Piecing together the history of Tol plantation
Photo Mission 49: After 7 months, rescue

Kiap's Wife: A stunning new Fitzpatrick novel


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The Kiap's Wife by Philip Fitzpatrick, independently published, July 2023, paperback, 370 pages. ISBN-13:‎ 979-8850819989. Purchase here from Amazon: paper $19.36, kindle $1.00
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EXTRACT FROM CHAPTER 1 - The two girls on the verandah of the missionary’s house looked down over the shimmering green coconut palms, over the rust-tinged roof of the sub-district office and across to the airfield.

The morning air was fresh with no hint of the heat that would come later in the day.

Fitz    kiaps wifeOne of the girls tipped her head on one side and said, “An aeroplane is coming, I can hear it now.” The other girl looked up, straining to hear the tell-tale hum of the distant motors. She smiled. “I can hear it too.” 

They stared at the sky in concentration, waiting for the tiny speck to materialise in the hazy blue above the ocean. They were still watching when the missionary’s wife joined them.

As they watched the speck turned into a burst of reflected sunlight and then into the positive shape of a Douglas Airways Britten-Norman Islander swaying sideways in the warmer air as it flew over the lagoon and settled gracefully onto the grass of the airfield and taxied, without haste, to the parking bay where the Assistant District Commissioner was waiting in his Land Rover.

They heard two quick but muffled reverberations as the pilot shut down the engines. After a few moments several passengers disembarked.

From the hill it was difficult to discern the tiny figures and one of the girls went to the low table on the verandah and came back with a pair of binoculars.

She trained them on the aeroplane and with a quick giggle passed them on to the other girl, who scanned the figures and then catching her breath passed them on to the missionary’s wife.

“Don’t be naughty,” the missionary’s wife smiled, “It’s just the new kiap arrived at last; the ADC will be pleased.”

“He’s very handsome,” the girl who had retrieved the binoculars said.

“I think you two need to get back to work before your imagination runs away with you.”

The two girls giggled delightedly.

“Come on, there’s clothes to wash and furniture that needs dusting. Pastor Lean will be most cross if he finds out we’ve been sitting around watching aeroplanes all morning.”

The momentary flash of light from the lens of the binoculars caught Patrol Officer Jack Forrest’s attention and he shaded his eyes to see what had caused it.

“It’s Pastor Lean, our dotty missionary,” the ADC, Jock Sinclair, said. “He’s watching us through his binoculars. He’s a nosy old bugger. He’ll be down here pretty soon to check you out and collect his mail. Is that all the cargo you’ve got?”

He pointed at the single metal patrol box and the russet coloured dog sitting patiently and unperturbed beside it.

“I left two more boxes in Rabaul, there wasn’t enough room on the plane for them. The Deputy District Commissioner said he’d send them on, along with my house cook, Reuben.”

“In that case I’ll book you into the guest house. McCreedy runs it behind his tradestore, it’s comfortable enough and he’s got a good cook. Your housemate is on patrol so there’s not much point in you camping in an empty house without your gear.”


“I forgot, welcome to Tabua and the remote back blocks of New Britain, I hope you like it here. Bit of a change from the highlands though, it’s pretty quiet and nothing much happens.”

“I think I could get used to that,” Forrest smiled.

When the aeroplane had been unloaded and all the other passengers had departed the pilot walked across to them. He had a blue canvas mailbag, which he gave to the ADC.

“Cup of tea?”

“No thanks Jock, I’d better get moving, couple more stops and a plane load of passengers waiting.” He shook hands with Forrest. “Hope you like the place, Jock’s pretty easy going, not like those bossy highland ADCs you’ve been accustomed to.”

They watched the aeroplane taxi onto the airstrip and swing round for take-off. When it had disappeared over the ocean the ADC turned to a short but sturdily built man standing at his side. The man wasn’t wearing a shirt and had bare feet.

“Do you want to chuck that patrol box in the Land Rover and take it to McCreedy’s place Sarge? Tell him he’s got a guest for a couple of days. When you’re finished park it back at the office.”

The man grinned and picked up the box. The ADC turned to Forrest. “That’s Sergeant Kris, he’ll will take care of your gear. Let’s go up to my house, the missus will want to meet you and she’ll have the kettle on.”

Forrest watched the policeman drive off with his patrol box. As he followed the ADC along the well-worn path towards the house he had his first chance to observe him.

He looked to be somewhere in his late forties, about the same height as himself and equally lean but was attired in a loose fitting and faded Hawaiian shirt, fraying denim shorts and well-worn leather sandals.

His reddish blond hair was quite long and he had a short and unkempt beard. The word that sprang into Forrest’s mind was ‘beachcomber’.

He had been expecting a standard Administration house but it turned out to be a rather palatial structure reminiscent of those he had seen on the properties of the rich plantation owners in the highlands.

It was set back in a grove of leafy trees with an expansive crimson flowered bougainvillea shading the wide verandah. As they walked across the lawn in front of the house a woman with long blond hair, wearing a bikini top and tight white shorts, appeared on the verandah and waved. 

“That’s my wife Sandy.”

“It’s very impressive,” Forrest replied.

“My wife or the house?”

“The house,” Forrest said quickly, “But your wife looks nice too.” He smiled because the ADC seemed pleased with the impression that both the house and his wife had created.


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Philip Fitzpatrick

An earlier draft of 'The Kiap's Wife' with several typos and a midstream character name change was inadvertently uploaded to the Amazon website. This has been corrected. If you received one of these copies and would like it replaced please let me know.

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