Wake of the Red Witch
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"This is a ruthless story of a ship with three lives, sailed by men determined to win revenge, money, and power from the sea. It is a story of intense, tropical passion, expressed both in the desire of man for woman and in the conflict of men with each other. More, it is the story of the power which hate can attain when it drives coldly toward revenge, and of how, once achieved, that power sucks in all, even those who are themselves possessed of the devil. It is storytelling in the grand manner - no thin thread but many tough strands rolled into a richly colored whole.

"Sam Rosen, the trader, has come with his inscrutable partner, Ralls, ostensibly to hunt for pearls in the lagoon off the South Sea island of Little Soembawa. But there is another reason, a richer treasure, that has drawn the two of them, in their aged schooner, to this part of the world. When Mayrant Sidneye, head of the great trading firm of Batjak, Ltd., reveals his interest in the schooner and its crew; when van Schreeven, also of Batjak, whose yacht, with the lovely Teleia on board, has anchored in the lagoon, tries to induce Sam to leave Ralls, Sam is forced to realize very clearly why they have all come to this spot. They are in the wake of the Red Witch, owned by Batjak, and sunk with a cargo of gold bullion, when Ralls was her captain. Ralls alone knows where she sank!

"Obviously, a trap has been laid, and Ralls rages in a drunken frenzy, while Sam goes ashore to see Sidneye, and to fall in love with van Schreeven's daughter, Teleia.

"Here is the contemporary situation. What manner of men are involved? What forces are at play? After a fabulous dinner at Sidneye's estate, the latter reveals to Sam the background of his youth, his heritage of hate, his will to revenge, his obsession for money and power, which he fed with the winnings of the ship Quatrefoil, and with those of the same ship rebuilt as the Golden Hind. Sidneye also tells of his meeting with Ralls, equally obsessed, fearless, unconquerable, whom he made captain of the Golden Hind, and who became his rival for the love of Angelique. When the same ship was reborn for the third time, as the Red Witch, Sidneye and Ralls too, finally, reaped the whirlwind.

"Seldom nowadays do readers have such an opportunity to lose themselves in the world of high adventure, furious conflict, and tropical romance. The author is a writer with an enormous storytelling capacity, which he has used without restraint in this book."

From: Garland Roark, "Wake of the Red Witch," Boston, 1946

"Aboard our aging schooner, the Quean of Melbourne, we lazily inched out of a becalmed stretch in the Bismarck Sea, our yellow, weather-shredded sails hanging onto every pitiful breath in an exhausted sky; our one Diesel was minus the necessary fuel to drive us into a livelier clime. With course set north by east we checked position twice that morning, peering between times at the desolate horizon for a break in the eternal line; the lower Admirality Isles were overdue on our starboard bow. All was quiet on deck, and above; we coasted along without purling the water, it seemed. And when nature finds inclement mood, seamen tag along in her wake, leaning on the rail in listless manner, lifting an eye occasionally when a sail rustles or throws a shadowy hint at bellying - but only one eye; the other is too busy moving ahead or in retrospect. I eyed the sheeted sea with both the future and the past seeking a meeting place in that desolate present. I frowned out of it, seeing nothing but a cargo of hemp, gewgaws, and hodgepodge, all a mask to our inordinate desires."

From: Garland Roark, "Wake of the Red Witch," Boston, 1946

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