The Third Eye

by Robert W. Chambers

Although the man’s back was turned toward me, I was uncomfortably conscious that he was watching me.  How he could possibly be watching me while I stood directly behind him, I did not ask myself; yet, nevertheless, instinct warned me that I was being inspected; that somehow or other the man was staring at me as steadily as though he and I had been face to face and his faded, sea-green eyes were focused upon me. 
      It was an odd sensation which persisted in spite of logic, and of which I could not rid myself.  Yet the little waitress did not seem to share it.  Perhaps she was not under his glassy inspection.  But then, of course, I could not be either. 
      No doubt the nervous tension incident to the expedition was making me supersensitive and even morbid. 
      Our sail-boat rode the shallow turquoise-tinted waters at anchor, rocking gently just off the snowy coral reef on which we were now camping.  The youthful waitress who, for economy’s sake, wore her cap, apron, collar and cuffs over her dainty print dress, was seated by the signal fire writing in her diary.  Sometimes she thoughtfully touched her pencil point with the tip of her tongue; sometimes she replenished the fire from a pile of dead mangrove branches heaped up on the coral reef beside her.  Whatever she did she accomplished gracefully. 
      As for the man, Grue, his back remained turned toward us both and he continued, apparently, to scan the horizon for the sail which we all expected.  And all the time I could not rid myself of the unpleasant idea that somehow or other he was looking at me, watching attentively the expression of my features and noting my every movement. 
      The smoke of our fire blew wide across leagues of shallow, sparkling water, or, when the wind veered, whirled back into our faces across the reef, curling and eddying among the standing mangroves like fog drifting. 
      Seated there near the fire, from time to time I swept the horizon with my marine glasses; but there was no sign of Kemper; no sail broke the far sweep of sky and water; nothing moved out there save when a wild duck took wing amid the dark raft of its companions to circle low above the ocean and settle at random, invisible again except when, at intervals, its white breast flashed in the sunshine. 
      Meanwhile the waitress had ceased to write in her diary and now sat with the closed book on her knees and her pencil resting against her lips, gazing thoughtfully at the back of Grue’s head! 
      It was a ratty head of straight black hair, and looked greasy.  The rest of him struck me as equally unkempt and dingy—a youngish man, lean, deeply bitten by the sun of the semi-tropics to a mahogany hue, and unusually hairy. 
      I don’t mind a brawny, hairy man, but the hair on Grue’s arms and chest was a rusty red, and like a chimpanzee’s in texture, and sometimes a wildly absurd idea possessed me that the man needed it when he went about in the palm forests without his clothes. 
      But he was only a “poor white”—a “cracker” recruited from one of the reefs near Pelican Light, where he lived alone by fishing and selling his fish to the hotels at Heliatrope City.  The sail-boat was his; he figured as our official guide on this expedition—an expedition which already had begun to worry me a great deal. 
      For it was, perhaps, the wildest goose chase and the most absurdly hopeless enterprise ever undertaken in the interest of science by the Bronx Park authorities. 
      Nothing is more dreaded by scientists than ridicule; and it was in spite of this terror of ridicule that I summoned sufficient courage to organize an exploring party and start out in search of something so extraordinary, so hitherto unheard of, that I had not dared reveal to Kemper by letter the object of my quest. 
      No, I did not care to commit myself to writing just yet; I had merely sent Kemper a letter to join me on Sting-ray Key. 
      He telegraphed me from Tampa that he would join me at the rendezvous; and I started directly from Bronx Park for Heliatrope City; arrived there in three days; found the waitress all ready to start with me; inquired about a guide and discovered the man Grue in his hut off Pelican Light; made my bargain with him; and set sail for Sting-ray Key, the most excited and the most nervous young man who ever had dared disaster in the sacred cause of science. 
      Everything was now at stake, my honour, reputation, career, fortune.  For, as chief of the Anthropological Field Survey Department of the great Bronx Park Zoölogical Society, I was perfectly aware that no scientific reputation can survive ridicule. 
      Nevertheless, the die had been cast, the Rubicon crossed in a sail-boat containing one beachcombing cracker, one hotel waitress, a pile of camping kit and special utensils, and myself! 
      How was I going to tell Kemper?  How was I going to confess to him that I was staking my reputation as an anthropologist upon a letter or two and a personal interview with a young girl—a waitress at the Hotel Gardenia in Heliatrope City? 
      I lowered my sea-glasses and glanced sideways at the waitress.  She was still chewing the end of her pencil, reflectively. 
      She was a pretty girl, one Evelyn Grey, and had been a country school-teacher in Massachusetts until her health broke. 
      Florida was what she required; but that healing climate was possible to her only if she could find there a self-supporting position. 
      Also she had nourished an ambition for a postgraduate education, with further aspirations to a Government appointment in the Smithsonian Institute. 
      All very worthy, no doubt—in fact, particularly commendable because the wages she saved as waitress in a Florida hotel during the winter were her only means of support while studying for college examinations during the summer in Boston, where she lived. 
      Yet, although she was an inmate of Massachusetts, her face and figure would have ornamented any light-opera stage.  I never looked at her but I thought so; and her cuffs and apron merely accentuated the delusion.  Such ankles are seldom seen when the curtain rises after the overture.  Odd that frivolous thoughts could flit through an intellect dedicated only to science! 
      The man, Grue, had not stirred from his survey of the Atlantic Ocean.  He had a somewhat disturbing capacity for remaining motionless—like a stealthy and predatory bird which depends on immobility for aggressive and defensive existence. 
      The sea-wind fluttered his cotton shirt and trousers and the tattered brim of his straw hat.  And always I felt as though he were watching me out of the back of his ratty head, through the raveled straw brim that sagged over his neck. 
      The pretty waitress had now chewed the end of her pencil to a satisfactory pulp, and she was writing again in her diary, very intently, so that my cautious touch on her arm seemed to startle her. 
      Meeting her inquiring eyes I said in a low voice: 
      “I am not sure why, but I don’t seem to care very much for that man, Grue.  Do you?” 
      She glanced at the water’s edge, where Grue stood, immovable, his back still turned to us. 
      “I never liked him,” she said under her breath. 
      “Why ?” I asked cautiously. 
      She merely shrugged her shoulders.  She did it gracefully. 
      I said: 
      “Have you any particular reason for disliking him?” 
      “He’s dirty.” 
      “He looks dirty, yet every day he goes into the sea and swims about.  He ought to be clean enough.” 
      She thought for a moment, then: 
      “He seems, somehow, to be fundamentally unclean—I don’t mean that he doesn’t wash himself.  But there are certain sorts of animals and birds and other creatures from which one instinctively shrinks—not, perhaps, because they are materially unclean—” 
      “I understand,” I said.  After a silence I added: “Well, there’s no chance now of sending him back, even if I were inclined to do so.  He appears to be familiar with these latitudes.  I don’t suppose we could find a better man for our purpose.  Do you?” 
      “No.  He was a sponge fisher once, I believe.” 
      “Did he tell you so?” 
      “No.  But yesterday, when you took the boat and cruised to the south, I sat writing here and keeping up the fire.  And I saw Grue climbing about among the mangroves over the water in a most uncanny way; and two snake-birds sat watching him, and they never moved. 
      “He didn’t seem to see them; his back was toward them.  And then, all at once, he leaped backward at them where they sat on a mangrove, and he got one of them by the neck—” 
      The girl nodded. 
      “By the neck,” she repeated, “and down they went into the water.  And what do you suppose happened?” 
      “I can’t imagine,” said I with a grimace. 
      “Well, Grue went under, still clutching the squirming, flapping bird; and he stayed under.” 
      “Stayed under the water?” 
      “Yes, longer than any sponge diver I ever heard of.  And I was becoming frightened when the bloody bubbles and feathers began to come up—” 
      “What was he doing under water?” 
      “He must have been tearing the bird to pieces.  Oh, it was quite unpleasant, I assure you, Mr.  Smith.  And when he came up and looked at me out of those very vitreous eyes he resembled something horridly amphibious.... And I felt rather sick and dizzy.” 
      “He’s got to stop that sort of thing!” I said angrily.  “Snake-birds are harmless and I won’t have him killing them in that barbarous fashion.  I’ve warned him already to let birds alone.  I don’t know how he catches them or why he kills them.  But he seems to have a mania for doing it—” 
      I was interrupted by Grue’s soft and rather pleasant voice from the water’s edge, announcing a sail on the horizon.  He did not turn when speaking. 
      The next moment I made out the sail and focused my glasses on it. 
      “It’s Professor Kemper,” I announced presently. 
      “I’m so glad,” remarked Evelyn Grey. 
      I don’t know why it should have suddenly occurred to me, apropos of nothing, that Billy Kemper was unusually handsome.  Or why I should have turned and looked at the pretty waitress—except that she was, perhaps, worth gazing upon from a purely non-scientific point of view.  In fact, to a man not entirely absorbed in scientific research and not passionately and irrevocably wedded to his profession, her violet-blue eyes and rather sweet mouth might have proved disturbing. 
      As I was thinking about this she looked up at me and smiled. 
      “It’s a good thing,” I thought to myself, “that I am irrevocably wedded to my profession.” And I gazed fixedly across the Atlantic Ocean. 
      There was scarcely sufficient breeze of a steady character to bring Kemper to Sting-ray Key; but he got out his sweeps when I hailed him and came in at a lively clip, anchoring alongside of our boat and leaping ashore with that unnecessary dash and abandon which women find pleasing. 
      Glancing sideways at my waitress through my spectacles, I found her looking into a small hand mirror and patting her hair with one slim and suntanned hand. 
      When Professor Kemper landed on the coral he shot a curious look at Grue, and then came striding across the reef to me. 
      “Hello, Smithy!” he said, holding out his hand.  “Here I am, you see!  Now what’s up—” 
      Just then Evelyn Grey got up from her seat beside the fire; and Kemper turned and gazed at her with every symptom of unfeigned approbation. 
      I introduced him.  Evelyn Grey seemed a trifle indifferent.  A good-looking man doesn’t last long with a clever woman.  I smiled to myself, polishing my spectacles gleefully.  Yet, I had no idea why I was smiling. 
      We three people turned and walked toward the comb of the reef.  A solitary palm represented the island’s vegetation, except, of course, for the water-growing mangroves. 
      I asked Miss Grey to precede us and wait for us under the palm; and she went forward in that light-footed way of hers which, to any non-scientific man, might have been a trifle disturbing.  It had no effect upon me.  Besides, I was looking at Grue, who had gone to the fire and was evidently preparing to fry our evening meal of fish and rice.  I didn’t like to have him cook, but I wasn’t going to do it myself; and my pretty waitress didn’t know how to cook anything more complicated than beans.  We had no beans. 
      Kemper said to me: 
      “Why on earth did you bring a waitress?” 
      “Not to wait on table,” I replied, amused.  “I’ll explain her later.  Meanwhile, I merely want to say that you need not remain with this expedition if you don’t want to.  It’s optional with you.” 
      “That’s a funny thing to say!” 
      “No, not funny; sad.  The truth is that if I fail I’ll be driven into obscurity by the ridicule of my brother scientists the world over.  I had to tell them at the Bronx what I was going after.  Every man connected with the society attempted to dissuade me, saying that the whole thing was absurd and that my reputation would suffer if I engaged in such a ridiculous quest.  So when you hear what that girl and I are after out here in the semitropics, and when you are in possession of the only evidence I have to justify my credulity, if you want to go home, go.  Because I don’t wish to risk your reputation as a scientist unless you choose to risk it yourself.” 
      He regarded me curiously, then his eyes strayed toward the palm-tree which Evelyn Grey was now approaching. 
      “All right,” he said briefly, “let’s hear what’s up.” 
      So we moved forward to rejoin the girl, who had already seated herself under the tree. 
      She looked very attractive in her neat cuffs, tiny cap, and pink print gown, as we approached her. 
      “Why does she dress that way?” asked Kemper, uneasily. 
      “Economy.  She desires to use up the habiliments of a service which there will be no necessity for her to reënter if this expedition proves successful.” 
      “Oh.  But Smithy—” 
      “Was it—moral—to bring a waitress?” 
      “Perfectly,” I replied sharply.  “Science knows no sex!” 
      “I don’t understand how a waitress can be scientific,” he muttered, “and there seems to be no question about her possessing plenty of sex—”
      “If that girl’s conclusions are warranted,” I interrupted coldly, “she is a most intelligent and clever person.  I think they are warranted.  If you don’t, you may go home as soon as you like.” 
      I glanced at him; he was smiling at her with that strained politeness which alters the natural expression of men in the imminence of a conversation with a new and pretty woman. 
      I often wonder what particular combination of facial muscles are brought into play when that politely receptive expression transforms the normal and masculine features into a fixed simper. 
      When Kemper and I had seated ourselves, I calmly cut short the small talk in which he was already indulging, and to which, I am sorry to say, my pretty waitress was beginning to respond.  I had scarcely thought it of her—but that’s neither here nor there—and I invited her to recapitulate the circumstances which had resulted in our present foregathering here on this strip of coral in the Atlantic Ocean. 
      She did so very modestly and without embarrassment, stating the case and reviewing the evidence.  so clearly and so simply that I could see how every word she uttered was not only amazing but also convincing Kemper. 
      When she had ended he asked a few questions very seriously: 
      “Granted,” he said, “that the pituitary gland represents what we assume it represents, how much faith is to be placed in the testimony of a Seminole Indian?” 
      “A Seminole Indian,” she replied, “has seldom or never been known to lie.  And where a whole tribe testify alike the truth of what they assert can not be questioned.” 
      “How did you make them talk?  They are a sullen, suspicious people, haughty, uncommunicative, seldom even replying to an ordinary question from a white man.” 
      “They consider me one of them.” 
      “Why?” he asked in surprise. 
      “I’ll tell you why.  It came about through a mere accident.  I was waitress at the hotel; it happened to be my afternoon off; so I went down to the coquina 1 dock to study.  I study in my leisure moments, because I wish to fit myself for a college examination.” 
      Her charming face became serious; she picked up the hem of her apron and continued to pleat it slowly and with precision as she talked: 
      “There was a Seminole named Tiger-tail sitting there, his feet dangling above his moored canoe, evidently waiting for the tide to turn before he went out to spear crayfish.  I merely noticed he was sitting there in the sunshine, that’s all.  And then I opened my mythology book and turned to the story of Argus, on which I was reading up.
      “And this is what happened: there was a picture of the death of Argus, facing the printed page which I was reading—the well-known picture where Juno is holding the head of the decapitated monster—and I had-read scarcely a dozen words in the book before the Seminole beside me leaned over and placed his forefinger squarely upon the head of Argus. 
      “‘Who?’ he demanded. 
      “I looked around good-humoredly and was surprised at the evident excitement of the Indian.  They’re not excitable, you know. 
      “‘That,’ said I, ‘is a Greek gentleman named Argus.’ I suppose he thought I meant a Minorcan 2, for he nodded.  Then, without further comment, he placed his finger on Juno. 
      “‘Who?’ he inquired emphatically. 
      “I said flippantly: ‘Oh, that’s only my aunt, Juno.’ 
      “‘Aunty of you?’ 
      “‘She kill ‘um Three-eye?’ 
      “Argus had been depicted with three eyes. 
      “‘Yes,’ I said, ‘my Aunt Juno had Argus killed.’ 
      “‘Why kill ‘um?’ 
      “‘Well, Aunty needed his eyes to set in the tails of the peacocks which drew her automobile.  So when they cut off the head of Argus my aunt had the eyes taken out; and that’s a picture of how she set them into the peacock.’ 
      “‘Aunty of you?’ he repeated. 
      “‘Certainly,’ I said gravely; ‘I am a direct descendant of the Goddess of Wisdom.  That’s why I’m always studying when you see me down on the dock here.’ 
      “‘You Seminole!’ he said emphatically. 
      “‘Seminole,’ I repeated, puzzled. 
      “‘You Seminole!  Aunty Seminole— you Seminole!’ 
      “‘Why, Tiger-tail?’ 
      “‘Seminole hunt Three-eye long time—hundred, hundred year—hunt ‘um Three-eye, kill ‘um Three-eye.’ 
      “‘You say that for hundreds of years the Seminoles have hunted a creature with three eyes?’ 
      “‘Sure!  Hunt ‘um now!’ 
      “‘But, Tiger-tail, if the legends of your people tell you that the Seminoles hunted a creature with three eyes hundreds of years ago, certainly no such three-eyed creatures remain today?’ 
      “‘What!  Where?’ 
      “‘Black Bayou.’ 
      “‘Do you mean to tell me that a living creature with three eyes still inhabits the forests of Black Bayou ?’ 
      “‘Sure.  Me see ‘um.  Me kill ‘um three-eye man.’ 
      “‘You have killed a man who had three eyes?’ 
      “‘A man?  With three eyes?’ 
      The pretty waitress, excitedly engrossed in her story, was unconsciously acting out the thrilling scene of her dialogue with the Indian, even imitating his voice and gestures.  And Kemper and I listened and watched her breathlessly, fascinated by her lithe and supple grace as well as by the astounding story she was so frankly unfolding with the consummate artlessness of a natural actress. 
      She turned her flushed face to us: 
      “I made up my mind,” she said, “that Tiger-tail’s story was worth investigating.  It was perfectly easy for me to secure corroboration, because that Seminole went back to his Everglade camp and told every one of his people that I was a white Seminole because my ancestors also hunted the three-eyed man and nobody except a Seminole could know that such a thing as a three-eyed man existed. 
      “So, the next afternoon off, I embarked in Tiger-tail’s canoe and he took me to his camp.  And there I talked to his people, men and women, questioning, listening, putting this and that together, trying to discover some foundation for their persistent statements concerning men, still living in the jungles of Black Bayou, who had three eyes instead of two. 
      “All told the same story; all asserted that since the time their records ran the Seminoles had hunted and slain every three-eyed man they could catch; and that as long as the Seminoles had lived in the Everglades the three-eyed men had lived in the forests beyond Black Bayou.” 
      She paused, dramatically, cooling her cheeks in her palms and looking from Kemper to me with eyes made starry by excitement. 
      “And what do you think!” she continued, under her breath.  “To prove what they said they brought for my inspection a skull.  And then two more skulls like the first one. 
      “Every skull had been painted with Spanish red; the coarse black hair still stuck to the scalps.  And, behind, just over where the pituitary gland is situated, was a hollow, bony orbit—unmistakaby the socket of a third eye!” 
      “W-where are those skulls?” demanded Kemper, in a voice not entirely under control. 
      “They wouldn’t part with one of them.  I tried every possible persuasion.  On my own responsibility, and even before I communicated with Mr.  Smith—” turning toward me, “—I offered them twenty thousand dollars for a single skull, staking my word of honour that the Bronx Museum would pay that sum. 
      “It was useless.  Not only do the Seminoles refuse to part with one of those skulls, but I have also learned that I am the first person with a white skin who has ever even heard of their existence—so profoundly have these red men of the Everglades guarded their secret through centuries.” 
      After a silence Kemper, rather pale, remarked: 
      “This is a most astonishing business, Miss Grey.” 
      “What do you think about it?” I demanded.  “Is it not worth while for us to explore Black Bayou?” 
      He nodded in a dazed sort of way, but his gaze remained riveted on the girl. 
      Presently he said: 
      “Why does Miss Grey go?” 
      She turned in surprise: 
      “Why am I going?  But it is my discovery— my contribution to science, isn’t it?” 
      “Certainly!” we exclaimed warmly and in unison.  And Kemper added: “I was only thinking of the dangers and hardships.  Smith and I could do the actual work—” 
      “Oh!” she cried in quick protest, “I wouldn’t miss one moment of the excitement, one pain, one pang!  I love it!  It would simply break my heart not to share every chance, hazard, danger of this expedition—every atom of hope, excitement, despair, uncertainty—and the ultimate success—the unsurpassable thrill of exultation in the final instant of triumph!” 
      She sprang to her feet in a flash of uncontrollable enthusiasm, and stood there, aglow with courage and resolution, making a highly agreeable picture in her apron and cuffs, the sea wind fluttering the bright tendrils of her hair under her dainty cap. 
      We got to our feet much impressed; and now absolutely convinced that there did exist, somewhere, descendants of prehistoric men in whom the third eye placed in the back of the head for purposes of defensive observation—had not become obsolete and reduced to the traces which we know only as the pituitary body or pituitary gland. 
      Kemper and I were, of course, aware that in the insect world the ocelli 3 served the same purpose that the degenerate pituitary body once served in the occiput 4 of man. 
      As we three walked slowly back to the campfire, where our evening meal was now ready, Evelyn Grey, who walked between us, told us what she knew about the hunting of these three-eyed men by the Seminoles—how intense was the hatred of the Indians for these people, how murderously they behaved toward any one of them whom they could track down and catch. 
      “Tiger-tail told me,” she went on, “that in all probability the strange race was nearing extinction, but that all had not yet been exterminated because now and then, when hunting along Black Bayou, traces of living three-eyed men were still found by him and his people. 
      “No later than last week Tiger-tail himself had startled one of these strange denizens of Black Bayou from a meal of fish; and had heard him leap through the bushes and plunge into the water.  It appears that centuries of persecution have made these three-eyed men partly amphibious—that is, capable of filling their lungs with air and remaining under water almost as long as a turtle.” 
      “That’s impossible!” said Kemper bluntly. 
      “I thought so myself,” she said with a smile, “until Tiger-tail told me a little more about them.  He says that they can breathe through the pores of their skins; that their bodies are covered with a thick, silky hair, and that when they dive they carry down with them enough air to form a sort of skin over them, so that under water their bodies appear to be silver-plated.” 
      “Good Lord!” faltered Kemper.  “That is a little too much!” 
      “Yet,” said I, “that is exactly what air-breathing water beetles do.  The globules of air, clinging to the body-hairs, appear to silver-plate them; and they can remain below indefinitely, breathing through spiracles.  Doubtless the skin pores of these men have taken on the character of spiracles.” 
      “You know,” he said in a curious, flat voice, which sounded like the tones of a partly stupified man, “this whole business is so grotesque—apparently so wildly absurd—that it’s having a sort of nightmare effect on me.” And, dropping his voice to a whisper close to my ear: “Good heavens!” he said.  “Can you reconcile such a creature as we are starting out to hunt, with anything living known to science?” 
      “No,” I replied in guarded tones.  “And there are moments, Kemper, since I have come into possession of Miss Grey’s story, when I find myself seriously doubting my own sanity.” 
      “I’m doubting mine, now,” he whispered, “only that girl is so fresh and wholesome and human and sane—”
      “She is a very clever girl,” I said. 
      “And really beautiful!” 
      “She is intelligent,” I remarked.  There was a chill in my tone which doubtless discouraged Kemper, for he ventured nothing further concerning her superficially personal attractions. 
      After all, if any questions of priority were to arise, the pretty waitress was my discovery.  And in the scientific world it is an inflexible rule that he who first discovers any particular specimen of any species whatever is first entitled to describe and comment upon that specimen without interference or unsolicited advice from anybody. 
      Maybe there was in my eye something that expressed as much.  For when Kemper caught my cold gaze fixed upon him he winced and looked away like a reproved setter dog who knew better.  Which also, for the moment, put an end to the rather gay and frivolous line of small talk which he had again begun with the pretty waitress. 
      I was exceedingly surprised at Professor William Henry Kemper, D.  F. 
      As we approached the campfire the loathsome odour of frying mullet saluted my nostrils. 
      Kemper, glancing at Grue, said aside to me: 
      “That’s an odd-looking fellow.  What is he?  Minorcan?” 
      “Oh, just a beachcomber.  I don’t know what he is.  He strikes me as dirty— though he can’t be so, physically.  I don’t like him and I don’t know why.  And I wish we’d engaged somebody else to guide us.” 
      Toward dawn something awoke me and I sat up in my blanket under the moon.  But my leg had not been pulled. 
      Kemper snored at my side.  In her little dog-tent the pretty waitress probably was fast asleep.  I knew it because the string she had tied to one of her ornamental ankles still lay across the ground convenient to my hand.  In any emergency I had only to pull it to awake her. 
      A similar string, tied to my ankle, ran parallel to hers and disappeared under the flap of her tent.  This was for her to pull if she liked.  She had never yet pulled it.  Nor I the other.  Nevertheless I truly felt that these humble strings were, in a subtler sense, ties that bound us together.  No wonder Kemper’s behaviour had slightly irritated me. 
      I looked up at the silver moon; I glanced at Kemper’s unlovely bulk, swathed in a blanket; I contemplated the dog-tent with, perhaps, that slight trace of sentiment which a semi-tropical moon is likely to inspire even in a jellyfish.  And suddenly I remembered Grue and looked for him. 
      He was accustomed to sleep in his boat, but I did not see him in either of the boats.  Here and there were a few lumpy shadows in the moonlight, but none of them was Grue lying prone on the ground.  Where the devil had he gone? 
      Cautiously I untied my ankle string, rose in my pajamas, stepped into my slippers, and walked out through the moonlight.
      There was nothing to hide Grue, no rocks or vegetation except the solitary palm on the backbone of the reef. 
      I walked as far as the tree and looked up into the arching fronds.  Nobody was up there.  I could see the moonlit sky through the fronds.  Nor was Grue lying asleep anywhere on the other side of the coral ridge. 
      And suddenly I became aware of all my latent distrust and dislike for the man.  And the vigour of my sentiments surprised me because I really had not understood how deep and thorough my dislike had been. 
      Also, his utter disappearance struck me as uncanny.  Both boats were there; and there were many leagues of sea to the nearest coast. 
      Troubled and puzzled I turned and walked back to the dead embers of the fire.  Kemper had merely changed the timbre of his snore to a whistling aria, which at any other time would have enraged me.  Now, somehow, it almost comforted me. 
      Seated on the shore I looked out to sea, racking my brains for an explanation of Grue’s disappearance.  And while I sat there racking them, far out on the water a little flock of ducks suddenly scattered and rose with frightened quackings and furiously beating wings. 
      For a moment I thought I saw a round, dark object on the waves where the flock had been. 
      And while I sat there watching, up out of the sea along the reef to my right crawled a naked, dripping figure holding a dead duck in his mouth. 
      Fascinated, I watched it, recognising Grue with his ratty black hair all plastered over his face. 
      Whether he caught sight of me or not, I don’t know; but he suddenly dropped the dead duck from his mouth, turned, and dived under water. 
      It was a grim and horrid species of sport or pastime, this amphibious business of his, catching wild birds and dragging them about as though he were an animal. 
      Evidently he was ashamed of himself, for he had dropped the duck.  I watched it floating by on the waves, its head under water.  Suddenly something jerked it under, a fish perhaps, for it did not come up and float again, as far as I could see. 
      When I went back to camp Grue lay apparently asleep on the north side of the fire.  I glanced at him in disgust and crawled into my tent. 

End of PART ONE..... GO TO PART TWO..... 


1.  Coquina dock - A soft porous limestone, essentially of shell and coral fragments, used as a constuction material. []

2.  Minorcan - Resident of Minorca, the second largest of the Balearic Islands, 23 miles east of of Majorca. []

3. Ocelli - A small simple eye, found in many invertiebrates.  A marking that resembles a small eye. []

4. Occiput - The back of the skull, especially the occiputal area. []

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