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This first episode taken from The Wizard issue: 1281 September 2nd 1950.


At the beginning of December 1831, I, John Caldicott, was looking forward to the Christmas holidays. A naval officer on half pay, I had, during the last few years, added to my meagre income by taking a post as schoolmaster at Highcliffe College. I got on well enough with the boys, but I found it a most monotonous job after my life at sea. Why, it seemed almost impossible that a mere four years ago I had taken part in the naval battle of Navarino, when the Turkish and Egyptian fleets had been destroyed by the combined fleets of Great Britain, France, and Russia. And now I was a schoolmaster! Thus, it was with a thrill of excitement that I opened an Admiralty letter addressed to myself and marked “Urgent.” In it was a message ordering me to report to my Lords of the Admiralty without any delay. At once I wondered what was in the air. Was I about to be posted to another ship – were my days as a schoolmaster at an end? As I journeyed to London aboard a post-chaise I lost a great deal on my excitement. I was still attached to Naval Intelligence and it was more than likely that an ordinary routine job of intelligence awaited me. Instead of spending Christmas with my relatives and friends, I should probably spend the time poking about one of His Majesty’s dockyards. But my excitement mounted again the moment I reached the Admiralty. I expected to be kept waiting some considerable time, but I had no sooner entered the building than I was hurried at once into the office of Admiral Sir George Frazer. I had served under him as a very young officer and I still regarded him with awe. His friendly smile put me at my ease at once. “You’ve wasted no time in coming, Caldicott,” he greeted me. “I’m glad of that.” “I came as soon as I could, Sir George,” I answered. The Admiral talked casually with me for some time, discussing among other things, the opening a few months before of the new London Bridge and the discovery in June, by Commander James Clark Ross, of the magnetic North Pole. In the midst of this conversation, when I was beginning to wonder why I’d been called to the Admiralty at all, Sir George suddenly said, “Are you enjoying your life as a schoolmaster?” “Well enough,” I replied, “but I’d far sooner be at sea again.” I saw that my reply pleased him. “Splendid, Caldicott,” he said. “Can you be ready to sail within a week?” “I can be ready to sail to-morrow if necessary, sir,” I said. He sat back in his chair and placed the tips of his fingers together. “It’s because you are a schoolmaster as well as a naval officer that you’ve been chosen for this work, Caldicott,” he said slowly. “At the end of the week His Majesty’s Ship Beagle sails from Devonport. She sets out on a voyage to complete the survey of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, as well as to survey the shores of Chile, Peru, and some of the pacific islands. You’ll hold no naval rank on board the Beagle. Instead you’ll travel as an assistant to the scientist Charles Darwin.” I knew a sudden feeling of disappointment. I had looked forward to treading a deck again and to taking an active part in the running of a ship. “Charles Darwin, sir?” I queried. Sir George Frazer shrugged. “He’s a scientist of some description,” he answered. “He wishes to do research work in South America. As far as you’re concerned, Charles Darwin is only an excuse for your being on board. If you travel as his assistant, nobody will suspect your real purpose.” That was the first time I had heard the name of Charles Darwin. I did not realise then that I was destined to assist one of the greatest scientists of all time – the scientists whose “Origin of Species” was, one day in the future, to set the whole world by the ears. “What do you know of Commodore Andrew M’Kay?” Sir George demanded suddenly. What did I know of Commodore M’Kay! Some few years before, the name of Commodore M’Kay had been on everyone’s lips. On leaving the Navy he had become an adventurer, and it was said that he was the most important man in the whole of the South American continent. For many years South America had been oppressed by Spain, and Portugal because of the wealth they could take out of it. At last, however, the breaking point had been reached. Revolution had followed revolution, and Brazil, the Argentine, Chile, and other small states had declared their independence. It was the wars in South America that had attracted the Commodore. He seemed to have a hand in every revolution, and had played a big part in the liberation of Brazil. “I’ve heard and read much about him, sir,” I answered. “I never had the privilege of serving under him.” Sir George Frazer picked up a slim heavily sealed envelope. “As far as we know,” he said, “Commodore M’Kay is still in South America. For some time we’ve tried to get in touch with him but all our efforts have failed. And that’s the reason you will be travelling on the Beagle as Charles Darwin’s assistant. Your job is to locate Commodore M’Kay and to give him this letter. Always carry it in secret upon your person.” He came to his feet then and when he spoke again, his voice was quite but impressive. “This country needs the services of Commodore M’Kay again,” he said. “There’s work to be done and it is work that can only be carried out by the Commodore. Once you’ve located him you’ll remain with him until he finally steps ashore at an English port. This country still has many enemies, Caldicott, and there’s one country in particular that would do everything in its power to prevent the return of the Commodore.” Sir George held out the letter to me and, taking it from him. I carefully tucked it away in an inside pocket. “I’ll do my utmost, sir,” I said. Things happened with bewildering rapidity after that. In less than week I was at Devonport with my sea-chest, and only a sailor will understand my feelings when I climbed the side of the Beagle. She was a ten-gun brig of two hundred and thirty-five tons, under the command of Captain Fitzroy. This was lucky for me for I had sailed under him once before. Captain Fitzroy must have had his own orders for he greeted me as though I were a stranger. “Welcome aboard, Mr Caldicott,” he said. “The Admiralty warned me some days ago of your arrival and I’ve had a cabin prepared for you. Because of shortage of space I’m afraid you must share it with Mr Darwin’s other assistant, Mr Cornelius Smith.” My eyebrows lifted a little. Then Charles Darwin was going to be accompanied by two assistants. I quickly realised that this Cornelius Smith must be a real scientist and probably a man who had been engaged by Charles Darwin himself. I was taken below decks by Captain Fitzroy. I knew all about the cramped quarters of a warship and so the smallness of the cabin came as no surprise to me. There were two men inside the cabin and one of them caught and held my attention. “Mr Darwin,” said Captain Fitzroy, “your assistant, Mr Caldicott, has just come aboard.” Charles Darwin, a young man in his early twenties, looked at me in a strangely abstracted way. “Good afternoon, Mr Caldicott,” he said. “I promise to keep you busy the moment we set foot on land again.” He was about to turn away when he obviously remembered the other man in the cabin. “Oh,” he said, “this Cornelius Smith, my other assistant.” Cornelius Smith was a thin-faced, slightly build man and the thing that struck me most about him was the neatness of his person. He smiled at me and held out his hand at once. “We shall soon learn all there is to learn about one another,” he said, “considering that we’re going to share the same cabin and also work together. I’m very pleased indeed to make your acquaintance, Mr Caldicott.” Charles Darwin seemed to have completely forgotten my presence. He was busy sorting out what appeared to be a number of small collecting books. Cornelius Smith looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and then smiled. Somehow that smile seemed to forge a bond of friendship between us. It seemed as though Mr Cornelius Smith would make a very pleasant travelling companion. As soon as I had stowed my gear away I was back on the deck and sniffing the salt air again. At last I was back on a ship and I was about to start on a journey that might last for years. It was an exciting thought.


My excitement soon received a check. Twice the brig set sail and twice she was driven back to Devonport by heavy south-western gales. Instead of spending Christmas at sea we spent it in port, and it was on the 27th December that the Beagle finally left port and headed down channel. On the 6th January we reached Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, but were prevented from landing by the islanders, who feared that we might be bringing the cholera plague, for at that time Britain was suffering from a severe epidemic of the dread disease. The brig therefore continued on her journey and on the 16th January we anchored at Porto Praya in Santiago, the chief island of the Cape Verde archipelago, off the west coast of Africa. Charles Darwin showed great excitement as the anchor was dropped. “I must take every advantage of our stay here, Caldicott,” he said to me. “We’ll lose no time in going ashore.” I confess that the prospect did not appeal to me. I had already had several long conversations with the young scientist, and his knowledge had made a great impression on me. He seemed to be deeply interested in every living thing, plants as well as animals. I feared that long hours of boredom awaited me when I accompanied Darwin. Never was I so mistaken. It so happened that when we went ashore, Cornelius Smith did not accompany us. I would have welcomed his company, for I thought his conversation would have relieved the monotony a little. However, within ten minutes of being in Charles Darwin’s company, I learned more about seashore life than I had ever learned before. At the end of that day I was eager to accompany the naturalist on the second day. On this occasion Cornelius Smith came ashore with us but, as he said he still felt the effects of the voyage, he intended to spend the day quietly resting in the shade. Darwin and I walked slowly along the coast and the young scientist stopped at every sea-pool among the rocks. In each one he found something of interest. Presently we came to a fair-sized pool, and once again Darwin went down on his knees. “Ah,” he said, “here’s something of extraordinary interest. Do you see this cuttle-fish?” I knew it was quite a common thing for cuttle-fish—members of the octopus family—to be trapped in the pools by the retiring tide. I knew, too, that they could not be easily caught, for by means of their long arms and suckers they could drag their bodies into very narrow crevices and when thus fixed it required considerable force to remove them. Darwin took a folding ruler from his pocket, opened it out, and prodded the cuttle-fish. “Look!” he exclaimed. I was just in time. I saw the cuttle-fish dart, tail first, with the rapidity of an arrow, from one side of the pool to the other, at the same time discolouring the water with a dark, chestnut-brown fluid. “There he is now,” Darwin went on. “Look—he’s now in shallow water. Do you see what’s happening?” The cuttle-fish, when I had first seen it, had appeared to be of a brownish-purple colour, but now this dark tint had changed into one of a yellowish-green. “They have the ability to change their colour to blend with different backgrounds,” Darwin pointed out. “An excellent camouflage.” Once again the cuttle-fish darted across the pool and this time it squirmed into a narrow, underwater crevice, but it did not succeed in completely hiding itself. “I’ll show you something else,” he went on. “If I touch any part of the cuttle-fish it will become almost black. Watch!” Very carefully he dipped the ruler into the water and he reached towards the crevice where the cuttle-fish was hiding. “Quick,” Darwin said, “bend closer. I want you to see the effect of the prodding before the cuttle-fish discolours the water again.” As he spoke he seized my arm with his free hand and pulled me closer. In doing so he saved my life. Without any warning there was a sudden staccato crack of a pistol. I felt the wind of the shot, so near had the ball come to hitting me. “There!” Darwin exclaimed, “what did I tell you?” But I had lost all interest in the cuttle-fish. I had jerked myself erect and I was staring at a thin line of powder smoke above a large boulder. It was behind that boulder that someone had fired at us. Had the ball been intended for me or for Charles Darwin? Careless of the consequences I darted forward. Beyond the boulder there were dense bushes and I heard someone crashing through them. Whoever had fired the shot was already a good distance away. I raced through the bushes, but twice in my haste I tripped and fell. When at last I won free I found myself facing a narrow mule track. Far down it a horse was fleeing with its rider crouched low over its neck. Who was the man who had fired at us? My first thought was that it had been some island robber. But seeing the fleeing horseman it struck me that the rider was a white man and that he was dressed in English clothes. Gazing after I remembered the sealed envelope that was sewn into the lining of my jacket. Could it be that some news of my quest had leaked out? Had someone arrived at the island ahead of us with instructions to kill me and so bring my search for Commodore M’Kay to an end? On the other hand, if it was an Englishman who had fired the shot then it might have been someone from my own ship. This was a most disturbing thought. Did we carry a traitor on board? Slowly I went back to the beach and I expected a host of questions from Darwin. To my great surprise I found him still kneeling by the pool. “You’ve missed it all!” he exclaimed rather petulantly as I came up. “Every time I prod the cuttle-fish he seems to blush. The reason for that blushing is something I must discover.” I could only stare at him in amazement. Charles Darwin had been so interested in his study of the cuttle-fish that he had actually failed to hear the sound of the shot! It was obvious he had no inkling at all of the reason that had caused me to leave him in such haste. I marvelled that a man could so concentrate on his work as to be oblivious to everything else. Darwin had once again transferred his gaze to the pool and I realised that there was no point in mentioning the shot that had been fired at us. Later, as we made our way back along the beach, I was on the alert, but I saw nothing in any way suspicious. Back on board I kept thinking about the matter. Had an attempt been made to kill me because of my quest, or had the shot been fired by an island desperado bent only upon robbery?


On the morning of February 10th we hove-to, close to the island of St Paul’s. The highest point of the island is only fifty feet above the level of the sea and the entire circumference is under three-quarters of a mile. But in the early morning sun this small island presented an amazement sight. It looked like a piece of sculptured white marble arising from the sea. Darwin was intensely interested in the light colour of the rocks and proved that it was partly caused by a coating of a hard glossy substance with a pearly luster. We spent the day exploring St Paul’s and on this expedition we were accompanied by Cornelius Smith. On the island we found only two kinds of birds—the booby and the noddy. Both were of so tame and stupid a disposition and so unaccustomed to visitors that we could have walked up to and killed any number of them. We saw that by the side of many of the nests a flying fish was placed. Darwin decided that the male bird had placed it there for his partner. We noticed, too, that the moment we disturbed a pair of birds a large crab would immediately emerge from a crevice in the rock and steal the fish from the side of the nest. On leaving St Paul’s we came on deck next morning to find that the whole ship was covered with a thin layer of brown-coloured dust. This appeared to have fallen during the night, although we were hundreds of miles away from any great expanse of land. Darwin was quickly at work collecting the dust in tiny packets. For the next few days he did nothing but examine the dust under his microscope. From the result of this examination he was able to conjecture that the dust had been blown all the way from Africa! It was on February 29th that we touched at San Salvador on the coast of Brazil. Once again Darwin was eager to get on shore. We wandered a little way into the nearest stretch of forest and I caught my breath at the sheer beauty that surrounded us. The exotic colours of the flowers, the lushness of the grasses, and the glossy green of the foliage are beyond my powers of description. There was noise, too—such a noise that I have never heard under trees before. In fact that noise from the insects—grasshoppers, cicadas, and many others—was so loud that it could have been heard even on a vessel anchored several hundred yards away from the shore. From this moment, Darwin was all impatience until we made our first real port of call at Rio de Janeiro. Here we arrived at the beginning of April. I lost no time. I was the first man to land and I went at once to the English Consul. Of him I made inquiries concerning Commodore M’Kay. “I’m afraid I can’t help you, Mr Caldicott,” the Consul said. “No word has been heard from Commodore M’Kay for two years. “But surely the Commodore had friends!” I protested. “Isn’t there someone with whom he would try and keep in touch?” The Consul thought for a few moments. “Don Pedro Garcia might help you,” he said finally. “He has an estate about a hundred miles away.” “Then,” I said, “I must seek out Don Pedro Garcia.” “Normally I would try to persuade you against making such a dangerous journey,” the Consul said, “but it so happens that an English friend of mine, James Painter, has an estate not very far away from that of Don Pedro. Painter is in Rio de Janeiro now and he starts for his home to-morrow. I’m sure he would be glad to act as your guide.” Leaving the Consul to make the arrangements I hastened back to the ship. When Darwin heard of my projected journey he was delighted. “Smith and I will travel with you,” he said. “If we journey a hundred miles into the interior, I expect to come back loaded with specimens.” Horses were found for us and next morning we met Painter and his servants. Acting upon the Consul’s advice we had taken the precaution of arming ourselves. Banditry was rife in the interior and no traveller’s life was safe. It was an extremely hot day, and as we passed through the woods, everything was motionless except the large and brilliant butterflies which lazily fluttered about. We soon discovered that travelling in Brazil was no easy matter. At first I was charmed by the welcome given us by the proprietor of each venda or inn. Each time we were met with a low bow and a smile. On asking for a meal we were always told we could choose anything we liked. And then trouble started. “Have you any fish?” “Oh, no, sir.” “Any soup?” “No, sir.” “Any bread?” “Oh, no, sir.” “Any dried meat?” “Oh, no, sir.” Usually after waiting a couple of hours we managed to obtain poultry and rice. On every occasion we had to catch and kill the poultry ourselves. After three days we arrived at Painter’s estate. We were impressed by the way our arrival was greeted. The moment we were seen a large bell was set tolling and then a small cannon was fired. Painter’s house was like a huge barn, and in the sitting-room gilded chairs and sofas contrasted oddly with the white-washed walls, the thatched roof, and the windows without glass. Beyond the house were the usual huts of the negro slaves and, in the centre of a large yard, a huge pile of coffee was drying. When we left the estate next morning we were on our own. We were told that a day’s ride would bring us to the estate of Don Pedro Garcia, but actually it took us two days—due no doubt to our inexperience. The road we followed was little more than a forest track, and many times during those two days I had to go ahead with a machete in order to cut away the creepers and undergrowth. It was late evening when we sighted Don Pedro’s estate. It proved to be very like the one we had left the day before—the barn house with its surrounding outbuildings and with a huge mound of drying coffee. But no bell was tolled to greet our arrival and no cannon was fired. This was unusual, for we had been told that it was the accepted form of greeting. Painted had schooled us in the etiquette of travelling and on arriving in front of Don Pedro’s house, all three of us remained in the saddle. We knew it would be considered ungracious if we dismounted before being asked to do so. Suddenly two men appeared in the doorway of the house and one of them advanced to meet us. He was big and swarthy and he was clad in European fashion. “I am Don Pedro Garcia,” he announced curtly. We explained who we were. Don Pedro nodded briefly. “There’s no need to stay on your horses,” he snapped. “Come inside and I’ll find some refreshments for you.” We dismounted and I exchanged glances with Cornelius Smith. This was indeed a very abrupt welcome. We had understood there would be quite a ceremony before we were invited to partake of Don Pedro’s hospitality. Painter had declared that Don Pedro was a stickler for all the old traditions. Once again we entered a barn-like room where the rich furniture seemed to be completely out of place. Our host then spoke rapidly to his companion and the later hurried away. “I wasn’t expecting you,” Don Pedro said. “It will be an hour or so before I can have a meal prepared for you.” This news delighted Darwin. “I’m in no hurry to eat,” he said. “I’ve spent all day in the saddle, when I would have much rather been searching amongst the trees. We’ll return within an hour or so.” It must have been some sixth sense that prompted me to refuse to accompany Darwin and Cornelius Smith. I pleaded that I was tired after the long journey. I was still very curious about our host. He was not like the man I had anticipated meeting—there was nothing about him of the wealthy grandee. I had a smattering of Portuguese, and it seemed to me that Don Pedro’s accent was not that of an educated man. When we were alone Don Pedro began to question me. This, too, was contrary to tradition, for a Brazilian host considered it ill-mannered to ask personal questions of his guests. But Don Pedro wanted to know who I was, why I had come to Brazil, and he displayed keen interest when I told him of the Beagle. It seemed to me that for a coffee planter he knew a great deal about ships. I was so suspicious that I decided not to make any inquiries about Commodore M’Kay. I had been speaking to Don Pedro for some time when suddenly I heard a sharp cry. “What was that?” I demanded. “I thought I heard someone call out.” Don Pedro scowled for a moment and then he smiled. “Brazil is a land of strange noises, senor,” he answered. “Animals of all descriptions roam the forests, and you’ll know that our birds squawk rather than sing. What we heard was either the call of an animal or the cry of a squawking parrot. He was standing between me and one of the open windows, and he turned to gaze through it. I just managed to catch sight of the other man who had greeted us on our arrival, and it seemed to me he was making urgent signals to Don Pedro. Don Pedro turned quickly to me. “Your pardon, senor,” he said, “but my overseer wishes to see me. I shall not keep you waiting long.” He hurried out of the room, and then I saw him go striding across the yard. The man he had called his overseer had walked out of sight behind one of the outbuildings. I decided on the spur of the moment to follow Don Pedro.


Leaving the house, I approached the outbuilding from the other side, and, as I drew nearer, the murmur of voices came to me. I had reason to thank my stars then that I knew Portuguese. “You must give me the key to the cellar,” I heard the overseer say. “The prisoner seems to have slipped his gag, and already he’s started to shout. Give me the key and I’ll settle him.” “You’d better show yourself in the negro encampment,” the overseer went on. “Some of them are beginning to get restless, and it needs another view of your pistol to keep them quite.” I stood close against the wall of the outbuilding as the overseer started towards the house. I saw Don Pedro hurry off in the opposite direction, and then I headed after the overseer. I saw him go down a flight of steps outside the main building, and at the bottom, he unlocked a heavy door. Swinging it wide, he disappeared into the darkness beyond. On tiptoe I went down the steps, not knowing what I was going to discover. As I neared the open door, I took my heavy pistol from my pocket. I gazed into a dimly-lit large cellar. An old man was seated with his back against the wall, and he was bound hand and foot. A cloth had been tied over his mouth, but this had slipped down around his neck. “If I had my way,” I heard the overseer say, “I’d have put a bullet in you instead of letting you live. But make one more sound and I’ll shoot you like a dog.” He bent down to fix the gag back into position, and I stole up upon him. Something crackled under one of my boots, and with an angry yell the overseer spun upon his heels. One look at me and he pulled a wicked-looking knife from his belt. But I had not led naval boarding-parties for nothing. I did not waste a moment. Even as the man turned, I smashed down the long barrel of my heavy pistol on his head. The overseer crumpled up without a sound and lay still. I stared at the old man. “Who are you?” I asked. His answer actually came as no surprise to me. “I am Don Pedro Garcia,” he said feebly. It was the work of a few moments to untie him. “Thank you, senor,” he gasped. “You must be the man those ruffians expected.” “I don’t understand,” I said. “Two men appeared here this morning,” Don Pedro explained, “and it was obvious that they had ridden long and hard. They asked for hospitality, and I was pleased to welcome them as my guests. No sooner were they inside my house than they menaced me with their guns and then made me a prisoner. It was easy for them to terrify my poor negroes afterwards. When they placed me down here as a prisoner, they told me they were expecting an English visitor. They promised to free me again after they’d dealt with the visitor. It appears, senor, that you were to be killed.” Once again I remembered that shot fired at me when I had been on the Cape Verde Islands. I had been given proof now that my quest was known, and that men were working to prevent me reaching Commodore M’Kay! I made up my mind I would force a confession from the man who had called himself Don Pedro. I shook the overseer to consciousness, and then I forced him up the steps at the point of my gun. We entered the big room to find that the false Don Pedro had not returned. The faint echo of his angry voice came to me from the negro encampment. Five minutes later the false Don Pedro walked into the room, and he found himself staring full into the muzzle of my pistol. Slowly he lifted his hands. “I have found the real Don Pedro,” I said flatly, “and I’ve freed him. Now you’re going to tell me exactly why you wish to kill me and who gave you your orders.” The fellow scowled darkly at me. “I’ll tell you nothing,” he snarled. “I am a Naval officer,” I said coldly, “and I have killed men in my line of duty before to-day. I am going to count to six. If you have not started to talk before I finish counting, I shall put a pistol ball through your heart. I am going to start counting now. One—two—three—four—” I saw the way the ruffian’s bravado slipped away from him. He fully believed I intended to keep my promise, though I knew I could never shoot a man in cold blood. And he had even opened his mouth to start his confession when a figure came hurrying through the doorway. It was Charles Darwin.  He was carrying half a dozen cases, and he seemed oblivious of everything that was happening in the room. He certainly failed to see my gun, for he thrust the specimen cases upon me. “Take these, Caldicott,” he said. “Pack them safely in one of the haversacks. We’ve found so many varieties of new insects that I need other specimen cases. I—” “Look out,” I gasped. “These men are my prisoners and—” But Darwin had come between me and the false Don Pedro. The latter did not waste a moment. He spun on his heels and streaked out of the room. The overseer, forgetting his hurt, followed hard at his heels. Even then Darwin got in my way—he was upset because I had let one of the specimen cases fall. The result was that I heard the sound of hoof beats before I could get out of the house, and I was only in time to see the two rogues riding away as fast as they could gallop. Their horses must have been tethered at the side of the house out of sight. It was useless to think of pursuit, for our own horses were unsaddled and they were tired after the long journey. As I turned back towards the house I saw Darwin go hurrying away towards the woods. He was carrying another armful of specimen cases. Again I marvelled at the single-mindedness of the man. The chances were that Darwin still failed to realise that anything out of the way had happened. When Don Pedro had rested a little, I asked him about Commodore M’Kay. “He was a good friend of mine,” he answered, “and it’s a matter of great regret to me that I’ve not heard of him for so long a time. Only one man can give you the information you seek, senor, and that is General Rosas. You’ll have heard of General Rosas?” I had indeed. General Rosas was spoken of as one of the most successful military leaders in South America. Such a man should be easy to find….. Within a very short space of time the negro slaves had appeared and a meal was being prepared. That evening we are better than at any time since starting our journey. Don Pedro insisted upon our staying the night—in fact, he hoped we would spend many days with him. And that night something else happened. As on board ship, Cornelius Smith and I were sharing a room. Smith had retired early but I had sat up late talking to Don Pedro. When I reached the bedroom I saw a light burning inside. Opening the door I saw that Smith was seated at a long table, the surface of which appeared to be covered by specimen cases. But he was holding something in his hand—something he was staring at with a curious intenseness. He heard me at the door and instantly placed the thing he had been holding face downwards upon the table. But not before I had seen and recognised it. He had been holding a picture of Commodore Andrew M’Kay! What was Cornelius Smith’s interest in Commodore M’Kay—the man to whom I had to deliver the sealed letter from the Admiralty?

“I WAS WITH DARWIN12 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1281 – 1292 (1950)

© D. C. Thomson & Co Ltd 

Vic Whittle 2006