It was the writing guy who drew this story out of Captain Shreve. He talked so much I think the Old Man spun the yarn just to shut him up. He had talked ever since his arrival on board, early that morning, with a letter from the owners' agent, and the announcement he intended making the voyage with us. He had weak lungs, he said, and was in search of mild, tropical breezes. Also, he was seeking local color, and whatever information he could pick up about "King" Waldon.
He had heard of the death of "King" Waldon, down in Samoa—Waldon, the trader, of the vanishing race of island adventurers—and he expected to travel about the south seas investigating the "king's" past, so he could write a book about the old viking. He had heard that Captain Shreve had known Waldon. Hence, he was honoring a cargo carrier with his presence instead of taking his ease upon a mail-boat.
Captain Shreve must tell him all he knew about the "king." He was intensely interested in the subject. Splendid material, you know. That romantic legend of Waldon's arrival in the islands—too good to be true, and certainly too good not to put into a book. Was Captain Shreve familiar with the tale? How this fellow, Waldon, sailed into a Samoan harbor in an open boat, his only companion his beautiful young wife? Imagine—this man and woman coming from nowhere, sailing in from the open sea in a small boat, never telling whence they came!
He said this was the stuff to go into his book. Romance, mystery! It was quite as important as the later and better known incidents in the "king's" life. That was why Captain Shreve must tell him all he knew about the fellow.
If he could only get at the beginning of the "king's" career in the islands. Where did the fellow come from? Why should a man bring his bride into an uncivilized and lawless section of the world, and settle down for life?
There must be a story in that. Ah, yes, and he was the man who could properly do it.