when the
labourers came in from the field, Sheldon had them assembled in the
compound before the veranda. Every able man was there, including
those who were helping about the hospital. Even the women and the
several pickaninnies of the plantation were lined up with the rest,
two deep--a horde of naked savages a trifle under two hundred
strong. In addition to their ornaments of bead and shell and bone,
their pierced ears and nostrils were burdened with safety-pins,
wire nails, metal hair-pins, rusty iron handles of cooking
utensils, and the patent keys for opening corned beef tins. Some
wore penknives clasped on their kinky locks for safety. On the
chest of one a china door-knob was suspended, on the chest of
another the brass wheel of an alarm clock.

Facing them, clinging to the railing of the veranda for support,
stood the sick white man. Any one of them could have knocked him
over with the blow of a little finger. Despite his firearms, the
gang could have rushed him and delivered that blow, when his head
and the plantation would have been theirs. Hatred and murder and
lust for revenge they possessed to overflowing. But one thing they
lacked, the thing that he possessed, the flame of mastery that
would not quench, that burned fiercely as ever in the disease-
wasted body, and that was ever ready to flare forth and scorch and
singe them with its ire.

"Narada! Billy!" Sheldon called sharply.

Two men slunk unwillingly forward and waited.

Sheldon gave the keys of the handcuffs to a house-boy, who went
under the house and loosed the prisoner.

"You fella Narada, you fella Billy, take um this fella boy along
tree and make fast, hands high up," was Sheldon's command.

While this was being done, slowly, amidst mutterings and
restlessness on the part of the onlookers, one of the house-boys
fetched a heavy-handled, heavy-lashed whip. Sheldon began a

"This fella Arunga, me cross along him too much. I no steal this
fella Arunga. I no gammon. I say, 'All right, you come along me
Berande, work three fella year.' He say, 'All right, me come along
you work three fella year.' He come. He catch plenty good fella
kai-kai, {2} plenty good fella money. What name he run away? Me
too much cross along him. I knock what name outa him fella. I pay
Seelee, big fella master along Balesuna, one case tobacco catch
that fella Arunga. All right. Arunga pay that fella case tobacco.
Six pounds that fella Arunga pay. Alle same one year more that
fella Arunga work Berande. All right. Now he catch ten fella whip
three times. You fella Billy catch whip, give that fella Arunga
ten fella three times. All fella boys look see, all fella Marys
{3} look see; bime bye, they like run away they think strong fella
too much, no run away. Billy, strong fella too much ten fella
three times."

The house-boy extended the whip to him, but Billy did not take it.
Sheldon waited quietly. The eyes of all the cannibals were fixed
upon him in doubt and fear and eagerness. It was the moment of
test, whereby the lone white man was to live or be lost.

"Ten fella three times, Billy," Sheldon said encouragingly, though
there was a certain metallic rasp in his voice.

Billy scowled, looked up and looked down, but did not move.


Sheldon's voice exploded like a pistol shot. The savage started
physically. Grins overspread the grotesque features of the
audience, and there was a sound of tittering.

"S'pose you like too much lash that fella Arunga, you take him
fella Tulagi," Billy said. "One fella government agent make plenty
lash. That um fella law. Me savvee um fella law."

It was the law, and Sheldon knew it. But he wanted to live this
day and the next day and not to die waiting for the law to operate
the next week or the week after.

"Too much talk along you!" he cried angrily. "What name eh? What

"Me savvee law," the savage repeated stubbornly.


Another man stepped forward in almost a sprightly way and glanced
insolently up. Sheldon was selecting the worst characters for the

"You fella Astoa, you fella Narada, tie up that fella Billy
alongside other fella same fella way."

"Strong fella tie," he cautioned them.

"You fella Astoa take that fella whip. Plenty strong big fella too
much ten fella three times. Savvee!"

"No," Astoa grunted.

Sheldon picked up the rifle that had leaned against the rail, and
cocked it.

"I know you, Astoa," he said calmly. "You work along Queensland
six years."

"Me fella missionary," the black interrupted with deliberate

"Queensland you stop jail one fella year. White fella master damn
fool no hang you. You too much bad fella. Queensland you stop
jail six months two fella time. Two fella time you steal. All
right, you missionary. You savvee one fella prayer?"

"Yes, me savvee prayer," was the reply.

"All right, then you pray now, short time little bit. You say one
fella prayer damn quick, then me kill you."

Sheldon held the rifle on him and waited. The black glanced around
at his fellows, but none moved to aid him. They were intent upon
the coming spectacle, staring fascinated at the white man with
death in his hands who stood alone on the great veranda. Sheldon
has won, and he knew it. Astoa changed his weight irresolutely
from one foot to the other. He looked at the white man, and saw
his eyes gleaming level along the sights.

"Astoa," Sheldon said, seizing the psychological moment, "I count
three fella time. Then I shoot you fella dead, good-bye, all
finish you."

And Sheldon knew that when he had counted three he would drop him
in his tracks. The black knew it, too. That was why Sheldon did
not have to do it, for when he had counted one, Astoa reached out
his hand and took the whip. And right well Astoa laid on the whip,
angered at his fellows for not supporting him and venting his anger
with every stroke. From the veranda Sheldon egged him on to strike
with strength, till the two triced savages screamed and howled
while the blood oozed down their backs. The lesson was being well
written in red.

When the last of the gang, including the two howling culprits, had
passed out through the compound gate, Sheldon sank down half-
fainting on his couch.

"You're a sick man," he groaned. "A sick man."

"But you can sleep at ease to-night," he added, half an hour later.


Two days passed, and Sheldon felt that he could not grow any weaker
and live, much less make his four daily rounds of the hospital.
The deaths were averaging four a day, and there were more new cases
than recoveries. The blacks were in a funk. Each one, when taken
sick, seemed to make every effort to die. Once down on their backs
they lacked the grit to make a struggle. They believed they were
going to die, and they did their best to vindicate that belief.
Even those that were well were sure that it was only a mater of
days when the sickness would catch them and carry them off. And
yet, believing this with absolute conviction, they somehow lacked
the nerve to rush the frail wraith of a man with the white skin and
escape from the charnel house by the whale-boats. They chose the
lingering death they were sure awaited them, rather than the
immediate death they were very sure would pounce upon them if they
went up against the master. That he never slept, they knew. That
he could not be conjured to death, they were equally sure--they had
tried it. And even the sickness that was sweeping them off could
not kill him.

With the whipping in the compound, discipline had improved. They
cringed under the iron hand of the white man. They gave their
scowls or malignant looks with averted faces or when his back was
turned. They saved their mutterings for the barracks at night,
where he could not hear. And there were no more runaways and no
more night-prowlers on the veranda.

Dawn of the third day after the whipping brought the Jessie's white
sails in sight. Eight miles away, it was not till two in the
afternoon that the light air-fans enabled her to drop anchor a
quarter of a mile off the shore. The sight of her gave Sheldon
fresh courage, and the tedious hours of waiting did not irk him.
He gave his orders to the boss-boys and made his regular trips to
the hospital. Nothing mattered now. His troubles were at an end.
He could lie down and take care of himself and proceed to get well.
The Jessie had arrived. His partner was on board, vigorous and
hearty from six weeks' recruiting on Malaita. He could take charge
now, and all would be well with Berande.

Sheldon lay in the steamer-chair and watched the Jessie's whale-
boat pull in for the beach. He wondered why only three sweeps were
pulling, and he wondered still more when, beached, there was so
much delay in getting out of the boat. Then he understood. The
three blacks who had been pulling started up the beach with a
stretcher on their shoulders. A white man, whom he recognized as
the Jessie's captain, walked in front and opened the gate, then
dropped behind to close it. Sheldon knew that it was Hughie
Drummond who lay in the stretcher, and a mist came before his eyes.
He felt an overwhelming desire to die. The disappointment was too
great. In his own state of terrible weakness he felt that it was
impossible to go on with his task of holding Berande plantation
tight-gripped in his fist. Then the will of him flamed up again,
and he directed the blacks to lay the stretcher beside him on the
floor. Hughie Drummond, whom he had last seen in health, was an
emaciated skeleton. His closed eyes were deep-sunken. The
shrivelled lips had fallen away from the teeth, and the cheek-bones
seemed bursting through the skin. Sheldon sent a house-boy for his
thermometer and glanced questioningly at the captain.

"Black-water fever," the captain said. "He's been like this for
six days, unconscious. And we've got dysentery on board. What's
the matter with you?"

"I'm burying four a day," Sheldon answered, as he bent over from
the steamer-chair and inserted the thermometer under his partner's

Captain Oleson swore blasphemously, and sent a house-boy to bring
whisky and soda. Sheldon glanced at the thermometer.

"One hundred and seven," he said. "Poor Hughie."

Captain Oleson offered him some whisky.

"Couldn't think of it--perforation, you know," Sheldon said.

He sent for a boss-boy and ordered a grave to be dug, also some of
the packing-cases to be knocked together into a coffin. The blacks
did not get coffins. They were buried as they died, being carted
on a sheet of galvanized iron, in their nakedness, from the
hospital to the hole in the ground. Having given the orders,
Sheldon lay back in his chair with closed eyes.

"It's ben fair hell, sir," Captain Oleson began, then broke off to
help himself to more whisky. "It's ben fair hell, Mr. Sheldon, I
tell you. Contrary winds and calms. We've ben driftin' all about
the shop for ten days. There's ten thousand sharks following us
for the tucker we've ben throwin' over to them. They was snappin'
at the oars when we started to come ashore. I wisht to God a
nor'wester'd come along an' blow the Solomons clean to hell."

"We got it from the water--water from Owga creek. Filled my casks
with it. How was we to know? I've filled there before an' it was
all right. We had sixty recruits-full up; and my crew of fifteen.
We've ben buryin' them day an' night. The beggars won't live, damn
them! They die out of spite. Only three of my crew left on its
legs. Five more down. Seven dead. Oh, hell! What's the good of

"How many recruits left?" Sheldon asked.

"Lost half. Thirty left. Twenty down, and ten tottering around."

Sheldon sighed.

"That means another addition to the hospital. We've got to get
them ashore somehow.--Viaburi! Hey, you, Viaburi, ring big fella
bell strong fella too much."

The hands, called in from the fields at that unwonted hour, were
split into detachments. Some were sent into the woods to cut
timber for house-beams, others to cutting cane-grass for thatching,
and forty of them lifted a whale-boat above their heads and carried
it down to the sea. Sheldon had gritted his teeth, pulled his
collapsing soul together, and taken Berande plantation into his
fist once more.

"Have you seen the barometer?" Captain Oleson asked, pausing at the
bottom of the steps on his way to oversee the disembarkation of the

"No," Sheldon answered. "Is it down?"

"It's going down."

"Then you'd better sleep aboard to-night," was Sheldon's judgment.
"Never mind the funeral. I'll see to poor Hughie."

"A nigger was kicking the bucket when I dropped anchor."

The captain made the statement as a simple fact, but obviously
waited for a suggestion. The other felt a sudden wave of
irritation rush through him.

"Dump him over," he cried. "Great God, man! don't you think I've
got enough graves ashore?"

"I just wanted to know, that was all," the captain answered, in no
wise offended.

Sheldon regretted his childishness.

"Oh, Captain Oleson," he called. "If you can see your way to it,
come ashore to-morrow and lend me a hand. If you can't, send the

"Right O. I'll come myself. Mr. Johnson's dead, sir. I forgot to
tell you--three days ago."

Sheldon watched the Jessie's captain go down the path, with waving
arms and loud curses calling upon God to sink the Solomons. Next,
Sheldon noted the Jessie rolling lazily on the glassy swell, and
beyond, in the north-west, high over Florida Island, an alpine
chain of dark-massed clouds. Then he turned to his partner,
calling for boys to carry him into the house. But Hughie Drummond
had reached the end. His breathing was imperceptible. By mere
touch, Sheldon could ascertain that the dying man's temperature was
going down. It must have been going down when the thermometer
registered one hundred and seven. He had burned out. Sheldon
knelt beside him, the house-boys grouped around, their white
singlets and loin-cloths peculiarly at variance with their dark
skins and savage countenances, their huge ear-plugs and carved and
glistening nose-rings. Sheldon tottered to his feet at last, and
half-fell into the steamer-chair. Oppressive as the heat had been,
it was now even more oppressive. It was difficult to breathe. He
panted for air. The faces and naked arms of the house-boys were
beaded with sweat.

"Marster," one of them ventured, "big fella wind he come, strong
fella too much."

Sheldon nodded his head but did not look. Much as he had loved
Hughie Drummond, his death, and the funeral it entailed, seemed an
intolerable burden to add to what he was already sinking under. He
had a feeling--nay, it was a certitude--that all he had to do was
to shut his eyes and let go, and that he would die, sink into
immensity of rest. He knew it; it was very simple. All he had to
do was close his eyes and let go; for he had reached the stage
where he lived by will alone. His weary body seemed torn by the
oncoming pangs of dissolution. He was a fool to hang on. He had
died a score of deaths already, and what was the use of prolonging
it to two-score deaths before he really died. Not only was he not
afraid to die, but he desired to die. His weary flesh and weary
spirit desired it, and why should the flame of him not go utterly

But his mind that could will life or death, still pulsed on. He
saw the two whale-boats land on the beach, and the sick, on
stretchers or pick-a-back, groaning and wailing, go by in
lugubrious procession. He saw the wind making on the clouded
horizon, and thought of the sick in the hospital. Here was
something waiting his hand to be done, and it was not in his nature
to lie down and sleep, or die, when any task remained undone.

The boss-boys were called and given their orders to rope down the
hospital with its two additions. He remembered the spare anchor-
chain, new and black-painted, that hung under the house suspended
from the floor-beams, and ordered it to be used on the hospital as
well. Other boys brought the coffin, a grotesque patchwork of
packing-cases, and under his directions they laid Hughie Drummond
in it. Half a dozen boys carried it down the beach, while he rode
on the back of another, his arms around the black's neck, one hand
clutching a prayer-book.

While he read the service, the blacks gazed apprehensively at the
dark line on the water, above which rolled and tumbled the racing
clouds. The first breath of the wind, faint and silken, tonic with
life, fanned through his dry-baked body as he finished reading.
Then came the second breath of the wind, an angry gust, as the
shovels worked rapidly, filling in the sand. So heavy was the gust
that Sheldon, still on his feet, seized hold of his man-horse to
escape being blown away. The Jessie was blotted out, and a strange
ominous sound arose as multitudinous wavelets struck foaming on the
beach. It was like the bubbling of some colossal cauldron. From
all about could be heard the dull thudding of falling cocoanuts.
The tall, delicate-trunked trees twisted and snapped about like
whip-lashes. The air seemed filled with their flying leaves, any
one of which, stem-on could brain a man. Then came the rain, a
deluge, a straight, horizontal sheet that poured along like a
river, defying gravitation. The black, with Sheldon mounted on
him, plunged ahead into the thick of it, stooping far forward and
low to the ground to avoid being toppled over backward.

"'He's sleeping out and far to-night,'" Sheldon quoted, as he
thought of the dead man in the sand and the rainwater trickling
down upon the cold clay.

So they fought their way back up the beach. The other blacks
caught hold of the man-horse and pulled and tugged. There were
among them those whose fondest desire was to drag the rider in the
sand and spring upon him and mash him into repulsive nothingness.
But the automatic pistol in his belt with its rattling, quick-
dealing death, and the automatic, death-defying spirit in the man
himself, made them refrain and buckle down to the task of hauling
him to safety through the storm.

Wet through and exhausted, he was nevertheless surprised at the
ease with which he got into a change of clothing. Though he was
fearfully weak, he found himself actually feeling better. The
disease had spent itself, and the mend had begun.

"Now if I don't get the fever," he said aloud, and at the same
moment resolved to go to taking quinine as soon as he was strong
enough to dare.

He crawled out on the veranda. The rain had ceased, but the wind,
which had dwindled to a half-gale, was increasing. A big sea had
sprung up, and the mile-long breakers, curling up to the over-fall
two hundred yards from shore, were crashing on the beach. The
Jessie was plunging madly to two anchors, and every second or third
sea broke clear over her bow. Two flags were stiffly undulating
from the halyards like squares of flexible sheet-iron. One was
blue, the other red. He knew their meaning in the Berande private
code--"What are your instructions? Shall I attempt to land boat?"
Tacked on the wall, between the signal locker and the billiard
rules, was the code itself, by which he verified the signal before
making answer. On the flagstaff gaff a boy hoisted a white flag
over a red, which stood for--"Run to Neal Island for shelter."

That Captain Oleson had been expecting this signal was apparent by
the celerity with which the shackles were knocked out of both
anchor-chains. He slipped his anchors, leaving them buoyed to be
picked up in better weather. The Jessie swung off under her full
staysail, then the foresail, double-reefed, was run up. She was
away like a racehorse, clearing Balesuna Shoal with half a cable-
length to spare. Just before she rounded the point she was
swallowed up in a terrific squall that far out-blew the first.

All that night, while squall after squall smote Berande, uprooting
trees, overthrowing copra-sheds, and rocking the house on its tall
piles, Sheldon slept. He was unaware of the commotion. He never
wakened. Nor did he change his position or dream. He awoke, a new
man. Furthermore, he was hungry. It was over a week since food
had passed his lips. He drank a glass of condensed cream, thinned
with water, and by ten o'clock he dared to take a cup of beef-tea.
He was cheered, also, by the situation in the hospital. Despite
the storm there had been but one death, and there was only one
fresh case, while half a dozen boys crawled weakly away to the
barracks. He wondered if it was the wind that was blowing the
disease away and cleansing the pestilential land.

By eleven a messenger arrived from Balesuna village, dispatched by
Seelee. The Jessie had gone ashore half-way between the village
and Neal Island. It was not till nightfall that two of the crew
arrived, reporting the drowning of Captain Oleson and of the one
remaining boy. As for the Jessie, from what they told him Sheldon
could not but conclude that she was a total loss. Further to
hearten him, he was taken by a shivering fit. In half an hour he
was burning up. And he knew that at least another day must pass
before he could undertake even the smallest dose of quinine. He
crawled under a heap of blankets, and a little later found himself
laughing aloud. He had surely reached the limit of disaster.
Barring earthquake or tidal-wave, the worst had already befallen
him. The Flibberty-Gibbet was certainly safe in Mboli Pass. Since
nothing worse could happen, things simply had to mend. So it was,
shivering under his blankets, that he laughed, until the house-
boys, with heads together, marvelled at the devils that were in


By the second day of the northwester, Sheldon was in collapse from
his fever. It had taken an unfair advantage of his weak state, and
though it was only ordinary malarial fever, in forty-eight hours it
had run him as low as ten days of fever would have done when he was
in condition. But the dysentery had been swept away from Berande.
A score of convalescents lingered in the hospital, but they were
improving hourly. There had been but one more death--that of the
man whose brother had wailed over him instead of brushing the flies

On the morning of the fourth day of his fever, Sheldon lay on the
veranda, gazing dimly out over the raging ocean. The wind was
falling, but a mighty sea was still thundering in on Berande beach,
the flying spray reaching in as far as the flagstaff mounds, the
foaming wash creaming against the gate-posts. He had taken thirty
grains of quinine, and the drug was buzzing in his ears like a nest
of hornets, making his hands and knees tremble, and causing a
sickening palpitation of the stomach. Once, opening his eyes, he
saw what he took to be an hallucination. Not far out, and coming
in across the Jessie's anchorage, he saw a whale-boat's nose thrust
skyward on a smoky crest and disappear naturally, as an actual
whale-boat's nose should disappear, as it slid down the back of the
sea. He knew that no whale-boat should be out there, and he was
quite certain no men in the Solomons were mad enough to be abroad
in such a storm.

But the hallucination persisted. A minute later, chancing to open
his eyes, he saw the whale-boat, full length, and saw right into it
as it rose on the face of a wave. He saw six sweeps at work, and
in the stern, clearly outlined against the overhanging wall of
white, a man who stood erect, gigantic, swaying with his weight on
the steering-sweep. This he saw, and an eighth man who crouched in
the bow and gazed shoreward. But what startled Sheldon was the
sight of a woman in the stern-sheets, between the stroke-oar and
the steersman. A woman she was, for a braid of her hair was
flying, and she was just in the act of recapturing it and stowing
it away beneath a hat that for all the world was like his own

The boat disappeared behind the wave, and rose into view on the
face of the following one. Again he looked into it. The men were
dark-skinned, and larger than Solomon Islanders, but the woman, he
could plainly see, was white. Who she was, and what she was doing
there, were thoughts that drifted vaguely through his
consciousness. He was too sick to be vitally interested, and,
besides, he had a half feeling that it was all a dream; but he
noted that the men were resting on their sweeps, while the woman
and the steersman were intently watching the run of seas behind

"Good boatmen," was Sheldon's verdict, as he saw the boat leap
forward on the face of a huge breaker, the sweeps plying swiftly to
keep her on that front of the moving mountain of water that raced
madly for the shore. It was well done. Part full of water, the
boat was flung upon the beach, the men springing out and dragging
its nose to the gate-posts. Sheldon had called vainly to the
house-boys, who, at the moment, were dosing the remaining patients
in the hospital. He knew he was unable to rise up and go down the
path to meet the newcomers, so he lay back in the steamer-chair,
and watched for ages while they cared for the boat. The woman
stood to one side, her hand resting on the gate. Occasionally
surges of sea water washed over her feet, which he could see were
encased in rubber sea-boots. She scrutinized the house sharply,
and for some time she gazed at him steadily. At last, speaking to
two of the men, who turned and followed her, she started up the

Sheldon attempted to rise, got half up out of his chair, and fell
back helplessly. He was surprised at the size of the men, who
loomed like giants behind her. Both were six-footers, and they
were heavy in proportion. He had never seen islanders like them.
They were not black like the Solomon Islanders, but light brown;
and their features were larger, more regular, and even handsome.

The woman--or girl, rather, he decided--walked along the veranda
toward him. The two men waited at the head of the steps, watching
curiously. The girl was angry; he could see that. Her gray eyes
were flashing, and her lips were quivering. That she had a temper,
was his thought. But the eyes were striking. He decided that they
were not gray after all, or, at least, not all gray. They were
large and wide apart, and they looked at him from under level
brows. Her face was cameo-like, so clear cut was it. There were
other striking things about her--the cowboy Stetson hat, the heavy
braids of brown hair, and the long-barrelled 38 Colt's revolver
that hung in its holster on her hip.

"Pretty hospitality, I must say," was her greeting, "letting
strangers sink or swim in your front yard."

"I--I beg your pardon," he stammered, by a supreme effort dragging
himself to his feet.

His legs wobbled under him, and with a suffocating sensation he
began sinking to the floor. He was aware of a feeble gratification
as he saw solicitude leap into her eyes; then blackness smote him,
and at the moment of smiting him his thought was that at last, and
for the first time in his life, he had fainted.

The ringing of the big bell aroused him. He opened his eyes and
found that he was on the couch indoors. A glance at the clock told
him that it was six, and from the direction the sun's rays streamed
into the room he knew that it was morning. At first he puzzled
over something untoward he was sure had happened. Then on the wall
he saw a Stetson hat hanging, and beneath it a full cartridge-belt
and a long-barrelled 38 Colt's revolver. The slender girth of the
belt told its feminine story, and he remembered the whale-boat of
the day before and the gray eyes that flashed beneath the level
brows. She it must have been who had just rung the bell. The
cares of the plantation rushed upon him, and he sat up in bed,
clutching at the wall for support as the mosquito screen lurched
dizzily around him. He was still sitting there, holding on, with
eyes closed, striving to master his giddiness, when he heard her

"You'll lie right down again, sir," she said.

It was sharply imperative, a voice used to command. At the same
time one hand pressed him back toward the pillow while the other
caught him from behind and eased him down.

"You've been unconscious for twenty-four hours now," she went on,
"and I have taken charge. When I say the word you'll get up, and
not until then. Now, what medicine do you take?--quinine? Here
are ten grains. That's right. You'll make a good patient."

"My dear madame," he began.

"You musn't speak," she interrupted, "that is, in protest.
Otherwise, you can talk."

"But the plantation--"

"A dead man is of no use on a plantation. Don't you want to know
about ME? My vanity is hurt. Here am I, just through my first
shipwreck; and here are you, not the least bit curious, talking
about your miserable plantation. Can't you see that I am just
bursting to tell somebody, anybody, about my shipwreck?"

He smiled; it was the first time in weeks. And he smiled, not so
much at what she said, as at the way she said it--the whimsical
expression of her face, the laughter in her eyes, and the several
tiny lines of humour that drew in at the corners. He was curiously
wondering as to what her age was, as he said aloud:

"Yes, tell me, please."

"That I will not--not now," she retorted, with a toss of the head.
"I'll find somebody to tell my story to who does not have to be
asked. Also, I want information. I managed to find out what time
to ring the bell to turn the hands to, and that is about all. I
don't understand the ridiculous speech of your people. What time
do they knock off?"

"At eleven--go on again at one."

"That will do, thank you. And now, where do you keep the key to
the provisions? I want to feed my men."

"Your men!" he gasped. "On tinned goods! No, no. Let them go out
and eat with my boys."

Her eyes flashed as on the day before, and he saw again the
imperative expression on her face.

"That I won't; my men are MEN. I've been out to your miserable
barracks and watched them eat. Faugh! Potatoes! Nothing but
potatoes! No salt! Nothing! Only potatoes! I may have been
mistaken, but I thought I understood them to say that that was all
they ever got to eat. Two meals a day and every day in the week?"

He nodded.

"Well, my men wouldn't stand that for a single day, much less a
whole week. Where is the key?"

"Hanging on that clothes-hook under the clock."

He gave it easily enough, but as she was reaching down the key she
heard him say:

"Fancy niggers and tinned provisions."

This time she really was angry. The blood was in her cheeks as she
turned on him.

"My men are not niggers. The sooner you understand that the better
for our acquaintance. As for the tinned goods, I'll pay for all
they eat. Please don't worry about that. Worry is not good for
you in your condition. And I won't stay any longer than I have to-
-just long enough to get you on your feet, and not go away with the
feeling of having deserted a white man."

"You're American, aren't you?" he asked quietly.

The question disconcerted her for the moment.

"Yes," she vouchsafed, with a defiant look. "Why?"

"Nothing. I merely thought so."

"Anything further?"

He shook his head.

"Why?" he asked.

"Oh, nothing. I thought you might have something pleasant to say."

"My name is Sheldon, David Sheldon," he said, with direct
relevance, holding out a thin hand.

Her hand started out impulsively, then checked. "My name is
Lackland, Joan Lackland." The hand went out. "And let us be

"It could not be otherwise--" he began lamely.

"And I can feed my men all the tinned goods I want?" she rushed on.

"Till the cows come home," he answered, attempting her own
lightness, then adding, "that is, to Berande. You see we don't
have any cows at Berande."

She fixed him coldly with her eyes.

"Is that a joke?" she demanded.

"I really don't know--I--I thought it was, but then, you see, I'm

"You're English, aren't you?" was her next query.

Adventure Details:

Adventure details is not present. Please wait until Adventure details is entered, or register as a contributor to add one.