II. "Striking It Rich"

H. de VERE STACPOOLE September 15 1923


II. "Striking It Rich"

H. de VERE STACPOOLE September 15 1923


II. "Striking It Rich"


I. WHAT would you do were you to find yourself on a sixty ton ketch off the middle coast of Chile with a crew of six Kanakas, less than ten days provisions on board, no money to speak of, and a healthy and lively dread of touching at a Chile port?

That was the exact position of Mr. William Harman and his friend Bud Davis one bright morning on board the ketch "Douro" and thirsty miles nor'west of Buenodiaz-about.

The "Douro' was heading west nor'west, the morning was perfect, the Pacific calm, and Billy seated on the hatch cover was expressing the opinion that running straight was the best course to adopt in a world where reefs were frequent and sharks abundant.

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and cargo worth ten thousand dollars if she was piled, let alone ridin at her moorings in Buenodiaz harbour.”

"Well," said Davis, “you needn’t shout it. You were in it as well as me. 1 guess we were both suckers, but we haven’t come off empty handed, we’ve got a ship under our feet, but we’re in a bad way I’ll admit. Can't you see the game that’s been played on us? This hooker is worth four thousand dollars any day in the week, they’ve let us run off with her, they set her as a trap for us, but they’ll want her back. If we put into any Chile port, we’ll be sure nabbed and put to work in the salt mines while those blighters will get their ship back.”

"Sure,” said Harman, “but we ain’t goin’ to.”

“How d’ye mean?”

“We ain’t goin’ to put into no Chile port,” Davis sighed, rose, went below and fetched up the top of one of the gold boxes, then with a stump of pencil he drew a rough map of South America, indicating the appalling coast line of Chile whilst the ingenuous Harman looked on open,mouthed and open-eyed.

"There you are, ’ said the map maker, “a hundred thousand miles long and nothing but seaboard and there we are—nothing but the Horn to the South and Bolivia to the north and the Bolivians are hand in fist with the Chilians and moreover there’s sure to be gun-boats out to look for us. That’s why I’m holding on west; we’ve got to get to sea ana trust in Providence.”

“Well,” said the ingenuous Harman, “I reckon if Providence is our standby and if it made Chile same’s your map shows her we’re done for, there ain’t no sense in it, no, sir, there ain’t no sense in a country all foreshore stringed out like that, with scarce room for a battin’ machine, and them yellow bellied Bolivians at one end of it and the Horn at the other. It ain’t playin’ it fair on a

man, it ain’t more nor less than a trap, that’s what I call it, it ain’t more nor less than—”

“Oh, shut up,” said Davis, “wasting your wind. We’re in it and we’ve got to get out—Now I’ve just given you our position, we’re running near due west into open sea, with only ten days’ grub, nothing to strike but Easter Island and the mail line from ’Frisco to Montevideo. We’ve the chance to pick up grub from a ship; failing that, either we’ll eat the Kanakas or the Kanakas will eat us. I’m not funning. How do you take it? Shall us hold on or push down to Valparaiso and take our gruel?”

“What did you say those mines were?” asked Harman.

“Which mines?”

“Those mines the Chile blighters put chaps like us to work in.”

“Salt mines.”

Mr. Harman meditated for a moment. “Well,” said he at last, “I reckon I’ll take my chance on the Kanakas.”


'T'HE Douro had nothing about her of any use for A navigation, but the rudder and the compass in the binnacle and the tell-tale compass fixed in the roof of the saloon. Périra, when he had baited her as a trap for the unfortunates to run away with had left nothing of value. He and the beauties working with him reckoned to get her back no doubt as Davis had indicated, but they knew that the fox sometimes manages to escape, carrying the trap with him, so they left nothing to grieve about except the hull, sticks, canvas, bunk bedding and a few tin plates and cooking implements.

So she was sailing pretty blind with nothing to smell at but the North Pole to use Davis' words as he spat over the side at the leaping blue sea, whilst Harman, leaning beside him on the rail, concurred.

The one bright spot in the whole position was the thousand dollars or so of the Arcnja's ship money still safe in Davis’ pocket.

It proved its worth some six days later when close on the San Francisco Montevideo mail line, they flagged a big freighter and got provisions enough to last them for a month, then “more feeling than feet under them" to use Harman’s expression, they pushed along protected by the gods of Marco Polo and the early navigators untrusting in a compass that might be untrustable through blazing days and nights of stars, smoking—they had got tobacco

stars, smoking—they got from the freighter—yarning, lazying and putting their faith in luck.

“Anyhow,” said the philosophic Harman, “we ain’t got no damn chronometer to be slippin' cogs or goin’ wrong, nor no damn glass to be floppin’ about and frightenin' a chap’s gizzard out of him with indications of cyclones and such, nor no charts to be thumbin' nor no sextan' to be squintin' a: the sun with. I tell you. Bud. 1 ain’t never felt freer than this. 1 reckon it’s the same with money. Come to think of it, money's no catch when all's said and done with, what between banks bustin' and sharks layin' for a chap, not to speak of women and sich, and sore heads an’ brown tongues in the mornin'. money buys trouble, that's all I've ever seen of it and it's the same all through.''

“Well, that wasn't your song on the beach at Papaleóte," said Davis, "and seems to me you weren't backward in making a grab for that gold at Buenodiaz."

“Maybe 1 wasn't." replied the other, and the conversation wilted whilst on the tepid wind from the dark blue sea i ame the sound of the bow wash answered by the lazy creak of block and cordage.

NO LONGER steering west.

but northwards towards the line, the Douro brought them nights of more velvety darkness and more tremendous stars, seas more impossibly blue, till one dawn that looked like a flock of red flamigoes escaping across an horizon of boiling gold. Taute, on the look-out, cried: “Land!” and the great sea leaping up astern stripped the curtain away with a laugh and shewed them cocoanut trees beyond a broken sea,and beyond the cocoanut trees a mist-blue stillness incredibly wonderful and beautiful, till in a flash, vagueness vanishing, a great lagoon blazed out with the gulls circling above it gold and rose and marble-flake white.

Before this miracle Harman stood unimpressed.

“We’d have been butt into that damn thing in another hour if the fog hadn’t lifted,” said he, “unless maybe the noise of the reef would have fended us off—hark to it.”

They could hear it coming up against the wind, a long low rumble like the sound of a far-off train, and now as the Douro drew in they could see the foam spouting as the flood tide raced through the passage broad before them and shewing the vast harbour of the lagoon.

“The opening seems all right.” said Davis.

“Deep enough to float a battleship,” replied the other, “and no sign of rocks in it. Shove her in.”

The Douro did not require any shoving; driven by the wind and tide she came through the break like a gull and as the great lagoon spread before them they could see the whole vast inner beach with one sweep of the eye.

IT WAS an oval shaped atoll, a pond maybe four miles from rim to rim at its broadest part, heavy here and there with groves of palm and jack-fruit trees and shewing a village of grass roofed houses by the trees on the northern beach where on the blinding white sands canoes were lying and from which a boat was just putting off.

“They’ve sighted us,” said Davis.

“Seems so,” replied Harman, running forward to superintend the fellows who were getting the anchor ready whilst the Douro shaking the wind out of her sails lost way and the hook fell in sixfathom water, the rumble of the chain coming back in faintest echoes from the painted shore.

The boat drew on. It was manned by Kanakas naked as Noah, and steered by a white man—a huge man with a broad and red

“Where the blazes have you blown in from?” asked the stranger.


“/GENTLEMEN,” said Clayton, for Clayton was his 'J name and they were all down below sampling a bottle of rum wangled by the ingenuous Harman out of the purser of the freighter. “Gentlemen, I’m not divin’ into your business, a ship in ballast without charts or chronometer not knowing where she is and not willin’ to say where she comes from may be on the square and may be not.”

“We ain’t,” said Harman bluntly.

“That bein’ so,” said Clayton, quite unmoved, “we can deal without circumluting round the show and get to the point which is this. I’m wantin’ your ship.”

“Spread yourself,” said Davis, "and tip the bottle.” Clayton obeyed.

“I’m willin’ to buy her of you,” said he, “lock, stock, barrel and Kanakas, no questions asked, no questions answered, only terms.”

“What’s your terms?” asked Harman.

Clayton raised his head. The wind had shifted and blowing through the open port it brought with it a faint, awful, subtle, utterly undescribable perfume. Far above the vulgar world of stenches, almost psychic, it floated around them whilst Harman spat and Davis considered the stranger attentively and anew.

“Oysters,” said Davis.

and bulbous face who came on board leg over rail without a word of greeting, gazed around him with a pair of protruding light blue eyes and then finding his voice, addressed Harman. “Rotting on the outer beach,” said Clayton. “That’s my meaning and my terms. Gentlemen, if you ain’t plum fools, the smell of them oysters will be as a leadin’ light to bring you a fortune as big as my own.”

“Open the can,” said Harman.

“Which I will,” replied the other. “I’m plain sailin’ Jim I am, and I don’t want to beat round no bushes and it’s just this way, gents. The hull of this lagoon is a virgin oyster patch full of virgin oysters, pearl breedin’ and sound, with no foot and mouth disease to them. OolongJaval is the Kanaka name of the atoll and it’s on no charts ; no sir, it’s a sealed lagoon and I struck it two years ago runnin’ from Sydney to Valparaiso, master of the Sea Hawk with a Chink crew and a cargo of chow truck, put in here for water, spotted the oyster shop and kept my head shut. Found orders at Valparaiso to ballast and get on to Callao, but I didn’t go to no Callao. I cut loose, fired the mate as a drunk and incapable, which he was, laid out the ship’s money on divin’ dresses and a pump, hawked back here, landed the equipment and started in on the pearling.”

“And the Chinks?” asked Harman.

“Cornin’ to them; they curled up and died of eatin’ the lagoon fish in the poisonous season, couldn't keep them off it, you know what Chinks are; and as for the hooker, why sinkin’ gets rid of a lot of trouble, and I took her outside the reef and drilled her.”

"Well, you are a one,” said Harman, shocked, yet intrigued, and vaguely admiring.

“I don’t say that I’m not,” replied Clayton. "I reckon we’re all in the same boat and plain speaking is best among gentlemen, but cuttin' all that, let’s get down to tin-tacks. I’ve been working a year and I haven't skinned more than a patch of the beds; all the same I’ve made my pile and I want to enjoy it. I want to have my fun and if you're willing I’ll swap the location and the mining rights for this hooker and her crew. I want to get home, ar.d home’s Kusai Island, up north in the Marshalls—and that's what's waitin’ for me and has been waitin’ for me three years.”

He took a photograph from his pocket and handed it to the others. It was the photo of a Kanaka girl under a palm tree on a blazing beach.

“Oh Lord, a petticoat!” said Harman in a doleful voice at this sight of ill omen. “A petticoat!” “There ain’t no petticoat about her,” said Clayton—as indeed there was not—“unless the missionaries have been gettin’ at her with their tom foolery. Oti is her name, and there she sits waitin’ for me. which if she isn’t and has gone and got spliced, I reckon I’ll bust her husband. Well, gents, which is it to be for you, floatin’ round loose in this cockroach trap or a hundred thousand dollars’ worth of pearls to be took for the working?”

“And how are we to get away supposing we stick here ar.d pearl?” asked Davis.

“That’s not for me to say,” replied Clayton, “something will blow along most likely and take you off or you can rig up a canoe and make for the Paramotus. I’m just offerin’ the deal which many a man would jump at, more especial as this old ketch of yours seems to smell of lost property. I ain't insinuating, I’m only hintin’.”

DAVIS swallowed the suggestion without sign of taking offence, then he said: “I’ll step on deck with my friend Harman and have a word with him. I won't be more’n five minu es.”

On deck, Harman suddenly clapped himself on the head. “We’ve left that ballyhoo alone with the rum bottle.” said he.

“Never mind,” said Davis, "we’re better dry. Now get your nose down to this business while I turn the handle. First of all. we want to get rid of the ship: second, we want pearls, not for personal adornment so to speak, but for profit; third, I believe the chap's yarn, and fourth, I vote we close on his offer. What you say?"

“I’m with you on the pearls.” said Harman, "and I'm ready to close on two conditions, and the first is that the beds haven’t been stripped.”

“We’ll easily prove that,” said Davis. "I’ve done pearling and I know the business.”

“Second is,” continued Harman, "that havin' hived the stuff, we’ll be able to get away with it.”

“Maybe what more you'll be wanting is a mail boat to ’Frisco and a brass band to play us off. Isn't luck good enough to trust in? And look at the luck that's brought us here. What you want flying in the face of it for?"

“Well, maybe you're right,” said the other, "the luck's all right if it holds, question is, will it? I don't like that petticoat flyin’ up in our face; it’s part of the deal seems to me, since he's droppin’ this place mainly to get to her and I’ve never seen a deal yet that wasn’t crabbed if a woman put as much as the tip of her nose into it. I ain't superstitious. I’m only savin’ what I know, ar.d all I’m saying is that it's ominous him talking of—”

“Oh, shut up.” said the other, "you're worse than my old woman. I’m into this business whether or no and you can stay out if you want. How’s it to be?"

Harman raised his head and sniffed the air tainted with the oysters rotting on the coral. Then he turned to the cabin hatch. “Come on.” said he and they went below to close the bargain.


CLAYTON'S house was grass thatched like the others and situated close to the groves on the right of the village; it had three rooms ar.d a verandah and mats and native made chairs constituted the chief furniture. Beyond the house further on the right was the shed where a few trade goods, mostly boxes of tobacco and rolls of print, were stored. I hat $ a t~v I It~ I rU~IlI % .~id he, `ii I ,ui a t ...• .~ t I ` `~ c i~ day u t! .t a tth `1 2 02 r,.I "I 2? I~ It' w'. It2~ `Ve~ ,IIII I\ • bu o~t~"~ . r, ` dt~ tiu~ tit •~ • -T •~`u4 It a 1 a 122 hi iii tIat aai~t'e uu. a .i: u `ru -. I `I2u'va o -, `tt to sr'a 1 •`~ rr i~. - t'h~u1 a `~` Ii' hr i~ at t~n~ yl'' .`t 11 .h .2!,. I' I2I~. .2 p.:t' I I2t~,L)!~ II h at'tl IL~' tt~ 2.1 .2 iI.~ItI , I~ it `.~ 2r.I. rt •.` .( ur \\ a~ you \

tn~. 0 huiidrd 1 .L'~!tI \ t~i~' rtkorie1 • lr.1 IlIar't a tun. I?lt,Ifd ltv the ulls, • - hat w:i~ Iwlire t he lw(1•.. -i I v~ liii fr the far • . II j t hi ino~t difficult • . . : .1. Ihi Is mt~t t~ot Ire too • . . 1 r f lilayiti~ the floor I ir~ coach whip Incus I )tVI~ declared hiur.~e1f • ..,. • I,I i •• -`. the mounds of • •` r I wi jib were to be u ill of the business. ti' r.C layton shewed his pearls. A I , 1 iii ta~li lmxes and he opened liri~ hetwen layers of Fir `nat ircains in buxes .. •., ,,t,d IlL f Harman and .r`. rc t aris. some were :t~ .r 1 -ii' were the size of • . -° :• lIT 110 `1 very good shape: • •• IIffl5 L''tl(l LiT 1 `tile rr~e. . • • in - or I ti~well be rlrl)j

rI flht Ir~tara~I.n.~ - : -. ni -`a~:~ h~Do' `o were .d ,~c *r s ii (U)~'iI. a vP ig -nib~t:1:-~I 1~'~r. 1h:,~, ir atnd mad fruit. S S - t hi

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TIRADE tobacco just then worked out at two cents a stick, so the pay was not exorbitant, it was the smallness of the 3tocK in hand that bothered our syndicate. Hut lloha was adamant. Ho did not know ten words of English, but be know enough to enforce bis claims and the -\ ndicate had to give in.

"1 I,new thcrcM be flies in the 'intment, somewhere,” -.ml Harman, "but t his is a bluebottle. We haven’t tobacco enough to work this lagoon a month and what’s

t" happen then?"

use bothering a month ahead," replied Davis. ‘‘If worst comes to the worst, we'll just have to do the diving .HI: -clve-. get into vour harness and down with you, to see

Harman did, and an appalling rush of bubbles followed iudescent; the suit was faulty. Tropical weather does not improve diving suits and Harman was got up just in

"Never again," said he when his window was unscrewed. and lie had done cursing Clayton, Clayton’s belongings, bis family, his relatives, and his ancestors.

"Stick her on the beach, damn divin' suits, let’s take to the water natural."

They did, following the practice of the Kanakas, and at the end of the week when the shells were rotted out, six days' takings shewed three large pearls perfect in every point and worth maybe fifteen hundred dollars, five small pearls varying in value from ten to forty dollars according to Davis' calculations, several Baroques of small and uncertain value and a spoonful of seeds.

"Call it two thousand dollars,” said Davis, when they had put the takings away in some cotton wool left by Clayton and a small soap box. ‘‘Call it two thousand and we’ve had twenty Kanakas diving for a week at two sticks a day, that makes two hundred and forty sticks at two cents a stick.”

"Four dollars eighty.” said Harman, ‘‘wonder what the unions would say to us and them chaps that’s always spoutin’ on the sand lot about the wages of the workin’ classes not that I’m against fair wages. I reckon if that guy Clayton had left us enough tobacco, I wouldn’t mind raisin’ the wage bill to eight dollars a week, but we haven’t got it haven’t enough to last a month as it’s runnin’ now.”

HE SPOKE the truth.

cleared out and the Kanakas struck to

Less than a month left them man and

ceased to dive, spending their time fishing, lazing in the sun and smoking—but their chief amusement was watching the white men at work.

There is no penitentiary equal to a pearl lagoon, once it seizes you, and no galley slaves under the whip ever worked harder than Harman and Bud Davis, stripped to the skin, brown as cob nuts with sun and water, longhaired, dishevelled, diving like otters and bringing up not more than a hundred pair of shells a day.

The boat had to be anchored over a certain spot and as the work went on the anchorage had to be shifted; at the

.HI: -clve-. get into

er.d of the day the oysters had to be brought ashore and laid out on the coral to rot. Then too tired, almost, to -moke, the Pearl Syndicate would stretch itself under the starto dream of fortune and the various ways of spending


The ingenuous Harman had quite definite views on that business, diamonds and dollar Henry Clays, champagne and palatial bars, standing drinks to all and sundry and a high time generally, that was his idea. Davis, darker and more secretive, had higher ambitions roughly formulated in the words “More money.” Dollars breed dollars and great wealth was enough for him; he would spend his money on making more, sure in his mind that if he once got his foot again in ’Frisco with a pocketful of money, he would find his way out through the big end of the horn.

And so they went on till at the end of four months, taking stock of their possessions they found themselves forty thousand dollars up, to use Davis’ words.

Taken by the hands of the Kanakas in the first month and by their own hands in the three succeeding months, they had safely hived forty-seven white and perfect pearls, two golden pearls, one defective, some red pearls not worth more than a shilling a grain, and, king of the collection, a great black pearl pear-shaped and perfect and equal to any Mexican in lustre and value. There were also some baroques of extraordinary shapes and a quantity of seeds.

Of the forty seven white pearls, four were of very large size. Davis had no scales but he reckoned that these four and the black were worth all the rest put together.

The general stocktaking brought an end to their luck, and for weeks after the take was a joke, to use Davis’ expression. It is always so in pearling, a man may make a small fortune out of a fishery in a few months, but the take is never consistent, and if he strikes it rich at first, it is ten to one he will have to pay for his luck.

ONE morning just as the sun was freeing himself from the reef and the last of the gulls departing for their deep sea fishing grounds, Harman who had been to draw water from the well, suddenly dropped the bucket he was carrying, shaded his eyes and gave a shout that brought Davis from the house.

Davis looked to where the other was pointing and there far off to the north and lit by the newly risen sun stood a sail.

They had been praying for a ship for the last fortnight, speculating on the chances of anything picking them up before they died of hope deferred and loneliness and a diet of fish and vegetable truck, yet now, before that sail hard on the blue and evidently making towards them, they scarcely felt surprised, and were too troubled to be filled with joy; for it suddenly occurred to them that pearls were pearls—that is to say, wealth in its most liftable form.

“Say, Bud,” cried Harman, “we've got to hide them divin’ dresses. If these chaps ain’t on the straight and they sniff pearls we’ll be robbed sure and shoved in the lagoon. I never thought of that before. We’re sure marks for every tough till we've cashed in and banked the money.’ “You aren’t far wrong,” replied Davis, still contem-

Most of the island Kanakas had gone fishing the night before to the other side of the atoll, so there were only a few old women and children about to mark the actions of the pearl syndicate.

First they dealt with the boat that held the pump, sinking it by the inner beach in four fathom water at a point where the trees came down right across the sand*.

THEN, carrying the diving suits, they dumped them in a fish pool of the outer beach. Having done this they divided the pearls, making two parcels of them, and surprisingly small parcels they were considering their value.

plating the sail. “Yes. she's making for here and she’s all a hundred and fifty tons. Inside two hours she’ll be off the reef and we've no time to waste.”

"Now," said Harman when all was done, “we're shipwrecked chaps, blown ashore, we don t know nothing about pearls and we reckon the house and go-down were built by some trader the Kanakas has murdered—How's that for a yarn to s’.ing them—but what’s the name of our ship?” “The Mary Ami Sinitherg." replied Davis promptly, "from Tampico to 'Frisco, cargo of hides and wool, badly battered off the

“You was second officer.” said Harman.

Horn, old man's name Sellers, and driven out of our course by the big gale a month ago. 1 here wasti t an\ gale a month ago. but it's a million to one they were a thousand miles off then, so how are they to know ?

“No. I was bo'sun; second officers are supposed to be in we know of the navigation and all such. I was just bo’sun, plain Jim Davis.”

Continued on pane 99

Ocean Tramps

Continued from page 16

“Well, they won’t dispute you’re plain enough,” said Harman, “but you ain’t the cut of a bo’sun, not to my mind, cables length nearer you are to the look of a Methodis’ preacher or a card sharp—no need to get riled—be a bo’sun and be damned, be anythin’ you like. I’m an A. B. hop-sacker, British born and—here they are.” The fore canvas of the schooner was just shewing at the break.


SHE came in laying the water behind her as though she had a hundred square miles of harbour to manoeuvre in, then the wind shivered out of her canvas and almost on the splash of the anchor a boat was dropped.

Harman and Davis watched it as it came ashore, noted the stroke of the broad-backed Kanaka rowers and the sun helmet of the white man in the stern and his face under the helmet as he stepped clear of the water on to the beach.

Mandelbaum was the name of the newcomer, a dark, small man with a face expressionless as a wedge of ice. He wore glasses.

As he stepped onto the sand he looked about him in seeming astonishment, first at Harman, then at Davis, then at the house, then at the beach.

“Who the devil are you?” asked he. “Same to yourself,” replied Harman, “we’re derelicks. Hooker bust herself on the reef in a big blow more’n a month ago. Who are you?”

“My name is Mandelbaum,” replied the other.

“Well, come up on the verandy and have a drink,” said the hospitable Harman, “and we can have a clack before goin’ aboard. You the Captain of that hooker?”

“I am,” said Mandelbaum.

“Then I reckon you won’t mind givin’ us a lift. We’re not above working for our grub—set down till I get some drinkin’ nuts.”

THERE was a long seat under the verandah, the house door was at the westward end of the house and the seat ran from the door to the eastern end. It was long enough for maybe ten people to sit on comfortably and the three sat down on the seat. Harman having fetched the nuts, Mandelbaum throwing his right leg over his left knee and turning comfortably7 and in a lazy7 manner towards the others, said:

“Where's Clayton?”

“I beg y our pardon,” said Harman. Davis said nothing. His mouth fell open and before he could shut it, Mandelbaum got in again.

“Don’t go to the trouble of trying any monkey tricks, there’s half a dozen fellows with Winchesters on that

schooner. Your bluff is called. Where’s Clayton, myr partner? He and a year's taking of pearls ought to be here. I bring the schooner back with more trade goods and he’s gone, and I find you two scowbarkers in his house and serving strangers with your damn drinking nuts,” a venomous tang was coming into the steadyvoice and a long slick navy7 revolver came out of his left-hand coat pocket into his right hand with the muzzle resting on his right knee.

“Where’s Clayton, dead—but where where have you planted him, and where have you cached the pearls?”

“Cached the pearls?” suddenly cried Harman, finding his voice and taking in the whole situation. Then he began to laugh. He laughed as though he were watching Charlie Chaplin or something equally funny. He was. The picture of Clayton stood before him. Clayton making off with his partner’s share of the pearls, and handing the island and the fishing rights to him and Davis in return for the ketch, the picture of Davis and himself working like galley slaves, doing four months’ labor for the sake of Mandelbaum, for well he knew Mandelbaum would make them stump up to the last baroque.

Then he sat with his chin on his fists spitting on the ground whilst Davis explained and Harman soliloquized sometimes quite out aloud: “No, it ain’t no use —straight’s the only word in the dictionary. No damn use at all, ain’t enough mugs—and a petticoat on top of all—”

* . * *

WELL, what’s the ‘ultermatum’?” asked Harman, a day later, as he stood by a native canoe on the beach.

“It’s either stick here and work for two dollars a day or get out for the Paumotus,” replied Davis, coming up from a last interview with Mandelbaum. “Which will we do, stick here and work for Mandelbaum for two dollars a day sure money, house, grub and everything found, or put for the Paumotus in this blessed canoe which his royal highness says we can have in exchange for the ship’s money he’s robbed us of. Which is it to be, the society of Mandelbaum or the Paumotus, which is hell, sharks, tide races, contr’y winds and starvation, maybe?”

“The Paumotus,” said Harman without a moment’s hesitation.