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ALBERT DORRINGTON

LUCK AND A CYCLONE

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As published in
The Sydney Mail, Australia, 29 August 1928

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2020
Version Date: 2020-04-30
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EVERY kind of bad luck had blown into Norry Templeton's life. Bad luck and an unscrupulous land agent had sent him to Beetle River where nut-worm and pestilence gnawed at the fruits of his three years hard toil.

Beetle River is a coffee-coloured estuary that drains the swamp lands of north-eastern Malangai. At the back of Templeton's mangrove-skirted inlet dozed a thousand square miles of unsurveyed jungle and marsh. Over this mangrove-infested delta the hoof of the Beast had made a bigger impression than the heel of the man. Templeton had lost a crop of nuts that should have returned a handsome output of copra. His credit with old McMurdo, the storekeeper at Kadob, eight miles away, was ruined. McMurdo's agent in Sydney had sold him the estate, and also the myriads of rhinoceros beetles that lived on it, to say nothing of the hosts of tree-climbing crabs that took nightly toll of his crop.

On the estate were a six-roomed bungalow and some outbuildings given over long ago to the white ants and centipedes. There was fishing off the reefs. The fishing and the yams had kept Norry alive. They were the two things to be had for nothing at Beetle River.

One of the native carriers from Kadoo had left a note pinned to the verandah rail. It was from McMurdo, and reiterated the statement that unless Templeton squared his account for stores, etc., by the end of the month the penalty of forfeiture and bankruptcy would inevitably follow.

Templeton was in his twenty-fifth year, and with only his raw health to stave off McMurdo and the beetles. He sat alone on the verandah that overlooked a strip of palm-shaded beach which formed a link between the river outlet and the Pacific Ocean. Never had the air tasted so sickly and rotten. It reminded him of putrefying mangoes. The sky-fringe in the north had turned from a curious yellow to bellying clouds of steel whiteness. Strata of hot air oozed from the jungle, those strange exhalations from the poison woods that affected him like an anaesthetic.

The bald, pig-tailed head of Ah Moy peeped from the open window. Moy was his one remaining servant, whose honesty and pluck had brightened the dreadful months of heat and scourge.

"Catchem wind, sah, bymby," he intoned cheerfully. "No likee sky; no likee birds all go away yessaday. Chickens an' ole hen hide in deep hole. Sea smell likee bad melon just now, sah."

Templeton moved uneasily in his deck-chair. His eyes explored the skyline anxiously. If the wind got up to a hurricane it could only complete the ruin wrought by the beetles among his coconut palms. Time was when he might have viewed an oncoming tornado with alarm. But now it didn't matter. A man without possessions may laugh at cyclones, he told himself bitterly. The planters up the river would suffer—the men who had mixed science with their farming, the men who had countered the invading pest- swarms, only to see their lofty palms go down like skittles in some tropic hell-blast of wind and rain.

"Shut all windows, Moy, and put some grub in the cellar. I can feel something coming, something with a punch. Those poor devils on the hill will get most of the clout."

The soft slamming of windows was the prelude of the bigger slams to come. The steel-white wedge of cloud on the sky rim became a visible blade of wind cleaving the sea. This blade of wind took a leap at Templeton's palm-dotted beach, bringing with it a mountain of water that fell in a thunder-blast of foam and eddies along the reef-strewn coast.

It was the screen of salt-toughened mangroves that saved the bungalow. Deep in the slime and mud they held true while the hammers of the cyclone beat down from the north. From the far jungle-line came the crashing sound of palms uprent and stripped of their precious yield. Roofs and outbuildings disappeared in a whirlwind of leaves and flying branches.


A YEAR before Templeton had dug a cyclone cellar beneath the bungalow. Into this retreat he crawled, followed by Ah Moy, while the storm devil clutched the riven forest and taught it to scream. It screamed in a hundred voices and tongues. Rivers were blown from their beds, and the dead fishes lay in gleaming shoals over the naked mud-banks and flats.

For eighteen hours Templeton hugged his cellar while the wind piled ruin and disaster over the coastlands. In the grey dawn he awoke from his stupor filled with a superstitious uneasiness of further trouble in store.

Climbing from the cellar he reached the verandah, and stared seaward through the piled-up masses of timber and wind-torn scrub. Avalanches of surf were thundering inshore interspersed with raving masses of green water that threatened the low-lying plantations in the south. Ah Moy crouched near his elbow, his hand flung out to the millrace of foam and flying scud on the skyline.

"You see—over there, sah! One lille ship. Straight come heah. Wind no let stop. By cli, she hit um reef bymby, sah!"

A small fifty-ton yacht showed through the breaking seas, a mere toy in the running mountains of brine and spume. A few torn strips of sail whipped her yards as she tore head-on to the shore. Grabbing an old pair of binoculars from the verandah table, Templeton followed her erratic movements anxiously.

It did not take him long to discover that she was without steersman or crew. There was no sign of life about her snowy decks or poop.

"Broke from her moorings, no doubt," Templeton said, half aloud. "Poor little thing! You'll hear her scrunch on those reefs in a minute."

Just here Templeton received another surprise in the shape of a small cutter beating with the driving seas in an effort to weather the headland that formed a bay in Templeton's part of the coast.

It was McMurdo's cutter, and the binoculars revealed the old storekeeper and estate agent lashed to the tiller of his tiny craft. He was alone except for a native boy huddled in the stern.

Ah Moy laughed and shivered by turns as he watched McMurdo's efforts to prevent the swamping of the cutter by the heavy seas.

"Missa McMurdo goin' to pick up that yacht, sah," he called out. "Findin's keepings, sah. Welly pletty yacht, sah. Fetchum twenty tousan' dollars in Mombare or Saigon."

The Chinaman's words touched Templeton like a whip, stung him into sudden activity. Here was McMurdo, the copra king and land- owner, playing the game of salvage-hunter. Never in his life had the old storekeeper missed a chance to pick up any odd trifle the sea might offer. His chance of reaching the derelict yacht lay in his ability to weather the point.

The hurricane force of the wind, although somewhat abated, was against him. There were moments when the cutter disappeared from view among the sliding valleys of rushing water. With the wind astern the yacht plunged shoreward, her slender hull cleaving the mountainous crests. It was suddenly borne upon Templeton that wind and tide were driving her straight for the river's mouth, now in flood, and sheltered by the mangroves from the slamming seas and wind.


ONCE clear of the point the yacht behaved as Templeton anticipated. She missed the whaleback reef by half a cable's length. Five minutes later she was flapping her canvas strips within calm waters.

"By golly, sah," the Chinaman chuckled, "ole McMurdo too late. Allee this water belonga you—right up the creek foh one mile, sah."

Templeton's brain worked in single shafts of thought. Always a dreamer, his visions had clouded his every day actions. While other planters had waged a ceaseless war against the plant pests he had sat and dreamed.

McMurdo's cutter had fought the battle of wind and sea, had cleared the point, and was now bearing straight for the estuary. The sound of the cutter's motor galvanised Templeton into swift movement. He signed to Ah Moy.

"I'm going to board the yacht and tie her up to our jetty. Stick close, Moy, and catch any rope I drop over her rail."

The Chinaman breathed through his shut teeth as he followed Templeton to the water's edge. Here Templeton flung away his canvas coat as he waded to his breast in the swirling current, and then struck out for the yacht in midstream.

Not by a screw-beat did McMurdo slow down his fast-racing cutter. The muscles of his tough frame quivered under his silk jacket as he jerked the lashings free from his waist. His restless energy, together with his fierce lust of ownership, had made him feared and respected among the planters within the copra-belt. He had noted Templeton's move to board the yacht, and his teeth snapped over a bitter oath as he raced the cutter full- tilt into the river mouth.

"The swat of a pommy!" he gritted to the boy in the stern. "I'll show him the salvage laws in these parts. She's mine. I saw her first, curse him!"

Templeton found the flood water stronger than he had expected. For a moment it seemed as if he would be carried past the lurching, swaying vessel. His glance went up to her polished brass rails and ventilators, the spick-and-span paintwork, the shimmering nickel-plated skylights. And all for the man who could board her first and grip her wheel! The flood swept him in a half-circle under her stern, while his glance settled on a toy gangway that slanted from her starboard side almost to the water.

A night spent in a damp cyclone cellar had not keyed Templeton to a pitch where his strength cried for full play. He was tired, and a deadly undertow was slowly sapping his strength. But Templeton remembered one or more miserable failures in the past, the good things that had come so near his hand, only to be filched away by a more aggressive spirit.

His jaw was set now. His heart pounded at his ribs under the suffocating pressure or the tide. One more effort, and... The elusive toy gangway seemed to be playing its own game. At one moment his fingers almost clutched the step; the next it reared above him in the fast-moving flood. Again he fought and trudgeoned near, while McMurdo stood with his foot on the cutter's rail, a boathook grasped in his hands, ready to spring aboard the yacht the moment he forged alongside.

Templeton knew that the next few moments would give practical ownership to the first man who boarded the yacht. If McMurdo succeeded only in making a show of steering her to safety he would employ all the money at his disposal in keeping her for his own use.

Again the yacht rolled to starboard, bringing the gangway within a foot of Templeton's grasp. This time he leaped from the water, both hands looping the step. A cry of rage broke from McMurdo. "Lay off, there," he bellowed; "or I'll brain ye with the boathook!"

Templeton heaved himself from the water to the steps, while his heart seemed to stammer and halt in the fierce effort of muscle and brain. "Lay off!" the old storekeeper repeated, his long boathook stabbing in Templeton's direction. The jab missed as Templeton half-ran up the steep steps.

The soft grating of the cutter against the yacht's side told him that McMurdo was on his heels. With a forward rush Templeton gained the bridge steps, and flung himself into the deserted wheelhouse. Gripping the wheel, he put the floundering yacht over to the bungalow side of the river-bank, where the current favoured him and Ah Moy stood waiting to lend a hand.

McMurdo's boathook clutched the gangway and held the cutter fast to the yacht. In a moment he had mounted the steps, and stood for a space glaring at Templeton in the wheelhouse.

"You're mighty smart for a beetle farmer!" he sneered. "I'll ask ye to step down while I take over this little craft. Ye may know I'm a magistrate in these parts, with powers to decide on questions of marine salvage."

Templeton brought the yacht to the bank in seaman-like style. Seizing a coil of rope that lay on the bridge outside, he cast it in Moy's direction.

The Chinaman caught it cleverly and looped it round a charred tree-bole on the bank. Templeton made his end fast to a cleat and returned to the wheelhouse. The first breath of anger escaped him as his glance fell on McMurdo standing in the waist.

"Get off that deck," he commanded. "It's the owner that's talking. Get off and keep off," he added with gusto. McMurdo winced and steadied his legs as the yacht bumped the bank. Then his rage swept him to the bridge steps and up to the door of the wheelhouse.

Templeton was not inclined to be trapped inside a steering- house by a heavy-limbed, bull-necked battler of McMurdo's reputation. Templeton had once been apprenticed to the sea, and although shipboard fighting was not his speciality he knew that a wheelhouse was no place to meet a human tiger.

He stepped outside in time to meet the flailing arms and battering head of the oncoming storekeeper. Templeton had been weary and sick of soul after his long vigil in the cyclone cellar. But anger and disgust at his neighbour's methods of appropriating a valuable bit of salvage woke the slumbering youth in him that would not be denied.

He was not greedy or inclined to fight over lost property. But ruin and the wolf had recently stared in at the door. Other settlers in the district had sunk to the slime through their inability to seize the gifts of the elements. And men of McMurdo's calibre had laughed at their indecision and mistaken sense of honesty.

So... it was fight or sink in the mud with the wasters and bankrupts, or die in the coolie compounds of some ruffianly, slave-driving planter.

Fight! There was not an inch of foot-space on the yacht's poop. They clinched and rocked hither and yon, McMurdo using short wrist-blows with the venom and craft of a bar-room expert. Hip and shoulder, thigh and neck, he was pounds heavier than Templeton. And within the rat-cramped limits of the poop his poundage gave him stability and assurance.

"Quit, or I'll kill you!" he choked. "Another blow and I hand your carcase to the hillmen!"


YOUTH is difficult. It bends, staggers, and recovers with the speed of life. Templeton almost collapsed within the bear-grip of this forest-bred ruffian. The fellow' breath sickened him. But in a moment his heart had ceased to hammer his ribs. His lungs grew clear; the gorilla-like bulk of his head-butting opponent seemed to wobble and gasp like a hurt squid. Templeton was not cruel, but his blows ripped and hooked with deadly precision against the red throat and chin. His straight stabs lengthened as McMurdo recoiled the whole length of the poop.

With his back to the rail the storekeeper played his last fighting card. An open-bladed knife flew from his fist within an inch of Templeton's eye. The dagger-like point stuck with a ping in the wheelhouse door. Templeton stooped low, gripped his ankles, and the cursing, rage-blinded knife-thrower pitched over the rail into the current. Breathing like a spent colt, Templeton watched him rise to the surface and grab the boathook held out by the boy in the cutter.

"I'm sorry you've got wet, McMurdo," he called out with a laugh. "There's no malice and no heartburning now it's over. Come aboard as a friend, if you like, and we'll hunt out some whisky below."

"The whisky will keep," spluttered the old storekeeper, clambering into the cutter. "And so will your neck after my headmen have done with it."

The last threat was uttered as the cutter steered for the open bay.

Templeton descended from the poop, wiping the stains of the conflict from his face. He was hungry, and anxious to overhaul the storm-blown little vessel now in his keeping. Everything about her snowy decks revealed the good taste and wealth of her previous owners. Yet the mystery of her coming puzzled him. Was it possible that she had broken away from her moorings in some distant harbour at the first crack of the storm? And did wealthy yacht-owners leave their vessels without a single deckhand to watch over them?

IT was almost dark now. The shadowy outline of Ah Moy was scarcely visible among the storm-shattered foliage on the bank. Templeton signalled for him to keep a sharp watch on the bungalow, in case McMurdo returned unexpectedly by one of the coast tracks. The Chinaman nodded and withdrew silently towards the bungalow.

Templeton descended the brass-plated stairs that led to the yacht's spacious stateroom. In the uncertain light he made out a number of packing-cases strewn about the heavily-carpeted "floor." On a table at the foot of the stairs were a dozen birds- of-paradise, the marks of padded arrows showing on their brilliant plumage. It was evident to him that, the birds had been killed quite recently, and the mystery of the yacht's abandonment increased as he groped among the litter of butterfly cases and rare, orchid specimens, flung together during the fierce passage through the cyclone. Templeton searched for the electric switch in the hope of lighting the rapidly darkening space.

He had become conscious of a peculiar odour that did not belong to the birds or flowers around him. To his acute, fear- sharpened senses the strange effluvia seemed to come from a heavily moving body somewhere within the dark cabin corridor on his right.

Templeton had been hungry for tobacco. He had expected to unearth some cigarettes or a little wine to alleviate the inertia resulting from his recent exertions. For the first time in his life he experienced a stark sense of horror as he receded from the cabin corridor. In boyhood this unnamed terror had often come upon him when traversing an unlit passage. It was the bleak terror of hands reaching for his young body, the fear of unseen shapes stalking in his wake.

He turned again quickly, while his thumb touched an electric switch in the wall. It was then the sheaths of his nerves seemed to shrink to pulp as the light from the exhausted storage battery sparked and went out. In this momentary flash of light he saw the flat, spotted head of a king python poised almost level with his own. In the darkness he heard the faint piston-like sound of the head striking within a foot of his throat. Templeton's back- spring took him to the stairs, with twenty feet of the python's uncoiled length reeving and floundering about his ankles. Bounding up, he slammed the teak door against the upcrawling monster and turned hurriedly to the gangway. He must wait for daylight before dealing with this unexpected phenomenon.

Ah Moy had returned hastily to the bank and was gesticulating frantically in his direction.

"Somebody inside cabin, sah," he called out, indicating one of the portholes overlooking the bank. "Me see somebody stlikee match inside porthole, long way flom heah, sah. Come, quick; another match just stlikee, sah."

Templeton sprang down the gangway and turned incredulously to the portholes at hand. One of these brass-bound windows had been pushed open. The momentary glow of a match inside illumined the cabin.

The next instant it was in darkness. Pressing his face to the aperture Templeton struck a light and peered inside. A young girl in a silk kimono was lying on a couch beneath the porthole. The efforts to attract attention by holding a light to the window appeared to have exhausted her remaining strength. She lay quite still until Templeton's voice broke the fainting spell into which she was fast relapsing. She raised herself from the couch, and then sank back with the ghost of a smile in his direction.

To reach her from the saloon stairs was out of the question. All the for'ard skylights led to the state-room, where the king python still lay in waiting. To cut through the deck above the girl's cabin appeared the quickest and safest way of reaching her.

With the Chinaman's help he brought a brace and some cutting tools from the bungalow, together with a couple of hurricane lanterns and a small ladder. A space was sawn through the teak deck and cabin ceiling. With a lantern to guide him, Templeton dropped lightly through the opening and knelt beside the couch. The noise of the saw and hammer had roused her to a sense of her position. Templeton's fingers fell soothingly on her brow and wrist.

"I'll get you into my bungalow," he said in a half whisper. "My name is Norry Templeton. I'm just a planter living on the edge of the creek. Your yacht is tied up safely to the bank," he explained hurriedly. "When you are rested we'll fix things up." She rose with an effort and smiled wanly in the lantern glow. A slight Devon accent betrayed her nationality. It seemed years since he had looked upon anything so wistfully feminine.

"Thanks for your help, Mr. Templeton. I—I shall be glad to leave the yacht for a while. The last few hours I've suffered to the brink of madness."

"Please don't tell me now," he remonstrated. "My bungalow weathered the gale, and is at your service."

Norry found her an easy burden with the help of Moy's steadying hand on the ladder. Holding her in his arms he gained the deck and descended the gangway. The Chinaman followed with the lanterns until the bungalow was reached. A white moon, the size of a ripe breadfruit, had risen above the jungle rim. The wind had gone down, and the crying of pigmy geese sounded eerie in the tropic stillness as they flew in a mile-long flock to the back swamps and reaches.

Ah Moy prepared a light repast from his scanty larder while Templeton administered to the immediate needs of his young guest. Some freshly-made coffee with fruit and omelettes worked wonders in her appearance. The faint roses drove the death-tinge from her cheeks. In a little while she was seated on the lamp-lit verandah relating to the astounded young planter the curious incident which had led to the yacht's entry into Beetle River.

Her father, Sir John Caley, had fitted out the vessel at Singapore, eight months before, to collect orchids and birds within the Malay Archipelago.

"We reached the Songolo River about seven weeks ago. The chief of the village at Ambaya promised us unlimited facilities for acquiring orchids and rare birds. We had a native crew of seven, including an old serang who had sailed in many seas.

"At the junction of the Mah and Songolo rivers the outgrowing jungle forms a black arch overhead for nearly twenty miles. Progress up-river was exceedingly difficult. We did not go far.

"Last Thursday we lay in midstream with only a light line holding us to the shore. My father had gone to the village to help the carriers with some cases filled with quartz specimens.

"About three in the afternoon the storm came up. The trees overhead began to snap. One or two heavy branches fell on the deck, almost smashing the skylights. The serang said that a hurricane was coming down from the north, and sent a messenger to hasten my father's return.

"I was standing under the poop," Miss Caley went on quietly, "and saw what looked like the giant limb of a tree fall to the deck. The serang screamed a warning to me, while the crew shouted, 'Haino, hohoreira!' Before I could speak the crew and serang had disappeared over the side."

"The dogs!" Templeton gritted under his breath.

"The hohoreira is gifted with the anaconda's appetite for swallowing small cattle and stray women and children," she continued with a grimace.

"The hohoreira within a glass-house at the Zoo is a picturesque reptile, Mr. Templeton; but on the open deck of a fifty-ton yacht, lashing itself to fury and wrecking most of the chairs and the one lifeboat, one felt its ghastly strength and its murderous swiftness—

"I dashed below and locked the cabin door, hoping my father would meet the serang and come to my aid. What followed, Mr. Templeton, is not very clear to me. I was conscious only of the fearful wind and the fact that the yacht had parted her line. The hurricane carried the yacht across the river's mouth and out to sea.

"I was stunned by the fearful din and rush of water along the decks. Then I remembered that I had not closed the door at the top of the saloon stairs. If I had done so the hohoreira would have been washed overboard. As it was the dreadful thing took refuge from the storm in the passage outside my cabin!

"Once in the night I heard it beating through the water that had washed downstairs. It made me sick.... And I knew that the yacht would strike a reef sooner or later. I prayed that I would be drowned in my cabin, and not alongside the—Ugh!"

Templeton nodded in silent appreciation of her terrors.

"Your good star steered you safe," he commented after a long silence. "To-morrow I may get a wireless through to your father."

Ah Moy padded across the verandah and whispered softly to Templeton. "McMurdo is back, sah, with a p'liceman. You speakee to him, sah, or he takee the yacht away in the dark."

With a hasty word of apology to Miss Caley Templeton passed hurriedly in the direction of the river-bank. McMurdo was standing near the yacht's gangway. Beside him was Shinogi, the Japanese judo expert, whose services had been retained in Malinga by the Commissioner of Police. Shinogi was the big stick on which the Administration leaned in time of riot, and disturbance among the plantation workers.

McMurdo nodded sulkily in Templeton's direction. "I claim salvage here," he stated, hoarsely.

"Mr. Shinogi," he added, indicating the smiling judo man, "will act as my deputy until my claims are settled. In the meantime, Mr. Templeton, I can promise you a broken neck if you set foot on the yacht."

Again the Jap smiled as he waved Templeton from the vicinity of the gangway.

"Enough is as good as a wink," he muttered in his deep bass. "When I keel a man he falls to pieces an' the wind blows heem away."

"But—you can't go on that yacht," Templeton began.

"Shut up!" McMurdo interrupted fiercely. Turning to the judo man; he beckoned impatiently and strode up the gangway.

"Come aboard, Shinogi. We'll go over this hooker and make an inventory of her cargo and furniture. Knock that fellow down if he speaks again."

Shinogi followed the old storekeeper up the dark gangway. Templeton heard a string of oaths later on as McMurdo stumbled over the opening in the deck where the ladder had been lowered to assist Miss Caley from her cabin. A tense silence followed the opening of the door leading to the state-room stairs. A match was struck as both men groped for the electric switch. Their muffled voices reached Templeton on the bank. He lit a corn-cob pipe and waited. But not for long.

A sudden rush of feet accompanied by a yell of dismay came from the stateroom. McMurdo's voice split into short whines of fear as he raced for the stairs. Then a furious slamming of bodies against wood-work was heard, as though an army of wild cats had broken from the hold. The shadowy form of the old storekeeper appeared on deck as he dashed blindly for the gangway.

Templeton waited until he had left the yacht and disappeared with lunatic strides along the bank. Then he mounted the gangway and stood near the stairhead expectantly. The saloon stairs were in darkness. But there was no mistaking the nature of the Homeric conflict in progress below. From keel to truck the small vessel vibrated under the shock of hurtling bodies.

To the listening Templeton it seemed as if truckloads of iron were being shot across the state-room floor, followed by the slogging strokes of the hohoreira's scaly length against the partitions and walls. Templeton peered into the darkness below.

"I'm here, Shinogi," he called out. "How can I help?"

There was no response for a while; only the fierce slamming noises, the low, harsh breathing of the judo expert in travail.

"A light," he choked at last, "and I will twist the poison from this mud-worm. A light, sah... I trip and fall in one coil aftah another. Tashan! It is a living screw-worm."

Snatching an oilcan containing a wick from the binnacle at the head of the stairs, Templeton lit it and descended to the state- room.

The scene at the foot of the steps was one that the young Australian never forgot. The hohoreira had coiled its enormous length around the Jap's ankles, and waist. Shinogi's muscle-packed hands had gripped the soft throat until the thumbs and fingers met like teeth in a wolf-trap. His right heel had caught the hohoreira's inflated body and had flattened it to the floor. There was a curious grin on the Jap's face as he rocked to and fro in the python's toils.

"A tree worm, honourable sir; a killer of birds. It caught me in the dark; mistook Shinogi the muscle-priest for a dam spring chicken! Stand away, honourable, or the poison from these fangs may spurt and blind us!"

The iron pressure of his thumbs, the pulverising effect of his heel, relaxed the python's strangle clutch. Dragging the limp, battered length upstairs, he gave the flat head a final slam against the bulwarks. The hohoreira's fangs dripped poison as Shinogi flung the inert length overboard.

"Watch, now," he requested Templeton. From the dark reaches of the flood waters came a score of gleaming, phosphorescent shapes that circled and rushed in blinding smothers of foam around the hohoreira's sinking body. The millwheel of light and rending jaws lasted for ten seconds. In a little while the river was dark again. Shinogi smiled strangely.

"So—the shark gets the jungle worm at last. The tree- hens will sing louder to-morrow." He glanced round the deck swiftly. "Where is McMurdo?" he inquired stonily.

The old planter did not return to Beetle River. To prevent further complications Templeton explained everything at police headquarters the following day.

In response to Templeton's message a Government launch brought Sir John Caley to his daughter's side. The baronet had despaired of seeing her again. The havoc wrought by the cyclone on Templeton's property touched a tender chord in the hearts of Sir John and his daughter. They could not offer him money for his kindness, but they plotted to take him from the fever marshes that were slowly sapping his energy.

"It isn't a black serang you want, Daddy, for sea travel in these parts. Try a white man who'll be found at the wheel when the wind gets up. Try one, Daddy."

They tried Norry Templeton. He was a great success. At least, Iris Caley thought so.


THE END


Roy Glashan's Library
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