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New Guinea Gambit by Dwight V. Swain

New Guinea Gambit by Dwight V. Swain

New Guinea Gambit – One man out for revenge. One man out for gold. One woman out for both revenge and gold. All three lost in the middle of New Guinea, surrounded by headhunters and cannibals.

Book Details

Book Details

New Guinea Gambit – One man out for revenge. One man out for gold. One woman out for both revenge and gold. All three lost in the middle of New Guinea, surrounded by headhunters and cannibals.

John Daniels didn’t care what happened as long as he got Poulain, the odious fat man who was responsible for killing his brother. Anita Van Pelt, she-devil straight from hell, would give Poulain to Daniels for return of the gold stolen from her family.

New Guinea Gambit (1947) – John Daniels wanted to believe in Anita, but the little Dutch girl seemed a little trigger-happy behind the Luger
Chapter I – Fakfak
Chapter II – Man-Trap
Chapter III – Design for Murder
Chapter IV – The Enemy
Chapter V – Betrayal
Chapter VI – Turn About
Chapter VII – The Junkers
Chapter VIII – Cannibal Covert
Chapter IX – The Ngurus
Chapter X – Escape to Jeopardy
Chapter XI – Conflict!
Chapter XII – The Payoff

Dwight Vreeland Swain (1915–1992), born in Rochester, Michigan, was an American author, screenwriter and teacher. Swain is a member of the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame.

New Guinea Gambit contains 4 illustrations.

MA1947 09 New Guinea Gambit by Dwight V. Swain
Mammoth Adventure 1947-09


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Excerpt: New Guinea Gambit

Chapter I


FAKFAK, and footsteps. Footsteps in the night. Footsteps. Fragments of sound, softly slithering. Intermittent whispers, borne on the fringe of the southeast trades that lazed up past Tanjong Tongerai, across the miles from the Arafura Sea. Footsteps.

They were only an echo, at first, flicking at the rim of John Daniels’ brain. Background music. Like the ceaseless slap-slap-slapping of the Arafura’s swell those endless days gone by. Or the doleful sound that to the black Kanakas passed for song.

He ignored them, as he ignored all things outside his mission. Strode on, heedless. On, away from the rubble of the landing. On, past the bulk of the Netherlands New Guinea Trading Company’s warehouse, black-looming against the starless sky. On, toward the town atop the hill, where the sea-breeze blew stronger, away from the fever-festering swamps’ miasma.

The lights from the straggled buildings above were like beacons in John Daniels’ brain. They blotted out the steaming, pitch-black tropic night; the mildewed taste of moulding hardtack, brackish water; the stink of filth and fish and copra.

The lights, and the memories. Memories of Tom, and of Poulain. Twin portraits, fiery images, seared in the living tissue of his brain.

Tom. His only brother. Dead Tom, now.

Dead, dead, dead.

A sob welled up within John Daniels’ throat.

And then, Poulain.

The sob died in futile, paroxysmal fury.

Poulain. The smirking fat man. The human octopus, with tentacles in a hundred tropic ports. Evil, personified. The malign force without a body.

The murderer.

How long had he searched for Poulain? How many places?

Darwin to Soerabaja, Amboina to Timor.

But no Poulain.

A strange anticipation seemed to seize John Daniels’ throat. With a start, he realized that he was sucking air in through his mouth. His legs already ached with strain.

Grimly, he forced himself to slow his pace. Fought down the taut anticipation. He couldn’t let hope grow.

Not now. Why buck the odds. This was one more fool’s mission, doomed from the start.

He unclenched his fists. Stretched the ache from his cramping fingers.

It was then that he heard the steps again.

He was conscious of them now. Suddenly. Acutely. They echoed in his ears like the dull thud of a leaden hammer sealing a coffin’s lid.

It was, he told himself, absurd. This was Fakfak. A thousand people lived here, if you counted blacks. Why wouldn’t there be footsteps?

Without thinking, hardly realizing, he dragged his pace.

Behind him, those other feet dragged too.

A thin thread of despair ran through him. like the first edge of flame in a bamboo thicket. Not physical fear; that he could master. Rather, the racing undertow of panic that goes with forebodings of failure when failure must not be.

His brain refused to take it. After all, who had cause to follow him? He was only one more wanderer—penniless; unknown. . . .

Unless Poulain himself— His heart leaped. Could it be that it wasn’t a fool’s mission this time? That Poulain was here, and waiting—menace, incarnate? The woman had known his mission, hadn’t she? Would the fat man himself be less astute.

But no. It was absurd. This panic —only nature, exacting her penalty. Too many months of brooding. Too many hours of peril. Now, when he needed self-possession most, his nerves were beginning to crack. That was all. Once he got a firm grip on himself. . . .

But instinct was too strong. The months, the years, all close to death, walked with him. His brain could not control them.

Ever so casually, he stopped, as if to get his breath. That only—it was too dark to see, and any more overt move might rouse suspicion.

Behind him, the footsteps halted.

Still casual, he drew a deep breath, climbed onward.

Those other feet resumed their padding progress.

IN A way, it was a relief. It reassured him, gave him new confidence in his own subconscious. The momentary panic vanished, replaced by a note of lethal competence. He was pursued? He wondered. There were those who’d thought they were pursuing . . . He caught himself grinning wolfishly in the night.

Grimly, he forced himself to reason.

Could this be some straying head-hunter, down from the bush, on the trail of grisly trophies for the village douba house?

No. That was out. He’d been stalked by natives too many times before. There would be no sound of stealthy footsteps if this were a wandering Mai-Mai warrior.

No, this was a white man. Or at least, a man who wore shoes.

A local footpad, then? Some drunken sailor, on the beach and out to make a stake?

Again, no. He was too obviously poverty-stricken himself to hold the eye of any looter.

That left Poulain.

Not in person, of course. That would be too much to ask.

No. He could expect no more than a flunky. Some hireling hoodlum, as before. A piece-worker, probably: no murder, no pay.

Abruptly, he shrugged. What difference did it make? He was being followed. That was enough. The next move was up to him.

Deliberately, he fumbled a cigarette from the pocket of the tattered old Marine combat jacket that served him as a coat. Paused, while he scratched a light on the sole of his ancient, cracking, Australian-issue boots.

His pursuer paused with him.

John Daniels laughed beneath his breath. Sucked at the cigarette till it became a glowing signal light in the night.

Boldly, then, he veered off to the right. Headed away from the path toward a long, squat shed that showed black against the sky some twenty yards from the main track up the hill.

The steps behind him missed a beat. He could sense his stalker’s indecision.

Himself, he did not pause.

Instead, briskly, he strode on, stumbling noisily over rocks and roots and rubble.

It made a good show. He knew it. But with it there came a prickling between his shoulder blades, an icy finger on his spine. He made such a perfect target, bumbling along thus, even in the dark! He’d lost the footsteps in the clatter, too, and that made it worse. Because his pursuer had trailed him this far, he hoped that meant a plan; a time; a place. But he could not be sure. Not sure enough. It would only take one shot. . . .

His breath was coming too fast. He caught himself wishing desperately that he hadn’t had to sell his own Army forty-five for passage money.

He made it, after an eternity. Took his stand, in the shed’s shallow doorway.

Excerpt From: Dwight V. Swain. “New Guinea Gambit.”

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