Mr. Johnston, a Scot, a former sailor whose traditional adventure stories usually involve navigational odds of one kind or another, tells perhaps his best one here, a sort of Robinson Crusoe-African Queen of the far Pacific. Smith, a survivor, a tough survivor of World War II, never ""got around"" to leaving an island where some of the years are spent in bringing up a half-caste boy, Bilk, who proves very worthy of the education Smith gives him, goes on to become President of a new Republic, with Smith's help -- a fact which he can never forgive -- and then determines to kill him (a little hard to swallow -- even with all this water). Then there is a lake of gold on top of a mountain which has just erupted -- but Smith has faithfully been climbing it to remove the gold and use it as ballast for his Mermaid. Now all hell breaks loose in the smoke of the volcano; Blik is after Smith, and Smith is joined by a gift who acts as his safeguard as he gets out of the estuary, down the river to the open sea. . . . A romantic story for the boy in every man.