Islands in the Stream Part 3, Chapter 1 Summary

Ernest Hemingway

Part 3, Chapter 1 Summary

Thomas Hudson patrols the waters of the Caribbean Sea, searching the islands of the Gulf Stream for signs of Nazis. As he patrols the beach of a seemingly deserted island with his troop of Basque irregular soldiers, he sees no sign of the shacks that he knew used to be there—nor are there any boats. He double-checks with his mate to make sure they are in the right location. The mate assures him that there should be a village there. Thomas Hudson moves the cruiser closer to the beach.

Thomas Hudson orders his mate to take three of the men and go on shore to investigate. The men are to take on the disguise of a team of scientists, carrying no weapons but machetes and wearing no uniforms but wide straw hats. While they row ashore, Thomas Hudson thinks that he should have gone with them, but he is exhausted from work and lack of sleep. He dozes until the men return. He can tell from the looks on their faces that something is wrong. The mate reports that all the shacks were burned about a week ago. Bodies of both men and women lie in the ashes, partially devoured by land crabs. Thomas Hudson asks if they brought back water. One of the Basques, Ara, replies that he did and that he tasted it to see if it was all right. Thomas Hudson says this was not a good idea because it might have been poisoned.

Thomas Hudson decides he must go ashore after all. He takes a gun, a knife, and a spoon. On the beach he and his men spread out and look for clues as to who murdered the villagers. Thomas Hudson looks out at the sea, where the wind blows heavily but without any sign of rain. He reflects that people are always waiting for something that never comes. He searches the sand for clues but finds nothing. He uses the spoon to dig into the charred bodies and finds bullets. A crab approaches him with signs of attack. Thomas Hudson pulls out his revolver and shoots it.

Thomas Hudson goes back to the beach and sees one of the men, Willie, diving for conchs. He washes off the bullets to examine them more closely. They are from a German machine pistol. When he shows this to some of the other men, they are very happy. As he waits for all the men to return, he looks at the landscape with the eye of the artist he is. He is confident that Ara will find something. He lies back on the sand and waits. He promises his pistol that he will find something larger than crabs for it to kill.