The Call of the South

Cover of book The Call of the South
Categories: Fiction » Literature

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LIND MAN OF ADMIRALTY ISLAND We had had a stroke?or rather a series of strokes?of very bad luck. Our vessel, the Metaris, had been for two months cruising among the islands of what is now known as the Bismarck Archipelago, in the Northwestern Pacific. We had twice been on shore, once on the coast of New Ireland, and once on an unknown and uncharted reef between that island and St. Matthias Island. Then, on calling at one of our trading stations at New Hanover where we intended to beach the vessel for repairs, we found that the trader had been killed, and of the station house nothing remained but the charred centre-post?it had been reduced to ashes. The place was situated on a little palm-clad islet not three hundred acres in extent, and situated a mile or two from the mainland, and abreast of a village containing about four hundred natives, under whose protection our trader and his three Solomon Island labourers were living, as the little island belonged to them, and we had placed the trader there on account of its suitability, and also because the man particularly wished to be quite apart from the village, fearing that his Solomon Islanders would get themselves into trouble with the people. From the excited natives, who boarded us even before we had dropped anchor, we learned that about a month after we had left poor Chantrey on his little island a large party of marauding St. Matthias Island savages, in ten canoes, had suddenly appeared and swooped down upon the unfortunate white man and his labourers and slaughtered all four of them; then after loading their canoes with all the plunder they could carry, they set fire to the house and Chantrey's boat, and made off again within a few hours. This was a serious blow to us; for not only had ve to deplor...

The Call of the South
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