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The Ebb-Tide

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By: (1850-1894)

Three men down on their luck in Tahiti agree to ship out on a vessel whose officers have died of smallpox. Their desperate venture inspires them to a further idea: they will steal the schooner and its cargo of champagne, sell them, and live a plentiful life. The thought is intoxicating... and so is the cargo, which they sample. Inattention nearly brings them to grief in a sudden storm. This sobering experience is followed by another - apparently the dead officers had a similar ambition! - and their dreams of riches vanish.

Then, nearly out of provisions and deep in the heart of the Pacific where the chart shows no land - they happen on a small isle only hinted at in the records and never mapped. Saved! But what is this? The island hides a pearl fishery?

In the ebb-tide of fortune, what new villainy will the three attempt?

First Page:



By Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyde Osbourne

'There is a tide in the affairs of men.'

Part I.


Throughout the island world of the Pacific, scattered men of many European races and from almost every grade of society carry activity and disseminate disease. Some prosper, some vegetate. Some have mounted the steps of thrones and owned islands and navies. Others again must marry for a livelihood; a strapping, merry, chocolate coloured dame supports them in sheer idleness; and, dressed like natives, but still retaining some foreign element of gait or attitude, still perhaps with some relic (such as a single eye glass) of the officer and gentleman, they sprawl in palm leaf verandahs and entertain an island audience with memoirs of the music hall. And there are still others, less pliable, less capable, less fortunate, perhaps less base, who continue, even in these isles of plenty, to lack bread.

At the far end of the town of Papeete, three such men were seated on the beach under a purao tree... Continue reading book >>

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