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The Ebb-Tide: 10/06/07
I read the Ebb-Tide for the Classics Challenge. Stevenson and his stepson, Lloyd Osbourne tell a modern (contemporary for when it was written) tale of pirates in the South Pacific. These are not the "pieces of eight" pirates of their most famous collaboration, Treasure Island. Instead these are more akin with modern smugglers.
The book follows three men down on their luck, stuck on Tahiti for a variety of reasons. They are all recovering from influenza which had been brought to the island on one of the recent ships. Each man is going by an assumed name having failed a number of times at various enterprises and found it best to start afresh where creditors or the authorities can't find them as easily.
An abandoned schooner where the crew had died of small pox picked while in port at San Francisco gives this trio a chance at redemption. Rather than do the sensible thing, they decide to take the ship and it's cargo and play at being pirates (of the sort from Treasure Island) for its maiden voyage. Unfortunately for them, they are quickly ensnared by modern day pirates.
While the story itself is both short and simplistic compared to some of Stevenson's other works, it is a wonderful exploration of character. Each of the three men are well fleshed characters with their own back stories and reasons for their failures.