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Jerry of the Islands Jack London

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Royal he was, by nature, by training, by deed. He carried himself with consciousness of royalty. He looked royal--as a magnificent stallion may look royal, as a lion on a painted tawny desert may look royal. He was as splendid a brute--an adumbration of the splendid human conquerors and rulers, higher on the ladder of evolution, who have appeared in other times and places. His pose of body, of chest, of shoulders, of head, was royal. Royal was the heavy-lidded, lazy, insolent way he looked out of his eyes.

Royal in courage was he, this moment on the Arangi, despite the fact that he knew he walked on dynamite. As he had long since bitterly learned, any white man was as much dynamite as was the mysterious death-dealing missile he sometimes employed. When a stripling, he had made one of the canoe force that attacked the sandalwood-cutter that had been even smaller than the Arangi. He had never forgotten that mystery. Two of the three white men he had seen slain and their heads removed on deck. The third, still fighting, had but the minute before fled below. Then the cutter, along with all her wealth of hoop-iron, tobacco, knives and calico, had gone up into the air and fallen back into the sea in scattered and fragmented nothingness. It had been dynamite--the MYSTERY. And he, who had been hurled uninjured through the air by a miracle of fortune, had divined that white men in themselves were truly dynamite, compounded of the same mystery as the substance with which they shot the swift-darting schools of mullet, or blow up, in extremity, themselves and the ships on which they voyaged the sea from far places. And yet on this unstable and death-terrific substance of which he was well aware Van Horn was composed, he trod heavily with his personality, daring, to the verge of detonation, to impact it with his insolence.

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"My word," he began, "what name you make 'm boy belong me stop along you too much?" Which was a true and correct charge that the boys which Van Horn had just returned had been away three years and a half instead of three years.

"You talk that fella talk I get cross too much along you," Van Horn bristled back, and then added, diplomatically, dipping into a half-case of tobacco sawed across and proffering a handful of stick tobacco: "Much better you smoke 'm up and talk 'm good fella talk."

But Nau-hau grandly waved aside the gift for which he hungered.

"Plenty tobacco stop along me," he lied. "What name one fella boy go way no come back?" he demanded.

Van Horn pulled the long slender account book out of the twist of his loin-cloth, and, while he skimmed its pages, impressed Nau-hau with the dynamite of the white man's superior powers which enabled him to remember correctly inside the scrawled sheets of a book instead of inside his head.

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Jerry of the Islands
Jack London

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