Sailing With Strangers: A Story of Courage, Survival and Living a Dream
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Big risks yield big rewards. It may force you to question your own life decisions, it may give you the inspiration you need to embark on your own scary adventure, or it may simply take you on a hair-raising boat trip through the South Pacific with a terrified woman and her clumsy-but-lovable Argentinean boyfriend. Is there a movie in your future? Somewhere in Hollywood, Love with a Chance of Drowning is being adapted into a script right now. If all goes to plan, there will indeed be a film.
How do you do it?
There are a few ways to see the Pacific without having to buy your own boat:. What would you tell a person who wants to try something new but who is afraid? I believe that if you get that nagging urge to try something new and you find yourself hesitating because of fear, the only reasonable path to take is to follow through with it.
Your world becomes smaller. A little piece of you dies, and regret grows in its place. For more of Torre, you can visit her website, Fearful Adventurer , and you can get her book on Amazon or in your local book store I highly recommend it! Want to share your tips and advice? Visit the community forum to ask questions, get answers, meet people, and share your tips!
I love that she started conquering her fears with something seemingly small like just wanting to go to San Francisco. Your answer to the second last question is great advice. I think I fear regret more than anything else.
Fourteen: A Daughter's Memoir of Adventure, Sailing, and Survival by Leslie Johansen Nack
What would you tell a person who wants to try something new, but who is afraid? Torres answer to that question is the key to happiness for me. Hesitation is a killer of dreams and following through is so chalk full of fulfillment and rewards, tangible and intangible. Oh wait, did I write that last one down? Grab it and enjoy the ride! A really interesting interview especially the elements relating to overcoming fear…did you conduct the interview face to face or by presenting your questions for answers in her own time?
Look forward to burying my nose in her book sometime soon! Could not put it down — and have passed it on to my friends to read. Thanks for the inspiration and for sharing your story. I am envious — I have always wanted to go on a big sailboat adventure but have never done it — you were incredibly lucky to have found a good sailor to go with — will keep in touch to see what you do next!
Due to the age of this post and the difficulty in moderating lots of posts spam, comments here have been turned off. If you would like to continue the discussion, head over to the forums at http: I post frequently and reply to threads on the boards! What were some of your top three moments sailing the pacific? She taught me that adventurers are not always fearless, which inspired the name of my blog Fearful Adventurer.
Being welcomed with huge bear hugs by islanders in destinations accessible only by boat. We were taken in like family. There are a few ways to see the Pacific without having to buy your own boat: It also takes passengers on its route through the Marquesas, the Tuamotus, and the Society Islands. You can hire a skipper and crew, or you can bareboat. From Tahiti, you can sail a couple of days northeast to reach the Tuamotus.
So a duel to the finish by gunfire is quickly agreed upon, as was the way of the world in those parts in those days before the advent of the mounted police. Although the others are loth to lose one of their comrades, there seems to be no way to prevent the foolish fight, until the hero of the story, the Malemute Kid who appears in several other Klondike tales comes along and finds a way to put everything right and save face all around. Told in sometimes-hard-to-understand vernacular, this little narrative does succeed in conveying a convincing image of the conditions in remote mining communities in those pioneer days.
Full of unexpected twists and turns, written in the first person in a dry and very indirectly-droll manner, this striking story is a real gem, one of the first, if not the very first!? The going is hard, especially north of the Great Slave Lake and along the giant Mackenzie River, and our two anti-heroes being natural slackers constantly shirking their fair share of the work are increasingly ostracized from the group, until they finally decide to spend the winter in an isolated cabin rather than pursue the too-arduous journey across virgin territory in the winter season.
The account of the slow decline of the physical and moral health of the men until the final paroxysmal climax of the story can leave no reader indifferent. The reader, but unfortunately not the young and deserving woman, grows increasingly annoyed by the priestly meddling in affairs of the heart and his smooth moralizing which, objectively, does much more harm than good, as even he almost admits at the end. Perhaps for the Catholic reader this story has a satisfying message no divorce, please , but for others today and probably even then it is disappointingly flat and unconvincing, we are sorry to say.
A fairly juvenile joke all round. Where she is poorly received by one and all, sophisticated white women from the South having established a new social hierarchy in the now-civilized town, a hierarchy where native women have little or no place at all. Where the confrontation with the Greek dancer and her foolish husband is even more interesting than the group had thought it would be.
An interesting albeit lightly-handled exploration of the theme of the social role of women in general and aboriginal women in particular in the male-dominated Northland society. Not quite convincing on strict historical grounds a reference to Louis Quatorze in ? Perhaps it is a shame that this was the only historical fiction written by Jack London, with the mock-prehistorical The First Poet Happily, success crowned the effort.
By the time of our great-grandchildren, it may have increased to forty years. And again, we ourselves may see it actually doubled. Good fun, with a nice touch of scientific credibility. The story starts off with the following striking description of its fourteen-year-old eponymous central character: He has never seen a train of cars or an elevator in his life, and for that matter, he has never once looked upon a corn-field, a plow, a cow, or even a chicken.
He has never had a pair of shoes on his feet, or gone to a picnic or a party, or talked to a girl. But he has seen the sun at midnight, watched the ice-jams on one of the mightiest of rivers, and played beneath the northern lights, the one white child in thousands of square miles of frozen wilderness. They were weak and paused often, catching themselves, in the act of stooping, with giddy motions, or staggering to the center of operations with their knees shaking like castanets.
After each trip they rested for a moment, as though sick and deadly weary. The Indian leader of the expedition has to insist on the military-like discipline necessary for survival in these conditions, but rebellion is brewing and the survival of the whole group is at stake. Rough and ready justice will be meted out, and the reader will be left reeling with the force of this stunning story. Light but full of good dog- and sled-lore.
Intense suffering and abnegation throughout, with a not very happy end, we might almost say of course. Very light in tone and in content. One gorgeous, glorious fight, and end the whole damn business! But he is offered shelter in a hidden corner of a shack by a stranger who has followed him during his flight, and there he stays undetected for months until the manhunt finally dies down. When the coast is clear, his host accompanies him with a dog-team to the Canadian border on the Yukon, where there is a final settling of accounts, as his saviour was a close friend of the slain man.
Marred slightly by the quasi-racist portrayal of the villain of the piece as a typical? French-Canadian, this story contains a quite celebrated and particularly dramatic description of the fearful passage over the infamous Dead Horse Trail where thousands of horses died during the Klondike Gold Rush in They died at the Rocks, they were poisoned at the Summit, and they starved at the Lakes; they fell off the trail, what there was of it, or they went through it; in the river they drowned under their loads, or were smashed to pieces against the boulders; they snapped their legs in the crevices and broke their backs falling backwards with their packs; in the sloughs they sank from sight or smothered in the slime, and they were disemboweled in the bogs where the corduroy logs turned end up in the mud; men shot them, worked them to death, and when they were gone, went back to the beach and bought more.
Some did not bother to shoot them, - stripping the saddles off and the shoes and leaving them where they fell. Their hearts turned to stone - those which did not break - and they became beasts, the men on Dead Horse Trail. An early and too-succinct version of the later Flush of Gold His narrative of the terrible hardships and suffering that they endured is one of the most dramatic and powerful in the whole Jack London opus. Sort of funny in a somewhat sick way, at least to our modern, soft southern ears.
Waiting for the train that will take him far away he wanders through the various places where they used to go, and where they had shared so many fond memories. Not at all bad, if you like that sort of thing, which a lot of people do, it must be admitted The story turns from farce to high drama as the deluded miser becomes convinced that the traveller has stolen his secret horde of gold dust and prepares to either hang or shoot the dreaded gash-man.
Sort of amusing in spite of all the crude violence and superstition. Throughout the night and most of the next day, through thick snow in the biting cold, they trudge forward in a desperate effort to arrive in time to find an unclaimed stretch along the new Eldorado and fulfil their most treasured dreams.
A gripping account of the physical and mental hardships — and the occasional joys - that people lived through in the days of the Klondike gold rush. But then they realize that their predecessor is in difficulty up there and that they not only have to get up there too but have to find a way to bring him down. One of the four refuses to let the girl be sacrificed without putting up what the others see as a fight against hopeless odds. A grim but engrossing tale with a strong moral fibre. She does locate him far downriver, settled in with a robust and protective native wife, whose very presence is the main obstacle to the reconciliation that the southern woman had done so much to accomplish.
But Dave Payne and Winapie have treasured memories in common too The theme of the clash of cultures from a feminine point of view is a good one, but perhaps not an area where JL shines the brightest. A good tall tale. In the course of these considerations one of the men recounts how he had won his beloved Indian wife in spite of the opposition of her father and his whole tribe, and remembers how her spirit and devotion had accompanied him so effectively through the good times and bad that they had shared for seven years before her death in childbirth.
He meditates on his past, on the past of his people and on his fate — the law of life — as wolves edge ever closer around the dying flames. A stunning investigation of the mindset of the ancient inhabitants of the Far North. Their worst fears are realized, and a Russian war cruiser takes them in tow — but the young cabin boy who has been brought on board the cruiser finds a daring way to save the ship and his comrades. Certainly no doubt based partially on personal experience, as the author himself went on a months-long seal-fishing expedition off the coasts of Japan at the ripe old age of An odd mix of the light and the dark.
A light and amusing tale of high-and-low jinks in the gold-rush town of Dawson. When the deadline for payment is up another anti-capitalist diatribe announces the forthcoming death of an innocent worker at a given date in Central Park, and more letters arrive at ever-frequent intervals, each one defining the nature and the exact date of the next murder of a policeman, of a nurse, of a family friend and more.
The hatred of big business and of the whole private-enterprise system emanating from each of these long texts is quite mind-numbingly shocking but it must be said almost contemporary in its anti-capitalist animosity, carried here however, it must be said, to extreme not to say criminal extremes.
In that context it is perhaps worth mentioning that the passionate politics evidenced by this surprising text are totally absent from the quasi-totality of the pure-fiction narratives of this talented and also very radical-minded author. When a missionary arrives bent on proselytizing the Indian village, the prospector is summoned by Red Baptiste to abandon him to the violent fate that awaits him; but out of solidarity for his fellow white man the prospector and his partner elect to stand up for the principle of solidarity.
Both sides win, and lose, in the final showdown and what follows. Ambitious and wide-reaching, albeit ultra-violent, food for much thought. So Chris has to prove his mettle and his seamanship, which he does with flying colours when raging storms and a totally incompetent captain menace the very existence of the ship and its men. Clearly written for a youthful audience, this rousing tale convincingly gets its message of make-place-for-youth across, with brio. Church and State and hooch. Somewhat too supercilious about native credulity to be convincing today, though. Life is a continuing battle between the two of them to dominate and if possible kill or at least maim the other.
The violence and tension never let up, and it all ends up very badly for both of them, of course. These men are seriously trying to board their sailing boat to get back at the boys for their misdeed, and in the fight to repel them the boys quite lose their nostalgia for the excitement of piratical times gone past. He is either the biggest liar in the world or a spirit, and is therefore sent back to the Arctic sea by the village council.
An interesting but, one cannot help feeling, overdone and over-simplified investigation into the mindset of aboriginal people. She tries to fraternize with a couple of wealthy American women who are visiting the diggings and who are interested in her native finery, but her very domineering native husband is very much to be reckoned with, as the only law either of them knows is that man is the master of woman.
Two shamans do their best to resolve the mystery with their traditionally mystic methods, despite the scornful quips of a cynical young tribesman. And the culprit is indeed, somewhat to our surprise, discovered by the wily village shaman — and appropriately punished in the traditional manner by the villagers.
What starts out as a lark takes on dark overtones indeed in this quite violent denunciation of the downside of the traditional way of life of aboriginal peoples. The violent events that led up to this state of affairs is described through the eyes of one of the few male survivors of the clash between the then-populous and normally-aggressive villagers and a small party of white sailors.
The villagers have learned the hard way to accept the continued presence of white miners on their land. Once again ultra-violence has characterized the incursion of the white man into aboriginal territory. Told, most effectively, from the native point of view. Probably, one regrets to conclude Neil Bonner has been sent for five years to serve the PC Company in the northern wilderness, and has currently been exiled to a small outpost on the Yukon River after a quarrel with a hierarchical superior. That is, until the steamboats came During the trial he recounts, through an interpreter who is one of the very few survivors of his once-proud nation, why and how he and other old men of the tribe the young ones having all gone to find work in the mining camps had set out on an all-out war of extermination of the white men whose presence was having such a catastrophic impact on their centuries-old way of life.
Very bitter, very strong and very sad. Which he manages to do in spite of pay-now-or-else demands by one and all. Written with a certain outdated even then? He is absolutely determined to get there at any price with his precious cargo in spite of the seemingly-insurmountable obstacles and lack of available transport, of food, and of adequate clothing, and especially the atrocious weather conditions throughout the whole voyage.
One knows by the somewhat mocking tone used from the start that his incredible efforts and quite extraordinary suffering will turn out to have been in vain, but one is nevertheless awed by the vividness of this gripping account of the incredible hardships that he and many thousands of other gold-rushers had to go through just get up to the promised land in the Yukon in those terribly tough times. They have been lifelong friends but also determined rivals in just about everything, and when Dora comes along the competition to outdo the other in everything starts getting really out of hand, as both have become expert chemists and are each working on a revolutionary new chemical inventions that will definitively outdo the other.
Pretty darned original science-fiction, and long before the genre became fashionable. However, John Fox, born and reared on the frontier fringe of the United States, is not as simple or as easy to trifle with as the chief or the reader might suppose. Full of wit and frontier lore, this charming tale is particularly successful. The description of the marriage negotiation with the wily chief is a veritable morceau de bravoure.
Fourteen: A Daughter's Memoir of Adventure, Sailing, and Survival
Our old-timers decide to join in the rush when a stream of gold-rushers start coming up from further down-river, and this is the story of how they both hit and missed the big time too. This is the story of Keesh, who lived long ago on the rim of the polar sea, and how he used headcraft and not witchcraft to become a famous bear-killer and the head man of his village. Brain not brawn wins the day, as we others say. The surprise attack on the sampans of a well-organized band of Chinese-speaking fishermen works well, but our youthful narrator finds himself trying to take almost single-handedly — and unarmed — a boatload of uncooperative prisoners back to shore while his damaged sloop is sinking ever lower and the captives are getting ever more aggressive.
A good adventure story particularly aimed at younger readers, with a good deal of expert-sounding sailing lore artfully interwoven with the plot. But the youthful crew of the Fish Patrol just know there must be a way using brains rather than brawn to bring him to justice if only they could find it, which they do.
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For young people and sailing enthusiasts, particularly. When the wealthy proprietor of a major oyster bed offers a big reward to whoever can catch them red-handed and bring them to justice, the youthful heroes of this story put their heads together and come up with a risky but not impossible scheme for doing just that. The slowest and one of the longest of the Fish Patrol series of stories.
The young narrator and his partner, both expert sailors themselves with what they thought was the fastest boat around to boot, try as hard as they can to catch him, but to no avail — so a way has to be found to outwit this over-confident fish pirate and bring him to justice. But on the way there — by boat of course — they run into an illegal shrimp-fishing boat, and he has to escort the dangerous fish-pirates — led by his mortal enemy, a very vicious Chinaman who is dying for revenge for having been imprisoned previously by our guys — to shore.
This last trip turns out to be the worst and scariest of them all. A good story for boys and everyone a bit young-at-heart too. Long and lyrical with a hard-nosed touch, a quintessential Klondike story. Starkly related by an Indian guide who had accompanied them on their savage quest, this is yet another intense exploration of the extreme limits to which some exceptional men and women can push themselves to, especially in the Far North. No sacrifice or effort or suffering is too great to interfere with their fierce and fearsome will to pull through, which one of them somehow manages to do.
A long and intense story about the extreme lengths that men are capable of going to in order to survive, that can leave no one indifferent. With a dose of humour and a large dose of exaggeration, this is a light tongue-in-cheek parable, that with its curious conception of Eastern mores and social conditions has not well passed the test of time.
The horseback-riding scenes are quite marvellously well done, but the excessively-long unrequited-love scene is distinctly less so, and the central spiritualist theme incarnated by Planchette has quite lost any impact it might have had over a century ago when this uneven novella was written. The problem remains of what to do with him, as the cabin will be snowed in for months more. Contrary to the urging of her husband, Edith firmly refuses to shoot him out of hand in spite of the danger he represents.
A grim tale with an unusual concentration on the punishment side of the universal Crime and Punishment quandary in a small close-knit and isolated community. In the end the decision is up to Brown Wolf: One thing is for sure — Jack London knows a lot and writes very well indeed about dogs! Lacks coherence and punch though, somehow. But when wood is selling in Dawson at forty dollars a cord and you are seventeen and you have assured your partner that you will return with a sled-load of firewood, perhaps you are more reckless or at least willing to take risks than most.
An excellent tale for younger people. But although she has a lot going for her - looks, piano-playing and much youthful charm - she has a shameful secret that, so she has been told by her former lover, prevents her from marrying anyone else. The kernel of this sketch is the dialogue whereby the silly creature confides her secret to a man who would ever so much like to play a large role in her future. Sort of amusing in a very minor way, this was later transformed into a titillating, but still silly and quite commercially-successful little play.
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A moving albeit somewhat simplistic reflection on the cultural impact of the representatives of modern civilization on the Northland aboriginal peoples. But he has had to sell or mortgage all his properties and has run up a huge debt with the village money-lender Porportuk, who hankers after El-Soo who has been educated by missionaries and who is clever and capable as well as being the most desirable young maiden in the Yukon.
To escape the clutches of the old usurer, El-Soo organizes an auction to sell herself to the highest bidder at the gathering of tribes at the yearly salmon run, attended by one and all and by many wealthy white prospectors and traders come for the occasion. The miser Porportuk who is immensely wealthy is determined to outbid everyone, but the stalwart Akoon, her suitor, openly threatens to shoot anyone who tries to buy his loved one.
The outcome of this conflict not only of generations but of the traditional free-spending, devil-may-care old ways and the hard-nosed materialism of the new age is resolved, after the extravagant auction has been concluded, in an unexpected — and of course violent, this being the Klondike of Jack London — manner that the reader will not forget in a hurry. Well, they do have a secret and, innocent as it is, it rather spoils the splendour of the model that they had become for the pair of dear friends who have started the story off with a discussion of just what goes into the making of a perfect existence over a glass or two of golden California wine.
The over-lyrical tone and language of the dialogues, both inner and outer alike, reinforce the impression of an interesting subject not quite successfully treated. The basic idea is interesting — later on Georges Simenon would do this kind of story fuller and more subtler justice — but the execution is rather too bleak and straightforward, and the characters just too one-dimensional for the story to be as interesting as it perhaps could have been, or maybe would have been if the author had set it in a more exotic setting Slow but solid and insightful about a major social phenomena indeed.
We see him deal first with a big moose and then with a pack of wolves that momentarily disrupt his plans, and follow in stunning detail his dramatic and bloody - and final - encounter with three victims who finally appear on the trail. A tale of crime in the frozen north that will chill your blood. There are unforeseen delays though, and a desperate dash needs to be made to catch the last relay boat before it is too late.
This is the almost incredible odyssey of a man driving forward against all odds and in spite of the most terrible conditions and obstacles imaginable to catch up with the relay boat at all costs, always carrying the heavy knapsack that he dares not consign to anyone else. Although the combination of pitfalls and difficulties that our man has to face to win through may seem a tad contrived on the whole, this is a fascinating condensate of the extraordinary hardships experienced by so many travellers in the gold-rush era of the Yukon.
See a Problem?
This is the narrative of one of his owners, told in a quite irresistibly wry, tongue-in-cheek manner, describing the desperate efforts he and his gold-mining partner had exerted to train, tame, trade, sell or otherwise dispose of this unusual — and highly intelligent — animal that has just about the strongest personalty of any dog I have ever read about. By Gawd, Jack London sure knew how to write about dawgs!!
Conditions are not good on board and the captain is determined at all costs to break through westwards. Will the captain stop the run to go back to pick him up? But it is colder than he thought, there are dangerous pitfalls along the way, and he has seriously underestimated the dangers and difficulties of simply surviving in such extreme conditions. A stark and chilling!
And so it is, in spite of the barrenness of its setting of snow and ice and yet more snow and ice and its solitary central character somewhat foolishly stumbling towards his doom. Quite perfect for younger readers in spite of its theme of suffering in the face of the awesome power of the elements. And a special focus of interest is a most admirable wolf-dog accompanying the prospector, who is a lot craftier and in tune with his environment than his master. And which set him off on his murderous campaign to revenge himself on the world, culminating in the German-American War of !
But all good things must come to an end Sort of original really — a mad scientist bent on destroying the world is not as far-fetched as it may have seemed to readers at the time! Only Walter Basset accepts the invitation on the appointed day — and the nine others are all found dead of a mysterious disintegration of their cell tissues.
Follows a similar invitation to ten political leaders, all of whom ignore the summons and who equally suffer a sudden and violent demise, which causes the US navy to launch an all-out assault on the island retreat, with disastrous consequences to the ex- fleet. By royalty worldwide had been abolished, by the working day reduced to two hours, the maximum working age to forty-eight, and prosperity and happiness has flourished all over the world.
A truly amazing albeit delirious socialist dream. Definitely too pessimistic by far at the time of writing, this is just so negative about the capability of the capitalist system to evolve towards a more humane and enlightened fate for the mass of the population that is is almost unreadable today. But it certainly provides insight into the political mindset of the articulate far-left of the early 20th Century. As purely science-fiction it is sort of passable, albeit too wrapped up in the hateful aspects of class struggle to be anything more than that. Subienkow had travelled a long trail of bitterness and horror, homing like a dove for the capitals of Europe, and here, farther away than ever, in Russian America, the trail ceased.
He sat in the snow, arms tied behind him, waiting the torture. He stared curiously before him at a huge Cossack, prone in the snow, moaning in his pain. The men had finished handling the giant and turned him over to the women. This quite unforgettable drama manages to integrate that something special which, above and beyond the story line, talks to us of the universal essence of the life experience, and elevates it to the rarefied level of an eternal literary masterpiece.
Extensive discussions ensue about open shops, closed shops, strike-breaking and police and employer violence which have somewhat lost their sting today but which must certainly have been hot topics at the time of writing. And the chaotic issue of the general strike is quite different from what the armchair reader of today would have expected Extreme violence and carnage and intense suffering by all concerned - London trademarks - but a surprisingly satisfying outcome. And the most hair-raising, eyewitness-like description of just what a strong hurricane is like that you will ever read Guided by the governor of Pitcairn Island, they set out on on this desperate dash for safety, but fog, wayward currents, a hurricane wind and plain bad luck combine to make their chances of coming to safety ever more remote.
A cracking good story of the sea and sailing, of seamanship and the struggle to remain calm in the face of extreme danger in a very hostile environment. The central character in this militant tale of working-class struggle, strife and strikes lives in both worlds: He had become two different men with two different personalities, one a class-conscious and militant union man actively participating in the struggles around him, the other a detached and ratiocinating professor aloofly observing and analyzing the outside world.
But things come to a boil when each of his separate personalities finds an ideal mate of its own kind, each on separate sides of the social divide. Marriage if not polygamy is on the cards, and things come to a crunch when both sides of his personality get swept up in a violent city-wide Meat Strike. A fable providing interesting insight into the tense and often violent social and labour relations that were prevalent in sunny California then and for long afterwards too. Above and beyond the question of the treatment of leprosy in those un enlightened days, the critical tone of this seemingly-straightforward social fable is established from the start by the following semi-sarcastic and bitingly bitter remarks about the history of the American colonization of those islands: The humble New Englanders who came out in the third decade of the nineteenth century, came for the lofty purpose of teaching the kanakas the true religion, the worship of the one and only genuine and undeniable God.
So well did they succeed in this, and also in civilizing the kanaka, that by the second or third generation he was practically extinct. This being the fruit of the seed of the Gospel, the fruit of the seed of the missionaries the sons and the grandsons was the possession of the islands themselves — of the land, the ports, the town sites and the sugar plantations.
The missionary who came to give the bread of life remained to gobble up the whole heathen feast. Related by Ah Cho in rudimentary language, the account is a tad too simplistic to be quite satisfying, but it impresses nevertheless. Yet the Sheriff of Kona, an athlete and a giant, left this island paradise with all his family, and this sad story of disease leprosy, that curse of Hawaii and despair tells why and how.
They became blood brothers, a sacred bond in those parts involving notably the exchange of names, and were inseparable from there on. This very moving tale details the workings of that unbreakable bond for the rest of their existences. In the moving closing words of the author: But times are hard, very hard, and he just cannot have the good piece of steak that he knows from experience his body needs to meet the challenge of the up-and-coming upstart he is about to confront. The account of his struggle to nevertheless dominate his opponent through fifteen long and bitter rounds, interspersed with flashbacks to to his days of glory and to scenes illustrating the dramatic social conditions of the time, is expertly told — the author must surely have been a practitioner of the noble art himself — and is as tense and dramatic and full of emotional impact and social import as any sports story that I have ever read.
This is the story of their struggle to remain free, heightened in intensity from start to finish by the fiery anti-missionary and anti-governmental diatribes of their determined but doomed leader. Were race relations really that bad in the bad old days of the early 20th Century in Hawaii? This is the story of the hardships he endured, of his numerous and often bloody and always-severely-punished attempts to escape, and in general of what it was like in the early days of the 20th Century to be what can safely be described as a basically very savage stone-age head-hunting Melanesian islander trying to come to terms with the encroachments of the white man and his all-conquering civilization.
He courageously proceeds inland to the mountains where no white man had ever penetrated before, but unfortunately for him one of his converts, who secretly resents the new morals, has sent a messenger before him with a magnificent whale-tooth as present for the chief of the mountain stronghold he is set on visiting - a present which obliges the receiver to accede to whatever request is made by the giver.
It ends badly, of course, except for the headhunters, that is. Hard-working, very astute and doted with a second sight for investment opportunities, he has acquired not only an immense fortune and a position of great social importance in Hawaii, but also a wife of mixed European origins and a family of fifteen magnificent children, all educated in the finest universities in the West.
Key problems remain to be solved however: It will come as no surprise to know that Ah Chun rises to the challenge and finds a most satisfactory solution to all of these conundrums. Although we know that race relations were very different when this story was written from what they are today, nevertheless the racist terminology and the casual callousness by which blacks are murdered out-of-hand throughout this long and extraordinarily-bloody farce are just too much for the modern reader.
True, the natives are head-hunters and man-eaters and just as bent on murder and mayhem as any of the white sailors and settlers in the story, but no, in spite of the subjacent humour and the liveliness of the action, this story is more a testimonial to the misguided white-superiority ideology of so many Europeans and Americans, including the author one has to admit of those times than an acceptable work of literature for our hopefully-more-enlightened days.
So we read on about how this crack sharpshooter succeeds in warding off masses of attacking head-hunting savages during a recruitment drive for hired labour among the Solomon Islands. With the end of traditional famines, the population of China explodes until they outnumber the Japanese by tenfold and begin to overflow into neighbouring regions.
The Japanese are politely sent back to their tiny islands to cultivate their culture, the French in Indochina are swallowed up by a million well-armed troops and their families, and the flood of industrious and ever-more-numerous Chinese migrants continues into the rest of Asia and beyond. The West is terrified and powerless — if the amazing expansion of the Chinese population continues they will number a billion and a half by the end of the 20th century! Invasion of China is impossible, as an abortive attempt by the French, who lost an entire army of , men in trying to do just that, had shown.
The new modern and ever-impenetrable China seemed irresistible — but in a scientist in New York has a very nasty idea that just might work A pessimistic and antagonistic perception of East-West relations, a quite amazing reflection of the widespread Yellow Peril mentality of the time. But his family gathers round and justice will be done.
And this is the story of that wild man, in fact the owner of the mansion who is a successful businessman by day and a primitive Teuton of the Stone Age by night. The police and the judges are even worse than the very rough men in the low dive he wanders into, but our man manages to get his own back in the end.
A story certainly inspired by a somewhat similar true-life experience of the author.
Love, Fear, and a Chance of Drowning with Torre DeRoche
Then one evening one of the natives tells him how some twenty years previously they had, in keeping with a centuries-long tradition, launched a surprise attack on a schooner that had unsuspectingly entered their lagoon, and how in spite of their overwhelming superiority one of the crew members, armed with a repeater rifle, had managed to escape the massacre with a few other crewmen, taunting the attackers all the time with the strange cry of the title.
The islander goes on to detail the terrible consequences of that bloody battle, and we come away, with the narrator, wiser — and a lot sadder — about just how Western civilization spread to that particular part of the world. He is approaching middle age now and is as prurient - and convinced of his inner moral superiority - as ever, and particularly ill at ease with the loose Hawaiian morals he sees flourishing all around him.
When he discovers that one of the objects of is moral opprobrium and intolerance is in fact an illegitimate son of his idealized father, his stern moral outlook begins to crumble. But people of his ilk do not change their world outlook on the spur of the moment Although he is armed with a revolver and just wants to leave now that she has come, he is soft-spoken and clearly not too dangerous, so she engages him in conversation to better understand his motives.
The more they talk, the more the roles become reversed, and we discover that the lady is not as beautiful a person as we had thought at the beginning of the story Things go from bad to tragic until fate lends a helping hand. It drifts demasted for days without sighting another ship, with no shelter and above all practically no food for the survivors. Too grim for words. She engages him in conversation when he wakes up, and the tramp, a hardened ex-convict, relives the terrible things he has seen and done as he contemplates her innocence and purity.
Something that soothes his savage soul emanates from the little girl though, and as we follow their conversation and learn more about the two of them, the full effect of this rare and hard-to-forget story builds up to a suitably emotional climax. But how continued wife-stealing and the growth of inequalities resulted in the dispersion and destruction of the once-prosperous tribe so that their little group was now all that was left.
You have to be smarter than I am to figure out exactly what is going on, though. Grief catches up with him at a remote island in the Solomons, but the polite discussion that ensues rapidly escalates and bullets soon start flying. Unfortunately the story is quite spoiled for us today because of the off-handed racist slants against the native islanders that abound from the beginning, which may have seemed at the time to be appropriate language for the rough men who utter them, but which are quite simply intolerable to us today.
The meat of the title is bear-meat, the gauge of a fire-eating all-out tough guy who can do anything and come through any difficulty according to Shorty, his fellow hired packer, and boy, do they both earn that honoured title before they finally manage to somehow make it through rapids and ice-jams and dangers galore all the way to Dawson. Somehow almost oddly lighthearted in tone, perhaps because of the twangy-western kind of vernacular used throughout the extensive dialogues. Short but very gripping, most impressive.
David and his crew ship arms in the middle of the night to the surviving natives, and launch an all-out campaign to exterminate the invaders. But the heavily-armed pirates recoil at nothing and use their many hostages for protection, so the struggle is uncertain at best. A long but well-paced and credible tale of strife and mayhem in those not-so-idyllic-after-all parts. While still on the outskirts of town they discover that there are a thousand men ahead of them with the same idea in mind, and a further ten thousand coming along fast behind - a typical Dawson stampede is under way!
But some of them are stronger and wilier - and luckier - than it would appear, as they find out the hard way.