Fueled by those sagas, he leaves home at 16 and joins the crew of a sailing ship bound for the Coral Sea to harvest pearls. It is there that a tsunami shatters the boat and sets De Rougemont and his faithful hound Bruno adrift on a plank till they wash up on a desert island. They live alone for two and a half years, riding giant sea turtles and watching flying wombats, until another storm washes up three Australian aborigines: a young woman, her baby brother, and their aged father. De Rougemont and the woman, Yamba, quickly learn each other’s languages and fall in love. They construct a raft and sail to the Australian mainland, where De Rougemont becomes the tribe’s warrior king. More than 20 years later, homesick, he strikes out on his own for England.