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Full text of "Red Bob of the Bismarcks"

'-H 



RED BOB OF THE BISMARCKS 



RED BOB 

OF THE 

BISMARCKS 



BY 

BEATRICE GRIMSHAW 

Author of "When the Red Gods Call." 
'"Hie Sorcerer's Stone," file. 



SECOND EDITION 



LONDON 

HURST AND BLACKETT LIMITED 

PATERNOSTER HOUSE. E.G. 
1915 



Ax 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



CHAPTER I 

AFTER lunch as I was passing through 
the weaving-sheds on my way back to 
the office, my father came through the swing- 
door. He had some samples of yarn in his 
hand. 

" You have to hurry and catch the two-thirteen 
to Lime Street," he said, speaking to me through 
the crash and yell of the looms, with his grey 
beard close to my ear. " Come outside." 

We crossed the sheds, and stood in an asphalted 
courtyard, where it was comparatively easy to 
speak. 

" I can't spare Henry or James," said my 
father, twisting his beard with one hand. " In 
general, you are a disappointment to me, Paul, 
but I will allow you have an eye for yarns. You 
must do your best. Go and look up Griffens 



Fionn I a 



2-\ : :;; :;Re4i :Bob -of the Bismarcks 

and tell young Snaith himself that those seventies 
are not up to the last. Show him the difference ; 
it takes some showing, but you can manage it ; 
anyhow, you have to. Take these hundred- 
and-forties as well, and tell him the other is from 
Fletchers' ; make him see the value they are 
offering us even at that increased price. Do your 
best. You have brains enough and to spare for 
nonsense of your own. . . . Have you your 
railway fare ? " 

I plunged hurriedly into three or four empty 
pockets. My father watched me with a 
disapproving eye. 

" As usual," was his comment. " It is one- 
and-four return, first-class. There is one-and- 
sixpence, including trams. I'll debit it against 
your allowance. Make haste and catch your 
train." 

I nodded, put the money and samples into my 
pocket, and crossed the yard to the outer door. 
My father stood in the middle of the asphalt, 
his long beard blowing in the September wind — 
it was a grey Liverpool day, and like to rain — and 
as I went out, I heard him call : 

" Don't go and lose those yarns." 

They were the last words he ever said to his 
troublesome youngest son. If I had known that 
the iron gate of the Corbet burying-ground was 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



already turning on its hinges to let him in. 
But when I knew, the world lay between. 



When I got to Griffens', I found that Griffen 
Senior's wife had died the night before, and all 
the office was shut. I rolled up the yarn samples 
small, and put them in an inner pocket, till they 
should be wanted again. I have them still ; 
my father's fear that I should lose them was quite 
unjustified. 

Of course, the right thing to do was to take the 
train straight back to our works, and go on with 
my accounts. I did not do it. I looked at the 
Exchange clock, found it was not yet three, and 
walked down to the B. I. & C. offices in Water 
Street. The under-manager was a friend of 
mine ; I could always rely on him for a seeing-off 
ticket when I wanted one. 

I found him in his own small office, with all 
the windows shut, and a heavy smell of varnished 
linoleum in the air. 

" What's going out to-day ? " I asked. 

" Best we have," said the under-manager, 
smacking his lips, as if the liners of the B. I. & C. 
were so many choice things to eat. 

" Not the Empress oj Singapore F " 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



" That's she. Eleven thousand register, twin 
screw. A hundred and twenty first saloons, one 
hundred and eighty-two second, seventy-nine 
third. Cargo " 

" Bother the cargo. Can I have a ticket ? " 

" Catch hold. . . . We've got some star 
passengers this trip. Carita, going to sing all 
over India ; General Dames ; Professor Pedley 
Liddiard, for Borneo via Singapore. When 
are we going to see you in the passage-department 
for yourself, Corbet ? I never saw a lad so keen 
on watching other people go off." 

" Oh, God, Horsley, let it alone ! I'm not 
in the mood for being guyed about that." 

A side door opened, and a small, nervous clerk 
looked in. 

" I didn't call ; you can go," said Horsley. 
Then, looking rather keenly at me : " You'll get 
me into trouble with the G. M., if you roar like 
a bull in my respectable room. You go for a 
walk, lad, or go back to your father's office, where 
I suspect you ought to be at three o'clock in the 
afternoon. If the Empress of Singapore puts you 
into such a devil of a temper, I guess you'd better 
let the lady alone." 

" I'm as cool as you are," I said. " Anyone 
else going ? " 

" Vincent Gore, for parts unknown — after 



Red Bob of the Bismareks 



Singapore. Lad, you're morbid. Lots of us 
get that way in Liverpool, and we have to get 
over it. You will too." 

" Fm damned if I shall," I said, svnnging out 
of the room. I wondered for a minute or two if 
there really was anything in the frequently 
repeated accusations of bad temper made by my 
father and my step-brothers. . . . Horsley 
seemed to have some idea of that kind in his 
head too. . . . However, I dismissed the subject, 
writh the consideration that it did not matter, 
anyhow. 

It was chill for September ; there was — almost 
— a threat of winter somewhere in the air. A 
pinching wind blew off the painty-grey water, 
making dry spots on the pavements. The sun 
had gone in ; Liverpool, down, by the landing- 
stage and the elevated railway, looked like a steel 
engraving of itself. 

They hint a lie who say, " if youth but knew." 
It does, sometimes ; above all — though this is 
strange — on days like the late September day that 
saw me drawn to the place where the ships went 
down to sea. Spring, for youth, is a time of 
dreaming and languor ; the white March days 
that send the man of full years looking for his 
cabin-trunk and his pamphlet of steamer sailings, 
more likely draw the lad of twenty to those quiet 



6 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

nooks near railway-bridges far out in the country, 
where one may sheher from the east, and dream, 
and feel the new spring sun flow over his face, 
like the golden hair of the girl he is dreaming 
about. . . . 

But the earliest bite of autumn, in the latitudes 
of England, fills a man in the pride of youth with 
a glory that seems to have no root or reason in 
any external circumstance. Because the wind has 
turned cold, and the roads are growing heavy — 
because dead leaves blow up beneath an iron sky 
— ^you are glad. You want to run and sing. 
You feel the round gold coin of Youth held tight 
v^thin your hand, and know that there is nothing 
in the world it may not buy. Youth knows ! 

At all events, Paul Corbet, aged twenty-two, 
run away from his work to see the ships go out, 
knew that day. But what is the use of knowing 
when you may not do ? 

I wonder how many lads there are, now, in 
Liverpool, not yet broken to the bit and collar, 
who feel a sickness of heart every Wednesday and 
Saturday afternoon, when the great liners put 
forth with shouting to the ends of all the world, 
sending their cries far up the clattering grey 
streets ? How many know the notes of the 
whistles ? (" That's a Bibby for Burmah . . . 
There's the Nestor singing out ; she's going to 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



Australia . . . That must be the Benin ; Canary 
Island and Gold Coast . . . There's the Maure- 
tania's big bellow, third time ; she's off for New 
York . . . The Victorian should be leaving for 
Montreal about now ; that must be her . . . 
What's the Leyland boat for Buenos Ayres to- 
day ? Well, anyhow, she's going now ; I hear 
her.") . . . 

We, the world's sea-rovers, have grown so rich 
nowadays through our roving that we must needs 
train our youths to stay at home and sit tight 
upon its gains in linoleumed rooms v^th all the 
windows shut. But they don't want to do it — 
they take a lot of training. And some of them — 
not the worst, though I say it — can't be trained 
at all. 

Well ! I went down the Overhead to Prince's, 
having travelled third to Lime Street and saved 
eightpence ; otherwise I should have had to 
tramp it. My head was humming vnth Vincent 
Gore, all the way to the landing-stage. A famous 
traveller, whose life had been a tissue of the 
wildest adventures ; who had added more than 
one bit of red to the map of the British Colonies ; 
who was something of a mystery, something of a 
terror — for he did not write about his doings, and 
it was said that everyone who knew him was more 
or less afraid of him — this man was to be a 



8 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

passenger on the Empress of Singapore to-day, and 
I with a ticket to go on board and see him ! 

The wind was getting up ; it blew along the 
great grey estuary in scuds and spirts of foam. 
A Cunarder was coming down the river ; you 
could see her scarlet, black-topped funnel swing 
a little against the ugly sky. The Empress oj 
Singapore lay steady enough at her moorings, but 
every now and then the floating stage and the 
steamer heaved just enough to let you know they 
were not solid land. . . . To-night — oh, to- 
night ! the Empress would assuredly be rolling 
and storming down St. George's Channel, with 
the wild Atlantic breakers rushing up to meet 
her from the south ; the v^nd would yell in the 
wire riggings, and the spray would smack on the 
top of the smoke-stacks, and fall with a crash on 
deck. . . . And Vincent Gore would be going 
out to " parts unknown, via Singapore." 

I was walking through the elevated tunnel that 
leads from the railway to the boats when this 
thought came to me. And at the moment, 
another came : a thought that exploded in my 
brain with the force of a bursting shell. To-night 
I would go too ! 

It sounded like the sheerest nonsense ; for I 
had only fourpence in my pocket ; my father 
and my step-brothers were even now looking out 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 9 

for me to come back to the works with my 
samples, and my aunt, who kept house for us all, 
no doubt was planning out the dinner at Laurel- 
holme (Gateacre and Woolton suburb) with 
perfect confidence in the assumption that four 
men were to be fed at that table, now and for 
ever more. Yet, I knew that I should do it. I 
was not too young to have experienced some of 
those rare moments in the history of the mind, 
when thought and desire, fused together by the 
heat of some outward shock, flash suddenly into a 
driving force that nothing can resist. I do not 
think all men have such moments ; but those 
who have will never miss what they stretch their 
hands out to take. 

So I went up the gangway of the Empress of 
Singapore, knovdng that the gates of the world 
were opening for me — at last. 

The alleyways were full of blue-coated stewards 
carrying cabin luggage ; passengers and passengers' 
friends jostled one another against the enamelled 
bulkheads. There were half a dozen small 
crowds in the marble-panelled smoking saloon, 
farewelling one another, with the aid of drinks 
from the bar. Every table in the writing-room 
was occupied by people scribbling to catch the 
last shore mail. Madame Carita swept by in 
velvet and ermine, vnth a train of two maids and 



10 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

a secretary ; she was abusing the purser in 
voluble Glasgow, for having given her the second- 
best state cabin. The purser was, meantime, 
trying to pacify an indignant Indian general, who 
thought that he had been deprived of the second- 
best cabin in favour of Madame Carita. 

It was all famiHar to me — the whole scene of 
departure, the gilding and looking-glassing and 
marbling and bird's-eye mapling and brocading 
of the ship decorations ; the typical ocean-going 
steamer smell of mattresses, apples, rubber 
carpeting and paint. I had never been on the 
Empress of Singapore before, but I have. an eye for 
ships' geography, and I found my way without 
any hesitation to the first state cabin, about 
which no one was disputing, and which, I some- 
how guessed, would be the property of the man 
for whom I was looking. 

I found the cabin, a double one, well amidships 
on the promenade deck, knocked at the shut door, 
and was answered in a voice that left no doubt 
whatever in my mind that I had guessed right. It 
was like the bark of a mastiff. 

" Can't see anyone ! " it said. 

I opened the door and walked into the cabin. 

The occupant swung round in a ship's chair 
that was fitted to a handsome writing-table, and 
asked me what the hell I meant by coming there ? 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 11 

" To speak to you," I said. I did not feel 
half as put out as I had often felt in my father's 
works, when James or Henry were rating me 
about something I hadn't done. 

" And is the youth of Liverpool," said the 
barking voice, " so Liverpudlianly wrapped in 
fog that it is incapable of seeing when a man 
is busy ? " 

I stood against the doorway with my arms 
folded. He did not frighten me a bit ; I felt 
my spirits rise at the fact. For this Vincent 
Gore, with his big, thin frame, his Cecil Rhodes 
type of face, and his blue, hard eyes with cat- 
pupils in them, was undoubtedly formidable. 

I did not answer his gibe. 

" You look as if you wanted a secretary," I 
said. " I should like to offer myself. I could 
make myself exceptionally useful, if you cared 
to engage me." 

The first sentence I spoke in French, the 
second in German, the third, half in Spanish 
and half in Dutch. All these languages are 
useful in the cotton trade, and the work of learn- 
ing them had been one of the few things about 
my father's business that really interested me. 
James and Henry couldn't learn languages 
for nuts. 

Vincent Gore's cat-pupils fixed themselves 



12 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

on me steadily, and I saw that he was counting 
me up. I saw also that he was one of those men 
whose first impulse is always to say " No," who 
find every variety of " Yes " drag heavily on 
the tongue. 

" I don't want a secretary," he said. 

" I can fight," I went on. " I can stand 
anything, and I'm not afraid of anything in 
the world." 

Vincent Gore swung round further in his 
chair, and made an impatient chop in the air 
with one finger — a characteristic gesture. 

" Men don't say those things," he said. 
" Shed your baby petticoats, lad ; they seem 
to have stuck to you a long time." 

I felt myself flush hot at the thought of having 
swaggered ; perhaps the smear of Liverpool 
clerkdom had not quite passed me by. . . . 

" Will you have me ? " I said. 

" No," said Gore, turning back to his table, 
and taking up his pen. 

I went out of the cabin, cold and hot at the 
same time, but the hot predominated. I was 
sure that the gods would send me something, 
for I was in the mood that Fate herself must 
heed when it comes. 

Before I was out of earshot the door opened, 
and Gore barked out : " Sterry ! " 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 13 

A youngish man, Hght and strong-looking, 
well-clad, but not a gentleman, came running 
down the alleyway, answering, " Yes, sir." He 
went into the cabin and the door was shut. 
I waited, in an odd, passionless kind of 
calm. I was sure that something would 
happen. 

Nothing did, except the reappearance of 
Sterry, who came out, hat in hand, and made 
for the shore gangway. It was still an hour 
before sailing time. I saw him go ashore ; 
followed him and took the same train on the 
Elevated. My mind was beginning to purr 
like a cat inside me. For now I began to see. 

When he got out I went after him, and fol- 
lowed him again. He went into an outfitter's 
in Bold Street, and began buying some special 
kind of socks. I stayed outside. 

Either I was not clever at following or else 
Sterry was keen in suspecting anything of the 
kind, for when he came out again, he saw me, and 
asked me somewhat impertinently if I wanted 
anything. 

" Yes, I do," said I. "I want you to come 
and have a drink." 

" Oh, if that's all," said the man, dropping 
his gentleman's-gentleman air at once, " Pm 
with you, though I'm blest if I know who you 



14 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

are from Adam. I thought you was a bill, 
I did." 

" Bill for whom ? " I asked, falling into step 
with him along the windy pavement. 

" Me, you can lay. The governor isn't the 
sort to have bills after him. Wish you could 
say the same of me — but there. Jack ashore's 
Jack ashore, to the end of his days." 

" Come in here ; you'll find it a decent sort 
of place. So you were a sailor before you became 
a valet ? " 

" Yes ; Royal Navy. Scotch is mine, thanks." 

" Been many voyages with Mr. Gore ? " 

" Many," said the man, gaping at me vdth 
his hard red face over the rim of his glass. 
" Why, bless you, I only signed on with him last 
week. Hardly got time to know the run of his 
clothes." 

" Would you sell your place to someone else ? " 

" You arst me, would I sell my place to some- 
one else — meanin' 'oo ? " 

" No matter." 

" Well, it isn't any matter, for I wouldn't. 
Not for all the girls that lives in Liverpool." 
He set down his empty glass and eyed it. I 
beckoned to the barman (who knew me, fortu- 
nately, for I had only twopence in my pocket) 
and had the glass refilled. The irrelevant remark 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 15 

about girls made me feel hopeful — remembering 
that this was Liverpool and that the man had 
been a sailor. 

I edged away from the neighbourhood of the 
men about the bar, and Sterry followed me, 
carrying his glass. I remember that I was 
very hot within and very cool without ; that 
the place smelt of cold beer and washed 
marble, and that there was a white-faced clock 
on the wall, which I watched with half an eye 
as I spoke. The minutes were running away. 

" See here, Sterry," I said. " I want that 
place. No matter who for. I happen to be 
short of cash. But look at this watch. Handle 
it ; open the case. You can see it's worth all 
it cost, and that was fifty pounds." 

" Being a man that knows something of 
watches' movements, I can. What's that to 
do with the flowers that bloom in the spring ? " 

" I'll tell you. My tie-pin is worth another 
ten. Take it into any jeweller's and see, if you 
like. You can have the two, if you'll cut off from 
the ship this afternoon, and let Mr. Gore suppose 
you've run away." 

" Do you want my answer to that propo- 
sition ? " said the seaman-valet, draining his 
glass and setting it down. " Then you can 
have it. My answer is, No. Why ? Because 



16 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

Red Bob is worth being valet to, or bootblack 
neither. Red Bob's a man." He added some 
confirmatory adjectives. " And I don't pree- 
pose to go back on him. By Red Bob I mean 
my master, Mr. Vincent Gore, F.R.G.S., 
F.R.S., A.B.C.X.Y.Z., etc. Not that I don't 
want the cash, nor her. As it 'appens, I 
want them both each as much as the other, 
and she's agreeable — too agreeable, if any- 
thing ; I like them a bit stand-off, best of 
all. But go back on Red Bob I won't. Not 
so long as I can stand on my blessed pins and 
see out of my blessed eyes." 

Something in the style of the last remark 
struck me as familiar. I sized up the valet with 
an appraising glance. Long arm, light foot, 
broad shoulder, twinkling eyes beneath a pent- 
house brow, nose that had clearly been higher, 
in the original pattern, than it was at 
present. . . . 

" Will you fight me for the place ? " I asked. 

" I know a quiet place down in " (for obvious 

reasons I do not give the name) " where you can 
be safe from the police. I could " 

" You got one ear regulation pattern and 
one cauliflower," interrupted Sterry, appraising 
me now in his turn. " You look young, but 
you're set. Hard and fit, and a proper young 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 17 

devil, if there's anything in what they call 
physi-physiography. Yes, I'll fight you for it, 
and if I win, I take the foolish baubles, me lord, 
with which you tempt me virtue ; and if you 
win, I stop and marry the girl. Nor don't you 
think I won't try to knock your head off, both 
ways, because I will honestly endeavour so to 
do. Where's your spot where the birds in their 
httle nests can chide and fight, without Robert 
putting in his fairy foot to spoil a happy day ? " 

I think we had been speaking louder than 
either of us had imagined, for at this point three 
officers of the Red Sun Line, and two from the 
Kinnoull who had been drinking together at 
a small marble table, all got to their feet 
together and came over to us. 

" Young Corbet of Corbet Mills ; I knew the 
cut of his jib," cried the Kinnoull man. " Boys, 
this is going to be fun. I saw Corbet knock 
out Pentreath of the Bache Line in three rounds 
last Sunday week down at Joe Flanagan's. 
Come on, all of you." 

We went out in a cheerful crowd, like a party 
of old friends, and made for Flanagan's. It 
is a quiet little gymnasium in a quiet street, 
the name of which I had better not mention ; 
although, for the matter of that, I had not 
given the real name of Flanagan himself. He 

a 



18 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

is an excellent sport, and knows which side his 
bread is buttered on ; fights with gloves or 
without, for love or for money, are all the same 
to him. He has a very thoughtful little arrange- 
ment in connection v^th his cellar-way and he 
does a bit of plumbing and gasfitting work, 
which is wonderfully apt to make loud slamming 
noises with sheets of iron just at the time when 
such noises are wanted. . . . 

. . . There is nothing less interesting than the 
description of a fight on paper, long after it's 
over and forgotten, and in any case this one 
did not last very long. Sterry was a stone or 
so heavier than myself ; older, at a time when 
age means advantage, and somewhat longer of 
reach. He fought, too, with the spirit and 
pluck of a gamecock, and 'the absence of gloves 
suited his rather rough-and-tumble sort of 
style very well. I think that on another occasion 
he would have had the better of me. But it 
was my day, and I knew, Hke a gambler who is 
in luck, that I could lose in nothing. I knocked 
him out in the fourth round, and the ship's 
oflficers cheered me till Flanagan thought it 
necessary to go out and nail a sheet of iron on 
to his fowl-house, with frightful clamour. 

Burt of the Kinnoull Line took him to hos- 
pital, after I had handed over the watch and 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 19 

pin, which I thought he had fairly earned, and 
received Sterry's ticket — I was cool enough to 
remember that they would not let me on board 
without it. The Red Sun fellows were very 
decent ; they thumped me on the back, stood 
me drinks which I didn't particularly want, 
and fixed up my face for me as well as they could. 
I did not look very presentable when all was 
done, but there was no time to think about 
that ; no time to do anything but bolt into 
a shop where they knew my father, get a few 
clothes on credit, stick them into a Gladstone 
bag, and run for the tram. The Empress oj 
Singapore had already whistled twice. 

With my bag in my hand, a good deal of 
plaster on my face, and one penny in my pocket, 
I reached Prince's again, thoroughly winded, 
and made for the big, black liner. The gang- 
way was still down, but the bell was ringing 
furiously, and the stewards had begun to caU 
out : " Any more for the shore ? " — the cry 
that for those who sail is the swinging on its 
hinges of the great world's door, and for those 
who stay the first rattling of the sods upon a 
coffin. . . . 

Women were streaming down the gangway as 
I pressed up ; many of them were crying behind 
futile muffs and veils, and there were men, 

2* 



20 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

too, who passed down to the shore with faces 
grey as the autumn river, and eyes that looked 
hard, yet saw nothing. People on the deck were 
saying last good-byes. . . . Often as I have seen 
it all, it never failed to make me a little choky 
in the throat. I consoled myself, pushing my 
way among the sobbing, hand-straining groups, 
with the reflection that there was, at all events, 
nobody to cry over my departure ; and then 
an absurd vision came to me of my father and 
James and Henry, all tall and respectable and a 
little fat, standing out there on the landing- 
stage, and calling to me to come back imme- 
diately vdth the samples of yarn, whilst Aunt 
Sarah, pink and roundabout, shook a dinner- 
napkin at me, and told me that my soup was 
growing cold, and I was a disgrace to the Corbet 
family. . . . 

" Hooray ! " I said irrelevantly, and dived 
into the second-class companion way. A 
steward looked at my ticket and let me pass. 
I got into a quiet cabin, shut the door, and 
sat down upon the blue-quilted bunk to await 
the sailing of the ship. 

" Any more for the sho-ore ? " sounded out 
again, and stewards passed by in the alley-way, 
ringing bells. Feet trampled about ; I could 
hear the gangway going up, and by and by 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 21 

came the Empresses last call, a fierce succession 
of whistle blasts. 

" She's off ! " I said, bouncing on the mat- 
tress of the bunk. She was. In another 
moment or two the bit of landing-stage that 
was visible through the port began to slip back 
and away ; a line of grey water opened out 
. . . the Empress of Singapore had sailed ; and 
I, who had never been anywhere except across 
to Antwerp or Brussels, was off " to parts 
unknown, via Singapore." 

I hoped — I almost prayed — that Vincent 
Gore would not want his valet before we were 
out of the river ; and fortunately for me, my 
luck still held. We got clear of the Mersey 
and out to sea ; and the September day shut 
down to dark. It was blowing up by now, 
the cabin in which I sat began to swing and 
curtsy, and the bulkheads creaked as the great 
ship leaned to the seas. By and by she began 
to lift in earnest, and you could hear the water- 
fall crash of big waves on the upper deck, as she 
drove her nose into it, storming down the 
Channel. We were in for a dirty night. 

A clashing of plates in the neighbourhood of 
the pantries reminded me that I was hungry, 
and also that the dinner hour could not be very 
far off. I waited for the first bell in some 



* 22 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

suspense ; it seemed likely that my troubles 
would begin with the announcement of the 
dressing hour. . . . 

I did not have to wait so long. Before the 
bell had rung a steward ran down the alley- 
way past my door, yelling : " Sterry ! Sterry 1 
Here, where's Cabin Seven's valet got to ? " 

I came out into the narrow passage with its 
glitter of white paint and brass door knobs, and 
sang out, ** Here ! " 

The man did not give me half a glance. 

" Your governor wants you," he threw over 
one shoulder, as he hurried away into the pantries, 
leaning all to one side, like a navy-blue flower 
growing on a windy soil of crimson carpeting. 
I made my way to the first saloon, staggering 
about a bit — for though I was a good sailor, 
I had no sea-legs as yet — and went to Number 
Seven with a dash, resolving to get it over. 

Vincent Gore was seated at his table, writing, 
exactly as I had left him hours before. I do 
not think he had moved in all that time. 

" Get out my clothes," he said, without 
looking up. 

" Yes, sir," I said, determined to play the 
part out. My throat felt rather dry. 

Gore looked up at once, and his glance went 
through me like a rifle-bullet. 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 23 

" What is the meaning of this comedy ? — and 
where is my man Sterry ? " he said. Then he 
shut his mouth, and waited for a reply, in a 
manner that I felt to be peculiarly disconcerting. 
I was resolved, however, that it should not 
disconcert me. 

" I fought your valet for the place," I ex- 
plained, somewhat short-windedly. " I tried 
to bribe him and he wouldn't. So there was 
nothing else left to do. It was a fair fight ; 
two of the KinnouU men and four of the Red 
Star were there " 

" May one ask where ? " asked Gore, with 
deceptive mildness. 

" Joe Flanagan's," I explained. " Flanagan's 
a real sport, and all the good fights " 

" I don't particularly want to hear about all 
the fights, if you don't mind," interrupted 
Gore, still with that unpleasant gentleness. 
" Give me the net result of this one only — if 
you please." 

" You asked me, and I answered," I said, 
with a spirit of flame. " We had as even a 
fight as you'd wish to see for four rounds, and 
your man knocked me down twice " 

" He seems to have done a little more than 
that," interrupted Gore again, looking at my 
damaged face. 



24 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" Whatever he did, he's in hospital, and I 
put him there," I answered. " But he'll be as 
right as rain in a day or two. I know." 

" So it would appear," said Vincent Gore. 

" I gave him about sixty pounds' worth of 
jewellery," I explained. " I hadn't any cash. 
He didn't want to go back on you, he said. 
He seemed a decent chap, and I was sorry I 
had to smash him up so, but there wasn't 
anything else to do. I'll make you as good a 
valet as you like, since you won't have me for 
a secretary." 

" You," said Gore, tilting back his swing- 
chair and looking up at me with those hard, 
cat-pupils of his, " you appear to be a nice young 
devil, taken all round." 

" That's what your valet said," I answered 
rather impatiently. 

" I suspect it's not the first time you 
have heard the comparison," observed Gore. 
" Well " — ^with sudden change of manner — 
" perhaps I'm better suited to have the handling 
of a young devil than your parents seem to 
have been, and I've no particular objection 
to the breed, as such — what's your name ? " 

" Paul Corbet." 

" Very well, Corbet, take away my boots and 
clean them. Clean them properly." 



Red Bob of the Bismareks 25 

I picked up the boots — they were exceedingly 
dirty — and started to leave the cabin. 

" Say, ' Yes, sir,' when I speak to you," barked 
Gore. 

" Yes, sir," I said. I took the boots away 
and shut the door. 

The Empress was pitching heavily as I made 
my staggering way down the passage. I 
cannoned into a steward before I had gone 
far. 

" Beg pardon " he began, and then, seeing 

the boots in my hand : " You silly owl, why 
can't you keep out of the way ? Where are 
you going with them boots ? " 

" Going to clean them if I can get some 
blacking," I said. 

" Who are you with ? " 

"Mr. Vincent Gore." 

" Oh— Red Bob ! Well ; Pd recommend you 
to clean them proper. I'll give you a lick of 
blacking after dinner ; it isn't boot-cleaning 
time now." 

" I'm going to do them," I said. " I wish 
you could " 

" Who's been knocking your face about like 
that ? " he interrupted. 

" A hospital patient." 

" Hospital patient ? " 



26 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" He is now." 

" Oh — ah — I take you ; I comprehend. Well, 
seeing it's Red Bob you're with, I'll stretch a 
point, and get you the stuff now. Where's 
your own ? " 

" Don't know." 

" New at the job ? " 

I made no answer, but looked at him. I 
might have looked unpleasant. He went off 
and got me the blacking, and I found my cabin 
and sat down to clean the boots. The job 
was not so easy as I had expected, but when I 
had got them clean and shining, I took them down 
to Number Seven again, and knocked at the 
door. 

" Your boots, sir," I said. 

The electric lights were on, and the cabin, 
panelled in white and gold and upholstered with 
amber brocade, looked very bright and luxu- 
rious. Gore was standing in the middle of 
it, and swinging to the motion of the ship as 
he tied his evening tie. He took the boots 
from me, and examined them. He tapped 
the inside of the heel with one finger. 

" Clean that again," he said, and imme- 
diately turned to his tie once more, and blotted 
me out of existence. I went back and cleaned 
the insides of the heels with microscopical 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 27 

care. The second bell rang while I was at 
work ; I hurried back to the cabin as quickly 
as I could. Vincent Gore was still there. He 
examined the boots and set them down. 

" Don't let me have to speak about that 
again," he said. " Unpack while Fm at 
dinner." 

He left the cabin and walked lightly and 
securely along the pitching alley-way towards 
the saloon companion. I did my best with his 
things ; I had never had a valet — such luxuries 
not being fashionable even among the wealthy 
section of Liverpool society — but I was fas- 
tidious enough about my own clothes to guess 
fairly well how things should be done. Gore 
was back before I had quite finished — I found 
later that he was a phenomenally small eater 
and never lingered over meals. I got found 
fault with again over two or three matters. 
I shut my teeth and took it in silence. He dis- 
missed me soon, and I went to the stewards' 
pantry, and found someone to give me food ; 
I was fairly ravenous, and the second-class 
cabin tea had long been over. 

" But I wonder," I said to myself, as I came 
back to my cabin, " I wonder why Vincent 
Gore is caUed Red Bob ? " 



CHAPTER II 

WHY Vincent Robinson Gore, M.A., LL.D., 
F.R.G.S., F.R.S., was, by certain people, 
called Red Bob did not become clear to me for 
some time. There were a good many people 
on the ship who knew him, but his curious nick- 
name did not seem to be current among the upper 
classes of our little world afloat. It was the ship 
proletariat and the ship bourgeoisie who used 
it — the deck hands, stokers, pantry boys, and 
general stewardry. He was Red Bob to all of 
these ; I would not ask them why, for Gore 
kept me determinedly to my valet work during 
the first part of the voyage, and it was hard 
enough to stand all that was coming to me in 
such an anomalous position, without making 
things worse by asking questions about my 
employer. The stewards, knowing that I was 
not one of themselves, took it out of me by with- 
holding all the small helps and hints they would 
have given to one of their own class, and the 
passengers, naturally, had nothing to do with 

28 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 29 

me. I had, in consequence, a fairly hard time 
of it up to Port Said — harder than anything in 
the shape of snubbings, scoldings, loneliness 
and uncongenial work that had ever fallen to 
my share in Liverpool. 

And — I was supremely happy. 

I had inherited Spain and Portugal. Up to 
this, they had been areas of paint on a piece of 
paper. Now they were purple headlands and 
blue, floating peaks, real peaks above a real sea 
. . . and they were mine. I owned the rock 
of Gibraltar ; last week it had been an insurance 
company's boring advertisement — now it was 
a wonderful, ghttering town, full of palms and 
castles and Othellos in white wool gaberdines, 
and Desdemonas picturesque in mantilla dress 
. . . and it belonged to me. I owned Mar- 
seilles — partly ; I had seen France before, and 
that seemed to lessen my sense of property in 
the place ; still, the delicate remoteness of 
Notre Dame de la Garde touched my senses 
like a perfume, and I added it to my gains. 
When we came to the Bay of Naples I found it 
so like a painting of itself by somebody that it 
disconcerted me a little. Nevertheless, through 
it, and through Vesuvius, cut sharp as a gem 
against a wonderful, clove-pink dawn, I imme- 
diately came into the possession of ^the 



30 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

Mediterranean, which up to that point had some- 
how eluded me. And when the Empress tied up 
alongside the jetty of Port Said, I, looking on 
flat roofs and minarets painted in strange clear- 
ness against a sky of hard, high, unknown blue, 
felt with a deep content that my hands had 
closed upon the East. 

With all that, was it likely that I should break 
my heart over tricks played by the " glory- 
hole," or cold shoulder from young infantry 
lieutenants going second out to Bombay ? 

Nevertheless, I was well pleased when Gore 
sent for me, just after we had entered the Canal, 
and told me, without any preface or explana- 
tion, that the cabin steward would take over 
my valet duties, and that my secretary work 
began that day. 

" You will have a salary of a hundred and 
fifty and your expenses," he said. " I'll expect 
you to learn any languages I may require. I 
can get a working knowledge of any language in 
three weeks myself, and I don't see why you 
should take much longer." 

He opened a drawer and took out a small 
volume. 

" This is a Malay phrase-book," he said, 
handing it to me. " It's time you began. 
Malay — the pigeon Malay that's spoken all over 



Red Bob of the Bismareks 31 

the Far East — is ridiculously easy ; you ought 
to learn it in a fortnight. Talk to the sailors 
for practice ; there are one or two Malays 
among them. . . . How about your German ? " 

" I'm pretty useful at it," I answered, 
wondering a little, for I did not see 
what need there would be for German in 
the lands through which we were likely to 
travel. 

" Right," said Gore ; he put his long legs 
up on the sofa and opened a book of Seligmann's. 
I withdrew. The steward met me in the alley- 
way. It was as hot as the flue of a stove in there ; 
the ripples on the Canal outside had a sharp, 
diamond radiance that hit you in the eye, and 
the sands of the Sahara glittered hard white and 
blue, through the yellow circles of the ports. 
The wind-shoots were out all along the ship, 
looking like great coal shovels set in a line. 
They caught next to no breeze, for we were 
going with the wind. 

" Lord, it's goin' to be like 'ell in the Red 
Sea," said the steward, mopping his neck. Then 
he suddenly remembered himself, and put away 
his handkerchief. 

" Beg your pardon, sir, I forgot," he said, 
pulling himself up straight. " Mr. Gore says 
you're to go into cabin twenty-nine, sir, down 



32 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

the next alley- way. Hope you'll be comfortable, 
sir. rU see after you myself." 

I had punched his head in the stewards' 
" glory-hole " the night before, for borrowing my 
shoe-brushes without leave ; but his calm eye 
and starched demeanour suggested that he had 
never met me except as the benevolent employer 
of a worthy and obliging servant. ... I could 
hear the cHnk of Vincent Gore's gold in his 
pocket, as plainly as if I had seen it put there. 

"Thanks," I said. "Will you kindly shift 
my traps ? " 

" I did so already, sir. Anything else I can 
do, sir ? " 

" No, thanks," I answered, entering my new, 
neat cabin with its humming electric fan, and 
sitting down on my cream brocade sofa to medi- 
tate on the fresh turn of affairs. It was clear 
to me that I had been successful in passing some 
test — I could not tell what — and that Gore had 
finally decided to join my fortunes to his. What 
those fortunes might be I was uncertain ; but 
I was sure of one thing — there was a mystery and 
a secret somewhere. Vincent Gore was not 
only an anthropologist and a geographer. . . . 
What else was he ? 

The door curtain swung a little, and a subdued 
tap sounded on the woodwork. 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 33 

" Mr. Gore asking for you, sir," came the 
steward's voice. 

I went back to cabin seven. Gore was still 
on the sofa, under the big, open port. 

" Shut the door, please," he said. " I wanted 
to say to you — that I have had secretaries, and 
given them up, because they talked. . . . Don't 
you talk, young Paul ! " 

The last words were shot out with a dynamitic 
violence that almost made me jump, and as he 
spoke them. Gore's cat-pupilled eyes flashed 
suddenly red. If you have never seen light eyes 
play this trick, you will not believe me ; and 
indeed, the small flash sometimes caused by a 
sudden dilating of the pupil is not very notice- 
able. As a rule Gore's eyes, however, did not 
dilate, they seemed to explode, and for one 
astonishing instant, they were red, red as flame. 
Then the light passed away, and the steady cat- 
pupil was fixed on me again. But now I did not 
need to ask anyone why Vincent Robinson Gore, 
in the steamer world that knew him so well, went 
by the name of Red Bob. 

" That's aU," he said. 

When I got back to my cabin, I settled myself 
for a comfortable afternoon lounge beneath the 
fan, musing upon many things. Especially did 
I muse upon the other secretaries, who had 

3 



34 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



talked. . . . Gore was the sort of man who would 
maroon you penniless in a foreign port, without 
a grain of compunction, if he thought you had 
given him cause. I made a compact with myself 
that no cause should be given. 

I worked hard at Malay ; it is an easy language, 
if you do not trouble about acquiring the literary 
form, and I was able to make myself useful with 
porters and " mandoers " (native hotel-clerks) 
by the time we got to Java. . . . This is not the 
story of our travels through the East and Farther 
East ; if I once began to tell those things, I 
should never come to an end. I think I was more 
or less drunk from Aden clear through to Batavia 
— drunk on the wonders and glories of the wide 
world. I should never have remembered to write 
to my father, if Gore had not told me to do it, 
somewhere about Bombay. When I did write, I 
found I had nothing particular to say to him ; 
I only told him that I was not coming back, and 
sent a civil message to Aunt Sarah. There was 
no use in filling up pages with explanations, even 
if I could have explained anything. East of the 
East, thank God, one simply does things, without 
having to chew and slaver them all over with 
explanations, before and after. 

Gore himself, as I afterwards heard, had 
telegraphed to my people from Marseilles — 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 35 



a characteristic message, which must have 
astonished the recipients : 

" Tour young devil is with me. — Vincent Gore.^^ 

I don't know how other people feel about these 
things, but to me there has always been a fasci- 
nation about certain parts of physical geography 
— latitudes, longitudes. Tropics, Arctic and Ant- 
arctic circles, points of the compass, the Equator. 
I should never have any respect for the man who 
was heard " to speak disrespectfully of the 
Equator." 

I said as much to Gore one night when we were 
running through a sea of hot, black oil, down 
towards the Java coast. I thought he would have 
laughed — but he did not. He only took another 
pull at the extraordinary Burmah cheroot he was 
smoking — a thing as big as a ruler — and said : 

" I know, boy. . . . There is something in 
the words that goes to your head. You run down 
the Bay of Biscay into the thirties out of the 
forties, and you feel there's an adventure in that ; 
and you say to yourself that the South is waiting 
just round the corner ; and the word sounds to 
you like the name of a girl you love. And you 
see Africa — it's just a strip of sand and rocky 
hills — but it makes your heart jump, because 

3* 



36 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



Africa is, well, Africa ; there are no words for 
these things. But men have shed their blood 
for them, and they'll go on shedding it. 

" And you get to the Line — and it seems 
glorious to you — just an imaginary division in the 
sea — still, you'd write hymns to it if you knew 
how. . . . The East — everyone talks about the 
fascination of the East ; you thought you knew all 
about that, but then there's another East, further 
away, and that seems as delightful as finding a 
sovereign in a pocket you thought was empty. 
The forms of things on the map fascinate you like 
pictures ; you can read an atlas for hours. When 
there's a dotted line anywhere, or a blank space, 
you want so much to go there that it makes your 
mind ache just as your stomach aches when you're 
hungry " 



" I think you're a wizard, sir," I said, staring 
at him. For indeed he had spoken out my very 
inner mind. 

" Not a wizard, young Paul, only a man who's 
been there too," said Gore. There was some- 
thing I liked in his face. You would never have 
thought he had it in him to swear at you violently 
in four languages when you let his papers get 
astray. 

" Ah, but you " I said. 

" Same breed," said Gore, tucking the big cigar 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 37 

into the corner of his mouth. " Celebrity and all 
that, you mean ? Yes. But we're all one 
family, young Paul. You and I and Stanley 
and Burton and Sven Hedin and all of them. 
Any one of us would give up our lives for a river, 
or make love to a mountain range. Or we'd 
serve seven years, and seven years after that, for 
Rachel in the shape of a tribe that nobody'd 
ever heard of. No sense in it, boy, so far as we're 
concerned. Means a couple of letters after your 
name when you're growing old, and a flock of 
geese a-cackling over your little bit of work, 
and saying you never did it. . . . Means fevers 
and dirt and general uncomfortableness, short 
commons and that sort of thing. Spear or an 
arrow into you once in a way. Get three-quarters 
drowned now and again; get wrecked — beastly 
things, wrecks, except in boys' books. No com- 
fort. No wife, no home. I'd tell you to stop 
while you can — only that was before you bashed 
in the head of my valet, and came aboard. You'll 
never stop now. You're one of us, God help 
you ! " 

" There's nothing in the world I'd rather be," 
I said. 

" Twenty years — when the century's beginning 
to get middle-aged," went on Gore, as if he had 
not heard me. " Twenty years. . . . Your 



88 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

James and your Henry will have the mills then, 
because of course you'll be out of the old man's 
will, and they'll take care you stay out. They'll 
be respected. Sit on committees, people ask 
their opinions, stand for Parliament, make the 
nation's laws. Mrs. James and Mrs. Henry. 
Nice, pinky-faced young daughters, boys at 
school. Lamps in the windows when they come 
up the avenue at night. Stuffy comfy evenings, 
red curtains — and cats — and somebody making 
crochet. Home, young Paul." 

" If there's anything on the face of the earth I 
loathe," I said with emphasis, " it's home. And 
as for wives and kids, I can't for the life of me see 
why any man's fool enough to bother with them. 
And as for the rest, and red curtains, and stuffy 
evenings — why, sir, you'd have died if you'd had 
to live a life like that." 

" Oh, yes," said Gore, with that twinkle in his 
eye again. " Undoubtedly I'd have died — some 
of me. . . . But did you ever hear the schoolboy 
' howler ' about an amphibious animal ? " 

" * An animal that can't live in the water, 
and dies on the land,' " I quoted. 

" Yes. That kid shot straighter than he knew. 
There are such animals." 

" Well, I don't understand," I said. 

" No," answered Gore, looking down at me 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 39 

with the curious, middle-aged sort of wisdom 
that is so irritating to you when you are really 
young — in my opinion, elderly people of forty 
and upwards think they know a great deal more 
than they actually do. 

We fell to talking about Java then, and the 
subject dropped. But after that night I think 
we both understood our fortunes were linked by 
a stronger bond than that of a salary and service. 
As Gore had said, we were one breed. 

By this time he had told me where we were 
going, and I could have danced a hornpipe on 
the deck when I heard it. We were bound for 
New Guinea — not the comparatively settled 
and civilized area of British Papua, but the wild, 
unsettled northern coasts, and the archipelagos 
of Httle-known islands that lay beyond — Kaiser 
Wilhelms Land, the Bismarcks, the Solomons. 
There was nothing in all our baggage that 
engaged my attention so much, after this, as the 
great, finely-lettered atlas with its satisfying 
maps of every corner of the earth. I studied 
Borneo, Celebes, Halmaheira, Banda, Amboyna, 
Ceram, the Aru Islands — all the outliers of New 
Guinea — the great island continent itself, British, 
Dutch and German ; the lesser island groups 
that huddled round it, like chickens round a 
hen (indeed, the whole country is shaped not at 



40 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



all unlike a long, scraggy fowl). I gloated over 
the famous names that lay thick along its coasts — 
Geelvink, Schouten, Tasman, Le Maire, D'Entre- 
casteaux, and mentally shook my fist at the vandal- 
ism of the hideous titles along the German section 
— such names as Potsdamhaven, Stephansort, 
Friedrich Wilhelmshaven, Herbertshohe. 

" It's like a beastly lot of suburban villas, with 
monkey-puzzles in their gardens, along a tarred 
motor-road," I complained to Gore, when he 
found me nursing his weighty " Philip's " in a 
secluded corner of the deck. 

" What are you going to do about it ? " asked 
Gore oddly. 

" Do about it ? " I asked. In the curious 
pause that followed, the steamer's screw beat 
steadily, and the sound of the Java Sea rippling 
like corn silk before our bows, came up through 
the quiet afternoon. . . . Saucers and spoons 
were tinkling somewhere below ; it was evidently 
four o'clock. 

In those days — and they are not so long ago — 
the Terrible Year threw no shadow upon the 
sunny fields where mankind played like a child 
beneath the slopes of a slowly-waking volcano. 
Yet there were some, here and there, who sensed 
the first dull tremors, before the smoke and flame 
burst forth. Gore, I think, was one. I say 



Red Bob of the Bismareks 41 

think, for there were recesses in his mind to which 
I was never admitted. How much he may have 
known, guessed, found out, I can never even 
surmise. 

At any rate, he passed the matter off, and no 
more was said. If he, with his secret knowledge, 
whatever it may have been, saw " MENE, 
MENE, TEKEL UPHARSIN " written across 
the Friedrichs and Finschs of the map, so did 
not I. 



And now I have come to a part which is very 
difficult to tell. If I were one of those poetical 
fellows, who make a song about everything, in 
prose or in verse, I suppose it would be easy. 
But it is not. I read poetry, but I do not write 
it. And as for speaking it 

Well, when we came into the harbour of 
Banda, the last of the Moluccas, that blue, early 
morning, with the sun sending up long rays hke 
the crest of the P. and O. Company, behind the 
rim of the volcano 

You see, Banda Harbour is just a volcano. A 
crater with walls of green forest, quite steep 
straight up, and a floor of deep water — very 
deep and very blue-green. And there are 
islands. Little ones, with palms . . . palms. . . . 



42 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

No, I can't describe the place. It is hke some- 
thing that you see in a coloured picture when you 
are a little kid at school, and that you don't 
believe in when you grow up. Only it is true. 
Even the fortressed sort of stone town, and the 
castle on the height, that you see in the picture, 
are there too — there on Banda, last outlier of 
Malaysia, next to New Guinea, which is cer- 
tainly the end of the world. I am not going to 
write the history of the castle and the fort ; 
all castles and forts have exactly the same history. 
Somebody built them ; somebody else took them ; 
somebody took them again ; many somebodies 
were killed defending them ; then at last they 
grew old-fashioned, and the green grass sprang 
up among their stones, and tourists with guide- 
books wandered about among the ruins, giving 
the excellent imitation of a hen drinking that I 
have always observed to be inseparable from the 
tourist spirit. . . . 

I have nothing to say about the castle and 
fort of Banda, because life is short, and anyhow 
I am not Cook or Dr. Lunn of the tours. And 
besides, it was not at the forts that things 
happened. 

We came in early, as I have said, and a German 
author recited poetry at the Goonong Api 
as we dropped under its fiery cone, and a young 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 48 

doctor going to Kaiser Wilhelms Land said that 
the beautiful harbour was filled with the sea 
as a round, deep cup is filled with wine. I asked 
him if they drank wine out of cups in Berlin, 
and if so, why ; but he did not answer me. 
Personally, 1 should have said that the place 
was more like an immense circular skating rink, 
with canoes for the skaters. At any rate, it 
was wonderful, and the town was wonderful 
too. Gore let me have the morning off, and 
I made for the market without waiting for 
breakfast, bought a leaf full of hot curry and 
another of rice, and ate them as I went along 
through the sleepy stone streets to the nutmeg 
woods above. 

I do not know what took me to the nutmeg 
woods. The town was more interesting ; it 
was scattered with odd, sleepy Chinese, sitting 
motionless as temple gods inside their little 
shops, where no one ever seemed to come to buy, 
and Malays in silk jackets and cotton petti- 
coats, dozing on their feet at the street corners 
— and there were gateway carvings that made 
you think you were having a nightmare in broad 
daylight, and great Dutch planter houses — 
palaces almost — built largely of fine marble, 
but dropping to pieces for lack of a soul to live 
in them. Whereas, on the track that led up 



44 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

through the woods, there was nothing — nothing 
but trees. 

The morning was hot with the marrow- 
melting heat of Malaysia ; even here in the 
woods, where the slim, light nutmegs grew 
beneath the shadow of lofty kanaris, like delicate 
ladies sheltering beneath a canopy of green and 
gold, it was undeniably warm. Still, I went 
on and up. The sea was sparkling and cream- 
ing far away below, where one could see it 
through the openings in the forest, and the 
nutmeg flowers, carved ivory blossoms smelling 
of all the East, lay in drifts like faded snow, so 
that I could scatter them with my feet as I 
went. There were nutmegs everywhere, grow- 
ing at the same time as the flowers. It pleased 
me oddly to see that, I remember, and to know 
that leaf and fruit and blossom went on for 
ever and ever in these far-away, dreamy Islands 
of the Blest. And the fruit, like a nectarine 
to look at, with a jetty stone laced round in 
scarlet mace, was curiously fascinating — not very 
eatable, and yet one couldn't help eating it. . . . 

" It is first cousin to the lotus," I thought, 
as I set my teeth in a second. " If you ate 
enough of it, you would lie down here among 
these fallen flowers, with the scent of the spice 
in your brain, and stay there — you would doze 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 45 

away, listening to the sound of the sea, and 
dreaming — dreaming. You'd hear those crested 
pigeons cooing, and the sound of the steamers 
coming in and going away, and you'd never mind 
them. I can understand. . . ." 

I was touched by a kind of fear — not of the 
nutmeg, but of what it represented — the per- 
fumed dream, the cHnging, poisonous peace 
that wraps itself about the white man in the 
East beyond the East, leaving him, like Merlin 
in the hollow oak : 

" As dead, 
And lost to life, and name, and love, and fame." 

I remembered things I had seen on our long 
journey — palm huts on coral beaches, with 
bare, white feet loafing and lolling about the 
sand of the floors ; eyes of English grey that had 
grown empty-happy, as no white man's eyes 
should be, that looked out all day under eaves 
of sago-thatch to the far-off ruffle of the reef 
upon the blue. . . . 

I threw the nutmeg fruit away, but I laughed 
as I threw it. For I knew that, whatever my 
faults might be, I was not one of the kind that 
" goes black." ' 

I went on and up. It was pleasant to me to 
hear the tramp of my solid boots on the track ; 
it seemed, in that land of ghding, barefoot 



46 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



shadows, to mark me out as one of the master 
race. Only those who have Hved in tropical 
countries can understand the significance of the 
boot, I can fully believe. If the ancient Romans 
hadn't allowed themselves to slop about in 
sandals, they would still have been the masters 
of the world. 

Thinking after this fashion, I became aware 
of another boot ; a very light one, but unmis- 
takably no bare foot, sounding on the track 
somewhere above me. The air was so still 
under the great kanaris that one could hear 
every smallest sound. This boot, or shoe, was 
a long way off ; but there was something clean- 
cut and delicate about its fall that interested 
me. 

" A girl," I said, as it drew nearer, coming 
down. " A white girl. No half-castery in that 
walk. Young, I should guess. Pretty, if her 
face matches the sort of foot she seems to 
have. . . ." 

I sfood at a turn of the track and waited. A 
crested pigeon, deep in the wood, crooned 
monotonously to itself, like something that has 
been sounding for ever and ever, and never means 
to stop ; among the kanari tops a bustling, 
small breeze had begun to stir, but down below 
it was windless as the bottom of the sea. 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 47 



The step came round the corner. It was a 
girl. She was walking rather quickly ; she wore 
a pale-green dress, like leaves, instead of the all 
but universal tropical white. I remember I 
noticed that particularly, also the leaves in her 
hair, worn, I think, instead of a hat, to protect 
her from sunstroke, but looking, nevertheless, 
like an Oread's woodland crown. I saw, as she 
came nearer, that her face, under the leaves, 
was hke . . . what was it like ? Something 
that I had seen lately ; something that was 
sweet and intoxicating. . . . Why, it was like 
the blossoms of the nutmeg tree, carved ivory, 
pale and warm ; and the eyes were the colour 
of the nutmeg's fruit — deep-hidden, xich black 
stone. There was no colour at all in the cheeks, 
but the lips were red — it may have been my 
fancy, yet I think not — with the very redness 
of the crimson mace that lay scattered among 
the ivory flowers on the ground. 

Those dark eyes were eyes of the sun-lands, 
and the languor of the tropic world showed 
itself in the delicately poised head and undu- 
lating movements of the girl ; yet the fineness 
of her features, and especially the cameo cutting 
of nose and upper lip, proclaimed the blood 
pure European — especially to me. It was not 
for nothing that I had been the pupil of a famous 



48 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



anthropologist during many weeks of travel. I 
did not need to look at the Oread's finger-nails 
in order to know that there was no dark drop 
in her veins, despite the black eyes and the ivory- 
pale skin. The half or quarter-caste girl of 
gentle breeding, who swarms in Malaysian seas, 
charming, pretty, well-educated, yet cursed with 
the curse of mixed blood, that is sure as murder 
to " out " some day — this girl had not, and has 
never had, attraction for me. But the lady in 
green was a lady, one of my own race and blood, 
and I was interested in her. I judged her to 
be tropic-born, perhaps even of parents who 
were tropic-born themselves. We had not met 
with many of her kind ; ethnologically, I told 
myself, she was quite worth studying. I did 
study her. She seemed entirely unconscious 
of me ; she passed by me with the light, quick 
step that I had noticed (where did the languor 
come in ? Yet it was undoubtedly there), and 
melted away among the kanaris, like : 

" A green thought in a green shade." 

After she had gone by, a very slight, sweet 
perfume hung about in the air for a moment or 
two. Most women in Eastern lands have an 
unpleasant liking for strong, -coarse scent ; I 
had noticed it, and come to detest any odour 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 49 

that ever was manufactured and bottled. But I 
did not disHke this ; it was a fresh, live perfume, 
not dead nor made, and it seemed to represent 
the girl, when she was gone, as a picture represents 
a face. 

What I did not know then about this scent 
of hers I will tell now. She had a passion for 
tropic flowers — mostly for those resembling her- 
self, though I do not think this was a conscious 
selection. She loved frangipani, stephanotis, 
tuberose, trumpet-flower, magnolia, and all 
the rich white flowers, wax-like and marble- 
like and alabaster-like, that are comm.on in hot 
countries. Her passion for them was such that 
she always had them about her, sometimes in 
her hair and on her dress, more often concealed 
beneath her muslins and laces, next her own white 
skin, surrounding her with the delicate, mys- 
terious suggestion of flower-petals and fragrance 
that I had noticed, and that was so pecuHarly 
her own. 

I stood by the turn of the road for a little 
while after she had gone by. I smoked a cigar- 
ette, and wondered who this Oread with the 
woodland crown might be. I wondered where 
she lived. I wondered who was in love with 
her. I wondered why she had gone up the hill, 
and why she had come down. I wondered 

4 



50 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

if she ever wore a hat. There seemed no end 
to the wonder that flowed up Hke an outbreaking 
spring in my mind. 

I got down to the ship again, I don't quite 
remember when or how. I must have been 
thinking a good deal on the way, but I could 
not have told then, and cannot tell now, what 
I was thinking about. The steamer — a small, 
rather unsteady thing called the Afzelia — left 
again by sunset. I nearly missed her, because 
I lingered about the gangway till the sailors were 
pulHng it up, and had to jump in the end. I 
had an idea I wanted to see something or some- 
body, but was not sure what. 

Gore saw that I had nearly been left behind, 
but he made no comment. What you had nearly 
done, good or bad, never interested him. Clean- 
cut results were the only sort of thing that he 
had any use for. 



CHAPTER III 

THE ship, as I have said, was a German 
one, a tidy little boat that did the long 
trip from Singapore to German New Guinea 
and New Britain once in three months or so, 
carrying Government officers, planters and 
traders to the colony. We had only been on 
her a day or two before Banda, and I had not 
taken any special notice of the passengers, being 
too much interested in the strange Moluccan 
ports where we were calling to trouble about 
anything with a flavour of Europe in it. But 
after Banda, our last port of call on the way to 
Kaiser Wilhelms Land, the Afzelia became sud- 
denly so German that we two Englishmen 
began to feel a little " out of it." The magis- 
trates and customs people and postal officials, 
and captains of native forces, and managers of 
plantations and stores, began to march up and 
down the narrow decks with their chests swelled 
out, whistling soldierly airs ; the Kaiser's health 
was drunk after dinner, and free opinions were 
freely bandied about the Dutch colonies through 

51 4* 



52 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

which we had been passing — not to the advantage 
of Queen Wilhelmina's empire. 

" As soon as we get these places we shall reform 
them," I heard a tall, smart-looking fellow 
called Hahn say to a stocky South German trader. 
They were marching together up and down the 
decks under the shadow of Ceram, last outlier 
of Malaysia — a wonderful world of high, sabre- 
toothed peaks and rolling tablelands, Reckitt's 
blue in colour, hung above a sea of bluish silver. 

" Yes — yes," answered Wolff, the trader, 
nodding his round, cropped head, " so we shall." 

" That Ceram," went on Hahn, " is worth 
something, and when the natives have been well 
kicked, there will be no more fool's play of re- 
bellion. Also we shall back to life the trade of 
that dead island, Banda, immediately bring. 
Also Amboyna. Java we shall " 

" Guard ! " interrupted Wolff. " That young 
Englishman knows German." 

" What does that make ? " inquired Hahn, 
swinging his arms as he walked, and looking 
proudly over the sea. " In this part of the world 
it is not the English who are the masters." 

" No," I said, putting my head out of the 
saloon entrance, " only everywhere else. We 
don't mind your having a bite of our leavings." 

Hahn turned scarlet from crown to chin ; 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 53 

the very scalp under his golden bristles of hair 
glowed pink. 

** If you were a German," he said, restraining 
himself with some difficulty, " I should know 
how to answer that." He spoke in good English. 

" Answer it any way thou likest," I replied 
in German, using the familiar " ^«." 

" Damn you, then, I will ! " was his (English) 
reply. He pulled a dogskin glove out of his 
pocket (where I seriously believe he kept it for 
just such emergencies) and was about to throw 
it in my face, when a head, bald, fair, middle- 
aged, with peculiar, grey-green eyes, quietly 
projected itself from a neighbouring port-hole, 
and remarked : " Quiet ! " 

It had an extraordinary effect upon Hahn. He 
dropped his arm, looked at me sulkily, and was 
about to turn away. Oddly enough, I felt 
sorry for him ; I rather liked him on the whole. 
He wanted a row ; that was all in his favour — 
so did I want a row. And whoever the gentle- 
man with the commanding eye might be, he 
didn't command me. 

So I straightened out the situation in my own 
way. The glove was still in the young German's 
hand. I nipped it from between his fingers, 
flicked him on the nose with it, and handed it 
back with a bow. He turned pinker than ever, 



54 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



and looked at the bodiless head with what almost 
seemed an expression of entreaty. The head 
was sternly shaken. 

As for me, I had my back turned to the port, 
so I quietly winked at Hahn, and said, as I 
passed him by : 

" The first place we stop." Then I went to 
my cabin, and lit the biggest and blackest of 
cigars that I had bought in Sumatra. I felt that 
I owed it to myself. 

" Going to be fun," I said, and swung my feet 
joyously to and fro, over the edge of my bunk. 

I was not long left to enjoy myself. Gore 
sent for me, and gave me a lot of stuff to copy out 
in the saloon — our only working-place for the 
present. I took the papers, and set myself down 
at a side table with my typewriter, cursing his 
scientific zeal. I wanted to look at Ceram until 
we were out of sight — a piratical island, of the 
real old, fierce Malay type, where the natives were 
still actively engaged in hunting each other's 
heads, seemed to me a good deal more interesting 
than some dusty facts about culture drifts and 
modification by environment. 

We steamed on through a quiet sea, warm, 
pleasant winds pouring through the open door- 
ways of the saloon. I could hear the flying-fish 
skittering about our bows ; we were running 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 55 

through shoals of them. The ship's bells sounded 
in the sleepy stillness of the morning. 

Wolff and Hahn had disappeared ; I knew as 
well as if I had seen them, that they were sitting 
in some private cabin, drinking beer out of large, 
glass-handled mugs, and discussing the duel that 
the bodiless, elderly gentleman had seemed so 
anxious to prevent. A duel ! Something about 
my diaphragm was giving delighted little jumps 
as I worked. This was worth coming abroad 
for. This was better than punching the heads 
of second mates down in Larry's gymnasium. 

I finished the stuff — it was a typed extract from 
a scientific paper that Vincent Gore had told me 
to do — and carried it to his cabin. He took it 
from me, and began reading it over. I stood 
with one knee on the locker-couch, pulling the 
curtain-tassels, and wondering how best I could 
keep the nature of my proposed diversions from 
my employer — at least, until after the " next 
stopping-place." 

Gore read the whole extract through till the 
end. Then he opened a drawer, took out a red 
pencil, neatly underlined one passage, and 
handed the paper back to me without a 
word. 

I looked at the marked paragraph. It ran as 
follows : 



56 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



" Nevertheless, considering the history of these 
islands, one is compelled to allow that successive 
waves of immigration, arriving from India, 
China, and the continent of Africa, have in so far 
modified the original duel ..." 

It was my turn to grow red now. I felt myself 
flushing pinker than even Hahn had done. 

" May one ask," said Gore, in a singularly 
gentle and agreeable voice, " what duels are 
doing in this particular galley ? I never heard 
it was a custom of the races under question — but 
if you have made any new discovery " 

" Paying me a salary doesn't entitle you to 
make fun of me, sir," I cut in, twisting the 
tassels till they fell off in my hand. I threw 
them on the floor and looked at them. I found 
I was breathing rather hard. 

" No, young devil," said Gore, still in that 
pleasant voice, " but it does entitle me to notice 
if you mean to leave." 

" I don't mean to " I began. 

" Oh, yes, you do," said Gore. " By the 
shortest route — home. If I beHeved in the 
Christian mythology (it really does come in 
handy at times) I should say that you hadn't 
far to go — home — in a cHmate Hke this. . . . 
Now will you please tell me what you mean 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 57 

by cooking up duels when you are engaged in 
my service ? " 

His pleasant manner had suddenly flown out 
of window, and the last sentence was spoken 
in a tone that would — I suppose — have scared 
some people. It was also decorated — consider- 
ably. Gore was a remarkable hand at decorated 
language on occasion. 

I said nothing at all. I looked at him. 

" You know I can give information to the 
authorities, and stop it," said Gore. 

I said nothing. 

" You know I can dismiss you at the first 
port." 

I thought it time to speak. 

" You can do all those things," I said. " But 
you won't, Vincent Gore, because you're not the 
sort of man, whatever you may say, to stop a 
fight. Also because I can jolly well guess you've 
fought duels ^yourself." 

Gore leaned back in his seat, and gave vent to 
one of his appalling shouts of laughter. A scared, 
small steward peeped in at the door, asked feebly 
if the Herr wanted anything, and scurried away 
without waiting for an answer. 

"Well aimed!" he said. "Sit down and 
tell me about it." 

And I knew that I had won. I may mention 



58 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



here that the " Sir " was dropped from that day 
onwards, between us. 

I told him. He made no comment for a 
moment, and then asked : " They are evidently 
trying to force the challenge from you, so as to 
deprive you of the choice of weapons. . . . How 
are you with a pistol ? " 

" Don't worry about that," I replied. " Since 
I was a kid I've handled a Webley." 

" Let him do the challenging ; he will if you 
sit tight," observed Gore. 

" That's all right ; the old gentleman with 
the face won't stop him," I said. " We under- 
stand each other. Hahn is a white man. I 
wish I could punch his head instead. I'd enjoy 
it more, somehow." 

I went out again into the warm wind and the 
sun, pondering on many things. It seemed to 
me I had acquired a good deal of food for thought 
that day already, although it was not yet eleven 
o'clock. 

I was to acquire more. Half an hour after- 
wards, I met my employer coming round a 
corner, with an expression of abject terror on 
his face. 

Sudden death was the smallest thing I thought 
of — such ideas as an outbreak of bubonic plague 
on the ship, a coming typhoon that was bound 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 59 

to wreck us, fire among explosives in the hold, 
rushed through my mind, it is true, but only 
to be discarded on the instant. Nothing of that 
sort would have disturbed Red Bob's equani- 
mity. Then what, in the name of all calamity 
and disaster, had disturbed it ? 

My heart, as he came nearer, began to thump 
like the screw of the steamer. Surely unheard-of 
things were happening to-day ! I saw that 
Red Bob was gnawing the end of his moustache, 
and that his eyes looked Hke the eyes of a cat 
that is just going to jump out of your arms 
through the window. I should not have been 
surprised to see him make a spring over the rail. 

" What ? " I began, rather breathlessly. 

" God save us, Corbet ! " said the great 
explorer, almost trembling. " The damned ship 
is full of damned women ! " 

" Come into my cabin," was the first thing 
that occurred to me to say, for I really thought 
him mad. He preceded me into the little blue- 
and-white room, and sat down abruptly, mopping 
his forehead, and looking at me with an expression 
of abject dismay. I switched on the electric fan, 
and under cover of its steady buzz, which ensured 
us against being overheard from the next cabin, 
asked him : 

" Has anything happened ? " 



60 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

Gore was recovering somewhat. He answered 
peevishly. 

" I told you what had happened. The ship 
is crawling with them. At least, there are three, 
and that's as good, or as bad, as thirty." 

" I never knew you were — at least, on the 
Empress " 

" Give me a drink," interrupted Red Bob. 
I filled him out a glass of tepid water ; he drank 
it, and went on : 

" On the Empress, and after, the women, what 
there were of them, were married, if you'll 
remember." 

I did. The only lady pasesngers from Liver- 
pool to Singapore had been a few wives going 
to join their husbands. And later, on the way 
to Batavia and Makasser, there were no women 
at all, except a few half-castes. 

" Don't you like unmarried women ? " I 
asked, still feeling puzzled. 

Red Bob poured out and drank another glass. 

" I do not— I do not," he said. " Two of 
these are married, I believe — a Frau Baum- 
gartner and a Frau Schultz — agoing to join their 
husbands in Simpsonhafen — but the third . . . 
Yoimg Corbet, for God's and your employer's 
sake, go and flirt with the whole lot till we get 
there. I believe you're quite capable of it." 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 61 

" I don't mind," I said, struggling with a 
frantic desire to laugh, " but I haven't much 
leisure time." 

" You shall have all you want," declared Gore, 
leaning back in his seat, and watching the blue 
curtains sway out and in through the yellow circle 
of the port. " I feel better now. ... It was the 
lean one did it. She scared the seven senses out 
of me, up there on the boat-deck just now." 

" Scared the seven Would you mind 

telling me what she did ? " I asked. I would 
have given the world to be able to explode, like 
an overcharged soda-water bottle. 

" She didn't do anything. She sat and 
sniggled at me, and babbled. She saw a hole in 
my sock where I'd just torn it on a nail, and she 
put her head on one side, and said : ' Oh, Mr. 
Vincent Gore ! What a sad life you must lead, 
without a woman's hand to attend to these 
things for you ! '" 

I was speechless. 

He went on. " And then she said : * Is there 
nothing I could do for you ? ' * Madam,' I said, 

* you could ' But she stopped me, and said 

with another sniggle : ' I'm not madam, I'm 
miss — I'm a girl ! ' A girl, and she as old as I 
am ! * W^ell, madam, or miss, as you like,' I said, 

* you could leave me alone ; I want to read.' " 



62 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" You didn't ! " I interrupted. 

" I did," said Gore, with a terrified look. 
" But she simmered at me, and said " 

" She simpered ? " 

" No, simmered — Hke a saucepan bubbUng — 
and said : ' Oh, Mr. Gore, you're too much 
alone, I'm afraid ; but I can understand about 
that, for so am I.' ' Excuse me,' I said, ' I've 
forgotten something in my cabin,' and got up — 
I got up and ran away." 

It was too much. I collapsed on my berth, 
and shrieked, rolling over and over in an agony 
of mirth. 

" Don't, for heaven's sake," said Gore. " If 
she hears you, she'll think you have a fit, and 
insist on coming in to nurse you. She's so beastly 
sympathetic." 

" I never thought you were afraid of anything," 
I choked, wiping the tears out of my eyes. 

" You thought dashed wrong," replied Gore. 
" That sort of woman has been the tragedy of 
my life. Corbet — " he sat straight up, and 
his blue eyes dilated into the lakes of fire that had 
won him his name — " Corbet, some day a woman 
like that'll get me, and I won't even have the 
pluck to hang myself." 

" Oh, rats ! " I said disrespectfully, rocking to 
and fro in the anguish of my enjoyment, ^* A 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 63 

woman can't make a man marry her. Anyhow, 
I never was afraid of anything that wore a skirt, 
in all my life." 

" Honest Injun ? " asked Red Bob, fixing his 
eyes on me. They were blue and quiet now. 

" Honest ! " I said. 

" Shake ! " remarked Bob gravely, holding out 
his hand. " You're a braver man than I am." 

" Well, I know what your heel of Achilles is 
now," I said, getting up and going to the glass. 

" What are you after ? " asked Gore. 

I pulled down my tie, and buttoned up my coat 
so as to show my figure, which is none of the 
worst. 

" Going to talk to the lady who suffers from 
lonehness," I said, putting on my Panama with 
a rakish cock. 

" Go on, Casabianca," said Gore, reaching 
for my cigarettes, " I'll stay where I'm safe." 

We were almost out of sight of Ceram now, 
and the Afzelia was steaming steadily along 
towards the wild, strange coasts of New Guinea. 
The wonderful island-continent had not yet 
hfted its head out of the sea ; I might have been 
more deeply engaged in looking out for it, had I 
not been interested in looking for something still 
stranger than itself — the woman who had scared 
Red Bob. 



CHAPTER IV 

1 FOUND her on the boat-deck. She was 
reading, and did not hear my approach, 
so I was able to get a good look at her before 
she saw me. I should not have thought her to 
be so old as Gore had said, but she was certainly 
not far off forty, and she could never, at any 
age, have been pretty. She was smallish, and her 
figure — was there, or was there not, anything 
wrong with it ? I thought not, at a second 
glance. Her feet were small, but flat and ill- 
shod ; her hands, roughened by exposure with- 
out gloves, were what the palmists call " spatu- 
late." She looked up as I came nearer. I saw 
then that she had a — was it a squint ? No, 
after all, it was not. Her smile was the one thing 
about which there could be no doubt ; it was 
undeniably false. On the whole, I did not Hke 
her. 

She spoke at once. 

" Oh, you are Mr. Corbet — I saw your name in 
the purser's list. It's so nice to have a couple 
of Englishmen on board, among all these foreigners 

64 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 65 



— and then such a celebrity as Mr. Vincent 
Gore ! " 

Her voice did not match her person ; it was 
soft and pleasant — a misfit voice that should 
have belonged to a pretty woman. A pretty 
woman, however, would not have had that 
carneying manner. 

Her hair was of no particular colour ; her 
dress, as far as I can describe it, seemed to be 
something squashy, with tags and bobs about it. 
By force of contrast, it brought to my mind 
something very different — the green floating robe, 
fresh and soft as a leaf, worn by the Oread of the 
mountain woods. But the Oread had nothing 
to do with my present duty — I had to remind 
myself of that. Who was that irritating heroine 
of Dickens's who used to go about jingling a basket 
of keys, and saying to herself : " Duty, Esther ! 
Duty, my dear ! '' I thought of her, with a grin, 
as I pulled myself together, and took a seat near 
the last from Banda. . . . After all, she had 
come from the island inhabited by the Oread ; 
she might even be able to tell me something about 
her. . . . Duty, for the moment, seemed some- 
thing easier. 

The lady looked at me over the top of her 
novel, with her head a good deal on one side. 

5 



66 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



(Did she really squint ? No, a second time. 
She only made you think she was going to.) 
I saw her eyes fairly now ; they were greyish, 
small, and very keen, and they seemed to be 
adding me up with considerable acuteness. 
There was no familiarity in her address ; I should 
have wondered if Red Bob had not been dream- 
ing, if I had not seen the unmistakable marks 
of terror produced by the lady's attentions to 
him, only half an hour ago. 

As for what she said, it was simply the in- 
evitable British comment on the weather. She 
informed me that it was a fine day. I, in my 
turn, informed her that the fine days thereabouts 
averaged some three hundred a year. She smiled 
a slightly one-sided smile, as I have noticed 
women do who are uncertain of their charms, 
and said gently that I knew all about those 
matters, no doubt, but she was just a stupid 
little thing who had to ask everything she 
wanted to know. It seemed to me that the 
remark was rather a clever one — supposing that 
she had summed me up as a man with more 
worldly keenness than Vincent Gore was pos- 
sessed of. I knew then, and know now, that 
I had not a tenth part of his. brains, but for 
mere commonplace sharpness I was easily his 
master. 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 67 

" You don't know my name," said the small 
lady (I saw now that she was small — oh, no, not 
dwarfish ; nor had she a squint, nor was she 
crooked — one had to keep reminding oneself 
of all these things). " I'm Miss Siddis — Mabel 
Siddis. You've never heard of me — no one 
ever has. I'm nobody. I'm just a little gover- 
ness going back to my work in Herbertshohe ; 
they wanted an English governess, and I saw the 
advertisement in Sydney. I can't afford to take 
holidays in Australia or Singapore, so I came down 
as far as Banda, because I have kind English 
friends there. Or, rather, I had. It was a Mrs. 
Ravenna, an Englishwoman married to an Italian 
who settled there years and years ago. And 
she died while I was there — poor dear Mar- 
garet ! But this is all a bore to you." 

It was, but I couldn't say so. I made the 
inevitable contradiction, lit a cigarette, by special 
permission, and resigned myself to my duty. 
I didn't see that it demanded attention on my 
part, if I could only manage to look attentive. 
So I let my mind wander off towards Hahn and 
the " next stopping place," while Miss Siddis 
babbled gently on at my side. 

I gathered that she was giving me the family 
history of the Ravennas — why the original Ra- 
venna had come to Banda and settled there, why 

5* 



68 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



his wife had married him, how he had died, how 
she had followed him. There was somebody 
called Schultz in the story, also Schultz's wife. 
I remembered that Gore had told me the 
Schultz woman was on board. I knew exactly 
what she was like ; all middle-class German 
women are the same woman, and I rather thought 
I had seen her as I came on deck — a fat, grey- 
cotton back, below an area of barren neck leading 
to a small plot of scraped-up hair. She didn't 
seem to be the sort of person one wanted very 
passionately to hear about. I smoked, and 
looked blankly at Miss Siddis, letting my 
imagination run before me to the mysterious 
land of New Guinea, now so near. . . . Weren't 
we up to the islands and headlands of Dampier 
Strait ? If I could just get away forward for 
a minute. . . . 

I woke to attention with a jump. What was 
Miss Siddis saying ? 

" As for mourning, of course, no one in the 
tropics is expected to wear black. But I did 
say, and do say, that white, with a black sash, 
is only common respect. And when I saw her 
going about everywhere in green, just usual " 

" Saw who ? " I asked, with sudden, sharp 
interest. 

" Isola, of course — Mrs. Ravenna's daughter — 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 69 

as I've been telling you," said Miss Siddis, with 
that phantom squint almost visible again. 

" Isola ! What a curious name ! " 

" It was her father. He called her ' Isola 
Bella ' because he said Banda was an ' isola 
bella ' — that's Italian, you know ; it means 
' beautiful island,' and she was born there. So 
he called her that. A very fanciful name." 

" A beautiful name," I said, determining to 
know more about it, and about its owner. 

" Oh, yes ! " said Miss Siddis, with instant 
pliability. " Fanciful and beautiful — that's what 
I meant." 

" She should be a beautiful girl herself, if 
she matches her name," I added. 

Miss Siddis fingered her novel, and I saw some- 
thing ugly look out of her small eyes. But her 
voice was gentler and pleasanter than ever as 
she answered : 

" Now that's so nice of you ! I can see you 
are one of the people who like to think the very 
best of everyone right away. Yes, poor Isola — 
yes, I should certainly say she was pretty. Oh, 
yes. You might call her that." 

" Why do you call her poor ? " I asked. 

" Oh, I've just told you ! " 

" Yes, of course," I said, cursing my own 
stupidity. What had she told me about the 



70 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



girl ? Only her parents' death, and something 
about Frau Schultz, who seemed to be a worry 
to someone, as far as I could recollect the scraps 
of Miss Siddis's yarn that had penetrated to my 
consciousness. It seemed, then, that the Oread 
of the mountain was an orphan, and that Frau 
Schultz, somehow or other, was an annoyance 
in her life. ... I resolved that, employer or 
no employer, I was not going to make myself 
pleasant to Frau Schultz. 

I was quite prepared to stick by Miss Siddis 
now, being determined to get out of her all there 
was to be got about the girl in green — but Nature 
and the Pacific Ocean willed otherwise. We 
were well out from under the shelter of Ceram 
now, and in the open sea. The Ajxelia^ which 
had run on an even keel ever since we joined 
her at Makasser, felt the coming swell of the 
great ocean, though we were not in it yet, and 
began to dip and roll — not very much, but it 
was enough for Miss Siddis. 

She gathered up her novel and her workbag, 
murmured an apology, and fled. 

I remained alone on the boat deck, sitting 
astride a boat to watch the blue shadow on the 
water that was New Guinea-^New Guinea at 
last ! — and thinking about Miss Siddis and the 
girl in i^rccn. T had a notion that the former 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 71 

was more dangerous than she might seem to be. 
Her carneying voice and deprecating manner, 
her skill in flattery, the hidden hardness of will 
that I sensed beneath all her chnging and purring, 
might be dangerous to a man like Gore. I 
knew her kind ; it is a pathetic sort of creature 
in a way — the woman who has proved too un- 
attractive to secure an " establishment " in 
England, and who, in consequence, roams the 
world's waste places seeking whom she may 
devour. But I was not going to let any pity 
for Miss Siddis influence me in my duty as the 
watch-dog of Vincent Gore. I knew his weak 
point now, and meant to guard it. 

Besides . . . besides . . . she was an insinua- 
ting, little, crooked creature ; she was curious, 
as all inferior minds are curious. What was the 
hidden object of our journey ? — what might 
happen if she found it out ? 

I came to a resolve there and then. I would 
know the secret myself, before I slept that 
night. It was time, and more than time, that 
Gore should take me into his confidence. 

Late in the afternoon we came to New Guinea. 

It was not in the least what I had imagined. 
I had expected huge rivers with painted war- 
canoes dashing forth from them, immense 



72 Red Bob of the Bismareks 



peaky mountains overhanging the sea, stilt- 
legged villages with wonderful temples, black 
marshes full of crocodiles and crabs. . . . 

Instead, I saw only a group of islands of 
moderate size and height, cut through by calm, 
dark straits. There were no villages, no houses, 
no rivers, no canoes, just that smear of dusky, 
lonely islands lying on a darkening sea. The 
mainland was not yet in sight. All the land we 
saw was hidden under a blanket of black forest, 
that swept from the summits of the hills down 
to the lip of the water. In all the Malaysian 
islands, there had been lights that moved and 
shone at dusk, and canoes flitting among the 
shallows like water-flies ; one had heard the 
merry tom-tomming of the drums from the little 
villages, and always, from Sumatra right to 
Ceram, one smelt the universal, unforgettable 
smell of Indonesia — sandalwood, dust, gum 
damar and dried fish. 

Here, running through Dampier Strait in the 
sinister sunset dusk, here at the very end of the 
world (for it felt like that) you heard no sound 
but the beating of the ship's steel heart, echoed 
back by the walls of the strait as she ran through. 
You saw no lights on the black, furry blanket 
of forest, untouched, unbroken. 

If there was any living thing upon those 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 73 

islands, it hid itself well. You listened to the 
silence of New Guinea, you smelled its mystery. 
For there was a new smell on the sea air, and it 
stirred — it called like a voice. It was subtle, 
cold and sweet ; I cannot describe it, but you 
who have been by Geelvink Bay, who have 
panted in a launch up the Fly, who have seen the 
war-canoes slip out from the black beaches of 
cruel Mambare and heard the alligator belling 
under the shadows of Mont Yule — you will 
remember it — the sunset smell of Papua. 

It grew dark then all in a minute, for we were 
close on the equator, up there by the long, north- 
ward trending beak of New Guinea — and the 
ship ran on towards the Pacific under invisible, 
impending mountains ; still in the silence, still 
in the dark. Gore had once told me that New 
Guinea sunsets were like the Judgment Day. 
It seemed to me that New Guinea itself, in the 
dusk, was like a man's awakening after death 
in the twilight of lost souls. 

Gore came up to me where I was standing in 
the ship's head, away from passengers and sailors, 
and sat himself down upon the opposite side of 
the bulwark, holding on by a stay. 

" New Guinea," he said. " Feel her stretch- 
ing out to you. . . . She's your love. Her lips 



74 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

have blood on them, but you'll kiss her. You'll 
leave her, and come back to her. We all do. 
New Guinea calls." 

" I can believe it," I said. They had begun 
to play the piano in the saloon ; one of Richard 
Strauss's waltzes was sounding over Dampier 
Strait, and our lights shone yellow on the curdled 
ink of waters where the old, old ships of dis- 
covery, manned by sturdy Dutchmen seeking 
fortune in the unknown, had passed by in the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Not a 
feature of the place was changed since then. 
As New Guinea had been in the days of Eliza- 
beth, so — here at the end of the world — it had 
remained. Down southward, there were five 
white settlements — Merauke, Port Moresby, 
Samarai, Friedrich Wilhelmshaven and Simpson- 
hafen — all mere villages, scattered about the 
coasts of a country four times the size of England 
— but up about Geelvink, Dampier Strait, and 
the (Papua) Cape of Good Hope, there was the 
black blanket of forest, the mountains and the 
sea. No more. 

We ran on through the strait, and now, coming 
out into the open, the great Pacific made itself 
felt, and the Ajzelia^ like the bergs in the song, 
" began to bow her head, and plunge, and sail 
in the sea." At the same time a breath of air 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 75 

crept across the bows, so cold, so penetrating, 
that it made me shudder in my thin, heat- 
soaked drill. 

" Get your coat," said Gore. " You'll be down 
with fever if you don't. We're passing the great 
snow mountains of Dutch Guinea — you couldn't 
see them in broad daylight, but they can make 
themselves felt, though they're right in the, 
interior. Get your coat — and we'll talk." 

" Shall we ? " I asked, pausing with my 
foot on the deck. 

" I promise you," said Gore. " I always meant 
to, when we sighted New Guinea." 

I brought his own as well, but he would not 
take it. 

" An old dog for a hard road," he said. " No- 
thing can kill me. There's the second bell ; 
they'll all have gone in to dinner in a few 
minutes, and we can talk quietly." 

I might have mentioned that it was one of 
his peculiarities to leave out any meal that 
happened to interfere with what he might be 
doing at the moment. I saw myself deprived 
of dinner for that evening ; but the occasion 
was worth it — more so than many others had 
been. Several times on the voyage a visit to some 
ruin that didn't particularly interest me, or an 
endless conversation in Malay with some tiresome 



76 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

chief, had forced my youthful stomach to do 
penance that (I suspected) was no penance at 
all to the hardened frame of Red Bob. One 
of his huge Burmese cheroots always seemed 
dinner or lunch enough for him. He had lit 
one now, and it was glowing in a sharp point of 
scarlet against the mysterious outlines of New 
Guinea, the unknown land. The ship slid on 
in the dark. They had put out the lights on the 
boat deck to assist the steersman and drawn the 
curtains in the saloon ; we could not see ourselves, 
or the water, or anything of the land but that 
faint, looming shadow, blackness against the black. 

Red Bob said nothing at all for what seemed 
to me quite a long while. I lit a cigarette to 
keep him company, and waited as patiently as 
I could, which was more patiently than usual, 
for so many things had happened that day that 
my mind had been beaten into weariness. The 
first night of New Guinea — the duel — Red Bob's 
amazing cowardice concerning Miss Siddis — 
the news I had managed to pick up about Isola 
Ravenna, all these things had moved and excited 
me. Now there was something more. I felt 
that I needed my cigarette ; I puffed at it 
gratefully. ... 

By and by Red Bob spoke, jumping home to 
the heart of his subject, as always was his way. 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 77 



" Pm out — and you're out — after the pearls 
of Willem CorneHszoon Schouten." 

" The what ! " I said. 

" The pearls," he repeated, " of Willem 
CorneHszoon Schouten. I should feel more 
certain I was going to get them, if you could 
avoid the habit of jumping and exclaiming when 
anything astonishes you." 

" I will," I said, swallowing my annoyance. 

"You've got to," replied Red Bob. "This 
is no sort of a picnic for babes ; and there are 
likely to be times when your life and mine — 
if either of them's worth anything — will hang 
on your keeping your head. Well — I suppose 
you remember who Schouten was ; you ought 
to." 

We had been working on the population ques- 
tion for a few days, and the observations of all 
the old Dutch navigators had been tabulated 
by me for Vincent Gore's reference. 

" Schouten and Le Maire," I said, " sailed 
from the Texel in 1615, to look for a passage to 
the South Seas south of Magellan's Strait. They 
discovered Cape Horn, and then they went 
wandering about the Pacific — and I think they 
discovered New Britain — and they came up 
round this way, and got to Batavia, and one of 
their ships was seized." 



78 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" It was," said Gore, " because — as you don't 
remember — they were trying to evade the law 
which gave the monopoly of all trading voyages 
made through the Straits of Magellan, or round 
the Cape, to the Dutch East India Company. 
The Hoorn, Schouten's ship, had been burned 
before they got to Jilolo. It was the other ship, 
the Eendracht, that was seized, by Governor 
Jans Pieterszoon Coen. Spilbergen took 
Schouten and Le Maire home vAth. him, and 
Le Maire died of vexation before they got to 
Holland. Schouten didn't ; he was made of 
harder stuff." 

There was a pause here ; Gore puffed at his 
cheroot, which seemed to draw a little hard, 
as some of these native Burmese cigars will do. 
It had grown darker : you could tell by the 
echoing beat of the screw that we were some- 
where near land, but the shadow on a shadow 
was swallowed up in one all-covering blackness, 
that lay on unseen land and sea like the cover of 
a coffin pressed down upon the dead. 

" H'm ! something coming, I think," said 
Gore. He shifted his seat upon the bulwark, and 
went on, in a quiet voice that scarcely rose above 
the hissing of the Afzelia's stem through the 
unseen water. 

" I was here before — more than once — tracing 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 79 

the incidence of the different waves of immigra- 
tion — well, you know the result." 

I did. Before ever I boarded the Empress of 
Singapore, and sent Sterry the valet to hospital, 
for his good and mine, I had heard of Vincent 
Gore's Line of Culture Drifts. It stands with 
Wallace's Line, in scientific importance — 
higher, indeed, because Wallace's Line, nowadays 
— but I am not writing for the scientific press, 
I am telling of the hunt for the pearls of Willem 
Corneliszoon Schouten. 

" I spent most of my time about the north 
and north-east coasts," he went on. " Kaiser 
Wilhelms Land and the Bismarcks. Especially 
the Bismarcks — New Britain, New Ireland, and 
so on. You'll find people there — and nearer — 
who will tell you that I had a double game on. 
Secret mission — Government — and so on." 

I could not turn my tongue to ask him if it 
was true, although I wanted most passionately 
to know. Where is the man in his early twenties 
who will not rise to the word " secret mission " 
as a trout to a fly ? 

" Reason why they thought it," went on Gore, 
" was because that is their own game. German 
wants to know something he hasn't any business 
to know about us or our places — first thing he 
does is to go in the character of a man of science. 



80 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



'Cause we know so dashed Httle about science, 
we'll believe anything anyone tells us about it, 
and we — speaking of the public in general — have 
a sort of idea that a Professor — as we call them — 
is a woolly-brained old boy who spends his time 
measuring skulls, and wouldn't know a concealed 
battery from a currant bun, or recognize a private 
signal-book if somebody dropped it in his 
soup. . . . Well, you may take it — you may safely 
take it — that German scientific research is a 
dashed sight more researching than it seems to 
be, sometimes." 

He stopped again. From the saloon below 
ascended sounds of plates and cutlery, also certain 
pleasant smells that made me puff hard at my 
cigarette. They were having stuffed veal to- 
night. If there was anything on earth I loved, it 
was stuffed veal — browned — with cherries. . . . 

" Well," went on Gore, dismissing the subject, 
" that's neither here nor there. Only they 
hampered me a bit once or twice. So I went 
out to places at the end of everywhere — places 
they didn't know they'd got and don't know 
yet. And I ran across something that made me 
think — not about culture drifts. ' Something 
else." 

We were running very quietly now, with a 
slight, steady roll. The night was too black for 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 81 

one to see beyond the gaping hawse-pipes and the 
V-shaped end of the bow, but I could smell the 
land — a new smell now, with a mangrovy and 
marshy flavour in it. Something sounded away 
on the starboard beam — a distant bellow, with 
a sort of upturned snarl in it, and a long moaning 
tone like a fog-siren. 

" Alligator — though properly speaking, it's a 
crocodile. Always called alligators in New 
Guinea. It's no use making oneself peculiar. 
Nasty beggars by any name you like to call 
them, and these northern rivers are hopping with 
them. Well — I ran across something, as I've 
said. I'll tell you what it was another time. And 
it made me think. You know, young Paul, 
I've warned you about what this sort of life means 
— danger and hardship and accident and all 
that — but there's one thing perhaps I didn't rub 
in enough. Want of cash, my son. Being hard 
up. Money enough to rub along with while 
you're fit — because any man who can knock 
around the backstairs of the world and not find 
little things lying about that nobody's thought 
of picking up, must be a bigger fool than me — or 
you. But when age comes, or break-down, the 
tame beasts of burden have the best of it." 

" I daresay," I said. " But when one has 

only oneself to think of " 

6 



82 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" I haven't," said Gore. " I have my 
daughter." 

After the previous lesson, I did save myself 
from answering : " Your w^hat ? " But I only 
did it by biting my cigarette clean through. 

Gore seemed pleased by my silence — or so the 
tone of his voice suggested, as he went on. 

" I have to think of her. I shan't be always 
here — and it worries. Eats in." 

" I didn't know you were ever married," I 
ventured, wondering how many more revelations 
I was to hear that day. 

Gore pushed his cheroot into the corner of his 
mouth, as he answered : 

" I never was." 

" Oh ! " I said feebly. 

He went on, in a tone completely devoid of 
expression. 

" She is nineteen. Very pretty — very pretty 
indeed — like. . . . She is deHcate. Crippled. 
Doesn't walk. Bath chair and all that sort of 
thing." 

There was a silence ; I felt it incumbent on me 
to say something, but could think of nothing save 
the banal question : 

" Was it an accident ? " 

" No," said Gore, still quite inexpressively. 
He did not even stop smoking. " Done on 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



purpose. Her mother was thrown downstairs 
the night the child was born." 

This time I forgot my lesson, and said, " Good 
Lord ! " adding : " Who did it ? " 

" Her husband," repHed Gore calmly. " You 
might give me a match ; this dashed thing has 
gone out at last." 

I gave it, mentally ejaculating " Good Lord ! " 
again. 

" She died," went on Gore conversationally, 
unsnapping his cigar-case and scraping a match 
on the bulwark. I could see his hard, lean face, 
with the brilliant eyes — " the brow of an angel, 
and the jaw of a devil," as someone said of Sir 
Richard Burton — lit up by the small red flame 
as he shielded it with his hands, and set it to the 
cigar. 

" So did he," went on Red Bob, when the great 
roll of tobacco had caught. 

" Died ? " I asked. " How ? " 

Red Bob burst out into a great fit of 
laughter, as he had done in my cabin, earlier 
on that day. 

" Ostend," he said. " Thirty paces. Smaller 
intestine shot through, one lumbar vertebra 
smashed. Lived a week, howling except when 
they had him under morphia. I used to call, 
to listen to him. Have a cheroot, youngster ; 

6* 



84 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

those cigarettes of yours are filthy things to ruin 
your nerve." 

I took it, feeling — there is no elegant word for 
the condition — flabbergasted. 

" So," said Gore, with the air of one taking up 
a conversation at the exact point where it had 
been abandoned, " it happens that Pm greedier 
after money than most people might suppose — 
for reasons. Always on the smell after it, even 
when Pm busy with something else. And this 
last time the scent was hot. So hot, Pd have 
run it down, only I wanted someone to work 
with me, and — as I told you — the fellow I had 
talked. Sterry didn't. He was a good sort ; 
he'd have done just as well as yourself." 

Whoever looked for smooth sayings from Red 
Bob was fishing in Dead Sea waters. I held my 
tongue, though I thought — no matter. 

" Willem Corneliszoon Schouten," repeated 
Gore dreamily. " Good old boy. I always 
had a liking for him^him and Dampier — you'd 
be astonished if you knew how many hundreds 
of men would rather have been WiUiam 
Dampier, and had his chances, than go to 
heaven for evermore. . . . But I never 
thought old Willem Corneliszoon would leave 
me a legacy." 

They were through with the soup and meat 



Red Bob of the Bismareks 85 

now, and I thought — unless my nose mistook me, 
and I did not think it did — there was a smell 
of pancakes on the air. Also something suety 
and plummy. I put my hands inside my coat, 
and hauled in my belt. It did not do as much 
good as I had expected. 

" I needn't give you the whole history, or, 
rather, I won't, just now," went on Gore. ** It 
came about through my spending a summer in 
Holland, poking about museums and libraries. 
And picture galleries. In that fine one at the 
Hague, there's a picture of Helga Maria Van 
Oosterdyck — the girl old Schouten wanted to 
marry and didn't ; I read all about it in Hall's 
* History of the Low Countries in the Sixteenth 
and Seventeenth Centuries.' She has a magni- 
ficent pearl necklace, with a sort of pearl cypher 
hanging on to the end of it — a monogram, but a 
very complicated one, and not made any easier 
by the age of the picture. I got it photographed, 
and took the photo away with me, because I 
fancied the face — it was pretty — very pretty — 
like someone I used to know — anyhow, I hked 
it. It's nearly as celebrated as that Httle 
Duchess Christina of Holbein's — and not so 
unlike her." 

I was getting more and more interested, though 
the sensations aroused by the passage of an officer's 



86 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



dinner on a tray, towards the quarters at the end 
of the deck, were passionate enough to induce 
me to take up another hole in my belt. What was 
he having ? Stewed beef, I thought — hot and 
full of gravy — and surely that was pineapple 
fritters that accompanied it. . . . What was it 
Gore was saying ? I did not want to miss a 
word — even for the officer's dinner, which indeed 
I rather wished to neglect altogether. 

" Well," went on the deep voice at my side, 
" before I went to Holland, it happened that Vd 
come across the tracks of old Willem Corneliszoon, 
about German Guinea — no matter where, just 
yet. Now you know — or you don't — that pearls, 
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, were 
nearly all obtained from what they called the 
' Indies ' — a pretty big term, but it didn't 
include the Pacific, except a bit about Panama. 
Of course the islands were chock full of pearls, 
every here and there, as they are now, but those 
old explorers never seem to have suspected it — 
went hunting about for mythical islands called 
* Rica de Plata ' and ' Rica de Oro,' when there 
were hundreds of ' Ricas de Perlas ' everywhere, 
if they'd only known it. Well, Willem Cornelis- 
zoon Schouten — I love his name.; it sounds like 
the name of a man who could do things ; you 
might expect a Jacob Ic Maire to curl up and die 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 87 

when a Governor turned nasty — Willem went to 
some places where most people don't know he 
went. And he found things they didn't know he 
found. But I'd never have got on the scent, 
from now till the crack of doom — by the way, 
what is doom, and why should it crack ? If it 
means the Christian idea of Judgment Day, why 
don't they say trump ? — well, anyhow, I'd never 
have picked up the scent but for Helga Maria 
Van Oosterdyck — whom he certainly ought to 
have married, if suitability in names had anything 
to say to such matters." 

Gore stopped, and glanced about him in the 
dark. There was no one near ; I think he would 
have managed somehow or other to see anyone 
there had been — he always seemed to me to have 
sharper senses than anybody else. 

" Well, one day, when I was puzzling about 
what I had seen, I happened to come on the 
picture of Helga Maria in one of my boxes. I 
was looking at it — carelessly — but sometimes, 
when half your mind is at work on a thing, to 
your knowledge, in the ordinary way, the other 
half is at work without your knowledge, in some 
way that isn't ordinary. It was so in that case. 
As I was looking at the picture, the reading of the 
monogram jumped straight at my eyes, and I 
saw — without the shadows that had perplexed 



88 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

me, mind you ; that was what had been doing 
the mischief — that it was * W. C. S.' 

" Well, it told me the whole thing, for a reason 
m explain later. It cleared — the matter I had 
been puzzHng over. Schouten did find pearls 
in the Pacific, and he left a record of it. No 
matter where — now. And he brought some of 
them home, and gave them to Helga Maria. She 
took them — no woman could have helped taking 
them — but she didn't marry him, for all that. 
And as for Schouten, I've no doubt he meant to 
come back again, but he never did ; if one could 
see through the fogs of that three hundred 
years — but one can't. At any rate, till the latter 
nineteenth century, no one went looking for pearls 
in the Western Pacific again. And no one ever 
found the remains of Willem Corneliszoon 
Schouten's pearls — but me. And I haven't found 
them yet. That's all, youngster — for the 
present. Stop pinching in your diaphragm with 
that smart belt you bought to impress the ladies 
of Batavia — whom it didn't impress, because they 
have no waists themselves — and go and get your 
dinner." 

" What about you ? " I asked, springing down 
from my seat. 

" Not worth the bother," said Gore, sliding 
down to the deck, and setting his back comfort- 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 89 

ably against the iron plates of the bow. " Tell 
the steward to bring me two handfuls of raisins. 
Raisins, dates and olives are " 

I did not wait to hear what they were. I was 
convinced that the plummy pudding would be 
finished. . . . 

It was not, and there was still some beef stew 
— tepid, but satisfying. As for the roast veal, 
only the cherries remained. I ate them, and was 
thankful. When the silently protesting steward 
had cleared my table, I went out on deck, feeling 
at peace with the world, and found a long chair 
where I could lie and think. 

" Going to be fun ! " was the result of my 
thinking. " Going to be jolly fun. How glad 
— how very glad I am that I punched Sterry, and 
that he didn't punch me. 

" Now I should not be surprised," I meditated 
further, " if Red Bob never said another word 
about his daughter again. It would be like 
him." 

It seemed I was right, for he never did. 



CHAPTER V 

THE " something coming " that Red Bob 
had predicted came in the night. 
North New Guinea is out of the hurricane zone, 
but nevertheless the Pacific, that ill-named 
ocean, welcomed us to the neighbourhood of the 
Schoutens with a blow that would have given 
the average steamship passenger something to 
talk about for the rest of his life. However, we 
were not average passengers on the Afzelia. I 
was by a long way the least experienced ; the 
Germans had almost all been in the German- 
African colonies, to China, and to Australia, and 
even Miss Siddis (who turned up smiling as soon 
as the worst was over) could tell me tales of stormy 
days off the Golden Gate and the Farallones, and 
hurricanes in Honolulu. . . . 

I said as much to Gore when I met him on the 
lower deck (he had seen Miss Siddis's green veil 
flying afar off on the boat deck, and hurriedly 
retreated, panic in his eye). Gore, wedged into 
a comfortable space where there was safe purchase 
for his chair, turned over the leaves of his volume 
of Pliny and remarked that in all his experience 

90 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 91 

of travel he had never met anyone who had been 
to Honolulu who was not a bore. 

" I don't know whether it's Honolulu that 
makes people bores, or whether all the natural 
bores are mystically attracted to the place, by 
some strange provision of Nature that we can't 
fathom," he said. " But you'll find that what I 
say's a fact. The pious Mahommedan isn't 
more intimately connected with pilgrimages to 
Mecca than the bore is with pilgrimages to 
Honolulu. I don't say a man can't be a bore — 
a travel bore — without going as far as the 
Hawaiian Islands. Spain produces a fine crop 
of the smaller varieties. So does Japan, rather 
bigger ones. And the man who's been to the 
Balkans, and talks about it in his sleep — and in 
yours — is pretty bad. But on the whole, the 
Honolulu bore is the pick of the bunch. Every- 
one who's been to Honolulu is a bore." 

" Have you been there ? " I asked, balancing 
on my rubber-soled shoes to the steady roll of 
the boat, and looking down at the hard, strong, 
handsome face, worn with the winds and seas 
of all the world. It came to me just then, 
as I looked, that a woman who loved such a 
man would love him through life and to death — 
as one woman had done. Nor was I thinking 
of Miss Siddis, in that moment. 



92 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



Gore, in reply to my question, laughed some- 
what dryly. 

" I don't tell it," he said. " The curse might 
come upon me, like the Lady of Shalott, if I 
did. What a title for a poem, by the way ! 
* Our Lady of Onions ' would be as poetical. 
It's part of the blasting influence of Tennyson 
on the Victorian age, that he had no sense of 
humour whatever, and discouraged it in everyone 
else. In Tennyson's reign, it was vulgar to see 
the joyousness of the world. Consequence was, 
inevitably, he and his school were dull and vulgar 
both. Smugly vulgar. Vicarage - and - croquet- 
lawn-vulgar. Oh, Lord ! " 

He saw by my face that I did not agree with 
him — as indeed I did not — and, with his 
diabolical power of reading thoughts, went on : 

" But when a young man's fancy lightly turns 
to thoughts of * Maud ' — confess, young Paul ; 
isn't * Maud ' your favourite poem ? " 

Now, as it happened, certain lines of " Maud " 
— which I thought, and still think, one of the 
noblest poems in the English language — had 
been running through my brain all night, 
mingling with the roar and wash of the great 
Pacific combers, as we swept through the 
Schoutens in the dark ; weaving themselves 
with the faint cry of sea-birds, when the stormy 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 93 

dawn began to break over Papua, and I stood 
clinging to the rail, all wet with spray, to see the 
black hills of the Unknown Land spread out their 
beckoning hands. . . . 

Those lines had nothing to do with me — 
nothing to do with New Guinea — but the wild 
orchestra of the storm, and the sight of the 
strange dark land that we had reached at last, 
worked upon my mind as the sound of distant 
music works on one who scarcely hears or listens 
to it, and the brain-waves that came rolling in 
cast strange flotsam upon the shores of sense. 

" There is none like her, none, 
Nor will be when our summers have deceased. . . ." 

Then again : 

" Were it ever so airy a tread 
My heart would hear it and beat 
Had it lain a century dead." 

No definite vision went with the haunting 
lines ; if there was any vision at all, it was only 
the inappropriate one of Miss Mabel Siddis, 
giggling a grisly, elderly giggle in her deck-chair, 
and talking about the nutmeg islands. I did not 
pause to think why she had insinuated herself 
into that galley ; I wasn't thinking at all. I was 
merely feeling. And Gore's barbed arrow, in 
consequence, went far and stuck fast. 

** I don't know why it should be," I parried. 



94 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" Because," said Gore, letting Pliny slide to 
the deck, and looking up at me with a twinkle 
in his blue cat-eyes, " because you are twenty- 
two and read a good deal. And because you're 
over the Shelley stage, and not into the Browning 
stage. Also, if you want another reason, because 
you whistle, ' Come into the Garden,' while you're 
shaving — out of tune. 

" Tennyson ! " he went on. " Pap ! he never 
in his life wrote anything that bites home to 
human nature like those seven lines of Whit- 
man's : 

" Shine ! shine I shine ! pour down your warmth, great sun ! 
While we bask, we two together, 
Two together ! 

Day come white, or night come black, 
Home, or rivers or mountains from home, 
Singing all time, minding no time. 
If we two but keep together." 

I do not think I have mentioned it, but Vincent 
Gore had a voice that was as uncommon as every- 
thing else connected with him — low-pitched as 
a rule, but strong and what instrumentalists 
call " full of reed." When he recited poetry 
— a thing I had never heard him do before — he 
made the lines live and sing. I beHeve, from 
what I heard about him afterwards, that he had 
a wonderful singing voice, but had always dechned 
to have it trained, or even use it, on the ground 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 95 

that a man who could sing well was never any good 
at anything else. And, thinking over the charac- 
ter of the few really good singers I have known, 
I cannot help seeing that there was reason in 
what he said. 

At any rate, be that as it may, there was some- 
thing in Red Bob's rendering of the few rugged 
lines that affected me strangely. Since the 
coming of Marconi and his miracles, we have 
become much more liberal-minded than we 
used to be about the effect of thought on thought 
— the wireless messages that pass between human 
minds. Things are thought possible, even 
commonplace, now, that would have been laughed 
at in our parents' days as fanciful and absurd. . . . 

I am trying hard to say it, but I find no words. 
I am compelled to state, plainly and baldly, what 
happened, without telling, as I would like, about 
the small, fine, wordless intimations and warnings 
that went before. 

For that I knew before, I am convinced. That 
subliminal consciousness of which we hear so 
much nowadays had been at work, and was fully 
informed, long before my ordinary, physical 
eyes looked up from the white decks of the 
Afzelia pin-striped with caulking of pitch, and 
saw, just at the moment when Red Bob finished 
speaking, Isola of the nutmeg island — Isola 



96 Red Bob of the Bismareks 



Ravenna — Isola Bella — coming round the corner 
of the dining saloon. 

Red Bob could not see her where he lay in his 
chair, but he saw my hand fly instinctively to 
my tie — as it does, you know, when you see a 
girl who — a girl that is — well, everyone knows 
what I mean. ... He did not even get up. 
He looked at my face, read something there, I 
suppose, and burst into one of his great bellows 
of laughter. 

" Go on, Maud," he said, " I shan't want you 
till lunch. So there was another lady on board 
after all ! " 

" Why didn't Miss Siddis tell me ? " I won- 
dered, as I got out of Red Bob's neighbourhood, 
and found a place where I could watch the girl, 
myself comparatively unnoticed. " She was free 
enough with her yarns about Frau Baumgartner 
and Frau Schultz, but never a word about Miss 
Ravenna. ... I wonder where the Schultz 
woman is — sick, I suppose." 

For I had caught a glimpse of the fat, fair- 
haired Frau Baumgartner already that morning, 
and had indeed accounted for all the passengers, 
with the exception of the Schultz woman. She 
seemed to be something of a mystery : I had not 
seen her, or even heard of her, since we left Banda. 

" Well," I thought, " the fewer the better ; 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 97 

the more chance of having her to myself." And 
by " her," I did not mean Frau Schultz. 

Isola Ravenna, it was evident, was no bad sailor. 
Miss Siddis was sitting in a long chair on the deck 
above, well secured and well cushioned, and with 
no idea at all of tempting Providence by un- 
necessary movement. But the Oread of Banda 
mountain, sure-footed as an Oread should be, was 
pacing up and down the narrow deck, balancing 
to the roll of the ship as lightly as a flower in the 
wind. She was not dressed in green to-day. 
She wore a suit of very thin white wool, girdled 
with a green ribbon ; there was another green 
ribbon tied about the wide-leafed hat she wore. 
As she passed me on the deck, I noticed the 
faintest possible perfume of fresh flower-petals. 

We were running far out now, and there was 
nothing to be seen of New Guinea but a long, 
blue serrated line to starboard. The sky was the 
thin hot blue of the tropics ; the sea pale blue, 
with intolerable diamond sparklings in every 
wave. Blue and diamond was the whole morning, 
hard, relentless, and, with the following wind, 
distressingly hot. Unseasoned as I was, I felt 
it somewhat, but Isola Ravenna, true flower of 
the tropics, seemed to enjoy the heat. At all 
events, she paced lightly up and down the decks, 
from shade to sun, and back again, and her 

7 



98 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

ivory-pale, small face, the exact shade and texture 
of a magnolia petal, did not seem to be affected 
in any way by the fierce glare from the sea. I 
remembered the redness of poor Miss Siddis's 
nose, and the roughness of her ungloved hands, 
and wondered if all white women born in the 
tropics, and only they, were armed like Isola, 
against the arrows of the sun. 

Inside the smoking-room, watching her through 
the windows, I sat and enjoyed myself unobserved. 
What luck it was that she should be travelling on 
the Afzelia I What stupendous luck ! I never 
asked myself why it should be so lucky ; nor did 
I even pause to wonder why she, a young girl, 
without relations or friends, should be journey- 
ing along this wild north coast of New Guinea 
towards a German settlement where (I knew) 
no foreigner was especially welcome. I cannot 
account for such stupidity ; God knows it cost 
me dear enough in the end. 

While I was pleasing my eyes with the sight of 
Isola walking up and down, who should come 
forth from the saloon but the elderly man with 
the grey-green eyes, the owner of the bodiless 
head that had protested so strongly against my 
duel. I had not seen him before, and judged 
that the heavy rolling of the steamer during the 
first day and night had kept him in his cabin. 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 99 

At all events, there he was, spruce, shaved, and 
fresh, with a grizzly head cropped so close that 
the skin shone through, a thick figure barely 
restrained by his loose shirt and belt, and, in 
unexpected contradiction to his short, weighty 
build, a light walk that was singularly well-drilled 
and smart, even for a German. 

" Good morning ! " he said, with a pleasant 
smile. I noticed another contradiction as he 
spoke ; the pleasantness of his address did not 
agree with the cold watchfulness of his unsmiling, 
grey-green eyes, deep and chill as the Baltic of 
his Prussian home. 

" Good morning ! " I replied. I wondered 
how much he knew. I had ascertained already 
that the " next stopping place " would befall 
on the day after to-morrow. 

" So you will visit Kaiser Wilhelms Land ? " 
he said agreeably, seating himself at one of the 
small leather-covered tables, and offering me his 
cigar-case. 

I helped myself to a cigar of uncommon quality 
and fragrance. 

" The old gentleman does himself well," I 
thought, as I Ht it. I had already noticed that 
his shirt was of thick Assam silk, and that he wore 
a tie-pin of one perfect sapphire, about the size 
of a pea. 

7* 



100 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" Yes," I said. " Fm secretary to Mr. Vincent 
Gore." 

" So ! " he said, as if the statement were news 
to him — which I was assured it was not. " Then 
you are also a man of science ? " 

" By no means," I assured him. " I don't 
care a rap about it." 

" Ah," he said, holding his own cigar in a hand 
that was delicately white and smooth, and 
adorned with a heavy diamond-set ring. " Youth 
loves adventure above all things. In company 
with Mr. Vincent Gore, adventure will run to 
meet you ; is it not true ? " 

His manner was careless, but those greenish 
eyes, hard with the hardness of eyes that have 
seen cruel things, watchful as eyes that have had 
to guard their owner's life, betrayed him. And I 
thought he listened too carefully for my reply. 

It is a good rule (I thought to myself) when one 
asks you a question that you do not choose to 
answer, to put the very same question in reply. 

"Oh, do teU me," I begged. "Are there 
adventures in New Guinea, and does Mr. Gore 
have them ? It's been pretty dull up to the 
present, I can tell you. What does he do when 
he goes there besides hunting after mouldy old 
skulls and writing up tribal customs ? " 

" What does he do ? " repeated Herr Richter 



Red Bob of the Biswarclirs^ ifOl^ 

(as I afterwards knew him to be called ; I say 
called, because — but that must come later). 
" What does Mr. Vincent Gore do in the Bis- 
marcks and Kaiser Wilhelms Land ? " He looked 
carefully at the diamond in his ring, and polished 
it on his silk sleeve. '' There is nothing for any 
man to do there but to study science, as you say. 
We Germans, we do not want English settlers 
or traders. You have many colonies of your 
own. ... As for adventures, you must not 
believe everything you shall hear. You cannot 
expect adventure. We do not encourage men to 
outwander in the bush, and make trouble for the 
Government. No, I fear that German New 
Guinea will disappoint you.'' 

He seemed glad of it, on the whole. I liked 
his cigars, but I did not like himself ; besides, I 
was anxious to get to the doorway again, and see 
where Isola Ravenna had gone to. She had 
stopped walking up and down, and she was not 
sitting on the seats outside. So I excused myself 
as soon as I could, and went off hunting after the 
Oread of Banda. She was, I told myself, quite 
the most interesting girl I had ever seen. . . . 

I did not find her. It grew dusk ; it turned to 
dark, and she had not reappeared. Someone 
told me that Miss Siddis had succurtibed to the 
roll of the ship, and gone back to her cabin ; I 



^^^^^^rf^^ 



rij92-/:{*';I?^d:B[Qli )of the Bismarcks 

guessed that Miss Ravenna was keeping her 
company. The evening passed away stupidly. 
The Germans were playing cards in the saloon ; 
Vincent Gore was reading ; Richter was padding 
up and down the decks — it seemed to me, looking 
out for something. I could not settle to cards, 
to a book, even to the endless tramping up and 
down on deck that is the solace of most sea 
voyagers. Like Richter, I was looking for some- 
thing. . . . 

I did not find it. Richter disappeared, the 
card party broke up in the saloon. It grew to- 
wards the hour when the electric light was turned 
off. I wandered into the bows, and stood with 
my hands in my pockets, staring at the thick 
darkness that we were ploughing through, and 
wondering what lay beyond it. It struck me 
with a sensation of incredible strangeness that 
in two days more I might not be there — might 
not be anywhere — I, Paul Corbet, who stood here 
in the bows of the Afzelia, with the wind from 
the wide Pacific blowing in his face. It struck 
me with still greater strangeness that the 
Afzelia undoubtedly would be there ; she would 
finish her voyage along the New Guinea coast, 
get to Simpsonshafen, and turn back again. That 
curve of iron in front of me, those two round- 
lipped hawse-pipes, with the anchor-chains 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 103 

running through, would still be in the world, two 
days hence, ten days hence. And I who looked 
at them now, perhaps, would not. 

It was the first time I had thought of death ; 
the first time that the feeling and realization 
of man as a passing shadow struck right home to 
my heart. When the Romans — which of them 
was it ? — no matter — cried out in bitterness : 
" We are dust and shadows ! " this was the 
feeling that had possession of their minds. Why, 
they were right ! we were shadows, nothing 
more. This iron ship, the rocks by which we 
ran in the soundless dark, the sea that carried 
us, were real things. But we, the masters of 
them all, were not real. They stayed, we 
passed — we passed ! 

The winds of eternity blew and in a moment 
the dust that was I was whirled away, and in 
the place where my feet had rested the sun shone 
again, and the salt- jewels sparkled . . . the 
shadow had gone. 

" It is true," I thought, " all true, what the 
old Jews and the Romans and the rest of them 
said. I am a shadow, and I shall pass like one, 
perhaps the day after to-morrow, perhaps in 
fifty years. It doesn't seem to make much differ- 
ence. But whichever it is, I'm not afraid. 
Glory be to " I did not want to say God, 



104 Red Bob of the Bismareks 

for some odd, shamefaced reason ; I think 
perhaps it was the idea of the bloodthirsty- 
business toward between myself and Hahn that 
held me back ; yet the word would come — 
" Glory- be to God, I'm not afraid of anything ! " 

A small, sweet, pointed face, magnolia-white, 
seemed to rise before me in the darkness. I 
shut my hands on the steel of the bulwark, cold 
with night and dew. 

" Not even for that," I thought. " I am not 
afraid — for anything. The splendour of life — why, 
it is death. I wonder why I never saw that before." 

Now in another minute the words seemed 
meaningless to me ; yet they had had, for the 
moment, all the force of a revelation. 

The window shut. It seemed to me that I 
had been thinking things without ' significance 
or sense. Man was dust and shadow ; yes, 
everyone said it ; there was nothing in that. 
I was going to fight a duel in two days — in one 
day and two nights, rather. Well, that was 
good fun, and I hoped I'd come out on top. 
Was there any supper going in the saloon ? 

I never found out if there was. I had come 
back from the bows, and was strolling toward the 
companion, when a voice said very near to me in 
the darkness : " May I — may I speak to you ? " 

I don't think the lessons of Red Bob — about 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 105 

being surprised and so on — ^had been altogether 
wasted on me. I answered at once, and quietly : 

" Certainly, Miss Ravenna. What can I do 
for you ? " — although it seemed as if all the 
blood in my body had suddenly flung itself in 
one wave towards my head, and as if the sleeve 
that brushed accidentally at that moment 
against something soft and near were charged 
with a strong electric current. 

" You can't do anything for me," said the voice 
rather breathlessly, " but I can do something for 
you — if I can speak where nobody hears." 

She was not whispering ; she spoke in a soft 
but rather high-pitched tone that somehow 
made one think of winds and waters ... as 
different from the carneying tones of Miss 
Siddis as morning dew from treacle. . . . Isola ! 
Isola Bella ! that voice of yours : 

" My heart would hear it and beat 
Had it lain a century dead." . . . 

" You are most kind," I answered. We had 
both forgotten — or had not troubled to re- 
member — that we had never been introduced. 
" If there is anything you want to say, we had 
better go a little way back into the bows — or, 
indeed, no one can hear us here." 

" Oh, but they could," said the girl, still 
rather breathlessly. " You've no idea how people 



106 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

can overhear on a ship — I hadn't, till to-night 

— that's what I want to Please, in the 

bow. I won't be a minute, but you must hear ; 
it's important." 

There was not a shade of self-consciousness 
in her manner ; not the veriest coxcomb who 
ever hinted at a hundred conquests could have 
seen anything flattering to himself or coquettish 
in her, at the back of the strange request. 

I took it as it was spoken. 

" Certainly," I said. " It is dark ; let me 
lead you." 

She gave me her hand with perfect confidence 
— it was a cool, firm hand, as smooth as silk, 
but not soft — and I helped her past the covered- 
up donkey-engine, and the coiling chains, to the 
quiet place I had just left. 

" No one can see or hear us," I said. I took 
off my coat and threw it lightly round her 
shoulders. " The night air is sometimes chilly," 
I told her ; and indeed, it was not so warm 
as it had been. Then, standing by the bul- 
wark — for I would not sit when she did not — 
I waited. I thought she would begin with : 
" You must think me very forward," or, " I 
hope you won't be shocked," or some cliche 
of the kind. But I did not know my lady of the 
mountain. 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 107 

" Vm afraid," she said, with simple directness, 
" that there are people on board who mean you 
some mischief." 

" Oh, is that the case ? " I said, laughing a 
little. " Perhaps I mean them some mischief, 
too." 

" You don't understand," she said, consider- 
ing. " I will tell you just what it was. I was 
lying on the deck, with a cushion under my 
head, because I could not keep my chair from 
slipping about, and it was dark. And my head 
was a Httle over the side of the ship, under the 
rail, to catch the breeze. And there was a 
porthole just beneath, and people inside, smoking 
and talking. I heard what they said. It was 
German " 

" Do you speak German, then ? " I asked. 

" Why, of course," she answered, " though I 
wasn't born a German — perhaps you know " 

She paused for a moment, and I, thinking 
I did know, answered : 

" Yes, Miss Siddis told me." 

Isola Ravenna did not go on with her story 
immediately. Her tall, slim figure, just visible 
in its white dress against the crape-like black- 
ness of the sky, swung lightly to and fro with 
the rolling of the steamer — once, twice, three 
times. . . . The foam about the bows made 



108 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

such a hissing that I could not tell if she sighed ; 
yet somehow I thought she did. 

" Well ! " she said presently. " I was going 
to tell you. They were talking about you. 
It was Richter, I think — he smokes those very 
nice-smelling cigars, doesn't he ? " 

" Yes," I said, remembering the sample I had 
enjoyed that afternoon. 

" And the tall, fair young Prussian, Hahn, I 
know his voice. And several others. They 
were in a private cabin — one that hasn't any 
deck outside it. Richter said — I must try to 
remember, ' I have talked to him, and he is 
no sheep's head, that young Englander. Thou 
wast right, Hahn ' — that was what he said — 
* he is clever enough to play the stupid game, 
and see thou, when a man plays even so, he has 
something to hide. Also he is not at all stupid.' 
And then they said things I could not catch — 
and then I heard Hahn, and he said, ' Truly, 
sir, I did not do it on that account, but because 
he had insulted Germany.' And Richter said — 
oh, he said — I can't remember the words, but 
it was about Hahn having done right, although 
he had been hasty. ' Perhaps I should not have 
wanted it if the youngster had been the common 
English fool,' he said. * But I find him quite 
other, and what Vincent Gore knows, be 



:.^ 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 109 

assured he knows. We cannot catch that bird 
with salt on the nose, as the English say, but the 
young chick we can.' And then he said, ' Thou, 
Hahn, when we get to Kronprinzhaven, fight 
then, like a right Prussian, and avenge the honour 
of Germany.' And they laughed, and talked 
together, so that I could not hear. But by and 
by I heard Hahn, and he said, * No matter about 
the choice of weapons, to me it is all the same. 
Thou, wilt thou take the challenge to-night ? ' 
And someone else said he would." 

She stopped a moment ; she seemed out of 
breath. In the silence I heard the far-off 
tumbling of unseen waves on unknown shores ; 
near at hand, the clattering of plates in some 
steward's " glory-hole " under the forward deck. 
The sound made me think of my strange experi- 
ences on the Empress of Singapore, coming out from 
England. Since then, I thought, the world had 
widened marvellously. Off the shores of New 
Guinea — agoing to fight a duel — bound on a 
mysterious treasure-seeking quest — listening at 
dead of night (it was a quarter to eleven only, 
but that was dead enough for purposes of 
romance) to a beautiful girl, who was warning me 
of a plot against my life. 

" Well ! " I said to myself, ramming my hands 
deep down into my pockets. " This is plummy ! " 



110 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

To Miss Ravenna I spoke with more for- 
mality. I told her that she was very kind indeed, 
and that I could not be sufficiently grateful to 
her. That I would tell Mr. Gore what she had 
told me, and act by his advice, and that I hoped 
she would not trouble herself in any way about 
the matter, but rest assured that everything would 
be all right. 

She answered nothing at all to this, but 
gathered her thin skirts round her and slipped 
past the donkey-engine again, supported by 
my hand. I don't think the support was in- 
dispensable, but Isola Ravenna did not seem to 
find it disagreeable. For all that, I rather liked 
the manner in which she drew away that silken, 
firm, small hand of hers, as soon as we were on the 
open deck again, and the quick, silent fashion 
of her bow and instant disappearance. She 
would not have me think she had sought the 
interview for the reasons of a vulgar flirt. 

" Nevertheless," I said to myself, making 
my way to Gore's cabin, " if you had thought me 
a perfect beast, you pretty dear, you wouldn't 
have taken so much trouble. Or wouldn't have 
taken it in that way. You certainly are a dear, 
and I'll tell you so, before many days." 

Red Bob had turned in, but he answered 
instantly to my knock, and I entered, feeling 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 111 

none too comfortable in face of the interview 
that I foresaw. It was clear that I had been 
" made a hare of " in the completest manner. 
I had answered readily to provocation that was 
meant to get me into trouble, I had allowed 
Richter — who was assuredly someone of im- 
portance in the secret service — to suspect some 
hidden motive underlying the apparent object 
of our journey. There was only one course to 
pursue, and it was bitter in my mouth. I had 
to tell Gore everything, and act by his advice. 

I did tell him, first turning on the noisy 
electric fan to make sure that no one would hear 
me. I repeated every word that Richter and 
I had said to each other on the deck, every word 
that Miss Ravenna had reported to me. Then 
I stopped, and stood staring at the big man in the 
pink-and-white pyjamas, waiting for his reply. 
I was sure he would swear my head off. 

Gore, sitting up in his berth, with his long 
legs in their gay covering, and his thin, arched 
bare feet dangling out into empty air, looked 
at me for a moment without any expression at 
all. Then, loosening the neck of his pyjama 
coat — for the night was hot — ^he remarked : 

" We might as well have two beers." 

I pressed the bell and a steward popped up 
like a pantomime demon. While we waited for 



112 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

the beer, neither of us spoke. As soon as the tall 
glass mugs, cloudy with coolness, had been handed 
in, Red Bob remarked, " Shut the door," and 
buried his face in his mug. I did the same, feel- 
ing that what was to be, was to be ; hoping, any- 
how, that my fun was not going to be curtailed. 

Red Bob finished his beer in one slow draught, 
reached for a handkerchief, deliberately wiped his 
moustache, and then said : 

" I suppose you understand just what kind of a 
fool you are ? " 

" Does that matter ? " I said. 

"Devil a bit," said Red Bob. "The thing 
is, what are we going to do ? They have caught 
you in a trap that they knew was too plain for 
this old fox. It may stop our job. If the thing's 
put up, as it seems, they mightn't even play fair. 
They know " — he tilted the glass mug upside 
down, to get the froth that had gone back to 
hquid while he was talking — " they know I need 
a companion, or I wouldn't have brought one. 
Yes, they can hang me up nicely. Especially as 
you played a game with Richter that he knows 
better than you do. Don't act the fool, Paul 
Corbet. Just be content to be what Nature 
made you, and you'll come quite near enough to 
a natural dashed fool for all practical purposes." 

I said nothing to this, feeling that, all things 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 113 

concerned, I had come off easily. Gore looked 
into the bottom of his mug again, set it down 
regretfully and remarked : 

" When the European Armageddon comes — 
and mind you, it's overdue — we may smash a 
few dozen castles on the Rhine, and things of 
that kind, but I hope to goodness the brutal and 
licentious soldiery will spare the German brew- 
eries. Well! These are my orders, young Paul, and 
you've got to mind them. You'll have to fight." 

" I hope so," I cut in. 

" But you're not on any account, or for any 
dashed piece of conceit, to kill, wound, or touch 
young Hahn. Do you understand ? If he 
kills or wings you — well, that can't be helped ; 
you've brought it on yourself. But if you even 
damage him, you can rely on it you will see the 
inside of the jail at Frederick Wilhelmshaven , 
and won't get out in a hurry. And I shall have 
to hang about and bother over you. And the 
fat will be in the fire, generally. Now, you have 
your orders ; off to bed with you." 

He snapped off the light and lay down I 
heard him breathing long and quietly, before I 
was out of the cabin. Red Bob could go to sleep 
as quick as another man could wake, and wake as 
quick as any man could fire off a gun. I used to 
think his nerves must be like telegraph wires. 

8 



CHAPTER VI 

KRONPRINZHAVEN (which you wiU not 
find under that name upon the map) 
lies some way beyond the German-Dutch boun- 
dary of New Guinea. We came up to it in the 
very early morning, before the sun had gathered 
warmth, and while the shadows on the deck of 
the AJzelia were still powdered with dew as 
fine and sparkling as ground glass. 

Wolff had made a formal call on me the evening 
before, on behalf of Hahn, and had arranged 
with Gore the details of the fight (who, of course, 
acted as my second). We were to use pistols 
at twenty paces. Hahn was rather anxious for 
rapiers, and I would not have been sorry to 
oblige him ; but Gore had put me through ten 
minutes' fencing earlier in the evening, and de- 
livered it as his opinion that I was safer with the 
pistol, provided what I said as to my feats with 
that weapon was mostly true, and provided I 
didn't lose my head. It has no place in the 
story, but I cannot help observing here that 

114 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 115 

Red Bob's fencing was like everything else he 
did — perfect. I do not think that Hahn, or 
any other man in German Guinea, would have 
cared to stand up before him vidth the buttons 
off. Which, perhaps, may have to do with the 
story, after all ; at least, so far as the "challenge 
to me is concerned. 

Well — we went ashore in the ship's boat, Red 
Bob, Hahn, Wolff and myself, and the mysterious 
Richter, who declared himself to be qualified as a 
doctor, in case we should need the services of 
one. The duelling pistols — Richter lent them 
— were hidden in the folds of a mackintosh. The 
captain, who usually took the ship into port him- 
self, was late asleep this morning, and never 
showed out of his cabin. The chief officer, 
shining in white and gold upon the bridge, 
leaned down and called out to us that he hoped 
we would have a pleasant walk, recommending 
us, in particular, to take photographs of the 
native village. All the passengers were sound 
asleep, and the stewards and deck-hands, to a 
man, were busy on the seaward side of the ship. 
Perfect unconsciousness of our mission, innocent 
industry concerned only with itself, seemed 
fairly to stick out all over the ship. And I 
have not the slightest doubt that, the moment the 
boat left the AJzelia^s side, every man on her 

8* 



116 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

began making bets as to who was going to kill 
whom. 

So I landed on New Guinea. I have since 
been to Kronprinzhaven more than once, and I 
am therefore able to say that it is a magnificently 
beautiful spot, a harbour of horse-shoe shape, 
edged with tall cocoa-palms leaning over a beach 
as white as paper, and backed by mountains that 
rise leap on leap, wave upon violet wave, to an 
unimaginable glory of remote, pale silver-blue. 
The sun-beaten splendour, the cruel, feverish 
beauty of the spot, may have touched my senses 
at the moment — I do not know. I have only the 
recollection of landing on a beach that was white 
and heavy, and walking across it into a windy 
coolness of palms ; of a dark forest after, where 
huge buttressed roots ran out above our heads, 
and a bird with a fiery-gold tail flashed out from 
tree to tree as we entered — I remember its quick, 
harsh scream, and the rustle of its wondrous train, 
like a sound of a woman's silk dress. Then there 
was a river, roughly bridged with logs, and we 
couldn't hear each other speak because of the noise 
it made tumbling over the rocks. And then the 
track opened out, and there was a space of empty 
meadow-land, and Wolff was chattering joyously 
about a duel he had seen in Pomerania where 
" the Kapitan his brains, all outrushing, upon the 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 117 

green grass spilled ; " and Red Bob, walking 
alongside of Richter, was smoking a foot of 
Burmese tobacco, and jerking out indifferent 
remarks about the loading of the Afzelia. . . . 

I knew we had come to the place when I saw 
this open, sunny bit of land, walled in by the 
immense forest standing round about. I threw 
a look at Hahn, and decided, not without dis- 
appointment, that he was perfectly cool. In 
fact, everybody was, except Wolff, and he was 
simply bubbling over with delight. The whole 
thing felt extraordinarily like a surgical operation. 
I had been through one once, and remembered 
it as very much akin to this — the cool, business- 
like hospital people ; the new young student who 
was so delighted to be there and see me cut up ; 
even the assistant doctor who was busy laying 
out glittering things in a metal tray. . . . For 
that was how Richter occupied himself, what 
time the seconds were measuring off the ground, 
and inspecting the pistols. I really do not know 
whether he did it with the view of shaking my 
nerve or not, but if he did, he missed his mark, 
since the sight only increased that odd reminis- 
cence of the operation and made me feel, somehow 
or other, that these were specialists concerned 
together in a job that they all knew, though I 
didn't ; that I was the job, and that my business 



118 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

was to do just what I was told to do, and keep on 
feehng cooL . . . 

Gore and Wolff tossed for position, and Hahn 
won. I had the sun in my eyes, but that didn't 
matter much, because it was still low, and the 
forest shut off most of it. They placed us, and 
Richter held the handkerchief. I saw Wolff's 
face, mouth greedily open, eyes staring, full of 
delight ; and Gore's, hard and inexpressive, 
looking at me. Then I fixed my eyes on Hahn's 
pink face, with the golden moustache, and out- 
standing, heavy ears, like handles to his head. I 
knew what I was going to do, and knew I should 
do it. 

The handkerchief fell, and a harsh German 
voice cried : " Feuer ! " 

In the very same moment, something hit me 
hard on the forehead, and I staggered. 

" Did I do it ? " I shouted out, straightening 
up, and trying hard to see — one eye was oddly 
obscured. ... I was afraid I might be badly 
hit, and going to die. And if I died, I shouldn't 
know if I had done what I wanted to do. 

" Confound you all ! " I cried, losing my 
temper, as the blood — I knew it was blood now 
— poured down, and I began to get sick and 
giddy — can't any of you tell me, did I clip his 
right ear \ " 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 119 

" Sit down," said Richter's voice, and I sat 
on the grass. 

" I'm not hurt," I said. " Let me have another 
go. I tell you I can clip his ear like a sheep, and 
I want to do it." 

" Sit still, thou young fire-eater, while I sew 
up that iron head of thine," said Richter, with the 
suspicion of a laugh in his hard voice. " Yes, 
truly, thou hast clipped his ear. A moment 
now " 

He lifted the piece of scalp that had been shot 
loose, and was hanging over my eye, and I saw 
Hahn a few yards away, holding a handkerchief 
to his ear. 

" Hooray ! " I cried. " Just the tip, wasn't 
it?" 

" Even so," answered Hahn, looking at me with 
an odd mixture of expressions. 

" What about another go ? " I asked anxiously, 
as soon as Richter's stitchery was finished. " I 
want to clip the other." 

" Yes," said Hahn, taking away the handker- 
chief, and putting it back again. " I would like 
to give him the chance." He showed his teeth 
unpleasantly as he spoke, and I reflected that, 
whereas the seam in my scalp would not show, as 
soon as my hair grew over it, he was marked for 
life by the events of the last few minutes. 



120 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" I object," said Red Bob, coming forward. 
" Herr Wolff, do you consider that honour is 
satisfied ? " 

Wolff did not look as if he did, but a glance 
from Richter tamed him. 

" Yes, yes," he said discontentedly. " The 
insult to Germany and to her colonies without 
doubt now out is wiped." 

I got up from my seat and went over to Hahn, 
who was standing in the full sunlight (for the 
rising rays were just now over the forest) looking, 
with his golden hair and martial bearing, like a 
splendid, sulky, young war-god. 

" Shake ! " I said. He put his hand into 
mine, and I saw, as he let his handkerchief fall, 
that the tip of the right ear was indeed shot 
neatly off. 

" I could have done the other," I said, with 
some regret ; and to my surprise, they all burst 
out laughing. 

" Come," said Richter, quite good-humouredly, 
" it is time for the coffee for one. Mr. Corbet, 
you shoot straight — for an Englishman." 

" Sorry I can't say the same for you," I said, 
looking him fair in the eyes. I think he under- 
stood, but it took more than the discovery of 
one small plot to unnerve Justus Richter. 

" Ah," he said pleasantly, " you mean Hahn." 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 121 

(I didn't.) " But I think he has shot quite near 
enough for you. Do you Hke to see the native 
village before we will return to the ship ? I know 
all this coast, and I can conduct you with safety." 

I said I would like it, and we left the field of 
battle, all in a body, and all very cheerful, as I 
suppose people generally are after a duel where 
no one has been killed, and there has been a little 
bloodshed, just to give the event a flavour. 
Gore, I recollect, was swinging along in front, 
just about to enter the forest, his hat tossed back 
on his head, his big frame just slightly bent down 
to hear what Richter was saying about a Papuo- 
Melanesian tribal custom, when all of a sudden — 
he straightened himself up, cast a glance at the 
path ahead, and bolted back with such suddenness 
that he cannoned violently against Wolff, and 
knocked Hahn into a lemon-tree full of thorns, 
and threw me into the arms — or, to speak more 
accurately, on to the well-cushioned stomach of 
Richter. It was as if a bullock had broken loose. 

For a moment, we were all too fully occupied 
with ourselves to notice the cause of the disaster. 
Hahn came out of the lemon-tree with a scratched 
face, spitting thorns on the ground and cursing. 
Richter swore violently at me in German, before 
he realized that I was not the moving force in 
the attack ; then he broke off gasping, and asked 



122 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

what was the matter with the verfluchter 
Engldnder. 

Wolff, who alone had escaped without actual 
damage, went back a little way, and stared at the 
vanishing form of Gore, which had crossed the 
open grass with wonderful speed, and was now 
all but lost in the forest at the other side. 

I alone of the party guessed what had happened. 
I had heard a woman's voice in the distance 
asking the way of a native who evidently did not 
understand her, and my foreseeing soul cried 
out : " Miss Siddis ! " 

To save my employer's face, however, I made 
haste to explain that he was taken suddenly ill ; 
that I had seen these odd fits before, and that he 
would without doubt be all right in half an hour ; 
also, that he liked to be left alone when thus 
affected. Wolff and Hahn accepted the explana- 
tion. Richter did not. He looked me through 
with those chill Baltic eyes, and asked himself, 
apparently, why I was taking the trouble to lie. 

In another minute a woman's figure burst out 
of the forest running as hard as it could — which 
was not very hard — on small, flat feet. It was 
dressed in an untidy medley of muslins, with a 
hat over one eye, and its face was redder than I 
should have thought the face of any mortal 
being, not stricken with apoplexy, could be. 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 123 

And as it went, bobbing its head with every call, 
like a cuckoo in a cuckoo-clock : 

" Mr. Gore ! Mr. Corbet ! Stop ! " 

Hahn, with the reddened handkerchief twisted 
about his ear, Wolff carrying the case of pistols, 
stood still in their tracks and stared, a wide grin 
spreading itself over their countenances, as ripples 
spread in a pool when stones are thrown in. But 
Richter acted otherwise. He made a quick, 
light step over to Miss Siddis, caught her by the 
arm, stopped her, and almost shook her. 

" Have you brought Frau Schultz on this fool's 
errand — ^you, who are supposed to look after 
her ? " he said. 

The mysterious Frau Schultz again ! I 
thought that nothing could have added to my 
astonishment at her name being brought into 
the business of the duel ; but Richter's next words 
did it. 

" This is your doing ! " he said to me, his usual 
icy caution melting away in the heat of some in- 
comprehensible anger. " It is you who have 
told Frau Schultz, and she and this ass-head 
have " 

He broke oflF short, and looked about him. It 
was plain now that Miss Siddis was alone. 

She, not minded to be left out of the conver- 
sation, began her cuckoo-clock exclaiming again : 



124 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" Stop the duel — I insist upon it. Stop it. 
The Hfe of Mr. Vincent Gore must not be 



Stop the duel — Mr. Corbet, how can you stand 
by and Stop the duel ! " 

She really seemed to be out of her mind for 
the moment. I had no doubt that she had run 
the whole way from the shore, repeating her 
clock-work cry all the time. Someone on board 
must have let it out to her after we had gone ; 
and she had very nearly been in time to run 
screaming into the glade at the worst possible 
minute. ... 

" See, you foolish woman ! " said Richter. 
" There is nothing to make a fuss about. See ! 
There is no one hurt ; Mr. Gore was not fight- 
ing ; it was this youngling. He has a scratch 
and so has the other ; that is all." 

At this she seemed to come to herself. 

" But where is Mr. Gore ? " she asked, looking 
up with something that was, and wasn't, a squint 
from under the crooked brim of her hat. 

" He is gone a walk. Where is Frau 
Schultz ? " asked Richter sternly.' I began to 
wonder if Frau Schultz were a criminal, being 
taken back to German Guinea for trial and im- 
prisonment. Certainly I had never set eyes on 
her yet, though we were several days out from 
Banda. Miss Siddis, Miss Ravenna, I had seen ; 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 125 

also Frau Baumgartner — the lad^ whose fat, grey 
back and scraped-up hair I had noticed on the 
day of saiHng ; she had been more or less sick 
ever since. But of the mysterious Frau Schultz 
I had not had a glimpse. Miss Siddis's answer 
only added to my perplexity. 

" Where should she be but on the deck, where 
she always is ? " was her reply. 

" She is there even too much," said Richter. 
" She walks about too much at night. See, then, 
Schultz is my very good friend, and I warn you 
that I will look after his interests." 

" Oh, but, Herr Richter " began Miss 

Siddis, in her most carneying tone. 

Richter did not wait to hear her ; conscious, 
no doubt, of having betrayed himself in some way, 
he walked on ahead, and rapidly left the party 
behind. We strolled to the shore together, 
Hahn, Wolff, the still panting Miss Siddis, and I. 
Not much was said till the beach shone out before 
us, white and glaring in the seven o'clock sun, and 
the AJzelia^s boat appeared, drawn up below a 
big Barringtonia tree, that overhung the water 
with a cool canopy of green. Then Hahn, who 
had been nursing his sulks all the way, turned to 
me and held out his hand. 

" You shoot well, and you are a brave 
youngster," he said. " I am your friend. No, 



126 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

Wolff, you need not look at me. From this day, 
I am the friend of Paul Corbet, and any man 
may know it who likes." 

He pronounced my Christian name to make it 
rhyme with " howl," but, nevertheless, I felt 
gratified. 

Richter was waiting in the boat, and we all 
went over to the ship together. As the oars 
ground in the rowlocks, taking me farther and 
farther from the fascinating shores of the land 
I had so longed to reach, I could scarcely console 
myself with the knowledge that we were going 
to call at other places. I had landed on New 
Guinea ; I had seen a beach and a jungle and a 
couple of brilliant birds, no more. Round the 
corner were hosts of wonders, and I had not seen 
any of them. ... It was really very hard. 

Miss Siddis had found her tongue again by 
this time, and her prattle nearly maddened me. 
She wanted to know if we were sure Mr. Vincent 
Gore was not hurt ; she had seen him go out 
of his cabin in the early morning, as she was on 
her way to the bath, and he was carrying a case 
of pistols, and before she could get dressed 
the ship's boat was away, and there wasn't 
another to be had till it came back again from 
the beach, and dear, dear ! she was frightened, 
for she had heard what a reckless man he was, 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 127 

and she was sure But after all, it was not 

Mr. Gore — we were certain ? And he was 
coming back to the ship all right ? That was 
right ; but what a pity that Mr. Corbet should 
have been hurt — and Mr. Hahn — now she was 
only a poor little woman, but if we would let 
her just tell us how wrong and foolish 

At this point Richter looked up from the 
bottom boards of the boat, and remarked : 

" Fraulein Siddis, these affairs of honour have 
nothing to do with women. Hold your tongue. 
You understand me ? " 

Miss Siddis, taken in full flow, stopped, blinked 
and swallowed. 

" You are so natural and simple, you Prussians 
— so strong ! " she murmured, honey in her tones 
and something very like hate in her small grey 
eyes. " Yes, Herr Richter, if you wish it, I 
will keep silence. A simple little woman like 
me — what does she know, after all, when there 
are men older and wiser than herself to decide ? " 

" Exactly," said Richter. 

Nothing more was said till we reached the 
ship. An accommodation ladder was set slant- 
ing down her side ; we landed on the grating 
one by one, and ascended, Richter leading. 

To the smart, starched officer who stood at 
the head of the steps, he remarked : 



128 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" We have met with a Httle accident ashore. 
A tree fell in the forest ; it has injured Herr 
Hahn's ear and the forehead of Herr Corbet. 
I myself have given first aid ; there will be no 
need of the doctor." 

" So," said the officer with an inexpressive 
face. We filed through the companion-way 
just as the first breakfast bell began to ring, 
and I went to my cabin with my head feeling 
like a turbine that is just beginning to go round 
and round under the pressure of the steam. 
Doubtless the injury I had received had some- 
thing to say to this ; but still more had a sight 
that flashed upon my eyes just as we were 
ascending the ship's tall side — Isola Ravenna's 
face, framed in a porthole, white as the paint 
of the ship, wide-eyed, and with the under-lip 
dropped down as lips only drop in terror or 
dismay. Her hands, clutching the brazen rim 
of the port, were blanched with the closeness 
of the grip. When she saw me pass, walking 
easily up the ladder and chatting with Hahn, 
a cigarette in my mouth, the terror on her face 
dissolved as snow dissolves beneath a thawing 
wind. Her clutching hands let go, and she 
slipped back into the dusk of her cabin, thinking, 
no doubt, that nobodythad seen her. 

I fancied Richter had, for he cast a curious 



Red Bob of the Bismareks 129 

glance at me as we reached the grating, and then 
threw a rapid look down the ship's side. When 
we got on board, he went off at once down the 
alley-way ; he had his back to me, but I could 
see that he was twisting his moustache violently 
with both hands, and I fancied, somehow, that 
something had occurred to put him out. 

I don't know when Red Bob came on board. 
We sailed very shortly ; he did not appear till 
we were well out at sea, and the ship was be- 
ginning her long, steady roll once more. Miss 
Siddis had succumbed again, and tottered down 
to her cabin before we were well clear of the 
land ; she certainly was a wretched sailor. 
Whether Isola Ravenna was with her or not I 
do not know ; but the girl did not appear all 
morning, nor yet at lunch time. I wanted her 
to appear ; I wanted to show my bandaged 
head, and pose as the hero of a deadly light — 
being in truth very proud indeed of my part in 
the business of the morning — but no green- 
girdled dress fluttered upon the boat-deck, no 
quick, light foot paced up and down the plank- 
ing. There was nobody more interesting than 
Justus Richter to be seen, and he read per- 
sistently in his long chair from eight o'clock till 
one, never, so far as I could see, lifting his eyes 
off the heavy German print of the page. 

9 



130 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

Red Bob and I, sitting in our old retreat right 
up in the nose of the ship, had a short talk over 
the events of the morning as we steamed along 
past the curious blue - and - black mountain 
scenery and the silent estuaries of unpopulated 
rivers and the mighty mangrove walls that were 
New Guinea. 

" You did the best thing, under the circum- 
stances," he allowed somewhat grudgingly, look- 
ing not at me, but at the illimitable, sailless sea 
that stretched out on our port beam — a sea 
scarce altered in its primitive loneliness since 
the days when Willem Corneliszoon Schouten 
and Jacob Le Maire sailed over it. " It was a 
put-up job from beginning to end, and not a 
nice one. They couldn't have known you were 
handy with weapons that a young Englishman 
generally knows nothing about. If you could 

fence as well as you can shoot By the 

way, where did you learn that ? " 

" No mystery about it," I told him. " When 
you find out that you've a natural gift for doing 
something better than other people, nothing can 
keep you from it. I learned it from myself. 
'Tisn't like boxing ; other people must teach 
you that, even when you've got the ability — 
but shooting at a mark — well, you know, you 
must get to love it." 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 131 

" Yes, I know," said Red Bob reminiscently. 
" Curious thing, too, in Livonia about ninety- 
two, I did Well, that's nothing to do with 

the case." 

"Do teU," I begged. "Did you shoot off 
the tip of anyone's ear ? " 

"No," said Red Bob calmly. "I did not. 
It's an ugly story, and best forgotten. . . . 
About this duel. I don't quite get the whole 
reason, somehow. It's true that your loss 
would have embarrassed me — but that could 
have been worked otherwise; . . . Almost seems 
like a grudge against you. But that's not 
Hkely." 

" No," I agreed. Then, remembering the 
incomprehensible things that Richter had said 
to me when Miss Siddis invaded the scene of 
the duel, I repeated his words as near as I could 
remember them. 

" I can't make head or tail of him and his 
Frau Schultz," I said. 

Gore said nothing ; you would have thought 
he was looking on the far horizon for the ships 
that never were there. 

" I'm glad you told me," he said by and by. 
" It'll straighten out. Things do." 

" I — I said you were ill," I ventured, " when 
you ran off like that. Was I right ? " 

9* 



132 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



Red Bob's hard face broke up into a mass of 
leathery creases. 

" Right, right ! " he said, his eyes twinkhng. 
" I was. I was Hke those fellows in the Bible 
who describe themselves as feeling their bones 

turn to water, and their By the way, what 

an expressive book it is ; you can find a phrase 
to fit any possible frame of body or mind in it. 
I've no doubt you would get something that 
would exactly describe your sensations in an 
aeroplane, if you only looked long enough. Or 
the way a man loses his temper over a long- 
distance telephone. Well, young Paul, to tell 
you the truth about that dashed Siddis woman, 
I ran because I was morally and physically certain 
she'd have her arms round my neck in two 
seconds if I hadn't. It's the way they try to 
save your life — God knows why — especially in 
shipwrecks or fires, or at any time when you want 
your hands free and your head cool. And she 
was out to save mine. You couldn't have 
stopped her with a club. So — I ran, as many a 
braver man than myself has done. Give me a 
match." 

He ducked down beneath the bulwark to light 
his cigar — for the wind was blowing strong from 
those seas where no man sailed — and came up 
again, puffing. 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 133 

" Pick no more quarrels, and let no more be 
fastened on you," he said in a tone of authority. 
" And don't flirt too much with that pretty girl 
from Banda ; I smell trouble there, and we've 
had enough already. In short, if it's in the 
nature of a young rip like yourself to keep out 
of mischief generally, do it." 

He swung off the bulwark. 

" Do it ! " he said, with the red flash showing 
up for an instant in his eye ; and was gone. 

As for me, I stayed in the bows till lunch, 
alternately watching Justus Richter turn over 
the leaves of his learned book, and looking at 
the grim, goblin peaks of New Guinea. And I 
wondered which of the two, after all, concealed 
the more, and the darker secrets. 



CHAPTER VII 

IT was, of course, hardly to be expected that 
I should take Vincent Gore's counsels 
about Isola too literally. When a girl goes out 
of her way to give you a warning of a plot against 
you — when she almost faints because she sees you 
in a boat with your head tied up — when she 
revives because you do not appear to be very 
badly hurt after all, and comes up on deck 
in the quiet hour of the afternoon with the 
obvious intention of hearing all about every- 
thing — ^you would be an insensible brute if you 
did not instantly find a chair, place it as near 
as possible to the darling's own, and proceed 
at once to offer up your thanks, your excuses 
(for having fought at all) and your earnest 
assurances that no harm has come or is coming 
of the whole affair, for her acceptance and 
consideration. 

I was not an insensible brute. I did all these 
things, and found that they were not ill received. 

134 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 135 

It was almost the first time I had really had the 
chance of a satisfactory talk with the lady of the 
island, and I was resolved not to waste my oppor- 
tunity. After all, the voyage was a short one ; 
in four or five days we should have reached 
Simpsonhaven, and then who knew that I should 
ever see this English flower of the East again ? 

English she undoubtedly was ; her accent was 
that of the cultured classes at home, her simple, 
frank demeanour was the demeanour of the 
young English girl of good family and upbring- 
ing — and yet she was tropic of the tropics, too ; 
to nothing reared among the fogs and snows of 
Britain could that starry sweetness, that white 
magnolia bloom have belonged. 

It was fascinating to an eye trained as mine 
had been of late in shades of descent and strange 
comminglings of race, to see how the two in- 
fluences of England and of Italy, working together 
in the languorous world of the Spice Islands, 
had shaped the person and the mind of this 
girl. She was her mother in soul, her father and 
her home in body. ... I guessed (and I may 
say that time proved me to be right) that Isola's 
mother had been by far the stronger character 
of the two ; that her Neapohtan father had 
brought little more to the match than his facile 
Italian beautv. She had known how to love. 



136 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

it seemed — Margaret Ravenna, dead and gone. 
Did Isola Ravenna, alive, know, too ? 

She was wearing her mother's wedding ring, 
I saw, on the third finger of her right hand, a 
fancy that I never cared about, in girls ; still, 
it showed a pretty feeling. . . . 

Well ! I suppose everyone who has ever 
loved — which is to say, everyone who has passed 
through life alive and not dead — must have 
experienced the embarrassment, the difficulty 
that comes from talking with someone whose 
personality so obsesses you that you cannot 
hear her words for thinking of her. I missed 
quite a good deal of what Isola Bella said in 
answer to my tale of the duel ; but I picked up 
the threads just in time at the last. 

..." And I was almost sure he would guess 
who told you, because — you must have noticed 
it — he watches me all the time." 

It became absolutely necessary to ask questions 
here. 

"Watches you! Who? What cheek!" 

" Herr Richter ; I was telling you about him," 
said the girl. I felt as one feels who steps at 
night upon a top stair that is not there. Some- 
thing that was missing jarred me — jarred me 
badly. Why did she not laugh as a girl should 
laugh when a man forgets her words for her ? 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 137 

Why did she not coquet — ever so Httle ? If 
I knew a girl from a green goose — and I thought 
I did, on the whole — it was not because she could 
not . . . with those eyelashes ! 

But she spoke very quietly, as a woman thrice 
her age might have spoken, and she looked at 
the slight, firm hands in her lap, and at the 
memorial wedding-ring on her right hand, rather 
than at me. 

" I don't think you heard. He is a friend of 
Mr. Schultz's." 

" Oh," I said, without much interest. When 
Isola Bella was within twenty inches of me, I 
was not inclined to trouble about fat German 
Fraus and their husbands, and the problems 
affecting either. 

" He is a relation, I believe," went on Isola. 
" He is even rather like him — much fatter, and 
rather younger, but one sees it. . . . Well, he 
watches me ; it is almost insulting. I believe " 
— she looked nervously about her — " if you could 
see everywhere, you would find he was watching 
me now." 

" Oh, nonsense ! " I assured her, getting up 
nevertheless to take a walk round the deck- 
house and come back. " There's not a soul. 
We are on the sunny side of the ship and it's 
three o'clock — nothing but you or I or a 



138 Red Bob of the Bismareks 

salamander could stick the heat. They're all 
in their cabins with their coats off, snoozing." 

Isola's eyes were fixed on the pale-blue curtain 
of an open port in the deckhouse some distance 
away. 

" I thought I saw it move," she said. 

I looked, but could see no movement. 

" Anyhow," I said, " we can't be heard. I 
want to talk to you about yourself. Miss Siddis 
told me what a lovely name you have. Isola ! 
Isola BeUa ! " 

She made no answer. She was looking out to 
sea. There was a volcano island coming nearer 
and nearer as we steamed ; a tall, wicked horn 
that pricked up out of the blue water all alone, 
smoking ominously. 

" That must be Vulcan Island," she said 
presently. " I have heard of it." 

" Isola Bella," I repeated again, very softly. 
" A beautiful name — Isola." 

Now she looked at me ; she looked as straight 
and as coldly as young Diana might have looked 
at a venturesome huntsman, trespassing on her 
forest grounds. And yet there was something 
behind the look — a shadow of pain — for me ? 
For herself ? 

" You must not call me by that name," she 
said. 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 139 

" Very well," I said. " But I won't call you 
by any name, in that case, until you are less 
cruel." 

She did not seem to hear me ; and yet I knew 
she was thinking of me. In another moment 
she had risen from her seat, and flitted down the 
deck companion. There was nothing left of 
her but the faintest scent of sandalwood. 

" Well," I said, looking after her, with a feeling 
of depression I could not account for, " I've 
met some girls — but — but — but that " 

I did not want to finish the thought ; in fact, 
I did not want to think at all, so I went to look 
for some work. There was small difficulty about 
that, when Red Bob was aboard. One had only 
to show oneself, in order to be pinned down at 
once upon a task likely to last on till the next 
meal. Gore accommodated me at once with a 
mass of unverified facts and figures urgently 
needing legitimation, and I grubbed among the 
ruins of departed empires till the dressing-bell 
rang. 

I remember that I changed and went in to 
dinner feeling unusually light-hearted. The 
nameless depression caused by Miss Ravenna's 
manner had altogether passed away. What did 
her manner, or even her words signify, when her 
actions were what they were ? Perhaps I was 



140 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

absurdly vain, perhaps not — but either way, I 
was sure that my safety, my welfare, were matters 
of concern to her, and that she had risked con- 
siderable annoyance to secure them. Things 
being so, it was a good world, and the weather 
was improving, and iced sweet soup, with fruit 
in it, though German, was not to be despised. 

How I remember all about that dinner — even 
what the menu was ! I could tell you just what 
sort of a pale, garnished roast the military-looking 
steward handed over my shoulder, and just what 
extraordinary pieces of pigs and giblets and 
sausages closed the meal. There was a gap among 
the diners that night — someone was ill, or on 
extra duty — I don't know what — but the result 
was that Wolff and I, usually separate, were side 
by side, with only an empty chair between, and 
that we were talking — a thing we had never done 
before. We were talking about girls, I remember, 
and Wolff was setting forth, in flat South German, 
the superior beauty of the ladies of Munich, first, 
over Germany in particular, and then over the 
world in general. Next to them, he was pleased 
to say, the Danes were the handsomest girls ; 
and he had rather a weakness — acquired in Argen- 
tina — for a pretty Spanish girl of sixteen or so. 

" Hear the married man, the fast and securely 
married man ! " mocked Hahn from the other 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 141 

side of the table. " Now, Wolff, shall I the 
charming little Frau, when we in Friedrich 
Wilhelmshaven arrive, tell ? " 

" The charming little Frau, she is the most 
charming of them all ! " declared Wolff, blushing, 
but maintaining his ground stoutly. 

I was a little surprised, for he was not appar- 
ently older than myself, if so old, and I had not 
been regarding him in the light of a married man. 

" What, you have already a wife ? " I asked 
him. 

" Yes — yes," he said, with a pleasant grin. 
" See now, if you doubt, there is my ring. We 
Germans wear a marriage ring, men and women 
too ; we are not like you English, who are 
ashamed of that honourable state." 

" But " I said. I had a glass of wine on 

my right ; for some reason that I could not have 
defined, I lifted it, and drank it down. . . . 

" But — ^you wear it on the wrong hand. Or 
perhaps," I went on, in a strange hurry, " German 
men wear wedding-rings on the right hand, and 
women on the left, like ours." 

" No, no, no," said Wolff, shaking his head 
slowly from side to side. " German women and 
German men wear the wedding-ring on the right 
hand. The left hand is for the betrothal ring 
only." 



142 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



I was calm now — as calm as I had been at 
Kronprinzhaven in the dawn of yesterday morn- 
ing, when I had stood up against Hahn with a 
pistol in my hand, knowing that the next five 
seconds would decide whether I was to die or live. 

" An Englishwoman," I said, turning to Wolff 
as he sat contemplating the shining ring on his 
plump third finger — " an Englishwoman, married 
to a German — would she wear the ring on the 
right hand or the left ? " 

His reply was indifferent, and yet it came — to 
my senses — quick as the shot of Hahn's pistol, in 
the dawn beneath the forests of Kronprinzhaven, 
the day before. 

" Naturally, she would wear it on the right, 
since that is the custom of the country of her 
man." 

Hahn had missed me, or touched me only, in 
that deadly minute at Kronprinzhaven. Here, 
at the dining-table of the AJzelia, Wolff shot 
home. I was hit. 

When one is shot, one does not scream. One 
bears the pain. That was all I could think of 
for a moment — that, and the pain itself. I did 
not even know what it was that I had learned in 
those few moments ; I simply took it in with 
every pore of my mind, and felt it, as I had never 
felt any agony in the course of my existence. 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 143 

I could have thanked God aloud that the captain 
rose at this minute, and set most of us moving 
out of the hot saloon on to the cooler deck, so 
that I was able to swing round out of my seat 
without unnecessary hurry, and get away. 

There was only one thought in my mind, and 
it drove me like a leaf in the wind down the 
alleyway leading from the saloon to the deck 
cabins, after the white, green-belted dress of 
I sola. I caught her up just as she was entering 
her cabin. I remember how hot it was in that 
narrow passage, and how the inevitable ship 
smell of mattresses, apples and fresh paint seemed 
in the confined space to catch and wring me by the 
nose. I remember how the overhead electric 
hght in its cut-crystal bell shone down upon the 
waves of Isola's black hair, and edged them with 
a mockery of white. . . . 

" You told me," I said, without preface, " that 
I must not call you Isola — Isola Bella. What 
name am I to address you by ? " 

I am not sure that she understood — fully — 
but she looked at me with an expression in her 
eyes that was like the look of a mother over a 
child that is hurt — she, nineteen years of age, 
scarce out of pinafores and school. . . . 

"You must call me Frau Schultz," she said, 
and went into her cabin and closed the door. 



144 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

As I was coming up the main companion, Red 
Bob met me. 

" Come out and see Vulcan Island," he said. 
" She's playing up finely to-night." 

I saw my face in a mirror as we passed. It 
looked quiet, and — somehow — not like mine. 
" That is Paul Corbet," I said to myself, as the 
hawky young face flitted by in the bright light 
of the stairway, beside the handsome elder head 
of Gore. " Something has happened to him," 
I said. . . . 

I saw that Gore was looking at me. 

" You weU ? " he asked. 

"Yes," I answered. "Perfectly." He said 
nothing more, but looked at me again, and I 
knew he knew that something had happened. 

That is the advantage of being with a man. 
A woman would have sympathized ; would have 
talked, at least. Gore did neither. He went 
out on deck with me, and pointed to Vulcan 
Island, glowing red and evil against a splendid 
starry sky. 

" She's at it," he said. She was ; a growl of 
thunder that seemed to shake one's vitals sounded 
across the water as he spoke, and a leaping burst 
of fire, unbearably golden, opened out like a 
flower from the garden of Death upon the summit 
of the terrible island. 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 145 

" How far off is it ? " I asked. My voice 
didn't sound quite right ; it was a tone or two 
higher than usual, but Gore took no notice. 

** About eleven miles," he said. " She throws 
pretty straight up and down as a rule ; not so 
dangerous as she looks. Do you know who 
named her ? " 

" No," I said. (Isola— Isola Bella ! What was 
it the song said that kept running through my 
head : 

" And it's never, never, never, Douglas Gordon, 
Never, never, never on earth I'll come to thee I ") 

Douglas Gordon's girl was engaged to someone 
else, and they ran away together, and were 
drowned in each other's arms. But what would 
Douglas Gordon have done if she had been 
married ? 

The story of Vincent Gore came up before me 
in a red flash like the flash of Vulcan Island, and 
died down as the volcano fire sank into its cone. 
Not Isola. Never the Diana of the mountain. 
Married or single, she was not that kind. . . . 

" It was a Dutchman found it, and gave it its 
name, some good few years ago," said Gore. 
** Willem Corneliszoon Schouten. Look at it." 

I looked, with all the interest I could bring 
to bear. The flame rose and sank ; small 
rivers of fire began to trickle down towards the 

10 



146 Red Bob of the Bismareks 

sea. Every few minutes came that heart-shaking 
thunder of the mountain's inner voice. Here, 
on that lonely, untravelled sea, beside the dark 
coasts where no one ever landed, it was strangely 
moving ; and more than ever, it gave one the 
feeling that I had already experienced of being 
at the very ends of the earth. 

" Does anyone live there ? " I asked, trying 
to speak and act as usual, and — I think — succeed- 
ing well enough. 

" Not on the island itself," said Gore. " There 
are two others in the group ; a few natives 
live on those. Dangerous beggars, of course. 
There's scarcely a spot where you could be ship- 
wrecked, from Geelvink Bay right along, without 
being eaten aHve if you got ashore." 

" Why," I said, waking to momentary interest, 
" the Germans have had this place since 1885 ! " 

" Right," he answered, " but they haven't 
done more than sit on the edge of it anywhere. 
If we'd been making the usual trip, we should 
have called at two or three ports with big names, 
already, and we've got a lot of them to call at 
yet — sounds well, but they're nothing on earth 
but a jetty and a copra-shed, with perhaps a 
mission house somewhere or other close by. I 
tell you, the Germans are only holding this 
country by the tip of its tail." 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 147 

" Are they ? " I said, and then, as it struck me 
I must talk — must seem quite as usual : "Is it 
worth holding ? " 

Red Bob laughed a little. 

" It is worth it," he said, his lean, sharp 
profile — the very type of a true sea-rover's face 
— showing still and black against the glare of 
Schouten's burning mountain. " I wish our 
slice was as good. They're pretty near the same 
size, if you take in the Bismarcks and the 
Louisiades — each share is about twice as big as 
England. But the Germans have got the best 
ports, and the best navigable rivers. The Fly's 
a showy river with a gigantic estuary, but it 
doesn't begin to compare with the Kaiserin 
Augusta for use. You remember — that big 
mouth we passed, when the water was 
yellow for miles. That's it. Smallish steamers 
can go up for two hundred miles, big ocean 
liners for forty. Fine plantation country all 
the way." 

" Who lives there ? " I asked, picturing brown 
plantation houses and orderly groves of palms. 

" A rather bad lot of man-eaters. Nearly got 
me and Warburton once. You've heard of 
Warburton ; he was knocked on the head by a 
stone club in Rubiana." 

" What's in the country besides rivers ? " I 

10* 



148 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

asked. I did not care in the least what was in 
the country ; but it seemed well to talk. 

" Anything you like to name," answered Red 
Bob. " Gold. Lots of it — but they can't find 
it. We could, but we won't. Other metals — 
sticking with 'em. Gems I suspect, and so do 
other people. Woods that will make your for- 
tune in six months, if you get a fair chance at 
them — which in a German colony you won't. 
Birds of Paradise, worth three pounds apiece in 
Simpsonhaven ; worth anything you like at home. 
Gums that no one's investigated yet ; probably 
valuable. Sandalwood — ours is cut out, but 
theirs isn't, and the Chinese are giving big 
money for it. Land — land, my boy, that will 
grow cocoanuts a year quicker than the Federated 
Malay States, that they make such a song about, 
and rubber a year and a half quicker. Labour, 
plenty of it, and on the spot. A bit of country 
twice as big as England, that's four-fifths un- 
known, but the bit that is known is quite enough 
to make you want more. Oh, yes, worth having. 
I think old Jan Corneliszoon Schouten must have 
thought so, in the days when he spent so long 
exploring and coasting about — but, after all, it 
was only the western half of the country that 
Holland took. Till eighty-five, nobody seemed 
to want this place. Then they began the game 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 149 

of grab — but you know how we took it up and 
dropped it, and how Germany cut in and left us 
with only the inferior slice to take, in the end." 

I did not speak. None of these things appeared 
to me to matter in* the least. Who cared that 
German New Guinea had better natural advan- 
tages than British, and didn't use them ? 
Cleopatra's cry over Antony was ringing through 
my head : " Married. He's married." I had 
seen Lily Brunton act it. The dead despair of 
her voice was in my ears, the black despair of 
her eyes, as she stood with her back to the lights 
of her palace room, and said to the empty air : 
" Married. . . . Married. . . ." 

That was how one felt. Lily Brunton knew. 

I don't know when we passed the volcano. 
I don't know how long Red Bob stood watching 
on the deck, or whether he knew when I left 
him. I said nothing, but slipped away in the 
dusk and went to my cabin, where I snapped out 
the light, and lay with my face turned up towards 
the boards of the higher berth, trying to hold 
on to myself, and to think. 

I had only known this girl for a few days, argued 
one side of my mind. 

It was unreasonable to suppose that she should 
have taken any serious hold on my life — im- 
possible, rather. One did not suffer agonies 



150 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

because a girl one had only met last week turned 
out to be married to someone else. . . . 

Answered Nature, with a throb of anguish : 
" One did !— one did ! " 

Well, allowing that — allowing anything you 
liked about the present state of affairs — it 
would not last. There had been others. What 
about , and , and little ? 

Answered Paul Corbet, under the torture: 
" Nothing about them. They were different." 

But surely, one had said that before ? 

One had, because one thought it. This time 
one didn't think it. One knew. 

" Very well," said Common Sense, getting 
angry, " have it your own way. If things are 
so, what are you going to do about it ? " 

" Going to have the devil of a life, said Paul 
Corbet to Paul Corbet's Common Sense. 
Going to hate music, because she's in it, and 
flowers, because they are she, and the sea because 
she lived on it, and mountains, because she was 
born among them. Going to hate most things, 
including everything pleasant, because they will 
prick one at every turn with : * Do you re- 
member ? ' Never going to have a wife. Never 
going to have a home. Going to travel for 
ever, like the Wandering Jew, or Red Bob." 

" Why, bless my soul ! " said Common Sense, 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 151 

losing its temper altogether, " how long is it 
since I heard you say that if there was anything 
on earth you hated it was home, and that the 
thought of wives and children made you sick ? " 

" About a hundred years," answered Paul 
Corbet, grown old in a week. 

And in any case, it was other men's wives and 
children I was thinking of. As for that, their 
homes and wives and children make me sick 

still. My wife, my home, my children I 

had to stop here ; thought seemed fused in 
pain. 

My home, I went on, would be — ^with her 

There was no following that thought. None 
— if sanity were to be kept. 

" You have the whole world," puled Common 
Sense, growing weaker. " You have everything 
—else." 

" The world and everything else are not worth 
her," I answered. And Common Sense fled 
away. 

I lay long awake, thinking, and the sum of my 
thoughts was that my life was not going to be 
happy. I did not know anyone whose life was 
happy, now I came to think of it, but I had 
always fancied that I was to be an exception. 
One does fancy so at twenty-three. And all 
my wishes, of late, had met with such fairy-tale 



152 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

fulfilment, as soon as uttered, that this fierce 
check seemed incredibly unjust and cruel. 

They say that men under torture have been 
known to sleep through sheer exhaustion. I 
slept at last. 



Nothing in my life has ever seemed to me less 
like life and more like a dream, than that slow 
progress down the long, long shores of New 
Guinea after leaving Vulcan Island. Gradually, 
as the coast turned southwards, we turned south- 
wards too, till we were no longer off North, but 
off East New Guinea, creeping down the tail of 
the country in the direction of the British 
end. Ports with grand German names, and 
fine jetties where nobody (to all appearance) 
lived or even intended to live ; where palm 
trees, swinging outwards to the deep blue, gem- 
like water, seemed to bear their fruit, dry it and 
cut it, and leave it piled for the steamer, without 
other aid than that of one small, black savage 
in a scarlet loin-cloth, peeping alarmedly from 
behind the trunk of a tree. Ports where white 
nuns in white dresses came down to meet the 
boat, from mission convents perched on little 
guarded islands ; where gorgeous seas of moun- 
tain, coloured in those wonderful New Guinea 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 153 

blues that no one can venture to describe, tossed 
defiant waves about, above, behind the little 
strips of planted country, flaunting menace and 
defiance from every crest of the wicked, unknown 
peaks where never yet a white man's foot had 
trod. Ports where the steamer, on coming to a 
halt, was instantly surrounded by curious carved 
canoes, loaded deep with green and yellow 
bananas, and paddled by wild brown creatures 
lowering from under a mop of woolly hair, beads 
and a strip of bark their only dress. One port 
where there were houses with red roofs, and 
offices, and a melancholy attempt at civilization 
which didn't seem to have penetrated more than 
a half-hour's ride back from the shore. All these 
things came and went, and passed, like the 
visions of a fevered night. I saw them, these 
places at the end of nowhere, which had been my 
dream for as many years as I could recall — and 
they impressed me, and interested me, not so 
much as the sailing of one liner from the Mersey 
used to do in Liverpool long ago. I called it 
long ago, because, indeed, it seemed so to be. 

I saw Isola every day of these days, which were, 
after all, few in actual number, and I never spoke 
to her. For a man of my age, or youth, I think 
this showed some self-restraint ; perhaps a little 
more self-restraint than others in similar 



154 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

condition would have displayed. I thought her 
changed and quiet ; she looked at me some- 
times, when I passed her on deck, but she did 
not speak to me. I think she stayed a great deal 
in her cabin, and was seldom out ; but as I said, 
this period is not very clear in my mind. There 
is no use writing about what I felt and went on 
feeling. It was clear to me that that had to be 
borne, and it was borne. 

If I could have been amused by anything, the 
sufferings undergone by Red Bob on account of, 
and by means of. Miss Siddis would assuredly 
have done it. That small person, with her 
(doubtfully) crooked person, her (possibly) 
oblique eye, and her certainly matrimonial 
intentions, was never, from our leaving the 
stormier seas and coming into the sheltered 
part of the coast, off guard. She did not alarm 
her victim with the frankness of advance she had 
at first displayed, but none the less — rather the 
more — did she haunt his footsteps, morning, 
lunch-time, dinner-time and evening-walk-time, 
with the meekness of a mouse and the deadly 
persistence of a cat. I have seen Red Bob 
come down to his cabin, literally sweating with 
dismay, after a stern chase round and round 
the deck, in which Miss Siddis, by dint of un- 
sportsmanlike dodging through deck cabins and 



Red Bob of the Bismareks 155 

under bridge ladders, had succeeded in over- 
hauling him and riddling him with shot. I 
have seen him, when he wanted to get to the 
bath of a morning, waiting for half an hour just 
inside his cabin door, breathing hard with fear, 
and finall)^ going out with a dash that would 
have done credit to a forlorn hope charging a 
glacis under fire — because Miss Siddis's cabin 
was near the bath, and because she always hap- 
pened to be " simmering and bubbling about," 
as he put it, when he went for his shower. I 
have been under considerable apprehension that 
he would really take the chance of sharks and 
alligators by jumping overboard when I caught 
the wild-cat-seized-in-your-arms look in his eye, 
on the occasion (not a solitary one) of his being 
pinned in by Miss Siddis right up at the nose of 
the ship, where there was no escape or retreat. 
She never, so far as I could make out, said any- 
thing calculated to alarm ; but she soothed, 
and simmered, and stuck to him till she had him 
almost in a state of nervous prostration. 

I mention this, because, absurd as it all was, 
it had a serious effect upon our fortunes, es- 
pecially upon mine. If either of us — Red Bob 
in particular — ^had endured, instead of escaping 
from, the attentions and the talk of Miss Siddis, 
things would have been known to us that were 



156 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

not known, and troubles that followed on our 
ignorance — on mine especially — never would have 
happened. For myself, I shrank from her con- 
versation now as I might have shrunk from acid 
laid on a wound. I knew she would talk to me 
about Isola, and Isola's husband ; I judged 
her likely to give me a full account of the 
wedding, if she got the least encouragement, 
down to the last orange flower and last bit of 
cake. And there was nothing from which I 
would more readily have fled to the very ends 
of the earth (if, indeed, German Guinea itself 
was not the end) than any mention of the man 
who had been before me. She was married. 
That was all, and more than all, I wanted to 
know. 

So the voyage wore itself out and we came to 
Simpsonshaven, later known to the world as 
Rabaul, the capital of all Kaiser Wilhelms Land, 
situated on the great island which had once been 
New Ireland, hard by New Britain, and was 
now Neu Pommern, next to Neu Mecklenburg. 



CHAPTER VIII 

I KNOW now what I did not know when 
we entered the harbour of Rabaul, that 
I was sickening, on that day, for an attack of 
fever. New Guinea does not belie its looks. 
Its hard, gaudy loveliness is the loveliness of 
the tiger, and like the tiger, it hides talons 
beneath its velvet and gold. 

Through a sunset of blood-red and liver- 
purple — a slaughter-house sunset that stained 
the sky from west to east — we steamed into 
Simpsonshafen, and up to the town of Rabaul. 
I say again that I had fever coming on, but even 
so — even making allowance for the cloud of wild, 
dark thoughts that settle on the mind of the 
fever-stricken as vultures settle on a corpse — 
I see Rabaul as a place of evil beauty. I have 
never been there again, but I know that the 
picture stamped on my mind, that evening of 
sinister sunset, will last as long as I shall. 

Rabaul has been heard of often since then, 
after a fashion that none of us dreamed about 

157 i 



158 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

in those days, unless, indeed. Red Bob . . . but 
of that I cannot speak, since I do not know. 
It is always described as a spot of surpassing 
loveliness. There may be times when it deserves 
such praise, but on the evening when the AJzelia 
steamed in, it struck me as the wickedest-looking 
spot between Capricorn and Cancer. 

The town lies in the hollow of an old volcano 
crater, walled with heavy forests. It is held 
tight in the elbow-curve of the bay, so that not 
a breath of Heaven's fresh outer air from the 
sea can visit it. 

From the great black finger of the jetty that 
runs pointing out to sea, as if in silent warning 
of unseen dangers on the land, the streets run 
straight and narrow, thickly overhung with 
boulevarding of tropic trees — flamboyant, with. 
its drips of blood-coloured flowers ; mango, 
hanging heavy-scented fruit beneath a gloomy 
cave of leafage ; casuarina, the grave-tree of the 
Pacific, that mourns with every faintest stir of 
breeze, like an ^olian harp set on a tomb. . . . 
There are rows of handsome ofiices and houses, 
and stores, and Government buildings, standing 
on forests of white or black legs, Hke creeping 
things. There is a heavy scent in the air, of 
gums and woods and foliage, and wet, raw 
earth, and rain ... it is almost always raining 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 159 

in Rabaul, and the rain is always warm, and the 
ground steams under the sun when the rain is 
over. Outside the town, in the oily waters of 
the bay — that bay that is never moved by any 
storm, for the harbourage of Rabaul is the pride 
of the Bismarcks — stand up two dagger-shaped 
islands, like some strange form of beacon. Do 
you wish to read their warning ? Glance to 
the right of them, and you will see an ugly sight : 
a low, mischievous-looking crater, with its lip 
broken down towards the sea ; a crater that lies 
Hke an ulcer on the face of the land, crusted with 
Hvid yellow and death-grey among the springing 
green. Within the memory of men no older 
than Red Bob that crater had spat out a low 
island or two and altered all the harbour levels ; 
in that year the sea turned hot and the fish died, 
and were thrown up on the land. There was no 
settlement in Simpsonshafen then, nor in the 
days further back when the great beacon islands 
were cast out. But there are those who say that 
no settlement should ever have been put there, 
and prophesy the fate of Pompeii and St. Pierre 
for Rabaul — one of these days. 

In the gloom of a pouring dusk we disembarked, 
and went to look for shelter. I sola was in the 
saloon as we passed through, and so was Mabel 
Siddis. The malign imp who had already 



160 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

mingled so much of comedy with the small 
tragedy of my sorrows, was on hand again, to 
block Red Bob's pathway with the one thing 
on earth he feared, and to spoil my last vision 
of Isola with a ludicrous picture of the undaunted 
Mabel craning her head back to look up at Gore's 
mighty height, and squinting quite perceptibly 
at him, as she held on to his hand, and assuring 
him they were quite certain to meet again, in 
that misfit pretty-woman's voice of hers. As 
for me, I took three steps across the saloon to 
where the girl who was not for me was sitting 
under a window, her ivory face strangely pale 
in the gloom of the falling rain. I took her hand 
for a moment — it was only a moment, indeed, 
yet our fingers trailed and slipped from one 
another ; they did not fall — and I said boldly : 

" Good-bye, Isola Bella. I'd have loved you 
if I could ; and if ever you want a friend, I'll 
come, dead or alive." 

" Good-bye," she said. " It has — been — a 
pleasant voyage." 

I left her, with the dusk settling down about 
her motionless head. The stewards were coming 
to turn on the lights ; they had not yet reached 
the saloon ; on the deck, white star after white 
star sprang up. I saw nothing of what I had 
dreaded ; no husband waiting for Isola, 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 161 

With the strangeness of coming fever on me, 
I walked out into the town. We looked for 
lodging everywhere ; for hotels, boarding- 
houses, apartments ; for anywhere, at last, where 
two wet, houseless travellers could find shelter. 
There was no such place. The capital of Kaiser 
Wilhelms Land had no accommodation for 
strangers ; did not like them ; did not want 
them ; abandoned them to sleep under houses 
among the piles, and feed out of rubbish-bins, 
if they so chose. It would not put them up. 
It would not even feed them. We could buy 
not so much as a piece of bread, or a glass of 
beer in all the inhospitable town. 

" Just the same," said Red Bob. " I rather 
anticipated this, but I thought I'd a friend I 
could put up with. It seems he has been cleared 
out ; I suppose for harbouring just such objection- 
able characters as me. . . . We must try back for 
Herbertshohe ; it's ten miles down the coast, but 
they will give you a bed and a bite there." 

I burst out laughing, for the fever was growing 
in me, and I saw the darkening town of Rabaul 
circled with haloes of molten red. 

" It's the devil's town," I said. " See the two 
horns sticking up as we came in ? " I laughed 
again ; it seemed to me I had said a thing very 
clever. 

II 



162 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" Oh, that's it, is it ? " said Red Bob, and put 
his hand on my forehead. " Nice kettle of 
fish ; you ought to be in bed." 

The town was dancing round me by now, and I 
became conscious of a red-hot spine, also of 
the fact that my legs — not my feet, they were all 
right — my legs were double-jointed, and did not 
work properly. This, for some curious reason, 
made me extremely cold. It did not matter 
— nothing mattered — but I could hardly speak 
without biting my tongue, my teeth chattered 
so. I assured Red Bob that I was all right, and 
that he had the loveliest dark eyes I had ever seen 
in a human face, only that I feared that ivory 
tint of skin meant deHcacy of some kind. ... I 
remember still how he stopped under a dripping 
mango tree to shout with laughter, and how he 
bundled me at once into something that was 
standing there — a sort of little truck on a tram- 
Hne — ran it down to the wharf at a smart trot, 
and carted me, in a second or two (or so I thought) 
on to the deck of a small schooner, that gHttered 
very wet under the lights. Somebody was put 
in a cabin after that — myself, I thought — and 
some other people began fighting in German 
outside. There was a talk about marks by and 
by, and someone called someone else a robber, 
and then — immediately it seemed — there was a 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 163 

fresh sea-breeze blowing on my face, and blocks 
creaking, and a boom swinging across the deck. 
After which, I dreamed bad dreams for a 
week. 



" Harrh ! " came a bloodthirsty shout, over 
my shoulder. 

I sat up suddenly. A kitchen-stove-coloured 
savage, with huge nostrils, and glaring black- 
glass eyes, was standing at the head of my long 
chair, scratching his head with one hand, and 
holding out a cup of soup with the other. 

" Harrh ! " he yelled again, as if I were a 
prisoner taken in battle, and about to be slain. 
" You have one-fellow soof ? " 

He shook the cup of soup at me with such 
vigour that some of it splashed out over my 
pyjamas. 

" Oh, it's you. Bo," I said, reaching for the cup. 
The savage of New Britain is scarcely a restful 
type of attendant for a sick-room ; but Gore and 
I were not out to find fault with any conditions 
that gave us a roof over our heads, and a " boy " 
to work for us, just then. I had been fairly ill 
for a few days, and was recovering. To-day I 
had so far returned to myself that I was able, 
lying out on the verandah, to take note of 

II* 



164 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

where I was, and wonder at the oddity of the 
place 

Herbertshohe, one of the many futile aban- 
doned capitals of Kaiser Wilhelms Land, lies 
some ten miles from Rabaul, along the New 
Britain coast. I do not know how Gore had 
obtained leave for himself and me to camp in a 
forgotten wreck of an hotel there ; probably he 
had more friends than I knew of, or than it was 
judicious to speak about, in the country. At 
all events, he had carried me there, on the night 
of our arrival, and here we still remained, in a 
structure that looked like somebody's cardboard 
model of a hotel he had intended to build, 
and didn't — a crazy, two-story contrivance of 
carved, flimsy woodwork, deformed with odd 
gables and bows, all placed at the front. I had 
a queer fancy that it had been constructed solely 
for the purpose of being photographed, in order 
to make somebody beheve something — no matter 
what — about the prosperity of German rule in 
Kaiser Wilhelms Land. At all events, it could 
never, even in the days when Herbertshohe was 
the place of the Governor's residence, have been 
a paying proposition ; and now, when the capital 
had escaped yet again, and gone to hide itself 
round the corner of Gazelle Peninsula (its fifth 
attempt at finding a quiet home) not even a 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 165 

Government official drawing up a report to send 
to Berlin could have mentioned the Hotel 
Friedrichsruhe as an asset of the place. 

Nobody lived there. There was a sort of 
hotel, carefully described as a private club, in 
order to discourage the passing traveller, a little 
way further on, and if you were a German, you 
stayed there. But the " Friedrichsruhe " was 
left to rats, centipedes, cockroaches and travel- 
ling English. You could camp among its decay- 
ing furniture, in its paintless, dropping-to-pieces 
rooms, for a sum that would have given you 
lodging in the " Savoy " at home ; you could find 
your own boy, and send across to the " club " 
for a stray meal, which might be accorded you 
and might not, and you could pay for it at double 
the prices of Berlin. So much the Kaiser's 
Government allowed you, in the Bismarck 
Archipelago. You could not travel about ; when 
you had polluted the country with your presence 
for two or three weeks, you would get notice to 
the effect that strangers were not permitted 
to take up residence there, and you would then 
— if you were not Red Bob, or Red Bob's com- 
panion in adventure — hasten obediently on to 
the Prinz Sigismund, when she came in from 
Singapore, and steam away to Australia. 

But if you were Red Bob, or Paul Corbet, you 



166 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

would not contemplate doing anything of the 
kind. 

Bo, having given me the soup, left the verandah 
in two bounds that shook its crazy structure 
from end to end. Outside, he let loose a hideous 
war-whoop, and then went off to wash dishes. 
I lay on my long chair, congratulating myself on 
the return of a normal temperature, and looking 
out across the roadway to the sea beyond the belt 
of palms — a hot-weather sea of curiously trans- 
parent blues and greens, like inlay of Venice glass. 
There was grass on both sides of the road ; there 
were low bushes here and there ; there were 
palms everywhere. Grass, palms and under- 
growth alike, forced by the hot rains of a German 
New Guinea December, were verdigris-green 
in colour, and so sappy and wet and juicy that 
they looked like one enormous salad. 

I saw bullock-carts crawling down the road as 
I lay and drank my soup — box-like vehicles 
drawn by grey, long-horned buffaloes with rings 
in their noses. I saw a plump German or two, 
in neat white suits, passing by from the sleepy 
stores, or the sleepy, small post-office, or the 
sleepy Government offices that had been built 
for a capital, and were obviously misfits for the 
dead little town of Herbertshohe. I saw New 
Britain natives going by in gangs, from the great 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 167 

cocoanut plantations. They were mostly like 
Bo — blacklead in colour, instead of the brown that 
one saw on the neighbouring mainland, and 
attired, like Bo, in the Governmentally regulated 
dress of a loin cloth and a singlet. They were 
singularly ill-looking savages, sulky and heavy- 
faced, and with a certain black fierceness latent 
somewhere, that I had not noticed among the 
tribes of New Guinea itself. Indeed, the 
Papuan of the mainland, man-eater, prisoner- 
torturer, and general all-round villain though he 
may be, has certain endearing qualities — a sense 
of humour, a liking for pleasure and fun, a sort 
of rough hospitality, that lead you into easy 
friendship with him, if you are much in his 
society. But the man who could be friendly 
with a New Britain savage has yet to be born. 
As the mainland Papuan is the tiger of the 
human race — treacherous, bloodthirsty, yet 
fascinating in his own way — so the New Britainer 
is the bison ; ugly as a bison, black-faced and 
fire-eyed as a bison, and as a bison intractable and 
untamable. The mailed fist of Germany drove 
him to plantation work by a- system of merciless 
taxes, and kept him to it by physical force — there 
was never anything of the man-and-brother 
method in the deaUngs of Germany with its 
colonies — but through all, he remained what he 



168 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

is : the last, worst savage on the face of the 
earth. 



I had finished my invalid's ration, and was 
wondering where Gore could have disappeared 
to all afternoon, and how soon he meant to come 
back, when I heard the tramp, tramp of bare feet 
— military bare feet — on the verandah. I sat up. 
It was Hahn, my old acquaintance of the duel, 
with his police, marching somewhere or other 
(he was a Government officer of fairly high 
standing) and calling in on the way to see me. 

" Well, my nut, how are you this afternoon ? " 
he shouted cheerily. Hahn prided himself on 
the accuracy of his English slang. " I have to 
march these beggars up to Toma, and I have 
at the club for some beers to give me heart just 
now called in. When will you be fit again ? " 

He seated himself astride the remnant of a 
chair, and roared an order, in the true Prussian 
bellow, at his police, who were standing at 
" Attention." They dismissed, and squatted 
down outside. 

" Why do you speak to them in English ? " 
I asked somewhat wickedly, for I knew. 

" I speak to them in pigeon-English," replied 
Hahn, " because it is the nearest to their own 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 169 

savage speech. Right German it is impossible 
to teach them. We have tried since 1885. 
When our Governor a good many years ago came 
here, he said in his opening speech that if he could 
that pigeon-English from Kaiser Wilhelms Land 
and the Bismarcks chuck out, he would think he 
had done a good deed for Germany, if he did 
nothing more in his stay. But the mind of the 
savage can't grasp a language so far removed from 
his habit of thought as the cultured German. 
So we have allowed him to retain the tongue that 
had spread over the archipelago already, through 
its eminent suitabiHty to the ignorance of the 
savage mind." 

" I see," was all my reply. I did see. Al- 
ready, during the trip down the coast of Kaiser 
Wilhelms Land, I had had full opportunity of 
understanding the danger — to Germany — of the 
system that forced every newly imported officer 
to learn pigeon-English immediately on his 
arrival, and talk to his soldier-police in the 
language of a neighbouring, rival European 
power. For myself, however — since I did not 
pretend to Vincent Gore's linguistic abilities — 
it promised well. Gore was not likely to require 
me to learn a new savage dialect every week, 
when pigeon-English was spoken everywhere 
along the coast. 



170 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

Where was Gore, by the way, and what was he 
doing ? Now that I recollected, I had not seen 
him since breakfast. . . . 

To my surprise, Hahn spoke my own thoughts. 

" Where is that chief of yours ? I thought I 
saw him going down to the Company's launch." 

" Perhaps," I said, leaning back on my pillow 
to shade my eyes from the light of the westering 
sun on the sea. " I don't know where he has 
gone." 

" So," said Hahn, obviously not believing me. 
He stopped talking for a minute, and began to 
roll a cigarette. Somehow, I recalled a fragment 
of counsel once thrown to me by Red Bob : 

" Better make your own cigarettes. They 
take the place of a snuff-box, on occasion. You 
remember how all the old diplomats used to take 
snuff — because it gave them time to think when 
talking. . . ." 

" Have you seen Herr Richter since you 
came ? " asked the young officer presently. I 
have often noticed the naivete of the German 
stare. They will ask you a diplomatic question, 
and then spoil its effect by a stare of such 
curiosity and keenness that it would put a baby 
on its guard. Hahn gave me just such a look 
as he spoke. Therefore, I picked my way in 
replying : 



Red Bob of the Bismareks 171 

" Why, no. I've been pretty ill, off and on. 
Is he here ? " 

" Certainly not. His residence is in Rabaul," 
replied Hahn. I don't know why, but the answer 
convinced me that Richter had been — as the 
Americans say — " snooping around " in the 
neighbourhood of our residence, and did not 
want anyone to know it. 

" If he should take the trouble to give you 
advice about your movements, you had better 
accept it, you can bet," declared Hahn. " Herr 
Richter himself is a very learned man, and has 
much knowledge about the aboriginals of Neu 
Pommern. Yes, my boy." 

He grinned under his gold moustache, and 
offered me a cigarette. ... I guessed then, and 
know now, that Hahn was told off to hamper our 
movements, and find out our plans ; but somehow 
or other I never could help liking him. He 
didn't do it well, in the first place. And then he 
was always jolly about it. And then I had shot off 
the tip of his ear, which endears a man to you. . . . 

" Look here," I said, " I don't know the first 
thing about Gore and his plans. I do what I'm 
told, no more. I'm his secretary. You go and 
ask him anything you want to know, my son, and 
take what you can get ; you can keep it all, with 
my compliments." 



172 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" The Httle English bull-terrier again," said 
Hahn, folding his arms on the back of his chair, 
and grinning more. " Fowl, thou canst bite, 
but thou art no diplomatist." 

" In the first place, I'm five feet nine," I said, 
" though I don't carry as much beef as you — and 
in the second, the people who picked you for 
fighting got a very poor brand of diplomacy in 
with the packet." 

" Fowl," said the young officer, looking at 
me over his folded arms, " you know too much. 
I fear myself. Fowl, thou wilt have to a first-class 
saloon, outside cabin berth by the Prinz Sigis- 
mund to Sydney buy. A single ticket, my boy." 

" Get out," I said. " The British Association 
and the Royal Society would excommunicate 
you like the cardinal and the jackdaw of Rheims, 
if you stopped a man like Vincent Gore at his 
work." 

" Did you hear about the wife of Herr 
Richter ? " asked Hahn, suddenly changing the 
subject. 

" Your boss ? " I asked. 

" Boss ? " queried the expert in slang, inno- 
cently. " What is that ? " 

" What Justus Richter is," I countered. 
" WeU ? Didn't know he had a wife." 

" Nor did we," declared Hahn, with a romantic 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 173 

tone in his voice, which I beHeve to have been 
perfectly genuine. Before 191 4, we had occa- 
sional chances of seeing the romantic side of the 
German character — the side that produced 
" Werther " and the bread-and-butter. . . . 

" None of us here in Kaiser Wilhelms Land 
knew," he went on. " Richter had been married, 
oh many years ago, and a widower for many 
years had been. And two years ago, when he 
was going to Singapore by Java, the ship stopped 
at Ceram. And in Ceram there was cholera. 
Herr Richter got this cholera, and they put him 
ashore in Banda, thinking that he very shortly 
should die. Now in Banda there was no one 
should take him in, for they were all much 
afraid of a cholera patient, and I think he would 
have died at once, but that a lady — the wife of a 
Spanish settler — Herr Gott, Powl, you are 
ill " 

" Pm a little — weak — from this dashed fever," 
I said. " I only want to put my head down ; 
it's dizzy. Go on." 

" Now ! This lady was not young, but she 
was good-hearted and so was her husband, though 
he was a man very rude in temper at times. 
And when she heard of Richter, she and her 
husband said : * This is a good work to do, so we 
shall take the stranger in.' And him they took." 



174 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" Yes ? " I said. The sun was creeping down 
the white-hot sky ; green parrots were awaking 
from the lethargy of the afternoon, and begin- 
ning to wrangle feebly under the domes of the 
mango trees. Hahn's soldier-police were grunt- 
ing pigeon-English to each other on the steps of 
the verandah. I noticed these things ; I noticed 
that a sulky grey buffalo, with horns like levelled 
spears, was trying to steal bananas over a fence 
some yards away . . . and yet I knew what was 
coming. 

" She nursed him through that terrible illness," 
went on Hahn, the intense light from the sea 
contracting the pupils of his blue eyes to little 
pin-points of black, and making his very eyebrows 
glitter. " And at the last, he was in collapse. 
Now out of collapse recovers hardly ever any 
man. So Richter, who is of just and noble 
instincts, said to her : ^ I am dying ; before I 
die I would a will make, and leave my plantation 
in German New Guinea, and the money I there 
have invested, to you, because you alone have 
runned this so fearful risk on my account, and 
have saved me that I do not die like a dog on the 
jetty.' And the lady said : ' Right ! ' But 
see then, Fowl, I am blowed if they could find 
a notary who would come into that house, for 
there is very few in the place and they had wives 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 175 

and children, and they would not run such a 
risk. Then Richter he was dying further, and 
he could speak, but he said : ' A pastor must not 
have fear of death. Send for a pastor, and you bet,' 
he said, ' I will manage that thing.' Also, the 
lady sent for the pastor, and Richter said : * Give 
me some more cognac,' and they gave him. 

* Now,' says he, * bring down your daughter who 
has come home from school this week, and I will 
marry her before I die, and the plantation 
shall be hers and yours, but be quick,' he says 
to her, * for I go.' But the lady was very quick 
indeed, for she was most poor, and she desired 
the plantation, and after a little she brings the 
daughter down, who is crying very much for 
fright of the death, and the pastor her to him 
fast and well marries. Then Richter says : 

* That is well done, and now read me some of 
the Bible, for it's many years I haven't been at 
a church, and one doesn't know how far these 
things may or may not be true.' And the 
pastor he reads to him, and he prays — Herr 
Gott, he prays so strong that Richter falls in a 
good sleep, and the next day he is better." 

I knew it all now. 

" But, Powl, it's the most romantic story — 
for then the girl is sent back to school, and 
Richter said : * I am glad that I am not to die, 



176 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

since that is a most beautiful bride, but since 
she was never by me courted, she shall courted 
be.' And back to German New Guinea he goes, 
but he never told Donna Ravenna his name was 
not Schultz only, it was Justus Schultz Richter." 

Hahn suddenly pulled himself up here, and 
appeared to consider, looking at me thought- 
fully, and pulling his moustache. 

" You needn't worry," I told him. " If you 
think I can't guess why your Lecoq-Sherlock- 
Holmes-Schultz-Richter was masquerading about 
the Dutch Islands under a false name " 

" It was his own name ! " 

" Well, the wrong end of his own name, then — 
you're jolly well wrong. F can imagine quite 
easily. Drive on." 

" You want some more quinine," commented 
Hahn, looking curiously at me. " You are 
yellow — aren't thou yellow just, old churl ! " 

" Go on while I'm taking it," I said, reaching 
for the bottle. 

" Now see then, in the marriage service, of 
course the surname isn't used, but when Donna 
Ravenna and her daughter heard the bridegroom 
who was at the point of dying say * Justus 
Schultz ' they took no notice, and the bride 
after him said, ' Justus Schultz.' So that was 
the Christian names, all right. And when he 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 177 



was better, and ready to go, he had thought that 
he would tell Donna Ravenna, at the point of 
leaving, ' I am not Schultz only, I am Justus 
Schultz Richter of New Guinea, and a man of 
much more importance than you have supposed, 
though in the interests of ' " 

" Secret service," I cut in. 

" Of diplomacy," corrected Hahn, " in those 
interests he had travelled under another name. 
But Donna Ravenna, not long after, paid with 
her life for that noble hospitality. She, also her 
husband, died of the cholera. Then Richter 
went away, most deeply annoyed and to the 
bottom of his heart grieved." 

" He had some reason," I commented. The 
quinine I had swallowed was not more bitter in 
my mouth than the whole of Hahn's story to 
my mind, but I did not choose that he should 
see me grimace, over the one more than over 
the other. 

" Also," continued Hahn, '* again, in six 
months, he returned to Banda, where now the 
girl had come back for a little while, and with a 
governess friend was living, to wait for him. 
But he told her that she should meet Schultz 
in New Guinea, and she, who had no re- 
membrance of him — since a man in collapse of 
cholera is no more like the same one in health 

Z3 



178 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

than I am like a dead fish on the shore — she said 
she to New Guinea with Miss Siddis would go. 
For you understand, there was now no money 
left for her, and she had not one thing that she 
could do. ' If he is a good man, as I think,' 
said she, ' I will try and like him, because, after 
all, I am his wife in law,' and she embarked." 

Hahn laughed a little, sent a surprisingly 
vivid curse at one of his men who had dared to 
fall asleep, and went on : 

" Then Richter went with her all the voyage, 
and not anyone knew he was the Schultz she had 
married. So right romantic is this man, who has 
indeed some grey hair, but the heart of a 
child " 

I thought of the gory affair at Kronprinz- 
haven, undoubtedly got up by this same child- 
hearted creature of romance, and if I had felt 
like grinning, would certainly have grinned. 

" And not till they came to Rabaul, and were 
in the house of the lady to whom Miss Siddis 
is governess, didn't he speak. So now we all 
look for a merry wedding in the church, because 
the bride will have it, though she is indeed 
married before, and then a happy home on the 
plantation for Richter, with his so-beautiful 
young wife." 

" They aren't married again yet ? " I asked, 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 179 

with great leaps of the heart that turned me 
sick. 

" No, but to-morrow I think they will be. 
This pretty girl is a little sad at leaving all her 
home ; still, by and by she will be more heartful. 
Also, Powl, I have talked to you too long, my 
nut ; you are looking worse. If I do not take 
those poHce of mine on to Toma, I shall not be 
there before the evening rain. So long, ta-ta, 
see you soon." 

He tilted his white helmet forward on his 
brow, bellowed to his police, kicked one or two 
of them to encourage the rest, and marched off 
down the muddy road between the ranks of 
palms. 

We were nearly at the longest day, it being 
December ; still, the swift dusk of equatorial 
lands had fairly pounced upon the town before 
Gore came home, a Httle after seven. He 
struck a match and lit the verandah lamp. 

** Oh," he said, looking at me, with the in- 
evitable cigar drooping from one corner of his 
mouth. Then, " Indeed ! " Then he sat down 
on the rickety Austrian chair, and bellowed for 
tea. 

Bo answered with a howl that would have 
done credit to a warrior in the act of decapitating 
an enemy, and bounded on to the verandah. 

12* 



180 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



" You catchum one-fellow tea, quick ! " or- 
dered Red Bob. " You catchum bulimacow 
(meat), bread. ... As usual," he said. (Bo 
had taken the verandah in three leaps, and was 
gone to make up the fire in an outhouse.) " As 
usual, not a bite to be had since six this morning." 

" You've been in Rabaul," I stated, being 
familiar with the inhospitable ways of the 
German capital. 

" I have," said Red Bob, leaning back in the 
chair with his long legs stretching across half 
the verandah. He looked at me under his 
eyebrows, but never a question did he ask. 

So of course I had to burst out. 

" I suppose you're surprised to see me dressed 
again ? " (Which I was, down to the pin in 
my tie.) 

" No," said Red Bob. " I'm not much in 
the way of being surprised at things." 

" Well," I rushed on, " I've dressed because 
I'm going to Rabaul to-night." 

" Who lent you the aeroplane, and can you 
run it yourself ? " asked Gore, with every appear- 
ance of interest. 

" What do you mean ? " 

" Only that the launch has come back, and 
doesn't run again till she's wanted to." 

" I don't care," I said. " I'll hire a cutter 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 181 



or a schooner. I'm going to get to Rabaul 
to-night." 

" They won't hire us any boats. That's 
what I've been looking up to-day." 

" What ! " 

" Won't hire us anything that floats or 



" What for, in the name of common sense ? " 

" Name of Wilhelm II., more likely. We've 
bumped up against him somehow." 

" Then I'll walk." 

" By land," said Gore indifferently, " I take 
it to be thirty miles." 

" Then," I said, breathing hard, " I'll go down 
to the jetty to-morrow, at daylight, and if the 
launch isn't running, I'll make it run, if I have 
to shoot the engineer." 

" I see your point," said Gore, smoking lazily, 
" but it's an unnecessary trip. She's dis- 
appeared." 

" Good God 1 Where ? — and how do 

you ? " 

" Oh, the yarn's all over Rabaul. Wedding 
was fixed for the day after to-morrow — formal 
wedding, that is — lady was staying with the 
Hirschmanns, who employ Miss Siddi^ lady 
disappears and can't be found. No one seen her 
since yesterday afternoon." 



182 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" Then," I said, getting to my feet and hold- 
ing on by the back of the couch — for I felt a 
little unsteady — " there's all the more reason 
why I should go and find her, dead or alive." 

" And give her over to her husband. Just 
so," said Gore, puffing pleasantly. " Where's 
that cannibal with the tea ? " 

I said something strong in contradiction. 

" Yes, but you see," said Red Bob, " to find 
her in this country would mean just that, no- 
thing else. The whole community's against 
her — what right has a silly Httle foreign girl 
to take a dishke to one of the most prominent 
citizens in the colony, especially when she's 
tied to him by a legal ceremony already ? That's 
the way they look at it. Nobody would give 
her a hand." 

" Where do you think — what do you think ? 
Do you think she's ? " 

" Oh, no," said Gore, answering my question 
as if I had put it in words. " I don't think she 
has. I don't like thinking, anyhow. I prefer 
to know. Can't say I know in this case, but I've 
an idea or two." 

" For God's sake, tell me if you have," I 
said, sitting down on the couch again. The 
great white stars among the palm trees seemed 
to be dancing about ; the floor was heaving like 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 183 

a steamer deck in a heavy sea. I was not so 
strong as I had thought, it seemed. 

Gore looked at me. 

" It's a bad business, and a tangle," he said ; 
« but " 

" It is not a bad business," I interrupted. 
" If you think it's a parallel case to— to any- 
thing you " 

" We'll leave it at that, if you please," inter- 
rupted Red Bob, with something slightly dan- 
gerous in his voice. " I was going to say I think 
the young woman's made back to Friedrich 
Wilhelmshaven way. You see, the Afzelia*s 
still lying at the jetty — going to sail on the home 
voyage to-morrow morning ; and if she could 
stow away on board, she'd be all right. I don't 
see what else she can have done. Every house 
about Rabaul has been searched, and as to 
getting off into the bush, she must know she'd 
be eaten if she got away five miles behind the 
town. Besides " 

** It looks as if you might be right," I said 
doubtfully. 

" Well, you'll have every opportunity of find- 
ing out. We have to board the Afzelia when 
she calls here to-morrow morning. I'm trying 
back to Friedrich Wilhelmshaven myself." 

" What on earth for ? " 



184 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" You hurry up with that tray, Bo. Put him 
there. Catch me two-fellow teaspoon, you black 
villain — why do you always forget the spoons ? 
. . . I'll tell you what for when I've fed. My 
lunch and dinner to-day have been the smell of 
the meals in those dashed ' clubs ' in Rabaul. 
Some of these days " 

He stopped to fill his mouth with meat. 

" Some of these days," he went on, " there'll 
be restaurants in Rabaul where a stranger can 
actually buy a bite of food. And bars, where he 
can get an iced beer. And in those days the fat 
inhabitants won't set their tables where you can 
watch them eating, and then snigger at you 
as you pass. No, my son." 

" Why not ? " I asked. 

" At all events," said Red Bob, " their beef 
is worthy of a noble race — when you get it. 
You're well enough to eat a meal to-night ; 
come on and feed before we talk. I'm going to 
tell you about the Schouten pearls." 

I found I was well enough, and that I felt 
another man when the food was down. Bo 
cleared the table in a series of jerks and jumps 
while we settled ourselves on the upper verandah 
of the house. It was none too secure, but you 
could not be overheard on it. 

" Well," said Red Bob, stretching his legs out 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 185 

comfortably before him, " this is how it stands 
in a nutshell. Our friend, Willem Corneliszoon 
Schouten, sailed from New Hanover to Vulcan 
Island, on the mainland. He didn't make a 
bee-line, though ; at one time he ran pretty 
close in to New Britain. And he stayed a devil 
of a time about there — all things considered. 
And he used to stop at the islands now and 
then — the ship's log tells about it. He would 
go away from his men, and trade with the natives 
all by himself ; wonder was he didn't get killed 
and cooked half a dozen times over. Now the 
last time I was here, a year or two ago, I was 
following up Schouten's tracks a bit, for no par- 
ticular reason — you see, at that time I'd never 
been to Holland or heard of Helga Maria ; wish 
I had ; it would have saved me a trip across 
the world and back. I was just taking ethno- 
logical notes, and followed his route. Well, 
on one of the islands — a good-sized place, marked 
on the map and named — I found a rock carving. 
Of course, I thought I'd struck something lucky 
about native history, and I cleared it out — it 
was in wonderfully good condition, being under- 
neath an overhang. What do you guess it was ? " 

" Something about Schouten ? " I hazarded. 

" You can judge. It was an arrow ; and a 
row of little roundish things that might have 



186 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

been commas, or drops of rain, or almost any- 
thing you might choose to say. And a bit of 
ornamental carving that looked Celtic " 

" Celtic ! " I exclaimed. No matter what 
his private troubles were, any man who had spent 
some months in the company of Vincent Gore 
was bound to rise to that as a trout to a fly. 
Celtic ! In a Papuo-Melanesian island ! 

" I didn't say it was, I said it looked Celtic," 
went on Gore imperturbably. "As it turned 
out, the thing was Dutch, and seventeenth- 
century at that. Of course, I took a rubbing of 
the stone before I went. And then I sailed for 
a little bit of an island, further out in the direc- 
tion of the Admiralties, where Schouten's log 
mentions that they called. He says there were 
no natives there, but that they got some cocoa- 
nuts and oysters. It was an uninteresting place — 
I didn't stay. 

" After that I went home. And, as I told you, 
I went for a trip to Holland and amused myself 
looking up the history of the old Dutch navi- 
gators, Schouten in particular. That was the 
time when I ran across the history of Helga 
Maria Van Oosterdyck, and saw her portrait. 
Now let me show you something." 

Out of a small oilskin case he produced the 
photograph of the Dutch lady which I had already 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 187 

seen, also a neat Indian-ink copy of a " rubbing " 
taken from an inscription. 

" Do you see anything ? " he asked. 

At first I did not ; then . . . 

" By Jove ! " I exclaimed. 

" See it ? " 

" Yes, rather — they're identical.'' 

" What ? " 

" Why, the carving and that monogram of 
pearls at the end of Helga Maria's necklace." 

Gore looked at me and smoked. Presently 
he reached out a long arm for the carving, opened 
out a chart of New Britain, and set the paper on 
it. 

" I took the bearings of the arrow," he said. 
" See where it points." 

It pointed to a blank on the map, so far as I 
could see. 

** That's not as blank as it looks," said Gore. 
** This region is worse charted than any other 
place in the world. There's an islet right in 
the line of the arrow. The islet where the 
cocoanuts and oysters were got." 

" Lord ! " I said, getting to my feet, " why, it's 
as clear as daylight." I felt more excited than 
I would have believed, ten minutes ago, I could 
ever feel over anything that was not connected 
with I sola. 



188 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" Of course," went on Red Bob, " the best 
way to make for Aroko Island, where the inscrip- 
tion is, would have been by Rabaul, getting a 
schooner there, and sailing round the head of 
New Britain, and a bit back. But . . . they 
aren't by way of wanting strangers in Rabaul 
at any time, and just now they want them less 
than usual. Every schooner, every cutter, every 
launch — everything with a keel on it — was en- 
gaged otherwise. Or it had to go on the slip 
for repairs. Or the owner was away, and no 
one could hire it in his absence, and nobody 
knew when he would return. Result — nothing 
doing." 

" What's the meaning of it all ? " I asked. 

" That's a big question, young Paul. Bigger 
than I can answer — at present. Rr haul's the 
capital, and a naval station. . . . Well, I was 
given to understand that I might be tolerated 
over at Friedrich Wilhelmshaven — what a dashed 
sort of name to give a town — on the mainland 
of New Guinea ; that is, old Richter came to 
me, and explained that it was twice as good for 
ethnological study of any kind, and he'd be 
delighted to help me, in the interests of science, 
to settle there for my stay. And the Governor 
said so, too. Therefore, knowing when I was 
beaten, I cleared. It's not as good a way to get 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 189 



to Schouten's little preserve, but it will have to 
do." 

" And about Miss Ravenna ? " I asked. 

" About Frau Richter ? Nothing about her 
till we find her, and then — time enough when 
we do. Don't cross bridges before we come to 
them. You'd better turn in, if you're going to 
be fit to travel to-morrow." 

" I have come to it," I said, getting to my feet, 
though I was shaking a little with the effects of 
the fever, and with something else too. " Do 
you think I'm going to leave Rabaul just on a 
chance — with her — Gore. Those black brutes 
would have her if she went just a few miles back 
— in her terror. ... If I can't do something, 
I— I " 

To the present hour I cannot say whether I 
meant it or not. I was " seeing red," I had lost 
self-control through the fever . . . but still, 
it was an irrational and a useless thing to catch 
up a chair, and throw it through the glass door 
of the adjoining bedroom. I can only hope I 
may have supposed that the door was open. 

At any rate, the sound of the smashing glass, 
and the fall of the chair on the floor, seemed to 
do me good, and I felt calmer. 

Gore did not turn a hair. He remained where 
he was, with his legs stretched out, smoking. 



190 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" As you were observing . . . ? " he remarked. 

" I said — I said that I must do something. I 
can't leave it to chance." 

"You needn't," said Red Bob. "She's all 
right. Has that automatic of yours been cleaned 
since you took ill ? " 

" Yes. I made Bo do it. What makes you 
think she is ? " 

"I never think," said Red Bob. "Go to 
bed." And not another word could I get out 
of him. 

But I knew him well enough, and trusted him 
enough, to get on board the AJzelia next morning 
with a comparatively quiet mind. And the 
blue, blue heights of New Britain, above the long 
levels of the glassy sea, faded away behind us. 
How soon they were to be seen again and under 
what strange circumstances I did not guess, nor 
indeed would I have believed, had anybody told 
me. 



CHAPTER IX 

AT Friedrich Wilhelmshaven, with its red- 
and-white \aLlas a-tiptoe on concrete 
piles, its miles of noble cocoanuts spreading away 
in star-shaped avenues far behind the town, its 
exquisite harbour, where blue lanes of water 
wound in and out among green palmy points, and 
gay country cottages stood up alone on islands 
like a poet's dream — things looked brighter than 
at Rabaul. The paralysis that had mysteriously 
affected the shipping of German New Guinea 
mysteriously disappeared when we passed from 
under the lee of Gazelle Peninsula. They would 
hire boats at Friedrich Wilhelmshaven, for a 
consideration. They would help one to recruit 
a crew, for a consideration. In Friedrich Wil- 
helmshaven (place cursed of ships' pursers and 
others who had frequently to write its name) 
they did not, like Rabaul, and the " rude Carin- 
thian boor " : 

" Against the houseless stranger shut the door." 

On the contrary, they invited you to stay in a 
neat little bungalow hotel, and were glad to get 

191 



192 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

your money. They were ready to do business 
with you ; to ask you into their houses (with 
discretion, and provided the Government 
officials at Rabaul did not object) ; to show you 
round, and let you admire the road, and the 
wharf, and the plantations, fruit of their country's 
occupation since 1885. No grey warships ran in 
and out of Friedrich Wilhelmshaven, on mysteri- 
ous errands, as they ran in and out of Herberts- 
hohe and Rabaul. No air of secrecy, of something 
to be hidden — something from which inquiring 
strangers must be loudly " shoo'ed " away — 
hung about the mainland town. ... I suppose 
my mind was too full of Isola to take any special 
notice of these things at the time, but afterwards, 
in the days of Armageddon, they came back to 
me. As for Red Bob, I fancy — now — that what 
he did not know or guess about the matter was 
not worth knowing. The peaceful folk away 
south of us, in the British division of New Guinea, 
might have slept less soundly in their beds had 
they shared his knowledge. 

All these things, however, have nothing to 
do with my story, except as they affected our stay 
in German Guinea. We found, as I have said, 
that Friedrich Wilhelmshaven was somewhat 
more hospitable than Rabaul, and we were able 
to make immediate arrangements for our voyage 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 193 

to the islands lying north of New Britain. Ethno- 
logical research was supposed to be the object 
of our trip. In reality, and at long last, it was 
to be the wildest, most dangerous and delightful 
pirate picnic that ever gladdened the heart of 
an adventurous youth. 

This seemed to me the kind of thing I had come 
out to see. I had honestly done my work for 
Gore through all our journeying ; nevertheless, 
the secretary business had been against the grain. 
I did not really care a stone celt about the history 
of races ; shapes of skulls, and deductions to be 
made therefrom, never kept me from a moment's 
sleep ; nor did I find any joy in the fact that a 
couple of root words used in Madagascar cropped 
up again in Geelvink Bay. I saw what these 
things indicated, but I did not care. It seemed 
to me that all that sort of thing had happened too 
long ago to possess any vital interest, in a world 
that was full of new, untried adventures and 
delights. 

In my secret heart, I thought it an amazing 
thing that a jolly, splendid fellow like Red Bob 
should care for such musty stuff, while there was 
a gun left in the world to shoot with, or an island 
to explore. ... I am older now. I understand 
that the study of ethnology was simply Red Bob's 
spiritual tobacco. Every man it seems, must 

13 



194 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

have spiritual tobacco of some kind, when he is 
past the age that needs no narcotic. Things 
happen to people as life goes on — horrible things 
mostly — and though the things pass over, the 
memory does not. That is where the tobacco 
comes in — the interest or pursuit that keeps a 
man from thinking. With some people it's prize 
pigs. With lots and lots it is gardens. A great 
many seem to find mysterious solace and soothing 
in committee-meetings — which seems to me as if 
one should eat dry biscuits to allay thirst, like 
Lewis Carroll's " Alice." Red Bob turned his 
love of adventure and travel to scientific uses ; 
to other uses too, I fancy ; but that I shall never 
know now. At all events, comparative ethnology 
was his narcotic. I suppose there are worse 
ones. 

Only one thing troubled me in those delightful 
hours of preparing for our adventure — the fact 
that I had heard nothing more of Isola. If she 
had stowed away on the AJz.elia, she kept herself 
invisible and no one suspected it. If she was still 
in Rabaul, she was in good hiding. German 
New Guinea was of opinion, on the whole, that 
she had either drowned herself, or run away into 
the bush — ^which would come to the same in the 
end. A launch had come through from Rabaul 
on the day of our arrival, bringing no news of the 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 195 

bride, but reporting the bridegroom as half 
distracted, and searching every gully and old 
volcano cup about the capital, with teams of 
plantation boys spurred on by the promise of 
big rewards. ... If I had not trusted Red Bob 
as I trusted no one else on earth, I should have 
gone out of my mind with anxiety. But that 
trust, backed up as it was by the " radiograms " 
that inevitably pass between two people living in 
intimate association, assured me of what I wanted 
to know. I was as certain that Red Bob could 
put his finger on the missing bride when he liked 
as I was sure of the sun rising in the morning. 



Next day we sailed out of Friedrich Wilhelms- 
haven harbour, and I could have sung for delight. 

" It's beginning at last," I kept saying to 
myself, as our little schooner flew through the 
water under a heavy breeze, heading out from 
under the Ottilien and Bismarck Ranges, towards 
Long and Lotten and Umboi, and all the smaller 
unnamed islands that tangle themselves about the 
end of New Britain. 

What " it " might be, I did not specify. I 
did not need to. I don't know that Robinson 
Crusoe could have told you — or Sir John Mande- 
ville — or Ulysses — or any sailor lad who ever loved 

13* 



196 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

the taste of blown spindrift on his mouth, and 
the leap of a deck beneath his foot — yet they all 
knew it, and wanted it, even as I. 

Everything on board the schooner was " it." 
The Winchester rifles slung on the bulkheads 
of the tiny cabin ; the outfit of long bush knife, 
cartridge-belt, and .48 Colt revolver, in a leather 
holster, worn by Gore and myself ; the crew, 
naked New Britainers with fierce bison eyes 
glowing under bison-like shocks of hair ; the 
wild, wonderful ranges of New Guinea that 
opened out behind us as we sailed ; the scarcely- 
charted ocean, and coast-lines but tentatively 
marked, of the regions to which we had set our 
dancing bow. Even the narrowness and in- 
convenience of the little Cecilie, after all those 
months of luxurious travel on great steamers, 
where not the most imaginative youth in the 
world could have felt adventurous or brave. For 
adventure does not consort with seven-course 
dinners and electric-lighted state-rooms ; nor 
does the proximity of the most dangerous coasts 
and worst cannibal savages in the world suggest 
any kind of daring, when comfortably viewed at 
a distance of some miles, from the deck of a 
regular liner. 

But now. Red Bob was captain, and I was mate, 
of a little cockle-shell manned by black savages 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 197 

who had eaten human flesh, and were doubtless 
ready to do so again if the chance presented 
itself. We were tossing about on an ocean of 
which no good charts were to be had. We were 
going to unknown islands, which we had to find 
for ourselves. Our food was tinned and bagged 
stuff from Friedrich Wilhelmshaven, to be cooked 
in a galley like a sentry-box by Bo, whose attain- 
ments did not soar much above the point he had 
mentioned that day at breakfast — namely, that 
he " no savvy this blooming hegg ! he savvy 
plenty cook 'em tin meat, cookem one-fellow 
man ! " 

Yes, undoubtedly " it " had begun. 

Our native crew, though the roughest of 
savages, had had some teaching from white men 
and could handle a boat well enough. We let 
them run the Cecilie that morning, Red Bob and 
I steering by turns. While one held the wheel 
the other stood alongside, and, safe from all 
possible overhearing, we revelled — at least, I 
can answer for myself — in being able to speak 
loudly and freely of our plans. It was true that 
most of the crew knew pigeon-English, but the 
following of a connected conversation in ordinary 
language is not within the New Britain native's 
powers. 

" First," said Red Bob, standing with bare 



198 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

feet apart on the deck, and leaning to the Cecilie^s 
heavy Hst, as he turned the wheel in his hands, 
" we go to the island where the inscription is. 
I've got the bearings of the arrow, but I must see 
it again, to avoid any possibility of mistake. 
That's down fairly near the north coast of New 
Britain. Best way would have been round 
Gazelle Peninsula, if we hadn't been blocked — 
however, this is quite feasible. After that, we 
make for Schouten's pearl island as quick as we 
can go. Then — we shall see." 

" How are you going to get the pearls ? " I 
asked. The huge coastline of New Guinea 
was fading behind us into the pale, thin blue 
of distance ; ahead, bright islands, purple as 
vdstaria flowers, were pricking up out of the sea. 
A December squall of fierce, hot rain had just 
swept over us ; the decks were wet and shining, 
and over to windward the sea was silver with 
new sun. 

Red Bob laughed. 

" You may well ask," he said " You don't 
suppose one could bring diving gear through 
the customs at Friedrich Wilhelmshaven or 
Rabaul without questions being asked that would 
be pretty hard to answer." 

" No," I said, " and, by the way, suppose 
we get it all right, aren't we pearl-poaching ? " 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 199 

" Oh, yes," said Gore, laughing till his eyes 
were nothing but two blue slits in a mass of 
wrinkles. " You may certainly call it that. 
Pearl-poaching and smuggling are about the 
two forms of dishonesty that you may commit 
without being dishonest. It's up to you not to 
get caught, that's all. Koppi, you black villain, 
if you make that sheet fast I'll throw you over- 
board. . . . Well, about the diving gear ; it's 
down in the hold, labelled, * Trade goods.' A 
friend of mine managed that for me at Friedrich 
Wilhelmshaven. Same friend who got me the 
boys." 

" Are they safe ? " I asked. 

" Reasonably so," said Gore. " I've done what 
I can. Couldn't get quite all of them from 
separate districts, but three out of the five are 
strangers to each other. All the same, sleep with 
your belt on, and overhaul your pistol now and 
then. This chmate's the deuce on gunnery. I 
don't know that I admire that automatic of 
yours. They're a little too fine for these 
equatorial countries. Have known 'em jam." 

" Not mine," I said. " It's looked after, and 
I can shoot to a hair with it. I can't do with 
that beastly kicking old navy pattern." 

" It has its points," said Gore. We talked 
no more for a while. 



200 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

The Cecilie, Hke Gore's revolver, had her 
points, but she was not the nicest of sailers on 
a foUov^ring wind. I grew restless as the day 
went on over the slowness of our progress. 
It seemed to me, with such a breeze, we should 
have been out of sight of New Guinea before 
dark. But the afternoon wore on ; the purple 
islands turned to palm-fringed green, and then 
faded to blue behind us ; the wide, open sea 
grew wider, and glowed like a golden shield 
with the unbearable glory of the westering sun — 
and still the coasts of Kaiser Wilhelms Land, high 
and far and blue, stood up in the sky behind. 

" I think the dashed place is tied to us," let 
out Red Bob, looking over his shoulder yet again, 
as we made another tack. 

" Pity we haven't an engine," I said, leaning 
on the rail to keep my footing, as we lay over. 
" Of course, the objection about an engineer 
coming along — Talking of things coming 
along, there's a launch behind." 

" Take the wheel," was Gore's reply. He 
dived below, brought up a glass, and fixed the 
oncoming boat with his eye. 

" Not a Government launch," was his verdict. 
" Whatever she is, she's signalling. We may 
as well heave to." 

With slatting sails and heaving deck, we 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 201 

waited. I will confess that I did not feel alto- 
gether comfortable in view of the errand we 
were on. The pearls of Willem Corneliszoon 
Schouten seemed likely to weigh as heavy upon 
our enterprise as a belt of gold upon a swdmming 
sailor. What if — supposing 

The launch, which seemed to be a swift one, 
overhauled us rapidly, jumping through the seas 
with tremendous smother and foam. We could 
not see who was on board, beyond her steersman. 

She ran under our lee and stopped her engine. 
Out of the little engine-room came a lean, yellow- 
ish man in a worn khaki suit — a man I had seen 
in Friedrich Wilhelmshaven at work in a boat- 
shed. 

" I've got your Malay fellow on board," he 
shouted in German. " He was very anxious not 
to miss you, but there's not another launch in 
the country would have caught you, after such 
a start. Hallo, you Hendrik, come on out ! " 

Of course I knew that we had no Malay in 
our service, and didn't intend having any. Of 
course Gore knew it too. But we had both 
been accustomed to walk warily of late, and 
neither of us contradicted the launch-driver. 

" My Malay, have you ? " said Gore. " Well, 
bring him out." 

" You don't seem glad to see him, after all 



202 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



the trouble he took to get here in time," ob- 
served the engineer. " He paid me not so much 
either." All this time the launch was plunging 
and dipping fearfully alongside the Cecilie, and 
the Cecilie, wallowing in the trough of the sea, 
threatened every now and then to slew round 
and cut the other down with her shining copper 
keel. The wind was getting up, too. I noticed 
that the engineer could scarcely keep his footing 
on the deck of the launch. 

" He had no business to be late," was Gore's 
reply. " Corbet, have you any silver ? I sup- 
pose Hendrik has run through all his cash." 

" I suppose the beggar has," was my diplo- 
matic reply, the while I wondered who in the 
wide world Hendrik could possibly be. " Yes, 
IVe a few marks." 

" Thirty marks more, that's my fair due ; I 
wouldn't have set the engine going, only he 
promised his master would pay," declared the 
man. 

I threw him the money and he stepped from 
in front of the cabin door. 

" Now, come out, thou ! " he shouted. " He 
has paid, but if he had not, I would have taken 
thee back ; thou art a rascal who has got into 
trouble, so I believe." 

Out of the little cabin of the launch stepped — 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 203 

not indeed a Malay, but a Malay half-caste ; 
a handsome, slender, nervous-looking lad, with 
sleek black hair, and an olive brown skin. He 
had a wide felt hat on, that shaded his face. I 
rather thought, in spite of the hat, that I had met 
him somewhere before — probably among the 
islands of Dutch Malaysia, where half-castes 
are as common as flies in summer. 

The Jacob's ladder was swaying about dan- 
gerously, but he came up it lightly enough, and 
sprang down from the bulwark to the deck. 
His bundle — a wad of clothing tied up in a sack — 
was slung after him by the launch-driver. 

" Good evening, gentlemen," called the latter, 
evidently mollified by the thirty marks. " A 
pleasant voyage ! " 

" Good evening," I replied, feeling as if, for 
the first time in my Hfe, the motion of a vessel 
were making me sick, or at least giddy. What 
did it all mean ? 

The half-caste had disappeared, and Gore did 
not seem minded to explain his presence. 

" Get her under way at once," he ordered. 
" The sooner we're clear of all these reefs the 
better, at this hour of the evening." 

Indeed, the water about the Cecilie was marbled 
in many places with the beautiful patches of 
malachite green that all South Sea men dread. 



204 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

We got her on her course again, not without 
much howHng and stamping about on the part 
of the crew, and a httle hard language on ours. 
When the pretty Httle ship was flying once more 
close up into the wind, with New Guinea fading 
away on her starboard quarter. Red Bob drew 
me to him with the lift of a finger. 

" This is a nice business, upon my soul," he 
said, with a graver countenance than I had ever 
seen him adopt before. 

" Who is he ? " I asked. 

" Don't you know ? " 

" I've seen him before, I think, but — no, I 
don't " 

" You monumental young ass, it's Frau 
Richter ! " 

" Lord Almighty ! " I said. There seemed to 
be nothing else to say. Isola — ^here — in that dis- 
guise. The skies seemed crumbling above me. 

" Why, I thought," somehow I found breath 
to say, " I thought you knew where she was ! " 

" I did," said Gore. " I didn't want to tell 
you till we were well away, because I was dead 
certain you couldn't be kept from going to see 
her, and giving her away to the amiable people 
who knew what was good for her better than 
she did herself — or thought they did. She came 
up to Friedrich Wilhelmshaven on the Ajzelia 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 205 



with us. The stewardess knew her well — used 
to call at Banda — and she hid her in her own 
cabin. She meant to get back to Banda, and ask 
some of her mother's old friends to take her 
in. Seems she couldn't stand Richter at any 
price, not so much because she thought him 
unpleasant — he's a man who has some good 
points, if you know him — but because of a young 
idiot who had turned her head. You. Told 
me — she did — that she never meant to have 
anything to do with Richter, or with any man ; 
means to go into a convent, and spend the rest 
of her life expiating her sin " 

" Her what ? " 

" Sin. Sin of having taken a fancy to a young 
ass like you, when she'd vowed to love and obey 
someone else, who did not prove lovable or 
obeyable. There, we've talked enough, with the 
girl down in the cabin wondering what's going 
to become of her. Go on and see what's hap- 
pened, while I take the wheel. There are too 
many horse-heads about these waters to leave 
it to the boys." 

I did not wait to be told twice. Three steps 
took me down into the cabin, a small, blue- 
painted place with a narrow table and two 
lockers, a swinging tray and swinging lamp, and 
a strongly pervading smell of cockroach. 



206 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



Isola sat at the table. She was in a loose 
cotton gown ; her sack of clothing lay open on 
the locker top, and the khaki coat and trousers 
in which she had come aboard were invisible, 
whatever she had done with them. I suspected 
that she had simply flung her dress over them, 
the moment she found herself alone. 

Her hair — her lovely hair ! — was cut short 
round her neck. Her face and hands seemed 
to have been stained with some brown dye. 
It had been very well done ; I never should have 
suspected the ruse, had I not seen her in her 
natural ivory fairness. Deprived of the fairness, 
with her fine, falcon-like cast of feature and her 
black Italian hair and eyes, she made the most 
convincing half-caste one could imagine. Her 
slight, active figure, helped by the loose coat 
she wore, had been (I remembered) perfectly 
boyish in appearance when we saw her in the 
launch ; and the slender hands and feet were 
not too conspicuous in a youth supposed to be 
of Malayan blood. On the whole the disguise 
was excellent. Sitting there at the cabin table, 
in her loose dress, v^th her big eyes shining out 
from under the short, heavy hair, she simply 
looked a half-caste island girl, of unusual 
beauty and refinement — to anyone untrained 
in the true signs of race. 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 207 

In the unsteady, ill-smelling little cabin, with 
the wide seas of New Guinea swinging beneath 
our keel, I stood at the other side of the table 
and looked at her — the girl I loved who was not 
for me ; yet who — thank God ! — was not for 
anyone else either, so it seemed. I could think 
of nothing else but that for a moment. Then 
suddenly it occurred to me — selfish brute ! — 
that she must be wearied, perhaps hungry and 
thirsty, that she was certainly in some grave 
trouble, and that I had not yet done anything 
but stare like the idiot Red Bob had just called 
me. 

" Isola ! " I said, taking her hands in mine — 
they were chilly for all the warmth of the even- 
ing — " you must be tired and famished — and 

What has happened ? Gore told me — Bo ! get 
some tea, along galley plenty-plenty quick. 
What's the matter ? Why didn't you get away 
on the AJzelia ? Do you know where we are 
going ? It's a terrible place, not fit for " 

" You said," she answered, looking at me with 
a light of perfect confidence in her beautiful 
eyes, " you said, * If you want me, I'll come to 
you, alive or dead.' And I did want you terribly. 
But I heard that you were dying — and I was 
afraid to let you know, because you would have 
tried to come " 



208 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

"What awful rot!" I exclaimed. "I had 
only a touch of fever." 

" They said you were very ill," she replied. 
'* So I had to do what I could. . . . When I 
found out that Herr Richter was not Schultz's 
friend, but Schultz himself — if you had ever seen 
a man in that awful cholera collapse, you would 
understand how easily " 

" I have," I interrupted — for Gore had 
chanced on an adventure or two in Singapore 
that I have said nothing about. " I have, and I 
can understand his own mother wouldn't know 
him, if she only saw him then." 

" It came — it came — as a dreadful shock," 
she said. " For you see, I did not like him, and 
I knew, or guessed, at any rate, he had been a 
cruel enemy to you. He can be cruel ! People 
who knew him on his plantation have told me 
things. . . . And I realized that I simply 
couldn't, after all. But I had no money, or 
hardly any, and no one in Rabaul was on my side ; 
he is very popular there ; they say ' he has such 
fine qualities.' Perhaps he has ; it was a fine 
thing enough to do as he did, when he thought 
he was dying, just in order to repay my parents 
— oh, my poor dear mammie and dad ! . . . 
But it wasn't a fine thing to hold nie to it whether 
I hked it or not — when I said I had changed 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 209 

my mind — told him I did not care — said I would 
rather wash clothes or scrub floors for a living. 
He just laughed and said that no one in that 
country would give me clothes to wash, and 
nobody would give me money to get away ; 
and that girls were always silly about marrying 
older men, but the older men made the best 
husbands, and for my own sake — Oh, I'm too 
tired to tell it all." 

Her little dark head was drooping back against 
the bulkhead ; she looked worn out. 

" You shan't speak another word," I said. 
" You shall have some tea " (the war-whoop 
of Bo announced that it was on its way from the 
galley), " and you shall go right off to sleep 
in that little cabin — it's lucky we have one — 
and to-morrow, when you are quite rested, you 
can tell me anything you like." 

Red Bob was still steering when I came up, his 
eyes set on a distant island. 

" Well ? " he said, shifting a spoke in his lean, 
brown hands. 

I told him all that Isola had said. 

" H'm I " was his comment. " More behind, 
of course. Richter must have found out and 
come after her. You remember they said there 
was a launch just in from Rabaul. . . . Clever 
little hussy that she is ; never saw a better 

14 



210 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

disguise in my life, and I've seen some. Yes . . . 
some." 

He stood with the spokes in his hands, looking 
a long way out across the sea — further, I thought, 
than eye could carry him ; back into strange 
happenings and places of which I had never 
known anything. 

" Well," he said presently, " it's an awkward 
position." 

" Not a bit," I contradicted. " There's that 
small cabin — ^we can shift our things out of it 
in two minutes, and sleep on the lockers." 

" That wasn't what I meant. You can surely 
understand that the trip we've started on isn't 
likely to be a picnic for ladies." 

" If you send her back," I said, " you send me 
too. I — I won't desert her — if I were to be 
hanged for it." 

" No one wants you to desert her, young 
fire-eater," answered Gore. " The only question 
is, whether we shouldn't give up our own trip 
and run her down to Brisbane, or back to Banda, 
or something of that kind. There are objections 
to that, however. . . . 

" Let her have her night's rest, and then we'll 
hold a council of war." 

So it was settled. I found Isola asleep on the 
locker cushions when I went back to the cabin ; 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 211 

she was evidently worn out with trouble and 
fatigue. I took care not to wake her in shifting 
my things and Gore's out of the small inner 
cabin. When it was ready — a poor little place 
it was, with a narrow bunk, and a washstand, and 
just space besides, to stand on the floor — I placed 
her bundle on the rack, went back into the cabin, 
and lifted her up very gently indeed from the 
locker. She was so tired that she never waked 
as I carried her into the cabin and placed her on 
the bed. There I left her sleeping the naive, 
innocent sleep of a child. After all, she was but 
nineteen, and young for that — too young, by 
far, for all the trouble that had fallen on her 
dehcate head. 

Isola, even as a runaway in desperate straits, 
was Isola of the island still. There are many 
sweet white tropic flowers at Friedrich Wil- 
helmshaven ; some of them must have been 
concealed about her dress, for the perfume of 
fresh petals met my senses as I laid her on her 
bed. And the loose white robe that she had flung 
over her boyish disguise was fastened with a 
ribbon of forest green. 

Next morning she was up and about as early as 
we were, and when Bo brought in the breakfast, 
with his usual shout, she was ready to pour out 
the tea, and help the tinned meat, hot and 

14* 



212 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



glutinous on its iron plate. She looked very 
bright and fresh, and as happy as a child on a 
picnic. We were clear of reefs for the present, 
so one of the boys took the wheel while Gore 
and I came down to breakfast. Nothing was 
talked of but the weather and the ship while 
we were eating, but when the table had been 
cleared, Red Bob, with the courtly manner that 
he used towards all women, handed Isola to 
the most comfortable seat, and asked her per- 
mission to smoke. 

" We'll have some talking to do," he said, 
" and I can talk better with a cigar. But if you 
mind " 

" Oh no, I smoke a little myself sometimes," 
she said. " Father never used to mind ladies 
smoking ; it's so common in his country." 

I oifered her a cigarette ; she took it, and 
smoked away in the daintiest manner possible, 
curled up on the locker seat, while Gore and I 
lighted our cigars. 

" Well," said Red Bob, puffing away with deep 
satisfaction, " we want to know just what's 
happened. When I last heard of you, the 
stewardess had you pretty close. What let the 
cat out of the bag ? " 

" Just an accident," said Isola regretfully. 
'^ But for that, I'd have been into Dutch terri- 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 213 

tory by this time. The AJzelia lay at the wharf 
all day and the heat in that small cabin was 
fearful. I couldn't stand it when the night came, 
so I got into some clothes belonging to a Malay 
steward, and darkened my face and hands, and 
went for a walk ashore." 

" Where did you go ? " asked Gore, narrowing 
his eyes as he looked at her. 

Isola, for no reason that I could see, turned 
slowly pink. 

" Not very far," she said. 

" As far as the hotel ? " 

" Not much farther." 

" Oh," said Red Bob, watching the pinkness 
spread. " Well, go on." 

" When I was coming back," she said, " I 
saw him." 

" Richter ? " 

" Yes. I saw him walking about, in the 
shadow, up and down, looking at the boat and the 
wharf. I was so frightened that I didn't dare to 
go near her. You see, they were taking on cargo, 
and there were big lamps, acetylene or something 
very bright, and no one could come or go without 
being seen. He must have found out or guessed 
somehow, and followed in that big launch that 
came in two days after us ; and he was looking 
for me. And the look of his face terrified me so 



214 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

that I ran away in among the palms, and stayed 
there all night. But in the morning, when I 
came back, the ship was gone. So there I was, 
left, and I had hardly any money, and I didn't 
dare let myself be seen — but I meant to wait, 
and come to you for help. Then I heard people 
talking, and oh ! — they said you had sailed that 
afternoon. And then a file of native police 
came down the road. Something — I don't know 
what — made me hide from them in a clump of 
bushes. They passed quite near, and I heard 
them saying to each other in pigeon-English that 
they would soon find the ' one-fellow Mary 
belong Master,' and they would * catchem fast 
for Master.' When I heard that, I felt sick. 
I waited till they were gone, and then took all 
the money I had left, and ran to the place where 
I knew that launch was, and bargained with the 
man. I had only twenty marks left, and he 
wanted fifty, so I told him my master would 
pay him the rest. And — and that's all." 

" About enough," said Red Bob, taking his 
cigar out of his mouth, and looking at it as if it 
were somehow at fault. " You did the right 
thing. We'll stand by you, never fear." 

" If you will let me be your cook," said Isola 
timidly. " I can cook quite well-^and wash and 
mend your clothes. ... I only want to keep out 



Red Bob of the Bismareks 215 

of his way till I find some way of living. It's 
having none that makes me so helpless." 

" Cook ! " I said indignantly. " Cook and 
wash ! I should like to see you doing it — or my 
letting you ! " 

" Keep your hair on, young Corbet," said 
Gore. " If Frau Richter, as I suppose we must 
call her, wants to cook, and mend and so on, 
by all means let her. People are happier 
employed." 

" Thank you," said Isola, with a glance that 
made me angry v^th Gore for having earned it. 
Of course he was in the right. I saw that as soon 
as I took time to think. She would be a hundred 
times more contented, if she were allowed to do 
something — or fancy she was doing something — 
for us. 

" Well," said Gore, fixing his passionless, blue 
cat-eyes on Isola and on me. " It seems that the 
best thing we can do is to go on — for the present, 
at any rate. No one is looking for a Malay lad ; 
they're looking for a white girl. By and by 
they'll give her up, and then we can come back 
with you, and get you aboard the Banda boat." 

" Thank you, more than I can say," said the 
girl, in a low voice. " Both of you . . . you 
are very good. I — I am going into a convent 
when I get to any place where I can. Pm not 



216 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



a Catholic — mother was Church of England — 
but there are Protestant convents too." 

" I hope you'll never do anything so horrible ! " 
I cried indignantly ; but I do not think she heard 
me, for she had left the cabin. 

" There are worse things," said Gore, inspecting 
the ash on the end of his cigar as closely as if he 
were estimating its ratio to the volume of smoke. 

" I can't imagine anything worse than mewing 
yourself up for life like that." 

" Have you ever," said Gore, " heard of that 
part of the Pacific where they all have the 
D.S.O. ? " 

" Distinguished Service Order ? No." 

" That sort of D.S.O. isn't the Distinguished 
Service Order. It's the Done-Something-or- 
Other. There are groups of islands where every 
white man has it. I've seen 'em. Places where 
all the whites are sort of runaways. Men — and 
women. They don't — on the whole — seem to 
find it an enjoyable life." 

I wanted to speak, but my lips found no words. 
With his uncanny power of divination, he had 
seen the vision of the coral island in the far South 
Seas that had flashed across my brain — the 
beautiful girl, tied only by a fiction of the law 
to another man, who was to be the angel of the 
dream. . . . 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 217 

Well, since we had been running all the previous 
day through islands that were like a foretaste 
of Paradise on earth — islands steeped to the 
shores in romance and loneliness — the guess 
was not such a very difficult one. 

" Another thing," went on the cold voice 
beside me. " If you are going to carry off any 
one's wdfe — even your own — to the ends of the 
earth, you can't do it for nothing. Elopements 
are not a cheap form of amusement. They 
cost about one-and-a-half times as much as 
getting married, if you do it economically. If 
you do the thing in any sort of style, it's more 
than three times as expensive. And the income, 
afterwards, doesn't go near as far as a married 
man's income. You need much more to live 
at the same rate. Somehow the lady you elope 
with never is what they used to call a ' notable ' 
woman about a house." 

" I never heard such beastly cold-blooded " 

I began. 

Gore looked at me with half a smile. 

" Facts are cold-blooded things," he said. 
" What about taking your trick at the 
wheel ? " 

I took it, and while I was steering the little 
schooner — an easy job enough this morning — 
my thoughts had leisure to roam beyond the 



218 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

deck and the wheel-spokes. Where were we 
sailing ? What was to be the end ? I thought 
and thought, till I let the Cecilie come up so far 
into the wind that I nearly put her into irons — 
but I saw no clear path ahead. 



CHAPTER X 

" npHINGS wiU diy straight if you only 
1 let 'em alone." That was one of 
Gore's pet proverbs, and it kept repeating itself 
to me, over and over again, in the next few days. 
Things did seem to be drying straight. Isola 
had slipped into her own place on board the ship 
with wonderful quickness and adaptability ; that 
element of gay boyishness, which I had somehow 
divined to exist in her character, came out in the 
sunshine of safety and friendship, and she 
became the very life of the ship. I was angry 
at first that Gore allowed her to work so much 
as she did — cooking little messes in the galley, 
sewing and mending, even washing clothes. I 
would have treated her, had I had my way, like 
the lady in the nursery-rhyme, who was invited 
by her lover to : 

Sit on a cushion, and sew a fine team, 

And feed upon itrawbcrrics, sugar and cream. 

But Gore, wiser in knowledge of the world, 
let her use her hands as much as she liked, thus 

219 



220 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

keeping her from over-use of her mind. You 
cannot brood on your misfortunes when you 
are beating up " puff taloons," that stand-by of 
the eggless kitchen, or putting patches on some- 
body's old trousers. And Isola loved to work for 
us. I think she had an idea that she was in some 
way repaying us for her rescue. As if her pre- 
sence had not been sufficient repayment for all 
the service that a man could give — for all a man's 
life, and everything that was his ! 

Red Bob allowed coolly that my lady of the 
nutmeg island was quite useful to us, after all. 
Our crew was small for the size of the ship, and 
so stupid that not one of them could be trusted 
to shorten a sail under the orders of another, or to 
steer unless Gore or myself was on deck. We 
had arranged to keep watch and watch through- 
out ; but the coming of Isola made it possible 
for us to get a good spell of unbroken sleep now 
and again, since she could steer as well as I could. 
Girls brought up on small islands learn these 
things early ; when I heard how much travel by 
cutter and schooner had to be done in the Banda 
group, I wondered less at Isola Bella's handiness 
on board ship. As for the cooking, I did not care 
what I ate, but Gore, who perhaps thought more 
about the dish than I did, as he thought less about 
the maker of it, declared that since Isola took 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 221 

command of the galley, the meals were really fit 
for human beings. 

So, over warm, blue, windy seas, through days 
of sun on the white, salt-sparkling decks, through 
afternoons of flying scud and squall, when we all 
ran barefoot about the ship, shouting to each 
other, and helping our useless boys to make or 
shorten sail, nights of diamond starshine, when 
the Cecilie went through the water softly as a 
swimming seal, and Isola and Red Bob and I 
lay shoeless and hatless on the planks, watching 
the sway of the topmast up in the velvet blue, 
and telling and hearing strange yarns of adventure 
from one another, we sailed to Schouten's island 
through the unknown seas. We met no ships 
upon the way ; this part of the Bismarck Archi- 
pelago is almost as lonely, and very near as badly 
marked and charted, as it was in the days when 
old Willem CorneHszoon Schouten, of Hoorn 
in Holland, bravely took his castle-bowed ship 
where no man else had been. The strange 
detachment from all things on the land that 
comes to those who go down to the sea in sailing 
ships came upon us three. Our voyage was near 
five hundred miles in a straight line, and the 
amount of beating we had to do made it infinitely 
longer, not to speak of the days when there was 
no wind at all, and the Cecilie lay slamming 



222 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

about in the trough of great glassy Pacific swells, 
spilling everything spillable, and casting loose 
everything that was not fast tied up. But we 
felt no impatience. The spirit of the sailing 
ship had touched us one and all ; the things of 
the land were not ; time was wiped out, and the 
hour in which we lived was all of life we knew. 

I am well aware that there may be people 
ready to blame Red Bob and myself for taking 
Isola on such a trip ; and certainly, as Gore 
himself had said, it was like to be no picnic for 
ladies. But those who live in safe, settled 
countries can scarcely realize the difference made 
in many points of view by travel in places where 
life is cheaply held, and adventure is so common 
that it almost ceases to be adventure at all. 
Certainly, apart from questions of propriety, 
neither Gore nor myself would have thought of 
inviting Isola to come with us, and share in the 
risks we knew we should have to run, in hunting 
for Schouten's island and his pearls. But when 
circumstances drove her, as they had, to take 
refuge with us, we accepted the circumstances. 
Undoubtedly, the best thing to do was to keep 
her out of sight for a while ; and there could be 
no surer way of doing it than by taking her with 
us to the unknown seas. Later on, when we had 
all had time to look round us and think what was 



5# 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 223 

best to be done, the matter of her future could be 
discussed. Now was not the time. 

As for scandal, Mrs. Grundy has small sway at 
the ends of the earth, where white women are 
so few that the woman who objected to un- 
chaperoned travel would very seldom be able to 
travel at all. No one was likely to " say things " 
about Isola's voyage in company with a middle- 
aged man like Gore, and myself, in a quarter of 
the world where solitary white women may at 
any time have to take passage on small, slow- 
sailing vessels run only by the owner and his 
native crew. I did not suppose that Richter 
would be pleased to hear — if he ever did hear — 
that his missing bride had run off in a ship with 
two men ; but I knew the Pacific world by this 
time far too well to suppose that he or anyone 
else would think ill of her on that account. 

There is no use telling how long our voyage 
lasted, or just where it took us, when it was done. 
It is enough to say that one warm, windy after- 
noon we sighted a row of palm-tree tops pricking 
up out of the sea like pins, and knew, from the 
distance and the bearings of the place, that we 
had come upon Schouten's island. 

The palms grew higher and higher out of the 
water as we sailed in, and soon we could see a 
dazzling line of sand below them, and a reef 



224 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

covered with foam, and within the reef a wide, 
pale-green lagoon. It was a staring, solitary 
place, that looked as if no one had ever been there 
since the beginning of time. You could see right 
across it from side to side, for the tall cocoa- 
palms were the only things that grew there, save 
for a little underbrush. Sand, and white palm- 
trunks, and thin, blue, dancing shadows, and sun 
and sun — this was Schouten's island. 

" Well chosen, wasn't it ? " said Gore, with 
the glass at his eye. '* Not the sort of place 
anyone would ever settle on, or land on either, 
if they could help it." 

" How did you happen to land yourself ? " I 
asked. Isola was beside us, listening with 
interest ; I remember how gay and boyish she 
looked with her short, curling hair and sailor 
blouse, worn over a brief skirt of some kind of 
coarse cotton stuff. She had shoes on to-day ; 
we had all put them on, regretfully, in antici- 
pation of having to land. 

" Something in Schouten's log. Had a fancy 
to stand where that fine old boy stood, three 
hundred years ago, and look out at the sea as 
he looked at it — wondering, I suppose, what 
might lie beyond the skyline where he had never 
been — or anyone else. Ah ! it was a fine thing 
to live in those days." 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 225 

"They didn't think of it as we do," I said. 
" Schouten was a lot more interested in cutting 
out the big Company's monopoly of the trade 
routes than in geographical problems. Those 
just came in." 

" I suppose," said Isola, " in another hundred 
years they'll be envying us for having any out- 
of-the-way, strange, unknown places to go to, 
and saying that we didn't appreciate what we 
had." 

" Bo ! Kaipa ! Lalik ! Lower away one- 
fellow boat 1 Hurry up, now, or by-'n-by I 
been break you blooming cocoanut," ordered Red 
Bob. " Ready to go ashore, Mrs. Ravenna ? " 

For by common consent we had fallen into this 
compromise of a title. I could not bear to hear 
her addressed by Richter's name, and Gore 
steadily set his face against allowing her to be 
called Miss. 

" Ay, ay. Captain," answered Isola, saluting 
merrily, " we're all ready for the fun." 

" You can't all go," said Gore. " No leaving 
the schooner alone with these beggars. They 
are behaving well enough, but it's ingrained in 
the nature of the New Britain native to cut off 
his employer whenever he can, if you take him 
sailoring. Not a month since a crew of them did 
it close up to Rabaul. . . . Mrs. Ravenna, I'll 

15 



226 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

take you first, and then you can wait at the rock, 
and show it to Corbet here, while I stay aboard. 
Corbet " — he spoke a Httle apart — " keep your 
eyes skinned. These beggars are always nasty 
near land." 

" Right," I said. I saw them pull off in the 
boat with a couple of the boys, and resigned my- 
self to wait for Gore's return. The crew, how- 
ever, seemed to me to be nothing worse than a 
little lazy and stupid, and that they always were. 
I did not think they would have made any attempt 
to run off, even if they had been left alone. 

The island was small, as I have said, and so 
flat that one could easily see all over it. I saw 
Isola and Gore walk together to a spot some 
few hundred yards away, stop, and bend over 
something, examining it. Then Gore returned 
alone. 

" All right," he hailed, as he came down to 
the beach. " You can go as soon as I'm on 
board." 

I thought all these precautions rather super- 
fluous, considering the way our rough black crew 
had behaved up to the present, but I explained 
things, to my own satisfaction at all events, by 
reflecting that Red Bob wasn't as young as he 
used to be, and that middle-aged men are apt 
to become — well, not nervous ; one could not 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 227 

apply such an adjective to Gore — but what one 
might call, if one chose to coin a word, somewhat 
" precautious." 

The dingy ferried me across the lagoon, and 
left me on the beach. I suppose, if Gore and I 
had come alone, I should have been thinking, 
as I set foot on that lonely shore, of the brave 
old explorer who had been there three hundred 
years before me — who, like the Ancient Mariner : 

Was the first who ever burst 
Into that silent sea. 

But as things had turned out, Willem Cornelis- 
zoon Schouten was occupying my mind scarce 
at all. Isola Bella — Isola Richter — Ravenna, or 
whatever her name might be — for I was resolved 
not to think of her by that of the man who had 
married her — left little room in my thoughts 
for anything else. 

She was standing by a sort of rockery of coral 
— a pile of white boulders that looked like huge 
Turkish sponges suddenly turned to stone. 
There were green vines twining about the 
boulders, with pink flowers on them, and of course 
she had got some of the flowers by this time, 
and was trying to place them in her hair. 

" It's so short," she said piteously. " I wish 
I hadn't had to cut it. It makes me look so 
hideous." 

I5' 



228 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" It's rather more becoming than the long 
hair was, if you want to know," I said con- 
soHngly. " Long hair can't curl like that, and 
your curls are lovely." 

" Are they ? " said Isola, pulling them out 
about her face. " I'm glad you think so." 

" Oh, Isola ! " I burst out, " we never can 
have a talk on that schooner ; let's have a minute 
to talk now. Isola — if you could get rid of that 
brute. . . ." 

I broke off for a minute. All had indeed been 
said between us — without words — but it was 
nevertheless hard to speak out in plain prose 
what both of us understood. 

Isola paused, with the pink convolvulus flowers 
falling from her dark curls, and her hand half 
raised to adjust them. ... I have only to close 
my eyes and I see the picture before me, clear 
as some exquisite painting limned on crystal — 
for no colours that were ever put on dingy 
canvas or paper could reproduce the hues of that 
coral island and its surroundings. Isola with 
her little boyish figure, cheeks kissed to red by 
the salt sea-winds, and black curls edged with 
gold — the coral sea, blue as blue fire, for back- 
ground to her small, dark head, and above it 
the swaying leaves of cocoa-palms, flashing back 
flame to the flaming sun from their varnished 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 229 

fronds of enamel-green. . . . One might have 
painted it on stained glass, with the sun shining 
through ; not on anything more dull and earthly. 

*' I can't," she said, in answer to my words. 
" I don't see any way. Yes, I understand, but 
it isn't any good. As for him, he'll live for ever, 
just because — because — Oh, I don't want to 
say wicked things ! " 

" He won't live for ever," was all the consola- 
tion I could find. 

" He must be fifty — people die when they get 
near sixty as often as not, so perhaps, perhaps 

after all " ; and somehow, when I looked at 

the sea and sky, their glory seemed to have 
faded ever so little. I thought the evening 
must be coming on. 

Isola was silent ; the wind blew up strong from 
the sea, and whistled in the swinging leaves of 
the palms. I ripped a strand from one of them — 
I was in the mood when one feels like tearing and 
destroying — and twisted it in my hands as I 
sought to find words. But I, too, was struck 
with silence. 

In that moment a hail came across the water 
from Red Bob, who, as I have told before, had 
a voice that would carry the better part of a 
mile. 

" Hurry up 1 " it said. " Getting late." 



230 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

We had both forgotten about Willem Cor- 
neliszoon Schouten and his stone ! 

" Oh ! " cried Isola, suddenly waking up, 
" how stupid and selfish I am ! Look, this is 
it ; it's really wonderful." 

She stooped down a little, and showed me the 
slanting under face of one of the boulders. 
Coral rock is easy to carve and shape. This had 
been tooled off smooth in a place where neither 
sun nor rain fell directly on it, and there, cut so 
deep into the white mass of " brainstone " that 
all three hundred years had not effaced it, was 
the curious, twisted monogram of Schouten, 
also a row of dots that — to my mind — might have 
been anything at all — and an arrow. 

I did wake to interest at that ; I should have 
been a stone myself if I had not. While I was 
examining the inscription and feeling it with my 
finger-tips, Isola fell a-dreaming over it, her 
eyes full of something sweet, yet very sad. 

" And she never married him," I heard her say 
to herself. " I wonder — did she marry anyone 
else ? Do you know if she did ? " 

" Gore never told me," I said. Nor had he ; 
nor do I know to this day whether the Helga 
Maria of Schouten's young dreams died a maiden 
or a wife. 

" Why can't people be allowed to be happy ? " 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 231 

said Isola, leaning on to the coral boulder and 
looking out to the hyacinth-coloured sea. (I 
had been right about the time ; the afternoon 
was indeed beginning to darken ever so little.) 

" If we're going to discuss the origin of evil, 
we'd better go back to the ship to do it at leisure," 
I said somewhat hardly ; for I was suffering too 
much not to be cruel. And as Gore had already 
hailed us a second time, we went. 

The sun had not yet sunk when we got clear 
of the lagoon. Red Bob set a new course, gave 
me the wheel, and went below for a while. When 
he came back he joined Isola, who was seated 
on the cover of the main hatch, and began to 
talk to her. I have spoken before of the delicate 
courtesy always shown to women by Vincent 
Gore — even to such gadfly creatures as Mabel 
Siddis — but I have said nothing as yet of the 
curious new side of his character revealed to me 
by this voyage in the company of Isola Ravenna. 
Unconsciously, I had been classing him as hard 
all through ; a man with nothing warm about 
him but his temper, and nothing soft about him 
at all. . . . Since the girl had joined our com- 
pany, however, I had seen a new Vincent Gore — 
the father. 

The story of the crippled daughter, told while 
we voyaged down the coast in the Jfzelia, had 



232 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

interested me as a dramatic tale, and as nothing 
more. I did not visuaHze it in any way. But 
now — now that I had daily and hourly oppor- 
tunity of seeing Red Bob in company with a 
young and friendless girl, I understood what 
girlhood and young womanhood meant to him, 
and that was something quite other than what 
they meant to me. I loved Isola ; I would have 
died for her instantly and gladly in any dis- 
agreeable way that might have presented itself. 
But I loved her for what she, as one beautiful 
girl out of the millions in the world, meant to 
me, Paul Corbet. Vincent Gore hked her and 
cared for her for the sake of all young girlhood ; 
and this because he was the father of a girl. I 
don't know how I understood all this, but I did 
understand it, and it helped me, moreover, to 
see his quest of Schouten's pearls in a newer and 
wider light — as a determined effort to lift one 
girl, unusually helpless, out of the path of the 
dragons of wretchedness, want and worse, that 
harry and tear all moneyless women. . . . Were 
not all Isola's troubles, from first to last, due to 
these same dragons of moneylessness ? Had 
not they chased her into a marriage that she 
feared ; driven her to a bridegroom for whom 
she had no love ; blocked her pathway when she 
had striven to escape from him ? Did they not 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 233 



stand across her hfe, even yet, barring her from 
all free choice and action ? What was she going 
to do — what were we going to do for her — when 
this voyage of flight should be over ? 

From where I stood at the wheel I could see 
her clearly, sitting on the hatch beside Red Bob 
and looking up at him with a bright confidence 
and quiet repose of manner that she seemed to 
keep for him alone. Did I envy it to him ? . . . 
Well, on second thoughts, I did not. That 
Isola was never quite at ease with me was perhaps 
no matter for regret. When one is two and 
twenty, one does not envy the special privileges 
of five-and-forty. They come too high. 

Red Bob, at that moment, was doing what she 
certainly would never have allowed me to do — 
buckling a neat red leather belt about her waist 
and adjusting something on the left-hand side. 
I remembered seeing a few of those same belts 
among our " trade goods," but I could not make 
out what the addition was, until Gore got up 
and walked away, with some light, half-jesting 
remark. Isola sat still, looking at her new adorn- 
ment. My eyes followed hers, and saw, with 
something of a shock, that it was a revolver 
holster, made like ours, and doubtless filled like 
ours. But I reminded myself that that was a 
precaution which should have been taken long 



234 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

ago^more as a formality than anything else ; 
most people in the Bismarcks wear revolvers, 
away from the settlements — and dismissed it 
from my mind. 

Dark came down before long, and we anchored 
for the night, as was the custom of Schouten and 
of Cook, and as was also ours. In these far, 
little-known, ill-charted seas, men travel even 
now as they did three hundred years ago, and 
take no risks in the darkness. 

Gore told me that we were very near the pearl 
island indicated by the arrow on Schouten's 
rock, and that we had better get the diving-gear 
in order. When he had been to the island 
before, he said, he had at the time been vaguely 
struck by its resemblance to some of the cele- 
brated pearl-bearing atolls of the Eastern Pacific. 
He knew that no one in German New Guinea 
or the Bismarcks was even aware of its exist- 
ence — small wonder, for it was in the loneliest 
and least travelled region of all these seas, off 
every possible steamer or sailing-vessel route. 
That it was the island mentioned in certain of 
Schouten's diaries as " Rica de Perlas " (named, 
doubtless, from some old Spanish tradition, as 
the elusive Rica de Plata and Rica de Oro Islands 
were) he did not doubt. The arrow, cut with 
infinite care to a certain point of the compass? 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 235 

showed its direction clearly, and there was no 
other land between. 

" Why do you think he made a memorandum 
in such a curious way ? " asked Isola, as we were 
busy overhauling the diving gear on deck, after 
tea. 

" Because," said Gore, heaving up a great 
Muntz metal helmet, to look at the valve, " he 
was afraid that something might happen which, 
as a matter of fact, did happen." 

" What ? " 

" Loss of his ship there. He lost them both — 
one burned on the way to Batavia, and one 
confiscated with everything on board. You see, 
Schouten was an old sailor ; he'd probably been 
shipwrecked in his time, and knew how difficult 
it was for a sailor, especially in those days of end- 
less voyages, to keep any of his goods together. 
He insured himself against loss or forgetting by 
his plan. And yet he never came back to get 
the rest of the pearls." 

" Perhaps he took them all," I suggested. 

" No," said Isola instantly, " there would have 
been no reason for leaving guide-marks behind 
him, if he had." 

" Right," said Red Bob, setting down the 
helmet and turning his attention to an enormous 
pair of boots, soled with sheet-lead. " Lucky 



236 Red Bob of the Bismareks 

these weren't made for the Jap trade, Corbet, 
they'd never have fitted you. I suppose you're 
jumping for the first turn ; just as well ; you'll 
need proper * tending.' " 

" I can tend," observed Isola modestly. 

" You can ? But of course, Banda's one of 
the best pearling-grounds in Malaysia," com- 
mented Gore. " How did you learn ? " 

" Father had a lugger for two years, when I 
was only fourteen to sixteen ; he had it more 
for fun than for anything else," she confessed, 
" but he used to go down lots of times, and I 
always tended for him, after the first. Either of 
you will be quite safe if you leave me on top, 
Mr. Gore." 

" That's good ; it will almost double the work 
we can do, because a diver must have rest," said 
Gore. " Talking of rest, suppose you all turn in ; 
it's turn out at sunrise to-morrow." 

It was. We were all up and about before the 
side-lights of the schooner were out next morn- 
ing. The east was just turning to raspberry pink 
as we sat down to breakfast in the small saloon, 
and the dawn-wind was blowing the blue curtains 
of the ports straight in. We had the Cecilie 
under way as soon as it was clear enough to see 
the coral reefs. The wind was in our favour, 
and the journey was a short one. Before ten 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 237 

o'clock we were in sight of the nameless atoll 
island that Gore had pencilled upon our chart ; 
and the secret of Schouten's pearls lay almost 
in our grasp. 

I suppose, when I come to think it out, that 
very few people among the millions of the world 
have ever seen an atoll, or know what it is like; 
but it really seems strange to me — since those 
days — that anyone should need a description. 
So much have atolls and reefs and islands, barriers, 
horse-heads and vigias, entered into my everyday 
life since then, that I can scarce conceive of any- 
one who does not know all about them. 

Still. ... An atoll is a circular, or partly 
circular, coral reef, enclosing an inner space of 
shallow water. It may take the form of a mere 
ring of foam in the sea ; it may again be a per- 
ceptible belt of white rocks ; or it may — hke 
Schouten's atoll — be an actual coral island shaped 
like a ring : a garland of beautiful foliage edged 
with whitest sand, encircling a clear green lake, 
all set in the blue of the deep surrounding sea, 
like a device in emeralds and ivory set in a turquoise 
shield. 

I could not help exclaiming when I saw it ; it 
seemed to me the eighth wonder of the world 
. . . but Red Bob and Isola both took it very 
coolly ; nothing in the shape of coral was a novelty 



238 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

to either. The black crew, however, seemed 
pleased at the sight ; one of them pointed to the 
cocoanuts swinging aloft among the palms, and 
explained in pigeon-English that this was a good 
place, and that they wanted to stay there a long 
time, and eat cocoanuts and fish. 

" They're right about it's being a good place. 
I never saw a likelier spot," said Gore. 

" Nor I," agreed Isola practically. " Two to 
twenty fathoms, I should think — sheltered water, 
small passage through the reef, low island. . . , 
Yes, it does look well." 

We had the dingy out in no time, and brought 
all the boys ashore with us, since there was safe 
anchorage for the schooner, and we needed their 
help with the gear. First of all. Gore produced 
his water-glass — a kerosene-tin v^dth the ends 
cut out, and a piece of window-glass substituted 
— and we rowed into the middle of the lagoon in 
the dingy, to make an inspection. Both Isola 
and myself, by this time, were a good deal excited ; 
I think we shouted to each other and to Gore, 
and moved about in the boat more than was 
absolutely necessary, hanging suicidally over the 
gunwale, and trying to see where the shell was, 
if any. Gore, meantime, with a countenance of 
stone, was looking through the glass, lowering it 
every now and then into the water, and inspect- 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 239 



ing the bottom through the bit of window-pane 
which gave him a clear view, unobstructed by 
ripples. The light in the lagoon was blinding ; 
the sand blazed like white-hot metal in a furnace, 
the leaves of the palm-trees glittered as they 
sv^oing, far up in the hard hot blue ; in the shallow 
water where we were cruising about, the dancing 
diamond-nets of sun and ripple were really too 
bright to look at, and the water itself was warmer 
than the air. 

. . . Gore drew himself up from the gunwale, 
and handed the glass to Isola. His face had 
turned a little pale — or perhaps it was only the 
green reflection from the sea. 

" Look ! " he said. Isola seized the glass — 
she was trembling with excitement by this time 
— and buried her face in it. She came up again 
in a moment, all pink. 

"Paul, Paul, look!" she cried. "Oh, look 
at the sheU ! " 

Even at that moment I was not too much 
excited to notice that she had called me by my 
Christian name. 

I took my turn, and there, on the sandy bottom 
of the lagoon were the beds of pearl-shell — masses 
of them, acres of them, it seemed. They glowed 
in entrancing colours through the water — lilac 
gnd purple and emerald-green — but I knew well 



240 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

enough that they would be plain grey when lifted 
out of that deceiving medium. There they were, 
set tight as dinner-plates, piled over and over on 
each other, to I do not know what thickness — 
an accumulation such as few pearl-seekers indeed 
have seen, in these days of universal exploration. 

We drifted slowly into shallower water, and 
now no glass was needed. Undoubtedly, " Rica 
de Perlas " if this were indeed the place, deserved 
its name. 

" It's a fortune," said Gore. " Half a dozen 
fortunes. . . . Corbet, have you a cigar about 
you ? " 

" Only some cigarettes," I said, handing them 
over. We all lit up, and smoked, drifting to and 
fro about the still waters of the pearl lagoon 
which were only moved by the slight current 
setting out through the opening in the reef. 

" There will be pearls," stated Gore, and I 
thought, for a moment, I saw the famous red light 
gleam in his eye. 

" Oh, yes," agreed Isola, with the prettiest 
air of professional knowledge. " Just the place 
for big ones. Some of those shells look as if they 
had been there for hundreds of years. Did you 
see them, all crusty and worm-eaten and grown 
over ? " 

" I did," said Gore, drawing at my cigarette 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 241 



rather as if he felt it insufficient. Suddenly he 
turned to me. 

" Paul Corbet," he said, " that mill-owning 
father of yours was right when he said you had 
no head for business. You haven't enough for 
a third-grade clerk in a fourth-rate bucket- 
shop." 

" Why not ? " I asked. Isola looked rather hurt. 

" Because," said Red Bob, taking the oars, and 
beginning to pull back to shore with long, power- 
ful strokes, " you've never yet had the sense to 
ask me where you come in." 

" I didn't know that I came in at all," was my 
answer ; but all the same, I felt my heart begin- 
ning to throb in quick, sharp beats. ... I could 
see in a moment all that " coming in " might 
mean to me — and to someone else — if only the 
lions in the path could be scared away. 

" You thought," stated Gore, " that I was 
going to trust you absolutely, let you take your 
share of risk and work, and give you just your 
salary for it ? " 

" I did," was my answer. 

" I'm sorry, then, that you should have had 
such a dashed poor opinion of me," was his reply. 
Characteristically, he dropped the subject there, 
and we rowed back to land, carried the dingy 
across the strip of beach, and rejoined the waiting 

i6 



242 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

boys on the far side, without any further refer- 
ence to the matter. But all the same, I knew Red 
Bob, and I knew that my days of dependence on 
another were all but done. 

We sailed the schooner into the lagoon, and 
Gore got the diving gear and the pumping 
machinery out. Shallow though the place was, 
we needed the dress to work it ; and this set me 
wondering how pearls and pearl-shells had been 
obtained in the days before the diver's dress. 
Gore was of the opinion that Schouten had 
Eastern Pacific sailors with him when he visited 
the place. They were good for anything up to 
fifteen fathom, sometimes more, he said ; but 
you had to pick New Britain boys very carefully 
before you found any that were of real use. 

Our two native divers, therefore, were not 
wanted ; and they were sent back to the beach 
while we got to work with the gear. The crew 
and Bo seemed to enjoy their idle afternoon ; 
they sat beneath the palm-trees, fishing, singing, 
talking, and drinking green cocoanuts till dark. 
If we had had an idea what their talk was 
about. . . . 

But I think we were all a little mad on pearls 
that day, and nothing else found room in our 
minds. I begged to be allowed to go down first, 
and Isola promised to tend me herself. 



Red Bob of the Bismareks 243 



" She may, while I watch her,'' said Gore 
bluntly. " I'll not risk anyone's life on hear- 
say." 

I got myself into the diver's heavy woollens — 
always necessary for under-water work in the 
hottest climates — and Isola and Gore between 
them pushed and pulled and shoved me into the 
dress, which is not so easy to get into as it seems. 
Then Gore, taking a wrench for buttonhook, 
buttoned me up with engine-nuts. After that 
he put the huge metal helmet and corselet on, 
and screwed these also into place. I began to 
wonder if, and how, I should ever get out of the 
dress again. Followed a pair of boots with 
twenty pounds of lead on the soles ; followed a 
double locket round my neck, of eighty. 

They had tied a rope round my waist some 
time ago. (" Always put on the rope as soon 
as your diver is into the dress," warned Gore, 
and Isola said with dignity, " I know that ! ") 
Now they slung the ladder over the side, and Gore 
asked me : " Can you walk ? " 

I could, just — but I felt like a fly that has 
fallen into a treacle-pot, and can scarcely drag 
its weighted limbs and wings along. 

Gore told me what to do with the signal cord, 
and how to manage the valve ; also how to land 
on my feet, instead of on my head — a thing most 

i6* 



244 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

beginners do. Then he helped me over the bul- 
wark, and told Isola, " Screw him down ! " 

It sounded like directions to an undertaker, 
and — I must say — the screwing down, even 
though Isola did it, felt as one would imagine 
the same process would feel to a corpse, if the 
latter retained any power of sensation. Red 
Bob was taking no chances ; he watched the 
girl narrowly as she screwed on the glass of my 
helmet, shutting out the fresh sea-air, and closing 
away all sound. I could see her and Gore now, 
but I could not hear them ; their good-byes 
were given in pantomime. . . ." In with the 
coffin ! " I said to myself, and signalled to let 

go- 

With all that weight of lead, I landed on the 

bottom like a bird coming home to a bough. 
The makers of diving dresses know what they are 
about. 

It was dim and green down there, but there 
was plenty of light enough to see the shell — to 
see the schooner too, a dark hull hanging above 
my head, with her cable stretching down from 
the bows. It was not at all agreeable — this 
diving. I felt swelled and asthmatic ; I could 
not manage the valve easily, and my ears were 
painful. However, these were trifles. I lifted 
all the shell I could, put it in the sack I had 



Red Bob of the Bismareks 245 



brought, and signalled " Pull up ! " It was 
pulled up, emptied and lowered, and I filled it 
again. I worked for twenty minutes or so, and 
then found I was being hauled to the surface 

" Long enough for the first time," said Gore, 
and I found it was. I was glad to take off the 
heavy gear and let him have his turn. 

" Now you see the advantage of letting you 
go down first," said Gore. " I've made sure that 
I can trust Mrs. Ravenna with the tending, so 
we can work in turn." 

He went down next, and Isola, at the pump, 
kept sharp look-out for signals, supplying the 
air with the style of a practised hand. I spoke 
to her once, but she answered gravely, " You 
must not talk to a tender," and I was mute. 

We worked for a good part of the day, with a 
brief halt for lunch, and by the time the sun began 
to climb down the sky, we had collected a splendid 
heap of shell. 

" Time to stop now," said Gore. " We've 
both done all that amateurs could — or should — 
do in a day." 

He might have said that he had, for he had 
been down three times to my one, using his great 
strength to the utmost in gathering and sending 
up the shell, at a rate that I could not hope to 
rival. Strong as he was, I think he was weary. 



246 Red Bob of the Bismareks 

But for all that he did not rest. Nothing would 
do him but we must open our shell at once ; and 
I was not inclined to balk him. 

Pearl oysters are not like the oyster of 
commerce ; they open almost at a touch, and 
when you have slit the muscle the two halves 
fall apart. With tin tubs and knives, we laboured 
furiously till dusk, and our labour went not un- 
rewarded. I cannot describe the excitement of 
feeling for pearls in the slimy mantle of the fish 
— of eagerly examining the shell for adherent 
buttons or baroques — of closing the finger-tips 
round something that felt like a gem, pulling it 
out into the light, and finding — perhaps a dull 
blob of chalky stuff, perhaps a bit of coral that 
had got into the shell, perhaps a fair, round, 
shining pearl, fit for the hand of a queen. It 
was the bravest sort of hunting ! 

Towards dusk, we put the unexamined shell 
away in a heap by itself, threw the debris over- 
board, and counted our gains. There were seven 
large pearls of splendid lustre, each as big as a 
marrowrfat pea ; there were thirty of medium 
size, but good ; forty or fifty small ones, well 
worth setting, and about a cupful of seed pearl. 

I was just a shade disappointed with the after- 
noon's work, for I had expected to find a pearl in 
every shell, and a big one in every six or seven ; 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 247 

but Red Bob said it was incredible luck, and that 
the place must be exceptionally rich. 

" Never touched, either," he said, " that is, 
not since Willem Corneliszoon got the pearls 
for Helga Maria, who didn't marry him, here." 

He put away the pearls in a Httle case of soft 
leather, underneath his shirt, and went to the 
bulwarks to shout at the crew. 

" Time they came over," he said. " We may 
as well get these decks washed up and 
have tea." 

The crew had the dingy with them, and I saw 
them shove her down the sand, and get into her. 
They rowed her carelessly, splashing about and 
shouting. It struck me that they were what 
one would call " a bit above their boots," and I 
wondered for a moment if it was possible they had 
smuggled any drink away with them. But, 
remembering that the New Britain native is 
seldom civilized enough to care for spirits, I 
ascribed their gaiety to the effects of an after- 
noon's liberty on shore. 

I was just going below after Isola, when I was 
startled by a burst of swearing from Red Bob. 
I jumped back on deck, and saw the dingy 
reared up on a coral " horse-head," and the crew, 
with loud cries, swimming to the ship. 

" They've stove her bottom in with their 



248 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



dashed fooHng ! " shouted Gore, rapping out 
" language " as a Maxim raps out bullets. 

They had ; and we were now reduced to the 
yawl, a heavy, unhandy boat not well suited for 
light ferrying about the lagoon. 

" Keep that girl below while I talk to them," 
ordered Red Bob, once more showing the danger- 
signal in his eye. " There's more in this 
than " 

I heard no more, for I was anxious to spare 
Isola the scene that I knew would follow. In a 
moment I was down the companion, and rapping 
at the door of her tiny cabin. She came out at 
once. 

" What is it ? " she asked. 

" Mr. Gore is talking to the boys ; don't be 
alarmed," I said. 

" I did not hear " she began, and then 

broke off, for such a tornado of sound arose on 
deck as drowned both our voices. Gore's great 
voice, bellowing the language of the sea — wild, 
cannibal yells from five terrified savages — stamp- 
ing, scurrying and thumping all round and round 
the decks — the sound of heavy blows from a 
rope, coupled with requests to " take that ! " and 
assurances that the operator meant to " teach " 
several persons unnamed to lose good boats — an 
offer that, under the circumstances, seemed at 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 249 

least superfluous — all this, breaking at once like 
a thunderstorm over our heads, was enough to 
bewilder and terrify any girl, even one brought 
up in the wild, equatorial lands. . . . 

" Come into the cabin," I shouted in her ear, 
trying to engage her attention — for Red Bob 
was talking very freely. " They've lost the 
dingy, and Mr. Gore is a good deal annoyed 
about it. Come and tell me what you think 
about the pearls we've got." I drew her into 
the cabin, and closed the door, to shut out the 
noise from above. The storm, however, proved 
a brief one. In a very few minutes, Gore came 
down, rather out of breath, and looking 
satisfied. 

" I've put the fear of God into them," he 
remarked. " They needed it." He took the 
" Travels of Sir John Mandeville " from the box 
that represented our library, and coiled his long 
legs up on the locker tops, to read. 

Next morning, to my astonishment, he did not 
get out the diving gear again. Instead, he went 
off in the yawl — the only boat we had besides 
the dingy — to see what damage had been 
done to the latter. He came back whistling 
" La Donna e mobile " and looking notably 
cheerful. This made me feel a trifle uneasy, 
since I judged it to be an effect got up for the 



250 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

benefit of Isola, and I took the first opportunity 
that presented itself of finding him alone. He 
was still whistling " La Donna e mobile " — 
very well, with variations. 

" What's wrong ? " I asked, without preface. 

Gore, sitting astride the old-fashioned wooden 
bulwark, made no answer for a moment. He 
went on whistling. Something seemed to have 
put him in spirits. And yet it was not exactly 
spirits either. 

I saw that he had taken his revolver out of its 
holster, was unloading it, and replacing the 
cartridges with fresh ones. 

" Oh," I said. " So that's it." 

" That's it," said Gore, continuing to whistle. 
He threw the chambers of the revolver open 
and shut two or three times, with a loose 
movement of the wrist, and dropped a little 
oil on the lock. 

" How did you find out ? " I asked. It is a 
curious fact that nothing whatever had been said, 
and yet I knew mutiny was in the air as well as 
I knew that the water of the sea was beneath the 
deck on which I stood. 

" Dingy looked like it," he said, dropping 
the cartridges one by one into their chambers, 
and snapping the breech shut. " It was a bit 
too careless. She's useless, keel ripped off her 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 251 

on the coral. And then, when I took the boat 
over this morning — you might have observed 
that I took all the crew v^ith me — I saw she had 
been tampered with. Not much ; fellow who 
did it must have been interrupted before he had 
time to do any harm, and he wasn't clever on his 
job, anyway. But there's been an attempt." 

He had put the revolver into its holster now, 
and was swinging one leg out over the water, 
looking at the toe of his worn canvas shoe as he 
did so. 

" Why ! " I exclaimed, remembering the after- 
noon when he had fastened the revolver belt 
round Isola's waist, " you must have been 
expecting something of the kind all along ? " 

« Who— me ? Not exactly," said Gore. " Or 
rather — perhaps. I think I did it on general 
principles. No trusting these beggars." 

" They seemed all right up to this," I said. 

" That's when you want to watch 'em," said 
Gore. " I've been thinking they were a bit too 
biddable. Take my word for it, a New Britainer's 
best when he's his natural self, and that's a 
cheeky bounder." 

There was a moment's silence ; the outgoing 
tide rippled gurghngly against the schooner's 
keel. 

I stuck my hands deep down into my pockets. 



252 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" I wish to God she wasn't here," I said, 
staring at the deck. 

" Wishing to God or the devil either won't 
make any difference now. We did what we 
thought was the best thing. Also, the case isn't 
particularly black. They have no firearms ; 
we've warning that they mean to seize the 
schooner and scrag us, and it's up to us not to 
let them." 

" What about the pearls ? " 

" There," said Gore, inspecting the worn toes 
of his shoe again and lifting it up to feel whether 
his sock was really coming through, " there you 
have the difficulty. The longer we stay in this 
place, where either you or I must always be 
awake and on watch, the more risk we run of a 
surprise. And the more risk she runs." 

" It's not to be thought of," I said, with my 
blood running cold for all the heat of the morning. 

" I judge not. Yet it does go against the grain 
to turn and run for Friedrich-et cetera, just 
because these black brutes have taken a turn that 
I could belt out of them. If only " 

" The risk's too great, for her." 

" It is. . . . Well, the lagoon won't run away. 
And to carry on with a job that keeps either you 
or me out of the fighting line half the time, 
with the one who's in the fighting line bound to 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 253 

look after the one who isn't, or drown him — 
that can't be done. Not — as things are." 

Neither of us expressed regret at having Isola 
with us — we should have been brutes if we had ; 
but I think in the mind of Red Bob and myself 
alike there was a bitter, unspoken longing to see 
the thiilg out, " belt " the plotting crew into 
another frame of mind, and work the lagoon, if 
necessary, pistol in hand. . . . Well, that could 
not be. What we had to do was to get back 
to civilization, and return — when circumstances 
allowed — with a better crew. 

Armed as we were, we knew that we could keep 
the brutes in hand through the ordinary work 
of a voyage — it was the pearling that had become 
impossible. 

*' How are we going to explain things to 
Isola ? " I asked. 

" When in doubt, tell the truth," quoted 
Red Bob. " She's no ninnyhammer of a girl." 

" Curse the black beasts," I said, looking at 
the group of sulky, bison-like savages squatted 
on the small forecastle-head, smoking in turn from 
a bamboo pipe, " I hate being done by them." 

" So do I, my boy, but there's nothing else 
for it. Tell Mrs. Ravenna to keep her revolver 
on all the time ; but explain to her that there's 
no real need for alarm. We'll take the ship 



254 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



out inside of an hour, make for Rabaul — it's a 
good bit nearer than Frederickdashithaven — 
and keep the crew too busy to hatch mischief. 
If we can ship a decenter lot, we might finish 
the job yet." 

" But what about Isola ? You can't take her 
back into Rabaul, where that Richter is." 

" No," said Red Bob, " several times no. 
Because, you see, if he can bring any evidence of 
any residence together that may show something 
like consent — why, then, an attempt to break 
the marriage would not have much to stand on." 

" I understand," I answered. " But — do you 
think — can there be any way of breaking it ? " 

" Never said there was," replied Red Bob. 
" Also, I never said there was not. But if there 
is, why the further off she is kept from Richter 
the better. No, no taking her . . . visibly . . . 
to Rabaul." 

" Then what would you do ? " 

" Easy as pie. Keep her dark till we ship a 
crew, and then run her to an Australian port, and 
board her out with someone reliable." 

" I wish I had your head," I said. 

" You haven't much of your own, it's true ; 
still, I've met with young idiots I liked less. 
Don't let the crew know you suspect anything ; 
call them up and get the ship under way ; we 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 255 

want to be well clear of these reefs before 
dark." 

I was going forward to do his bidding when 
I was suddenly struck by something curious about 
the aspect of the sky, as seen through the long 
gap in the palms that was made by the entrance 
to the atoll. Not all atolls have a break in the 
ring, but one might say that most have, and 
this was one of the majority. 

" Look at that," I said, turning round. 

Gore looked at it, and said something between 
his teeth in Spanish. 

" Is that a ' gooba ' ? " I asked. I had heard 
something of these New Guinea blows — too big 
for a squall, too small for a hurricane — but I had 
not yet seen one. 

" It is," said Gore, looking at the dark, parasol- 
shaped cloud that was spreading upwards from the 
horizon like some strange black dawn. " It is, 
and we shan't get out to-night." 

" What about the ship ? " 

" Safe enough in here, unless she drags her 
moorings, and she won't do that." He threw 
a glance aloft to see that everything was safely 
stowed. " We must make the best of it," he 
said. " Keep a look-out while I go and search 
the forecastle for knives and clubs. I took their 
ordinary knives away this afternoon, but they 



256 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

probably have a second lot hidden away some- 
where." 



The thing happened so quickly that I cannot 
tell it without becoming bewildered. I cannot 
even now realize that the whole ghastly affair 
did not occupy ten minutes from start to finish 
— the first part of it scarcely one. At something 
like five o'clock I was sitting quietly on the 
coaming of the main hatch ; Isola had just come 
up from the saloon and was looking with interest 
at the " gooba " as it climbed the sky, Gore was 
stooping to get in through the low, narrow hatch- 
way of the forecastle where the crew slept and 
kept their goods. The crew were smoking on 
the forecastle-head. We had a sound ship under 
us, full of goods and provisions, we were well 
armed, and thought we were going to make a 
safe and comfortable voyage down to Rabaul, 
just keeping a little extra watch over our New 
Britain savages. ... At ten minutes past five 
we were homeless, wrecked, and cast away ; 
Gore was wounded, I was defenceless, and 
Isola 

But let me tell the story as well as I can. 

Gore, as I said, stooped down to enter the 
forecastle. There were no men inside it, and 



Red Bob of the Bismareks 257 



the crew, sitting up on the forecastle-head, 
were some distance away and apparently busy 
in the most peaceful fashion with their big 
bamboo pipe. They took no notice of him or 
of anything else, until he had finished his search 
and was bending to come out again, with his face 
turned towards the deck. Then, with a leap so 
quick that it seemed as if he had suddenly doubled 
himself, and appeared in two places at once, one 
of them reached the break of the forecastle, and 
struck at the back of Gore's skull with an iron 
belaying-pin. 

Quick as he was, I was a shade quicker. I had 
my automatic pistol out of my belt before the 
blow fell, and I aimed on the rise of the barrel. 
... It missed fire. 

One thinks quickly in such moments. I had 
time to remember Red Bob's warning against 
the use of these pistols in equatorial countries 
while I was tearing at the magazine and striking 
the breech in one frantic effort to knock out the 
jammed cartridge. Then I felt a revolver pushed 
into my hand, and seized it without waiting to 
look where it came from. I took the length 
of the deck in three jumps, saw Red Bob lying 
insensible on the planking, and shot the nigger 
who did it clean through the head. Then I 
seized Gore by the legs, and began dragging him 

17 



258 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

■ ■ ' ' ' , ., , 

to the side of the ship, where the boat was. I 
had one arm round him and Isola — I don't 
know how she came there — and I pushed her 
half behind me, as I backed to the side of the 
ship. 

'' Get over ! " I yelled. I had to yell, for the 
six savages — Bo, our own man, among them — 
were howling like devils let loose from hell. 
Four of them had got tomahawks, which they 
must have looted from the trade goods in the 
hold, and kept hidden ; the others were armed 
with iron belaying-pins from the rail. While 
Isola was climbing down into the boat, I kept 
the savages at bay with the revolver she had 
handed me ; but it had only five shots left, and 
there were six men. . . . 

I was conscious that something was happening 
besides the mutiny ; it did not, however, make 
much impression on me, even though I felt a 
sudden, fierce clap of wind and rain strike the 
schooner and heel her half over, and though I 
was drenched through in an instant, as if I had 
been dipped in the sea. I was too much engaged 
with my six New Britainers, who, wise fighters 
that they were, were rapidly spreading them- 
selves out into a fan with the intention of 
scattering my fire, and, no doubt, of surrounding 
me. I got two of them in two shots, and missed 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 259 

the third, because the schooner at the moment 
of my pulling the trigger gave a fearful leap 
like a wounded horse. The fourth shot was 
never fired. I had not had time to aim before 
we were all flung to the deck by a crash that 
shook every timber in the Cecilte, and that was 
instantly followed by a torrent of sea-water 
washing from end to end. The ship recovered 
a little, after the shock, rose slightly, and seemed 
to shake the water off her decks as a dog might 
shake itself ; but again she staggered, beat herself 
on the cruel reef that we had struck, and 
smothered the waist and forecastle in foam. 

" We've struck — she's dragged " I cried, 

I do not know to whom, for Isola was in the boat 
below, and Red Bob was still lying without life 
on the deck, rolling to and fro like a corpse. 
The lash of the " gooba " almost knocked me 
down again as I rose ; rain was coming straight 
along through the air like a river lifted off the 
ground ; the calm lagoon was a mass of beaten 
foam, and the palm-trees bent to the gale like 
fishing-rods when a fish pulls from below. The 
four New Britain natives, terrified by the disaster 
that they had brought on themselves (we learned 
afterwards that they had been preparing a rapid 
get-away by severing almost through the moor- 
ings) began jumping up and down on the deck 

i7« 



260 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

and crying out pitifully. They even attempted 
to rush the boat, while I dragged Red Bob 
over the bulwarks, but I dropped the first with 
one of my two remaining cartridges, and the 
rest, warned by his fate, kept off. The mutineer 
spirit was all out of them now ; they saw they 
were wrecked, and knew no swimmer could live 
in the sea that was getting up. . . . 

I never knew till weeks afterwards how much 
thinking I did in the few seconds occupied in 
getting Gore up to the gunwale of the boat, and 
heaving him in. It was not plain to me then 
why I beckoned to one of the mutineers to 
accompany me ; but I did — it was the recreant 
Bo, as things happened — and he seized the 
chance eagerly. Over into the boat he went, 
lowered her down with me, and launched her 
into the white, boiling, battering sea below 
the ship. 

We were barely able to fend her off from the 
hull, for the doomed Cecilie was rolling terribly, 
but we got safely away and pushed off into the 
storm. 

It was already abating ; these " goobas " of 
New Guinea are short and sharp. The rain was 
passing over, the palm-trees lifting up their 
battered heads a little, as we pulled over towards 
the shore. By the time we reached it, the worst 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 261 

of the " gooba " was fairly spent, and the waves 
that ran up the strand were slackening in their 
fierceness, so that we could beach the boat 
without much trouble. But where was the 
Cecilie P 

Sunk, in the deepest part of the lagoon ; gone 
to the bottom, with the five mutineers in her. 
There was nothing to be seen, where the schooner 
had lain ten minutes before, but a raffle of foam 
breaking on a reef, and one small black head 
fighting the waves. It did not fight long. 

" Sark he catchum," yelled Bo, through the 
wind, as the black point disappeared. I watched, 
but there were no more. 

When I turned round. Red Bob was sitting up 
on the beach, very wet and sandy, feeling his 
head. His fingers were red when they came 
away. 

" Did they get the ship ? " he inquired, with 
perfect coolness, taking a dripping handkerchief 
out of his pocket, and tying it round his head. 
" I don't remember after someone knocked mc 
over." 

" She dragged, went on the reef and sank," I 
said. " They must have meddled with the 
cable.'' 

" You all right ? " inquired Red Bob of Isola, 
who was sitting on the sand beside him. 



262 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" Yes," said Isola. " I've got no clothes," she 
added, " except these." 

" Tie that knot for me, will you ? " said Gore. 
" Crew all gone ? " 

" All except Bo, I brought him along," I said. 

" Right. We'll want him before we're 
through. I hope the boat wasn't lowered stern 
foremost, and the stores spilled." 

" Stores ? " I asked. " She was got down all 
right." 

" I don't," said Gore, " allow boats to be kept 
unprovisioned in any ship that I command. 
That's common sense. We have two beakers of 
water, a keg of beef, a ten-pound tin of biscuit, 
a pound of tobacco, pound of tea, packet of 
matches, sealed in tin, compass and box of 
quinine." 

" Then we can make for the nearest settle- 
ment ? " I said. 

" We can. The * gooba ' seems to be over." 

Here Isola, to my astonishment, burst out 
laughing. 

" I can't — can't — help it," she said, half 
giggling, half sobbing. " It seems too absurd. 
We've been shipwrecked — and all sorts of awful 
things have happened — and here we are sitting 
under the palm-trees talking like a tea-party." 

" What way do you think we ought to talk ? " 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 263 

asked Red Bob. " I've been shipwrecked before, 
and it was pretty much the same as this. Do 
you expect people to say * Gadzooks ' and ' By 
my halidom,' because they've been spilled out 
of a ship ? " 

" Me want my kai-kai," observed Bo, by way of 
diversion. The rain was quite over now, and the 
ruffled lagoon was sobbing itself to sleep like a 
naughty child. 

" Do you realize, my friend, that you did your 
best to commit piracy and murder half an hour 
ago ? " demanded Gore. " Do you under- 
stand that you ought to be hung, if there was a 
tree on the island that one could hang you to — 
cocoanuts having no hangable branches ? " 

" Me wantum kai-kai," repeated Bo, unmoved. 

Only people who have been through like ad- 
ventures will believe me, I suppose, when I say 
that all three of us burst out laughing at the New 
Britainer's cool demand. 

" He's quite right, it's near tea-time," com- 
mented Gore, " You go catchum cocoanut, 
plenty quick ! " 

" Never," he advised, " let anything interfere 
with your regular meals if you can help it ; not 
even a shipwreck. Bo, you go and catch plenty 
crab when you finish. We'll make you earn your 
living — ^you scurvy brute." 



264 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" Me no brooss," complained Bo, as he moved 
away, his amour propre being apparently wounded 
by the epithet. The New Britainer is curiously 
touchy on the question of personal abuse, what- 
ever he may have done to earn it. 

Everything we had on was wet through, and 
there was no possibility of sun-drying for to-day, 
but Gore, with the matches out of the boat, 
and wood from underneath a fallen palm, had a 
fire going before long, and we dried ourselves 
at that as well as we could. He declared his 
wound was nothing, and Isola, when she had 
examined and washed it carefully for him, gave 
it as her verdict that the bone was not in any 
way damaged. By the light of the fire we sat 
down to feed, looking, I suppose, very like an 
ordinary picnic-party, and afterwards Bo was 
made to dig a big hole in the sand for shelter 
from the wind. 

" There'll be no more rain to-night," said 
Gore ; and he proved right. It was a fine night 
of stars ; the lagoon was as still as a marble tank 
in a palace ; as we lay in the shelter of the pit, 
protected by the sails of the boat, we could hear 
the fish leap in the water, and the ripples talking 
strangely on the sand. Isola, at her end of the 
shelter, seemed to rest quietly, but once in the 
night she sat suddenly up, made as if to throw 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 265 

back the long hair that she had shorn away, and 
cried out : " Paul, why did you kill them ? 
There's blood on your hands ! " 

I watched her, but did not answer, for I saw 
that she still slept. She sank back on the sand in 
another moment, and her eyes closed again. 
There was some night-bird hidden among the 
palms ; it waked up and cried for a little while 
in a complaining, bitter tone. Then it was 
silent ; and the ripples whispered strange wicked 
secrets to each other on the beach, and the sea 
breathed deep, outside the barrier reef. I 
thought the morning would never come ; but 
it came at last, low and red among the palm 
trunks, and our castaway life had begun. 



CHAPTER XI 

" IVfEU KONIGSBERGSHAFEN is the 
^ ^ place," said Red Bob, as we sailed 
out of Schouten's ill-starred lagoon, leaving 
the bones of the Cecilie and the bones of her 
destroyers lying side by side at the bottom of the 
sea. " With a fair wind, we aren't three days 
from the coast of New Britain — wrong coast, of 
course, not the settled side, but it'll do at a pinch. 
Neu Konigsbergshafen is a settlement, or rather a 
plantation, where we can refit and get provisions ; 
after that, if there is no ship likely to call, we could 
go on to Rabaul round the head of the island, 
and if we wanted to get Mrs. Ravenna away 
without any bother, why, she'd only have to get 
herself up a la Malay again for a couple of days." 
" Who lives at Neu Konigsbergshafen ? " 
asked Isola. 

" Beyer, rather a good friend of mine. He 
grows rubber and copra, and a bit of coffee. 
Very lonely place, no other white man for fifty 
or sixty miles — but as pretty a spot as you'd like 

266 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 267 

to see. Beyer has a wife ; half-caste woman, 
but a decent sort. She'll look after Mrs. Ravenna. 
You'll be a little cramped running down to the 
coast," he said, turning to Isola with a kindly 
smile, " but we'll do our best for you ; there's 
no man alive who wouldn't do his best, and a bit 
more, for such a plucky girl as you." 

" She is brave," I said proudly — somehow, 
since Gore's talk about possibilities of breaking 
the marriage, I had felt more than ever that I 
had an actual right to be proud of her. " She's 
as good as another man in the boat." And 
indeed it was useful to have a third hand to steer, 
or help with the sails when necessary. Bo, a 
house-boy pure and simple, proved very little 
use. With the amazingly brief memory of the 
savage he had quite forgotten the part he had 
taken in the mutiny, and though our memories 
were longer, we chose to forget it too, since we 
thought he might be valuable to us in many ways 
while coasting along New Britain. 

We rigged up a little shelter for Isola, and did 
our best to make her as comfortable as circum- 
stances permitted during the voyage. I do not 
really think she felt the boat journey to be a 
serious hardship. In the first place, it was not 
long — we were extraordinarily lucky in the matter 
of wind, and the yawl proving a good sailer, we 



268 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

sighted the coast of New Britain in two days 
and a half. Further, she had been accustomed 
for many weeks to roughing it in our company, 
and at the best, though a thoroughly refined girl, 
was no fine lady. Gore and I ran the boat in 
turns, gave out the rations and kept a look-out 
for sails, of which we saw and expected to see 
none. As for Bo, he spent his time between 
sleeping at the bottom of the boat, and begging 
for tobacco — of which we gave him little, not 
knowing how long it might be before we could 
get any more ourselves. 

About the middle of the third day, a long blue 
cloud arose in the horizon, and for the second 
time — but under what altered circumstances ! 
— ^we approached the coast of the great island of 
New Britain. Coming on it from this side 
and in such a way, one realized its size better than 
one did from the steamer approach to Rabaul. 

" Four hundred miles or so in length, isn't 
it ? " I said, looking at the long panorama of 
peaks and ranges unfolding as we sailed in. " Is 
it fertile country ? " 

" Plant an old shoe in it, and it'll come up a 
crop of Wellington boots inside of six weeks," 
was Gore's reply. " Healthy ? Very fair, for 
the tropics. Good rainfall, magnificent forests, 
hill country, plain country, rivers, ranges, 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 269 

minerals. Harbours by the dozen. Fine place 
for road-making ; New Guinea's a bit of a 
problem in that way, but the Germans have 
motor-roads along quite a lot of the New Britain 
coast, and here and there inland. 

" Is it settled pretty well ? Bless you, no, 
nor explored. Nothing known about the natives 
in the far interior except that they are brutes. 
Why ? Ask the Kaiser. They've only had a 
quarter of a century at it, you know. In another 
two hundred years, they'll be getting quite a 
move on, I dare say." 

We ran in and on towards the great island, the 
boat flying under all sail as if she were as hungry 
for ihe land as we undoubtedly were ; and soon I 
began to see that Gore's description of Neu 
Konigsbergshafen was not unjustified. It was 
a beautiful, a sweet and gentle-looking spot. 
The cruel loveliness of New Guinea was not 
here, nor the dark, wet picturesqueness of vol- 
canic Rabaul. This coast was vivid blue and 
green, with sloping peaks, not too high, and 
pleasant grassy lawns running down from the 
mountain spurs to the sea. It had not the 
frowning massiveness of the German Guinea coast 
— the tier on tier of the black, high ranges, leaping 
behind one another into the very vault of heaven, 
and barring off the interior with a Titan wall of 



270 Red Bob of the Bismareks 

rock and precipice and densely tangled forest. 
No, here one could almost sense the narrowness 
of the long, indented island, feel its accessibility, 
and understand, with its deep, fine harbours and 
rich coast-lands, that it might mean much to 
commerce some day. 

" What a parrot-coloured place ! " was Isola's 
comment as we ran towards Neu Konigsbergs- 
hafen bay. She was right. The wondrous blue 
of those rounded hills was parrot blue, the green 
of the lawns and the forests and the springing 
palms was just that vivid powdery green that one 
sees on a parrot's wings. The bay itself was 
paved with still water in colour like a huge 
emerald, and the coral-sand shore curved about 
it, white as a crescent moon. 

" It is very, very pretty, but not so pretty as 
my ' Banda Neira,' " said the girl, looking with 
wide, dark eyes at the scimitar-shaped beach, and 
the tall, leaning palms that hung over it. 

" Master, be good place this, but plenty bad 
boy he stop along here," declared Bo, raising 
himself from the bottom of the boat to look about 
him. " I no savvy that fellow bushman stop 
here. I too much fright along him." 

" By and by you too much fright along me ; 
you hold your tongue," was Gore's reply. I 
could see he did not want to alarm Isola unneces- 



Red Bob of the Bismareks 271 

sarily. Bo squatted on the gunwale, holding 
on with his black toes like a monkey, and stared 
hard at the place, as we came up. He was chew- 
ing tobacco, and he spat and spat continually in 
the water, with a vigour that seemed to be the 
expression of some unspoken feeling. 

Who does not know the New Britain and New 
Guinea natives does not know or guess how 
much can be expressed after this simple and 
disgusting fashion. Bo's spitting, it seemed to 
me, was of a kind entirely unfavourable to Neu 
Konigsbergshafen. 

There was a little pier of piled white coral 
rock built out into the deepest part of the bay. 
We ran the boat up to this, tied up, and most 
thankfully disembarked. Even two days in an 
open boat is enough to stiffen the limbs, and weary 
the mind with a feehng of confinement. Isola's 
first action on getting to shore was characteristic. 
She went straight to a frangipani tree, buried 
her face in its clusters of creamy, perfumed stars, 
and said, " The darlings ! how I have missed 
them ! " Her hands were full of blossoms in 
another minute ; she was sticking them in her 
hair, dropping them down her dress, smelling 
them, all but eating them. 

" Missus he plenty like along 'em frowers," 
observed Bo, looking at her in some astonishment 



272 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" That one he no good for kai-kai, Missus, one- 
fellow waster (oyster) he more better. Plenty 
stop." 

Indeed, the rocks up to high water were covered 
with fine edible oysters. Bo was anxious to stop 
and sample them at once, and we told him he 
might do so, as we wanted someone to stay with 
the boat while we went up to the plantation. 
New Britain natives are very thievish, and it was 
ten to one we might find all movables taken out 
of the yawl if we left her without any guard. 
So we gave Bo a tomahawk for protection, and 
charged him not to let any of the plantation boys 
approach the boat. 

" Of course, they're tamed and civilized boys 
on a plantation, more or less," said Gore ; " but 
I wouldn't trust them near my stores." 

We left the pier behind, passed through the 
belt of cocoanuts that circled the bay, and came 
out on a most lovely avenue of shorn grass, 
bordered by magnificent flowering trees. There 
were coral trees, like bouquets of scarlet geranium, 
forty feet high and fifty feet across ; kapok trees, 
with flowers like golden stars, and hard brown 
pods upon their branches, bursting open to show 
the silky- white cotton within. There were 
frangipanis, mangoes, green as nothing but a 
mango tree can be ; trees like an acacia, with 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 273 

drooping flowers of pink and white ; trees that 
I could not and cannot tell the name of, but 
that were as tall as an English lime, and had 
bunches of blossom like heliotrope in appearance, 
smelling like new-mown hay. All these had been 
planted about the same time, perhaps eight years 
before, and set in two orderly ranks along the 
cleared ground leading to the house. In the 
New Britain climate, five years will make you a 
glorious avenue at any time. This was more 
than glorious. We all exclaimed with ad- 
miration when we saw it. 

The walk up to the house was a pretty long one, 
and we had time to notice, as we went, that the 
place seemed to be holidaying, for not a boy was 
at work on any part of the plantation. The 
shining rows of coffee bushes looked rather ill- 
weeded ; somebody had carelessly abandoned 
hoes and clearing-knives here and there among 
them, and the iron was red with rust. Among 
the star-shaped avenues of rubber, radiating out 
towards the horizon every way one looked, 
there was no one busy tapping the trees ; no 
small white-metal cans were hung against the 
trunks, filling up with milky latex. The door 
of the copra house was shut ; a great heap of 
unopened cocoanuts was piled up against it. 
And still there were no boys. 

i8 



274 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

I began to feel that there was something about 
this I did not altogether like. 

We walked on up to the house, which was a 
neat little wooden bungalow with an iron roof 
hidden away in a cluster of mango trees. Here, 
at least, it seemed there was someone, for the 
door was open, and fowls were clucking and 
strutting about in a pleasant, homely way. Gore 
took a step aside, and cast a look at their feed- 
dish. It was empty and scraped, and the water 
trough had not a drop in it. 

" Wait a bit," he said, and carried the trough 
to a tank. The fowls collected about him, 
clucking wildly. He filled the trough, and they 
fought with one another to get at it. He stood 
watching them narrowly. 

" How kind you are to animals," said Isola, 
looking at him with simple admiration. 

" Do you think," she went on, putting her 
hand up to her head, which was covered only by 
a hat of rudely. plaited palm leaves, and looking 
down at her stained and tattered dress, " do you 
think Mr. Beyer's wife will be able to spare me 
some clothes ? I feel such a disgraceful object 
that I'm almost ashamed to go in and ask 
her ! " 

" Suppose you don't," said Gore, catching 
quickly at the suggestion '' Suppose you stop 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 275 

here for a minute with Corbet, while I go up 
to the house and tell the Beyers we're coming. 
Then, if you feel very badly about being seen by 
strangers in such a state, I'll bring you down 
a dress." 

" Thank you," said Isola. " How kind you 
always are ! " 

" Stay here with her," said Gore, throwing 
me a glance. I stayed. We sat down on the 
edge of the trough — for our legs felt shaky 
after the days in the boat — and I tried hard not 
to remain silent. I tried to talk about every- 
thing — about the avenue, the pretty situation 
of the house, the range of bright blue hills 
behind, the fowls, the rubber trees. . . . Isola 
kept breaking in with remarks about Beyer and 
his wife, what they could give us in the way of 
clothes and food, whether there would be a 
schooner along presently or not, but I talked 
fast and answered nothing. I think she must 
have felt me rather rude. 

Presently Gore came out of the verandah, and 
walked down the steps. He seemed out of breath, 
as if he had been doing hard work. 

" Lord, I am hot," he said, and made straight 
or the tank, where he stayed, running the water 
over his hands and arms for quite a little while. 
Then he came up to us. 

i8* 



276 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" I'm sorry to say," he said, " the Beyers 
aren't here. They seem to have gone away." 

" Gone ? Where to ? " asked Isola dis- 
appointedly. 

" I can't say. Gone for good, I should 
think." 

" Gone home, you mean ? " 

" I suppose so," said Gore, without looking 
at her. " Yes, I should think they have. The 
place will no doubt be taken over by someone 
else. It's disappointing, but people are apt to 
come and go suddenly in these places. It isn't 
as civilized as your Banda Neira." 

" What are we going to do ? " asked Isola. 
Her pretty, pale face was a shade paler with dis- 
appointment ; I could see how she had counted 
on this little oasis of civilization, though she was 
too plucky to complain when it was snatched 
from her. 

" Borrow a few things, and get back to the 
boat," answered Gore. " You can come in, 
if you like. The house is almost all locked 
up." 

I thought I had heard his feet tramping 
through more rooms than one while we were 
waiting outside, but I made no comment. I 
knew by some unnamed sense that Red Bob 
was anxious to have a word apart with me, and 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 277 

all my wits were engaged in getting it. Isola 
was walking up the path to the house, pausing 
now and then to admire the bushes of flowering 
plants that had been set on each side of the 
path. I stayed aside for a minute, and asked : 
" What is it ? " 

Gore, with his eyes narrowed till they looked 
more than ever like a cat's, told me in a word ; 
and the sunlight of the glorious day seemed to 
die out in horror as he spoke. 

" Beyer and his wife and child are murdered. 
. . . Must have been done about a week. I 
got the bodies into a back room, and locked the 
door. She needn't suspect anything. Take 
some clothes and food, and come as fast as you 
can lick down to the beach. I'm going to see 
if the boat's all right. We oughtn't to have 
left her, but one couldn't guess. . . . Keep 
Isola out of sight of the avenue. If the boat's 
all right, she need know nothing. Don't delay ; 
there's no knowing where they may be." 

With the last words on his lips he was away 
down the avenue again, running as few men of 
his height could have run. I followed Isola 
on to the verandah, full of uneasiness as to what 
she might see or suspect. But there was nothing. 
The living-room into which we entered was 
tidy ; the furniture undisturbed. This did not 



278 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

surprise me, as I knew that the natives would 
steal nothing but food and weapons ; but I 
feared to enter any of the bedrooms or pantries. 
And yet food was absolutely necessary if we 
were to continue our boat voyage round into the 
settled districts, perhaps weeks away. 

Isola, knowing nothing, ran in and out every- 
where, trying the locked doors, exploring the 
verandahs, and even, to my horror, peeping in 
through the closed windows here and there. 

" They've shut nearly everything up," she said, 
" but they are careless people ; they've left the 
sitting-room and pantry open. Or perhaps some 
of the boys got at the locks." 

" Take what you want in the way of clothes, 
and come on," I said. " Gore told us not to 
— ^not to — miss the tide." 

There was a heap of woman's apparel thrown 
down roughly in the sitting-room ; Gore, I 
judged, had put it there. While Isola was 
turning over the things, filling the deadly silence 
of the house with her gay chatter as she did so, 
I busied myself among the few things that were 
left in the pantry, and flung what I could get 
into an empty flour-bag. There was not much ; 
I could see the place had been looted, but the 
looting had been very hurriedly done, and there 
were^tins of one thing and another fallen behind 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 279 



parcels, or lying on the floor. I took them all, 
and stood a moment listening. The heat of 
the little iron room was terrible ; I had to mop 
the streams of perspiration that ran down my 
forehead as I stood. Isola had stopped talking ; 
I guessed she was trying on clothes. The fowls 
clucked and scratched in the yard ; a low-lying 
mango branch swept back and forwards upon 
the iron roof of the house with a sleepy, soothing 
noise. There was not a sound. I gathered 
up my sack and prepared to start. 

At that moment I heard a fierce, indignant 
shriek from a big sweet-chestnut tree near the 
house — the cry of the white cockatoo that is 
common in all these islands. I remembered 
that these wild cockatoos always cry out at the 
approach of strangers. Were strangers approach- 
ing, and who ? 

" Come on," I said to Isola. " I can't wait 
another minute. Gather up your things ; we'll 
have to trot." I was in agony to get her out 
of the place. 

" What a nuisance you and your tides are ! " 
she answered playfully. " Well, I'm not sorry 
to get out of the place, for it's the stuffiest house 
I ever was in. I don't think your Germans can 
have kept it very clean. Pooh ! " She wrinkled 
up her nose. 



280 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" Come on, come on," I said. " We'll take 
hands and run." 

We did, carrying our loot in each disengaged 
hand ; Isola, strange to say, suspected nothing. 
She told me afterwards that she thought there 
might be another " gooba " coming, and that 
we were anxious to get off without alarming her. 
At all events, she half ran, half walked with me 
all the way down to the beach, and asked no 
questions. 

We were met by Gore. His face was so 
impenetrable that I knew disaster had struck us 
yet again. 

" Where's the boat ? " I asked. 

" Gone," he replied. " No trace of Bo 
either. Clear case of New Britain natives on 
the job." 

" What are we going to do ? " I asked, feeling 
that we were indeed in a very tight place. Isola 
looked inquiringly from one to the other. 

" We have the choice of two things," said 
Gore. " Stay here till the inquiry comes along, 
which may be to-morrow, and may be in six 
months ; or start and walk to the nearest settle- 
ment." 

Isola still watched our faces. She saw by this 
time that something had happened ; but she 
had been through too much in the last few weeks 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 281 

to make the woman's common mistake of asking 
premature questions. 

" How far would that be ? " I asked. 

" I think about a hundred and twenty miles." 

" Is there any road ? " 

" No. Couldn't keep on the shore all the 
way ; we'd have to branch inland every now and 
then. There's a third way, but ... It would 
be a big job." 

" If you are thinking of me," said Isola, speak- 
ing for the first time ; " you needn't be uneasy. 
I can walk splendidly, and I will do anything 
you tell me." 

" Well, then ! " said Red Bob, glancing at her 
approvingly, " we'll chance it. If we can do 
something between thirty and forty miles of 
bush, mostly unknown, in the few days before our 
provisions give out, we can come down on one of 
the settled districts at the other side of the island. 
It takes one through country that has a pretty 
bad reputation, but " 

" If Mr. Corbet is with me — and you, of 
course," broke in Isola, " I'm not afraid of any- 
thing. Paul is so brave. And, of course, so 
are you." 

Even in the straits we were in Red Bob's eyes 
twinkled a little over her " of course." 

" We'll do our little best," he said. He took 



282 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

out his compass, and looked long and thought- 
fully at the blue range lifting above us. 

" I see the pass," he pronounced. " Lucky 
for me I have New Britain in my head. . . • 
Well, little lady, you're going to be an explorer, 
it seems. Few women have so much luck." 

" When shall we start ? " she asked. " Do 
you mean to go right off to-morrow ? " 

" I mean to look for the boat, and if we don't 
find it, go now," answered Bob. " I have an 
idea that this is not exactly a healthy place to 
stop in." 

He forgot, I think, the quickness of the mind 
he was dealing with. Isola turned pale, and 
looked at him. 

" Mr. Gore, did you tell me the truth about 
those Beyers ? " she asked. 

" I did." 

" That they had gone home ? " 

" Yes. Don't you worry about them." 

" What — home did you mean ? " 

" The one you do," said Gore, giving in to 
the inevitable. " Now, now ! who's going to 
cry ? Where's our brave explorer who is afraid 
of nothing ? We can't help them ; their troubles 
are over. We've ourselves to look after." 

" I didn't mean to," said the girl, struggling 
against the horror of the situation, " but you 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 283 

don't know — there was a baby's little shoe among 
the things. Did they " 

" Yes," said Gore plainly. " That's enough. 
Think no more about it. Come here and help 
Corbet and me to sort out our provisions." 

She choked a little in her handkerchief, and 
then pulled herself together bravely, and began 
to lay out the stores on the flat sand of the beach. 
We looked at them critically. There was enough 
and to spare, as far as loading went ; whether 
enough for our journey, time alone could tell. 

Gore divided the tent caHco, the axes, the 
meat and biscuits carefully, loading himself 
with forty pounds of food and me with twenty- 
five. I had found a few boxes of cartridges 
among the things abandoned in the pantry, and 
these we divided between us. Isola, at her earnest 
request, was given the three blankets to carry. 

" I could carry twice that load, and not feel 
it," I told Red Bob. 

" Could you ? " he said dryly. " You don't 
know much about conditions for travel in this 
part of the world. That delusion of being able 
to do one's own carrying has made a good few 
graves in the bush, over Papuasia. You take my 
word for it, you've got all you'll want there." 

We had worked as rapidly as we could, while 
we were talking, and our packs were ready in a 



284 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

few minutes. Our arms consisted of two re- 
volvers — Gore's and Isola's, which I carried 
now ; a tomahawk apiece, and a knife in each of 
our belts. We had each a husked cocoanut 
for drinking and for carrying water in later on. 
Our venture was in truth a desperate one, but 
all that forethought could do, under the circum- 
stances, had been done. It only remained to 
search for the boat — a forlorn hope indeed. 
While Gore went off to look, I stayed with Isola. 
I think none of us were surprised when he 
returned an hour later with a sinister piece of 
news. The yawl was beached half a mile down, 
and burned to ashes. 

We were standing on the beach when the 
preparations were completed ; the sun was 
climbing down the western sky, and the waters 
of the bay, cool green in the morning, were now 
one sheet of blazing brass. There was not a 
breath of wind to stir the drooping plumes of 
the palm trees ; in the shallow water near the 
shore you could see them reflected as in a glass. 
It was astonishingly quiet ; even the birds in 
the forest seemed to have ceased their chuckling 
and calling, and the frogs in the marshy ground 
below the palms, that had been bleating to each 
other like goats when we came in, were now 
still as death. 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 285 

We stood and listened, and then from far off 
came a sound that made my blood crisp in my 
veins. It was only the call of a cockatoo — an 
angry, frightened scream — but I knew, or thought 
I did, what it portended. So did Red Bob ; 
he swung round and led the way into the forest 
without another word. 



" Paul 1 " said a soft voice, almost in my ear. 

I turned and saw Isola, like a dim ghost in the 
dawn, wrapped in her blanket, and standing close 
behind me. It was my watch, the last of the 
night. Day was coming quickly. The fire of 
the evening before, dead out, looked like a snow- 
drift of ash beneath its sheltering log ; the pale 
bamboo trunks showed like frosted silver. It 
was a grey, ghostly hour, up here in the heart 
of the unknown New Britain ranges, with the 
memory of hardships and dangers scarcely passed 
behind us, and the thought of new perils to 
confront us with the coming day. 

" What is it ? " I answered, laying my hand 
instinctively on the butt of the revolver I wore 
night and day. 

" I am almost sure," she said, " that there's 
someone hidden back in the bamboos. I heard 
a creeping sound — didn't you ? " 



286 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" I thought so, but 1 couldn't be sure," I 
answered. In these last few nights, when Gore 
and I took turns to keep watch and watch over 
our camp, I had learned what all night sentries 
know — that you are apt occasionally to hear 
sounds that do not exist. I had been listening 
to the sound mentioned by Isola for some time, 
and really could not make up my mind whether it 
was fancy or not. But her words solved the doubt. 

" Wake up Gore quietly," I said, covering 
the clump of bamboo with my pistol. I heard 
her steal behind me ; no other sound reached 
my ear, but in two seconds Red Bob was standing 
beside me, awake and ready. 

" Natives ? " he said, in an almost soundless 
whisper. 

" I think so," I answered. We both remained 
motionless for a minute or two, and then the 
creeping sound began again. It seemed decidedly 
nearer. 

" Don't fire," whispered Gore. " Stop where 
you are." 

He Hstened again, bent forward like a wild 
cat about to spring, and then made one tre- 
mendous leap right into the brushwood. 

The young bamboos cracked under his weight 
like pencils ; the feathery foliage parted like 
a wave when a diver springs into it head fore- 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 287 

most. A fearful yell followed his leap, and a 
struggle instantly began among the leaves, shaking 
the bamboo clump to the very top of its limber, 
hundred-foot-high stems. I could see black 
legs waving among the green, but I did not 
dare to fire, for fear I might hit Gore himself ; 
the white and black seemed inextricably tied up 
together. . . . Backwards, like a tarantula drag- 
ging a hornet to its den, came Red Bob out of 
the bush, hauling at something — something 
black and very much agitated — something that 
fought hard and howled loudly, first in native 
and then in pigeon-English : 

" Master ! master ! you lettem me go ! Master, 
I no stealem you boat ! You no killem me ! " 

It was Bo ! 

Gore let go his legs, and he tumbled on the 
ground, a heap of misery and fright. I suppose 
we must have been a hard-hearted lot, for we all 
three burst out laughing. It was the first laugh 
we had enjoyed for many a day, and I think it 
did us good. It seemed to do Bo some good, too, 
for he sat up, dashed his bison-like shock of hair 
out of his eyes, and said : 

" You givem kai-kai, you givem kobacco. Me 
want." 

" You talk first," said Gore, standing over him. 
** What for you steal my boat ? " 



288 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" Fore God, master, I no stealem one-fellow 
boat belong you. That black swine he stealem. 
I no savvy fight that fellow, I see him come, very 
quick I go another-fellow place. I think, more 
better for me." 

" Where he take my boat ? " 

" He puttem fire along him, burn him alto- 
gether. By-n-by he want to come back, kai- 
kai altogether master, but master he been go away 
too quick. Me come behind master all a way. 
Me too much hungry, no catchem plenty thing 
along booss." 

It was getting light by now ; one could see 
the shining of the dew on the bamboo stems, 
fine as hoar-frost on a pane ; and the great flags 
of the wild bananas glittered like a green velvet 
robe a-sprinkle with diamonds. We had camped 
for the night in a small bit of clearing on the top 
of a ridge ; and now that the sun was up, we could 
see, through gaps in the netted foliage, a wonder- 
ful ocean of softly-swelling ranges, blue and 
purple and warm green, thickly forested, like 
those through which we had been cutting and 
crawling our painful way for a whole toilsome 
week ; furrowed deeply with river gorges and 
here and there showing park-like spaces dotted 
with solitary, stately trees, and clothed with 
richest grass. One could hardlv believe that 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 289 

some of these lovely lawns were not the work of 
men — white men — and that one would not see, 
by and by, some castled wall peeping up among 
the swelling trees, or hear the sound of a hunting- 
horn winding among the glades where the rivers 
ran. 

And yet ... no white man's eyes had looked 
upon these hills and valleys until this day ; and 
it was above all things likely that no others would 
look upon them for many a year to come. We 
knew what the barriers were through which we 
had passed so far ; how that hard week's journey- 
ing, on carefully doled-out food, had carried us 
scarce twenty miles of the five-and-thirty we had 
to cover ; how we had climbed slowly up and 
down endless heights, cutting our way step by 
step with the knives carried by Gore and myself ; 
how we had tried for an easy road up river-beds, 
and been turned back ; how we had been bogged 
in sago swamps full of leeches and alligators, and 
crossed river after river, dangerously, on single 
logs thrown from bank to bank. These were 
obstacles indeed ; and yet the worst was still 
before us. The country ahead was the district 
of the most danger, though easier to traverse 
than that through which we had passed, was the 
district of the most dangerous natives in New 
Britain — natives who had massacred and killed 

«9 



290 Red Bob of the Bismareks 

more than one party of missionaries and recruit- 
ers — and we could scarcely hope to avoid coming 
into collision with them. So far, through Gore's 
wonderful knowledge of New Britain (scanty as 
it was, it was more than any other white man at 
that time possessed), we had been able to pick out 
a route that took us through thinly inhabited 
places, and the few natives we had seen had not 
been hostile — indeed, they had been willing to 
trade a little, and had sold us certain invaluable 
bundles of yams for a little of our tobacco. 
But now we were approaching the districts that 
were specially fertile and desirable, according 
to native ideas, and we knew well that there would 
in all probability be trouble before we got across 
to the white men's settlements. 

Under the circumstances. Bo was really a 
godsend. He was not to be trusted for guard 
duty, but he could carry, get water, build fires, 
and in other ways save Gore and myself from 
unnecessary work ; a matter of much import- 
ance, when each one of us was going simply 
" on his pluck," as they used to say — how long 
ago it seemed ! — in Flanagan's gymnasium where 
the fights came off. 

If I said that Isola had kept her beauty through 
this terrible march I should be telling a lie. 
She had not ; she was thin, worn, and yellow. 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 291 

No woman can keep her looks when she is worked 
to the uttermost point, and poorly fed to boot. 
For the sake of the whole party, Gore had asked 
from her the uttermost she could do, since her 
pace must necessarily be the pace of all, and she 
had nobly responded. Not a word of complaint 
had left her lips since we started, even though 
I knew her to be so weary every night that she 
moaned and sighed in her sleep. 

I should never have had the heart to drive her 
on as Red Bob did — to see her stumble with 
weariness when we came near camping-time, 
and to take her by the hand and simply help her 
on, instead of letting her lie down and rest, as 
her tired, dark eyes so eloquently begged she might 
do— to wake her in the morning if she slept long, 
through fatigue, and tell her that she must be up 
and going. . . . Yet I knew it to be necessary. 
If our small stock of food ran out, we should be 
compelled to seek the native villages, and trade 
with them ; and that was a resort so desperate 
that any alternative was safer. 

A week ago I should have said that I would 
carry Isola if necessary — carry her from one side 
of New Britain to the other. Was I not young 
and strong, and could I not have run round the 
whole of Schouten's island with her small, light 
figure in my arms, if I had wished ? 



292 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

But I had learned what Red Bob meant when 
he spoke of the difficulty of doing your own 
carrying in Papuasia. In those steaming 
thickets and swamps, where sweat poured down 
your back, and into your eyes, all day long, and 
your clothes were soaked through from dawn 
to dusk — up those terrible precipices, where you 
hung on by trailing vines, and crept slowly from 
peak to peak of stone — through the river-beds, 
jumping from stone to stone till every muscle 
cried out in weariness, even a twenty-five pound 
load, made up to thirty by weapons and car- 
tridges, was hatefully, miserably heavy. Our 
loads lessened as we went on, since we ate our 
meat and biscuits day by day ; but the canvas 
that we stretched for a tent at night to keep off 
the furious mountain rains, and the knives for 
trade, and our few clothes and belongings re- 
mained. . . . Long before we had crossed the 
first of the many ranges that rose behind the 
coast I had come to the conclusion that carrying 
in tropic climates was a job for niggers, and for 
no one else. We had taken even the blankets 
from Isola after the first hour's walk — taken her 
small parcel of clothing, which she declared 
weighed nothing at all. She was anxious to be 
allowed to help, if ever so little, but we knew 
better than to let her. 



Red Bob of the Bismareks 293 

And now here was Bo, good for a fifty-pound 
load, if needs were, not affected by the cHmate, 
not particularly Hable to fever (Gore had dosed 
us with five grains of quinine regularly every 
day, and it had so far kept off malaria, but there 
was no knowing how long that would last, for we 
were terribly tormented by mosquitoes at night), 
and exceedingly anxious to join himself to our 
party again. 

We accepted him readily, gave him a portion 
of our small stock of food, and the tobacco he 
begged for, and asked him questions about the 
natives who had taken our boat. But he had 
little to tell, having bolted into the bush at the 
first sign of danger. It seemed clear, however, 
that the band who burned the boat were the same 
lot who had murdered Beyer and his wife and 
child a few days before ; and so far as we could 
make out, they were the plantation boys them- 
selves — Beyer having made the mistake of recruit- 
ing his labour in his own neighbourhood. It is 
a cheap and easy plan, but one that many planters 
have found only too dear in the end. 

Bo did not know the country we were passing 
through, but he informed us that the " boy who 
stop out there," pointing to the ranges ahead, 
was " countryman belong him," and that he could 
get us safely through, supposing his tribe were not 



294 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" making dance." If they were, he thought 
there might be some difficulty. 

We were too glad to have a guide and inter- 
preter, however, to trouble much over details, 
and that day's walk was begun with better spirits 
than any of us had known since starting. . . . 
If we could have seen the end ! . . . 

Bo, laden with most of our goods, and carrying 
them with an ease that I felt to be almost a per- 
sonal insult, marched first, down the thickly 
forested slope that led to the first river valley, 
slashing the way open as he went with his big 
clearing-knife. Isola came after, very pale and 
thin, but with the same brave light always in her 
eyes and a step that had grown more active than 
ever in this last week of hard climbing. Her 
dress, kilted up above the kne^, was a mass of rags ; 
her head was protected by a sort of mat of 
plaited palm, and her hair, beginning to grow 
again, was tied up in a tight bunch of curls at the 
back of her head, so that the lawyer vines and 
thorny-edged palm leaves should not catch and 
tear it as she went. I followed her, and Red 
Bob came last ; in places like the interior of 
New Britain, you put your best man in the 
rear, and Red Bob never made any bones about 
classifying himself as the best of the party. 

I don't know whether we were all " fey," or 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 295 

not, but the fact remains that we were amaz- 
ingly cheerful through that day and on the next 
one too. Bo seemed, in spite of his disclaimer, 
to know or guess something about the country 
for on the second morning he led us to a place 
that none of us would have found without his 
help — a narrow, rocky ravine that seemed to 
promise nothing, but that widened out by 
degrees into a deep canon, trending towards the 
point of the compass where we wanted to go, 
and in that pathless land making the best path 
we had enjoyed since we started. Of course 
there was a river at the bottom of the canon, and 
of course we had to jump and wade, and go round 
spits of land ; but we got on. By the time it was 
late enough to begin looking about for a camping- 
place, we had covered about seven miles, accord- 
ing to Red Bob — far and away the best day's 
work we had done — and the settled districts, so 
we calculated, were no more than two days' 
march away — perhaps even less ; it all depended 
on the sort of road we got. 

Making camp in the wilderness, one does not 
wait for dark, or even dusk. While the sun is 
yet well above the horizon, one must begin to 
look about ; to find some spot where there is 
water within reasonable distance, where there is 
ground suitable for pitching a tent, and where 



296 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

you can find shelter from a possible storm, 
without closing yourself in so much as to be 
easily taken by a rush of enemies. 

We began looking early, but no suitable spot 
appeared at once. As the sun slipped down the 
sky, with the dismaying speed it always shows 
when you are counting every minute of light, 
we looked more and more eagerly, but still the 
forested slopes that had followed on the canon 
continued, and still there was not a place where 
one could have pitched a tent. But all of a 
sudden, just as Red Bob was making up his mind, 
I think, to camp on a slope rather than to go on 
any further, we came upon a tableland of open 
grass, scattered with just a few large trees, and 
sloping a little down to a central stream. 

" Might have been made for us," said Gore, 
shading his eyes from the dropping sun with one 
hand, while he looked at the little plain. 
" Camp in the middle of those trees nicely. 
No chance of a sudden surprise. Stir yourselves 
and come on ; it's farther than it looks." 

We stirred ourselves to some purpose, and 
reached the clump of big trees in a few minutes. 
Beyond it, only a little way off across the grass, 
came the forest again ; on one side, not the side 
we were approaching, was a bright green, marshy 
patch of land, on which, as we came up, the 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 297 

declining sun seemed to cast strange shadows. 
. . . Were they queer plants that were growing 
there, among the mud and water ? Were they 
the remains of buried or cut-down trees, with 
long stiff branches still remaining ? Were 
they 

" Run ! " said Gore suddenly, picking up 
Isola like a Sabine wife or a sack of potatoes, and 
slinging her across his shoulder. He began to 
run as he spoke, rapidly covering the ground in 
the direction of the forest, and glancing over his 
shoulder now and then as he ran. I saw he had 
got his revolver in his hand. . . . 

I looked behind me — it was time — and I saw 
that the strange things in the marsh had risen up 
with one accord, and were charging towards us, 
and that they were neither plants nor trees, but 
buffaloes — big grey buffaloes with spear-like 
horns a good two yards across. 

*' They are escapes," I thought, as I took to 
my heels. Bo running and yelling behind me. 
'' Escapes from the settlements — wild for years. 
. . . You cannot stop a charging buffalo. . . . 
They will follow you till they kill. 

" But all the same," my thoughts ran, " one 
must have a shot. Ah ! " Gore had fired as he 
ran, I don't know how. His shot hit a big bull, 
and it roared like the Last Trump, fell on one 



298 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

knee, got up again, and came thundering on, 
snorting " Och ! och ! " as it went, and fully 
determined to exact vengeance. 

I am a good shot — perhaps I have said so before 
— but I am not at my best running hard, with or 
without a girl over my shoulder. I will freely 
allow I could not have hit that bull as Gore hit 
it. But I knew I could " dead him," as Toddie 
would have said, if I stopped ; so I did stop, and 
put a .45 bullet through his eye. You should 
have heard the crash he made as he dropped ; 
he almost turned a somersault. I had to run 
faster now — I couldn't ; yet I did — and reach 
cover before the others came along ; they were 
coming fast. I couldn't see where Red Bob 
and his burden had gone to, and the light was 
failing, but I caught sight of a narrow opening in 
the forest, and made for it. . . . It was a track ; 
at any other moment I should have thought of 
what the track meant and avoided it, or at least 
followed it cautiously. But you cannot be 
cautious with a herd of furious buffalo galloping 
at your heels. I made along the track as fast as 
I could, through the growing gloom of the 
sunset ; saw a rocky cliff rise up in front of me ; 
noticed that it had steps hewn in the rock, 
scrambled up the steps like a monkey (they were 
not exactly on the pattern of a villa staircase), 



Red Bob of the Bismareks 299 

and found myself, with Bo behind me, on the top 
of the rocky plateau, and right in the heart of the 
one thing we had been trying to avoid all along — 
a New Britain native village. 

At first the buffaloes continued to occupy 
my thoughts. I looked down and saw that the 
herd had gone " Och "-ing and trampling by, 
and also that there was no possible means by 
which they could get up the rock, which seemed 
to me a natural fortress of a very high order. 
Then I looked about me, and realized, with a 
jump of the heart, that we were " in for it." 

Crowds of savages were collecting from every 
side. Gore and Isola — who was on her feet 
again — ^were surrounded by a crowd of creatures 
more like wild beasts than human beings — things 
with fiery eyes and huge monkey lips ; things 
dressed in mere fringes of bark and leaves, and 
wearing necklaces of dogs' teeth and human 
teeth about their necks. Another crowd had 
collected about myself, and six or seven were 
hanging round Bo, pinching his arms and legs. 
I do not think it was the trifling pain caused by 
this operation that induced our solitary carrier 
to howl as he did ; probably he knew that the 
pinching betokened more interest in his physical 
condition than a kindly hospitality could 
account for. 



' • • • 



CHAPTER XII 

SINCE they did not seem to be doing any 
harm to our carrier, beyond pinching him 
to see how much fat he had on him, I left 
him to himself for the present, and joined Red 
Bob and Isola, who were standing together 
in the middle of the village. A crowd of chatter- 
ing natives had collected about them, and were 
shoving and fingering them more than can have 
been pleasant — the women were especially annoy- 
ing in their attempts to snatch away various 
pieces of clothing from Isola — but so far no 
attack had been made, and none seemed in 
contemplation. 

" Can we get quietly away, do you think ? " 
I asked Red Bob. 

" We'll try," he said, with a cheerful 
countenance. 

I looked round the open space, dotted with 
huts, that seemed to constitute the village ; 
it was small enough in all conscience — I do not 
think there were twenty houses scattered about 

300 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 301 

the clearing — but I saw, at a rough guess, that 
there must be near two hundred men present, 
with thirty or forty women. Plainly, we had 
intruded on some sort of a gathering ; a savage 
" at home," including all the " people who 
belonged " in the immediate neighbourhood. 
The village was in every way inferior to the 
wonderful native towns of New Guinea, of 
which I had seen one or two at Geelvink Bay. 
Here were no stately assembly-houses, eighty 
feet from floor to ridge-pole, built with curious 
towers and spires and deep verandahs, and all 
made out of forest material, without so much as 
one European nail used from start to finish. 
Here were no long streets as wide as Piccadilly, 
with fine, verandahed houses set at regular 
intervals, and beautiful, red-foliaged trees planted 
in between. Before us, in this typical New 
Britain town, was simply a huddle of brown 
roofs set almost on the ground, rubbish scattered 
everywhere, dogs and pigs scampering freely 
about. 

Ugly black women, shockingly dirty and 
clothed only in a ragged fringe of leaves, were 
walking about with babies like monkeys held 
in their arms, or slung on their backs in a net. 
Men, short, hairy, and sturdy, with eyes sunk 
under deep eaves of heavy brow, and a strange, 



302 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

half-startled, half-fierce expression, which I was 
to know hereafter as the typical look of the canni- 
bal, stood in herded groups like wild animals, 
and stared ceaselessly. A few in the crowd 
about us fingered their long ironwood spears 
and kept their hands set tight on their great 
bows — weapons such as those the English fought 
with at Crecy and Agincourt, and to the full as 
deadly. 

" Don't you mind them," I said to Isola, 
taking my place at her side, and — I fear — almost 
pushing Gore away — for I could not bear to 
think that any other man than myself was pro- 
tecting her. " You need never be uneasy about 
natives as long as their women are kept in sight. 
That's so, isn't it ? " 

" It is," said Red Bob. " Is that black donkey 
of yours able to talk to them .? " 

" Bo, can you talk along this fellow } " I asked, 
pulling him away from what looked like rather 
rough usage on the part of the natives. 

" Fore God, master, I no savvy him talk," 
declared Bo, the whites of his eyes rolling with 
fear. " Altogether I no savvy him ; he no my 
people. This fellow man he plenty bad man. 
Me too much fright along him." 

It had grown quite dark by now, but the 
cooking-fires which had been lit ail over the 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 303 

village showed the place clearly enough. The 
women were busy burying yams and sweet 
potatoes among hot stones ; there were great 
piles of bananas heaped together here and there, 
and some kind of mess was being concocted in 
wooden bowls. The amount of food that had 
been collected, the coloured leaves, flowers and 
feathers worn in the heads of the men, and 
especially the number of people all collected 
together, seemed to point to a public feast. 
In the glare of the cooking-fires the wild black 
figures went constantly to and fro, and I could 
see that they were getting a good deal excited — 
whether in prospect of the food or in prospect 
of something else I could not tell. Red Bob 
and Isola and I stood bunched together, with 
that unlucky craven Bo sniffling on the ground 
at our feet ; he had made up his mind at once 
that it was all up with the party, and was evidently 
prepared for the worst. 

" Can we get away ? " asked Isola of Gore. 
She kept her head and her courage wonderfully, 
but I felt her hand — her poor little roughened, 
sunburned hand — steal into mine and stay there. 

Red Bob, as calm as if he had been on the deck 
of the Empress of Singapore in Liverpool docks, 
stood rolling a cigarette and looking about him. 

''If they don't seem likely to show fight, I 



304 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

think we can," he said. " Corbet, have you a 
match left ? Thanks. . . . We can't attempt 
to fight our way out. Two guns against two 
hundred bows and spears is not impossible odds 
in daylight with a clear get-away. In the dark, 
surrounded by bush you don't know, it's in- 
sanity. No, our game for the present is peace. 
Keep edging towards the entrance, talking as 
we go." 

We did as he directed. We were standing some 
fifty yards from the rock staircase that led up 
into the town. Step by step we strolled towards 
it, stopping altogether now and then, talking as 
we went, and looking at the preparations for the 
feast and the dance with an interest that I, 
at any rate, certainly did not feel. But before 
we had covered half the distance a party of 
young fighting men, armed with bows taller 
than themselves, had strolled between us and 
the opening. 

" May be chance ; keep going," said Gore. 
We edged along till we were close to the band 
of warriors, who looked very ugly when you came 
near them, and — I must say it — smelt, like 
KipHng's camel, " most awful vile." The fire- 
light, leaping high, flickered on their plumy 
headdresses, and shone from the white necklaces 
of teeth they wore. I could not help wondering 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 305 

where the teeth came from, and whose would 
form the next row in those ghastly adornments. 

Quietly and politely, we tried to press through 
their ranks ; at least, Gore and I did, keeping 
Isola behind us. I could feel her trembhng, 
but she did not say a word. 

The warriors did not move. At first they 
seemed unaware that we were trying to get 
through ; they shifted and shuffled about in 
such a way as to block us, and yet it seemed all 
done by accident. Then Gore took one Hghtly 
by the arm, and tried to press him aside. In- 
stantly, as if that had been a signal, the whole 
body of them — some forty or fifty — massed 
themselves in front of the opening, thumped 
the ends of their great bows on the ground, and 
set forth one loud shout. 

We were prisoners. 

Quietly, without any appearance of hurry, 
Red Bob drew us back towards the centre of the 
square. I kept tight hold of Isola. She put 
her head close to mine for a moment, and 
whispered to me : 

" Paul, will you shoot me before you die your- 
self ? Will you promise ? " 

" I promise," I answered. " But it won't be 
necessary ; none of us are going to die." 

She was silent. 

20 



306 Red Bob of the Bismareks 

" Bluff it out till daylight ; that's our best 
plan," said Gore cheerily. " See me get some 
supper out of those fellows. Now, don't you 
worry, little girl ; I know the brutes, and they've 
no mischief in their heads at this minute. Look 
at the women and children. They're keeping 
us for some reason of their own — blessed if I know 
what it is at this minute, but I'll find out. I 
know enough sign language to do that. Here, 
you, Paul, kick that beggar till he stops howling ; 
it isn't healthy for any of us — and look after your 
girl till I see the chief. That's the fellow over 
there, I reckon." 

He strode across the square and walked in 
among the biggest group of savages, a crowd of 
men more highly painted and decorated than the 
rest, who had massed themselves about one 
tallish, elderly man. His air of confidence seemed 
to impress them, and they drew aside to let him 
pass. I saw him take the handkerchief from his 
neck — a dirty rag enough, but red in colour, 
and colour goes a long way with niggers — and 
present it to the chief with the air of one offer- 
ing a noble gift. The elderly man took it, smelt 
it, touched it with his tongue, and then twisted 
it about his head. The other natives closed in 
round them after this, and I could see little, but 
I thought that Gore was gesticulating with his 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 307 

hands, and making signs, and that there was a 
good deal of general chattering among the group. 

By and by he came back, walking across the 
square with the easy, care-free step of a man who 
has not a trouble in the world. 

" I made out something," he reported. " I 
know a few words of several of these confounded 
dialects of theirs. Sign business helped it along, 
too. It's pretty mysterious ; dashed if I can 
make it all out. They told me there was very 
big fighting in the places where the white men 
were, and that everybody was going to be killed 
with guns. That was easy to make out — even 
you could have done it " — Red Bob never forgot 
to keep down what he was pleased to call my 
" fine natural sense of self-appreciation " — " but 
the next bit was a teaser. He made the sign 
for innocence again and again, and I believe he 
meant it. Unless the Germans have gone mad, 
and are killing the natives for fun — which isn't 
likely, considering that they are the biggest 
asset of the country — I can't make it out." 

" Make Bo have a try," I suggested. " His 
language must be fairly near theirs as he isn't 
twenty miles from his own place." 

We had some trouble in kicking him up off 
the ground and setting him to work ; in fact, 
it took the muzzle of my revolver to persuade 

20* 



308 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

him — but in the end he gave in and, trembhng 
all over, tried his linguistic acquirements on 
the chief. His report wsls that all the white 
men were killing everybody, and the chief of 
the town thought we had been sent to kill him. 
It was apparently his intention to keep us under 
observation for a little while and if no reinforce- 
ments followed us, Bo thought he would probably 
give orders to have the party eaten. 

" Good hearing," said Red Bob. " I don't 
know what the row can be down on the coast — 
sounds as if all New Britain had risen together — 
but whatever it is, there seems to be so much 
shooting going on that this beast of a chief is 
afraid to attack us right away. Isola, my dear, 
we'll get out of this all right ; there's twice the 
chance I thought there was five minutes ago. 
Now for supper. Corbet, I'll do the looking- 
out while you go among those women and 
take what you think is a fair share of yams and 
potatoes ; don't ask, just lift what you need." 

I put the boldest face on that I could, walked 
in among the women — ^what hideous old hags 
they were, one and all ! — and loaded myself 
with food. No objection was made, but the old 
beldames sat back on their haunches and stared 
at me with a kind of cruel curiosity that I did 
not altogether care for. It seemed almost as 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 309 

if they knew a lot of unpleasant things about 
me and about my party that they didn't choose 
to say. 

We sat down on the ground and ate, leaving 
our own stores unopened, by Red Bob's advice. 

" Trouble among natives, eight cases out of 
ten," he said, " begins by looting. We won't 
tempt them." 

For many a night after, if I opened my eyes 
in the dark, I used to see that scene ; the v^dld, 
cannibal village, with the black figures coming 
and going in the red glare of the fires ; walls 
of dark foliage almost meeting overhead ; 
columns of smoke curling up among the branches 
as one and another of the natives threw on more 
fuel, working the blaze up ever higher and higher 
— for what .? . . . 

I remember even the smell of the place — the 
odour of damp grass thatch and trampled dust, 
of spicy leaves and gums in the forest ; of sweet 
potatoes crumbling in hot ashes, mingling with 
the horrible insanitary odours that haunt all 
native villages. I remember the yelps that the 
savages began to give as they worked themselves 
up for the dance ; the drugging, benumbing 
beat of the drums, the sudden bursts of wolf- 
like howling that began among the dogs hidden 
under the houses. . . . Were they expecting 



310 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

to be fed ? I remember, best of all, beside me 
in the dusk, the small, white face of Isola, and 
the clasped hands that told me she was praying ; 
and above all the fire and the fury down below, 
the far, high stillness of the stars. 

Not that I felt for a moment we had come to 
praying and resigning. Like Dame Quickly, 
I thought there was no need to trouble ourselves 
about such things — yet. 

We were hardly through our meal when a man 
advanced towards us, holding a green branch 
in his hand — the sign of peace. He motioned 
us to get up and follow him. I saw Gore 
calculating the chances of making a rush, but the 
square was hemmed in two deep with fighting 
men, and what we might have attempted as 
a forlorn hope, had we been alone, could not 
be thought of when Isola was there too. We 
followed the man to a house near one end of 
the village, a low, thatched building with walls 
of sago palm, and pointed grass roof. It had 
a door but no windows, after the fashion of their 
houses. Into this retreat he led us, showing 
the way with a torch, and when he had seen all 
four safely inside, he went away, shutting the 
door behind him. 

It was, of course, contemptible, viewed in the 
light of a prison. Anyone could have cut a 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 311 

way out in five minutes with a penknife. But 
I judged that our guards were to be the village 
itself, and it was not likely that they would permit 
us to escape. 

Bo, lying on the ground, gave way to tears 
again, and expressed his opinion that we were all 
going to be eaten, just like pigs. Gore and I 
discussed the situation, but we could only arrive 
at one conclusion — that we were being held in 
some way as hostages, and that if the trouble 
which had evidently occurred on a large scale 
further on turned against our hosts, we might, 
as Gore put it, look out for squalls. 

" I don't like their dancing," he said. " Nasty 
beggars when they dance. Get all worked up. 
Is there any more tobacco ? " 

" One small piece," I said. 

" I need it," said Gore. " I want to think. 
Don't you chatter for a bit, Paul, or you, Isola. 
All you flappers are terrible chatterboxes. Don't 
flap ; go to sleep. You may want it." 

He leaned up comfortably against the sago 
wall ; smoked, and fixed his eyes on the low 
ceiling. 

Meantime, in the square outside something 
new was preparing, and it sounded, to my in- 
experienced ears, as if half a dozen liners with 
syrens in good order, and fifty strong donkeys 



812 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

in fine voice, had entered the village and begun 
a competition against one another. The most 
extraordinary bellows and brays w^ere arising from 
outside. " Oom, oom, oom ! " came something 
like the whistle of the Oceanic ; then, " Ai-ai, 
ai-ai ! " in a higher note, then a wild burst of 
" Oomty-ai, oomty-ai ! " leaping from the 
lowest note to the highest, while all the time the 
spectral donkeys kept up a steady " Honk-ee, 
honk-ee ! " and something sharp and thin as the 
note of a policeman's whistle kept shrilling far 
above the rest. 

" Lord, I must have a look at this ! " I ex- 
claimed. " Gore, you must be made of wood if 
you don't want to know what that is." 

" I knew you couldn't keep from chattering 
for five minutes if you tried," was his reply. 
" Think I've never seen a New Britain dance 
before, or heard one ? That's bamboos." 

I really thought he was making fun of me, 
even in our serious straits, until I got my eye to 
a crack in the flimsy sago sheath door, and saw 
that nearly every man in the place had got either 
a set of pan-pipes made of different lengths of 
bamboo, or a single long pipe, or else a section of 
bamboo trunk as big round as a main drain-pipe 
— these last furnishing the extraordinary booming 
noises that dominated all the rest. The savages 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 313 



were dancing as they played — dancing in a solid 
circle, that went round and round on itself 
like cattle " milling " when they swim across a 
stream. They held their heads low to play on 
their pipes, they lifted their legs till knee almost 
struck on chin ; they looked less like human 
beings, and more like prancing, bellowing bisons, 
than I had ever seen them look yet. I would 
not give Isola a place at the hole, for I thought by 
their appearance that they were " working up,"^ 
as Red Bob had said, and I began to see we were 
in a tighter place than any of us had supposed. 
If they got themselves up to the proper point 
of bloodthirsty excitement before morning, no 
questions of prudence were likely to restrain them 
from knocking us on the head. 

I told Isola that the men were playing on 
bamboos, and that it wasn't particularly inter- 
esting. Whether she beheved me or not I 
cannot say ; but she did not try to look out. 
Silence fell for a Httle while inside the dark 
brown house ; we saw each other only as shadows 
stirring faintly in the dark ; we heard nothing 
but the inhuman honking and hooting of the 
savage music in the square. 

Presently I heard Red Bob strike a match, and 
saw him standing up inspecting our prison 
closely. I watched him with an interest that 



314 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

was almost feverish, and I think Isola, and even 
Bo, watched him too. We all three felt that he 
was the greatest man of the party ; we felt that 
if he could not save us, nothing and no one could. 
It had come to that by now ; each one of us felt 
that we were in serious danger, and that the sun 
that had sunk two hours ago behind the unknown 
forest ranges might never rise for us — unless 
Red Bob could help. 

I don't really know what I expected him to say 
or do, but I was horribly disappointed — dis- 
gusted too— -when I saw that he was turning over 
a heap of old native dancing-dresses in the corner, 
and examining them with all the ardour of the 
ethnologist, just as if (I thought to myself) there 
had been no horde of blood-lusting brutes work- 
ing themselves to frenzy outside, and no Isola to 
save from their fury. 

" What selfish brutes men of science are after 
all ! " I thought. " All for themselves and their 
wretched discoveries — as if it really mattered to 
anyone on earth except a few musty German 
professors whether one brand of nigger dances 
and dresses — or undresses — in the same way as 
another ! Oh, I know your arguments " — my 
thoughts rambled on — " ' History of Races ' and 
all that ; but what does history of races really 
mean to any live human being in the world to- 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 315 

day ? If ever I get out of this alive, I'll have 
done " 

" Look, look ! " said Isola, " what is he doing ? " 

Gore had put a match to a burned brand out of 
some old fire, and had stuck it in the ground. It 
gave light enough for us to see that he was 
curiously busy with the dancing dresses — select- 
ing out of the heap a few that looked like large, 
old-fashioned beehives, or coachman's capes 
made of straw, examining them with anxious 
care — yes, actually trying them on. . . . 

It was then that I began to understand that 
Red Bob might have resources and reserves 
beyond what I could guess. 

" Corbet," he said presently, his head half 
muffled in a mass of something like hay, " look 
out and see if there are any dresses like this in 
the dance." 

" There is one," I said, peering through the 
hole. 

" A thing hke a beehive on two feet — you 
can't see anything but the dress itself, and an 
ugly mask stuck on top ? " 

" Yes, that's it. The mask looks like a clown's 
face and a gargoyle off Notre Dame mixed up 
together." 

" What's the dancer doing ? Hopping round 
and round ? " 



316 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" Yes." 

" Let Isola take her turn, and watch the dancer. 
Watch him, both of you, as if your Hves depended 
on it. See what he does ; what steps he takes." 

We did as he told us. I cut the hole a little 
larger, so that all three might peep cautiously 
out together, and Gore came and joined us. 

" Yes," he said with a glance, " it's the Duk- 
Duk dance. You may be glad it is." 

The Duk-Duk was performing a solemn chassee 
down the middle of the village, looking, I must 
say, like the maddest and most horrible figure 
that ever escaped from a nightmare dream. Its 
formlessness, and the blank, inhuman mask that 
topped the shuffling figure, took from it all 
semblance to a human being, and, strangely 
enough, seemed to terrify or overawe the natives 
almost as if they had never seen it before. The 
Duk-Duk is the goblin of New Britain life ; its 
appearances in the village dance are always 
cleverly calculated by the sorcerers for some un- 
expected moment ; no one knows who is hidden 
beneath the shuffling beehive with the grisly 
face on top, and murder often follows on its 
pointing out of a victim. . . . 

In and out, in and out of the hopping pan-pipe 
players it went, a thing of horror, speechless, 
limbless, apparently deaf and blind — ^yet we knew 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 317 

well that a clever sorcerer must be concealed 
beneath the sinister disguise watching his oppor- 
tunity to mark down a victim. I saw that the 
women had hidden their faces on the ground — 
it is death to them to look upon a Duk-Duk — 
and that they trembled and burrowed lower into 
the earth every time the wind of its going passed 
them. The men v^th the pipes made a shift to 
pretend they did not notice the hideous thing, 
but wherever it went by the ranks of the dancers 
shrank and winced away, as from the swaying 
scythe of Death itself. 

I watched it, fascinated beyond words. Few 
people have seen the Duk-Duk dance of New 
Britain, and of these some have not lived to tell 
about it. Yet I felt as if we should. I believed 
in Red Bob. 

When I looked round again, he was busy with 
one of the dresses, putting it on. 

" Listen to what I say," he said, " and be 
careful. When the next Duk-Duk comes out — 
there will be another by and by, perhaps more — 
I am going to cut through the wall at the back of 
the hut and join it. You must keep your eye on 
me, and when I have been dancing for a little, 
get into the three of the dresses that are left, 
blacken your feet well with ashes (you'll have to 
carry your boots under your dress) and come after 



318 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

me. Do exactly as the other Duk-Duks are 
doing, and then dance to the rock stairway and 
go down it. You see the first Duk-Duk did that, 
and came back again, more than once. We can't 
take any baggage, but tie a Httle food about you 
— so — quickly. Now if this heathen doesn't queer 
our pitch — Bo, do you understand what we are 
doing ? " 

" My God, master, me savvy plenty," answered 
Bo unexpectedly. " Long my village, one time 
I makem Duk-Duk, I makem kill plenty men." 

" Then we can trust him to play his part. 
Good business. I thought he would be a diffi- 
culty. Now, do you understand, and can Isola 
manage it .? Yes ? Then I'll make a start. 
Isola can come next, and you two after. And 
Paul, remember, if things go wrong, shoot, but 
don't shoot till you have to, for it's a last chance." 

" I understand," I said. Gore took my hand 
in his and shook it. I understood that, too ; 
he was saying good-bye, in case " things went 
wrong." 

We cut a slab or two of the pith-like sago 
stems out in a couple of minutes, and reconnoitred 
carefully. On this side there was no guard ; 
the projection of stone that appeared here and 
there among the trees explained why — clearly 
it was inaccessible. Only a few women were 



Red Bob of the Bismareks 319 

visible, lying with their faces on the ground, and 
their arms over their heads. 

" Let's hope they don't peep," laughed Gore. 
He seemed in excellent spirits. I do not think 
the man ever knew what fear meant. 

In a moment he had slipped through the open- 
ing, and was advancing down the square. We 
rushed to the other side to watch him. He 
danced as the other Duk-Duks danced — there 
were two of them now — and before him, as before 
the others, the ranks of the pipers shrank and 
quivered, as he passed, and the women moaned 
when they heard his feet shuffling by. . . . 

It was time to make our move. 

How well I remember the stuffy, dirty smell of 
the dress when I put it over my head, after seeing 
Isola and Bo into theirs ! It was wonderfully 
light, in spite of its size ; and the hideous mask 
on the top, as I had anticipated, had two small 
holes through which one could see quite well. 
I wondered what insanitary beast had worn the 
dress before I did, and hoped that none of us would 
get leprosy or anything else that was unpleasant 
from the manner of our disguise. Then I had 
not time to think any more, for Isola was out, and 
making the perilous pass of the square. God, how 
my heart beat as I watched her ! How loose I 
kept my finger on the trigger of my revolver ! 



320 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 



Her coolness was wonderful. On her little 
blackened feet, she shuffled and chasseed along, 
exactly as the other Duk-Duks had done, even 
pausing once or twice to make the hideous 
" point " from which the savage shrank back so 
nervously (I judged that any man thus " pointed " 
stood in imminent danger of the cooking-oven). 
I saw her near the rock staircase, saw the ranks of 
warriors part as the sea parts before the stem of 
a ship, to let her through ; saw that Red Bob 
followed her closely — or was it one of the other 
Duk-Duks } For the life of me I could not tell. 

" Now, Bo ! " I whispered, and together we 
danced out from behind the hut, shuffling along 
without haste, and weaving in and out among 
the dancers as we had seen the other Duk-Duks 
do. The fires leaped and glowed ; the black 
figures of the piping men " milled " continually, 
round and round in a circle. " Oom-oom," 
went the pipes, " Oom-ty, oom-ty, ai-ai, ai-ai ! " 
The air was full of dust ; everything was seen as 
in a cloud ; the smell of the dust was like snuff 
in one's nostrils. I could hardly keep from 
sneezing. ... Bo and I danced on. The stone 
stairs were close to us ; we were hopping and 
skipping down them. . . . 

We had reached the foot, and stood in the 
dark, leafy wet-smelling track below ; I could 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 321 

just see two Duk-Duk dresses in front of me. I 
stretched out my hand, and feh for the hand of 
the nearest. It snatched at me fiercely, and then 
seized my arm. I had got one of the real ones ! 

One thinks quickly in such moments, and luckily 
I remembered Red Bob's counsel : " Fire only 
as a last resort." I drew the long bush-knife 
from my belt with my free arm, thrust aside 
the grass of the Duk-Duk dress, and drove the 
blade through the dancer's ribs. He stopped in 
the very beginning of a cry, coughed, " Och ! " 
once, like the buffaloes, and fell down at my feet. 
Gore had him by the legs in an instant and slung 
him quietly among the trees. I thought by the 
movement of his arm as it came up from the cape 
that he made assurance surer, with his own good 
knife ; but it was too dark to see. 

We made off down the track, very slowly at 
first, and dancing as we went, in case we should 
meet any more of this infernal corps de ha let ; 
but soon we threw aside our hampering disguises, 
put on our boots, and taking Isola between us 
(for the track was a good one, and unusually 
wide), ran as hard as we could. When we had put 
a mile or two between ourselves and the village 
Gore called a halt. We listened, standing in the 
drip of dew from enormous cottonwoods over- 
head, and hearing the great green frogs of New 

21 



322 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

Britain bleat like goats in the under-brush, and 
once, a long way off, an alligator belling in a 
swamp. But of the savages we heard nothing. 

After a little rest, we went on, guided hy Bo, 
who seemed to know where he was, or at least to 
guess, as a native sometimes can. Isola's endur- 
ance was wonderful. She leaned upon my arm, 
and sometimes took Red Bob's also for a while, 
but she never once faltered or complained. We 
went on till near daylight, and then, finding a 
safe nook among some rocks, slept for a while. 
Gore and I taking turns to watch. The sun came 
up, red and rainy-looking, over the outline of a 
dark blue ridge, not many miles away. Gore 
looked at it, laughed and clapped me on the back. 

" My boy, we've done it," said he, " for that's 
the range above the Gore plantation country, 
and we'll be into the settlement to-night." 

I do not think we should have been, however, 
had we not chanced upon a buffalo wallowing in 
a marsh — a tame one this time, obviously not long 
escaped from the nearest settlement, and with a 
fresh hole in its nostril — and pressed it into our 
service, to carry Isola. Being a tame beast of 
burden, it submitted, after some trials, and for 
the rest of our march — which we kept up till 
dusk, with the exception of a couple of hours' 
spell in the middle of the day — our brave little 



Red Bob of the Bismareks 323 



lady went as Evangeline rode in the " beautiful 
meadows of Grand-Pre." I think we must have 
made an odd-looking procession — Gore striding 
along in front, chewing a bit of stick for want of 
his usual smoke, Bo trotting along behind him, 
and last, I sola, on the great grey buffalo, with 
myself walking beside her — a ragged, dirty party, 
sunburned almost as black as Bo, muddy, torn and 
sadly in need of a wash. It began to rain in 
waterspouts before we got to the settlement, and 
when we came out at last on a range that over- 
looked green, orderly ranks of palms, and shining 
woods of rubber trees, we saw the welcome sight 
through a veil of streaming wet. As for our- 
selves, nothing could have made us look more 
draggled than we were. 

Red Bob paused on the crest of the hill and 
drew a sigh of relief. 

" Well through," he said. " And now to invade 
Sachs's bungalow, get cleaned and fed, and hear 
how the world has been going without us all 
these weeks." 



21' 



CHAPTER XIII 

SACHS'S plantation was the furthest back 
of all the settled districts. It was a 
place where very few white men came, and no 
white women ; Sachs himself lived a lonely 
life with his boys and one overseer, riding a 
long day down to Kori, the nearest place to 
his own, when he wished for a little society. 

We were therefore somewhat astonished to 
see, as we went down the zig-zag pathway 
leading to the bungalow, that there were white 
dresses visible on the sheltered side of the 
verandah, and that temporary cots had been 
put up here and there, evidently for the 
accommodation of an unusual number of male 
visitors. 

" Seems to be rather a run on Sachs's place," 
said Red Bob, twisting his moustache and looking 
down at the house with a thoughtful expression. 
" Seems to have some sport going on, too." 

I had already seen what he pointed out to 
me with one finger. Sentries. White men 
with rifles in their hands pacing up and down in 
front of the house. 

324 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 325 

" But look here ! " I said, pausing to stare. 
" They're all mad. It's at the back the sentries 
should be. Down to the front there's nothing 
but plantations and motor roads between us 
and Herbertshohe ! " 

Red Bob twisted his moustache some more, 
and said nothing. He walked a little faster. I 
hit the buffalo with a bit of lawyer-cane, and 
urged it on. I was getting very curious. What 
were all those white people doing down there ? 

" Well, at any rate," whispered Vanity, " there 
would be all the bigger audience for the sensa- 
tional tale we had to tell — all the more to admire 
and wonder at what we had done — ^we, two 
white men and a woman, who had walked across 
New Britain, done no small amount of exploring 
and discovery (for Gore, though I have not 
mentioned it, had been mapping and estimating 
all the way, and cursing his ill luck in having 
no scientific instruments) and met with hair- 
breadth adventures enough to stir the pulse even 
of New Britain residents. Already I savoured 
our triumph. We were going to be heroes ! 

It rained and rained as we went down the in- 
terminable zig-zags of the path ; red waterfalls 
poured from every bank and boulder, the ground 
sent up a spray of rainy spume. The people 
on the verandah sat in their chairs and watched 



326 Red Bob of the Bismareks 

us. In front of the house the armed sentries 
walked back and forwards ; we could see them 
at each end as we went down. 

" Sachs ! HoUo, Sachs ! " beUowed Red Bob, 
in his great bull voice, as we came on to the last 
turn. " Here's a lost party for you. Have you 
any room ? " 

Sachs came out on to the verandah — a tall, 
stout Prussian with a grizzly beard — and eyed 
us with his hands in his pockets. 

" I don't know," he said in German. 

I began to realize that something had hap- 
pened, but I could not for the life of me think 
what. 

Gore did not seem entirely surprised. He 
told me afterwards that he had guessed at the 
state of the case as far back as the cannibal 
village. 

" Oh, yes, I think you have," he said cheerily. 
" We've got a lady with us, and she is very 
badly done up. Can you let her go right off 
to bed ? " 

" I suppose I can," answered Sachs, melting 
a little. " There are four women here ; they 
can take care of her, no doubt." 

" Oh, but of course I can ! " cried a well- 
known — too well-known — voice from a corner 
of the verandah, and a serge skirt and white 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 327 

blouse, inhabited by a lady with her head held 
sentimentally on one side, became clearly visible 
close to the lattice. Then it was that I saw 
what I had not seen through all the perils of our 
journeying — ^fear on the face of Red Bob. He 
turned actually pale. 

" I always knew it," he said to himself. 

" What did you know ? " I asked. But he 
made no answer ; he only looked at the face and 
figure of Mabel Siddis, and then once at the 
forests behind him, and then he walked on. 

We reached the house and walked up on to 
the verandah — three muddy, wretched-looking 
objects, with Bo, outside in the rain, very much 
at an advantage over us owing to his want of 
clothes. Sachs still remained in the same place, 
his hands in his pockets. He said nothing at 
all. The women, plump, tight-haired Germans, 
exclaimed loudly when they saw Isola. 

" Why, it is Frau Richter ! " they cried. 
" Ach ! see you there ! " screamed the fattest 
and tightest-haired, " see then, she is dying ! " 

Isola was not dying, but she had sunk into 
the nearest chair and quietly fainted away. 

In spite of Miss Siddis's loudly-expressed 
anxiety to take care of Isola, it was the fat German 
women who lifted her into a bedroom, shut the 
door, and ministered to her. Mabel Siddis was 



328 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

far too busy clasping her hands and looking 
sideways (no, it was not quite a squint) at Red 
Bob, who, for his part, had backed up against 
the verandah rail and was talking with furious 
energy to a German trader. 

I don't think he quite knew what he was saying, 
for he actually began to describe our journey 
and mention our adventures — a thing he would 
never have done unasked, except under the dis- 
turbing influence that now held possession of 
him. The other men on the verandah listened, 
but with a curious lack of interest. Gore saw 
it, and cut the tale short. 

" What's going on here ? " I broke in, for I 
was getting extremely curious. That something 
big had happened somewhere I could not doubt. 
Why, it even seemed to prevent people from 
being interested in our affairs ! 

The answer came from an unexpected source. 
Round the corner of the verandah walked a tall 
figure in military uniform, clinking spurs as it 
moved. It paused, looked, and greeted me with : 

" Fowl ! " 

" Why, Hahn, is it you ? " I said, glad to see 
him — I always had an odd sort of liking for the 
man who had so nearly succeeded in shooting 
me that morning in Kronprinzhaven. " What's 
going on about here ? " 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 329 

" War, my nut," said Hahn. 

" War ! I did hear something about a lot 
of fighting — but it was so confused — which of 
the tribes are out ? " 

" The tribes that are out, my nut," said Hahn 
— and in spite of his slang, I recognized a new 
gravity in his bearing, a seriousness in the once 
gay and debonair young face — " the tribes that 
are out are the Germans, the Austrians, the 
French, the Belgians, the Russians, the Servians 
and the Turks." 

" Good Lord ! " I said. " Are we at war 
with you ? " 

" You are. Fowl," said Hahn. 

" Then I suppose Gore and I are your 
prisoners ? " 

" No," said Sachs, taking his hands out of his 
pockets at last, and coming forward, " we are 
yours." I do not write all he said in addition ; 
it may well be forgiven and forgotten. 

Facts began to rain like branches in a hurri- 
cane. We heard the history of those two months 
that we had spent in the wilds — the greatest 
two months that the world has ever seen. We 
were told — vsdth a certain amount of personal 
colouring — the story of the march to Paris, of 
Liege, of Mons and the Marne and the Aisne. 
It was later, from other lips, that we heard of 



330 Red Bob of the Bismareks 

Rheims and Louvain. We knew before long that 
German New Guinea was German New Guinea 
no longer. 

Miss Siddis, between her prudent devotion 
to her employers' interest (for she was still a 
governess in a German family, and had come up 
with them to Sachs's, to be safe from bom- 
bardment in the towns) and her desire to stand 
well with us, was a sight worth seeing. She did 
all that clasped hands and expressive looks could 
do to show her delight at the success of British 
arms ; her words, addressed to her patrons in 
the German language (which she seemed to 
think Gore and myself did not understand) 
contained the heartfelt wishes of an earnest 
soul for a speedy readjustment of things as they 
had been. ... I was disgusted by her, and 
withdrew. 

Sachs, I must say, behaved decently enough, 
all things considered. He agreed to give us 
room for the night, and to sell us some clothes 
against a cheque on the bank of New South 
Wales. Next day, if Isola was well enough, 
we intended to journey on down to Rabaul 
with her (since persecution from the man she 
had married was one of the least likely things 
in the world to happen now) and report our- 
selves to the troops in possession. Things had 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 331 

changed considerably for us, and all to the good, 
during those months of absence from telegrams 
and news. 

" We weren't pearl-poaching after all, if we'd 
only known it," said Gore to me that night, 
when we had put up our cots side by side in a 
quiet corner of the verandah. " And, by the 
way, you've never asked me yet, you unbusiness- 
like young beggar, what your share in the venture 
was to be. Of course we'll go back and rake the 
place out as soon as possible ; there's a big 
fortune in it." 

" If I am entitled to anything," I said, " it 
can be what you please ; but I don't want to be 
paid for — for " 

" For backing me out in a row or two — ^no, 
naturally. You will be paid for taking your 
part in an illegal, dangerous, discreditable 
poaching adventure, which fortunately turned 
up trumps. I propose to give you twenty per 
cent, of the takings, and if I'm any judge of an 
atoll, it ought to be a pretty decent little inde- 
pendence for you — in case you want such a 
thing, for yourself or anyone else." 

" What do you mean ? " I said excitedly, 
sitting up in my cot. It was late at night ; the 
moon had climbed far down the sky and shone 
in streaks and patches through the grapeless 



332 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

vine that Sachs had trained about the enclosing 
lattice in memory of his Rhineland home. The 
other men were sleeping on the side that looked 
down towards the Herbertshohe road ; I don't 
know what they expected in the way of attack 
or surprise, but it was well for our quiet con- 
versation that they had left us alone. 

" I can't quite say what I mean myself ; time 
must show that," said Gore. " But I got a 
curious admission out of Isola not very long ago. 
. . . She referred, quite innocently, to the fact 
that her impulsive ItaHan papa had overcome her 
objections to a marriage with a dying cholera 
patient by violent means. In fact, when he 
found she was disinclined to do his bidding, and 
secure the New Guinea plantation for her de- 
serving family, he took her by the hair, shook 
her, and boxed her ears, and threatened to shut 
her up without food." 

"The brute!" I said indignantly. "Wish 
I had had the chance of boxing his ears — once." 

" Is that all you have to say ? " asked Gore, 
turning on his pillow and looking at me with the 
moon full on his strange, brilliant eyes. 

" Well, that's about all you could have done to 
a man who happened to be her father." 

" I don't mean that. Do you not see — why, 
man, a marriage under compulsion, especially 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 333 

if the parties don't live together afterwards, is 
breakable." 

I sprang out of my cot, and plumped myself 
down on the foot of Gore's. 

" Say that again ! " I exclaimed, drumming 
on his chest with my fists in my excitement. 
" Say it again — she isn't married — Oh, Lord ! " 

" Stop acting the goat or you'll have the 
sentries up here. I never said anything of the 
kind. She's married all right at this moment. 
You'd have to bring a suit in the Dutch courts." 

" I'll bring twenty," I said joyously. 

" I don't think Richter will appeal to quite 
that extent ; if you bring one or two it'll probably 
meet the case," said Gore dryly. " Whether 
it'll all be plain sailing or not I can't say ; Miss 
Siddis — dash her ! — seems to be the only witness, 
and that won't make things any easier." 

" I'U go and make love to her before break- 
fast to-morrow morning," I declared. 

" For God's sake, do," said Gore. And so, 
being very weary, we fell asleep. 

Next morning there was no question of Isola 
going on. She was in bed, and according to 
the good German women, bound in common 
prudence to remain there at least another day. 
She sent me a pitiful little note begging us not 
to abandon her, and we decided to wait, though 



334 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

both of us were wild to be down in Herberts- 
hohe, seeing the meaning of war — perhaps even 
joining in it. . . . 

" It makes no difference," said Sachs gloomily, 
when we told him of our intentions. " We 
must all go down soon ; they will order that we 
go into camp at Rabaul, and after that we leave 
the country." 

" No, they say that they will respect pro- 
perty," argued one of the men. " I do not think 
that our people need have ordered us to go up 
here and guard the plantations ; we should have 
been much better fighting down below." 

" Orders, old churl," said Hahn, who had 
come in from the front of the house. " Here is 
my Powl. Powl, how are you ? It is a sad 
thing that you are again my enemy, Powl. 
Shall we fight another duel, that thou may take 
off the tip of my other ear ? " 

" I don't mind if I do," I said cheerfully. 

" Nonsense," said Gore. " We'll have no 
private editions of the European war on this 
plantation. ..." 

Whether we should have had or not I do not 
know, but circumstances prevented any chance 
of Hahn's losing another ear-tip. 

During the morning some mysterious message 
arrived, in obedience to which he collected his 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 335 

few remaining police, mustered them on the grass 
outside the house, and marched away down the 
hill with a laugh and a wave of the hand, as he 
turned the corner of the road. So, smiling, he 
marched out of my life. He was killed that 
very afternoon, in a sniping skirmish near Rabaul. 
I shall always think, enemies though we were, 
that there was something about Hahn I could 
have liked, and liked well. . . . 

But Lord 1 (as Pepys would have said) to 
see the airs that Mabel Siddis took on, imme- 
diately it became plain that the whole of the 
Richter marriage case was hanging on her willing- 
ness and ability to give evidence ! Gore and I 
questioned her, and we elicited, with some 
trouble (for she became very choice and difficult 
as she went on), the fact that no one but herself 
had seen any ill-usage, or heard any threats. 
She would not say definitely that she had seen or 
heard such things, either ; but she left us in no 
uncertainty as to the fact, all the same, revelling 
in the importance of her position. She gave us 
to understand that if she was to do as we asked 
her, and set Isola Bella free from the chains 
wound round her by that unlucky hour in Banda 
Neira, she must, in some way, profit by it. Of 
course she did not say this openly, but : 

" Oh no, Mr. Gore ! " she would giggle, shyly 



836 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

biting the end of her Httle finger (she had very- 
small but very ugly hands). " I couldn't say I 
remember that definitely, but one never knows — 
one's memory may return — it depends so much on 
circumstances. I would do anything I could 
for a friend — I would indeed — and the nearer the 
friend, the more I would do — indeed I would. 
That is, if I happened to remember at the 
right time, but I have such a silly little memory 
— just like silly little me." 

Gore got away from her at last, and told me, 
in the course of a quiet walk among the palms 
of the plantation, that he had no doubt whatever 
as to her being able to prove the case, if only she 
chose to do so. 

" It's clear, however, that she must be bought," 
he said. " Paul, you'll have to tackle her your- 
self about that ; she — she makes my blood run 
cold. . . . See here, youngster, don't go too shy 
on the money part of it. I'll stand by you. 
You're a perfect young idiot, but, somehow, you're 
the kind of idiot I like — and — I shall never have 
a son. . . . What the deuce do you suppose 
Sachs has done to these rubber trees to make 
them seed so young ? By the look of the trunks, 
they shouldn't have been ready till . . . Well, 
go on and face the dragon, St. George ; I'll skulk 
here till it's all over." 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 337 

Miss Siddis was sitting out of doors when I 
found her, under the shade of a wall of young 
rubber trees. The crimson buds hung down 
above her head as she sat poking a crochet-needle 
in and out of some totally useless object meant 
for somebody's troops ; the broad glory of the 
leaves made a background that would have better 
suited a fairer woman than Mabel. I approached 
her cautiously ; I was bent on getting the matter 
settled there and then, but I did not like the 
job. Suppose she had fallen in love with me ? 
That might be the reason of her reluctance to 
sever the tie between Isola and Richter. Suppose 
she was simply spiteful ? Suppose she didn't 
really remember, and was only pretending she 
did, to make herself important ? I trembled as 
I thought how much depended upon all these 
suppositions, and upon the fantasy of a vain, not 
dependable woman hke Mabel Siddis. 

She made way for me on her bench, with the 
mechanical smile that had done duty for so many 
years, on so many occasions. I found myself, 
oddly enough, feehng a Httle sorry for her. To 
fail in the object of your whole life, utterly and 
humiliatingly, as she had failed — to stake your 
success, your comfort, and your self-respect, upon 
the winning of a game, and lose it, was surely a 
wretched fate. It seemed to me that the place 

22 



338 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

of the humblest lay sister in a quiet convent, 
where every nun had her own fitted niche in life, 
or the simplest work of teacher, nurse, or even 
servant, done for itself, and not for ulterior aims, 
must be a life more worthy of respect. 

I need not have wasted my pity. Mabel Siddis 
was well able to take care of herself. 

In ten minutes, glancing shyly and modestly 
down at her work, with a horrible parody of the 
girlhood that she should have forgotten about 
long ago — speaking softly, in that misfit pretty 
voice of hers, as one who would not hurt the wing 
of a fly, if the fly only behaved itself and did not 
get in her way — Mabel Siddis had made me under- 
stand what she demanded for the setting free of 
Isola, and the making of my happiness. She 
demanded Red Bob. 

Not that she said so right out — she was far too 
modest and feminine for that. But she made her 
meaning very clear ; clear as still waters that run 
deep, and only half hide the ugly things that lurk 
within their silken depths. I was to have Isola ; she 
was to have Vincent Gore. That was the bargain. 

The horrid shrewdness of the woman peeped 
out in the whole affair. Another would have 
thought that Red Bob was not attainable by such 
means ; that no man would marry a woman 
he had been systematically running away from, 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 339 

just because the happiness of two people could 
be secured by his doing so. 

And I must confess that for the moment I 
did not think so either. Women know men 
better than men know each other. 

I could not keep my face from telling my 
dismay, when I went back to Gore, a miserable 
and perplexed ambassador, if ever there was one. 
He laughed when he saw me. 

" You needn't pull such a face," he said. " I 
know what she said." 

" You can't ! " I cried. 

" Oh, yes, I do," said Red Bob. " I know all 
right. Always did know, from the moment I 
first met her. Felt it coming, somehow." 

" You don't mean to say you care for " I 

began, my eyes widening. 

" I don't. I mean to say she's done it, and 
that I'll have to do as many a better man has 
done. Don't look so upset ; it isn't you have got 
to marry Mabel." 

" But you don't mean " 

" I tell you what I don't mean," said Gore, 
looking at me with narrowed pupils. " I don't 
mean to see you and Isola go down the road 
I went. Not if I can help it by marrying Mabel 
Siddis. There's not much of my life left, and 
there's all of yours and hers." 



340 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

" But — ^you told me — wouldn't it make some 
difference to anyone ? " I said lamely. I was 
circling round the strange confidence he had made 
on board the Afzelia — the tale of the crippled, 
beautiful young daughter, " being taken care of " 
somewhere. 

Gore answered without answering. 

" She'd lose her worst qualities if she were 
married," he said. I saw him wince over the 
word, but he went on bravely. " She seems to 
have been a pretty good governess all her life. 
She was decent to Isola." 

" Looks like it now," I burst out. 

" She's playing for her own hand. I can see 
her point of view," said Gore ; and I felt almost 
frightened to note how mildly he spoke. It 
seemed as if there were something broken in his 
character — some spring that had given way. . . . 
I remembered the day he had fled from the upper 
deck and taken refuge in my cabin, declaring that 
" some day a woman like that would run him in, 
and he wouldn't have pluck enough to hang 
himself." Well, she had run him in. And I 
did not anticipate that he would lay violent hands 
upon himself in consequence. Instead, I had a 
horrid vision of a wedding — cake, favours, orange 
flowers, bridesmaids, speeches, champagne — I 
was sure that the victorious Mabel would spare 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 341 

him no detail — with Gore in the middle of it 
all, running for his life. 

" Hang it all," I said, " I don't know how you 
think I can accept such a thing." 

" You've got her to think of," said Gore, and he 
did not mean Miss Siddis this time. 

" I offered her money," I said, after a silence. 
" I went high. . . . But she isn't out for that, or 
not that only. She wants to write Mrs. on her 
visiting-cards. She wants a celebration — oh, 
damn her ! " 

" Damning won't help the case," said Gore. 
" When a thing's done it's done. We'll see Isola 
safe into Herbertshohe first, and then I'll come 
back and fix things with Miss Siddis. You can 
let her know as much — judiciously." 

" You can trust me not to put the rope round 
your neck before the sentence is passed," I said. 
" If I saw any other way I'd have you shut up in 
a lunatic asylum sooner." 

" Don't fluff," said Gore. " I always did say 
you talked too much." And not another word 
would he say. 

I carried out my mission to Mabel Siddis judi- 
ciously, as I had been asked. I was not the man, 
in any case, to have Red Bob let in for a breach of 
promise case, if ... I sincerely hoped it would 
be " if," and yet I did not believe it. For all 



342 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

I could see, Bob was doomed. There are no 
words to say what a selfish beast I felt. 

Miss Siddis minced and " simmered," as Gore 
used to say, a good deal, but pretended not to 
understand my meaning. Still, I saw by the way 
she preened herself that she did. She saw us off 
when we all three set out next day, and if anything 
could have made my heart heavier than it was, the 
way Red Bob kept close to me, to avoid a personal 
farewell from Mabel, would have done it. 

We had borrowed a horse and buggy, and set 
off down the long road leading to Herbertshohe, 
with spirits excited by the prospect of seeing real 
war, or at least its aftermath. An hour or two 
after leaving, we met a body of khaki-clad young 
Australians, marching up to the plantation 
country, and singing gaily as they went. We 
stopped to greet them, and to hear the news. 
There had been another skirmish that day ; not 
much harm done to anyone. The soldiers 
thought it would be the last : German New 
Guinea was settling down peaceably enough to 
the new occupation. 

" Is there anything to avoid on the way ? '* 
I asked of one young fellow, aside. He looked at 
Isola. 

" No," he said. " They're burying some dead 
men, but it's nothing. . . . The casualties have 



Red Bob of the Bismarcks 343 

been very small — very small indeed. You 
needn't be uneasy about the young lady." 

We drove on. The afternoon sun shot low 
among the ranks of palms, and laid long golden 
spears across the dusty road. Green parrots 
chattered in the leaves and huge, slow, red and 
blue butterflies sailed past, as peacefully as though 
no war-storm had struck the isolated, far, strange 
island of New Britain. A few miles on we came 
to a turn in the road, where some Germans 
engaged in carrying cofhns to the graveyard 
of Herbertshohe had stopped to rest. 

" There are three coffins," said Isola, her dark 
eyes wide with horror. " It may be people that 
I know, Paul ; will you stop and let me ask ? " 

The men were strangers to all of us, and they 
looked sullenly at the three EngHsh people who 
were driving freely about the land, gloating, 
no doubt, over the triumph of their countrymen. 
They answered shortly when Isola spoke. 

" Right Germans, all three," was their answer. 
" What can it matter to you ? " 

" Tell her," said Red Bob, leaning down with 
the reins in his hands. And because he was a 
man whom most people obeyed, they obeyed also. 

" It is Friederichs, Reuss and Richter," said 
one of the bearers, " and may the everlasting 
curse " 



844 Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

I need not add what he said. 

Isola sat still and white till he had done, and 
then asked : *' Justus Schultz Richter ? " 

" Did you know him ? " asked the man, looking 
up at her. 

" I was married to him," she said ; " drive on ! " 

Red Bob whipped up the horse and we drove 
fast. 

" I can't feel sorry," said Isola, looking at 
me piteously. She drew out her pocket-hand- 
kerchief and began to cry as she spoke. 

" You've no reason to," said Red Bob, whose 
face had suddenly taken on an astonishingly 
bright expression. " No one has any reason to. 
It cuts the knot — for us all." 

Red Bob was sitting on the front seat of the 
buggy, while Isola and I occupied the back. I 
put my arm round her waist, and consoled her 
as I liked best ; and now she did not repulse me. 

" It's like dancing on a grave," she said, but 
she crept up closer as she said it. 

And the sun sank low and golden on the sea, 
where before the port of Herbertshohe, an 
Australian Hner lay waiting. 

THE END 



Printed at The Chapel River Press. Kingston, Surrey. , 



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July igis. 

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Shadows of Flames 

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This important novel contains about 592 full pages. 

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7 



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Pretty Maids all in a Row 

By the Author of 
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lady this side of Heaven." In contrast to this romance, 
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NEW 6/- NOVELS 

By MARGARET PETERSON 

To Love 

By the Author of *' The Lure of the Little Drum," 
"Tony Bellew," etc. 

Joan wants to see life: she breaks away from her 
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man who arouses her passion, and takes her into his 
keeping : then] Joan returns to her home and horrifies 
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merciful accident happens. Joan in London again works 
for her living. A young doctor, who had seen her at her 
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Joan finds the way of wilful flesh hard indeed and 
that a good man's love is a haven. 

The author has already earned for herself a 
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absorbingly interesting book. 



NEW 6/- NOVELS 

By BEATRICE E. GRIMSHAW 

Red Bob of the Bismarcks 

By the Author of '* When the Red Gods Call," 
" The Sorcerer's Stone," etc. 

The story is told by the dare-devil son of a Liverpool 
business man. He finds the Wander-Lust get the upper hand 
and goes to sea. He enters the service of Vincent Gore (Red 
Bob) a traveller and remarkable man, and with him sails to 
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adventures and help in the escape of a girl (nominally 
married to a German) with whom the lad has fallen in love. 
At the time of the story the country has just been annexed by 
us after the outbreak of the war. Miss Grimshaw writes well and 
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world of strife in Europe. 



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By ARABELLA KENEALY 

The Thing wc have 
Prayed for 

By the Author of "Dr. Janet of Harley Street," 
"The Way of the Lover," etc., etc. 

Pretty Betty Cooling was exploited by her ambitious, 
scheming mother to secure the agency of young Lord 
Repton's estate for her father — and the young peer for 
herself. 

Great expectations arose from Betty's visit to Swindon 
Castle, the home of her school-friend, Lady Sally. Her 
experiences there among a notoriously rapid set ; her 
trip, unchaperoned, on Repton's yacht ; what happened 
there ; how Pamela, her cousin, charming and unworldly, 
became involved in Betty's escapade, and was discovered 
under anomalous circumstances by Meyrick, the man 
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is the delightful Girl-to-come. 



NEW e/- NOVELS 

By E. HARDINGHAM QUINN 

The Zandsee 

By the Author of "Sands of the Desert." 

This novel is brimful of colour and sentiment. 
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native huts and the white villas of a European settle- 
ment. A young and beautiful woman is something 
of a mystery. The other women make the worst of it, 
but the men like her. The son of a very friendly 
neighbour returns — he had been the Judge when the 
woman's husband had applied for a divorce, but he did 
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The mystery is afterwards cleared up, and the Judge, 
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consent to marry him. 



NEW e/- NOVELS 

By E. W. SAVI 

Sinners All 

By the Author of "The Daughter-in-Law," " Baba and 
the Black Sheep," etc. 

••Forbear to judge for we are sinners all." 

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title. It is a human story of 1914, placed in India and 
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13 



NEW 61- NOVELS 

By BRUNO LESSING 

With the Best Intention 

With illustrations by M. L. BRACKER 

Bruno Lessing has been called " the Kipling of the 
Ghetto." He has created a set of characters familiar 
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story of Lapidowitz the " schnorrer," who, it may be 
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strangely enough, he has scarcely one redeeming quality. 
It is a classic of modern fiction. 

14 



NEW 6/. NOVELS 



By F. C. PHILLIPS 

Author of ** As in a Looking Glass," " A Question of Colour," etc. 

and 

ROWLAND STRONG 

Author of "The Marquis of Catilini," etc. 

The White Sin 

This story is altogether fresh and full of in- 
terest. It is quite modern but quite clean. A Jewish 
financier of good family and good character assists 
an aristocratic family, and falls in love with their only 
daughter. The family despise him, but assent to the 
marriage, and then do not hesitate to be kept by him. 
There is an old lover who comes on the scene after 
the marriage, and the wife, influenced by her parents, 
neglects her husband and child. Her lover compromises 
her, and her husband, to enable her to marry him, divorces 
her, but she has been faithful, as her husband discovers, 
and they are reunited. Mr. F. C. Phillips is a practical 
novelist, and this new novel holds the reader from first 
to last. 



NEW 61- NOVELS 



By RICHARD R. STARR 

Married to a Spy 

This up-to-date novel is full of incident, and 
makes absorbing reading. The wife tells her own 
story, which opens with her marriage to an English- 
man with whom she is deeply in love, and whom she 
trusts completely. Then comes the knowledge that 
he is a spy and, as she believes, a traitor. There is 
a beautiful German woman head of a spy system in 
London who is in constant touch with the husband, 
and desperately in love with him. An old lover of 
the wife appears, and, through her suspicions of her 
husband, she herself becomes involved in a great 
tangle of events which leads her into many dangers, 
from which she ultimately escapes to be reconciled 
to her husband, who has proved his worth. 

i6 



NEW e/- NOVELS 
By EFFIE ADELAIDE ROWLANDS 

The Woman's Fault 



By the Author of 
Hester Trefusis," "The Man with the Money," etc. 



The story of a rash marriage between a man supposed 
to be a life-long invalid and a girl who loses her father 
and her faith in the sweetness of human happiness at one 
and the same time. Gifted with a musical temperament 
and a beautiful voice, the heroine adopts the operatic stage as 
a career, and the man who had married her simply to protect 
her gives her her freedom, although he loves her devotedly. 
Her story is made dramatic by the return into her life of 
the man who had won her love when she was a mere girl, 
and thereafter complications ensue which the story unfolds. 
It is one of the best books this popular author has yet 
written. 

17 



NEW 6/- NOVEL. 

By VIOLET TWEEDALE. 

Love or War 

By the Author of 
*'The Honeycomb of Life," "The Portals of Love," &c. 

The story commences in 19 14 when talk of war is in 
the air. Lord Cressingham, who fought in the Boer War, 
has vowed that never again will he take part in a war 
and shed the blood of a brother man. Quixotic and 
sincere, he is deeply conscious of nobhsse oblige. For the 
first time he falls in love, and with a beautiful girl of 
rare character belonging to his class. Elizabeth, when 
she goes to his home as a guest to see more of him, all 
but loves him. When war comes, Cressingham does not 
go to the front, to the disgust of his friends. His bright 
attractive brother comes home wounded, and he and 
Elizabeth fall in love. Cressingham never lets them know 
he has discovered the truth. He enlists as a private, 
dropping his title, and sacrifices himself. A group of our 
English nobility in the present stress is convincingly 
presented, and the novel will be found not only timely 
but exceptionally interesting. 

18 



JUST PUBLISHED 

AN IMPORTANT NEW NOVEL 
By GERTRUDE PAGE 

Author of 

"The Edge o' Beyond," "Where the Strange Roads Go Down,' 

etc. 

Follow After 

A Rhodesian Story 
THREE LARGE EDITIONS have been immediately called for. 



EARLY REVIEWS, 

"Full of stirring incident. Miss Page has the rare gift of story- 
telling and a capacity of contagious emotion," — Morning Post. 

"The adventures are remarkably up-to-date and striking." — 
Observer. 

" Another Rhodesian novel such as this author loves to write and 
her readers still more to read. It is full of insight into human 
character. "—Evening Standard. 

"Told with graphic power and sincerity." — Globe. 

"A book to read : a breeze, bracing and stimulating, from the land 
where men came hurrying to England's call."— PaW Mall Gazette. 

" Her work is impregnated with an intense loyalty ; the chief 
characters, Joe Lathom and Jack Desborough, are both fine characters 
and well handled." — Athemeum. 

" * Follow After ! ' is amazingly topical. We have nothing but 
praise for 'Follow Aiierl' "—Illustrated London News. 

"The author has given a fine picture of the marvellous loyalty 
which impels the true colonist and her own passionate faith."— Cown/ry 
Life. 

•9 



SOME SUCCESSFUL NOVELS 

RECENTLY ISSUED. 

Each in cr. 8vo. cloth gilt, 5/- 

THE TEETH OF THE TIGER ,.aE4Wo. 

By MAURICE LEBLANC 
The new Arsene Lupin novel. 

"In the best Ars6ne Lupin vein. Need I, can I, say more! The 
ingenuity of the plots and counter-plots is almost incredible. The vigour, 
the excitement, the sudden turns and falls of fortune, the sheer intellectual 
brilliance that the great Arsene applies to the vast and sinister problems 
confronting him make a rattling good book of a rattling good kind."— 
New Statesman. 

THE MIRACLE OF LOVE ^.a^uo. 

By COSMO HAMILTON 

•* Mr. Cosmo Hamilton does his theme full justice— his novel will 
probably be very widely read and will cheer dull lives enormously." — West- 
minster Gazette. 

"Mr. Hamilton proves again his undoubted qualities both as story 
teller and delineator of character, and uses the old themes of love and re- 
nunciation with the happiest results " — Giobe. 

FALL IN! SrdEditioa 

By J. P. MOLYNEUX 

The Morning Post says : — " * Fall In ! ' is to our thinking the best of 
the many novels that we have read having the South African War for their 
subject. It is wriittn with a simple and straightforward zeal for the 
honour, glory and welfare of the Empire, and at the same time describes 
the fighting with the restraint of a soldier and the vividness of an eye- 
witness. The love story which binds the book together is an attractive one, 
because the f>eople that are concerned in it are real people. But it is above 
all things a war novel, and one that stirs the pulses and uplifts the heart." 

A DUCHESS OF FRANCE 

A Story of Old Versailles 

By PAUL WAINEMAN 

*' Mr. Wainentan launches his story in excellent style, and he does not 
disappoint the hopes he raises. His narrative is always lively." — Standard. 

** Paul Waineman has the real gift of bestowing on wig and ruffle just 
that degree of human interest which makes the novel of costume readable. 
Paul Waineman manages to keep his entertaining story alive till the last 
page." — Daily News. 

" A charming story of love, court intrigue, and -the pomp and splendour 
of • Le Grand Monarque.' The author has nianaged to invest it with the 
magic of atmosphere." — Pall Mall Gazette. 



NEW 1/- EDITION 

In crown 8vo, with picture paper cover in colours. 

Weeds 

By OLAVE POTTER and DOUGLAS 8LADEN 

"An excellent novel. A very realistic picture of life as it is lived 
by a large number of women." — Morning Post. 

"A valuable contribution to the problem of the gentlewoman called 
upon to earn her living." — Dailv Nervs. 

" Full of vivid descriptions of life and realistic presentations of 
character : it should prove one of the most notable novels of the season." 
— Daily Telegrath. 



ALREADY PUBLISHED 

Each in crown 8vo, with picture paper cover in colours. 

THE CLAW By Cynthia Stocklky 

POPPY : The Story of a South African Girl 

By Cynthia Stockley 

TO-DAY AND LOVE By Maud Yardley 

AS YE HAVE SOWN By Dolf Wyllarde 

MAFOOTA By Dolf Wyllarde 

THE CRYSTAL STOPPER By Maurice Leblanc 

In cloth, picture wrappers. 

THE SECOND THOUGHTS OF AN IDLE FELLOW 

By Jerome K. Jerome 

THE PASSING OF THE THIRD FLOOR BACK 

And other Stories. By Jerome K. Jeromk 

THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST By Morley Roberts 



Jerome K. Jero.me's Original Play 

THE PASSING OF THE THIRD FLOOR BACK 

Id crown 8ro, cloth gilt, with 16 iUttftrations, 2*. 6cl. net. 

lo paper oorer, Is. 6«l« oci. 

21 



Hurst S Blackett's 7d. NOVEL SERIES 



Each in small crown 8vo, bound in cloth, gold lettering, 
excellently printed from NEW TYPE ON GOOD PAPER, 
with frontispiece illustration and decorative title page on 
art paper, and with picture wrapper in colours, 7d. net. 



Ne<w Volumes for t9t5. 



HER CONVICT 

WE TWO 

IN THE GOLDEN DAY5 

FOOL OF APRIL 

THE O'FLYNN 

THE ENGLISHWOMAN 

FATE AND DRU5ILLA 

HESTER TREFUSIS 

HEARTS AT WAR 



By M. E. Braddon 

By Edna Lyall 

By Edna Lyall 

By Justin H. McCarthy 

By Justin H. McCarthy 

By Alice and Claude Askew 

By Alice and Claude Askew 

By Effie Adelaide Rowlands 

By Effie Adelaide Rowlands 



HURST & BLACKETT'S Td. NOVELS. 

Volumes already published, 

Mrs. B. M. CROKER 



MADAME ALBANESI 

Drusilla's Point of View 
Marian Sax 
A Question of Quality 
The Strongest of All Thingrs 
A Vouns: Man from the 
Country 

ALICE & CLAUDE ASKEW 

Destiny 

The Orchard Close 

M. E. BRADDON 

Dead L^ve has Chains 
The White House 
During Her Majesty's Plea- 
sure 

PRISCILLA CRAVEN 

Circe's Daughter 



Her Own People 

The Youngest Miss Mowbray 

The Company's Servant 

JESSIE FOTHERGILL 
Lassies of Leverhouse 
A March In the Ranks 

TOM GALLON 
Jimmy Quixote 

COSMO HAMILTON 

The Infinite Capacity 
The Outpost of Eternity 

E. W. HORNUNG 
Peccavi 



22 



Hurst & Blackett's Yd. Novels 

CONTINUED, 

Volumes already published. 

♦•IOTA" (Mrs. Mannington Mrs. BAILLIE REYNOLDS 
Caffyn) The ides of March 

Dorlnda and Her Daughter Her Point of View 



WILLIAM LE QUEUX 

The Man from DownitiK 

Street 
The Price of Power 



RITA" 

The Seventh Dream 

A Man of no Importance 

Countess Daphne 



EDNA LYALL 

Donovan 

justin huntly 
McCarthy 

The Oorgeous Borgia 
The King over the Water 
The God of Love 
Needles and Pins 
A Health unto His Majesty 
A Fair Irish Maid 



ADELINE SERGEANT 

Kitty Holden 
A Soul Apart 
Jacobi's Wife 



BEATRICE WHITBY 

Bequeathed 

The Awakening of Mary 

Fenwicli 
Mary Penwlck's Daughter 

in the Suntime of Her 
Youth 



MARY E. MANN 
Moonlight 

CHARLES MARRIOTT 

The Intruding Angel 

Mrs. OLIPHANT 

The Cuckoo In the Nait 

It was a Lover and Hit 
Laas 

Janet 

AgnM 



PERCY WHITE 

Colonel Daveron 

The House of Intrigue 

Mrs. C. N. WILLIAMSON 

The Turnstile of Night 
The Silent Battle 



AUGUSTA EVANS WILSON 
St. hlmo 



33 



HURST & BLACKETT'S 

6(1. Copyright Novels 

Well printed from new type on good 

paper, and bound in attractive 

picture covers In colours. 



NEW VOLUMES for I9I5 

COUNTESS DAPHNE 

ON THE HIGH ROAD 

THE DAUGHTER-IN-LAW 

THE RIVER OF DREAMS 

THE KING OVER THE WATER 

THE GOD OF LOVE 

LOVERS OF MADEMOISELLE 

THE PRICE OF POWER 

THE HOUSE OF INTRIGUE 

COLONEL DAVERON 

BALAOO, or The Mysterious Mr. Noel 



HIS BROTHER'S KEEPER 
EUGENE VIDOCQ 
FREEDOM 



Rita 

Effie Adelaide Rowlands 

E. W. Savi 

William Westrup 

Justin H. McCarthy 

Justin H. McCarthy 

Clive Holland 

William le Queux 

Percy White 

Percy White 

Gaston Leroux 

Judge M'D. Bodkin 

Dick Donovan 

Alice and Claude Askew 



Owing to the large demand for the following Novels by 

the very popular author, EFFIE ADELAIDE ROWLANDS 
they are being reprinted :— 

Love Wins Husband and Foe 

Her Heart's Longing Love's Fire 

Her Punishment Hester Trefusis 

The Fault of One A Lovely Woman 

A Umt of Hur9t d Blaokett's 6d. Novels (over 100 titles) will 
be sent on agmlloatlon. 
24 



YB 32846 



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v2> 



THE UNIVERSITY OF CAUFORNIA UBRARY