Rich sailed with the tide. Samoa disappeared below the gentle waves and pleasant southern horizon. He thought about how different this was than what he imagined sailing the islands of the South Seas would be. His mind not focused on the beauty of what surrounded him, but more on the possible dangers ahead. “Let’s call it intrigue,” he thought, “that will assuage my contrary thoughts.”
“What if Comrade Yuri does not want to come?” Rich thought sarcastically and replied logically. “If that’s the case, my job is done. I dust myself off and do some island hopping. I’m not authorized nor bound to arrest him or take him forcefully. Don’t forget, you have a sack of pearls to deliver in New Zealand.”
On the map, Manihiki appeared to be a little more than the pinpoint of the center of Polynesia. Though appearing in the center it rivaled near to being one of the most isolated of the Polynesian atolls or islands. The island of Rakahanga lay a little more than twenty miles directly north, the only other islands rested also in relative isolation over 200 miles away.
“Yuri sure knows how to pick ‘em.”
After three days Rich calculated he might be able to make visual contact with Manihiki on the sixth day.
At some point during the nights, it rained and it rained relentless and hard. With the suddenness it arrived it saw no reason to linger. The skies cleared and a luminous array of glitter dazzled the night. Shooting stars passed overhead like errant flaming arrows as if from a battle of another age.
On the sixth day, while eating a canned corned-beef sandwich made from sourdough bread, Manihiki slowly rose from the northern blue waters. Palms lazily swayed to the rhythm of the seas and the mood of the day. Rich began to circle the island clockwise and tried to reach someone by radio. There was no response.
Rich caught sight of a fisherman off the starboard bow pulling nets into a skiff. The sails were dropped and Rich motored within hailing distance. “Hello, is there a passage into the lagoon?”
“I pull nets, you follow,” the fisherman said. After he pulled in his nets the engine of the fishing boat started, the fisherman bounced along the surf until he steered in toward the island and an opening between two stands of looming palm trees. Inside the lagoon, the fisherman stopped his boat and pointed north. “Village.”
Rich slowly moved the throttle to half speed and soon a village of small native huts and a few tin roof dwellings appeared. Rich slipped alongside a wooden dock and secured The Odyssey.
As soon as Rich walked from the dock onto the sandy earth he was greeted by several young children. The all wore big smiles and welcomed him with a combination of native and English expressions.
Rich planed to first contact an official to inquire of the whereabouts of Yuri, but he thought they might warn or try to hide him. However, the children will blurt the truth.
“Do you know where the white man is?” Rich asked the children.
One child laughed, “You are the white man.”
The children giggled.
Rich looked at himself with feigned astonishment. “Yes, I am white; I have found myself. Thank you.”
The children giggled louder.
“Follow me,” a little girl said beckoning with a swinging arm.
Rich followed her and the rest of the children clustered behind him. They walked for a couple minutes before she stopped and pointed to a small hut. Next to the hut beneath a palm, a white man rested against the trunk of the tree. He was splitting open oyster shells.
“Go now,” Rich told the children and they slowly disappeared among the palms and huts of the village.