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Transcribed from the 1917 Mills & Boon edition by David Price, email
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JERRY OF THE ISLANDS


FOREWORD


It is a misfortune to some fiction-writers that fiction and unveracity in
the average person's mind mean one and the same thing. Several years ago
I published a South Sea novel. The action was placed in the Solomon
Islands. The action was praised by the critics and reviewers as a highly
creditable effort of the imagination. As regards reality - they said
there wasn't any. Of course, as every one knew, kinky-haired cannibals
no longer obtained on the earth's surface, much less ran around with
nothing on, chopping off one another's heads, and, on occasion, a white
man's head as well.

Now listen. I am writing these lines in Honolulu, Hawaii. Yesterday, on
the beach at Waikiki, a stranger spoke to me. He mentioned a mutual
friend, Captain Kellar. When I was wrecked in the Solomons on the
blackbirder, the _Minota_, it was Captain Kellar, master of the
blackbirder, the _Eugenie_, who rescued me. The blacks had taken Captain
Kellar's head, the stranger told me. He knew. He had represented
Captain Kellar's mother in settling up the estate.

Listen. I received a letter the other day from Mr. C. M. Woodford,
Resident Commissioner of the British Solomons. He was back at his post,
after a long furlough to England, where he had entered his son into
Oxford. A search of the shelves of almost any public library will bring
to light a book entitled, "A Naturalist Among the Head Hunters." Mr. C.
M. Woodford is the naturalist. He wrote the book.

To return to his letter. In the course of the day's work he casually and
briefly mentioned a particular job he had just got off his hands. His
absence in England had been the cause of delay. The job had been to make
a punitive expedition to a neighbouring island, and, incidentally, to
recover the heads of some mutual friends of ours - a white-trader, his
white wife and children, and his white clerk. The expedition was
successful, and Mr. Woodford concluded his account of the episode with a
statement to the effect: "What especially struck me was the absence of
pain and terror in their faces, which seemed to express, rather, serenity
and repose" - this, mind you, of men and women of his own race whom he
knew well and who had sat at dinner with him in his own house.

Other friends, with whom I have sat at dinner in the brave, rollicking
days in the Solomons have since passed out - by the same way. My
goodness! I sailed in the teak-built ketch, the _Minota_, on a
blackbirding cruise to Malaita, and I took my wife along. The hatchet-
marks were still raw on the door of our tiny stateroom advertising an
event of a few months before. The event was the taking of Captain
Mackenzie's head, Captain Mackenzie, at that time, being master of the
Minota. As we sailed in to Langa-Langa, the British cruiser, the
_Cambrian_, steamed out from the shelling of a village.

It is not expedient to burden this preliminary to my story with further
details, which I do make asseveration I possess a-plenty. I hope I have
given some assurance that the adventures of my dog hero in this novel are
real adventures in a very real cannibal world. Bless you! - when I took
my wife along on the cruise of the _Minota_, we found on board a nigger-
chasing, adorable Irish terrier puppy, who was smooth-coated like Jerry,
and whose name was Peggy. Had it not been for Peggy, this book would
never have been written. She was the chattel of the _Minota's_ splendid
skipper. So much did Mrs. London and I come to love her, that Mrs.
London, after the wreck of the _Minota_, deliberately and shamelessly
stole her from the _Minota's_ skipper. I do further admit that I did,
deliberately and shamelessly, compound my wife's felony. We loved Peggy
so! Dear royal, glorious little dog, buried at sea off the east coast of
Australia!

I must add that Peggy, like Jerry, was born at Meringe Lagoon, on Meringe
Plantation, which is of the Island of Ysabel, said Ysabel Island lying
next north of Florida Island, where is the seat of government and where
dwells the Resident Commissioner, Mr. C. M. Woodford. Still further and
finally, I knew Peggy's mother and father well, and have often known the
warm surge in the heart of me at the sight of that faithful couple
running side by side along the beach. Terrence was his real name. Her
name was Biddy.

JACK LONDON
WAIKIKI BEACH,
HONOLULU, OAHU, T.H.
June 5, 1915





CHAPTER I


Not until _Mister_ Haggin abruptly picked him up under one arm and
stepped into the sternsheets of the waiting whaleboat, did Jerry dream
that anything untoward was to happen to him. _Mister_ Haggin was Jerry's
beloved master, and had been his beloved master for the six months of
Jerry's life. Jerry did not know _Mister_ Haggin as "master," for
"master" had no place in Jerry's vocabulary, Jerry being a smooth-coated,
golden-sorrel Irish terrier.

But in Jerry's vocabulary, "_Mister_ Haggin" possessed all the
definiteness of sound and meaning that the word "master" possesses in the
vocabularies of humans in relation to their dogs. "_Mister_ Haggin" was
the sound Jerry had always heard uttered by Bob, the clerk, and by Derby,
the foreman on the plantation, when they addressed his master. Also,
Jerry had always heard the rare visiting two-legged man-creatures such as
came on the _Arangi_, address his master as _Mister_ Haggin.

But dogs being dogs, in their dim, inarticulate, brilliant, and heroic-
worshipping ways misappraising humans, dogs think of their masters, and
love their masters, more than the facts warrant. "Master" means to them,
as "_Mister_" Haggin meant to Jerry, a deal more, and a great deal more,
than it means to humans. The human considers himself as "master" to his
dog, but the dog considers his master "God."

Now "God" was no word in Jerry's vocabulary, despite the fact that he
already possessed a definite and fairly large vocabulary. "_Mister_
Haggin" was the sound that meant "God." In Jerry's heart and head, in
the mysterious centre of all his activities that is called consciousness,
the sound, "_Mister_ Haggin," occupied the same place that "God" occupies
in human consciousness. By word and sound, to Jerry, "_Mister_ Haggin"
had the same connotation that "God" has to God-worshipping humans. In
short, _Mister_ Haggin was Jerry's God.

And so, when _Mister_ Haggin, or God, or call it what one will with the
limitations of language, picked Jerry up with imperative abruptness,
tucked him under his arm, and stepped into the whaleboat, whose black
crew immediately bent to the oars, Jerry was instantly and nervously
aware that the unusual had begun to happen. Never before had he gone out
on board the _Arangi_, which he could see growing larger and closer to
each lip-hissing stroke of the oars of the blacks.

Only an hour before, Jerry had come down from the plantation house to the
beach to see the _Arangi_ depart. Twice before, in his half-year of
life, had he had this delectable experience. Delectable it truly was,
running up and down the white beach of sand-pounded coral, and, under the
wise guidance of Biddy and Terrence, taking part in the excitement of the
beach and even adding to it.

There was the nigger-chasing. Jerry had been born to hate niggers. His
first experiences in the world as a puling puppy, had taught him that
Biddy, his mother, and his father Terrence, hated niggers. A nigger was
something to be snarled at. A nigger, unless he were a house-boy, was
something to be attacked and bitten and torn if he invaded the compound.
Biddy did it. Terrence did it. In doing it, they served their
God - _Mister_ Haggin. Niggers were two-legged lesser creatures who
toiled and slaved for their two-legged white lords, who lived in the
labour barracks afar off, and who were so much lesser and lower that they
must not dare come near the habitation of their lords.

And nigger-chasing was adventure. Not long after he had learned to
sprawl, Jerry had learned that. One took his chances. As long as
_Mister_ Haggin, or Derby, or Bob, was about, the niggers took their
chasing. But there were times when the white lords were not about. Then
it was "'Ware niggers!" One must dare to chase only with due precaution.
Because then, beyond the white lord's eyes, the niggers had a way, not
merely of scowling and muttering, but of attacking four-legged dogs with
stones and clubs. Jerry had seen his mother so mishandled, and, ere he
had learned discretion, alone in the high grass had been himself club-
mauled by Godarmy, the black who wore a china door-knob suspended on his
chest from his neck on a string of sennit braided from cocoanut fibre.
More. Jerry remembered another high-grass adventure, when he and his
brother Michael had fought Owmi, another black distinguishable for the
cogged wheels of an alarm clock on his chest. Michael had been so
severely struck on his head that for ever after his left ear had remained
sore and had withered into a peculiar wilted and twisted upward cock.

Still more. There had been his brother Patsy, and his sister Kathleen,
who had disappeared two months before, who had ceased and no longer were.
The great god, _Mister_ Haggin, had raged up and down the plantation. The
bush had been searched. Half a dozen niggers had been whipped. And
_Mister_ Haggin had failed to solve the mystery of Patsy's and Kathleen's
disappearance. But Biddy and Terrence knew. So did Michael and Jerry.
The four-months' old Patsy and Kathleen had gone into the cooking-pot at
the barracks, and their puppy-soft skins had been destroyed in the fire.
Jerry knew this, as did his father and mother and brother, for they had
smelled the unmistakable burnt-meat smell, and Terrence, in his rage of
knowledge, had even attacked Mogom the house-boy, and been reprimanded
and cuffed by _Mister_ Haggin, who had not smelled and did not
understand, and who had always to impress discipline on all creatures
under his roof-tree.

But on the beach, when the blacks, whose terms of service were up came
down with their trade-boxes on their heads to depart on the _Arangi_, was
the time when nigger-chasing was not dangerous. Old scores could be
settled, and it was the last chance, for the blacks who departed on the
_Arangi_ never came back. As an instance, this very morning Biddy,
remembering a secret mauling at the hands of Lerumie, laid teeth into his
naked calf and threw him sprawling into the water, trade-box, earthly
possessions and all, and then laughed at him, sure in the protection of
_Mister_ Haggin who grinned at the episode.

Then, too, there was usually at least one bush-dog on the _Arangi_ at
which Jerry and Michael, from the beach, could bark their heads off.
Once, Terrence, who was nearly as large as an Airedale and fully as lion-
hearted - Terrence the Magnificent, as Tom Haggin called him - had caught
such a bush-dog trespassing on the beach and given him a delightful
thrashing, in which Jerry and Michael, and Patsy and Kathleen, who were
at the time alive, had joined with many shrill yelps and sharp nips.
Jerry had never forgotten the ecstasy of the hair, unmistakably doggy in
scent, which had filled his mouth at his one successful nip. Bush-dogs
were dogs - he recognized them as his kind; but they were somehow
different from his own lordly breed, different and lesser, just as the
blacks were compared with _Mister_ Haggin, Derby, and Bob.

But Jerry did not continue to gaze at the nearing _Arangi_. Biddy, wise
with previous bitter bereavements, had sat down on the edge of the sand,
her fore-feet in the water, and was mouthing her woe. That this
concerned him, Jerry knew, for her grief tore sharply, albeit vaguely, at
his sensitive, passionate heart. What it presaged he knew not, save that
it was disaster and catastrophe connected with him. As he looked back at
her, rough-coated and grief-stricken, he could see Terrence hovering
solicitously near her. He, too, was rough-coated, as was Michael, and as
Patsy and Kathleen had been, Jerry being the one smooth-coated member of
the family.

Further, although Jerry did not know it and Tom Haggin did, Terrence was
a royal lover and a devoted spouse. Jerry, from his earliest
impressions, could remember the way Terrence had of running with Biddy,
miles and miles along the beaches or through the avenues of cocoanuts,
side by side with her, both with laughing mouths of sheer delight. As
these were the only dogs, besides his brothers and sisters and the
several eruptions of strange bush-dogs that Jerry knew, it did not enter
his head otherwise than that this was the way of dogs, male and female,
wedded and faithful. But Tom Haggin knew its unusualness. "Proper
affinities," he declared, and repeatedly declared, with warm voice and
moist eyes of appreciation. "A gentleman, that Terrence, and a
four-legged proper man. A man-dog, if there ever was one, four-square as
the legs on the four corners of him. And prepotent! My word! His
blood'd breed true for a thousand generations, and the cool head and the
kindly brave heart of him."

Terrence did not voice his sorrow, if sorrow he had; but his hovering
about Biddy tokened his anxiety for her. Michael, however, yielding to
the contagion, sat beside his mother and barked angrily out across the
increasing stretch of water as he would have barked at any danger that
crept and rustled in the jungle. This, too, sank to Jerry's heart,
adding weight to his sure intuition that dire fate, he knew not what, was
upon him.

For his six months of life, Jerry knew a great deal and knew very little.
He knew, without thinking about it, without knowing that he knew, why
Biddy, the wise as well as the brave, did not act upon all the message
that her heart voiced to him, and spring into the water and swim after
him. She had protected him like a lioness when the big _puarka_ (which,
in Jerry's vocabulary, along with grunts and squeals, was the combination
of sound, or word, for "pig") had tried to devour him where he was
cornered under the high-piled plantation house. Like a lioness, when the
cook-boy had struck him with a stick to drive him out of the kitchen, had
Biddy sprung upon the black, receiving without wince or whimper one
straight blow from the stick, and then downing him and mauling him among
his pots and pans until dragged (for the first time snarling) away by the
unchiding _Mister_ Haggin, who; however, administered sharp words to the
cook-boy for daring to lift hand against a four-legged dog belonging to a
god.

Jerry knew why his mother did not plunge into the water after him. The
salt sea, as well as the lagoons that led out of the salt sea, were
taboo. "Taboo," as word or sound, had no place in Jerry's vocabulary.
But its definition, or significance, was there in the quickest part of
his consciousness. He possessed a dim, vague, imperative knowingness
that it was not merely not good, but supremely disastrous, leading to the
mistily glimpsed sense of utter endingness for a dog, for any dog, to go
into the water where slipped and slid and noiselessly paddled, sometimes
on top, sometimes emerging from the depths, great scaly monsters, huge-
jawed and horribly-toothed, that snapped down and engulfed a dog in an
instant just as the fowls of _Mister_ Haggin snapped and engulfed grains
of corn.

Often he had heard his father and mother, on the safety of the sand, bark
and rage their hatred of those terrible sea-dwellers, when, close to the
beach, they appeared on the surface like logs awash. "Crocodile" was no
word in Jerry's vocabulary. It was an image, an image of a log awash
that was different from any log in that it was alive. Jerry, who heard,
registered, and recognized many words that were as truly tools of thought
to him as they were to humans, but who, by inarticulateness of birth and
breed, could not utter these many words, nevertheless in his mental
processes, used images just as articulate men use words in their own
mental processes. And after all, articulate men, in the act of thinking,
willy nilly use images that correspond to words and that amplify words.

Perhaps, in Jerry's brain, the rising into the foreground of
consciousness of an image of a log awash connoted more intimate and
fuller comprehension of the thing being thought about, than did the word
"crocodile," and its accompanying image, in the foreground of a human's
consciousness. For Jerry really did know more about crocodiles than the
average human. He could smell a crocodile farther off and more
differentiatingly than could any man, than could even a salt-water black
or a bushman smell one. He could tell when a crocodile, hauled up from
the lagoon, lay without sound or movement, and perhaps asleep, a hundred
feet away on the floor mat of jungle.

He knew more of the language of crocodiles than did any man. He had
better means and opportunities of knowing. He knew their many noises
that were as grunts and slubbers. He knew their anger noises, their fear
noises, their food noises, their love noises. And these noises were as
definitely words in his vocabulary as are words in a human's vocabulary.
And these crocodile noises were tools of thought. By them he weighed and
judged and determined his own consequent courses of action, just like any
human; or, just like any human, lazily resolved upon no course of action,
but merely noted and registered a clear comprehension of something that
was going on about him that did not require a correspondence of action on
his part.

And yet, what Jerry did not know was very much. He did not know the size
of the world. He did not know that this Meringe Lagoon, backed by high,
forested mountains and fronted and sheltered by the off-shore coral
islets, was anything else than the entire world. He did not know that it
was a mere fractional part of the great island of Ysabel, that was again
one island of a thousand, many of them greater, that composed the Solomon
Islands that men marked on charts as a group of specks in the vastitude
of the far-western South Pacific.

It was true, there was a somewhere else or a something beyond of which he
was dimly aware. But whatever it was, it was mystery. Out of it, things
that had not been, suddenly were. Chickens and puarkas and cats, that he
had never seen before, had a way of abruptly appearing on Meringe
Plantation. Once, even, had there been an eruption of strange
four-legged, horned and hairy creatures, the images of which, registered
in his brain, would have been identifiable in the brains of humans with
what humans worded "goats."

It was the same way with the blacks. Out of the unknown, from the
somewhere and something else, too unconditional for him to know any of
the conditions, instantly they appeared, full-statured, walking about
Meringe Plantation with loin-cloths about their middles and bone bodkins
through their noses, and being put to work by _Mister_ Haggin, Derby, and
Bob. That their appearance was coincidental with the arrival of the
_Arangi_ was an association that occurred as a matter of course in
Jerry's brain. Further, he did not bother, save that there was a
companion association, namely, that their occasional disappearances into
the beyond was likewise coincidental with the _Arangi's_ departure.

Jerry did not query these appearances and disappearances. It never
entered his golden-sorrel head to be curious about the affair or to
attempt to solve it. He accepted it in much the way he accepted the
wetness of water and the heat of the sun. It was the way of life and of
the world he knew. His hazy awareness was no more than an awareness of
something - which, by the way, corresponds very fairly with the hazy
awareness of the average human of the mysteries of birth and death and of
the beyondness about which they have no definiteness of comprehension.

For all that any man may gainsay, the ketch _Arangi_, trader and
blackbirder in the Solomon Islands, may have signified in Jerry's mind as
much the mysterious boat that traffics between the two worlds, as, at one
time, the boat that Charon sculled across the Styx signified to the human
mind. Out of the nothingness men came. Into the nothingness they went.
And they came and went always on the _Arangi_.

And to the _Arangi_, this hot-white tropic morning, Jerry went on the
whaleboat under the arm of his _Mister_ Haggin, while on the beach Biddy
moaned her woe, and Michael, not sophisticated, barked the eternal
challenge of youth to the Unknown.





CHAPTER II


From the whaleboat, up the low side of the _Arangi_, and over her six-
inch rail of teak to her teak deck, was but a step, and Tom Haggin made
it easily with Jerry still under his arm. The deck was cluttered with an
exciting crowd. Exciting the crowd would have been to untravelled humans
of civilization, and exciting it was to Jerry; although to Tom Haggin and
Captain Van Horn it was a mere commonplace of everyday life.

The deck was small because the _Arangi_ was small. Originally a teak-
built, gentleman's yacht, brass-fitted, copper-fastened, angle-ironed,
sheathed in man-of-war copper and with a fin-keel of bronze, she had been
sold into the Solomon Islands' trade for the purpose of blackbirding or
nigger-running. Under the law, however, this traffic was dignified by
being called "recruiting."

The _Arangi_ was a labour-recruit ship that carried the new-caught,
cannibal blacks from remote islands to labour on the new plantations
where white men turned dank and pestilential swamp and jungle into rich
and stately cocoanut groves. The _Arangi's_ two masts were of Oregon
cedar, so scraped and hot-paraffined that they shone like tan opals in
the glare of sun. Her excessive sail plan enabled her to sail like a
witch, and, on occasion, gave Captain Van Horn, his white mate, and his
fifteen black boat's crew as much as they could handle. She was sixty
feet over all, and the cross beams of her crown deck had not been
weakened by deck-houses. The only breaks - and no beams had been cut for
them - were the main cabin skylight and companionway, the booby hatch
for'ard over the tiny forecastle, and the small hatch aft that let down
into the store-room.

And on this small deck, in addition to the crew, were the "return"
niggers from three far-flung plantations. By "return" was meant that
their three years of contract labour was up, and that, according to
contract, they were being returned to their home villages on the wild
island of Malaita. Twenty of them - familiar, all, to Jerry - were from
Meringe; thirty of them came from the Bay of a Thousand Ships, in the
Russell Isles; and the remaining twelve were from Pennduffryn on the east
coast of Guadalcanar. In addition to these - and they were all on deck,
chattering and piping in queer, almost elfish, falsetto voices - were the
two white men, Captain Van Horn and his Danish mate, Borckman, making a
total of seventy-nine souls.

"Thought your heart 'd failed you at the last moment," was Captain Van
Horn's greeting, a quick pleasure light glowing into his eyes as they
noted Jerry.

"It was sure near to doin' it," Tom Haggin answered. "It's only for you
I'd a done it, annyways. Jerry's the best of the litter, barrin'
Michael, of course, the two of them bein' all that's left and no better
than them that was lost. Now that Kathleen was a sweet dog, the spit of
Biddy if she'd lived. - Here, take 'm."

With a jerk of abruptness, he deposited Jerry in Van Horn's arms and
turned away along the deck.

"An' if bad luck comes to him I'll never forgive you, Skipper," he flung
roughly over his shoulder.

"They'll have to take my head first," the skipper chuckled.

"An' not unlikely, my brave laddy buck," Haggin growled. "Meringe owes
Somo four heads, three from the dysentery, an' another wan from a tree
fallin' on him the last fortnight. He was the son of a chief at that."

"Yes, and there's two heads more that the _Arangi_ owes Somo," Van Horn
nodded. "You recollect, down to the south'ard last year, a chap named
Hawkins was lost in his whaleboat running the Arli Passage?" Haggin,
returning along the deck, nodded. "Two of his boat's crew were Somo
boys. I'd recruited them for Ugi Plantation. With your boys, that makes
six heads the _Arangi_ owes. But what of it? There's one salt-water
village, acrost on the weather coast, where the _Arangi_ owes eighteen. I
recruited them for Aolo, and being salt-water men they put them on the


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