A Columbus of Space by Garrett P. (Putman) Serviss

By Garrett P. (Putman) Serviss

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Soon the boys were hard at work adding sheets of paperbark to the roof as well as a layer of wattle sticks. The daub would have to wait until the rain stopped. They stoked up the fire with dry logs and sat drinking tea and eating hot stew and potatoes. Their little world was snug but by midday Tom had waited long enough. ’ They took down their makeshift raincoats, large hessian sacks folded to make a cape, and dropped them over their heads. First, they visited the snares to bring in the night’s catch.

I’ll get another fish,’ cried Matt and swam to the shore. Tom watched the dolphins. They came closer and one brushed against his skin. The body felt like cool velvet. He saw it smile, and smiled back. Then Matt returned with a fish. ‘My turn. Give me the fish,’ ordered Tom. He held it out to the nearest dolphin and again the gift was accepted. ‘Get half-a-dozen fish this time,’ ordered Tom. Soon a new game began. The boys would splash, the 57 dolphins would come in and take a fish. A few minutes later they would do it all over again.

It’s the great white shark,’ breathed Tom, too scared even to speak loudly. ’ When they caught a whiting or flathead, a tommy rough or a small salmon, they gutted it, then threw the fish on the coals. After a few minutes they turned it over. When they lifted it onto a plate the skin and scales came off in one piece. They had learned this trick from the Aboriginal boys and girls around Albany. Their friends laughed when they cleaned out the internal organs. ’ The boys followed his example. Matt tried many experiments with his cooking, not always with good results.

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