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‘Salvage everything saleable, I suppose, and wait till the steamer calls.’

I had a feeling of resignation about the wreck that was suspiciously like relief, for the seaplane had not been in a fit state for the final hop to the mainland. Next morning I went up to the cargo shed, where two men named Kirby and Keith helped me to dismantle the motor. The zest with which they attacked the engine was astonishing. There were no motorcars on the island, and the only tools were those for one or two roughish launch motors. We managed everything until we reached the crank-case. The propeller boss had to be drawn off the shaft before the crank-case could come away, and this required a special tool, which we lacked. Kirby walked off, and came back with a gadget he had made himself, of two iron strips and some long bolts. With this he drew off the propeller boss, and freed the crank-case. A gallon or two of Pacific Ocean ran out of the crank-case. I said ‘I vote we knock off now, and the rest can be left until tomorrow.’

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You ought to finish the job thoroughly now you’ve started it,’ said Kirby. You ought to polish those valve seatings, and decarbonise the cylinder heads.’

‘They won’t hurt now if left for a few days,’ I said.

‘All right, then give them to me, and I’ll do them.’ He went off, carrying a sack full of pistons and valves. I went to buy some tobacco, irritated at being made to feel a slovenly workman. I could not buy any tobacco, because there would be no more until the steamer returned from Sydney in a month’s time.

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