• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 01
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Jack’s eyes slowly opened as cool, clean water washed away the brine. Peering at him were two dark eyes in a brown face topped by startling, mud-plastered hair. Strong arms helped him to sit and held a cup to his lips. Jack drank deeply, then immediately vomited a vile mixture of seawater, weed and sand. His saviour laughed, displaying sharpened white teeth, and Jack prayed he hadn’t landed among cannibals. After another drink of water he tried to stand but he was pitifully weak and, to his intense embarrassment, the savage lifted him like a child and carried him into a dense forest of palm trees to meet his tribe.

Years passed. Jack learnt to fish with net and spear, ate monkeys and strange fruit and roots – though he drew the line at insects – and explored the tiny island from coast to coast. Once he caught a tantalising glimpse of a sail on the horizon but Kom refused to investigate. “They are foreigners – we have no need of them.” Eventually Jack married Kom’s sister, and when their son was born he said to her, “This place is paradise – I could wish for nothing more.”

Then the longboat came. Jack capered on the sand like a lunatic and wrung the Captain’s hand. “I feared rescue would never come!” He turned to his wife. “You will love England.” She stood with her baby on her hip and stared at him. “You cannot expect me to go.” “But I cannot live my entire life on this desert island among savages.” Her eyes were full of scorn. “Until now it was paradise,” she said, and spun on her heel in the golden sand to stride away carrying their child. Jack pleaded with Kom. “You understand – persuade her.” “How could I understand?” Kom replied, “I am only a savage.”

As the tiny little island shrank in the distance, Jack realised he had sacrificed everything for the dream of a country that was no longer home.