Subsquently reprinted under the title Three
Real Bricks in the Sunday Times, Sydney,19
February 1922, page 2.1922.Frontispiece
CHAPTER 1 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT
MY word, she can travel!
I wonder how she will take the turn?
Round she goes, right on her heel, the beauty!
What wouldn't I give to have a flyer like her?"
The boy, whose enthusiasm had been aroused by the boat's
splendid performance, gave a sigh.
"No such luck for me," he said, turning to his chum.
"I'll have to be content with a little one-horse two-stroke
for the birthday present Dad promised me if I pulled off the
Double-Dux of the School and All Schools' Swimming
Well, I collared them both, and as Dad never breaks his
word, I bet it's the little one-horse for me to-morrow."
Ned Grattan, the speaker, like his chum, Jim Stanley, was an
Born of an Irish father and an English mother, he inherited
the characteristics of both races, being warm-hearted,
quick-tempered, and ever ready to forget an injury.
He had grit and determination written on his face, and
strength in every action of his body. Tanned brown, only a
few shades lighter than an Islander,
from exposure to the sun of the beaches, he was, and looked
no different from thousands of other Australian boys of
sixteen, who, living in the open air, leading clean and
healthy lives, become at this early age strong, well
developed, mentally and physically, and capable of holding
their own and a little more against all comers.
Ned Grattan could ride a surf-board like an Islander,
although only a few weeks had elapsed since the first
exhibition of surf-board riding had been given by Khanamaku
(sic), the world's fastest swimmer. Ned was not the
only boy who had mastered the surf-board.
Before the summer had ended, the ocean rollers were ridden
as they had never been ridden before, and the great white
of the old Pacific shook their manes and raced shoreward
with sun-brown surfers, riding them all out to a finish.
Gallant deeds and actions of self-sacrifice were so
frequently performed that the saving of life, or lives, from
the treacherous undertow went un-rewarded and unnoticed
except, perhaps, for a clasp of the hand and a heartfelt
"Thank you" from the
It became a point of honour never to mention a risk taken,
and a surfer who was unfortunate enough to receive a medal
for a gallant action carefully hid it away and kept 'mum.'
Such was the calibre of the boys of the beaches, the crews
of the famous eighteen-footers and the average clean,
sport-loving Australian, Ned Grattan
and Jim Stanley were not exceptions; they were typical
examples of Australia's budding manhood.
X FOILED AGAIN!
AFTER the departure of the stranger from the camp, Ned and
Jim put in their time in a way that suited them admirably.
They unearthed the surf-board that Old Ned had cached, and
during the afternoon they frolicked to their hearts' content
in the breakers.
Andy's instructions were to come straight to the boys, and
so, on his arrival at thcamp, finding it deserted, he made
his way to the beach, where the stranger had told him he
would probably find the boys if they were not at the camp.
As he topped the sandhill an extraordinary sight met his
To make sure he was not dreaming, he rubbed his eyes.
Andy had never seen surf-board riding, and the phenomena
which he witnessed made him uncertain as to the state of his
To those who have never ridden these white-maned horses of
the old Pacific the joys of the surfer can never be known.
The first mad rush, the lightning drop with outstretched
arms from crest to surge, as rapid as the dive of a seagull,
swirling rush shoreward, the rider, face aglow, with a shake
of his body like that of a water spaniel, again turning
seaward looking for fresh conquests, spurning the weaklings,
choosing only the mightiest of ocean monarchs as fit steeds
for his pleasure!
Ned and Jim had just topped a lovely roller as Andy appeared
on the scene.
They had swum out with their board fully three hundred
yards, and waited until the exact moment when an ocean
giant, making its mad rush upon the great barrier of
sparkling sands, arched his great white neck, and then with
spreading mane hurled himself at the shore, the hoary-headed
old racer having travelled across leagues of ocean to match
his strength against Australia's coast. The boys had caught
the giant when his fury was about to break, and, rising with
their surf-board, they had slid with a few vigorous kicks
down the mountainside of wateró a long break and a clean
break, and they were riding full and square.
"Try a double," yelled Ned.
Then Andy witnessed an amazing spectacle.
The surf-board was lost in the smother of spume, but two
figures could be seen three hundred yards away, standing
upon their heads on a great white breaker that was racing
shoreward at forty miles an hour.
Andy was amazed.
His thoughts went back to a miracle that he had read about
when a boy at Sunday School.
The same miracle was happening right before his eyes, only
everything was upside down.
Fortunately for Andy's peace of mind it took only seconds
for the riders to reach the shore, and then he breathed
He had not been witnessing anything supernatural, as was
clear to him, when he saw Ned and Jim resume upright
positions, and land their surf-board on the beach.