• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 05
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Jake loved playing practical jokes. He put cockroaches in the cabin-boy’s dinner, sewed up men’s flies as they slept, and once secreted in the mainsail several dead rats which flew over the deck when the sail was unfurled. He waved away his fellow sailors’ anger with his stock phrase, “Only a joke, lads.”

Then, in the middle of a long voyage, he cut halfway through the hammock ropes so that his shipmates landed suddenly on the deck. It was the final straw and, leaving him with only the guilty knife, they cast him adrift.

Washed up on a desert island and living on a diet of coconuts and mussels, Jake was lost without company, so he built a raft, hauled it down to the low water line and sat, waiting for the incoming tide to float him off the island.

Half an hour later he was still stranded – in fact the sea was receding. He saw the huge wave too late, and on an island that was little more than a sandbank, where could he run? As the tsunami lifted the raft over the coconut palms and launched him into space, the last thing he heard was a celestial voice booming, “Only a joke, Jake.”