The Ebb-tide

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This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: CHAPTER II MORNING ON THE BEACH THE THREE LETTERS The clouds were all fled, the beauty of the tropic day was spread upon Papeete; and the wall of breaking seas upon the reef, and the palms upon the islet, already trembled in the heat. A French man-of-war was going out, homeward bound; she lay in the middle distance of the port, an ant-heap for activity. In the night a schooner had come in, and now lay far out, hard by the passage; and the yellow flag, the emblem of pestilence, flew on her. From up the coast, a long procession of canoes headed round the point and towards the market, bright as a scarf with the many-coloured clothing of the natives and the piles of fruit. But not even the beauty and the welcome warmth of the morning, not even these naval movements, so interesting to sailors and to idlers, could engage the attention of the outcasts. They were still cold at heart, theirmouths sour from the want of sleep, their steps rambling from the lack of food; and they strung like lame geese along the beach in a disheartened silence. It was towards the town they moved; towards the town whence smoke arose, where happier folk were breakfasting; and as they went, their hungry eyes were upon all sides, but they were only scouting for a meal. A small and dingy schooner lay snug against the quay, with which it was connected by a plank. On the forward deck, under a spot of awning, five Kanakas who made up the crew, were squatted round a basin of fried feis,1 and drinking coffee from tin mugs. ' Eight bells: knock off for breakfast!' cried the captain with a miserable heartiness. ' Never tried this craft before; positively my first appearance; guess I 'll draw a bumper house.' He came close up to where the plank rested on the grassy quay; turned his back upon the schoo...

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  • Adventure stories
  • Children's literature, English
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  • Oceania -- Fiction
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  • Schooners -- Fiction
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