Captain Shreve must tell him all he knew about the "king." He was intensely interested in the subject. Splendid material, you know. That romantic legend of Waldon's arrival in the islands—too good to be true, and certainly too good not to put into a book. Was Captain Shreve familiar with the tale?
How this fellow, Waldon, sailed into a Samoan harbor in an open boat, his only companion his beautiful young wife? Imagine—this man and woman coming from nowhere, sailing in from the open sea in a small boat, never telling whence they came!
He said this was the stuff to go into his book. Romance, mystery! It was quite as important as the later and better known incidents in the "king's" life. That was why Captain Shreve must tell him all he knew about the fellow. If he could only get at the beginning of the "king's" career in the islands. Where did the fellow come from? Why should a man bring his bride into an uncivilized and lawless section of the world, and settle down for life? There must be a story in that. Ah, yes, and he was the man who could properly do it.
Well, that was the way that writer talked. He talked so steadily nobody could slide a word in edgeways. Yet he said he wanted information. We wondered. If the ability to deliver an unending monologue, consisting chiefly of the ninth letter in the alphabet, is any sign of lung power, that chap didn't need any cod-liver oil or sea air. He could have given up writing, and still have made a good living ashore as a blacksmith's bellows! And as for the local color and information—well, he blinked through his black rimmed glasses at our immaculate decks, and said it was a pity they built ships for use and not for looks nowadays, and went on talking about himself, and what he could do with "King" Waldon.
Briggs, the mate, confided to me in a soft aside that the chap was making the voyage because he knew he had an audience which couldn't escape—unless it jumped over the side. Captain Shreve didn't confide; his face kept its accustomed expression of serenity, and he made no attempt to stem the author's flood of words. I was somewhat surprised by this meekness, for our Old Man is a great hand to puncture a windbag; but then, I reflected, the writing guy, being a passenger, was in the nature of a guest on board, and, according to Captain Shreve's code, a man to be humored.
We lay in the Stream, with a half dozen hours to pass ere we proceeded to sea. It was Sunday, so we were idle, the four of us lounging on the lower bridge deck—the Captain, Briggs, myself, and this human phonograph. It was a pleasant day, and we would have enjoyed the loaf in the warm afternoon sunshine, had it not been for the unending drivel of the passenger. I enjoyed it anyway, for even though the ears be filled with a buzzing, the eyes are free, and San Francisco Bay is an interesting place.
". . . and the critics all agree," the passenger rambled on, "that my genius is proved by my amazingly accurate portraits of character. I have the gift. That is why I shall do 'King' Waldon so well. I need but a mental image of the man to make him live again. You must tell me what he looked like, Captain. Is it true, as I have been told, he was such a giant of a man, and possessed of such enormous physical strength? And that his hair retained its yellow luster even in old age? And that he had a great scar on his face, or head, about which he never spoke? Ah, yes, you must tell me about him, Captain."