Pages 04 – 05 / 1942

Page 04 / Left
End of a joke/about a vicar playing rugby
(starts on Spread 7, right hand page).

“It occurred to him that all these calculations and reflections had listed a considerable time during which he had been running very swiftly, and yet he had not advanced one yard towards the goal.

“This is damned funny” he said, half aloud.

“Damned perhaps”, said the full-back, sarcastically, “but wait till you have spent a few centuries calculating your chances of passing me, before deciding whether it is funny”.

“Hell”, said the vicar.

“Yes”, said the full-back, with a shrug of his celestial shoulders.”

Page 05 / Right
Account of shark hunting (with dynamite).
No name or signature.

“Among the small islands, the skipper of a small boat finds little trade. Sometimes he will be lucky enough to pick up a small cargo of pearl-shell or copra, or maybe he will have an extra stroke of luck and pick up a lump of ambergris. But these things don’t very often happen. ‘Blackbirding’, the signing on of black boys for working plantations on the other islands, is nearly finished, though it does still happen that a Captain will be fortunate to find a human cargo. So, if a skipper wants to live, to find enough money for gins and whiskies, he must turn his hand to other things.

The best way of making a living, is shark hunting. These man eating monsters hound the pacific in large numbers, flocking around the smaller islands and atolls – eating what sea carrion they can find, sometimes daring inshore to seize some poor native woman as she stands with her fish spear poised for a throw. The small islanders leave all possible work to his women, and often they even make them hunt for fish, while the husbands and lovers lay idle, dreaming in the shade of the palm trees. The native has a simple, but never failing way of catching sharks. Swimming out with a knife between his teeth, he will dive beneath the fish, and rip open the whole belly with the sharp knife, and it is seldom that the native is caught – unless he is fool enough to wear anything white. Light colors are to a shark what a red rag is to a bull, and he will rush everything in the water that is white or whiteish in colour, but we are getting away from our subject.

Come aboard with me – aboard a dirty little hooker, hardly worth the name of a ship. The paint is peeling off in great flakes, showing large patches of rusty, barnacled steel plating, there is a forlorn, deserted appearance about the whole ship, a mute appeal to a stranger, to look at her, and pity her in her misery. She won’t sail for another hour yet, so we’ll have a spot of breakfast while the Kanakas bustle about, stowing charges of dynamite and putting putrified hunks of meat below. The ‘Old Man’ waves us to a table, and a boy sets before us the usual muddy, paraffin tea, hard bread, rancid butter and a greasy plate of bacon. It’s no use refusing it because it’s all you’ll get for a few hours. Once we sail there will be more important work at hand than eating; Breakfast over, we lean back with a contraband cigar in our mouth’s [sp], and a glass of ‘Square Face at our elbows; until a quivering crash beneath our feet tells us that the worn out engines are doing their best, and we are away.

The ‘Old Man’ goes on deck, and we follow at our leisure to find a Tower of Babel all around us. The Kanaka mate is shrieking at the crew – the ‘Old Man’ curses the mate – and sticks and rigging groan and squeak, as the ‘Waiata-Hina’ plunges and bulks on the rollers, and above us – hundreds of gulls squeal and clamour. Everything normal in fact.

We shall be fishing just beyond the reefs, so there is not a great distance to go, and soon the ‘Old Man’ yells for the anchor to be dropped. All round us are small islands, green dots with white.