Roy Glashan's Library
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First published in The Albany Advertiser, WA, 14 Jul 1923

First e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2017
Version Date: 2017-11-25
Produced by Terry Walker, Colin Choat and Roy Glashan.

The text of this book is in the public domain in Australia.
All original content added by RGL is protected by copyright.

THIS book is a product of a collaborative effort undertaken by Project Gutenberg Australia, Roy Glashan's Library and the bibliophile Terry Walker to collect, edit and publish the works of Aidan de Brune, a colourful and prolific Australian writer whose opus is well worth saving from oblivion.

THIS sketch is set in Albany, West Australia, and was published in The Albany Advertiser while de Brune was on his walk. According to his diary, he spent a week in Albany at this time.

THE day was cold and cheerless. Out on the streets the rain pattered incessantly, running brooklets down the gutters to the Bay. Swift-flying clouds arose over the Western hills, darkening the sky and adding their quota to a miserable, wet afternoon. Indoors the fire was attractive and the latest magazines had just arrived. Picking up the English July Story Teller, I found a comfortable chair, and idly turned the leaves. "The Salving of the Berwick," by Albert Richard Wetjen. The title looked good. Romances of the sea attract me. Disregarding the preceding tales, I wandered away into the realms of adventure.

The road outside was dun-coloured and dusty, baking hot under the fierce noonday sun. But the interior of the little marine store was hotter and dustier yet, though the sun's rays were strangers to the gloom.

A good beginning. I knew I would enjoy this story. The author knew his subject and was a master of local colour.

Now, on his last trip Mulvaney did some pearl- poaching in a place that need not be named, and he made a big haul...I don't know where he coaled for the run, but he managed to reach Port Darwin in safety. He got a legitimate cargo aboard for Adelaide and sailed South.

Funny that I had just come from Darwin and I didn't know they exported anything from there nowadays, except cattle to Asia and Island ports. Still, a little licence must be allowed authors.

Captain Cush Larson walked down the road, and surveyed the little water front, with a frown still on his brow. Behind him lay the little town of Albany, on the shores of Oyster Harbour, on the South-West coast of Australia. Beyond the harbour the waters of King George's Sound shimmered in the sunlight and crisped under the trade wind. There were two ships in sight, swinging at anchor in the harbour itself. One was a two-masted, somewhat grimy looking schooner...Her name the Kaufua, painted in big white letters...could be plainly seen from the shore. The other was a steamer, a rusty looking craft, with a raking funnel and two rakish masts...She was now ingloriously engaged on the South Australian coasting run, carrying anything that offered a fragment in the way of profit. She plied between Adelaide and Fremantle.


After a few minutes' reflection of the harbour Captain Larson dropped down the few steps into his whaleboat, tied to the wharf, and muttered a few words to the two Kanakas who formed the crew.

I rubbed my eyes, for the light appeared somewhat dim. Then I picked up the magazine again. The story was decidedly interesting.

The captain shook him again savagely. He knew the man as one of the many beach-combers who looked for a living around the Albany saloons and waterfront, glad to pick up a few shillings...

A rattling good romance! I was enjoying every word of it. What was to come?

The swish of rolling seas over the stinking decks of the wrecked Berwick; the short snap of automatics; the lust of treasure. I wandered on through scene after scene until again the gallant captain returned safely to Albany.

The book slipped from my grasp and I leaned back, staring into the fire.

* * * * *

A SHOT cracked outside. Quickly I went to the door, but there was nothing to see. Seizing my hat, I walked quickly down the street towards the waterfront. There lay the vast basin of Princess Royal Harbour, hill-ringed, and calm, the wonder-haven of Western Australia. Over on the island guarding the mouth of the Sound were perched the red-roofed houses of the Quarantine Station. Far down towards the sea I could catch occasional glimpses of the long jetty, stretching out into the deep blue of the harbour waters. I walked along Stirling Terrace, seeking the marine store of Red Isaac, the Jew. Into shop after shop I peered for—

The Jew, in his dilapidated costume, consisting of faded, red dressing gown, and a pair of light straw slippers.

There were only smart white-shirted young assistants to be seen. And the stores! Who could say they were dusty and untidy?

I turned my back on the shops and looked down over Queen's Gardens to well-built warehouses, set alongside the busy railway station that connects this busy port with the capital, 300 miles away.

A White Star liner was making her stately way towards the jetty, ending her long, though swift, passage from Capetown. Where was the rusty, misshapen Kanfua, with her crew of semi-pirates?

I looked around for the Albany saloons, and my eyes fell on the magnificent Freemasons' Hotel, a hostel worthy of a place in any of the capital cities of Australia. Where were the beachcombers and the sweating Kanakas? They would certainly shiver in the very mild atmosphere.

A voice at my elbow. I turned, and shook hands with his Worship the Mayor. Instinctively I glanced down to his hip for the swinging weapons. My eyes rested on immaculate morning dress- -the trousers beautifully creased. I began to think there was a mistake somewhere.

"By the way, Mr. Mayor, when did you remove Albany from beside the waters of Oyster Harbour?"

The Mayor looked distressed, and backed away a few steps.

"Is the wharf still there, or did you bring it away with the town?" I continued. "And are there any Kanakas and beachcombers still there?" A police sergeant approached slowly. The Mayor laid his hand gently on my arm.

"It is hot to-day, Mr. de Brune," he said soothingly. "You forget Albany was established on the shores of Princess Royal Harbour by Major Lockyer in the year 1827."

He paused and turned to beckon the officer.

"Oyster Harbour is the other side of Middleton Beach," he continued, "some five miles down the coast and Kanakas and beachcombers only frequent the Northern shores. Will you let the sergeant see you back to your quarters? You will be better after a short rest."

I thought so, too. A too imaginative author is as bad as a night out with the boys.


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Go to Home Page
This work is in the Australian public domain.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.