Off the Mangrove Coast

Read this excerpt from Louis L’Amour to experience the unsteady alliance between crewmates as they journey together toward a shipwrecked treasure.

| March/April 2019

Photo by Adobe Stock/edouarrr.

There were four of us there, four of the devil’s own, and a hard lot by any man’s count. We’d come together the way men will when on the beach, the idea cropping up out of an idle conversation. We had nothing better to do, all of us being fools or worse, so we borrowed a boat off the Nine Islands and headed out to sea.

Did you ever cross the South China Sea in a 40-foot boat during typhoon season? No picnic certainly, nor any job for a churchgoing son — more for the likes of us, who mattered to no one, and in a stolen boat at that.

Now, all of us were used to playing it alone. The truth was that each was biding his own thoughts and watching the others.

There was Limey Johnson from Liverpool; Smoke Bassett from Port au Prince; Long Jack from Sydney; and then there was me, the youngest of the lot, at loose ends and wandering in a strange land.

Twenty-two years old I was, with five years of riding freights, working in mines or lumber camps, and prizefighting in small clubs in towns I never saw by daylight.

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