Collection 1986 - Night Over The Solomons (v5.0)

Collection 1986 - Night Over The Solomons (v5.0) by Louis L’Amour Read Free Book Online

Book: Collection 1986 - Night Over The Solomons (v5.0) by Louis L’Amour Read Free Book Online
Authors: Louis L’Amour
Tags: Usenet
Cowan first sighted the man. There he stayed, alternately watching and dozing while Forbes watched. It was a long day. At any moment Besi John Mataga might decide to come ashore. That was what Cowan feared most; for going aboard the ship was an anticipated danger.
    There, he knew, it was one chance in a thousand. If they got him, he would be out of luck. He knew Besi John Mataga well enough to know the man had no mercy. As for Donner, if ever Steve Cowan had looked upon a face showing utter ruthlessness, it was his.
    Night closed in suddenly as it does in the tropics. Cowan walked back along the shore with Captain Forbes and Ruanne. When he came to the dugout he stopped.
    “Go out on the point about halfway,” he said, “but stay back in the jungle out of sight. This shouldn’t take me long. If I don’t get back—” Cowan hesitated, gazing down at Ruanne—“you’d better go back inland to one of the villages.
    “The natives are friendly if you treat them right. Then stay there until this war is over or you find a way out. But I’ll be back,” he declared softly.
    They walked on. Cowan loaded the gear he had concealed near the dugout and shoved off.
    It was deathly still. No breeze touched the face of the water, no ripple disturbed its surface. Clouds covered the sky. The heat was heavy in the humid, unmoving air. Cautiously Cowan dipped his paddle, and the dugout moved easily through the water.
    It seemed a long time before he saw the dark hull of the ship. For an instant he hesitated, fearing a challenge. Then he moved on, with scarcely discernible movements of his paddle. He worked the dugout toward the stern, away from the lighted ports. Except for those two ports, the freighter was blacked out. Even as he watched, their lights flicked out too.
    There was silence, heavy and thick. The dugout bumped gently against the hull. Cowan worked his way alongside with his hands, hoping for a rope line, something by which he could get aboard. There was nothing.
    He picked up the coil of line he had brought, adjusted the wrapping on the hook again. Sighting at the dimness where the rail was, he threw the rope. It caught and he hauled it in, testing the line with his weight.
    It was now or never. If he fell, there would be no need to shoot him. Sharks would take care of that. As if in answer to his thought, Cowan saw the streak of phosphorescence left by a big fish swimming by. He slipped the band of his carrying sling over his shoulder and went up the line, hand over hand.
    He crawled through the rail and crouched there in the stillness. There was no sound, no movement. Treading on cat’s feet, as though part of the night itself, he slipped forward.
    Amidships—that was the place. It was most dangerous, as there would be more chance of discovery there and less opportunity of escape. But the casing-head gas was stored there. Its burning would insure practically complete destruction. And this had to be a clean job. Not one Messerschmitt was to remain. A clean job—
    A sound amidships made Cowan crouch at the base of a winch. He saw a man walk out on deck, barely discernible in the darkness. The fellow stood there, looking toward the shore. Another man walked out.
    “Funny Sinker ain’t got a fire,” one of them said. “He was always one to like light.”
    “Act your age, Joe,” the other replied. “The Old Man wouldn’t let him have one. Too dangerous.”
    “Chiv,” Joe said suddenly, low-voiced, “you think Mataga will give us a square cut on this money? After all, look at the chance we’re takin’.”
    “Better forget it,” Chiv whispered uneasily. “We got to string with him. I want mine, but I ain’t no man to cross Besi John Mataga. You see what he done with the second mate? Cut him to pieces with his own knife. The man’s a fiend!”
    “Donner’s worse,” Joe said sullenly. “Me, I’m out for the dough. I’m gettin’ mine, see? No wise guy ever crossed Joe Gotto yet. I ain’t so wise to the

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