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Crusoes of Sunday Island


North Beach

"December the ninth. Just a year since we landed," Mrs. Bell told her family one morning, putting her diary away in her carpet bag.

It was the first anniversary of Tom Bell's reign as King of the Kermadecs. "Not much to show for it!" he said rather bitterly.

"Well, at least we can thank God that we've got through it somehow and that we're over the worst," was his wife's gentle rebuke.

"Couldn't we have a holiday? A picnic or something?" begged Hettie.

"Oh yes! Father, couldn't you take us all over to North Beach?" chimed in Bess. "The bush is quite dry now— Hettie and I went up the mountain yesterday."

The younger children joined in eagerly. Mary even ventured to clutch her father's hand imploringly.

"What about it, Mother? Shall we go? We could camp for the night. Then you could see what you think about moving over."

Mrs. Bell was only too glad to go. A year of frustration and hardship was all Denham Bay had had to offer. The North Side might prove much better. It could hardly prove worse.

Food was packed, also one or two wraps for spreading beneath the trees, and the Bells were off. Tom Bell carried his precious violin and his wife her little carpet bag.

As they mounted the cliffs, she looked back over the empty ocean.

"What if a ship should come today?" she said.

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"Put it out of your mind," was her husband's terse reply. "A ship's no more likely to come today or tomorrow than it was yesterday or last week or last month."

Fighting back the sad reflection that Captain Sherman's promise had actually amounted to no more than McKenzie's, Mrs. Bell pushed on, with little Jackie strapped closely to her back in a shawl, Maori pickanniny fashion.

The journey from Denham Bay to the North Side was never easy. Years later, when a rough sheep-track had been formed, it could be made in a couple of hours, but now it took a good half day. Sunday Island distances were never to be measured by the mile, but by the time it took to cover them. Not only were there ravines and ridges to cross, hills to climb and descend, but fallen logs to crawl over, vines to cut back, broken branches and storm debris through which to force a way.

Early afternoon brought to them presently the muted thunder of surf breaking on North Beach. They came at last within view of the long Pacific rollers, riding in majestically in ruler-straight lines, one behind the other, to crash in clouds of spray on the beach.

They camped that night on one of the grassy flats reaching inward from the seashore. All next day they roamed happily on the terraces, on the sandhills, and round North Beach towards a shelf of rocks that thrust far out from the foot of the cliffs into the breakers.

"That'll be the landing for ships' boats when the surf's too heavy on the beach," remarked Bell, watching the waves as they climbed the ledge in a powerful surge and swept back in a mass of foam and broken water.

"Landing place!" echoed Mrs. Bell with a shudder. "It looks simply awful. Fancy if you missed your footing and were swept out to sea."

Bell laughed. "Nothing to be scared of. All you'd have to do would be to dive and swim out and come in again on the next breaker." 81

"Oh Bess! What fun!" said Hettie.

"We'll try it some day," agreed Bess with sparkling eyes.

Their mother gave a sharp cry. "You just let me catch you!"

"Yes Mother! No Mother!" chorused the girls. Their voices were meekly contrite. But their replies, although contradictory, meant the same thing. That they would take good care not to let their mother catch them.

"Don't worry, Fred!" Tom Bell caught the look of distress in his wife's face. "They'd be all right. But don't you dare try it! Do you hear me?" he added sternly, glaring at his daughters.

"No, Father! Yes Father!" was their hasty reply. And this time they certainly meant it.

All the same, Bess did try it later on. She had to, to save her life. And fortunately she proved her father right by coming in on the next breaker.

"Well, what d'ye think of it, Fred? Will it do?" asked Bell as they turned back the following morning.

"Aye, Tom, it'll do."

Neither remembered that with those very words they had dared the fates and made their ill-starred landing on the island a year before.

In happy mood, talking eagerly of the coming move, parents and children made their way back to Denham Bay. As usual the two older girls outran the others when they reached the foot of the cliffs and got to the hut first.

The door stood wide open.

"Father-mother! Come quickly!"

"What is it? What's the matter?" cried their father. He came running.

One glance told the story. The place had been ransacked. The children's beds were stripped. Clothing, bedding, tins and boxes were piled in confusion on the floors of the two bedrooms and the kitchen, where the boys slept in a partitioned corner.

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"Thieves! My God! Who was it? What have they taken?" Their father's shout of rage and distress set the little ones crying as he rushed from room to room.

They searched vainly for footsteps, for some kind of clue to the identity of the thieves. But the tides had washed away any footprints on the sand and there was only rough grass and loose pumice gravel round the hut. Nothing had been left in the hut by which the marauders could be traced. The Bells never found out who they were. All too plainly the place had been visited by some party of despicable sea-robbers who, finding a little home unexpectedly unoccupied, had ransacked it and sailed away with their loot. In the midst of the outcry and confusion, Frederica heard again with agonising clearness her husband's terse remark, "Put it out of your mind! A ship's no more likely to come today than yesterday or last week or a month ago!"

But a ship, perhaps a prowling "black-birder," had come.

It had taken away with it Mrs. Bell's most valuable possessions, the beautiful dinner service and the set of table silver she had brought from New Zealand.

It had also taken away not only Tom Bell's bag of money from the sale of his hotel, but his one and only good suit of clothes, and most heartrending of all, the treasured pile of music he had collected during a lifetime's wanderings.

It was a terrible ending to the first, all too brief holiday they had taken since their landing on the island.

Only the safety of his beloved violin saved Bell from complete despair in that first black hour of return.

"I believe Wilkins was right. There's a hoodoo on the island," said Bell unhappily to his wife that night. "Denham Bay has done its best to destroy us ever since we landed. I'll be thankful to see the last of the place."

"Surely the worst's over now, Tom," consoled his wife. "Things are bound to be better when we get over to the page 84 other side. This is a cruel blow, but I expect it will be the last."

She was wrong. It was not the last, nor yet the most cruel.

For Hettie and Bess, the move to the North Side proved an ordeal even more severe than the earlier hut building and goat-hunting trips. With heavy packs of household belongings strapped to their backs they struggled across the island laden like young packhorses. Only one trip a day could be made, and the weary children were thankful for an occasional respite when an unseasonable downpour made the track too slippery and the going too hard for them to set out.

But despite these lapses the weather remained bright and fine week after week in a Sunday Island summer at its best, so that only a rough nikau whare (hut) was needed to house their belongings until at last the move was completed.

Frederica Bell's earlier experiences during the long Motu Gorge ride had accustomed her to nights spent under the stars, and with her husband and children she now slept as soundly on a bed of leaves as in her comfortable bedroom at Denham Bay.

All that summer the gypsy life continued. But it was a life of continuous hard work. One of the heaviest jobs tackled by Bell and the girls was the digging out of the grass he had sown the previous summer. Hard as he had tried to save the seed from the rats, they had stripped every stalk bare before the hibernating season set in.

Now that his dream of ultimately running sheep was a step nearer realization, Bell set to work with Bess and Hettie at the laborious task of digging out all the roots and handsetting them on the North Beach terraces. Load after load the girls carried across the island, until ten acres had been planted by hand. And by that time, as Bessie was to recall eighty years later, "the Bells' backs were aching very badly indeed."page 85But they had achieved the near-impossible. In a short time they had the satisfaction of seeing a fine growth of soft green spreading swiftly across the brown earth.

The move completed, and other work well in hand, the building of a new hut began. The site chosen was a strip of land near the end of North Beach sandhills, rising steeply from the beach and named by the Bells, Low Flat.

The building of the new hut was an even harder job than the one they had tackled at Denham Bay, where the raupo grew close at hand. The nearest supply now was in a distant corner of the Blue Lake. It could be reached only by way of a rough mile of rocks on North Beach, a climb up the cliffs and a descent through heavy bush to the crater. Wading round the shores of the lake, the girls spent many days in cutting out piles of leaves, which Bell floated across to the other side on a catamaran of corkwood, lightest-timbered of all the native trees in the New Zealand and Sunday Island forests.

With the opening of the mutton bird season, Mrs. Bell became very busy. The first chicks, or boobies, hatched out in January. Within a few weeks the grassy hillsides and sandhills swarmed with them. Now that she had plenty of salt, Mrs. Bell set about preserving her first barrels-full of the young birds. The boobies were killed by a sharp rap on the head. After plucking, the head, feet, and one wing were cut off, the bird being held by the other wing for singeing off the down. The bodies were split open and cleaned, the legs tied together, and the two sides placed back to back, sprinkled with salt and stacked in a pile overnight. Next morning they were placed in a barrel of brine and after a few hours' pickling, taken out and hung in pairs across poles fixed to the sides of a roughly-built smoke-house of nikau branches.

All night long a smouldering fire of decayed pohutukawa wood, soft and moist, was kept going by Tom Bell. Since he was a poor sleeper, it was a job after his own heart. Sitting beside the fire, tending it hour by hour, smoking page 86 his pipe and inhaling the reek of the slowly-browning birds, he probably brooded upon the scurvy tricks the fates had played on him since his arrival on the island.

With far more certainty, however, he was also dreaming long-range dreams of the day when the terraces would be dotted with sheep, brightened with gardens, enriched with Garden of Eden orchards bearing luscious fruits of every description.

He saw it all in the drifting smoke. The coming of the King of the Kermadecs into ultimate possession of his kingdom!

And it was all to come true just as he dreamed.

The night watch ended and the fire having fallen softly to a pile of ash, the mutton birds, smoked to a delicate brown, were packed next morning in barrels, five hundred to a barrel in a good night's smoking. The birds were pressed down firmly beneath a board weighted with stones. As the oil from the fatty birds began to rise, it was poured off for cooking and the barrel refilled with more birds.

Mrs. Bell put down five barrels of birds that summer, more than enough to keep them supplied until the following season. A weight lifted from her spirit as she looked at the well-filled barrels and she offered up silent thanksgiving for the knowledge that, no matter what might befall, the menace of hunger and dearth was at last overcome.

The Bells never outlived their taste for the birds. But never would one of them be tempted to eat a New Zealand mutton bird, which they vowed had a fishy flavour entirely lacking in their Sunday Island delicacy.

The absence of a plentiful water supply at North Beach was the only serious drawback to the change-over from Denham Bay. It had hampered almost every previous attempt at settlement. The Bells discovered two or three small springs not far distant from Low Flat, which provided a more or less precarious supply. One page 87 was located on top of a fifty-foot cliff down which a trickle of water made its way to a shallow pool beneath. This they named the Dripping Well.

Another spring bubbled up in a shadowed dell a quarter of a mile from Low Flat, where hibiscus, pohutukawa and native shrubs flowered in profusion. The ground was carpeted with mosses and ferns, lit with chequered sunshine that filtered down through a lacy canopy of tree-ferns and palms. It was a sylvan glade in which Titania herself might well have held court with Peasblossom and Mustardseed.

Most fascinating of all the charms of this romantic dell was a group of tree-lilies, the sweetly-perfumed datura, once found in every garden. The slender ivory trumpets, falling in shining cascades amid the profusion of woodland greenery, were not only lovely by day, but in the warm evenings gave forth such an all-pervading, exotic fragrance, that the children named the place Nightbell Gully, and made it their favourite playground.

Many a picnic they held there, many an hour they spent in poking about in every nook and hollow. The discovery of a pile of scrap iron and rusty bolts, buried deep beneath a tangle of ferns and bracken, told its own tale of yet another pioneer home of dead-and-long-forgotten days.

Time and again they came across these sad reminders of earlier chapters in Sunday Island's strange history. Johnston had spoken of an overgrown grave he had found at the edge of the bush in Coral Bay, on the eastern side of the island. A broken cross had borne the inscription, "Sacred to the Memory of Dan Maher," he had said. Many a time the children searched for the grave, but they never found it. Perhaps some freak tide had washed out to sea all that was left of Dan Maher and his desolate resting-place. Perhaps the encroaching forest wilderness had buried every trace of them forever. Sunday Island held many such secrets.

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Gradually the tension of the precarious days at Denham Bay lifted from Tom Bell's heart, together with the sense of utter frustration that had plunged him into depths of depression such as he had never known before.

For their mother, there was a new joy, that of living high above the beach, instead of being shut in by great cliffs. Now she looked out on a wide spread of ocean, sometimes still as a painted picture on the windless days of that lovely summer.

The children's joy at having at last a beach where they could play and bathe in safety was unending. Bess and Hettie, long denied their favourite sport, went swimming whenever there was no heavy surf, their mother and father and the younger children often joining them.

For Hettie and Bess there was no joy comparable with that of diving through the translucent depths of a jade-green, toppling wave a split second before it broke, then twisting about and planing in at lightning speed on top of the breaker.

But their mother could never forget her horror of the sharks that had accompanied the Norval into Denham Bay. Neither her husband nor her children, however, seemed to give a thought to the peril that might be there beneath the sun-tipped breakers.

"Keep together, all of you," their father frequently warned, "and let the last man out look after himself."

That was all. The children went in together, came out together. Never once during all the years of their swimming from the beach did the Bells have trouble with sharks, although later on they faced more than one perilous moment of attack when out boating.

An unusual attraction that drew them to the beach was a stream of hot water that trickled, and sometimes flowed, across the sands at the foot of the cliffs in some link-up with thermal activity in the crater lake. Bess discovered it one day when she stepped into the stream to bathe her feet, throbbing painfully after a day's trudging over the page 89 rough mountain tracks. When the rising tide washed up the beach, the water became pleasantly warm as it swirled round the rocks at the base of the cliff in deepening pools.

Thereafter, the problem of warm baths was solved. The exhilaration of the following dash into the breakers was a joy that never failed. There had been similar warmth in a pool at Denham Bay, but being located in swampy ground, it had held no interest for the Bells, save that it was connected with a massive outcrop of volcanic rock jutting high up from the wall of the cliff. In wet weather clouds of steam would rise from the rock and remain hovering against the dark mountain side for days, a phenomenon visible for miles out to sea.

The Bells named it Steamburge Rock. An early pioneer of Sunday Island left it on record that during one eruption flames as well as steam were seen rising from the rock, but no such volcanic activity was ever witnessed by the Bells during their thirty-five years on the island.

The stream of hot water on North Beach has long since disappeared and Steamburge Rock no longer steams. These changes have no doubt been brought about by many years of heavy erosion of the cliffs and the gradual dying out of volcanic activity in the crater.

The work of clearing and burning bush from the North Beach terraces went on apace during the summer and autumn months. Several acres of ground were soon dug and prepared for vegetable gardens. Here Tom Bell planted the remainder of the seed brought from Samoa, also the roots of yams, taros and kumaras which he had managed to salve from the rat-wreckage of his Denham Bay garden.

As Johnston had truly foretold, the plants shot up now as though at the waving of a magic wand. The fertility of the soil was little less than a miracle. Sooner than Bell page 90 had expected in most optimistic mood, he was gathering his first quick-growing vegetables. By the time the supply of flour from the Canton was finished, his taro and yams were ready for gathering. Mrs. Bell promptly provided a substitute for bread so delicious that the family ate it in preference for the rest of their stay. Following a recipe given her in Apia, she first boiled the taro root, then cut it in thick slices, which were fried to a delicate golden-brown in mutton bird oil.

Just as they had given up bread, the Bells gave up eating potatoes. They had gone so long without them, that they now preferred the tropical root vegetables. The Sunday Island soil, moreover, was no good for potato growing. The climate was so mild, and the soil so rich, that the plants shot up into luxuriant tops, and produced only tiny potatoes about the size of a marble. After the first meagre crop, Bell felt he could use the ground to much better purpose. Potatoes promptly went off the menu.

North Beach provided several welcome surprises in the way of additions to the food supply. It seemed as though its wonders were inexhaustible, and the family began at last to believe that poor Johnston's tall tales were indeed not so tall as they had at first imagined. One of these "surprises" was a rare and delicious variety of kumara discovered by the children on the sand dunes at the back of North Beach. Johnston had made particular mention of this kumara, which he said had grown from seed planted originally by survivors from the wreck of a ship from the Caroline Islands. He was certain it would still be growing in the same place.

Bell had never seen this kind of kumara before, and he never saw another. Unlike every other variety, it had a smooth creamy skin, was very mealy and sweet, and grew to an amazing size. The Bells cultivated many more plants from the sandhill patch, the kumaras usually weighing four or five pounds each, as against the average page 91 weight of less than a pound for the New Zealand variety. One specimen, however, the only one on the plant, reached the extraordinary weight of eleven pounds, an all-time record, even for Sunday Island.

The children, fossicking on the sandhills, also made another astonishing discovery, a completely new variety of vegetable marrow, very large, with rose-tinted skin and deep-red flesh with a delicious flavour. More and more fervently did the Bells rue the day when a nor'easterly had driven them round the island to Denham Bay and to a year of misery and desperate food shortage.

To this catalogue of vegetable wonders, Bell himself now added a remarkable bean, a true wonder-bean, grown from seed he had brought from Tonga. This bean belonged definitely to the fairy story category, or in the Swiss Family Robinson's catalogue of fabulous horticultural discoveries. No stake was high enough to support the Tonga bean. With a vine as thick as a man's arm, it grew, literally, by leaps and bounds until it reached the top of the nearest tree. Then it turned round, and descended in a cascade of sweet-smelling white flowers. There were masses of small beans a couple of inches in length. They were not string beans, but grew in pods, and were shelled like peas, providing a new and delicious table vegetable.

Yet all these initial successes were but the forerunners of the Bells' eventual achievements in the growing of vegetables, fruits and flowers. Both Tom Bell and his wife possessed "green fingers" of the greenest order. Working in a growers' paradise, they succeeded later in establishing flower gardens and orchards which were to become famous throughout New Zealand and the South Sea Islands.

Within the first year of the move to North Beach, it seemed, indeed, as though the children's first pathetic dream-picture of Sunday Island as a second Garden of Eden were not so fantastic after all.

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Halcyon summer and tranquil autumn passed. The Bells' second winter brought weeks of bleak and bitter weather to the little home on Low Flat. A succession of, northerlies roared down on the island. Day after day the air was thick with clouds of spindrift from breakers that pounded the cliffs and piled their foam in great snowy masses like soapsuds against the rocks. No stars glittered in the winter sky. Every mountain peak was lost in mist and fog. A black cloud-cap pressed down on Moumoukai's lofty brow like a scowl.

Suddenly came a day sweet and clear, a foretaste of early spring. A brisk sou'westerly cleared the mists. Silvery clouds went sailing through rain-washed skies. Sunshine poured down on the clean-swept beach, picking out specks of gold in the sand, and the rock-pools held blue reflections.

The Bell children, excited as a flock of young birds released from a cage, went racing along the beach with the wind in their faces and masses of thick white foam washing over their ankles.

Tom Bell had gone across the terraces to cut out another patch of bush. Mrs. Bell was busy in the Low Flat hut after the long spell of bad weather, and the older girls were taking the children for a picnic on the sandhills that swept back from North Beach.

"Let's go right to the top," exclaimed Hettie. "The storm may have swept up something. You never know what you might find."

The wind buffeted and whipped them as they climbed the shifting sands. The little boys went up on all fours, looking absurdly like small monkeys. They stopped for a moment to get their breath as they neared the top of the ridge and looked back at the ocean. It was quite different today. No more towering breakers, but a sea all moving and alive in the sunlight, rushing shoreward in a confusion of white-crested broken waves.

Then they pressed on, and digging their feet firmly in page 93 the sliding sands, mounted the ridge. A strange sight met their gaze. The top of the terrace, usually humped and tossed into sand-heaps, had been swept bare and flat as a table top. And here, wonder of wonders, was something that had been brought to light after the passing of a century or more.

Not buried treasure, but piles of white, broken objects like long, thin bones with a tiny bowl at one end.

"Pipes!" chorused the children in amazement. "Old men's pipes!"

And old men's pipes they were. White clay pipes, churchwarden pipes belonging to a day long past.

They gathered a pile of unbroken pipes and ran off home with them, chattering all the way, planning to come down to the sand-hills again with spades and dippers to dig for more.

All the little Bells went strutting around that afternoon with long churchwarden pipes in their mouths. Even father Bell was coaxed into filling one with a scrap of precious tobacco. Sitting solemnly in the midst of his watching family, he lit up.

But two or three draws were enough. "Too fancy for me!" he growled, laying the pipe aside. "I'd have to smoke half a dozen of the things at once to get anything out of them."

Bess and Hettie, always eager for a new experience, daringly pilfered a couple of small "fills" from their father's tobacco jar. Hidden safely in the depths of Nightbell Gully, they lit up for their first smoke. But it was not a success, although they puffed valiantly for fully five minutes. Perhaps it was the whalers' coarse shag, or perhaps it was because they swallowed most of the smoke. What they didn't swallow seemed to go prickling up into the top of their heads or down into the back of their noses.

"Silly old things!" said Bess rather shakily. She threw her pipe into a bed of ferns. "Why couldn't it have been page 94 hatchets or knives, or something useful? Even a few packets of candles or——"

"I feel sick!" gasped Hettie suddenly. And was!

The little ones were delighted with their new playthings. Several times they went over to the terrace to gather up more fragments, until one night another gale blew up and buried the whole lot deep in the sand once more.

The unexpected find of the pipes, of no importance in itself, whetted the interest of Bess and Hettie in the possibility of further discoveries in an immense sea-cave they had found on the eastern shore of the island. Its outward appearance was sufficiently menacing to rouse in them a sense of awe. The tunnel mouth was partly blocked by the trunk of an enormous kauri tree which had been swept hundreds of miles northward from New Zealand.

At high tide, Hettie and Bess would sometimes scramble down the cliffs and watch the waves come sweeping over the log, to break in clouds of spray against the rock walls of the cave entrance. When the tide was low, they once or twice made their way down on to the wet sand, and climbed over the log into the darkness beyond. But so far they had not ventured more than a few feet inside.

Inevitably the moment arrived when one looked at the other as they scrambled down the cliff and said "Let's!"

They made themselves torches of dried nikau leaves wrapped thickly round sticks and tied with coarse grass. They had no matches, but lit them in the way primeval man made fire by rubbing a boat-shaped piece of wood on a dry log until they got sparks, which quickly started a blaze in some dust-dry leaves.

"D'you think they're big enough?" Hettie asked rather dubiously as they took the first step forward into the wall of darkness beyond the cave entrance.

"Heaps! We won't be able to stay long. The tide's coming in. Gome on!"

The wavering light of the torches was not strong enough page 95 to penetrate the black depths of the cavern, but it lit up the high roof and showed the roughness of the floor of wet sand and jutting rocks. Twenty or thirty feet in from the entrance the cave contracted into a narrow tunnel which twisted this way and that into the heart of the cliff. The floor grew still rougher and more uneven, and the girls saw that the sides of the cave were slimy with oozing moisture.

"I hope there's none of those awful cave spiders!" said Hettie with a shudder. She feared no rat or wild cat, but had a thoroughly feminine horror of spiders.

"Don't see any," Bess reassured her.

With hearts beating rather faster than usual, the children pressed on. The possible discovery of buried treasure was quickly losing its lure.

"It doesn't seem to lead anywhere," said Hettie nervously. "I think we'd better go back. The torches won't last much longer."

Before they could turn round, the torches blazed in a sudden flare one after the other, and went out! At the same moment a cave spider dropped on Hettie's hand and ran up her arm. Her scream echoed through the darkness as she stumbled and fell flat.

"Oh Bess, Bess! Where are you? Give me your hand!" She clutched wildly as Bess found her hand and dragged her to her feet. "Let's get out! Oh Bess, which is the way?"

"I don't know! Let's feel our way along the side. Hold my hand tight, Het, and don't'let go!"

One behind the other, they groped until they found a wall, and fingered their way along its clammy side. But whether they were heading for the entrance, or stumbling deeper into the heart of the mountain, they could not tell. The echo of the breakers filled the cave with a monotonous rumble. It sounded like an advancing train. But it was impossible to tell where the sound came from.

It was the darkness that frightened them most and brought them nearer to panic than ever they had been page 96 in their lives before or ever would be again. This cave-darkness was so heavy and impenetrable that it pressed on the eyeballs, bringing to the children a suffocating sense of being shut tight in a narrowing space beneath a roof that was closing slowly down on top of their heads like an iron coffin lid.

Suddenly a shallow wave came racing over their ankles. They were trapped by the tide!

Too terrified even to scream, they stumbled round a corner of the tunnel. The roar of the breakers became louder. Not far ahead, a merciful glimmer of light broke the darkness.

They rushed forward and found themselves at the foot of a crevice that ran up into a deep rift in the cliffs. Clambering out into the blessed daylight, they sat for a while until their fright had passed.

Then they worked their way down to the edge of the cliff and looked at the waves now swirling over the log and breaking heavily inside the cave.

Bess shuddered. "Wasn't it awful! We might have been washed right out to sea," she exclaimed dramatically. "Or been starved to death. No one would ever have known what had become of us." It was a highly exciting thought.

But Hettie's thoughts were running on other lines. They were safe and sound. The spider hadn't bitten her. It had really been a very small wave. Now it was all over, she saw quite clearly there had been nothing to worry about.

"I told you those torches weren't big enough. We could have gone in much farther." Her voice rang with conviction. "I wonder if——?"

"If you want to go in again, Hettie Bell," her sister interrupted her, "you can jolly well go in by yourself. I'll never go into that horrid old cave again, never, not so long as I live."

And Bessie's voice, too, carried conviction.

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Black and white photograph of tree fern on Sunday Island.

In the Sunday Island forest beautified by tree ferns
[Photograph by H. R. B. Oliver]

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Black and white photograph of Thomas Bell, barefoot on Sunday Island.

Thomas Bell in 1908 after thirty years on Sunday Island
[Photograph by 1908 Scientific Expedition]

Black and white photograph of Mrs. H. V. Dyke aged 85, formerly known as Bessie Bell of Sunday Island.

Mrs. H. V. Dyke, who as Bessie Bell landed on Sunday Island at the age of nine. This photograph was taken on her eighty-fifth birthday

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