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TWO ON TRINITY

by Frank Lillie Pollock

IN ALL the seas there are few more beautiful spots, none more lonely, than Trinity Island. It lies in the high longitudes and the low latitudes, and is a mere horseshoe of coral rising out of fathomless black water, overgrown with plume-like cocoanut palms, and a hundred long Pacific leagues from other land and from the beaten roads of ocean traffic. Beyond the occasional smoke-trail on the sky of a distant war-ship or a misguided tramp steamer, navigation never comes near Trinity Island; nevertheless, years ago, a great naval Power saw fit to seize upon the spot for a coaling-station.

Perhaps the excellent anchorage in the lagoon tempted to this step; at any rate a flagstaff was planted, sheds were put up for the good Australian anthracite, and provision was made for a resident keeper. Most of the coal is still there: the flag still flies, and the keeper is visited by a gunboat once in four or five months; but the same keeper seldom sees many visits of the ship.

Coulson accepted the berth because he had played the prodigal son in Melbourne and Sydney and had come to the end of even his husks. He knew it would be lonely, but he did not think he would mind. He would have time for meditation and for reading. He had always had a great idea of improving his mind, and he packed in his chest a "History of Europe," in seventeen volumes, green cloth, gilt, which he had got from a man who owed him thirty pounds.

It was a ten days' run from Sydney. They set down his chest in the galvanized-iron house on the beach, and Coulson saw the steamer evaporate into a smudge of smoke on the glittering horizon. Turning to look round, he could see almost the whole extent of his domain. The clustered palms rustled unceasingly in the wind, with the flagstaff standing bare among them, and the ugly heaps of coal below. The surf circled him rhythmically with its monotonous "s-sh—crash! s-sh—crash!" Sky and sea were as empty and shining as twin silver mirrors, and between the double immensities the island seemed like ...

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