The Moon Pool
Chapter 7. Larry O'keefe
PRESSING BACK the questions I longed to ask, I introduced myself. Oddly enough, I
found that he knew me, or rather my work. He had bought, it appeared, my volume upon
the peculiar vegetation whose habitat is disintegrating lava rock and volcanic ash, that I
had entitled, somewhat loosely, I could now perceive, Flora of the Craters. For he
explained naively that he had picked it up, thinking it an entirely different sort of a book,
a novel in fact--something like Meredith's Diana of the Crossways, which he liked
He had hardly finished this explanation when we touched the side of the Suwarna, and I
was forced to curb my curiosity until we reached the deck.
"That thing you saw me sitting on," he said, after he had thanked the bowing little skipper
for his rescue, "was all that was left of one of his Majesty's best little hydroairplanes after
that cyclone threw it off as excess baggage. And by the way, about where are we?"
Da Costa gave him our approximate position from the noon reckoning.
O'Keefe whistled. "A good three hundred miles from where I left the H.M.S. Dolphin
about four hours ago," he said. "That squall I rode in on was some whizzer!
"The Dolphin," he went on, calmly divesting himself of his soaked uniform, "was on her
way to Melbourne. I'd been yearning for a joy ride and went up for an alleged scouting
trip. Then that blow shot out of nowhere, picked me up, and insisted that I go with it.
"About an hour ago I thought I saw a chance to zoom up and out of it, I turned, and
BLICK went my right wing, and down I dropped."
"I don't know how we can notify your ship, Lieutenant O'Keefe," I said. "We have no
"Doctair Goodwin," said Da Costa, "we could change our course, sair--perhaps--"
"Thanks--but not a bit of it," broke in O'Keefe. "Lord alone knows where the Dolphin is
now. Fancy she'll be nosing around looking for me. Anyway, she's just as apt to run into
you as you into her. Maybe we'll strike something with a wireless, and I'll trouble you to
put me aboard." He hesitated. "Where are you bound, by the way?" he asked.
"For Ponape," I answered.
"No wireless there," mused O'Keefe. "Beastly hole. Stopped a week ago for fruit. Natives
seemed scared to death at us--or something. What are you going there for?"
Da Costa darted a furtive glance at me. It troubled me.